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Amber Heard's Testimony; Putin's Girlfriend on Sanctions List; Petro Poroshenko is Interviewed about Ukraine. Aired 9:30-10a

Aired May 06, 2022 - 09:30   ET




ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: A break today in the $50 million defamation trial brought by actor Johnny Depp against his ex-wife Amber Heard. Of course, this follows an emotional two days of testimony from Heard.


AMBER HEARD, ACTRESS AND EX-WIFE OF JOHNNY DEPP: I was pushing back. I pushed him off of me. I tried to hit his hands away. I tried to always get back up, which sometimes -- not sometimes, almost always made it worse, always seemed to provoke him.

I felt like nothing I could do would change the sobriety patterns. Nothing I could do would stand for him. And nothing I did made him stop hitting me. Nothing.

He had me by the neck. And he felt like he was on top of me. And I'm look -- I'm looking at his -- in his eyes, and I don't see him anymore. I don't see him anymore. It wasn't him. It was black. I've never been so scared in my life. It was black. I couldn't see him.


HILL: Her testimony is expected to resume on Monday, May 16th.

Joining us now, criminal defense attorney Sara Azari to discuss.

When we look at and we listen to what we have heard from Amber Heard, it has been emotional, at times extremely graphic. It's also, I think if we step back for a minute, she is describing a cycle of abuse that I think many would recognize as classic cases of domestic abuse, of domestic violence.

If we're just pulling back for a minute and looking at this, what are you hearing in that testimony?

SARA AZARI, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, Erica, look, yes, it's horrific, it's violent, it's awful. Domestic violence is awful. But it has to be true. And her testimony, it just doesn't ring true. Neither in form nor substance. You know, let me start by saying that when you start adding stories

and facts and getting more detailed over time, that indicates fabrication.

Secondly, this is a woman who was very good at photographing everything. She even taped, you know, angry Johnny in his kitchen throwing things around, but she didn't take photos of some very serious injuries that she's alleging and she's testifying to on the stand. That should raise an eyebrow.

You know, and -- and -- and these --

HILL: But why? Why -- but just let me stop you for a second, why should that raise an eyebrow, that she didn't take photos of her own injuries? Why?

AZARI: Well -- well, first, it's not just the photos, Erica. You also have to pair it with the other evidence. She -- she never sought medical care, right? We're not talking about swelling and bruising, which she also testifies to. We're talking about being sexually assaulted with a bottle and they offered to take her to the emergency room and she said, no, she doesn't need any medical care.

So, when you look at the totality of the evidence, you know, yes, her testimony can just be taken as true, but it's not ringing true. And so the less true it's ringing, then you need corroboration. And when you look at the corroboration in this case, the witnesses have testified to things that are completely in stark contrast to what she is testifying to.

And then the other issue, Erica --

HILL: So we're going to hear two different versions. Can I ask you one question, though, as we look at --

AZARI: Sure.

HILL: Because, as I look at this, there is this fascination in this country right now with this trial. And I'm sure part of that comes from the celebrities that are involved. Part of it comes from the horrific details that we've heard from both of them, right, from both Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. But there are also these classic moments, frankly, we hear about in domestic violence cases and domestic abuse, one of them, of course, would be you're likely not going to go to the emergency room or call the police on someone if you're hoping that maybe this is going to resolve itself.

And I wonder, as we look at all of this, we are still in the trial phase, we're still in the testimony phase, do you think it can actually lead to a more substantive and important conversation in this country about the state of these toxic relationships and domestic violence issues?


AZARI: I agree with you, Erica. But, you know, when you have witnesses -- and I've had many because I represent accused and victims, you know, countless, in these cases, and the problem with witnesses who come forward with false stories or fabricated stories is that they discredit the real victims. And that's what's dangerous about this to me. Coming and taking the stand with very selective memory, oh, you don't know whether the bottle was broken that penetrated you? How could you not know that? How could you not remember that you threw a broken bottle at Johnny Depp that severed his finger, but you remember the type of flooring that you were dragged across, you know, that it was Parkay, it was beautiful, et cetera, et cetera.

So, again, you know, I am all about protecting women. I've represented victims. But you have to tell the truth because when you don't you are actually doing disservice to people who need the help, who are true victims of domestic violence.

