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Russian Shelling of Azovstal Steel Plant Still Continues; U.S. Markets Make U-Turn After Major Gains; Israel Names Suspects in Deadly Attack; Xi-Jinping Doubles Down on Nation's Zero-COVID Policy; Finland Preparing for Possible Russian Aggression; Vote Could Show Impact Of "Partygate" Scandal; Eintracht Frankfurt Hold Off West Ham To Reach Final; Charles Leclerc "Feels Amazing" Leading Title Race; U.S. Law Enforcement Warns Of Potential Violence In Wake Of Supreme Court Abortion Rights Draft Opinion; Sailors Moved Off USS George Washington After Multiple Suicide. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired May 06, 2022 - 02:00   ET




UNKNOWN (voice-over): This is "CNN Breaking News."

KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to all of you watching us here in the United States, Canada, and all around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber at CNN's world headquarters in Atlanta.

The U.N. and Red Cross are hoping to get more civilians out of the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol in the day ahead where reports of fierce, bloody combat are making things difficult. The Donetsk military governor claims about 200 civilians remain trapped inside the sprawling Azovstal steel plant. The 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, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (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.


BRUNHUBER: Meanwhile, sources tell CNN, Ukraine had some help from the U.S. in targeting Russia's flagship destroyer, Moskva, last month. The warship sank on April 14th after Ukrainian missile strikes. The sources say the Ukrainians spotted the ship then asked the Americans for confirmation that it was, in fact, the Moskva. The U.S. then provided intelligence about the ship and its location, but wasn't involved in Ukraine's decision to launch missiles. 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 to us 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, the 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 OBLAST MILITARY ADMINISTRATION: We would like to be frank that with all due respect to the U.N. and the Red Cross, the conditions that are such that the occupier keeps changing them.

SOARES (voice-over): The Russians and their allies, the separatists or 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. 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 is certain are the scars that will remain.


SOARES: Isa Soares, CNN, Lviv, Ukraine.


BRUNHUBER: And joining me now from Kyiv is Volodymyr Yermolenko, the chief editor of the multimedia project Ukraine World. Thank you so much for being here with us. I would like to start with what we just saw there, the resistance in Mariupol. What kind of symbol are those fighters becoming for Ukrainians?

VOLODYMYR YERMOLENKO, CHIEF EDITOR, UKRAINE WORLD: They're becoming a symbol of heroic people, really heroic people. The plant is called Azovstal, which means Azov steel. And there are lots of images, lots of these symbolic images that there are people of steel.

Just imagine that Russians wanted to conquer Ukraine in three days. And now, they cannot really conquer, fully conquer Mariupol in over two months. So, it is already approaching three months. And this is, of course, the heroic struggle.

BRUNHUBER: Yeah. Many have speculated that Putin needs a victory there to present to Russians in time for victory day on Monday, celebrating the victory over Nazis. Putin and the Kremlin have sort of constantly used this fiction of fighting Nazism to justify the war.

You have an interesting thread about the upside-down nature of this Russian propaganda. I'll just quote this here. It is an empire that represents itself as a colony, a fascist state presenting itself as fighting fascism, and waging a genocidal war saying it suffers from genocide.

So, I want to discuss this. How has this propaganda changed and evolved since the start of the war?

YERMOLENKO: Well, this propaganda that Russians are fighting fascists in Ukraine, it has very long roots. We have seen it for decades in Ukraine. And, of course, the main goal of this propaganda was to dehumanize Ukrainians, to dehumanize also Europeans, Americans because they are now saying that both Europeans and Americans are also supporting Nazis.

And, of course, when Russians came to Ukraine, when they have been committing these crimes, committing genocides, torturing people, we are now traveling a lot in Kyiv suburbs and talking to people who experienced that. We understand that this is a real fascism, this is real Stalin -- neo-fascism.

Now, how it was changing? Well, they're increasingly presenting this war as kind of a defense war, as a kind of a war in which they are defending something, we don't know really what, from this assault of the foreign powers. By this doing, they really try to make this upside down, as you said.

BRUNHUBER: Yeah. I mean, you spoke of some of the horrors that people have been seeing and experiencing, and people are coping with it in different ways. I mean, some have channeled the pain through art. I was struck, for instance, by a painting by your 13-year-old daughter. It was as beautiful as it is moving. You wrote about it. We're going to pop it up here on the screen so people can see.

Light as a scar. Living space as a bomb shelter. Bullet holes as flowers. Wall as a living body that bleeds. National flag as your skin. War seen by kids.

That is what I want to ask you about, the sense of destabilization of insecurity. What effect, do you think, these hidden scars of war will have on Ukraine's children and youth?

YERMOLENKO: Unfortunately, they will have very long-lasting scars. Our kids, of course, you know, experiencing all these. I have myself three daughters and all of them are talking about this war. The much more tragic events, of course, occurred with those kids who experienced the war firsthand, who have had their parents lost or who were under the constant bombing.

So, of course, this dramatic, traumatic experience will be with us for many years. Unfortunately, Ukrainian history in the 20th century was full of this blood and violence experience. But we are coping with this, we are building a new culture out of this, and we are talking to the world about this.

So, I think one of the missions of the Ukrainian nation right now is to tell the world that the evil is there, that it is present, and we all should fight against it.

BRUNHUBER: Yeah. Let's end on that note, sort of, you know, building off -- what you just said about building a new Ukraine. You've written about how, post-war, Ukraine has an opportunity to become a beacon in the region. Explain what you mean by that and what it would take to get there.


YERMOLENKO: Well, I think Ukraine right now is a real window for changing Eastern Europe because I'm sure -- we are sure that Ukrainians have showed that Ukraine will win in this war and that will mean opening up new possibilities for Eastern Europe.

For example, changes in this region, changes in other countries, meaning those who are suffering from authoritarian dictatorships also helping those countries in which Russia also occupied, some territories like Moldova or Georgia.

And I think this is also will be kind of a new Europe, Europe of warriors, Europe of those people who are not only enjoying stability or security and freedoms but are able to fight for these freedoms and for the security.

BRUNHUBER: Yeah. An important message. We'll end with that. Volodymyr Yermolenko in Kyiv, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

YERMOLENKO: Thank you.

BRUNHUBER: Here in the U.S., Wall Street did a complete U-turn on Thursday and saw its worst day of the year. The three major indices took a plunge with the Dow and S&P losing more than three-percentage points. The Nasdaq was down almost 5%. The market scored major gains the day before when the Dow and S&P had their best days in two years.

The roller coaster came after the Federal Reserve announced its biggest interest rate hike in 22 years in an effort to tame inflation. The Reserve also limited any future hikes to 50 basis points.

We're also keeping an eye on the reaction in Asia where the markets are in the final stages of trading for the day. As you can see there, it is a mixed bag. Most of the markets are in the red.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration puts strict limits on the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine. We'll bring you the details about what concerns are and who authorities say should and shouldn't receive it.

Plus, Israel makes progress in the investigation of a deadly attack in the city of Elad. Police now say they know who the suspects are. Stay with us.




BRUNHUBER: Israel has identified the two suspects in Thursday's deadly attack in the city of Elad. Police say three people are dead and four others wounded after being attacked on the street. Police say the suspects are a 19-year-old and a 20-year-old man who live in the villages of Romana (ph) in the West Bank.

Officials say the two men are still on the run. A massive manhunt for them is underway. Officials say one of the wounded victims is in critical condition and another suffered serious injuries. The attack in Elad came as Israel was marking a major holiday.

Hadas Gold has more.


HADAS GOLD, CNN MEDIA AND GLOBAL BUSINESS REPORTER: 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.

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 road blocks along the highways and roads around this 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 period of clashes at the al-Aqsa compound, also known as the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, a site so holy to both Muslims and Jews.

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, Elad, Israel.


BRUNHUBER: 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 50 million people around the world died either directly or indirectly as the result of the virus between the beginning of 2020 and the end of 2021.

The new data is particularly concerning for India. The WHO estimates that the country's true COVID death toll is 10 times higher than government figures. On Thursday, India's government raised multiple objections over the validity of the mathematical model used by the agency.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is putting strict limits on the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. The FDA says this is due to the risk of a rare and dangerous clotting condition, but it has also been determined that the benefits of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine still outweigh the risks for certain people, including those with severe allergic reactions to other COVID vaccines.

Chinese Leader Xi Jinping delivered a strongly-worded speech doubling down on China's zero-COVID policy on Thursday. The policy has left at least 30 China cities under some degree of lockdown that is affecting nearly 200 million residents across the country.

The financial hub of Shanghai has been battling an outbreak of COVID infections and has been under a citywide lockdown since the end of March. Cases have been rising in the capital of Beijing, which has seen mass testing in recent days.

For more, I'm joined by CNN's Will Ripley in Taiwan. So, Will, what is behind this? Is Beijing sensing the discontent over this policy?


WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They may be sensing it, but they're certainly not responding in the way that western countries did when their populations were fed up with lockdowns and being forced to stay in their homes for weeks and months on end.

In Beijing, they don't have a Shanghai-style lockdown yet, but there are certainly growing fears that that could happen even though the number of total cases is still extraordinarily low by almost any international standard.

You're talking about just over 2,000 active cases in the city of about 20 million people. But those 2,000 are enough for Beijing to close schools, libraries, shopping malls, any public areas like that. The nearly 20 million people who live in Beijing are now having to go through a sixth round of mass testing. Now, of course, that is nothing compared to what the 25 million residents in Shanghai have had to endure since their outbreak in early March.

Even though some people in the city are now being allowed a bit of mobility in their districts where they have not detected any new cases in the last two weeks, there are still more than eight million people who are essentially locked down in that Asian financial hub and it is taking a catastrophic economic toll.

The Chinese economy actually shrank last month as a result of this. Chinese people have been posting on social media their frustration, their desperation, not only because they have to stay inside their homes and the mental health toll that comes with that, but also because many are having a hard time even getting access to the basics such as food, medical supplies, and even non-COVID medical emergencies have been turned away from hospitals.

But despite the growing course of criticism, both inside and outside of China, Chinese President Xi Jinping very strongly doubling down on this policy. I want to read you a portion of the speech that he gave that was publicized on Chinese state television.

He said that all levels of government must -- quote -- "resolutely adhere to the zero-COVID policy, and resolutely fight any words and acts distorting, doubting and denying China's COVID control policy."

It seems to indicate, Kim, that Chinese sensors will continue to erase any sort of dissent that appears on social media and people could even face investigation by the city police, they could face punishment for speaking out against this. President Xi's words are reminding some analysts of Chairman Mao, former Chairman Mao, the late chairman during the cultural revolution that was devastating and resulting in scores of deaths inside China. This policy, of course, not resulting in deaths, China says it is saving lives, particularly the lives of its elderly population, many of whom can remain unvaccinated.


BRUNHUBER: All right. Thank you so much, Will Ripley.

And Chinese officials have ended the search for survivors of the building that collapsed a week ago. State media is reporting 53 people died from the collapse in China's southern Hunan province. Rescue workers were able to pull 10 people from the rubble. One person is reportedly in critical condition. The other nine are stable.

China's state council will convene a committee to investigate the deadly incident, including what happened, why the building collapsed, and who might be responsible.

Well, capitals across Europe are watching the Ukraine war with deep worry for their own security. Finland isn't waiting to see if Russian aggression threatens its territory and is ramping up its own defenses just in case. We will have those details coming up. Stay with us.




BRUNHUBER: Welcome back. I'm Kim Brunhuber. Ukrainian troops continue to hold on at the Azovstal steel factory in Mariupol. It is believed to be the last remaining stronghold the Ukrainians still hold in the city.

