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More Mariupol Evacuations Planned as Fighting Rages; Sources: U.S. Intel Helped Ukraine Target Russian Ship; Manhunt Underway after Suspected Terrorist Attack in Israel; Hillary Clinton Slams Draft Supreme Court Decision; 25 Wounded in Missile Strikes, Shelling of Kramatorsk; German Prosecutor: Evidence Points to Suspect in Madeleine McCann Abduction; Manhunt Underway for Alabama Corrections Officer, Inmate; Republican Backlash Deepens Against Cawthorn. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired May 06, 2022 - 00:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers in United States and all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes at CNN's world headquarters in Atlanta. Appreciate your company.

Coming up, the U.N. and Red Cross are hoping to get more civilians out of the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol in the day ahead. But reports of fierce, bloody combat are making things difficult.

The Donetsk military governor claiming about 200 civilians remain trapped inside the sprawling Azovstal Steel plant. A Ukrainian commander accuses Russia of breaking its promise to allow evacuations.

Still, Ukraine's president says authorities are doing everything they can to get people out.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Russian shelling and assault on Azovstal does not stop, but civilians still need to be taken out. Women, children, many children, who are still there. Just imagine this hell, and there are children. More than two months of constant shelling, bombing and constant death nearby.


HOLMES: Mr. Zelenskyy said evacuations from the Southern port city are ongoing, but he didn't say how many people left Mariupol on Thursday.

The Red Cross says more than 300 people are believed to be from Mariupol and other nearby areas, arrived in Zaporizhzhia on Wednesday.

A Ukrainian commander says wounded soldiers inside the Azovstal Steel works are dying in terrible agony, but those who are able are fighting to defend the plant. More now from CNN's Isa Soares.



ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ukrainian soldiers trapped in the Azovstal plant sing the army's battle hymn. "It is sweeter for us to die in battle than to live in chains as dumb slaves," they sing in the darkness.

A few of the dozens of Ukrainian fighters defending the last patch of Mariupol not in Russian hands.

Above them, the bombardment continues relentlessly.

Later, one of the commanders with a message for the world: "It's been the third day that the enemy has broken through the territory of Azovstal. Fierce, bloody combat is ongoing," he says, accusing the Russians of violating the promise of a truce and preventing the evacuation of civilians, who continue to hide deep in bunkers at Azovstal.

The U.N. and Red Cross organized the evacuation of one group of about 100 civilians at the weekend. Since then, none has left. Now there is hope of another convoy reaching Mariupol.

MARTIN GRIFFITHS, U.N. SPECIAL ENVOY FOR UKRAINE: As we speak, a convoy is proceeding to get to Azovstal by tomorrow morning. Hopefully, to receive those civilians remaining in that bleak hell that they have inhabited for so many weeks and months and take them back to safety.

SOARES (voice-over): Speaking to me earlier, the military governor of Donetsk was much more cautious.

PAVLO KYRYLENKO, DONETSK OBLASK MILITARY ADMINISTRATION (through translator): I would like to be frank that, with all due respect for the U.N. and their assistance and the International Committee of the Red Cross, the conditions that are such that the occupier keeps changing them.

SOARES (voice-over): The Russians and their allies, the separatists of the self-styled Donetsk People's Republic, are showing off their newly-won territory. Or at least the ruins they fought to seize.

This commander points to a massive crater just outside the Azovstal plant. He says the bodies of Ukrainian soldiers are everywhere. "We find more and more of them," he adds.

Amid the ruins of Mariupol, once a thriving city of 400,000 people, the new authorities are changing the road signs into Russian. The Ukrainian officials expect they will organize a parade on May 9th, when Russia celebrates its victory in the Second World War. Whether the Azovstal complex is quiet and empty by then or still being pulverized, no one knows. What's certain are the scars that will remain.

[00:05:06] Isa Soares, CNN, Lviv, Ukraine.


