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Interview with Mayor John McNally; ISIS Claims Responsibility for Manila Attack; Trump Officials Sought to Lift Russia Sanctions?; Bourdain Heads to Antarctica; Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired June 2, 2017 - 10:30   ET


[10:30:00] MAYOR JOHN MCNALLY (D), YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO: And being a leader on the issue of climate change is one of those, so I'd like to see the president reconsider his decision as soon as possible.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: So you were not the only city that was called out. Pittsburgh got a big shout-out yesterday from the president. Here's how the mayor of Pittsburgh responded.


MAYOR BILL PEDUTO (D), PITTSBURGH: I call it false hope. And I know them. I know them personally. They live around our city. I have family that lives in West Virginia. And what I say to them is look at the example of what Pittsburgh was able to do. If there was ever a hope from the Paris agreement in an example of a city, I mean, Anderson, our air was so bad, we had to have our street lights on 24 hours. But we understood that we would build out a new economy and it would take time.


HARLOW: So what he's going to do in response, he told Anderson, is this morning sign an executive order that outlines that the city of Pittsburgh will stick to the 2030 Environmental and Climate Guidelines and meet all their benchmark goals as they existed before the U.S. pulled out of this deal. Are you thinking about doing something similar?

MCNALLY: Yes, I think a lot of this discussion will be taken back to our city council. And I think that's one of the benefits of the discussion that's taking place right now is that cities all across the Midwest, what we typically call the rustbelt areas, I think are going to get more involved in this discussion about climate change and the Paris Accords and the president's actions yesterday.

I think you're going to look at groups like the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities, the Ohio Mayors Alliance, really push their city members in smaller cities especially, to get more involved in the issue of climate change and to become more knowledgeable about it. I think that's a challenge for a lot of us, to make sure we're up to speed on this and to move our forward city.

Here in downtown Youngstown in the past three years we've built up three new apartment buildings. We had the first hotel in downtown Youngstown in 50 years being constructed, all highly energy-efficient buildings. Our new city courthouse will be opened up later on this year.


MCNALLY: A very energy-efficient building. We all have to take certain steps to reduce our carbon footprint. For smaller cities that don't have the resources of the larger cities across the country and across the globe --

BERMAN: Yes, Mayor.

MCNALLY: We have to make sure we're involved in this process as well.

BERMAN: All right. Mayor John McNally of Youngstown, Ohio, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it, sir.

MCNALLY: Thank you, guys.

HARLOW: All right, so, on this show and on this network, we value facts, and you have heard the president promise to bring back coal jobs, a lot of them, and to end the economic misery that far too many Americans are coping with.

Well, President Trump signed an executive order in March to reverse limits on the use of coal. He told a group of miners at that ceremony, you are going back to work.

In Kentucky, a woman named Donna Kumer, who manages a gas station, told us after the election the coal trucks are out. So here are some facts.

BERMAN: OK, coal jobs in Kentucky alone have fallen 64 percent since the end of 2011, U.S. coal jobs have fallen 50 percent since the end of 2011, and a driving reason for this is that electricity in the United States, more of it came from natural gas than coal.

The amount of coal used to produce electricity in the U.S. has fallen about 35 percent since 2007. Why? Because natural gas prices have plunged. The cost to produce natural gas fell 71 percent from 2008 to 2016, while coal fell only 8 percent during that time.

Last week the president's top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, said coal doesn't even make that much sense anymore as a fee stock.

HARLOW: Facts, 1700 coal jobs have been added since the election. There are about 50,000 coal miners in America right now. Point of comparison for you, JCPenney, the big retailer, they employ about 104,000 workers.

A coal mine is set to open in western Pennsylvania on June 8th. 70 to 100 people will be employed there full time.

BERMAN: All right, still ahead for us, a deadly attack inside a casino. 37 people dead. Was this ISIS or not?


[10:38:27] HARLOW: Who is behind the deadly attack at that resort in Manila? ISIS this morning is claiming responsibility, but the police in the Philippines dispute that. They say this was a robbery with no connection to terror.

BERMAN: The death toll now at 37. There were shots fired there, gambling tables set on fire.

CNN senior international correspondent Ivan Watson joins us now with the latest.

Ivan, what are you learning?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, we've got various ISIS sources that are claiming this was an ISIS attack at this casino and hotel, which resulted in the deaths of 37 people. They're putting out claims saying that they were targeting Christian warriors, as they described it.

But the Philippine government says the opposite. They say there are no connections to terror, that the gunman wasn't shooting people. He set fire to casino gambling tables using a can of gasoline that he poured over it, and they say if he was truly a jihadi militant, he would have been shooting the people.

They also claim that he tried to steal millions of dollars worth of casino chips, another one of the arguments that they're using to argue that this was a robbery and not a terrorist attack -- John and Poppy.

