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Amtrak Cancels All Long Distance Trains Ahead Of Strike; Thousands Viewing Queen's Coffin After Royal Procession; Zelenskyy Shocked By Destruction In Newly Liberated City; Inside William And Harry's Roller Coaster Relationship. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired September 14, 2022 - 18:00   ET



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WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, Amtrak is canceling all long-distance train service ahead of a looming rail strike. High- stakes talks under way right now as unions and rail companies try to avert a major shutdown. Can the Biden administration help the two sides, strike a deal before the Friday deadline? The economic and the political stakes are enormous.

Also tonight, thousands of people are paying respects to Queen Elizabeth as she lies in state. The public viewing capping an extraordinary day of pageantry and mourning, including a show of unity by King Charles and his family as they walked in a royal procession with the queen's flag-draped coffin.

And Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits a newly liberated city and says he's shocked, shocked by the destruction Russian troops left behind. CNN is on the ground with the latest on Ukraine's gains, Russia's retreat and the state of the war.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Our top story tonight, a potential freight rail strike in the United States is already having a major impact just ahead of a Friday deadline. Amtrak shutting down all long-haul train routes as unions and freight rail companies try to hammer out a deal to avoid a work stoppage that could cripple fragile U.S. supply chains.

CNN's Pete Muntean is joining us from just outside the U.S. Labor Department here in Washington where negotiations are ongoing this hour. Pete, what's the latest?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a marathon, not a sprint, Wolf. We're on hour ten of talks here at the Labor Department. The Biden administration is insisting that all parties remain at the table to hammer out a deal, because we are only just now getting a glimpse into how serious this potential strike and freight rail shutdown could be.


MUNTEAN (voice over): It is the latest effort to put the brakes on a possible rail workers' strike that could deal a major blow to the economy. Bosses representing unions and railroads met with the labor secretary in a last-ditch effort to reach a deal by midnight Thursday. That's when 60,000 workers could walk off the job in solidarity with train engineers fighting sick time. A strike will mean freight rail, which makes up 40 percent of all freight in the U.S., will grind to a halt, impacting everything from parts for cars to fertilizer for farming.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Transportation is a big part of the cost of -- to the consumer, and I don't believe there's one person in the country that it won't affect.

MUNTEAN: Starting Thursday, some railroads will stop accepting shipments of grain, critical to feed livestock and potentially further driving up costs at supermarkets. Rail passengers will be impacted too. Amtrak is canceling all of its long-distance routes outside of the northeast corridor. In Chicago, 9 of 11 commuter lines will stop when a strike begins.

NIGEL JOHNSON, RAIL COMMUTER: I've been commuting from the suburbs to Chicago now for over 30 years. I could never remember this happening. It could take two hours if I'm driving. On the train, it's 40 minutes.

MUNTEAN: With midterm elections on the horizon, the pressure is on the Biden administration to reach a resolution. The president himself has called unions and employers, pushing them to resolve their differences. If a freight rail shutdown does happen, trucking companies say they cannot pick up the slack.

PATRICK ANDERSON, CEO, ANDERSON ECONOMIC GROUP: It starts with a very small impact, but it grows geometrically.


MUNTEAN (on camera): One more impact here, water treatment facilities are worried they will not be able to get chlorine, which is critical to cleaning water. It's often sent by rail, and they say that could mean boil water advisories nationwide, just one more unintended consequence of this possible freight rail shutdown. Wolf?

BLITZER: As I said, the stakes clearly are enormous. Pete Muntean, thank you very much, from the Labor Department.

Let's head over to the White House right now where President Biden has been personally working the phones just ahead of the strike deadline. Our Chief White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins is joining us right now. Kaitlan, so, what's the latest in these high-stakes talks between the labor secretary, Marty Walsh, and rail and union officials?


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. And if it's a little loud behind me, President Biden is actually just now landing on the south lawn of the White House on Marine One returning from a day in Detroit. But as he is landing here, it is similar to the scene that was happening when he left Washington earlier today, Wolf. That meeting is still happening, and still under way, as I speak right now, I am told, at the Labor Department between Labor Secretary Marty Walsh and union representatives and these railroad carriers.

Now, we saw these union representatives arrive at the Labor Department, Wolf, at about 9:00 A.M. this morning. So that means they have been meeting for hours, trying to come to an agreement, as officials here at the White House obviously have a great desire to see them hammer out some kind of agreement here, because they are worried about what it could potentially look like if they don't, and that the results could be catastrophic, as you have heard people are warning.

And so not only are they trying to put together this agreement before that deadline happens on Friday, they are desperately trying to do so right now, including these hours-long meetings that are happening at the Labor Department.

It's not just the labor secretary, Marty Walsh, who has been involved in this, so has the transportation secretary, Pete Buttigieg, the agriculture secretary, Tom Vilsack. Obviously, they have a huge stake in this game, Wolf, of what this is going to look like if they don't come to an agreement. But right now, as of 6:00 P.M., that meeting is still under way, according to an official, Wolf.

BLITZER: Kaitlan, how deeply involved is the president himself in the effort to present a strike?

COLLINS: PRESIDENT Biden has been very involved. He's been personally making calls to these unions, to these railroad carriers, trying to get an agreement here. He was asked yesterday if he could offer an update on it, and he said, no, which really just speaks to just how delicate these negotiations are, how they are trying so hard to come to an agreement here.

He's about to speak to reporters potentially as he climbs off Marine One and heads back into the White House. We'll see if he offers any update that he has gotten from his own cabinet secretaries throughout the day, Wolf. But it does speak to the level of just how intensely involved the White House is here that the president himself is making these phone calls.

BLITZER: All right. Kaitlan, stay with us. If the president says something, let us know. Right now, I want to get some more on the economic fallout from the potential strike. I want to bring in our Business Correspondent Rahel Solomon.

Rahel, how much of an impact would a halt in the freight rail system here in the United States have on the supply chain in the country and on the economy as a whole?

RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it would be a pretty significant impact, especially if we saw this strike last more than a week. So, this would be the third major supply shock to the supply chains. We're still reeling from the pandemic, of course, and that impact on supply chains. We're still reeling from Russia's invasion of Ukraine. So, this would be the third supply shock. And to put this in perspective, Wolf, about 28 percent of all freight travels via rail, so we're talking about things like coal, we're talking about things like cement, fertilizer, food.

So, in the short-term, Wolf, perhaps, if we're talking about more than a few days, we could see some shortages at grocery stores. We could see some shortages in terms of car parts for the automakers, which, of course, have already been dealing with supply chain issues for the last two years. If this lasts any longer than a few weeks, I am told by leading economists this becomes a macro issue. This becomes inflationary at a time when inflation is still hovering near 40-year highs.

Wolf, if you think about inflation as demand outpacing supply, you start to understand what we're talking about here, right? We're talking about getting hit on the supply side yet again. Mark Zandy, the chief economist of Moody's, telling me a short time ago, Wolf, look, this massively complicates things for the Fed. So, the impact is quite broad, if, in fact, we see a strike.

BLITZER: Yes. I've been told it could have a huge impact not only on inflation but possibly a recession in the United States as well.

Kaitlan, the White House says it's working on contingency plans in case this strike is unavoidable. What options is the -- are the -- is the administration exploring?

COLLINS: They're basically looking at everything, Wolf, and this is where those other cabinet secretaries that I was talking about are involved in this, the transportation secretary, Pete Buttigieg. Because, basically, what they're looking at is what is transported via this freight, what the impact would be that Rahel just laid out there if it actually comes to this with no agreement in sight by Friday. And so they've been looking at alternative options, maybe by shippers, by truck, by air freight, what other ways could they get this kind of stuff transported that is so critical to the supply chain and how could they get it transported safely? And so that's been a really big part of the conversation.

