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Crowds Gather Near Queen's Casket In London To Pay Respects; McConnell Pours Cold Water On Graham's Proposed Abortion Ban; Leaky Pen Frustrates King Charles: "This Bloody Thing!" Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired September 14, 2022 - 07:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Thousands of mourners waiting there outside of Buckingham Palace. Some have actually camped out overnight and they are hoping to catch a glimpse of the queen's hearse when here in about two hours it leaves Buckingham Palace for Westminster Hall.

At 2:22 pm local time, the hearse leaves the palace for a 38-minute procession down The Mall. It goes past the prime minister's residence at 10 Downing Street, past Parliament Square, to arrive there at Westminster Hall.

The king, his siblings, and Princes William and Harry will walk behind the queen's casket. The queen consort, along with the Princess of Wales and other female members of the royal family follow by car.

And after a short service at Westminster, the queen's casket will then lie in state for the next five days until the state funeral on September 19.

I want to bring in playwright and former deputy chair of the British Museum, Bonnie Greer, and royal biographer, Mark Saunders to discuss today's events.

Bonnie, described to us what we can expect to see today.

BONNIE GREER, PLAYWRIGHT, FORMER DEPUTY CHAIR, BRITISH MUSEUM: Well, I can't do that very well because I don't know the schedule. But I can tell you what's behind me, and what's behind me is The Mall leading down to the palace. And these are the people who are standing there, frankly, waiting for a glimpse of the -- of the cavalcade, I think, that's coming by that will include the royal family.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And Bonnie, do you have a sense from being in London for so long the people who have been gathered there waiting overnight -- how much of it is to pay the respects, to mourn the loss? How much of it is to be part of what is a national event? This is a national event -- to be part of this day, and how much of it may be support for the royal project going forward?

GREER: John, that's a brilliant question and I actually haven't heard anybody ask me that. This is largely a royalist crowd to use a big term. These are people who support the monarchy. These are the monarchists. And so, what the world is seeing is a slice of British culture at this point in time.

There is enormous controversy going on here. The country is not that united. So what we're seeing is a kind of bloc of the British public. It's a beautiful bloc, it's a strong bloc. But these are the people who are here for the weddings, for the funerals, for whatever, so this is a very particular slice of the British public.

KEILAR: Mark, I don't think we can overstate how much planning it takes to pull something like this off, right?

MARK SAUNDERS, ROYAL BIOGRAPHER, AUTHOR, "DIANA AND THE PAPARAZZI": Well, that's very true -- but remember, they have had preparation for a considerably long time.

I'm not so sure I agree with Bonnie about the country being divided. I come from the south of England, which is pretty much a monarchy loyalist heartland.

GREER: That's the good of the country, though, in a way.

SAUNDERS: Yes, you could say that. But what we are seeing here is -- it's not just a tribute to Her Majesty's reign, it's the British people coming together in a time when times are not particularly good. And I think what is unique about this -- and I don't know how Bonnie will feel -- but the queen died in Scotland. Her final gift, if you like, to the country was to unite the kingdom.

GREER: I think I would say that is true. And I didn't mean to overstate what I said because you are absolutely right.

In Scotland, for instance, she was known as not Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain, she was known as Queen Elizabeth -- Elizabeth, Queen of Scots. So, in Scotland, the king is now Charles, King of Scots. The Prince of Wales is not the Prince of Wales in Scotland. He is Lord of the Isles.

So, what I mean by that is that it's important for the world to know this is a very diverse country. It's a very complex country. Yes, people are coming together. Yes, they are united around the death of this great woman and a great public servant as well. But underneath, there are and always have been Welshans. Scotland wants to declare independence. So it's going to be an interesting reign for Charles III.


Can I also add something that's interesting? The lying in, or what we call in America, the wake, will be in Westminster Hall. A very old hall -- the largest for some time in Europe. But also, where Charles I had his trial for treason. So that's going to be a very interesting juxtaposition.

BERMAN: Look, it's the most -- it's the most historic room you could possibly have something like that take place in, right, Westminster Hall --

GREER: Absolutely.

BERMAN: -- to be sure.

Mark, this procession today as the thousands of people who are there to watch this -- glimpse it. Yes, they will be seeing King Charles. Yes, they will be seeing the princes and the children of Queen Elizabeth. That's what they'll be literally looking at.

But what do you think they're there to see? What do you think they will be assessing as they watch this?

SAUNDERS: They are here to say goodbye to the queen. It's their -- it's the final view we will ever have of Her Majesty.

King Charles -- and I'm finding it hard to say King Charles. I keep --

GREER: It's hard.

SAUNDERS: I keep getting it wrong. King Charles and the senior members of the royal family -- we will see a lot of them. They are the future of the monarchy in this country, so we will see a great deal of them.

And another thing which -- I don't know if you noticed, Bonnie, but the minor royals have really come to the fore over these last few days. Sophie Wessex and her daughter Lady Louise, and astonishingly, Camilla. Because I never thought the queen consort would capture the affection of the British public but she really has.

So, I wouldn't say there's been a radical change but there's been a definite change of perception of the monarchy now, which is what usually happens when you get a new monarch. But, so far, so good.

GREER: I think -- I think it's down to the late queen. She got that right. She roped in Charles pretty soon after he married Camilla. They got in and Charles very wisely brought his eldest son into the firm. And so, this -- absolutely right. This is the first time this is going to be working and quite a few younger royals as well. They have big families now so it's going to be really a lot of them kicking in.

And Sophie Wessex was one of her favorite daughters -- she loved all her daughters-in-law. She adored Sophie Wessex.

BERMAN: Well, this will be a sight to see today and the pictures are already remarkable.

GREER: Absolutely.

BERMAN: Bonnie Greer and Mark Saunders, we thank both of you for being with us.

SAUNDERS: Thank you.

GREER: Thank you for having us.

BERMAN: So, we've been looking at the thousands of people lining the streets to watch the procession, and we've been talking to people who are waiting in line already to walk past the queen's casket as she lies in state. Much more ahead here on CNN.

KEILAR: And next, the Senate's top Republican throwing some cold water on Sen. Lindsey Graham's plan for a 15-week abortion ban. Plus, a scary incident on a college campus overnight -- a package exploding. And along with it, a disturbing note was inside.



BERMAN: All right, five things to know for your new day.

Thousands of admirers and mourners lining the streets of London to say goodbye to Queen Elizabeth II. Her casket will be taken from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall where she will lie in state for the next 4 1/2 days.

KEILAR: A package sent to Northeastern University in Boston exploded when opened by a university staffer. Sources say it contained a rambling note criticizing Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. A second package was rendered safe by the bomb squad. The staffer was not seriously injured.

BERMAN: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy making a surprise visit to newly-liberated territory near Kharkiv. Zelenskyy expressed his gratitude to the military as he visited the city of Izium, just taken back from the Russians. He says Ukraine has now recaptured more than 3,000 square miles of territory from Russia just this month.

KEILAR: The looming rail strike posing a critical threat to the U.S. economy. Union and railroad officials will speak with Labor Sec. Marty Walsh in Washington, D.C. today ahead of a Friday contract deadline, as the White House discusses plans to avert a potential disaster.

BERMAN: Police body camera video shows police officers forming a human chain to save a family from being swept away by flash floodwaters in California. The mother and her two children -- they were not hurt. All three San Bernardino officers were rookies with less than a year on the job, who had never trained for a swift water rescue.

KEILAR: Amazing work. Good job, guys.

And that is five things to know for your new day. More on these stories all day on CNN and And don't forget to download the "5 Things" podcast every morning. Just go to And you can also find it wherever you get your podcasts.

BERMAN: The Senate's top Republican, Mitch McConnell, shooting down Sen. Lindsey Graham's bill that would ban abortions nationwide after 15 weeks of pregnancy. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): In terms of scheduling, I think most of the members of my conference prefer that this be dealt with at the state level.


BERMAN: So, as McConnell said there, this bill runs counter to the views or the statements made by many Republicans who have said publicly that the issue of abortion should be left up to the states, including Graham himself.


This is what the South Carolina senator said in August and what he said yesterday.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I've been consistent. I think states should decide the issue of marriage and states should decide the issue of abortion. I have respect for South Carolina. South Carolina voters here, I trust to define marriage and to deal with the issue of abortion.

And I think we should have a law at the federal level that would say after 15 weeks, no abortion on demand, except in cases of rape, incest, to save the life of the mother. And that should be where America's at.


BERMAN: All right. Joining me now, CNN political commentator Margaret Hoover, CNN senior political analyst John Avlon, and CNN political commentator and former White House communications director, Alyssa Farah Griffin.

Before we talk about the potential political impact of what Lindsey Graham is doing here I want someone to take a stab at maybe what's driving him to do this, Margaret, and you volunteered for that.


The rule in almost all things in life is when you're in a hole, stop digging, OK? Republicans are in a hole on the issue of choice on Dobbs and on the overturning of Roe v. Wade. This is not going well. What we can see from all of the polling and from all of the voter registration, especially with women, in key states in this election is that the gains that Democrats have made has blunted -- severely blunted, potentially, the advantage Republicans had historically going into this election, all right?

So, what Mitch McConnell needs Lindsey Graham to stop doing is talking about abortion. And what Lindsey Graham is trying to do is talking about the very specific slice of the issue that Republicans win on, which is when you talk about late-term abortion. And Republicans are losing because the entire debate is now about the fact that women have lost a right that they had for 50 years because of a conservative court.

BERMAN: It's interesting.


BERMAN: Sorry, go ahead.

GRIFFIN: No, no, no. I'll say the timing also, as a Republican, was frustrating because yesterday these terrible inflation numbers come out.

That's what Republicans need to be running on ahead of the midterms -- is to say the economy is still struggling. The Inflation Reduction Act hasn't done enough yet to drive down inflationary costs. But instead, Lindsey Graham consumes the whole news cycle by basically going rogue against what's been Republican orthodoxy, which is this should be determined by states.


GRIFFIN: He's now saying oh, let's make this a federal issue. Let's take it up. McConnell is smart not to bring it up. That will just absolutely cripple Republicans.

HOOVER: Plus, it's not even a real bill to be clear.


HOOVER: Like, if you really want to pass a bill, you get Mitch McConnell on your side first. You don't surprise him with a press conference with all of the activist groups and special interests on the far right.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I mean, the question is why Lindsey Graham is walking across the street to punch himself in the face. And --

HOOVER: Poor Lindsey.

AVLON: Well, that's precisely what he's doing --

HOOVER: That was a little tough (ph).

AVLON: -- to the Republican Party right here. You know, he's hanging a lantern on the fact that there is complete hypocrisy on the issue of state's rights. This is the opposite of state's rights.


AVLON: This is the entire argument that the Republicans have been making for a long time. This shouldn't be decided by the courts. It should be decided by state-to-state. The position we just saw --

HOOVER: Well --

AVLON: -- Lindsey Graham himself made in August, and now he's reversing it.

And yes, there are exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother, which a lot of these state provisions don't do. But if this is an attempt to excite the base, I think they're already pretty fired up. But it hangs a lantern on their problem and that doesn't help in this case.

BERMAN: You were going to say?

HOOVER: I mean, I just -- conservatives are for the states determining it unless, of course, Congress were to pass a federal bill. What they were never for was for the court determining it on behalf of --

AVLON: I know, but it's a function of the same thing. It undercuts the argument.

BERMAN: Again, I just want to note my first question was why Lindsey Graham is doing this, and I'm still not satisfied that there's a clear answer.

GRIFFIN: Well --


GRIFFIN: Oh, no -- go ahead, Margaret.

HOOVER: I mean, look, what we know about this issue, which is a very difficult issue, is that actually, the country is mostly united, right? Most people don't want late-term abortions. Most people also want restrictions around the early stages -- restrictions, but protections, frankly, around the ability for women to have an abortion in the first trimester and early term. We are all mostly agreed about that.

But the Republican Party has staked out an extreme position --


HOOVER: -- and they're losing on it. So if they talk about the part that everybody agrees with, perhaps Lindsey thinks this will help change the issue --

GRIFFIN: He's --

HOOVER: -- and change the conversation around Republicans losing on the issue.

GRIFFIN: My best interpretation of what Lindsey Graham is doing is he's kind of pulling back a relic from the era when Roe was still the law of the land, which Republicans -- my party regularly voted on what we call the Pain-Capable Abortion bill, which would bar abortions -- it was actually after 20 weeks in my recollection of it.


GRIFFIN: Because there's science that shows that a baby in the womb could feel pain. That's an 80 percent position. Most people believe in some access, but some restrictions on abortion.

However, now that after the Dobbs decision, Republicans' position was this should be determined by the states. So then, to come in and introduce this federal rule -- you know, law -- potential law around abortion is just negating the entire argument we've been making.

BERMAN: One of the things that was said by some Republicans was no, no, no -- there won't be a national abortion ban. And what's Lindsey Graham saying?


AVLON: There's going to be a national abortion ban.

HOOVER: No. He's saying we're going to pass it.

AVLON: But as -- which is functionally saying the same thing.

Look, as with most things, there is a centrist solution that could unite the vast majority of the American people, but the extremes keep hijacking the argument.

HOOVER: Oh, thanks, John Avlon.

AVLON: You're welcome.

GRIFFIN: And by the way, where is Lindsey Graham on abortion? Because now, Chuck Schumer -- sorry, not abortion, but codifying marriage equality because Chuck Schumer has not committed to bringing that up. Many Republicans who don't want to federally have said it's a state issue, so that could come into conflict.

BERMAN: And just, if you're a Democrat right now planning on what to do with this, what's your next step?

AVLON: Put a bow on it.

HOOVER: Just keep letting them talk about it.


HOOVER: Just keep let them going. Just keep giving them all the rope they need to hang themselves.

AVLON: He gave you a gift.

HOOVER: It was a gift.

GRIFFIN: It was -- unfortunately, it was -- it was a gift to Democrats. I think that the Republicans need to just be focusing on the economy.

And it took the wind out of the sails of what was, frankly, not a great event for Biden at the White House yesterday. It was this weird -- like, why did we have James Taylor there to, like, celebrate? The economy is not doing very well. Continuing to go forward with the event after having these bad inflation numbers. That's where the party should be.

Unfortunately, we're running on election denialism and restricting access to abortion.

AVLON: I tend to say there's never a bad time to hear "Fire and Rain," but that's seemed a little --

GRIFFIN: That's fair.

AVLON: But no, I -- look, obviously, Republicans want to be talking about inflation and crime and so, Lindsey Graham does them no help. But also, Republican primary voters aren't actually helping their case either, as we saw last night.

BERMAN: OK, let's talk about that. Let's talk about what happened in New Hampshire.

Now, we should note that they are still counting votes in New Hampshire but that one candidate in the Republican Senate primary has conceded -- the State Senate president Chuck Morse, who was backed by the establishment, including the governor, Chris Sununu, and backed by establishment Republican money -- a lot of it --

AVLON: A lot of it.

BERMAN: -- conceded to Don Bolduc, a retired Brigadier general who is seen as very Trumpy for lack of a better word there.

So, what does this tell us, Alyssa?

GRIFFIN: Well, it just shows the overwhelming MAGA control over the party.

Now, let's take a step back. Chris Sununu would have been the best recruit --


GRIFFIN: -- to beat Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire, but he didn't want to run. Why would a very popular governor who could stay in his seat forever, basically, want to run for the Senate in this environment? So now we've got somebody who almost guarantees an uphill battle for Republicans to flip that seat.

Also, New Hampshire-1, Karoline Leavitt, who worked for me. I was a Mowers back in this. In this race, he did not deny the election. He's somebody who would have been a stronger general election candidate against Chris Pappas. This further right candidate, Karoline, who I wish all the best to, is going to have now an uphill battle in a seat that Republicans could have flipped.

AVLON: I mean, I think it does folks almost a disservice to say they're Trumpy. I mean, let's talk about what that means. That means election denial is a litmus test. That means in the case of this -- the new candidate who worked for you that -- you know, she thinks that Joe Biden should be impeached is reflexively (ph). That's a new standard.

In the case of this retired general, he's saying -- calling the incredibly popular Chris Sununu, the governor of the state, a communist sympathizer.

I mean, we're talking -- we're talking detached from reality, as well as the vast majority of voters in New Hampshire where registered -- where plurality voters are registered Independents.

BERMAN: And there was a good turnout there so a lot of it depends.


BERMAN: It may have very well shown up to vote.

I do want to pose one question here because one thing -- the media, I think, has criticized a great deal what Democrats have done in a lot of these races, which is put money in their behind to try to boost --


BERMAN: -- the election denier candidates, right?

And if we can put back on the screen the margins right now in that Senate race, you can see that Don Bolduc is only winning by a very little bit there. So you might think that whatever Democratic money was put into that race may have been decisive there.

The Democrats are getting what they want. They may be criticized -- I'm not -- I'm not putting a value judgment on it. There's been a lot of talk about whether it's the right or wrong thing to do. All I'm saying is they're getting what they want here up and down the board.

HOOVER: They're -- they'll -- well, that story -- that chapter is not finished because at the end of the chapter -- the end of the book is in November.


HOOVER: They have to win

BERMAN: Right.

HOOVER: -- against those election-denying primary candidates. Then that's the end of the story.

If this isn't an advertisement for moderate Republicans to really reflect on how to reform the primary system so that they can get competitive candidates that can win nationally, I don't know what is. AVLON: Yes.

HOOVER: I will say I've been saying this for six years and the --

AVLON: How's that going for you?

HOOVER: It's not -- it's not going that well. It's weirdly bringing me closer to John Avlon's centrist position.

But truly -- I mean, there is -- there is a real opportunity to look. I mean, look at ranked-choice voting. We've got to keep our eye on that --

BERMAN: Right.

HOOVER: -- in Alaska as that's coming up.

BERMAN: Right.

HOOVER: Maybe that keeps somebody like Sarah Palin from taking that seat back.

AVLON: Well, we're getting (INAUDIBLE).

HOOVER: And then there's a -- then there will be a playbook.

BERMAN: We're getting a royal hook here, guys. I thank you one and all. I do support anything that brings you two closer together very much.

AVLON: All right.


BERMAN: All right. Just a short time from now, we are going to see the royal family escort the queen's casket from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall. CNN's special live coverage, next.


KEILAR: And finally, with the eyes of the world on Britain's new king, Charles was seen venting his frustration at a leaky pen during a signing ceremony in Northern Ireland on Tuesday. Here it is.


KING CHARLES III: I just have to put -- is it September the 12th?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thirteenth, sir.

KING CHARLES III: Oh, God -- I've put the wrong date down. Thirteenth?


QUEEN CONSORT: You signed the 12th earlier. PRINCE CHARLES III: (INAUDIBLE). Oh God, I hate this pen.

QUEEN CONSORT: Oh, look, it's going everywhere. Hang on.

KING CHARLES III: I can't bear this bloody thing! It's what they do every stinking time.