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New Day

Lewinsky Speaks about Clinton; Usree Bhattacharya is Interviewed about Masking; More Flooding Likely in Northeast; Plot Against Russian War Criminals. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired September 08, 2021 - 06:30   ET





MONICA LEWINSKY, PRODUCER, FX "IMPEACHMENT: AMERICAN CRIME STORY": I felt a lot in terms of there not being this resolution, and I'm -- I'm very grateful that I don't have that feeling anymore. I don't need it. He should want to apologize in the same way that I want to apologize any chance I get to people that I've hurt.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: That is Monica Lewinsky speaking out in a new interview ahead of today's premiere of a new series that dramatizes her affair with former President Bill Clinton. Lewinsky explaining that while she doesn't think Clinton owes it to her to personally apologize, that he should want to.

And we're back now with S.E. Cupp.

What did you think of her comments, S.E.?

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, Bri, I -- I know Monica and she is wonderful and impressive and very intentional. And I think she said a mouthful there, which was that Bill Clinton does not want to apologize. That is clear to anyone who has watched him over the years not apologize despite given many opportunities to do so and, in fact, be fairly defensive of what he had done.

And I think it's worth pointing out that Hillary Clinton, too, has defended her husband, in fact, not that long ago saying he could not have abused his power in that situation because she was a consenting adult. Of course, we all know that's not really how abuses of power work. But I think --

KEILAR: When you're president.

CUPP: When you're president. She's an intern. Yes. There is an imbalance there and he abused it.

So there -- there is a reticence for sure among the Clintons to apologize. And I'm so glad that Monica does not need one anymore, but I know she doesn't want one that he does not mean.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It is just so interesting to see the world move over the last 20 plus years on this to a different place. Up until not too long ago, this was referred to as the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

CUPP: Yes.

BERMAN: Which it's not.

CUPP: Right. Yes. And there has been such a reframing, an important reframing of what happened here. She was a victim in this story despite being an adult. It doesn't matter, she was a victim in this story. She was revictimized constantly by the Clintons, by that administration, by Democrats, by other feminists, like Gloria Steinem, who really defended Bill Clinton, by people who tried to discredit her, by the media. And I think she so wonderfully emerged, rightfully, as a pillar of strength and decency and class and integrity and a really important voice, not just against sexual harassment, but bullying and cyber bullying and really common decency. And so I'm so grateful for her and that she has rewritten her own life story because it desperately needed to be rewritten.

BERMAN: It's taken a long time.

CUPP: Yes.

KEILAR: It's real -- and it's as you said, it's really a wonder. And she's spoken about how difficult those times were, just to withstand that attention and the media, as you said. The media really needs to think about its role years ago and you'd hope that if something like this happened again there would be a different treatment of this for sure.

CUPP: Yes.

KEILAR: S.E., thank you so much.

CUPP: Yes.

KEILAR: More than 90,000 -- 90,000 college football fans set to pack the Georgia Bulldogs stadium this weekend. We're going to talk to a professor who is begging fans to mask up.

BERMAN: Plus, a new example of unruly behavior in the skies. What this man had to say about, well, among other things -- oh my God, President Biden.

KEILAR: What? What is he doing?



KEILAR: Despite the coronavirus pandemic. college football looked like college football this past weekend with huge crowds packing stadiums across the country. And this weekend, you have the number two ranked Georgia Bulldogs playing their first home game at a stadium that holds more than 92,000 fans and where there are no COVID mandates in place. This is coming as the state grapples with a record increase in hospitalizations.

And joining us now to talk about this is Usree Bhattacharya, who is an associate professor at the University of Georgia.

Professor, thank you so much for being with us to talk about this because your personal situation speaks to the stakes of what some might say is just a fun football game. You have an immunocompromised five-year-old daughter. So when you see this upcoming game, this many people getting together, no mandates, what do you think?

USREE BHATTACHARYA, UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA PROFESSOR WITH IMMUNOCOMPROMISED CHILD: So it's very frightening. First of all, thank you for having me. It's a terror we've been feeling over the summer knowing that we're going back into classrooms with no mask or vaccine mandates, no social distancing requirements.


These are recommendations that are handed down from the CDC, which is just down the road from us. And the numbers are rising exponentially in our community. The delta variant is ravaging our community. And my five-year-old daughter, Colica (ph), has a rare neuro developmental disorder called Rett syndrome. It's super rare. She has seizures, limited mobility, and respiratory issues, feeding difficulty and a whole host of other things. And I've -- she's not immunocompromised but she's particularly vulnerable because she has respiratory issues are one of the leading causes of death in Rett syndrome. So every time I'm walking into a classroom or encountering somebody, you know, walking right beside me or entering an elevator not wearing a mask, that's my daughter's life on the line.

So, she -- my daughter goes to school. She just started school after 14 months at home. And she's able to wear a mask at the age of five for many hours a day. And UGA students are allowed -- you know, are asked to dawn a mask for very short periods of time for one class indoors. And I don't understand why little kids are being asked to take on responsibilities that adults are not in our community.

And I'm so glad you're shedding light on this issue. And, yes, the football season descending upon us is a cause for a great deal of terror.

KEILAR: Yes. Have you talked to the board of regents? Because they are in charge of these policy decisions when it comes to masking and vaccinations. Have you told them, hey, you know my five-year-old could die. She can't afford to inflame her respiratory system anymore?

BHATTACHARYA: Absolute -- well, you know, I've -- I've written two columns for "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution." I have been part of activism on campus. And I have screamed from as many rooftops as I can find. The decision not to implement a mask mandate or vaccine mandate is not a UGA one, as you point out, it is a board of regents issue. And I think it is high time that they do the right thing. This is not a time for politics. It is not a time for ideology. It is time for compassion. It's time for community solidarity. And we live -- in our family, my husband is also a faculty member at UGA. We -- this is our institution. This is our community. We are committed to it.

But we live hostage to a disease every single day called Rett syndrome. We cannot be hostage to yet another, which is easily preventable. All it takes is a few inches of face covering to do the right thing. And that's all that stands between my daughter and COVID- 19 right now. And, as I said, I really hope the board does the right thing.

KEILAR: Usree you are afraid, and it makes sense why. And there are fans that are going to be participating at this game. What is your -- what's your message to them?

BHATTACHARYA: Do the right thing. Think about your community. Think about your university. Think about the students, the faculty, the staff. Everybody who's vulnerable walking into that beloved campus of ours, the oldest public institution in the country, we have to protect it.

This is not a time for politics. This is a time for compassion. This is a time for ethical community building and thinking about our neighbors, our community members, our students. Everybody else that makes Athens, Georgia, and the University of Georgia and the USG system one of the most incredible institutions in the country to work in, to study in and this city, this wonderful, wonderful city of a magical place to live in. But we need to change things right now. The time is now. The board of regents has to take notice and do the right thing.

KEILAR: Yes. It's a special place. It's a special community. And folks there need to do right by each other.

Professor, thank you so much for being with us.

BHATTACHARYA: You're very welcome. Thank you for shedding light on this.

KEILAR: Of course.

Coming up, we have an exclusive, some new details about who was behind what's been a -- seen as a dramatic raid here -- just check it out -- on a group of alleged Russian mercenaries.

BERMAN: Plus, is Brazil's president encouraging a January 6th style insurrection in his country? And why was Donald Trump's former senior adviser just visiting with him?



KEILAR: All right, so we have some more severe weather that is headed towards the Northeast. Let's get to Chad Myers on this.

Chad, this is exactly the last thing that this area needs. This is awful.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Right. Wind and rain. These trees in the Northeast are sitting in mud. You get a 40 miles per hour wind with these thunderstorms and some of those trees are going to come down today. Power lines likely down by morning.

This weather is brought to you by Carvana, the new way to buy a car.

So let's get it to. The winds went through Chicago, went through Detroit and now they're into upstate New York and all the way down towards the Poconos. That's the area there with the likely wind damage.

Move you ahead. Some of the radar should look like around 8:00 tonight, starting to move into the Catskills, into the Poconos. But then, by midnight, that's when things really fire up for the areas that were so hard hit. It's not going to take a lot of rainfall to make more flash flooding. Probably not like we had with the last system. But what I'm really concerned about are the winds that are going to bring down trees, going to bring down power lines. And by morning you may not have any power.

Boston, you get into it by tomorrow morning as well. Flash flood watches are posted and we will likely keep those posted for much of the day today and move them into New England as well.


KEILAR: All right, we know everyone in the Northeast will be watching that after that flooding last week.

Chad, thank you so much.

MYERS: You're welcome.

KEILAR: Coming up, a brand-new interview with former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.


What he says about the political fate of Governor Gavin Newsom.

BERMAN: Plus, the exclusive story behind this dramatic raid on a group of alleged Russian mercenaries. New details about which countries were allegedly involved and why.



BERMAN: So in July last year, security forces in Belarus arrested 33 suspected Russian mercenaries, accusing the Kremlin of sending them to inflame anti-government tensions in the country ahead of presidential elections. The men were paraded on Belorussian state television before being deported back to Russian.

But CNN can now reveal stunning details of what former Ukrainian intelligence officials say was actually not a failed attempt by Moscow to mettle in the elections in Belarus at all but a foiled Ukrainian- led operation to capture and jail Russian mercenaries linked to war crimes. I promise you, this is a bonkers story with all kinds of twists and turns.

And senior international correspondent Matthew Chance has our exclusive report.


Well, we hear so much about Russian covert operations. Well, this was one that was actually conducted against them, a sting operation that went dramatically wrong. A failed attempt to identify and capture suspected Russian war criminals, carried out by Ukraine, but apparently with the full knowledge of the United States.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking in foreign language).

CHANCE (voice over): The dramatic raid in a Minsk hotel was all over state TV. Belorussian special forces shown arresting this group of alleged Russian mercenaries, experienced fighters is how they were described, suspected of being sent by Moscow to disrupt elections in the countries last year.

We got confirmed intel these Russians had real combat experience and actually took part in armed conflicts, this heavily disguised Byelorussian police commander warned at the time.

But what he didn't know is why this mysterious group of Russians was really there. Few did until now.

CHANCE (on camera): All right, well, we're now driving to an undisclosed location on the outskirts of Kiev, the Ukrainian capital. But we're set to meet a group of former Ukrainian and military intelligence officials who have an extraordinary story about what actually went down in Belarus. And about how those Russian mercenaries were, in fact, part of an elaborate Ukrainian-led sting operation to capture suspected Russian war criminals to bring them to justice here.

CHANCE (voice over): The former high-ranking officers spoke to CNN on condition we shield their identities. They're not authorized to disclose details of what they say was an ambitious top-secret plan backed by the United States that failed at the last moment when Belarus intervened.

CHANCE (on camera): When you saw all those people, those Russian mercenaries, being arrested in Belarus, that was a nightmare for you. What did you think? SOURCE A, FORMER UKRAINIAN INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: The feeling I got was

very bad because it meant all our hard work had gone down the drain. We carefully prepared for more than a year in the hope that justice would prevail and that these bandits would be in prison and punished. Unfortunately, this didn't happen.

CHANCE (voice over): When he says bandits, he means Russian-backed fighters battling Ukrainian government forces in the country's break- away east (ph). Among them are Russian nationalist accused of involvement in some of the worst atrocities of the war.

Like the downing in 2014 of a Malaysian airliner, MH-17, with nearly 300 people on board.

Our intelligence sources say the men detailed in Belarus had been identified over many months as having suspected links to war crimes.

SOURCE B, FORMER UKRAINIAN INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: There were two who were present when the missile that downed MH-17 was launched. Four others were members of a group responsible for shooting down our military aircraft and killing at least 70 of our best men. So identifying and punishing these people was of high interest to us.

CHANCE: It was apparently of interest to U.S. intelligence, too. Although U.S. officials deny having any direct role.

According to our sources, the Ukrainian-led operation got some U.S. cash, technical assistance and advice from the CIA on drawing Russian mercenaries in. A senior U.S. officials told CNN those allegations are false.

But identifying the right people and then luring them out of Russia required an elaborate deception. So our former Ukrainian military intelligence sources told us they set about creating a fake private military company with its own Russian language website.


On it, they advertise jobs, like one lucrative contract, $5,000 a month, to protect oil facilities in Venezuela.