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Gains in Minnesota Could Help Boost GOP Chances in 2020; Pompeo: Saudi Oil Attacks Was Attack by Iran on the World; Talks Underway to Form New Government in Israel; Iran to Release Seized British Oil Tanker; Rare Protests Popping Up Against Egyptian Government; L.A. Judge Runs Into Fight Against Homelessness; U.S. Navy Confirms UFO Videos Are the Real Deal, Hollywood Honors TV's Biggest Stars Tonight. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired September 22, 2019 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TAPPER: Spicer could embrace a dance craze from that peninsula. Then there is this proposed show-stopper which really sums it all up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN HOST: Hey there, thanks for joining me. Thanks for joining me. I'm Martin Savidge in for Fredricka Whitfield.
Right now, President Trump is in route to Ohio to visit a factory and push his trade policies. This comes as Democrats are stepping up their calls for impeachment following a growing whistleblower scandal. The new push comes as the president faces an uproar over reports that he earned the president of Ukraine to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's son, a businessman, during a call in July.
As the White House continues to resist Democrats' demands to release a transcript of the conversation, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued this statement today to all House members saying if the administration persists in blocking the contents of the whistleblower complaint, quote, "it will be entering a grave new chapter of lawlessness," unquote.
Some Democrats in Congress now say impeachment may be their only option if the administration refuses to make the contents of that call public.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): I don't know whether the whistleblower complaint is on this allegation but if it is, and even if it isn't, why does the president just say release the whistleblower complaint? If the president is essentially withholding military aid at the same time that he is trying to brow beat a foreign leader into doing something illicit, that is providing dirt on his opponent during a presidential campaign, then that may be the only remedy that is co- equal to the evil that conduct represents. (END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: Today, the president once again defended his call with the Ukrainian leader, describing the conversation as perfect, and he denied trying to pressure the government into investigating Biden's son.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We had a great conversation. The conversation I had was largely congratulatory. Was largely corruption, all of the corruption taking place. There's largely the fact that we don't want our people like Vice President Biden and his son creating to the corruption already in the Ukraine and Ukraine -- Ukraine's got a lot of problems. The new president is saying that he's going to be able to rid the country of corruption. And I said that would be a great thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden. In fact the Ukrainian prosecutor also has clearly stated.
CNN's Boris Sanchez is in Houston where the president just departed.
And Boris, what is the administration saying about this push to release the transcript of the call?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Two really distinct messages, Martin. First from President Trump who says that he wants these transcripts release. The president at least giving the appearance of an intent toward transparency. As you said the president defended his conversation with the Ukrainian leader, though he acknowledged that he did speak about Joe Biden and his son Hunter to the Ukrainian president in that call.
We should point out the White House put out a readout of that call around the time that it took place. There was no mention of corruption or certainly not of the Biden family. On the other side of his administration, you have people like Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who are essentially saying that releasing these transcripts could set a dangerous precedent moving forward. They do not think it's a good idea. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: But with all of that being said, we had a very great conversation. Very straight. Very honest conversation. I hope they can put it out.
STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: I think that would be a terrible precedent. Conversations between world leaders are meant to be confidential. And if every time someone for political reasons raised a question and all of a sudden, those conversations were disclosed publicly, and when you disclose them to Congress, lot of times they leak into the press, then why would world leaders want to have conversations together?
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: We don't release transcripts often. It's the rare case. Those are private conversations between world leaders. It wouldn't be appropriate to do so except in the most extreme circumstances. There's no evidence that that would be appropriate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Martin, the president right now is on his way to Ohio to tour a factory with the Australian prime minister. After that, he heads to New York to take place in the week of United Nations General Assembly activities. He is scheduled to meet with the Ukrainian president while he's there -- Martin.
SAVIDGE: And I'm curious, just, Boris, what are Republicans saying about this?
