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HALA GORANI TONIGHT

Theresa May Loses Key Vote in Parliament; Unrepentant and Pregnant, ISIS Bride Wants Back into UK; Thousands of Civilians Flee ISIS in Syria; Andrew McCabe Says Meetings Were Held at Justice Department to Discuss Using The 25th Amendment to Remove Trump from Office; Russia's Ambassador Talks Relations With Europe & U.S.; U.S. Blasts Allies On Iran Stance; U.K. PM May Loses Key Vote IN Parliament. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired February 14, 2019 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[14:00:00] HALA GORANI, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone on this Thursday, live from London I'm Hala Gorani. We're outside the Houses of Parliament.

Today Theresa May has suffered a humiliating defeat once again in Parliament. What does it mean for Brexit? Also, the London school girl

who shocked the girl when she ran away to join is. She has been found. She's nine months pregnant. Unrepentant. And hoping to come back to

Britain. Also, later this hour I'll be speaking to Russian ambassador. A wide-ranging discussion. Stay tuned for that.

Theresa May has suffered yet another big Brexit defeat in the building behind me. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SPEAKER OF U.K. PARLIAMENT: Order! Order! The ayes to the right 258. The no, sir to left, 303.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: All right. The Prime Minister was not in the House to see her government lose by 45 points. The main damage was inflicted by the

abstention of the hard-line Brexiters in her own party. Now just 43 days are left until the U.K. leaves the EU. The leader of the opposition Jeremy

Corbyn says Mrs. May cannot keep running down the clock.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEREMY CORBYN, LABOUR LEADER: Tonight's vote shows there's no majority for the Prime Minister's course of action in dealing with Brexit. Yet again

her government has been defeated. The government cannot keep on ignoring Parliament or plowing on towards a 29th of march without a coherent plan.

She can't keep running the clock and hope something shows up to save her day and save her face.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: Phil Black and Carole Walker are here. Very sad and lonely valentine's day for the Prime Minister because members of her own party say

they won't support her Brexit strategy. Phil, what does this mean in terms of the Prime Minister's negotiating with Brussels.

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The purists have shown they are not willing to compromise and willing to embarrass and further weaken the Prime

Minister on this occasion saying they were not prepared to vote for a motion supporting the government's Brexit strategy because it nearly

suggested or implied the possibility that Britain is no longer prepared to consider a no deal Brexit even though a no deal Brexit is still in theory

part of British law. What this means is that they have made it much harder for the Prime Minister to go back to Brussels because her entire pitch to

them right now is I have a majority in Parliament that says if you help me fix the much hated provisions regarding the border and the island of

Ireland then we can get the entire withdrawal agreement through Parliament. What this vote has shown that's not true. That majority is fragile and

fickle.

GORANI: Carole. Why does the Prime Minister try to appeal to these hard- line Brexiteers who are sharpening their knives possibly as we speak to unseat her. They have tried once before, Why doesn't she go the middle?

CAROLE WALKER, POLITICAL ANALYST: Because she needs their support if she will get anything through Parliament. As you've said this was a

humiliation. Tonight's vote was supposed to be a formality. Supposed to be reiterating the support for her deal so long as there were changes to

the backstop, which was what Parliament voted for a couple of weeks ago. What it means now is that when she goes back to Brussels, and says look, I

need some changes from the backstop they will point to this defeat and say there's no certainty you can get anything through. The Prime Minister's

own senior ministers upped the stakes on this vote by saying she need the backing of Parliament if she was going to get the concessions she need.

GORANI: Why was she not there? If this was such an important vote. She didn't speak or in the House from what we can tell?

[14:05:00] WALKER: Her strategy was to try to reduce the significance of the votes tonight but what it has mean, meant is it's even more difficult

for her to get the concessions that she needs from the EU and very clear that when she comes back here in two weeks' time as she said she will,

she's going to have to have something to put to Parliament and it's very difficult indeed to see what she will come up with that can possibly get

the backing of MPs.

GORANI: In case our viewers wonder what the ruckus is, this is the pro remain side with EU flags shouting out no to Brexit, no Brexit and we have

one of our faithful, I think his name is Steve. He has the extended pole no Brexit sign that he puts up so that shows programs that are broadcasting

from these platforms can see it. He's being accosted by police. But Steve is being escorted out. Anyway, so let's talk a little bit about what

happens next. Carole, you mentioned in two weeks' time what happens?

