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HALA GORANI TONIGHT
Analysis of Joe Biden's Recent CNN Interview; Iran Disputes Status of Tanker Held by Britain; British Royals Harry and Meghan to Have Private Christening; Life Amid The Bombs In Idlib, The Last Rebel Stronghold; Venezuela Opposition Leader Calls For Massive Protests; Venezuela Opposition Leader Calls For Massive Protests; E-Commerce Giant Celebrates 25th Birthday; Journalist Maria Ressa Talks To CNN. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired July 5, 2019 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:20] HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR, HALA GORANI TONIGHT: Hello, everyone. Live from CNN London, happy Friday. I'm Hala Gorani.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The idea that I'd be intimidated by Donald Trump? He's the bully that I knew my whole life. He's the bully
that I've always stood up to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: In an exclusive interview with CNN, Joe Biden hits out at Donald Trump. But the U.S. president says he's just fighting for the United
States. We have full analysis.
Also, Iran threatens to retaliate as it says the seizure of its tanker by the British amounts to piracy.
And coming into its prime, 25 years on, how Amazon moved from a garage in Washington State to become a trillion-dollar company.
He is still the Democratic Party frontrunner, but there is no doubt, U.S. presidential hopeful Joe Biden has taken a big hit in the polls, ever since
coming under fire in last week's Democratic debate.
Now, the former U.S. vice president is fighting to reclaim lost ground. In an exclusive interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo, Biden acknowledged he was
not prepared for Senator Kamala Harris to attack his record on school busing. But he says he's more than ready to take on Donald Trump, head-to-
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, CUOMO PRIME TIME: You think that what's happening with Harris is anything compared to what would happen with you and this
BIDEN: No, but everybody knows who this guy is. Come on, man. Come on.
CUOMO: How do you beat him?
BIDEN: I beat him by just pointing out who I am and who he is and what we're for and what he's against. This guy's a divider-in-chief. This
guy's acting with racist policies. This guy's moving to foment hate, to split. That's the only way he can be -- sustain himself.
CUOMO: Nothing about him worries you?
BIDEN: Sure, he worries me. In the sense that I'm looking forward to this, man. He walks (ph) behind me in a debate, "Come here, man." Don't
you think I -- you know me too well. I mean, the idea that I'd be intimidated by Donald Trump? He's the bully that I knew my whole life.
He's the bully that I've always stood up to. He's the bully I used to make fun, when I was a kid, in (ph) the (ph) stutter and I'd smacked him in the
Look, this is not -- but that -- they -- I think the American people want a president who has some dignity, who has a value set, who is actually trying
to restore the soul of this country.
So when they turn on the television, they look up, and their kids say, "I want to be like that guy or that woman."
GORANI: That bully comment got President Trump's attention. Listen to how he responded a few hours ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think I'm a bully at all. I just don't like taken -- being taken advantage of by other
countries, by pharmaceutical companies, by all of the people that have taken advantage of this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, Biden has a fine line to walk to win the Democratic presidential nomination. He cannot alienate the left wing of his party.
But if he strays too far from his centrist roots, it could cost him votes in a general election. Let's talk about all this with CNN White House
reporter Stephen Collinson. We're also joined by Bonnie Greer, and American-British playwright, novelist, critic and broadcaster.
And, Bonnie, I want to ask you first of all, reaction to what you heard here from Biden. Because he did take a hit from Kamala Harris in that
debate, specifically on the busing question.
BONNIE GREER, PLAYWRIGHT, AUTHOR AND COMMENTATOR: Well, partly, we're looking at a generational divide. This is a situation in which you've got
two generations now actually facing one another. This hasn't happened before.
So Joe made a mistake, actually. He didn't know how to deal with Senator Harris, mainly because she's a woman of color, and she blindsided him. So
now he's got to sort of make up ground there. He's woken up a little bit of that base, of the Millennials. They're starting to look at him again.
But the problem for the rest of the candidates is that the people who vote in the Democratic Party will probably vote for Joe at this point in time,
even though he's taken a hit in the polls.
GORANI: Stephen, do you agree on -- with Bonnie here on this, that Kamala wounded him, he's still the frontrunner and probably the most likely to be
the preferred candidate of Democrats to face Trump?
STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: I'm not sure any more that I think that he will be the most preferred candidate among Democrats. I
think we're still very early in this. I think what this interview shows, is just how much damage the debate did to Vice President Joe Biden.
You hear him talking there about how he would stand up to Trump. That is his biggest asset. If you look in the polls, most people polled in the
Democratic constituency believe that Biden would be the best person still to take on Trump.
[14:05:00] But I think what Kamala Harris did was start a conversation about whether that's actually true. It seemed to me that she put forward a
performance that suggests that she would be able to also stand up to President Trump in a debate. And I think in the previous night's debate,
so did Senator Elizabeth Warren.
So I think the fact that Biden is now coming out and having to do interviews after trying to keep away from the press, and he's being much
more aggressive on the campaign trail, tells us that his campaign believes it was hurt by that first debate.
