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The Situation Room

Zelenskyy Wraps Talks With Biden After Attending Cabinet Meeting; Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) Warns GOP Hardliners Want To Burn Down House; Former Trump Aide Claims Rudy Giuliani Groped Her On Jan. 6; Zelenskyy Delivers Major Speech During U.S. Visit; Fox And News Corp. Chief Rupert Murdoch Stepping Down. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired September 21, 2023 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

It's a very busy day of breaking news on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in his visit to Washington, capped by his talks with President Biden and a speech at the National Archives tonight.

CNN's Senior White House Correspondent Kayla Tausche is covering all of this for us. Kayla, give us the latest on President Zelenskyy's momentous trip and his appeal for US aid.

KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well tonight, President Biden meeting with President Zelenskyy directly and the U.S. and a Ukrainian team sitting across from each other while Zelenskyy shared a message of deep gratitude to the west and particularly to the United States for its long-running investment in its war against Russia.

But Zelenskyy here in Washington faces an uphill battle to renew that support.


TAUSCHE (voice over): Tonight, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrapping up a critical visit to Washington, including a stop at the White House, to sustain the marathon of war. Funding is set to dry up in weeks. The Biden administration is sending more weaponry, HIMARS systems, anti-armor capabilities, artillery and cluster munitions from money already green-lit by Congress.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Mr. President, it's an honor to welcome back to the White House and the Oval Office.

TAUSCHE: Zelenskyy, in his trademark fatigues, sharing his battlefield perspective with the White House cabinet.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: I thank the United States of America and Mr. President for the new defense package for Ukraine, a very powerful package. Thank you so much. And it has exactly what our soldiers need.

TAUSCHE: And his plans to rebuild with the former commerce secretary. But, first, he needs tens of billions of dollars to fight. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill still skeptical.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wish Ukraine well, and I also wish our European allies to do their part.

TAUSCHE: House Speaker Kevin McCarthy refusing to commit to a vote on new funding.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Look, we've got to get our first -- our fiscal House, taken care of here in America.

TAUSCHE: The White House says the weapons are working.

JAKE SULLIVAN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We are providing our helping Ukraine not only make forward progress, but also critically defend the territory that they continue to hold against Russian efforts to overrun it and occupy it, because Putin has not given up on his fundamental goal, which is to subjugate the country of Ukraine. And we will not permit that to happen and the Ukrainian people will not permit that to happen.


TAUSCHE (on camera): This evening, just moments ago, reporters asked Biden and Zelenskyy, what assurances they've received from Congress that there will be support for more aid? Speaking on behalf of the entire group, President Biden said that he's counting on the judgment, the good judgment of Congress. There is no alternative. Wolf?

BLITZER: Kayla Tausche, you're reporting from the White House. Thank you very much.

Let's stay at the White House right now. The National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, John Kirby, is joining us. John, thanks very much for joining us.

I want to get first on President Biden and President Zelenskyy's meeting behind closed doors. Is President Biden satisfied with the battlefield assessment he got today from President Zelenskyy amid deep concerns over Kyiv's counteroffensive?

JOHN KIRBY, COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: Well, nobody can speak better to the Ukrainian military progress and the challenges that they're still facing than the commander-in-chief of their armed forces, President Zelenskyy. So, President Biden was very grateful to get a battlefield update from President Zelenskyy. And, of course, that battlefield update is going to be fresh. It's going to be updated. It's going to be as detailed as President Zelenskyy could make it.

We know that they haven't gone as far as fast as they themselves want to, but we also know, and we've seen in recent days, Wolf, that they have been making some steady progress, particularly in that southern line of advance. They're up against really tough Russian defenses and minefields, but they're working their way through that.

BLITZER: The president, President Biden, unveiled a significant new aid package today for Ukraine, but long-range ATACMS missiles were apparently not on the list. If the ATACMS are still on the table, why not approve them now, John, while Zelenskyy is here in the United States to send a strong message to Putin?

