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The Lead with Jake Tapper
Gen. Milley Confirms Call After Jan. 6 Insurrection To Assure China Trump Was Not Planning A Military Strike; Gen. Milley Confirms Call With Pelosi After Jan. 6, says He Explained He Wouldn't Characterize Trump's Mental Health; Poll: 53 Percent Of American Don't Trust Biden To Give Accurate COVID Info.; Pfizer Submits Data To FDA On Vaccines For Children 5-11; Sanders Urges House Dems To Vote "No" On Infrastructure Until Budget Deal Passes; Pelosi Reverses Course, Plans To Hold Infrastructure Vote Thursday Even If Massive Budget Bill Is Not Done; Defense Secy.: We Did Not Plan For 11-Day Afghan Collapse; Anita Hill On Her 30-Year Struggle Against Gender Violence; Explosive Volcanic Eruptions Rock Canary Islands For 10 Straight Days. Aired 5-6 ET
Aired September 28, 2021 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LLOYD AUSTIN, DEFENSE SECRETARY: The fact that the Afghan army that we and our partners trained simply melted away, in many cases without firing a shot took us all by surprise, and it would be dishonest to claim otherwise.
GEN. MARK MILLEY, JOINT CHIEF OF STAFF: I think there was a lot of intelligence that clearly indicated that after we withdrew, that it was a likely outcome of a collapse of the military and collapse of the government. There's no Intel assessment that says the government's going to collapse and the military is going to collapse in 11 days that I'm aware of.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Mark Milley, also in the hot seat over a series of revelations from the new book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, called "Peril." The book reports that Milly reached out to his Chinese counterpart in the days before the presidential election, assuring him that always OK, and that the U.S. would not attack China.
MILLEY: I am certain that President Trump did not intend to attack the Chinese. And it is my directed responsibility. And it was my directed responsibility by the Secretary to convey that intent to the Chinese.
My task at that time was to deescalate. My message, again, was consistent, stay calm, steady and deescalate. We are not going to attack you.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): He spoke with General Li again after the January 6 insurrection. Milley says he told not just his boss, the Acting Secretary of Defense, but Secretary of State and the White House as well. MILLEY: I personally informed both Secretary of State Pompeo and White House Chief of Staff Meadows about the call among other topics. Soon after that, I attended a meeting with Acting Secretary Miller where I briefed him on the call.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): Milley responded to the books reporting that he spoke with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about President Trump's ability to launch nuclear weapons. The author's also wrote that Milley thought Trump was in serious mental decline.
MILLEY: I sought to assure her that nuclear launch is governed by a very specific and deliberate process. She was concerned and made very -- or made various personal references characterizing the president. I explained to her that the President is the sole nuclear launch authority and he doesn't launch them alone, and that I am not qualified to determine the mental health of the president of the United States.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): The hearing highlighted that the top generals thought that at least 2,500 U.S. troops should remain in Afghanistan, putting them at odds with President Biden over his decision to withdraw all troops.
GEN. KENNETH FRANK MCKENZIE, U.S. CENTCOM COMMANDER: I recommended that we maintain 2,500 troops in Afghanistan. And I also recommended earlier in the fall of 2020 that we maintain 4,500 of that time, those are my personal views.
I also have a view that the withdrawal of those forces would lead inevitably to the collapse of the Afghan military forces and eventually the Afghan government.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): Biden had told ABC News, he didn't remember anyone recommending those levels to him.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS CHIEF ANCHOR: So no one told -- your military advisors did not tell you no, we should just keep 2,500 troops. It's been a stable situation for the last several years. We can do that, we can continue to do that.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, no one said that to me that I can recall.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): Today, the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, told reporters there were a range of viewpoints presented to Biden.
