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World War II Veterans in Ukraine Fear They May See Another World War; U.S. Hits Russia With Slate of New Sanctions After G7 Meeting; Three Americans Died of Unknown Causes at Sandals Resort in the Bahamas. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired May 09, 2022 - 10:30   ET




ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Before we know it, here we are talking to you about what happens, right? It's this fascinating role reversal almost the way you lay it out. Inmates have said Vicky White would do small things for Casey White. Maybe it was a little bit of extra food or some other items.

How does it escalate though and, I mean, is there a typical playbook to going from just a little bit of extra food, maybe a little extra attention to now being on the run?

DE JESUS-ZAYAS: Well, in this particular case, this is unusual. This is an unusual case. Because, most of the time, the staff member, once they feel or recognize that they have been compromised, they will acquiesce to the demands, but begrudgingly. I mean, look at Joyce Mitchell in New York. At the very last minute, she backed down.

And that's usually what happens on staff members who are compromised, they feel bad about it, particularly when it's the safety of the institution at play. And in this case, Ms. White took a very active role and that is very unusual, extremely unusual.

And, again, I would just say it's a matter of fantasies, what fantasy is she playing out and what role is she playing in this fantasy.

HILL: Well, listen, it will be interesting to see too if more clues pop up in the coming days. I believe it's 11 days now since they disappeared.

Selma De Jesus-Zayas, I appreciate your insight this morning. Thanks again for joining us.

And just a note too ahead here on CNN, the sheriff of Lauderdale County will join CNN live in the next hour, so be sure to stay with us for that.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: A new CNN poll shows that 80 percent of Americans think the government could be doing more to fight inflation. We're going to speak about the state of the economy as well as other issues, including Ukraine, with Republican Don Bacon, that's coming up.



SCIUTTO: The painful realities Ukrainians are seeing day in and day out are producing some painful flashbacks for some.

HILL: Veterans of World War II who never thought they would live to see something like this again now fear it could get even worse.

CNN's Sara Sidner is live in Kyiv with that story.


SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Vasyl Kluy helped battle back the German advance in World War II when Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union. His proudest moments, helping liberate Mariupol by sea.

We liberated Mariupol from the Germans in 1943. We went with three warships and wrecked 11 different German ships, he says.

77 years after Victory Day, he has mixed feelings about Russia. It pains him to say it but the country he once fought for has turned into the enemy, leveling the very same city he fought so hard to save from Hitler's onslaught.

For all of us who went through the war at the time, it hurts. I want to take up arms now and go to defend the same places and my country, he says.

His wife cannot contain herself as she listens to him and lashes out at the man she sees as responsible for the new war, Vladimir Putin.

There shouldn't be anything like him on Earth, she says. He kills, destroys our cities and villages. He destroys our defenseless people.

On the anniversary of Victory Day, there are no celebrations here, only mementos and memories. It's no longer a holiday. It's very difficult, he says. There aren't many of us left.

But Metodiy Volynets is still here. The 96-year-old World War II veteran doesn't have to remember the terror of war. He's been given fresh memories. Russian tanks blasted a hole in the front of his home in the tree line suburb of Warsaw (ph). He fought as a Soviet against the Germans but has never had any love for the Soviets after he says he was jailed for speaking up against them.

I was awarded medals and orders for victory, but I did not recognize them and never wore them, he says. He says Putin's Russia has started a war it cannot win. It's an atrocity. It's vandalism, he says. Probably the leadership is stupid. Only idiots would do this, start a war against Ukraine. Both men say they have the will to fight again if not with their bodies then with their words. Why am I smiling? Because I believe that we will rebuild this house and that Ukraine will win.


SIDNER (on camera): Both of these veterans said that they hope that the rest of the world is watching and will do more to help Ukraine be victorious. Jim, Erica?

SCIUTTO: Sara Sidner in Kyiv, thanks so much.

Well, the White House has announced a slew of new sanction sanctions against Russia after President Biden and other G7 leaders met virtually with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, also, of course, $33 billion in new military aid on the table.

Joining me now to discuss, Republican Congressman Don Bacon of Nebraska, he is a retired brigadier general, sits on the Armed Services Committee. Congressman, good to have you on back on the show.

REP. DON BACON (R-NE): Hi, Jim, it's always nice to be on with you.

SCIUTTO: So, you have argued that President Biden has not been bold enough yet in U.S. support for Ukraine.


As you know, there's now $33 billion in new aid on the table proposed by this administration, both military and humanitarian, many multiples of what we saw, right, certainly in the Trump administration. What specifically do you believe the Biden administration is not doing to help Ukraine defend itself?

