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Zelenskyy Looking to Evacuate Soldiers at Azovstal; Red Square Prepares for Victory Day Parade; British Police to Investigate Lockdown Gathering with Keir Starmer; China's Lockdowns and Mental Health; North American Soldiers Say Why They're Fighting in Ukraine. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired May 07, 2022 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Isa Soares live in Ukraine.
A glimmer of hope for a select few. Dozens of civilians trapped for months at the Azovstal steel plant are finally able to see sunlight. The Ukrainian president asking for diplomatic options to save the military there.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): I am Michael Holmes at CNN World Headquarters. I will have the day's top stories, including the search for survivors at a hotel in Havana. More than 20 people dead after a massive explosion there.
SOARES: Welcome to the show, it is 8:00 am here in Ukraine.
We begin our coverage in Mariupol and the evacuation on Friday of at least 50 civilians from that besieged steel factory. Two buses said to have carried some of the evacuees were seen arriving in a town east of Mariupol under Russian military escort. It is not known where they were taken, nor how many remain at the plant.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES (voice-over): The site has been under constant bombardment from Russian tanks, artillery and aircraft. President Zelenskyy says that he is pursuing negotiations for the safe evacuation of the 600 soldiers still inside.
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We are also working on diplomatic options to save our military who remain in Azovstal. Influential mediators are involved, including influential states.
(END VIDEO CLIP) SOARES: Monday marks victory day in Russia, commemorating the Nazi
surrender in World War II. Russia hastily putting its stamp wherever it can in Mariupol. A Russian flag flies above a city hospital. Road signs have been changed to Russian. An adviser to the mayor says Soviet-era statues are popping up around the city.
And satellite images of Mariupol's bombed theater show it's being cleared of debris. Hundreds of people were sheltering inside when it was hit by a Russian bomb, if you remember, back in March. For the latest on the dire situation in Mariupol, here is our Sara Sidner.
SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A Ukrainian soldier in shocked silence, his arm shredded and burned, his vehicle hit by a shoulder fire grenade launcher official say, another victim in the bloody battle from Mariupol.
The video, a terrible reminder for those who have relatives still fighting there. Olga (ph) has a husband and the Ukrainian army in Mariupol. Anna's (ph) brother is there as well.
It's so painful for me. People can't just be silent about the horrors happening there. They don't have days there. They are counting the minutes.
Anna says she fears for her brother who she says is deteriorating physically as he fights the Russians inside the plant. He's very skinny. He's exhausted. His eyes have black bags, she says. He's in horrible condition but that's just physically. Mentally, he's unbelievably strong. They are all so motivated to tear the Russians apart.
Russia is attacking from the ground and the sky. The devastation immeasurable, the human suffering incalculable. Under heavy fire, hundreds of civilians still stuck cowering in fear under the steel plant. This is the last Ukrainian stronghold in Mariupol.
But Russia is squeezing in on it, relentlessly bombing the place even after a promise of a ceasefire to allow those trapped civilians to escape.
SVYATOSLAV PALAMAR, DEPUTY COMMANDER, UKRAINE'S AZOV REGIMENT (through translator): Once again, the Russians violated the prominence of the truth and did not allow the evacuation of civilians who continue to hide from shelling in the basement of the plant.
SIDNER (voice-over): Friday, a third rescue attempt got underway at least a dozen civilians rescued, adding to the nearly 500 people free.
Twenty-one-year-old Nicole (ph) was able to escape -- really happy life there now devastate her. This is practically suicide. If I do, my heart shatters. I don't understand why, how at some point.
[01:05:00] SIDNER (voice-over): On the other side of the battle, a Russian soldier nonchalantly says talks are useless for a ceasefire. The war in his mind, has been ongoing for eight years since the Russians invaded and occupied Crimea. Now terror washes over another place and the bombs continue to fall -- Sara Sidner, CNN, Kyiv.
SOARES: For more on this, with us to discuss the battlefield situation is retired U.S. Army Major Mike Lyons.