HOLMES: Now sources tell CNN Ukraine had some help from the U.S. in targeting Russia's flagship destroyer, Moskva, last month. The warship sank, you might remember, on April 14 after Ukrainian missile strikes.

The sources say the Ukrainians spotted the ship, and then asked the Americans for confirmation it was indeed the Moskva. The U.S. then provided intelligence about the ship and its location, but was not involved in Ukraine's decision to launch those missiles.

The Kremlin admits it's well aware that the U.S., U.K. and NATO are sharing intelligence with Ukraine. but he Pentagon press secretary says there are limits.


ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: We do not provide intelligence on the location of senior military leaders on the battlefield or participate in the targeting decisions of the Ukrainian military.

We do provide them with useful intelligence, timely intelligence, that allows them to make decisions to better defend themselves against this invasion. And -- and I think the less said about that, honestly, the better.


HOLMES: Let's bring in Sam Roggeveen. He's the director of the International Security Program at the Lowy Institute, an independent think tank based in Australia.

Thanks so much for being with us. A lot of speculation about May 9th, Victory Day in Russia, and the importance of that day and what Putin might do or announce to mark it. What are your concerns about Putin's next moves with that day coming up?

SAM ROGGEVEEN, DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY PROGRAM, LOWY INSTITUTE: Well, yes, the speculation that the military pushing the East of Ukraine is -- is designed with a 9 May deadline in mind. And that at that point, on that symbolic date, where Russia marks its victory over Nazi Germany, that Russia may declared that its objectives have been met and seek to stop its offensive military operations.


HOLMES: Go on.

Sorry, there's a little bit of a lag there, so I don't mean to interrupt. We've been seeing, too, big and increase lately, amounts of heavy weaponry and ammunition coming into Ukraine. I'm curious if you think, you know, convoys or vehicles or trains bringing those weapons in from neighboring countries are likely to be targeted, or targeted more heavily? And what could the West even do about that?

ROGGEVEEN: There are -- well, the West wouldn't want to, itself, protect those convoys once they cross the border into Ukraine. So NATO has been very clear, and the U.S. president has been very clear that it does not want to get into direct combat with Russian forces.

So it's notable that Russia hasn't seemingly targeted those -- those areas where weapons are coming in yet. That could be partly by choice, in order not to directly escalate the war.

However, it could be simply -- I think this is equally plausible -- that Russia just doesn't have the capability and the intelligence to know when those -- when those shipments will get across the border and where and when to hit them.

The fact -- the fact that we are now seeing Western powers, NATO, promising much heavier weapons, tanks and long-range artillery, in particular, is significant. And I think it can, you know, change the political situation here, because I think it actually incentivizes the Ukrainians, who clearly feel the wind is at their backs, to some degree, to continue the war and to not settle for -- for any kind of settlement that perhaps President Putin might propose on 9 May or even thereafter.

HOLMES: I know you were tweeting about this. And I think it's an important aspect about this war. The impact of the Russian control of all those ports in the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea.

Even as Russian advances stall or are pushed back in some areas, what harm is being done to Ukraine, both in military but also economic senses with the loss of those ports?

ROGGEVEEN: Yes, I think that that's most importantly an economic weapon, rather than a directly military weapon. And from my understanding of the situation, it's very difficult for Ukraine to substitute via land corridors for -- for simply the sheer bulk of material that they can trade by sea.

So the fact that that is being cut off means that the economic impact of the war in Ukraine is severe. Much more severe at the moment, by the looks of it, than the sanctions regime is on Russia.


HOLMES: Of course, many believe that Putin's aims go much further than Ukraine, that you know, he wants to reconstitute a greater Russia. That in many ways, he's living in history, not in the present. How, then, does that make fighting him more difficult, when his aims aren't necessarily rational in a traditional war footing sense, but ideological?

ROGGEVEEN: You know, look, I think we have to accept that as a serious possibility. But what's lacking is really the means.

