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THE SITUATION ROOM
Roman Polanski Controversy; Interview with David Wells; Interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger; Interview with Tom Ricks on Iraq; Interview with Taylor Branch; Interview with Madeleine Albright
Aired October 3, 2009 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: A former prosecutor admits he lied about the case against director Roman Polanski. I'll ask him if he's trying to make sure Polanski goes to jail three decades after he had sex with a minor.
Arnold Schwarzenegger responds to complaints that Hollywood is simply out of touch. My exclusive interview with the California governor on everything from presidential politics to legalizing pot.
And secret taped interviews with Bill Clinton. They're the basis for a new book filled with fascinating anecdotes from the Clinton presidency, the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and a whole lot more. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THESITUATION ROOM.
It's a bombshell rocking the high-profile case of the film director Roman Polanski. He's now sitting in a Swiss jail and fighting extradition to the United States. Former prosecutor is now saying he lied about influencing the judge in Polanski's child sex case, and that admission could kill Polanski's claims of judicial misconduct. That former prosecutor, David Wells, will join us right here in THE SITUATION ROOM. That's coming up.
But first, more on this stunning twist from CNN entertainment correspondent Kareen Wynter.
KAREEN WYNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's yet another bizarre twist in one of Hollywood's most notorious sex cases.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where he had sexual intercourse.
WYNTER: A retired Los Angeles prosecutor now at the center of the more than three decade-old Roman Polanski case. One he had ties to only in the beginning.
TOM O'NEIL, IN TOUCH WEEKLY: It's shocking that someone of his rank and his importance in this case would do such a thing.
WYNTER: That former prosecutor, David Wells, who, again, was not involved directly in the Polanski case later on, was seen here in the 2008 HBO documentary "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired." Wells initially told the filmmaker he coached, then presiding Judge Lawrence Rittenban (ph) on the case. That would have violated ethical standards. But the claims opened the doors for Polanski's attorneys who pushed to have the case dismissed, alleging judicial misconduct. That his fate was already sealed before he could be sentenced.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what I told him was, you know, judge, you've made so many mistakes I think in this case.
WYNTER: Now that very same David Wells who took credit for those backdoor judicial dealings says it was all a lie. Like this story in the film where Wells claims that he counseled Rittenban on Polanski's sentence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said what am I going to do? Or what should I do? And I said what you should do is set him up for a 90-day observation.
WYNTER: Wells worked in the California courthouse where in 1977 the famed director pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. Polanski fled the country the following year to avoid sentence. The fugitive director was arrested Saturday in Switzerland. But Wells, a former prosecutor, who's now changed his tune, has also joined Polanski in the spotlight.
Some wonder, was he lying then? Is he lying now? And what could his motivations be here?
O'NEIL: Wells thought he could get away with what he believed was a little lie at the time because the judge is no longer alive. And as this steamrolled and the stakes increased, Wells had a moment of conscience and said, oops. I lied.
WYNTER: Kareen Wynter, CNN, Los Angeles.
BLITZER: And joining us now, the retired deputy district attorney, David Wells, who's now at the center of this controversy. Mr. Wells, thanks very much for coming in.
DAVID WELLS, FORMER LOS ANGELES DEPUTY D.A.: You're welcome.
BLITZER: Why would you make up this story to HBO?
WELLS: When I was a D.A. in Malibu the last couple years in the office, this film crew said that they were from France and making this documentary. And they were going to try to sell it over there. I was under the impression that it never would be shown in the United States. And I made these imprudent comments just to liven it up a little.
In retrospect, it was a bad thing to do. And I never knew this thing was going to be shown in the United States until somebody called and told me it was on TV. So, you know, looking back at it now is a bad thing to do. But like I said, it's not -- I wouldn't be the first person that's buttered things up for a documentary. And viewing that documentary, there was a lot of misstatements in there anyway. And they don't all come from the prosecutorial side.
BLITZER: All right. So you basically confirm you did lie. You say you lied to the HBO documentary filmmakers, right?
WELLS: That's correct.
BLITZER: Okay, all right. Let me read to you the statement that Marina Zinovic, the director of "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired," the HBO film, what she just put out.
For the record, on the day I filmed Mr. Wells at the Malibu courthouse, February 11th, 2005, he gave me a one hour interview. He signed a release like all my other interviewees, giving me permission to use his interview in the documentary worldwide.
At no time did I tell him that the film would not air in the United States. Mr. Wells was always friendly and open with me. At no point in the four years since our interview has he ever raised any issues about its content. In fact, in a July 2008 story in "The New York Times," Mr. Wells corroborated the account of events that he gave in my film. I am astonished that he's now changed his story. It is a sad day for documentary filmmakers when something like this happens.
All right, she's definitely contradicting you on several points, including the notion that she never told you this wouldn't air in the United States.
WELLS: You know, there's a long -- it was a couple of years ago. And my recollection was, she never mentioned her being -- doing this for a French company, but it was my impression it was not going to be shown here.
BLITZER: Based on what?
WELLS: And she -- I had the impression -- I'm sorry.
BLITZER: Based on what? How did you get that information?
