Return to Transcripts main page
Erin Burnett Outfront
Zelenskyy Warns Borodianka's Is "Much Scarier" Than Bucha; Der Spiegel: Germany Intercepted Russian Talk Of Shooting Person On Bike, And Interrogating, Then Shooting Soldiers; Report: Russian Forces With "Death Lists" Hunting Down Ukrainians; Ukraine: Sooner We Get Weapons, The More Lives Will Be Saved; Interview With NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg; Interview With White House Chief Of Staff Ron Klain. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired April 07, 2022 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: I'm Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM." I'll be back in half an hour our new streaming service, CNN Plus, called The Newscast. It's always available also on demand. Thanks very much for watching.
Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next breaking news, President Zelenskyy warning the town of Borodyanka buried in rubble tonight that it is 'much scarier' than what he saw in Bucha. This as Russian soldiers are reportedly caught on tape talking about casually killing civilians.
Plus, a couple of escapes the wrath of Russian soldiers and soldiers say they had names, a long list. Remember those kill list? Apparently they were real. Their harrowing story coming up this hour.
And video appearing to show the execution of a Russian prisoner by Ukrainian forces. What is the Biden administration saying about this tonight? The White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain will be OUTFRONT. Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news, much worse, much scarier, those are Zelenskyy's warnings tonight. The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy moments ago talking about the town of Borodyanka where 26 bodies were just discovered under the rubble of two homes. Obviously, they were, it appears, seeking shelter there. Zelenskyy says the situation is much worse and quote much scarier than in Bucha.
Bucha, of course, is home to the brutal murder of civilians that the entire world has now seen in gruesome detail. It's also around the area where the German news magazine Der Spiegel reports Russian soldiers were reportedly caught talking about killing civilians indiscriminately.
Those discussions were intercepted by the German government. They actually have the intercepts in one reported conversation, a soldier apparently tells another that they had just shot a person on a bike and we're going to have much more on this in just a moment. Also breaking this hour, we are confirming a grisly video from the Kyiv region that appears to show Ukrainian forces shooting a wounded Russian soldier.
In the video, which we will only show one still from we are not going to play the video, a man in a Russian uniform can be seen lying on the road. He is struggling to breathe. In the video, a man's voice is then heard. He's still alive and seconds later three shots are fired at the soldier.
Ukraine's Foreign Minister says any incidents that violate the rules of warfare will be investigated. This comes as new images are coming in to CNN tonight heavy shelling taking place across the Donbas region. You can see the clouds of black smoke rising there in the distance and on the ground the utter destruction of buildings in total flames.
And just slightly to the south of Donbas in Mariupol tonight, a top Ukrainian military commander tells CNN that Russian forces are trying to wipe the besieged city quote off the face of the earth. Ed Lavandera is OUTFRONT live. He is in Odessa, Ukraine in the south. And Ed, your hearing explosions where you are tonight, what more can you tell us?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, just about two hours ago, we heard two massive explosions here in the Odessa Ukraine region. And then shortly after that, we heard a barrage of air defense systems firing into the night sky as well. We don't have a lot of details on what exactly happened. Regional military officials here, Ukrainian military officials are only saying that a strategic target was hit and that's about all that they're saying at this point and we are in the curfew hours, so it's impossible to go out and verify anything at this hour.
But this really does speak to the situation that is beginning to unfold in more detail here in southern and eastern Ukraine, where the great deal of the focus is now becoming. In eastern Ukraine, in the Donetsk region, we are hearing reports of increased fighting, including attacks on a railway line that is essentially the lifeline for people to be able to escape some of these areas in the east.
This railway line was attacked. We understand that at a railway station, there are about 500 evacuees that are trapped there as well. And we have spent the last couple of days, Erin, traveling through the south central part of Ukraine out in kind of rural areas. And you really do get a sense of a heightened sense of anticipation and fear of exactly what is coming.
The tension at checkpoints on the roads that we had to drive through, much more heightened than that. I think we've seen in the last several weeks, especially here in this region and you really get that sense that people here are preparing bracing for that next round of fighting that is coming to this area.
