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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Abandoned Camp Shows Russian Military Failures In Northern Ukraine; Explosions Rock Schools In Shia Neighborhood In Kabul; Democrats Criticize Biden Decision To End Trump-Era Border Policy. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired April 19, 2022 - 05:30   ET




KRISTIN FISHER, CNN ANCHOR: As Russia intensifies its offensive in eastern Ukraine the remains of a massive Russian camp in the north shows their failure of their military operations there and why they were forced to retreat. Now the U.S. believes that the Russians are applying some of those lessons in the east.

CNN's Phil Black has more. And just a quick warning that some of these images are tough to watch.


PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The sign is a warning -- "Beware, mines." The forest serves as protection, too -- a natural screen concealing a vast secret.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

BLACK (voice-over): Here, among the trees, about an hour's drive north of Kyiv, are the remains of a sprawling Russian military camp. We're shown around by Ukrainian special forces.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

BLACK (voice-over): This soldier says the positions were held by Russian marines. We see a sprawling network of underground fighting positions, command posts, sleeping areas, and ammunition storage. While everywhere there is evidence of how the Russians lived and that evidence suggests their existence here was neither disciplined nor comfortable.

BLACK (on camera): It is so quiet here now -- just some bird noise and a light breeze. But recently, there were 6,000 Russian soldiers bedded down through these woods in a camp that is so large you can't see where it begins and where it ends. Living here would have been hard. It was through the coldest of the winter days -- four weeks -- stopped here short of Kyiv after they failed to take the capital quickly.


BLACK (voice-over): The silence is broken by efforts to deal with some unidentified ordnance. This camp is damning proof of Russia's failures on this front -- poor preparation and desperately wrong assumptions about the numbers and resources needed to conquer Kyiv.

BLACK (on camera): What lessons do you take from all of this that will apply to the -- to the coming battle for Donbas in the east?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

BLACK (voice-over): He says, "We see the volume of forces that invaded this area and we understand that will be two to three times greater in the Donbas."

This force wasn't confined to the forest. Its commanding officers lived a little more comfortably in the nearby village of (INAUDIBLE).

Here, civilians tell disturbingly familiar stories. Vitaliy, a local mechanic, says he was detained and interrogated for almost 24 hours. He says he was beaten, blindfolded, tied up, and subjected to mock executions.

VITALIY CHERNYSH, TORTURE VICTIM: (Speaking foreign language).

BLACK (voice-over): He says he's never known fear like it and constantly thought those were his last moments on earth.

Local priest (INAUDIBLE) describes dealing with the aftermath of even greater cruelty. He says he found five men tortured and killed in the garden, two more in the forest, and the Russians brought him two dead women and told him to bury them.


Other Russians in this area camped out in fields with their artillery pieces and stole what comforts they could -- a mattress, alcohol, the works of Shakespeare.

BLACK (on camera): So, from these firing positions, Grad rockets flew through the sky towards Hostomel, which is only a relatively short distance away. And when they hit the earth, it was often civilians who felt their power.

DMITRY NAKOWZIKOV (ph), HOSTOMEL RESIDENT: You can see the result.

BLACK (on camera): Oh.

NAKOWZIKOV: So many people --

BLACK (on camera): They were hiding in there?


BLACK (voice-over): In Hostomel, resident Dmitry Nakowzikov shows the aftermath of a Russian rocket strike -- NAKOWZIKOV: This is central for explosion.

BLACK (voice-over): -- and where some of its victims were temporarily buried.

NAKOWZIKOV: I feel only hope.

BLACK (on camera): Only hope?

NAKOWZIKOV: Yes. We can't forget for one -- maybe for life.

BLACK (voice-over): For now, the enemies in the forest, fields, and villages have left this part of Ukraine. The fruits of their brief stay -- the pain, trauma, and loathing remain.

Phil Black, CNN, Hostomel, Ukraine.


FISHER: Boy, you really get a sense for what the Russians did and what's left now that they've retreated from that region.

Just ahead, the January 6 Committee meets in person with Donald Trump Jr.'s fiance. And, rare late-season snow blanketing parts of the northeast for the morning commute.



