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Renewed U.S. Sanctions Against Iran Now in Effect; Ex-Deputy Rick Gates Testifies in Manafort Trial; Toughest Sheriff in America Gets Pranked. Aired 12a-1a ET

Aired August 7, 2018 - 00:00   ET


JOHN VAUSE, HOST, NEWSROOM: This is "CNN Newsroom" live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour, "Let's break a deal." The US reimposes economic sanctions on Iran as the US President goes to it alone to try and force Tehran to agree to a new tougher nuclear deal. And now we know, the President admits that Trump Tower was all about getting Kremlin dirt on his opponent, Hillary Clinton. And like a war zone, 66 people wounded and shot, 12 killed from one of the most violent weekends in Chicago in years, and the city's mayor blaming the violence on the shooters' lack of morals.

Hello, welcome to our viewers all around the world. Great to have you with us, I am John Vause. "Newsroom LA" starts right now.

As of this hour, US sanctions on Iran are now back in effect after they were lifted as part of the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal. President Donald Trump pulled out of that agreement back in May. On Monday, the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned the US it would regret this move suggesting before any talks could take place, the Trump administration needs to get back into the agreement, lift the sanctions and then prove it can be trusted.

The "Los Angeles Times" reporter Ramin Mostaghim is in Tehran, he joins us on the line from there, so Ramin, what will be the impact of these sanctions on Iran's economy and what will mean politically?

RAMIN MOSTAGHIM, REPORTER, LOS ANGELES TIMES: Sanctions will be detrimental to Iranian economy as it has been in the past four months, and I suppose the prices will go up after a while, after a temporary reduction of prices, but the economic sanction will be very effective, as has been so far, but the government tries to give and inject hope to the hearts and minds of the people, but so far, it proves to be in vain.

Only just a little bit reduction of 100% increase of the prices, 10% for example since last night, reduced for mobile and other equipments. Ten percent reduction after 100% increase, so it is very meager reduction comparing to the current inflations in the past four months.

VAUSE: Okay, Ramin, we appreciate the update. We will check in with you again, hopefully, next hour. Thank you.

For now, joining us now here in Los Angeles, Dalia Dassa Kaye, she is the Director of the Center for Middle East Public Policy and a senior political analyst for the RAND Corporation, and it's good to have you back.

Okay, if you look at the immediate response, the EU - well, Britain, France and Germany - they have announced that from Tuesday, there will be this - what they call a blocking statute which attempts to protect European firms doing business with Iran from being hit by secondary US sanctions. So, as everyone has predicted, Washington now seems to be isolated from traditional partners, traditional allies and Iran looks like they're the ones abiding by international law.

DALIA DASSA KAYE, DIRECTOR OF THE CENTER FOR MIDDLE EAST PUBLIC POLICY AND A SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST FOR THE RAND CORPORATION: Yes, absolutely. This is a decision that has isolated the US. It is moving Iran closer to China, probably Russia. The EU blocking sanctions signal a governmental attempt to push back against these sanctions. It's not clear what effect they will really have in reality. European firms unfortunately are already leaving Iran, so this will have a devastating effect. I think China is going to be the big wild card here in terms of Iran's ability to muddle through.

VAUSE: In what way? If China supports - if China decides ...

KAYE: China's trade, yes. I think China is Iran's largest trading partner. China has already indicated it will not abide by the sanctions. Again, the entire international community and all of the signatories to this agreement believe Iran is in compliance. So, unless it's a UN mandated sanctions regime, they are not going to be back on board. So the US will be alone.

VAUSE: Okay, so after warning the United States, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani later said he would actually be open, kind of, to talks with Washington. This is what he said.


HASSAN ROUHANI, PRESIDENT OF IRAN (Through a translator): ... that turned their back on dialogue and negotiations, was Mr. Trump and Mr. Trump's administration and this is against the nation of Iran and the national interests of Iran. So, if there is sincerity, Iran has always welcomed dialogue and negotiations.


VAUSE: Yes, it was very qualified with their sincerity. We have always got it - but I am just curious, is the economy in such bad shape that they have made enough pressure from just these sanctions alone from the US for Rouhani and does he speak for the entire government, whether with the hardliners, but are they actually seriously willing to sit down and talk with the US?


KAYE: Well, there is no question there is tremendous domestic pressures, your piece just showed. Whether this is enough to get the Iranians back to the table is unclear, and again, Rouhani does not speak for the entire Iranian government. The Supreme Leader will be critical and frankly, the Iranians do have the upper hand in terms of telling their people it was the US that backed out. We sat in negotiations with the US and the rest of the west, and the international community for two years, and we came up with a deal. This is not our fault, but they are under pressure.

