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Don Lemon Tonight

Ukraine On Heightened Alert Ahead Of Russia "Victory Day"; The Hunt For A Corrections Officer And Inmate On The Run; New CNN Poll: 66% Against Overturning Roe v. Wade; Biden: "Fighting Inflation Is A Top Priority"; Sources: Putin's Reputed Girlfriend On Proposed EU Sanctions List. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired May 06, 2022 - 23:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN HOST: The Kremlin pushing for a win in Mariupol as Ukrainians desperately try to hold on to that steel plant.

Plus, European Union set to sanction Vladimir Putin's rumored girlfriend. She is believed to control enormous amounts of his wealth. So, why isn't the U.S. amounting sanctions too?

And the latest in the Alabama manhunt. Police finding the getaway car. The sheriff is sending a message to the corrections officer, who has been on the run for a week with a dangerous inmate.


RICK SINGLETON, SHERIFF, LAUDERDALE COUNTY, ALABAMA: You know we are going to find you. Hopefully, we find you safe. If you are safe right now, still safe, get out while you can.


LEMON: I am going to talk to the sheriff live this hour.

I want to go straight to CNN's Isa Soares for us in Lviv tonight. Isa, hello to you. It seems like everyone in Ukraine is on high alert tonight. What are you hearing from officials?

ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Don. That's right, officials here in Ukraine are really preparing citizens for what could come on Monday, May 9th, which is, of course, as we have been talking about, Russia's "Victory Day," a symbolic day for Russia, which under, you know, President Putin really has become a show of strength and military hardware.

The mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, has been urging residents to stay inside and take extra precautions from the 8th through the 9th of May, because he says, in the coming days, there could be an escalated risk of missile shelling in all regions of Ukraine or some sort of escalation by Russian forces as we head into that date. And though they are not formally imposing a curfew here, Don, we have been told that events will not be held during that time in Ukraine. What we know, there will be enhanced patrolling in the city as well.

For weeks now, officials as well as military experts I have been talking to, they have been telling me they expect the Russian generals to be under pressure somewhat to provide some sort of victory to Putin by this date.

And as one government official told me just last week, this could be the city of Mariupol, which you and I have been talking about a great length, which is currently, of course, battling for full control -- Russia battling for full control of it and has been besieged for weeks to an end. When I say the city of Mariupol, of course, what is left of the city of Mariupol, given that 95% has been completely decimated.

And, of course, I would remind our viewers that there are still civilians, of course, sheltering not just in Mariupol but also inside the Azovstal steel plant, which continues, of course, to be shelled relentlessly, Don.

LEMON: I understand, Isa, that you spoke to two former U.S. marines and a retired sergeant from Canada, who have been helping Ukrainian forces on the frontlines. What do they have to say?

SOARES: That is right, I spoke to two former U.S. marines, Doc and Rat, as they have asked to be identified, and to Shadow, who is a retired sergeant from Canada. Now, they have been in the last few days, they came to Lviv where I am from the frontlines in the east of Ukraine and now was really keen on to get a sense of what they saw and really what they experienced on the frontlines.

I was somewhat taken aback by what they told me, to be completely honest with you, that in their experience with one particular unit that they have been fighting alongside with, that those Ukrainian forces, they said, are ill-equipped and cut off from resources.

It is important to note here for our viewers that they are self- funding their mission here to Ukraine, and they are doing so at great expense because they have been moved, they tell me, by the atrocities they have seen. Have a look at a clip from my piece.


UNKNOWN: It is a miracle, straight-up miracle that we are still alive.

DOC, FORMER U.S. MARINE: You basically have to be a tank or artillery or an aircraft right now to fight in the eastern front.

SOARES (voice-over): So far, the U.S. has approved more than $3 billion in military assistance to Ukraine, including thousands of javelins, stinger missiles and other critical weapons, equipment that these former U.S. marines say they haven't seen.

DOC: The stuff from these packages need to get to the front.

SOARES (voice-over): So much so they are being teased about it.

RAT, FORMER U.S. MARINE: We even have guys coming up to us with Google translate (ph), where are the howitzers, where is Biden's help or where is NATO's help?


SOARES: And Don, this is, of course, their own experience in one unit, but it does raise some question into where is the military hardware that has been provided by the west, as I said in that piece, including some $3 billion in U.S. military assistance to Ukraine.

