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Hearing to Focus on Trump's Pressure on States to Overturn Election; 15 Million plus under Heat Alerts from Dakotas to Gulf Coast; Thousands of Flights Canceled or Delayed Since Friday. Aired 3- 4p ET

Aired June 19, 2022 - 15:00   ET



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello again, everyone and Happy Father's Day on this Sunday. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We begin this hour on the cusp of a new round of hearings on the Capitol riot and a new poll showing most Americans believe Donald Trump should be charged for his role in the insurrection.

The ABC/Ipsos poll found that 58 percent of Americans believe Donald Trump should face criminal charges for his part in the Capitol riot. On Tuesday, the House Select Committee investigating the Capitol insurrection will begin its third week of hearings. This time, the panel plans to focus on former President Trump's efforts to pressure state officials to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Georgia elections officials, Brad Raffensperger and Gabe Sterling are expected to testify at Tuesday's hearing along with Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, CNN senior crime and justice reporter, Katelyn Polantz joining me now.

Katelyn, what can we expect from Tuesday's hearings?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Fred, this week we're going to see another aspect of Donald Trump trying to manipulate the laws to take the election in 2020. This Tuesday, the public hearing before the House Select Committee is going to focus on the states, specifically battleground states like Arizona and Georgia, where Trump and his lawyers were trying to get legislators and party officials to change the outcome of the popular vote in those states. Those were states, I should say that Trump lost.

So we know there are two aspects that the Trump team focused on and that we'll be hearing more about at this hearing on Tuesday. One was the direct pressure Trump was placing on state officials that

would include people like Secretary of State in Georgia, Brad Raffensperger, whom you mentioned, he will be testifying. He is the one who received that phone call from the President in early January 2021, asking him to quote, "find votes" in Georgia.

Rusty Bowers from Arizona, that's another one who you said would be testifying. He received a similar call from Trump and others about his state using Republican electors who would back Trump as a way to supplant the Biden Electoral College votes there. So that's that other aspect, these Electoral College slates.

But Fred, this hearing won't just be about the maneuvering in the states that we know that the Trump campaign and many lawyers took part in, it will be focusing on Trump himself and his role.

So here's what Committee member Adam Schiff said about that earlier today on CNN.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): We will show evidence of the President's involvement in the scheme. We'll also again show evidence about what his own lawyers came to think about this scheme, and we will show courageous state officials who stood up and said they wouldn't go along with this plan to either call legislatures back into session, or decertify the results for Joe Biden.

The system held because a lot of state and local elections officials upheld their oath to their Constitution, a lot of the Republicans, as well as Democrats.


POLANTZ: So Schiff mentions there that this was both Republicans and Democrats. And that's an important point to remember going to this hearing on Tuesday, Fred. The officials who we know will be testifying from Georgia and Arizona about Donald Trump's pressure campaign are all Republicans.

Fred, back to you.

WHITFIELD: All right, Katelyn Polantz, thank you so much in Washington.

Let's talk further about all of this and the week ahead. Norm Eisen is with us. He was the White House Ethics czar and an Ambassador in the Obama administration. He is now a CNN legal analyst.

And Norm, good to see you as always.

So this Tuesday, it could be potentially pivotal, right? We're going to hear testimony from state officials in Georgia and Arizona, who Trump targeted in his pressure campaign to overturn the election. What are your expectations on how this might bolster the Committee's case?

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Fred, thanks for having me back. And my expectations are that after a series of blockbuster hearings, we're going to have one of the most devastating ones yet where we have state officials in Georgia who received that infamous demand and we have it on tape, Fred, the smoking gun where Trump says just quote, "find 11,780 votes," and similar pressure in Arizona.

But the reason that the Georgia tape is so important is, you know, there is a lot of talk Fred about well, we have to prove Trump's intent to get the ultimate criminal prosecution, the payoff. No.


EISEN: No matter what you may believe you are not allowed to demand 11,780 votes that don't exist. So it makes a powerful outcome with a Georgia prosecutor already looking at this.

This is a big day ahead for us on Tuesday.

WHITFIELD: In fact, here is that tape for anyone who doesn't recall.


DONALD TRUMP, THEN PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, all I want to do is this, I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more that we have, because we won the state.


