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Train Carrying North Korean Leader Arrives In Russia; Group Sues To Keep Trump Off Ballot Over 14th Amendment; At least 5,300 Presumed Dead In Libya After Flooding; Drew Barrymore's Show Picketed After It Resumes. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired September 12, 2023 - 15:30   ET



GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It increases his ability to intimidate. He probably still believes that at some point. He may need to use such capabilities against the United States. Certainly if he gets the nuclear submarine capacity, he can deploy those submarines off our coast. And it is a deterrent. We've kept the peace in the Korean Peninsula for 70 years by basically the threat of nuclear annihilation of North Korea.

President Eisenhower started that by deploying an atomic cannon in 1953, after he was elected and shortly after the peace talks got serious. And we've always had this huge measure of nuclear -- not only nuclear superiority, but we were invulnerable to North Korea. Now we're not. So he gets a lot out of this -- Kim does if Putin delivers this kind of technology.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Yes, and you mentioned how help from North Korea can drag out the conflict in Ukraine because Vladimir Putin gets more munitions. But the counter to that does this move potentially put pressure on the West to provide Ukraine with some of those longer range missiles that they've been asking for and that we're anticipating the White House will soon make a decision on?

CLARK: It does, and it also should encourage the West to try to speed up the pace of the delivery of weapons. Because really, if you look at this from the benefit of hindsight, obviously, if we could have delivered all the stuff that we've given them over the summer six months earlier, maybe Russia wouldn't have had those strong defenses prepared. And if we wait another six to nine months, what we know is the Russian forces likely to be stronger.

The economic weapons against Russia, they're significant, but they're not decisive. And Russia's finding ways to work through those restrictions and through those cut offs of technology and so forth. It's getting its technology in six months, 12 months from now, they'll be stronger. The Russian military, we read a lot about their mistakes. But they're learning and you can't believe that they're going to continue to be just as ineffective as we saw them in the early days of the campaign.

So this is a race. It's a race of the West and Ukraine to develop the decisive capacities to finish this war versus Putin on the other side, building up the capacity to intervene and overrun Ukraine, where it is right now.

SANCHEZ: General, I did want to ask you about something that Vladimir Putin brought up today. He was asked about former President Donald Trump's legal troubles. And he was speaking at an Economic Forum in Russia. He said quote:

As far as the prosecution of Donald Trump is concerned, this is good for us in today's conditions because it shows the rottenness of the American system which cannot pretend to teach others about democracy.

I'm wondering what you make of those comments from Vladimir Putin.

CLARK: Well, look, he's very aware of the American political system. In fact, Russia did -- has done everything it can do to try to destroy this system, including its intervention in the 2016 election. And there's no doubt that Putin is pulling for Trump to win. But he's not so much for Trump. He is for the disintegration of the American political system and its weakness. And frankly, the strength of the American political system is a very important part of deterrence and stability globally.

So when you look at what's happening in the United States today with the charges against Mr. Trump and what's going on with funding the important government bills in the Congress, you have to understand this has international implications. U.S. political stability is essential for U.S. global stability. Mr. Trump has threatened that. Putin likes that. He supports that threat.

SANCHEZ: An important point. General Wesley Clark, thank you so much for the perspective, Sir.

CLARK: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Of course -- Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: First on CNN, there is now a different legal hurdle facing Donald Trump. Another new lawsuit that is seeking to keep him off the 2024 ballot. A liberal group in Minnesota is arguing that the 14th Amendment's disqualification clause bars him from office saying quote:

Donald J. Trump through his words and actions after swearing an oath as an officer of the United States to support the Constitution, then engaged in insurrection as defined by section three of the 14th Amendment. He is disqualified from holding the presidency or any other office under the United States.

A different group filed a similar suit last week in Colorado, so two suits now in two weeks. Joining us now to talk about this is Gabe Sterling. He's the chief operating officer for Georgia's Secretary of State's office. Sir, thanks for being with us.


You've obviously been outspoken about the former president undermining democracy, but you say that this is a very bad idea. Tell us why. GABRIEL STERLING, GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE'S OFFICE: Well, it's a

dangerous idea, and if we just go back to your previous segment with General Clark, Putin loves this kind of chaos and it plays the international stage that way. The reality is there's -- we can't be saying and some of the legal scholars on this who are brilliant people and I get that. I'm basically saying this is a self executing section of the Constitution.

I don't think anybody intends for an elections official at any one state to say I have decided that the former president has committed an insurrection, remove him from the ballot. The only other way we know how to remove somebody from the ballot who still qualifies of age and you haven't elected twice, is a 2/3 vote of the Senate following an impeachment by the House.

