Return to Transcripts main page


U.K. Ambassador Said Trump Left Iran Deal to Spite Obama; Tropical Storm Barry Causing Widespread Flooding in Louisiana; Power Restored in NYC after Major Outage; Fearful Immigrants Skipping Work, Hiding Out ahead of Raids; Pro-Democracy Protesters Gather at Mainland China Border; Halep Beats Williams to Clinch First Wimbledon Crown. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired July 14, 2019 - 03:00   ET




CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Politics of spite: if you thought Britain's ex ambassador to Washington had been scathing about Donald Trump, wait until you hear how he reportedly described his Iran policy.

Tropical storm Barry inching north over Louisiana, still dumping just months of rain on areas already underwater.

And a flawless performance at the Wimbledon women's final, Simona Halep crushes Serena Williams into straight sets.

Live from the CNN Center here in Atlanta, I'm Cyril Vanier, great to have you with us.


VANIER: A new bombshell from leaked cables of Britain's former ambassador to the U.S. Sir Kim Darroch reportedly accused president Donald Trump of ditching the Iran nuclear deal just to spite former president Barack Obama.

That is according to a news report from the "Daily Mail." Darroch allegedly called the president's decision an act of diplomatic vandalism.

CNN's Hadas Gold joins me now from London.

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: These latest leaks published by the "Daily Mail" newspaper, the same paper who published the first exclusive leaks last week, they're not as much of an impact as those initial leaks.

But they give us some more insight into what the British ambassador to the United States thought about Donald Trump, specifically thought about his Iran deal which is important in this context because Boris Johnson, then foreign secretary while Darroch was writing. Johnson is currently in the running to become the next prime minister. As you noted in the most recent leaks, Kim Darroch describes Trump's decision to pull out of the Iran deal, which Britain backed and still backs, saying it was all driven by personality and that Donald Trump only did it, according to Kim Darroch's thinking, because of how much he didn't like Barack Obama.

Now these cables were written after Johnson had visited the White House to convince them to stay in the Iran deal. That didn't work. These are just the latest leaks to come out, a lot of the attention here in the United Kingdom is, one, who is the leaker.

There's some speculation that the leaker may have been identified but CNN has not confirmed that and also the further political fallout.

Will Theresa May step in and appoint a new ambassador or will she wait for the new prime minister to be elected in just about a week, we are in a very tense political moment right now.

The question, who will be the next prime minister, Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt, how much these leaks will affect those Conservative voters, who will be electing the next prime minister -- Cyril.

VANIER: Let us visit that question because the timing of this does raise questions, do you think this could end up having any impact on the leadership race in Britain or is that farfetched?

GOLD: Well, so far I've been taking a look at some of the recent opinion polls of Conservative voters. Now just to keep in mind for a viewers, this isn't a general election, not everybody in the United Kingdom is actually going to get to vote on who's going to be the next prime minister. It's only members of the Conservative Party who get to vote so it's a small percentage, actually, of the population.

So even if the general population doesn't like one of these candidates, doesn't matter, it's all about who the members think about.

And I saw a recent poll that said there is a sense that Boris Johnson is still the front-runner, despite a lot of people blaming him for being the one that helped push Kim Darroch out the door because the night before Kim Darroch resigned, Boris Johnson was in a debate and didn't really throw his support behind Kim Darroch as Jeremy Hunt, the current Foreign Secretary, who's also running to be prime minister did.

A lot are wondering whether that was an effect on Kim Darroch resigning, Darroch said that it was no longer sustainable to be in that position, especially after what president Donald Trump said about him after the leaks were leaked out.

Boris Johnson has sort of admitted the in last couple days maybe didn't handle the whole situation very well but keep in mind that they're Conservative voters here in the United Kingdom who really like Donald Trump, who are pro Brexit, they want a pro Brexit prime minister, somebody to get them out no matter what by October 31st, won't delay this process any longer.

They may see Boris Johnson and getting rid of Kim Darroch, as people who will get the U.K. closer to the United States, when the U.K. really needs the United States post Brexit for things like a trade deal. So this is on the mind of a lot of Conservative voters as they go to vote in the next couple of days.

VANIER: Hadas Gold, reporting that, thank you.

GOLD: Thanks.

VANIER: David Rohde is CNN global affairs analyst and executive editor of "The New Yorker" website.

David, it's not every day we get to know exactly what diplomats think so for people like you and me who look at these things closely, it's actually quite interesting, these leaks.