Russian shelling and bombardment of the huge facility has been relentless. Fighting there is described as bloody and intense. An unknown number of civilians are also sheltering there and efforts to evacuate them all not yet been successful.

We're now learning the U.S. played an important role in the sinking of the Russian flagship Moskva. The U.S. confirms it provided Ukraine with intelligence on the ship's location in the Black Sea, but said it wasn't involved in the missile attack that sank the cruiser. The Pentagon denies it is helping Ukraine target Russian generals and other senior military commanders on the battlefield.


JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY, ASSISTANT TO THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS: 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 useful intelligence, timely intelligence, that allows them to make decisions to better defend themselves against this invasion. And I think the less said about that, honestly, the better.


BRUNHUBER: Russia's war on Ukraine is being felt far from Ukraine's borders. Several European countries that aren't part of NATO are becoming much more vocal about joining the alliance.

Finland shares a border with Russia and it is watching the Ukraine conflict with alarm.

CNN's Nic Robertson says the Finnish military is already preparing for any potential Russian aggression.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): In Finland's forests, the nation's military is readying should Russia threaten war.

Arrow 22, joint military exercises. Finnish troops alongside British, American, Latvian and Estonian forces.

UNKNOWN: I really don't know what happens. It depends on the commanders of each side. Let's see. If the main target is upwards, that means the tank is destroyed.


ROBERTSON (voiceover): These annual exercises now with added urgency, Russia's war in Ukraine, causing Finland to consider joining NATO.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want to develop. And if you are in your own bubble, you don't develop.

ROBERTSON: Arrow 22 is all about preparing Finland for potentially joining NATO, in the words of the organizers, for the purposes of national defense to create and sustain international operability.

Finland's defense chief and his UK counterpart, visiting the battle training, success in the forests, speeding Finland's path to NATO membership.

ANTTI KAIKKONEN, FINNISH DEFENSE MINISTER: We have a very good interoperability with NATO, and I believe that Finland would fulfill the criteria needed to be a NATO member. I believe that possible negotiations with NATO wouldn't take so much time because of that.

ROBERTSON: Until then, the UK pledging military support and clearly signaling political backing to help hasten Finland's membership.

BEN WALLACE, BRITISH DEFENSE SECRETARY: Exercises like this today show that our forces are professionally matched or professionally able to interrupt or operate. And that's a really important sort of strength that fill-in would definitely add to NATO.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, like the rails, like, he can really hold up.

ROBERTSON: Meanwhile, at the back of one of the tanks, camaraderie, the talk not about NATO.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like your weapons better.

ROBERTSON: Troops of different nations trading tips about each other's weapons.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You guys came up pretty heavy huh.

ROBERTSON: Joint battlefield exercise experiences bonding all.

CAPTAIN DENIS MAJEWSKI, U.S. ARMY: You get to hear the experiences of the Finns, the way they grew up so close to Russia, it's definitely an interesting experience, and I think it helps us all grow together.

ROBERTSON: After a day of shooting tank shells at each other, some Finnish troops pumped about their prospects should Putin pick a fight with them.

JAAKKO INKINEN, FINNISH ARMY: It doesn't seem logical because if they have already troops in Ukraine, then they decide to attack us, they get their (AUDIO GAP) kicked.

ROBERTSON: Finland is just days away from deciding if it will join NATO. Nic Robertson, CNN, Niinisalo, Finland.


KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR: Authorities in Fiji have seized the luxury yacht belonging to a Russian oligarch who is under U.S. sanctions. Authorities believed the yacht was trying to reach Russia to avoid being seized when it docked in Fiji last month. The seizure was carried out at the request of the U.S. Justice Department, and we're learning a Fijian court just denied a request to suspend the seizure.

All voters across the UK have made their choices for local council membership. Now, counting is underway, so we'll go live to London for the very latest. Stay with us.



BRUNHUBER: Vote counting is underway after the first election in the UK since the party gate scandal erupted last year. British voters made their choices for local council members on Thursday. It's the closest thing to a midterm that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has faced since taking office in 2019. And it's expected to reveal whether locked down breaking parties and other crises have caused the Conservative Party to lose support among British voters. CNN Reporter Nada Bashir is outside 10 Downing Street in London and joins us now live. So, Nada, some telling gains, maybe by the opposition, how is party gate hitting the Tories?

NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Well, look, Kim, it's still very early in the day results. We'll be trickling in throughout the day, even into tomorrow. So it's too early for anything definitive but we can certainly make some early conclusions, the Conservative Party clearly suffering some losses in the South and in particular, in London, where they would traditionally have had that support, in particular, in the all-important Council of Wandsworth in London, which they've held since 1978, a historic and symbolic loss and in the last hour of the Council of Westminster.

That's the first time the conservatives have lost that seat to the Labour Party since it was created back in 1964. So clearly, we are seeing some worrying signs for the Conservative Party. They had previously expressed concerns over low turnout that the fact that the party wouldn't perhaps perform so well in this election.

And as you mentioned that this is the first electoral test that the government and Boris Johnson have faced since 2018. Many are seeing this as a sort of referendum on Boris Johnson's leadership. This comes amidst a cost of living crisis, soaring energy prices, inflation, squeezing families, and a welfare system, which charities have said it's failing some of the country's most vulnerable people. And of course, as you mentioned, it comes on the heels of the party gate scandal.

Boris Johnson, of course, issued fined by the Metropolitan Police were taking part in a party or social gathering during the time when the country was under strict COVID regulations as what other members of his government. He is facing now three investigations, one by the Metropolitan Police, one by the Cabinet Office, and of course, now a parliamentary inquiry into whether or not he misled parliament.

And some of us will remember just a few days and weeks ago, the members of parliament, MPs, from the Prime Minister's own party telling the prime minister in the House of Commons that if the Conservatives perform poorly in these local elections, he should consider calling a vote of confidence in his leadership. And as we do expect, potentially more fines to be announced by the Metropolitan Police. This could certainly be a decisive vote for the Conservative Party still, Kim.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, interesting to follow the repercussions. We'll keep looking at those results as they come in. Nada Bashir, thank you so much.

The four astronauts onboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endurance are back on Earth after a six-month visit to the International Space Station. Their capsule splashed down near the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida a few hours ago. The splashdown marks the end of the third SpaceX mission to the ISS in partnership with NASA.


BRUNHUBER: I'm Kim Brunhuber. For international viewers, WORLD SPORT is next. For viewers here in North America, I'll be back with more news after a short break. Please do stay with us.


KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR: The U.S. is being pummeled by what forecasters say is the worst spring storm season in the years. You're looking at damage in Oklahoma from a storm system earlier this week.


BRUNHUBER: It left behind flooding in multiple counties and power outages to thousands of customers. More severe weather is on the horizon. The spring storm season lasts through June. CNN Meteorologist Derek Van Dam joins me now. So, Derek, I mean, it sounds as if it could get worse. I mean, what are we in for here?

DEREK VAN DAM CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, let's try to contextualize it because it really has been a banner year for severe weather. And when we talk about tornadoes, we're talking about 119 percent of average, so that is a year to date, basically. So on average, we would see about 524 tornadoes in the United States, but we've had over 600 reports so far. And in the month of March, in particular, that was a banner month as well. We actually had the most number of tornadoes documented ever within the United States history for the month of March. So that really kicked things off this spring.

Now, just yesterday, we had two reports of tornadoes, we can't forget about the severe wind gusts that also caused damage as well. So this is all part of the severe weather story that is marching eastward across the Deep South. Here's the radar, lots of lightning moving through the New Orleans region, but no severe threat at the moment, but that will change once we get the daytime heating from the sunshine.

We talk about that so often because that is really the catalyst to help fire the thunderstorms off along with a cold front. That's our triggering mechanism and the warm humid air that's in place from the Gulf of Mexico. And when this cold front moves eastward, it is going to bring that severe weather threat with it as well.

In fact, we just got the Storm Prediction Centers update at 2 a.m. this morning, and it has put a large swath of the South East under this enhanced risk of severe storms. I'll explain what that means in a moment. But damaging winds, large hail a few tornadoes, Raleigh to Atlanta to Montgomery that is the area we need to keep a close eye on.

And the Storm Prediction Center has actually highlighted two particular locations with our greatest threat of tornadoes today, and that includes the Greater Atlanta metro region as well as Raleigh. With that shading of orange and a 5 percent of tornadoes anywhere. You see that shading of yellow, that basically means that there is a 5 percent or 10 percent probability of a tornado impacting that particular point within a 25-mile radius. That's what that percentage actually equates to.

So here's the severe weather threat, breaking it down timing-wise Atlanta today between about 2 to 4 p.m., and then the storms move eastward across the Carolinas by this afternoon and evening. And then I'm also picking up on some heavy rainfall threats across the Mid Atlantic. Weather Prediction Center actually has a slight risk of flash flooding from southern Pennsylvania into Western Maryland, two to three inches of rainfall, maybe some higher localized amounts with some of the storms that have moved through that area.

And so a very active severe weather threat and flood threat for today. Not to mention, triple-digit heat is starting to form in the Deep South, Kim.

BRUNHUBER: All right, well keep an eye on all that. Derek Van Dam, thanks so much.

VAN DAM: Got it.

BRUNHUBER: U.S. law enforcement officials are warning of potential violence in Washington and nationwide in the wake of the Supreme Court draft opinion that threatens to end the federal abortion rights. Capitol Police issued an alert, Thursday about far-right calls for attacks against a religious group planning a protest at the court in support of abortion rights, so crews had been installing tall non- scalable fences around parts of the building. And just hours ago, they set up concrete barriers blocking the street in front of the court. Protests, so far, have been peaceful.

Meanwhile, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is calling the leak of the draft opinion that would overturn the landmark abortion rights case Roe vs. Wade, absolutely appalling. But the top Senate Democrat says the leak isn't more important than "taking away the rights of over 100 million women." Now, during an interview with CBS, Hillary Clinton warned that the Supreme Court's far-right majority could go far beyond targeting abortion rights. Here she is.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER U.S. DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: 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.


BRUNHUBER: A string of deaths among the crew of the USS George Washington, the aircraft carrier has prompted the move of more than 200 sailors off the ship. According to the Navy, the move came after multiple crew members died by suicide. CNN Pentagon Correspondent Oren Liebermann has the story.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): For nearly five years, the USS George Washington has been here at the Newport News shipyard. Its refueling and overhaul process was delayed multiple times but the ship needs fixing in more ways than one. Current and former crew members who spoke with CNN say the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier was never ready for sailors, and the environment onboard was unlivable. These images from the ship provided to CNN, show the conditions on board. In these videos of a broken washing machine flooded nearby compartments, a bathroom in disrepair.


LIEBERMANN: CNN was unable to board the ship to see these conditions firsthand, but sailors say this was the norm. One sailor who wanted to remain anonymous told us about power outages, no hot water, unbearable temperatures, and the food.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They just run out of food. And if that anything left you would be -- if you're lucky, you're a little serial thing or one little chicken leg that may or may not be undercooked.

LIEBERMANN: What happened when you tried to flag some of these issues to your superiors or when others tried to flag them?


LIEBERMANN: On Facebook, former sailor Jacob Grella said he was so freaking happy when he found out he was assigned to the carrier not far from his home in Richmond. But soon he says weekend trips home became an escape from the carrier. With a year left on the ship, he tried to make an appointment with a ship psychologist, only to find out it was a six-month wait.

JAKE GRELLA, SERVED ON THE USS GEORGE WASHINTON: I tried to tell my leadership that this is -- this couldn't be a reason why these deaths are occurring.

LIEBERMANN: And what did they say?

GRELLA: I was smacked with the same negative feedback.

LIEBERMANN: In the past 12 months, the Navy says seven sailors on the USS George Washington have died, at least four by suicide. Sailors say the Navy brought in mental health resources after three of those suicides occurred in one week in April. One of those sailors who died by suicide was Xavier Sandor who was just a year out of high school. His father says he will always be the family hero.

JOHN SANDOR, SON WAS ASSIGNED TO USS GEORGE WASHINGTON: He loved his job. He did his 12-hour shifts. And how do you sleep on a -- on an aircraft carrier with jackhammering and smoke and smells during the day? So he would sleep in his car. It's this awful. No sailor should have even been living on that ship in those conditions.

LIEBERMANN: The Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, the branch's top enlisted leader, came here to the shipyard a couple of weeks ago to speak with the sailors on board. In a statement afterward, he said it was so he could better understand the difficulties and the challenges of the crew on board. But those who were there who spoke with CNN said the underlying message they heard was getting used to it. It could be worse.

One sailor called the visit laughable and offensive. The Navy searched more mental health resources on the ship following the suicides, including a special intervention team and an additional psychologist. An investigation into the suicides is expected to be completed this week. Another investigation into command, climate, and culture will take more time. The commander of U.S. Naval Air Force Atlantic says they'll look at the quality of life issues including housing.

The Navy began moving about half of the 400 or so sailors living on the ship that different accommodations, promising that those who want another place to live will get it. A former George Washington sailor who left the Navy after his time on the ship called it willful neglect.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that's something that's unacceptable, especially with a country with a military budget it has and the support it's supposed to have behind it. I mean, this isn't Afghanistan where you're expecting those circumstances. This is Newport News, Virginia.

LIEBERMANN: The refueling and overhaul process that the USS George Washington is going through now it was supposed to last only four years. But with delays, it'll go until at least March of 2023 the Navy says, so nearly six years. Part of the reason the sailors chose to speak out was to see if they can get something changed either through the navy or perhaps through Congress members so that other crews don't have to go through the same challenges they have faced. And that's a real fear for them because there's already another ship behind them in the shipyard that has started going through the same process. And they worried the challenges they have faced could be seen on that ship as well. Oren Liebermann, CNN in the Pentagon.


BRUNHUBER: American actress Amber Heard took the stand in her own defense again on Thursday in the defamation case filed by her ex- husband, actor Johnny Depp. During her testimony, Heard broke down while detailing the alleged physical abuse by Depp, she said kept escalating issues.


AMBER HEARD, ACTRESS: I was being very deliberate about my movements. I wasn't saying anything, I wasn't engaging. I am walking away from him slowly and he tells me to hurry 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 on my back. He just kicked me in the back.


BRUNHUBER: In earlier testimony, Depp said he's never struck a woman and that Heard was abusive towards him. [02:55:00]

BRUNHUBER: He sued the actress for $50 million over a 2018 op-ed in which she described herself as a victim of domestic abuse and he claims that article, custom lucrative acting jobs.

Well, the White House made history Thursday by appointing its first black press secretary. Karine Jean-Pierre will replace Jen Psaki who's stepping down next week to join MSNBC. Jean-Pierre currently serves as Psaki's principal deputy and has been on President Biden's senior communications team since he took office.

She will also become the first openly LGBTQ person to hold the position. Her family includes her partner, CNN Correspondent Suzanne Malveaux, and their daughter. Jean-Pierre is just the latest African- American woman to become part of President Biden's inner circle. He promised during his campaign to nominate a black woman to the Supreme Court should the opportunity arise, which he did, but he's gone far beyond that with his picks for vice president and the U.S. ambassador -- UN ambassador also being women of color.

Well, that wraps this hour. I'm Kim Brunhuber. I'll be back in just a moment here on CNN. Please do stay with us.