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Don Lemon Tonight

Parked Ambulances Not Spared By Russian Troops; President Zelenskyy Called Out U.N.'s Useless Body; Total Destruction And Genocidal Acts Seen In Borodyanka; Russian Atrocities Not Far from ISIS' Crimes; U.S. and Allies with New Sanctions Against Russia; Russians Not Just Butchers But Also Pathological Liars; ACA A Success For Barack Obama. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired April 05, 2022 - 22:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: He said, the response from Merkel after Russia invaded and seized Crimea in 2014 and then had the Russian separatists in the eastern region in the Donbas region, he said her response was to push forward for that natural gas pipeline from Russia, which he holds -- he holds her responsible in no small way. He said, rather pointedly, I hope that gas is keeping her warm today.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Wow. Wow. Well, it's interesting. I mean, I think the people of Ukraine have a particular ire for Vladimir Putin. But as you heard the president saying to NATO and to the U.N., you got to do something. And they have not been at a loss for words for criticism all around.

Jake, great broadcasting. We'll see you again tomorrow night. Get some rest. We know it's early in the morning there --


TAPPER: See you, Don.

LEMON: -- so we'll see you tomorrow afternoon.

TAPPER: Thanks, buddy.


Our breaking news, new video from Vladimir Putin's war on innocent civilians in Ukraine. Take a look at this video. It was posted before the regional governor of Mykolaiv. It's showing what he says is shelling of a children's hospital. It appears to show closed-circuit TV of a blast hitting parked ambulances.

Can we right that back, I want people to hear it and see it. parked ambulances. That is from closed-circuit television. You can still hear the blast that loud.

That as the U.S. is expected to announce sweeping new sanctions tomorrow to force Russia to pay a price for the invasion of Ukraine. And with the world stunned by the horrors of what we have all seen in Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a speech to the U.N. Security Council calling for a new Nuremberg trial to investigate and prosecute Russian war crimes.

President Zelenskyy telling the U.N. and the world in horrifying detail that Vladimir Putin's war is doing, what it is doing to Ukrainian civilians.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translator): Civilians were crushed by tanks while sitting in their cars in the middle of the road just for their pleasure. They cut off limbs, cut their throats, slashed their throats. Women were raped and killed in front of their children.

They were -- their tongues were pulled out only because the aggressor did not hear what they wanted to hear from them. The massacre in our city of Bucha is only one, unfortunately, only one of many examples of what the occupiers have been doing on our land for the past 41 days. And there are many more cities, similar places where the world has yet to learn the full truth.


LEMON: So, as you have known over probably seen over these last nights, Bucha has become a symbol of unthinkable atrocities. The images are graphic and horrifying to look at. And they really seer into our minds here.

People are lying dead in the streets, some with their hands still tied behind their backs just lying where they fell. And there are feel -- fears tonight that what's to come can be even worse what you're seeing in Bucha. I mean, it could get -- how could it get any worse?

New video showing the town of Borodyanka more than 30 miles northwest of Kyiv that it has been completely destroyed. Entire blocks reduced to rubble. A crude sign that it's just spray-painted. Sheet metal reads like this, civilian traffic is prohibited. But there aren't a lot of people left in Borodyanka.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen went there today to speak with volunteers collecting the bodies of civilians. Now think about that. People who just a little over a month ago led normal everyday lives now spending their days volunteering to pick up the bodies of their neighbors. And there is no way to know right now how many more bodies may be buried under that rubble.

Speaking of Fred Pleitgen, he joins me now. Hello, Fred, to you. Russia's withdrawn from areas near Kyiv. You went to another town to see the death and destruction that they left behind. What did you see?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Don. Well, what we saw was really a swath of death and destruction going towards the north of Kyiv, towards the northwest specifically. And that's of course a lot of towns that were held by the Russians. We drove through several smaller towns, through several villages,

through several somewhat larger towns and the picture was always the same, absolutely destroyed places. And in all of those places still dead civilians who were being picked up, as you said, by those people who a couple of weeks ago were painters, were factory workers and the like, and are now working around the clock and really don't know how much longer this is going to continue because the bodies keep popping up in places, and they keep having to collect them.

