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Nigerian Kidnappings Overshadow Economic Forum; Did Monica Lewinsky Article Do Hillary Clinton a Favor; Debate of Russian Sanctions Getting Hotter on Capitol Hill; Families Say Look Elsewhere for MH370;

Aired May 8, 2014 - 13:30   ET


RANA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYST & TIME MAGAZINE ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR: The president of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan spoke today and said he believed they were at a turning point to combat terrorism. It's hard to believe that given the lackadaisical response of the government to the girls. There's a sense among big investors and oil companies and financial companies are going ahead with business. But those that focus on consumers, those counting on growing wealth in this area, and also female empowerment, which goes along with economic development, those two go hand-in-hand, I think they're having worries about the future of Nigeria.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The economic future was seemingly very, very good this terrorist explosion erupted in recent weeks. A lot of oil exports. Nigeria one of the most significant power houses on the African continent. This could really cripple a lot of that, couldn't it?

FOROOHAR: Absolutely. Nigeria is actually now the largest economy in Africa, one of the top six -- six out of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world or Africa. It is one of those. Investors were counting on it to be a bulwark of the middle class and in order to have a middle class you have to have security. We can talk all we want about 7 or 8 percent GDP growth and oil money. When so much is trickling out who knows where, there's a lot of corruption within the country and the government simply cannot provide basic security, education for its people you have a longer term economic problem that's nowhere near being solved.

BLITZER: In Nigeria for, us, Rana Foroohar, the "Time" magazine assistant managing editor and also a CNN global economic analyst.

Barbara Starr is our Pentagon correspondent.

Guys, thanks very much.

Still ahead, a very different story we're following. Monica Lewinsky's essay in "Vanity Fair" may have done Hillary Clinton a big favor, one analyst suggests so. We'll speak with her when we come back.


BLITZER: 16 years after she was involved in a political sex scandal that stunned the nation, Monica Lewinsky is recounting the affair with Bill Clinton is a new "Vanity Fair" essay released today. The affair almost brought down President Clinton's presidency. He was impeached by the House of Representatives, but the Senate later acquitted him, allowing President Clinton to conclude his second term in January of 2001. Certainly made Monica Lewinsky a target.

Lewinsky writes this in the new article, "With every marital indiscretion that finds its way into the public sphere, many of which involve male politicians, it always seems like the woman conveniently takes the fall."

Let's bring in "The Washington Post" columnist, Ruth Marcus.

And you wrote an op-ed, "Monica Lewinsky does Hillary Clinton a big favor." That was the headline. What do you mean?

RUTH MARCUS, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Possibly not her intention. If Hillary Clinton is going to run for president, the subject of Monica Lewinsky is going to come up. Not as a big topic or election altering event but it will come up. To the extent it comes up, Monica Lewinsky answers it now, asked and answers. Inoculation is the best thing in American politics. We can have that discussion and move on.

Second, Monica Lewinsky said something important that responded to some things that Senator Rand Paul has been saying about Bill Clinton as a sexual predator. She said, look, my boss did take advantage of me, and she's not excusing him. But she also said, I'm not a victim. I was a willing participant. So to the extent there is some in the Republican party who -- I think this is a probably a political mistake -- but to the extent there are some saying Bill Clinton, sexual predator, Monica Lewinsky helps rebut that narrative as well

BLITZER: She ran for the Democratic nomination in 2007, 2008, we didn't even talk about Monica Lewinsky at that time in the Democratic context. Your argument is, if she would have gotten the Democratic nomination, John McCain and Republicans would have gone after her?

MARCUS: Possibly not John McCain himself. A general election campaign is a very different event in both the Democratic and Republican primary. We won't get to an election in which Hillary Clinton is the nominee in which we don't have a discussion about Bill Clinton impeachment and what he might be doing in a future White House.

BLITZER: You covered the Monica Lewinsky --

MARCUS: We all lived through it.

BLITZER: We were sitting next to each other in the White House briefing room.


MARCUS: Yes. And we're pretty freaked-out that Monica Lewinsky is 40. BLITZER: During the awful briefings and details we had to go through, we remember it very vividly.

You read this article. Ruth Marcus, you're a columnist now, not just a regular White House correspondent now.

MARCUS: Some of us have moved up to greatness, Wolf, sorry.


BLITZER: What do you think? Were you sorry for Monica Lewinsky?

