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2024 GOP Candidates Converge On Iowa This Weekend; Former VP Mike Pence Hops A Harley On Iowa Campaign Stop; U.S., China Point Fingers After Ships Nearly Collide In The Taiwan Strait; Interview With Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL); India Train Crash The Worst In Decades; Captive Russian Soldiers; Thousands Live In RVs. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired June 04, 2023 - 16:00   ET



PAULA REID, CNN HOST: He was able to walk across that stage. Members in the audience shouted, we love you, Brandon.

And thanks for joining me today. I'm Paula Reid. CNN NEWSROOM continues with Jim Acosta right now.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Jim Acosta in Washington.

We begin this hour with politics as this weekend comes to an end. The race for the White House is taking shape and getting much more crowded. This weekend nearly the entire Republican field of presidential candidates and likely candidates campaigned at an influential event in Des Moines, Iowa, with one notable exception, former President Donald Trump who skipped the gathering.

Iowa of course is the first in the nation event for the Republican's nominating process. One person in attendance, former Vice President Mike Pence, who is expected to announce his candidacy in Des Moines in a few days. Also this week former New Jersey governor Chris Christie is expected to enter the crowded race. Already in the running, we should note, of course, is Nikki Haley, former South Carolina governor. Tonight CNN hosts a primetime town hall with her.

And CNN's Jeff Zeleny is in Des Moines at the site of tonight's event.

Jeff, it's a lot to keep track of already this early in the process. It's starting to feel like a real campaign out there in Iowa, isn't it?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: It definitely is, Jim. And certainly Republicans are eager to win back the White House. The question is with which candidate. So we are in the beginning of the season where activists and voters who are really paying attention to this process are sizing up this big field of candidates. And as you are saying there, this field is getting bigger and bigger as the weeks go on here.

By the middle of this coming week, 10 candidates will be in the race, of course including former President Donald Trump. He was the only candidate who is not in Iowa yesterday but he was here earlier in the week so we are getting a sense of really this divide in the Republican Party between the people who are supporting Trump and people who are looking for an alternative.

After the event yesterday, when Senator Joni Ernst, Iowa's Republican senator who hosted all of these candidates, we had a little conversation with her about the need of the party, should they look forward or backward?


ZELENY: Senator, you said that voters here and Republicans are hungry for change. What's the balance in your party do you think of people who want to turn the page and move forward versus turn back to Donald Trump?

SEN. JONI ERNST (R-IA): I think there are a lot of folks that want to move forward. I know that President Trump has a great base here, it is strong, but at the same time people don't want to hear about what has happened in the past because we've had two years of a Biden administration that is just destroying our nation. And so they want to know what are the future decisions that will turn our country around and who is going to lead us forward.


ZELENY: Now Senator Ernst is not planning on endorsing a candidate in this race. And she did acknowledge of course there is a strong base of support for the former president. But you can just hear there in her words, in her message, she is reflecting what she's hearing from her constituents and voters.

There is an appetite, a hungering to move forward and to talk about issues to win back the White House and focus on the Biden administration, not the last election. So we will see of course if that happens. As we know former President Donald Trump often wants to look backward, not forward.

So, Jim, that is really one of the central frames of this campaign here that we'll see play out over the next several months.

ACOSTA: Yes, I'm hearing that word a lot, forward, Jeff. And Mike Pence will be on a CNN town hall stage this week as well. What's the dynamic going to be like as he prepares to run against his former boss?

ZELENY: Well, Jim, it's really extraordinary seeing a former vice president running against a former president. That in and of itself would be historic, but the relationship of course between these two gentlemen is really without precedent in history. All of course because of what's culminated in the violence on January 6th.

But the former vice president, Mike Pence, as we've seen him out campaigning, he's talking about conservative principles. He's talking about spending. He's even talking about Social Security and how Republicans need to be the party of fiscal discipline.

It is an uphill climb for him, there's no doubt about it. And many people in the Trump base simply don't like him. But other Republicans, he was received very well yesterday actually. I was taking note of that. So he'll be announcing here on Wednesday.

