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Rupert Murdoch To Step Down As Chairman Of Fox Corp, Fox News; Nine-Year-Old Girl Among Seven Injured In Attacks On Kyiv; TX City Declares Emergency Over Migrant Crossings. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired September 21, 2023 - 11:30   ET



KATIE ROBERTSON, MEDIA REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Them, trying to show that there's something orderly happening here that you know, this was business as usual that this is just a planned succession that you know it's going from the hands of Rupert to the hands of Lachlan. They're trying to portray that the company is operating in an orderly way.

SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. I think you both agreed. You're almost finishing each other's sentences, that things aren't going to change a whole lot and what people see on the air. Correct, Oliver?

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: That's correct. I wouldn't expect any immediate changes. I think what really people are looking for, as Katie said --

SIDNER: All right. I am so sorry, Oliver, I have to cut you off. I apologize because we are now watching the Pentagon. I think you see Lloyd Austin there and you see President Zelenskyy coming out and talking. Let's listen in.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, what do you need from the Pentagon?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, do you think the U.S. is going to send ATACMS to Ukraine?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Secretary Austin, why not approve the ATACMS?


SIDNER: OK. So, we just watched President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine. After his meetings on Capitol Hill, we watched him be greeted at his door of his car by Lloyd Austin. They are going inside and they are going to have a bilateral meeting going on there.

And then after that meeting, they are all expected to go and lay a wreath at the 9/11 Memorial. These are significant moments as Ukraine is still in the midst of a terribly deadly war. And Zelenskyy is asking the United States for more help to try to push Russia out of his country. Over to, Kate. KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we'll continue to follow those developments over the Pentagon. We're also taking -- we're also watching very closely this, a possible breakthrough in Hollywood after nearly five months of a standoff. The studios in the Writers Union, they seem to be making strides in contract negotiations.

This morning, writers and executives from four major studios are planning a second day of talks. Yesterday ended with people feeling -- "feeling encouraged" is how it's described to a person familiar with the discussions. And they also issued a joint statement to say that they would be meeting again today which -- that in and of itself at this point is a sign of progress.

CNN's Natasha Chen is live in Los Angeles for us. She's got more on this. How -- at this point, I mean, this strike has dragged on for that -- has gone on for months now. How significant would a deal be?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Very significant, Kate, the fact that last month they got together, but the talks did not go well. It's a good sign that they are back at the table this week after more than four and a half months of being on strike for the writers. Of course, the actors joined them for the last two months.

Just to remind folks because it has been several months what the writers are fighting for. Let's take a look at those bullet points. They would like to see better residuals when it comes to streaming content. So, right now, one of the problems is when you see -- watch a Netflix show or watch a show on any streaming platform, there's very little information about how many times that is being viewed versus a traditional network show where that -- those residuals were very carefully calculated, and people would get a bigger check for that.

They also want protections as far as artificial intelligence is concerned in terms of AI, perhaps taking over a lot of the writing that's happening. And they would like to see minimum staffing levels and duration of employment instead of what are you know trending as what's called mini rooms. So, there are a lot of issues that they have to go through.

There were CEOs of major studios in the room yesterday, the CEOs of Disney, of Warner Brothers Discovery, of Netflix, and the head of NBC Universal. And so yes, the description was that they were feeling encouraged by this. But there's still a lot of skepticism as well among rank-and-file writers and actors.

Our crew met up with an actor, Noah Wyle, whom you might remember from ER on the picket line. Here's what he said.


NOAH WYLE, ACTOR: This is a really significant window of opportunity these next couple of weeks. If we were able to get back to the table and talk, that's a small possibility to get things into production before the holidays. You miss that window and there's a de facto push to the after the holidays because nobody's going to want to work or put anything to you know green light before then. So, it's going to be a really tight Christmas for a lot of people, and a really uncertain New Year.


CHEN: It's already been extremely tight financially, not just for the actors and writers, but so many businesses that support productions. Not just in California but in Georgia, in New York, a lot of layoffs have happened. And the Milken Institute tells me that the financial damage from these double strikes has surpassed five billion dollars, Kate, pushing six billion dollars. We'll see what happens with today's talks.

BOLDUAN: All right. Natasha, thank you for keeping track -- keeping a close eye on this. John?


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. New allegations of groping against Rudy Giuliani. The White House aide who says it happened the day of the Capitol attack. And now, Giuliani is responding.


BOLDUAN: This morning, a 9-year-old girl is among seven people who were injured after an overnight aerial attack on Kyiv. New video in shows firefighters rushing to put out flames after that attack. The explosions just lit up the Kyiv skyline.


Ukraine says Russian missiles targeted energy facilities in Kyiv and other cities. The barrage of missiles coming as Ukrainian prosecutors continue to investigate more than 3000 criminal cases of alleged Russian crimes against children. That's children alone. Yesterday, Secretary of State Tony Blinken described the human toll of Russia's war on the people of Ukraine while speaking to the UN.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The soldiers force more than 300 civilians, mostly women, children, and elderly people into a basement not fit for human habitation. There was no room to sit, let alone lie down. When they cried out to their captors that people were sick and needed medical care, a Russian soldier yelled back, let them die. The Russians only allowed the removal of bodies once a day. So children, parents, husbands, and wives were forced to spend hours next to the corpses of their loved ones.


