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At This Hour

President Biden Calls For War Crimes Trial Against Putin; Holocaust Survivor, Who Fled Nazis As A Baby, Now Flees Russians; Grammy Presenters Mock Will Smith's Shocking Slap. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired April 04, 2022 - 11:30   ET



JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. But he's got a good reason to go back, which is the signature accomplishment domestically of Barak Obama's administration, which was the Affordable Care Act, as you mentioned, 12 years old.

And this is an Act that, of course, Republicans fiercely resisted and then tried to eliminate when Donald Trump and a Republican Congress took power in 2017. They failed to do that. And Joe Biden since becoming president, for all the talk about unsuccessful legislative efforts and domestic policy efforts that he's made this, has been a big success, strengthening ObamaCare. He's done it in multiple ways.

First of all, in terms of enrollment, he's expanded enrollment, which was in particularly there are -- particularly high-demand for that during the pandemic. And now as a result of the most recent enrollment period, 14 and a half million Americans are signed up for care under those marketplaces under Obamacare, that's more than ever during Obama's presidency.

They've also, through the American Rescue Plan, expanded subsidies to make it easier for people to purchase ObamaCare policies. And they are preparing this week to unveil something called a family glitch. They're having a regulatory fix, which makes more families eligible for expanded subsidies. Now, passing the Build Back Better or some version of it is essential for continuing some of these -- some of this progress because the ObamaCare subsidies will expire after 2022.

But the President's hoping to revive that, to expand those subsidies, also to add 2 million people under Medicaid in the states that haven't expanded. So this has been fertile territory for President Biden so far, and his former boss, President Obama wants to come to celebrate that with him tomorrow. KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Interesting. It's good to see you, John. Thank you. Coming up still for us. A new level of brutality coming out of Ukraine, President Biden now calling for a war crimes trial against Vladimir Putin, what will that take and what can be done in the meantime? That's next.



BOLDUAN: Ukraine's president wants to -- wants the world to see what happened in Bucha. President Zelenskyy visited the town outside Kyiv today where we've discussed scores of civilians who have been killed, many of them buried in a mass grave. The bodies of civilians killed execution-style, some with their hands bound, scattered on the streets once occupied by Russian forces.

Joining me now and what this means is Ambassador Stephen Rapp. He's a former U.S. ambassador at large for war crimes issues. He's now a Distinguished Fellow for the -- in the prevention of genocide at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Ambassador, thank you for coming back in. You have, unfortunately, seen some of the worst of humanity in your time working on war crimes. You saw these images coming out and what did you think?

STEPHEN J. RAPP, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR-AT-LARGE FOR WAR CRIMES ISSUES: Well, they're reminiscent of images that we had in Bosnia, and the former Yugoslavia, that we've had in Syria. Certainly, we've all been watching over the last six weeks the horrendous bombardment from the air, a pattern of attacks on civilian targets that really is a war crime.

But here, as I think a lot of us suspected, we're seeing the really brutal interpersonal part of it, the kind of punishment, the kind of terrorization meted out against the civilian population that doesn't want to be subjugated that people are tortured for information, raped in order to humiliate them, and then -- and then murdered on the street on their bicycles or waffling in their -- in their automobile.

BOLDUAN: President Zelenskyy went to Bucha today and when he was there, he was talking about that -- he said, what the Russians did is genocide. President Biden this morning, he was asked if it was genocide, he said it is a war crime, but he does not think it is genocide. The crime of genocide is difficult to prove, Ambassador, why?

RAPP: Well, it requires an intent to destroy people an ethnic or racial or religious group in the whole or substantial part. And crimes that occur in specific areas where people are killed that were in other areas, they're not killed. You don't have a sufficient pattern to show that intent. So we think of genocide is a -- as a crime that's very hard to prove.

And even in the former Yugoslavia, it was only at Srebrenica, where genocide was proven. So it -- certainly, you can understand those that are victimized seeing this is the kind of crime of crimes, but we should make clear that these sort of mass crimes committed against the civilian population are also atrocities. They are crimes against humanity, if they're -- if they're focused on the civilian population. They're also war crimes, to attack anyone that's not fighting you actively in the battle, even to torture or to kill a soldier who was -- who was a prisoner.

And so these are atrocity crimes as well, and are violations of International Law and can be prosecuted in the International Criminal Court or in the kind of courts that we've established for specific situations like Yugoslavia or Rwanda, or could be prosecuted potentially, and in the countries -- in third countries, even in the United States, if one of the perpetrators were to show up here in the future.