Now, we have reached out to the Ukraine Defense Ministry for comment on the claims that you heard from the foreign fighters, but we have yet to receive a response.

But I can tell you that the two former U.S. marines, they are staying in the country, they are as of last night on their way to the frontlines, while the Canadian will be staying in Kyiv -- in Lviv to help out with humanitarian corridors as he just learned that he is going to be a father.


LEMON: Isa, thank you very much. I appreciate that. I want to bring in now retired U.S. Army Major Mike Lyons to talk more about what we just -- some of what we just heard from Isa. Thank you for joining us.


LEMON: I appreciate it. So, the Pentagon has been saying that the military gear is getting to Ukraine between 24 and 48 hours. But you just heard the two former marines there. They told Isa, you know, it is not making it to the frontlines, in their beliefs. How big of a problem is that? Because it is not the first time. We had a guest on our show who said -- had similar sentiments about this.

LYONS: There is a long logistical supply chain, no question about that, 400,000 miles from the Polish border to where the front is right now, and they're prioritizing, I'd like to think, the javelins. The things that could go light and go quick are getting there first. The towed artillery and the self-propelled artillery are going to take a while.

And likely, the Russian strikes on the rail lines have interjected that somewhat. There is just no other way around it. But the fact of the matter is that that stuff is there, you know, ready to go. I think it is just a matter of time before it gets there.

Also, I would like to know specifically where they are because clearly the Ukraine military is doing things in the northeastern part in Kharkiv, for sample, with artillery that is pushing the Russians outside of their own artillery range right now. So, they are getting something. It is just that those soldiers don't appear to have yet equipment. LEMON: So, it depends on where you are?

LYONS: Yeah, I think that is really the issue. And that is how logistics gets prioritized.

LEMON: So, President Biden has announced another $150 million in security assistance to Ukraine and that is including artillery, munitions, and radars. What kind of difference, do you think, that is going to make on the battlefield?

LYONS: It is going to continue to make a difference as this is becoming an artillery fight and where it is existing in the Donbas region there. And the fact of the matter is the artillery that we are giving the Ukraine military has standoff against what Russia has, which means that they can fire at a greater distance than it could be fired back at.

So, as -- and also, every single round that the Russians fire has a return address. So, the acute 36 radars have been part of the initial package. Those things are going to be used to precisely target them and the return.

Russia conducts field artillery as if it is World War II. They take a big square area and they just kind of throw artillery at and they destroy it. You see from the pictures, right? The artillery that is coming from the west, it is all precision, it is almost guided, they will be loitering ammunition in the air as well. It will be much more accurate. That is why we are blowing up commanding control centers. That is why Russian generals are getting killed, because the targeting is so much more precise.

LEMON: That is what is going to make precision artillery, that will make the difference?

LYONS: That is the difference. That is the new kind of this century's warfare when it comes to artillery. In the old days, artillery was a weapon of mass -- deploy multiple rounds at time in gray areas and wasn't sure if it's going to hit anything. Now, it is going to hit its target with a lot of firepower.

LEMON: Ukrainians now are accusing Russia of forcing people -- forcing civilians into these filtration camps. An adviser to the mayor of Mariupol released this video that they claim shows one of the -- ghetto like facilities that they have there. You said that this is right out of Putin's playbook.

LYONS: Yeah.

LEMON: Tell me about that.

LYONS: Probably the most overused term here, Putin's playbook or Stalin's playbook, actually. These are concentration camps designed to re-educate the men, separate the men from their families. They will likely be moved into one location. The women and children take in someplace else.

LEMON: You call them concentration camps?

LYONS: Yeah, that is really what they are. Because they are designed -- you know, they would have done this in Kyiv if they had the opportunity. They can do it here now because they have more forces there. They would have done this in other places already. They are just, you know, kind of showing off at this point.

LEMON: The assault on the steel plant in Mariupol is just terrific. How much worse do you expect this battle to get as we move closer to this Russia "Victory Day?"

LYONS: That battalion is not going to give that up. There is something like seven layers underneath that steel plant. The tunnels in there would make the North Koreans and the (INAUDIBLE) blush in terms of how sophisticated it is. And the Russians don't have really the (INAUDIBLE) to go into those tunnels and try to fight that way out. They are re-stocked with equipment.

So, that battle is going to go on for a while unless we can negotiate something to get some of the soldiers out to survive, but they are not going to give it up.