Bonnie, stand by, I'll get to you. But I want our viewers to hear a little bit more of the interview, and specifically what Joe Biden said about NATO
and these big international organizations, that the president of the United States has so disparaged and threatened to walk away from. This is what he
said specifically about the military alliance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: What bothered me abroad is, look, the idea that we can go it alone with no alliances for the next 20 or 30 years, is a disaster. How are we
going to deal with stateless terrorism without doing what I've been able to do with the president, put together coalitions of 50, 60 nations to take it
I come out of a generation where we were trying to be the policemen of the world. We can't go in every place. We need allies. He is absolutely
dissing (ph) them. He's embracing thugs. He's embracing Kim Jong Un, who is a thug. He's embracing Putin, who is a -- who is a flat dictator. He's
embracing people who, in fact -- and he's stiff-arming our friends. He's threatening NATO, to pull out of NATO. I mean, come on.
CUOMO: He says he's gotten NATO to give in more money --
BIDEN: Oh --
CUOMO: -- for their defense --
BIDEN: -- give me a break.
CUOMO: -- because of his tactics.
BIDEN: Oh, come on, man. And by the way, the idea that NATO think -- let me put it this way. If he wins re-election, I promise you, there will be
no NATO in four years or five years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Bonnie, is that likely to win on votes, though? Because his base is quite happy with Donald Trump's efforts to either dismantle or pull the
U.S. out of these big -- because they blame big international organizations and the establishment and the elites in their minds, for all their
GREER: You know, Donald Trump's base is a -- actually the -- some of it is the Obama-Biden coalition, who decided they were going to give Donald Trump
a shot. They didn't want Hillary Clinton, they were going to give him a chance.
Trump has been buttering them up, and that's all he's been doing for the last three years. Some of that base, they actually -- a lot of them don't
-- some of them don't like him. They'll go with him, but they kind of don't like him.
What the Democratic Party -- I'm not a Democratic Party member, but -- what it seems to me, is they're looking at who can beat Donald Trump. So far,
that's Biden. And the way we know is because Donald Trump responds to Joe Biden. He doesn't respond to anybody else.
GORANI: Well, because he's the frontrunner.
GREER: Well, not only that. He's afraid of him. He's afraid of him because Joe --
GORANI: Also, he's an easier target. I mean, if he went -- if Donald Trump started going after a woman of color --
GREER: Well -- well --
GORANI: -- it'd be a lot more complicated for him to attack her at this stage --
GREER: -- not -- not necessarily, not with his base.
GREER: See, not with his base. Joe -- a lot of that base, again, is the Obama-Biden coalition. Now, Joe appeals to them -- and he does appeal to
them -- they might start wavering. So Trump is nervous about it. You're right, he doesn't know how to go after Kamala Harris. But that's not going
to stop him --
GORANI: It'd be tricky for any male, I think --
GREER: -- but -- but that's not going to stop Trump.
GREER: That's not going to stop Trump.
GORANI: Quick, Stephen, I want to ask you about what Joe Biden said when he was asked if he would consider choosing -- if he becomes the nominee --
a female running mate. Here's how he answered that question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: I think it'd be great to have a female V.P. And if I don't win, it'd be great to have a female president. But the question is, whose
issues are best prepared in their wheelhouse? They've demonstrated they know how to deal with them.
CUOMO: Would you consider not having a woman as V.P.?
BIDEN: I would -- look, here's the first thing about being a V.P. I've learned. And that is that, today's environment, there's so much a
president has on his or her plate, they need someone they completely trust that they're sympatico with. Have the same -- the same approach, political
approach. And you can delegate significant authority.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: So, Stephen, we know the Democratic Party is ready for a female running mate or even a female nominee. Is the country?
COLLINSON: Yes, I think so. I think a lot of people looked at Hillary Clinton's defeat and concluded the fact that she was a woman, and that was
one of the reasons she lost. I think you can also point to a great many mistakes that her campaign made, and she also had a lot of political
baggage, both her own and from her husband and from the Obama administration.
So I think I would be surprised if a male candidate in this environment does not choose a woman as their vice presidential running mate. I just
think it makes a lot of political sense, given where the energy of the Democratic Party is right now.
[14:10:05] And especially in the wake of Hillary Clinton's defeat, many women voters believe it really is time for a woman president --
GREER (?): Yes.
COLLINSON: -- and I think therefore, you might see a woman be on Biden's ticket if he wins the nomination.
GREER (?): Absolutely.
GORANI: And -- and, Bonnie, I think when people say the U.S. is not ready for a female president, despite the fact that Hillary Clinton clearly had
baggage and had her issues and mistakes in her campaign, isn't that -- it that she was not running against any candidate. She was running against
And for some people, that the country would choose Donald Trump rather than her, signified to them that that had to have something to do with her
GREER: This was an incumbent, this was not an incumbent election. And Hillary was seen as the incumbent, although she had never been president
before. She had a lot of personality that people didn't like.
The women handed over the House in 2018. They will decide who will be the president of the United States in 2020. And if he puts Stacey Abrams on
the ticket, which I hope Biden does --
GORANI: Oh, you're thinking Stacey Abrams?
GREER: Absolutely. If he puts her on there, Symone Sanders is helping to run his campaign.
GREER: If they're smart, they'll put her on here and he's got it.
GORANI: OK. And she ran in Georgia.
GREER: She did. Yes, she did.
GORANI: As a Democrat, obviously, and --
GREER: She did. She is a Democrat.
GREER: She ran for governor in a very contentious election. If he can get her on the ticket, he's got it.
