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Iran Nuclear Deal; Russia Investigation; Taliban Captured Family Returns to Canada; Weinstein Scandal; Rohingya Crisis; Puerto Ricans without Water; California Fires. Aired 2-2:30a ET

Aired October 14, 2017 - 02:00   ET




ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Ahead on NEWSROOM, President Trump threatening to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal if Congress and U.S. allies don't take a harder line against the country.

In Tehran, President Rouhani saying it's now clear the U.S. is against the people of Iran.

Hello, everyone. Thanks so much for your company. I'm Anna Coren. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.


COREN: Well, nine months after taking office, Donald Trump is aggressively dismantling what his predecessor, Barack Obama, accomplished during eight years. Against the advice of his own cabinet, and key U.S. allies, the U.S. president on Friday declared Iran was no longer in compliance with the landmark nuclear deal negotiated during the Obama administration.

The fate of that agreement is now uncertain. Mr. Obama's signature health care law is also under fire. On Thursday, Mr. Trump ordered an end to government subsidies to help the poor buy health insurance. For more, here's CNN's Ryan Nobles.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Friday was promise-keeping day at the White House. And for the Trump administration, that meant going after some of Barack Obama's key accomplishments.

NOBLES (voice-over): President Trump is trying to make good on major campaign promises with two key policy moves that could have dramatic consequences.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am announcing a new strategy to address the full range of Iran's destructive actions.

NOBLES (voice-over): Mr. Trump unveiling a new approach to the nuclear agreement with Iran, decertifying the deal and forcing Congress to come up with a plan within 60 days. TRUMP: We will not continue down a path whose predictable conclusion is more violence, more terror and the very real threat of Iran's nuclear breakout.

NOBLES (voice-over): In addition to forcing Congress to make the deal tougher, the president promised new economic sanctions and sanctions against Iran's Revolutionary Guard. He warned that if he doesn't like the congressional plan, he is prepared to pull out of the deal completely.

TRUMP: In the event we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies, then the agreement will be terminated.

NOBLES (voice-over): This warning matches the president's strong condemnation of the Iran deal on the campaign trail.

TRUMP: The Iran deal, forget about deals between countries. This is one of the dumbest contracts I've ever seen of any kind.

NOBLES (voice-over): But pulling out completely could potentially isolate the U.S. from key allies that support the Iran agreement. It also stands in contrast to the recommendations of the president's key advisers, like Defense Secretary James Mattis, who argued the U.S. is better off in the deal.

GEN. JAMES MATTIS, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Absent indications to the contrary, it is something the president should consider staying with.

NOBLES (voice-over): And it comes despite the fact that the administration concedes Iran has lived up to their end of the bargain.

REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: My view of the nuclear deal is they are in technical compliance of the nuclear arrangement.

NOBLES (voice-over): While the move may make U.S. allies and diplomats nervous, it will likely be welcomed by the president's supporters, enthusiastically cheered by his speech at the Conservative Value Voters Summit.

In addition to pointing to his plan with Iran, as an example of his attempt to make good on campaign promises, the president bragged about his decision to withhold cost sharing payments for insurance companies as the first step to repealing and replacing ObamaCare.

Republicans have argued for some time that the payments to insurance companies were unlawful. Today Mr. Trump argued the payments were just making insurance companies rich.

TRUMP: As far as the subsidies are concerned, I don't want to make the insurance companies rich.

NOBLES (voice-over): But Democrats contend the White House is purposely attempting to dismantle ObamaCare in an attempt to force Congress to take action, a move that could result in many Americans paying higher insurance rates. Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi called the move,

quote, "a spiteful act of vast, pointless sabotage, leveled at working families and the middle class in every corner of America."

The president argues he's just following through on his campaign pledge.

TRUMP: In the last 10 months, we have followed through on one promise after another.

NOBLES: And it's not surprising President Trump is focusing on health care and Iran. If you paid attention to his campaign, a key theme was an implied promise that he was going to do everything he can to undo the Obama legacy. He is now taking direct aim at two of Barack Obama's most significant accomplishments -- Ryan Nobles, CNN, at the White House.


COREN: Well, many U.S. allies reacted with dismay to Mr. Trump's decision on the Iran nuclear deal. They say they will continue to honor the international agreement. Response from Iranian leaders to Mr. --


COREN: -- Trump was swift and harsh.


HASSAN ROUHANI, IRANIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): This is an international multilateral deal that has been ratified by the U.N. Security Council. It is a U.N. document.

Is it possible for a president to unilaterally decertify this important international deal?

Apparently he is not in the know.


COREN: Well, Mr. Trump's declaration of Iranian noncompliance conflicts with the view of international inspectors and his own secretary of state. The thorny issue now goes to the U.S. Congress. It has 60 days to pass tougher legislation toward Tehran that satisfies the president.

That includes taking a harder line on Iran's ballistic missile program, which was not part of the original nuclear deal. Earlier I spoke to political analyst Peter Matthews about President Trump's stance on Iran.


PETER MATTHEWS, CYPRESS COLLEGE: By Trump signifying that there's a good chance he could withdraw from the deal, that he's not going to certify that Iran is in compliance when actually all the other forces such as the international inspectors say that they are, and our allies, Germany, Britain, France, all of them want to keep the deal, as do Russia and China, and we're the only ones pulling out of it or seeming to go in that direction.

Very destabilizing, very uncertain and there's going to be a second problem for Trump now. He was dealing with North Korea all this time and wrapped up on that situation. Now he's going to have another thing on his hands in the Middle East. It's very dangerous. I would urge the president go ahead and certify it once again and not force Congress to do things like sanctions once more.


COREN: He did however stop short of unraveling the agreement, heeding the advice of his Defense secretary, his secretary of state and others in his cabinet.

Why did he do this, considering his fierce opposition to the deal and his election promise?

MATTHEWS: Well, because his own secretary of state, his chief of staff, his Defense secretary Mattis, they all said that Iran is in compliance and we should keep the deal and yet he went against it. And I think he is doing it for his base, his political base, that he's trying to get reelected with in 2020 or in 2018 for the Congress.

He's got this base, this right-wing base, that wants him to break the deal with Iran and they think that's a tough way to go and to show American strength. It's actually not showing American strength. It's causing a lot of instability and uncertainty around the world, even with our allies.


COREN: Political analyst Peter Matthews there.

The investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election has taken another step forward. The special counsel's office interviewed former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus on Friday. Our Jim Sciutto has details.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF U.S. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: We're learning that special counsel Robert Mueller's team has now interviewed Reince Priebus, the former chief of the staff to the president.

This interview took place here in Washington at the offices of Robert Mueller. Priebus' lawyer tells CNN that it was voluntary, he was happy to cooperate. But it shows this investigation is now extending to the most senior advisers to the president. Priebus is key not only because he was chief of staff until recently but he was the chairman of the Republican National Committee.

During the campaign in 2016 when Russian meddling in the election was taking place. The list does not end there. It is our understanding that the special counsel also wants to speak with the current communications director, Hope Hicks; the current White House counsel, Don McGann as well as former White House spokesman Sean Spicer.

Topics he's interested in looking into, the firing of James Comey, the FBI director; the firing of national security adviser Michael Flynn as well as a meeting on Air Force One that took place as "The New York Times" was first reporting, a meeting in June 2016 between Donald Trump Jr. and Russian lawyers, who were promising damaging information on Hillary Clinton.

All of this showing how seriously the special counsel is taking those various lines of investigation -- Jim Sciutto, CNN, Washington.


COREN: A family held hostage for five years by a Taliban-linked group is safe in Canada and giving a shocking account of how the militants treated them. Canadian Joshua Boyle and his American wife, Caitlan Coleman, were captured while backpacking in Afghanistan.

Pakistani forces freed them Thursday and they returned to Canada with three children the following day. Clearly angry, Boyle told reporters in Toronto his kidnappers authorized the murder of his baby girl and raped his wife.


JOSHUA BOYLE, KIDNAP VICTIM: The stupidity and the evil of the Haqqani Networks, kidnapping of a pilgrim and his heavily pregnant wife, engaged in helping ordinary villagers in Taliban controlled regions of Afghanistan, was eclipsed only by the stupidity and the evil of --


BOYLE: -- authorizing the murder of my infant daughter, Martyr Boyle, as retaliation for my repeated refusal to accept an offer that the criminal miscreants of the Haqqani Network had made to me and the subsequent and the stupidity and evil of the subsequent rape of my wife, not as a lone action by one guard but assisted by the captain of the guard and supervised by the commandant, Abu Haja (ph) of the Haqqani Network. God willing, this litany of stupidity will be the epitaph of the Haqqani Network.


COREN: Joshua Boyle, speaking there in Toronto.

The Motion Picture Academy will hold a vote Saturday to possibly strip Harvey Weinstein of his membership. The Academy hosts the Oscars awards and there is reportedly a push within the group to remove Weinstein.

That would be a crushing blow to the embattled film producer, who's already been fired from his job at his namesake company after widespread sexual harassment allegations. Meanwhile, actresses Continue to voice against Weinstein and against the culture of silence over sexual misconduct in Hollywood. Our Jason Carroll has more.


JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For years, Rose McGowan was known for her hit TV series, "Charmed," and for her movies. But now the actress is in the spotlight for accusing former film executive Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct.

"The New York Times" reports that, in 1997, after McGowan appeared in the movie, "Scream," she reached a settlement with Weinstein after an alleged incident involving him in a hotel room. Weinstein denied any wrongdoing.

Over the years, McGowan has not kept quiet about the alleged assault but never named Weinstein. Her outrage coming to a head Thursday, when she took to Twitter, accusing Weinstein of raping her.

In a tweet to Amazon's chief, Jeff Bezos, McGowan said, "I told the head of your studio that HW raped me. He said it hadn't been proven. I said, I was the proof."

That unnamed head of Amazon Studios, Roy Price. Amazon released a statement saying Price is on leave of absence effective immediately. The move comes after a female producer lodged a complaint against Price.

McGowan's followers credit her for speaking out but the actress' prolific tweeting took a hit after Twitter temporarily suspended her account on Wednesday. It outraged her followers, the hashtag "WomenBoycottTwitter started trending and calls for no tweeting Friday to support McGowan.

A Twitter spokesperson says her page was not suspended because of her Weinstein rant but because she had violated their policy by posting a private phone number. Whatever the case, her account was restored the next day.

DEE POKU SPALDING, THE OTHER FESTIVAL: Now we have the power of social. We can rally communities around these issues very, very quickly. So that's really what Rose is doing.

CARROLL (voice-over): Dee Poku Spalding is a former Hollywood agent. She, like so many others in Hollywood, knew of Weinstein's behavior.

SPALDING: It was just a sort of an accepted evil.

CARROLL (voice-over): McGowan continues to shame those who she says allowed Weinstein's misconduct to continue for years, tweeting, "You all knew." And to use her platform to advocate for women, like acting legend Tippi Hedren of Hitchcock fame.

TIPPI HEDREN, ACTOR: Oh, I don't think it'll ever stop. I don't think it ever will. CARROLL (voice-over): Hedren recounted her experiences of alleged sexual assault from director Alfred Hitchcock in her book, titled, "Tippi."

HEDREN: I told him that I, you know, just stop it and I walked out. And as I left, he said I'll ruin your career. He didn't ruin me. And in my own mind. And that was worth everything to me.

CARROLL (voice-over): Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.


COREN: Coming up next, more of my interview with journalist Jeffrey Gettleman, who spoke with Rohingya refugees running for their lives from Myanmar.





COREN: Welcome back. Turning now to the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar. Former U.N. Chief Kofi Annan returned to the U.N. on Friday and called for the safe return of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar. This comes as thousands of Rohingyas still flee to Bangladesh.

Many say they were the targets of brutal government-led violence. I spoke earlier about that with "The New York Times" journalist Jeffrey Gettleman, who met dozens of these survivors and asked about the role of Myanmar's de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.


COREN: Jeffrey, you mentioned that these sorts of things happen in dictatorships but we are talking Aung San Suu Kyi, whether she's just a figurehead or a puppet, the fact of the matter is, she is the de facto leader of Myanmar, who is speaking on behalf of the country.

She was a Nobel Peace Prize winner, she was a beacon of human rights, she was the darling of the international community and now she is defending this behavior, denying that it's even happening.

What is happening to her?

JEFFREY GETTLEMAN, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": You know, it's like -- it's like the world is struggling to update the narrative on her and Myanmar. Myanmar had been seen as this success story, this country that had struggled against military dictatorship and opened up in civilian rule, was led by this very charismatic, brave woman.

The problem is that narrative is not completely true. There is still this very brutal thread running through that society and the Rohingyas were the victims of that. I think she's in a tough position. I don't want to defend her. And I don't. I've never met her.

I haven't set foot inside Myanmar. They're not letting journalists like me get to these areas where the people were massacred. But I do think she walks a fine line. She is coming into a country that has a long history of being controlled by the military.

And if she pushes too hard, there could be a coup; they could push her out; there could be a lot of ramifications. With that said, I think there's frustration that she's not trying to do as much as she can to control this brutality and it's like -- it was like open season on these Rohingya civilians.

People like children and young women and old people and just thousands of civilians massacred, unarmed people, innocents, putting up no fight, just murdered by their own government.

COREN: Jeffrey, the United Nations is talking about this. Kofi Annan returned to discuss this issue.

But are you surprised that other countries are not condemning these atrocities?

GETTLEMAN: I think everybody's just hiding behind, that fact that it is difficult to know what exactly happened because you do (INAUDIBLE) there. Watching this unfold, the way journalists have been, let's say, in Rwanda in 1994, where there was footage and there was so much evidence of a genocide, with pictures of bodies in churches and things like that.

This is a little more mysterious because nobody can get there and you're just seeing all these people move. And hearing their accounts of what happened and there is some satellite imagery of villages that were burned down and there are some pieces of evidence.

But that said, we have a very good idea of what went on --


GETTLEMAN: -- inside Myanmar. You wouldn't have half a million people run out of that country on their own feet in a span of a few days if there hadn't been something really horrible that had happened.

So instead of just saying, oh, well, we don't know what really went down inside Myanmar, I think we do. And I think there should be a bigger effort and more pressure to figure out what happened. But like I said, this is the beginning. We're just a few weeks into this story.

And one point which I think is important is you have 500,000 people now stuck in these camps and nobody wants them. Bangladesh is saying, we're going to push them back into Myanmar; we can't afford to keep them. And Myanmar is saying, well, these people don't belong in our country in the first place so we don't want them. And so that's going to create its own crisis. COREN: Jeffrey Gettleman, we really appreciate you bringing this story to us. Many thanks.

GETTLEMAN: My pleasure.


COREN: Stay with CNN. Much more news after the break.




COREN: Exhausted firefighters are contending with strong winds as they battle deadly wildfires in Northern California; 35 people are dead and the flames have consumed nearly 90,000 hectares since they erupted last Sunday.

Harrowing bodycam footage released by the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office shows a deputy responding to the emergency that first night. He runs through the raining ash, drives through walls of flames as embers fly off his car.

Officials saying nearly 8,000 firefighters are working around the clock to contain the 17 blazes. Well, unfortunately California weather conditions will make firefighting difficult once again today.



COREN: In Puerto Rico, basic necessities are still hard to come by. More than three weeks after Hurricane Maria tore through the island, decimated infrastructures isolating entire communities from the help they need. Some people so desperate they are drinking water pumped from hazardous waste sites. Our Leyla Santiago reports from San Juan.


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Three weeks after Hurricane Maria, much of Puerto Rico is still struggling to survive, 91 percent of the island still without power and a third are without fresh water.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: First and foremost, a humanitarian disaster.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): House Speaker Paul Ryan witnessing the devastation today, his tone a stark contrast to President Trump.

TRUMP: I love Puerto Rico. We've done a great job in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico has to get the infrastructure going.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): Earlier this week, President Trump tweeted a FEMA video, highlighting the government's relief efforts, saying, "No one could have done what I've done for Puerto Rico with so little appreciation. So much work."

But this is the reality on the ground: 45 minutes south of San Juan in Caguas (ph), the town's hospital evacuated when the generator failed. One of the doctors told us they are operating on a day-by-day basis without reliable power.

SANTIAGO: Do you think you'll get that help?


SANTIAGO: Do you need the help?


SANTIAGO (voice-over): Eight-year-old Diego is lucky. He's getting off the island. A rare medical condition means life is particularly hard and Mom tells us he's running out of the medicine he needs to stay alive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking Spanish).

SANTIAGO: She says yes, (INAUDIBLE) it it's tough to get this now, she can only imagine what it will be like in the few days and weeks, when there's less on the island.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): In the last 10 days, Florida says more than 36,000 people have fled there from Puerto Rico.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking Spanish).

SANTIAGO (voice-over): Three-year-old Nayeli (ph) is from a mountain top community, will soon be one of them, another family torn apart by Maria.

Senate They're cousins and now they're going to be separated because she's going to Connecticut and she's going to Florida. Their parents are worried about the conditions here.

RYAN: We're in a crisis moment of making sure that lives are saved, that people are put out of harm's way, that hospitals are running, that water is flowing, that power is up and running.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): The government has a long way to go -- for water, for power, for a sense of normalcy to come back to the island of Puerto Rico -- Leyla Santiago, CNN, San Juan, Puerto Rico.


COREN: Thanks for your company and thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Anna Coren. We'll be back with the headlines in just a moment.