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Four Out Of Five Huge Colonies Of Emperor Penguins Saw No Chicks Survive Last Year, According To Study In Journal Nature Communications Earth & Environment; Trump Left Atlanta A Few Hours After He Was Booked On More Than A Dozen Charges Stemming From His Efforts To Reverse Georgia's 2020 Election Results; After His Arrest And Release From Jail, Trump Says, "I Did Nothing Wrong" And Describes The Criminal Case Against Him As "A Travesty Of Justice"; Wildfires North Of The Greek Capital Are Burning Out Of Control; Russian Investigators Say They Have Recovered Flight Recorders From Crash That Reportedly Killed Wagner Group Leader Yevgeny Prigozhin; Kremlin Says Genetic Testing Is Underway To Determine If Prigozhin Was Killed In The Plane Crash On Wednesday. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired August 25, 2023 - 13:00   ET




PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone and welcome to AMANPOUR. Here's what's coming up.


JOHN KERRY, U.S. SPECIAL PRESIDENTIAL ENVOY FOR CLIMATE: This is one of the most dangerous moments in human history.


NEWTON: A warning from America's top climate official, John Kerry, as catastrophic wildfires rage around the world. I ask him why he also sees

this moment as an opportunity. Then.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: What has taken place here is the travesty of justice.


NEWTON: Donald Trump surrenders, but remains ahead of the rest of the Republican field for president. What do voters think? I find out from CNN's

Chief National Correspondent, John King, who is meeting with voters right across the country. Also, ahead.


JASON ISBELL: (SINGS "Dreamsicle")


NEWTON: My conversation with Grammy award-winning musician, Jason Isbell, who discussed his new album and why he says he can't think of anything more

American than a culture war.

And a very warm welcome to the program, everyone. Now, I'm Paula Newton in New York, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour. Climate-related disasters.

Yeah, they're everywhere you look. Just today, wildfires in Greece are raging out of control. Now, the largest ever recorded in the European


On the other side of the world, meantime, in Hawaii, nearly 400 people remain unaccounted for after devastating fires there. Meanwhile, in

Antarctica, several huge colonies of emperor penguins saw no chicks survive last year. That's according to a new study as the sea ice they rely on

disappears. And in Pakistan, UNICEF is warning that millions of children still need urgent support one year after historic flooding there.

So, what's happening? This is how U.S. climate envoy, John Kerry describes it. Take a listen.


KERRY: We are now on the precipice of tipping points. The point at which events can simply unfold of their own momentum. The point at which our

reckless abuse of the ecosystem forces nature way beyond our control, even if it ever was.


NEWTON: The U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate and (ph) made that address yesterday in Edinburgh, and he joined me earlier today from London.

Here's our conversation.


NEWTON: John Kerry, welcome to the program. We appreciate it. You know, in your speech you spoke about how we have already passed tipping points,

moments as you called them of irreversibility, but you also extolled progress. Where is that key progress happening? Because I have to tell you,

for most of us looking at what is going on across the planet, we do not see progress.

KERRY: Well, I can completely understand that Paula and indeed the signals coming from Mother Nature are pretty dramatic, but I didn't say that we

have passed them. I said that the scientists are telling us that there are these tipping points, and we may well be at several of them. We don't know

specifically, but the key is if you know you're coming up to this critical moment, prudent governance, you know, cautionary principles would say be

careful and do what you need to do.

I was really trying to underscore the urgency of our moving now, which is coming from all quarters, scientists, people all around the world, we need

to move, but there are signs of great things happening. First of all, there's more money being expended and invested in new technology in the new

directions by about $1.7 trillion.

We're seeing an enormous increase in electric vehicles happening much faster than people thought it would be. That's going to have an impact on

demand of gasoline. And as it continues, it will have a profound impact on capital allocation to alternative renewable clean energy. And I think that

if you look at the technologies and the number of companies that are coming to the table, the shipping industry is moving into, you know, no carbon

propulsion, making new ships in order to do that.

The air industry is working on the issue of sustainable aviation fuel. Companies around the world have now been dealing with their own production

of emissions in their comp, in their plants, in their offices, and there are reductions taking place. So, I think you would find that there's an

element of optimism that is now coming forward, and I think we can hasten that if we take key steps for the meeting in Dubai in December.


NEWTON: But let's talk about that leadership and essentially, U.S. leadership. I want you to listen now to U.S. climatologist Michael Mann,

who I spoke to earlier, talking about how the U.S. has to, along with other nations, forego fossil fuels.


MICHAEL MANN, CLIMATE SCIENTIST: Listen, we've got to have our own house in order. We've got to be doing enough so that we can convince India that is

worth, you know, their while in skipping that fossil fuel phase of their economic development and going directly to renewable energy. We've got to

make it worth their while, and that means there have to be even greater commitments from the industrial countries to get these industrializing

countries to come on board.

And that's what this next conference is all going to be about later this year.


NEWTON: And Secretary Kerry, in the face of all that, the Biden administration, the administration you work for, approved that massive

Alaska oil project, the Willow Project, earlier this year. I mean, activists call that a carbon bomb.

