Return to Transcripts main page


New Climate Change Report; Monica Lewinsky Breaks Silence

Aired May 6, 2014 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, a climate catastrophe. Stand by for a dire new report that helps explain our extreme weather and how it's affecting all of us right now. Every part of the nation is getting hit, and the worst is coming.

Plus, Monica Lewinsky breaks her silence nearly two decades after the sex scandal that made her a household name. She's opening up about her affair with Bill Clinton. She's opening up about Hillary Clinton's reaction, and Lewinsky also revealing she was once tempted to kill herself during her darkest days.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: And the breaking news this hour, President Obama just a few moments ago speaking out about something that sounds like a doomsday forecast, scorching heat, stronger hurricanes, floods, fires, torrential downpours and droughts. He's promoting a brand-new just- released White House report, and it spells out the potentially devastating impact of climate change on every part of the nation and draws a clear link to the extreme weather we have been experiencing.

The president warning, action is needed now.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is not some distant problem of the future. This is a problem that is affecting Americans right now, whether it means increased flooding, greater vulnerability to drought, more severe wildfires. All these things are having an impact on Americans as we speak.


BLITZER: And let's bring in CNN's Brian Todd. He's working the story for us.

So, Brian, a very, very dire report released by the White House.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely it is, Wolf.

One official told us that the temperatures we have seen over the past decade have been hotter than what was recorded in the last 1,400 years or more. 2012 was the hottest year ever recorded in U.S. history. This new report warns of what we will face in the very near future, but it says essentially Americans are already feeling the effects of global warming.


TODD (voice-over): The forecast is dire, more torrential rain, like Pensacola's record deluge that washes out streets and caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage. The threat of climate change is already in our backyards, according to a new report commissioned by the White House, and it's not just a distant warning about the future of polar bears.

DONALD WUEBBLES, UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS: Climate change in the U.S. is happening now. It's not somewhere in the future.

TODD: Donald Wuebbles and the team of climate scientists behind the report are calling for urgent action. They warn of the dangers Americans are facing directly as a result of climate change in each region, in the heavily populated Northeast, more coastal storm surges, heavier-than-ever down pours.

WUEBBLES: That leads to more flooding, more concerns about flooding. At the same time, sea level rising, more in the Northeast than most of the rest of the country, actually.

TODD: That means railways submerged, other big transportation disruptions. In the Southeast, especially in coastal areas, rising sea levels.

WUEBBLES: And then the other big concern is the increased intensity of hurricanes.

TODD: In the Midwest and Plains states, flooding in some areas, water shortages caused by too little rain in others, and in the West, more crippling drought. Experts say we're already in the third straight year of drought in that region, and it has a dangerous by-product.

WUEBBLES: Drier temperatures, the drier soils, all help lead to more wildfires and we have been seeing that.

TODD: Officials say to illustrate how climate change is impacting conditions on the ground in the West, President Obama was shown these two sharply contrasting satellite photos. They show the snowpack along California's border with Nevada on January 13, 2013, and the same place, same day, one year later.

The report's authors say you might escape some weather hazards in your region, but there's one phenomenon every American will feel.

WUEBBLES: Every American is already seeing more days coming as extreme hot days and that trend is likely to continue in the future.

TODD: With more extended heat waves, he says, especially in the West.


TODD: Now, Donald Wuebbles says we can all mitigate this if Americans and everyone placed more emphasize on conserving energy, keep figuring out ways to trap carbon dioxide before it's sent into the atmosphere. But he also says the climate is going to continue to change no matter what we do because of what we have already put in the atmosphere and we all have to adapt to it -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Brian, thanks very much.

Let's bring in our severe weather expert, Chad Myers, and our CNN analyst Miles O'Brien.

Miles, certainly isn't the first dire report that's emerged from Washington or from the United Nations or other international bodies. Why is this one potentially more significant?

