Trump Tangles with Chief Justice of the U.S.; U.S. and Iran Trade Blows as Relations Worsen; Britain Outraged over UAE Life
<Show: CNN NEWSROOM>
<Date: November 22, 2018>
<Head: Trump Tangles with Chief Justice of the U.S.; U.S. and Iran
Trade Blows as Relations Worsen; Britain Outraged over UAE Life
Sentence for Student; Nissan Board to Decide on Sacking Chairman;
Activist Offers Virtual Classes for Rohingya Children. Aired 2-3a ET - Part 1>
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): (INAUDIBLE) leads to a lifetime sentence in prison for a British academic accused of espionage in the UAE.
And (INAUDIBLE) company poised to set a titan of the auto industry accused of financial misconduct.
VAUSE: We begin with the case of Donald Trump versus the U.S. judiciary. Trump has a history of attacking judges who don’t take his side but this time the president is taking a fight all the way to the chief justice of the highest court in the United States. CNN’s Jeff Zeleny reports.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump in an extraordinary public feud tonight with Chief Justice John Roberts.
On the eve of Thanksgiving, an unprecedented and unseemly exchange that started earlier in the day, when the chief justice issued a rare rebuke of the president for criticizing a member of the federal appeals court as an Obama judge.
“We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” Roberts said. “What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them. That independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.”
The president firing back on Twitter. “Sorry, Chief Justice John Roberts, but you do indeed have Obama judges and they have a much different point of view than the people who are charged with the safety of our country. It would be great if the 9th Circuit was indeed an independent judiciary.”
In a second tweet, the president went on to ask why there are so many opposing views on border and safety cases filed there and why there are a vast number of cases overturned.
Then, he admonished Roberts to study the numbers and added, “They are shocking and making our country unsafe.”
It started as the president left the White House yesterday, blasting the judge’s decision for temporarily blocking one his executive orders to change U.S. asylum policy.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You go to the Ninth Circuit and it is a disgrace. This was an Obama judge. And I will tell you what. It is not going to happen like this anymore.
ZELENY: The Supreme Court chief justice, appointed by President George W. Bush, has been striving to bring civility to the bench.
JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE U.S. SUPREME COURT: We speak for the Constitution. That job obviously requires independence from the political branches.
ZELENY: It was his statement defending the judiciary that provoked the response from Trump.
All of this tonight as the president finally submitted his written questions in the Russia investigation, but Rudy Giuliani telling CNN special counsel Robert Mueller may be far from finished with the president.
Giuliani, one of the president’s lawyers, is bracing for new questions from Mueller about potential obstruction of justice, a move he said the Trump team would fight.
“We will consider them and answer them if necessary, relevant and legal,” Giuliani telling CNN, “if it was something that would be helpful, relevant, not a law school exam.”
As Trump opens his six-day holiday visit to his Florida resort, Giuliani’s comments tonight signal the Russia probe and the president’s role in it is very much alive, despite repeated attempts to diminish it, like yesterday while leaving the White House.
TRUMP: The written answers to the witch hunt that’s been going on forever, no collusion, no nothing, they have been finished.
ZELENY: Giuliani said any questions about Trump’s transition and actions during his time in office, including whether he obstructed justice firing FBI Director James Comey, would violate the president’s executive privilege.
CNN has learned the president did answer Mueller’s questions about potential Russian collusion, including what he knew at the time about his son Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with Russians at Trump Tower and whether he knew anything about Russian hacks when saying this about Hillary Clinton’s e-mails on July 27, 2016:
TRUMP: Russia, if you are listening, I hope you are able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. ZELENY: So even as the Russia investigation still hangs over this president with the potential of new questions to come from the special counsel’s office, it is that extraordinary and unprecedented, perhaps even unseemly fight with the chief justice that certainly is unusual, particularly coming on the eve of Thanksgiving.
And, of course, the president may need the Supreme Court and their ruling in the months and years to come -- Jeff Zeleny, CNN, West Palm Beach, Florida.
VAUSE: The growing tension between Tehran and Washington. A commander with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has warned that U.S. bases in Afghanistan, the UAE and Qatar and U.S. aircraft carriers in the Gulf are in range of Iranian missiles. They’re in the Guard’s airspace division was quoted as saying they are within our reach and we can hit them, if they, as in the Americans, make a move.
Just a day earlier, the U.S. president accused Iran of being a major threat to Middle East stability, as well as American citizens, with a track record far worse than any crime which may have been committed by Saudi Arabia.
