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Silicon Valley Bank Shutdown With $209B In Total Assets; Another Norfolk Southern Train Derails In Alabama; Invitation To Trump To Testify Signals Indictment Could Come Soon; DeSantis Hints At Presidential Ambitions With Iowa Visit; Two Storm-Related Fatalities Reported In California; Climate Activists In Alaska And Beyond Lead Effort To Stop Oil Drilling Project. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired March 10, 2023 - 16:00   ET


ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: A new urgent warning about defective wheels as freight trains keep running off the tracks.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Loose wheels under scrutiny after three Norfolk Southern train wrecks in five weeks. The clean-up from one revealing a potential problem with a specific type of rail car.

Plus, the alleged affair and hush money scheme that could trigger charges against Donald Trump, pitting the former president against his former attorney, Michael Cohen.


MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: Knowing Donald as well as I do, understand that he doesn't tell the truth.



HILL: And rushing waters. Roads washed away, a flood emergency in effect at this hour for parts of California. The warning to residents, move to higher ground now.


Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Erica Hill in today for Jake Tapper.

We begin this afternoon with our money lead, of the rollercoaster in the markets. Taking a look there at the Dow, just closing down 343, 344 points.

CNN's Matt Egan joining us now.

So, Matt, this slide being driven by the second biggest bank failure in U.S. history. What happened?

MATT EGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erica, this happened so fast. It's stunning. Silicon Valley Bank shut down by California regulators after the stock crashed by 60 percent yesterday after the bank said it needed to rapidly raise cash.

This is easily the biggest bank failure since Washington Mutual fell apart in 2008 during the financial crisis. Now, Silicon Valley Bank, if you haven't heard of it, it is a major lender to tech start-ups.

The FDIC says that depositors that have $250,000 or less, they are insured here. They will get their money. They will get access to their money as soon as Monday morning.

But we know that some people, some entities, some start-ups, they have more than $250,000, and it's less clear what's going to happen to them.

How did this happen? Well, when the Fed spikes interest rates, things tend to break. We know that the Fed rate hikes have hurt the valuation of the tech companies that this bank catered to, also has hurt the value of the bonds that banks rely on to get cash.

Erica, the good news is that experts that I'm talking to, they're hopeful this is more of an isolated event than a systemic one.

HILL: Yeah, let's hope that.

And, Matt Egan, appreciate it. Thank you.

Turning now to our national lead, federal investigators are looking into yet another train derailment, this just as we're learning about how widespread railroad issues across the country may, in fact, be. The latest derailment happened in Calhoun County, Alabama. It happened yesterday. It's in the northeast part of the state.

Take a look at some of these images from CNN's drones. You see the cars there, about 30 cars went off the tracks. Now, fortunately here, no one was hurt. No reports of dangerous chemical leaks.

The train, though, was operated by Norfolk Southern, and yes, that is the same company whose train carrying hazardous materials derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, last month. While that derailment is under investigation, today, already railroad officials said they were there are 700 railroad cars across the country that could be defective.

We're joined now by CNN's Tom Foreman.

So, Tom, these potentially defective cars, hundreds of them, what more do we know about them?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know this news just keeps coming and coming and coming. This relates to the accident that happened last Saturday afternoon. So, almost a week ago. That accident in West Central Ohio, about 20 cars went off the rails here. There were no particularly toxic chemicals involved here like there were in the wreck about a month ago that created so many problems, not terribly far away.

But when the Norfolk Southern people started looking at this, one of the things they say they found was loose wheels that could cause a derailment.

And they started inspecting about 200 other cars with the same types of wheels in their fleet to see if that might have something to do with this terrible accident here. The other thing they did was they sent an alarm to the association of American Railroads, which then basically let all railroad operators say, look, these are new specialty rail cars, and they are made specifically for a particular job, which is to carry large steel coils. They're about 675 that have been identified nationwide, and they believe there's this increased risk of an out-of-gauge derailment from these loose wheel sets.

Now, the company that makes these wheel sets, we've contacted them. No response yet as to what they might have to say, and the Federal Railroad Administration says they're still evaluating to see if something else needs to be done about this, Erica.

