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Chinese Prepare for Conflict in North Korea; Trump Asks for Multiagency Review of Iran Nuclear Deal; Interview with Georgia Senate Candidate Jon Ossoff; Black Market Still Thrives in Colorado After Legalizing Marijuana. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired April 20, 2017 - 14:30   ET



[14:33:17] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: A U.S. official says China is preparing for a possible North Korea event. We're told the U.S. has seen an extraordinary number of Chinese aircraft getting ready. This comes as North Korea has increased threats over the possibility of a pre-emptive strike if President Trump escalates his own tough talk on the world stage. Already, in a stare-down with North Korea, Team Trump is now lashing out at Iran.


REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: The Trump administration has no intention of passing the buck to a future administration on Iran. The evidence is clear, Iran's provocative actions threaten the United States, the region, and the world.


CABRERA: This, as President Trump asks for a multiagency review to determine whether lifting sanctions in exchange for Tehran curbing its nuclear program is really in the national interests.

Joining me now, Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN's "Fareed Zakaria, GPS."

First, the State Department came out saying that Iran was complying with this nuclear deal and now we hear from Secretary of State Tillerson saying that they are reviewing the deal and saying that Iran could become the next North Korea and they're concerned about that.

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, FAREED ZAKARIA, GPS: It's part of a series of statements made by Trump and senior officials which are all bluster. There is no military strike that's possible. The United States has reviewed that option many times.

In the case of Iran, we say we are going to do a multiagency review. Remember, the rest of the world has dropped their sanctions on Iran. Chinese companies are doing business with Iran. If the United States decided to re-impose sanctions, we'd be out there alone. Iran would be trading with the rest of the world and reaping all the benefits of the sanctions. The only people who would be affected, who would be disadvantaged, would be American companies.

[14:35:19] CABRERA: And would that create a fallout with our allies, who are also part of this deal?

ZAKARIA: Absolutely. It would create a fallout. There's no evidence that they have violated the deal. The international atomic agency says that they ae complying. Iran does other things that the United States doesn't like but they are not related to the nuclear deal. The nuclear deal was related to one thing, as the word implies, nuclear.

But it's part of a pattern that the Trump administration's foreign policy is bellicose threats and not a lot of backup. There are these threats issued and nothing ever happens. The threats are hollow.

CABRERA: So people are now saying, is the administration bluffing? You heard that with the "USS Carl Vinson" debacle in which we heard from the president that there was this armada heading to the Korean peninsula when, in fact, it wasn't heading there at that moment.

Let's listen to what the president said initially.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are sending an armada, very powerful. We have submarines, very powerful. Far more powerful than the aircraft carrier, that I can tell you.


CABRERA: So that was nine days ago. Now we learn it is going to head to that. But it made it sound like it was an imminent thing, either in the region or on its way when he made those comments. In fact, South Korea is calling Trump a liar for those comments, that an armada was on its way. How bad is it that our allies are saying that you can't trust what the Trump administration is saying, that they are bluffing?

ZAKARIA: The South Koreans are honestly freaked out because they are watching this administration issue these threats to North Korea. Remember, if North Korea retaliates, it will not be against the United States. They are in the line of fire. Seoul is 35 miles from the North Korean border. Many of the population live close to the border. When I say blow back, I mean nuclear weapons and I mean that quite literally, that they would receive from Trump's rhetoric and they worry about this bizarre case of the ship moving in the opposite direction that the president of the United States said. A perfect example of hallow rhetoric. And then they worry about the fact that Donald Trump talked about how Korea is part of China, which is parroting a Beijing propaganda line that is not really historically accurate. It's contested, at the very least. They put all of that together and what they are trying to wonder is what is going on in Washington and does Washington have our back the way it has had since the Korean War? I've never seen this much fallout for a close U.S. ally, and we are not even at 100 days of the administration.

CABRERA: And that's some of the news coming out of South Korea. It also follows the vice president's trip to South Korea which he was there to affirm the U.S. Backing its ally South Korea.

ZAKARIA: A great example of how a great photo op does not make for great foreign policy. The photo of Mike pence looking over the DMZ was great but --


CABRERA: Very quickly -- I'm sorry. Very briefly, the satellite image from North Korea showing volleyball nets and volleyball. What do you make of that? What's the message here?

ZAKARIA: North Koreans play sports as well. I don't think there's much to it. We're always fascinating because it's such a weird country.

CABRERA: At a nuclear site.

ZAKARIA: Those guys also need recreation. I don't know. My guess is as good as yours but I think we tend to look at these things from the prism. Everything looks strange.

[14:39:24] CABRERA: All right. Fareed Zakaria, always good to get your take. Thank you.

Coming up, Bernie Sanders speaking out about the special election in Georgia. He says he doesn't know if Georgia Democrat Jon Ossoff is a true progressive. Jon Ossoff responds, live, next.


