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AT THIS HOUR
Today: Trump Decision On Possible U.S. Withdrawal; CNN: Trump Likely To Approve Sanctions, Begin Withdrawal; CNN: Trump Getting Increasingly Frustrated With Giuliani; Trump's New Attorneys Don't Have Security Clearance; NY Attorney General Resigns Over Assault Allegations. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired May 8, 2018 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks so much for joining us. I'm Poppy Harlow.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Berman. "AT THIS HOUR" with Kate Bolduan starts right now.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. The clock ticks and the world waits. Just three hours from now, President Trump will make the biggest foreign policy announcement of his entire presidency, the future of the Iran deal. Sources say that he is expected to push ahead on sanctions against Iran, which means a first step toward pulling out of the deal. But those same sources, of course, also say nothing is final until the president speaks. So, what has he said? Quite a lot.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The Iran deal, which may be the single worst deal I've ever seen drawn by anybody -- one of the worst and most one-sided transactions. It is a bad deal. It is a bad structure. It is falling down. Should have never, ever been made. What kind of a deal is it where you're allowed to test missiles all over the place?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Add to that, the newest members of his foreign policy team, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo celebrated Trump's election with this since deleted tweet, "I look forward to rolling back the disastrous deal with the world's largest state sponsor of terrorism."
And new National Security Adviser John Bolton echoed that last summer, tweeting this, "withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal should be a top priority for the Donald Trump administration."
So, all signs here point to see you later Iran deal. But yet another public service announcement contradiction may be the only constant coming from the president these days. So, stand by. And worth noting, those hawkish views aren't necessarily shared by most of the country at the moment. According to a new CNN poll, fewer than one in three Americans believe the U.S. should withdraw from the nuclear deal, 63 percent saying they oppose that move. Again, my friends, the world watches and waits.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT TRUMP: There is a chance nobody knows what I'm going to do on the 12th, although Mr. President, you have a pretty good idea, but we'll see.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: We sure will. Soon enough. There is a lot to break down here. Let's bring in CNN's chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, for much more on this. Jim, before we get to the big announcement, remind everybody what is in the deal and what the president needs to decide by May 12th.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: So, what's in the deal. The basic exchange here was Iran agrees to freeze its nuclear program, shipped the vast majority of enriched uranium out of the country, that's the precursor to a nuclear weapon. Reduce the number of centrifuges that enrich that uranium, and allow very intrusive inspections by the IAEA, the nuclear watchdog.
In return for that, Iran had U.S., European, U.N. sanctions waived basically allowed it to have access to frozen Iranian funds that were frozen a number of years ago, able to sell its oil on international markets, able to have European companies go in there and do business, sell cars, you name it.
That's the essential quid pro quo there. And the fact is U.S. intelligence agencies have found both under the Obama administration and the Trump administration that within the bounds of that deal Iran is complying with that.
It's allowing the access to those inspectors. It has stopped spinning those centrifuges, et cetera. But the president in effect makes a different argument that that limited deal, that deals only with its nuclear program, should not have been made.
And that you should have had a bigger deal that deals for instance with its testing of ICBMs, precursors to ICBMs, et cetera. That appears to be the president's problem with this deal. But the fact is, and I should say, not just U.S. intelligence chiefs, but also Israeli intelligence chiefs say that within the confines of the deal, Iran has been sticking to its side of it.
BOLDUAN: Jim, if the president pulls the United States out completely, what happens next?
SCIUTTO: Well, I'll tell you, I met with European diplomats who have been trying to lobby the president, keep in mind this is another international agreement, along with the climate deal TPP, for instance, that -- the closest U.S. allies want the U.S. to stay in. They've advised the U.S. to stay in, but Trump has made different decisions. I spoke with a senior European diplomat yesterday. I asked him the very question you asked me, Kate, and he said, we don't know.
And in fact, he said it is his view that the Trump administration doesn't know, that they haven't prepared for the consequences of this. You may hear today, Kate, something that sounds look a half measure, saying, well, we're only allowing some sanctions to go forward, we're not doing others, it is going to take some time for that.
I want to tell you this fact, the way the Europeans are partners in the deal, they say that just the question mark could be enough to kill the deal because what company in the world is going to want to do business with Iran if there is a threat, even if it doesn't happen today, of U.S. sanctions action. That's the view of U.S. partners in this.
BOLDUAN: Jim, great to see you. Thank you for coming in. Appreciate it.
SCIUTTO: Thank you.
[11:05:05] BOLDUAN: With me now to further discuss this, CNN national security analyst, Samantha Vinograd, a former adviser on President Obama's National Security Council, and Ambassador Dennis Ross who served on the National Security Council or in the State Department for four presidents. Great to see both of you.
Ambassador, CNN's reporting is that the president is likely to allow sanctions on Iran to continue. If that is what the president announces and nothing else this afternoon, is the Iran deal dead?
DENNIS ROSS, COUNSELOR, THE WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR NEAR EAST POLICY: Well, it may be on life support. I'm not sure it is dead, but it may be on life support. I would say this, I suspect what he will do, but I'm very humble when it comes to predicting what President Trump will do.
I suspect what he will do is say he's no longer going to wave sanctions, but he is not necessarily going to go ahead and implement them either. And that he will use this period of not implementing the sanctions to give the Europeans more of a chance to try to work out a set of understandings with us and possibly even with the Iranians as well.
The Iranians for their part will react to this and say once you don't wave the sanctions, that means you're violating the agreement, which means they're justified in walking away. I don't believe, however, that they will move quickly to walk away. I think they want to present themselves as being the victim.
I think they want to play upon the European attitudes and create a divide between the United States and Europe. I think they want to try to get the Europeans to create some inducements or incentives for Iran to stay in the deal. So, I suspect that's what we will see in the near term.
BOLDUAN: So, Ambassador, are you saying that if that plays out, this isn't really that big of a move. It is bluster on everybody's side right now?
ROSS: No, I'm not saying it is bluster on everybody's side. What I'm saying is you are obviously raising fundamental questions about this agreement, you do have the United States taking a step that is inconsistent with its obligations to it.
Iran, I believe, will want to present itself in such a way that it tries to draw the Europeans more to them and divide them from the United States because ensuring that we don't carry out sanctions that are collective is the best thing for the Iranians.
Having said all that, you're taking a step into the unknown. And the Iranians, my guess is, even though they'll try to play the victim, I suspect they will also begin on the margins to do things they're not supposed to do and say, look, you can't blame us, it is the Americans who walked away from the deal.
BOLDUAN: Samantha, do you think the president can do these two things at once? Might be threading the needle, might be impossible, you tell me. A lot of the sanctions, what the ambassador said, say he's no longer going to wave sanctions on Iran and also negotiate a new deal at the same time?
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I don't think so. I don't think there is any possibility of a partial pullout scenario when it comes to Iran. The sanctions are what Iran cares about. If they are not waved by Saturday, the United States is in violation of the agreement.
And regardless of when those sanctions do go back into effect, we have to be clear eyed. There is going to be an immediate impact on U.S. national security, on several fronts. Our interests and personnel in the region will be at greater risk and it will be Iran and the other signatories against the United States.
We are going to be isolated in this case. And finally, we're going to become the scapegoat, again, within Iran. When Ambassador Ross and I were at the White House together, the regime was able to manipulate their own economic mismanagement and blame the United States for everything that was wrong in Iran.
If we abrogate our responsibilities and violate the agreement, that's giving a card over to the regime and they can again make the United States a scape goat.
BOLDUAN: Ambassador, Donald Trump made no secret he wants to undo what President Obama did on many fronts. Do you think that's what's driving this decision?
ROSS: I do think it is a major element. I would say this, there clearly were flaws in the deal. And I think the Israeli intelligence revelations created the ability to use those revelations as a lever to try to affect some of the flaws.
I believe it would have made much more sense for the president to announce that he was going to maintain the wavers for the time being, but he was going to be talking further with the Europeans about the significance of the revelations.
Including the fact that the Iranians who promised never to seek, acquire or develop nuclear weapons and also in the agreement itself made clear that they would not engage in computer modeling or computer simulations of weaponizing.
They maintain all the materials that would allow them to do that. You can ask the question, why do they do that when they committed not to do any of those things? So, that could have been a lever to then work with the Europeans.
I'm afraid it is going to be much harder to work with the Europeans to try to, in a sense, address those questions when it looks like the Americans have already made a decision to walk away.
BOLDUAN: And Samantha, when the Iranian foreign minister says if the U.S. leaves the deal, quote is, "we will exercise the right to respond in a manner of our choosing." What is he threatening?
[11:10:12] VINOGRAD: I think he could be threatening retaliation again against U.S. personnel or assets in the region and I think that that's dangerous. That's happening at same time we're about to open our embassy in Jerusalem, for example.
So, if I was at the National Security Council right now, and I was working with Ambassador Bolton, I would be very hopeful that he's undergoing a very thorough intelligence and security review to determine whether we need to plus up any of our security resources in the region to protect our people.
BOLDUAN: First and foremost, stand by to stand by. Let's hear what the president has to say at 2:00. Everyone listening to his words very carefully here and around the world. Ambassador, thank so much. Samantha, thank you as always.
Coming up for us, Rudy Giuliani may not want to get too comfortable right now. What CNN has just learned about why the former New York mayor may be falling out of favor with his boss.
And rising star on the Democratic Party, out of a job, the stunning allegations and quick demise of one of the -- of one of President Trump's most outspoken critics. Be right back.
BOLDUAN: President Trump's new attorney, Rudy Giuliani, a.k.a. Trump's legal attack dog, it seems, might not want to get too comfortable or start measuring the drapes. Multiple new reports now that the president who was so pleased with Giuliani's approach to it all last week is now less than pleased this week. Are you feel a little sense of deja vu like I am at the moment?
CNN's Kaitlan Collins is at the White House for us with much more. Kaitlan, what are you hearing about this?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Kate, it did not take long for Rudy Giuliani to fall out of the president's good graces here. He's only been on the legal team for about three weeks now. Not even three weeks and already the president is disappointed in his performance.
Of course, the president brought Rudy Giuliani, his longtime friend, on, because he thought he was going to be able to help bring this Russia investigation to an end much more quickly with more aggressive approach, something that matched the way that the president wanted to go after this.
But now after this string of interviews that Rudy Giuliani has done here in the last week, starting with that bombshell referencing the payment to Stormy Daniels, the president is now thinking that Rudy Giuliani is causing more headaches than he is solving problems, which is exactly what the president brought him on to do.
He was particularly bothered by that clip of Rudy Giuliani on Sunday, refusing to say -- refusing essentially, Kate, to rule out that the president would not plead the Fifth Amendment if it came down to it with the special counsel's investigation.
And now the president is very exasperated with him, but it is not just the president. White House staffers are as well because they feel like they have been left in the dark. They're left out of the conversations between the president and Giuliani and Giuliani goes on television and contradicts what they have been saying for months.
And several staffers in the White House have said that the reaction to Giuliani has been overall negative with some of them questioning privately, when was the last time he practiced law and even questioning if he's all there mentally, Kate.
So, a lot of bad reaction to say the least here in the White House. He's also causing problems with national security officials by speaking about North Korea, the Iran deal, several things they say he is not a White House employee.
He does he not have a security clearance. He has not been briefed on these things. So, Kate, certainly quite a change in the last three weeks since Rudy Giuliani was initially brought on board.
BOLDUAN: Something short of glowing reviews there we could say. Kaitlan, thank you so much. I appreciate it.
Joining me right now with much more on this is Asha Rangappa, CNN legal and national security analyst, former FBI special agent. Asha, you never want someone to review -- have a review of you and say they don't think you're all there. If the president is not happy now with Rudy Giuliani, after being so happy with his initial performance, how long do you think he lasts? ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I think if the president is smart, he would not last much longer. I believe that the president has brought on Emmet Flood, who is a very well- regarded attorney and I think what he needs is somebody who is going to basically keep a steady ship and not create more legal problems and contradict what the narrative is that the legal team is on. You want them to be speaking with one voice, that's what he's going to want. It doesn't sound like Giuliani is on the same page.
BOLDUAN: Giuliani is not speaking with one voice for himself from interview to interview. The "Wall Street Journal" is reporting that the -- that Trump's legal team has set something of a deadline for May 17th on whether or not the president is going to testify before the special counsel. What do you make of this? It seems to me self- imposed deadline. What do you make of it?
RANGAPPA: Well, I think they're going to need to make a decision one way or the other. If they decide not to sit down with Mueller, then they are going to need to prepare a legal strategy because it is inevitable that Mueller is going to issue a subpoena --
BOLDUAN: Do you think it is inevitable?
RANGAPPA: I do. I think that Mueller is going to cover all his bases and treat him as he would any other witness. I think he'll try to be as courteous as possible and, you know, observe all the niceties you would for the president. But at that stage, his legal team is going to have to come up with a constitutional strategy to move forward if they're not going to sit down voluntarily.
BOLDUAN: One thing that strikes me in all of this, you talk about -- has to do with the turnover of the legal team, is one of the problems that it seems that this legal team for President Trump is running up against is security clearance. Because of the turnover rate, how quickly this is all moved for the president, it appears the only attorneys who have a security clearance are ones that have either just left or are leaving at the end of this month.
Rudy Giuliani does not have clearance quite yet and may not according to some reports get it. What problems does that simple fact pose for the president when he's facing the Mueller investigation?
RANGAPPA: I don't know that at this stage it poses a problem necessarily. They're not right now reviewing what Mueller has in his possession. That's what would be classified. You know, I think that they do -- you know, if it moves forward, he's not going to go to trial. This is eventually going to get decided in the political realm.
[11:15:02] What I think they need to do is basically just get the facts straight at this point. I think they can worry about the classified issues that may come up later when --
BOLDUAN: What you're telling me is cart before the horse.
RANGAPPA: Cart before the horse. I think they just want to have a legal strategy at this stage.
BOLDUAN: All right. Let's start there. Great to see you, Asha. Thank you so much. I appreciate it.
Coming up for us, a major ally of the "Me Too Movement" now facing shocking abuse allegations of his own. What ended the political career of a rising Democratic star and so quickly in just hours.
BOLDUAN: Talk about your old statements coming back to bite you. This time we're not even talking about the president of the United States at this moment. Actually, one of his chief critics, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, yes, this Eric Schneiderman.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC SCHNEIDERMAN, NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: We have never seen anything as despicable as what we have seen here, a pervasive pattern, a sexual harassment intimidation, discrimination and abuse at the Weinstein company.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[11:25:09] BOLDUAN: Schneiderman now is facing this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONAN FARROW, WRITER, "THE NEW YORKER": I just want to relate the message of one of these women and it was a shared sentiment amongst this group, that this was not role playing. That this was not 50 shades of gray. It wasn't in a gray area at all. This was activity that happened in many cases fully clothed, outside of a sexual context, during arguments.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: If you blinked yesterday, you could have missed it. Within three hours of that story by Ronan Farrow publishing, Schneiderman resigned, putting out this statement about the allegations against him, "While these allegations are unrelated to my professional conduct or the operations of the office, they will effectively prevent me from leading the office's work at this critical time. I therefore resign my office."
Joining me right now with more details, CNN national correspondent, Brynn Gingras. Brynn, how did this all go down so quickly?
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A tremendous fall from grace from a rising politician and a man who really was a champion for women during the "Me Too Movement." He filed an enormous lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein, the Weinstein company, passed anti-choking legislation in New York in 2010.
Let's talk about the allegations in the "New Yorker." They were made by a total of four women, and paint two very different pictures of Eric Schneiderman. According to "The New Yorker," three women had romantic relationships with Schneiderman, none say they consented to physical abuse this in those relationships.
Two of the women spoke on the record, two other women wanted to remain anonymous, but their stories similar. In the fact that they accuse Schneiderman of violence, choking, slapping, demeaning comments, to the point two women say they even had to go to the hospital.
Two of the women claim many times the abuse happened after Schneiderman had been heavily drinking and they say he would threaten to kill them if the women left the relationship. At the time, the women never did go to authorities.
In response to the article, Schneiderman said in a statement, "In the privacy of intimate relationships, I have engaged in role playing and other consensual sexual activity. I have not assaulted anyone. I've never engaged in nonconsensual sex, which is a line I would not cross."
But you just heard Ronan Farrow there and again he's one of the journalists for the "New Yorker," who broke this story and he described the women's experiences this way on "NEW DAY."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FARROW: These women described, and they produced these fact patterns independently, you know. These are not women talking to each other in almost all cases. They described really horrific and serious allegations of abuse. Slapping, hitting, choking, bear in mind, this is an individual who was a very public champion of women's rights, who in fact introduced anti-choking legislation. And he was according to multiple women in this story choking them among other things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GINGRAS: Immediately after the story was published there were calls for Schneiderman's resignation and then he did, like Kate said, just three hours after the "New Yorker" article was on print, he now -- we do now have an acting attorney general, Barbara Underwood is her name.
She's worked in several New York district attorney's offices, argued 20 cases before the Supreme Court, and clerked for Justice Thorogood Marshall. But Kate, certainly, this is just the beginning of the spiral down of things that are to come for Eric Schneiderman.
BOLDUAN: Pretty amazing. Brynn, thanks much for bringing that to us. I really appreciate it.
Joining me right now, CNN Politics reporter and editor-at-large, Chris Cillizza, and also CNN senior media correspondent, the host of "RELIABLE SOURCES," Brian Stelter is here.
I mean, Brian, Brynn lays it out, but the hypocrisy of this moment is impossible to miss. You can list out and it could take a long time to list out all of the ways that Eric Schneiderman was championing throughout his career women's causes and was chief among those going after Harvey Weinstein.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I remember sitting in his office when he was holding a press conference about this just a couple of months ago, filing a lawsuit against Harvey and Bob Weinstein and the Weinstein company. He was trying to ensure there would be a victims' fund so that some of Weinstein's victims are compensated.
He was trying to make sure the executives involved would not be in the future version of the company, all of that work continues according to the AG's office. Those lawsuits will continue. This is obviously a blow for that effort and the hypocrisy here is absolutely suffocating.
I think he knows that. Maybe that's one of the reasons why it took three hours from the story to the resignation. When do you ever see that in politics?
BOLDUAN: Never or maybe not often enough if I look on Capitol Hill at this very moment. Chris, the president's family and his allies, they didn't -- speaking of quick response, didn't wait a moment to revel in Schneiderman's downfall. He wasn't just a political critic of the president's family. He was taking Trump and his family to court. How big of a blow is his resignation to those cases and investigations that he had started?
CHRIS CILIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Well, as Brian said, those will go on. I think Eric Schneiderman did these things at least in part because in his public life he believed it, but also because he saw this as a venue to other things.
Being one of the main foils to Donald Trump as a Democrat is not the worst thing in the world politically speaking.