BURNETT: All right. Ed Lavandera, thank you. And this comes as CNN learns Germany's Foreign Intelligence Service intercepted radio communications from Russian soldiers.
Matthew Chance is OUTFRONT. And Matthew How did this come to light?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it seems that the German intelligence officials had briefed a parliamentary committee in Germany about these latest intercepts that they've made, a radio intercepts of Russian forces talking to each other. There's also the possibility of satellite images having been taken of what's been taking place as well.
But of specific killings, this is what's interesting about this, specific killings allegedly undertaken by Russian forces in Bucha, in that area north of Kyiv where we've seen all that horrific imagery of dead civilians, mass graves and things like that taking place. Since the since the Russians were there.
And it's important, because, as far as I'm aware, this is a very early example of evidence, potentially, that could link Russian forces directly to a specific killing, because there's bags of evidence out there, Erin, of people having died and people having been killed. But when it comes to the idea of war crimes prosecutions in the future, you have to have that kind of linkage. It's going to stand up to scrutiny in a court of law.
And if these intercepts from German intelligence are what we think they are and it could be a step towards providing that kind of linkage, Erin.
BURNETT: And Matthew, I know there's other intercepts coming from the Ukrainian government. So what do those include?
CHANCE: Yes. I mean, look, I mean, as I say, there's lots of evidence out there, some of it will stand up to scrutiny, others won't stand up to scrutiny so rigorously. But yes, the Ukrainian security forces have been putting loads of radio intercepts out there as well which they say are from Russian soldiers.
One of them, again, sort of indicates a level of potential guilt by Russian forces, because the two individuals speaking presumably Russian soldiers talk about how one of them had spotted a civilian vehicle or two civilians in a vehicle passing by. And then the other soldier says, well, you got to kill them and uses lots of expletives when he says that, but he says, basically kill them, shoot them now.
And the soldier says, yes, okay, I'm going to do that. And so it just gives you a sort of flavor of the kind of toing and froing between commanders and soldiers on the ground when it came to what military action they took or what action they took against civilians in that region. And, of course, it tallies with the horrific images that we're seeing from Bucha and elsewhere as well, Erin.
BURNETT: Right, it does. I mean, we see it and then now you hear the conversations about it. Matthew, thank you very much.
And I want to go out front now to Fidelius Schmid. He is a reported for the German magazine, Der Spiegel, who first broke this news about the intercepted Russian military radio traffic. So I really appreciate your taking the time to explain this in your reporting. Your article says and I'll quote from it, "The troops spoke of the atrocities as though they were simply discussing their everyday lives."
Fidelius, tell me more about the tone of the soldiers' conversations that were intercepted.
FIDELIUS SCHMID, REPORTER, DER SPIEGEL: We spoke to several people that are familiar with these intercepts. We don't have access to them directly, of course, because it's all classified intelligence. The tone is basically reflecting an attitude where people are not supposed to take prisoners, quite the contrary. We have one call where they say, oh, yes, we interrogate them and then we shoot them.
There is another one where a bike is mentioned and that kind of reminds us of the pictures from Bucha, where a bike and a dead body can be seen and bike incident is being described. And in general, those people familiar with the recordings tell us that it seems to them that there is a strategy of spreading fear and panic at work with the Russian troops.
BURNETT: So you mentioned the bike and your report does talk about that. And one of the intercepted comments a soldier apparently tells another soldier that he had just shot a person on a bike. So how are they using these details, a conversation and then a picture that we've seen, a picture of a horrible act to confirm that these recordings actually happened in or near Bucha?
SCHMID: I think that's a great difficulty about this. So you've noticed that I've been very careful when we're talking around the point is the bike picture from Bucha really the bike incident that was listened or that people I spoke to were familiar with. And I think that the one step that they're not ready to take it.
I'm a bit skeptical, let's put it this way, I think we'll have to see what we get on this. It's already, I think, German intelligence is really proud they can have these intercepts.
SCHMID: Because they're one of the few intelligence services who has maintained outdated technology to intercept radio.
