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CNN Tonight

A.G. Merrick Garland Appoints Special Counsel; Donald Trump Slammed New Special Counsel; New York Under Heavy Snow; Controversies Around Qatar Resurrected; Three Powerful Women Speaks Out. Aired 10- 11p ET

Aired November 18, 2022 - 22:00   ET




SARA SIDNER, CNN HOST: Good evening to you. I'm Sara Sidner. And this is CNN TONIGT.

Our big story, the new special counsel just days after the defeated, twice impeached former president announces his third White House run, the DOJ appoints a special counsel to oversee the federal investigations of his role to January 6th and those classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.

The former president reacting exactly the way you'd expect tonight.

Plus, with World Cup fever heating up, the controversies are also heating up. Qatar's abysmal record on human rights is no secret. And now World Cup organizers are apologizing after security tried to stop Danish journalists from broadcasting.




UNKNOWN: Because I --

TANTHOLDT: But you can break the camera. You want to break it? OK. You break the camera. OK.

UNKNOWN: No. You bring the camera.

TANTHOLDT: So. you're threatening us by smashing the camera?


SIDNER: Qatar even banning beer in stadiums which came as a surprise to Budweiser, the World Cup's official beer sponsor.

And we'll have the latest on what could be a snowstorm like we've never seen before slamming Buffalo, New York tonight.

We've got a lot to talk about. Here with me, CNN, legal analyst, Jennifer Rogers, and former Watergate prosecutor, Nick Akerman.

Thank you so much for being here.

I want to talk to you first about this special counsel. I won't get to soccer with you. Lucky for you guys.

NICK AKERMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: I thought you were going to talk about the beer.

SIDNER: I mean, the beer is an issue, but we will get to that later in the night. But Jennifer, in your opinion, is appointing a special counsel necessary in this case?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, it's funny, I've come around a little bit on this. I actually didn't think that it was necessary for a long time, and I'm still not sure legally it's required. But when Merrick Garland was talking to -- at the press conference about how Trump has now announced that he's a candidate, Biden is suggesting he's likely also to be a candidate.

You know, what are you supposed to do in that instance? It makes a lot of sense and it really dovetails with the way that Merrick Garland has treated this all along. He's been very cautious, very deliberate, very thoughtful. You know, he is taking the most conservative approach every step of the way, and this is definitely a cautious conservative approach. Just bringing a special counsel. It assuages some of the concerns about independence and so that's what he did.

SIDNER: I want to listen a little bit to Merrick Garland and what he said today when he addressed this idea of kind of why he is doing this.


MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Based on recent developments, including the former president's announcement that he is a candidate for president in the next election. And the sitting president's stated intention to be a candidate as well. I have concluded that it is in the public interest to appoint a special counsel.

Such an appointment underscores the department's commitment to both independence and accountability in particularly sensitive matters.


SIDNER: All right. So. you heard him pretty much reiterate what you were saying, and he said it first to be fair, but you know, he talked about, you know, this is a really, I don't know, sensitive time.

But Nick, a special counsel is semi-independent. Correct? It is not completely independent. So. in the end, doesn't Merrick Garland have to make a decision one way or the other.

AKERMAN: I think that's, if you go by the strict guideline that's in the Department of Justice, the answer is yes. But I don't think that's what he has in mind. I think he's really looking to have this special counsel be more in the mold of Archibald Cox, who had total independence and really could do whatever he wanted, you know, as long as it wasn't anything completely off the wall.

So. I think what this special counsel is doing, he's not coming in with his staff, he's not bringing in lots of people. He's basically going with what is there and what his job to is, is to look at the evidence and really decide whether he pulls the trigger on either of those two cases.

So, that, I think is his limited role here. And having said that, I think Merrick Garland is going to step back and let him make that decision as well he should. I mean, I think what you've got here is a conflict.


I mean, in Garland is so much is said. So, there's a conflict because his boss is running against Donald Trump who he's investigating. And even though you could trust Merrick Garland to do the right thing, I mean, he's not somebody who's a politician.

SIDNER: Right.

AKERMAN: He's not somebody who had been on the campaign. And, but he's what -- there is a certain sense of propriety here, the appearance of propriety. And I think that is what is of concern.

