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Biden Arrives In New York Ahead Of U.N. General Assembly Speech; Interview With Representative Joaquin Castro (D-TX) About Spending Bill And Immigration Issues; Trump Insists It's His Decision To Try To Overturn 2020 Election; Manhunt Underway After Fatal Shooting Of Deputy In Los Angeles; Negotiations Resume With Ford, GM Automakers; Libya Flooding Death Toll Revised Downward To Under 4,000; Ukraine: Dancing In Defiance; Iran Protests. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired September 17, 2023 - 19:00   ET



JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: Biden's appearance on the world stage comes as he faces a looming government shutdown, a House impeachment inquiry, and scrutiny over his son's indictment on felony gun charges.

Let's go to CNN's Arlette Saenz over at the White House for us right now.

Arlette, what more do we know about what's on tap for the president this week?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, it's shaping up to be a big foreign policy week for President Biden as he has now arrived in New York City where he will attend the United Nations General Assembly. On Tuesday, he will give remarks in front of that group. The White House saying that he will lay out America's vision for leadership around the world and also talk about the need for countries to work together to confront some of the biggest challenges they're facing.

But in addition to that large meeting, the president also will be holding one-on-one meetings with various world leaders throughout the week. Some of the most closely watched meetings will include a meeting on Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. There had been a lot of questions about whether such a meeting would even take place since Netanyahu came into power last year.

The White House has expressed criticism about Netanyahu's government's plans to overhaul their judicial system. So there had been questions about whether the two leaders would meet at the White House or at UNGA. And it does turn out that that meeting will happen in New York City on Wednesday.

The president also will be meeting with Brazilian President Lula da Silva for the first time as well. And then after the president wraps things up in New York City, he comes back here to Washington for perhaps the most consequential meeting of the week with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The president will meet with him here. They'll likely be discussing that counteroffensive that's under way against Russia.

But it also comes at a time when President Biden is trying to get more aid for Ukraine passed up on Capitol Hill. That is something that many House Republicans have expressed opposition to. So right now, while the president is hoping they will be able to pass that in the supplemental funding request, it's unclear whether that will actually become a reality.

So perhaps as Zelenskyy's meeting here at the White House, he also will be traveling up to Capitol Hill to meet with lawmakers. Perhaps that will serve as a motivating factor the White House is hoping in trying to get some of this aid across the finish line.

ACOSTA: And Arlette, on top of everything else, there is the threat of a government shutdown looming over Washington, D.C. Any signs of progress on that front?

SAENZ: Well, we learned just moments ago that the Freedom Caucus and the main street caucus in the House, both Republican groups, that they've come to an agreement about a government spending bill that includes a border security package and more spending cuts. But one issue here is that even if it were to pass the House, it's dead on arrival in the Senate, still leaving many questions about whether they will be able to fund the government by September 30th.

And earlier today, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said that he will put forward a defense spending bill on the House floor after there had been some disagreements within his own caucus about the way forward. Take a listen.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Unfortunately I had a handful of members last week that literally the Republicans stopped the Department of Defense appropriations from coming forward. We will do that this week. I gave them an opportunity this weekend to try to work through this, and we'll bring it to the floor, win or lose, and show the American public who's for the Department of Defense.


SAENZ: These lawmakers are really heading into crunch time as they just have two weeks before government funding is set to expire on September 30th.

ACOSTA: Arlette Saenz, with the breaking information there on these talks on the budget. We always appreciate when you're with us, Arlette. Thank you so much on this Sunday evening.

Arlette Saenz, at the White House.

Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro of Texas.

Congressman, let me just jump right into this. It sounds as though on the Republican side of things, and of course who knows what happens after that, that they might have some kind of a deal on a short-term spending bill to avoid a government shutdown at the end of the month. We're just hearing this now from our Arlette Saenz and our colleagues up on Capitol Hill. Your thoughts on that? It sounds as though that doesn't exactly get us to the finish line, but is that progress?

REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D-TX): Well, I'm glad that they're talking. Their conference, the Republican conference has been in chaos the last few weeks with folks like Matt Gaetz and others threatening to make a motion to vacate to remove Speaker Kevin McCarthy and other threats as well. So I'm glad that they're finally talking among themselves and trying to come to an agreement.

Now, because this news just broke, I have not seen what they're proposing. I do hope that we can avoid a government shutdown. In 2013 when Republicans shut down the government back then, it was very, very costly to millions of Americans. So I'd like to avoid that this time.

ACOSTA: And on top of everything else, House Republicans are launching into this impeachment inquiry. Speaker McCarthy caving to demands from far-right members of the Freedom Caucus, as you know, in launching this inquiry into the president. Your response to that, and what do you think?


I mean, what about the history of all of this? Back in the late '90s, House Republicans impeached President Clinton. It ended up helping Bill Clinton back in those days. His approval numbers went up. Might this be something that backfires on the Republicans, and are House Democrats thinking maybe we should sit back and watch this happen?

CASTRO: Yes. I mean an impeachment inquiry is obviously a very serious thing that shouldn't be taken lightly. And Republicans are upset about things that the president's son has done and are trying to hold the president accountable somehow by proxy. And so they haven't provided any evidence that President Biden has been involved in any wrongdoing. Every time you hear them talk they talk about the actions of Hunter Biden.

Well, you can't -- you're not going to hold a president responsible for what his son does. And so I'm not surprised that they're pursuing impeachment. They were upset that Democrats pursued impeachment against Donald Trump. Well, Donald Trump, himself directly, first tried to extort Ukraine and then secondly incited an insurrection, an attempted coup at the United States Capitol. And so his personal actions led to him being impeached, and of course he didn't get convicted in the Senate because Republicans protected him.

But those two things, what they're describing with Hunter Biden and what Donald Trump actually did himself are not comparable at all. But, you know, again, they're spending time on impeachment because it's a substitute for taking real action on the things that matter to Americans in their own lives, whether it's the economy and jobs, health care, education, immigration, whatever it may be. They have no policy solutions for those things, so they do this instead.

ACOSTA: And let me ask you about the former president. He was in this interview on "Meet the Press" earlier today. He said it was his decision to try to overturn the election results and to claim that the election was rigged back in 2020 despite his lawyers telling him otherwise. What do you think of that? What was your response when you saw that?

CASTRO: You know, I think that former President Trump can face the music. He's got four indictments now to answer for various crimes, and he'll have his time in court to explain why exactly he took the actions that he took.

ACOSTA: Let's talk about the border. You mentioned that a few moments ago. In a court filing yesterday, a juvenile care monitor said that U.S. Border Patrol agents are separating some migrant children from their parents while in U.S. custody. Officials have said that it's due to overcrowding at these short-term facilities.

Congressman, you and I have had conversations in the past on this program about what took place during the Trump administration when they were separating children at the border. What should be done about this after learning that some separations have been occurring during this administration by Border Patrol agents? What should happen?

CASTRO: Yes, it's wrong for young kids to be separated from their parents. It doesn't matter who the president is, whether it's a Republican or Democratic administration. It traumatizes kids. Now, I do think we need to make an important distinction here. What's being described as a separation of kids and parents at a facility, what happened under Donald Trump and Stephen Miller was that at the border, kids were ripped away from their parents and were not told where their parents were.

The parents were not told where the kids were being taken, et cetera. So both of those things can have obviously very negative and traumatic effects on the kids. But what Donald Trump and Stephen Miller did was essentially rip away kids from their parents without telling either of them where each was or where they were going.

ACOSTA: Does it give you any pause as to how the current administration is conducting its border policy, how it's handling the border issue right now? If they're getting into a crunch that's so bad that they're separating kids, does it give you some pause that the Biden administration needs to take a second look at what they're doing down there?