KIRBY: Well, there's certainly no announcement on these long-range missiles today, Wolf. I would just tell you that we continue to talk to the Ukrainians. We have and we will about what they need on the battlefield. And you heard yourself, President Zelenskyy, saying that this package that the president announced today is exactly what his forces need. We're not going to take anything for granted.


We're going to continue to talk to him about that going forward.

BLITZER: But the ATACMS are not in this current package, is that right?

KIRBY: That is right.

BLITZER: Russia unleashed the new very brutal wave of attacks on Ukrainian cities overnight. Is that Putin's way of sending a message to the United States?

KIRBY: Well, again, I wouldn't be able to speak for Mr. Putin. I think the message was loud and clear on behalf of the United States to Mr. Putin today that we're going to continue to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes. And, you know, the war could end today if Mr. Putin would just get his forces out.

BLITZER: President Biden told President Zelenskyy today that the United States will support Ukraine into the long-term. But doesn't this disarray up on Capitol Hill over funding for Ukraine send a different message?

KIRBY: The president, as you heard him say really is, we're relying on the good judgment of Congress here. And in the discussions that we've had with leaders of Congress from both chambers and both parties, there has been resounding support, particularly at the leadership level, for continuing to support Ukraine. And we're confident that that support will continue.

Yes, there is a growing number of voices, particularly in the House Republicans, of people that are disputing whether or not aid Ukraine is worth the effort, but they don't represent their leadership. They don't even represent the majority of their party.

So, we're going to keep at it. We're going to continue to consult with Congress. There's been no blank check for all this talk about blank checks. Every single package gets -- we consult with Congress on for visibility and transparency on what we're providing. That will be the same with the package that the president announced today. And we're going to continue to work with members of Congress going forward. BLITZER: House Republicans say they want answers on the plan for victory against the Russians in Ukraine. They want to know they want everyone to know they won't be funding this war indefinitely. Will President Biden be able to convince Congress to pass his request for $24 billion in new aid to Ukraine.

KIRBY: Look, we really -- we put a lot of thought into that supplemental request, Wolf. That wasn't just pie in the sky thinking. There was a lot of analysis that went into what we thought we needed to help Ukraine for the first quarter of the fiscal year, basically the next three months. In the fall and towards the late fall, it's going to start getting tough there in terms of weather.

So, we're really confident that we're asking for the right things. And if we can't get that supplemental approved, it's going to have a deleterious, a significant impact on Ukraine's ability to continue this fight into the fall.

Now, they've got some good weather still ahead of them here. But as we get closer to December, it's going to get tough for the Ukrainians to be able to not only defend the territory that they've won back but to gain new territory.

So, this is a critical time. This is a critical time for President Zelenskyy to visit, critical time for him to be able to talk to members of Congress. We hope that they found his account and his perspectives as compelling, as President Biden did, and that we get the supplemental into their hands.

BLITZER: Yes, the stakes are enormous right now. Retired Admiral John Kirby, thanks so much for joining us.

KIRBY: Yes, sir.

BLITZER: Just ahead, with just nine days left for lawmakers to fund the federal government, House Republicans were just sent home. They were just sent home for the weekend. We'll take you to Capitol Hill next as the government shutdown looks more likely by the hour.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.



BLITZER: Tonight, the House speaker, Kevin McCarthy, is plotting a new push to try to avoid a government shutdown in a little over a week. But hard line Republicans are pressing on with their rebellion, delivering new setbacks for the speaker.

CNN Capitol Hill Reporter Melanie Zanona is joining us now from Capitol Hill. Melanie, is the threat of a shutdown becoming more real tonight?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, Wolf, I would say it had been trending in that direction already, but now more than ever, yes, the threat of a government shutdown is real. In fact, Kevin McCarthy decided to send his members home for the rest of the week after a tumultuous few days here in the House.