Having one election official like Secretary Raffensberger, our secretary in any other state say, we have decided you've committed insurrection. Doesn't seem fair to people. And if we want to encourage the sense of grievance that we see for many Trump supporters say the system is rigged, try to remove President Trump's name from a ballot somewhere. You're going to see that there to be pouring gasoline on that fire.

KEILAR: If Trump were convicted in Georgia or federally, for trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election, do you think by this mechanism that it could be employed? Do you think that he should still be on the ballot then?

STERLING: Look, I'm not a lawyer. I'm not a judge. The one thing I do know is we need to have due process. Because the first part of this 14th Amendment is the due process clause, bring it down to the states. We're talking about state officials making these decisions. If there is some way the Supreme Court gets to this and they say he is not qualified. I don't see that happening necessarily.

What we need to do is focus on the voters. We have a Constitutional Republic of laws that essentially empowers voters to make decisions. They make good ones. They make bad ones. They generally come out OK. We have to trust the voters in this. And anybody using an electoral scheme or a constitutional interpretation to remove anybody from the ballots is going to be a dangerous precedent.

Because I can guarantee you what happens, it start up from the Bork hearings in '86. One side does one thing, the other side does something else. The other side blames the last side for doing it. There will be a Republican saying, you have violated your oath of office under the Constitution. I'm barring you from the ballot. That's all we're going to see happening. We need to have grown-ups in the room look at the long term implications of these things. Whether we disagree with the individual candidate or loved a individual candidate.

KEILAR: Yes, I mean, this is to be clear, this is a post civil war provision in the 14th amendment. It was designed to keep people who were in the Confederacy from holding future public office. This is from a very long time ago. I mean does -- is this a modern equivalent to what we are seeing in your opinion or is it not and do you think people need to think twice about this?

STERLING: Absolutely need to think twice about this. But just because something is old doesn't mean it doesn't work. I mean the Constitution itself, we're the longest running constitutional Republic in in the history of the world. The words written have meaning, and they have import, but we have to know what did it actually mean?

When it comes to who is qualified or disqualified under the 14th and under any of the qualifications of presidency, if somebody is 35. I know that. They got a birth certificate. If she's been elected twice. I know that. You know that. We all agree on that. Who is the decider of whether or not an individual has, quote/unquote, committed insurrection or given aid and comfort to those who have. You can't put the power into one individual or even a small handful. Like I said, the only other way to remove somebody from the ballot are a 2/3 vote of the United States Senate. The American people would accept that outcome. But the American people as a whole and a large section of them would freak out if all of a sudden there's individuals or small groups can remove a person from the ballot.

KEILAR: You've had a pretty good sense of, you know, things that could happen. You warned in December of 2020 that if former President Trump and the GOP's attacks on the election system don't stop, quote, someone's going to get hurt. Someone's going to get shot, someone's going to get killed. Ultimately, all of those things did happen on January 6. What are you worry could happen in the future with the election and these lawsuits playing out?

STERLING: I don't think I have any kind of crystal ball, Brianna. I mean, this is kind of common sense when you see it play out. If people take these steps, all it's going to do is undermine people's faith. And like I said, pour fire -- pour gasoline on a fire for grievances felt by millions of Americans. And if in one of these states that President Trump would probably lose anyway, they take his name off. You're literally going to be feeding the it's all rigged and I was -- and he was right all along. You see, Trump was right all along. If they do this.

We're giving this as a warning of responsibility and a need for adults in the room to stand up. And that's why Secretary Raffensperger wrote his op-ed in the "Wall Street Journal" kind of outlining this. He had good, rational basis for seeing that this is a dangerous precedent. If somebody is adjudicated as -- if they're convicted somewhere of insurrection, that's one thing. That's not the case here. And even in these other cases that are running right now.


Our big concern is, if you have a hung jury or he's acquitted on anything, he will take that as full exoneration.

I know essentially he broke both parties. Democrats lose their minds about him. Republicans, a lot of them lost their minds about him. We need to get back to a rational state. Because one of the things that Trump can do, is he takes this kind of chaos and plays it to his advantage. People wanted to remove him from the ballots playing to Trump's -- to his advantage, they are helping him out by doing this.

Alvin Bragg helped Trump out. He put him into first place in the primaries. Because people were rallying around because they think it's been unfair. They think the media and the left has treated him unfairly and he can play this grievance card over and over again. And if they give him something new, like removing from the ballot, all they're doing is supercharging his campaign.

KEILAR: Gabe Sterling, thank you so much for having this conversation with us. We do appreciate it.

STERLING: Thank you, Brianna. You have a great day.

KEILAR: You too -- Jim.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Up next, Libyan officials say flooding there has created just a catastrophic situation. Whole neighborhoods believed to have been washed away. The death toll in the thousands already.