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: You know, what catches my ear on this one, Wolf, is the tense. It's not a forecast. It's a now-cast. They are talking about things that are happening right now.

We're talking about increased rainfall in some places, drought in other places, a warmer and longer summer, and things like Hurricane Sandy, which have really brought home to Americans all over this country that climate change is here and now. That's what is different about this report. It's not something down the road. It's something that's happening.

BLITZER: Chad, you're one of the top meteorologists in the world right now. Your attitude toward climate change over these years has certainly evolved. Where do you stand now?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Ten years ago, Miles and I had the same conversation, and I said, Miles, you know what, there are still other options. It might not be human-made.

And, you know, hit me over the head enough times with a board, and I will tell you stop. I will say uncle. And over the past 10 years, my opinion has been, there is just nothing else. All of these zombie theories now that we know that they are called, what could be a heat island effect, all these things have just been completely disproven.

Here's what the glacier looks like up in Alaska, one of the glaciers. It's a lake here all the way -- ocean -- or at least ocean front property there. This is what it looked like in 1941. This is the ice that is now gone. We're at a tipping point, and I think we as Americans and as world citizens need to realize that we are at this point now. There's really nothing else that can make this.

BLITZER: All right, so here's the question to both of you. First to you, Miles, this new report, is it going to really make much of a difference?

O'BRIEN: Well, I think just what you heard from Chad is actually significant. I think there is a bit of a sea change under way. It reminds -- when the surgeon's general report came out on cigarettes way back in the '60s, there was a period of time when people were debating whether cigarettes caused cancer and all kinds of health effects, and on the one side was the tobacco industry, heavily funded.

I think we have gotten to the point it's almost like the cigarette debate, where it is given -- it's an assumption that it is happening. We can now move on to thinking about ways to adapt, because a lot of what we have done here is unstoppable.

BLITZER: But you -- I assume you agree, Chad, but go ahead.

MYERS: You know, if we know that there are going to be very heavy rain amounts all at one time and then big droughts, maybe we need to build more reservoirs. We are very smart people.

We can kind of mitigate the big effects of this. Now, you can't really move Miami back a couple hundred feet, trying to get it out of the way of a rising ocean, but there are things that we can still do.

BLITZER: I think you're both right. Chad Myers, Miles O'Brien, guys, thanks very much.

MYERS: You're welcome.

BLITZER: All right. We're just learning more about that incident that caused a lockdown at the White House. That lockdown was lifted just moments ago.

This new video shows a man who was taken into custody. A source familiar with the incident tells CNN that an individual was following a motorcade on to Pennsylvania Avenue that was carrying the Obama daughters, Sasha and Malia.

The source says the person who was driving the car in question has a pass to enter the Treasury Building, which is next door to the White House, but not the White House. There, you see the person who followed that motorcade with the Obama daughters in cars, and that person, obviously, detained by Secret Service personnel over at the White House, but the lockdown is now over with. The concern -- that lockdown lasted for more than an hour, the concern now over.

Still ahead, we have details from Monica Lewinsky's new tell-all. She says it's time to burn the beret and bury the blue dress, nearly two decades after her affair with President Clinton shocked the nation and battered the presidency.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Monica Lewinsky now says it's time to stop tiptoeing around her past and to speak out about her affair with President Bill Clinton and what it cost her. The former White House intern is now going public after years of silence. She's written a revealing new essay about her life now and then. It's in the new edition of "Vanity Fair" magazine. It's coming out later this week.

CNN's Tom Foreman is here with details.

And she is really, really opening up about what it -- how this impacted her life.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and when you think about what this story did to American politics and American life, this is a big deal.

This article answers a huge number of questions that have burned up Washington political and social circles for years now. And, of course, it will almost certainly ignite a new firestorm around the talk of a Hillary Clinton campaign for president.


FOREMAN (voice-over): Almost two decades after her relationship with the president shocked the nation, Monica Lewinsky is back in the news, telling "Vanity Fair" it's time to burn the beret and bury the blue dress.

