Return to Transcripts main page

The Situation Room

Atty. General Touts "Tireless" Work On Oath Keepers Case After Convictions; Garland: Asking January 6 CMTE. For All Transcripts From Its Probe; Trump Adviser Stephen Miller Testifies To Jan. 6 Federal Grand Jury; Rep. Jason Crow, (D-CO), Is Interviewed About Oath Keepers' Conviction; House Dems Make History, Elect Hakeem Jeffries To Succeed Pelosi; U.S. Considers Dramatically Expanding Training Of Ukrainian Forces; U.S. Men's Soccer Team Advance In World Cup Exposes Massive Pay Disparity For U.S. Women's Competitions; U.S. Soccer Star Hospitalized After Injury From Scoring Winning Goal; House Dems Make History, Elect Hakeem Jeffries To Succeed Pelosi; U.S. Considers Dramatically Expanding Training Of Ukrainian Forces. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired November 30, 2022 - 17:00   ET



KASIE HUNT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: But officials warn of poor air quality that can be caused by the volcanic gas and ash. Wow. Just unbelievable.

I'm Kasie Hunt in for Jake Tapper. You can always tweet at me @kasie or tweet the show @theleadcnn. Our coverage continues now with Alex Marquardt in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Happening now, breaking news, Attorney General Merrick Garland just spoke out about historic convictions in the Justice Department's January 6 investigation, a day after the leader of the Oath Keepers was found guilty of seditious conspiracy. We're breaking down what Garland said and what happens next in the federal probes of the insurrection and a former President Donald Trump.

Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Alex Marquardt. And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

MARQUARDT: And let's get right to the breaking news from the Justice Department. Attorney General Merrick Garland taking something of a victory lap after winning guilty verdicts against top members of the far right militia group, the Oath Keepers. CNN Senior Justice Correspondent Evan Perez was at Garland's news conference, that was just a short time ago.

Evan, what did Garland say about yesterday's convictions?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you certainly got the sense of the historic nature of this case for the Justice Department. It's a rarely brought charged seditious conspiracy. It's something that the Attorney General himself had to approve after looking over the evidence over a period of months. And he certainly was talking about the effort that was made to try to impede the transfer of power. Listen to what he talked about.


MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Last evening, a jury of the defendants' peers found each of them guilty of serious felony offenses. As the verdict of this case makes clear, the department will work tirelessly to hold accountable those responsible for crimes related to the attack on our democracy.


PEREZ: Alex, you know, for the Justice Department, they certainly are looking at all of the people who were involved, including, you will notice people who did not enter the Capitol, right? We know there are almost 1000 people who are being prosecuted for going into the Capitol of being part of the riot. Importantly, though, at least one of the members of the Oath Keepers, who was convicted yesterday, did not enter the Capitol. And that bodes, you know, strongly, I think, for the Justice Department's investigation of other people who did not.

MARQUARDT: And Evan, Garland also spoke about the special counsel's twin investigations into both January 6 and the documents taken to Mar-a-Lago.

PEREZ: I think from the Attorney General's perspective, you know, the importance and certainly one of the criticisms people are making is whether this special counsel might slow things down as far as this investigation is concerned. Here's how he answered that question.


GARLAND: In the course of the sighting, Mr. Smith, the Special Counsel, I did meet with him, he has been meeting with the members of his team to get up to speed. As we already know he's already signed a pleading in 11 Circuit. He promised to the American people in his own statement that there would be no pause or hiccup in his work. And I understand that that is exactly what's going on now.


PEREZ: And you know, as far as the investigation is concerned, I mean, we are certainly getting indications that things -- some things that they had ongoing already are continuing without any interruption. Katelyn Polantz was able to report that Stephen Miller went into the Grand Jury just yesterday. So, that's a clear indication that there is no pause.

MARQUARDT: All right, Evan, stay with us. I want to bring in CNN Justice Correspondent Jessica Schneider as well as CNN Legal Analyst Norm Eisen. He is co-counsel to the Attorney General of the District of Columbia in a parallel civil case against the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys that is related to the events of January 6. Thank you both for joining us.

Norm, I do want to start with you. You have the Attorney General Merrick Garland here touting the seditious conspiracy verdict, vowing to hold others accountable in this press conference that Evan attended. How much do you think these convictions embolden the Justice Department? What is Garland telegraphing hear about upcoming trials?

