Return to Transcripts main page
HALA GORANI TONIGHT
Interview With Malcolm Rifkind, Former British Defense Secretary; Interview With Former Irish Prime Minister, Bernie Ahern; Multi-Country Fighter Jet Standoff In Pacific Today; Boris Johnson To Become New British Prime Minister; Study Suggests "Sonic Attacks" Changed People's Brains; U.S. Awaiting To Hear From Robert Mueller; Another Heat Wave In Europe Could Bring Hottest Temps Ever. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired July 23, 2019 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:21] HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone. Live from outside the houses of Parliament, I'm Hala Gorani.
Tonight, Boris Johnson will be the next British prime minister in charge of everything from navigating Brexit to handling Iran as he tries to break
from the European Union. Will Johnson drift closer to the U.S.? We'll explore that, among many other questions.
And the political scene in Washington is no less dramatic tonight. Democrats and Republicans brace for Robert Mueller's testimony on Capitol
Hill. What to expect when Congress quizzes the former special counsel, tomorrow.
The biggest secret in politics is now a reality. Boris Johnson is the leader of the Conservative Party here in Britain. And in a matter of
hours, he is set to take over from Theresa May as Britain's new prime minister. That is when the hard work really begins for Boris Johnson. Nic
Robertson has our story.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Boris Johnson is elected as the leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): As expected, Boris Johnson swept to leadership by his party but not the
country, his campaign mantra, now his leadership battle cry.
BORIS JOHNSON, INCOMING BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Deliver Brexit, unite the country and defeat Jeremy Corbyn. And that is what we're going to do.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Johnson, taking up the mantle of entertainer-in- chief too.
JOHNSON: I know somewhere it was already pointed out that "Deliver, Unite and Defeat" was not the perfect acronym for an election campaign since,
unfortunately, it spells, "DUD." But they forgot the final "E," my friends. E for energize.
And I say -- I say to all the doubters, "DUDE, we are going to energize the country. We are going to get Brexit done on October the 31st. We're going
to take advantage of all the opportunities that it will bring in a new spirit of can-do.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Johnson's can-do, met immediately by Opposition Leader Corbyn's no-can-do.
JEREMY CORBYN, BRITISH LABOUR PARTY LEADER: Well, he's been elected by less than 100,000 people. I think he needs to think a bit more carefully
about where we're going. I'm ready for a general election at any time.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): At E.U. headquarters in Brussels, more constraints on Johnson's optimism. A frank warning: They're not shifting on Brexit.
FRANS TIMMERMANS, FIRST VICE PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN UNION COMMISSION: The United Kingdom reached an agreement with the European Union. And the
European Union will stick to that agreement.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): And so, too, on Johnson's more pressing foreign policy challenge, Iran, its foreign minister, Zarif, dialing up pressure,
accusing May's government of piracy, seizing an Iranian oil tanker off Gibraltar three weeks ago, warning Johnson against war.
TEXT: Javad Zarif: The May govt's seizure of Iranian oil at behest of U.S. is piracy, pure & simple.
I congratulate my former counterpart, @BorisJohnson, on becoming U.K. P.M.
Iran does not seen confrontation. But we have 1500 miles of Persian Gulf coastline. These are our waters & we will protect them.
MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: It is very important for Boris Johnson, as he enters 10 Downing Street, to understand that Iran does
not seek confrontation. Iran wants to have normal relations based on mutual respect.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): And then there was President Trump, sharing Johnson's enthusiasm.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What they need, he'll get it done. Boris is good. He's going to do a good job.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Johnson's father, offering an insight on how that relationship might go.
STANLEY JOHNSON, FATHER OF BORIS JOHNSON: I think they will get on. I think, you know, we're going to have to be careful not to be too slavishly
geared to America.
ROBERTSON: By this time Wednesday, Boris Johnson will be behind these doors, dispensing optimism, energizing staff, appointing new ministers.
But no surprise. On the outside here, British bookies already taking bets on how long he'll last.
Nic Robertson, CNN, London.
GORANI: So that's what happened today. Boris Johnson was elected head of the Conservative Party. He's not technically officially prime minister
yet. Bianca Nobilo is here with more on what happens next.
Tomorrow is the big day.
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tomorrow is the big day. And tonight will probably be quite a big night because it's the Boris Johnson campaign
wrap party. This follows after Boris Johnson addressed a committee of his back-bench M.P.s. That's a key part of his strategy to unite the party.
TEXT: U.K. Politics Timetable: July 24, Theresa May's final Prime Minister's questions; May visits The Queen to formally resign; Boris
Johnson visits The Queen, then goes to Downing Street as P.M. July 25- Dept. 3, Parliamentary recess. October 31, Last date U.K. can leave E.U. without further extension
NOBILO: Tomorrow is the big day. It's Theresa May's last evening in Downing Street tonight. Then she gives her final performance at Prime
Minister's Questions tomorrow, facing off against Jeremy Corbyn. Following that, she will then go to the queen, officially resign.
When she leaves, then we'll have the prime ministerial switcheroo. Boris Johnson will then go to the queen, he'll officially become prime minister.
Obviously he has to ask the queen to form a government and she has the opportunity to say no. But constitutionally, she basically has to say yes.
That will then happen.
Then Boris Johnson will move into Downing Street. We're expecting a speech from the steps of Downing Street. Whether or not it will be along the
lines of what he did today, which had a slightly more muted reception --
[14:05:01] NOBILO: -- when he received the fact that he had won the leadership contest, remains to be seen. Maybe he was saving some of --
NOBILO: -- some of the material for tomorrow.