BURNETT: So let me ask you about that, because you're talking about these specific conversations, but it would seem that from what we're hearing, this was the norm in many conversations of how they were happening out in the open. I mean, is this just the tip of the iceberg from your reporting? Is there more intercepted radio traffic conversations that that are being analyzed? SCHMID: From what I know or what I can say is that there is intercepts that suggests there is other places in Ukraine, most notably in South Ukraine, maybe near Mariupol that apparently not so easy to locate precisely these radio intercepts. That suggests that indiscriminate civilian killings are happening there too.
BURNETT: So U.S. intelligence says they believe, Fidelius, that they can identify the exact Russian soldiers responsible for the killings. And obviously, this would require what you're pointing out, being able to connect a conversation to an actual video or picture of a horrible civilian killing. What is the German government going to do with the intercepts?
SCHMID: Big question, because normally intelligence doesn't necessarily go to law enforcement or prosecution. In this very case, I think there is - well, let me put it this way, I've spoken to officials who suggested that putting the intercepts, satellite imagery and things like social media posts by soldiers together make almost a watertight war crimes case.
If that were the case, they'd forward their evidence for a starter to the German federal prosecutor who in Germany is in charge of pursuing war crimes and crimes against humanity. They have universal jurisdiction, so you don't need to be German or commit a crime against the German to be liable to be prosecuted by them.
BURNETT: All right. Fidelius, thank you very much.
Next, the incredible story of how a couple who appeared who have been wanted by Russian forces were able to evade being captured even as Putin's troops were going door to door.
Plus, Ukraine's Foreign Minister pleading with NATO to help them now or it will be too late. NATO Secretary General responds OUTFRONT.
And a historic day in the United States, the Senate confirming the first black woman to the Supreme Court. White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain is my guest.
BURNETT: Horrifying new details out of Bucha about the Russian death lists. A couple hiding in an attic as soldiers went house to house searching for them. Their names apparently were on a list.
OUTFRONT now Paul Ronzheimer, the Deputy Editor of BILD who spoke to the couple and broke the story. So Paul, let me just start with the basic question, why were this couple's names apparently on the list?
PAUL RONZHEIMER, DEPUTY EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, BILD; REPORTED FROM BUCHA, BORODYANKA: So this couple told me that they had relatives at the army, nephew and beyond and they have learned that there was a list the Russians used and they said they came with six soldiers to their house and they started firing right away. They were hiding in the attic.
The lady said she thought this was the end of her life when this happened and they know from other neighbors that there are only two soldiers came and were just asking questions. So they directly knew when they came to their address that they wanted to kill them.
BURNETT: So they came, I understand, from what they told you to their house six times. What happened when the Russians came? So they're at this point they're in the attic, they're basically living up there. The Russians come six times so tell me what happens.
RONZHEIMER: So the first time they came, they went directly to the cellar and they threw grenades. I saw it myself. I was there today. I saw the rest of it and I saw the damage inside the cellar. And the other times they came to the house. They were shooting around. They were obviously trying to find them and they were also kind of destroying mobile phones and computers. I also saw that today and this couple - this is kind of a miracle that they survived that.
BURNETT: It really is. And so from your understanding, they're on a list because they're related to someone who's in the Ukrainian military that the Russians appeared have known who those people were and looked for relatives names that appears to be at a level of research and detail in any kind of a list.
RONZHEIMER: That's correct. And if we look back some week, just before the war, there was reports from the intelligence, from the American intelligence also European intelligence saying exactly this. They said when the Russians will come into towns, into cities, they will be prepared. They will know who they want to kill and this was a warning just before the war and now we can see that this actually happened.
And in the street, we were today where the house was, we still saw bodies like two bodies laying there and they said in their street alone, 15 civilians got killed.
BURNETT: So your team also captured these more disturbing images in Bucha. The bodies of two men murdered. Their bodies tossed in a ditch. They were covered in trash and what you actually saw. In the story behind their murders you were able to find was extremely cruel. Can you tell me?
RONZHEIMER: Yes. That's what eyewitnesses told me there and people in the street told me that they were forced from the Russian army, from the Russian soldiers to cook for them. So they took over the house and then they were cooking for them, have to cook for them and when the Russians left, so when they had to retreat, they shot them.