BACON: Well, Jim, I would say that $33 billion changes that toll that I gave you before. Leading up to that, though, it's always been a little late, probably not the right quality of weapons, but I think we're there now. So, I think my critique goes back to December until about now. And I would agree the president is being bold with that $33 billion now.

Some of the areas I thought we could have been quicker on, long-range air defense capabilities, anti-shipping capabilities, which we're starting to see, also the ability to hit tanks but behind the lines, which we're now seeing as well.

So, to get to your point, I thought we could have done more in the months past but I think we're in the right spot now. And so if you don't stand up to the bully now, you'll have to stand up to the bully later in Poland or the Baltics. And I think Ukraine is doing a hell of a fight but they need our help weapons-wise to do it. But they are beating the Russians with our weapons. And if we don't beat the Russians here, we're going to have to serve down now to Poland or the Baltics.

So, that's been my view. I think we have the policy about right now. SCIUTTO: Opinions change, a rare quality in Washington to admit that one when it happens.

I do want to ask you, when you hear Putin today, for instance, at the victory day speech and other Russian officials begin to describe this as a war not just in Ukraine but against NATO, are you concerned about an expansion beyond the borders of Ukraine in this conflict?

BACON: Well, he's trying to bully NATO and America by threatening nuclear weapons, trying to enlarge the war. He's losing. And he's a cornered rat right now in Ukraine because he's losing. And he doesn't know how to bail himself out.

But the fact is we just have to be honest. This is an unprovoked, unjust attack. It's war crimes. Over 100,000 innocent Ukrainians have been murdered by this guy. We can't back down to this -- I don't think we should have U.S. troops in Ukraine or U.S. Air Force or NATO but we're doing the right thing by helping Ukraine defend itself and Putin is losing. So, he is trying to threaten to have his way.

But if we back down here, he will threaten us again. He will bully us again. So, we have got to stand up to him. But we don't want nuclear war but he's threatening that. And I do worry about his mental capacity and his emotional stability here. It should be a concern. But backing down just feeds the animal.

SCIUTTO: Yes. A CIA director expressed similar concerns this weekend.

Back to the domestic issue here, inflation number one in the minds of Republican and Democratic voters. As I cited earlier, 80 percent of Americans think not enough is being done here. I do want to ask you, though, if Republicans win back control of Congress in the fall, and, of course, you are up for reelection yourself here, what specific steps would you take to lower inflation?

As you know, a lot of the pressures here, right, are coming outside of the country. They are difficult for an administration to, by itself, change that dynamic. So, what specific steps would a Republican Congress take?

BACON: Well, there's no doubt that some of the outside pressures have exacerbated, inflation, but it wasn't the root cause of inflation. When you look back in March of 2021, Larry Summers, who was the treasury secretary for President Clinton, also the chief economic adviser for President Obama, so, if we pass that $1.9 trillion so- called COVID bill of what's only 9 percent went to COVID, that it would trigger inflation.

And so what we did is we added 10 percent to the liquidity of our national economy. If you add 10 percent more money, by definition, it's going to lower the value of the U.S. dollar by about 10 percent. And today, we're at 8.5 percent inflation.

Larry Summers was right and so was other Democratic economists who warned us, that if we did that bill, that we were going to have this inflation. So, the root cause to the inflation has been excess spending with no offsets. Now granted the supply chain has exacerbated it and also the energy has exacerbated it.

But here, again, the president, when he campaigned, he said he was going to declare war essentially against the American fossil fuel industry. He went from a net exporter to now a net importer. He has had an impact, a negative impact, on our fuel crisis as well. He's doing the right things now by trying to expand leases, he's talking about nuclear power, he's approved some permits, the natural gas industry, that should have been done a year ago, in my view.

So, to answer your question, Jim, directly, we have to cut this reckless spending and we do need to expand Americans' energy production.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you about abortion.


You said that laws of abortion should be made at the state level. As you know, if the Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v. Wade, there are about 25, 26 states who might very well ban it. Do you believe that if Republicans support a been on abortion, they must also support the child and mother after birth? For instance, Mitt Romney has unveiled a proposal, Family Security Act, $350 monthly payment for each child under six, $250 for school-aged children. Do you believe that that support for an abortion ban must be coupled by Republicans with then support to follow for mother and child?

BACON: Well, first, I appreciate your acknowledging that if Roe v. Wade is overturned, it does leave it to the states and it doesn't automatically restrict abortion. Each state gets to make that decision. Voters are going to have a say now through their elected state officials.

