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Monica Lewinsky Breaks Silence; Crisis in Ukraine

Aired May 7, 2014 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news: new ammunition for claims that Russia is behind the bloodshed in Ukraine. We have new audio recordings, as the White House delivers an ominous warning about Moscow's next move.

Vladimir Putin claims he's pulling back troops from the border. But U.S. officials are skeptical. Ukraine's prime minister says Putin is blowing -- quote -- "hot air."

Plus, we have brand-new photos just released of Monica Lewinsky. CNN has obtained her new tell-all essay about her scandalous past and her life now. The opening line is very stunning and racy.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: Let's immediately get to the breaking news this hour, grave new concern about Russia's role in the Ukraine crisis as the fight for control of the country gets bloodier by the day.

A new audio recording appears to offer some damning evidence against Moscow. And the Obama White House is warning that President Vladimir Putin has his sights set on a very crucial target.

Our senior international correspondent, Nick Paton Walsh, is standing by in Ukraine.

But let's go to our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto. He's in THE SITUATION ROOM -- Jim.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, multiple sources tell me, Wolf, that U.S. senators were given a sobering closed briefing by the White House last night on the situation in Ukraine.

And according to that assessment, Russia now has its sights set on the southwestern port city of Odessa and will not allow it to stay under Ukrainian control, because sees it as crucial both to trade and the resupply of Russian troops in the occupied Transnistria region of Moldova that borders Ukraine. This would create a landlocked Ukraine without control over what had been its key ports in both Odessa and a annexed Crimea region.

In addition, the U.S. sees no letup in Moscow's direction of pro- Russian separatists and paramilitaries inside Ukraine and the continuing presence of Russian agents and special forces on the ground there, this as forces released a new alleged intercept highlighting that Russian involvement.


SCIUTTO (voice-over): The Ukrainian security service says this alleged intercept catches a Russian official giving direct orders to a pro-Russian activist to proceed with the referendum on joining Russia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Dima, you cannot cancel it, in no way. It will look as if you got scared. Do you understand?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): No, we're not scared. We simply cannot hold it. Nothing is ready.

SCIUTTO: More signs of the pro-Russian push inside Ukraine, on a day that in one town, the Ukrainian flag torn down, a pro-Russian flag paraded through the crowd, and with that one fleeting success of government forces in Eastern Ukraine reversed, as pro-Russian separatists retake part of Mariupol, Ukrainian troops who had moved in only hours earlier unceremoniously marched out.

This tug-of-war between east and west inside Ukraine is growing more intense and more deadly, five pro-Russian activists killed overnight. U.S. officials say Russia remains the driving force behind the crisis.

But Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to sell a very different narrative. Today, he claimed Russia is withdrawing its troops from the Ukrainian border and called on pro-Russian separatists to delay the referendum on annexation scheduled for this Sunday.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): A necessary condition for the start of this dialogue is the unconditional stopping the use of any violence for both the use of military force and the use of armed illegal units, extremists elements and forces, is absolutely unacceptable in the modern world.

SCIUTTO: With crucial national elections now less than three weeks away, the administration's critics in Congress are increasingly calling for tougher sanctions against Moscow.

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: I don't understand. I just -- I truly don't get it. We got 40,000 troops intimidating people on the inside. We have got black ops little green men doing the things they're doing on the inside. I don't understand. I really don't. I just don't understand the thinking of waiting until the damage is done.


SCIUTTO: As for President Putin's claim that it has now pulled back its forces from the Ukrainian border, a senior U.S. military official says there's been no indication that Russia has, indeed, moved its troops. U.S. officials, of course, watching closely, but previous Russian claims, Wolf, as we know, have turned out to be very far from the truth.

BLITZER: Well, let's see if they do anything, the Russians, in the next day or two to start moving those troops back. It won't be hard to figure that out. The U.S. is watching the satellites and other resources very, very carefully.

SCIUTTO: No question.

BLITZER: Jim Sciutto, thanks very much.

Let's go to the front lines in Ukraine right now.

Our senior international correspondent, Nick Paton Walsh, is joining us once again from Slavyansk.

What's the latest there, Nick?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, people really trying to digest what exactly Vladimir Putin meant by saying the referendum should be delayed and that the 25th of May presidential elections were the right step forwards.

We have spoken to some pro-Russian activists here, the self-declared chairman, saying tomorrow at noon there will be a vote in their sort of council, if it were, the revolutionary council, so to speak, in both Donetsk and neighboring Luhansk region, to see what they're going to do. Will the referendum still go ahead on the scheduled date?

I have to say, people surprised in many ways inside Slavyansk, but showing no signs of changing trajectory at all today. We saw barricades being built up, a lot of anger at funerals, those being killed in the past few days, and people, I think, their eyes on moving forward certainly. And most of the people want to see some sort of closer relationship with Russia.

The key question now, what exactly does the Ukrainian army do next? Clearly, you might say they could feel emboldened by seeing Vladimir Putin in some interpretations distance himself from what's been happening here in Eastern Ukraine by those comments.

We saw the Ukrainian prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, nearby. We're not quite sure exactly where, but talking to the troops carrying out this operation, giving out medals, praising their conduct, saying victory was in sight.

The fear many have inside Slavyansk is of a broader assault. Now, potentially, bear in mind, if that did happen, that could radically change the Kremlin's calculations or certainly what it needs to say publicly.

A bit of a move today by Vladimir Putin to look like the peacemaker to try and calm things town. But if we see things get out of hand on the ground, which potentially could happen, the Ukrainian army moves once every two days, and it's two days since the last time it moved -- people concerned we might see loss of life there, Wolf. BLITZER: Let's hope not. That would be awful, indeed.

All right, Nick Paton Walsh, we will check back with you tomorrow. Thank you.

Still ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM, we now have the full story. Monica Lewinsky's entire essay in "Vanity Fair" has been released, including more brand-new photos of her as well. We're going to show you the pictures. We will talk about what she's saying. She's opening up rather dramatically about her dashed hopes for a future with Bill Clinton and she's also lashing out at some of his biggest defenders during the height of the sex scandal.


BLITZER: Monica Lewinsky is giving the world a revealing new look at her life and her scandalous past. We now have the full essay she wrote for "Vanity Fair" magazine, along with new photos of her inside the magazine.

Even though she's been hiding out for some years, it's clear Monica Lewinsky knows how to grab headlines when she wants to.

Tom Foreman is joining us with all the new details -- Tom.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, we just obtained all this this afternoon, the complete text of this article.

And I must say it is fascinating. This article begins with a graphic, gripping moment in the story of Monica Lewinsky and then in many ways it just heats up.


FOREMAN (voice-over): "Do I dare disturb the Clinton universe?"

With a possible presidential candidacy looming for Hillary Clinton, this is one of the questions posed by Lewinsky. "Being a conscientious Democrat and aware that I could be used as a tool for the left or the right, I have remained silent for 10 years," she writes, but adds, "It's time to stop tiptoeing around my past and other people's futures."

And she does not tiptoe. Through thousands of words, she describes a world turned upside-down by the choices of a 20-something and the life it has left for the 40-year-old woman, a life of privacy lost.

"Every day, I'm recognized, every day of jobs never had. Because of what potential employers so tactfully referred to as my history, I was never quite right for the position," of a life on the edge, turning down, she says, offers that would have made millions for her because they were not right.

"I have managed to get by barely at times with my own projects or with loans from friends or family." She says she does date, carefully. And of the Clintons, she says, "I wish them no ill," but she unleashes sharp criticism at feminists who defended the actions of the most powerful man on the planet while savaging a young intern.

"They joined the humiliation derby," she writes. "Given the issues at play, gender politics, sex in the workplace, you think they would have spoken up. They didn't. I still have great respect for feminism, but given my experience of being passed around like gender politics cocktail food, I don't identify myself as a feminist with a capital F."

In the end, Lewinsky says she once believed her involvement with President Clinton was meaningful, that they had plans for a future. But she was wrong. "I was too young to understand the real-life consequences and too young to see that I would be sacrificed for political expediency."