BURNETT: After they've cooked for them and provided them food the whole time.
RONZHEIMER: That's what people told me in that street, right. BURNETT: All right. Paul, thank you. It's horrible to contemplate. And in the images from Bucha, one seen around the world, is the sheer brutality that this - when they're driving down, you see that body after body in front of house after house. A Russian tank gunning down a woman riding her bicycle. Well, tonight we are learning just who that woman was, the woman on the bicycle, Phil Black is OUTFRONT with her story.
PHIL BLACK, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Irina Filkina (ph) in a happier time, before the Russians came. It's likely this video shows Irina arena after the invasion in early March, just moments before her death. She seems cycling through Bucha, heading towards a large number of Russian vehicles.
As she approaches a corner, she dismounts. One of the vehicles fires. She moves around the corner out of sight and it fires again and again, at least five more times. Then a large muzzle flash from a second concealed vehicle. Moments later, smoke rises from near that corner.
A different video geo located by CNN to the same corner shows a dead woman on the ground next to her bike. Other images of that body clearly show her hand and her distinctive nails. The woman who only recently taught Irina how to apply makeup recognize them instantly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She draw arts on her finger, because she started to love herself. This woman was incredible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACK (voice over): Olga Feruk (ph) didn't need to see the nails to know that was her mother's body. She tells me she doesn't know what she feels now. It's such a void, she says. "When I saw it was my mother," the war faded away. The war ended with her and I lost the war.
Olga says her mother called her while she was cycling that day, not long before she was killed. She had been sheltering at her workplace and decided to go home because she thought it would be safer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLACK (on camera): Tell us about your mother. How would you like the world to know her?
She says Irina had a hard life, overcoming obstacles only really starting to live in the last few years. But she could do the impossible and inspired others to believe they could too.
Elsewhere in Bucha, someone recorded the moment three men were found all face down in a yard. All shot in the head. This video is how Olga Gavriluk found out her son, Roman (ph), and son-in-law, Sergei (ph), had been killed. She says, "I don't want to live anymore. The grief, I cried day and night. I don't know how to live."
Images from Bucha have taught the world undeniable truths about the brutality of Russia's invasion. For some, that knowledge is deeply personal and impossibly painful.
BLACK (on camera): These are just two families directly impacted by the atrocities committed in Bucha. They want the world to know and understand what happened there. But they also want those they've lost to be remembered for who they were not just as victims or brutalized bodies left behind in Russia's retreat, Erin.
BURNETT: The human beings, the real humans, thank you so much.
And next, more on the video of Ukrainian forces apparently executing a Russian prisoner. What should the United States do about it? President Biden's Chief of Staff is OUTFRONT.
And Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson making history tonight as top Republicans issue warnings about future Biden nominees.
BURNETT: Breaking news the Department of Defense just releasing a detailed list of the military assistance the United States has provided to Ukraine. It includes more than 1,400 Stinger anti-aircraft systems, more than 5,000 Javelin anti-armor system, more than 7,000 other anti-armor systems, hundreds of Switchblade drones. This coming hours after Ukraine's Foreign Minister spoke with NATO leaders today and then said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DYMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: My agenda for the discussion had only three items, it's weapons, weapons and weapons. Either you help us now and I'm speaking about days, not weeks or you help will come too late and many people will die.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OUTFRONT now NATO's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. And Secretary General Stoltenberg, as we heard, Ukraine's Foreign Minister says and I quote him, "Either you help us now and I'm speaking about days, not weeks, or your help will come too late." Is he right?
STOLTENBERG: Yes, he's right in the way that there's an urgent need for more help. NATO allies have supported and helped Ukraine for many, many years back to 2014, the first Russian invasion of Ukraine. Since then the NATO allies had trained 10s of thousands of Ukrainian troops and delivered a lot of equipment.
But, of course, last weeks, we have stepped up and they are meeting here in Brussels. The foreign minister meeting of NATO sent a very clear message of the need to do even more. And to provide even more military support but also financial support and other types of support.
BURNETT: Is there anything off the table in your view? I mean, you know, there is obviously a wide range of support that's possible. Do you support any heavy weapons that they say they need?
STOLTENBERG: So NATO allies are providing a wide range of different weapons systems. Both old Soviet-era systems, but also modern, very advanced weapon systems, and also more heavier systems.
At the same time, I think it is the wise approach to not be too specific about every single system we provide, NATO allies provide, because the most important thing is that Ukraine receives more support, not that we announce each and every weapons system.
BURNETT: Right. So, you know, it -- it sounds as if there -- there's obviously been a movement, you know, more and more weapons going in. The Ukrainian foreign minister says that more weapons will save lives.
Here is his argument.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: The more weapons we get, and the sooner they arrive in Ukraine, the more human lives will be saved. The more cities and villages will not be destructed, and there will be no more Buchas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Putin has said more weapons from NATO will only escalate the conflict and the killing, though.
Secretary General, why is he wrong and the Ukrainian foreign minister right?
STOLTENBERG: Because Ukraine is defending itself, defending its country and -- and its people. And the right to self-defense is a right enshrined in the U.N. charter. It's a right for every sovereign independent nation.
And, therefore, also NATO allies have the right, according to international law, to provide support to Ukraine.
And we see the effect of the support NATO allies have provided on the battleground every day. We are seeing all the Russian armor being destroyed. We are seeing missiles and planes being shot down and, of course, this is, first and foremost, because of the bravery, the courage of the Ukrainian armed forces.
BURNETT: Yes. STOLTENBERG: But the equipment they have received from the United States and all NATO allies have, of course, made this possible. And therefore, NATO allies will continue and provide more support.
BURNETT: Fears that NATO supplying weapons to Ukraine could escalate the conflict and allow Putin to put nuclear weapons on the table, of course, Secretary General, are real.
Do you share that fear at all anymore?
STOLTENBERG: So, we have two tasks. One is to ensure that we provide support to Ukraine as NATO allies have done from many, many years and stepped up since the invasion. But second, of course, our core and main responsibility as an alliance is to protect and defend 30 NATO allies, 1 billion people.
And we do that by increasing our presence especially in the eastern part of the alliance. We are now 40,000 troops under NATO command which is much more than we had just a few weeks ago.
STOLTENBERG: And there are 100,000 U.S. troops in Europe, also an increase. And we have all these enforcement of our collective defense to send a very clear message to Moscow that an attack on a NATO ally will trigger response from the whole alliance. And we do that to -- to prevent escalation, to prevent an attack on -- on a NATO-allied country.
BURNETT: Do you have any fears of -- of nuclear escalation then? Sounds no?
STOLTENBERG: We are being very clear that any use of nuclear weapons will be absolutely unacceptable. And we have increased our presence, military posture, in the -- throughout but especially in the east.
And we also have to realize that that Russia knows that NATO has capabilities that enable us to defend all allies against any potential attack. And the nuclear rhetoric we hear from Russia is dangerous and reckless and Russia must understand that a nuclear war is something they can never win and should never be fought.
BURNETT: Secretary General, before we go, "The New York Times" was first to report on the video of Ukrainian soldiers torturing and killing Russian POWs. What do you think should happen if this video is confirmed as true?
STOLTENBERG: I don't have any specific information about that specific video. But in general, and as a message which is always as I say valued is that any violation of international law, any war crime is unacceptable and, therefore, it is important to get all the facts established and to know exactly what happened.
BURNETT: All right. Secretary General Stoltenberg, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.
STOLTENBERG: Thanks so much for having me.
BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next. The sign into one Ukrainian town reads: Russian soldier, you will die here.
But Putin's forces did not hear that warning. See how the Ukrainians fought back.
Plus, history in the making. Senate confirming the first Black woman to the Supreme Court. White House chief of staff Ron Klain is next.
BURNETT: CNN has geolocated video appearing to show Ukrainian forces executing a captured Russian soldier following fighting near Kyiv. We're not going to air the moments of the video. It's too graphic to do so.