And so this is a credibility call, Erica. And I think that credibility lies with Johnny Depp. And she's her best witness. She's the second person testifying in her case. And this is what we're getting.

HILL: We will have -- as I mentioned, testimony resumes -- a week off next week -- resumes on the 16th. We will be hearing more. And, of course, we will see ultimately what the jury finds to be true in this case.

Sara, good to have you with us, as always. Thank you.

AZARI: So good to see you.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Still ahead this hour, new ways to go after Russian money. How the EU is targeting Vladimir Putin's reported longtime girlfriend and the new strategies the DOJ is using to target oligarchs. That's coming up.



SCIUTTO: New this morning, the woman who is rumored to be Vladimir Putin's girlfriend is a new target in the latest round of EU sanctions against Russia. This according to two European diplomatic sources. Alina Kabaeva was first linked to Putin more than a decade ago while she was a medal winning gymnast. Putin continues to deny any relationship with her.

This comes at the same time as the DOJ is also announcing its own new push, targeting a wider web of Russian money and oligarchs.

CNN correspondent Kara Scannell has been following the story for us.

So, there have been deliberate hesitation to go after someone so close to Putin, worried that the risks of escalation were greater than any financial penalty against them. That appears to be changing here. And then what's the U.S. approach?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the U.S. is -- you know, I spoke with the head of the Justice Department's Kleptocapture Task Force yesterday and I asked him, you know, is everyone that is on that sanctions list a target? He said, yes, they are.

And, I mean, the biggest target there is Vladimir Putin. The question here, and the hurdle, which he acknowledged is, having to trace all of these -- all of the money flows through shell companies, across jurisdictions, you know, that is the big challenge. And that remains to be seen of how far they can get, how close they can get to the Kremlin and to the inner circle of Putin. You know, his children are on that sanctions list. And, you know, with the EU now possibly moving to put his girlfriend on there.

So, you know, they are working to do that and trying to unravel the money they seized yesterday with the help of the authorities in Fiji, a $300 million superyacht that belongs to a Russian oligarch close to Putin, someone who made his fortune in gold, you know, that yacht will be brought back to the U.S. and kept here until they can ultimately sell it. So, they're making these steps and they're (INAUDIBLE), but they're going beyond that. They're also looking at real estate. You know, all of the big, luxurious apartments in New York and Miami, those are top targets.

They're also looking at accounts here. You know, there's a lot of Russian money that can be in hedge funds, that can have private investment accounts. They say that is all on the table, that is all areas that they're looking at.

SCIUTTO: Apartments in New York City even perhaps. We know there are many in London.

Kara Scannell, thanks so much.

So, joining me now to discuss, the former president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko. He's been on the front lines throughout this war.

Thanks so much for joining us this morning.


SCIUTTO: First, I want to ask you about these financial sanctions. Does Vladimir Putin care if he and his close friends lose a lot of money? Does that move him in Ukraine?

POROSHENKO: Definitely. The sanction and embargo is one of the key instrument to stop the war, to punish the aggressor, and I think that every single day, when Putin demonstrate the new crimes in Bucha, in Irpin, the new crimes in Mariupol, if Putin do not understand that, we definitely should introduce new sanctions.

For the personal sanction, we're talking about the (INAUDIBLE) sanction where the definitely -- the pocket money of Putin is in (INAUDIBLE) hands. And it's extremely important that already U.K., European Union introduce the sanctions. But, unfortunately, these take some time for the United States.

We definitely need the sanction against so-called (INAUDIBLE) Russian orthodox church. Mr. (INAUDIBLE), for blessing the killing of Ukrainians throughout the country, who blessing the attack and being an aggressor and who is -- have a lot of property in Europe and in the United States.


And definitely we should need to do that.

And we definitely need to continue the embargo, including the oil sanction and help European Union to keep unity with the oil embargo. This is the important thing to demonstrate the leadership of the United States in the world in the sanction matter.

SCIUTTO: Mr. Poroshenko, you've been visiting the front lines there. Is it a significant loss for Ukrainian forces, for Russia to take the city of Mariupol?

