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Saudi Oil Attack; National Elections Now Underway in Israel; Johnson Seeks Deal, Meets with E.U. Officials in Luxembourg; Trump Says No to Pyongyang Visit at this point. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired September 17, 2019 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Prime Minister speaks out in a rare interview about his fateful decision to put Brexit to a vote and how he feels about it now.
Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church and this is CNN NEWSROOM.
Good to have you with us. So U.S. President Donald Trump says it's looking more and more like Iran was behind Saturday's attacks in Saudi Arabia. The incident has rocked the Saudi oil industry and the effects are being felt around the world.
Two oil sights were hit sending flames and black smoke into the sky. Iran denies its responsible but its Houthi allies in Yemen say they're the ones who did it hitting the Saudis with drone strikes. Here was some of what Mr. Trump told reporters Monday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you clarify, Mr. President? So you said that you think that Iran was responsible for the attack. Do you think that --
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I didn't say that. Why do you say that? I said that we think we know who it was but I didn't say anybody. But certainly, it would look -- to most, like it was Iran but I did not say it the way you said. You're going to find out in great detail in the very near future. We have the exact locations of just about everything. You're going to find out at the right time. But it's too early to tell you that now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Well, to sort through all of this finger-pointing, we have CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reporting from Tehran, but first our International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson is in Riyadh.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, so far, we haven't heard from the Saudi leadership responding to President Trump about what sort of direction and precise support they would like from the United States. That's not happening in the public domain, certainly maybe behind closed doors.
And interesting here, the newspaper headlines here speaking about the United Nations is concerned about tensions of the situation right now rather than headlines sort of ratcheting up anti-Iranian rhetoric in the newspapers here. So it does seem that the Saudi leadership at least for now playing a sort of statesmanship like role.
And we've heard however from the Saudi coalition military spokesman saying very clearly that they believe that the weapons that were used to target these facilities were Iranian made and that they weren't fired from Yemen by Houthi rebels there.
LT. COL. TURKI AL-MALKI, SPOKESMAN, SAUDI-LED COALITION (through translator): All practical evidence and indicators and the weapons used in both attacks show preliminarily that these are Iranian weapons. We are working on finalizing these investigations. Our results will be announced. The terror attack was not from Yemen as the Houthis have claimed, they're just tools used by the IRGC.
ROBERTSON: Well, what Colonel Malki is also saying is that they will present the evidence that they have to journalists, that they will try to find the locations of where these missile systems were fired from to give this sort of some kind of context, these claims by Saudi Arabia that these were Iranian made weapon systems.
In the past, the Saudis have accused the Houthi rebels in Yemen of firing huge Scud missiles at Saudi Arabia. Iranian made missiles the Saudis have said. The U.N. has investigated those claims and found indeed that the weapons systems were manufactured in part in Iran.
It doesn't mean per se that if they were Iranian made that Iran was responsible for their firing, but that does seem to be the direction that the Saudi government is going in at the moment. But for right now at least, an attempt it would seem if they're going to put this evidence in the public domain to build a broader support for their very staunchly anti-Iran position.
Clearly, the leadership has to show a deterrence in some way somehow to mitigate against having strikes like this in the future, a very difficult diplomatic tightrope to be walked here at the moment. Nic Robertson, CNN Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Iran has always denied any responsibility or involvement in these attacks on Saudi oil facilities and that was kind of reiterated this day by President Hassan Rouhani who said that this was not really about oil it was about stability and security and a reciprocal action, I'm paraphrasing here, by the Yemeni people.
Now, from the beginning, Iran has said this was the act of Houthi rebels in Yemen who are fighting Saudi-backed Yemeni forces there as well and the Yemenis who work with the Houthis have been subject to an extensive and at times barbaric air campaign it's fair to say. Hassan Rouhani saying this was a response against Saudi infrastructure.
Now, slowly ever since U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the initial allegation that Iran was behind the attack, we've had a drip, drip of anonymous U.S. officials trying to put evidence, trying to put details together to back up that very stark accusation. None of them brilliantly so far, frankly, there's been very little evidence at all put out into the public sphere but they are beginning slowly to suggest that maybe Iran's territory was used as a staging ground.
Again, Iran has always denied that, continued to do so this day and their Foreign Ministry spokesperson saying that Donald Trump's words often lasts about 24 hours. But he was referring to two tweets by the U.S. President that said the U.S. was locked and loaded to potentially respond. A White House official then clarified that saying he wasn't really talking about military action but oil reserves.
I think a lot of people are trying to work out really what the U.S. policy is. Some of them are talking extraordinarily tough towards Iran. Iran is kind of used to that I would imagine to some degree. Iran is consistently denying involvement. And I have to say there was some analysts who think that the stark use of Iranian territory as was being alleged by U.S. officials to launch these attacks would be possibly an overly stupidly bold move by any Iranian officials.