Initially, GOP leaders were planning to put a short-term funding bill on the floor on Saturday. They had loaded it up with conservative priorities, trying to win over hard line conservative critics. But that was not enough. There were too many members who were just saying they would not support any short-term funding bill under any circumstances. And in a sign of the dysfunction, they couldn't even get the votes to pass a procedural vote on a defense bill today.

Afterwards, Kevin McCarthy was visibly frustrated when that vote went down. Let's take a listen.


MCCARTHY: It's frustrating the sense that I don't understand why anybody votes against bringing the idea and having the debate.

This is a whole new concept of individuals that just want to burn the whole place down.


ZANONA: So, as you could hear, Wolf, tensions at an all-time high right now is Republicans wrestle with how to govern.

BLITZER: Melanie Zanona up on Capitol Hill, thank you for that update.

I want to bring in CNN Political Commentator Scott Jennings and Jamal Simmons.

Scott, there's very little time left to avert a government shutdown. Is the speaker, Kevin McCarthy, making a mistake sending the members home this weekend?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, not having him there doesn't necessarily mean he's not, and they are not working through the weekend. I'm certain they're going to be having lots of phone calls and lots of conversations to try to pull people together here. It's not clear where it's going to go, but I know the speaker's office is working feverishly to try to drive some consensus.

To me, the big news of the day was Congressman Lawler of New York saying that he would vote with the Democrats on a clean C.R., which would be a little bit of a change than what we normally see in the House, where you would have one member of the majority party joining with the minority party to do something.

So, if we get down to it and some of these more moderate Republicans who live in purple districts and in blue states feel like they need to do some self-preservation, that could be something that drives this debate in a different direction.

BLITZER: Jamal, what do you think? How realistic is that discharge petition, as it's called?


JAMAL SIMMONS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't know how realistic it is, because I can't imagine Kevin McCarthy would bring this to the floor just with Democrats or with Democrats making a difference while most of his caucus is against it. I think this is going to be a real challenge for him.

I get worried about Kevin McCarthy as speaker because if he can't deliver his caucus, I'm not sure what kind of negotiating partner he is for the president. And we've got a lot of big things to manage, including making sure Ukraine gets funded, which by the way, Kevin McCarthy says he wants to have debates in the House.

He doesn't want to have Volodymyr Zelenskyy speak to the House caucus, the House congressman and women, to talk to them. He won't bring him in front of the House. And so I think that's another time he could get a conversation and a debate going, why not have the president of this country speak? And then the members can argue amongst themselves about whether or not they agree with what he said.

BLITZER: President Zelenskyy did meet with the Republican leadership, but not all of the members of the House. He wasn't invited to address the joint session of Congress, as you know as well.

Scott, I want to get your reaction to what Republican Congressman and Freedom Caucus member Bob Good told CNN earlier today about the standoff. Listen and watch this.


REP. BOB GOOD (R-VA): We expect the speaker and the Republican leadership to help advance Republican priorities, Republican policy objectives to do what he committed to do in order to become speaker. And we will evaluate him based on whether or not he does that. And I've said, you know, that I think he's accountable to do that.


BLITZER: So, Scott, do you see a realistic path for Speaker McCarthy to make a deal that doesn't cost him the speakership?

JENNINGS: Well, yes. I mean, he has pulled a few rabbits out of a few hats this year when we thought he was at an impasse. So, yes, I do think there's a path.

I think the thing that some of these Republican congressmen though fail to remember is that we're living in divided government. You have a Democratic president, you have Democrats in control of the Senate. What happens in the House, even if it were to satisfy every Republican, is highly unlikely, if not virtually impossible, to pass the Senate. And so, you know, this is just but the first hurdle to jump over, and we are in divided government.

And so I think Kevin McCarthy has actually done a really good job of advancing Republican principles despite divided government, and I think his conference ought to give him the latitude to do that here. But right now, you've got some people who are more interested in chaos and dysfunction than they are in giving their leadership the latitude to do the best they can in a divided government situation.