And so, this is a rare situation where you don't have a special counsel who's starting from scratch, bringing in a whole staff, being there for months upon end, trying to put together this thing.

He's just going to jump in, just like what happened with Archibald Cox was fired, and then Leon Jaworski came in. We all stuck around and we just kept going, and I think that's exactly what's going to happen here.

SIDNER: All right. I want to bring in CNN senior legal analyst Preet Bharara during this conversation. And I do want to ask you, Preet, does this mean this move to have a special counsel, mean that an indictment might be more likely in your estimation?

PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I think there's a reasonable argument in support of that proposition. I think there have been a number of things that have happened recently, not just the appointment of the special counsel today, but also the addition of some people that I and Jennifer, who's on the panel knows very well, former prosecutors from the Southern District of New York, David Rowdy David Raskin, who are consummate professionals known to be great in the courtroom have a lot of experience.

The fact that they have been added to the team with respect to the Mar-a-Lago documents tells me that it seems that there's an increasing likelihood that a decision to prosecute will be made. I think there's an argument that if it didn't look like there was a process that was going to lead to an indictment, why bother appointing a special counsel?

So. I think all that's correct. I also agree with Jennifer that there was nothing in the law that required the appointment of special counsel. Nothing legally, morally, or ethically required that move, but probably prudence required it in some measure because it gives him, you know, it gives a little bit of protection to the special counsel in case the investigations of Donald Trump and other people, or a prosecution of Donald Trump and other people extend past this administration. There's some protection from being fired.

Remember, you know, despite all of the arguments about this and the hoopla about it. Donald Trump in the end never did fire special counsel Robert Mueller. So maybe there's some protection there as well.

SIDNER: I do want to ask you quickly just because of what you said, which is that you think that this could be pointing towards a potential indictment. How far along might they be at this point as the special counsel steps in?

BHARARA: You know, so I don't know because I haven't seen the grand jury presentations of course, but I think there's a difference between the investigation of the Mar-a-Lago document and the overall investigation of the interference with the peaceful transfer of power.

With respect to the Mar-a-Lago documents, I think it's a simpler case. It's an easier case. It's a more cut and dry case if they decide to make it. It's less complicated, fewer facts, fewer witnesses, more direct law on point. I think that's probably much closer to resolution and a decision than the much more sprawling January 6th investigation of Donald Trump and a lot of other people. I wouldn't expect something about that case for quite some time.

SIDNER: Thank you, Preet. That's really interesting. Jennifer, I do want to ask you, is this going to delay things because of course, politically speaking, a lot of people in the sort of Democrat side are screaming like, my goodness, like how long is this going to take? And then you have republicans sort of weighing in on this decision. So, what's the answer?

RODGERS: So, I don't think it'll delay things substantially. I mean, as we've been saying, the investigation already has been going on. The people who've been working it are going to continue to work on it. Certainly, the special prosecutor needs to get up to speed, right?

That will take him a little bit of time, but I don't think they're ready to pull the trigger on either charges. Preet was just saying there's a good amount of work to do on January 6th. And even on the documents case, you know, Merrick Garland actually was very pointed today in saying that part of this remit for the special counsel is obstruction of justice as it relates to the documents case.

So that means not only the facts that they probably already have in order about the year and a half that he was not giving them back and the back and forth and maybe lying about that, but also what we've been hearing about more recently about surveillance footage, people moving documents in and out of Mar-a-Lago.

So. getting all of those witnesses, their testimony into the grand jury and nailing down that obstruction piece may not be fully completed yet. So, you know, I had originally thought a special counsel would delay things a good bit. But you know, as you kind of think through it and see that, you know, Jack Smith is ready to go, he's showing up and he is ready to get working, it really may not delay things much if it all.

SIDNER: And I know that we've heard both from Merrick Garland and from Mr. Smith that this will not delay it. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.


I do want to lastly ask you, Nick. Former President Trump has spoken about this already, and has said very flatly that he's not going to partake in the case. But does that matter at all?

AKERMAN: No, not at all. I mean, it really makes no big difference. He's not going to testify.

SIDNER: Right.