WHITFIELD: And so now, in fact, Georgia -- in Georgia, the Fulton County District Attorney is investigating that phone call and has convened a grand jury to look into possible charges. So we know what the House Committee wants to do, potentially, and what their hope is for the Department of Justice, but what kinds of crimes do you believe the District Attorney in Georgia would be looking at potentially?

EISEN: Fred, I think that the Atlanta DA Fani Willis will be looking at Georgia solicitation of election fraud. You can't ask for those 11,780 votes that don't exist. She prosecuted the Atlanta teacher cheating scandal as a RICO case, Georgia State RICO, Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations in this case, that would be Trump at the Trump campaign.

I think she'll do RICO here, and I've written a long report at Brookings on all the crimes. I think charges in Georgia are looking increasingly likely. We often talk about the US DOJ, that's important, but Atlanta is the place where Trump may finally face accountability.

WHITFIELD: Wow, that would be -- I mean, that's extraordinary. The President of the United States, a former President of the United States charged in a locality for a crime that you just outlined.

So earlier, we heard Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff say the panel will present -- I'm talking about the House panel now will present evidence of Trump's involvement in a fake electoral scheme in Arizona. So let's talk about the potential impact there, if indeed, that is proven by, in part testimony this week.

EISEN: Well, we know that the US Department of Justice is looking at these fake electors. We know that that is also an issue in the States because it's very active in the Georgia investigation.

But Fred, there were fake electors in multiple states like Arizona, so the President could be looking at potential Federal or state criminal liability in places like Arizona wherever he applied undue pressure to state officials like Rusty Bowers, who we will hear from on Tuesday or his campaign helps suborn these phony electoral slates and Fred, they signed documents claiming to be something they were not in these places like Arizona and Georgia.

So that's a potentially another outcome of this Committee's investigation, criminal investigation or prosecution to follow the House Committee.

WHITFIELD: So these layers of potential scheming, I mean, it's jaw dropping, and so now, too, the Committee has reached out to the wife of a Supreme Court Justice Ginni Thomas, the wife of Clarence Thomas.

So she apparently was promoting Trump's election lies and she also allegedly was in close contact with people trying to overturn the results. Do you see that she will say yes to testifying or instead pleading the fifth? Or potentially what kind of information could come out of her? What would they be searching for?

EISEN: Well, we know that she had contacts according to media reporting, again in Arizona, engaging with people to do the wrong thing, to resist the legitimate election outcome state legislatures, I think what the Committee is looking for, and she said, she wants to cooperate, but so did Mark Meadows, it never happened. So we'll see if she actually does it.

What they're looking for: Trump's lawyer, John Eastman, who was featured so prominently in the last hearing had contacts with Ginni Thomas. Eastman claims he had some insight into what was going on at the Supreme Court. He says it was all public.

I think they're looking for that conduit between the Supreme Court, Ginni Thomas, John Eastman and Donald Trump. And, you know, here we have another scandal because Ginni's husband, Clarence Thomas, has been voting in matters relating to this investigation -- the big Trump v. Thompson case.

WHITFIELD: In fact, that was going to be my question. Yes, do you believe that immediately just by virtue of the allegations involving his wife that he ought to be recusing himself?


EISEN: There is no question in any other Court in the land, it would be required. The Supreme Court -- it's almost futile, Fred, they have no code of ethics. Each of them decides if something is right or wrong. That's absurd. We should have a code of ethics.

But in any event, Clarence Thomas may not sit on any other 1/6 related cases, the conflicts are too deep and he must recuse.

WHITFIELD: Norm Eisen, always good to see you. Thank you so much. It's going to be a very interesting week, yet another very interesting week.

And Happy Father's Day.

EISEN: Thanks, Fred. WHITFIELD: All right.

EISEN: Thanks, Fred. Happy Father's Day.

WHITFIELD: Thank you.

All right, still ahead, more than 15 million are under heat alerts across the US with record breaking temperatures in the triple digits. We'll have the latest forecast.

And travel troubles facing so many Americans right now. More than 3,000 flights canceled this holiday weekend. I'll tell you why this is happening.



WHITFIELD: All right, if you're out celebrating this weekend, you'll want to keep cool.

More than 15 million people are under heat alerts from the Dakotas all the way down to the Gulf Coast with record breaking temperatures in the triple digits. That number is down from yesterday, but more heat advisories are expected in the days ahead.

