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Biden Impeachment inquiry; Interview with USA Today Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page; Russia's War on Ukraine; Village Near Bakhmut Reclaimed by Ukrainian Brigade; Next week, Zelenskyy Will Meet with Biden in the United States; Protests Erupted in Response to the Anniversary of Mahsa Amini's Death; Coast Guard Sexual Assault Cases are the Subject of Senate Investigation. Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired September 15, 2023 - 10:30:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATE REPORTER: Democrats were far more united in 2019, there were only three Democrats who voted at least against one article vote of impeachment. I think a lot of Republicans are fearing this example back in 1998. In 2019, Democrats, of course, were quite united on this.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEWS CENTRAL CO-ANCHOR: And what happened to the Republicans in this impeachment in terms of what happened to their numbers after they did launch the impeachment?
ENTEN: Yes. So, you look in 1998, and this, I think, the big fear. There was a massive backlash against Republicans in terms of launching an impeachment inquiry against Bill Clinton. Look at this, historically well was how the Democrats did. You very rarely see that the president's party gained seats in the House in midterm. It's only happened less than times in the last century and a half. And you this, Democrats, in fact, gained five seats. And in the Senate, there's no change. There was a backlash and I think that's what Republicans are worried about.
Was this ball sort of gets rolling down the hill? If in fact there's a backlash against them, we do see that often times or at least this one, the Democrats were able to benefit from that and I think a lot of Republicans are saying, well, Joe Biden is unpopular as it is, why, perhaps, throw in another variable, because if you do, you don't know what might necessarily happen.
BERMAN: Harry Enten, great to see you.
ENTEN: Great to see you.
BERMAN: Thank you so much.
I want to talk a little bit more about this from someone who was there quite literally. I'm joined now by "USA Today's" Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page. And Susan, you were actually at an event with Bill Clinton in 1998 as this whole impeachment thing was happening. What was his reaction to it, and what can be learned from that apply to now? SUSAN PAGE, WASHING TO BUREAU CHIEF, USA TODAY: Well, inexplicably, my husband I were invited to a White House dinner two days after the midterms in 1998. And I was seated next to Bill Clinton, and I think the reason I was seated, although there were much more interesting and intelligent people at this dinner was because he wanted to talk about politics.
He was delighted and surprised by the findings -- by the outcome of those midterm election. It was the first time in decades that in a midterm election, the president's party had gained seats in the House. He thought this would prompt Republicans to pullback on following through with impeachment in the impeachment trial. Of course, they went ahead. But they did pay a price in that midterms and that's a lesson politicians in Washington have not forgotten.
BERMAN: And it's so interesting to see what's happening right now because it's almost hard to keep track of who has the biggest problems, right? There is an impeachment inquiry into President Biden but really, a big part of that is about Kevin McCarthy's own weakness in his own party. Meanwhile, there are four criminal indictments against Former President Trump who's also running for current office. He is talking -- or as my wife likes it, he's making a lot of mouth sides, like -- she likes to say that on me. But he's saying a lot of words out loud right now. And one of the things he's talking about in these recent interviews is the Mar-a-Lago documents case. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT AND "SATURDAY TODAY" ANCHOR: A new charge suggests you asked a staffer to delete security camera footage so it would not get into the hands of investigators --
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND U.S REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They're false.
WELKER: It's false?
TRUMP: That is false. But let me tell you what else --
WELKER: Would you testify to that under oath?
TRUMP: Let me tell you -- sure. I'm going to -- I'll testify.
WELKER: You'll testify to that under oath?
It's a fake. The tapes weren't deleted. In other words, there was nothing done to them. And they were my tapes. I could have fought them. I didn't even have to give them the tapes, I don't think. I think I would have won in court. When they asked for the tapes, I said, sure. They're my tapes. I could have fought them --
(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: At this point, Susan, to what extent is this a legal argument? An argument that he's making about the cases against him. To what extent is this just his political case for re-election? Is it more about the substance or that he is talk the about it?
