Return to Transcripts main page
Missiles Hit Hotels and Mall in Odessa; Biden Says Leaks Must Stop; Vicky White Mastermind Behind Jail Break; Lenny DePaul is Interviewed about the Alabama Case; Luliia Mendel is Interviewed about Ukraine. Aired 9-9:30a ET
Aired May 10, 2022 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Good Tuesday morning. I'm Erica Hill.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Jim Sciutto.
Overnight, at least one person has died, several others injured after Russian forces bombed the southern port city of Odessa. It's been a big target in recent days. Officials say several buildings on fire after hypersonic missiles, super-fast missiles, hit a shopping mall and two hotels in the area. Often civilian targets.
Plus, just devastating images coming out of Kharkiv, in the northeast. Car seats and strollers litter the highway after Russian troops attacked a civilian evacuation convoy. Again, civilians as targets there. Officials say a 13-year-old girl was among several whom the Russian forces killed in that attack. We will have much more from Ukraine in just a moment.
HILL: We are also following the dramatic deadly end to this 11-day manhunt. Escaped Alabama inmate Casey White is in custody this morning. Former Corrections Officer Vicky White is dead after a police chase ended in a crash in Indiana. Officials say Vicky White died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Casey White is now facing extradition to Alabama for arraignment. We're gong to get you an update just ahead.
We do begin, though, this morning, in Ukraine. CNN international correspondent Scott McLean reporting from Lviv.
Scott, you know, Odessa has been a big target in recent days. I've heard from folks there about the danger they're facing. What do we know about the latest attack?
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The locations here, Jim, are all over the map. And it is really hard to understand what any of the strategic values of any of these places might actually be.
So, there was a series of warehouses that were hit by one missile, potentially. That's some kind of a strategic target. But others are really truly a mystery.
Seven missiles, according to the Ukrainians, hit a shopping mall. One of the biggest shopping malls in southern Ukraine. It's in the northern part of Odessa. This is a place where it looks like any other American mall. It's got tons of international brands. They were actually set to spend tens of millions of dollars expanding that mall. And so it's not really clear what the value was there. One person was killed. But it's remarkable that there weren't more. The reason being is that it was actually closed at the time because of a government imposed curfew that started on Sunday night and only lifted this morning.
They were also two hotels hit. One of them was a seaside hotel, right on the beach in southern Odessa, and it was owned by -- still is owned by a pro-Russian businessman and was often frequented by some of Russia's elites.
There is another hotel, a second one. This was in a village south of Odessa, outside the city, and it's in a little village there that is very close to a bridge that's been struck a lot recently, Jim. This is the only bridge, only rail or road connection between the far southwest part of Ukraine and the rest of the country. So it's not really clear whether that hotels was, in fact, the intended target or if it was something else.
Here's what the mayor of Odessa had to say about the -- this most recent round of strikes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR GENNADIY TRUKHANOV, ODESSA, UKRAINE (through translator): Regular peace process was taking place. The curfew introduced saved us all. Some people ask, why do we need these excessive measures of precaution? We can see now that they are not excessive. Many said there is no way they would dare to attack a hero city on the 9th of May. They dared to attack and they did conduct a sneaky and deadly attack on the 9th of May.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCLEAN: And for that curfew, obviously, likely saving a lot of lives, specially at that shopping mall there and these hotels perhaps as well, Jim.
One other thing to point out, and that is what's getting a little bit of attention from the Ukrainians is the fact that they say that three of these missiles that were fired were kinzle (ph) missiles. These are significant because it's only the second time that they've actually been used during this conflict. These are -- they have a longer range than a normal missile. They can be fired from planes. You can -- they're harder for missile defense to detect and they have a way bigger payload as well, so they can do a lot more damage, Jim.
SCIUTTO: Some of the most advanced missiles in the world to target a shopping mall. I mean this is the incredible detail of the way this war is being fought there. Civilians as targets.