GORANI: Some critics said it lacked gravitas, that it was even a bit flippant, a very Boris Johnson, his speech today.
NOBILO: Well, yes. So that's the key point here. What that did show is, after a campaign where he sort of vacillated between somebody who was under
the control of his campaign team, trying the submarine strategy of lying quite low and not upsetting the apple cart because he was so far ahead, to
then ricocheting back into the old Boris Johnson that people are so familiar with --
NOBILO: -- making jokes, making gaffes, being colorful, being unusual and a political maverick.
What we saw today seemed to underscore, now he's got the top job, he's going to be Boris. He's going to be himself, going forward.
GORANI: A lot of people asked the same question about Donald Trump. Will he become more presidential when he is in the White House. That didn't pan
out. We'll see if things change for Boris Johnson.
Thanks very much, Bianca, and we'll catch up with you later with much more.
World leaders are congratulating Boris Johnson on his election. Despite Johnson's vow to pull Britain out of the European Union, the German
chancellor, Angela Merkel, said she looks forward to good cooperation. Similar statements came from the French President, Emmanuel Macron, and the
E.U. President-Elect, Ursula von der Leyen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): I'm willing to work closely with him, not only on European issues, including the Brexit
negotiations, but also on international negotiations on which we are tightly coordinated, specifically with the British and the Germans. Could
it be the Iran situation or any international security issue.
URSULA VON DER LEYEN, EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT-ELECT: I'm looking forward to have a good working relation with him. There are many different
and difficult issues to tackle together. We have challenging times ahead of us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TEXT: Donald J. Trump: Congratulations to Boris Johnson on becoming the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He will be great!
GORANI: One of the most enthusiastic reactions to Johnson's election came from the U.S. president, Donald Trump, who tweeted, "He will be great."
Malcolm Rifkind is a former British defense secretary and foreign secretary. He's a member of Johnson's Conservative Party. He did not
support Johnson's candidacy. And he does not support Johnson's position on Brexit.
What did you make of his speech? Was it underwhelming, as some have said?
MALCOLM RIFKIND, FORMER BRITISH DEFENCE SECRETARY: Well, President Trump has predicted he will be great. I think I would say he might be great.
But the jury is still out because -- it was a good speech. It was a conciliatory speech, in the sense that he was appealing to all points of
view. He seems to have made it clear, he'll want a broadly balanced cabinet.
But of course, the problem with Brexit is, if you have a broadly balanced cabinet, it becomes a disunited cabinet.
GORANI: He's promised to pull Britain out of the E.U. by October 31st. Come what --
RIFKIND: He's made a --
GORANI: -- may, come what may.
RIFKIND: Well, he's made a lot of promises. And the question is what you promise on the campaign trail, can you deliver if you -- if and when you
And under our system, even more than in the United States, it depends on Parliament. We are a parliamentary system.
RIFKIND: The prime minister is only the prime minister because they have a majority in Parliament, not just hoping to have.
GORANI: And he has to deal with Iran. Iran seized a U.K.-flagged tanker. This is going to be his first big foreign policy test.
RIFKIND: Yes. I mean, he did serve as foreign minister and he understands the issues. I think what we're already seeing on Iran is there'll be a
gradual need -- there was a need today for a convoy arrangement of Western and other international powers.
GORANI: Will he drift toward Donald Trump and the U.S.? Or will he stay close to the --
RIFKIND: Well, that's a very interesting question because the United Kingdom, including during the period when he was foreign secretary, has not
agreed with the American decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, believes it was worth keeping and is indeed believing that you have to have
more of a relationship with Iran in order to make progress. So, so far, we would expect no change in that policy.
RIFKIND: But we'll have to wait and see.
GORANI: Well, we'll have to wait and see because a decision will have to be made quickly on this, what to do.
RIFKIND: Now, the immediate decisions that have to be made, which there will not be any political disagreement on, is the need to protect all ships
using the gulf so that they are not subject to Iranian interference. And there, I have not the slightest doubt, Boris Johnson as prime minister will
take the same view as Theresa May and work for some international protection system.
GORANI: What I mean by that is, the decision has to be made, whether or not this will be a European force in the gulf, or whether or not the U.K.
is likely to join the Americans in the maximum pressure strategy.
RIFKIND: Well, or some combination of the two. Because what Jeremy Hunt actually said -- he is the foreign secretary, the likelihood is he'll
continue as foreign secretary -- was that, yes, we want to have a European force, but working with the United States on joint protection. So I think
that one will be resolved.
GORANI: You weren't always so kind about Boris Johnson. When Kim Darroch, the U.K. ambassador to the U.S. resigned after those cables were leaked
about what he said --
GORANI: -- about the Trump administration. You said Johnson "failed Kim Darroch abysmally. He doesn't deserve to choose his replacement."
RIFKIND: Yes. I stand by that. I'm not trying to be kind about Boris, I'm trying to give you my objective view --
RIFKIND: -- of his strengths as well as his weaknesses. I could give you a long list of his weaknesses, but he does have some strengths.
And I think the crucial point for an American audience, is to understand that Boris Johnson is very different to Donald Trump. What they have in
common is they've both been loners who have got the popular support that's brought them to power.
[14:10:09] In every other respect, Boris is very different from Donald Trump. Boris Johnson, for example, highly educated. He not only reads
books, he writes them. And his whole history has been very moderate on most of the other issues other than Brexit. For example --
GORANI: On social issues --
RIFKIND: -- on social issues. On abortion, on immigration. And he does not set out to be nasty to people. I mean, sadly, President Trump almost
seems to enjoy being very rude about people who he thinks --
RIFKIND: -- might serve his political interests. That's not been Boris' style. He's sometimes said things he's regretted, but only because he
hasn't thought about it in advance.