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Alex, I think they embolden the Justice Department a lot. I've known Merrick Garland for over 30 years since we were both young lawyers starting out in D.C. This is an unusual victory lap for him. If you have any question about the relationship of the Oath Keepers case to Donald Trump's potential liability, including on some of these same possible crimes, seditious conspiracy, obstruction of Congress, he, the Attorney General, eliminated that by talking about the special counsel in the press conference. I think Donald Trump is feeling very uneasy.

MARQUARDT: What would -- yes, how worried should he be given the comments that we've heard from Garland today?


EISEN: It's not the comments alone that should worry him, it's that there is substantial evidence that like the Oath Keepers' defendant who didn't enter the Capitol that he was a significant part of events that may confer criminal liability. He should be worried about the facts, the evidence and the law, but also the resolve that Garland, on behalf of DOJ, is signaling.

MARQUARDT: And Jessica, the comments about the special counsel Jack Smith that Evan had asked Garland about, do you think that those gave any indication into where these two investigations stand right now?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're still going full steam ahead, because as we hear from the Attorney General, I mean, these investigations, Mar-a-Lago going back a few months, the investigation into January 6 going back now almost two years. So, these prosecutors, these attorneys leading these cases, we know for what the attorney general said today, they have in fact, met with the Special Counsel Jack Smith.

Interestingly, that meeting was probably remotely since Jack Smith is still recuperating from an accident in the Netherlands where he was a prosecutor for the International Criminal Court. So this was probably all done remotely. But the point is that the special counsel stressed in that statement that he released just about two weeks ago, the Attorney General stressed it again today, there is no pause, there is no delay, the special counsel is jumping right into this and he's got a team of attorneys who have been working on this for months and months that can really take the lead here.

MARQUARDT: No pause, no delay, even as he recuperates from an injury.

Evan, you did ask the attorney general about their coordination with the January 6 select committee. Let's take a listen to a little bit of what he had to say. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GARLAND: We would like to have all the transcripts and all the other evidence collected by the community so that -- by the committee so that we can use it in the ordinary course of our investigations.

PEREZ: Are you satisfied that you've had the access that you need or?

GARLAND: We are asking for access to all of the transcripts. And that's really all I can say right now.


MARQUARDT: So Evan, now that the committee is wrapping up their investigation, now that they are going to be disbanded by the Republican led Congress in January, how much is going to be handed over to DOJ for them to take the baton?

PEREZ: As you can tell, they're frustrated. You can tell he's a bit frustrated that the answer is not everything. Certainly no one yet is telling the committee -- no, the Justice Department that they can get their hands on all the evidence and all the transcripts. It's a very curious thing that's been going on.

The -- it's been a point of contention. There've been a lot of negotiations. The committee has promised him access to at least some of those transcripts. So far, it appears that that is still a work in progress.

So, you can hear he's trying to be diplomatic, but they're very frustrated because, you know, certainly for some of the trials that they have ongoing, they have responsibility to turn over any exculpatory information. It is the government's burden to do that so they want to try to get that as soon as they can so that they can provide that. And again, it's part of the, you know, for the investigative purposes.

MARQUARDT: When the committee does put out their final report, Norm, you've said that it could essentially serve as a criminal referral. What do you mean by that?

EISEN: Well, it is customary at times for congressional committees when they find evidence of crime to formally say to the Justice Department, even to a state prosecutor, hey, we found evidence of the following crimes, you should investigate, you should prosecute. When I worked on the impeachment, we had a similar analysis in our final impeachment report, the first impeachment of the former president. So, I think that the committee ought to do that, they're very actively talking about doing that.

More important than saying prosecutor don't prosecute is to lay out all the evidence like in Watergate, the famous Watergate roadmap. It really was just a laundry list of evidence. That's what we need to see. And I suspect Merrick Garland is going to get his wish. And all of this information is going to come out before the new Congress comes in. PEREZ: You know, and I think one of the important things for the Justice Department is, look, they are -- they've made it clear, as Norm pointed out, you know, they make it -- they've made clear that whether you went into that building or not, if you had any responsibility for it, you are on their list of people that they are going to investigate, of course, that includes the former president and people around him. But clearly, they want to try to get this information as soon as possible, giving the fact that 2024 is on the horizon.

MARQUARDT: And speaking of going into that building, Jessica, we know that Stephen Miller did testify before a federal grand jury this week. How critical is his testimony to the investigation?

