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At This Hour

Biden: "I Don't Think" Putin Will Use Nuclear Weapons; Russia Continues Revenge Strikes Across Ukraine; Biden Said He'd Meet With Putin On Griner But Not Ukraine; Biden: Saudi Will Face Consequences Over OPEC; San Antonio Officer Fired After Shooting Teen In Car. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired October 12, 2022 - 11:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. AT THIS HOUR, President Biden talks exclusively to CNN, from Ukraine to the risk of a recession. Much more on that.

Plus the calls to resign growing louder and louder still in Los Angeles. The city council members at the center of a racist scandal are still refusing to step down.

And Brett Favre insists he is the victim of -- he insists now he is the victim of a smear campaign in Mississippi.

This is what we are watching AT THIS HOUR.


BOLDUAN: We begin with CNN's exclusive interview with President Biden. The president responding for the first time about Putin's war in Ukraine since his warning about a nuclear Armageddon. He told Jake Tapper he doesn't believe that Putin will actually use nuclear weapons.

Here's the mistake he believes Putin made upon invading Ukraine.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think he is rational actor who miscalculated significantly.

I think he thought he's going to be welcomed with open arms, that this was -- this has been the home of mother Russia, in Kyiv and he was going to be welcomed and I think he just totally miscalculated.


BOLDUAN: The conversation also touched on Saudi Arabia, Brittney Griner, the economy, even the possibility of criminal charges against the president's son, Hunter. More on that in a moment. Let's start with M.J. Lee. M.J., he doesn't do many sit-down interviews these days.

What are you hearing from there today?

M.J. LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Kate, he really doesn't. This came at such a high-stakes moment both for the president here at home and on the global stage. One thing we saw Jake do is draw the president out a lot on sort of what he sees about Vladimir Putin's current mindset as the attacks across Ukraine continue.

Obviously one of the key lines was when the president said he thinks that Putin is a rational actor who has miscalculated significantly. He also explained what he meant when he recently said he believes he has seen a direct threat of a nuclear war for the first time in 60 years. Take a listen.


BIDEN: What I'm talking about, I'm talking to Putin, he in fact, cannot continue with impunity, to talk about the use of a tactical nuclear weapon, as if that's a rational thing to do. The mistakes get made. And given them -- and the miscalculation could occur. No one can be sure what would happen and it could end in Armageddon.


LEE: The president also just left in the last half hour, to head to the West Coast. One of those questions from the reporters was whether he has seen any movement lately on the Brittney Griner front. He said, not from Putin.

Obviously one of the things he told Jake last night was that he would be willing to meet with Vladimir Putin at the G20 if the Griner issue was something he wanted to discuss. Kate.

BOLDUAN: Good to see you, M.J..

Vladimir Putin is speaking publicly as well, coming after President Biden's biting criticism. He was addressing an energy conference in Moscow, trying to claim he is not to blame for Europe's energy crisis. This as Russian forces continue their revenge strikes across Ukraine today. Fred Pleitgen has the latest.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We are monitoring the speech that Vladimir Putin made at that energy forum in Moscow, to see whether or not he would comment on some of the things that President Biden told Jake Tapper in that interview last night, about still being a rational actor but having grossly miscalculated.

Putin didn't directly do that. He did speak about the attacks on the Nord Stream pipeline. However, the Kremlin did react to that. I want to read what Dmitry Peskov said today.

This is a quote, "Every day that Western heads of state, the U.S. as well as European, practice nuclear rhetoric every day, we consider this a pernicious and provocative practice," he said.

Obviously, the Russians are essentially trying to throw things back at the U.S. and its allies. Of course, the Ukrainians are especially concerned about some of the moves they believe the Kremlin might be making and possible tactical nuclear strikes if the Russians continue to lose.

Here in Kyiv we have a show of defiance in Ukraine. In fact, the area where I'm standing was hit by one of those Russian missile strikes on Monday morning. Five people were killed here. As you can see, the Ukrainians very quick to patch it back up and get traffic rolling again.


PLEITGEN: However, this city does remain under alert. In fact, tonight, we did have several air raid siren alarms and other areas like Zaporizhzhya were also hit.

BOLDUAN: Thank you, Fred.

Joining me now, Dana Bash and Susan Glasser.

Dana, Biden hasn't done many interviews, especially recently.

When it comes to his assessment of Putin and the war, did you see a president confident in the position that the U.S. is maintaining in that conflict there?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: He was a president careful with the position the U.S. is maintaining with regard to Russia, incredibly careful, to the point where, when Jake responded to him or followed up with him on the notion of Putin being a rational actor, Biden was quick not to impugn Putin too much by saying he's -- I'm not saying he's not rational, I'm saying his actions are not rational.

To me, that spoke volumes about Biden being as cautious as he is with understanding. It's very understandable that he is cautious, because you're talking about somebody who has attacked a sovereign nation and also is -- has nuclear weapons.

And the U.S. is concerned, maybe not overly concerned but concerned about Putin playing that card.

BOLDUAN: Susan, I want your take, but first I want to play this.


BIDEN: The whole point I was making was it could lead to just a horrible outcome. And not because anybody intends to turn it into a world war ending but just once you use a nuclear weapon, the mistakes that could be made, the miscalculations, who knows what could happen.


BOLDUAN: You say people should not take that as a comforting thought, why, Susan?

SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Rational is a pretty low bar. Mad men in a way is a cop-out to say Putin went crazy and invaded Ukraine when it's very consistent with Putin's 20 years in office.

Putin has been repeatedly escalating, repeatedly resorting to outrageous use of military forces as a way to achieve political ends. This terror campaign he's waging on the citizens and civilians of Ukraine is very consistent with how Vladimir Putin has waged war throughout his tenure as Russia's leader.

He's waged on his own people in Chechnya in exactly the same way. He did the same in Syria, leveling the city of Aleppo. So it doesn't signify some crazy rupture that Vladimir Putin is doing this.

Putin is holding Ukraine and the rest of the world hostage, which is why I think President Biden is forced to contemplate Armageddon like scenarios with his advisers.

BOLDUAN: And talking whether he would meet with Vladimir Putin, Biden's take was he had no intention unless Putin wanted to speak about releasing wrongly detaining Americans like Brittney Griner. He was asked today about the negotiations over Brittney Griner.


QUESTION: Are you open to a meeting to discuss Brittney Griner?

Have you seen any movement on that front?

BIDEN: Not with Putin.


BOLDUAN: Susan, what is this that he's trying to message here, do you think?

GLASSER: First of all, I would say it's highly unlikely you'll see any meeting between Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden anytime soon, even over a limited subject such as the release of another American hostage, which is what Brittney Griner is.

The reason is that Putin is, right now, acting as a terrorist, as I pointed out. America doesn't negotiate with terrorists. I think it will be hard for Biden to directly engage with Vladimir Putin, given the ways he sort of outraged the international order.

I do think it's important for Biden to be shown politically as someone speaking up for an American citizen.


GLASSER: Griner has essentially become a pawn in this superpower contest. So I think the aggressive efforts by the administration to negotiate, the fact they're speaking publicly, unfortunately, is a sign they're not getting very far in their private efforts. BASH: Maybe I'm reading too much into it, Kate -- and Susan, you can

tell me if it comes dead wrong here -- but the way that he responded, "Not with Putin," I took as optimistic, because everyone wants to see Brittney Griner come home. Maybe there are discussions going on, just not with Putin.


GLASSER: I imagine there have been discussions. But remember, the United States just a couple months ago made public its offer to try to get Brittney Griner released. To me, that was an indication that their private negotiations had reached a standstill. The fact that since then suggests unfortunately it was the correct interpretation.

BOLDUAN: Good to see you both.


BOLDUAN: Thank you.

Biden also making his first public comments about the possible criminal charges against his son, Hunter. More from CNN's sit-down with the president, next.






TAPPER: Should the American people prepare for a recession?

BIDEN: No. Look, they've been saying this now how -- every six months, they say this. Every six months, they look down the next six months and say what's going to happen.

It hadn't happened yet. It hadn't been -- there has -- there is no -- there's no guarantee that there's going to recession. I don't think there will be a recession. If it is, it'll be a very slight recession.


BOLDUAN: President Biden now downplaying the likelihood of a possible recession. A new CNN poll also shows it is top of mind with Americans right now, the economy, inflation, the recession. A majority of Americans are not optimistic about the economy.

Only 22 percent saying they think the economic conditions in the United States are good. Back with me now, chief CNN political correspondent Dana Bash.

When you put those things side by side, it really does show the struggle and challenge that the president and his party really have before them.

BASH: Such a struggle. And that feeling that you talk about, that you showed on the screen, that's it. That's the whole ball game when you talk about what's going to happen in November.

We say that, because we know from experience that the economy is almost always a driving factor. We know from polls but also anecdotally. I went out to cover a competitive race in Ohio, the governor's race in Michigan, a competitive race in the Tidewater area of Virginia and the economy is a huge issue.

I know I sound like Captain Obvious here but I think the feeling part of this challenge is critical, because that's what I heard from voters. Even if it's not necessarily that it's a -- the grocery store, everything is more expensive there or at the pump. It's just an overall feeling of I don't feel confident in this economy.

I don't feel confident I can provide adequately for my family. That's a very, very challenging political environment for a president and his party in control of Congress.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. With the economy in mind, Biden also said he's reevaluating the relationship and plans to with Saudi Arabia, in light of the OPEC decision, I want to show how he talked about it in this interview.


BIDEN: When the -- this House and Senate gets back, they're going to have to -- there's going to be some consequences, for what they've done, with Russia.

TAPPER: What kind of consequences?

Menendez says suspend all arms sales. Is that something you'd consider?

BIDEN: I'm not going to get into what I'd consider and what I'm having in mind. But there will be -- there will be consequences.


BOLDUAN: One top Democrat told me yesterday any freeze in the relationship that's not totally defined is not as simple as it sounds. It could in some regard backfire.

How real do you think this talk of consequences is?

BASH: Well, I think the talk of consequences might be real. But what you said is, you nailed it, of course, on the complications of dealing with Saudi Arabia. All we have to do is see what President Biden has done in the past, you know, few months, which is he went to Saudi Arabia.

Met with the crown prince even after saying very harsh things about him because of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. That's Exhibit A of how complicated it is. You layer the OPEC and the geopolitical consequences.

I think it's interesting the president's fellow Democrats, pushing legislation on Saudi, it's another example of people out there, wanting their members of Congress, their senators to do something. This is a chance -- Senator Blumenthal is an example.


BASH: He's tough on Saudi, probably in a pretty safe seat, a Democrat in Connecticut but he is up for reelection. The fact he's out front on this is also telling of where the voters are.

BOLDUAN: I also want to play what Biden also said about his son, Hunter, and the possibility he would face criminal charges for a tax crimes.


BIDEN: By the way, this thing about a gun, I didn't know anything about it but it turns out, when he made application to purchase a gun, what happened was he -- I guess you get asked -- I don't guess. You get asked the question, "Are you on drugs?

"You use drugs?"

He said, "No." And he wrote about saying "No," in his book.

TAPPER: Right.

BIDEN: So I have great confidence in my son. I love him. And he's on the straight and narrow and he has been, for a couple years now. And I'm just so proud of him.


BOLDUAN: Dana, there's a lot in that answer. I think people don't appreciate it enough.

What do you think of that, bearing in mind this is a very big topic among his Republican critics?

BASH: Very big topic. Ever since the now president started talking about and was asked about Hunter Biden on the campaign trail, the tack he took was, first and foremost, as a father, obviously but also as a father of somebody who has had a drug problem.

That is, unfortunately, incredibly relatable to a lot of people in this country. And what happens to people with drug problems, is they have other problems with regard to the law, with regard to other issues in their lives.

So he notably didn't answer on potential criminality and just kept it on substance abuse and, of course, the love for his son.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Any family who has dealt with addiction knows the support and love and just hearing that you're proud of someone and saying you're proud of someone is a huge thing in keeping them on the straight and narrow.

Good to see you, Dana.

BOLDUAN: You too, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Brett Favre, he now claims he was the victim of a smear campaign, denies his involved in a massive warfare fraud scheme, despite texts that he was worried about the public finding out where the funds were coming from. That's next.





BOLDUAN: An former San Antonio police officer is now charged with aggravated assault after shooting an unarmed 17-year old sitting, eating in his car, in a McDonald's parking lot. CNN's Josh Campbell joins us now with more on this one.

Josh, what were you learning about these charges?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Kate, a significant development. This stemmed from the incident that was seen on body cam footage, where you saw an officer approaching a vehicle. He then opens fire.

This video is graphic and disturbing but that teen was found a block later. We now know the officer that was seen on this video has been criminally charged with two counts of aggravated assault.

Our colleague Ashley Kulow (ph) reported a short time ago this officer has bonded out. He's out on $200,000 bond. This move was first telegraphed to CNN yesterday on "NEW DAY," the police chief talking with Brianna Keilar.

He expected charges to be filed by the end of the week. The prosecutor is moving quickly. We have tried to attempt this former officer. We have not made contact with him. The police chief in San Antonio is distancing, saying that shooting is not representative of SAPD. Take a listen.


CHIEF WILLIAM MCMANUS, SAN ANTONIO POLICE DEPARTMENT: This was a failure for one individual police officer. It had nothing to do with our policies. Policies did not allow that. Our training does not teach that. So this was a fail for one particular police officer. And here we are as a result of that fail.


CAMPBELL: Here is that policy. This is the San Antonio police department deadly force policy.

"An officer in the path of an approaching vehicle shall attempt to move to a position of safety rather than discharging a firearm at the vehicle or any occupants of the vehicle."

So again, we saw that on video ourselves, the violation of that policy. Finally we got a statement in from the attorney representing the family of this teenage boy. They say they're not commenting on these criminal charges. Their focus is on the kid. He remains in the hospital, unresponsive, on life support.

BOLDUAN: My God. Josh, thank you very much for that update.

So NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre speaking up to defend himself, making a rare statement since being connected to a massive welfare fraud scheme.