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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Secret Service Sources: Trump Demanded To Be Taken To Capitol Jan. 6, Berated Protective Detail; NYT: Organizations Close To Trump Helping Pay Legal Fees Of Witnesses Before Committee; FDA Panel To Advise On How COVID Vaccines Should Be Updated; Russia Is Wearing Down Ukrainian Forces In The Donbas. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired July 01, 2022 - 17:00   ET



PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: WNBA Superstar Brittney Griner so called trial began in Moscow today. Russian Prosecutors accuse her of smuggling less than a gram of cannabis oil into the country. And American officials say she has been wrongfully detained, but her family says the U.S. government isn't doing enough to help bring her home and they say they fear she has been used as a political pawn. As CNN's Fred Pleitgen reports, Russian officials insist her arrest is not politically motivated.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Brittney Griner handcuffed as she was led into the courtroom. Cameras were not allowed inside the trial where the WNBA star was read the charges of allegedly trying to smuggle drugs into Russia. Her lawyer saying Griner is in strong spirits.

ALEXANDER BOYKOV, BRITTNEY GRINER'S LAWYER: She's a bit worried, but she's just tough, tough lady. And I think that she will manage.

PLEITGEN (on camera): What do you think are the chances she can get out? That you can get an acquittal?

BOYKOV: I would not commit that.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Brittney Griner was detained at a Moscow airport on February 17. Prosecutors today claiming she was carrying two vaping cartridges with a total of about 0.7 grams of cannabis oil inside them. A crime in Russia that can carry a sentence of up to 10 years in a prison colony.

The U.S. considers Brittney Griner as being wrongfully detained. The chars (ph) aid affairs of the U.S. Embassy was inside the courtroom and called on Russia to release Brittney Griner immediately.

ELIZABETH ROOD, DEPUTY CHIEF OF MISSION, U.S. EMBASSY MOSCOW: Wrongful detention is unacceptable wherever it occurs. The United States government at the very highest levels is working very hard to bring Ms. Griner as well as all wrongfully detained U.S. citizens safely home.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Brittney Griner's trial starts as tensions between the U.S. and Russia have reached a boiling point, not just over Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The U.S. is also calling for the immediate release of former Marine Paul Whelan who was sentenced to 16 years in Russian prison for alleged espionage. The U.S. called his conviction politically motivated, the Kremlin rejects that and today also said Brittney Griner's trial was not political.

DMITRY PESKOV, KREMLIN SPOKESPERSON (through translator): You know, I cannot comment on the actions of the Russian court. We don't have the right to do that and never do. I can only deal with the facts and the facts say that prominent athlete was detained in possession of prohibited substances that contained drugs."

PLEITGEN (voice-over): After about two and a half hours, Britney Griner's trial was adjourned for another week, and she was led away handcuffed again, as her lawyers and U.S. authorities' fight to bring the basketball star home as soon as possible.


PLEITGEN: And Pamela, Secretary State Blinken tweeted about all this today as well. He once again said that the State Department, he himself, have no higher priority than bringing Brittney Griner and other, what the U.S. called, wrongfully detained Americans, like for instance, Paul Whelan home as fast as possible. But there are two things that do need to be said. On the one hand, trials like this in Russia can go on for a very long time and not many people in Russia are acquitted, Pamela.

BROWN: Fred Pleitgen in Moscow, thank you.

130 days, that is how long Brittney Griner has been behind bars in Russia. And her wife spoke exclusively to CNN's Abby Phillip and opened up about what she's hearing from her wife and what she still wants to hear from the U.S. government.


ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR AND SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Tell me about what you've been able to hear from Brittney in this time. There was the call that didn't happen. What have you been able to hear from her while she's been in detention?

CHERELLE GRINER, WIFE OF DETAINED WNBA STAR BRITTNEY GRINER: So, I haven't really been able to hear anything that brings me the most assurance about her wellbeing to that degree because the call would have given me that. So I don't know how well she's doing.

PHILLIP: Do you trust that the maximum amount of effort is being put forward to bring BG home?

