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Putin Offers "Condolences" After Presumed Death Of Yevgeny Prigozhin; Trump Is Arrested In Georgia At The Fulton County Jail; Absent Trump Steals Show At Raucous Republican Debate; The Governor Of Hawaii On The Inferno That Has Left Hundreds Still Missing. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired August 24, 2023 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA NEWTON, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR. Here's what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We have nothing to do with this situation, that's for sure. But I think everyone
realizes who has.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: Yevgeny Prigozhin presumed dead in a plane crash, the extraordinary demise of Wagner's chief and what it says about Putin's Russia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to face the fact that Trump is the most disliked politician in America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: The elephant not in the room. As frontrunner Donald Trump skips, we unpack the first GOP debate on the day he's due to hand himself in at an
Plus, wildfires devouring Greece. We'll have the latest from the ground. And --
JOSH GREEN, MAUI, HAWAII GOVERNOR: We are bracing for the worst. And we will pray that it is better than that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: As Hawaii picks up the pieces from its own devastating wildfires, my interview with Governor Josh Green.
A very well welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Paula Newton in New York, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour. More than 24 hours after a fatal plane
crash that killed that Russia says killed Wagner leader and founder of Yevgeny Prigozhin. President Putin has described him as, quote, a man of
President Putin also described him as talented, the man who two months ago attempted a mutiny against Russia's military leadership. Russian
authorities say all 10 people on board the plane were, in fact, killed in the crash with Prigozhin's name among those on the passenger list. Here is
President Putin from just a few moments ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): First of all, I want to express my sincere condolences to the families of all the victims.
This is always a tragedy. Indeed, if they were there it seems preliminary information suggests that Wagner group employees were also on board.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: Meanwhile, U.S. President Joe Biden weighed in on whether Putin himself may behind the crash.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: There's not much that happens in Russia that Putin is not behind.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: Meantime, Ukraine's President Zelenskyy says, look, Ukraine had nothing to do with it, of course. Russia says the cause of the crash is
unknown, and no evidence so far has been presented that points to the involvement of the Kremlin.
Meantime, Ukrainian forces on the ground have carried out one of Kyiv's most audacious and ambitious operations to date, with a pre-dawn raid
against Russian military facilities on the Crimean Peninsula. They say at least 30 Russians were killed.
We want to update all of this now, especially on the speculation around the potential deaths. What now the Kremlin has confirmed is the death of the
Wagner chief. Arkady Ostrovsky is Russia editor for The Economist. He joins us now from London. And with us from Paris, Roger Cohen of the New York
And I thank you both for joining us, especially as we have these late breaking developments. Arkady, first to you for your reaction, especially
given Putin's comments just now. You know, as if the Russian president knows even in death, he had to show reverence and respect for Prigozhin.
ARKADY OSTROVSKY, RUSSIAN EDITOR, THE ECONOMIST: Yes, it is quite extraordinary. And I think, in my mind, it just reaffirms what has been
suspicion all along. This is very much kind of Putin's mafia tactics. If you remember the opening scenes of Godfather, where the scene of a wedding
coincides with the shooting of one of the rivals, this is very similar in some ways.
You know, Putin was at a concert in Kursk, hailing Soviet victory over the Nazis and hailing Russian army while Prigozhin and his man were brought
down. We don't know exactly how, whether it was a bomb on board or whether it was shot down, whether it was something else, but very few people, put
it this way, very few people in Russia would believe this was anything but revenge for Putin's, for Prigozhin's mutiny.
And so Putin, in acknowledging that he knew Prigozhin and it's kind of, you know, deniable plausibility, which is something, or plausible denial, which
is what Putin has been doing all along.
I think it only reaffirms that sense that the Kremlin was involved.
NEWTON: Yes, in fact, almost as if he was saying, right, that Prigozhin forced his hand. Roger Cohen, I mean, your thoughts, especially you, as you
recently traveled to Russia, would Russians be expecting something like this in terms of what happened to Prigozhin and then Putin's reaction to
ROGEN COHEN, PARIS BUREAU CHIEF, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, Paula, I don't think many Russians would be surprised. Two months ago, when the mutiny happened,
President Putin said his response would be, quote, brutal. And his response has, in the end, been brutal. He allowed a little bit of time to elapse.
But we know enough of President Putin and the way he acts and the way he treats his enemies at this point, I think, to be entirely unsurprised by
what has happened. He said that Mr. Prigozhin, in his remarks a few minutes ago, that Mr. Prigozhin had a complicated life. The response is really
uncomplicated, in my view.
