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Hala Gorani Tonight
Iran Vows Response To Soleimani Death; Saudi Arabian Defense Minister To Meet With Pompeo To De-escalate Iranian Situation; John Bolton Willing To Testify In Senate Impeachment Trial; Crisis Deepens As Iran Mourns Killing Of Top Commander; Future Of U.S. Military Presence In Iraq In Limbo; Uncontrolled Fires Kill 24 People In Australia; Harvey Weinstein On Trial On Sex Assault Charges. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired January 06, 2020 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone. Live from CNN London, I'm Hala Gorani.
Tonight, a special extended edition of the show. We'll look at the enormous outpouring of emotion inside Iran at the funeral for the country's
top general and the fallout from his killing by the United States.
The world watched today as Ayatollah Khomeini wept. But how will Tehran retaliate and what is the Trump administration's strategy?
It's also a big day in New York as former movie executive Harvey Weinstein goes on trial to face charges of rape and sexual assault. We'll have a
live report from Manhattan.
As the dust settles, the crisis only deepens over the United States' targeted killing of Iran's top military commander. We begin with that
massive display of grief and outrage on the streets of Tehran.
The funeral procession for Qasem Soleimani is now making its way through Qom, one of the country's holiest sites. Soleimani is revered as a hero by
many at home, and those people in the crowds, some of them are vowing revenge.
The world, of course, is on edge. We are waiting to see how Iran responds to the drone strike in Baghdad that killed Soleimani, but we're already
seeing repercussions from new demands for the U.S. to leave Iraq, to Iran's new blow against an international nuclear deal.
We have correspondents all over the region, covering this story for you. I want to start with Fred Pleitgen in Tehran, where mourners filled the
streets today as far as the eye could see. Take a look.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fury and threats as Iranians mourn their top general, Qasem Soleimani.
Hundreds of thousands lined the streets of Tehran, weeping, chanting, vowing retribution.
PLEITGEN: There's a great deal of anger, here on the streets of Tehran, as many, many people have come out here to pay their final respects to the
body of Qasem Soleimani and the others who were killed in that American airstrike.
Of course there's a lot of grief, but also a lot of anger at the United States and specifically at President Trump and the Trump administration.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All Iranians says down with Trump, down with U.S. government. We don't hate American people, European people. But we hate
the policies that they follow.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): Many of those in the crowd, saying they want Iran to hit back at the U.S. as they yelled, "Death to America."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: General Soleimani was a hero. He was the only shield against ISIS here, and now, as our leaders today (inaudible) said, you will
see a rough revenge.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of us want a hard revenge. And all of us said, (SPEAKING IN ARABIC)
PLEITGEN (voice-over): The Trump administration says Qasem Soleimani was planning attacks against American interests in the Middle East, but haven't
shown any evidence of that threat. Also, President Trump, warning Iran not to retaliate after the targeted killing.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If Americans anywhere are threatened, we have all of those targets already fully identified and I am
ready and prepared to take whatever action is necessary.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): Iran's leadership hailed Soleimani, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei praying at his coffin. And Soleimani's replacement, vowing to
kick America out of the Middle East.
ESMAIL QAANI, QUDS COMMANDER (through translator): We will continue Soleimani's path. We will remove the U.S. from the region in several
steps. The supreme leader backs this.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): Iran's leadership continues to say it does not want a full-on war with the U.S., but says revenge for Soleimani's death is not
a question of if, but of when.
GORANI: OK. So that -- all right. Fred joins us now, live from Tehran with more. And the big question, now, of course -- and I posed it at the
top of the hour -- is what is likely to be Tehran's response to the killing of Soleimani?
PLEITGEN: Hi there, Hala. Well, the Iranians so far are saying there's definitely going to be a response. I was asking one of the top advisors to
Iran's supreme leader just yesterday, exactly what that response is going to be.
He said, look, I'm obviously not going to tell you exactly what we're going to do. But what he did say is that there's definitely going to be a
military response, as he said. There's definitely going to be a military response against military sites, he also said. But he also said that he
didn't want -- and that Iran doesn't want -- a full-fledged war with the United States.
So the Iranians are saying they are going to strike back, but they do want to end things after that and not have things lead to a catastrophic war
between these two nations, which of course would have humungous consequences, no doubt, for the entire greater Middle Eastern region.
One of the other interesting things that he also said to me is, he said, look, Qasem Soleimani obviously was an extremely important general for the
Iranians. However, he also said that the Quds Force, the foreign operation wing of the Revolutionary Guard, would not miss a beat. You already saw the
replacement of Qasem Soleimani there, in power already, in office already and already saying that their operations are not going to be deterred and
they are going to continue to do what they have been doing in the past.
So the Iranians, at this point, at least talking very boldly. What exactly they're going to do, they haven't said. And what's more important, I think
-- or exactly as important, Hala, is also a time frame is not something that we know at this point in time.
GORANI: Fred Pleitgen, our senior international correspondent, in Tehran.
Iraq's government is trying to distance itself from an escalating proxy war between the U.S. and Iran that is happening on its territory. Just a short
time ago, Iraq's prime minister met with the U.S. ambassador in Baghdad, stressing the need for joint action to begin the withdrawal of U.S. troops.
That's after Shia parliament members passed a resolution to end all foreign military presence in the country.
Now, what's important to underline here is that this resolution is not yet binding. The prime minister has to decide to enact it, and most members of
Iraq's other factions sat out the vote. The U.S. president says if American troops are forced out, he will charge Iraq sanctions like they've,
quote, "never seen before, ever."
Let's talk about all this with our team in Washington. Stephen Collinson is there, and Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon. So, Barbara, I want to
start with you. And, first of all, with this Donald Trump tweet, threatening cultural sites in Iran, which of course international law
experts say would amount -- if you do strike some of these cultural sites - - to potentially a war crime. What is the Pentagon reaction to this? What are you hearing from your sources there?
TEXT: Donald J. Trump: -- targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level
and important to Iran and the Iranian culture. And those targets, and Iran itself, will be hit very fast and very hard. The USA wants no more
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's no official Pentagon reaction. But officials here, clearly, behind the scenes, are
saying they will continue to obey that international law, U.S. national security laws. And that means they will not be striking cultural sites.
Now, I think one caveat on this. If some of these cultural sites were to be converted into military sites by placing weaponry there or engaging in
military action -- we've seen this in the past in Afghanistan, in places like Iraq -- that could change a calculation potentially. But officials
are saying they've not seen any such thing. I think it's really fair to say they are making clear that the U.S. military will continue to obey the
GORANI: All right. And the political impact, here, Stephen, there's not a lot of daylight, once again, between Republicans and the president, even on
some of the most surprising tweets and threats?
STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right, Hala. And I think we've been conditioned to expect that. There is a growing debate in
Congress about whether the Democrats will try to curtail the president's capacity, authority to act against Iran for longer than a 30-day period. I
would watch out for debates in the House on that this week, and potentially in the Senate as well.
Effectively, of course, Republicans and Democrats, ever since 9/11, have acquiesced in the expansion of presidential power and the ability to wage
war, often without going to Congress, which officially, under the Constitution, has the power to declare war.
So I don't think that effectively the Congress will be able to stop President Trump if he chooses to escalate this conflict step by step. And
anything other than a formal declaration of war or invasion of Iraq -- Iran, which of course is very unlikely -- but it gives you a sense about
the temperature in the country.
I think that the Iran escalation is something that's broken through in American society, in many ways, in a way in which some of President Trump's
other foreign escapades haven't. There was great alarm over the weekend among people who are worried this could lead the United States into another
war. And the political trend in the United States, the desire to get troops back from endless Middle Eastern wars, is very powerful.
GORANI: Got it.
And, Barbara, in "The New York Times," there was a report that top military officials actually presented a host of options to the president and he
chose -- according to this report anyway -- the most extreme one, which was the killing of Soleimani. Was there really an effort to try to sort of
avoid that scenario?
STARR: I don't know that there was so much. I mean, there's been a lot of chatter about this. But the fact is, when a secretary of defense or
chairman of the Joint Chiefs goes to any president of the United States with options, you typically sort of see what people describe as a low,
medium and high option: minimal action, middle of the road action, and higher-level action.
But what you don't see is the military suggest an option it's not prepared to carry out. So this would not have been a surprise, they would not have
put it on the table, if you will, if it wasn't that they were prepared for President Trump to select it, and then prepared to carry it out.
GORANI: All right. Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, Stephen Collinson in Washington.
Let's talk more about how the conflict could impact the Middle East and indeed the entire world. Clarissa Ward, our chief international
correspondent, is with me now. So is Lina Khatib, she's the head of the Middle East and North Africa program at Chatham House in London. Thanks
for joining us, both.
Clarissa, we were talking about potential responses from Iran, and it can't be symmetrical, obviously, because of the military might of the United
States. Potentially it could be some sort of asymmetrical strike or series of strikes. What form could that take?
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think precisely what has got so many people so anxious about this situation is that there
are so many different options --
WARD: -- and it is so difficult to gauge what direction Iran is going to go in. So, yes, it does look like it will be asymmetrical. Any kind of
all-out war that could potentially develop between the U.S. and Iran is not going to look like the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, fought in trenches.
WARD: Warfare has changed a lot, so what you could be looking at is targeting shipping, targeting civilian personnel, targeting military
GORANI (?): And they've done that.
WARD: And they have done that.
WARD: They can use proxies, not just in Iraq, as we've mentioned, in Syria, in Lebanon; also, they have proxies with the Houthis in Yemen, in
Afghanistan. So Iran's tentacles are far-reaching.
They also don't have to attack the U.S. directly, they can attack U.S. allies, they could --
WARD: -- look at an attack on Israel, they could look at an attack on Saudi Arabia, which is perhaps why we're seeing Saudi Arabia desperately
trying to now walk this situation back.
And so for that reason, because there is an enormous amount of options available to them, it makes it that much more difficult to know what course
they're going to go with.
GORANI: And, Lina, what are your thoughts on this? What avenue do you think they'll take?
LINA KHATIB, HEAD OF MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA PROGRAMME, CHATHAM HOUSE: I think they're --
GORANI: Because they have to do something, right? Vis-a-vis their own people.
KHATIB: Well, not necessarily, not necessarily.
KHATIB: I mean, if you think of previous incidents in which Iran lost high-level officials like the 2008 assassination of Imad Mughniyeh, who was
a high-level Hezbollah official, they threatened retaliation but nothing happened. Same with the killing of Mughniyeh's son, who was also an
officer, killed in Syria a few years ago, also a lot of threats but not a lot of action on the ground.
I think, actually, Iran might wait it out a little bit and play the long game instead of the short military retaliation game.
GORANI: And we were talking also about Saudi Arabia. You just mentioned that, that obviously their archnemesis is Iran and the Iranian regime, but
even they are saying we need to just kind of de-escalate a little bit.
WARD: And I think that gives you a sense, just to the level of tensions in the region. You would expect for Saudi Arabia to be jubilant that someone
like Qasem Soleimani, a towering figure in Iran, is taken out by the U.S. military in this kind of very public manner.
The very fact that they are now sending the defense minister to London, but also to Washington to say, listen, let's try to de-escalate the situation,
gives you a sense of how concerned people are that it's spiraling very quickly out of control. And how concerned, I think, as well, people are
that there's no one really in the driver's seat on this one, saying, listen, this is the strategy. I may be doing --
WARD: -- I may be acting tough here, but I've thought this out, I'm four chess moves ahead on the --
WARD: -- board and we know what we're doing. There's a sense and fear from some people that this is kind of shoot-from-the-hip, a little bit
impulsive and it's quickly spiraling to a point where they can't rein it back.
GORANI: Where does this leave Iraq? This happened on its territory. Just to put it in context, Iraq has been going through a lot of turmoil. Its
citizens have rightfully asked for a more transparent government with less corruption, but you have all these militia groups and factions fighting it
out, and now entire sort of national interests duking it out on their territory.
KHATIB: Yes, absolutely. I mean, in Iraq, anti-American sentiment had been stirring for a while, for more than a year, driven primarily by pro-
Iranian groups like the Popular Mobilization Forces and political actors who are loyal to Iran. They were trying to push for a measure to kick
American troops out.
And now, with the killing of Soleimani, as we saw in the parliament yesterday, they got it. They got their, basically, excuse to say this is
why we need the Americans out. But it's not going to be so straightforward.
However, what was interesting to look at yesterday is to see Shia political parties that used to be rivals, now uniting under the Iran banner. Even
someone like Muqtada al-Sadr who had won lots of seats in the last election in Iraq on the basis of standing up to Iranian pressure, is now in the
And these forces are using the killing of Soleimani in Iraq as an opportunity to consolidate their own power internally. So what's happening
in Iraq is, I think, very much politically significant.
GORANI: Yes. And -- but it's interesting because this killing might in fact go against the best interests of the United States. And it seems
like, over the last 10, 15 years, the United States' actions have kind of boomeranged against it. In this particular case, it is giving more energy
to the anti-U.S. movements inside of Iran.
WARD: Absolutely. And, I mean, you know, you heard from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He said, listen, this -- Americans are safer as a
result of this. To anyone watching these events transpiring on the ground, it's very difficult to see how that's possible.
The other thing that the U.S. has been clear about is that it would love to see regime change in Iran, that it believes that its pressure -- maximum
pressure policy is gaining some traction.
But the reality is, in Iran, you talk to reformers who have no love for the supreme leader or for the government of Hassan Rouhani: even they, right
now, are increasingly united in this sense of outrage about what has happened. So if that was the goal, it may well backfire on them.
GORANI: Nothing like a common enemy. And, by the way, Mike Pompeo, the U.S. secretary of state, was unhappy with European reaction. Europeans, he
said, didn't help, much, the United States in this strike, and by backing this strategy. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: Frankly, the Europeans haven't been as helpful as I wished that they could be. The Brits, the French, the Germans
all need to understand that what we did, what the Americans did saved lives in Europe as well. Qasem Soleimani led -- and his IRGC led assassination
campaigns in Europe.
This was a good thing for the entire world, and we are urging everyone in the world to get behind what the United States is trying to do, to get the
Islamic Republic of Iran to simply behave like a normal nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, I don't think it surprised many people that France, Germany and the U.K., who are big backers, still, of the Iran nuclear deal, would
not go on board with the United States on this particular --
KHATIB: And this is a needed role. We need a separate track from that of the United States to play a de-escalating role. It's not just about the
nuclear deal --
KHATIB: -- it's broader. I think the U.S. is, not surprisingly, calling on its allies to express more support. But the reality is, this is very
much a fight between Iran and the United States, and I think Europeans are right to try to take a step back and not get too involved because someone
needs to play that de-escalating role.
GORANI: Lina Khatib and Clarissa Ward, thanks very much to both of you. Fascinating discussion.
A lot more to come tonight. The American secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, is meeting with a key ally as tensions mount with Iran. We were talking
about Saudi Arabia, and we'll have its message for Washington coming up, next.
Plus, one of President Trump's former advisors drops a bombshell that could alter the outcome of the impeachment trial. We'll be right back.
GORANI: Senior Saudi officials are in Washington today, urging caution as they discuss the mounting tensions between the U.S. and Iran. The Saudi
deputy defense minister started a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last hour. We'll bring you the latest once we learn what was
A Saudi government source says the kingdom is concerned about escalating, quote, "chaos" in the region. On Wednesday, Pompeo and other senior U.S.
officials are expected to brief senators on Iran.
Nic Robertson is in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia with more. What is Saudi Arabia hoping to achieve? Because for the entirety of the Trump administration,
they have sounded supportive of the idea of striking Iran. Now that the tensions are reaching fever pitch, they seem to be wanting to convince the
United States to put the brakes on. Why?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes. I think the Saudi message here has been that they wanted the United States to stand up
to Iran because, like the United States, they believe that Iran has been, you know, reaching beyond its borders, using proxies for acts of terrorism
and destabilizing the region. So they're in lockstep with the United States on that.
If you look at that attack on Saudi Arabia, back in September, on the two oil processing facilities, the Saudis firmly believed Iran was responsible
for that, but didn't go full-bore and make strong public statements. They brought in international investigators who backed their findings. Bottom
line there was they didn't want to bring a further escalation to conflict.
And this is their message now. They're going to be going to -- or they are already, they -- Khalid bin Salman, the deputy defense minister, brother of
the crown prince and the third-most powerful man in the country, really, and the message is going to be to de-escalate the tension here, to reduce
the possibility of an escalation of the conflict.
And the message is going to be delivered in this sort of way, that, you know, they're living here in this region, they've been targets for the
Iranians before, they believe that they could be targets again. They don't want to be, and they think it would be counterproductive if chaos was to
return to the region in the form of a war.
So it's really the message that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is going to receive here is one that's going to seek to calm the situation down. And
that's the overriding message in Saudi Arabia at the moment, just calm the situation down and hope that you can influence enough of the players in the
region not to escalate it, and also to be ready if something were to happen.
GORANI: And so what does Saudi Arabia want, then? I mean, what is its best-case scenario here, if it wants this tension -- the tension to be
lowered in the region, what does it want the United States to do at this stage?
ROBERTSON: You know, I think it would like to see the status quo in the region, inasmuch as the United States plays a leading role leading a
coalition against ISIS, maintaining its presence in Iraq and in Syria, stabilizing -- they want to see that as a stabilizing presence in the
region. I think there's certainly a sense that, you know, some of President Trump's tweets are not going to serve the purpose of calming the
situation down, but they support President Trump.
As they say, you know, whoever's going to be the president in the United States, they're going to support that person because the United States is
an ally, it's the most powerful country in the world and it brings stability to the region, and that's what they would like to see, that's
their best-case scenario down the road.
And that does require, in their view, Iran changing its tactics over the past number of years, of trying to expand its interests into Iraq, into
Syria, as they have done with Hezbollah, Hamas as well influencing them. That's the Saudi belief as well.
So they want to see Iran focus on staying within its own borders, and how that can be achieved. You know, the assessment here at the moment is --
ROBERTSON: -- the ball really is in Iran's court. Iran has made statements about the nuclear deal, Iran has made statements about taking
revenge for the killing of Qasem Soleimani. The Saudis see this as what Iran does next is going to be scrutinized carefully by the international
community, you know, who are already predisposed to seeing some of its actions, and are not impressed by some of those actions.
The Saudis --
ROBERTSON: -- don't want to be involved in escalating trouble and being in any way seen as part of the problem here. They'd like to be seen as part
of the solution.
GORANI: OK, interesting. It was only a few months ago that the petroleum sites in Saudi Arabia were struck. So much tension and instability right
now, and questions, of course, going forward as to how Iran will respond. Thank you. Nic Robertson is live in Riyadh.
Now, to a dramatic development -- or I should say, a potentially dramatic development in U.S. President Donald Trump's impeachment trial. Former
U.S. national security advisor John Bolton issued a statement a short time ago, saying he is now willing to testify in the Senate trial if he is
Bolton could be a critical witness since he has potential knowledge of President Trump's actions and conversations surrounding Ukraine. Bolton's
statement could put new pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to allow witnesses in the Senate trial, which Democratic leaders have been
Let's get more on this big turn of events. Let's bring in CNN's Jeff Zeleny. He joins me now, live from Washington, from Capitol Hill. So,
Jeff, how likely is it, then, that we will hear from John Bolton in the course of this upcoming trial, whenever it may be?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, that is very much an open question. It first is a big moment, a big development, that John
Bolton says he is willing to testify. But that does not mean he is going to testify. The rules are largely in the hands of Senate Majority Leader
Mitch McConnell, of course a Republican who is working very closely with the White House, managing this entire proceeding here.
But it is significant that John Bolton says, look, I am prepared to tell what I know. And what he knows is in fact a great deal. He would be the
highest-ranking administration official who had firsthand knowledge, was directly in the Oval Office when these discussions about the military aid
were being made.
So this is something that, you know, we've been wondering what John Bolton is thinking, he didn't tell us what he's thinking necessarily or what
information he has, but he said he's willing to share it.
But the senators are just coming back to Washington this afternoon here. We still do not know the timing of the impeachment proceedings. House
Speaker Nancy Pelosi still has not brought over those official articles of impeachment, so we are several days at a very least, perhaps much more,
before this actual trial begins.
But this is what it would take. It would take 51 senators only to issue a subpoena. That means, you know, essentially if one Republican or two
Republicans vote for a subpoena, that would mean that John Bolton would testify at some point. So this is very much still a developing story.
But the fact that John Bolton wants to say something is significant. So even if he doesn't testify in the Senate, at some point surely he will
share what he knows: in an interview, perhaps writing a book or something himself.
ZELENY: So this is the first crack in the armor, if you will, with John Bolton and the White House. But we do not know if he actually will testify
as part of this impeachment proceeding.
GORANI: All right. Jeff Zeleny, thanks very much.
Still to come tonight, we'll return to the escalating crisis between the U.S. and Iran and the major impact it could have on the global economy.
Also, one of the most closely watched trials of the #MeToo era is under way finally. Harvey Weinstein appears in court on sexual assault charges.
We'll be right back.
GORANI: Updating our top story. Iran is mourning its top military commander killed in an American drone strike as cries of revenge fill the
streets of Tehran. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: On state television, it was said millions of people turned out for the funeral procession of Qasem Soleimani. His coffin is now in the city
of Qom, ahead of burial in his hometown of Kerman in Iran.
Now, the United States, the Trump administration, is defending the killing, claiming Soleimani was planning a, quote, imminent attack that put American
lives at risk.
Now, the entire region, if not the world, is on edge waiting to see how Iran responds. And there are some also asking to see evidence that there
was, in fact, an imminent attack planned. Was this killing justified is the question being asked. Even inside of Washington D.C. among Democrats.
We want to look at how these escalating tensions are impacting the markets and the global economy. Let's bring in CNN's Richard Quest in Beirut.
So, Richard, the most obvious impact when something happens in that part of the world, and the most immediate one is usually on the price of oil. What
has it done?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, initially, of course, we did see that three, four percent spike in oil. And today, it's up a
quarter to half a percent. So it is controlled in that sense. Gold is also up quite sharply. All the safe havens, the U.S. treasury, the 10-year
Hala, what's happening, of course, is wait and see. Yes, certainly oil has borne the brunt of the game. But you've got to look at the economic
picture before all of this. You've got central banks printing money, you've got a relatively benign relationship at the moment with trade. At
least, it doesn't look like the U.S./China trade war is getting worse at the moment.
So things were primed to get much better at the beginning of 2020. But now, of course, everything is on the edge, and that's what it is, Hala.
Things -- in the absence of further developments, markets will not react.
However, the precipice is so big that if something was done by Iran that did threaten the world's oil supply or threaten to escalate this dispute,
this war, this -- the disagreement into something much larger, then you're going to see really serious dislocations in markets, Hala.
GORANI: But I mean, what do the markets need to be scared and spooked? Here, we have basically a targeted killing on foreign soil by the United
States of the top military commander of Iran. And this comes only a few months after we're not sure who, but it was thought Iranian proxies
attacked the Saudi Aramco oil facilities, that was in September of last year.
This is ratcheting up very quickly. And yet, the increase, you talk of a quarter percent to half a percent in the price of oil, is mild. Why?
QUEST: That's exactly the problem at the moment. The markets will react in a disproportionate or have, so far, to not appear to reacted very
strongly, which leads one to be extremely concerned that if something did happen, that would, A, cause worries over oil price supply or, B, the
Strait of Hurmuz would not only with oil, but also with trade and traffic between Europe, the United States, and Asia going eastbound an Atlantic
way, then yes, you would see that, and that's when you would start to see a much more proportionate, if you like, much more extreme reaction to what's
I would say, at the moment, contained, wait and see, post-holiday, whatever you want to say, but it is absolutely on a precipice if this thing gets
GORANI: And throughout the region, I mean, economies in the region, in the post-Arab spring era, and now with all these increased stability and the
refugee flows coming out of Syria, I mean, the economies of this region are in utter disaster, and even rich economies are suffering, for instance,
among the gulf states.
This feeds further political instability. I mean, it's hard to see what could change this at this stage.
QUEST: That's very little that could change at this stage. You're exactly on point with this. The economies are not in a good state. Wherever you
look, there are regional tensions. Whether it is the Saudi-led coalition against Qatar, whether it is Syria, whether it is here in Lebanon and the
factional disputes here, throwing Iran and Iraq, there is not one part of this world -- there is not one part of the world at the moment -- where one
could -- this part of the world, where one could say there's any form of peace, quiet, and economic stability.
GORANI: And Saudi Arabia, as we were reporting, sending a delegation to Washington, trying to convince the United States to maybe deescalate in
Thanks very much, Richard Quest is live in Beirut.
Iran has announced it will no longer be abiding by the deal known as the JCPOA. The agreement limiting Iran's nuclear weapons program was signed
during the Obama era in 2015. The U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, though speaking on CNN "STATE OF THE UNION" Sunday, said the current
tensions began back then.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Jake, we're trying to restore deterrents that, frankly, is a need that results directly from the fact
that the previous administration left us in a terrible place with respect to the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Team Obama appeased Iran and it led to Shia militias with money, Hamas, the PIJ, hundreds of thousands of Syrians killed by Soleimani himself. This
was the place we found ourselves and when we came in, and we developed a strategy to attempt to convince the Iranian regime to behave like a normal
nation. That's what our strategy is about. We've been executing it. We will continue to do so, and have every expectation that we'll ultimately
achieve that goal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: All right. Obviously, critics will point to Iran abiding by the deal before the U.S. withdraw from it unilaterally.
Let's talk more about what happens now. Gregg Carlstrom is a Middle East correspondent for the Economist. He says in the wake of Soleimani's death,
U.S. facilities, personnel, and oil interests could all be at risk. And we also have CNN political commentator, Peter Beinart, joining us from New
Gregg, let me start with you. What's the future of this Iran deal? The Europeans are still desperately trying to salvage what's left of it.
GREGG CARLSTROM, MIDDLE EAST CORRESPONDENT, THE ECONOMIST: They're desperately trying to salvage it. But I think at this point, there's
little left to salvage. The Iranians have said they will no longer abide by any of the limits on their nuclear program. They are still permitting
international inspectors from the IAEA to inspect their nuclear facilities. But that's really the last straw remaining from the deal on their end right
The underlying problem is still what it was a year and a half ago. The Iranians have said at each step as they backed away from the deal that it's
reversible, that if the Trump administration returns to the agreement, Iran will do the same. It will store limits on its nuclear program.
But the Trump administration is not interested in doing that. It wants to negotiate some kind of what it calls a better deal. It's unclear if that's
a better nuclear deal, a deal that deals with Iran's ballistic missile program. A deal that deals with its support for regional proxies.
The administration hasn't been clear on exactly what it wants. And some of what it said it wants is a nonstarter for Iran, particularly changing its
regional policies. So we're basically in the same impasse that we've been in for the past 18 months since Trump withdrew.
GORANI: And, Peter, the -- there is still confusion and there has been for years now about the Trump administration's strategy vis-a-vis, Iran. It's
unclear exactly what the end game would look like for them. Do you think they want regime change? Do you think it's as extreme as that?
PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think there are some people inside and outside the Trump administration who would ultimately like a war
with Iran. In their mind, would lead to the bombing of Iran's nuclear facilities and the kind of dramatically weakening Iran as a regional
player, vis-a-vis Saudi Arabia and Israel.
I don't necessarily think that's been pursued as a coherent strategy, because I don't think Donald Trump is really kind of capable of that kind
of coherence. I think, for him, there is a kind of an impulse attraction to the idea of using massive violence as a way of making himself feel
strong and making the United States in his mind look strong.
If he thinks that it won't get him bogged down in a regional conflict, and because I think the internal processes inside the administration have
broken down so badly, there was evidently nobody with the capacity or stature to tell him that's what the assassination of Soleimani would do.
GORANI: Yes. And what about, Gregg, Iraq in all of this? Because it's really, essentially, the calm in this case, the staging ground for a proxy
battle between the U.S. and Iran.
Ordinary Iraqi citizens are rightfully fed up. They want transparency from their leaders and accountability, but this is, of course, having a major
political impact within the leadership ranks of Iraq right now.
CARLSTROM: It is. We saw yesterday the Iraqi parliament passed the nonbinding resolution calling for the government to expel foreign troops
which would include American troops from Iraq. It's not binding. The government has -- doesn't have to abide by this. But there is certainly a
lot of pressure on the Iraqi government to end the American military presence there. If that were to happen, many other countries would
probably do the same.
We heard earlier today NATO is temporarily suspending its training session with the Iraqi military. All of which could create space for Islamic State
to regroup much like it did after the American withdrawal in 2011.
Then the other piece to this is this protest movement that's been going on for months where Iraqis have been braving and often brutal crackdown by
their government to demand a more responsive, less corrupt government.
There's going to be a push now, I'd suspect from pro-Iranian parties in Iraq to paint those protesters as being at best a nuisance and at worst
sort of American tools. And there's going to be pressure for the protesters to shelve their demands and stop protesting with the implicit
threat of violence if they don't.
So all of this, it puts Iraq in a difficult position, not only vis-a-vis, its relations with the United States, but it also complicates Iraq's
domestic politics as well.
GORANI: And, Gregg, you're in Washington. You're usually in the Middle East. But Peter, what's been the level of support for this strike in the
United States? Not just among Republicans, but overall? What are you sensing? How are you measuring --
BEINART: I think like most things in American politics today, it's largely divided down partisan lines based on your opinion of Donald Trump, for now.
But I do think if this starts to continue on, take a greater toll on Americans and become more -- look more like the thing that Donald Trump
told people he would not bring which was another kind of prolonged conflict in the Middle East, you could start to see defections from his own base.
There are already people like Tucker Carlson, for instance, the Fox News host who's generally a big booster of Donald Trump who has said this is a
really bad idea because Trump was supposed to bring us an end to these wars.
GORANI: Right. And if he's lost Tucker Carlson, I wonder what that means for some of his supporters as well.
And Gregg, finally, I find interesting that Saudi Arabia is, after having appeared very much in support of the notion of a punitive strike on Iran,
is saying hold back. We don't want it to get any more tensed or any more dangerous for us in our own neighborhood. What do you make of that?
CARLSTROM: Well, they find themselves in a very nervous position right now. You mentioned the strike on Saudi Aramco facilities back in
September. That followed some attacks on oil tankers in the gulf over the summer which were attributed again to Iran and to Iranian proxies. None of
that drew an American response.
What we've seen over the past year is that the only thing that seems to really phased the president and attract his attention is attacks on
Americans or American assets.
And so for the Saudis, for the Emirates, for other states in the Gulf, there's very much a concern right now that if they were to be targeted by
Iranian retaliation for the assassination of Soleimani, again, if oil facilities were to be struck or shipping were to be struck, that America
might not back them up, America might not defend them. And so they're quite nervous about the prospect of this escalating.
GORANI: Gregg Carlstrom and Peter Beinart, thanks so much to both of you for being on the program.
Still to come tonight, the latest on the bushfires in Australia. We go along as one family returns to their home hoping that something has
survived the flames.
GORANI: In Australia, bushfires burning out of control have killed more than 20 people and consumed millions of acres of forest. The New South
Wales fire service says there are 69 fires in the state that it has not been able to contain. And even more shocking, officials say, the fires
will continue to burn for months potentially.
Our Anna Coren has more from onboard the Australian navy's biggest ship.
ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're aboard the HMAS Adelaide which is the largest naval vessel which has sailed into Eden
harbor here on South Coast of New South Wales. It came in yesterday under eerie skies filled with smoke.
Today, it is raining and very cold. It's obviously a reprieve for the fire fighters who have been fighting those bush fires raging around here.
As far as this vessel is concerned, they have been brought here to conduct any evacuations and provide any assistance necessary. This Seahawk behind
me, it has been conducting reconnaissance missions throughout the day, traveling up and down the coastline, looking for any communities that have
been cut off from the bushfires.
Now, 3,000 Australian air force personnel have been deployed to assist with the bushfire crisis. The government has come under extraordinary criticism
and pressure, and particularly the Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, for his lack of leadership during this crisis.
But the Australian defense force wants people to know that they are here, they are ready to help. Downstairs, there are over 1,000 bunks and
stretchers ready for any evacuees. There is a medical center as well as supplies, food, water.
As I say, the military says they're ready to help. These service members, they are Australian. It has been breaking their heart witnessing the
scenes. They say they're proud to be here and to serve amongst the men and women fighting these bushfires.
Anna Coren, CNN, HMAS Adelaide, Eden, Australia.
GORANI: The U.S. military is sending dozens of troops to secure Manda Bay Kenya where a terrorist attack on a Kenyan military base, over the weekend,
left three Americans dead. U.S. Africa Command says fighters were able to penetrate the base's perimeter before American and Kenyan forces could
repel the attack. That's quite significant.
Al-Shabab, an organization affiliated with Al-Qaeda, has claimed responsibility for this deadly assault.
Still to come tonight, Harvey Weinstein's trial begins in New York, while another state files new charges of sex crimes against the disgraced movie
mogul. We'll be right back.
GORANI: Well, the judge has set the terms for Harvey Weinstein's trial in sex crime charges involving two women. The disgraced movie mogul was using
a walker Monday to get to and from the New York state Supreme Court for a pretrial hearing. You see him there looking frail, pretty frail.
Allegations against Weinstein launched what's now known as the Me Too Movement. Weinstein has pleaded not guilty, but he could face life in
prison if he's convicted of the most serious charge which is predatory sexual assault.
Outside the court, a group of women who have accused Weinstein of misconduct offered their support to those expected to testify in this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROSE MCGOWAN, ACTRESS: The trial means so much to so many, but it will mean the most to the brave women testifying and to all of us silence
breakers. I thank those testifying for standing not just for themselves, but for all of us who will never have even one day in court.
ROSANNA ARQUETTE, DIRECTOR AND ACTRESS: We stand here at the beginning of a new year and a new decade. Time's up. Time's up on sexual harassment in
all workplaces. Time's up on blaming survivors. Time's up on empty apologies without consequences. And time's up on the pervasive culture of
silence that has enabled abusers like Weinstein.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: And the last speaker there was Rosanna Arquette, the actress.
CNN's Chloe Melas is in New York.
Now, just moments ago, prosecutors, this time in California, announced new charges against Weinstein. What more do we know?
CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: Yes. Well, good evening.
So this is breaking. Very unexpected. We had heard rumblings that this might be happening over the next few weeks. No one could have anticipated
that this would happen today.
So like you said, the Los Angeles county district attorney's office, just moments ago, have charged Harvey Weinstein with one count of rape and
another of sexually assaulting another. These incidents, alleged incidents, I might say, supposedly took place within days of each other in
2013. His bail is set at $5 million. An arraignment and further steps are going to be on hold, they said today during the press conference until his
current criminal trial in New York, which just started today, concludes.
But again, breaking news. And we are anticipating any sort of a statement from Weinstein. We haven't heard anything yet.
GORANI: Yes. And you mentioned New York. All eyes obviously on New York today. Tell us what happened today inside the courtroom.
MELAS: Yes. Well, just some preliminary conversations and discussions about motions and what types of evidence and witnesses can be called pre-
jury selection. Screening starts tomorrow, and that process is going to go on for the next two weeks.
If they do find 12 impartial jurors, trial will kick off really in about two weeks and be done in March. So I sat down with his criminal defense
attorney on Friday, Donna Rotunno, and she spoke a little bit about their strategy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONNA ROTUNNO, HARVEY WEINSTEIN'S ATTORNEY: Nobody is trying to claim that he's a saint and that he never did anything wrong or that he wasn't, you
know, bombastic at work or didn't treat assistants poorly.
But, you know, as we've talked about, as the defense team, there's a lot of room between treating someone poorly, cheating on your wife, and being a
rapist, and that's a large leap to take, and I don't believe Harvey is a rapist. I don't believe the evidence will show Harvey is a rapist.
And so my fear about this case is that what is attempting to happen in this courtroom is that the government is trying to criminalize morality.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELAS: They have a long road ahead of them, Hala. So it'll be interesting to see what happens over the next couple of months.
GORANI: And you were able to ask questions over e-mail to Harvey Weinstein before this trial? What did he have to say?
MELAS: Yes. So he's been reclusive for the last two years. He gave one interview to the New York Post a few weeks ago after a recent back surgery.
But he finally agreed to speak to me over e-mail. He answered eight questions. He said that the past two years have been, quote, grueling, a
lot of self-reflection, meditation, that he's been in a 12-step rehab program.
When I asked him if he had empathy for any of the 80 some accusers that have come forward publicly since 2017's Me Too movement, again, he declined
to comment. He said that was on the advice of his attorneys. He said he's been leaning on family and friends. But that was pretty much it.
But he also said though that he does see life after this criminal trial, and I guess the next one in Los Angeles that he hopes to make movies again
here in the United States.
GORANI: Well, with those new charges in L.A., it might be harder than he hopes.
Thanks very much, Chloe Melas.
GORANI: Speaking of L.A., it's award season in Hollywood and the Golden Globes bestowed their top honors on a pair of films that told stories about
major historic events.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we're not clever about this, no one will get to your brother.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: The World War I film "1917" is now among the frontrunners for the Academy Awards after it won Globes for best drama and best director, Sam
Mendes. And for best -- as for best comedy, not 1917, but as for his comedy or musical. Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PIERCE BROSNAN, AMERICAN-IRISH ACTOR: And the Golden Globe goes to, "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood".
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Quentin tarnation having a great night. "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" also won best screenplay and best supporting actor for Brad
Other big winners included Joaquin Phoenix who won best actor in a drama for "Joker."
Renee Zellweger, quite a nice comeback. She won best actress for her performance as Judy Garland.
All eyes, obviously, now turn to the Academy Awards nominations which will be announced in exactly one week.
We're going to take a quick break. We're going to talk a lot more about what's going on in Iran. Big demonstrations in support of Qasem Soleimani.
Stay with CNN. I'll be back with more, of course, of the reaction in Washington and what might lie ahead for the region with our reporters and
our analysts. We'll be right back.
GORANI: Welcome back. I'm Hala Gorani. Welcome to our special extended edition of the show tonight.