We simply have no evidence to back that off that point in Iran continues its denials of any involvement but we're into uncharted waters here. There's been a lot of tension in the region but nothing like this attack on Saudi oil facilities.
And the concern I think certainly amongst ordinary civilians here in Iran who just want sanctions lifted and life on an ordinary basis to improve for them is we're into dangerous territory ahead here where these big players in the region may try and prove to the other who's the toughest. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN Tehran.
CHURCH: Voting is now underway in Israel's close high stakes election. Polls suggest it may be a tight race between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party and former Israeli military chief of staff Benny Gantz's Blue and White Party.
Now, this is the country's second election in less than six months. Mr. Netanyahu forced the do-over election after he failed to form a coalition to govern the 120 seat Knesset back in April. So let's turn to CNN's Sam Kiley. He joins us from a polling station in Jerusalem.
Sam, good to see you again. What issues are motivating people there to get out and vote and what sort of enthusiasm is there for this second election?
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's quite interesting. I think there's a lot of enthusiasm, motivation from some of the fringe parties. But the key for both the Likud, the two frontrunners, Likud led by Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid's Blue and White Party is to get their base out.
Some of the more obscure parties, the more niche elements are looking like they might pole quite well. So, for example, you've got on the very extreme ultra-right of Jewish politics, you've got a group called Jewish Power. The opinion polls show might get about four seats in 120 seats Knesset.
That would be quite awkward if it was Benjamin Netanyahu who was asked to try to put a coalition together after these elections, and that is the almost certain outcome. There will be a process of coalition- building because he would have to -- if these -- if the Jewish power got four seats, he's likely to have to negotiate with them to use those four seats as part of his coalition and that would give them a degree of power that he perhaps doesn't want to have to share.
Equally, on the center-left are Arab parties. 20 percent of the citizens in this country are Arabic ethnic Arabs and they look set to maybe get about 12 seats. Now, if that would have come around and the center-left needed in addition to the big block they needed to build these other coalitions, that would give Arabs a considerable amount of leverage in negotiations which some in what has frankly been a fairly racist campaign at times particularly on the right-wing would be uncomfortable with that.
So you've got a lot of incentive on the fringes to participate and a degree of apathy, I have to say, in the mainstream party. So each of those, the Blue and White and Likud, Rosemary, showing about 32, 33 seats if the polls are to be believed. But this is the critical thing in this elections -- this country's election is the opinion polls and the results are often very divergent. I should also caution that any kind of exit polls can be extremely misleading too.
CHURCH: All right, Sam Kiley there at a polling booth in Jerusalem, many thanks to you as we wait and watch. Now, I think we have our guest if we're going to get to lined up. Can we go to our guest now? All right, all right, we're going to take a short break. We are going to have some analysis on this and of course, CNN will continue to cover this election. We're back in just a moment.
CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. We were talking about the Israeli election with voting currently underway. And our next guest is an international political and strategic consultant who has worked in 15 countries including five campaigns in Israel. Dahlia Scheindlin joins us now from Tel Aviv via Skype. Good to see you.
DAHLIA SCHEINDLIN, INTERNATIONAL POLITICAL AND STRATEGIC CONSULTANT: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
CHURCH: So when you look at the polls that indicate this will be a very tight race, do you have any reason to doubt that's the case and what would you expect the outcome to be here?
SCHEINDLIN: Well, it looks like a tight race between the two frontrunner parties Likud and Blue and White which were the parties that came in neck-and-neck last time. And most of the polls certainly show them still running neck-and-neck.
However, it doesn't look quite as tight between the blocks of parties based on ideology. When you look at the breakdown of the Israeli public and the parties that align with their ideology, we see always an advantage for the parties that are right-wing in their orientation.
And so they will -- they got a majority last time. They had 65 out of 120 seats. They are polling at a very similar rate even slightly higher this time. So that is most likely the breakdown. What has changed is that one of the small parties within that right-wing bloc now is saying -- insisting that it won't automatically form a right- wing coalition with those other parties.
So that's what is really the unpredictable factor. It looks pretty likely the public will do about what it's been doing for the last election but also for the last decade which is giving the ideologically right-wing parties an advantage over the center and left parties in Israel.
CHURCH: Right, OK. And so what issues do you think are driving voters this time around and how big a role might Netanyahu's promise to annex parts of the West Bank play in the outcome do you think?
