Return to Transcripts main page
The Lead with Jake Tapper
Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-IN) Is Interviewed About War In Ukraine; Ukrainian-American Congresswoman On Visiting War-Torn Homeland; FL Gov. Proposes Congressional Map That Expands GOP's Grip On State; DeSantis Pushes To Drop Disney's Special Governing Status In Florida; Masks Optional On Most Airlines, Public Transit After Judge's Ruling; Netflix Loses Subscribers For First Time Since 2011. Aired 5- 6p ET
Aired April 19, 2022 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: I want to warn you, some of the images we're about to show you may be disturbing.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Morgues aren't supposed to be busy. For so over capacity, they need a team of volunteers to move bodies around and large mobile refrigerators to accommodate them. This is one of seven sites in and around Kyiv working to cope with the tide of death left behind by Russia's retreating forces.
(on camera): Are there still more bodies coming?
ANDRII BILYAKOV, FORENSIC MEDICINE PROFESSOR, BOGOMOLLETS NATIONAL MEDICAL UNIV.: Come in, yes.
BLACK (on camera): Lots?
BILYAKOV: A lot. Lot every day at morning.
BLACK (voice-over): Andrii Bilyakov normally teaches forensic medicine, now he's a full time volunteer performing endless autopsies.
(on camera): But how many murders are you seeing?
BILYAKOV: Now there's I think near to 40 percent is exactly monitored.
BLACK (voice-over): By his definition, that means 30 percent of the people in these bags have deliberate gunshot wounds to the head. We witnessed a continuous cycle, shuffling bodies from vehicles to storage to autopsy to storage and ultimately preparation for burial. Usually it will be their second, most have been exhumed from temporary graves.
Families buy new clothes for those they've lost as a gesture of love and respect but they often go on worn. They can only be laid inside the coffin. The condition of the bodies means dressing them is impossible.
Among those lying here waiting to be collected is Roman Leaper (ph). His family says he was killed when munitions struck his home in a small remote village. Roman's wife, Victoria (ph), survived only to endure a form of hell. Intense fighting meant she couldn't escape the house.
Victoria's brother, Ihor says, my sister had to step over her husband's body for two weeks. She had to go through it to get to food or water. The room is still covered in blood. She's very bad now, very bad. I don't know how she will live with this loss.
Others who grieve are living through a different form of hell. They can't find the body of the person they love.
Volodomyr is searching for his brother Leonard (ph). He shows us where he was shot and killed. Where he was buried in a shallow makeshift grave before officials exhume the body and took it away.
So Volodomyr has taken leave from active duty to travel through devastated communities going from morgue to morgue, but no one can help. Eventually, he's directed to a police office with a central list of the dead. He's told his brother probably hasn't been processed yet. Volodomyr must return to the war. He doesn't know when he'll be able to come back even if Leonard's body is found.
It hurts a lot, he says. It hurts a lot, but we don't give up.
Russia has left so much death behind in areas near Kyiv. Some people must wait their turn to grieve.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
BLACK: Jake, at these morgues you also see prosecutors working to record and investigate crimes and the hope of one day holding someone accountable. They know it won't be easy. President Putin helped prove that by now giving an award to Russia's 64 separate guard motor Rifle Brigade, a unit according to the Ukrainian government, which was directly involved in the atrocities in Bucha. According to Putin's award, they deserve commemoration for courage and professionalism, for a astute and bold action during Russia's special military operation in Ukraine. Jake.
TAPPER: Yes, they're proud of it. Phil Black reporting live for us from Kyiv, thank you so much.
Joining us live to discuss Republican Congresswoman Victoria Spartz of Indiana. She's the only Ukrainian American member of Congress and just returned from a trip to Ukraine where she was able to visit the town of Bucha, the region of Chernihiv. This is her first national interview since coming back.
Congresswoman, thank you so much, and we're glad you got back OK. I want to ask you about the devastation that you saw in and around Chernihiv. It's a city in northern Ukraine near the borders of Belarus and Russia. You sent us a video of a woman telling you about what happened in her small village and who's left. What did she and other survivors tell you?
