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U.S. Intelligence Warns of Russian Plan to Undermine Midterm Elections; Next January 6th Hearings Focus on Trump's Pressure on State Officials; Biden Says Tackling Inflation a Top Priority; More Than 3,000 U.S. Cancelled Since Friday; Deadly Shootings Mark Another Weekend in America; Biden White House Looks for Right Messaging about the Economy; Black Artists and Visionaries to Perform at CNN Juneteenth Special; American Blogs His Experience as Volunteer in Poland; Interview with Pianist Robert Glasper about CNN Juneteenth Event. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired June 19, 2022 - 18:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Unprecedented heat swelters nearly a third of the U.S. population. A scorching summer comes early in Western Europe.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The White House is really trying to strike an optimistic tone about the state of the economy while also acknowledging the pain that so many Americans are feeling amid these rising prices.

BRIAN DEESE, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL DIRECTOR: We have a stronger and better position to tackle inflation than almost any other country around the world.

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): What Juneteenth does is it channels a way for America to talk about slavery and to talk about it without intimidation and without anguish to honor slaves who have never been honored.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Pamela Brown in Washington. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Happy Juneteenth and Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there.

And we begin this hour with new CNN reporting. U.S. intelligence officials are on alert this weekend after a warning that Russian operators could once again be hatching plan to undermine American elections. They say Moscow's tactics like mounting disinformation campaigns and hacking into small local election systems could disrupt this fall's midterms.

CNN's Isaac Dovere is following these new warnings.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ISAAC DOVERE, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: It's a more sophistication and the kinds of asymmetric warfare that are involved here and also more divisions that the Russians are able to play into. What officials that I spoke to are warning of is the potential that Russian hackers will go in and deliberately get caught, get caught so that they are then exposed and people say, oh, the Russians got into our system and then that undermines faith in the elections even more..

Obviously we're seeing that that is a huge problem right now especially among supporters of former President Trump who have pushed the idea that there are problems with the election integrity.

BROWN: Wow, that is so fascinating just the change in the thinking from the Russian side, right, because before they always said we had nothing to do with this, but now they actually would want it to be -- they would want them to be identified. And look, the fact is this is a hyper partisan climate, right? Disinformation has become more sophisticated, as you said. Tell us how officials believe these threats could play out beyond that.

DOVERE: Look, one of the things that we sometimes forget about is that the elections are administered by about 8,000 different authorities around the country at the county level, the local level. These are people -- imagine election clerks, county election clerks, that are going up against the Russian intelligence right now.

BROWN: Yes. Right.

DOVERE: And that they have to rely on whatever systems they have to -- and whatever, a couple of the people that I spoke to said, look, I talked to my IT guys, we're trying what we can do to get security. So one of the things that was sketched out to me was it could be as simple as going in and getting voter registration records and posting them online. And if you think about how much -- how many tremors that would send through the system.

Oh, the Russians are in the system. They know what's going on. Can they try to change the results of the election? Are any of these things possible? They're all possible even though actually election security has gotten much higher over the last couple of years, but the Russians are now playing into, the intelligence officials think, this feeling that is around that there are problems.

BROWN: And you just have to think about those election workers, many of them volunteers, civil servants, already been under siege since the 2020 election, now having to deal with this. So you have this atmosphere of distrust in elections coupled with just the sheer number of local elections. U.S. officials are saying look, there is no way to truly be ready for an attack. So what, if anything, are they doing to counteract this?

DOVERE: Well, look, there are efforts going on to try to share information with local election officials. These are best practices. But there's only so much that can be done. There's a lot of push among officials that I spoke to to actually get out there ahead publicly and talk about this threat. But part of the problem is that since there's so much distrust around already it's not like President Biden could walk out and say, hey, the Russians are trying to hack our elections and we should expect that at least among a lot of people that would be taken seriously.

And so it puts American officials in this really difficult position. When there is hacking, do they call it out and say this is the Russians because that is actually what's going on, or does it feed more distrust or what do they do about it?

BROWN: Right.