And Jim, as the summer heats as does this campaign.

ACOSTA: All right. Jeff Zeleny, good luck tonight. Thanks very much.

Former Vice President Mike Pence previewed his upcoming announcement yesterday in Iowa at the Annual Roast and Ride event in Des Moines.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: And I don't have anything to announce today but I can tell you, when I got time to announce come this Wednesday, I'm announcing in Iowa.


ACOSTA: Pence then donned a leather vest and saddled up on a Harley, the only likely or declared candidate to go for a spin.

Tom LoBianco joins us now.


He is the national political reporter for "The Messenger," a newspaper based in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Am I right about that?


ACOSTA: You're national. Yes.

LOBIANCO: We just launched about a month ago.


LOBIANCO: And I urge, if you want to learn more about it, there's a great piece in "Vanity Fair" that just published about a week ago with our CEO Jimmy Finkelstein.

ACOSTA: OK. That's right. OK. I read something here, I don't think that was quite correct. But you're also the author of --

LOBIANCO: I was in Iowa yesterday.

ACOSTA: You were in Iowa yesterday. You're also the author of "Piety and Power: Mike Pence and the Taking of the White House." Going back to those images of Mike Pence on the Harley that might not be such an easy ride for the former vice president based on what Jeff Zeleny was saying and based on what we know what took place at the end of the Trump administration. I mean, you know, that is still very fresh in a lot of voters' minds out there, both good and bad for Mike Pence. LOBIANCO: Yes. You know, I was actually on the back of a pickup truck

where the, you know, there are members of the press corps. Kate from CNN and other campaign embeds watching Mike Pence, getting some great shots of Pence and Joni Ernst, riding into the Iowa state fair. Nice smooth ride with the other veterans there. That's probably going to be the smoothest faces as he prepares to launch.

Obviously there's a great town hall coming up on Wednesday in Des Moines with Dana. It's a question now, you know, I'm looking at him, you know, how he's going to handle this. How does he talk about January 6th? You know Trump -- there's so much around Trump. Pence never puts a lot out there. And, you know, fair or not, this is central to his story. And we've heard a little bit about it but not a lot.

ACOSTA: And he's almost afraid to take credit for something that a lot of Americans give him credit for, which is standing firm and going ahead and counting the electoral votes there on January 6th and finishing that job. And yet it seems that he's reluctant. He'll get out there and say the former president was wrong in terms of what he has said about the 2020 election results but it's almost as though he knows in the back of his mind he can only go so far with that base.

LOBIANCO: What's so ironic about it is that you look -- what is a campaign? A campaign is IDing voters, putting yourself out there, gaining recognition, getting the attention. The attention accompanying. Pence in a weird way because of January 6th, he almost as much as Trump is a known quantity at this point, unlike people like Vivek Ramaswamy, for instance, or Doug Burgum, who, you know, it sounds like he's going to be announcing soon, the North Dakota governor.

What's kind of -- if you look at the flipside of this, Pence in a weird way has like already identified the people who are not with him and you don't have to cater to them. And he's never going to get them. So the next question is, can he get 40 percent to 50 percent? And this is, you know --

ACOSTA: And the polling is not encouraging. I mean, in an aggregate of three national polls, he's only at 4 percent.


ACOSTA: The highest of the three candidates expected to announce this week but still a very distant third behind Trump and DeSantis. And it seems as though if you're in the party right now and you're looking for an alternative to Trump, it is DeSantis at the moment. Obviously a lot can change.

LOBIANCO: Yes. You know, if you look at the thinking among strategists now and what we've been seeing in the field and why you have such an expansive field is this idea, there's kind of two X factors right now. You know, will Trump and DeSantis smash each other to bits? And, you know, if DeSantis gets smashed to bits, do the old line conservatives migrate to other people like Pence, perhaps Haley, perhaps Senator Tim Scott? But the second part of that, too, is, and this is really the bigger

one, what happens when, you know, the, quote-unquote, "real indictments" come? You know, and we're not talking about Manhattan and the, you know, the Alvin Bragg case here but federal probe into some serious, and we have some great reporting -- my former colleague, our colleagues here at CNN on these classified documents, you know, stuff that we're starting to hear more and more about.

