Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Death Toll Rises In Russian Missile Strike In Dnipro, Dozens Killed; Fierce Fighting In Eastern Ukraine, Cities And Towns Decimated; Dad Arrested After Toddler Caught On Camera Playing With Handgun; McCarthy, Who Touted Santos, Now Says He Had Reservations. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired January 17, 2023 - 15:30   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: The top generals for Ukraine and U.S. met in person today for the first time. General Mark Milly held talks with his Ukrainian counterpart in Poland. The focus, of course, Russia's war on Ukraine. Roughly 100 Ukrainian troops have now arrived at an Oklahoma military base to begin training on the Patriot missile defense system.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Ukraine is mourning a devastating missile attack by Russia. The death toll continues to rise from that strike on an apartment complex in Dnipro. The attack happened miles from the front lines in Ukraine's east where CNN's Ben Wedeman is right now. So, Ben, first you're in eastern Ukraine. Tell us about this situation there now.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The situation continues to be one of uncertainty about what's going on in Soledar. The Russians as of Friday claimed that they had taken that town. Ukrainians say they still control part of it. We've been in touch with soldiers who were near the front lines who say that there is some fighting still going on there but many of their troops have been pulled back.

Now the worry is that once Soledar firmly in Russian hands that the danger could go south toward the city of Bakhmut.



WEDEMAN (voice-over): Near Bakhmut's front lines lost souls wondered the streets, those who can't leave, won't leave, or have given up caring.

SVETLANA, BAKHMUT RESIDENT (through translator): I put some food on the fire, I chop some wood, says Svetlana, and decided to go out for some fresh air.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): Dmytro pays no heed to the shelling.

DMYTRO, BAKHMUT RESIDENT (through translator): This is my land, he says, I won't leave.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): The fighting echoes through the fog.

WEDEMAN: As the Russians seem to be gaining control of Soledar north of here, in Bakhmut the fighting seems to be intensifying. One local resident told us whereas before mortars were flying over their heads, now it's bullets.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): Soldiers prepare trenches inside the city. New defensive positions if the Russians push forward.

Sandbags with wood on top says Valentin and three firing positions. On the ever so slightly safer western side of the city, a make shift market offers basics. With no electricity or running water, commerce is conducted in the open.

DENYS, BAKHMUT RESIDENT (through translator): My two shops were destroyed, says Denys, so I'm selling on the street.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): But this food is only for those who can afford it. And Serhii isn't one of them.

SERHII, BAKHMUT RESIDENT (through translator): I'm living like an f'ing animal, he says.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): Ivan returns home after collecting firewood, the bitter cold is deadly as the shelling.

IVAN, BAKHMUT RESIDENT (through translator): People have frozen the death in their apartments, he says.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): On a bluff overlooking Bakhmut, this artillery officer nicknamed "Pilot," says they're up against troops, many of them convicts with the private military company Wagner.

"PILOT," ARTILLERY OFFICER (voice-over): We're fighting against soldiers brought to the slaughter, he says. These Wagner guys have no choice. They're sentenced to death.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): And then the order comes to open fire.


WEDEMAN (on camera): And as you see in that report, they're not only digging trenches inside the city. We also saw them digging trenches outside the city. One commander we spoke to said come back in two days. It's going to be even hotter. Now regarding that strike on Saturday on the apartment building in Dnipro, the death toll now stands at 45, six of them children. 19 people are still unaccounted for -- Victor, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Ben Wedeman, what a report. What a grim picture you have shown us. Thank you very much for being there.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Ben. Next, the man believed to be the father of this toddler will soon face

a judge after the child was seen waving a handgun in the hallways of an apartment complex. Stay with us.



BLACKWELL: An Indiana man was arrested after a shocking video show a young boy unattended, he's all alone here, holding a handgun. A neighbor called 911 after seeing the boy waving and pointing the weapon in this apartment hallway. The incident was caught on a doorbell camera.

CAMEROTA: Every frame of this is insane, insane. So, Shane Osborne was arrested for felony child neglect. According to court documents he said he was, quote, ill all day and did not know the child had left the apartment or had access to a gun. CNN Jean Casarez joins us now. Jean, what happened here?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, all we can say is thank goodness there are body cams, right, on the officers. Because that really tells the story. And it was the neighbors at the apartment complex that called. The report was the officers heard a person was armed. But when they get to the apartment complex, the neighbors want to talk to the police and they say it's a toddler. I want you to listen to the neighbors.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I open the door, he went to flip it up and I shut the door, told everyone to get away from the door. Like, he has a gun.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean it's a toddler in a diaper walking around with a handgun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With a handgun. It took out that long to get to him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, it takes that long for them to get here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no, I'm talking about his. [ beep ] parents upstairs.


CASAREZ: So, the officers they go right up to the apartment upstairs. They knock on the door. According to probable cause affidavits, the toddler let them in. Then a man emerges. And he's obviously been sleeping -- at least that's what the officers think. And they ask him about a gun. He said there's no gun in this apartment. He said I never have brought a gun into this apartment. He said, now my cousin every now and then keeps his gun here but it will be back in his bedroom.

The officers do just a cursory search, nothing in plain view. They leave. The neighbors continue to say there's a gun. And so then one neighbor comes just out of the blue and she's got surveillance video on her phone and it shows the baby just as you have seen in the diapers with the gun and even pulling the trigger.