Part of the rambling justification by Trump to ignore a CIA report that concluded the Saudi crown prince had ordered the brutal murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Iran’s foreign minister seemed to troll the U.S. president --
VAUSE: -- on Twitter, posting this.
“Mr. Trump bizarrely devotes the first paragraph of his shameful statement on Saudi atrocities to accuse Iran of every sort of malfeasance he can think of. Perhaps we’re also responsible for the California fires because we didn’t help rake the forests -- just like the Finns do?”
Friction between Tehran and the U.S. went from bad to horrendous in May of this year, when President Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal and tough economic sanctions were reimposed on the Islamic Republic.
For more now on this, CNN global affairs analyst and executive editor of “The New Yorker” website, David Rohde, is with us from New York.
David, thank you for taking the time.
DAVID ROHDE, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Thank you.
VAUSE: Back in July, the U.S. president tweeted this.
“To Iranian President Rouhani, never, ever threaten the United States again or you will suffer consequences, the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before. We’re no longer a country that will stand for your demented words of violence and death. Be cautious.”
OK, so does this threat from Iran about U.S. bases and aircraft carriers being within range of their missiles, does that rise to this level of consequences they’ve ever seen before?
How serious is this claim coming from the Revolutionary Guard?
ROHDE: To be frank, I’m it is -- it is not clear to me. -- it is not new; the Iranians have made this kind of threat before. What is not clear to me is what is the definition of what President Trump considers a serious threat.
He has talked this way about striking North Korea. He has looked at military options for invading Venezuela but he hasn’t taken military action. So I don’t -- I don’t know frankly what that line is.
And there’s a danger. If you make these threats, as the President of the United States, but you don’t ever follow up on them, that can lead your enemies to not hear the threats.
VAUSE: Which seems maybe one of the reasons why you get this statement from the Iranian foreign minister, mocking the president and he sort of trolled him on Twitter. It seems Iran’s also been involved because of the support they’re receiving from Europe over the nuclear deal.
Here’s part of a report from Reuters, “Iran on Wednesday praised European efforts to maintain business with Tehran, despite U.S. sanctions, citing ‘constructive meetings’ with British and French officials in Tehran this week on setting up a way to conduct non- dollar trade.”
This is about the negotiations for the special purpose vehicle, basically a trading mechanism for the European countries to avoid the U.S. sanctions if they do business with Iran. It is a sign of just how isolated the U.S. is now when it comes to dealing with Tehran.
ROHDE: Yes, there were new sanctions announced. But there were waivers the U.S. issued immediately for some of the largest purchasers of Iranian oil, primarily China.
So right now the sort of very tough sanctions that the White House has talked about has not had a major impact in terms of decreasing Iran’s oil exports. I do think the sanctions could hurt over time. But right now the Iranians and the Europeans together are essentially flouting the Trump administration and saying they won’t be intimidated by President Trump’s rhetoric.
VAUSE: Which will leave the U.S. with the Saudis and Trump on Wednesday had some very kind words once again for the Saudis.
“Oil prices getting lower. Great! Like a big Tax Cut for America and the World. Enjoy! $54, was just $82. Thank you to Saudi Arabia but let’s go lower.”
The only problem with that statement from the president is it’s completely wrong. The Saudis actually cut production this month to try and drive up the price of oil. You mentioned this; the only reason for the big decline in the price is because those buyers, exemptions from the U.S. from sanctions.
So is Donald Trump ignorant of that or is he deliberately trying to mislead here?
ROHDE: I would say he’s still trying to mislead. I can’t get into the president’s head. But I think he’s trying to defend an awkward political position in the United States where he gives Saudi Arabia and crown prince Mohammed bin Salman approval for a sanctioned murder of Jamal Khashoggi, of a journalist. That is not popular in the United States and it’s not popular with the Republicans in Congress.
It is very unprecedented to have an American president say, murder does not matter.
VAUSE: The Europeans and Iranians on the one side and the Americans and the Saudis on the other.
Just how effective of an ally is Saudi Arabia when it comes to containing Iran?
ROHDE: The Trump administration and the president have built their Middle East policy around Saudi Arabia being an effective ally. They expect Saudi Arabia to deliver and back, you know, a Middle East peace deal, potentially between the Israelis and Palestinians.
