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State of the Union

Interview With Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN); Interview With Gov. Doug Burgum (R-ND); Interview With Former CIA Director David Petraeus; Interview With U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired June 25, 2023 - 09:00   ET




DANA BASH, CNN HOST (voice-over): Turning back. A heavily armed mercenary leader calls off his assault on Moscow. What does this attempted rebellion mean for Russian stability?

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): This is a blow to Russia, to our people.

BASH: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and retired U.S. General David Petraeus will be here.

And Russia's weakness. After a blow to Vladimir Putin's authority, Ukraine sees potential opportunity.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The man from the Kremlin is obviously very afraid and probably hiding somewhere.

BASH: As debate over aid to Ukraine splits the GOP, Republican presidential candidate Doug Burgum is ahead.

Plus: a new choice. Twelve months since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, for women, a year of change and a brewing political fight.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No president has ever fought for Christians as hard as I have.

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: How dare they attack our fundamental rights.

BASH: What is the future of abortion rights? Senator Amy Klobuchar will join me.


BASH: Hello. I'm Dana Bash in Washington, where the State of the Union is wondering, what's next?

The city of Moscow appears no longer under immediate threat this morning. A mercenary leader who turned against the Kremlin said he was pulling his forces back after getting as close as 120 miles outside of Russia's capital city.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the ruthless leader of the Wagner private military group, will not face criminal charges and will be allowed to travel to Belarus -- that's according to the Kremlin -- after he called off what Russian President Vladimir Putin said was an armed uprising.

But the incident called into serious question Putin's authority after Prigozhin and his forces were able to seize key military facilities in the south and posed the most serious threat to Putin's grip in all of his 23 years leading Russia, a nuclear power that stumbled badly in its unprovoked war on Ukraine.

I want to get straight to Moscow and CNN's senior international correspondent.

And I want to ask just about what you're seeing as our eyes and ears on the ground inside Russia.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, it's been remarkable, because, at the last minute, this deal was done to avert a crisis, as Wagner's forces were approaching within a couple of hundred miles or so from the outskirts of the Russian capital, that defenses had been built to protect -- to protect Moscow.

Roads had been dug up to slow the advance of the Wagner armored column. And everybody was anticipating there was going to be a clash, there was going to be bloodshed. And, obviously, that caused a great degree of anxiety and of nervousness.

But, as I say, that crisis was averted, a deal was done. And there's a huge sort of outpouring of relief, I think, within people inside Moscow that this didn't go further. I think what's interesting, though, is what comes next. And the images we're seeing on the scene -- on the screen now are from the Southern Russian city of Rostov.

It's got a city -- a population of more than a million people. And, basically, Wagner took over that city virtually unopposed. And these are images of them leaving. But a lot of people from Rostov have come out, and they're applauding Wagner. They're chanting: "Wagner, Wagner, Wagner." They're showing their support.

And these will be very disturbing scenes from the Kremlin to see how actually popular this incursion, this rebellion, this attempted coup, as it's been described by some Russian officials, by Wagner and its leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, was amongst many parts of the population, because his condemnation of the way the war has been conducted in Ukraine did definitely touch a popular nerve amongst ordinary Russians.

They may not express it publicly normally, but this sort of rebellion caused people, at least in those areas, to come out and to show their sympathy for what he said he was trying to do, so relief that the bloodshed was averted, but some anxiety too, Dana, about what comes next.

BASH: I'm sure. Thank you so much. Fascinating report, Matthew.

And U.S. intelligence officials believe Prigozhin had been planning a major challenge to Russia's military leadership for quite some time, and briefed top leaders in Congress just this past week. That's according to sources who have briefed CNN.


But the speed at which the situation unfolded this weekend caught them off guard.


BASH: Here with me now is Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Thank you so much for joining me today.

This march, within 120 miles of Moscow, Prigozhin then abruptly stopped, turned around yesterday afternoon. What happened? Why?

ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Dana, we don't have full information, obviously, and it's too soon to tell exactly where this is going to go.

And I suspect that this is a moving picture and we haven't seen the last act yet. But we can say this. First of all, what we have seen is extraordinary. And I think you have seen cracks emerge that weren't there before, first in having Prigozhin raise front and center, questioning the very premises of the Russian aggression against Ukraine to begin with, the argument that somehow Ukraine or NATO posed a threat to Russia, and a direct challenge to Putin himself.

