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HALA GORANI TONIGHT
Gulf of Oman Ships' Crews rescued by South Korea and Iran; Pentagon May Be Considering Military Escorts for Ships; Sarah Sanders Retiring From White House Role. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired June 14, 2019 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:08] HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR, HALA GORANI TONIGHT: Hello, everyone. Live from CNN London, happy Friday. I'm Hala Gorani.
Tonight, Donald Trump blames Iran for the attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman, after the U.S. releases this video and calls it proof.
Sarah Sanders steps down, one of the U.S. president's most loyal defenders says she's leaving her role as White House press secretary. What will be
And the man suspected of shooting baseball star David Ortiz says he shot the wrong person. We're live in the Dominican Republic.
The eyes of the world are on the Gulf of Oman. Who is responsible for those tanker attacks and why are tensions rising now? The president of the
United States is leaving no doubt as to who he thinks is behind it. He's pointing the finger directly at Iran.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, Iran did do it. And you know they did it because you saw the boat. I guess one of the mines
didn't explode and it's probably got, essentially, "Iran" written all over it.
And now they're in deep, deep trouble. You can't -- you can't -- they don't have anything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you stop this action?
TRUMP: They -- there is no (inaudible) --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you stop these outrageous acts, where 30 percent of the world's oil comes in?
TRUMP: Well, we're going to see. We're going to see. We're going to see how to stop --
(END AUDIO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, Donald Trump was speaking on the phone to "Fox News." He was talking about this video. It was released by the U.S. military. It's
But the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, says it shows Iranian forces removing an unexploded mine from the hull of one of the ships. We will
take a closer look at that video a little bit later, and also the claims that there is intelligence to confirm that Iran is behind it. Certainly,
people are asking questions. We'll ask them for you a little bit later.
Unsurprisingly, Iran is defiant in response to the accusation. CNN's Sam Kiley has the details from the United Arab Emirates, close to where the
attacks took place.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Filmed by U.S. aircraft, this is the moment the Pentagon says that Iran's military
removed an unexploded limpet mine from a Japanese-owned tanker. Proof, the U.S. says, of Iranian operations to disrupt the export of oil through the
Amid rising tensions and fear of all-out war, the U.S. secretary of state issues a stark warning.
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: Taken as a whole, these unprovoked attacks present a clear threat to international peace and security, a
blatant assault on the freedom of navigation and an unacceptable campaign of escalating tension by Iran.
The United States will defend its forces' interests and stand with our partners and allies to safeguard global commerce and regional stability.
We call upon all nations threatened by Iran's provocative acts to join us in that endeavor.
KILEY (voice-over): On Thursday, the Japanese-owned tanker, Kokuka Courageous, was hit by mysterious explosions. At a similar time, the
Norwegian-owned vessel, the Front Altair, also reported an unexplained attack.
The allies have stopped short of outright blaming Iran for the incidents in the Gulf of Oman. But a U.K. intelligence source says that they have no
doubts about the U.S. Navy video. Iran, meanwhile, says it has helped rescue the stricken ships and given safe haven to the 23-man crew of the
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I am from Russia. The service was excellent. They have hosted us really well. Everything is fine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I am from the Philippines. Everyone here has taken good care of us.
KILEY (voice-over): Such scenes do nothing to relieve the tensions that are caused by longstanding regional rivalries, but inflamed by Iranian
backing for the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria and Houthi rebels in Yemen. The UAE is calling this a dangerous escalation.
ADEL AL-JUBEIR, SAUDI MINISTER OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Iran has a history of doing this. We've seen them attack four tankers recently.
We've seen them launch missiles at Saudi Arabia through the Houthis, attacking pumping stations of oil pipelines in Saudi Arabia. And we've
seen them provide the Houthis with ballistic missiles, more than 225 of which they launched against Saudi citizens.
KILEY: The two ships attacked allegedly by mines are being salvaged at the moment. And one of them is reported to be on its way to this port, here in
the United Arab Emirates. It will join another four on this coastline that were attacked just a few weeks ago in May.
And all of them are symbolic of just how explosive this region has become since the United States put a stranglehold intended to throttle the ability
of the Iranians to export their oil through that landscape.
KILEY (voice-over): Iran is denying any connection to the alleged mine attacks. "That the U.S. immediately jumped to make allegations against
Iran without a shred of factual or circumstantial evidence only makes it abundantly clear that the B-team is moving to a plan B: sabotage diplomacy
-- including by Abe Shinzo -- and cover up its economic terrorism against Iran.
[14:05:04] America has sent the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier group, plus a bomber task force with two stealth fighter squadrons, to the region to
reinforce its presence. But how to proceed on Iran is still a source of contention between U.S. and its allies. Even the U.K. has refused to join
this military escalation, friction between friends that Iran is certain to exploit.
GORANI: Well, that was Sam Kiley there. And we've got this story covered like no other network. CNN's Sam Kiley is in the port city of Khor Fakkan
in the UAE. Ben Wedeman is in Abu Dhabi. Fred Pleitgen is live in Tehran for us this hour.
Sam, what's the situation now, after those attacks a couple of days ago on those tankers, where you are?
