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Fifty Civilians Evacuated From Mariupol Steel Plant Today; Russia Blew Up Bridges In Northeast To Slow Counter-Offensive; Biden Announces New $150M Aid Package For Ukraine; North Korea Fires Short- Range Ballistic Missile; Authorities Announce Key Discovery In Search For Alabama Fugitives; Most Americans Support Federal Abortion Rights Law; Esper Writes That Trump Wanted To Bomb Drug Labs In Mexico; Idaho's Population Growth Sparks Rising Home Prices. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired May 07, 2022 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
We begin this hour with new attacks in Ukraine. Ukrainian military officials say six Russian cruise missiles targeted key infrastructure today in the Odessa region. New video showing the black smoke from those strikes.
And in the northeast, Ukraine says Russia destroyed several bridges in an attempt to slow down Ukrainian counteroffensives under way there.
And in the besieged city of Mariupol, the fate of hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians remains unknown as they hunker down in a massive steel plant. Ukrainian officials say 50 civilians were evacuated today after dozens fled on Friday.
The U.S. is stepping up its efforts to assist Ukraine. President Joe Biden announcing a new $150 million security aid package.
CNN's Scott McLean is following the latest developments for us from Lviv, Ukraine. So Scott, a lot of attention on the evacuations in Mariupol. So what is the situation today?
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fredricka, so we've just gotten word not long ago from the Donetsk People's Republic, that is the government of the breakaway region of Donetsk which has now sort of swallowed up the city of Mariupol with the exception of course, of the Azovstal steel plant.
And this government, this breakaway separatist government, says that 152 people including 32 children have been evacuated from Mariupol today before 4:00 which is about two hours ago.
What is not clear, though, is whether that includes only people from the surrounding city or whether it actually includes anyone from the steel plant itself. We have not gotten confirmation yet from the Ukrainian government, nor from the United Nations which has been facilitating this effort.
The reason why the answer might be complicated is because today according to the Ukrainian side, the plan was to evacuate as many people as they could from the site of the Azovstal steel plant, this sprawling four square-mile industrial site, and take them to another point in the city where they would meet up with other evacuees trying to get out of the city and then go east toward a Russian checkpoint, a filtration center, a reception center, where their documents would be checked and they would be questioned. The Ukrainians say that a lot worse takes place at these filtration points.
What is odd about the direction is that most people will inevitably choose to go to Ukrainian-held territory rather than Russian-held territory.
In the last round of evacuations people were given a choice as to which direction they wanted to go. Some did go further into Russia, others went to Ukrainian-held territory. The Ukrainians say that the reason the Russians are doing this is for the propaganda value of having people appear as if they are fleeing into Russian territory from supposed mistreatment from the Ukrainians.
As I said, we don't have news from the Ukrainian side, but sometimes no news is good news. And this is probably one of those moments, Fredricka, because the Ukrainians have made very clear that they don't want to say anything that might jeopardize the success of this operation. So fingers crossed there.
One other thing to point out, and that is that we understand that this evacuation mission will take out civilians. What is unclear is the status of soldiers who are still trapped in that plant. President Zelenskyy said that he is working to try to find some kind of a diplomatic option, some kind of a diplomatic solution to get them out, working with some influential third-party countries in those negotiations. So stay tuned there, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right. We will, indeed. We'll check back with you. Scott McLean, thanks so much.
All right. Joining us now to discuss is retired U.S. Army General Wesley Clark. He's the former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO. So good to see you.
Russia's targeting of bridges in the Odessa region, and now in the northeast, why would they be targeting the bridges? What's the strategy?
GEN. WESLEY CLARK, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, in the northeast what they're trying to do is prevent the Ukrainians from advancing and encircling the Russian forces that are trying to encircle the Ukrainian forces. And the ground is still pretty soft up there.
But if you take a step back and look at where we are strategically for just a moment. So the Russians were going to really make a big push in Donbas, ok. They haven't succeeded in this. The Ukrainians have been really tough. [11:04:56]
CLARK: The ground is still pretty wet there. But when it starts to really dry out -- mid-June, July, August -- that's the real campaign season. And if the Ukrainians haven't received sufficient forces by then, and that means multiple launch rocket systems from the United States, the so-called HIMARS system which has been talked about but not delivered, aircraft so that they can support the maneuver forces, they're going to be outmaneuvered by the Russian forces.