SCHEINDLIN: Well, Netanyahu's promised to annex parts of the West Bank is very consistent with his promises in April when he made his first open statement about annexing all of the settlements, the Israeli Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
He is really speaking to his base and primarily he's trying to get his base from scattering to other small right-wing parties. He wants to come in the biggest party but he also needs a big right-wing bloc. Of course, what he's really trying to do is get 61 out of 120 parliamentary seats without having to depend on that one smaller right-wing party that might defect from the bloc and that's the party of Avigdor Lieberman. So the big challenge people are talking about and everybody is thinking about is whether he will get sufficient parties to build a coalition without having to depend on that one party.
To do that, he wants to be both the biggest party but he also needs lots of votes for the other right-wing parties, so it's not entirely clear how this will happen. He certainly wants to just dominate the headlines. These promises for annexation speak completely to his base. He's trying to motivate also all right wingers to come out and vote, to turn out at a higher rate. He claims that there's evidence that they are voting at slightly lower turnout. In fact, I have seen public polling showing slightly lower turnout among the right wing. So, he wants them to turn out, he wants them to vote for the right- wing block. He wants them to vote for his party as well so that he can have this
symbolic advantage of being the largest party, even though we don't have to call upon the largest party to form the coalition. But it always looks good for him if he shows a decisive victory. And so, that's why he's making these kinds of statements. It's certainly not the only populist promise and statement that he's made. He's also gone on the attack against Israel's minorities, Israel's Arab minorities, saying that they want to join the coalition and destroy Israel, which he claims is a mistake of a staffer, but very controversial here, obviously. And, you know, these, these, these hardline promises on the conflict are certainly consistent with his campaign strategy.
CHURCH: All right. So, and as we've discussed, if these polls are right, then we're looking at a very tight race and whoever wins will be tasked with building a workable governing coalition, as we've just discussed. Netanyahu was not able to do that back in April initial, saying now, it looks like he might be -- if he wins, he might be confronted with the same problem, same issue with Benny Gantz should he win. So, talk to us about that coalition building and those smaller parties, the role that they will play.
SCHEINDLIN: Sure, I mean, it's worth pointing out that no Israeli party in the -- in the history of the country has ever won a majority of the parliamentary seats which means they always have to go into a coalition. Usually, the coalitions have four or five parties. Some of them are small parties. This is not new for Israel. What is new is that there's a party that, again, is on the right, but is claiming now that it won't necessarily go into a right-wing coalition. That's the party that brought down the coalition negotiations last time. And it's a small party. It was five seats in the last election, and now it's getting maybe eight, nine, or 10 seats. This is the party of Avigdor Lieberman.
He is claiming that he would prefer a unity coalition between the two largest parties, which will most likely be Likud and Blue and White, the challenger Benny Gantz. However, if you look at the promises and statements of all the party leaders, especially from those big parties, they have all made statements about what kinds of coalitions they will not go into. And if they all stick to all of their promises, we will never have another -- a government in Israel. Some of them will have to make significant compromises.
For example, Benny Gantz and the Blue and White Party, have stated that they will not go into a coalition with Likud if Netanyahu is the prime minister, because so many of their voters are supporting them in order to get Netanyahu out. And because of the corruption and investigations against him, for which he may be indicted soon.
If they stick to those promises, it's very hard to imagine Netanyahu agreeing to a unity coalition. And again, that's why he wants so much to get to 61 seats even though without the small party, Lieberman. He'll have to deal with other small parties in that case, but he's still has not shown -- and there have been no polls showing him actually reaching 61 seats without Lieberman. Therefore, it's really unclear what kind of government Israel will have. Although, the voter breakdowns are a little bit more predictable.
CHURCH: Well, voting is currently underway. We should know -- I mean, not too short a time, perhaps what the outcome is. Dahlia Scheindlin in Tel Aviv, many thanks to you for your analysis, appreciate it.
SCHEINDLIN: Thank you for having me.
CHURCH: And you can watch CNN's special coverage of the Israel elections beginning at 10:00 p.m. on Tuesday as the polls close. CNN's Becky Anderson anchors our coverage live from Jerusalem.
Well, Donald Trump is hoping to flip New Mexico into the win column in next year's presidential election, but that could be a challenge in a state Hillary Clinton won by eight percentage points last time around. The President flew in late Monday for campaign rally, his first trip to New Mexico as President. It's a special appeal to Latinos who make up nearly half of the state's population.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We're working night and day to deliver a future of limitless opportunity for our nation's Hispanic-American citizens including millions and millions of extraordinary Mexican-Americans who will enrich our society, strengthen our country, serving our military, and contribute immensely to our shared American family.
And I want to just tell you that Mexico is doing a great job for us on the border. And I want to thank the president of Mexico.