And you hear from Republicans not named Trump, from the strategist on the other campaigns, they're waiting to see if that creates the opening. And there's just -- it's a huge X factor at the moment.

ACOSTA: Yes. No question about it. And Pence has just said he doesn't have much to worry about. The Justice Department basically putting it out there that, nope, you don't have much to worry about with this document investigation, not so much the case with the former president. We'll have to wait to see how that plays out.

Tom LoBianco, great stuff as always. Thanks so much.

And as Tom mentioned, Dana Bash will moderate a CNN Republican presidential town hall with former Vice President Mike Pence live from Iowa. That's on Wednesday night at 9:00 Eastern.

Thanks so much to Tom for joining us.

But first tonight, live from Iowa, Jake Tapper moderates a CNN Republican presidential town hall with former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley. That starts tonight at 8:00 Eastern only on CNN.


Moving on to other news, new today, we are now getting our first look at a near collision between U.S. and Chinese military vessels in the Taiwan Strait. This video shot by global news shows a Chinese warship cut in front of a U.S. Navy destroyer yesterday. The Pentagon says the two ships came within 150 yards of colliding. A razor thin distance from vessels of that size.

And CNN Pentagon correspondent Oren Liebermann joins us now.

Oren, this is the second close military encounter between the two countries in two weeks. I know you're traveling there in France right now with the marking of D-Day coming up, the anniversary of D-Day, but the Pentagon has to be seriously considering and viewing the situation with China right now after what just occurred.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Of course, especially with the amount of focus DOD already places on China before this incident. And it's not just this incident, right? As you pointed out, this is what they view as a pattern of aggression by China, this just being the latest instance of that.

When the U.S. and Canadian ships were traveling through the Taiwan Strait, an area that's of course very sensitive to China, but that U.S. and international law view as international waters, where commercial shipping can go, crucially where U.S. and other warships can travel because it is an open waterway.

China viewing it very differently, however, cutting about 150 yards in front of the U.S. warship and then circling back to cut in front of it again about 2,000 yards, fairly small distances, especially in naval terms. That's why the U.S. views this so seriously.


COL. DAVE BUTLER, JOINT STAFF SPOKESMAN: There's great risk to safety. The safety of mariners. We don't seek a confrontation with China, but those mariners out there were clearly acting in an unsafe way. We were operating in the international laws of the sea, the rules of the road, so to speak, which is again internationally accepted and the Chinese were acting unsafe.


LIEBERMANN: For the U.S. this is part of keeping a free and open Indo- Pacific. For China an entirely different narrative behind this same incident. The Chinese defense minister speaking just hours after this at a defense conference in Singapore, said the U.S. was being provocative in doing this, viewing the Taiwan Strait largely as Chinese sovereignty or Chinese territory that comes and should come under their influence.

And that's where we see the similarity with the last incident just two weeks ago where a U.S. reconnaissance aircraft was traveling in international airspace. China intercepted it and came very close there. Again, you see that pattern, Jim, of trying to establish their sovereignty or influence over that area.

ACOSTA: And Oren, you're in Normandy for the 79th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. I've been there to cover those ceremonies. It's just a remarkable thing to see. General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is there as well. What message did he have?

LIEBERMANN: Jim, if you've been here you know how much of a celebration this is. We're actually standing quite far from the center of town here, one of the first towns to be liberated after D-Day because the party is still going on behind us here. But General Mark Milley spoke earlier in the day. His message very relevant to today as well as to World War II, placing a lot of emphasis not only of course on the heroism and the bravery of the paratroopers who landed here, but also on the importance of the alliances that made that possible.

At the time, the U.S., the U.K., Canada and others, and now when you look at different place you see those same sorts of alliances and partnerships, especially in the Indo-Pacific, when it's the U.S., South Korea, Australia and others -- Jim.

ACOSTA: All right. Oren Liebermann, in Normandy, thanks so much. Really appreciate that.