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I would note today in the testimony that was given by Secretary Austin, by General Milley, they made clear, Secretary Austin specifically said, if you stay there at a force posture of 2500, certainly you'd be in a fight with the Taliban and you'd have to reinforce.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): Milley told lawmakers that right after the November election, he got an order from Trump to pull out all troops by January 15, right before Biden's inauguration. That order was rescinded. But the Pentagon officials said today that Trump's deal with the Taliban last year to withdraw had demoralized Afghan forces and contributed to their collapse.
MCKENZIE: The Doha agreement did negatively affect the performance of the Afghan forces but in particular about some of the actions that the government of Afghanistan was required to undertake as part of that agreement.
MARQUARDT (voice-over): Now, with the Taliban ruling Afghanistan, General Milley was blunt about ISIS and Al-Qaeda's ability to use the country to drove (ph) and target the U.S.
MILLEY: A reconstituted Al-Qaeda or ISIS, with aspirations to attack the United States, is a very real possibility. And those conditions to include activity in ungoverned spaces could present themselves in the next 12 to 36 months.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
MARQUARDT: General Mark Milley today admitted that he spoke with reporters working on at least three books that are critical of Trump.
Republican Senator Josh Hawley today asked Milley if he was distracted from Afghanistan as a result and told General Milley that he should resign. The general defended himself, Jake, saying that it's important that the American people get transparency and understand what the government does.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, Alex Marquardt, thanks so much.
Let's bring in Bob Woodward. It was his reporting about general Milley in his new book "Peril" that prompted key portions of today's questioning. The book is coauthored with Robert Costa.
Bob, thanks so much for being here.
BOB WOODWARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Thank you.
TAPPER: It's good to see you.
So General Milley was asked today about the call that you broke in your book, his call with the Chinese counterpart in January 8, two days after the insurrection, you wrote about it on the very first page of your book. The general described the call as routine, even though he had to reassure China the U.S. was stable and Trump wasn't secretly planning a strike against them. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MILLEY: And I told him that we are not going to attack. President Trump has no intent to attack. And I told him that repeatedly.
And I told him if there was going to be an attack, there'll be plenty of communications going back and forth. Your Intel system is going to pick it up. I said, I'll probably call you, everybody be calling you. We're not going to attack you. Just settle down, it's not going to happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Now you write in your book, you reported it, took an hour and a half for Milley to convince -- convey that to his Chinese counterpart. And when Milley hung up, you write quote, "He was convinced the situation was grave. Li, "Milley's Chinese counterpart, "remained unusually rattled, putting the two nations on the knife-edge of disaster."
From your reporting, how close was the U.S. to some kind of military (INAUDIBLE)?
WOODWARD: Well, Milley's whole point in this is that miscommunication is the seed of war. And as we know now, that relations with China, I mean, all of these exercises going on around Taiwan in the South China Sea, it is a danger, it could not be more of a dangerous environment. As we know China's on the march, they are reasserting themselves in many ways.
And if you examine these in it, I've done this for about 50 years, right? And I've rarely seen a case where the reporting is substantiated by a participant under oath.
He did say that he is not qualified to determine the mental health of the President --
TAPPER: Which is not to say he doesn't have an opinion, though.
WOODWARD: Yes, that's right. It's not a denial of what is in the transcript, which is very forceful confirmed.
I suspect that some people over the years have said somebody is crazy. And they too, would acknowledge they are not --
WOODWARD: -- qualified to determine whether that is medically or psychologically true.
TAPPER: Yes, I want to get to that in one second.
TAPPER: But just as a quick button on this, do you think of General Milley, based on your reporting, had not made that call, had not made that effort to convince General Li, his counterpart, Generally Li, L- I, his counterpart, not to overreact? Do you think it's possible that something might have happened?
WOODWARD: I mean, Milley felt that's the case.
TAPPER: Yes. WOODWARD: And if you look at this, and you go to the environment, the first call was October 30, four days before the election, the most contentious election in modern history, and Trump was out there, accusing China, it's the China virus, he was saying things about the election. And all of a sudden you get, which Milley acknowledged today, very sensitive intelligence that the China -- Chinese think we're going to attack them. That is the disaster environment for somebody in the military. Because as Milley told his senior staff, you might wind up getting a Pearl Harbor.
WOODWARD: Someone will make the first move. And we don't know what would have happened if he hadn't done this.
But if you look, these are reasonable precautions. We found no evidence. And Bob Costa and I had months to look at this, that Milley had done anything other than what he felt in a crisis moment was, I'm going to do the maximum amount --
WOODWARD: -- to protect the country.
TAPPER: United States and make sure no lives were shed unnecessarily.
General Milley, let's talk about his conversation with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who was worried that Trump would go rogue and launch nuclear strikes.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MILLEY: She was concerned and made very or made various personal references characterizing the president. I explained to her that the president is the sole nuclear launch authority and he doesn't launch them alone. And that I am not qualified to determine the mental health of the President of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Now that does not contradict your reporting, which is that Pelosi says, and you had -- unbelievably, you had a transcript to this conversation.
TAPPER: Pelosi says to Milley about Trump, "You know he's crazy. He's been crazy for a long time." And Milley says later in the exchange, "Madam Speaker, I agree with you on everything."
WOODWARD: And then he later says, I agree with you 100 percent. I mean there's no ambiguity there.
[17:10:07] Look, what the book shows is that he responded most significantly. And I thought this is something he would not touch in an unclassified public briefing, that he was so worried that he called in the officers from the National Military Command Center. This is the Pentagon war room.
WOODWARD: And said, make sure, make sure I am in the loop as procedures called. The last time we saw that happen was 1974, when Secretary of Defense, Schlesinger did the same thing because he was worried about Nixon and his mental state.
So, this was a moment of maximum peril. You have somebody under pressure. You know, we sit in -- Costa and I pontificated a little on this, but you know, well, what should they do? You learn from very sensitive intelligence that the Chinese think we're going -- this is a crisis moment.
WOODWARD: You have a practical problem to talk General Li down.
WOODWARD: And he said some things that he explained today, we explained in our book, this is not to tip the Chinese off.
WOODWARD: This is to make sure in their five-year relationship that we're going to talk to each other if there are tensions. You will see a buildup.
So, and I've said this before, and Bob Costa said it before, when this is all washed out those who are saying that General Milley actually was treasonous in what he do -- what he did, I think are going to owe the general an apology.
TAPPER: So, let's talk about the fact that -- of the steps he took to try to prevent any sort of nuclear strike, because at one point you write that Milley tells -- General Milley tells Nancy Pelosi, Speaker Pelosi, "There's not a snowball's chance in hell this president, or any president can launch nuclear weapons illegally, immorally, unethically without proper certification."
But I have to ask, based on the chain of command, and there are people who have been trying to change this.
TAPPER: Did Milley take any steps that would have led him to be able to stop Trump if he was about to launch or just to bring them in the loop?
WOODWARD: Yes, to bring him in the loop so he would be at the table and presumably raised his hand and say, wait a minute, is this necessary? Is this one of these occasions when we're going to use nuclear weapons, so.
TAPPER: So presidents have the power pretty much unilaterally to launch --
WOODWARD: Right. And Milley did -- as he said, he did not take away --
WOODWARD: -- and he approached power. He just said, you know, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs is not in the chain of command. He's adjacent to the command to the chain of command.
And what he did, let say, enforce the procedures that do exist. And make sure it is a caution. And it is a caution.
James Schlesinger, the defense secretary in 1974, God, is that almost 50 years ago --
WOODWARD: -- exercise the same precaution. Why?
WOODWARD: Because Trump actually set the stage for all of this with his actions and his denunciations. And Milley and others experience this.
Screaming in the Oval Office, we have the scenes in the book. I mean, they --
TAPPER: That's crazy. No, what really well rendered and really important, I do want to say just for anybody watching right now, especially lawmakers, we might want to think about the idea whether or not the United States should just have one person, whatever party, be able to just determine whether or not to unilaterally launch a nuclear strike, changing, perhaps even ending the world. Something for us to think about.
The Founders weren't really hip (ph) on the nuclear weapon thing when they created our balance of power.
WOODWARD: They did not. And this is something that is not clear. And lots of experts and they ought to look at it and they ought to settle it and people ought to know there may be no more important --
TAPPER: I agree.
WOODWARD: -- matter that the legislature and the executive should take up.
TAPPER: Yes. A very important lesson from a very important book. The book is called "Peril."
Bob Woodward, always great to have you.
WOODWARD: Thank you.
TAPPER: Thank you so much.
The White House is celebrating. Americans getting their COVID booster shots, but there remain many Americans who haven't even gotten their first shot. I'm going to talk to the U.S. Surgeon General next.
Plus, time is running out to get it all done. We'll talk to one progressive lawmaker about the latest negotiations over Biden's massive agenda. Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our health lead, 400,000 Americans got their third COVID vaccine shot this past weekend according to the White House. This comes after President Biden rolled up his sleeves to get his own booster shot live on television.
But a new Axios-Ipsos poll today shows a majority of Americans, as of now, do not trust President Biden to give accurate information about the pandemic. That's a big difference from when he took office in January.
Joining us now, the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy.
Dr. Murthy, the poll shows a 13 point drop since January. Do you think the Biden administration needs to change its strategy in order to convince Americans to get the vaccine?
DR. VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Well, Jake, it's good to be with you today.
You know, the most important thing that we have to be focused on is making sure that we're taking every step possible, Jake, to control this virus and get people vaccinated. And that's what we're focused on doing.
The latest round of announcements around boosters is one more step in that direction to extend the protection people have, Jake, from the vaccines.
But one thing I want to make very, very clear is that with all the focus that's been placed on booster shots, one thing we can't lose sight of is that it is still a top priority to get people first doses. We still have millions of people in this country who are still unvaccinated, who still are unprotected. And we've got to make sure that they get vaccinated, which is why we are keeping focused on improving access to vaccines, in mobilizing community messengers to make sure people have accurate scientific information. And also working with the private sector to put requirements in place where applicable, so that more and more people can get their shot as quickly as possible.
TAPPER: Basketball legend LeBron James just announced he got vaccinated after expressing some skepticism. Initially, he stopped short of advocating vaccinations for others, though. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEBRON JAMES, NBA PLAYER: You guys should know me and anything that I'll talk about, I don't talk about other people, and what they should do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Given that poll, showing declining credibility perceived of the White House, don't you need the help of people like LeBron James to push the vaccination message?
MURTHY: Well, Jake, I'm glad you brought this up, because in order to actually execute a really thoughtful and effective vaccination campaign, you actually need and get messengers from the get go. And that's why from the very beginning of this vaccination effort, we've been working closely, not just with well-known celebrities, but with local trusted messengers, whether they are faith leaders or local doctors and nurses.
And we've done that because we recognize that to really get the message out, you need a variety of messengers. We're a big country, Jake. We're a diverse country. We don't all trust the same people. We don't all listen to the same people.
And so, to get the information out to everyone, you need a variety of messengers. That's why we built the COVID-19 Community Corps, for example, which I and others have been engaging with over the last several months. And that has 1000s of organizations and individuals around the country are going door to door into their neighborhoods to help people get the facts. But we welcome everyone who's willing to lend their voice to this effort.
I'm really glad that LeBron is vaccinated. Every person who gets vaccinated matters and makes a difference. We want people to be thoughtful about that process.
But recognize also, we're still in the midst of this Delta wave. The faster people get vaccinated, the faster they will be protected from the worst of COVID.
TAPPER: Pfizer is the first company to submit data to the FDA on vaccines for young kids, five to 11. Just last hour, former FDA commissioner and Pfizer board member, Scott Gottlieb, told us this. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Do you have an idea of when the emergency use authorization request will be made by Pfizer?
DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, PFIZER BOARD MEMBER, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: Yes, I think imminently
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: How soon do you think it will be that when kids will be able to get their first shots after Pfizer approves the -- after the FDA approves the emergency use authorization?
MURTHY: Well, Jake, here's what I'll tell, you we are absolutely geared up and ready to deliver those doses as soon as the FDA completes this process. But for the FDA to do that process, hey, we need the company to first get them the information, the results of the trial. The data of the FDA can do its own independent assessment to make sure that these vaccines are both safe and effective for our kids.
One thing I'll tell you about the FDA on this, Jake, is that the FDA's top priority is getting COVID vaccines for the population particularly for our children. They are standing by ready to analyze that data.
They want to do it quickly but thoroughly because they recognize it if you're a parent like you and me, Jake, and you've got a kids at home, you want to know that the vaccine that you may be giving them is -- has been really thoroughly studied and that it, again, is safe and effective.
MURTHY: So the FDA is ready to do that. You need a company to get them that information as quickly as possible.
TAPPER: All right, Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, thank you so much for your time today.
One progressive is calling it a betrayal, the new strategy from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi when it comes to Biden's big agenda. Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our politics lead today, progressive Democrats are furious at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after she reversed course and announced that there will be a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure plan on Thursday even though there is not yet an agreement to pass the $3.5 trillion spending bill which is not yet finished.
Late this afternoon, progressive Senator Bernie Sanders joined the chorus of liberals firing back at Speaker Pelosi.
CNN's Manu Raja was live for us on Capitol Hill.
And Manu, President Biden, he's trying to mediate here. He hosted Senators Manchin and Sinema at the White House today to moderate Democrats in the Senate. What are you hearing about those meetings? MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's unclear if they're getting closer to a deal. Joe Manchin just told reporters on Capitol Hill that there's been a productive series of discussions that he's had with the President. But he also said that he did not reveal a price tag that what he would accept in that top line dollar amount for the larger social safety net plan. That has been one area of significant disagreement between the liberals who want to spend about 3.5 trillion. Moderates like Joe Manchin want to pare it back and all the details underneath that.
Now, the question is, where do they go from here? Nancy Pelosi is still moving forward with a Thursday vote on their separate infrastructure plan. Initially, she had said that they will not move on that separate infrastructure plan until the Senate approves that larger social safety net plan. But given that negotiations have been held up, she is now pressing ahead, delinking these two issues and pushing trying to get her caucus behind that infrastructure boat.
But there's a problem, liberals are rallying against that strategy. More than half of the Congressional Progressive Caucus in the House is planning to vote against that infrastructure bill.
And also just earlier today, Senator Bernie Sanders, the Budget Committee Chairman made clear he disagrees with this strategy of Nancy Pelosi and is siding with those calls to block this bill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): From what I can hear from the report, it says no. No. It goes on and on and on. We're talking and we're talking and nothing is happening. And I think that's why it's important that we defeat the infrastructure bill in the House. And that if these guys want to see the infrastructure bill passed, the (INAUDIBLE).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Now, Jake, it's not even clear the Democratic leaders are on the same page on this new strategy. I asked Chuck Schumer if he agrees with Pelosi's strategy, he would not say. And Jake, I'm told at a lunch today, Schumer said he was not consulted after Pelosi decided to reverse course. Jake?
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, Manu Raju on Capitol Hill for us, thanks so much.
Joining us now to discuss, Democratic Congressman Mark Pocan of Wisconsin. He's a member of the House Progressive Caucus. Congressman, so what is your reaction to Speaker Pelosi announcing that there's going to be a vote on infrastructure Thursday, even though there is not an agreement when it comes to the larger Reconciliation Act, the social safety net spending bill?
REP. MARK POCAN (D-WI), APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE: I think a lot of the debate that I just listened to is a little bit misguided. It's focused on the procedure rather than on the product. I think Democrats are very united, hundreds in the House and 48 in the Senate on passing the Build Back Better agenda, which involves these two bills. I think, you know, worrying about the procedure of what day we vote on it, or what time we vote on it has nothing to do about the content.