GORANI: All right. You heard it here first. Bonnie Greer, thanks.
I want to quickly ask you one last thing, Stephen. And that is about the more left-leaning candidates in the Democratic Party because obviously,
Biden is a centrist. I mean, he represents centrist politics for the Democratic Party.
You have Bernie Sanders and others, who are much more left-leaning. Where should the Democratic Party go to make sure it gets as much firepower lined
up against Trump as possible?
COLLINSON: Well, the lesson of the midterm election in 2018 was that more moderate, suburban Democrats were the reason that the Democrats were able
to win back the House. So the theory of a lot of campaign people is that we don't want to go too far left because we might alienate those people and
some centrists, you know, with the fact that Donald Trump is going to -- is basically going to say that the Democrats are running a socialist platform.
So I think from that sense, you know, they shouldn't go too far left. But the question is, this is a campaign debate. This is not something you can
predict. There is a groundswell of more left-wing thought in the Democratic Party. And it's not something necessarily that politicians can
So I think from that sense, that's why you have campaigns. The campaign and the platform of the eventual nominee will be decided by what comes out
of this campaign and what comes out of this very, you know, energetic debate on issues like immigration, on issues like health care, that the
Democratic Party's having right now.
GORANI: All right. Thanks very much. Stephen Collinson, have a great weekend.
Iran, once again, finding itself at odds with a Western country that is threatening to retaliate against, Britain, for seizing one of its tankers
off the coast of Gibraltar.
Britain says it's holding the vessel over E.U. sanctions violations. But Tehran calls the move "piracy," and Gibraltar's supreme court has now ruled
the ship can be detained for an additional 14 days.
Nic Robertson joins me now with the latest.
By the way, the Revolutionary Guard in Iran is saying it would be Iran's duty to seize a U.K. tanker if that Iranian tanker is not released. Its
duty. So they're, you know, saying essentially, they're saying --
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It's a message.
GORANI: -- these (ph) Britain (ph) tankers are at risk.
ROBERTSON: It depends how you read Iran. Either the Revolutionary Guard Corps is something that's beholden to the politicians, or actually they
kind of have a bit of a writ themselves.
They have been designated a sponsor of international terrorism by the United States. They've got a big chip on their shoulder about that. And
certainly, in this case right now, they feel that this is another part of the sort of maximum pressure that's being applied to Iran. And, yes, this
is them quite clearly saying to their leadership, "You need to respond to this and this is how you need to respond." So, yes, it escalates things.
And by the way, the supreme court in Gibraltar knew what this former Revolutionary Guard Corps commander was saying, knew the reaction from the
foreign ministry in Iran about immediate release, when they gave this 14- day extension. So the reply has already come. So the tensions on this are going up.
GORANI: What's happening on the waters? I mean, off the -- on the port, I'm sure, where this tanker is docked. What's going on? They're --
where's the crew? I mean, what's happening with this vessel?
ROBERTSON: So the crew are being questioned by the authorities --
GORANI: On the boat itself?
ROBERTSON: I'm not sure if they're on the boat or if they've been brought ashore. You would expect they would be brought ashore --
ROBERTSON: -- because it's much easier for them to come in front of investigators, and investigators, go backwards and forwards out to the
vessel, who -- there is -- there is a British naval vessel very close by --
GORANI: They're Iranian, the crew?
[14:15:01] ROBERTSON: No, they're not. The majority of them are Pakistani and Indian. There are 26 of them. They're being questioned not as
criminals, but as witnesses to try to find out why did the ship spent two and a half months at sea? Where did it go precisely?
Because part of the time, its transponder was turned off. So it was trying to be invisible.
ROBERTSON: So these are all questions for the crew. Plus, you know, precisely what was on board, where did they load it, where precisely was it
going. Because what the Gibraltan authorities say, they have reason to believe that it was going to Syria.
But there are also other experts out there who say they themselves have tracked this vessel. They think it was -- that it wasn't going to a port
in Syria, that it was actually Iranian refined oil, pure oil, that was going to be dispersed on ship-to-ship transfers in the Mediterranean as a
mechanism for Iran to sell its oil on to other countries. So there's even discrepancies about precisely what this vessel was doing.
GORANI: Well, that big circuitous route, the fact that its transponder was off -- so all of those things are things, I'm sure, investigators are keen
to get more information on.
Richard Dalton served as British ambassador to Iran while Tony Blair was prime minister. He joins me now from Yorkshire, England via Skye. And our
Nic Robertson is still here with us.
Ambassador, Iran is calling this piracy. They're saying this seizure is illegal. What do you make of Iran's reaction here?
RICHARD DALTON, FORMER BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO IRAN: It's predictable. This act by Gibraltar, supported by Britain, was a red rag to the Revolutionary
Guard bull in Tehran, there's no doubt about it.
But I think we'll see that there is one benefit, a big benefit of having diplomatic relations with a country. Which is that when a serious crisis
and a big disagreement breaks out, you've got a means of resolving it. And the means of resolving it is, first, the (ph) investigation.
And second, subject to that investigation, if indeed it is found that it was heading for Syria, breaching (ph) E.U. sanctions, which were
legitimately enforced by Gibraltar, then assurances are needed from Iran that it won't go to Syria. And on the basis of those assurances, after a
period of time, I'm sure the tanker will be released.