FISHER: We've got some breaking news out of Afghanistan. Multiple explosions hitting schools in a predominantly Shia Muslim neighborhood of western Kabul.

CNN's Arwa Damon joins us live from Istanbul. Arwa, obviously, terrible news if true. I know it's early but what can you tell us?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, at this stage, the death toll stands at about six people killed with dozens more injured, although tragically, one can only assume that number is going to rise.

This was a neighborhood in western Kabul, as you mentioned there, predominantly a Hazaras Shia neighborhood. This is a population that is a minority in Afghanistan and most certainly, sadly, has been subjected to similar attacks in the past over the years of the unrest in Afghanistan.

It was just about a year ago in May of 2021 that a girls' school in that same area was targeted. No claim of responsibility taken back then. But that attack alone left 85 people dead.

In this case, it does seem as if it was multiple explosions in more than one location. With the two locations that we have been able to confirm, one of them being a school, the other being described as a learning center. And you just have to really think about those families that said goodbye to their children this morning and sent them off on their way to school to get an education despite all the odds. And now, they are having to deal with this absolutely horrendous reality.

No claim of responsibility for this attack just yet but we are keeping a very close watch on these events as they unfold and keeping track, of course, of that horrendous, potentially to rise, death toll.

FISHER: Yes, absolutely. Arwa Damon, thank you so much.

Meanwhile, back here in Washington, the January 6 Committee meeting for more than nine hours yesterday, on Monday, with Kimberly Guilfoyle. The former Fox News host was an adviser to the Trump reelection campaign and remember, she spoke at the rally right before the Capitol riot. She's also -- oh, yeah -- Donald Trump Jr.'s fiance.

CNN's Katelyn Polantz is live in Washington. So, Katelyn -- I mean, what exactly does the committee want to know from Guilfoyle?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Kristin, there's quite crucial stuff that she would have been privy to that day. So, the committee has already outlined the three main areas that they wanted to ask her about.

One, what happened in the Oval Office the morning of January 6. Guilfoyle was there with Trump and his family, so would have been around some of the key scenes they're trying to understand.

She also was speaking at the Ellipse, as you mentioned. And so, she would have been backstage with Trump and with members of his family and had a little bit of insight into how that was going as the crowd was getting riled up before they marched to the Capitol.

And then third, the committee also believes she knew about fundraising for that rally at the Ellipse for Trump. They believe she had commented to one person that she was taking part in the primaries and helping with the fundraising for millions of dollars funding this Ellipse rally. And we do know they've been following the money.

So, Guilfoyle, here -- she's been pursued for the committee for several weeks and she's actually gone before them twice. This is the second time. The first time, voluntarily, it didn't go so well. She ended it quite abruptly -- didn't like some of the things that were happening during that period when she was in there.

So now, she went to the committee under subpoena. My colleagues on the Hill believe that she was in there for at least eight hours, so that's quite a substantial interview. And that's a substantial interview because she may be a very important witness.

What we know about here is she wasn't a White House employee so she's not the type of person that was protected by secrecy around the president. May have to answer a little bit more questions than people in the White House -- employed in the White House could answer even though she was there. And then also, this is at the late stage of the investigation. The committee knows a lot already about what happened that day. They're probably, from what sources tell me, just asking people for their additional perspectives -- maybe filling in some blanks. Whether Guilfoyle was able to do that or willing to do that we don't know yet. But hopefully, we will learn in the coming weeks.


FISHER: Yes, Katelyn, and that's a great point. She was not a White House employee so maybe the committee can get more out of her since she's not protected.

Katelyn, thank you so much.

President Biden, meanwhile, facing growing pushback from within his own party over the decision to rescind Title 42. That's the Trump-era policy restricting migration at the U.S.-Mexico border and it's ending as of now, on May 23.

So let's bring in Margaret Talev. She's a CNN political analyst, and Axios managing editor. Margaret, good morning.

You know, Sen. Gary Peters from Michigan -- he told Politico yesterday that ending the policy should be revisited and perhaps even delayed past May 23 until there is a plan.