CASTRO: Yes. I mean what they need to do is come to Congress and ask for the money to be able to process people as quickly as possible and get them to those home sponsors. Remember, most of these people are on their way to stay with brothers or sisters or other relatives in, you know, whether it's in Maryland or any state across the country. So most of them have a place to go.

The system has to be set up to process those people quickly, not keep them languishing in a shelter somewhere else for a long time, and move them to that place so they can wait for their court hearing to come up.


ACOSTA: And let me ask you about the political drama that unfolded in Austin yesterday. I know sometimes you weigh in on what's happening in Texas politics. The Attorney General Ken Paxton was acquitted of all charges in his Senate impeachment trial. What was your response to that? Were you surprised by that outcome?

CASTRO: I mean I wasn't -- I guess I wasn't surprised, although it's weird because I wasn't surprised, but there's still a part of me that's just fundamentally shocked that even when presented with plain, compelling evidence, that a group of legislators, elected officials who are supposed to respect the rule of law and serve their constituents, wouldn't be able to do the right thing and for various reasons.

First, I think they were afraid of getting primaried. Donald Trump Jr., before the trial started went out on Twitter and talked about RINO hunting season. These few Texas billionaires who control the Texas Republican Party spent about $3 million or more on -- not only on a contribution first to the lieutenant governor, but then on ads to support Ken Paxton. And so in that environment, it became, I think, people having to choose their career and also, for some, their personal safety rather than voting to do the right thing.

And the result we have is that you have an indicted attorney general who is probably the most corrupt attorney general in the country, who will remain in office and go back to serving as attorney general.

ACOSTA: All right. Congressman Joaquin Castro, I did want -- we ran out of time, but I did want to get into your efforts on getting more music by Latino and Latino artists inducted into the National Recording Registry. Let's talk about that on another time, but I know you're working on that. But always appreciate you joining us. Thanks a lot, Congressman Joaquin Castro. Appreciate your time this evening. Thanks so much.

CASTRO: Good to be with you.

ACOSTA: All right. In the meantime, Donald Trump says he did not listen to his own lawyers. Not a big shocker there. But those lawyers were the ones who were telling him that he lost the 2020 election.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You hire them. You never met these people. You get a recommendation. They turn out to be RINOs or they turn out to be not so good. In many cases, I didn't respect them.


ACOSTA: Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti, he joins us next. There he is right there. We'll talk to him in just a few moments.

Coming up later, a Los Angeles sheriff's deputy ambushed, shot and killed. The latest on the manhunt for the person responsible. Plus an update from the autoworkers' picket line. Are the two sides any closer to a deal?

It's a busy Sunday evening here at CNN. We'll have it all covered for you. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



ACOSTA: Some new insights from former President Donald Trump today on his efforts to subvert the results of the 2020 election. During an interview with "Meet the Press," the former president claimed the idea was all his.


KRISTEN WELKER, MODERATOR, NBC'S "MEET THE PRESS": You called some of your outside lawyers. You said they had crazy theories. Why were you listening to them? Were you listening to them because they were telling you what you wanted to hear?

TRUMP: You know who I listened to? Myself. I saw what happened. I watched that election and I thought the election was over at 10:00 in the evening.

WELKER: Were you calling the shots then, Mr. President, ultimately?

TRUMP: As to whether or not I believed it was rigged, sure.


TRUMP: It was my decision.


ACOSTA: And joining me now to discuss, former federal prosecutor and host of the "It's Complicated" podcast, Renato Mariotti.

Renato, I feel like whenever I say the title of your podcast, it's the perfect segue to talking about former President Donald Trump. He's making things complicated for his own lawyers. He essentially took responsibility today during this interview on "Meet the Press," right?

RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: That's right. I mean he has a rather complicated state of mind.


MARIOTTI: I think what you just saw, Jim, is why he's never going to take the stand. And that's going to put Jack Smith in an interesting position because there are a lot of snippets of interviews of Donald Trump in which he admits a whole slew of things that could be used against him. And the question for Jack Smith is, do I want to put some of those things on and give him a chance because there will be some context right around those statements where he's, you know, got some self-serving comments. Am I going to give him the opportunity to put that stuff in front of

the jury without taking the stand? And so it will be an interesting decision for Jack Smith to make. My prediction is Jack Smith doesn't put that stuff into evidence and tries to force Donald Trump to take the stand if he wants to get any of that in front of the jury.