Obviously, they are hoping to come to an agreement. That's why they're still involved in these very lengthy, intensive discussions that Secretary Walsh is leading over at the Labor Department, where you saw Pete just a few moments ago, but they are coming up with a back-up plan in case this happens, because they are very worried about the havoc that it could wreak and so they want to make sure they have a contingency plan in place. Of course, whether or not that contingency plan is going to be able to make up for what they would be lacking if this actually comes to a head, that remains to be seen.

BLITZER: Rahel, which parts of the supply chain here in the U.S. and which commodities are at the greatest risk for disruption?

SOLOMON: It's a great question and it's something that a lot of economists are starting to crunch the numbers to try to figure out.


So, right off the bat, we're talking about the agricultural sector, right? We're talking about the food industry. Both in terms of actual food, in terms of food spoiling, but we're also talking about in terms of fertilizer getting to crops. So, that's going to be a pretty immediate impact, also the automotive industry, which we talked about, Wolf, already dealing with the supply chain.

So, they're going to get hit on two ways, right? They're going to get hit on one side in terms of the finished product, in terms of actual car deliveries, but also in terms of car parts, so they're going to get hit, and then energy is also going to get hit pretty significantly in terms of coal, right? You think about coal transporting via rail. Duke Energy, which provides electricity for over 8 million customers already sending out a statement saying that they are planning contingency plans if, in fact, we do see a strike.

So, the impact would be quite broad in terms of the economy but being felt most immediately by those industries.

BLITZER: Rahel Solomon, Kaitlan Collins, guys, thank you very, very much.

Just ahead, a majestic tribute to Queen Elizabeth II, her coffin lying in state in Westminster Hall as the public lines up to say goodbye. Our report from London, that's coming up next.


BLITZER: Turning now to the most moving and majestic tribute to Queen Elizabeth II since her death.


CNN Royal Correspondent Max Foster reports on today's royal procession and the public viewing of the queen's coffin that's now under way.


MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Silence as Queen Elizabeth II lies in state in Westminster Hall. Mourners filing past, paying their respects, some overcome with emotion. After spending a last night at Buckingham Palace, the coffin was carried in procession on a gun carriage. Behind, on foot, her family, King Charles III and his siblings, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward, and the queen's grandchildren, including Prince William and Prince Harry, who we last saw like this walking behind their mother's coffin as children.

On top of the casket, as the procession made its way along the mile, the priceless imperial state crown, as it moved through iconic landmarks in London, guns fired from Hyde Park and chimes from Big Ben marking each minute.

Among the first to arrive at Westminster Hall, the queen consort, the princess of Wales, and the duchess of Sussex, traveling by car. Witnessing history, thousands watching as the coffin made its way down the political district in White Hall to be passed by the family to the people. Members of the Army, Navy and Air Force giving a guard of honor to their late commander-in-chief. The procession finally arriving at the heart of parliament, the ancient Westminster Hall, for a short blessing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The lord lift up the light of his countenance upon you and give you peace and the blessing of God almighty, the father, the son, and the holy spirit be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

FOSTER: Then, finally, a chance for mourners, some who'd waited overnight, a chance to have their own personal moment and bid farewell to their queen ahead of the state funeral on Monday.


FOSTER (on camera): After those events, Wolf, the king held calls with President Biden, also President Macron of France. They both expressed their condolences to the king ahead of that funeral. I can tell you tonight, he has retired to his country residence at High Grove in the west of England, a chance to decompress, try and make sense of things and also relax a bit ahead of that big event on Monday, which the whole world will be watching, but he will be continuing those calls at his country residence.

BLITZER: Max Foster, thank you very, very much.

I want to bring in our Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward, CNN Contributor Trisha Goddard and the former communications secretary to the queen, Simon Lewis.

You know, I want to start with you, Trisha. Let's talk a little bit about what we're seeing. You heard Max Foster report that the royal family had dinner at Buckingham Palace last night. How important is it for them to have these private moments to break bread, for example, and possibly mend ties?

TRISHA GODDARD, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's really, really important. I mean, grief is something that separates people, but one hopes, especially with Harry and William, that it brings them back together again. And every single time they're out in public, they are so scrutinized. You've got body language people watching how they react to each other. You know, how did Meghan look at Kate? I mean, can you imagine, all families have fallouts, every single family has a fallout, but for everything to be so scrutinized would be very, very difficult.

So, to actually get some time together in peace for everybody at such a time when they're grieving and they're coming together, and it must be very reminiscent for the brothers, as Max said, the last time we saw them walk behind a coffin was that of their mother's. So, this is quite a triggering time for everybody. So, to be out of the public eye and to have some time to decompress is really, really important.

BLITZER: It certainly is.

Clarissa, people, as you know, they lined the streets of London today for this historic procession. What have you been hearing from these folks who came out to pay their respects?


BLITZER: I think we're having some trouble with Clarissa's audio. Clarissa, stand by for a moment.


We're going to fix that audio and get back to you.

Trisha, let me ask you a follow-up question while I have you. Despite the pomp and circumstances around the new king, can -- some people can relate to this moment, as King Charles, of course, attempted to sign a visitor book with a leaky pen. I want to show our viewers what happened. Watch this.


KING CHARLES III: Is it September the 12th?


KING CHARLES III: Oh, golly, wrong date. 13th?


QUEEN CONSORT CAMILLA: You signed 12th earlier.

KING CHARLES III: Oh, god, I hate this --

QUEEN CONSORT CAMILLA: It's going everywhere.

KING CHARLES III: I can't bear this bloody thing. What they do, every stinking time.


BLITZER: So, what sort of reaction is that getting, Trisha? GODDARD: Well, that was a Prince Charles' second fallout with pens. He had one earlier on. And I actually think it's quite important, because, I mean, I've had supper with Prince Charles, so I have met him, and he has got a touchy side. And I think he's very, very different from the queen, and I think it's moments like that that make him more human, and that's definitely something he needs at the moment.

He's not good -- people keep saying, will he fill the queen's shoes? I think it's a stupid thing to say, because they are very, very different personalities. And it's when we see anyone in the public eye be a bit human that we can laugh along with them and, you know, and they just seem that more real. But if I was Prince Charles' courtiers, I'd be keeping pens away from him for quite some time.

BLITZER: Yes, I would too.

You know, Simon, I'd be anxious to get your take. What was your make of that moment, and what we're seeing, basically, of the royal family this week?

SIMON LEWEIS, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS SECRETARY TO THE QUEEN: Well, we're seeing, as Trisha said, a family, but we're seeing the institution coming together. And I think it's just worth reflecting on the sheer physicality of what the king and members of the royal family have been going through, that long walk today, the emotion of it, the fact that many of them were wearing heavy uniforms. And this is not just a period of emotion, but this is a physically very demanding period. So, I'm very pleased that the king is resting tomorrow.

Also, I think it's very important the family being seen as one, also, very nice touches. Paul Whybrew, Big Paul, as he's known in the palace, who was the queen's page for, I would have thought, almost 30 years, behind the cortege today. So, we're seeing the family, but we're also seeing members of the staff who supported the queen in particular for many, many years.

And I have to say one other thing. Big crowds normally are very, very noisy, and I'm just so struck by the quiet reverence of the thousands of people who were waiting to pay their respects to the queen. It's quite extraordinary.

BLITZER: Extraordinary indeed. And in terms of logistics of all of this, Simon, it's pretty impressive how they're dealing with all this.

LEWIS: It is, and, of course, these plans have been in place for, in the case of the queen's arrangements, probably 20 years. Every single detail signed off by the queen herself. But, of course, it's those little moments that don't quite go to plan, those little moments that need to be kind of sorted out on short notice that test the system.

And I was thinking today, watching Westminster Hall and the filing in of the peers, the lords, and the M.P.s, I mean, that happened perfectly, but it could have gone wrong. It didn't go wrong. So, I think the whole machine, if I can put it that way, is operating superbly. BLITZER: It certainly is. Simon and Trisha, guys, thank you very, very much.