KILEY: Well we understand from Barbara Starr, our Pentagon reporter, Hala, that sources are telling her that the Front Altair, that was expected to be
taken to the port behind me by about lunch time tomorrow, being towed by two rescue tugs as part of a salvage operation.
It's now allegedly being harassed by Iranian naval vessels from the IRGC. Small Iranian attack boats are allegedly getting between the tugs and the
stricken ship, preventing its movement.
We have been able to see, indeed, on the live tracking apps that now exist these days, that that ship has not been heading in the direction that it
was expected to, but has either been stationary or heading in the opposite direction. As I said, that is reporting from Barbara Starr but consistent
with messaging coming out of the Pentagon, that they believe that the Iranians are at least very much behind at least part of the exploitation of
this situation -- Hala.
GORANI: And Fred Pleitgen, you're in Tehran. So what are you hearing from Iranian sources and authorities there? Because Barbara Starr at the
Pentagon, as Sam is reporting there, is reporting to us that Iranian vessels are preventing tugboats from towing away those damaged tankers.
What are you hearing?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, on that specifically, the Iranians haven't commented yet. But essentially,
what the Iranians have been saying, ever since this incident took place, Hala, is that they are responsible for the safety in the Gulf of Oman in
that area. So they believe that they're the country that needs to go and help, first of all, the sailors that were there.
We saw, I think, in Sam's report, some of those sailors who eventually ended up on an Iranian island (ph). Apparently the way that happened was
that some of them were initially rescued by a South Korean vessel and the Iranians came to them and said, "Look, give those people to us and then we
will bring them to safety." And apparently the South Korean vessel essentially complied with that request.
So the Iranians certainly, unmistakably saying that in those waters, they believe that they are the ones who should be in charge there. And, you
know, I've been in that area before, in the Gulf of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz. Those are Iranian patrol boats, they are small but they certainly
are very, very quick boats.
And I think one of the other things that Barbara Starr found out as well is that the USS Bainbridge yesterday, that came to aid one of those ships,
also said that it was interfered with, apparently, by some of those small Iranian patrol boats.
So unclear who's at fault or what exactly is going on there. Again, the Iranians haven't commented on (ph) yet. But they say essentially, for the
safety of what's going on in that certain part of the Gulf of Oman, they believe that they're the ones who should be in the lead. Obviously the
United States thinks all that -- thinks very differently about that.
As far as the incident itself is concerned, the Iranians are still very much denying that they are behind it. Essentially, what they're saying is
that they dispute that they did this. They're not actually debating that video that we saw in Sam's report. They -- you haven't seen much of that
on Iranian television.
But one of the things that, for instance, the Fars News outlet has said, which is a semi-official news outlet here, is they say that the American
account is false because they say that the owner of the ship, or the operator of the tanker that was in question there, said that the crew on
board that ship said that it was not struck by a mine. It said that it was some sort of projectile that hit --
PLEITGEN: -- the ship -- Hala.
GORANI: And Ben, you know, obviously people are worried because they think this is getting the region closer to open conflict. We've seen a
ratcheting-up of tensions, a very significant ratcheting-up in the last few weeks. How did we get here so fast?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, really, it goes back to the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign, when then-private
citizen Donald Trump made it clear that one of his priorities was to scrap the 2015 Iran nuclear deal that Barack Obama had negotiated.
[14:10:00] And what we saw is that in April of last year, he appointed John Bolton as his national security advisor. Mr. Bolton has long been a vocal
proponent of regime change in Iran, of bombing Iran to stop its nuclear program.
A month after that, the United States unilaterally pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, which Iran had, until just last month, actually abided by.
And in the meantime, the United States has ratcheted up sanctions, economic and political, diplomatic sanctions on Iran, which have seen Iran's oil
exports cut by basically -- now, they're now a fifth of what they were before.
So this is war by another means by Iran, that's been waged on the United States. And the only surprise, really, at this point, is that the Iranians
have taken so long to respond -- Hala.
GORANI: All right. Ben Wedeman and Fred Pleitgen, Sam Kiley, thanks to all three of you.
Let's take a closer look at that video now. I wanted to bring in CNN military analyst John Kirby for that. He's live in Washington for us.
And it's that grainy video that the U.S. says proves that Iran was behind the tanker attacks. Let's put that up on our screen. First of all, just -
- this may be a dumb question, but how was this video filmed? I mean, is this satellite imagery? How did they get that close?
JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: No, I suspect that's an aircraft, that would be my guess. And we obviously can -- do have the
capability to record video in the -- in -- at night in the dark. So that's what that is. I'm sure that's where it came from.
GORANI: But --
KIRBY: It's good video, I'm --
GORANI: -- how can you tell based on -- yes.
GORANI: Sorry to jump in there. How can you tell, based on this video, who's on that boat?
KIRBY: Well, I mean, this -- you know, you have to understand, we were probably tracking that boat for quite a while. So they probably have a
sense of where that boat was coming from.
The only video they released is them alongside the ship, removing the limpet mine. But I have no doubt that they were tracking that boat all
along. It looks to me like a boat belonging to the IRGC navy, not the Iranian state navy. There is a difference. And I think that's what this
And I'm actually really glad to see that they did this. I'm also convinced, Hala, that this isn't the only piece of evidence and
intelligence that they have that convinces them so surely that Iran was behind this.
