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HALA GORANI TONIGHT
U.K. Counterterror Police Investigating Ex-Spy's Illness; Seoul, North Korea Agrees To Freeze Nuclear Tests; Refugee Girl Speaks Of The Horrors Of Aleppo Siege; Jailed Seductress Offers Election Info For U.S. Asylum. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired March 6, 2018 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Live from CNN London, I'm Hala Gorani.
Tonight, an attempted murder of a Russian spy right here in the United Kingdom. Now the British government says if a country is behind it, they
Also, ahead, Donald Trump is speaking to the press this hour alongside the Swedish prime minister. He's hosting him at the White House. We'll bring
you that live.
And in a remarkable diplomatic development, North Korea says it is willing to talk to the United States about giving up its nuclear weapons.
We begin tonight, though, with that bizarre story set in rural England. It involves a former Russian spy found unconscious on a park bench next to his
daughter after exposure to quote "an unknown substance."
It sounds like the pages of a Cold War novel, right, but this is very much real life and the potential implications reach far and they reach wide.
Counterterror police are now investigating what happened to Sergei Skripal, a former military official from Russia, who was convicted of spying for the
The Kremlin has not commented. The British foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, though, is saying, "If there is evidence that his state was
involved implying potentially that maybe even Moscow might be behind it that the U.K. will act robustly. Listen to Johnson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: If those suspicions proved to be (inaudible) then this government will take whatever measures we deem
necessary to protect the lives of the people in this country, our values and our freedoms.
And, though, I am not now pointing fingers, (inaudible), Mr. Speaker, you understand point fingers. I say to governments around the world that no
attempt to take innocent life on U.K. soil will go either unsanctioned or unpunished.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: We have reaction, by the way, from the Russian Embassy to this. We'll get to that in a moment. Let's bring you right to the heart of this
story. Phil Black is in Salisbury where this suspected murder attempt took place. Fred Pleitgen joins me from Moscow.
Phil, first of all, what more do we know about what happened to this man and his daughter.
PHIL BLACK, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, it all happened just behind me here, Hala, this is a park near a shopping center. This is
where the father and daughter, Sergei Skripal, his daughter, Julia, was said to have been seen to be really unwell, to have collapses.
And this is where they were found by police and emergency services a short time later. That park bench is beneath the tent there. This is one of the
areas that has been cordoned off in town still. There is an Italian restaurant. All of these areas is still shutdown guarded by police.
We are told as a precaution because the authorities believed they say that there is no risk to the public at this stage although they stress they
still don't know what the substance was. They are still trying to find that out.
And we find out today that all of this investigation is now being led by the counterterror commands out of London not because this is deemed to be a
terrorist incident, but because that is the force that is thought to have the skills, the capabilities, the resources to get to the bottom of the
case, clearly, as unusual as this -- Hala.
GORANI: And Fred Pleitgen, any reaction from Russia to this? After all, this is a Russian spy that they convicted of spying for a foreign country.
They believed him to be a traitor.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. That's one of the things that the Russians did say at the time
that Sergei Skripal was arrested. There was really a no comment from the Kremlin earlier today. We were on a phone call with Dimitri Peskov, who is
the spokesman for Vladimir Putin.
He said that the Kremlin would not comment on any of this. They said they do not have any information from the British authorities, and that quite
frankly they did not know whether Sergei Skripal was in fact still a Russian citizen.
So, that is the official reaction from the Kremlin, but there was other reactions here in Russia as well. A lot of newspaper saying, look, Sergei
Skripal was of no value whatsoever to the Russian intelligence services.
There was nothing and no reason for them to want to get back at him, and one of things that we thought was really interesting here, Hala, is that
one of the people who commented the most on this day was Andre Logavoie (ph), who said that some of the things that are out there in British media
sort of implicating the Russians, so that was anti-Russian propaganda.
Well, he is the guy who was implicated in the murder of Alexander Luthenenko (ph) by British authorities at the time. He is now a member of
Parliament here in Russia, so he rejects any of this.
[15:05:03] So, what you have is you have a mix of the Russians rejecting all of this and a no comment from the Kremlin, but clearly they do not want
to talk about this more than is necessary and they are certainly hoping that this is not something that's going to snowball into anything bigger
and jeopardize relations between Russia and the U.K., and if any worse than they already have in the past -- Hala.
GORANI: And Phil Black, what more do we know about the condition? We understand Sergei Skripal and his daughter are in -- when they were taken
in were classified as being in critical condition. Are they stable? Do we know anything more about how they are doing medically speaking?
BLACK: The latest statements from the local police simply indicated their condition was unchanged, they are still critical. So, obviously, it is
still very serious, still grave and we've had no further assessment of what their prognosis maybe like.
We were told also by the police today, some of the emergency services, some of the personnel that initially responded to this, they were assessed as
well immediately after having dealt with this implying that they may have been exposed in some way to the substance, which again I stressed that is
still unknown. It's still very much the core of the investigations as it moves forward.
GORANI: Thanks very much, Phil Black. Still so many questions surrounding this. He is in Salisbury. Fred Pleitgen is in Moscow. Thanks very much
to both of you.
I want to get more on this story. Bob Seely is a conservative lawmaker in the U.K. Parliament, a member of Parliament here and he sits on the Commons
Foreign Affairs Committee. He also lived for four years in the former Soviet Union. Thanks, sir, for being with us.
