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Rescuing Civilians in Mariupol is Risky; Poland Struggling with Influx of Refugees; U.S. Shared Intel to Ukrainians About Moskva Warship; Suspected Terrorists Arrested in Israel; Wall Street Makes Complete U-turn; Finland Working to Join NATO Alliance; Finland Hopes to Become a NATO Member; China Postponed Asian Games; Supreme Court Draft Spark Outrage; White House Making Historic Decision; Alabama Offers Reward for Informants; Tornadoes Ripping Houses. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired May 06, 2022 - 03:00   ET




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

Ukrainian officials are working with the U.N. and Red Cross to get more civilians out of the devastated Ukrainian city of Mariupol in the coming hours. But they're facing what Ukraine's president calls non- stop shelling around the Azovstal steel plant.

One commander holdup inside says the fighting is fierce and bloody. The Donetsk military governor claims about 200 civilians remain trapped inside the plant. Volodymyr Zelenskyy says authorities are doing everything they can to get people to safety. Here he is.


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: Farther north, more than two dozen are people reported wounded by Russian shelling and airstrikes in the Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine. The city is seen as pivotal in Russia's quest to seize control of the Donbas region.

More now on the battle for Mariupol and the Azovstal steel plant from CNN's Scott McLean.


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is the last bastion of Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol. The Azovstal steel plant under what a city official calls nonstop shelling and assault by Russian forces. Inside, an untold number of civilians are still trapped as a bloody battle rages.

The commander of Ukrainian troops in the plant saying Thursday fierce combat is ongoing. After he says Russian forces breached the compound's barrier, the commander begging for transfer of the bodies of soldiers who have died in weeks of violence at the complex. He pleads for more evacuations of civilians still trapped inside. The United Nations says it's hard to know exactly how many remain, but they are trying to send help.

MARTIN GRIFFITHS, U.N. SPECIAL ENVOY FOR UKRAINE: A convoy is proceeding to get to Azovstal, 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.

MCLEAN: On Thursday, Putin promised safe passage for civilians out of Mariupol and the Kremlin denied an assault on Azovstal. But as the Russian forces besieged the city from all sides, Ukrainian troops say the plant is a final hold out for Mariupol's last defenders as the enemy closes in.

An exceptionally bitter fight for a city that's vital to Putin's war effort in Ukraine. Full control over Mariupol completes a Russian controlled land corridor between its mainland and Russian controlled Crimea. It also means Russian access to the port cities key access hubs on the Black Sea. And major blow to Ukraine, whose remaining soldiers fight at all costs to protect the strategically important city.

Inside the Azovstal steel plant, Ukrainian forces singing a battle hymn. It's sweeter to die in battle, then to die in chains as slaves, they chant, prepared to fight for Mariupol and Ukraine until the bitter end.

Scott McLean, CNN, Lviv, Ukraine.


BRUNHUBER: Poland's prime minister says an international donor's conference in Warsaw Thursday raised about $6.5 billion for Ukraine. The funds are intended to help with the economic and humanitarian fallout of Russia's invasion.

Ukraine's prime minister says the country has received more than $12 billion in financial assistance and weaponry since the conflict started. And now more is on the way.


MAGDALENA ANDERSSON, SWEDISH PRIME MINISTER: The money that we have raised today is desperately needed for men and women, for children and elderly, who see their lives, homes and their families torn apart by Russia's brutal war. And I'm happy to say that we have seemed to surpass our expectations for today's pledging. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BRUNHUBER: Now, it's impossible to know exactly how many Ukrainians have been forced to flee their home since late February. What we know is that they all need lots of help to get through their ordeal.


Millions are displaced internally while many others are flooding into neighboring Poland and other countries. The U.N. estimate more than 5.7 million Ukrainians are now refugees in the country surrounding Ukraine but the vast majority of them in Poland.

And joining me from Warsaw, David Gazashvili is the Poland country director for CARE U.S. Thank you so much for being here with us.

David, last we spoke about a month ago, when there were, you know, four million refugees. Now as I said earlier, that number is up to almost six million. Many of course have gone to Poland where you are. So how have you been dealing with such a large influx of refugees and what's the biggest need?

DAVID GAZASHVILI, POLAND COUNTRY DIRECTOR, CARE U.S. Yes, thank you. The most important needs are housing, education, health, including psychosocial health and support and employment. These are the priorities identified by the Polish government and these are the priorities that we also see on the ground.

We work with -- CARE works with the Polish organizations to provide assistance to the refugees which are over three million refugees crossed to Poland since February 24th. And now on daily basis we still see 200,000 -- 20,000 people crossing the border on daily basis.

So, we support refugees by providing cash so that they can purchase food and other items, as well as facilitating temporary and medium term accommodations, employment opportunities and psychosocial support and protection services.

BRUNHUBER: Now we've thrown around a lot of numbers there about refugees, but of course each one has a story. And you have been speaking to many of these refugees. What have they been telling you? What's stories have really resonated with you?

GAZASHVILI: Yes, so many, so many stories. I was on the border crossing recently. And I met a woman who, with a dog. She was fleeing from Kharkiv and she said that she stayed in the basement for weeks and only decided to flee once the buildings around her were shelled and destroyed.

She fled with her mother. But her brother stayed in Ukraine because he wanted to fight. They -- he was -- he was not fit to fight -- but, anyway, he stayed in Ukraine because he didn't want -- he didn't want to leave the country.

BRUNHUBER: Yes. And so many people --


GAZASHVILI: We also saw.

BRUNHUBER: -- can tell stories like that as well, having to leave their families behind and now trying to make new lives in countries like Poland. And those nations that have been taking on so many refugees, I mean, they've been reporting that the burden they're under is sometimes exceeding their capacity. So, from your perspective there in Poland, is that country reaching the limit or passing the limit they are in?

GAZASHVILI: I think it is reaching a limit. You know, the welcome and hospitality of Polish people and organizations and the government is enormous. And so many -- so many Ukrainians live with the host families and live with the other Ukrainians. Or rent -- or rent the places to live. But it's not going to be sustainable because so many more people are coming. And you cannot live with the friends and family forever.

So, it is important to continue identifying the housing -- house place opportunities for people to stay and that's what CARE and our partners are working with on with the local organizations and with the local governments to identify additional places outside of Warsaw, outside of the main cities where people can stay for a longer period and get some necessary assistance and support.

BRUNHUBER: Yes. I mean, the U.S. is trying to help with that. The Biden administration has pledged to accept some 100,000 Ukrainians fleeing the war. But you know, many people have criticized that program for taking in such a small number of people and also the way it's being administered. There are lots of bureaucratic hurdles for the people to clear. What more should the U.S. be doing on this front, do you think?

GAZASHVILI: I think the assistance that is provided to Ukraine and to the neighboring countries is really important. In terms of providing assistance to the government, as well as to the organizations like CARE and others who are here and who are in Ukraine to provide immediate support and assistance to Ukrainians in Ukraine, in Poland in other neighboring countries.


Yes, that's true, many -- many Ukrainian refugees are seeking refuge further into Europe and into other countries. But most of them, 90 percent of Polish refugees, Polish -- sorry, Ukrainian refugees and people that I talk to, they all want to return back to Ukraine with the first opportunity.

BRUNHUBER: Well, we'll have to leave it there but I really appreciate all the work that you and other aid organizations are doing to help so many people in Ukraine and in the countries bordering Ukraine.

David Gazashvili in Warsaw, Poland, thank you so much.

GAZASHVILI: Thank you. BRUNHUBER: Well, sources tell CNN, Ukraine had some help from the

U.S. in targeting Russia's flagship destroyer, Moskva last month. The warship sunk on April 14th after Ukrainian missiles strikes, the sources say Ukrainians spotted the ship, and 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. The Pentagon press secretary John Kirby tells CNN, we did not provide Ukraine with specific targeting information for the Moskva. We were not involved in the Ukrainians' decision to strike the ship or in the operation they carried out.

We had no prior knowledge of Ukraine's intent to target the ship. The Ukrainians have their own intelligence capabilities to track and target Russian naval vessels, as they did in this case.

All right, in Israel, police have now identified suspects in an attack that left three people dead and four others wounded. Authorities say two men attacked the victims on a street in the city of El'ad Thursday. A massive manhunt for them is now underway.

So, for more, Elliott Gotkine joins us live from Tel Aviv. So, what more do we know here?

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Kim, as you say, the manhunt for the perpetrators for what Secretary of State Antony Blinken has described as a horrible terrorist attack continues inside of Israel and inside the West Bank.

The suspects, as you say have now been named by the police as Assad al-Rafai, age 19, and Tzabahi Abu Shakir, age 20, they are said to be from the Jenin area in the northern West Bank which been -- has been seen frequent clashes between the Palestinians and the security forces.

In addition to the death, as you say, there are injures -- injured as well. Three are in hospital with life-threatening conditions according to medics. And Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has said that we will get our hands on the terrorists and ensure they pay the price.

And of course, Kim, this isn't the way that Israel wanted to, and it's Independence Day, Thursday of course was a day of celebration here in Israel, celebrating Israel's 74th birthday. But of course, that quickly turned to a different sense across the country, in the wake of these attacks. Kim?

BRUNHUBER: All right. Well, we'll continue following the story. Elliott Gotkine, thank you so much.

What a difference a single day makes. Wall Street takes massive losses just a day after seeing some of its biggest gains in a while. So, we'll look into what's behand the wild ride on U.S. markets, coming up. Stay with us.



BRUNHUBER: Wall Street did a complete U-turn on Thursday and saw its worst day of the year. The Dow plunged more than 1,000 points, while the NASDAQ and 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.

And we're keeping an eye on the markets in Asia and Europe where the reaction as you can see is mixed. So, for more, Anna Stewart joins us live from London. So, Anna, the market seemed happy with the Fed announcement, then everything went sideways. What's behind the big sell off?

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: It's made for a very choppy week, Kim. Yes, on Wednesday we saw something of a relief rally actually from investors, as they took the Fed decision not to raise rates as high as some as expected as some good news. But there's a lot to digest, particularly when we look at the economic pitch.

The central bank here, among many others around the world I have to say has got a really delicate balance here, they're trying to cool the economy to bring inflation under some control, make sure it doesn't spiral out. But at the same time, of course, they don't want to then push the economy into a recession.

Inflation raises cost for business. It also with interest rates rising reduces the spending power of consumers. So, it's a double whammy and it hits corporate profits, which is why you can particularly see reaction on equities.

This isn't just a U.S. story of course. We are seeing this across the board really globally. Let's bring you some of the other market reactions, because Asian markets overnight have taken Wall Street lead, they are trading lower. And that's being led actually by the Hong Kong Hang Seng. You can see there down over 3 percent.

And that's actually also having sentiments or some were battered by government officials reaffirming China's COVID zero policy. So not good news here.

Let's check in on the European markets, they've been open now for 19 minutes on the trading day. I believe they are also now following lower. Yes. CAC 40 in Paris down 1 percent, leading the losses there. And actually, looking ahead to the trading day, Kim, it doesn't get much better. U.S. futures also pointing lower. So, it could be another day of choppy trade.

BRUNHUBER: Yes. And so, as you say, I mean, confidence it didn't see much better there on your side of the pond. So, what's behind the pessimism there?

STEWART: Yesterday we had the Bank of England also raise rates. This is actually the fourth rate rise in a row for the Bank of England. But that was expected. The bad news was really on the economic outlook which was dire.


So, in the U.K., the Bank of England now expects inflation to rise above 10 percent this year. And for the GDP forecast they see the economy actually shrinking next year, so potentially a recession looming here in the U.K. And that certainly didn't do much for the pound which was down 2 percent against the dollar.

And a lot of this, Kim, in terms of the inflation outlook, and the impact that has on the economy here and all around the world, it's to do with energy prices. And here in the U.K., energy prices were already up 50 percent in April this year. They are expected to go up 40 percent further by the end of the year.

So, all of that feeding in and making it really hard actually to forecast on the economy, so much on energy prices and so much of that of course linked to the situation in Ukraine. Kim?

BRUNHUBER: All right. So more wild rides ahead, I guess. Anna Stewart, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

Capitals across Europe are watching the Ukraine war with deep worry for their own security. And Finland isn't waiting to see if Russian aggression threatens its territory and it's ramping up its own defenses just in case. Well, for those details just ahead. Stay with us.



BRUNHUBER: And welcome back to all of you watching us here in the United States, Canada, and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber. This is CNN Newsroom.