FOREMAN: I'm telling you, Wolf, this really is a riveting tale and it's decidedly not laced with bitterness.

A lot of people look at this say, why are we still talking about Monica Lewinsky? Why can't she just fade off into the past? You read this article and you hear a 40-year-old woman saying, I have tried to fade off into the past and nobody will let me, my neighbors, people on the street, the media, everyone. And she finally said, I must have my say because that's the only way I can reclaim my life.

It is a fascinating read, Wolf, and well worth the time.

BLITZER: It certainly is.

All right, thanks very much, Tom Foreman.

Let's bring in our political commentator Ana Navarro, also our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. He's the author of "A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President."

Ana, these pictures, "Vanity Fair" has given us permission now to show exclusive pictures that they got. I want you to take a look at these pictures. And you see Monica Lewinsky, she's 40 years old right now. What goes through your mind when you read the article and you see these dramatic new pictures of Monica Lewinsky?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: When I see the pictures, I think she looks terrific. I think the photographer did a great job or I think she looks wonderful; 30 is the new 40. And I think she's got an entirely--




NAVARRO: Forty is the new 30.




NAVARRO: And she's got an entirely -- this is a 42-year-old, so this is important for me.


NAVARRO: She's got an entirely new stage in her life.

You know, her life is just beginning in certain ways, and she's got a lot that she can still do. And she can reclaim her life and move forward.

BLITZER: She's got a great smile, Jeffrey. Take a look at that smile. She's obviously a very attractive young woman. When I say young, 40, as Ana just said, is the new 30. She looks great in these pictures.

And you wouldn't know just looking at the pictures what an awful ordeal she has gone through over the course of these many years.

TOOBIN: No, it's lousy. And the piece is really fascinating.

And I think most people believe, certainly everyone I have talked to about this thinks, you know, enough already. She did something wrong when she was a very young woman. A lot of people do wrong things when they are very young. But it's been a long time. She should be allowed to move on. She should be able to get a job, have a life.

And since I did so much reporting about her, the saddest thing to me is that this is a woman who cared deeply about getting married and having a family. And here she is 40 years old. She hasn't been able to do that. And it's just -- it's just sad and I'm sorry for her.

BLITZER: It certainly is.

All right, let me read a line from you -- for you, Ana, from the article, the full article in "Vanity Fair" that's just been released. She writes this. "When I hear of Hillary's prospective candidacy, I cannot help but fear the next wave of paparazzi, the next wave of where is she now stories? I have begun to find it debilitating to plot out the cycle of my life based in some degree on the political calendar."

How does she get over that? Because you know the paparazzi are going to be after her for a long time.

NAVARRO: I think she's talking about what's real politic today, where everything and anything is fair game and it will come out. And I think that's part of the reason for this article, anticipating a Hillary run and trying to tell her story before somebody else does, before it gets told. It's about reclaiming her narrative and moving on with her life. I say we should give her the space to do so and wish her luck as she goes on with her life.

TOOBIN: You know, there's a certain level of fame that is just so beyond anything else.

It's like Michael Jordan trying to walk, you know, unacknowledged into a restaurant. It will never happen -- Tiger Woods. Unfortunately, it will never happen for Monica Lewinsky either. And, you know, it is true that when Hillary Clinton, if she does, declares her candidacy for president, people will want to know about her.

At the Democratic Convention in 2016, if Hillary becomes president, I mean, all of those milestones will. She's very savvy, Monica is, about politics. She knows all those will draw attention to her, and I don't know if there's anything she can do about it.

NAVARRO: I think it's very interesting, because when you read the article, she's savvy about politics, but you also realize this is not political. This is not a Republican thing. This is not a Clinton thing.

This is about Monica Lewinsky taking charge of her own future and her life, and I think wanting to shed this burden and, you know, this issue, this baggage that she's carried around for now well over a decade.

BLITZER: "Vanity Fair," the article, "Shame and Survival," including that new picture of Monica Lewinsky. I think it's going to be on the newsstands as early as tomorrow. "Shame and Survival," this article, essay, very, very personal essay by Monica Lewinsky.

Guys, thanks very, very much.

NAVARRO: Thank you.

BLITZER: Once again, I think it's going to be on the national newsstands May 13, they say, but you will be able to check it out then.

Coming up, just ahead, a rare interview with Lynne Cheney. Our own Gloria Borger pushes the former second lady to talk about a very public feud between her daughters over same-sex marriage.


GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, it got very tense and even ugly at times. As a parent, how did you deal with that?


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Dick Cheney's wife, Lynne, is talking to CNN about a painful subject, her daughters' very public feud over same-sex marriage. It was a political spat that seemed to get personal as well, creating huge tension within the former vice president's family.

Lynne Cheney is promoting in her new book, "James Madison: A Life Reconsidered."

She sat down with our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, for a rare interview.

Gloria is here in THE SITUATION ROOM to tell us how it went.

How did it go?

BORGER: It was -- she was quite interesting, Wolf.

Former second lady Lynne Cheney has always been a political animal. She's also a scholar in her own right. And now she's written a book about the fourth president, James Madison, whom she admires as a pioneer of conservatism. She spoke to me about political divides in the country and in her own family and why disagreement can be healthy.


LYNNE CHENEY, WIFE OF FORMER VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: Madison began to worry about too strong a central government. That political party led to an era of partisanship in the 1790s that's the equal of anything we have today.

BORGER: We say our gridlock today, our partisanship. Do you think it is a terrible thing?

L. CHENEY: Well, Madison wouldn't have thought so.

BORGER: What about you?


L. CHENEY: I don't think so either. It's what happens when you have free and open debate. I would like to take some of the edge off it, trust me. I have been through this.

Hi. I'm Liz Cheney.

BORGER (voice-over): Most recently as a mother watching her daughter's tough Wyoming Senate bid erupt into a public family feud over same-sex marriage. Candidate Liz opposed it. Her sister, Mary, is gay and married.

L. CHENEY: I love Mary very much. I love her family very much. This is just an issue on which we disagree.

BORGER: Mary took to Facebook. "Liz, this isn't just an issue on which we disagree. You're just wrong and on the wrong side of history." (on camera): It got very tense and even ugly at times. As a parent, how did you deal with that?

L. CHENEY: My underlying philosophy is that you should try to keep family matters within the family. And I think it was, you know, unfortunate that happened. It's hard to have two wonderful daughters who see things differently.

BORGER: Except you deal with it publicly.

L. CHENEY: Well, the disadvantage of it is that it becomes a public dispute. And I just don't want to do anything to continue that trend. It's not good for families generally to do that. And I don't think it's good for ours.

BORGER: Are you fine with same-sex marriage?

L. CHENEY: I think Dick actually had the classic formulation. He said freedom means freedom for everyone.

DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think people ought to be free to enter in to any kind of union they wish.

L. CHENEY: And I think that's a principle we can all agree on.

BORGER: Is there a reconciliation?

L. CHENEY: We're a happy family.

BORGER (voice-over): These days, the Cheneys prefer to direct their fire outside the family, as Lynne Cheney has done since the 1990s.

ANNOUNCER: On the right, Lynne Cheney.

L. CHENEY: Good evening, and welcome to "CROSSFIRE SUNDAY."

BORGER: And continues today.

L. CHENEY: Madison was the man who said we're a government of laws and not men. Obama seems to be showing us that we can be a government of man and not laws. So it is -- how could you evaluate the two of them in the same breath? That's -- I can't see.

BORGER: That sounds a lot like former Vice President Dick Cheney, who's also outspoken.

D. CHENEY: President Obama's got a steep hill to climb.

BORGER: In the patriotic tradition, they might say, of James Madison.

(on camera): Former President Bush, Bush 43 I'm talking about, has decided not to comment on public policy. And you and your husband have.

L. CHENEY: For him, it's just speaking out because you really think there's some things that need to be said. BORGER: And what do you think it is about the former president?

L. CHENEY: I have no idea, but he seems to be content and happy, and I look forward to seeing him and Mrs. Bush next week.

BORGER: So you do keep in touch?

L. CHENEY: Well, I'm going to be at the Bush Library talking about James Madison.

BORGER (voice-over): And her new book, in which Madison is considered the prophet of small government.

L. CHENEY: Madison really was a strong government man at the beginning, but as soon as he and Alexander Hamilton began to have policy disputes, Madison began to worry about too strong a central government.

BORGER: Sound familiar? Ask the Tea Partiers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we will restore our Constitution.


BORGER: Looking for a home among Republicans. James Madison and Lynne Cheney would give them one.

L. CHENEY: You can't say just because someone is really conservative, they shouldn't be part of this party. And that's what I often hear about the Tea Party, is, oh, you know, they're over there. No, no, we have to be ideologically -- ideologically inclusive, as well as in all other sorts of ways.

BORGER: It's a battle that will no doubt play out among Republicans in 2016.

(on camera): Jeb Bush, would you like to see him run?

L. CHENEY: Well, I just think he'd make a great contribution. He has to sort that out. It is so hard to run for president that, you know, you have to be sure in your own heart.

BORGER: And would you like to see Hillary Clinton run?

L. CHENEY: I think she's going to run. I think my opinion has absolutely nothing to do with it, that Hillary is -- Hillary's there. And I in fact don't even understand what the debate is about, will she or won't she? She's running.


BORGER: She tough to beat?

L. CHENEY: You know, she was defeated in the 2008 election in the primary, and we didn't see that coming. So I'm not sure I could predict that one for you. BORGER (voice-over): As for the Cheneys, they're not looking back.

(on camera): Do you miss being in the thick of the political arena?

L. CHENEY: Well, that was a great time, and a time that both of us enjoyed. But it's -- you know, it's one stage of your life and then you move on to another one. We're in our Western years now.

BORGER: Right.


BLITZER: And, Gloria, what about the health of the vice president? What did she tell you about that?

BORGER: Well, actually I was at their home in McLean, and the vice president was there. Wouldn't go on camera with us. It's Liz Cheney's book tour.

But he seemed quite robust. He did have the heart transplant two years ago, when he was age 71. And she says that he has got such a wonderful energy level, which I saw, and she said she feels lucky every day when she wakes up that he's there and he seemed quite fit and robust to me.

BLITZER: Did you get the -- going back to the daughters, Liz Cheney, did you get a sense she might run for elected office?


BORGER: Yes, I got a clear sense that she's not done with politics, that the Cheneys don't want her to be done with politics. I think they kind of want to push this, her first attempt in the rearview mirror, and I think that they all believe that she has a future in politics. So I don't think we have seen the end of Liz Cheney.

BLITZER: Because that run for the Republican nomination--

BORGER: Did not work.

BLITZER: -- in Wyoming, that turned out to be a disaster.

BORGER: Did not work out well, but they continue to live in Wyoming. So, I wouldn't be surprised if we hear from her again.

BLITZER: And did you get a sense -- are the two daughters talking to each other? She said they have a happy family, but she didn't tell you they were actually talking.


BORGER: She said they have a happy family. And it was clear Mrs. Cheney wanted to talk about the book, she didn't want to talk about the family issues.

So she would not expound upon their relationship when I asked. What she told us was, we're happy.

BLITZER: She made it abundantly clear she like the former vice president supports same-sex marriage.

BORGER: Right. What she said is freedom means freedom for everyone. Now, they both believe that this is an issue that should be left to the states to decide, but it's very clear to me that when you heard Lynne Cheney, freedom means freedom for everyone, that includes both her daughters.

BLITZER: Gloria Borger, good work.

BORGER: Thanks.

BLITZER: Thank you very much.

Remember, you can always follow us on Twitter. Go ahead, tweet me @WolfBlitzer. Tweet the show @CNNSITROOM.

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That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Now let's step into the CROSSFIRE with S.E. Cupp and Van Jones.