CABRERA: Democrats have been looking for a long-shot win in the red state of Georgia, pinning their hopes on a 30-year-old who has never held office in his life. Jon Ossoff was a few percentage points shy of avoiding a runoff in the Georgia district that has gone staunchly Republican since the late 1970s.

This comes as state Democrats struggle to get on the same page. The Democratic Unity Tour getting off to kind of a rough start. I want to show you how a Kentucky crowd reacted to the introduction of Senator Bernie Sanders and then new DNC chairman, Dan Perez. Watch.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You guys, we have two minutes left. OK? So maybe you came because you're curious about the new DNC chairman and the future of the Democratic policy.



CABRERA: OK, Jon, there seems to be two crowds in that video. The Sanders crowd chanting "Bernie," and you heard the response when they were introducing the DNC chair. Keeping in mind, Senator Sanders questioned whether you're a real

progressive, which side of that room are you on?

JON OSSOFF, (D), GEORGIA SENATE CANDIDATE: Well, maybe it's because I'm a little new to the scene, Ana -- and thank you for having me -- but I'm not interested in ideological labels or purity tests. I'll tell you where I stand on the issues, and then I'll let the pundits decide how to label me. I want to cut wasteful spending to prioritize research and development, infrastructure and higher education. I'm pro-choice and pro-LGBT rights. I'm pro-campaign finance reform. I think we need a tough, smart foreign policy that takes it to our enemies without getting bogged down in foreign land wars. I'll leave it to you to figure out where I stand on the ideological spectrum.

[14:45:27] CABRERA: OK. So tell me this, would you vote for Nancy Pelosi if the Democrats were take the majority?

OSSOFF: I haven't given it an ounce of thought.

CABRERA: Why not?

OSSOFF: Because I'm focused on winning an election here in Georgia's sixth district, not a potential leadership contest in the U.S. House of Representatives that's at least a year and a half away.

CABRERA: But that's how Democrats get things done, right, if you're to be part of that governing body.

OSSOFF: And there's a lot of time between now and then. There's plenty of time for Democrats to work out what's going to happen at the national level. What I can tell you is that here in Georgia's sixth district, there's unprecedented unity and it's not just Democrats. It's independents and Republicans interested in fresh leadership that moves beyond partisanship.

CABRERA: Let's talk about leadership. Keith Ellison offered a pretty surprising critique of the former president, President Obama, saying that President Obama was responsible for Trump's win. Listen.


REP. KEITH ELLISON, (D), MINNESOTA: Barack Obama could have been a better party leader. And I think that the fact that he wasn't has put his legacy in jeopardy. We lost a lot of statehouse seats. His true legacy is in danger. And I don't think he can say he wasn't part of those losses. I mean, who else?


CABRERA: Jon, do you agree? Was President Obama responsible?

OSSOFF: Well, Mr. Ellison was a leader in the DNC and it's his role to think about national strategy. But Democrats, Republicans, independents here in Georgia's sixth district are not interested in relitigating. Intraparty fights or intrigue in Washington from --


CABRERA: How do you avoid the errors of the past, then, if you don't reflect?

OSSOFF: Well, it's always useful to reflect on the past. And what I am doing, having reflected on the past, is focusing like laser on economic development, bringing more jobs and investment to the community, and shared values in the community that bring people together, instead of focusing on divisive issues and the kind of politics that drives people apart.

CABRERA: Health care is a big domestic policy. Would you have voted for Obamacare in 2010 if you were a member?

OSSOFF: Well, given that it brought critical consumer protections, that now I think have been widely recognized in Congress is essential to young people, women, folks with pre-existing conditions, I think I would have supported it. I can tell you this, there is plenty of room for improvement. There's so much interest in looking backwards. I don't think that voters and the American people are interested in looking backwards. I think they are interested in looking forwards and looking forward we need to fix what is broken in Obamacare and keep what works.

CABRERA: Let me ask you about foreign policy. Do you think the U.S. should directly negotiate with North Korea?

OSSOFF: Well, I think diplomacy should be fully exhausted before there's any discussion of war. So whether that means by lateral talks or talks mediated by third parties that can get the message across, I don't think it's wise --


CABRERA: So what President Trump said on the campaign trail, that he would negotiate directly with Kim Jong-Un, do you think that's a good idea?

OSSOFF: I think we should engage in diplomacy with every country on earth and when we're talking about war, this is not a game. This is millions of lives at stake. This is U.S. Servicemen and women who could be killed in action overseas. This isn't just pundits talking politics, who is up, who is down in any given day. Diplomacy should be exhausted before we go to war and I don't think any administration has the right without congressional approval.

CABRERA: So do you agree or disagree with the action that we saw the president take in Syria without congressional approval launching the military strikes?

OSSOFF: Well, what we're talking about, enforcing against the chemical weapons against civilians, if U.S. Intelligence confirms that the Syrian military struck civilians with swift, punitive strike to enforce that international norm was a reasonable response but anything further should require Congressional approval and we shouldn't get drawn in to a ground war that can't be resolved with ground military power.