BOLDUAN: What the Secretary describing there is really torture. And joining us now is Dr. Alice Jill Edwards. She's the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment. She's a UN torture expert.

Thank you so much, Dr. Edwards. I've been wanting to get you on the show and I really appreciate you taking the time to speak with me. You were recently -- you recently submitted just this week, a report from your findings of being on the ground in Ukraine and what you have learned. And to summarize for everyone some of what came out of your report, two lines really stuck out to me from your report. I'll read them for everyone.

Russia's armed aggression is becoming synonymous with torture and other inhumane -- inhuman cruelty. And even worse was this. These grievous acts appear to neither to be -- to be neither random nor incidental but rather orchestrated as part of a state policy.

What did you find? What did you see and hear when you were there to lead you to what is really a horrific and brutal conclusion?

DR. ALICE EDWARDS, UN SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON TORTURE: Thanks so much for having me on and for continuing to broadcast these important issues. Look. It's a very grim situation and seems to be getting worse as the conflict continues.

I met with a number of victims and survivors of detention by Russian forces in the occupied areas, both men and women. Their stories are quite harrowing, brutal, torture, orchestrated, in my opinion, at the highest levels. I've called on the Russian authorities to send a signal to their soldiers and to the military command that any form of abuse and torture is unacceptable. They haven't done it.

BOLDUAN: Because this reinforces what has been feared. And hearing it from you, an independent voice in this is really critical that what amounts to a policy potentially of torture is being directed right from the top of leadership in Russia. What have you heard from Russia about this?

EDWARDS: Look. I sent a long letter to the Russian authorities in which I submitted a number of cases that came from a large collection of credible testimonies back in June. They had 60 days to reply. They haven't done so.

This letter that I sent is part of the procedures that I'm part of which is to advise the Human Rights Council of the United Nations. And I've put them on notice essentially that they are required now. They have a duty to investigate and prosecute their own forces who may have been engaged in this conduct.

According to the Ukrainian authorities, they have opened 103,000 proceedings into different types of criminal behavior. And of those -- of the detention cases, they report that 90 percent of their soldiers, as well as civilians, are reporting torture and other forms of inhuman treatment. The people I spoke to back that up both victims and survivors, but also their advocates and lawyers.

I found the information to be credible, I found a pattern of abuse and a system of abuse. It's -- you can't turn a blind eye once you're on notice. And if you don't do anything about it, it is also part of state policy.

[11:45:01] BOLDUAN: I mean I think no one would ever want to be excused to have very little confidence that the Russian president would be changing tactics at this point if they have little confidence or hope that that would happen, and so because as Vladimir Putin is currently himself facing war crimes at the ICC.

Short of making the war end if you will, I mean, do you think anything is going to stop this behavior as this drags on? I mean, how do you hold these people accountable?

EDWARDS: Look. The road to peace and the road to justice is always a long one. What I was impressed about in this conflict compared to many others is that this documentation and investigation of such war crimes is being undertaken in real-time. They are conducting as best as possible with the resources that they have, which is increasing all the time, forensic documentation, as well as taking testimonies, as well as providing support to victims and survivors.

But short of the end of the war, there are also challenges to the investigations and prosecutions, not least the Ukrainians do not have control over much of the territory in which such crimes are being committed. I also heard worries now amongst the Ukrainian authorities that in fact, after prisoner swaps, those that are left behind are being treated far worse than those that have been released.

Kind of as an intimidation and threat to all of us in the international community not to speak up and to speak out. So, it's a very worrying trend. And peace really is the only way to solve it.

BOLDUAN: It is so horrific to have to even report on. Let alone I'm sure the stories that you heard directly from some of these people who suffered -- who have suffered through this. And it continues on and on. And as you have seen, in your opinion, which is so crucial, is that you see this as essentially state policy -- a state policy now is to systemic policy, which we directed from Russian leadership.

Dr. Alice Jill Edwards, thank you very much for your work and for coming on. We'll continue to follow it. Thank you.

EDWARDS: Thank you so much.


BERMAN: All right. We do have breaking news, a sign that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is losing or maybe has lost control of the Republican caucus. He just lost a major vote on the House floor.

CNN's Melanie Zanona, live on Capitol Hill. I don't think leadership saw this coming, Melanie. What exactly just happened?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: No, you're right. They didn't. We asked them that after the vote. And they said no. They did not see this coming.

This is an embarrassing defeat for Kevin McCarthy and his leadership team. It is the second time that a procedural vote on a defense bill has failed on the House floor this week.

Usually, you don't see those things fail at all. They typically have party-line votes for these procedural votes. Typically, they do not put stuff on the floor if leadership thinks it's going to fail.