The near collision between the two navy ships is just the latest in a growing number of conflicts between the U.S. and China. Democratic Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois is the ranking

member of what's been dubbed the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party.

Congressman, great to see you. What do you make of this incident? Is this something that should be of great concern over at the Pentagon? What's your view on this?

REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL): Yes. And it's, you know, unfortunately it stems from two problems. One is process and one is substantive. In terms of process, the Chinese Communist Party has rebuffed nearly a dozen attempts by the Pentagon to have high-level dialogue and talks and communication between us and them to avoid miscalculation. And that only causes the likelihood of more near misses.

And then the second is more substantive and that is the Chinese Communist Party believes that it has sovereignty over not just the Taiwan Strait but the entire South China Sea. And not only does that go against international law but the nations of the neighborhood, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, of course Australia, the U.S., Japan and others completely disagree and more than half of the world's shipping goes through that area.


And so freedom of navigation is incredibly important and we're going to continue to do what it takes to ensure freedom of navigation.

ACOSTA: And Congressman, just last night China's defense minister told an international conference that a military conflict between the U.S. and China would be catastrophic. Let's take a listen to that.


LI SHANGFU, CHINESE DEFENSE MINISTER: It is undeniable that a severe conflict or confrontation between China and the U.S. will be an unbearable disaster for the world. China believes that a major country should behave like one. The world is big enough for countries including China and the U.S. to grow together.


ACOSTA: Congressman, China is saying one thing but its actions seem to be saying something completely different. What are your thoughts on this?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: I agree. I think that for some reason the CCP believes that not having dialogue and having this very dangerous behavior on the part of its vessels and its aircraft will somehow discourage us from exercising, and as well as our friends and partners from exercising our freedom of navigation in that part of the world. But actually, in my humble opinion, it does the opposite.

It causes others to view the CCP as bullying its neighbors, throwing its elbow, so to speak, at its neighbors, and as a consequence it's only going to escalate tensions and potential conflict. I think that they should come to the table, meet with folks like Secretary Austin and others, and talk about how do we lower the temperature, lower tensions and lower the possibility of conflict.

ACOSTA: And at that same conference, China turned down a meeting with the U.S. defense secretary. Apparently they did shake hands. Do you think there needs to be more communication between the U.S. and China, or are we just going to continue to so these provocations with very little going on diplomatically?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: There absolutely has to be more communication. There has to be more than just a handshake between Secretary Austin and his counterpart. There has to be a dialogue and kind of an explanation of what are our positions and how do we avoid miscalculation. I -- in my humble opinion, I think the CCP needs to understand that any potential conflict will yield unimaginable consequences. Not just for the nations in the neighborhood but for the CCP itself. It's in its own best interest to resume dialogue right now.

ACOSTA: And President Biden's national security adviser told CNN today that the president will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping at some point in an effort to improve relations. What would your advice to President Biden be going into such a meeting?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Well, I -- far be it for me to give the president advice on this particular topic but I just have a couple of observations. One is we have to do everything we can to safeguard our interests, our rights, and to deter aggression on the part of anybody in the Indo-Pacific region because we cannot have a cold war or a hot war or any kind of open hostilities.

The second point is we have to figure out a way to engage, engage peacefully but with guardrails to make sure that, you know, our relationship is a win-win going forward, whether it's economically or otherwise. And we can find constructive ways to engage with the People's Republic of China in dealing with a whole host of other issues. We just got to have that dialogue, meaningful dialogue, to establish what those areas are and how do we work together.

ACOSTA: And Taiwan has been a key driver of the heightened tensions between the U.S. and China. It seems like China has become even more aggressive toward Taiwan in recent months. Is the U.S. pushback against this the right strategy, do you think?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Oh, absolutely.

ACOSTA: And the way the U.S. is going about it.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Yes. I think that the Biden administration is doing what is needed to deter aggression against Taiwan. Remember, there's something called the Taiwan Relations Act, which obligates us to help provide articles of defense for the Taiwanese people to defend themselves from the CCP. All that being said we still believe in the One China policy and we believe in the status quo, Jim.