AKERMAN: If he's called into the grand jury. he's going to take the fifth amendment, meaning a truthful answer would tend to incriminate him. And we have other actions going on around this that no one has any control over even the special counsel, particularly in Georgia.

The big question is, will Georgia beat the feds to the punch and wind up indicting Donald Trump before the feds do. And then what happens? The special counsel's going to have to decide, well do we let Georgia go ahead and we step back and we do the Mar-a-Lago documents case or do we file another case? mean, this gets a little more complicated as you start moving along.

SIDNER: Nick, Jennifer, Preet, thank you so much for joining us. There is a lot to unpack here. We could spend hours on this, but I'm sure some people would rather we didn't. We'll have to wait and see what the special counsel does.

And up next, the former president says he hopes the GOP has the courage to fight the special counsel. But how many of them actually want to do that?



SIDNER: Former President Trump slamming the DOJ special counsel appointment tonight calling it a horrendous abuse of power.

I want to discuss the politics of this with journalist Mara S. Campo, CNN senior political analyst, John Avlon, and political commentator Margaret Hoover.

Thank you all for being here. Lots to unpack.

I do want to first go to, and I apologize, but to Donald Trump first and some of what he said tonight. Because it is, and I apologize --


SIDNER: -- because we've heard this sort of rhetoric before, but he is at it again after the special counsel was announced.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: This horrendous abuse of power is the latest in a long series of witch hunts. It started a long time ago. I thought the investigation with the document hoax was dying or dead, or over. And the investigation into January 6th in my very peaceful and patriotic speech, remember, peaceful and patriotically was dead, only to find out that the corrupt and highly political Justice Department just appointed a super radical left special counsel. Better referred to as a special prosecutor to start the process all over again.


SIDNER: Is, I'll start with you, Margaret. Is any of what he just said true?

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: A special prosecutor was appointed. The adjective radical far left debatable.

AVLON: No. It's not debatable.

HOOVER: Not true. OK.

AVLON: Not true.

HOOVER: Look, I understand from a legal perspective there's a real debate about whether this was necessary for Merrick garland to do.


HOOVER: From a political perspective, everybody and their mother knows that Donald Trump, one of the very good reasons for him to announce to run for president is to insulate himself from prosecutions.

This is a political posturing for him and the only way Merrick Garland can put some space between himself from having he, the Joe Biden's appointee to the Department of Justice, having to make the personal decision on his watch about whether to prosecute a former president or not, is to not have to make that decision and to appoint somebody who is a buffer in between the two. And I think that's what Merrick Garland is doing.

SIDNER: This man who you know quite well has something to say.

(CROSSTALK) HOOVER: To be -- just full disclosure --

SIDNER: I'm going to let John jump in.

AVLON: Yes. That occasionally I do. Look, the special prosecutor has the right thing to do from a political standpoint given the inherent political nature of investigation of a former president who's running for president again. And Trump is clearly running for president as sort of a brush back pitch. Right? You know, make it that much more difficult, to actually ensure that there's equal and impartial justice, which is what he's afraid of.

That statement was just another one of his sort of mad libs that he stitches together now in a notably low energy way, but all the greatest hits, including baseless calling the special, or you know, special counsel of hyperpartisan far leftist, which is not.

The principle that we all need to be guided by is simple and it's clear. The law. Enforce the law freely and fairly and without favor. And if Donald Trump and his lackies are afraid of that, that's because they got something to be afraid of.

SIDNER: Mara, can I ask you what you think? I mean, who gains politically at all? Or just no one from this announcement, having a special counsel now put in place. Because clearly, as John has said, it's about optics.

MARA S. CAMPO, JOURNALIST: Yes, that's a great question because it is largely about optics and you know, to Margaret's point, it was a question of timing, right? Why would Trump make this announcement now? And a lot of people said, well, it's because he wants to protect himself.

That by making this announcement now, he's complicating things as far as the investigation goes, because it does complicate things for the Department of Justice when now we're talking about a political rival, not just a former president.

And so what do the optics of this decision mean for the country? And the reality is, is that for those on the far right, for Trump's base, it's not the idea that appointing a special counsel is a step towards creating a proper setting so that there is no conflict of interest.