BOLDUAN: No, I also found it interesting and wanted to get your take. Zelenskyy, when he was in Bucha, he also said that after this -- he said, it's going to be very difficult to negotiate when you see what they have done here. How are -- how and even can the Ukrainians sit at a negotiating table with the Russians now after this? What does your experience tell you?

RAPP: Well, it's very difficult. Obviously, we've had successful negotiations after the horrors of Bosnia even within the very year of the Srebrenica massacre and genocide, the murder of 8000 men and boys in eastern Bosnia, within four months, there was a negotiation at Dayton that ended that conflict.

On the other hand, it was important that there'll be justice, and eventually, President Milosevic himself was charged for two years to bring him to the Hague, he died before his trial was complete, but certainly would have been convicted. And then it took longer because they run the run and were in hiding to bring to trial people like Karadzic, the political leader of the Bosnian Serb forces, and Mladic, the general who was in charge that took 16 years and then another 10 to finish the trial and the appeal.

On the other hand, I think the message has to be very clear that when you commit crimes like this, there's no rest in this life and the world will continue to pursue you until your dying day. And it's important, however, to begin the investigation now and to get out arrest warrants and to begin that process but it's essential that people know that it will happen.

BOLDUAN: And it may take a very long time, though. Ambassador, it's always good to have you. Thank you very much. So throughout this war, we have been seeing heartbreaking images, of course, of the assault on another city as well, Kharkiv, a Ukrainian city just over the border from Russia. The devastation there has pushed tens of thousands of people from their homes, including an 82-year-old Holocaust survivor, who is now a refugee for the second time. CNN's Salma Abdelaziz has her story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER (voiceover): This is the moment, Margaryta Zatuchna says she finally felt safe, welcomed by her Jewish community in Kracow.

MARGARYTA ZATUCHNA, FLED KHARKIV, UKRAINE: I am presented with so good flowers and it was -- it smells very well.

ABDELAZIZ: We sat down to hear the story from twice a survivor.

ZATUCHNA: I was born in 1940. And when the war with Germany began, I was only one year and a half.

ABDELAZIZ: In 1941, her family fled their home in Kharkiv, where Nazis murdered an estimated 16,000 Jews. She later returned, grew up, and grew old in peacetime. That is until Russian troops invaded, bombing and besieging Kharkiv.

ZATUCHNA: Speaking a foreign language.

ABDELAZIZ: There was no water or power. We couldn't buy food. It was impossible to live. She says. There was explosion after explosion, a real war.

ZATUCHNA: Speaking a foreign language.

ABDELAZIZ: Not even a monument that honors the city's Holocaust victims escaped Moscow's so-called the not suffocation campaign, but Margarita stayed to care for her sick husband Valerii as long as she could.

ZATUCHNA: Speaking a foreign language.

ABDELZIZ: An explosion blew out all our windows she says. After that shock, he grew weaker and weaker. After nearly a month of the war, Valerii passed away, his body still lies in a morgue. There are no funerals because of the fighting. Now, at age 82, the Holocaust survivor knew it was time to go, packed only what she could carry, and fled her birthplace.

ZATUCHNA: It is very difficult when my beautiful town where I lived all my life is destroyed.

ABDELAZIZ: A driver picked up Margaryta in this vehicle, damaged in an earlier attack. For two days, they traveled out of Kharkiv and across dangerous territory to Lviv.

ZATUCHNA: It is a really hard road.

ABDELAZIZ: From there, she boarded an ambulance and was ferried into Poland. We were tracking her evacuation and met her at the border crossing. Hi, welcome to Poland. But Margaryta still has further to go. She wants to join her brother in New Jersey.

ZATUCHNA: I was not scared.

ABDELAZIZ (on camera): Where is this bravery from? [11:45:00]

ZATUCHNA: It comes -- it comes alone to us.

ABDELAZIZ (voiceover): Margaryta hopes to return, bury her husband of 40 years and see her beloved city at peace again.


BOLDUAN: Her ability to smile and even chuckle in all that, is amazing as Salma said, twice survivor, amazing. We'll be right back.


BOLDUAN: People are talking about the Grammys today, well, for all the right reasons.


Clip from CBS/Recording studio.



BOLDUAN: It was so good. That's the big winner of the night, John Batiste, the musician best known as bandleader for the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. He is so much more who won five awards including the coveted Album of the Year. His performance of freedom as you're seeing them showcased his music, his dance skills, he's just the full package.

Silk Sonic, led by Bruno Mars and Anderson Park, they won four Grammys, including Record and Song of the Year. And 19-year-old pop singer Olivia Rodrigo won three awards, including Best New artists and Pop Vocal Album. And with any award show, there is also a fair share of jokes and jabs and the Grammys did just that. Grammys host, Trevor Noah and Questlove also taking their part in it. Taking a jab at last week's viral Oscars moment when Will Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock on stage.