We don't want the status quo to change. And that is an essential message that I believe the Biden administration and indeed members of Congress are trying to communicate to the CCP.


We believe it's them that are -- they are the ones who are trying to upset or change the status quo by, for instance, claiming the Taiwan Strait or the South China Seas as their as their territorial waters when, again, it contradicts international law and understandings and other treaties.

ACOSTA: All right, Congressman Krishnamoorthi, thank you so much for your time on this Sunday. We appreciate it.


ACOSTA: All right. And still ahead tonight, I'll talk about these provocative moves by China with former National Security adviser and U.N. ambassador John Bolton. But next new details into the deadly train collision in India. One crash survivor says people were left with, quote, "unimaginable injuries."

And later it's the new frontier in the fight against homelessness in Los Angeles. Thousands of people living in RVs but not always in harmony with their neighbors. We'll talk about that as well.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



ACOSTA: Officials are calling the train crash in India the worst the country has seen in decades. The death toll has been revised down to 275 as officials say some of the bodies may have counted twice. The number of injured remains over 1,000 with at least 100 people in critical care.

CNN's Ivan Watson visited a local hospital and spoke to one of the survivors.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): This regional hospital received hundreds of survivors of Friday night's terrible trail derailment. And we've been speaking with everybody in this particular room as some people lost loved ones who were on board the train when the passenger car started flipping and rolling.

This man was traveling alone, he's a 52-year-old farmer who suffered some spinal injuries. He is at least fortunate, though in pain, to be reunited with his family here while he starts to begin the difficult process of recovery.

And I spoke with a 15-year-old boy who was traveling with his mother and father and younger brothers. Both brothers have serious head injuries. UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): People who were alive were

shouting for help, praying to God. Rescues teams were doing their best to save people. A lot of people were crying.

WATSON: Outside the walls of this hospital, there are hundreds of volunteers trying to offer support to the victims. But we've also met people who are still desperately searching for missing relatives.

Now the government is offering compensation to families of the dead, as well as to people who were injured in the train crash. The government is also calling for an investigation and says it will bring to justice anybody who is responsible for this deadly catastrophe. But these measures will never be enough for somebody who has lost a loved one.

Ivan Watson, CNN, in Aricia State in eastern India.


ACOSTA: Coming up, a baby is among the reported dead after a new Russian strike in Ukraine but a Ukrainian commander tells CNN there are gains being made on the war's eastern front. We're live in Ukraine on that next.


ACOSTA: New Russian missile barrage fired near the city of Dnipro has killed a toddler and injured at least 22 others. This comes as Russian dissidence in the Belgorad region say they're handing over Russian prisoners. They captured two Ukranian authorities. The group claims to have additional captured soldiers but decline to say how many. CNN's Sam Kiley is in Eastern Ukraine. Sam, walk us through what happened here with these P.O.W.S.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, an extraordinary twist to an extraordinary week of incursions by these Russian dissidents backed by Ukraine. These are effectively Russians fighting for Ukraine in Russia.

Now, over the last week, they've carried out a number of incursions into the Oblast, the province of Belgorad. And, today, in two separate Internet posts, claimed, first of all, to have two prisoners which whom they've said they would hand over at 17:00, 5:00 p.m. local time to the local governor, the Russian governor of Belgorad, if he came in peace to a Russian village that they were holding.

Now, he responded that he would come and collect them. But come 5:00, he didn't show up. But pretty soon after that, they posted another claim showing 10 men or so, that they said were additional prisoners or that included the original prisoners plus a bunch more.

Now, we don't have any independent verification that these are, indeed, Russian prisoners, except for some reporting in the Russian media that seems to have confirmed the identity of one of them as being a professional soldier in the Russian armed forces. But the issue here, really, is that these Russian dissidents are very fast on the draw, when it comes to social media and stirring discontent inside Russia. And, that, they certainly have done -- Jim.

ACOSTA: And what can you tell us about that new strike in Ukraine? Children, yet again, among the dead and injured.

