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Hala Gorani Tonight
Senate Republican Leader McConnell Speaks About Iran and Impeachment; President Trump Reiterates Threat to Target Iranian Cultural Sites; Oil Prices Rise After U.S. Killed Iran's Soleimani. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired January 06, 2020 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST, HALA GORANI TONIGHT: Welcome back, I'm Hala Gorani. Welcome to our special extended edition of the show
tonight. And we start with the deepening crisis between the United States and Iran over the targeted killing of Iran's military commander.
The Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, is now warning Donald Trump to quote "never threaten the Iranian nation," unquote, after the U.S. President said
Iran's cultural sites couldn't be attacked if Iran retaliates for the death of Qasem Soleimani.
Iranians are getting ready to bury the leader of their elite al Quds Force in his hometown of Kerman. We're looking by the way at pictures of his
funeral procession in Qom, which is one of Iran's holiest sites.
Now earlier, there were some massive crowds of mourners. They turned out in Tehran, some of them demanding revenge against America. We have
correspondents all across the region covering the story for you. Let's start with Fred Pleitgen in Tehran who has been right in the thick of
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As you can see, the mood on the streets of Tehran is very much one of anger, it is very
much one that is extremely charged, here right now, some many "Death To America" as they are (INAUDIBLE). Iranians are mourning the death of Qasem
Soleimani and today, are sending the body off to be buried.
The Supreme Leader of this country, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei himself, eulogized the bodies which has been brought to the streets of Tehran to one
of the main squares and one of the main --
The Iranians here are very, very angry even in the state of mourning, but also say, they want revenge and they want that revenge as fast as possible.
Senior Iranian leaders have already said revenge is going to take place that's going to be against military sites. They don't want a full-fledged
war against the United States.
Fred Pleitgen, Tehran.
GORANI: Well, Fred Pleitgen spoke exclusively with Hossein Dehghan, an adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader. He issued the most specific and direct
threat yet by a senior Iranian official after the killing of Soleimani. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOSSEIN DEHGHAN, SENIOR ADVISER TO IRAN'S SUPREME LEADER (through translator): For sure. No American military staff, no American political
senator, no American military base and no American vessel in the world will be safe. If he says 52 sites, we say 300 and they are accessible to us.
The response for sure will be military and against military sites. Let me tell you one thing, our leadership has officially announced that we've
never been seeking war, and we will not be seeking war. It was America that started the war.
Therefore, they should accept appropriate reactions to their actions.
The only thing that can end this period of war is for the Americans to receive a blow that is equal to the blow they've inflicted. Afterward,
they should not seek a new cycle.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, CNN's Nick Paton Walsh says Iran's response to the U.S. may happen slowly and that that's concerning to people in the region. He is
standing by in Beirut.
But first, let's go to Stephen Collinson at CNN, Washington. And once again, Republicans standing by the President on this, even some of the
most, you could call them shocking tweets threatening retaliation against cultural sites in Iran. We're not hearing any dissent.
STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's true, Hala, partly that of course is a function that the most senators are traveling back to
D.C. today after their Holiday break, so we will expect to see them confronted I think by journalists in the next couple of days.
We may see more uncomfortable moments for Republican lawmakers, but generally Republicans are standing by the President. They are arguing that
the President has taken a stand against terrorism. That's the frame that they're using to talk about the killing of Qasem Soleimani, stressing how
he was a terrorist mastermind from the U.S. perspective throughout the Middle East.
You know, we're seeing from the Republican side and from the Republican foreign policy establishment, a lot of what you could call Washington
wisdom, the idea that the President has reestablished deterrence that he has called Iran's bluff. That since they believe that Iran doesn't want an
escalation of full-on war with the United States that a lot of these threats that are coming out of Tehran, perhaps are not to be taken
Obviously, events will play that out. But we saw a lot of the last two decades of the U.S.'s disastrous involvement in the Middle East. That kind
of thinking that Washington decides what the logical step of one of its adversaries might be and then it is surprised when it takes a different one
because of their own internal factors.
COLLINSON: So I think we're starting to get to a position in Washington where people are waiting, really to see exactly what kind of form the
Iranian revenge might take.
GORANI: The President ran on a promise to extract the United States from these so-called endless wars. He's not doing that with this strike at all.
Why are his supporters still behind him, Stephen?
COLLINSON: I think to some extent, Donald Trump supporters will always be behind him. I think that that might explain some of these tweets and
warnings that the President has made about targeting Iranian cultural sites.
To the rest of the world, this sounds like a horrific possibility. To Trump supporters that makes him look tough -- tough on terrorism, tough on
Iran, the kind of person that will tear up all the normal moral rules of behavior. That is an attractive political spectacle for some of Donald
Now the question is, you know, if he has to start pulling, you know, 10,000 to 20,000 troops into Iran in the real war situation that, of course, could
break. And I think that's why it's interesting to see how the President responds to that vote in the Iraqi Parliament, calling for the expulsion of
It wouldn't surprise me if at some point, the President turns around and decides, okay, it's time to declare a victory. Let's get out of Iraq. If
he did that, he would be responding to a very powerful motivating force in American politics, the idea that we need to get out of all these foreign
wars. After all, it was what helped Barack Obama get elected, and it's what helped him get elected four years ago.
