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Puerto Rico Braces For Direct Hit From Hurricane Maria; Antigua and Barbuda Under Tropical Storm Warning; Suu Kyi Defends Response to Feared Ethnic Cleansing; Trump to Address U.N. General Assembly Tuesday; Trump & Netanyahu Oppose Iran Nuclear Deal; Jack Johnson on Plastic Pollution & Politics. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired September 19, 2017 - 02:00   ET


JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour.

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Hurricane Maria, another monster Atlantic storm now battering already stricken Caribbean Islands.

VAUSE: Also, a CNN exclusive. Federal investigators wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort before and after the election. What the intelligence says about Russian involvement with the Trump team.

SESAY: And all this as President Trump makes his UN debut surrounded by world leaders who are already worried about the relationship between the US and Russia.

Hello and welcome to our viewers from all around the world. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. This is the third hour of NEWSROOM LA.

VAUSE: Caribbean Islands battered by Hurricane Irma less than two weeks ago are now facing another dangerous storm. Hurricane Maria is lashing Dominica right now, with top sustained winds around 250 kilometers per hour. The prime minister says there is already widespread devastation to the island.

SESAY: Puerto Rico had declared a state of emergency, expecting a direct hit from the storm on Wednesday. Maria would be the strongest storm to make landfall in a country in 85 years.

VAUSE: Well, meteorologist Pedram Javaheri joins us now live from the National Weather Center. So, Pedram, what's the track here? Where is Maria right now and where is it heading?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, guys. The National Hurricane Center just giving us the update here with this storm system. They are seeing slight - and I mean slight weakening with this dropping from a very low-grade Category 5 down into a strong Category 4. About 7 kilometer per hour drop as it interacted with the mountains across Dominica, across this region. And, of course, this is a storm system we thought perhaps the mountains can weaken it, maybe a little more than that, but kind of tells you about the intensity we're dealing with here.

It goes over mountains that rise to 1,500 meters, comes out essentially unscathed here. And we are looking at this because the track very ominous for folks across places such as the Virgin Islands.

This is early Wednesday morning. The center of the storm potentially once again a category - strong Category 4 as it now or a weak Category 5 is what it looks like. A further intensification likely at this point.

And then beyond this, going to Wednesday afternoon, portions of eastern Puerto Rico could be impacted by this and the storm system takes off towards the Turks and Caicos with additional strengthening possible.

So, again, we're dealing with a significant storm here that is sitting as a strong Category 4, expected to strengthen going in towards Puerto Rico on Wednesday and eventually towards the Turks and Caicos.

As Isha said, about 85 years since we last had a storm this strong impact places such as Puerto Rico. But when you think about Puerto Rico, the population density from the 1920s and 30s to now has increased almost three-fourths.

So, we're talking about an island home to some 4 million people. This could be a Category 4 over San Juan come from Wednesday afternoon and Wednesday evening as it moves over this region.

So, again, tremendous implications with a storm of this magnitude going across this region. And the element here that wasn't in place for Irma that is absolutely in place with Maria is the tremendous amount of water this storm system is packing with it.

We're talking about as much as 10 to 15 inches or 300 to 500 millimeters of rainfall in the forecast across places such as Puerto Rico, literally over the entire island here. You could see at least a foot of rainfall with the storm system.

And the model guidance on this very confident in the initial stages, which would be these Virgin Islands on Wednesday morning and then, by the afternoon hours, high concentration of these models take it right over the eastern corner of Puerto Rico.

And notice there are some disparities here as far as where it begins to shift and track beyond the Turks and Caicos, which will be later in the weekend. All of this really has to do with the steering environment in the atmosphere.

There is an area of high pressure that could essentially pick the storm up and guide it away from the United States once it clears the Caribbean.

Or if this shifts a little farther toward the west, it can give the storm system the path of least resistance, which would be going up closer towards the eastern United States coastline.

But notice, again, confidence high as the models listed in the blue with the European and the American in red, right over Puerto Rico on Wednesday.

[02:05:00] We begin to see them spread a little bit going into Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with the European models just taking off and taking the storm system away from the main threat of land, while the American wants to keep it closer towards the coastal communities.

So, John, this is a big-time story developing for a lot of people. With Puerto Rico, I'm really concerned with this because of the population increase and the rainfall element, again, that we did not see with Irma and it comes in with the rain and, of course, the wind as well.

VAUSE: A one, two, three punch. Pedram, thank you.

JAVAHERI: Absolutely, yes.

SESAY: All right. Well, let's - we're already hearing of significant damage to buildings in Dominica. Hours ago, the prime minister posted on Facebook, "My roof is gone. I'm at the complete mercy of the hurricane. House is flooding." But he later posted an update thing, I have been rescued.

Let's bring in Michael Joseph now from St. John's Antigua. He's the president of Antigua and Barbuda Red Cross Society. Michael, thank you so much for joining us.

Right now, the projected path of Maria has it essentially skirting Antigua, though the expectation is there will also be some fairly strong winds in the hours ahead. What are conditions like right now?

MICHAEL JOSEPH, PRESIDENT, ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA RED CROSS SOCIETY: Well, I can tell you, we're already starting to feel very, very strong winds already.

As a matter of fact, I'm inside and I'm wondering just if this storm has started to shift north because of how much - how sustained these kind of wind gusts are at the moment. So, it's quite strong outside and you can hear the wind whistling and even shaking (INAUDIBLE) of the house.

SESAY: I've got to ask you, Michael, given everything that Antigua has been through and Barbuda, I mean, how are people taking this just a notion of another storm being in the vicinity of the area?

JOSEPH: To be honest with you, I mean, at this point in time, people are just calling on prayers right now. People are just asking how much more. And we will very much still in the active part of the hurricane season. We are not even - we still have another two months still on to go.

And this is a concern for many, many people, particularly the Barbudans. They're eager to go back home and Antiguans are eager to help them to get back home.

However, we just started the cleanup in Barbuda on Saturday. And now, today, Monday, we are already faced with Hurricane Maria. And then the concern is what is going to happen next week, what's going to happen the week after. It just seems to be a phenomenon year for us.

SESAY: Michael, are you still with me?

JOSEPH: I'm still here. Can you hear me?

SESAY: Yes, the line dropped just for a second. I mean, let me ask you this. I mean, even though Maria is not projected to bring significant damage or get close to Antigua and Barbuda, I mean, what does a little bit of rain and a little bit sustained winds, what does that mean for the recovery effort?

JOSEPH: Well, for Antigua, if we're talking about 1 to 2 feet of water, that could mean significant flooding, particularly in a lot of low-lying communities. So, we could have a lot of persons who by morning will have to be pushing water outside of their homes, communities that completely locked off until the flood levels have gone down until after.

And then, we were talking about Barbuda, again, where they just would have started to pump a lot of those settled and stagnant water from mainland that was contributing a growth of mosquitoes. If we have this water again being poured back on to Barbuda, so you've got - the cycle has to repeat itself over and over and over and over.

SESAY: It is incredibly distressing. People have already been through so much and now they're worried about what could come in the hours ahead.

Michael Joseph, thank you for - all week. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. We'll continue to check in with you. And, of course, we wish you the very best, to you and all the folks in Antigua and Barbuda. Thank you.

VAUSE: The US President Donald Trump's foreign policy seems to be following the mad man theory. Never be predictable, keep them guessing, always keep them off-guard.

So, with that in mind, world leaders will be listening closely to see if any of that changes in his first address to the UN General Assembly later on Tuesday.

A senior administration official says Mr. Trump will issue harsh warnings to North Korea and Iran and he'll call for action against rogue nations.

SESAY: Well, on his first visit to UN headquarters on Monday, Mr. Trump called for reforms of the international body.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In recent years, the United Nations has not reached its full potential because of bureaucracy and mismanagement.

While the United Nations on a regular budget has increased by 140 percent and its staff has more than doubled since 2000, we're not seeing the results in line with this investment.


[02:10:04] VAUSE: Well, a CNN exclusive in the investigation of Russian meddling in the US presidential election. Federal investigators wiretapped Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

SESAY: CNN Justice Correspondent Pamela Brown has details.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Sources tell CNN that the FBI received permission from the secret surveillance court to monitor Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman before and after the election.

This is an extraordinary step for the FBI, to do surveillance of a high-ranking campaign official. And, of course, Manafort is now at the center of the Russia meddling probe.

We're told that there are intercepted communications that raised concerns among investigators about whether Manafort was encouraging Russians to help with the campaign.

Some sources, though, that this intelligence was not conclusive. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been provided all of these communications. So, they are in his hands - his team's hands.

We did not get a comment from Paul Manafort's spokesman, but Manafort has previously denied he ever knowingly communicated with Russian intelligence operatives during the election. And he's also denied helping Russia undermine US interests.

Now, the secret order began back in 2014 after Manafort became the subject of an investigation that centered on work done by a group of Washington consulting firms for Ukraine's former ruling party.

Our sources say, at some point, that surveillance was discontinued. And then, there was a new FISA warrant that the FBI received related to the investigation into Russia meddling.

What's interesting here is that during the same timeframe of the second FISA warrant that went through, at least early this year, there were conversations between Paul Manafort and President Trump, but it's unclear if President Trump was picked up as part of the surveillance.

Pamela Brown, CNN, Washington.


VAUSE: Joining us now is CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist Dave Jacobson and Republican consultant John Thomas.

SESAY: Gentleman, welcome.

VAUSE: OK. So, along with the wiretapping news, there is also this "The New York Times" report that Robert Mueller's team told Paul Manafort that they plan to indict him.

Here's part of the reporting for "The Times". "Dispensing with the plodding pace typical of many white collar investigations, Mr. Mueller's team has used what some describe as shock and awe tactics to intimidate witnesses and potential targets of the inquiry."

So, John, does this mean that when they told Manafort that we've had to indict you, that's like we've got the goods, you're toast, we plan to indict you all? We're going to get the goods and we plan to indict you and then you're going to be toast. Where's the emphasis here?

JOHN THOMAS, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: It's hard for me to tell at this point. I mean, I don't have all the facts.

What I do know, and this has been my concern from the beginning and why I tend to agree with Steve Bannon's approach that firing Comey was a terrible decision, because now that Mueller has this investigation, he needs to find something to justify his job and maybe perhaps overly aggressive in this process.

So, I feel like they don't have anything on President Trump at this point. There's nothing seems to implicate him and they're grasping at straws. But, look, time will tell.

And what I do think is interesting, though, just to give President Trump credit where his credit is due, he was arguably wiretapped, at least tapped in this process.

VAUSE: I was waiting to hear that. OK. No, no, no, no, no. OK. So, just last week, this is what the Justice Department said about that - the wiretapping claims that the president tweeted out.

"Both FBI and NSD, National Security Division, confirmed that they have no records related to White House as described by the March 4, 2017 tweets," which was about Trump Tower, the I-was-tapped-by-the- president blah, blah, blah.

Tapping Paul Manafort is not the same thing as tapping Donald Trump.

THOMAS: Well, what if Paul Manafort were residing in Trump Tower?

SESAY: I mean, he does have an apartment in the same tower.

VAUSE: No, but the tweets were specifically about Obama ordered a tap on me, President Trump.

THOMAS: No, that literally -

VAUSE: It's splitting hairs and maybe is ingenuine - THOMAS: And you're right. But didn't the report also say that the - Manafort was also tapped in important conversations arguably probably with President Trump.


DAVE JACOBSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think that's down the line. Like, at some point, we will see whether or not like the president is vindicated on this issue or not.

But, bottom line, Bob Mueller is a pit bull and he is a legal juggernaut and he's not going to leave any stone unturned.

SESAY: But how worrisome is this for the president.

JACOBSON: Well, I think it should be extraordinarily worrisome, particularly if the president was having conversations with Manafort.

I think the bottom line here is Paul Manafort oversaw the campaign for Trump during the RNC convention when they modified the platform as it related to Russia.

When Carter Page went over to Russia, he was a senior policy adviser for the campaign. He was sanctioned by the campaign to go to Russia. Donald Trump went out on the podium back in July and called on Russia to hack Hillary Clinton's emails.

All of these things happened when Paul Manafort was overseeing and directing the campaign.

VAUSE: So, with very real possibility that Donald Trump, the president, was caught up in these wiretaps that were on Paul Manafort. John, does that now take the impeachometer from kind of lukewarm up to maybe a little bit warmer, getting a little hotter.

[02:15:08] THOMAS: I have yet to see anything substantial. I think the real casualty in this process is the legal bills that some of these Trump associates are racking up are in the millions.

Some of these Trump affiliates that are at lower levels are having a cash in their kids' college tuition, just so they can deal with the bullying of a guy like Mueller.

SESAY: I think it's legal tactics. I mean, I don't know if you call it - but he's being aggressive. He wants to go after the facts and time will tell if he gets anything. But he's not doing anything as far we've been able to tell improper.

THOMAS: No, it's just a casualty. If you are a lower-level campaign staffer that was an aid and now all of a sudden you're in financial hell.

JACOBSON: But if these folks have nothing to hide, then they should put whatever documents they have out there in the daylight. They should testify publicly before Congress, so that Mueller can move on and take them out of the investigation (INAUDIBLE). VAUSE: Speaking of putting everything out here. Since Sunday night, we've seen it a thousand times. Let's see it a 1001. Sean Spicer, former White House spokesman appeared at the Emmy's, made quite a stir.


STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, EMMY'S AWARD: Is there anyone who could say how big the audience is? Sean, do you know?

SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This will be the largest audience to witness an Emmy's. Period. Both in person and around the world.

COLBERT: Wow, that really soothes my fragile ego.


VAUSE: There he is. Spicer was asked in an interview about - if he has any regrets about making those comments about crowd sizes. Of course, I do, absolutely, was his reply.

John, does this - sorry, Dave rather. Does this now mean that we should assume that everything that comes out of the White House is a lie until proven true.

JACOBSON: Yes, it's true.


JACOBSON: Sean Spicer had no moral compass in that position. He was just trying to Donald Trump's bidding to hold on to his job as long as possible, so that he can get a book deal or give speeches and make money after that.

THOMAS: I do think it's ironic, though, he was, obviously, trying to rehab his image in that play.

VAUSE: Well, that works well.

THOMAS: Yes. And he is talking about large crowd sizes, but the ratings for the Emmy's were at historic lows.

SESAY: Yes. I mean, you can divert and talk about that, but we can also still talk about the fact that it is an admission that while he was there on podium, he just lied. Not that anyone doubted that because everyone (INAUDIBLE).

THOMAS: Yes. Right, right.


SESAY: Exactly.

THOMAS: Well, I think - look, he is trying to poke fun at himself. I think that's a laudable trait. Yes, you're right. He lied. I think I sat on this stage with you guys gone. Once he talked about the crowd size, let's move on here.

VAUSE: OK. Let's very quickly finish up because it now seems that President Trump wants the July 4 parade with lot of tanks and military stuff.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was your guest at Bastille Day. And it was one of the greatest parades I have ever seen. It was two hours on the button and it was military might. And I think a tremendous thing for France and to the spirit of France.

To a large extent, because of what I witnessed, we may do something like that on July 4th in Washington, down Pennsylvania Avenue.


VAUSE: So, Dave, what's next? Portraits of the Dear Leader in Times Square.

JACOBSON: I think he is overdoing it. But this is the guy who like - of course, talks about how big and grand and glorious everything is. Remember the comments on the hands, how big his hands were. I think this is a reflection of that.

SESAY: John, a parade for the base?

THOMAS: Not so much for the base. I think he wants to project American strength, but he doesn't need to do with the parade.

VAUSE: Good. We agree.

SESAY: Exactly. Let's not ruin it. Thank you. (INAUDIBLE) agreement.

VAUSE: Yes. Actually, it was good. I think most people agree. I don't think there is a need for a military parade like North Korea or -

SESAY: Let's take a break.

Rohingya Muslims say they are facing rape, torture, murder in Myanmar, but de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi says that she doesn't know why almost half a million in Burma have fled.


[02:21:13] VAUSE: Well, Myanmar's de facto leader has broken her silence on the suffering of the Rohingya Muslims.

The US suspects they are the victims of ethnic cleansing, but Aung San Suu Kyi says she just doesn't know why almost half a million Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh.

Noble Peace Prize laureate is under increasing international pressure to do more to stop a violent military crackdown on Rohingya. SESAY: More than a thousand Rohingya have been killed in less than a month. Many activists and refugees tell CNN, entire villages have been destroyed.

The Rohingyas themselves claim they are the victims of rape, murder and torture, but Suu Kyi is now asking where is the evidence.


AUNG SAN SUU KYI, STATE COUNSELLOR OF MYANMAR: It is not the intention of the Myanmar government to apportion blame or to abnegate responsibility.

We condemn all human rights violations and unlawful violence. There have been allegations and counter-allegations and we have to listen to all of them. And we have to make sure that these allegations are based on solid evidence before we take action.


VAUSE: CNN's senior international correspondent Ivan Watson is with us now from the capital of Myanmar. Also, Alexandra Field standing by in Bangladesh near a refugee camp for the Rohingyas.

So, Ivan, first to you, this is not the speech many around the world had expected or hoped for. Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu, who had earlier pleaded with Suu Kyi to guide her people back to the light, he also added a tweet basically asking, if this is the price you have to pay for maintaining power, then the price is too high.

But this is a speech which many in Myanmar will be very pleased with.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And there was a viewing party gathered in Yangon, in the commercial capital in front of City Hall where supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi were chanting long live mother Sue.

But let's be clear, this was a speech, John, that was geared for an international audience. After all, she spoke throughout the entire speech in English, and that is not the main language of the vast majority of the people here in Myanmar.

There were ambassadors who were invited, the diplomatic corps and journalists as well.

And she softened some of the criticism she's had in the past. She didn't attribute the conflict to fake news as much as she has in the past, but she also took care not to say the word Rohingya, which is how this long persecuted and stateless community of Muslims in western Rakhine state refer to themselves. She referred to them as Muslims.

She also acknowledged that there are some human rights violations taking place. Take a listen to another excerpt from the Myanmar leader's speech today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SUU KYI: The government is working to restore the situation to normalcy. Since the 5th of September, there have been no armed clashes and there have been no clearance operations.

Nevertheless, we are concerned to hear that numbers of Muslims are fleeing across the border to Bangladesh. We want to find out why.


WATSON: Now, this is frankly a pretty puzzling statement because this crisis has been going on for more than three weeks. More than 400,000 people have fled across the border, telling awful stories of being attacked, of their villages being burned. And here we hear the leader of this country saying it's not entirely clear why this incredible exodus, why this phenomenon is happening.

The defense minister of Myanmar was asked by journalists on his way into the assembly hall just hours ago about allegations of ethnic cleansing. The United Nations has called this a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.

[02:25:09] And his response, General Sen Wen, was "there was no ethnic cleansing. The Myanmar media isn't as strong as the Muslim media and they created the whole story and the whole world has been sympathetic for it."

And that reflects one of the perspectives here coming from the government that this, rather than being a case of more than 400,000 civilians fleeing for their lives across borders with stories of their villages being burned, it's rather an issue of competing narratives and Myanmar seems to be losing the media war.

That's what we're hearing from the defense minister.

VAUSE: Ivan, thank you. Quickly now to Alex in Bangladesh. There must be incredible disappointment among the Rohingya, not least given Suu Kyi won a Nobel Peace Prize championing human rights.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. She had ushered in so much hope for the Rohingya people, often called the world's most oppressed people, and arguably living through the most difficult times they have ever endured as a people.

Almost half of their population emptying out of the country that they have lived in for generations. The leader of that company saying that she needs to understand why they are leaving.

She said that her government has never been soft on human rights, but that there needs to be evidence about what's going on before action can be taken, that all she's heard so far are allegations and counter- allegations.

Look, if you're looking for evidence, you've got 410,000 Rohingya refugees who are living on this border, recounting horrific tales of violence that they say was conducted by the military and that they were directly targeted as a Muslim minority group in this predominantly Buddhist country.

Aung San Suu Kyi went on to say that 50 percent of the Rohingya villages in Rakhine state remain intact, suggesting that she needs to further understand what's happening in some villages, but not other villages.

Certainly, to the Rohingya people and to the world at large, that 50 percent of your village is intact would seem rather a low bar. Rohingya people here are going to be deeply, devastatingly disappointed by the words coming from the leader of Myanmar today.

They wanted a full-throated defense of their rights as humans and their rights to live in Myanmar. That's not something they got. They got a defense from Aung San Suu Kyi of human rights in general. John?

VAUSE: Yes. OK. Alexandra, thank you. Alexandra Field live for us there in Bangladesh.

SESAY: Well, let's pause here for a quick break. "State of America" with Kate Bolduan is coming up next for our viewers in Asia. For everyone else, we'll look at the international focus on the US president's upcoming address to the UN General Assembly and what he'll say about North Korea.


[02:30:14] SESAY: Hello, everyone. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

The headlines this hour.


SESAY: U.S. President Donald Trump will make his first address to the U.N. General Assembly tuesday. He's expected to issue a harsh warning to North Korea and Iran and urge other nations to take responsibility for their own security.

Ian Lee joins us from South Korea.

President Trump making that tuesday. We expect North Korea to feature prominently. The world will be watching to see how well President Trump does at walking the line between talking tough on Pyongyang and not further inflaming an already tense situation.

IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And when President Trump did arrive at the U.N. and was asked about what he's going to talk about, all he said is we'll see. We heard previously from the U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley saying his "fire and furry "remarks previously weren't just empty threats. So everyone will be watching closely about what he says about North Korea's latest missile test as well as their nuclear tests, what his plan is going forward. The South Koreans are curious about what he's going to say, if has a cohesive plan. North Korea will be watching closely as well to see what he says about them. Interesting to point out here is that North Korea for a while has said

that they're developing their nuclear and missile program because they believe it will protect the regime. They point to examples like Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Libya where the United States ousted those leaders. And after those leaders gave up their weapons of mass destruction.

The other thing they'll be watching too is how President Trump talks about the Iran nuclear deal. The Iranians sat down with the Americans, the other members of the Security Council and Germany to hash out a deal and came to an agreement. If the United States walks away from that deal without the support of the other members, other parties that signed onto it, that could be seen a United States walking away from their word. And if the United States talks about sitting down with the North Korea and coming to a similar deal that could cause them to approach that with caution. There's a lot to really look at when President Trump speaks tomorrow.

SESAY: Indeed. Also let's not forget that China will be paying close attention. To the speech. We know obviously President Trump said time and time again that China is the key to solving the North Korea problem. Should President Trump use his time at the podium on Tuesday, use it as a bully pulpit to berate China and hope that will to do more? What could we be looking at in terms of fallout and being reaction.

LEE: That's something that we'll be watching closely. Everyone knows the key to north China. Although China doesn't have a magic want that it can wave and North Korea will do bidding. China has a lot of the levers. Especially the Security Council resolutions trying to get tougher sanctions on North Korea. When the U.S., South Korea proposed the tough sanctions, when they deal with Russia and China. They get watered down. So we'll be watching to see if he puts pressure on China to in turn put pressure on North Korea. But again, when he speaks on Tuesday, that's one more thing we'll be watching for.

SESAY: It will be a long list, Ian, when the president speaks Tuesday.

We appreciate it. Thank you.

All right. On the sidelines of the General Assembly in New York, CNN's Christiane Amanpour sat down with Iran's leader for an exclusive interview. During it, Iran warned U.S. President Trump not to pull out of the joint nuclear deal, saying withdrawal would cost the U.S. greatly.


[02:35:13] HASAN ROUHANI, IRANIAN PRESIDENT (through translation): Exiting such an agreement would have -- would carry a huge cost for the United States of America. And I do not believe that Americans would be willing to pay such a high cost for something that would be useless for them. It will yield no results for the United States but at the same time, it will generally decrease and cut away and chip away at international trust placed in the United States of America. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: Well, for more on the Israel perspective on the Iran nuclear deal and President Trump's upcoming remarks, let's bring in our Oren Liebermann, in Jerusalem.

Oren, good to see you.

The Israeli prime minister's position on the 2015 nuclear deal is clear, cancel it or fix it. President Trump is no fan of the deal either. But as you well know, pulling out of the agreement could trigger major fallout for the U.S. In the absence of a declaration that the U.S. is out, what does Trump need to say in the speech to please Netanyahu?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The more trump focuses on Iran, the happier Netanyahu will be. If it isn't on pulling out of the deal or changing it in some way, which is seems nobody here is expecting, no one in Israel or the U.S. is expecting, the next best statement for Netanyahu would be some sort of statement on trying to curb Iran's presence and influence in the region, in Syria and Lebanon. We'll see if it happens. The problem is Netanyahu fully aware of this. Iran isn't the topic of the day or of the year. Now North Korea will take a lot of the attention here. And that's problematic for Netanyahu, who according to reports, will try to link Iran and North Korea to bring attention to Iran to get some sort of action or statement from Trump on this.

SESAY: I have to ask you as you give us sense of the expectations in Israel, is there board consensus between the government as well as Israeli defense and intelligence officials that the prime minister is on the right track in pushing for the U.S. to cancel or redo the deal?

LEE: So there is consensus that the deal isn't a good deal. Generally, most officials and politicians think the deal could have been far better and stronger against Iran. That doesn't mean there is consensus on how Israel should proceed. Many officials from defense and intelligence view the deal as a reality. Something that's not changing from the U.S. perspective. So given the U.S. isn't going to withdraw or change it, the idea is from defense and intelligence officials, deal with it as a reality, work with the deal as something that's not changing and try to curb Iran's influence in the region or something like that. In short, there isn't consensus on how it proceeds. Netanyahu wants Israel to appear as unified against the Iran deal. The reality is many here see the deal as reality. And Israel needs to learn to deal with it.

SESAY: Prime minister will address the U.N. later Tuesday. This comes at a time when Netanyahu and his family and inner circle are facing mounting legal trouble. How much of the speech will be aimed at counting the domestic narrative of him being a prime minister just about hanging onto the office?

LEE: Let me answer rhetorically. How much of President Trumps specie will focus on the Russia investigation? None. He will keep the speech far away from the problems he's facing many in his circle are facing. I'll be surprised if he even mentions it today.

SESAY: What will you be looking out for when Netanyahu takes the podium on tuesday?

LEE: No surprise he'll talk about Iran. What I'm curious to hear is how much will he talk the peace process? It was interesting to see the bilateral meeting between Trump and Netanyahu. Trump talked about the peace process. Netanyahu immediately talks about Iran. Will he make a nod to the peace process not only for Trump by the international community? We'll look at that. And how far down in his speech will it be if it's there.

SESAY: That being said, we're focused on Netanyahu, but the expectation of how this first appearance by the President Trump at the U.N. what that means for the peace process and, from the Mahmoud Abbas perspective, what happens next.

IAN: The Palestinians are expected to give essentially a look back a history lesson in many ways. Talk about a peace process. They want to engage and see concrete steps as opposed to statements. Ad 2017 is a big year. It's 50 years since Israel occupation of the West Bank and 100 years since the Balfour Declaration there will be a Jewish homeland. A commitment from the world powers to create a Palestinian state. Two very different statements. Also worth pointing out that Abbas will meet Trump before his own speech.

[02:40:31] SESAY: Going to be an interesting couple days.

Oren Liebermann, appreciate the perspective and insight. Thank you so much.

You can watch the entire interview with President Rouhani, including what he had to say about North Korea's nuclear program.

Quick break knew. And Jack Johnson joins us next. He'll talk about his new album Pollution and Politics, with a couple digs at President Trump. Stay with us.


VAUSE: On January 20, this year, at the capitol, Donald trump raised his right hand, placed his left on two Bibles and the chief justice administered the oath of office. After that it really began. The protest. A few thousand gathered in washington for the inauguration. A day later, came one of the biggest protests in U.S. history, the women's march. Protest were held in cities around the world. Then came the airport protest over an executive order banning entry into the U.S. for Muslims from certain countries. Days. Not my president ds. A day for women. Impeachment march. Many turning out have never been politically active before.

Adding to the list of first time, the most mellow song writer in the world, Jack Johnson, the Hawaiian song writer. But the lead single from his latest album heads into new territory with political and social commentary.




VAUSE: The song is called "My Mind Is for Sale."

Jack joins me now.

Thank you for coming in.

JACK JOHNSON, SINGER & SONGWRITER: Thanks for having me.

VAUSE: I was listening to the entire album. I heard "M mind is for sale." Mellow. Clearly, it's a different track 4zr you. Why the change? Why now?

[02:45:09] JACKSON: It's what's interesting this one ended up being one of the catchier songs on the record. More people are hearing it. Every album I've made I have had politically, socially. We had a song as we started the Iraq war. All my thoughts. And a similar song I woke up one morning and wrote everything down. And I'll do a page or two of writing and grab a line or two. Sleep through the static. Everything I wrote I used. It came down and "My Mind Is for Sale" was similar. Thoughts, part of the thoughts were how do explain this to my children what was happening. The same person that I kind of explained this is sort of for entertainment don't worry about it. As that became the front runner and the president of the United States, just sort of thoughts as a father.




VAUSE: There was one review which read "My Mind Is for Sale." "When Johnson gets angry he often delivers his best work." It didn't sound angry.

JOHNSON: I try not to get angry. Joyful participation. My favorite writer talks about, if you're going to participate, do it joyfully. I'm not trying to write an anti-Trump song. Of his ideas. Ask if anything it's a pro-love song. I look at something and instead of only tearing it down, you want to replace I with something positive. It's an idea of walls that divide us that was not a good thing. It's about being proactive on how to include people.

VAUSE: Another track, "You Can't Control." Here's a clip from the music video.



(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: That's a time lapse from the scene on the beach. Collecting all the plastic that washed up and me a. State of the ocean. And they're bad.


VAUSE: Clearly, that's the motivation for the clip.

JOHNSON: That song is about different things. It has a lyric that refers to when you dunk in the vast ocean the idea of the oceanic experience of everything is connected. It's like it spoke the ocean. That was a shot we had from doing the cover image we gather, all the plastic and pollution that was just in the beach on the east shore. On the islands of Hawaii. Acts as a filter in the Pacific Ocean. And all this trash that people think including myself that we are throwing away, it doesn't go away. It's all over the place. And one of the places is the ocean. It fragments down to little pieces that become a smog of the sea.

VAUSE: It's plastic free. There's no plastic.

JOHNSON: We do our best. It's little steps along the way. We have gotten venues to participate. We had on the last run we had a few venues that done plastic free shows. As a surfer, it makes me happy to not see plastic.

VAUSE: Another environmental issue is climate change. Which we're seeing play out. Some of the destructive hurricanes. And is it disturbing to you despite the destruction that we have seen, recently, that there's still people out there, including the president of the United States that doubt the science?

JOHNSON: We're talking about coral bleaching around the world. It's something in Hawaii I have seen devastation to the reeds of just that were colorful and alive. I have seen them go to just dead and white. And you get brownish gray green that grows on it. It heartbreaking for anybody to see. Ando to have a leader of the country to be pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, to gut the EPA and those choices, to me it's just, to everybody, it's heartbreaking.




[02:49:58] JOHNSON: For me I have always tried to do what I'm writing in the place I'm at. Right out of college, it was songs about how do you live with six people in one house. Relationship songs. As I've gone on when I had kids. I'm a 42 year-old. I'm trying to figure out how to explain to them what's going on. Major issues like climate change. Other times, a love song about making breakfast in the morning. My perspective now as a father, these are the things on my mind.

VAUSE: Good luck. JOHNSON: Thank you.

VAUSE: Good to meet you.

JOHNSON: Cheers.

SESAY: Well, quick break. Donald Trump is taking center stage at the United Nations this week. We'll check on what usually happens when the U.S. president tackles the tough questions.


SESAY: From "you're fired" to "drain the swamp," Donald Trump is famous for catch phrases. And there's another one people are hearing more.

CNN's Jeanne Moos reports.



TRUMP: We'll see what happens.

MOOS: The president's favorite answer. On Monday, he deployed it at the U.N.

TRUMP: As far as the North Korea is concerned, I think most of you know how I feel. We'll see what happens.

MOOS: From Korea to Russia.

TRUMP: We'll see what happens.

MOOS: From hurricanes.

TRUMP: We'll see what happens.

MOOS: To health care.

TRUMP: We'll see what happens. No particular rush.

MOOS: It's perfect to fill time when the president is in no particular rush to answer. Or maybe he wants to build suspense.

TRUMP: Something could happen with respect to the Paris Accord. We'll see what happens.

MOOS: One critic tweeted, "It's like he thinks every question is a chance for a teaser heading into a commercial break."

The phrase is so beloved by the president that he used it three times in a mere five-second answer on the subject of North Korea.

TRUMP: We'll see what happens.

We'll see what happens.

We'll see what happens.

MOOS (on camera): In a few cases, we have actually seen what happens.

TRUMP: We'll see what happens with Mr. Bannon.

MOOS (voice-over): Three day later, he went bye-bye.

And James Comey.

TRUMP: I have confidence in him. We'll see what happens.

MOOS: Comey was fired less than a month later.

When the president mentions seeing what happens.

TRUMP: I'm very disappointed with the attorney general. We'll see what happens.

MOOS: Beware. Your job could be eclipsed.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


SESAY: You've been watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

The news continues with Rosemary Church in Atlanta after the short break.

We leave you with the special performance of "My Mind Is for Sale" by Jack Johnson.

You're watching CNN.


[02:54:26] (SINGING)




[03:00:06] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It sounds like a tornado outside and it feels like it.