WELLS: It was not going to be shown -- well, because she hadn't even sold the thing yet. And when she told me that it was for French TV, I think I quipped something to the effect of, well, you're going to need an interpreter because I don't speak French. And I might have misinterpreted what she said. That's possible, giving her the benefit of the doubt. But I never thought it would be shown here.
BLITZER: But quickly, why is it okay to lie on French TV as opposed to lying on U.S. TV?
WELLS: Well, you know, I could call it, you know, building a bigger story, putting my part in the case bigger than it actually was, but when you peel away all the feathers and things, it's a lie. And I should not have done it. I wish I didn't. When I heard that they were making an issue out of this, and I knew Polanski had no standing because he was a fugitive. So once that -- once his hearing was denied, I called the D.A.'s office and told, look, I've got to tell you I lied about this. I embarrassed the office. I'm sorry I did it, but I'm going to own up to it.
BLITZER: Why did you tell "The New York Times" that you stood by the story you told to HBO back in July of 2008? You told "The New York Times" that you were corroborating it.
WELLS: Well, you know something, I was still trying to back out of this thing because I figured Polanski was never going to come back. I wanted to put it to bed. And I didn't want to hold myself out as a liar. And as a matter of fact, once he was arrested in Switzerland I figured, look, I'm going to let this thing out. I'm going to tell the story the way it is. And if I take a beating over it, I deserve it. And I do.
BLITZER: Here is exactly some of the...
WELLS: I mean, don't like admitting to this.
BLITZER: A lot of people are asking this question. Are you lying now or were you lying to the HBO documentary filmmaker? Because so much is at stake right now. His whole appeal, as you know, was based on what you told HBO.
WELLS: If he had come back, the D.A.'s office, I imagine, would have put me on the witness stand or Mr. Dalton would have put me on there. And I would have told the story I'm presently telling, that I had not discussed the case with Rittenban. That would have been a surprise to them. I didn't want to surprise either one of them. So I told the D.A. after the judge denied his motion to set aside the plea, that I had lied, and I was available for a statement if the D.A.'s office cared to take one from me.
BLITZER: The California bar...
WELLS: And then when he was arrested...
BLITZER: Mr. Wells, is probably going to investigate your behavior, given the fact that you're an attorney. Are you ready to say, under oath, what you're saying to all of us right now?
WELLS: Absolutely. Absolutely.
BLITZER: Are you ready to take a polygraph test?
WELLS: I'm even willing to take a polygraph over it. Oh, yeah. I'll take-from a polygraph operator, yeah.
BLITZER: Because we'd be more than happy to get a reputable polygraph operator to come in and film you taking this polygraph on this sensitive subject. WELLS: I would be happy to do that. And I have no problem with it. The only issue is what is the position of the district attorney's office on this? As you know, polygraphs are inadmissible in court. They may not want me to do it. If they say don't do it, I won't do it, but I'm willing to do it. I have no problem with that.
And to get back to that lie, you did it because you thought it was going to make you more important? Make you look better? Is that why you did it?
BLITZER: And did you get paid from the HBO documentary filmmaker? Were you paid for this?
WELLS: Of course not. I wouldn't take money for something like that.
BLITZER: So it was simply...
WELLS: I was a D.A. It was improper.
BLITZER: It was simply your ego at the time. And you wanted to pretend that you were a lit more in this case than you actually were?
WELLS: You're saying it better than I am. But what you're saying is true.
BLITZER: Mr. Wells, thanks very much for coming in and offering us your side of the story. I suspect the story is by no means going away.
WELLS: I would think not.
BLITZER: Thank you.
WELLS: You're welcome.
BLITZER: And we called the Los Angeles District Attorney's office about the polygraph. They say David wells is now retired. They can't control what he does.
Some movie stars feel one way, prominent officials another. But what does the movie star turned Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger think? He's standing by. He joins me in an exclusive interview. We'll talk about the Polanski case and even if he'd consider pardoning Polanski if the director needed one.
And an award-winning journalist explains why the Iraq war is, in his words, "the biggest mistake in the history -- in the history -- of U.S. foreign policy. And former Secretary of State Madeline Albright says "read my pins." Wait until you hear some of the stories behind her signature jewelry.
BLITZER: Battle lines are hardening in the Roman Polanski controversy. Some liberal movie stars are on one side urging Polanski's release. Some prominent officials are on the other side, urging punishment for the director. But what does a movie star who became a governor think? It's a CNN exclusive interview.
BLITZER: And joining us now, the governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger. He's over at the Port of Long Beach on an important day.
Governor, thanks very much for coming in.
SCHWARZENEGGER: Absolutely. It's my pleasure.
BLITZER: You're doing everything you can to deal with climate change, although Meg Whitman, who wants your job she's a Republican, running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. She says this about your plan. She says, quote, "As governor, I will work hard to protect our environment, but we cannot afford to hastily implement job-killing policies when 2.2 million Californians can't find work."
You want to react to her?
SCHWARZENEGGER: There was an assumption when I came into office that you can only protect the environment or the economy. You have to choose between one and the other.
I think that we have proven very well within in the last five and a half years that you can do both. And we have been very aggressive with that, creating jobs and protecting the environment.