Scott McLean, thanks so much. Right now, at least 100 civilians remain trapped in the Azovstal steel
plant in Mariupol. Overnight, Russia struck the area again with heavy artillery. Ukraine say the plant was shelled by Russian forces all day. Officials say Russia's attempts to storm the facility, however, have failed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Can I say that I will shoot the knees of those who spread information that I am gone. People, we are at war. I will outlive you all. Mariupol, we are fighting here. People, do recompose yourselves. How do you like Azovstal? The only thing that I can say is that Azovstal is holding on to the Russians. While they are here, we are fighting to the last.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Over the weekend, Ukraine said that all women, children and elderly people had been evacuated from Azovstal, and that most of the remaining civilians are thought to be men. The deputy commander there says several people are badly wounded, need to be evacuated immediately. Remember, they've been taking refuge there for weeks now from this Russian assault.
HILL: Well, CNN has learned that President Biden recently told his top national security officials in terms of the leaks about U.S. intelligence sharing with Ukrainians, those leaks need to stop.
Let's bring in now Shawn Turner, former director of communication for U.S. National Intelligence.
So, Shawn, there's been a lot of pushback, as we know. The White House knowing the president believes the leaks have not been helpful and have even overstated America's role while underplaying the role that Ukraine played in using that intelligence. Ukrainian leadership as well.
When you look at all these recent headline, Biden's direct messaging to top officials, do you expect those leaks on intel sharing to stop?
SHAWN TURNER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS, U.S. NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Well, I think the president has sent a clear message to the intelligence officials, and intelligence officials tend to listen to the president in this regard.
Look, you know, Erica, you know, officials have not denied the fact that the United States is sharing intelligence with the Ukrainian government. We've been doing that since the start of this conflict. In fact, some officials have acknowledged publicly that we're sharing intelligence. And as I talked to people over the past 24 hours, I didn't get any pushback on the idea that early on in this conflict that was designed to send a message to Putin. But I think that the president's concern is really related to the specificity of the intelligence being shared. You know, look, since the start of this conflict, the United States
has been very concerned about giving the appearance that we are active participants in this war, and that's the reason why we are not putting troops on the ground and why we don't have airplanes in the sky over -- skies over Ukraine. But intelligence is a powerful tool, just like those other tools. And so the president's concerned that if people don't understand those tools, and if people are talking about very specific intelligence that we're sharing, that they may misunderstand, they may misinterpret that, and it may give the appearance the United States is more involved than we actually are.
SCIUTTO: But, Shawn, what's been interesting about this conflict from the beginning is that the Biden administration deliberately shared what would normally be classified intelligence assessments of Russian military intentions, its military power. We saw that in the leadup to the invasion. But also, since then, you know, deliberately revealing what U.S. intel knew about Russian plans since, for instance, for disinformation. I mean it's -- there's a little bit of a pick and choose here, right, as to what kind of intel you want out and what kind of intel you don't want out, correct?
TURNER: Yes. Yes, and, unfortunately, Jim, that's exactly right. I mean -- and, look, you know, I've said to intelligence officials that I've been -- I was -- I was surprised at the level of intelligence sharing -- of public acknowledgement of intelligence sharing that the intelligence community engaged in early on in this conflict. But as I said at the outset, it was -- it -- there was some deliberate effort there to send a message to Putin that we're watching, and to be very clear that he was not going to be able to communicate with his commanders, and to communicate with other leaders in the Russian government without the United States keeping it -- you know, keeping an eye on him.
But in -- since the beginning, the idea has been to share information up to a point. So when we're talking about operational level intelligence and tactical level intelligence, the president is concerned because that's a bridge too far. So the idea here was general intelligence, are we watching? Yes. Are we sharing intelligence? Yes. But we -- when we get into the very specific sort of battlefield intelligence, that -- that is -- makes the intelligence community, and makes the president, to be quite honest, very uncomfortable.
HILL: Shawn Turner, great to have you with us this morning. Thank you.
HILL: We want to share with you some video just in to CNN. It's of a woman being rescued from the rubble of a Russian attack in Donetsk. You will see paramedics carrying her out of a basement using a blanket. I want to warn you, the video is tough to watch.
HILL: So, as you see there, they were eventually able to get her on to a stretcher, loaded into that ambulance to be evacuated.
Just ahead, the dramatic ending to an 11-day manhunt for an accused murderer and the corrections officer who broke him out of jail. What he is now saying after that corrections officer died from a self- inflicted gunshot wound.