There's no long war strategy possible for Ukraine. They have a window of opportunity in the summer to eject the Russians if they're given the right support. But when the summer's over, by the time the Russians have mobilized forces, President Xi has his third term approved in China, China will be freed up to do more to assist Russia.
And you know these missile strikes are bit by bit chewing up Ukraine's infrastructure -- Transportation, fuel, power. So the long war strategy doesn't actually work for Ukraine. The United States needs to redouble its efforts to get military equipment into Ukraine right now, the kind they can use to eject the Russians now over the summer.
WHITFIELD: Because am I hearing you say that the arsenal that's been committed, the amount of money, U.S. money that's been committed thus far is not getting in there soon enough? Or that what has already been committed still isn't enough so that this does not become elongated into the summer and into the fall affair? You see that more arsenal, more money needs to be dedicated, or it needs to be organized so that Ukrainians are getting it all sooner?
CLARK: You know both -- both points, Fredricka are accurate. More needs to be committed, and more needs to get there sooner. And the Russians are now beginning to target the infrastructure that gets this equipment there so we're going to face more resistance to get it in.
And the longer we delay on this, the more resistance there is to the reinforcement. And so this idea that, you know, hey, the Ukrainians are really winning, just hold on -- Putin's going to -- something's going to happen to Putin or whatever, it's not the right strategy if that's the strategy.
We're not quite sure what the strategy is. The chairman of the joint chiefs, the secretary of defense, secretary of state all want Russia to have a strategic failure, Russia to be weakened. But the truth is right now we don't have enough committed, we don't have enough on the ground or in the pipeline to make that strategy work.
Instead, what we're going to end up with is a drawn-out summer back and forth and then by the winter, boom, everything's going to break free against the Ukrainians. That's my lead of it right now.
I wish it weren't so because the administration's saying the right things, but it's not giving the right equipment soon enough into the Ukrainians. That's my personal belief.
WHITFIELD: So it seems as though the U.S. is also trying to figure out where the line is. It wants to show publicly it supports Ukraine, but at the same time it doesn't want to be associated directly with being in the conflict by doing more than what it's already committed to do, meaning the amount of money, the arsenal already committed.
What is that conversation like right now within the White House, within the Pentagon, about how far and for how long the U.S. is willing to go so as not to send the message to Russia because that's who they're speaking to that the U.S. is not directly involved? Or is it time for that?
CLARK: Well, I think that's exactly the right question Fredricka. But I think that the answer is not resolved yet inside the administration.
What I'm hearing from some people in the administration is, oh, my gosh, I hope he doesn't use a tactical nuclear weapon, that would change everything. But the truth is if he uses tactical nuclear weapons, it's just another way to kill people.
And we've got to look through that. We can't allow ourselves to be self-deterred because he's going to fire four or five tactical nuclear weapons that are going to be the first use of nuclear weapons and so forth. He would do that not only for battlefield effect but to frighten the United States and NATO and cause us to draw back from support.
The best thing we could do to Vladimir Putin is say it doesn't matter what you do, you're going to lose. And we're going to put the policies in place to make sure you lose. We've halfway said that, but we haven't followed through because we can't quite get this tactical nuclear issue resolved.
CLARK: We're the big dog in international affairs. We're the most powerful nation in the world. And we have a strong nuclear deterrent. Lloyd Austin has said that. So we can't simply say we might fire a couple of tactical nuclear weapons and, oh, that would change international relations. Yes, it would, but it would change it against Russia, not against us. The only thing that will change it against us is if we jump back in fear when and if he uses such a weapon.
CLARK: The best way to prevent him using that weapon is to convince him that it won't help. And the best way to convince him it won't help is to give Ukraine the assistance they need as rapidly as possible and push those Russian forces right out.
WHITFIELD: It sounds like I'm hearing you say right now the U.S. is using that fear as an excuse to go further.
CLARK: I think that's always been Putin's plan from the beginning, and he's echoed it in a lot of propaganda on Russian television about it. And he's trying to build up his -- his own domestic support by threatening nuclear weapons. The truth is, his military right now on the ground is not very
competent. The nuclear weapons probably do work. But he will eventually produce a competent military if we give him the time to do that. It's just the way it works. If you fire enough generals, lose enough troops, eventually someone will figure out how to do this.
So time is not on Ukraine's side. The moment for us is now and over the summer. And we have to see it, we have to be strong enough to do this. This is the future of the international community. You can't let aggression succeed and believe that everything will be the same afterwards. It won't be.
WHITFIELD: All right. I hear you loud and clear. General Wesley Clark, thank you so much. Appreciate your time.
CLARK: Thank you, Fredricka. Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right. We turn now to North Korea where a short-range ballistic missile was fired early today, likely launched from a submarine, that's according to the South Korean government. It says the missile landed in the waters off the coast of the Korean Peninsula.
Let's go to CNN senior international correspondent Will Ripley who is in nearby Taiwan. So this is the 14th projectile North Korea has fired this year. How is this being interpreted? What's happening?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's certainly an escalation, Fredricka. And the numbers themselves are troubling because 14 missile launches this year is more than 2020 and 2021 combined.
But also it's the type of missile that U.S. and South Korean intelligence and Japanese intelligence believe was launched -- a submarine launched ballistic missile. It traveled at an altitude of under 40 miles, yet a distance of almost 400 miles. What makes these submarine-launched ballistic missiles so troubling is that a submarine can get close to enemy shores, a North Korean submarine could go to the shores of South Korea or Japan hypothetically, launch one of these with little if any warning and it would be very difficult if not impossible for missile defense systems to shoot down. And these short- range missiles could also potentially be nuclear capable.
So this is a major escalation and it's coming on the heels of a barrage, a missile testing binge, if you will, by Kim Jong-un. This one was fired during the overnight hours eastern time, 1:07 a.m. Eastern time, 2:07 p.m. local time.
And it comes just a few days after North Korea launched another ballistic missile, a launch on Wednesday that was not publicized by North Korean state media which is interesting. We're not exactly sure why.
But as you mentioned, the number of missiles is certainly concerning. But what is also concerning for Japanese and American and South Korean and military intelligence is what may be coming in the weeks ahead because satellite images show that North Korean has been rebuilding its nuclear test site at Punggye-ri and the U.S. is saying that there could be a nuclear test there within the month, Fred.
Kim Jong-un gave a speech a couple of weeks ago saying he's going to grow his nuclear arsenal as fast as possible while the rest of the world is focused on Ukraine.
WHITFIELD: All right. And Will, what does Japan think the objective is? I mean, all this testing, what is the objective?
RIPLEY: Reporter: well, a lot of these missiles are flying right towards Japan, Fred, which is certainly concerning for the Japanese. Although I remember when I was based in Tokyo back I believe it was 2017, there was a missile that flew over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.
So these provocations are not getting to that point yet. But the Japanese are certainly concerned, and there are more than 50,000 U.S. Troops stationed in Japan which would be a target for the North Koreans if they ever felt provoked by the United States and wanting to launch a strike.
It's noteworthy, Fred, the Japanese are now talking about expanding their missile system to actually be able to strike enemy bases. This is pacifist Japan talking about arming itself for a potential first strike. It just goes to show the arms race that's really unfolding here in the Indo-Pacific region.
WHITFIELD: All right. Indeed. Will Ripley, thank you so much, in Taiwan.
All right. Coming up, new clues and a twist in the manhunt for an escaped Alabama inmate and a corrections officer. We'll bring you the latest on the investigation next.
WHITFIELD: A week after a former Alabama corrections officer and an inmate went missing, the car that authorities say the pair used to escape has been found. It was discovered abandoned on a road in Williamson County, Tennessee, the same day of the escape and then it was towed to a nearby lot. Officials realized that was the fugitives' car just two days ago.
CNN's Ryan Young has been following this very confusing and mysterious story. He's joining us live from Alabama right now.
WHITFIELD: Ryan, I mean, boy, it takes a lot of twists and turns, but investigators still don't know where they are.
RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Look, a lot of twists and turns, and this is one of those stories that everyone's sort of focused on because look, it has all the qualities of a movie.
When you think about the fact that this car was found about a week ago and the guy was sitting home watching TV. When he was watching of TV, he said, I think that car matches the description. He calls the Sheriff's Department, they come out and check it then. The good news about this it gives the U.S. marshals and the Sheriff's Department a chance to sort of look at all the clues from that area.
This car was found in the middle of the road. So it seems like the car broke down. So all the supplies what were on the inside were removed from that car and probably, where did they go? That's the next question.
We also asked the sheriff's department were there any homes nearby, whether or not there was any ring door cameras or any surveillance cameras in the area. It was in a rural area, so they don't even have the idea of what car they may have gone into.
But listen to the U.S. Marshals talk about how this new clue could help them out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHAD HUNT, COMMANDER, U.S. MARSHAL GULF COAST FUGITIVE TASK FORCE: Now what we're doing in addition to canvassing the area, doing some interviews. We're looking at all those tips that were specific maybe to that area.
So it really, you know, reinvigorates, you know, the investigation for us and it gives us a trajectory to carry on these investigations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YOUNG: Fred, when you think about this, there's a serious side to the story because when you think about Casey White, he's facing a capital murder charge. He was already in jail for a 75-year sentence.
But the big question here is whether or not these fugitives were masterminds and were thinking about this for quite some time. This was Vicki White's last day last Friday when she was at the jail facility. She worked there for 17 years. A lot of people trusted her.
So did she have this planned out all the way? We do know that she got a hotel room. She sold her house. She has extra cash. So how long was this in process? And how long were they talking? Apparently she was talking to him while he was in jail.
So many questions about this. Everyone feels like this is a made-for- television movie. We'll have to see how it all plays out, Fred.
WHITFIELD: It is, indeed. And you say it was her last day of work. In fact, her colleagues were planning a retirement party for her, right?
YOUNG: A retirement party, yes. And you know, if you think about this, Fred, the jokes here have been sort of crazy. One guy just pulled up on us recently and said instead of them grabbing a Ford Edge they should have grabbed a Ford Escape.
So you get the idea that the jokes are coming in. People are interested. Everyone wants to figure out what happens next.
WHITFIELD: Lots of jokes, but still really serious business. All right. Ryan Young, thanks so much.
WHITFIELD: Keep us posted.
All right. Still ahead, nearly two dozen states are poised to ban abortion if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. Next, we'll discuss the unprecedented leak of the court's draft opinion and the firestorm that it has sparked nationwide.
WHITFIELD: In the wake of the leak of a draft of a U.S. Supreme Court opinion that would strike down Roe v. Wade, new CNN polling shows most Americans support congress passing a law to establish a nationwide right to abortion. Overall, 59 percent support such legislation.
This week the U.S. Senate plans to vote on a bill to protect access to abortions across the country, but it faces an uphill battle to get the 60 votes needed to pass.
CNN's Daniella Diaz joining us now. So what do we know about the upcoming vote?
DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Fred, we know the vote's going to happen next week and it's specifically on legislation called the Women's Health Protection Act, a legislation that's supported by the majority of Democrats in the senate except for one, Senator Joe Manchin who had described himself as, quote, "pro-life and proud of it", and quote, "a lifelong abortion opponent".
So not even the entire Democratic caucus is united on this effort to codify Roe v. Wade. And the other issue here is that there are two moderate Republican senators, Fred, that believe in abortion rights and they have said they won't vote for this legislation, specifically Senator Susan Collins of Maine. She said in a statement why she won't vote for it, it supersedes all other federal and state laws including the conscience protections that are in the Affordable Care Act. It doesn't protect the right of a Catholic hospital to not perform abortions. That right has been enshrined in law for a long time.
She specifically is talking about that bill that's going to be put on the floor for a vote next week by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. It has been put to a vote before in February. She voted against it then. She plans to vote against it next week. And she says that her legislation that she introduced with Senator Lisa Murkowski includes this amendment that would allow Catholic hospitals to deny abortions -- the right to perform an abortion. But really the bigger picture here, Fred, is that there are not 60 votes in the Senate to break that filibuster to advance that legislation. But really Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is doing this because he wants all senators to be put to a vote -- on the record for where they stand on this issue.
But again, it's just as you said, that draft is just a draft, the one that was leaked last week. And the Supreme Court is not planning to issue its formal opinion until June, so a lot could change until then, Fred.
WHITFIELD: Indeed. All right. Daniella Diaz, thank you so much.
Let's go now to the starting point and then what immediately has followed. Joining me right now is CNN U.S. Supreme Court reporter Ariane de Vogue to talk more about this. So good to see you here in Atlanta.
ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN U.S. SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Good to see you.
WHITFIELD: Ok. So you were here where two justices, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Clarence Thomas, spoke to a group of judges and lawyers in the aftermath of this draft leak. Roberts calling the leak absolutely appalling. Thomas warns of an erosion of institutions.
So were their thoughts provoked by questions coming from the audience?
DE VOGUE: No. They were basically talking to lawyers and judges, and they weren't being pushed at all.
But what a week we've had on the Supreme Court briefs. Starting with this draft opinion that's going to, if it becomes final, radically change women's reproductive health across the country. And if the country was stunned by that opinion, the court, of course, was stunned by the leak.
And you saw that. Chief Justice John Roberts coming here to give this talk this week. He said it was absolutely appalling. He suggested that it won't too much impact the court's work.
But then you had Clarence Thomas, and this is interesting, right, because Thomas repeated some something that he said before. And he basically believes that individuals more and more are attacking institutions when they don't get the policy judgment or the policy that they want.
WHITFIELD: He went as far as using the word bullied --
DE VOGUE: Yes.
WHITFIELD: I mean as if the protest or the public outcry is now bullying because it is speaking out -- right, First Amendment.
(CROSSTALK) WHITFIELD: You know, speaking out and he's calling that, you know, bullying government. Bullying institutions.
DE VOGUE: Yes. Yes. That's his point, and he says if you don't get what you want, you can't bully the institution. And he said that this leak is a symptom of that.
Here's why that's interesting on two fronts. First of all, he was probably a vote in favor of Roe, most likely here. But also keep in mind, Fred, it was just last month that it was revealed that Thomas' own wife, right, was in contact with the Trump administration trying to reverse election results.
So you kind of question that because she was pushing back on institutional norms there. So really interesting week here with these two justices this week talking about this explosive opinion.
WHITFIELD: Right. I mean interesting, pivotal. I mean, you know, all the words are there. And then justices don't often express themselves beyond perhaps their written opinions.
So it is, in fact, very unusual and shocking, stunning still, to hear justices now speaking out against the draft, that it was leaked. And now saying an investigation needs to take place.
Even you know, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also weighed in saying what's wrong here is that it was leaked.
DE VOGUE: Yes. So you see the focus on the leak from the Republican side. And the progressives, of course, they're not so much focused on the leak. They're focused on this explosive opinion.
And Chief Justice John Roberts said that he was going to go ahead and he was going to launch an investigation. But here's what's interesting is he could have maybe gone outside the confines of the court. Maybe asked the FBI to step in or a private law firm. But so far he hasn't done that. He's leaving it within the court which really doesn't have the investigative ability to go after --
WHITFIELD: What would that investigation then look like? I mean because it means -- it would be presumed that only a few eyes, a few hands can get, you know, a grip of the draft. So it -- it almost seems on the surface it would be simple to figure out who may have, you know, had access to it, and then try to extrapolate who then would leak it. Is it that simple?
DE VOGUE: Well, it's an investigation. And it takes investigators, right. And the court isn't really set up that way. They don't often do this. So you think that they might send it out, but if they don't, he must feel like, look, if we don't ever find the person who leaked this, at the very least maybe we can prevent it from happening again. But that's going to change the protocol of the court. And it comes at this fraught time. WHITFIELD: Well, one still has to wonder whether the public outcry,
the response to the draft will in any way be influential to the final draft. You know, we heard what Thomas said, "We will not be bullied."
DE VOGUE: Yes. Yes.
WHITFIELD: But because this is so incredibly explosive, this has reached a pitch that we haven't seen before surrounding the Supreme Court before a final opinion, do we believe that this could potentially be influential? The response.
DE VOGUE: Well, two points on that. Right, two points on that. First of all, this comes, the term is set to end at the end of June, and they are not only trying to finish up this case but they're trying to communicate with each other for all these other blockbuster cases, right. We have a big Second Amendment case, immigration. And that's kind of hard now because they might feel skeptical that there's a leak in there, and it's hard to do deliberations that way.
So -- on the other hand, if you now see that there were five votes -- because Alito said there were five votes to overturn Roe v. Wade, now that that's problem, doesn't it make it maybe a little bit more difficult for someone to say I changed my mind. Maybe, you know.
DE VOGUE: That's what's so interesting about this week. And that's why Roberts is so appalled because --
WHITFIELD: They're allowed to do that, though, aren't they?
DE VOGUE: They absolutely are.
WHITFIELD: Re-evaluating the law. Re-evaluating the statutes --
DE VOGUE: And it happens. Switching votes happens all the time.
DE VOGUE: But usually we don't see draft opinions --
WHITFIELD: Very true.
DE VOGUE: You know, that's the difference here.
WHITFIELD: We don't see how the sausage is made.
DE VOGUE: That's exactly --
WHITFIELD: Just the end result.
DE VOGUE: -- exactly it. Yes.
WHITFIELD: Ariane De Vogue, great to see you. DE VOGUE: Nice to be here.
WHITFIELD: Welcome to Atlanta.
DE VOGUE: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: Thank you so much.
All right. Coming up next, stunning revelations from former president Trump's defense secretary. He claims Trump floated the idea of launching missiles into Mexico. We'll discuss next.
WHITFIELD: All right. A stunning new account of former President Trump's time in the White House in a new book by former defense secretary Mark Esper. Esper says Trump asked him in 2020 about launching missiles at drug cartels in Mexico.
The "New York Times" publishing this excerpt, Esper writes that President Trump said, I'm quoting now, "We could just shoot some Patriot missiles and take out the labs quietly, and that no one would know it was us."
Well, joining us right now, Trump biographer and the author of "The Truth About Trump", CNN contributor Michael D'Antonio. Michael, good to see you.
So you know Trump better than most. Does this account sound believable to you?
MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, of course it does. And I think that there's not a better source than a former defense secretary Esper.
The thing that I can't believe anyone is surprised by anymore is that Donald Trump would show himself to be a gangster wannabe who's also quite ignorant. I was amused that he would ask for Patriot missiles which are used as air defense missiles, they're not able to be targeted on land targets.
But that said, you know, he also thought that this could be done quietly, that the United States would launch missiles and somehow Mexico wouldn't know where they came from. And so what if there are second or third greatest trading partner and essential to the security of the northern hemisphere? The Mexicans would get over it. I mean this is just nuts.
WHITFIELD: So this underscores the word you just used in association to Trump which was "ignorant". You said, you know, he doesn't know this stuff, but he is a gangster wannabe.
Esper's book also says that Trump talked about shooting protesters in 2020 following the police killing of George Floyd. You wrote an op-ed for CNN.com this week in which you talked about Trump's propensity toward violence.
So he's not joking, in other words. You think he is terribly serious about the idea of shooting protesters in the streets of the U.S.?
D'ANTONIO: Oh, I think -- yes, I definitely think he was very serious because this is a part of his character, and it always has been. Reaching for the violent response to whatever challenge, serious challenge that arises, is a thought that he has often.
Now we shouldn't confuse that with the idea that he would have the nerve or the courage to be violent himself. He always wants somebody else to punch out the protester, somebody else to push reporters out of a press conference because he doesn't like them.
But this is a guy who always had a bodyguard who carried a gun. This was long before anybody knew who he was. He reveled in that. So --
WHITFIELD: So where does there come from, this kind of inclination?
D'ANTONIO: Well, I think he's always thought about hurting other people.
D'ANTONIO: He went to this military academy as a child, and that was a very formative experience where they played soldier all day long. And I think he liked it. This is just a guy -- he also watches a lot of movies. So you have to think that he got the idea for attacking the drug cartels from the movie "A Clear and Present Danger", in which that's exactly what happens.
So he doesn't read biographies of presidents to get a sense of how to conduct himself in the office. He watches movies and thinks that he should be like Harrison Ford.
WHITFIELD: Wow. Well, even though you're critical, you also underscore that he is idolized. And we see that, you know, demonstrated in so many different ways. In fact, you recently wrote about how Florida Governor Ron DeSantis seems to be taking a page from Trump, emulating his style and this sort of brashness and really kind of going against the grain.
D'ANTONIO: Well, he did certainly go against the grain when he attacked Disney when Disney defended the idea -- you know, the equal status of gay and lesbian employees so that LGBTQ issue has really gone past Trump.
D'ANTONIO: You know, most of the country wants equality in every respect. But DeSantis, you know, wants to be just like the former president, so he's forming that kind of identity. The difference is --
(CROSSTALK) WHITFIELD: You see that as kind of taking off if not just in DeSantis,
do you see this emulating of Trump, his style, as proving to be -- you know, effective? For lack of a better word.
D'ANTONIO: Well, it's going to be effective among Republicans. I think DeSantis is aiming at the White House himself. He wants to be a national figure.
The difference, and I think this is key, is that he has no sense of humor. So when he's on the stage and he's performing, he comes across as downright mean. And Trump though mean-spirited, always presented himself with this kind of forced comedy delivery, in part so he could say I was only kidding.
DeSantis can never say I was only kidding, because his ideas are deadly serious, and he delivers them in this deadly serious manner.
WHITFIELD: Wow. A kind of twisted charm offensive is what I'm hearing you describe.
D'ANTONIO: Right. Right. No charm at all.
WHITFIELD: Michael D'Antonio, thank you so much. But you are indeed charming, how about that? All right. Good talking to you.
D'ANTONIO: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: We'll be right back.
WHITFIELD: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Idaho's population is growing at a faster rate than in any other state. It is triggering a slew of changes from community and culture to unmanageable -- unimaginable rather, price hikes.
Lucy Kafanov has more.
LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: With its stunning mountain vistas and idyllic country charm, it is easy to see why more and more people are moving to Idaho.
So what brought you out to Boise, Idaho?
XAVIER TORRES, BOISE, IDAHO RESIDENT: I mean just look around. Paradise on earth.
A year ago Xavier Torres and his family were living in California but a visit to Boise inspired them to make this little corner of America their permanent home. TORRES: We were looking at changing our life, we were looking at
something better. We decided to take a road trip up here to visit some friends and we fell in love.
KAFANOV: The family found a home they loved priced under $600,000. But decided to put off purchasing until things settled down. Now that home and others like it are out of reach.
TORRES: Now I'd say it is close to $2 million.
KAFANOV: So what is the reality of home ownership in Boise now?
TORRES: There is waiting lists. There are people putting down payments down on empty lots that aren't even built.
KAFANOV: Now the sound of paradise is changing. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Idaho is the fastest growing state in the country. The Boise area, which has seen roughly a 10 percent increase in population since 2019, is struggling to cope with the influx of new arrivals.
NATALIE PLUMMEWR, HOST, "THE BOISE BUBBLE" PODCAST: And it is kind of like every single thing you can think of in some way has changed. And it is just so quickly. And you're trying to wrap your head around it and realizing, I have to have a totally new definition for what my home town is.
KAFANOV: Natalie Plummer hosts "The Boise Bubble" podcast which has addressed the somewhat divisive topic of the city's sudden population boom.
PLUMMER: There is a reason that they're coming here. They want opportunities for their families. They want -- look at this. It is beautiful here. They want to come to a place that is clean, that is safe.
KAFANOV: Has it divided the community to have so many people moving here?
PLUMMER: Yes, for sure. The people who are moving here are our neighbors. And a very Idaho way of thinking of things is to be loving and welcoming but then there is this fear of will they change what we have. And in some ways, yes, no matter what, it will change.
KAFANOV: For Boise natives like Donna Allen, that change has been difficult to bear.
DONNA ALLEN, BOISE, IDAHO NATIVE: I went from a five-bedroom, three- bath house to a 35-foot camper. The landlord sold the house. And so we had to move out. And with rent prices the way they were, back in August, we just could not afford a house big enough for us.
KAFANOV: Priced out of her native Boise and battling a cancer diagnosis, Donna and her family of five had nowhere to go. She placed an ad on Facebook asking for help, one that caught Xavier's eye.
TORRES: This lady breast cancer survivor reached out because they have nowhere to go. They lived in the same home their whole lives, pretty much. So she was reaching out for anything.
I've been blessed, we had a trailer just sitting in storage.
KAFANOV: Xavier offered the trailer to Donna and her family.
What would have happened if he didn't step up?
ALLEN: We would have been homeless.
KAFANOV: On the streets?
KAFANOV: What pushed to you do that?
TORRES: It is called doing the right thing. Yes.
KAFANOV: one act of kindness helping one family while so many others are left to figure out their place in this new Boise on their own.
Lucy Kafanov, CNN -- Boise, Idaho.
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WHITFIELD: All right. Still ahead, the Kentucky Derby is back. And so are all the fancy suits and colorful hats and big money bets. They come along with the iconic race. We'll go there live straight ahead.
WHITFIELD: But first an all new episode of "STANLEY TUCCI: SEARCHING FOR ITALY" airs tomorrow night. Stanley explores the delicacies and culture of Italy's Piedmont region.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STANLEY TUCCI, ACTOR: And if there is one dish that Valle d'Aosta's close neighbors are famous for, it is fondue. On this side of the mountains it is called fonduta and over here they make it a little differently.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The difference between for example Switzerland and France, they have fonduta with different cheese.
TUCCI: What do they use?
(SPEAKING IN ITALIAN)
TUCCI: Italian fontina cheese, from cows fed on sweet grass high in these mountains make the fonduta so luscious it doesn't need the white wine they add in France or Switzerland.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Yum. All right. Catch the new episode tomorrow 9:00 on CNN.