And after it failed the first time this week, they went back to the drawing board. They tried to get conservatives on board. They had this two-hour meeting yesterday, where they worked out their differences. And they thought they finally had a path ahead.

But it turns out they did it. In fact, two Republicans who had initially voted for that same vote earlier this week, they flipped and voted against it. So, their problems -- their math problems are getting worse

And I think the big picture here, John, is that the House is paralyzed right now. They can't move forward. They're trying to do spending bills in the long term. They can't do that. They're trying to do a short-term funding bill, but they're not going to be able to do that either. We're hearing they won't have the votes.

And so, this strategy for Kevin McCarthy of trying to just work within his own ranks and only do things with the votes of his Republican Party is clearly not working. He may have to start looking towards Democrats to actually start getting things done. And there is this growing frustration in the party right now in the GOP with each other -- with each other's colleagues, and you might actually start to see that happen.

The problem, of course, is if McCarthy worked with Democrats, he could face a motion to make -- a motion to vacate the speaker's chair. That would be a vote to remove him. So, it's all very complicated, but the big picture here, the House is paralyzed, John.

BERMAN: Look. I know it sounds arcane to people what just happened happen to be a vote on a rule on a Defense Department appropriation. But you have to look at the big picture here, which is that Kevin McCarthy and his team for the past 12 hours have been messaging optimism. They thought they fixed this, and it's the exact opposite, Melanie. They lost votes from where they were. Does he have a plan?

ZANONA: That's a great question. I don't think Kevin McCarthy even knows what his plan is at this point. Like I said, as of right now, they were planning on trying to put a short-term spending bill on the floor on Saturday, work through the weekend to try to get this short- term bill to fund the government but doesn't look like that have the votes.


And so, it is back to the drawing board for leadership and for Kevin McCarthy, especially. He's going to have some really big decisions to make. And the problem for Kevin McCarthy is some of these members, when you ask them, what do they need, what do they want, they don't have an answer. And Kevin McCarthy loaded up that GOP bill with all these conservative priorities, basically giving them anything and anything they wanted to get them to yes, and it still was not enough. There are just some members who are agitating for a fight and agitating for a shutdown. And so, that is the problem for Kevin McCarthy right now.

BERMAN: Government shutdown hangs in the balance. Kevin McCarthy's job as Speaker very much hangs in the balance this morning. Melanie Zanona, keep us posted.

ZANONA: Thank you.

BERMAN: Obviously, a lot of breaking news. We'll be right back.


SIDNER: The mayor of a Texas border city is pleading for help as the members and the numbers of migrant crossings have increased significantly. A source tells CNN nearly 3000 migrants crossed near the city of Eagle Pass, Texas in just one day. The mayor signed an emergency declaration hoping to get financial help and frankly, more services. The Defense Department is now sending around 800 new active duty personnel to help at the border.

Ed Lavandera is live from Eagle Pass right now. Ed, what are you seeing as you're literally right there near the border?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we're right on the river here in Eagle Pass. And if you look just down the embankment into the Rio Grande, you can see right now, there is a group of close to a hundred people. I've been speaking with him through this concertina wire. There's about a hundred migrants there from Venezuela who have crossed over here this morning where we have seen hundreds of crossings once again here this morning.

We've seen also federal border agents processing many of the migrants who have been able to make it through some of this concertina wire. That goes a rather long distance through this section of Eagle Pass, but many of the people who are down there who I've been talking to say they are not willing to go back across the river into Mexico because it's simply too dangerous over there. Many of these people say they've been waiting and traveling a long time to get here to the United States.

So here, they sit in a very precarious and dangerous situation on the bank of the river here in Eagle Pass. And they say that they've been robbed, they've been attacked by Mexican authorities on the other side of the border, that's why they're not willing to go across here. I asked one of them at one point, that crossing this way between ports of entry that the likelihood -- according to federal authorities here is that the likelihood of being returned and deported after being processed here in the United States is very high.


They simply just told me that that is a risk that they're willing to take. So, this is the situation that many border communities are finding themselves in as they are coping with this large surge of migrants arriving here in the United States. Really, focused on this area of Eagle Pass, South Texas, and into the El Paso area as well.

We have seen several hundred migrants who have been processed who have been able to manage to get through some of this wire that extends a really long distance here south out of Eagle Pass here, Sara. So, a situation where you know exactly how this is going to unfold and what is going to happen to these people as they sit here. And they're telling us that they're unwilling to go back across the river because it's far too dangerous over there, Sara.

SIDNER: Yes. And the desperation they left their countries for has kept them there. Ed Lavandera, I know you've been there. I know you've been in El Paso and seeing the crisis on that side of the border. Thank you so much for that reporting today. Extraordinary picture.

BERMAN: Indeed. All right. A lot of breaking news. Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Washington, DC. Kevin McCarthy, the House Speaker, tries to hang on to his job.

This has been CNN NEWS CENTRAL. "INSIDE POLITICS" is up next.