What we're waiting for is for a couple people in the Senate to tell us what they're actually for so we can finalize these negotiations. But hundreds of Democrats are ready to move forward on this with the President, with Speaker Pelosi. It's really just a few folks are trying to figure out what they really want. But that doesn't mean there's a fight among us. That doesn't mean we're upset with the Speaker.
Because I know at the end of the day, she won't put a bill on the floor that's going to go down. And we're willing to vote against it because we know that that takes away our ability to get that second, I would argue bigger, better bill.
TAPPER: Well, there are members of your caucus who have been very outspoken in saying that they feel disappointed in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. I believe Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib of Michigan called it a betrayal.
POCAN: Yes, I think some people just need to focus on what the end game is. The end game is to have a really great two bills that we're going to pass that provide things for the American people like a tax cut for 40 million American families who have children, the provisions around lowering price of prescription drugs and child care. There's so many things, they're going to lower the cost for the American people, they're going to create millions of jobs, many with a climate change focus in the bills paid for. That's what we're fighting for.
And I think getting lost on what day, what time we vote on something is really the wrong focus. So I, as the former chair of the Progressive Caucus, I'm excited that we're going to get these bills done. We have to get a little more work out of a couple people over in the Senate. Once we get that, we're going to be able to negotiate bills.
But as Democrats, these are democratic values. I don't think anyone wants to go back to the district and said, yes, my vote tanked universal childcare, my vote tanked your ability to pay less for prescription drugs. So it's going to happen and I'm not going to get lost on the procedures.
TAPPER: Well, look, I'm not the one who announced that on Thursday, there's going to be a vote on the infrastructure bill, that Speaker Pelosi. Assuming that there is not yet an agreement on the larger bill, the Reconciliation Act, the social safety net spending bill, the one you're focused on in our conversation right now, how are you going to vote on infrastructure? Are you not going to vote against it?
POCAN: Well, we need a lot more work to happen to get votes to get both of these bills done. But I think what Speaker Pelosi did is put a date out there to keep negotiations, so people keep moving. The problem is a few folks in the Senate really are operating very slowly and telling us what they're for. We need to know what they're for so we can finalize this process. But I understand, you know, what she's trying to do. She's trying to keep the negotiations going, keep the conversations happening. But if there aren't the votes for the bill, there aren't the votes for the bill. And I would not vote for a bill not knowing that we're going to have both of these bills in the form that we need to. And that's why I don't think there's going to be a vote on Thursday.
We might get this done the following week or the following week. But the end of the day, what I care about is what's in those bills that we're delivering something for the American people. And I think Democrats are going to deliver.
TAPPER: I've heard other members of the House Progressive Caucus talk about their willingness to deal with the cinemas and mansions of the world. Their willingness to, as one of them told me yesterday, take a haircut on this bill. Have it cost less in terms of the price tag. I know that tax cuts -- I mean, I'm sorry, tax increases will ultimately pay for what's in this bill. Are you willing to go down from 3.5 trillion?
POCAN: The dollar amount never was what's important. What I just mentioned were a few key elements, right? I think the childcare for revisions are very important. Now, one of the biggest issues holding people back from entering the workforce. The provision around the tax cut for people who have children, we want to continue that, that's really, really important.
Paying less for prescription drugs, we pay more than almost any other country. As long as those values are in there, we're going to figure out what that costs. But if the people -- a couple of the holdouts in the Senate don't tell us what they're actually for, then how you have a number period.
So, again, what's important is we need them to come to us and tell us what therefore. Let's finalize the negotiations. And in a couple weeks, I think we'll have two good bills moving out of Congress to the desk of the President. And at the end of the day, the people who enter (ph) the American people.
TAPPER: A couple weeks you say. Democratic Congressman Mark Pocan, thank you so much for joining us. Always a pleasure to have you on the show.