Thank you for joining us. and as we have been hearing now for weeks that Russia is desperate, of course, for a grand victory ahead of the May 9th victory day, one official said a few days ago, in fact, that this could be Mariupol or what is left of it, really.
How could this play out in your view?
MAJ. MIKE LYONS, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Well, it would give Russia a victory in that it could face it eastward. Vladimir Putin tells its population from a propaganda perspective that it has gained this town. It is so important for them.
It completes the land bridge, going from Crimea to Russia through the Donbas region. That is why it is so important to them.
They are not going to take the steel factory by Monday. So that won't count. But maybe they won't put that out. They will likely try to have a parade, do what they can. Again, they will just declare victory, even though we know that that is not the case.
So in terms of those civilians still inside the steel plant and the 600 reportedly soldiers still inside, what would happen to them, Major?
Will they just leave them in there?
What is your view of how they will proceed in regard to Azovstal?
LYONS: Let's hope they stop bombing it, let's hope they just surround it and we can work out a negotiation. The easiest way for them out is through the sea. Maybe they can negotiate something that way.
Anything outside that factory and they get into Mariupol, they fall into the hands of the Russian military and there is no telling what would happen. They are supplied at seven layers deep, there's tunnel systems there. They have done a tremendous job for right now.
And let's hope that they can still hang on a few days and maybe even weeks longer before they can get out of there.
SOARES: Yes. While the diplomatic push is -- we hear from President Zelenskyy -- as he tries to fight a way out. We are also hearing about major intensity of shelling in other cities in the last week ago or so, including Odessa, particularly there.
Do you think the Russians are capable taking any of these major cities as we look to this key date?
LYONS: I am very concerned about Odessa. It is the last jewel along the coastline of the Black Sea. If they do, they landlock Ukraine and it creates a problem strategically. I think it is still a push because they don't have enough forces and they haven't secured the eastern part of the Donbas right now.
They will continue to use cruise missiles and lob artillery and try to destroy it like they have other Ukrainian cities there along that border. So I think that the Ukrainian military is sensitive to that.
The new equipment that is coming in will have some air defenses systems that will help protect Odessa but I think that that is going to be really important strategically for the Ukrainian military to hold onto.
SOARES: Let's talk about the military hardware. Major, I have been speaking to two former U.S. Marines as well as a retired Canadian sergeant, who have been on the front lines in the east.
They have been here a couple of days ago, in Lviv. They are now making their way back to the front lines. They have been telling me that, in their own experience, that the Ukrainian forces are ill-equipped and cut off from the resources.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We would have guys coming up to us --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- where are the howitzers?
Where is Biden's help, where is NATO's help?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: This is just -- this is from their unit. This is their experience.
What do you say to this, that the weaponry is not getting through to the front lines?
Because this is not the first time I am hearing all of this.
LYONS: First of all, I would want to know specifically where they were on the front lines. It is 400 miles plus from where the border is in Poland, from where the equipment has to get to logistical supply trains. The Russians have likely interdicted some of that.
But the letter weapons have gotten through, the Javelins or so, it is probably going to be more before all of that artillery makes its way through. But there is one thing that the Ukrainian military has been very good
at. That is operational security.
LYONS: Not really telling where these units are. So for whatever reason, maybe where those individuals were, there's not a priority from the Ukraine's military's perspective, because they seem to be putting it in other places, like in Kharkiv.
So I think that part of that is the secretive way the Ukrainian military is operating. And on the other side of the coin, Russian OpSec has been terrible. The intel we provided has been superb and they're on their cellphones, giving their positions away, all over the place.
So I think that that is part of it. Those individuals are really just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
SOARES: Yes. They're not too far from where we have seen those Russian forces have their base. But like you pointed out, this is their experience. One unit does not speak for the other units across the country.
We, like you hinted at, seeing President Biden announce another packet of security aid for Ukraine.
How much will this move the need on the battleground?