They are not going to see it that way. They are going to see it the way that Trump is portraying it, that this is a politicized, politically motivated witch hunt. And so, it's not going to make any difference. But I think that it does make a difference to people who are in the middle to the rest of the country that is paying attention.


CAMPO: That is a little bit tired of this election denial drum beat being beat over and over again.


SIDNER: Well, we thought the election.

CAMPO: There are a little bit -- exactly.

AVLON: That's right.

CAMPO: They're tired of the hyperpolarization and they will see this as a smart move to just avoid a conflict of interest.

SIDNER: I want to talk about some of what the Republicans have already said. Already jumping in is the Republican senator from Texas, John Cornyn. And we'll pull up his tweet.


He said this. He said, this is an admission of a conflict of interest by DOJ. Now acknowledge the obvious conflict of interest in Hunter Biden investigation and appoint a special counsel. Hash tag, no double standard.

I'm going to go to you, John. Is this a fair observation or plainly political spin.

AVLON: It's political spin. It's an attempt to deflect to an issue they'd rather talk about that doesn't have anything resembling the constitutional standard that is being faced with a former president who tried to overturn an election. And that's what we're talking about here, right?

I mean, there's an assault on democracy by a former president who's now running for president again who fomented an insurrection. That's an entirely different standard than anything. And the fact that -- the fact that Hunter Biden is being investigated by the Justice Department when his father's president is itself, I think in admission to the fact that there is, there is equal justice under law going forward.

You know, Cornyn's statement was more tempered in saying than his colleague Ted Cruz. But that's also to be expected.

SIDNER: I picked that one for a reason. I do want to -- I want to go to you because you had a conversation with someone in a very high position who could have been the person that brought a case against Donald Trump, Bill Barr. What did he say?

HOOVER: Attorney General Barr, interestingly, you know, you, you've heard this repeated on the Republican side of the aisle for some time. You know, if he stole doc -- if he took documents that were serious documents, and then really didn't give them back, and lied potentially about having them. That is a crime. And if that's a serious crime, then there should be consequences. But you shouldn't indict a former president because that's a new standard and that's a precedent. You've heard a lot of people say that.

But in this case, Bill Barr said, if those things are true, that's a serious crime and that should be prosecuted.

SIDNER: Bill Barr. HOOVER: And so, Bill Barr said that about Donald Trump.

SIDNER: No, I know you talked to him before this announcement because that just happened today.


SIDNER: The special counsel announcement. But for him to say that, did he go further and say, yes, Merrick Garland should go ahead and do this, or I would have done this myself if I had seen this?

HOOVER: He would not answer whether he would've prosecuted and he did not want to tell Merrick Garland whether to do it. But in thinking about it and struggling with it, I can certainly see why Merrick Garland, the person who's really trying to be as above politics as possible, would prefer to choose the path of special counsel to make that choice instead.

SIDNER: This was a wonderful conversation. Thank you all so much for being here and for explaining all of this, because honestly there's a lot going on.

AVLON: There's a lot going on.

SIDNER: There's a lot. Areas around Buffalo, New York, speaking of a lot going on, buried under more than five feet of snow. And now this potentially historic storm has turned deadly. We are live in Buffalo. Look at those pictures, coming up next.



SIDNER: A dangerous storm is pulling Western New York tonight. There's already more than five feet of snow south of Buffalo, and two people have died.

CNN's Polo Sandoval is in Buffalo for us. First of all, Polo, I know it's cold. Tell us about the conditions that you've seen --


SIDNER: -- throughout the day.

SANDOVAL: Yes, you know, still, this event is far from over. In fact, we still need to see exactly what's going to happen overnight. You see many of the travel bans, those are still in place just south of where we are right now. The goal there is to allow those trucks, those plows to do what they have to do to make sure those roads are clear.

You see, unlike here in Buffalo, wherever the city it has fared pretty well, just about 13 miles south of here in Orchard Park, New York. They, during the peak of this storm, they basically experienced a snowfall rate of anywhere from two to three inches an hour added all up. As of last check, they've tallied up about five and a half feet of snow. Again, that's just a few miles south of where we are. So, when you hear from officials, when you hear from Erie County executive Mark Poloncarz, they'll tell you, like even for Buffalo, that kind of snow amount, that volume is extraordinary.