SCHNEIDER: Very critical because he's known Trump a long time and in fact, he told the January 6 Select Committee that he was with Trump the morning of January 6. Stephen Miller was a key figure in the Trump White House. He was a senior advisor, also a speech writer. So he worked with Trump on many speeches, including the speech at the ellipse that morning before the Capitol attack. So, he will crucially be able to speak to Trump's state of mind, how he wanted to potentially inspire his supporters who were there that day, and many of whom marched to the Capitol, many of whom then broke into the Capitol.

And that's key here because we know that prosecutors need to discover Trump's intent state of mind. Trump doesn't really keep records here, so it will be reliant upon people who Trump has spoken with, especially the morning of January 6. Stephen Miller was right there throughout the presidency and key that morning of January 6.


PEREZ: And by the way on that day, we know that from some of the testimony that the committee has received, that there was an effort by someone in the White House to remove Mike Pence's name from the speech.


PEREZ: And of course, somehow it ended up back in the speech (INAUDIBLE).

SCHNEIDER: And that was something he testified to the January 6 --

PEREZ: Right.

SCHNEIDER: -- select committee about that that was a topic of conversation whether to include Mike Pence in the speech and eventually was a.

EISEN: In Pence's key to the seditious conspiracy possible charges the investigation because Trump singled him out after the violence had already begun.

MARQUARDT: All right, gang, Norm, Evan, Jessica, thank you all very much. Really appreciate it.

Coming up, we will be speaking about the -- we'll be talking about the breaking news with a key member of the Intelligence and Armed Services Committee and a war veteran, Congressman Jason Crow. Stay with us.


MARQUARDT: More now on the breaking news, Attorney General Merrick Garland speaking out a short time ago about the Oath Keepers trial and the historic convictions of two members on charges of seditious conspiracy in connection with the riot on January 6. Let's get more with Democratic Congressman Jason Crow of Colorado. He is a member of both the Intelligence and Armed Services Committees and a veteran as well of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Congressman, thank you so much for joining us. You just heard what Attorney General Merrick Garland had to say, he said that this department is going to work tirelessly to hold accountable those who attack democracy. Does that sound to you like he expects more serious convictions as the DOJ prosecutes crimes related to January 6?

REP. JASON CROW (D-CO), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: It does sound like there are more potential prosecutions and convictions. And listen, this is justice, this is what Justice looks like in America. People violated the law, but more so, they attack the very foundation of our democracy, tried to overturn the will of the people. That's what happened on January 6. This wasn't just a mob, this wasn't just a felonious assault in the murder of police officers, which was tragic.

But truly the attempt to stop the machinery of our democracy, and that's what these folks were ultimately charged and convicted of. But it's not going to stop now. And it shouldn't stop because this is not an exercise in history, we're not writing a history book here. This is an ongoing threat, and we have to treat it like that.

MARQUARDT: And you know how serious that threat was, you are in the House chamber during the attack on January 6. Do you think that these convictions, rare convictions on seditious conspiracy of these Oath Keepers will have a chilling effect on extremist groups in the future?

CROW: I should hope so, and they should. But there's a battle of ideas going on right now in America because we have these convictions, we have people being held accountable. But at the same time, literally the same week that we have people being convicted of seditious conspiracy, the first time in a generation to undermine our democracy, you have the former president of United States, President Trump, literally inviting over for dinner, an avowed anti-Semite and a white supremacist who are not hiding it, this is not implied, this is -- they're not shy about it, these are people who are actively espousing these beliefs. So this is a battle for ideas, and the heart and soul of America is what's going on right now. And people need to speak up, they need to step up and be heard and say, we're not going to tolerate it. MARQUARDT: And in terms of the potential danger that all that poses, we just heard from the Department of Homeland Security, they just reiterated a terrible attend, warning that the anniversary of January 6, which of course, is just over a month away, that that could be used to spur violence. How real do you think that risk is?

CROW: Well, we always have to take it seriously, right? These risks happen all the time. And listen, we're in an era now here of political violence in America. That is just true.

Death threats against members of Congress have quadrupled in the last two years. We actually have attacks on Capitol Hill every few months. There have been police officers killed in the last year. People show up here with guns, you know, radicalized folks. So we are in an era of danger and political extremism. And we have to be vigilant about it, not just on these anniversaries, but every day. And we have great law enforcement, the folks of the U.S. Capitol Police and others work very hard to keep us safe and to make sure that our government runs.