ACOSTA: Well, and it sounds like Trump is itching to possibly testify. I mean it depends on the trial, I suppose, as to whether he exercises that option. But, you know, in the same interview, Trump said he didn't listen to his lawyers because he did not respect them. With all the trouble that he's facing right now, I mean, what does that say about how he will treat his upcoming defense team at these various trials?

MARIOTTI: Yes. He is a criminal defense attorney's worst nightmare. You know, Jim, if you told me that a man who is supposedly a billionaire and was the president of the United States would have trouble finding lawyers willing to take his money to represent him, you know, if you told me that 10 years ago, I would be shocked. Now here we are, and he doesn't have any -- he doesn't have mega law firms like mine lining up to represent him.

He doesn't have, you know, a lot of his pick of the lawyers that you could imagine. He's got really a kind of a pieced-together scrabble of lawyers who really don't have the resources, frankly, to handle all of the criminal cases at once that he has brought upon himself. So really, you know, he is paying the price, and ultimately I think he will pay a price, you know, when he goes to trial.

ACOSTA: And something his lawyers are probably wincing at right now is his continued use of inflammatory comments during campaign events on social media.


Special Counsel Jack Smith is asking the judge for a court order restricting what he can say. Will a limited gag order, if you want to call it that, be enough to stop him? The flip side of that is that it seems that he is trying to egg on his supporters while at the same daring the special counsel, daring the judge to do something to him so he can continue to rev up his base.

MARIOTTI: That's right. I mean, first of all, you don't need to be a lawyer to know that pissing off the judge is a very bad idea, right, trying to poke her in the eye is not a good idea when she's the one responsible for your potential sentence. She's the one who's going to be making rulings at trial. And not a smart strategy, but I understand why he's doing it, to maybe help his numbers in a primary, to raise some money.

I actually predict that the judge is not going to impose a gag order because that might allow him to take up an appeal and create some First Amendment issues. I think she's just going to use the authority she has, and she has a wide degree of discretion over the trial date, for example, over certain pretrial rulings and rulings during the trial. I just think she's going to ultimately utilize her discretion to create some downside for the former president, to make him realize that continuing to throw, you know, tomatoes at her and the prosecutors and everyone else in the process is a very bad idea.

ACOSTA: It's never a good idea to poke a federal judge in the eye. That's for sure.

Renato Mariotti, thank you very much for your time. Appreciate it. Good to talk to you.

MARIOTTI: Thanks, Jim.

ACOSTA: All right. There's a manhunt right now in Los Angeles after someone ambushed a sheriff's deputy and killed him. The latest on the incident and the search. That's next here in the CNN NEWSROOM.



ACOSTA: A manhunt is under way in the Los Angeles area after what officials call a targeted attack on an L.A. County sheriff's deputy. Authorities say 30-year-old Ryan Clinkunbroomer was killed in an ambush.

CNN's Camila Bernal joins us now.

Camila, what's the latest on the search for the suspect?

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, authorities just now saying that they have a vehicle of interest, that they're doing everything they can and have all resources available to try to find the person responsible. Authorities saying that this is a deputy that was in a marked car, on duty, and with his uniform on. He had just exited the station, was at a red light, and that's when, according to the sheriff, he was ambushed, shot and killed eventually.

He was taken to the hospital because a Good Samaritan found him unconscious. And he was pronounced dead at the hospital. Now of course the biggest concern here is who did this. Take a listen to what Sheriff Robert Luna just said.


ROBERT LUNA, LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFF: We encourage you to look at your video and make sure that we didn't capture anything that could be the missing puzzle to apprehending the suspects. And I'm going to continuously refer to them as cowards because that's what they are, cowards to attack a deputy sheriff in uniform, in a black-and-white, who's just sitting there at a red light, about to go out and serve our community.

