Return to Transcripts main page

Isa Soares Tonight

A Russian Official Says It's Only A Matter Of Time Before Bakhmut Falls; American-Israeli Killed At The West Bank; Rupert Murdoch's Deposition Released In Lawsuit Against Fox News; World Bank Estimates $34.2 Billion Damage In Turkiye-Syria Quake; Murdoch Comes Clean On FOX Propaganda; U.S. Concerned About China-Russia Relations; Utah Running Dry. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired February 28, 2023 - 14:00   ET



ISA SOARES, HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: A very warm welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, a Russian official says it's only a

matter of time before Bakhmut falls. I will ask an adviser to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy for a status update on the fight in the east. Then an

American-Israeli citizen visiting the region for a wedding is the latest casualty in West Bank violence.

And then later, the world's most famous media mogul call President Trump's election lies B.S., but that didn't stop him from allowing Fox News hosts

to spread them. The Rupert Murdoch deposition, released. But first this hour, Ukrainian officials say the fighting in Bakhmut is extremely tense

and getting worse by the hour.

And that is an understatement, according to defense forces there. Those who are fighting to push back Russian advances say the situation is 100 percent

more difficult than any of the official reports. For weeks, the eastern city has been really the epicenter of Russia's offensive. Russian-backed

officials claim victory is near.

According to Ukrainian forces, Russia is driving waves of prisoners into reckless attacks. And in some cases, they are breaking through defensive

lines. But Ukraine is vowing to fight until the end. Let's get more on all of this. I want to bring in Alexander Rodnyansky, he's an adviser to

Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy. He joins me here from Kyiv, and also a well-known face here on the show.

Alexander, great to have you back on the show. So, give me then your assessment of what you understand the situation in Bakhmut.

ALEXANDER RODNYANSKY, ECONOMIC ADVISER TO VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY: Yes, well, thanks for having me. First of all, I mean, our president said it himself,

the situation is difficult. There is no secret about that. However, we are still holding the positions. Bakhmut is still Ukrainian, it's controlled by

Ukraine. We haven't given it up, so -- but yes, Russia is trying to encircle it right now, and they're using their best Wagner troops,

apparently, the most well trained and the most experienced to do that.

After they've sacrificed thousands of new conscripts that were basically just cannon fodder to them. So that tells you that they're probably running

out of -- you know, essentially, they want to capture Bakhmut as quickly as possible, so that's number one. Number two, our military is obviously going

to weigh off the options. So far, they're going to -- you know, they've held the city, but if need be, they will strategically pull back because

we're not going to sacrifice all of our people just for nothing.

So, it will be a strategic step by the military, and we'll see what happens. But ultimately, whatever Russia proclaims, it is more tantamount

to fake victory rather than the real victory because the costs far outweigh the benefits for them. And that's been clear throughout. So, if we pull

back, we're going to make sure that we protect the area west of Bakhmut.

SOARES: Let me pull just from some of the things that you said. You said that the decision will be made whether, really to retreat. At what point,

how bad does it have to get in order for Ukraine to retreat, and do you think, Alexander, that you're close to that, given the picture that you're

painting, that Ukrainian commanders are painting in the country.

One Ukrainian commander in Bakhmut say the situation is extremely difficult. President Zelenskyy called it more challenging. At what point

would Ukraine retreat, you think?

RODNYANSKY: Look, I mean, that's something that the military would have to decide. So, I can't really comment on that directly. You know, the answer

is, they would retreat or they would give up strategically, Bakhmut, if they believe that, you know, the cost of holding Bakhmut outweigh the

benefits. And, you know, trust me, you know, the similar -- if we carry out a similar calculation for the Russian side, as already said, the outcome is

pretty obvious.

The costs of capturing Bakhmut already far outweigh the benefits of not capturing it, to them. But they don't care about human lives, we know that.

We made sure over the months that we would fortify the area west of Bakhmut, which wasn't well fortified just a couple of months ago. Now it

is, so it's a very different situation.

If we were to pull back, that wouldn't necessarily mean that the Russians would be able to advance very quickly afterwards. So, that's how -- that's

how it goes. And I want to also say actually that whatever happens, make no mistake, our counteroffensives will be around the corner soon.

SOARES: And we keep hearing from analysts on our show, military analysts on our show, who are telling us that, look, this is symbolic. If it's not

strategic, it's symbolic.


What would it mean if Ukraine was to lose Bakhmut, were to retreat here, Alexander, for the forces on the ground, in terms of really the mood to the

soldiers who have been fighting for months now in this street-to-street battle in Bakhmut?