MARQUARDT: We do understand that tomorrow the January 6 committee is expected to meet -- sorry, this is on Friday, that they would be meeting to discuss potential criminal referrals. And in light of what we just heard from Attorney General Merrick Garland, would you be disappointed if the committee doesn't make criminal referrals?

CROW: Well, let's be mindful of the role of this committee, right? This is not a grand jury. Their responsibility is not necessarily to make criminal referrals. There's no doubt in my mind that criminal conduct has occurred and Merrick Garland has convened prosecutions to address that. Yes, I do personally think there have been a variety of crimes, and I think it would merit a referral. And I would encourage the committee to do so, but they have to make the judgment call about whether or not that is what they need to do to encourage and support the DOJ's efforts.

MARQUARDT: And of course, it would be up to the DOJ whether to act on those referrals. Congressman Jason Crow, thank you so much for joining us this evening. Really appreciate it.

CROW: Thank you.

MARQUARDT: And coming up, all eyes are on the U.S. Senate after the House passed a bill blocking a devastating rail strike just before the holiday. But 10 senators come to an agreement before the end of the week.

Plus, a history making election in the House for the first time a person of color will lead one of the two major parties in Congress. That's next here in THE SITUATION ROOM..



MARQUARDT: The U.S. is one step closer to averting a nationwide rail strike after the House of Representatives passed a bill today imposing a labor agreement between rail companies and their workers. CNN Chief White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly joins us now.

Phil, President Biden, he pushed for this bill and he warned a strike would lead to serious economic consequences. So what's the latest?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Alex, despite the fact that it was going against some of his closest political allies, not just Democrats on Capitol Hill, eighth House Democrats voted against the legislation today but also the labor movement and movement that the President has been deeply tied to over the course of his more than five decades in public service. However, when it came down to the decision to move forward on the Ask for Congress to put this deal into place, the equity is basically lined up with economic disaster far outweighs political alliances. That complex dynamic has been playing out over the course of the last 72 hours as administration officials and Democrats have urgently tried to push this across the finish line to get 79 House Republicans to vote with Democrats today to pass that bill. The question, of course, remains, what happens next in the Senate.


At the crux of the argument, why the four of the 12 unions that were involved in this negotiation rejected it on a rank and file basis? Is that it did not contain enough provisions when it came to particularly paid sick leave. House Democrats today pass a version of a paid sick leave bill. Senator Bernie Sanders has made very clear he will be pushing for one on the Senate floor. What the President has made clear is he needs a deal and he needs it immediately. The fallout of not getting something done before the December 9 deadline, several days before the December 9 deadline, would be dramatic and bad, Alex.

MARQUARDT: Phil, is this a done deal in the Senate? When could the President expect to see a bill on his desk?

MATTINGLY: You know, the President has been unequivocal and I'm told that his advisers are telling congressional staffers and lawmakers the same thing. He wants something on his desk to sign by Saturday. Now the point where they're at right now in the Senate is there's cautious optimism for Democrats, some people here on the White House, that they are on the path to getting this across the finish line. It's more at this point a matter of win than a matter of if.

However, as I noted, Senator Sanders making clear he wants an amendment considered. Republicans weighing whether or not they want amendments as well. The White House saying they don't want any changes. There is a deal here, there was an agreement that was agreed to by leadership of both sides in September, that's what they want to get done and they want it done as soon as possible.

When that will be? An open question. But right now, sources on Capitol Hill saying they want to do it soon, as soon as the next couple of days, Alex.

MARQUARDT: All right. Phil Mattingly at the White House, thanks very much. And let's head to Capitol Hill in a historic vote. House Democrats today elected New York Congressman Hakeem Jeffries as leader. He becomes the first African American to lead one of the two major parties in either chamber, and this comes as Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy faces an increasingly tough path to securing enough votes to become Speaker of the House. CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju joins us now.

Manu, tell us more about this. What really is a historic new era in Congress for Democrats?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And a smooth transition at that at, this after Nancy Pelosi who has just led and dominated her caucus for the past two decades announced earlier this month that she would step aside and no longer lead House Democrats, paving the way to -- for a leadership succession. That is now a generational shift as well. This coming -- this came as no surprise that Hakeem Jeffries will be elected today.