GORANI: What they do -- what they do have in common is a very difficult relationship with the truth. Boris Johnson and the --
RIFKIND: Yes, yes.
GORANI: -- Brexit campaign has -- has --
RIFKIND: Absolutely right.
GORANI: -- as if (ph) fact, presented figures that were later found to be not factually correct. That is a problem for Britain (ph).
RIFKIND: That is indeed a problem. But if you are a historian, you know that some of the people who did manage to do a lot of good things in
history, also had problems with the truth. So it depends on whether he has other virtues that will, as it were, be more substantial and more relevant
than the occasional fib.
GORANI: A question on Brexit. Michel Barnier, the E.U. negotiator, tweeted, essentially saying -- and we can put the tweet up, here. I'm
going to paraphrase it.
TEXT: Michel Barnier; We look forward to working constructively w/ P.M. @BorisJohnson when he takes office, to facilitate the ratification of the
Withdrawal Agreement and achieve an orderly #Brexit. We are ready also to rework the agreed Declaration on a new partnership in line with #EUCO
GORANI: Essentially saying, we're happy to talk about --
GORANI: -- negotiating a different wording for the political declaration, but the withdrawal agreement itself is not --
GORANI: -- on the table.
RIFKIND: I think -- I mean, that is what they've been saying and I don't see any reason to believe that they're not meaning that. What I wouldn't
entirely exclude is some tweaking of the agreement. For example, the people who are most nervous if there is no deal, even more than the British
are nervous, is the Irish government. Because then you have a hard border, not in three, four years' time but in a couple of months' time.
RIFKIND: So it is at least conceivable, the Irish government might say, "Can we not try and offer something on the backstop?" Not to get rid of
it, but to actually make it more palatable to the Brits.
GORANI: And we'll (ph) be speaking with Bertie Ahern right after this interview, and I'm going to ask him that question. Although he doesn't
believe that Brexit will happen by October 31st. Do you?
RIFKIND: Well, I don't believe it can happen by October the 31st, but I wouldn't lose too much sleep either way on that because if it's not October
the 31st, what we're talking about is November the 30th or December the 5th. And in terms of history, that's not going to make much difference.
GORANI: There's no backtracking though, Brexit shall happen.
RIFKIND: Well, I -- that's what --
GORANI: In your opinion?
RIFKIND: -- that's what our new prime minister says he believes. My own view, I would not yet rule out the possibility, this will end with some
sort of referendum so that the British public will decide, do they want no deal or do they want some other outcome, either Theresa May's deal, or even
to remain in the E.U. I wouldn't exclude that completely at this stage.
GORANI: A lot can happen.
RIFKIND: A lot can happen, most of it probably will.
GORANI: Malcolm Rifkind, thank you so much. Really appreciate your time.
Of course, Boris Johnson will have a lot of issues, as we mentioned, in his entree (ph) when he takes up resident at Number 10 tomorrow. One of the
biggest issues facing the new prime minister is the matter of Brexit, as we were discussing with Sir Malcolm.
He says he wants to renegotiate the withdrawal deal, and that the heart of this is the issue of the Irish border. The Irish backstop is essentially
an insurance policy to make sure there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. But Mr. Johnson has called it, quote,
"a monstrosity" that he wants removed from the deal.
My next guest strongly disagrees. Former Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern was one of the architects of the Good Friday Agreement, a peace deal that
brought an end to years of violence in Northern Ireland.
He's been vocal about the importance of a seamless border on the island of Ireland, and the dangers of a no-deal Brexit. And he joins me from Dublin.
Bertie Ahern, thanks for being with us. You said Johnson hasn't a hope in hell of making that Brexit deadline of October 31st. Why?
BERTIE AHERN, FORMER IRISH PRIME MINISTER: Well, I just think it's too short a time. It's three months. The parliament rises (ph) this week, and
Europe goes on holidays for August. And then he's back with 60 days to try to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement, to try to deal with the European
The European leaders are also changing at the same time. And the -- most of the new people start on November First. So the current group are
finishing up, another group just starting. And to get all that together, I don't think it's any fault of the new prime minister, but I just think it's
The original intention was to have an extension until next April or May, but the European Council decided not to do that. So I just think it's
time-limited. To be able to put together a revised agreement in what is effectively six or seven weeks, is just not feasible in my view.
GORANI: If there is a hard Brexit, this could really threaten peace in Northern Ireland, right? I mean, you're one of the architects of the Good
Friday Agreement. Having a hard border there, what would that mean?
AHERN: Well, I think there are a number of things. From our position in Ireland, the whole reason for the backstop and all these long negotiations
is essentially a protection, that if there's no negotiated trade deal, that we just don't go back to a border on the island of Ireland.
[14:15:17] We want it as it is now. It's frictionless. We've had 20 years of peace. We've had no infrastructure. There's no border security,
there's no army checkpoints and people can move about freely --
AHERN: -- and of course because we're in the single market and the customs union, there's no difficulty.
And our argument is we want it that way. We accept that if the British people want to leave the European Union, that's a matter for them. We
regret that and we feel very sorry that's the case. But what we do not want --
AHERN: -- is to go back to any other period of the past. And that's really what the argument is about.
GORANI: Do you think that Boris Johnson is realistic about the border? He wrote this about the border. "If they could use a hand-knitted computer
code to make a frictionless re-entry to earth's atmosphere in 1969, we can solve the problem of frictionless trade at the Northern Irish border." He
said it is absurd that we have even allowed ourselves to be momentarily delayed by these technical issues. How do you react to that?