LEMON: Do you agree with what Isa says said that they've got -- the Russian soldiers are under pressure to get something for Putin by "Victory Day?"

LYONS: Oh, absolutely. I think that they will declare something. It is really the Russian general officers that have failed miserably in this whole campaign. They have not put anything together that has stuck and given them kind of victory. They still, the Donbas region and above itself, they still haven't taken these towns that they should have taken weeks and almost months ago.

So, they are going to try to find something. They are going to declare a victory here. It looks like it is going to be Mariupol. They are going to have a parade. They are going to do something. It is going to be a victory.

LEMON: Major Lyons, thank you very much. We learned a lot. I appreciate it.

I want to turn now to CNN's Matthew Change in Moscow, who has the latest on what the Kremlin is saying about their "Victory Day" holiday.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nighttime on the cobbles of Red Square.


CHANCE (voice-over): Russia's military is plotting its next steps. This is a rehearsal for the annual "Victory Day" parade, every May 9th, commemorating the Soviet defeat of Nazi Germany. It is also a dramatic stage for the Kremlin to showcase its military power and to celebrate.

I'm looking forward to its grand scale, says this man. We'll show the power and strength of our country, he says. Though, who really needs a reminder?

These are the latest brutal images from Ukraine where Russia is continuing what it calls its special military operation. The Kremlin says this is also a fight against Nazis. And even though Ukraine has a Jewish president, it's being drilled into Russians that their country soldiers are yet again battling fascists. It's a comparison dismissed in the west, but which many Russians seem prepared to accept.

Every year, I go to these rehearsals, says this man, who gives his name as Miesha (ph). But I think this year, it's more special, because of the special military operation happening in Ukraine, he says. Today, I wave the flag to support our army, but I hope it will end soon, he adds. A hint of awareness, perhaps, at the horrific cost.

This is what "Victory Day" is meant to mark, the Soviet Union's role in the allied victory in the Second World War. Russia sustained millions of casualties paying an enormous sacrifice.

But the power of a military parade to bolster national pride has never been lost on the Kremlin's leaders, most of all, President Putin, whose "Victory Day" parades have for years heralded Russia's resurgence as a military power.

The speculation, this year's parade will form the backdrop for a major announcement on Ukraine. "Victory Day" still marks Russia's triumphant past. What the Kremlin really wants is to celebrate that elusive victory in the present.

(On camera): Don, the Kremlin says that this year's "Victory Day" parade will be somewhat smaller than in previous years. There won't be any foreign dignitaries invited and it is going to be a much more of a Russia only affair.

That said, there will still be 11,000 Russian troops on parade through the center of the Russian capital, 131 weapon systems on display, according to the Kremlin, and some 77 aircrafts. So, it is still going to be a spectacular show of Russian force. Don, back to you.


LEMON: All right. Thank you, Matthew. I appreciate that.

The getaway car found. Hundreds of tips from across the country. We've got the very latest on the hunt for a corrections officer and inmate on the run since last week. I'm going to talk to the sheriff next.



(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: So, we have some new developments tonight in the hunt for an Alabama corrections officer and an inmate on the run for a week. U.S. Marshals have found the getaway car. Vicky White and Casey White, no relation, the car that they used to escape, they found it. It was abandoned a week ago in Tennessee. Locked with no tags or identifying information.

Officials say it may have had mechanical issues. Yesterday, it was identified as belonging to Vicky White.

So, joining me now is Lauderdale County, Alabama sheriff, Rick Singleton. He is joining us again. We do appreciate you joining us again. Good evening to you. Thank you, sir.

SINGLETON: Yes, sir. Thank you.

LEMON: Any new leads before we talk about this car?

SINGLETON: Well, not since this morning when we found that we did have the car.

LEMON: Okay. So, you did find their escape vehicle. It was found before authorities even knew that they were gone. But officials are searching for the area for -- searching that area for any leads. Any more clues that you can tell us about as to where they might be?

SINGLETON: No. Right now, we still have no idea where they might be. We know they went north when they left here on Friday. Of course, we mentioned the car was actually found at about 1:50, Friday afternoon, less than four hours after they left here.

So, you know, we canvassed the area to see if anyone who lives in the area saw anything, saw them. We are searching to see for any stolen vehicle reports anywhere in the vicinity. So, we're trying to develop our own leads and we are still dependent on the public to call and lead them to us.

LEMON: Do you think that they can be trying to throw you off the trail with, you know, leaving an abandoned car, you know?

SINGLETON: That's a possibility, but I really think that they probably just had car trouble and they just had to abandon it. They couldn't go anywhere with it.

LEMON: They just ditched it. The vehicle looks like it was spray- painted.


You say it may have had mechanical issues, as you said. Do you think something went wrong with their plan besides just the car that, you know, broke?

SINGLETON: Well, just leaving the car there was not a part of their plan. I think, absolutely, something went wrong with their plan. I think probably last Friday when that happened, they were very nervous and very concerned about the situation they were in. Obviously now, a week later, they've probably overcome that and got more back into a routine.

LEMON: You say that Vicky White is using her law enforcement background to stay ahead of investigators. U.S. Marshals yesterday put out renderings of what she could look like with darker hair. They're up there on the screen now. Do you expect that she's monitoring the media, adjusting plan based on all the information being put out?

SINGLETON: I think -- I don't know for sure. I hope she is because one thing that I think they did not plan on is the extensive media coverage that this case has gotten. They can't stick their head out anywhere without somebody seeing them. So, I think that's really going to cause some issues for them. And I think eventually, they're going to chance it, somebody is going to see them, and we're going to get them.

LEMON: Sheriff, Vicky White withdrew $90,000 from banks in the weeks before the escape. We also know that she sold her home for $95,000 days before disappearing. I mean, do you believe she has, you know, $95,000 in cash or could have more financial resources to try to stay hidden?

SINGLETON: Well, we think -- we obviously know she has that much. The thing about it, she is using cash, but whether she is using cash or card or whatever, she's going to have to get out to spend it. She can't spend it if she's hold up somewhere. She's going to have to get out in the public to get food, to get whatever and pay in cash. That just gives us that many more opportunities for somebody to spot her.

LEMON: Yeah. This woman was in a position of authority. You say inmates helped confirm the nature of her relationship with Casey White. But was there some oversight here? I mean, should other officials have caught on to what was going on?

SINGLETON: Well, you know, it's very difficult, you know, to say that. We looked at the footage. On the video footage, we've been able to review their -- she didn't really spend any extraordinary amount of time there.

The inmates that were in the cell with Casey White did report they did have a relationship, said that they would pass notes back and forth. You know, passing information to the inmates or whatever is not necessarily something unusual.

She just didn't do anything that attracted attention, I don't think, from any of her co-workers that would make them think that something was going on.

LEMON: Sheriff Singleton, we appreciate you joining us once again. Good luck on your search.

SINGLETON: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: Thank you. A new CNN poll showing two-thirds of Americans don't want the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. But the electoral impact may not be what you think. We're going to explain. That is next.




LEMON: So, a brand-new CNN poll out tonight finding 66% of Americans don't want the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. That after the leak of a draft opinion from the court revealed that they'll likely strike down Roe.

Joining me now, CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein and CNN global affairs analyst and staff writer for "The New Yorker" Susan Glasser. Good evening to both of you.

Ron, the Supreme Court is probably about to do something wildly unpopular with most Americans. Safe to say that there are other decisions that have been unpopular. But what is the impact going to be if this is -- if they do go against the majority on this?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think you have to look at both the short term and the long term. I mean, the short term, we don't entirely know. Right now, the decision, if it holds, comes at a moment where Democrats are startling the midterm in a deep hole partly because the president's party always -- seemingly always does poorly in the first midterm, but also because of inflation and other issues.

This has the potential to narrow the enthusiasm gap over time. In this poll today, we saw two-thirds again opposing overturning Roe, but only half said that they have heard a great deal about the decision, and 60% of people under 45 who are those who oppose it the most have heard a great deal about the draft.

One number really jumped out at me, Don. Eighty-seven percent of the minority who wants to overturn Roe say they are voting republican in the midterm election. Only 62% of the majority who want to sustain Roe now say they are voting democratic. So, that is the task ahead for Democrats to make this more relevant and better known for voters who they have a chance of moving into their camp.


LEMON: Susan, 59% of Americans support Congress passing a law to protect abortion access, but that seems very unlikely to happen, really. Do you think people out there just feel defeated at this point?

SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, you know, Don, it is a good question. I mean, they don't have the votes to do this in the U.S. Senate. They seem to be planning to proceed anyways with, essentially, a political message. The bottom line is that in a 50-50 Senate, they simply do not have the ability to pass that kind of a national law. That is one of the things Democrats would campaign on. One assumes in the campaign leading up to the midterms and say, if you elect a big enough majority, this is the kind of bill that will pass.

But, you know, essentially, people have become accustomed to kind of gridlock and permanent partisanship. I think that is the problem, in a way, is that you have a situation where Democrats have no choice but to make abortion more of a partisan issue. Your poll and what Ron just said pointed out the reason why, Democrats need more voters to see this as a defining issue in the fall than currently do right now.

LEMON: Yeah. Ron, let's talk more about some of what you mentioned, about whether Roe v. Wade will drive voters out to the midterms. The polling shows --


LEMON: -- enthusiasm to vote is up. But the thing is it is up almost evenly in both party.


LEMON: So, what does that say?

BROWNSTEIN: Right. Well, look, it says that there are rarely single issues, silver bullets for the underlying dynamics in any given election. You know, Don, the tendency of the party out of the White House to turn out in bigger numbers in the president's first midterm is basically unbroken since the Civil War. So, you know, you had to start without understanding that this is a very ingrained, entrenched kind of pattern.

Having said that, if there is anything that allows Democrats to try to narrow that gap, I think abortion will be right at the top of the list. And the reason is that -- one of the problems Democrats have is they have a coalition that is heavily dependent on young people. Young people vote less in midterms to begin with.

And also, Joe Biden's approval rating among young people is now around 40%, 20 points down from his foe in 2020. There isn't a lot of enthusiasm for him. But, as we mentioned, that poll shows that three quarters of Americans under 45 do not want Roe overturned. That is an overwhelming mandate.

And so, I think if there is anything that could help Democrats motivate more of those voters to come out then we have typically seen in midterms -- by the way, they did turnout in 2018. They were a big part of the equation then. Abortion does have the potential, particularly with the younger (INAUDIBLE) and particularly with younger women who have never known in America where abortion wasn't legal, to try to narrow that gap.

LEMON: Susan, we got to talk about your new piece that is out in "The New Yorker." It is titled, "Partisanship is Biden's Only Choice After the Supreme Court Leak." So, listen, he seems to be listening. Watch.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: What are the next things that are going to be attacked? Because this MAGA crowd is really the most extreme political organization that has existed in American history, in recent American history.


LEMON: There are similar sentiments, what you're saying now. This may be the Democrats' only way, maybe it's Biden's only way. Why do you say this is his only choice now?

GLASSER: Well, I think our politics is such that, you know, Biden campaigned as Barack Obama added, as Bill Clinton, as a uniter, not a divider. Remember, Barack Obama said, I'm going to be the president of all America, not blue America, not red America. Joe Biden said the same thing. He campaigned on the idea essentially of restoring a kind of pre-Trumpian normalcy to our politics. But he has found in the first two years that is not possible.

You know, his only hope is in turnout election to motivate Democratic voters. You know, I think that is why they are looking at this potential decision to reverse Roe as possibly generating the enthusiasm that Democrats have not been able to generate up to this point in the election.

But that involves the president going much more hardline partisan, much more appealing to his base, much more on giving up on the idea of bipartisan deals that he hasn't been able to make after the initial success with infrastructure and COVID.

And so, I think that, basically, it is sort of saying, is this the end I'm going to be a uniter, not just for Joe Biden but any president in the system that we have right now actually aspire to unite a country that is just not unitable.

LEMON: Thank you both. Thanks, Susan. Thanks, Ron. I appreciate it.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

LEMON: President Biden taking credit for a big increase in jobs.


LEMON: But Americans are still worried about inflation and a possible recession. We are going to talk to a former Obama advisor about what he tells the president, next.


LEMON: The U.S. economy adding 428,000 jobs last month. It brings jobs back to near pre-pandemic levels.

[23:40:00] President Biden taking time to tout the strong jobs report while visiting a manufacturer facility -- factory, I should say, in Ohio earlier today.


BIDEN: Today's job report shows that our plans and priorities have produce the strongest job creation in the modern times of the American economy. Today's report shows that we created 428,000 jobs last month. That means that we have now created a total of 8.3 million jobs in my first 15 months in office.


LEMON: Let's discuss now. David Axelrod is here. He is CNN's senior political commentator and a former Obama senior advisor. David, good to see you. Thanks for joining.

President Biden taking credit for the strong job numbers. But high inflation is dragging him down. We are in election year right now. He wants to sell the win (ph), but he is also having to acknowledged the real difficulties that Americans are dealing with like prices at the gas pump or the supermarket. How does he thread this needle here?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER PRESIDENT OBAMA SENIOR ADVISOR: It really is a threading of the needle, Don. He understandably wants to take credit and should take credit for these enormously positive jobs report and the fact that 95% of the jobs that were lost during the recession that was created by the anti-pandemic measures that were taken have now been recovered. That is a great accomplishment.

But that is not what people are feeling in their lives right now. They go to the gas pump, they go to the grocery store, they see these price increases that have eaten up substantial wage gains, and they are worry about it.

And so, you know, I learned this when I was working for President Obama and we were making progress during the great recession. You have to be very careful about how you tout economic progress, if people are not feeling it. So, you have to continue to stress the things that you are going to do and have to do to try and bring those prices down.

LEMON: Well, you know, that said, the economy does continue to rank as a top concern for Americans. In the latest polling that we have from CNN --


LEMON: -- it shows 34% approve -- 34% of President Biden's handling of the economy. Presidents don't typically have a lot of control over the economy, but, you know, they get to blame for it. So --

AXELROD: Exactly.

LEMON: Why would you tell him to -- what would you be advising him to do?

AXELROD: I would be advising him to -- you know, his strength as a politician has always been the guy from Scranton, the guy who understands how everyday people live and feel. And right now, everyday people are feeling stressed about the economy. He needs to identify himself with their concerns, and he needs to go after those who are responsible for raising prices.

I mean, you know, focusing on things like pharmaceutical prices is a good thing to do. Focusing on bringing manufacturing back to the U.S. to deal with some of the supply chain issues that are very much responsible for some of the inflation that we are experiencing is a good thing to do.

The problem is, Don, none of them are going necessarily going to yield results between now and November. But you have to get caught trying, and I think that is what he will probably try and do.

LEMON: In the last couple of weeks, the president had lunches with both former President Clinton and former President Barack Obama. What do you think these former presidents are telling Biden, similar to what you're saying?

AXELROD: Yes, I think so. And also, I think they are probably telling him that they need to -- this can't just be a referendum on him. The Republicans bear some responsibility here. They are not really offering very much in the way of solutions. Now, you have the added issue of Roe v. Wade. So, there are some things to work with.

The question, I think, I would be posing strategically if I were him is, are these Republicans really about the business of trying to address the day-to-day concerns of everyday people or are they just promising more chaos and political vengeance, which it feels like at times? I think that is a promising path to pursue.

And the dissolution of Roe, if that is what happens, is going to add to some anxiety about the approach that the Republicans are taking. So, I am sure all of that is being discussed at the White House.

But, look, I for him and I feel for those who are working very hard on these issues. They had to pull this economy out of the (INAUDIBLE) that it was in because of this pandemic. There are all kinds of permutations from the pandemic. A lot of them are out of his control.

By the way, the war in Ukraine has added to some of the stress, and yet they are going to be held accountable for it.


AXELROD: That is a tough position to be in. I know, I have been there, it is not comfortable.

LEMON: You know, this week, we also saw a big change in President Biden's political rhetoric. He came directly for President Trump and his MAGA followers. He called them the most extreme political group in recent American history. The start of a greater reboot, you think, in Biden's strategy and messaging heading into the midterms that maybe, you know, there is no kumbaya, it can't be -- let's do this bipartisan thing and they are all going to go along with me?

AXELROD: You know, he is instinct, Don, a guy who has spent his whole life working across the aisle with Republicans. I think he still probably would like to do that --

LEMON: That doesn't work anymore, David. That doesn't work --

AXELROD: As an electoral matter, as an electoral matter, he needs to motivate some Democratic voters who seem like or seemed before this Roe issue arose like they were headed for the sidelines in this election. Turnout is very, very important in the election, and he needs to make this a choice and not a referendum. So, I think you're seeing the beginnings of that strategy.

LEMON: Yeah. The reason I say that doesn't work anymore is that I think there are other people who are in the Senate, who are in the Congress, who may feel the way that Joe Biden does, but they just don't speak up and they just go along with the extremes of the party. So, that's why I said it doesn't work anymore.


LEMON: It would be great if it did.

AXELROD: I understand your point.

LEMON: Yeah.

AXELROD: You know, I mean, at the end of the day, he did get this infrastructure bill done.