GORANI: People around the world are skeptical after 2003. As you know full well, John Kirby, they remember --
KIRBY: Yes. Sure.
GORANI: -- when the U.S. presented, quote-unquote, "evidence" to justify the invasion of Iraq. And some people are looking at this and saying,
"Should we buy this wholesale?"
KIRBY: Yes. Look, I understand the skepticism. And, frankly, I think that's healthy. You know, for -- in a Democratic society and around the
world, for them to question leaders, to make those leaders prove their case.
But I have sailed those waters myself. I have followed this issue in Iran very, very closely at the Pentagon, at the State Department. I talked to
military officials myself yesterday, officials who work in the region.
I'm convinced, basically, on what I've heard and what they've been able to share with me, that Iran was clearly behind this. It fits their modus
operandi perfectly. It was in an area only 30 miles off the coast, near the strait. This is definitely a boat of the IRGC. I have no problem
being convinced of this.
GORANI: And who -- were were discussing this earlier, John, over e-mail. And you told me that you were part of an operation in the Persian Gulf that
GORANI: -- an operation to escort tankers in and out of the Gulf.
KIRBY: That's right. So this --
GORANI: And that something like this is under consideration by the Pentagon. What would that look like?
KIRBY: I would not be --
GORANI: There's a picture of you, by the way --
KIRBY: -- I would -- yes.
GORANI: -- all those -- all that time ago.
KIRBY: That was a long time ago.
GORANI: What would that look like today?
KIRBY: So this was Operation Earnest Will in the mid-'80s. Ronald Reagan ordered the U.S. Navy to help escort Kuwaiti tankers in and out of the
Strait of Hormuz because they were coming under attack by both Iran and Iraq, mostly Iran. And so our job was to keep them safe.
And it was the largest convoy mission that the Navy had undertaken since World War II. At its height, the Navy, U.S. Navy, put something like 30
ships in the Persian Gulf to conduct this mission, mine being one of them. We also were accompanied by French, Italian, British, Belgian navies. It
was an international effort.
I think that the Navy has certainly got to be considering that now as one option. I'm not saying it's the option they'll decide, Hala, but when you
look at what's --
KIRBY: -- happening, just the last two weeks, oil tankers being struck by Iranian mines, there's a logic to try to see if there's a way we can help
make that traffic more safe and more secure. So I would not be surprised at all if the Pentagon is considering --
KIRBY: -- this sort of mission.
Now, look, Hala, it -- you know, Operation Earnest Will was, like, 14, 15 months long. It's resource-intensive. It's expensive. Yes, it brought
the insurance rates down. It kept the oil prices steady. But it requires a lot of commitment and an enduring commitment by the United States. And
I'm just not sure that this Trump administration is willing to do that.
GORANI: And their allies as well, which they don't always have on-side when it comes to Iran.
KIRBY: Well, right. I mean --
GORANI: Thanks very much.
KIRBY: -- exactly.
GORANI: Yes. Exactly. That's one of the issues. We'll discuss this, I'm sure, in the coming days. John Kirby --
KIRBY: You bet.
GORANI: -- thanks so much.
[14:15:02] GORANI: Robin Wright joins me now. She's a distinguished fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace, Wilson Center. And she joins me
live from Washington. And she's also -- contributes to "The New Yorker."
And I read your piece today. How worried should we be, that this is leading us to all-out -- to actual military conflict here, do you think?
ROBIN WRIGHT, DISTINGUISHED FELLOW, U.S. INSTITUTE OF PEACE-WILSON CENTER: Well, I think no one wants a war. I think that's very true in Washington
and of course, obviously, in Tehran. The question really is what happens next And how does the world deal with what it -- what the United States
perceives as a threat to not just American interests and American allies, but to international energy supplies, the flow of oil supplies through the
Strait of Hormuz.
And one option is, obviously, U.S. intervention to reflag ships in the region. But is that a long-term option? What happens if there is yet
another incident? It looked very briefly as if there was a de-escalation after that initial tanker attack last month, on four other ships.
And the international community doesn't really have a means of dealing (ph) this. Remember, the world is very divided on how to deal with Iran. The
United States has walked away from the nuclear deal. The other five partners -- Russia, China and the Europeans -- have said they still believe
in the -- in diplomacy. The acceptance of a nuclear agreement with Iran is the basis.
Now that that deal is in question, the Iranians have put on the table, we're -- that they're going to walk away in 60 days, which comes up in
early July, if there isn't some kind of guarantee that its oil exports aren't allowed to flow, that its economic health isn't sustained --
WRIGHT: -- or guaranteed by the international community.
GORANI: But the Europeans have -- I mean -- if the Americans pull away -- and as you well know and many of our viewers around the world are aware of
this as well -- there's only so much the Europeans can do to continue to facilitate oil sales from Iran.
You can't do real business. All companies that have any link to the U.S. economy in any way could be sanctioned if they do business with Iran. It's
becoming virtually impossible, once the U.S. pulls away, for the Europeans --- even those attached to the deal -- to continue to honor its terms.
WRIGHT: Absolutely. The European companies have voted on their own to withdraw from the deal. Total, the oil company in France; Siemens in
Germany have all defied -- decided to defy their own governments and terminate the arrangements with Iran.
The European governments are stuck trying to figure out, how do you guarantee or reassure the Iranians that they believe in diplomacy as the
So one of the most troubling things about this moment is you see the tensions escalating, at a time there is no formula. And the idea of going
back and providing guarantees to tankers, tanker traffic is that this could become a very long and costly operation --
WRIGHT: -- with, again, no end in sight.
GORANI: And it's interesting that this happened, this attack on the tankers. If indeed Iran is behind it -- and it's an "if," still, very much
at this stage -- why do it when Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, is in Tehran literally on a diplomatic mission to try to ease tensions?
WRIGHT: That is one of the ultimate questions. And not only that, but the prime minister of Japan, on a day that a Japanese tanker was attacked, was
speaking with the supreme leader, the ultimate authority in Iran. Not a person like, perhaps, the president of Iran, who might be vulnerable to
This is -- you know, the idea that the Revolutionary Guards would humiliate the supreme leader is one of the reasons that there are a lot of questions
out there about what happened. Iranian vessels did also go to the rescue of one of the tankers. And used water to try to help put out the fire. So
we do have that one grainy video.
Needless to say, there are a lot of people who want to see the rest of the evidence, to make sure that it is indeed the Iranians. It fits their
pattern of the past for sure. But again, the United States has also been wrong.
GORANI: What is the U.S.' -- or I should say, this administration's end game? What do they want to achieve?
WRIGHT: Well, the United States clearly wants the Iranians to go back to the table, at least the president does. There are a lot of questions about
whether those who work for him are actually trying to use "maximum pressure," as they call it, to engage in some kind of pressure on the
regime or to foment a counterrevolution and regime change.
The -- I think the administration knows what it wants. But I don't know, in terms of getting the Iranians back to the table. But what happens if
they don't get them back to the table? How --
WRIGHT: -- far is the United States willing to go? There's so many questions that we haven't -- and we don't have international unity to back
the United States on this, which makes the U.S. position particularly vulnerable.
[14:20:08] GORANI: Robin Wright, thanks very much, as always. Pleasure having you on the program.
And still to come tonight, "Goodbye, Sarah Sanders." The White House press secretary best known for not holding news briefings is stepping down.
We'll take a look back at her legacy with Brian Stelter.
GORANI: U.S. President Donald Trump is praising his departing press secretary, calling her "a warrior." Sarah Sanders will be leaving her post
at the end of this month. She's been one of the president's most loyal defenders.
Mr. Trump says she's done an incredible job, but her tenure has been marked by a combative relationship with the press, and sometimes no relationship
at all. There weren't that many press briefings during her time. Let's bring in CNN's chief media correspondent Brian Stelter. He joins me from
What will be her legacy, do you think?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: I think, number one, it's that she diminished the stature of the White House press secretary role.
And she contributed to this assault on the truth that we are all experiencing.
You know, you've been talking about these attacks on these tankers. People need to be able to trust what the United States government is saying and
what the White House is saying. But that trust has frayed so much. It's eroded so much, due in part to Spicer -- Sean Spicer before, and now
Sanders in this job.
Of course, it all starts from the top. It all starts with President Trump and his dishonesty. But Sanders didn't help make things any better. She
was in the job for almost two years. At first, she shortened the briefings. Then she pretty much stopped having them altogether.
TEXT: Sarah Sanders Stepping Down: Resignation comes on 94th straight day without W.H. briefing; Longest stretch in more than two decades; Eight
briefings in the last 300 days
STELTER: There's only been six on-camera briefings in the last 300 days; the most recent one was 95 days ago. So essentially, she killed the White
House daily briefing. I think that'll be her greatest legacy. But unfortunately, a disappointing one.
GORANI: Who will replace her?
STELTER: Right now, there's a question about whether anyone will replace her. Does the president need a press secretary if there's not going to be
But there is an expectation that he will appoint someone, at least on an interim basis. Perhaps Hogan Gidley, one of Sanders' deputies; or
Stephanie Grisham, who right now is the first lady's press secretary.
But of course, none of it matters if we're not getting accurate, honest information. If there's not truthful information coming from the press
office, then it doesn't really matter who's in charge. And you got to count me down as being skeptical that we're going to see a sudden
improvement in the reliability of the White House press shop (ph).
GORANI: And there are reports that she's considering a political career as her next chapter?
STELTER: Yes. And it might be interesting to imagine, four years from now, when the -- actually three years from now, when the Arkansas governor
house is open, there's talk about whether she might run for governor, follow in her father's footsteps.
But imagine this. The Arkansas Governor's Mansion, that's where Bill Clinton got his start many decades ago. Be interesting to think about
Sarah Sanders having the same job someday.
And, you know, there -- there's (ph) always (ph) speculation about whether she will get a job in television. You know, oftentimes, these kinds of
White House aides get TV talking head jobs after leaving the administration.
[14:25:07] I think for Sanders, though, her options are very limited. I don't think most networks would be interested in hiring her, given the
documented pattern of misleading information that she was delivering from the podium. So I think her options on television are limited. That might
make her even more interested in a political role instead.