It's just unclear what would the United States be able to give Iran. They would be very worried about looking weak internally, so it's very - I am very skeptical that there is going to be some big ground bargain. It's a lot easier to break things than to build them back.

VAUSE: Yes, they are looking though at what happened in North Korea, that Singapore Summit when Trump met Kim Jong-un and Kim essentially walked away with everything he wanted and a bag of chips, and the US didn't get a whole lot in return. Are they thinking, "Well, maybe we can strike a similar deal."

KAYE: Possibly except the difference here is you already had a deal and so they are unlikely to take less than what they got before and the administration is unlikely to take less than what was already on the table, and they want significantly more. And there was an opportunity to build on the deal with the European allies before. I think that opportunity is gone.

So, I think we're in a tough road ahead where we're likely to see more confrontation than big summit trade.

VAUSE: Yes, to your point. Here is the response from the National Security adviser, John Bolton on that offer of possibly sitting down and talking with the Iranians. Here he is.


JOHN BOLTON, US NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I think President Trump has been consistent since his days on the campaign trail that he would sit down and negotiate with Kim Jong-un with the Ayatollahs in Tehran. That's his approach to diplomacy and as I say, been consistent on it. So if the Iranians are really willing to come and talk about all of their maligned behavior in the region and around the world, I think they'd find the President willing to do it, but once again, this is a question less of what their propaganda is and what their real intentions are.


VAUSE: It sounds like he's already imposing conditions if they are willing to talk about all of their maligned behavior, not just the nuclear agreement because as they say, this is what the Trump administration is looking for. But the criticism here is that what the administration has effectively done is that they found a solution to a problem which didn't really exist in the first place.

KAYE: Yes, there was no problem. There was in fact 11 times, the Atomic Energy Agency has verified Iranian compliance with the deal, so we are creating a problem that we did not have. I think the statement is very similar to the Rouhani statement, interestingly where both sides are posturing, trying to make sure they are not looked at as the bad guy, scuttling this situation, but the conditions are already clear in that statement. Rouhani already suggesting conditions of well, sanctions would have to be lifted, otherwise, it is really hard to proceed.

And the US side saying basically, yes, they have to stop all the bad behavior, be what Secretary of State Pompeo often says, a normal country and he has also listed a number of conditions that would have to be in place for the United States to sit at the table. We will see - the world is full of surprises right now. There is the UN General Assembly in September. There could be an opportunity for a surprise, but the question is, for what end?

VAUSE: Yes, exactly.

KAYE: It's not clear.

VAUSE: Talks just for talks I guess don't really go anywhere at the end of the day. Dalia, thank you, good to see you.

KAYE: Thank you.

VAUSE: Appreciate it. Donald Trump's advisers want him to stop tweeting about his son's 2016 meeting with Russians in an effort to get dirt on Hillary Clinton. A source told CNN the tweets only give oxygen to the story and could provide Special Counsel, Robert Mueller with even more damaging evidence in his Russia investigation. Here is CNN's Jeff Zeleny.


JEFF ZELENY, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: President Trump's summer vacation is sounding more like a venting session. At the Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey today, the President out of public view, but raging on Twitter over the Russia probe.

More explicitly than before, he is zeroing in on a 2016 Trump Tower meeting between his son Donald Trump, Jr., top campaign officials and a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton. "This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics, and it went nowhere. I did not know about it." That Sunday tweet was the most direct acknowledgment yet for the real purpose of the meeting, which is now part of a Special Counsel Robert Mueller's inquiry.

It shows how brazenly misleading the original explanation of the meeting was when Donald Trump, Jr. first said, "We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children." While the President has since defended the meeting ...


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Because I think from a practical standpoint, most people would have taken that meeeting.


ZELENY: One of his lawyers now admitting he made a mistake last year initially describing it.


JAY SEKULOW, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: I had bad information at that point. I made a mistake in my statement. I've talked about that before. That happens when you have cases like this.


ZELENY: CNN has learned that Mr. Trump is now being advised to stop tweeting about the Trump Tower meeting for fear of adding even more oxygen to a moment in time that is now part of an ongoing collusion and obstruction case.


ZELENY: While the President has repeatedly suggested the meeting was standard operating procedure, it's actually against the law for US political campaigns to receive donations or information of value from foreigners.

On ABC this week, the President's lawyer, Jay Sekulow said that point wasn't clear.