SIDNER: They moved the football game. I mean.


MARK POLONCARZ, ERIE COUNTY EXECUTIVE: This is an event that has hit the south towns, with a vengeance very hard. And all of these communities are under a state of emergency at this point, and in some cases, we're going to be far surpassed five feet of snow. And that's in a 21-hour period of time. So that's a remarkable amount of time.


SANDOVAL: And Poloncarz also confirms two storm related death. There were two men that suffered heart attacks as they were clearing up the snow there. So, you see this is like that wet, heavy snow. And that's one of the reasons why officials right now are saying, look, if you're safe, if you have everything you need, then simply stay indoors. If it needs to pile up, then so be it.

And once this is all over, then you can basically call upon some help to clear it all out. It's simply not worth the risk of going out if more snow is still expected. Sara?

SIDNER: You know it's bad when they had to move the NFL game from Buffalo to Detroit in the winter.


SIDNER: I mean, that tells you a lot. All right, thank you so much. Polo Sandoval there in Buffalo for us.

The World Cup controversy stretch back more than a decade from corruption allegations to human rights abuses, and now it'll be a tournament with no alcohol inside the stadiums.

We'll discuss that next.



SIDNER: The World Cup will kick off in Qatar on Sunday. Twelve years ago, I was there at the moment that FIFA announced Qatar would be the 2020 host. Take a listen.


SIDNER: OK. You can hear the reaction. I can't hear you, but it is amazing. People are going crazy here in Doha, the (Inaudible), you can hear behind me all of the people screaming. It is amazing.


SIDNER: It -- we were so shocked to be perfectly honest. That is why I reacted that way. My producer who was there with me, the photographer, nobody knew what was happening because it wasn't supposed to happen, we thought.


But since then, the whole thing has been clouded with controversy, with allegations of exploitation of migrant workers, which has long been an issue there in Qatar and human rights abuses against LGBTQ people where homosexuality is still illegal.

Joining me now, Wall Street Journal senior editor, Jonathan Clegg. He covers the World Cup. Thank you so much for joining me, Jonathan.


SIDNER: So, I just listed a, a bunch of different things and I left out the accusations of corruption, of getting the World Cup in the first place, Qatar with all the things that went on with FIFA and the allegations against how it all happened. Should this game be played there?

CLEGG: Yes, that's right. I mean, that day back in 2010, I was in Zurich watching Sepp Blatter open the envelope with Qatar's name on it. And, yes, we had no idea what was happening there either.

You know, I think there have been obviously a lot of questions about Qatar as the host and, you know, the question of whether the World Cup should be played there is one that FIFA has kind of, you know, tried to sweep under the rug as much as possible.

In the build up to this tournament they've told the teams, the players, the fans, the media attending, it's time to focus on the football. We've had, you know, 12 years of people asking questions about this event, and now it's time to worry about what's happening on the field.

SIDNER: Yes, I do want to talk a little bit about the Qatari government, and it has responded to some of these things saying that the figures on migrant workers, which some estimates are in the thousands who have died have been misleading and sensational headlines.

And they've basically, you know, kind of said, you know, just come and enjoy the game. Do they have a point there that there are problems in every country, and this is happening now in Qatar, this is going forward regardless. So, just show up or do they really has -- has this really opened them up to real scrutiny?

CLEGG: Well, yes, I think, I mean, it definitely has opened them up to real scrutiny. I mean, even that whole kind of idea of, you know, just show up and it's actually going to be a great time. You know, we saw today when on the eve of the talk (Ph), they suddenly, you know, performed this abrupt U-turn and announced that the sale of beer inside stadiums, which they promised for a long time, was going to be allowed, was all of a sudden outlawed. There'll be no beer at the stadiums. The matches will be dry. The only alcohol serve there will be zero alcohol beers.

You know, it, it, it makes you wonder whether a lot of the promises that Qatar has made will actually be fulfilled. Don't forget, this was a tournament that was supposed to be happening in the summer, Qatar and FIFA assured us back in 2010 that this tournament would take place in the summer. The stadiums would be air conditioned, there would be no problems about playing a World Cup in the middle of the desert in the middle of the summer. And yet five years later, they moved it to the winter.