VANIER: I want to run some of what was turned up in these memos by you. Now the headline, the ambassador, the former ambassador to Washington, described pulling out of the nuclear deal by Donald Trump as an act of diplomatic vandalism. Your thoughts.

DAVID ROHDE, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: This fits the worst-case scenario we all feared. Part of it later on in the story it talks about how there is no plan B so this was the sort of political point scoring. It was a way for Trump to keep the campaign promise and there was no planning to replace this incredibly important nuclear deal.

And we are all facing the consequences now, with rising tensions in the Gulf between the U.S. and Iran, that could drive oil prices and affect economies worldwide.

VANIER: The ambassador also notes this was done for personality reasons, as he writes, because this had been Obama's deal. Now when I read that I was at once unsurprised because Donald Trump has undone methodically what his predecessor did.

And I was also stunned because we are now dealing with a reality in the Middle East that has impacted, if this ambassador is correct, by a whim and by a personality thing.

ROHDE: Yes, and that's what's so disturbing about it, we shouldn't normalize what is in these cables, essentially a critical agreement that Europe, particularly for a national audience, is the rest of the world, China, Russia, European nations had all supported was blown up because a new American president wanted to make the last American president look bad.

These cables confirm that there was nothing more to it than that and that's just not acceptable.

VANIER: So as you said, the ambassador noted that there was no day- after strategy on the part of the Trump administration.

Do you think feel that's been borne out, do you feel that was a fair assessment?

ROHDE: Yes, I mean, I think, there is a brief mention of the reimpositioned sanctions, I think that's what's happening, there's been a miscalculation by the Trump administration, maybe the president himself, that tough sanctions on Iran, Iran will capitulate.

Threats of military strikes on North Korea, North Korea will capitulate. Pressure NATO allies for greater spending; NATO allies will capitulate. China on trade, on and on and on. People aren't capitulating. The Iranians in particular are pushing back.

So the world is a much more complicated and difficult place than -- I can't get inside President Trump's head, maybe he will be able to broker better deals. But this suggests that he thought getting a better deal with Iran was going to be much easier than it has proven to be.

VANIER: How much progress has this administration has made in the year since they pulled out of the deal?

So the U.S. pulled out of the deal; the other countries, you mentioned China, Russia and the European nations and Iran, the other countries are nominally part of the deal, even though some, including Iran, are now inching away from it.

What has the Trump administration got for its troubles a year on?

ROHDE: They have been able to inflict extremely tough sanctions on Iran, sent the Iranian economy into the worst situation in years, maybe decades. That's the power of the U.S. economy, that's the power of American sanctions. That's having an impact.

The problem is that hardliners in Iran are pushing back, they are mining these tankers, they are shooting down U.S. drones, there is a danger of miscalculation here. So the Iranians haven't capitulated.

Donald Trump keeps talking about having negotiations with Iran. I think they are going to keep on pushing back and I think it's going to put a lot of pressure on Europe, these incidents with mining the tankers is designed to get Europe to offer financial support to Iran to lessen the effects of these sanctions. So how Europe responds is a big question mark here.

VANIER: David, thank you.

ROHDE: Thank you.

VANIER: Heavy rain from tropical storm Barry is swamping parts of the U.S. state of Louisiana. Low-lying areas have been especially hard hit, the water came up so quickly in places the U.S. Coast Guard had to be called in for rescues.

Barry has also brought high winds and the threat of tornadoes, more than 122,000 and businesses lost power. Some levees could not handle the onslaught. Wildlife and livestock were all forced to scramble to higher ground as dry land suddenly turned into massive lakes.

The worst of the deluge is yet to come. Some places could see more than 50 centimeters of rain over the next few days. We get more from CNN's Nick Watt in the city of Lafayette.


NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'll start with some good news, the levees on the Mississippi around New Orleans did not break. The --


WATT: -- flood surge risk in New Orleans is over. But Barry is far from over. The mayor of New Orleans warning there is still a flood risk, there is still a flood risk for huge chunks of Louisiana.

And now, that storm surge as Barry came ashore, they've already had partial evacuations of four counties or parishes as they called them in Louisiana down on the coast, they have had trouble getting people out before. The water swept over one of the main highways down there.

Here, further inland, we are still waiting for the real problem that Barry brings, which is the rain. Saturday evening, the eye, in fact, not far away from where we are now. But the bulk of the storm, the bulk of the rain, the bulk of the water, that is still offshore and will move slowly into Louisiana and Mississippi.

Barry is moving just a little bit more than a walking pace right now and it is all this rain that is going to cause problems over the coming days; 3,000 National Guard, fanned out across the state to help emergency responders deal with the situation.