They expect the Saudis to intimidate Iran and somehow check them in the region. And they expect the Saudis to be an effective ally to counter ISIS.
If you look at the war in Yemen, the most --
ROHDE: -- significant military effort that the Saudis have led, that’s been a complete disaster. So this reliance on the Saudis, this belief in the Trump White House that the magic solution to so many challenges in the Middle East is Saudi Arabia, I find that very hard to believe.
But that’s the strategy and the reason, you know, that they’re giving MBS a pass is, first of all, oil. The U.S. needs that oil. The world economy needs that oil.
Second, this is a choice of the Trump administration, to be so utterly reliant on Saudi Arabia in the Middle East. I’m not sure that reliance on Saudi Arabia is going to work.
VAUSE: OK, David, we’ll leave it there. Thank you so much. It does seem to be one of those strategies which see to maybe misplaced at best. Thank you. ROHDE: Thank you very much.
VAUSE: The British prime minister Theresa May heads back to Brussels Saturday to try and finalize her draft Brexit deal. She met with the head of the European Commission on Wednesday but failed to reach an agreement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: There’s some remaining issues which we have discussed this evening with President Juncker this evening. We’ve been able to give direction to our negotiations on resolving those issues.
So further progress has been made. And, as I say, I’ll return on Saturday for further meetings, including again with President Juncker to discuss how we can ensure that we can conclude this process in the ways and in the interests of all our people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: E.U. leaders plan to meet on Sunday to endorse the withdrawal accord. But diplomats say German chancellor Angela Merkel will not take part in that summit unless the draft deal is approved first. Spain is threatening to vote against the deal, unless trade and security issues involving the British territory of Gibraltar are handled separately.
The U.K. is warning of serious diplomatic consequences after a court in the United Arab Emirates sentenced a British student to life in prison on allegations of spying. According to the family of 31-year- old Matthew Hedges, he had no legal representation in court and was forced to sign a confession written in Arabic, which he can’t speak or read.
More details now from CNN’s Sam Kiley.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Matthew Hedges, a British academic from Durham University, was this morning in Abu Dhabi sentenced to life in prison for espionage, spying for the British government.
Now his family and indeed his university say he was very far from being a spy. He’s a legitimate academic, who was investigating the successful ability of the United Arab Emirates to have resisted the wave of democratic movements that spread across the Middle East in 2011 and 2012, often called the Arab Spring.
That notwithstanding, he spent five months in prison, much of that time in solitary confinement. During that time, his family say, he was interrogated under duress and signed a piece of paper, that he could neither read nor understand because he does not speak Arabic. The UAE though said that he pleaded guilty during a five-minute hearing here in Abu Dhabi and faced the maximum penalty of life imprisonment for what they say was his confession to spying.
Now the British government has been outraged by this, as indeed has his very shocked family. I’ve spoken to a family spokesperson who said that his wife was in tears and then was advised immediately after the hearing to leave the country in something of a hurry.
His whereabouts is unknown. British consular officials are working hard to try to track him down because he does suffer, we’re told, from some mental health problems, some of them associated with being held in solitary confinement.
Now in a broader context, this comes at a time when relations between the United Arab Emirates and Abu Dhabi in particular within the Emirates is at an all-time low with the United Kingdom, not least or above all because the U.K. persistently refuses to designate the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist movement, as a terrorist organization, which is how it is described and designated here in the UAE.
On top of that, the U.K. has offered asylum to people who have fled the country to the United Kingdom, who have been associated with the Brotherhood. Nonetheless, the UAE say there is an opportunity perhaps for an appeal. His family have 30 days for an appeal but they also insist -- this is the family -- that they know that he made no comment at all, did not plead guilty during the very short hearing that he faced.
The British foreign secretary has said that he’s outraged and shocked by the consequences of this jailing for the family and for Mr. Hedges but on top of that he also said there could be dire consequences for the bilateral relationship --
KILEY: -- between the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom, two countries that are very deeply intertwined both culturally, economically, militarily and, above all, in teams of shared intelligence -- Sam Kiley, CNN, Abu Dhabi.
VAUSE: One of the most powerful men in the automotive industry will soon know if he no longer has a job. Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn is being held in a detention center in Tokyo. He’s been falsifying income reports for millions of dollars and misuse of company assets. Nissan’s board of directors is expected to vote on removing him as company chairman. CNN senior international correspondent Ivan Watson joins us now live with the very latest.