So, when do you think Democrats are going to get that plan? When will the Biden administration put something forward?

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, MANAGING EDITOR, AXIOS (via Webex by Cisco): You know, Kristin, this is actually a pretty big deal.

Senator Peters of Michigan, of course, leading the Homeland Security Committee but also the DSSC, and he is not the first Democrat to be applying pressure here. You're looking at Senate Democrats in some really key states this year.

In Arizona, Mark Kelly. In Nevada, Sen. Cortez Masto. And in New Hampshire, Sen. Hassan. And even Chris Coons, who is a chief ally of President Biden from Delaware, has been calling for the end of this to be delayed -- May 23, that target date.

But these Democrats are talking about delays not just of a couple of weeks but maybe even all the way, lo and behold, through November.

But the problem is that the Biden administration has long been concerned that the courts will throw this out if they do not end it themselves, right? This is not supposed to be permanent. This was a Trump-era plan to use the pandemic to impose border controls and now you're seeing judges go in the opposite direction and say we can't have mask mandates. Leave the mask mandates off the plan.

And so, how long can this last? Is this really up to the Biden administration? Is it a matter of political will or is this ultimately going to get moved by the courts if the administration doesn't act?

FISHER: Yes, that's a great point, Margaret. And we saw what happened with the mask mandates in a segment earlier today. Most people heading to the airport today -- a lot of them are not going to have to wear their masks if they don't want to.

So I guess it's safe to assume that Republicans are likely going to take advantage of this rift among Democrats and probably make immigration a big headline going into the midterms. Do you think there's anything that Democrats can do to prevent that at this point?

TALEV: Yes. I mean, this is a real concern for Democrats. You put immigration up there with inflation and crime as kind of three of the pillars that Republicans are going to be running against. And what Democrats are calling for and what the Biden administration has been trying to prepare for is just additional resources and assets to the border. I mean, you're seeing now record levels of migration efforts to the southern border. We saw historic numbers yesterday somewhere north of 221,000 attempts in the month of March alone and that was like a two-decade high. So there are forces outside the United States propelling these efforts.

And Democrats -- this administration has to be able to respond. This administration knew that this was coming. We reported almost like more than a month ago about efforts inside the administration to prepare for the end of Title 42. But those efforts -- all those movements around the Homeland Security department and resources at the border have all been done with the understanding (audio gap) of tens of thousands of additional immigrants to the border if and when Title 42 is ended.

FISHER: Yes. So, Margaret -- I mean, why didn't the Biden administration plan more or do more? They knew this moment was coming.

TALEV: Yes. I think they have been in the process of planning and they have been in the process of planning for several months. The -- there's this continued drumbeat of why aren't you doing more, but it -- the question has been what are they to do? So, this policy -- Biden opposed it on the campaign trail as you'll recall but ended up keeping it as president.

And part of this policy says that to protect public health from external threats, the United States can use this to impose border controls. But the challenge is that COVID wasn't caused or driven by migration to the southern border. It was long a crisis in the United States before any migrants to the southern border contracted the virus.


TALEV: And so, you have a border immigration problem. But how long Title 42 can be used to hold it back, that's just not clear at all.


[05:50:00] Margaret, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

TALEV: Thanks.

FISHER: Have a great day.

Well, soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and his partner reveal that they're mourning the loss of their newborn son.

Andy Scholes has this morning's Bleacher Report. Good morning, Andy.


So, Ronaldo and his partner Georgina Rodriguez had announced that they were expecting twins -- a boy and a girl. But yesterday they shared the tragic news that the boy passed away. They posted, "It is the greatest pain that any parent can feel. Only the birth of our baby girl gives us the strength to live this moment with some hope and happiness. Our baby boy, you are our angel. We will always love you."

Now, Ronaldo sharing that news to his 429 million Instagram followers. There was an immediate outpouring of support on social media. His club in England, Manchester United, retweeted the announcement, saying simply, "Your pain is our pain, Cristiano. Sending love and strength to you and the family at this time."

All right, the NBA Playoffs, meanwhile, continuing last night.

