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McCain Mocks Trump's "Bone Spur" Deferment; Bill O'Reilly Paid $32 Million to Settle Sex Harassment Claim; On the Front Lines of War on ISIS in Syria. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired October 23, 2017 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: See if it's any different this time.

Congressman, I want to get your reaction to this, though, John McCain, this weekend. Listen to this.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R), ARIZONA: One aspect of the conflict, by the way, that I will never ever count is that we drafted the lowest income level of America, and the highest income level found a doctor that would say they had a bone spur. That is wrong. That is wrong.


BOLDUAN: An honest interpretation of that would be a direct hit against the president who received one of his deferments was for a bone spur. Is John McCain right, Congressman?

JACK KINGSTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it's kind of a sad statement for this man of John McCain's distinction to resurrect the draft registration and the statements during the Vietnam War which was a torn period of time. I registered for the draft and I knew nothing about wealthy kids that I went to high school or lived with that were able to game the system and get out of it. Was that out there? It was out there. It's always been out there. As you know, it's a big issue in 1992, when Bill Clinton was running for president. I think to resurrect it without all the facts is inaccurate. Again, I knew of nothing that wealthy kids were getting out of it and the -- what I did know is that Vietnam War got everybody studying harder so that you can get your student deferment. And that, to me, would have been the biggest difference between an "A" student or "C" and "D" student or somebody dropping out. But I'm not sure why Senator McCain, with his prestige, has decided to go there. It just, to me, is below him.

BOLDUAN: Amanda, I wonder why. Why do you think John McCain has decided to go there. Does it have anything to do with what the president has said about him as well?

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely. And just, you know, writ large, there's a lot of frustration in the Republican Party that's just sort of exploding out all over the place. John McCain venting about the draft. And I think Republicans really have to look inward, because, you know, I get tired of all the complaining, too. I don't want to be in this miserable place as a party. There is so much potential for good. But Republicans, if they want to be successful, you really have to find a way to separate Donald Trump's personality, which you should speak out against and try to get him in line with when you can, from the policy, because Donald Trump is pretty darn good on policy. And if you're a Republican in Congress and you're frustrated, get your nose to the grindstone and start passing some bills. Don't ask like Mitch McConnell is, if the president will sign something before he brings it to the floor for a vote. Pass the bill. Because he would turn a ham sandwich into the biggest legislative victory in the history of the Republic. Let him worry about the messaging. Get the policy done and things will get better.

BOLDUAN: Don't slam ham sandwiches.


I'm hungry. That's not nice.

But, Amanda, you made a good point that was something when Mitch McConnell said that to Dana Bash this weekend, that made my ears perk up as well. Because when it comes to health care, in terms of passing something only when you know the president is going to sign it, that is not what they did in 2016 when they sent a repeal bill to Obama's desk and he vetoed it.

I have something I want to get to Chris, let me get it to you.


BOLDUAN: John McCain, on the issue we're discussing, right now, John McCain is on "The View." His daughter is the new member at the table. And for his birthday, he was joining "The View," and he was asked if he thinks Donald Trump is a draft dodger. I'm going to hear the sound bite with you guys.


UNIDENTIFIED: You say bone spurs. Do you consider him a draft dodger?

MCCAIN: I don't consider him a draft dodger, as I feel the system was so wrong that certain Americans could evade their responsibilities to serve the country. We should have either -- we finally did as you know, we went to the all-volunteer force.


MCCAIN: That's fine. Someone wants to serve they should be able to. By the way, that is now down to about 1 percent or 2 percent of the American public.

UNIDENTIFIED: But isn't it kind of --


BOLDUAN: So, Chris, maybe a little nuance there?

CILLIZZA: Yes. I mean, look, is there any love lost between Donald Trump and John McCain? No. Does John McCain still feel some level of anger related to Donald Trump's comments in July 2015 he was not a real war hero he liked his war heroes not captured of course. Yes. Think about it in your own life.


BOLDUAN: But I also think John McCain, as his daughter said, has bigger challenges he's up against right now.

CILLIZZA: Exactly. He is indicting -- remember the context. This was not -- this comment was on C-Span as related to the Vietnam War.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Exactly.

CILLIZZA: Not a conversation about current issues and he went back to that.

BOLDUAN: That's correct.

CILLIZZA: I do -- yes, I think he has an issue with that as someone who served for a long time and lost a significant -- he can't raise his hands over -- his arms above his shoulders. It's more about the system that Donald Trump was able, in his mind, I think to game than it's about Donald Trump in particular.

BOLDUAN: Jack Kingston, final question, one-word answer. You're good at that. Tax reform pass the president's desk by the end the year?


BOLDUAN: All right. I'm going to hold you to that, as I always do. And then you'll squirrel out of it.

Great to see you guys.

KINGSTON: -- $1,000 raise per family.

BOLDUAN: Thank you, guys.

KINGSTON: Thanks, Kate.

[11:35:15] BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, the $32 million -- the $32 million Bill O'Reilly bombshell. A report says the fired FOX News host settled a sexual harassment claim for a stunning sum of money before the network resigned him, extended his contract. What's this about? New details, new outrage, ahead.


[11:40:04] BOLDUAN: A staggering $32 million secret settlement, that's the price former FOX News star, Bill O'Reilly, reportedly agreed to pay after his former colleague, Lis Wiehl, her claims of sexual conduct against him. That's according to "The New York Times." O'Reilly denies any wrong doing.

Here is what is raising eyebrows. A month after the settlement, the network renewed O'Reilly's contract, even raising his salary.

Brian Stelter here with me now, and he's the host of "RELIABLE SOURCES."

The details are eye popping. Not just the numbers involved, Brian, but also putting under the microscope once again FOX News in this post-Harvey Weinstein world. What do you make of it?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT & CNN HOST, RELIABLE SOURCES: Harvey Weinstein is accused of far worse crimes than Bill O'Reilly has been accused of. Think about this. Harvey Weinstein sometimes paid $50,000 or $100,000 to women who accused him of harassment. Here's Bill O'Reilly paying $32 million. A stunning number. The TV industry is trying to get its head around how could anyone pay this much to an accuser, what could have happened, and what could this have been about.

According to "The New York Times," Wiehl was going to sue him for sexual harassment and nonconsensual sexual relationship claims. That would imply something worse than just harassment. It happened over the course of many years. But she brought back her claims and said she has no claims against O'Reilly now that they have settled.

BOLDUAN: O'Reilly, staying true to form, is fighting this.

STELTER: Yes. He is saying this is a plot to take him down. Here's part of what he said to "The New York Times."


BILL O'REILLY, FORMER FOX NEWS HOST (voice-over): It's horrible what I went through, horrible what my family went through. This is crap. And you know it. It's politically and financially motivated. And we can prove it with shocking information.


STELTER: He is saying he's the victim. He's saying there's a conspiracy to try to take him down. He's blaming "The New York Times" saying they're out to get him. He says CNN's part of the conspiracy. All trying to ensure he's never back on television.

BOLDUAN: Well, being back on TV is one of the things that has -- that has a lot of people talking. Gretchen Carlson, you spoke to her this weekend, the former FOX News host, that deserves a lot of the credit for having the strength and courage to come forward and speak about what happened with Roger Ailes to start this conversation. The fact that they would put him on TV after this kind of a settlement, she said she -- I think she told you, horrifying.

STELTER: Horrifying, yes.

BOLDUAN: Outrageous. STELTER: Just a month ago, he was back on Sean Hannity's show on FOX.

BOLDUAN: That's exactly right. And Megyn Kelly is speaking out with Juliet Huddy. She said, in the interview with Megyn, she's terrified of the network.

STELTER: Yes. She still is, she said. This is because Juliet Huddy is one of the women who accused Ailes of harassment privately and reached a settlement deal. She's limited in what she can say about O'Reilly and FOX. Here's what she did say this morning.


JULIET HUDDY, FORMER FOX NEWS REPORTER: You have to think about your future and some want to make it go away and move on with their lives.


HUDDY: I'm terrified. I'm actually terrified. I don't know why I'm about to cry, but it's just -- it's -- it's difficult. It's difficult -- I think people have regrets. I think people have regrets when they sign nondisclosure agreements. I would imagine they do. I think it's something that you grapple with when you're going through it and then you think it's the best move to make, but it's not necessarily the best move.


STELTER: Interesting. She's one of the woman who signed this settlement, this NDA. She can't really talk about what she says happened with Bill O'Reilly and FOX News. You have some regret in her voice about that.

What we're seeing, Kate is we're seeing a spotlight being shown right now on sexual harassment in the work place but on what companies do to try to keep it quiet through the NDAs, through the secret settlements. The fact that these are coming to light, I think it's providing some long overdue exposure into how this works or doesn't work.

BOLDUAN: Something that Gretchen Carlson is speaking out about a lot and coming to light with the Harvey Weinstein situation. Different sides of the country and having a very similar conversation right now.

STELTER: You're right.

BOLDUAN: Great to see you, Brian.

STELTER: Thanks.

[11:44:14] BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.

This is long from over. You can guess that.

Coming up, ISIS is on the run after U.S.-backed forces take back their de facto capital city. Where is the terror groups leader right now? And where does the fight head next? We will go live to the new front line.


BOLDUAN: A major victory against ISIS. American-backed forces have recaptured Syria's largest oil field from the terror group. It's the latest in a very big series of losses for ISIS. The U.S. coalition is now intensifying its search for ISIS's leader, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. That's leading to a battlefield in a little-known city in eastern Syria.

CNN senior international correspondent, Nick Paton Walsh, traveled close to front line. He's joining me live from the Iraq/Syria border.

Nick, what did you see on that front line?

[11:49:26] NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You're right, Kate. At this point, they've lost Raqqa and Syria and most of the key cities. They're down to one small holdout in a pocket of Deir ez-Zor, in part of the Euphrates River Valley, ISIS, that is. They kind of, to some degree, a spent force in terms of the territory they hold. Interestingly enough, it's what comes in their wake. You mentioned the U.S.-backed SDF Kurdish forces taking that oil field, and that's part of them, as you said, pushing ISIS back to their territory. But it comes at a cost, because who the SDF fighters we spoke to about that oil field said, we have the right to take it and hold it because we lost people in that particular fight. But it's an oil field, but the Syria regime, they want it, too. And they're very nearby. So the broader question now is, do the Kurds get to keep that oil field or do they find themselves fighting against the Syria regime, and more importantly, the Russian backers? This is a battlefield that's extraordinarily complex. Those U.S.-backed fighters, the Kurds, have U.S. aircraft backing them up wherever they go, and the Syrian regime has Russian aircraft and military advisers on the ground doing the same thing. There is the potential here for Moscow's and Washington's interests really to conflict. We have to see, really, how the territory and the spoils, if you like, of the fight against ISIS is divided in this new kind of Syria. It's very fraught -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Absolutely is.

Nick, it's always amazing when you can bring back this reporting. Thank you so much. Great to see you.

Joining me now to discuss this and much more, political journalist, Jonathan Alpeyrie. He's been in more than a dozen conflict zones, including during the war in Syria. That is where he was kidnapped, held for 81 days until, finally, being released in 2013. He's now telling his story. His new book, "The Shattered Lens, A War Photographer's True Story of Captivity and Survival in Syria." Jonathan Alpeyrie.

Thank you so much for coming in, Jonathan.