BLITZER: I will take that as a you believe Meg Whitman is wrong in her criticism of your policies, but let's move on.
Are you satisfied or frustrated with what's been going on in Washington since President Obama took office as far as global warming and climate change are concerned?
SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, I'm very encouraged about what's going on.
I'm very encouraged about his executive order of trying to clean up the environment and reducing greenhouse gases by telling industries to reduce the output of CO2 and to go and really start regulating those industries.
And I'm very happy that we are also making the same kind of changes in transportation, because transportation, basically transporting people or goods, is 30 percent of all the greenhouse gas emissions. And then the rest of it, what he's talking about, reducing greenhouse gases with industries, that's 70 percent of the greenhouse gases that have been put out.
So, I think this is a really courageous thing. BLITZER: All right. I hear that what -- you're saying, Governor. It sounds to me like you're really in with Al Gore. You believe in what he's doing. You associate yourself with his policies on the environment.
SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, I'm not associating myself with anything other than with anyone in the world that is talking about, you know, reducing greenhouse gases and doing everything we can in order to fight global warming.
I mean, so, I am part of this whole movement, if it is Al Gore, if it is Clinton, or anyone else that is out there that is fighting this war.
BLITZER: Is it true, Governor, that you are regulating the amount of time your kids can be in the shower to help save water?
SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, to be honest with you, I think that if you don't start with the children, with our next generation, you don't have much. And I think that the kids should see that we are putting solar panels up in our hill in order to, you know, create through the heating of the pool and the Jacuzzi, that we shouldn't go and take that from the grid.
They should see that we are going to cut down on the amount of showers they take, because 20 percent of the energy's being used delivering water. So, if you cut down our water usage by 20 percent, which is the goal that we are setting in California, reduction of 20 percent usage of water, I think that all of this helps in order to cut down on the emission on CO2.
BLITZER: The Roman Polanski child sex scandal, what does the former movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger think about Hollywood's reaction to it? Much more of my exclusive interview with the California governor, that is coming up.
Plus, he's called them knuckle-dragging Neanderthals and said they want the sick to die quickly. So, why aren't Republicans offering a resolution condemning Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson?
And a quake kills more than 1,100 people in Indonesia, while a killer wave leaves death and destruction behind in American Samoa.
BLITZER: In the Roman Polanski, some liberal movie stars feel one way, prominent officials another. But what does a movie star who became a governor think?
In part two of my exclusive interview with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, he weighs in even, even answering a provocative hypothetical.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BLITZER: I've got a series of some quick questions, hopefully some quick answers on various aspects of news of the day, Governor.
SCHWARZENEGGER: That's impossible.
BLITZER: Let's go through them.
SCHWARZENEGGER: You know I can never give you quick answers.
BLITZER: You can do this. I know you can.
BLITZER: Where do you stand on the Roman Polanski uproar?
SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, I think that it doesn't matter if it's Roman Polanski or anyone else. I think that those things should be treated like everyone else. It doesn't matter if you are a big-time movie actor and -- or a big-time movie director or producer.
I think that he is a very respected person, and I am a big admirer of his work. But, nevertheless, I think he should be treated like everyone else. And one should look into all of the allegations, not only his allegations, but allegations about his case.
Was there something done wrong? You know, was an injustice done in the case and all this? I want you to look into all this, and I think that it should be treated like everyone else's case.
BLITZER: Is Hollywood out of touch with mainstream America when it comes to a case like Roman Polanski's?
SCHWARZENEGGER: I don't think it's as much out of touch. I think Hollywood has always been very liberal.
I think that, you know, 40 years ago, when I came to this country, they were very liberal. And they're still very liberal now. And, you know, you may call it out of touch, but, you know, that's just the way they think. They just think differently about all of this.
BLITZER: If he comes back to California and goes through the legal process, would a pardon by the governor of California -- you, for example -- is that something you might consider?
SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, again, there is -- I get all the time requests for pardons. So, for, you know, all of this, I will not treat his situation any differently than anyone's else's.
I think that we're looking at everything, at every request and in an independent way, but it shouldn't be treated differently. BLITZER: On health care reform, you tried unsuccessfully to get universal health in California care back in 2007. Is President Obama going to fail or succeed in his effort?
SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, first of all, let me just say, it's always a matter of opinion of what is success and what is not.
I think we were not successful in getting it passed through the senate. We got it through the assembly. But we were successful in driving the agenda forward, that other states that are talking more about health care reform. I think the federal government started talking more about it.
And I think, you know, this is an issue that has been talked about for a hundred years. I mean, Teddy Roosevelt has talked about, you know, universal health care in 1912.
I think that, eventually, we're going to get it done. And it's not one of those things that you just come in, and, because you're a new president, that you just can get it done from one month to the next.
I think this is still a big climb uphill, and I think a lot of work still needs to be done. But I think that one ought to give the administration credit for trying very hard and moving forward with the whole thing. And it could easily be that they fail.
I hope that they're going to win and that we have a good health care reform package there, because it's going to benefit the states. It's going to benefit the children. It's going to benefit those that are, you know, uninsured right now. It's going to benefit those that are having a difficult time getting health care because of some previous illnesses or a medical history or because of age and all of those things.
BLITZER: All right...
SCHWARZENEGGER: So I think there's a lot of things that we can do to -- to really create the reforms.
BLITZER: And do you support the public option -- a government- run health insurance company to compete with the private insurance companies?
SCHWARZENEGGER: I would stay away from that as far as I can, because government cannot run anything. And we have seen it here in California, that government is running the health insurance and the health care of our prisoners. And a federal judge had to step in and take over the health care of our prisons in California because it was disastrous.
So if they cannot even run 170,000 inmates that are locked up and can't go nowhere else, if they can't even run that, how can they ever going to run a health care or an insurance program of any sort for millions and millions of people in the United States?
I would just stay as far away as I can from that. Government is not successful in anything that they do. So therefore, don't do it.
BLITZER: You did support the president's economic stimulus package, about $800 billion.
Has it succeeded in creating jobs in California so far?
SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, I know there's always been criticism about this economic stimulus package, which I understand, because everyone is concerned about spending and all those things. But the fact of the matter is, in California, it has had a great impact. We have gotten billions of dollars for education. We've gotten billions of dollars for infrastructure. And we're building our roads and bridges and everything. And we are on the verge of getting billions of dollars for our high-speed rail. And there's all kinds of money there and high technology for battery development and all those things.
So, I mean, I would say that it has been a huge success for California and, it, in fact, has created jobs.
Has it created as many jobs as they have dissipated already?
You know -- you know, numbers are always being made up about this. But I can tell you, it was very helpful. And remember, every single job that you create is one less person that is out of work and that is going home and saying, look, I cannot provide for the family, I don't have money and feel unproductive.
So, I mean, I think this has really been a -- a terrific success. And I hope they're going to continue this. And I want to thank the Obama administration for this great effort.
BLITZER: Is it time, Governor, to legalize marijuana?
SCHWARZENEGGER: I don't know. I -- I tell you, that I don't know as much about it as, you know, maybe I should. But, you know, my idea was that we should have an open discussion about it to have a debate about, you know, the pros and cons and let's hear it all. I've heard both sides already. But, you know, this -- one has to look into it and just see were there any states or any countries anywhere in the world that have done that and that have been successful. And if, yes, let's analyze that and let's study that. That's the bottom line.
And so I hope that we will have those discussions in the near future so we can really resolve that one way or the other. In the meantime, we have medical marijuana that is -- is legal here in California and I think that's all going well.
BLITZER: Now, you have a little bit more than a year to go as governor of California. You can't seek another term because of term limits. If, after you leave the governor's mansion, the president of the United States -- a man you once described as having skinny legs and scrawny arms. If he were to call you and say, Governor, I need you, I want you to help me on a specific project or a new job, would you be open to joining his administration?
SCHWARZENEGGER: First of all, let me just say that I made it very clear that anything that the administration needs from me, I always will be happy to help. And I don't need a position, I don't need a title, I don't need anything. You know, I have made plenty of money in my life. I have plenty of money. I have satisfied my egos many times over with titles and with awards and medals and trophies and all of those kinds of things. You know, I've been very successful in a bodybuilding career, very successful in business, very successful in the movie business itself and now in politics.
So, I don't need titles. But I'm more than happy to help if it is environmental issues or in trade or in any other kind of -- or immigration issues, whatever it may be, I'm happy to help the administration, because if this administration is successful, then we -- Americans are all going to be successful and the world is going to be successful.
BLITZER: Good point, Governor.
Appreciate your time.
Thanks very much and good luck to you and everyone in California out there.
BLITZER: we're watching that story very closely.
SCHWARZENEGGER: Thank you very much and thank you for the interview.
BLITZER: Chaos or democracy? What will be the final result for Iraq? I'll ask the Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Tom Ricks. He's now reporting a potentially poisonous rift between the U.S. Military commander in Iraq and the U.S. ambassador there.
Plus, Pope John Paul II quizzing former President Bill Clinton. Just one of the fascinating revelations in a brand-new book. The author and historian Taylor Branch, he's here with many more stories.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is absolutely critical that we are successful in dismantling, disrupting, destroying the al Qaeda network and that we are effectively working with the Afghan government to provide the security necessary for that country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The war in Afghanistan, a pressing issue for President Obama this week as he met with the NATO Secretary-General and his top national security team over at the White House. At the same time, the revelation of a second nuclear enrichment facility in Iran is adding new strain to Tehran's already very tense relationship with the West. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: If Iran does not take steps in the near future to live up to its obligations, then the United States will not continue to negotiate indefinitely. And we are prepared to move towards increased pressure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Afghanistan and Iran have been pushing the war in Iraq out of the headlines, but the journalist Tom Ricks reports a growing rift there between the top U.S. commander and the U.S. ambassador. Tom is the author of two very important books, "Fiasco" and "The Gamble." He's a senior fellow at the Center for New American Security. And he's writing for "Foreign Policy" magazine.
BLITZER: You say there's serious friction in Iraq right now between the top U.S. civilian and the top U.S. Military commander, and that's having a potentially poisonous impact?