MARCUS: I really did feel sadness for her, looking at it partly as a more. Everybody else involved in this escapade, scandal, whatever you want to call it, has thrived. Bill Clinton was impeached and he was humiliated. He is remembered for having had a successful presidency and an extraordinarily post presidency. Hillary Clinton, injured party, went on to become Senator, secretary of state, she may be president. Who is -- I said road kill and I don't mean to take her not seriously, but who is the victim here? Monica Lewinsky is the road kill of this event. And she has not managed to move on from it, hasn't managed to find a job, isn't married. Her life is defined by the Lewinsky scandal more than anybody else involved in it.

BLITZER: People asked me over the past couple of days, what did you learn from reading this long essay that you wrote in "Vanity Fair"? I did learn some things, including the fact her mother for months stayed with her at night because she was afraid she had been so humiliated, as a 23, 24, 25-year-old, she might commit suicide.

MARCUS: We really tend to forget the humanity involved in these tragedies and behooves us all to remember it a little bit more.

BLITZER: Thanks for coming in, Ruth Marcus, of "The Washington Post."

The debate of sanctions is getting hotter on Capitol Hill. Is the U.S. doing enough to contain the crisis in Ukraine and keep Vladimir Putin from fueling the flames? Take a look. There are growing concerns right now.


BLITZER: Here in Washington, on Capitol Hill, the call for stronger sanctions against Russia is growing louder as more lawmakers question Moscow's intentions in Ukraine. The House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing today. Lawmakers pressed about the Obama administration's response to Crimea and eastern Ukraine. State Department officials were adamant, current sanctions against Russia are, they say, having an impact. But they also say the U.S. is ready to do more, if needed. Listen to this.


VICTORIA NULAND, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: Our message to Russia is clear. NATO territory is enviable. We will guard every piece of it. And we're mounting a visible deterrent to any Russian efforts to test that.


BLITZER: Joining us, Michael Crowley the chief foreign affairs correspondent for "Time" magazine, the co-author of "Time's" new cover story, "What Putin Wants"; and Jane Harman, head of the Wilson Center, former member of Congress.

Are these sanctions, Jane, working?

JANE HARMAN, DIRECTOR, CEO, THE WILSON CENTER: I believe they are working. Remember, they are not just our sanctions, U.S./Europe/E.U. sanctions and the combination is better, more important than either of the parts. When Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, was here on Friday, she and President Obama had a press conference pledging there would be tougher sectoral sanctions against segments of the economy, like financial or the energy sector, if the free election elections don't occur on May 25th, as schedule. I think that message has been received. I think this pause by Vladimir Putin is to be taken seriously. The good news is, the OSTE, the Organization for Cooperation in Europe, is on the ground again. Its monitors have been released from kidnapping, and is making a real difference in getting the sides together. I'm becoming bullish on this thing.

BLITZER: Really? What about you? You have a cover story on Putin. Has Putin blinked a little bit? These latest comments seem to be a softening, although U.S. Officials say they see no evidence yet he's pulling the troops away from the border.

MICHAEL CROWLEY, CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, TIME MAGAZINE: It's a real head fake that I did with me colleague, Simon Schuster (ph), who took a butt in the head when he was out in the field and was abducted briefly. If Putin is blinking, that's a surprise. This isn't a guy who blinks. This is a guy who has had the advantage throughout. There have been moments earlier when we thought he was open to diplomacy or he was stepping back a little bit. The concern is this is a faint to further confuse the West and pause sanctions and potentially create what may be the illusion of distance between Moscow and separatists in Ukraine, who still plan to go forward on this referendum of independence and separation this weekend

BLITZER: He's also trying to create daylight between the U.S., which may want tougher sanctions, but the Germans and other Europeans pay a more significant price --

HARMAN: Sure they do.

BLITZER: If the sanctions are --


BLITZER: -- because more of their economy is linked more than the U.S. economy.

HARMAN: No question, but Angela Merkel said secular sanctions are in Russia's future. I also think there are other telltale signs. I personally do. And they --

BLITZER: Telltale signs of what?