I guess we’re about to find out -- there’s not a huge amount of mystery -- whether he will slight this from a career point of view.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That’s right. Carolos Ghosn is chairman of three automotive companies, this alliance, that basically manufactures one, sells one out of nine cars worldwide. Renault and Nissan and Mitsubishi.
But Nissan are the company that have broken a lot of the news about the charges against Ghosn since he was detained on Monday in Tokyo, accusing him of misappropriation of company funds and underreporting his own earnings for a five-year period, going up to 2015 for -- to the tune of the equivalent of about 44 million dollars.
Him as well as an American, who is also on the board of directors there, by the name of Greg Kelly, who is also being detained right now, so he is currently in legal jeopardy to say the least. Visited by the French ambassador on Tuesday at his cell, who hasn’t provided any further details on his status right now. And in professional jeopardy as well.
We know that Mitsubishi, perhaps the smallest of the three companies, automotive companies involved here, that there are moves to strip Carlos Ghosn from his chairmanship position there.
It seems that influential players at Nissan also are lobbying to have him removed as chairman there. Meanwhile Renault has appointed an acting CEO that we do know that the French government, which has a 15 percent stake in Renault, that a top minister there has suggested that Mr. Ghosn likely won’t continue at that company as well.
We may learn a little more from a press conference we’re expecting from a deputy prosecutor in Japan in the coming hours about the nature and perhaps more details about the charges against Mr. Ghosn.
We also may learn more when the French finance minister is expected to meet with his Japanese counterpart, a Japanese minister of industry and economy in France later today -- John.
VAUSE: Ivan, thank you, Ivan Watson live for us there in Hong Kong.
Still to come here, the U.N. has warned of a possible lost generation. When we come back, we’ll have more on the high-tech efforts to educate Rohingya children living in the refugee camps in Bangladesh.
And later this hour, how heavy rain will help firefighters in California but complicate rescue efforts.
VAUSE: A plan to send hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees back to Myanmar has been put on hold. Not one person was willing to voluntarily leave the safety of Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh. That’s where they fled last year during a crackdown by the Myanmar military which the U.N. described as a textbook case of genocide. The refugee camps are not without problems. Authorities in Bangladesh restrict access to basic services, including education, raising fears of a generation of Rohingya children which could be lost.
But maybe not now. In recent months, activist Rajiv Uttamchandani traveled to Cox’s Bazaar twice with a plan to build virtual classrooms which are now up and running.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAJIV UTTAMCHANDANI, H.E.R. ACADEMY: I see everyone and I look at everyone as virtually new scientists. But all of you guys have the potential to be scientists or engineers or great personalities.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: The founder of H.E.R., the Humanity Education and Rights Academy, Rajiv Uttamchandani, is with us right now.
Good to have you back.
UTTAMCHANDANI: Good to see you.
VAUSE: We last spoke in July?
UTTAMCHANDANI: I think it was July 9th.
VAUSE: Back then, you were about to head off to the refugee camps. The plan was to set up these virtual classrooms, put up a satellite, use the Internet; if the teachers couldn’t go to the classroom you’d beam them in via satellite.
VAUSE: Didn’t go according to plan as things often do in Bangladesh. So you came up with Plan B which seems to be even better.
So what happened and what is Plan B?
UTTAMCHANDANI: We were trying to get the permission to install a satellite dish in the camp itself to host these live virtual classes. We couldn’t get the permission for various reasons, so we decided to go to Plan B, which is that we would deliver these classes asynchronously.
We’d prerecord all the lessons and upload on a shared Google Drive and a colleague of mine who lives in Cox’s Bazaar then downloads the classes on a weekly basis, brings them to the camps and they have the lessons for the whole week.
VAUSE: This is actually better.
UTTAMCHANDANI: This worked out to be better. Because when you teach these classes, they’re fairly complex -- English, science, engineering, which is what we’re offering now. So the translator has full control over the pace of the classes, to play and pause the videos when he wants to. It works out so much better that way. We don’t have to worry about time difference and continuity. We just go.
VAUSE: Kids can work at their own speed.
VAUSE: Let’s take a look at one of your recruits. We have a teacher, I think an English teacher, and he’s in Siberia. He’s actually teaching these kids their English lessons from Siberia.
VAUSE: That’s incredible. Obviously you need more teachers.
UTTAMCHANDANI: Yes, we do.
VAUSE: From anywhere?
