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Ukraine: Russia Assault On Country's East Already Underway; NYT: 1/6 Committee Split Over Sending Criminal Referral Of Trump To Justice Department. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired April 11, 2022 - 12:30   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: We're getting a look now at the aftermath of the horrific Russian attack on the Ukrainian railway station. We need to warn you these images are graphic and quite disturbing. The station was packed with people trying to flee the fighting.

The strike has left at least 57 people dead including five children, more than 100 were injured. Now as the station is out of service, more civilians are boarding buses and trains in a nearby city in trying to escape. Our CNN's Ben Wedeman right on the ground there in Kramatorsk, Ukraine.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The air raid siren rings out over a scene of carnage passed. In Kramatorsk's railway station, a ripped shoe, a discarded hat, a cane left behind. They came to the station with only what they could carry. Hoping to reach safer ground, but nearly 60 never left.

Lives cut short by a missile, on it someone scrawled in Russian for the children. Four thousand people were here waiting for a train West when the strike happened. The massacre accelerating the exodus.

(on camera): Most of the residents of Kramatorsk have left the city having been urged to do so by local authorities as this part of the country, the entirety of eastern Ukraine braces for what could be a massive Russian offensive.


(voice-over): At the city's bus station Nikolay, a volunteer, has been helping with the evacuation. For him news of the pullback of Russian forces around the capital Kyiv was bittersweet.

NIKOLAY, VOLUNTEER: When I heard about Kyiv that they leave Kyiv, I was happy, you know, but then I realized a couple of seconds later that they move in to Donbass all their forces. I'm little bit -- I'm not -- I can't say that I'm scared, but I'm worrying about my people, about people, about mothers, about grandparents.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): Some are heading west, others north, to the town of Slavyansk, where trains still run. Oksana and a friend and their children are bound for Lviv in the far west. There's a lot of bombing here, says Oksana, I'm afraid for the children. The children, thankfully, still children. A handful of adult relatives stay behind far more aware of the danger ahead.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Slavyansk, eastern Ukraine.


KING: Joining me now is the former President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko. Mr. Poroshenko grateful for your time today. You just heard Ben Wedeman's report there from Kramatorsk. You have in recent days been in Irpin and been in Borodyanka. The Netherlands, Sweden, Germany today pledging at least $2.7 million to help fund the International Criminal Court to do a war crimes investigation in your country. Are you convinced that the West, the European Nations, the ICC, A, takes this seriously enough, and B, will get the necessary resources in for accountability?

PETRO POROSHENKO, FORMER PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE: First, I want to thank the whole world community for the assist in Ukraine for taking the responsibility of Russian dictator, Russian war criminal Putin, and the whole participant of these disastrous crimes. In Irpin, in Borodyanka, in Hostomel, in Bucha, in Vorzel, in Okhtyrka, but definitely in Mariupol, and I'm not sure that it should be International Criminal Court, or it would be special tribunal, which can be named Mariupol tribunal or Bucha tribunal with a Bucha list with a whole list of the participants.

And I'm very much appreciate that the France gendarmeries already here in Kyiv, to help us to collect the evidence. And I think that that would be great idea if U.S. can send the FBI expert together with us to help with the, first of all, to help with the investigation and second, to add the credibility because we are open for this investigation, and do the same as me as a president during the year 2014 when we launch international investigation team for MH17.

Now, this is vital that every single participant of this crime would be responsible, would be guilty with a court decision. And this has helped just to bring in the evidence that this is the genocide against Ukrainian people because people were killed, were raped just because they are Ukrainian, just because they want to stay alive and they want to kill us, just because we want to have our own state, and they want to wipe our state from the world map.

And with that situation, definitely the special tribunal would be absolutely necessary. And when we're talking about Kramatorsk, you are absolutely right. When yesterday during our visit with a world-famous Bernard-Henri Levy, we, just in front of us they find out the family, the small children mother, and two hours before the father was found it out under the buried -- he was buried in the destroyed building.

And with that situation, I think that Mariupol is still ahead about the size of the tragedy. And please imagine that Mariupol is the size exactly the same like New Orleans. Imagine that one-third Orleans or Mariupol population is displaced, one-third is killed and one-third is in a disastrous humanitarian condition, eating dogs or eating cats hunger for several days. Take the water from their heating system.

And this is a disaster with Russian troops do against Ukraine. And they want to cover the evidence of their crime, learning the experience from Bucha. And they bring the mobile crematorium who burn their dead Ukrainian people, wipe the -- erasing the evidence. And with that situation definitely we need to have a trustable international team who help us to put these things on responsibility.