Would you automatically suspect Russia in this case, if you were looking at it from the outside. What is your take on who might be irresponsible here?
BOB SEELY, BRITISH CONSERVATIVE MP: Well, we may automatically suspect. I think we have to be very careful. We don't know for sure and there may
possibly be other reasons and there maybe criminality involved. It is unfortunate coincidence, and it may will be that the Russians that are
involved but we do not know.
What we do know is that the Russians have poisoned and killed people in this country before. What we do know is that there are about a dozen
unexplained deaths linked to former oligarchs and people (inaudible) the Kremlin and frankly, (inaudible) haven't really been very close to
investigated to maybe they should have been.
GORANI: Because I guess, people naturally suspect Russia because of these unexplained deaths that you mentioned where Russian nationals are turning
up over the last several years dead. The modus operandi poisoning or suspected poisoning. So, in this case, what needs to happen now?
SEELY: We should not be jumping to conclusions and you know, if the Russians are involved, not sending a few officials to the World Cup,
frankly, this is nonsense. I think what we need to do is understand what the Russians are doing. They are trying to undermine the NATO alliance.
They are trying to test our values. They are trying to test and undermine our institutions and our confidence in our liberal value system. It's the
same with the United States over the presidential election and maybe the same here.
They've been pushing. The Russians were very active in the information warfare in the Catalonia referendum and they've been very active in the
Italian elections as well. So, there is a pattern here and the pattern of aggressive Russian involvement across Europe and America in our elections
and in our democratic processes.
So, we have to understand and then we have to work out how to act but reaching for some knee-jerk reaction to satisfy the media is not a good
answer right now.
GORANI: OK. Well, let me tell you what the --- I'm sure you've seen this -- the Russian embassy has reacted to what the foreign secretary, Boris
Johnson, had to say who essentially in Parliament today said if the state entity of foreign powers behind it that we would react robustly.
The foreign secretary spoke in such a manner that the investigation was already over, and Russia was found responsible for what had happened in
Salisbury. Looks like the script of yet another anti-Russian campaign has already been written. This is coming from the Russian Embassy in the U.K.
How do you react to that?
SEELY: The Russian embassy doubles up as the largest troll farm in Western Europe and the problem is when the Russians (inaudible) trying to conduct
cyber warfare, they are playing the victims. It is not a great mix.
GORANI: So, again, I ask you if it is indeed proven that the substance that critically sickened Sergei Skripal and his daughter was some sort of
poison and we are able in some way to link it to Moscow, you say not sending a few officials to the World Cup isn't enough then what would be
enough. What would be the right response?
SEELY: I don't know, and I don't want to come on some (inaudible) answer now. We have to understand what is happening and we have to find lots of
things. There are ways that we can have the Russians. We can invest more in Ukraine. (Inaudible) aid, different support for Ukraine so it looks
like a little Poland and not like a little Russia.
The stuff that we can do to hurt Russian oligarchs in the West. The United States came out with that potential sanctions list that list the rich
Russians, we could be doing the same. We could be putting in much tougher anticorruption Magnitsky laws, which the U.S. have and which the Canadians
Christopher (inaudible) Canada helped pioneer.
[15:10:09] So, there is a lot of things that we could be doing with the harder edge of soft power using the financial system to go after Russians
around things and to make it unpleasant for them.
GORANI: Happening yet though because, I mean, you have -- why but it is because you have, you know, intelligence professionals and experts and
officials who have said that Russian whether it's troll factories or other means have tried and sometimes successfully interfered in the democratic
process of western democracies and countries. So, why not?
SEELY: I do not know why the answer is and it pains me that we are not doing this. The Russians have been working out how to play us since
probably about 2000 --
GORANI: Are the Russians playing the U.K.?
SEELY: Yes. Well, look, what is the Russian come back for trying to rig the U.S. elections? What have you done about it? What's the Italians
doing the fact that the Russians were very active in the Italian elections? What have the Spanish done about the Russians fanning Catalonia? Nothing.
The fact is that the Russians are getting away with it and they are getting away with it in your country and they are getting away with it in our
country and they are getting away with it in France.
There were lending money to the French National Front. It seems to me that we are not really reacting. We have sanctions which the Russians are sort
of getting around just about asserting their economy, but then they get play the victims and they get to play the marchers.
GORANI: But if all this influence that you say they have is in fact disrupting so much of the democratic process and political life in western
democracies. It really means that with very little means this country is able to have a great kind of negative impact if what you are saying is all
SEELY: Well, I think the problem is I don't think we thought through our reactions because we thought this problem is not a permanent one and we
thought this program is going to go away. I think the U.S. has done the same thing. I think we are going to regret it.
So, we do need to take action, but it needs to be considered. It needs to be thoughtful and we need to look through a lot of potential options that
we have, but just withdrawing a few diplomats from the World Cup is not the answer.
GORANI: But the Russians are saying and heard there -- you're heard what they had to pay before about the U.S. 2016 election. Well, a few hundred
internet trolls are enough to, you know, sort of put even the smallest dent in a democracy, the size of the United States, then you know that that is
laughable in itself as an accusation.
SEELY: Well, you could ask if it is irrelevant, why do they do it? They obviously think it is very powerful tool. The Russians think this
information will (inaudible) very powerful tool. If you read Putin's articles that he's written from 2010 onwards, he thinks it is very
If you read the Russian chief of staff, (inaudible), he thinks it's very powerful. (Inaudible), he said the Arab Spring is -- this maybe the
welfare of the 21st Century, a non-military and nonlethal effects may be more powerful than military effects and much, much more usable.