So when you consider the sheer amount of military power that Russia has applied to the Ukraine war, and it's fallen disastrously short, probably by some estimates up to 75 percent of the Russian army's total combat power has been devoted to this war.

Of course, they haven't mobilized fully. And there is some speculation that that may yet happen. But still, a tremendous amount of Russian military power has been applied to this problem. Russia's failed disastrously.

So in pure capability terms, how would Russia threaten, now, other parts of its near or broad (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

HOLMES: Yes, yes. Sam Roggeveen in Canberra, appreciate it. Thank you so much.

ROGGEVEEN: Thanks, Michael.

HOLMES: All right. Turning our attention now to Israel, where a large manhunt is underway following a suspected attack that left three people dead.

People say it happened in the city of El'ad on Thursday when two suspects attacked people on the street. Officials looking for a vehicle that was later seen fleeing the area.

And as Hadas Gold reports, all of this happened on a major holiday for the country.


HADAS GOLD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: On the day Israel celebrated its independence day, this quiet, mostly religious town in central Israel was rocked by an attack.

Police say that on the street just behind me, two alleged suspects began attacking people.

GOLD (voice-over): Police say that they suspect that there was a rifle and potentially a knife or an axe used. Three people were killed. Four people were injured. And then, the suspects fled in a vehicle, police say.

A massive manhunt is underway. Police helicopters have been buzzing in the skies all evening long. Police set up roadblocks on the highways and roads around the town, checking every single vehicle coming in or out.

Now, no militant group or terrorist group has taken credit for this attack, although Hamas, the militant group that runs Gaza, immediately put out a statement praising the attack.

The president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, put out his own statement condemning the attack, warning about the cycle of violence between Palestinians and Israelis.

This attack is the sixth attack targeting Israelis in the past few months, bringing the death toll to 18 people killed in these attacks. As a result of those attacks, the Israeli military had increased its raids in the West Bank. And the clashes and raids have led to more than two dozen Palestinians being killed.

In addition, there have been periodic clashes at the Al Aqsa compound, also known as the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, a site so holy to both Muslims and Jews.

GOLD: And although people thought or hoped that, as the end of Ramadan came, that it would bring some calm to the situation, Israeli officials did tell me that they did expect further tension, potentially further violence because of days like Israeli independence day. And next week, which will mark the one-year anniversary of that 11-day war between Hamas and militants in Gaza and the Israeli army.

Hadas Gold, CNN, El'ad, Israel.


HOLMES: Now, some troubling news from the World Health Organization. The agency says the global COVID-19 death toll is three times higher than reported.

According to new estimates, nearly 15 million people around the world died, either directly or indirectly, as a result of the virus between the beginning of 2020 and the end of 2021.


SAMIRA ASMA, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR-GENERAL, WHO DATA, ANALYTICS AND DELIVERY : It is both a shock as well as expected. Shock because this is truly a tragic and a staggering number, almost 15 million excess deaths, direct or indirectly associated with COVID-19 pandemic, just over a period of 24 months.


HOLMES: The new data is particularly concerning for India. The WHO estimates that the two country's true COVID death toll is ten times higher than government figures.

On Thursday, India's government raised multiple objectives over the validity of the mathematical models used by the agency.

Now, Wall Street did a complete U-turn on Thursday and saw its worst day of the year. The Dow dropping more than 1,000 points, while the NASDAQ and the S&P 500 also suffered major losses.


The markets scored major gains the day before, when the Dow and the S&P had their best day in two years. It's a real rollercoaster, obviously, and comes after the U.S. Federal Reserve raised its benchmark rate on Wednesday in a bid to control inflation but said it's not considering future hikes larger than 50 basis points.

We're also keeping an eye on the reaction in Asia, where trading is underway. Right now, you can see, the Nikkei, the only one in positive territory, nearly a percentage point up. The Shanghai Composite down over 2 percent. The Hong Kong Hang Seng down three and a half percent. We'll keep an eye on those for you.

