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Russian False Story behind Qatar Crisis; British Elections; Keeping Up with Never-Ending News Revelations. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired June 7, 2017 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[00:00:15] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. I'm John Vause in Los Angeles. Thanks for being with us as we follow breaking news on a number of major stories this hour.
First, former FBI director James Comey expected to dispute President Donald Trump's claim that Comey said he was not under investigation.
Also heated exchanges between Mr. Trump and his Attorney General -- a top administration official says Jeff Sessions told the President "If you're not happy with me, I don't have to stay."
And a CNN exclusive -- U.S. investigators believe fake news planted by Russia is partly to blame for growing rift between Qatar and its neighbors.
We'll start with that diplomatic crisis rocking the Middle East. Russian hackers implicating Qatar state news agency to plant false stories and to drive a wedge between the U.S. and its allies. That's the conclusion of U.S. investigators who are in Doha right now.
We'll begin with exclusive reporting from CNN's Evan Perez.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN U.S. JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Russian hackers are the top suspects as U.S. investigators try to help figure out who was behind a cyber breach against Qatar's state news agency. The hackers planted a fake news report friendly to Iran and critical of President Donald Trump that is now being used by Saudi Arabia and other U.S. allies as a reason to carry out an economic and political blockade of Qatar.
U.S. and Qatari officials tell us that the FBI sent a team of investigators to Doha to help the Qatari government investigate the alleged hacking incident. The U.S. suspicion of Russian hackers would add to concerns by U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies that Russia continues to try to use some of the same cyber hacking measures on U.S. allies that it used to meddle in the U.S. 2016 elections.
Qatar holds one of the largest U.S. military bases in the region. U.S. officials say that Russian goal appears to be to cause rifts among the U.S. and its allies. It's not yet clear whether the U.S. has tracked the hackers in this Qatar incident to Russian criminal organizations or to the Russian Security Services that are blamed for the U.S. election hacks.
One officials told us that based on past intelligence quote, "not much happens in that country without the blessing of the Russian government".
Evan Perez, CNN -- Washington.
VAUSE: Let's bring in CNN's Muhammad Lila in Abu Dhabi. So Muhammad -- for weeks Qatar had insisted the state news agency had been hacked. And if this intelligence is right and the hackers were Russian what are now the implications, I guess, in particular for relations between Doha and Moscow?
MUHAMMAD LILA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well John -- the implications are fairly broad. Look, if these allegations are true -- and at this point we don't have a reaction, I believe, from the Kremlin -- but if they are true it would indicate that Russia is seeking to create a rift between Doha and some of its neighbors.
We know that, for example, Russia and Iran have been allies in Syria and Iraq and in other areas fro quite some time. And Qatar would really be an easy target because in many ways Qatar has been seen as the black sheep of the GCC or the Gulf Cooperation Council, the group of six countries in the Persian Gulf that sort of have a regional alliance amongst them.
So it would seem as though, if these reports are true, that Russia is trying to drive a wedge between Qatar and for example Saudi Arabia or the UAE by planting this false report knowing that it would come the time when there has been some tension amongst these neighbors. And if they did want to create a rift that would have certainly been the time to do it.
VAUSE: Ok. So the diplomatic rift was sparked by what appears to be these fake pro-Iran, pro-Israeli stories on the Qatar state news Web site. But it seems unlikely that now we know that the Russians could be involved that there will be this restoration of diplomatic relations because the tensions had been high for quite some time.
LILA: Well, that's right. And in fact, if anything, it's looking like Qatar is getting more and more isolated as the days go on. Look, Jordan recently downgraded its diplomatic relations. I believe Mauritius or Mauritania, one of them, recently severed their relationships as well.
But this rift is much deeper than just one fake news article that came out. And the background on that was, you know, there's a news article that came out on a country news Web site, an official government news Web site that had a conciliatory tone with Iran. That prompted a backlash in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Qatar came out and said well, no, this was not a real news story. It was because our sites were hacked.
But it quickly came out that the rift was much deeper than that. And in fact if you look at some of the comments that were made, for example, by the UAE's foreign minister yesterday, he referred to Qatar's behavior over the last several weeks and months that many of the other Gulf countries considered unacceptable.
For example, they blamed Qatar for sponsoring terrorist groups like Hamas and even al Qaeda presence in Syria. These are things -- these are allegations that have long dogged Qatar, not just since these fake news allegations came out but much longer than that.
[00:05:03] And at this point, it seems as though there's very little indication that these two sides are willing to sit down and come to the table. We know that Kuwait has been trying to mediate but the indications are that even Kuwait's attempts have been unsuccessful.
So right now, it looks as though this wedge might grow deeper rather than these sides coming closer together.
VAUSE: Ok. Muhammad -- thank you. Muhammad Lila with the very latest there in Abu Dhabi.
Meantime President Trump seems to be endorsing the diplomatic isolation of Qatar by other Arab allies of the U.S. He tweeted this, "Through my recent trip to the Middle East, I stated that there can no longer be funding of radical ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar -- look."
And later he said this, "So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the king and 50 countries already paying off. They said they would take a hard line on funding extremism and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end of the horror of terrorism."
CNN's Erin Burnett asked Qatar's ambassador to the U.S. for his reaction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHEIKH MISHAL BIN HAMAD AL THANI, QATARI AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: We are confident with our cooperation with the United States. We are confident for our efforts to combat terrorism. So they came to me as a surprise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Joining me now California talk radio host Ethan Bearman and California Republican National Committee member Shawn Steel.
Ethan -- it seems as if, you know, the President is clearly choosing a side here. Maybe without knowing, you know, the implications or the consequences of doing that.
ETHAN BEARMAN, RADIO HOST: Yes. I think that there's -- I mean this whole thing with the Russians hacking, this is more evidence for what they did here. But to your point, I am really disturbed between the rhetoric from his campaign, he was so anti-Saudi Arabia and now suddenly he's cozying up to Saudi Arabia. There's a complex series of relationships in the Middle East.
Saudi Arabia was not directly responsible for the 9/11 attacks but there were nationals from that country and they're funding some of the radical --
VAUSE: And Saudi has done their own fare share of, you know, terrorism and jihadi groups around the world. And the Trump tweets on Qatar, they seem to (inaudible) what officials, you know, in the Defense Department, in the State Department have been saying.
You know, this is how Secretary of State Rex Tillerson responded to the issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: The President's message in Riyadh, remember, was to motivate all of the Arab and Muslim nations worldwide in their Muslim summit that all nations needed to take action against extremism and take action to also terminate the support, financial support in any ways that they can. And I think every country in the region has their own obligations they need to live up to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So Shawn -- that is the diplomatic answer. Not (inaudible) one side out against the other because everyone in the administration seems -- they (ph) used the relationship with Qatar. There is the biggest airbase in the Middle East in Qatar which the U.S. uses and they've been using it for strikes against ISIS. They used it during the Iraq war.
SHAWN STEELE, CALIFORNIA REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Qatar is schizophrenic. What you have is the largest space in the entire Persian Gulf. At the same time, they were the founders of al-Jazeera. That was a huge propaganda machine that was explicitly anti-American.
Qatar has been a bad player with a lot of bad personnel for a very long time. It's not a new story. And Muhammad -- your own affiliate just revealed that this isn't just a story that suddenly changed the entire diplomatic reality in the Middle East. Not true at all. Qatar has earned this.
This is not something -- and you're going to see more information come out. It's such a news story by putting the Russian spice on it -- there's no evidence of that.
Once again, and you said it yourself, if it is true, if it is verified. Again it's unnamed sources. I'm not interested in made-up facts or potential facts --
VAUSE: It's what we're being told --
STEEL: I want real facts.
VAUSE: We've had that discussion.
STEEL: No, no, no, no, no. Who, who --
BEARMAN: And I would add --
STEEL: Give me one person. Just one.
BEARMAN: I have experience in information security, information technology security. And I'm going to tell you something.
The Russians are renowned forever attacking everything that they can, probing everything and trying to get in. This is -- there's nothing new about this. I absolutely --
STEEL: Yes. But we can't know for a fact they did. The other time --
VAUSE: The other big headline -- the other big headline -- we're running out of time. The other big headline, President Trump apparently furious at his Attorney General Jeff Sessions because he recused himself from the Russia investigation. That was after he failed to disclose his contacts with the Russian ambassador.
And again, to you Ethan -- essentially Sessions had no other choice but to recuse himself from that investigation, right.
BEARMAN: He had to otherwise the investigation is completely invalid because he was part of the investigation itself. He was a subject of the investigation.
This needed to happen. He needed to recuse himself. This is interesting though where suddenly we have a question of the Attorney General this early in addition to all the other missteps that have happened in this administration. Jeff Sessions, if he steps down as Attorney General -- this is a huge issue for the Trump administration.
VAUSE: Hold your fire, Shawn, just for a moment because on Tuesday, White House spokesman Sean Spicer could not say if Sessions still has the support of the President. Listen to this.
[00:10:03] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How would you describe the President's level of confidence in the Attorney General Jeff Sessions?
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I have not had a discussion with him about that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought you said that there was a development.
SPICER: I'm answering your question which is I have not had that discussion with him. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you can't say that he has confidence in his Attorney General?
SPICER: I said I have not had a discussion with him on the question. If I haven't had a discussion with him about the subject, I tend not to speak about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: And we are still waiting on that, you know, whether or not the President has confidence in the Attorney General. Shawn -- the thing is though, if Sessions is on thin ice -- everybody is on thin ice and this is a president who is now completely isolated.
STEEL: I think your speculation's interesting. But I happen to know people in Justice.
STEEL: I happen to know somebody who's very close to Jeff Sessions. And they think it's a laugher. The 1 percent truth has been magnified a hundred times beyond the truth --
VAUSE: What 1 percent --
STEEL: And secondly -- well, is Donald Trump possibly unhappy that Jeff Session did the right thing. I would think that that's likely. But again, unnamed sources -- probably people that are not even in government anymore.
This kind of news is again, speculation. Now --
VAUSE: Much like Michael Flynn was speculation. He resigned -- I mean a lot of speculations that turned out to be true.
STEEL: That's true. But what's real is what Sean Spicer said. I think that's disconcerting. You know --
BEARMAN: But why doesn't he talk to the press?
STEEL: No, no, no -- I agree with you. I would like him to talk to the President to get that cleared up. But I think in 24 hours, we're going to have a lot more information.
VAUSE: Ok. Let's go on to James Comey. His appearance on Thursday, must-see TV, before the Senate Intelligence Committee. We're told the former FBI director will be refuting this claim which was made by the President.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We had a very nice dinner. And at that time he told me "You are not under investigation", which I knew anyway. He said it once at dinner. And then he said it twice during phone calls.
LESLIE HOLT, NBC NEWS HOST: Did you call him?
TRUMP: In one case I called him, in one case he called me.
HOLT: And did you ask am I under investigation?
TRUMP: I actually asked him, yes. I said if it's possible will you let me know am I under investigation. And he said you are not under investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So Ethan, is this a question of he said, he said? Who has the credibility?
BEARMAN: Well, I think the FBI director does at this point. The President has shown himself -- not the director.
STEEL: Actually ex-director.
BEARMAN: Excuse me -- the ex-FBI director.
STEEL: The one who was fired.
BEARMAN: Right because he was standing out and doing things to get to the bottom of the Russian investigation.
STEEL: That's not what you said two months ago.
BEARMAN: That is exactly what I said two months ago.
And the American people are going to believe James Comey over the President at this point -- 35 percent of the American people will support the President and believe the President. The rest of us most likely will believe James Comey in his testimony.
VAUSE: You know when asked about Comey's testimony, the President had an odd response. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have -- Comey ahead of his testimony?
TRUMP: I wish him luck.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Shawn -- it seems Donald Trump is gearing up for a fight on this one. Is that the best strategy right now?
STEEL: You know, I don't know if that's the best strategy at all. I think a little -- maybe a little reconciliation, a little withdrawal, maybe fewer tweeters --
VAUSE: You think he should tweet less? STEEL: Yes. Tweet less is probably a good thing to do. Or at least not have some lawyers look at it and you know how they screw things up. It would take too much time.
I think the Comey thing is the best show in town. I'm excited. I like the talk that you have on it. I'm looking forward to every bit of this. But he's a great showman. And so is Donald Trump. So you've got two great showmen that are going to be giving different stories on this.
But the bottom line is he's not going to go to anything that he did like taking information from a president -- that would be obstructing justice because then he himself would be violating the law. So he's certainly not going to do that.
BEARMAN: What law would he be violating by not immediately reporting the obstruction of justice? It's not violating the law. That is actually a complete misnomer that is put out there by the right in defense of President Trump.
STEEL: Sadly, most legal scholars disagree with you including most lawyers that have passed the bar.
VAUSE: Shawn gets the last word.
Ok -- Shawn. It's been good to see you both -- thank you.
British voters head to the polls Thursday for a snap election. Most polls put Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party in the lead and a heightened focus on national security could strengthen her case. Her biggest rival, Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party has been gaining in recent weeks. The polling company YouGov puts the Conservatives at 42 percent, Labour at 38 percent, Liberal Democrats at 9 percent and projects no outright winner meaning it could actually be a hung parliament.
Our Nina Dos Santos joins us now, live from London's Paddington Green (ph). So Nina -- you know, I know we should look at polls as being reflective and not predictive. But really -- how serious is this possibility of a hung parliament?
NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you -- John.
[00:15:00] Well, it's a problem of serious prospect than it was a couple of months ago when Theresa May originally called this election at the time. She was enjoying a huge lead over her nearest opponent, the Labour Party, around about 18 percent or so. But as you said that lead has shrunk dramatically; in fact, just in the last couple of weeks, it's had an exponential shrinking if you like.
And as you said, some of these polls put them at just a three-point difference; some of them actually, one of them today published in the "Daily Telegraph" newspaper, that prediction showed that there could just be one-point difference between these two parties.
So it is a major reversal of fortune. And what that means is that Theresa May, may well have bitten off more than she could chew. She went in to this to capitalize on her strong political position but that strength seems to have evaporated. And it's also evaporated as she's faced some really tough questions in the aftermath of two terrorist attacks -- one in Manchester and one, of course, here in London Bridge over the course of the last weekend.
A lot of focus now, not just on her last year as unelected prime minister after taking over from David Cameron. But also what she did when she was Home Secretary for the six years before that, she cut the police numbers.
So although she's trying to campaign here on (inaudible) if you like, of being strong and stable on issues like Brexit, on issues like security there are a lot of things that are coming to bite her here on her previous record as secretary and also a lot of what she said on the issue of Brexit.
So there's a lot to play for here. And also is looking decidedly uncertain. I should point though the polls have been extremely wrong in the past. They failed to predict the outcome of the 2015 election when the conservatives managed to gain a majority in parliament. So the real question is how will it go? We just don't know.
VAUSE: We just don't know. Ok -- after all that. Nina -- thank you so much. A big day is coming up for you. We appreciate you being with us. Thank you.
Ok. Dominic Thomas chairs the Department of French and Francophone Studies at UCLA. He's with me now for more on this.
Ok. So Dominic -- if this is an awful resort for the Tories, Theresa May really only has herself to blame.
DOMINIC THOMAS, UCLA DEPARTMENT OF FRENCH AND FRANCOPHONE STUDIES: And that's really it.
THOMAS: She didn't have to do this. They had a majority. She was at the helm of the party when David Cameron was forced to step down after the Brexit referendum. But she, herself, had not been elected thus far. She was not at the helm of the Conservative Party when it went through the 2015 elections.
And so that means that in 2020 shortly after the end of the Brexit negotiations and with the two years that lie ahead of us, the question of the British economy and all these kinds of things, she would have had to stand in 2020 to try and extend her term in office.
So by trying to on the one hand capitalize on what appeared to be sort of total disarray in the Labour Party and then build on her lead and give her a kind of mandate, she may very well have found herself (inaudible) when the outcome of the election Thursday with either a reduced mandate or no majority. It is possible.
VAUSE: And you know, I think a hung parliament will probably be the worst outcome of all if you look at the official Brexit negotiations set to begin, what, in a couple of weeks.
THOMAS: Right. Absolutely. Because as soon as this is over, the thing is that it depends what kind of hung parliament. She could still have a substantial lead but not a majority. And try and keep things going forward and create some kind of coalition that would keep her in power.
VAUSE: But without the mandate she was hoping.
THOMAS: Right. Of course, without a mandate; and actually paradoxically, it also depends on how well the Labour Party does because the Labour Party precisely because of its position on a number of issues such as for example allowing the Scottish to have a referendum on their future in the European Union.
The capacity to potentially work with a Liberal Democrat actually makes it far more likely than a Labour Party good performance would allow them to form a coalition more likely than the Conservative Party.
And Corbyn has been explicit about the fact that the single market would not be then taken off the table. So the hard Brexit she proposes would be very different to the kind of soft Brexit and the sort of things Corbyn has said about the European Union.
VAUSE: Uncertain days ahead. It seem Theresa May based her campaign almost like a presidential campaign. She based it on her personality and her brand. But her brand has taken a real beating in a lot of ways.
THOMAS: And the brand in many ways was a false brand. This was somebody who, in June of 2016 was in the remain camp, (inaudible) the Brexit. She's now gone to the other side and is trying to defend Brexit which is something that she'd never really, you know, advocated nor had David Cameron.
But beyond that, for example, her meeting with the E.U. Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in London was a complete disaster. The G-7 meeting, she found herself essentially isolated with Donald Trump with new and emerging leadership in Europe, an exciting leadership in the guise, for example, of the new French President Emmanuel Macron.
And so of course, Trump's sort of performance at the G-7 and in Europe, his statements on the Paris Accord, have I think weakened her brand in the sense that she's hitched her wagon to Donald Trump and I think that has proven (ph) to be sort of a big mistake and people are increasingly scrutinizing that.
[00:20:04] VAUSE: Ok. So looking at today -- a win is a win is a win. But, you know, what is -- when is it a disaster if she stays in power? Obviously if she loses, it's a disaster. But, you know, what margin is she looking at? How does she define success at this election?
THOMAS: Well, more than 330. In other words there are 650 seats. They have this very narrow majority. If she can extend that, she will say that this really is a mandate and will allow her to negotiate and so.
If it's not, or if it's only a very small margin, not only will I think it will weaken her position, it potentially subjects her to a leadership change from within the party as the tough Brexiteers (ph) come out fighting trying to remove her and make sure that this deal goes ahead and a hard Brexit not a soft Brexit.
VAUSE: Ok. Interesting days ahead as we say.
Ok -- Dominic good to see you. Thank you.
THOMAS: Thank you.
VAUSE: And we'll take a short break.
When we come back, we've heard a lot of explanations for Jared Kushner's meetings with key Russian figures. Just ahead -- why my next guest says he'll have to tell Congress a story no one has ever heard before to avoid prison.
And how the never-ending overwhelming (ph) news about the Trump administration is like a nerve-wrecking "I Love Lucy" scene.
VAUSE: Those that have (ph) late-watching television at night like I do, you may remember this -- one of the funniest moments ever in television history -- the famous chocolate scene from an episode of "I love Lucy".
Lucy and her friend Ethel -- they're working at a candy factory. They're wrapping chocolates as they come down a conveyor which somebody speeds up and the two women just can't keep up the pace.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LUCILLE BALL, COMEDIAN: Listen. Ethel -- I think just -- I think we're fighting a losing game.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: I think we're fighting a losing game.
Right now, that sort of kind of feels like with all the news coming from White House, all the details about the Russia investigation, under scrutiny here and there. What does all that mean? The President tweeted, "What".
The person closest to Donald Trump right now who is under scrutiny from the FBI is his senior adviser and former -- and son-in-law, I should say -- Jared Kushner. And maybe he was just given the kiss of death by Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Jared -- Jared's actually become much more famous than me. I'm a little bit upset about that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: The President made the same remark about James Comey, the FBI director he fired last month. But exactly why is Kushner under scrutiny by the FBI and what could the legal problems be for Mr. Kushner?
Seth Abramson is an attorney and a professor. He joins us now from Manchester in New Hampshire. Seth -- thank you for being with you.
[00:25:00] You very helpfully outlined all the details involving Kushner in 20 short tweets which really simplified the issues. So I'm hoping you can break everything down for us into bite size pieces.
So all of the problems for Kushner center on two meetings at Trump Tower in December during the transition -- right.
SETH ABRAMSON, ATTORNEY: That's correct. And the important thing to know first is that these were both clandestine meetings. Mr. Kushner ensured that neither Mr. Kislyak nor Mr. Gorkov would be seen by the press pool as they enter Trump Tower. When he filled out his SCF 86, security clearance forms, he didn't disclose these meetings. And when the press ultimately found out about the meetings, Mr. Kushner told the "New Yorker" through an intermediary that he was alone at the meetings. And of course now we know that Mr. Flynn was with him.
VAUSE: But meeting the Russian ambassador -- that's not illegal. Meeting with the CEO of a Russian bank which was the other meeting -- that's essentially not illegal. The problems come after those meetings.
ABRAMSON: That's correct. Though I would note that normally meeting like this would immediately be reported, notes would be taken. It certainly would not be clandestine in any sense.
But I do think the content of the meetings is the issue. The meeting with Mr. Gorkov, the explanation that we heard is that they were discussing business. But of course, no American can conduct business with VEB, the bank Mr. Gorkov heads, because of U.S. sanctions. And the explanation for the meeting with Mr. Kislyak is even more upsetting because it suggests that the Trump administration wanted a back channel to Putin using a Russian (inaudible) at the Russian embassy.
VAUSE: Ok. Let's just focus on the, you know, the excuse of back channels to the Kremlin. One of the defenses for Jared Kushner here is that, you know, he was just naive. He's new to this world. He didn't realize what he may have done, the implications. How does that stand up? And is that attempt to sort of negate any criminal intent?
ABRAMSON: I'm sure that that's part of it. Unfortunately it doesn't stand up. And it's very interesting that originally Mr. Kushner told the "New Yorker" through an intermediary that he was alone because the fact that he was with Mr. Flynn meaning that he could not have been naive. Mr. Flynn formerly was the head of the DIA and he knows the intelligence community well. He knows that this sort of operation going to the Russian embassy using a Russian (inaudible) to talk to Putin for a back channel has never been tried before by an administration. So Mr. Kushner would have been told that by Mr. Flynn. There's no way he wouldn't have known that given that Mr. Flynn was in the room at this meetings.
VAUSE: And there are conflicting reasons for the meeting with Sergey Gorkov, the Russian banker. Either it was an attempt to establish direct communication with Putin or it was about business, you say both explanations are a problem.
ABRAMSON: Well, absolutely. And we have to remember that Mr. Gorkov immediately flew to Japan to see Mr. Putin the very day after he met with Mr. Kushner. If they were discussing business, that would seem to suggest that Mr. Kushner would have had to have been discussing sanctions with Mr. Gorkov because there couldn't be any business between Kushner Companies and Mr. Gorkov or VEB unless there were no sanctions.
If they were discussing a back channel we can only reiterate that the intelligence community has said that this has not been done before. There are some in the intelligence community who say that it would qualify as espionage if the Trump administration again were to use the Russian embassy and a Russian (inaudible) and Russian encrypted channels to communicate possibly classified information or even not classified information to Mr. Putin in Kremlin.
VAUSE: You know, the terms of the sanctions are pretty strict when it comes to VEB, Gorkov's bank, so is it possible they weren't talking about money, keeping in mind that VEB is $17 billion in debt and desperately seeking capital?
ABRAMSON: Well, we can't pretend that we know for certain what was discussed. Now Mr. Kushner has said through his attorney Jamie Gorelick that he's going to cooperate with the congressional inquiry into ties between the Trump administration and Russia. But there have been other Trump associates like Carter Page, like Roger Stone who have said that they will cooperate with Congress, that they'll explain exactly what was discussed at individual meetings. And those promises have not been carried.
So if Mr. Kushner follows through on his promise and discussed exactly what he talked about with Mr. Gorkov and Mr. Kislyak, again he'd have to give an explanation other than what we've heard so far. But perhaps he'll come up with something that we've never heard before that would be convincing to Congress and not a crime.
VAUSE: Looking down the road here, what does all this actually mean for Jared Kushner and his huge wide-ranging role at the White House?
ABRAMSON: Well, if you actually take the best-case scenario and you say that Mr. Kushner was simply being naive which again it would not be possible because Mr. Flynn was present, that would be a firing offense. Certainly he would lose his security clearance for engaging in that sort of behavior in a rogue fashion without direction, without any sort of guidance from the intelligence community. He would lose his security clearance.
He would be fired and as you indicated earlier, he did just receive the kiss of death from his father-in-law. So there's a chance that Jared Kushner is not long for the White House.
VAUSE: Well, I guess it will all play out in the coming weeks and months ahead.
Seth -- thank you for breaking it down for us. It's one of the more complicated parts of, you know, the ongoing investigations. So much appreciated.
ABRAMSON: Thank you.
[00:30:01] VAUSE: One of those popular tourist sites in Paris suddenly plunged into chaos and prosecutors now launching a terror investigation after a man goes on an attack near the Notre Dame Cathedral.
Plus, ahead, the ring leader of Saturday's London terror attack may have been one of the most dangerous extremist in the U.K. Why police say they downgraded an investigation of him?
VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, I'm John Vause. The headlines this hour.
U.S. investigator says Russia may have sparked the controversy among Qatar and its neighbors. Intelligence shows Russian hackers planted a fake news report portraying Qatar as friendly to Iran and Israel. Several countries including Egypt and Saudi Arabia have cut diplomatic ties with Qatar.
U.S.-backed forces in Syria have launched what could been the most important fight yet against ISIS. The offensive to retake Raqqah, the terror group self-declared capital.
Syria and democratic forces had the city surrounded on three sides, but they anticipate a long and difficult battle in Raqqah's tight corners.
Brazil's top electoral court is carrying a case that could result in President Michel Temer of being kicked out of office. The justices are deciding whether the 2014 campaign benefited from illegal campaign funding. Back then, Temer was President Dilma Rousseff's running mate. He replaced her when she was impeached last year.
British voters head to the polls on Thursday for a snap general election. Prime Minister Theresa May called the vote when she held a big lead over her rival first and foremost Labour's Jeremy Corbyn. Projection suggest, though, her lead has dwindled making for a much closer race. French authorities believed a man was acting alone when he attack
an officer outside one of Paris's most popular attractions, the Notre- Dame Cathedral. They are also revealing more information about this man including what he said during the attack.
Here's CNN's Jim Bittermann.
JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Police sources now have identified the attacker as a 40-year-old Algerian student. He was carrying an ID card to that effect. Just kind of an unusual profile and unusual crime in a sense that he went after a three-man police patrol with a hammer. He managed to hit one of the policeman, the youngest one, 22 years old, who is just a beginner on the force. And one of his colleagues immediately shot at the attacker and managed to wound him in the thorax.
Police don't believe, though, that his life is in danger, that he will be able to survive and they could question him about his exact motivations. But he did say as he attacked the officer, this is for Syria. And that was enough that the terrorism prosecutor here open up an investigation for terrorism.
The interior minister, the new interior minister here Gerard Collomb appeared on the scene a short while later and remarked that this is just one of many of attacks -- there's been three in the last three months, against security officials.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GERARD COLLOMB, FRANCE INTERIOR MINISTER (through translator): We see once again, the police, the forces, the security forces in uniform are being attacked in our country like in many other European countries. They are victims of this threat, this terrorist threat, which in the name of a criminal ideology deciding to target the forces of order. But thank God because of this quick, good response by the police, they were able to protect themselves and the tourist around the church.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[00:35:22] BITTERMANN: The interior minister also said that there will be meeting of the defense council at the presidential palace tomorrow to talk about what further can be done to head off terrorism attacks. This was a previously scheduled meeting after the attacks in London.
And the new president here Emmanuel Macron wants to develop a task force to better coordinate intelligence activities.
Jim Bittermann, CNN, Paris.
VAUSE: The ringleader to Saturday's London terror attack may have been one of the most dangerous extremist in the U.K., 27-year-old Khuram Butt was a key figure in an outlawed radical Islamist group sympathetic to ISIS.
In 2015, police authorities investigated Butt, who was a British citizen born in Pakistan. That investigation was later downgraded because there was no evidence he was actually planning an attack.
Authorities also identified the third London attacker, 22-year- old Youssef Zaghba, believed to be an Italian of Moroccan descent. He was on an Italian watch list because authorities suspected he tried to travel to Syria. Police shot and killed all three attackers.
And we're just learning British police have made another arrest in connection with the London attack. A 30-year-old was arrested in East London. We'll have more details on that as soon as we get them.
In the meantime, a short break. When we come back, both North Korea and Barack Obama are slamming President Trump to his decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord.
Also, California's governor warned the world is not doing enough to protect the planet. And now he's teaming up with China to work on environmental issues.
VAUSE: With President Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord, the U.S. would be just one of three countries not part of that agreement. But that does not mean North Korea, even North Korea is on board. And now Pyongyang is calling out Donald Trump for his move, calling it selfish, silly, short-sighted with grave consequences for the rest of the world.
And Barack Obama (INAUDIBLE) dig at President Trump as well. Speaking in Montreal, the former U.S. president did not mention Mr. Trump by name, but left no doubt who he was talking about.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In Paris, we came together around the most ambitious agreement in history to fight climate change. an agreement that even with the temporary absence of American leadership will still give our children a fighting chance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: California now seems to be the unofficial climate ambassador to the U.S. Governor Jerry Brown and President Xi Jinping met in Beijing, agreed to work together on environmental issues such as reducing emissions and producing clean technology.
The governor warned, though, the world is not doing enough to protect the planet.
Matt Rivers joins us now live from Beijing. Matt, how unusual is it for the Chinese president to meet in such
a formal setting like he did with the governor from a U.S. state?
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, extremely unusual, John. It really doesn't happen very often. The governor of California has said so himself, actually, when he met with reporters both yesterday and then in talking to CNN again this morning in a one-on-one interview.
But, you know, a lot of experts, a lot of analysts are looking at the fact that Xi Jinping choose to meet with the governor of California in such a formal setting as sort of a sign. And we know where the Chinese stand on this issue.
They believe that the Paris agreement is the right way forward. They believed that the United States as well as all of the country should remain in that agreement. And while President Xi didn't specifically criticize the Trump administration during that meeting according to the governor, many experts that I've spoken to over the last day or two say look, it's a sign that the Chinese chose to meet with a leader who is very much in favor of fighting climate change and the United States taking the lead on that.
Here's a little bit about what the governor had to say and he doesn't mince words when he said that he doesn't believe that the United States is doing enough on this issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JERRY BROWN, CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR: Right now, there's too much complacency in the United States. And dare I say there's too much complacency in the whole world. And we have to do more. We have to do more in California. I'm not satisfied with what California is doing. So I'm certainly not satisfied with what most of the other people are doing. So this is (INAUDIBLE), a lot of complacency and I say it's time to wake up and begin this shift. And you can't shift it overnight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RIVERS: And, John, you know as well as I do that the Chinese leadership does not do things by accident. They know the governor of California's views on climate change before they agree to that meeting with President Xi. So there definitely could be some symbolism there with the president agreeing to meet with Governor Brown.
And to that end, you know, for Beijing, for the communist governor there, they are big on rules, they are big on protocol, they are big on tradition. So it's essentially to do an end run around the president of the United States to deal directly with, you know, a man who is essentially a rival to him. That is significant and that could come with -- does that come with any consequences, though, for Beijing.
It's something that we've posed the question to the governor. And he said, look, we're keeping these discussions between the state of California and the Chinese leadership. Very specific to the issue of climate change. They were very careful. If you saw the statement that the Chinese put out about this, it was meeting at the sub- national level. They were very, very clear when talking about why the governor California was granted this access to the president of China.
But the fact remains that if the Trump administration wants to, they can certainly see it as a slight. The Chinese government clearly favoring the governor of California in this instance and choosing not -- or choosing to grant him an audience and not met with the secretary of energy, Rick Perry, I believe while he was here.
So it's very interesting what they've done moving forward. The Chinese making this decision. And the Trump administration could very well see that as a slight and maybe it could impact the administration's ability to deal with China on other issues like national security and trade.
VAUSE: OK. Matt, thank you.
Matt Rivers live this hour in Beijing with the very interesting meeting between California's governor and the Chinese leadership.
OK, we'll finish here with a bit of a ride for adrenaline junkies. It's all about celebrating the French Open Tennis. The Eiffel Tower has been turned into a massive zip line. What those two things had in common? I have no idea. It sends riders across Champs de Mars, 115 meters above the ground with a speed of up to 90 kilometers an hour. The zip line will be open until Sunday. It's happening Paris.
Turn out, it's free. There you go. One that has to do with tennis, you know.
Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, I'm John Vause. "World Sport" is up next. That opens first up on tennis. Then I'll be back with another hour of news from around the world, you're watching CNN.