If you go back to Anna Politkovskaya in 2006, who'd written things about the war in Chechnya that were unacceptable to Putin or to Boris Nemtsov in
2015, attempted poisoning of Navalny, if you go beyond a certain point with Vladimir Putin, he may well kill you.
NEWTON: And Prigozhin certainly led, in fact, on that kind of very dramatic line. Roger, just to stay with you for a moment, as you have just traveled
to Russia. You know, you describe this nationalist lurch into an unprovoked war. I'm curious to get your thoughts of what Russians will think, given
you say in your report that their approach towards the war and everything that's gone on in the last year and a half has been punctuated by a lot of
COHEN: Yes, there is ambivalence. Older Russians are very enthusiastic about the war and venerate President Putin, but there's a younger
generation that thinks differently, and 1 million plus of them have voted with their feet and left Russia since the war began.
I think one of the issues for President Putin with Prigozhin was that he had developed a certain national following, and his descriptions, often
foul mouthed, of the war as a fiasco, even accusing Defense Minister Shoigu of, quote, genocide. His denial toward the end that in fact, there was any
kind of Nazi or fascist threat from Ukraine.
This was, I think, especially with Russia being now, what, six months, seven months from a presidential election, which in many ways is a fast of
an election. We know what the outcome will be. But if there was anybody who could have made waves in the coming months had he been alive, I think it's
Because by saying again and again that the elites in Moscow and Petersburg were just leading the good life, while grunts were going to Ukraine to die
and die for what he did strike a chord in Russia.
NEWTON: In fact, it did cut to the bone, right, in terms of what you heard from many people in Russia.
NEWTON: Arkady to you now, do you believe definitively, given all that's going on in the last two months, that this strengthens Putin's hold on
power, especially now that Prigozhin has died in this way?
OSTROVSKY: Well, it consolidates the image of Putin as a strong man. But I actually disagree with a couple of things that Roger said, I think. One, we
have to be careful not to put Prigozhin quite in the same, you know, not, you know, not all in the same category as Nemtsov, Politkovskaya or
Let us not forget that Prigozhin was a murderer. He committed horrendous crimes against humanity. He, in fact, in some ways fell victim to his own
sort of success, if you like, in promoting total reliant on violence and play without any rules.
And in that sense, he was very much part of Putin's -- was a flesh and blood of Putin's system. And Putin has relied from the very beginning of
his presidency on informal connections, on the paramilitaries, on the hybrid tactics, rather than on the institutions of the state. And Prigozhin
acted for a long time with impunity, wielding this extraordinary, uncontrolled violence, thinking that for as long as he's violent, you know,
he is going to be successful.
I think it's gone into his head. He then decided to use violence to challenge Putin himself and Shoigu, the Minister of Defense, and Valery
Gerasimov. So the controlled -- from Putin's point of view, controlled conflict spinned into something which was uncontrollable in itself.
So, you know, Prigozhin in a sense is another sign that Russia is deteriorating as a state. It's a degradation of a regular state. And that
doesn't contradict the fact that it also can strengthen Putin personally, because the elites, when Prigozhin was allowed to walk away from having led
the mutiny and some deal, although we don't know the details of that deal was struck with the intimidation from Alexander Lukashenko, another
dictator in neighboring Belarus. The elite kind of raises eyebrows, like, you know, where is this strong man and how come Putin didn't see this
So, this will reassert Putin as a strongman, but it will also, I think more importantly in terms of the war effort, reasserts Shoigu, the Minister of
Defense, and Gerasimov, the commander of the Russian armed forces, as the top dogs because Prigozhin was attacking them very, very vehemently.
NEWTON: And I do want to get to how this is going to affect the war in Ukraine, if at all. I do want to get though, first to another opponent of
Putin's, which is Russian dissident and chess grandmaster Gary Kasparov. He tweeted, when a dictator is reduced to murdering members of his inner
circle and fighting with and replacing his generals, the situation is very dangerous. There is no trust among those who remain and therefore no
loyalty. The knives are out and must taste blood.
I mean, Roger, do you think we are at that tipping point in Russia or is this more business than usual? I mean, as Arkady says, it is the flesh and
blood of the kind of Russia that Putin has made in the last two decades.
COHEN: Yes, I must just answer Arkady by saying that of course I did not mean to compare Prigozhin, who was close to Putin in many regards to
Nemtsov, Navalny or Politkovskaya, only in the sense that we know, we have known for a long time that if you cross a certain line with Vladimir Putin,
you risk your life. And that is what happened in the Prigozhin case and the other cases I cited.
As to the speculation that the elites will now having witnessed this apparent latest act of sheer brutality, be extremely restive about the
regime, perhaps to the point one day of challenging it, I think one has to be poly extremely cautious.