RODNYANSKY: Yes, and as I said, it would be a great victory for Russia, so a victory that's really not worth the cost. I mean, I know that something

that's more --

SOARES: Yes --

RODNYANSKY: Tantamount for a defeat rather than a victory if anything. And that's something our military is very well aware of. Our troops are, you

know, well informed about that. Everyone knows what's going on, especially on the ground. So, they would understand, in other words, that we are some

-- we're caring about their lives, we're caring about protecting our own people and our troops.

And we're not just willing to sacrifice them for some objective, symbolic objective that really has no purpose in terms of the military strategy in

the -- you know, medium to long-run even. I mean, this war is obviously continuing. So, that's something that wouldn't necessarily denigrate the

morale of our troops.

SOARES: Sure --

RODNYANSKY: If anything, make no mistake, it's the Russian side who are going to face poor morale afterwards, and they are facing poor morale as we


SOARES: Alexander, let me just ask you this. I mean, we are seeing the scenes from Bakhmut, we have heard from many of our contacts regarding the

conditions in Bakhmut. It's incredibly muddy. Is there something -- is there any military equipment that would change, you think, the momentum in

Bakhmut? I'm thinking here, do Ukrainian forces have enough artillery, enough equipment for -- to keep the offensive on? I mean, do you need to be

seeing more of these western tanks in Bakhmut, have any of them arrived?

RODNYANSKY: Most definitely. They're starting to arrive and unfortunately, they've been arriving late. I mean, that was the whole tragedy about it. We

could have started training our troops, preparing our troops, you know, equipping them or just sending them to Germany months ago in order to

prepare. But now, we're facing this lag, and Russia is exactly trying to exploit that timeline for its own benefit.

As I said before, I mean, that benefit is really limited, but that's what they're trying to do. So, you know, ultimately, when we will get the tanks

and a new ammunition and all the other artillery systems, and hopefully, even the air power that our president has been speaking about in recent

months. Our counteroffensives will be around the corner, and trust me, they will be very effective.

It will be very similar to what happened earlier in the area around Kharkiv, which was captured first by the Russians, but then recaptured just

within days by us.

SOARES: Alexander Rodnyansky, always great to get you on the show. Thanks very much, Alex, appreciate it.

RODNYANSKY: Thank you.

SOARES: Now, Russia's president wants the country's Intelligence agency to step up their information gathering on western nations. Speaking at a

federal security service meeting on Tuesday, Vladimir Putin said, the West is throwing more resources into finding out Russia's military secrets. So,

Russia needs to do the same. Mr. Putin has been tight-lipped about the state of his so-called special operation in Ukraine, but he's now making a

rare admission. Have a listen.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT, RUSSIA (through translator): Unfortunately, there are losses in our ranks. The leadership of the FSB must do everything

to provide additional support to the families of our fallen comrades.


SOARES: Our Fred Pleitgen updates us now on how Russian forces are faring in Ukraine.



FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Russian defense ministry video from the war in Ukraine, showing Moscow's

troops on the move, gaining ground, eating backs Kyiv's forces. But the reality, at least in some cases, seems different. These soldiers say they

were mobilized from Irkutsk in Siberia, and they're refusing to fight.

"Due to the current state of affairs, we find ourselves in a desperate position as the commanders do not care about our lives", he says, and later

adds, "we asked for help, we have nowhere else to turn." The video was published as the Ukrainians say they've decimated Russian forces trying to

assault Vuhledar in eastern Ukraine. And after a public spat between Yevgeny Prigozhin of the Wagner private military company and the Russian

defense ministry over ammo supplies to Wagner mercenaries around Bakhmut.

While Prigozhin says, the issue has been resolved, he took another swipe at the defense ministry. "A big number of former soldiers who are now part of

Wagner came here because they were looking for more creative freedom, since everyone understands the army doesn't always enable that." When we asked

Prigozhin whether ties with the defense ministry have been restored, a snarky answer.

"Guys, you're CNN. Enemy spies. Have a conscience. How can I discuss military issues with you", he wrote on this social media channel? Wagner's

forces say, they've gained ground around Bakhmut this weekend.


Russian state media released this drone footage of the utter destruction there, and the Ukrainians claim Wagner's losses are immense. Former Putin

adviser, Sergei Markov tells me, he doesn't believe Prigozhin uses his forces as cannon fodder because he owns them.

SERGEI MARKOV, RUSSIAN POLITICAL SCIENTIST: They have storming groups, but Prigozhin, according to my information, he tries to preserve their lives

because it's their lives he's profiting, and he's a businessman.

PLEITGEN (on camera): Their lives are his property?


PLEITGEN (voice-over): But while progress is hard to come by for his army, Russian President Vladimir Putin shows no signs of backing down. Instead,

proclaiming the Ukraine war to be a conflict with the West.