SANCHEZ: Well, Martin, I got a chance to speak to Senator John Cornyn. He was here at today's event in Houston honoring Indian Prime Minister Modi and I asked Cornyn specifically if he believed that Congress should get a look at that whistleblower's complaint.
He sounded optimistic. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Whistleblower complaint, a number of Democrats have demanded access to that complaint. Do you believe it should be handed over to Congress?
SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): Well, I think we'll get access to that information in due course, but I am a little troubled that apparently some of the initial reports came from somebody who didn't have firsthand knowledge and then it sort of took off like a wildfire. A lot of speculation. I prefer to wait to get the access to the real information to make a judgment but I'm on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and I'm sure as part of our oversight responsibilities, we'll get access to the information and find out what the facts are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Now I also asked the senator if he thought it was appropriate that the president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani tried to lobby the Ukrainians himself to launch an investigation into Joe Biden and his son Hunter. The senator effectively told me he wanted to wait until all the facts were in and he did not want to speak for Rudy Giuliani -- Martin.
SAVIDGE: Boris Sanchez, in Houston, thanks very much for that.
Meantime, the Ukrainian president is remaining silent on the whistleblower complaint. He is still expected to meet with the president, as Boris mentioned, later this week when he's in New York for the U.N. General Assembly.
CNN's senior international correspondent Matthew Chance is in Ukraine for us, and Matthew, we are however hearing from the foreign minister. What's he saying about all of this?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we are. All of the Ukrainian officials that we've been speaking to have refused categorically to comment on this issue. You can almost, Martin, hear them squirm on the other end of the line when you ask them to comment about this because they feel they're in such an uncomfortable position having to be drawn into this sort of escalating political scandal in the United States. The United states, remember, is the single most important strategic ally for Ukraine. It's dependent on the U.S. for a lot of economic aid, a lot of diplomatic support and of course crucial military aid as well, in his battle against pro-Russian separatists -- Russian-backed separatists in the east of the country.
Now having said that, while the president hasn't spoken out about this, the country's foreign minister has spoken to a local television news channel and he has, you know, said something and he's chosen his words very carefully. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VADYM PRYSTAIKO, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): My president has to right to talk to another president the way this conversation remains confidential. If someone believes that our president is being put under pressure, they have to prove it. I know what the conversation was about and I think there was no pressure. There was talk. Conversations are different. Leaders have the right to discuss any problems that exist. This conversation was long, friendly and it touched on a lot of questions including those requiring serious answers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHANCE: Well, the country's foreign minister of Ukraine saying there was no pressure involved in that telephone call conversation, but I guess we won't really know until the transcripts of that telephone call are put out and at the moment, both the Americans and the Ukrainians are refusing to do that -- Martin.
SAVIDGE: Maybe we'll see if more comes out when the two presidents meet in the week.
Matthew Chance, thank you very much.
With me now to discuss this is Julian Zelizer, he is a historian and professor at Princeton University and CNN political analyst. Also with me, Ron Brownstein, who is the senior editor for the "Atlantic" and a CNN political analyst as well.
Thank you both for being here.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Hey, Martin. JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Good afternoon.
SAVIDGE: Julian, let me start with you. How concerned or maybe should the president be concerned about this new round of impeachment talk if the White House doesn't share the whistleblower complaint with Congress and if they don't make that transcript public?
ZELIZER: Well, in terms of substance, they should be very concerned. The matters we're discussing here are very problematic in terms of what the allegations are that the president did in terms of leaning on another country in order to get dirt on a political opponent and possibly, you know, dangling military aid as a result of it.
It's not clear to me the politics has changed within the House Democratic caucus. Speaker Pelosi's still going to be reluctant to move forward unless she has our 218 votes, meaning all the Democrats, and I think Democrats are still scared of a backlash, but this substance combine with the Mueller report, this is what an impeachment inquiry was made for.
SAVIDGE: Mm-hmm. And, you know, whenever we have this kind of moments come up with the president, we always wonder when will Republicans respond.