HILL: So, in terms of that loose wheel issue that was identified, is the thinking that it is, in fact, those faulty wheels that are behind all three of these Norfolk Southern derailments?

FOREMAN: I don't think they're saying that. They've identified this problem, and they think this is worth considering. Whether or not it answers the question of what has happened, can it answer the question of stopping another derailment that might happen if you don't address it?

HILL: Yeah. All right. Tom Foreman, appreciate it, as always. Thank you.

FOREMAN: You're welcome, Erica.

HILL: Let's continue our coverage with Ryan Young. He is on the site of that derailment in Alabama.

So, we saw that overhead shot of all of those trails. What's the clean-up looking like at this hour, Ryan?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, really, it's a massive site at this point, and as we speak, investigators are on site.


We had to work our way down here. You can see those men inspecting part of the truck. They seem like they've written numbers on the side of the rail cars here, and you can see them looking at some of the wheels near the track, and this has all been happening in the last half hour.

If you take your eyes down the way there, you can see the rail cars that have flipped over. That happened around 6:45 a.m., and that's what happened yesterday. That's what they're focused on down the way here.

That's where a lot of the heavy machinery is going to come in and try to move this. If there's good news, we don't believe there's any hazardous materials on those rail cars, about 30 in total. And this is not a very populated area. We have been talking to people

who live in this area, and they say they don't even remember the last time there was a rail car derailment in this path. In fact, they have questions about how this actually happened.

And so, as you see those people working live now to figure out what happens, we believe NTSB investigators have been here throughout the night, and heavy machinery is standing by to be brought in so they can start cleaning this up.

This track that you see here, this has been blocked. That's train number 5574. That's the locomotive. That is the head of this. And of course, we're about 70 miles away from Birmingham. As we know it, only local traffic is allowed back in this area right now, but as you can see, a big clean-up process that's on the way here. A lot of questions about how this happened again -- Erica.

HILL: Yeah, absolutely. In terms of how it happened, this derailment, is that part of this larger federal investigation into Norfolk Southern?

YOUNG: Lost you there for a second. Say that again?

HILL: Ryan, if you can still hear me, is this derailment going to figure into that larger investigation into Norfolk Southern?

YOUNG: Really, that's the big question here, and, of course, all the people who live along this track know this train, know Norfolk Southern, it comes through here all the time. That's the big question. How many times is an accident going to happen in a small community like this? They want to know exactly what happened here, especially because this passes through a lot of parts of this community that have no sort of blockage to stop cars from coming through, so they want to know how safe they are.

As you can see, investigators are actively working right now on the scene to sort of put this puzzle back together.

HILL: Yeah. Appreciate it, Ryan Young. Appreciate the reporting. Thank you.

Joining me now to discuss, Mary Schiavo. She's a former inspector general for the Department of Transportation. Mary, let's pick up where Ryan left off there. In terms of this derailment in Alabama, how it may figure into the NTSB's investigation into Norfolk Southern, depending on what they find, what does the NTSB have in terms of authority when it comes to mandates potential changes if serious issues are found?

MARY SCHIAVO, FORMER INSPECTOR GENERAL, USDOT: Well, the NTSB has extensive authority in what they want to investigate and really what issues they want to look at. They have pretty much exclusive --

TAPPER: Oh, looks like we may have lost Mary. I think we're going to try to -- let's see if we can get that shot back. But we do not have her now. This is the beauty of live television and technology, as we all know at this point.

So, just ahead here on THE LEAD, the lines delivered in Iowa today by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. They may sound rather familiar, like a former president.

While Trump, that former president himself, may soon have new legal problems. The grand jury activity that may signal charges in the near future.

Plus, the wildly controversial oil-drilling project that has activists turning to TikTok and Instagram to protest.



HILL: We're back with Mary Schiavo, former inspector general for the Department of Transportation.

Mary, so before the technology got in the way, we were talking about the authority that the NTSB has to investigate when it comes to these derailments that we've seen on a number of trains, Norfolk Southern trains. What is the power they have if, in fact, they do find a consistent issue -- the power to mandate change?