GORANI: Yes. And I mean, when you say she's changed the office, the role, of course --
GORANI: -- she has. But could it recover? I mean, that it's just -- it's really based on who the -- and linked to who the person in the White House,
the president, is, I imagine. Or has she --
STELTER: -- yes, to (ph) who the leader is. Yes.
GORANI: -- do you think she's fundamentally, in a lasting way, altered the role of press secretary?
STELTER: Well, partly the question is, you know, if you're running press or comms for a president, how much do you push back? How much do you stand
up to your boss when they're calling reporters "the enemy of the people"? I think maybe Sanders was doing that more than we know, and that's an open
But I think what's going to be interesting in the next 18 months is, we see the Democrats about to start having debates, having all these events. What
we're seeing from a lot of the Democratic candidates is a direct response to the dishonesty and mendacity of Trump and Sanders and others.
They are positioning themselves, a number of these candidates, as honest brokers. They're trying to create a contrast between the current White
House operation and what they say they will be.
It'll be interesting to see how much that comes through with the debates because Biden was very clear about that earlier this week. Joe Biden, in
one of his big speeches in Iowa, talked about the president's anti-media rhetoric and used it as an argument in his favor.
It's interesting to see how the Democrats are trying to take advantage of this reputation for dishonesty from the current White House.
GORANI: Brian Stelter, thanks very much. Appreciate it.
STELTER: Thank you.
GORANI: The WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, will remain here in Britain in custody, at least for now. Whether or not he will be extradited to the
U.S. will be decided next February. The date was set by a British judge, earlier at the first hearing on the matter.
The U.S. detailed all 18 charges against him, including those under the Espionage Act. Assange supporters gathered outside the courthouse to hear
the ruling today.
Still to come tonight, Mexico moves to implement a new immigration deal with the U.S. We are live at the border, a border that could make or break
that agreement. Plus a stunning statement from the suspect in the shooting of baseball star David Ortiz. He meant -- he meant to -- he says, I should
say, he meant to go after someone else entirely. We'll be right back.
GORANI: Mexico says it's starting to follow up on its new immigration deal with the United States. The president of Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez
Obrador, announced new steps to cut immigration from Central America headed through his country to the U.S.
The plan involves deploying the national guard to Mexico's southern border by Tuesday. And this video shows the guard recruiting new members this
Mexico says it will also hire hundreds of civilian immigration workers.
Michael Holmes is standing by near Mexico's border with Guatemala. Tell us more about this plan and how realistic it is that it will limit the flow of
migrants heading to the U.S.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we heard the president, Hala, of course saying that that plan would have all of those
troops in place, thousands of them by Tuesday. That might be a little ambitious, to having to sort of scramble, I suppose, because of the deal
with Donald Trump.
I'll just show you what's going on here. These people have been here all day. All day, there's been a line here. They're about to go into this
building here to be processed and to sort of get the paperwork started so they can stay here in Mexico legally. These are people from Honduras, from
Guatemala, from El Salvador.
We met somebody from Haiti as well and somebody from Cuba so they're from all over. But mainly that Northern Triangle area that is so concerning.
People over the other side of the road, they're waiting for their paperwork too.
It's just extraordinary, it is baking out here. 1:30 in the afternoon, Hala, and it is hot and these people are here with little kids and they've
been out here for hours waiting for their turn to get in and be processed.
And at least begin the journey of being legal in this country. Many of them then, of course, want to move on to the U.S. We've been down on the
border. We've been up here. The interesting thing we told people, OK. Mexico is going to be putting troops down on the border, it's going to be
National Guard and so on.
Donald Trump doesn't want you to get to his southern border. What are you going to do? They say we want to go anyway. You cannot stop this. And
the reason for that is we heard of push and pull when it comes to migration. The push, we've been hearing horror stories, you know, a woman
who's been sleeping out here on the sidewalk for three days, because when she was in Honduras, she was told by the gangs we want your house, get out
or we'll kill you. She's out there with three little kids.
They don't appear on camera and tell her stories because they are terrified that there will be retribution. So a man with a 3-year-old girl, he was
also threatened and told that his life was at risk by MS-13, specifically. He was from El Salvador.
Endless stories of what they have gone through that has put them here. They don't want to be here. But the conditions back home are so horrible
and dangerous, and in many cases, life threatening, they felt they've had to make this move. And they're prepared to stand in the sun all day, get
What Mexico wants to do is to move those troops. It's going to be National Guard, it's going to be federal police, it's going to be others, down to
some key areas along the border.
But as we saw ourselves, that border is so porous, you've got a huge forests, you've got mountains, you've and rivers. How you cover that and
try to keep everyone out the way Donald Trump would like to do, it's going to be very difficult.
Mexico has the tariff paying over them. They feel they have to do something. This is what they can do, Hala.
GORANI: All right. Michael Holmes, thanks very much. Live very near that area between -- the border area between Mexico and Guatemala. Thanks.
U.S. President, Donald Trump, is on the defensive again about accusations he obstructed justice while Robert Mueller's Russia investigation was
underway. Mr. Trump got into a heated exchange on ABC News over what his former White House counsel, Don McGahn told Mueller.
Now, the Mueller reports says unequivocally that Mr. Trump, "Directed McGahn to have the special counsel removed." Mr. Trump suggests McGahn
actually lied under oath about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was never going to fire Mueller. I never suggested firing Mueller.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's not what he says.