Well, chants of "Keep your laws off our bodies" have been echoing throughout the U.S. after word the Supreme Court is likely on the verge of ending abortion rights. Why this is happening now and what kind of recourse remains. We'll be right back.



HOLMES: Welcome back. The fury over the U.S. Supreme Court's likely plans to end federal abortion rights is not dying down. New rallies were held around the country on Thursday, days after the leak of a draft opinion indicating the court intends to strike down Roe v. Wade, the landmark case legalizing abortion nationwide.

Authorities, concerned about the growing anger, had tall metal fences put up around the perimeter of the court on Wednesday. And concrete barriers were added just a few hours ago.

During an interview with CBS, Hillary Clinton warning that the Supreme Court's far-right majority could go far beyond targeting abortion rights.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: This opinion is dark. It is incredibly dangerous, and it is not just about a woman's right to choose. It is about much more than that. And any American who says, Look, I'm not a woman. This doesn't affect me. I'm not black. That doesn't affect me, I'm not gay. That doesn't affect me. Once you allow this kind of extreme power to take hold, you have no idea who they will come for next.


HOLMES: CNN's senior political analyst, Ron Brownstein, is a senior editor at "The Atlantic." He joins me now from Los Angeles. Good to see you, Ron.


HOLMES: You write in a great piece in "The Atlantic," and I want to quote from it, and we'll put it up for people. You say, quote, "The urgency and ambition of the Republican drive to lock into law the cultural priorities of its preponderantly white Christian and older electoral coalition, at a moment of rapid demographic change."

It's a very important point. What could be the impacts of that?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, look, we are seeing the breadth of this offensive really come into light. And essentially, it's been a three-part process.

The Republican majority on the Supreme Court creates an opening by rulings that roll back or rescind a previously-guaranteed national right, such as protections of voting rights, for example.

Red states, where Republicans control the governor and the legislature -- there are 23 of our 50 states that are in complete control by Republicans. They rush through that opening to pass new laws that are restricting abortion rights, restricting voting rights, restricting LGBTQ rights, banning books, censoring how teachers can talk about race or gender or sexual orientation in the classroom.

And then kind of the third piece of the axis is that, when House Democrats have moved to try to undo some of what is happening in the red states by passing legislation, codifying national rights on voting, on abortion, on LGBTQ rights, in each case, those ideas have been blocked in the Senate by Republican-led filibuster.

So you have this kind of pincer movement that is operating together with the potential to unravel and roll back a wide array of rights, as Hillary Clinton was alluding to, that Americans have pretty much taken for granted since the 1960s.

HOLMES: Now, you mentioned the filibuster, with Joe Biden saying -- saying he's unsure about ditching the filibuster to try to codify Roe, what other strategies could the Democrats possibly use to ensure that, you know, laws protecting Roe get passed?

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. Well, they really don't have the capacity to win these arguments in red states. You know, those are Republican-leaning states to begin with. Most of them have seen their state legislatures gerrymandered to an extreme extent, partly because of Supreme Court rulings that have allowed it.

And it's going to be kind of all or nothing for Republicans -- for Democrats in these states in gubernatorial elections this fall. Florida, Georgia, Texas, Arizona, Iowa, many of the states that have severe abortion restrictions on the books, ready to go into place if the Supreme Court overturns Roe, will have gubernatorial elections.

But, you know, it's a difficult environment for Democrats. Inflation is at the highest level in 40 -- in 40 years. It's not clear that this alone is going to turn the tide.

I suspect that, from the point of the view of the Biden administration, a lot of the focus, Michael, going forward is going to be on medication abortion and ensuring that people in every state can have access to the pills that can be used to induce abortion.

The FDA has now allowed this to be dispensed without a doctor's visit, through telehealth and mail. The red states are trying to restrict that. And I suspect that this is another area where we're going to see back in the courts in a dispute between federal authority and state authority, as -- as these red states look to try to tighten kind of the noose on abortion restrictions.