So, you know, there have been already a series of broken promises from Qatar and the world will be watching to see, you know, which promises they are able to fulfill.

SIDNER: I want to show you a little bit of video that I'm sure you've seen. There are audience may not have seen of Qatari officials apologizing after a Danish TV crew was there, they were credentialed, but they were threatened by security stuff. Let's take a look.



TANTHOLDT: We are live on Danish television.


TANTHOLDT: Mister, you invited the whole world to the you -- you invited the whole world to come here. Why can't we film? It's a public place. We can film with this permit. This is an upgrade pass. And this is the accreditation. We can film anywhere we want. There are only, of course --

UNKNOWN: For the Qatar. Because Qatar has --

TANTHOLDT: No, no, no. We don't need permit. But this --


UNKNOWN: (Inaudible) the camera on this because --


TANTHOLDT: No, but listen. But you can break the camera. You want to break it? OK. You break the camera.

UNKNOWN: You bring the camera.

TANTHOLDT: So, you're threatening us by smashing the camera.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SIDNER: We've experienced this. I'm -- I've certainly experienced this in some places, but not when you have all of the credentials generally speaking. Have you ever seen anything like this at a FIFA World Cup?

CLEGG: No. And, you know, this will be my fourth World Cup and, you know, some of those World Cups have also taken places in, you know, slightly problematic venues. We were in Russia four years ago. But no, I've never seen anything quite like that.

You know, there are always sort of teething problems at the beginning of World Cups as the host country sort of grapples with the fact that the eyes of the world are going to be focused on them for the next four weeks. And, you know, hundreds of thousands of people are suddenly arriving on their doorstep.


But no, it's not -- it's not a good look for Qatar. And you know, we are about to see this first week of the tour. I'd imagine, you know, what it looks like when this country that is very ill prepared for this many Western tourists, suddenly receives this kind of huge surge of visitors.

SIDNER: And there will certainly be some folks from the United States there because the U.S men's team hasn't been to the World Cup. I think in eight years. They are going to be there. They qualified. What can we expect just quickly from the team.

CLEGG: Yes. Exciting tournament for the -- for the U.S. men's team. They're the youngest team at the tournament, the youngest group of players that qualified for the tournament. So, it will be a, you know, a joyous experience for them to be back in the World Cup, albeit in a, sort of unfamiliar and different setting.

But the sense I think is that maybe this is a team built more to challenge, and to make a deep run in the 2026 tournament, which would be held here in the U.S. in Canada and Mexico, and that perhaps this 2022 edition of the World Cup will be the chance for them to sort of cut their teeth in international soccer.

SIDNER: Jonathan Clegg, thank you so much.

Back with me now, Mara S. Campo, John Avlon, and Margaret Hoover.

All right. Jonathan brought it up so I'm bringing it up again, since it is Friday night and we can talk about beers here. So, Budweiser one of the beer sponsor of the tournament --


SIDNER: -- learns that within 24 hours before it learns, yes, we're not going to serve beer to the folks there. Now they've put in tens of millions of dollars to this.


SIDNER: What do you think?

AVLON: What's up with that? Look, I mean, they tweeted, well, this is awkward and it's, yes, it's 70, you know, million dollars. Awkward.

HOOVER: Which is deleted --


AVLON: Which was deleted. But I mean, you know, that's the least you're going to say. This is the world's most predictable problem. Right? I mean, the sponsorship is years in the making. To rescind that right for folks two days out, reeks of bad faith. And if they couldn't deal with the fact that, you know, that they wanted beer, they didn't have to accept the money in the first place.

By the way, if they're not going to, they should probably give it back. But most of all, let people have the beer. You know, they were going to --


SIDNER: It's the (Inaudible) of the night. Do you have a different answer?

AVLON: Let the people have their beer.

CAMPO: Let people have their beer. I can agree with that completely. And the prop, one, I think it's insulting to still serve the Bud Zero. Like, I'm sorry, but who --


AVLON: That's not a drink.

HOOVER: To drink that alcohol free didn't make it feel that way.

AVLON: We tried that one. It's a beer not --


CAMPO: And if this is a matter of principle, you know, it's a conservative Muslim country. They don't want people drinking. OK, but you can still drink in the luxury boxes. So basically the message they're sending is, if--


AVLON: That's so wrong.

CAMPO: -- if you're willing to pony up thousands of dollars to sit in the luxury box, you can not only have beer, you can have wine, you can have champagne, you can take, you can get lit. So, that's what we take away from this

SIDNER: Margaret, how do you follow that?

HOOVER: I mean, I don't. I decided to said there's no tequila either, is what you're saying.

CAMPO: It's a very (Inaudible).

HOOVER: There's no -- it's not just the beer.

AVLON: Except in the luxury box.

HOOVER: In the luxury boxes. No. I mean, let the people have their beer. This is the world's most foreseeable problem. And it -- and it is, it does smack of bad faith. And it doesn't look well on FIFA who by the way, you know, is not without their recurring problems --


HOOVER: -- of bribery and scandal and frankly bad faith.

AVLON: But I mean, the Danish TV --


SIDNER: They're not the first, yes.

AVLON: -- the Danish TV host I think said it well. You invited the world here.

SIDNER: Right.

AVLON: You know, behave accordingly. I -- there are going to be some tensions between the crowds and the customs of this country. And there's got to be a mediation. You know, a middle ground to be found.

SIDNER: There're -- there are cultural sensitivity.


AVLON: There are and there should be. Absolutely.

SIDNER: In every culture we have those sensitivities.

CAMPO: But transparency should govern most among them.

SIDNER: There it is, we got to go. Thank you so much for joining me on a Friday night.

Up next, I spoke with three of the most powerful women in the world about how they got where they are and the struggles they have faced along the way. My exclusive conversation with Michelle Obama, Melinda French Gates, and Amal Clooney. That's next.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SIDNER: In a CNN exclusive, I sat down with former First Lady

Michelle Obama, as well as, Amal Clooney and Melinda French Gates to discuss their mission of empowering girls and women. We covered a wide range of topics in our conversation, including what these three women would tell their younger selves today. Listen.


SIDNER: What would you tell your 25-year-old self now that you've lived a life?

MELINDA FRENCH GATES, CO-CHAIR, BILL & MELINDA GATES FOUNDATION: I would say life is even more beautiful ahead than you realize. And I would say to my 25-year-old self, you knew in high school who you were and you let go of some of that for lots of reasons. People, situations, college people around you, you knew who you were.

And once you learned to re be the girl you were in high school is when you grew into the full woman that you could be.



SIDNER: Mrs. Obama.

MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: That part just simply put, I would tell myself, you are good enough. You are valued. You are worthy. Your story matters. Your voice matters. You will do the great things that you know you can do.

AMAL CLOONEY, CO-FOUNDER, CLOONEY FOUNDATION FOR JUSTICE: You know, I would say, define failure as not trying, because actually going for things and falling flat on your face is fine. It's a learning experience. It makes you stronger. But if you don't try and if you don't actually follow your dreams or even admit what they are, and go for it. It's something that will stay with you.


SIDNER: Back with me, Mara S. Campo, John Avlon, and Margaret Hoover.

These ladies really opened -- they opened up, like, they were not shy about who they were, but also, they got pretty personal.


And I asked them something about self-doubt. Have we all experienced that?

HOOVER: I don't know what you're talking about.

AVLON: Sure.

CAMPO: Yes. Right. I mean, absolutely.

SIDNER: So, did you -- did when you heard Melinda Gates say that thing, I think all of us took a deep breath. She said --

CAMPO: It resonated.

SIDNER: -- you knew who you were when you were in high school, not what you were going to be, or what you were going to do, or where you were going to go to school, but you -- but you actually knew yourself then, and things have changed. Experienced any of that?

CAMPO: Yes. Well, and I think of course, I certainly have, and hearing these three women basically give different versions of the same answer where they're all speaking to the way that the world tries to make women smaller, where it tries to keep you small. Where Michelle Obama says, tell yourself I am enough. My voice matters.

Those are the affirmations that she wishes her 25-year-old self would've heard. And so, it's really affirming to hear these powerful accomplished, successful women share that they essentially have had this same journey that so many women are going through, where it's the journey back to yourself.

You know, I have a picture on my phone of me as a three-year-old because I want to remember what I felt like then fearless, excited, full of energy, excited about life. And so, I think a lot of us are trying to make that journey back to ourselves before the world tried to convince us otherwise.

SIDNER: Margaret?

HOOVER: Look, the authenticity it really is resonant. And it's -- it's just the ability to be self-reflective about the journey. And it just gives everyone permission to look at themselves and then to just to self-actualize, to be who you are and to be a best version of yourself.

I had not seen Melinda Gates so authentic, especially, I mean, somebody who's had a very raw personal experience kind of play out --


HOOVER: -- play out in front of everyone. And that's inspiring and that it's good for young women to hear that. It's good for older women to hear that. And my hat's off to all of them.

AVLON: It's good for all people to hear that.

SIDNER: Yes. I think that's the thing that struck me is that when I listened back to it, I thought this can apply to any, any of us, any age, any of us.

AVLON: That's exactly right. And look, these are three women who are extraordinarily accomplished and successful by any measure.

SIDNER: Right.

AVLON: Well beyond distinctions agenda.


AVLON: And to hear people who are that successful and self-actualized be vulnerable and admit their own struggles with the self-doubt, admit how they give themselves, that would give their younger self a pep talk. That kind of, that's the risk of intimacy that resonates and that inspires in turn. So that, that -- that's an extraordinary interview you did.

SIDNER: I do want to say that seeing this coupling here, I know that you guys, you know, you'll go at it on certain things.


SIDNER: On certain points and on certain, you know, sort of political arguments. But the support that they talked about what men could do and sometimes it was, and I, pardon me, but get out of our way.

AVLON: That's fair.

SIDNER: Or take your neck --


HOOVER: We never say that.


SIDNER: But sometimes it was recognizing the power of the person who you are with. Do you, guys, experience, do you experience that from John? Do you get that?

HOOVER: I mean, there's a lot of power over here, so a lot of times it's like, you know, there you do in a couple, and you know, you have this, I'm sure you have this when you have, I mean, the -- it takes courage to marry someone and to partner with somebody who has as much power and energy and vision and ambition as you do.

And then if you have double that in one space, you got to work it out and you got to balance it. And both people have to figure out a way to provide support for the other and also create space for the other and yourself.

SIDNER: I was really surprised at how open they were, being that they know anything that they say is going to be taken by somebody and sometimes used against them. And they just open up.

CAMPO: But I think --


AVLON: You got to get over that.

CAMPO: I think it speaks to who they know is listening --

SIDNER: Yes. CAMPO: -- beyond who will turn their words against them. They're not worried about that. They've been through enough where they just tune that stuff out. They are intentionally speaking to their younger selves, if you will, symbolically. Those young girls who are doubting themselves, who are unsure about their place in the world.

And so, I think that that's very -- it's a very clear message that they're sending to younger generations because they want them to know that they can. That the heights they've achieved are not unattainable. They want them to know, I'm just like you and I was able to do it.

SIDNER: That is exactly the words that Michelle Obama used. I was just like you. I'm just a girl from the south side of Chicago.

Thank you for being here on this Friday night. You can go have your beers or whatever.

CAMPO: It's tequila. I'm having the tequila with Margaret.

SIDNER: Be sure to tune in CNN Sunday night at 8 p.m. for our special. I'm hosting Michelle Obama's mission, a conversation with Michelle Obama, Amal Clooney, and Melinda French Gates.

We'll be right back.



SIDNER: One in 44 American children are believed to be on the autism spectrum, but studies have shown that black and brown children are diagnosed later than white children and are less likely to access critical assistance.

Top 10 CNN Hero, Debra Vines is working to change all of that for African American families in underserved areas outside of Chicago.


DEBRA VINES, CNN HERO: You plan once three. Bam. Being a parent of a child with autism in the 80s and the 90s was very, very challenging. The support groups that I found. I was the only black woman there. We had color barrier, income barrier, equity, barrier. Period. It was just all types of barriers.

Good morning.

Everything that we provide is a blueprint of what I was missing as a parent. And so we have a co-ed support group. They kids go to their classes. We are a family and I'm very adamant about educating the community because people are afraid of what they don't understand.


We want to make sure that first responders are trained.