KILEY: Yes, Jim, as if we needed proof. Here it is, proof positive. Once again, civilians being systematically and deliberately targeted by Russia in main cities, or close to main cities, this close to the city of Dnipro. And a scanda (ph) missile, which carries a very substantial warhead, hitting a residential building. Twenty-two people injured. One two-year-old child's body was pulled from the rubble this morning.

And yet another tragic attack. There was a young child, a girl killed a couple of days ago, by falling debris in Kyiv. Many hundreds of children have been killed in this war in the continuing efforts by Russia to prosecute the efforts, not only to attack civilian targets but also, military targets. The Ukrainians uniquely almost to the (ph) day admitting that two airfields were also hit by the Russians -- Jim.

ACOSTA: All right. Sam Kiley, yes, you're absolutely right. Another example of civilians being targeted in Ukraine. It's happening again and again. Sam, thanks very much.

Joining us now to talk about this, and other issues with what's happening in Ukraine, CNN Military Analyst Lieutenant General Mark Hertling. General Hertling, let's start on the prisoners of war, reported prisoners of war, that will be turned over to Ukraine by pro- Ukrainian Russian dissidents.


ACOSTA: Fascinating development. What are these procedures like? What do you make of this?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST (via Webex): Very interesting, Jim. You know, first of all, these Russian dissidents, who are countering Mr. Putin, are certainly giving the Russian forces the opportunity to look in various directions on where the attack might come and where they have to defend.

So, it's causing the Russian military and the government of Russia to shift some of their defenses. To shift their focus of attention right about the time when Ukraine is going through this alleged hush campaign of not telling the Russians when they're going to attack.

But the capture of citizens, of Russian soldiers inside of Russia and looking to turn them over to government officials, is just a fascinating approach to get some new things on social media. And especially when the administrator of the town doesn't come to get them. It's another slight against Russia, saying, hey, you don't even care enough to come get your prisoners of war, so, now, we're going to turn them over to the Ukrainian authorities. ACOSTA: And, General, overnight, anti-Putin groups shelled Russia's

Belgorod region yet again. The region's governor confirmed the destruction but provided no specifics on casualties. What's your sense of that? How are these attacks impacting the war? I mean, it has to have the Russians looking over their shoulder.

HERTLING: It does. As I just said, Jim, it's giving the Russians the requirement to look in a bunch of different directions. Not only is this happening, but there are attacks going on in the South. Ukrainian forces gained about 400 meters, according to General Syrskyi, who's the commander, the Ukrainian commander of the Central Region, which is, basically, the Donbas. They gained about 400 meters in the earliest swop toff (ph) last night.

So, several things are occurring. Events are happening, in terms of this constant shaping, the potential for preparing for the operation, the film that Ukraine released, the hush campaign with everyone, you know, basically saying it's coming. It just shows a confidence that, again, the Ukrainians in an offensive can pick the time and place of their attack. Where Russia has to react to wherever Ukrainian goes. That's the advantage of the attacker, is you can pick when and where you're going to go.

So, it's very different. It's the first time, on a large scale, Ukraine has been able to do this. Russia is attempting to defend. But you can't defend everywhere. And, in fact, what the Ukrainians are trying to force Russia to do is attempt to do that. Defend north all the way through the south.

ACOSTA: And let me ask you about the report that Sam Kiley just filed a few moments ago, talking about what appears to be, yet again, another example of civilians being targeted in Ukraine. A toddler being killed and so on. I mean, the -- here we are. We're so many months into this conflict, this war in Ukraine, and there just appears to be nothing the Ukrainians really can do to prevent this from happening over and over again.

HERTLING: Well, that's not quite true, Jim. What I suggest is the Ukrainians are doing a very good job, in terms of downing multiple missiles, multiple rocket launchers into their theater. In fact, they claim that they are countering about 80 percent, which, in my view -- you know, some Americans might say, well, gee, that's - that means 20 percent is still getting through. When you're talking about air defense capabilities, that is a monstrous, a magnificent defense capability, when you're talking about a frontage that's close to 2,000 kilometers or, in fact, about 1,600 miles.

