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Soon: Man Accused Of Attacking Dave Chappelle To Appear In Court; WH Disputes Report U.S. Intel Helping Ukraine Kill Russian Generals; Families Of Americans Detained Abroad Seek Meeting With Biden. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired May 05, 2022 - 11:30   ET




ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Developing at this hour. The man police say attack Dave Chappelle during a performance is said to appear soon in a Los Angeles courtroom. The 23-year-old suspect was arrested for felony assault with a deadly weapon after rushing to the stage where he tackled the comedian. CNN's Stephanie Elam is joining us now live from Los Angeles with more. Stephanie, Good morning.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Erica. Yes, the question today is everyone wants to know why would this person do this and how did they get up on that stage to do so? Obviously, when you look at that video, it's quite alarming to see that someone was able to get on the stage.

This 23-year-old Isaiah Lee, we are expecting him to be in court this hour as he's arraigned for this felony charge of attacking someone with a deadly weapon. But obviously, there's a lot of questions surrounding the security and how this happened at the Hollywood Bowl.

You know, yesterday we talked to one of our reporters, CNN Correspondent Rachel Crane, who was actually there in the audience and she told me that she even had food that she brought in -- takeout food that was stapled up and didn't even get opened when she went through the metal detector.


ELAM: So it shows you something's wrong security, especially when you see this weapon that this assailant had on him allegedly, police showing pictures of this knife that folded up into a replica gun. And when you see this, you would think if someone was going through because they do go through your bags when you show up at the Hollywood Bowl, that they would see a gun and then say, let's stop and you know, apprehend this person here, but it turned out to be a knife. So, all of these things are concerns that they are working through.

I should also note, Erica, for people who have not been to the Hollywood Bowl, you are allowed to bring in your own bottles of wine, your own snacks or cheeses, and all the things that you may want while you enjoy a show at the Hollywood Bowl. And so that has some concern that that might change because that is one of the things that people have enjoyed for a very long time at the Bowl.

HILL: Yes, absolutely. All right, we'll continue to turn to you for all the developments, Stephanie, thank you. Also, new this morning, investigators are pleading for Alabama corrections officer Vicky White to turn herself in. Both White and the inmate she helped free from jail remain at large. The Lauderdale County District Attorney says Vicky White exploited her position to help Casey White, no relation, escape.


CHRIS CONNOLLY, LAUDERDALE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: She was a longtime trusted employee at our -- at our jail and she just exploited the system. And you know, really misused the trust and the credibility that she had gained over the years as a -- as a great employee. And that's why it's so shocking.


HILL: The sheriff says Vicky White also called the convicted felon multiple times while he was in state prison. Now, the pair have not been seen since last Friday when they drove away in this marked sheriff's vehicle. Police believe they were last seen in a rust- colored Ford Edge, you see one on the screen there, with an unknown license plate. Officials do consider them to be armed and dangerous.

A potentially big development today in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, a German prosecutor says he is "sure." A British toddler who vanished during a family vacation and Portugal was actually killed by a jailed suspect. Now, a prosecutor says investigators found new evidence that connects Christian Brueckner to McCain's -- to McCann's disappearance.


SANDRA FELGUEIRAS, JOURNALIST: Is it true that you find something belonging to Madeleine in the caravan of Christian Brueckner.

HANS CHRISTIAN WOLTERS, GERMAN PROSECUTOR: To the details of the investigations, I cannot give you a command.

FELGUEIRAS: But you can't deny it, can you?

WOLTERS: I don't want to deny it.


HILL: I don't want to deny it. Well, officials formally named Brueckner a suspect last month. He does have yet to be charged though, in the McCann case. Coming up here, the families of Americans detained abroad trying to get the White House to bring their loved ones home. Up next, I'll speak with Paul Whelan's sister. He remains, of course, in a Russian prison. Stay with us.



HILL: New this morning, the White House is disputing a New York Times report that Ukraine is using U.S. intelligence to target Russian generals. Now, Ukraine claims to have killed roughly a dozen Russian military generals. The White House says the report is misleading, and that the U.S. does "not provide intelligence with the intent to kill Russian generals."

Joining me now is House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff. He's also, of course, a member of the Select Committee investigating the Capitol insurrection. Good to have you with us this morning. When it comes to this New York Times report, the pushback that we're seeing from the White House, is this simply about semantics when it comes to this intel and how it's been used?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D-CA): I think what it's about is an effort to the Biden administration not to do or say things that will escalate the conflict. We are providing real-time intelligence to Ukraine to help them defend itself. I don't think the administration wants to go into specifics about just what kind or what circumstances.

But we want to make sure that Ukraine is successful. They've been invaded by their neighbor, they're the victim of war crimes by Russian forces, and there's a lot on the line for Ukrainians most of all, but also for freedom-loving people around the world. So we want to do everything we can short of getting into a shooting war ourselves with Russia and so I think there are efforts by the administration to do exactly that, and observe exactly that line.

HILL: As we heard from General Milley that the pipes are open at this point, would this in any way change the intelligence that is being given to Ukraine?

SCHIFF: Well, the nature of the fight in Ukraine is changing. The Russian forces previously were widely dispersed. They could be picked off by Ukrainians and ambushed as many of them were. Now, the Russians are concentrating their forces in the east, a lot of the fighting is that long-range, using long-range artillery so that is changing the nature of what we provide in terms of weapons.

We're giving them long-range weapons, like howitzers. And we want to make sure that we provide them with the intelligence they need, both to defend themselves against Russian artillery attacks, but also to make their own attacks on Russian forces more successful. So as the war changes, the nature of our support changes, but through it all, we want to do everything possible to help Ukraine succeed.

HILL: In terms of those needs, you, of course, met with President Zelenskyy in Kyiv and said that he brought up needs you had not heard before. What are those needs?


SCHIFF: Well, I can't go into a lot of specifics, but some of them do relate to the changing nature of that war, that war to distance, some that what did surprise us that he was interested in. But nonetheless, as the nature of the conflict has changed, as the nature of humanitarian disaster has changed, the needs continued to evolve. And a big part of our purpose of being there was to hear from him directly what we can do to best assist. So there were new. I think items that came out of the discussion, but not ones that I can discuss with you today.

HILL: So you can't discuss the specifics. But are those needs that you feel the U.S. can meet?

SCHIFF: Yes, absolutely. And you know -- and this is certainly part of Ukraine's public list of asks, but given that this fight has moved to a long-distance, kind of a fight, I think multiple rocket launch systems would be very important. You know, I think in the early days of the war, there was a concern that we couldn't provide Ukrainians with anything that would take time to train them on.

But as the war has dragged on, it means that we have more time to train Ukrainians in more sophisticated systems, and I think we should provide them. Similarly, reopening the port of Odessa is important to Ukrainians but it's important to people starving all over the world because Ukraine is such an important breadbasket for the world. So helping them with the munitions they need to sink the Black Sea Fleet, which they've shown very capable of doing, but can be more capable of doing if we provide them with the right tools.

HILL: I do want to move on because there are a couple of other topics we need to hit here. You, of course, served on the House Committee, which is investigating January 6. Donald Trump Jr. met with you all yesterday. I know you're not going to give me specifics on what was discussed, we've all -- we've both been doing this long enough to know that.

But according to our own CNN reporting, he was, you know, there for a little over three hours answered all questions, did not take the fifth, was cordial. He's now the third family member, right, to meet with the committee. How would you describe his level of cooperation and even his willingness to speak with the committee?

SCHIFF: You know I'm afraid I can't do that. We don't really confirm who appears before the committee. We are getting a great number of witnesses, many of whom surprised me with their willingness to come in. So I think the body of information we are accumulating continues to grow and grow but we're really not commenting or confirming. It's really up to witnesses, whether they want to discuss any testimony of cooperation with the committee.

HILL: As we look at where things stand, there is now more audio of a Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, of course, this comes from January 8, talking to some top aides. I just want to play that quickly.


KEVIN MCCARTHY, (R-CA): What the president did is atrocious and totally wrong. I do think the impeachment divides the nation further and continues to fight even greater. That's why I want to reach out to Biden. I wanted the president to meet with Biden, but that's not going to happen. I want to see about us, meeting with Biden, sitting down, make a smooth transition to show that, and continue to keep those statements going. So hopefully, I know he's got to talk to Pelosi when he's going to -- hopefully, he calls me today.


HILL: We've heard consistent comments from behind closed doors, from Kevin McCarthy. The reality is that today in 2022, he supports Donald Trump. Trump has said this is basically water under the bridge. All is good. So what does this audio coming out now change? Does this have any impact on the January 6 committee's investigation?

SCHIFF: It certainly has an impact on our investigation to help to flesh out what Kevin McCarthy was doing and what he was saying because he has lied so often since then, about what he was doing in those days and hours. And, you know, tragically, I think it underscores for the whole country that if you're -- if you're willing, to tell the truth, there's no place for Republican leadership for you.

Kevin McCarthy retains his position because he's willing to lie for Donald Trump and deny all those conversations that you just played -- some of what you just played. But others who are committed to telling the truth, like Liz Cheney, they're forced out of Republican leadership. To me, that's the real scandal, not McCarthy's lies or his lies about his lies, but rather that there's no place for the truth at the top of Republican leadership.

HILL: Real quickly before I let you go, the White House -- the president has said the White House would repair some options if Roe was ultimately overturned. Our Kaitlan Collins asked Jen Psaki, specifically about that yesterday, she didn't have specifics. But the possibility of this being overturned shouldn't come as a surprise at this point especially with the ruling in this Mississippi case being imminent. Is the White House prepared for this moment?


SCHIFF: I don't know whether any of us were really prepared for that. It's certainly been a specter haunting the country for decades. But like so many things during this era, we are shocked on the one hand and not surprised on the other.

We are going to have to take up and try to pass legislation in Congress to make Roe the law of the land. I have to hope that maybe some of those senators who accepted at face value, though they shouldn't, the false representations of these judicial nominees, that they would uphold precedent, that they respected precedent, particularly in this area, when that was proven to be so demonstrably false with this draft opinion, that they will support a statute to protect Roe and they will not allow the filibuster to stand in the way.

But time will tell. And I think that we should go beyond frankly, in my view, and expand the size of the court given the way McConnell has gained the system to add two socially conservative justices who are willing to threaten reproductive health in this country. HILL: Congressman Adam Schiff, we are at a time, we'll have to leave it there. Appreciate you joining us today. Thank you.

SCHIFF: Thank you.

HILL: Coming up, the families of Americans detained overseas pleading with President Biden to get their loved ones released. Paul Whelan's sister joins me next.



HILL: Put patriotism over politics. That's what the families of Americans detained abroad are asking the White House to do in the wake of Trevor Reed's release. Paul Whelan has spent his last four birthdays in a Russian prison. His sister, Elizabeth Whelan, joins me now. Elizabeth, it's good to have you with us. I want to get into where things stand. But first, I'd like to know how your brother's doing, when is the last time that you were able to speak with him?

ELIZABETH WHELAN, SISTER OF PAUL WHELAN: Well, my parents have an opportunity to speak with him relatively frequently now, which is not how it was for the first year and a half that he was being held in Russia. They can have about 15-minute long phone calls, of course, those are lists -- those are listened to by the guards, projects he can't -- he can't talk about.

But unfortunately, we had a conversation on the day that Trevor -- that Trevor came back and found out that he had already discovered about Trevor's release on the Russian television, and the news had been drawn to him -- drawn to him by other inmates. So the first words out of his mouth were why was I left behind? And so we have all been grappling with that particular question in the days since.

HILL: Well, since then, as I understand it, Secretary Blinken just this week said that his release remains a priority, but didn't give you any specifics. Why do you think that is?

WHELAN: Well, we were really pleased that the Secretary made the outreach. He called me over the weekend to talk. These cases are extremely complicated. And families don't really expect to know all of the details of what's going on behind the scenes of who's going to come to us even on -- event on the table. But what we are doing is we're asking and not just me for my brother, Paul Whelan, but all the other families with wrongful detainees and hostages held in 18 countries around the world. There are at least 55 of us asking for all the tools on the table to be used to bring our loved ones home.

HILL: As you point out, it's not just in Russia. But given what we did see, the fact that Trevor was -- Trevor Reed was released when tensions with Russia certainly feel like they are at an all-time high with war raging in Ukraine. Does that give you hope?

WHELAN: Oh, absolutely. It does. We were so pleased to see Trevor home. I wished I could have been more celebratory on that Wednesday when we had to find out that Paul was not coming home. But I have to tell you I can't explain just what it meant after all this time to see that there was a possibility of someone coming out of Russia.

And so, of course, now we're asking the administration to seize the moment. Obviously, the sky didn't fall in, a trade was affected, whether that'll be the same way Paul comes home or not, we're not sure. We're just asking, as I said, all the -- all of the tools to be used.

And in particular, I think, before the next bright shiny object comes along. Because, you know, this is a complicated world we're living in. There are lots of issues. But wrongful detention is a national security issue. When we're having Americans taken off the street, used as pawns against the U.S. government, that's something that we have to deal with.

HILL: We only have about 30 seconds left. But as part of that demonstration in Washington, another family member of a detained American said it's time to put patriotism over politics. Do you see that shifting?

WHELAN: Oh, yes. And really from the start, there's been bipartisan support. You know, from the beginning, Paul said three congressional resolutions passed on his behalf. And they have been, you know, almost exactly equal, Democrats and Republicans. Everybody wants to -- the U.S. citizens, Americans to come home. They want the situation dealt with. There is an appetite to bring home wrongful detainees.

HILL: Hopefully, that will happen soon. Elizabeth, we really appreciate you taking the time to join us today. Thank you.

WHELAN: Thank you so much.

HILL: Thanks to all of you for joining us this hour. Stay tuned. INSIDE POLITICS starts right now.