PUTIN: They have one goal, to break up the former Soviet Union and its main part, the Russian federation. For what? To push the remnants around

and put them under their direct control.


SOARES: And that was Fred Pleitgen reporting from Moscow. We'll keep a close eye, of course, for you on this story. Well, the U.S. State

Department says it's extremely concerned by the continuing violence in Israel and the West Bank after an American-Israeli man was killed on a

highway near Jericho. Israeli troops have tightened security in the area, as they hunt for the attackers.

The U.S. is condemning the shooting as well as the killing of two Israeli brothers near Nablus, if you remember, on Sunday. It's also condemning what

it calls, wide scale indiscriminate violence against Palestinians. Armed settlers went on a rampage in Huwara after the brothers were killed,

setting fire to cars and homes with families inside. One Palestinian was shot and killed, others were injured with iron bars.

The U.S. says, it expects Israel to fully prosecute the attackers and compensate Palestinians for their property loss. Let's get more now from

CNN's Hadas Gold live for us in Jerusalem. And Hadas, it seems this young man who died, seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Just talk

us through what you understand unfolded here.

HADAS GOLD, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Isa. I mean, it's been an unusual few days here, because while it's been already a year-and-a-half or

so of increasing tensions and violence, these sorts of attacks and then these settler-rampages we're seeing, these are on a new level, and where

this attack took place that targeted this American man who also had held Israeli citizenship, well, that's a pretty unusual place, at least, more

recent memory, for those such attacks to take place, because it's actually a road that's often used by tourists to reach places like Jericho, to reach

places like the Dead Sea.

Now though, that spot has become apparently a place where attacks can take place, claiming its latest victim, which turned out to be an American man.


GOLD (voice-over): Elan Ganeles was in the wrong place at the wrong time, his friends say. The 27-year-old Connecticut native, the latest victim in

the uptick of violence between Israelis and Palestinians. Moved to Israel several years ago, studied Hebrew at the Kibbutz before joining the Israeli

military. One of his former teachers telling CNN, he was the kind of guy you would want your daughter to date.

But in 2018, after he completed his service with the Israeli army, he moved back to the U.S. to attend Columbia University, where he studied


ELAN GANELES, MURDERED AT THE WEST BANK: Hey guys, my name is Elan, I'm going to talk about how we measure sustainability.

GOLD: Returning recently to visit for a friend's wedding. But as he drove along a popular route that cuts through the occupied West Bank, often used

by tourists on their way to the Dead Sea, the Israel Defense Forces said attackers shot at several cars, Ganeles was struck in the upper body,

medics said. The attackers fleeing to nearby Palestinian villages, burning their cars in the process.

Echoing a similar attack that killed two Israeli brothers on Sunday near the Palestinian town of Huwara, south of Nablus, followed by revenge

attacks by dozens of Israeli settlers that killed at least one Palestinian man and left dozens of homes and cars burned. The U.S. government,

expressing alarm over the recent events.

NED PRICE, SPOKESPERSON, STATE DEPARTMENT, UNITED STATES: We condemn the horrific killing of two Israeli brothers near Nablus and the killing today

of an Israeli near Jericho, who we understand was also an American citizen. We express our deepest condolences to all of the victims' families and

their loved ones.

GOLD: Now, a massive manhunt underway for all the attackers, and the Israeli military is sending an extra battalion, placing checkpoints in the

nearby Palestinian city of Jericho. As the region remains on edge, worried about what will come next.


GOLD: And Isa, something interesting that just happened in the last hour or so is the major general who was actually the commander in charge of much

of the IDF's operations in the West Bank, gave an interview on Israeli TV, where he called those settler attacks on Palestinians pogroms, obviously,

that word and the history of pogroms has a very important place in Israeli history, in Jewish history.


So, to have such a senior member of the Israeli military, calling them pogroms, the Israeli military already calling them acts of terror, that's

also notable. A lot of questions also to the Israeli military about how and why they didn't do more to prevent these attacks. And the commander

essentially saying it's up to him that they essentially -- he said, didn't prepare and didn't expect to see so many dozens of settlers going on such a

rampage. Isa.

SOARES: It's a story I know you'll stay on top of for us. Hadas Gold there for us this hour in Jerusalem, thanks very much, Hadas. Well, an extremely

strong language and even before the final tallies are in. Nigeria's opposition is demanding a re-run of the country's presidential election.




SOARES: Ruling party supporters are celebrating, as the latest tallies indicate their candidate is leading. But allegations of voter suppression,

manipulation and fraud are engulfing the vote-count. A coalition of opposition parties is denouncing the Electoral Commission as a travesty,

and accused it of committing a quote, "rape of democracy". But the Electoral Commission isn't backing off.

CNN's Larry Madowo is monitoring the turmoil from Lagos. So, what does this mean then? No calling for a fresh election, the Electoral Commission say

no, we don't want to. Where does this leave things, Larry?

LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It leaves things in a really tricky situation, Isa, because we have had a day of back-and-forth. A war of words

between on one side, the three major opposition parties saying that election was irretrievably compromised, and needs to be re-done afresh. And

on the other hand, the Electoral Commission and the APC, that is the ruling party, that fielded bulletin, because was leading in this election, saying,

you know what?

This process was proper and it should go ahead. I want to read for you a statement in reaction from the Independent National Electoral Commission

that said it's misplaced for these opposition parties to be calling for the resignation of the chairman because that's what they want. Let the chairman

step aside, and somebody from inside the commission take over running that fresh election they want.

They say the Electoral Commission, that "results emanating from states points to a free, fair, and credible process that 2023 general election

processes are in their final stages of completion, and it is only fair for aggrieved parties to allow the conclusion of the process and the approach

the courts with their evidence to pursue their cases."

We expect that maybe within the next 24 -- 12 to 24 hours, we will know the final result of the presidential election. And that is why the APC is

feeling good about this, because they're leading and they will likely be declared winners. This is their response to these opposition parties.


DELE ALI, SPOKESPERSON, APC: Does it mean that where PDP and Labor Party won, the election was free and fair there. But where they lost, the

election was rigged there. What kind of logic, warped logic, is that? What kind of reasoning, what kind of jaundiced perspective is that? And

egocentrism and extreme selfishness.


MADOWO: But it's not just the opposition parties, the PDP and Labor that are calling for a look into this process. Several observer missions

including the European Union, National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute, also raised some concerns about the

electoral process. They didn't say it needs to be re-done, but they said there were some failures in that process. So, it's not an isolated

incident, but the APC and INEC don't see it that way.

SOARES: They don't see it that way. I mean, it's not just aggrieved parties either, it's also -- it seems aggrieved voters. You and I were

talking yesterday of how many voters felt disenfranchised. Will people then, Larry, whatever the outcome, when that outcome comes, when the result

comes, will they accept the results?

MADOWO: It's almost certain that there will be some disquiet, some unpleasantness, because there will be voters who feel disenfranchised.

They've been telling me that since Saturday, because in some cases, poll officials didn't show up, so people didn't vote. But in more cases, ballots

were destroyed. People were intimidated, there was violence, there was a whole lot of cases that have been well documented on social media.

How many of them and to what extent do they rise to the level that -- entire election, we can't tell. But yes, when that result is announced,

there will be a lot of very unhappy people who might see a return to the streets, and some of them have been telling me and SARS; that movement to

get rid of that police unit to clamp -- that was really violent. But this time, this revolution will be stronger than that and more brutal.

SOARES: And very briefly, how soon will we get these results? It's taken a while.

MADOWO: It is taking a while, but they're inching closer to the final number of states. So far, I think about 14 have been announced. We have

about 20 or so to go. But they're announcing a couple of them quickly, so I think within the next 12 to 24 hours, we will know who the next president

of Nigeria is.

SOARES: Larry Madowo there for us, thanks very much, Larry. Still to come tonight, we are taking you to Turkey. More than three weeks after one of

the worst earthquakes in a century to see where recovery efforts now stand. That story, just ahead.



SOARES: We want to bring you back to our extensive coverage of the earthquake across Turkey and Syria. Of course, one of the worst

humanitarian crisis in the region's history. And now, it's becoming clear just how bad the damages are. The World Bank estimates it's $34.2 billion

in Turkey alone, and recovery could cost twice that amount.

The World Health Organization, Regional Director for Europe, Dr. Hans Kluge is live with us from Gaziantep, Turkey. Dr. Kluge, great to have you back

on the show. Give us a sense then of what you have seen on the ground in Gaziantep, and what the bigger challenges -- the biggest challenges to say,

are right now, from your perspective.

HANS KLUGE, REGIONAL DIRECTOR FOR EUROPE, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: Well, then, we drove from Gaziantep to Hatay, we saw one road of destruction. But

what struck me is the massive response that the Turkish government really raced to the earthquake here. Fifty thousand patients they transported and

evacuated from the region where I am to other places in the country.

They sent 1,000 ambulances. The Minister of Health, Dr. Fahrettin Koca, I met today was sent with the whole ministry to be based in the region here,

but at the same time, as the minister was telling, I mean, 50,000 square kilometers surface has been destroyed. I mean, that's a region bigger than

Belgium, bigger than Switzerland, and 11 provinces with 15 million people affected. So, this is far bigger than any country is able to address.