Ukraine's military is reporting fewer Russian ground attacks in the last 24 hours, suggesting relatively static frontlines as Ukrainian troops continue to hold on at the Azovstal steel factory in Mariupol. Now it's believed the steel plant is the last remaining stronghold the Ukrainians still have in the strategic port city.

Russian shelling and bombardment of the huge facility has been relentless and fighting is said to be bloody and intense. Dozens were reported wounded on Thursday by shelling and airstrikes in the key city of Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine. The city is seen as pivotal in Russia's quest to seize control of Ukraine's Donbas region.

And the U.S. confirms it helped Ukraine locate Russia's flagship Moskva in the Black Sea, but denies it had any role in sinking the cruiser. The Kremlin says it's well aware that Ukraine is getting intelligence from the U.S., Britain, and NATO.

Russia's war on Ukraine is being felt far from Ukraine's borders, several European countries that are not part of NATO are becoming much more vocal about possibly joining the alliance and one of them is Finland. CNN's Nic Robertson joins us from there. So, Nic, I understand that

you are at the Finnish border crossing with Russia, where fear of Russian aggression is suddenly becoming more real and acute. So how is the war in Ukraine prompting changes there in Finland?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It's prompting a way -- it's prompting change in the way that Finnish people think about possible NATO membership. You can see from the sign over my shoulder here that Finland is a member of the European Union. So, it's always felt is sort of been on potential natural trajectory towards joining NATO.

It had this non-aligned status with Russia historically going back to the Second World War. But because of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, what we heard from the Finnish prime minister just in the past month where she defines this as a huge change of swift and sudden change in the way that people in Finland think about Russia and how they need to prepare for a potential defense.

And that has been a step change in the way that people here think about the potential of joining NATO. So, when Finland's military had exercises, military exercises just a couple of days ago with partner nations, the U.S., the U.K., and others , it very -- it sends a very important message on what is essentially the eve of them potentially joining NATO. This is what we saw when we went to those exercises.


ROBERTSON: 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 troops.

UNKNOWN: I really don't know what happens. It depends on the commanders on each side.

UNKNOWN: Let's see.

UNKNOWN: And if the main target is upwards, that means the tank is destroyed.

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

UNKNOWN: We want to develop and if you're 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 U.K. counterpart visiting the battle training. Success in the forests speeding Finland's path to NATO membership.

ANTTI KAIKKONEN, FINNISH DEFENSE MINISTER: We have 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 U.K. pledging military support and clearly signaling political backing to help hasten Finland's membership.


BEN WALLACE, BRITISH DEFENCE SECRETARY: Exercises like this today show that our forces are professionally matched and professionally able to operate and that's a really important sort of strength that Finland would definitely add to NATO.

UNKNOWN: Yes, I like the rails. I think it can really hold it.

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

UNKNOWN: I (Inaudible) what's better.

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

UNKNOWN: You guys came up pretty ready, huh.

ROBERTSON: Joint battlefield exercise experiences, bonding all.

DENIS MAJEWSKI, U.S. ARMY: You got to hear the experiences of the defense, the way that they grew up so close to Russia it's definitely an interesting experience, and I think that 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 decided to attack us, they'll get their (muted) kicked.

ROBERTSON: Finland just days away from deciding if it will join NATO.


ROBERTSON: So that's the military preparation, if you will, or it gives you a flavor of how Finnish troops could integrate with NATO troops should Finland take that decision. And the decision really is going to happen in the next few days. We are expecting early next for the Finnish parliament to wrap up their discussions which had been ongoing for a couple of weeks about the pros and cons of joining NATO, but at the moment, the numbers, 200 members of parliament there the majority very significantly in favor of joining NATO.

And potentially by late next week, we'll hear from the Finnish prime minister, the Finnish president, the foreign ministry will present their paper and findings on their examination of the proposal that's going through parliament at the moment. But I think everyone you talk to here at the moment is really

expecting by the end of next week for Finland to have signaled clearly that it would like to join NATO. Some technical processes to follow out of that of course. But this country, Finland, does seem right on that trajectory to make that request soon. Kim?

KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR: Great reporting on this very fascinating story that we'll be following throughout the week.

Nic Robertson at the Finnish/Russian border, thank you so much.

Authorities in Fiji have seized a luxury yacht that belong to a Russian oligarch who is under U.S. sanctions. Authorities believe 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 are learning a Fijian court just denied a request to suspend the seizure.

All right. Coming up here on CNN Newsroom, the World Health Organization says the COVID-19 death toll is much higher than reported. We'll look at the new data coming, up stay with us!



BRUNHUBER: Early results show the U.K.'s conservative party has suffered major losses in local council elections held Thursday. Results for England have been trickling in overnight, and according to the British press association, the opposition Labour Party has clinched victory and three key London authorities.

Now this is the first British election since the party gate scandal erupted last year. It comes amid an ongoing crisis over the rising cost of living.

Well, 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.

Now the new data is particularly concerning for India, the WHO estimates 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 models used by the agency.

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

Chinese state media is reporting that the 2022 Asian Games set to take place in September have been postponed. Now, no information on alternative date was given. It comes as Chinese President Xi Jinping doubled down on China's zero COVID policy.

In a strongly worded speech on Thursday that policy has left at least 30 Chinese cities under some degree of lockdown, affecting nearly 200 million residents across the country.

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

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 collapse, and who might be responsible.

Well, thanks for watching us. I'm Kim Brunhuber in Atlanta. For our international viewers, Inside Africa is next. For those of you here in the U.S. and Canada, I will be right back with more news after the break. Please do stay with us.



BRUNHUBER: Law enforcement officials have warned potential violence in Washington and nationwide in the wake of the court's draft opinion that threatens to end the federal abortion rights. Tall metal fences are now in place around the U.S. Supreme Court. Crews have also set up concrete barriers blocking the street in front of the court.

Protests there so far have been peaceful and so are the vast majority of demonstrations around the country. But tremendous anger has been unleashed over the Supreme Court's likely plan to shrink down the landmark abortion rights case Roe versus Wade.

And that's already sparking strong reactions in several states. In Connecticut, a new law will protect abortion seekers and providers from out of state lawsuits. But conservatives also feel emboldened. In Louisiana, lawmakers are pushing a bill that would classify abortions as homicides.

Now these red states here already have legislation in place that would trigger automatic bans on abortion if and when the Supreme Court officially overturns Roe, and other states are likely to follow suit.

Well, analysts say the next frontier in the abortion battle may be the growing use of pills by mail that can end unwanted pregnancies. As CNN's Tom Foreman reports suppliers of these medications say they

intend to keep sending them to the U.S., no matter what state laws say.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For those intent on ending abortions in parts of the United States, the biggest barrier may now not be politics but pills which researchers say are effective, available and now used for more than half of all abortions.

SUE SWAYZE LIEBEL, STATE POLICY DIRECTOR, SUSAN B. ANTHONY LIST: Abortion activists have been quietly building a whole new business model to target young women on their phones, to click, get information and receive abortion drugs by mail.

FOREMAN: The Food and Drug Administration approved mail-order supplies with the so-called abortion pills with the prescription this past December for women in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. Advocates insist it is less invasive, more discrete and just as safe as surgical abortion.

JENNIFER VILLAVICENCIO, OBSTETRICIAN-GYNECOLOGIST, AMERICAN COLLEGE OF OBSTETRICIANS AND GYNECOLOGISTS: And oftentimes people choose this for various reasons. They want to be able to manage their abortion in their own home with their family and, you know, around in a surrounding with people that they're comfortable with.

REBECCA GOMPERTS, FOUNDER, WOMEN ON WAVES: We've seen an incredible increase of requests of help. People are really, really scared of what's going to happen.

FOREMAN: That's why some abortion rights supporters, such as Women on Waves based in the Netherlands, say they are already facilitating shipments of the drugs to women in far flung corners of the U.S. and they're promising to step up the efforts no matter where those women are or what state laws say.

GOMPERTS: What I'm doing is legal under the laws where I work from and I actually I have a medical oath to do this. I'm a doctor. My oath is that I help people that are in need and that is what I am doing.


FOREMAN: In many states where lawmakers are trying to stamp out abortion rights, the simple truth is they have written a lot of special lines in their laws to keep outside providers of these pills from accessing their population. But abortion rights defenders say it's only five little pills and they believe there is a way to get them to the women they see in need.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.

BRUNHUBER: The White House made history Thursday appointing its first black press secretary. Karine Jean-Pierre will replace Jen Psaki who is stepping down next week to join MSNBC. Jean-Pierre has on President Biden's e senior communications team since he took office.


KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This is a historic moment and it's not lost on me. I understand how important it is for so many people out there, so many different communities that I stand on their shoulders and I have been throughout my career.


BRUNHUBER: She will also become the first openly LGBTQ person to hold a position. Her family includes her partner, CNN national correspondent Suzanne Malveaux and their daughter. Jean-Pierre is the latest African American woman to become part of President Biden's inner circle.

He promised during his campaign to nominate a black woman on the Supreme Court, should the opportunity arise, which he did, but he's gone far beyond that with his fix for vice president and U.N. ambassador also being women of color.

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


CNN's Ryan Young has the latest.


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

CHAD HUNT, COMMANDER, U.S. MARSHALS GULF COAST REGIONAL FUGITIVE TASK FORCE: It was not a typical over the wall escape. We've gotten several hundred and to be quite honest, all the four corners of the United States, we've gotten tips.

YOUNG: 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, all the four corners of the United States we've gotten tips.

YOUNG: As the manhunt enters the seventh day, tips are coming from several states. Investigators widen the search from the escaped Alabama inmate Casey White and corrections officer Vicky White, no relation. With reported sightings from Florida to Kentucky.

RICK SINGLETON, SHERIFF, LAUDERDALE COUNTY, ALABAMA: We have several leads that we're following up on, some of them look promising. We hope they pan out. YOUNG: The pair of fugitives gaining national attention, but so far,

the trail remains cold. The U.S. marshal service released these renderings to highlight the height differences. Casey White is 6'9", compared to Vicky White who's 5'5". Their quick escape was caught on video last Friday. A councilman tells CNN he saw Vicky drive by and nothing seemed suspicious.

UNKNOWN: They drove by slowly. She waved at me twice.

YOUNG: According to the sheriff the description of the alleged get- away vehicle was never supposedly 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 it has been corroborated by inmates who came forth.

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: 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 jail and she just exploited the system. And that's what's so shocking.

YOUNG: 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: The marshal service and sheriff's deputy 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 are so many people watching this case across 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 the 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 at Lauderdale County, Alabama, Ryan Young, CNN.

BRUNHUBER: The U.S. is being pummeled by what forecasters say is the worst spring storm system in years. And it includes this that brought an EF3 tornado to end over Kansas last Friday. City officials say 100 structures were damaged and more severe weather is on the horizon. Spring storm season lasts through June.

CNN meteorologist Derek van Dam joins me now. So, Derek, I mean, what we saw was pretty -- you know, seemingly unprecedented. Tell us sort of what happened and what we're looking for.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, firstly, that video is just astounding to get that close to a tornado, having that surveillance footage and seeing the amount of detail. I mean, those trees and cars being thrown around, wow. I had to watch that over and over and over again in the replay booth.

Well, I want to talk about the context here because we have had a banner severe weather season. We are at 119 percent average on the count of tornados typically up to this date. We would normally see about 524. This season so far, we've seen 625.

Yesterday was no different. We had two tornados that was reported in eastern Texas. Can't forget about the wind damage and hail damage reports that have really moved through across much of the deep south. It's all thanks to a storm system that is marching eastward.

Here's the latest radar. No severe threat at the moment. That's because we don't have the daytime heating from the sun. That's when things kind of cool off in terms of severe weather typically. Of course, there are sometimes and that's not the case.

But while we get that sunshine later this afternoon, things are going to start cooking quickly. And that cold front is the triggering mechanism for thunderstorm development. So, we'll see that move across the southeast, including places like Atlanta, as well as Raleigh.


In fact, the storm prediction center has an enhanced risk of severe storms. Where you see that shading of orange, we really need to keep an eye to the sky because tornados are possible here. Large hail and damaging winds.

Storm prediction center has a percentage too, we've highlighted two areas with a 10 percent chance of tornadic development. That means anywhere within a 25-mile radius of any particular point, they could experience a tornado. That's the percentage to explain to you.

So, here's the timing. There it is moving through midday today and then by the evening hours, we expect that heavy rain and tornado threat to move to the Carolinas. Kim?

BRUNHUBER: All right. We'll keep watching. Thanks so much, Derek van Dam. I appreciate it. And that wraps this hour of CNN Newsroom. I'm Kim Brunhuber. Max

Foster will be back with more news after a short break. Do stay with us.