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HALA GORANI TONIGHT

Theresa May Says New Brexit Bill Includes A Vote an A Second Referendum; Foreign Minister of Iran Says U.S. Is Playing A Very, Very Dangerous Game; Former White House Counsel Skips Mueller Report Hearing. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired May 21, 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 in London, I'm Hala Gorani in London tonight. Brexit is back with a bang.

Theresa May has made a big change to her deal and is raising the possibility of a second referendum. We'll cover that story also tonight.

Tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, FOREIGN MINISTER, IRAN: Iran is not interested in escalation. We have said very clearly, we will not be the party to begin

escalation but we will defend ourselves.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: Iran's foreign minister tells the United States to show his country some respect as he sits down for an exclusive interview with CNN.

And big crowds are on the streets right now across the United States. They are protesting bans on abortion rights. We are live outside the Supreme

Court. Later in the program.

It was probably Theresa May's last pitch to finally get Parliament to approve her Brexit deal. Today the British Prime Minister tried to make

MPs an offer they couldn't refuse, offering them a vote on whether or not there should be a second referendum. But there is a catch. They also have

to back her deal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER, UK: I recognize the genuine and sincere strength of feeling across the House on this important issue. The

government there, therefore, include in the bill at introduction a requirement to vote on whether to hold a second referendum. And this must

take place before the withdrawal agreement could be ratified. If the House of Commons were to vote for a referendum, it would be requiring the

referendum to make such provisions, including legislation, if it wanted to ratify the withdrawal agreement. So to those MPs who want to confirm the

deal, you need a deal, therefore, withdrawn agreement bill to make it happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: Phil Black is here with me. So this isn't a proposal for a second referendum. She's saying embedded within the withdrawal agreement bill,

withdrawal agreement bill, yes, indeed, if you voted. If it passes within it will be a requirement to vote on a second referendum?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so vote for the deal, you don't get a second referendum but you get a chance to vote for a second referendum.

Which is a crucial difference but it's clear from some of the reaction within her own party already it is a concession too far. That's certainly

one of the more controversial ideas that she put forward today. The other one is this idea of a temporary Customs Union.

The Labour Party, main opposition party, they want a permanent Customs Union, her own party is broadly opposed to any sort of Customs Union that

doesn't let the U.K. have its own independent trade policy. This idea says we have a temporary one but it can be changed by governments and

Parliaments down the track.

GORANI: Now this requires her deal to go through for the fourth time. If it doesn't, where does that leave us?

BLACK: Well, Theresa May has already said she's leaving after this vote or set a timetable for the departure of office out of this vote and that

perhaps represents one of the challenges for her at this point the idea and this is felt by many people her authority has already eroded away.

Whatever office she is making now, she has no guarantee she will be able to pursue, the new party will become the Prime Minister. Of course, the

expectation and feel in the Conservative Party is they will be a hard Brexiteer person not too interested in concessions.

GORANI: And she would need Labour to sign on from this?

BLACK: This is essentially designed, particularly those two ideas to attract Labour votes. There are smaller ideas in from as well which didn't

come as a surprise, workers rights and environment am protections, matching the EU. The opposition Labour leader has sort of said this is a rehash. I

can't see supporting this over the coming days, whether or not she is able to peel away sufficient individual Labour votes will ultimately determine

whether or not this has any chance. There is clearly obviously a counter reaction within her own party as well. Even if she is attracting new votes

on one side, it appears her own party is hardening.

GORANI: Certainly if there is a possibility of a second referendum, that wouldn't be surprising. The hard Brexiteers will not support this deal. I

wonder if MPs that vote for her still support it. Phil Black, thanks very much, Daniel Kawczynski, a member of Mrs. May's party, joins me now from

London. Will you support Mrs. May?

[14:05:00] DANIEL KAWCZYNSKI, MP CONSERVATIVE PARTY: I will be supporting the Prime Minister on this withdrawal agreement. In fact, I will go

further, I think the conduct of some of the members of Parliament in refusing to compromise in anyway in putting ahead their own ideological

zealotry rather than understand our country needs a plausible compromise in order to bind our country together, and to have a meaningful relationship

with the European Union.

I think it's doing great damage to our country and actually I envisage this could bring down our government and lead to the first Marxist government in

the United Kingdom since the Second World War.

GORANI: You are referring to Jeremy Corbyn the leader of the Labour Party. Are you concerned at all -- you support Brexit, are you concerned within

this agreement there is an embedded requirement whether or not to hold a second referendum?

KAWCZYNSKI: Oh, of course I am. But you see the agreement is getting worse and worse from the Brexiteer perspective. The longer that

intransigence and gridlock continues, the more concessions the Prime Minister has to make to the other side. You try toy peel away Labour votes

and so from a Brexiteer perspective, the situation is getting worse and worse. It will be the greed of the, the greediness of some of the staunch

Brexiteers that will ends up and having us have no Brexit and Mr. Corbyn as the Prime Minister.

Somebody who, by the way, as I'm sure your viewers will know doesn't believe in NATO and doesn't believe in the alliance, the strong alliance we

have with the United States of America. The ramifications for our country's security and prosperity in the event of that happening, well --.

GORANI: You mentioned Labour a lot, which is surprising, as you are a member of the Conservative Party. Your party has its own problems to

contend with here. You have divide. Have you hard core Brexiteers, those somewhere in the middle uncertain about the idea of a second referendum

within this withdrawal agreement bill. Where does that leave you? As a target?

KAWCZYNSKI: You are absolutely right and you know I have been a member of apartment now for 14 years. I've never known anything quite like it. The

existential threat to the Conservative Party, to my party, which I have been campaigning for, for the last 30 years is a very serious one. It

could lead to the breakup of the Conservative Party and this is, it will also destroy the euro-skeptic movement on the continent of Europe.

Remember, each time the people of any European country have voted against the European Union, be that in Denmark or France or Ireland. They have

been told that they've made a mistake and they need to vote again. If the United Kingdom ends up voting again and rescinding the result of the

previous referendum, then, of course, you know, the fifth largest economy in the world, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, it will set

back the euro-skeptic movement on the continent or Europe by a generation.

GORANI: I think a lot of people will be happy with that that illustrates perfectly the divide on Brexit and university. Thank you so much for

joining us. We appreciate your time on the important breaking news story. Thank you so much.

Now, turning to the high stakes diplomatic spat between the Iran and United States, each day new threats and warnings are raising the prospect of a war

that both sides claim to not want. Now, we got exclusive access to Iran's top diplomat amid the back and forth. Foreign Minister Zarif sat down with

our Fred Pleitgen and said the U.S. is playing a dangerous game among other things he told Fred.

Fred is live with more on his exclusive. So the U.S. President has said you know call me to Iran. You asked the Foreign Minister Zarif whether or

not he'd pick up the phone. What did he say?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he said at this point in time that's not going to happen. And you are absolutely

right.

I asked about the mixed messages coming out of the White House where President Trump on one day says that a conflict with the U.S., an armed

conflict would be the end of Iran, the next day he says he wants the Iranians to call him. Zarif says with the current campaign of pressure by

the White House against Iran, something like concessions and negotiations simply are not in the cards at the moment. Here's what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZARIF: We are not willing to talk to people who have broken their promises. Because we talk to people, who did not believe our nuclear

program, our nuclear energy program required us to provide any concession or confidence building measures. But we engaged. We acted if good faith.

We negotiate.

[14:10:00] What the United States is saying is that you make a deed, whatever we can get you in the negotiations through the deal is fine.

However, we cannot get a comeback to try to get you. There is not the way serious countries deal with each other. The United States may be used to

doing that with clients, but that I cannot do that with Iran.

PLEITGEN: How dangerous do you think the situation is currently in the Persian Gulf? With the U.S. aircraft carrier on its way, B 52 bombers? At

the same time from your side saying, look we don't want an escalation, it will be painful if there is one?

ZARIF: There will be painful consequences for everybody, if there is an escalation against Iran. That's for sure. The United States was engaged

in an economic warfare against Iran. It has to stop. Economic war means targeting Iranian people.

That has to stop. The United States does not have the legal position. Does not have the moral position. Does not have the political position

does not have the international position to impose economic war on Iran. Iran is not interested in escalation. We have said very clearly that we

will not be party to begin escalation. But we will defend ourselves.

Now, having all these military assets in a small -- is in and of itself prone to accident, particularly when you have people who are interested in

accidents. So. Extreme prudence is required and we believe that the United States is playing a very, very dangerous game.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PLEITGEN: Very dangerous game there, the words of Zarif the Foreign Minister of Iran. I asked him about U.S. claims that Iran was escalating

the situation there in the Persian Gulf, obviously beefing up its own navy. Of course, there were those incidents we were reporting with those tankers

apparently getting sabotaged. He says the Iranian versus nothing to do with that or any of the other things the U.S. accused him of.

Again, he was saying the situation in the Persian Gulf remains very, very dangerous. One of the things to keep in mind in the countries surrounding

Iran, many places like Iraq and Syria. Have you Iranian and pro Iranian forces on the one hand and U.S. force in very, very close proximity, Hala.

GORANI: What about this nuclear deal, Iran said basically it's a year after the U.S. walking away. Nothing has changed. They'll consider

walking away entirely from the deal. Did you ask him about that?

PLEITGEN: Yes, I asked him a lot about the nuclear agreement. He said first of all the Iranians were going to increase the low enriched uranium

fourfold. They say they are allowed to do under the auspices of the nuclear agreement. He says that they want to stick with the nuclear

agreement. One of the things he kept saying is he would like the Europeans to do more to try to save the nuclear agreement as well. He said under the

nuclear agreement, Iranians would be promised to export their oil and invest here.

What he wants the Europeans to do is make sure the Iranians are going to be able to export their oil. He said it was a lot of oil obviously before

these new sanctions came into place the Iranians were able to export. All they want is to go back to those new U.S. sanctions that came into place.

One of the things he said that the Europeans need to do he said, look, if you guys want to swim in the big leagues, you need to get back, what he is

saying is they need to stand up to the United States and make their position clear that if this nuclear agreement is to be saved in the long

term, Hala.

GORANI: All right. Fred Pleitgen, thanks very much, alive in Tehran so is this a war of words or is there real potential here for confrontation?

The U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other top officials are in Capitol Hill this hour. They're briefing lawmakers on the standoff. The

meetings are taking place amid if you suspicion that Iran was behind the attacks on oil facilities in the Persian Gulf. We have to put all this in

context, Michelle Kosinski, many Democratic politicians saying, loose, we're seeing the same intelligence report, the threat is not as great as

they claim. What is Mike Pompeo telling lawmakers today?

[14:15:00] MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: All right. It's been confusing to figure this out for anybody, whether you are

an observer that doesn't know much about what's going on or a high-ranking Republican senator. I mean, Lindsey Graham was complaining just days ago

that he didn't know in his words what the [bleep] was going on. Then he said he got a briefing from National Security Adviser John Bolton. He

believed Iran was behind those attacks on oil tankers in the gulf and Iran was behind the attacks on the Saudi pipeline and he felt like this was a

big threat and he stood behind the President.

Other lawmakers as you mentioned they feel they are getting the same intel. They don't see the threat as being that big or imminent as Secretary of

State Mike Pompeo called it. Again only days ago. So we don't know exactly what the briefing is going to be today. Right now these three top

officials, the Secretary of State, the Acting Secretary of Defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff I'm meeting with members of the

House.

Then they'll meet with members of the Senate, so we expect in the near future to get a lot more information at the very least a lot more reaction

from both Republicans and Democrats to what they're hearing and do they feel like they're getting a complete picture of what was going on? But I

think it was helpful and at least a somewhat telling to hear from Acting Secretary of Defense Shanahan. He was asked, has the threat gone down? Is

the threat still high as the administration views it from Iran?

And he said, well, the American posture over the last two weeks has given the Iranians time to sort of simmer down and he said, we're in a period

where the threat remains high, our job is to make sure there is no miscalculation and then control es ka lakes and he said our posture is

deterrent. So in his view, there is still a big risk from Iran especially if you consider that some lawmakers. We know some other governments

believe that Iran actually engaged in real attacks on the tankers and on the Saudi pipeline. Hala.

GORANI: Michelle Kosinski. Thanks very much at the State Department.

The Dean of Advanced International Studies at John Hopkins joins me now. He wrote the book "The Dispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy in

Retreat." Thanks, for being with us.

First of all, what do you make of the Foreign Minister Zarif interview where he says Iran will consider talking but the U.S. has to start treating

Iran with respect? What message do you think he's trying to send to Trump here?

VALI NASR, DEAN OF ADVANCED INTERNATIONAL STUDIES AT JOHN HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: I think first of all domestically, it's very difficult for any

politician leader if Iran to talk to the United States when publicly American officials, Secretary Pompeo, John Bolton, the National Security

Adviser and President, used extremely rough language that within Iran is interpreted as insulting as the patronizing and if the United States wants

to have negotiations with Iran, Zarif is saying you need to stop talking publicly, you have to stop denigrating, you have to give the Iranian

leadership political room in order to be able to come to the table?

GORANI: Yes. Do you think that will happen?

NASR: Well, if the United States is actually serious about talking to Iran, if the President wants Iranians at the table, he has to create a

circumstance which an Iranian President could come to the table without losing face at home. Iranians cannot come to the table from a position of

weakness.

GORANI: The difference between Iran and North Korea, he's said worse things about North Korea and ended up meeting with Kim Jong-un twice, the

difference is the President is surrounded by life long Iran hawks like John Bolton, who seem to be sending a messages that would support the idea that

the U.S. should engage in armed conflict with Iran, so there is a difference there.

NASR: Well, the other difference is that North Korea actually does not have domestic politics. Iran is not a democracy but it actually has a very

open political system. There are newspapers who report things that are factions vying for power in Iran. There is competition in Iran so there is

real politics. Secondly, I think the President's advisers are following a policy of trying to provoke Iran to respond and then turning around and

saying, well, look, they are threatening us.