BLACK: So, in two weeks the Prime Minister said she will allow another debate. She will come back with a deal in theory if she's able to get one

or allow another amendable emotion like we saw today. That's interesting. We'll be so close to the existing Brexit deadline that the expectation, I

think, will really be that if at that point we're likely to see the majority of people in Parliament who do not favor a no deal Brexit

attempting to seize control of this in a more meaningful way and that's where you could more likely see an amendment of some type that seeks to

delay the Brexit.

GORANI: That seems to be the consensus. I want to go to Brussels. Erin McLaughlin is there. We were talking before the vote what a defeat could

mean for Theresa May. What's the view from Brussels about what happens now?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, LONDON BUREAU: Well, no reaction so far from either the European council or European commission.

In fact, rear not expecting anything. But conversations I've been having behind-the-scenes, diplomats and officials tell me they are not surprised

by the outcome of this vote, that they had doubt from the very beginning that Theresa May had a stable majority there in the House of Commons to be

able to push through any sort of deal she could reach with Brussels. And there is growing frustration and concern here as well with her approach in

particular. I was speaking to one EU diplomat shortly after the vote and he was expressing her, his frustration with the fact that she's trying to

appease in his view the more extreme elements within her own party, sacrificing the interests in his words of the country in order to maintain

party unity. He says that it's a strategy that's clearly not working. I was speaking to another EU official who says that they've been urging her

to reach across the aisle to the labor opposition, looking at Jeremy Corbyn's proposal, pushing for some sort of customs union to be put inside

the political declaration as a way as out of the impasse, a strategy that she so far has ruled out. So, in term of where things go from here, it's

entirely unclear. We heard from the Dutch Prime Minister in a series of interviews to newspapers earlier today say that Brexit basically is the

ball that's barreling towards the cliff of dover with no one on the U.K. side seeming to try to stop it. So, a lot of frustration here at this

point.

GORANI: Erin McLaughlin in Brussels. Thanks very much. Carol and Phil stay tuned we'll have more Brexit coverage and more of our special coverage

later in the program. I want to bring our viewers the latest out of Syria and the battle to oust ISIS from its last remaining stronghold. Thousands

of civilians are now fleeing the area to escape the fighting. This is their last little tiny sliver of territory. The question now is what will

happen to the people who are there? Some of them are foreign nationals and one particular woman is making headlines here in the UK. Shamima Begum

left Britain with two friends in 2015 willingly to join ISIS at the age of just 15. It sparked fears for her safety, fears she had been groomed by

someone online. Now she's been found finally in a refugee camp in northern Syria. She's 19 years old. She is nine months pregnant with her third

child and she says she's hoping to return to the UK. Begum spoke to a journalist from the "Times" of London about her experience.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHAMIMA BEGUM, JOINED ISIS AT 15: A normal life, the life they show on the propaganda reel, you know. Normal life. Every now and then there are

bombs and stuff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ever see executions?

Begum: No. But I saw a head in the bins

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was that like? These are heads of captives?

BEGUM: Yes. It didn't faze me at all. I have to think about my baby as well after my two kids died, I'm really overprotective of this baby. I'm

scared this baby is going to get sick in this camp that's why really want to get back to Britain because I know will be taken care of like, health-

wise, at least.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: how was it losing to children so close to each other? You can't have been left unphased by that?

BEGUM: he came as a shock, it just came out of nowhere it was so hard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[14:10:00] GORANI: I'll be speaking to the former chief superintendent in the metropolitan police about her chances of returning to the U.K. and what

happens if, indeed, she does return. But first Ben Wedeman is on the ground in Syria, very close to the front lines of the battle and he's

spoken to civilians fleeing the area as people and he joins us now from eastern Syria. It's not just this woman, it's also a bunch of other

westerner converts to Islam, whatever, all shapes and sizes that went to join is. Now they are being squeezed out. What happens to them?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's a good question. What immediately happens to them, those who leave and we've

spoken to Canadians, Russian, Iraqis and Syrians who were in there. They are bussed to the same camp where that young woman who spoke to the "Times"

is at the moment. But from there it's not all together clear how they are going to be dealt with. But what is clear at this point is that those

civilians still inside, whatever the reasons why they are there are in real danger. Kurdish soldiers, female soldiers frisk the veiled women one by

one. After they fled ISIS' last enclave in Syria. Bags are searched. Scissor, nail clippers confiscated. Soldiers say this morning they found a

pistol in one purse. They both inhabit this land but live in different worlds. This woman only identifies herself as Um-midiam, the mother of

Midiam. Her description of conditions, bleak.