What came as a surprise is that in the after -- in the immediate aftermath of Pelosi's decision to step aside, nobody decided to challenge Hakeem Jeffries. Namely, Pelosi's number two, current number two, Steny Hoyer, the House Democratic majority leader who decided he was not going to vie for that top Democratic spot, neither was Jim Clyburn, who's the current number three under Nancy Pelosi. Those three members, Pelosi, Hoyer, Clyburn stepping aside for a new generation of leaders now being led by Hakeem Jeffries, followed by Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, and the number three, Pete Aguilar, all will round out the top members of the leadership team.

Now, speaking to reporters earlier today, Hakeem Jeffries made clear that he believes that Republican's time in the majority will be short lived.


REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY), INCOMING MINORITY LEADER: We seek to find common ground whenever and wherever possible. And we hope that our colleagues on the other side of the aisle as they temporarily inherit the majority in the next Congress are willing to proceed with that same spirit of cooperation, fortitude, and mission centered focus to get things done for everyday Americans.


RAJU: Now that key line, temporarily inherit the majority, the Democratic leadership tasks, no doubt, will be this, taking back the majority in 2024. They believe they have a serious chance of doing that, given the narrow majorities in the House and the new Congress. So that will be the task of the Democrats. They will be aided by the fact that there is a Democrats -- there was a Senate there'll be led by Democrats, and of course, a Democrat in the White House, but they will be the minority party as they seek to rally opposition the GOP plans.

MARQUARDT: And on the future majority side, the House leadership fight is not yet settled. It is not a foregone conclusion that Kevin McCarthy will be speaker. What's the latest?

RAJU: No question about that because of the narrow margins. The Republicans are expected to have probably 222 seats in the new Congress. In order to be elected speaker, you need 218 votes. All Democrats are expected to vote against McCarthy, vote for Hakeem Jeffries instead. That means he has to expect all but for Republicans to vote for him to elect him as first speaker.

Now there are several Republicans in that hardline House Freedom Caucus who are threatening to vote against him. Some are hard no like Congressman Matt Gaetz, says he will not vote for him, whatsoever. Andy Biggs, a congressman from Arizona has suggested that perhaps he would be a hard no as well. He vote -- ran against him in the internal Republican leadership, alleges he lost the nomination for speaker to McCarthy himself.

But McCarthy is trying to pick up votes one by one. There are a number of members who are asking for certain concessions. They want more power of the leadership.


They want some key committee assignments. The McCarthy allies believe they can win votes one by one and eventually get to 218. But they don't deny this. It is going to be a tough slog. It could be messy, and they're not also denying the possibility that if he does not get 218 votes on the first ballot, potentially could go to a second ballot or even a third.

MARQUARDT: Yes, it's a majority but a razor thin majority, one that may be tough to wrangle. Manu Raju on Capitol Hill, thank you very much, sir.

RAJU: Thank you.

MARQUARDT: Now incoming House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries is vowing to seek common ground as you just heard, with Republicans, as his party moves into the minority in the next Congress.

CNN's Eva McKend joins us live. Eva, Jeffries election also marking a generational shift for the Democratic caucus after 20 years under the leadership of Nancy Pelosi.

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Alex, a generational shift indeed. You know, for so long octogenarians have been running the show among House Democrats, but Jeffries is not necessarily a fresh face. In many ways, this has been a long time in the making.


MCKEND (voice-over): After nearly a decade on Capitol Hill, Brooklyn bread attorney Hakeem Jeffries making history as House Democrats selected him as the first black American to lead a party in Congress.

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D), INCOMING MINORITY LEADER: Stand on the shoulders of people like Shirley Chisholm and so many others as we work to advance the ball for everyday Americans and get stuff done, because that's what Democrats do.

MCKEND (voice-over): At 52, Jeffries' ascension marks a generational change from 82-year-old outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

JEFFRIES: We're going to work hard --

MCKEND (voice-over): Jeffries became Democratic Caucus Chair in 2019. And his long been known for his advocacy around affordable housing and criminal justice reform, working across the aisle in 2019 to get the First Step Act passed.

JEFFRIES: We look forward to finding opportunities to partner with the other side of the aisle and work with them whenever possible, but we will also push back against extremism whenever necessary.

MCKEND (voice-over): But it was his role as an impeachment manager during former President Donald Trump's first impeachment trial. That was among Jeffries most high profile post, highlighting his background as a lawyer and his penchant for weaving in the legacy of hip hop.

JEFFRIES: That is why we are here, Mr. Sekulow. And if you don't know, now you know.