LYONS: Well, I think that this is really symbolic. It is going to be in line with what the Russians do on May 9 because the $20 billion that he's trying to get through Congress is really the signal to Russia and the rest of the world that strategic weapons would be coming.
Artillery weapons and ammunition would all be part of that. So what has been delivered so far is tremendous. I think the Pentagon has done a terrific job, so has the administration in keeping NATO together. You have Germany now sending howitzers and other equipment.
So this is more or less back to Russia saying, we are going to continue to support Ukraine, in light of what you are going to do on May 9th.
SOARES: And very briefly, Major, as we look to May 9th, what are the risks here for Ukraine?
What would you advise officials and generals here looking ahead to those few days?
LYONS: We saw the mayor of Kyiv talk about making sure everyone is in bunkers if they hear air raid sirens. I think that is going to be important. It's going to be important.
As they mobilize, as they bring troops, 100,000 troops into the region, does he conscript them? Does he bring them on board?
What does he do?
I think we will not know that until Monday. But it is going to be very important. Let's hope he creates some kind of victory for himself. He's in danger of losing his army. If he does not take his army off the field pretty soon, he's in danger of losing it. The Ukrainian military is destroying. It
SOARES: Retired Major Mike Lyons, always good to see you, thank you very much, Major.
And, of course, we will soon be able to see that report, with the two former Marines, in about 25 minutes here on the show.
For the first time, the U.N. Security Council has managed to get on the same page on Ukraine on Friday. The council released its first joint statement since the start of the conflict, saying that it is deeply concerned about peace and security in Ukraine and that it supports efforts by Antonio Guterres to find a peaceful solution.
The council has been unable to speak with one voice and do anything to stop the war, partly because Russia has veto power in the chamber.
I will be back a bit later. In the meantime, nearly 2 dozen people are dead of a massive explosion that has ripped through a hotel in Cuba. We have the very latest from Havana. Next.
HOLMES: At least 22 people are dead following an enormous explosion in the Cuban capital, Havana. Dozens of people, including children, have been hospitalized. Here is how one witness described the incident.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): You could see people shouting, dust rising, a disaster. It was like a horror film, really.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Officials say that a gas leak is thought to be the cause of the blast. Police and firefighters combing through what is left of the destroyed building, trying to find survivors. Cuban state television says that some people could be trapped in the basement of the nearly destroyed building.
Emmanuel Macron is just hours away from being formally inaugurated as president of France for a second term. The ceremony will take place at the Elysee Palace in Paris. President Macron will sign official documents, be recognized as a grand master of the Legion of Honour and deliver a speech.
Macron defeated far-right candidate Marine Le Pen to become the first French president in 20 years to win reelection.
The British prime minister Boris Johnson acknowledged that Conservatives had a tough night after his party lost hundreds of seats in local elections. Final votes are still being tallied. But there is no question that many British voters are not happy with the Tories. Bianca Nobilo has more.
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: It has been a bruising day for prime minister Boris Johnson as expected as results have trickled in from local council elections all across the U.K.
The prime minister lost more than 300 seats in what was considered to be the first real political test of his leadership and all the scandals that have beset his premiership, most notably Partygate.
And his loss has been in large part the gain of Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, winning over 200 seats so far. But it wasn't a unqualified success for Starmer, because it was announced today that the Durham constabulary would look at whether he breached COVID-19 rules in April 2021. This could cause political problems for Starmer.
NOBLES (voice-over): He has built many of his arguments against the prime minister based on the hypocrisy of Johnson breaking COVID-19 rules.
It's also been a historic night in Northern Ireland, where Sinn Fein is set to be the biggest party since its existence. Michelle O'Neill would take the role of first minister. Earlier I spoke to the president of Sinn Fein, Mary Lou McDonald, on whether she thought that this meant that Northern Ireland was closer than ever to unification with the Republic of Ireland.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARY LOU MCDONALD, PRESIDENT, SINN FEIN: I think in this decade we will witness constitutional change on the island of Ireland. And it is my absolute determination that that change will be entirely peaceful and highly democratic and orderly.
