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One World with Zain Asher
Death Toll Rises In Hawaii Wildfires; At Least One African Nation Pledges To Send Troops To Niger; Niger Junta Leaders In talks With Wagner To Bring Mercenaries To The Long Independent Former French Colony; Ecuador Judge Orders Preventative Detention Of Six Suspects Arrested In Connection With The Assassination Of A Presidential Candidate; AG Garland Appoints Special Counsel For Hunter Biden Case; Ukraine Tries To Make A Breakthrough In Its Counter Offensive; Women's World Cup Guaranteed To Have A First-Time Champion. Aired 12-1p ET
Aired August 11, 2023 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: The death toll is rising in Hawaii after devastating wildfires and many people are still missing. Here's what's
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: One of the most charming beloved port cities anywhere in the world is just scorched like a bomb went
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Now, rescuers in Maui are scrambling to find missing residents. Plus, a new pledge to deploy troops to Niger, what West African leaders are
doing to try to restore Niger's democratically elected government. And then later --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Talk to us, you know, about the scars that you still see today.
UNKNOWN: You still have black people struggling with the blackness of skin.
SOARES: My interview with Barbados' first poet laureate and why she's calling for reparations. Hello and a very warm welcome to the show
everyone. I'm Isa Soares live from London and this is ONE WORLD.
Welcome everyone. On the Hawaiian island of Maui, the scope of destruction from wildfires is coming into focus. This is the town of Lahaina. At last
report, the wildfire there was about 80 percent or so contained. However, it's already destroyed most of that historic town. At least 55 people have
lost their lives, making this one of the deadliest fires in the U.S. in a century. So many residents have told CNN they have lost absolutely
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EDDIE GARCIA, LAHAINA RESIDENT: Everyone's lost their job, they've lost their house, they've lost their family. I think there's going to be
hundreds of people dead and I don't say that as any conspiracy theory. I just look at how fast it moved and I know how people around here were all
You know, it happens, what happens? How are you gonna get out that fast? It's all wooden houses super close together in that neighborhood. You've
probably been here on vacation. If there's a way you can help, it's your turn. Help here, because it's needed. Every single home in Lahaina is gone.
It's like I said before, it's apocalyptic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Just devastating. Well, some residents say they had no prior warning of the approaching fires. That may be discussed when the top U.S.
government emergency official arrives in Hawaii to meet with state, as well as local authorities about the response as well as the recovery efforts.
The only bit of good news, winds are dying down and some brief, brief showers are expected. However, meteorologists don't expect any substantial
rain until next week. CNN's Mike Valerio takes a closer look at the devastation right across Maui.
MIKE VALERIO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Paradise lost.
JOHN PELLETIER, CHIEF, MAUI POLICE DEPARTMENT: It's all gone. It's gone.
VALERIO: To an inferno.
JOSH GREEN, HAWAII GOVERNOR: What we saw was likely the largest natural disaster in Hawaii state history.
VALERIO: The wildfires that began raging in Maui Tuesday now closer to being contained. But the death toll is climbing.
GREEN: We will continue to see loss of life. We also have seen many hundreds of homes destroyed and that's gonna take a great deal of time to
VALERIO: And officials still unable to determine just how many people are still missing.
PELLETIER: Here's the challenge. There's no internet. There's no radio coverage.
VALERIO: The fire is cutting a devastating path across Western Maui, displacing thousands.
UNKNOWN: I'm just trying to figure out what to do from here.
VALERIO: And reducing the historic town of Lahaina to ash.
JEFF HICKMAN, PUBLIC AFFAIRS DIRECTOR, HAWAII DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: Everything is completely wiped out. You know, that used to be the capital
of Hawaii, and it was a bustling town, and some of those buildings were still there, all made out of wood, and that whole waterfront is gone. So, a
lot of history. The world's oldest, our biggest banyan tree gone.
VALERIO: President Joe Biden issuing a federal disaster declaration releasing federal aid to help the state. The U.S. Coast Guard, Navy, and
National Guard are working with local authorities in search and rescue efforts, as those who called this island home prepare to face the uncertain
path that lies ahead.
UNKNOWN: I feel like everything's gone. I've seen the pictures.
VALERIO: In Honolulu, I'm Mike Valerio.
SOARES: Well, our Chief Climate Correspondent, Bill Weir, is in Hawaii. He took a look around at what's left, really, of the historic city of Lahaina.
Have a look at this.
WEIR: This is the historic Banyan tree, a 150-year-old majestic tree at the center of Lahaina town. It looks like it may have survived. It needs
water desperately to survive right now. But for the locals who are coming down and looking at the damage, this is such a sign of hope that maybe
their iconic tree will have lived when so much else is gone here. But the history can never be replaced. Right here, this is the first hotel in
Hawaii, the Pioneer Hotel, Pioneer Theater. It's completely gone.