GRINER: No, I don't and I hate to say that because I do trust that they are -- that the persons working on this are very genuine people, that I do believe. But I don't think the maximum amount of effort is being done because, again, the rhetoric and the actions don't match, you know, when you have a situation where BG can call our government, the Embassy 11 times and that phone call don't get answered. You don't have my dress (ph) at that point until I see actions that are in BG's best interests. It would have been in her best interest for her phone calls have been answered, it would be in her best interest for her to be back on U.S. soil. So until I see things like that, no.


PHILLIP: I know that you've had some conversations with the Secretary of State and with other officials, but you want to talk to President Biden, right?

GRINER: The most beneficial thing that I've been told is that, you know, you meet with President Biden, you know, he has that power. He is a person, you know, that, ultimately will make that decision for BG to come home. And so, while everybody else wants to tell me they care, I would love for him to tell me he cares.

PHILLIP: What do you want to tell him? If you were to sit in front of him, what would you say speaking directly to him?

GRINER: Well, honestly the first thing is, I want to humanize my wife to him.

PHILLIP: There's talk of prisoner swaps being the thing that needs to happen. Is that what you think should be done? Do you think that the administration should say, we will swap who you want for Brittney?

GRINER: To be very honest with you, I don't really listen to much of the talk about the how in measures of, you know, what is necessary to get her home. But if that's what's necessary, then yes, do it.

PHILLIP: What do you want the world to know that your wife is facing in this so-called trial that she's about to face?

GRINER: Well, that's a really good question. Honestly, I want people to try and just put themselves in her shoes, you know, and just think about the fact that, you know, this is not our typical system. So, BG is not walking into a situation where there is a balance of justice, she's walking into a situation where their judicial system has a 99 percent conviction rate. So, in their system, there is no innocent, and their system is guilty.

PHILLIP: Have you seen any of the pictures that have been released this week of her?

GRINER: I have, I have.

PHILLIP: What do you think?

GRINER: It was very disheartening, you know. And honestly, I told you I like to, you know, be very frank with my wife, you know, and authentic when I do write her, you know, and I told her, I said, I saw a picture. And honestly, for a second, I thought he was insane. I said, you know, and it kind of, you know, took me aback. And so, I told her, I was like, you know, I just want to tell you one thing, I said, if you are losing your mind, just be gracious with yourself because you're human and that's OK. And that when you come back, you know, we will love you back whole. And I said, if you aren't going insane, you know, just do me a favor and, you know, just try and keep whatever integrity you can control by not allowing them to depict you in ways that are not really, you know, your current state, I said, so, forget to put a hoodie on and cover your head, do it, you know, don't allow them to try and strip you completely to that degree because at the end of the day they are controlling the media over there. So I try not to take it as just truth, but it did make me worried.

PHILLIP: Has she had a chance to respond?

GRINER: She did.

PHILLIP: OK. What she say?

GRINER: Well, she laughed. She did. She said, babe, I promise I'm not a lunatic yet. She said, I haven't completely gone crazy, she said, but I was very shocked because when I turned that corner it was over 100 news outlets with cameras waiting right there. And she told me that she was also a very exhausted because, again, this is not a normal process.

So BG has happened to travel over five hours round trip when she goes to court in a very, very, very tiny cage with her knees bent, feet up to the ground, because it's not big enough for her to fit in. So, she is experiencing a lot the days before she walks into court.

And so, she was just, like, it was just a lot. I was in a terrible mood. My body was hurting. And just I was shocked when I turned that corner.

PHILLIP: Yes. When she first disappeared back in February, when did you first know that something was wrong?

GRINER: It was the minute I woke up, you know, it was just too many messages. And the minute that I clicked on it, you know, she's like, babe wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up, and I'm just like, what is going on? And she's like, they have me in this room. I don't know what's going on. You know, I'm like, who were they? Like, what room (ph)?

PHILLIP: You get lawyer had went on.

GRINER: To get my lawyer had went on. I'm like, they, you never use they, like, who are they, like, and that was my --


GRINER: -- first question to her. Who are they? And what room, you know? And once I got the answer to those questions that they were TSA agents, I think that's what you call them, so you know, I called her agent and I'm like, I need you to get somebody there now. Like, wherever my wife is at, you need to get somebody there now.