Coming up next, we're going live to Kabul with new details on how that city has changed since the U.S. left. Stay with us.
TAPPER: Back with our world lead today, Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin played defense and admitted there were a range of possibilities the U.S. considered when withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, but a complete another government collapse in 11 days was not one of them. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LLOYD AUSTIN, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We plan for a range of possibilities. The entire collapse of the Afghan government was clearly one of the things that if you look at the Intel estimates, and some of the estimates that others had made, that could happen.
SEN. MIKE ROUNDS (R-SD), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: But never with an immediate collapse of the government.
AUSTIN: We certainly do not plan against a collapse of a government in 11 days.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Let's go back live to CNN's Clarissa Ward, who's in Kabul for us. And Clarissa, this is your first time back to Afghanistan since the withdrawal last month, what are the biggest differences you're seeing on the ground now?
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think the first thing you sense, Jake, when you land here is that it's obviously a lot less chaotic, a lot less fraught, it's calmer. There are fewer Taliban on the streets. They're still here, they're still very much in charge.
There are checkpoints at various locations. Although it is interesting to note that many of them are now wearing uniforms, partly to assert their authority, but also partly to try to avoid a repetition of what we saw with the attack at the airport, with ISIS-K essentially blending in with Taliban fighters. So, a slightly lighter imprint from the Taliban. And also they're wearing uniforms.
More traffic on the streets, more women on the streets. But that's primarily because, Jake, the Taliban wants people to feel in this sort of transitional moment that it is taking a more pragmatic tone. And the reason they want people to feel that way, is because they are desperate to unlock aid which, of course, has been frozen, and which is really, you know, propelling this country towards a very real economic crisis.
But there's a sense underneath the sort of pragmatism that, in fact, the Taliban has not changed. And we have seen plenty of evidence to back that up, whether that's the subjugation of women's rights, but also terrifying video which came out over the weekend in the city of Herat. The Taliban said that they had captured four kidnappers who were killed in a shootout with Taliban fighters.
And their bodies -- and I want to warn our viewers if they -- if you are showing this video, that's very hard to look at, but their bodies were hoisted up in public places in -- to sort of act as a warning, if you like, to ordinary citizens that this is how crimes will be dealt with. This is the type of medieval justice you can expect under the Taliban. And I think that, along with a variety of other factors, has really sent a collective chill down the spines, particularly of many people here in Kabul, who fear that the Taliban has not changed and will only show more and more of its true colors as as they start to gain more confidence and more recognition and more funding.
TAPPER: Yes, we're not showing that video, just FYI. Clarissa Ward live in Kabul, thank you so much. Stay safe as always.
Coming up next, Anita Hill is going to join us live to talk about her fight to eliminate what's been called an invisible pandemic that is everywhere. Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our politics lead, the intersection of gender and politics and inappropriate behavior. Exactly three years ago today, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to advance the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. The day before, Christine Blasey Ford, of course, had testified that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a party when they were in high school. Kavanaugh angrily denied it.
For some, those hearings brought back memories of Anita Hill's 1991 testimony that then Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her when they both work together. Then Senator Joe Biden chaired that hearing. Since then, Anita Hill has continued teaching law, social policy and women's issues. She joins us now to talk about her new book. It's called, "Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence".
Professor Hill, thanks so much for being here to talk about your great book. One of the themes throughout your book is something then Republican Senator Arlen Specter said to you when you testified that Clarence Thomas had routinely talked about pornographic films in front of you, were counting graphic details about women's body parts. Here's what Senator Specter said back then. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R-PA): You testified this morning in response to Senator Biden that the most embarrassing question involved is not to ban women's large breasts. That's the word we use all the time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: And that phrase, this is not too bad. You're right, it's something women almost always hear, it's not too bad. Of course, that is unless it happens to you.
ANITA HILL, AUTHOR, "BELIEVING": Right. And the danger in that and really the harm in that is that basically what we're doing is grooming women and girls to not check -- not be in touch with our own feelings, and to not come forward and complain about behavior that is horrible and offensive to them.