The Hispanic-Americans, they understand they don't want criminals coming across the border. They don't want people taking their jobs. They want to have that security, and they want the wall. They want the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Well, the democratic frontrunner in 2020, Joe Biden, is working to bolster his strong support from African-American voters. He spent Monday in South Carolina partly in damage control mode. Critics say the former vice president bungled an answer on slavery during last week's debate, and some are questioning his views and sharpness. CNN's (INAUDIBLE) reports.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have not relegated racism and white supremacy to the pages of history.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Former Vice President Joe Biden's visits to states like Alabama and South Carolina, part of his push to win the black vote, a key voting bloc in the path to the Democratic nomination. Biden's current frontrunner status is powered in large part by support from black voters.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My mind's been made up pretty much from the beginning.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And who's that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe Biden.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A recent CNN poll found 42 percent of black Democratic voters want Biden as their nominee. A 30-point difference from his closest rival, Bernie Sanders. But Biden has also faced some criticism for his past handling of race-related issues, like his role in crafting the 1994 crime bill and his opposition to school busing. And this response to a question about the legacy of slavery at last week's Democratic primary debate.
BIDEN: We bring social workers into homes and parents to help them deal with how to raise their children. It's not that they don't want to help, they don't want -- they don't know quite what to do.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: New York Times columnist Charles Blow writing, comments like these and other issues from his past, make a Biden candidacy problematic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a well-intentioned answer and it was a bad answer.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Meanwhile, Elizabeth Warren unveiling a sweeping anti-orruption proposal that sets strict new limits on lobbying powers, including banning lawmakers and their senior staff from serving on corporate boards and requiring new lawmakers to disclose potential financial conflicts before taking office.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The money is everywhere. It's so many different ways. The corruption infects so many different decisions that it comes to us what to do about it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The rolled out upcoming hours before Warren delivers a major speech in New York City, where she'll use a teleprompter, a rare site at her campaign events.
CHURCH: And that New York rally drew thousands of supporters for Elizabeth Warren, one of the largest so far of her campaign.
And find out what all the candidates are up to at our website, cnn.com/politics, where you will find extensive coverage of the 2020 campaign. Do take a look. Well, there's new controversy swirling around U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh over new reports of sexual misconduct allegations against him. Some Democratic presidential candidates are calling for him to be impeached, saying he lied under oath. Plus, CNN has obtained a warning letter sent to the FBI just days before Kavanaugh's confirmation. Justice Correspondent Jessica Schneider has our report.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: In a letter obtained and reviewed by CNN, Democratic Senator Chris Coons urged the FBI to reach out to a witness about Brett Kavanaugh's alleged misconduct at Yale. The letter was dated October 2nd, 2018, four days before Kavanaugh was confirmed.
Coons writes he'd heard from several people who reportedly had key information but had trouble getting through to the FBI. Coons specifically asked the FBI to follow up with a man whose sources say was Max Stier, a possible witness to the incident and a Yale College classmate of Kevin and Ramirez with information relevant Ramirez's allegations.
Coons played a key role in the confirmation hearings.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Judge Kavanaugh is shown to have lied to the committee, nominations over?
SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Oh, yes, I would think so.
SCHNEIDER: Convincing Republican Senator Jeff Flake to call for a supplemental FBI background investigation before Flake would vote Kavanaugh out of committee. But in a new book, New York Times reporters say the FBI did not investigate Stier's alleged claim concerning another student. The newspaper later clarified saying that student declined to be interviewed. Her friends say she doesn't remember the incident.
A Coons aide tell CNN the FBI received the letter but never heard back. And a democratic senator tells CNN, "The broader point is that the FBI investigation was not thorough and credible."
CNN previously reported the FBI interviewed nine people in connection to claims by two other women against Kavanaugh, Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez.
BRETT KAVANAUGH, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES: I Brett M. Kavanaugh do solemnly swear --
SCHNEIDER: Now, almost a year after Justice Kavanaugh was sworn into the Supreme Court, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler is calling for a renewed inquiry.
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): We're going to start looking into the adequacy of the investigation upon which the confirmation was premised when the FBI Director comes before us next month.
SCHNEIDER: The Justice Department, of course, is not the personal attorney for the president or any Supreme Court Justice. Now, a Supreme Court spokeswoman says that Justice Kavanaugh had no comment on the new allegation against him or about the calls for impeachment coming from some Democratic candidates. It's important to note only one Justice has ever been impeached. That was back in 1805. And that justice was never actually removed from the bench by the Senate. Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.
CHURCH: Well, some U.S. officials say they can prove Saturday's attacks on Saudi Arabian oil science did not come from Yemen. What they're gleaning from satellite images like this. That's coming up.
Plus, Israel's Prime Minister is fighting for his political life, as voters head to the polls. How likely is a victory over challenger Benny Gantz. We'll take a look. Back in a moment.