The Russians think the stuff is dynamite. So, when the Russians say, you know, it is pretty harmless. What is the problem? That's not what they
GORANI: I still haven't gotten from you what an appropriate response would be?
SEELY: I do not know is the simple answer and I am not trying to say here's one, here's another, here is another. Probably toughening up
anticorruption laws. Toughening up the Magnitsky Law, seeing what we can do to help build the Baltic Republic states and Ukraine.
The point I am trying to make, Hala, is actually we should not -- we should not react in a knee-jerk way. We have to have a good hard look at this
situation because the Russians have spent years working out how to attack us and how to play open societies and use open societies to undermine open
And just a (inaudible) response is not the answer that we need. So, there's lots of potential things we could do in finance, supporting
Ukraine, supporting the Baltic Republic, sticking it to Russia more and the information will (inaudible), seizing assets.
There is lots of things that we could do, but just reaching for knee-jerk answer is not the answer. We need to think through this. We would
probably need to go and talk to the Americans. We need to talk to our Canadian friends. We need to talk to the Europeans as well. So, we need a
GORANI: The Americans are looking into it, and certainly with the Mueller investigation, we'll see where that -- what that reveals. Thanks very
much, Bob Seely, for joining us. Appreciate it.
Now to that stunning diplomatic breakthrough, North Korea says it's willing to talk about giving up its nuclear weapons. This is what we are hearing
from South Korea's national security chief. Here is he is, by the way, shaking hands with Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang.
This was an unprecedented meeting. Let me show a list of what North Korea has agreed to at least on paper. Both sides will now meet at a bigger
summit in April. There, South Korea's president and Kim are expected to meet in the DMZ that divides the two countries.
And in the meantime, a hotline will be setup, so they can talk directly. Will Ripley has reported extensively from North Korea. He's been there
more than a dozen times, and he joins me now live from Beijing.
[15:15:06] So, talk to us a little bit about the probability here. When North Korea says we are willing to talk about getting rid of our nuclear
weapons, what does that mean really, if we read between the lines?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I just spoke within the last hour, Hala, with an official with the knowledge of North Korea's
mindset here and basically what they will ask for in exchange for even considering denuclearization is something that the United States and South
Korea probably can't deliver.
Which is a dramatic reduction and eventual elimination of the U.S. military presence on the Korean Peninsula, which North Korea considers the threat
that justifies their development of nuclear weapons.
In the short-term, they would ask for a dramatic reduction in the size of the joint military exercises that they view as a dress rehearsal for an
invasion which has in the past been a nonstarter for the U.S. even though they did agree to postpone the joint drills until after the Olympics to
ensure that the games went off peacefully, which they did.
This is really a very strategic move by Kim Jong-un. He wants to remain in power for the long-term. He is facing a situation where sanctions are
getting increasingly crippling on his economy and you have President Trump saying that if diplomacy does not work, if North Korea does not agree to
denuclearize, then the United States would move to phase two.
This military option that a lot of analysts and certainly, the North Koreans now as well to potentially be catastrophic. So, by saying that
they are willing to talk about denuclearization that buys North Korea time.
And they have frozen there nuclear and missile test since last November. They have not conducted any provocative activities this year yet, but they
haven't had to give up anything and in fact, intelligence indicates analyzed by 38 North, the North Korea watchdog group, that they are still
producing plutonium at the (inaudible) nuclear facility to mass-produce nuclear weapons, which is something that Kim Jong-un said that he was going
to do along with improving ties with South Korea.
So, look, this as a diplomatic dance. Kim Jong-un is now in the game. He is going to have a presidential summit making history, going to the DMZ for
the first time as a premier of North Korea meeting with the South Korean president on the demilitarized zone.
But at the end of the day, the two sides really couldn't be farther apart on this nuclear issue from what North Korea wants and what the United
States and South Korea would actually be able to deliver.
GORANI: Great. But, you know, I spoke to some experts before the Winter Olympics and they said typically North Korea, there are gestures of good
faith from their side. For instance, they had that joint team at the Olympics and it was all looking more positive, but usually after the
Olympics end, they end up doing something provocative like a missile test. It did not happen. In fact, the opposite happened with that visit to
Pyongyang. Why do you think that is the case?
RIPLEY: Well, Kim Jong-un could push the button on missile launch tomorrow. I mean, he has missiles that are ready to launch --
GORANI: But he hasn't done it is my point. He hasn't done it.
RIPLEY: Yes. Well, because of the response that it could provoke from the United States. I mean, President Trump has almost made it clear that the
U.S. is looking for a reason to push North Korea even harder than they already are.
So, this is very -- this is all very strategic. This is about Kim Jong-un ensuring his long-term survival as the ruler of that country. So, he is
going to do what he needs to do in the short-term and long-term.
And he is thinking about what is going to happen after President Trump has long gone, after President Moon has long gone. He still wants to be the
one in power, North Korea. This is a strategy right now, but who is to say will happen when new administrations takeover and they have different North
Korea policies then --
GORANI: Right. But I mean, those who are --
RIPLEY: -- basic to all these nuclear capabilities.
GORANI: Those who are excited about the prospect of North Korea giving up its nuclear weapons, how realistic is that?