AHERN: Well, I suppose I'd remind him that that -- it was that same month that men went to the moon, that we started 30 years of violence in the
North. And which -- we had 30 years of violence and 20 years trying to solve it. So I think he picked an unfortunate event and time that reminds
us of something else other than the moon, though we all celebrated the success of that at the time.
What we want to do -- and I think it's quite simple -- we don't want a row with the British on this. We wish the new prime minister well. And we've
negotiated agreements (ph) and ironically, in a cabinet that he was the foreign secretary in. And it didn't get through the Parliament. We
understand that. We understand there'll have to be some more negotiations.
Our view is that those negotiations should (ph) center around the future relationship. We're happy with the backstop --
AHERN: But I remind my British colleagues, all of the time, that in the backstop, we have no intention in Ireland of trying to make that a
permanent feature. Boris Johnson has said, several times during the hostings and during his campaign, his successful campaign, that this is an
attempt by people to keep the U.K. in Europe for 30 (ph) years.
In fact, the protocol and the agreement states, time and time again, that as soon as we have an alternative arrangement, the backstop would never
come into place or would die immediately.
GORANI: Right (ph).
AHERN: There's also substantial agreements in it, where if it's going on too long, there can be an arbitrator brought in under international rules,
to see if somebody is dragging their feet. So there's already several protections that have been built in by British civil servants, by Theresa
May and by the European Union.
So far from trying to frustrate anybody, all that we want to do is get a satisfactory conclusion. But what we will not do, we will not allow any
agreement that drags us back into conflict in Northern Ireland, that replaces what we have with infrastructure. To be quite honest, that is not
something we will tolerate in the island of Ireland.
GORANI: Bertie Ahern, thanks so much for joining us, live from Dublin.
Still to come tonight, was it a midair mix-up? Or was it a provocation? Planes from Russia, China, Japan and South Korea face off in the air. That
story when we come back.
[14:21:13] GORANI: There were some scary moments off the coast of South Korea and Japan, Tuesday. Four different countries had fighter jets in the
air at the same time. These are Russian and Chinese planes that Japan and South Korea say violated their airspace.
Korea says that after repeated warnings, its jets fired more than 300 warning shots at the Russian plane. The Russian and Chinese planes flew
over a pair of disputed islands that are in that part of the world and that are claimed by both Japan and South Korea. Russia says it never violated
anyone's airspace, and that no warning shots were fired. So two very different versions of events.
CNN's Fred Pleitgen joins me now, live from Moscow with more on what we know happened -- Fred.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Hala. Yes, it is extremely complicated and extremely dangerous. You're absolutely
right. Three countries were involved that -- all of which seem to have different stories on what exactly happened.
What we do know is that there was a common maneuver that was going on between the Russian and Chinese air forces in that area. They did have
strategic bombers that they were flying around there. But the Russians apparently also had a command-and-control aircraft that was flying around
there as well.
Now, the Japanese and the South Korean air forces both scrambled jets to intercept that command-and-control aircraft, and that's when the South
Koreans say, after several warnings, that they fired warning shots at that aircraft. They said there were several encounters. And in total, they
fired around 360 rounds in the vicinity of that aircraft.
Now, as you've mentioned, the Russians acknowledge that that aircraft was part of the maneuver. They say it was flying in international airspace,
and they deny that any shots were fired.
They say if shots would have been fired, there would have been a fast and firm response from the Russian side. However, they do accuse the South
Koreans of being unprofessional.
The U.S., of course, who's an ally of both Japan and South Korea, has weighed in on this as well. I want to read to you the statement that they
put out not too long ago.
They said, quote, "The United States strongly supports our ROK" -- so Republic of Korea -- "and Japanese allies and their responses to air space
incursions by Chinese and Russian aircraft.
"The Department of Defense is in close coordination with the Republic of Korea and Japanese allies about these events. And will continue to monitor
activities as they follow up with their Russian and Chinese counterparts about -- through, sorry -- diplomatic channels."
So that's the U.S. response. However, this maneuver in itself is pretty remarkable because the Chinese and the Russians say it's the first time
that they have flown a joint maneuver in the Asia-Pacific region. Of course, we know that that's a region where both the Chinese and the
Russians, sort of challenging the U.S. presence there, or the U.S. dominance there in that region -- Hala.
GORANI: All right. Fred Pleitgen, thanks very much. Live in Moscow.
Now, Iran is apparently extending an olive branch to Boris Johnson, now set to become British prime minister. But it comes with a thinly veiled
warning. Iran's foreign minister congratulated Johnson on Twitter today, saying Tehran doesn't want confrontation.
TEXT: Javad Zarif: The May govt's seizure of Iranian oil at behest of U.S. is piracy, pure & simple.
I congratulate my former counterpart, @BorisJohnson, on becoming U.K. P.M.
Iran does not seen confrontation. But we have 1500 miles of Persian Gulf coastline. These are our waters & we will protect them.
GORANI: But he added, "We have 1500 miles of Persian Gulf coastline. These are our waters and we will protect them." Iran says a British-
flagged tanker it seized last week violated international maritime rules, a charge that Britain denies.
Let's get the latest from the region now. Matthew Chance is following developments from Khor Fakkan in the United Arab Emirates.
What's the latest, then, on this seized tanker? What is Iran saying it is going to do with it?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that seized tanker, the Stena Impero, is still under lock and key, as it were, under
close Iranian guard in the port of Bandar Abbas in southern Iran. The 23 crew members are on board there. They've been detained as well. And
there's still no clear way that this situation is going to be resolved.
[14:25:05] And so when Boris Johnson does become the British prime minister, he is going to have to hit the ground running when it comes to
CHANCE (voice-over): These are the treacherous diplomatic waters into which Britain's new prime minister is set to plunge. The escalating crisis
with Iran and its seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker, poised to be one of Boris Johnson's most urgent challenges.
Already, there's been a Twitter congratulations and a direct message from the Iranian foreign minister.
ZARIF: I think it is very important for Boris Johnson, as he enters 10 Downing Street, to understand that Iran does not seek confrontation. Iran
wants to have normal relations based on mutual respect.
CHANCE (voice-over): But a sometimes clownish (ph) Boris Johnson has a checkered history of dealing with the Islamic Republic.
In a gaffe-prone stint as British foreign secretary, he made damaging remarks about a British-Iranian woman, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, sentenced
to five years in an Iranian jail for spying. She was trying to return home to London with her young daughter after visiting her family on holiday,
when she was arrested at Tehran Airport back in 2016.
Foreign Minister Johnson mistakenly said she was in Iran teaching people journalism.
JOHNSON: My mistake. That was my mistake.
CHANCE (voice-over): He was then forced to apologize amid concerns he could have caused her jail sentence to be prolonged.
JOHNSON: I should have been clearer. It was my mistake. I should have been clearer. I apologize for the distress -- I apologize for the distress
and anguish that has been caused to Mrs. Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her family.
CHANCE (voice-over): There are people at risk in the latest British crisis with Iran, too, namely, the 23 crew members on board the Stena Impero,
detained under Iranian guard. Their fate, not just the tanker's, may also be decided by how a Prime Minister Johnson deals with Iran when he takes
CHANCE: Right. Well, Hala, dealing with Iran, which is a very important country, obviously, but sometimes also a very hostile one to the United
Kingdom, is difficult for any British prime minister. But how Boris Johnson meets that challenge is going to be, really, his first test in
office. Back to you.
GORANI: All right. It sure will be, because we heard from the foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, in this country, saying they're still committed to
the Iran nuclear deal, and they want a European force protesting the tankers. We'll see if Boris Johnson departs from that. Matthew Chance,
thanks very much, live in Khor Fakkan.
Still to come tonight, we will hear from the opposition here in Britain. A leading Labour M.P., Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, sits down with me to
talk about the incoming prime minister, Boris Johnson.
[14:28:03] And later, a reluctant witness gets ready to testify in what could be the most critical hearing of the entire Trump presidency. But
will we learn anything new from Robert Mueller?
[14:30:38] GORANI: Back to our top story, Boris Johnson elected the new leader of Britain's Conservative Party, and ascending to the job of prime
Well, the next 24 hours will include lots of pomp and ceremony. It is what happens over the next few months that will likely determine Johnson's
success or not as prime minister.
He knows job number one is getting Brexit delivered by the October deadline. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH CONSERVATIVE PARTY LEADER: We know the mantra of the campaign that has just gone by. In case you've forgotten it, you
probably have, it was going too probably. It is deliver Brexit, unite the country and defeat Jeremy Corbyn, and that is what we're going to do.
GORANI: And defeat Jeremy Corbyn.
Joining me now is one of the opposition leaders, Jeremy Corbyn's strongest allies and a vocal critic of Boris Johnson. He is a Labour Parliament --
member of Parliament, John McDonnell and the Shadow U.K. Chancellor. Thanks for being with us.
So he's -- Boris Johnson is saying, he's listing all the priorities as prime minister that way he'll have to take off. And one of them is keep
Jeremy Corbyn out of office.
JOHN MCDONNELL, SHADOW CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER: (INAUDIBLE) general election, aren't they? What we've been saying to him. He's a new prime
minister. He's been elected by less than 100,000 people in the Conservative Party. If you wants the sake of his prime minister, so you
should to the country and let's have a general election, and he should seek a mandate from the British people.
GORANI: You tweeted -- you've called Boris Johnson a posh Trump and you called his victory speech like an ill-prepared after dinner speech at the
local golf club.
MCDONNELL: It was pretty cool. That was -- this was something that was taking over the prime ministership of our country. And well, I thought the
speech was underwhelming to say the least. It was excruciating. He embarrassed --
GORANI: What do you like about Boris Johnson? What can he do well, in your opinion? You wish him well, right?
MCDONNELL: Well, I think he should -- look, I think he should come clean, call a general election. I'm really -- most of us are worried. We're
worried about the future of our country. He's threatening a no-deal Brexit. That will cost my constituents their jobs, their living standards.
And our economy could be put in real -- I can't wish someone like that well and a policy like that.
GORANI: You want a general election because you're confident the Labour Party will emerge victorious from a general election.
MCDONNELL: Yes, I am.
GORANI: But polling doesn't necessarily reflect that.
MCDONNELL: We're ahead in the polls. We're ahead in the polls.
GORANI: You've got about a quarter of the vote nationally.
MCDONNELL: We're ahead in the polls. Last time when they call the general election, we were 24 points behind. And if we were campaigning for another
week, we would have been in government now.
We absolutely wiped out all the commentator in the polls who wrote us off. Call a general election now when our system, you have legally balanced
broadcast coverage in a general election campaign, we'll win again.
GORANI: You're a self-proclaim Marxist. You want to move on from the capitalism, you've said. Do those positions today win a general election
or are they too far to the left?
MCDONNELL: Yes. I'm a socialist. I want to ensure that we reform capitalism and that involves into a system in which, well, that's the way
people properly employed, there are decent wages, we don't have people sleeping on our streets, we have everyone a decent roof over their heads.
And above all else, we tackle climate change. That's the sort of policies that people are voting for.
GORANI: That's different from saying I'm a Marxist. I want to essentially move on from the capitalists.
MCDONNELL: The pattern past of the reform is the system itself and that's what we're doing.
GORANI: It would involve nationalizing, many companies --
MCDONNELL: We've set out -- we've set -- yes, we've set out. What we're going to do is bring back in the public ownership. There's probably
utilities that was sold off by the conservatives in which we are being ripped off at the moment. So people of -- if you looks at the opinion
polls on all of our public ownership our proposals 70 to 80 percent support.
GORANI: One of the many criticisms directed at the Labour Party and this whole Brexit drama that has engulfed your country is that Labour was never
really passionately, at least the Labour leadership was never passionately pro-remain enough, that up until very recently, there was no clear cut
position taken by the Labour leadership about wanting to campaign for remain in another referendum. You've kind of come around to that position
MCDONNELL: You know, we campaigned, we -- in the referendum, we campaign for remain, and we campaign hard for remain, we campaign for remain and
reform. This argument that Jeremy Corbyn never campaigned -- I'll show you his diary, he worked himself into the grand. We lost. So we took that
issue back to our party members and they gave us a clear instruction. Stop a no-deal Brexit, try negotiate a deal with the Tories. If you can't do
that, either general election or referendum where now --
[14:35:06] GORANI: It took Jeremy Corbyn two years to come out in favor of potentially revisiting the --
MCDONNELL: Because we were guided by the democratic poses of our party which took that decision. So we reflect to our member's views. So we're
now in a situation where we've abided by that decisions and we've come to a conclusion now, back to the people. And in that referendum, we'll campaign
GORANI: Because you look at parties like the Lib Dems, for instance, that were practically dead a few years ago. They have been very firmly pro-E.U.
They are now up 18, 19 points in the polls. So it is something that the public in this country wants to hear.
MCDONNELL: Well, that's exactly what we're saying. Well, let's have a referendum, we'll campaign for remainder (ph) and we think we'll win.
GORANI: So I asked you this but you didn't quite answer. Do you wish Boris Johnson well?
MCDONNELL: I cannot wish someone well who's about to imperil our country and our economy and the livelihoods of our people. We want him to go back
to the people and ask for a mandate and a general election so that the people can decide.
GORANI: If he does not, what will you do?
MCDONNELL: We'll continue to campaign in parliament. We'll try and bring about that general election. We'll campaign for a referendum. As we say
we'll campaign for remain. It's interesting what conservatives will now do, because his party is extremely split. And we believe if there was
another vote in parliament, just as the last one on no-deal Brexit, we would win again.
GORANI: So you believe that if there's another referendum, what will happen?
MCDONNELL: We think we can campaign and win on remain. But the key issue, first of all, is block a no-deal under Boris Johnson. And we're thinking
parliament as a majority against a no-deal Brexit.
GORANI: What about the relationship the U.K. will have under Boris Johnson with Donald Trump? What shape, what form do you think that will take?
MCDONNELL: Well, I think it will be one on which basically Boris will visit America every now and again to receive his orders, and he'll come
back and implement the policies Donald Trump instructs to implement. It's as simple as that.
GORANI: Do you think he's a puppet? He will be a puppet of Donald Trump?
MCDONNELL: Yes, I do. I do. He's already talking about trade deals. Well, he's willing to sell out our NHS. He's willing to undercut our
British firms, that's -- and environmental and health standards, that's unacceptable.
GORANI: And do you think the same thing will apply to foreign policy decisions that now, for instance, what's happening in Iran, with the seized
U.K. tankers, that this is -- that Boris Johnson will drift toward the U.S. and away from European allies?
MCDONNELL: We know Boris Johnson's record on foreign affairs. He was the foreign secretary, especially the most disastrous foreign secretary we've
had in British history. So we're fearful of his behavior when it comes to international decisions. And, yes, we are fearful of his closeness to
Donald Trump and the erratic nature of the decisions that Donald Trump takes.
GORANI: John McDonnell, thanks so much for joining us on CNN. Really appreciate it on this important day.
Boris Johnson's father has also been a politician, Stanley Johnson. And unlike his son, he was against Brexit.
In a CNN interview, Stanley Johnson jokes that his son and U.S. president, Donald Trump, should get along well because they have the same hair style.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STANLEY JOHNSON, BORIS JOHNSONS FATHER: I think they will get on. I think, you know, we're going to have to be careful not to be too slavishly
geared to America. And that's why, oddly enough, I think almost and most important thing we can do is we leave Europe is to build bridges with
Europe. Do you see what I mean?
Because take for example the thing I just mentioned, climate change, deforestation. We need still to be part of major groupings and the
European has been very effective on some of these issues. So I think that, yes, we have a relationship with America. But I'd like to say it's also
build, you know, another key relationship with Europe maybe through the council of Europe through the European Commission.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Carol Walker is a British journalist and political analyst and she joins me now.
Let's try to internationalize this. What about the U.K.'s position -- let's talk about the U.K.'s position in the world with Boris Johnson as
prime minister. How will it change?
CAROLE WALKER, POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think everyone is holding their breath as Boris Johnson prepares to move into Downing Streets tomorrow.
Clearly, he'll be hoping for a good rapports with Donald Trump. They're both unusual politicians, they're both disruptors, they both like to go out
on a limb. Already, we've heard some positive noises from Donald Trump.
But I think there will be some very key tests immediately confronting Boris Johnson. If we look at the situation in the Gulf, the U.K., at the moment,
has remained with the E.U. and saying, we still support the Iran nuclear deal.
Donald Trump, of course, moved out a bit. We've had -- with Jeremy Hunt there as foreign secretary trying to calm tensions, and insisting that
shipping must have freedom of movement through the Straits of Hormuz. But he hasn't sided strongly with Donald Trump when it comes to that Iran
GORANI: He was, in fact, particularly subdue. And the U.K. -- sorry -- is not joining the U.S. in its maximum pressure strategy against Iran, saying
it wants to stay in the nuclear deal and also ironically considering Brexit is around the corner allying itself with European partners to safe guard
[14:40:13] WALKER: The U.K. has -- let's not forget, disagreed with Donald Trump over the -- has said right from the outset that it was wrong for
Donald Trump to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal.
I think the difficulty for the U.K. at the moment is that although the E.U. is still clinging tacitly to that, as is the U.K., Iran is increasingly
making signs that it's prepared to reach its side of the bargain in terms of enriching uranium.
At that point, the U.K. will be forced to go along with sanctions, frankly, given the strengths of the U.S. sanctions. Already, as we know, Iran is
suffering pretty severely. The U.K. has also disagreed with the United States, some things like climate change.
Now, Donald Trump will want to try to form a strong personal relationship. He will want to try to put in place the platform to have a trade deal once
the U.K. has left the E.U. But all of that is going to be very, very difficult. That's going to be one of the many huge tests for the new prime
GORANI: It takes years for even the closest to allies to force trade deals. By the way, which is something I tweeted, and I remind people this
every once in a while, Donald Trump tweeted nice things about Boris Johnson today. But in 2015, Boris Johnson said Donald Trump betrayed a stupefying
ignorance that makes him unfit to be U.S. president. So this, again, is one of the changing positions of Boris Johnson --
WALKER: Yes, I think -- I think Boris Johnson will be hoping that Donald Trump is not dwelling too much on that. That was after Donald Trump said
that there were parts of London which were no-go areas and Boris Johnson took exception to that.
But I think he will want to forge a strong personal bond with the American president. But it's a big, big test for him. The appointment of foreign
secretary will be an absolutely crucial one. There's been a lot of speculations that he might, in fact, keep his rival for the leadership
Jeremy Hunt in post, and that I think would send a signal of continuity.
But, of course, the immediate priority on his plate is this issue of Brexit. His state today in which he has declared again and again today
that he wants to be out by October the 31st. And huge obstacles in the way of him, actually, achieving that.
GORANI: Carole Walker, thanks very much.
Still to come tonight. A mystery that is baffling experts. A sonic attack has changed the brains of some American personnel and that all may have
caused some lasting damage. We have a report coming up.
GORANI: Doctors in Southeast Asia are sounding the alarm about a drug resistant form of malaria. Spread by mosquitoes, the deadly disease has
been in decline in many countries. But reports in the Lancet journal warned that there is a new strain spreading across Thailand, Cambodia,
Laos, and Vietnam.
[14:45:08] Researchers say alternative treatments are needed to avoid a worldwide health emergency. But this is quite scary because malaria, at
least up until now, we believe was treatable, in all cases.
A series of sonic attacks on American personnel in Cuba has been troubling doctors since 2016. We still don't know what caused them or who was behind
them. But a new study suggests the sonic attacks made some significant changes to people's brains.
CNN's Alex Marquardt joins me live now from Washington with more. What are doctors saying about what happened to the brains of these U.S. personnel,
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What was so mysterious here, Hala, is that the symptoms do not match up with a specific disorder.
But what doctors are saying, beyond any sort of doubt really, is that their brains were certainly and severely impacted.
Now, there were 40 people who were studied as part of this study who were at the U.S. embassy in Cuba. Their brains were studied with an MRI, they
are matched up with 48 controlled cases to get a sense of what the differences were. And what the study found was that the differences were
One of the authors wrote, there were a group of differences all over the brain. Specifically variations in brain structure and functional
connectivity which includes whole brain white matter volume. The conclusion the doctor say is that something happened and we need to look
Now, what's complicated to this study is that the doctors who carried out didn't have the MRIs of those 40 people at the embassy, so they can't
really do it before and after there. They just have the controlled cases.
But what they do say is that if you didn't know anything about these 40 people, if you took them into a brain injury clinic, and you look at their
MRIs, it would look like these people have been in a bad car accident or had suffer some sort of explosion in the military.
What the doctors were looking at here is a long list of symptoms. And I'll just read off a couple of them. They include sharp ear pain, headaches,
ringing in one ear, vertigo, disorientation, memory loss, concentration, balanced eyesight. They had sleeping issues, they had headaches that
lasted for more than three months, the reported feeling mentally foggy and slow for months.
Now, Hala, as you mentioned, those attacks started at the U.S. embassy in late 2016. The officials affected described intensely loud sounds coming
from a specific direction. They described the sounds as buzzing, grinding metal, piercing squeals, and humming.
But, Hala, the doctors say it is not the sounds that caused these injuries, these illnesses. Those were the after effects of whatever this was, and
that we still do not know.
Cuban officials, for their part, have said that there was no attack that took place that targeted these Americans. But in the meantime, the U.S.
has expanded a health alert in China for similar symptoms for similar effects on U.S. officials there. So, Hala, this mystery endures.
GORANI: It's incredible. And are these -- is this reversible? I mean, what are doctors saying about treatment here?