I think the message of the Secretary of State telling Congress that, yes, Iran was behind the tanker strikes. Yes, Iran is threatening. But at the

same time, the U.S. is following a policy that Iran has become more menacing and more threatening at this point and that's exactly what worries

somebody like Iran's foreign minister that the President's advisers, what he calls the b-team are actually following a policy that eventually will

get these two countries into conflict.

[14:20:00] GORANI: Yes. Well, on the Democratic side there is Chris Murphy and politicians saying and tweeting, they are seeing the same

intelligence reports as those hawks, Chris Murphy saying I've read the intel, too, essentially going on to say, it doesn't say that Iran is making

or taking unprovoked offensive measures against the U.S. and our allies. So, in the United States, there is a clear political division here with

regards to Iran and how to approach that crisis.

NASR: That is correct. I think whatever message the Iranian versus sent by operations within the region is also designed to be both a warning to

the U.S. but yet not clear enough a threat that would provoke the United States into military action and with warning to the U.S. but yet not

warning to the U.S. but yet not clear enough a threat that would provoke the United States into military action and with intelligence that you can

always cherry pick and you can always interpret in the ways in which you want.

So you can look at the same intelligence and say that is red alert or you can say it's serious or it's not that different from what we encounter all

the time and the United States has decided to interpret the intelligence in the worst way possible.

GORANI: Yes. After the disaster that Iraq was, the invasion and the aftermath, how is there -- how do you explain there is any appetite

whatsoever for a conflict with a country like Iran that is better armed and stronger than Iraq was in 2003?

NASR: Well, I don't think there is ap tied saying the Pentagon and the media and the foreign policy establishment in Congress and Senate and even

in the President of the United States as we have in Iraq. But I think this points to the danger when you put somebody who is unrepentant about his own

role in the Iraq war, that being John Bolton in a position that he had, it allows him to skew the conversation and the intelligence in directions that

nobody else may be wanting to go.

GORANI: Well, how much influence will he have?

NASR: Well, you know, we have a White House that --

GORANI: The establishment forces that you listed are realize in the inherent danger and even toying with the idea, what, how much influence

would a John Bolton or Tom Cotton, the senator for Arkansas, how much would they have in this debate?

NASR: They have significant influence, at least John Bolton has, he basically sits right next to the President. He runs a White House that

doesn't work like other White House, there is not many people who work on particular topics. There is no interagency process, and, therefore, he can

interpret the intelligence in ways in which that would be dangerous and also, he can signal, send signals on behalf of the United States that could

be interpreted by Iranians and others in the regions in ways that they might react to.

So, yes, he does have a lot of power. But we are seeing as you saw with the senators who pushed back is unlike the Iraq war, there is a lot more

skepticism and pushback against the kind of analysis the administration has made of the intelligence.

GORANI: We'll see also if there are any back-channel discussions there between the Swiss and maybe the Sultan of Oman. We will keep our eyes on

that, pleasure having you on, thank you so much.

Still to come, U.S. lawmakers want answers about the Mueller report, but today's witness was a no show. The White House stonewalls Congress again.

Also ahead, protests are taking place across the U.S. as abortion rights protesters try to stop a wave of bans sweeping the country. We'll bring

you the latest. We are live at the Supreme Court.

[14:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: In the U.S. the House Judiciary Committee started its hearing with an empty witness chair, Don McGahn defied a subpoena and failed to show up.

The seat was reserved for McGahn, the special counsel wanted to question him. The White House told him not to testify arguing he is exempt because

of his past role as an advisor to the President.

The committee chairman says the subpoenas are not optional and will look to punish McGahn. Let's bring if legal analyst Michael Zeldin in Washington.

He is a former federal prosecutor and worked with Robert Mueller during his time at the Department of Justice. Thanks for being with us. So McGahn is

now a private citizen, right? Is he legally allowed to defy a subpoena in this way?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No, he's not legally allowed to defy a subpoena. He is as a private citizen able to withstand the request of the

White House and show up nonetheless, but he is being a good camper and he is following the wishes of the White House, which is for him not to show

up. That's why he wasn't there today.

GORANI: What options does Congress have now? What measures can they take against him?

ZELDIN: They can hold him in contempt and try to enforce that contempt order to require him to be there or they can negotiate with the White House

a compromise that has him come in and testify voluntarily.

GORANI: What implications would a contempt order have on him?

ZELDIN: Well, you know, it's not good reputationally to be held in contempt. It's a contemptuous act how the word derives. But the

Republican circles in which he operates, I think it may be more of a badge of honor for him. I don't think it has political or legal consequences so

much as it really is a defying of Congress and the American people of their right to hear from a critical witness in an investigation that occupied the

country for two years.