Gene Norman joining us live from the CNN Weather Center with the very latest.

So Gene, where is all this heat headed?

GENE NORMAN, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, this heat is headed east. Right now, it is mainly confined to the Northern Plains, but don't put your guard down if you live east of the Mississippi. The heat is coming back for you.

Weather Service puts out heat advisories in excessive heat warnings when the temperature and the humidity combination will be over 100 to 105, and especially in places that aren't used to it like North Dakota and Minnesota and South Dakota. That's where the excessive heat warnings are in effect for today.

You know yesterday, Bismarck reached 100, actually hit 101. They normally hit the century mark usually in mid-July, so this is way early. Another sign of the fingerprints of climate change.

Right now, it is 97 in Bismarck. The heat index 102 to 101. That's what it feels like in Omaha feels. It feels like it is 106 in Aberdeen, so that heat will be parked there, but it will expand because the heat dome that is causing those high temperatures will expand as the week progresses.

Watch as that bubble of hot air just expands all the way to the east and even back to the west. So by the time we get to Wednesday, Thursday Friday, it will be hard to escape this kind of high heat regardless of where you live in this country. In fact, we could be setting over a hundred records for either tying

or new high temperature records right through this week in any of the black dots you see here on the screen. These are places that could have those records set one or more times.

That heat will continue to spread above average temperatures all the way into the east. You're looking at 101 in Chicago by Tuesday. Atlanta, a hundred degrees by Wednesday. Wow. It is going to be scorching hot, so get ready for it. It's summertime coming a little bit early. The official start of summer is Tuesday, Fred but we are jumping that calendar.

WHITFIELD: We sure are. We will keep those popsicles in the freezer because to me that's the only way to cool down. It is all about eating a lot of popsicles this week.

All right, Gene Norman, thank you so much. Get some popsicles, too.

All right, Americans aren't the only ones feeling the heat. Temperatures in Spain and France had been sweltering for several days and the heat is expected to peak this weekend.

Let's check in with my CNN International colleagues for the latest on Europe's heatwave.


NADA BASHIR, CNN PRODUCER: I'm Nada Bashir in Paris where a sweltering heatwave is beginning to subside after temperatures reached record breaking figures in parts of France over the weekend.

On Saturday, regions in the west of the country saw temperatures of more than 40 degrees Celsius. That's 104 degrees Fahrenheit according to the National Meteorological Service.

On Friday, France's Health Minister said more than 10 million text messages were sent out throughout the country with information and advice as temperatures soared. But despite the heat, Paris remained a bustling hub for both locals and tourists over the weekend. Many flocking to the capital's parks, and of course for a walk down the Sen.

However, as the heat subsides and there are forecast for a rainy night and even thunderstorms ahead.

AL GOODMAN, CNN MADRID CORRESPONDENT: I'm Al Goodman in Madrid. In a surprise, it's Northern Spain, not the South that has been hit hardest by the extremely high temperatures and their fallout in recent days.

Temperatures have been over 100 degrees in various northern towns including at the San Sebastian Airport, which marked 110 degrees on Saturday, the nation's highest.

Spain's National Weather Service said forest fires have burned tens of thousands of acres mainly in the north, one of the biggest in the mountains near the border with Portugal. Flames got close to the high speed train tracks and officials halted service.

Other fires are burning in Northeastern Spain closer to Barcelona.

With temperatures far above normal in most of Spain, some Spaniards say it's a tough choice to turn on the air conditioner because energy prices are also sky high, but some relief is in sight. Cooler breezes have started to blow in from the Atlantic Ocean.


WHITFIELD: All right, tough choices to make. Thank you so much Al Goodman.

All right back in this country, Yellowstone National Park will reopen it South Loop on Wednesday to a limited number of visitors. A week of record flooding and rainfall caused severe damage. The park announced an interim visitor access plan to balance demand and park resources. Officials closed all five park entrances as heavy rain and melting snow washed out roads and damaged bridges. Pretty extraordinary.


WHITFIELD: The North Loop will stay closed for now.

Since last weekend, the park received about two to three times its typical rainfall for the entire month of June.

And today, more than 800 flights are being canceled across the US. That's on top of the thousands that were canceled or delayed since Friday and that is despite the TSA estimating that this holiday weekend has been the busiest travel time of 2022 so far.

CNN's Camila Bernal is at the Los Angeles International Airport. Camila, there have to be a lot of frustrated travelers. What is driving all these cancellations?

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's somewhat of a domino effect. So first of all, there are so many passengers, people flying this weekend, Fred, not just because it is a holiday weekend, but it also coincided with Father's Day.

TSA saying they screened about two and a half million passengers on Friday. That's the most they've seen since the Sunday after Thanksgiving. So even though it was a very popular day to travel, it was also a mess, and it is because these airlines just cannot keep up for a number of reasons.

There is always bad weather and delays and cancellations because of that, but there is also staff shortages and infrastructure challenges, all of this leading to more and more cancellations on Friday about 1,500 flights were canceled. Yesterday, about 850 flights canceled; and today, as you mentioned already, more than 800 flights canceled and these cancellations not just happening this weekend, but really the entire summer.

So that is what passengers are going to have to prepare for. Southwest Airlines saying they've already canceled about 20,000 flights from June to Labor Day. They say they need about 10,000 new employees and they're struggling to hire people.

Delta Air Lines also saying they are canceling about 100 daily flights from July 1st to August 7th and pilots there are saying they're frustrated, and they're tired. The Union spokesperson for the Delta pilots saying that they are working overtime and that they're even working on their days off, and yet, this is still not enough, because flights are still getting canceled.

I talked to one passenger today who told me she was frustrated. She'd been on the phone with Alaska for about four hours because her flight was canceled and she was trying to get on another flight. Here's what she told us.


ANNA ATLANTIC, PASSENGER WHOSE FLIGHT WAS CANCELLED: I'm trying to get back and I was supposed to be taking Alaska Airlines, but they said that the flight was canceled because they are short of staff. They said they are short of pilots, cabin crew. Yes, all kinds of shortage they have now.


BERNAL: And she just needed to be back home. So she was telling me, look, I just want to get on a plane. So thankfully, she was able to go through security. But that's not essentially everyone's luck. A lot of people just having to reschedule again and again, having to buy extra tickets, and it is making it really difficult, and it's likely going to continue to cause headaches for passengers for the rest of the summer -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: Wow. What a nightmare scenario.

All right, Camila Bernal, thank you so much.

So traveling isn't the only place that people are feeling pressure. Inflation is sky high. And last week's interest rate hike by the Fed means people are paying even more for houses, putting added pressure on the housing market.

CNN's Brian Todd has more on navigating these higher home costs.



BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Dina Burns (ph) got some sticker shock recently when shopping for a new house in the Phoenix area.

BURNS: $500,000.00. I don't think so. I know not.

TODD (voice over): Dina is certainly not alone in navigating higher home prices and steeper mortgages. At the end of 2021, thirty-year fixed rate mortgages in the US had

interest rates of only about three percent. Now, the rate is approaching about six percent. And with the Fed's interest rate hikes just announced, getting a mortgage could cost some homebuyers hundreds of thousands of dollars more.

BILL KOWALCZUK, REAL ESTATE BROKER, COLDWELL BANKER WARBURG: For an average homebuyer, it could cost upwards of six figures, more than $100,000.00 over the course of a 30-year loan today versus if they had purchased perhaps six to seven months ago.

TODD (voice over): What's the first thing a prospective homebuyer should do right now as interest rates climb?

MICHELLE SINGLETARY, PERSONAL FINANCE COLUMNIST, "THE WASHINGTON POST": The first thing you want to do is sit down and look at all your debts, because before you go look at the house, before you fall in love with that house, look to make sure you can handle that payment.

And here's something else that I'm going to tell you that a lot of people don't tell you, don't go by what the bank says that you can afford because they're going to look at your gross income. They're going to look at all your debts, and they're going to look at your gross income.

But guess what? You don't take your gross income home.

TODD (voice over): Most financial experts advise, put as much money down for your home as you can. One key component homebuyers have to navigate whether to get a fixed rate mortgage of 15 to 30 years with an interest rate that never changes or a so-called ARM, an adjustable rate mortgage, with interest rates that go up and down depending on the markets and when the government raises or lowers rates.

KOWALCZUK: If you think that you'll be there for less than five years, an adjustable rate mortgage would definitely be the way to go because it's a lower monthly payment. If you think you're going to be staying longer than five years, a 15-year or 30-year mortgage would be great. It just depends on what monthly payment you're able to carry.

TODD (voice over): With mortgage interest rates climbing, is now even a good time to buy? Our experts are torn.

SINGLETARY: Renting does not mean that you are a financial failure. Renting in an environment where we might have a recession will allow you to pick up and move maybe where the jobs are.

KOWALCZUK: If you are able to make a downpayment and qualify for a mortgage, it will cost you less to own that home than it would be to rent the same property.

TODD (on camera): What's a common mistake people make when taking on a new mortgage buying a new home? One expert we spoke to says many people simply buy too much house, overestimating the affordability of their mortgage, not factoring in the maintenance costs of the house. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


WHITFIELD: All right, coming up, one person is dead and multiple people hurt following a shooting in one of Las Vegas' most popular tourist areas. We will have details next.



WHITFIELD: All right, more gun violence in multiple cities across the country this weekend hitting closer to home for an ever growing number of Americans. Just this morning, there was a deadly shooting in Las Vegas in a very popular tourist area. It happened outside one of the city's oldest casinos.

CNN's Miguel Marquez joining us now with more on this -- Miguel.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I'd like to say it's all a shock, but sadly it is just another weekend in America. Among other places, Chicago Vegas, South Carolina, Virginia, and New York City all saw gun violence over the last 48 hours or so.

In Chicago, 32 people shot, three dead in 22 separate incidents. One guy was just sitting on his back porch or his front porch when he was shot and killed on Friday evening.

In Las Vegas, the one you mentioned, that was on Fremont Street. It's a very busy area all day and all night. It is a very touristy area as well. There was somebody who came out of a casino, there was a fight, they there shots fired. One person is dead, several others injured.

South Carolina, two people dead at a nightclub.

New York City, just last night, one is dead, two injured at a home in Queens. And at Tyson's Corner Mall just outside of Washington DC, it is a just giant mall. There was a fight inside of a store. It turned into shots. It turned into an evacuation. Nobody was injured during the shooting, but several were injured during the evacuation.

And look, most of these do not amount to mass shooting incidents. That's four or more people injured or killed in one incident. But the Gun Violence Archive says that, look, there's been 273 mass shootings this year and we are on pace to match last year's record pace, if not beat it.

All of this as Congress is inching toward gun reform. While the bill that is moving forward doesn't seem to satisfy both sides very much. There may be a vote on it before too long in the next couple of weeks. And the Supreme Court, they could as soon as this week make a ruling on a controversial case that would allow people to more easily carry concealed weapons in several states. That will be watched in places like here in New York, in New Jersey, California, Maryland, Hawaii, and Massachusetts -- Fredricka. WHITFIELD: Wow. So much, just in one weekend alone. All right thank

you so much, Miguel Marquez.

All right, he is a familiar name and face, Vince McMahon, the CEO and Chairman of World Wrestling Entertainment is stepping back amid allegations that he paid millions of dollars in hush money to cover up an alleged affair.

CNN's Jason Carroll has the story.


ANNOUNCER: Please welcome chairman of WWE, Vince McMahon.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Larger than life, Vince McMahon, more famous than some of the wrestling stars he helped create.

DAVE MELTZER, JOURNALIST, "WRESTLING OBSERVER": He's the guy. I mean, the WWE is Vince McMahon. You can't separate them.


CARROLL (voice over): Now McMahon forced to step back from his role as Chairman and CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, WWE, while the company's Board investigates misconduct claims against him.

His daughter, his interim replacement. "The Wall Street Journal" reporting, McMahon paid a former employee who he allegedly had an affair with $3 million to keep her quiet. According to "The Journal" the Separation Agreement prevents her from discussing her relationship. The investigation also looking at other nondisclosure agreements involving misconduct claims against McMahon and another executive.

MELTZER: What would have been considered "boys will be boys" which wrestling was built on for decades and decades and decades, and by today's standards, it's not quite as much.

CARROLL (voice over): "I have pledged my complete cooperation to the investigation by the Special Committee," McMahon said in a statement and, "I have also pledged to accept the findings and outcome of the investigation whatever they are."