Plus, President Biden set to speak today about what steps he can take to curb rising inflation. The real question, of course, will it have an impact?
SCIUTTO: Later, nearly a third of baby formula brands are now out of stock. Some patients getting desperate. What the FDA is doing to fix the supply problems after a major recall.
HILL: This morning, investigators say a former Alabama corrections officer basically masterminded the jail break that ended last night with her death and the capture of the inmate she helped escape. It was a dramatic ending to that 11-day manhunt. Casey White and Vicky White, again, no relation for these two, were found in Evansville, Indiana. Their car crashed following a police pursue.
SCIUTTO: Officers say that Vicky White then shot herself in the car, later died from that wound. Casey White, on the right, is now back behind bars.
CNN's Miguel Marquez is live in Evansville.
Miguel, the Lauderdale County sheriff tells CNN special arrangements have already been made for Casey White -- for when Casey White will be brought back. What do we know and what does he face next?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he faces a different place to be held and certainly a greater degree of watchfulness from officials there if and when he gets back, because there's a lot of steps now that have to take place here in Evansville.
Look, this thing ended in -- I mean you said dramatic and it truly is. Vicky White, in that final chase, when they finally caught on to them here in Evansville, she actually called 911 herself, says the sheriff here, and told them that she had a gun, that she had it to her head. And before sheriffs were able to disable their car, they actually hit the car. It was -- it was on a -- in a grassy area. They pushed it over on its side into a -- into a ditch. She had pulled the trigger and killed herself, they believe. They're not entirely sure that that's the entire story.
Casey White was taken to the hospital, then he was booked into the sheriff's office here overnight.
Now the question is whether or not he had anything to do with her death. If he did, says the sheriff here, there is an autopsy going on with regard to Vicky White right now. If he did have anything to do with her death, then he may be charged here. If not, then it may -- he may just face an extradition hearing, and then head over back to Alabama at some point.
But, look, all of this started and was very, very well-rehearsed by both individuals, it seems. Vicky White, prior to breaking him out of jail, you know, sold her house at a great loss, bought cars, bought men's clothing, went to an adult toy store, all of that before. And then on the 29th of April, that's when she took him out of the -- of the correctional facility that he was in. Her car, that correction cars was found in Tennessee on the 6th of May. And then a second car, an SUV that was -- that was known to be hers was found and then there were two cars here, a Ford that they spotted them in and they finally were captured in a Cadillac as they tried to escape.
We hope to hear more shortly from the sheriff here in Evansville.
Back to you guys.
HILL: Miguel Marquez with the latest for us on the ground there. Miguel, thank you.
Also here now, Lenny DePaul, former commander for the U.S. Marshals Service Regional Fugitive Task Force for New York and New Jersey.
Good to have you with us.
You know, we're hearing that they believe that Vicky White was the mastermind here. Something that also stood out to me is, just a short time ago, the Vandabert (ph) County sheriff told Miguel, my colleague there, that Casey White was pretty candid with investigators and cooperative. What does that tell you? What can we read into that, if anything?
LENNY DEPAUL, FORMER COMMANDER, U.S. MARSHALS SERVICE REGIONAL FUGITIVE TASK FORCE FOR NY & NJ: Well, I mean, that's expected. And good morning, Erica.
You know, the U.S. Marshals, you know, being the premiere agency in the Department of Justice in the manhunting world, they did a great job with this, with the sheriff's department. And when that car chase ended, what I found was a little strange when he exited that vehicle, he threw his hands up and he said, I did not shoot my wife. She killed herself. I didn't -- that had me scratching my head when he made that statement. So what that tells me is, you know, he may be covering something up. Not sure. But they're going to get to the bottom of that.
HILL: So, as they continue with that part of the investigation, based on what you have seen here, do you believe they had help along the way?
DEPAUL: I don't think so. I think she tried to orchestrate this. We all know she set the table months ago by selling her house for, I think, $90,000. She purchased that car for cash two days before, you know, they jumped. And, you know, and also the Ford that was in play. But what's important is the U.S. Marshals, you know, they put out the
appropriate intel. They had their pictures plastered all over the place thanks to you guys.
I mean social media was fired up. Very difficult to hide in plain sight. But those tattoos were very recognizable. And that fellow that was in the car wash, you know, he saw something a little strange. He took it a step further. He looked at some video. He identified Casey White. And then he did the right thing and made the phone call. So when the marshals got that, you know, they canvassed the area. They knew that she had -- he had jumped into an older Cadillac. Canvassed the area. Found the car at a hotel. Set up surveillance. And she was coming in and out with a wig on and then finally they saw him. And then we all know how it ended. So.
HILL: How does her death complicate this investigation, if at all?
DEPAUL: Well, it just -- it's just another -- it doesn't complicate the investigation. I mean he's already doing a life sentence. He's looking at -- he's looking at a death penalty with another homicide that was possibly committed by him if, in fact, he was involved with, you know, the death of Vicky. It's just another, you know, just another case for him to -- that he needs to deal with.
But as far as the fugitive investigation goes and how that went, it was done by the numbers and the U.S. Marshals, sheriff's department, they certainly -- I give them all a salute. They did a great job.
HILL: Lenny DePaul, good to have you here this morning. Thank you.
SCIUTTO: New drone video shows a Ukrainian assault from the air on a Russian tank. This as Russia reinforces its presence in the east, tries to make advances there. We'll have the latest from the front lines just ahead.
HILL: The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations tells CNN this morning, the Ukrainian aid bill is critical for that country to defend itself, while also touting the bill's bipartisan support.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Both sides have been supportive of the president's initiative. And I think that they all understand that if we are not there to continue that support, what it would mean for the Ukrainian effort to defend themselves against the Russians.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Yes, we've had two Republicans on this broadcast in recent days say they support that as well as Democrats. Ambassador Thomas- Greenfield's comments come as President Biden is urging lawmakers to immediately pass this supplemental funding for Ukraine. It now totals $40 billion. I mean it's an order of magnitude bigger than aid so far. He warned that existing aid will run out nine days from today.
Joining us now is Ukrainian journalist, former spokesperson for the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, Luliia Mendel.
Thank you for joining us this morning.
This is quite an increase in U.S. military and humanitarian aid by multiples really. I wonder what impact you think it will have on the battlefield, and crucially how quickly these weapons can get to the battlefield.
LULIIA MENDEL, FORMER SPOKESWOMAN FOR PRESIDENT VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY: Erica, Jim, thank you for having me.
First of all, let me say that the U.S. support in every mean, in every step of Ukraine's battle for independence and democracy is actually critical, absolutely critical.
I know that the previous package of $3.5 billion is actually almost exhausted. So, it's very critical to get through this new package as fast as possible.
And in this case, I need to -- I need you to understand clearly the shift of attitude of Ukrainians and the army of Ukrainians and the soldiers of Ukrainians towards the war. So, if, for instance, a month ago the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, was saying that we wanted the situation back to the level where it was before there are large scale invasion start, before 24th of February, so that we move Russian troops to the territories where they were before that, in occupied Donbas and occupied Crimea.
Right now we hear different messages that the Ukrainian authorities believe that we can take back all Ukrainian occupied territories. And this is a great shift because Ukrainian authorities understand that we have enough support right now that the Ukrainian soldiers, Ukrainian army and volunteers, have so much support that we actually can restore the sovereignty of Ukraine back that it was before Russian invasion in 2014.
So, this huge shift depends on the western support and also more on the U.S. support that is actually leading in this help to Ukraine.
HILL: So highlighting there why that aid is so crucial.
You know, President Biden had expressed some concern about Putin not being able to find a way out of this war. We have heard over the last several weeks concerns about a cornered Putin and that he may double down.
Are you concerned at this point, even with that very positive outlook, that there could be more coming from Russia because perhaps Vladimir Putin can't find a way out?
MENDEL: You're absolutely correct. Like, I'm speaking positive because we need to have hope, and we need to move forward with the defense of our country. We're not giving up, right. But we, of course, expect anything from Vladimir Putin. We understand that he is the one who was threatening the world with a nuclear. We understand that he's the one who is preparing even Belarus right now to fight Ukraine from north.
By the way, today, Lukashenko, Alexander Lukashenko, who says he's the president of Belarus, was sending really concerning messages about preparation of Belarusian troops.