So, think about it this way. Sixteen months ago, Russian forces were on the doorstep of Kyiv, Ukraine, thinking they were going to take the city in a matter of days, erase the country from the map. Now they had to be focused on defending Moscow, Russia's capital, against mercenaries of Putin's own making.

So, this raises lots of profound questions that will be answered, I think, in the days and weeks ahead.

BASH: I understand this is very much moving and a fluid situation.

One thing that Senator Marco Rubio said -- he's, of course, a top Republican on the Intelligence Committee -- he says that top military officials in Russia may have been replaced in order to get Prigozhin to back down.

Have any top military -- many top -- any top military officials -- forgive me -- like the defense minister been ousted, as far as the U.S. knows?

BLINKEN: We haven't seen that yet. But, again, I think we will see this unroll further in the days and weeks ahead. There's no secret to the fact that Prigozhin was very much a critic of

the military leadership, the minister of defense, the head of the armed forces. So how this now unfolds, in terms of personnel, all of that remains to be seen.

We are intensely focused on Ukraine and making sure that Ukraine continues to have what it needs to defend itself, to take back the territory that the Russians have seized over the past 16 months. And we're very focused on maintaining the unity of purpose and action that has been a hallmark of Ukraine's success to date.

The president brought together not only the national security Cabinet yesterday, but brought together leaders from among our key allies and partners. He instructed the rest of us to fan out to engage all of our allies and partners to make sure we were closely coordinating and keeping the focus where it needs to be, on Ukraine, on the efforts that they're making to take back the territory that Russia's taken from them.

BASH: I understand that, but just staying on Vladimir Putin for a minute, do you believe that this is the beginning of the end for Vladimir Putin?

BLINKEN: I don't want to speculate about that.

This is, first of all, an internal matter for Russia. What we have seen is this, though. We have seen this aggression against Ukraine become a strategic failure across the board. Russia is weaker economically, militarily. Its standing around the world has plummeted. It's managed to get Europeans off of Russian energy.

It's managed to unite and strengthen NATO with new members and a stronger alliance. It's managed to alienate from Russia and unite together Ukraine in ways that it's never been before. This is just an added chapter to a very, very bad book that Putin has written for Russia.

But what's so striking about it is, it's internal. The fact that you have from within someone directly questioning Putin's authority, directly questioning the premises that -- upon which he launched this aggression against Ukraine, that, in and of itself, is something very -- very powerful. It adds cracks.

Where those go, when they get there, too soon to say, but it clearly raises new questions that Putin has to deal with.

BASH: You talked about Ukraine, of course. Ukraine did launch simultaneous counteroffenses against several Russian fronts while all of this was happening.

What is your understanding of the latest on the ground in Ukraine? And will they be able to take advantage of the chaos on the battlefield? How much is the U.S. and U.S. allies, NATO, leaning into the chaos in order to take advantage?

BLINKEN: So, these are early days for the counteroffensive. It's going to play out over weeks, maybe even over months.

The Ukrainians have in hand what they need to be successful. It's challenging. It's a tough terrain. The Russians have put in place lots of defenses over the last months, in anticipation of this counteroffensive. But it is progressing.


And to the extent that Russia is now distracted, that Putin has to worry about what's going on inside of Russia, as much as he has to worry about what he's trying to do, not successfully, in Ukraine, I think that creates an additional advantage for the Ukrainians to take advantage of.

But, regardless, they are pressing forward. They have a clear plan. They're pursuing it.

BASH: Well, and the Ukrainian foreign minister -- I know you have heard this -- he says it's time for the U.S. and others to put the foot on the gas, give Ukraine everything it needs to finish this.

Is that going to happen?

BLINKEN: Well, I spoke to my friend and counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, just yesterday. We speak -- we speak pretty regularly.

And, throughout, we have worked to make sure that the Ukrainians have what they need when they need it to do as well as they possibly can on the ground. We will continue to do that. We're relentlessly focused on this. There's tremendous unity of purpose and unity of action among dozens of countries that, through the president's leadership, we have brought together and kept together, and we will continue to do that.

BASH: Secretary Blinken, Russia has nearly 6,000 nuclear weapons, the largest stockpile in the world. This situation really revealed that this very large nuclear power is facing some major instability.

Are you confident that the nuclear weapons are secure? And, more broadly, how concerned are you about Russia being unstable right now?

BLINKEN: Any time you have a major country like Russia that has signs of instability, that's something of concern and something that, of course, we're very focused on.