One of my constituents to answer the congressman that shouted out Biggie Smalls on the House floor two years ago. I said, yes, that was me. He said, and now I hear that you're the number five Democrat in the House of Representatives. How did that happen?

And the only way that I can respond by quoting the Biggie Smalls lyric, which is, you never thought that hip hop would take it this far. And so, I think that Biggie Smalls, Jay-Z, in many ways, you know, capture sort of the aspirational aspect of the American dream.

MCKEND (voice-over): A former longtime staffer suggests Jeffries will pose a formidable challenge to Republicans.

MICHAEL HARDAWAY, FORMER JEFFRIES COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: He has a mind like a computer. He is absolutely brilliant. And so, he remembers every single detail of everything. For all of his speeches, we never write his speeches out. We put together the substance, and he could just go and speak for 45 minutes.

MCKEND (voice-over): And argues he's the right man for this moment.

HARDAWAY: In 2015, I said to him, I said, you're going to be the next Speaker of the House, because the reality of our party is that we had this old faction that was destined to leave at some point, and he came was the guy that could best articulate what we stood for. And we now live in an era where that matters more than most other things.

JEFFRIES: Can't stop.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS (in unison): Won't stop.

MCKEND (voice-over): But Jeffries will have to contend with the left wing of the party who view him as part of the establishment. And he's poised to take the mantle with a democratic minority.

PROF. MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY: As the great philosopher Grace Jones said, I may not be perfect, but I'm perfect for you. So for those who claim he's not progressive enough, there are far less progressive people who could stand in his stead and try to occupy his space. He's as progressive a figure as he is capable of securing the broad base of the Democratic Party in order to represent them.


MCKEND: A big question now is just how much will those progressives challenge him? They were frustrated when he started a pack to protect incumbent Democrats. But notably, he did not receive much pushback in running for this position, Alex.

MARQUARDT: Many questions, but no question. It is a new generation in the Democratic Party. Eva McKend, thank you very much for that report.

Now just ahead, a letter bomb explodes at the Ukrainian Embassy in Madrid injuring one person. We're learning new details. And first on CNN, United States considering dramatically expanding its training with Ukrainian forces.



MARQUARDT: There is increased security at Ukrainian embassies around the world tonight after a letter bomb exploded at the country's Embassy in Madrid, Spain, injuring one person. CNN Senior International Correspondent Matthew Chance is in Ukraine for us tonight with the latest. Matthew, what are we learning about this explosion at the Embassy in Madrid?



MARQUARDT: All right. I think we may be having audio issues with Matthew. We'll try to get back to him once we resolve those. Let's head to the Pentagon. We are learning tonight., this is reporting this first on CNN that the United States is considering dramatically expanding it's training of Ukrainian forces.


CNN Pentagon Correspondent Oren Liebermann has been working the story for us. Oren, how big do we think a game changer this could be for the troops on the battlefield?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Alex, it could be quite significant. Ukraine is in need of two things. The first of those is ammunition. And the Pentagon has been working on that side of the equation for quite some time now, along with other partners in Europe. The second of those is training, how to take a larger army that's expanded after the invasion and make sure they're ready for advanced close in combat against Russian forces. And that's what the White House is considering here. According to multiple officials familiar with the plans, the Biden administration is considering dramatically expanding its training of Ukrainian forces, up to as many as 2,500 soldiers per month, we've been told.

That's a significant difference from what the U.S. has done until now, which is focused on smaller groups training on individual systems. So, for example, taking a group of a few dozen soldiers and training them on how to use the HIMARS rocket launcher or the NASAMS air defense. This is well beyond that, its scope, and scale and complexity.

This would be essentially combined arms training for Ukraine. So, for example, how to make sure artillery is working with infantry, is working with tanks to fight as a cohesive unit on the battlefield to maximum effect, especially given the advantage Russia has simply in terms of manpower.

Now, the proposal hasn't gotten approval yet. That says the White House considers this and looks at how best to scale it up. But if it is approved, it would take place we've been told at Grafenwoehr, a U.S. base in Germany, where the U.S. Army Europe conducts its own combined arms training for forces in Europe and Africa. So it has the potential there and it has the capability to scale this up if and when that approval comes. Alex?

MARQUARDT: Yes, training that would certainly be very welcomed by the Ukrainian military. Oren Liebermann at the Pentagon, thank you very much.