Borodyenko (Ph) was definitely -- Borodyanka was definitely the place that was the most destroyed that we witnessed. And we do have to warn our viewers, what you're about to see is very graphic and very disturbing.



PLEITGEN: In the war that Russia has unleashed against Ukraine, few places have suffered more than Borodyanka. Occupied by Vladimir Putin's troops since late February, recently taken back by Ukraine's army.

Borodyanka was held by the Russians for a very long time. And just to give you an idea of the scale of destruction, you have houses like these that were completely destroyed. But if we look over here, you can see that even large residential buildings have been flattened. This entire building was flattened. It was connected with this one before, but now there's absolutely nothing left of it.

And the Russians made sure to show they owned this town, painting the letter V on occupied buildings, even defacing Borodyanka's city administration. V is the letter the Russians use to help identify their forces that invaded this part of Ukraine.

Oksana Kostychenko and her husband just returned here and found Russian soldiers had been staying in their house. She says they ransacked the place. "Alcohol is everywhere," she says, "empty bottles in the hallway under things. They smoked a lot, put out cigarettes on the table."

They also showed us the corpse of a man they found in their backyard. His hands and feet tied, severe bruises on his body, a shell casing still nearby. Russia claims its forces don't target civilians, calling reports of atrocities fake and provocations.

But these body collectors are the ones who have to remove the carnage Russia's military leaves in its wake. In a span of less than an hour, they found a person gunned down while riding a bicycle. A body burned beyond recognition. And a man still stuck in his car gunned down with bullet holes in his head and chest. He was believed to be transporting medical supplies, now strewn near this road.

"The most awful thing is those are not soldiers laying there, just people, innocent people," Gennadiy says. For no reason? asked. "Yes, for no reason killed and tortured for no reason," he says. The road from Kyiv to Borodyanka is lined with villages heavily

damaged after Russia's occupation. Destroyed tanks and armored vehicles left behind, but also indications of just how much fire power they unleashed on this area.

The Russians say this is a special operation, not a war, and that they don't harm civilians. But look how much ammunition they left behind simply in this one single firing position here. This is ammunition for heavy weapons with devastating effects on civilian areas.

That devastation cuts through the towns and villages north of Kyiv where the number of dead continues to rise. Now that Vladimir Putin's armies have withdrawn, Ukraine's leaders still believe many more bodies could be buried beneath the rubble.


PLEITGEN: And, Don, that's why they believe that the work that they unfortunately have to do will continue for a very long time, simply because there are so many areas that they haven't accessed yet, so many buildings that they haven't accessed yet.

And you know, some of those buildings that we did see, they did say that they believe that people are still dead underneath that rubble, and they have to wait for heavier equipment to actually get those people out. And you know, the folks that we spoke to in Borodyanka said that when the Russians were there, they saw complete lack of respect for the Ukrainian state, as we also saw as they painted their V there on the city administration. But also, for the Ukrainian civilians as well.

And so therefore you did have a lot of people who came to harm, and, unfortunately, a lot of civilians who were killed as well, Don.

LEMON: Fred, you've been all over showing us -- I mean, not you, but the reports get worse and worse. You know what I mean? The video gets worse and worse. It looks like the situation gets worse and worse. Yet, Russians continued to deny that they had did, that they had anything to do with it.

PLEITGEN: Yes, you're right. I mean, first of all, you're absolutely right. It does get worse and worse, and you do come along -- across more and more places where you see similar things. You see destroyed buildings.

Also, by the way, you see a lot of destroyed Russian military hardware as well. And you're absolutely right. The Russian government and its entities continue to deny that all of this took place.

