Return to Transcripts main page

Isa Soares Tonight

Vladimir Putin Welcomes Xi Jinping To Moscow; New York Braces For A Possible Indictment Of Donald Trump; U.N. Reports Climate Time-Bomb Is Ticking; U.N. Report: World Running Out Of Time To Avoid Catastrophe; President Biden Welcomes "Ted Lasso" Cast To White House. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired March 20, 2023 - 15:00   ET



ISA SOARES, HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: A very warm welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, Vladimir Putin welcomes Xi Jinping to

Moscow as the highly anticipated talks between the two leaders begin. Then New York braces for a possible indictment of Donald Trump, as the former

president says he will be arrested on Tuesday.

We'll explore whether that is likely. Plus, the climate time-bomb is ticking, and the world is running out of time to stop it. More on that dire

warning from the U.N. But first, this evening, my dear friend. That is how Russian President Vladimir Putin greeted his Chinese counterpart, as Xi

Jinping arrived at the Kremlin hours ago.

The two leaders smiled as they warmly shook hands and exchanged greetings. China's posing Mr. Xi Jinping's visit to Moscow not only as a chance really

to forge closer relations, but also as a Ukraine peace initiative. President Putin said he looks forward to studying Mr. Xi Jinping's

proposals. Have a listen to this.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT, RUSSIA (through translator): We studied closely your proposals on the settlement of the acute crisis in Ukraine. Of course,

we will have an opportunity to discuss this issue. We know that you are based on the principles of justice and commitment to the fundamental points

of international law, indivisible security for all parties.

You are also aware that we are always open to the negotiation process. We will certainly discuss all of these issues including your initiative.


SOARES: But western leaders are very skeptical of China's intentions and its relationship with Russia and its Ukraine proposals. The visit comes a

day after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Mr. Putin for alleged war crimes. The U.S. Secretary of State said the visit

shows China wants to give Mr. Putin diplomatic cover.

Let's get more on all of this. CNN's Will Ripley is monitoring the summit for us. And Will, good to see you. That meeting between both leaders, I

understand, went on for about four-plus hours. Give us a sense of what came out of it. What did both leaders want to come out of it here?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, clearly, they have a lot of things that they need to discuss. And the West's view is that the

reason why, you know, President Xi decided to prioritize meeting with Vladimir Putin shortly after receiving his unprecedented third presidential

term, is because he needs to keep his allies, his authoritarian allies, government, and country strong to act as a counterbalance to the power of

the United States.

So despite western sanctions, despite condemnation, despite these ICC arrest warrants for Putin, and the possibility that he could eventually be

tried for war crimes, alleged war crimes. The fact that President Xi is there, giving him legitimacy, and perhaps also talking about giving him

support to be able to end the war eventually on terms favorable to Russia.

This is all in benefit of President Xi and his goal, that he shares with Putin, of disrupting the U.S.-led world order. This is something that the

two of them, you know, above any other relationship, the ideology that they share is what experts feel is most important to the Chinese president.

And so, important in fact, he's willing to risk, you know, perhaps, even, you know, consequences that are calamitous in terms of economic -- the

economic consequences with the United States by supporting Russia, and perhaps even crossing over that red line of the United States has laid out,

and possibly supplying Russia with lethal weapons, ammunition, and the type of things that could give its troops a battlefield advantage.

Because if Russia is able to gain more of an upper hand, then when they do eventually come to peace negotiations, and of course, China did put out

that 12-point peace plan. They might be able to get what President Xi, and China believes that Putin will need in order to end the fighting, which is

basically to be able to keep all of the land that they have seized so far.

So, of course, this is very concerning to Ukraine. You know, the thought that China, well, claiming to be a neutral partner, refusing to speak with

President Zelenskyy by phone, now meeting with Vladimir Putin, and potentially urging --

SOARES: Yes --

RIPLEY: Some sort of an arrangement in which Ukraine would essentially have to slice up its country. Isa.

SOARES: Let's talk about that final point you made. Now, we heard from John Kirby today, who said that this was a marriage of convenience, and not

of affection. But he also said this, have a listen to this, Will.




to cease bombing Ukrainian cities, hospitals and schools. To halt the war crimes and atrocities, and to withdraw its troops.

But we are concerned that, instead, China will reiterate its calls for a ceasefire, it leaves Russian forces inside Ukraine sovereign territory.


SOARES: Do we know, Will, at this point, whether Xi, who as you said put forward a 12-point peace plan has called on Putin to cease bombing

Ukrainian cities, you know whether that discussions is being had at this point?

