Return to Transcripts main page
Comey to Testify; North Korea Fired Four Anti-ship Missiles; U.K. Election Day. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired June 8, 2017 - 0000 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[00:00:08] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.
Ahead this hour --
Must-see TV -- fired FBI director James Comey to testify about his dealings with President Donald Trump and his campaign ties to Russia. But Comey's written testimony has been released sending shockwaves through Washington.
Voters in the U.K. head to the polls in two hours. Will Theresa May's gamble on a snap election backfire?
And terror in Tehran -- symbolic sites targeted in the heart of Iran.
Hello everybody -- great to have you with us. I'm John Vause. NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.
Get the popcorn and set your DVR. We are now just hours away from the highly-anticipated Senate testimony of the former director of the FBI. James Comey has not spoken publicly since he was fired by President Trump last month but ahead of that hearing Comey released his opening statement, an explosive seven pages and a preview of what might still be to come.
We begin our coverage with Jim Sciutto in Washington.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: On the crucial question of whether the President attempted to influence ongoing FBI investigations Comey said the President told him quote, "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go."
Comey makes clear quote, "I had understood the President to be requesting that we drop any investigation of Flynn in connection with false statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador."
In his letter firing the FBI director, the President said that Comey had told him three times that he, himself, was not under investigation. He repeated that claim in an interview with NBC. LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS HOST: Let me ask you about your termination letter to Mr. Comey. You write, "I greatly appreciate you informing on three separate occasions that I am not under investigation." Why did you put that in there?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Because he told me that. I mean he told me.
SCIUTTO: And in his written testimony, Comey largely confirms those occasions and says they were specifically about whether the President was the subject of a counter intelligence investigation.
First on January 6 when Comey went to Trump Tower to brief the President-elect on a dossier of allegations involving Mr. Trump, first reported by CNN. Comey says that quote, "During our one on one meeting at Trump Tower, based on President-elect Trump's reaction to the briefing and without him directly asking the question, I offered that assurance that he was not under FBI counter intelligence probe."
The second time in a dinner on January 27, Comey says the President told him he was considering ordering an investigation into the dossier. Comey says quote, "I replied that he should give that careful thought because it might create a narrative that we were investigating personally which we weren't."
And in a March 30 phone call Comey quote, "explained that we had briefed the leadership of Congress on exactly which individuals we were investigating and that we had told those congressional leaders that we were not personally investigating President Trump."
"I reminded him I had previously told him that. He repeatedly told me, 'We need to get that fact out'."
"The dossier, in particular, attracted the President's attention. He said he had nothing to do with Russia. Had not been involved with hookers in Russia and had always assumed he was being recorded when in Russia. He asked what we could do to lift the cloud."
The President Comey says also very interested in establishing his loyalty. In their January 27 dinner Comey said President Trump told him quote, "I need loyalty. I expect loyalty." Comey went on, "I didn't move, speak or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that follow."
He said he told Trump finally quote, "You will always get honesty from me." To which the President responded, "That's what I want, honest loyalty."
On the investigation into Michael Flynn and Russia, Comey directly contradicts the President. On May 18 the President was asked in a press conference if he in any way, shape or form tried to interfere or tell Comey to lay off the investigation into Flynn. He said "no" twice and then "next question".
In his written testimony and again tomorrow, Comey lays out a very detailed case saying the opposite. Jim Sciutto, CNN -- Washington.
VAUSE: Well, for more now on the legal issues facing the President, Seth Abramson is with us. He's an attorney and a professor at the University of New Hampshire in Manchester.
Seth -- good to have you with us.
The big unanswered question from this written testimony from Comey -- does any of this build a case for obstruction of justice. Those who say no they argue the President's actions may have been inappropriate, they weren't criminal and they say he never explicitly ordered Comey to end the investigation into Michael Flynn.