SEKULOW: Well, the question is how would it be illegal? I mean, the real question here is when a meeting of that nature constitute a violation, the meeting itself constitute a violation of the law.


ZELENY: The weekend tweet comes as the President increasingly lashes out at the special counsel's investigation and his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort's trials starts at second week. CNN has also learned that the President's legal team is poised to respond to Mueller in the coming days about the possibility of a presidential interview - a decision that will answer one of the biggest questions hanging over the White House.


TRUMP: Now, we're being hindered by the Russian hoax. It's a hoax, okay.


ZELENY: Now, aides to the President are asking him privately to not tweet about that Trump Tower meeting back from June of 16. His lawyers are also deciding with him over the coming days perhaps whether he will sit down with Special Counsel Bob Mueller to answer one of the biggest questions hanging over the White House this summer. Will he cooperate with the investigation or will he say no. That of course could lead to a Supreme Court subpoena fight - all of that hanging over the President during this working vacation this week of August. Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Berkeley Heights, New Jersey. (END VIDEO TAPE)

VAUSE: Joining me now for more of this, Michael Genovese, he is the President of the Global Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount University, and Areva Martin, CNN legal analyst, author, and civil rights attorney. Good to have you guys with us.

Okay, so Areva, law school, it's back in - back in session, ding, ding, ding, ding. Trump's TV lawyer, Jay Sekulow just a few moments ago in Zeleny's report there, Sekulow seems to be confused. Doesn't know if anything is going on here, so here is one law which may have been broken in that Trump Tower meeting, "It shall be unlawful for a foreign national directly or indirectly to make a contribution or donation of money or other thing of value or to make an expressed or implied promise to make a contribution or donation in connection with a Federal, state blah-blah-blah-blah."

So the thing I'd argue, I want to get Mueller's indictment of the 12 Russian hackers because among the charges they are facing is that, "They knowingly accessed a computer without authorization and exceeding the authorized access to a computer and to obtain, thereby information from a protected computer where the value of that information obtained exceeded $5,000.00."

Okay, so we've a value of more than $5,000.00 on the e-mails. We know it's illegal to receive anything of value from a foreign country, put the two together is this where Mueller is going with all of these?

AREVA MARTIN, LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: Oh, absolutely, and we can't trust anything Donald Trump's lawyers say. We know they go out and they create facts that don't exist. They misrepresent the facts. They contradict themselves. They contradict each other and they suggest that the law is something than what the law is. And that statement by Jay Sekulow that facts like this change, cases like this evolve. That's a really absurd statement from what's supposed to be a really high powered lawyer representing the President of the United States.

What we have seen is one guy after the other guy and why our parents told us as kids not to lie, because one lie leads to another and now you're having to cover up for each lie and the lie just gets deeper and deeper and deeper and more complex and more complex, so think about Trump. Every tweet and every statement has been no collusion, no collusion, no collusion. Then, there's a meeting in Trump Tower where there was definitely a desire to obtain negative information about Hillary Clinton.

So, the very thing that he has denied existed, he now admits that it exists, and collusion - he is right, there is no legal term for collusion, but it's just a lay person's word for a conspiracy, and conspiracy is a crime to accept, solicit or receive information of value from a foreign government to interfere in a US election. That is a crime. So we could go down a list of potential crimes that were committed by Donald Trump, Jr. and the others that participated in that meeting.

VAUSE: And Michael, is this the first time we have what amounts to a clear cut admission, essentially from the President that he did repeatedly lie about a specific issue because he always budges it, he always try to blame that someone said something or he didn't understand or this - there's always some kind of wiggle room in these false statements that we've heard from the President or about 4,000 of them.

But this time, there can be no arguing that that statement that he put out was all about talks and he knew nothing about it is a lie.

MICHAEL GENOVESE, PRESIDENT, GLOBAL POLICY INSTITUTE, LOYOLA MARYMOUNT UNIVERSITY: Well it's part of the ever changing storyline. You don't give anything until you have to, and then when you have to, you give less and you keep giving less, but perhaps, I am at something of a disadvantage here. I can read. I can read the memos and the e-mails that were exchanged and it was absolutely clear that something of value is being offered and the President's son is saying, if this is true, "I love it."


GENOVESE: Now, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that one and one equals two, and I think the President finally figured it out that his son is in very deep legal trouble.

VAUSE: Let's listen to Don, Jr. He was on Conservative Radio on Monday potentially still trying to spin the same line.


