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Interview with Seth Rogen; Crisis in Ukraine; Clinton White House Documents Released; The Hidden Clinton Papers; Seth Rogen Calls Out No-Shows at Hearing

Aired February 28, 2014 - 16:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: The White House warns Russia not to do what Russia may have already started doing.

I'm Jake Tapper. This is THE LEAD.

The world lead. It's playing out like a Tom Clancy thriller. Ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych breaks his silence and vows to fight for his country's future, as Russian troops are spotted. Are they crossing a very dangerous and explosive line?

The politics lead. Flashback Friday. Thousands of previously withheld pages from the Clinton presidency finally released, ones that shine new light on Hillary Clinton's time in the White House. Will her critics be partying like it's 1999?

And the buried lead. Actor Seth Rogen does something many of you have wished you could do, call out Washington, D.C., for not paying enough attention to something critically important. Seth Rogen live on THE LEAD today.

Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We're going to begin, of course, with the world lead and mounting tensions amid reports that armed men who may be tied to the Russian military have seized control of two airports in the Ukraine. We're also hearing that as many as 20 Russian marines armed with machine guns have surrounded a TV station in Crimea in southern Ukraine, although, for now, they remain outside of the building.

State TV is reporting the marines were called in to keep the building secure, this as the country's ousted president emerged from the shadows today and came out swinging against his political opponents. A defiant President Viktor Yanukovych made his first public appearance in nearly a week while under Russian protection today, insisting that he's still in charge and not backing down.


VIKTOR YANUKOVYCH, FORMER UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Nobody has overturned me. I was compelled to leave Ukraine due to a direct threat of my life and my nearest and dearest.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: So that was his explanation for why he left. What he could not explain was how he plans to take back control of a country where an interim government is already in place and elections are set to pick a new leader, not to mention the fact that his supposed benefactor, Russian President Vladimir Putin, has remained relatively quiet as his neighbor to the west unravels.

Putin did put in a phone call to European leaders today, stressing the need for peace in the region. But at the same time, troops identified as Russian military forces were spotted closing in an airport in the southern Ukraine region of Crimea that has an ethnic Russian majority, that area. It's a move that Ukraine's interior minister referred to as an armed invasion and it prompted Secretary of State John Kerry to issue these cautionary words.


JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: An intervention would, in our judgment, be a very grave mistake.

It would be completely contrary to Russian policies, as stated now with respect to Libya, Syria, other places. And any acts -- the question is whether or not what is happening now might be crossing a line in any way, and we're going to be very careful in making our judgments about that.


TAPPER: CNN's Ian Lee joins us now live from Kiev.

Ian, what can you tell us about reports that the airport there has been shut down and the airspace closed?

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, the men that have taken this airport or who have been there, I think we don't know who they are, but I think what we are seeing is the most telling.

These are very professional-looking soldiers. They have new equipment, new uniforms, and they are moving in a way that is not would be like a ragtag force. We don't know why the airspace has been closed. Neither the civil administration here in Kiev or in the Crimea has given any reason why or when it will reopen again, but definitely tense times here.

TAPPER: What do you know about reports of the Russian military moving directly into Crimea?

LEE: This is something that we have been watching all day, whether it be YouTube videos or on multiple local networks. We're seeing helicopters, at least 11 helicopters moving across the Crimea towards an area called Belbek.

We're also seeing armored personnel carriers rumbling down the streets of the Crimea, a YouTube video of that, and all this really is backed up by the government, saying that what we're witnessing is annexation of the area. And as you pointed out earlier as well, a pro-Russian television station has what we are hearing are marines from the Black Sea fleet securing it to make sure it's not tampered with as well.

And as well, what we're also hearing is that these forces are moving toward an area of the capital, Simferopol.

TAPPER: Ian, as Ukrainian authorities say that there has been an invasion of some sort, have they decided what to do, any movements, for instance, by the Ukrainian military?

LEE: Well, yes, the government is basically calling this an invasion, an annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.

They have called for restraint from the Russians. They are saying that the Russians need to leave, but they are also saying that the Ukrainian military needs to show restraint. They are saying they don't want any more bloodshed.

And right behind me here in Kiev, they are still mourning the people who died in those bloody protests just very recent. Dozens of people died. They're still mourning. They don't want to see any more bloodshed. They are trying to go to the international community. They are trying to go to the United Nations Security Council, which is convening.

They are trying to also go to the European Union to send monitors here to make sure that the sovereignty of Ukraine is respected, Jake.

TAPPER: Ian Lee, thank you so much. Stay safe.

So what is Putin's game plan here?

Joining me now is Jane Harman, president and CEO of the Woodrow Wilson Center. She's also a member of the Defense Policy Board and the State Department Foreign Policy Board.

Former Congresswoman Harman, thanks so much for joining us.


TAPPER: Let's talk about what can only be described as the turmoil in the southern part of Ukraine.

Two airports reportedly being occupied, it's unclear by whom at this point. Russia is denying they're involved. But the men that we have heard described sound by all indications to be Russian military or at least affiliated with the Russian military.

Can the U.S. believe the Russians when they say it's not them?

HARMAN: Well, let's be -- we need to be very careful.

The John Kerry clip that you just showed shows that he is being very careful. No question, a third of Ukraine is a Russian dissent, and the history was with the old Soviet Union. And, yes, there have been Russians on eastern Ukraine soil for years and years. And the KGB has its tentacles out. However, that does not mean that there has been an invasion. It might mean that there is a plan to try to get this portion of Ukraine to secede and join Russia. That might be a smart move by Putin, who tries to stick his finger in our eye at every opportunity.

But, actually, I think we have an opportunity to gain the upper hand here. We is not just the U.S. It's primarily the E.U., which is watching this enormously carefully. And the upper hand would be to get this interim government to be inclusive, to invite, which it has not done, some of these Crimeans to be part of the government, and to try to set up for the first time since the Orange Revolution a tolerant, pluralist and competent government.

Ukrainians want competence. They want bread and food. And they haven't had that since the Orange Revolution. It's been a very disappointing outcome. Think the Egypt movie. It's not -- this is not the only place this is happening.

And so if we are careful and if our conversations are somewhat in private, much as this show is wonderful, Jake, and if the E.U. offers the right economic aid packages, and if the interim government makes the right moves, Vladimir Putin is going to be sitting in his corner sucking his thumb.

TAPPER: Well, just yesterday, we had Senator John McCain on, and he said that the E.U. and more specifically the IMF, the International Monetary Fund, should be in Ukraine right now offering money, offering a bailout package, offering economic assistance to fend off any encroachments by the Russians.

You agree with that, I'm assuming?


But we don't want a bidding war with the Russians. Remember, they offered $15 billion and then they withdrew it. And depending on what they do with their gas subsidies for Ukraine, they can again pull another $3 billion to $5 billion out of the country and try to tank the economy.

Let's anticipate those games, but carefully done. There is so much reason why Ukraine wants to be not part of Europe, but certainly a pluralist country with a huge European influence and a Russian influence at the other end.

And if the Ukrainian is smart, they will show the world that they actually know how to fairly and fully include their own people in a government that will just wow all the rest of us. They have an opportunity. It's tough, but they have an opportunity.

TAPPER: Congresswoman, the British foreign security is going to travel to Kiev on Sunday to meet with the Ukrainian interim leader. Do you think Secretary Kerry should make a similar offer to go to Ukraine?

HARMAN: Well, our government is certainly involved. Our assistant secretary for Europe, as we all know, was embarrassed by Putin.

But she's intimately involved. And she's a very capable woman, Victoria Nuland. I don't know when Kerry should make that offer. I'm guessing that that is being monitored. I'm sure he will consider making that offer. The whole world is pretty dangerous at the moment, Jake. He's got a lot of places to cover, and we're going to have a lot of Middle Eastern leaders in Washington in the next couple of days meeting with the president.

So I don't know when the right time to make that offer is. But should we have our eyes on this? Should we be sober and careful? Absolutely. It -- this is in the interest of the United States and we do need to pay careful attention to what is happening here. And we should not, it seems to me, miscalculate what is going on. Saber- rattling doesn't necessarily mean that there's a Russian invasion.

TAPPER: Congresswoman Jane Harman, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

Coming up: thousands of documents from the Clinton presidency just released, detailing everything from Bill Clinton's insecurities to an aide then suggesting then first lady Hillary Clinton should appear on a sitcom. But is there anything else hidden in these documents, anything that could derail her possible presidential run?

Plus, I hope your weekend plans include staying inside, because the winter storm bringing ice and snow across the country is coming up, and so are we.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

The politics lead now. It feels like a classic rock radio plug. We're digging into the vault for some vintage '90 hits for way back in the Clinton White House. Moments ago, the first portion of more than 30,000 pages of Clinton administration documents went public.

Earlier this week, "Politico's" Josh Gerstein broke the story that the files were still being kept out of public sight despite the law that says they should have been released last year as historical record. CNN has been poring through these files for relevant information.

Our senior political correspondent Brianna Keilar joins with the latest. So, what stands out among these many pages of documents?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I will say -- it's mostly color. But I think the parts about Hillary Clinton are what stand out. And when you look, you're able to see that her aides fully acknowledged that there is a problem with her image. That she has an aversion for the Washington national press, as they call it.

Couple interesting points, though, we should talk about as well, in the -- it's really the rolling up to the re-elect for Bill Clinton. One of her -- her chief of staff, I should say, talks about using not the Internet but Internet, saying Hillary could speak to young women through Internet. So, that was one of the ones that stuck out to us, because most of these are actually -- you know, they are written memos. They are not digital. And then another one suggests that they could have her on an issue of "Home Improvement".

Do you remember that show --



KEILAR: That's way back in the vault, right? So -- and the show is willing to do a show on women, children, family issues, whatever they wanted and they thought this would make her very likable.

And then in 1999, when she had not announced that she was running for Senate, but she had an exploratory committee, she was going out for a listening tour and an outside adviser was giving her tips on how to handle this saying, no matter what the question, use your answer to get back to our message. You have a tendency to answer just the question asked. That's good manners but bad politics.

So, it's kind of 101 stuff, but stuff that obviously she was kind of trying to grapple with.

And then another one was, how does she distance herself from her president -- from her husband's presidency. It said, don't use the administration's record as your own. One example was when you're talking about SCHIP, the children's health insurance program, talk about what you did, not about what your husband did.

TAPPER: Interesting.

Stay with us, Brianna. I want to bring in CNN's chief national correspondent and anchor of "INSIDE POLITICS", a must viewing on Sundays, John King, and associate editor for "The Hill," A.B. Stoddard.

John, we're years out from 2016, but from what you've seen so far, any game changers in these documents, anything that could hurt a possible Clinton run?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So far -- underlining so far because we're still going -- no, absolutely nothing. They are worried about her image. Oh, she has a distrust of the press. Oh, she's very important in policy.

You may not find that in the Laura Bush or Barbara Bush files. But we all know that Hillary Clinton was very big in policy, especially pushing health care. They were worried, she was worried that the CBO might, quote, "screw them", wanted to score the healthcare bill.

Well, you know, this administration has gone through that. Every administration goes through that. What do you get is a reminder of number one, we've never had a candidate in the digital age who has everything about her out there. She serves eight years in an administration, her husband's administration with the records are available. She's never been a candidate we think we know so well, but yet there's a huge resource of information that we may still learn things.


A.B. STODDARD, THE HILL: I think it's interesting actually what it reveals about the health care debate because it was -- it really goes through the tension with Congress, the fact that you're not really going to keep your doctor or the fact that premiums for individuals and corporations are going to go up, not down.

And it's interesting timing because this week, she actually came out, which surprised me, earlier than I expected, early in 2014, before the midterm election when she's apparently going to be making a decision about the presidential run, to start bucking up President Obama's health care law. I thought it was very interesting that she dared to say, you know, to take it on so that she can be attacked for being willing to stand by it but fix it. People are going to begin to ask Hillary Clinton out, what is her plan to fix it? And she's going to be in the spotlight in healthcare. I'm surprised that she made that choice.

TAPPER: And there are still thousands and thousands of more documents?

KEILAR: That's right. Today, 35,000 documents. But you're being looking at about 30,000 more over the next couple of weeks and then on into the next or really the end of March. So there's a lot more and what did we not see here today? Anything about Monica Lewinsky, anything about Whitewater. So the big things are still to come.

And really I think no matter what comes out of that, even if it's like this, stuff we kind of know but it's just an interesting glimpse behind the scenes, it's still going to be fodder and it's still definitely going to be used by her critics.

TAPPER: Comparing what's coming out so far, and as you say, John, there's still -- who knows? There might be a hug bombshell that everybody finds in three hours. But comparing what's coming out so far, the stuff in the Blair documents down at the University of Arkansas, I think Fayetteville, seem more telling and potentially more damaging, especially when it was her bad-mouthing women, bad-mouthing feminists who had a problem with the White House.

KING: It seemed much more personal. These are more bureaucratic documents so far. Pretty much standard fare. You've covered the White House, it's pretty much seems, if you read them, it's like, yes, that's how it works. It's how it worked then during the Internet days as we were just learning, and it's how it works now.