SCHIAVO: Well, unfortunately, they don't. The NTSB will make probable cause findings, what factually caused these accidents to happen, and then they make recommendations. They make recommendations to the federal administration, to the Department of Transportation, and, of course, to the Senate, but that's where their power ends. They can only make recommendations, and then they have to look to other parts of the government to pick up the ball and carry it and turn them into regulations, rules, safety guidelines, et cetera.

HILL: Okay, so, as we wait to see all of that, what the recommendations could be, we also have this reporting from Tom Foreman just before the break, a warning that there could be nearly 700 rail cars across the country that are defective, suffering from this loose wheel issue.

How do you ensure those cars are inspected and/or taken out of service quickly?

SCHIAVO: Well, you know, this is actually a -- it seems odd to say this is a lucky break when you see pictures of trains derailed and all the mass damage of the train, but finding this out now before there's been loss of life or a hazmat accident with these faulty wheels is very important, because on the rail tracks, there are defect detectors which pick up what they call hot boxes, sparks, overheating axles, et cetera.

But this doesn't look like a hot overheated axle. This looks like a wheel that detaches, and they might not have found it so suddenly but for the quick action and one of the persons who took a video of this accident. So, it was very fortunate that they found out, and they can issue national emergency recalls. They can take national action right away to get these defective cars off the rails, and I think they've already done that.

So, it was fortunate, as Tom said, that they found it now, because others otherwise it could have been much worse.

HILL: Does it raise any questions for you about the testing and whether it's strenuous enough?

SCHIAVO: It does, and there's been so much debate over the years about, you know, rail safety and what's really required. Even back when I was in the Department of Transportation, it was hot debate, and it's an interesting -- year after year, the number of train derailments and the number of collisions and other accidents has been increasing, as has the number of -- and they say, well, if we're so bad, why do the numbers keep getting better?


But the flip side of that the NTSB investigates rail accident after rail accident, and they often find no one violated the law, but the accidents keep happening. So, that tells us we need better regs, better inspections, better train cars.

HILL: Mary Schiavo, always appreciate your insight and your expertise. Thank you.

SCHIAVO: Thank you.

HILL: To the politics lead now, for the first time ever, a former U.S. president could be indicted. A source telling CNN, former President Donald Trump has been invited to testify before a Manhattan grand jury. This is about the $130,000 hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels and the subsequent cover-up in the final days of the 2016 presidential campaign.

But as CNN's Jessica Schneider reports, it is unclear if Trump will be indicted and if he was or found guilty, how severe that punishment would actually be.



JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In what would be an historic case, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, one step closer to bringing criminal charges against former President Donald Trump in a long-running investigation.

BRAGG: We're going to look at the facts and the law and let the investigation and justice and what justice requires will dictate how much time we take.

REPORTER: Mr. President --

SCHNEIDER: Prosecutors are now giving Trump the chance to testify before a grand jury investigating his alleged role in that $130,000 hush money payout to adult film star Stormy Daniels days before the 2016 election, to cover up their alleged affair a decade earlier. Since potential defendants in New York are required by law to be invited to appear in front of a grand jury, it all indicates a decision on whether to charge Trump could come soon.

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP LAWYER: It's one thing to turn around and to lie on Truth Social. It's another thing to turn around and lie before a grand jury. So, I don't suspect he's going to be coming.

SCHNEIDER: Trump's former attorney, Michael Cohen, meeting with prosecutors again Friday. He was sentenced to three years in prison in part for his role paying off Stormy Daniels and then getting reimbursed by the Trump Organization. That reimbursement would be at the heart of any case brought against Trump.

Prosecutors could charge Trump with falsifying business records for improperly recording his repayment to Cohen. That would be a misdemeanor. Prosecutors could also charge Trump with a felony for falsifying business records in connection with violating campaign finance laws. It could be a risky case to proceed with.

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So much time has passed, and the facts haven't changed at all. It really would come down to Michael Cohen's word.