DOVERE: And meanwhile, the Russian intelligence and the Russian government that's behind this are only happy to see more and more division sown within America because it undermines faith in Americans.

BROWN: Right.

DOVERE: It undermines Americans' faith in each other, and puts us into more and more problems.

BROWN: Right.


BROWN: The January 6th Committee holds two more hearings this week. First up on Tuesday will focus on then President Donald Trump's pressure on state elections officials to illegally overturn his loss.

CNN's Katelyn Polantz is here. So walk us through what to expect -- Katelyn.

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pam, every time that the committee is meeting in these public sessions they're building out a different aspect of what they've learned about this plan to overturn the election result in 2020.


So on Tuesday, it's going to be all about the states. Specifically the battleground states that Donald Trump lost but that he still was putting pressure on, him, his campaign, the White House and he was specifically making phone calls to people in both Arizona and in Georgia.

We're going to hear a lot more about those two states in particular, those phone calls. We know that the three people that are set to testify on Tuesday are all Republican state officials. Two of them from Georgia. One is the Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, another is his deputy Gabe Sterling.

And those two men are crucial in telling this story because they were receiving direct pressure from Trump in a phone call in January 2021 when Trump told Raffensperger to find him votes. We've heard about that a lot. That's going to be part of the hearing Tuesday.

They also are going to be looking into Arizona where another state official, the speaker of the House in Arizona, Rusty Bowers. He's going to be testifying about a call he too received from Trump, and it was more less about finding votes specifically but more about his power in the state legislature and using a slate of electors for Trump to supplant the electors for Joe Biden that were the rightful electors to be sent to the federal government to certify the election.

So those are the men we're going to be hearing from. And all of these stories that are going to be told involved lots of people. Campaign officials, lawyers for Trump, but the committee keeps reminding us every single time we hear from them and in the hearings themselves that this is about Trump himself. What he was doing as president, what he was doing as the head of his campaign. And what he personally knew and was deciding to say to different people.

Here's what members of the committee were saying earlier today in different interviews about their findings so far and also what we're going to be seeing in these upcoming hearings.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): I certainly think the president is guilty of knowing what he did, seditious conspiracy, being involved in these, you know, kind of different segments of pressuring DOJ, the vice president, et cetera.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): We will show evidence of the president's involvement in this scheme. We will also, again, show evidence about what his own lawyers came to think about this scheme.

DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: Why not subpoena Mike Pence, for example? I know you asked him to testify voluntarily. That didn't happen.

SCHIFF: You know, we're not taking anything off the table in terms of witnesses who have not yet testified.

BASH: So Mike Pence is a possibility still?

SCHIFF: You know, certainly a possibility. We're not excluding anyone or anything at this point.


POLANTZ: So that comment from Adam Schiff there is a reminder, too, that these public hearings there are stories we've already heard before in some aspects. We've heard from these officials before. But this is a living, breathing ongoing investigation. Schiff there is saying that there is the possibility for surprises to come. More witnesses, potentially, that we have never heard from before -- Pam.

BROWN: Yes. Like they just recently asked Virginia Thomas, the wife of Clarence Thomas, the justice, to come and speak to them. We'll see if that happens.

All right, Katelyn Polantz, thank you so much.

Well, many Americans traveling on this Father's Day have seen their plans thrown into chaos. More than 850 flights were canceled today and more than 3,000 since Friday. That is despite sky high ticket prices. Thanks in part to the worst inflation in 40 years.

CNN's Camila Bernal is at LAX in Los Angeles and CNN's Arlette Saenz is traveling with President Biden in Delaware.

Arlette, I'm going to start with you. The president can leave Washington but he can't escape concerns over the economy. How is the White House trying to reassure Americans who are growing increasingly nervous right now?

SAENZ: Yes, Pamela, the White House is really trying to offer assurances to Americans about the prospects for the economy even while they're acknowledging the pain that so many people are feeling as they see these skyrocketing prices.

Today, top Cabinet officials and other economic officials were echoing President Biden's argument that he does not believe a recession in this country is inevitable even as some economists are predicting that one is looming.

And take a listen to what Secretary of Energy, Jennifer Granholm, had to say earlier today as she also warned that this could be a very tough summer when it comes to gas prices.


JENNIFER GRANHOLM, ENERGY SECRETARY: The president is really focused on preventing these inflationary increases to the extents he can. Inflation obviously is happening globally. A recession is not inevitable. The president really wants to have a steady and stable recovery. But of course one of the biggest pieces of these inflationary increases that we're seeing is the price of fuel.

We know this is going to be a tough summer because driving season just started. And we know that there will be continued upward pull on demand.


SAENZ: Now the White House has also said they are considering a range of options to try to lower some of these prices. Energy Secretary Granholm in that same interview said that one thing being discussed was the possibility of pausing the gas tax, though she did say that that may be difficult to do since that tax pays for so many road and infrastructure projects.


Now a little bit later this week Granholm will also be hosting a meeting where she's invited the executives of seven oil refining companies as they're trying to find ways and discuss ways to lower those gas prices -- Pamela.

BROWN: All right. Arlette, thanks so much.

Camila, bringing you in. What is causing so many delays on this busy travel weekend?

CAMILE BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pam. there are a lot of people traveling. In fact the TSA is saying that they screened about 2.4 million passengers on Friday. That's the highest number that they've seen since the Sunday after Thanksgiving. The problem is that the airlines just cannot keep up, and there are a number of reasons for this. One of them being weather problems. The other a shortage in staff.

There are complications in terms of infrastructure and the challenges there. So everything added up means more and more cancellations. As you said between Friday and today, more than 3,000 flights already canceled and more are expected this summer. Airlines already announcing cancellations for the next couple of months. Airlines like Southwest and Delta.

Southwest also even saying they need to hire about 10,000 people and they just have not been able to do that. Pilots speaking out through their unions saying they're frustrated and they're tired. But so are the fliers, the passengers whose flights are being canceled. I spoke to one of them and here's what she told me.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm trying to get back and I was supposed to be taking Alaska Airlines, but they said that the flight was cancelled because of -- they're short of staffs. They said they short of pilots, cabin crew, you know, all kinds of shortage they have now.


BERNAL: And she spent four hours on the phone with Alaska Airlines trying to reschedule that canceled flight. Unfortunately there are many other passengers this summer that are going to be experiencing very similar scenarios -- Pam.

BROWN: All right. Camila Bernal, Arlette Saenz, thank you both.

You are in the CNN NEWSROOM on this Sunday. Up next, multiple people shot, one person dead after a shooting in the heart of Las Vegas. What investigators are saying sparked the violence.

And then shocking video from New Hampshire. A 70-foot yacht completely engulfed in flames, as you see right here. Also tonight helping the hungry. Meet the North Carolina chef who is helping feed Ukrainian refugees and meeting a lot of special people along the way.

Plus we are counting down to the "JUNETEENTH: CELEBRATION FOR FREEDOM" airing right here on CNN. We have Grammy Award winning jazz pianist Robert Glasper. He's joining us live from the concert. And we'll be right back.



BROWN: Well, there's been another deadly weekend in America with gun violence reported in every corner of the country.

CNN's Miguel Marquez has the latest for us this evening.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Pam, sadly, it's another typical weekend of gun violence in America. Among other places, Chicago, Vegas, South Carolina, Virginia and New York City, all seeing violence from guns this weekend. In Chicago 32 people were shot, three are dead in 22 separate incidents. In one of them, the guy was just sitting on his front porch on Friday evening when he was shot and killed.

In Las Vegas, there was a shooting at the very busy, very touristy Fremont Street area. That's where all those downtown casinos are. One person was shot, several others injured there. In South Carolina, two people are dead after a shooting at a nightclub there. And in New York City, one person is dead, two others shot at a home in Queens.

And Tyson's Corner Mall in Virginia just outside of Washington, D.C. This is -- it's a very, very big, very busy mall. A fight broke out there. There was shooting that occurred during the fight. It prompted an evacuation. While nobody was shot or killed in the shooting, several people were injured as they tried to escape.

And look, most of these do not amount to mass shootings incidents. That's four or more people shot or killed in a single incident. But the Gun Violence Archives says that we are on record to beat last year's record pace. We are at 273 mass shootings so far this year. All of this as Congress is inching toward gun reform. The bill that's making its way forward doesn't really please both sides very much. But it may be the most that this Congress has done in quite some time and may come to a vote in the next week or two.

Then there's the Supreme Court. It could decide as soon as this week on a controversial case that would allow states to make it easier to carry concealed weapons. That case will certainly be watched in states like here, here in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, California, Hawaii, and Massachusetts -- Pam.

BROWN: All right. Thanks so much, Miguel.

And we should note that this is the sad reality of America right now. The number of mass shootings Miguel mentioned has now risen to 275, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

Well, take a look at this footage right here from New Hampshire state police. A 70-foot yacht engulfed in flames. Three people and two dogs had to jump over board. Boaters nearby rescued them. No one was hurt fortunately. But the yacht, as you can imagine, is doomed. It eventually sank off the coast of Maine. No word on what caused that fire.

Up next, on this Sunday, this Father's Day and Juneteenth, as Americans face soaring inflation and a rate hike from the Federal Reserve, the president and his advisers insist a recession isn't inevitable. How does that messaging land ahead of the midterms?



BROWN: Americans are paying more for less. The stock market took a weeklong tumble. Mortgage rates spiked and the Fed made its biggest interest rate hike in decades. The White House has one message when it comes to recession fears.


JANET YELLEN, TREASURY SECRETARY: Well, I don't think a recession is inevitable.

HEATHER BOUSHEY, WHITE HOUSE COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISER: One of the reasons it's not inevitable is because families and businesses are starting off from a strong position.

GRANHOLM: A recession is not inevitable.

BRIAN DEESE, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL DIRECTOR: Not only is a recession no inevitable but I think that a lot of people are underestimating those strengths the resilience of the American economy.


BROWN: I'm joined now by a pair of CNN political commentators, Republican strategist Alice Stewart and Democratic strategist Maria Cardona.

Ladies, always great to see you and have you on the show.


BROWN: Maria, what do you make of this messaging here, hey, this bad outcome might not happen? In your view how can the White House do a better job reassuring Americans on this number one issue?


CARDONA: It is so tough right now. The economic environment is one of the hardest things that Democrats are facing going into the midterm elections. There really is no other messaging that they can use, Pam. I mean, can you imagine if they sit here and say, yes, I actually think a recession is possible? There's no way they would ever say that. But plus, I do think that what they're saying in terms of the economic fundamentals is absolutely right.

There were a myriad of states, 17 I think, that hit the lowest unemployment rate that they've had in decades. That is good news so the underlying fundamentals of the economy are really strong. That doesn't give, you know, you or I or Alice or people, you know, working people, families that are struggling every time they go and fill up the pump or try to go get groceries, right, that doesn't make them feel any better. But it is the truth. And they have to be saying things like a recession is not inevitable because people need to understand that there are still things as -- I don't know.

As little as they might be that this administration can do. Plus I think what they're trying to do as well, and I think is important, is message to the American people that this should also be something that Republicans should be helping them to fix. And when they look at what Republicans are trying to do, there are zero solutions there, Pam. The only thing that Republicans are doing is trying to blame this administration and blocking every single thing that could bring some kind of solution to the economy.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, bless Maria for towing the Democratic Party line. Look --

CARDONA: Or the truth.

STEWART: What she's actually saying is you can't blame us the Democrats for saying that we're not heading into a recession even if it's not true. This is the same administration and the same talking point writers that were saying that inflation was transitory. Here we are a year and a half in, we're still facing terrible inflation and you look at the numbers, the Real Clear Politics average of people's view of how President Biden is handling the economy. It's at 33 percent. 33 percent, that's terrible.

And the big question as you head into any election is you asked voters, do you feel better? How are you feeling about your economic situation in life? And do you approve of where you are? 22 percent say they're not in favor, they don't have confidence in the direction of this country. That's not bad. And Republicans don't want this. This is -- I mean, Republicans are going to the pump. We're paying $5 a gallon for gas just like the Democrats are and they certainly don't want things to head in this direction.

BROWN: I do want to ask, though, because we are seeing inflation go up all over the world, right, I mean, U.K., the U.K. is also seeing the highest inflation rate in 40 years. And no doubt gas prices were rising before the war in Ukraine. But if Republicans were in the White House, I mean, what would they have done differently for the prices to be lower than they are now?

STEWART: Well, certainly the Biden administration missed an opportunity or took away an opportunity when it comes to gas and energy production by imposing burdensome federal regulations on domestic energy production. The regulations imposed by this administration did not help things on the front end and certainly as we have gotten into Ukraine, it made matters much worse.

And Republicans would have supported domestic energy production and put policies in place that would help Americans. And there's a proposal on the table to give gas credit cards or credits. And the Biden administration didn't do so.

Look, I think there's an opportunity if we want to look at reducing the gas tax or putting a pause on gas tax. That is a good step forward. But something has to be done. And continuing to blame this on Putin, the American people see through that. BROWN: Is there -- is that a missed opportunity for the Biden

administration to not give out these gas rebate cards?

CARDONA: Well, I think that there is still going to be some opportunities for this administration and this Congress to do something. And I am hoping that Republicans will actually join us. I doubt it because I think they actually do enjoy this because the only thing that they like to do is to blame the Democrats. And look, the fact of the matter is, now it's my turn to bless my friend, Alice, that on the energy production, there are tons of licenses of permits that are not being used that this administration has given out and are not being used.

It is a fact that oil companies are having major, major profits on the backs of the people who are trying to go and fill up their gas tanks. And when there was an opportunity for Republicans to join Democrats to figure out a way to stop that price gouging, they said no. They turned their back. What does that tell me? They're not interested in solutions.

Going into the midterms, that tells me that Republicans are only interested in blaming Biden, when in fact they know that this was majorly out of the control of one president when this is a global economic situation where in fact the United States is in the best position compared to all these other countries that you just mentioned.

BROWN: All right. I want to switch gears, get to some new CNN reporting before I let you ladies go.


This reporting is that U.S. officials are worried about Russian meddling in the midterms specifically by aiming to erode faith in America's election integrity.

Alice, such a huge portion of the Republican Party already has no faith in the system in large part because of Donald Trump and others parroting the lie that the 2020 election was stolen. What do you -- I mean, do you think Russia would have a much harder time doing this if that lie was never pushed, these conspiracies were never pushed in the first place?

STEWART: Sure. When they see a leak in the system or an avenue to find division in the American political system and confidence, they're going to move full speed ahead right into that. And yes, the GOP led efforts to discredit the integrity of our election, provides them perfect fodder for doing so. And I wish it would stop. I think the most important thing we can do as a party and as a country is to restore confidence in the election process and make sure people get out and vote.

But no doubt, no question about it, Russia is going to use this midterm election and 2024 to find areas of division and capitalize on that. They do this all the time. Hacking systems and bragging about them and taking credit for it. They just want to show the American people that they have influence in the election regardless of the party. But they do want to have an impact on elections.

BROWN: But, Maria, do you think that Democrats, the White House should be sounding the alarm more about this? Similar to how they sounded the alarm with like, hey, Russia is going to invade Ukraine. Russia is going --


BROWN: You know, we heard that repeatedly. Do Democrats need to do the same here?

CARDONA: I think they should. But there's also a danger in that we don't want to scare people to make them believe less in our elections, right. So there is a balancing act that you have to follow there. Going into the midterm elections, I agree with Alice, there's no question that Russia is going to do everything that they can to continue to sow division in our country. They did it so easily in 2016 and tried to do it again in 2020.

The misinformation and disinformation is out there. And I do wish that Republicans especially those that are still supporting the big lie would understand how incredibly dangerous this is. But the fact of the matter is, and sadly, they don't care. And so many of them, Pam, are now in positions to take -- the candidates who have won over 100 of them are supporters of the big lie and they are in positions to now be able to make decisions on those elections.

That should be terrifying and that is what we need to be -- continue to be talking about the safety in our elections.

BROWN: All right. Alice Stewart, Maria Cardona, thank you both.

CARDONA: Thanks, Pam.

STEWART: Thanks, Pam.

BROWN: Well, you're in the CNN NEWSROOM on this Sundays. We're going to take you live to the Hollywood Bowl. Ahead of tonight's Juneteenth celebration. That's next.



BROWN: Well, just a short time from now, CNN will broadcast the first ever worldwide special "JUNETEENTH: A GLOBAL CELEBRATION FOR FREEDOM." The event will feature a long list of black artists and visionaries as they observe America's newest federal holiday.

CNN's Sara Sidner is at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. Things just getting started there, Sara. What can you tell us?

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We are still listening to sound check. It is the most fabulous group of people who have come together for this. We have including the all-black orchestra called the Re-Collective. It's the first time they've had an all-black orchestra play here in the Hollywood Bowl.

I want you to see, though, the Hollywood Bowl. This is something that is iconic L.A. It is a huge venue nestled in the hills of the Hollywood Hills. It is one of my favorite spots in this town. But it is a spot that anyone, anywhere across the world can enjoy because this is going to be live on television. Literally globally. And there are so many different acts. And one of the things that people really wanted to show off here is they know that this is a celebration, right.

It is a time to celebrate the freedom of African slaves who had been enslaved for two and a half years longer than others after the Emancipation Proclamation. And so it is supposed to be joyous but it's also supposed to be a time to teach. To teach the history, to teach American history. To teach black American history and to show you that black folks can do it all. They're all different genres from country to jazz to pop.

We've got Earth Wind and Fire we've been listening to who is still incredible, can hit those high notes. So you're going to see a real wonderful collection of human beings here. All black folks. This is put on by a black producer, a black director. It really shows the gamut of what black people can do in this country and where they came from, the difficulties that they were able to overcome.

And so that will be a part of this as well. We will also hear from some of our leaders and people that you know very well including President Joe Biden and Vice President Harris, as well as Michelle Obama. They are all speaking.

You are listening to some of the singing that you are going to hear. There's gospel as well. But this is just really it is a time for everyone in America to learn about this history and to enjoy themselves. I mean, this is going to be a lot of fun. There will be dancing, there will be poetry. There will be music as you can hear from all different genres.


SIDNER: All put on by black folks.


BROWN: Yes. It's beautiful music. Oh, my goodness. Can't wait to tune in to this.

Sara Sidner, thank you so much.

And Juneteenth on CNN hosted by Don Lemon starts at the top of the hour followed by "JUNETEENTH: A GLOBAL CELEBRATION FOR FREEDOM" at 8:00.

Well, this is just the second year that Juneteenth has been a federal holiday. And many people are still learning more about the history of Juneteenth. In fact CNN has a quiz right now on our home page. Ten questions all about the holiday. And here's one, which state was the first to recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday? We're going to bring you the answer to that later on in the show.

And you're in the CNN NEWSROOM. Russian missiles destroyed a train carrying food supplies from World Central Kitchen. A volunteer with that organization joins me live next to talk about their important work.



BROWN: Celebrity chef Jose Andres says a Russian missile strike on the train hauling food for Ukrainians won't stop his organization's mission. A Russian missile blew up the World Central Kitchen food train last week in eastern Ukraine. Andres tweeted that nobody was hurt and only one wagon of food was lost.

I want to bring in Ernie Adler. He just returned Thursday from Poland where he was helping feed Ukrainian refugees through Chef Andres' program.

Hi, Ernie. Good to see you again. We spoke on the show before you went overseas. Now you are back, just got back Thursday. Tell us what was that experience like.

ERNIE ADLER, VOLUNTEER, WORLD CENTRAL KITCHEN'S "CHEFS FOR UKRAINE": Well, first, today is actually a tough day because think about it, it's Father's Day and we're celebrating fathers and kids are celebrating fathers. And imagine standing at the trains when they would come in in the afternoon and at night and moms would come off with their kids, and my thought process was always, how did these kids say good-bye to their fathers, to their grandfathers, to their brothers who are fighting because they're all staying behind in Ukraine. So this is a -- this is a tough day for everyone.

BROWN: Yes, it certainly is. And I think that's so important you make that point because their fathers stayed behind to fight in Ukraine. Just going back, what inspired you to go to Poland and volunteer?

ADLER: So, originally when we spoke a few weeks ago my background, my ancestors came from Poland and Ukraine and Russia. And I have been a student of history, in Russian history, back to college days. And when the war first broke out, it really kind of hit home. And I thought, like a lot of other charities I could write a check and let somebody else do the heavy lifting. And I decided that it was time for me to do some of that heavy lifting myself because somebody has to do it.

I'm familiar with World Central Kitchen and some of their relief efforts throughout the world. And being a cook I thought it was a great opportunity for me to go over there and feed people because at the end of the day, that's the one thing that connects all people everywhere. We all have to eat every day.

BROWN: It's so true. You blogged your entire trip on your Web site, and then in one entry on June 8th, it was titled "Here is Why I'm Here." And you met this 9-year-old refugee. Tell us about her. ADLER: So there was a train that came in about 9:00 every night. It

didn't always run on time. But they would come in and it would pass through border security. Then it would come right over to World Central Kitchen, had a tent set up and they would come in to us and we had hot food and cold food and toys for the kids. Immediately I spotted this beautiful little girl, and I could tell her mom was having a tough time. She was just tired.

But like all the moms they were just trying to hold it together and keep the kids happy. And the kids seem like they had a pretty good disposition. But right away she came up to me and she had a beautiful little drawing that I could just tell, I've got kids myself, s was working on it maybe for the entire train trip. And behind us, we had a bulletin board and there were other pictures from other kids. And she wanted to take a picture and I did all I could not to break down.

BROWN: We're showing the picture right here on the screen. It is just precious. What did Ukrainian refugees --

ADLER: And there were kids --


BROWN: Go ahead.

ADLER: Yes. There were kids like that all the time. I mean, boys, girls. Teenagers. You know, anyone who is fighting age has to stay over there. But it was just heartbreaking to see all these kids without a father, without a brother, without a grandfather.

BROWN: And, you know, we were talking in the break before this segment and you were saying just how emotionally spent you are after being over there and seeing all these kids. These families struggling. You know, their husbands and fathers still fighting in Ukraine. Tell us what it's like for you as you sort of decompress from this trip.

ADLER: It's hard because being a student of history, and then at the end of my trip I went to Auschwitz, and then touring that. And I'm standing there, thinking in the middle of the past history and the current history, how is this happening? How is the world letting this happen? And in past years we've had Syria, we've had Afghanistan, and we just keep repeating these things over and over and over again. And it's got to stop. It's got to stop for humanity's sake. And it's hard to wrap my head around that.

BROWN: Yes. I understand that feeling totally.

Ernie Adler, thanks for being on and Happy Father's Day to you.

ADLER: Thank you.

BROWN: We are just a short time away from our Juneteenth celebration right here on CNN. A live preview from one of the performers, Grammy Award winning pianist, Robert Glasper, up next.


BROWN: Welcome back. Earlier in the show we asked you this question. As more people learn about Juneteenth which state was the first to recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday? The answer is Texas. Juneteenth commemorates June 19th, 1865 when a union major informed slaves in Texas of their freedom from slavery more than two years after former President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.


Well, in just about an hour CNN will kick off its inaugural Juneteenth concert at the Hollywood bowl and a slate of black artists are getting ready to take the stage to celebrate and highlight the ongoing fight for equality. And the lineup includes legendary artists such as Chaka Khan and the Roots and my next guest, Grammy-winning jazz pianist and producer, the legendary Robert Glasper.

Hi, Robert. Thank you so much for coming on. Look, you have become a force --


BROWN: -- in black music today. You have worked with so many cultural icons from Erykah Badu to Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar. I mean, what's it like being here with us today to celebrate Juneteenth and black freedom on such an enormous stage?