PAGE: Well, he's talking in a political way. And his problem is once he is in a court of law, the law is going to prevail. You know, those were his surveillance tapes, but they were subpoenaed and he had an obligation then to turn them over. He says he's going to testify in court, we would all like to see that. Wouldn't we love to see what Donald Trump in court under oath. We'll see if his lawyers permit that to happen.
You know, this is a thoroughly political time in Washington where the leaders in both parties find themselves in considerable peril. It's not good for Joe Biden that he's been impeached. But in a way he is the least threatened of these three big party leaders at the moment.
BERMAN: Oh, that's interesting. You think he's the least threatened if you're saying Biden, McCarthy and Trump, you say Biden the least threatened by this. Why?
Page: Well, I think that's true because at the moment, Republicans can't say what they're going to impeach him for. That's something they have to figure out, I guess, with this impeachment inquiry. Donald Trump faces 91 counts of -- that seems pretty serious to me. And it is not at all clear how Kevin McCarthy manages to avoid a shutdown of the government, something else that would resonate against Republicans, most likely politically and keep his job as speaker. So, the -- none of them are having a good week. But I think Biden is having the least bad of the three of them.
BERMAN: That's even with his son now facing criminal charges. Kate like to point out -- Kate Bolduan likes to point out, Donald Trump one of the other things he said is that Biden wouldn't likely be facing this impeachment inquiry if he, Donald Trump, hadn't been impeached twice. In case he says -- you know, he's saying the quiet part out loud there. He's saying this is really about politics. If you have Donald Trump admitting that the impeachment inquiry is about politics, does that leave a mark?
PAGE: Yes, John. You know, what a Washington gaffe is? It's when you say something that's true but you say it out loud. And that's what Trump said in the interview that was released yesterday where he said, if they hadn't done this to me, maybe we would not be doing it to them. That is not supposed to be the standard for the impeachment of a president. I am not sure that will hurt him in these Republican primaries, but I do not think that is an attitude that is going to sit well with a lot of the independent voters, the suburban voters who usually determines who wins general elections.
BERMAN: A Michael Kinsley definition of a gaffe, when you the truth out loud. Susan Page, great to see you as always. Thank you very much.
PAGE: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, a very important moment for the war in Ukraine. President Biden will be meeting with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy here in the United States next week when world leaders are gathering for the U.N. General Assembly. Why Zelenskyy's visit could be so crucial this time for Ukraine's counteroffensive against Russia? That's next.
BOLDUAN: Ukraine is making more gains on the battlefield. Forces recaptured a village just south of Bakhmut. It's been the side of some of the most intense battles, as you well know. A Ukrainian brigade announced this success of that village in a Telegram post writing that members of the Russia's Federation had been, "Smashed to pieces".
BERMAN: And it does come as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is getting ready to meet with President Biden and speak before the United Nations' General Assembly here next week.
With us now, CNN Chief International Anchor Christiane Amanpour. Great to see you.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Lovely to see you.
BERMAN: Volodymyr Zelenskyy is coming here for the second time, and actually a relatively short period of time. He was here last December, but man, it feels different now. He was greeted by wild applause from the entire U.S Congress. What does he need to get done this time?
AMANPOUR: Well, what he needs to get done this time is build on that and build on the progress that you just mentioned. I was in Ukraine a couple of weeks ago and I was able to see that despite a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking and armchair warriors complaining about the counteroffensives from abroad, actually it's making steady progress.
Having said that, they definitely need more of the right kind of heavy weaponry, even aircraft to be able to really make big gains. And why is that important? A, for the survival of Ukraine, for the defeat of the Russian war machine, but also, to keep the American people, to keep European people, to keep all of those people whose governments are helping with money and materiel on the side.
And that is what his aim is going to be and that's what his mission is, whether to the United Nations speech where he'll want to bring on all the countries that have not yet, you know -- that are still straddling the fence, and to the Congress, and to the American people.
BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Another aspect of the war in Ukraine, you're bringing a really special story --
BOLDUAN: -- to "The Whole Story with Anderson Cooper" this weekend. You're talking -- it's the story of the United Ukrainian Ballet. This is a company comprised of Ukrainian refugees now. I mean, they're ballet dancers, they're ballet company. And what they're doing and trying to do to keep Ukrainian culture alive.
BOLDUAN: But it's also so much more than that. Let's play everyone -- a preview for everybody.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I came with a lot of people, grandmother, mother, sister, and brother. Of course, five people in one room is a bit hard. But we are making it work so far.
AMANPOUR: Did you expect some of them to arrive with grandmothers and babies --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
AMANPOUR: -- and sisters, moms and families?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, no, no. Not really. But of course when they did, we try to -- everybody was welcomed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking in a foreign language).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In our United Ukraine Ballet is more than 65 dancers. So, it's a whole community now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: I know. It's really remarkable story.
AMANPOUR: There's so many layers in there.
BOLDUAN: Yes, exactly -- I was --
AMANPOUR: And -- there's so many layers.
BOLDUAN: -- that's exactly what I seeing there.
AMANPOUR: First and foremost, it is about preserving your culture, your identity, your history in the face of Putin's Russia which is trying to tell the world that Ukraine does not exist.
AMANPOUR: That they don't have a separate culture. It's genocidal thought. And these people are dancing, as we said, in defiance. And they've actually brought this refugee ballet in the last, you know, several months ago to the Kennedy Center in Washington. They've traveled it around. And we also talked to ballet dancers who stayed in Ukraine, also to preserve dance for the people there. And even those who have gone to the battle front and, you know, some of them are being killed. So, everybody is fighting their own war, everybody.
BERMAN: I was in Ukraine just after the invasion. I spent time with rock musicians.
BOLDUAN: Oh, that's right.
BERMAN: I think graphic artists.
BERMAN: And they were at war.
BERMAN: I mean, I love how you put that.
BERMAN: There is a culture war that these artists have been fighting from minute one here.
AMANPOUR: And resistance. They are the resistance against this attempt to crush their culture. And you'll see the lady who was speaking, she is the Dutch ballerina who enabled all of this for them in the Netherlands. And then you saw the gentleman who is the choreographer, very important, he's a Ukrainian-Russian who left the Bolshoi right after -- in protest to Putin's war. And you know, there's a lot of --
BOLDUAN: Talk about layers.
AMANPOUR: -- problem between Russians and the Ukrainians artists, even at the U.S. Open, tennis players.
AMANPOUR: But here, this man put his, you know, his principles on the line.
BERMAN: Quickly, Christiane, it's a somber, poignant anniversary, you know, the anniversary of the death of Mahsa Amini in Iran.
AMANPOUR: Yes, that'll be tomorrow.
AMANPOUR: And this is -- President Biden has already marked it and observed it and talked about how the women of Iran have really stood up and tried to, you know, improve their lot. I think the idea --
BOLDUAN: But what have we learned in this year?
AMANPOUR: Yes, I think the idea is that we've learned that it wasn't about necessarily now a counter revolution, but it was about getting their rights. So, even though it's really harsh, and there's a preemptive, sort of, crackdown to prevent any anniversary protests, the women who we talked to, the women who we are talking out now, you'll see they're walking around without their hijab on. And of course, Mahsa Amini was killed in police custody for not being a good enough hijabi, you know. And I think this is --
BOLDUAN: This also led -- talk about layers. This also led to that wild moment when you were going to be sitting down --
BOLDUAN: -- with the president.
AMANPOUR: Correct. With the president of Iran, and in the end, we empty chaired him. We had no choice. We were sitting ready. He didn't turn up because he wanted me to wear a hijab in America. What is he thinking?
AMANPOUR: Anyway, I said no. And we didn't get the interview. And I guarantee you, he will not be sitting down with any women while he's here in the United States. I would bet on that.
BOLDUAN: I would not bet against Christiane Amanpour.
BERMAN: Never --
BOLDUAN: That is one thing --
BERMAN: -- ever.
BOLDUAN: -- that we all know. Thank you for being here.
AMANPOUR: Thank you so much.
BOLDUAN: Appreciate it.
AMANPOUR: It's a great pleasure.
BERMAN: Obviously, tune in to a new episode of "The Whole Story with Anderson Cooper". One whole hour, one whole story airing this Sunday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific to see this remarkable story only on CNN.
BOLDUAN: Also, ahead for us, a series of explosive stories by CNN has sparked a new Senate inquiry into a years-long Coast Guard cover-up. Allegations of dozens of sexual assault cases at the Coast Guard Academy were kept secret by high-ranking officials for years.
BOLDUAN: A new Senate investigation has been launched into the U.S. Coast Guard. High ranking officials are accused of covering up dozens of cases of sexual assaults at the Coast Guard Academy. Kept for years. The Senate is now demanding answers because of a series of investigative reports by CNN and by CNN's Pamela Brown who joins us now.
Pamela, it's good to see you. Where do things go right now?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're continuing to see the fallout from our reporting over the summer, Kate. In this case, the permanent subcommittee on investigations for the DHS which usually keeps these investigations under wraps. But given the gravity of this, it is making this investigation into the Coast Guard public.
Now, CNN first reported a Coast Guard investigation that substantiated dozens of rapes at the Coast Guard Academy was kept hidden for years. It was dubbed Operation Fouled Anchor, and it found some of the accused had moved into top roles at the Coast Guard and other military branches or even retired with full pensions and benefits.
So, that was what we found and we reported over the summer. Victims were discouraged from pursuing the allegations. They still had to go back to class and work with the person who allegedly assaulted them. Some victims ended up dropping out of the academy. The assault, the investigation was never reported to Congress or made public until CNN started asking questions. And now as we're seeing, the Senate wants answers.
So, they released a letter and this letter sent to the head of the Coast Guard. Senator Richard Blumenthal cited CNN's reporting and said, "The leaders who oversaw or perhaps created the environment where a misconduct occurred and did nothing must be held accountable." He goes on to say, the public deserves to know why so many reported cases of sexual assault and harassment were allowed to go uninvestigated for so many.
Senator Blumenthal told us this was the most shameful incident of a cover-up of sexual assault that he's ever seen in the U.S. Military. And the letter is asking for a long list of documents from the Coast Guard, including information on every sexual assault at the academy from 2006 to present. Kate.
BOLDUAN: And Pam, this is just one of investigations into this cover- up, correct?
BROWN: Yes, there's been a lot going on. There's been a hearing on the Hill. There's been a call for an I.G. investigation. And the Coast Guard announced its own 90-day inquiry in Jury. The commandant of the Coast Guard, Linda Fagan, has even publicly apologized to the victims and their families since we broke the reporting.
BOLDUAN: And what are you hearing from victims about this?
BROWN: It's so important to bring up the victims because they're really at the center of this, right? We've spoken to so many women and men who were assaulted. Some going as far back as the 1990s, some just recently, but they all tell a similar story. There's a pattern of being discouraged from reporting their assaults, that being told their careers would end if they said anything. And most of them are still dealing with the trauma and they are just still looking for justice and for closure on this. Kate.
BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Pamela, great reporting. Keeping at it. As always, thank you so much.
BERMAN: All right. Now, to historic strike shakes up the auto industry. This morning, auto workers have walked off the job at three important plants. So, what happens next?
BOLDUAN: On strike. Workers walk out of three important auto plants as the first ever union strike against the big three auto companies at the very same time kicks off. President Biden is about to weigh in as the U.S. economy could feel the hurt.
BERMAN: Could Hunter Biden face even more federal charges? We have new reporting this morning on the possibility of another federal indictment.