GORANI: So really, they don't have ways of putting too much pressure on people they'd like to subpoena on Capitol Hill, right, these committees?

ZELDIN: Well, if they go to court and the court finds them in contempt, theoretically the court can either fine them or incarcerate them, for them

to come in and testify in order to undo the contempt finding. That typically doesn't happen and that usually takes a long time. So even if

you are in the White House knowing that in the end you might lose this battle, there is a strategy here of delaying, running out clock so that

this issue does not you know present itself during the 2020 election.

GORANI: All right. So why would -- is the White House the argument they are using to prevent Don McGahn from testifying, does it hold legal water?

ZELDIN: So there are two arguments being made sort of concurrently. The first is a question of immunity. Under the Justice Department opinion.

They say the senior adviser is immune from having to testify on the hill. There is only one case that had ever been decided on this and it ruled

against absolute immunity, requiring a former White House Counsel in the George W. Bush administration to testify. They say that decision is wrong

and that he doesn't have to testify. So I think they lose probably on the immunity question.

Then there is a secondary question of executive privilege, which is if he has to show up, because there is no absolute immunity, what can he assert

privilege with respect to? That is really a statement by statement, document by document determination which the committee will ask him about

and the White House will make a decision as to whether they want to assert privilege. What we saw today principally was the immunity. I don't even

have to show up.

GORANI: Yes. And, Yes, we'll wait and see if some sort of deal is struck. Perhaps striking a deal for this testimony to be behind closed doors. But

what do you think would clinch it there for, what do you think would convince the White House to allow McGahn to testify at this stage?

ZELDIN: Well, I don't know if there is anything that will convince them, because they seem to have embarked on a strategy of no retreat, no

surrender. They're not going to capitulate to anything. It would be only if public pressure is brought to bear on the White House from a what are

you hiding standpoint so that that political strategy of stonewalling isn't availing to them when we see compromise, absent that, I think they will

hold fast to their non-appearance and non-reply to all the subpoenas that are out there.

GORANI: I want to hear from Don McGahn. How many times was he mentioned in the Mueller report? Hundreds and hundreds of times?

ZELDIN: Well, on top of it, as he was mentioned, it was in some of the context where Mueller said what McGahn did met all the grounds for

obstruction of justice. So even though Mueller didn't decide to charge the president with obstruction of justice, he said the president's interactions

with McGahn amounted to obstruction of justice. That's why she's such an important witness because he can explain to the American public whether or

not the president's actions were viewed by him as obstructive.

GORANI: Michael Zeldin, thanks so much for joining us.

ZELDIN: My pleasure.

GORANI: Still to come tonight, with a wave of laws restricting abortion sweeping the United States, protesters are flooding state houses, town

squares, and courthouses across the country. They're also being joined by Democrats, hoping to be the next president. We'll bring you the latest.

And later the people of Yemen desperately need food. But more farmers are sweeping up their crops to grow a drug instead.

Coming up, CNN has rare access inside Yemen's nationwide addiction to Khat.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: Happening right now all over the United States, protests against new laws severely restricting abortion rights. In several American states,

abortion rights supporters have mobilized with more than 50 organizations marching and stopped the ban's rallies all over the country.

Of course, the protests were sparked by the wave of strict new laws including Georgia's heartbeat bill as it's called. Alabama's new law,

which makes abortion illegal and virtually all cases, including for rape and incest victims. Bills are pending in several other states as well.

One of the largest rallies is taking place in Washington, D.C., where a number of Democratic presidential hopefuls have joined protestors to voice

their anger. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): This is not just a coincidence that one state did it and then another state. No, this was a plan. You go back to 2016

when the president was running for office and had a town hall meeting. He was asked, well, what should happen if a woman has an abortion. And she --

he said she should be punished.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: CNN's Jessica Dean joins me from outside the U.S. Supreme Court where one of these rallies is taking place. What was the day like today?

How big were these demonstrations?

[14:35:05] JESSICA DEAN, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, good afternoon to you. Yes, we saw the crowd kind of steadily grow up until the

start time, which was a couple hours ago. So this just wrapped up here in front of the Supreme Court behind me.

It was kind of a mix of people in terms of age demographics, young to older women. I talked to one woman who said she marched in the '70s for herself.

In the '90s, for her daughter and was protesting today on behalf of her grandchildren.

And then we saw college students and different people who had come from all kind of over this area to be in front of the Supreme Court. What kind of

happened organically and unexpectedly even for organizers here is that a number of 2020 presidential candidates started showing up.

You heard from Senator Amy Klobuchar earlier. I also spoke with South Bend mayor, Pete Buttigieg on his way into the event. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: At the end of the day, I believe that the right person to make this decision is the woman who is

facing that choice in her life and her health and if she seeks it.