DONALD TRUMP, JR. SON OF PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: It was a 20-minute meeting. It ended up being, you know, about essentially nothing that was relevant to any of these things and you know, that's all it is and that's all that they've got. You know that's not the premise that got them in the room and then they started - it was essentially a bait and switch to talk about that and everyone has basically said that in testimony already. I mean, so this is nothing new.


VAUSE: Yes, Areva, this is something which is new. This does seem to be big deal, and also, when you look at the e-mails that he said, "I love it," to the response, in that previous e-mail he was replying to, it said, "Vladimir Putin supports your father for President and we have intelligence from the Russian government on Hillary." "I love it."

MARTIN: Yes, the problem is, Don, Jr. and Don, Sr. think their they're lawyers and they're not. And they think they know things that they don't know, and you notice they are hitting home the point that nothing happened in the meeting as if it's a crime only if they receive the opposition research that they thought they were going to receive. That's like walking into a bank and demanding that they give you money and the tower pushes the security button and doesn't respond to your request, you still attempted to rob the bank.

So, in this case, they still attempted to receive information from a foreign government. The fact that they didn't receive it doesn't make it any less a crime, but they have all of these complex - well, they're not really complex - stupid legal theories that have nothing to do with the law and that's why their legal team is begging, I imagine on their hands and knees begging down on Trump, stay off Twitter, stop tweeting these absurd theories because they are only getting you into more trouble.

VAUSE: Yes, and with that, Michael, how much harm has Donald Trump done not maybe just to himself but to his son, his son-in-law Jared Kushner who was at that meeting, his campaign chair, Paul Manafort. Did he essentially just admit that these three people attended a meeting with Russians that was essentially to - with the intention of breaking Federal campaign finance law?

GENOVESE: Not only that. I think, legally he is in deep trouble, but the optics also matter because this is also a battle for public opinion, and I think people are increasingly beginning to think, well, if you've done nothing wrong, if you have nothing to hide, why do you keep behaving like you're guilty? Why does the story keep changing? And so you've got both the legal side and a political side in which the President and his team are losing badly and they may not be able to recover for something like this.

MARTIN: And Michael, to your point about the optics, at the end of the tweet, he still maintains that he did not know about the meeting.

VAUSE: Yes, that's - can't he have both things at the same time?

MARTIN: And again, if the meeting has no value, if it's not illegal, if no laws were broken, why is there still this insistence on his part that he wasn't there. Literally throwing his son under the bus and making his son responsible and distancing himself. That's what he's doing from that meeting that he says ...

VAUSE: Embracing and then distancing at the same time ...

MARTIN: ... has no importance.

VAUSE: Okay, very quickly, about a year ago when the story first broke, here is Donald Trump defending his son and the meeting.


TRUMP: I think from a practical standpoint, most people would have taken that meeting. It's called opposition research or even research into your opponent. I have only been in politics for two years, but I've had many people call up, "Oh, gee, we have information on this factor or this person, or frankly, Hillary." That's very standard in politics.


VAUSE: So, Michael, just in terms of what is standard in politics and what is not standard in politics, I mean, the Russians have tried to interfere in the past. I mean, seriously for example, the Democratic nominee refused Russian help back in 1960 I think it was, it went straight to Eisenhower, I am told. So, is this standard operating procedure? Is this - it was Donald Trump is essentially doing what everybody else has done?

GENOVESE: Well, you know, you don't know how much slack you want to cut these guys because they aren't life-long politicians. On the other hand, a four-year-old would know that if the Russians are offering you something, you go right to the FBI, and the fact that they didn't do that, and maybe, okay, they made a mistake at first, you figure, "Okay, I made a mistake, maybe I should go," a week, two weeks, a month later to the FBI and go, "You know, this happened. Let me tell you what happened. Am I okay with this?" They never did.

MARTIN: Yes, and it's interesting - all the lawyers in this, we can't forget about all of the lawyers in the campaign, so there were people that could have given him better advice.

VAUSE: Legally though, "Oh, we were just a pack of molasses, we didn't really know it was bad. Everyone else is doing it, you know, they weren't - forgive us, but we didn't really know what we were doing." Does that count?

MARTIN: Law 101, ignorance is never a defense to a criminal act and in this case, it doesn't have to be any specific intent, just intent to obtain the information that's being offered by this foreign national and we know that that intent is there as evidenced by the e- mails. So, I don't think that we're such novices defense is going to get them very far.


MARTIN: And Donald Trump knows that. That's why we see the rage, that's why we see the tweets. He knows his son is in legal jeopardy. He knows he put his son in legal jeopardy and he knows there's no clear explanation for this.