But what it shows is the bodies of four men in Russian uniforms. They are lying on the road, three of them, with visible head wounds. A pool of blood surrounds the fourth soldier who appears to be struggling to breathe.
A man speaks in Russian, saying, quote, he is still alive. He's gasping. Then, a soldier points a rifle at the body, fires two shots, then a third. And the body stops moving.
The camera then turns to film this Russian military vehicle with a "V" marking on it, and you hear the man call it, quote, a little trophy.
OUTFRONT now, the White House chief of staff Ron Klain.
And, Ron, I appreciate your time.
Obviously, as I say, we've geolocated this video. If it turns out to be legitimate, it's hard to believe that what is shown on it wouldn't be considered a war crime. The Biden administration, of course, has given Ukraine $2.4 billion in security assistance.
Are you concerned at all that U.S. weapons could have been used to commit war crimes?
RON KLAIN, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Look, Erin, I think it's very important that the Ukrainians conduct this war in accordance with the rules of laws of war. They ever assured us they are looking into this and they will impose discipline, their military discipline, if need be on anyone who is responsible. It's important for the Ukrainians to fight this war the right way. And if this happened, there has to be consequences.
I also think it's important, though, to not allow some false equivalency to rise between this one incident, if what appears to be happen did happen, and the massive amounts of atrocities we have seen the Russians commit in this war, a bombing known locations where children are, bombing hospitals, bombing maternity hospitals, specifically.
So, we have to make sure Ukrainians are fighting this war the right way. We have talked to them about that. But I don't think that should take the focus off the kind of massive atrocities we are seeing the Russians commit.
BURNETT: So, the Defense Secretary Austin publicly acknowledged today for the first time, Ron, that the United States is providing intelligence to Ukrainian forces, specifically for their operations in the Donbas, which is going to become the central theater here for this -- this war.
BURNETT: President Biden has said a no-fly zone, though, could mean World War III. He has said that explicitly.
So, I'm wondering how you think about this. The United States is providing intelligence, training Ukrainian soldiers, giving them ammunition, weapons, all of that, of course, to help Ukraine in the war, all of that helping kill Russians. But President Biden has said no no-fly zone because he is worried about World War III.
Where do you draw the line? And do you think it's moving?
KLAIN: No, I don't think the line's moving. We are providing lethal assistance to the Ukrainians to defend their country. We are providing them increasing amounts of weapons, more weapons almost every single day, on top of the billion dollars of weapons we provided before this invasion even began. We provided them 500 rounds of ammunition for each one Russian soldier that has invaded Ukraine. We provided them 20 anti-tank weapons for each one tank the Russians have sent in.
Those are weapons to defend Ukraine. A no-fly zone, Erin, would involve putting U.S. planes over the sky of Ukraine and potentially getting in direct conflict between our planes and Russian planes over that sky. It would require to defend our planes, going on bombing runs into Russia itself to knock out anti-aircraft capabilities the Russians have near the border.
So, there is a big difference between U.S. soldiers, sailors, U.S. airmen shooting at Russian planes, Russian troops, bombing the Russians and us providing the Ukrainians with our NATO allies the weapons they need to defend themselves.
BURNETT: So I want to ask you about the historic day that you had in Washington. Obviously, change in topics here.
BURNETT: But the Senate confirmed Ketanji Brown Jackson, 53-47. She will be the first black woman to sit in the Supreme Court and we see her here with President Biden as that vote actually happened. So, one thing we saw today, Ron, was the Senate public galleries. They
were filled. People wanting to witness this. Long lines forming just to get into the chamber ahead of the vote.
How important is her presence on the court?
KLAIN: Look, as you said, Erin, it is historic. She will be the 116th member of the Supreme Court, the first black woman ever to serve on the Supreme Court, only the third African-American at all. And so, it is obviously historic day.
When President Biden ran for president back during the primaries, he promised that if he became president, he would break this ceiling and put an African-American woman on the Supreme Court. A promise was made two years ago. A promise was kept today.
BURNETT: So, right after Jackson was confirmed, Senate Republicans walked out of the chamber. Most obviously, there was applause but Republicans walked out.
Now, the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said just moments ago, though, Ron, that Judge Jackson has been treated, quote, very respectfully throughout the confirmation process. So, what do you say to Senate Republicans tonight?
KLAIN: Well, look, first of all, I'd first start off by saying we are incredibly grateful for the willingness of Senator Romney, Senator Collins, and Senator Murkowski to break ranks with their colleagues and vote for Judge Jackson and provide that bipartisan majority.
I'm sorry that their colleagues didn't see it the same way.
They should have. This is one of the most qualified people ever nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court. She has outstanding credentials and then she distinguished herself admirably before the Judiciary Committee and answering the questions.
So, my focus tonight is on the good news. The good news is three Republicans bravely sided with 50 Democrats to give her that bipartisan vote. In this day and age, 53 votes is a lot of votes for a Supreme Court justice.
KLAIN: And Ketanji Brown Jackson definitely deserved them.
BURNETT: So Justice Department investigation, as you know, of course, is going on on Hunter Biden and centers on his foreign business activities. It has intensified in recent months. So, investigators are examining whether Hunter Biden and some of his associates violated a whole lot of rules -- money laundering, foreign lobbying laws, firearms laws.
So, Ron, are you confident that this investigation will not find any wrongdoing?
KLAIN: Erin, I am not going to comment on the investigation itself. It is being run independently by the Justice Department. That's the way it should be.
One reason Joe Biden is in the White House is he promised -- unlike Donald Trump -- his White House wouldn't infer -- interfere with Justice Department investigations. And that's what is going on here. It's an independent investigation.
I'm not going to comment on it. Other than to say, that we aren't in any way, shape, or form interfering with or influencing the Justice Department's conduct of it.
BURNETT: We just learned that Congresswoman Angie Craig has tested positive for COVID and I want to show her. Two days ago, she is standing right behind President Biden, right next to Vice President Harris. And near Speaker Pelosi who we also found out tested positive today for COVID. So did Senator Susan Collins.
And this comes, Ron, after seven House Democrats, two members of the cabinet, the president's sister and the vice president's communications director all announced positive tests this week.
Are you worried that the precautions are just not working and that Biden himself could be, you know, positive at some point here? I mean, it's obviously everywhere.
KLAIN: Sure. I mean, obviously, we still have a problem with COVID in the country. What I know is that the president has been fully vaccinated and boosted. People watched that on TV.
KLAIN: He's got strong protection from severe COVID. We know there are going to be COVID cases. There are going to be COVID cases among senior officials. There is COVID cases among people who work other jobs, too, of course.
The important thing is that people be protected from severe COVID, and that's what being fully vaccinated and boosted does for the president and does for every other American.
The boosters have been approved. They are free. They are available at 80,000 locations coast to coast within five miles of 90 percent of Americans.
People should get their shots. They should get their protections. That way, if they contract COVID, no matter who they are in the country, they can be protected from a severe illness.
BURNETT: All right. Ron Klain, thank you very much. I appreciate your time.
KLAIN: I appreciate being here, Erin. Thank you.
BURNETT: All right.
And next, explosions rocking a major port city tonight in Ukraine. Air-raid sirens also going off. We are live in Odessa.
Plus, see how a city of just 30,000 took on Putin's forces and won.
BURNETT: Tonight, sirens have been sounding in the key port city of Odessa, where at least two missiles struck earlier tonight.
Ed Lavandera is OUTFRONT in Odessa, where people are preparing for a possible Russian shift to the south.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The sign into town reads: "Russian soldier, you will die here." The Russians didn't listen.
This is the story of how the small city of Voznesensk fought off the Russian invasion in early March.
Evgen Velichko is the mayor of the city of 30,000 people. He took us to the bridge at least where the bridge used to be. Where Ukrainian soldiers volunteer fighters and a fearlessly creative cast of civilians stared down the Russians.
How close did they get to taking over this city?
You can see over here on the other side of the bridge in the distance there, just on the other side of the bridge, a row of tires. And that's as close as the Russian tanks came. The mayor says the Ukrainians blew it up so the Russians couldn't cross into the heart of the city.