Is that leading by example here?

KERRY: I think President Biden has been leading by example. He is done more than we've done in the history of our country already. But let me just say,

I'm not sure what Michael Mann is talking about with respect to India. India is building coal and has coal, and they've already built it. They've

depended on it for their development.

China has depended on coal for their development. They have too much coal in our judgment in China, and we're working with them to try to see how we

could begin to turn that around. The fact is that even if the United States of America went to zero tomorrow, we'd still have to ask these other

countries and work with these other countries to reduce emissions.

So, we're all in this together, and what we know is we have to capture the emissions and obviously move away from any source of of power that is not

able to provide clean energy. Coal, for instance, is the dirtiest fuel in the world, and we need to move away from it because we're not able, there's

no such thing as clean coal, so we have to move in a different direction.

I agree--


KERRY: With him completely that it is in our responsibility to transition to the new clean energy economy. But you can't just turn it off overnight.

You have to begin, the economies of these countries continue to move. People get in their cars every single day and drive to work, and they're

going to continue to do that, and you need to be able to fuel those vehicles so your economy is not crashing.

The question is, are you on a track to be able to meet those goals? President Biden has put us on a track to achieve a 50 to 52% reduction in

our emissions by 2030. That's what the scientists have said is necessary. That's what we are doing, and we're working with other countries to make

sure that everybody is able to raise their initiatives and to be able to meet the targets.

NEWTON: But in terms of going to other countries, like China, I'll take that for instance. You were there in July, you apparently had a phone call,

I believe, with your counterpart earlier this week about it. I mean, China mined a record 4.5 billion tons of coal last year. How you're talking still

about progress that is still perhaps too slow for the planet?

How do you, in the face of approving more drilling in Alaska, convince China that it is time to let go of coal before 2026? Which is, you know,

the line that they've put in the sand.

KERRY: Well, a number of things. First of all, yes, China is dependent on coal and has been for their development.

And they have to move away from coal over time. China is currently -- And we can't make it if China doesn't move off that coal, that's one of the

critical points we're making to them. We cannot solve this problem if we don't talk to China and work to try to move in a way that's cooperative.

Not that we're, you know, dictating or ordering somebody to do something.

We're working on this together in order to be able to find the ways in which we can both do a better job. But the truth is that China has been

building coal, we have not. China is building more and more coal and the amount of coal that China has may eclipse some of the efforts that are

being made with respect to renewables. China is simultaneously building a remarkable amount of renewables, way more than we are or other countries


And so, hopefully, those renewables will put them in a position that they don't need the coal, they don't have to light burn those furnaces.

NEWTON: Are you on track perhaps for a breakthrough with China, for instance, in that COP27 meeting?

KERRY: No, we're not -- right now, we're not talking about or thinking about breakthroughs. What we're trying to do is reach an understanding

where we're both doing the most that we're able to do and we're both able to reduce emissions and move in the better direction.


KERRY: We have been put on a track by President Biden's plan to achieve keeping 1.5 degrees alive in the United States. China is not in that

position, their emissions are still going up, and we need to find a way to try to work with China cooperatively to reduce the methane emissions, as

well as the CO2 emissions that are coming from the burning of fossil fuel.

I'm hopeful that we can find some ways to make progress. We made progress in Glasgow in setting out some of those goals. Unfortunately, different

issues have gotten in the way of our ability to be able to move forward. Hopefully, now we can renew our efforts and get somewhere, but I'm not

sitting around waiting for a breakthrough.

What I'm trying to do is see if we can all raise our ambition. That is the key, every country raising ambition, not because one country says another

country ought to do it, but because the world needs every country to reduce its emissions.

NEWTON: And to that end, we don't need a geography lesson to know how important Russia is in the stakes of this as well.

You were one of the last people in fact in Biden's cabinet as secretary, as climate, a point person on climate to go to Russia. I know that was some

time ago now, but how do you feel about keeping the lines of communication open with them honestly (sp?)?

KERRY: Well, that's been very difficult. The war in Ukraine has really eliminated any kind of direct communication on this issue. And with respect

to this issue, Russia is one of the great problems that the world faces right now. There's nothing, almost nothing sufficient happening with

respect to emissions reduction in Russia, and obviously, this illegal unprovoked, senseless war that they are prosecuting against Ukraine, is

really made it extraordinarily difficult for any other kind of intervention to take place with Russia.

NEWTON: You were Secretary of State when Russia first annexed Crimea in 2014, was there a red line there that was crossed that should not have

been? I mean, if you look back on it now, what should have been done then, perhaps to avoid what's happening now in Ukraine?

KERRY: Well, I don't think that takes you anywhere with respect to what the situation is today. The entire world did, I mean, I think 90 whatever

percent, 98% of the world did not agree with President Putin's unprovoked illegal entry and illegal annexation of Crimea. And the policy of the

United States at that time was that we didn't recognize it and we were going to work to undo it.

And that was where we were at the time, that's where the world was at the time that President Putin decided to invade Ukraine. So, the annexation as

far as the United States is concerned, is still illegal, as far as the world is concerned. It's a violation of international law, and that's where

we are.