GORANI: Nick Paton Walsh, Iran could use any number of proxies. There's Hezbollah in Lebanon, there are proxies, of course in Iraq and Syria and as
far as Yemen as well to lash out against either the United States or U.S. allies. And it's the unpredictability of it all that has people very much
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. But interestingly, over the past 24 hours or so, certainly here in Lebanon,
Lebanese Hezbollah have played down the rhetoric you might have expected if they were about to launch an attack against the U.S. ally like Israel, for
In fact, they led a very clear simple message at a mourning procession where they said they were going to be about killing U.S. troops, sending
them home in coffins and forcing U.S. forces out of quote, "the region," however they choose to define that.
That mirrors the message you heard from frankly, anyone from Qasem Soleimani's daughter to the Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, saying how
that's sort of the beginning of the end of the U.S. presence in the region.
This seems to be the focus now of the initial Iranian response, not necessarily a loud bang or an immediate move to kind of fit into the 24-
hour cable news appetite perhaps of the U.S. Commander-in-Chief, a longer strategy may be.
We are seeing parts of it perhaps play out in Iraq already where the Parliament is asking for the Executive to consider moving U.S. troops out
of there permanently, that could impact Syria.
Donald Trump is already suggesting he would like to leave Afghanistan on his own accord, and this may be where the Iranian position and strategy
plays to. Essentially, Donald Trump has always said he'd like less troops in the Middle East and Iran is trying to get him to do that involuntarily.
But it may well be after a protracted periods of violence or if the Iranians do manage to target U.S. troops like they say they want to. I
should point out there are thousands here and in over a dozen countries. The idea of them leaving wholesale, the whole Middle East is frankly
But it may be some of them are vulnerable over time, and that may possibly impact Donald Trump's decision to stay the longer course here, although,
his immediate reaction has been that sanctions may come for Iraq if they do try and get U.S. troops to leave -- Hala.
GORANI: In Washington. We can now go to Fred Pleitgen, he is live in Tehran with more, and we were running a part of your report from the
streets of Tehran.
Big, huge crowds in fact mourning Qasem Soleimani and vowing revenge. How reflective are they of popular opinion in Iran? Was Soleimani popular or
they were angry about what they perceive as American imperialism here?
PLEITGEN: Well, I think it's a little bit of both. I mean, I certainly think that Qasem Soleimani as controversial as he was, obviously,
internationally, especially in the U.S., of course, having fought against U.S. forces in Iraq during the Iraq War, as the Americans say, having the
blood of hundred Americans, hundreds of Americans on his hands.
Here in Iran, he was definitely very much a revered and very respected figure. And you know, we've been speaking a lot to people who are more
religious, maybe more hardline, also to moderates as well. And we do sense that there is a great deal of respect or was a great deal of respect for
Qasem Soleimani especially because he is seen by many people here as having defended Iran and indeed the region from ISIS.
PLEITGEN: One of the things that you keep hearing from a lot of people is they'll say, look, this is a man who came and personally oversaw the
defense of Baghdad as ISIS was closing in on Baghdad, and that's something where they say it's very important to the stability of Iran, where they
feel that he always had Iran's interests on his mind.
So the popular opinion certainly seems to be one of true mourning that's going on. And also, of course, very much of anger towards the United
It was quite interesting because one of the people that we talked to today said, look, this is a man who fought against ISIS. And now of course, the
Iranians say they want to take revenge for his killing.
Whether or not that's actually going to happen in the form that the Iranians are saying, because of course, they were saying to us that they
want to attack American military installations, is still very much up for grabs, just as Nick was just saying there.
But the anger here certainly does seem to be very much genuine. And the other thing that we need to point out Hala, is that, you know, we've been
or I've been at so many protests here in Iran and the power center here in Iran, they do have the capability of drumming up protests, of drumming of
But the size, the scale of things that we've seen over the past couple of days from the moment that Qasem Soleimani's body came across the border
from Iraq into the town of Ahvaz is really something that even the leadership of this country could not have imagined.
It certainly was a large outpouring of sympathy, of grief and then of anger as well, and that's also what we saw when we were in the thick of things
today on the ground in Tehran.
You had a lot of people who had obviously come there to pay their respects, but then also people who were telling us they want revenge. That was one
of the placards that we saw that many people had that just said two words, harsh revenge, and that also seems to be the sentiments of the people that
we've been speaking to as well -- Hala.
GORANI: Well, it sounds certainly like this killing has unified Iran against the United States, certainly. Thanks very much, Fred Pleitgen live
President Trump is threatening to impose, quote, "very big sanctions on Iraq" if American troops are forced to leave what is supposed to be after
all a sovereign country.
It comes after the Iraqi Parliament approved a resolution which is non- binding, but approved a resolution nonetheless to expel U.S. troops after the killing of General Soleimani.
But as CNN's Arwa Damon reports from Baghdad, the Iraqi government seems so far undeterred.
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It does seem as if the Iraqi government is moving forward with Parliament and the Cabinet's
decision to ask foreign forces to leave.
We received a statement from caretaker Iraqi Prime Minister, Adil Abdul- Mahdi's office where it states that I that Adil Abdul-Mahdi met with the U.S. Ambassador and he presented the Iraqi government's perspective, where
they discussed the way that both countries needed to work together to try to implement this decision for the withdrawal of foreign and American
The Iraqi Prime Minister also telling the U.S. Ambassador that the current situation is extremely serious and that Iraq was doing everything possible
to prevent slipping into an open-ended war.
This country has been in something of an impossible position, stuck as an increasingly growing proxy battlefield between the United States and Iran.
From Iraq's perspective, it is perhaps easier and quicker to ask foreign forces to leave to de-escalate the situation here than it is to try to
disentangle itself from Iran's political and military influence, but with Trump now threatening sanctions, which also potentially would have a
devastating impact here, nothing in this country is guaranteed.
Arwa Damon, CNN, Baghdad.
GORANI: Well, the world is watching to see how Iran will respond to Soleimani's death. A "New York Times" op-ed argues that the Iranian
people's display of raw, intense grief is their first act of retaliation.
Joining me now, the author of that piece, Azadeh Moaveni. She is a journalist and academic who has covered Iran for nearly two decades. The
author of "Lipstick Jihad: A Memoir of Growing Up in Iran," and more recently, "Guest House for Young Widows Among the Women of ISIS." You also
wrote about the terrorist group. Thanks for joining us.
So talk to us a little bit about the reaction in Tehran and what you make of the huge crowds.
AZADEH MOAVENI, JOURNALIST, WRITER AND ACADEMIC: The crowds are inconceivably big. I don't think anyone could have imagined a week ago, a
month ago that any event could generate millions of people out on the streets like this. I don't think we've seen anything like this.
I mean, it looks like the days of the revolution or the days of the funeral of the Ayatollah Khomeini. But I think it reflects the degree of
frustration that Iranians bring to this moment. You know this sense that they are the target of this kind of without strategy purposeless animosity
from the United States and its perpetual sanctions.
MOAVENI: And then finally the turn -- the turn to, you know, rhetoric of annihilation, the destruction of their cultural heritage. And I think this
resulted in this kind of fury and furiousness and mourning that of course people bring to it from different swathes of society, different
perspectives on that, but kind of united in their indignation and anger.
GORANI: So regardless of whether or not they support the regime, they've come together in their common sort of frustration here.
MOAVENI: Exactly. I think it's a nationalism that can reside in people's hearts and minds in different ways. I mean, it can sit alongside
resentment of the government.
I mean, I think a month ago, many of these people might have blamed the government and thought perhaps they should compromise; perhaps, you know,
for the sake of the country, they should strike some sort of deal, but I think today they see that perhaps there was no deal to be struck. There's
no interlocutor on the other side.
GORANI: Yes. And with this deal for all intents and purposes dead, this Iranian Nuclear Deal, where does that leave the country? I mean,
economically, they're on their knees. There's a lot of frustration among ordinary Iranians that their government is not necessarily as
representative and transparent and working in their best interest as they'd like, where does that leave the country?
MOAVENI: I mean, I think it leaves people with a determination to come together and be resilient. I mean, Iran has withstood decades of
sanctions. You know, it's been sanctioned for most of the last 40 years.
It's really only, you know, one generation that lived under the Obama administration and the idea that things could change. But I think there's
an expectation that the government will respond somehow, that perhaps, you know, this will lead to the U.S. being forced to withdraw from Iraq.
That's something -- that something tangible you know, that Iran will gain from this.
GORANI: but all of that being said, their country and their government is involved in so many proxy battles. I mean, Soleimani is obviously held
responsible for countless deaths in Syria. Their government is expansionary in its desire to control parts of the region.
And this has to be frustrating for a country that would prefer that some of that effort be put into their own wellbeing.
MOAVENI: I mean, I think that there was -- I think there's a variety of opinion inside Iran about this. And certainly, there were many, though,
who I think genuinely felt that that Iran was vulnerable because of American interventions on almost all of its borders.
I think the government made the case to its people that ISIS was marching across Iraq in 2014. It could come to Iran so that it was doing this to
keep the fight outside of Iran's borders.
And I think people thought that persuasive.
GORANI: Did that convince -- yes?
MOAVENI: I mean, you know, I think Iranians bring to this moment, the legacy of the war with Iraq, that was eight years in which all of the Arab
nations of the Middle East except for Syria, the West sided with Iraq and Iran, you know, gave hundreds of thousands of debt to the war and I think
it brings to this moment, all of that kind of historical memory.
GORANI: Yes. I mean, in the region itself with what's happening in Syria, with what's happening in Yemen, with what's happening now in Lebanon, the
economic instability. It's just very difficult to imagine a scenario where things get better for ordinary people, whether it's Iran or whether it's
their neighbor, Iraq or elsewhere. What would it take to turn things around?
MOAVENI: I think all the discussion in the United States about an end to this military interventionism, that kind of moves from sphere to sphere,
and I think exacerbated by a Trump administration that has a very kind of reckless, you know, no strategy at all, like not even a poor strategy.
So I think, you know, the moment that we're on -- and you're right, as ordinary citizens of all these countries that suffer, you know, is the
result of, you know, a series of blunder of the 2003 invasion of Iraq that kind of mount together.
But I think it's so dangerous now because, you know, even steps that other previous administrations would never take, the assassination of a senior
government official, you know, inside another country at the invitation of that country, we've never seen something like this.
GORANI: It does so with the response of governments to their citizens' legitimate protests in 2011 that created so much and in the case of Iran,
in 2009, so much of this instability and misery, I mean, I'm thinking of Syria, of Egypt, of other places. Yes?
MOAVENI: I think it's -- I think it is these societies that are locked in these cycles of instability. And I think that's why it's so painful for
I mean, I think people in Iran, the images you see on the streets, people are mourning, you know, the loss of their horizons, because ultimately,
that's what it comes to for them.
GORANI: There is -- there is certainly a lot of frustration. There was so much hope in 2011 and now we're in this more tense situation, certainly
between Iran and Saudi Arabia, among other proxy battles. Thank you very much, Azadeh.
GORANI: And I want to bring our viewers up to date on this. This just in to CNN. A U.S. official tells us that the Pentagon is planning to deploy
six B-52 bombers to the Indian Ocean. The official says the planes will be available for operations against Iran if ordered.
But it's important to note the deployment does not mean that operations have been ordered and we'll bring you updates when we get them regarding
this new development.
Still to come on CNN, one of Donald Trump's former advisers makes a bombshell announcement about the President's upcoming impeachment trial.
We'll be right back.
GORANI: There is some relief today from those bushfires devastating parts of Australia. Scorching temperatures cooled a bit on Monday and there was
even rain in some places where firefighters are still very much battling the flames, but it is all just a temporary reprieve.
Many of the fires are still burning and officials warn that more hot, dry weather is on the way.
As the fire recedes from some places, families who fled are coming back to see what if anything is left. Anna Coren was with one of them.
ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Heading up the driveway towards his home through the burnt out bush. Bruce Honeyman knew
what was waiting for him.
BRUCE HONEYMAN, HOME DESTROYED IN BUSHFIRE: Bizarre. The house is all gone. It's all gone.
COREN (voice over): The mud brick home he shared with his partner, Julie- Ann Grimer reduced to smoldering rubble.
After the border fire that crossed Victoria into New South Wales roared through townships, including Pericoe, West of Aden just a few days ago.
HONEYMAN: The ferocity of this sort of fire is unbelievable. We made the right decision to evacuate and for that, I am thankful. But yes --
COREN (voice over): They were preparing for the worst. The reality, however, devastating.
The speed of the fire evident from its indiscriminate nature. It completely raised the house while leaving the newly built pergola intact
just a few meters away.
The battle weary firefighters who have been in the thick of it for months, the magnitude of this crisis clearly taking its toll.
CLINT BRADLEY, FIREFIGHTER, RURAL FIRE SERVICE: I get a lapse in my strength sometimes. It's seeing people here comes -- coming and having to
confront this. Then that makes me think what I would feel if it was me.
COREN (on camera): Julie-Ann and Bruce, are one of thousands of families that have returned to their homes that are no longer there.
And while the rain has arrived, it's only short lived. Those dry hot conditions are expected to return and there are still months remaining of
Australia's fire season.
COREN (voice over): Their bush sanctuary, the result of 10 years hard work now a memory, but they resolve to rebuild and restore their life in its
natural habitat, unwavering.
JULIE-ANN GRIMER, HOME DESTROYED IN BUSHFIRE: This is the risk you have when you're in -- when you're in the bush and this is Australia. We will
reassess what we do from here and this will still be home. We've got -- we've got more things than what some people have got. We've got to be
thankful for that.
COREN (voice over): Anna Coren, CNN, Pericoe, New South Wales, Australia.
GORANI: So much devastation there. Now, to a dramatic development in U.S. President Donald Trump's impeachment trial.
Former White House National Security adviser, John Bolton issued a statement a short time ago saying he is now willing to testify in the
Senate trial, if he is subpoenaed. That's the big if.
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 pushing for.
Let's get more on this big turn of events. Let's bring CNN's Manu Raju. He is joining us from Washington. So Manu, do you think this statement
would put any pressure on Mitch McConnell to allow witnesses to be subpoenaed here?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, from what we're hearing from our Republican sources, it's unlikely that Mitch McConnell is
going to budge. His strategy so far has been to push off the idea of having witnesses and documents until after opening arguments happen, and at
that point, he says they can make a decision about witnesses.
Democrats say that they don't want to go along with that because they're concerned McConnell will just move simply to acquit the President at that
point, and they will never have the witness testimony. So they want an agreement upfront. That's what the rub has been so far.
Now the question ultimately is going to be whether or not there is enough Republican support to push for this --
GORANI: He is on the floor of the Senate right now. Let's listen to what McConnell is saying right now. This is live.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): One of our distinguished colleagues made a public statement that rightly called Soleimani a murderer, and then
amazingly walked that message back when the far left objected to a factual statement.
Since then, I believe all her criticism is directed at our own President.
Another of our Democratic colleague has been thinking out loud about Middle East Policy on social media. Mere days before President Trump's decision,
this senator tore into the White House for what he described as weakness and inaction.
No one fares us he complained. Trump has rendered America impotent in the Middle East.
But since the strike, a complete 180. That same senator has harshly criticized our own President for getting tough, ludicrously. He and others
on the left have accused the administration of committing an illegal act and equated the removal of this terrorist leader with a foreign power,
assassination of our own Secretary of Defense.
Well, here's what one actuary had to say about it.
Jeh Johnson, President Obama's own former Pentagon General Counsel and Secretary of Homeland Security. Here's what he said. "If you believe
everything that our government is saying about General Soleimani, he was a lawful military objective. And the President, under his constitutional
authority, as Commander-in-Chief, had ample domestic legal authority to take him out without -- without -- an additional congressional
"Whether he was a terrorist, or a general in a military force that was engaged in armed attacks against our people. He was a lawful military
objective." That's the former Secretary of Homeland Security in the Obama administration, Jeh Johnson, an expert on these things.
And our former colleague, Joe Lieberman, who ran for Vice President on the Democratic ticket in 2000 wrote this morning, that in their uniformly
skeptical or negative reactions to Soleimani's death, Democrats are creating the risk that the U.S. will be seen as acting and speaking with
less authority abroad at this important time. That's how a former Democratic senator sees it.
Look, the Senate is supposed to be the chamber where overheated partisan passions to give way to sober judgment. Can we not at least wait until we
know the facts? Can we not maintain a shred -- just a shred of national unity for five minutes -- for five minutes -- before deepening the partisan
Must Democrats distaste for this president dominate every thought they express and every decision they make. Is that really the seriousness that
this situation deserves? The full Senate will be briefed on Wednesday. I expect the Committees of Oversight will also conduct hearings and the
senators will have plenty of opportunities to discuss our interest and policies in the region.
So I would urge my colleagues to bring a full awareness of the facts, the mindfulness of the long history of Iran's aggression towards the United
States and its allies, and a sober understanding of the threat Iran continues to pose. Could we at least remember we're all Americans first,
and we're all in this together.
Now, meantime at this dangerous time, house Democrats continue to play political games with their partisan impeachment of the commander-in-chief.
Last year, house Democrats conducted the least thorough, most rushed, most unfair impeachment inquiry in history. For weeks, Democrats, they said
they could not wait for due process.
Could not conduct a normal or fair inquiry because removing the president from office was so incredibly urgent, incredibly urgent. Well, the
unseriousness was obvious then, and should be even more obvious now. Because Speaker Pelosi is now sitting on the articles she claimed were so
very urgent. She's delayed this indefinitely so that the architects of the failed house process can look for ways to reach over here into the Senate
and dictate our process as well.
Democrats have tried to insist that the Senate deviate from the unanimous, bipartisan precedent set in the 1999 trial of President Clinton, and write
new rules for President Trump. They've tried to pre-commit the Senate to re-doing house Democrats' lap-dash-work for them, and pursuing avenues that
Chairman Schiff himself didn't bother to pursue.
And Mr. President, the Senate has a unanimous bipartisan precedent for when to handle mid-trial questions such as witnesses in the middle of the trial,
which we know was done in the last time. And that's the way it should be done this time. In 1999, every single U.S. senator agreed to establish
basic parameters for the start of the trial up front and reserve mid-trial questions such as witnesses until later.
The vote was a 100 to nothing. That was good enough for President Clinton, so it ought to be good enough for President Trump. Fair is fair. House
Democrats hunger to break our Senate precedents just like they broke their own house precedents, could not be more telling. But the Senate does not
just bob along on the currents of every news cycle.
The house may have been content to scrap their own norms to hurt President Trump, but that is not the Senate. Even with a process this
constitutionally serious, even with tensions rising in the Middle East, house Democrats are treating impeachment like a political toy, like a
political toy, treating their own effort to remove our commander-in-chief like some frivolous game.
These bizarre stunts do not serve our constitution or our national security. They erode both. My Democratic colleagues should not plow away
American unity and some bizarre intramural competition to see who dislikes the president more. They should not disdain our constitution by rushing
through a purely partisan impeachment process, and then toying around with it.
HALA GORANI, HOST, GORANI TONIGHT: Now, the Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell there, Manu Raju is still with us. And he talked about the
killing of Qasem Soleimani, saying it was a lawful target that Qasem Soleimani was a lawful target for extra judicial killing, quoting Jeh
Johnson; he is the former Homeland Security Secretary under Obama, and also appeared not to relent at all on this notion that witnesses, that the
agreement on witnesses could be made before the start of the trial, but instead his position remains that the witnesses would be called and a
determination would be made later on. Talk -- did we learn anything new here on his position regarding the trial?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, his position is very important because the news of today of course was John Bolton.
Whether or not he will come and testify because the former National Security adviser has intimate knowledge of the president's dealings with
Ukraine, Democrats had demanded his testimony.
Bolton has said that he would testify if he was subpoenaed, that was the news today. So, Mitch McConnell for the first time is weighing in on the
aftermath of John Bolton's announcement. And what Mitch McConnell makes clear here, his position has not changed. Basically, that they will deal
with the witnesses later. He says that they should start the trial, have opening arguments, then they can deal with this later.
Now, the key question here and now is what will they do when it comes time to vote. The senators will have an opportunity after the trial begins to
vote to compel witness testimony, to vote for subpoenas. That would require 51 votes on the floor of the Senate to require the senators to go
forward. Now, the question is whether or not there will be four Republicans who will break ranks and join with 47 Democrats in going
And importantly, I talked to one Republican senator today, Marco Rubio of Florida, a senator who competed against President Trump in the 2016
campaign. But when I asked him today whether or not he would vote to subpoena John Bolton, he said that he would not vote to subpoena John
Bolton, and he said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Would you vote to subpoena John Bolton?
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): I wouldn't because I think in my view, the -- our inquiry should be based on the testimony that they took that we are acting
on articles of impeachment. And I believe we should be constrained by the information that those articles are based on. If the house wants to start
a new impeachment inquiry, you pull it back and add additional elements to it on their end, that's their choice to make. That's my view of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: So, that's important because then I think you'll expect to hear more Republicans side with Marco Rubio. The question though, will it be four
Republicans to break ranks, vote to subpoena these witnesses at the moment, not yet. But we'll see if anything changes. Hala?
GORANI: All right, thanks, Manu Raju. I want to turn back to the Iran situation now. Joining me now from New Haven, Connecticut is Oona
Hathaway; she's a professor of international law, Yale Law School and has worked in National Security law for the U.S. Defense Department. Thanks so
much for being with us. This killing of Qasem Soleimani, frame it for us within the framework of international law here. We heard from Mitch
McConnell saying it was a lawful killing.
OONA HATHAWAY, PROFESSOR, YALE LAW SCHOOL: Well, it's -- he claims that's a lawful killing, and so does the Trump administration. But we haven't
been given the details yet to really assess that. The administration seems to be claiming that there was some immediate attack, that there was attack
in the works, that it was imminent, and that it was necessary to strike Soleimani in order to address that, but has not provided any evidence
whatsoever to support that claim. And if that's not true, then this is clearly in violation of international law.
GORANI: What's the difference between killing Qasem Soleimani and Osama bin Laden?
HATHAWAY: Well, Soleimani is of course a leading figure of a state government. So, Osama bin Laden was a terrorist who was hiding in the
reaches of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and was not a member of a state government. This action against Soleimani is an action against Iranian
state, and it's a violation of state sovereignty.
And the state is protected by the U.N. charter, prohibition on use of force under article 24. And there are very few exceptions to that. And that's
why this is very different.
GORANI: And is it a violation against the Iraqi state as well because it happened on its territory?
HATHAWAY: Well, it does seem to be the case that the Iraqis did not consent to this strike, and they were very clear and forceful early that
they rejected this strike. They were extremely upset about it, of course, an Iraqi government member was also killed in the process. So yes, it is -
- because the strike took place on Iraqi soil without Iraq's consent, then this is also arguably a violation of Iraqi sovereignty, and they also have
reason to complain about a clear international law violation.
GORANI: And the Obama administration also engaged in many extra judicial killings. Did they in any of those cases arguably violate international
HATHAWAY: So bear in mind that the killings we're talking about are almost all counterterrorism operations. So, these were operations against al
Qaeda, al Qaeda-affiliated groups, ISIS, groups that had attacked the United States that were non-seed(ph) actor groups, and for which therefore
the claim at least was that, that was justified as a matter of self defense.
There's definitely arguments to be made, that this is maybe an expansive reading of self defense. But at least, the legal --
GORANI: Yes --
HATHAWAY: Justification is quite a bit stronger than here, where you're striking a member of a government of a fellow sovereign state.
GORANI: And even if for instance some of those strikes killed civilians, there could be no claim made?
HATHAWAY: Well, so certainly, if civilians were disproportionately killed in strikes, that would be a violation of international humanitarian law.
And I've written about this, the concern that some of these strikes have under both the Obama administration and particularly in the Trump
administration, we've seen a lot more civilian deaths in strikes against terrorist targets.
So, that is a real concern, and one that we should not turn away from. But this is a different kind of problem here. Here --
GORANI: Sure --
HATHAWAY: We have a strike against a leading member of a government of a fellow sovereign state as opposed to a strike against a terrorist threat
that then hits civilians and that separate violation of international humanitarian law certainly concern, but it's a different concern.
GORANI: And what about the president's threats to strike cultural sites inside of Iran, he issued that threat on Twitter. That would be a
violation of international law if the U.S. carried out such strikes?
HATHAWAY: That would be a very clear violation of international law. It's a violation of the hate convention of 1907 which protects culturally
significant sites. It would be a violation of a 1954 hate Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property, both of which the U.S. is party to,
and it would be a violation of additional protocol to the Geneva Convention, parts of which are customary international law. So, that would
be a clear violation of international law, and potentially even a war crime.
GORANI: All right, Oona Hathaway, thank you so much for joining us, we really appreciate it. We'll be right back.
GORANI: Well, there's escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran could cause a global financial shock, that is the view of Moody's, those are the
investment analysts. Already oil prices are spiking, though nothing too dramatic. The price of gold is at its highest in nearly seven years,
that's usually a refuge investment when people are worried about the economic prospects.
Let's bring in Adnan Mazarei from the Peterson Institute for International Economics. Mr. Mazarei, thanks for being with us. Well, I mean, we're
talking about a spike in oil prices. It was an initial spike of 3 percent, 4 percent. But now, the prize has stabilized, up maybe a quarter percent.
It's kind of a mild reaction. How do you explain it?
ADNAN MAZAREI, PETERSON INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL ECONOMICS: Thank you for having me on. Look, as you said, the reaction has been mild.
Arguably, the markets may be still too much under the influence of the short duration of the price hikes that happened after the attack on Aramco
Also, I am not persuaded that the markets now fully appreciate the risks that would come to the Middle East economies. The Middle Eastern economies
are now in a weak position, they're suffering from low growth, high unemployment, large fiscal deficits and debts and very difficult social
GORANI: Yes --
MAZAREI: At the same time, these countries don't have much room to maneuver in terms of policies, especially in terms of debt and the general
sense of fatigue that the populations face. And they would not -- it would not be easy for them to handle new types or new episodes of austerity.
GORANI: Yes --
MAZAREI: We've recently seen much social discontent in Iran, Algeria, Iraq, and Lebanon.
GORANI: And also, what's interesting is that countries traditionally that had a lot of cash, high growth because of oil revenues -- I mean, I'm
talking about the Gulf countries, they, too, are slowing down. So, there's less money to spend, that's of course in addition to all the incredibly
unstable conflict areas like Syria and elsewhere. Is there any reason -- what could help turn things around because it doesn't seem too hopeful?
MAZAREI: I -- the outlook is bleak. As you rightly said, the Gulf Corporation Council countries don't have the stashes of money that they had
in recent years, especially around the time of the Arab Spring to come in. At the same time, the countries -- several of the countries in the Middle
East benefitted from the ability of the G7 to come in and support them, especially the countries that were affected by the refugee crisis such as
Jordan and Lebanon.
This time around, given the prevailing nationalist tendencies all over, and the fact that even the G7 countries purses are less full than they used to
be, the ability of these -- the Middle Eastern countries to get financial assistance will be less. The capital markets are also becoming --
GORANI: Yes --
MAZAREI: Less optimistic on the Middle East. So, a number of countries would find it quite difficult to finance themselves. The most vulnerable -
GORANI: Yes --
MAZAREI: One right now is Lebanon.
GORANI: Sure, Lebanon, on the verge of bankruptcy. Adnan Mazarei, thanks so much for joining us, really appreciate your perspective. NATO Secretary
General Jens Stoltenberg says the U.S. has briefed European allies on the reasons for the killing of Soleimani. Stoltenberg told reporters on
Monday, a new conflict will not be in anyone's interest. Melissa Bell is in Paris. And the Europeans are not on board with the United States when
it comes to this particular killing of Iran's top general, Melissa.
MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Hala. I think you have to bear in mind that none of these NATO allies were warned about what
was going to happen, even though NATO is of course present in Iraq as part of that coalition in the fight against ISIS. And so, I think it was almost
a remarkably timid statement put forward by NATO earlier today.
Clearly, they were satisfied, the ambassador's present emergency meeting by what the United States had to say, but clearly much more worrying for the
Europeans who were involved in the initial Iran deal. I think there's NATO stance in how it reacts to what has happened, it's called now for all
parties to look towards de-escalation of this and renouncing of any further violence or escalation of this tension.
But then, there's also the position of the Europeans, it is after all they, Hala, who ever since that Iran deal was struck has really tried -- have
really tried with Iran to keep it alive despite the American withdrawal. And it is for that deal that I think they're worried. Tonight, we've heard
that from Jean-Yves Le Drian; the French Foreign Minister this evening on the French Airways. We've heard it repeatedly from European officials over
the course of the last few days.
This was already a deal that was severely tested by Iran's breaches over the course of the last year or so. Now, the idea that it might be dead for
good is of course, foremost on their minds.
Europeans have invited the Iranian Foreign Minister to come to Brussels to discuss it. We have no timetable for that or indeed any confirmation for
the time being, Hala, that he'll make the trip, but clearly, their hope even now -- and I'm talking here about the French, the Germans and the
British is that something can be salvaged, some kind of negotiating platform can be salvaged despite all that's happened over the course of the
last few days.
GORANI: All right, Melissa Bell, well, there's hope, not sure if it's going to materialize. Thanks very much for that. Still to come, the other
news we're following, including a terror group kills three Americans at a Kenyan military base. How the U.S. military plans to respond when we come
GORANI: Well, the U.S. military is sending dozens of troops to secure Manda Bay, Kenya, that's where a terrorist attack in a Kenyan military base
over the weekend left three Americans dead. Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility. Farai Sevenzo reports from Nairobi.
FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hala, over 24 hours since this dreadful attack which claimed the lives of one United States service man, two
Department of Defense contractors, as well as injuring two further Department of Defense contractors is now being unpicked to see exactly what
happened. Well, we know for example from the United States Africa Command, that it was Al-Shabaab and Al-Shabaab did claim responsibility which they
struck way before dawn, the sunrises after 6 O'clock in this part of the world.
But by 5:30, the Kenyan defense forces had already started hearing explosions. So, it gives you a sense of when the attack first happened.
Of course, at the moment, over 24 hours later, people here in Kenya are trying their hardest to understand what happened. And just to give you a
brief taste of today's headlines, this one tries to make a link between the events in Lamu County with the events in the Middle East.
Of course, that's a very tenuous link, and we are not following that line, and I'm not sure where they got it. But the idea is that Kenyans are
asking themselves how can this happen again? Do you remember, I spoke to you back in January, 2019, when Al-Shabaab, the al Qaeda-affiliated terror
group also hit a hotel here in Nairobi, killing 21 people.
And Hala, the questions are now being asked because just last week, we were talking about the fact that Al-Shabaab had set off a track bomb, a suicide
track bomb in Mogadishu, killing over 85. January the 2nd, in 2020, they hit a bus in Lamu, killing four people and making other passengers flee off
into a forest, a nearby forest in Lamu called Boni Forest.
And of course, then comes January the 5th, that's Sunday. At one of the most fortified camps in the country. It is the first time, Hala, that Al-
Shabaab has hit American troops on Kenyan soil. Now, anyone who knows this region cannot over emphasize the importance of American troops in fighting
Al-Shabaab. Terror, as I said to you before once, is that in 2020, it seems to be everywhere.
Northeast Nigeria, and then we're talking of course about Mali, Burkina Faso. But in Kenya, it's very specific to this particular group who have
been hit with drone strikes, military airstrikes by the United States and their African partners. But still, they managed to find some way of
Now, the importance of Sunday's attack is that there's going to be much more awareness of what's going on in this region, much more security.
Already, the Kenyan defense forces and Kenyan authorities are trying to say that at least, they responded within the hour, but of course, they never
saw it coming. And then there's one more thing we're still trying to figure out here in Kenya.
Is that while there were three Americans killed, what happened to the Kenyan defense forces? Did they have no casualties? It's a complicated
story to tell at the moment from how the security breach happened to who was killed, who was injured. Hala?
GORANI: All right, Farai, thanks very much. Farai Sevenzo in Nairobi. This is an astonishing story. The U.K.'s worst serial rapist has been
sentenced to life in prison after having been found guilty of 159 sexual offenses. Reynhard Sinaga was convicted of drugging and assaulting 48
different men over the course of more than a decade, he would wait for them outside night clubs, lure them to his house.
Because of the large number of offenses, four separate trials were held, the sentence means Sinaga must serve 30 years in prison before he is
considered for release. And by the way, the number of potential victims is much higher.
Prosecutors in California have filed new charges against disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, accusing him of rape and sexual battery. The new
charges come as Weinstein appeared in court in New York for a pre-trial hearing on sex crime charges involving two women. He's pleaded not guilty.
He has denied the accusations -- he is there, you can see him there in those images with a walker.
He could face life in prison, and outside the court, a group of women who have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct offered their support to his
accusers in this case. Listen.
(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 & 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: All right, thanks for watching tonight, I am Hala Gorani, "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper is next.