[00:05:03] SETH ABRAMSON, ATTORNEY AND PROFESSOR: Well, it does make that case and in fact what we have from Mr. Comey with his letter to Congress, his opening statement that we'll get tomorrow is a prima facie case. That would be a case on its face of a violation of the obstruction of justice statute 18USC1512 by President Trump.
With the obstruction of justice statue what matters are your words and the context in which they're said, not how they make people feel or even the effect of the words.
VAUSE: Ok. So you mentioned the law here. It is pretty clear someone is guilty is they corruptly endeavored to influence, obstruct or impede an active investigation. So explain to me where is the wiggle room in that? Where is the room for interpretation?
ABRAMSON: I don't think that there is, actually any wiggle room. I mean the words were very clear that Mr. Trump indicated to Mr. Comey that he wanted him to let Mr. Flynn go, to drop that prosecution.
The context I think was also very clear. Mr. Trump had ordered everyone out of the room including the Attorney General, including Mr. Kushner. And then of course, we have to take into account the fact that it didn't just occur that day but occurred later on. For instance Mr. Trump and what he said to the Russians about why he fired Mr. Comey which was he told the Russians, Mr. Kislyak, that he fired Mr. Comey in order to ease the pressure on him from the Russia investigation.
VAUSE: Is there enough in this written testimony to answer the question why Comey didn't speak out before he was fired if he though he was being pressured by the President?
ABRAMSON: But he did speak out. He talked to his boss. He went to Attorney General Sessions as he indicates in the letter. He specifically said to Mr. Sessions, in fact he used the use implored. He implored Mr. Sessions to make sure that he'll never be alone again with Mr. Trump. I think the question needs to be asked now why Attorney General Sessions who has not recused at that point didn't do anything about that extraordinary request from the FBI director. VAUSE: I'm just -- are we missing sort of one of the big issues here, the fact that Trump fired Comey because he wasn't happy with the progress of the Russian investigation. Isn't that probably more a significant factor more than anything else and the question of obstruction of justice?
ABRAMSON: Well, the obstruction of justice statute as implicated here with respect to the prosecution for making false statements or the perspective prosecution for making false statements against General Flynn.
It actually has nothing to do with the Russia investigation as a whole. It specifically has to do with whether Mr. Trump attempted to (inaudible) persuasion, obstruct that particular prosecution. So, the two shouldn't be conflated though obviously the prosecution or prospective prosecution of Mr. Flynn is part of the larger Russia inquiry.
VAUSE: OK. Seth -- thanks for being with us. We appreciate the explanations. Seth Abramson there -- thank you.
Ok. A lot of politics in all of this. Joining me now is Democratic strategist Matt Littman and James Lacy, he's the author of "Taxifornia". He's also a Trump supporter. Good to have you back here -- James. It's been a while.
So let's start with you and the reaction that we have from the White House. Donald Trump's personal lawyer released a short statement saying, "The President is pleased that Mr. Comey has finally publicly confirmed his private reports that the President was not under investigation in any Russia probe. The President feels completely and totally vindicated. He is eager to continue to move forward with his agenda."
That does seem to ignore the fact that the FBI director will now appear in person before the Senate in just a few hours' time.
JAMES LACY, AUTHOR: Yes. Well, the Republican National Committee issued a similar statement. I think that it actually is a win for Donald Trump because we have a situation where a President must have been very frustrated to believe that there was an ongoing investigation at least from reading the "Washington Post" or the "New York Times".
The implication was that he was some sort of a target or a figure in an investigation and he was being told over a period of months, three times by the FBI director that he wasn't a target of the investigation. He wanted to get the information out and I can see how this frustration would build.
You know, there are other issues to be discussed in the United States today. We need tax reform, we need to fix health care. These are other issues that Trump wanted to move forward with but felt that he was under a cloud. So I actually think it's a good thing because it's corroborated the fact that he's not under investigation.
MATT LITTMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: First of all, it doesn't corroborate the fact that it's not under investigation. Comey hasn't been there for a little while. We do have a special counsel looking into this. Trump could very well be under investigation. Special counsel is obviously there to do something.