Wrestling journalist, Dave Meltzer says it is tough to predict the fallout from the allegations.


MELTZER: Their big defense is that any money that he paid, any hush money that he paid was his own money and it was not company money and I think that's the key to the investigation.

CARROLL (voice over): Over decades, McMahon turned the WWE into a billion dollar entertainment juggernaut, including deals with FOX and NBC. He will still be in charge of creative content while the investigation is underway.

McMahon has weathered past scandals. In 1994, a jury acquitted him of conspiring to distribute steroids to his wrestlers. In the years following, always center stage and always the showman.

In 2007, then reality TV star Donald Trump shaved McMahon's head in a made for the masses feud, now the wrestling world waiting to see how this latest real world match will end.


WHITFIELD: All right, Jason Carroll, thank you so much.

All right, still ahead, Russia's war in Ukraine may last years. The new warning comes from NATO Secretary-General and the British Prime Minister as the fighting continues in eastern Ukraine. We'll have the latest, next.



WHITFIELD: A dire new warning today that Russia's war in Ukraine could be a long and drawn out conflict. Both the head of NATO and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson say the war could drag on for years. We're also seeing new video that shows the devastation in the town of Lyman in Eastern Ukraine. The bodycam video taken by a Russian soldier last month showing damaged buildings and empty streets as Russian forces took control of that town.

CNN's Sam Kiley joins us now from Kharkiv. So Sam, is there a growing sense on the ground there in Ukraine that the war could go on for years?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, I think this has come at an important turning point. I think that's why you've seen Boris Johnson writing in London's "Sunday Times" and Jens Stoltenberg, writing in the "Bild" newspaper, giving an interview to the "Bild" newspaper, both with the same message to prepare Ukraine's allies for the long haul.

Now, that is because in large part the Ukrainians have enjoyed, if that's the right word, something of a tactical success in the first phase of this war, because they've been fast, they've been lean, they've been nimble, they've been able to maneuver very rapidly.

But now that there's the Russians have settled things down into a much more Soviet conventional type war, and that is where hearing Kharkiv military officials, for example, tell us that they've got a 10 to one disadvantage when it comes to the amount of artillery being ranged against them. This is in the danger of this is that it becomes a long war.

And what the Ukrainians are wanting, Fredricka, is a lot of new state of the art NATO weaponry, which will give them back the initiative. It means that they can take advantage of being smaller and more nimble than the Russians and try to press that home, drive the Russians out of their territory entirely.

If this settles into what the Russians have enjoyed as a Soviet-tight frozen war, frozen conflict with the assault we've seen in Georgia that existed here between 2014 and February this year, then the advantage goes to the Russians -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Oh, my gosh. So Sam, the fighting in eastern Ukraine, I mean, it remains tense in many places, where do things stand there?

KILEY: Well, it's extremely bloody. It's being described now openly as Ukrainians and indeed, foreign fighters that I've been speaking to, particularly in the east, in the area known as the Donbas, a little bit further east from where I am here in Kharkiv, as a meat grinder, and that is because the scale of casualties certainly on the Ukrainian side, and one can assume they are probably higher on the Russian side, a number between 100 and 200 killed a day, another the 500 being wounded every day.

Here in Kharkiv, there are very profound concerns indeed, and growing evidence for a Russian buildup of troops. We are only about 30 kilometers from the Russian border here. So they're able to -- there are reports and indeed, I've seen confirmation for that in terms of imagery taken by the Ukrainians recently, which shows that they're building up armor, they're building up tanks, they're building up artillery, and the concern is that there will be another phase, another attack here on Ukraine's second city.

So it remains a bloody and dynamic war, but one at the moment that favors the Russians because they have the sheer weight of numbers. Mass is on their side at the moment -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: I see. All right, Sam, Kiley, thank you so much.

And we'll be right back.


WHITFIELD: Today is Juneteenth, a day long celebrated within some Black communities marking the end of slavery in the United States, but the day has not been well known from coast to coast until recent years, largely thanks to the 95-year-old woman from Texas who started a movement to make Juneteenth a Federal holiday.

Here's my report reflecting on the history behind the holiday.


WHITFIELD (voice over): Juneteenth is a celebration that marks the end of slavery in the United States, also known as Emancipation Day. Many consider it to be the country's second Independence Day.

It was on June 19, 1865 that Union soldiers led by this man, General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas with orders to inform residents that the Civil War had ended and to tell enslaved African- Americans, they were finally free.

The message came more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation.


WHITFIELD (voice over): His order was difficult to enforce, so many slaves didn't see freedom until the end of the war. Many African- Americans have marked the anniversary for years, but it was a woman from Texas named, Opal Lee, who started a movement to make Juneteenth a Federal holiday.

Known as the Grandmother of Juneteenth, the 95-year-old campaigned on the issue for decades. She even held a two and a half mile march each year to commemorate the two and a half years it took for slaves in Texas to learn they were free.

OPAL LEE, GRANDMOTHER OF JUNETEENTH: Please, please continue the kinds of things that you know we need to become one people here. It's not a White thing. It's not a Black thing. It's an American thing.

WHITFIELD (voice over): In 1980, Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth a state holiday. By 2019, forty seven states and the District of Columbia followed suit.

Last year, President Joe Biden signed a law making Juneteenth a Federal holiday, a dream come true for Lee and for so many others.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: By making Juneteenth a Federal holiday, all Americans can feel the power of this day and learn from our history and celebrate progress and grapple with the distance we've come, but the distance we have to travel to.

WHITFIELD (voice over): A historical marker can be seen today in Galveston, Texas, at the site where General Granger and his troops set up their headquarters announcing the end of slavery.

Today, Americans recognize Juneteenth with parties and gatherings, and the day is marked as a celebration of African-American freedom and achievement.

LEE: Screaming from the house tops the unity is freedom.

People have been taught to hate and if people have been taught to hate they can be taught to love.


WHITFIELD: Opal Lee, and the nation is celebrating today's holiday with Juneteenth festivities across the country, community events, parades, and concerts throughout the weekend are marking the nation's newest Federal holiday.

CNN's Nadia Romero joining me live from Atlanta's Juneteenth festival. So Nadia, how are folks celebrating and is it a pretty sizable turnout? NADIA ROMERO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We're talking hundreds

of people here, Fredricka, in Atlanta in Centennial Park not too far from CNN headquarters.

You know, the day started here in Atlanta with a parade that snaked around the downtown area. And we saw marching bands, Battle of the Bands, and double Dutch teams as they paraded through the city, celebrating Black Culture, Black history, and it really is American history that the fabric of this country woven into Black American culture, as well.

And so here we are in Atlanta, a city that has such deep roots in the Civil Rights movement and that's what makes Atlanta, such a special place to celebrate Juneteenth.

And I want you to hear from a congresswoman from Texas, Representative Sheila Jackson Lee. She's also a member of the Congressional Black Caucus on why Juneteenth is so important to her. Take a listen.


REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): For me, it is a moment of great emotion. It is a moment of passion and compassion because slavery was enormously brutal, and the discussion and information and history about slavery has not been at the center point of America's story.

I thought it was extremely important to pass a Federal holiday that would give America a moment to be able to reflect, not just on the jubilation of freedom, but also the brutality of slavery and what it meant to human beings.


ROMERO: And we're going to talk about that timeline a little bit. You heard the Congresswoman there saying that it was so important to have this be a federal holiday. Well, when it was signed by President Biden last year, it was on June 17, just two days before Juneteenth.

So not a lot of people had a chance to really rev up and celebrate. This is the year though where you're seeing so many more Juneteenth celebrations all around the country. You can see people have gathered here, hundreds of them coming in and out of Centennial Park, seeing the Black vendors here, the food vendors, the clothing vendors.

There are multiple stages for live performances, and a really big push of Juneteenth across the country is to support Black businesses.

As you talk about the end of slavery, for those enslaved African- Americans, then Juneteenth, we went through many years of segregation and redlining and still dealing with systematic racism to this day. So a big push is to support the Black community by supporting Black businesses -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, Nadia Romero there in the heart of Atlanta. Thank you so much. And of course, you can join some of the biggest stars as they lift

their voices for "Juneteenth: A Global Celebration for Freedom" live tonight at eight Eastern right here on CNN.


WHITFIELD: Thank you so much for joining me today. Again, Happy Father's Day to everybody out there.

I'm Fredricka Whitfield, the CNN NEWSROOM continues with Pamela Brown right now.