Here where we are in Lafayette, this could be the problem, the Vermilion River is running about 3.5 feet Saturday morning, by Sunday morning it could be up to 15 feet. That is what they are watching here in Lafayette -- Nick Watt, CNN, Lafayette, Louisiana.


VANIER: The lights are now back on in New York after a blackout left parts of the United States biggest, busiest city in the dark. The outage knocked out power for hours in southern Manhattan's most popular tourist venues, including Times Square and Broadway.

The Con Ed utility company says it at the peak of the blackout, around 73,000 customers had no electricity. Most of the power has been restored. Con Ed's CEO explains how they're getting to the bottom of the issue.


JOHN MCAVOY, CONEDISON CEO: It does not appear related to excessive load, as sometimes has occurred in the past. When we have an incident like this, we focus -- [03:15:00]

MCAVOY: -- first on isolation of the failed equipment or the most likely failed equipment and then restoration of the customers.

And then when the customers are restored, when we really do the full group investigation to identify what would've caused it, that will follow --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The lights just went on behind you.

How do you feel about that?


VANIER: The blackout trapped people in subway cars, in elevators; in this hotel, firefighters worked to free people who were stuck. New York's governor says everyone is out now and emergency officials say there were no injuries.

The outage also knocked out traffic lights on the city's busy streets so some volunteers went into the streets to direct traffic, look at this man. This was before the National Guard was called in.

Multiple major U.S. cities brace for mass deportation raids, the targets: some 2,000 migrant families. We'll tell you the latest before the operation gets underway when we come back.

Plus, making their voices heard: more protests in Hong Kong, the latest on the city's political unrest when we come back.




VANIER: Bastille Day festivities will soon kick off in France. French president Emmanuel Macron will preside over a military parade. You're watching live shots now of government officials arriving at the bottom of the Champs-Elysees, where they will b e sitting down, taking seats before the military parade begins shortly.

Along the Champs-Elysees in Paris, the annual celebration marks the storming of the Bastille fortress during the French Revolution. This year's event is set to showcase European defense cooperation.

In the United States now, major cities are bracing for raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, they will take place in these nine cities and are set to get underway in the coming hours.

Officials say the focus will be on undocumented immigrants who already have court orders to be deported. The operation is expected to talk about 2,000 people. The planned raids have sparked fear in several communities. Many undocumented workers are skipping work and going into hiding to avoid being picked up.

CNN's Sara Sidner sat down with one man who fears he could be targeted.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This undocumented father says he's never felt this much stress and fear in his 15 years living and working in the United States.

SIDNER: What did you think when you heard the raids would be happening again?

"It's very stressful. It's like you have a disease that's killing you, like cancer, something that makes you feel desperation," he says.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police. Open the door.

SIDNER (voice-over): Fear and desperation are exploding in immigrant communities across the country after the Trump Administration announced raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents are set to begin --


SIDNER (voice-over): -- this weekend.

"Psychologically, you live in fear. You live thinking that any day, any moment, you will get a knock on the door."

SIDNER (voice-over): He lays out his documents to show he pays his taxes. He's worked hard as a repairman to achieve the American dream.

SIDNER: Do you think the president has achieved his goal of making people who are here undocumented want to leave?

"Yes, he's achieved that. There are many people who don't have a choice," he says.

He knows the life built with his wife together in California could be wiped away with a knock on the door from an ICE agent. He says he left El Salvador for economic reasons after his first wife died in childbirth and he could not make enough money to provide for his three children there.

He entered the U.S. illegally via the Rio Grande in 2005, missed a court date and the court ordered his deportation. He said that is his only crime. He's been trying to remedy it through the courts, which includes making scheduled visits with ICE, which leaves him even more vulnerable.

At his church...

ADA VAILENTE, PASTOR: I'm putting myself, my church at risk.

SIDNER (voice-over): -- his pastors made clear they're willing to face the consequences of helping the undocumented.

A. VALIENTE: This is what we need to do. We need to walk beside our vulnerable.

SIDNER (voice-over): Their church is a member of a network of churches preparing emergency shelter for people to go into hiding in the short term and if need be, indefinitely.

MELVIN VALIENTE, PASTOR: We have a higher law, the law of love, compassion and the law of God.

SIDNER: A Trump Administration official says that there are about a million people that have deportation orders similar to the gentleman that we spoke with and that thousands of people that have those orders will be targets of ICE.