POROSHENKO: I was yesterday in the south, on the border between the Kherson and Mykolaiv region. And if you want to command the situation on Mariupol, this is the heroic Ukrainian soldiers from Ukrainian marine and from Ukrainian national guard battalion who now doing their best to reach two results. First result is to tied to division more than 20,000 Russian soldiers for more than 70 days, to help Ukrainian soldiers on other part of the front, to consolidate. This is the great and important role.

And point number two, they are saving Ukrainian civilians, Ukrainian victims, and absolutely confident that the military crime of the Russian soldiers in Bucha, by the way, are still insist that the whole world, including the United States, should introduce Bucha list or Mariupol list with the military criminals where we definitely need to introduce the sanction, maybe with the participation of the American FBI expert to deliver the evidence and to demonstrate the transparency.


POROSHENKO: And point number three for Mariupol, definitely we need the assistance of the whole world. We are very much welcome the steps were undertake by the secretary general of United Nations, Mr. Gutierrez, but we definitely need all world to help civilian to evacuate people from Mariupol, to create humanitarian corridor because this is a vital (INAUDIBLE).


Mr. President, you, of course, preceded Volodymyr Zelenskyy as president of Ukraine. You've been critical at times of his leadership.

Do you believe he's been a strong leader for Ukraine through this war? Have you been impressed, surprised by his leadership?

POROSHENKO: I'm impressed by the Ukrainian armed forces. I'm impressed by Ukrainian people. And we don't have president leader of the opposition, we are united now. All of us are soldiers. And with this situation, you don't listen from me any critical words because the situation before the 24th of February and after 24th of February, this is the complete difference. And we surprise Mr. Putin, not allow him to undermine the stability and unity of Ukraine, and which we definitely (INAUDIBLE). And I'm impressed solidarity of -- with Ukraine of the whole world.

And with this situation we -- I do my best to make Zelenskyy stronger. I do my best to make Ukrainian armed forces stronger. I do my best to make Ukrainian diplomacy stronger because we have only one enemy. And the name of this enemy is (INAUDIBLE)) Putin.

SCIUTTO: Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, thank you for joining us this morning.

POROSHENKO: It's a pleasure. Thank you.

HILL: Still to come, strict new limits on Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine. Why the FDA is making changes now and what it's advising against. That's next.



SCIUTTO: The FDA is now limiting who can receive the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine because of the risk of a rare but potentially life- threatening blood clotting syndrome.

HILL: More than 18.7 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been administered here in the U.S.

CNN health reporter Jacqueline Howard joining us now with more on this development.

So, what specifically is the FDA advising here, Jacqueline?

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: Well, the FDA is limiting the use of the vaccine for certain adult groups. And this applies to the booster shot as well.

So, the FDA says that the -- certain groups who can still use the vaccine are those for whom the other vaccine options, like the mRNA vaccines, are not accessible or clinically appropriate. So this includes someone who may have had a severe allergic reaction to one of the mRNA vaccines. And the other group, those who otherwise wouldn't get vaccinated due to personal reasons or having limited access.

Now, of course the question remains, well, what about those who have already received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine? Well, White House response coordinator, Dr. Ashish Jha, addressed that question just this morning on "Good Morning America."

Have a listen.


DR. ASHISH JHA, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE COORDINATOR: What if you've already had the vaccine? You have to remember, all of those side effects appear in the first two to three weeks after the vaccine. If you're beyond that time period, you really have nothing to worry about except the fact that you've gotten a very high-quality vaccine that's going to protect you.



HOWARD: Now, it's also important to mention, the CDC and FDA have been tracking these reactions to the J&J vaccine for more than a year now. You probably remember last year in April a safety warning label was applied to the J&J vaccine. And right now this still remains rare. For every million doses administered, there have only been three reported cases of these blood clotting incidents.

HILL: Wow.

SCIUTTO: An important number there for folks watching this who may have gotten the J&J vaccine. Three out of a million. Something doctors are taking seriously, but, again, the chances very small.

Jacqueline Howard, thanks so much.

Still ahead and coming up, we're going to be live on the ground in southern Ukraine where we hear the remarkable story of a Ukrainian soldier who survived, and this is rare, he survived Russian captivity.