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President Biden Expressed Concern At Fundraiser That Putin Can't Find A Way Out Of The Ukraine War; WH Projects 100 Million COVID Cases This Fall And Winter If Congress Doesn't Approve New Funding To Battle Virus; McConnell: Federal Ban On Abortion Is "Possible". Aired 9-10p ET
Aired May 09, 2022 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Multiple breaking news stories, to tell you about, this hour.
The fugitive inmate, and corrections officer, from Alabama, were captured, a few hours ago, after a dramatic car crash, in Indiana.
One of the fugitives, Vicky White, the corrections officer, was in the hospital, tonight, after what authorities say, look like a self- inflicted gunshot wound. We've just learned that she has died. We'll bring you any updates on that shortly.
Also tonight, a Victory Day that wasn't for Vladimir Putin. No calls for more troops, no signature victory, only has stalled war, to show his people on a day that's meant to commemorate one of the biggest victories, in Russian history, the Soviet victory over the Nazis.
Civilians in Ukraine, still paying the price. This video, out of the southwest of Ukraine, in Odessa, a day of missile strikes has leveled large areas, of the city, including some parts, believed to be, residential.
Fighting, also intense, in the east of Ukraine, tonight. And that's where we begin our coverage. Joining us now, from Kramatorsk, is Sam Kiley.
So Sam, a lot of heavy fighting, concentrated, in the eastern region of Ukraine. What's the latest?
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, this is the strategic prize, for the Russian campaign, which Putin reiterated, in terms of his references, there, in Moscow, to the Donbas, and his desire to capture the Donbas that is a large chunk of eastern Ukraine, including city of Kramatorsk, where I'm standing, right now.
A day and a half, or two days ago, on the eve of, effectively, the Victory Day parade, those 60 civilians were killed, in an airstrike, on a village, not very far from here, well about an hour's drive away, as part of the ongoing campaign, being conducted by the Russians, to try to push, in that area, south, towards the city, here.
And also, they're pushing in, from the east, trying to close up the areas of territory that they've got, so that they can have a contiguous extra bit of land that may be ultimately what Putin would have to be satisfied with, were he to be victorious.
But that, of course, remains in very serious doubt, at the moment, because the Russians are not making any very significant gains, here, on this front. And around Kharkiv, indeed they're losing territory, Anderson.
COOPER: You say, Ukrainian officials are also concerned about a bridge that's been erected, by the Russians, in the Luhansk region.
KILEY: Yes, well, this bridge was part of - the bridge or bridges, it's unclear from the satellite imagery, whether there's several, or one.
But a bridgehead was established, by the Russians, across the Donets River, during the thrust, when they killed these 60 civilians, who were trapped in a school, in the bunkers, underneath a school, from a village, in that location.
The Ukrainians, though, have been counter-attacking, and reported, at least they're claiming that they've destroyed one of these so-called pontoon bridge, or Bailey bridges, temporary military bridges being used. And the reason the Russians are using those bridges, I think, it's twofold.
First of all, they're trying to sweep around, and cut off, the main supply route, to Sievierodonetsk (ph), which is on the other side of the river, the major town, still in Ukrainian government hands, notwithstanding the fact that there's been a very, very bloody exchange of artillery, throughout that area, and particularly over that town.
And also, they want to be able to push on, of course, down to this location, here, in Kramatorsk, Anderson.
COOPER: Sam Kiley, appreciate it. Thanks. Be careful.
More now, on the White House view of the war in Ukraine. We're joined by our Chief White House Correspondent, Kaitlan Collins.
I understand, President Biden spoke at a fundraiser, tonight, and addressed Russian President, Vladimir Putin. What did he say?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson. This was a closed-door fundraiser. But reporters were in the room, listening to the President's remarks.
And he talked about the state of play with Russia. Of course, you saw President Putin give that speech today that Sam was just talking about. But President Biden says, he has another concern, which is that yes, President Putin is this calculating figure that, of course, U.S. officials have speculated, on his intent, on his motives, here, since this invasion began.
But despite that, President Biden said he is concerned about how President Putin plans to get out of this war, what his endgame here, is going to be. And I talked to some White House officials, since President Biden made that remark, about what exactly his concern is.
And Anderson, basically, how they laid it out is that, of course, at the beginning of this invasion, President Putin had this goal, and thought quickly, he was going to be able to overtake the capital of Kyiv, destabilize President Zelenskyy's government, and basically have a pretty easy takeover, and invasion of Ukraine.
Obviously, that has not happened. We have since, in the several weeks, since this invasion, first started, seen him shift his focus, to eastern and southern Ukraine. But he is still having trouble, in those areas, achieving his objectives.
And so, it's kind of created this discussion, inside the White House, where they say, "What is his endgame here, going to be? If he is not achieving something, he doesn't have something to basically hang his hat on, at the end of the day, what is this going to look like?"
Because, so far, he has been undeterred. He has continued on, with this war of attrition, essentially. And so that has been a big discussion that they've had, is what does the end of this look like?
And it's something that you heard the CIA Director talk about, over the weekend, which is that he believes Putin's mindset is basically that he can't afford to lose the war, at this point.
COOPER: You also have reporting that what President Biden said to his top National Security officials, about U.S. Intelligence sharing, with Ukraine, about information about it leaking.
COLLINS: Yes, so this was something that came to a head, really, last week, after "The New York Times" had first reported that U.S. Intelligence that was being provided, to Ukrainians, was helping kill Russian generals. Then, of course, there were other reports about U.S. Intelligence helping sink that Russian flagship.
And so, something that I had heard from officials that President Biden was very upset about that, and displeased, with those leaks, about the Intelligence.
Because A, officials argued, we're not telling them exactly where the Russian generals are, so they can go and kill them, with the intent of having them kill the Russian generals. But if the Ukrainians are doing that, and putting two together, that's something that they can't really help.
And President Biden's view of it was that they were basically overstating what role U.S. Intelligence was playing in that, and understating what Ukrainian Intelligence was playing in that. And so, he set up a call. He felt like this needed his direct involvement, Anderson.
And so, on Friday, he spoke with Defense Secretary Austin, CIA Director Burns, and the Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines, saying that the leaks needed to stop, because they weren't strategic. He didn't believe they were being handled correctly. And he was worried essentially, that it was counterproductive, to what the United States is trying to do, in Ukraine.
COOPER: Kaitlan Collins, appreciate it. Thanks.
I'm joined now by retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, CNN Military Analyst.
General Hertling, I'm wondering what your reaction is to President Biden's comments, about being concerned that Vladimir Putin can't find a way, out of Ukraine, or figuring out what his end game is going to be?
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), FORMER ARMY COMMANDING GENERAL, EUROPE AND SEVENTH ARMY, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, Anderson, if we go back to the very beginning, Putin had about six strategic objectives, strategic goals, in Ukraine. He has failed in achieving every single one of them.
Executing regime change, controlling the Black Sea, destroying Ukraine's army, in the east, subjugate the population, increase economic influence in Europe, and further divide NATO and U.S. All of those things Mr. Putin has not been able to achieve, from a strategic standpoint.
So, what is happening now, in this so-called phase two, is he's looking for a smaller prize. And even in looking for that smaller prize, as Sam Kiley just noted, he's having difficulties, with the tactical battlefield, achieving any of those tactical and operational objectives, which might lead to one strategic objective, of taking a bite of the Donbas.
So, it's not going well, for Mr. Putin. So how does he get out of this, when he hasn't achieved any strategic objectives? That's a great question. And, I think, that's what the President's concerned about.
COOPER: A senior U.S. defense official says that more than 85 to 90 Howitzers pledged to Ukraine have been delivered, and more than 310 Ukrainian soldiers have completed training, on them.
We talked to the former Ambassador, Taylor, I think, it was last week, who said that a source of his, in the Ukrainian Military, says a number of those, have arrived, on the battlefield, and are being used, particularly, to great effect, very long range. I don't know if it's the full complement of those that have been delivered in country, already there.
What sort of counter-offensives by the Ukrainians would indicate to you that the artillery is working that it's being used effectively?
HERTLING: Well, if you go back to when the announcement was first made, Anderson, of giving these artillery pieces? And remember, it's not just the 90 pieces, the U.S. promises. There's also other NATO nations that are also contributing these same types of artillery pieces.
But remember, when it first started, and John Kirby said, we are starting a program of training the trainers? Each one of these artillery pieces needs about seven crew members, just to fire the artillery.
You also have to have the targeting centers, and the forward observers, the people, who find the targets, on the battlefield, and pass it to the targeting centers, who then pass it to the guns, set the coordinates, and fire the rockets, or the, I'm sorry, the rounds.
So, you have a whole lot more, training to do, of these crews, as well as the forward observers, as well as the individuals, who run the computers, to get the input, into the guns. And if you take seven crew members per gun, 90 guns, anyone can do the math, and that's just the U.S. complement. That an amount of people have not yet gone through the training.
So, you're seeing some of these weapons, introduced to the battlefield. But, as we've talked so many times, about this, just because the weapons have been delivered, there, in Ukraine, doesn't mean you're going to have the instantaneous effect, on the battlefield.
But going back to the target that you were just talking about, the pontoon bridge, if you shoot an artillery - a precision artillery round, on that bridge, it's going to destroy it, and it will eliminate that capability. But you've got to get the artillery rounds, in place, first.
COOPER: Retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, always appreciate it. Thank you.
HERTLING: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: Still to come, more on Victory Day, in Russia, we'll have a live report, from Moscow, about Putin's message, and the impact it could have on his people, and the war.
And later, protests over that draft Supreme Court opinion that could overturn Roe v. Wade, heating up, as the top Republican, in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, suggests the possibility, of a national ban on abortion. Details ahead.
COOPER: Want to talk more about Vladimir Putin, his celebration of Russia's Victory Day, from someone, who was actually there. And that's our own Matthew Chance.
We should note, CNN is covering this, from the Russian capital, even as the Kremlin has introduced strict laws, to control how the conflict, in Ukraine, is described, and has prohibited the broadcast of information in regards as false.
I'm joined now, live, from Moscow, by CNN's Matthew Chance.
So, what was it like today, Matthew?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Anderson. Yes, well, it was pretty unusual. Because we were right there, in the middle of this incredibly patriotic celebration, of the Russian Military.
It's big contrast, from the scenes that I personally witnessed, and that you've seen as well, sort of on the battlefields, in Ukraine, where Russian forces have been kind of fighting, and coming into real horrific contact, with the Ukrainian forces, on the other side.
To see them celebrated in this way, and the crowds of people sort of patriotically, sort of chanting pro-Russia slogans, in Red Square, as thousands of troops marched, over the cobbles, followed by armored columns, of tanks, of missile launches, of intercontinental ballistic missiles. Yes, it was a very unusual experience.
And, of course, Vladimir Putin made a speech as well. There was a lot of anticipation, about how he was going to make some kind of major pronouncement, about the campaign in Ukraine, which he calls Russia's special military operation? Would he formally announce a declaration of war, would he announce some mobilization of forces, to bolster troops, on the ground, in Ukraine?
He didn't do either of those things. So, it was slightly unexpected, slightly more muted, I'd say, than we anticipated, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. I mean, the language, we heard, from Vladimir Putin, was very specific.
CHANCE: It was. I mean, he talks about - very defensive. He talks about how Russia was facing an imminent threat, of attack, from Ukraine, in an attempt to justify Russia's military action, there, saying that he had to act defensively and preemptively, to secure Russia.
I mean, these are claims that we've heard before. They've been pushed back on hard, by the United States, by Ukraine, by its allies. But nevertheless, Vladimir Putin spent some time sort of making them and remaking them during his speech.
It was also - because Victory Day is meant to be a commemoration of the Soviet defeat, of Nazi Germany, in the 1940s. And so, there was some of that. But he also went to great lengths, to try and draw a connection, between the battles that the Soviet Union fought, against Nazi Germany, in 1945, and before then, and the battles that are taking place, now. So, he was trying to sort of draw a line between the two things. It's something that is, of course, not accepted, in the U.S., in Ukraine, or in most other parts of the world.
COOPER: Yes. How many people, in Russia, would have listened to the speech, today, or seen it?
CHANCE: I mean, it's an enormous amount of people. And there's more than 140 million people, in Russia, they have access. I mean, this was blanket coverage, on Russian television. So, anybody, who switched on a television, would have seen this.
A lot of people would have switched on their television sets as well. Because the Victory Day commemorations, in Russia, are incredibly important. It's perhaps the country's biggest sort of national holiday. And it really does engender a huge sense of national pride.
It's not meant to be about the situation, today, where whatever Russia is doing. It's meant to be a commemoration of past glories. And this huge sacrifice that Russia and the Soviet Union made, in fighting the Nazis that a lot of people would have watched.
COOPER: Yes. Matthew Chance, appreciate it. Thank you.
Perspective now, from "Washington Post" reporter, Catherine Belton, who's written extensively, about Russia, and those closest to Vladimir Putin. She's also Author of "Putin's People: How the KGB Took Back Russia and Then Took On the West."
Catherine, first of all, I want to get your take, on the Victory Day celebrations, earlier today, the spectacle of it all, Vladimir Putin's messaging there.