REP. VICTORIA SPARTZ (R-IN), JUST RETURNED FROM BUCHA & KYIV UKRAINE: Thank you for having me. No, I grew up in Chernigov Region and spent, you know, big part of my life and use in Chernihiv. And I have to tell you, you know, the city is heroic (ph) to hold the ground for over months and really helped to save the Kyiv. But the destruction was just unbelievable and most villages almost burned for the ground.
So this lady shared with me that, you know, from over 700 people, they only have, you know, less than 40 that still left there and some of them living in the basements and sheds or they just tried to come and clean the rubbles. I mean, she said they were bombing, it was halftime bombs, non stop. And then in one day they threw some and they're pretty much almost burned the whole village to the ground. And she was showing that she has nothing left, a place to live. And it's a pretty miserable place.
And that's a lot of villages, and they tortured people, held them in the basement in large group. I mean, the destruction of the city is almost -- 70 percent of the city has left distraction. No water they had for two weeks and the siege but this people are heroic. I mean --
SPARTZ: -- these people are real heroes.
TAPPER: We have some videos that you took in that woman's village near Chernihiv craters from shelling just steps from a playground where kids are playing, buildings and homes bombed beyond recognition. How difficult and surreal was this for you to see in person?
SPARTZ: I really cannot believe that things like that are happening in the 21st century. You know, you read things like that in the books about World War II where my grandma who is 95 said this destruction, this area hasn't seen even during Stalin times and World War II, but this is the tragedy of women and children. You look at these kids, you know, play in the rubbles, are really cleaning the rubbles. And women are trying to, you know, get their life together and figure out how they can live frozen with the children.
I mean, it's -- I just cannot believe that one person can hold the whole world hostage. And we see what's happened in Mariupol. I mean, ton of children and women are going to be killed and they try to do banker bombs to kill children that are hiding on the ground. I mean, this is atrocities. And this is not a war, this is a genocide of the people.
TAPPER: I want to show some more videos you sent us. There's a hospital in Chernihiv with a crater just outside. You also shared with us this video of a well that residents dug by hand. What happened there? SPARTZ: Well, I would say though, when you look at the city, you'll notice that they tried to hit hospitals, schools, libraries, they tried to hit stores with food. And, you know, people didn't have water infrastructure so they ran out of (INAUDIBLE) water, so they had, by hand, to dig a well enough to supply at least some water for last week of siege because, you know, they didn't have any water. And it's over 100,000 people still were left in the city. And they didn't allow humanitarian corridors.
So any people, they bombed the main bridge, and then there was a pedestrian bridge, and anyone who tried to get on that bridge they would shoot them so no one could get out. So they had to do something to be able to survive because it was no water. You cannot survive for a long time, but people try to do anything they could. And they, you know, they were able at least to supply some water for the people.
TAPPER: So the Biden administration is sending more military aid. It's a 2.6 billion total so far since the invasion. I've heard some Ukrainian government officials say that they really think some of the European countries are not even remotely coming close to doing what they need to do to help stop this, as you put it, a genocide, especially Germany, still buying all of that Russian fuel that is paying for this war. Who do you want to act more and what do you want them to do?
SPARTZ: I think the rest of the world, if we do not want to destabilize the whole world and really have this crisis and war continue even further, we have to get serious and put pressure on Putin to get to the table. And unfortunately, the only pressure he will understand now is military pressure. If we supply proper weapons, us and Western Europe and Eastern Europe to help, you know, Ukrainian people to fight this war and stop him, you know, then we will have a resolution and discussion. But as of right now, he's killing people and he will kill more people and he's not going to stop.
And we need to think about implication of the world economy and what hunger was going to do to the rest of the world in this instability. It will have material implications. And by the end of the year, this crisis will have world on fire. So I think it's a very serious situation and strong and decisive actions now extremely important. And it's not a joke situation. I think we need to push on Europe and lead them but also in some other countries around the world too.
