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Nonstop Shelling of Azovstal Plant; Intensifying Fighting at Mariupol Steel Plant; Effort to Provide Shelter, Aid to the Internally Displaced; U.S. Fed Raises Interest Rates Half a Percentage Point; Rate Hike Pushes U.S. Stocks to Best Day in Two Years; CDC Chief Says More People May Die If Abortion Rights Removed; Audio Recordings Reveal Top U.S. House Republican Spoke About Having Trump Removed from Office. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired May 05, 2022 - 04:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and a very warm welcome to our viewers joining us in the United States and all around the world. I am Isa Soares coming to you live from Lviv, Ukraine. And we are following the breaking news coverage of the war across this country and the battle for Mariupol. And just ahead.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): For two days now, the enemy has broken into the territory of the plant.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We will continue to do everything to get all our people out of Mariupol.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): But now I have to open a new chapter. My family's new chapter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Terrible crimes are being committed as we speak. So, each and every day brings more evidence.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a different world right at this moment, because of Ukraine and Russia.


SOARES: Welcome to the show everyone, it is 11 a.m. here in Ukraine and we are awaiting word on whether Russia has made good on its latest pledge to allow civilians to evacuate from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol. Humanitarian corridors announced by Moscow are supposed to be open right now, in fact they were supposed to be opened as of two hours ago. But that promise, of course, comes as Russian forces have been doing the opposite.

In Mariupol official says the complex faced nonstop shelling overnight, describing the situation is being like hell on earth. Those were his words. While civilians are trapped there, along with the city's last Ukraine defenders, as well as 30 children me I add. A Ukrainian commander inside of the plant says despite the escalations, they've been able to hold off the Russian advances, have a listen.


LT. COL. DENYS PROKOPENKO, AZOV REGIMENT COMMANDER (through translator): For two days now, the enemy has broken into the territory of the plant. These are heavy, bloodied battles. I am proud of my soldiers who are making superhuman efforts to contain the enemies onslaught.


SOARES: Well, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says that 334 people were evacuated from Mariupol, as well as nearby areas on Wednesday. What we don't know is if any of them were rescued from the steel plant.

The Ukrainian military says Russians have had, quote, no success with efforts to break through the frontlines in both Luhansk and Donetsk regions over the past 24 hours. And Ukraine has said Russian forces have made few advances in that area, despite heavy bombardment.

Now a missile strike hit the city of Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region overnight. Authorities there say that at least six people were injured in a school and several buildings -- as you can see there -- were severely damaged.

New drone footage meanwhile from the town of Popasna in the Luhansk region shows stunning devastation left behind by Russian attacks. The drone appears to have been used by the Russian military as they tracked Ukrainian troops amid intense street fighting.

Meanwhile, progress is being reported on the ground in a counteroffensive in the Kharkiv region, where forces have taken back more territory. Ukraine has now retaken the village of Molodova, which is just 21 kilometers, or about 13 miles from the Russian border and should not be confused with Moldova the country. It is the latest village to come back under Ukrainian control in the last two weeks.

More now on the dire situation for the civilians and soldiers trapped inside of that steel plant in Mariupol. Sarah Snider reports on the escalating battles being fought in there.


VADYM BOICHENKO, MARIUPOL, UKRAINE MAYOR (through translator): Our brave boys are defending this fortress, but it's really hard.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): SIDNER (voice over): A grueling, bloody battle as Russian forces try to distinguish the last pocket of Ukrainian fighters holed up in Mariupol's sprawling steel plant. Video from Russian separatists shows tanks moving in, a barrage of explosions from the air. According to a senior U.S. defense official, a couple of thousand Russian forces are still in the devastated city. Russia's defense minister claims Putin's forces have reliably blocked the Ukrainian fighters cornered in the plant. The Ukrainian foreign minister says the plant still hold despite the relentless Russian attacks.

"OUTFRONT" spoke to one of the Ukrainian commanders inside the plant on Monday. At the time, he spoke about their fight.