Now we've gotten Senior International Correspondent Matthew Chance back. He is in Ukraine, of course. Matthew, we were talking about this explosion at the Ukrainian Embassy in Madrid, a letter bomb. What more do we know?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, not a great deal, just what the Ukrainian foreign ministry have communicated through the various media channels, saying that this was a an explosive device. Apparently in a letter. It was opened by a staffer at the Ukrainian Embassy in Madrid.

He encountered injuries. He was treated at hospital but it's not life threatening, we're told. And now he's back at the embassy or in the area. It's been an alert put out, first of all in Madrid by the Ukrainian diplomatic staff there to increase security, but also across the world to increase security at Ukrainian embassies elsewhere as well.

There is an investigation underway, Alex, important remember that. But it's not clear yet who is behind this incident.

MARQUARDT: Yes, very unnerving for diplomats around the world. Matthew, you have been right at the front. You went to the town of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine. You saw some of the most intense fighting of this war. Tell us more about what you saw.

CHANCE: Yes, very intense. I mean, we went there because this is the town in eastern Ukraine that is perhaps the most contested a bit of territory in the whole of this conflict. You've seen Russian and Ukrainian forces really battle it out with artillery close quarter fighting as well.

It's, you know, an absolute bloodbath to be frank, dozens of people being killed there, according to local commanders every single day. And of course, it's just as bad on the Russian side. They're plowing resources and manpower into the attempt to capture Bakhmut and suffering very high casualties as well, according to the Ukrainian officials that we we spoke to.

There's been some developments over the course of the past day, the Russian defense ministry saying they've taken a key village to the south of Bakhmut. And, yes, that hasn't been confirmed by the Ukrainians. But it does tally with what we saw, which is a Russian attempt to try and encircle the city entirely. And the Ukrainians fighting day by day to try and prevent them from doing that. So again, a very ferocious artillery exchange and close quarter fighting that we saw there happening all the time, Alex.

MARQUARDT: Yes, ferocious indeed. A big thanks to you and your team for that reporting. Really appreciate it. Matthew Chance in Dnipro, Ukraine. Thank you.

Now coming up, the win by the U.S. Men's Soccer Team in the World Cup will be a huge payday for the women's team as well. We'll have more on this historic first for U.S. Soccer and what it means for pay equality in soccer. That's next.




Team USA's latest win in the World Cup is now exposing a huge pay gap between men and women in soccer. CNN's Brian Todd is covering this story for us. Brian, this is a historic first for U.S. Soccer. The men and women's teams are splitting their earnings. But that's not the same for everyone else.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Alex. The disparity in pay between men and women on the world stage is frankly embarrassing. The U.S. Soccer Federation finally got it right. But that took decades of fighting.


TODD (voice-over): With its stirring win over Iran, and its advanced into the knockout stage of The World Cup, the U.S. Men's National Soccer Team gets a $13 million bonus as a team. And for the first time ever, they'll split that bonus equally with the U.S. women's team, $6.5 million for each squad. That's because of a new collective bargaining agreement that the women's team reached with the U.S. Soccer Federation back in May.

For Briana Scurry, a goalkeeper who played in four Women's World Cups and made an iconic penalty kick save to help the U.S. win the 1999 Cup, it's a sweet moment.


BRIANA SCURRY, FORMER U.S. NATIONAL WOMEN'S TEAM GOALKEEPER: For decades, it was very difficult to always be shouting at the rain so it seemed, but now we have made this a reality and it took every single player who's ever played and worn the jersey for the women's national team to get it there.

TODD (voice-over): In fact, the 6.5 million the U.S. women will make from the men's team advance is more than the women earned by winning the 2015 and 2019 Women's World Cups combined. Their 2015 win paid out 2 million, doubling to 4 million in 2019.

SCURRY: You know, FIFA has been unfair with the women, we've always been an afterthought to them.

TODD (voice-over): For decades, the U.S. women's team had fought against the U.S. Soccer Federation demanding equal pay.

MEGAN RAPINOE, WINGER ON U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL SOCCER TEAM: Every time a woman is not paid equally, sort of everyone is not and nobody's potential is able to be reached.

TODD (voice-over): It took a lawsuit settlement earlier this year to finally get the Federation to pay the women fairly.

LINDSEY GIBBS, SPORTS REPORTER, "POWER PLAYS" NEWSLETTER: There have been so many lockouts, so many times skipping camp, so many moments of labor solidarity, and things really revved up after the women won the 2015 World Cup. Every step of the way, there's been -- it's been a fight.

TODD (voice-over): And every step of the way, there's been a different kind of disparity on the field. In all of U.S. soccer history, the women's team has won four World Cups. The men have won exactly none. I mean, women carry soccer in the United States. I love the men's team, but it's the women who have put the sport on the map, who are the pride of the nation.

TODD (voice-over): But while U.S. Soccer has made progress on fair pay, World Soccer remains far behind. This year, the total prize money for the Men's World Cup is $440 million, more than 14 times as much as the prize money for the last Women's World Cup.

GIBBS: They've just felt proud of themselves for giving the women crumbs. It's just now that women's soccer has thrived despite the lack of investment.


TODD: I asked Briana Scurry if she or other former players will benefit from this new fair pay deal, she said she'll only benefit if the players union for the women decides to give former national team players some money. Either way, she said she's OK with it. She says she's just honored to have played a role in raising the visibility of the women's game and getting that deal done. Alex?

MARQUARDT: That's credible when you put those figures side by side.

TODD: Unbelievable.

MARQUARDT: Brian Todd, thank you so much for that report.

Let's discuss this with CNN's Sports Analyst Christine Brennan. Christine, thank you so much for being back with us. I think we would all agree it is of course great news that the women's team finally securing equal pay here. It is certainly not lost on you that women are now being paid more for the men's team advancing to the knockout round, not for winning, but to the knockout round than for their own World Cup wins.

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: Absolutely, Alex. And as Brian's report tells us, the numbers are stunning, although not surprising. This is what the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team has been telling us for decades. And of course, the U.S. Soccer Federation listened. And a key element in that, I think it should be shouted from the rafters as the U.S. is watching the men's team obviously do very well at the World Cup, Alex, is that the advocates for those women turned out to be the U.S. Men's National Soccer Team.

They were willing to give up some of their earnings as of course we're now seeing to make sure that the women got equal pay. That's extraordinary. These are young men who are raised very differently than their dads or their grandfathers, their title nine males really, appreciating women's sports, respecting women's sports, the girls that played next to them in high school, the women that they knew and as athletes in college.

And so we're seeing here something that is a sea change. It's much more than just sports. I mean, it is a cultural phenomenon, of course, led by the United States, led by the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team.

MARQUARDT: Do you expect that that would be replicated by other countries and in other sports potentially?

BRENNAN: Let's hope, but I'm not going to hold my breath on that one, Alex. Soccer, men's soccer, obviously, is what we're talking about here, is so full of misogyny and sexism. It's extraordinary. Brazil for a long time had a great women's team. And yet, the moment that the Women's World Cup was over or the Olympics were over, that team had to disband Brazil, great Brazil, soccer nation.


BRENNAN: The men would not allow the women to keep playing. And so, I think there's a long way to go, but the U.S. is certainly showing how it can be done. MARQUARDT: Christine, before I let you go, of course, we have to ask about the next men's match. We saw U.S. star Christian Pulisic, who scored the only goal yesterday, the winning goal, what do you know about his condition after getting injured and the likelihood that he's going to play Saturday against the Netherlands?

BRENNAN: Alex, U.S. Soccer is calling it day to day. He's 24 years old and he wants to be out there more than anything. We saw his heart, his desire, his physical prowess to score that goal and then obviously to be lying on the field and have to leave extraordinary the stuff of novels, the stuff of movies.


My guess is he will be back and give it a go. It is a contusion of his pelvic area or his hip that we're hearing. That's not easy. It's certainly not easy to run and play soccer. When you are your hip is hurting, but I would not be surprised at all to see him out on that field.

MARQUARDT: Here's the hoping he heals quickly. Christine Brennan, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

BRENNAN: Thank you, Alex.

MARQUARDT: And coming up, Attorney General Merrick Garland on the leader of the Oath Keepers being found guilty of seditious conspiracy. We'll look at what's next in the federal probes at the January 6 insurrection.


MARQUARDT: Happening now, Attorney General Merrick Garland touts a major victory for the Justice Department in its January 6 investigation following multiple guilty verdicts against top members of the Oath Keepers. We'll be speaking live with lawyers with the group's leader Stewart Rhodes, who was convicted on the rare charge of seditious conspiracy.

Also tonight, there is a scramble under weigh in the U.S. Senate to lock down the timing of a vote on averting a crippling rail strike.