MARQUARDT: Well, given the extent of the injuries and the variety of them, this is something that has lasted for quite some time. Obviously, some of
these symptoms are going to go away overtime. There will be some, they say, that will be more permanent. But this is something that is still very
much being studied by some of the most significant and famous doctors who work with the brain here in the United States.
GORANI: Alex Marquardt, thanks very much.
In less than 24 hours, some of the most anticipated hearings in years will get underway on Capitol Hill. I'm talking, of course, about former special
counsel, Robert Mueller who will be testifying about his report on Russian election interference and President Donald Trump's efforts to interfere
with the investigation itself. Mueller has said his 448-page report speaks for itself.
Now, the problem is many Americans have not read it, even the FBI director himself, today, acknowledged he hasn't read the whole thing. The Justice
Department instructed Mueller in a letter not to speak about matters beyond his report. And that drew some criticisms from Democrats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): He does not have to comply with that letter, he doesn't work for them. And that letter asks things that are beyond the
power of the agency to ask even if he still work for them. It's part of the ongoing cover up by the administration to keep information away from
the American people. But I think that it's not going to have a real impact.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Let's bring in CNN's Manu Raju on Capitol Hill where he's learning more about the last-minute request by Mueller today. What is that last-
[14:50:58] MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This has caught members by surprise on Capitol Hill. What the special counsel
had asked for his deputy, Aaron Zebley, to testify alongside of the special counsel. Essentially to be sworn. In case Robert Mueller was not able to
answer questions, then Zebley, the deputy, would answer questions that Mueller would not be able to fully respond to.
Now, Republicans, when they call wind of this, raise significant alarms, they attacked the Democrats for, in their view, agreeing to this request.
Democrats said they had not agreed to this request. And Democrats, I'm told now -- or will allow the deputy to sit alongside Mueller as his
counsel. But Mueller will be the only person who's sworn in as a witness.
Now, the Justice Department does not want Zebley to testify publicly or privately. Democrats are wanting bring in Aaron Zebley to testify
alongside another Mueller deputy behind closed doors to learn more about some of the more intricate details and classified information involved in
the Mueller report. But the Justice Department has pushed back and rejected that request even though those two individuals are private
But nevertheless, all this shows how sensitive these negotiations have been for weeks and months. Now, on the eve of this hearing, something that had
a last minute snag. We'll see how this ultimately gets resolved. Because at the moment, Mueller's spokesperson is not commented yet about all of
these developments. But Democrats believe that this hearing is going to go on tomorrow with Robert Mueller as the only witness being sworn in. Hala.
GORANI: And I mean, I keep reading. I mean, the biggest headline or the headline I see most often about this testimony is don't expect to anything
new. That especially Democrats were pinning their hopes on this testimony that Robert Mueller will reveal something that isn't in the report
shouldn't be hoping too hard for that. Is that the expectation on Capitol Hill?
RAJU: Yes, it depends on who you ask. Democrats are certainly divided about what this testimony could mean. Some Democrats has said that this
could turn up the dial on impeachment, lead to impeachment proceedings in the House because public opinion could shift and it could have that
profound of an impact with tens of millions of viewers likely to tune in.
But other Democrats say turned down the temperature. Say this is not going to have that dramatic of an impact, because already dug in and whether or
not people will ultimately find anything revelatory and this is an open question. So we'll ultimately have to wait and see what kind of impact
this has for the moment the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, not talking about impeachment proceedings, wants to focus on other aspects including
their ongoing investigations. But this is going to be a debate within that Democratic Party and the days ahead after this testimony tomorrow, Hala.
GORANI: All right, Manu Raju, thanks very much.
And tune in Wednesday for our live coverage of former special counsel, Robert Mueller's testimony. It will be on CNN live throughout the day.
More to come, including another heatwave is blazing across Europe. I can confirm, I'm sitting right in the middle of it. The extreme heat has
already broken record highs this summer and it could happen again this week.
[14:55:57] GORANI: Well, today, for the first time in my life, I walked out of my house and thought to myself, should I be wearing sunscreen? No
joke. I was wearing a sleeveless t-shirt, and I thought, I might get a sunburn, because that is how unusually hot and sunny it is in the U.K.
And across Europe, people are slathering on the sunscreen as they get ready for the second major heatwave of the summer. People in France are cooling
off in the fountains near the Eiffel Tower to beat. The country has been blistered heat. This country has been blistered by the hot weather. The
month of June saw the highest temperatures ever recorded in France. Paris could break its all-time record high of 40 degree Celsius on Sunday or
Let's look at the temperature high predictions for you there. London and southeast parts of the U.K. are also bracing for record breaking
temperatures in the days ahead. I will be reporting back for you in the coming days on that.
And a final word on our top story from here in Westminster. Boris Johnson has always had a way with words. He once told a U.S. talk show host, there
is more chance of him being reincarnated as an olive than becoming British prime minister.
But in just a matter of hours, Boris Johnson will be just that, Britain's leader. And it won't be his words, but his actions that matter.
On his desk, immediately will be two huge international headaches. First one, of course, getting Britain put of the E.U. The issue he famously
campaigned for and now will own and trying to diffuse the escalating tensions with Iran.
But while some see Boris as the joker, the mayor who got stuck on a zip wire or appeared on primetime soap operas, the time for laughs for the new
prime minister maybe in the past as a responsivity of being a leader of a country in turmoil sinks in, whether the job he's reportedly wanted his
entire life will change him, some had predicted, the presidency would change Donald Trump, is far from certain.
You can see full coverage tomorrow right here on CNN. I'm Hala Gorani. Thanks for watching as we come to you live from Westminster. I'll see you
next time. Stay with CNN. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is coming up next.