Coming up, there are new developments right now in the January 6th investigation here in Washington, a key Trump Justice Department official revealing new information about the search of his home. I'll discuss that and more with a key member of the panel, Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger. He's standing by live.



BLITZER: All right. This just in to CNN, new developments right now in the January 6th investigation, former Trump Justice Department Official Jeffrey Clark revealing new information about the Department of Justice's search of his home.

CNN's Sara Murray is joining us right now. You're getting new information. What are you learning?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. We are learning that the Justice Department was investigating felony violations of false statements, conspiracy and obstruction that led up to that June search at Jeffrey Clark's home, you know, where investigators seized his electronic devices.

Now, this is important because we didn't know that these were the crimes that were under investigation. These are serious, complicated crimes related to the January 6th investigation and related to some of these top people who were around former President Trump in 2021, you know, when he was trying to essentially overturn the election results.

And the way we learned this, my colleagues learned this was interesting, it's a pretty obscure filing. It was because Clark has faced an ethics complaint in the D.C. Bar, so this came out in a court filing related to that. Now, he has not been charged with any crimes but it is shedding little bit more light on what the Justice Department is investigating.

BLITZER: At the same time, the House January 6th select committee is also getting new information.

MURRAY: They are, that's right. My colleague and I spoke to Bennie Thompson earlier, today. He's the chair of the house select committee. He said that they have gotten thousands of exhibits from the U.S. Secret Service. Remember, this has been a point of contention, these missing texts related to the U.S. Secret Service. Thompson says that they got information, messages from January 5th and 6th of 2021.

We're learning from a U.S. Secret Service spokesperson these are actually Microsoft teams messages, so we still don't know the contents, but it is clear that the Secret Service is now providing more information that the committee has requested.

[18:30:03] BLITZER: That's important, indeed. All right, thanks very much, Sara Murray, working her sources for us. Let's get some reaction to all of this and more from a key member of the January 6th select committee, Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger. Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.

First, what's your reaction to the news that the Justice Department's search of Jeffrey Clark's home, a former high-ranking Department of Justice official, is actually linked to their investigation of false statements, conspiracy and obstruction? Is this a sign it's time for your committee to be more forthcoming in sharing information with the Justice Department?

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): Look, I mean, we have a good relationship with the Justice. There's -- we've shared what we can share, what they've requested. They are now, in essence, doing their own investigation. It's -- you know, while we're not a criminal committee, we're just basically giving the American people the facts and recommendations.

I think there's no doubt that some of the stuff we found has really set off the justice committee into these paths. And so from a criminal perspective, the baton, so to speak, has really passed to them. As we know with Jeffrey Clark, he's the one that wanted to be the acting attorney general, at points served as acting attorney general, according to the White House visitor logs, and this was all part of when President Trump said things like, hey, just say the election was corrupt, and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen, and Jeffrey Clark wanted to serve as Donald Trump's guy.

BLITZER: What can you tell us, Congressman, about how your committee got the Secret Service messages from the day of the January 6th attack and how significant is this?

KINZINGER: Well, we don't know the significance yet because we're getting this and it's a ton of information that has to be pored through. It's pored through with search terms and looking at people that we're interested in because there's so much of it. But, as you know, this has taken a while. I mean, we've requested this stuff far back. We just found out a few months ago that there was a lot of stuff we didn't have. And so I think a lot of that public pressure, our oversight responsibility, finally led to these large productions, but it takes time to go through it.

So, we don't -- I can't stand here and tell you we have smoking guns or we don't. We have a ton of information that, frankly, we should have had months ago.

BLITZER: Are you on track for another public hearing on September 28th, which your chairman, Bennie Thompson, set as the goal? And will we learn more about the Secret Service in the process and possible witness tampering during that hearing?

KINZINGER: So, I'm not going to go into what we'll hear in that hearing. As you know, all the ones we've done so far have been really kind of eye-opening, things that we didn't know prior, and in terms of the date, I'll leave that to the committee to announce.