PHILLIP: Do you think she's being used as a political pawn by Russia?

GRINER: Honestly, all this stuff is so new to me. I didn't even understand what a political pawn was for a minute.



GRINER: And you know, somebody else may feel that way.

PHILLIP: But I mean she's a American. She's a black woman. She's a lesbian woman. All of those things. I mean, when you realize kind of the context around that, what did you think?

GRINER: It was a big pill to swallow. I just didn't understand it. Like, it felt like a movie for me. You know, I didn't understand these terms and these words in my mind.

BG is just my best friend, you know, so like, I know, she's a big deal, but did I ever think that she could be big enough to where somebody would want to use her to get something else? No, you know, so it was really hard for me to grasp that, you know. But then I realized like, the answer to that question is yes, you know, like, yes.

Can they get something in return for BG? Yes, they can. Are they willing to do that? Yes. And at this point, I want them to, whatever you want, please ask.

PHILLIP: There are a lot of families who are going through what you are going through. Paul Whelan is still in Russia. Trevor Reed just returned. What has your connection been like with those other families of wrongfully detained Americans?

GRINER: They were so loving. I just met, you know, some very genuine broken people. And they were you know, arms wide open for me for support in any type of way throughout the process.

And the first thing they said was, you know, do not be quiet about this. Do not let them forget about your loved one. They will forget about your loved one. We are three years in, we are four years in, and my heart was breaking hearing it because I pray to God, you know, three years is not passed by and BG is still wrongfully detained in Russia.


BROWN: And now as we reported earlier, this hour, Griner's trial has only just begun. We'll see her again in a Russian courtroom next Thursday.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says he has no higher priority than bringing Griner home, along with other wrongfully detained Americans including Paul Whelan. You can see more of Abby Phillips incredible interview on "Inside Politics" Sunday morning at 8:00 a.m. Eastern.

And new information about the pressure campaign aimed at January 6 committee star witness Cassidy Hutchinson. Plus, why the FDA wants the COVID vaccine manufacturers to make adjustments to the booster shots for the fall.



BROWN: Topping our politics lead, multiple sources tell CNN that Cassidy Hutchinson, the January 6 committee's now star witness told the committee that she had been contacted by someone attempting to influence her testimony. And now, according to multiple people familiar with the committee's work, CNN has learned that messenger was an intermediary for former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, her former boss. A spokesman for Meadows denies that.

But let's discuss. Former Republican Congressman Joe Walsh, I'm going to bring you in for this. Hi everyone, by the way. How big of a deal is this?

JOE WALSH (R), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE, ILLINOIS: It should be a big deal. But in the grand scheme of things, it may not be. But Pamela, I end this week still with this image of this 26-year-old courageous woman who sat in stood in front of the world and contrast that with Mark Meadows. What a coward. He's not alone. But the fact that this all went on and he did nothing and she's prepared and has spoken. It's really impressive.

BROWN: Yes, quite a dichotomy.

I want to go to you, Xochitl --


BROWN: -- on also another revelation that came out from this hearing that has been under scrutiny. CNN has actually learned that new details from the two Secret Service sources about Hutchinson's recounting of the episode in the SUV where Trump was berating and launching at his protective detail. Now, the sources say that multiple agents told them what happened, including the driver of the SUV, but the sources said nobody mentioned being assaulted by the president.

How important is it, though, that this is corroborated? That this story is corroborated, right? I mean, the granular details may end up being different from the, you know, dramatized version of the story that was going around. But the bottom line is, the overall premise was corroborated and that the President wanted to go to the Capitol.