BLITZER: Yes, a really, really very serious situation.

Jamal, how do you think Democrats should handle a motion to remove Speaker McCarthy? Would doing so make a government shutdown more likely?

SIMMONS: Yes, Wolf. Democrats are in a pretty tough position here because, on one hand, Kevin McCarthy has shown they really can't control the House, right? It seems like the House is running itself without him being in charge. On the other hand, if you were to get rid of Kevin McCarthy, I'm not sure who it is would replace him and whether or not that person would do any better or be a better partner.

So, the Democrats are kind of in a tough position. They may end up having to support Kevin McCarthy as speaker just to have the person you know versus the one that you don't who might be even worse off than the one you have.

BLITZER: Jamal Simmons and Scott Jennings, guys, thank you very, very much.

Coming up, we'll talk to a Republican presidential candidate who recently went to Ukraine. We're going to hear what Chris Christie has to say about the fractures in his own Republican party on continued support for Ukraine. That's coming up next right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.



BLITZER: We're getting more reaction right now to the historic events here in Washington as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is wrapping up a day of high level talks and House Republicans remain divided over US aid to Ukraine.

And joining me now, Republican Presidential Candidate and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Governor, thanks so much for coming into our Situation Room.


BLITZER: Good to have you. Let's talk a little bit about some substantive international issues. You want to be president of the United States. Today the speaker, McCarthy, he refused to commit to even putting Ukrainian aid on the House floor after meeting with the Ukrainian president, Zelenskyy. How concerned are you right now, Governor, about the growing resistance among so many of your fellow Republicans to providing this desperately needed assistance to Ukraine? CHRISTIE: I'm really concerned, Wolf, and given that I went to Kyiv about six weeks ago, I met with President Zelenskyy there, toured around the country, and saw the barbarism that's being committed by the Russian army, the deaths to civilians, the kidnapping of over 20,000 children.

And this is a war that's being funded by the Chinese, Russia is doing the fighting, now the North Koreans and the Iranians both providing weapons for this. This is a threat to the United States. We have to stand with our allies and our friends and do this. And I think this kind of shortsighted isolationism, which is what Donald Trump has bred in our party.

BLITZER: Do you blame Trump for this?

CHRISTIE: Oh, I absolutely do, absolutely do, because he's bred this kind of isolationism in the party, not understanding that America is only at our best and our strongest when we are leading in the world. And we leave that vacuum. The Chinese will fill it, Wolf.

And, you know, all these folks in about how much they resent, are angry with, are threatened by the Chinese Communist Party, this is the time to send the Chinese Communist Party a message.

BLITZER: Interesting. A very important issue that came up in recent days, the Biden administration will not, repeat, not be providing Ukraine with what they want, these long-range ATACM missiles.


When I interviewed President Zelenskyy at the U.N. earlier this week, he said to me that such a move would be a major loss for Ukraine at this desperate time. He needs those missiles. What do you think?

CHRISTIE: I think that we've waited too long to give them all the weaponry they need to win the war. President Biden has done better than President Trump did, and President Trump did better than President Obama did regarding Ukraine, in my view.

But here's the thing, it's not good enough. He's given them just enough not to lose. We want them to win. People don't want these forever wars. Well, the way to end this war is to give them the weaponry they need to defeat the Russian army.

They can do it. They've made gains in the counteroffensive here in the late part of the summer, early part of the fall. Let's give them the weaponry we need -- they need right now. We need them to win this war. We need to give them, along with our European allies, the weapons they need.

BLITZER: And I want to be precise. The Biden administration is not going to be providing the ATACM missiles at least right now. They may change their mind and do it down the road. But you think, what, it's too late?

CHRISTIE: It's wrong. It's just wrong, Wolf. And what it does is it elongates the war. I mean, look, I think President Biden has to stop hand-wringing on this. He was hand-wringing on the Abrams tanks. He was hand-wringing on the F-16s, now on these ATACM missiles. Let's stop it. Let's give them what they need.

