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One World with Zain Asher

Senior Democrats In Washington Say President Biden Could Be In Real Trouble; Hunter Biden Talks Behind A Closed Door Session To Republicans; Senator Mitch McConnell Announces He Will Step Down In November As Senate Leader; Republican Lawmakers In Alabama Scramble To Push Through Legislation That Would Protect IVF Providers. Aired 12-1p ET

Aired February 28, 2024 - 12:00   ET



BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: All right, you are looking at live shot of President Biden leaving Walter Reed Medical Facility where he

is just departing from his routine annual physical.

The 81-year-old is departing from a physical that is likely to be his last before November and re-election here in the United States with a lot of

focus on the President's age, obviously the oldest sitting U.S. President.

And so we will be watching and waiting for what we may hear from his physician, Dr. Kevin O'Connor. He'd previously issued a report on the

President's health following previous physicals. We will bring you any information once we get that.

Hello, everyone. I'm Bianna Golodryga. Zain is off today. You are watching "One World". And we begin with warning bells about the U.S. election.

Senior Democrats in Washington say Joe Biden could be in real trouble. They are pointing to Tuesday's primary vote in Michigan, where more than 100,000

Democrats cast a protest vote of uncommitted to tell the President that they oppose his policy in the Israel-Hamas war.

Now, in a swing state like Michigan, Mr. Biden will need to get as many of those voters back on his side to win the general election in the fall.

Biden's campaign says he shares the view of those uncommitted voters that ending the violence in Gaza is a key goal. But Senate Democrats say the

President needs to do more to keep his coalition intact.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Are you worried that these voters are not going to show up in November?

DICK DURBIN, U.S. SENATE DEMOCRAT: I am worried. It's important that the people who voted uncommitted in the Democratic primary be persuaded to join

us in November. We need them for victory.

RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, U.S. SENATE DEMOCRAT: I'm deeply concerned about this election and about holding together our coalition because there are a lot

of issues that need to be addressed. We can take nothing for granted. This will be a hard-fought election, and we need every single vote.


GOLODRYGA: For more on this, let's go to our Senior Political Reporter Stephen Collinson. So, Stephen, we should note the Democratic primary

voters have always had the option of marking their ballot uncommitted in the past. In 2012, Barack Obama suffered 20,000 defections on his own.

But given the circumstances now and the narrow numbers that we see coming out of this swing state for Republicans and Democrats both, every vote

counts, as we heard from those Democratic senators. Walk us through what stood out to you, the outline number obviously being that this was a

decisive win for President Biden.

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN POLITICS SENIOR REPORTER: That's right. But this is also a big number -- a hundred thousand. It's not something that can be

ignored by Democrats. This state, Michigan, could well be the state that decides the destiny of the White House.

Donald Trump won it in 2016. Joe Biden won it in 2020. Each time, the margin was very narrow, and it looks like it's going to be very narrow. It

doesn't mean that a hundred thousand people voted uncommitted, that these Democrats won't show up to vote for Joe Biden or that they'll prefer to

vote for Donald Trump in November.

But given the margin is likely to be very small, it doesn't take that many not to show up for Biden to be in real trouble. The caveat, of course, is

that Trump has his own problems with his own coalition. Once again, 30 percent of the Republican vote voted for Nikki Haley.

That's a lot of people who don't want Donald Trump to be their Republican nominee in a Republican primary. I think the one thing I would say for the

Biden White House and the campaign is that this happened eight months before the general election.

There is time for the President to try and mend some of these issues, for some outreach to the Arab-American progressive communities that have been

particularly outraged by his support for Israel and Gaza. But these are serious issues, and I don't think they're actually confined to Michigan. I

think we see them playing out in some other swing states, too.

GOLODRYGA: Yeah. And bringing this war to an end is, for the most part, out of President Biden's control and out of his hands, as well. He can publicly

pressure the Israelis. He can publicly pressure for a ceasefire, which entails a deal to release the hostages. But that, for the most part, is not

something that he can have control over.


There is time, as you know, that there are months away from the election. But you write in your piece this morning on that one primary in

February will not dictate the results of the general election.

And it's impossible to predict how Biden will fare in a rematch against Trump, who seems even worse fit for voters of Arab descent after suggesting

that he try to reimpose his Muslim travel ban in a second term. That's not suggesting that these voters would turn to Trump. The concern here,

Stephen, is that they may just not show up at all.

COLLINSON: Right. And the situation in Gaza, the deaths of more than 20,000 civilians, this is something that is deeply felt in a place like Michigan,

where there is a huge Arab-American community, which normally votes overwhelmingly for the Democrats. It's the kind of moral issue that can

make somebody a single-issue voter and that is, I think, a big danger for Biden.