UM-MIDIAM, IN A CAMP: There's lots of shelling, lots of wounded she says.

WEDEMAN: The men folk are held apart waiting to be questioned by Kurdish, American, French and British intelligence officers on the lookout for ISIS

members and foreign nationals trying to escape among the civilians. Prior to the launch of the offensive on ISIS' last sliver of land, Syrian

Democratic Forces officials said about 1500 civilians were inside.

What's clear officials have underestimated the number of refugees. Within the last three days more than 2000 people have left. There still may be

thousands left inside. Inside, and under heavy round the clock air and land bombardment. There is no clear picture of the number of civilians

killed and wounded. The accounts of those who escaped to this area where those are fleeing are registered impossible to verify. This family were

staying in a camp for the displaced inside the town. She says they left with bullets flying over their heads. Yesterday rockets hit the camp she

tells me. They killed civilians. As soon as the planes see movement they strike. They don't know if they are hitting ISIS or civilians. Hala was

in the same camp. There was hunger, fear, bombing, cold she says. Many women and children were killed but there was no ISIS there. As they wait

to be trucked to a camp for the displaced north of here there is no bombing. There is hunger, thirst and misery. Supplies arrive. They are

gone in seconds. Children jostling in the dust to get scraps. At this point we're operating in something of a news blackout. Journalists are no

longer allowed by the Syrian Democratic front to get anywhere near the front. The only place we can go is that spot where we spoke to civilians.

So, what we know is what we hear from those people there. As I said we can't verify their accounts, so what is actually happening regarding the

battle, to us at this point is something of a mystery.

[14:15:00] GORANI: And we're going to be discussing the case of this woman in a moment but you had an opportunity to speak to a woman who is a

Canadian citizen who traveled to Syria to marry an ISIS fighter. What did she tell you?

WEDEMAN: Yes. This was Dura, 28 years old from Toronto, Canada, where she was a university student. She came to Syria four years ago at the

insistence of her first husband who was killed. She got remarried and her second husband was killed as well. But what was clear from what she said

was that her experience living under the black banner of ISIS was not quite as grim as you might think.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DURA AHMED, CANADIAN NATIONAL LIVING IN SYRIA: The thing about ISIS or anything come and see. But when you come, it doesn't look like a war.

You're there. You're eating Pringels.

WEDEMAN: Was it worth it?

AHMED: Do I regret it? No. I have my kids here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WEDEMAN: What's interesting about this spot where we're meeting all these people coming out of the town is that, for instance, I was outside Mosul in

2017 when civilians were fleeing and they were delighted to be out from under is' control. We saw women taking off their veils, chain smoking

quite enthusiastically and generally saying all the Arabic obscenities you could think of when speaking of is. At this place, outside here, the women

keep their veils on. They have nothing for the most part negative to say about ISIS and, of course, almost all of them, in fact, with the exception

of two Canadians we spoke to, say they had nothing to do with ISIS and they insist that those who said their husbands might have been somehow

connected, all of them said their husbands either cooks or mechanics.

GORANI: Lots of cooks and mechanics and people who make tea for Isis once they leave the area that is controlled. That's for sure. Thanks very

much. Ben Wedeman is in eastern Syria with that reporting from near the front lines. Let's return to that British teenager and ISIS wife who says

she's hoping to return to the UK. The former chief superintendent in the metropolitan police joins me now. You were telling me you worked with the

families of these three girls when they went to Syria through Turkey. One of them we know was killed. Another might still be in Isis territory. And

this one is in this refugee camp.

DAL BABU, FORMER CHIEF SUPERINTENDENT OF LONDON METROPOLITAN POLICE: Yes. The girls went in 2015, I think. What we need to be they were children,

15-year-olds. They were radicalized over the internet. The families were brought in because the families were very disappointed at the fact that

they weren't told that they girls were being targeted. So, the police were aware of it. A girl had gone out from that school, in Syria, she's working

with ISIS to entice other girls to come out there. One girl had got on a plane and stopped -- she was sitting on the plane and taken off the plane.

Then these three girls went. What happened bizarrely the police gave a letter to these three girls we're concerned about them being radicalized

and we're concerned about their safety. They gave the letter to the girls. That letter was subsequently found in the girls' school bag once they were

gone.

GORANI: Wouldn't it have been wiser to give the letters directly to the parents.

BABU: Absolutely. The parents were very angry they weren't alerted. Imagine if your child was shoplifting you would have been told.