[14:50:02] CABRERA: Jon Ossoff, thank you. Great to have you on.

OSSOFF: Great to be on. Anytime, Ana. Thank you.

CABRERA: Thanks.

Coming up next, today is April 20th, 4/20, and in the world of marijuana users, it's a holiday. You're looking at live pictures from the 4/20 rally in Denver. And while pot is legal in Colorado, police say there is still a thriving black market. Don't miss this.


CABRERA: Let's take you live to Colorado where marijuana enthusiasts are lighting up today. This is the annual 4/20 celebration in Denver, an unofficial holiday for pot lovers. Analysts forecast the legal marijuana market nationally will top $21 billion by 2020. Colorado alone, one of the first states, of course, to legalize the drug for recreational use, saw more than a billion dollars in sales just last year. Yet, law enforcement tells us there's a thriving black market as criminals try to cash in, too.



[14:55:18] CABRERA (voice-over): Plant after plant, filling room after room.

WALTERS: This is room number three.

CABRERA: Illegal cannabis busted by law enforcement in Colorado. These are images from inside alleged criminal enterprises hiding in plain sight under the guise of the legal state pot laws, which regulates who and how much legal pot people can grow.

(on camera): Do you find people are coming here with the intent to create a marijuana or pot trafficking ring?

WALTERS: There's no doubt in my mind.

CABRERA (voice-over): Arapahoe County Sheriff David Walters says it's a growing concern. Just last year, his narcotics team alone seized more than $3 million in illegal pot products.

WALTERS: It's everywhere. It can be in any neighborhood. We see them everywhere.

CABRERA: He drove us to a home in a wealthy subdivision southeast of Denver. A fire initially brought officials here. In the end, hundreds of pot plants and paraphernalia were seized.

Another bust here in this suburban neighborhood, and yet again, at this warehouse facility also in the same county. This is not a commercial cultivation licensed by the state yet video provided to CNN shows marijuana in every stage of the growing process. Nearly 2,000 plants.

Walters says Colorado legalizing marijuana has strained his department.

(on camera): I'm curious if you see anything positive about the legalization of marijuana in Colorado.




CABRERA (voice-over): The future of marijuana's legal use and sale remains in question under the Trump administration.

JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I, as you know, am dubious about marijuana.

CABRERA: Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been a vocal critic, but so far hasn't had the Justice Department intervene where marijuana has been legalized.

JOHN HICKENLOOPER, (D), COLORADO GOVERNOR: We're partway into this, one of the great social experiments of this century, I think. And I think it would be short-sided to retreat.

CABRERA (voice-over): We spoke with the sheriff who says he feels like it's worse than ever in that marijuana issues and problems are taxing his resources.

HICKENLOOPER: What is he talking about? That means he wasn't doing his job before.

CABRERA: Wasn't that part of the argument, that you would get rid of the black market?


CABRERA (voice-over): It's still alive. Something the governor acknowledges. He says state regulators are working to address that.

HICKENLOOPER: We might lower the taxes.

CABRERA (on camera): Why?

HICKENLOOPER: To make it harder on the black market.

CABRERA: So make the pot cheaper for people?

HICKENLOOPER: Exactly. But someone who is doing it illegally, then they are not going to make as much of a profit. And we're going to raise the penalties. If you get caught illegally selling marijuana, you'll have a higher penalty to pay. CABRERA (voice-over): 16 people were indicted in March on a slew of

charges, ranging from distribution of marijuana to racketeering to money laundering, as part of raids involving some 200 local, state and federal officials. The suspects allegedly pumped out 300 pounds of illegal pot per month for at least three years. Authorities say they were shipping and selling to people in Arkansas, Illinois and Missouri.

UNIDENTIFIED DEA AGENT IN CHARGE: We're seeing ourselves as a larger source of supply for all our outlying states than what we were before.

CABRERA: It's an issue that, if not addressed, could threaten not just Colorado but the country's cannabis experiment.


CABRERA: Governor Hickenlooper advises the other states contemplating legalizing marijuana to wait, as clearly Colorado continues to have some growing pains -- no pun intended -- more than three years since recreational sales began there.

In response to the governor, the Arapahoe County sheriff says he invites Governor Hickenlooper to come speak with him directly to the district attorney to get more information about what's happening in their county.

The sheriff wants to remind everybody that pot is still illegal federally, even though more half of the states have legalized some form of marijuana for either medical or recreational use.

A special new series called "Sound Track" premiers tonight. And Brooke Baldwin sat down with Sheryl Crow to talk about the power of the protest song.


SHERYL CROW, SINGER: Some of the greatest protests came out of the movements. Certainly, Martin Luther King, certainly, the Vietnam War. That moment in our history brought us some of the greatest protest songs ever. There have been protests songs being written well before, with "This Land Is Your Land," which is one of the quintessential protest songs. It's not celebrating that this land is beautiful. And it's celebrating the cynicism that there was a moment in our history where people didn't believe that this land was their land. And songs like "What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye.