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Biden Says, Putin Miscalculated by Invading Ukraine But is Rational; CNN's Tapper Tells Story of Teen Convicted of Attempted Murder; Walker Again Denies Paying for Abortion, Says Woman is Lying. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired October 12, 2022 - 07:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Do you think Putin is a rational actor?

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I think he is a rational actor who has miscalculated significantly.

TAPPER: So if he's not rational and --

BIDEN: No, I didn't say he's not rational.

TAPPER: You said the speech is --

BIDEN: I think the speech, his objectives were not rational. Jake, I think he thought he was going to be welcomed with open arms, that this has been the home of Mother Russia in Kyiv and he was going to be welcomed. And I think he just totally miscalculated.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to speak with Jake here in just a moment about his exclusive interview with President Biden.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: With under four weeks until the midterm elections, a brand new CNN poll shows that President Biden's approval rating is improving. 44 percent of people say they approve now of the way he is handling his job as president. 56 percent disapprove. This is up from a low of 38 percent this summer.

Now, it's higher than Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, higher than their ratings at their stage of their presidencies, but below Barack Obama and others. The poll shows major economic warning signs, just 22 percent rate economic conditions of the country as good with 41 percent calling conditions somewhat poor, 37 percent saying they are very poor.

And Biden's ratings for dealing with economic issues are lower than his approval rating overall, though, I should note, improving. Just 32 percent of the public approve of his handling of inflation. That's up from 25 percent this summer. 36 percent of his handling of the economy as a whole, that is up from 30 percent this summer. Half of Americans say Biden's policies have served to worsen economic conditions, 26 percent that his policies have improved economic conditions. That's a slight improvement from a CNN poll in April and May.

Finally, a majority of Americans also take a dim view of efforts made by congress to deal with the country's biggest issues. 62 percent say lawmakers have done nothing to effectively address the problems facing the country.

KEILAR: And we have more now on Jake's exclusive interview with President Biden. He sat down to answer questions on Russia's nuclear threats, fears of an American recession and a possible run for office in 2024, as well as more.


BIDEN: When I'm talking about -- I'm talking to Putin. He, in fact, cannot continue with impunity to talk about the use of a tactical nuclear weapon as if that's a rational thing to do. The mistakes get made, and the miscalculation could occur. No one could be sure what would happen and it could end in Armageddon.

I think he is a rational actor who has miscalculated significantly. I think he thought he was going to be welcomed with open arms, that this has been the home of Mother Russia in Kyiv and he was going to be welcomed. And I think he totally miscalculated.

Look, I have no intention of meeting with him. But, for example, if he came to me at the G20 and said, I want to talk about the release of Griner, I would meet with him. I mean, it would depend.

Let's get straight why I went. I didn't go about oil. I went about making sure that we made sure that we weren't going to walk away from the Middle East on what was going on.

When the House and Senate gets back, there's going to be some consequences for what they've done with Russia.

There's no guarantee that they're going to be -- I don't think there will be a recession. If there is, it'll be a slight recession. That is we'll move down slightly.

TAPPER: But you just said that a slight recession is possible.

BIDEN: It is possible. Look, it's possible. I don't anticipate it.

I'm proud of my son. He got hooked on -- like many families have had happen, hooked on drugs. He's overcome that. He's established a new life. It turns out that when he made application to purchase a gun, what happened was he -- I guess you -- I don't guess, you get asked the question are you on drugs, you used drugs, he said, no. And he wrote about saying no in his book.

So, I have great confidence in my son. I love him and he's on the straight and narrow and he has been for a couple years now. And I'm just so proud of him. Well, look, I'm not going to make this about my decision. I'm going to make this about this off-year election. After that's done in November, then I'm going to be in the process of deciding.

TAPPER: Is one of the calculations that you think you're the only one who can beat Donald Trump?

BIDEN: I believe I can beat Donald Trump again.


BERMAN: With us now is half of that interview, Anchor of CNN Tonight with Jake Tapper, Jake Tapper. It is great to see you here. Congratulations on the debut show. It was wonderful and fascinating to watch.

TAPPER: Thanks.

BERMAN: You discussed Putin's rationality with President Biden. It was an interesting line of questioning. Why do you think that's so important and what did you make of how Biden really seemed to push back on parts of that?

TAPPER: Well, so, President Macron, the French president, told me he thought, in an interview a few weeks ago, that a lot of what we're seeing why Putin is making these decisions that he can't explain on a rational basis, Macron, is because Putin was isolated for two years and the implication being that he's not thinking right.


And we've seen other people who have dealt with Putin, serious national security people, bipartisan, Condi Rice, Bob Gates, James Clapper, all of them saying that they think something is off. This isn't a normal calculus. When he sent troops in to seize Crimea, he succeeded. When he sent troops in to seize parts of Georgia, he succeeded.

This is a whole different thing, trying to seize all of Ukraine, thinking it was going to be over in a few days, and, obviously, he's bogged down in the war. So, I just thought that that's the important subtext here, are we dealing with a mad man?

And it was interesting, as you note, not only that he said that he thought that Putin was rational, just somebody who as an irrational goal, but when I inaccurately assumed he had just said that Putin was not a rational actor, he jumped in, no, no, that's not what I said, to correct me, which I thought was interesting. He wants to parse it. He wants there to be -- you're making irrational decisions but you're still a rational person.

BERMAN: It was important to him to have that message there.

TAPPER: And it was quick also. I mean, when all said and done about the president, almost 80 years, he heard that, and he wanted to jump in immediately and correct what I had said, which I thought was interesting and important. Because, look, if he's a mad man with nukes, that's a different equation than if he just somebody that's off on a misguided foreign policy blunder, I think.

KEILAR: Did you get the sense that he was saying he was a rational actor who is making at times irrational decisions?

TAPPER: Yes, I think that's exactly right, that the decision to go in was irrational. His speech right after the invasion, in which he was talking about uniting all of the Russian-speaking people of the world is not rational. But I have to say just as an observer, we know that Vladimir Putin has been saying for almost 20 years that the worst thing that ever happened in the 20th century was not the holocaust, not the genocide of the Armenian people, not any number of horrible foreign policy occurrences, not 9/11, not Vietnam, the worst thing that happened was the collapse of the Soviet Union. That's what he thinks. That's what compels him to do what he's doing.

So, obviously, this irrational goal, I don't know -- I mean, I think President Biden is parsing for his own reasons, and I get it, he's the leader of the free world, not just some idiot on T.V. like me, but the bottom line is, like this has been his irrational modus operandi, his irrational dogma for his entire career, Vladimir Putin.

BERMAN: There was a lot in this interview. And I think people listen to it very closely for issues on Ukraine but also the economy. And as I was watching, I heard President Biden use language that I hadn't really heard before, which is, I don't think we're going to go into a recession but we might and it might be a slight recession.

TAPPER: A slight recession, I thought, was a huge admission given the fact that they have been -- President Biden and the administration have been denying that we're going to enter a recession, like, I think, half the country thinks we're already in one. Economists can debate whether or not we're in a recession if inflation is obviously very high, joblessness is very low.

But the idea that he would acknowledge that he doesn't think it's going to happen but we might enter a slight recession was something that probably had some of his advisers cringing a little bit, I would think.

BERMAN: Right. This is what advisers and spin people try to work their way around. But when you get the principle and actually ask a direct question, he sort of told you what he thought to be the truth.

TAPPER: He said, I don't think it's going to happen, but it could happen. But if it does happen, it will just be a little baby, a little baby recession, which is probably not any comfort for people who are struggling right now, and there are lots of them, millions of them.

KEILAR: Yes. And some people will feel it more than others. It won't be a baby recession for some people, so they'll certainly feel that.

You also asked him about his age, which is he can't deny that, right? He's coming up on 80 here and you asked him about some Democrats who have their concerns considering his age about him running again. He kind of turned this around a little bit. Let's listen.


TAPPER: So, what's your message to Democrats who like you, who like what you've done but are concerned about your age and the demands of the job?

BIDEN: Well, they're concerned about whether or not I'm getting anything done. Look what I've gotten done. Name me a president in recent history that's gotten as much done as I have in the first two years. Not a joke.

It's a matter can you do the job. And I believe I can do the job. I've been able to do the job.


KEILAR: It's an interesting pivot. It's not about age. It's about can you get it done.

TAPPER: I thought that was fascinating. And you're right, it's a different message. Because in the past, he says, watch me, watch me. And people are watching. And he is 79 years old and he doesn't seem like he's 30.


By the same token, I mean, most of our leaders in this country are getting up there, whether it's Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi, et cetera, we have a lot of people who are up there in age.

But he didn't say watch me, he said, look at what I've accomplished. And that's a claim he can make, a statement he can make since April, May when the administration and Congress actually passed a slew of legislation, a lot of it bipartisan, some of it partisan, but in any case, a lot of accomplishments. And it's a different message. It's not, watch me, it's look at the record.

BERMAN: Hunter Biden, his son, you asked about that and the way -- again, the way he answered, to me, was so interesting, particularly when he spoke about the possibility of a gun charge. Explain exactly how that happened.

TAPPER: This is so interesting because, as Evan Perez and our Justice Department unit have reported now for months, there is -- sources are telling them that prosecutors think they have enough to charge Hunter Biden on some tax charges and on lying on a form when he got a gun. And when I asked President Biden about the fact that there could be charges brought against his son, who he loves very much, obviously, and, obviously, has had his struggles with addiction issues for a long time.

The president knew lots of details about this and he was eager to talk about how much he loves his son, how proud he is but also the fact that, in his view, the reason that they have a charge against Hunter, as the president knew in detail, was because Hunter had admitted in his book that he was using drugs at the time he filled out that form to buy the gun and on the form and said he was not using drugs. So, he knew a level of minutia about the case that suggested he's -- well, as any parent would be, he's quite aware of what's going on.

BERMAN: Yes. He didn't say he didn't do it. He didn't say necessarily it wasn't against the law. He just sought to explain.

TAPPER: Yes. Well, his basic argument is they only know he committed a crime because my son admitted it, which I thought was an interesting thing to say.

BERMAN: It really was.

Jake, we got more.

TAPPER: We do.

BERMAN: Stick around. You're a very busy man. We're going to talk about the new cover story in The Atlantic about C.J. Rice, a Philadelphia teenager convicted of attempted murder more than a decade ago with what could be a shocking lack of evidence.

Pennsylvania Democratic Senate Candidate John Fetterman reassuring voters he is fit to serve in his first sit-down interview since suffering a stroke.

KEILAR: And an L.A. City Council member speaking out after the president of the council made racist comments about his black son.


MIKE BONIN, MEMBER, LOS ANGELES CITY COUNCIL: I know the fire you feel when someone tries to destroy black boy joy. Man, it's a rage.




KEILAR: This is not justice, a Philadelphia teenager and the empty promise of the Sixth Amendment. That is the cover story of The Atlantic's November issue out today. CNN's own Jake tapper telling the story here of C.J. Rice who was convicted of attempted murder nearly a decade ago.

At the time, rice was a 17-year-old black teen from Philadelphia. He was also a patient of Jake Tapper's father. And after revisiting the police investigation and the subsequent trial, Tapper writes, quote, let me state the obvious in personal terms with evidence as meager as that against Rice no prosecutor in the country would even have charged me, a white man with resources. If it had, and if I had legal representation worthy of the name, no jury would have brought a conviction.

And Jake Tapper is back with us to discuss his reporting. Jake, this is a case that your father has followed since the beginning. Tell us a little more about this.

TAPPER: So, C.J. Rice is a patient of my dad's since he was born in south Philly. My dad is a retired pediatrician. And C.J. had been shot in an incident that C.J. says was a case of mistaken identity, no arrests were ever made, and he could barely walk. He was in the hospital for weeks. He visited my dad in September of 2011. He had something like 35 staples up and down his chest and torso. He was walking my dad describes it like a 100-year-old man.

And then a few days later, there was another shooting incident and they arrested C.J. for it even though the assailant supposedly sprinted. And my dad thought that there was just no way that he was going to be convicted, my dad thought. It was just impossible, physiologically impossible. But because of the way our criminal justice system works and because of the fact that he had a supremely incompetent attorney, a woman named Sanjay Weaver (ph), who passed away in 2019, but made mistake after mistake after mistake, basic mistakes, mistakes that even lawyers, even people who are not lawyers would not make, he's now doing 30 to 60 years in prison. It is the most unjust case like this I've ever seen.

BERMAN: And, Jake, you go at this pointing out this is a story about C.J. but it's also a story about the system here. That's what you think is most important.

TAPPER: Well, that's right, I mean, because the bottom line is C.J.'s case is important because it's not unusual. It is the case of a person who does not have means, given a court-appointed attorney. And let me also distinguish here, there's a big difference between having a public defender who are usually excellent attorneys, a public defender and a court-appointed attorney who have much worse track records.

Court-appointed attorneys, 80 percent of the people who can't afford attorneys get court appointed attorneys and Sanjay Weaver (ph) was incompetent She was an incompetent attorney. Very basic things that should have come out in trial did not come out in trial. Nobody was able to identify C.J. the night of the shooting, even though they all knew him. Three different police officers asked, did you know who shot you, did you know who shot you, nobody did it. Then all of a sudden, a confidential informant appear, says C.J. did it. The detectives investigating the case put in a photo lineup, all of a sudden, one person says C.J. did it, and that's it.


That's the entire evidence.

But the fact that that not a witness was able to identify C.J. three previous times, that wasn't even brought up in trial. The lawyer didn't even know. I don't think she even visited the crime scene. She didn't know basic facts about the case. And that is what passes for legal representation in this country. That's okay with our system. It's okay with our system. You can be a drunk attorney, you can be a disbarred attorney, you can sleep through part of the trial and courts will say it's good enough. BERMAN: We have got to let you go, and I know you're shot on time, but where is the case right now? Is there any chance it will be revisited?

TAPPER: There is a habeas attorney who is trying to get him out. But, truly, the only thing that can happen now is either the district attorney in Philadelphia, Larry Krasner, or people on the parole board in Pennsylvania, including Lieutenant Governor Fetterman, John Fetterman, the attorney general, Josh Shapiro, or the current governor, Tom Wolf, it's in their hands, really. Somebody needs to look at this case at the very least he didn't get a fair trial.

KEILAR: Yes. And how many C.J. Rices are there out there? Definitely the question, right?

TAPPER: Thousands, yes.

KEILAR: Jake, amazing piece in The Atlantic as you start your show this week. Thank you so much for taking some time out for us.

TAPPER: Thank you so much, Brianna. Thanks, John.

KEILAR: And you can watch CNN Tonight live at 9:00 P.M. Eastern. Join Jake in primetime. Ana Sorokin, the fake heiress who inspired a hit T.V. show is on tonight.

BERMAN: Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin is speaking out about the leaked audio that targeted him and his family, including the city council president making racist remarks about his black son. Monday, she resigned as president but remain on the council. Now, she is taking a leave of absence.

Holding back tears, Bonin talked about the impact of the words.


BONIN: These words, they cut and they stung. You know, I know that I can never really know or comprehend or feel the weight of the daily relentless racism, anti-black racism that my son is going to face, but, man, I know the fire that you feel when someone tries to destroy black boy joy. Man, it's a rage.


BERMAN: He also told the council he didn't even want to show up to Tuesday's meeting at all.


BONIN: I really, really do not want to be here today. I want -- I want to be home with my family right now. I am -- but I want to say a few words.

Like most Angelenos, I am reeling from the revelations of what these people said, trusted servants who voiced hate and vile. Public officials are supposed to call us to our highest selves. And these people stabbed us and shot us and cut the spirit of Los Angeles. It gave a beat down to the heart and the soul of the city.


KEILAR: Now, just before Bonin took the podium, protesters filled the room, delaying the meeting and calling on all of the members involved in the leaked audio to resign from the council. The White House also weighing in Tuesday.


KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president is glad to see that one of the participants in that conversation has resigned, but they all should. He believes that they all should resign. The language that was used and tolerated during that conversation was unacceptable and it was appalling. They should all step down.


KEILAR: Council Member Bonin agreeing with the president.


BONIN: First, you must resign and then ask for forgiveness.


KEILAR: Now, the Los Angeles area Chamber of Commerce has released an official statement calling for the resignation of those city council members too, saying in part, it is now apparent we can only heal and move forward through definitive action. Council Members Nury Martinez, Kevin de Leon and Gil Cedillo must resign immediately. We join with business and civic leaders in calling for their immediate resignation from the Los Angeles City Council.

Top Republicans rallying behind Herschel Walker in Georgia as he again denies allegations that he paid a woman to have an abortion.

BERMAN: Pennsylvania Senate Candidate John Fetterman speaking out about the communication issues that persists after the stroke he suffered back in May.


Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us ahead.


KEILAR: Georgia Republican Senate Candidate Herschel Walker campaigning with Senators Rick Scott and Tom Cotton on Tuesday as allegations that Walker paid a woman to have an abortion continue to hang over the race.

In an interview with ABC News, Walker again denied allegations that he paid for a woman to have an abortion.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But at this point, you now know who she is?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And have you had a conversation with her?

WALKER: Not at all. So, I didn't know who it was until last week. And I went, oh. And I said that's not true.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you ever have a conversation with this woman at any time about an abortion?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you ever, to your knowledge, give money to pay for the cost of an abortion?



WALKER: Yes, she's lying.


KEILAR: That report is from the Daily Beast and The Washington Post say the woman told the paper she had to press Walker to pay for the abortion that he wanted her to have.


The woman remains anonymous but says she is the mother of Walker's ten-year-old son after refusing to end the pregnancy.