SOARES: Talk us through the challenges of your team on the ground have been seeing, that they see kind of on a daily basis. What are the


KLUGE: Well, first and foremost, very basic. It's, for example, safe drinking water because the clean water has been mixed with the sewage, so

shelter, still, for the people. Second, mental health. That is not to be ignored. Basically, the whole country is affected. Mental health-wise. What

we see is secondary trauma, so either people are directly affected in the 11 provinces and the other province, people who watch television.


What the people are telling me when I was speaking to those who were really rescued from -- under the rubble, is that they lost faith in the ground

beneath them. And since the 6th of February, there has been more than 8,000 still aftershocks. So, people are afraid to sleep. There was one child,

seven years with panic attacks going to the hospital, who did a heart infarct.

So, this mental health impact on the population including on the helpers is huge, and that's what we are mounting with the minister of health to help

the helpers. The doctors, pre-deployment, the army, the religious leaders to prepare them, because the trauma is massive.

SOARES: Have you seen, Dr. Hans Kluge, trauma on this scale? I mean, what you've just outlined, it's truly something, quite shocking. Have you seen

anything on this scale, in terms of mental health trauma?

KLUGE: Well, by a natural disaster, no.

SOARES: Yes --

KLUGE: I know that we cannot compare any crisis. But of course, as you know, last week, I came for the fifth time from Ukraine, where a whole

country is also impacted by a man-made disaster. So, and the second panel I can draw is when the minister was telling me that 1,000 children and adults

had limbs amputated, so the need for post-traumatic rehabilitation and prosthesis, again here, I'm seeing due to this natural disaster.

SOARES: Dr. Hans Kluge, always great to get your insight, I really appreciate and thank you to all your workers --

KLUGE: My pleasure --

SOARES: And all those on the ground. Thank you very much, Dr. Hans Kluge there. Well, the region is facing a long road to recovery, that's for sure,

including the cultural and religious sites where tourists once flocked. Many now lay in ruins. Jomana Karadsheh shows us the loss in Antakya and

how some are concerned the city will just never be the same.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fewer the souls that roam the streets of what's left of Antakya. Ancient Antioch

where empires once stood, now a decimated ghost town.

(on camera): The scale of the destruction here is just immense. Damaged and destroyed buildings everywhere you look, and you've got mountains of

debris that stretch for miles and miles.

(voice-over): Gone are the streets of the vibrant old city once lined with boutique, hotels, restaurants and antique shops. "One morning, I woke up,

my home, my friends, my city, everything I lived, is gone", he says. Mother nature's unforgiving force has wiped out history, heritage sites spanning

centuries and cultures now lying in ruins. Like the 7th century, Habib-i Nejjar Mosque, one of Anatolia's first, and this 14th century church, once

the seat of the Greek orthodox, patriarch, reduced to rubble.

It's not the first time earthquakes have damaged the church, but never has the future of its people been so uncertain. It is from Antioch where

Christianity spread to the world, father Demitry Dughaim tells us. He's now mourning 40 of his dwindling 1,000-member congregation. "We were trying to

return to this land, our history and the books will remain", he tells us.

"But right now, our history is gone. The city is gone. I have two sons, there's no future left in the city now for our children. Antakya was one of

the few Turkish cities where Muslims, Christians and Jews did live side by side. That may be no more. Its synagogue was barely damaged, and the 500-

year-old Torah scrolls rescued by a beloved Jewish leader and his wife didn't make it.

Shawel(ph) and Cenudioglu Ola(ph) were among the last Jews of Antakya.

ELA CENUDIOGLU, NIECE OF JEWISH COMMUNITY LEADER KILLED IN EARTHQUAKE: He really worked hard to keep up the Jewish values and the community together.

He was the leader of the Jewish community there, the tiny community of 15 people. The other uncles, they all moved to Israel and this uncle, he

really loved Antakya. He was very connected to his roots.

KARADSHEH: In their Istanbul apartment, the grieving Cenudioglu Ola(ph) family sip a cup of Antioch coffee, a taste of a home they lived years ago.

CENUDIOGLU: My past is gone. Hopefully, this still will be rebuilt and it will recover by time. But there was a certain flare to it. The community,

the feeling of diversification and everyone living peacefully together, and I always believed it reflected, like Turkey, to be honest, I'm worried that

it will fade away.

KARADSHEH: As the sun sets on Antakya, no one knows when and how Antioch and its people will ever rise again. Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Antakya,



SOARES: And still to come tonight, FOX mogul Rupert Murdoch calls Donald Trump's election fraud claims BS but admits that his hosts spread them. His

bombshell testimony, just ahead.




SOARES: Welcome back, everyone.