HOLMES: You touched on this in your piece, as well. Let's follow up, you know, this polling. The polling says there is not a single state in the U.S., red or blue, that has a majority in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade. You've got overwhelming numbers of young people favoring abortion rights. One in four American women have had -- will have had an abortion by their 40s.

How, then, should Democrats best leverage public opinion to this overruling likely? You know, how likely is there to be political ballot box consequences for Republicans?

BROWNSTEIN: There will be some -- there will be a backlash. I think it is -- it is unequivocal.

Look, the public has supported Roe v. Wade remaining the law of the land in polling for 50 years, basically since the decision has come down.

In the latest CNN poll earlier this year, 69 percent of Americans said they don't want Roe to be overturned. Sixty-four percent in another poll out this week said they want abortion to be legal in most or at least some circumstances.

And by the way, that is the number in all 50 states. There's not a majority in any state that wants abortion to be illegal, in most or all circumstances.

So there is a constituency there. And I do think it will help Democrats address the turnout gap that they are facing in the midterm.

Particularly of concern for them has been young people. You know, young people turn out less in midterms to begin with, and they are pretty disillusioned with Joe Biden. His approval rating is only about 40 percent among them, 20 points lower than his vote in 2020.

But three-quarters of young adults in that CNN poll said they do not want to see Roe overturned. So this could make a material difference.

Now, whether that is enough to overcome the usual advantage of the party out of the White House, in turn-out in that midterm -- I mean, pretty much every midterm election since the Civil War, the party out of the White House has had a turnout advantage, so it's not clear this will, you know, erase that by itself.

But I would be shocked if it doesn't have some impact, when you look at the magnitude and the consistency of the polling. And also the extent to which this is simply shocking to, I think, many younger people who could have not really imagined this day coming.

They've lived in a world where abortion has always been legal, and I think, particularly for young women, this is going to be, I think, a rather remarkable moment.

HOLMES: Yes, and it's interesting to see some Republicans sort of seemingly running from wanting to have a real conversation about the impacts of it, even though it's something they've wanted, theoretically, to do for literally decades.

Ron, good to see you, my friend. We're out of time. Appreciate it. Ron Brownstein, thanks.

BROWNSTEIN: Thanks for having me.

HOLMES: A powerful missile strike in Eastern Ukraine ripped through a residential area of Kramatorsk, the strategic city seen as a key objective in Russia's attempt to capture the Donbas. We'll have a report from the scene, just ahead.



HOLMES: More than two dozen people were reported wounded on Thursday by Russian shelling and airstrikes in the key city of Kramatorsk in Eastern Ukraine.

Early Thursday, entire blocks of apartment buildings were left in tatters as a missile slammed into a residential neighborhood. The city is seen a pivotal in Russia's quest to seize control of Ukraine's Donbas region.

More now from CNN's Sam Kiley in Kramatorsk.


SAM KILEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The scale of the blast is quite extraordinary, and so is, frankly, the effort being made to clean up already.

I mean, it's just a few hours ago that these impacts were felt, ripping through these residential buildings. And I've been on the other side of these buildings. They look the same on this side next to the blast as they do on the other side.

The blast certainly rushed clean through these buildings, tearing them to pieces.

Mercifully, there were 25 people have been wounded across the city in three different locations. There was also a blast quite close to the administrative headquarters. There's only been six people hospitalized, and one person is critical.

That's in stark contrast to the last time Kramatorsk was hit in earnest about a month ago, when the railway station was struck by a surface-to-surface missile, a long-range missile, probably similar to the one that landed here. That killed at least 50 people, waiting to try to evacuate from the city.

The consequence, though, of the evacuations, the toll in terms of wounded and dead from these, frankly, atrocities -- this is deliberate targeting with, not dumb bombs. This was not an attack that came from an aircraft. This was clearly a surface-to-surface missile. And the range would indicate that they're guided missiles, not the stupid missiles, if you like, of multiple rocket launching system. But much more likely the guided missiles that are available to the Russians, such as Iskander and similar. In that context, therefore, this is a deliberate act against

Kramatorsk, which is really the strategic prize for the Russians. If they can capture this town, as far as the Putin administration is concerned, it may be a possibility that they could then believe that they've achieved some kind of a victory and maybe stop their advance at this point.

But they are, at least, 25 kilometers away to the North. They're pushing down in various salients around. They're also trying to come in from the East. They've had moderate success and some losses around Kharkiv.

But this is the ongoing part of their campaign: pound the civilian areas into submission and then try to occupy the ashes.


HOLMES: Sam Kiley reporting there.

Now, the mystery behind the disappearance of the British toddler Madeleine McCann may finally be close to being solved.


German prosecutors say they know what happened to her and that new evidence proves who did it. We'll have details on that when we come back.


HOLMES: Over 15 years since the disappearance of the British toddler Madeleine McCann, prosecutors now say they've found new evidence and that they are sure they've found her killer.

CNN's Nada Bashir has more.


NADA BASHIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the disappearance of Madeleine McCann back in May 2007 continues to be one of the most high-profile cases of a missing child.

And now 15 years on since she was abducted during a family vacation in Portugal, new evidence has come to light centered around a German suspect, Christian Brueckner.

Now, the German prosecutor investigating this case spoke to a Portuguese broadcaster on Tuesday and said that new evidence has come to light, linking Brueckner to Madeleine's case.

And he also said, in his words, that he is sure that Brueckner killed Madeleine McCann.


And while this new evidence will be crucial to the investigation, the German prosecutor was careful to clarify that this did not include forensic evidence.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is true that you find something belonging to Madeleine in the caravan of Christian Brueckner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The details of the investigations, I can not give you a command (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But you can't deny it, can you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't want to deny it.

BASHIR: Now, although this could mark one of the most significant leads in the investigation into Madeleine's disappearance, the investigation itself is still ongoing.

Christian Brueckner is currently serving jail time in Germany, and he is a convicted sex offender, but he has previously denied any involvement in Madeleine's abduction. He says he was with his then- girlfriend on the night that Madeleine disappeared.

But in his interview on Tuesday, the German prosecutor said that Christian Brueckner has no alibi. So this could certainly be a significant development indeed.

But of course, progress in the investigation comes as Madeleine's family marks the 15th anniversary of her disappearance, May 3, 2007. Her parents, Kate and Jerry McCann, saying in a statement that, while this year is no harder than previous years, it's also no easier.

They say that they remain hopeful that Madeleine will be found alive and reunited with her family.

But of course, the developments in this investigation will be met with mixed emotions. The German prosecutor's office has said previously that they do not believe that Madeleine McCann is still alive. So certainly a difficult moment once again for her family.

Nada Bashir, CNN, London.


HOLMES: I'm Michael Holmes at the CNN Center in Atlanta. WORLD SPORT is coming up next for our viewers on international. And for those --



HOLMES: Now, just moments ago, and you can see it there, SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule returned to the waters of planet Earth. You can see the splashdown there.

Three American astronauts and a European colleague, they spent six months on the International Space Station. Their spaceship just streaked through the atmosphere at 22 times the speed of sound. That splashdown just marking the conclusion of SpaceX's third

operational mission to the ISS that the company has conducted in partnership with NASA.

The voyagers performed various experiments, did maintenance work on the orbiters. The crew worked alongside Russian cosmonauts during their mission, all while staying above -- literally -- the conflict raging in Ukraine.

And a boat's on its way out to get them. Fear not.

A $15,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of an Alabama -- Alabama inmate and the corrections officer charged with helping him escape. Investigators now conducting a nationwide search and following up on nationwide tips.

CNN's Ryan Young with the latest.


RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Newly-released pictures show Casey White's tattoos and what Vicky White may look like if she changed her hair color. Every detail counts in this manhunt that has investigators asking the public for help identifying the two fugitives.

COMMANDER CHAD HUNT, U.S. MARSHALS GULF COAST REGIONAL FUGITIVE TASK FORCE: We are several hours behind. It wasn't a typical over-the-wall escape. So our investigation does look a little bit different.

We've gotten several hundred. And you know, to be quite honest, you know, all the four corners of the United States, we've gotten tips.

YOUNG (voice-over): As the manhunt enters its seventh day tips are coming in from several states. Investigators widening the search from escaped Alabama inmate Casey White and corrections officer Vicky White -- no relation -- with reported sightings from Florida to Kentucky.

SHERIFF RICK SINGLETON, LAUDERDALE COUNTY, ALABAMA: We have several leads that we're following up on. Some of them look promising. We hope they pan out.

YOUNG (voice-over): The pair of fugitives gaining national attention, but so far the trail remains cold. The U.S. Marshals Service released these renderings to highlight the height differences.

Casey White is 6'9" tall, compared to Vicky White, who's 5'5."

Their quick escape was caught on video last Friday. A local councilman tells CNN he saw Vicky drive by, and nothing seemed suspicious.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They drove by slowly. She waved at me twice.

YOUNG (voice-over): According to the sheriff, the description of the alleged getaway vehicle was never supposed to be released to the public, and now investigators are concerned they may be driving a different vehicle.

The sheriff says a romantic relationship may date back to 2020 and has been corroborated by inmates who came forward. During that time, Casey White was in state prison, awaiting a trial on capital murder charges, while he was serving a 75-year prison sentence for a 2015 home invasion.

The sheriff says Vicky White stayed in touch by phone. He returned to her facility in February, awaiting trial appearances. And there is mounting evidence of a methodically planned escape on the same day her co-workers were planning her retirement party.

CHRIS CONNOLLY, LAUDERDALE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Clearly, lots of planning went into this.

YOUNG (voice-over): Vicky White held a respected position as the assistant director of corrections at the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Office. The county's D.A., who worked with her for 17 years, is stunned by Vicky's actions.

CONNOLLY: She was a long-time trusted employee at our -- at our jail, and she just exploited the system. And that's why it's so shocking.

YOUNG (voice-over): And he has a message for her.

CONNOLLY: I would hope she would come home. I mean, you know, I think she's in danger. I would say come home.

YOUNG: Yes, the Marshals Service and the sheriff's deputies tell me they've been working around the clock, trying to work through this case, especially with all the tips that are coming in.

There's so many people watching this case around the world. They have been getting tips, but they still need more to see if they can figure out where these two went off to.

Now, take a look at this car that I'm standing behind. This is actually the car that left that jail facility on that day. It has a GPS system inside of it. So they're able to track this car.


But since then, the only kind of sighting they've had was that description of that car that they jumped into before taking off. They're hoping, like I said before, that more tips will come in.

Reporting in Lauderdale County, Alabama, Ryan Young, CNN. (END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: The American actress Amber Heard took the stand in her own defense again on Thursday in the defamation case filed by her ex- husband, the actor Johnny Depp.

During her testimony, Heard broke down while detailing the alleged physical abuse by Depp that she said kept escalating. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMBER HEARD, EX-WIFE OF JOHNNY DEPP: I was being very deliberate about my movements. Wasn't saying anything. I wasn't engaging. I am walking away from him slowly, and he tells me to hurry the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) up. Hurry up.

And I just look at him one more time, wanting to penetrate the monster to see the man that I love underneath that. The man I loved. And he tells me to hurry up again. And I pull my gaze away from him. I walk away from him. My back is turned to him, and I feel this boot in my back. He just kicked me in the back.