You have the Russian ambassador to the United Nations who says there's no evidence despite the fact that there is evidence in the form of satellite pictures that a lot of these bodies that the Russians claim are newer were put there by the Ukrainians were in fact laying on the ground in places like Bucha when the Russians were still in control of that area. You have the Russian foreign minister also saying that all of this is

lies, that President Biden, for instance, calling Vladimir Putin a war criminal, that had something that they consider to be unacceptable.

However, when you are here, you do see that there are some things that really are increasingly undeniable. And that is that there was definitely very heavy hand by the Russians when they were here on the ground. A lot of civilians that were killed while the Russians occupied those areas.


But also, Don, and this is really the big lie that the Russians are also telling their own population, their military got clobbered by the Ukrainians and a lot of their military had to flee, a lot of their soldiers have been killed and the Russians are not acknowledging that to their own population.

That certainly seems like something where they did allow their military to walk into this country thinking they'd be greeted as liberators. They were then defeated badly by the Ukrainians and now it seems the Russians are trying to do everything they can to make sure, or to try and make sure that the world doesn't know that and that their own population doesn't know that as well. Though the evidence is laying in every town here around Kyiv, Don.

LEMON: Seeing this every day, day in and day out, Fred, is not good. So, I hope you're taking care of yourself. But I know that your concern is more for the people who are there.

How are the people there dealing with seeing this, experiencing this, the ones who are, I guess, lucky enough to be spared, you know? Because they still have to live there and, you know, with what's going on. How are they dealing with this?

PLEITGEN: Well, first of all, I think many of them are very happy to have stayed alive through all of this. There's a lot of people, you know, who did stay behind and who were hunkered down in their basements, or in houses just simply hoping not to get killed. And they're of course happy for that.

But of course, a lot of these people have had a lot of big losses, relatives who were killed, friends who were killed, people who now they have to go to morgues together. I saw people who went with friends or with their neighbors to a mass grave in Bucha where their friends simply broke down, the neighbors broke down. That is something that happens on a regular basis.

So, there is obviously a lot of despair, a lot of anger at the Russians where people just do not understand why this happened. Because people are saying this is not a war of necessity, it is a war of choice by the Russians. And they certainly do feel that there is a complete lack of any sort of respect for the lives of the citizens of the Ukrainian citizens who were in these towns when the Russians came into those towns, occupied those towns and of course tried to push forward to Kyiv from those towns as well. LEMON: Inexplicable. Fred, take care of yourself. Thank you so much.

We appreciate it. Be safe.

So, I want to bring in now Igor Novikov, he is the former adviser to President Zelenskyy. Igor, good to see you again. Thank you for appearing. What are you thinking as you're seeing these reports?

IGOR NOVIKOV, FORMER ADVISER TO PRESIDENT VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY: Well, good evening, Don. Well, first of all, let me share one thing that is really disturbing me at the moment. I mean, we've seen the pictures. We're seeing things live here on the ground in Kyiv. Yet, at the same time, Russia is still a member of the U.N. Security Council so we're giving them that platform and that veto power.

They're using that platform to amplify their fake narratives about these horrible atrocities, blaming them and everyone else. Our children are being killed. Our women are being raped. You know, there's genocide happening in the world. Yet, at the same time, we're discussing the language that President Zelenskyy uses to address the U.N. That's -- that -- unless we can break through the impenetrable bubble of formalism, the world is really in trouble at the moment.

LEMON: Well, I'm glad you said that because I was going to ask you about what you thought. look, I thought his language was spot on. I think that he should be strong. As a matter of fact, let's play it. And then let's --I want to continue this conversation. Let's play it because he called them out for their inability to stop the carnage. Take a look at this.


ZELENSKYY (through translator): The United Nations can be simply closed, ladies and gentlemen. Are you ready to close the U.N. and the time of international law is gone? If your answer is no, you need to act immediately. The U.N. charter must be restored immediately.


LEMON: Go on, so what do you want to say about that?

NOVIKOV: Well, look. I mean, Ukraine is paying a heavy price for, you know, for the free world. It's just a question of what their price is really for. I mean, that price is not only for our territorial integrity and sovereignty and even for our safety and security. You know, what Ukraine is really fighting for is for that new global sustainable stability.

And you know, in order to get there, we need to first of all stop Russia because, you know, what Russia is trying to do is dehumanize its own population, to turn them into a hundred million-strong army of zombies pretty much, you know, brainwashed with propaganda, committing terrible atrocities and fighting for that hegemon status that Russia has lost back in 1991.

At the same time, like, look, the world is still stuck in hat inertia of denial where we can -- we hide behind bureaucracy, we hide behind formalism and procedure, not realizing, not accepting the fact that the world is different.

And you know, what President Zelenskyy is trying to say here like, look, I mean, we are dying to kind of, to stop that and enable that transition to a new stability, but if we are unsuccessful, you know, it's not going to stop with us, it's going to spread westwards. And it's horrible.


Like, look, I can give you one analogy what it's like. Imagine any peaceful town in the U.S., like Santa Monica. Imagine that town being run over and actually held by ISIS for a month with its population, you know, defenseless, unable to defend itself. Imagine the atrocities. And let me tell you one thing as a person living not far away from Borodyanka and Bucha and the other places. Russia is far worse than ISIS.

LEMON: That is a very strong statement. And I don't know if there is much of an argument, quite frankly with that if you're looking at what's happening. Look, the images of ISIS are a little bit behind us. This is all new. And to see what is happening now.

I, look, I have no problem with the president's language. You said we have to get over the formality and that we're not living. So, how do I say this? Do you think that NATO, the U.N., the President of the United States, that they are living in or acting as if they live in a world that no longer exists because Vladimir Putin has broken all the rules and has thrown every convention out of the door? And so all of the rules don't apply when it comes to the situation, the old rules at least?

NOVIKOV: Well, the way a hybrid war works, basically, you know, Putin weaponizes everything against you. He weaponizes formalism, he weaponizes your energy security, your slow transition to, for example, renewable energy to kind of to make money off it and fight his wars. So, I wouldn't say that you're still living in the old world. It's just, you know, Putin at the moment is outpacing the free world.


LEMON: So, what would you have --

NOVIKOV: And that's what --

LEMON: What would you have the free world do?

NOVIKOV: Accept the fact that, you know, old rules don't apply anymore and kind of start from scratch. Basically, figure out new procedures, new reactions, new methodologies and kind of fight the real situation not the way it's been written back in the 1950s or 1940s. Because the U.N. is destined to follow the league of nations if things continue the way they are.

LEMON: I appreciate these conversations. We'll have you back. I love your candor. Thank you for appearing on the program. And you be safe, OK? NOVIKOV: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you very much. So, what we're seeing in Ukraine, the chairman of the joint chiefs warning the world is becoming more unstable. I'm going to ask a top military commander about that assessment. That's next.


MARK MILLEY, CHAIRMAN, U.S. JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: We are entering a world that is becoming more unstable and the potential for significant international conflict between great powers is increasing, not decreasing.




LEMON: Horrific new video shows the extent of the damage in the city of Borodyanka near -- north of Kyiv, I should say. The regional governor warning the city has been almost completely destroyed. And there are fears that the death toll could be higher than in Bucha.

So, joining me now to discuss CNN military analyst and retired two- star general Dana Pittard. He is the author of "Hunting the Caliphate: America's War on ISIS and the Dawn of the Strike Cell."

Thank you, general. I appreciate you joining us.


LEMON: Did you hear what the former -- the guest said, what they're doing is worse than ISIS now, what Russia's doing? What'd you think of that?

PITTARD: Yes, I did hear that. And what Russia is doing is bad. But ISIS was in its own category of brutality in beheading civilians, beheading hostages, systematically raping women, taking them for slaves and wives, genocidal actions against the Yazidi and others. And so, ISIS was in a different class of brutality.

LEMON: What Russia is doing is pretty bad, though.


LEMON: I mean, it's close to that. You know, maybe in your estimation, and maybe it's not that but it's pretty close.

The chairman of the joint chiefs Mark Milley giving this grim warning about how Russia's invasion changes the world stage. Listen to this.


LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Reports indicate that Russian federal security agents are confiscating passports and I.D.s, taking away cell phones and separating families from one another. I do not need to spell out what these so-called filtration camps are reminiscent of. It's chilling and we cannot look away.


LEMON: Is the warning here that this could mean a global conflict down the road?

PITTARD: I think that that is a possibility. It's certainly the worst situation as far as conflict in Europe since World War II. And it can lead to more global instability. So, I think General Mark Milley, who I've known for decades, I believe he's correct on that. It's something that we need to deal with sooner rather than later. And there's more that we should be doing about this war in Ukraine.

LEMON: Milley also telling lawmakers that he would support permanent bases in Eastern Europe that would rotate U.S. troops through them to be a deterrent for Russian aggression. Is this necessary? And how long could that be there? Because, you know, we've been talking about this whole idea, what happened with Afghanistan, forever wars, so on and so forth.

PITTARD: Well, that would be prudent. Certainly, we've had permanent bases in Europe since the end of World War II. So that's 77 years. We have permanent bases in South Korea, that's over 70 years also.


So, the idea of having permanent bases where U.S. and NATO troops would rotate through, I think would be very prudent. Whether it's the Baltic states, whether it's in Poland, Romania. I think what General Milley is calling for is not for military families to move there but military units to rotate through on a periodic basis. I think that would be just prudent based on the threat of Russia.

LEMON: And General, in today's hearing, the U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was forced to take time from talking about the situation in Europe to defend against absurd accusations of wokeism. Listen to this.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): While everyone else in the world seems to be developing capabilities and being more strategic, we got time to embrace critical race theory at West Point, to embrace socialism at the National Defense University, to do mandatory pronoun training. Do you accept --


LLOYD AUSTIN, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: You know, again, this is the most capable, the most combat-critical force in the world. It has been and it will be so going forward.

GAETZ: Not if we continue down this path --


AUSTIN: And this budget helps to do that.

GAETZ: Not if we embrace socialism.

AUSTIN: And the fact that you're embarrassed by your country.

GAETZ: No, no, no. I'm embarrassed by your leadership. You guys said that Russia would overrun Ukraine in 36 days. You said that the Taliban would be kept at bay for months. You totally blew those calls. And maybe we would be better at them if the National Defense University actually worked a little more on strategy and a little less on wokeism.

AUSTIN: Has it occurred to you that Russia has not overrun Ukraine because of what we've done and our allies have done?


LEMON: I mean -- there's so much that I want to say, but I will keep it above board here. Because ignorance knows no bounds. But you are a West Point graduate. You served numerous combat tours and more than 30 years of service. And you know and served with both General Milley and Secretary Austin. What do you think of how he handled that?

PITTARD: Well, I've known Secretary Lloyd Austin for obviously decades. It takes a lot to get under his skin. I think the question itself was silly and really inappropriate in a congressional hearing about the war, the brutal war in Ukraine in which innocent civilians are being killed.

There is just no place for that. For the petty kind of partisan points that might be scored in doing that when we have a very serious situation. Secretary Austin and General Mark Milley are great leaders, who are patriots, and who have served our nation with distinction. They deserve better than that.

LEMON: We deserve better than that, the country, especially someone who was elected. Sadly. Thank you. Thank you. I appreciate you joining us, General. Thanks so much.

PITTARD: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: President Zelenskyy demanding accountability for Russia's actions. Now the west is about to drop new sanctions, but will that do anything to change Putin's trajectory?



LEMON: The U.S. announcing new -- a new set of sanctions against Russia tomorrow in coordination with G7 nations and the European Union, including banning all new investments in Russia and sanctioning Russian government officials and their family members.