HINOJOSO: Yes, I think it is the important facts here. And I think I agree that she was extremely courageous coming out. I think that you will see a bunch of people try to discredit her, you've seen that over the last few days. And the reality is, is that you will see information come out in the next few weeks that either backs up her story and that delivers more information. But what the committee has been very clear about is they want everyone to come forward. And so, people do have more information than that, they should come forward and say that. There are pieces of the puzzle, I think, that are missing, and the committee wants to hear that. But I do think --


HINOJOSO: -- it is important -- it was important to hear from her testimony. It was pretty damning testimony. And I think that's why you see Republicans tried to silence her --

BROWN: But why didn't committee -- OK. So, the committee had to know that she was -- that Trump allies were going to try and discredit her, right? Was it a mistake for the committee not to have corroborated that beforehand, because it was hearsay, right?

WALSH: Yes. And I don't even know it -- to me, it's almost a distraction.

BROWN: Yes, right.

WALSH: The big story is the president of the United States --

BROWN: Exactly.

WALSH: -- knew his supporters were armed, he knew they were going to the Capitol, and he told them to, that to me was the big news.

RYAN LIZZA, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: And I think -- but that, you know, that is what makes your question really important is this committee which has been incredibly professional, these hearings, I think have been better than most people expected have been riveting to a lot of the country, ratings have been pretty good. This was perhaps a mistake because anything that this committee puts out that can be questioned can be proven to be not accurate. It's undermines this incredibly brave witness --

BROWN: Right.

LIZZA: -- who has real incredible amount of really important facts on the table. But I completely agree with you, the details of what really happened in that, did he really grab, did he just --

BROWN: Right.

LIZZA: -- get angry and throw his arms up or do he really launch for someone and grab the string wheel, doesn't -- that matters as much as like whether it was ketchup or mustard on the wall when he threw the hamburger --


BROWN: Right.

LIZZA: -- in the private dining room. What matters is the -- is knowing this crowd was armed --


LIZZA: -- and wanting to go to the Capitol.


LIZZA: To me, that was the most explosive thing.

ASTEAD HERNDON, POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": It's the grand irony of these hearings largely is that, you know, much of what we have seen, in terms of damning behavior from the president happened out loud. We all saw it on that day. We were getting details now that we know go further in terms of what he was doing, And that was private settings. But I don't think there's any question that we'll witness that we saw this week, a push this further.

And I think, in the journalistic sense, in the kind of first draft of history since really gave us a clearer picture that the President both knew the risks and the violent risks that the mob have proposed on January 6. And not only did he not care about those risks, he actually saw them as advantageous to him to achieve his political goals. And so, I think that there's certainly the larger takeaway from this witness.

But I do think, it is -- to Ryan's point, this committee has to know that the Republicans are looking for any way to demean and to discredit --

BROWN: Right.

HERNDON: -- these witnesses. And so, it is no surprise that we have seen kind of Trump world mobilize on this specific detail, because what they are trying to signal to the rest of the country is that this is a partisan kind of witch hunt to use the terms of Donald Trump, and therefore it can all be discarded. Now, we know actually that is not good enough.

BROWN: And trying decision didn't have credibility when in fact, most of what she said was firsthand accounts.

HERNDON: Exactly.

BROWN: This was I believe, one of the only, if not the only hearsay incident that she recounted. But of course, that is what they're going after. And then of course, there was a letter from that -- one of the lawyers said that he had actually written.

But I want to get to the payments, right? Because there's a lot of scrutiny, Astead, on who's paying these lawyers representing the witnesses? Your colleagues today are reporting that former President Trump's political organization and his allies are footing the bill for at least a dozen committee witnesses. What are the implications of that?

HERNDON: Yes, no, I'm going to leave that to the -- I mean, there's a real kind of ethics question here, of course. We know that the subject now of this investigation is going out of his way to kind of provide a cover or legal defense fees for those witnesses. I think that that obviously provides a legal and ethical question, but it plays into what we have seen from Donald Trump politically around his allies for the last five, six years, it has been a very clear message to him, even from when -- go back to when he was talking to his supporters and saying, oh, when you -- if you've faced legal fees or beat someone up, I'll pay for them.

This is someone who has made clear to anyone around him in a kind of Mafia s a way that if you stay on the team, I will support you. And that is free from fact, that is free from the ethics that we know come with the office of the president. And that goes beyond, I think, the baseline of what we know is the truth of this hearing, which is that there was an assault on democracy. And so, that kind of staying on the team has become more important to -- for this president and those around him than kind of following through on the tenets of democracy. But that has been true for Donald Trump --

BROWN: Right.

HERNDON: -- since the day he came down that elevator.

BROWN: Right. I mean, so much of the witness tampering in the language of like, when I was covering the Mueller investigation, it was the same kind of stuff to Michael Cohen --


BROWN: -- and others. It hasn't changed. The playbook essentially hasn't changed. Ryan, you sat down and spoke with Alyssa Farah Griffin, as well as Republican strategist Tim Miller. And Griffin says that she was instrumental in helping Hutchinson break away from the grip of Trump.


BROWN: Well, tell us more about it.

LIZZA: Well, she -- look, she was best friends with Cassidy. Alyssa -- and we've all seen Alyssa on CNN talking about this as well. They were best friends in the White House very, very close. Alyssa is a little bit older than her, but they were sort of in that same kind of generation of Trump staffers in the White House.

Alyssa resigned from the White House in December of 2020 in disgust because she saw what Trump was doing post-election and stayed in touch with Cassidy. I think not so much as Cassidy became a witness in these hearings and had a Trump affiliated lawyer, her lawyer was the ethics lawyer in the Trump White House. She did, I believe three sessions with that lawyer behind closed doors with the committee.


LIZZA: We've seen a lot of the videos in her hearing. And then she broke with that lawyer. She fired him essentially. And she got someone different.

And Alyssa was very, I think instrumental in that period, in sort of going back to Liz Cheney, according to Alyssa and saying, hey, Cassidy has more she wants to tell you all. And I think that led to the fourth interview and, of course, the dramatic -- all the hearing.

BROWN: And the dramatic surprise hearing.

LIZZA: Yes, and I think this is sort of just filling in between the lines here. I think most of what we saw in that hearing of Cassidy's personal testimony that day, which was some of the new more dramatic pieces of information. That was the new stuff, the stuff that they played in the videotape clips from her original three depositions with older lawyer.

I think if you if you look at the those two sets of how they unfurl the information, the newer sort of more dramatic stuff was the stuff from -- where she said, I have more I need to tell and I'm going to do it with this new lawyer. And so, if you remember --


BROWN: Yes. That's interesting because I was wondering when I was watching, OK, what's the new information?

LIZZA: Yes, mostly they use clips from her deposition. But then she obviously personally testified to some other things. And I think, you know, she had some -- you know, when you go into a deposition, if you have a lawyer, they'll basically advise you, you don't add anything, right? Answer the questions, don't add anything. If you want to offer us another level of cooperation, you start thinking about and you think, you know what, my lawyer was like telling me not to give you this because you never asked.



BROWN: I think that's a really important point. It's not that she was like lying to the committee or say --

LIZZA: Absolutely.

BROWN: -- it's the way that these goes when you're with a lawyer and things changed and she brought more information as we heard.

Thank you all so much. I really appreciate it.

LIZZA: Thanks, Pamela.

BROWN: And you can hear the rockets in the distance as Russia closes in a key Ukrainian region. We are in the trenches on the frontlines coming up.



BROWN: In our health lead, the CDC says about a third of the U.S. population lives in a county with high COVID-19 community levels. That's a jump from last week, when less than a quarter of the Americans lives -- lives in such an area share that had stayed consistent for about a month. CNN Elizabeth Cohen joins us live to explain. So Elizabeth, what is the significance of this? And what is the CDC recommending?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: So Pamela, you don't need to be an epidemiologist to know that there is a lot of COVID out there. Certainly I think everyone knows someone who's had it recently, or maybe had it yourself.

So let's take a look at a map of the United States. When you look at these communities that are in red, they're experiencing high transmission, that's about a third of the country and when you look at it as a population bases.

Theoretically, well, not even theoretically, the CDC says people in those communities should be wearing masks. But I will tell you that you just have to ask people in those communities, I don't think they are adhering to that advice in any significant way. But technically, that is what the CDC tells them to do.