You know, going back to the point about Trump feeling vindicated. Trump has nothing on his calendar until noon tomorrow. The other day Sean Spicer said how busy Trump is going to be. It turns out he's not really that busy at all. So we can expect to be hearing from Trump during the entire time of Comey's testimony tomorrow. If he already felt vindicated, why would he be tweeting tomorrow morning which I think we could fully expect?
LACY: You know Matt, when I was in the Reagan administration I testified before Congress many times, giving updates on the work that I was doing. And I have to say that if I was going to mention someone at a congressional hearing I would think that that person would be wanting to watch what I had to say on the television.
[00:10:02] If you were the subject of an investigation and you were going to be discussed at a congressional hearing, wouldn't you be watching?
LITTMAN: It's funny you say that because Sean Spicer said that Trump was going to be too busy tomorrow. But it turns out not.
But also going back to your earlier point --
LACY: And he's not under investigation.
LITTMAN: You don't know that.
LACY: No, I do know it. The FBI director said it three times.
LITTMAN: No, he didn't. He talked about then. That was until March 20.
LITTMAN: That's it. It's not March 20. What do you think Mueller's doing? Do you think he's just there to hang out with Donald Trump? There's a special counsel.
V3: Ok. So let's assume that, you know, the former director is actually accurate in what he's written down in these memos and his testimony to the Senate then we know that this statement that you're about to hear from the President isn't true. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you at any time urge former FBI director James Comey in any way, shape or form to close or to back down the investigation into Michael Flynn? And also as you --
TRUMP: No. No. Next question.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So James -- we're now at the point where this comes down to a question of credibility. Who is more believable in all this? The President or the former FBI director?
LACY: All right. The elephant in the room is whether or not the President's engaged in an obstruction of justice. You've just had an expert speak to that.
Look, there's no obstruction of justice. What Donald Trump said at that February 17 meeting was "I hope that you can see your way to not -- to deal with Flynn." And you know, what he meant by that was you have to put in context. Flynn had already suffered the consequence in Trump's mind. He'd been fired the day before.
And for obstruction of justice the law requires that you have intent and that you actually have an obstruction of justice. There's been no obstruction of justice.
The fact of the matter is that today it was confirmed that the Russia investigation is ongoing. Comey himself said in his letter that he ignored and that they continue to continue the investigation (inaudible) Flynn. So you know, to say that there's been some sort of obstruction of justice is really wishful thinking on the part of Trump --
VAUSE: But not really though. There has been obstruction of justice. The consequences of the actions don't matter. It happens that's just a separate issue. It comes down to what was said and if that was an attempt in and of itself, how people felt or what were the consequences or, you know, what happened afterwards is irrelevant.
LITTMAN: Well, a very significant point here is a couple of times Trump asked everybody to leave the room so he could talk to the FBI director himself. I'm assuming it wasn't because he just wanted to be alone with him and play some Lionel Richie music and dim the lights.
I think obviously there's some -- there's some intent on Trump's part here. Several times he's asked him to drop this case and then he fired him because he wouldn't drop the case. It's like --
LACY: You know, I have to say -- but Matt I have to say Comey asked to have a private meeting with Trump earlier. He was used to having private meetings because of the so-called salacious content of some of the charges against Trump which includes these lies about him in this fake dossier being what Russia --
LITTMAN: You're saying that it wasn't (inaudible) --
LACY: I'm saying he was but you may say -- LITTMAN: He was.
VAUSE: I want to move on because Dan Coats the director of National Intelligence, Admiral Michael Rogers the director of the National Security Agency -- they were also at the Senate on Wednesday. They were asked if they were pressured by the White House, by Donald Trump to play down the Russia investigation. Here's what they said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are you not answering these questions? Is there an invocation by the President of the United States of executive privilege? Is there or not?
ADM. MIKE ROGERS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY: Not that I'm aware of.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then why are you not answering our question.
ROGERS: I feel it is inappropriate, Senator.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Coats, same series of questions. What's the basis for your refusal to answer these questions today?
DAN COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: The basis is that what I have previously explained. I do not believe it is appropriate for me to --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the basis? I'm not satisfied with "I do not believe it is appropriate" or "I do not feel I should answer". I want to understand the legal basis. You swore that oath to tell us the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth and today you are refusing to do so. What is the legal basis for your refusal to testify to this committee?
COATS: I'm not sure I have a legal basis.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So James -- they said they never felt pressured by the President but they would not say if they were asked by the President. Why wouldn't they say that?
LACY: Well, I think that the answer could have been at their fingertips and that's that Robert Mueller is conducting a criminal investigation. And, you know, things have changed now. We had four investigations going on to this whole Russian thing before Mueller was made the special counsel by the deputy Attorney General. And those were congressional investigations.
And congressional investigations are different than criminal investigations. I think it was even Lindsey Graham who said that when a special counsel was going to be appointed, that would change the relationship of all of the actors in this whole drama with respect to the Congress because when there is an actual prosecutor in place who's collective evidence -- LITTMAN: They just said that they didn't have a legal basis for not
answering the question. He just said that. They just showed the clip of it. They didn't have a legal basis.
[00:15:06] LACY: And I'm giving you what the legal basis is that perhaps wasn't addressed by these individuals.
LITTMAN: You think that --
LACY: No. No. The reality is that Robert Mueller would not want these officials speaking out about an active investigation because he's relying on them --
VAUSE: I think --
LITTMAN: Mueller -- Mueller is -- Comey is speaking tomorrow that all the times Trump asked him to drop this -- to drop this case.
LACY: And Comey was fired so Comey is no longer involved in the investigation.
LITTMAN: The Trump administration can't hire anybody. I mean we can have a whole conversation about that. You mentioned before tax reform -- this is supposed to be infrastructure.
LACY: I think the taxpayers would be well-served by this.
LITTMAN: How is the infrastructure week going so far for Trump? The administration --
VAUSE: It's not a good week for the President I think --
LITTMAN: No. I mean, his popularity is down to 35 percent. It's at a record low now. So --
VAUSE: Ok. Thank you -- guys. We'll leave it at that because clearly, you know, depending on where you sit is how you see the day played out. And I guess something similar will happen on Thursday. Thanks to you -- guys.
LITTMAN: Thank you.
VAUSE: Please stay with CNN, cnn.com for complete coverage of James Comey's testimony. Starts Thursday morning 7:00 a.m., apparently Washington time -- right; noon in London. Wow. That's early.
Ok. We'll move on now. North Korea has fired up another round of missiles. U.S. and South Korea sources say Pyongyang fired four anti-ship missiles about 200 kilometers into the sea of North Korea's eastern coast on Thursday. This is Pyongyang's fourth missile test since South Korean President Moon Jae-In took office back in May.
Anna Coren joins us now live from Hong Kong with the details. And Anna -- you have to look at the timing of the launch -- the day after South Korea's new president said it would be suspending the deployment of the American anti-missile defense system.
ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That's right -- John.
It is quite interesting timing. You would have thought that the decision by South Korea, the new president Moon Jae-In to suspend this U.S. missile defense system would have somewhat placated North Korea and Kim Jong-Un but I think it's safe to say you should never make assumptions when it comes to the Hermit Kingdom and supreme leader.
As you say, the United States and South Korean defense officials have confirmed that four cruise missiles were launched some time this morning, we don't know the exact time, from the east of the country. This, in fact, is the fifth missile test since President Moon came into power a month ago, obviously North Korea testing the waters and his new presidency.
They're believed to be ground to ship missile. They're traveling 200 kilometers reaching a maximum altitude of two kilometers. Now these are shorter ranged missiles. They're designed to hit targets precisely and obviously carry a smaller warhead which is what the South Korean joint chiefs of staff alluded to this morning believing that the intention of North Korea was to (inaudible) its various missiles and precise targeting capabilities.