CHURCH: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Rosemary Church. I want to check the headlines for you this hour. Britain's highest court will hear arguments in a few hours on whether the suspension of Parliament was legal. Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the controversial move last week. Critics call it a bid to force through a No Deal withdrawal from the European Union.
Democrats want a thorough investigation into newly-revealed sexual misconduct allegations made against Supreme Court Justice Britt Kavanaugh. At least six Democratic presidential candidates are calling for Kavanaugh's impeachment after the New York Times published an excerpt of a new book. The new allegations reportedly happened when Kavanaugh was a student at Yale.
The U.S. president says it looks like Iran was responsible for Saturday's attacks on Saudi oil sites, but Donald Trump told reporters Monday he was still waiting to find out definitively. Iran denies playing a role, but it's Houthi allies in Yemen are claiming responsibility.
CNN's Kaitlan Collins has more on how the White House is responding to the attacks.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tonight President Trump is warning he's prepared to take military action as the U.S. builds the case Iran was behind strikes on crucial Saudi oil facilities.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That was a very large attack and it could be met with an attack many, many times larger.
COLLINS: After saying the U.S. was locked and loaded depending on verification, the White House is placing the blame on Iran while offering no public evidence.
TRUMP: We pretty much already know. Certainly it would look -- to most like it was Iran --
COLLINS: Aides are cautioning that his tweet doesn't necessarily mean there will be a military response.
TRUMP: With all of that being said we' certainly like to avoid it. COLLINS: The weekend attack cut the Kingdom's oil production in half
sending crude prices spiking and leading Trump to authorize the release of U.S. oil reserves it needed. Though he later said we don't need Middle Eastern oil and gas and in fact had very few tankers there.
The attacks and accusations have thrown a potential meeting between Trump and Iran's president into question.
TRUMP: I have no meeting scheduled --
COLLINS: Both leaders will be in New York next week for the United Nations summit but Trump is now back pedaling and blaming the media for reporting he was willing to meet without conditions.
TRUMP: There were always conditions. That's why the Press misreported it.
COLLINS: Even though he said so on camera twice.
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS HOST: No pre-conditions?
TRUMP: Not as far as I'm concerned, no preconditions.
No preconditions. No. they want to meet I'll meet.
COLLINS: His Secretary of State and Treasury Secretary echoed him last week.
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: He'd prefer to meet with no preconditions
STEVE MNUCHIN, U.S. SCY OF TREASURY: He's happy to take a meeting with no preconditions but we are maintaining the maximum pressure campaign.
CHURCH: CNN's Kaitlan Collins with that report.
Well, as of now Saudi Arabia is not flatly saying Iran launched the attacks, only that Iranian weapons were used. The Kingdom also claims the strikes did not come from Yemen. Now that echoes what U.S. officials are saying about these satellite images. They say the attacks came from the northwest and would have been difficult to carry out from Yemen.
The Houthis had launched strikes in Saudi Arabia before but analysts think what happened Saturday goes beyond their capabilities.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY (RET), CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: If you look at those photographs it is clear that this attack was highly coordinated, complex, extraordinarily precise. And it is just not plausible that the Houthis could do this on their own.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: For more I'm joined by CNN military analysts Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling. Always good to have you with us to explain all things military.
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It's good to be with you -- Rosemary. And I'll do my best.
CHURCH: All right. So let's start by getting you're reading on where things stand right, now given the U.S. and now Saudi Arabia both pointing the finger at Iran. Tehran denies those allegations while Yemen's Houthi rebels claim responsibility to the attacks on the oil facilities.
When you look at the facts and the satellite images obtained so far, what makes sense to you about who may have been responsible?
HERTLING: Well, it's certainly indicating that Iran was involved in some way. Whether or not they fired the weapon system or assisted others into doing so remains to be seen. I'm sure they were behind it in some way because that is their -- that has been their mode of operations over the last decade or so.
But again, where the system came from, was it southern Iraq, was it Iran proper? Was it Yemen or even somewhere in Saudi Arabia? Has still not been proven.
And I'm sure there is a lot of discussion going on about this. With the intelligence communities and the shared intelligence between nations.
But right now the facts are not clear. At least they have not been presented that way by those who communicate the facts to the people who support action in one way or another.
CHURCH: All right. So if Iran was behind this, why attack Saudi oil facilities at a time when the U.S. president was poised to meet with the Iranian leader? Does that make sense to you? What purpose wood an attack on this scale in Saudi Arabia serve and to whom?
HERTLING: Well, certainly it sends a message and I think Iran has been attempting to send the message that the economic sanctions against them have been devastating.
Secondly, they are trapped into a corner, quite frankly. They are economically declining. They are pariahs on the world stage. They do not know how to get their message out.