SCHNEIDER: Though some argue it's straightforward.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's pretty simple. I mean, he paid money to keep her quiet. They took the money. They laundered it and hid it in the papers of the Trump organization, and ultimately, it meant that the Trump organization paid tax on something and filed an income tax return that was false. New York state law, that's a felony.

SCHNEIDER: Several key people have already testified before the grand jury, including former top White House aides Kellyanne Conway and Hope Hicks. Trump has repeatedly denied any affair with Stormy Daniels or any involvement in the payoff.

REPORTER: Mr. President, did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?


SCHNEIDER: And a spokesman blasted the D.A.'s investigation, saying the Manhattan district attorney's threat to indict President Trump is simply insane. For the past five years, the D.A.'s office has been on a witch hunt, investigating every aspect of President Trump's life, and they've come up empty at every turn, and now this.


SCHNEIDER (on camera): And just moments ago, Michael Cohen actually left his meeting with New York prosecutors, and he's expected to go before the grand jury actually on Monday, so there he is not saying much to reporters.

Now, as for Trump, he has already said that he will not leave the race if he's indicted, and legally, he wouldn't have to, since there's nothing barring presidential candidates from running if their charged or even convicted.

But, of course, Trump would be the first former president ever indicted, and, Erica, this isn't the only case that Trump is facing. Of course, he's also under investigation in Georgia for allegedly working to overturn the 2020 election and then, of course, there's special counsel Jack Smith, who's investigating Trump for his part in January 6th and also the handling of classified documents after Trump left office -- Erica.

HILL: Jessica Schneider, appreciate it. Thank you.

With me now, former principal deputy assistant attorney general, Tom Dupree.

Tom, good to have you with us.

So, we've heard from multiple experts, including the former President Trump's attorney, who said this is unprecedented, there are questions about the charges here. In your view, do you see charges being brought here?

TOM DUPREE, FORMER PRINCIPAL DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: I do. Look, the fact that the district attorney has invited president Trump to come in and testify before the grand jury is a pretty big signal. When you get invited like this, it usually means you're getting indicted.

So, I won't say it's a lock. I won't say it's a guarantee. I suspect the D.A. is going to want to dot the I's and cross the T's, before he actually files an indictment, but certainly the signs are on the wall. The storm clouds are gathering, and I think it's more likely than not at this point that he does indict former President Trump.


HILL: There are a lot of questions about Michael Cohen here. We heard from him and saw him leaving just a few moments earlier there. He is a convicted liar but could be a star witness here.

How would prosecutors convince the jury to take him seriously, given those facts?

DUPREE: Yeah, that's a great question. Look, if the prosecutors' plan is to rest their case on Michael Cohen, that's a pretty big gamble for the reasons you mentioned. The Trump defense team will not hesitate to point out that Cohen was convicted, he served time, he had motives to lie. They will attack him.

I suspect what the D.A. is going to do is make Cohen a big part of the case but not their entire case. They will buttress the case with other witnesses, with documents, really try to make an overwhelming case because they have to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.

They're used to proceeding with tainted witnesses, people who have criminal convictions and people who are not angels, so they know how to try a case like this, but I think they're going to have to make this more than the Michael Cohen show, or they're going to be running a big risk.

HILL: Yeah, people who are not angels, said very diplomatically.

As Jessica laid out, this is not the only potential legal case here, potential charges. He's also facing -- the former president facing Fulton County, Georgia, investigation. There is the Justice Department's special counsel investigation.

I was a little surprised by what former U.S. Attorney Michael Moore told me this morning. I love to get your take.

Take a listen.


MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: My concern is that you got three investigations going on, New York, Georgia, and then the special counsel investigation. These folks need to get into a room, they need to put their egos aside, quit worrying about who's going to be first or the biggest case or make their career, and make a decision about what's the strongest case. Because if you move forward first with a weak case, you give a chance for appellate courts to really make some bad law for the remaining prosecutors.


HILL: Do you see that ever happening?

DUPREE: I don't. Look, I think the issue here is that the three prosecutors we're talking about are all independent decision makers, two state prosecutors and a federal prosecutor. There's no requirement they all meet and confer, and I think they each have their own incentives to move at their own speed.

