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King Charles, Siblings Leave Cathedral After Vigil At Queen's Coffin; Ukraine Liberates Huge Swaths Of Kharkiv Region In Major Advance; Deputies From 18 Municipal Districts In Moscow, St. Petersburg Call For Putin's Resignation; Trump Team Opposes DOJ's Special Master Candidates, Declining To Give Reasons Publicly. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired September 12, 2022 - 15:00   ET


SALLY BEDELL SMITH, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, it is. This is stage one. And the next one, obviously, will be in London, the Westminster Hall ritual as obviously been done before. But we are going to see something unusual in the Queen's funeral in Westminster Abbey, that hasn't happened I believe since the reign of George III. All the royal funerals have taken place at St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle. And, of course, that is going to be the third part of this extraordinary set of ceremonies and commemorations and that is of course where the Queen is going to be buried in the George VI Chapel and where the Duke of Edinburgh's remains will be joining her. He's in the general vault underneath the chapel now.

So it is going to - it's a multi part commemoration and equal - each part is going to be equally dramatic. And I think the crowds in London and Windsor are going to be extraordinary ...


SMITH: ... when George VI, when he had the lying in state in Westminster Hall in 1952, there were something like 305,000 filed by the catafalque and I think we're going to see way more than that.

QUEST: Sally, thank you. Sally Bedell Smith, Isa Soares and Bianca I'm grateful we see the vigil continues with members of the various Scottish regiments and military now taking their place as well at the catafalque.

Alisyn and Victor, I think what you we've said a million times and it's worth repeating, we've never seen anything like this before. We've prepared for it. We've known about it, but the size and scale of this is going to be so enormous. And it will be of a magnitude we've not seen before, especially when the world leaders like President Biden start arriving in London.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Yes, certainly far larger crowds expected in London, but they're in Edinburgh, thousands of people, maybe 10 rows back alongside that walk this morning, and now they're filing through St. John's Cathedral to pay tribute to the late Queen.

Richard Quest there leading our special coverage, thank you. Let's bring in now Royal Commentator Hilary Fordwich and Richard Lett.

Richard served as a royal personal protection officer. He escorted Prince William and Prince Harry as they walked behind the Queen Mother's coffin after her death in 2002.

And Richard, let me start with you, because on that specific element, I was watching this as it's called the vigils of the princes with the four children standing there at the coffin, and thinking about how few people in the world have to both be on display with duty at the forefront, but still grieve. We, in this country, have seen public funerals, obviously, but it is not their mother who is in that casket. What you watched? What did you think and feel?

RICHARD LETT, FORMER ROYAL PERSONAL PROTECTION OFFICER: Well, it was an amazing experience to not only walk behind the coffin down to Westminster Hall, but when she was then on the catafalque and you have all of the Royal Guards regiments standing, looking incredibly impressive and solemn. But what you've just been watching on TV, the vigil of the princess, when Princess Anne and the Princess Royal wasn't party to that, it was done in the evening. Prince William and Harry and other members of a family watched sort from the balcony.

So it's very similar, there's a continuity, but there's also a lot of modernization in what we're seeing today. But it was very, very moving and very moving for the family because obviously, being with them, you're aware of actually how sad and how this impacts them personally. But then you have that public face where you're also mourning on behalf of the nation and people.

And so it's - there's two huge roles there which I think one has to understand to think of the enormity of what's on their shoulders at this point.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Hilary, I think we have some live pictures of now the streams of people from the public who are coming in to pay their respects to the Queen. We've seen pictures from outside as Victor was saying, people standing many, many lines deep just on the Royal Mile watching her adult children, obviously King Charles go by and now they're going in to pay their respects.

And it was interesting to see her four children, Hilary, we don't - I think in the U.S., we don't pay as much attention to her four adult children as we do to her - some of her grandchildren and particularly to King Charles' sons: Harry and William. So it was interesting to see all four of them together, what were your thoughts as you watched?

HILARY FORDWICH, ROYAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, you're absolutely right. A few things here, firstly, there's a lot about the relationships between each of them. I think the most important thing when watching is to remember this is for people putting duty above everything else. Because, of course, how are they feeling right now, look at their self-control that they must have for their mother on her behalf, on behalf of a nation, on behalf of the Commonwealth, I think it's extremely admirable how many of us would ever want to have to do that. Now in terms of their relationship and their relationship with the

public and the relationship with all the British and those throughout the Commonwealth, Princess Anne is known as the hardest working royal. She actually has competitions with her brother, now King Charles. They're only 21 months apart, so they've been very close over the years.

She was by her mother's bedside, as was King Charles, when their mother passed. Every single thing that you're seeing, it's very important to remember everything, don't forget, that the Queen approved, so she knew all this was going to be taking place. And then other parts of the relationship, of course, Prince Andrew has never particularly had a good relationship with King Charles for many, many, many years. They have different hobbies. They have different ideas about things, so they have not gotten along particularly well.

And then Prince Edward has been immensely dutiful. He's a lot younger than King Charles. He's 15 years younger and he's, of course, now on the county of Wessex. His wife, the Countess of Wessex, was really one of the closest to the Queen. She is very involved in all of this and she was the only spouse actually that went up to Balmoral, but the only two that made it in time were the now-King Charles and Princess Anne.

BLACKWELL: As we keep these pictures of the Scottish people and likely some tourists passing through St. John's Cathedral, Richard, we heard not only from King Charles today, but also members of the Scottish Parliament about how much the late Queen loved Scotland, loved Balmoral, spent five to six weeks there in the summer with the entire family. King Charles said it was her haven and her home there in Scotland. Should we expect the same from King Charles that he will be spending as much time there? Does he love it, from your experience, as much as his late mother did?

LETT: Oh, I think very much so. I mean, you certainly, all stories you hear how much the Queen loved Balmoral, whether she would be out of the cabins almost every night with a barbecue with the Duke of Edinburgh, she would serve and she would clean up and she was just in a - very happy to have the family around.

But the same for the king, I mean, the king is very, very fond and familiar. He loves walking. He would walk for miles and walk for miles across the estate and also he's painting. He has many, many hundreds of paintings of Balmoral. And so he loves to be out fishing, walking, painting, so I think you're going to see him very much adopting. He loved Scotland. He loved Balmoral. He loved - so I think you will see a lot of continuity there. They were very similar in that regard.

CAMEROTA: Hilary, let's talk about her grandchildren now the ones that we focus on the most, obviously, William and Harry and their wives, Meghan and Kate. And so they've been reunited as a result of this. We saw them together for the first time this weekend. So just tell us what you saw in all of - those four. We obviously all know that there has been tension and that Meghan and Harry had exited the Royal Family, at least the - their official duties. So what do you see when you see them here together? FORDWICH: Well along to that, if you just don't mind me adding what

Richard said was wonderful. One of the things that's most daunting for those prime ministers or those that have been to barbecues was having the Royal Family served them. Because when they went on those picnics, Prince Philip would be barbecuing, but all the members of the Royal Family would do the cleaning up and cleaning away the dishes.


And prime ministers said that gosh it's nothing more daunting than being served upon by the Royal Family.

But now to your question with regard to Fab Four, as they've been known, being reunited, a few things here, it's purported. Now, perhaps this - not totally confirmed but purported that Meghan Markle had one of her PR firms who was having a U.S. network cover her for the walkabout and then there came the instruction to Prince William to extend the invitation for them instead to join him.

Prince William is now the Prince of Wales and his wife, the former Duchess of Cambridge, Catherine Middleton, who's actually now of course, the Princess of Wales. So that's why that occurred purportedly, I should say, at this juncture. The body language I thought was somewhat strained out there. I thought it was very good. I think it's very important. And it's very sad that the Queen did not see this in her lifetime. I'm sure it was - everybody says that they're sure that this is what she would have wanted.

