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Clerical Error in Iran Statement; Turning Points Story; Kanye under Fire; Aired 8:30-9:00a ET

Aired May 2, 2018 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] ERNEST MONIZ, CO-CHAIRMAN AND CEO, NUCLEAR THREAT INITIATIVE: And, as I say, was simply a blatantly incorrect statement.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Do you have any idea how that went over in Iran?

MONIZ: No, I don't. But I think if -- in Iran, there was probably less concern about that slip than there was about the fact that Prime Minister Netanyahu's presentation obviously raised questions that they are going to have to answer.

Now, let me make it very clear. The -- it did not reveal anything new at a high level, that is, we've always said, and we knew quite well, that Iran had a structured nuclear weapons program until 2003. The revelations now reaffirm that. Frankly, they -- it reaffirms our intelligence communities' conclusion that that program, that structured program, ended around 2003-2004.

CAMEROTA: But is that what it does? I'm sorry to interrupt you, Mr. Secretary, but when we had Benjamin Netanyahu on our air yesterday, what he basically said was that Israeli intelligence has found that Iran is not complying, they're cheating on the deal, because they have kept these atomic records squirreled away in a secret compound. So what's your response to that?

MONIZ: Well, look, the agreement is about verifiably guaranteeing that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program. This does -- I think this information, as I understand it, will reveal more details about the old program, but everyone is in agreement that they are complying with the nuclear restrictions in this agreement.

CAMEROTA: But were they supposed to keep all of their records in a secret compound?

MONIZ: You know, the -- the agreement does not explicitly address that. But I do have to say, it's very hard for them to square this with their statements that they never had a nuclear weapons program. We always said that's incorrect. That's why the agreement is not based upon trust and is extremely detailed. And, secondly, it's certainly inconsistent with the supreme leaders' statement that they will never have a nuclear program. Why do they keep these materials?

So I think the IAEA, the international inspectors, are going to have to drill into this and understand not just what's in the agreement -- in the -- in the information that's being provided to them, but who knew it, where are those people today, are they still in the program?


MONIZ: So I think Iran is really on the spot. The revelations, in my view, reinforce the importance of maintaining the agreement, maintaining the process now that is really going to put Iran on -- on the spot. They were -- they -- it just reinforces what we always said. We knew they had a program. They lied about it. And as Secretary Mattis said, this agreement is written for someone who cheats.

CAMEROTA: But doesn't it also reinforce what President Trump has been saying, which is, this is a lousy deal. We got the raw end of the deal. And Iran is basically not in compliance. Here, let me just play for you the things -- the laundry list of things that President Trump has been saying over and over about the deal that you helped negotiate. Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think Iran is in compliance. President Obama, in his wisdom, gave them $150 billion. He gave them $1.8 billion in cash.

As I have said many times, the Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.

You look at the ballistic missiles that they're going and testing. What kind of a deal is it where you're allowed to test missiles all over the place?


CAMEROTA: What do you say to all of that criticism?

MONIZ: That almost all of it is incorrect. First of all, on the last point, we all know that the agreement, by design, kept Iran from nuclear weapons production. It -- the criticism that was leveled in 2015 and now on missiles, on Hezbollah, on human rights, et cetera, all very serious problems that we have to push back on, they are criticizing what the deal is not, not what the deal is.

Secondly, the deal does not have -- the word was not used in this clip. The deal does not sunset. The most important part of the deal is the verification measures that are very special, unique to Iran. They do not sunset. And, let's face it, if Iran were to try to do a nuclear weapon program again, it would not be at the sites that they have openly declared to the international inspectors. It would be a covert program. That's the most important part of the agreement where the inspectors have the right to go anywhere in a fixed timeframe to look at suspicious sites.

So the -- oh, and, furthermore, by the way, on the funding -- first of all, the $150 billion, mentioned by the president, is --

[08:35:06] CAMEROTA: Yes, we remember. That was a return of their -- of their seized assets. MONIZ: Is not the right number.


MONIZ: Secondly, Iran's complaints are that they have not reaped anything like the economic rewards they hoped for. And I think this revelation of this week by Mr. Netanyahu is clearly going to make companies even more reluctant to invest in Iran until this investigation runs its course.


MONIZ: And that will take a while.

CAMEROTA: And so, Secretary Moniz, very quickly, what happens on May 12th, less than two weeks from now, if President Trump decides to pull out of this deal?

MONIZ: Well, at this stage, we've always said it would be a terrible mistake to pull out for all kinds of reasons, including -- including a wedge being driven between us and our -- especially our European allies. If he pulls out now, it will short circuit exactly a deep investigation that is put in place by the agreement, that is the process of providing this to the IAEA, having them investigate, go to the so-called joint commission of all the negotiating partners in the agreement, ultimately the U.N. Security Council.

Frankly, Iran is now on the spot and it would be foolish to let them off the hook, especially in the context where, as I said, the economic sanctions being waved is still unlikely to open up the spigot for any real investments until Iran clears up this whole set of lies, frankly.


MONIZ: What's happened to the pieces of equipment that are in there? What's happened to the people who did this? This is going to take a while. And if Iran does not cooperate in that, they will either violate the agreement or, in fact, continue in the situation where the international community is not going to welcome investments in their economy.

CAMEROTA: Thank you for your perspective and for all of your expertise.

MONIZ: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Secretary Ernest Moniz, great to talk to you.

MONIZ: Thank you.


CUOMO: President Trump's former physician making an incredible claim. And that word may have significance on two levels. Did he have any direct input on Trump's glowing 2015 health letter? Well, he wrote it, right? Right? Next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:41:33] CUOMO: Time now for the "Five Things to Know for Your New Day."

Number one, a showdown is brewing between President Trump's legal team and Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Sources tell CNN, Mueller raised the possibility of a presidential subpoena if Mr. Trump refuses an interview.

CAMEROTA: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein warns the Justice Department will not, quote, be extorted. The tough talk comes at some House Republicans draft a resolution to try to impeach Rosenstein for failing to turn over Russia documents.

CUOMO: President Trump's long time former doctor, it's a little oxymoronic but still, claims the president dictated his own health letter in 2015. The one that declared then candidate Trump would be, quote, the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.

CAMEROTA: Congressional Democrats tell CNN a top aide to EPA Chief Scott Pruitt directed staffers to consider opening an office in Pruitt's hometown in Oklahoma two weeks before he was confirmed.

CUOMO: A caravan of Central Americans are seeking asylum at the U.S./Mexico border. U.S. border officials says they have processed 28 migrants over the past two days. There are about 125 waiting.

CAMEROTA: OK. So for more on the "Five Things to Know," go to for the latest.

CUOMO: All right, want to talk a little politics about what we have coming up?

CAMEROTA: You know, we have Kanye coming up. This crazy video of Kanye at TMZ --

CUOMO: What, this one?

CAMEROTA: Yes, where one of the TMZ staffers, this guy, gets up and confronts Kanye about some of the opinions that he was sharing.

CUOMO: That man's name is Van Lathan, and you are going to want to remember it.

Now, first, basketball stars.


CUOMO: All right, they tower over the court the way I tower over you in this terrible shot.

CAMEROTA: Over me. I can relate to this.

CUOMO: One athlete at the University of Illinois dominates from a wheelchair. A great story of hers in "Turning Points." (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MIKAYLA JONES (ph): My favorite part about basketball is finding creative ways to shoot or play defensive. We're extremely competitive.

I'm Mikayla Jones (ph), a University of Illinois wheelchair basketball athlete.

When I was younger, I was in a car accident. I was about to be four. And I have an incomplete (ph) spinal cord injury from it. And complete (ph) spinal cord injury is when you sever your spinal cord completely. Mine is bruised or contused. So there's still some signals going through, it's just not all the way.

I think the hardest things like people making it seem like you're a completely different species and it's less -- ha-ha, she's in a wheelchair. It's more like, they just don't talk to you and they pretend that you're not there. I think that was the hardest thing.

Always been shy. Basketball just changed me. I start it when I was really young. I quit and I restarted in the eighth grade. And I haven't stopped.

It's given me just like the ability to do things that I never thought I would do. Sports was definitely a confidence (INAUDIBLE) for me. Even though we're like out there in wheelchairs, we're still going full speed, pushing as hard as we can.

I hope to either go into social work or work in the hospital with kids who have had a trauma. The things that basketball has given me the opportunity to just be like a normal college student.



[08:48:47] CUOMO: OK. So now Kanye West is defending himself against really the indefensible. He said slavery was a choice. Here's the sound.


KANYE WEST, RAPPER: You hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 years? That sound like a choice. Like, you was there for 400 years and it's all of you y'all? You know, like, it's like we're -- we're mentally in prison.


CUOMO: The rapper was then confronted by a TMZ staffer whose name is Van Lathan. Listen to how he rebutted this.


VAN LATHAN, TMZ: I actually don't think you're thinking anything. I think what you're doing right now is actually the absence of thought. And the reason why I feel like that is because, Kanye, you're entitled to your opinion. You're entitled to believe whatever you want. But there is fact and real world, real life consequence behind everything that you just said.

The rest of us in society have to deal with these threats to our lives. We have to deal with the marginalization that has come from the 400 years of slavery that you said for our people was a choice. Frankly, I'm disappointed. I'm appalled. And, brother, I am unbelievably hurt by the fact that you have morphed into something, to me, that's not real.


[08:50:07] CUOMO: Let's bring in CNN contributor and former president and CEO of the NAACP, Cornell William Brooks, and CNN political commentator Marc Lamont Hill.

Marc, your take on the situation and the response from Van Lathan.

MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, let me start with Van first. That's an amazing response. It was genuine. It was smart. It was thoughtful. It was concise. And it was humane. I mean he could have just beat Kanye down, but he didn't. I think Kanye was able to hear him in a way that -- that he wouldn't have otherwise. And I think he kind of modeled how we can have civil discourse in society.

What Kanye said was just inexcusable, ridiculous, and obviously inaccurate. It's disrespectful to our ancestors. It's disrespectful to everyone who resisted every single day. Slaves resisted every day, not just people who jumped off ships, not just people who killed their masters, not just people who ran away, but people who had endured this peculiar institution for centuries. I mean this was something that Kanye -- what Kanye said was something that was just completely wild and inexcusable, but part of a pattern that we're starting to see.

CAMEROTA: Well, I think that that's right. In terms of the pattern, I mean I don't know if you're seeing the same one that I am, but, Cornell, you tell me, is this go with your gut, shoot from the hip, say how you feel, facts being damned, I don't need to read much about history, this is how I feel about it. Is that the pattern that you're seeing exemplified by Kanye?

CORNELL WILLIAMS BROOKS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I'm not sure if he's saying what he feels or saying what he actually thinks without it being well informed thought. His arguments, essentially, it seems to be the fact that so many black people, enslaved people, were enslaved so long is proof positive of a slave mentality. Notwithstanding the fact that there were at least 250 slave rebellions before the abolition of slavery and that people resisted in ways, micro and macro, from the time they got off the ships.

And so I'm not quite sure if it's a matter of what he does not know or that he thinks he knows how to sell records by stirring up controversy. But doing so in a way that disrespects our forbearers, our foremothers and forefathers, it's quite simply unacceptable. And he should know better. And if he doesn't know better, there are plenty of folk around the country, including Professor Hill. I certainly teach a class at Boston University. Plenty of folks who would love to have him sit down and learn about the resistance history of our forbearers that yet lives today, right? So, in other words, the young people who are in the streets today are resisting police misconduct and voter suppression, are literally the moral heirs of their slave forbearers. They stand in the same lineage and legacy. And so when he understates their resistance, he's not only insulting the past, but insulting the present.

CUOMO: Now, look, this is what he does, OK? He did it with the Taylor Swift thing. You know, be provocative, get attention. I was at the memorial for Pfife Dawg, from Tribe Called Quest, who passed away, at the Apollo. He just got up on the stage there and started talking in a way that was like about him. It was a little off key. People were a little -- he wanted the attention.

Now, he's doing it with Trump and he's playing with racial politics and now he's playing with something that is more profoundly meaningful.

HILL: Yes.

CUOMO: Do you think we're seeing some type of evolution in how far this guy will go to get attention? Because we keep giving him the attention.

HILL: Well, I don't want to dismiss the mental health piece of this as well. I don't want to diagnose Kanye either. But, you know, talking to sources, talking to folk, you know, there are some significant questions within his camp about his stability right now.

CAMEROTA: And, by the way --

HILL: Yes.

CAMEROTA: He, himself, on TMZ, admitted that he had a breakdown in 2016.

HILL: Right.

CAMEROTA: And then before that he was abusing opioids.

HILL: Right.

CAMEROTA: That he was taking too many that he had been prescribed.

HILL: Exactly. That's what he's acknowledging.


HILL: So when we look at that -- this also seems to be the performance of someone who could be struggling or going through an episode or going through some kind of psychological challenge right now. And so that's part of it.

There's also the fact that he has bad politics and there's also the fact that even before he was struggling with any kind of mental health issue that we know of, he also craved attention in a very peculiar sort of way. So that makes a really wicked cocktail when you mix all of that together. And I don't know which part is standing out right now. But what is for sure is that Kanye needs to be under control, not just for himself, but for his career. Even if you look at it in self- interest, the way to sell rap records isn't to get a bunch of black people mad at you, right? So -- because even if white people buy it, they buy it when we think it's cool. And we don't think it's cool. So it's just a bad strategy.

CAMEROTA: I think that's a good point.

Cornell, I mean he does have albums coming out. Two of them. June 1st and June 8th. OK. So, yes, he needs publicity. But the idea that this is just a publicity stunt seems self-defeating.

BROOKS: It's self-defeating. And, think about this, Kanye is, in effect, betraying the very art form that made him rich. Hip-hop and rap represents a musical tradition of rage and resistance, not compromise, accommodation and commercialization. And so the best way to sell albums would be not to betray your fans. Can you imagine Public Enemy embracing Ronald Reagan? It's hard for me to imagine Kanye embracing Donald Trump given what Donald Trump stands for. He certainly doesn't stand for what the fans of Kanye West stand for.

[08:55:22] CUOMO: Now the interesting part is this, right? So you have two choices, you shut this guy down, you censor him, you don't give him the attention anymore. But then you don't get this conversation.

HILL: Right.

CUOMO: Is this the better way to go --

HILL: Absolutely.

CUOMO: Or do you think we shouldn't be giving the platform at all?

HILL: Well, the problem is, he's just not some wing nut screaming from the cheap seats.

CUOMO: Right.

HILL: He has, you know, tens of millions of followers. He has the attention of the entire world. If we ignore him, he still has a platform and he'll be articulating that message to his fan base and to the world and his arguments will be used to substantiate bad policy, bad ideas and bad practices. So if we don't say something, and we live Kanye to those people all alone, that's the last thing I want.

CAMEROTA: OK. Cornell Williams Brooks and Marc Lamont Hill, thank you very much for the conversation.

BROOKS: Absolutely.

CAMEROTA: Great to talk to both of you.

BROOKS: Thank you.

HILL: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: CNN "NEWSROOM" with John Berman and Poppy Harlow picks up after this quick break.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow.


[08:59:58] Mr. President, you have been served. Are those words this White House might soon have to grapple with? What would that mean for the presidency, the courts, the Congress?