And I for one have always been a proponent for looking at how to take care of the welfare of our children. I was a foster parent who adopted -- I'm in charge of the Foster Care Caucus in Congress with the Republicans. I want to protect and take care of our children who are born. I want to make sure they have good education, that we have the right nutrition and things like that. Ultimately, it takes strong families to raise our kids.

But to answer your question, yes, we should couple this with programs that encourage adoption, help take care of kids and raise them more on poverty, good schools, good nutrition, so I would agree with that.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you about politics, because, of course, there's a primary tomorrow. One of the key questions in this race is the race for governor. You have Charles Herbster endorsed by the former president, but accused of groping multiple women, who do you support in the Nebraska governor's race? BACON: I've stayed quiet on who I am voting for. In fact, I was a bit

undecided until this past week. I was leaning towards one candidate. But our team, Jim, I'm a in a district that favors Republicans by 1 percent. It's one of the most purple districts in the country. Our supporters are pretty well-divided between Herbster, Pillen supporters, and we also have Lindstrom and Theresa Thibodeau supporters.

So, I want to keep our team together and I want support our nominee, whoever that may be. And so that's where I've been on that. It's been a spirited race. I don't really -- I think the negative messaging has had a bad impact on it. But hopefully it could unify when we come out of it.

SCIUTTO: So, let's look ahead to 2024. Mitt Romney has said that, if he wants it, Trump is going to be the Republican nominee in 2024. You stood up to Trump. You voted to certify the 2020 election. You've contradicted his claims of a stolen election in 2020, recognized Biden as the president. Trump has paid you back by calling you a bad guy. Would you support Trump if he's the Republican nominee in 2024?

BACON: Well, we'll cross that bridge when we get there if he happens to be the nominee. But in our district, he lost our district by about 7.5 percent and I won our district by about 5 percent, about 4.6 percent, to be precise.

And I think my takeaway is people support most of President Trump's policies. It was more the temperament and the name calling and that hurt us in the suburban areas. And so we need conservative policies work and that's what we should be focused on. And, frankly, we should be more focused on 2022 to ensure that we have a check and balance in the House right now.

So, I put my emphasis on trying to win back to the house, win back the senate. I think it will force Joe Biden to come more to the middle, and he has not done that really. When he won the Georgia seats, he really went with the farther left policy.

I think we have in a government and we're going to have more consensus and middle of the road policies. So, my emphasis is really on 2022. We'll cross that bridge on 2024 when we get there.

SCIUTTO: Congressman Don Bacon, thanks so much coming back on the show.

BACON: Thank you.

HILL: Up next, new details on what caused the deaths of three Americans at a popular Sandals Resort in the Bahamas.



SCIUTTO: Police are now investigating the mysterious deaths of three Americans at a hotel in the Bahamas.

HILL: It happened at the Sandals Emerald Bay Resort on Great Exuma. A fourth person, a woman, we've learned, is now hospitalized in Miami after being transferred from a Bahamian hospital.

CNN's Polo Sandoval has been following this for us. So, what more do we know about these deaths, Polo? POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jim and Erica, this story is not just puzzling, it's also heartbreaking. According to authorities, they are telling that these were two American couples that were on vacation on Great Exuma Isle. And now three people are dead and that fourth person, that woman who is currently recovering in a hospital in Miami.

The way this all played out, it was early Friday morning when the staff at that resort, at the Sandals Resort on Great Exuma Island, called authorities after an unconscious man was found in one of their villas. That woman that is currently in the hospital also in the villa, however, that gentleman was pronounced dead at the scene.

At another nearby villa, that's when they found the other couple, sadly, they also were pronounced dead at the scene. But this her is one of the key pieces of evidence, or at least a key clue for investigators. According to them, that second couple had reported feeling nauseous, some vomiting, even to the extent that they turned to a local clinic for treatment, they were treated and then allowed to return back to their accommodations the day before they were located.


So, that's going to be one of the key pieces of evidence here.

So far, they have ruled out any kind of evidence, any possibility of foul play since there were no obvious signs of trauma, but authorities today are expecting to release the identities of these three Americans, and then also, hopefully, when that autopsy will happen, it will provide more clues.

HILL: Yes, maybe answers to so many questions. Polo, I appreciate it, thank you.

SCIUTTO: And thanks so much to all of you for joining us today, a busy news day. I'm Jim Sciutto.

HILL: And Erica Hill.

Stay tuned. Our colleague, Bianna Golodryga, picks up our coverage after this quick break.