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U.S. Reimposes Sanctions On Iran; Trump Admits Meeting Was To Get Info On Opponent; Bolton: Trump's Relationship With Press Is "Typical"; 98 People Dead, Hundreds Hurt And Thousands Homeless; Trump Blames Water Policy For Fires, Not Climate Change. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired August 7, 2018 - 01:00   ET



JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour, the U.S. President ditched the Iran Deal and now sanctions are back. But will they get to run back to the negotiating table? Well, that seems to be a longshot. And his advisers say please stop but Donald Trump keeps tweeting about that campaign meeting with Kremlin linked Russians by possibly complicating a legal defense with every new post. Also, Donald Trump thinks he knows who's to blame for the wildfires raging in California. The theory his critics call ignorant and just plain nuts. Hello everybody, thank you for being with us. I'm John Vause, this is NEWSROOM L.A.

Iran's president has warned the U.S. will regret reimposing economic sanctions. The first round of sanctions went into effect about an hour ago, the result of Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. Hassan Rouhani says there are indications though from Beijing and Moscow that both countries plan to defy the U.S. and continue trading with Iran and President Rouhani says he's open to talks to the U.S. that is if the Trump administration can prove it can be trusted by returning to the original deal and lifting the sanctions.

Los Angeles Times Reporter Ramin Mostaghim is in Tehran joins us now on the line. So Ramin, what impact are we looking at from other sanctions which have been reimposed? How will I hurt the economy if at all and will ever be enough to force Iran to sit down and negotiate one-on-one with the Trump administration?

RAMIN MOSTAGHIM, REPORTER, LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Congress' action has already been very damaging and detrimental and it increased the prices more than 100 percent. And so from today Rouhani government has to rebuild up the trust between his government and the people who have lost their trust to the government so this is in-house order. So President Rouhani has to put his house in order first before thinking of the negotiations. Almost he tried to show that it is possible to negotiate with America but the problem is that his government has lost a trust with the people and people don't trust him and they have talked to the people today, morning, they say we don't we don't believe what he say. So he has a problem uphill a struggle to build up trust with the

people, his own people and then think about the government and the negotiations with America which is possible anyway. At the end of the tunnel there is light but in-house ordering is more important so Rouhani has to build up trust the people who have lost their trust to him in the past months and the past years. That is a big problem for the government and it's uphill struggle to put his house in order before any negotiation with America.

VAUSE: Ramin, thank you so much. We appreciate that. Ramin Mostaghim down the line from Tehran, LA Times Reporter, thank you. For more, joining us now here in Los Angeles Dalia Dassa Kaye, she's 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. OK, if you look at the immediate response, the E.U., Britain, France, and Germany, they've 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 a U.S. 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, MIDDLE EAST PUBLIC POLICY: Yes, absolutely. This is a decision that has isolated the U.S. It's moving Iran closer to China, probably Russia. The E.U. blocking sanctions you know, 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 what -- the big wild card here in terms of Iran's ability to muddle through.

VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) trying to support -- they're trying to --

[01:05:00] KAYE: China's trade, yes. I think China is Iran's largest trading partner. China has already indicated it will not abide by these sanctions. Again, the entire international community and all the signatories to this agreement believe Iran is in compliance so unless it's a U.N. mandated sanctions regime they are not going to be back on board so the U.S. will be alone.

VAUSE: OK, 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: -- back on dialogue and negotiations was Mr. Trump and Mr. Trump's Administration and this 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, their sincerity. We've always welcomed it, you know. But I'm just curious, is the economy in such bad shape that there may be enough pressure from just these sanctions from the U.S. you know for Rouhani and does he speak for the entire government, (INAUDIBLE) but are they actually seriously willing to sit down and talk with us?

KAYE: Well, there's no question there's tremendous domestic pressure as your piece just showed. Whether this is enough to get the Iranians back to the table is unclear. And again Ronnie 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 U.S. that backed out. We said in negotiations with the U.S. 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'm very skeptical that there's going to be some big grand bargain. It's a lot easier to break things than to build them back.

VAUSE: Yes, they're not looking through what happened in North Korea that Singapore summit when Trump met Kim Jong-un and Kim, he says he walked away with you know, everything he wanted and a bag of chips and the U.S. 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're 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 symmetry.

VAUSE: Yes, to your point, here's the response from the National Security Advisor John Bolton on that offer of possibly seeing and talking with the Iranians. Here he is.


JOHN BOLTON, UNITED STATES 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 he's as I say been consistent on it. So if the Iranians are really willing to come and talk about all of their malign 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're willing to talk about all of their malign behavior, not just the nuclear agreement" because 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 this statement is very similar to the Rouhani statement interestingly where both sides are posturing trying to make sure they're not looked at as the bad guy you know, 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 you know, it's really hard to proceed. And the U.S. side saying basically you know, yes, they have to stop all the bad behavior. Be what Secretary of State Pompeo often says a normal country. And he's also listed a number of conditions that would be have to be in place for the United States to sit at the table.

We'll see. There's -- you know, the world is full of surprises right now. There's the U.N. General Assembly in September. There could be an opportunity for a surprise but the question is for what end.

VAUSE: Yes, exactly. Talks is for talks, I guess don't really go anywhere at of the day. Dalia, thank you. Good to see you.

KAYE: Thank you.

VAUSE: I want to get to this hour when it comes to U.S. politics, they're joining us now. Michael Genovese, President of the Global Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount University and Areva Martin, CNN Legal Analyst, Author and Civil Rights Attorney. Michael, I should say very quickly on this issue of these Iranian sanctions. So it seems now what we have from the Trump Administration is that they're making this calculation that these sanctions will be enough, will be tough, enough strong enough to force Tehran to return to start this deal one on one with the U.S. and the U.S. will then up get a better deal than the one which was struck you know, under President Obama. How does that logic work when essentially Trump has got the same sanctions and the same -- you know, the same punishment if you like, that Obama had but not the international support that Obama had. How do you get from A to B? How do you make that job?

[01:10:16] MICHAEL GENOVESE, PRESIDENT, GLOBAL POLICY INSTITUTE AT LOYOLA MARYMOUNT UNIVERSITY: Well, you don't. The United States becomes more isolated or alone against the world. If it's us against our allies and us against Iran, we can only have a marginal impact. And so I think you know, the President prefers the unilateral method and yet what usually works best is when it's multilateral. And so the president is putting us in a weaker position. We don't have the strong arguments anymore and it's unlikely that Iran and Europe would want to renegotiate. They have no real incentive to do so.

VAUSE: OK, we move on now because there's let's get to with the Trump Tower meeting. This is the meeting back in June of 2016 when a big group of Russians including a closely linked Kremlin lawyer turned up at Trump Tower for a meeting with Don Junior, Trump's son in law Jared Kushner, the campaign chairman Paul Manafort as well. This meeting is the focus of the Mueller investigation who's looking into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia so that's the background over the weekend and this, of course, there's been all ramifications from this.

The President tweeted this admission. "Fake news reporting a complete fabrication that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son Donald had in Trump Tower. 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." OK, Arriva, this does sound like a recognition for the President that this meeting, it wasn't about orphans, you know, it happened, it took place and was all about getting not just dirt, the dirt from the Kremlin on Hillary Clinton. This is a pretty big deal in the scheme of things right?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely, John. And the President in that tweet makes a conclusion that this meeting is legal and we're not sure if you know anyone from his legal team weighed in on this tweet or has been involved in him -- with him in terms of drafting the tweet but the meeting and the solicitation by Don Jr. of this information and the efforts to receive this information are far from legal. We know that you cannot receive information of value from a foreign national or foreign government. That's a violation of campaign laws we know in this case. That was the purpose now the President tells us. It wasn't about adoption, it was to go to get "dirt on Hillary Clinton."

And we know this dirt has already been described in an indictment by Mueller of the twelve Russians the dirt, the hacking, the information they learned from the hacking has value. The President's son is in serious legal jeopardy and the President's tweets they're not helping his son. And even the President, I am very concerned about you know this obstruction of justice. We know he met with Hope Hicks on Air Force One this weekend --

VAUSE: She drafted the response to all of this.

MARTIN: Yes, she drafted the response, she's testified before the Special Counsel, she's testified before Congress. And meeting with her, any lawyer would tell Donald Trump stay is far away from any of these witnesses. And even if you're going to meet with him, of course, don't talk about this subject. But we can't trust that the President would follow that kind of advice. But there's some real jeopardy here for him as well as his son.

GENOVESE: But -- Areva makes a great point that he's got all these lawyers here, why not use them. This is the president who disdains process.

VAUSE: Right.

GENOVESE: If you look at how he dealt with the pardons, it was just somebody came into my office and I made a decision. There's a process. He has an office of legal counsel that's there to do this.

MARTIN: Absolutely.

GENOVESE: And so the question is why don't you use the resources you have? That's what the intelligent people do. That's what people do -- VAUSE: Yes, delegate. OK, Don Jr. was interviewed about his father's

tweet on a conservative radio. Here's the first part. Listen to this.


LAURA INGRAHAM, RADIO HOST: Do you want any comments on that Donny because they're hitting me on that for contradictions. I mean, they're calling it worse than contradictions, obviously.


INGRAHAM: Yes, Donny what is your reaction to all that? We're going to see if we can reconnect with Donald Trump Jr. on this because we can't seem to hear him, Donny, you hear that? I don't know where you went.


VAUSE: Yes, Donny can't hear because conveniently or not I guess the telephone line dropped out of that crucial question. Two minutes later though, Donny was back and here he is.


TRUMP JR.: Somehow you got cut off. They started playing the recording and it got cut off. It was a 20 minutes meeting. It ended up being you know, about essentially nothing that was relevant to any of these things and you know, that that's all it is.


VAUSE: Michael, given the inconsistency from Donny, or Donald Jr. just on this topic alone, at this point what credibility does he have?

[01:15:00] GENOVESE: Well, very little because the story has changed time and time again. Consistency is a powerful force. If you are consistent even if you are wrong. Even if you're misleading, at least, you're consistent.

But when you ever -- every week change the story, then you have so many holes in the story that who knows what to believe. And you basically make yourself not believable.

VAUSE: Yes, OK. There was a statement issued by Don Jr., it was written by Donald Trump, claiming this meeting was just about Russia adoption and it wasn't that was a lie.

OK. So, go back last year, here's Trump's T.V. lawyer Jay Sekulow, back then.


JAY SEKULOW, CHIEF COUNSEL, AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE: I do want to be clear that the president was not involved in the drafting of the statement, and did not issue the statement. It came from Donald Trump Jr. So that, that's what I can tell you because that's what we know.


VAUSE: But here he is now to get all that, he is now -- just after Donald Trump tweeted that admission over the weekend.


SEKULOW: I had bad information at that time, I made a mistake in my statement. I talked about that before. That happens when you have cases like this. I think it's very important to point out that in a situation like this, you have over time facts developed. That's what investigations do.


VAUSE: Areva --



GENOVESE: I said to my students, you have bad information.



GENOVESE: And you got the bad grin.

VAUSE: That's a good point.

MARTIN: So let me interpret what I heard there.


VAUSE: Facts don't develop, they do they?

MARTIN: Facts don't develop, facts exist or they don't exist.


MARTIN: When that statement was originally made by the lawyer that was the lawyer distancing Donald Trump from it -- from that meeting. Because at that time, they thought there was no harm to the meeting. Now, what we hear is the lawyer saying, "Well, you know, maybe I didn't have all the information and he was involved in the drafting because now it's become a bigger deal.

So, let's try to get ahead of the story, let's correct the record, let's tell the truth. And that's the problem with the president and his legal team. They lack complete credibility, they color, they twist, they distort, and misrepresent the facts to fit whatever narrative that they want to tell at any given moment.

And today, the narrative is the meeting happened, it's not illegal, nothing came from the meeting.

VAUSE: Right.

MARTIN: That was only 20 minutes.


MARTIN: And so, what? You know, it wasn't about adoptions, it was about dirt on Hillary Clinton.

VAUSE: Who cares? Everyone does it. Which is -- which a very good --


GENOVESE: And I didn't know it was loaded.

VAUSE: Yes, exactly. Yes, Colonel Mustard in the billiard room. How (INAUDIBLE) also seems sweet discrediting the media? That's been going on for quite some time. Again, over the weekend a tweet from the president.

"The fake news hates me, saying that they are the enemy of the people only because they know it's true. I am providing a great service by explaining this to the American people. They purposely caused great division and distrust." Really? "They can also cause war." I don't know how that is. "They are very dangerous and sick." I mean, that hurts.

But, Michael, you know, this sort of stuff from the president, you know, it just seems to becoming more unhinged each passing day.

GENOVESE: And it's horribly, horribly dangerous. Someone, some nut case is going to act on it. And when that happens, who do we blame? You know, you can't take your message and say it's devoid of meaning. I'm going to just throw out lines that fit the base that make them applaud, that make them yell. Lock her up, whatever.

Words have meaning, and some people are going to take those words seriously. And to try to -- and all -- I'm not saying he's authoritarian, but the authoritarian playbook starts with discredit the media.

VAUSE: Right. And we heard from John Bolton, were not going to play the sound bite because we're out of time. But John Bolton, the national security adviser, he basically said, Donald Trump is only responding to the attacks of the media towards on him.

Areva, I can't remember any attacks the media towards some person.


VAUSE: I mean, they've exposed issues which have happened in their collective mistakes as they've been made. About (INAUDIBLE) has said, this relationship, it's not out of the ordinary, it's typical. MARTIN: Yes. I don't think the president was prepared to be checked and to be called on, on all of the lies that he tells. He thought he would be able to have the sweetheart relationship with the media where they would accept any and everything that he said without fact- checking him, and without telling the American people the truth.

So anytime the truth is told, he calls it an attack, he calls it fake news. And the reality is its not fake news, the media is playing a very critical role in keeping the American public informed about what the facts are.

I feel sorry for some of Trump's administrators because they have to come on television, go into the public and try --


VAUSE: They volunteers.

MARTIN: They're there on their own, but I mean, it's a hard job. And some of them were glad they're there. Because if they weren't there, I don't know if we have any adult responsible people running in our government,

But they have to try to clean up -- you know, the constant mess that this president makes on an hour by hour, minute by minute basis. And, I think, Bolton's statement is just another attempt to try to clean up a ridiculous, that third statement by the president.

VAUSE: Well, there have been many of them. So, there's a lot of cleanup on aisle three. Areva and Michael, thank you so much.

MARTIN: Thanks, John.

GENOVESE: Thank you.

[01:19:49] VAUSE: Well, we'll take a short break. When we come back, California is dealing with the largest fire ever in the state's history. And Donald Trump sees little confused about why fire season is getting more deadly and destructive every year. Also ahead, an explosive chain of events when a tanker truck plowed

into an 18-wheeler on a highway in Italy.


VAUSE: In Lombok, Indonesia, rescue teams are sifting through debris looking for survivors after Sunday's powerful earthquake. At least, 98 people were killed, hundreds wounded when the 6.9 magnitude quake struck. Entire villages have been destroyed, thousands are now without homes. They are sleeping outside, a few have tents.

Some say they're still waiting for any kind of help, financial or otherwise from the authorities.

In California, they're now facing the largest wildfire ever recorded in the state's history. The fire was blackened, more than 115,000 hectares, an area larger than New York City. The fire is 30 percent contained, it has destroyed more than 11,000 structures. Strong winds forecast for this week could spread the flames even further.

The 16 large wildfires now ravaging California. If you have so intense, the U.S. military is stepping in to help.

It is first remarks about the deadly wildfires, President Donald Trump, shifted the conversation to what is an unrelated legal fight about California's water policy. Here's the tweet.

"California's wildfires are being magnified and made so much worse by the bad environment laws which are not allowing massive amounts of readily available water to properly utilize. It's being diverted into the Pacific Ocean. Must also tree clear to stop fire from spreading."

OK, then, Jess Phoenix is a geologist, volcanologist, and this year, she ran fora U.S. congressional seat representing a district here in California. And you're a smart person, you like science, you like facts which is why we're happy having you here.

JESS PHOENIX, CO-FOUNDER, BLUEPRINT EARTH: Great to be here. Thanks, John.

VAUSE: OK, hello. Good to have you. OK, Michael Hiltzik of the L.A. Times, friend of our show, a columnist. He cuts to the point for this opening line in Monday's paper. "No one would mistake President Trump for an expert on climate change or water policy, but a treaty issued late Sunday about California's wildfires deserves some sort of award for most glaring misstatements about those two issues in the smallest numbers of words."

OK. So, let's break this down in order. Let's start with the issue of water, because Trump, again tweeted today, "Governor Jerry Brown must allow the free flow of the vast amounts of water coming from the north and foolishly being diverted into the Pacific Ocean, can be used for fires, farming, everything else. Think of California with plenty of water. Nice, fast federal government approvals."

OK, chicken in a report. OK, so, is there a shortage of water to fight fires and is water, in general, being wasted or diverted into the ocean?

[01:25:05] PHOENIX: In two words, no and no.

VAUSE: Right.

PHOENIX: So, essentially, right now we don't use water "to fight fires". The techniques that are used for fire management are people with shovels, people with Pulaski's which is a firefighting specific tool. People using flamethrowers to burn brush in advance of the wildfire to make sure it doesn't have any fuel. They don't use water trucks with pumpers and everything. It's --

And plus there are lakes near all of these major fires. You know, Shasta is known for Shasta Lake. And -- you know, there's -- the examples go on and on. So, it's strong.

VAUSE: What about the water -- what about the water that being diverted and wasted? Because this is a Republican talking point in this day.

PHOENIX: Yes. That is and it's not. I mean, he's mixing up California's agricultural water issues which are a long-standing. And it has to do with waters that are -- that are feeding -- you know, Los Angeles, San Diego, the southern part of the state that come from the northern part of the state.

I mean, if people remember the water wars back in the 20s and 30s, that was sort of one of the big points of California history, it's not now. Right now, the water that actually goes out to the Pacific Ocean is there to preserve habitats and it's like salmon, things like that. It has nothing at all to do with firefighting. And there's plenty of water for any kind of firefighting efforts.

VAUSE: OK, Trump's Secretary for the Interior Zinke, also seems to be using the fires to make a political point on Twitter. "Fires across the west are burning hotter and more intense. The overload dead and diseased timber in the forest makes the fire worse and more deadly. We must be able to actively manage our forest," here we go. "And not face frivolous litigation when we try to remove these fuels."

OK. So, what frivolous lawsuits are actually preventing the proper management of state forests?

PHOENIX: You know, really it's -- there isn't a problem. California, the actual state-managed lands are underactive programs where the forests are thinned out. The federal lands that are under federal oversight or the ones that typically have that, that overgrowth.

This is not something that should be a stumbling block. And it's in no way should be something that Zinke or Trump can attack California for. Really, the federal government needs to take a more active role in managing their specific lands.

VAUSE: OK. So, when he talks about -- the presidents that talks about bad environmental laws, as he do that say. Environmental laws, which he makes own policies, which here withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord, trying to remove the vehicle emission standards which makes -- you know, global warming worse. I mean, where are we with this?

PHOENIX: So, I think he's trying to attack California directly. Since we are so forward-thinking on environment. I mean, we are a global leader in terms of environmental standards. And that's why we were able to pull L.A. from being a smog-choked hellscape. You know, 30-40 years ago.


VAUSE: Yes, it was so awful. Acid rain you shouldn't breathe, yes.

PHOENIX: So, yes. And now, it's much, much better. We're still not where we want to be but we're closer. So, I think really, in essence, we should be referring to his new policies as the bad laws.

VAUSE: OK, very quickly, here's Democrat Congressman John Garamendi. He represents the district in Northern California.


REP. JOHN GARAMENDI (D-CA) ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: It's one more display of his ignorance. His gross ignorance got water flowing down the rivers out to sea has nothing to do with these fires. If I'm ignorant that's a problem. If the president is ignorant, it's a crisis.


VAUSE: Again, to his point, what is the impact from these statements coming from the president which is clearly not based in fact and not right?

PHOENIX: Well, it's outright dangerous, because it ignores the real driver of these fires, and the intensification we've seen over the last couple of years. The -- you know, the Mendocino Complex right now is the largest fire in state history. It topped the Thomas Fire from last December.

So, what he's not doing is he's not highlighting climate change as the driver for the increased dryness of the vegetation and the increased winds that we're seeing. Temperatures are rising. This is something that we can act on, we can adapt. But we have to put all of our energy and our resources towards that end.

So, he is really by his willful ignorance and his politicization of something that is an environmental crisis, he is hurting real people.

VAUSE: Yes. OK. Jess, thank you.

PHOENIX: Yes. Thank you, John.

VAUSE: Appreciate you coming in. Next, up here on NEWSROOM L.A. He saved the world in the movies, but can Steven Seagal save the relationship between Moscow and Washington?

JOHN VAUSE, HOST, NEWSROOM: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching "CNN Newsroom" live from Los Angeles, I am John Vause with the headlines this hour. US economic sanctions had been reimposed on Iran, the result of President Trump's withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal. These sanctions cover the purchase of US dollars and trade in metals and automobiles, more damaging sanctions regarding Iran's oil exports are set to take effect in November.

Donald Trump's solid deputy campaign chairman will return to the witness stand on Tuesday in Paul Manafort's fraud and tax evasion trial. Rick Gates has testified that along with Manafort, he had 15 foreign bank accounts to hide money from the US government and he knew it was illegal.

Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro is doubling down on his accusations that the outgoing Columbian President was behind an alleged assassination Africa^ttempt, but two hours ago, Mr. Maduro posted a video on Twitter saying he has enough proof to link Juan Maneul Santos to the attacks, Santos though has denied any involvement.

At least three people are dead and dozens hurt after a tanker truck exploded on a highway in Italy. The tanker carrying flammable material rear ended another truck in Bologna causing both to burst into flames. The fire then spread to a parking lot below the bridge, a number of vehicles caught fire and blew up in a massive explosion. It was so powerful, part of the bridge collapsed and the road has been shut down.

Okay, this next story is hard to kill, Steven Seagal is out for justice, diplomatic justice that is, the 1990s Hollywood action star has been made a special representative for US Russian ties. Relations between the two countries had been under siege but comrade Seagal hopes he can change all of that. Here is Matthew Chance.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: He has made a career out of a prowess in the martial arts, churning out numerous direct to video movies, featuring far-fetched plots and his trademark for violence, but Steven Seagal's latest role as a Russian diplomat seems strangely out of character.

"I am deeply humbled and honored to have been appointed as a special representative of the Russian foreign ministry in charge of Russian and American humanitarian ties," the actor said in a tweet. "I hope we can strive for peace, harmony and positive results in the world. I take his honor very seriously." He added.

But it's unclear how many others will. Seagal's appointment stems from a longstanding relationship he has cultivated with Russia's real- life tough guy, President Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader himself, a judo blackbelt, awarding the US martial artist a passport in 2016 after Segal had relentlessly lobbied according to Russian officials.

Seagal has also been an outspoken supporter of Russian policy like its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, taking to the stage there in 2014 in a charity concert that which he hinted at his possible diplomatic role.


STEVEN SEAGAL, RUSSIAN SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE: My greatest desire is to Bring Russia and America together and always has been, and music is the language of the gods. It's the one language that all people understand, it's the one language that bring all people together.


REGINA SIMONS, ALLEGED RAPE VICTIM: My name is Regina Simons. I first met Steven Seagal when I was ...


CHANCE: But Seagal has come under scrutiny for more than just his political views. Earlier this year, two women came forward to voice claims the actor had sexually assaulted them in the 1990s allegedly when one was 17 and the other 18. Seagal's lawyer said the actor denied the allegations calling them false and a disservice to women who are victimized because of real prejudice in the film industry.

And Seagal's criticism of that film industry doesn't stop at its treatment of women. In 2007, the actor made anti-Semitic remarks about movie producers at a Buddhist conference in Southern Russia.


SEAGAL: The people who finance the movies, none of them are Buddhists, they are in fact Jewish people, these people are not interested in anyone's philosophy.


CHANCE: In recent years, Seagal has been pictured showing interest in an array of authoritarian figures eating carrots with President Lukashenko of Belarus, dubbed "the last dictator in Europe," and hanging out with Ramzan Kadyrov, the pro-Kremlin leader of Chechnya accused by Human Rights groups of committing appalling abuses.

The Russian Foreign Ministry liken Seagal's new role to that of a UN goodwill ambassador, but it's uncertain how much goodwill the appointment will generate. Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.


VAUSE: When we come back, a weekend of bloodshed in Chicago. A dozen killed in a shooting spree which appears to be both random and targeted, so far no arrests partly because of a long held distrust of police.

One sound rang out again and again in the US city of Chicago this past weekend, that sound was gun fire. It was an incredibly violent weekend, even for a city which has seen more than its share of homicides. Between Friday and Sunday, 66 people were shot, a dozen fatally, but so far not one arrest.

Chicago's mayor and police superintendent put some of the blame on the community's distrust of police.


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 ...


EMANUEL: ... you must come forward as a neighborhood where a moral center of gravity holds.

(END VIDEO CLIP) 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 were 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 of lack 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, they said that he tried to reach for a gun, but autopsy report came back and said he was shot twice in the back of the head.


WILLIAMS: So that again, right there, with them trying to say that these young men and people who have guns and when they take their lives and then they cover it up. 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 a police came to my house and shined a light and told my neighbor. I've personally took people down to 51st and Wentworth where it's the homicide unit to tell what they knew about a shooting and a detective read the statement of another witness to this witness with the address. We are not talking about this.

VAUSE: Hey, Camellia, we are 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 go for a short break. When we come back here on "Newsroom LA" the comedian and prankster, Sacha Baron Cohen strikes again, taking down the so-called "toughest sheriff in America."

Add Sheriff Joe Arpaio to the list of high profile conservatives who have been punked by the comedian, Sacha Baron Cohen.


SACHA BARON COHEN, AMERICAN COMEDIAN: I am with Sheriff Joe Arpaio and he is the toughest sheriff in America.


VAUSE: The so called 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 being interviewed by a pro-Trump YouTube star from Finland and that's Cohen with the orange streak in his hair in a character called OMGWhizzBoyOMG. It all began with some back and forth over gun control.


JOE ARPAIO, FORMER MARICOPA COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: We have to follow the Constitution and the law and allow people to have guns.

COHEN: 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 am hoping that somebody else in there has a gun.


VAUSE: It was a long way before Cohen moved into the punch line asking Arpaio if he would ever accept a job from the President. A discussion which included of color sexual euphemisms and then came Cohen's question which he used a term for oral sex, which includes the word job. Arpaio was asked if he would accept that if he 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 is former US 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, Ms. Lewinsky.


VAUSE: Comedian, actor and director Hal Sparks joins us from Las Vegas. That was verbal jujitsu. I hope you really appreciate that. That was so difficult to write.

HAL SPARKS, AMERICAN COMEDIAN, ACTOR AND DIRECTOR: Yes. And 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 don't even feel sympathy for Joe Arpaio because he is Joe Arpaio, but this was a real "got you." He seemed kind of confused. He wasn't certain what's going on. Cohen seems to be kind of punching down...



SPARKS: No, no, no. No punching down, this man was a sheriff of an entire county. He ran tent cities for convicts in a 110-degree heat he called concentration camps. The man was pardoned on a Federal crime by the President of the United States. He is not a victim and it hasn't been just conservatives understanding. 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 tried to humor the person they were talking to, they're listening to the words coming out of his mouth and answering accordingly.

The difference between, I think the conservatives that are getting hit on the show and the Democrats and liberals that are getting messed with is that the liberals are listening to what he is actually saying and you could see them kind of check themselves, like, "This makes no sense," 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 an old hypnosis kind of joke which is, everybody watching take your hand, make a fist like this - just try it at home - and then I want you to take your fist and put it right to your chin, half the people 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.

If you watch, that's how he does it. Is he leads you where you want to go and 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: Okay, because a few years ago, because that's the question, why do people keep doing this when they know the shtick, right? So, Slate published a letter ...

SPARKS: They don't ...

VAUSE: ... well that's the thing. Slate published a letter a few years ago which Cohen's people sent out to potential victims lured into these subjects, that person is first praised, we're talking about unbridled reputation and they are invited to present issues in a fresh and innovative way that will engage young viewers. They hope the show won't just be seen in the UK, but worldwide because this has been an old show which was with HBO, that I guess is flattering, it's vague. 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 of these conservatives and others, why do they stay for the rest of it, clearly, they're being 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 foreword 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 on the level of especially like kind of the YouTube Infowar site of things, say things that are just as maniacally outlandish and stupid as he is 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, because that's what made this slip by Arpaio where he agreed to effectively - how do we find the word for it - yes, a sexual act from the President. Here's the thing, that whole moment, if you know anything about Donald Trump, he wouldn't offer you that, he would demand it from you.

And so that's the part that would have thrown me in that situation.

VAUSE: Okay, this TV series from Cohen is a new one, it hasn't been on air for an entire month yet, but Cohen has used a pedophile detecting machine on Senate candidate and incredibly accused child molester Roy Moore. He has managed to see a group of Republicans to say they support arming toddlers and then there was the Georgia lawmaker who was convinced to pull down his pants and yell 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.

JASON SPENCER, GEORGIA LAWMAKER: [Bleep] [bleep] [bleep].


VAUSE: Okay, Cohen's been doing this stuff since "Borat" to "Ali G" and now, we're into this new phase. Is he a one trick pony and this is 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's more necessary now than ever because we've reached just effectively, to some degree the Instagramming of nightly news if we're not careful. And people are using it as a springboard. It used to be that you ran for President to sell books, and that was the general idea. That has metastasized 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, but as the left gets 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 like special forces character - the makeup is so cartoonish, like 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 was - he had an accident and had his chin replaced with a steel girder, I don't know what they're telling them to be okay 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 he is a victim. It's bullying. Nonsense. These are adults. They are responsible for the circumstance they are 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 are out of time. Hey, it's been a while, so thank you so much. We really appreciate you coming in.

SPARKS: Glad to. I'm in Vegas, so next time I'm in LA, we'll do it in person.

VAUSE: Absolutely. That would be fun.

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

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

And he kept talking and talking. You're watching "CNN Newsroom" live from Los Angeles, I am John Vause, please stay with us. Rosemary Church will take it after the break.