CAPTAIN SVIATOSLAV PALAMAR, STATIONED INSIDE MARIUPOL'S AZOVSTAL STEEL PLANT (through translator): We will be fighting as long as it is needed, despite extremely difficult conditions.


SIDNER (voice over): According to the Mayor of Mariupol, there are still hundreds of civilians inside that plant including 30 children.

And tonight, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a private phone call was urging the UN Secretary-General to help save the lives of the people who remain in danger. And for those who have managed to escape, you can see it in their faces, just how difficult it has been -- little food, no water, none of life's essentials. A far cry from the way things used to be.

TATYANA, EVACUEE FROM MARIUPOL (through translator): This one girl said you can start your life on a new page, but I don't want to. My previous pages were so clean and light, I want to go back to my pages and I know that it's impossible.

SIDNER (voice over): And while the grinding assault continues, a different story is being told in Russia. A state TV host returning to the air after visiting Mariupol, the man known to many as the voice of Putin claims those remaining in Mariupol don't want Russia to leave. Propaganda, plain and simple.


SOARES: Sara Sidner reporting there. Well as you can imagine, the number of Ukrainians fleeing the fighting is rising by the day. The U.N. says that more than 5.6 million people have left Ukraine since the war began. That's almost 8 million others are internally displaced within Ukraine. Many of them, of course, as you can imagine in dire need.

Well, Move Ukraine is a group working to build homes and provide other aid for the internally displaced. I spoke with its project director, John Shmorhun, in the last hour and asked him with the greatest need was right now.


JOHN SHMORHUN, DIRECTOR, HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE, UKRAINE EDUCATION PLATFORM: What we are seeing is from our donors, that there is a market decrease in the amount of food supplies that we are getting but. SOARES: Why is that?

SHMORHUN: Because of the cost of food. The logistics are still, there but the cost of food is going through the roof. And therefore, a lot of donors are finding themselves looking for other suppliers, for example going through Turkey, the Canadian/Ukrainian Foundation that has been supplying us with food packets. Have been going through Turkey now to supply us with those food boxes for the IDPs.

SOARES: What I heard, I mean sorry, my phone just alerted me that there is a siren going off here in Lviv, warning us of course that there could be missiles going over the area. This is something that we've seen more of in the last 24 hours. I think yesterday I think were two or three, so it's definitely becoming more frequent. This is obviously the first alert. I get it first on my phone and then we are told obviously, this is alert for people to go into bunkers. So, we'll stay on top of this and monitor the situation of course.

But what I was saying was that, you know, yesterday the mayor -- the deputy mayor of Lviv was on the show and he was saying to me, look, what we've seen that there targeting -- Russia's targeting supply lines, infrastructure. But he was more worried about the rain and the impact that's going to have on food and the delivery of food. What do you say to that?

SHMORHUN: Well certainly, we know that the Russians have been removing about 400,000 tons of grains from Ukraine to Russia. Russia is targeting grain elevators in Ukraine. Russia is obviously mining agricultural fields, all of this, this combination will result in increases in prices in grains, particularly in wheat.

SOARES: And I mean, and that, using food as a method, of course, you know, to avoid -- it's incredibly important here and something that you have talked about.

SHMORHUN: Yes, it reminds many of Ukrainians of the 32, 33 famine in Ukraine called the Holodomor. People know that and this is why for many, many decades, people could plant their own gardens to make sure that they have enough food to eat, yes.

SOARES: In terms of what you are doing on the ground and the stories you're hearing, give me a sense of what people are telling you. Because of course, many have left, as we outlining there and that graphic. There are 7 million plus people displaced. It's a huge challenge right now, in this country.

SHMORHUN: Well, this is, we realize that 7 million people need homes. And this is what we are doing today. We are rebuilding a student dormitory. We are building modular homes for the IDPs, so that they have a place to stay. And we are trying to integrate them into the communities in western Ukraine. Very important, we want to have happy people, we do not want to have ghettos.


So, it's important that we create communities for that and that's what does.


SOARES (on camera): And during that interview there with John Shmorhun, you heard the sirens sounding. That's the first warning really of airstrikes, potential airstrikes in the area. We are now -- what you're hearing behind me now is the greenlight, the next round of sirens really. That's giving us the greenlight. So, it's taken about an hour or so, people staying in bunkers, staying safe, until of course we get the greenlight from authorities. But you are hearing that now, so it's very good news. From more on the other top stories of course, I want to go back to Max Foster in London -- Max.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you very much indeed. Extraordinary, this is the way of life really for people living there now.

The U.S. Federal Reserve hoping to -- well, hoping a half percentage point interest rate hike will help bring inflation under control. Meanwhile, is signals more increases are on the way as well. Wall Street responded with its best day in two years. The Dow jumped more than 900 points on Wednesday, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 also finished with big gains. More now from CNN's Richard Quest.


RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: The market had been well primed to expect a half percentage point rise, indeed over the last few weeks they have been told repeatedly that was on the table. So, if the Fed hadn't done what it did, it would've been a shock.

Initially, the market took it all in stride, but then half an hour later in the press conference, the Chair of the Fed, Jerome Powell, said that he was not expecting the situation to require a three quarter percentage point, 75 basis points increase in the future. That the market took is been good news. In other, words the situation wasn't so bad that things would have to get worse.

The market went up like a rocket. And so now everybody is waiting for the next meeting, and whether there's 50 basis points there and the one after that. They know that interest rates are going somewhere between 2.5 and 3.25 percent. It's a question of how far and how fast.

If things go according to plan, the Fed will have engineered a soft landing and will avoid a recession. But for those private economists that they believe that won't be possible. That the rate risers will have to be so dramatic, the economy will slow down so severely that it will tip into recession. To be honest, on that the jury is still out.

Richard Quest, CNN, New York.


FOSTER: U.S. President Joe Biden says he hopes to reduce inflation by reducing the deficit. At the White House on Wednesday, he discussed his plans to lower energy and drug costs and emphasized the benefits of his stimulus measures. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We recovered faster than projected, a record 6.7 million jobs created last year. And most in the first year of any president in American history. And the fastest economic growth in any year in nearly four decades. And looking ahead, I have a plan to reduce the deficit even more, which will help reduce inflationary pressures and lower everyone's costs for families.


FOSTER: Russia's war in Ukraine is pushing energy prices higher and supply chain problems with the coronavirus pandemic is still disrupting the economy. U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that the Fed needs to strike the right balance.


JANET YELLEN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: I am certain that the Fed will try to use and deploy its tools to achieve a soft landing where the economy can continue to grow. We avoid a recession, but inflation comes down. I said before that the Fed will need to be skillful and also looking to achieve that. But I believe that it is a combination that is possible.


FOSTER: CNN's Kristie Lu Stout is live this hour in Hong Kong with us. And extraordinary to see the markets move in the way that they do. It's mysterious, isn't it, sometimes, but it's very difficult to predict how all of these headwinds are going to come together over the coming year.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The situation is very fluid, isn't it, Max. You know, earlier today we saw gains on the markets across Asia. Now it's becoming a little bit more of a mixed picture after the U.S. Federal Reserve is expected hike interest rates by half a percentage point, its highest level hikes since the year 2000. It also signaling additional tightening ahead, all in a bid to rein in inflation, which is at its highest level since the 1980.

It was on Wednesday, when U.S. markets surged when they heard in particular those comments from the U.S. Fed chief. He said that the committee was not actively considering an even bigger rate cut. But analysts who we've been talking to, they were saying that there will be more pain in the pipeline. They are concerned that the pace of the tightening could draw the U.S. economy into a recession.


We are near the end of the trading day here in Hong Kong and across Asia. Let's bring up a picture of what Asian markets look at right now. And if we bring up the data for you, you can see the Shanghai Composite, it gains .7 of 1 percent, Australia ended up higher .8 of 1 percent. But the Hong Kong Yang Seng after green arrows all day, is now down more than a third of 1 percent. From Asia we've also been monitoring U.S. futures to see what the U.S.

markets will look like when they open in just a few hours from now. And if we can bring up that information for you, you'll see down arrows. Dow futures down, about .3 of 1 percent, NASDAQ futures losing 0.65 percent, S&P down about .5 of 1 percent.

Look, inflation in the U.S. it is at its highest level in four decades and Americans are feeling it. They're feeling it with those increase in prices and homes, of groceries, of gas prices as well. It's interesting to note that retail sales remain strong. Economists point out a phenomenon called revenge spending. After two years of pandemic consumers are still buying stuff. But if you look at that momentary uplift in the markets in the U.S. on Wednesday, earlier in the day here in Asia, analysts who we've been talking to, in particular the global strategist at Rabobank are saying, look, it's not all good news. Listen to this.


MICHAEL EVERY, GLOBAL STRATEGIST, RABOBANK: I think that the market is getting very, very badly wrong, about what the Fed said. The fact that the Fed didn't do 75 when the market was maybe thinking about it, shows once again that the Fed is behind the curve. We have supply side inflation, which is going to get worse, because of what the Fed just did.


LU STOUT: And the global economy, Max, is facing two additional challenges. The ongoing and ever fluid war in Ukraine, as well as a strict and punishing zero COVID policy in China. Which has had a negative impact on domestic consumer spending inside of the country, as well as wreaking havoc on the global supply chain. Max, back to you.

Very much to consider, Kristie, thank you very much for joining us from Hong Kong with that. S

till to come, the head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control issues a disturbing warning about what might happen if federal abortion rights are overturned.

Plus, a string of tornadoes ripped through parts of Texas and Oklahoma, but in some areas, that is only the beginning of their trouble with severe weather.



FOSTER: For a third straight day, anger spilled into the streets over the U.S. Supreme Court's likely plans to strike down a landmark abortion rights law Roe v. Wade. The ruling is not yet final, but the leaked draft opinion has set off nationwide protests. And the top court may be feeling the heat in the court of public opinion. On Wednesday, night crews installed taller fencing around the entire perimeter of the Supreme Court, to keep protesters at bay. CNN polling shows that the majority of Americans support legalized abortion.

Meanwhile, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning more people may die if Roe is overturned, because not all of American women will have access to safe and legal abortions.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, DIRECTOR, U.S. CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: Those who have resources will easily cross state lines to be able to do is so. And those who don't, may take matters into their own hands and may not get exactly the care that they need in order to do so. And I do think that lives could be at stake in that situation.


FOSTER: The U.S. Congress woman from California says that it hurts to admit, but she believes that nothing can stop the Supreme Court from throwing Roe. Jackie Speier explained what can be done.


REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA): So, the next step is raising everyone's awareness about how diabolical this draft statement really is, because Justice Alito has every intention, if this goes forward as drafted, to do away with the right to abortion completely. It would be totally left up to the states. And all you have to do is look across this country at the states are made a majority of them by men, who make these decisions. And we basically have a situation, where we will have government mandated pregnancies that women will have to endure. And you think that so many of these colleagues have been smarting about having to wear masks, that that was infringing on their personal rights, but you're now going to now take control of my uterus, I do not think so.

I had a procedure.


FOSTER: She was the first member of Congress to share her own experience with abortion. On the house floor, over Planned Parenthood funding 11 years ago.

Now emergency officials say trouble is not over for parts of Oklahoma hit by tornado on Wednesday night. The twister tore through the town of Seminole leaving a number of buildings damaged. There were no initial reports of injuries, the storms and flooding are expected to continue though for hours. More than 12,000 homes and businesses in the state have lost power.

Earlier in the day, tornado watches were issued for millions of people across Oklahoma and Texas. Parts of the U.S. have been pummeled by severe storms and tornadoes for several straight days. But Oklahoma is by no means the only state that took a pounding from tornadoes. Derek Van Dam has more on that. DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: That's right, Max, it wasn't the

only state of Oklahoma, Texas also had tornadoes reported. And one of the such tornadoes was right here on the screen behind me, this is a time lapse. So, it's actually sped up a little bit, you can see some of the vehicles exiting the area to try to get out of harm's way. This was just one of eight confirmed tornadoes reported on Wednesday.

Look at all of the wind and hail reports as well. It has been an extremely active severe weather season. The past six weeks have had proven to be very, very busy and it's not only just wind and tornado reports, we've had extremely large hail as well. Check this out, we are talking grapefruit size tail in some locations across Texas. That is just incredible and very dangerous.


Now unfortunately, we have another round of severe weather today across the mid-Mississippi River Valley, this is the area we're going to keep an eye on the sky, as a cold front races eastward, helps trigger thunderstorms as it provides lift in the atmosphere, the interaction with the warm humid air from the Gulf of Mexico, with the colder air settling in behind this particular cold front, will allow for the thunderstorms to develop. And then move eastward as well, so we have a multi-day severe weather event ongoing. Today's risk enhanced from Little Rock, Arkansas, right through Shreveport, Louisiana, even into the eastern sections of Texas, and then we have a slight risk for places like Atlanta and Charlotte.

On top of this flash flood watches and warnings continue across Missouri and Oklahoma, where up to ten inches of rain have already fallen, very dangerous situation for this area, with a moderate risk according to the weather prediction center for flash flooding -- Max.

FOSTER: Thanks to Derek.

Now U.S. President Joe Biden is sharpening his rhetoric against the Republicans ahead of the high stakes midterm elections when control of Congress will be at stake. On Wednesday, he went after what he called the ultra-MAGA agenda. For those who still support Donald Trump's Make America Great Again movement. He said MAGA Republicans are protecting billionaires at the expense of working class Americans. He took aim at Republican Senator Rick Scott's economic plan. Take a listen.


BIDEN: Let me tell you about this ultra-MAGA agenda. It's extreme, as most MAGA things are. It will actually raise taxes on 75 million American families. Over 95 percent of whom make less than $100,000 a year.


FOSTER: Mr. Biden claims that his administration will reduce the deficit by record amounts as opposed to Trump's administration, which increased the deficit every year that he's in office. Now newly-obtained audio from "The New York Times" reveals that two

days after then president Donald Trump fomented the -- an assault on the U.S. Capitol, the top House Republican spoke about having Trump removed from office by invoking the 25th amendment to the Constitution. But Kevin McCarthy was worried the process would take too long. He privately asked an aide what if anything could be done.


JOHN LEGANSKI, HOUSE GOP AIDE: I think the options that have been cited by the Democrats so far are the 25th amendment, which is not exactly and elegant solution here.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): That take too long, it could go back to the House, right?


FOSTER: Well, the Republican aide then responded, correct. During the call McCarthy condemned trust behavior. -- He said he wanted to reach out to president elect Joe Biden in hopes of a smooth transition.


MCCARTHY: Yeah, but what the president did is atrocious and totally wrong. From the standpoint we're 12 days away. I mean one point I'd make with Biden -- if you have an impeachment and you are stuck in the Senate, and he needs Cabinet minister, he's got Secretary of Defense, he's a lot of things he's got to have moving. And if you think from a perspective, you put everything else away, this country is very, very divided.


FOSTER: CNN has reached out to McCarthy's office for comment on that audio. Invoking the 25th Amendment would require then Vice President Mike Pence and the majority of the Cabinet to vote to oust Trump from the office.

Sources tell CNN that Donald Trump Jr., the son of former U.S. President Donald Trump met with the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th insurrection on Tuesday. The interview was conducted remotely, lasted a little more than three hours and was cordial. Trump Jr. did not assert the fifth amendment and answered the committees question.

Now still to come, a few EU countries are not on board with the proposal to ban Russian oil imports. We'll have details on why they're opposed a plan next.

And we're learning new details in the case of an Alabama correctional officer accused of helping an inmate escape jail. The details still just ahead.