And I think when you saw the body language, I think a picture says thousand words and I thought that Prince William was definitely trying his absolute utmost pointing things out. I did actually think that the Duchess of Cambridge and let's just say now she's, of course, the Princess of Wales, was - she seems strange, but she could also be very upset because she was so close to the Queen too.

BLACKWELL: Well, thank you, Hilary Fordwich, Richard Lett and as we are now looking there at St. John's Cathedral sundown there and helping us to understand these relationships within the Royal Family.

Let's turn now to the stunning battlefield transformation happening in Ukraine. And it could signal a turning point in the 200-day old war now. It's a fast moving counter attack. Ukrainian forces have recaptured nearly 1200 square miles of territory in the Kharkiv region. As you can see up here in the yellow spaces on this map, it's more land than Russia has been able to conquer over the last five months.

CAMEROTA: During this unexpected blitz, Ukrainian forces have taken back and liberated several key towns and you can see here they're getting hugs from locals and little resistance from retreating Russian troops. Russia responded to the battlefield setbacks with new airstrikes in the region today. And CNN's Melissa Bell is in her Kharkiv and joins us again.

So Melissa, just tell us how has this changed the landscape, this new offensive by Ukraine and then the counter offensive? MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: Well, when you look at that

map, Alisyn, it's really quite remarkable. Remember that this all began with a counter offensive that was focused on the south, the Kherson region. And that signaling that key very cleverly carried out, we believe led Russian forces to be underprepared in the east where that second counter offensive was launched about a week ago and it is here in the Kharkiv region that those most spectacular advances have been achieved.

Now, Ukrainians remaining very tight-lipped, but what we are seeing is those images on social media posted by the soldiers themselves as they reach the new villages, the new settlements as they continue that march forward being posted and really quite remarkable as we're able to track their progress, eastwards across the Kharkiv region and then southwards with the latest advances tonight, down by the border with the Donetsk region.

They've crossed the Seversky Donets river with the first village taken there and that is really fast. Now, we're hearing a number of things from the frontline to which we have very little access that there are some villages and part of east of the Kharkiv region that have been taken almost without a fight with word of soldiers arriving and finding the equipment and uniforms of Russian soldiers behind and locals telling us that they've seen the Russian soldiers simply flee other towns, the more strategic ones that are being defended.

Still, though, the fact that the Ukrainian forces have been able to move so far forward and so fast are really impressive test of the Russian strength on the ground and I think this has surprised everyone Ukraine, but also its allies, that the Russian defenses should be so slim, should be so poor. And what's happened now as a result of that line heading southwards in the Kharkiv region is that, should that continue as it's happened over the course of the last few days, it is the Russian forces that find themselves to the west of it, that could be in real trouble.

It's what the Ukrainian forces trying to achieve down in Kherson, essentially cutting off, there's some 20,000 Russian forces currently in the city of Kherson, the only one on the right bank of the Dnieper from their supply routes. And for the time being, these counter offensives seem to be going remarkably well.

BLACKWELL: Melissa Bell for us there in Kharkiv. Melissa, thank you.

CAMEROTA: So the battlefield setbacks are forcing Russian president, Vladimir Putin, to face growing criticism at home.

BLACKWELL: Deputies from 18 municipal districts in Moscow and St. Petersburg are now calling for Putin's resignation.


This is a rare rebuke. Steve Hall is a former CIA Chief of Russia Operations and a CNN National Security Analyst. Steve, good to see you. We all know the crackdown on opposition to this invasion in Russia. So

when we see these 18 people come out and say that what Putin is doing is 'detrimental to Russia and its citizens' future. What's the significance?

STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, it's pretty significant and I think it's certainly going to catch the attention of not just Vladimir Putin, but certainly the security services and the police and so forth inside of Russia to look at these folks very, very carefully.

If I were them, I'd be a little bit nervous right now, but I'm sure that they sort of knew that going into this whole thing. I think the thing we have to remember sitting - especially sitting here in the West, where when we talk about people taking to the streets and protesting, some of that is happening, some of that's happened in the past in Russia and I think they'll probably be more of it in the future, but that isn't what really moves Vladimir Putin. It's not what concerns he and his inner circle.

It's actually the inner circle guys who are doing a very delicate balance in their own heads saying, "Look, where's the tipping point? Where is the point of no return? Where's the point where it's getting so bad, that we who are very heavily invested in Putin system have to have a quiet conversation with him?" Or perhaps take it another direction, a direction with him as well.

CAMEROTA: Well, I was just - I mean, I hear what you're saying about these municipal deputies. But the fact that they're doing it so publicly, Steve, I just think is really striking. I mean, here's what - they signed a petition. They spelled out their grievances with Vladimir Putin. I'll read you a portion of it.

"We, the municipal deputies of Russia, believe that the actions of its president, Vladimir Putin, are detrimental to Russia and its citizens' future. We demand Vladimir Putin's resignation from the post of President of the Russian Federation."

I mean, you know how this works, do these 18 municipal deputies disappear now? I mean, does he stand for this?

HALL: That's an internal calculation and whenever you look at the inside of the Kremlin, it's a little bit like looking at the Game of Thrones. You never know who's testing who and who's going to disappear and how it's going to happen. If I were these, one of those 18 people who registered that complaint, I would be staying away from hospitals and windows and high terraces, because that - they have a tendency to slip and fall off those things when they say these types of things.

But all joking about it aside, this does raise the temperature inside of Russia. And again, Russia has all sorts of ability to basically just make these guys disappear, subject them to very stiff fines, caused them to lose office. They can repress whoever they want. But that doesn't change the fact as you correctly pointed out, that people are talking openly about this, which is just a few months ago. I don't think it would have been possible. That's going to catch the eyes of guys like Patrushev and others who

are senior in the security and intelligence services, they're going to start asking, how far are we going to let this go, how far are we going to let Putin go if he continues to buckle down against Ukraine.

CAMEROTA: Okay. Steve Hall, thank you very much for all the context there.

All right. Meanwhile, back here, Donald Trump's lawyers have made a new request to the federal judge about those documents seized at Mar- A-Lago that are labeled top secret and classified. We'll explain next.

BLACKWELL: And later President Biden's new plans for his Cancer Moonshot initiative here in the CNN NEWSROOM.



CAMEROTA: We're just getting information into our newsroom that attorneys for Donald Trump oppose the two candidates that the DOJ proposed to be special master. They're declining to give reasons for their objections.

BLACKWELL: All right. Let's go down to Jennifer Rodgers, who's a former federal prosecutor and CNN Legal Analyst who's - we got Katelyn Polantz.

CAMEROTA: And Jennifer Rodgers, look at that.

BLACKWELL: Let's bring them both in. Let's start with Katelyn with the reporting, what do you know?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, today the Trump legal team is coming into court and they're still maintaining this broad view that Donald Trump keeps power over his records from his administration even after he leaves the presidency. So specifically in a new court filing today, Donald Trump's lawyers say he has an absolute right of access to documents even now whether or not they're classified, whether or not they were appropriately being kept at Mar-A-Lago after the presidency, so these are pretty bold legal arguments.

So this filing from the Trump team really today is about downplaying the alarmism that the Justice Department has expressed in court about national security documents that they now have in their government - in the government's hands and as Trump does in court, he's continuing to try to slow things down. Trump's request here today is asking for his team to review the seized classified records along with a third party appointee, a special master, we've heard this refrain before.

All of this, essentially, would put on hold the criminal probe the Justice Department is pursuing. But we know from last week in this case, Victor and Alisyn, the Justice Department wants to move quickly and keep working through the subset of more than a hundred documents marked as classified that they removed from Mar-A-Lago last month. So this is the latest request, it's about timing, and it's about who can see these classified documents yet. The judge hasn't responded to this particular back and forth yet.

CAMEROTA: Okay. Katelyn Polantz, thank you very much for explaining all of your new reporting for us.

Let's bring in Jennifer Rodgers now. So a big shocker, Donald Trump's team doesn't like the proposed special master from the Department of Justice. I could have seen that coming. But here's my question, I understand that they want to freeze the criminal probe. What about the national security damage assessment? Would any judge out there, Jennifer, stop the national security assessment because the thought is that people around the country, I mean, around the world could be in danger because of all of this?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So the answer is no. No judge would stop it, but Judge Cannon already allowed for that, right?


She already said, you can use it as far as the national security assessment goes. You just can't use it for the criminal investigation. What's happened is DOJ came back and said, we can't separate out those two because we need the FBI to help us figure out whether there's any damage here. So now they said, Judge, you got to let us do this side in order to do the other side. And the question is, what does she say to that.

BLACKWELL: So on the new reporting, you've got the two proposals or two names presented from the DOJ, two from the Trump team. Trump says we don't like the DOJ has proposed, what happens now? Does one team's selections, do they have more weight than the other?

RODGERS: Well, first of all, the notion that Team Trump doesn't want to offend anyone or damage anyone's reputation by making a public filing is silly. I hope and assume the judge will not allow them to make a sealed filing on this, this is a matter of great public interest and how she chooses this special master is really important to your point, so I think it needs to be transparent.

So the answer is not really, both sides propose a couple of people, they can make arguments for who they think it should be, but the judge will choose. Now, three of the four or the types of candidates you would think would be in the mix, normally, a former federal judges, that sort of thing.

So she has qualified people to choose from. I suspect, given what she's done to date, she will go with one of the Team Trump folks just to say, once again, she's given him all the procedure and all of the (inaudible)--

BLACKWELL: But she could choose a fifth person who's not on the list at all, is that possible?

RODGERS: She could, in theory, but I suspect that she won't. I mean, I don't know who she would turn to and these people have - they've put forward qualified names.


CAMEROTA: Okay, I want to move on to another issue and that is that Geoffrey Berman, the former U.S. Attorney for the supreme - Southern District of New York, is talking about the pressure that he and his office were under from the DOJ under Donald Trump to prosecute President Trump's political enemies. And we didn't know really how the lengths that Team Trump was going to go to get some of his political enemies such as John Kerry. So here is what Geoffrey Berman, who - this is in his new book, here's what he said this morning.


GEOFFREY BERMAN, FORMER UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: President Trump attacks John Kerry in two tweets saying that Kerry engaged in possible illegal conversations with Iranian officials regarding the Iran nuclear deal. The very next day, the Trump Justice Department refers the John Kerry criminal case to the Southern District of New York, two tweets by the President and the John Kerry criminal case becomes a priority for the Department of Justice. And the statute they wanted us to use was enacted in 1799 and had never been successfully prosecuted.


CAMEROTA: What can you say to that?

RODGERS: Yes, so it's incredibly disappointing to those of us who were at the Justice Department to see what happened to the Justice Department under Donald Trump and Bill Barr. Bill Barr, I think claimed he didn't read the President's tweets and this seems to suggest the contrary.

We knew that they had tried to influence what SDNY and others were doing around the country in terms of criminal prosecutions, I mean, famously in some instances: Roger Stone, Michael Flynn and so on. But the notion that he would say you should prosecute this person and then Bill Barr and his folks would send a referral and say you should prosecute this person. JOHN Kerry, and also in the Greg Craig case, they tried to interfere. It's just - it goes against everything the Justice Department should be - and I think the damage to the integrity of DOJ from this is we're still feeling it today.

BLACKWELL: Certainly alarming. Jen Rodgers, thank you.

CAMEROTA: Largest nursing strike in America - in American history started today, as thousands of nurses walked out. We'll explain where and why.

BLACKWELL: And we continue to follow these stunning scenes out of Scotland where long lines of people are paying their respects to the late Queen Elizabeth, stay with us.