That is absolutely, 100 percent unacceptable, and it should be unacceptable to everybody who lives in this community and really communities across the country, that somebody would attack a deputy sheriff in that manner. It's absolutely outrageous.


BERNAL: And there's now a $2,000 reward for finding the person responsible. We know it's a 2006 to 2012 dark gray Toyota Corolla. That is the vehicle of interest. Excuse me. The reward now $250,000 for the person or people that find whoever did this.

And I do want to point out that Ryan Clinkunbroomer was just 30 years old. He got engaged four days ago. This was someone who responded to the call of duty. His father was a deputy or worked for the sheriff's department. His grandfather also worked for the sheriff's department. So the sheriff saying there was so much ahead of him. This is a community now in mourning but also really focused on finding the person who did this -- Jim.

ACOSTA: Yes, wow. That is just awful. Our thoughts are with his family and hope they catch this person as soon as possible.

Camila Bernal, thank you very much.

We're also learning this week officials from the Biden administration are expected to get involved in the historic autoworkers strike facing the country right now. Today's round of negotiations between striking workers and General Motors have wrapped up for the day.

CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich joins us now. What can we expect in the coming week? I guess more talks and more talks are a good thing, at least they'll be talking.

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Certainly. The two sides are still talking. They're still negotiating. That is good news. GM had their day at the main table today. Tomorrow it will be Stellantis. But workers have been out here striking for the past three days, essentially supporting the demands of the union. They want to see those 40 percent wage increases. They want to see potentially four-day workweeks. They want to see job security against the EV transition.

I want to bring in Bonita Jenkins. She has been with Ford. You've been working at this facility for 27 years. Negotiations are about compromise.


YURKEVICH: What should be the union be looking to compromise on now?

JENKINS: I don't think we should make any compromises. I think that everything we're asking for is legit, and we deserve everything that Mr. Fain has been asking for.

YURKEVICH: You mentioned to me that you have a daughter heading to college in the next three years.


[19:30:07] YURKEVICH: You talked about what it is to live on the wages that you live on. How important is this next contract to your daughter's success going forward?

JENKINS: Well, I'll be retiring at the same time that my daughter would be entering into college and with the money that I make right now, there's no way that I can afford for her to go to Spelman.

So I'm really here to stand up and say that, please let this contract be something that I can utilize, so I can support my child and let her go to a college that she wants to go to and that she deserves to go to.

I've been working here 27 years, and there's no reason why I shouldn't be able to afford for her to go to Spelman.

YURKEVICH: if you had a moment to sit down with the CEO of Ford, Jim Farley, what would you say to him?

JENKINS: I will say it's time. It's time. It's time. We are due.

I've been here and I've never seen anything like this. This is a historic moment. And in 27 years, I think I need a raise. I think I deserve a raise. I work hard. I've been working in the paint department. I'm a team leader. And I make what some bus drivers make.

And I'm here helping people get from one place to another. If it wasn't for us making these vehicles, then people wouldn't be able to get their families to and from. We really need for this contract to go through for them.

Look at what we're asking, our demands are not -- they are not outstanding. We deserve it.

YURKEVICH: Thank you so much, Bonita. Thank you for your time.

JENKINS: Appreciate it.

YURKEVICH: So Jim, as you mentioned, you have the two White House officials coming into town this week, acting Labor secretary, Julie Su; and senior White House adviser, Gene Sperling coming to town trying to get these two sides on the same page, trying to make sure that negotiations are moving forward towards a deal.

Three plants on strike right now, but the union has made it very clear, Jim, if negotiations do not start to move forward, more strikes at more plants across the country could happen in the next coming days -- Jim.

ACOSTA: All right, we'll leave it there. Vanessa, Yurkevich, thank you very much. Thanks for staying on top it. Of course, we appreciate it.

We'll be right back.