And Steph Curry coming off the bench again for the Warriors and he looked fully recovered from that foot injury. Curry with the dazzling dribbling display here in the second quarter and gets the layup in traffic. Steph also making five threes in the game. He scored 34 points in only 23 minutes of action.

And Jordan Poole was great again as well. He scored 29 points for Golden State.

The Warriors blow out the Nuggets in game two 126-106 to take a 2-0 lead in that series.

Joel Embiid and the Sixers also taking a 2-0 lead over the Raptors. Embiid leading the way with 31 points. And at the end of the game, he had some words with Toronto's coach Nick Nurse. Embiid said afterwards he told him to respectfully stop complaining about calls.

Now, the Mavericks, meanwhile, still without injured star Luka Doncic for last night's game two against the Jazz. But guard Jalen Brunson stepping up big time. He dropped a career-high 41 points in the 110- 104 win to even the series. The fans even chanting "MVP" at Brunson towards the end of the game.

Now, Brunson's going to be a free agent at the end of the season.

There are more games on the schedule tonight -- three more, actually. We get started with Hawks and Heat at 7:30 eastern on TNT. All right. And finally, four of the NFL's most exciting quarterbacks are going to square off on the golf course in this year's edition of The Match. Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers are going to take on Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen on June first in Las Vegas. It's going to be broadcast on our sister channel TNT.

Brady's still looking for his first win in the competition despite making two previous appearances. But that's not stopping him from talking some trash. Brady tweeting, "An artist rendering of me watching Josh Allen's approach after laying up on a par 4." Allen responding to that, saying, "At least he didn't put me in Brady Brand apparel."

I'll tell you what, Kristin, excited for this version of The Match because we all love watching these four quarterbacks on the field in the fall. It's going to be fun to watch them in the summer play some golf against each other.

FISHER: Yes, even I would watch this. Is this the one where they actually keep the players mic'd up so you can hear what they're saying?

SCHOLES: Oh, yes -- mic'd up the --

FISHER: I love that.

SCHOLES: -- entire time. So we're going to get --

FISHER: That's the best part.

SCHOLES: -- a couple of hours of Aaron Rodgers mic'd up.

FISHER: Great.

All right, Andy.

SCHOLES: All right.

FISHER: Thank you so much.

Just ahead, the defiant vow from Ukraine's president as a bloody new turn in Russia's war begins.



FISHER: Check this out -- a rare, late-season Nor'easter bringing heavy snow to parts of the northeast and New England. Eight million people under winter storm warnings and advisories.

So let's bring in meteorologist Pedram Javaheri. So, Pedram, I don't like this one bit. Who's getting the brunt of this?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, we're seeing it right across portions of New England. This was out of Burlington, Vermont. You'll see the wet snow coming down. Just a messy setup across this region. Some power outages to be had across this landscape as well.

And really the good news, at least for some of the major metro cities of the northeast is it's just a little too warm to support much in the way of snowfall. So, Boston, New York, Philly already seeing the rains taper off. Very gusty winds here.

But work your way into portions of the Adirondacks into the Catskills and get above 2,000 feet or so, some of these areas as much as 10, 12, 13 inches possible over the next few hours before it's all said and done.

And again, wet snowfall here. Gusty winds have already brought down some trees and some power lines and about 170,000 customers across parts of Pennsylvania and New York State without power at this hour because of this.

But notice the accumulations. Already seeing 10, up to 13 inches across portions of this region. And again, on the immediate coast, the flood alerts are in place where a couple of inches of rainfall are expected before it's all said and done.

But notice the winds, even right now across Nantucket, 55 miles per hour. In Boston, gusting to over 40 miles per hour. It really stays to be kind of a breezy afternoon across this region.

But quite a bit of snowfall in recent days. And a lot of folks -- even across, say, Wisconsin -- just like you Kristin are done with the snowfall and wanting some spring weather in the forecast.

FISHER: You know, I think that car gets it about right -- ugh. That's how we all feel about a late April snowstorm.

Thank you so much.

JAVAHERI: Thank you.

FISHER: And thanks to all of you for joining us. I'm Kristin Fisher. "NEW DAY" starts right now.