That sparked a two-day confrontation. Thousands of residents were trapped on the other side of the bridge. Only section of the city Russian forces invaded.
This man named Evan lives in a house along the main road into town. Several homes and cars around him were scorched in the fire fight. He hid inside with his elderly mother, as the Russian tanks swarmed his neighborhood.
He describes how terrifying it was. Several homes blown up around him. Constant barrage of gunfire. But he tells us, he actually didn't see it. He had to hide inside his home, which is the sound of it was terrifying.
Various cameras captured the images of the Russian military vehicles with the letters Z on the side. The mayor says three columns of Russian soldiers moved into the city. One military official says the Russians invaded with at least 100 tanks and armored personnel carriers,, as many as 500 soldiers.
So this is Ghost, he's asked we not use his full name. And he is the head of the reconnaissance unit here in the town that was instrumental in fighting back the Russians. This was the spot -- this was the spot where you fought the Russians.
He says he thinks that's a bloodstain there. Wow. The remnants of a Russian meal.
GHOST, RECONNAISANCE UNIT COMMANDER (through translator): When they were advancing towards the bridge, thanks to the Ukrainian military forces, the air assault brigade, the territorial defense and our recon squad, we hold them off. We shower them with artillery and we destroyed them.
LAVANDERA: The Ukrainians blew up multiple bridges in the city to keep the Russians from moving in to the town that sits at a strategic crossroads in southern Ukraine, and kept Vladimir Putin's army from invading deeper into the country.
So, we're standing in this spot just on the edge of the city. Multiple Russian tanks were taken out here. We're actually standing in the ashes of one of the tanks and there were at least two Russian soldiers that were killed in this very spot.
GHOST (through translator): We are strong. Our city is strong. Our spirit is strong. When the enemy came, everyone rose up from kids to the elderly.
LAVANDERA: Hiding residents called in the locations of Russian soldiers. Others ran ammunition and supplies wherever it was needed.
The Russians had more fire power, weapons, than you guys had.
GHOST (through translator): They were powerful. They had tanks, they had APCs. A lot of wheeled vehicles. But we're stronger, smarter and more tactical.
LAVANDERA: Are you worried they're going to come back for revenge after you embarrassed them?
GHOST: No. It's them who should be afraid. They should know if they come here, they will remain here as cargo 200. We have already refrigerators for their bodies and we can bring more.
LAVANDERA: In a small village on the edge of Voznesensk, one resident captured the first sounds of the invading Russian convoy. But the Russian soldiers weren't ready to face the grandmothers of the Stephova (ph) Street. 88-year-old Vera (ph) walked out armed with her canes and fired off an epic tirade of verbal artillery.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I come out from the kitchen and I said to him, sorry for the language, F**k your mother. Has your Putin gone mad, firing at kids? LAVANDERA: They say they were chased out of their homes and robbed. But the women relished telling this story with laughter. I asked if they're worried the Russians will return to seek revenge. They tell me, they're not going anywhere.
LAVANDERA (on camera): And, Erin, the grandmothers of the Stephova (ph) Street might be laughing and smiling about that story, I can tell you being inside the city many people still very much on edge and that is because we're seeing that renewed sense of attack and attacks being carried out in eastern Ukraine and what everyone in the city is bracing for, preparing for, is that there will be another battle in the town in the weeks ahead -- Erin.
BURNETT: Ed, thank you.
And next, 14 months after he nearly lost his leg, thought he would never go to walk again, Tiger Woods with an impressive come back on day one of the Masters.
BURNETT: And finally tonight, Tiger Woods with an impressive return to the masters, nearly 14 months after a life threatening car crash that left him with a severe leg injury and real questions about whether he'd ever even walk again. Well, today, the five time Master champ finished the first round at Augusta National one under par. Woods walked the entire course, just a hint of a limp.
He's currently tied for tenth place. It's just the beginning. Tees up for his second round tomorrow afternoon. He's made it clear he has every intention of winning.
Thanks so much for joining us.
"AC360" starts right now.