To your point about the Middle East and how it's all out of the President's control, right now, I think you could argue that the political interests of

President Joe Biden in ending this war and those of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel in prolonging it are going in exactly the opposite


It's clear, even more so after last night, that it's a political imperative for the President, for the hostilities to end soon and the civilian carnage

in Gaza to stop. There are a lot of people who think that Prime Minister Netanyahu wants to keep the hostilities going just because of his own

powerless political position in his coalition, his far-right coalition and in his cabinet, and to forestall the possibility of an election that he

could lose.

So, you have quite a fascinating political dynamic playing out between two characters, President Biden and Prime Minister Netanyahu, who have known

one another for decades, who have sparred with one another. And at the beginning of this conflict, Biden literally flew across to Israel and

embraced Netanyahu and Israel after the Hamas attacks in October, it seems their political interests are diverging quite sharply right now.

GOLODRYGA: Yeah and President Biden is still making it a top priority for a ceasefire that would allow for humanitarian aid to go into Gaza and for

those hostages to come home, as well, noting that perhaps one could come as soon as Monday. But it doesn't seem that Israel and Hamas are as optimistic

about that prospect right now. Stephen Collinson, thank you.

COLLINSON: Thank you.

GOLODRYGA: Well, sticking in the region, in the nearly five months since the October 7th terror attacks in southern Israel, nearly 30,000

Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, mostly civilians. That is according to the Ministry of Health there.

Israel's response has been overwhelming and sustained across the Gaza Strip. Most of the enclave's 2.2 million people have been displaced, much

of the infrastructure destroyed.

The U.N. says over half a million people there are, quote, one step away from famine. And yet the leadership of Hamas remains at large. And the

Israeli Prime Minister's office says today that there are 99 living hostages still being held captive somewhere in Gaza.

Both Israel and Hamas sending mixed signals about an imminent hostage deal that would result in a longer term ceasefire, despite President Biden's

unexpected announcement this week that a deal could happen as soon as Monday.

Well, with communications blackouts and restrictions on journalists, it's difficult to get a real true picture of what's happening in Gaza. CNN's

Jomana Karadsheh and a team of CNN journalists decided to document in unprecedented detail one attack that killed more than half of the members

of one family.

They found a mystery that took weeks to unravel. And we must warn you, parts of her report contain disturbing and graphic images.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Every patient here has a harrowing account of survival. But it is the story of this one young woman

that, as you'll see, would become key to uncovering an atrocity that until today had been hidden in the dark.

They're all gone. I have no one left, 18-year-old Roba Abu-Jibba told us. She offered few clues as to what had happened to her and her family. But a

week later, a cameraman working for CNN in Gaza was out filming, as he's done every day for months. He was one of the first to arrive in this area

just after Israeli forces had withdrawn.

It was on that day, January 14th, when he stumbled upon the scene of a horrific incident. At first, we had no idea this was connected to Roba,

until they start pulling documents from the rubble. It's Gaza's grim routine of trying to identify the dead.


Then, the startling discovery. Later that day, CNN Producer Abeer Salman screens the footage and sees Roba's I.D. This is where she was critically

injured, and the bodies are the remains of her family. The images tell of the brutal force that was unleashed here, and people speak of a massacre of


With the stench of death in the air, they pull body after body. Tiny corpses carried on blankets. And in the corner, a woman sits, covered in

flies, in her decomposing arms, a young man. But we still didn't really know what had happened here.

UNKNOWN: It would be really helpful, especially if we could go through the satellite images.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): This grisly discovery was the start of a weeks-long CNN investigation, complicated by Israel's ban on journalists entering Gaza

without IDF escort and frequent communication blackouts.

We tracked down seven survivors, gathered video, satellite imagery, Israeli military press releases.

We verified social media content and spoke with ballistic and forensic experts, allowing us to piece together the events of a bloody night of

death and horror amid intense and indiscriminate Israeli military fire that left civilians dead.

We started by asking the IDF about the incident, giving them pictures and exact coordinates. The military said their troops had come under fire from

that location on January 4th and responded with a quote precise strike to remove an imminent threat and cannot confirm if the bodies are linked to

that strike.

Our investigation raises serious questions about the IDF's actions that day. This is where it all unfolded. This is a wide area of Salahuddin

Street. Before the war, it was an industrial zone.

But as Israel designated Salahuddin the evacuation corridor out of northern Gaza, business owners allowed hundreds of displaced people to stay in these


All of a sudden, in early January, those families could hear war creeping closer. This was the scene filmed by a journalist in nearby Maghazi. The

families decided they would leave when morning came, but it was Israeli forces who arrived first. Eyewitnesses say the warehouses on both sides of

the road we recreated in this 3D model were repeatedly struck from the ground and air.