And I want to give you another thing, yesterday, you're absolutely right, we were in Irpin. And in Irpin, we find out one of the most yard who suffered the most. And I can try to show you, this is a White House. And this is the just one side of this White House Center. The yard is called White House.

And this has killed dozens of people, just maybe 12 kilometers from here. We were eyewitnesses of that. And I think that would be great idea if we can invite the American politician, the members of the American administration, the American, we have a lot of American journalist and I want to thank you, because you are delivered and objective and independent information from that.

And that would be great idea. If after returning back, the E.U. embassy, the Embassy of the European Union member states, the American Embassy now can return in Kyiv that would be symbolic step of our solidarity, that would be facilitating the coordination of our work. And we think that this is the extremely important thing to have America together with us.

And the things what we need now the most, because can you imagine, we need a game changer. And the game changer is depend just from the very simply think, it depends just from 300 tanks. It depends just from 1,000 armed personnel carrier, from 100 planes, jet fighter. And with that situation, Ukrainian forces, we have a long lines of volunteers who want to enlisted in the Ukrainian Armed Forces, with a great pilot, with a great operator, with a great soldier, which we demonstrate for the 47 days of war.

And with this situation, we can change the war. We can throw Putin away from Ukrainian soil with a great assistance of the whole world, including U.S. And we are very much appreciate for this type of solidarity of the whole world to Ukraine.

KING: Petro Poroshenko is the former president of Ukraine. Sir, I'm grateful for your insights. And you're on the ground there, obviously, you're giving us a firsthand look at some of the devastation in your country. We will keep in touch in the days ahead. Appreciate your time, Sir.

Ahead for us, we return to a big story here in Washington. A new report revealing the January 6th Committee has enough evidence in the members view to open a criminal probe into Donald Trump's action. But there is a debate among members over just how to proceed.


KING: A Crossroads moment for the January 6th Committee. "The New York Times" reporting its members believe they have enough evidence to make the case Donald Trump's conduct was unlawful. But "The Times" reports not all committee members believe it's a good idea to send an official criminal referral to the Justice Department.

The report includes this, the Justice Department appears to be ramping up a wide ranging investigation, and making a referral could saddle a criminal case with further partisan baggage at a time when Mr. Trump with running again in 2024. A key panel member Congresswoman Liz Cheney calls it a discussion, not a dispute.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): There's not really a dispute on the Committee. The Committee is working in a really collaborative way to discuss these issues as we are with all of the issues we're addressing. And we'll continue to work together to do so.


KING: CNN's Ryan Nobles joins our conversation. You spent a lot of time covering this Committee. I get it, right. It's number one, some of these committees do want to send a referral to over Merrick Garland saying please be more aggressive, other members were saying wait a minute, with Jared Kushner have come in last week with Ivanka Trump have come in last week. If we're more public about this, how do they wrestle with this?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, and also the open question is how does Merrick Garland receive a criminal contempt of referral, because it would be loaded with political overtones. And I think that's the discussion that's happening right now. And what you've seen the Committee members do very publicly is send a not so subtle message to the Department of Justice, that, hey, this evidence already exists, it's out in the public domain, you don't have to go looking for it, we've already found it for you.

And even at the end of our investigation, if we don't specifically author some document, which literally has no weight at all, legally, that we send over to you, you can still take all this information that we found, you can read our report, and then decide for yourself whether or not a crime was committed. Obviously, there are a number of members of this Committee that believe that evidence exists.

And of course, you already have a judge in California who ruled on a case related to John Eastman, that conservative lawyer who said that at least the building blocks of a criminal conspiracy exist and the evidence that's already been uncovered.

KING: But Garland understandably but frustrating to many Democrats uses his words very carefully. He said last week, I believe he was -- the investigation will go wherever the truth takes it. We do know they've expanded to include the planning and the financing. But you have a Democratic appointed attorney general, under a lot of pressure, mostly from Democrats to do more. He doesn't react.

M.J. LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I think the key point that Ryan just made is the political overtones, right, if there is a referral that is made by this Committee in Congress to the DOJ to take this action no matter what they do, that is going to be perceived by some as the DOJ sort of acting as a political arm and an extension of Democrats in Congress. And that's certainly the perception that the DOJ wouldn't want to play into.


KING: And look at these numbers, Manu. Liz Cheney has used this position on the Committee. Number one, she believes that Trump was wrong. Number two, she believes the Committee should build a historical document, but she's also being primaried. Trump has endorsed her opponent you see here, Harriet Hagerman, on the right there, Liz Cheney raising more money than ever before, in part because this has given her a national profile.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And she typically raise money mostly from Wyoming sources. This is coming from all over the country. She's getting support from big national figures like Mitt Romney and headlined a fundraiser in the D.C. area only recently, George W. Bush has been in her father, the former Vice President Dick Cheney has helped her. So money will be no issue for her.

The question is, can she get over the hump in the state that's very conservative, that Donald Trump won overwhelmingly, that has a pretty small electorate, can that be enough to win at the end of the day. And again, this is testing the power of Donald Trump's force in a Republican primary.

You're going to see that North Carolina in May. You're going to see that and others. Pennsylvania he made that endorsement of Dr. Oz over the weekend. Will Donald Trump just because he is popular with the base, will that be enough to propel his chosen candidates' victory, it doesn't always work out that way.

KING: I want to come to the Dr. Oz point in just one second and Trump's role in the primaries. But for Liz Cheney win or lose in this congressional race, a lot of people think that she will run then for President in 2024 especially if he does because she is on the record saying I will do whatever it takes to stop him from being back in the Oval Office.

NOBLES: Yes. And the question is, is there enough of a national constituency in the Republican Never Trump movement to legitimately mount a campaign for president, while we see these little pockets of never Trumpers that still exist in the Republican space, one or two senators, a few members of Congress, and certainly there's a donor base at Liz Cheney's disposal, there just doesn't appear to be enough votes to win a Republican primary, especially in the states where it would be necessary to do so.

This will be the prelude whether or not you can pull off a primary and a competitive state like this will be our first answer to that question. But there's got to be a lot of skepticism as to whether or not you legitimately can be a candidate --

KING: Which gets -- it is a fascinating question of 2022. What do we learn about Trump's power in 2022 that we can then carry forward into 2024? You mentioned the endorsement of Dr. Oz. Here's the president, the former president delivering it.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: By the way, I endorsed another person today, Dr. Oz in Pennsylvania. Dr. Oz. Great guy, a good man, he's a good man, Harvard educated, tremendous, tremendous career, and they liked him for a long time. That's like a poll. You know, when you're in television for 18 years, that's like a poll. That means people like you, but he's a great guy.


KING: Trump's original pick in that race had to suspend his candidacy. He was lost custody of his kids, accusations of abusing his wife. Trump has a spotty track record. The question is, is this the right call?

LEE: That's right. And I was actually there when candidate Trump back in 2016 appeared on the Dr. Oz Show. I was doing a stakeout in New York City. If you'll indulge me a sentence I wrote back then was Trump told Oz that he wants to lose about 15 pounds according to audience members who also said Oz sounded generally impressed by Trump's health.

I read this because I actually think the fact that Oz responded that way at the time about Trump's health, clearly, five and a half years later, that ended up being key to Trump endorsing him because as we discussed so many times around this table for president, for former President Trump a political endorsement is never really about what is best for the party.

It is about has this person been supportive of me, is this person on my team. And clearly this the thing that he said about his health being extraordinary ended up leaving quite the impression for former president.

RAJU: All about loyalty. I mean, but the thing is the base is his supporters are divided over this. And so it may not be successful. His facing a very wealthy executive, former David McCormack who's got tons of money in Pennsylvania, so even though he's supporting Oz, it may not work out for him next month.

KING: Manu, keep your list, keep your list, a lot of fascinating things on that list as we watch this play out.


Ahead for us, President Biden revealing a new plan to fight gun violence today. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Topping our Political Radar today, President Biden this afternoon will announce new regulations on ghost guns, those essentially untraceable weapons you make from a kit. You buy it online and assemble it at home. The new rule will require a background check before you can buy those kits and serial numbers, for some those gun parts. Biden is also expected to name a new nominee for the ATF Director. Steve Dettelbach is his choice. A former U.S. Attorney from Ohio.

The New York City Mayor Eric Adams isolating and has canceled his public events this week because he has COVID. It is not clear where Adams got infected. However, he was at that Gridiron Club dinner here in Washington, D.C. back on April 2nd, at least 67 people have tested positive after attending that dinner.

Federal judge in Georgia could rule today in an effort to block Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene from running again. A group of Georgia voters, liberal activists, and constitutional scholars claim Greene can't run for reelection because she was involved with January 6th insurrectionists, a similar case against Republican Congressman Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina was tossed out. But the judge in the Georgia case suggested at a Friday hearing, he's inclined to let it go forward.


Thanks for joining INSIDE POLITICS today appreciate your time. We'll see you tomorrow. Dana Bash picks up our coverage right now.