Now as we know, President Moon has taken a much more conciliatory approach to North Korea since coming into office. He wants to engage in dialogue with Kim Jong-Un bring them back to the negotiating table.
But his decision to suspend THAAD, which, of course, is the U.S. missile defense system -- that means that the two launches already installed they will stay in place. But the remaining four will not be set up pending an environment assessment. So this will obviously take approximately a year and it's feasible that it won't be set up at all.
This is seen as a concession to China -- John. And it's also believe to be -- I'm sorry I should say concession to China viewed as a threat its national security and also a significant break with the U.S. in relation to its policy with North Korea.
VAUSE: Ok. Anna -- good to see you. Anna Coren there, live in Hong Kong. Thank you.
Myanmar's military says crews have found bodies and debris from the wreckage of a military aircraft that went missing with 122 people on board. The remains of three bodies, two adults and a child, were discovered in the Andaman Sea. The recovery operation is still ongoing.
The flight vanished about 30 minutes after taking off from the coastal town of Myeik on Wednesday. If we get more details we will bring them to you.
Time for a break. When we come back -- election day in the U.K. polling stations open in little more than an hour and a half. We'll have the politics surrounding the election.
Also recent terror attacks haunted London ahead of this vote as police continue to make arrests.
[00:19:28] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
VAUSE: Polls open in the U.K. in less than two hours. Security has become a defining issue for voters after recent terror attacks. British police have made three more arrests after Saturday's attack on London Bridge. And Prime Minister Theresa May finds herself in a precarious position after campaigning on a platform of strength, security, and stability.
Nic Robertson reports.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: First, the Westminster Bridge attack -- five killed, including a policeman right outside parliament. Two months later, the Manchester attack -- 22 mostly young girls killed. And then just days before the country goes to the polls the London Bridge attack, eight people killed. Terror has taken center stage.
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: It is time to say enough is enough.
ROBERTSON: Britain's Prime Minister, where no leader wants to be so close to an election, deaths on her watch.
MAY: We believe we are experiencing a new trend in the threat we face as terrorism breeds terrorism.
ROBERTSON: The attacks have pushed other campaign issues -- Brexit, health care and education to the margins -- and propelled the opposition leader to back calls for May to resign.
JEREMY CORBYN, LABOUR PARTY LEADER: There's been calls made by a lot of very responsible people on this who are very worried that she was at the home office for all this time, presided over these cuts in police numbers.
MAY: We need to stop terrorists having access to lethal weapons.
ROBERTSON: Not just PM for a year, but Home Secretary for six years before that. May has been in charge of U.K. policing and counterterrorism for a long time. She had an abrasive relationship with the police as she cut costs and close to 20,000 jobs. Now her campaign slogan, "strong, stable leadership" under fire as she never expected -- in each of the terror attacks, a perpetrator known to the police. Even May's mercurial foreign secretary Boris Johnson is suggesting mistakes under May's watch may have been made.
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH HOME SECRETARY: People are going to look at the front pages today, and they're going to say how on earth could we have let this guy or possibly more through the net?
ROBERTSON: On election eve, one banner headline though in a pro-May paper leaves little doubt -- whatever the PM's failings, the leader of the opposition would be worse.
British papers are often partisan, but even this feels more strident than the usual tone. Terror it seems is ratcheting up the rhetoric -- all but drowning out May's original reason for going to the polls, to strengthen her mandate on Brexit.
Nic Robertson, CNN -- London.
VAUSE: Dominic Thomas joins us now. He chairs the French Department at UCLA. So Dominic -- to pick up on that last point in Nic's report, how influential are the British newspapers when it comes to elections? We also saw "The Sun" urging voters to head out and vote for the Tories.
DOMINIC THOMAS, UCLA FRENCH AND FRANCOPHONE STUDIES: Right. Well, "The Sun" and "The Daily Mail" have been coming out with these outrageous, you know, headlines talking about Corbyn being the first Marxist government and sort of, you know, talking about relationship with jihadis and all these kinds of things.
[00:25:08] I think "The Sun" appeals to a certain base. It's a sensationalist newspaper. It's not taken very seriously. I think if you're reading it and believing "The Sun|", it's pretty obvious where you're going to vote anyway, you know.
And on the other hand, "The Daily Mirror" and "The Guardian" have come out, you know, in support of Corbyn. So I'm not really sure it's shaping how people are going to vote.
VAUSE: Right. One thing which has been quite striking, the opinion polls have been all over the place, you know. Either this is going to be a hung parliament, May might squeak a win, it could be a minority Labour government. I think one came out a couple of hours ago saying she could increase the majority. It's all over the place. It's like a raffle at this point.
THOMAS: Right. And in many way, the election and the political landscape in Britain today is over the place -- the divisiveness. We're a year out from the Brexit vote -- a referendum on Cameron that really had very little to do with the European Union. And these deep divides in society have shaped this election. I mean Theresa May has just been hanging in there, you know, almost as if she has a lead with ten minutes to go in a sporting event, you know -- a terrible campaign. All sorts of horrible things said by, you know, on both sides and really, a lot of undecided voters, a lot of young people interested in coming out, the terror attacks. All of these kinds of things make this outcome a little bit unpredictable.
VAUSE: You know, for many voter, this election in the U.K., a lot like the one in the United States the presidential election, much like the presidential election in France -- it's a choice of who you don't want the most.
THOMAS: Right. Yes, of course. I mean, all of those particular cases there were very high ratings for dislike categories, and people ended up sort of voting for
VAUSE: Holding their nose and sort of --
THOMAS: Right. Saying I'm going to vote for that to try and block that. But in this particular case, there is not much enthusiasm really, I don't think, for sort of either side -- there is a bit of Brexit fatigue. And then the terror attacks. And we don't really know whether -- you know, not only Theresa May's decision to have this kind of snap election built on this kind of these sort of divisiveness, you know.
VAUSE: Why the third option, the liberal Democrats, why haven't they capitalized on that?
THOMAS: Well, we've got to go back to 2010. So remember, in 2010, David Cameron did not have a majority. He only got into power by forming this coalition and appointing Nick Clegg to the deputy leadership -- to a deputy prime ministership. At the time the Lib Dems got 57 votes.
Over the next few years he essentially betrayed them and sided with UKIP, the United Kingdom Independence Party --
VAUSE: The far right --
THOMAS: Right. The far right really -- promising them a kind of referendum on Brexit.
VAUSE: Well, we know how that worked out.
THOMAS: Exactly. And then in the 2015s, the Lib Dems went from 57 seats down to eight. And this entire election, the one theme they've been hitting on, of course, is European Union, European Union, where both political parties -- the Tories and the Labour know that Brexit is going ahead and it's going to be very difficult to get out of sort of going with that.
VAUSE: Ok. Well, it will be an interesting vote. I guess, we'll see if the gamble by Theresa May pays off.
THOMAS: Right. In a few hours' time.
VAUSE: Absolutely. Dominic -- thank you. THOMAS: Thanks -- John.
VAUSE: And CNN will have special coverage of the election starting at 10:00 p.m. London time, just as polls are closing. Please join us and follow along with all of the results.
A short break.
A rare terror attack in Iran's capital -- ISIS has claimed responsibility. But Tehran says someone else put them up to it.
That's next on NEWSROOM L.A.
[00:28:22] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[00:30:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.
The former FBI director says President Trump pressed him to drop an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. In a statement prepared for his Senate testimony, James Comey also said Mr. Trump repeatedly asked for his loyalty. Comey said he promised the president honesty.
Britain will vote in a snap election in about an hour and a half from now. Prime Minister Theresa May has watched her lead in the polls dwindle since calling the election in April. And Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is hoping to take advantage in what would be a massive upset.
North Korea has fired off another round of missiles. The U.S. and South Korea has said Pyongyang fired four anti-ship missiles, about 200 kilometers into the sea off North Korea's east coast on Thursday. This is Pyongyang's fourth missile test since South Korean President Moon Jae-in took office in May.
At least 12 people are dead in a rare terror attack in Iran's capital. Gunmen opened fire and blew themselves up at two of Iran's most symbolic sites. CNN's Fred Pleitgen has details.
FRED PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was around 10:00 a.m. local time when volleys of gunfire suddenly ripped through Central Tehran. Coordinated attacks, the deadliest of which inside the country's parliament called the Majlis.
Armed gunmen storming the building going on a shooting spree inside.
"We were standing here and heard that the police said there were five people who went inside and started shooting. We even saw one of them getting shot in the heart, and then they put him into a wheelchair and took him to hospital." ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks, releasing a video allegedly shot by one of the attackers inside the parliament. CNN can't independently confirm the authenticity of the video.
The gunmen were finally cornered by security forces and one of them blew himself up. Around the same time, another attack at the Imam Khomeini Shrine in Southern Tehran. All of the attackers there killed. One managed to blow himself up.
"People are saying that Daesh has done this. Everyone is saying one thing or another. I don't know who is behind the attack."
In a region plague by instability and violence, Iran has so far managed to avoid major terror attacks. Authorities have been warning of possible plots and said they thwarted several, but were unable to prevent Wednesday's killing spree.
Fred Pleitgen, CNN, London.
VAUSE: We'll take a short break. When we come back, we'll have more on the UK's snap election, British politics. A look back at a campaign that no one expected.
[00:35:30] VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. We have more now on the terror attack in Tehran.
Iran's foreign minister Javad Zarif tweeted just a short time ago, "Repugnant White House statement and senate sanctions as Iranians counter-terror backed by U.S. clients. Iranian people reject such claims of friendship."
We'll have more now. We go to Tehran.
"L.A. Times" correspondent Ramin Mostaghim is there.
So, Ramin, just explain the back story to this. Clearly the Iranians are very unhappy with the statement that came out from Donald Trump many, many hours after the attack there in the capital.
RAMIN MOSTAGHIM, LA TIMES CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Yes, indeed. People are very sad because that was the last, the least thing they expect. That was the last straw on their shoulder because already they are challenging with the domestic problems. The sanction are heavy. And also terrorist attack traumatize them.
Now the new sanctions, the new pressures and I feel that they are not alone, they are not understood by the international community, especially by American operation.
VAUSE: I think we have lost Rahim there.
MOSTAGHIM: (INAUDIBLE) -- Can you hear me now? Hello? Hello? Hello, I'm hearing you well.
VAUSE: OK, Rahim, I'm having a little bit of trouble hearing you. My apologies for that. But the Skype connection isn't great. We appreciate you giving us some background there and the reaction to what's happening in Tehran. Thank you so much.
That's Rahim Mostaghim, "L.A. Times" correspondent in Tehran.
We'll have a little more on this now.
CNN intelligence and security analyst, former CIA operative Bob Baer is with us.
So bob, you know, clearly there is a lot of bad blood between Tehran and Washington. And the statement from the president didn't make things any better.
BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE & SECURITY ANALYST: No absolutely, John. You know, you have to look at this in context of the president's visit. He has framed Iran as the chief sponsor of terrorism, which of course it's not. And the Iranians are tending to look at this as a concerted effort to come after them.
And you also have the isolation of Qatar. The -- you know, diplomatic relations have been cut with the GCC, with Jordan and on and on and on. So the Iranians are wondering what is the U.S.'s policy on this? Are they coming for us?
Now, look, Saudi Arabia did not do this attack on the parliament, in Khomeini's tomb. They don't have the capacity to do it. Neither does the United States. It's probably the Islamic State. But the Iranians are going to look at this as an act of aggression and they're going to start recalculating.
VAUSE: You know, the speaker of Iran's parliament, he called this a minor incident, or a minor issue, depending on, you know, the translation, but regardless, that would seem to be a pretty big understatement.
BAER: It's an understatement. Look, the Iranians, they won't admit it, but they do have problems. Sectarian problems. The Sunnis are about 5 percent to 10 percent of the population. They are restive. You've got Balochistan, which is mostly Sunni and you've also got a Kurdish problem. So they are very sensitive to an attack like this.
They may downplay it so they've got no problems, but it will have a long-term effect on Iran. And they will continue to watch the United States to see what our intentions are.
At the central intelligence agency, the guy, the head of the Iran division, you know, he's the guy that ran the drone program. That looks like, you know, something is coming down the line for the Iranians. And they are -- like I said, they are very well attuned to what's happening in this administration. VAUSE: You know, out of all of the ISIS attacks over Ramadan, from London to Paris to Melbourne, this one in Tehran, it seems that this one has the biggest sort of most far-reaching implications.
BAER: Oh, absolutely, because it goes back to Iraq. Raqqah is about ready to fall. Mosul is mostly gone. You've got Shia militias. And at the end of the day, this war in the Middle East is a sectarian civil war, which is showing no signs of burning out.
[00:40:00] I think what the Iranians are going to do, there is going to be a big push to really come down hard on the Islamic State, what's left of it, inside Iraq and Syria so they may double down. And you're going to see the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is the most radical group in Iran also, you know, getting an upper hand on a fairly moderate president. So, you know, stay tuned, John.
VAUSE: Yes. As the saying goes, never let a crisis go to waste. Some problems ahead for President Rouhani, no doubt.
Bob, good to see you. Thanks so much.
VAUSE: Voting day in the UK for parliamentary elections. It has been a whirlwind of a year for the United Kingdom, from the Brexit vote to quit the European Union to Theresa May's rise to prime minister, and her call for a snap election. In case you missed it all, here is a recap.
HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: Let's bring our viewers this breaking news.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Brexit has won.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Brexit causing major ripple effects around the world.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's always the will of the people. Ultimately, that wins out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It has sent the pound literally tumbling, and markets the world over have been sent into something of panic.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The separation could be messy and difficult.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wanted to lead a campaign to get Britain to leave the European Union. You're not laughing now, are you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Scottish leaders upset over the outcome of the referendum, floating the idea of breaking way from the United Kingdom.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The referendum itself is on the premise of all these promises which now have actually turned out to become lies.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the end, the lead campaign ended with 62 percent of the vote and finishing off a prime minister. Theresa May found herself as the last conservative leadership candidate standing. A prime minister by default.
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: As we leave the European Union, we will forge a bold new positive role for ourselves in the world.
The trade deal between the U.S. and the UK is in the national interests of both countries.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Supreme Court rules that the government cannot trigger Article 50 without an act of parliament.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a major win for Gina Miller. She is the lead claimant here. She has always argued it was never about overturning Brexit.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is about the British constitution and the fact that we have a parliamentary democracy.
MAY: This is an historic moment from which there can be no turning back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Prime Minister Theresa May beginning Britain's divorce from the European Union.
MAY: The government should call a general election.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The one thing you need to know about Theresa May's announcement of a snap election is that she wants to have a stronger hand in the Brexit negotiations.
MAY: When people goes to polls, they have a very stark choice. Strong and stable leadership under me and my team, or coalition chaos under Jeremy Corbyn.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The latest YouGov poll since the Manchester attacks suggests the conservative leader over labour is shrinking.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Six people at least have been killed in a brazen terrorist rampage.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the third terrorist attack that England had lived through in just over two months.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There will now be a minute's silence.
MAY: It is time to say enough is enough. Things need to change.
VAUSE: And CNN special election coverage starts 10:00 p.m. London Time just as the polls are closing. Please join us as all of the results come in.
Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause. "World Sport" with Kate Riley is up next. And I will be back with another hour of news from all around the world. You're watching CNN.