RIPLEY: It's not realistic. I've travelled to Pyongyang many times. You go around the city, the propaganda about the nuclear force is everywhere.
Kim Jong-un has built up his image as the leader, who developed this nuclear sword as North Koreans call it.
They have it written in their Constitution since 2013 that North Korea is going to be a nuclear power. It almost gives him legitimacy in the eyes of
his people that he is -- that he has built up this nuclear force.
You think he's just going to easily walk away from that. He's going to want something in exchange for what he would want, which is a goal also
shared by China and Russia is for the U.S. military to get out of the region, and frankly, unless there is a major shift in U.S. policy that's
just does not going to happen.
GORANI: All right. Thanks very much. Will Ripley live in Beijing where it's -- what time is it there for you, Will, 4:19 AM. Thanks.
RIPLEY: It's 4:19.
GORANI: All right, have a good night. It looks like you're awake for it though.
Still to come, can there be a safe exit out in a hell on earth. Russia is promising safe passage even as bombs still falls on Eastern Ghouta. We'll
have the latest on Syria.
And she says she has proof of Russian interference in American elections. The young woman behind bars is demanding something in return before she
will hand it over. We'll be right back.
GORANI: Israel's prime minister says darkness is descending on the Middle East in the form of Iran, it's the familiar refrain from Netanyahu. He
warned the pro-Israel group in Washington today that Tehran is working to expand its influence. He says the U.S. is set to walk away from the Iran
nuclear deal and to restore sanctions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: President Trump has made it clear that his administration will not accept Iran's aggression in the
region. He has made clear that he too will never accept a nuclear armed Iran that is the right policy. I salute President Trump on this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Netanyahu also praise the U.S. president for recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The trip is giving the prime minister break from
his troubles at home and there are many problems for him. There are multiple corruption cases targeting him or his inner circle.
We are now hearing that 39 people have died after a Russian transport plane crashed in Syria. Russia's Defense Ministry updated the death toll from
36. The aircraft crashed on landing in an airbase in Latakia Province and the crash may have been caused by technical fault. The Defense Ministry is
saying the plane was an Antonov-26, just like the one seen here.
And staying in Syria now in a promise of escape out of a place dubbed hell on earth, the Russian military has offered safe passage to rebels and their
families out of Eastern Ghouta.
At least one of the two main rebel groups have rejected the offer. It's not hard to imagine why. On Monday, an aid convoy, the first able to enter
the area since the offensive began had to pull out under fire from heavy shelling. Nine of the 46 aid trucks left full.
By the way, I want to bring you an interview from someone who's become a quite well-known child survivor of the war. You may remember her name, her
name Bana al-Abed. She's 8. She is a refugee who escaped Aleppo.
Well, she ended up at the Oscars on Sunday appearing in a politically charged musical performance during the awards. She spoke to CNN's Aisha
Sesay about the horrors of the fighting in Aleppo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BANA AL-ABED, SYRIAN CITIZEN OF ALEPPO: It is hard to live in a war and how it is difficult because there is no water or food and always bombing,
bombing, bombing. You can't sleep. Sometimes your house -- your housed bombed and sometimes people hurt. There is no medicine. The bombs bombed
it, the hospitals.
ISHA SESAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: It's terrifying. It's really scary. It must have been really, really scary for you and your family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[15:25:07] GORANI: There you have it. You might remember Bana, she was tweeting from Aleppo and her mother was also part of that effort to get the
message out, and she ended up there at the Oscars speaking to CNN.
Now to a twist in the Russia investigation in America that virtually no one saw coming, the self-described seductress who is currently behind bars says
she has proof of Russian interference in U.S. elections. But she wants something in return before she will hand it over.
CNN's Ivan Watson visited her in a Bangkok jail.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She describes herself as a seductress, a relentlessly self-promoting 21-year-
old named Anastasia Vashukevich, with the social media stage name, Nastya Rybka. This Belarus-born woman claims to have evidence of Russian meddling
in the U.S. election.
The question, is this a desperate ploy to get out of jail or as her friend claims, is this young woman truly endanger because she knows too much?
MARIA SKULBEDA, FRIEND OF NASTYA RYBKA: First, they are in danger. Second, they have been (inaudible) and third, we are afraid of their lives,
really afraid of their lives. We don't know what's going to happen.
WATSON: For days, Vashukevich and several Russian friends have been held at this jail in the capital of Thailand where visitors were not allowed to
(on camera): I just came out of this detention center where I spoke with Anastasia Vashukevich. It was loud and hot and chaotic and talking through
the bars, she says that she witnessed meetings between the Russian billionaire, Oleg Deripaska, and at least three Americans, who she refused
to name. She claims they've discussed plans to affect the U.S. elections, but she would not give any further information because she fears she could
be deported back to Russia.
(voice-over): Her claims might not hold much water if it was not for this, photos published on her Instagram account of Vashukevich alongside Russian
billionaire, Oleg Deripaska. Deripaska, a one-time business partner of former Trump campaign manager, Paul Manafort.
He's pleaded not guilty to charges related to money laundering and other alleged crimes discovered during the investigation into Russian meddling.
Vashukevich's post showed Deripaska onboard his private yacht meeting Russia's deputy prime minister, Sergei Prikhodko.
Two powerful Russian men overheard in one video discussing U.S./Russian relations. Vashukevich wrote about the meeting using altered names in this
book. Deripaska denies meddling in the U.S. election and says Vashukevich was never his mistress.
A spokesman writing, this is clearly an attempt by Anastasia Vashukevich to politicize the accusations of the Thai police, and here is where the story
gets really weird, last month, Vashukevich was in Thailand with a Russian sex coach named Alexander Kirillov, running a weeklong sex training course
that teaches among other things sex for dating.
On the last day, Thai police burst into the hotel arresting Vashukevich, Kirillov and eight others for working without a permit. Ukrainian-American
Pablo Yunko (ph) traveled from New York to attend the course.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) group time.
WATSON (on camera): And then the police showed up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the police showed up.
WATSON (voice-over): In the days that followed, Yunko says he hand- delivered this letter from the sex teacher to the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok requesting asylum in exchange for recordings Vashukevich says she made of
alleged Russian government crimes.
An embassy spokesperson says since Vashukevich is not a U.S. citizen, this is a matter for the Thai authorities. Supporters now deliver food to their
friends in jail where Vashukevich offers to help U.S. investigators have apparently gone unheard.
The jailed seductress and the sex teacher recognize soon they may be reported back to mother Russia. Ivan Watson, CNN, Bangkok.
GORANI: Strange story. Still to come, tonight, pick your adjective because we've almost run out of words to describe an absolutely bizarre
series of interviews by a former Trump campaign aide and now yet, another twist in the story. We'll you bring you that after the break.
[15:30:12] HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: As I mentioned at the top of the house, Donald Trump is hosting Sweden's Prime Minister at the
White House today, Stefan Lofven and we're expecting them to speak to reporters any minute now. It's scheduled for 3:30 Eastern, which is two
minutes ago. But as you can see there they haven't entered the East Room yet. They will also take questions, giving Mr. Trump an opportunity to
weigh in on a number of controversies that might be mentioned like reports of chaos and low morale in the West Wing. We'll see its features as to
call on only sympathetic media outlets like he did last time. There have been, as we've been reporting on CNN, reports of chaos in the White House,
but President Trump called those reports fake news, saying there's no chaos. Only, "great energy in his administration."
While Mr. Trump projects an air of normal see at the White House, there was nothing normal at all about a bizarre media blitz by one of his former
campaign aide. Sam Nunberg gave a series of interviews vowing to defy Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the Russia investigation. Today, he's
taking it all back. He now says he will hand over e-mails and appear before grand jury as required by subpoena, and that is quite a change from
what we heard from him 24 hours ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAM NUNBERG, FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP CAMPAIGN AIDE (via telephone): They want me over -- they want me over at the grand jury. Screw that. Why do I
have to go? Why? For what? Should cooperate with -- should I spend maybe hours all over my e-mails checked?
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: If it were me, I would.
NUNBERG: I'm not going to get sent to prison. Do you think somebody gets to the prison?
They know something on him. And, Jake, I don't know what it is.
TAPPER: They know something on him.
NUNBERG: But perhaps I'm wrong. But he did something. Granting Donald Trump causes because he's an idiot.
Mueller thinks that Trump is a Manchurian candidate.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He thinks -- I'm sorry, he thinks he's what?
NUNBERG: He thinks Trump is the Manchurian candidate. And I would tell you, I disagree with that.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Talking to you, I have smelled alcohol in your breath.
NUNBERG: Well, I have not had a drink.
BURNETT: You have not had a drink. So that's not --
BURNETT: So I just -- because it is the talk out there. Again, I know it's awkward. Let me just get you the question --
NUNBERG: My answer is. No, I have not.
BURNETT: Anything else?
NUNBERG: No. Besides my meds.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: So many eyebrow raising remarks. It's easy to get caught up in the drama but Nunberg's rants could have given some very real hints about
the investigation and what Mueller maybe trying to prove.
Let's bring in White House reporter, Stephen Collinson and CNN political analyst, Josh Rogin.
Before we get to what the president might be -- might answer or not, as the case maybe in that joint presser with the Swedish prime minister. Sam
Nunberg, Josh, what should we make of these bizarre interviews?
[15:35:07] JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, clearly Sam Nunberg is going to have to comply with Robert Mueller's subpoenas in testifying.
That's the nature of law enforcement. If he really wants to go in the prison, I guess he can do that. It's been tried before. But it seemed
that he took him a full day to realize that. And while he was realizing that, he engage in what has to be the most unadvisable legal strategy ever
which is to talk on national television about the details of your case and insult the special counsel and the president in the process.
So Sam Nunberg is just a whacky kind of a guy and this kind of fits with what we know about his personality. Now, what's important about what he
says, I think, first and foremost, is that it reveals what Mueller is really doing right now and that is focusing on the original Sam, the
original crime, the hacking of the e-mails of Podesta, the DNC, it's leaking to WikiLeaks. The intelligence community that believes that was an
operation coordinated by Russian intelligence and WikiLeaks, and Roger Stone has a bunch of ties both directed and director of WikiLeaks that we
already know about. That's what they're interested in right now. Sam Nunberg's e-mails could shed light on that. That's a key part of the
GORANI: And I guess the question every time one of these developments occurs, Stephen Collinson, is whether or not this will affect the president
STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. So far, the president hasn't directly responded to this, depending on who is asking the questions. In
the news conference, he could get a question. I think he's likely to say, well, Nunberg only served in my campaign team for six weeks. He doesn't
know anything. He wasn't a significant player. That's basically those the standard playbook. The White House and the former campaign people use when
they talk about this.
I think Josh is right though. It does give us a few pointers about where this is heading. Nunberg provided his subpoena that he got from Mueller.
And on that subpoena with the names of 10 senior Trump campaign officials, and Mueller wants every single communication to Nunberg had with those
officials. And presumably, it's not just Nunberg that's getting those kind of subpoenas, it's everybody else. So you can see that he's trying to
build up a picture of what exactly was going on in the Trump campaign from November 2015 onwards. So, if there was something going on, it's a pretty
good sort of bet that Mueller is going to find out about it.
GORANI: By the way, these are live images coming to us from the East Room. And if I could just look at the monitor here to my left. We're seeing Rex
Tillerson there walking. And any minute now, members of the Swedish delegation as well. They will be taking their seats and we'll be hearing
from the Swedish prime minister, as well as Donald Trump.
And, Josh Rogin, it will depend entirely, I guess, on who the president decides to take questions from today whether or not he will answer some of
these questions that people have about whether or not there is chaos in the White House, whether there will be future firings or departures.
ROGIN: Right. I mean, the president, if he gets this question, I think he's prepared for it. He talks about this all the time. His contention is
there is no chaos. His contention is --
GORANI: All right, Josh, they've just sit out. We'll get back to you right after we hear from the two leaders.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- to be joined by Prime Minister Lofven of Sweden and our first meeting in the White House. Sweden
is one of our oldest and closest partners, and was among the first European nations to offer the United States -- treaty of friendship -- a treaty
signed, believe it or not, in 1783. That's a long time ago.
My daughter, Ivanka, had a wonderful time watching American and Swedish athletes compete in the recent Men's Curling Final at the Olympics.
That was something, huh? That was a little upset. That wasn't expected, but that's OK. We'll take it. Right? All of the athletes should be
immensely proud of the great job they did.
The Prime Minister and I have just concluded a series of very productive meetings. The relationship between the United States and Sweden is one
based on shared values, including respect for individual rights, the rule of law, and human dignity. These common principles are the foundation of
our partnership. And we have had a great partnership for many years.
We look forward to exploring further opportunities to increase our security and our cooperation in every other way. And we encourage nations around
the world to share responsibility for our common defense.
We appreciate Sweden's leadership on the United Nations Security Council, and look very much forward to working together in the coming months.
The United States is also grateful to Sweden for advocating for Americans detained in North Korea. I particularly want to thank the Swedish
government for its assistance in securing the release of American college student Otto Warmbier last year. Terrible, tragic event. We continue to
pray for Otto's parents, Fred and Cindy -- two terrific people - over the tragic death of their son. And we remain determined to achieve a
denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. And there's been a lot of news on that today. Hopefully, it's positive. Hopefully, it will lead to a
very positive result.
[15:40:34] In economic matters, we are striving for a relationship grounded in fairness and reciprocity. The United States is one of the largest
investors in Sweden, and the Swedish investments in the United States support over 200,000 American jobs.
Earlier this afternoon, I heard from several Swedish business executives -- some of the greatest in the world. Where are you, folks? Please. Some of
the great executives in the world. People I've known for a long time and certainly know of. And they're investing tremendous amounts of money in
the United States and supporting, also, vocational training for American workers. We are grateful for those investments, and we are committed to
working with Sweden to pursue even greater economic cooperation.
We're also continuing to pursue bilateral agreements to advance mutual prosperity. I'm pleased that Sweden intends to procure the patriot air and
missile defense system, finest in the world, in a deal worth over $3 billion. This system will increase stability and security in the Baltic
A strong and balanced economic relationship strengthens security and prosperity in both of our countries. And this is just the beginning. We
have a lot of things that we're working on. And we're working on them, really, very hard.
Mr. Prime Minister, I want to thank you again for joining us. And I want to thank your great staff, who we've met with, and your great business
leaders. It was a very interesting and productive meeting.
The longstanding friendship between our people, anchored in our shared beliefs and values, has greatly enriched both of our countries. And this
is just the beginning. Our relationship has never been better. An honor to have you here. Thank you. Thank you very much.
PRIME MINISTER LOFVEN: Thank you, Mr. President, for a warm and generous welcome. It is a true pleasure to be here at the White House.
This year, Sweden and the United States celebrate 200 years of diplomatic relations, and this meeting reaffirms the strength of our relations.
The history has shown that our two nations share fundamental values and interests, such as democracy and human rights. We also share a strong
partnership that continues to evolve.
Today, we have discussed how to further strengthen our country's prosperity and security. As for prosperity, Sweden is one of the largest per capita
investors in the United States, and my country may not be big, but we support, directly and indirectly, almost one million jobs in the United
States. And some key executives of the companies that provide these jobs are also here with me at this visit.
At the same time, the United States is our most important foreign employer, and many U.S. companies play a vital role in providing investment and
creating jobs in Sweden. President Trump and I have discussed how our nations can support jobs and growth. It's a crucial issue.
For Sweden, that means embracing new sustainable technologies which permit our economy to grow, but at the same time reducing emissions, and also how
we can secure good jobs in a labor market constantly changing due to automation and digitalization.
Sweden and the United States are two of the most innovative economies in the world, and we see great opportunities ahead. Swedish prosperity is
built on cooperation, competitiveness, and free trade, and I am convinced that increased tariffs will hurt us all in the long run. And as a Swede,
I, of course, support the efforts of the European Union to achieve trade with fewer obstacles and as few as possible.
Turning to security, the President and I have discussed some key regional and global security challenges, such as the situation on the Korean
Peninsula, but also the developments in Sweden's neighborhood.
[15:45:59] We have also addressed the constructive cooperation between Sweden and the United States in the United Nations Security Council.
I would like to underline that the transatlantic link is strong, and it remains crucial to responding to global security challenges. Sweden is a
military non-aligned country, but we build security in partnership with others, and we greatly value our broad security and defense cooperation
with the United States.
One important example of that is our joint efforts to fight and combat terrorism. Sweden and the United States stand shoulder to shoulder in the
global coalition against ISIS and also in the resolute support mission in Afghanistan. And these vital military efforts must go hand in hand with
strong political, diplomatic, and also civilian support to create sustainable results.
So, in conclusion, as we celebrate 200 years of diplomatic relations, we're also planning for shared prosperity and security for many, many years to
come. And once again, I thank you, Mr. President, for a constructive and successful meeting, and for the very warm welcome that both my delegation
and I received. Thank you so much.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much. Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. President.
You spoke about North Korea in the Oval Office, so I'd like to turn to trade, if I could. My understanding is that the Prime Minister came to you
with a message from the European Union Commission President saying, if you put tariffs on steel and aluminum, we'll slap you back with punitive
tariffs on bourbon and jeans and the motorcycles that you talk about from Wisconsin. Are you still planning on going ahead with these tariffs?
There are some people in your party who have suggested it's not a good idea.
And, Prime Minister Lofven, what's your perspective on tariffs? And what message did you convey to the President from Sweden and from the European
Union? Thank you.
TRUMP: Well, the United States has been taken advantage of by other countries, both friendly and not so friendly, for many, many decades. And
we have a trade deficit of $800 billion a year, and that's not going to happen with me. We have been mistreated by many, sometimes fairly, but
there are, really, very few instances where that's taken place.
And I don't blame the countries. I blame our leadership for allowing it to happen. When I was with President Xi in China, as an example, we lose $500
billion a year on trade. We have a deficit of approximately $500 billion a year with China. And we're doing things with China which are very strong,
but they understand it. But I was with him and I said to him in public, I said, "Look, I'm not blaming you. I blame our people for not doing a
better job, for allowing this to happen."
But it's like that with many countries, other than small -- the European Union has been particularly tough on the United States. They make it
almost impossible for us to do business with them, and yet they send their cars and everything else back into the United States. And they can do
whatever they'd like, but if they do that, then we put a big tax of 25 percent on their cars. And believe me, they won't be doing it very long.
The European Union has not treated us well, and it's been a very, very unfair trade situation.
I'm here to protect. And one of the reasons I was elected is I'm protecting our workers, I'm protecting our companies. And I'm not going to
let that happen.
So we're doing tariffs on steel. We cannot lose our steel industry. It's a fraction of what it once was. And we can't lose our aluminum industry.
Also a fraction of what it once was.
And our country is doing well. The massive tax cuts and all of the deregulation has really kicked us into gear. But I have to work on trade
deals. We're working on NAFTA right now. And if we're able to make a deal with Canada and Mexico in NAFTA, then there will be no reason to do the
tariffs with Canada and Mexico.
But again, other countries we won't have that choice, unless they can do something for us. As an example, if the European Union takes off some of
the horrible barriers that make it impossible for our product to go into there, then we can start talking. Otherwise, we're going to leave it the
way it is.
So the fact is we've been mistreated as a country for many years, and it's just not going to happen any longer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you avoid this escalating -- how do you avoid this escalating into a trade war?
TRUMP: Well, we'll have to see. You know, when we're behind on every single country, trade wars aren't so bad. You understand what I mean by
that? When we're down by $30 billion, $40 billion, $60 billion, $100 billion, the trade war hurts them, it doesn't hurt us. So we'll see what
[15:50:16] You know, you can also take it - in some cases, we lose on trade, plus we give them military where we're subsidizing them
tremendously. So not only do we lose on trade, we lose on military. And hence we have these massive deficit numbers in our country. We're going to
straighten it out. And we'll do it in a very loving way. It will be a loving, loving way. They'll like us better and they will respect us much
more. Because even they say, right now, they say, "We can't believe we've gotten away." I mean, two countries have said, "We cannot believe, to be
honest with you, we've gotten away with this so long." Now, one of them made that statement before I got elected. He said, "I can't believe I made
that statement before I got elected." But it's one of those things.
We have to straighten it out. We really have no choice.
Unidentified male: And, Mr. Prime Minister, how forceful was your message to the President on what the consequences will be if he goes ahead with
LOFVEN: First, trade is a European Union mandate, so we're a member of the European Union. It's a European mandate to handle the trade issues. But
as a member of the European Union, I think it's important for us to try to find a way to cooperate between the European Union and the United States.
I fully understand and respect the President's view that they have to look after his own country - the country that you're leading. I under that
fully. That's my primary task, as well.
But for me, leading a small country, depending on open trade, the best way for us is to do that with others, because our export equals to 50 percent
of our GDP. So for us, it is crucially important that we have this open and free trade.
Today, also, I believe that the supply chains are very, very complicated to see. I know that, for example, when we sell our fighter aircraft, which is
a very good aircraft, the content is perhaps 50 percent American. So we want this to be resolved in cooperation. And when it comes to steel, yes,
we have an overcapacity in the world. That's obvious. But at the same time, it is China that is producing about 50 percent of the steel in the
world, and European Union perhaps 10 percent and less than that.
So, to summarize, I think it was a pity. Again, it's a European Union mandate. But it was a pity, also, that the TTIP negotiations ended,
because perhaps with negotiations and talks, we can come into a situation where the European Union and the United States can cooperate. I think that
will be a very good solution.
TRUMP: Just to add maybe a little bit further. If you talk China, I've watched where the reporters have been writing, two percent of our steel
comes from China. Well, that's not right. They transship all through other countries. And you'll see that a country that doesn't even have a
steel mill is sending us three percent steel for our country. And many countries are doing it, but it comes from China.
So China doesn't send us two percent, they send us a much, much higher level than that. But it's called transshipping. So it doesn't look good
when it all comes out of China, so they send it through other countries, and it comes to us. And it's putting our steel mills out of business. Our
aluminum mills are going out of business. And we need steel and we need aluminum.
And you know there's a theory that if a country doesn't have steel, it doesn't have a country. And it's true. So this is more than just pure
economics. This is about defense. This is about the country itself.
But again, remember this. We lose $800 billion a year in trade. And I think I was elected, at least partially, on this issue. And I've been
saying it for 25 years, our country has been taken advantage of by everybody. By everybody. Almost everybody. And we cannot let that happen
any longer, not for our companies and not, most importantly, for our workers. So we're not going to let it happen.
LOFVEN: OK. Tina, TT News Agency.
[15:55:02] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, Mr. President, thank you for hosting us. You mentioned that Sweden has helped the United States with North
Korea. How do you see your collaboration in the future to create a future of a peaceful Korean Peninsula? How do you see Sweden's role there? How
do you both view the collaboration?
And as a follow-up to that, if I may. Mr. President, I know that you follow the development in Sweden closely, especially when it comes to
immigration politics. Now that you've spent some time with our Prime Minister, how do you view Sweden in general? What is your take? And also,
on our immigration politics? Thank you.
TRUMP: I think you have a wonderful Prime Minister, I have to say. We've gotten to know each other. Certainly, you have a problem with the
immigration. It's caused problems in Sweden. I was one of the first ones to say it. I took a little heat, but that was OK because I proved to be
right. But you do have a problem, and I know the problem will slowly disappear -- hopefully, rapidly disappear.
But as far as our relationship with Sweden, it's going to be only stronger, only better, both in a military sense and a trading sense, and economic
sense. You know, Sweden is a, I think, the largest -- the eighth largest investor in the United States. And they like me very much because the
market is up almost 40 percent since Election Day. So I've made a lot of these business geniuses look even better. So they like Trump. But, you
know, it's been up very substantially.
But I believe Sweden is about the eighth largest investor in the United States, and that's quite an achievement.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about the collaboration on North Korea?
TRUMP: We've been working on North Korea. Sweden has somewhat of a relationship with North Korea. We've been working with North Korea. As I
said, Otto was really brought home, unfortunately in very poor condition, but Otto was brought home largely with the help of Sweden. They're
terrific -- terrific people. People from Sweden, the Swedish people, are fantastic people. I have many friends in New York and Washington from
Sweden, and they are fantastic people.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And, Mr. Prime Minister, how do you view Sweden and North Korea and the U.S.?
LOFVEN: We have to find a dialogue. I know it's not easy, but that's the way it has to be. It's a very dangerous situation, and we need all to be
very concerned about the development of nuclear weapons.
But we must look at the Peninsula, the region, the world, and this has to do with world peace or something else. So the key actors is obviously the
two countries, South and North Korea, as well as the United States and other big countries. They're the key actors.
We've said that we can provide -- we can be a channel or do whatever we can to see that the dialogue is smooth. Not being naive. It's not up to us to
solve this problem, but we can definitely, with our long presence on the Peninsula -- both in South and North. We have an embassy in Pyongyang, for
example. We've had that since 1973.
So with that relation with North Korea, I believe that they trust us. We are a non-aligning country, and -- on military, non-aligning country. And
I think if we can -- if the President decides, the key actors decide if they want us to help out, we'll be there.
TRUMP: They really have been terrific. Really terrific.
Saagar Enjeti, Daily Caller. Please, Saagar.
SAAGAR ENJETI, JOURNALIST, DAILY CALLER: Thank you, Mr. President. Since it's my first time before you, I thought you might indulge me with two
questions. First, sir, do you believe that North Korea's recent willingness to talk is sincere? Or is it an effort to buy time for their
nuclear program? And to what do you owe this recent openness to talk?
TRUMP: Me. No, I think that --
Nobody got that. I think that they are sincere, but I think they're sincere also because the sanctions and what we're doing with respect to
North Korea, including, you know, the great help that we've been given from China. And they can do more, but I think they've done more than,
certainly, they've ever done for our country before. So China has been a big help. I think that's been a factor.
But the sanctions have been very, very strong and very biting. And we don't want that to happen. So I really believe they are sincere. I hope
they're sincere. We're going to soon find out.
ENJETI: Sir, you tweeted today that you would like to see some change in the people around you. Does that include your Attorney General, Jeff
Sessions, or either of your Cabinet secretaries?
[16:00:58] TRUMP: No, I don't really talk about that. I just said that the White House has tremendous energy. It has tremendous spirit. It is a
great place to be working.