TAPPER: The Internet days. KING: And I'm sure it's how it worked in the radio days, too. But, you're right. Diane Blair talks about, you know, trashing people who trash her, building an enemy's list for revenge, it is more personal. But the fundamental question of any of this is, is it just new details that fills in what you've already think about Hillary Clinton or is it something fundamental that makes you stop and say, whoa, this is a new insight into this person.

I think so far, we're just getting, it's very rich color, it's important color, but it's nothing new, I think fundamentally new. We always knew she was very conscious about her image. And I knew back in the Clinton days when I cover the White House about being very mindful if somebody crosses me, somebody write that down so I can remember that some day.

KING: What do you think about younger voters for whom Monica Lewinsky is literally something they -- they have only read about, they did not experience. Will they care about any of this?

STODDARD: I don't think they will, if there's nothing in these documents that whiff of an ethical scandal or any kind of corruption. I think what you said about the Blair documents, I agree with you. She really needs to appeal. If she runs for president in 1 1/2 years to women, that's going to be the history-making banner of her run.

Anything that would reveal that she's making fun of women, that former Senator Bob Packwood might have groped or anything, that she is dismissive about in terms of women, in any kind of compromising situation, her tone in those diary entries, according to Diane Blair, really could be more damaging than just this stuff that we find out about how she deals with the --

TAPPER: That's right. The important context of that, a Republican senator had been accused of sexual assault, sexual harassment and they needed him for health care and she was annoyed at the people criticizing him.

A.B. Stoddard, John King, Brianna Keilar, thank you so much.

Coming up, the president rallies troops. He's about to speak at a gathering of Democrats and he'll take direct aim at Republicans, surprise, surprise. We'll bring you that speech live when it starts.

But, first, funny man Seth Rogen gets serious and a little bit angry on Capitol Hill. But he wasn't afraid to show a little humor before talking about a topic very close to his heart.


SETH ROGEN, ACTOR: I should answer the question I assume many of you are asking. Yes, I'm aware that this has nothing to do with the legalization of marijuana.



Time now for our buried lead. That's what we call stories we don't think aren't getting enough attention. And in this case, it's an issue that we don't talk about enough, probably, Alzheimer's.

Comedian and actor Seth Rogen is best known for playing a lovable stoner in movies like "Knocked Up". But this week, Rogen took on a more serious role. He flew all the way to Washington, D.C. to testify on Capitol Hill about how Alzheimer's has hit home. Rogen and his wife created the Hilarity for Charity Fund to bring awareness of the disease to a younger audience.

Rogen seemed clearly upset and disappointed by the fact that only two senators stayed for his testimony, the chairman and ranking member of the subcommittee, after Republican Senator Mark Kirk tweeted a picture saying, "Thanks to Seth Rogen for speaking out about efforts to end Alzheimer's." Rogen tweeted back, "Pleasure meeting you. Why did you leave before my speech? Just curious." And Rogen tweeted a photo of the empty senators seats saying it was, quote, "very symbolic of how the government views Alzheimer's. It seems to be a low priority."

We're pleased that Seth Rogen could join us live from Culver City, California.

Good to see you, Seth. Hope you're doing well.

ROGEN: I'm doing very well. Thanks for having me.

TAPPER: So, before we get to the senators not attending your hearing, I want folks to understand why you're so passionate about this issue. And how much this horrible disease has impacted your family. Tell us about your mother-in-law.

ROGEN: Yes. My mother-in-law -- I've been with my what now wife for almost 10 years. I met her mother when she was in her early 50s. And she was -- very shortly after that diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's and now, she's in her 60s, early -- by the time she was 60, actually, she lost her ability to walk, talk, dress herself, pretty much all of her motor skills and, you know, the things that made her who she was were gone.

And it was truly something that I had never seen before at all. I didn't even know the disease could do that to people at all, nonetheless people that age. And I found it really shocking.

TAPPER: My grandfather had Alzheimer's. It's a horrible, horrible disease. This, I imagine, is why it bothered you so much, that only two senators were there for your testimony.

Do you think that shows that they don't -- the others who weren't there, the 16 who weren't in attendance don't care about it or it's just a low priority for them?

ROGEN: I don't know, honestly. And I will admit that I'm very naive as to how the government works and how these people's days are scheduled. But to me, there was an enormous discrepancy between how people seemed to feel about the importance it needed and how they seemed to feel about the importance it needed. I mean, there are 16, 18 people on that committee. Very few of them were actually there.

And it wasn't just me talking. Honestly. I could totally understand if they don't want to hear the testimony of a stoner, idiot, actor. But like the other five people who were talking were some of the most educated and, you know, the people who were really on the forefront in the whole world is to try and find a cure for the disease and statisticians that were explaining the financial toll. I mean, I actually probably had the least actual impactful thing to say when it came on government ramifications and they still couldn't be bothered to hang around to hear it.

Honestly, to me the most distressing thing is another senator who these guys actually knew was talking about how he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and the whole point of a plea like that to me would be to get the personal connection with the people who were actually making these decisions and the fact that they weren't there to hear, you know, another senator talk about it was -- it was a little upsetting to me.

TAPPER: So, we believe in getting answers on this show and so, we've been reaching out to the senators and their staffs to find out why they were not there. This is some of what they've said.

ROGEN: One was meeting with an astronaut.

TAPPER: One of them was meeting with an astronaut. As you know, Mark Kirk was meeting with an astronaut.

ROGEN: And who wouldn't want to meet with an astronaut?

TAPPER: Well, be that as it may, they know that 7 of the 18 were at the panel before yours, which did include the director of the National Institute of Health. It's often said, and I think it's true, having covered Capitol Hill sparsely attended hearings are really not that unusual. Of the senators who were busy, we asked every member of the subcommittee where they were.

Seven did not get back to us but 11 did. You know Mark Kirk was with the astronaut and also the CEO of the Planetarium. One was at a funeral. Five others say they were meeting with constituents and two were chairing their own committee hearings. I don't know if that reassures you at all, but that's what they were doing.

ROGEN: Well, I mean, in a way it more speaks to just how like the government works in general and my lack of knowledge of it, but at the same time, I'm equally disappointed that this whole system is set up to hear the personal pleas of people and they are not there to hear it. They read a transcript of it later or something like that. And the whole point of it just seems a little bit lost, I guess.

Someone telling you after the fact and a guy was there and he said how upset he was about the fact that he was diagnosed with this disease and it was very touching. But, yes, I feel like they were there and it would show people that it was a higher priority if they were there.

TAPPER: One of the two senators who attended the hearing, Republican Jerry Moran, he told us when we ask, quote, the most important thing to remember is that the Senate Appropriations Committee shares Seth's commitment to finding a cure, which is why we held a hearing on the subject. Increased funding for Alzheimer's research by $100 million for next year - for fiscal year 2014, $20 million more than the requested by president and increased funding for the National Institutes of Health by $1 billion in the last appropriations bill. What more Seth do you think needs to be done? Is funding still out of whack?

ROGEN: The funding is still out of whack. It is exponentially more costly than other diseases that gets, you know, more funding than it does and it -- yes, it could use much more. I mean, I feel like it is great that they did that and I shouldn't scoff at that. It's a very large amount of money and I'm obviously grateful that that's moving things in the right direction.

But, yes, I mean, one of the doctors who was there was telling me that people who are choosing what type of career they want to enter as doctors are less inclined to choose Alzheimer's if it's something that they want to preserve curing because the funding is not steady enough to tell them as a doctor that it is financially a stable line of work to go into. And that, to me, was very upsetting.

TAPPER: You also mentioned something I thought was really interesting in your testimony. That you have a lot of misconceptions about Alzheimer's because of the way it's portrayed in film and TV. How -- where is the disconnect? How different is it in real life than what we see on TV?

ROGEN: It's drastically different. Again, I think in TV you see it portrayed as someone forgot their keys or someone keeps asking the same question or they don't know what year it is. But, yes, the experience with my mother-in-law, anyway, has been -- it's completely debilitated her. Again, she can't speak at all. I mean, the moment of eye contact to us is considered a massive victory.

I mean, it's, again, just so brutal and depressing. I, as someone who makes movies, understands why it's not been portrayed that much honestly because there's nothing remotely uplifting about it. There's no bright size to it. There's no cure. There is no treatment. It's very hard to have an uplifting story about someone who has Alzheimer's.

TAPPER: And of course, it's a horrific killer. It's the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. More than 5 million Americans suffer from it, 15 million caregivers for these people and the cost is skyrocketing. Seth Rogen, thank you so much for your passion. Best of luck with your family. We'll see you soon, hopefully.

ROGEN: Thank you so much for having me.

TAPPER: And for people who want to learn more about Seth and his wife's cause, you can visit