And Ron, that brings me to this. Just a short time ago, Republican Senator Mitt Romney sent out a tweet. It reads like this. "If the president asked or pressured Ukraine's president to investigate his political rival either directly or through his personal attorney, it would be troubling in the extreme critical for the facts to come out."
Now you know, we know that Mitt Romney here doesn't have a strong love relationship with the president, but still, how strong is it that he would come out and do you think other Republicans may join him?
BROWNSTEIN: Look, I think, you know, this is the first crack among Republicans who have been remarkably silent since the first allegations emerged on this. I mean, Republicans have dealt with President Trump's trampling of kind of democratic norms by essentially sweeping up the glass every time he breaks a window and I think one of the overriding lessons, and I'm using Julian's opinion of this, of his first three years, nearly three years, is it simply is not possible for one party alone to uphold democratic norms, even when they control one chamber of Congress.
The refusal of Republicans to impose any consequences for behavior that the president has undertaken that kind of pushes the boundaries of proper presidential authority including all of the questions of obstruction that are raised in the Mueller report really clearly has emboldened him to go further. And so we see kind of three separate remarkable turns at once. I mean, as Julian noted, the allegations here that he is repeatedly requesting a foreign government to dig up dirt on a potential opponent at a time when he's withholding aid, then the refusal to follow the law and share the whistleblower account with Congress, and then finally with the exception of this kind of small crack in the dent from Mitt Romney, the silence of Republicans while all of this is happening.
These are just extraordinary moments that take us deeper and deeper into this kind of unchartered waters.
ZELIZER: Sorry. I mean, I'd jump --
SAVIDGE: No, go ahead.
ZELIZER: I would respond -- I agree. I think we've talked a lot about what partisanship does to our political system and how it's created a certain kind of gridlock, but we've seen under President Trump that partisanship can also really paralyze the ability of have Congress to conduct serious oversight. And here we have a case where if it was any other president, and I was teaching my class about that president, they'd assume there were consequences from these kinds of stories and this kind of evidence, but we don't see it. And why? Because the solidity of the Republican Party and standing by the president has really constrained any action and it scared House Democrats to take any bold steps because they see Senator McConnell in the rearview mirror.
SAVIDGE: This all involves of course or sort of focuses around Joe Biden, the former vice president, and we just got new reaction from him. So let's just take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. Biden, President Trump said you did a terrible thing --
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Terrible Trump. Trump did a thing.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And he is talking more about Hunter's comments in the "New Yorker" that you did have one conversation with him about his work in Ukraine. Do you have anything additional on that?
BIDEN: Focus on the violation of the Constitution this president is engaged in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: Julian, let me ask you this. Is he sort of playing into the president's hands here?
ZELIZER: Well, everyone is. Meaning part of President Trump's strategy is to throw this story out and he's in part comfortable with having these allegations made against him because we're talking about Joe Biden and this accusation which has been discredited about his son and now Joe Biden is forced to respond to this question. And so I think the message that Biden is trying to make about focusing on the president is very hard and the president has once again muddied the water with an accusation against his character that is out there. And many people don't follow the rest of the story. SAVIDGE: Ron, real quick.
SAVIDGE: We're out of time, but as far as the vice president -- former vice president, how impactful negatively could this be for him?
BROWNSTEIN: I -- look, as Julian said, so far there's no creditability story. I mean, in fact the Ukrainian officials have denied that there's any improper influence wielded by him. President Trump is operating on the assumptions that there are no consequences for this behavior. The solidity of Republicans around him will prevent any kind of effective response by Congress and that his voters will stand with him no matter what he does because they believe there's such an existential crisis fight for the direction of the country.
But the underlying fact is that Joe Biden has led Donald Trump in what 70 polls, 14 points recently and a poll by FOX, the president's favorite network. I mean, that is the reality. Certainly it can't help Vice President Biden have these things discussed, but it only costs him if in fact there is no consequence for behavior from the president that would have been clearly out of bounds I think in an earlier administration.