JONATHAN ALPEYRIE, POLITICAL JOURNALIST & AUTHOR: Thank you. BOLDUAN: First, I want to get a sense of what Nick was talking about in his reporting. Raqqa gets retaken, a huge victory, but now the fighting pushes to a new front, the fighting pushes elsewhere in Syria. What is the impact? You covered the impact on the people in Syria. What is the impact on them after all these years?

ALPEYRIE: Syria will never be the same. I also believe Syria will never recuperate its original borders. Kurdistan has a big stake in creating its own territory in Iraq. Therefore, it's a gamechanger. The borders are being redrawn. I think the big question is, what will happen to Europe. Europe has had a lot of issues when it comes to these situations and they will have to deal with that.

BOLDUAN: We see these images of when Raqqa was taken, the images that came out. It's reduced to nothing in that city. How do they rebuild to something Raqqa was?

ALPEYRIE: There's been many wars everywhere, and things always get rebuilt. People will probably make money on this. And they'll start rebuilding. I know there are contracts being drawn up in Syria as we speak to build up cities that were destroyed.

BOLDUAN: Hard to imagine how long it takes when you see those images.

But I want to get to your story. Held captive for 81 days back in 2013. That was your third trip into Syria. Blindfolded, handcuffed, tortured. You talk about it in your book, the story you're telling now. Were there times when you thought that was it, that that was the end of it for you?

ALPEYRIE: There are many situations, one of them is a lot of marked mock executions. You don't know if it's the real one or if they're pretending. I went through a lot of torture in the beginning. And you never know how that will end up. You always anticipate the fact this could be the last day. But also the military situation on the ground was very difficult. We were being shelled constantly. So in the end, having a bomb dropped on me was actually a relief, because at least it would be over and it's done with, and being tortured, which was consistent.

BOLDUAN: We know how you got out, that a ransom was paid. That's how it ends for a lot of folks with these groups. If they're going to get out alive, that's how it ends. How did you make it through, though?

ALPEYRIE: Well, you find out a lot of things about yourself in terms of how much you can take in the situation. Ad then you're able to try to see if you can push the envelope further and just making your life easier from maybe getting a little extra water or be able to go to the bathroom an extra time that day. And also the most important aspect for me was to make sure they liked me, so I was always very friendly.

BOLDUAN: Really?

ALPEYRIE: I used to pray with them. I used to cook for them. I used to do a lot of things that made me very friendly to them. And hopefully, made them think perhaps I wasn't a bad person, that I could be a friend of theirs.

BOLDUAN: But, in no way, did you ever think anybody was your friend?

ALPEYRIE: No. You have to spend a lot of time manipulating people to make friends with everybody.

BOLDUAN: Just trying to survive?

ALPEYRIE: Exactly.

BOLDUAN: After all of this, and we see the images coming out of Syria now, do you think you'll head back to Syria?

ALPEYRIE: I was very attempted to go to Raqqa, but for various personal reasons, I was told not to. I did go to Mosul multiple times this year. So I did go back. It's a very hard thing when you do what we do for a living, to let it go and put it behind you and move forward. It's kind of in your bloodstream, so being in war constantly has become some sort of addiction in some way, so it's hard to let that go.

[11:55:07] BOLDUAN: After this, what's the most important thing you want people to understand about if there is any lesson learned from your time in captivity and torture, of what you learned?

ALPEYRIE: It's a good question. It's a difficult question to answer. In my opinion, it's really what you can find about yourself, like how much you can take. And then you also realize other things that you've left behind, family and loved ones. And perhaps when you come home, you appreciate that a little better.

BOLDUAN: It's great to see you. Great to meet you.

ALPEYRIE: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much for coming in and sharing your story.

Jonathan Alpeyrie. You can pick up his book now, "The Shattered Lens."

Thank you.

Coming up, we could hear more from Mr. Trump this morning when he sits down with the prime minister of Singapore. What more will he have to say? What is his message today? Will it be on taxes? Will it be on the unfortunate ongoing conversation, debate and controversy surrounding the death of four U.S. military personnel in Niger? We're going to bring you his comments live when they happen.