And President Zelenskyy and others have been very clear about what their attitude is about the current situation with respect to Crimea and Donetsk

and Luhansk and the rest of the Russian invasion.

NEWTON: And yet Vladimir Putin still had the audacity to continue to invade Ukraine, and he's trying to take more territory at this hour. I'm wondering

how you view the latest developments in Russia given what has happened with Prigozhin and what it tells you about Putin as leader in Russia going


KERRY: I think it's very obvious to everybody that's deeply disturbing, and I don't think it necessarily advances President Putin's position in Russia

itself. But we'll see where we go.

NEWTON: I do want to talk about what's going on in the Republican campaign. You spoke in your speech, in fact about a new breed of deniers. I want you

to listen now to a GOP candidate, Vivek Ramaswamy, who was very honest, perhaps in terms of where, if he was elected president, what he would do

about climate. Listen.


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--


RAMASWAMY: Is a hoax.

HUTCHINSON: That is ridiculous, this is ridiculous. This is ridiculous.

RAMASWAMY: The climate agenda is a hoax and we have to declare independence from it.

HUTCHINSON: Whoa, whoa--

RAMASWAMY: 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.

BRET BAIER, FOX ANCHOR: Governor Haley, are you--

RAMASWAMY: (inaudible) down by 98%.

BAIER: Hold on, hold on.


NEWTON: There was some booing, but there was also applause. And you know as well as I do that he is tapping into an element of American thought there,

they see their gas prices rising and they're wondering, and they look at national security and what has happened with the invasion of Ukraine and

wondering why aren't we making sure that we continue to drill and continue to have that secure, safe supply of fossil fuels.


KERRY: Well, obviously, I'm not going to get into the Republican primary or the presidential race at all. But I'll just say that, you know, this is an

affliction around the world where science and facts are being ignored or downright, you know, discredited by people who don't have any facts or any

legitimacy to be able to say what they're saying. And the reality is that we lose about 8 million people a year to the bad air quality that comes

from the pollution, which we all know exists. And that pollution of greenhouse gas pollution, of methane, and of CO2 and otherwise we know,

goes into the atmosphere.

We measure it, this is all scientific. And in my speech yesterday in Edinburgh, I talked about the battle 300 years ago, for science to be

recognized and for decisions to be made according to that science. You know, it is science, and our willingness to commit to intelligent

investment that helped us produce the vaccine for the pandemic.

Now, we still have people that don't believe in that. I know my daughter is a physician, she told me about people who pleaded with them, pleaded with

her to give her the vaccine when it was too late and they were on their deathbed in the hospital. So, I have to just say that we still are in a

fight, that's what I said in the speech for the truth.

And the truth is that the climate crisis is caused by unabated fossil fuel burning, the burning of fossil fuels. And the emissions go up and create a

blanket over the planet and the atmosphere, and that contains the heat and it's getting hotter and hotter.

This is measured all around the world. There are people who are moving refugees because of this heat, and the proof is just so clear for what is

happening. So, Americans--

NEWTON: But then why--

KERRY: Are wise about this.

NEWTON: But then why does--

KERRY: We will--

NEWTON: But does why -- But then why does this GOP candidate find currency among Americans --


NEWTON: When he talking about climate being a hoax?

KERRY: I can't speak to that and I'm not going to speak to that, I'm simply going to tell you that the vast majority of Americans understand the

climate crisis is here. It is real, it is costing lives today. There are-- ask the people in the island states, what's happening to their nation

states that are being washed away.

Ask people who suffered from increased rainfall that comes from the increased moisture that comes from the increased warming of the ocean,

that's science. We know this is happening, and I think the vast majority of Americans are 100% committed to thinking about the science, acting on the


The vast majority of Americans know the climate crisis is here, and they want leaders to lead us to be able to deal with that crisis. It is

existential, it matters to the future generations more than anybody on the planet, and we need to be responsible to them and make the right decisions

and implement them now.

Now, here's the important thing. This is more jobs, this is a winner with respect to the economy and all around the world. People are now, you know,

the fastest growing job in America a couple -- few years ago was a wind power technician. Third fastest growing job was solar panel installer.

Right in America, we are seeing massive boost to our economy. The Inflation Reduction Act --

NEWTON: Mm-hmm.

KERRY: That President Biden has passed is an incredible boost for our economy, and most of the money is going without politics into allegedly red

states. The way politics is divided, the states of our country, but people are being put to work and our economy is soaring and our unemployment rate

is the envy of people around the world.

So, I think we're doing an extraordinary job right now, moving in the way that we ought to be. And I think President Biden has helped to create the

greatest momentum we've ever had in moving in the right direction on the climate crisis.

NEWTON: Mm-hmm. And Secretary John Kerry, we will leave it there for now. Thanks so much for your time.

KERRY: Thank you.


NEWTON: And we have this news just into CNN, Russian investigators say they've recovered 10 bodies and the flight recorders from a plane crash

believed to have killed Wagner boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin. We are live from Kyiv when we come back.