SAVIDGE: And that's what we're waiting to find out.
Julian Zelizer and Ron Brownstein, thanks very much for talking to me today.
ZELIZER: Thank you.
SAVIDGE: And again, reiterating there has been no proof of any kind of involvement of either one of the Bidens in any wrongdoing.
Still ahead, a surge for Senator Elizabeth Warren -- Warren, that is. New CNN-"Des Moines Register" polling shows there's a shakeup in the Democratic presidential race. We'll have the newest numbers, next.
SAVIDGE: Senator Elizabeth Warren, she is now neck and neck with former vice president Joe Biden in the critical state of Iowa. That at least according to a new CNN-"Des Moines Register" poll that shows support for Warren surging to 22 percent compared to Biden's 20 percent. And a short time ago while speaking in Detroit, Warren responded to her performance in the poll.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't do polls. We are still months away from the Iowa caucuses and primary elections. But this is about the message that we are sick and tired of America (INAUDIBLE) for a thinner and thinner slice at the top and isn't working for anyone else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: CNN political reporter Rebecca Buck is here with me now, and she may not do polls but I got to believe that that surge is still something that her campaign is taking note of.
REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: No question about it, Martin, and this really reflects what we have seen and heard over the summer that Elizabeth Warren was on the rise. We've seen these big crowds at her events throughout the country. Not only in Iowa and these rises in various polls for Elizabeth Warren and so now we have confirmation this is the gold standard Iowa poll that she is firmly neck and neck in the top tier of this race with Joe Biden.
I want to show you a more complete picture of what this polling looks like out of Iowa. You mentioned of course Elizabeth Warren at the top here at 22 percent.
Joe Biden is at 20 percent in this Iowa poll, but if you drill down, the lead here is pretty clear. Sanders taking a big dip in this Iowa poll with 11 percent. Buttigieg and Harris behind at 9 percent and 6 percent. Still in the picture, we have Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker. And then look at the trend lines over the course of the past few months. Elizabeth Warren is the only candidate with sustained momentum in this race. Joe Biden taking a three-point dip here. Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg both sagging by a considerable amount. Five and six points respectively.
And so the real story of this race right now is the fact that Elizabeth Warren has built a movement in this race. The only candidate with sustained momentum. The question of course is going to be, can she sustain it into the fall into this key crucial point in this race. And one other interesting number I would like to show you, most voters in Iowa have still not made up their minds. And so this race is incredibly fluid. Only 20 percent say their mind is made up. That means the vast majority of Iowa Democrats here in the key end of this race leading up to the Iowa caucuses are still up for grabs. So, it's going to be quite an interesting few months ahead -- Martin.
SAVIDGE: Yes, you know, there really is a key number that you pointed out there. I want to ask you something else because I know you cover Senator Cory Booker's campaign. He had his best online fundraising day, raising more than $300,000 in 24 hours after sending an urgent fundraising plea yesterday. Let's just take a listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Right now, on so many metrics on the ground, we're running a great election to win, but we can't continue this without more support. I won't continue this unless I can look people in the eye and say we have a chance to win it and so if you believe in me, this is the time to help because without it, we shouldn't be in this race.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: OK. So he still has a long way to go to raise $1.7 million, but it appears the strategy worked, right?
BUCK: Well, so far, so good for Cory Booker in the past 24 hours, but you're right. He does have a long way to go. Still $1.4 million that his campaign says they need to raise in the next nine days. That is not a lot of time to raise that much money especially with so many candidates this race also pressuring their supporters to give them money in the final stretch of the third quarter, but it's really interesting if you look at this moment in Cory Booker's campaign, his staff feels energized at this moment.