When it comes to their nuclear weapons, we have seen no change in their posture, and we have made no change in our own posture. But it's something, of course, we're looking at very, very carefully.

BASH: On Vladimir Putin, last year, the president said, "For God's sake, this man cannot remain in power."

Is that still the American position?

BLINKEN: These are decisions for the Russian people. And this entire chapter is an internal matter. It obviously has profound repercussions outside of Russia, including potentially in Ukraine. But, fundamentally, this is a Russian matter. It's not our business,

it's not our purpose to choose Russia's leaders. That's up to the Russian people. And we have no -- no beef with the Russian people. On the contrary, what is one of the many, many tragedies of what Putin has done in Ukraine is what it's done to the Russian people.

And you really have to ask, how has this in any way improved the lives of Russians? Of course, it hasn't. It's made them worse. But these are questions that Russians have to resolve for themselves.

BASH: I have to ask you about China. You just went to Beijing last week. It was an attempt to smooth frayed relations with China.

Two days later, President Biden called Xi Jinping a dictator, which angered China so much that they issued an official diplomatic reprimand to the U.S. ambassador. Was the president wrong to call Xi Jinping a dictator?

BLINKEN: Dana, it's very clear that, when it comes to China, we are going to do and say things that they don't like. They are going to do and say things that we don't like.

If you look at what comes out of the Chinese Foreign Ministry every day about the United States, you would hear plenty of that. But the purpose of the trip, at the president's instruction, was to try to bring a little bit more stability to the relationship, to demonstrate that we're committed to managing it responsibly, which really is an obligation nation for us and an expectation that countries around the world have, and to be able to deal very directly with our differences.

There's no secret about -- about those differences. There's no secret about concerns we have about democracy, about human rights, about some of the actions that China is taking around the world. And being able to have better, stronger, sustained lines of communication means we can talk about these differences directly, we can work through them where we can, but, at the very least, avoid misunderstandings, avoid miscalculations.

That's the fastest way to go from the competition we're in to a conflict we want to avoid.

BASH: Well...

BLINKEN: So, I think on those terms, the visit was positive.

And, again, one of the things I told the Chinese is that we're going to continue to do things and to say things that you don't like...

BASH: Do you -- do you believe...

BLINKEN: ... just as you're going to do the same. And we will work through them.

BASH: Do you believe that Xi Jinping is a dictator?

BLINKEN: The president speaks clearly. He speaks candidly. I have worked for him for more than 20 years, and he speaks for all of us.


Secretary of State Antony Blinken, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

BLINKEN: Good to be with you, Dana.


BASH: What does the Russia crisis say about Vladimir Putin's authority there? Retired General David Petraeus will join me to talk about that next.

And it's been one year since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. We will look at the future of abortion rights in the U.S. with Senator Amy Klobuchar.


Stay with us.


BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

As attacks between Russia and Ukraine continued this weekend, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is seizing on the challenge to Vladimir Putin's authority at home.

Here with me now to talk about that and much more is retired U.S. Army General and former CIA Director David Petraeus.

Thank you for joining me, sir.

I want to talk about the impact on Ukraine in a moment, but let's just start with what's happening inside Russia, a wild 24 hours. What do you make of what happened, and what do you believe it means for Putin's standing inside Russia?

GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS (RET.), FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Well, I think clearly Putin is weakened. His government is weakened.

The irony is that his junior partner in Belarus, Lukashenko, had to bail him out of this. Prigozhin kept his life, but lost his Wagner Group. And he should be very careful around open windows in his new surroundings in Belarus, where he's going.

Clearly, Prigozhin lost his nerve. He was, as you noted earlier, within roughly two hours' drive of the outskirts of Moscow, where they were starting to prepare defensive positions. This rebellion, although it had some applause along the way, didn't appear to be generating the kind of support that he had hoped it would.

[09:20:15] And, again, he decided to take the deal. He gave up this effort, so a stunning series of developments. In the meantime, Putin fled Moscow, reportedly, didn't stay around, and we haven't seen anything of Putin's minister of defense or chief of the general staff, Shoigu and Gerasimov.

So, again, clearly, I think the government has been shaken. Putin has been shaken personally. This makes him more vulnerable, arguably, than he has at any time in his two-decade rule of the Russian Federation. Who knows where this could go now.

We have always asked, who would be the one who would strike a blow at the czar? And now we know, although he failed. And it brings to mind also Napoleon's admonition, if you start to take Vienna, take Vienna. Prigozhin lost his nerve, turned around, and also the future of the Wagner Group not completely clear, how many of them will sign a contract with the Ministry of Defense, which was the real bone of contention to begin with, that Prigozhin would lose control of this mercenary force he's built over a number of years.

BASH: I want to ask about Putin, because you have studied him and you understand what makes him tick, so to speak.

He obviously portrays himself as the strongman in Russia. This conflict appears to have pulled the curtain back to maybe see something a bit different. Explain what it means for him, Vladimir Putin, the man who has so much bravado, to be metaphorically kicked in the teeth.

PETRAEUS: Well, it creates a lot of doubts, I'm sure, in the minds of those around him. I'm sure they already had many.

This whole invasion -- the latest invasion has been a catastrophic mistake, a terrible blunder on the part of Putin. The losses are staggering, many, many times already just in the first 16 months what the Russians lost in nearly a decade in Afghanistan, a war that ultimately was unsustainable.

And, of course, what we need to do is to continue to provide everything possible to Ukraine to enable them in this summer offensive, which is still in the earlier days -- early days, as the secretary of state noted, to succeed, and over time to convince Putin that he's not going to be able to outsuffer the Ukrainians, the Europeans and the Americans, the way Russians outsuffered Napoleon's army and the Nazis.

BASH: How unstable is Russia right now? How worried should the rest of the world be about that?

PETRAEUS: Well, it should -- we should be concerned about this.

I don't think we want a country that spans 11 time zones and includes republics in the Russian Federation of many different ethnic and sectarian groupings to come apart at the seams. We have seen what happens when there is regime change in countries over the last 20 years. The outcome is not always positive for the world. And it's just unclear where this will go. Is this the beginning of the end of Putin? We don't know. Whoever follows him, if that is the case, will he be even more dictatorial, which is what we feared might be the case if Prigozhin may have been successful? Could there actually be a pragmatic leader who steps in and realizes what a catastrophic error this whole Ukraine endeavor has been and realize that they need to somehow get a more rational approach to Europe and to the West?

Many, many unknowns, again, as Secretary Blinken highlighted.

BASH: Many unknowns.

I want our viewers to look at a map of the latest positions in Ukraine. Just this morning, Ukraine is claiming it took a new line of trenches back from -- in Russia -- from Russia and Bakhmut. I know you were just in Ukraine last month.

What should Ukraine do right now to take advantage militarily of the chaos inside Russia?

PETRAEUS: Well, I don't think, sadly, that the chaos inside Russia and even the -- Prigozhin surrounding the headquarters that oversees the so-called Southern Military District headquarters that is overseeing the operations on the ground in Ukraine, unfortunately, has not had a significant effect on the front lines, it does not appear.

So, what Ukraine has to do, really, is to continue these probing attacks, this reconnaissance in force, trying to find seams, trying to find areas that they can break through, then to commit their main forces.

We still have seen only a very small number of the new nine or so Western-equipped armored brigades, and then, of course, when they do that, to achieve combined-arms effects of tanks, with infantry, with air defense, with engineers, with artillery, mortars, electronic warfare, drones out over the enemy, good command-and-control, logistics right up behind them, and follow on-forces ready to exploit the opportunities that are created by the lead elements.


I think that will happen, but no one can predict when they might find this opportunity. Could it be around Bakhmut, from which, of course, the Prigozhin Wagner Group was withdrawn after its -- quote -- "success," the only success in the winter offensive that cost them some 20,000 lives, a staggering loss?

Will that be the location, or will it be a little bit further southwest, down around the Zaporizhzhia area, perhaps the border with Donetsk? Again, that's what they're trying to find out right now. And they know. They -- we discussed this when I was in Ukraine.

They have very clear eyes about the assessments about the strength of these defensive position, the multiple lines of minefields, obstacles, trenches and so forth. And breaking through those is very, very challenging in that very open terrain that characterizes the geography in that part of Ukraine.

BASH: General David Petraeus, so grateful for your time this morning, for your expertise. Appreciate it.

PETRAEUS: Good to be with you, Dana. Thank you.

BASH: My next guest is permanently banned from traveling to Russia. What's her take on the Putin crisis?

Senator Amy Klobuchar on Russia's weakened state next.



BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

It's been one year since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, and across the U.S., the change has been dramatic. More than a dozen states now ban or severely restrict access to abortion. And bans in six other states are caught up in the courts.


BASH: Here with me now is Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar.

Thank you so much for joining me.

I want to start with that attempted insurrection in Russia. It was an incredible threat to Vladimir Putin's authority. How weak is the Russian leader right now?

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Dana, this was really significant.

It showed a demonstrable crack in the strength of Vladimir Putin at home. It was a visible rejection of his war policy by a guy who had been his ally, who clearly had gone insubordinate on him, took over a town of over a million people, and brought his tanks to within 124 miles of Moscow.

So, it is very significant, and I think that it is something we have been seeing mounting. We have seen more and more criticisms of Putin. We know that he got into bed with this guy, doing business with someone who, of course, had been in prison for nine years, ran the troll -- Internet troll farm, recruited mercenaries in Syria and Libya.

And, at the other time, you see someone like Zelenskyy, who's leading with moral authority. So it is a clear difference, and as Zelenskyy continues and the brave soldiers of Ukraine continue their counteroffensive. We don't know the effect this will have, but it clearly once again shows the world the difference between what is happening in Ukraine and what is happening in Russia.

BASH: Well, you have traveled to Ukraine since Russia's invasion, and you're a big supporter, as you just alluded to, of Ukraine's efforts to win the war there.

Is there something that the U.S. should be doing right now, given the chaos in Russia, to help Ukraine seize this moment?

KLOBUCHAR: The U.S. has shown unprecedented leadership here.

When I was there with Senator Rob Portman, we were hearing at the embassy about how babies were being named Himar because of the weapons we have supplied, you know, 1,700 Stingers, over 10,000 Javelins, Bradley tanks, Abrams tanks. The president is now -- after the recent meeting of the G7, discussion between the countries about training the Ukrainians on advanced planes.

And we have been so focused. Congress has now authorized over $40 billion to help with military assistance. And you have seen allies from Germany, to Great Britain, to Italy, really all over the world join in this effort.

As the secretary of state just mentioned, the U.S. has been leading the allies. But, clearly, Vladimir -- clearly, Vladimir Putin realizes that it wasn't what he thought. He thought he could just march into Ukraine. But Zelenskyy went down to that street corner, said the simple words, "We are here." And that is what has guided their country ever since.

BASH: Just real -- real quick, though, is there something more that you believe the U.S. Congress in particular can do?


BASH: Or is there, frankly, too much tumult, particularly when it comes to the Republican-led House, on how much to support Ukraine going forward?

KLOBUCHAR: So, General Austin continues to talk to his counterpart in Ukraine.

And I know that we keep adjusting what we are sending. What has just happened with the budget agreement is that we locked in the president's budget on defense, which was a 3 percent increase over the year before. That is significant. There's always the possibility of an additional emergency appropriations.

But the key is that we didn't falter. Democrats and Republicans, not everybody, but worked together to get that agreement to show the world that we stood with Ukraine. That was significant, and then the ongoing discussions on additional weaponry. And you just heard the discussion about the planes in the last month and also the possibility of ATACMS, which President Biden has said he is open to now.


BASH: Let's turn the discussion back to the United States and what's happening this weekend. It's the one-year anniversary of Roe v. Wade being overruled. Since then, 14 states have imposed strict abortion bans. Another half-a-dozen states are fighting in the courts. The legality of common abortion drugs are also in flux.

Congress needs 60 votes, I don't need to tell you, to act in the United States Senate. How would you describe abortion rights in the U.S. one year after Dobbs?

KLOBUCHAR: The Supreme Court turned 50 years of precedent on its head, and everything that you and I talked about a year ago that would happen has happened.

We have a patchwork of laws. We have women in Texas who are told they have to keep carrying their baby after they learned that their baby is going to die. We have a 10-year-old girl in Ohio that had to go to another state after she was raped to get an abortion.

We have a law on the books in Wisconsin that's from 1849 that's governing women's reproductive rights today. The leaked Alito opinion probably said it best when they quoted a Middle Age treatise. And, as someone said afterwards, why move forward if they nailed it back in 1223?

Well, we know they didn't nail it back there. And the women of the country and the -- really, and the men who support them have come forward in big ways, voting in big ways to reject these Republican policies in Kansas to Alaska. And, unfortunately, instead of backing down on this, the Republican Party has been doubling down, putting bans in place.

The answer is to codify Roe v. Wade into law in the Congress. And, of course, as you point out, realistically, the only way we can do this is by the ballot box, and that is for the people of America to vote where they believe -- we have got 80 percent of people opposing a national abortion ban -- to vote for candidates that are willing to support Roe v. Wade in 2024.

BASH: So, Senator, I want to ask you about that, the patchwork of laws now going on across the country, because state laws are so different.

The limitations on abortion, Democrats often say, like you just said, that you support codifying Roe v. Wade. Roe didn't place limits on third-trimester abortions. It just allowed states to do so. Would you support a federal law that bans abortions after viability?

KLOBUCHAR: What I support -- and I will be very clear about this -- is Roe v. Wade, which does allow for limitations, but it also protects the life of the woman and the health of the woman.

I think that is the best way to go. But you look at what they are doing, their leading Republican candidates, Dana, are asking for abortion bans. Trump was on just last night gloating about how he had put these Supreme Court justices in place that had reversed Roe v. Wade.

BASH: So you support...

KLOBUCHAR: What a difference with President Biden, who is standing up for the rights of women.

I support allowing for limitations in the third trimester that do not interfere with the life or health of the women.

BASH: Got it.

On another matter that's brewing here in the United States, House Republicans say two whistle-blowers from the IRS told lawmakers they recommended charging Hunter Biden with six felonies and five misdemeanors over his taxes. Instead, the plea deal includes two misdemeanors.

One whistle-blower, Gary Shapley, says the DOJ gave Hunter Biden preferential treatment. Hunter Biden's lawyers, I should say, that that's preposterous and deeply irresponsible to argue.

From your perspective in the United States Senate, on the Judiciary Committee, somebody who has oversight, do you believe that these claims should be investigated?

KLOBUCHAR: I believe in the justice system.

And, in this case, Merrick Garland, this case has been turned over to a Trump-appointed, a Trump-appointed U.S. attorney who, according to "The Philadelphia Inquirer," was a registered Republican, has a good reputation, has been a prosecutor for 10 years. And he has looked at these facts.

Hunter Biden has taken responsibility as a private citizen, has paid back the taxes, and has pled to federal charges. That's what's happened here.

And if that is what the Republicans want to run on, good luck, because we're going to have a president that is running on the fact that he brought 13 million jobs back to this country, that we have seen a resurgence in manufacturing, that we are finally not just talking about taking on the big pharmaceutical companies, but that we passed my bill to allow Medicare to negotiate prices to bring down the prices of prescription drugs for our seniors, that we're doing something about veterans' health care.


That is what President Biden is going into the election year to run on. So they can do whatever they want with investigations and talk about these things. I trust the justice system, and I believe that the American people are going to see through this and look at this as a private citizen with addiction issues who took responsibility.

And you have got a president who's out there fighting every day for the American people.

BASH: Senator Amy Klobuchar, thank you so much for joining me.

KLOBUCHAR: It was great to be on, Dana. Thank you.


BASH: And Russia's war in Ukraine splits the Republican Party. But does the crisis on Putin's front lawn show that those billions of dollars of American aid is working?

I will ask a Republican presidential candidate next.



BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

The 2024 Republican presidential field continues to grow, as does Donald Trump's lead. A new poll just out this morning shows Trump with 51 percent support, consolidating his lead over his rivals, even after his second indictment.

My next guest is a self-made billionaire and one of the newest GOP candidates. Here with me now is North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum.

Thank you for joining me this morning.

I want to start, sir, with news out of Russia. And that, of course, is, Yevgeny Prigozhin withdrew his insurrection against Vladimir Putin. How would you handle this moment if you were president of the United States? What would your message to Vladimir Putin be?

GOV. DOUG BURGUM (R-ND), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, Dana -- and, first of all, great to be with you.

But I think what the message would be is that we might not even be in this position if we had an energy policy in the United States where we said we're going to sell energy to our allies, as opposed to buy it from our adversaries.

I mean, the whole reason that Putin had the ability to invade Ukraine in the first place was, he knew that all of Western Europe was dependent on his energy. And so, in the United States, we seem to -- the Biden administration seems to want to separate energy policy from national security. We can't separate those two things.

And then, of course, now we have put sanctions on Russian oil. And then what happens then? Russia is selling oil at sometimes 20 percent to 30 percent discount off world market. To who? China, China the world's largest importer of oil. They import over 10 million barrels a day.

And then, when we're negotiating with China, we're not talking about energy policy, because we're trying to regulate U.S. energy out of business.

BASH: Right.

BURGUM: So I think a lot of this was avoidable in the first place. BASH: Right, but, Governor, you know that, if you become president, you're going to take over the world that is -- that you know, not the world that you wish existed if you were president before.

So, given the current state of what is going on in Russia and Ukraine and the attempted insurrection, what would you do?

BURGUM: Well, I think, at this -- this moment shows the cracks within -- with Russia and Putin losing his grip on that country.

We have an opportunity, along with our NATO partners, to -- in this situation to really get behind and support Ukraine. Let's give them the support they need. Let's get this -- let's get this war over now, instead of having it be protracted.

And, of course, what's been going on with the Wagner Group, I mean, this is not just a recent thing. This is a 10-year-old organization with over 65 different shadow companies around the world that's driving Russian influence and taking over Syrian oil fields, gold mines in the Central African Republic, interfering in Latin America.

And all of that is really an extension of -- it's another oligarch that Putin is in line with. And this whole deal, I mean, I don't know that Prigozhin is gone. I mean, if he's going to Belarus, where -- which is Putin's other oligarch buddy that was taking now Russian nuclear tactical weapons, I don't know that he's really gone from the scene.

I think there's a lot -- a lot of instability here. And this is an opportunity for the United States and NATO to really secure a position of strength in Eastern Europe.

BASH: You just launched your candidacy less than three weeks ago. A lot of Americans might not know you quite yet.

So, why are you better than anybody else in the Republican field, at least a dozen candidates, to take on Joe Biden in November?

BURGUM: Well, first of all, Dana, I don't think a dozen candidates is too many. Competition is great for America. It's great for any industry, and it's great for the Republican Party, and it's great for our voters to have choices.

But, within that, I mean, one of the differentiators is, when I grew up in a teeny little town in North Dakota working on the farm, working on the ranch, working at the grain elevator, even working as a chimney sweep to pay my way through college, it wasn't until my -- until long after college that I actually had a job where you took a shower in the morning versus one that you took at the end of the day.

I mean, having a president who understands what American workers have to do to deal with the inflation, with the high energy costs of the Biden administration, that -- that makes a difference. And I also -- as someone who's had -- built global businesses and been a governor, I have got some unique strengths, the only person that's ever worked in technology -- and, of course, technology is the -- changing every job, every company, and every industry.

It hasn't changed much in government. And that's one thing we have seen in North Dakota. We have been able to take billions of dollars of cost out and, at the same time, lower taxes, improve the effectiveness, and really drive our economy forward.

North Dakota is on the way to having the highest GDP of any state in the nation. So, I think we've got -- I have some unique strengths to bring. But our real focus is going to be on the economy, energy and national security. Those are the things that a president should focus on.


BASH: Yes.

BURGUM: And that's what we will do when we're in the White House.

BASH: I want to ask you about one of the big issues, the debates inside the Republican field, which is about abortion.

Yesterday was one year after the end of Roe v. Wade. You say that you would not sign a federal ban to -- a federal abortion ban, I should say, it should be left to the states. Last night, the former president said that he -- effectively, he didn't say he reversed course, but he did reverse course and said that he would support the federal government playing a -- quote -- "vital role."

Before that, he said states should decide. Is he wrong now in his current position about a federal role?

BURGUM: Well, I believe strongly that the federal government overreaches in so many different areas.

And I support the Dobbs decision. It should be left to the states. When -- when I'm in the White House, we're going to make sure that we return the power to the states. The Constitution defines what the limited role for the federal government is. And that does include making sure that we have things right on economy and energy and national security, including the security of our borders.

Many of these other things that presidential candidates and the current administration get dragged into really belong not just to the states. Sometimes, it belongs to a city commission, a county commission, a township board, a library board, or maybe the family themselves, because, you know, if we're going to be a country of freedom and liberty, then we need to make sure that we're focused on innovation.

That's what's driven our country forward, not regulation, not coming up with a rule that tries to inject a viewpoint on everything.

BASH: So...

BURGUM: Our -- America is super diverse, and we need to make sure the federal government stays focused on its role. BASH: Governor, thank you.

Unfortunately, we're out of time. I hope to have you back, a lot more to discuss. Thanks for joining us this morning.

BURGUM: Thank you, Dana.

BASH: And we will be right back.



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Thanks so much for spending your Sunday morning with us.

Fareed Zakaria is coming up next.