Right over here was the library. It's just now a stone shell of scorched blocks. Around Front Street there, Fleetwoods, Mick Fleetwood of the band
Fleetwood Mac, his place is gutted out with flames. It's just unrecognizable. One of the most charming beloved port cities anywhere in
the world is just scorched like a bomb went off.
SOARES: It does look pretty apocalyptic. If you would like to help people struggling after these wildfires, you can go to cnn.com slash impact to
find ways to give. We'll have more on this story, of course, from Hawaii in about 20 minutes or so, right here on ONE WORLD.
Well, it's still not clear at this hour when the plan will begin or what will be involved. But at least one African nation is pledging to send its
troops to Niger as soon as possible. On Thursday, the regional bloc known as ECOWAS ordered the activation of a standby force to Niger to restore
constitutional order following last month's military coup. The president of the Ivory Coast says his country will begin preparing and mobilizing
immediately. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALASSANE OUATTARA, IVORY COAST PRESIDENT (through translator): The ECOWAS heads of state have agreed to the deployment of troops from a number of
countries, including Cote d'Ivoire. Cote d'Ivoire will provide a battalion and has made all the financial arrangements for the operation. Should it
last three months, provisions will be made in the budget to ensure that our soldiers and officers have everything they need.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Let's get more from CNN's Larry Madowo, who joins us in our life from Kenya -- from Nairobi and Kenya. And Larry, yesterday when you and I
were talking, you know, it seems very much like this was a decision that we were talking about, about carrot and stick approach, almost. Have we had
any reaction from the military junta, so far? Let's start off with that to this decision from ECOWAS to put the forces on standby.
LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Weirdly, we have not heard any statement from the military junta in Niger, which is surprising because they've been
very quick and reactive in responding every time ECOWAS has made a move here. So, part of it is maybe the understanding that this is not imminent,
but on the other one is this long game here.
ECOWAS is saying that we're not putting the military option off the table, but we still want to talk to you if you will talk to us. But the way this
is being received in the public is different because there have been, this evening, protests outside the French Army Air Base in Niamey. People
shouting, "Aba la France", down with France, down with the CDAO, down with the ECOWAS.
And why is it happening outside the French Air Base after the ECOWAS decision? It's because many people in the country and around the region see
any ECOWAS decision as really proxies for France, for the West, and many have been calling President Tinubu and the other ECOWAS leaders as puppets
of the West. That's why these people are outside the French Air Base in Niamey.
But we also see some impatience from ECOWAS leaders, best vocalized by President Alassane Ouattara of Cote d'Ivoire, who called the continued
detention of President Mohamed Bazoum as an act of terrorism, and he is not mincing his words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OUATTARA: We want democracy in our subregion. We do not accept, we will not accept coup d'etat. And I think these pushes must go. If it don't let
the Zoom out, to be able to exercise its mandate, I think we should move ahead and get them out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADOWO: Move ahead and get them out. That is the clearest sign yet from any of ECOWAS leaders that they intend to go ahead with this military
decision to intervene if that happens. I think President Alassane Ouattara was very clear in both French and English that this is something that is
ECOWAS stands against it. So, the next stage here, Isa, is that the military chiefs will be meeting one more time to figure out the whens and
the hows and the ifs, to essentially work out when do they do this and how do they do it, considering that the junta will be ready and they've
promised to defend themselves, supported by the militaries in Burkina Faso and Mali.
SOARES: I appreciate it, Larry. I know you're keeping an eye on the thousands of people pro-coup demonstrations gathering near the French
military base. I'll let you news gather on that. We'll touch base soon. Thanks very much, Larry Madowo over there.
Well, the coup in Niger not only threatens to deepen regional instability, it could also lead to power struggle between Moscow and the West and
potentially pave the way for greater Russian influence in the Sahel. Our Fred Pleitgen explains.
FRED PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Since a military junta overthrew the elected President of Niger, Russian flags have become prominent at pro-coup
rallies. All the Africans know that Putin is ready to save us, this man says. He adds, I prefer that the Russians settle in, because today, if
Russia does so, it's not to exploit resources, it's to help us have peace. But the Wagner private military company might soon be settling in here as
well. France says it believes the Niger junta leaders are already in talks with Wagner to bring the mercenaries to the long independent former French
Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin, after his own failed mutiny inside Russia, says the group wants more business in Africa. In Niger, a country where the
U.S. has long deployed around a thousand troops to support counter- terrorism operations, that allegedly means Wagner will soon be fighting terrorism here.
I am proud of the guys from PMC Wagner, he said in an audio message. Just the thought of them makes ISIS and Al-Qaeda into small, obedient boys. And
while some West African nations have threatened to intervene in Niger after the coup, Wagner could confront them or even France, Russian Analyst Sergey
Markov tells me.