In an essay out this week, the 40-year-old says the backlash to her affair with Bill Clinton has dogged her every single day and even pushed her to thoughts of suicide as she hunkered down in an apartment in the infamous Watergate building.

"My mother stayed by my bed night after night, because I was suicidal," she writes. "The shame, the scorn, and the fear that had been thrown at her daughter left her afraid that I would take my own life, a fear that I would be literally humiliated to death."

Lewinsky maintains the affair was consensual. "Sure, my boss took advantage of me, but I will always remain firm on this point. It was a consensual relationship. Any abuse came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position. The Clinton administration, the special prosecutor's minions, the political operatives on both sides of the aisle and the media were able to brand me, and that brand stuck, in part because it was imbued with power."

She says the notoriety deterred employers from hiring her, even forced her to become reclusive to avoid attention during Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign, but not anymore.

"Recently, I found myself gun-shy yet again, fearful of becoming an issue should Hillary Clinton decide to ramp up her campaign," she writes. "But should I put my life on hold for another eight to 10 years?" Lewinsky also responds to recently discovered documents that say Hillary Clinton called her -- quote -- "a narcissistic loony toon" after the 1997 scandal.

"If that's the worst thing she said, I should be so lucky," Lewinsky writes, "but, also, she may have faulted her husband for being inappropriate, but I find her impulse to blame the woman, not only me, but herself, troubling."


FOREMAN: In addition to all of that, Lewinsky says she deeply regrets what happened with President Clinton and realizes there may be consequences for speaking out now, but she's ready for them, she says.

The magazine comes out in New York and Los Angeles and on a variety of wireless devices on May 8. A lot of people will be reading it. Everywhere else, it goes on sale on May 13 -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, this excerpt that they released today is a very powerful excerpt indeed. All right, Tom, thanks very much.

Let's bring in our panel. Our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin is the author of "Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President." Also with us, CNN political commentator Ana Navarro and our CNN anchor Don Lemon.

You know, this -- you wrote the book on this whole sex scandal. It really changed her life. She went on to go to the London School of Economics, got a master's degree, but for all practical purposes -- she's now 40 years old -- she can't really get a serious job.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, and more importantly from her perspective, because I did a lot of reporting about her -- I have met her. She wanted one thing out of life. She wanted to get married and have a family. And here she is. She's 40 years old, and that hasn't happened for her, no career, no family.

It's a sad story. Look, she behaved badly. Certainly, the president behaved badly, but no one deserves to suffer for this long. But she's just become so famous, so infamous, that, unlike the president, she's not been able to get her life on track, and it's just sad.

BLITZER: Yes, she's 40 now. She was 24 at the time of the affair.

Don, she writes this in the article. I know you have read it, but I will put it up on the screen. "I was never quite right for the position. In some cases, I was right for all the wrong reasons, as in, of course, your job would require you to attend our events and of course these would be events at which press would be in attendance."

She explains very, very clearly why she -- she couldn't even find a job. No one wanted to hire her.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Well, and it's not that no one wanted to hire her. And, listen, what you said, you said an important number there. You said 24 years old. While I have empathy for Monica Lewinsky, at the time this happened, she was a grown woman; 24 is grown. People get married at 24, and a lot younger. You get jobs, you make your way in life, you handle your business at 24 years old.

Yes, he was in a position of power over her, but she was a grown woman at the time. Now, Monica Lewinsky and I lived in New York at the same time when this scandal was going on and afterwards. She got a job, remember, Wolf, as a handbag designer. Remember those days? And she was selling handbags. People were offering her jobs then. She was going around New York City, many times alone. She would be sitting in restaurants alone and meeting people, so I felt sorry for her then.

But Monica Lewinsky has a chance now and has had the chance to correct the record. Look at people now who have had worse scandals than Monica Lewinsky. They have been caught on tape having sex, like the Kardashians and others, and they have turned their careers around and made millions and have come back.