Families sheltering in the warehouses on the left broke holes through back walls, escaping into the farmlands. For the warehouse on the right, there

was no escape for most. They were surrounded. They say the Israelis shot at anyone who tried to walk out.

SUMAYA ABU JIBBA, SURVIVOR OF ISRAELI ATTACK (through translator): My son, along with other relatives, started getting our belongings out the door. A

bomb exploded. They struck him in the heart. He bled, ran, fell to the ground and died. Our relative and another guy were also killed. Everyone

was screaming and calling for an ambulance.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): Roba's mother, Sumaya, helplessly watched as her son Hamdi died in front of her eyes. But nothing could have prepared her

for what would come next.

ABU JIBBA (through translator): As we were calling for help, another bomb hit. We were all knocked unconscious. When I woke up, I found my children

and relatives killed. Roba was hanging between life and death.

KARADSHEH: What knocked them unconscious was likely a massive 2000-pound bomb, according to three ballistic experts who analyzed images of the

crater. The blast's shockwave is so powerful that it can rupture the lungs, leaving victims to drown in their own blood.

Two forensic experts who examined our video tell us this shockwave is what they believe killed the Abu Jibbas. Roba's sister Diana survived. She ran

out, frantically searching for help.

DIANA ABU JIBBA, SURVIVOR OF ISRAELI ATTACK: The Israelis fired a bomb at us. I saw my siblings dying. Hamdi died in my arms. I went out to get an

ambulance. The tank was close to us. We started running. They started shooting at me.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): While the Israeli military says these allegations of shooting at civilians are baseless, Sumaya and three of her children

barely made it out. They wanted to get help for the others but couldn't return, left not knowing if loved ones they'd left alive would survive

their injuries.

Five of the Abu Jibba children were killed, the youngest among them Ezzain. He was 10 and Ali, 13. Their bodies lay rotting in the warehouse. What the

family didn't know was that Roba was still alive, bleeding for four long days among the dead. After a January 7th interview, we tried to find her

again. She was lost in the chaos of overwhelmed hospitals.


After weeks of searching, we found her, miles away in Rafah, receiving treatment.

ROBA ABU JIBBA (through translator): The Israelis were outside shooting and started firing bombs. We were all injured and fell to the ground. The metal

roof and wood collapsed on us. My mother and brother came to take me, but I couldn't get up because of the injuries to my arm and eyes. So, she left to

get an ambulance.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): With Roba desperate for help and her little brother Ali fighting for his life for days, Israeli forces were right outside.

Satellite images from January 5th, one day after the attack, show IDF vehicles by the warehouse in freshly bulldozed ground as close as 70 meters

from where the siblings lay.

ABU JIBBA: My family members who were still alive left. A relative and I stayed. They started bulldozing the place and dumped it on top of the dead

people -- my siblings.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): She and her relative felt they had to get out of this shelter-turned-morgue. They decided to make a daring escape. They were

questioned by soldiers about links to Hamas before making it to the relative safety of a local hospital.

We cannot confirm the Israeli military's claim that their troops came under fire. And yet survivors we spoke to tell us there were no militants in the

warehouses. Some witnesses say they heard what they called resistance fire. And local journalists that day reported clashes in the area.

CNN found that the Israeli military has separately alleged there were Hamas weapons facilities nearby, but never linked them to the warehouse where the

Abu Jibbas sheltered, which we've highlighted here on this IDF map. However it began, there's no doubt the Israeli military used ferocious firepower.

The size of the bomb was by its nature indiscriminate. And survivors say they were not warned to leave by the military, as it claims it always tries

to do. In response to extensive questions from CNN, the IDF claimed it told civilians to leave in the days before the deadly incident, but provided no

evidence when asked.

The first time the military publicly said this part of Gaza was no longer a safe evacuation route came in this post on X at 11:28 A.M. on January 4th,

hours after the attack.

ABU JIBBA (through translator): They knew we were civilians. Their drones saw everything. We had big white flags up. They said it's a safe area. The

south is safe. We came to the south for nothing. They bombed us and killed our children in the south.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): The events of that January day, only a small window into the vast undocumented suffering that the Israeli military has

inflicted on civilians in Gaza, with tens of thousands already killed, leaving so many, like the Abu Jibba family, grieving, traumatized, with no

recourse to justice and accountability.

ABU JIBBA: They died in front of me. I couldn't do anything. We would laugh, be silly and play together. Now, those memories are gone.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, London.





GOLODRYGA: Republicans on Capitol Hill have been trying to question Joe Biden's son, Hunter, for months now. Well, right now, they are finally

getting to do it. Hunter Biden is talking behind a closed door session today to Republicans who are trying to prove Joe Biden was involved in his

son's overseas business dealings.

The President's son had refused to testify in private, but relented after Republicans agreed to release a full transcript of the testimony so his

statements could not be taken out of context. Moments ago, Democratic lawmakers spoke to the media.


ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ, U.S. HOUSE DEMOCRAT: What we just witnessed over the last hour was, I think, a deep-sea fishing expedition because the

Republican case has completely fallen apart over the last several weeks.

ERIC SWALWELL, U.S. HOUSE DEMOCRAT: They've got nothing. They've never accepted Joe Biden as the President. And now, in this last Hail Mary

effort, they're going to try and pull off something. I promise you, past this prologue, it's not going to work.


GOLODRYGA: CNN's Annie Grayer is on Capitol Hill today tracking the story for us. So, Annie, no one should confuse Hunter's accepting to testify

today with giving in at any of the questions and concerns that Republicans say they have.

In fact, the defiance remains in his opening statement, which was obtained by "The New York Times". He said, quote, you have trafficked in innuendo,

distortion and sensationalism, all the while ignoring the clear and convincing evidence staring you in the face. Those are his prepared

remarks. What more are we learning about what he's saying behind closed doors?

ANNIE GRAYER, CNN REPORTER: Well, this interview has been going on for hours, and we expect it to go through most of the day, because this is a

really high-stakes interview for Republicans. They have made Hunter Biden and his foreign business dealings central to their impeachment inquiry into

his father, Joe Biden, but so far have been unable to draw any direct connection.

And Hunter has maintained unequivocally that his father wasn't involved, and as you mentioned from his opening statement, reiterated that again,

today. But, you know, it's interesting, as we are seeing members, both Democrat and Republican, who are sitting in on this interview, come out and

talk to us as this interview is ongoing, they each have kind of a different message from what they have witnessed.

Democrats point out that Hunter is just the latest in a string of Biden family members and business associates to say that Joe Biden was not

involved in any of these business dealings, and they call this impeachment inquiry a waste of time and say it's time to wrap it up, especially with

government funding being such an important issue.

But Republicans are maintaining that they have a lot of questions that Hunter Biden has to answer for. Republican Congresswoman Nancy Mace just

came out and spoke to us and said that while Hunter is answering questions, he's not pleading the fifth on anything.

He is being, in her words, quote, dishonest and defiant. So, we are hearing from members in real time about Hunter's closed-door deposition, and we'll

keep you posted throughout the day about how this progresses.

GOLODRYGA: Yeah, we'll get back to you if anything develops out of that. Annie Grayer on Capitol Hill. Thank you. Well, as I told you at the top of

the show, President Biden has just received his annual physical at the military hospital near Washington. He's faced persistent questions about

his age, stamina and ability to serve a second term.

At 81, President Biden is the oldest President to have held the office. The White House says that it will release a summary of the President's

assessment later today. CNN's Arlette Saenz joins me now from the White House with more. So Arlette, any other situation, this would just be a

normal physical.

Obviously, there's nothing normal about this, given that you have the oldest President to hold office and you have an upcoming election and a lot

of concern about his age, not only from Republican voters, but from Democrats, too. What's the White House saying?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's right, Bianna. President Biden spent about two and a half hours at Walter Reed Medical

Center for this routine annual physical exam. It was expected his physician, Dr. Kevin O'Connor, would conduct the exam, which would be the

third of his presidency.

He had a physical back in 2021 and another one back in 2023 when Dr. Kevin O'Connor in a summary afterwards said that President Biden was healthy,

vigorous and fit to successfully execute the duties of the presidency.


But this all comes as the questions about the President's age, his physical and mental fitness have been in the spotlight in the 2024 campaign. His

Republican rivals have tried to use the President's age against him.

You also have seen the President's mental acuity brought into the spotlight after after Special Counsel Robert Hur's recent report where he

characterized the President as a well-meaning elderly man with poor memory issues.

The President has shot back at that character -- characterization, arguing that he is well-meaning, that he is elderly, but that his age also gives

people experience. And that is something that the White House and his campaign have consistently pointed to as they've tried to address these

questions about the President's age.

Now, a recent poll by Quinnipiac found that only a third of registered voters believe that the President has the physical and the mental fitness

to serve out a second term. So, it's certain that this will continue to be a question heading into the 2024 campaign.

This physical today could give voters a little bit of insight into how the President's health is doing. The White House has said that they will

release a summary of the physical that was conducted.

And we're actually expecting to see President Biden in about an hour and a half here at the White House when he delivers remarks relating to trying to

reduce violence, reduce crime in American communities.

So, we will see from the President, see if he has anything to say about how his physical went. But we'll also be waiting for that doctor's summary a

little bit later in the afternoon.

GOLODRYGA: Yeah, I can't help but notice the President walking out of Walter Reed with a little bit of pep in his step and obviously putting on

his signature aviator sunglasses, as well. Arlette Saenz of the White House, thank you.

Well, ranchers in North Texas tell CNN they had no time to evacuate their animals as the flames from a huge wildfire continue to burn out of control.

At last check, the so-called Smokehouse Creek fire had charred more than half a million acres or 200,000 hectares. That makes it the second largest

fire in Texas history. And it's moving at a rate of three acres per second.

Evacuations are currently underway and those who can't leave are huddling in shelters. Forecasters say rain and possibly snow in the area could give

a helping hand. But by Friday, dry air -- hot dry air and wind could fuel the fire again.

Let's bring in CNN Meteorologist Derek Van Dam with a look at what those firefighters are up against. Derek, in the coming days, the weather will

certainly not be on their side. As we noted, this is the second largest wildfire in Texas history. What more do we know about when it can possibly

be contained?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Bianna, when it was at the peak of its existence -- we're talking about when the fire exploded overnight, we saw

extreme and very erratic fire behavior. The personnel on the ground fighting this fire had very complex wind patterns and I'll show you that in

just one moment.

But here's a visual example of just that. How quickly the fire comes up and over this roadway, jumps the road and starts additional fires. This is the

rapid spread, the erratic behavior that is associated with this particular fire. This is, of course, the Smokehouse Creek fire.

And there was actually some interesting visuals, too, to show the magnitude, the size of these fires burning across the Texas Panhandle --

that is a look from a jet as it was landing. It just shows you how far, as the eye can see, these fires are ongoing.

Now look at this. This is zero percent containment. That is so important. That means they have absolutely no handle and this is an uncontrolled fire

and it continues to spread and get larger. In fact, as we've mentioned, over 200,000 hectares burned so far and that is probably a conservative

estimate because that was updated roughly about six hours ago and it continues to spread.

In fact, a closer look from this incident management page that we found shows that seven counties across the Texas Panhandle have been impacted by

the Smokehouse Creek fire. But what's notable, this white line right here, is the state of Oklahoma.

Of course, there's no boundaries for wildfires, but nonetheless, this is so large that it's overspread across two separate states and seven counties as

it stands right now.

This is also interesting. You can see the fires from space. We had a cold front that dropped south, complicating the firefighting efforts. As it did

so, it changed the wind directions. They were gusting roughly 50 miles per hour from the west to east before the cold front passed through.

Then it changed it from the northerly direction. I'll clear that out and you can see the change in the fire's direction as well as that cold front

moved through. So, that complicated the firefighting efforts on the ground as that wind shift took place.

The smoke really inundating the horizon there, Amarillo, another 24 hours of that before the winds change to another southerly direction. And Bianna,

that means the potential for warmer weather and more erratic fire behavior by the weekend.


GOLODRYGA: Just thinking about all of those firefighters battling this monster of a fire and really, really just disturbing seeing that it's zero

percent contained at this point. Derek Van Dam, you'll be watching this for us. Thank you.

VAN DAM: Thanks.

GOLODRYGA: Well, coming up, Democrats issue an open dare to Republicans, asking them to publicly state where they stand on the IVF issue. Details on

a new bill being introduced just ahead.


GOLODRYGA: We're going to take you now to Washington, where Mitch McConnell, the longest serving Senate leader in history, is announcing that

he is stepping down as GOP leader in November. Let's listen in.


MITCH MCCONNELL, U.S. SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADER: -- process. Perhaps, this is God's way of reminding you of your own life's journey, to prioritize the

impact of the world that we will all inevitably leave behind.

I turned 82 last week. The end of my contributions are closer than I'd prefer. My career in the United States Senate began amidst the Reagan

revolution. The truth is, when I got here, I was just happy if anybody remembered my name. President Reagan called me Mitch O'Donnell. Close

enough, I thought.

My wife, Elaine, and I got married on President Reagan's birthday, February 6th. It's probably not the most romantic thing to admit, but Reagan meant a

lot to both of us.

For 31 years, Elaine has been the love of my life, and I'm eternally grateful to have her by my side. I think back to my first days in the

Senate with deep appreciation for the time that helped shape my view of the world.

I'm unconflicted about the good within our country and the irreplaceable role we play as the leader of the free world. It's why I worked so hard to

get the National Security Package passed earlier this month. Believe me, I know the politics within my party at this particular moment in time. I have

many faults. Misunderstanding politics is not one of them.