CATHERINE BELTON, RUSSIA REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST, AUTHOR, "PUTIN'S PEOPLE": Yes, it seemed that really, Putin was digging in. Everyone was expecting him to launch an escalation or perhaps even mobilize the population, for an all-out war.
But, I think, he realizes that really raises the political risks, for him, that then he won't be able to justify the amount of body bags that are coming back, particularly, if there are conscripts, waiting in Ukraine.
COOPER: Much of the effort on sanctions, or some part of it, has been focused on punishing oligarchs, the idea, I guess that they might have some sort of influence, or sway, on Vladimir Putin.
Is that realistic? I mean, how much do the people, around Putin, who have made huge fortunes, how much do they influence Putin? Or how much is - are they simply at the - have to do the bidding of Putin?
BELTON: Yes, unfortunately, they influence him less and less, as time has gone on. I mean, indeed, he basically cowed them all into submission, very early on, in his presidency, when he jailed, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the owner of Russia's once-biggest oil-major Yukos, and took over his oil company, for himself.
All the rest of the oligarchs feared that they could face the same fate. Indeed, one Yeltsin-era tycoon told me that he said, "If I get a call from the Kremlin's, say, spend $1 billion or $2 billion, on this, or that strategic project," he says, "I can't refuse. I have to comply."
COOPER: It's very appealing, the notion of seizing these people's enormous yachts, if they've been bought from ill-gotten gains. Does that actually have an impact? I mean, first of all, it's not clear, the U.S. is going to be able to actually, keep those yachts, sell them off. They may just end up holding on to them.
BELTON: It certainly - the sanctions has really raised the temperature. I mean, Putin has been able to kind of preside over Russia, for as long as he has done, because he's presided over stability, and over a system, in which the oligarchs, they aren't exactly victims. They may have to follow Kremlin orders, and share part of their wealth.
But they've been part of a system, in which they could keep their fortunes, increase their fortunes, and become vastly wealthy, under Putin, as well.
And now, that system has been completely changed, overnight, the minute Putin launched his war. It was as if he'd pulled the rug out, from under their feet. They're all shocked, and horrified, by the sanctions, about sort of losing this life of luxury and privilege that they once had.
COOPER: In terms of Vladimir Putin himself, is it clear how much he's actually worth? And is it contingent on anything? I mean, if the Russian economy is not doing well, does it impact his own personal wealth? Or is it - are his holdings far more complicated than that?
BELTON: Well, I mean, everyone has always talked about sort of Putin's vast personal wealth. And yes, probably he does have pockets of cash that he keeps, through his own proxies, those closest to him.
But essentially, as one close ally of his put it to me, he said that Putin can access the cash of the entire country. His power is such that he can force any businessman, any billionaire, to share part of their wealth with him. So, essentially, he owns the entire country's economy.
COOPER: And one of the things you highlighted in your book is how much Russian oligarch wealth is tied up in the economies of Western countries, the United Kingdom, obviously, but also places like New York.
I mean, for Western politicians, who say they want to go after oligarchs' wealth, how difficult is it to completely extricate them, from the economies of the U.S. and other Western countries?
BELTON: Well, they've spent sort of two decades, three decades, now kind of gaining a foothold, in the U.S. and in the U.K.
Of course, most of them have been busy, moving money, trying to evade sanctions. In fact, I was told by one Russian businessman just today that the U.S., in particular, is still a good place, for them, to hold their cash, because I guess they have been facing much tougher measures in Europe and the U.K.
COOPER: Wow! Interesting! Catherine Belton, fascinating, thank you so much.
BELTON: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
COOPER: Ahead, more on our breaking news, the manhunt ending, for an escaped Alabama inmate, and his suspected accomplice, former corrections officer, who has just reportedly died.
COOPER: More now, on our breaking news, on the capture of the Alabama inmate, and a corrections officer, who were caught, after a chase, in Indiana.
As we mentioned, moments ago, an Indiana sheriff says the corrections officer Vicky White has died, due to her injuries, from a self- inflicted gunshot wound. This, after U.S. Marshal Matt Keeley told us, last hour that when officers got inmate Casey White, out of the vehicle, he reportedly told them, to help his wife, who had just shot herself, in the head.
CNN National Correspondent, Nadia Romero, joins us now, from Florence, Alabama.
What more are you learning, Nadia?
NADIA ROMERO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, this is not the outcome, Anderson, anyone here, who knew Vicky White, wanted to happen. We were told that she was well-liked, well-respected. And many people were just shocked to learn that she was a part of any of this.
The sheriff was close with her. She was the number two, at the corrections facility.
And then, we know that her mother had spoken, to local media, saying that she didn't expect her daughter to do this.
And everyone, we spoke to, even victims of Casey White, all of them agreed that they wanted both of them to be captured, returned back here, to Alabama, safely, with no one injured, not Casey, not Vicky, and not a member of the public.
And unfortunately, that's what we have. Vicky White, dead tonight, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. And we are, of course, we'll be waiting for the autopsy reports, to learn more about her death.
But the sheriff's told us that he had to contact her mother, to let her know that they had captured her. And now, the Sheriff's Office has to reach back out to her mother, to give her this unfortunate news.
COOPER: Well, I certainly hope they've done that already.
Nadia Romero, appreciate it. Thank you.
To a new grim warning, from the White House. It says if Congress doesn't improve more money to fight COVID, it projects 100 million Americans could get COVID, this fall and winter.
Again, it's a projection that the White House says is based on outside models, and says the data is based on the assumption, there'll be no new mitigation measures, including the congressional funding, and new dramatic variants.
The Biden administration is asking Congress for at least $10 billion to fund testing, treatment, and help prevent future outbreaks. That's down from its original request for more than $22 billion.
Joining us now, Dr. Leana Wen, CNN Medical Analyst, and Author of "Lifelines: A Doctor's Journey in the Fight for Public Health."
Dr. Wen, first, just I want to get your take on this estimate, of possibly 100 million new infections, this fall, in winter. Do you think the infection rate could go that high? Or do you think the White House is predicting a worst-case scenario to push Congress to approve additional funding?
DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST, FORMER BALTIMORE HEALTH COMMISSIONER, PUBLIC HEALTH PROFESSOR, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: I think a 100 million new infections is definitely possible.
When we look at what happened, this past winter, during the Omicron surge alone, there were about half of Americans, who got infected, with Omicron, in December and January. That's 165 million Americans.
And so, the difference though, between last year, and previous years, and this coming year, is that we have so many more tools. We have testing. We have vaccines. We have boosters. We have treatments.
And it would be so tragic, if we have these scientific advances, but Congress is not giving us the funding, that can actually reduce harm, that can reduce the chance of individuals getting severely ill, and also reduce the strain on hospitals.
If it's anything that we've learned in this Pandemic, it's that it's so much better, to invest, upfront, in prevention. That's what saves lives. COOPER: So, this is probably a stupid question. But given, there's all those things that you just talked about, testing, and boosters, and vaccine, and Paxlovid, and all sorts of things, why is there the anticipation of 100 million people, getting COVID?
WEN: I think it's likely that we'll have a lot of people, getting infected, because what these tools end up doing, ultimately, is to stop the infections, from becoming severe illness. It's to reduce the hospitalizations, and ultimately reduce deaths. That's what we care the most about.
I actually think that we need to recalibrate our expectation. We shouldn't be trying to stop all infection. I think, we've seen in China, for example, that zero-COVID is just not going to work.
But we have to stop infections, from turning into something that is harmful, for the individual, and also causes strain, on our hospitals. That's the reason why we need to vaccinate, as the first line of defense. But then also, we have treatments that further reduce those risks.
And now, it's just up to Congress, to provide the funding, so that we, as clinicians, can actually provide these tools, to our patients.
COOPER: I'm confused now, having had both vaccine, two vaccine shots, been boosted, and had COVID, I'm confused about what do you do now? I mean, how often are you supposed - do you get that - when do you get vaccinated next?
WEN: Well, I don't think we quite know the answer, to this. Right now, we know that people need to get at least one additional booster dose, for a total of three doses.
Now, there are certain individuals, people who are immunocompromised, people over the age of 50, who are recommended to get a second booster dose, for a total of four doses.
I think it's quite likely that before this fall, all Americans, all adult Americans, at least, are going to be recommended, to get that second booster dose. And it might end up becoming an annual shot, from this point forward, similar to what we do for Influenza.
I also think it's very likely that COVID is here to stay, and that we're going to see these surges, these ups and downs, when it comes to number of infections. I think that's our new normal.
And that's the reason why we need to have all these other tools, these vaccines, and treatments, but also testing. Because we can't really expect Americans, to put their lives on hold, and not go to indoor dining, or travel, or gather.
But, I think, we should expect for Americans to also protect the vulnerable. And so, before they go see their elderly relative, in a nursing home, to take a test, or event organizers should also require rapid - same-day rapid testing, in order to make those events safer, for everyone. I think that's the path forward, for everyone, going forward.
COOPER: Dr. Leana Wen, appreciate it. Thank you.
Coming up, the Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, adding even more fuel to the fire, over abortion rights. His warning on what else could follow up, if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, and some pushback from his party, next.
COOPER: There have been demonstrations, nationwide, for a week, after the leak of a looming Supreme Court decision that could overturn Roe v. Wade.
After protests, moved, this weekend, to homes of some conservative justices, the Senate today, passed a bill, to expand security protection, for the immediate family members, of justices, by unanimous consent. It'll now be sent to the House, for a vote.
Adding to the storm, are Mitch McConnell's recent comments that a national ban on abortion, could also be coming, if his party wins back control.
Senate Minority Leader, told "USA Today," "If the leaked opinion became the final opinion, legislative bodies - not only at the state level but at the federal level - certainly could legislate in that area. So yes, it's possible. It depends where the votes were."
But today, several Republicans, seemed to pour cold water, on legislative action, like GOP Senator John Cornyn, on McConnell's leadership team, who says, "I don't think it's really an appropriate topic for Congress to be passing a national law."
Joining me now, CNN's Senior Political Analyst, and "USA Today" Columnist, Kirsten Powers. And CNN Political Commentator, Scott Jennings, a longtime political adviser, to Senator McConnell.
Kirsten, we spoke, last week. I asked how far you thought some States may go with restricting access to abortions, if Roe was overturned. I'm wondering what your reaction is to what Senator McConnell said?
KIRSTEN POWERS, USA TODAY COLUMNIST, FORMER CLINTON ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, as soon as the opinion was leaked, there were immediately reports of people having conversations, with senators, about doing exactly this. So, I think that that is sort of the expectation, is that this would be something that the Republicans would be interested in doing, if they have the votes.
And so, of course, they would have to be in control of both houses, they would have to also have the White House, so. And they would have to have a filibuster-proof majority, or they'd have to get rid of the filibuster. That's the way that it could go.
So, I think that - I think the fact that Mitch McConnell is saying this suggests that this is a pretty mainstream opinion, within the Republican Party. Maybe - I mean, I was kind of surprised that he said it, frankly, because I don't think it helps them very much, with the midterms.
But that is definitely where they seem to be, despite the fact that we've heard about States' rights, since the beginning of time, and that, how horrible it was, to have this taken away, from the States. And now, you have Mitch McConnell talking about having Congress, just override the will of States that don't want to have extreme limits, on abortion access.
COOPER: Scott, how do you interpret this?
SCOTT JENNINGS, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think Democrats are over-reading, what he said.
If you read the entire article, he was simply saying that the decision, if it stands, returns the issue of abortion, to our political venues. So, that would be state capitals, or Congress.
What Kirsten said is true. They would have to have a filibuster-proof majority, or a filibuster-proof number of votes, to do anything. And so, neither side has that.
We're going to find out, this week, when the Democrats put their abortion bill, on the floor, which is legislating the issue of abortion, in a political venue. They don't have 60 votes.
I don't think there'd be 60 votes for a national ban on abortion. And so, ultimately, I don't expect Congress, frankly, to do much of anything. Because the Senate, it's hard to get 60 votes, for hot, controversial topics, like this.
That's why, ultimately, I think, the action is really going to be in the state capitol, as you're already seeing States, talk about, what they plan to do, or what they've already got in place, in terms of trigger laws. But as it relates to the U.S. Senate, you got to have 60.
And McConnell made a speech, on the Senate floor, today, once again, for the millionth time, reiterating, he will not break up the legislative filibuster. There are Democrats, who want to do it. But he won't do it. And I'd take him at his word.
COOPER: So, but Scott, if, I mean, elections, the next election comes around, if the Senate changes significantly, is it something - there might be - I mean, wouldn't there be perhaps a groundswell, among conservatives, pro-life conservatives, who would want, at the very least, to have Congress vote on this?
JENNINGS: Oh, sure. Just like there's a groundswell of Democrats, who want to vote on what Chuck Schumer, is putting on the floor, this week, which from the conservative viewpoint--
JENNINGS: --is pretty extreme, on the left side of the abortion debate. So basically, you've got people in both parties that want to do something that's what many people would consider extreme. But there aren't 60 votes, for either of these things.
And so, ultimately, if anything were to happen, it would probably happen more between the 40 yard lines. But most likely, in my opinion, state capitols, is where you're going to see most of the action, on this issue. If the opinion stands, which, of course, there's no guarantee that it will.
COOPER: Kirsten, I mean, there was all this talk, I mean, to Scott's point, from Democrats, about getting rid of the Senate filibuster, to pass President Biden's economic agenda. There was talk about getting rid of the filibuster, to try to pass laws, on Roe v. Wade.
Wouldn't that have opened the door, for Republicans, to ban abortion, by a simple majority vote, if they win Congress, this fall?
POWERS: Yes, it would have. But I think that the argument that the Democrats would make is that they haven't been able to get anything done, for a very, very long time, because of how the Republicans, have made a decision, as far back as with President Obama, of basically being obstructionist, to anything that they want to do, so.
And not wanting - and not just on - not on a policy standpoint. But just trying to avoid wins, for Democratic presidents. And so, that's the thinking behind it. Of course, it would open up the door.
But, at the same time, I know Scott always says that Mitch McConnell would never ever, go back on one of his principles.
But, of course, we remember his very deeply-held principle, about the fact that you should not bring up a Supreme Court justice, in an election year, when Barack Obama was president.
And then, he was found on camera, telling people, in 2019, that if something opened up in 2020, of course, he would bring it up, which elicited a bunch of laughter, from Republicans.
And then, we know the rest of the story, which is that actually much closer to the election, they brought up Amy Coney Barrett. She's now on the Supreme Court.
So, the idea that Mitch McConnell won't change his mind, about this, because he just holds these deeply-held beliefs, I think, is hard for a lot of people, to really buy into.
The second thing, I would say, is he didn't say it would happen tomorrow. We don't know what's going to happen down the road. There could be a Republican president, and Republicans running both houses. So, if that happened, he said, we have to see where the votes are. He meant, where are the votes in Congress?
So, he's making it pretty clear that if the votes are there, this is something that they would do. Or, I mean, the only thing that made it possible, is the fact that there are no votes, right now, or not enough votes.
JENNINGS: Yes, look, on this filibuster business, I know, I'm like a broken record on this, every time we discuss it.
For four years, we had Donald Trump, as the President of the United States, beating on Mitch McConnell, every day, to end the legislative filibuster. If there were ever going to be a chance to end it, it would have been then. And they didn't break.
Just today, he went down to the Senate floor, and reiterated, "We will not break the legislative filibuster," so.
And his position, on bringing up Supreme Court justices, by the way, in election year, is a little more nuanced than Kirsten made it out to be. The reality is his position on this has never changed.
During the Biden years, all the Democrat - or I'm sorry, during the Trump years, all the Democrats, in the Senate, wanted to preserve the filibuster. Now that Biden's in, you got a lot of them that have changed their position.
The only constant has been McConnell, who says, "I don't want to do it, no matter who the president is." And I think he won't.
COOPER: Kirsten Powers, Scott Jennings, appreciate it. Thank you.
Coming up, more on the crisis, in Ukraine.
JENNINGS: Thank you.
COOPER: See how Ukrainian refugees are getting back on their feet, thanks to some hospitality, in Ireland.
CNN's Donie O'Sullivan, takes us, to his hometown, next.
COOPER: According to the United Nations, more than 5.8 million Ukrainian refugees, have fled the war-torn country. Most have left their bombed-out cities, and towns, for neighboring countries, like Poland and Romania.
Others have traveled, further, even to Ireland. CNN's Donie O'Sullivan, takes us there, to his hometown that's put out the welcome mat.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It may be thousands of miles away. But Cahersiveen, my hometown, is just one part of rural Ireland, being transformed, by the war, in Ukraine.
D. O'SULLIVAN (on camera): Hello?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Welcome back.
D. O'SULLIVAN (on camera): How are you? What's going on?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm good.
D. O'SULLIVAN (on camera): How are you? This is--
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you getting flashbacks?
D. O'SULLIVAN (on camera): A little bit. Because see, I was on a bicycle (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
TREASA NI CHROININ, SCHOOL PRINCIPAL: Six weeks ago, we were a school of an enrollment of 103 pupils, seven teachers. And we arrived back after St. Patrick's weekend, to a 50 percent increase, in our school population. Where today, six weeks later, we have an enrollment of 155 pupils, and 10 teachers.
D. O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): With a population of only 5 million people, Ireland has taken in more than 25,000 Ukrainians, fleeing the war. Hundreds have come to Cahersiveen. And everyone is involved in making them feel welcome.
HUGH HORGAN, SCHOOL JANITOR: I come in here, mostly, when the classes are finished. And there's a beautiful young girl, here. She's a classical pianist. And she comes in, and plays the piano, when the school is closed. So, she's playing (ph) for maybe an hour two, in the evenings. Fantastic!
D. O'SULLIVAN (on camera): Hello, Mr. O'Sullivan?
CORMAC O'SULLIVAN, TEACHER: How are you?
D. O'SULLIVAN (on camera): How are you?
C. O'SULLIVAN: Nice to see you.
D. O'SULLIVAN (on camera): Where's everybody here from? Where are you from?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm from, in Kyiv.
D. O'SULLIVAN (on camera): You're from Kyiv?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. D. O'SULLIVAN (on camera): And how long have you been in Cahersiveen?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two months, maybe.
D. O'SULLIVAN (on camera): Two months?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
C. O'SULLIVAN: Margarita (ph) is actually an exceptionally talented piano player.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
D. O'SULLIVAN (on camera): Are you the piano player?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
C. O'SULLIVAN: Yes.
D. O'SULLIVAN (on camera): Is that you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
D. O'SULLIVAN (on camera): Do you play in here?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
C. O'SULLIVAN: OK, boys and girls.
D. O'SULLIVAN (on camera): As well as using translation apps, Scoil Saidhbhin has hired teachers, to help the new students, learn English.
C. O'SULLIVAN: All their general knowledge is really good. It's just that their English is of a lower level. But they - they're like sponges. They learn really quickly. And they're all really - they're lovely children. They're always smiling.
D. O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): As for the Irish students?
SOPHIE WENG, STUDENT: I think it's a very nice experience, to have Ukrainian people, in our class, and that they can learn from us, and we can learn from them.
D. O'SULLIVAN (on camera): And you're happy to have so many new people in the school?
ALEX NASAR, STUDENT: Yes, it's different.
D. O'SULLIVAN (on camera): Yes.
NASAR: And it's a lot busier. People have new friends now. It's very nice. I like it.
D. O'SULLIVAN (on camera): Yes. NI CHROININ: It's just so lovely, despite language barrier, to see pupils engaging, learning, happy, and laughing, and adjusting. Our huge success, and just totally because of the whole community.
D. O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Across Ireland, Ukrainian refugees have been placed in hotels, and emergency accommodation, and granted the right to work. Despite stretched resources, many local communities, are happy to have them.
COLMAN QUIRKE, LOCAL NEWSAGENT: I had a lovely thing happened, in the shop. About four or five days ago, a Ukrainian family, they were buying stuff, in the shop. And they were just about to pay the bill, when the local guy, just stepped in, and he said, "No." And he hands me his card, and he says, "I'm getting that." And I mean, they were in tears.
D. O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Lilia, came here, with her two children, and has been overwhelmed, by the Irish welcome. But, of course, still yearns for home.
LILIA OREVCHUK, FLED UKRAINE: You know, every Irish people, ask us, "Are you happy?" And we are trying to be happy. Because - so we have everything that we need now, here. But we don't have previous life. So, it's kind of difficult, a little.
D. O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Back at Scoil Saidhbhin?
D. O'SULLIVAN (on camera): You come in here. Who's this?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is my daughter, Margarita (ph).
D. O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Margarita's (ph) mom came by to watch her daughter, perform for some of her new Irish and Ukrainian friends.
(STUDENT PLAYS PIANO)
COOPER: That's made me so happy! That's such a lovely piece!
D. O'SULLIVAN: Yes, they've really rolled out the red carpet--
COOPER: I can't believe that school has gone from 100 kids, Irish kids, to 150, a 50--
D. O'SULLIVAN: Yes. That's what really stoke me.
COOPER: --percent growth.
D. O'SULLIVAN: And the Irish government has provided the school, with extra resources, some English teachers there. But what we did also see, on our travels there, is obviously, you saw such a fantastic welcome, their hometown.
D. O'SULLIVAN: But this is not the case for all asylum-seekers in Ireland. Essentially, there's been a European Union wide directive, which has kind of fast-passed Ukrainian refugees, into European countries.
D. O'SULLIVAN: That as many asylum-seekers, who are in Ireland, from different countries, are still stuck in limbo, while campaigners, we spoke to, in Ireland, wanting to say now is that look, we've proven, Ireland has proven that it can treat asylum-seekers in this way.
D. O'SULLIVAN: They should do that for--
D. O'SULLIVAN: --people from elsewhere, as well.
COOPER: Well, it's lovely, what they've done there.
Donie O'Sullivan, appreciate it. Thank you.
D. O'SULLIVAN: Thanks, Anderson.
COOPER: We'll be right back.
COOPER: News continues. Let's turn things over to Don and "DON LEMON TONIGHT."