SERGEY MARKOV, RUSSIAN ANALYST: Soldiers of Wagner will be happy to put French army on the knees in Niger.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): Wagner mercenaries were some of Vladimir Putin's toughest and most successful forces in the war in Ukraine. But the group
has also been expanding in West Africa for years. CNN filmed the mercenaries training security forces in the Central African Republic. But
they're also active or have been linked to Libya, Mali, Burkina Faso and Sudan. Huge countries with vast natural resources, some of which Wagner are
Over the past years, investigations by CNN and human rights groups have established Wagner's involvement in and complicity with atrocities against
civilian populations in Sudan, Mali and the Central African Republic. And the French say the group is also behind a smear campaign against them.
Paris says this drone video filmed last year in Mali shows white men burying bodies at a site where a fake Twitter account, probably created by
Wagner, falsely claimed French forces had committed a massacre. U.S. Secretary of State Blinken is saying Wagner is both exploiting and creating
instability in Western Africa, where Washington has also invested in training local militaries.
ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Every single place that this group, Wagner group, has gone, death, destruction and exploitation have
followed. Insecurity has gone up, not down.
PLEITGEN: But for now, Wagner and Russia stocks seem to be rising in West Africa. Tailors in Niger's capital busy making more Russian flags to meet
increased demand. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Berlin.
SOARES: Important context there from our Fred Pleitgen. We'll have much more on Niger later this hour in about 20 minutes also from now.
Well, a judge in Ecuador has ordered that six suspects arrested in connection with the assassination of a presidential candidate should remain
in preventative detention. Officials say the men are Colombian and members of organized crime groups. Fernando Villavicencio was gunned down at a
campaign event in Quito on Wednesday. Earlier today, his body arrived at a funeral parlor in the capital.
Meanwhile, his supporters are said to hold a public memorial on Friday in his honor. CNN's Rafael Romo joins us now from Ecuador's capital with the
very latest. And Rafa, what more are you learning this hour about these six Colombians?
RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Isa, less than two hours ago, the Ecuadorian Attorney General's Office announced that they have introduced
what they call 22 elements of conviction against the suspect. By this, prosecutors mean evidence collected at the crime scene and during raids
carried out after the assassination of residential candidate Fernando Villavicencio. Investigators say they have obtained witness testimony and
ballistics tests. They have also analyzed security examination of residential candidate Fernando Villavicencio.
Investigators say they have obtained witness testimony and ballistics tests. They have also analyzed security camera videos in and around the
scene -- the crime scene, and there was another crucial piece of information revealed by investigators earlier today. So, they say the
autopsy shows the victim received long-distance shots and they have been able to match shells to a rifle confiscated in the race They also found a
weapon that appears to have been used in the attack and are testing it to see if they can match it to an attacker.
And listen to this, Isa. The Ecuadorian police bomb squad made a controlled explosion of a grenade that was recovered at the scene that the attackers
apparently plan to use the day of the attack. As you mentioned before, all six suspects are Colombian nationals, according to authorities. There was a
seventh suspect who died after being shot by police whose identity has not been revealed although police said he had been previously arrested for gun
possession in mid-June and later released. Officials say they found the stolen vehicle --
SOARES: Rafa, Rafael, let me just interrupt you for the time being. Apologies for interrupting. We've got some live images coming to us now
from Quito. And we are seeing, well, these two men fighting, but we're seeing a group of protesters throwing stones, lots of cameras there, lots
of, it seems, police. I can see police right at the end. We do not know what these protesters are throwing, what they're throwing stones at.
But of course, selections supposed to take place in 10 days' time. And I'm aware, Rafael Romo, that you can't see these images. But this looks like
central Quito, lots of cameras, lots of people with masks going on here. And if the camera turns again to the left, further down we can see, to me
it looked like police. And I wonder if my producer can confirm that. That's right, a whole line of police right at the end. Policia, it says the
Policia, I can see -- de la Ciudad, so the local police. Just put this into context for us here, Rafa.
ROMO: Yeah, let's -- let's remind our viewers, Isa, that in the last few years, this kind of scene has been somewhat frequent here in Quito and
other cities across Ecuador. And the main concern, the main topic, the part of the reason why people were so angry was precisely the challenge of
security. Many people -- I don't know if that's the case for this protest, but many people in the past had complained that the government was not
doing enough in their view to tackle the problem of insecurity, the gangs, the drug gangs that are controlling vast areas of the country.
And so, they came out to the streets. I can remember multiple times, especially since 2017, 2018, that there were clashes between police and
people precisely for that problem. Again, we need to find out more as to what is happening right now, but we've seen this kind of scene in the past.
SOARES: Yeah, police standing ready for any protesters. Stones have been thrown at them, as you can see, laying down -- those rocks on the streets.
But look, putting into context further context, as well, Rafa, yesterday in my show, I was speaking to the presidential hopeful, Otto Sonnenholzner,
and he was telling me, you know, these drug gangs are controlling everything from prison. They said there's a lot of influence of drug
In different institutions, Rafa, he was saying in this country, and he was talking about injured judiciary in local governments, even police. How --
you know, I asked him a point, does he trust the system, the political system, with elections around the corner? I mean, what are people going to
turn out in ten days' time, Rafa, given -- given what we have seen in the last four days?