So we have been saying to the government in Dublin and, indeed, in London, that the preparation for constitutional change in Ireland needs to begin now. There will be no prize for anybody, irrespective of their political strife, for burying their head in the sand.
We need to be alive to the fact that change is on direct. And we also need to also be cognizant of the immense -- I mean, immense economic and social and cultural opportunities that will be afforded to us, to the island of Ireland and to us as an island nation in the coming years.
And I really want us to grasp those opportunities and for everyone who calls this island home to benefit from that change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBILO: While this is a historic night in Northern Ireland, it is also a potentially decisive one for both Johnson and Starmer. Johnson has built his political career on being a proven election winner.
So this puts him in political danger. And if Starmer can capitalize on this success and reinforce it with his party, Labour could be on track to a much better showing in the next general election -- Bianca Nobilo, CNN, London.
HOLMES: Sri Lanka's president is declaring a state of emergency following a month of anti-government strikes and protests. The latest unrest is being sparked by the apparent mishandling of the country's economic crisis.
Sri Lanka's parliament will have 14 days to approve the measure, which allows for the arrest of protesters blocking roads. The country's finance minister admits financial reserves are close to empty and has appealed to the International Monetary Fund for emergency funding.
And with those coffers empty, prices for food, fuel and other necessities are skyrocketing all across Sri Lanka.
Strict lockdowns are creating a mental crisis -- mental health crisis -- as China doubles down on its zero COVID policy. As Selina Wang reports, despair is becoming too much for many of the residents who have to live through it.
SELINA WANG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Desperate to break free, one Shanghai resident pushed to the brink.
And during the world's strictest COVID lockdown, no longer wanted to live. I do not know exactly what's sugar this man's mental anguish but many Shanghai residents saw this widely circulated video as reflection of their own despair, as they've been sealed in their homes for more than a month.
Protests have our updated, residents clashing with police, as the days drag on, hopelessness rises.
Multiple videos of bodies lie motionless face down outside of apartments have gone viral on social media. This one shows two dead bodies. Residents speculating that they jumped to their death from their windows amid desperation during lockdown.
The lockdown has sparked logistical chaos, leaving residents struggling to get food and medical care. Multiple hospitals refused to treat violinist Chen Shunping's extreme abdominal pain. His son wrote to a widely shared social media posts that his father was later found outside his building in a pool of blood. He said his father had jumped from his apartment window. He said his father left a suicide note that said, I am saying goodbye to my friends and family because I can't stand the pain.
CNN has been unable to independently verify the authenticity of the story. The hospitals have issued denials. Chen's family have not responded to multiple requests for comment.
This is China's most affluent city. Residents like marketing executive Rita Zheng who loved her social and sophisticated life in Shanghai never expected that they would be fighting for survival.
RITA ZHENG, SHANGHAI RESIDENT: I have been under eating for about a week. At the end of that week, I was just feeling very depressed. There was a fear for whether I am going to walk out of this alive.
WANG: At least 27 cities are under some for the lockdown, impacting 180 million people.
China's leaders are still doubling down on its zero COVID policy, calling it a, quote, magic weapon to keep the country's COVID death slow.
Even if the harsh measures lead to emotional scars, that haunt residents years down the line -- Selina Wang, CNN, Kunming, China.
HOLMES: And this just in: North Korea has fired at least one unidentified projectile into the waters off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula. That's according to South Korea's joint chiefs of staff. This news only just coming into us. We'll have more information as it becomes available.
I'm Michael Holmes, "AFRICAN VOICES: CHANGEMAKERS" up next for international viewers. For everyone else, I'll be back with more news after the break.
SOARES: More evacuations are planned from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, where the city's last Ukrainian defenders had been holed up for weeks. Ukrainian and Russian officials said about 50 civilians were rescued on Friday. President Zelenskyy is working on getting more soldiers out. This is satellite images showing Russia excavating the Mariupol
theater bombed in March. Russia has denied responsibility.
As Ukraine copes with devastating loss and destruction, the Kremlins is planning to showcase its military power in a parade. CNN's Matthew Chance has more on the preparations.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nighttime on the cobbles of Red Square and Russia's military is plotting its next steps. This is a rehearsal for the annual Victory Day parade every May 9th commemorating the Soviet defeat of Nazi Germany. It's also a dramatic stage for the Kremlin to showcase its military power and to celebrate it.
"I'm looking forward to its grand scale," says this Moscow (INAUDIBLE). "We will show the power and strength of our country," he says, though, who really needs a reminder.
These are the latest brutal images from Ukraine, where Russia is continuing what it calls it special military operation. The Kremlin says this is also a fight against Nazis.
And even though Ukraine has a Jewish president, it's been drilled into Russians that their country's soldiers are yet again, battling fascists. It's a comparison dismissed in the West but which many Russians seem prepared to accept.
"Every year I go to these rehearsals," says this man, who gives his name as Misha (ph). "But I think this year it's more special because of the special military operation happening in Ukraine," he says. "Today I waved the flag to support our army. But I hope it will end soon," he adds. A hint of awareness perhaps, that the horrific cost.
This is what Victory Day is meant to mark: the Soviet Union's role in the Allied victory in the Second World War. Russia sustained millions of casualties, paying an enormous sacrifice.
But the power of a military parade to bolster national pride has never been lost on the Kremlin's leaders, instable President Putin, whose Victory Day parades have the years heralded Russia's resurgence as a military power.
This speculation this year's parade will form the backdrop for a major announcement on Ukraine. Victory Day still marks Russia's triumphant past. What the Kremlin really wants is to celebrate that elusive victory in the present -- Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.
SOARES: Fascinating piece. Tune in on Monday for our live coverage. The parade is expected to get underway at 10:00 am. I will be here with the latest on that day.
Even though governments around the world warned their citizens against traveling to Ukraine to fight, some foreign nationals decided to go anyway.
I spoke with former two U.S. Marines and a Canadian man who explained their decision and described the challenges they have faced.
SOARES (voice-over): For weeks now, these volunteer fighters, have been defending a country that is not theirs.
"DOC," VOLUNTEER FIGHTER IN UKRAINE: I saw, on the news, just like everybody else, the atrocities that the Russians were committing. That's the reason why I came.
SOARES (voice-over): The two Americans and the Canadian, who prefer we identify them, by their nicknames, tell me that, from their experiences, with one particular unit, the Ukrainian forces, they have been fighting alongside, on the front lines, are ill-equipped and cut- off from resources.
"RAT," VOLUNTEER FIGHTER IN UKRAINE: Specifically, NATO munitions, in terms of anti-tank weapons, as well as artillery, like Howitzers --
SOARES: So heavy air?
RAT: -- or tanks or --
RAT: -- even like MRAP-type vehicle, anything like that?
It's nowhere on the front.
SOARES (voice-over): "Doc," "Rat," and "Shadow (ph)," say they have fought, near Kyiv and in the east, in the Kharkiv region, where Russian troops has strengthened their presence.
RAT: So they would push here, send troops, massive column, on the main road, push them here.
SOARES (voice-over): This video, filmed by them, shows the challenging terrain.
RAT: It's just fields, as far as the eye can see, with nothing but open ground and next-to-zero concealment.
SOARES (voice-over): A battleground without the right equipment can be deadly. The former Canadian Armed Forces Sergeant tells me?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a miracle, it's a straight-up miracle that we are still alive.
DOC: You basically have to be a tank or artillery or a aircraft, right now, to fight, in the eastern front. SOARES (voice-over): So far, the U.S. has approved more than $3 billion, in military assistance, to Ukraine, including thousands of Javelin, Stinger, missiles and other critical weapons. Equipment that these former U.S. Marines say they haven't seen.
DOC: The stuff from these packages need to get to the front.
DOC: They do.
SOARES (voice-over): So much so they are being teased about it.
RAT: We will have guys, coming up to us, with Google Translate.
RAT: "Where are the Howitzers?"
RAT: "Where is Biden's help?"
RAT: Or "Where is NATO's help?"
SOARES (voice-over): Last month, the Pentagon said military gear and equipment was getting to Ukraine, between 24 hours and 48 hours, after it was shipped. But the U.S. was transferring it, to Ukrainian hands and not dictating how fast they get it, to the front line or what unit gets them.
These fighters had just one glimpse, of one front line. But they're not alone, in thinking that Ukraine's Military remains desperately outgunned.
RAT: Both parts. It's one side has nothing and it's doing everything they can. And then, the other side has everything. And they're too afraid to do anything with that.
SOARES (voice-over): Despite the challenges of the battlefield, "Doc," and "Rat," are returning to the front line, moved by Ukraine's fighting spirit.
DOC: The Ukrainians are giving it their all. And they're doing it every single day, every single minute, every single hour.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are not part of NATO, so --
SOARES (voice-over): "Shadow (ph)," meanwhile, staying away from the front lines, in Lviv, after learning he's going to be a father.
Camaraderie and a common cause, as they fight for freedom, in a foreign land.
SOARES: And CNN reached out to Ukraine's defense ministry for comments on the plans you heard there. The military aid is not reaching the front lines in northern Ukraine. On why, we have yet to receive a response.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the U.S. weapons being provided are being put to very good use.
Coming up, a major development in the manhunt for an Alabama innate.
Plus the U.S. Supreme Court appears on the verge of ending national abortion rights.
How do most Americans feel about that?
You are watching CNN NEWSROOM.
HOLMES: Welcome back.
We are learning more information on the manhunt for an Alabama inmate and corrections officer, who went missing over a week ago. The U.S. Marshals Service say they believe they found the getaway car used by Vicky White. CNN's Ryan Young with the latest.
RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A lot of information in the fugitive manhunt for the two missing people, Vicky White and Casey White. On day eight, police hope to be able to focus on the new information they've learned.
They found the Ford they've been looking for. It is the orange vehicle they put out all across the country hoping someone will turn that car in and that will lead to the two people. Now what we know from the sheriff's department and the Marshals Service is someone found that car last Friday.
It was abandoned in the middle of the street in Tennessee about two hours away from the Alabama location they took off from. What we know how from the two truck driver is that car broke down and he had to tow it somewhere.
He noticed it on TV and told the sheriff's department in Tennessee, who told the department here in Alabama. They are still tracking these two. Listen to the Marshals Service talk about the manhunt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHAD HUNT, COMMANDER, U.S. MARSHALS GULF COAST FUGITIVE TASK FORCE: So now what we are doing in addition to canvassing the area, doing some interviews and looking at all those tips that were specific maybe to that area. That really invigorates the investigation for us. And it gives us a trajectory to carry on this investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YOUNG: With the Marshals Service and the sheriff's department, all these phone calls, because of the media coverage, really helped them getting more tips in.
YOUNG: We know because of the pictures released, you can see the tattoos on Casey White. He has a Confederate flag on his back, two eyeballs on the back of his head.
When you talk about Vicky White, apparently she has a waddling gait when she walks and they've released pictures of what she might look like if she had brown hair. All that, they say, they're hoping the public will look at this video and pictures and if they see someone like this, they can make that phone call to get more information in.
This continues to be an active manhunt with all parts of the country looking for these two -- Ryan Young, Lauderdale County, Alabama.
HOLMES: Both anger and support have erupted over the U.S. Supreme Court's likely plans to end federal abortion rights.
So how do the majority feels about it?
It turns out most are against it.
Following the leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion, 66 percent of Americans say Roe v. Wade should not be struck down. The 1973 decision has provided constitutional protections for those seeking an abortion for nearly half a century.