BERMAN: All right, Ivan Watson. Some confusing explanations right there. Thanks for keeping us updated. Appreciate it.

A significant development this morning in the investigation into the terror attack in Manchester, England. Police have located a car that might help them track the movements of the bomber in the days leading up to the attack.

HARLOW: Authorities have evacuated the area. They're looking at this vehicle. We'll show it to you. It's said to be a white Nissan Micra. I think we have it.

[10:40:05] They're asking for the public's help, if anyone has any information.

According to a new report, the Trump administration had a secret plan to drop sanctions against Russia. That is according to one report. It sparked a behind-the-scenes battle, apparently, inside of the State Department. What happened? You'll hear next from someone who was in the middle of that battle.


BERMAN: All right, a new report this morning from Yahoo! News. A former State Department official says there was a secret effort by the incoming Trump administration to drop the sanctions that President Obama placed on Russia during a transition.

HARLOW: And what followed was an intense, behind-the-scenes battle pitting former Obama officials and State Department officials against the incoming Trump administration team.

Joining us now is the State Department employee who broke this story. He spoke first to Yahoo! News, former U.S. ambassador Dan Fried served as chief coordinator for sanctions until he retired just recently in February.

Thank you for being here, Ambassador.


HARLOW: Let's go through this bit by bit, detail by detail. What did you see and by whom?

FRIED: In the early days and weeks of the Trump administration, a number of colleagues throughout the government approached me to say that they believed the Trump administration was planning to unilaterally lift sanctions on Russia.

Now lifting sanctions on Russia is something we want to do when the Russians have, well, met the conditions and solved the problem for which sanctions were put on in the first place. But lifting sanctions without the Russians doing anything, as a free gift, struck me -- strikes me now -- as a bad, bad idea. My colleagues were concerned about this and so was I at the time.

BERMAN: You said lifting sanctions is something we want to do at the appropriate time, but who's we here, Ambassador? Because if the Trump administration after January 20th, you know, the president was in power, isn't the we that matters the current administration?

FRIED: Well, that's certainly right, and it's in the president's -- it's the president's prerogatives to lift sanctions. But now and subsequently, the Trump administration has said that it will keep sanctions in place until the Russians are, well, out of eastern Ukraine, more or less. But when I said we want to lift sanctions, the we in that case is, was the outgoing Obama administration, but also our European allies, the Canadians also, the Japanese, the Australians. In other words, a coalition of the world's leading democracies all impose sanctions together in response to Russia's aggression against Ukraine.

And we all agreed that we would put on the sanctions together and we would take off the sanctions together at the right time. Now it's the right of the incoming administration to change this policy, but they -- I would hope they would do so after thinking it through and doing it in a rush and without good reason related to an American interest I can identify struck me as a bad idea.

HARLOW: We should note you're a career diplomat. You've worked under Republican and Democratic presidents before.

FRIED: That's right.

HARLOW: What do you do about it? Because there is reporting that you went to Senator Ben Cardin to try to do something about it, to try to pass some legislation that would impact the ability to do this. Is that correct and can you detail what you did for us?

FRIED: Well, I have enormous respect for Senator Cardin. I did not meet with him after the change of administration, but it is true that I was in regular contact with congressional staff. And although I never have lobbied them, I did feel obligated to share what I knew. And officials in the executive branch regularly are asked and offer to work with the Congress. And I take that seriously.

We should be working with the Congress. That doesn't mean that we don't -- that we share everything or that we agree.


FRIED: But I think it was important on the issue of sanctions to work in both a bipartisan way, which I did during the administration, and to work across the branches of government, which I also did, yes.

BERMAN: Would it be a fair interpretation -- because at the time, you were under the employ of the State Department, you were a U.S. government employee.

FRIED: Quite right.

BERMAN: Would it be a fair interpretation that you were working against the policy of the administration that you were working for at the time?

FRIED: Oh, not at all. If there had been a policy of the administration to lift the sanctions, whether I liked it or not, I would respect it. That's my job. That's my professional obligation. What I was reacting to was simply a rumor that some people in the incoming administration were going to make a very bad decision. That's different. Once a decision is taken, all of us career people are supposed to and we do salute and carry it out to the best of my ability, and I would have done so.

HARLOW: Ambassador, you say this is based on a rumor. And at the beginning of the interview, you say they believed, and you call it a very bad decision. Isn't that your opinion that it would be a very bad decision to lift these sanctions at that time? And is this any more than just rumors? Is there anything you witnessed or heard yourself firsthand?

FRIED: I heard firsthand from a number of people within the administration who were in a position to know. That's all I'll say. I won't get into the detail.

BERMAN: Can I ask you, Ambassador?

FRIED: Yes. BERMAN: Can I ask you, Ambassador? Did you see any evidence that the

Trump administration, at that point, the Trump transition, had set anything in motion prior to the inauguration? Because then that would be a different story here.