So, when you're stopping the number of missiles that Russia has launched during the month of May, which has been the hardest attack that they've executed so far, there have been almost three times as many missiles and drones launched in the last month than there was in other times during the war, it's pretty phenomenal that they are stopping.

Some are getting through. As we've always said, you can't stop everything. But the fact that the Russians continue to target civilian infrastructure, civilian apartments, hospitals, schools and that young people are dying, citizens are dying and there doesn't seem to be any military value on the targets that Russia is attempting to strike, tells you everything you know -- need to know about the fact that they're continuing to executive what would be criminal activity or war crimes.

ACOSTA: All right, Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, it's a good reminder. The Ukrainians are containing the devastation to a great extent. It's a remarkable thing, even as some of these attacks are getting through.

General, thanks so much for your time. We appreciate it. Coming up, the debate over -

HERTLING: You bet, Jim. Thank you.

ACOSTA: All right, good to see you.

And the debate over RVs and how to house the homeless in Los Angeles.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) to say that you cannot rent motor home to human beings.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They need to be on streets, right?



ACOSTA: Thousands of people are living on the streets of Los Angeles. They're not homeless. They live in recreational vehicles. Some parked in neighborhoods and that's causing some problems. CNN's Nick Watt explains.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than 11,000 people live like this across Los Angeles County, by latest count which was February of last year, in RVs. Recreational vehicles designed more for rural recreation than long-term urban living.

(on camera): It's been getting worse?


WATT (voice-over): In L.A., you are allowed to sleep in a vehicle on some streets. Where there are rules, they've become tough to enforce as the problem has grown.

LATONYA SMITH, INTERIM CEO, ST. JOSEPH'S CENTER: There might be trash everywhere. You know, and people come outside their neighborhoods and homes. That's not something that they really want to see.

WATT: We watched a friendly RV dweller and friendly house neighbor agree the trash is a problem.


WATT: Relations often aren't quite so cordial.


WATT: That was filmed by Dmitri Coricoff (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not cleaned right now.

WATT: Who says he volunteers helping people, mainly refugees, navigate L.A. van life.

(on camera): If I lived in that apartment over there and I, you know, woke up and looked at that every morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you will be disappointed and you will not like it.

WATT: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because we pay $3,000 for this apartment. But it's a public street.

WATT (voice-over): Coricoff (ph) tells people where to park. Connects them with services.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A black tank for black water and that's clean water here.

WATT: OK. So, he drives around L.A. and services the RVs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Yes. And not only him. Other companies do it, too.

WATT: City officials say some of those living in the R.V.s don't actually own them.

TRACI PARK, COUNCILWOMAN, LOS ANGELES 11TH DISTRICT: There is a thriving trade in RVs being rented out as dwelling units.

WATT (on camera): Do you know how much they go for?

PARK: A few hundred dollars to more than a thousand a month.

WATT (voice-over): Councilwoman Traci Park calls the landlords vanlords. Says many rent out rotting, unsafe RVs. Is proposing a crackdown. She has opposition.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's actually good to provide housing for people. Why not? I mean, that's legal (ph). It's (INAUDIBLE) to say that you cannot rent motor home to human beings. They need to be on streets, right? PARK: I understand the dilemma. On the other hand, I have seen too

many of these explosions and these fires. And we have got to deal with the collateral impacts that these vehicles are causing in our neighborhoods.

WATT: A pilot project in another councilwoman's district has, over 15 months or so, seen 41 RVs moved off the street and seven people placed into permanent housing. The hope is to roll that out citywide.

PARK: Her program worked beautifully.

WATT: In another L.A. district, they are now clearing particularly problematic encampments like this one next to a school, offering $500 gift cards and a motel room to the residents.

SMITH: People who living in RVs consider themselves to be housed. And in order to get them to leave the R.V., sometimes we have to incentivize.

WATT: Five years ago, L.A. County commissioned one of the many reports into how to handle the RVs. Since then, the number of RVs has actually risen by more than 50 percent. The city administrator made this stark conclusion that offering housing resources to every household is the only way the city will be able to solve RV homelessness.