HARMAN: That it's not a head fake. I'm not sure he controls everyone on the ground in Ukraine. But I think the signals are going out, so I heard a few hours ago, to roll this thing back. What he has to gain is his economy is tanking. $64 billion has left his country. The stock market is down by $25 million -- 25 percent. The polls in Ukraine show that 70 percent of the people in east Ukraine, a Pew poll, want to stay part of Ukraine. Putin doesn't have a long-term strategy that will work for him

BLITZER: I think Jane has a good point. I spoke to high ranking officials that say the ruble is in trouble right now and some of the billionaire oligarchs around Mr. Putin, who are very influential, they are beginning to say, Mr. President, calm it down

CROWLEY: It's important that you come to a baseline, the economy is not particularly healthy. The Russian economy and Putin's government has been largely propped up by high oil prices over $100 a barrel. So his economy is weak and vulnerable to sanctions. There are people that think the sanctions we put in place so far really are not that serious. A lot of market drop and ruble drop has to do with general uncertainty, is a war break out, but there is a possibility of another round of tougher sanctions. So is he blinking because he is feeling pain now? Maybe. But is he blinking -- if he is blinking -- because he's worried about the next round, the hammer blow that could knock his country off his feet. I think it's possible. But with him, it's a guessing game.

HARMAN: And free advice to Putin from me, there are other areas he could play productively. For example, in Syria, why not help the Syrians fashion a team for election other than Bashar al Assad? It's in Russia's interests to have a government more stable. And he should stay in the game on Iran. It would be important to reach a deal with the Iranians.

BLITZER: Very sensitive moment right now.

Jane Harman, thanks very much.

Michael Crowley, thanks to you. Good cover story in "Time" magazine.

CROWLEY: Thanks so much.

BLITZER: Still ahead, two months of hunting has failed to find any sign of the massive jet and now the passengers' families want searchers to consider looking elsewhere.


BLITZER: On Wall Street today, take a look at the numbers. Up about 66 points, the Dow Jones. This comes after the Fed chair, Janet Yellen, told lawmakers she will keep interest rates lower until the economy is on firmer footage. Two months, the world confronted an unprecedented mystery when Malaysian Airline flight 370 vanished on a routine trip to Beijing. Not a single shred of the plane has been found. Today, an open letter from the frustrated passengers asked for all data to be satellite data to be released and for all searchers to consider looking elsewhere.

CNN's Will Ripley has more on what you need to know about what's going on.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Australia, some of the best minds in the world have taking a hard look at the facts of Malaysia Airlines flight 370. They fall into three categories, the known, the assumed and the unknown. Among the know, 41 minutes after midnight on March 8th, the 777 takes off, climbing to flight level 350, 35,000 feet. Less than one hour into the flight, the final words from the cockpit.


PLANE: Goodnight. Malaysian 370.


RIPLEY: Also known, the plane's tracking devices are switched off, causing the plane to disappear from civilian radar. Malaysian military radar continues tracking the flight. A senior Malaysian air force official says the plane went off course but nothing was done even though it appeared something was wrong.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: No planes were sent up on the night to investigate.

NAJIB RAZAK, MALAYSIAN PRIME MINISTER: No, simply because it was deemed not to be hostile.

RIPLEY: It took more than four hours to activate search-and-rescue teams. If all this is known, one huge fact has to be assumed. The flight path, calculated from satellite data and fuel estimates from the plane, that data used to determine the plane's most likely flight path thousands of miles off course, leading the Malaysian prime minister to make this stunning statement.

RAZAK: Flight MH370 ended in the Southern Indian Ocean.

RIPLEY (ph): An international team here in Kuala Lumpur spent countless hour hours coming up with what is essentially their best educated guess.

(voice-over): The team will chart the course for a massive underwater search operation off the coast of Western Australia, 60,000 square kilometers. 60 million dollars, up to 12 months, focusing on the area where searchers heard noises they assume are from the so-called black box. ANGUS HOUSTON, AUSTRALIAN AIR CHIEF MARSHALL, RETIRED: This would be consistent with transmissions from both the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder. This is the most promising lead so far it's probably the best information that we have had.

RIPLEY: And now the facts we simply don't know, the facts yet to be discovered. What caused the plane to go off course? And who, if anyone, was at the controls during the flight's final hours?

Despite the work of 26 countries, so far, the search has found no trace of the plane or those 239 people.

TONY ABBOTT, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: We will do everything to solve this mystery. We will not let people down.


RIPLEY: Finally back to the one fact that is known and undisputed. Two months later, still no answer to the question, will they ever find the plane that carries so many secrets?

Will Ripley, CNN, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.


BLITZER: That's if for me. Thanks very much for watching. I will be back 5:00 p.m. eastern in "The Situation Room." Among my guests today, later today, Lisa Monaco, the president's counter terrorism advisor, will speak about what is going on with the kidnapped schoolgirls in Nigeria and what the United States can do to find them and bring them home. 5:00 p.m. eastern in "The Situation Room."

Thanks for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer, in Washington.

NEWSROOM with Brianna Keilar starts after a quick break.