VAUSE: Michael, 30 seconds, we're out of time, where does this go from here?

GENOVESE: Well, I think in the court of public opinion, the President has his base and he keeps feeding the base and they love it, but the base isn't going to decide his future, the November election will, and if the Republicans can maintain control of the House, the Mueller report will probably be sat on, and so the mood is shifting from - in this situation, it is shifting from the law to politics, back to law, back to politics. I think it will be politics that has to be the final decider.

VAUSE: Okay, and of course, the November elections is less than a hundred days away will be crucial. We'll see you guys next hour. Thank you so much.

MARTIN: Thanks again.

VAUSE: Well, we'll take a short break. When we come back, 66 people are shot, 12 of them dead. No one arrested. All of this in one weekend in Chicago. We'll tell you what the mayor and the police chief are saying about what needs to be done.

One sound rang out again and again in the US city of Chicago this past weekend, that would be the sound of gun fire. It was an incredibly violent weekend, even for a city which has seen more than its share of homicides. Between just Friday and Sunday, 66 people were shot and a dozen were killed. So far no arrests have been made.

Chicago's mayor and the police superintendent put some of the blame on distrust of police. They say local communities need to step up. They need more to help stop the violence. More details now from CNN's Ryan Young.


RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A difficult weekend here in Chicago with 66 people shot, 12 people killed, and a lot of those were juveniles, people under the age of 18 in fact, 14 kids were shot, two of those kids died, and in some of these cases after the shooter opened fire on a group of people, they just walked away.

One of the scenes that stood out to us was outside one of the major hospitals here where more than 40 people gathered crying and wailing as they were waiting to figure out what was going on with their loved ones. But the mayor in talking in the news conference said, he wanted more from the community, he wanted to see more action. He wanted to see more tips from the public.

RAHM EMANUEL, MAYOR OF CHICAGO: This is not about the Chicago Police Department, alone. It is not about a summer jobs program alone. This is about the fabric of a neighborhood and community. As the superintendent just said, who knows who did this, so if you say enough is enough, you must come forward as a neighborhood where a moral center of gravity holds.

YOUNG: The mayor and superintendent of police talking with a lot of passion about what they want to see from Chicago. They say they need to see more community members working with police to get some of these shooters off the street. And just think about this, the police department has already confiscated more than 5,000 guns this year off the streets of Chicago.


YOUNG: That coupled with the fact they had 30,000 kids working a summer youth program. They thought that would be the tipping point to sort of stop some of the violence. We've also seen community members take to the streets and also have massive protest, they say they wanted to see the violence stop, but so far, a weekend like this, that didn't help. Ryan Young, CNN, Chicago.


VAUSE: Camiella Williams is an anti-violence advocate and the congressional organizer for the Free Chicago. She joins us now. Camiella, thanks so much for taking the time. Here is one way to understand the level of violence in Chicago this past weekend, okay, so far this year, in Iraq, this is all Iraq - the entire country, a population about four times the size of Chicago, 477 civilians have been killed by acts of violence. So far this year, it's Chicago alone, a city 320 people have been murdered, and that includes the weekend. And keep in mind, just a few days ago, city officials were talking about the decline in the murder rate from a two-decade record high back in 2016.

During the worst of the violence on Sunday, one person was being shot on average, every five minutes. Paramedics said Chicago was like a war zone, but it was a war zone only in four areas, high crime areas, gang areas. And not far away, there's mostly a white crowd enjoying a music festival protected by helicopters in the air, there was a strong police presence on the ground. They seemed oblivious to the violence.

CAMIELLA WILLIAMS IS AN ANTI-VIOLENCE ADVOCATE: Yes, yes, I mean, that's true. I took part in Lollapalooza. My youth from Goods Kid, M.A.A.D. City, they had a table up actually talking about the violence in the city of Chicago, sadly, two of my young people were affected because one of their friends was murdered. So, yes we actually saw the happiness and the carefree and our opinion, we heard, if it had been 15 white teens who were shot this weekend, it would have been something totally different in the city of Chicago like we saw with Parkland.

VAUSE: I want you to listen to a little more from the mayor, from Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, he seemed to place a lot of the blame on the shooters and the lack of morals. This is what he said.


EMANUEL: We can talk about the weather, but the weather didn't pull the trigger. You could talk about jobs, and they count, but in parts of the city where there aren't jobs, people did not pull the trigger. There are values, there are too many guns on the street, too many people with criminal records on the street and there is a shortage of values about what is right, what is wrong. What is acceptable, what is condoned and what is condemned.


VAUSE: It seems - is he arguing that those who commit violent crimes in Chicago are morally bankrupt than in other US cities?

WILLIAMS: First of all, I feel very insulted that he would say that. We are speaking about values, but this is coming from a man who is here to take for 14 months to be reelected of a 17-year-old boy shot 16 times. So when you're talking about values, it's out the window with the community. So, he has no room to talk. He covered up so many police shootings, but that's not what I want to get into right now. I want to get into the fact that we - I want to say in the month of April and May, spent time at City Council begging not only him, but the rest of City Council to put money back into our communities. Right now, they are building a $95 million police academy on one of the worst sites of Chicago, which is the west side of Chicago.

They found $20 million and voted on it and we came to the hearing saying, "Hey, no, put that money into our communities. We need trauma and formed spaces. We need youth centers. We need more job trainers." Thirty thousand young people being - working a summer job isn't enough. That's a six-week program. You only get one check.

VAUSE: Very quickly, but you're talking about the police, there was this mayoral inquiry two years ago, they basically found that there was a complete and total lack of trust in the police because they are wildly perceived as being racist and there's been a failure to punish police officers who are responsible for abuses. Is there any sign that the relationship between the police and the community is improving or is it getting worse?

WILLIAMS: It's getting worse. Give us convictions. We've just seen Maurice Granton, they lied and said that he was shooting at the police. We watched the body cam maybe two weeks ago and he was shot in the back climbing a gate.

Just Harith Augustus, as they said that he tried to reach for a gun, but the autopsy report came back and said he was shot twice in the back of the head.

So, that again, right there, with them trying to say that these young men and people that guns and they take their lives and they cover it up, we're not -- we're not going to trust them, we're not going to trust their narratives. We're not going to call them. Until we see convictions of officers who go to jail or be reprimanded for misconduct, no.

I have personally been in situations where I called 911 to report something and the police came to my house and shined a light and told my neighbor. I personally took people down to 51st and Wentworth where it is the homicide unit to tell what they knew about the shooting and a detective read the statement of another witness, to this witness, with the address.


WILLIAMS: We're not talking about that.

VAUSE: Camiella, we're unfortunately out of time, but obviously, this is an issue which is going on for a while, but we appreciate you being with us. Thank you so much.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

VAUSE: We'll take a short break. When we come back, we'll take a closer look at the U.S. media landscape. What does it say when these self-proclaimed toughest sheriff in America, has a gun control debate with a toy.


VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles, I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour. About 30 minutes ago, U.S. economic sanctions were re-imposed on Iran, the result of President Donald Trump's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

These sanctions cover the purchase of U.S. dollars and trade and metals and automobiles. More damaging sanctions on Iran's oil exports as slated to go into effect by November.

Donald Trump's former deputy campaign chairman will return to the witness stand on Tuesday, in Paul Manafort's fraud and tax evasion trial. Rick Gates testified that he and Manafort opened 15 foreign bank accounts to hide money from the U.S. government and they knew it was illegal.

Rescue workers curving to the debris from Sunday's deadly earthquake in central Indonesia. At least 98 people were killed, hundreds were injured in a 6.9 magnitude quake. An estimated 20,000 people no longer have homes, and many are sleeping outside, all in tents.

In California, facing the largest wildfire in the state's history, the fire has burned through more than 115,000 hectares, an area larger than the entire New York City. This fire is 30 percent contained and has destroyed more than 11,000 structures.

Add Sheriff Joe Arpaio to the list of high-profile Conservatives who've been punked by the comedian, Sacha Baron Cohen.


SACHA BARON COHEN, BRITISH ACTOR: I'm with Sheriff Joe Arpaio. And he is the toughest sheriff in America.


VAUSE: The title of toughest sheriff in America is also close to President Trump, who pardoned Arpaio, last year, for its contempt conviction that grew out of charges relating to racial profiling.

On Sunday, Arpaio appeared on Baron Cohen's new series called Who is America and thought he was interviewed by a pro-Trump YouTube star from Finland. And that's Cohen with the orange streak in his hair in a character called it OMGWhizzboyOMG. It all began with some back and forth over gun control.


JOE ARPAIO, FORMER SHERIFF, MARICOPA COUNTY, ARIZONA: You have to follow the constitution and the law and allow people to have guns.

SACHA BARON COHEN, COMEDIAN: But I want the guns to be taken back because they are dangerous.

ARPAIO: Bad guys are going to get their guns. It's going to kill you. I'm hoping that somebody else in there has a gun.


[00:35:18] VAUSE: It was a long (INAUDIBLE) before Cohen moved in to the punchline, asking Arpaio would he ever accept a job from the President, a discussion which included off-color sexual euphemisms and then came Cohen's question which used a term for oral sex, which includes the word, job. Arpaio was asked if he would accept that if it was offered by Donald Trump.


COHEN: Would you say yes?

ARPAIO: I may have to say yes.


VAUSE: In case anyone is still in doubt about the term Cohen used, here's Former U.S. President Bill Clinton and his misleading answer to a question about the same thing, in the context of his affair with Monica Lewinsky.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.


VAUSE: Comedian, actor and director, Hal Sparks, joins us from Las Vegas. That was verbal jiu-jitsu. I hope you really (INAUDIBLE) that was so difficult to write.

HAL SPARKS, ACTOR: Yes, knowing you, that is the most difficult moment you've ever had in news, not saying all the words you want to say.

VAUSE: You know me. I thought I feel sympathy for Joe Arpaio, because he's Joe Arpaio, but this was a real got you. He seemed, kind of, confused, he wasn't certain what's going on. You know, Cohen seemed to be, kind of, punching him down.



SPARKS: No, no, no punching down, this man was a sheriff of an entire county. He ran tent cities for convicts in 110 degree heat. He called concentration camps. The man was pardoned on a federal crime by the president of the United States. He's not a victim.

And it hasn't been just Conservatives, understand. Some of the clips circulating have been including Bernie Sanders and Ted Koppel. And if you noticed the difference in both of theirs, while they try to humor the person they're talking to, they're listening to the words coming out of his mouth and answering accordingly.

The difference between, I think, the Conservatives, they're getting hit on this show, and the Democrats and Liberals that are getting messed with, is that the Liberals are listening to what he's actually saying and you could see them, kind of, check themselves like, this makes no sense.

And the -- and the Republicans and especially the harsh Conservatives, gun rights advocates and people like Joe Arpaio, are racing to what they want to hear. There's a -- there's an old hypnosis, kind of, joke which is everybody watching, take your hand, make a fist like this, right, just try it at home.

And then I want you to take your fist and put it right to your chin, right. Half the people who are watching just put it to the side of their head even though I said chin, because you're leading the idea. You think it's going to happen. That's -- if you watch, that's how he does it.

He leads you where you want to go. And he uses a lot of buzz phrases, mixed in with the jokes, so that people think, oh, this is just a bump in the road in this conversation. I haven't been gotten. And that's what makes it work.

VAUSE: OK. So a few years ago -- because that's the question, why do people keep doing this, when they know the stick, right? So Slate published a letter which Cohen --

SPARKS: They know?

VAUSE: Well, that's the thing, Slate published those letters a few years ago which Cohen's people sent out to, you know, potential victims or interview subjects. That person is so praised, we're talking about their unbridled reputation and they're invited to present issues in a fresh and innovative way that will engage young viewers. I hope the show won't just be seen in U.K. but worldwide, because (INAUDIBLE) show, which is HBO.

You know, that I guess it's flattering, it's vague, you know, accurately vague, vaguely accurate. That may explain why someone agrees to the interview. But in the case of what we've seen so far, of all these Conservatives, I guess, others, why do they stay for the rest when clearly they've been, you know, invited to do stupid things and say silly stuff?

SPARKS: Well, again, they're wanting the target audience more than they want to pay attention to what's actually happening. Believe me, the kind of forward letter that he sends to get these interviews, is not that different from legitimate sources that these people also sign up with.

And a lot of these legitimate, you know, on the level, especially of like, kind of, the YouTube info war side of things. Say things that are just as maniacally outlandish and stupid, as he's saying, the difference is, they're sincere and Sacha Baron Cohen is effectively punking them.

The difference is, is that these people want the attention and the target audience so bad that they are steam rolling the moment and not paying attention. And that's what makes it funny, you know, because that's what made this slip by Arpaio where he agreed to effectively --


SPARKS: How do we find the word for it? Yes, a sexual act --

VAUSE: Do that, yes.

SPARKS: from the President. Here's the thing, that whole -- that whole moment, if you know anything about Donald Trump, he wouldn't offer you that. He'd demand it from you. And so that's the part that would have thrown me in that situation.

VAUSE: OK. This T.V. series from Cohen, it's a new one, hasn't been on air for an entire month, yet. Cohen has used a pedophile detecting machine on Senate candidate, incredibly accused child-molester, Roy Moore.

[00:40:00] He managed to get a group of Republicans to say they support arming toddlers. And then there was a Georgia lawmaker who was convinced he pulled down his pants and yelled the N word. In case you didn't see it, here it is.


COHEN: I am going to be the terrorist. You have three seconds to attack the tension. Go!

REP. JASON SPENCER (R), GEORGIA: Bleep. Bleep. Bleep. Bleep.


VAUSE: OK, you know, Cohen has been doing this stuff since Borat to Ali G, and now, we're into this new face. Is he a one trick pony and is this getting a little old?

SPARKS: No, not at all, I think it's actually important that people are -- it really points to people's egotistical weakness in the modern media culture. And it is more necessary now than ever because we've reached, despicably, to some degree, the Instagraming of Nightly News if we're not careful.

And people are using it as a, you know, as a spring board. It used to be that you ran for President to sell books, and that was the general idea that has metastasized because into an entirely different monstrosity of, sort of, this ego-driven, anything they get a camera on me, because fame is more resilient than money, and people know this now.

And a lot of these people, the attention is what they use as a currency to guarantee a position, especially as the right tends to get more right. As the left lefts more left, you get less attention because you get watered down in a group of people. That's the nature of, sort of, a diversity message.

But on the right, it's so hierarchical that everyone is trying to punch their way to the top and it makes them an easy mark. My only problem is, the Moran character, his Israeli, you know, kind of, like, Special Forces character is -- the makeup is so cartoonish. I don't get it. I don't get it. I don't know how you fall for that.

I don't know what they're saying to these people like he wears a lot of makeup or he had an accident, had his chin replaced with a steel girder. I don't know what they're telling them to be OK with his face. But it's amazing to me that they go through with it.

And Jason Spencer's falling for it. A lot of people -- I think Megyn Kelly did this. She said, you know, he's a victim, it's bullying, nonsense. These are adults. They are responsible for the circumstance they're in. They hear every word coming out of his mouth and it is important that your brain process what you are hearing before you respond to it.

VAUSE: That is good advice, and that is a good place to wrap up because we're out of time. Hey, it's been a while, so thank you so much. We really appreciate you coming here.

SPARKS: Glad to. I'm in Vegas, so next time, I'm in L.A. We'll do it in person.

VAUSE: Absolutely.

SPARKS: So I can chastise you for language in person.

VAUSE: I'm sorry. I don't know what you're talking about, thank you Mr. Sparks.

SPARKS: I mean, nor do I.

VAUSE: OK, a short break. When come back, the insults and the statements and the self-righteousness, guess who in the White House is obsessed with watching himself on television? Oh, yes, that guy, back in a moment.


[00:45:00] VAUSE: Well, Donald Trump likes watching television and Donald Trump, apparently, especially likes watching Donald Trump on television. Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know who loves watching Trump rallies? Trump. The President is often portrayed as the type who likes looking at himself in mirrors.


MOOS: And now Axios is reporting he enjoys replaying his rallies on the T.V. in the dining room next to the Oval Office. Imagine reliving all that fist pumping, finger pointing, and waving. Give yourself a hand for how you tossed out protesters.

TRUMP: Good-bye, darling.

MOOS: Got out to vote. TRUMP: Get your asses out tomorrow and vote.

MOOS: And confused your critics with puzzling sound bites.

TRUMP: You see what they do? Ping, ping, right? You see what they're doing?

MOOS: The White House wouldn't comment. But Axios reports, when watching replays, Trump will interject commentary, revelling in his most controversial lines. Wait for it. See what I did there, he'll say?

Whether it be using insulting nicknames --

TRUMP: Pocahontas.

MOOS: or imitating himself if he acted more like other Presidents

TRUMP: I'm very presidential.

MOOS: There are parts the President might prefer to fast forward through. Like the other day when he said --

TRUMP: Flamingo dancers from Argentina, on the Tallahassee Trail.

MOOS: Well, actually it's the Appalachian Trail and they are called flamenco dancers. Somewhat tweeted, President Trump, this is a flamingo dancer.

Axios reports that in the early days of the administration, President Trump loved re-watching his debates with Hillary. This was one of his favorite exchanges.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country.

TRUMP: Because you'd be in jail.


MOOS: But replays don't always age well. These days, that in jail stuff is hitting closer to home. Jeanne Moos, CNN --

TRUMP: Because you'd be in jail.

MOOS: New York.

VAUSE: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. You can watch the repeats any time you want. I'm John Vause. Stay tuned now for "WORLD SPORT." You are watching CNN.


[00:45:00] (WORLD SPORT)