GORANI: This woman I'm sure you read and listened to the interview she gave that "TIMES" reporter, frankly it's a little chilling. She's so calm

and collected. I get it she's a child when she left. She's now 19. She was unphased by seeing severed heads in bin. She said life under ISIS

wasn't so bad except for the bombing. She speaks pretty casually about her first two kids dying before the age of 1.

[14:20:00] BABU: This is someone traumatized. This is not a normal way someone would speak. I would be horrified. I was a police officer for 30

years. I would be horrified to see a severed head.

GORANI: She doesn't sound like she was.

BABU: We're talk bag 19-year-old who lost two children. She married a man twice her age. This is not normal. What we need to remember is what she's

been through. What we need to understand is she going to be saying exactly what she wants to when she's in a camp with lots of ISIS people there.

GORANI: So, online and even off line a lot of people react with a lot less sympathy to this girl. They say she went willingly, she associated with

terrorists, enemies of this country. She chose to do this even though she was groomed, she wasn't 10, she was 15, 16. So, therefore, she shouldn't

be allowed to return to the UK.

BABU: We have to follow due process. Clearly safety of our commune is paramount. People have come back from war-torn areas, some will be

arrested, some will be questioned. She will have to go through that process. She may well have committed offenses. There's issues about the

child. She lost two children. She's got one child who is nine months -- she's nine months pregnant. That child will be born. These are complex

issues.

GORANI: I'm kind of -- well, what I don't quite understand and I think a lot of people don't understand is a 15-year-old is a child technically.

But how do you allow yourself to be indoctrinated to that extent that you abandon your own family and travel to a war zone to join a terrorist group

that beheads its hostages and enemies and do worst things to other people. Their families are ordinary moderate families.

BABU: I think you got that -- that goes the heart of it. Why would you

GORANI: What is it, though?

BABU: She was being radicalized on the internet. Her family, I took statement from families. The families knew nothing what the girls were

doing. These were ordinary families. I've seen girls in t-shirts and jeans, they are ordinary kids with birthday cake with candles. The

internet is a very dangerous place.

GORANI: But not all kids end up in this situation.

BABU: We've had a number --

GORANI: Is it a choice in the

BABU: Children are groomed. Children are identified. In this country, we've had a situation, a shocking situation where a young girl committed

suicide a few weeks, the coroner's inquiry was a few weeks ago where she was viewing images of self-harm and that encouraged her to actually end up

taking her own life. We had situation where people had identified young girls and young boys but more girls and utilize the internet to seduce them

and then rape them. This is nothing new. These girls were being radicalized in the bedroom on a smartphone.

GORANI: At least she's now a 19-year-old. We'll see how this situation and this story develops for her. I know others might return. Thanks very

much for joining us.

Still ahead a former acting FBI director has some stunning remarks about why he ordered Donald Trump to be investigated for possible obstruction of

justice. We'll get into secretive meetings in Washington. The Secretary of State has strong words what Russia wants to do in Europe. We'll discuss

that with Russia's EU ambassador coming up.

[14:25:00] COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: We're getting some dramatic new insight today about the crucial first days of the Russia investigation. The former acting FBI Director

Andrew McCabe is breaking his silence about why he ordered an obstruction of justice probe against the American President Donald Trump back in 2017.

He told CBS that he wanted to protect ongoing investigations into Russian election interference.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: I was concerned I could put the Russia case on absolutely solid ground in an indelible fashion that were I removed

quickly or reassigned or fired that the case could not be closed or vanish in the night without a trace. I wanted to make sure that our case was on

solid ground and if somebody came in behind me and closed it and tried to walk away from it they wouldn't be able to do that without creating a

record of why they made that decision.

SCOTT PELLEY, REPORTER, CBS: You wanted a documentary record.

MCCABE: That's right.

PELLEY: That those investigations had begun because you feared that they would be made to go away.

MCCABE: That's exactly right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: McCabe also said there were high level talks at the Justice Department about invoking a constitutional amendment to remove President

Trump from office. The Justice Department and President Trump are both pushing back on this. Let's bring in senior White House correspondent

Pamela Brown for details. So, Pamela, it's remarkable that Andrew McCabe are saying there were discussions about invoke the 25th amendment that

would allow for the removal of the President.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. He's saying in this interview with Scott Pelley that these discussions were happening when

he was the acting director of the FBI with Rod Rosenstein who was the deputy Attorney General. He was saying that these top officials and the

FBI and DOJ were so concerned in the wake of the firing of James Comey and before Robert Mueller was put in place as special counsel that they had

serious discussions according to McCabe to invoke the 25th amendment, which would allow for a legal mechanism to remove the President from office if

there's a belief he could no longer continue on with his duties. He also said in this interview that there were several discussions about Rod

Rosenstein wearing a wire and that at one point he took it so seriously that he spoke to the FBI's lawyer about this. Now we should note that Rod

Rosenstein denies this. He released a statement today through the Justice Department saying that these allegations from McCabe are inaccurate.