But he's clear that he says those folks have gone through the judicial system here and that ICE agents are only following the law -- Sara Sidner, CNN, Los Angeles.


VANIER: Protesters are gathering in Hong Kong for another day of marches, they are demonstrating in the Sha Tin district, part of the effort to spread their pro-democracy message across several towns across the city's main island.

For weeks, thousands have called upon Hong Kong's government to completely kill an extradition bill that many viewed as a power grab by Beijing. Matt Rivers is in Hong Kong.

Matt, what are these protests really about?

I ask you this question because yesterday we saw one thing and I know it's a different place but it seems to be about parallel traitors (ph) and today it appears like it is more like the pro-democracy protests we've seen over the last month.

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's exactly right, Cyril, today's march is generally more in line with what we have been seeing really going back all the way towards the beginning of June when that extradition bill very controversially kicked off these protests in the first place.

What we saw yesterday was a much smaller group more focused on the centralized issue and the kinds of protesters that were there, they all shared similarities, they were young and generally they were looking for a fight.

Yesterday, there were protests took place between police and protesters, today it turns to be a much more peaceful vibe than we got yesterday.

And the people that are here is more of the cross section of Hong Kong society that we really have gotten used to seeing and has been a hallmark of these two months or so of protests. You've got young kids, older people, students, you have workers,

there's probably several thousand people here at this point, not the kind of crowds that we've seen in the past but this is definitely kind of march that we have grown accustomed to.

What they're going to do is walk somewhere around an hour probably on this march that's going to take off in maybe a half hour or so and they will end in a couple different places, maybe a public transport station nearby, maybe government offices.

The message is about the extradition bill, it is about encroachment by Beijing, taking away democratic style freedoms from Hong Kong, this march is similar to what we've seen in protests over the last two months.

VANIER: How far the protesters want to take this?

How long are they going to keep up the protests?

RIVERS: This is a question that continues to be asked here and the answer is we don't know yet. Some people would say they are surprised they've lasted this long, the concept of protest fatigue is real.

How do you people to come day in, day out, every single week it seems like and protest?

And yet people are doing that, every single weekend, in different places. Right now we are in a different district in Hong Kong and that's what protests are trying to do, take these protests to each different district in Hong Kong to promote their message.

There's already talk of even larger protests being gathered for next --


RIVERS: -- weekend, so it does seem like the momentum behind these protests is running out anytime soon, in terms of how long it lasts, in terms of where it all ends we're not really sure but the momentum certainly there for now.

VANIER: Matt Rivers reporting live from Hong Kong, thank you very much.

Now to Wimbledon and a new champion at the Old England Club. Simona Halep has won her first Wimbledon title, she beat Serena Williams in straight sets. The victory denies Williams a record-tying 24th Grand Slam win yet again. Christina Macfarlane has more from Wimbledon.


CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We've just witnessed a huge shock here at Wimbledon, Serena Williams has failed to make history and match the all-time record of 24 Grand Slams.

More than that, she was demolished by her opponent, Romanian Simona Halep, in straight sets, six two six two in a game that lasted just 56 minutes. We wondered if the magnitude of this moment might overwhelm Serena Williams chasing that record and that certainly look to be the case out there today.

She was miss hitting balls; she looked nervous at times and she never really mentally seem to settle throughout this game. We saw her great friend, the Duchess of Sussex up in the royal box, cheering her on, clasping her hands in exasperation.

But Serena never really looked quite herself. This now marks the third Grand Slam final in a row she's failed to hit 24. But credit where credit is due. What a game for Romania's Simona Halep. She said it was the best match of her entire career and you have to agree.

She hit just three unforced errors for these two sets compared to Serena Williams' 26. Afterwards Serena Williams said she felt like a deer in the headlights and one wonders psychologically now how she picks herself up and goes on from here to the U.S. Open to try and target Grand Slam number 24 once again -- Christina Macfarlane, CNN, Wimbledon.


VANIER: And now to Saturday, the action shifts to the men. Roger Federer will go head-to-head with Novak Djokovic in the men's singles final, the match begins in about 5.5 hours now, Federer is seeking his ninth Wimbledon title and 21st Grand Slam win.

It won't be easy, Novak Djokovic already has 15 Grand Slam titles.

Also the big weekend in sport continues with the British Grand Prix. Britain's Lewis Hamilton is seeking a record-breaking sixth win at the Silverstone Circuit in England. He was edged out of pole position at Saturday's qualifying race by a few fractions of a second, by Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas of Finland.

Thank you so much for watching CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Cyril Vanier, I'll be back with the headlines in just a moment.