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HALA GORANI TONIGHT
U.S. Orders All Non-Emergency Staff to Leave Iraq; Iran's Armed Forces Among Strongest in The Region; U.S. National Security Adviser Pushing Hard Line on Iran; Alabama Passes Most Restrictive Abortion Bill in The Nation; Audio Reveals Pilots Confronted Boeing Over 737 MAX. Aired 2- 3p ET
Aired May 15, 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. Live from CNN London, I'm Hala Gorani.
Tonight, tensions rising in the Middle East once again. Now the U.S. has a message for all its nonemergency employees in Iraq and that message is,
leave. Also tonight one of the most divisive issues in the United States is back in the spotlight in a big way. After Alabama State Senate passes a
bill to ban abortion in almost all cases. And this man is accused of committing unspeakable atrocities in Somalia, and until recently he was
working for Uber.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I was surprised to see that you drive for Uber and Lyft. Did the background checks of those companies not reveal the fact
that you are facing trial here?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: We'll have that story later in the program.
Tensions between the United States and Iran are growing by the day. Allies are calling for restraint. But Washington is taking precautions. The U.S.
state department has told all of its nonemergency employees to leave the country. It comes as Washington claims it has uncovered new threats from
Iran, something that even the most senior British officer in coalition fighting ISIS disagrees with.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAJOR GENERAL CHRIS GHIKA, DEPUTY COMMANDER, COMBINED JOINT TASK FORCE AGAINST ISIS: There's been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces
in Iraq and Syria. There are a range of threats to American and coalition forces in Iraq and Syria. We monitor them all. Iranian-backed forces is
clearly one of them. There are a substantial number of militia groups in Iraq and Syria and we don't see any increased threat from many of them at
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: So it's important to note that this is unusual. It is unusual for a British military general to disagree so openly with his U.S. allies. Nic
Robertson is Abu Dhabi and Fred Pleitgen is in Tehran. For this general who said there's no greater threat, he received a rebuke from the United
States. There's a rift here developing on how much of a threat there is inside of Iraq and how to assess the military threat level all together,
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Absolutely. Look, he got that rebuke from the U.S. central command. He works for a part of
that, or a branch of that. Central command is the U.S. military's command that spans the whole of the Middle East. Within hours they did something
that was out of the ordinary as well. They said that doesn't conform with the current intelligence that we're getting.
That was strange. What was even stranger today was how the British mod came out and backed up their own general. This is a real political
football here and it tells you everything you need to know about the current tensions between the White House and their position on the Middle
East and specifically Iran vis-a-vis Iraq as well and the differences they have with major allies.
GORANI: And, Fred, you're in Tehran, what are you hearing there from officials, from the leadership about the possibility that there could be
conflict down the road with the United States? This is after the Supreme Leader said we are not seeking a conflict with America. What's the latest?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you're right, Hala. And the senior leadership here in Iran continues to say that
they don't want any sort of conflict with the United States, that they don't want to see an escalation with a conflict with the United States.
But at the same time you do have the military leadership who came out once again in the form of a senior naval commander saying that Iran, right now,
their state of defense is at its highest point of readiness.
And they're also saying to me at least, that if there was an armed conflict with the United States, that of course they would use their ballistic
missiles that they have, but they would use proxy militias that they have in other countries like Iraq. Here's what we learned today.
With tensions between the U.S. and Iran high and fears of a possible military confrontation, Iran's Supreme Leader putting on the brakes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALI KHAMENEI, SUPREME LEADER, IRAN (through translator): There won't be any war with the help of god. We don't seek a war, and they don't either.
They know it's not in their interests.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[14:05:10] PLEITGEN: But senior Iranian military commanders have said if there is an escalation, Iran could attempt to strike U.S. military
installations in the Middle East. Analysts saying Iran's ballistic escalation, Iran could attempt to strike U.S. escalation, Iran could
attempt to strike U.S. military installations in the Middle East. Analysts saying Iran's ballistic missiles pose a real threat.
GORANI: Iran has committed to restrain the range of its missiles to no more than 2,000 kilometers. But should a potential escalation increase,
they might reserve that decision.
PLEITGEN: The U.S. has briefed up its presence in the region sending a carrier strike group and bombers. Iran's soldiers and its commanders
gained a lot of experience fighting in places like Iraq and Syria and it makes their armed forces one of the strongest in the Middle East. A former
Revolutionary Guard commander telling me those forces could be mobilized any time.
Besides every American base, there is a resistance base, the popular forces who support the armed forces and all of America's behavior is under our
control. If we're going to act, both our missiles and our popular militias will be in action. Iranians have likened it between a matchup between
President Trump and Iran's Supreme Leader and he says he believes they have the upper hand.