NEWTON: So, new developments in the plane crash that presumably killed Wagner boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin, outside Moscow on Wednesday. Russian

officials say they've recovered 10 bodies and DNA analysis is being conducted to confirm their identities. Also, the flight recorder has now

been recovered. Our Melissa Bell is following all of this from Kyiv and she joins us now.

And Melissa, you know, this investigation obviously touted by President Putin yesterday, in terms of being seen to the end and being an important

part of this, how much credibility do we put into the investigation being conducted at this hour?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, we also heard today, Paula, from Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, talking about the fact that what

had been speculated upon by the West had essentially been lies. Also, speaking about the fact that we needed to wait for this investigation to be

completed. What we know so far is that those investigators, the investigative committee, has now retrieved black boxes, DNA evidence is

also going to be looked at.

So far, really what we've had officially beyond those words from Vladimir Putin on Thursday were from the aviation authority, the manifests that

expl-- that showed that the 10 passengers on board, one of those flights included, the -- if Yevgeny Prigozhin himself. Now, the suggestion is that

we need to wait till this investigation, which is being carried out at centers both in Moscow and St Petersburg needs to come back with a

definitive proof that his DNA has been found and confirmed that he was on board.

Still, the widespread belief is that he was indeed on board. Although, of course, remember if Yevgeny Prigozhin was a man, and we remember this from

the raid on his home in St Petersburg with many passports.

He'd been declared dead in the past. He was a master of disguise. He was someone who was used to looking after his own survival and making sure he

was not in the wrong place at the wrong time. But given the circumstances, and again, we're speaking two months after the event of his, in the end,

Turnaround March on Moscow.

The understanding is the expectation was that at some point this would catch up with him. And this appears to be what has happened specifically

when you consider the words of Vladimir Putin, only yesterday, speaking of his condolences to his family, the long time that they'd known each other

for speaking of the presumably deceased Yevgeny Prigozhin is someone who had fine qualities, but also, these faults that he spoke of still.

Now, that these key pieces of evidence have been extracted, we will get an official statement about whether or not the DNA conclusively shows that

this was that of Yevgeny Prigozhin. I think more importantly now, we're watching and seeing the Russian State, now filling in the gaps that he's

left behind.

Already we're hearing, Paula, that a deputy, Russian Defense Minister has been to Libya this last week to speak with authorities there about filling

in the breach and taking over Wagner operations. We know that that decree has been published today, calling for Wagner soldiers now to pledge an oath

to the Russian Army.

So, very quickly, and even as we await these actual facts and evidence from this investigative committee, we are watching the takeover of what had been


NEWTON: Mm-hmm.

BELL: Yevgeny Prigozhin's organization, Paula.

NEWTON: Mm-hmm. And Melissa Bell for us in Kyiv as the sirens are blaring there, a reminder of everything that's at stake as this investigation

continues. Melissa Bell for us, thanks so much, really appreciate it. And still to come for us, does anyone stand a chance against Trump for the

Republican nomination, the one and only John King joins us to break down state of the race.



NEWTON: And welcome back. It is an image that will go down in history, that there the mugshot of former President Donald Trump, as he surrendered at

the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta, on charges relating to attempts to reverse Georgia's 2020 election results. Now, he was notably absent from

the first Republican primary debate.

That was earlier in the week, but this is important here. It still drew an average of more than 12 million viewers despite his absence. So, we ask

where does the Republican race stand now? Joining me now to discuss all of this is CNN's Chief National Correspondent John King, he's focusing his

reporting on the all important voters in battleground states in what is, drum roll please?

His 10th presidential cycle, and he joins me now from Washington. That is emphasis is meant for experience and wisdom, not age, John, I assure you.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a mix of both, it's a mix of both.

NEWTON: And we call you here the magic wall maestro, but now you're also going to be our campaign whisperer. So please, tell us Donald Trump

arrested and booked mugshot already on mugs, right? And T-shirts.

So far, the former president's legal troubles. In fact, they've only pumped money and popularity into his campaign. Is this set to continue, do you


KING: Well, we should always be careful, we don't know the answer. Is it set to continue? But everything in the rear view mirror tells us, yes,

because Donald Trump, time and time again from things that would take anybody down, most people down, he benefits somehow.

That is the upside down gravity defying political world Donald Trump has lived in. Imagine a politician in any, if you're watching around the world,

imagine a politician in your country who had four criminal indictments against them and had been processed four times just in recent months, would

that person be the leading candidate of their political party for the next Prime Minister's race or the next presidential race?

Imagine if it was a corporate CEO in any big company around the world, wouldn't that person at least be asked to step aside, take a leave of

absence until they could go to court and prove their innocence? But for Donald Trump, Paula, you're right. At least for now, in the short term,

it's important. We say in the short term, will this help him If he's the nominee against Joe Biden?

That's a different argument, but in the short term, with his Republican base and his standing in the polls right now, he is actually benefiting and

raising money by presenting himself not as a defendant, not as an inmate, but as a victim and a martyr.

NEWTON: Now, I want to go back to the debate. We just talked about the ratings there. Does that -- because should we read anything into that? And

I will get to the polls in a moment, just want to get your take after that debate and seeing that almost 13 million people watched.

KING: Yeah. Look, Republican voters, I think all Americans should be interested in the next presidential cycle. You would hope that people are

engaged in the next big election, even if that's not your party, right? Even if you know you're going to vote for Democrat. The Republican -- the

numbers are interesting, it's about half the numbers of Donald Trump's first debate back in 2015, when he was launching his hostile takeover of

the Republican Party.


KING: But we do know, Paula, about half of the Republican party is looking for somebody else. And a lot of Trump voters watch that debate as well. I'm

in touch with a lot of Trump voters, a lot of them watched it because they, like most of these candidates, in their view, they're looking who's going

to be Trump's vice president or who might be in a second Trump cabinet.

But I do think it does show significantly that there's interest in the race, even though in the Republican contest right now, Trump has a very

formidable, not impossible to break, but very hard to break lead.

NEWTON: Yeah. And we certainly have to remember that when we look at these next poll numbers from Washington Post and Ipsos (sp?), and they asked

debate watchers, which of the following Republican candidates for president are you considering voting for in the primary?

So, DeSantis up five Trump. This is interesting here, down three, obviously you just said he has a huge lead. Governor Haley, 29 up to 46. When you

look at these numbers, John, what do they say to you?

KING: It says to me that in this first debate, and this is reinforced by our conversations with the voters, we're keeping track of Governor Haley

made a very good impression.

She helped herself in this debate. Governor DeSantis, especially with his first answer when he talked about America in decline, made an economic case

against Joe Biden. Governor DeSantis helped himself in this debate. Senator Scott, it was more of a mixed bag for him, and that's, you know, for him,

disappointment because he was starting to move up a bit in Iowa will see if he can recover.

Vice President Pence moved up a little bit, you know, a little bit, the question for him is, you know, never Trump voters don't like him. Trump

voters don't like him because he turned the president. Ramaswamy is a Trump-like dynamic in the Republican party. He appeals to the same MAGA


Will he win the nomination with Donald Trump in the race? Absolutely not. He's 38 years old though, Paula, he's making an investment in the future

and in the back of his mind, hoping maybe, even though he'll never say this publicly, maybe one of these legal cases does take Trump off the playing


NEWTON: Yeah, it was interesting here just how much time you even got in that debate and to show us some more numbers from a post debate poll here,

we see, they were asked, how favorable is your opinion of each of the following presidential candidates. You see there DeSantis going up, Trump

going down, Haley again, jump there.

And also, Ramaswamy, a bit of a jump there. You know, many are already predicting that no one that we see there has a chance, except Donald Trump.

What do you think? Do you see some room there?

KING: Room, yes, but look at the photo you see there. We could roll back the tape seven years and you would have Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio and Ted

Cruz and John Kasick and Rand Paul.

If we continue to have this conversation for weeks and weeks and months, just months, really, if we get to March and we're still talking about four

or five or six Trump challengers, well then we will have a repeat most likely of 2016 where Trump wins, because he is in a much stronger position

now than he was then and the crowded field benefited him.

He could win a state with 28, 29%. Some states, 35%. Republican party rule say if you win, no matter what your margin, even if you only get 27%, you

get all the delegates in most of the Republican primaries. So, Trump is set up again for a repeat of 2016. If the field stays crowded, he's unbeatable.

So, that's the challenge. We're having this conversation today, it's about 140 days till Iowa votes. By then, have six or seven of these candidates

stepped aside. Are there only one or two left? Can one or two of them find the magic to be an alternative a real strong alternative to Donald Trump,

or does he do the same thing again, just run to the nomination over a crowded field?

NEWTON: Yeah. And it will be interesting then if the field does narrow, if Donald Trump decides he is going to actually attend a debate. I want to get

now to some of your conversations with voters here. And I was so interested in this, John. This ran a little while ago, you can still see it in This is a Trump voter speaking to you about these legal cases.



CHRIS MUDD, IOWA REPUBLICAN VOTER: Why are they attacking him so hard? Why are they going after this guy so hard? Does everybody really believe that

everything that happened was exactly the way that the government's laying it out today? I don't.


NEWTON: You know, John, that explains so much, especially when you've already reminded us that going head-to-head with Joe Biden and Donald

Trump, that's what people are looking towards. What is it in that opinion? What are you hearing from voters on this?

KING: So, remember when Trump was president, why all these 5:00 AM tweets attacking the government, attacking the FBI, attacking the establishment,

attacking the courts. Trump is now cashing in on that investment, an investment that made no sense to many of us.

He has created this doubt in his base, in his voters, and it is widespread. And that man right there, Chris Mudd, is a successful businessman. These

are not Democrats, sometimes think these are uneducated, deplorables was the term Hillary Clinton used once, these are anchors of these communities.

He has a business that's hiring his family, runs an advertising business that employs nearly a hundred people in a Midwestern town that has

struggled in the past 20 years.

They're anchors of their communities, they're hiring their churchgoers, they raise money for the Girl Scouts, and they believe this stuff in part

because Donald Trump has told them he is under attack and they believe the FBI's not fair. How did Hillary Clinton get off easy?

What about Hunter Biden? You know, there's something to some of that, but most of it is not just Trump, Trump and the MAGA like conservative media

ecosphere here in the United States has convinced them. They hear it every day that Trump is not being treated fairly and they believe it to their

core, Paula.


NEWTON: Yeah, it is so interesting, again, as we see that equivalence as well when they look at investigations into Hunter Biden and they kind of

see it as the same thing. And that also says the same for the documents, because the documents investigation--

KING: Without a doubt.

NEWTON: With the president not over yet.

Another fascinating point here, which will really be a striking for our international viewers, want you to listen now to you talking to people of

voters in Iowa about Ukraine and U.S.'s financial backing of Ukraine. Listen.


KING: If you think the United States should be supporting Ukraine in the fight against Putin, raise your hand. Nobody.

ROB MUDD, CHRIS MUDD'S BROTHER: You don't have to be that smart to put the, connect the dots, right? And so are, is the war to cover up sins committed

so you can cover your tracks. There's too much money that's been thrown over there.

KING: You think all the NATO countries would do what Biden told them to do because he's trying to cover up some Hunter Biden business deal by s--

MUDD: It all depends on how Zelenskyy, how much dirt he has on Biden to keep the money coming.


NEWTON: I mean, wow, John, you made it clear. Do you really believe that all NATO countries are complicit in some Biden conspiracy, and yet that's

what you heard back from these voters? If your President's Zelenskyy right now, if you're the Biden administration, how nervous are you about that


KING: Well, if you're President Zelenskyy, you should understand that if a Republican wins the next U.S. presidential election, your support is

definitely in trouble. Definitely in trouble because the Republican base, now, there's a big fight in the party about this and Nikki Haley says, no,

we have to stand by Ukraine.

You know, some of the other Republican candidates say, no, we need to stand by Ukraine. But if a Trump like candidate wins or if Trump wins, then it is

a giant question of whether the United States will stand by Ukraine. And again, that's not just Trump that Rob Mudd, the businessman you saw earlier

in the piece is Chris Mudd.

That's his brother Rob. And again, he's a decent, wonderful human being, he's a pillar in his community. He believes this stuff. Why? That's like a

Tucker Carlson opening. There are a lot of pro-Putin apologists in the conservative American media, and so they want to come up with any other

excuse than Russia stormed into a democratic country and is trying to steal a democratic sovereign nation.

They want to come up with any other reason for that. And so, because Hunter Biden did have business dealings in Ukraine, that's where they are in this

conversation, Paula, and again, these voters have been, they just don't trust, they don't trust establishing politicians, they don't trust

establishment media.

So, they hear these things and they start to believe them. They're not true, we know them not to be true, but it is -- this is deep. This is not a

few people, this is deep out there and they question authority and establishment, so it's hard to get them back, if you will.

So, there is no question that the U.S. support for Ukraine is one of the giant uncertainties as we head into the presidential election.

NEWTON: Yeah, John don't have a lot of time left, but that the Republican debate did in fact chew through a a lot of tough issues. One of them was

abortion, I want you to listen now to a quick snippet again from the voters you spoke to.


KING: Have they ever voted for Democrat, for president or anything?


KING: Heavens no. Why?

MCGAFFEY: Oh no, there's -- no -- abortion and -- no, there's too many things you've got to at least have -- when you've got babies, you've got to

give them a chance to grow up and then commit crimes if they need to. But you've got to have -- they have to have the chance to grow up. They have to

have the chance.

KING: So --

MCGAFFEY: You never know who's going to be, who that's going to be.


NEWTON: Moderates are trying to get in there and the Republican party on an issue like that, how much do you think abortion, other issues like that

will be front and center for the campaign?

KING: Think about the way the process works.

The first votes are in Iowa, big evangelical, reliable voters in the Iowa caucuses. So, the candidates tend to attack right, tend to try to appeal to

Lisa McGaffey, those who are adamantly anti-abortion. Anytime, anytime, a lot of other Republicans say, you know, even if I believe that, look at the

last couple of election cycles, look at what has happened in American politics since Roe v. Wade was wiped out by the Dobbs' decision.

Abortion rights forces are winning. Democratic forces are winning on that issue. So, it's a fascinating case, Paula, as we go through the nominating

season. Do Republicans attack right --

NEWTON: Mm-hmm.

KING: To win the nomination, but does that then leave them in --

NEWTON: Mm-hmm.

KING: A much more difficult position when they have to sell --

NEWTON: Mm-hmm.

KING: Themselves in America's suburbs which decide those elections?

NEWTON: Right. It's a fascinating thing to watch. Wow, we got through a lot of material there. I feel like I've got a good handle on this race right

now. John King for us, thanks so much, really appreciate it.

KING: Thank you. Let's do it again.

NEWTON: Now, when we come back, I speak with Jason Isbell, the Nashville musician, writing songs about guns, abortion, and race.



NEWTON: And welcome back. If you've never heard of American Roots Musician, Jason Isbell, he and his band, the 400 Unit, our who Bruce Springsteen

listens to when he wants to rock out to some tough American troops. Isbell is a multiple Grammy award-winning singer and songwriter whose records

regularly top those billboard charts.

Now, his new album is Weather Veins. Here's a clip from the current single, Death Wish.




NEWTON: Now, when I spoke to Isbell, I asked him to introduce himself to anyone who's not yet exposed to his brutally honest storytelling set to a

timeless rock and roll beat.


JASON ISBELL, MUSICIAN: Jason Isbell, I'm from Alabama. I live in Nashville, right outside of Nashville, and I'm married to a songwriter-

singer named Amanda Shires.

She's a violinist, but she's also a songwriter and we help each other out. We help each other edit and, you know, if I write a song and she doesn't

like, she tells me she doesn't like it and I have to go start over and that kind of thing. And then I have a band called The 400 Unit that backs me up.

And it's rock and roll music, but it's song driven, so, you know, so storytelling, because my work and my life are very closely intertwined, you

know, and I sort of have this overarching goal of just documenting my own life and what it's like to attempt to grow as an individual and as an


NEWTON: And let's get to some of those Alabama influences. I mean, the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section turned out. I mean, we're talking Aretha

Franklin, we're talking the Staple singers, the Rolling Stones. How do you describe that influence in your music today?

ISBELL: It was really formative for me because I got to know a lot of the people who played on those records and worked on those records when I was a


I spent a lot of time around David Hood and Spooner Oldham and Donnie Fritts, and a lot of the people who made a lot of the R&B or the country or

the rock and roll music that came out of those studios. I was very lucky, you know, because I had people who had enough experience with being a

professional musician, but they weren't the star of the show and you know, so they were still living in their hometown.

They were still out playing in bars and restaurants on the weekends. But it was great for me and my friends because we could just go and watch these

people play and they were, you know, playing in cover bands, but a lot of them had played on the original versions of the songs that they were


And they were really willing to, you know, give us advice and get us up to play with them when we were old enough and ready. And yeah, it was a really

valuable thing for me. Very much so.


NEWTON: I want to talk to you about Weather Veins. So, Weather Veins is your latest relief and when I say you're prolific, I don't think people

quite understand how prolific you've been, even just in, in the last decade. Some of what people may pick up on or things going on in their own

lives, and also controversial topics.

Culture, war topics, political topics, you know, you'd one (sp?) in White Beretta, this was a difficult story for you personally.


JASON ISBELL: (SINGS "White Beretta")


NEWTON: Why did you decide to sing and write about something that was so personal in your life?

ISBELL: Because it was a difficult story for me, you know? Then I knew I had to do it.

NEWTON: And what was it about?

ISBELL: That's my rule. My rule is if something's hard to admit, then you have to put it in the song because that's how you make people feel like,

you know, a secret about them.

You know, the song was about a terminated pregnancy that happened when I was really young. In my, you know, in my relationship. And as an adult,

knowing what I know now, I look back and I regret that I couldn't -- that I wasn't more supportive because I was scared, you know? And so, I'm

basically going back in the song and I'm trying to make amends for not being the type of partner that I wish I could have been.

And like my songs, I committed a while back to being as honest as possible in these songs. Because I think that has value to me and to the audience.

So, if you're going to do that, then you have to write the stuff that's hard.

NEWTON: But it's also risky. Why did you decide to take that risk in your music?

ISBELL: It's not as risky for me, you know? I mean, what is the risk really?

NEWTON: A backlash.

ISBELL: Yeah. But what's that? You know, are they going to stop streaming my music? They're already listening for free. And it -- the people who get

angry about these things are the people who I fundamentally disagree with, you know? And so, I would like to continue to make them angry because I

disagree with them on a fundamental level.

Now, if the person who I'm describing in White Beretta had a problem with it, then I would feel bad. Then I would feel like, okay, I didn't tell this

story the right way, you know? But I've talked to that person. She had no problem with it, she thought it was a beautiful song. So outside of that,

there's really zero risk.

NEWTON: And I guess when it comes to that, that was the only approval you really needed.

ISBELL: That was it, that was it. That was the only one.

NEWTON: I do want to go back to something that you said about a privilege and that's an song. It wasn't from Weather Veins, it was earlier, it was

White Man's World. An earlier album.


JASON ISBELL: (SINGS "White Man's World")


NEWTON: That Nashville sound again is really pertinent here. And why? Because you must feel that privilege. Even where you live now, right?


NEWTON: Just south in Nashville.

ISBELL: Yeah, totally. And I feel like if you have that, you know, it's so much easier for me to get a song, you know, some traction somewhere like

Nashville than it is for my wife to do it, even if the song is equally as good.

It's difficult. I mean, look at the country charts right now. There are, I think there are zero solo women in the top 10 right now. I think there's

one duet, maybe with like Kane Brown and his wife, I think. But I don't think there are any solo women in the top 10 country charts right now.

NEWTON: And what's that about?

ISBELL: Well, they have to fit into a certain space, right? So, basically it's like this, if you have a machine, you hit a button, money comes out,

right? Let's say a 20 comes out, you know, you're just going to keep hitting the button. But if there's other buttons on the machine, they

might, a 50 might come out if you hit a different button.

But they're not going to stop long enough to check, they're going to keep hitting the same one. So, they keep making the same formula happen over and

over and over. That's the stuff that gets promoted. That's the stuff that goes on the charts. And women don't fit into that formula. You know, that

formula's come out of what they call Bro-country, and it trades on the concept of masculinity, you know, and you see it all over the charts.

NEWTON: Misogyny.

ISBELL: Yeah, misogyny. And I mean, the misogyny is in the system. The masculinity is in the message of the songs, the songs might not necessarily

trade in misogyny, but the system does. The songs trade in the idea of a woman has a plot device or a woman as either pining for a man or over a

man, or all these little boxes. There's about a half a dozen of them that you can fit into.


ISBELL: You can write a song about one of these six things, and it can be a country song and you can be a woman and it might find some traction, but

then you got to go and you got to do these radio tours. And at these radio tours, you have to go talk to all the people that make the playlists, all

the people that produce the radio shows, and you got to be real nice to them.

And sometimes they put their hands on you and sometimes they hug you for a little too long and sometimes they make little jokes and they say, oh, I'm

sorry. And sometimes they send you an email the next day to say, hey, I'm really sorry about that. But you still have to do it. And so, you see

people like Kacey Musgraves, Maren Morris, abandoning the Country genre altogether because there's no place for them.

They have to write a song that's about a handful of things. They only get this many choices, and then they have to go around and they have to kiss

the ass of every white dude at every radio station for months before they ever start making any money.

Why? Why would they do that?

NEWTON: Well, what you're saying is highly contentious though, and it seems to kind of condemn all of country music. I mean, what do you think?

ISBELL: It's just true, I didn't make it up.

NEWTON: One thing I do want to get to is the song Save the World. That was so visceral, and I think so many parents can relate to that. This is about

you not really wanting your daughter to be in danger when she goes to school. She's quite young.


JASON ISBELL: (SINGS "Save the World")


NEWTON: And it's about gun violence in America.

ISBELL: Yeah, it was tough. It was tough to write because, you know, you have to come at it from your own perspective and my perspective there is

just a parent who is afraid, you know? And it would be much easier for me to pretend that I'm angry, but the truth of it is, I'm afraid.

And, you know, being in public places, being in crowded areas, you know, thinking about sending my daughter to school, all these things scare me a

lot. And one thing that scares me is the why. You know, why do people do these things? Why does this happen? But before that is the how, how are

they able to do it?

You know? And I think a lot of folks that are trying to come to terms with the gun violence issue without coming to terms with the gun issue, you

know, they're trying to deal with the why before they deal with the how. I think, you know, what we need to do is make it impossible first, and then

once we've done that, let's figure out what's causing people to get to this point and help them out maybe with their mental health.

NEWTON: You know, another man named Jason, he had quite a different political message recently.


NEWTON: This is Jason Aldean who became, you know, he became a conservative icon really --


NEWTON: With a different political message. I mean, the song was Try That in a Small Town.


JASON ALDEAN: (SINGS "Try That in a Small Town")


NEWTON: What do you make of that? Because it does show even Nashville itself, being that frontline of a culture war?

ISBELL: Yeah. Well, I mean, I can't think of anything more American than culture war, first of all. I mean, that's really all we've ever done is

fight with ourselves since the beginning. But Jason Aldean, his song, you know, he didn't write that, a bunch of other people wrote that and then

they gave it to them to sing it.

But cussing out a cop or stomping on the flag, you know, those things are protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States,

lynching people for doing those things is not protected by the Constitution of United States. Who's a better patriot now?

NEWTON: I do want to talk to you about some of your other projects and one of them being Martin Scorsese's latest movie, but in a different context.


NEWTON: I mean, in the movie making process, how did that inform your music, if at all? Maybe that's --

ISBELL: It did. Yeah, it did. Yeah, because I came back and I produced my own record after that with my band. And this is something I haven't done in

over a decade. But I felt like I could go in sort of egoless and do the job without feeling like I needed to prove that I was a producer or anything

else, and just serve the material and the songs

Because, you know, when Scorsese was on the film set, you know, he was out there every day, you know, and it's 95 degrees and he's not a young man,

and he is out there working and I noticed, you know, he doesn't go out there as Martin Scorsese greatest film director of all time. He goes out

there as a man trying to tell a story and whatever gets him from point A to point B, he's willing to do it, you know, and so it was nice to sort of

realize that that type of confidence is possible to be really, truly confident enough with your vision that you can let other people in.


ISBELL: And I think that caused us to have a really good time in the studio and make a better record for it.

NEWTON: Jason Isbell, thank you so much.

ISBELL: Thank you, I enjoyed it.

NEWTON: Appreciate it.


NEWTON: So many layers to that conversation. Now, earlier we heard Jason Isbell songs Save the World. Jason was kind enough to play it for us in an

extraordinary acoustic performance. Here it is now, I want to thank you for watching. I'm Paula Newton, goodbye from New York.


JASON ISBELL: (SINGS "Save the World")