Officials also telling CNN that Putin's two daughters could face possible E.U. sanctions. The latest round comes in response to the atrocities committed in the town of Bucha.

For a bigger picture look at what this all means for the Russia/Ukraine conflict, I want to bring now Ambassador John Herbst, he is a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and is now the senior director of Atlantic Council's Eurasia Center. Thank you, Ambassador, for joining us once again. We appreciate it.

So, despite their effects on Russian people who are experiencing shortages and panic-buying, items like sugar, we've seen the video of that. Sanctions haven't stopped Putin yet. Why another round now? And what is there left to do after this?

JOHN HERBST, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: Look, I don't think the sanctions were ever going to stop him once he made the decision to go in. But what the sanctions do is they will weaken substantially the Russian economy, which, over time, not immediately, but within months and certainly a year or two will begin to affect the ability to pay for his military. And that's a very good thing since Putin has aggressive designs.

But one more thing that can be done, two more things that can be done, SWIFT sanctions can be applied to all Russian banks. And Europe could stop buying Russian oil and gas. Easier said than done because they are dependent upon that. But they are making a good-faith effort to reduce the purchases substantially over the next upcoming months.

LEMON: Let's talk about the U.N. Security Council meeting and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivering an emotional address about the horrors being carried out by Russia. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield saying that Russia is forcing deportations and using, quote, "filtration camps against Ukrainian citizens." It is chilling.

CNN has been hearing reports of these camps since the beginning of the invasion and has also gotten evidence of forced deportations. Is this another war crime to add to the growing list of war crimes?


HERBST: It certainly is. And there is the greatest war crime of all, which is the siege tactics, the bombardment tactics being practiced especially on Mariupol where people are being murdered with bombs, civilians are being murdered with bombs. But also, also, they are being starved to death, they're being deprived of water, they are being deprived of medicines. This is like a war crime going on in the face of the entire world.

LEMON: You know, the U.S. continues to offer resources and weapons to Ukraine amid this conflict. The latest is a tank-killing drone. It's called a switch blade 600, which we're going to put up here in a minute, in a second. If the administration is willing to give these drones, what more, what else could the U.S. be willing to do? HERBST: I think we've seen some decisions in the last several weeks,

good decisions to help Ukraine get antiaircraft systems that go against planes flying at 30,000 feet, antiship missiles. But these things, the decision that's been taken, it's not clear that these weapons have been delivered.

The administration needs to make that a priority. They also need to send tanks, they need to send rocket systems which can travel 30, 40 miles to take out Russian forces as Russia begins to change its tactics to begin to focus exclusively on the east of Ukraine. This is very important.

LEMON: But how long will it take to get these? Is there, look, is there enough time now, considering that Russia is changing its tactics, and as we look at Bucha and we look at what's happening in Borodyanka, I mean, is there time?

HERBST: There is time to stall the next Russian offensive. The Ukrainians have beaten back the first Russian offensive. It's going to take Russia many weeks to assemble the troops and the equipment to begin a renewed offensive.

In the meantime, they can still do great damage as they've retreated from Kyiv, as they continue this assault I've just described on Mariupol. But any major Russian military gains will take new forces, new weapons, more time. And in the weeks to come, we should be able to get these systems to Ukraine. And this should be the highest priority. There should be no bureaucratic excuses. The White House should make this the highest priority of our policy to stop Russian aggression in Ukraine.

LEMON: Ambassador, thank you. We'll see you again here soon. We appreciate it.

HERBST: My pleasure. Thank you.

LEMON: The cost to Ukrainian civilians reaching unimaginable levels. Now Ukrainian authorities releasing new video appearing to show a Russian strike on a children's hospital in Mykolaiv.



LEMON: In his powerful and damning speech to the U.N. Security Council, President Zelenskyy not holding back, accusing Russian forces of killing Ukrainians for what he called pleasure of torturing innocent civilians. Incredibly, Russia's ambassador to the U.N. calling Zelenskyy's accusations, and I quote, "ungrounded and not confirmed by eyewitnesses."

I'm going to bring in now CNN's Ivan Watson who is in Ukraine for us tonight. Ivan?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Don, I was really struck by a statement, an announcement made by Russia's ambassador to the United Nations while speaking at the United Nations Security Council. And he said, quote, "we came to you to Ukraine not to conquer lands. We came to bring the long-awaited peace to the blood-soaked land of Donbas."

The actions, though, that we've seen this week, the fighting alone in the north and the east and the south of the country involving the Russian military suggests anything but bringing peace to this country. The military governor of the city of Kharkiv, the second largest city, a Russian-speaking city in the north, says that the city was hit by more than 50 long-range shells fired by Russia, which killed at least six people.

Meanwhile, we have evidence of two hospitals in the southern city of Mykolaiv being hit with eyewitnesses attesting to that from no less than the aid organization Doctors Without Borders.

Meanwhile, the encircled and besieged port city of Mariupol to the southeast of here, the Russian military has been obstructing a team from the International Committee of the Red Cross from trying to reach that city to try to figure out how to help evacuating some of the estimated more than 100,000 civilians that are caught in a daily grind of siege and urban combat.

In fact, the Red Cross team was detained by the Russian military on Sunday and not released until the next day on Monday. All of this suggests that what the Russian diplomat was saying to the United Nations Security Council is completely a contradiction of the death and destruction that the Russian military is doing on the ground in Ukraine day after day. Don?

LEMON: Ivan Watson, thank you very much. I appreciate that.

The former President Barack Obama was back in the White House today for the first time since he left office. What brought him back? That's next.




BARACK Obama, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Vice President Biden -- Vice president -- that was a joke.



LEMON: That was good. Slip of the tongue? Maybe. It wasn't. He said it was a joke. Former President Barack Obama. Maybe because it's the first time that he's been back at the White House in five years. The last time that he was there Obama welcomed the then President-elect Donald Trump the morning of Trump's inauguration and President Biden was his V.P. then. So, joining me now, CNN's chief political analyst Gloria Borger. That

was a wink and a nod. He knew exactly what he was doing. Hi, Gloria. How are you?


LEMON: First your reaction to seeing the former president back at the White House where his vice president is now the guy in charge.


BORGER: Well, it sorts of seemed to me like it was a genial class reunion. But you weren't quite sure what class it was.


BORGER: Was it the class of 2008? Was it the class of 2020? Was he vice president? Was Biden president? But what really struck me was the good nature of it all. And we don't see a lot of that. We haven't seen a lot of events at the White House at all inside because of COVID, of course.

But sort of this was a reunion between two men who share not only a political view but also a view towards civility in politics, and I think the fact that there was some fun and that Obama could make fun of the president was kind of refreshing to see. We don't see a lot of that these days.

LEMON: Yes. Listen, but it was -- you're right. And it was. But this was to celebrate -- it wasn't just a class reunion, right? It was to celebrate 12 years of the Affordable Care Act.


LEMON: Let's listen to him talk about it and then we'll discuss it.

BORGER: Exactly.

LEMON: Here it is. Yes.


OBAMA: We passed the ACA, I've said it before, it was a high point of my time here. Because it reminded me and it reminded us of what is possible. But of course, our work was not finished. Republicans tried to repeal what we had done. Again. And again. And again. They filed lawsuits that went all the way to the Supreme Court three times. I see Don Morillo (Ph) here who had to defend a couple of them.


OBAMA: They tried explicitly to make it harder for people to sign up for coverage. And let's face it, it didn't help that when we first rolled out the ACA the web site didn't work.

That was not one of my happiest moments. So given all the noise and the controversy and the skepticism, it took a while for the American people to understand what we had done. But lo and behold, a little later than I had expected, a lot of folks including many who had initially opposed health care reform came around. And today, the ACA hasn't just survived, it's pretty darn popular. And the reason is because it's done what it was supposed to do. It's made a difference.


LEMON: I, Gloria, you and I both sat here during the Obama presidency. They weren't laughing about those issues then.


LEMON: It's interesting how they can laugh about them now in hindsight in the rearview mirror. You can put everything into perspective. He is right about Obamacare's growing popularity, though, but it was a huge political liability during his tenure and President Biden -- right? Was right there for it. How do you think President Biden is putting that experience into practice when it comes to his agenda?

BORGER: Well, I think he's telling himself, you know, maybe things aren't too popular now but in the long run what I've done maybe the American public will appreciate it. But I think he learned one lesson from Obamacare.

And don't forget, when they started calling it Obamacare it was because Republicans wanted to label it Obamacare because it wasn't popular and now Barack Obama wants everyone to call it Obamacare because it is popular.

But I think the lesson he learned is that when you've got control of the Congress, as Biden does sort of, in numbers, that you ought to try and get your big things done up front because chances are when you head into those midterm elections, as Barack Obama knows in 2010, he took a shellacking, as he told us, and 2014 again, it could come back and hit you.

So, what they did was they tried to do -- they did the infrastructure bill. They tried to do build back better. That didn't get through because Democrats couldn't agree. And maybe the other lesson is, and the former president hinted at that today, maybe you shouldn't try and do too much all at once. If you fail, go back to the well and try and get pieces of what you wanted to get done because half a loaf is better than none at all.

And I think that's the lesson that Biden knows. I'm not sure progressives in the party agree with him. But that's what Barack Obama was trying to say today to members of his own party.

LEMON: More on the road ahead from the former president. Watch.


OBAMA: I'm a private citizen now. But I still take it more than a passing interest in the course of our democracy. But I'm outside the arena, and I know how discouraged people can get with Washington. Democrats, Republicans, independents. Everybody feels frustrated sometimes about what takes place in this town.


Progress feels way too slow sometimes. Victories are often incomplete. And in a country as big and as diverse as our consensus never comes easily. But what the Affordable Care Act shows is if you are driven by the core idea that together we can improve the lives of this generation and the next and if you're persistent, if you stay with it and are willing to work through the obstacles and the criticism and continually improve where you fall short you can make America better.


LEMON: So, the Democrats have a huge challenge coming up in the midterm elections, as you just spoke about that. What's -- was that the right message for that?

BORGER: Yes, I think it was. I think he was warning them. You know, Democrats, just get -- if you get a bunch of little things done you need -- you can go home and you can talk about it. And that's Obama's overall message to the Democratic Party, which is you're not telling the American people what you have done for them and you have to do a better job of doing that.

And I think that is what Joe Biden's going to do. He's going to go out on the campaign trail. He's going to talk about infrastructure. He's going to talk about expanding the Affordable Care Act. And they're going to try and say look, we didn't get everything we wanted but we did get you a lot in these first two years and more to come.

They know of course that the country is worried about the war. They're worried about the pandemic. They're worried about inflation. They're worried about gas prices. So, it's a difficult job. They're pushing the boulder up the hill. But they've got to do it.

LEMON: Hey, Gloria, quickly, when I was on the treadmill today and I heard the former president say what he said, I was like, that's a slip of the tongue. And then I heard it was a joke. And now I'm back to now the reporting is it was a slip of the tongue. What was it?

BORGER: Yes. Right. Well, according to Jeff Zeleny, our reporter at the White House, it was a slip of the tongue, according to two people he spoke with. But you know, Obama recovered pretty well, didn't he?

LEMON: Yes. As soon as I heard it, I was like, I just kind of laughed. He's used to saying that.

BORGER: You couldn't tell.

LEMON: And then -- and then you know, it was planned. And now it's not planned. Whatever. Whatever it is --


BORGER: Well, and then Biden saluted him. Biden saluted him, which was pretty quick.

LEMON: Gloria, it's always a pleasure having you on. Be well. I'll talk to you soon. Thank you.

BORGER: Good to see you, Don.

LEMON: Thank you. We'll be right back.