Factually incorrect, he says. But this is pretty amazing to think about the acting FBI director talking about removing the President from office

and having the deputy Attorney General wearing a wire around the President. It's extraordinary and we're learning about this from this book that he's

releasing and these excerpts from CBS and from other publications as well.

GORANI: He also said in this interview that he wanted to act quickly in 2017 because he was worried that he would be fired or dismissed, right?

BROWN: He was. He was worried. It was an extremely chaotic time after James Comey was fired and before Mueller was appointed. I believe it was

eight days. And during this time these officials would huddle together and talk about what to do next. There was concern that they need to do

something to rein in the President according to our reporting and Andy McCabe had concern the President would do to him what he did to James Comey

and that is fire them on a whim. So, Andy McCabe is saying he opened this obstruction probe into the President of the United States as a protective

mechanism in case he was fired as a way to make sure that the Russia investigation doesn't vanish without a trace as he says.

[14:30:00] GORANI: Yes. Interesting. Pamela brown, thanks so much joining us live from Washington. In a stunning reversal Amazon says it

will not be building a massive office complex in New York. You'll remember last year Amazon selected New York City and northern Virginia for its

second headquarters over bids from dozens of other cities. New York promised amazon more than a billion dollars in tax breaks to bring in new

jobs. But some said amazon was getting too much and voiced concerns how it would impact the local community. Amazon said it still plans to go ahead

with its plans in. Virginia. Still to come tonight the U.S. vice President attacks some of America's closest allies over the issue of Iran.

[14:30:03] From Venezuela to Syria to the Ukraine, Russia and the West find themselves that odds over many of the world's hot spots. We'll talk about

it with Russia's ambassador to the E.U. after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: Welcome back. We want to take a special look at Russia's relationship with the West. They seem at odds more and more these days.

And Venezuela, Europe, and the U.S. back on one side. Russia backs the other.

Russia's actions in Ukraine have brought sanctions from the West as well. And we all know about allegations that Russia has been interfering in

elections in the U.S. and Europe.

Let's talk about all of this with Russia's ambassador to the European Union, Vladimir Chizhov. Ambassador, thanks for being with us.

First of all, what's your reaction to what's going on with Brexit here in the E.U.? It's quite chaotic.

VLADIMIR CHIZHOV, RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE E.U.: Well, I think I can agree with that description. Brexit is chaotic. And it is certainly not

bringing anything good to anyone. The issue is who will suffer most.

GORANI: And in Europe, also, we had some U.S. visitors. I'm talking about Mike Pence, the U.S. vice president, Secretary Of State Pompeo as well.

They had a few things to say about your country. They said that your country meddles in foreign elections. They're talking about selling

Poland, some arms, and potentially posting more American troops.

What's your reaction to that? The vice president seems to say your country likes to interfere in other country's elections.

CHIZHOV: Well, my country is not in the business of interfering in other country's elections or more broadly in the internal affairs of other

countries. So I would say it's a habit of some other countries including your own.

GORANI: Including the U.S. is what you're saying?

CHIZHOV: Yes.

GORANI: In what way?

CHIZHOV: Well, you just have to look to what's happening in Venezuela and other countries.

GORANI: Well, Russia is certainly taking sides in Venezuela as well. But intelligence agencies in the U.S. have pretty much all concluded that

Russia interfered in 2016.

And I don't know if you saw Andrew McCabe who's the former acting FBI director telling CBS he was so worried that he might be fired. He quickly

started a probe into whether or not there was Russian interference or collusion between Donald Trump and Russia.

[14:35:13] Let me first remind our viewers and also have you listen to what Andrew McCabe told CBS. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDRE MCCABE, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR, FBI: I was speaking to the man who had just run for the presidency, and won the election for the presidency.

And who might have done so with the aid of the government of Russia, our most formidable adversary on the world stage. And that was something that

troubled me greatly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How long was it after that, that you decided to start the obstruction of justice and counter intelligence investigations

involving the president?