His campaign manager pointed to yesterday as one of the most important, most exciting days in this campaign for them. They really are feeling a second wind and rallying behind this challenge. But make no mistake, this is a do or die moment for Cory Booker and they have not met this challenge just yet -- Martin.
SAVIDGE: Rebecca Buck, thanks very much for the insight.
BUCK: Thank you.
SAVIDGE: Appreciate it.
Still to come, the Trump campaign. They have dreams of turning Minnesota red. So I went there. Especially to one area where there are a lot of former Democrats saying that they're voting for Trump in 2020 and wait until you understand why.
SAVIDGE: There are signs in northern Minnesota's mining country, the politics there are beginning to shift. I traveled far to the north to Eveleth which until now has been a Democratic stronghold. I wanted to talk to people there about signs that they may be turning from blue to not just red, but Trump red.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): In rural, northern Minnesota, things are changing. The temperature, the leaves, the politics.
(On camera): Are we talking thousands of people sort of shifting and changing their politics?
MAYOR ROBERT VLAISAVLJEVICH, EVELETH, MINNESOTA: Yes. Yes. We are. Oh, yes.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Once a Democratic stronghold, many of the voters we talked to here say more and more they align with the president. JEFF FORSEEN, MOUNTAIN IRON, MINNESOTA RESIDENT: Her two brothers
were staunch union Democrats for years. And they're not anymore.
SAVIDGE: This is mining country. Not coal mining, but taconite, a mineral used in making steel. Forty, 50 years ago, the iron range as it's called was booming bringing big city prosperity to small towns like Eveleth.
VLAISAVLJEVICH: Things were just game busters. Businesses all over. Then when it crashed, everybody's gotten by surprised. It crashed and crashed hard.
SAVIDGE: The number of mining jobs in the region went from 14,000 in the '80s to just about 4500 today. Leaving families and main streets to suffer.
Robert Vlaisavljevich has been the mayor of Eveleth for 18 years on and off. He votes Democrat on state races, but he's got a Trump sticker on his desk, a Christmas card from the president on his bulletin board, and a deer on his wall sports a MAGA hat.
(On camera): The political support for the president, part of this is really just a matter of survival.
VLAISAVLJEVICH: Economics. Yes. That's -- he's our guy. He supports mining. He's our guy.
TRUMP: Our steel industry is vibrant again. It was dead.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Trump's tariffs on imported steel are popular so is his easing of environmental regulations. They also like his crackdown on immigration. In a state that's 80 percent white, the influx of Somali refugees has been a contentious issue. Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar is controversial figure here.
VLAISAVLJEVICH: She offends a lot of people.
SAVIDGE (on camera): She's not popular here.
VLAISAVLJEVICH: No, not at all.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Folks here say they didn't leave the Democratic Party. The party left them. Melissa Axelson's husband works for a mining company.
MELISSA AXELSON, EVELETH RESIDENT: I think they've changed. I see conservative candidates seem to be more for the working person.
MIKE VOLKER, EVELETH RESIDENT: The Democrats kind of shifted more to the left and the Republicans are kind of taken over party for jobs.
SAVIDGE: All this matters because in 2016, Trump barely lost Minnesota by just 44,000 votes. Political experts say gains in places like the Iron Range could help boost the GOP's prospects in the state in 2020. CINDY RUPELEY, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, UNIVERSITY OF
MINNESOTA DULUTH: I don't think by any means this is a walkdown Democratic state than it used to be.
SAVIDGE (on camera): Cindy, do you think that this area could flip the state? In other words, do you think this area could be key to the president's win if he wins?
CINDY FORSEEN, MOUNTAIN IRON, MINNESOTA RESIDENT: I do if we keep pushing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Supporters say they'd like to see the president plan some campaign rallies in the region believing that in Minnesota's mining country when it comes to votes President Trump could strike gold.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN HOST: To give you more of an idea of the political shift taking place there, district aide which incorporates the RM (ph) range helped propel Barack Obama to the White House in 2008. Eight years later, Donald Trump won the same district by 16 percentage points.