HERTLING: The information that they have been pursuing and contributing to the world has not been truthful. They are more than likely contributors to this attack, so from the standing point of diplomacy, economy, and information they are failing miserably. But they do have quite a few proxies who will work on their side. So they are trapped into a corner in terms of what way they can strategically act to force the hand of other.
Now, could they have overstepped their bounds, I think they have. But at the same time the United States and its allies are not -- specifically the United States is not doing really well in those same terms.
The President has really generated just one form of discussion, and that is the use of military force. Diplomacy from the United States to Iran has not been as good as you said. There seemed to be an offer of that recently and then it was pulled back very quickly.
They continue to put the maximum pressure campaign so it is struggling -- Iran is struggling with this economic pressure. But truthfully the United States has not done a very good job in terms of information, providing the world or alliances or governing bodies like the United Nations the information that they need to help build an alliance against Iran's action in this, of an economic war attempting to shut down the world oil supplies.
CHURCH: Right. And I do want to talk to you about that because I wanted to ask why you saw U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran so swiftly without producing any evidence while at the same time the U.K. called on the Houthis to cease any further attacks. The E.U. called for more facts before determining responsibility for the attacks.
And even the Saudis, we know now, they want international experts to join the investigation, to pinpoint the location of where those weapons were fired from before anyone sort of takes this quantum leap.
HERTLING: Yes. Well, any of these kinds of tumultuous situations, you want to first gather the facts very calmly. And unfortunately that does not seem to be the type of operations Mr. Trump and his administration have used in the past. They quickly come out with either a tweet or a statement by the Secretary of State or someone else to put more fire on the cauldron.
And unfortunately that is contrary to the best way to bide time and to get more information. So you can in fact gather your alliances. Present the information on the world stage to places like the E.U. or the U.N., to get support from other nations.
But instead it is the same approach of going it alone with rather rash statements the don't help the situation.
Now I think we are seeing some additional discussion. Perhaps a little bit of pullback of both the Secretary of State and the president. Perhaps some primary committee meetings where they have been discussing better approaches.
And I think things have gone quiet, but unfortunately that does not help what occurred in the first 24 hours of this crisis. And which lent more turmoil to something that was already a dire situation. CHURCH: Yes. President Trump, of course, initially tweeting that the
U.S. was locked and loaded in response to those attacks on the Saudi oil facilities using very specific military language. But has apparently as you say, backed off that threat even going so far as saying that he didn't mean anything militarily by those words -- using those.
But what would be the consequences of the U.S., perhaps. And we're not saying this is going to happen but what would happen if the U.S. did engage in any form of military action in response to those attacks on Saudi Arabia soil?
HERTLING: Right. Well, first of all, we would be joining in an operation that in truth does not affect any of our security concerns. We are not here to fight Saudi Arabia's war for them. They have been fighting against the Houthis in Yemen for several years now. And in fact had been somewhat devastating in their attacks against the nation of Yemen and the Houthi rebellion.
At the same time there is obvious disconnect between Iran and Saudi Arabia. And getting ourselves in the mix of that would only cause more challenges, I believe, on the world stage. Not only for a global economy but for Iran to strike against U.S. interest but also just placing the United States in a very particular situation when in fact Iran has proxies all over the Middle East and in fact can do some damage.
This is similar truthfully, Rosemary. to the Presidents actions against North Korea. He got himself involved in a situation that has no good military ending.
HERTLING: And to always attempt to apply a military approach first and foremost by threatening language and bluster like "locked and loaded" or previously "cocked and loaded", some of those kinds of statements that the President made. It's not the best way to calm a situation and allow other things to come to the bubble and see what other approaches you can use in these kinds of crisis situations.
CHURCH: Lieutenant General Mark Hertling -- always a pleasure to get your analysis on these matters. We appreciate it always.
HERTLING: Thank you -- Rosemary. Appreciate it.
CHURCH: A new U.N. report says 600,000 Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, are living in deplorable conditions under the threat of genocide. A military crackdown two years ago forced more than 700,000 Rohingya to flee to neighboring Bangladesh. The new report says those who stayed behind are subject to forced labor, torture, and sexual violence. Myanmar's government blames Rohingya militants for terrorist attacks on innocent people and police stations.
At least eight people are dead, 39 others missing in a ferry accident in southeast India. Helicopters and divers are searching for survivors but time may be running out. 73 people were on board the tourist boat when it capsized on Sunday.
More than two dozen survivors have been rescued. The river had been flooded last week and the local police chief says strong currents will make it difficult to pull the boat up from the river bed.
A mea culpa from the man who unleashed Brexit on Great Britain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID CAMERON, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I totally -- if you ask me, do I have regrets? Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Why David Cameron feels haunted by the E.U. referendum.
Plus is Brexit chaos making Scotland think again about staying in the United Kingdom. We hit the road from Edinburgh to the Highlands to find out. Back in just a moment.
CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone.
Well, Israel's second general election in less than six months is now underway. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu forced the do-over election after he failed to form a governing coalition back in April. Polls suggest his Likud Party faces a tight race against the Blue and White Party led by Israel's former military chief Benny Gantz.
CNN's Oren Liebermann has our report.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is fighting for his political future in an election that is too close to call. Netanyahu is re-upping his hard line promise to annex parts of the West Bank and bringing back his time tested strategy to boost voter turnout warning his party's Likud supporters they're about to lose.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): In the polls I received just four hours ago, we are losing, and we're losing not because I don't have a majority in the country. The majority of the country wants me to be prime minister. We're losing because Likud voters are complacent.
LIEBERMANN: Over the weekend, Netanyahu got another helping hand from President Donald Trump who offered to discuss a mutual defense pact after the elections. Netanyahu celebrated the idea, never mind that Israeli security experts have reviewed and rejected a defense pact in the past.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They would not want to implicate the United States in actions that Israel might feel it need to take in his own defense. And the United States prefers to have a certain degree of distance and even deniability from actions that Israel may feel it needs to take without being bound to them by a formal defense pact.
LIEBERMANN: Netanyahu's former chief of staff Benny Gantz, now his rival, doing his own rounds in the media. He lacks the charisma of Israel's longest-serving but the two have polled neck and neck repeatedly. His main message: Netanyahu is a danger to democracy.
BENNY GANTZ, BLUE AND WHITE PARTY LEADER (through translator): Everyone who does not want to see here next week a government that tramples the principles of democracy, let's go out and vote Blue and White so that we don't wake up the day after the elections with a prime minister with no restraint.
LIEBERMANN: These two men were separated by less than 15,000 votes in April's election. Gantz thought he won on a bad exit poll, Netanyahu though he won with a coalition. Both claimed victory that night. And both were, in the end, mistaken.
One of the main questions we will be looking for when we first see the exit poll projections and then look at the actual results will be, can either Gantz or Netanyahu form a governing coalition of 61 seats? Do they have a clear path to a government?
That's one of the key questions here. And it's possible the answer will be no. In that case the only certainty you could say is that Israel looks like it's heading for more political uncertainty.
Oren Liebermann, CNN -- Jerusalem.
CHURCH: To the U.K. now and current British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be very keen to find out what the U.K. Supreme Court decides about whether his suspension of parliament was legal. Hearings are set to begin in less than six hours.
On Monday, Mr. Johnson was in Luxembourg in search of a Brexit deal. He says he thinks there's a good chance of coming to an agreement.
But his optimistic words are being overshadowed by images of an empty podium. Mr. Johnson walked right past it instead of taking part in a news conference. His Luxembourg counterpart carried on without him. And here's how the British leader explained his absence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I don't think it would've been fair to the Prime Minister OF Luxembourg to -- I think there is clearly going to be a lot of noise and I think our point might have been drowned out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Well, Prime Minister Johnson was actually in Luxembourg for his first face-to-face Brexit meeting with E.U. chief Jean-Claude Juncker. Downing Street says they agree talks should soon take place on a daily basis.
Well, in Scotland Mr. Johnson is not exactly seen as a hero and it's important to remember Scotland voted to remain in the E.U. It also chose to stay in the U.K. when it held its own referendum on independence. So are Scotts having second thoughts about that now?
Nic Robertson went to speak to the people.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: This is Edinburgh in Scotland. And I'm beginning a road trip around this country, asking the question is Brexit driving Scotland and England apart.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, first off, Scotland voted to stay in the E.U. and the majority of England voted to leave.
ROBERTSON: His angered Scottish judges ruled PM Boris Johnson lied to the Queen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think Scotland is going to put up with the BS that's going on much longer especially after this (INAUDIBLE) incident.
ROBERTSON: Do you think another independence referendum is now more likely?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I think so. I think a lot of people who said no in the first round say actually they are scared now.
ROBERTSON: But not everyone agrees.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People voted clearly in 2014 to remain part of the glorious union which was quite a decisive vote.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I voted to remain part of the U.K. And I'm still would. I know (INAUDIBLE) for Brexit and I still would.
ROBERTSON: In this capital city, the Scottish National Party the SNP have three of five MPs, but does it represent the country? We head north to find out.
Through the spectacular highlands, to Elgin. I came here just before the last election two years ago and met the SNP MP. He lost his seat to the conservatives.
This lady helped vote the conservative candidate in but not again.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- it got Boris Johnson in charge. And they also make a mess of Brexit and that is turning people like me off.