I think the danger here is that if the first prosecution that goes forward is a weak case, and it ends up in an acquittal, that will play into President Trump's hands in that they can use it politically to say, look, more evidence of a witch hunt. These are baseless charges. And I think the public perception of the follow-on prosecutions then could get tainted.

So, I don't think it's so much a legal concern as who goes first, but I think it has very serious political ramifications.

HILL: Let's say you were working with the former president. Would you advise him at this point to, in fact, accept that invitation and testify?

DUPREE: Oh, gosh, no. That's an easy one, Erica. I would say, no. Stay away.

It's not going to do him any good. He's testifying under oath, which, of course, prevents risks in and of itself. I don't think there's much likelihood that he would be able to persuade the grand jury or the D.A. to take a different course at this point in time.

I think the president's best legal strategy is to batten down the hatches, prepare for the indictment and prepare to fight it.

HILL: Tom Dupree, appreciate it, thank you.

DUPREE: Thank you.

HILL: So, Republican talking points or a page from the Trump playbook? Up next, some very familiar-sounding lines from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.



HILL: Hundreds of people lining up to see Florida Governor DeSantis today. This, at his inaugural event in Iowa, and it comes as he appears to be signaling a race for president.

CNN's Steve Contorno is joining us from Des Moines, where DeSantis is set to speak at the fairgrounds this evening.

So, give us a sense, the tone of Governor DeSantis's speech this morning in Davenport. Did it say, wink-wink, nod, nod, yeah, I'm running?

STEVE CONTORNO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erica, he was certainly leaning into the divisive culture war battles that have made him so popular among Republicans here, talking about his, quote-unquote, war with wokeness. But he also borrowed a little bit from the Trump playbook. He talked about building a border wall at the U.S.-Mexico border, which clearly is something Trump ran on in 2016. For Iowa Republican voters, this is the first time they're getting a chance to see DeSantis up close, getting a chance to measure him, look at him, hear him.

We talked to several of them afterwards to see what they thought of the Florida governor. Here's what they had to say.


BECKY GREISBACH, IOWA RESIDENT: I think he's a very emotional, passionate person for the entire country. It's not blacks, it's not whites, it's not Latinos. It's for everyone. He's trying to do what's right for the country, get away from the woke agenda.

MARK, IOWA RESIDENT: I love it. They just reiterated all the points and their accomplishments, because there are so many of them, everything I believed in.

LINDSAY, IOWA RESIDENT: A lot of the things I felt passionately about over the last couple of years, and he said it all.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CONTORNO: Now, Erica, the big question coming out of this is, will Governor DeSantis announce that he's running for president? We're told his timeline is May or June when the legislative session finishes its work back in Tallahassee.

But I got to say, as a fellow Floridian, you don't really come to Iowa this time of year with plans to vacation. So I think that there's clearly some groundwork being laid here with intention of making some sort of announcements later this year.

HILL: Yeah, little too early for the state fair, as you point out, and a little too cold. Steve, appreciate it. Thank you.

Joining me now, former Republican Congresswoman Mia Love of Utah and CNN political commentator Kirsten Powers.


As we just heard from Steve, Governor DeSantis really leaning into the more divisive language there, leaning into the culture wars. Take a listen to some of these lines from today's speech, if you would.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: They let criminals roam the streets.

We do need a border wall.

Probably wouldn't have happened with California's government or New York's government, I'm just saying.

Come on, Joe. Let us get it done. We'll do it.

We're not going to teach our kids to hate our country or to hate each other. We've done things like eliminate critical race theory from our K-12 schools.


HILL: Shades of the culture wars, Mia, also shades of the former president.

What do you make of those lines?

MIA LOVE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Are you talking about what he -- in terms of what he's speaking about the border, what he --

HILL: Yeah, those specific lines. Some of them, we've certainly heard before.

LOVE: Yeah. You know, here's what I think he's doing. I think he's actually cherry-picking some of the things that were really popular for Donald Trump, that really kind of woke people up and said, hey, we do have to take care of some of these things.

He's distinguishing himself in a way that he can actually get some of those supporters but also a way where he can, if he has to go up against Joe Biden, in terms of the migrants under the bridge, all of the things that have not worked, the things that Biden hasn't done when it comes to immigration.

So I think it was some advice that he probably was taking that can actually put him in a position where he could do well with GOP, with the base, with the GOP base, but also stand up against President Biden and say, these are areas where he has failed.

HILL: So, Kirsten, what we did here, and especially at the end there, right, was leaning more into the divisive, you know, idea of the culture wars, which we know not only is Ron DeSantis leaning into, but we're seeing it in different areas. Does that play, though, Kirsten, on a national stage?

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, to get to the national stage, he has to first get through the GOP primary, and so, this plays very well in the GOP primary. I don't think that it plays very well on a national stage. I think that he has been an incredibly divisive character on -- if we're looking at more nationally.

I don't think, you know, I don't think most people think that kindergartners are learning about critical race theory, for example, because they're not.

The things that he says, you know, the fight that he has gotten into with Disney, which is definitely, I would say, government overreach, and I have said before, like, I'm not a defender of major corporations, plenty of problems with Disney, but in terms of what he is doing with Disney and really just installing his cronies on their board, you know, to oversee that area that they're in, you know, there's nothing conservative about it, and it certainly is government overreach. I don't think those are the kinds of things that play with moderate voters.

HILL: As we wait, because you are absolutely right, to even be the nominee and worry about a national stage, first you have to get through that whole primary. Minor details at this point in 2023, but as we look at who else is there, the declared candidates. You have former President Trump, who will be in Iowa on Monday. You have Nikki Haley spending some time in Iowa.

And it's interesting, I think, in some of what we heard from voters, our Jeff Zeleny speaking to folks about concerns over just how crowded this primary race could become. Take a listen.


IOWA GOP VOTER: We don't want two strong candidates to shred each other and duke it out in the boxing ring and see the best man standing. So, hopefully, grace, dignity, poise, smarts, calculation, because in the end, we're all wanting to support the nominee.


HILL: Dignity, poise, grace, smarts, that's the calculation. Is that how you see this playing out for Republicans?

LOVE: I think -- I think that they want someone who's also going to stand up and be a fighter. I think that's what the base is looking for. So, you have -- there are so many different attributes you have to have. They want somebody who is going to be able to stand up and win and beat president Biden.

They want somebody who is going to fight. They want somebody who is going to not attack the American people. Not to let the Twitter and their own ego get in the way of actually helping the American people.

HILL: Be interesting to see who that person ends up being.

As we look at all of this, I'm curious, Kirsten, how closely do you think Democrats are watching not just Republicans but specifically Ron DeSantis?

POWERS: Oh, obviously, very closely, because I think that he could be a serious contender for the White House. And so, you know, like I said, on the one hand, I think that some of his positions are extreme, but we also don't know how he would reposition himself when he is on the national stage.


And also, as we know, our system is a binary system, right? It's an either/or system. So, a lot of times, people will make sort of deals with the devil when it comes to the candidates that are on the national stage, and so he's somebody who's obviously very talented at getting attention.

HILL: Yes, definitely talented at getting attention. That is for sure.

Before we let you both go, we, of course, have been talking today about what could happen with former president Trump here in New York, and there's plenty of speculation that even if there was a charge, that this could actually be more fodder for the former president, that he would continue to use that moving forward.

Mia, as you look at what could happen there, how do you see that playing out?

LOVE: I say that this actually helps President Trump continue to say this is obviously a witch hunt, especially because the feds in New York, a few years ago, decided not to look at it. They decided they were not going to address that case at all.

I mean, I -- it's going to continue to allow President Trump to say, they're still coming after me because they know I'm viable. They know I'm going to be able to undo all of the things that Biden did.

To his base, I don't think there's going to be any fallout or negative for him on this, because the base will go along with whatever he says.

HILL: He turns this into a win, Kirsten, if it happens? POWERS: Absolutely. He's been persecuted and it's political, you

know, witch hunt and that he's -- nobody will even -- nobody in the Republican base will think this is anything other than, you know, sort of the deep state going after him, even though this isn't, you know, the federal government. But they see this as, you know, him being persecuted.

HILL: We started the segment off take well-worn lines that we were hearing, and we ended it talking about some of it maybe coming back.

Kirsten Powers, Mia Love, good to see you both this afternoon. Thank you.

POWERS: Thanks.

LOVE: Thank you.

HILL: Up next, the special farewell salute for Ukraine's youngest battalion commander, who's been declared a hero.



HILL: In our world lead, sources tell CNN Russia has been capturing some weapons the U.S. provided to Ukraine and sending them to Iran in an effort to reverse engineer the systems. Now, this comes as Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, joined thousands of mourners in Kyiv today to honor a beloved soldier.

Here's CNN's Ivan Watson on the memorial for the soldier who died fighting in Bakhmut.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Funeral for a fallen warrior, an honor guard and thousands of mourners gathered to remember Jr. Lieutenant Dmytro Kotsiubaylo, better known by his code name, "Da Vinci." he was the youngest battalion commander in the Ukrainian army, killed this week in the battle for Bakhmut. A months- long deadly test of wills between the Russian and Ukrainian militaries over a small city of questionable strategic value.

This is how Ukraine is honoring one of its fallen heroes and also proof of the terrible cost that the Ukrainian military is paying in the battle for Bakhmut.

In 2021, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy officially declared Da Vinci a hero of Ukraine. On Friday, the president paid his respects to Da Vinci's surviving family members, accompanied by the prime minister of Finland. Mourners gathered on their knees around Da Vinci's coffin in the square in central Kyiv where, in 2014, Da Vinci, then just a teenager, joined thousands of demonstrators in a bloody battle against Ukrainian security forces.

They ultimately sent the country's pro-Russian president fleeing to Russia. Soon after, Da Vinci joined a nationalist militia and fought for years against pro-Russian separatists in the Donbas region before formally joining the Ukrainian armed forces.

Many of the people attending Da Vinci's memorial never met the young commander face-to-face.

SERGIY IVANNIKOV, KYIV RESIDENT: He lost his life for us, for me, my children, my family, and we want to live good life, and I am here to celebrate his life and to say final respects to him.

WATSON: What did Da Vinci fight for?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For Ukraine. For freedom. For us.

WATSON: This woman knows the stakes all too well.

Your husband is fighting in Bakhmut right now.


WATSON: There is a price for freedom, she says, one life dies so that other lives may be born. Though only 27, Da Vinci knew the risks he was taking.

I'm ready to go to victory with you, he told his troops, and if need be, to give up my life for you.

Nearly everyone in Ukraine has lost something since Russia's invasion one year ago, a war in which far too many have made the ultimate sacrifice.


WATSON: And there was another memorial in Kyiv's Maidan today. It was for a father and son, Oleg and Mykyta Khomyuk. They were both killed also near Bakhmut, also fighters, a reminder that people are paying the ultimate price here in this war against Russia -- Erica.


HILL: Yeah, so true. Ivan Watson in Kyiv for us, thank you.

Up next, the severe flooding behind evacuation orders in effect right now in parts of California.



HILL: Roads in central California washed out by intense flooding as another powerful storm makes it way through the state. Officials say the weather is likely to blame for the partial collapse of a warehouse roof in Oakland, the one you see here. That collapse killed one person. There is also at least one other storm related death in the state.

CNN's Nick Watt is in Soquel, California. That's near Santa Cruz.

So, give us a sense of what you're seeing there in terms of the flooding and the damage, Nick.


NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, right behind me here in so cal is damage. Look, this pipe gave way at about 2:00 in the morning, just the force of water and right now, they are trying to rebuild at least one lane just to kind of makeshift road because this is the only road out for 450 households that live further up this valley.

So that is why they are trying to get this back and running. That rain at about 2:00 a.m., we were out and about and driving. It was biblical. Windshield wipers did nothing. It was very, very treacherous.

We seen many state roads, closed many highways, closed, in fact, the road we took to get to the coast was closed earlier this morning because of the slide.

Now, why is this happening? Not just the storm we're dealing with now, this so-called atmospheric river pushing, bringing warm air laden with rain in from the Pacific. It is also the fact this is the tenth atmospheric river that California has seen just this winter -- Erica.

HILL: Which is just remarkable, a term where I feel like we're all starting to learn and the fact there are ten of them. You talked about what you saw this morning. You're about ten miles north in Felton, California earlier today.

Give us a sense of what was going on in those moments.

WATT: Yeah. So Felton was a place flooded very, very badly back in January. Some residents were saying listen, we haven't had a storm for seven years like this. Now, they're getting them back to back so people were told to evacuate back in January. There and elsewhere in the state.

Some people have been back in the homes a few weeks and now they've been told to move again because of all of this water. Now, the issue again, this is quite a warm storm. So what we've got a all the snow dumped over this winter, some places two years of snow, because this is a warm storm, that is melting some of the snow. So we got all the rain falling and we've also got the snow that is melting and another river coming in they say early next week -- Erica.

HILL: Just can't catch a break. Nick Watt, appreciate it. Thank you.

In our "Earth Matters" series, the Biden administration is expected to make a decision soon on whether to approve a controversial oil drilling project in Alaska. And while there is bipartisan support from the state's lawmakers and some native groups for the Willow Project, there is also a tremendous amount of push back from climate activists in Alaska and beyond.

Here is CNN's Rene Marsh.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At this point, the only way this project can be stopped is --

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): On TikTok and Instagram, calls for President Biden to stop Willow Project, an urgent calls that's gone viral to block a controversial a controversial Alaska oil drilling project.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please help stop Willow.

MARSH: The videos racking up tens of millions of views, spurring more than a million letters to the White House and more than 3 million signatures to a petition.

ELISE JOSHI, GENZ FOR CHANGE: In order to stop Willow, people need to know about Willow.

MARSH: Twenty-year-old Elise Joshi is a senior at the University of California-Berkeley is one of the social media activists.

JOSHI: It will not just impact Alaska. It will not just impact this country. It will not impact the world, but the amount of carbon emissions that it will emit, we will see an increase in frequency and intensity of natural disasters.

MARSH: ConocoPhillips, Willow Project would be located in northwest Alaska on the National Petroleum Reserve, federal land roughly the size of Indiana. The project would tap as much as 600 million barrels of oil, but it would take years for it to make it to market.

It's messy politics for President Biden pitting his climate promises against the desire to produce energy at home and lower gas prices. The projects would release as much planet warming carbon emissions per year as adding 2 million gas powered cars to the road annually.

That's according to a government estimate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lose of taste and smell, dizziness.

MARSH: Siqiniq Maupin's family lives near the proposed site and she recently traveled to Washington to protest outside the White House against the Willow Project, despite its economic benefits.

SIQINIQ MAUPIN, SOVEREIGN INUPIAT FOR A LIVING ARCTIC: We've been held in an economic health situation. We chose our health, our children's health, our way of life, or being able to have plumbing and infrastructure and running water.

MARSH: Nagruk Harcharek's family has also lived in the region for generations. He supports the project. His non-profit represents two dozen native communities, corporations and local governments who say the project would be an economic boon and help the U.S. wean off foreign oil. NAGRUK HARCHAREK, THE VOICE OF THE ARCTIC INUPIAT: The economics a

project like this would bring into the region mainly to the North Slope Borough in the form of taxes to help provide and maintain first world conditions.


MARSH: Meantime, the arctic is warming four times faster than anywhere else on the planet due to climate change.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We cannot keep drilling for new fossil fuels if we want to address climate change.


MARSH (on camera): While ConocoPhillips tells CNN in a statement this project will create, quote, good union jobs and the project has undergone a comprehensive regulatory process for nearly five years with extensive public input.

And, Erica, we could see that decision come from the Biden administration as soon as next week.

HILL: All right. We'll be watching for it.

Rene, appreciate it. Thank you.

Coming up Sunday on the "STATE OF THE UNION", the Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young and Republican Congresswoman Nancy Mace, as well as Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy. That's Sunday morning at 9:00 Eastern and again here at noon right here on CNN.

Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM".