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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Putin's War In Ukraine Forcing Millions Of Refugees To Flee; Putin's War In Ukraine Forcing Millions Of People To Flee; Biden Admin Secures Release Of Afghan-American Naval Reservist Held By Taliban For 100 Plus Days; Critical Water Supply Draining At Alarming Rate In Western U.S.; Locals Frapple With Lake Powell's Plunging Water Levels; Soon: House To Vote On Recommending Criminal Charges Against Former Trump Advisers Dan Scavino & Peter Navarro. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired April 06, 2022 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Now the U.S. is imposing new sanctions on Russian banks and some members of Russia's elite including Putin's two adult daughters. And the Justice Department in the U.S. is helping to collect evidence for potential war crimes prosecutions.

Still, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg had a stark warning for the rest of the world. He says even though Russia is repositioning its assault to the eastern region of Ukraine now, Putin has not given up, he said on trying to capture the capital city of Kyiv. And he said as long as Putin wants the whole of Ukraine, this war could last for years.

Let's bring in CNN, Fred Pleitgen, who's live for us in Kyiv about 300 miles east of where I'm standing.

And Fred, you spoke with some Ukrainian civilians, who before the war broke out, would fly drones to make YouTube videos and now they're using those drones to hunt Russian tanks and to document the horrors that we are seeing on the streets around Kyiv. Tell us more.


Yes, so many people were surprised that the Ukrainian military managed to beat back the Russians and, you know, beat them back pretty badly. And one of the reasons for that was, of course, ordinary Ukrainians taking up arms, but then also using their skills to act as force multipliers. A lot of that is coming out now that the Ukrainians have pushed the Russians back. But unfortunately, as you've just reported, what's also coming out is that a lot of civilians were killed while the Russians occupied certain areas. That's something that we experienced and witnessed ourselves. So, I want to warn our viewers right now what you're about to see is very graphic and certainly very disturbing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Be careful, just move. Move, move. Move from there.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): It's like a scene from the gates of hell. The dead lay strewn across this Highway west of Kyiv, some still next to the wreckage of their vehicles, as the dogs roam around looking to scavenge. This is what Russian forces left behind when they retreated from here.

OLEKSANDR RADZIKHOVSKY, BUGATTI COMPANY, UKRAINIAN TERRITORIAL DEFENSE FORCES: They organized ambush over there where we're going right now.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Oleksandr Radzikhovsky tells me these were civilians gunned down from this position where the Russians had placed a tank.

RADZIKHOVSKY: And you can see it's actually build in the shooting zone. You see?

PLEITGEN (on camera): Yes.

RADZIKHOVSKY: And this cars, look, they sort of in line. There is no cars here because they will not let them come. They just shoot as soon as they approach.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): The Russian government denies targeting civilians. They call such allegations quote, "fake and propaganda." But Oleksandr is part of a drone unit and they filmed one incident.

It was March 7 when the Russians were still in full control of this area, and a group of cars was driving down the highway. They turned around after apparently taking fire from the tank position. This car stops and the driver gets out. Then this,

RADZIKHOVSKY: He's raised his hand above his head, and in this moment he should by in this place.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Two people were killed that day, Maxime Eovanco (ph) and his wife Senia (ph) who was also sitting in the vehicle. The family has confirmed the identities to CNN. After the incident, the drone filmed Russian troops getting to further people out of the car and taking them away. It was the couple's six-year-old son and a family friend traveling with them the relatives confirmed, both were later released by the Russians. The soldiers then search Maxime's body and drag him away.

This incident both traumatizing and motivating for Oleksandr's drone unit.

RADZIKHOVSKY: In normal life before the war we were civilians who liked to fly drones around casually and just like making nice video, YouTube videos. But when the war began, we become actually a vital part of the resistance.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Oleksandr sent us hours of video showing his team scoping out Russian vehicles, even finding them when they're hidden and almost impossible to spot and then helping the Ukrainians hit them. RADZIKHOVSKY: We our eyes, we call eyes, because it was eyes you can see and you can report and as soon as you see. You can conduct strikes, artillery, airstrikes.

PLEITGEN (on camera): How long does it take to get your information to the right places to then be able to act on the intelligence that you provide?

RADZIKHOVSKY: In good time, it's about a matter of minutes.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): And sometimes a little mosquito can take out a whole herd of elephants. This is drone footage of Oleksandr's unit searching for a massive column of Russian tanks and armored vehicles. And this is that column after the drones founded.

Oleksandr tells me units like his played a major role fending off Russian troops despite the Ukrainians being vastly outgunned.

RADZIKHOVSKY: We are agile as a total offense. We can -- oh, we don't want to just like it's suicide and that we need to go. But the army, they have to stay, they order to stay, they stay. They dine, but they stay and their holding this ground.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Nobody knows how many Russians died here. But the group says it was many, taken out with the help of a band of amateur drone pilots looking to defend their homeland.


PLEITGEN: And Jake, one of the things that that unit told me is they believed essentially while they were out here and while they were obviously conducting their operations, to them, it was almost like the Russians were fighting a 20th century war while they were fighting a 21st century war because their unit was so agile. And they were able to provide that information so quickly, it really helped the Ukrainian artillery pinpoint the Russian positions very, very quickly and then obviously bring that firepower to bear.


Of course, that on top of the fact that the Ukrainian military also got some of those very modern U.S. and other Western anti-tank weapons. That obviously made a big difference as well. But really ordinary Ukrainians coming forward and using their skills also made a big difference, Jake.

TAPPER: Fascinating story. CNN's Fred Pleitgen live for us in Kyiv, thank you so much.

Back in the United States, the Biden administration announced that they're going to impose new sanctions, this time on Russian financial institutions and on elites including Putin's two adult daughters. The senior administration official tells CNN that U.S. officials believe the Russian president might be hiding some of his considerable wealth with his daughters.

CNN's MJ Lee is at the White House for us.

MJ, what else can you tell us about these new sanctions?

MJ LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, let me just lay out what some of the biggest targets are from this announcement today that the U.S. is going to be imposing a fresh round of sanctions on Russia. We are talking about full blocking sanctions on Russia's largest financial institution as well as Russia's largest private bank. We are also talking about a ban on all new Russia investments, this would come in the form of an executive order that the President would sign.

And then there are the targeting of individuals close to Vladimir Putin, including his two adult daughters and sanctioning the daughter and the wife of the Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, as well as a number of other Russian government officials. Now, when we heard the President talking about all of this earlier today, he basically promised that the U.S. is ready to announce more punishments for Vladimir Putin as well as the Russian economy. Here's what he said.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's nothing less happening than major war crimes. Responsible nations have to come together to hold these perpetrators accountable. And together with our allies and our partners, we're going to keep raising the economic cost and ratchet up to paying for Putin and further increased Russia's economic isolation.


LEE: Now, of course, the idea behind going after Putin's daughters is that the belief is he might be hiding some of his assets up through some of his family members. Although I should note the White House is not saying right now, whether they have an assessment of how much of his assets at this point are tied up and what he still might have access to, Jake.

TAPPER: And MJ, a senior administration official also told CNN that these sanctions are not permanent. They can be reversed if the Kremlin changes course in Ukraine. What does Putin need to do to see the sanctions was reversed? Is it a complete withdrawal?

LEE: That's a very good question. And, Jake, the reality is there's not some detailed roadmap that this administration has laid out for what exactly needs to happen in order for some of these sanctions to be rolled back. But as you know, one question that administration officials have grappled with and have put out there is what is Vladimir Putin's endgame? What is the point at which he says, OK, I'm recognizing that this war has been a failure.

And just now in the White House briefing room, I asked Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, whether the U.S. has an assessment right now of what exactly Putin's endgame is. And what she said, essentially, is that they can't really get into Putin's mindset, that's line that we've heard before from the White House. But she importantly stress that they do not believe that Putin's strategy has changed, that even though some of the tactics that we are seeing on the ground might be changing, that the end game and the goal, broadly speaking for Putin is to weaken Ukraine as much as possible, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, CNNs MJ live for us at the White House. Thank you so much.

We're joined now by Lyusyena Shum, her 10 year old son Ivan (ph). They were living in a town north of Kyiv, but they left shortly after the war broke out. Lyusyena's husband stayed behind a fight.

Lyusyena, how are you doing? How is your family?

LYUSYENA SHUM, UKRAINIAN DISPLACED IN LVIV WITH HER SONS AND FATHER: So really, I live near Kyiv 20 kilometers and near this town Bucha where the tragedy was some days ago we knew about it and I spent with my family, with my two sons several days in the shelter because my village was bombing. And then we moved to another city near Kyiv called Bila Tserkva. And also, this city was bombed. And this nights in the shelter and the uncomfortable called and my children were very afraid because of this, and that's why we decided to move to Lviv because it's the west of Ukraine and it's safer here. But still, we hear the air alarms every day and of course it's scaring.


My husband, he's staying in my village, north to Kyiv and he's defending in this called territorial defense where the volunteers, the man who stayed there, they're like controlling this territory. And of course, I miss him very much. And -- but this is the reality.

And of course, I don't want to be the refugee. I don't want to go abroad. I want to return to my village and to see my husband and to see my house. I'm very afraid it will be safe, my house.


SHUM: And -- but still here -- yes, here, I am the volunteer and I'm working for some initiatives and helping people and evacuating people from these regions. And I can say that my motivation is to do everything to help now Ukraine to close, to speed up this victory of our country. And we are really afraid --


SHUM: -- that this war will continue for years. It's awful.

TAPPER: Lyusyena, have you been able to talk to your husband? I know he stayed behind to fight. Is he OK? Tell us -- has he told you what he has been able to see?

SHUM: Oh, he's OK. We are happy that everything is fine. And actually, Russian troops they went from our region some days ago and now it's quite -- safe and quiet in our village because a week ago it's, all the time, there were explosions and damages. And even two years old boy was died because of the explosion. So, the situation was very hard, very difficult. But now we hope that in Kyiv, it will be more safer and probably will go home in some weeks.

TAPPER: Ivan is sitting next to you. He's 10. You have another Taras (ph) who's four. How do you explain to them what's going on?

SHUM: They understand the situation that Russia is the aggressor country and we have this war because this country attacked us. And they understand everything, these alarms and a lot of people that died. So, we see this all the time in the news, and we cry about these children, because it's already 160 children died. And it's even not the full information because we don't know in Mariupol, what is going on. And the things maybe more awful when we will know what's going on in Mariupol.

So, my children, of course, they are very afraid about this, but they believe that Ukraine will be the winner.

TAPPER: You, as you mentioned, you are working, doing charitable work trying to help out specifically with the charitable foundation Library Country which raises humanitarian aid for libraries, for librarians. Why is that important to you?

SHUM: I work for this organization already for five years, and we supporting libraries. But now in this situation, it is more important that people should be in safe place. And that's why we gather these donations from abroad and from Ukrainians and helping people to go out from these territories.

For example, today I met the librarians from Nicola Mykolaiv, it's on the south of Ukraine. And she was very afraid because she has the daughter who is ill and her health is being worse because of this explosion and the stress on the time. And we are helping now her to raise the money, first of all, to buy some essential things because they are living without anything, without clothes, only those documents.

And it is very, very stressful for people because they don't know if their house will still be. That's why we're trying to help them, not only with money but with psychological health. We're working with psychology systems --


SHUM: -- and therapists. Yes. And we are speaking with librarians from Mariupol and from Trostianets, from Irpin, from all these cities that had this very bad situation and this tragedy was this killing people.


And actually, we heard that Russians they killed teachers and teachers from kindergarten and librarians, first of all, because these people, they are bringing children, bringing up children, and that's why they are the first like people who is --


SHUM: -- in danger. That's why, yes, we're trying to help these --


SHUM: -- librarians and also teachers.

TAPPER: Lyusyena Shum, thank you so much. Ivan, thank you so much. You were very well behaved during this entire interview. Really appreciate it.

Putin is trying to destabilize Europe by forcing Ukrainians to flee their homes. How European countries are helping the fight by opening their borders.

Plus, the toll of this brutal war. It can be seen on the streets right here in Lviv. Earlier today, I went to a military funeral. See what we witnessed. That's next.



TAPPER: We're back from Lviv. And our world lead cemeteries here are now being forced to find new land in which to bury soldiers killed defending their country against Putin's bloody assault. Today, we attended a Ukrainian military funeral as families and the community here in Lviv said goodbye to loved ones who had enlisted in the military just a few weeks ago.


TAPPER (voice-over): Grave diggers at Lychakiv Cemetery in Lviv, Western Ukraine, today had to break ground and a fresh field to make room for the new war dead, repurposing the cemeteries adjacent World War II Memorial to find space for the influx.

Today, it's Ukrainian Army Sergeant Olvivokya Czeslav (ph), 43, killed March 28 and Private Hodsilak Lubamer (ph), 33, killed on April 1, both killed in Luhansk in the Donbass region. Both men called to service after the Russians invaded.

The soldier's family started this grim day at the Saints Peter and Paul Garrison Church in Lviv. As their caskets past the crowds on the way into the church. their loved ones wept, for those whom they lost to Putin's invading army. The sounds of grief combined with that of prayer. Inside, the former lead Jesuit church built in the 1600s, locals have wrapped historic statues to protect them from debris in case of expected Russian shelling.

After the service, a military tribute as mourners paid respects and gave flowers to the family, flowers always in even numbers.

Ruslan Stefanchuk, the presiding officer of the Ukrainian parliament basically the Speaker of the House stopped by to honor the fall. RUSLAN STEFANCHUK, UKRAINE PARLIAMENT: I come here and to owe my honor and all my (INAUDIBLE) I put there. The Russia is guilty for everything crimes for every seeing genocide, watch they do in my left. I want the whole world knows that we never forget for nobody.

(on camera): The church is right next to this monument to famous and beloved Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko, who was exiled by Russia Tsar in the 1800s for advocating for Ukrainian independence from Russia and for human rights. One of Shevchenko's most famous poem Zapovit or Testament reads, "When I am dead, bury me in my beloved Ukraine, my tomb upon a grave mound high amid the spreading plain."

(voice-over): Cars, vans and buses full of mourners traveled the short distance to the cemetery. Caskets were unloaded, prayers offered.

YEVHEN BOIKO, REPRESENTATIVE FOR LVIV MAYOR'S OFFICE (through translator): Chastity we need to ceremony of a burial has been simplified and made shorter in order not to decrease the morale and the spirit of our other military. Every day we have two, three burials here in Lviv. That is the price for our victory.

TAPPER (voice-over): And the military paid tribute with instruments of both arts and instruments of war.

BOIKO (through translator): We say, heroes never die. We bury the body but the glory of these people will live forever in our hearts and in our history.

TAPPER (voice-over): A spokesman for the city would only say dozens when asked how many locals have been killed fighting to defend their homeland from the latest Russian threat. The spreading plane here next to Lychakiv Cemetery spreading now in order to make room for the dead.


TAPPER: Coming up, how Putin creates refugee crises purposefully, using innocent and desperate people in an effort to destabilize neighboring countries.



TAPPER: Topping our world lead today, nearly one in 10 Ukrainians has fled to neighboring countries. One in 10 desperate to find safety and stability. More than half of those refugees have escaped to Poland. That's obviously straining available resources as CNN's Kyung Lah reports for us now. Some experts believe this has long been Vladimir Putin's strategy.



KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Poland is already waging a war with Russia. It's just not the kind you imagine. Nearly two and a half million Ukrainian refugees have crossed into the safety of Poland as war ravages their country. Packing Poland's arenas, lining up for government benefits and sending their children to public schools. These in his faces are part of Vladimir Putin's war of mass migration.

LT. COL. ALEXANDER VINDMAN, U.S. ARMY (RET.): It's a kind of a callousness that we just don't understand here.

LAH (voice-over): Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman is known as a crucial witness in former President Trump's first impeachment proceedings. But he was also a child refugee from Ukraine, whose family moved to the U.S. in 1979.

VINDMAN: Refugees have been a weapon for a long time. Russia's uses refugees as a weapon for years.

LAH (on-camera): How do you deploy refugees as weapons?

VINDMAN: Where you bomb cities and those cities result in civilian populations are women and children in particular.

LAH (on-camera): What is the theory behind that?

VINDMAN: Well, they're weaponized just by the mere fact that they're -- these are large numbers of people flowing into a country that is not prepared to handle refugee camps that has to now spend funds on those refugees.

LAH (voice-over): The alleged goal, destabilized Poland, a NATO country from within. But that hasn't happened yet.

VINDMAN: Poland, which -- was having a mixed record with regards to their democratic activities and democratic backsliding, has actually, you know, kind of gone back to its roots. It has been extremely welcoming to the Ukrainian population, welcoming Ukrainians into their homes as members of the family that's to Putin probably unexpected.

LAH (voice-over): But Warsaw's mayor says the pressure on his country grows by the day.

MAYOR RAFAL TRZASKOWSKI, WARSAW, POLAND: Putin wants to destabilize Europe and the whole Western world. I mean, he miscalculated because he thought that he's going to divide the Ukraine society, he lost. He wanted to divide us in the West, he lost. We are also waging a war against this effort to destabilize us. And we have to prove to him that we stand united, that we share the burden.

LAH (voice-over): We're just so thankful to Poland, says Marina Lesyk, something we hear again and again from Ukrainians. Nearly six weeks into this war, they hope that goodwill last.


LAH: There has not been any outward sign in that break of solidarity. But remember, we're just six weeks into this war, Jake. The concern is, is that if there is another surge in migrants, another surge of refugees coming across the border into Poland, none of them will be turned away. But the question is, will they be able to provide the services that they have so far? The Warsaw mayor saying that the international community has got to help. Jake?

TAPPER: Kyung Lah reporting for us from Warsaw, Poland, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

From Russia's invasion to another scene of war. Coming up, an Afghan- American naval reservist who spent months held captive by the Taliban. We broke the story for you when he was finally freed and he'll join us for his very first interview since his release. That's coming up.



TAPPER: Finally some positive news for you today. We're going to stay in our world lead but we're going to move southeast to Afghanistan and bring you a CNN exclusive, the consequences of that very different war. After more than 100 days in captivity and months of intense negotiations by the Biden administration with the Taliban, African- American naval reservist Safi Rauf has finally been freed by the Taliban.

27-year-old Safi and his brother Anees Khalil were detained in December for running an organization that provides humanitarian aid to Afghans. They work to help evacuate people after Taliban forces seized Kabul last year. Safi along with his girlfriend, Sammi join us now exclusively for his first interview since the Biden administration security is released on Friday.

And first of all, Safi, let me just say, I'm so glad to see you. This has been such an ordeal. And I've been following it and keeping in touch with everybody. How does it feel to be back home? How does it feel to be united with Sammi and your other loved ones after being spent -- after spending so much time being held against your will by the Taliban?

SAFI RAUF, AFGHAN-AMERICA NAVAL RESERVIST, RELEASED BY TALIBAN: Thank you, Jake, for having me. It's such an incredible feeling. I've never felt like this before. And I hope I never have to feel like this again. And I'm so glad and so lucky to be back. So incredibly grateful to everybody that was part of it and including yourself. Thank you.

And it's an incredible feeling. It hasn't settled in yet. I hope one day I'm sitting on my couch just watching television. And finally I can realize that I'm back and I'm back in my home.

TAPPER: How were you and your brother Anees treated there? What was it like?

RAUF: You know, I want to simplify it and -- for everybody. And it's -- it was being captive -- everybody knows what that means. However, this was very different. You know, people would say that we were in prison, but, you know, in prison, people get some rights, including going outside, you know, getting the glimpse of the sun and glimpse of the sky.

The place where we were, it was in a basement, very small room, 8 feet by 8 feet and the ceilings are about 12 feet tall, had a metal door that closed completely. And 24/7 we were in that room until about 70 days. We were taken to the bathrooms, all of that was under a guard. So it was much different than a prison. So the isolation was getting to us the -- not being able to talk to anybody, that was the most difficult part.

TAPPER: Sammy, I mean, how are the last several months been for you knowing that Safi was at the mercy of this brutal and oppressive regime?

SAMMI CANNOLD, SAFI RAUF'S GIRLFRIEND: It was, of course, incredibly difficult but, you know, pales in comparison to what Safi and Anees we're going through. And I think that on this side, you know, we felt fortunate that at least we had a mission. We had to do something.


And, you know, poor Safi and Anees, who are so used to being active and helping were stuck where they were. So, you know Zabi, who is Safi and Anees's brother, myself, our teammate, Alex puts us, our team at Human First Coalition and so many others sort of banded together alongside the U.S. State Department, the British government, the Qatari government, to work together to try to secure his release. So extremely difficult, but we're really grateful to be on the other end.

TAPPER: And Safi, you are in Afghanistan because you and your brothers founded, as your girlfriend just mentioned, the Human First Coalition, which provides humanitarian aid. You were working to help people, help Afghans. And you also had worked to evacuate people desperately trying to flee Afghanistan, much like the other U.S. prisoner currently still being held in Afghanistan there to help people. Why is it so important to help people in Afghanistan to you so much so that you risked your safety?

RAUF: You see this is every story I looked at during this whole ordeal, it tells my own story. I was born in a refugee camp. I was a refugee for 17 years in Pakistan, you know, the Russian war, forced my family to flee Afghanistan, and then live in a refugee status in Pakistan. Living there for 17 years, and then finally being able to come to the United States.

So looking at every one of those individuals, the children, woman, men, people -- vulnerable people, minorities, all of those population, everyone I looked at, I saw myself in them. And it was -- I just couldn't take it. I could not sit back and watch this unfold. And people suffer. People who lost everything overnight, people lost jobs, people lost their living, people lost homes, people lost a way to feed their families. So I couldn't just sit back here, living a cushy life in Washington, D.C. and watching all this on television. So I had to spring into action.

And not only that, but some of those people I have worked with, and I know them personally and so I couldn't just sit back and watch. And that's -- and throughout my life, every time I have ever seen, it's because of my parents that I have always sprung to action whenever there is a crisis going on. So putting my life on the line was the least I could do.

TAPPER: Safi and Sammi, we're so glad, we're so glad that you're reunited. Thank you so much for telling your story.

CANNOLD: Thanks for having us.

RAUF: Thank you for having us.

TAPPER: All right, talk to you soon.

Coming up next, the shrinking supply now threatening critical resources in western parts of the United States. Stay with us.



TAPPER: We're back with our national lead and our Earth matters series, a critical water source in the western United States is draining at an alarming rates, according to a recent report. Lake Powell, part of a system that supplies water for more than 40 million people. As CNN's Bill Weir reports for us now, communities are trying to adapt as fast as the water is drying up.


WILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just a couple of years ago, this part of Lake Powell was pretty enough to put in the brochure. But today, there is no water, only sand.

(on-camera): I can't paddle around Lone Rock anymore.

(voice-over): If you haven't been out less in a while, haven't seen the state of the Colorado River and its reservoirs, you would be shocked. This is what Powell looked like just last spring, when you could still float around Lone Rock. But the satellite shows it losing Island status as a lake level fell over 40 feet.

(on-camera): And the lake used to go half a mile around the corner. And now it starts way back here. I cannot believe this.

(voice-over): While hurricanes floods and wildfires can upend your life in a moment, droughts are slow motion disasters. And this one is now in its 23rd year with the region's population booming, and another winter without enough snow, there are no signs of relief.

(on-camera): But when you are houseboating on what's left of Lake Powell, it's still gorgeous. It's still so easy to forget that just since the mid-80s, the water level has dropped 177 feet. That's like 10 of these yachts stacked on top of each other.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a temporary dock get us access to the marina. (voice-over): So the tourism industry has no choice but to adapt, making ramps longer as the lake gets lower.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was was connected straight up there. So the --

WEIR (on-camera): At one point we would have been high enough that that would have been a straight angle.


WEIR (voice-over): This is not a decade or two. This is a year or two since it's dropped.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, this is within two to three years.

MAX LAPEKAS, CO-OWNER, LAKE POWELL PADDLEBOARD AND KAYAK: If it continues to go down another 10, 15 feet, we might have to shut down.

WEIR (voice-over): For Max Lapekas, the changing canyons means more people eager to explore them in his rental kayaks and paddleboards but not enough safe places to put them in.


And he knows that big picture, 40 million people and their animals and crops in seven states and Mexico depend on Colorado River water, not to recreate but to live.

LAPEKAS: Manmade climate change, I do believe is a thing to a certain extent. But I do believe the Earth goes through cycles and this could just be another cycle. But I don't see any good evidence of it getting any better anytime soon.

WEIR (voice-over): In a first of its kind Gallup poll, one in three Americans say they've been personally affected by severe weather the past two years. And for those who have, regardless of party, they are much more likely to say the climate crisis demands action. But only 3 percent say they've experienced drought. This may be because for most tap water keeps flowing. And here, house voters keep coming.

(on-camera): What do you say to someone who sees this as proof, alarming proof of sort of a manmade climate crisis?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of it is manmade. There's no doubt about it. You've you got more users using the water out of the Colorado River. You've got more of everything than you had 50 years ago. It's that simple.

WEIR (on-camera): Would you label your business a victim of drought?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've had to change the way, obviously, the way we do a lot of things. At this point, I would not say we're a victim.

WEIR (on-camera): Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would say we're an adaptor. (END VIDEOTAPE)

WEIR: As he says he'd rather be known as an adaptor and I guess that's the rule going forward in the southwest of the United States, Jake. To adapt is to survive out here.

Places like Las Vegas are doing an amazing job when it comes to conservation though. They'll even pay a homeowner to tear up their lawn, rethinking everything they know about water use and doing a great job but the growth is just unstoppable. You know, the population in Arizona especially is growing, Jake. Among one of the desperate plans, they're thinking about desalinating water in the Sea of Cortez, giving that to Mexico in exchange for Mexico share of the Colorado River.

So many moving pieces with treaties that go back, you know, just after the Civil War, but this is the new normal in the West, Jake. And attitudes about it as you can see change as people experience the pain which unfortunately is going to spread.

TAPPER: All right, Bill Weir, with that important report from Lake Powell, Arizona for us. Thank you so much.

Back in Washington, D.C., breaking news on Capitol Hill, the House of Representatives is about to cast a major vote involving two former aides to Donald Trump, that's next.



TAPPER: Our live coverage of Putin's war on Ukraine continues in just moments, but we do want to cover some breaking news out of Washington, D.C. Any moment, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on recommending criminal contempt of Congress charges against two former Trump White House advisers.

Let's go straight to CNN's Evan Perez. Evan, what are we expecting to happen here and to whom?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, these are two close advisers to the former president. Dan Scavino was of course the Deputy Chief of Staff. Peter Navarro was a former trade adviser to the former president. Both of them, according to the committee that's investigating the January 6 attack, both of them were deeply involved in some of the former president's efforts to try to overturn the 2020 election results.

In the case of Scavino, we know he was extraordinarily close, he would have been witness to many of what -- many of the events that led up to January 6, many of the efforts by the former president to orchestrate this effort to stop the certification of the vote on January 6. As far as Peter Navarro goes, we know he was also involved in trying to orchestrate with people -- Trump supporters in the states on this very issue. Now, both of them have declined to cooperate with the committee. Both of them say that it's not clear that Joe Biden, the current president, has the right to waive executive privilege. And so that's one reason why they're refusing to cooperate with this committee, Jake.

TAPPER: Evan, the Justice Department still has yet to act on the previous criminal contempt of Congress recommendation from the House against former right Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Is there any reason to think they're going to act this time?

PEREZ: Look, I mean, 114 days since they referred the Mark Meadows to made -- the Mark Meadows referral to the Justice Department, we asked today, Merrick Garland, the Attorney General about this and he said that they're still doing the work, they're following the facts and the law. So it's probably going to take some time, Jake, before we know.

TAPPER: All right, Evan Perez with that breaking news. Thank you so much.

The southeastern United States is bracing for another round of severe weather. This hour, a new tornado watch was issued for parts of Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina. More than 40 million Americans in the region could see heavy rains and damaging winds. This comes a day after severe weather in the south left two people dead.

Yesterday alone, there were nearly 400 tornado reports across four states in the U.S. Mary Edwards took this video from inside her car near Savannah, Georgia. She said quote, to see it right before you is humbling, unquote.

You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the TikTok at JakeTapper. You can tweet the show at TheLeadCNN. If you ever miss an episode of the show, you can listen to THE LEAD wherever you get your podcasts. I'll be back at 9: p.m. Eastern this evening for CNN Tonight with more from Lviv and from our reporters on the frontlines of this bloody invasion.

Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM." See you in the few hours.