GORANI: And, Nic, you have a question for Mr. Dalton.
ROBERTSON: Yes. Ambassador, given that Iran is making what seems to be a threat here to British merchant interests in the Gulf, what will the
British government be doing at this time to make sure those vessels are safe? Will they be taking this threat seriously?
DALTON: Yes. Yes, they will. Bearing in mind that there's a history of armed clashes in the Persian Gulf waters, and this act has made Iran
extremely angry. So as a precautionary move, I would expect them to be locating any British (ph) vessels within (ph) reach of Iranian shores, and
telling them to keep clear until this blows over.
GORANI: Let me ask -- we're having just a few audio problems here. You're breaking up a little bit. But I want to ask you one last question. How --
and you were ambassador to Iran, U.K. ambassador to Iran -- how do you resolve this? Because the tension level is so high in the Persian Gulf,
now in the waters off Gibraltar, with threats to seize British tankers and drones being shot down. How do you resolve this diplomatically?
DALTON: Well, I suggested that it should be possible to get from Iran, assurances that they wouldn't deliver the oil to Syria, to the Baniyas
Refinery, which comes under European sanctions.
The European Union, Gibraltar, Britain have no objection to Iran selling its oil. And they need an assurance that Iran will sell this oil, will not
lose the value of the cargo. And on that basis, I believe a settlement would be possible. Britain and Iran have frequent major disagreements, and
are used to trying to resolve them in the interests of both countries.
Now, I'm not guaranteeing that there can be an ending after a number of days and good deal of diplomatic discussion in the way I'm suggesting, but
I'm saying that I hope that both countries are looking for a way out of that kind.
GORANI: And yet presumably there are now discussions happening, perhaps even at lower levels? I mean, they're (ph) -- because there must be some
real efforts being made here to defuse this.
DALTON: Well, indeed. The first thing is to assure Iran, this was not an action taken at anyone else's behest against Iranian oil sales. In the
wider context of the crisis over the nuclear agreement created by the United States, the aim should be to find ways to increase Iranian oil sales
overseas (ph). And to use that money to facilitate trade between European countries that is lawful in the eyes of Europe (INAUDIBLE) --
[14:20:33] GORANI: Richard --
DALTON: -- in order that Iran can get at least some of the (INAUDIBLE) --
GORANI: Richard Dalton --
DALTON: -- to which it is entitled. Can you hear me?
GORANI: -- thank you so much. We've having just a few audio issues there. We got the gist there of what you said, but it was getting bad, here,
toward the end. So we're going to have to leave it there. Thank you so much, sir, for joining us. Former U.K. ambassador to Iran.
Last thought, Nic. The ambassador was saying the U.K. needs to assure Iran, this wasn't done at the request of another country. But there are
reports that the U.S. is -- at least has urged the seizure of this ship.
ROBERTSON: The Iranians currently believe that because that's what we hear from their foreign ministry. And interestingly, yesterday, the acting
foreign minister in Spain said the same thing, that Britain had done this at the request of the United States.
Now, the authorities in Gibraltar today issued a statement saying this was not done at the direction of another country, this was not politically
motivated. So clearly, they are trying to take steps to give those assurances to the Iranians.
But you would also think, at the same time, in any conversation as the ambassador describes this sort of tense diplomatic moment, that questions
would be asked by the interlocutors. Why has the ship, why has this Iranian vessel been trying to hide its movements by turning off its
And there are experts out there who say this is a pattern of behavior to break sanctions. So, you know, if there is to be a good-faith agreement,
the tough questions will be asked --
ROBERSON: -- so it's going to be difficult.
GORANI: Nic Robertson, thanks so much.
Here in the United Kingdom, the country's largest ever modern-day slavery ring has been smashed. A gang forced more than 400 people to work for next
to nothing while the masterminds lived a lavish lifestyle. It happened in and around the city of Birmingham.
You can see some of the squalor they had to endure, here. Police say the group of five men and three women lured vulnerable people from Poland,
including the homeless, ex-prisoners and alcoholics with the promise of jobs, money and housing. We'll have more on this story, by the way, in the
coming days as we continue to report on it.
Still to come tonight, a right royal mess over Windsor as the British public pay a princely sum to renovate Harry and Meghan's home, is it their
right to -- or should they not be, I should say, locked out of the baby's christening? We'll be right back.
[14:25:10] GORANI: It's a big weekend for Britain's newest royal as Archie, the son of Prince Harry and Meghan, is getting christened at
Now, it should be a day of celebration, but the private nature of Archie's christening is becoming a royal pain. Critics are questioning why Harry
and Meghan are locking the public out, despite using public funds to pay for a $3 million renovation of their home.
Max Foster is in Windsor.
MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Hala, we know very little about the details of this event. And that's on purpose, and it's caused a bit of an
outcry, it has to be said, in the British media. This is a typical headline in today's papers.
In "The Telegraph," "Harry and Meghan, we welcomed you with open arms so don't shut us out now." Who knew such a small private royal christening
could turn into such a big public row.
FOSTER (voice-over): So far, we've had limited sightings of Baby Archie. So royal fans are holding out for a clear shot of his face this weekend.
EMILY NASH, ROYAL EDITOR, HELLO! MAGAZINE: We have had a few little glimpses of him, but everyone wants to see how he's developing, how he's
growing. And it's such a happy occasion.