BROWN: The FDA is advising vaccine manufacturers to change the composition of the COVID booster shot for the fall. Explain what this means.

COHEN: Right. And so these pharmaceutical companies have been -- Moderna and Pfizer have been working on boosters for the fall because we're expecting yet more COVID. And they told the FDA, I'm sorry, the FDA told the companies adding Omicron. Now they're saying add in something specifically for BA.4 and 5. When you see these numbers, Pamela, you will understand why they told them to do that.

In the week of June 18, 37 percent of all strains out there in the U.S. were BA.4 and 5, which is a sub variant of Omicron. It's still at Omicron. Now it's 52 percent. That's in one week. So that's a huge jump.

And so they said look, these two strains, obviously are winners. They know how to go out there and beat the other strains put it in the shot.

BROWN: I want to ask you about hospitalizations, the numbers are rising there are around 30,000 But have nearly doubled over the past few months. Is this something public health experts are concerned about?

COHEN: Yes, certainly seeing rising cases definitely makes people concerned. I mean, take those rising hospitalizations rather. Take a look at this. On May 2 until now the number of hospitalizations has risen dramatically.

And yes, that is of concern, especially since people have just gotten very lax about wearing masks and other kinds of mitigation efforts. And Pamela, I know it's -- we sort of feel like we're past COVID. 300 Americans are dying every day of COVID.


COHEN: 300 American lives lost every day. I know it's not in the thousands like it was at some point. But still, that's a lot of people.

BROWN: That is a lot. And it's important to be reminded of that the reality of COVID to this day. Really quickly, vaccination rates among children have lagged behind adults. But since children under five became eligible last month, we're actually seeing some positive data on that front. Tell us about that.

COHEN: We are. So if you look at the population overall vaccinations are indeed way up. When you take a look at these numbers, you say wow, last week, it was 40,000. This week, it's 76,000. That's now 67 percent of the population is fully vaccinated.

But that jump largely is because children under the age of five were allowed to get vaccinated. So when you look at vaccinations by age, you can still see that it is largely older groups that have those really good numbers, the 91 percent that's, you know, the 82 percent. There still needs to be more of an effort to vaccinate younger Americans. Pamela?

BROWN: Absolutely. Elizabeth Cohen, thank you.

COHEN: Thanks.

BROWN: Military families forced to drink water poisoned by a fuel leak what the Navy knew and when they knew it.



BROWN: In our world lead, three assassination attempts on pro-Russian officials unoccupied areas of southern Ukraine seem to show a growing Ukrainian resistance and U.S. officials think Putin doesn't have enough forces in that area to assert full control. But in the East fighting back is less of an option.

CNN's Phil Black reports in Sloviansk, a city with fresh scars from the war in 2014. Now surrounded by Russian positions and filled with terrified exhausted Ukrainians.


PHIL BLACK, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These Ukrainian scientists know it won't be long now. The Russians are getting closer, firing heavy munitions into this dense forest every day.

Vladimir shows us where constables and much bigger rounds have fallen close to the account. Incoming fire booms steadily nearby.

As Mykhailo proudly shows us the advanced anti-tank weapons supplied by Western allies. They were hugely effective earlier in the war. But they're not the weapons Ukraine needs most for this fight in the east.

You can hear it, Mykhailo says, that every one of our heavy shots they make 10 or 20. It's because we lack artillery. Outgunned by the Russians. Outnumbered too.

Of course they're coming, Maxim says, and there are many more of them than us.


The fighters positioned in this forest a short distance from Russian lines are all volunteers who signed up when the war started. For weeks, they've been waiting, ready to carry out one job to attack any Russian convoys trying their luck on a nearby road.

(on camera): If, when the Russians decide to move through and take this territory, it is unlikely these soldiers will ever see them not up close. They will just feel more of the same heavy weapons artillery. The rocket fire. The big heavy weapons that Russia refusing to drive Ukrainian forces back steadily, slowly across this region.

(voice-over): Russia's big weapons don't just fall in the forest. Sloviansk a key city in the Donbas is now within easy range. Here, Russia's artillery destroyed a local business. Six people outside a supermarket and bus stop were injured when cluster bombs dropped around them.

Bomblets also scattered over this apartment complex, killing a man and a pet. Terrifying many more people.

Valentina says the explosions blue debris over her bed. Every night she tries to block out the noise of war with a pillow.

In Bakhmut, southeast of Slavyansk, the explosions are even greater in number and power, tearing apart people's homes as they huddled beneath them in basements.

(on camera): The Russian advance on Bakhmut is only a short drive from this road. Almost every home still has someone living in it. Almost every home has felt Russian firepower. But the people here still reluctant to leave.

Marina feels she has nowhere to go, but the strain of staying is unbearable. She says we don't have gas. We don't have power. We don't have water. But we only want the shooting to stop.


BLACK: Pamela, with its (INAUDIBLE) and it's no and lack of concern for civilian suffering rushes artillery, its unmatched artillery is looking like an unstoppable force here in the Donbas as it endlessly pounds, Ukraine's defensive positions and communities as well. It adds to a grinding sense of inevitability here. The fight is so unequal, that Russia can be slowed down, but its goal of conquering this whole region for the moment. Well, it looks like that can't be stopped. Pamela.

BROWN: All right, Phil Black in Ukraine. Thank you, Phil. And now to our buried lead a spotlight on a story that doesn't always get the attention it deserves. The Pentagon now admitting to a series of failures that led to families living on a naval base to drink and bathe and water contaminated with fuel.

Now this started more than a year ago at the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility in Hawaii. A fuel leak there got into a nearby well with hundreds of people suffering significant health effects. CNN's Oren Lieberm'ann at the Pentagon. Now Oren, the navy investigation found one mistake after another here.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Pamela. The leak we heard about, the leak that made news in sick in these families happened in late November of last year. But the process the Navy found after command investigation, the series and cascade of failures that led to that point started much earlier. Take a look at this timeline.

The first leak was in early May. That's when workers operating there tried to transfer of fuel but did so in a way that serves the pressure in the line and cause the pipe to burst at two joints, causing a leak of fuel. They thought it was only 1,500 gallons. The investigation found it was 20,000 gallons. The vast majority of that fuel and this is between May and November of last year was held in fuel retention pipes as part of a fire suppression system.

But that system those pipes were made of plastic PVC pipes, and it sagged on November 28th of last year as a worker had an underground passenger cart moving through, it hit a valve on one of those pipes causing that fuel to gush out for a couple of days the Navy didn't think the water had reached or rather the fuel had reached the groundwater.

But by just over a week later on November 28 of last year, the Navy shut down the facility announcing a short time later that it wouldn't just be a temporary shutdown, but they would permanently closed the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, that's after hundreds were sticking in the area there.

The problems were so bad. The lack of training and exercises to prepare for this was so egregious. Here's what the Navy wrote. The deficiencies endured due to seams in accountability and a failure to learn from prior incidents that falls unacceptably short of Navy standards for leadership, ownership and the safeguarding of our communities.

Pamela, there is still an investigation into what administrative and disciplinary actions will be taken, given the language there that harsh language, it seems as if there will be commanders and others held accountable for the series of failures.

[17:45:10] BROWN: All right, CNN's Oren Liebermann at the Pentagon forest. Thank you. Well, the woman minding your own business is brutally attacked for brushing off a man's advances. What police are doing now to stop similar attacks and why a lot of women say it won't work.


BROWN: And we're back with our world lead, the vicious attack last month on a woman who refused a man's advances. The beating caught on video setting of a firestorm of reaction with many saying this is the reality for women throughout China.


CNN's Selina Wang reports from Beijing on the stepped up police response. We do want to warn you the story contains images that some may find disturbing.


SELINA WANG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This brutal attack on women at a restaurant in northern China last month triggered nationwide rage and despair. And this is how the government is reacting to the incident in Tangshan City, amassing an army of police to crack down on crime. Sending brigades of armed police to patrol the streets at night going into bars, restaurants, outdoor food markets.

Interrupting groups eating outside with loudspeakers telling men no fighting, no beating especially of women. SWAT teams hovering over women without male companions. Women on Chinese social media mocked the excessive show of force one wrote, This is just for show, it doesn't solve any real problems. Another said, we don't need men's protection. What we need is a safer and fairer society.

The graphic surveillance video from last month shows a man making an unwanted advance towards a woman after she pushes him away. The assault escalates into shocking brutality, with multiple men taking and beating the women with bottles and chairs.

This is believed to be an image of one of the two women who was hospitalized after the attack. Authorities claimed the two women are still in the hospital recovering from quote, minor injuries, denying rumors that some of the women died.

Police arrested all nine people involved in the attack. Several of them had criminal histories, victims of criminal activity in Tangshan seize the moment to flood the local police station.

This man says he's 86 years old and has been waiting in line for hours. This man says it's been seven years since he reported his case, but still no progress. They hope the national attention will pressure police to solve their long ignored cases.

Online, people rushed to do the same, holding up their ID cards to prove the authenticity of their claims and call out their perpetrators names. This man says friends on the internet, please uphold justice for me. Another woman shared footage of her boyfriend violently attacking her when she was seven months pregnant, pinning her down and then attempt she says to kill her baby.

Another says gang members broke into his bakery a year ago. He shows surveillance footage of them destroying his shop. He says the criminals have been harassing him and his family ever since.

This woman a bar singer says in May gang members beat her and her colleagues and locked them in a cage for 16 hours. Police say they are investigating all three of those cases. State media says gangsters and drunken men are to blame for the restaurant attack.

While reports linking the case to sexism or systemic violence against women have been swiftly censored.

LIANG XIAOWEN, CHINESE FEMINIST ACTIVIST: By framing this incident as a single incident, that's merely (INAUDIBLE) violence. The government avoided the problems within their system. This is the tip of the iceberg. There are so many other incidents that are happening every day. The Chinese woman are actually demanding a systemic change.

WANG: In recent years, authorities have tried to stamp out feminist voices seeing the less threats to social stability. As police parade across the country to show they're taking crime seriously, the government squashes outrage over sexual harassment and gender based violence.


WANG: And Pamela, Chinese authorities are blatantly using COVID controls to block journalists from covering the story even though Tangshan hasn't reported any COVID cases in weeks. Even state media journalists are being harassed after traveling there. But what's disturbing to so many women here is that the role of gender and sexism and this attack is being erased. Pamela.

BROWN: So disturbing. Our thanks to Selina Wang for that report.

What Simone Biles, Steve Jobs, John McCain and Megan Rapinoe all have in common. That's next.



BROWN: It is the highest civilian honor and today the White House announced 17 people will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The recipients include Simone Biles, the most decorated American gymnast and history. Biles has also been an advocate for victims of sexual abuse recently testifying before Congress about the FBI's mishandling of the investigation into Larry Nasser sexual abuse of hundreds of female athletes.

Another Olympic gold medalist Megan Rapinoe has also been recognized. The two-time World Cup champion has been a big part of the long fight for gender pay equality.

And Diane Nash is a civil rights icon. She is a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and worked closely with Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. to organize important civil rights campaigns, like the lunch counter citizens.

Also Apple's co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs has been recognized. During his time at Apple, he changed the way the world worked, communicated, listen to music and watched movies.

Well, President Biden will hold a ceremony for the new recipients next week.

And before we go, we want to welcome the newest member of the lead family Ella Rose Tajera was born at 10:59 this morning weighing in a healthy six pounds and six ounces. She is so precious, and I can't believe Veronica looks as amazing as she does just after giving birth. Mom and baby are doing great. We're told The Lead is sending lots of love and congratulations to our producer Veronica, her husband Dax and of course big sister Sophia as they become a family of four.


And be sure to tune them in this Sunday morning to State of the Union. Dana Bash talks to South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, plus Republican congressman, and January 6 committee member Adam Kinzinger. It's at 9:00 a.m. and noon Eastern.

I'm Pamela Brown in for Jake Tapper. Have a great Fourth of July weekend. Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in the Situation Room.