Now to some stunning admissions from the man behind FOX News. Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of FOX Corporation, has admitted, under oath, that

hosts on his network endorsed lies about the 2020 U.S. presidential election, including that it was stolen from Donald Trump.

During a deposition, Murdoch defended FOX News but conceded some of his hosts had pushed false narratives. And I want to read you some parts of

Murdoch's deposition now, compared to what the hosts were actually saying on air.

So the question was, "You are now aware that FOX endorsed, at times, this false notion of a stolen election?"

Murdoch replies, "Not FOX, no. Not FOX. But maybe Lou Dobbs, maybe Maria, as commentators."

Then he was asked, "We went through FOX host Maria Bartiromo, yes?"

And Murdoch says, "Yes. Come on."

Have a listen.


MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX NEWS HOST: Sidney, we talked about the Dominion software. I know that there were voting irregularities. Tell me about that.

SIDNEY POWELL, TRUMP ADVISOR: That's to put it mildly. Computer glitches could not and should not have happened at all. That's where the fraud took



SOARES: Right, you're following this, right?

Then Murdoch is asked, "What about FOX host Jeanine Pirro?

And he says, "I think so."

Let's play it.


JEANINE PIRRO, FOX NEWS HOST: The president's lawyers alleging a company called Dominion, which they say started in Venezuela with Cuban money and

with the assistance of Smartmatic software, a back door is capable of flipping votes.



SOARES: Stick with me. Another question for Murdoch, "FOX Business host, Lou Dobbs?" he is asked.

Murdoch's answer, "Oh, a lot."


LOU DOBBS, FBN HOST: This president has to take, I believe, drastic action, dramatic action, to make certain that the integrity of this

election is understood -- or lack of it -- the crimes that have been committed against him and the American people.


SOARES: Well, stay with me. What about FOX host Sean Hannity?

Murdoch's answer, "A bit."


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: It will be impossible to ever know the true, fair, accurate election results.


SOARES: Well, Murdoch's testimony comes as FOX is fighting a $1.6 billion legal battle against Dominion, a voting machine company, which has accused

the network of defamation. FOX has denied the claims.

CNN legal analyst Norm Eisen is joining me now to discuss what we learned in Rupert Murdoch's newly released deposition.

Norm, great to have you on the show.

Look, it's so damning, isn't it?

Just seeing it there in black and white and hearing it directly from Murdoch, what they knew, that they knew they were lying and they could've

stopped it but did not.

How much of a legal battle is this for FOX here?

NORMAN EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's a very serious legal exposure for FOX. In the United States, there is a high burden that Dominion is going to

have to show to achieve damages here, which could run to the billions of dollars.

They need to show that FOX allowed these words to be spoken, knowing they were false or recklessly, with disregard for the truth. And FOX says, well,

we were just reporting.

But when Murdoch admits, no, the hosts were endorsing, then you have the names of some of the FOX stars, who endorsed, that really helps Dominion

cross that legal threshold.

I've never seen anything like these admissions. This is one of the most damaging depositions I've ever seen in my 30 years practicing law.

SOARES: And not only were they spewing lies all the way to the top, they knew it. But it was done also in pursuit of ratings and profit. Murdoch has

said, it's not red or blue; it is green.

EISEN: Yes, that was his comment about Mike Lindell, another one of the guests who came on the air and told these lies.

Lindell, among other things, went on Tucker Carlson's show, FOX's biggest star here in the U.S. And Carlson allowed Lindell to say these falsehoods

without countering them. In my mind, that's more evidence of liability. And I think a jury will be angered by this. And that risks billions of dollars

in potential damages for FOX.

SOARES: And Norm, the filing says that FOX gave Trump White House secret Biden campaign information. I suspect this goes beyond buyers, beyond

questionable journalism.

But does that cross a legal point, a legal line, from your point of view?

EISEN: Well, the reason Dominion includes this exchange of confidential information between Rupert Murdoch and the White House, in the form of the

president's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, is because it's more evidence of what we call, in the United States, the legal term, actual

malice, that FOX knew what they were doing.

They intentionally did wrong. And it's of a piece with this endorsement of the false and damaging statements. I think this is a very tough case for

FOX, which is looking at now trying this to a jury, a jury that could be very irritated by these kinds of facts.

SOARES: And what does it mean for the hosts, too?

You saw just before we came to you, we outlined really some of the little clips from what they said on there.

Could they be penalized?

How do you see this playing out, Norm?

EISEN: Well, it's playing out in two courts: the court of law, which is where these endorsements and wrongful conduct allegedly -- and the evidence

is piling up, pointing to potentially large damages -- but also the court of public opinion.

And I think that what little credibility FOX had left is being absolutely hammered here. And so, these hosts, the network as a whole, the movement

that FOX is part of, is taking on tremendous damage in the court of public opinion as well.


SOARES: Damage in the court of public opinion.

You think people will stop watching it, those who watch FOX will stop watching it, simply because of this?

EISEN: Well, you know, FOX is a popular network. And not everyone who watches it is an election denier, believes these bizarre, unfounded

conspiracy theories.

Yes, I do believe it will be harmful to FOX; their credibility, the ability of Rupert Murdoch to walk into a room of other media leaders, FOX being

quoted, all of that is suffering, hemorrhaging credibility now.

SOARES: Norm Eisen, always great to get you on the show. Thanks very much. Appreciate it.

And still to come tonight, relations between Washington and Beijing are getting even worse because of new disagreements over Ukraine, as well as

COVID-19. We will explain, next.




SOARES: Well, China is hosting one of Vladimir Putin's biggest allies right now. Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko is in Beijing to meet

with China's Xi Jinping. State media says the two leaders are planning to maximize the potential of the new level of cooperation.

Washington has spoken out against the visit. It's concerned China will send lethal aid to Russia, to support Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill a new House Select Committee on China is about to make its debut. I want to bring in Stephen Collinson, live for us in


Stephen, good to see you. So tensions I think it's fair to say between China and the U.S. have been high. Even before the balloon incident that

you and I discussed. But now we are seeing the ramping up, aren't we, of an adversarial relationship between both.

So what can we expect to hear from this new committee?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right, this committee, it's a select committee of the House of Representatives. It was brought

into being by the new Republican speaker, Kevin McCarthy.

But it also has Democrats, who are also invested in what's really a very important political force in Washington right now and that is the idea that

everyone wants to be tough on China.

I think the spy balloon incident, these questions of whether China will send arms to Russia for the war in Ukraine and the new controversy over the

COVID-19 origins, following a report from the Department of Energy in the U.S. earlier this week, that they believe with low confidence, that COVID

could've come from a lab and not natural, wasn't naturally occurring.


COLLINSON: I think all of these things have really created this momentum against China in Washington. And the committee, I think, will channel that.

There is no political advantage in being sober on China relations right now, in D.C.

SOARES: Yes, you talked about some not Taiwan, the war in Ukraine concerns, of course, over these sort of Chinese, of China's influence in


I mean, the whole thing, as you clearly pointed out, it's quite politicized. I didn't even mention TikTok here, which we can discuss in

just a moment.

But doesn't this risk pushing both into a conflict here?

This is very risky.

COLLINSON: Right. And there is this gathering momentum in Washington. And given the fact that everyone wants to show how tough they are on China,

this places pressure on the administration after the spy balloon incident we were discussing a couple of weeks ago.

Secretary of state, Antony Blinken, did try to kind of get everyone to step back, meeting with Wang Yi, the top Chinese diplomat, during a trip to


But what we see almost every day is another issue that drives this political momentum. President Biden has said he wants competition with

China but does not want a very adversarial relationship, even though he will stand up to what he says are any infringements of U.S. sovereignty.

But you know, his running room is limited by the politics, especially as we go into a presidential election in the next two years. This is not just

happening in the United States.

We often, as outsiders, tend to think of China as a monolithic autocracy, with Xi Jinping being all powerful. And while he is powerful, of course,

there are extensive political reverberations inside China between various parts of the government and the security state that constrain his actions,


So that's where, I think, these crises, not just from themselves but the political impact that they have can be corrosive to the relationship. And

this big goal of the United States -- and presumably China, too -- is to stop this increasing rivalry tipping over into something a lot more


SOARES: Indeed. But let's focus on one other aspect that I mentioned earlier. It is TikTok. I never thought we would talk TikTok with you,

Stephen. But you know, the White House now directing federal agencies, that they have, what, 30 days or so to remove TikTok from all government issued


Just explain why and whether you think this could be expanded more broadly. Clearly, it's about competition, too, not just surveillance.

COLLINSON: Yes, the issue here is whether this app, on people's phones, which is on everybody's phone, pretty much, is giving the Chinese security

state and entry into all sorts of places, not just government but companies, people's personal lives, all sorts of other things.

Of course, there is the issue of ownership and the competition in the tech industry. But what we've seen is in not just federal governments, not just

the United States but in local/regional state governments, people are already being told to remove TikTok from their phones.

Of course, there is this kind of crossover between -- on a government phone, where someone looks at potentially very sensitive or even classified

information, which makes it even more of an issue.

There are even bills in Congress that would ban TikTok from the phones of young people, who are mostly users of this app. So you know, it's another

issue where the building pressure on China kind of creates its own force, political force. And that conditions the way politicians are acting.

SOARES: Indeed. I want to give our viewers a sense of what the Chinese said regarding TikTok.

I can't believe that United States, as the world's number one superpower, is so afraid of a mobile phone application popular among young people. This

is rather a lack of confidence.

We will stay on top of this story. Thanks very much, Stephen Collinson there for us in Washington. Appreciate it.

Still to come, a rapidly expanding population, a drought of historic levels, a deeper look at that challenge facing the American West, coming






SOARES: Well, the U.S. state of Utah seeing a population boom. It's also being hit hard by a mega drought that's gripping the American West. So the

challenge is trying to balance more people with an increasingly stretched water supply. Our chief climate correspondent, Bill Weir, has this story.


BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: (voice-over): In a bright red county, in a state allergic to government regulations, it is against the

law to plant new grass around your business.

Only about 8 percent of a home's landscaping can include lawn. And if you want to start an endeavor that guzzles a lot of water, you are free to look

somewhere else.

ZACH RENSTROM, GENERAL MANAGER, WASHINGTON COUNTY CONSERVANCY DISTRICT: If somebody wanted to come and build a golf course today, I don't know where

they would get the water from. And I'm telling you, I know where every drop of water is.

WEIR (voice-over): Zach Renstrom is in charge of the water of Washington County, Utah, which holds the fastest growing metro area in the nation in a

region that's suffering the worst mega drought in 1,200 years.

RENSTROM: We like our independence. We like our freedoms. We do not like government regulation.

WEIR (voice-over): But that combo of a lot more people and a lot less water has forced some of the toughest water laws in the nation.

RENSTROM: We're developing plans that basically say during a drought situation that there can be absolutely no outside watering for any type of

-- anything, even for, like, trees. We also talked about cutting off our construction water and I know that's like, oh, well, what's the big deal

with construction water?

But if we stop construction water, that act alone would lay off about 20 percent of our county.

WEIR (voice-over): So like a lot of folks around here, he's counting on Utah to build an estimated $2.2 billion pipeline to pump water from Lake

Powell across 140 miles of desert and into this Washington County reservoir, a hugely controversial idea passed by state lawmakers 17 years


But when the Trump administration tried to fast track the environmental review, the six other states that depend on the Colorado River system took

a rare step of banding together to stop it.

MATT RICE, SOUTHWEST REGIONAL DIRECTOR, AMERICAN RIVERS: The system is crashing. To be honest, it's kind of uncomprehendable (sic) to think of a

diversion of that size that would serve 200,000 people in one county in southern Utah at this moment in time. There's just not the water.

WEIR (voice-over): For environmental advocates like Matt Rice of American Rivers, developing with a pipeline mentality makes less sense now than


RICE: We're in a place where everybody across the board, lower basin, upper basin, agriculture, municipalities, we have to be laser focused on

doing more with less water, because that's our future. That is our reality.

MAYOR CHRIS HART, IVINS, UTAH: One of the most beautiful places on the face of the Earth is how I describe it. It's like living in a national


WEIR (voice-over): Chris Hart is the mayor of Ivins, a town of 10- grand that's growing just as fast as the rest of Washington County.

HART: As you look at our new city hall, the landscaping around this building requires no water.

WEIR: It's beautiful, too.

HART: We don't hear --

WEIR: And it fits, it's fits the landscape, right?

HART: Yes. I mean, it's exactly what a desert landscape ought to look like.

WEIR: You got some attention in just a community meeting, calling it the Lake Powell pipe dream.

HART: Shame on me.

WEIR: No, but I guess it felt like a candid moment there.

HART: I actually use that word tongue-in-cheek, because the serious side of it is that it is an essential part of our plan.


HART: I think, from our perspective, from the state of Utah, is we're entitled to that, to our share. When the acknowledgment of what's happening

with climate change and the reduction of flow, whatever that translates into, we'll live within that.

We're looking at a situation here that resembles on a much smaller scale what happened in California and Arizona and in Las Vegas. They've had their

enormous growth spurts through the years and the water has been made available for them to do that. And now here we are, Utah, little old Utah.

WEIR (voice-over): But in the meantime, thanks to the new Infrastructure Bill and Inflation Reduction Act, there are billions of federal for towns

like Ivins to take water reclamation to the next level and like Las Vegas, capture, treat and recycle every drop possible.

HART: So the few drops of rain that we get, if we can use them four or five times --

WEIR: Yes.

HART: -- that's a whole different thing than the drop of rain comes, you use it and off it goes down the river.

WEIR (voice-over): But he knows better than most living through climate change in the west means living with a culture change around water -- Bill

Weir, CNN, St. George, Utah.


SOARES: Fascinating piece there from our Bill Weir.

And thank you very much for your company this evening. Do stay right here. I will be back with "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" in just a few minutes. Stay with