GLASPER: It's amazing. It's just showing the lineage and how far we have come, you know, in standing on our shoulders of our ancestors, and you know, being the product of their blood, sweat and tears, and being here to celebrate them. It's amazing.

BROWN: What does it mean to you personally?

GLASPER: It is exactly that. You know, to quote a Maya Angelou poem, she says, I am a hope of the dream of the slaves. You know, I am the hope and the dream of the slaves so I feel like I am here because of them and I will be the same thing -- as a friend of mine says I will also be someone's ancestor. You know? My friend (INAUDIBLE). So it's one of those things where, you know, I'm on their shoulders and that somebody else is going to be standing on my shoulders and that the lineage of who we are, you know.

BROWN: Yes. Definitely. And it's so important to remember, you know, this is a celebration to look how far the country has come but also how far the country has to go. Right?

GLASPER: Absolutely.

BROWN: You know, you are primarily known as a jazz artist. I know jazz played a crucial role in the Civil Rights Movement of the '50s and the '60s. Do you see your music playing a similar role in the fight for racial justice today?

GLASPER: Absolutely. I feel like, you know, we do have something to fight for. There are things still happening. Like you said, we've come a long but we still have a long way to go so we do have things that are happening now that are affecting us in real time and definitely affects my art and affects me as a person, as a black man, as a father, as an artist. So I try to portray that into my -- put that into my work, you know what I mean? And try to, you know, definitely inspire other people with my work, you know, in that regard. So for sure, it's definitely -- yes.

BROWN: You're going to be with quite a group. Tonight's concert will feature a star-studded lineup. You have Chaka Khan, Jill Scott, Quest Love, Mickey Guyton, Killer Mike. More than that. I mean, that's just a few names. Is there any artist that you are particularly excited to be sharing the stage with?

GLASPER: Yes. I saw that Bell Biv DeVoe is going be here, so that's a childhood -- New Edition was my childhood favorite group of all time, you know what I mean? So to share the stage with Bell Biv DeVoe is definitely something I'm looking forward to, for sure. I don't know if that was a secret or not but the dressing room is right next door so the secret is out.

BROWN: Oh, the secret is out. All right. Well, now we all know. Thanks for that.

GLASPER: Absolutely.

BROWN: Even more reason to watch tonight, right?

GLASPER: For sure.

BROWN: So can you give us any hints about what you have in store for us?

GLASPER: Yes, I have an amazing orchestra, all-black orchestra conducted by Derrick Hodge and we're going to do a song from one of my earlier albums called "Enoch's Meditation," and I have an amazing artist named D Smoke with me. We're going to do a song from my latest record "Black Radio III," a song called "Shine." And have an amazing poet named Amir Sulaiman, and we're going to do a song -- well, he does a poem, kind of came up with it, he came up in a little spot in one of my shows and he's just like something you've just never experienced before.

So I'm really excited to share this little thing with the world. This is something we've never done before. So I'm really excited.

BROWN: Yes. Well, we are, too. And just very quickly, what are you looking forward to most besides who you were just talking about -- to share the stage with?

GLASPER: I'm looking forward to my dad seeing me on CNN tonight live on Juneteenth. I think that makes him proud. It is Father's Day. Happy Father's Day to all fathers. You know, I'm a proud father. You see my shirt. My daughter Lola, my son Riley.

BROWN: Representing. GLASPER: I'm on a shirt at last Father's Day.

BROWN: That's so cute.

GLASPER: Yes, it's -- yes, it's just awesome to do this on Father's Day on Juneteenth, you know. All good things.

BROWN: Well, listen, Happy Father's Day to you. Happy Father's Day to your dad. Happy Father's Days to all the dads out there.

Robert Glasper, thank you so much.

GLASPER: Absolutely. Thank you. Appreciate you. Thank you.

BROWN: And Juneteenth on CNN hosted by Don Lemon is up next, followed by "JUNETEENTH: A GLOBAL CELEBRATION FOR FREEDOM" at 8:00.

Thank you so much for joining me this evening. I'm Pamela Brown. And I'll see you again next weekend.