FOSTER (voice-over): The couple have organized a small private ceremony at a chapel inside Windsor Castle. No media allowed, though they will have a
personal photographer there and will release pictures after the event.
This lack of media access has sparked criticism amongst some British newspapers and politicians, calling out the couple for refusing to allow
public access to the christening when $3 millions of taxpayer money has been used to renovate their private family home.
LUKE POLLARD, BRITISH LABOUR M.P.: But when you're still taking millions of pounds' worth of public money, money that could be spent on schools and
hospitals, to upgrade and refurbish what is, you know luxury palaces, you've got to ask yourself, what are the public getting in return.
FOSTER (voice-over): But there's been a counter-backlash from the army of Meghan and Harry fans on social media knows as the Sussex Squad.
TEXT: #SussexSquad must stay strong for Meghan. They want to break her and break up the marriage. No weapon form against --
-- consort, if they want to be thrifty.. it should apply to all royals #sussexsquad #teamsussex
What a nightmare! The Lies. The Racism! She doesn't deserve this #sussexsquad
GOLDBURN P. MAYNARD JR., LAW PROFESSOR: I don't see any kind of contradiction between their being taxpayer funding or public funding, and
the royals asking for some privacy.
FOSTER (voice-over): Professor Goldburn Maynard, who describes himself as an ally of the Sussex Squad, claims Meghan faces unfair scrutiny because of
MAYNARD: The default when it comes to Meghan, because she is a foreigner and she's not royal from the society, et cetera, is that when she does
something, she's doing something that's wrong.
FOSTER: Traditionally, christenings, royal christenings were private affairs. And it was only the Cambridges who more recently invited cameras
in to film the arrivals of their children's christenings. So actually, the Sussexes are just going back to tradition. But they've got a very clear
message here, which is that they're bringing up Archie as a private citizen -- Hala.
GORANI: Thank you, Max Foster in Windsor.
Still to come tonight, it is Independence Day in Venezuela. And for many people, the fight for freedom rages on. A new U.N. report is condemning
the government for human rights abuses. We'll see what's going on there. Stay with us.
[14:30:43] HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: In Syria, there is one last rebel stronghold and it is Idlib. A so-called de-escalation areas.
However, that's not the reality on the ground because the bombs keep falling.
But life, if you can call it that, must go on. The latest government offensive has killed hundreds and the region is teetering on the brink of
what could be a whole lot worse. Before we show you Arwa Damon's reporting, please note that you may find some images in it upsetting.
TEXT: The fighter jet is above Jabal al-Zawiya.
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There's barely enough of a lull for Abu Bakr to talk to us.
TEXT: Sukhoi 22, Mig 23, Sukohoi 22 from Homs in the same area. Warning to all cities and all areas, fighter jet warning.
DAMON: He hit the village, Abu Bakr tells us, relaying what he just heard on the pilot frequency. Abu Bakr, a former communications officer during
his Syrian military service cobbled together this rudimentary set up, to spy on the regime's radio frequencies.
"This one, we modified it to hear the strikes," the pilots," he explains, describing how he uses that information and what spotters on the ground
send in to warn people and rescue teams over the walkie talkie radios many now carry. There's no other way to protect the population.
Riza (ph) call on the radio about a plane. They're getting calls now on the radio.
These guys in southern Idlib Province, the last rebel's stronghold, feel like they are constantly filled with the menacing war of Syrian regime and
Russian fighter jets.
DAMON (on-camera): Let's go.
So, based on what they're hearing, one plane came by and dropped four bombs. Sometimes there are 12 planes at a time that are overhead.
Life, if it can even be called that, is dictated by the bombs.
Early morning lulls mean that the farmers can head out.
He says a barrel bomb fell over here.
Hassan tells us they came to their field one morning only to find it in flames. When we ask about his feelings, he turns and walks away.
DAMON (voice-over): It's not just about the loss of this year's harvest, it's the overwhelming realization of the price they are paying, the
scorched earth campaign repeatedly targeting Idlib's agriculture, ensuring that people will have nothing to return to, if they ever even can.
The bombings have crushed even more people up against Turkey's border. Over the last few months, hundreds of thousands have fled. There's no room
left at the main camps in the province. They cluster under the olive trees in makeshift shelters, even giving birth here.
Or as 88-year-old Maryam (ph) tells us, wishing she had been killed rather than live out the last of her days like this where she doesn't even have a
Some do venture back south to collect what they've left behind. Their towns and villages mostly abandoned, turned into the front lines.
Trenches are being dug, preparations for a ground war between the regime and hard-core rebel fighters.
In other towns previously bombed, shops reopen under the ruins, an act of sheer defiance or perhaps folly as jets despite Russian and regime denials
regularly target markets, bakeries, schools, and hospitals.
DAMON (on-camera): Right. There's an ambulance coming in.
DAMON (voice-over): People wounded are rushed into this hospital, the only functioning one in the area. The strike was close by, raising fears that
the hospital itself could be targeted again. It's already been hit multiple times before.
Another victim from another bombing is already undergoing surgery, while others in the ICU cling to life.
DAMON (on-camera): He just opened his eyes for the first time about 10 minutes ago after three days of no response.