Trump is a poker player, but our extreme leader is a chess leader. It seems this is a battle of two wills and Trump's tactic is to scare the
other side where we are not scared of Trump at all. Both the U.S. and Trump continue to say they don't want an escalation, fears of a
miscalculation that could trigger a military confrontation remain.
Of course the places where those miscalculations could possibly take place are those areas where you have Iranian and American forces in close
proximity. The there are other countries in the region like Iraq, like Syria where there are also American and Iranian or pro-Iranian forces very
close to one another, Hala.
GORANI: Certainly there are lots of opportunities for conflict. Lots of opportunities for accidental conflict. We'll let you go. Nic Robertson,
one last one to you, I found a tweet interesting by "The Wall Street Journal's" former Baghdad chief, we were discussing how the U.K. and the
U.S. seem to have very different assessments of the threat level there, what's going on in particular with this story. Why withdraw personnel at
ROBERTSON: Well, the U.S. is saying it's prudent. People in this region think this is going to start a strike that the U.S. will want to get its
people out of the way because it's about to do something that will be the certain. The Dutch have decided to keep their embassy staff in place.
They're pulling out their military trainers that are working with the Iraqi forces, the Germans are pulling out their military trainers as well. You
get the sense there that there's a perception of a threat to the military, but civilians should be OK. But the threat might also be directed at the
United States and less at its European partners there. A tough one to judge.
GORANI: Nic Robertson, thanks very much. With everything that's going on in the Middle East and this concern for perhaps that we might be inching
closer to open conflict with Iran, one key U.S. adviser pushing that hard line on Iran has been called President Trump's war whisperer. Only the
thing he's not whispering. The National Security Advisor John Bolton is who I'm talking about.
One example, this 2015 opinion piece in the "New York Times," Bolton argued that bombing Iran was the only way to stop it from building a nuclear
weapon. President Trump just this week acknowledged Bolton's hawkish views.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[14:10:00] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: John is a -- he has strong views on things, but that's OK. I actually temper John, which
is pretty amazing, isn't it? Nobody thought that was -- I'm the one that tempers him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Bolton may have Trump's ear. How closely is the President listening in on this one? Let's bring in CNN military analyst, Cedric
Leighton, a retired Air Force colonel and we are also joined by Vali Nasr, Dean of the School of Advanced International Studies at John Hopkins
University. What is the thinking in Tehran right now? The Supreme Leader came out and said we do not seek war.
VALI NASR, DEAN, SCHOOL OF ADVANCED INTERNATIONAL STUDIES, JOHN HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: I don't think Iranians want to go to war. It's not in their
interest and they don't want to invite the situation where Bolton would get his way. But at the same time, they're under a lot of pressure and they
want to send a signal to the U.S. that they're not going to essentially capitulate without a fight and they have the means to draw blood from
U.S.'s allies, Saudi Arabia, UAE and the U.S. should reconsider opening conflict with Iran.
GORANI: Let me ask you, we heard from in particular, and this made headlines, the Republican senator from Arkansas who said the U.S. could win
a war with Iran in two strikes. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TOM COTTON (R-AR): We're not going to provoke a war with Iran. It will be Iran that provokes any kind of military conflict. If they take the
first military strike, we will take the last strike. We have a devastating advantage in military capability.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, we are all old enough to remember Iraq. And anyone who says that this will be swift or easy is making a risky proposition here.
CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Oh, that's absolutely correct, Hala. This is one of the riskiest statements that any U.S. senator could
have made. Senator Cotton should know better. But the run-up to the Iraq war had a lot of public misinformation and what we're seeing here today is
the situation where we have to be very careful.
The intelligence analysis of what we actually have in terms of raw intelligence is I think something that is really a debate between the
British and the American elements here that are dealing with this and this particular case, it's going to be very difficult to fight a war with Iran,
Iran is a very tough country. They have a very tough military, yes, the U.S. military is capable --
GORANI: It's different from Iraq, right? We're talking completely here about a different potential conflict. Do you think that U.S. officials are
seriously thinking about war with Iran at this stage or is it just rhetoric?
LEIGHTON: I hope it's just rhetoric. But rhetoric has a way of spinning out of control and that's I think a very, very difficult area to be in and
because we have to be very careful, I would advise all the policymakers here in Washington and around the world to really tune this down because
this kind of rhetoric is not helpful. We have to deal with the Iranians as a sovereign nation. We also have to understand that they bring certain
capabilities to bear and any type of conflict with Iran would not be an easy conflict to deal with. We could win, but it would be a very to have
GORANI: You had that attack on those oil tankers. We don't really have any definitive word and there hasn't been any finger pointed directly at
Iran and the regime itself. What impact could it have?
NASR: Well, the Iranians are hoping the impact it will have is that it will serve as a deterrence against the United States and allies in the
region not to say that Iran will capitulate without a fight and there is costs to be associated with it. But at the same time it is actions and
reactions like that that could lead to an accidental war. Particularly you have a U.S. administration that is looking for any excuse and any shred of
evidence in order to argue that it needs to take some kind of action against Iran and I think Iran is under pressure domestically to respond in
And before you know it, you may end up creating a war -- an unnecessary war at this stage out of these threats and is counter threats.
GORANI: Here you have a big difference with Iraq. Apart from France, back in 2003, here you have European countries completely on a different page.
How does that change things?
[14:15:00] NASR: That's exactly why the U.S. needs Iran -- needs to provoke Iran to take the first step. You could even read Senator Cotton's
statements that way, the removing of personnel from Iran, are all designed to goat Iran to take an action that would make any kind of a discussion of
intelligence and evidence unnecessary because if Iranians do something that the U.S. can then say, OK, it was the first step that was taken by Iran,
now we can react. They think the Europeans would have to fall in line.
GORANI: Why would anyone in the United States, as hawkish as they are, even John Bolton think hawkish as they are, even John Bolton think hawkish
as they are, even John Bolton think it's in the United States' best interest to go to war again better equipped than Iraq ever was.
LEIGHTON: I think it would be a big mistake to do so. Anybody who thinks this would be easy I think is making a mistake of taking the experience
from Iraq and putting it on top of Iran because as difficult as Iraq was for the United States, Iran has a chance of being at least five times if
not ten times more difficult. And that's the real problem here. We're not thinking this through appropriately. And the types of mistakes that the
professor mentioned are the kinds of mistakes that can happen here. And this is I think a very dangerous situation for us to be in right now.
GORANI: You're in Washington. Why do you think anybody in the administration today thinks it's in the U.S.'s best interest to go to war
NASR: I think some of the administration officials like John Bolton are not worried about how much this cost. He still thinks the Iraq war was the
GORANI: He said so four years ago.
NASR: Well, and also -- exactly. And I think that kind of thinking essentially, he's willing to spend any amount of money, any number of
American lives essentially to bring down the Iranian regime. He thinks it's worth the cost and I think that's where the dangerous thinking is
because I think the way he's calculating this is different from where the mainstream American policy establishment would be thinking.
GORANI: Yes. Thank you so much to both of you. A pleasure having you on.
Still to come, the most restrictive bill on abortion in America is one signature away from taking effect. It could mean that abortion in Alabama
is banned in almost all cases including rape and incest.
Pilots spoke out about safety features of Boeing 737 MAX months before it was involved in that Ethiopian Airlines crash. Were they taken seriously?
Critics say, no. We'll be right back.
[14:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
GORANI: Now to the battle over abortion. The U.S. state of Alabama has voted to ban abortion at every stage of pregnancy. It will be the
strictest abortion law in the United States. The ban means that even women or girls who are raped or the victims of incest will not be legally able to
get an abortion in Alabama. There are almost no exceptions and doctors who perform abortions could be imprisoned for life.
I want to show you something stark now. The lawmakers who voted for the bill are pictured in the circles here. They are all Republican men. The
ban follows measures in other U.S. states designed to limit abortion rights, restrictive abortion laws have been passed or are pending. Most
have been challenged in the courts. Some analysts believe the laws are designed to set up a challenge to the Roe v. Wade rules. CNN's Victor
Blackwell has more now on this pivotal case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE SEN. BOBBY SINGLETON (D-AL): I apologize to the women of Alabama for this archaic law that we passed.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alabama lawmakers passed the nation's most restrictive abortion bill. One that could set up a challenge to the
Roe V. Wade ruling. It bans nearly all abortions in the state making it a felony punishable up to 99 years or life in prison for those providing the
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE PROTESTER: People's rights are under attack. What do we do?
BLACKWELL: Abortion rights activists surround the Alabama State House and Democrats argue against the legislation's constitutionality on the Senate
STATE SEN. LINDA COLEMAN MADISON (D-AL): Republicans, you guys used to say we want the government out of our life. We want them out of our business.
We want them out of our bedroom. Now you're in my womb. I want you out. You don't control this, you don't own this.
BLACKWELL: The law would allow very few exceptions to avoid a serious health risk to the unborn child's mother, ectopic pregnancy and if the
unborn child has a lethal anomaly. Democrats tries to add an amendment that would allow abortions in cases of rape and incest but it failed.
STATE SEN. CLYDE CHAMBLISS (R-AL): A life is a life and even if it is -- its origins are in very difficult situations, that life is still precious.
Life is a gift of our creator and we must do everything we can to protect life.
BLACKWELL: Republican lawmakers say the measure was intentionally drafted to be rigid with limited restrictions in order to be challenged in lower
courts and reach the Supreme Court.
STATE REP. TERRI COLLINS, (R-AL): I think everybody I know in the House and I believe finally we saw in the Senate understood exactly what the
purpose of this bill was. We will never get a heartbeat bill to be constitutional until Roe V. Wade is decided and reversed.
BLACKWELL: At least 16 states have passed or introduced bills restricting abortions after a doctor can detect a fetal heartbeat in the womb. Which
is usually about 6 weeks.
ERIC JOHNSTON, ALABAMA PRO-LIFE COALITION: It is the first time in 46 years that the make up on the Supreme Court has changed where there's
possibly enough conservatives on there who would believe Roe V. Wade is incorrectly decided.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: And Victor joins me now. He's at CNN's center in Atlanta. Will the governor sign this bill into law?
BLACKWELL: The expectation is that she will sign it. She's not spoken publicly about this bill. She'll receive it at the end of the day today.
And her office says she'll spend some time reviewing this. But she has six days to do so and we look back to a decision and a statement she left --
released last year after an anti-abortion bill was struck down by the courts in which she said that we should not let this discourage our
steadfast commitment to protect the lives of the unborn, even if this means taking the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
She in that case was prepared to take this case, this law to the Supreme Court and she may have an opportunity again now.
GORANI: And what about possible challenges. I understand planned parenthood are going to challenge this in the courts. Are they likely to
be able to challenge the law and how would that work?
BLACKWELL: They would certainly be able to challenge the law. You mentioned planned parenthood, also the ACLU, they are already preparing for
a legal fight. They believe that the governor will sign this law. And of course it will have to go through several steps and the Supreme Court would
have to accept that. There will be competition because 16 states across the country have passed or are advancing through the state legislature
these bills that would limit abortion at the detection of a heartbeat in the womb which is about six weeks.
[14:25:00] GORANI: Right. Oftentimes women don't know they're pregnant in six weeks. They're saying this is almost like a total ban on abortion.
Thank you very much for that. And we'll be speaking, by the way, to one of the gentleman that you saw in Victor's report, Bobby Singleton who's a
Democratic state senator and he's the one who brought rape victims to the state legislature and said that these women have -- that the abortion
doctor would be doing more time in jail than their rapists. That's going to be a very interesting interview.
U.S. lawmakers held hearings today about Boeing 767 max jets. The Federal Administration Aviation answered questions. The FAA is under scrutiny on
how it relied on Boeing to certify the max plane and this as new audio, pilots confronted Boeing four months before that same model went down in
Ethiopia. Let's bring in Richard Quest, anchor of "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS." And I want our viewers to listen to this angry exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED BOEING PILOT: These guys didn't know the system was on the airplane nor did anybody else.
BOEING REPRESENTATIVE: I don't know that understanding the system would've changed the outcome on this. In a million miles, maybe once you will see
this ever. So we try not to overload the crews with information that's unnecessary so
they actually know the plane is important
UNIDENTIFIED BOEING PILOT: We are the last line of defense to being in that smoking hole. We need the knowledge.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: And, Richard, these pilots are almost pleading with Boeing to train pilots to be able to rectify this issue if it arises. What do you
make of Boeing -- that Boeing official's response on this reporting?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS, EDITOR-AT-LARGE: It's be bewildering. Hala. For years Boeing has always said -- this is the difference between Boeing
and Airbus, by the way, it's a core conceptional difference. Boeing has always said the pilots are totally in charge. We give the pilots the tools
to do their job. We give the pilot -- we let them know what's happening. We give them control. And then they suddenly add on this thing called MCAs
which does exactly the opposite.
And they don't even tell the pilots it exists. Boeing's standard answer and the FAA acting administer used the same answer today is, look, if the
nose of the plane is going down and you haven't commanded it, there are certain procedures that you follow regardless. But I think it's an
argument that -- because the plane is not very high, there's a crisis in the cockpit. Something is happening that you didn't understand and they
expect pilots to drag out of their memory something which they may or may not have ever known in the first place. It's a --
GORANI: This puts Boeing in a very, very tricky position, this audio recording and the fact that it sounds like there's some sort of doubling
downing on here, a bit of blame shifting on the pilots, right?
QUEST: Yes, and look, technically probably Boeing is right. And technically the FAA administer is right. The pilots perhaps should have
known about how to use this procedure. But in Ethiopian, they did use that, Hala, but it wasn't working properly. They didn't control the air
speed, so they had to reserve it. I think that Boeing and the FAA are being clever after the event, reserving into an excuse, an argument that
doesn't really hold water in the reality of the cockpit.
GORANI: That argument holds less water when you hear that pilots before the second fatal crash were pushing back saying, we are the last line of
defense here, you need to train pilots to know what to do.
[14:30:00] QUEST: And this is when it gets more difficult. You have Lion Air, you have this conversation in the middle, and then you have Ethiopia.
What Ethiopian proved, even if you did everything, you might still not succeed for a variety of reasons. The truth is, one, MCAs did not have any
redundancy in terms of its activation, two, it was more powerful than was ever intended to be designed, and, three, once it deployed, it was almost
impossible to stop. And those three things are being rectified by the software fix.
GORANI: Richard Quest, thanks very much. We'll see you at the top of the hour on "Quest Means Business."
Still to come, France and New Zealand raise the call for action against hatred and terror online after the deadly mosque attacks in Christchurch,
New Zealand. We are live next.
How ride sharing companies missed war crimes on one driver. That's one failed background check. We'll be right back.
GORANI: Now to The Christchurch Call for action against extremism that happens online. The leaders of France and New Zealand unveiled the
campaign a short time ago in Paris.
It's a joint effort by governments and tech companies to crack down on the spread of terrorism on social media. And it comes as Facebook begins to
tighten its livestream rules after that deadly mosque attack in Christchurch two months ago went viral.
New Zealand's prime minister spoke last hour.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACINDA ARDERN, PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND: We encourage any organization who can contribute to its success to get involved. Today,
there must be day one of change. And as was said in the meeting today by one of the companies, today is the first day of the next four months.
The Christchurch called us a roadmap for action and it is pleasing to see the statement from five major tech companies committing all of them to a
seat of individual actions and collaborative actions as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Let's get straight to Nina dos Santos, she's live in Paris. You're at the Elysee Palace. Talk to us about how Macron and Ardern and
others intend to achieve this.
NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN EUROPE EDITOR: Well, we're already seeing a few arrivals coming here. I believe we are likely to see Jacinda Ardern return
for a dinner here at the Elysee Palace.
We've just seen the Irish Taoiseach walks through the doors and Canada's prime minister, Justin Trudeau, gives you an idea the kind of political
backing that this movement has. One that has been spearheaded, Hala, by, of course, two countries that know the specter of terror and the
devastating consequences it can cause, especially when it's spread online.
DOS SANTOS (voice-over): Big tech and government putting on a united front against extremism online. In a summit that's dubbed The Christchurch Call,
French president, Emmanuel Macron and New Zealand's Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, welcomed heads of state and Silicon Valley to Paris and clinched a
commitment from 26 parties to try and curb the viral spread of violent content.
ARDERN: The Christchurch Call to Action and action plan for change is a global response to a tragedy that occurred on the shores of my country, but
were ultimately felt around the world.
It ultimately commits us all to build a more humane internet.
DOS SANTOS: Part of the effort will come from countries reinforcing existing laws with Canada, the U.K., Ireland and others signing up to the
[14:35:03] EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): For the first time, countries from all over the world were present, and
secondly, it is an appeal which brings together not just governments, and social, and tech companies, but also the civil society and we expect
DOS SANTOS: The White House declined to join the call, but U.S. tech titans did further weight behind it, from Facebook to Google and Amazon to
YouTube, committing to identifying offensive material sooner and making sure it isn't amplified by algorithms.
The summit was organized in the wake of the mass shooting of 51 people in Christchurch which was livestreamed and shared millions of times
Facebook whose checks and balances struggled to cope with the spread of the video, issued a separate statement announcing a new one strike policy for
those who misuse the livestreaming tool.
Though Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, who met Macron alone last week was absent.
NICK CLEGG, VP FOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS, FACEBOOK: So I think we all recognize in this -- in this meeting, that this is not something that any company can
do on its own. It's not something the industry, as a whole, can do on its own.
DOS SANTOS (on-camera): This was a high-profile gathering, but many will question what was actually achieved. The recommendations are broad and
non-binding, and some have been heard before.
DOS SANTOS (voice-over): It will take more than a day in the Elysee to clean up the dark corners of the internet. But starting to work together
is, at least, a first step towards fixing its flaws.
DOS SANTOS: Well, Hala, this is -- I was just saying there, just part of a long running initiative to tackle that problem that is growing by the day
and one that many business leaders and, obviously, leaders of countries realize they need to try and get a grip on. At least, voluntarily for the
time being. There'll be future meetings that are going to be taking place over the next year or so.
The king of Jordan is here for these gatherings and Jordan will be hosting another summit on the subject. Another summit is likely to place in New
York, because this is a message that these leaders want to take as far as the United Nations.
As you noticed there in that piece, though, the United States is one that hasn't voluntarily decided to sign up to this particular commitment. The
reason behind that appears to be the difficulty in balancing the freedom of speech. Hala.
GORANI: All right. Thanks very much. Nina dos Santos at the Elysee Palace.
Brexit is back, everyone. Theresa May is, again, trying to get her deal through parliament, the one that was rejected three times.
The British prime minister will be putting it to a vote in the first week of June, as she faces increasing pressure to quit. M.P.s have already, as
I mentioned, rejected that deal on three separate occasions.
Lawmakers already have a lot to deal with that week, because it just so happens it's the week the U.S. President, Donald Trump, is paying Britain a
state visit. Oh, and also, it's the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
We too here at CNN, will be busy at the week of June 3rd.
If you thought "Fire and Fury" brought the heat on the Trump administration, wait until the "Siege." Author Michael Wolff is about to
release a sequel to his tell-all book that infuriated the White House.
Let's get details from CNN Chief Media Correspondent, Brian Stelter. What do we expect from this next -- from this sequel, Brian?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes. The publisher says it is equally explosive, but we don't know a lot of the details. But what
Michael Wolff says he has found.
We do know it'll come out on June 4th. We're talking about the first week of June. This is going to be a big deal, I think, in Washington, the first
week of June, as Michael Wolff comes out with this sequel.
"Fire and Fury" was a book like almost no other in the United States. It has sold more than four million copies all around the world, both print and
You'll recall back in early January 2018, the publisher couldn't keep up with demand. There was so much interest. They had to keep the printing
presses running 24 hours a day for Michael Wolff's first volume.
The president's personal attorney made a legal threat against the book. The publisher, obviously, didn't do anything about that and kept the book
coming out and the threat ended up being toothless.
But there was so much interest in this first book that I think that a prospect of a sequel, which was just revealed a few hours ago, is going to
be really significant.
According to the publisher, Wolff has been working on this for over a year. He spoke with many of the same sources and he described what he says was
the tumultuous second year of the Trump presidency. So I suspect, we're going to hear more about chaos and turmoil inside the West Wing.
And Wolff who is a very controversial writer, who a lot of journalists love to hate, who has had a dispute about his sourcing in the past. But
nonetheless, he received a ton of attention the first time around is coming back at it again.
GORANI: And for this sequel, did he get the same kind of access?
STELTER: That is one of the outstanding question, because as you know, Wolff says that he was able to sit on the couch in the West Wing and offer
you conversations the first time around.
There's no sign that he was able to do that the second time around, but he was able to use a lot of key sources including Steve Bannon on the record
the first time. The question is whether he was able to get insider access for this sequel, whether he's able to have people on the inside sharing
intelligence with him.
[14:40:06] What we've seen over the past two and a half years is that journalists have been able to tap into lots of sources who have been
willing to leak, or in some cases, blow the whistle on misconduct inside the White House.
There's a lot of stories still to be told about the Trump White House. And Wolff says he's got a big story to tell.
GORANI: Now, you said he's controversial. Remind our international viewers, why is he a controversial writer?
STELTER: He's so reliant on anonymous sources that some people disputed some of the claims that were made in "Fire and Fury.
But I would argue that on the whole, the book has held up pretty well and some of what he reported, almost 18 months ago, has since been confirmed by
other books, including bob Woodward's "Fear" and others.
The paint -- the portrait that he painted of a president that could be incompetent and questions about fitness for office, that is defined the
last year and a half. And a lot of that was started by Wolff's book. So he had a big impact the first time around. He also made millions of
dollars from the first book and the publisher has very high hopes for this sequel as well.
GORANI: Brian Stelter, thanks very much as always.
GORANI: Still to come.
SEN. BOBBY SINGLETON (D-AL): I apologize to the women of Alabama for this archaic law that we passed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: That was Alabama senator Bobby Singleton whose state passed the strictest abortion ban in the United States. He will join me after the
GORANI: All right. I believe we're going to China now, is that correct?
All right. Well, let's take a look a little bit about the heightened tension resulting from the trade war between China and the United States.
One of the things that's been going on stock markets is that there's a little bit of relief, perhaps, even a bit of bargain hunting.
Wall Street, you can see here, the Dow Jones up 173 points at 25,705. Increased tariffs on Chinese goods are enforced with no sign of ending
But one Chinese product is bracing for a huge price hike, because of something other than tariffs. The country's pig farmers are dealing with a
swine fever epidemic and that's having a big impact on what people consume halfway around the world.
Andrew Stevens has our report.
ANDREW STEVENS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a familiar sight in China, empty pigpens in provinces across the country, all
signs like this warning to keep clear of herds that are locked down under quarantine.
China's pig population, the biggest in the world is being ravaged by the deadly African swine fever, a virus for which there's no vaccine. It's
harmless to humans, but ASF has estimated to have killed millions of pigs in China since the first outbreak was first detected in August last year.
Social media shows pig carcasses being dumped in the countryside. And video obtained by CNN revealed disturbing scenes of animals being
slaughtered driven into pits and buried.
[14:45:05] The central government says about one million pigs have culled, but some farmers CNN spoke to, says the scale of the epidemic could be
bigger because it's not being recognized at a local level.
Jang Hei Xia (ph), watched as all her 600 pigs died. Many of her neighbor's pigs suffered the same fate. She says local authorities told
her that if her herd had contracted African swine fever, she must keep it quiet.
"Local officials are afraid to be held accountable," she tells CNN. "They threatened us that there would be consequences if we reported it higher up
CNN contacted her provincial authorities to comment, but have not received a response. At a press conference in March, the agriculture ministry said
the epidemic was under control. The U.N.'s food and agriculture organization, the FAO, says Beijing is taking the right steps but it may
take years to fully contain the outbreak.
VINCENT MARTIN, U.N. FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION REPRESENTATIVE: I'm not sure we can say it is under control, because we know how complex the
disease is. We're experiencing in other countries where it took years to get really hand on these -- on these diseases.
STEVENS: A report from a Dutch bank says that China could lose between 150 million and 200 million pigs this year. That's more than a third of its
To put that in context, the U.S. farms a little more than 70 million pigs.
STEVENS (on-camera): It's not just the farmers who are feeling the pain either, this country is not only the world's biggest producer, it's also,
by far, the world's biggest consumer.
And according to the government's own statistics, the prices of pork at wet markets like this here in Beijing, could rise as much as 70 percent by the
end of the year.
STEVENS (voice-over): That would mean record high prices for a staple ingredient for 1.4 billion people and a potential big inflation problem for
the central government.
The impact is being felt globally. Pork prices at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange are up 20 percent in the last three months and expected to go
higher. The price of bacon has already been rising in some countries.
2019 is the year of the pig in the lunar calendar. It's supposed to be an auspicious year. In the pig industry, it's anything but.
Andrew Stevens, CNN, Beijing.
GORANI: When you order a ride from Uber, you've probably never thought to ask yourself if your driver is an accused war criminal.
But if you've been ridesharing in the Washington, D.C. area over the last year and a half, the answer to that question might have been yes.
Drew Griffin has this eye-popping report.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Yusuf Abdi Ali is an accused war criminal, facing a civil trial in Virginia, alleging he's responsible
for atrocities including torture and attempted murder in Somalia in the 1980s. While awaiting trial, he has been driving for Uber.
YUSUF ABDI ALI, UBER DRIVER: Wali (ph)?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir. He's just coming now.
GRIFFIN: Undercover CNN producers, last week, ordered an Uber in Northern Virginia. Yusuf listed on the app as an Uber pro diamond driver with a 4.89
rating picked him up. Yusuf Ali also told us he drives for Lyft.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where are you from?
ALI: Originally from Somalia.
GRIFFIN (on-camera): Sir, I was surprised to see that you drive for Uber and Lyft. Did the background checks of those companies not reveal the fact
that you're accused of torture and murder and about to face a trial here for basically terrorizing communities?
GRIFFIN: Just how Uber and Lyft missed the accusations exposes a potential hole in their screening process. A simple Google search of Ali's name
brings up article after article about his alleged brutality as a commander in the Somalian security force. A major expose by CNN in 2016 found the
alleged war criminal --
ALI: Oh, CNN. OK.
GRIFFIN: -- working as a security guard at Dallas International Airport, a job he was fired from shortly after the report aired.
And a search would have also revealed this. A Canadian broadcasting corporation documentary, with villagers telling terrifying stories of Yusuf
Ali's actions, the man they knew as "Colonel Tukeh."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Two men were caught, tied to a tree, oil was poured on them and they were burned. I saw it with my own
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): He caught my brother, he tied him to a military vehicle and dragged him behind. He said to us, if you've
got enough power, get him back. He shredded him into pieces. That's how he died.
GRIFFIN: Barin Warfa (ph) is a Somalian who claims in 1988, Ali tortured him for months. Then shot him twice and ordered guards to bury him alive.
He survived, and since no international court has jurisdiction Warfa has turned to civil court in the U.S. to seek damages.
[14:50:03] In court filings, Ali acknowledges he was a colonel in the Somali National Army, but denies having attempted extrajudicial killing and
torture and denies directing any such actions by his subordinates.
ALI: That's where the money is.
GRIFFIN: Ali told us he's been an Uber driver for a year and a half, and that background check he said was easy.
ALI: If you apply tonight, maybe after two, two days it will come up.
GRIFFIN: Last year, Uber tightened its background checks after CNN found convicted felons were able to become ride-share drivers. Both Uber and
Lyft say their background checks include criminal offenses and driving incidents.
The company that does the screening, Checkr, tells CNN in a statement that they "Rely on public criminal records that have been adjudicated in a court
of law, rather than unverified sources like Google search results."
Ali has never been convicted of a crime, only accused.
GRIFFIN: Mr. Ali, I have to give you an opportunity to respond to all the allegations. You may not wish to respond to all the allegations, but the
allegations are that basically, you tortured people, murdered people.
GRIFFIN (on-camera): Both Uber and Lyft say they don't review social media or conduct Google searches as part of background checks on potential
drivers. But when we pointed out Ali's history through a simple Google search, both companies took immediate action to remove him.
Lyft banned Ali altogether for life. Uber suspended him, pending review. His trial is expected to wrap up in Virginia this week.
Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.
GORANI: Absolutely difficult to believe in some ways. Thanks very much for watching. Now, a quick break. We'll be right back on CNN.
GORANI: Let's return now to the news that Alabama, the U.S. state of Alabama, has passed a bill imposing an almost blanket ban on abortion, the
strictest in the United States.
The battle over abortion is polarizing, the bill was passed by 25 male state senators all Republicans. Democratic minority leader of the Alabama
Senate, Bobby Singleton, was among those making an impassioned to plea against the passing of the ban, with by the way, no exceptions in the bill
for rape or incest.
Senator Singleton joins me now live. Thanks for being with us. We're seeing all around the world, Senator Singleton. What would you tell people
watching us from all four corners of the globe about this bill and this very restrictive bill and why it was passed in your state?
SINGLETON: I would say that to the people of the state of Alabama, the legislature, those 27 men who across on the other side of aisle raped the
State of Alabama, has said to women in the State of Alabama, you and your body mean nothing to us. It said to children who could be subject of rape
or incest that you have to carry a baby for nine months and that your body doesn't mean anything to us. That's exactly what those 27 men said to the
women of the State of Alabama last night.
GORANI: One of the other things you said is that somebody who performs an abortion might get more jail time than a rapist who impregnates his victim.
SINGLETON: You're exactly right. In the State of Alabama, the law only gives a rapist up to 10 years, if it was used with a deadly weapon.
And under this bill, a doctor who's trying to help with reproductive health care to a woman would get up to 99 years in prison and lose their license
to practice law -- practice medicine for the rest of their life.
[14:55:10] Also, it has the ability to attempt and we don't even know what attempt abortion means. It's not defined in the bill. And what does a
person go across the line in terms of attempting to abort, so therefore, that person can spend anywhere from -- anywhere from a year up to 10 years
in prison if they attempt to do an abortion in the State of Alabama under this current law.
GORANI: Let's hear from a state representative named Terri Collins who supports this bill about what the intent -- the ultimate perhaps goal of
passing this bill is. And I want our viewers to listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TERRI COLLINS (R-AL): We'll never get a heartbeat bill to be constitutional until Roe versus Wade is decided and reserved. And so I
think everybody understood that and everybody's on board because of the mission of this bill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Senator Singleton, do you think their ultimate goal is to go all the way to the Supreme Court and challenge Roe v. Wade?
SINGLETON: Yes, that's the ultimate goal. They said they want to go to the Supreme Court, be the first to get to the hill with Roe v. Wade.
You know, I say in the State of Alabama, we lack in children health care insurance right now. There are mothers who are having low-weight birth
right here in the State of Alabama, that cannot get adequate health care.
There are rural hospitals that are closing down every other day in the State of Alabama. We have 14 that closed down just since 2018 in the State
of Alabama. Doctors are moving out of rural areas and even on urban area where OB/GYN clinics are closing down.
So we could be using and doing other things with the money that we're going to spend on the legal fees, than try to fight to be the first to get the
hill with Roe versus wade. That will handle itself at the federal level. The State of Alabama should not be involved in that.
GORANI: Can you explain to our viewers why there is this push in Alabama? But not just Alabama. There are other states, Georgia and others that are
passing the most restrictive abortion laws in the land since Roe v. Wade. What is behind it?
SINGLETON: I lost her.
GORANI: All right. Unfortunately, I believe we just lost the sound there with Senator Bobby Singleton. But Bobby Singleton there making it clear
that he is opposed to this bill.
We know one thing and that is that it will be challenged. Planned Parenthood, other organizations and other groups have vowed to sue in the
courts if this bill is signed into law. It has not been signed into law yet, but we expect that the governor of Alabama, Kay Ivey, will sign the
bill into law once it lands on her desk.
She said she will take several days to read it, to analyze every aspect of it. But she has made very pro-life statements in the past. And so that is
But Bobby Singleton certainly wasn't a minority there when it came to this abortion bill. It was passed with a vast majority, 25-six outlying
abortion in almost every case.
Thanks for watching tonight. I'm Hala Gorani. Stay with CNN. After a quick break, it's "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS."