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Iran Condemns Israel for Syria Strikes Amid Anti-American Protests; U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem Set Open Monday; Interview with Israel's U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon; AT&T & Novartis: "We made a mistake" Hiring Michael Cohen; Anthony Bourdain Visits Newfoundland. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired May 11, 2018 - 11:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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[11:32:29] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, Iran is condemning Israel's military strikes in Syria, but not acknowledging that it was in retaliation for what Israel says were rockets fired at the Golan Heights from the Iranian military in Syria. Israeli government claims it destroyed nearly all of Iran's military capabilities in Syria in that strike. Happening today, though, anti- American protests flare up in Tehran after President Trump pulled the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal.

CNN's Frederik Pleitgen is live in Tehran with much more on this.

Fred, what have you been seeing there?

FREDERICK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kate. I was at the protests and they were pretty big. Even compared to what you would normally see on a Friday here in Tehran. This is usually an event for hard-liners, for religious conservatives. And especially today, there were people burning American flags, stepping on American flags, and also had some pretty strong language for President Trump. Here is what some people said to us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have came here to say to all of the people of the world and to Mr. Trump that we stand against Mr. Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We -- I want to say to American people that we are very sorry that they have -- that they have elected such a president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translation): I hope we become so strong that nobody can threaten us and that my country will not fear anything or anyone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a message to Mr. Trump, you cannot destroy people of Iran.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PLEITGEN: So, the message obviously very clear from these people, no matter how much pressure the U.S. puts on Iran, they say they're not going to back down.

Of course, it was those two events that happened this week, they had people so angry. On the one hand, the U.S. pulling out of the nuclear agreement and those skirmishes that took place there in the Golan Heights, the Iranians don't acknowledge they were part of it. It was interesting because a senior cleric there at the Friday prayers said Iran doesn't want a nuclear weapon, but they do say they want to continue their ballistic missile program -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Fred Pleitgen, in Tehran. Fred, thank you very much. Really appreciate it.

Joining me now is Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon.

Ambassador, thank you so much for coming in.

DANNY DANON, ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: Good morning, Kate.

BOLDUAN: A critical moment for us having this discussion. When it comes to what has played out this week, they hit you, you hit back, so now what is next?

DANON: For about a year, I warned the Security Council at the U.N. about Iranian progress in Syria, and why they're bringing so many militants, and we understood why. They want to threaten Israel. They sent 20 rockets, the Quds force of Iran, into Israel, we retaliated. We do not see escalation. Do we not allow them to send any rockets into Israel and not allow them to build bases? They want to do exactly what they did in Lebanon, they want to do in Syria, to take over in Syria completely.

[11:35:16] BOLDUAN: But what now? Do you wait or more action is required?

DANON: We don't want to see escalation. At the same time, we cannot allow them to continue to build the bases. We saw what happened in February when they sent a drone into Israel with explosives. So I ask myself, why? Why 82,000 militants being paid by Iran? Why do they send so much money into Syria? ISIS has been defeated. I think the international community should demand from Syria to send the Iranians back home. They have not seen else to do today unless they want to instigate, threaten Israel again.

BOLDUAN: When Benjamin Netanyahu said just yesterday that Iran crossed a red line, those words, no one can take lightly. He never says those -- he never says something like that just flippantly. What is he threatening?

DANON: We have great intelligence. Prime Minister Netanyahu exposed the atomic archive over Iran a few weeks ago. When we saw rockets aimed at Israel, we took action. We will continue to do that in the future. When you speak about red line, when you know that somebody is sending a rocket into your territory, you take preemptive attacks.

BOLDUAN: Ambassador, at this moment, would you say that Israel is at war with Iran?

DANON: No. We are not at war with Iran. What we do see, we see Iranians trying to send their proxies in order to fight with Israel. They're doing it with the Saudis, sending rockets from Yemen, doing it with Hezbollah in Lebanon. And they're trying to open another front on the Golan with Syria. We will not allow them to open another front.

BOLDUAN: The tension between Israel and Iran, that is not a new chapter at this moment. Do you think, with what we're seeing now, do you think that the rocket attack from Iranian military is in any way a result of the United States, President Trump pulling the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal?

DANON: Not at all. We have no border with Iran. We have no military dispute with Iran. Still, we feel the pictures coming from Tehran and for years inciting against Israel the ballistic missile tests. They write on the missiles, "We should destroy Israel."

BOLDUAN: Then why now? Tell me.

DANON: We know that -- about the intentions. Every time they try to move forward, to bring another rocket to the region, to bring more technology, and we put those red lines. I think we try to do it again and will be there to stop them, but we have no reason to think about escalation, unless the Iranians would try to test us again.

BOLDUAN: The U.S. embassy in Jerusalem is set to open on Monday. The president is sending a contingent of high-level officials over there, also going to be speaking via video. Do you think the president should be there? This is something the United States promised for decades. And it is happening now. Finally now, for Israel.

DANON: First of all, we are grateful. We are grateful for the bold decision of President Trump to finally -- we heard from many candidates that promised they would move the embassy --

BOLDUAN: Should he be there for this moment?

DANON: He came to Israel. I think he came and we appreciate that. There is a large delegation coming to Israel. Secretary Mnuchin, Ivanka, Jared will be there also. We appreciate that. And I think we'll see other countries follow the U.S. The president of Guatemala come will come on the 16th. We believe other leaders will follow the U.S.

BOLDUAN: Do you think it is a slight he's only speaking via video, he's not showing up?

DANON: No, I think it came a few months ago. He stood by Israel. Also today, we saw about Iran. The president is a friend of Israel.

BOLDUAN: Ambassador, thank you for coming in. It's always great to see you.

DANON: Thank you very much. BOLDUAN: Appreciate it. We'll speak to you, I'm sure, very soon.

Coming up right now, we made a mistake. That is what AT&T and Novartis are saying about hiring Michael Cohen for his consulting work. What does it mean for Michael Cohen and will it do anything to drain the swamp that is Washington? We'll be right back.

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[11:43:25] BOLDUAN: A mea culpa, not something you hear very often in the world of politics. That's what two companies are saying, now about their contracts with Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen in the aftermath of the 2016 election. The CEOs of both AT&T and Novartis calling their decision to pay Cohen a mistake.

Joining me now, CNN national political reporter, M.J. Lee, with much more on this.

M.J., what are the companies saying?

M.J. LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: We're seeing some serious buyer's remorse. This week, we learned about Michael Cohen going around town promising access to the White House and saying to these companies, you know, I can help you understand the new president, and then he landed lucrative consulting deals with some big companies. And two of them have now put out statements saying they apologize and calling this a mistake.

This is what AT&T's CEO said in a letter to employees. He said, "There is no other way to say it, AT&T hiring Michael Cohen as a political consultant was a big mistake. To be clear, everything we did was done according to the law and entirely legitimate, but the fact is our past association with Cohen was a serious misjudgment."

Now, a part of the fallout is that we now know Bob Quinn, one of the D.C. executives at AT&T, he is now resigning. I think reading between the lines you can tell he was probably one of the fall guys for this. We also know that it was Michael Cohen that approached AT&T and asked for this consulting deal, and that he was paid some $600,000. And this is a contract that ended in December of 2017.

Now, a second company that is addressing all of this is Novartis, the pharmaceutical company. This is what that company's CEO said: "We made a mistake in entering into this engagement and, as a consequence, our being criticized by a world that expects more from us."

Now, this is a company, as you might remember, that initially had a meeting with Michael Cohen and decided actually Michael Cohen can't help us that much on health care policy, but then they decided to start -- you know, finish out the contract and pay him anyway, a total of $1.2 million.

This is the ugly underbelly of how access is bought in Washington.

[11:45:26] BOLDUAN: Yes. I don't care how big your company is, that's an expensive mistake, if you will. LEE: Yes.

BOLDUAN: M.J., great to see you. Thanks so much.

It is reality in Washington. No matter how you cut it.

Coming up for us, Meghan McCain responds to a White House staffer's cruel joke about her father, Senator John McCain. Why she says, don't feel bad for me and my family. Be right back.

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BOLDUAN: When this week's "CNN Hero" saw children begging in the streets of Vietnam, he knew he had to do something. Leaving his home in New York, he now works year-round in Vietnam to give young people the skills to help them rise out of poverty. Watch this.

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UNIDENTIFIED CNN HERO: The young people in our program come from a whole country with all kinds of very, very difficult pasts. We have kids with HIV background, kids from leprosy villages. Some have already been trafficked, sometimes more than once.

You'll do great.

(LAUGHTER)

Within a couple years, no matter how difficult or how painful, how tortured their life may have been, with 100 percent assurance, I know that young person will be starting a career with all kinds of possibilities.

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[11:49:04] BOLDUAN: To see more about this program, how it's changing lives for the better, and to nominate someone you think should be a "CNN Hero," go to CNNheroes.com.

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BOLDUAN: Usually there is very little to write home about when it comes to a guy's weekend away, but when it comes to Anthony Bourdain and friends, there is a lot to write home about. In the latest episode of "PARTS UNKNOWN," Anthony takes us to the beautiful rocky coast of Newfoundland.

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ANTHONY BOURDAIN, CNN HOST, "PARTS UNKNOWN" (voice-over): Raymond's in St. Johns is probably the best known, most celebrated restaurant in Newfoundland. It's gotten the region national, even international attention with its hyper localized, widely creative menus.

(on camera): Wow. This is exciting. Oh, wow.

(MUSIC)

BOURDAIN: Seafood tower. Yes!

(voice-over): Razor clams, snow crab, mussels, welk and sea urchin.

(on camera): Oh, look at that, little plump sacks of goodness.

That's really good. He's very excited about it as well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welk is my game.

BOURDAIN: Really?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Love it.

Quite remarkable.

BOURDAIN: This is really good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).

BOURDAIN: I like the little berries.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no oysters on this or clams, which is refreshing.

BOURDAIN: Right. I don't think I've ever seen this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. It's only local.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Joining me now is Anthony Bourdain in the flesh.

Welcome.

BOURDAIN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Why? This surprised me. Last time we spoke, it was Pittsburgh. Why Newfoundland this time?

BOURDAIN: Probably because I traveled all over Canada, and this was an area of the country that I knew nothing about and was assured was different than anywhere else on the continent. It's really coming up and changing at a point in its history that's really interesting.

BOLDUAN: I was going to say the same thing. I've traveled a bunch, but I've never been to Newfoundland. I've traveled a bunch of places in Canada, and every area is different, and I'm always surprised when I travel there. What surprised you about Newfoundland?

BOURDAIN: It's traditionally a hunting and gathering and fishing region. And, in fact, the entire economy to a great extent, anyway, was built around cod fishing. That all collapsed not long ago when the fisheries had been overfished and there was a moratorium suddenly declared on cod, which had a desperate effect on the population. So how they moved forward, what's happening with their cuisine, and the weird aspects of their culture, the weird, strange and really fun aspects of their culture --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: You've never had an episode where you're not finding some fun, so I would be sorely disappointed if you didn't. Just as you were saying, you showed in this episode kind of innovation on the food front from the Newfoundlanders, if I'm saying that correctly. You also talked about the challenge of actually getting the food from there to the table.

BOURDAIN: Yes. Well, like some of the most progressive cuisine on the planet, what is now arguably the best or maybe -- or close to the best restaurant in all of Canada is in Newfoundland, and it's basically dealing with and tries to use entire local furnished ingredients, unfamiliar, let's say, to New Yorkers.

BOLDUAN: Was it unfamiliar to you, even?

[11:54:51] BOURDAIN: I've had a similar forage-based cuisine at Noma in Scandinavia, similar philosophy. But really good food, really great restaurant of sort of an exploding restaurant scene. Also what is strange, and another thing most people don't know about the area, is that just a few miles offshore of the Canadian land mass is a tiny little island that is France. I mean, it's not like a French territory, it is France.

(CROSSTALK)

BOURDAIN: I mean, Euros, French cars, French language, French food. It's a weird anomaly just a few miles offshore. I think most people are unaware of it.

BOLDUAN: When we were watching this episode, we noticed you were able to take some -- it turned into something of a guys' trip for you.

BOURDAIN: It is a little brocation-esque. We try to avoid that generally. There was no way around it here.

BOLDUAN: So wait. Was this a boondoggle or were you actually working this time?

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Or both?

BOURDAIN: I think I'll take the Fifth.

(LAUGHTER)

I went to have a chef meet friends of mine, very enthusiastic on the region. I know anywhere I go with them, I know I'll get overfed, over-liquored, fed fabulous wines. They brought an entire dining room set to a remote part of the Newfoundland in the middle of the woods for a moose hunt. All too typical for these guys. BOLDUAN: Anthony Bourdain, overfed and over-liquored.

Great to see you.

BOURDAIN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thanks for coming in again.

Yes, it is.

Watch Anthony Bourdain, "PARTS UNKNOWN," on Sunday, 9:00 Eastern, right here on CNN.

Coming up, the Homeland Security secretary versus the president. What's the fight about and where do they go from here?

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