[14:35:09] "My message is help us, that's it," Dr. Basil al-Ahmur (ph) says. We're human beings.
Ranaa (ph) thought she would be able to keep her children safe. They fled their home to another village but it wasn't far enough. Her son's face
etched with wounds, hers with a mother's pain too deep for words.
He was pulled out from under the rubble but two of her other children, they were killed. One was nine and one was five and a half, she tells us,
unable to say more.
In the same room, Butayna (ph) looks on helplessly at her son, just four years old, injured in the same strikes that day.
Humanitarian organizations are warning Syria is on the brink of a nightmare. Those who are living it will tell you that that nightmare began
a long time ago. What they're about to enter is an even darker realm, one that defies logic and imagination.
Arwa Damon, CNN, Idlib province, Syria.
GORANI: Extremely, extremely upsetting images in the Syria tragedy.
There is some cautious optimism in Sudan. A power sharing agreement that so many had been waiting for was reached. The deal was between the
country's ruling military council and the opposition alliances and thousands took to the streets waving flags and chanting. There is some
hope now for peaceful transition of power and the end of a deadly standoff that's been going on for weeks.
The two sides have agreed to share power for about three years before holding elections. But as the case with so many of these parts in this
part of the world, and in the Middle East and elsewhere, where there is hope for a transition to civilian rule, always cautious, optimism.
On Venezuela's Independence Day, National Assembly president, Juan Guaido, is urging people to take back their freedom. He is calling for massive
demonstrations Friday, demanding that President Nicolas Maduro resign. This comes after a damning new report from the United Nations that says
government security forces are sending death squads to murder young men and making it appear like they resisted arrest.
The report also details torture, sexual violence and detention, and the excessive use of force on protesters. Isa Soares joins me now live from
Caracas. Venezuela's capital.
And what's the expectation for this big demonstration that the opposition is calling for? Are we expecting big numbers?
ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we started roughly around 11:00 A.M. today. The crowd has dispersed. As you can see behind
me. Just so if I can get Will to film slightly how you can see just the crowd's making their way back.
But I have to say, Hala, they have been much, much more from the ones we have seen in previous occasions, not just with Juan Guaido, but also with
When I spoke to Juan Guaido earlier at the National Assembly, I put that to him, I said to him, "Look, it seems like you're losing momentum, the feel
that I have on the ground speaking to people is that you're losing momentum." He said, "No, we're not losing momentum at all. We still have
the people. We won't take it to the streets. We have protests throughout the country. And in fact, the U.N. report of torture just reemphasizes
what we already knew what's happening.
But the reality on the ground is very different. There is an element of fear, Hala, that I had noticed previously since I was here in February.
And people are pretty tired, are pretty exhausted, because they haven't seen anything come to fruition that February 23rd, that aide delivery, if
you remember me being at the bridge, well, no aide has arrived into Venezuela.
And then on top of that, that almost turn of events that we've seen in March the 30th, that also didn't pan out for Juan Guaido.
So people are feeling, look, we need change, but we also need to put food on the table. And given the climates of fear, given what we've seen from
Maduro, in terms of hitting the political opponents and torturing them, people are extremely worried.
GORANI: All right. You spoke to Juan Guaido, I understand, what did he tell you?
SOARES: Yes, I spoke to him not just about the fact where he's losing momentum, he said he wasn't losing momentum. Although the feeling on the
street, Hala, is in fact that he is losing momentum.
I spoke to one lady very interesting enough and she said to me, I can't do -- we can't do this alone. Juan Guaido can't do this alone. I said, "So,
what's the solution here?" And she said, "We need outside forces. We need other countries to get involved." And I said, "OK. United States?" She
said. "Yes." And you know what, she said, "The United States has to get involved. President Trump have to get involved," she said. Because he
needs the Latino vote. In order to get Latino vote for 2020, they need to vote, they need to help Venezuela and free Venezuela from the likes of
[14:40:04] I want to just get -- if I can get Will to come with me, Hala. If I've got time, just to get a couple of people.
Well, a quick question. Do you think that Guaido has lost momentum?
Every day on the streets, we've got this problem. We're not scared. We don't have to, together with Guaido.
Thank you very much.
So people will tell you that, but when I ask for interviews on camera, many people talking about how they see Guaido, how they see Maduro. Many people
wouldn't talk to me, especially those within the armed forces, which we have seen giving the torture of Acosta, the Navy officer. People very,
very frightful. The question now is, what can Guaido do with this, Hala?
GORANI: OK. Isa Soares live in Caracas.
Still to come tonight --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Why aren't you profitable yet?
JEFF BEZOS, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, AMAZON: Because we're investing.
GORANI: But why are investors dumping your stocks?
BEZOS: So I would take issue again with the premise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Needless to say things worked out all right for Jeff Bezos. His company, Amazon, is celebrating its 25th birthday and we're celebrating the
19th birthday of that interview. We'll look at the unbelievable rise to the top of Jeff Bezos. We'll be right back.
GORANI: Twenty-five years ago, a man started selling books out of his small garage in Washington State. It may not sound like the start of your
regular recipe for success, but then Jeff Bezos is no regular guy.
Today, his little book shop is one of the biggest companies in the world. Amazon is worth a staggering trillion dollars and a brand that changed
everything from the way we shop to what we watch on T.V, and even if you're a Kindle user, at least, the way we all read books.
Clare Sebastian is in New York with more. Talk to us about this anniversary, where the company is now, 25 years later, and where it's going
from here. Because it's really kind of achieved world domination already.
CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and I think, Hala, that has put at a bit of a crossroad. It's gone from the little
bookstores, you called it, to really the everything store the inside it is, the biggest player in the western world when it comes to e-commerce. But
it's not e-commerce, it's also web services business. It's a marketplace for other retailers. It's a real player now in entertainment. It's a
growing logistics business. The list goes on and on.
Not only that, Hala, but Jeff Bezos is now the richest man in the world. He has so much money that he can spend a billion dollars a year on the side
project, which is space travel.
But going forward, I think Amazon's sheer size is really going to be its biggest, almost liability. It's biggest Achilles' heel, the regulatory
drumbeat is growing louder and louder. We're hearing from everyone from the president here in the U.S. criticizing them for their, you know, almost
negligible gradual attacks filled to that treatment of the Post Office, the 2020 democratic candidates talking about worker's rights and Elizabeth
Warren even wants to break up the company.
[14:45:20] And I think that is going to be the biggest challenge the company faces going forward. How they manage this enormous power that they
have amassed over the last 25 years.
GORANI: Yes. You mentioned this criticism, workers safety, some workers have complained, that speed and efficiency has been put ahead of worker
safety. Also this nonexistent federal tax bill for a company that size that sits on that much cash.
By the way, we showed our viewers in the little teaser, as we call it before going to commercial break. I interviewed Jeff Bezos in the year
2000s when I was very young. Although for some reason, I had kind of not a very young haircut.
And I asked him about the fact that the company wasn't turning a profit, because that was a big deal at the time. At the time, they were really
only selling books. They had just started expanding into other products like gardening equipment. And I can't remember, and things were very
uncertain still for Amazon, in terms of whether or not, it would be a sustainable model for them.
Here's just a portion of that interview from 19 years ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: When do you think you might turn a profit?
BEZOS: Well, the company, as a whole, is not profitable. Our almost mature business which is our U.S., books, music, and video business was
profitable for the first time recently and continues to be profitable and had a 10 million dollar operating profit in the second quarter.
GORANI: Why aren't you profitable yet?
BEZOS: Because we're investing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Right. And the bit that I actually wanted to get to that wasn't in there is I was asking him this model that you have, which is spend and
increase revenue as much as possible and think about profit later. Is that sustainable? Clearly, it worked out for him.
SEBASTIAN: Yes, and actually, Hala, I had to look back, it took them -- they went public in 1997. It took them until the fourth quarter of 2001 to
turn to a quarterly profit and it wasn't until 2003 that they turned an annual profit.
And a lot of companies nowadays, you see the big companies like Uber that are going public, they looked to Amazon, they talk about it all the time as
the model of a company who was given a long leash by Wall Street because of faith in there, their future plans to basically not done a profit for a
number of years ought to going public.
This is a model that many, many other companies are trying to follow. But as we see, it has now really worked out for Amazon. In the last quarter.
They made 3.5 billion in profit.
GORANI: It's the same for Netflix, for instance, where it's all about acquiring as much content as possible, signing up as many subscribers as
possible, and worrying about profit down the line.
Now, that is one model, but it's a risky one as well.
SEBASTIAN: It's extremely risky. And, you know, it doesn't work out for everyone. And I think, you know, we can look at Amazon's rise and the
businesses that have fallen by the wayside as they've risen up. There are things like Circuit City, which eventually filed a bankruptcy. Toys "R"
Us, which filed a bankruptcy. These are legacy companies, but weren't nimble enough to adapt to the internet age.
And I think what has helped propel Amazon forward is not only their ability to innovate but their abilities diversify as well. This is what is now
attracting regulatory scrutiny, but they are so much more than just an e- commerce business that is what is -- it's now making them profitable.
GORANI: Right. I mean, they're content providers now. They produce and finance films and T.V. series. And it's a completely different company
with many, many different divisions. And the idea that politicians might be looking at is big, huge company and saying, should they be forced to
split up? That also is going to have to be a challenge down the line.
SEBASTIAN: I think as we look, Hala, the next potentially 25 years of Amazon, this is the biggest challenge they've faced, you know, there are
calls for them to be broken up, among many, many other criticisms that we're hearing from politicians on both sides of the isle. I think we can
take a listen to some of those criticisms now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You'll all be delighted to know that Amazon Company that made almost $11 billion last
year in profits paid how much in federal income tax, zero.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You can be an umpire to run the platform or you can have a team in the game. Run one of the
businesses competing with the other businesses. But you don't get to do both at the same time. So here is my pitch. I just want to break those
two things apart.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Amazon has the money to pay the fair rate at the Post Office which would be much more than they're
paying right now. The other thing is a lot of retail businesses all over the country are going out of business. So that's a different problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SEBASTIAN: So I think, Hala, as what's reflecting, we've come a long way from that interview 19 years ago where Jeff Bezos had to answer to the fact
that he wasn't making enough profit. And now, he's so successful. He has to answer to whether or not the power that they have is disproportionate to
what they should have.
[14:50:03] GORANI: Right. I think we've both aged well, Jeff and me.
Certainly my hair has -- is better, maybe even his.
Thank you, Clare Sebastian for that.
Still to come tonight, speaking truth to power, award-winning journalist, Maria Ressa talks to me about freedom of the press. You don't want to miss
this interview. We'll be right back.
GORANI: Maria Ressa is in London to talk press freedom. It's the topic the award-winning journalist know something about.
She's been arrested in her native, Philippines, more than once with rights groups saying Ressa -- apologies -- is being targeted because of her media
company's reporting of President Duterte's war on drugs, among other things.
For her efforts, she was honored by Time magazine as one of their people of the year after the publication recognized journalists who had been killed
and in prison.
I spoke to Maria and I began by asking her why she's such a target in the Philippines.
MARIA RESSA, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, RAPPLER: I call spade of spade, which is there are abuses of power, the law has been weaponized against us,
against other journalists. And we need to make sure that we shine the light on these.
GORANI: And part of the -- I mean, the fake news, the term fake news that Donald trump popularized, is now being embraced by your own president,
Duterte, Vladimir Putin and Donald, at the recent G20 Summit in Japan, even joked about these pesky journalists and fake news, conveyors of fake news,
this is what they said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Fake news. You don't have the problem in Russia. We have it. You don't have it.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA: Yes, yes. Yes, we have it.
TRUMP: You still have it?
PUTIN: Yes, the same.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: All right. Well, it's chilling, isn't it, to have the U.S. and Russian president's talk about you have that problem and --
RESSA: I think what you're seeing is, you know, Russia was up ahead in terms of disinformation, setting up these information networks. It used
information against operations against its own people first then the Ukraine. I looked at how the Ukraine dealt with the stuff and that's part
of the reason we looked at the data.
But when Trump, when the United States, which should be the beacon for democracy, works hand in hand, you have a dictator's playbook that pushes
us back. Uses the weapons against us.
But also gives license to others around the world to persecute journalists, right? Because if they hear the U.S. president say fake news, then they
think there'll be no consequences if they themselves go after reporters.
RESSA: I think this is what's happening in a lot of democracies around the world, when Trump called CNN and the New York Times fake news, a week
later, President Duterte called Rappler fake news.
Again, a playbook, right? You're seeing this kind of astroturfing on social media, we're getting attacked, bottom-up, exponentially, and then
once your credibility has been eroded, then top-down, authority comes and attacks you.
And President Trump has said this. When he attacks journalists, it's not even that he means to hold them accountable. It's just he attacks them
because he doesn't want to be attacked.
GORANI: Right. So what's the solution? How do we get back to journalists being able to practice, to do their jobs without fear of repercussion, I
RESSA: I think this is our battle. It is a battle for truth. And it starts -- again, the people who need to change this is social media
RESSA: This is truly the accelerant. When a lie is told a million times and it becomes a fact. That's truly happened, it's happened with us in the
GORANI: But isn't the genie out of the bottle there? How do you put it back in?
RESSA: So you demand accountability from social media platforms. They take -- they become the world's largest distributor of news.
GORANI: But can they control it?
[14:55:00] RESSA: Absolutely. I think they can, they just choose not to and we can see this now, right?
So Rappler -- what we've tried to do is to work in a constructive manner with them. We're both fact-checking partners. We're one of three fact
checking partners in the Philippines, but beyond that -- that's a whack-a- mole game, when you look at the lies, right?
RESSA: We look at the networks that spread those lies and then we demand accountability.
GORANI: So you were Time Person of the Year among other heroes of journalism and truth tellers. How has that changed your life?
RESSA: It's made me a bit uncomfortable.
RESSA: I prefer to do the story and not to be the story, but the circumstances have made it that. I am actually telling you firsthand about
the abuses of power I've seen. And right now, I found out about the Time Person of the Year from Twitter. And I actually sent it to our social
GORANI: They had not -- let me get this straight. They had not contacted you, beforehand?
RESSA: No. And CNN was the first --
GORANI: I find that very surprising.
RESSA: You know, at the beginning, my stomach sank because I was like, oh, my God, this means I'll be attacked more by my government. But at the same
time, I realized that that is also a protection --
RESSA: -- that it's shine the light us both are protection and our tasks.
GORANI: And posthumously, Jamal Khashoggi was on the cover of Time as well after having been murdered so viciously in Istanbul.
RESA: And that's also what was chilling because the people who were named Person of the Year, the journalists, I was the only one who was both alive
and free. At that point, the Myanmar -- the journalists in Myanmar were still detained, right? So I was thinking, is this where it's headed? I
hope not and that's part of the reason of anything.
I'm fighting harder to make sure that we continue doing our job.
GORANI: So the obvious follow up here is, why do you still do it if the risk is imprisonment?
RESSA: Because now more than ever, it's important to push back.
GORANI: You don't have to go back. You don't have to go back.
Ressa: I think, you know, when I was at CNN, I learned standards and ethics and during the good times, it's easy to follow them.
And unfortunately, the baton was passed on to me at a very difficult time, and this is the time that matter. So, yes, I have to go back. I will not
give up the moral high ground in here. And as long as the Philippine constitution stands, we will demand the rights that are under the
constitution. We'll do our jobs.
GORANI: The extremely courageous Maria Ressa.
Thanks for watching tonight. I'm Hala Gorani. I'll see you next time. Stay with CNN, "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is next.