ROBERTSON: In Elgin, Johnson's loss could be the SNP's gain. They are working hard to make it happen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Their argument is yes, it's actually -- Brexit is pushing Scotland more and more towards independence. Yes, you can see it.
ROBERTSON: Well, the SNP lost last election here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, but if Boris Johnson gets his way and there's another election, then SNP will dominate.
ROBERTSON: Across Scotland today SNP have 35 of 59 seats, but can they hold what they've got?
I head west to the craggy coast. The third stop on this road trip, Oban, gateway to Scotland's Western Isles. It's big on fishing here, big on tourism and they have an SNP member of parliament.
Brexit is a problem here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a lot of people and the tourism industry that are worried and they actually feel as if it's maybe been a bit quieter this year because there is a lot of unknown.
ROBERTSON: These fishermen export to the E.U. Here their catch will get tangled in border delays and rot. Most here like that the SNP looks out for their local interests but not everyone wants independence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Locally elected SNP (INAUDIBLE)
ROBERTSON: After close to 500 miles of driving, we are back here in Edinburgh again. And after all that travel, it is clear the Union is under strain. The SNP does seem to be gaining strength but that alone does not translate simply into an independent Scotland.
Nic Robertson, CNN -- Edinburgh.
CHURCH: Well, former British Prime Minister David Cameron is breaking his silence on Brexit. The man who called the 2016 E.U. referendum is making the rounds to promote the release of his memoirs.
And he sat down for a candid interview with CNN affiliate ITV.
CAMERON: I totally -- If you're asking me, do I have regrets, yes. Am I sorry about the state the country has gotten, to? Yes. Do I feel I have some responsibility for that? Yes, it was my referendum, my campaign, my decision to try and renegotiate.
And I accept all of those things and people, including those watching this program will have to decide how much blame to put on me. But I accept, and I can't put it more bluntly than this. I accept that that attempt failed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Well, David Cameron also says he feels the vote was inevitable, but he's sorry for the divisions it cost.
Well they've already met three times but the U.S. President is drawing the line at visiting North Korea's leader in Pyongyang, at least for now. The reported invitation ahead.
CHURCH: Well, President Trump is refusing to comment on a report that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has invited him to visit Pyongyang. Brian Todd reports from now Trump is backing off making north an unprecedented trip for a sitting U.S. President.
TRUMP: I enjoy and being you.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Trump has seemingly never been able to resist Kim Jong-un's charms. But today the President indicated he might have to.
TRUMP: I do not want to comment on that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you want to go to North Korea?
TRUMP: Probably not.
I don't think it is ready. I do not think we are ready for that. I would do it sometimes. Some time at a later future. It's some time at later future -- and depending on what happens
I'm sure he'll love coming to the United States.
TODD: The question seemingly prompted by report in a South Korean saying Kim had invited Trump to come to Pyongyang. CNN has not independently verify the report.
Trump has said he would invite Kim to Washington during an impromptu meeting at the DMZ.
But a sitting American President traveling to the secretive, hermetic north Korean capital would be unprecedented. A truly historic moment.
Still some veteran diplomats agree with the President that it is a bad idea right now. AMB. NICHOLAS BURNS, FORMER UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE: Kim would
consider this a great victory, a great coup to have Donald Trump in Pyongyang. The President should not do it.
The President appears interested in these kinds of summit to give him a lot of publicity. But they undercut his authority and his credibility. They make the United States frankly look weak on a global stage.
TODD: Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton have traveled to North Korea to secure the release of Americans held captive there but they wet as former presidents. Analysts say Kim Jong-Un, his father and grandfather have always want to have a sitting American president come see them on their turf. And they are worried about the optics if President Trump ever does accept Kim's invitation.
FRANK JANNUZI, FORMER U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT ANALYST: It's hard to imagine that President Trump could resisting the opportunity to sort of take the drive through the city with adoring children waving at this motorcade.
Or even to show up to a state dinner. At which the North Koreans would fed him with food that's not available going with to shop to a state dinner in which the North Koreans would fed him with food that is not available for the ordinary North Korean citizens. So I think the propaganda windfall for North Korea could be wind fall for North Korea could be quite large.
TODD: Analysts praised President Trump for trying the diplomatic rout and for meeting with Kim three times in an effort to get him to get rid of his military. But a meeting in Pyongyang with no progress having been made in nuclear talks so far they say would give Kim's regime legitimacy it has not earned, and might make the North Koreans believe that they could give nothing back get in return.
Brian Todd, CNN -- Washington.
BUTCH: And thank you for watching CNN newsroom this hour. I'm rosemary church. I will back in just a moment with another hour of news. Do stick around.