Meanwhile the Republican governor of Texas wants the Supreme Court to overturn another decision, one that ensured undocumented children had a right to public education in the U.S. Greg Abbott says times have changed since that ruling. CNN's Paula Reid with that.
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision can be overturned, what about other long standing precedents?
Conservatives now see an opening after the leak of a draft Supreme Court decision. Texas Governor Greg Abbott now signaling he may challenge a 1982 ruling that granted undocumented children access to public schools. GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): Plyler is a 40-year-old decision that dealt with immigration in the state of Texas that was extremely different then than it is now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today's Supreme Court decision is historic.
REID (voice-over): Plyler v. Doe was a Supreme Court case that focused on a 1975 Texas law prohibiting the use of state funds for the education of undocumented children and authorizing local school districts to deny those children enrollment.
In 1982, the High Court ruled that the law violated the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause and that migrant children should be allowed to enroll in public schools regardless of their citizenship status. In its opinion, the court wrote, "Education has a fundamental role in maintaining the fabric of our society and provides the basic tools by which individuals might lead economically productive lives to the benefit of us all."
But Abbott, a Republican running for a third term in November, now wants to revisit the issue.
ABBOTT: When the Plyler decision came out, the immigration that we were seeing in the state of Texas was primarily from Mexico. And the only language barrier and issue was Spanish. Now we have people coming from more than 105 different countries across the globe.
REID (voice-over): He says his state should not have to pay to educate migrant children.
ABBOTT: Listen, we are dealing with billions more a year just in educational expenses.
REID (voice-over): The White House already rebuking the idea of Abbott's potential challenge.
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, that's ultra MAGA, denying public education to kids, including immigrants to this country. I mean, that is not the main -- a mainstream point of view.
REID (voice-over): And this is just one of the rights established by the high court that could be challenged if Roe is overturned.
CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: What it reveals is that at least Justice Alito and the justices who are going to sign on to the final version of that opinion, are willing to take a clean break from long established precedent of the Supreme Court. And so what that does is then opens up the door, I think, potentially for a range of other challenges where this new conservative majority in the Supreme Court will simply say, we're not going to follow precedent, because we think that prior case was wrongly decided.
REID: Since the 1982 Plyler decision, little has changed in the legal landscape concerning the educational rights of undocumented children and attempts to chip away at the decision had been unsuccessful. But one thing that has changed in just the past few years is, of course, the composition of the high court.
That's why all eyes continue to be on the justices' big abortion decision expected late next month -- Paula Reid, CNN, Washington.
HOLMES: In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control is investigating more than 100 cases of severe, unexplained hepatitis in children. Authorities say the cases appear to be rare and they have not seen an increase in liver inflammation of children coming in to ERs.
HOLMES: They say the cases appear to be linked to an adenovirus that isn't known to cause hepatitis in otherwise healthy children.
The CDC is considering a range of possible causes, including exposure to animals.
Storms threatening parts of the U.S. this weekend, some of the dangers the system is bringing to the Southeast. That's coming up when we come back.
HOLMES: More than 130,000 customers across five southern U.S. states are without power. That's according to poweroutage.us. Millions in the Southeast and mid-Atlantic are under some level of threat this weekend from severe storms and tornadoes. Damaging winds and large hail will accompany the strongest of the storms.
HOLMES: The U.S. is being hit by what they are saying is the worst storm spring season in years.
Meanwhile, at least 37 active fires are burning in Florida, the state's forest service saying the wildfires have scorched over 22,000 acres. Most of them are at least contained but the three largest blazes are in the Everglades. There's no reports of injuries or burning structures at this stage.
A federal judge dismissing Donald Trump's lawsuit against Twitter. The former president trying to reinstate his banned account from the social media platform, according to court filings.
The judge said that Twitter was not acting as an agent of the U.S. government when it shut down the account, as Trump alleged, and therefore was not infringing on his rights on free speech.
Thanks for spending part of your day with me. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram, I will have more news in a moment.