ACOSTA: This just in to CNN. Two pilots are dead after a collision at a Reno Air Racing Show. Officials at the event said the fatal accident happened at the end of the T6 Gold Race when the planes were landing.

CNN affiliate, KNRV said there are two different scenes in the neighborhood west of the Reno Airport. Race officials report there were no civilian injuries. T6 aircraft can post speeds up to 230 miles per hour over a five-mile course according to the National Champion Air Races website.

And in Libya a dramatic decrease in the death toll from last weekend's devastating floods. Last night we mentioned how more than 11,000 people are believed to have been killed in the city of Derna alone, but an update now from the UN.

The UN now puts the death toll nationwide at just under 4,000 attributing that much higher number to the Libyan Red Crescent Society. However, that agency says it never released the higher toll. So the reason for the huge discrepancy at this point is not entirely clear. Nine thousand people are still missing and our own Jomana Karadsheh is on the ground in Derna with the latest.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Libyan and international teams have been working tirelessly out at sea trying to recover the bodies of the thousands of victims of last week's catastrophic event that hit the city of Derna, and we have seen Libyan teams here trying their best to try and get out to sea to try and reach the bodies of those victims.

But what we're hearing from the international teams that have been working on this for days now is that this has become a near impossible mission.

They say that -- one team told us that they were able to recover more than 60 bodies since they got here. But right now, they are not able to do this anymore. This one team says they spotted the bodies of about 300 people, but the conditions are so challenging out there for them, they say that they don't have the right equipment to reach these really hard to reach areas, coves where these bodies have ended up, shallow waters where their boats can't go and they just don't have the equipment and the expertise, the manpower to deal with a situation like this.

And what they're telling us is while they did spot these bodies over the past couple of days, right now, those bodies have disintegrated into remains that they just cannot reach, they cannot retrieve because of the health hazard and this is absolutely devastating for the so many families, survivors here in Derna who we were speaking to, who told us all they want is to find the bodies of their loved ones or their remains to give them a proper burial.

This one international team we were speaking with earlier said that they have dealt with accidents in the past, with migrant boats capsizing. They have dealt with search and recovery operations where they've managed to pull dozens of bodies in the past, but never had they had to deal with a situation with something on this scale before where they're looking for hundreds and thousands of bodies.

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Derna, Libya.


ACOSTA: And we will be right back.



ACOSTA: Our series Champions for Change is back this week. We're bringing you stories of ordinary people who are breaking new ground changing the way things get done and making the most of human potential.

My champion, Julie Castle runs Best Friends Animal Society. She is determined to revolutionize the way shelter animals are treated and adopted.

I was fortunate to find best friends when I adopted my dog, Duke.


ACOSTA: What you doing over here?

Harry Truman once said if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.

I was coming out of my seven or eight years at the White House. I was suddenly burdened with some extra time on my hands and I thought, hey, time to get a dog.

This is Duke. He is my rescue dog that I got from Best Friends. He was found in Arkansas. Mother was in an abandoned home.

A lot of the times with these rescue animals, they are coming out of pretty bad situations.


JULIE CASTLE, RUNS BEST FRIENDS ANIMAL SOCIETY: Traditional animal sheltering has been around for 150 years. The status quo was, we don't have a choice. It's a necessary evil in our society that we have to kill these animals.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Boy, does that feel good?

CASTLE: Best Friends really became the disrupter because they challenged the status quo. Why don't we talk about how to best save our best friends rather than how to best kill our best friends.

ACOSTA: Julie is a remarkable person. She started in 1996. She was employee number 17 here and became the CEO of this amazing organization.

What they're trying to do is sort of transform the animal rescue, pet adoption experience.

Kanab, Utah, this is where Best Friends basically runs their operations here in the southwest. It's a spectacular setting. And it makes it all the more welcoming and inviting as somebody who might be interested in adopting a pet.

You'd go and see pigs and goats and horses and we saw of course, we saw dogs and cats. There were turtles and parrots and cockatoos. It felt like Dr. Doolittle.

ALI WASZMER, DOGTOWN DIRECTOR, BEST FRIENDS ANIMAL SOCIETY: What we do here at the sanctuary is so incredibly unique, so we are able to help animals that most other organizations couldn't.

CASTLE: These aren't throwaway animals. These are precious sentient beings that deserve a second chance of life.

ACOSTA: The Arkansas facility, can you describe that?

CASTLE: Bentonville was an opportunity to reimagine. You're walking into this bright, cool environment with a coffee shop and no cages. You can participate in that life-saving in a way that's very similar to something like an Apple store.

ACOSTA: The Arkansas facility is important to me, because that's where I got my pet from. When you look at who's going in there, you see a lot of young people.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: I like this one.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is Ariana. She is two months old and two weeks. We've always been dog people, we just lost one and we really wanted to get another.

It's like a whole experience, I think when you come in here. You can just tell they want you and the dog be taken care of.

ACOSTA: They've been trying to market this experience, trying to transform the way people think about pet adoption that oh, it's a cool place where you can go to pick up a pet.

Back in 1984, when Best Friends got started, they tell us that there was something in the neighborhood of 17 million animals that were killed in this country, now, there are about 378,000 last year and Best Friends is the leader in that movement. They'd like to get to this place where the United States is a no kill country, essentially, by 2025.

CASTLE: The benchmark for no kill is 90 percent, roughly 10 percent of animals that are entering America's shelters probably are too sick to be saved. So it's that 90 percent benchmark that we're after.

ACOSTA: And you think it's possible? CASTLE: Absolutely.



ACOSTA: I had such an amazing time meeting with the people from Best Friends. The animals that they have out of the facility in Kanab, Utah are just absolutely wonderful, wonderful creatures and it makes you think differently about animal shelters.

If you can walk into one of these places and find a pet to take home, a new best friend, it will definitely change your life. It's certainly done that for me as you saw with Duke in that story.

So thanks once again, and hats off to Best Friends for everything that they do, and thanks for welcoming all of us here at CNN to see what they do and do it so well. Thanks very much for that. We appreciate it.

And stay with CNN all this week for our Champions for Change series. Be sure to tune in on Saturday night at eight o'clock Eastern for the Champions for Change one-hour special.

In the meantime, there is other news to report at this hour. Dozens of Ukrainians are fighting for their country, not on the frontlines at all times, but also on the stage.

See how they're waging a different kind of war. Next, our very young Christiane Amanpour, she joins us live with a preview of this special story. There she is, we'll be right back.



ACOSTA: As Russian missiles began barrage in Ukraine in February of 2022, millions of Ukrainians fled their country among them more than 60 ballet dancers who joined a new company for dancers in exile. The United Ukrainian Ballet based in Holland.

Next on "The Whole Story" with Anderson Cooper, chief international anchor, Christiane Amanpour shows us this ballet company's efforts to fight the war on the cultural front.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Do you feel that you are doing your bit to protect your country and to tell the world about your country by dancing? By having left? By not being on the frontline?

OLEKSII KNIAZKOV, PRINCIPAL DANCER: I'm trying. I'm trying. Our company try to represent our country that people will fall in love in our country and in our people. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we want to, in a good way, with a soft

weapon, we want to remind people that we still need help. Please don't forget about us.


ACOSTA: And Christiane joins us now.

Christiane, what an incredible story. These dancers, they are really trying to make a contribution to the war effort through their dancing. Tell us about it.


AMANPOUR: Well, you know, right after the war started, many of them did leave because they wanted to keep dancing, and they knew that if they stayed, it wouldn't be possible.

So then they go to the Netherlands, they have this wonderful woman, Ilya DeYoung (ph) who you heard in there, and she set up a dance troupe for them in the Hague, in the Netherlands. And they brought children and some of their relatives and they just created a new home.

And they said that what they want to do is not just dance, but be cultural ambassadors for their country, at a time when Russia is trying to annihilate the history of Ukraine as well, the culture of Ukraine. It has been saying, essentially, there is no separate Ukrainian identity.