Next, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo targets Iran with some of his toughest rhetoric. Yet, why he says an attack on the Saudis was an attack on the world.
SAVIDGE: Happening right now, talks are going on in Israel as that country struggles to form a new government. Long time Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu forced to snap election after he couldn't get a majority in a vote earlier this year. But that move actually cost him some seats. And his rival, Benny Gantz, could end up as the new prime minister. Oren Liebermann is in Jerusalem for us.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's nearly a week now since the elections and Israel's political situation is no better now than it was before. The country now seems certain to remain in the same political deadlock that led to these elections in the first place.
On Sunday afternoon, Israel's President Reuven Rivlin began meeting with the political parties to see who they recommended to lead the country. Blue and White recommended their leader, Benny Gantz; while Likud recommended Benjamin Netanyahu. No surprises there.
But then it came to the kingmaker, former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. He has only eight seats. But those seats are crucial for whoever wants to form a government and he said nothing.
He made no recommendation to the president on who should be the next leader of the country. And that means both Gantz and Netanyahu will almost certainly fall short of the seats required to form a government.
One other thing worth noting, the joint list of Arab parties made an historic move recommending Gantz, the Arab parties normally making no recommendation. In fact, the only other time they recommended a leader was in 1992 when they threw their support behind Yitzhak Rabin who campaigned on a platform of peace with the Palestinians.
Here, the joint list said they would support Gantz in order to oust Netanyahu. Israel's president continues his meeting with the smaller parties on Monday morning, but it's not expected there will be anything to break the political deadlock here. And that means the burden changing this falls right now on President Reuven Rivlin. Oren Liebermann, CCN, Jerusalem.
SAVIDGE: Thanks, Oren.
Now, to some developing news. Iran is expected to release a British oil tanker that it seized back in July. British authorities had previously seized an Iranian oil tanker they said was illegally delivering oil to Syria. Tensions have been rising since the U.S. blamed Iran for the recent attack on a key Saudi oil facility. And just today, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated those accusations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: This was an attack by Iran on the world. This was an act of war and here at the U.N.
MARGARET BRENNAN, CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Okay, because the president hasn't been that specific and other countries haven't either.
POMPEO: The U.N. -- the U.N.'s primary charter is to prevent state on state...
BRENNAN: And Saudi Arabia hasn't either.
POMPEO: The U.N.'s primary charter is to protect piece around the world. This was a state on state act of war.
BRENNAN: But they haven't given any evidence that have said that it was launched from Iran.
POMPEO: We know where the attack. Look, I don't know why anybody listens the Iranian foreign minister. He has nothing to do with Iranian foreign policy. And he's lied for decades. And then he resigned. It's just -- it's not even worth -- it's not even worth responding to him.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
SAVIDGE: All right. I want to bring in Susan Glasser. She is a staff writer at "The New Yorker" and a CNN Global Affairs analyst. Nice so see you.
SUSAN GLASSER, STAFF WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: Thank you.
SAVIDGE: Is there any hope of a breakthrough when President Trump and President Rouhani attend the general -- U.N. general assembly this week?
GLASSER: Well, let's just say that that attack on the Saudi oil facility, whether it's definitely proven to have been an Iranian attack or not, it seems to have really reduced the possibility of an actual meeting between Rouhani and Trump, which was a real possibility up until then, I believe. President Trump had signaled that he was interest in coming to the table with negotiations.
But instead, Iran appears to have chosen a course of really testing the Trump Administration. And I think the result is that you've seen some real disagreements inside the Trump Administration go public over whether or not they should even talk with the Iranian. So, I don't think anybody is hopeful that peace is suddenly going to break out.
SAVIDGE: This news that we just reported that Iran's expected to release that British oil tanker. In any way, could that be seen as an overture of some kind?
GLASSER: Sure, absolutely, you know. But of course, it comes in the context of an overall ratcheting up of pressure and provocative incidents in the gulf. And all of this - the big picture context here of course is President Trump's decision to unilaterally withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement a little bit more than a year ago.
And, you know, what's striking is that the Trump Administration doesn't seem, even now, to be speaking with one voice about what they expected to happen as a result of that withdrawal. And now that Iran has been testing them, essentially responding to Trump's decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal, it's not entirely clear that the Trump Administration had a plan for what to do with a relatively predictable set of responses by Iran.
SAVIDGE: In response to the attack on the Saudis, which the U.S. is blaming Iran for, the U.S. has added additional sanctions on top of those already existed. I believe it's actually maxed out on the sanctions now targeting its Central Bank.
So what happens the next time there's some kind of an infraction? What other tools does the U.S. have left other than military action?
GLASSER: Well again, that's why I keep coming back to and spotlighting this internal war within the Republican Party over the question of what to do about Iran in response to these. You actually see very close allies of President Trump like Lindsey Graham, hawk on Capitol Hill like Liz Cheney arguing publicly essentially that a the administration has encouraged this behavior by Iran by appearing to be weak. And remember, President Trump, not that long ago, pulled back at the very last minute from a military response to a previous provocation by the Iranians. This was a huge part of his rift, I think, with John Bolton, the National Security Adviser he recently parted ways with.
And I think that it shows you that the administration might not have a lot more tools for dealing with the Iranians, especially because Trump himself has personally signaled multiple times that he desires to have negotiations directly with the Iranians, potentially undercutting the more aggressive and muscular rhetoric coming from Mike Pompeo and other would be hawks in the administration.
So again, it's so confusing. And I think this -- the context here really is a big set of blows to President Trump's Mideast policy such as it is. We're confused about what it is. People in the region are confused. And he has not spoke in a clear cut and strong way exerting American leadership recently.
SAVIDGE: All right. And speaking of that, let's bring in another place where there is conflict and that's Egypt. There are protests against President Sisi there again this weekend. It's a pretty rare occurrence. President Trump has repeatedly praised Sisi's rule despite accusations of very heavy-handed rule by that regime.
How critical is Egypt as a U.S. ally right now?
GLASSER: You know, Egypt historically, of course, has been a centerpiece of American policy. And President Trump hasn't just praised Sisi. He called him my favorite dictator recently. And maybe that was tongue in cheek. Maybe it wasn't. But obviously to those people in the streets of Egypt, it wasn't.
And it's a remarkable act of defiance for them to be protesting this way. Hundreds have been arrested in six years of his rule. It's been such a tough crackdown and such a tough military dictatorship that he's led. And in many ways, it's stronger than the final period of the Mubarak dictatorship that was brought down in the early days of the Arab spring.
And, you know -- so, in recent years essentially, Egypt has become more inward looking arguably, right, as it has faced the street revolution and then Muslim brotherhood rule and then Sisi essentially reconsolidating power. And so, you know, essentially, U.S. has pivoted and really made twin pillars of its Middle East policy in Israel and then with the Saudis once again.
GLASSER: And so that's why you see this sort of obsession with what happened with the Saudi oil facilities. I think Egypt is really concerned with regime stability essentially. And I'm just amazed at the courage and bravery of those young people in the streets.
SAVIDGE: Susan Glasser, we're always, always grateful to have your input and your expertise. Thank you.
GLASSER: Thank you.
SAVIDGE: Much more ahead on the "Newsroom". But first, this week's "CNN Hero" hails from Los Angeles where officials report the number of adults living in the streets is up 16%. Three times a week, Superior Court Judge Craig Mitchell wakes up at 3:30 a.m. with a unique strategy to deal with that problem.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRAIG MITCHELL, LOS ANGELES COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT JUDGE: Running is a mechanism for the participants to build relationships. This is the one time I'm at the front of the pack. Lawyers, social workers, people from all different walks of life running with people who are recovering from addiction and homelessness.
Good job. We affirm. We listen. We support. It shows what open-minded people who really care about each other how they can treat one another and it's a lesson in and of itself.
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SAVIDGE: To learn more, go to cnnheroes.com right now.
SAVIDGE: Now to a story that made headlines in this world and maybe in others. The U.S. Navy admitting that footage purportedly showing UFOs hurdling through the air are in fact the real deal. CNN's Randi Kaye has that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible).
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Images of that rotating thing captured by U.S. Navy aircraft, sensors locking in on the target. Commander David Fravor saw it firsthand during a training mission describing it like a 40-foot long tick tack maneuvering rapidly and changing direction.
COMMANDER DAVID FRAVOR, U.S. NAVY PILOT (Ret.): As we both looked out the right side of our airplane, we saw a disturbance in the water and a white object, oblong, pointing north.
KAYE: The object was first sighted in 2004, then similar objects again in 2015. Footage of the sightings, declassified by the military, weren't made public until December 2017 by "The New York Times" and a group that researches UFOs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a whole fleet of them (inaudible). My gosh. Now going against the wind. The wind's 120 miles to the west. (Inaudible).
FRAVOR: This was extremely abrupt like a ping-pong ball bouncing off the wall, the ability to hover over the water and then start a vertical climb from basically zero up towards about 12,000 feet and then accelerate in less than two seconds and disappear is something I had never seen in my life.
KAYE: The navy says it still doesn't know what the objects are and officials aren't speculating. A navy spokesmen simply confirming to CNN the object seen in various clips are unidentified aerial phenomena or UAPs.
The UFO reports were first investigated by a secret, $22 million program, part of the Defense Department budget that investigated reports of UFOs. The program has since been shut down. But it was run by a military intelligence official who told CNN they found compelling evidence that we quote, may not be alone. Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
SAVIDGE: Well, tonight's the night television's bright stars will be honored for their work on the small screen. Coming up, what to expect at the prime-time Emmy Awards.
SAVIDGE: The stars are just hours away from coming out and walking the purple carpet -- yes, there's nothing wrong with your TV -- for the big-time, prime-time Emmy Awards tonight. CNN Stephanie Elam is live in L.A. with the preview of tonight's ceremony which, by the way, there's no host, right, Stephanie?
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No host, purple carpet, just trying to make sure you're paying attention, Marty, tonight. But yes, you're right. The reason why the carpet is purple is because, well, this is TV royalty that's going to be walking down this carpet here in a bit.
And there is no host. And think about it, we saw that the Oscars earlier this year did not have a host and it worked out for them.
Mainly, when you see these shows, they have someone in mind that they want to showcase from their network. Well, Fox doesn't have a late night show. They don't have anyone there. So maybe that's why they decided this would be a good way for them to go. But it allows the actors, the directors, the shows to really be the stars tonight. And one show that really fits that category tonight is "Game of Thrones".
Now, if you didn't watch it, you know that pretty much everybody else was watching it. You know that there was massive production value as well. And this is the final season of the dragons, the mother of dragons, all of that. And so, because of that, a lot of people are expecting it to win. It has the most nominations ever in Emmy history for this show. So, that's going to be the jogging (ph) off for other shows to beat. On the comedy side, you want to take a look at a show like "Fleabag", which kind is a sleeper. A lot of people didn't know about it. And they called on it and they loved it. It stars Phoebe Waller-Bridge. She's also one of the creators of the show "Killing Eve" that people liked. So people are keeping their eyes on her as well. But obviously, we'll have to wait for the show to get started to find out who these true winners are going to be tonight, Marty.
SAVIDGE: Stephanie Elam, thank you so much for that preview. And thank you so much for joining me. I'm Martin Savidge. CNN's Newsroom is going to continue now with Alex Marquardt right after this short break. Have a great rest of your day.