Return to Transcripts main page


Obama Speaks By Phone With Iranian Pres.; Government Shutdown Three Days Away

Aired September 27, 2013 - 17:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

BLITZER: And let's get to the breaking news. It's really a story. Phone call with potentially huge ramifications. President Obama announced just a little while ago that he spoke this afternoon by phone with the new Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, and discussed his country's controversial nuclear program. This is the first such contact in more than three decades. Watch this.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I spoke on the phone with President Rouhani of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The two of us discussed our ongoing efforts to reach an agreement over Iran's nuclear program. I reiterated to president Rouhani what I said in New York. While there will surely be important obstacles to moving forward, and success is by no means guaranteed, I believe we can reach a comprehensive solution.

I've directed Secretary Kerry to continue pursuing this diplomatic effort with the Iranian government. We had constructive discussions yesterday in New York with our partners, the European union, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China, together with the Iranian foreign minister.

Going forward, President Rouhani and I have directed our teams to continue working expeditiously in cooperation with the P-5 plus 1 to pursue an agreement. And throughout this process, we will stay in close touch with our friends and allies in the region, including Israel. We're mindful of all the challenges ahead.

The very fact that this was the first communication between an American and Iranian president since 1979 underscores the deep mistrust between our countries, but it also indicates the prospect of moving beyond that difficult history.


BLITZER: Let's go straight to our senior White House correspondent, Brianna Keilar, who was in the briefing room when the president made that historic announcement. Brianna, take us a little bit behind the scenes, because it's not every day, in fact, it's more than three decades since an American president and an Iranian president have actually spoken.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. And if progress is made on an agreement about Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program, this is a phone call that will be committed to history. And we do know a few details about them. We heard from Iranian sources that President Rouhani was actually in the car on the way to the airport in New York because he was there for the U.N. General Assembly when he spoke with President Obama today.

Now, we heard from a senior administration official that this is a phone call that took place about two and a half hours ago, at 2:30 p.m. eastern. It lasted 15 minutes. So, a pretty lengthy phone call, and that they mostly discussed the nuclear issue.

We're told, however, that it did open with President Obama congratulating Rouhani on his win in the election which, as you know, happened back in June, but of course, the men hadn't spoken since that had happened and that it was quite cordial in tone, we're told, but that there was also a discussion of urgency.

We've heard from the Iranians, Iranian sources, that they discussed there needing to be a will, a political will to move forward with something, but we're also told from a senior administration official, Wolf, especially because I think people are dissecting earlier this week, when President Obama was at the U.N. General Assembly and the White House had really left open the possibility of some sort of informal meeting, although very significant meeting between Obama and Rouhani that never happened.

A lot of folks are wondering well, why now. And a senior administration official says it's because in part, a meeting that took place last night between secretary of state, John Kerry, along with allies with the foreign minister of Iran, and that this was a meeting that went really well.

And so on the heels of President Obama in his address to the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday being open to some sort of agreement with Iran and also hearing Rouhani make very positive sounds to different outlets and in different venues during his trip to New York, that all of these things kind of coalesced to create an environment where this phone call could take place, Wolf.

BLITZER: Because as you know, the president really wanted to meet, at least, have some sort of encounter, a handshake, a photo opportunity, something with Rouhani when they were both at the United Nations on Tuesday. The U.S. wanted that meeting. The Iranians apparently decided not to have it. Rouhani later explaining, including today, that it was just too complicated.

They needed more time to prepare. So, it didn't happen and there was a lot of interpretation that here, the Iranians were actually snubbing the president of the United States. What are they saying at the White House about that suggestion? KEILAR: Well, they're saying that there were complications on the part of the Iranians, and it's hard exactly to dissect what that means, but obviously, you know Rouhani, a very different leader than his predecessor, Ahmadinejad, seen as a more moderate. He's definitely struck a more moderate tone.

But he's also walking a fine line and he has obviously his interests at home, which are not necessarily entirely to negotiate with America or certainly as they're looking, as Iranians are looking towards this and as the supreme leader looks towards it, that there's some suspicion of that.

So, I think, though, they felt between these meetings that happened last night with Secretary Kerry that it sort of paved the way and put everything in place so that they could have this discussion today, Wolf.

BLITZER: Brianna Keilar at the White House, history being made. Thanks very much.

Let's dig a little bit deeper right now on the president's phone call to the president of Iran. Our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, is here. The Iranians actually broke the news first. Didn't just break the news, they started tweeting, specifically, at Hassan Rouhani, a Twitter account that the president of Iran has.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: I saw this tweet, Wolf, and it was right before the president came out and of course, as this true, I started calling everybody I knew and at that moment, the president comes out. So, the irony of ironies, the Iranian president scooped the American president on this.

And not only in terms of telling people that the conversation took place, but in giving us the content of the conversation. So, he went on to tweet that here's what he said to President Obama. "In regards to the nuclear issue with political will, there is a way to rapidly solve the matter." He says "we're hopeful about what we will see from the P-5 plus 1 process and your government in particular in the coming weeks."

So, immediately, just as the president said getting right to that nuclear issue. The president and the White House actually didn't give so much detail on what they said to Rouhani. So, Rouhani again via his Twitter account told us what the president said to him.

He said "Barack Obama said to me I expressed my respect for you and the people of Iran. I'm convinced that relations between Iran and the U.S. will greatly affect the region and if we can make progress on the nuclear issue, other issues such as Syria will certainly be positively affected."

So, you know, 34 years later, we haven't had a conversation like this since 1979, and just to prove that we're in the 21st century, we get the full account from it by Twitter, although, there's an irony there. This is something we discussed before in the last couple of weeks. The president of Iran has a Twitter account, but the Iranian people are blocked from Twitter, one of the many controls, restrictions, placed by the Iranian government on political discourse in Iran.

And that's one thing, actually I spoke to the Iranian vice president today. He was part of the delegation and I asked him, I said, "Are you going to be lifting these restrictions in light of the fact that your president is so liberally using Twitter?" And he said he thinks it's going to happen. So, he said that that ban is a policy of the past administration, not of the current administration.

BLITZER: Interesting reaction. We got a statement also from the Iranian mission to the United Nations. Let me read it. This is from Alireza Miryousefi.

"The two presidents talked over the phone as President Rouhani was in a car and heading towards the New York International Airport. President Rouhani and President Obama discussed different issues during their phone conversation. The iranian and U.S. presidents underlined the need for a political will for expediting resolution of west standoff with Iran over the latter's nuclear program. President Rouhani and President Obama stressed the necessity for mutual cooperation on different regional issues."

Presumably Syria being a huge regional issue, where these two countries strongly disagree.

SCIUTTO: Absolutely. But there are issues, and you see this very quickly, where all of this window dressing, though, important and particularly this direct contact between the presidents, extremely important today, and promises the possibility of real progress, you still have other issues where we don't agree.

The Iranian president was asked this morning about Iran's support for terrorist groups, and he didn't back off from that support. Groups like Hezbollah, that the U.S. blames for attacks, for instance, one in Buenos Aires that killed 50, 60 some odd people. So, you know, as you're starting this process, you know that we have an opening here, but you still have many disagreements that are going to take -- that may not be settled, frankly, as we're watching this progress move forward.

BLITZER: A mere handshake didn't happen on Tuesday, but then John Kerry meets with the Iranian foreign minister on Thursday, and today, the president makes a phone call to a departing president of Iran. History unfolding.

SCIUTTO: Fifteen-minute phone call, 34 years in the making.

BLITZER: Yes. Maybe 15 minutes. I don't know if they were speaking through a translator or if they're speaking through a translator, that will be half the time they have to start translating. So, we'll see. But Rouhani does speak some English. Maybe they did speak in English. Who knows? We'll find out.

SCIUTTO: We will. Jim Sciutto, thank you.

Still ahead, we're going to get reaction from Iran. CNN's Reza Sayah, he is in the Iranian capital, Tehran, right now. We're going there live.

Plus, the countdown to a government shutdown now only three days away with no end to the political standoff in sight.


BLITZER: The federal government shutdown only three days away now, and the bill that can prevent it is back in the House of Representatives. But the lawmakers there aren't even in session, at least, not now. It's a high stakes game of political chicken sparked by a House Republican effort to defund Obamacare. The president talked about that as well after announcing his historic phone call to the Iranian president.


OBAMA: Past shutdowns have disrupted the economy and this shutdown would as well. It would throw a wrench into the gears of our economy at a time when those gears have gained some traction. That's why many Republican senators and many Republican governors have urged Republicans to knock it off, pass a budget, and move on. Let's get this done.


BLITZER: Let's bring in our chief Congressional correspondent, Dana Bash. Dana, the House, they're going to come back into session tomorrow, but what's the latest?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the speaker didn't come out and respond to the president. He did so through a spokesman and I'll read you what he said. He said the House will take action that reflects the fundamental fact that Americans don't want a government shutdown and they don't want the train wreck that is Obamacare.

Grandstanding from the president who refuses to even be part of the process won't bring Congress any closer to a resolution. Now, a reference there to him refusing to be part of the process, that just is color about what is or maybe what is not going on here. No negotiations at any level three days before a potential government shutdown.


BASH: On party line votes, the Senate passed a bill funding the government without defunding Obamacare.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The yeas are 54. The nays are 44. The amendment is agreed to.

BASH: On that, Republicans stuck together. But earlier, they were deeply divided on what Ted Cruz called the critical procedural vote.

SEN. TED CRUZ, (R) TEXAS: It is not easy to disagree with your political party, but at the end of the day, what we're doing here is bigger than partisan politics.

BASH: More than half the GOP caucus defied him, including fellow Texan and number two Republican, John Cornyn.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN, (R) TEXAS: I say to my friends who say we ought to shut the government down to get rid of Obamacare that it won't work.

BASH: A rare moment where the majority of Republicans and Democrats agreed.

SEN. ED MARKEY, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: Shutting down the government for Obamacare is like canceling the world series because your team didn't make it.

BASH: But Cruz isn't giving up. He's now pressuring the House to once again defund Obamacare.

CRUZ: It is unfortunate that there has been Republican division on this issue.

BASH: So, what is next for the House? It's unclear. House GOP leaders have no plan. In fact, when the Senate passed a bill keeping the government open, the House was already done with business for the day. Cars filled the capitol parking lot to whisk House members away since they're not required to return until Saturday, two days before the deadline.

REP. PETER KING, (R) NEW YORK: It's a waste of taxpayers' money for me to sit here doing nothing.

BASH: Senior GOP sources privately admit to CNN House GOP leaders are in a bind because many rank-and-file Republicans want them to make changes to the Senate bill, keep fighting.

Is it worth it to you to shut the government down?

REP. DARRELL ISSA, (R) CALIFORNIA: You know, you keep saying shut the government down. The press keeps saying it. That's the president's line. The fact is, the House has every right to determine what they will spend.

BASH: The Senate Democratic leader had some colorful words for House conservatives.

SEN. HARRY REID, (D) MAJORITY LEADER: Some of these people are part of the weird caucus over there who want to shut the government down.

BASH: Harry Reid warned any House changes would be unacceptable. Why?

REID: Because it's obvious that that would shut down the government. We can't move --

BASH: And why wouldn't it be your fault, then?

REID: You are using weird caucus math. (END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH (on-camera): Meanwhile, Wolf, the Senate is also now adjourned and they're not coming back until Monday, just hours before the deadline for the government to shut down. I got to tell you, for a place that is supposed to be in crisis, it is eerily quiet here. The halls are pretty much empty. Everyone is gone.

BLITZER: Remember, a week ago, the Speaker John Boehner, Dana, as you all remember, he said next weekend, meaning tomorrow and Sunday, will be very, very busy weekends for members of the House and guess what? He's obviously right. They got to make a major decision right now.

Do they let the government stay open, do they shut it down by including a demand that they know the senate won't accept, certainly, the president won't accept. These are tough decisions that the speaker and his Republican caucus have to make right now. They've got tomorrow and Sunday to make up their mind. All right. Dana, thanks very much.

Let's get a little bit more now with our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, and our chief political correspondent, Candy Crowley, the host of CNN's "State of the Union." Gloria, listen to another sound bite from what the president said today.


OBAMA: The House Republicans are so concerned with appeasing the Tea Party that they've threatened a government shutdown or worse, unless, I gut or repeal the Affordable Care Act. I said this yesterday, let me repeat it. That's not going to happen.


BLITZER: As far as we know, as far as you know and Candy, is there any back channel effort now by quote, "adults," representatives of the president, representatives of the speaker, the Democrats in the Senate, to say you know what, let's just resolve this temporarily, the government should not shut down with all the ramifications that that means.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, as Dana points out on the continuing resolution which is the crisis at hand, there's another crisis that will be coming up on the debt ceiling. Maybe there is some conversations going on about that because the administration says and lots of economists say that that would be catastrophic to the economy.

On the government shutdown, I think what you see is what you get here. I don't really see how either side comes to any kind of conclusion here, unless, they come up with some kind of immaculate conception and decide, OK, here's another solution and we can just kick this down the road.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'd be really surprised if there were back channel things going on with the debt ceiling because that's the one thing the president is out there going I'm not going to negotiate. Maybe they're doing it some place up on Capitol Hill, but I don't think the White House is a part of that. This is and has been a fight within the Republican caucus and the House.

And John Boehner is in the unenviable situation where he's going to have to figure out whether he puts this thing on the floor and lets a minority of Republicans and a minority of Democrats form a majority and pass it, whether he's going to send it back to the Senate and they're not going to have time to do it. Now, could they do it? They could do it -- I've seen them do a one-day --

BLITZER: They can do it if they want to do it. They can do it in a few hours.

CROWLEY: Yes. But they can also extend -- you know, they can do a CR for a day or two days if they wanted to. It is almost, you know, nobody at this point can see a way out which is really, I mean, I think the reason that we can't figure out a way out is I don't think the leadership --


BLITZER: Gloria, the easy way out, the legislation that today passed the Senate, 54-44, the legislation that allows the government to stay open for the time being, does not include the defunding of Obamacare. The speaker, John Boehner, can say all right, put it up for a vote on the floor. Let 435 representatives in the House of Representatives vote yea or nay on what just passed the Senate.

BORGER: And there could be some kind of coalition, but that would be of Democrats and some Republicans and not the hard liners. But I don't think we can overstate how -- what kind of a defining moment this is for Speaker Boehner. It really is, because he's got some tough decisions to make about how he's going to lead this caucus or how he's going to step back and let the caucus lead him.


CROWLEY: They were going for the republicans. This was not something that he wanted to do with a coalition. He's had a lot of defining moments with this caucus.


BLITZER: So, you'll have some Tea Party activists, 40, 50, 60 of them will definitely vote against it. But there will be a whole bunch of Republicans who'll say, you know, whether it's Peter King and other, this is way too important for the country, for the American people, for the economy.


BORGER: The conservatives will say you're not our speaker.

CROWLEY: Yes. I think that he could do that. It throws, you know, it gives him 35 to 40 and maybe more, we don't know, folks who will be furious with him because they feel -- and here's why it's difficult. None of them want Obamacare at this point. None of them want the Affordable Care Act to pass.

So, they're in this position, many Republicans in the position of saying, look, I don't like Obamacare. I just don't think this is the way to go about it. They just made it difficult.

BLITZER: We got to wrap it up, but the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, is the law. It doesn't have to pass anymore. That is the law. If they want to defund it, change the law. They don't have the votes. They don't have the votes.


BLITZER: So, they've got to make a decision right now, these House Republicans, and it's a tough decision. I'm not saying it's an easy decision. But if they don't want the government to shut down and they say they don't want the government to shut down, the only way that I see is if they accept the Senate legislation, they let the up or down vote happen in the House of Representatives and we'll see what happens next.

BORGER: But here's the point. Those republicans who will vote against this will not have any hell to pay at home, because they're playing to their constituents and their constituents agree with them. And, so, there's no punishment for them. They can do this --

BLITZER: Well, let's see if John Boehner is a profile in courage right now and decides to do what is right as opposed to what might be politically a little bit more acceptable, because nobody wants the government to shut down. There's going to be too much pain.

CROWLEY: But Dana had a good question. If they send it back to the Senate, why isn't the Senate equally responsible. I mean, you can say this side won't give, but let's face it, neither will the other side.

BLITZER: Even if the senate would have defunded Obamacare, the president would have vetoed it. There's no two-thirds override.


BLITZER: Look, you got to deal with reality. You got to deal with what's there.

BORGER: Presidential leadership comes in in the end, Wolf.

BLITZER: And speaker's leadership as well. Let's see if the speaker is really the speaker or if he's, you know, just playing to some political opportunities out there, shall we say. All right. Guys, thanks very much.

Coming up, we're going to have much more on the breaking news we're following here in the SITUATION ROOM. CNN's Reza Sayah, he is right now in Tehran, the Iranian capital. He's getting reaction to the historic phone call between the new Iranian president and President Obama. The president called him today while he was in his car driving to the airport in New York. We're going live to the Iranian capital.

Plus, the warnings are going out. We're taking a closer look at what happens to hundreds of thousands of federal workers if the government shuts down.


BLITZER: Just getting the first picture of President Obama in that historic phone call with the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani. There you see the White House photo. It's just been released. The president in the oval office, shirt and tie, speaking with Hassan Rouhani. The first time an American president has spoken with an Iranian president since 1979.

That's when the Iranian revolution took place. Remember, American diplomats were held hostage at the U.S. embassy in Tehran. They were taken from the U.S. embassy in Tehran, held hostage for 444 days. The U.S./Iranian relationship has been awful ever since. But today, a breakthrough of sorts when the president of the United States and the president of Iran spoke by phone.

And the president of the United States, President Obama, initiated that phone call. Let's get some reaction from inside Iran right now. Our CNN's Reza Sayah is on the ground in Tehran. He's joining us now. Any reaction? Are you getting official reaction, unofficial reaction? What are the folks there saying, Reza?

REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They're thrilled, Wolf. They're ecstatic. It's 1:00 a.m. here Tehran time. We got the news about a couple of hours ago. We were away from our hotel so we tried to talk to as many ordinary Iranians as possible on the phone, in person, and every single person we talked to told us that they love it that this happened.

Our cab driver on the way here said that anything, anything that it takes for us to get out of this difficult situation, he was referring to Iran's economic isolation, political isolation, the economic sanctions that Iranians have suffered through for years. If this path continues, if Washington and Tehran improve relations, it could very well be ordinary Iranians who benefit the most.

Many in America are not aware of this, but the Iranian population is one of the most educated, cultured, sophisticated populations in the region.

Recent statistics showed that 60 percent of women in Iran are educated. That's a sign of an advanced society, a society with lots of potential.

But that potential has been blocked because, in part, this -- the rivalry with the U.S., they simply haven't been able to get out of the country, take advantage of their education, and they believe that if Iranian-U.S. relations improve, this will be a golden opportunity for them. But despite the optimism, we should point out that the core issues when it comes to the nuclear program, President Rouhani hasn't indicated that he's going to move from Iran's position, a position that they've held for a very long time.

And that position is that we're not going to back down from our nuclear program, that we're going to continue to enrich uranium, it is our right, according to international law. So again, despite this phone call, despite the conciliatory overtures or the tone that President Rouhani is bringing to the U.S., still some major obstacles remain.

But everybody happy with this phone call. They believe, Iranians believe, that this is the start of what could be a golden opportunity for both countries -- Wolf.

BLITZER: But you're absolutely right, Reza. In the end the Iranians are going to have to start making some substantive concessions on their nuclear program and in exchange presumably the U.S. and the West would ease some of those very painful sanctions that have been imposed on Iran if this relationship is really going to develop, potentially as it could.

So what are you saying? That as far as Iran's nuclear program, will they open it up, will they take steps to reassure the West? As President Rouhani says, they have no desire to build a nuclear bomb?

SAYAH: That's not clear at this point. It's not clear what kind of concessions Iran is ready to make. But what we've observed here from our vantage point here in Tehran is that there are parallel realities. There's one reality in Washington and there's one reality here in Tehran.

In Tehran, their narrative, their question is, will Washington make concessions? In Washington, it's the opposite. Their narrative, their question is, will Iran make concessions? What's made people optimistic is that Iran is signaling that they're prepared to make concessions. It's not clear what that's going to be. Some have said maybe they're prepared to suspend uranium enrichment at 20 percent.

If they do that, that would seemingly make it impossible for them to produce the fuel necessary to build a bomb. Others have speculated that maybe they're prepared to open up for broader inspections, maybe some military facilities, but they've made it clear that they're not going to back down to Washington.

They don't want to be viewed as appeasing to Washington's demands, backing down to their demands, and that's why they say they want substantial gains in return. First and foremost, they want to be recognized as Washington's equal. They want Washington and Western powers to recognize their right to have a peaceful nuclear program and enrich uranium based on international law, and they want some of those economic sanctions eased -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Reza Sayah on the ground for us in the Iranian capital of Tehran, thank you very much.

Let's get some more now on that historic phone call between the presidents of the United States and Iran. Our senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh is standing by over at the United Nations.

It's very interesting, Nick, what the president actually said on this sensitive issue potentially that could lead to a breakthrough. He said, I've made clear that we respect the right of the Iranian people to access peaceful nuclear energy in the context of Iran meeting its obligations so the test will be meaningful, transparent and verifiable actions, which can also bring relief from the comprehensive international sanctions that are currently in place.

I assume that was the subject at hand when the foreign minister of Iran met with the secretary of state of the United States at the United Nations yesterday. A conversation presumably that convinced the president to make that phone call to Rouhani today.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's almost unimaginable that there hasn't been some sort of detail or nuggets laid out by Iran or the U.S. as to how this process will move forward.

What Barack Obama said was quite detailed in many ways and those comments will come back to haunt him if they were simply speculation, particularly given the policy of many hawks towards this particular area. So you must imagine during that discussion, something was laid out that gave them the confidence to allow this phone call to happen.

Just to let you know, we've now received via Twitter, where so much of this diplomacy seems to have begun, a picture of Hassan Rouhani on board his plane heading back to Tehran, it seems. Looking reasonably jovial and relaxed. You can just see it there.

So I think very much they're trying to put a positive spin on this discussion as well. But I mean, that actual phone call was probably the only way the contact could have occurred. If you look at the sequencing of diplomacy during this week, it would have been highly unlikely that handshake could have occurred before Hassan Rouhani spoke at the United Nations.

They wouldn't have taken the risk of whatever he would say in the speech coming back to haunt them and Obama would have wanted to have waited until that P5 Plus 1 historic meeting between Zarif and Kerry. So really the only window will potentially now and the phone call does make an enormous amount more sense, but I'll say, it's unlikely such a discussion would have occurred if some details weren't already on the table.

And that reference to bringing relief from the sanctions that are currently in place does seem to suggest that some sort of tit-for-tat may be on the table. Just it hasn't actually leaked out from either side yet -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. That looks like the deal. The Iranians stopping the effort they may be doing to build a nuclear bomb, the U.S. then goes ahead and starts easing some of those very painful economic sanctions on Iran. We'll see what happens on that front.

Meanwhile, Syria. The president also spoke about Syria. There's a U.N. Security Council meeting supposed to convene at 8:00 p.m. later tonight.

Nick, tell us what's going on as far as this U.S./Russian agreement to deal with Syria's chemical weapons.

WALSH: Well, there's been an unexpected snag at the last minute. It might not derail anything but it certainly could delay it. The meeting that was supposed to happen in The Hague, and that was with the U.N. monitoring group, the OPCW, who would rubber stamp the framework agreed in Geneva. That was supposed to happen at 4:00 New York time. It's now been rescheduled for 6:30.

There's been some problem in one of the sponsoring states and needs further instructions, all unexpected according to an OPCW official I have spoken to. But if it isn't rescheduled for 6:30 New York time, that's past midnight in The Hague, it will have to move until tomorrow and that will cause delays. The resolution vote until tomorrow as well -- Wolf.

BLITZER: So we'll see what happens, we'll see if that meeting actually takes place, if they can figure it out or not. Obviously an important issue as well.

Nick Paton Walsh at the United Nations. He's going to be a busy guy all weekend.

Coming up, shut down your BlackBerry and go home. Why those are the words some federal workers could be hearing if the federal government shuts down only three days from now.


BLITZER: All right. Take a look at this. An extraordinary emotional moment. As Yankees fans bid farewell to an icon. Mariano Rivera broke down in tears, pitching his final game at Yankee Stadium last night. He was embraced by long-time teammates Andy Petite and Derek Jeter.

What a moment it was. Not a dry eye in the stadium. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: With the federal government's fate in the hands of Congress right now, federal agencies are already rolling out plans for how they plan to handle a possible government shutdown on Tuesday.

Our Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence is up on Capitol Hill. He's got a closer look right now at what could happen only three days from now.

What are you seeing? What are you hearing?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, first of all, right off the bat, shut off your laptops and your government-issued BlackBerrys because it is illegal for federal workers to use them or do work of any kind while they're furloughed. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAWRENCE (voice-over): Federal employees head home for the weekend with no idea how much longer they can work. Thousands of them are already receiving notices like these, warning, you will be furloughed from your position and will be in a non-pay, non-duty status.

ROBERT HALE, DEFENSE DEPARTMENT COMPTROLLER: I'm in triage mode right now. I'm trying to help coordinate getting the department ready to shut down if we have to.

LAWRENCE: At the Pentagon and federal agencies across Washington, senior managers have been consumed with preparing their departments.

HALE: Probably thousands of hours of employee time better spent on supporting national security.

LAWRENCE: Furloughed workers might have to come to work Tuesday and have four hours to close up their office.

MIKE CAUSEY, FEDERAL NEWS RADIO: Shut down BlackBerrys, shut down equipment, and turn around and go home.

LAWRENCE: A radio station popular with federal workers has been inundated with questions.

(On camera): What's been the reaction from your listeners?

CAUSEY: Sudden panic. People are thinking about how long is this going to last, if it happens. How am I going to pay my bills?

LAWRENCE (voice-over): There is still time to avert a shutdown.

SEN. TOM HARKIN (D), IOWA: Here we are, I guess, this is like the movie "High Noon."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As soon as you walk through that door, come on, I'll hold my fire.

LAWRENCE: But right now, it's the employees being held hostage to negotiations.

BILL DOUGAN, PRESIDENTIAL, NATIONAL FEDERATION OF FEDERAL EMPLOYEES: These folks don't make a lot of money. They're by and large middle class workers. And many of them are living paycheck to paycheck.


LAWRENCE: And a lot of those workers have already lost a week of pay due to government furloughs earlier in the year and all the indications we're getting from Congress is they probably won't authorize back pay for any days missed. You could see, Wolf, why there's such a great concern.

BLITZER: Huge concern. All right. Thanks very much. Let's hope the government does not shut down. Just ahead, controversial ads designed to scare young people away from Obamacare. We're taking a closer look at who's behind them.


BLITZER: The new royal baby, Prince George, will be christened in late October. Prince William and Catherine, they've largely kept him out of the public spotlight since he left the hospital back in July.

Next, the health update on the former president, George W. Bush. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: Here's a look at some of the other top stories we're monitoring here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

The former president George W. Bush tells ABC's "Good Morning America" he's doing fine after having a stent placed in his heart last month. He also weighed in on being a new grandfather and says he's completely captured. His words. Completely captured.

The city of Detroit is getting federal help dealing with the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. Obama administration cabinet secretaries are there today with more than $300 million in government aid. It's not considered a bailout since most of the money is coming from existing national programs the city is already eligible for.

More bad news for BlackBerry, which officially announced dismal quarterly results. And today including a $965 million quarterly loss. The struggling tech giant warned of a loss a week ago also announcing plans to lay off 4500 employees by the end of the year.

Coming up at the top of the hour, a THE SITUATION ROOM special report on today's two huge breaking stories. President Obama's historic phone call with Iran's president and his new warning to Republicans about a possible government shutdown.


BLITZER: Here's a look at this hour's "Hotshots."

In South Korea, jets perform for the 65th anniversary of the Republic of Korea's armed forces. In Tanzania, a fisherman heads for the shore. In Malaysia, look at this. A base jumper leaps off a tower. And in India, a woman celebrates at a religious festival.

"Hotshots," pictures coming in from our CNN iReporters around the world. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: They've been called creepy and they're definitely controversial, so who's behind the ads encouraging young people out there to opt out of Obamacare?

CNN's Brian Todd has been investigating.

What are you finding out, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we've gotten the only TV interview so far with the maker of these ads. He is a young guy heading a group called Generation Opportunity but there are likely more powerful players behind these very controversial videos that have drawn the wrath of the White House.


TODD (voice-over): The president was fired up over an attack on his health care law.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some of the Tea Party's biggest donors, some of the wealthiest men in America, are funding a cynical ad campaign trying to convince young people not to buy health care at all.

TODD: Here's what he's apparently talking about.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take your pants off.

TODD: Two Internet ads depicting young Obamacare customers at the doctor's office for exams. In this one called "The Glove." A young guy doesn't see a rectal exam from a creepy Uncle Sam coming. In another, an examiner gets a young woman into stirrups.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Let's have a look.

TODD: Then slips out, leaving the woman at the mercy of Creepy Uncle Sam. Each ad ends with billboards saying, don't let the government play doctor. Opt out of Obamacare.

The videos have got viral. Now CNN's gotten the first TV interview with the maker of the ads. A group called Generation Opportunity. I spoke with its president, Evan Feinberg.

(On camera): Many calls these creepy and scary. Senator Patty Murray calls these deplorable and sexist. What's your response?

EVAN FEINBERG, PRESIDENT, GENERATION OPPORTUNITY: Well, frankly Obama care is creepy and scary for my generation.

TODD (voice-over): Feinberg also says the health exchanges where people will go to buy private policies under Obamacare will get too much of customers' private data.

FEINBERG: That information will span from private information such as tax information and personal financial information, but it's going to also be health status pieces of information, such as whether or not I'm sexually active.

TODD: Senior administration officials have told CNN that the exchanges will get some financial information, but not your medical history, except your age and whether you smoke. Feinberg says counter to President Obama's remark, Generations Opportunity is not encouraging young people not buy any health insurance. But there's also controversy over who's backing these ads.

OBAMA: These are billionaires several times over.

TODD: The president implies and Democratic Senator Patty Murray says flat-out that it's the Koch brothers, Charles and David Koch, strongly conservative mysterious billionaires who are behind the ads.

(On camera): Tax records show that the ads' producer, Generation Opportunity, got about $5 million from a group called Freedom Partners, between late 2011 and late 2012. We've also found that three out of the five directors of Freedom Partners are current or former executives of the Kochs' firm.

(Voice-over): When asked if Koch has a lot of influence over them, an official of Freedom Partners said its directors have expertise in different areas and they rely on that expertise. Koch Industries issues a statement saying Freedom Partners operates independently of Koch Industries. So we pressed Feinberg.

(On camera): Is the money for your group coming directly or indirectly from the Koch brothers? Yes or no?

FEINBERG: Well, we have a variety of donors and we protect their confidentiality. They're of course free to talk about their donations to us anytime. But as you know, in an era where IRS is targeting opponents of the administration all the time, I can understand why some of our donors want to keep their information confidential.


TODD: The total money spent on the ads is about $750,000, and Generation Opportunity is getting bang for its buck. So far the videos have gotten over three million hits on the Web in about a week -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And about to get a lot more.

TODD: A lot more.

BLITZER: After seeing your report probably.

TODD: Right.

BLITZER: All right. Let's talk a little about what maybe what some are suggesting as a broader strategy to try to underfund Obamacare by convincing young people not to sign up.

TODD: That appears to be the strategy behind all this. The "Washington Post" reporting that about seven million people are expected to sign up for the Obama health care plan to buy health insurance at those exchanges. Now out of those seven million, about 2.7 million of those need to be young healthy adults for the whole thing to work. If enough young healthy adults don't buy the private insurance, then the firms are -- the insurance are not going to have enough money to pay out the claims for older, sicker patients, and so the strategy here appears to be get the younger people not to buy in to Obamacare.

BLITZER: Brian Todd, reporting for us, thank you.

Happening now, a SITUATION ROOM special report on two breaking stories.


OBAMA: I spoke on the phone with President Rouhani of the Islamic Republic of Iran.


BLITZER: President Obama reveals his historic outreach to Iran. Could his phone call with the president of Iran, President Rouhani, be a game changer for the United States, indeed for the world?

Plus, the president warns Republicans who are trying to gut Obamacare to knock it off, his words, knock it off and pass a budget. His new line in the sand just three days before a possible government shutdown.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer, you're in the SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.