So these people, they really want to show that there actually is and they are doing it, and they're sharing it. They've been to the Kennedy Center in Washington, and they've been elsewhere.

At the same time, of course, people did stay behind to dance.

ACOSTA: And they are absolutely inspiring and it is a reminder, and I've encountered this myself, when I talk to Ukrainians, they'll come to Washington to talk about the war effort, and so on, and how each and every one of them wants to make a difference in their own way. And I think that's what's so remarkable about this.

You also met some of these refugees and colleagues who chose to stay in Ukraine and continue performing there, which obviously has its risks. What does that experience been like?

AMANPOUR: Well, look, it's all they say, part of the same thing, every single Ukrainian civilian, as well as obviously the military feel that they're engaged in their own war effort. So whether it's those who come out and try to, as they say, be ambassadors and to keep their culture alive, or whether it's those who've chosen to stay and they also are trying to keep their cultural life at home, and also give people who stay and you know, who are undergoing this terrible war, some respite, and that's what I found this whole program to be.

It's a really amazing. You've heard some of the music, you'll hear a lot of people, you know, speaking about it. It's an amazing respite to the missiles, and the drones, and the bombs and all the horror people are going through.

And in Ukraine, I've seen -- I've gone to the theater, I've gone to ballets, I've gone even to the circus, and I've seen how, you know, citizens will rush to the theater when they can, and if there is an air raid siren or something, then they all have to, you know, in an organized manner rush downstairs to the shelter, but they just want to keep being able to be human and art is so much part of being human.

And tragically, of course, some of those who stayed were drafted or they volunteered to go to the front. And you know, at least one of them was killed on the front.

And that also, you know, speaks volumes to his colleagues, to his fellow dancers now who are left behind, they want to keep dancing in his memory as well.

So there are so many layers about this, but it's truly a beautiful hour of music and dance and soul, you know, and sometimes you don't see that in the nitty-gritty in the hard reality of war.

ACOSTA: Of course, because they want to go on with their lives and part of that is enjoying culture and so this absolutely makes sense and it just looks so inspiring to see their bravery and courage on display in this different kind of way.

And before we go yesterday was the first anniversary of the death of Mahsa Amini. I wanted to ask you about that, Christiane, the woman who died while in the custody of Iran's morality police. It led to huge protests then, more protests this year.

Are you surprised by the support women's rights are getting right now in Iran?

AMANPOUR: No, I think it's part of a very, very long, almost century long social movement in Iran. If you go all the way back before the Islamic Revolution, before the shahs, women have really been on the cutting edge and at the forefront of change in Iran. And it has incrementally won them their rights.

Before the Islamic Revolution, women's protests, women's demands won them exceptional legal rights very, very different than any other Muslim country in the neighborhood in all sorts of areas.

Then, that was the first thing the ayatollahs cracked down on when they came. They abolished the Ministry for Women's Affairs. They put women under the hijab, mandatory hijab and legal rights just disappeared.

But at the same time, women in Iran have got a huge education. They make up the majority of university students. They have an enormous, you know, presence in society. They can drive, they can work, they do all those kinds of things that you probably can't do in some of the other Islamic countries.

But now, they have managed this year to get their right to not wear the veil and that was an important thing. It is not a revolution, but it's there right and it's defiance, just like those dancers in Ukraine -- defiance and resistance.

ACOSTA: Yes. Absolutely. And Christiane, and I would be remiss if I did not congratulate you on 40 years at CNN. Thank you. You are a national -- you're an international treasure. It's great to have you on.

All right, don't miss Christiane's special tonight.

AMANPOUR: Thank you.

ACOSTA: Great to see you, as always.

She shares the story of the Ukrainian ballet dancers keeping art alive. That's next, "The Whole Story" with Anderson Cooper next here on CNN.

Thanks for joining me this evening. Reporting from Washington. I'm Jim Acosta.

Good night.