SCIUTTO: The news out of Libya is just heartbreaking. Beyond heartbreaking. Officials now say at least 5,300 people are presumed dead in the catastrophic floods there, 10,000 people remain missing. As many as 6,000 still unaccounted for are from the eastern city of Derna, officials say around 40 residential buildings were swept into the seas following the flooding there, and that all roads leading into Derna and are now blocked. CNN's Ben Wedeman covering this story for us. Goodness, I mean a city washed into the sea. What do we know?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, what we know, Jim, is that these rains caused by storm Daniel, apparently the equivalent of eight months of normal rainfall in less than a single day fell on this area, causing two dams to basically burst. So essentially, a tsunami ran through this city of more than 100,000 just washing away neighborhoods and an undetermined number of people. Of course, the latest figures coming from the Libyan Interior Ministry, the Interior Ministry loyal to the government in the east in Benghazi, saying 5,300.

But the real numbers are simply unclear because access to Derna is so difficult. Because most of the roads have washed out. Many of the cell phone towers have been knocked down. Aid is beginning to arrive. Turkey sent three airplanes full of search and rescue personnel, as well as humanitarian supplies.

The rival government, based in Tripoli in the West, sent a plane full of medical workers, as well as body bags. But it may be days before we get a clearer idea about the death toll, the number of missing and the true extent of damage. But the numbers the images we're seeing would indicate the situation is extremely grave. And probably going to get only worse -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Yes, already numbering in the thousands, the death toll. Ben Wedeman, thanks so much. And we'll be right back.



KEILAR: Members of the Writers Guild picketed outside the Drew Barrymore show yesterday after the talk show resumed production. The WGA says doing so violates the writers strike, which is now in its fifth month. But a Barrymore spokesperson said the program won't do any writing work that is covered by the strike. And also, this is not the only show that's going back on air. There will be or there already are, new episodes of these talk shows that you see here. All of these. So joining me now to talk about this, we have CNN contributor Nischelle Turner, the host of Entertainment Tonight. Michelle, take us through this. What's going on here?

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Brianna, you know, this is kind of collateral damage. What we're seeing from the strikes, the rider strike that's been going on since May. I think the fact that that Drew Barrymore is getting a lot of attention here is because she did put out a statement saying we're returning. This is why. I'm going to own this. So then it brought the eyeballs to her.

But you are correct. She is not the only show -- talk show that is coming back. The Talk is coming back. The View never went away. They are back in production as well. And they've all said we're coming back, but we're going to come back and we're not going to do any writing. We're going to, you know, speak off the cuff. We're not going to break any violations for the writers strike. That is what is what is up for debate.

And the debate is a strong one on both sides. I mean, there are people who are saying, listen, we want to make sure that our crews get paid. We want to make sure that we come back and we can still keep people in production. And then the other side is saying this is exactly what we need so the studios feel the heat. You shouldn't be in production. And that's the push and pull that's going on right now.

KEILAR: Doesn't undercut the writers when you have all these shows coming back.

TURNER: That's a good question. That's the second part of the debate. Is that does it weaken the writers position with the studios? Because I mean, I think the people out on the picket lines would think that, yes, it does. Because they believe that it's showing the studios that these shows can go on without them and still be productive without them.

On the other side of it, I think that that shows that are in production like the Drew Barrymore Show and the other talk shows The View, The Talk, those shows are saying listen, we're struggling without our writers. We want them here but we do have to think about the bigger picture. And we have hundreds of people that we want to continue to be employed. So while we stand with the writers and we stand with what they are fighting for, we do want to make sure that our shows continue so people can still get paid. KEILAR: All right, Nischelle Turner, thank you so much. This is really

interesting to watch everything that is going on there with these strikes.

TURNER Yes. It's interesting to see how this this is (INAUDIBLE).

KEILAR: And we'll be right back.


TURNER: Thanks Brianna.

KEILAR: Yes, it certain certainly is. Nischelle, thank you so much. We'll be right back.


SANCHEZ: Our CNN family got a little bit bigger last night. We're so excited to introduce you to Elizabeth "Birdie" James Fennell. Her mother Courtney is one of the All Star producers on this show. And look at Birdie right in the middle. She was born at 5:59 on Monday night, weighing 6 pounds, 11 oz. She and Mom are resting up right now. They are doing great. Right now, Courtney and her husband Justin are introducing Birdie to her older sister, Sully, Sullivan. Big sister was actually the one who picked her name.


Any advice, Brianna, to go from one to two kids?

KEILAR: Any advice? I just don't remember it because I was so sleep deprived. Honestly, no, it's so wonderful. And I think it's so exciting this was an introduction. But this beautiful family.

SANCHEZ: So cute.

KEILAR: This is when everything expands. It's going to be amazing. Congratulations, so much to the Fennells. We're so excited for you.

And "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts now.