And, look, if six months from now or two, giving them everything they need, they're not making progress in the war, then we have to reevaluate it. But we don't -- can't reevaluate it smartly if we're not giving them what they need to win.

BLITZER: Let's talk about a potential -- and it could be enormously painful for so many Americans if there's a government shutdown. And it looks like there's a lot of dysfunction among your fellow Republicans up on Capitol Hill right now. Is Kevin McCarthy the right leader, the right speaker to deal with this very important issue?

CHRISTIE: I think he's the only speaker to deal with it at this point. You know, look, you have a very small number of people, as you know now, Wolf, four or five members of the caucus who are pushing it in this direction. But this is what happens when you have such a thin majority as he has. He's got the toughest job in Washington right now in terms of trying to manage all that.

I think Kevin is doing the best he can. But I think he was honest today, and I think he needs to do more of this. He said these folks are trying to burn the house down. And I think he needs to be honest and strong about this and let people know exactly what's happening in the country.

And, you know, let's face it, your job when you come here is not to shut the government down. It's to run the government more efficiently. And by shutting it down, that's a cop out. It's a cop out. We have divided government. We've got to come to a resolution with the Senate and get this done.

BLITZER: I do want to get to some of the political issues that are coming up right now. As you probably know, Donald Trump, he posted a series of social media attacks going after you, attacks against you last night. He called you, and I'm reading now a grifter. He attacked your record as governor of New Jersey and he attacked your campaign. He clearly sees you as a potential significant rival.

CHRISTIE: Right. Well, you know, he said himself, Wolf, a few weeks ago, I only attack number two. Well, he has stopped attacking Ron DeSantis and he started attacking me.

You and I've sat here before and had this conversation, I told you that I was going to gain in this race. We've seen it now in all the polling in New Hampshire. I'm a second place in New Hampshire. We are going to take on Donald Trump directly, and he doesn't like it when he's taken on directly and he's confronted.

I'm the only one on that stage who was unwilling to raise my hand, beside Asa Hutchinson, and say I wouldn't support a convicted felon for president of the United States. He doesn't like when people stand up to him and call him out on the nonsense that he's involved in and I guess he had a bad night last night. Maybe he had some bad Chinese food or something, Wolf, about 11:30 at night, a little indigestion, decided to attack me. Keep it coming, Donald.

And, by the way, if he had any guts, he'd get on the debate stage and he's got things to say about me, stop hiding behind your social media site, your failed social media site, Donald, and start taking me on directly. Show up, stop being a coward.

BLITZER: The Wall Street Journal Editorial today said this about Donald Trump's refusing to go to this second debate next week. You can see the headline there, why is Donald Trump afraid to debate? And then Wall Street Journal Editorial page wrote this, he's ducking exchanges with his competitors who could challenge his record and platform.

Why do you think he's refusing to debate?

CHRISTIE: Look, if I had his record, I wouldn't want to debate either. He said he was going to balance the budget in four years as a businessman. He added $7 trillion to the national debt. He said he was going to build a big, beautiful wall across the entire border of Mexico. He built 52 miles of new wall in four years and he said Mexico was going to pay for it. They never did. He said he was going to repeal and replace Obamacare. He had a Republican Congress, he couldn't get it done. Look, they're not -- that's not a record to be proud of.


And what he also led to was Joe Biden becoming the president of the United States. And lots of Republicans like me object to that as well. We want to win the White House back.

He's afraid to get on that stage, lastly, because he doesn't want to face me, Wolf. I prepared him for the debates in 2016. I prepared him for the debates in 2020. He knows what that's like. He doesn't want the American people to see it. I do.

BLITZER: Governor Christie, thanks for joining us.

CHRISTIE: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: And just ahead, new reaction from Rudy Giuliani after very disturbing and detailed allegations against him just surfaced in a former White House aide's new book. We'll walk you through Cassidy Hutchinson's claims. That's coming up next.


BLITZER: A new response from Rudy Giuliani calling accusations that he groped a former White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, quote, totally absurd.


That allegation detailed in an excerpt from her new book first obtained by the Guardian.

Let's bring in CNN Anchor and Chief Legal Analyst Laura Coates. Laura, these were really explosive allegations. Remind our viewers, first of all, about how Cassidy Hutchinson, how she is unique from the rest of Trump's circle in terms of her credibility.

LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: You know, these were very explosive allegations against the former mayor of New York, of course, and the counsel for the former president of the United States, who is also now a co-defendant in Fulton County, I might add.

Remember that Cassidy Hutchinson was the person to provide explosive testimony for the January 6th committee about that, whether a Secret Service agent told her that the president lunged at the driver of the so-called Beast, the car the president of the United States is riding in, in an attempt to get him to take him as the president to the Capitol on January 6th, amid an active insurrection.

She's also the person who said that President Trump at the time did not seem to care that people had weapons as they were going in front of where he was giving his rally and his speech en route presumably to the Capitol, saying they're not here for me.

She's also going to talk about what Mark Meadows was or frankly was not doing at the time, and being responsive to calls for him to tell the president to stand down or tell those who were at the Capitol to stand down.

So, this is somebody who we already know has provided some very significant testimony and I might add a supporter of Trump, was actually present in an employee at the White House at the time of January 6th.

So, we're talking about a very long in terms of the tenure that she would have been a supporter of Trump and the timing of it suggests her credibility that she's not someone who simply was after him or an axe to grind. That's what has been assigned.

BLITZER: Good point. Just tell us a little bit more about how significant Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony for the January 6th investigations was.

COATES: She has really outlined the big question for people as to what was the president thinking and doing at the time. You know, we all were watching what was going on, on January 6th, on that very fateful day and the question was where is the president, the long amount of time before you heard from him in front of the camera, was it begrudgingly, was it otherwise? Were there adults in the room? Was he horrified or otherwise what was going on? That's all part of the story that she was able to give color to, I might add, after she retained new counsel.

But now, we're hearing these explosive allegations, Wolf, against Rudy Giuliani around that same day on January 6th. She's alleging, of course, in a forthcoming book that is called Enough that he groped her at a rally backstage, putting his hand allegedly under her blouse and under her skirt, talking about the a substance as well of the election-related lies that were being told. Now, he has come out to say this is a disgusting lie, that this is not what happened, and they have questioned, of course, the timing of her decision to come forward now given that she's been in the public light for quite some time. They're suggesting somehow this was an effort to sell more books or boost sales.

But you have to go back to your original question, Wolf, the idea of one's credibility. And it really is for those who are reading or observing and hearing the testimony, whether it be written or, of course, in person for that January 6th hearing, and to understand what would be the motivation to tell the lie, do you credit what she is saying, do you assign her as truthful.

BLITZER: How does this latest accusation against Giuliani fit into his host of legal problems?

COATES: He does have a host of legal problems, doesn't he, from the ideas of being disbarred potentially, of course, to just more generally losing a law license in certain areas, to, of course, now being a co-defendant in Fulton County, and then get the defamation suit that he was a party to when you were talking about two election- related workers, Ruby Freeman and, of course, daughter, Shaye Moss. So, he's got a whole host of troubles around him.

But we don't actually see the allegations that Cassidy Hutchinson has raised as a part of any of these indictments so far or accusations. What it would be broadly looked at, I would say, if you're the prosecution looking at a case like this and trying to build it, is about what his state of mind would have been on those days, what -- how emboldened he may have been, how careless or reckless or perhaps criminal in nature and the action he was taken. Could you extrapolate from that to determine how he was feeling and other things? It is obviously very tenuous a connection. But the fact that this has been alleged is particularly inflammatory. He calls it perhaps libelous, and we will see what comes next.

BLITZER: Laura Coates, thanks as usual. Thank you very, very much.

And to our viewers, you can, of course, catch Laura Coates once again later tonight, 11:00 P.M. Eastern on CNN Tonight.

COATES: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Coming up, Fox and News Corporation Chairman Rupert Murdoch announces he's stepping down.


And now, there are questions about what will happen to his media empire after his successor takes over.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Let's go live right now to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaking live over the National Archive, just started speaking. It's the only public address during his visit here in Washington.

ZELENSKYY: Each of them and what I noticed there during the meeting with them, with the doctors of the Staten Island University Hospital, in their eyes, I noticed that the people who work there in the hospital and return our guys to life, to normal life, Americans, Americans and they are also proud of Ukrainian warriors.


Never before, never before have Americans been so proud of power and strength of Ukrainians. Thank you so much.


It's a great privilege to be here, and thank you. And dear friends, dear Americans, among the documents I saw here today, thank you, today at the National Archives of the United States with a telegram from Abraham Lincoln to General Grant, an inspiring document, absolutely.

Hold on with a bulldog grip and talk as much as possible, President Lincoln's words reflect, reflect the courage that helped America. Such words reflect exactly how Ukrainians fight. In our victorious battles for Ukraine and Kharkiv and the Snake Islands in the Black Sea, in our battle for Bakhmut where our soldiers are pressing forward, no matter the challenges, in our battle for every inch of Ukrainian land, every day of this war, Ukrainian soldiers hold on with a grip of a bulldog.

They shoot and choke the Russian occupiers as much as possible. Never before have the Russian dictatorship met such strong resistance, and never again will Russia manage to destroy any other nation.


Putin's list was long. Just recently after Ukraine, if we fall, half of Europe would again be in danger of being in Moscow's sphere of influence, but American investment and Ukrainian security and global protection of freedom is working 100 percent, every cent.


Now, Putin's list of goals is different. Instead of dictating to America, Europe and the whole free world, Putin is forced to humiliate himself by personally entertaining a delegation from Pyongyang and trying to find favor with Tehran. This is his clear weakness.

Yes, it's true, Ukraine pays the highest price for defending freedom and global security. Every day, every night, our soldiers, our soldiers sacrifice their lives, holding their ground in the trenches, on the front line. They lose their comrades in battles. They lose limbs, treading (ph) Russian mines every day, every night. Russia continues its terror with missiles and Iranian drones.

But every day and every night, our unity stays strong. You support us and we know we shall not fall. And we see how our freedom keeps this niche of a bulldog, and we are confident that other nations will not have to throw their armies into this battle because Ukraine -- because Ukraine is capable of ending this war with a victory that will become our common victory.

It is not the evil empire, not, but the lack of unity that can bring freedom to its knees, and we will do everything to ensure that our unity, the unity of Ukraine, the United States and the entire free world become stronger than ever before and that all people, women and men, adults and children, every -- every family, people's deepest desire to live and not artillery or missiles would determine the life on us (ph).



BLITZER: Very strong, very, very powerful words from the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, speaking over at the National Archives here in Washington, making the case for continued U.S. support for Ukraine at this very, very difficult moment. He was introduced there by his wife.

We'll take a quick break. Much more news right after this.



BLITZER: It's the end of an era. Fox and News Corporation Chairman Rupert Murdoch announcing his retirement from the global media empire he built.

Brian Todd is covering the story for us.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A seismic moment in the news media universe as Rupert Murdoch announces he is stepping down as chairman of Fox Corporation and News Corporation at the age of 92.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, in some ways, it feels a little bit like the beginning of the end. That is that whatever its form, it's hard to imagine that Fox Corp and News Corp, the great twin Murdoch media empires, will be the same without him.

TODD: Murdoch's elder son, 52-year-old Lachlan Murdoch, will become the top executive of both companies. As a young man, Rupert Murdoch himself had inherited a small newspaper business from his father in Australia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He felt that his father had been cheated of ownership of newspapers in a few of Australia's larger, more important, more prominent cities. Murdoch took that to drive his appetite to build.

TODD: Murdoch didn't just build. He exploded, utilizing his ruthless corporate intuition to take the helm of famous newspapers like "The Wall Street Journal", "The London Times" and "The New York Post". He launched Sky TV and established Fox News channel as a competitor to CNN in 1996.

From those pulpits, Murdoch became a political mogul as well, dominating conservative discourse in the U.S. Despite having what analysts say was a personal disdain for Donald Trump, Murdoch's alliance with Trump during Trump's presidency often seemed unstoppable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A number of key members at Fox and stars at Fox served as his kitchen cabinet. Murdoch himself had access to the White House, routine calls, periodic visits.

TODD: A partnership that came crashing down when Fox had to pay more than three quarters of a billion dollars to Dominion Voting Systems to settle a defamation case, a suit that forced Murdoch to acknowledge that Fox News hosts promoted the falsehood that the 2020 election had been stolen from Trump.

Murdoch saying of the lie, quote, I would have liked us to be stronger in denouncing it in hindsight.

ERIK WEMPLE, WASHINGTON POST MEDIA CRITIC: There is enormous panic going on inside Fox News. These people were freaked out about the possibility that their most extreme viewers or even their core viewers would move to Newsmax.

TODD: Murdoch now promises that his son, Lachlan, will carry the conservative torch with his media companies.

KATIE ROBERTSON, MEDIA REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: People will really be looking at what Lachlan does actually believe. I mean, for the last four years, he has been the heir apparent and has obviously convinced his father that he's going to continue his legacy and in how he's running the businesses.

TODD: But when Rupert Murdoch either dies or otherwise no longer controls the family trust, it's not a certainty that Lachlan Murdoch will be able to hold on to all of it. Three of Rupert Murdoch's other children are also on the family trust board, all have an equal vote on the future of the empire. It's not clear if all of them will support Lachlan -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Interesting. Brian Todd, thank you very much.

Let's discuss with CNN senior media reporter Oliver Darcy and CNN media analyst Sara Fischer.

Oliver, what are you learning? I know you are doing a lot of reporting on this -- about why Rupert Murdoch is making this move now?

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: Well, it's a big time in media with a lot of challenges facing organizations with artificial intelligence and streaming, presenting challenges to the media industry. But as you said, Rupert Murdoch is a huge political force. He used his media outlets like Fox News, "The Wall Street Journal" to advance a conservative political world view. And I think the most important thing is he is saying that Lachlan Murdoch, the heir to him, his son, is going to do that.

I want to read part of the memo that he issued to Fox employees today. And he says, in his memo, he talks about a fight for freedom of speech and the fight for freedom of thought. He goes on to say that he believes that self-serving bureaucracies are seeking to silence those who would question their providence and purpose. Elites have open contempt, he says, of those who are not members of their rarefied class.

Most of the media is in cahoots with the elites, peddling political narratives rather than pursuing the truth. Of course, Wolf, it would be wrong for us to read that statement without pointing out that Murdoch himself is part of the elite. He's a billionaire. And he just paid $787 million because his outlet, Fox News, peddled a falsehood instead of pursuing the truth.

BLITZER: Sara, what do you see as Murdoch's lasting legacy?

SARA FISCHER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: Yeah. Well, in addition to having the political influence that Oliver spoke to, he's also one of the most successful business people in the U.S. and you can't question that. He has a net worth of well over $8 billion. I think that he leaves a legacy of entrepreneurialism in media that a lot of people have now tried to replicate, people in the newspaper business trying to buy up TV companies and vice versa.

But to Oliver's last point, I think the biggest thing that he leaves as he steps down as executive chairman of both of these companies is a sense of partisan divide across America. You know, Fox News was embroiled in the defamation suit after a divisive election in which Fox News was a central part. And that's something that can't be forgotten about his legacy.

BLITZER: Sara Fischer, Oliver Darcy, guys, thank you very, very much.

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

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.