MCCABE: I think the next day. I met with the team investigating the Russia cases. And I asked the team to go back and conduct an assessment to

determine where are we with these efforts and what steps do we need to take going forward?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: Ambassador Chizhov, so many of President Trump's inner circle have been caught lying about their contacts with Russians. Do you think there's

nothing there, absolutely no cooperation between some of them and Russia during the 2016 election?

CHIZHOV: Well, to begin with, of course, I don't want to meddle in U.S. domestic politics. Who is fired, who is recruited within the U.S.

establishment is something, of course, which is not my business.

But as far as those investigations concerning possible Russia collusion and so on, our concern not a shred of evidence has been found as far as I

understand. So it's becoming a soap opera in the view of the rest of the world, I think.

GORANI: Yes. No evidence, but certainly a lot of people hiding things and lying as well.

And then there are these sanctions and I imagine that as a Russian this is upset to you. In the U.S. Congress, there is an effort to increase

sanctions on the banking and energy sectors and the name of the bill is called "defending American security from kremlin aggression." What's your

reaction to that?

CHIZHOV: Well, I'm sorry for American diplomacy, which I think is humbled by the current situation when the only weapon of diplomacy in the United

States is employing -- is imposing sanctions.

Sanctions is a tool -- first of all, sanctions is a tool that according to international law only the U.N. Security Council is in a position to

impose. Anything else is illegitimate by definition.

So whether I'm worried or not, not particularly but, of course, all these measures and all these decisions either by the executive or the legislative

branch by the United States or the European union or others, they damage our relations and they do not bring any good to the world stability and

progress.

GORANI: Ambassador, why do you think there's such a different discourse coming from the president on the one hand and, for instance, his vice

president and Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, in terms of Russia?

Because Mike Pompeo and Mike Pence had strong words for your country. Basically saying you're expansionist and they're siding with Poland in

terms of this effort to, you know, establish zones of influence and spheres of influence. Why do you think there's such a difference in the rhetoric

between the president and his top lieutenants?

CHIZHOV: Well, Hala, first of all, I'm not a specialist on U.S. politics. And I'm not a specialist on the United States as such. And secondly,

please don't try -- don't drag me into discussing our differences between various members of the U.S. political elite.

[14:40:03] GORANI: All right. So that's your right not to want to comment on that, but can you comment on what Mike Pence is saying, which is

essentially is telling Poland, telling countries in that part of the world, we're going help you and Russia has been meddling. How do you react to

that?

CHIZHOV: Well, that's, I think, part of the overall (INAUDIBLE) story that was started in the United States and the bias, unfortunately, managed to

cross the Atlantic and reach a number of European countries.

There has been no evidence whatsoever. I can give you my personal example. In 2016 during the days of the U.K. referendum on Brexit, I publicly

commented that Russia had so far been accused of everything except responsibility for the Brexit referendum.

Only 10 days later a member of the British House of Commons raised his hand in parliament and demanded that an investigation be launched into possible,

possible Russian meddling in the Brexit referendum. There was such an investigation in the U.K. --

GORANI: There were certainly some -- there were certainly questions -- there were certainly questions, ambassador, about the funding coming from

some pro-Brexit campaigners during the referendum.

And when you say Russia was not expansionist, of course, many of our viewers will think of one word and that is Ukraine and then the next word

they'll think of it versus Crimea. So Russia certainly has had some ambitions in that department.

CHIZHOV: Well, you know, Russia and Ukraine have long been parts of the same country. It was first called the Russian empire, then the Soviet

Union. So the two countries and the two nations historically have been very close.

And I hope that when this malaise of anti-Russia rhetoric passes, we will be close friends and brothers again with Ukraine.

GORANI: Vladimir Chizhov, the Russian ambassador to the E.U. joining us from Brussels, thank you for your time this evening.

We're going to take a quick break and we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:45:59] GORANI: The eyes of the diplomatic world are on Iran amid growing signs of conflict on the very same day that Russia's President

Putin and Turkey's President Erdogan met with Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence used the conference in Poland to condemn Iran as murderous. He blasted Germany, France and Britain for trying to

work around U.S. sanctions against Iran and called on allies to join the boycott.

We're covering this story from all sides. We have Matthew Chance in Moscow. Atika Shubert in Warsaw. And Fred Pleitgen in Tehran.

So let's start with Matthew Chance in Moscow. And what's happening in Sochi with this kind of parallel summit with the Iranian and Turkish

leaders just as Mike Pence is trying to rally his allies to his cause. Talk to us about what Putin is trying to achieve.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, it's a pretty stark contrast, isn't it? While on the one the side of Europe, if

you like or in Poland, they're talking about how Iran should be isolated.

