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Saudi Arabia Breaks Diplomatic Ties with Iran; Countdown to Iowa. Aired 7:30-8:00a ET

Aired January 4, 2016 - 07:30   ET



[07:37:30] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We do have some breaking news for you. The United Arab Emirates downgrading diplomatic ties with Iran this morning. The move follows Bahrain and Saudi Arabia who have severed ties with Iran after an attack on the Saudi embassy in Tehran.

All Iranian diplomats ordered to vacate the Saudi Kingdom within 48 hours. All of this stems from the execution of 47 prisoners by Saudi Arabia, among them a prominent Shiite cleric.

Joining us now is former Undersecretary for Political Affairs, former state Department Official and former Ambassador to Greece, Nicholas Burns.

Mister Ambassador thanks so much for being here with us this morning to help us understand what's going on. So just in the past 15 minutes...


CAMEROTA: ... Bahrain as you heard downgrade, no sorry, the UAE downgrading its diplomacy after Bahrain and Iran have severed its ties with Saudi Arabia. What does all of this mean for the Middle East and the U.S.?

NBURNS: Well, it's a dangerous development because as you know, this Shia-Sunni divide has played out in a very divisive and bloody way in Syria in Iraq and Lebanon in Yemen and elsewhere in the Middle East.

In Iran is of course the great Shia power, Saudi Arabia leads in may ways the Sunni world and so if they grow further apart if they're not talking if they're fighting through proxies in places like Syria and Yemen and they are it means unfortunately the next several months we should expect to see more violence, more dead, more refugees coming out of Syria because these countries won't be getting together I think with Saudis and Iranians to help Secretary Kerry think about a diplomatic process to end the war in Syria. I think it's a very negative development.

CAMEROTA: So ambassador, why did Saudi Arabia knowing that it would further sort of escalate things in the Middle East between Shiites and Sunnis, why did they execute this cleric? BURNS: Well, the Saudis in executing both Shaikh Nimr, the Shiite cleric but also other Sunni prisoners former al- Qaeda fighters among them obviously were trying to send a major statement against terrorism but they miscalculated. You see now open criticism about the United States about the wisdom of pouring gasoline on the fire in a Middle East where sectarian divisions were already quite pro-found.

You've also see criticism from the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and from the Prince Zeid Hussein who is the Jordanian head of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights to see a leading Arab official criticizing him as quite unusual. I think the Saudis need to understand they got to pull back from this that they and the Iranians of course have to try to reduce tensions as much as that is possible now.

[07:35:09] CAMEROTA: I mean the Saudi Arabia says that they were trying to fight terrorism but here is what we know about this Shiite cleric. You can probably build on this for us. He was 56 years old, he was renowed, he called for the downfall of the Saudi royal family, but that's different than terrorism. Was he connected to the terrorist activities?

BURNS: Well, I'm not in a position to say that he was or he was not. But I think most of the press coverage over the weekend coming from the Middle East would say that he was a virulent opponent of the Saudi regime. But the Saudis went too far both in executing Shaikh Nimr but also in the large number of people that they did at the beginning of January and to set that tone and make that statement so early in the year was obviously a miscalculation by the Saudi government.

But the Iranians of course are never blameless in these affairs. The Iranians have been running guns to the Houthi rebels in Yemen. The Iranians are the major backer right now financially but also through military force of the outsides regime in Syria.

So they're doing their part to try to spread division and to spread further inflame the wars in both Yemen and Syria. The United States obviously you can see what the United States is trying to do to talk both sides down from the ledge and to encourage both sides to reduce the rhetoric that the violent rhetoric over the last couple of days.

I think Secretary Kerry has been right to say that the Untied Nations and others have to get behind the serious diplomatic peace process in Syria, otherwise Alisyn the 12 million homeless in Syria that numbers going to grow in 2016 it's the greatest human rights catastrophe in the world today. So, what happened with the Saudis and Iranians very much plays into that very tragic scenario.

CAMEROTA: And to does this destroy what Secretary of State had been trying? I mean, he had been pressing both Iran and Saudi Arabia to come to the table and to engage in diplomacy to try to figure out what was going on in Syria. And they had reluctantly agreed to do that. So now what?

BURNS: It makes it much more difficult. Secretary Kerry is not going to give up on the peace negotiations because its' really the only hope over the long-term to try to stop the war in Syria. It may take months or a year for it to come to fruition but he's right to try. But it's just become more difficult because the two key counties that had to make compromises at that negotiating table were Saudi Arabia and Iran.