Monica Lewinsky has the same chance in America. She does not have photographs of her having sex. She does not have video of her having sex. Yes, it's a horrible tale, but she is in control of her own destiny and her own story, and perhaps this magazine article will help her do that.

BLITZER: Ana, let me read another couple sentences from the article, and get your reaction. She writes this: "I myself deeply regret what happened between me and President Clinton. Let me say it again, I. Myself. Deeply. Regret. What happened. I am determined to have a different ending to my story."

You read the excerpt. Ana, what did you think?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, it almost felt like a public catharsis, almost a public coming to Jesus and coming to terms with what happened.

You know, I think she wants to move on. She wants to bury the blue dress, she wants to burn the beret. I think we should all help her do that by not talking about this anymore. Clearly, President Clinton has moved on. Clearly, he has, you know, redeveloped the relationships with his family, with his wife, with his daughter.

I think the country has moved on, and I really do hope that Monica Lewinsky at 40 can move on and can have a life. If she's listening right now, Monica, 40 is a great age. You know, you have an entire life ahead of you. Move on. Move on and go do things with your life. Let go of this baggage that she's been carrying for 16 years.

LEMON: I agree. I agree.

BLITZER: You know, and, Jeffrey, she says she's written this article. She wants to help other people who have been so publicly humiliated move on, exactly what we just Ana and Don talk about. She wants to do that from her example. Can she do that? TOOBIN: Well, her example is actually not a very positive one. She has not been able to move on. That's the whole story of her life for the past 16 years.


LEMON: A lot of that is in her head, though, Jeffrey. A lot of that is in her head.


LEMON: I don't know what kind of advice she can give.

Look, I wish this woman well. The problem also is, she never had a skill. She was a kid. She was just graduated from college. It's not like, you know, Bill Clinton, for example, who was president of the United States, who had all sorts of other accomplishments. She had no marketable skill that she could sort of turn back to.

She had to start from scratch. And, you know, with that sort of notoriety, it was very difficult. Look, I'm sympathetic to her.


NAVARRO: But I must say...

TOOBIN: Go ahead, Ana.

NAVARRO: I must say, Wolf, I'm not sure that -- that if she wants to move on, working with people who in her mind have lived something similar to her is the best way to move on.

Maybe somebody that's watching today can call her and offer her a job doing whatever. You know, take it. If it means being a clerk, if it means being whatever, take it and do -- go -- you know, do move on for real.


BLITZER: Hold on, Don. Hold on for a moment. We're going to continue this conversation. I want to take a quick break. When we come back, we will also move on and we will talk about this new essay by Monica Lewinsky and will it affect Hillary Clinton, the presidential campaign she's considering right now?

Much more on this coming up.


BLITZER: We're talking about Monica Lewinsky. She's now breaking her silence in a brand-new magazine essay about her relationship with President Bill Clinton and the scandal that forced her to hide from the world.

So will it make an impact on Hillary Clinton, the 2016 presidential race, if she runs? We're back with our panel, Jeff Toobin, Ana Navarro, Don Lemon.

What do you think, Don? Will it make a difference?

LEMON: I don't think it will make a difference.

I think young people really don't care. I think it's a different time. As I was saying before, I think, listen, if you're asking me should Monica Lewinsky capitalize on her scandal, I would say absolutely yes. There are many people in the modern culture who have done it and she has a degree from the London School of Economics. I don't feel sorry for her. She can get a job.

And I don't think it makes a difference. Older, partisan people, it may make a difference to some of those folks, but, no, not at all. I think people -- it's water under the bridge.

BLITZER: What do you think, Ana?

NAVARRO: Look, I think Hillary Clinton knows that if she runs for president, she needs to put on her big girl pants and that a lot of things are going to be brought up. I think it's important to note that this is not getting brought up in a political context and not getting brought up by anybody in politics, but by Monica Lewinsky herself, who might be wanting to put it out there, anticipating a possible Hillary Clinton candidacy and nomination and not wanting it to come out then.

I think that if anybody in politics tries to bring this out, it can end up having a backlash and backfiring, because I think most women, the last thing we want is to see another woman being attacked and having her being gone after over something her husband did.


BLITZER: But, Jeffrey, you remember, like all of us remember, in 2008, when she ran for the Democratic nomination, it really wasn't an issue, the Monica Lewinsky -- but now we have at least one potential Republican candidate, Rand Paul, talking about Bill Clinton as a sexual predator. Could come up this next time.


TOOBIN: It could come up, but I think people have made up their minds about this story long ago.

And, remember, in the immediate aftermath of this scandal, she got elected to the Senate, almost immediately afterwards. So, if anything, it redounded to her benefit. I think people have made up their mind. It's an interesting story. But I don't think it's a politically...


BLITZER: Go ahead, Don.

(CROSSTALK) LEMON: And she's saying in this article that it is consensual.


BLITZER: Don, go ahead.

LEMON: If it is consensual between an adult who was between 24 and 25 years old, you cannot be a sexual predator if an adult is consenting.

BLITZER: Go ahead, Ana.

NAVARRO: Wolf, I would say to any of my -- to any of the Republicans listening, particularly anybody thinking of running for president, please don't go there. Please don't use this.

You have -- we have got to scrutinize Hillary Clinton's record. And she's got one. That can go through any and the most scrutiny you want, but, really, is it fair to scrutinize Hillary Clinton over actions done by Hillary -- by Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky in 1997, 1998? I think most people would say no.

BLITZER: She did write this.

She says: "Sure, my boss took advantage of me, but I will always remain firm on this point. It was a consensual relationship. Any abuse came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position."

All right, guys, I'm sure there's going to be a lot more coming out when more of this essay emerges in the coming days.

Thanks to all three of you, Jeffrey Toobin, Don Lemon, Ana Navarro. Good conversation.

By the way, you can catch a lot more of this and other subjects later tonight. Don Lemon will host a special program, "SPECIAL REPORT WITH DON LEMON." That airs only here on CNN, 10:00 p.m. Eastern. I recommend you check it out, 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

Other news we're following, leaders of the Republican establishment are promising to crush Tea Party challengers in this midterm election year. We're getting an early test of that today as three states hold primary contests, including North Carolina, where voting ends soon.

Our political reporter Peter Hamby is in North Carolina for us.

Set the scene for us, Peter.

PETER HAMBY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Wolf, you're exactly right.

Look, outside groups, the Republican establishment, that galaxy of party committees, operatives, business interests, who really above all else care about winning and taking over the U.S. Senate are really spending heavily here in North Carolina. This is the marquee race of the day, a Republican Senate primary. Republican Thom Tillis, who is the statehouse speaker, has the establishment support, and the goal for him today is to clear 40 percent and avoid a runoff election, which would happen in July and really pit him against a grassroots sort of Tea Party challenger and we'd see a lot of party infighting.

That would be expected. So he's trying to avoid that, the Republican Party is trying to avoid that. Over $2 million of outside money from the Chamber of Commerce, from American Crossroads, that Karl Rove- backed group, have come into the state to prop him up, so this isn't just your Tea Party vs. establishment sort of narrative, though, Wolf.

There's a couple candidates who are running against Tillis, but they aren't really great candidates, they haven't raised a lot of money, so that narrative does have its limits here, but we are going to be paying close attention. Polls close at 7:30, Wolf.

BLITZER: We will be checking back with you. Peter, thanks very much. Peter Hamby is in North Carolina.

That's it for me. Remember, you can always follow us on Twitter. Go ahead. Tweet me @WolfBlitzer. You can certainly tweet the show @CNNSITROOM. Be sure join us tomorrow right here in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can watch us live. DVR the show so you won't miss a moment.

Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Let's step into the CROSSFIRE right now with Van Jones and S.E. Cupp.