TRUMP: I don't care what he says. It doesn't matter. That was to show everyone what a good counsel he was.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Why would he lie under oath? Why would he lie --
TRUMP: Because he wanted to make himself look like a good lawyer. Or he believed it because I would constantly tell anybody that would listen
including you, including the media, that Robert Mueller was conflicted. Robert Mueller had a total --
STEPHANOPOULOS: And has to go.
TRUMP: I never -- I didn't say that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Let's bring CNN White House reporter, Stephen Collinson, for more. I mean, that is quite an answer to a very, very direct and simple question,
right? Did you essentially say to McGahn, as he testified under oath to have Mueller removed? And he kept saying, "No, I didn't say that."
COLLINSON: Right, and it's the president's word against one of the most respected Republican lawyers in Washington and Don McGahn is somebody
that's very unlikely to be confused about what happened. This is a very interesting development, because McGahn spoke to Robert Mueller for about
30 hours in voluntary interviews.
[14:35:00] His chief of staff, Annie Donaldson, took detailed notes of exactly what was going on in the White House while he Don McGahn was the
White House counsel. Much of those notes appear to have formed the backbone and the evidence on which Robert Mueller made his report.
So the fact here is that Don McGahn is potentially quite a serious threat to the president, and I think that really explains the vehemence of his
remarks and the interview with George Stephanopoulos.
GORANI: Are we likely to hear from Don McGahn publicly?
COLLINSON: The White House has tried to stop him testifying to Congress. They are arguing that the communications between the White House counsel
and the president are subject to executive privilege, the tradition that allows a president to get advice from senior staff without believing that
it will be coming out in public and Congressional hearings. It looks like we're going to have a very long legal process.
But at the end of the day, the key question here is, will Don McGahn who is somebody who presumably wants to have an ongoing legal career, who has
already spoken to Robert Mueller, would he ultimately refuse a court order, potentially even an order from the Supreme Court to testify before
Congress? Would he sacrifice himself to protect the president?
Most of the legal analysts that you speak to about this believe that ultimately we will get to hear from Don McGahn and potentially also in
public in a way that could be very damaging to the president and, of course, he would be a key witness if we have got as far as impeachment
GORANI: Sure. What are the latest polls, by the way? Is this hurting Donald Trump's popularity at all in the U.S., this whole talk of -- and by
the way, I'm sure we haven't had a poll since he admitted to George Stephanopoulos that he would probably accept foreign help and dirt on his
rival during a political campaign, but just this whole everything surrounding the Mueller report and the discussion surrounding that, is it
COLLINSON: You know, it doesn't seem to be. The big question, of course, is whether it's hurting him at the margins among the people that he really
needs to win the election, suburban voters, women voters in places like Philadelphia or Denver. We haven't seen any evidence -- Trump has been
about -- between about 38 percent and 42 percent, 43 percent approval ever since he took office.
There was no sign yet that that bedrock of support is sort of starting to fray. And we know from most polls that there's still a majority of
Americans who don't want to go through the national trauma of impeachment. That's one of the reasons why Democrats are trying to get all these
witnesses like McGahn up on Capitol Hill to start putting in a case before the American people. That even if we don't go to impeachment, Trump is not
suitable for a second term and that all filters in to the 2020 election campaign.
But I think it would be worth looking out for some of these polls in the next few weeks. Generally what happens is Trump's approval rating will go
down, because some more moderate Republicans peel away from him and then three weeks, a month later, those Republicans come back after the sort of
outrage of a certain event starts to fade and then he goes back up to say 43 percent. But it doesn't look really like there's any big break in
public opinion right now.
GORANI: Stephen Collinson, thanks so much.
GORANI: To the Dominican republic now. And a bombshell allegation by the suspected gunman in the shooting of baseball legend, David Ortiz. The
suspect is now saying he shot the wrong guy. According to local media, he said in jail that he was paid to carry out a hit, but a hit on someone else
and he said he got confused and mistook Ortiz for his intended target.
However, prosecutors say they're not buying any of that. Ortiz survived the shooting and he's now recovering in an American hospital.
Patrick Oppmann joins me now from Santo Domingo. So, Patrick, why are authorities saying they don't buy the story of the suspected gunman that he
-- that he shot the wrong guy, that he was actually going after someone else?
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Great question. So they have interrogated the suspect. He confessed to them and they say that he
told them a very different story during probably a very lengthy and pretty tough interrogation. As well they have more evidence that they're not sure
what they said they have recovered phones, that they have now brought in two suspects who were already in jail, if you can believe it, Hala, who
were involved in the plotting. And this is not something that these alleged hitmen they came up with at the spur of the moment.
This is something that took quite a bit of planning. Quite a bit of coordination and they just do not buy this last-minute jailhouse, not even
interview of him screaming out between bars that it was all a big mistake and he meant to shoot somebody else without ever clarifying who that other
[14:40:06] What prosecutors have told me is that this suspect Rolfy Ferreyra Cruz is rightfully afraid of being in prison in a country where
David Ortiz is a living legend, is somebody who is worshipped and is afraid that in prison, he will encounter other people who have had David Ortiz's
similar background growing up poor in the slums here in the Dominican Republic, and they will probably take out what prosecutors told me acts of
vengeance against him.
And it's not a nice scenario to be in in this country. So they feel that he's trying to tell a better story, which was he didn't mean to shoot David
Ortiz, who's called Big Papi.
The problem prosecutors say is they have evidence that contradicts that. They have the suspect's own testimony, and that it is completely
unbelievable. They have told me that a Dominican would not know who David Ortiz is. He is one of the most famous people in this country.
GORANI: Sure. But why target, then, this living legend? What's the working theory here?
OPPMANN: We don't know yet, and if prosecutors and investigators know, which they said to us just the other day that they did not have a clear
motive, they are not sharing it. And it's a very lengthy process here. Once the suspects who are going to be back in court today are done with
this round of court proceedings, they could spend a year or two in preventative custody before they face trial and investigators are saying
they may not come out with a motive until then.
So we'd love to have answers now. People are going to have to be somewhat patient. But clearly, somebody who had some money, it's not a lot of money
apparently to hire hitmen in the Dominican Republic, only about $8,000. But there were cars, or motorcycles, there were guns. There were people
with extensive gang histories here and in the United States, who were involved. Already nine people charged with this crime and police say they
are not done yet.
GORANI: All right. Patrick Oppmann, thanks very much.
Hong Kong is bracing for a third round of demonstrations this weekend. The group's civil human rights front plans to protest Sunday, a controversial
bill that would allow fugitives to be extradited to mainland China. That's been the reason for all these protests in Hong Kong the last few days.
On Wednesday, police used -- police used pepper spray, tear gas, and rubber bullets to disperse crowds. Their tactics drew international condemnation.
Police say they had no choice. The protest started Sunday when organizers say more than a million people turned out, and we'll keep our eye on what
happens this weekend.
A powerful landslide swept through Southern China after days of heavy rain and flooding. Take a look at the dramatic video. The massive landslide
barred onto a road near a market, sweeping away the parked cars. Chinese state media say one man died. Rescuers worked for over three hours to free
-- the man trapped in his car, but he died on the way to the hospital, sadly. Authorities say more than 60 people have died in this flooding this
Still to come tonight, women members of parliament in Kenya are furious after a male lawmaker allegedly assaults a female colleague and it's caught
on tape. The latest, next.
[14:45:33] GORANI: Kenyan police are investigating a member of parliament who's been arrested for allegedly hitting a female colleague. Fatuma Gedi
shared this video on social media of what she says happened to her. She describes how fellow MP, Rashid Kassim, confronted her over a budget and
struck her several times in the mouth and jaw.
All female MPs walked out of parliament in protest upon learning of the alleged attack. One of them tells CNN that it's sad that male members are
threatened by their presence and that they should do their jobs and not hit women.
Women across Switzerland are on strike. They are taking to the streets in large numbers to demand equal pay, equal time, and equal respect. And
while there's been some progress on those fronts, the demonstrators say it's not happening quickly enough.
Hannah Wise of CNN Money has more.
HANNAH WISE, CNN MONEY ANCHOR: On one hand, regulation has improved very much. We signed it into the constitution, gender equality back in 1981.
And even just last year, we even had pay parity law put into force for some companies. But intangible effects in real life people are not seeing
If you look at women's salaries here in Switzerland, they're on average around 20 percent less than their male counterparts. And, of course, that
goes much further than just the monthly paycheck. You've got the pension part down 37 percent on their male counterparts because women are taking
time off to look after children.
And, of course, there's bonuses as well. You remember, UBS, Switzerland's first bank and, of course, a cornerstone of the financial industry. Just a
few months ago, they were back in the papers because women were claiming that their bonuses were cut while they were on maternity leave and some
women even resigned on that.
So while there is change on the regulation side, it's just not happening fast enough in real life. And I think a really good statistic to
illustrate this is from the world economic forum last year, which is, of course, held here in Switzerland on gender pay. They say that for women to
earn the same as men, it would take 108 years for that to happen. So over a century for women in Switzerland to earn the same as their male
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: That's a lot. That's a long time. Let's try to make it happen sooner.
More to come, including one country's plan to tackle plastic pollution. Canada is aiming to ban single-use plastics by 2021. I'll talk to Canada's
environment minister, next.
GORANI: Let's go to New Delhi now, one woman's fight against mountains of fabric waste. She set up a shelter for women who recycle the material into
fashionable accessories while generating income for themselves along the way. Take a look.
[14:50:12] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The simple act of recycling or repurposes waste destined for landfill can have a huge impact on a city.
Here in Delhi, it's at the heart of an initiative empowering some of the most vulnerable citizens.
VEENA LAL, FOUNDER, JUGAAD: Waste is a very big problem in Delhi. There is no concept of recycling, so most is going into the landfill which is
getting bigger and bigger every time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Veena Lala has run a homeless shelter in Delhi for over 20 years. Being a committed environmentalist, she came up with a way
to help those at the shelter and the environment at the same time. Turning fabric waste destined for the city's overflowing landfills into trendy bags
LAL: Fabric waste is one of the major part of the landfill, so we are taking care of that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every week, about 300 kilograms of fabric off cuts from the city's textile industry are delivered to the shelter. Veena and
the girls sort the massive bundles of material.
LAL: So it's around 60 or 70 women every day working with us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It takes the women one day to make one medium bag, while other more intricate designs can take up to three days.
LAL: We came up to this idea how to use this waste and can turn into a product which be sell. And out of that, they can self-sustain themselves.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Packed and ready for distribution, all the money earned from this point goes back to the women at the shelter. The goods
end up in a Jugaad shop located in downtown Delhi. Last year, sales reached almost $60,000.
LAL: If I don't do anything, then I'm part of the problems. But what I am doing then I'm part of the solution. So that's why I'm contributing to my
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Veen and her team recycled Delhi's waste one stitch at a time. Finding a profitable use for what was otherwise destined for
GORANI: Around the world, people are becoming more aware of the dangers of plastic waste and the danger that it poses to the environment. Canada is
taking some pretty drastic action. The country is planning to ban harmful single-use plastics by 2021. It includes bags, straws, that single-use
cutlery that you get in fast food joints, and things like that, stirring sticks for your coffee. All those types of things that you use once and
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the measures this week describing it as a problem we simply cannot ignore. Listen.
JUSTIN TRUDEAU, PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA: To be honest, as a dad, it's tough trying to explain this to my kids. How do you explain dead whales
washing up on beaches around the world, their stomachs jam-packed with plastic bags or albatross chicks photographed off the coast of Hawaii their
bodies filled to the brim with plastic they've mistaken for food? Making sense of this new reality for my kids isn't a struggle I face along.
People around the world are grappling with this every day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Canada's environment minister, Catherine McKenna, joins me now from Ottawa. What's the ultimate goal here? Because single-use plastics
are only part of the problem. What do you hope to achieve by banning them in 2021?
CATHERINE MCKENNA, ENVIRONMENT MINISTER OF CANADA: Well, we know we have a huge problem if we don't take action. We're going to have more plastics by
weight than fish in our oceans. And we're throwing value.
Plastics are an amazing invention, let's be clear. But right now, we're wasting it and we're filling up our lakes or reverse our oceans. I've been
in the high arctic in Canada where we found plastics in the bellies of marine mammals.
And so the goal is really to look at where do we have alternatives to single-use plastics that are sustainable and it's really keeping the value.
It's the circular approach, making sure that we keep the value of the plastics and the economy and out of our oceans. So the idea would be if
you go into a store, there would be an alternative of plastic bag that instead of plastic straws, people -- unless you really needed one, you
wouldn't be using a straw or there'd be a paper straw.
Cutlery, often -- we're using plastic cutlery. We use them for a few minutes and then we throw it away. It's just terrible for environment, but
it's also bad for the economy.
And so we just need to change the way we're doing things. It's like carbon pollution. We're working very hard on climate change here too. Because we
need to ensure that we have a more sustainable planet. It is not -- we cannot continue living like this.
[14:55:59] GORANI: So this takes effect in 2021 and these single-use plastic items will be banned entirely or will consumers be given a choice
if they pay, for instance, here in supermarkets in the U.K. If you pay 10, you buy the plastic bag. Will they be banned completely?
MCKENNA: We're looking at what's the best options. So in some cases bans, for sure, where it would be hard to collect. So I'd imagine, you know,
we're looking in things like straws, stirrers, where -- you know, the idea of being able to collect and recycle that would be very hard. And then
there are alternative ways you can deal with it.
As you say some stores already in Canada, they have -- they provide paper bags or there's alternative ways to deal with this. So I think it's just
looking at how do we do better.
I think Europe has been a great model. They're also on track for 2021. And I have to give huge shout out to David Attenborough. I was with him a
few weeks ago. And I think he is the one who's really captured the imagination of people showing these terrible images.
GORANI: Oh, for sure, yeah.
MCKENNA: And in Canada that's really had a huge impact. And we can do better and also the economic opportunity -- because I always talk about the
environment and the economy going together. We've calculated that we're throwing away $8 billion in value every year with plastics and that we can
create tens of thousands of jobs when we do better job recycling.
And Canada has a very -- it's not a very good statistics. We are only recycling about 10 percent of our plastics. That's terrible. We need to
increase that and we need to reduce the use of single-use plastics.
GORANI: All right. Well -- but you have bigger problems and the world has bigger problems, fishing nets, other plastic waste as well, but that, I
imagine, will be something that will have to be dealt with after the single-use plastic ban.
And, by the way, you mentioned Europe, the U.K. as well, from 2020. Other European countries are looking at it. I can't let you go without asking
you about the Toronto Raptors' win.
GORANI: Did you watch, first of all?
MCKENNA: I did. I was very tired because we've had a very charged week at parliament. But look, we the North. We the North.
GORANI: Well, because Justin Trudeau actually tweeted about it. I wonder -- I mean, the NBA finals, that's incredible.
MCKENNA: It is amazing. Canadians are so excited. We actually created basketball, just you may not know that fact. But we love basketball here.
My kids play basketball. We are so psyched and Toronto was awesome.
GORANI: Well, congratulations.
Catherine McKenna, the environment minister in Canada, thanks for joining us to talk about the ban on single-use plastics and the Raptors' win.
Thanks very much. Have a great week.
And that's going to do it for me. I'm Hala Gorani. Do stay with CNN. There's a lot more after a quick break. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is coming