[10:50:14] FRIED: I didn't see anything concrete. I know nothing more than is in the public domain. That is the statements made by the Trump campaign during the campaign. Those are familiar. And what is in the public record. That is simply -- that was politics. But after the inauguration, when I heard that actually this might happen very quickly, that there were plans being carried out to lift sanctions, something I can and I'm not now verifying, but something I heard from a number of people, I was concerned.

Now, you're right, if it were policy, if that were the set policy of the administration, that's one thing. But if it's simply an idea, well, people have -- in my position, I think, have an obligation to push back and explain why we think it's a bad idea.

BERMAN: Right. Ambassador Dan Fried --

FRIED: And giving away something for nothing to the Russians strikes me as bad policy.

BERMAN: Ambassador Dan Fried, we appreciate you coming on this morning, helping clearing this up. An interesting report to say the least. Thank you, sir.

FRIED: My pleasure.

HARLOW: This morning, Portland police have apprehended a suspect accused of taking the wedding band and a backpack from that Army veteran who was killed trying to protect an innocent individual during that last week's stabbing attack on the train. The items were taken from Ricky Best while he was on board that commuter train after he was stabbed while defending two women during the attack. It's not clear if the wedding band or the backpack has been recovered.

BERMAN: All right, for his next assignment, CNN's Anthony Bourdain heads to the bottom of the world. He joins us to discuss this icy adventure. Stay with us.



[10:56:08] ANTHONY BOURDAIN, CNN HOST: Increasingly, people want to see penguins. They are much loved by, you know, children everywhere. A lot of people would like to come to Antarctica as tourists and look at penguins up close.

The international environment without impacting them in a negative way. Is that a good thing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The thing about Antarctica is that most scientists just kind of like, you know, keep their nose to the grind stone. So the only advocacy for Antarctica has to come from the public. It's very valuable to have these tours because people have an ownership of, you know, they've been there and they see it.

BOURDAIN: What keeps you coming back? I mean, other than the work?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wanted to come to Antarctica, as I heard it was a very severe place and, you know, nature was the king, daunting. Having a chance to be humbled by something greater than you is I think an important part of being here.


BERMAN: Wow. All right, joining us now, Anthony Bourdain. You know, Tony, when you think about Antarctica, you think about the penguins, which we saw right there.


BERMAN: But what may be more fascinating is what people don't know about, which is the people who are there.

BOURDAIN: Well, we were guests of the National Science Foundation and the main American base down there is a station where between 600 and 1,000 people work under extraordinarily difficult physical conditions, all in support of an elite group of scientists doing research in various fields. And everybody, whether they're, you know, providing fuel, work in front end loaders, heavy equipment, carpenters, riggers -- there are people from all walks of life, often very highly educated, who have chosen to go to this incredibly difficult place, live in a very difficult conditions, supporting the pursuit of pure science and knowledge. And it's a very unusual subculture in a community unlike any place I've ever been.

HARLOW: It is a place where, as you say in that clip, nature is king.


HARLOW: And the scientists you were with said, you know, to be humbled by something greater than you. You've seen a lot of the world. Was it a humbling experience?

BOURDAIN: You are aware that Antarctica is a place where if you were not prepared and you were not careful, things can go really, really bad very, very quickly. In order to go there, we all had to get, you know, a full physical, dental work-ups, because, you know, if your helicopter goes down, you know, has to make an emergency landing, and the weather gets ugly, there are conditions of, I mean, incredibly extreme difficult conditions potentially. So everybody has to be prepared for that possibility at all times.

BERMAN: Yes, so much that can happen that is completely beyond your control.


BERMAN: And getting there is incredibly complicated. BOURDAIN: Yes.


BERMAN: Getting out is incredibly complicated.

BOURDAIN: It's big. It looks like no other place on earth. It is clean. It is pristine. There's not a single cigarette butt or bit of waste anywhere. Everybody from whatever country removes everything off of that continent and tries to impact the continent as little as possible. But it's as close to going to Mars as you can get on this planet. It really is another world.

HARLOW: I can't wait to see it. Thank you, Anthony Bourdain. Appreciate it.

You're not going to want to miss it. It airs of course Sunday night, 9:00 p.m. right here.

Don't miss that must-see TV. Thank you all for joining us today. Have a great weekend. I'm Poppy Harlow.

BERMAN: I'm wearing a very different tie than I was just 10 seconds ago.

HARLOW: You gave away our secret.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman. "AT THIS HOUR WITH KATE BOLDUAN" starts right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, John. Thank you, Poppy. Hello, everyone. I am Kate Bolduan.

Mark your calendars. Next Thursday, we are just six days away now from what could be the most explosive and dramatic congressional testimony in a generation. Former FBI director James Comey now set to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee about Russian interference into the 2016 election.