HOLMES: Now, in earlier testimony, Depp said he's never struck a woman and that Heard was abusive towards him. He's suing the actress for $50 million over a 2018 op-ed where she described herself as a victim of domestic abuse. He claims that article cost him lucrative acting jobs.

Now, the brash style, if we can call it that, of freshman Congressman Madison Cawthorn, it's causing even more problems among his fellow Republicans in Congress. In fact, some are now working against him in North Carolina's upcoming primary.

CNN's Dianne Gallagher explains.


REP. MADISON CAWTHORN (R-NC): Everyone, Madison Cawthorn here.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Congressman Madison Cawthorn taking to Twitter, countering coverage of his growing list of scandals.

CAWTHORN: Point by point, here we go.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): But shortly after posting this seven-minute video Wednesday night --

CAWTHORN: One of the first examples of a politician who grew up with a cell phone in their hand, with the ability to take photos, videos, and have others use that content as a way to hurt you.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): Another video, one CNN is choosing not to show, was posted online by an opposition group, appearing to show the freshman congressman naked in bed with another person.

Cawthorn, confirming it was him in the video, called it blackmail, tweeting, "Years ago in this video, I was being crass with a friend, trying to be funny. We were acting foolish and joking," adding, "I'm not backing down. I told you there would be a drip drip campaign."

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What do you think of the Madison Cawthorn video that came out last night?

SEN. THOM TILLIS (R-NC): Absurd to embarrassing.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): Major North Carolina Republicans like U.S. Senator Thom Tillis have spent the past few months distancing themselves from Cawthorn, even actively supporting his challengers in a heated and crowded primary election, where early voting is already underway.

RAJU: What if he wins the primary? What will that mean for the district?

TILLIS: I'm disappointed for his constituents, and that's why I'm working to avoid that outcome.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): Republicans on Capitol Hill angered by his recent controversial comments.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Madison is wrong.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): Earning Cawthorn a closed-door meeting with party leadership, after calling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy a thug.

CAWTHORN: Remember that Zelenskyy is a thug.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): And claiming he's been invited to cocaine- fueled orgies in D.C.

CAWTHORN: We're going to have kind of a sexual get-together at one of our homes. You should come. And then you realize they're asking you to come to an orgy. And then you watch them do a key bump of cocaine right in front of you.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Cawthorn later admitted those comments were not true.

But the constant controversy has made for easy attack ads from his GOP rivals in the 11th District.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: While they post online, America falls apart.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): Last month, for the second time since taking office just over a year ago, Cawthorn was stopped from carrying a gun through airport security.

Police in Charlotte seized this loaded pistol at an airport checkpoint and cited the 26-year-old with a misdemeanor charge of possession of a dangerous weapon on city property. He could also face up to almost $14,000 in TSA fines as a repeat offender.

CAWTHORN: I made a mistake. I forgot to disarm before I went through a TSA checkpoint. And that's my bad, and I have to own that one.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): Cawthorn was set to appear before a judge this week on a charge of driving with a revoked license. This is dash cam video of the March 3 stop, obtained by a coalition of North Carolina news organizations. But his hearing has been continued into late next month, after the


GALLAGHER: CNN has reached out to Congressman Cawthorn's office to see if he has any additional comment.


Also, you might remember earlier this year, there was this legal challenge from North Carolina voters and advocacy groups, trying to ban Cawthorn from running for reelection because of comments and actions that he took leading up to the January the insurrection.

Now, Cawthorn has said that he played no role in the Capitol attack. And a lower court judge did throw that out. However, it was back in court this week.

And on Tuesday, attorneys were arguing before a panel of federal appeals court judges. Of course, this all comes very close to the primary, may 17th here in North Carolina. And of course, to win, outright without a run off, candidate must get 30 percent, plus one of the vote.


HOLMES: Dianne Gallagher there with reporting.

I'm Michael Holmes at the CNN Center in Atlanta. I'll be back with more news right after the break.