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Sources: Trump Jr Did Not Invoke 5th Amendment in Testimony; Oath Keepers Member Says Group's Leader Tried, Failed to Contact Trump on 1/6; WHO: Global COVID Death Toll 3X Higher Than Officially Reported; Cases in U.S. Soaring Across Northeast, Pacific Northwest; At Least 3 Killed in Suspected Terror Attack in Israel; Airlines Scramble Over Pilot Shortages Ahead of Summer. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired May 05, 2022 - 14:30   ET




VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Two sources tell CNN that Donald Trump Jr answered all of the January 6th committee questions and did not invoke the Fifth Amendment during his appearance yesterday.

CNN's Ryan Nobles has more from Capitol Hill.

So, Ryan, what else are you learning about what happened?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor, we know that this meeting took place virtually, And as you point out, it did not appear to be contentious. Donald Trump Jr answering all the questions that the committee had in front of him.

And there was probably a lot the committee wanted to talk to Donald Trump Jr about. He, of course, served as a key surrogate for his father during the 2020 campaign. He was involved in spreading disinformation about the election results after the election.

And then, of course, there was that text that he sent Mark Meadows on November 5th, just two days after the election, that listed off a long list of potential strategies that the campaign could take to prevent the certification of the election results.

And Trump Jr's appearance follows a pattern with members of the Trump family cooperating with the January 6th Select Committee. That includes his sister, Ivanka, his brother-in-law, Jared Kushner, and even his fiance, Kimberly Guilfoyle.

Have all sat and answered questions of the January 6th Select Committee. And from what we understand, they also answered those questions without pleading the Fifth or invoking privilege.

So this is just the committee zeroing in on an important part of the Trump family and their role as it relates to January 6th -- Victor?

BLACKWELL: Ryan, there's also a top member of the Oath Keepers who testified that he overheard the group's leader, Stewart Rhodes, trying to get in contact with former President Trump on the evening of January 6th.


What do you know about that?

NOBLES: Yes, this is significant, Victor, because it's the first connection that we've seen between this group and the White House on some level.

And it's this individual top leader in the Oath Keepers, William Todd Wilson, said this during his testimony.

He said that "Wilson heard Rhodes" -- Stewart Rhodes, being the leader of the Oath Keepers -- reportedly -- "repeatedly," I should say, "implore the individual to tell President Trump to call upon groups like the Oath Keepers to forcibly oppose the transfer of power."

"This individual denied Rhodes's request to speak directly with President Trump," Wilson said as part of his plea.

And this individual is not specifically identified but it is someone who had a direct line to the former president.

So, Victor, we have to see how this all plays into the case that Rhodes is involved in. But then also if it's part of the January 6th investigation, and also the Department of Justice's investigations into what took place on January 6th.

BLACKWELL: Many important puzzle pieces.

Ryan Nobles, on Capitol Hill for us, thank you so much.

NOBLES: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: We're following some breaking news out of Israel. At least three people have been killed, several others injured during a suspected terror attack. This is happening on Israel's Independence Day. We'll have more details ahead.



BLACKWELL: The World Health Organization just released a grim report on the pandemic. It says that the global COVID death toll is nearly triple the number originally reported.

The new number is nearly 15 million. They say 15 million people around the world died either directly or indirectly from COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021.

Dr. Leana Wen is a CNN medical analyst and former Baltimore health commissioner, also author of "Lifelines: A Doctor's Journey in the Fight for Public Health."

Dr. Wen, good to have you back. You and others have long said that the number, the estimates of those

who died from COVID was likely much higher. But triple. Is this what you expected?

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: It is, because we know that there's significant underreporting in some parts of the world.

And also, there's this idea of excess mortality, that it's not just the people who died from COVID but maybe individuals who had heart attacks or strokes or other medical conditions that were not treated because of this pandemic.

And I think the tragedy of it all is that when you look at the number of people who died, so many of them, including the majority here in the U.S., actually died from COVID after vaccines became widely accessible.

And so those really were preventable deaths.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk about what's happening here in the U.S. Put the map up where we're seeing the increases in cases.

You see a few states in red, meaning 50 percent more in the past week versus the previous week. Orange in the northeast, Pacific Northwest. What are we seeing here? Is this waning immunity?

WEN: I think what we're seeing is that there are more contagious variants and subvariants.

We talked about the original Omicron variant being extremely contagious. Then there was Ba.2, a subvariant that was more contagious than Omicron. And now there's a subvariant of Ba.2, this Ba.2.12.1, that's even more contagious.

So this probably is the pattern going forward. And this is the reason why we need to make sure that people are vaccinated and boosted, why we have to increase things like testing and treatments so that we can live with COVID.

Because COVID is not going away. We might see these waves of coronavirus into the future. We need to live our lives. And so these tools help us to do that.

BLACKWELL: Let's put up the vaccination numbers. Two-thirds of people are fully vaccinated, 30 percent have the booster. Right now, in the U.S., those 50 and older are eligible for a second booster.

Is it time to lower that age?

WEN: I don't think so. So, first of all, individuals who are moderately or severely immunocompromised are also able to get their second booster at this time.

In addition, there are a lot of people, including people over 65, who don't even have their first booster yet. And so we have to increase awareness of that first booster. And then I think also we need to define what is it that we are

boosting, as in, if the vaccines and the first booster, or in this case the second booster for people who are older, if that still protects you well against severe illness, then do we have to keep on boosting just to prevent infection?

And I think especially now we know how contagious these new variants are and how likely it is that we're all going to get COVID, I think it's important for us to reset the expectation.

And to talk about vaccines not as preventing all disease but specifically to prevent severe enough disease that causes hospitalization and death.

BLACKWELL: And Dr. Birx also says there's likely going to be a surge in the south, which we've seen in previous years during this pandemic. So, prepare for that as well.

Dr. Leana Wen, always good to have you. Thank you.


All right, just in time for the busy summer travel season, a pilot shortage is putting pressure on the airline industry, and companies are scrambling. We have more on that next.


BLACKWELL: We have more on the breaking news now. At least three people have been killed in Israel during a suspected terrorist attack. This is, for context, Israel's Independence Day.

CNN's Hadas Gold joins us now with details.

Hadas, what do you know?


HADAS GOLD, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: So what we know is about over an hour ago, around 8:30 p.m. local, the attack took place in Elad. This is a city, small city. Mostly orthodox people live there, east of Tel Aviv. It was not far from the Ben Gurion Airport.

From what we understand, police say it's a suspected terrorist attack. They say two suspects were involved in the incident, one possibly with a rifle and one who attack people with ax or a knife.

As of right now, the emergency services are saying three people were killed, four were injured, two are in serious condition, and the others are in moderate or mild condition.

No group or organization has yet taken credit for it. Although, Hamas, the militant organization that runs the Gaza Strip, has put out a statement quite quickly praising the attack.

And this is coming at a very tense time in Israel. Today, is Independence Day. But over the past few months, there have been a series of attacks in Israel that have killed at least 14 people.

As a result, the Israeli military have stepped up their raids in the West Bank. They say their counterterrorism operations. At least two dozen Palestinians have died as a result of clashes for raids.

There have been clashes at the Al-Aqsa Compound, also known as Temple Mount, a place in Jerusalem in the old city that is so holy to both Muslims and Jews. It's been an intense period.

And although Israel officials were hoping that the end of Ramadan, the end of the holidays would help bring some calm to the situation, they did tell me that they are aware that things still remain very tense, because of days like today, because of Israel's Independence Day.

Also, next week, Victor, is the one-year anniversary of the 11-Day War between Hamas militants in Gaza and the Israeli army -- Victor?

BLACKWELL: Hadas, I know this is still breaking and maybe police have not released this detail yet. But have they told you if they have those two suspects in custody or if they are still looking for them?

GOLD: We don't have that information just yet, whether they have those two suspects in custody.

All we know so far is that police are saying it is a suspected terror attack. And they said one of the suspects used a rifle and the other used either an axe or a knife in this attack in this central city of Elad in Israel -- Victor?

BLACKWELL: All right, Hadas Gold, with the breaking news for us there.

Hadas, thank you.

GOLD: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: "Hell in Mariupol." That's how the mayor is describing the current state of that city. Russians, they say, have breached the Azovstal Steel Plant. We'll take you to the region, ahead.



BLACKWELL: Airlines are now pushing back on new, tougher federal requirements to be a pilot. Here's the reason, not enough qualified people to fly planes.

And as air travelers are scrambling ahead of the travel season, there are calls for the FAA make some changes.

CNN aviation correspondent, Pete Muntean, talked to some people who questioned the idea of loosening the safety standards.

Understandable concern, Pete?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, airlines just argued this week that this should change.

It's known as the 1,500-Hour Rule. That's how much flying time that new airline pilots must have. But airlines call it a hurdle keeping people out of the industry.

Those who I talked to, the first to argue for this, say this just simply cannot change now.


MUNTEAN (voice-over): The airlines latest push to curb flight cancelations caused by a shortage of pilots cannot happen, say John and Marilyn Kausner.

MARILYN KAUSNER, LOST DAUGHTER TO PLANE CRASH: And this was her younger years, with all of her kitties.

MUNTEAN: Their daughter, Ellyce, was onboard Colgan Air flight 3407 the night of February 12, 2009, when it plunged into a Buffalo neighborhood. Ellyce was among 45 passengers and four crew who were killed.

JOHN KAUSNER, LOST DAUGHTER TO PLANE CRASH: I didn't get an opportunity to walk my daughter down the aisle.

MUNTEAN: After that crash, the Kausners fought to mandate more pilot experience. New airline pilots, once required to have 250 flying hours, now need 1,500 hours.

But some airline executives say that requirement is contributing to the shortage.

JONATHAN ORNSTEIN, CEO, MESA AIRLINES (voice-over): This is not a safety issue. And I think it's important that some of the politicians start to act and take this up because, if they don't, they're putting the industry in jeopardy.

KAUSNER: I -- I -- just flabbergasted that someone would say this worked perfectly, perfectly for 13 years. We haven't had a plane crash. And -- but we'd like to change it.

MUNTEAN: A change in regulations would be felt most in smaller regional airlines. Contracted by major carriers to operate short routes, they make up 40 percent of all flights in the United States.

Regional Airline Association president, Faye Malarkey Black, supports substituting some flight time for classroom time.

FAYE MALARKEY BLACK, PRESIDENT, REGIONAL AIRLINE ASSOCIATION: We should not be talking about rollback or repeal but add and replace and enhance so that we can open up training pathways to people who have not had access.

MUNTEAN: This week, an executive from JetBlue said pilots from other countries operate safely despite looser regulations.

Earlier this year, I asked United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby whether the rule should change.

SCOTT KIRBY, CEO, UNITED AIRLINES: I won't weigh into the debate on what the number of hours is.

MUNTEAN: NTSB investigators found the pilots of flight 3407 did not properly recognize an aerodynamic stall.

Ellyce Kausner's family says that was due to a lack of experience, something they insist regulators never forget.

KAUSNER: We put rules and regulations in place that have prevented plane crashes largely. And I -- that's the legacies. Let's not lower our safety standards. That's our legacy.



MUNTEAN: They are starting on a new FAA reauthorization bill. And flight 3407 families fear a change could get slipped in.

Remember, this was the last major fatal plane crash in the United States of a commercial airliner. Fifty people in total were killed, including one on the ground -- Victor?