TOM RICKS, CENTER FOR NEW AMERICAN SECURITY: That's right. What you're seeing here is what we've seen in the past between Bremer and Sanchez, other top generals, and top civilian officials. Nobody's in charge of our effort in that country. And so again and again, people representing different missions, different interests clash at the top. And we're seeing that again now with friction.
BLITZER: When you say nobody in charge, General Odierno is in charge of the Military. Ambassador Hill is in charge of the diplomats and the civilian U.S. presence there.
RICKS: Which is the violation of the basic rule that in these sort of operations, you have to have one person in charge in order to have unity of command. We've never had that. The closest we came was with Petraeus and Crocker, the general and the ambassador, who were so determined to get along, that they would not let anything get between them. Hill is new to Iraq. The military guys are saying Ambassador Hill doesn't understand Iraq. The diplomats are saying, well, you guys are looking in the rearview mirrors, you soldiers. You need to look forward, take your hands off Iraq. Let Iraq...
BLITZER: So walk us through the consequences, if there is a tension between these two men, and both of them are reacting to your report. And we're going to get to that shortly. But if there is this tension, how does that play out on what happens, actually, as far as the future of Iraq is concerned?
RICKS: You get friction inside the American effort, slows us down. You send confusing signals to Iraqis. What do the Americans really mean? Do they want us to take over...
BLITZER: Are the Iraqis hearing one thing from Odierno and other thing from Hill? RICKS: Probably not from those guys, but from subordinates who have very different missions. The military guys are saying look, we've been here for three or four tours. We understand Iraq. We don't want to rush to failure again. And so they're probably saying slow down to the Iraqi message, whereas the civilians, the diplomats are saying hey, it's time for the Iraqis to take over.
BLITZER: Is the situation in Iraq right now potentially on the verge of a major setback? Because for the last several months, we thought things were sort of moving in the right direction. The surge seems to have worked.
RICKS: Maybe you did. I thought the surge succeed tactically. It improved security. I think it failed strategically. It did not lead to a political breakthrough, which it was supposed to.
So my view in Iraq is not that it's been going well, but that it's been very slowly quietly unraveling partly because the surge never solved the basic problems. All the basic issues facing Iraq that led to a civil war there are still there.
BLITZER: Because the question I have is once the U.S. pulls out, and within a year or so, all U.S. troops, basically combat troops, are going to be out of Iraq, what happens as the place revert back to chaos or move towards a stable democracy?
RICKS: First, I don't think we're going to get all the troops out. This phrase "combat troops" is nonsensical. You know there's no pacifist wing of the U.S. Military. They all carry weapons whether it's a trainer or adviser or combat troop, they all are vulnerable. In fact, the trainers and advisers are more vulnerable.
BLITZER: Is the situation in Iraq, I guess the question is doomed to failure?
RICKS: I think it is slowly unraveling. And I would not be surprised to see it fail. Even what Americans will say is successful is not going to feel like success to us.
BLITZER: So an Iraq in chaos potentially maybe even aligned with Iran?
RICKS: Certainly it will be. I think there's no question that the Iraq of the future is going to be closer to Tehran than it is to Washington.
BLITZER: So the hundreds of billions of dollars, trillions, maybe, spent and the thousands of U.S. troops killed and injured in Iraq will have been for?
RICKS: Will be a lesson that we should have asked these questions back in the spring of 2003.
BLITZER: For naught?
RICKS: Oh, worse than naught. Iraq is, I think, the biggest mistake in the history of American foreign policy. We're going to be paying for this for years and years to come. One reason we don't have enough troops in Afghanistan right now, for example, is that they're busy in Iraq. If we hadn't gone to Iraq, a war of choice, we could have kept our attention on Afghanistan, which I think was the right thing to do at the time.
BLITZER: Here, I get the -- I want to you react to the reaction from Ambassador Chris Hill and General Odierno. Chris Hill issuing this statement. "Whatever source he had was obviously not someone privy to my relationship with Ray. (Ray Odierno) In short, Ricks is 180 degrees wrong about our relationship. I know Ray Odierno agrees with me that living and working in this place is tough enough without having to deal with this sort of thing out of Washington."
That's Chris Hill's statement. Odierno was up on Capitol Hill testifying today. He was asked about your article, and he said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. RAY ODIERNO, CMDR., MULTI NATIONAL FORCE IRAQ: I think our relationship is good. Ambassador Hill and I work very closely together on a daily basis. As I told him, the only thing that Ambassador Hill and I disagree with every day is that he's a Red Sox fan and I'm a Yankee fan. And so besides that, we do pretty well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. What do you think?
RICKS: I think what strikes me is what they didn't say. Neither one says anything about what a great guy the other guy is. They insist the process is working. They don't say that this is really a good relationship.
BLITZER: And so, you're saying the process isn't working, and you're standing by what you wrote?
RICKS: I'm saying that this is getting to be a tired line they've been peddling about the Yankees and the Red Sox, that there are serious issues and friction here and that they'd be smarter to address them than to dismiss them.
BLITZER: Tom Ricks is the Pulitzer prime-winning journalist. Tom, thanks for coming in.
RICKS: You're welcome.
BLITZER: Estranged at the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, a well-known public intervenes and tries to bridge the gap between then President Bill Clinton and his daughter, Chelsea. Author and historian Taylor Branch reveals who it is.
Plus, jewelry diplomacy. A former Secretary of State discusses her unusual tactic. My interview with Madeline Albright, that's coming up as well.
BLITZER: It's being called one of the most raw and revealing looks inside the mind of any sitting president. The new book called "The Clinton Tapes." This is no ordinary book. Just a few months into his term, then President Bill Clinton invited the author to secret conversations to document his presidency. Bill Clinton would say things privately he could not say publicly. Virtually no topic was off limits.
BLITZER: And joining us now, the historian Taylor Branch. He's the author of the brand-new book entitled "The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History With the President."
Mr. Branch, thanks very much for coming in, and thanks for writing this book.
TAYLOR BRANCH, AUTHOR, "THE CLINTON TAPES: WRESTLING HISTORY WITH THE PRESIDENT": Glad to be here.
BLITZER: As a reporter who covered the Clinton White House for almost that entire period, it brought back a lot of memories.
Let's, first of all, walk through the process. How did you get this incredible access to the sitting president of the United States? BRANCH: It came out of the blue at his initiative when he was president-elect.
I got a message asking if I were willing to have dinner with him at Kay Graham's (ph) house. And I said, of course. I haven't seen him for 20 years. Why? They didn't know. I went down. And he comes in, this old friend of mine I hadn't seen for a long time, with the Secret Service, and says, I have only got two minutes. I want to ask you a question about presidential records from your work in the -- writing about civil rights.
And he was concerned before he took office about the quality of records that would be taken. And one thing led to another. And he wanted to do and keep a diary, because he couldn't tape-record his own conversations.
BLITZER: So, you came in basically, what, once a month, into the White House over these periods? It was a very secretive operation. And -- and you would ask him questions about what was going on. These would all be tape-recorded?
BRANCH: I brought my tape recorders, came on short notice, always late at night, sneaked into the residence, set them up, and said, this is session 41, Mr. President. Let's cover what we haven't covered since last time that you want on the record that is not otherwise going to be on the record.
BLITZER: Could you take notes during that process? BRANCH: I -- I was taking notes. But, mostly, I was reading my notes, trying to figure out what was going on and what question I was going to ask next, because you never knew what was going on.
Chelsea would come in for help with her homework. Or Warren Christopher would call about air strikes in Baghdad.
BLITZER: So, but you -- the tape -- the tapes themselves stayed with the president.
BLITZER: You have not had access to those tapes?
BRANCH: No. I gave each one -- it was designed, so that he would have control over them and decide when he's going to open up for research.
BLITZER: And, then, on your drive back to Baltimore, you got a -- your tape recorder out and you dictated to yourself your recollections of the conversation you just had with the president?
BRANCH: Everything that happened, what he said, and what happened on and off the tapes, and my impressions of them, yes.
BLITZER: And this book, "The Clinton Tapes," is based basically on your recollections... BRANCH: On my dictations.
BLITZER: ... of those extraordinary exchanges you had with the president while he was president.
And I want to go through some of them, because they're pretty amazing. At one point, you say President Clinton used to fall asleep during these tapings, during these interviews. Explain.
BRANCH: The -- the stress of the presidency and the crosshairs of all of these things was such, and he was tired. You could almost see him aging in front of you. But he also had a compulsion to think and talk.
And, so, sometimes, he would be talking while his eyes rolled up under his lids, because -- because he was tired. And I would say, Mr. President, are you all right? Do you want to keep going? And he would kind of snap out of it.
It really gave me a -- a sense that I never expected of the toll that this -- this is quite apart from any scandal. This was about Bosnia and Kosovo and -- and reelection and that sort of thing.
BLITZER: He was a night owl. He liked to stay up late, though.
BRANCH: He did like to stay up late.
BLITZER: He had certain trouble sleeping. I remember that as well.
One night, you unexpectedly pointed out that there were some pillows that were missing. Tell us that story.
BRANCH: He invited me to stay over one night because my wife was down in Washington and it was late at night. And we were finishing at 2:00 in the morning. And he said, you can stay. You can stay in the Queens' Bedroom.
And my wife came. But there was no pillow there. They were renovating. And he couldn't find one. So, he wandered all over the White House. The staff had long since gone. And, finally, he took one of his pillows, because Hillary was out of town and out of his -- And we were apologizing, saying, we will find a pillow. We will go somewhere else.
But, no, he was just like a -- a host in an inn in New England. And he wouldn't rest until we had a pillow on our bed.
BLITZER: A gracious host. Tell us about the time -- this was fascinating -- when the pope was quizzing the president.
BRANCH: He had a number of meets with -- meetings with the pope. And there was one during the impeachment trial when the pope with quizzed the president, saying, tell me how you see the world. I want you to go all around the world, says the pope. And -- and it -- and it launched into what was very rare for the president, which was that he was cross-examined by the pope on his view of the world, country by country, beginning in Cuba, where the pope told him that he, the pope, agreed that the United States embargo was bad. He was trying to talk President Clinton into lifting it.
BLITZER: Because the pope was visiting Cuba just when the Monica Lewinsky story broke.
BRANCH: That's right.
BLITZER: I remember that very vividly.
And his explanation to you about his behavior with Monica Lewinsky was that he -- quote -- "just cracked."
What -- explain what was going through his mind.
BRANCH: His resolve cracked not to risk the high stakes of his quest, which was to restore respect for the -- the political agenda of the United States in what he thought was a cynical era. And he was trying to lift us out of tabloid obsessions. And he said that he cracked and felt sorry for himself and that self-pity was his number- one weakness, and that, in a moment of that, he felt sorry for himself.
It led from -- to Monica Lewinsky. And he said, I forfeited my chance to lift us out of that cynicism, because this is -- this is what they will remember.
BRANCH: And it will validate that cynicism. BLITZER: Did you feel he was honest and blunt with you in talking about Monica Lewinsky?
BRANCH: When he said that, I certainly did, because that was very difficult for him to say. You could see it.
BLITZER: At one point, he also tells you the Reverend Jesse Jackson calling his daughter, Chelsea Clinton. Tell us about that.
BRANCH: He said he had had many quarrels and quibbles with Jesse over the years, but he would never speak ill of him and always remember the fact that, when the Lewinsky scandal broke, that he admitted it -- you know, not when it first broke, but when he admitted it.
BLITZER: In August of '98.
BRANCH: In August -- that Jesse Jackson was the only person who somehow -- and he said this is another story -- managed to get Chelsea's cell phone and called her at Stanford and counseled her, and said, this is terrible for you. I know it is hard. But, if you ever want to talk, nobody will ever hear of this. I -- I will do this. And Chelsea told the president. The president told me -- he said, it meant a lot to her and even more to him, because, at that point, he was estranged even from Chelsea in -- in a way. She -- she didn't want him to be seen with her friends at Stanford.
BLITZER: Because, when the story broke in January of '98, we remember, a few days afterwards, he went on television and said, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky."
BLITZER: And, then, in August, he changed his story.
BRANCH: That's correct.
BLITZER: He acknowledged the affair.
During that time, did he come clean with you, or was he lying to you?
BRANCH: He didn't -- he didn't discuss it with me in between. These talks that were very, very personal were afterwards.
BLITZER: Afterwards. He...
BRANCH: Yes, after he...
BLITZER: And the subject wasn't really all that much on your -- on your agenda?
BRANCH: No. We had so many other things going on that we didn't -- we didn't discuss it before his confession. (END VIDEOTAPE)
BLITZER: A potentially awkward moment when President Clinton was smooching with his wife. Stand by for more revelations from "The Clinton Tapes." The author, Taylor Branch, even talks about a clash between Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore.
And Saddam Hussein called her a snake, but she had fun with it. Madeline Albright, the first female Secretary of State, is here. She explains the meaning behind her collection of pins, like a serpent's tail to sting back at Saddam Hussein.
BLITZER: Rarely ever in American history do we get such a look inside the mind of a sitting president. We continue our look now at the new book "The Clinton Tapes." In part 2 of my interview with Pulitzer Prize winning author Taylor Branch, he talks about a light intimate moment between then President Bill Clinton and the First Lady shared at the height of a scandal.
BLITZER: There was a moment when Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton, you found them smooching?
BRANCH: Well, I didn't. The -- the -- the -- the doorman in the White House who was supposed to take me up for a session refused to do it, because he said they're smooching upstairs, and I -- and it embarrassed him.
And he had to be talked into doing it by the White House usher. But, fortunately, by the time we got up there, they were -- they were on the phone talking with senators about impeachment. It was during the impeachment trial.
BLITZER: I was moved by one story you tell, the relationship he had with Al Gore. Al Gore wanted him to go to Japan for an environmental conference. But he had something, the president of the United States, Bill Clinton, that he felt was more important for him at that time, and he had to tell the vice president no.
BRANCH: He said no.
BLITZER: Tell us what happened.
BRANCH: Well, it was more important where he said, Chelsea had her midterm junior year high school exams coming up, and those are the most important tests in all of high school, and I'm not going to Japan to leave Chelsea by herself to take those exams.
And Gore thought he was crazy, because he said this was vital, the -- to the relations between the United States and Japan. And they got into a big argument about whether Japan was more important than Chelsea's junior year midterms.
BLITZER: Tell us about that letter he wrote to Chelsea Clinton entitled, what, "3:00 a.m."?
BRANCH: "3:00 a.m.," yes. He knew that his ordeal was hard for her. And he just wanted her to know how much he appreciated her. She was also having a hard time with giving up ballet. So, there -- there are some touching moments between Chelsea and -- and the president that we cover in here.
BLITZER: It's a -- it's a very moving part of the book. There's no doubt about that.
When was the last time you spoke to the president?
BRANCH: A couple of weeks ago.
BLITZER: And he knew you were coming out with this?
BRANCH: Yes. I had took it up to Chappaqua and gave it to him.
BLITZER: And did he -- what was his reaction?
BRANCH: All over the place. Nervous. "I hope this does well. This is a lot more detail than I thought."
But I think we will -- we will wait and see.
BLITZER: Because we -- someone who's read his autobiography, and now this book, you have got a lot of details in here that he didn't have in his book that he didn't sort of come clean with.
BRANCH: Well, I had -- I had more time, I guess.
BLITZER: When will the actual tapes be released by the Clinton Archives?
BRANCH: Well, that's up to him. This whole project was geared toward that. I know he suffered a lot to make it possible to do that.
If I had to guess -- I have asked him and gotten kind of evasive answers. If I had to guess, I would say it will be after Hillary's career is over, certainly when she leaves the State Department, maybe when she retires, and it's no longer possible -- because there's a lot of Hillary in here. And I don't think he would -- he wouldn't do anything to injure her -- her chances. And it would -- I think it's premature as long as Hillary's still in active politics.
BLITZER: So, future historians will have a lot of raw material...
BLITZER: ... once those actual audiotapes...
BRANCH: ... thousands and thousands...
BLITZER: ... are released.
BRANCH: Thousands and thousands of pages. BLITZER: Do -- do you have any idea whether the current president, President Obama, is doing something similar with a historian right now to make sure that the historic record is accurate?
BRANCH: I hope he is. If it were up to me, they would be taping their telephone conversations, and we would be in a mature enough country not to interfere with them, so that we would really know in the future how our presidents conduct the people's business.
But, right now, we're kind of scrambling to get good records, so that you really know that. That's what we were trying to do here, at -- at the president's initiative.
BLITZER: And you did an excellent job.
Taylor Branch is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "America in the King Years." We all remember that wonderful book. And the new book is entitled "The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President."
Thanks very much, Mr. Branch, for coming in.
BRANCH: Thank you, Wolf. Nice to be here.
BLITZER: Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright is pinning the blame on Saddam Hussein. She explains the connection between the ousted Iraqi leader and her jewelry.
BLITZER: You could say the former Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, is not shy about showing everyone exactly how she feels. And now she's even written a book about her rather unusual style. I interviewed Madeline Albright. And we spoke about her penchant for wearing unusual pins.
BLITZER: Let's talk about your new book, "Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat's Jewel Box." The first pin, the serpent's tail. Tell us about that pin. We're going to show to our viewers.
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, I have to tell you, this whole process was a little bit accidental. And it began, believe it or not, because Saddam Hussein, when I was ambassador at the United Nations, called me an unparalleled serpent. There were sanctions against Iraq as a result of the Gulf War. He clearly didn't like them. I had the snake pin. It's something that I owned before. So I wore it when we were dealing with Iraq. And I believe, actually, it was a CNN camera that picked it up and said, why are you wearing that snake pin? I said, because he called me a serpent. And I thought, well, this is kind of fun.
So I went out and bought a lot of costume jewelry to reflect what we were going to do. I was the only woman on the Security Council. And so when we were going to have a good day, I wore butterflies and flowers and balloons. And when we were going to have a bad day, I wore spiders and bees. And the reason that I said "read my pins," if you remember the first President Bush had said "read my lips." So Saddam Hussein and the first President Bush are responsible for this book.
BLITZER: I love this next one. It symbolizes breaking the glass ceiling. We'll put that up on the screen as well. Tell us about this.
ALBRIGHT: Well, it was -- it was a big deal that I became Secretary of State. First woman. And I got that from a women's group. And it really was symbolic that something different had happened.
But my youngest granddaughter who just turned 7 said to her mother, "So what's the big deal with Grandma Maddy having been Secretary of State? Only girls are Secretary of State." and in her lifetime, that would be pretty much so.
BLITZER: What about the bee? Because there's a picture of you and Yasser Arafat next to your pin with a bee on it.
ALBRIGHT: Well, I'll tell you, if looks couldn't kill, then the bee was a signal that we were going to do some tough business. And I had some stinging words to say during many of our Middle East peace negotiations. So I wore a bee, but I had a lot of different animals when I was dealing with the Middle East. Mostly turtles because everything was so slow. And sometimes a crab because it was getting more and more frustrating.
It's a fascinating book and great pictures, great pins. "Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat's Jewel Box." Madeline Albright, the former Secretary of State, is the author. Madam secretary, thanks.
ALBRIGHT: Thank you so much, Wolf.
BLITZER: In South Korea, soldiers show off their skills as the country marks armed forces day. Just one of the week's memorable "Hot Shots."
BLITZER: Here's a look at some of this week's "hot shots," pictures coming in from our friends at the Associated Press. In India, a train was engulfed in flames after protests spiraled out of control. In South Korea, soldiers demonstrated their skills on armed forces day by breaking boards. In Italy, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi cut a ribbon to celebrate the opening of new homes for earthquake victims. And in Thailand, check it out, a giant panda celebrated its eighth birthday with a basket of fruit. Some of this week's "hot shots," pictures worth 1,000 words. Don't forget, the new CNN iPhone app is available right now for breaking news alerts, live coverage and much more. You can get one right now for $1.99. It's a great, great thing.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
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