So, the officers go back. They are consent to -- allow to be search. They find it in the desk with the rolling top right there. And it's very neatly placed there. And immediately the officer opens it up -- 15 bullets are in the magazine. Not one is in the chamber. And that's why you pull the trigger and the gun isn't going off. But at that point, they make a call to the on call prosecutor, the on call prosecutor says arrest him, child neglect. They do. His court appearance is on Thursday.

CAMEROTA: I mean, what a sickening sign of the times.

CASAREZ: And he says he didn't know.

BLACKWELL: When you think of all the ways that this could have gone horribly wrong. For the baby, for this man who was asleep, for the neighbors, with this toddler walking around with a gun.

CASAREZ: And what if the police left. Because they did that cursory search. They didn't see anything. And that neighbor that comes out and saying look at this, I've got it, the video.

BLACKWELL: Unbelievable. Jean Casarez, thank you for your reporting.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

So, George Santos's former roommate says the Congressman had dilutions of grandeur. Details of the latest next.



CAMEROTA: House Speaker Kevin McCarthy now admits he has some apprehensions about truth challenged GOP Congressman George Santos and that fabricated resume.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA) HOUSE SPEAKER: I never knew all about his resume or not, but I always had a few questions about it.


BLACKWELL: McCarthy has not called for Santos to resign. But today those demands from other members of Congress are growing louder. Including Democrat Ritchie Torres of New York. He just requested that the FEC launch an investigation into allegations that Santos broke campaign finance law.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. RITCHIE TORRES (D-NY): Either Mr. Santos resigns under the weight of scrutiny, or he resigns as part of a plea bargain with the U.S. attorney. Again, I'm entering the realm of speculation here, but We know that he's facing multiple investigations. But my argument to him is stop perpetuating the suffering and humiliation of your constituents. Do the right thing, resign, allow someone else who is capable of governing to fill the void. Democrat or Republican.


BLACKWELL: Joining us now is someone else calling for Santos to step down. Republican Bruce Blakeman. He's Nassau County, New York executive. Sir, thank you for being with us. These investigations, FEC, congressional, the rest of them, they can take quite a long time. Until then, what is the strategies as Congressman Torres says under scrutiny. What are you doing, what can you do?

BRUCE BLAKEMAN (R) NASSAU COUNTY, NY EXECUTIVE: Well, here in Nassau County, my office is dealing with the problem as if George Santos was not a member of Congress. We will have nothing to do with him. We can't trust him. His whole resume was built on a pack of lies.

His campaign was built on a pack of lies. Personally, I think he's delusional. And I think the sooner he realizes that his road to recovery is through him stepping down, resigning, get help, because obviously he's not normal, and then, you know, try to put your life back together.

I feel sad for George Santos. He doesn't realize the length and breadth of the untruths that he told to the people in my county. And fortunately, I have a Congressman, Anthony D'Esposito in my county, and Congressman Andrew Garbarino in my county. So, if I have issues with the federal government, I can deal with them or I can call up our majority leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, who's from New York, who always has been responsive to Nassau County.

So, we've got ways around George Santos, but for the benefit of his district, and for the benefit of his reputation, and trying to put his life back together, he should step down and get help.

CAMEROTA: Mr. Blakeman what about Speaker Kevin McCarthy's angle or I guess philosophy that this is up to the voters, the voters chose him, it's up to the voters to get rid of him in two years?

BLAKEMAN: Well, I think that the House has a role to play -- as was mentioned. There is an investigation by Ann Donnelly, our Nassau County district attorney. There is an investigation by the U.S. attorney's office for the eastern district. There is an investigation, I'm told, or at least charges have been filed in the ethics committee in the House of Representatives.

And I think that basically that's a long drawn-out process and I think that George should do the right thing. If his name is George. We don't even know that now, because I understand he used his aliases as well. So, he has to realize that his road to recovery is through resigning and getting help. BLACKWELL: So, I wonder -- and I was talking about this with the team

this morning -- is there just -- you're a lawyer, we're not lawyers, is there a fraud case here? He appealed to voters, asking them for donations to send an NYU, Baruch College, former Citi, former Goldman Sachs employee, to Congress to represent them. They gave him that money to do that and he turned out not to be that person. Is there a fraud, civil or criminal case here?

BLAKEMAN: Well, I'm not a criminal attorney, but I can tell you that from my opinion he perpetrated a fraud on the voters in his district. So, I think his behavior was fraudulent. Obviously, he knew the representations that he were making were completely untrue. So, I think that fits within the broad definition of fraud. Whether it is criminal or not, I can't tell you. I'm not a criminal attorney.


CAMEROTA: Bruce Blakeman, thank you very much for your time. Great to talk to you.

BLAKEMAN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: So, in New Mexico, police say they have arrested a former Republican state house candidate on suspicion of orchestrating shootings that targeted Democrats.


CAMEROTA: This hour, the Golden State Warriors celebrated their 2022 NBA championship with a ceremony at the White House.

BLACKWELL: The team's star guard Steph Curry presented President Biden and Vice President Harris with custom jerseys, and the group posed for, I don't know, a bit of an awkward photo here.


CAMEROTA: I don't understand the staging of this. Who let the president of the United States kneel? Why is he the one --

BLACKWELL: Oh, stick with it! He got back up and everybody applauded.

CAMEROTA: Well, he recovered. I mean, that could have gone badly.

BLACKWELL: Yes, that's good.

CAMEROTA: Somebody should have helped the president of the United States up.

BLACKWELL: The vice president was -- he asked her to come down there, she said I'm not doing that. I'll tuck back here a bit.

CAMEROTA: Good thinking.

BLACKWELL: All right, "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.