RIPLEY: We have no way to know for sure, but that is the widely-held view, that this peace plan which includes of course, the ceasefire is high on --

is high on President Xi's priority list. One thing that's very important to the Chinese president is that this conflict not escalate to a nuclear

level. There's all that talk about tactical nuclear weapons.

The Russians and Vladimir Putin himself made that threat repeatedly as one of the biggest things that Russia has in its arsenal that it has not used

aside from throwing pretty much everything else, but the kitchen sink at the Ukrainian people in the relentless bombing of civilian infrastructure.

But in order for this peace plan to work for Russia, China knows that Kyiv will also have to withdraw its own troops.

And this is something that President Xi likely will be pitching to Vladimir Putin in great detail, and then perhaps of course, this would also be

passed along to the Ukrainians. This will be really problematic because it starts to put more and more pressure upon the Zelenskyy administration,

upon the United States to accept the kind of concessions that the Ukrainians --

SOARES: Yes --

RIPLEY: Have said. And when I was in Ukraine for a month, people told me over and over again, they will not accept any deal that doesn't get them

back all the land that Russia took, going all the way back to 2014. That is not part of the plan that President Xi is believed to be discussing with

Vladimir Putin, four hours of discussions today and more formal discussions planned for tomorrow, Isa.

SOARES: And we'll touch base again tomorrow, but important context there from our Will Ripley, thanks very much, Will, great to see you. Now,

Russia's president has now made his first trip to Ukraine since the start of the war. Over the weekend, if you remember, Russian state television

showed Vladimir Putin touring Mariupol, the southeastern city that's been occupied since last May.

Mr. Putin's visit took place in the dark of night, possibly so authorities could hide the damage from the months' long siege last year, the Kremlin

doesn't say when he was there. But they released the footage the day after the ICC issued his arrest warm. The visit is a clear provocation to

Ukraine, as Mariupol is a symbol of course, of Ukrainian resistance, and suffered some of the most intense fighting that we've seen in this war.

David McKenzie joins me now from Odessa. So, David, what has been the reaction from Ukraine and from President Zelenskyy to this visit by

President Putin to Mariupol?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, one official put it that it was like a thief visiting, because it was in the night time,

as you say, possibly to hide the extensive damage in that Russian-occupied area of Ukraine. And possibly, because there is the sense that he needed to

get in and out there safely.

So it might not just be to hide the damage. Another official said that it's a deeply cynical move, given the amount of damage that this caused and

lives lost, and thousands of people that fled that area into Ukraine after that area was taken over. But I think it's also worth pointing out, that

this was clearly timed as well ahead of the Xi Jinping meeting.

To show that those areas, at least, in terms of propaganda, are coming back to normal. Of course, they're nowhere near normal. It is also worth

mentioning I think that, after this meeting with Xi Jinping and Putin, it would be interesting to see if then, the Chinese leader will talk to

President Zelenskyy who is never going to talk to him beforehand because Russia and China are such closer, if not allies, they're closely linked at

this point. Isa?

SOARES: Yes, and you know, throughout this -- you know, this war we have heard, and you would have heard this, and we have reported on the show, we

have heard President Zelenskyy making repeated calls, David, for not just military hardware, for jets, but as well as ammunition. Today, it seems

that EU states have stepped up. Just talk us through what is being promised and how soon critically it will arrive, David?

MCKENZIE: Well, from the Ukrainian point of view, it needs to arrive yesterday. There has --

SOARES: Yes --

MCKENZIE: Been a significant shortage of ammunition, particularly the 155 millimeter, that's a standard artillery shell that they're using from their

artillery pieces here in Ukraine, on those heavily-contested areas of the frontline, particularly in the east of the country. Seventeen EU states and

Norway got together to pledge a million rounds of ammunition.


Both in terms of what's immediately available that they can finance and long-term production. Because, you know, this significant land, well, on

the European continent has required arms and ammunition, nothing like you've seen since World War II. And that manufacturing needs to happen to

supply Ukraine from the NATO point of view.

You've also had several tanks, Leopard tanks that Norway says has arrived in the country and other hardware. It's been a scramble in the last few

weeks and months, I think, Isa, to get Ukraine kitted up for this potential counteroffensive.

And since I've been here this time, you do get a sense that there's -- not frustration, certainly, they're waiting for this to actually come in, these

pledges to come in, to make any kind of successful counteroffensive possible as the fighting continues very heavily, but without much

significant movement on those frontlines for many weeks.

SOARES: David McKenzie for us this hour in Odessa, thanks very much, David. Well, later on in this hour, we'll have a special report on

Ukrainian survivors, mostly women who have made it to the United Kingdom and are forging a new life here. They have joined a unique project with the

Royal Opera house to create a really moving tribute dedicated to their homeland and to those they've left behind. Have a look at this.


SOARES (voice-over): For members like Olga(ph) who was forced to flee from her hometown of Irpin after Russia's invasion, this is an opportunity to be

part of a new community in a new country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's huge Sabbath for me. It's huge here, Sabbath, feeling that I'm not alone.


SOARES: I'll bring you more of their beautiful music and their stories of course, of survival as well as resilience coming up in about 40 minutes

time. You do not want to miss that. Now global markets are reacting to this weekend's historic deal, Swiss banking giant UBS announcing that it will

take over its struggling competitor, Credit Suisse.

The price about $3.25 billion, that's about 60 percent less than what it was worth when markets closed on Friday. The initial response from stock

investors in European banks including UBS wasn't positive, but have rebounded from earlier losses. And somehow European markets really closed

the day, FTSE closing up, Xetra Dax in Frankfurt, 1 percent, similar picture if you're looking at Paris.

So all green arrows to start off the week. Anna Stewart joins me now. So, Anna, one big bank buying another big bank, the market seem happy --


SOARES: Is confidence back?

STEWART: Short-come marriage, and this came last night after a weekend of crisis talks about Credit Suisse. Now, some of the issues about Credit

Suisse were very much specific to this bank, It's been troubled for a couple of years. It was undergoing a restructure, but the pressure on the

banking sector, following this collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, means that those weak links start to buckle.

And this one has been buckling for a while. So an emergency rescue yesterday has the ground settled. has investor confidence being restored.

This morning, I would have said absolutely not, because UBS share price dived some 16 percent at one point on the news despite a lot of government

intervention to sweeten this deal.

And as you said, Credit Suisse has been bought here for $3.25 billion. It sounds like a lot, but that is a huge discount, and of course, those of the

shareholders means that they're not getting much return on that, and some bondholders found their bondholding is completely wiped out. The share

price has recovered for UBS, perhaps people are seeing a longer term good picture here.

Perhaps all the assurances from the ECB, from the Swiss regulators means that people will stop panicking about the banking sector at least in


SOARES: Perhaps, what about in the United States? Because I was looking at some banking shares for medium-sized banks, and they don't look too good.

What are we expecting, what can change that, that nervousness?

STEWART: So much of this, and I would say Credit Suisse is a great example of this. Isn't necessarily about the collapse of a bank, it's about the

collapse of confidence.

SOARES: Yes --

STEWART: And we've seen that now for a couple of weeks. And you're looking at First Republic shares today, trading down some 50 percent, it's been

halted multiple times through the day. This is despite having a huge lifeline of $30 billion dollars thrown at it by a whole group of banks.

This is despite the Federal Reserve saying we have a loan facility.

But there's so much concern about these banks and whether people's deposits are insured above a certain limit, and if there are any worries people are

pulling their money out.

SOARES: So what does the Fed need to say on Wednesday, Anna, very quickly?

STEWART: Well, so these interest rate decisions coming, lots of people would like to see them rolled back on the expected rate rise --

SOARES: Although --

STEWART: The ECB didn't last week.

SOARES: Yes, and we shall see because everyone will be listening closely to what the Fed says and what it does, and what it signals critically. Anna

Stewart, appreciate it, thank you very much. Now, law enforcement officials in New York are drawing up security plans for what could be an

unprecedented indictment.


Former U.S. President Donald Trump is telling supporters he will be arrested on Tuesday, but it's far from clear whether that will actually

happen. What we do know is that a Manhattan grand jury appears close to finishing an investigation into Trump's alleged role in a hush money

scheme. Trump's former attorney, Michael Cohen says he was asked to report to the district attorney's office today as a possible rebuttal witness.

CNN's Kara Scannell is live in Manhattan with all the details. So, Kara, just separate all the political noise from what we know is actually

happening in court today. What are we learning?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Right, so we know that Michael Cohen's former attorney, Bob Costello is inside that building behind me. He's testifying

before the grand jury. This was after Costello had reached out to both prosecutors and attorneys for Trump, saying that he had information that

would contradict what Michael Cohen, the government's star witness in this hush money investigation has been saying.

Of course, Cohen has pleaded guilty to federal charges several years ago, and set up a time that he made these payments at the direction of former

President Trump. So Costello is now appearing today, he has hundreds of pages of documents with him including e-mails, all to which Trump's

attorney say would show that Cohen told Costello at the time, that Donald Trump -- that he was unaware of Donald Trump committing any illegal


So, the jury, the grand jury will hear of testimony from Costello today. Also inside the building behind me is Michael Cohen, he is there as a

potential rebuttal wetness. We saw him come in just about an hour or so ago, and it's not clear if the prosecutors will call him before the grand

jury, but he is on standby in case they choose to.

You know, all of this coming as it appears that a decision is imminent in whether or not there will be request by the grand jury to indict the former

President, Donald Trump. We're seeing a lot of signs of security picking up around the courthouse.

Earlier this morning, they installed security cameras on some of the light posts in this vicinity, they're also putting up barricades all around the

perimeter of the courthouse as well as removing garbage cans, which is something that they do, it's just a potential protection against security

risk. So, we're seeing a lot of these things take shape, all appears that a decision is imminent. Isa?

SOARES: So -- and President Trump of course, said that he thinks he's going to be arrested tomorrow, and has called for protests over it. It

explains what -- really, the picture that you're painting in terms of security, et cetera. What are his chances, though, Kara, here, of him being

arrested? What are his attorneys saying?

SCANNELL: Well, his attorneys have not said anything out about this. And one of his spokespeople had kind of walked back, saying that Trump was just

reacting to the media reports, but didn't actually know or hear anything from the D.A.'s office about any potential timing. I think everyone is just

reading the tea leaves and trying to speculate as to what may happen given all of the activity, in particular, this activity today.

But it was really a bit of a wait-and-see game, of whether when a decision will be made and what that decision will be.

SOARES: Well, we shall wait and see as you advise. Thanks very much Kara Scannell, appreciate it. And still to come tonight, a no-confidence motion

was just nine votes away from bringing down the French government. What that means for President Emmanuel Macron's agenda. Plus, the climate time-

bomb is ticking.

A climate report from the U.N. warns the world to take drastic action now. Both those stories after this short break.



SOARES: Now, the future of the French government was hanging in the balance, but it can breathe a sigh of relief. It has just survived not one,

but two motions of no confidence in parliament. One of the motions was just nine votes shy of bringing down the government. And it all started over the

prime minister's decision to force a pension reform plan into law without having the lower house vote on it.

The reform is very unpopular, and protesters are gathering in central Paris right now. Our senior international correspondent Sam Kiley is in Paris.

And I can only imagine, Sam, they're not very happy about this?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, Isa, today is the fourth successive day of the spontaneous, in other words, non-union

organized demonstrations against the plans -- President Macron's plans for this pension reforms to raise the pensionable age from 62 to 64. But a lot

of the energy as you rightly point out, Isa, in the introduction, derives from this decision to use a part of the French constitution that allows the

French president essentially to ignore the legislature and impose effectively, impose legislation on the country.

Now, they've done it before, a hundred times indeed, it was last the hundredth time of its use since the fifth republic was painted to being --

that it was used on Thursday. But nonetheless, in the context of the widespread anger over these pension reforms, and much more widely over

President Macron's attempt to economic and therefore social reforms in this country.

Two-thirds of the population still very much against those reforms, the government of his party narrowly, only very narrowly survived the no-

confidence vote by nine votes. Now, any vote -- any survival is good news you might think. But now, of course, it concentrates the focus of political

dissent on these streets demonstrations.

There were demonstrations, there have been demonstrations right across France, not always very big, but they are getting regularly more angry,

perhaps not bigger, but they're certainly potentially getting more violent, the police are moving very far, outstanding, very substantial numbers here

in Paris to try to snuff them out as they pop up in different locations.

They began in La Place de la Concorde, moved over, I was on the Press de la deli(ph) yesterday, now they're in another location in Paris. And that is

an attempt by the disorganizers if you like, of these semi-spontaneous protests, a sign that they are trying to keep this political momentum,

echoes perhaps at this stage of the Ji Legian(ph) protest, which were those very sustained nationwide protests that was so very devastating really to

France in some ways in recent years. Isa?

SOARES: Yes, and we have seen, haven't we? For weeks now, industrial action agreeing the country to paralysis, Sam. In terms of -- what are the

unions saying? Are they going to continue taking action? Are they going to continue to protest, and to go on strike here?

KILEY: Very much so. So you're absolutely right. Once again, Isa, you've got the -- you've got the sort of spontaneous protest on the ground, which

are now being joined by some opposition politicians here on the Champs Elysees we're hearing and seeing indeed police convoys moving, that was

enforced as they try to snuff out these spontaneous demonstrations.

Then on top of that, we've got a very organized nationwide series of strikes that have been going on now, Isa, for some weeks. You've got 10,000

tons of garbage, it's piled up on the streets of the French capital for example because garbage collections have been stopped in many of the areas

of the city.


You've got nearly 40 percent of petroleum workers in some of the companies on strike. So the private sector is also joining, and they're focusing, the

unions are focusing their efforts on nationwide strikes coming up on Thursday, and we can expect very substantial demonstrations then. Those

will be the organized rather than the spontaneous street responses. Isa.

SOARES: Sam Kiley for us this hour in Paris, we'll stay on top of this story, of course, for you. Thanks very much, Sam, appreciate it. Well,

waves of tear gas and water cannon engulfed a motorcade carrying Kenya's opposition leader as his supporters took to the streets. Protesters faced

off against police in the center of Nairobi, as you can see there.

Angry about rising prices and what they claim was a stolen election. Officers fired tear gas and water to break up the crowds and arrested

several high-level opposition politicians. Opposition leader and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga called for the protests to spread nationwide

moments after police gassed his car and blocked him from a downtown hotel.

And still to come tonight, more on a possible looming indictment for former U.S. President Donald Trump. We'll speak to one of our senior legal analyst

just ahead. And then scientists say we're on thin ice when it comes to saving our planet. The dire warning from the new U.N. report on climate

change is next.


SOARES: Welcome back everyone. We return now to one of our top stories this week. We could see criminal charges filed against a former U.S.

President for the first time in history. A Manhattan grand jury is nearing the end of its investigation into Trump's alleged role in hush money

payments to a porn star. Trump himself is telling supporters he will be arrested on Tuesday in an apparent attempt to stir up protest.

Now, if he is indicted soon, it would mark a dramatic twist in his legal troubles that could complicate his run for the White House.

Let's get some important perspective now from CNN Legal Senior Legal Analyst Elie Honig. He's a former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern

District of New York. Elie, great to have you on the show. Just the best voice for you to talk us through what is happening, or most likely to

happen, or possibly could happen here. So we heard what Donald Trump's saying that possibly he could be arrested on Tuesday. But this would be,

you know, unprecedented, right? Former President being indicted. What are the challenges or the risks here, Elie, because he's also an active

candidate for the 2024 White House race.

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Right, Isa. So this would be the first time in our 230 plus year history, as a constitutional democracy,

that any President or former president was charged with any type of criminal offense, if it, in fact, comes to pass. Now, this will be an

extraordinarily sensitive moment legally and politically. Legally, the Manhattan D.A., which is a state level prosecutor here in New York, is

going to have to prove its case related to the payment of hush money beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury unanimously of 12 people. That's never easy to


And politically, there's some question about whether this will ultimately help Donald Trump by rallying support to his cause, or hurt him because

it's hard to run for president while you're under indictment. I should say, though, that the fact of an indictment does not prevent anyone from running

for or even becoming president. So, legally, it's not an obstacle. We'll see how the political elements play out.

SOARES: Indeed. And his attorney has been saying there will be mayhem if he's arrested. So is there any chance here, Elie, that there'll be

exceptions made to the arrest process? Because I saw that sources told our Don Lemon that New York authorities may try to get the former president

before a judge right away. I mean, have you seen that before for other defendants?

HONIG: So we've seen plenty of mayhem like scenes outside of courthouses. We've seen fracas is and protests and that kind of thing. Hopefully, this

doesn't get anywhere near violence or riots that we saw on January 6. You can question whether Donald Trump is trying to incite that he has sent some

texts or tweets out or truth socials out, seemingly encouraging people to protest, you do have a right to protest, but you do not have a right to

engage in violence. It does seem like, in some respects, Donald Trump, if he's arrested, will be handled like any other person who gets arrested. He

will have to get fingerprinted and mug shot, and he will have to go in front of a judge.

On the other hand, I do think that all the authorities, the police and prosecutors, will go out of their way, A, to get him into the building

safely and securely, probably through their -- all sorts of underground tunnels and garages here in Manhattan. And I used to work down near that

complex. And I think they'll try to get him in front of a judge very quickly, and then get him out of there as quickly as possible for the

safety and security of everybody.

SOARES: OK. Let's talk about the investigation then. How strong, Elie, is the investigation into hush money payment? Because from what I understand,

it's not the hush money itself that was illegal, but rather how it was documented. Is that right?

HONIG: That's exactly right. And this is not a straightforward case. This is not an easy case for prosecutors. It is not a crime to pay hush money.

It is not a crime to know about hush money payments. Under New York law, there's sort of two steps of the crime here. First of all, it's a crime to

falsify business records. And the allegation here, or the belief, is that these hush money payments were falsely booked within the Trump Organization

as legal fees.

But prosecutors have to prove that Donald Trump knew they were falsely logged that way. That's not necessarily going to be easy to do. If that's

proved, that's a misdemeanor, which is our lower level of crimes. The maximum there's one year but realistically, it's virtually certain that you

would not go to prison, nobody would go to prison on a nonviolent first- time misdemeanor.

However, if prosecutors can prove that those records were falsified in furtherance of some other crime, and here, that would be a campaign finance

violation if these payments were meant to pay off Stormy Daniels in order to protect Donald Trump's electoral prospects, then it gets bumped up to

the lowest level felony. It's what we call a Class E felony. We have class A through E here in New York, A being most severe, E being least severe.

The maximum penalty there is four years, but, again, there's a reasonable chance that somebody convicted of a first-time nonviolent Class E felony

would also get no jail time. But, again, the key is proving that Donald Trump knew exactly how those business records were falsified, not entirely

clear how prosecutors intend to establish that beyond a reasonable doubt.

SOARES: Elie Honig, I have a feeling that you and I will be talking much later this week, if not perhaps tomorrow. Thanks very much.

HONIG: Seems like a safe bet. Thanks.

SOARES: Appreciate it.

HONIG: All right.

SOARES: Thanks.

Now the climate time bomb is ticking and the world is running out of time to really avoid the catastrophe. That is according to a major U.N. report

on climate change, which shows the planet is approaching deadly levels of heating. The science is not new, but experts say this is the most dire

assessment yet on the impacts of climate change. Fossil fuels remain the biggest threat as countries like the U.S. and China make plans to ramp up

oil, gas, and coal production.


But the report also laid out steps for staving off climate change.

Our Chief Climate Correspondent Bill Weir joins me now from New York sir. So Bill, you know, the warnings are pretty, pretty dire, as we would

expect. Just talk us through what stood out to you.

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Well, they've just gotten more dire over the years. It's just -- it's the sixth such big sweeping report

like this in the last 40 years, the first one basically acknowledged that there is a greenhouse effect. This one says, unequivocally, humans are to

blame. Lifestyle choices, land use, and energy choices are -- will determine essentially the livability of this planet going forward long-

term. The big takeaways, it's happening at 1.1 degrees Celsius. Right now, there's still room to try to head off the 1.5 limit that was set at Paris.

But that time is short. In fact, at the current rate of high emissions, we could hit 1.5, between 2018 and 2039. On its -- and if you stay on that

trajectory, it takes you to 3.3 to 5.7 degrees, that's a road to certain hell all across the board. They must -- it's calling for rich countries,

especially, to scale up renewables much faster, three to six times faster than they are now. And to help the global south. Three and a half billion

people are, right now, at risk of climate effects, from water scarcity, droughts, to floods, and low-lying island states, that have to think about

ways to adapt and don't have the resources to do it.

But on the plus side, by investing in these developing countries, helping them protect the forests they have left, that's a big piece of this,

stopping deforestation, that could start to draw things down and change this trajectory. But, Isa, If you just look at the realities of what's

going on today, this report is now calling for drastic 40 percent reductions in fossil fuels. Humanity has only gone up. It hasn't figured

out a way to start going down at all.

And in the United States, there's a political fight over trying to stop investment advisors from telling -- considering the environment when

deciding which companies to invest in. So, we're so far from these companies, the big oil companies, losing their social license, which

ultimately has to happen.

SOARES: So the goalposts having -- they have to be shifted, right? But the reality is, will they be shifted in time and fast enough? You're talking

1.5. We're at, what, 1.1? How drastic in terms of changes do some of these countries, most developed countries, HERE have to step up?

WEIR: I mean it --

SOARES: And how realistic is it, Bill?

WEIR: Yes, I mean, if you just do the math on the pledges that are already made, that would only take humanity about seven percent below what we were

burning in 2019. So, the rate of consumption, even as renewables, solar wind has gotten really cheap, and is ramping up in a big way. The appetite

for cheap power just goes on unabated. And so bitcoin, it's a power that we didn't need 10 years ago. And that budget of how much we can burn is

quickly, quickly going away.

But there are no miracles needed in terms of innovations, in terms of inventions, all the tools are there. It's really just a matter of political

will. But these days, you know, that seems harder than ever to find, Isa, sadly.

SOARES: Indeed. The battle against climate change is winnable is what you're saying. But the action needs to be taking place on yesterday. Bill

Weir, appreciate it. Thanks very much.

WEIR: You bet.

SOARES: Still to come tonight, 20 years since the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Next, CNN's Ben Wedeman looks at how both countries are grappling with the

consequences of war.

And then later, Benjamin Netanyahu's government announces a change in his judicial overhaul plans that have triggered mass protests across Israel.

Those stories after this break.


SOARES: Well, today marks 20 years since the U.S. invaded Iraq, and the trauma of that first bombardment and the bloody years that followed has

long outlasted the war itself and left Iraq with an unstable, as well as corrupt democratic system.

CNN's Senior International Correspondent Ben Wedeman covered the story as it unfolded. Now he looks back on what has become a defining conflict of

the century.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It began with shock and awe. 20 years ago, the United States and its allies embarked on a war

in Iraq. Within weeks, Saddam Hussein's regime fell.


GEORGE W. BUSH, THEN-U.S. PRESIDENT: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended in the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have



WEDEMAN: They prevailed in the brief battle of Iraq, but the war in Iraq that followed was long and hard. The American road, paved with good

intentions, soon led to hell.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Son of a bitch. Well, welcome to freakin' Iraq. Huh? Get back in the vehicle.


WEDEMAN: U.S. never found Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, the original rationale for the war, and blunder after blunder poured fuel on a

fire of resentment. Every U.S. operation, like this one I covered in the summer of 2003, left behind a trail of bitterness. By midweek, U.S. troops

had detained nearly 400 men, none from their most wanted list. They also managed, however, to arouse a fair amount of resentment. "The Americans are

occupiers," says this man. "They have no manners or ethics. One of them grabbed a Quran and threw it to the ground."

The U.S. cobbled together a political order based on sectarian divisions, disbanded the Iraqi army and the ones ruling Ba'ath Party, throwing

hundreds of thousands out of a job and was mired in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, where Iraqis were tortured, humiliated and photographed. 11 U.S.

soldiers were convicted of crimes. Less than a year after the invasion, large parts of Iraq in chaos. Saddam Hussein was captured, tried, and

executed, but the insurgency went on. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian born leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, was killed, but the insurgency went on.

Two years after the invasion, sectarian tensions between the Shia majority and the once dominant Sunni Arab minority erupted into civil war and the

killing intensified. The violence only subsided after the U.S. surged more troops into Iraq in 2007.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are three checkpoints. We're here to support you.


WEDEMAN: In August 2010, the last U.S. combat troops left Iraq, leaving behind a brittle, corrupt, deeply flawed democratic regime, riven by

sectarian tensions, which provided fertile ground for the rampage of the Islamic State, or ISIS, spilling over from the war in Syria into Iraq. ISIS

seized control of the northern city of Mosul, and then captured city after city reaching the outskirts of Baghdad. It took more than three years of

bitter combat and foreign military assistance to defeat the group.


That enemy vanquished old discontents resurfaced. In 2019, Baghdad was gripped by massive protests against corruption, sectarianism, and poor

living conditions. But like protest movements across the region, it, too, was crushed. As the U.S. invasion and occupation fade into history,

neighboring Iran plays an ever greater role in the country's affairs. Old problems, corruption, a dysfunctional infrastructure and unemployment

remain unresolved. Yet despite it all today, Baghdad is more peaceful than it has been in years. Ben Wedeman, CNN.


SOARES: Now Israel's right-wing government is making its first concession in its controversial plan to weaken the courts, the government would have

less power to pick new judges, a key part of the plan, but it could still overturn Supreme Court decisions. Huge crowds have been protesting the

plan. They say it threatens Israel's democracy. And in a weekend call with Israel's Prime Minister, U.S. President Joe Biden stressed the importance

of checks and balances.

CNN's Hadas Gold is covering this from Jerusalem. So Hadas, just talk us through then the concessions that have been put forward and whether these

go far enough for the opponents of these reforms, including those, of course, who have been protesting for weeks now?

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Isa. I think the most notable of this is just that it is, one, some sort of softening of some kind. We had been

hearing from sources within the government that this could be happening, that essentially, they would negotiate within themselves instead of

negotiating with the opposition, and make changes to the reforms. Why would -- they wouldn't do this from the beginning, who knows.

But the stage that they made today is a small one. Essentially, they are -- and then instead of letting the government appointed members of the

committee, that select judges, have a vast majority on the committee, they would now only have a one-seat majority. So still a majority, but not as

big and that they would only be able to essentially appoint the first two High Court justices and the rest would be appointed by a supermajority of

that committee.

They also notably said that they wanted to, essentially, pause the rest of the legislation, because these reforms is a series of bills that make up

this overall reform. They're going to pause that legislation until after the Passover recess, until the end of April, opening the door once again,

they say, to negotiations. But quite quickly, the opposition rejected this. Yair Lapid, the former prime minister and opposition leader now, says this

is not a compromise. It is a hostile political takeover of the judicial system.

And leaders of the protest movement, these hundreds of thousands of Israelis who have been taking to the streets in Israel for more than two

months now, they were even stronger in their language, saying this is not a softening. They said this is a declaration of war. So, clearly, this is not

nearly enough, or it's even a starting point for the opposition. And interestingly, we're actually hearing from the White House, from John Kirby

in the White House, in an interview with Israeli media that was published today, saying that one of the main reasons for that phone call between

President Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was specifically about the judicial reforms, to discuss the judicial reforms, and concerns

about the judicial reforms.

So, you have to wonder whether this protest movement, whether the pressure from international allies, such as the Americans, is potentially having

some sort of effect on Benjamin Netanyahu and his government, Isa.

SOARES: Hadas Gold in Jerusalem. Thanks very much, Hadas.

And still to come right here tonight, Ukrainians who have found refuge from the war in London are raising their voices in the heartfelt of songs of

pain and hope. We'll hear from them next.



SOARES: Welcome back, everyone. Here in London, more than 130 Ukrainians have taken to the stage in one of the city's most famous venues, singing at

the Royal Opera House. The group performed to a packed audience in a concert dedicated to Ukraine and their loved ones back home. I've been

following their journey from the rehearsals to the big day.


SOARES: "Why my land," they sing, each word a haunting loss that fills the room with pain and longing. For this group of around 130 Ukrainians, mostly

amateur singers, this performance at the Royal Opera House in London is deeply personal. It has taken over two months of rehearsals and hours of

fine-tuning to get to this point. For members like Olga, who was forced to flee from her hometown of Irpin after Russia's invasion, this is an

opportunity to be part of a new community in a new country.


OLGA, UKRAINIAN REFUGEE: It's huge support for me. It's huge, huge support and feeling that I'm not alone. And that I united with people, with

different people, we are together.


SOARES: These songs now offering a connection to home and a reminder of the many lives lost. More than 360 Ukrainians applied to be part of this

project for whats originally supposed to be just 45 spaces.


JILLIAN BARKER, DIRECTOR OF LEARNING & PARTICIPATION, ROYAL OPERA HOUSE: I think it's that sort of sense of coming together as only music-making can

is bringing out a lot of emotion.


SOARES: Those selected to perform were from all age groups, but mostly women. Men, more likely to stay behind and fight on the front lines.

Natalia's husband is one of them. She tells me he's currently fighting in Bakhmut, one of Ukraine's fiercest battlegrounds. Words of love that leave

Natalia shaking, a longing to be home.


SOARES: And just so beautiful and so many of them told me they had lumps in their throat singing that. I can't imagine what that must be like singing,

of course, to your loved ones, singing to your partners, to your husbands, who are, of course, fighting in that war now entering its second year.

And finally tonight, the cast of the Apple TV series, Ted Lasso, visited the White House to spotlight an issue the show has tackled and that is also

high on President Joe Biden's agenda and that is mental health. As you see, Jason Sudeikis, Hannah Waddingham, and their co-stars even crashed the

press briefing last hour.


And Sudeikis brings us this thought of the day in his own words. Now listen to this.


JASON SUDEIKIS, ACTOR: Now, look, I know in this town, a lot of folks don't always agree, right? And don't always feel heard, seen, listened to, yes?

But I truly believe that we should all do our best to help take care of each other.


SOARES: I'll leave that one. Mr. Biden even decorated for today's event with a Believe poster above his office door just like the one, of course,

above Ted's in the locker room. Viewers have watched Ted deal with his own struggles and eventually open up to the idea of therapy. The President

hopes to chat with Sudeikis and his co stars can help more Americans really just do the same. The third season of the hit series is streaming on Apple

TV and it's produced by CNN's parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery. I love it. I laughed so much. Can't wait to watch this last season.

And that does it for us for this hour. Thank you so much for your company. Do stay right here. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is up next. I shall see you

tomorrow. Have a wonderful day. Bye-bye.