There is an inner core around Vladimir Putin that's essentially been with him for more than two decades now. Since Petersburg days, the main security
people around him have been tested and tested and tested. And this has now degenerated into an extremely repressive and extremely brutal regime that
will stop at nothing.
So my personal view is that while it may be comforting to think that there's a limit and that somebody is going to do something and I don't rule
it out, it is possible. I think one has to be skeptical that would happen. One Western ambassador when I was in Moscow, said to me, you know, Putin's
hold on power is absolute.
At the same time, if I woke up tomorrow morning and saw tanks in the street, I would not be completely astonished. We don't know what's going on
inside the Kremlin. It's completely opaque, as in communist days. So we don't know. But I think you have to bet on Putin surviving.
NEWTON: Yes. It's interesting because most Russians, as you know, would share your opinion about they do not know and would not faint a guess as to
what will happen next. Arkady, in terms of the actual prosecution of this war in Ukraine, do you think this changes anything?
OSTROVSKY: I don't think this changes anything. I think, in a way, the way that Prigozhin was disposed of in this very brutal way is indicative of the
way of the progression of this war. Because if you think back to the time when Prigozhin actually thrust himself into the public eye, when he stepped
out of the shadow and he started building this image of a truth telling, kind of turbo patriot that coincided with a very lackluster performance by
the Russian armed forces.
And in fact, his criticism of the Russian army probably went with Putin's blessing. And Putin used this to spur the army, but also to deflect any
blame for his disastrous decision to invade Ukraine, pointing out to potential scapegoats.
Now, in the past few months, since Ukraine started its counter offensive, the Russian army has performed better and has been more effective in
holding the lines. And it showed that it can perform even without Prigozhin's sort of madman being thrown as cannonfold into the battle.
So what I think this shows, what it indicates to me is that Prigozhin in a way has been his head has been given as a prize to people like, you know,
to Shoiku and Gerasimov saying, OK, you proved you can do it, and he had, you know, he had humiliated you, so this is fair enough.
But I do think that nevertheless the situation remains extremely brittle. I mean, in war, things can go can change very fast. Ukrainians have been very
good attacking the Russian rare, striking at the supply lines, et cetera.
The regime is extremely brittle because, again, what this -- this is assassination shows is that there is no other way of resolving conflicts or
contradictions within Russian power system other than physical elimination. And in that sense, it actually is quite similar to the late sort of
Stalinist era, when everybody knows that they are potential --
NEWTON: Arkady, thank you for that, Arkady. Last word to you, Roger. In terms of Wagner itself, we don't have a lot of time here, but do you think
we will continue to hear of this organization or will it die along with its leader?
COHEN: I think we'll probably continue to hear from it. It remains very important to the regime, to the Kremlin and Africa, in Central African
Republic, in Mali, in Nigeria and elsewhere. Wagner has been a very effective presence in terms of getting raw materials for Russia and shoring
up regimes and projecting this sort of anti-Western propaganda.
So I think while its importance has maybe, as Arkady was saying, has faded somewhat in Ukraine, and if Putin tolerated Prigozhin for so long, it was
because he needed him. I think elsewhere in the world, maybe it'll get a new name. But I think Wagner or that kind of freelance movement that Putin
can just use and deploy very fast and use extreme violence to gain certain ends, I think that will persist.
NEWTON: Yes, a useful apparatus still for the Kremlin and for Putin himself.
NEWTON: Arkady Ostrovsky and Roger Cohen, I thank you both so much. Really appreciate it.
Now, coming up next for us, what if they gave a debate and the front runner just didn't show up? We break down the first Republican presidential
NEWTON: And welcome back. Here in the United States, Donald Trump will hand himself in at a Fulton County, Georgia jail, and that is just in the coming
hours. A reminder that in this indictment, he is accused of heading a, quote, criminal enterprise as part of a broad conspiracy theory to overturn
his election defeat in Georgia. The former president now faces 91 charges across four separate criminal cases.
Meantime, he was, in fact, a no show at the first Republican presidential debate. Just two of eight candidates on that stage that you see there said
they wouldn't support Trump even if he was convicted. We want to get some more key takeaways from the debate. Political commentators S.E. Cupp joins
me, as does former Obama White House official and U. S. Senate candidate Will Jawando. Thank you so much to both of you.
I'm sure you guys had the popcorn at the ready, but we want to be able to take this debate and really set out the reality. And the reality is and
this has not likely changed let's anchor us all in reality. The latest 538 poll says that Trump is at 52 percent, DeSantis is at 15 percent, Ramaswamy
is at 10 percent, and all others are polling now at less than 5 percent.
And I ask both of you first, to you, S.E., did this debate change any of that reality?
S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think ultimately, Trump is going to be the nominee, and really, the only person moving in the right direction
is Vivek Ramaswamy. He's moved up in the polls as DeSantis has moved down in the polls, and everyone else at the bottom has remained at the bottom.
So clearly, the momentum is with Trump. Now I think there were some candidates on that stage last night that acquitted themselves very well. As
annoying as I found Vivek Ramaswamy to be, I think he endeared himself to a lot of MAGA voters. And I think if you're a MAGA voter worried that
something may happen to Donald Trump, i.e., prison. You could maybe after last night, see yourself voting for Vivek Ramaswamy, not so much Mike
Pence, Nikki Haley, Chris Christie, Tim Scott.
But for me, as a moderate conservative, I thought Nikki Haley really did well. And if this was your first introduction to Nikki Haley, I think you
were impressed with what she knew, and how, you know, tough she came off, but know, you know, polite and rational and sort of common sense.
NEWTON: And yet Will, it Ramaswamy, right, who seemed to seize the spotlight. I was shocked at the way this man was able to basically take a
center stage in all of this.
WILL JAWANDO, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL: Well, you know, I think S.E. brings up a really good point. I'll push it a little further. I think
Vivek, in this case, was literally the stand in for Donald Trump. He ran the same playbook. He tapped into the same insecurity and populist kind of
themes that Trump did in his first successful election.
And I think you saw that with over 50 percent, you know as you mentioned, twice impeached, four times indicted 91 counts, and most likely convicted.
When you have that large of a pool of charges against you, of something, people are trying to hedge their bets in the Republican Party and today's
Republican Party, which is not S.E.'s Republican Party and the Republican Party that I wish still existed, that you could work with on some things.
I think Nikki Haley tried to give us a view of what that might be, even though, you know, obviously broad disagreements with her, she at least
admitted climate change was real.
But I think you saw that if you add Trump and Vivek, that's 62 percent. If I'm using your math, depending on the poll of the Republican Party, saying
we want someone who's not going to compromise, who thinks climate change is a hoax, who doesn't want women to have the right to have bodily autonomy,
go down the list. And that's a scary thing for the Republican Party, but also for the country.
NEWTON: And we will get to some of those comments. I also do want to show right now that moment when, of eight candidates, they were asked by the
moderators, would you support Donald Trump even if he was convicted? Let's have a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS HOST: You all signed a pledge to support the eventual Republican nominee. If former President Trump is convicted in a court of
law, would you still support him as your party's choice? Please raise your hand if you would.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: I mean, wow, I don't even know what Chris Christie was trying to do there, but we've got six of eight hands. S.E., I mean, what did you think
of that moment? What did you make of it?
CUPP: It's just so, I guess, craven right, because you hear people like Mike Pence try to talk his way around it. You know, he has said that Donald
Trump should be disqualified from being president again because of what he asked him to do on January 6, and yet he'd vote for him if he were
convicted. He dances around it by saying, well, I wish that we're up to the people, and, well, I don't think he's going to get convicted.
And down the line, the candidates try to sort of tiptoe around this. It should not be hard to say, you know, if I'm channeling someone like Mike
Pence or Nikki Haley or Tim Scott. I like Donald Trump. I like his policies. He was great, but he's probably going to prison. And I don't
think we should nominate someone who's convicted of crimes. You don't even have to give up, you know, your Trump affection to do that.
You don't have to piss off his voters either by stating the obvious, which is that is a very weakened candidate who is facing four indictments and 90
plus charges, and yet they can't bring themselves to really do it well.
NEWTON: Will, but did the debate really show us that this is still Donald Trump's party and not any Republican Party that perhaps you grew up?
JAWANDO: Well, absolutely, and I'm obviously and I'm obviously strong Democrat. And you know, look, I think one of the things that is -- it was -
- we could talk about that scene, this whole segment, because it just shows so many things from Ron DeSantis kind of looking peering down the aisle.
You're the front runner, you're the number two right now supposedly and you're looking to see what other people do, you know, on that question and
then to kind of tap it, you know, Pence even comes late into the effect who just said he did the right thing and the president tried -- to former
president tried to get him to overthrow a rightful election.
And it also shows how fragile our democracy is. So, yes, to your question, this is Trump's party. Absolutely. But it shows that inherent in that
question is that if the president is above the law, the majority of the Republican electorate right now don't think whether there's a conviction or
not, President Trump, former President Trump will say it was false.
And we're in a really precarious place where people are questioning whether even the Republican majority of voters right now are questioning whether
democracy is even a thing. And I think that's scary. And you have on the other side, the majority of Americans wondering if we can figure this out.
And if we can get back on the right path, I think we can.
But I think I'd like to see all of those people up on that stage just say, look, I like Donald Trump, but if he's convicted of a crime, a president
cannot be convicted of a crime. And that's a fair statement, but they're not willing to say it right now.
NEWTON: No. And in fact, Chris Christie was booed for saying even some of that on stage. I want to get to some of the more substantive points of this
debate, and you guys have already brought it up. No one could ignore this moment from Vivek as he stood on stage talking about climate, listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VIVEK RAMASWAMY, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let us be honest as Republicans. I'm the only person on the stage who isn't bought and paid
for, so I can say this. The climate change agenda is a hoax. The climate change agenda is a hoax, and we have to declare independence for it. And
the reality is, the anti-carbon agenda is the wet blanket on our economy. And so the reality is more people are dying of bad climate change policies
than they are of actual climate change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: OK. So first things first. Fact check. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says, in fact, that the research is now
indisputable if it wasn't to all of us looking in our backyards that humans are the problem here and they are causing climate change. But, I mean,
S.E., this guy resonated, you know, he did even with that outlandish comment. Why?
CUPP: Well, I mean, as we've all admitted here, right, it's the party of Trump. And so leaning into the conspiracy theories and, you know, getting
people to distrust institutions, even institutions like science, you know, institutions like facts, you know, that's the whole ballgame for the
Republican Party today.
They're not coming to the table to fight over ideas and governing and best practices.
They're really trying to see who can spark the most anger and grievance among the base and calling climate change a hoax does that. But I would
really -- I would like to point out some of the progress we've seen here on the right. The fact that question was asked at all at a Fox News Republican
primary debate, I think is an acknowledgement by Fox that this is important to people.
The fact that it was asked by a member of YAF (ph), this very conservative young organization and the fact that you had someone like Nikki Haley
saying, yes climate change is real. Yes, we need to care about clean air and clean water, I think that is some progress toward modernity at least,
you know, from some of the candidates out there.
NEWTON: Well, Will, how do you see that? Because, you know, what S.E. says is correct, right? And it also moves the Republican Party closer to what is
American opinion and it will have a platform during the general election.
JAWANDO: Well look, I mean, we're not moving fast enough. I mean, where the time, you know, the planet has a fever. You know I was in Westminster not
too long ago, northern part of my state, we had horrible storms. You see what's happening in Maui. Go across the world the results of climate change
and people are seeing that. So I think you can't deny it like blue states, red states, purple states across the world people are seeing the
devastating effects and feeling it the insecurity of climate change.
And so I think, yes, great that some Republicans can admit that it's there but that's a long way from doing something about it. Even in Nikki Haley's
response, which was the most rational, she said, well yes, we got to get but we got to worry about India and China. Let's not lead by example here.
So, we've still got a long way to go on actually getting consensus on doing something about it.
But I think what I do agree with is the point that Vivek and Trump and others, they are appealing to fear and division and hate. They're saying if
your neighbor something happens to them, well your job is just to make sure it doesn't happen to you, not to help them. That's the real lie right now
that embeds. I think the majority of the Republican Party, all of us are insecure right now, Republican, Democrat and independent.
We all want to know that the American dream is real and we're feeling that insecurity. But their answer is fear and hate and division. I think you're
going to hear from President Biden and Vice President Harris is a more unifying message that we can do all well together.
NEWTON: Just to counter that though for a moment, Will. I mean the polls are not -- they're just not good news for Joe Biden despite anything. I
mean I know it's just a snapshot of a moment in time and the Republicans did prove that for a brief period of time on stage that they could discuss
real issues. You know, one of those issues is abortion. I want you to listen now to really a spectrum of opinion that came out last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HALEY: We need to stop demonizing this issue. This is talking about the fact that unelected justices didn't need to decide something this personal,
because it's personal for every woman and man.
DOUG BURGUM, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Feds are stepping into people's lives. They're stepping into people's businesses over and
over. If we say that the Feds should be in on this one, where do we stop? I say that we follow the Constitution and this is returned to the states.
This is where it should be.
MIKE PENCE, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's not a states only issue. It's a moral issue. And I promise you, as President of the United
States, the American people will have a champion for life in the Oval Office.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: S.E., if we take this to the larger GOP race, do you think substantive conversations like that do get those GOP contenders to a place
where they want to be, which is actually discussing issues and showing where they stand?
CUPP: Yes, and it's a really important issue to a lot of people, not just women, not just young women, not just Democrats or Republicans. We saw how
important the overturning of Roe v. Wade was on the country, practically and politically, and how Republicans paid for that over the midterms.
So, I think Nikki Hilly is smart to realize, despite her political position on abortion, smart to realize the math is not with Republicans. The polls
are not with Republicans and have never been with Republicans. And what Republicans are doing now is doubling down on very unpopular policies, even
in places where they are unpopular.
So even in places like Texas, where something like 13 percent wants a ban on abortion, they've effectively done that anyway. And they're testing that
all over the country. And all over the country from Ohio to Kansas, voters are rejecting those efforts. So I can hear Nikki Haley listening to that
and trying to modernize the point, the position of the GOP.
But people like Mike Pence, who seems only to want to reach evangelicals, is really double tripling down on that. And I think, you know, at his
NEWTON: And S.E., Will, we will have to leave it there for now, as we again await the former president to surrender in Georgia, at least, the other
candidates were center stage for a little bit of this news cycle. Thanks so much. Appreciate it.
CUPP: Thank you.
JAWANDO: Thank you.
NEWTON: Coming up for us after a break, dangerous fires are blazing through Greece. We get a report.
NEWTON: And welcome back. So from Europe to Canada, Turkey to Hawaii, record shattering heat is triggering wildfires worldwide. Canada has been
scorched by the worst wildfire season ever in its history, forcing more than 50,000 people to flee their homes at this hour. And right now in
Greece, a desperate effort to fight the blazes is taking place right across the country as dozens of those fires are still burning out of control.
Eleni Giokos joins us now in Athens with more. And Eleni, I mean, just look at your scene there. I know that you have seen some harrowing escapes from
fires in the last few days and many want to know how desperate is the situation now and how close are these fires to Athens?
ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, look, we're in northern Athens, which is an area of Agia Paraskevi which is on basically the
mountain of Parnitha. And Parnitha is the lungs of Athens. As you can see, this house is completely burnt. Decimated. This is sort of the mountain.
We witnessed this fire taking hold homes within this area of the street. The wind was blowing so rapidly yesterday. We could barely keep up with how
fast the fire was spreading. We witnessed so many helicopters dropping eleven tons of water at one time. Just a short time ago the helicopters had
Now in Athens means that the firefighters on foot need to start working through the night. We called the fire department just before we spoke to
you and they said the fire is here in Parnitha, which means that they still have a lot of work ahead of them. A lot of what we saw today seemed pretty
calm because there wasn't a lot of wind.
But further in the mountainous area, that's where the danger is. Not here in the houses close to the residential area, but rather in the mountainous
area. We have many frontlines, Paula, many frontlines across Greece that are wreaking havoc, that means a lot more resources will need to be
NEWTON: And Eleni, I don't have a lot of time here, but given what is going on, do you expect more resources to be in the region soon? And what about
the weather? Is it going to help at all?
GIOKOS: Yes, the weather, look, it's really hot. The wind is playing ball right now. The question is it going to pick up overnight? If it does, that
means more fires across the country. The resource issue, we've spoken to many firefighters, they tell us there aren't enough firefighters, they
don't have enough fire trucks, they don't have enough resources. And it's something the government does need to spend money on, because this is a
record year in terms of wildfires.
And frankly, I've covered wildfires here before in Greece in 2021. It was the same argument, the same issue, the same criticism. More money is
required. More resources are required. Resources are required. And by the way, in terms of the size and the scale of just how much land has been
burnt in Greece, initial reports and estimates show this is the largest land area that has been burnt in Europe ever since records began.
NEWTON: Incredible, Eleni. We thank you for your report and giving us the latest. Really appreciate it as we continue to hope for the best there,
especially with the weather.
Still to come for us, hundreds are still missing on Maui more than two weeks on now from those devastating fires. The governor of Hawaii joins us
NEWTON: And welcome back. In Hawaii, the desperate search and recovery efforts continue after an inferno on Maui left at least 115 people dead,
with hundreds more still unaccounted for. Now leading the state through this unimaginable time is its governor, Josh Green. He joined me from
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON: Governor Josh Green, welcome to the program. We obviously want to start first with clarity. Clarity that families desperately need. There has
been a point in confusion so painful for those still waiting to identify the loved ones. And also, obviously, the number of missing that number
keeps changing. How and when do you expect to be able to get some accuracy on that?
GREEN: So it's a very fluid situation. Right now, we have 115 reported fatalities and we've surveyed 92 percent of all of the impact zone. The
number of people that are unaccounted for right now, yes, has fluctuated anywhere between about 800 and 1,200. And that, of course, is fluid because
the FBI and others get additional information in real time, some from cell phones, locations, some people being reunited.
There was one heroic story where were able to get DNA sample from an individual's family and then found that presumed victim was in the hospital
getting care, but they had amnesia from the trauma of the event. So we are reuniting some. We do expect catastrophic loss in some of the buildings
that we're now getting to. That last 8 percent of the survey for search and rescue with the 40 dogs that we have in the ground and the 470 people that
are doing search and rescue is a technical and difficult process because they have to peel away layers of the condominiums there.
So that's happening in real time. We try to give as much information as we possibly can to the victims and then to you each day. One of the
complicating factors, of course, is just the catastrophic nature of this incident, which was fire. And so a lot of our loved ones are gone, and it's
more difficult than usual to find out who they were quickly. But we'll do all we can.
NEWTON: Of course. And obviously it's difficult for loved ones to even get an identity. And we've had situations before, primarily in 9/11, where,
unfortunately, remains are never identified. I think what's more pertinent, though, at this hour is you mentioned it yourself, you are still expecting
catastrophic loss. I think many are hoping against hope that certainly the number of the missing will dwindle. And yet you do -- you are cautioning
that you're bracing for the worst.
GREEN: I am. I think it's important, and it always has been important to just be very honest with people. We are bracing for the worst, and we will
pray that it is better than that. But there will be heroic moments and stories. And as the firefighters are able to get through those buildings
and we think it's going to be over the course of about seven days, we will have many answers.
But you're right. Like 9/11, there will be some that we'll never be able to know with definitive DNA that they were lost. We also have to acknowledge
that some people went into the ocean, and we have a very robust search going on there, too. That adds complications.
Look, we're heartsick over the loss. I ordered on, I believe, day three, just about 48 to 72 hours in a comprehensive investigation with the
Attorney General to begin to get to the bottom and then be transparent about everything that happened.
But these things are going on in parallel. And most of the effort right now is to try to reunite any loved ones we have and get some measure of closure
so that people can begin to mourn, like we all need to do as people.
NEWTON: Governor Green, I know how difficult this is in the sense that I have watched you talk about this for days now. You are literally carrying
the weight of this tragedy on your shoulders. Obviously, nothing compared to the families who lost their loved ones.
But I have to ask you there's, so many different problems have been uncovered at this point in time, a cascade of issues. You know, the sirens
didn't blare. Mobile phone alerts were not sent. Firefighters struggled to find water. I've only named three. You could probably list many more from
that perspective. People want to know, what are the lessons learned here? And what can you guarantee will not happen again in the state of Hawaii?
GREEN: Well, you're right. There are going to be many, many findings of human error and many incredible moments of heroic effort. That's what the
investigation will uncover, I'm certain. As to specifics, yes, we will have recommendations for the future of sirens as we've shared before. And again,
my heart breaks in two to imagine that a siren or anything could have saved more people.
But as we've shared, and our leadership has shared, that does emergency response typically. Historically, sirens were always used for tsunami
warnings and hurricanes. That does not excuse the absence of the siren use during this fire. It's just simply what has been done for 50 years or more.
So what we are really uncovering is what the world needs to be aware of, which is in this case, for the first time ever in Hawaii, we had
essentially a fire hurricane, which is to say a hurricane that had just passed left us with 60 to 81 miles per hour winds. Those winds fanned a
very hot flame across a very dry planet. In this case part of Hawaii.
So the fire itself moved between 60 and 81 miles per hour across that part of the community, which meant that it overwhelmed the fire trucks that were
there, it overwhelmed cars, it overwhelmed people, it destroyed the infrastructure, the pipes and the wires so quickly that the typical
warnings, the warnings that we normally use on the internet and through cell phones, they became immobilized.
And with fire that was upwards of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, it destroyed infrastructure so rapidly that nobody could get in. And I want to tell the
world that I'm not making this political. There is a great challenge with a climate affected world. It is drier, it's hotter. We all know that.
From 1953 to 2003 we had six fire emergencies. In this month we've had six fire emergencies in Hawaii. So, we just want people to be realistic and
know that they're going to have to increase fire response. They're going to have to increase modalities of alert. These are the lessons we're learning.
And yes, I'll hold anyone accountable that made human error. I can't say at this point what the scope of that is. That's why we have independent
investigators and people to review this mostly so we can learn to share with the world.
NEWTON: And you make such a good point because at this hour there are wildfires raging everywhere from Canada to Greece and beyond. What does
that firefighting prevention look like? As you know, there are so many jurisdictions that are understaffed in firefighting but as you say, not
prepared for the catastrophic events that have just never happened before.