The Iranian leader is busy in southern Russia meeting with his Russian counterpart and his Turkish counterpart as well, essentially deciding the

future of Syria, particularly since United States has announced it intends to withdraw its military forces from northern Syria.

There's kind of a scramble for control of that territory, the Russians along with their Iranian allies want to make sure that it's the Syrian

government that takes back control of those areas of northern Syria that are currently inhabited or occupied, if you like, by U.S. forces along with

their Kurdish allies.

The Turks want something slightly different. They want to essentially invade that area and to impose a buffer zone because the area is

predominantly Kurdish and they believe the Kurds, they regard them as terrorists and they believe that the Kurdish terrorists inside Turkey is a

safe-haven. So they want to establish a safe zone there as they euphemistically call it.

But President Putin and his Iranian allies have laid down the lure on that saying, look, that's not going to happen at least not without the consent

of Damascus, which is a consent is not going to be forthcoming.

And so, yes. It is interesting that these three countries nevertheless setting out what they believe is the vision for Syria in the future.

GORANI: And, Atika, meanwhile you have Mike Pence meeting, sort of a group of countries, messaging quite clearly that this -- what's supposed to be a

peace conference has turned into a conference to get as many allies together to, you know, criticize or even think of taking further measures

against Iran.

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, extensively, this was a conference to discuss all kinds of issues from

Syria to Yemen to the Israeli Palestinian peace process. Jared Kushner was here to that end.

But the reality was, as was underscored by the vice president in his speech today, this -- the focus was clearly on Iran. And as you point out, he

went out of his way to scold European allies for attempting to skirt U.S. sanctions on Iran.

The E.U. is still hoping to preserve that nuclear agreement which the Trump administration has unilaterally withdrawn from. So the reality is, this

conference has become a platform for the U.S. to sort of put the pressure on allies to fall in line in its Iran policy.

That's what seems to have been, at least one of the main missions of the U.S. on this.

GORANI: And what's the reaction in Iran? Fred Pleitgen joins us live from Tehran.

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Hala. Well, I think for the Iranians, as far as the Iranian government is concerned, they

believe that the Warsaw summit or the Warsaw circus, as they have called it, went exactly the way that they thought that it would.

On the one hand there wasn't much in the way of a final declaration on all of this. And they said from the very beginning at the summit was only

going to be about Iran and a lot of the invitations that were sent out by the summit would make the summit about Iran despite the fact that the U.S.

said it would be about bigger issues in the greater Middle East.

And obviously, it seems though Iran was certainly the dominating factor on the minds of at least the countries that were leading that summit.

Look, essentially what the Iranians are saying is they believe at that Warsaw summit, it was the United States that was setting the agenda and it

was essentially the Israelis were speaking for all the countries when Benjamin Netanyahu came out, went on limbo, what we talked about yesterday

that tweet that he sent out saying that the summit was essentially about countries coming together to prepare some sort of war against Iran which

then, of course, later was changed in a subsequent tweet.

The Iranians were all over that. And they said, look, the Israelis have shown their true colors and the Iranians have also said they believe that

the other countries taking part in that Warsaw summit were less than enthusiastic about having to take part in it.

[14:50:05] But I think one thing that Atika mentioned, one thing that you keep saying is absolutely correct. The Europeans really seem to be the

nations that both the Iranians and the U.S. are sort of vying over, if you will.

On the one hand, you had Mike Pence scolding them a little bit of time to get on board with getting out of the nuclear agreement.

On the other hand, you have the Iranians here in Tehran calling on the Europeans to essentially get tougher on the Americans saying, look, you're

in the nuclear agreement. Iran is in the nuclear agreement. Try to make America come back into the nuclear agreement, get tougher on the U.S. and

make sure that you can actually establish trade ties with Iran.

Of course, the Iranians not happy with that investment vehicle that the -- that the Europeans have launched. They say that it's not enough yet. It's

only an early stage.

So it really is an interesting diplomatic situation that's unfolding. But certainly a lot of fiery rhetoric coming not just out of Warsaw, but we've

heard that here in Tehran the past couple of days as well, Hala.

GORANI: All right. Fred Pleitgen, Atika Shubert, and Matthew Chance, thanks very much.

More to come including the latest from here at the U.K. parliament as Prime Minister Theresa May is defeated on Brexit again.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: We bring you back to our Brexit story here outside the Houses of Parliament in London. Yet another embarrassing defeat for Theresa May.