Advice from whoever she turns to for spiritual guidance and critically, whoever she turns to for medical guidance. I do not believe that women and

their doctors should be overruled by the heavy hand of government.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DEAN: And, Hala, again seeing a number of those Democratic presidential candidates including Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand was

also here, Eric Swalwell. So a lot of them stopping by.

Of course, we're very close proximity to Capitol Hill as well. And one of the things that a lot of them were also saying is that this is really --

these bans and these bills that are passing in these states are really turning this issue so deeply political for so many.

It's becoming this hot rod issue, hanging as we head into 2020. So you can very much expect to hear more of this and more of this and more of this as

we head into the 2020 election.

GORANI: I'm sure. Thank you very much, Jessica dean, live in Washington.

Turning now to Yemen. Apologies. We're in the midst of famine and starvation. Millions of people are spending their money on a traditional

drug instead called khat. If you've been to Yemen, you know what I'm talking about where you see lot of men with that big ball in their mouth.

Freshly picked leaves that give you a high that's similar to amphetamines.

CNN's Sam Kiley got rare access inside Yemen. And as he reports, much of the farm land is devoted to growing the drug when the nation really needs

food.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They chew it here, they chew it there, they chew it pretty much everywhere.

Yemenis studies show that up to 90 percent of men and 70 percent of women are daily users of khat. It has an effect similar to amphetamines, and

amidst dire predictions of famine in Yemen, it's the nation's biggest crop.

This is Sana'a's khat market.

So 4,000, 10,000, 15,000, 25,000.

That's $5 for the cheapest bag of khat.

You could feed a family for a whole day for the price of your cheapest cut. Do you think that it makes sense for Yemen that has no food for everybody

to be chewing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

KILEY: It doesn't make sense.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A simple family can spend less than $5 to eat.

KILEY: So, is it surprising then that Yemen is having a problem with hunger?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not problem. It is a disaster. It is a disaster.

KILEY: Yemen is torn by war, the north under siege, 12 million Yemenis will be fed by the U.N. World Food program this year.

Houthi rebel ministers are aware of the problem.

But very simple. Most of your land is given over to growing drugs, not food.

HUSSEIN AL-EZZI, HOUTHI DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): I agree with you. This is a bad habit that we should get rid of. This is

indisputable. We have government programs to combat growing khat. We remove khat trees and plant coffee bean trees instead.

KILEY: Yemen's mountains, farms, and terraces have been taken over by khat. It's so important to Yemenis that it's delivered the day it's picked

throughout the country driven at break neck speeds to consumers.

Up to a third of all agriculture is dedicated to the plant, which consumes a third of all water for farming.

Twenty-five years ago, this whole valley was planted with wheat. But the farmers say that that's just one crop a year. Now, they get four crops a

year from this narcotic. And in times of war, a cash crop is what really counts.

MOUNIR AL-RUBAI, FARMER (through translator): We only make a profit from khat. Other crops don't cover our home expenses. This is the only crop

that would cover our daily and annual expenses.

[14:40:03] KILEY: Yemen's agriculture ministry estimates that Yemenis spent $12 billion a year on the drug. That's about three times the amount

the U.N. says it needs an aid for Yemen. These figures speak for themselves.

Sam Kiley, CNN, Sana'a.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: And check out our Facebook page for more facebook.com/halagoranicnn. And you can also find me on Twitter,

@halagorani.

Still to come tonight, Theresa May has made her latest Brexit pitch just days ahead of the European election. We'll speak with one of her party's

candidates after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: Theresa May has made a fresh pitch for her Brexit deal just days before the European elections. Even putting forward the possibility of a

second referendum. Brexit remains a key part of the argument in the U.K. ahead of the elections on Thursday.

And the ruling Conservative Party looks like it's going to be hit very hard in this European parliamentary elections.

Their member for the European parliament, Sajjad Karim, is here. You're running in the European parliamentary elections, Mr. Karim, and your party

is doing terribly in polling. It's behind the Brexit party. It's behind Labour.

Why are the Tories doing so poorly do you think?

SAJJAD KARIM, MEMBER OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT: Well, I think there's a great sense and frustration in the country at large. That this issue

remains unsolved and actually dead lofts in parliament. People want clarity, and that's why you are seeing that there is a surge in the polling

for those parties that on the face of it seemed to be providing some clear path.

GORANI: Well, Labour isn't really and they're six points ahead in this -- the latest poll we're showing.

KARIM: Yes. But Labour's vote share itself is also collapsed from what they are normally used to getting in national elections. But we're seeing

a surge in the Brexit Party and we're seeing really a surge in the liberal Democrats as well. The two differing wings of this argument.

GORANI: So why are the conservatives so unable to unite and offer to the people of this country a united message on Brexit?

KARIM: Well, I think it's really interesting that the prime minister had barely stopped speaking, and the reactions that were coming, the quarters

that they were coming from, the hardcore Brexiteers were saying this is dead on arrival. They want to make sure that any chance of compromise is

finished even before the ink has dried.

And then very quickly following on from that, we saw reaction from front bench Labour making the very same point. So, clearly, there is no appetite

within the parliament for compromise. But really, what else could the prime minister do in these circumstances? We have to try. And the public

at large actually wants the parliamentarians to be working towards a compromise. That's what she's trying to do here. But unfortunately, I

don't think we're going to succeed.

GORANI: You are running for the European parliament.

KARIM: Mm-hmm.

GORANI: In an election that if Brexit happens, you'll take your seat and then potentially for a few months, and then have to leave it, right?

[14:45:07] KARIM: Well, it's a procedural necessity that whilst we are members of the European Union, we have to carry out the European

parliamentary elections. And, therefore, that's why they have to go ahead, quite what will happen after that point onwards is a matter of debate. So

I'm certainly putting myself forward to somebody who served in the European Parliament now for 15 years. I think it's a good idea to make sure we

retain our MEPs who have constructed engagement and experience to help steer us through this incredibly complex and difficult time.

GORANI: But it's quite possible that you'll take your seat, and whether it's in June or in October or at a future date, that you'll have to -- that

you will not complete your term.

KARIM: Well, it depends on what happens in the British parliament. With the deadlock that we currently have, that cannot continue forever. And so

either they have to reach an agreement in the parliament and resolve this, or, ultimately, much as people don't want this to happen, we are very

likely then going to have to go back to the people refer the Democratic exercise either by way of --

GORANI: A second referendum.

KARIM: -- general election or a further referendum.

GORANI: You're a conservative. Would you favor a second referendum?

KARIM: I think in the circumstances, if there's deadlock in parliament. I don't see an appetite in parliament for a general election, then you left

with no choice, but to go back to the people and say, we're very sorry, you were promised a very easy Brexit process with immediate prosperity at the

end of it. That is not deliverable. And therefore, we're coming back to you. We're being absolutely honest with you. We cannot deliver that.

This is what we can deliver. Is that what you want or would you rather just remain in the European Union?

GORANI: You're in favor of remain, the status quo?

KARIM: I voted for remain. I campaigned for remain. I still take the view actually that British interests are much better served by us being in

the European Union. If there is a further referendum, bear in mind, the deadlock that exists, the first protocol, of course, is and my preference

is that parliament should resolve this.

But if parliament can't, then there needs to be a further referendum with remain as an option and I will campaign for remain.

GORANI: For remain. Is the conservative party helping you financially with this campaign?

KARIM: No. This really is an unprecedented situation. The conservative party, I'm afraid, really has deserted the election battlefields.

GORANI: So you're getting no help?

KARIM: And that's something that I think the party is going to regret in the long term. We, as candidates, really have just been sent out and told,

you're on your own. Get on with it, guys. Let's see how you get on.

GORANI: How are you raising funds to finance it then?

KARIM: Well, incredibly, incredibly difficult. Because of the situation being the way it is, you can imagine not many people, at all, are happy

about contributing funds towards conservative election campaigns. So certainly in my case, I am personally financing the European parliamentary

election campaign that I'm undertaking in the --

GORANI: From your personal funds?

KARIM: Yes, absolutely.

GORANI: All right, Sajjad Karim --

KARIM: Thank you.

GORANI: -- member of the European Parliament. Thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

The Conservative and Labour parties are both divided on Brexit, as we've been discussing with our guest. But two newer parties are taking clear

positions. Again, we discussed that with our guest. There's the Brexit Party, which is the name implies, wants to leave the European Union.

And then there's the Change U.K. Party, which wants a new referendum allowing Britain to remain in the E.U. Here's Nina dos Santos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN EUROPE EDITOR (voice-over): It's a lonely battle trying to stop Brexit.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. You're going to 25th of May for E.U. elections?

DOS SANTOS: Especially if you're the newest name on the ballot sheet. Founded by rebel members of the Labour and Conservative Parties, Change

U.K. wants to keep things the same.

At least as far as Britain's relationship with Europe is concerned.

CHUKA UMUNNA, BRITISH CHANGE U.K. MP & SPOKESMAN: On the remain side of the argument, people could criticize us, but nobody could say that we don't

have a clear position, which is people's vote remain.

DOS SANTOS: That may be music to the ears of the people in Brighton. One of the many pro-E.U. areas that changed U.K.s targeting up and down the

country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It kind of feels like, as a remainer, you are not represented by what should be the Labour Party and lead times up, enough

political force to really speak up for you, so it would be good if a party could speak up to the people. Because we are 49 percent of the whole

country.

DOS SANTOS: But not all euro files think that voting Change U.K. will change much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The only way we have a chance to have a say in staying in the E.U. is to go with the party that has the best chance of

winning over the Conservatives or even Labour at this point. And it would be, I feel, just for this one time leave debt.

DOS SANTOS (on-camera): The party is fielding 70 candidates from a pool of 3,700 who applied. Well, here in new London, which voted overwhelmingly to

remain inside the E.U., Change U.K. may sound one of the better chances of getting some of the eight seats up for grabs.

[14:50:05] DOS SANTOS (voice-over): Among the candidates, famous faces from T.V., who once grilled politicians, themselves, for a living.

GAVIN ESLER, CHANGE U.K. EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT CANDIDATE: People have thought about Brexit and they've changed their minds. And the opinion

polls seem to show that.

DOS SANTOS: But your party is not doing great in the polls.

ESLER: I've been in this for two weeks and two days, the party has been going, I think, for six weeks. We're not doing advantage. We'll see. I

think we'll get some seats. I hope we will. But the point is to get as big a remain voice as possible.

DOS SANTOS: Like its main opponent, the Brexit Party, Change U.K. has plans to take its vision to Westminster.

ESLER: We want to end Brexit, because it sucks only in the British politics and then we want to fix some of the reasons people voted for

Brexit.

DOS SANTOS: However, that's a message that might fall on deaf ears.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stop Brexit and vote Change U.K.

Nina dos Santos, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: Before the break, I want to tell you about a chilling new study that says that sea levels may actually have been rising a lot faster than

previously thought.

Researchers say global sea levels could rise by more than two meters by 2100. Mainly due to the melting of ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica.

That's about twice as much extra sea water as estimated by the U.N. climate panel back in 2013.

The authors say it's a worst-case scenario, but not an impossible one. Experts say if the seas do rise that much, coastal cities like New York,

even London, Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo, would be threatened.

When we come back, remembering the life of one of the greatest Formula 1 drivers history. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: The racing world is mourning the loss of one of its greatest champions today. Niki Lauda who won 25 Formula 1 races and three-season

championships died at the age of 70.

His story was so amazing. Hollywood made a big budget movie about it. Here's CNN's Amanda Davies.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN INTERNATIONAL SPORTS ANCHOR (voice-over): Legend is sometimes too often thrown around in sport. Not with three-time Formula 1

champion, Niki Lauda.

He defied his wealthy Viennese family's expectation to go into business, opting instead the life in the fast lane.

By 1974, he'd earned a seat as a driver at Ferrari. He won his first world title just a year later. But at the German Grand Prix in 1976, in the heat

of battle with great rival, James Hunt, a fiery crash nearly cost him his life.

NIKI LAUDA, THREE-TIME FORMULA 1 CHAMPION: When I came to the hospital, you know, you feel like kind of -- very -- you very feel like you are very

tired and you would like to go and sleep. But you know, it's not just going sleeping, it's something else. And then you just fight with your

brain. You hear noises and you hear voices and you just try to listen what they're saying and you tried to keep your brain working.

DAVIES: Incredibly, having been read his last rights, he was back in his race car just six weeks after the accident. Lauda fought hard for driver

safety, but knew that part of formula one's appeal came from its risk.

LAUDA: Why are we watching? Good racing, a bit of danger, always there, and unbelievable driver performance to keep these cars under control.

[14:55:06] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The racing drags match of the decade.

DAVIES: It was his rivalry with James Hunt that was turned into the 2013 a movie, "Rush," staring German actor, Daniel Bruhl as Lauda.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To be a champion, it takes more than just to quit.

DOS SANTOS: In later years, he became a successful entrepreneur and started an airline.

Most recently before a lung transplant in 2018, Lauda was ever present in the Formula 1 paddock in his role as non-executive chairman of Mercedes.

In a statement, they said, "His passing leaves a void in Formula 1. We haven't just lost a hero who staged the most remarkable comeback ever seen,

but also a man that bought precious clarity and candor to modern Formula 1. He will be greatly missed as our voice of common sense."

As him chairman, Lauda used that common sense to help navigate Nico Rosberg to his world championship title in 2016.

NICO ROSBERG, FORMULA 1 DRIVER: I'll always remember Niki as someone who's giving my life a lot. I'm very, very thankful. And who also was a huge

inspiration to me and to all of us out there. I think all of you as well, Formula 1 fans and Niki Lauda fans. First of all, with his fighting

instinct to never give up.

DAVIES: His death is mourned by the sport that he dedicated his life to.

Amanda Davies, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: RIP, Niki Lauda.

Thanks for watching. I'm Hala Gorani. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is up next with Isa Soares.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

END