GREEN: These fires, climate change combined with not enough resources in almost every corner of the world will mean that we will have to prepare
ourselves to deal with the impact of these superstorms and the potential risk to our people. So, an industry will grow that will revolve around new
technologies to alert people, probably satellite technology, because if we had satellite phones all over Lahaina, we would have been able to get the
alert and people would have shared it amongst their neighbors. That's one of many, many things that could be done.
And then there'll have to be a better approach to water. Coastal areas, island states, we're the most isolated landmass in the world. We're going
to probably have to really lean heavily into technologies that produce extra water, that requires energy and energy research. The whole world is
going to have changed its approach if it wants to prevent these incidents from happening.
We may very well be the tip of the spear and the cautionary tail, but right now it's really that my heart has broken for the 115 people that are gone
and whatever other fatalities we discover.
NEWTON: Yes. And I know for certain that even, for instance, authorities in Canada looked at what happened at Maui and decided not to take any chances
with their evacuations. It is no doubt exactly, as you say, an important role.
I do want to get to the resiliency of those residents in Maui. Extraordinary. We've all seen it. I want you to listen now, though, to the
concerns of one resident. Listen.
KEEAUMOKU KAPU, NA AIKANO O MAUI LAHAINA CULTURAL CENTER: Where do we go from here? We feel that the government is streamrolling this process
without consulting from the leaders of our communities.
NEWTON: Whether or not that actually turns out to be true, I think you would debate, Governor, for sure, but you can understand the concern of
residents in terms of how do we rebuild, where do we even rebuild, and the fact that they want consultation first and foremost.
GREEN: Yes, I wouldn't dispute that at all. I absolutely accept that as truth. We have begun deep conversations with the Hawaiian leadership and it
will continue all the way through this recovery. I can speak to my people right now through you.
The rebuilding of Lahaina will happen on the terms that the people of Lahaina choose and the rebuild will be cognizant of all of the cultural
traditions that are necessary. We use the word Evie (ph), which means bones here. We feel that's sacred and that's very sacred to the Hawaiian people.
My wife is Hawaiian. She is a part of that consultation and we will spend time just like the president did with the elders of our community two or
three days ago.
What we will do, of course, in the interlude between now and when ultimately the decision that the people of Lahaina make to rebuild, we will
have to provide some temporary housing. Not permanent, temporary so that people who are probably working on the recovery individuals who couldn't
otherwise get support some people won't have all of the available resources from FEMA because perhaps they're immigrants.
And we'll only have a shorter period of time where I can provide federally subsidized support. I have to provide some of that so that people don't
become homeless. And I'm so grateful to the American Red Cross, the Hawaii Community Foundation, Maui, United Way. They're putting money into people's
pockets as we speak.
But the long return to recovery is going to be in the terms of the people of Lahaina. Whether they view it as a permanently sacred place that has to
be preserved or they want to rebuild it as it was recently or in the deeper past where tradition ruled cultural tradition, which I'm very thoughtful
about that will be their choice.
NEWTON: We appreciate you taking the time to inform international audiences especially those at this hour going through a tragedy of wildfires.
GREEN: Can I share one last thing? Please.
NEWTON: Go for it.
GREEN: Forgive me. It's important that people know that not to West Maui, of course, people cannot travel to West Maui at this moment. But as people
continue to come to this place that they love from around the world it is important that they know they can travel to all the other parts of Maui and
the rest of Hawaii because their participation in our economy will save us from additional suffering, so that people don't only lose their house, we
don't want them to also lose their livelihood.
So we do welcome people still to Hawai to really be with us, maybe to grieve a little with us but to continue to experience Hawaii because that's
how we'll recover.
NEWTON: And I appreciate, Governor, that you are taking care of your residents as well with that pronouncement. We have heard that echoed as
well from Hawaiians who have told us, as long as you stay out of that region, Hawaii welcomes you, as you always have. Governor Green, we'll
leave it there. Thanks so much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREEN: Now, as we mentioned in that interview with the governor of Hawaii, those wildfires are still burning in Canada as well. And Canadian fire
crews have witnessed an incredibly rare phenomenon one they were compelled to share. It is a fire tornado. The towering whirl of flames and smoke was
seen last week over Gun Lake in British Columbia
. Fire tornadoes are formed due to a rare combination of high fire intensity, strong winds and falling humidity. I mean, what a sight. That is
the kind of danger so many fire crews all around the world are facing right now.
And that is it for us. Remember, you can always catch us online or on our podcast and across social media. I want to thank you for watching. I'm
Paula Newton. Goodbye from New York.