That said, I believe more strongly than ever that America's global leadership is essential to preserving the shining city on a hill that

Ronald Reagan discussed. As long as I'm drawing breath on this Earth, I will defend American exceptionalism.


So, as I've been thinking about when I would deliver some news to the Senate, I always imagined a moment when I had total clarity and peace about

the sunset of my work. A moment when I'm certain I have helped preserve the ideals I so strongly believe. That day arrived today.

My goals when I was narrowly elected to the Senate back in 1984 were fairly modest. Do a good job for the people of Kentucky and convince them that by

doing so they might rehire me for a second term. That was it.

That was the plan. If you would have told me 40 years later that I would stand before you as the longest-serving Senate leader in American history,

frankly, I would have thought you'd lost your mind.

I have the honor of representing Kentucky in the Senate longer than anyone else in our state's history. I just never could have imagined, never could

have imagined that happening when I arrived here in 1984 at 42. I'm filled with heartfelt gratitude and humility for the opportunity.

But now it's 2024. I'm now 82. As Ecclesiastes tells us, to everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven. To serve

Kentucky in the Senate has been the honor of my life. To lead my Republican colleagues has been the highest privilege.

But one of life's most underappreciated talents is to know when it's time to move on to life's next chapter. So, I stand before you today, Mr.

President, and my colleagues to say this will be my last term as Republican leader of the Senate.

I'm not going anywhere anytime soon. However, I'll complete my job my colleagues have given me until we select a new leader in November and they

take the helm next January.

I'll finish the job the people of Kentucky hired me to do as well, albeit from a different seat and I'm actually looking forward to that. So, it's

time for me to think about another season.

I love the Senate. It's been my life. There may be more distinguished members of this body throughout our history, but I doubt there were any

with any more admiration for the Senate.

After all this time, I still get a thrill walking into the Capitol and especially on this venerable floor, knowing that we, each of us, have the

honor to represent our states and do the important work of our country.

But farther time remains undefeated. I'm no longer the young man sitting in the back hoping colleagues would remember my name. It's time for the next

generation of leadership.

As Henry Clay said in this very body in 1850, the Constitution of the United States was not made merely for the generation that then existed, but

for posterity, unlimited, undefined, endless, perpetual posterity.

So, time rolls on. There'll be a new custodian of this great institution next year. I won't surprise you to know I intend to turn this job over to a

Republican majority leader. I have full confidence in my confidence to choose my replacement and lead our country forward. There'll be other times

to reminisce. I'm immensely proud of the accomplishments I've played some role in obtaining for the American people.


Today is not the day to discuss all of that, because as I said earlier, I'm not going anywhere anytime soon. There are many challenges we must meet to

deliver for the American people, and each will have my full effort and attention. I still have enough gas in my tank to thoroughly disappoint my

critics, and I intend to do so with all the enthusiasm with which they've become accustomed.

So, to my colleagues, thank you for entrusting me with our success. It's been an honor to work with each of you. There'll be plenty of time to

express my gratitude in greater detail as I sprint towards the finish line which is now in sight. I yield the floor.


GOLODRYGA: With that, the end of an era and a standing ovation from both sides of the aisle as Mitch McConnell makes news and says that he will no

longer be serving as Senate leader.

The longest serving Senate leader in U.S. history will be stepping down from that role in November. He plans to serve out his Senate term, he said,

which ends in January 2027. But no doubt this is a significant moment for the man who just turned 82 years old last week.

He said that out of all of his contributions, he said, "The end of my contributions are now closer than I would prefer," acknowledging that it's

"the end of an era and time for new leadership".

He was first elected to the Senate to represent the state of Kentucky in 1984. He then became the Senate Republican leader in 2006, then on to the

Senate majority leader from 2015 to 2021 and has since been Senate minority leader.

Clearly, Annie Grayer, I want to bring you into this conversation. There have been some concerns about McConnell's health over the past few years

and some scares he's had, some tension, growing tension with President Trump at the time of his presidency.

And they continue now, even as Trump is ready to send the nomination for Republican candidate once again, coming up with a funding bill that is just

days away from a government shutdown.

Notable that Mitch McConnell said that global leadership is existential. I couldn't help but hear that and view that as a slight swipe at the

direction that some in the party at the behest and leadership of Donald Trump are moving in. But talk about the magnitude of this announcement

today and what that means for whoever replaces him in November.

GRAYER: The implications of this cannot be understated. This truly is an end of an era because McConnell is the longest serving leader in the Senate

for either party. And we heard in his floor speech that we just watched that McConnell plans to serve out his term.

But he said it is time for a new generation of leadership that he's accomplished everything that he can. And it's time for others in his party

to step up. But McConnell stepping down from leadership is so significant.

We've reported over the last year that he has had some health episodes where he has been seen to be frozen at times. There's been a lot of

questions about his health and his ability to serve. And then there's also the Trump factor.

Mitch McConnell has not spoken to Donald Trump since January 6th. And as Trump is the leading Republican candidate for President and continues to

have such a stronghold over the Republican Party, there have been over the years just real tensions between McConnell and Trump as Republicans try and

navigate through Congress.

And so, with McConnell stepping down, it really presents new questions about the stronghold that Trump has on Senate Republicans and what

direction they're going to go from here.

GOLODRYGA: I'm waiting to see any word from the White House and the President's responding to this news of Mitch McConnell, the longest serving

Senate leader in U.S. history, stepping down. Obviously, politically, they are on different sides of the aisle ideologically. But the two men do have

a long history and reportedly do work well together.

It will be interesting to see how this impacts any legislation and policies going forward for President Biden, as obviously we're up against a

government funding deadline, supplemental still hanging in the balance for foreign aid and an election looming.


Annie Grayer on Capitol Hill for us. Thank you. And we'll be right back.


GOLODRYGA: Democratic senators in the U.S. are trying to force a vote today on a bill to protect nationwide access to in vitro fertilization and put

Republicans on the record as to where they stand.

The measure comes more than a week after a controversial ruling from the Alabama Supreme Court that embryos are considered to be people under the

law. Republicans are now expected to block the bill. But when it comes to the Alabama Supreme Court ruling, some GOP lawmakers are still struggling

with their messaging.


TOMMY TUBERVILLE, U.S. SENATE REPUBLICAN: Yeah, I was all for it. We need to have more kids. We need to have an opportunity to do that. And I thought

this was the right thing to do.

UNKNOWN: IVF is used to have more children. And right now, IVF services are paused at some of the clinics in Alabama. Aren't you concerned that this

could impact people who are trying to have kids?

TUBERVILLE: Well, that's for that's for another conversation.


GOLODRYGA: That exchange was just painful to watch. Meantime, here's how former Democratic Senator Doug Jones described that response that you just



DOUG JONES, FORMER U.S. SENATE DEMOCRAT: He had no idea what that reporter was talking about. He may have thought it was intravenous or something with

Gatorade. I don't know. But he clearly had no idea. And that's just who he is.


GOLODRYGA: Republican lawmakers in Alabama are now scrambling to push through legislation that would protect IVF providers. CNN's Meg Tirrell



MEG TIRRELL, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Alabama, doctors like Janet McClaren-Bachneid have had to stop doing some of the most

rewarding parts of their jobs.

JANET MCLAREN BOUKNIGHT, ALABAMA FERTILITY SPECIALISTS: I will say yesterday, the highlight of my day was the two phone calls I made to tell

my patients they were pregnant. It was quickly followed by the realization that I won't make these phone calls next week.

TIRRELL (voice-over): Her clinic, Alabama Fertility Specialists, along with two others in the state, have paused in vitro fertilization

treatments, facing legal uncertainty from a state Supreme Court ruling earlier this month.

The court declared that frozen embryos are considered children, throwing the future of IVF, where eggs are fertilized in a lab to create embryos,

into question in Alabama.

MCLAREN BOUKNIGHT: To have to cancel a treatment is just devastating. Now, there is so much uncertainty about the safety of growing embryos and

storing embryos that the only thing that we thought was safe for us and our patients was to pause and hold until we got better guidance and better

protection to resume our treatments.


TIRRELL: Families and doctors here are looking to state lawmakers to pass legislation that protects IVF. In Birmingham, Health and Human Services

Secretary Javier Becerra met with patients and health care providers.

UNKNOWN: It's just been kind of a gut punch.

UNKNOWN: It is terrifying to think right now that I feel like my embryos are locked up.

TIRRELL (voice-over): Becerra tied the state court's ruling to the overturning of Roe v. Wade and said a solution needs to come at the federal


TAMMY DUCKWORTH, DEMOCRATIC SENATOR: Thank you everybody for being here.

TIRRELL: On Capitol Hill, Democratic Senators led by Tammy Duckworth have introduced legislation aimed to protect IVF. For moms like Rebecca

Matthews, who grew up in Alabama and is raising her family here, IVF was her path to a family with two kids after years of heartbreak.

REBECCA MATTHEWS, IVF PATIENT: I've spent the better half of nine years trying to create life and no one knows how to take care of their living

children or a frozen embryo better than a mama.


GOLODRYGA: Thanks to Meg Tirrell for that report. We want to go back to our breaking news. Just moments ago, Mitch McConnell announcing that he is

stepping down as Republican leader, the longest serving Senate leader in U.S. history. I want to get back to Annie Grayer about the implications

from this announcement.

Annie, he turned 82 last week. As you noted, there had been concerns about his health. He said today that what sparked his decision was the tragic

death of his sister-in-law.

No one wants to question his intentions on the timing right now, but it was clear between his age, between his health and between growing divisions

within the party and Donald Trump that it may not have been so much of a surprise that this is what we had today.

GRAYER: That's right. I think while it is still shocking because it is such a big moment for McConnell, who has been serving for so long and has been a

giant in the Senate, I think there are many around Capitol Hill who saw this coming at some point, given his age, given his health issues, and of

course, given his tense relationship with Donald Trump.

McConnell and Donald Trump haven't spoken since January 6, 2021. That feels like eons ago. Certainly, it is years ago. And as Trump continues to be the

leading candidate for President in the Republican primary, he has a very strong hold on the party, both nationally and on Capitol Hill.

So, McConnell, who had consistently gone up against Trump, whether it was about government funding or aid for Ukraine or even just how he spoke about

January 6th, these were big issues that kept coming up and kept undermining his leadership and his relationship with the rest of the Republican

conference in the Senate, which is kind of split in terms of how its allegiance is to Donald Trump.

So, now with McConnell stepping down as leader but not retiring, the next, of course, obvious and big question is who is going to take his place.

There are a number of lawmakers who kind of have been waiting in the wings for years because McConnell's had such a stronghold on that leadership

position. But now, I'm sure we're going to see a lot of jockeying in the coming days about who's going to fill that top spot for Senate Republicans.

GOLODRYGA: Yeah, John Thune's name comes to mind, among others who could fill that spot. But Stephen Collins is either big shoes to fill. We can't

understate the significance of this moment with McConnell announcing that he would be stepping down as Senate leader there.

And he will be there holding out until 2007, finishing his term. But if you can speak to the impact this has on, let's not talk about the Republican

Party right now, but on the Biden administration, because despite their differences ideologically on a lot of policy issues, specifically as it

pertains to foreign policy, they were more aligned.

COLLINSON: That's right. Mitch McConnell has long been an absolute scourge of the Democratic Party, including in his work to create the generational

majority in the Supreme Court.

But in recent years, as he's become more alienated from the Trump wing of his own party, he has found some areas to work together with the Democrats,

particularly in recent days, you've seen him on the same side as President Joe Biden on the issue of trying to get that $60 billion arms package for

Ukraine passed.

Mitch McConnell is actually a remnant of the old school Republican Party, which had a hawkish foreign policy and internationalist and globalist

outlook. He has much more in common with former President Ronald Reagan, who Republicans used to like to lionize for winning the Cold War against

the Soviet Union, then the Donald Trump foreign policy, America first transactional nature leading more towards President Vladimir Putin than

U.S. allies in Europe.


So, in that case, he's going to be missed. His problem has been, as Annie was saying, that a younger generation of Republican senators who are

increasingly pro Trump on foreign policy, people like J.D. Vance, for example, from Ohio, who's been a leading voice in trying to stop more aid

to Ukraine and was at the Munich Security Conference a couple of weeks ago, giving a very unwelcome message to Europeans.

There are more of those senators now coming into the party. And McConnell's power base was becoming increasingly eroded. But he has been at home and

abroad, a giant of Republican politics.

He will be remembered as one of the most influential members of Congress of the 20th century and the early 21st century. And I think he actually stands


If you look at the first 25 years of this century, alongside the four Presidents that have served and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, you could argue

that he is right up there in the most influential politicians in American life.

And because of that Supreme Court majority that he framed in concert with President Trump, which will endure for decades after he is gone, his

influence is going to continue for many years to come.

GOLODRYGA: Yeah. A brilliant tactician and strategist in terms of laying out the Republican policy in their ideology. But as you note, Stephen, that

that is frayed internally. There are divisions about the direction of this party. It was notable that in the rather short speech that he gave, he said

global leadership is essential.

And once again, hearken back to the days of President Reagan, where he just started his career there in the Senate. We will see how President Biden

responds. We have yet to hear from former President Trump. One would imagine this only emboldens his wing of the party.

More coverage on this breaking news that Mitch McConnell will be stepping down as Republican leader there in the Senate. He will remain out and serve

out his term until January of 2027, he said. Stephen Collinson, Annie Grayer, thank you.


GOLODRYGA: And that does it for this hour of "One World". I'm Bianna Golodryga. Thank you so much for watching. "Amanpour" is up next.