But I think there is more to discover, more to talk about, more to show the American people, because while those first eight hearings we did, I think, proved a case beyond, in my mind, a shadow of the doubt, the president knew what he was doing in all these different kind of areas he was trying to overturn the election, I think we've done a great job at that. There's now stuff to talk about a little further.

But, really, on the criminal side of it, that baton is now with the Department of Justice, and they'll do their thing. And I believe, when all is said and done, if there was criminal acts, and I certainly believe there have been, they should be held accountable, the people that did it, including the former president.

BLITZER: We all know your committee has been debating whether to request testimony from former President Trump and former Vice President Pence. I know you're still pursuing testimony from Newt Gingrich, for example, Ginni Thomas. How likely is it you'll hear from any of them?

KINZINGER: I mean, it will be tough to say. As we've seen -- we've been doing this now for over a year. As we've seen a lot of times, people can buy time. They can, through lawyers, go back and forth and resist, and then we have to respond. So, you know, we're going to continue to pursue through the finish line. But if people can stall or people can, frankly, ignore Congress and the DOJ doesn't come and hold them accountable for that, there's only so much information we can give.

But the point is, I think, we have up to where we are today, I think, proven a very powerful case. I think the people that still believe the election was stolen or Donald Trump was an innocent bystander, if they actually looked at the evidence we've put forward and they actually watched those hearings, would have to come out with a different conclusion, although a lot of people willfully wear blinders.

BLITZER: You say you wouldn't be surprised, and I'm quoting you now, wouldn't be surprised if the committee decides to make criminal referrals to the Justice Department. Are your fellow committee members on board with that, Congressman, and would that be a criminal referral for former President Trump himself?

KINZINGER: So, all those details will be determined. The thing is, with criminal referrals, it's become kind of this big issue. The reality is, DOJ, as we well see with their investigation, they are going to pursue their own thing. It's more of a formality if we do those criminal referrals. But, again, that's a decision we make when the investigation is complete. That's the right time to make that decision, and that's what we'll do.


BLITZER: What's the next step for Republican lawmakers, your Republican colleagues, for example, who have refused to cooperate with your subpoenas? KINZINGER: Well, there's only so much we can do at that moment. The question, would DOJ charge them criminally? No. Is there stuff we can do within ethics? Potentially. So, those are the next kinds of steps. But I think it's obvious, they don't want to come in and talk to us. They're resisting doing that. You take -- do they have something to hide? So, you know, I think that's going to have to end up ultimately being a public judgment, but we've been able to get a lot of information around them.

BLITZER: Congressman Adam Kinzinger, thanks so much for joining us.

KINZINGER: You bet, Wolf.

BLITZER: Just ahead, we'll go live to Ukraine where President Zelenskyy just toured a key city reclaimed from Russian invaders. Why he says he's, quote, shocked, shocked by what he witnessed.



BLITZER: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says he's shocked by the devastation he witnessed while visiting territory just recaptured from Russian forces.

Let's go live to the war zone right now. CNN Senior International Correspondent Ben Wedeman is standing by for us. Ben, what's the latest you can tell us on this Ukrainian counteroffensive that's ongoing?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this counteroffensive is really dramatic. At this point, we heard President Zelenskyy say today when he was in the city of Izium that Ukraine has liberated as many as 6,000 kilometers, that's 3,750 square kilometers.

Now, the Ukrainians, it's believed, are perhaps going to pause this offensive. They've taken this territory in just a matter of two weeks. The Russian forces in that area are clearly in disarray. The Ukrainians have managed to capture quite a lot of prisoners. A huge amount of Russian equipment, it's estimated by some is worth $700 million.

Now, when the president was in Izium today, he said that he hopes that the Ukrainian flag will fly over all Ukrainian cities and towns, indicating that the idea of some sort of territorial compromise with the Russians is simply off the table at this point.

Now, the expectation is perhaps now the Ukrainian Armed Forces will be focusing on the south in the Kherson area. That is an area where there was much talk of an offensive for weeks, going back weeks. But, of course, the expectation was that it was going to be in that area, not in Kharkiv. And in that area, you have a large group of elite Russian soldiers, but they're almost cut off because the Ukrainians are using some of the advanced weapons provided by NATO, have managed to cut off many of the bridges leading to that area. But what we're seeing is that the Russians, who are clearly faring very badly on the battlefield, are striking civilian infrastructure. In the city of Kharkiv, the second largest city in Ukraine, they did temporarily manage to knock out the power in that area, and in the city Kryvyi Rih, to the south of here, apparently, a dam has been destroyed by a Russian missile strike causing some flooding. So, it appears the Russians are focusing on civilian infrastructure because, on the battlefield, the situation for them has been largely disastrous. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Ben Wedeman, stay safe over there. Thank you very much.

Let's discuss what's going on with the former NATO supreme allied commander, CNN Military Analyst retired General Wesley Clark. General Clark, thanks so much for joining us.

I know you just came back from Ukraine. What message does it send for President Zelenskyy, for example, to visit this liberated city, Izium, today, particularly when these troops must be spent after this rapid advance?

GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, it shows a political commitment of the people of Ukraine to their military, and it shows to the world the effectiveness of the Ukrainian military vis- a-vis the Russians. So, it's a very positive sign. It says that, you know, we're winners, and continue to support us, and drive a hard bargain with the Russians. That's the reason why he's saying that the Russians have to give up all the territory of Ukraine, including Crimea.

BLITZER: It's not just that Ukraine has recaptured this important territory. They've recaptured some really other strategic hubs as well. Just how much does that degrade Russia's ability to fight back in this region?

CLARK: I think it makes it much more difficult for the Russians to form a cohesive defense. They've got to fall back on their own supply lines but they have had such great losses, the units are in obviously a lot of disarray. So, someone has got to reform those units, shuffle equipment and people and leadership, and in a distraught and demoralized army, that's a very tough proposition.

Now, the south is actually more strategic, and there's no question that the information flow within the Russian forces is going to help demoralize the Russian forces in the south. They'll know about it and they'll recognize what's coming at them.

BLITZER: Because already, as you know, General, these Kremlin losses have drawn mounting and mounting criticism from within Russia itself and calls for martial law, full mobilization, for example.


How much pressure does all this put on Vladimir Putin? CLARK: Well, I would say on a scale of 1 to 10, maybe 1 or 2. He's got control of the Russian bloggers. He doesn't want to have to control them because he knows he has a credibility problem with o 10, maybe 1 or 2. He's got control of the Russian o 10, maybe 1 or 2.

He's got control of the Russian bloggers. He doesn't want to have to control them because he knows he has a credibility problem with his own people. They don't believe much of the news, disregard a lot of what he says, unfortunately. He has to get the high approval ratings, because they know what to say.

But, so, he doesn't want to crack down on the military bloggers, but he can if he has to. His question really is strategic. What's he do from here? Does he withdraw?

Does he try to hold on and use the energy weapon and try to rebuild his forces for a campaign next spring? Or does he just go after all- out attacks on infrastructure in Ukraine? Or some combination of this.

BLITZER: You were just there in Ukraine, just got back over the weekend. What's your bottom line assessment right now, General, about where this war stands right now?

CLARK: I think the momentum has shifted, but in terms of military operations, long, long way to go to drive the Russians out. But you never know because sometimes in an operation like this, you could reach a tipping point.

With the Russians we know, throughout, have lost confidence in their chain of command. They've got logistics difficulties. A lot of these soldiers didn't know they were going into Ukraine. They don't want to be there.

So, it could collapse. I think there's, you know, one-in-three chance of that. I think the more likely is there will be some tough fighting ahead, but I would say this, Wolf. This is the time that we've got to have Western and U.S. diplomatic leadership to take advantage of the military momentum and tell the Kremlin, please leave.

BLITZER: Retired General Wesley Clark, thanks as usual for joining us.

CLARK: Thank you.

BLITZER: Coming up, we'll take a closer look at Prince William and Prince Harry's complicated relationship as they come together to mourn the queen.



BLITZER: With the global spotlight on the British royal family, the world is once again watching the reunion of two brothers with a rather long complicated history, Prince William and Prince Harry.

CNN's Salma Abdelaziz is in London with a closer look at their relationship.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Prince William and Prince Harry solemnly marched behind the coffin of their grand grandmother. The brothers coming together publicly for the first time since the platinum jubilee in June. Together, they laid flowers at a memorial for Queen Elizabeth, and later had dinner with the rest of the royal family at Buckingham Palace, a source told CNN.

The current moment reminiscent of a childhood tragedy for the pair, the loss of their mother Diana, princess of Wales, in 1997. After her death, the brothers appeared to have a close bond. But the princes would drift apart. William polished his image as he became poised to ascend the throne, while Prince Harry's marriage to American divorcee and Hollywood actor Meghan Markle led to rifts.

The couple stepped back from their royal duties and relocated to the United States in 2020. In 2021, Buckingham palace announced the Queen, Prince Harry and Meghan agreed they would not return as working members of the royal family. The split between the brothers became ever-more apparent as Harry and Meghan gave a tell-all interview to Oprah Winfrey.

PRINCE HARRY, DUKE OF SUSSEX: I love William to bits. He's my brother. We've been through hell together, I mean, we have shared experience. But we were on different paths.

ABDELAZIZ: Before the divisions, the brothers had spoken of their closeness.

PRINCE HARRY, PRINCE OF WALES: We have been brought closer because of the circumstances as well. That's the thing. You are uniquely bonded because of what we've been through.

ABDELAZIZ: On the day of the queen's death, the two arrived separately to Balmoral, William by plane, Harry in a car. But soon after, they made a public appearance with their wives, walking together as a united royal family, leaving many wondering whether this is a brief moment of reconciliation or a lasting reunion.


ABDELAZIZ (on camera): Now we expect to see the brothers again alongside each other on Monday during the state funeral. But after these events are over, there will be literally an ocean between them. Harry, of course, is expected to return to his home in the United States. His brother William now as prince of Wales will take on more roles, more duties in the royal family -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Salma Abdelaziz in London, thank you very, very much.

Coming in, just in from "The Chicago tribune," disgraced Singer R. Kelly's conviction on multiple charges of child pornography and enticement of a minor.

We'll be right back.



BLITZER: According to "The Chicago Tribune," a federal jury has just convicted disgraced singer R. Kelly on multiple charges of child pornography and enticement.

For more on that, I want to bring in CNN correspondent Stephanie Elam.

Stephanie, tell us what the jury found.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. So let's look at these new charges that just came in and what he was actually found guilty of first here, Wolf. And that would be convicted of three of four counts of production of child pornography. R. Kelly was also convicted of three of five counts of enticement of a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity.

However, he was not found guilty on all of these charges. He was also acquitted on charges of conspiracy to obstruct justice and also acquitted on receiving child pornography and on conspiracy to receive child pornography.

We do not yet know obviously how long he will be sentenced for this. But keep in mind, he is already serving 30 years for his trial that happened in the fall of last year. And in that federal case, Kelly was found guilty of racketeering, including acts of bribery and sexual exploitation of a child, and separate charges as well of sex trafficking.

So in June for that trial, where he was found guilty, he was sentenced to 30 years in prison. So he is already in prison. But all of this stemming from very long allegations against R. Kelly about him engaging in inappropriate sexual behavior with minors, and also one Jane Doe in particular who had, for many years, denied that there had been sexual interaction based on some videos that had been recovered with R. Kelly but then changing and now telling what she says is her truth in that there were hundreds of times that she had had sex with R. Kelly starting at the age of when she was 15 with sexual acts beginning when she was 14.

All of this playing into this, and this is the latest in this case here, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Stephanie Elam, reporting for us. Thank you very much.

And to our viewers, thank you very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.