ROMO: Yeah, that is the question, Isa. And let's also remember that the assassination of Villavicencio has made headlines around the world, but
this is nothing new. There has been other political assassinations here in Ecuador. I can remember in the last few weeks, the assassination of the
mayor in the city of Manta. It's a very important coastal town here in Ecuador -- the Ecuador's 6th largest city.
There was another political assassination in a different city. There were two failed assassinations, luckily. And so, this kind of violence against
political figures, in the last six months, so far this year, there's been about half a dozen of these instances.
But of course, Villavicencio, being a presidential candidate and being someone who was gaining a lot of support among the people, speaking so
openly against this situation of organized crime --heavy control of places here --
SOARES: Rafael Romo, I'm sorry, I'm going to interrupt you. Rafa, I'm sorry to interrupt you yet again. And I want to go to Washington. Attorney
General is speaking. Let's have a listen.
(LIVE COVERAGE, BREAKING NEWS)
MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: -- served previously in office for more than a decade. Beginning in 2019, Mr. Weiss, in his capacity as U.S.
attorney and along with federal law enforcement partners, began investigating allegations of certain criminal conduct by, among others,
Robert Hunter Biden. That investigation has been recently referenced in federal criminal proceedings in the District of Delaware, and as noted in
those proceedings and other public statements by Mr. Weiss' office, that investigation remains ongoing.
In February 2021, U.S. Attorney Weiss was asked to remain as U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware and in that capacity to continue to lead the
investigation. As I said before, Mr. Weiss would be permitted to continue his investigation, take any investigative steps he wanted, and make the
decision whether to prosecute in any district.
Mr. Weiss has told Congress that he has been granted ultimate authority over this matter, including the responsibility for deciding where, when,
and whether to file charges, and for making decisions necessary to preserve the integrity of any prosecution consistent with federal law, the
principles of federal prosecution, and departmental policies.
In a July 2023 letter to Congress, Mr. Weiss said that he had not to that point requested special counsel designation. On Tuesday of this week, Mr.
Weiss advised me that in his judgment, his investigation had reached a stage at which he should continue his work as a special counsel. And he
asked to be so appointed. Upon considering his request, as well as the extraordinary circumstances relating to this matter, I have concluded that
it is in the public interest to appoint him as special counsel.
This appointment confirms my commitment to provide Mr. Weiss all the resources he requests. It also reaffirms that Mr. Weiss has the authority
he needs to conduct a thorough investigation and to continue to take the steps he deems appropriate independently based only on the facts and the
law. Mr. Weiss will also continue to serve as U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware.
As special counsel, he will continue to have the authority and responsibility that he has previously exercised to oversee the
investigation and decide where, when, and whether to file charges. The special counsel will not be subject to the day-to-day supervision of any
official of the department, but he must comply with the regulations, procedures, and policies of the department.
Consistent with the special counsel regulations, at the conclusion of Mr. Weiss' work, he will provide me with a report explaining the prosecution or
declination decisions reached by him. As with each special counsel who has served since I have taken office, I am committed to making as much of his
report public as possible, consistent with legal requirements and department policy.
Today's announcement affords the prosecutors, agents, and analysts working on this matter, the ability to proceed with their work expeditiously and to
make decisions indisputably guided only by the facts and the law. The men and women undertaking this investigation are public servants who have
dedicated their careers to protecting the citizens of this country.
The appointment of Mr. Weiss reinforces for the American people, the department's commitment to both independence and accountability in
particularly sensitive matters. I am confident that Mr. Weiss will carry out his responsibility in an even-handed and urgent manner and in
accordance with the highest traditions of this department. Thank you.
DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: You just heard there, Attorney General Merrick Garland making a very significant announcement at the Department of Justice
that there will be now a special counsel looking into the Hunter Biden matter. It is the same individual the U.S. Attorney in Delaware who has
been investigating. What it means though is that David Weiss who is the -- again, U.S. Attorney in Delaware who's been investigating, will now have
more powers than a typical U.S. attorney. It is important to also note that what the Attorney General said was that this is at the request of powers
than a typical U.S. Attorney.
It is important to also note that what the Attorney General said was that this is at the request of David Weiss. He requested the powers of the
special counsel. A lot to unpack here. I believe that we have Kara Scannell to talk about what this means. Kara, take it away.
KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Dana, I mean, an unexpected announcement today by the # Merrick Garland appointing David Weiss, who has
been overseeing this investigation, as a special counsel. So, as Garland said, that will allow David Weiss the ability to investigate this
independently. It will allow him to investigate anywhere he needs to. There had been questions about venue in this case, because he is a U.S. attorney
for Delaware, and some of the conduct or alleged conduct had taken place in other jurisdictions.
It's also a bit of a reversal because both Garland and David Weiss had previously said he didn't ask for special counsel status, he had all the
authority that he needed in this case. But now, according to Garland, Weiss asked for that status on Tuesday, and he was granted that. So, as Garland
said, it will also mean that David Weiss will be providing a report with any prosecution decisions or declinations at the end of this.
And this is something that the House Republicans had been raising as a question here because there were IRS whistleblowers who'd come forward
saying that some of their investigative efforts were stymied during this multi-year investigation. So, it is something that House Republicans have
been scrutinizing and appointing a special counsel could alleviate some of that scrutiny. But it raises a lot of questions about just what else they
might be investigating. And I noted that Garland had said that they will be able to investigate criminal conduct by Hunter Biden, among others. That is
a question here of who else they might be looking into.
And remember, this investigation had spanned some five years, and had looked at broad conduct, including foreign lobbying, including potential
money laundering. And it had narrowed into the guilty plea that they had reached last month that fell apart in the court hearing.
And just now, Dana, we're getting word. I'm looking at a court filing where prosecutors asked the judge to vacate her order, asking them to come back
and work out their guilty plea, because as they write that this is the prosecutors writing in this motion to the judge that, you know, that order
was set in place as they were continuing to work toward a guilty plea. They write, "but that is no longer the case following additional negotiations
after the hearing held on July 26, 2023, the parties are at an impasse and are not in agreement on either a plea agreement or a diversion agreement".
Therefore, the government believes the court's briefing order should be vacated. So, you know, that shows us that this deal that they were working
toward on tax misdemeanor charges and a diversion on a gun possession is now being torn up, and this investigation is now continuing with the
appointment of a special counsel who has broad power standout.
BASH: And that really is the key here. That was the turning point, Kara. What happened in that courtroom, that federal courtroom in Delaware when
the Hunter Biden legal team thought they were walking in with Hunter Biden, David Weiss and his team walked in. They had planned to just kind of get a
stamp on this plea deal for a couple of misdemeanors and a tax charge that would be diverted down the road. And then it all blew up and it all fell
apart for various reasons. Fair to say that it was because of that that we are where we are.
SCANNELL: I mean, Dana, it certainly seems that way. Both the prosecution and Hunter Biden's team, you know, they walked into that courtroom today
with a deal that they had signed and agreed upon. I mean, they shook hands in the courtroom at the start of the proceeding, and they actually signed
the paperwork then. It was the judge that was pushing and asking questions about it. And where that first hit the snag was about the scope of this tax
SCANNELL: You know, Hunter Biden's team believed that it covered everything that the prosecutors were looking into, including foreign
lobbying, including money laundering, and prosecutors said that wasn't the case. It was narrowed to just taxes, to gun and to drug charges. In the
live moments, though, Hunter Biden's team then said, okay, fine, we'll agree to that. And they were moving forward with what appeared to be the
But then their diversion agreement on the gun possession hit a snag because the judge raised questions about whether it was constitutional. And that's
when she said to both sides, you have 30 days to go back and try to work this out. And the big question has been, would they still agree to those
initial charges, even this narrowed immunity deal, and apparently they are not able to do that.
BASH: Yeah. Thank you so much for putting that in context. Appreciate it. Back here, Elliot, I wanna ask you about, well, there are so many things
here, but first just about what is going to happen now.
BASH: Let's start with David Weiss himself. He is the special counsel.
As I mentioned, well, the Attorney General says explicitly, we have here in the supporting documents, that this is happening, the special counsel, idea
of a special counsel is happening because David Weiss, who is now the special counsel, asked for it. Given what happened in that courtroom, and
frankly, what a mess it was, does it surprise you that he is still in charge of this case?
WILLIAMS: It does not. Look, anybody who's been an attorney or federal prosecutor has had something blow up with the defense, where you thought
you had an agreement going into court, everybody was fine, you shook hands on it, and then you get in there, and you sort of just misunderstood each
other. So, that's not that alarming.
Now, step back. Why do you have a special counsel in the first place? And what the law says is that, number one, when somebody has a conflict, like,
you know, one of the attorneys owns stock or something, and the people being investigated, that's not the case here. So -- or extraordinary
circumstances exist. That's what the law says.
And I think it was a recognition or a finding by Weiss, perhaps others, that the case was now so extraordinary on account of who the person being
investigated is and some of the mischigas around it, that it was wise to take out of the chain and come in at the Justice Department. It didn't have
to happen, but it did.
BASH: It did. And then the other very important point of this is that because this is a special counsel, this isn't just if somebody is charged,
then you are going to know the scope of the charge and what they allegedly did wrong or didn't. This is going to be a fulsome report about what the
investigation looked like, which is important legally, but also very important politically, because they're going to presumably have information
in there that could answer with evidence, some of the allegations, without evidence mostly, that Republicans have out there.
SHAN WU, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yeah, I think that's about the only good thing that's come out of this decision by Garland. To me, this is a
debacle for the Justice Department. They've had years to investigate this case, and Elliott's absolutely right, things go wrong in the courtroom. It
shouldn't have gone wrong in this case. I mean, the defense had an interest in keeping it a little bit ambiguous. Is anything else happening? Because
they want their deal.
Prosecution had no interest in keeping it ambiguous. They should made this very clear at least for themselves what the plan was. Garland again looks
like he is just buffeted by political wins. He's so worried about looking political. If Weiss says now make me special counsel, he says, yes, yes,
I'll do that. He should have had better control of this to begin with because when Weiss was not a special counsel, he was in a chain of command
at Justice. Now, he's making a special counsel. He could have just said no.
And this obviously implies, maybe doesn't mean to imply it, that the conflict that's coming up now is maybe it extends to the president. Because
the president's son, there is no conflict. Relatives of presidents have been looked before. You don't need a special counsel or independent
counsel. So, again, I lay this at Garland's feet. It wasn't well managed, and his reaction now makes things even worse.
BASH: Yeah, I mean, we should say that certainly, the Republicans are going to say that it implies that this has to do with the President. I
mean, you would agree, we don't have -- there's no evidence of that at all. The only thing that it says is that they're investigating Hunter Biden and
they're gonna let basically, these are my words, they're going to let the evidence take that investigation where it goes, even if it includes other
WU: Yeah, the problem is from a legal standpoint, what are the extraordinary circumstances? The fact that it blew up in court is not an
extraordinary circumstance. That's what the problem is. The question is what's in there.
BASH: I'm just going to quickly go to Paula Reid. She was there at the Justice Department in the room for the Attorney General's announcement.
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Dana, in addition to being there for the announcement, we've also had the chance to speak to
some sources inside Maine Justice. And look, what we've learned is that DOJ is saying that on Tuesday, David Weiss requested special counsel status,
though no one here at the Justice Department can explain why suddenly on Tuesday, after five years of this investigation, he was seeking this
We now know from our colleagues that there are court filings that suggest that the Justice Department and attorneys for Hunter Biden are an an
impasse in terms of the plea deal that was supposed to be finalized a short time ago in court and sort of fell through. So, again it's unclear on the
timing here. It's also unclear how this new designation will impact Weiss ability to testify before Congress.
We know there have been calls for him to testify but here at DOJ they cannot tell us how this will impact it though they do point out to the fact
point to the fact that previous special counsels John Durham, Robert Mueller, they did testify before Congress but only after submitting their
final report. Here they're trying to emphasize that this requirement to submit a final report will add a layer of transparency to this obviously
highly, politically fraught investigation. They also answered our questions about whether the White House had been informed or Hunter Biden's lawyers
and we're told that the White House was not given a heads up politically fraught investigation.
They also answered our questions about whether the White House had been informed or Hunter Biden's lawyers. And we're told that the White House was
not given a heads up about this and neither were Hunter Biden's attorneys and, so far, between this announcement and now, we have not been able to
get Biden's attorneys on the phone for a reaction to this development.
BASH: Okay, thank you so much. Let's go to the White House where Priscilla Alvarez is there with her reporting. Priscilla, I'm guessing you're hearing
the same thing from the people in the building behind you that we just heard from Paula, that they had no heads up.
PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And we have reached out to the White House for comment on this announcement. We
haven't heard back yet. But what we have heard repeatedly from this White House when the Justice Department has taken actions, including actions
involving the President's son, is that they work independently and that there is often not a notification ahead of time to the White House in terms
of what they are going to do, and that is what happened today, according to a Justice Department official who told our colleagues.
Now, I will also note that as these legal proceedings have played out, the White House Press Secretary has repeatedly said that this is a matter for
Hunter Biden's attorneys, often saying that the president supports his son and loves his son, but directing all matters to them in the Justice
Department. And I just want to read to you something that she said in late July as all of this with the plea deal was unfolding.
Karine Jean-Pierre said at the time, quote, Hunter Biden is a private citizen, and this was a personal matter for him. As we have said, the
President, the First Lady, they love their son and they support him as he continues to rebuild his life. And I repeat that statement to you because
that is likely what we would hear from the White House as they have faced questions about Hunter Biden and these legal proceedings.
Again, they were not notified ahead of time of this action by the Justice Department. We have asked them for comment. They have not replied yet. But
again, this is a White House that is facing increasing pressure when it comes to the President's son, Hunter Biden. Republicans have slammed the
President over all of these legal proceedings.
And also, so much is flirted with a potential impeachment inquiry. Now, when that has come up, the White House stance has been that it is baseless,
that the focus should be in Congress on the American people. But all of this to say that that criticism is ramping up, this will likely fuel
Republicans and what they have to say about Hunter Biden and these ongoing legal proceedings.
BASH: Okay, Priscilla, thank you so much. She says it could fuel the Republicans, but the other way to look at it is that it could keep
Republicans at bay because now that you do have a special counsel, which a lot of Republicans were calling for, A and B, I can't remember if it was
Paula or one of our other reporters, maybe you guys are making this point, that while the special counsel is doing his work, he can't -- he's unlikely
to talk to Congress. And it's unlikely for them to get the information that they're working on.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, PBS HOUR: Right, and that's what's so interesting is that prior to this announcement, the Justice
Department was saying that Weiss was prepared to testify to Congress as early as September. As soon as they came back from their August recess that
the Justice Department said that they wanted to do that specifically because of the assertions that Republican lawmakers were making about his
authority to conduct his wide investigation into Hunter Biden. And that he wanted to directly address that as soon as he could, assuming that they had
a deal that would have gone forward with Hunter Biden's lawyers.
That fell apart, but we were still expecting him to potentially testify to Congress when they came back. Now, as you said, Dana, that's probably not
going to happen for quite some time as he has these new authorities.
ELI STOKOLS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: Well, I mean, I think it's just there's so much unknown here about how this is going to play out,
how long it's going to take. Obviously, are they expanding the investigation? Is this more of a formality? Is this just something that
will enable him to write a final report and keep this away from Congress?
There's some chatter, I think, on the right already about are they trying to keep this out of the, you know, the House Oversight Committee and keep
this, you know, if not exactly a DOJ with an independent special counsel, still not with House Republicans running the show here, but remains to be
seen how long this goes and whether it is wrapped up in a couple of months or, you know, if this expands and metastasizes into something that we're
dealing with into next year, I know the White House is not going to talk about it.
They're going to continue to refer people to Hunter's attorney. They're going to refer people to the Justice Department now to the special
counsel's office. And Joe Biden is going to continue talking about Bidenomics, right? So, to the extent that this dominates coverage and that
Republicans get riled up and that they want to focus on this and keep making allegations that at this point have not been substantiated with
evidence, the White House, maybe it's all they can do, but they say, okay, that's fine. We're going to talk about pocketbook issues that affect real
Americans. I think that's where they're going.
WILLIAMS: You know, one point and this is sort of picking up on one chance at the folly of appointing special counsels to begin with is that the whole
enterprise is to take the stink of politics out of the legal system, that when you put a special counsel in, you are taking it out of the chain of
command of the Justice Department and politics goes away.
Do you really think now that Republicans or Congress or whomever else are going to now say everything is perfect and everything is above board simply
because David Weiss has this new designation? No, it's still going to be the arguments about conspiracy theories and the deep state fueling all of
this. I just don't know, when Jack Smith was appointed it was sort of the same thing. You're still going to get the criticisms and so I'm not quite
sure what's gained.
BASH: Let's go to Capitol Hill and to our Lauren Fox who is talking to Republicans and I'm guessing, will confirm the suspicions of Elliott that
Republicans aren't just taking their ball and going home.
LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are still awaiting any official reaction, Dana. Up here on Capitol Hill, it's recess.
Lawmakers are away from Washington right now, but one thing is clear, the timeline that Republicans have laid out over the last several months for a
potential impeachment in court has only intensified, and now, those calls are really likely to continue now even after this news as your panel is
pointing out. This doesn't really quell the suspicions of Republicans likely. In fact, it may just intensify some of them.
There is an open question of how this affects potential testimony of David Weiss on Capitol Hill. The expectation was he could come as soon as
September. They were trying to work out a potential date for him to testify. Now, there's a question of if you are a special counsel, would you
testify before lawmakers on Capitol Hill? The likely answer would be, no. So, that will only intensify Republicans who say they're trying to get
answers and they aren't getting them.
We should also just add some of the context of this. Back in the earlier parts of the summer. You had whistleblowers who were alleging that during
an October 2022 meeting, David Weiss had told people in the room that he had tried to become a special counsel and that he was denied that
distinction. Now, he later, pushed back on those allegations saying they were not true, writing in a letter to Lindsey Graham back in July that he
had never asked to be appointed a special counsel.
But that is one of the questions that Republicans are going to have. Why is this coming now? And I just want to note that I think that's important
context as we talk about how Republicans on the Hill are going to be thinking and responding to this, given the fact that impeachment inquiry is
really looming large right now.
BASH: Yeah, such an important point, and I'm so glad you brought that bit of context in about those IRS so-called whistleblowers saying that David
SOARES: You have been watching our special coverage there of David Weiss being -- being appointed there, a special counsel into the Hunter Biden
case. We'll stay across this coverage. We will take a short break. See you on the other side.
SOARES: Hello and welcome back to the show. Well, a few moments ago, we showed you live pictures of what we thought were protests in Quito after
the assassination of a presidential candidate there. But now we know those images were from Buenos Aires. The obelisks there wasn't very clear to make
out, but we apologize profusely for the confusion.
I'm gonna turn now to Russia's war on Ukraine and a new wave of missile strikes nationwide.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Air raid sirens there ringing out throughout Kyiv shortly before explosions rocked the capital city overnight. The mayor says falling debris hit a
children's hospital in a region further west. An official says an eight- year-old boy was killed in a Russian attack near his private home. And Ukraine says a hotel in Zaporizhzhya that was hit by Russian missiles on
Thursday was the site of a children's day camp. It was also used by the U.N. and various humanitarian organizations.
Well, as Ukraine tries to make a breakthrough in its counter offensive, Russian state media are making their own push on the airwaves. Their take
on the Ukrainian offensive is that it's already dead in the water. Matthew Chance has the story.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is how the Russians say they're taking advantage of Ukraine's flagging counteroffensive. Latest
defense ministry pictures showing Russian forces advancing on land and in the air. We can't independently verify Russian claims, but officials here
insist they're now making daily military gains on the battlefield.
IGOR KONASHENKOV, SPOKESPERSON, RUSSIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY (through translator): During the day, seven counter-attacks from armed forces of
Ukraine were successfully repelled in Kharkiv region.
CHANCE (voice-over): On the country's flagship news show, they're already branding Ukraine's counteroffensive a bust. Looping videos of Ukrainian
troops in Western-supplied kit getting bogged down, ridiculing what they say are Western excuses for Ukraine's failure. At first, Westerners
justified Ukrainian failures with the weather. General Frost, the anchor says. Later, it was General Mudd. And now it's the turn of General Thistle.
The Russian army is now aided by the greenery. This insurmountable obstacle is why the Ukrainian army is failing to push forward, supposedly, she says.
In fact, Ukraine says it is making progress, albeit slow. Without the weapons, it says it desperately needs to overcome heavily defended Russian
lines. And it's going on the offense, stepping up drone attacks on Russian shipping and other targets to pressure Moscow and disrupt supply lines,
bringing home Russia's special military operation like never before.
UNKNOWN: We're all shocked that it's happening here, says this woman in Moscow. But we're not politicians, so we don't want to comment, she told
CHANCE (voice-over): I've got two kids and want to stop being ashamed that they were born in this time, says another. Her face blurred to protect her
identity. But on the battlefield, Ukraine's slow progress is fueling Kremlin hopes that a turning point may soon be reached and that patience
with Ukraine in the West may eventually run out. Matthew Chance, CNN Moscow.
SOARES: And we'll be back after this short break.
SOARES: Welcome back, everyone. Let's catch up on the headlines for you this hour. Searchers are racing against time to find wildfire victims on
the Hawaiian island of Maui. The death toll there jumped to 55 overnight. Much of the historic town of Lahaina was virtually wiped off the map and
will likely take years to rebuild. Winds are dying down and some brief showers are expected.
Asylum seekers have been removed from the barge where they were living in Southern England after alleging bacteria which was discovered in the water.
The U.K. government's plan to use the Bibby Stockholm barge as housing for asylum seekers has been plagued by controversy, including concerns over
Former South African President Jacob Zuma is once again a free man. He returned to jail early on Friday to comply with the ruling that his medical
parole had been unlawful. But Zuma was released after only an hour on Friday under a mission process to address prison overcrowding. He began
serving a 15-month sentence in July of 2021 on contempt charges.
It is a first step in a complex deal to win the freedom of five Americans detained in Iran. Tehran has released four of them from prison and placed
them under house arrest, according to the White House. The fifth prisoner was already under home confinement. A source says part of the deal caused
for $6 billion in Iranian funds frozen in South Korea to be freed up. The U.S. Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, says he's cautiously optimistic.
Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: There is more work to be done to actually bring them home. My belief is that this is the beginning of the
end of their nightmare.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Whether it's also expected to be a prisoner swap component to that deal, of course, we'll stay on top of that. Well, this year's Women's World
Cup is guaranteed to have a first-time champion. Japan had been the last previous winning remaining in the field before losing to Sweden 2-1 earlier
today. Sweden also eliminated the United States, another former champion, back in the round of 16. Sweden now faced Spain in the semi-finals. That's
happening on Tuesday. Spain were able to advance after edging past the Netherlands in a 2-1 win.
And get this, a koala in Australia, of course, is predicting that her home country will knock out Team France in the Women's Quarter Final on
Saturday. Take a look as Matilda, as she's called, sits next to the Australian scarf. The wildfire sanctuary, says Matilda's required beauty
rest, may keep her from watching the match.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HEIDI PATRICK, CURRUMBIN WILDLIFE SANCTUARY WILDLIFE OFFICER: She would love to watch the game up in Brisbane, but she is a koala and she does need
her 20 hours of sleep. So, she's gonna try her best.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Don't we all? We'll just have to wait and see whether Matilda's prediction of course, come true on Saturday. And that does it for me. Thank
you very much for watching ONE WORLD. I'm Isa Soares in London. I'll be back with more news in one hour. But first, "AMANPOUR" is up next. Do stay
right here with CNN.