Joining me is Peter Goodman. He's a European economics correspondent for the New York Times. You're not British but you're observing this.

PETER GOODMAN, EUROPEAN ECONOMICS CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES: I'm not.

GORANI: But you live here.

GOODMAN: I do.

GORANI: And what's going on in the U.K.?

GOODMAN: Essentially, it's another night of sitting here listening to the British elite talk to itself. Nothing changed today in the course of a lot

of words, a bunch of votes. We're still 40 some-odd days from the day that Britain slides out of the European Union without a deal. That could be a

very tumultuous, chaotic, really uncertain event and we're already feeling real economic effects and nothing is changing to prevent that from

happening.

GORANI: So what happens next?

GOODMAN: What happens next is presumably Theresa May goes back to Brussels for the 10,000th time and says, please, is there anything you can do to

change the politics at home? Because we can't agree on how to handle this. And some sort of hemming and hawing goes down about the fact that the

withdrawal agreement itself can't be reopened. But maybe they can negotiate some sort of text that people can decide --

GORANI: But it's not looking good. She can't even get MPs to reiterate support they gave her two weeks ago.

GOODMAN: Correct. I mean, if you actually believe this morning that there was some chance that Theresa May had a negotiating position to go extract

something from Brussels, then that position was damaged today. But if you really believed that this morning, you probably need a lot.

GORANI: But what I think is interesting is you have this hardline extremist fringe, the hard Brexiteers, they don't represent any majority in

parliament. They're not the majority of the British electorate. And they're setting the agenda.

GOODMAN: They like the idea of crashing out. And unfortunately, their agenda --

GORANI: She's appealing to them and not to the center.

GOODMAN: She's not only appealing to them. Her agenda dove tails with their agenda because she does seem to be running out the clock in hopes

that in a frantic last week before the deadline, the parliamentary math will change and suddenly there will be a majority for her very unpopular

deal, if the alternative really looks like crashing out.

[14:55:07] GORANI: Do you think the E.U. is willing to just -- the E.U. -- here's the thing. The E.U. can't make this look too easy for the U.K.

because it would give other countries ideas. And they also can't say negotiate for two years, threaten to pull out without a deal and we'll give

you a better deal. Because otherwise every country in Europe who feels they're not being treated fair by E.U. will invoke article 50, then revoke

it and it would be this endless process.

GOODMAN: Correct. I mean, to the extent to which there's one model for the E.U. position is what you just --

GORANI: But they've been very unified.

GOODMAN: They have been absolutely unified. But if they actually did decide, if somebody said, let's re-open this, if the Brexiteer fantasy that

the German auto industry will finally somehow carry the day and say, well, hold on. We can't have the parade of expensive cars made in Germany going

to Britain, jeopardize. Let's really kind of do something here and in some sort of concession for Britain.

Even if that happened, you need 27 different European Union governments to approve any change to this deal. So the idea that that's where salvation

comes from has always been a fantasy.

GORANI: But also, I mean, from the outside looking in, it's kind of an interesting negotiating position to say I'm going to punch myself in the

face repeatedly if you don't give me what I want. Right? I mean, I'm going to hurt myself until you give me what I want.

GOODMAN: This is domestic politics masquerading as some sort of negotiation. This has never been a negotiation. The European position has

essentially been, here's the menu. You'll let us know when you know would you like to order.

Meanwhile, if you want to go to Westminster and have a food fight, knock yourselves out. And that's still where we are.

GORANI: That being said, these are the elites arguing amongst themselves and it's kind of Tory Party infighting that got us into the situation, to

begin with. But that being said, there are very passionate Brexit supporters in this country. And the majority of people voted to Brexit.

And every time I've been to Brexit supporting parts of this country, I have never found someone who has sold me that they regretted their vote.

GOODMAN: There are people in factory country who regret their vote.

GORANI: Possibly. No, I'm not saying they don't exist. I'm just saying that they're not. I think here in the little urban bubble, we think we're

going to go out and we're going to ask somebody who lives in a part of the country that are going to be hurt. They're immediately going to say, oh,

my God. What a stupid thing I did.

By the way, we have 20 seconds. What's your response to that?

GOODMAN: I mean, most people aren't paying attention to this to the degree that which those of us in the press are -- most people want to get on with

it. They want to know what's going to happen next and let's move on to that.

GORANI: Peter Goodman of the New York Times, always a pleasure. Thanks very much.

GOODMAN: Thank you.

GORANI: Thanks for closing out the show.

And thanks to all of you for watching. Stay with CNN. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is next.

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