CAMEROTA: Ambassador Nicholas Burns, thank you so much for all of your expertise. Great to have you on "New Day"

BURNS: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Let's go to Michaela.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Well Alisyn as we can tell the 2016 Presidential race is really starting to heat up with the IOWA Caucuses only four weeks out. So what will this final stretch in Iowa and New Hampshire look like?

We'll take a look and break it down, coming up next.


[07:41:37] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to your New Day. We're just four weeks away from the Iowa Caucuses. This is the first opportunity for this election to be about you. At least those in that state that's going to be caucusing but then we have New Hampshire and then we have South Carolina and away we go. One of the candidates hoping to make a big show in Iowa is of course, Donald Trump. He spoke to "New Day" earlier this hour.

Joining us to discuss it is political columnist for the Des Moines Register, Kathie Obradovich.

Kathie Happy New Year to you. My first time seeing you since then. Why'd you pick up on a Trump? We did want to cover as many topics because when to get to a little bit more of why he believes what he believes, gun control, this stuff about what to do with Clinton in the upcoming back and forth. What did you make?

KATHIE OBRADOVICH, POLITICAL COLUMNIST THE DES MOINES REGISTER: Well, I thought it was very interesting that he drew a line of between speaking out against morality for your business partners or your political opponents. In that kind of situational morality that he outlined is not something that will win the hearts of evangelicals in Iowa. And evangelical Christians are a big block of voters. Donald Trump also I think by taking this particular line of attack is reminding those religious folk in Iowa that he hasn't always been a choirboy himself.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Because you know what's he's saying is that he did support the Clintons in the past, he liked Bill Clinton. He spoke out about the GOP going after Bill Clinton for his indiscretions. He thought that was wrong, he thought it would never pay off with voters. Today he's trying a different tact.

So what is the feeling on the ground Kathie in Iowa as your state and this month heats up? Are you gearing up? Is the situation ripe for another big surprise in Iowa? OBRADOVICH: If there is sort of a feeling like anything can happen. And certainly there are a lot of candidates who are hoping that that is true. You've got a top tier of four candidates who have been in double digits, Trump being one. But Ted Cruz is his closest competition, and Ted Cruz led polls leading into the holidays. I think you know where a Trump versus Cruz contest for February 1st is definitely I think something we're watching for. Ben Carson has been on the slide. He was still in double digits. Can somebody knock him out of the top three? And then Marco Rubio as possibly a mainstream choice, but can somebody come up from behind like Jeb Bush or maybe even Chris Christie who's been lagging behind in the polls and take that place in the winner's circle for mainstream Republicans.

It does feel like anything can happen because four years ago, Rick Santorum came out of nowhere and won the caucuses.

CUOMO: Well that's true, that's true. He did. He did and as we said earlier, Hillary being third was somewhat of a surprise for people there. She had Barrack Obama and she had Edwards in front of her.

So, let me ask you something though, how surprised will you be if it's not Cruz or Trump?

OBRADOVICH: If it's not Cruz or Trump, I think that will be a surprise...

CUOMO: Right? Yeah I think so.

OBRADOVICH: If both of them have run a very smart campaign. Both of them have, you know, I think captured excitement for voters. Cruz has helped -- has started to consolidate evangelicals which is that important voting blocks that I mentioned.

[07:45:01] But, a lot can happen in the final weeks. We've got two debates. We'll probably see some negative campaigning, possibly some revelations, negative revelations about somebody's candidates. How the candidates react to that is often crucial.

And also organization, can their organizations deliver on that support that they've been trying to build in Iowa? You know, I think that both Ted Cruz and Donald Trump have pretty good organizations but they're both untested. And so we'll have to see how those organizations perform.

CAMEROTA: But Kathie, let's talk about that ground game. Because we're getting some information from your site, The Des Moines Register site, that this week in terms of the events, the candidates' events, Ted Cruz has 28 events in Iowa. He is all in. Mike Huckabee has 25 events in Iowa. He's a believer in Iowa. But we see that Donald Trump might not have any Ben Carson, might not have any Jeb Bush. Is that right?

OBRADOVICH: Yes so it's not just what the candidates are doing. It's what their organizations are doing when the candidates aren't here. You know and I think it's important for candidates to be on the ground and I'll be surprised that Donald Trump doesn't add Iowa events to his schedule. Ben Carson, if he's writing off Iowa, I think that that's a mistake. He still has support here and can still be a top contender. But, you know, you also have when the candidates are here, you also have to have an organization behind him or her who is getting those people signed up and committed to caucus and signed up as precinct chairs and signed up to help recruit other people. And that can go on even when the candidate is not here.

CUOMO: And by the way, you made a very interesting point. Let's circle back to it. So Donald Trump is saying, look, don't call me sexist because Hillary Clinton because Bill Clinton is one of the worst abusers of women ever. You could see that as a moral position to be taking. You know, I'll talk about who's good and who's bad. What's right and wrong, what's good and what's evil. But you're saying the way that Donald Trump is doing it may not appeal to the evangelical base in Iowa. Why?

OBRADOVICH: Well, because I think what he told you was that he didn't speak out strongly against Bill Clinton when he needed him as a political ally. And now he is, because he's fair game as a political opponent. That sort of situational morality is not something that goes with the grain of evangelical Christians.

In other words, if you think what he's doing is wrong, you should speak out against him even if he's a political ally and somebody that you need. And not just, you know, turn a blind eye or be silent because it's somebody that you want to use.

That kind of thing, you know, is it happens all the time in Washington. People feel like principles get compromised for political gain and that is something that evangelical Christians hate about Washington and want to change.

CAMEROTA: Kathie Obradovich, we will call upon you for the rest of this month. Thank you so much for being with us.

OBRADOVICH: All right thank you.

CAMEROTA: Michaela.

PEREIRA: All right Alisyn. Comedian Bill Cosby's wife Camille has been ordered to testify in a civil case against her husband. The judge's setting no limit to the scope of questioning. What, if anything, does she know and how will it impact other proceedings?


[07:52:09] PEREIRA: In two days time, Camille Cosby is expected to testify the defamation case brought against her husband by seven women who claim that he sexually assaulted them. Efforts to overturn her subpoena were denied by a judge on New Year's Eve.

This blow for Bill Cosby's camp comes just days after the comedian was arraigned in Pennsylvania court on felony sexual assault charges in a separate case.

Joining us this morning, to weigh through it all our attorney and Radio Personality Mo Ivory, Happy New Year, and Criminal Defense and Civil Trial Attorney Midwin Charles, she's here with me, say Happy New Year to you.


PEREIRA: Ladies a lot of things going on. I think we should probably start with the strategy. What are the accusers hoping to gain from hearing her deposition?

CHARLES: Well, you have to remember that Bill Cosby filed a countersuit against these women and in that countersuit, he says, "You know what, this defamation action has impacted my business endeavors." I've had television shows canceled. I've had you know, a show that I was going to do with Netflix that got pulled.

And so Camille Cosby was his business manager so she's going to have vital information with respect to whether or not that is true. So that's one of things that I think t, these women are hoping to get from her deposition testimony.

PEREIRA: So that Mo the big question that everybody here in studio is asking, wait, wait, wait, isn't there some sort of spousal privilege? Isn't there some sort of rule preventing a spouse from testifying against a husband?

MO IVORY, ATTORNEY & RADIO PERSONALITY: Sure, well, of course we've all heard of the, you know, you know, you don't have to testify against your husband, and there's a, you know, courts don't want spouses to be put in the position where they have to testify against each other and criminate (ph) each other. But it is a privilege, it is not constitutional right. And it can be, in certain instances, you know, are not allowable and that is the case here for many reasons.

First of all, the biggest one, she acts as his business manager. I think that's the biggest place where they went wrong because if she was just purely acting as his wife, she would have had a better chance of winning the privilege argument. But she also has a lot of information about what came. This is a defamation lawsuit, so his representatives have been saying, oh, these women are lying, she even sort of intimated. Well, that's not the Bill I know, that I don't think any of thing are true.


IVORY: So had the information about what people in his camp, around him for many years have been saying about accusations that date back for many, many years. So she is crucial but I have to say, I don't think she is willing, I don't think she is going t be cooperative and I don't think that this is going to go well for gaining some hot button information that they want to get from her. I just don't think it's going to happen.

PEREIRA: So here's the question then, so Midwin if you are Cosby Reps, how do you contravene that? How do you attack that? If they are coming at you with those kind of question? Because they're going come not only as a wife, question as Camille, the wife but also Camille the business partner. [07:55:01] CHARLES: Right well, Camille is not a party to this case so that's one of the reason why you saw the motions going back and forth with respect to the deposition.

Bill Cosby's attorney, will also be there and what he's going to do or she Monique Pressley, I believe is going to object each time they asked a question that is inappropriate or sort of out of the box. I do all the time when I take depositions and when I defend them as well.

But it's important to draw the distinction between Spousal Privilege which exist in criminal cases and the Spousal Disqualifications Rule that exists.

PEREIRA: OK, explain that first.

IVORY: Yeah.

CHARLES: And so Spousal Disqualification basically says, "You know what marital communications are private and you cannot talk about them during a civil deposition or even a criminal trial." But it's only oral communications, in other words, if she sent him an e-mail, if she sent him a text message, if she wrote to him as the wife that does not fall within the Spousal Disqualification Rule.

PEREIRA: Right, very complicated.

IVORY: Or if she saw something, yeah or if she saw something. You know if they ask her a question relating to an action by Bill Cosby that was not a communication between the two of them, she could have to answer the question. Did you ever see him do this? Did you ever see him do that, you know?

PEREIRA: If you're representing Camille Cosby, how would you advise her to go into this?

CHARLES: Oh, and I do this carefully. Carefully, very carefully, and I do this with each one of my clients, only answer the question that you are asked never --

PEREIRA: We have a tendency to over answer that way, yes.

CHARLES: We all do as human beings. It's just normal when you have a communication, you know, with someone, you always want to sort of expound and want to sort of appear as though you are innocent and you have so much to offer, do not do that.

PEREIRA: Well, it's interesting because, you know, well they've been married 52 years since she was 19 years old. There's going to be so much interest in all of this. First of all, do you think it's going to be made public, what the results of the deposition? Mo?

IVORY: You know it could be that's yet -- listen, Monique Pressley and the rest of the Cosby, our legal team are going to fight tooth-and- nail...

PEREIRA: Right. IVORY: ... to keep things as private as possible. Motions are going to fly back and forth. We'll yet to know whether that will ever become public. But there will be a huge fight as to whether it becomes public.

But I want to comment on what Midwin said about, you know, answer very briefly or whatever. You're also asking her to recollect information from decades, you know, big questions are going to come up about, what happened, you know, 30 years ago or 40 years ago? She can very well say, I cannot remember. I cannot remember, I do not recall.

PEREIRA: But here's something that's important. We wouldn't be here if it hadn't been for a previous deposition to begin with. So, I'm curios, how much in this deposition is going to play in future proceedings? For example, we know the criminal case -- Cosby's next court date is what, January 14th. This deposition is set to happen this Wednesday.


PEREIRA: How valuable is this going to be?

CHARLES: Well, I think it's going to be valuable from the attorney's perspectives because they're going to understand in terms of what is the best strategy going forward? I don't know whether this deposition transcript is going to be made public in time for the next hearing date. It's going to be up to the judge. I'm sure, obviously, these women will want it to be public, and I'm sure Bill Cosby's camp will want it to not be public and so they'll file the necessary motions. But I will say that I thought it was skillful on Bill Cosby's team, to at least ask the judge.

Listen, if you're going to grant this motion and say she has to be deposed, can you at least make it narrow in scope? The judge denied it in its entirety.


IVORY: Well, she'll have to answer everything.

PEREIRA: It is going to be interesting to see what happens on Wednesday. We'll be talking to both of you, I'm sure. Thank you so much, Midwin and Mo.

CHARLES: Thank you.

IVORY: You're welcome

PERIERA: We are following a whole lot of news, so let's get to it.


JEB BUSH, (R) PRESEDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump, I don't believe, is going to be the party's nominee. If he is, he's going to get crushed by Hillary Clinton.

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She's got one of the great woman abusers of all time sitting at her house.

BERNIE SANDERS (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People who should not own guns should not be able to buy them.


PERIERA: Saudi Arabia is severing ties with Iran.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This after protesters attacked the Saudi Embassy in Tehran on Saturday.

PEREIRA: Sparked by Saudi Arabia's execution of a dissident Shia cleric.

COUMO: Armed the anti-government protests -- at federal wildlife refuge in Oregon.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And in order for us to prosper as a people, we have to have access to the land and resources.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is "New Day" with Chris Cuomo, Alisyn Camerota and Michaela Pereira.

CHRIS COUMO: Good morning, welcome to your "New Day" this Monday, January 4th, 8:00 in the east and this is it, the stretch run. Real votes begin being cast in 2016 presidential election in just weeks.

First up, of course the Iowa caucuses, 28 days away, then you have the first regular Primary in New Hampshire eight days after that, so there will be this momentum and votes coming in. The hopefuls for both parties are hitting the trail, more than two dozen campaign events today alone.

[08:00:01] CAMEROTA: GOP frontrunner Donald Trump starting out 2016 on the attack. You'll hear more from Chris' conversation with Trump which was earlier on "New Day", that's in just a moment.

But first let's go to CNN's Athena Jones, she's live in New Hampshire Fort, what's the latest on the trail, Athena?