UTTAMCHANDANI: Exactly, anywhere in the world, all kinds of academic disciplines. The goal is to provide quality and full secondary school education to these children.
VAUSE: A couple of kids, I want to listen to them, they’ve actually taken the English class there in the camp. Here we go, listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator). We have learned English today. We have learned five things to become a scientist. We have learned very well.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We need the more good picture and video lesson. If we get an English class we will be able to understand talking.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: This has been going on for a couple of weeks.
VAUSE: How are the kids progressing and receiving this?
UTTAMCHANDANI: They love it. I built a relationship with them over the past couple of months since I visited. For them to see me over there and not just myself but other colleagues from all over the world, that look different than they do and for them to see that people care about them. We went in and promised to hold their hands, provide them with quality education. And come what may, we deliver that. And the kids are really progressing very well. I’m very proud of them.
VAUSE: There were sort of classrooms before and they were kind of informal and not really structured. And the Bangladeshi government doesn’t want these kids going to the education system --
VAUSE: because they don’t want these refugees to become permanent residents so that’s why they don’t have access to services.
UTTAMCHANDANI: Most of the learning over there is primary school education. So you have kids that are 13, 14, 15 years old who have nothing that satisfies their hunger for learning. That’s the void that we want to fill.
VAUSE: You found these kids really wanted to learn.
UTTAMCHANDANI: They do, very much so. They’re hungry for that. They’re thirsty for that.
VAUSE: OK. So what you have done, it took a while but it all came together in the last couple of weeks. You started two learning centers, basically catering to 300 kids. They have electric fans, laptops, LED televisions, microphones and speakers. Now it is fully powered --
VAUSE: -- by these solar panels which you guys have installed. These are kids that didn’t get much education when they were in Myanmar before, because of the policies of the Myanmar government.
And now they look at these classrooms, which must be completely and totally new to them.
What is the reaction just to the equipment and everything that is being decked out?
UTTAMCHANDANI: They were surprised. I’ve got to mention my partners, the women in my foundation. They helped set up the groundwork for this and we helped reinforce the structure of the classroom and bring on technology over there. So kudos to them for the excellent job.
The kids, once they’ve seen the TV screens, we show them all kinds of pictures and videos, I teach astronomy to them so I show them pictures of the cosmos, they haven’t seen anything like this before.
So I think for them to be traumatized as much as they have and lost everything but realized that, in a way, in terms of education, that they’re receiving better education in these learning centers than they were back home. That’s a significant accomplishment and they realize that.
VAUSE: At the moment, where do you want these classes to grow to?
What are you looking at? UTTAMCHANDANI: We offer science, engineering, critical thinking, leadership and English, of course, English speaking skills. So we want to offer more courses. We want to eventually, once we finish this pilot program in the next 3-4 months, offer that not only in other parts of the refugee camp in Kutupalong but other refugee camps around the world as well.
VAUSE: It’s a great idea. There’s a lot of concern about the repatriation plan. It is now on hold because no one wants to go back to Myanmar.
How confident are you that it is really on hold or at least nobody will be forced to go back to Myanmar that doesn’t want to go?
UTTAMCHANDANI: I spoke to my colleagues both in government and the military in Bangladesh, they have assured me that at least despite the fact they will likely continue this process of trying to repatriate the Rohingya back to Myanmar, that they won’t ever do so unless someone wants to go, which is a powerful statement.
They probably can’t make that statement officially, but I trust them in that respect.
VAUSE: Which is very different from what we’re seeing, just here in the United States --
UTTAMCHANDANI: Yes, it’s very different because -- and that’s the respect that I have for the Bangladeshi government because it is overwhelming to handle 1.3 million additional people, as opposed to here where we’re freaking out about 6,000 or 7,000 and sending people back without even any concern about where they come from.
VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) one of the poorest countries in the world.
UTTAMCHANDANI: Exactly. Put that into perspective, right.
UTTAMCHANDANI: Thank you, sir.
VAUSE: Heavy rain in California is expected to help fire crews tame the worst wildfires in the state’s history. Meteorologist Derek Van Dam joins us next with all the details.
[02:30:48] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome back. You’re watching CNN NEWSROOM. I’m John Vause with the headlines this hour. Donald Trump is taking on the chief justice of the United States. On Tuesday, the president blasted a ruling of what he called an Obama judge. Chief Justice John Roberts responded praising the country’s independent judiciary. President Trump then fired back on Twitter telling Roberts study the number.