TAPPER: The mayor of Mykolaiv told CNN today the Russian forces are ruining his city, committing genocide Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR OLEKSANDR SYENKEVYCH, MYKOLAIV, UKRAINE: I can call this a genocide. They shoot all over the city, they shoot all over the districts and they shoot in our apartment, residential apartment blocks. They -- yesterday they bombarded the kindergarten and they just choose in the direction of the city.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: I've heard some commentators on the left and the right say this is is not a genocide. You say that it's a genocide, why?
SPARTZ: Well I'm you know, if you're trying to target civilians and kill a lot of them because you cannot suppress them because this people want to be with us in the west, they want to be free country, they don't want this socialist communist dictatorship, you know, that is a definition what genocide is. Even you target to kill people and throw on the ground bunker bombs in Mariupol to kill them. If you go and shoot people and had and put their hands to the back, I mean, this is not a war, you know.
And I think this investigation had to happen. And I think United Nation as organization is became very dysfunctional and worthless. And that is a question we need to ask it has to be either reformed or dissolved because it's not doing the job to bring peace and stability. I think this is a serious issues and a lot of people are dying. And a lot more going to die if we don't figure out how to deal with this situation sooner than later.
TAPPER: Republican Congresswoman Victoria Spartz of Indiana, thank you so much. I'm glad you're home safe.
Apartment buildings turned into heaps of stone, playgrounds full of rubble, caskets of the dead piling up. In a minute I'm going to show you my visit to a town just outside the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, Borodianka.
Plus, Florida's governor taking on the happiest place on earth. Will his fight with Disney score him political points or might it backfire? Stay with us.
TAPPER: Sticking with our world lead, it may be only a matter of hours not days for the hundreds of Ukrainian civilians currently sheltering in the basement of the Azovstal steel factory in the besieged city of Mariupol. Ukrainian forces still have control of the small area but they are surrounded by Russians. And now an alleged recording of a Russian commander saying they plan to quote, "level everything to the ground" around the steel factory, a complex, it's four square miles.
While CNN cannot vouch for the authenticity of the recording it's not the first time Ukraine Security Service has released intercepted recordings of Russian soldiers talking about killing and raping civilians. And as CNN's Matt Rivers reports the need for an evacuation quarter is growing more desperate by the hour.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The city of Mariupol has been bruised and battered by relentless attacks. Local officials say some 22,000 people have already been killed there and an estimated 100,000 civilians are desperately waiting to be evacuated from the port city. Ukrainian troops are defending one small corner of the city still under their control. The area around the Azovstal steel plant or an estimated 1000 civilians are sheltering. And now a chilling new threat has emerged.
The Security Service of Ukraine or SBU on Tuesday released a purported communications intercept of a Russian ground unit commander who said Russian aircraft we're planning to quote, "level everything to the ground" around Azovstal.
CNN cannot vouch for the authenticity of the recording, but the SBU has previously released audio from intercepted radio traffic revealing Russian soldiers discussing killing and raping civilians, bolstering allegations of war crimes by Russian troops. Military observers have also noted a tendency of Russian troops to use unsecured communications in Ukraine.
For now, a Ukrainian commander says Russian forces are quote, "willingly bombing and shelling the plan," a sprawling complex in Mariupol southeast that once employed more than 10,000 people. It's unclear how many Ukrainian forces are at the site but one commander says the Russians are using freefall bombs, rockets, bunker buster bombs and other artillery at the facility. Video posted on government social media, which CNN cannot verify, shows dozens of women and children who say they'd been staying under the facility for weeks holding out against Russian attacks.
The surrender deadline Russian forces issued to Ukrainian troops has now expired. But the Russian military official in charge of the operation say they will allow the civilians safe passage out of the area.
COL. GEN. MIKHAIL MIZINTSEV, DIRECTOR OF RUSSIAN NATIONAL DEFENSE CONTROL CENTER (trough translator): Russian leadership will guarantee safe evacuation of each and every civilian as well as the safety of the humanitarian convoys movement in any direction they choose.
RIVERS (voice-over): It's unclear if the Ukrainians will take the word of the Russian general who has himself been accused of excesses during the Mariupol campaign. Not all of Mariupol civilians are in the steel factory. Tens of 1000s are trying to survive in other parts of the city.
CNN is not in Mariupol but the Reuters news agency found these people cooking outside a residential building on Monday, or chopping wood to make a fire to boil water, some soup and even cook some pancakes. This woman cutting a boy's hair says quote, "they need to quickly fix the water supply problem. How can we live without water? That's horrible." And this woman says that the bombardment,
OLGA, MARIUPOL RESIDENT (through translator): To be honest, we are not well. I have mental problems after airstrikes, that's for sure. I'm really scared. When I hear a plane, I just run away.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
RIVERS: And Jake, even though the Russian general there said that they would allow civilians to leave we're hearing the exact opposite from Ukrainian president. With President Zelenskyy tonight in his in nightly address saying that in fact the Russians are preventing any humanitarian corridors are being opened out of Mariupol, as for tomorrow, still no word as to whether any humanitarian corridors in Mariupol or in any other part of the country will be open. Jake.
TAPPER: Matt Rivers, thank you so much for that report.
We have seen the horrific images from Bucha of mass graves and executions just a few miles down the road. Russian soldiers left a similar path of death and destruction in another town. My visit to Borodianka, that's next.
TAPPER: The world has seen evidence of the war crimes committed by Putin's army in Bucha. But just a few miles down the road is the town of Borodianka. Two weeks ago Russian soldiers were also forced out of there and Ukrainians were able to return but what was left is unrecognizable. I visited Borodianka with my team on Saturday, the destruction takes your breath away.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
TAPPER (voice-over): This was Borodianka before, a thriving blue collar town of nearly 13,000 people just 36 miles from the capital of Kyiv. Playgrounds full of children, neighbors enjoying the local cafes, for the most part, a quiet and peaceful life. And then the Russians began bombing civilian targets, such as residential apartment buildings for a full month. And now Borodianka is a shell of its former self.
Craters replace apartment buildings, an empty playground only filled with the remnants of war, rubble where apartment buildings once stood. A dentist's office with no patients left to treat. Victims of Putin's bombing campaign against Ukrainian civilians.
HALINA TZAPYK, STAYED IN HER HOME WHEN RUSSIA OCCUPIED BORODIANKA (trough translator): The whole month we were sitting for one month from there and from here, it was flying from there and from here. After occupying the town since late February, the Russians did not hold back as the Ukrainian army forced them to retreat, making sure to leave their mark.
TAPPER (on camera): This neighborhood in Borodianka has just been completely and utterly destroyed from the unemployment office over there to the municipal building, the mayor's office there, the police station there.
This was a memorial to Ukrainian soldiers who had fought the Russian and pro-Russian separatists in the Donbass region, which began in 2014. The memorial has been completely smashed onto the ground. In fact, the only thing still standing in this immediate area is this memorial right here, this memorial to the soldiers who died fighting in Afghanistan under the Soviets.
(voice-over): And now, roughly two weeks after the Russians withdrew after losing the battle of Kyiv and the surrounding area, people are starting to try to clean up what they can. But what happened here at Borodianka cannot be swept away. There's no running water or electricity. The people who stayed and those who came back are relying on donations of clothing, food and water collected at a local church.
EVHEN HOLYBETS, VOLUNTEER IN BORODIANKA (through translator): Yes, yes, we pack into bags bread then canned food. Everything that is brought here, we pack into these bags equally for everybody. People can choose clothing that they need.
TAPPER (voice-over): A shed of waiting caskets serves as a reminder of what is buried under the wreckage, under the rubble that once was Borodianka.
Halina Tzapyk never left. She survived on food in her own garden. She says her sister left the apartment building just before it was bombed.
TZAPYK (through translator): She left it at 6:00 a.m. and at 8:00 it was already bombed in the morning. It was a bombing from an aircraft. There were many airplanes flying military over our land plots.
TAPPER (voice-over): So many others inside that building which looked like this last summer but no longer exists were not as lucky.
(on camera): Yesterday, they found the bodies of nine people and the day before are 12. All of them hiding in the basement, all of them trying to seek shelter.
(voice-over): Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said what happened here may be worse than what happened in Bucha. So far a city officials say the death toll is 50. But every day firefighters digging through the rubble find more human remains.
(on camera): The firemen just came over and dropped off this notebook that they found in the rubble of the building that used to be here. It's the deed to the building and the apartment records.
The firemen just keep coming over and putting these little bits of the humanity of the people who used to live here as if they're going to come back and claim it, as if any of them survived. I guess a wedding photo.
(voice-over): Lives seemingly on pause about to be reclaimed at any moment but in reality, stopped forever by the savagery of Putin's war.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
TAPPER: It is not clear when, if ever, there will be a full understanding of how many innocent civilians were killed in Borodianka. As the firefighter said every time they try to clean up the rubble they find remains. And this is just one town with this one horrific story among so many from this war.
Coming up, taking on Disney, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, his latest controversial move. Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our politics lead today, Florida lawmakers are back in Tallahassee for a special session after Republican Governor Ron DeSantis vetoed a congressional map passed by the Republican controlled legislature. DeSantis instead proposed a new one, one that would dramatically shift power in North and Central Florida.
CNN's Dianne Gallagher is in Tallahassee. And Dianne, the special session just started. What are Democrats saying about DeSantis's man?
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, they're calling it racist, authoritarian, unconstitutional and really, that's just what I can say on camera here. Democrats say that this proposal from Governor Ron DeSantis would not only add more Republican seats, but it would diminish black representation in Congress for the state of Florida. There are currently five black members of Congress from Florida, four of them are Democrats. And this map proposal would eliminate two of those seats, Representative Val Demings and Al Lawson's seats.
Now, Ron DeSantis says that the reason behind this map and his veto of his own party's approved map was because he wanted a, quote, race neutral map that he felt adhere to the U.S. Constitution. But Democrats have said that not only do they feel that this would be in violation of the Voting Rights Act, but also in violation of Florida's own state Constitution which mandates the protection of those minority districts.
Jake, it will likely pass out of this special session late this week, and then it will likely end up in court.
TAPPER: And Dianne, there's another big story going on in Tallahassee right now. Governor DeSantis is changing the agenda at the special session to include a review of Walt Disney World, and the special status at Walt Disney World has in Florida. Tell us what you're hearing about that.
GALLAGHER: Yes, that special status, it's a special district and essentially allows them to operate as their own government around their Orlando area theme park. This all stems from that so-called Don't Say Gay bill that was signed earlier this year that prevents teachers in schools from talking about gender identity and sexual orientation. Disney spoke out afterward.
And at this point, I spoke to the bill's sponsor, he said that this wasn't necessarily retaliation. But that after Disney did that and said that they were going to stop donating in the state of Florida, that they started looking in to the state's one of the largest attractions and employers and that's where this came from.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RANDY FINE (R), FLORIDA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: I think had Disney not done what they had done, we wouldn't have gone and taken a look at special districts and realized we had this issue with these pre- constitution, special districts. That wouldn't have happened. And that's why I say when you when you kick the bee's nest, sometimes things come out. And that's absolutely happened here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GALLAGHER: Now, Democrats say that this particular bill seems to be in direct opposition of existing statutes, Jake, that would allow the residents of that special district to have to vote to get rid of it. But it does appear that it will pass out.
TAPPER: Interesting. Dianne Gallagher in Tallahassee for us, thank you so much.
Let's discuss. Ramesh, let me start with you. Is Governor DeSantis taking on Disney for the right reasons or it was just because they criticized that legislation? What what do you think?
RAMESH PONNURU, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think politicians motives are always mixed, or at least usually mix. The funny thing about this is that Disney special status and its commingling of government and corporate power has always had these kind of gadfly critics mostly on the left. And now it's the Republican governor, you know, for, I think, pretty straightforward political motivations who is got it in his targets.
TAPPER: So in other words, maybe not the worst thing in the world?
PONNURU: No, I think that there's a strong case that the privileges just don't make sense. And that this has just been something that people have just accepted as a fact of life in Florida politics for decades now. But now all of a sudden, because of the way the politics of DeSantis and Disney have played out, it's up for grabs again.
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But they're not looking at all of the special districts where corporations are given governmental power. In fact, DeSantis made the announcement today. How is this for irony? At the villages, you've been there, it's the most gargantuan retirement community on Earth. And it --
TAPPER: For voter fraud there, by the way.
BEGALA: There is some apparently.
TAPPER: I know, I know.
BEGALA: I --
TAPPER: By the way, keep going. BEGALA: They have the same type of special corporate governmental power, but they tend to be very conservative, so DeSantis isn't going after them. So I just think it's a novel thing going after the largest employer in your state. In my home state of Texas, that Governor essentially closed down the border cost his state, his own state $477 million of economic activity. It's a new Republican strategy, is to attack the economic engines of their states.
PONNURU: People used to want Republicans to be less corporate, now you're seeing it. That's (INAUDIBLE).
TAPPER: Now it's happening.
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: But that's not the only private company that he's mentioned. He also talked about taking Twitter to task --
KUCINICH: -- for this poison pill that their board put in to stop Elon Musk from buying the company. It's that -- I mean, why Florida would have anything to do with that is beyond me, but it does seem to be a message toward perhaps the larger goal for Governor DeSantis, which could be 2024, could be further down the line, but it seems like he's hitting all of these touchstone cultural issues --
KUCINICH: -- that -- and it really seems to be part of a larger, more national, let's say, message.
TAPPER: I do see lots of conservative activists really liking what they see out of Governor DeSantis.
EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Yes, they would like it. I don't see Disney, eliciting a whole lot of sympathy. But just because you can doesn't mean that you should in Governor DeSantis's case, not only on this issue, but also in terms of the redistricting.
I remember last year when Congressman James Comer of Kentucky there was talk about the Republican legislature. They're chewing up Louisville, which is very liberal district and he said don't get cute, because these things can end up in court. It looks like Governor DeSantis is not all that worried about the potential for this ending up in court but it could have other impacts. For instance, it could mobilize the black electorate in Florida who feel put off by this and feel as though they are going to end up without accurate reflective representation.
TAPPER: Right. Well, there are two blank districts, I guess, democratic black districts largely that he's keeping. He's getting rid of two others. And then there's a Republican African-American congressman, too. So it's not like he's getting rid of all of them, right, but he is talking about getting rid of two of them. MCKEND: Right. And he feels as though if there are court challenges, the conservative Supreme Court in Florida is going to support him in this decision, but it's still is --
PONNURU: Or the federal --
PONNURU: -- courts too, because you've got -- I mean, he's making this stand that federal law, Trump's state law when it comes to these sorts of districting issues.
TAPPER: Is --
MCKEND: But politically, it doesn't come without any risk.
PONNURU: That's right.
TAPPER: Right, the backlash. But in terms of the redistricting, I mean, you see this all over the map whether it's Democrats or Republicans, people really just getting super aggressive. Nobody really even trying to hide it anymore. Am I wrong?
BEGALA: No, you're right. New York, a democratic control state looks like they're going to produce a map that's extraordinarily beneficial for their party.
TAPPER: And Illinois got rid of Adam Kinzinger.
BEGALA: Right. Right. I mean, and he's retiring. Very often states will do that when someone is retiring.
TAPPER: He's retiring because we got rid of him.
BEGALA: No, he's retiring because Trump hates him. Trump was going to --
PONNURU: Well, both of these things, I think -- but the big constraint on how aggressive the parties have been on districting has been incumbent protection, because sometimes the incumbents want more of their party's people in their districts, even if that means you have fewer seats that you can contest.
TAPPER: Yes, I'm going to turn into COVID because this afternoon, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra said the Biden administration would likely appeal this judge's ruling to end the mask mandate for public transit. 51 percent of Americans in a poll last month wanted this mandate for transit to go away.
Over and over, we've seen people celebrating on trains, trashing their masks. Do you think the Biden administration runs a risk of pissing off voters, not just Republicans, but also independent voters, even Democrats by insisting on this mask mandate?
KUCINICH: Well, it does seem -- I mean, yes, that's what Secretary Becerra is saying, but you also had Jen Psaki saying that they were waiting to see what DOJ was going to do. And then you had President Biden say, you know, it's up to you whether to wear a mask or not. So they seem to be kind of all over the map. So there is -- and that they're following CDC guidance.
So there seems to be a, you know, a science based. We're going to follow the science. But then there's also political, there's some politics going on here. I know I'm shocking everyone at this table. And they are looking at those polls, they are looking at the backlash to, you know, continuing some of these mask mandates when they said they were going to extend it for two weeks, or whatever it was.
TAPPER: Well it was supposed to expire on May 3rd anyway. I mean, one of the questions is, did the Biden people completely mishandled this in the sense that this is going to end anyway? It was supposed to end May 3rd. Now this Trump appointed judge gets rid of it. And Biden doesn't even get the credit, even if they're not going to challenge it.
MCKEND: Right. Republicans are declaring this a political victory because this feeds into their long standing narrative that Democrats and President Biden in particular have overreached in the pandemic. I will say this, though, this issue doesn't always fall so neatly on political lines. There are perhaps some conservative that are have children, young children who can't get vaccinated who might be worried about this, or, you know, Republicans who have family members with underlying health conditions that maybe don't feel great about getting on a plane without people wearing a mask. So I think the the politics of this are not always so cut and dry.
PONNURU: Yes, that's right. And I totally agree with that. And I think there were also some Democrats who are sick and tired of these mandates, and we're, you know, sort of felt a little liberated if they were on some of these flights where the announcement was made mid- flight. I don't think it has to have been a political loss for the Biden administration. I think the Biden administration, in a way, was let off the hook here, because it could say to some of its most hard- core supporters who want these things to stay on indefinitely.
Look, this is a judge, this is out of our hands. And meanwhile, the public is removed -- is irritant for the public is removed.
BEGALA: Yes, I suspect they're happy with the politics of it for the reasons -- remission and Eva say. But there is a legality here. The CDC, in the eyes of the Biden administration, has got to have the power to impose certain mandates for public health emergencies.
TAPPER: Without worrying about a judge over it.
BEGALA: Without some Trump judge in Florida, throwing it out for the whole country. So there's the authority, the Public Health Authority, I suspect they want to defend. I think they're -- I would be, I can't speak for them. I think I'd be very happy to see the mandate go away right now for politics.
TAPPER: Yes, they didn't get rid of it before I had my nine-hour flight from Germany, but that's another matter. My thanks to the panel.
Coming up, he was poisoned by Putin than jailed for more than a year but he's refusing to give up the fight. A real life thriller is now a gripping film, and that's next.
Hybrid work is here. It's there. It's everywhere. But for someone to be able to work from here. There has to be someone here, making sure every We think is safe secure consistent so login from here or here assured that someone is here ready to fix anything anytime anywhere
TAPPER: Russian opposition leader and fierce Putin critic Alexei Navalny has now been in jail for more than a year. The story of how Navalny ended up there after surviving an alleged murder attempt, and tracking down his own would be assassins is told with the urgency and drama of a spy thriller in the new CNN film, "Navalny." Here's a preview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you come to a room of a comatose patient, you're starting -- you just tell him some news, tell him his story. Alexei, don't worry, you're repurposing (ph). There was a murder attempt. Putin try to kill him with Novichok and he opened his like blue eyes wide and looked at me and said very clear, (foreign language).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on. Poisoned?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't believe it's like he's back. This is Alexei.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Putin supposed to be not so stupid to use this Novichok.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's more than his explosive, his intonation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you want to kill someone, just shoot him. Jesus Christ, like real Alexei. It's impossible to believe it. It's kind of stupid. The whole idea of poisoning with a chemical weapon. This is why -- this is so smart. Because even reasonable people they refuse to believe like, what, come on. Poisoned? Seriously?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: The Kremlin and Russia security services, of course, deny that they played any role in Navalny's poisoning just like they denied they were going to invade Ukraine.
Joining us now is CNN Senior International Correspondent Matthew Chance who has reported extensively on Russia and Putin for years. Matthew, good to see you. Alexei Navalny is in prison. He has served a little bit more than a year of an 11-year sentence. And now Russia is waging this horrific war against neighboring Ukraine. What role does Navalny play in Russia today?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a good question, because it was sort of debatable. I mean, I've covered Navalny for many years as well. It's debatable what role he played before the war in Ukraine, because it was never entirely clear just how many Russians, how many millions of Russians supported his anti- corruption campaign. He was certainly attracting a lot of attention with his investigations into the wealthy -- unexplained wealth of Russian officials and, you know, particularly, of course, Vladimir Putin. And that made him a lot of enemies in the country, not least of whom is Vladimir Putin.
But I think, you know, what's important about Russia, about Alexei Navalny now, as we are sort of, in this new phase, really, of Russia's relationship with the rest of the world, in the middle of this horrific invasion of Ukraine is, you know, he is a reminder that many, many Russians do not support Vladimir Putin. There are many millions of people in the country who are fundamentally opposed to the regime of the -- of Vladimir Putin right now and to the way the Kremlin operates, and of course, the actions it takes overseas.
And I think, you know, sometimes in the global coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, the conflict there, the invasion, and of the massive sanctions that have been imposed against Russia, because of this, you know, obviously very justifiable given the human rights abuses that have been taking place, there's a tendency to forget that Russia isn't monolithic, that there are millions of people inside the country who are, you know, who have bravely stood against the kind of policies that Russia has been embarked on here in Ukraine, and everywhere else in Ukraine and elsewhere, of course, around the world as well as domestically, Jake.
TAPPER: Matthew, what does the future hold for Navalny, do you think? Do you see him eventually getting out of prison playing a role in Russian politics?
CHANCE: It's not clear. I mean, look, I mean, we're -- because we're in this whole new world of Russia right now, I think that, you know, on the one hand, you know, Alexei Navalny continues to be a reminder, if we needed one, or at least a foreshadow of the kind of ruthlessness that Vladimir Putin is prepared to adopt, and the government of Russia is prepared to adopt towards his enemies, towards people it ceases as traitors.
This very much foreshadow along with the broader crackdown on independent media and on dissidents inside Russia very much foreshadow the conflict in Ukraine. Now looking back on it, but there's still a big question mark hanging over what role Alexei Navalny is going to be able to play in the future, what role Vladimir Putin is going to have in the future.
Certainly, it seems that, you know, any prospect of Russia rehabilitating gets sort of itself, you know, having sanctions lifted in some significant way. It looks pretty unlikely doesn't it at the moment with Vladimir Putin at the helm. But, you know, it's still not entirely clear whether the future of Russia is going to be Vladimir Putin and the people around Vladimir Putin, whether the future of Russia is going to be the sort of more sort of liberal anti-corruption campaigners who are, you know, personified. Of course, and led by Alexei Navalny.
TAPPER: Matthew Chance, thank you so much.
Be sure to tune in the all new CNN film "Navalny" premieres Sunday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN. Netflix just did something that is not done since 2011. It might mean bad news for some users. That's next.
TAPPER: In our money lead, your friends might appreciate you sharing your Netflix password but Netflix? Not so much. In a first quarter earnings report, the streaming giant lost 200,000 global subscribers. The last time Netflix lost subscribers was October 2011. Along with a count sharing, Netflix blames increased competition in the streaming arena and the company expects to lose even more 2 million in the next quarter. As a result, Netflix stock tanked more than 20 percent in after-hours trading.
Analysts say to expect a crackdown on password sharing. The company estimates Netflix is being shared with 100 million households.
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 LEAD, I'm not sure if you notice, but if you ever miss one, you can listen to THE LEAD wherever you get your podcasts.
Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer in a place I like to call "THE SITUATION ROOM." See you tomorrow.