TAPPER: You know when we went looking for that clip -- oh, I'm sorry, go ahead. Yes, please.
HILL: Sorry. It also grooms people who are abusers to understand that what their behavior is it's acceptable, and that they don't have to do make any changes to it.
TAPPER: You know --
HILL: So, I think it does a (INAUDIBLE).
TAPPER: Yes, when we went looking for that clip, the women on our staff said they could relate to hearing throughout their life, this not too bad excuse. Some said they even heard it from other women. Oh, that's not too bad.
HILL: Oh, absolutely. And I think we heard a version of it a couple of weeks ago, when the gymnasts were testifying about their reporting of abuse that Larry -- at the hands of Larry Nassar. When they reported to the FBI agent, one in particular, seemed to indicate that it wasn't really bad enough, the sexual abuse of a 13-year-old, was not bad enough, or was not significant enough for him to investigate.
And we know exactly what happened. He didn't investigate. And Larry Nassar went on to abuse between 70 and 100 other children.
TAPPER: You write the gender violence is everywhere, that it's systemic from middle school, through college into every workplace. What should parents tell their daughters and sons about this? Or more specifically, the first time a daughter comes home and says, I was teased today about such and such, what should parents say?
HILL: Oh, first of all, they should listen, and find out how that made the child feel, and then decide together how they should approach it. But, you know, we talk about what we tell our children. I think one of the things that we have to learn to do is to tell the adult who is in charge of your child's behavior, and other children's behavior in the school place, tell them about how harmful messages are can be to children who are being abused, who are being teased in ways that are hurtful and lasting, too, though.
You know, I got an e-mail just a few days ago about a little girl who had experienced sexual assault in an elementary school. And she told her teacher, she says, I told the teacher on him. And the teacher suspended her recess privileges, saying that, that she was being inappropriate. So in addition to telling children that the problem is not too bad, adults are often telling, the children that they should, in fact, be punished for coming forward. And we need to clarify these responsibility that adults have for taking care of children in elementary school so that the environment is safe for everyone.
TAPPER: I wanted to ask you, because yesterday, R&B singer R. Kelly was convicted on racketeering and sexual trafficking charges. And you mentioned him and his accusers a couple of times in your book, bringing up criticism that you received for, quote, contributing to the destruction of a black man, a representative of the black community. That must have been painful to have people come at you that way when you were trying to stand up for victims of sexual violence. HILL: Well, and it's been an effective defense, and it's almost a shaming of -- oh, well, in fact, it is a shaming of victims for coming forward. With R. Kelly, we had 30 years, 30 years of accusations and multiple women. And one of the things that that is really so perplexing, and actually aggravating to me, is that time after time, we see multiple women come forward, and they are not believed, but powerful men are. And it's not just said, we believe powerful men, we have our system set up to take the word of those in power over those who have been abused. And it's -- and, you know, I see this problem as endemic, but I also see how our cultural, the engaging (ph) and myths get embedded deeply into the systems that are meant to help us, but in the end, do not.
TAPPER: Anita Hill, Professor Hill, thank you so much. It's good to see you. Hopefully, you can come back more and we can talk more about legal issues. Your new book for those interested, t's called "Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence". Best of luck and thanks for the work that you do.
For more than a week now --
HILL: Thank you.
TAPPER: -- this volcano has been erupting. We'll show you images of the destruction next. Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our world lead, a river of 2,000 degree lava is now slowly making its way through the ocean after 10 straight days of massive volcanic eruptions that are rocked the Canary Islands which are located off the coast of Morocco. Residents of the islands have been ordered to lock down as scientists warn of toxic gases that could be released once the lava touches the sea. Drone video captured the extent of the destruction from the streams of lava, which have already swallowed up hundreds of homes and buildings and forced the evacuation of nearly 6,000 people.
Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM." I will see you tomorrow.