LEMON: Right.

AXELROD: I think he'd like to get other things done. Highly unlikely that that is going to happen in the next two and a half years --

LEMON: Yeah.

AXELROD: -- as we turn the corner into a presidential race.

LEMON: Thank you, David. Have a good weekend. I appreciate you joining us.

AXELROD: Good to see you, Don. Thank you. You, too.

LEMON: Thanks. We'll be right back.



(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: New sanctions may be on the way for those closest to Russian President Vladimir Putin. CNN learning the woman widely believed to be Putin's long-time girlfriend is named on a proposed list of European Union sanction targets.

CNN's Brian Todd has all the details.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She has been linked romantically to Vladimir Putin for more than a decade, although he has always denied it. An early photograph of them together at the time she was a decorated gymnast shows Putin looking infatuated with her. Tonight, the E.U. appears set to level new sanctions on Alina Kabaeva, according to two European diplomatic sources.

LOUISE SHELLEY, PROFESSOR, GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY: This is very personal. She is not only part of his inner circle, but she also probably holds a lot of money for Putin.

TODD (voice-over): Kabaeva also late last month in a rare public appearance at a gymnastics event in Moscow spoke out in support of Putin's war in Ukraine.

ALINA KABAEVA, VLADIMIR PUTIN'S REPUTED GIRLFRIEND (through translator): Every family has a history of war, and we shouldn't forget about it. We should hand it over from generation to generation.

BEN JUDAH, SENIOR FELLOW, THE ATLANTIC COUNCIL: Alina Kabaeva has participated in a lot of propaganda efforts to shore up the Putin regime over the years.

SCOTT (voice-over): Kabaeva and Putin have rarely been seen in public together, but analysts say she and her family have gotten rich because of her close ties to the Russian president.

SHELLEY: She spends much of her time overseas, even though she has lavished properties in Russia to the tune of tens of millions of dollars.

TODD (voice-over): Experts say targeting Putin's purported girlfriend for sanctions is a cold-eyed (ph) method of punishing the former KGB colonel for the Ukraine invasion.

JUDAH: One of the levers to make him feel the cost of this is to sanction those closest to him, and American officials believe that she is very close, indeed.

TODD (voice-over): Putin's two adult daughters from his first marriage were sanctioned by the U.S. last month. A U.S. official confirmed their names are Mariya Putina, who also goes by the name Maria Vorontsova, and Katerina Tikhonova, shown here speaking at an economic conference. Both are believed to be in their mid-30s.

CASEY MICHAEL, KLEPTOCRACY INITIATIVE, THE HUDSON INSTITUTE: We know they travel widely, especially in the west. We know one of them, Katerina, was married to Russia's youngest billionaire. We know that she also tried to pursue a career in acrobatic rock and roll. The other one, Mariya, we don't know quite as much about. We know she has pursued or at least purportedly pursued a career in medical sciences.

TODD (voice-over): As for Alina Kabaeva, last month, "The Wall Street Journal" reported that U.S. officials had debated whether to place American sanctions on her, but held off out of concerns that so personal a strike at Putin would escalate tensions even more.

Now that the E.U. could soon sanction Kabaeva and the U.S. has already sanctioned Putin's daughters --

SHELLEY: Putin might take this personally and strike out more at Ukraine and against the U.S.

TODD (on camera): Analysts say there is also Putin's ex-wife, Lyudmila, the mother of Mariya and Katerina, who also may have accounts where Putin is hiding his assets. One expert who tracks Putin's finances says he doesn't believe that Lyudmila has been placed under sanctions yet, but he says that could be coming as the U.S. seeks to ratchet up the personal pressure on Vladimir Putin. Don?


LEMON: Brian Todd, thank you. We'll be right back.




LEMON: Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, anti-Asian hate crimes have surged in the U.S., increasing 164% early last year in 16 of the nation's largest cities.

This week, CNN Heroes salutes Michelle Tran, a Chinese and Vietnamese- American whose nonprofit Soar Over Hate has provided more than 25,000 personal safety devices, as well as self-defense classes to Asian- Americans. Turnout for the organization's recent event in New York shows how worried their community is about safety.


MICHELLE TRAN, CNN HERO: The day of our distribution, the line surpassed four blocks around the neighborhood where people waited almost two hours to obtain a personal safety device from us.


(voice-over): To make the noise, you pull out the pin, and it scares people away and alerts people around you.