TREVOR NOAH, GRAMMYS HOST: We're going to be listening to some music. We're going to be dancing. We're going to be singing, we're going to be keeping people's names out of our mouths, and we're going to be giving out awards all throughout the night.

QUESTLOVE, MUSICIAN: All right, I'm going to present this award and I trust that you people will stay 500 feet away from me.


BOLDUAN: The shocking moment from the Oscars still has Hollywood talking very clearly. You know, Smith resigned from the Film Academy over the weekend as they investigate what they will do that is yet TBD. And this morning, there are now reports that several of Smith's upcoming projects are being put on pause.

Joining me now is Elizabeth Wagmeister, once again, she's the Chief Correspondent of variety and co-host of variety's The Take. Elizabeth, thanks for coming back in. The fact that the Oscars lap is now becoming this reoccurring, I guess now, a joke in some regard from the Grammys to SNL and beyond, it says what to you about this whole thing?

ELIZABETH WAGMEISTER, CHIEF CORRESPONDENT, VARIETY: You know, this says to me that this is now bigger than Will Smith. This is a story that is dominating headlines, not just in America but globally. It would have been bizarre if SNL did not have this be part of their show. And as we saw, it was really part of the show. We saw it come up time and time again. But I think when you look at something like the Grammys, yes, there were some jokes in jabs, but they were very quick.

And I think the Grammys really showed what you want to happen with an award show. They had Zelenskyy on for a really powerful moving speech. And I thought one of the most poignant parts of his speech was when he said that you're all in tuxedos, but we are in armor. So he really took his job seriously. He said, sure, I will make a brief appearance at a night in Hollywood, but only to remind you that while you're sitting here talking about this humanitarian crisis happening in Ukraine while we are here fighting a battle, so let's keep it all in perspective.

BOLDUAN: Yes. I mean, in there -- with the Grammys, it was so many things. I mean, it was also a love letter to live music, which I really enjoyed seeing that a celebration kind of the range of musical talent that's out there. You know, John Batiste, he's such a star. Chris Stapleton is like an entirely human, wonderful acceptance speech. But really also one of the biggest things I think you hit on well is that really sticks out was President Zelenskyy's appearance.

WAGMEISTER: Absolutely. And I think as you said at the beginning of this conversation is the Grammys did really everything for the right reasons. And by the way, the Oscars was doing that up until the Will Smith slap overshadowed the entire ceremony and it really is a shame that it overshadowed so many beautiful moments. I mean, last week at Variety, we had Troy Kotsur on our cover.

And as you said last week, that was one of the highest-rated moments of the show. That is what really should be remembered, not this lap and that I think is why this is such a sticking point. And we are still talking about it because it was such a moment that shouldn't have happened because it just seems so unbelievable. Who would have thought that one of the biggest A-listers in the world would go up and so quite selfishly, take that moment, the biggest moment away from so many who would work so hard?

BOLDUAN: So, Elizabeth, we have Will Smith's resignation from the Academy, the academy is still deciding what more it will do in terms of consequences. But are his upcoming projects being impacted by this?

WAGMEISTER: You know, as of now, some of his projects are on hold. At Netflix, he has an action thriller that was in development called, Fast and Loose, and that has been put on pause. There are also reports that Bad Boys 4 has also hit the pause button. But the key takeaway here which I would like to point out is these have not been canceled, these projects, they have been put on pause. Let's be honest here.

Anytime that Hollywood can make money, they will make money. So I think everyone, the studios that are in business with Will Smith, they are taking a wait-and-see approach. His resignation, to me from my perspective, was step one in his apology tour. Now, it remains to be seen if this will work. He is sort of taking responsibility from his eyes, from his team's eyes but I think the apology tour would have been a lot better if it started by not dancing at the Vanity Fair party.


WAGMEISTER: So I think it remains to be seen if people will accept this from Will Smith. Do they want to let him have a comeback? If they do, then make no mistake, we will see Bad Boys 4 back on screens. That is a franchise that has made over $800 million. So yes, his projects are being put on pause but I don't think that means that Will Smith is being ousted from Hollywood quite yet.

BOLDUAN: It's good to see you, Elizabeth. Thanks for coming back in.

WAGMEISTER: Thanks for having me.

BOLDUAN: Before we go, everybody, a reminder. You can also join me every morning on my new CNN Plus show, 5 Things at 7 a.m. Eastern and always available on demand. You can sign up at Thank you so much for being here today, everybody. I'm Kate Bolduan. CNN's coverage of Russia's war on Ukraine continues with "INSIDE POLITICS" after this break.