SMITH: We need more housing. We need more affordable safe housing.

WATT: For now, for thousands of people, many who have jobs, an R.V.'s roof over their heads is all they can afford in Los Angeles.


ACOSTA: That was Nick Watt reporting. We'll be right back.



ACOSTA: It's an exciting night for pro-basketball fans, as Miami takes on Denver in game two of the NBA finals. CNN's Coy Wire has the latest.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Hi, Jim. This isn't a must-win for Miami but it's pretty darn close. Only five teams have been able to come back to win after taking an Zero-two hole in the finals. The heat, hoping to avoid having to do that, and bounce back tonight in game two of the NBA finals, after laying an egg in the opener in Denver. Two- time league MVP, Nikola Jokic, making his case in game one for why maybe he should have won a third-straight MVP, tallying his ninth triple double of the post season.

Jimmy Butler, though, in his worse game of the playoff so far, scoring just 13 points making it literally the perfect time to spend some time with his daughter, Riley (ph).

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JIMMY BUTLER, FORWARD, MIAMI HEAT: I'm going to do an escape room tonight. I think my guys went and saw "Spiderman" today. I'm just doing normal stuff. Because, at the end of the day, I'm as normal as they come. It's not always about basketball. It will never always be about basketball. Me and my guys are going to love me, whether I win or lose. My daughter is going to love me, whether I win or lose.


WIRE: NHL playoffs now in Vegas. The atmosphere on the strip, electric. Like Lionel Richie said, we're going to have a party all night long. Vegas looking to slay their Panthers opponents like Jonathan Marchessault slays goalies. Marchessault bearing his 10th goal in the last 11 games. Vegas, though, they wouldn't be here without the play of their goalie, Aden Hill. Look at the effort in the second period. Lunging, falling away. The dude must do yoga. A ridiculous stick save. Unreal stuff. The game was tied at two after two. But then, Zack Whitecloud fires what would be the game-winning goal pass Seragade Probaqski (ph). And five different players would end up scoring for Vegas who win five-two in game one.


MARK STONE, RIGHT WING, VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS: We don't get rattled. You know, I scored the first goal shorthanded. You know, could have been a bit of a back breaker for us. We get the next power play. We score. You know, Marchessault steps up. Stephenson makes a great play. And we just keep going. So, that's what we got to do. Can't let the momentum swing us and get too drastic in this series. Got to stay on even keel and keep going.


WIRE: The Panthers hope to even it up tomorrow night in game two. Puck drop is 8:00 Eastern on TNT.

So, Jim, both South Florida teams down zero-one. And just like the Heat, the Panthers, they don't want to lose two in a row. Because just like in the NBA, only five teams have rallied after losing the first two in the Stanley Cup final.


ACOSTA: All right. Coy Wire, thanks very much.

The violent civil war in Guatemala is long over. Yet, nearly 30 years later, the country is still struggling with the aftermath. Among those killed during the conflict was the father of this week's CNN Hero. In his memory, she helped open a library in his home town. And she noticed that many children in the rural community were living in extreme poverty. So, she started an organization dedicated to helping them build a better life. Meet Brenda Lemus.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (translated): The children come to the library looking how to do homework because they don't have the resources at home. The parents don't know how to read.

Hi, my name is.

They began to come with that desire to get ahead. Then, I began to realize that there were more obstacles that impede them from studying. We provide educational opportunities and the tools so they can break that cycle of poverty. We now have children who say they want to be engineers or that they want to be chemists.


We are hundreds of people involved. We give to people love, respect and dignity.


ACOSTA: To find out how Brenda has helped more than 2,000 kids through her community building programs, go to And while you're there, nominate your hero.

New tensions with China. An illuming county offensive in Ukraine. Putting a new focus on foreign policy is south -- former South Carolina governor, Nikki Haley, gets ready to face GOP presidential voters tonight in -- on CNN. We'll speak with former national security advisor, John Bolton, on what he'll be listening for tonight.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.