Full transcript of "Face the Nation" on Sept. 11, 2022

·42 min read

On this "Face the Nation" broadcast moderated by Margaret Brennan:

Sen. Mark Warner, Democrat of VirginiaRet. Gen. Frank McKenzieBritish Ambassador to the U.S. Karen PierceUkrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana MarkarovaMayor Chokwe Lumumba of Jackson, Mississippi

Click here to browse full transcripts of "Face the Nation."

MARGARET BRENNAN: I'm Margaret Brennan in Washington.

And this week on Face the Nation: America remembers the lives lost 21 years ago in the attacks of 9/11, as one of our oldest allies mourns their own loss and enters an uncertain age.

On this somber morning, Americans pay tribute to the nearly 3,000 lives lost on that tragic September day.

(Begin VT)

JOE BIDEN (President of the United States): What was destroyed, we have repaired. What was threatened, we have fortified. What was attacked, the indomitable spirit has never, ever wavered.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: What is the state now of America's national security?

We will hear from Frank McKenzie, the recently retired four-star Marine general who oversaw the U.S. departure from Afghanistan as head of U.S. Central Command.

And we will talk with the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Virginia Democrat Mark Warner, about the current threats to the homeland and the escalating legal fight between the Justice Department and former President Trump over his handling of classified documents.

(Begin VT)

MAN: Three cheers for His Majesty the King.

Hip hip!

MEN: Hooray!

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: The United Kingdom ushers in the reign of King Charles III, while it grieves the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, a towering figure who held the throne for generations.

We will get the latest on the historic transition from CBS Evening News anchor Norah O'Donnell, who is in London. And we will hear from the British ambassador to the U.S., Dame Karen Pierce, about what's next for the special relationship between our two countries.

And a stunning advance this weekend by Ukrainian forces, as they reclaim more territory from Russian troops. Ukraine's Ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova will join us for an update.

Finally, a growing outcry over a crisis at home. How is it possible that the capital city of a U.S. state in the richest country in the world doesn't have clean running water? We will get an update from the mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, Chokwe Lumumba, on his city's struggles.

It's all just ahead on Face the Nation.

Good morning, and welcome to Face the Nation.

Twenty-one years ago today, Americans united in their grief and in their opposition to extremist forces who attacked the country on September 11.

It is a somber Sunday morning here in the U.S. and in the United Kingdom. We are witnessing a solemn tribute there, with crowds lining the streets to pay their respects to Queen Elizabeth II, as her coffin makes its way from Balmoral Castle, where she passed away on Thursday, to her official home in Edinburgh, Scotland.

We will have a report from London on an extraordinary period of change in the United Kingdom in just a moment, but we want to begin here in the U.S.

From Ground Zero in New York to Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and here at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, Americans remember the nearly 3,000 lives lost on this day 21 years ago. As has become tradition, moments of silence marked each of the devastations of that morning in 2001.

Two planes crashed into the World Trade Center towers. The towers collapsed shortly thereafter, a third plane crashing into the Pentagon, and a fourth brought down in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

In a sobering and now familiar ritual, the names of the fallen were read aloud. President Biden laid a wreath at the Pentagon and made remarks a short time ago.

(Begin VT)

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Our intelligence, defense and counterterrorism professionals in the building behind me and across the government continue their vigilance against terrorist threats that has evolved and spread to new regions of the world.

We will continue to monitor and disrupt those terrorist activities wherever we find them, wherever they exist. And we will never hesitate to do what's necessary to defend the American people.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: For a closer look now at the evolving threats to the homeland, we begin this morning with the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mark Warner of Virginia.

Good morning to you, Senator.

SENATOR MARK WARNER (D-Virginia): Good morning, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You know, 9/11 introduced to many Americans for the very first time this sense of vulnerability at home, and it launched the global war on terror.

I wonder how vulnerable you think America is now. Are we paying enough attention to the Middle East and to Afghanistan?

SENATOR MARK WARNER: Well, Margaret, I remember, as most Americans do, where they were on 9/11.

I was in the middle of a political campaign. And, suddenly, the differences with my opponent seemed very small in comparison. And our country came together. And, in many ways, we defeated the terrorists because of the resilience of the American public, because of our intelligence community.

And we are safer, better prepared. The stunning thing to me is, here we are 20 years later, and the attack on the symbol of our democracy was not coming from terrorists, but it came from literally insurgents attacking the Capitol on January 6.

So I believe we are stronger. I believe our intelligence community has performed remarkably. I think the threat of terror has diminished. I think we still have new challenges in terms of nation-state challenges, Russia and, longer term, a technology competition with China.

But I do worry about some of the activity in this country, where the election deniers, the insurgency that took place on January 6, that is something I hope we could see that same kind of unity of spirit.

MARGARET BRENNAN: As you're pointing out, America came together after 9/11. And we are incredibly divided right now.

One thing that is potentially quite explosive is this ongoing investigation of the Justice -- by the Justice Department of the former president and his handling of classified information.

You've asked for a briefing from the intelligence community. Given how sensitive this is, why should anything be shared with Congress, given that this is an ongoing investigation?

SENATOR MARK WARNER: Because, as the chairman of the Intelligence Committee -- and I'm very proud of our committee. We're the last functioning bipartisan committee. I believe, in -- in the whole Congress.

The vice chairman and I have asked for a briefing of the damages that could have arisen from mishandling of this information. And I believe it's our congressional duty to have that oversight. Remember, what's at stake here is the fact that, if some of these documents involve human intelligence, and that information got out, people will die.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We don't know that yet.

SENATOR MARK WARNER: If there are penetration of signals intelligence, literally years of work could be destroyed.

We talk about the enormous advances our intelligence community has made helping our Ukrainian friends. That comes about because we share intelligence. If there's intelligence that has been shared with us by allies, and that is mishandled, all of that could be in jeopardy.

Now, we don't know what's in those documents.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

SENATOR MARK WARNER: But I think it is incumbent, as soon as we get approval -- let me be clear, as soon as we get approval.

My understanding is, there is some question, because of the special master appointment by the judge in Florida, whether they can brief at this point. We need clarification on that from that judge as quickly as possible, because it is essential that the Intelligence Committee leadership, at least, gets a briefing of the damage assessment.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But that damage assessment, it has been paused, as has the classification review, and it will take some time.

So, A, I am assuming in your answer there you're saying there have been no promises of a briefing to be scheduled. Is that right?

SENATOR MARK WARNER: I believe we will get a briefing as soon as there is clarification whether this can be performed or not...

MARGARET BRENNAN: But why should that...

SENATOR MARK WARNER: ... in light of the ruling of the judge in Florida.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Why should that happen?

Because I want to get to something you said,which was the last bipartisan committee. You and Marco Rubio, your partner in this request for a briefing, put forth this letter asking for the damage assessment.

But, lately, your colleague has been making some comments that don't sound quite as bipartisan. He's compared the Justice Department to corrupt regimes in Latin America when it comes to this investigation. He's accused DOJ of leaking sensitive details. And he said the only reason to leak it is to create a narrative for political purpose.

When information gets shared with Congress, as you know, the accusation is, it will get leaked. So, A, it looks like you're losing that bipartisanship. And, B, If you brief Congress, isn't it going to leak further and worsen?

SENATOR MARK WARNER: The record of our Intelligence Committee of keeping secrets secret, that's why the intelligence community shares information with us.

Remember, this was the committee, bipartisan, that did the Russia investigation.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you know that your oversight capability, many would argue, including former heads of counterintelligence, FBI, that the line is drawn when it's an active investigation. They don't owe a briefing.

SENATOR MARK WARNER: We don't -- we do not, I do not want any kind of insight into an active investigation by the Justice Department.

I do want the damage assessment of what would happen to our ability to protect the nation, and here we are 21 years after 9/11, if classified secrets, top secret secrets are somehow mishandled. I pointed out earlier, people could die. Sources of intelligence could disappear. The willingness of our allies to share intelligence could be undermined.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

SENATOR MARK WARNER: And I think we need that assessment to make sure if, on an ongoing...

MARGARET BRENNAN: Which you will get.

SENATOR MARK WARNER: But I think we need it sooner than later.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But it's going to take some time.

SENATOR MARK WARNER: I think we need it sooner than later.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But -- so -- but, to that point, because it's so sensitive, because the country is so divided, because you already have in many ways a target being put on the back of law enforcement, isn't it more important to get it right, to be deliberate, and not to be fast here?

I want the details just as much as you do.

(CROSSTALK)

SENATOR MARK WARNER: I do not think we should have, as the Intelligence Committee, a briefing on the ongoing investigation.

What our responsibility is, is to assess whether there has been damage done to our intelligence collection and maintenance of secrets capacity.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But just...

SENATOR MARK WARNER: That is a damage assessment that, frankly, even the judge in Florida has said can continue.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Before November?

SENATOR MARK WARNER: Listen, the -- once we get clarification from the judge in Florida -- and, again, I don't think we can cherry-pick what part of the legal system we like or dislike.

I have trust in our legal system. I may not agree with the decision of the judge in Florida, but I respect our Department of Justice. I respect the FBI. I think they are trying, under extraordinarily difficult circumstances, to get it right. And we owe them the benefit of the doubt.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator, thank you for coming on.

And I know we're going to continue to track this and any potential impact to national security.

SENATOR MARK WARNER: Thank you, Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to retired Marine General Frank McKenzie, who was most recently commander of U.S. Central Command, which is in charge of defending U.S. interests in the Middle East, Central and South Asia.

Last August, he led the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

And we welcome him now.

Good morning to you, General.

GEN. FRANK MCKENZIE (RET.) (Former Commander, U.S. Central Command): Good morning, Margaret. Good to be here.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I know you were at the Pentagon when it was attacked on 9/11. And, as we just laid out, that really came full circle as you executed this withdrawal.

I wonder how you make peace and make sense of all that was lost, not just the 2,400 service people who lost their lives in that conflict, but those who survived, who continued to deal with loss and look at an Afghanistan that is once again under the control of the Taliban.

GEN. FRANK MCKENZIE: Well, Margaret, over the 21-year arc from 9/11 -- and I was in the Pentagon -- to when we came out of Afghanistan last August, we prevented a major attack from occurring on the United States. The cost was not cheap, as you noted.

It -- we lost a lot of brave young Americans. Our coalition partners lost a lot of their -- their soldiers. And, of course, the Afghan people paid a steep price for that. So, it wasn't a cost-free proposition.

But we did manage to prevent another major attack from occurring against the United States during that period of time. I'm still processing what it means here at the end, and it would be presumptuous of me to say that it bothers me more than those who lost a loved one at some time in Afghanistan or one of the other theaters where we carried on this battle against a relentless, violent foe.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I know you have, since leaving your position, shared that you advised President Biden not to draw down to zero, to leave a residual force of 2,500 troops in Afghanistan.

It's the right, as the commander in chief, to keep his own counsel and reject the advice of his military commanders. If you felt so strongly, why didn't you resign?

GEN. FRANK MCKENZIE: I had the opportunity to give advice -- advice to the president.

He heard my advice. It was heard thoughtfully. And that's really all a commander should expect to be able to do under our system. Once the president makes a decision, for a combatant commander like me, the chain of command is very short. It is the secretary of defense and it is the president of the United States.

And once civilian leadership makes a decision, even though I might disagree with that decision, it is my moral responsibility to execute that order. To resign is not -- and is not in the -- in the history is not -- it is not something that U.S. officers have typically done. And it sends a very bad signal.

It is a political act by an officer who must need -- and must be and remain apolitical. So, even if you disagree with the order, as long as the order is legal, you need to follow that order. If we do anything different, it would be very dangerous to the republic.

So, while I gave advice, my advice was not followed. I executed that order as well as we were able to do. And I will just note that the president makes decisions based on many factors.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

GEN. FRANK MCKENZIE: My recommendation in the Central Command AOR certainly one of the factors he had to weigh. There were other factors that the president had to weigh as well. And I'm very much aware of that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, do you think, given your assessment of the threat, that the United States is paying enough attention now to the Middle East and to Afghanistan?

GEN. FRANK MCKENZIE: Well, I hope that we are.

I think that we have very, very limited ability to see into Afghanistan right now. I have said I think we've got certainly less than two or three percent of the intelligence capability that we had before we withdrew.

Our interest in Afghanistan is preventing al Qaeda or ISIS from regenerating and being able to conduct an attack on our homeland or the homelands of our friends and partners. And our ability to do that has certainly been gravely reduced.

Now, the fact that we took a strike against Zawahiri, and that was a very good and proper action, that's good news. I would note that's one strike in a year. And I will just come back. I would be careful about drawing conclusions about our ability to operate effectively in Afghanistan, in a counterterrorism sense, based on that single operation.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You're talking about the CIA drone strike that took out the leader of al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in July.

But the administration would point to that and say, look, we can counter the terror threat without a military footprint.

So, are we at the right balance right now of keeping the homeland safe? Do you agree with their assessment that ISIS and al Qaeda do not presently pose a threat of being able to carry out an attack here?

GEN. FRANK MCKENZIE: When I -- when I left -- when I left active duty, it was our assessment that, if we left Afghanistan, if the Afghan government fell, if the Taliban took over, then, over a period of time, both al Qaeda and ISIS would be able to regenerate.

That is still my opinion today. You know, it is going to take a little time for them to do that. But I think what's most concerning about the CIA strike that you mentioned was the fact that he was living in very good accommodations in downtown Kabul.

And that should give us all pause and also speak directly to the ill intent of the Taliban in negotiating with us as we worked with the Doha Agreement, which was the attempt to find an end to the war in Afghanistan. I think it is a manifest example of their of their inability to keep their word.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What I hear you saying there is that the Trump administration bears responsibility for the deal it brokered with the Taliban, the Doha agreement?

GEN. FRANK MCKENZIE: So, I think the reason that we left Afghanistan and the reason the Afghan government fell was that two presidents, President Trump and President Biden, both had as a very high objective to leave Afghanistan.

So you had continuity of purpose across two administrations.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

GEN. FRANK MCKENZIE: Now, the Doha Agreement, had we -- had we held the Taliban to the conditionality that was a critical part of it, it could have been a useful vehicle for moving forward. But we did not hold the Taliban to the conditions that they -- that they said they would observe.

And that's -- that...

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

GEN. FRANK MCKENZIE: Because of that, no agreement is going to be good.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The Biden administration has not released any public version of an after-action report of what went wrong. This was a big black eye, I don't have to tell you that, how this withdrawal happened.

Do you think this assessment should be made public? And does the fact it is not public now suggest to you that any politics is at play?

GEN. FRANK MCKENZIE: I don't know, Margaret.

I would tell you that I participated before I left active duty in that after-action review. We did a number of those inside CENTCOM. And then I was also interviewed several times for the review that I believe is still working within inside the Department of Defense.

I think it's probably a good thing to release as much of that review as you can. Obviously, there are going to be -- there are going to be sensitive intelligence components to that. And -- but I think you could probably excise some of those and still -- I think the American people want to know what happened. And I think it's a reasonable thing to do.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We will continue to press for that.

And thank you for your insights today, retired General Frank McKenzie.

We want to be back in a moment with more Face the Nation. Stay with us.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Today, the United Kingdom is in mourning for Queen Elizabeth, its longest-serving monarch, who will be laid to rest next Monday.

World leaders are preparing to travel there in the coming days to pay their respects to her memory and to her son King Charles III. Today, he will be formally proclaimed king of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

CBS Evening News anchor Norah O'Donnell is there in London -- Norah.

NORAH O'DONNELL: Good morning, Margaret.

Yes, it has been an incredibly moving morning here for many in England, as Queen Elizabeth II begins her long journey home. This morning, we saw her oak coffin covered with the royal standard of Scotland beginning its slow six-hour journey from Balmoral Castle to the country's capital of Edinburgh.

There were tens of thousands of people lining the roads in tribute to the queen. The coffin will then rest in the throne room of the Palace of Holyrood. That is Holyroodhouse. That's actually the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland -- until Monday afternoon.

Then King Charles III and the queen consort will arrive Monday as the coffin moves to St. Giles Cathedral, where she will lie in state. And then the new sovereign will then make a tour of the countries that make up the United Kingdom, including Ireland, before the funeral next Monday on September 19.

And, you know, Margaret, there has been much said about the people's sentimental attachment to the monarch, the commonwealth's matriarch, but her reign marked not just for its constancy, but its length of 70 years. And some said, of course, it's like a living link to World War II.

So, it's perhaps fitting that the queen state funeral will be the first in Britain since Winston Churchill in 1965.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And, Norah, I can see behind you there at Buckingham Palace the memorials and the outpouring of sympathy.

I wonder what it's like for you being on the ground in what is truly a historic moment.

NORAH O'DONNELL: It is.

And you're right, so many people here. Actually, the king is holding meetings here today. And, also, people were touched to see the now prince and princess of Wales spend nearly an hour meeting with people outside Windsor Castle.

A royal source says that Prince William invited his brother, the duke and duchess of Sussex, Harry and Meghan, to join them. And it is the first time we have seen the four together in two years.

And the academics here in the papers this morning are saying, this is a moment that in some ways will never be replicated, a woman whose reign was historic in length, revered for her grace and strength, was also known for her soft power, meeting 13 U.S. presidents, countless world leaders, giving advice and guidance to 15 prime ministers here, and, as you know quite well, Margaret, being the first British sovereign to visit Ireland in a century and helping calm tensions there.

So, many people noting this passing of an era, and, of course, the world leaders expected to be here next week, the following week, to mourn her at Westminster Abbey -- Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Norah, thank you for your reporting there. And we will continue to cover that throughout CBS News programs.

We're joined now by Dame Karen Pierce, the United Kingdom's ambassador to the United States.

And, Madam Ambassador, welcome to Face the Nation. And our condolences to you and your country.

KAREN PIERCE (British Ambassador to the United States): Thank you very much.

MARGARET BRENNAN: President Biden reminded the country that Queen Elizabeth said grief is the price we pay for love, and she said it after the attacks of 9/11.

I wonder, as you look around this town and you see Union Jacks down Pennsylvania Avenue, you have this outpouring of sympathy, has it surprised you how strong the reaction has been?

AMBASSADOR KAREN PIERCE: Well, could I start, Margaret, by also expressing my condolences to the American people on the anniversary of 9/11?

As you say, that is what the Queen said. She also asked that the British institutions fly the American flag after 9/11 and on the 10th and 20th anniversaries. So, I think it's very good that the mayor and others have put up the British flags. It's very kind of them. We appreciate it very much.

And, yes, I think we were a little bit surprised by quite how many Americans have rallied, have come to the embassy to pay their respects, have sent us messages. We were honored by the president coming to the embassy, the vice president and Secretary Blinken.

This is what close allies do. They support each other. Nevertheless, it's a very moving thing to see.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And President Biden, other world leaders have said they will come to the United Kingdom for the funeral next Monday.

I want to take a quick break here and come back, because we have a lot to talk about. You have a lot of change ahead and under way in the United Kingdom.

And we will have more from the ambassador in just a moment, so stay with us.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: If you can't watch the full Face the Nation, you can set your DVR, or we are available on demand.

Plus, you can watch us through our CBS or Paramount+ app. And we're replayed on our CBS News Streaming Network at noon and 4:00 p.m. Eastern.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We will be right back with a lot more with the British ambassador to the United States on the queen's passing and a new era for the United Kingdom.

Stay with us.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION.

We continue our conversation now with the United Kingdom's ambassador to the United States, Dame Karen Pierce.

It's so good to have you here at such a key moment. And I wonder, as King Charles III, and we start to see him in this role on the throne, what will change about the contours of the kingdom? And I ask that because, as I'm sure you've seen, there's been a lot written in recent days. In "The New York Times" there was a columnist, Maya Jasanoff, who's a British historian, writes about the empire. And she said that the commonwealth really kind of glosses over some of the more bloody forms of British colonialism. She said, in her role as queen, Elizabeth helped obscure a bloody history of decolonization whose proportions and legacies have yet to be adequately acknowledged.

It sort of kicked off the debate here. And I wonder how you think King Charles will deal with that. Is he mindful of things like this?

DAME KAREN PIERCE (U.K. Ambassador to the United States): He's very politically aware and astute and very much aware of the world around him. I think his first task will be to go around the constituent parts of the U.K., promoting a message of unity, one of respect for the late queen, but also one of renewal. He'll want to show stability and unity and continuity. But he has made no secret of the fact there are things he'd like to modernize. So, we'll wait and see what those are.

He's a huge supporter of the commonwealth. He becomes head of the commonwealth. And that was decided a few years ago. He has gone on record as saying it doesn't matter what sort of government you have in the commonwealth, whether you have monarchy, whether you have a republic, whether you have some other form, you are very welcome in the commonwealth. And he wants to do what he can to strengthen that partnership of equal - equal nations. And I want to stress the equal.

We can't pretend we have a different history. There are good things and bad. And we need to talk about them. But I think that assessment is too negative. I would say that one of the overwhelmingly positive things that came out of the queen's 70 years was the transition from empire to commonwealth, was the transition to having a fellowship of sovereign equal nations who will come together every two years, head of government and head of state level, and who do an awful lot (INAUDIBLE) on trade in between.

So, I think that's a positive legacy. And I think most countries in the commonwealth would feel that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The U.K.'s had such tremendous change. Four prime ministers in the past six years. A new prime minister just in recent days as well, Liz Truss. I want to ask you about the U.S./U.K. relationship because President Biden has made clear, when it comes to relations, for him, protecting the peace in northern Ireland is of utmost importance. And this looks like it could be a point of difference because the U.S. has warned the U.K. not to hold a vote on this legislation that could affect the creation or not of a hard border between north and south Ireland.

Do you believe that vote will happen? And what happens to U.S. relations if that goes ahead?

KAREN PIERCE: So, I think the first thing to say is that the president had a very warm discussion with the prime minister when she was first appointed. They talked about the special relationship. They talked about what Britain and the U.S. can do together, promoting democracy and open societies around the world and the need to push back on authoritarianism. So, as the queen herself said, what brings us together is far stronger than any individual issue that may divide us.

We, too, in Britain, the prime minister wants to preserve the Good Friday Peace Agreement in northern Ireland. She and the president and the Irish government absolutely share that aim.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But she's also talked about scrapping parts of that agreement with the EU, that -- specifically that deal with that border.

KAREN PIERCE: Well, that is a particular agreement about trade so that northern Ireland can trade with Ireland, which remains in the European Union. And the mainland of Great Britain can also trade with northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom.

And the difficulty arises precisely because we are determined to avoid a hard border between northern Ireland and Ireland. We accept that's an enormous gain of the Good Friday Agreement. It is hard to introduce trading arrangements that protect the integrity of the EU single market and protect the integrity of the United Kingdom single market when you haven't got a border.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

KAREN PIERCE: But we don't want to introduce a border. The legislation going through parliament is not about a border, it's about contingency measures that the government could take if it needed to if we cannot reach a negotiated settlement with the EU to make the passage of goods between northern Ireland and Ireland smoother than it is now.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

KAREN PIERCE: There's lots of disruption to communities. They can't get the goods and medicine in northern Ireland that they need. The government needs to sort this out.

MARGARET BRENNAN: There are a lot of challenges the prime minister faces, including economic ones. in large part because of Russia's war on Ukraine. Do you see political risk to the alliance in the months ahead?

KAREN PIERCE: No, I think the alliance -- the NATO alliance has shown that it is stronger than ever. There has been a remarkably united response to President Putin's invasion. The same is true as the transatlantic relationship between Europe as a whole and the United States more broadly. Leaders will be able to get together in the forthcoming U.N. general assembly, where I think you'll see more outpourings of support for Ukraine.

There's no doubt there is a cost of living crisis. That's not unique to Britain. We have introduced measures around energy bills and energy prices to try and help ordinary households. And the chance of the exchequer, our treasury secretary was here recently talking to Secretary Yellen. We're looking together at how we can share best practice in what to do to help households.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we will continue to follow closely in the coming days and weeks.

Thank you so much, Ambassador.

KAREN PIERCE: Thank you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We will be right back.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: A stunning retreat by Russia overnight as Ukrainian forces claw back parts of the south and east of their country. And as the war enters its 200th day, there is another significant development. This morning, engineers at Europe's largest nuclear power plant are shutting down the last operational reactor in an attempt to lessen the chance of catastrophe.

CBS News foreign correspondent Debora Patta reports from Kyiv.

(BEGIN VT)

DEBORA PATTA (voice over): It's happening with lightning speed. Advancing Ukrainian troops in the northeast Kharkiv region are taking back lost territory. Despite casualties along the way, the gains have been rapid and dramatic.

And it's taken everyone by surprise. Ukraine kept the operation a tightly guarded secret. For now, journalists have been banned from reporting from the front line.

But across the region, the blue and yellow flag has been raised in towns and villages occupied for more than half a year. Victory in Kubiansk (sp?), a crucial logistics hub for Russia as Ukraine rips down all traces of the invading forces.

In liberated Balakia (sp?), jubilation and tears. And the words these residents have waited so long to hear, everything's going to be OK says this soldier. For six months we prayed you would save us, sobs this woman.

It's a humiliating defeat for Vladimir Putin's men who have been forced to beat a hasty retreat. And it comes the attempt to save face from Moscow, who says it's withdrawing to reinforce troops in Donetsk.

Ukraine has been emboldened by the steady supply of western military aid, but it needs more to keep the momentum going, says the mayor of the now occupied Melitopol Ivan Fedrov.

IVAN FEDROV (Mayor of Melitopol): But it depends on how quickly our partners will give us weapons, how quickly our partners will give us heavy equipment military.

DEBORA PATTA: Right now, Russia still holds around a fifth of this country.

(END VT)

DEBORA PATTA: Nobody expects this to be over quickly, but Ukrainians are daring to hope today that the war could be starting to swing their way. These are the most significant battlefield successes since they crushed Russia's attempt to seize Kyiv at the start of this nearly seven-month long war.

Margaret.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Debora Patta in Kyiv, thank you.

And we are joined now, once again, by Ukraine's ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova.

Madam Ambassador, good morning to you.

An incredible past few days for your country.

I wonder, as you have this progress, if concern is growing that Russia will resort to more brutality to respond to the success Ukraine has had.

OKSANA MARKAROVA (Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S.): Well, our 200 days fall on the September 11th. And we know this pain and we feel this pain in Ukraine. We know how is it when terrorists attack you at home. So, we always have to keep in mind that Russia still can do a lot of damage. But we don't have any other choice. We will advance. As we said before, we will not surrender. And we will liberate all Ukraine because this is what we have to do, not only to restore our territory integrity, but to save all of our people who are under occupation.

And we see from the footage, from more than 1,200 square miles, which have been liberated during the past, literally, eight days, the most fast counter offense since the World War II. We see how they are meeting and greeting our armed forces. And we also, unfortunately, see already the signs of the brutal war crimes that have been committed there. No different from what we saw after we liberated the Kyiv (INAUDIBLE).

So, we have to win. And this counteroffensive shows that we can win. And we are repeating the success that we had in the Kyiv (INAUDIBLE).

MARGARET BRENNAN: Retired General Ben Hodges (sp?) told our David Martin that Ukraine's military could push Russia back to the borders that existed pre-February 24th, when the invasion happened. And that could happen before the end of the year.

Do you agree with that timeline?

OKSANA MARKAROVA: Again, this operation was possible because of the resolve of the armed forces, because our commanders from the president, to every commander in the battlefield, so devoted to the victory. But also because 14 million of Ukrainians are supporting this effort and fighting for our country.

But, more importantly, because our partners have increased all the support and we are getting more and more of the weapons and equipment that is so needed for that. So of course we would like to liberate all Ukraine as soon as possible to stop the suffering of the people and to restore our sovereignty.

But whether it will be possible before the end of the year, we -- we are ready to do it before the end of the year. And hopefully we will have everything we need to do so.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The Biden administration made some announcements of further support. $2.2 billion in long term military financing for Ukraine and its neighbors. This was just in the past week. $675 million package of heavy weapons.

Your foreign minister tweeted this morning that now it's about schedule, schedule and schedule. So, you're getting these pledges. Is there a complaint it's not arriving fast enough?

OKSANA MARKAROVA: We don't have any complaints. If you look at August and September, we see that the announcements are very regular and we're getting a lot of announcements on a weekly basis. We also see, and it's is very important, and it has been a highlight of this Secretary Blinken's visit to Kyiv, that we're not only talking about what is necessary right now, for us to win today, but we are increasingly discussing the long-term support. And everything that we need in order to build what we call the endurance trans (sp?).

So, the USA aid (sp?) package that was announced, (INAUDIBLE) that was announced in -- on the independence day, and this $2.2 billion, out of which about $1 billion will go to Ukraine in foreign financing is not only what we need now but also what we will need in the coming months and years in order to be able to defend ourselves.

MARGARET BRENNAN: How much longer does this war last?

OKSANA MARKAROVA: It will last until we win. And we definitely would like it to be shorter because the Russians are not only attacking us, they're attacking Europe, the energy crisis, the food crisis, everything they're trying to create in order to not only attack Ukraine but every democracy that is together with us fighting for the democracy now. So, the faster we do it, the faster we will return to rebuilding and renovating our country, but also to some kind of normal life in Europe and globally. Now --

MARGARET BRENNAN: How -- how should people understand what is happening now with the nuclear reactor in Ukraine?

OKSANA MARKAROVA: The situation is totally unacceptable from any type of international standpoint. The Russian armed forces, that shouldn't be in Ukraine in the first place, and definitely shouldn't be at the nuclear plant, which is the largest nuclear plant in Europe, are putting in danger the lives not only of Ukrainians but also the whole region by being there and doing the things that --

MARGARET BRENNAN: But shutting down the reactor, does that avert catastrophe?

OKSANA MARKAROVA: Well, this is - this is -- we're trying everything possible. And Ukrainians who are there at the station, despite of the fact that they are there under the gun all the time, trying to do everything possible to minimize the risks.

So, we are forced to do it, we are forced to shut it down. It's not a complete resolution. The complete resolution is for Russians to get out, to implement the recommendations of the UAIA (sp?) and to demilitarize the plant, which means that Russians should leave. That will bring the safety.

But, in the meantime, again, the Ukrainian personnel there is doing everything possible in order to avert any type of catastrophes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The last time you were here in April you told us that there were roughly 91,000 Ukrainian children who had been taken from their families and brought into Russia. Has there been any progress in bringing them home? You asked for the U.S. to help with this.

OKSANA MARKAROVA: We are asking everyone. And, unfortunately, with this -- fortunately with the counteroffensive, but we see already that during the counteroffensives, Russians are trying to move more kids from the territories, which we liberate prior to the liberations to Russia. So this issue of identifying and finding every children that Russian stolen from us and return them back safely is still one of the top priorities. And hopefully, after we win, we will be able to get them all back.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Very quickly, should we expect your president to come to the United Nations in the coming days in person? Can he leave?

OKSANA MARKAROVA: Well, it all depends on the situation on the ground. So, we cannot say anything right now, but hopefully we will be able to have more good news from Ukraine and more territories to return home.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That would be significant. Thank you, Madame Ambassador.

OKSANA MARKAROVA: Thank you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We'll be right back in a moment.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to the continued efforts to restore clean water to the roughly 150,000 residents of Jackson, Mississippi. The city's mayor, Chokwe Lumumba, joins us now live from Jackson.

And, Mr. Mayor, we welcome you to the program.

You don't get more basic governance than running water. When can your residents turn on the faucet and not have to worry?

CHOKWE LUMUMBA (Mayor of Jackson, Mississippi): Well, first and foremost, Margaret, thank you for having me and thank you for lifting this circumstance up.

Fortunately, we have some level of good news to report, that all residents have had water pressure restored to them. They have yet to have the boil water notice lifted, and so there are still concerns around the consumption of that water.

Right now, as many repairs and adjustments are taking place in the triage period of where we are at the water treatment facility. There's also investigatory sampling taking place. And so we believe that it's a matter of days, not weeks, before that boil water notice can be lifted.

But I would note this, that we have been here before, where we've been ail to restore pressure. We've been able to lift boil water notices. But without the significant capital improvements to take place, it still is a matter of if, not when, these things will happen again.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to talk to you about that.

CHOKWE LUMUMBA: When, not if. I apologize.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to talk to you about that capital in a moment. But we also have learned that there is now a federal probe of the drinking water crisis. The spokesperson for the EPA's inspector general told our Avery Miller (sp?) that the investigators are already on the ground in your city to speak to local officials. Do you know the scope of this? Are your actions, as mayor, being investigated?

CHOKWE LUMUMBA: Well, first and foremost, I think that any time you have an event of this severity take place, then you should expect more questions and more investigation. And I think we should be open to that.

No, no one has talked to me. I do not know the scope nor the timeline in which they're investigating. But I can share that to the extent that they will be speaking to city employees, I will direct them to cooperate with any investigation. We look forward to more information so that we can get beyond this.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, there was a similar investigation in Flint, Michigan, as you know, years ago. It ultimately led to nine indictments. Do you expect similar action in your city?

CHOKWE LUMUMBA: Well, I can't speak to the analogous nature of the Flint, Michigan, circumstance in Jackson. I can share with you that I am unaware of any criminal activity on behalf of individuals here in the city of Jackson. However, what we do is -- what we do want is a greater understanding of where failures have been taking place. We know that our administration and, in fact, administrations past have been pushing for corrective action to take place for a long time.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.

You mentioned the need for capital. In March 2021, federal government sent $42 million directly to the city as part of the American Rescue Plan. In August 2021, President Biden said this when he signed off on the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

(Begin VT)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Never again can we allow what happened in Flint, Michigan, in Jackson, Mississippi, can never let it happen again.

(End VT)

MARGARET BRENNAN: It's happening again. In fact, it's getting worse. Where's the money? Why isn't it --

CHOKWE LUMUMBA: Well --

MARGARET BRENNAN: Go ahead.

CHOKWE LUMUMBA: Well, first and foremost, I've had very extensive discussions with the president and the vice president concerning the federal government's desire to help. And we look forward to that.

We have committed the grand majority of our ARPA funds towards our infrastructure. Not only at the water treatment facility, but distribution lines. We've spent $8 million on one pipe alone in south Jackson, which is disproportionately affected. It is also critical for people to know that the city of Jackson didn't get $42 million at one time. Merely a little over a month ago we got our second tranche of the funds. We have made a commitment to spend all of that -- the remaining dollars. There was some choice to spend some towards public safety issues. And so we are committing the lion's share, the overwhelming majority of our funds towards this challenge.

However, it is insufficient to meet the great need of 30 years of deferred maintenance and accumulated challenges. And so it will take a coordinated effort on not only the local/state but federal levels as well.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And what does that mean? Federal taxpayer dollars have been allocated here. Why can't the White House get that to you faster?

CHOKWE LUMUMBA: Well, I believe that there is a full intent to do so. I think that there is a process by which you identify the different pockets in which the money lies and creativity needing to take place. I can share you with that there has been a full cooperation and communication at the highest levels. Whether it's the administrator of the EPA, Michael Regan, who speaks to me consistently about their effort and desire to help, whether we're talking about the czar of the infrastructure bill himself, Mitch Landrieu, we've all been in communication. And about the timeline in which certain portals open, I think a major portal that is necessary to fund Jackson opens in October.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you believe that, as you've said in the past, state lawmakers have been racist in their treatment of your city?

CHOKWE LUMUMBA: Yes. Well, I'll say this, I'm not backing down from any, you know, characterizations that I've made. I think that they - they were made in honesty. However, I think that this is a time to focus on the solutions for our residents. When people go long -- prolonged periods of time without water pressure and even longer periods of time without an ability to consume it, they really aren't trying to be bogged down in the political disputes that ensue.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Understood.

CHOKWE LUMUMBA: They just want solutions. And that's - that's where we're focused.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Understood. And we will continue to track what is happening in Jackson.

Good luck to you, Mr. Mayor.

We'll be right back.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: That's it for today. Thank you for watching. I'm Margaret Brennan.

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