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Isa Soares Tonight

Biden Signs Foreign Aid Bill; Speaker Mike Johnson To Visit Columbia University; New Video Challenges Pentagon's Take On Kabul Attack; Demonstrations In Favor Of Pro-Palestine Occurring On U.S. Campuses; Pentagon's Account Of Kabul Explosion Questioned By New Footage; White House Addresses Following Biden's Signing Bill Providing Help To Taiwan, Israel, And Ukraine. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired April 24, 2024 - 14:00   ET



ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: A very warm welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, President Biden signs the long-awaited

foreign aid bill that will see desperately-needed equipment as well as ammunition sent to Ukraine's frontlines, we have the very latest for you.

Also ahead, U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson will visit New York's Columbia University, refuse in the coming hours as a standoff between pro-

Palestinian protesters and administration continues. We are live on the campus this very hour for you.

And a CNN exclusive. New video tells a very different story from what the Pentagon says happened during an attack outside Kabul airport in 2021.

We'll show you what it planned. But first tonight, U.S. President Joe Biden calls it a good day for world peace after he signed off on a desperately-

needed $95 billion foreign aid package for Ukraine, Israel, as well as Taiwan.

Now, the funding includes $61 billion for Ukraine. Biden says the U.S. will begin sending military equipment there within a few hours, he says. He

believes the funding will save lives as well as send a message to friends and foes alike.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We don't walk away from our allies. We stand with them. We don't let tyrants win, we oppose them. We

don't barely watch global events unfold, we shape them. That's what it means to be the indispensable nation. That's what it means to be the

world's superpower and the world's leading democracy. Some of our MAGA Republican men reject that vision.


SOARES: Well, a short time ago, the Pentagon revealed the United States secretly sent long-range missiles to Ukraine earlier this month. A U.S.

official says the missiles were quietly included in an aid package announced in March. Our politics senior reporter Stephen Collinson is with

us from Washington.

So, Stephen, let's start with this then, with this news that we found out in the lot -- the last what? Hour or so. That the Pentagon, the United

States has sent long-range missiles to Ukraine earlier this month. I mean, at one point, I remember this being a red line for the United States.

What's changed?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN POLITICS SENIOR REPORTER: That's right. Well, we've seen these red lines pushed further and further out. I think the longer

this conflict has gone on, the administration, while still cautious about not wanting to trigger a direct confrontation with Russia, has expanded the

extent of what is prepared to do.

I think there are still some restrictions on how Ukraine can use these weapons in terms of how deeply could go, for example, not just in Ukrainian

territory, but into Russian territory. And I'm sure there were some political reasons why that wasn't announced while this whole debate was

going on about how much and when the U.S. should send weapons to Ukraine.

But it is an interesting development. And I think the fact we're learning about it now is the White House wanting to show not just the Ukrainians,

but the Russians as well, that this U.S. aid is now forthcoming and will be fairly quickly. And they hope it will begin to effect developments on the


SOARES: Indeed, and look, this Ukraine bill, there's no word about it. It's a huge win, is it not for the Biden administration? I mean, just speak to

the effort that to get this through the line in a bipartisan way here.

COLLINSON: I think it was an instance of smart patience on the part of the Biden administration. They didn't panic when it couldn't first get through.

Critics would say this is months and months late. Thousands of Ukrainians have died and the Russians have been able to get a foothold on the


That's correct, but in the end, as the president said, it did get through. A lot of this is to do with a rare act of political courage by the

Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson, who did put his job on the line to get this through. And he decided that he was going to take more

internationalist view of American national interests than he had previously when he was a backbencher, when he voted against Ukraine aid.

He defied the warnings that he would lose his job from the far-right of the Republican Party if he passes aid, because he needed to use a lot of

Democratic votes. He could still be in trouble down the road, but this is a rare example I think of a politician, especially in the polarized U.S.

Congress who looks at a situation and changes his views.


And he probably deserves quite a lot of credit for it.

SOARES: Yes, and Stephen, wonder, reporting that we have from our Arlette Saenz is that, one of the directives from President Biden to his team is

that, asking them to refrain from any sort of targeted attacks against Johnson as much as possible. I mean, you're talking about smart patience.

Talk about that strategy.

COLLINSON: Right. One of President Joe Biden's biggest political liabilities, of course, is his age. But sometimes, it really does help,

having been around a long time. The President does understand the rhythm of passing bills in Congress. He was a senator for decades.

He understands that sometimes you have to give your adversaries space, he didn't want his people coming out and attacking Johnson. To make it even

more difficult, sometimes politicians need time to work their way to a -- and their caucus to a different position.

Johnson also got a lot of classified briefings from the CIA and other agencies which seem to have helped change his mind, which was quite

interesting, given the fact that the Republican Party, because of Donald Trump is very suspicious of the Intelligence agencies.

So, you know, the President -- he's not just passed this bill. He's got a really good record of legislation passed, like bipartisan infrastructure

for example, that his predecessors didn't manage. And I think in this case, it really helps that Biden was a creature of the Senate, he understands


He understands how to give your adversaries some space in politics. And that's the reason this ended up getting done.

SOARES: Yes, and that's clearly a visible -- in the strategy that we have seen that is taking months of course, to get these bills through the line.

Stephen, as always, great having you on the show, and I think --

COLLINSON: Thanks --

SOARES: What we're all waiting to hear is to take you to the White House, I think we've -- I'm hoping we have the shot here, a press conference here,

not just from the White House Press Secretary, but we're also expecting to hear from the National Security adviser, Jake Sullivan, of course, as soon

as that gets underway, we will bring that to you.

Well, as Ukraine waits for the arrival of what that aid that Stephen was talking about, Russia continues to launch attacks on multiple targets as

well as capture territory. Our Clare Sebastian has a look at the challenges now facing Ukrainian forces.


CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): This is what Ukraine's frontlines looked like last October, around the time President Biden made

this impassioned appeal to Congress for more aid.

BIDEN: When dictators don't pay a price for their aggression, they cause more chaos and death, and more destruction.

SEBASTIAN: Well, this time lap shows how we got there. The first year of the war, bringing three successful counteroffensives to the Kyiv region,

and eventually, we see in the Kharkiv region here and then down in Kherson. The second year though very different. Territorial gains or losses grinding

almost to a halt.

Then from October last year, if we go back there, and you see the months go by, if we zoom in on this crucial area of the eastern front, things start

to gradually change. The Russian advance begins, and then by the middle of February, Ukraine had had to withdraw from the town of Avdiivka.

The town that it had resisted for the best part of a decade. And the Russian advance didn't stop there.


Well, if the red-shaded area is Russian-occupied territory, you can see that by the end of March, Russia had taken a few more villages down here,

tiny amounts of territory, but signaling an unstable frontline. And now, the advanced continues towards Ocheretyne up here and Novokalynove.

Again, just villages, critical higher ground and more potential Russian progress. And it's not just there that Russia is attacking down in the

south, it's fighting to regain villages like Robotyne that Ukraine took back last year. And Ukraine's second city of Kharkiv is under relentless


SERGEY LAVROV, FOREIGN MINISTER, RUSSIA (through translator): We need to move back the line from which they can hit us. As I understand it, Kharkiv

plays an important role here.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT, UKRAINE: Putin must be brought down to us, and our sky must become safe again.

SEBASTIAN: And remember Bakhmut, Russia's only significant victory of last year. Well, it's now redoubled its efforts to advance west of there and

take the town of Chasiv Yar, that would be a huge blow for Ukraine, opening up critical routes to towns like Kramatorsk in the north and

Kostiantynivka, and giving Russia more higher ground to fire on those military hubs.

Well, the bottom line, Ukraine believes a major Russian offensive may be coming as soon as May. So, new U.S. aid can't reach these frontlines soon

enough. Clare Sebastian, CNN, London.


SOARES: Indeed, let's go to our Fred Pleitgen who is in the port city of Odesa, which has been the target of course, of recent multiple attacks. And

Fred, just a heads-up, we are expecting to hear from the National Security adviser at the White House.

We are expecting that to come to us any time soon. We are monitoring. I might have to interrupt, so, apologies in advance. But look, let me just

pick up with what we heard there from our Clare Sebastian. Clearly, you know, these weapons, this equipment can't come soon enough.


We have seen your reports here on the show from the frontlines of soldiers stockpiling ammunition, even firing smoke shells. This has been a battle

for ammunition. Does this aid from U.S. cover that? Just add some context here.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDNT: Hi there, Isa. Well, first of all, I think most Ukrainians who are watching us right now

probably wouldn't mind listening to the national security adviser because, of course, they want all the details about this weapons package as well.

But as far as the ammunition is concerned, first of all, you're absolutely right. Some of these reports that we did do about the Ukrainians using

smoke shells on the frontline. That situation is actually even worse than most people think, because the fuses that the Ukrainians had on those smoke

shells, they didn't even allow the smoke to get released.

They were essentially using these shells just as iron cannon balls, almost in medieval ways, trying to hit Russian vehicles or Russian troops,

obviously doing very little damage. So, in other words, the Ukrainians really have a massive shortage of ammo, and I think right now with this new

weapons package, they're not expecting that this is going to turn the tide in the war here, or they won't be able to gain ground back fairly quickly,

but they do hope that there'll be able to hold up some of those Russian advances.

And of course, artillery, ammunition, some of the other ammunitions also that are mentioned in these weapons package as well, those could go a long

way because the Ukrainians have been saying that in some cases, they are in their positions and their artillery positions, they can see the Russians

going towards the frontlines trying to advance, but they can't fire at them because they simply don't have enough shells.

And the Ukrainians have said -- you've heard this from frontline troops as well, that they expect that once these shells come across the border into

Ukraine, President Biden, of course, has sensitivity, wants to get all that going in the next couple of hours, that they will reach the frontlines very


So, that could make a big difference. Of course, all that depends on how many shells the United States is going to send. But I was quite interested

to see in this new package -- this weapons package, that ammo really played a big role in it. And I think for the Ukrainians right now, that certainly

is the most urgent, indeed, Isa.

SOARES: Yes, and sticking with ammunition, I mean, what about the 1 million rounds of ammunition that have been promised? I mean, from your deadline,

of course, you and I have talked about this, has any of this been met, because I know that production capacity was a problem here in Europe?

PLEITGEN: But none of it has been met so far by the Europeans. And I think that that's something where when that promise was made for the 1 million

shells, I don't think anybody -- the European Union really knew how they were actually going to fulfill that.

And one of the big issues that I think the Europeans have had, we know that they've had because we reported about it, was that their production line

simply weren't big enough and weren't ready to start production on that scale. What you are seeing now however, and I have been at a big weapons

producer, ammunition producer also in Germany, is that a lot of that ammo production is really starting to speed up, and it's starting to get


And one thing that leaders in Germany and Europe have told me is they believed that a lot of that ammunition that was promised, that has been

very late, has been delayed. A lot of that is going to start hitting Ukraine and also European countries that are also increasing their

stockpiles towards the latter half of the year. So, come Fall, they think that big deliveries are going to happen.

SOARES: Right, so, that's on ammunition. Let's talk about air systems, missiles, because as we all know, Ukrainian officials, Fred, have been long

-- for long been time in asking both in private and in public for these wrong long-range missiles, of course, to target deeper of course, into

Russian lines.

And for a while, as we have heard, American officials have resisted this. We have heard -- learned in the last hour the U.S. secretly sent long-range

missiles to Ukraine earlier. I think it was earlier this month. What strikes you that stands out in this package that will make a difference on

those frontlines that Clare was just outlining there for us.

PLEITGEN: Well, I mean, certainly, one of the things that isn't necessarily mentioned in this package, but that Stephen was talking about that the U.S.

now acknowledges those are ATACMS, obviously --

SOARES: Yes --

PLEITGEN: Those longer-range missiles, we have to say they're not long- range missiles, they're longer-range missiles than what the Ukrainians have had so far. They could reach about 190 miles, which is certainly a lot

longer than anything that the Ukrainians have in terms of missiles right now.

So, those can make a big difference. For instance, if you're trying to target airfields in occupied Crimea, there's some chatter about that. Maybe

some of these ATACMS were already used to target an airfield in Crimea that the Russians are currently holding.

The big question, of course, is, are the Ukrainians going to be allowed to also target areas in Russia. One of the things --

SOARES: Yes --

PLEITGEN: That we've seen actually on Russian state TV, which we also of course, monitor very closely, they're quite concerned about this. They've

been talking about the range of these ATACMS missiles and the damage that they could do to Russian territory and to Russian occupied territory as

well. So, that's a big deal for the Ukrainians to have that longer strike capability, Isa.

SOARES: Fred, thank you very much for us there in Odesa, stay close, Fred, as soon as we hear from the National Security adviser Jake Sullivan, of

course, bring you into the conversation. Appreciate it as always, Fred.


PLEITGEN: Now, to another story we are following here on CNN. Abortion access in U.S. is an issue we talk about a lot, particularly since Roe

versus Wade, of course, was overturned back in 2022. Today, Democrats in the Arizona legislature set to meet once again in an attempt to repeal an

abortion ban that dates back to 1864, and that ban applies to all abortions except to save the life of the mother.

And on Tuesday, U.S. President Biden highlighted Florida's lack of abortion access, whiles as you can see there, campaigning in the same state of his

rival Donald Trump's adopted home. Now, the focus shifts to Idaho. Today, U.S. Supreme Court justices heard arguments on whether abortions can be

enforced in medical emergencies even in states that ban the procedure.

It's a monumental case that could, of course, could reverberate nationwide. I want to bring in our Jessica Schneider, who's been across the story and

joins us now from Washington. And Jessica, great to see you. Look, just explain to our viewers right around the world the arguments we heard today

and the questions we heard from the judges, and whether that gives us any sort of inkling, which way they may go.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Isa, you know, actually this case, they were very divided, so, it's kind of a biting-our-nails, waiting

and seeing when they finally issue this opinion probably, likely sometime in June, it was a very heated two hours of arguments.

And this is somewhat of a very technical case. However, it could have wide- ranging implications when it comes to abortion around the country. And this is only two years after the Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade. So, at the

heart of these arguments, this is about a federal law and a state law in Idaho, and the Biden administration is arguing that they conflict.

The federal government is saying that federal law should really append or preempt the Idaho law. So, the Idaho law, it's this near-total ban on

abortions. It is currently in effect and it does make it a crime to perform or assist in an abortion. The only exceptions are if a woman's life is in

danger, or if the woman was a victim of rape or incest.

Now, the Biden administration is saying that the Idaho law conflicts with another federal law, that law is known as EMTALA. It was enacted in the

1980s. And what is it -- what it does is, it requires emergency room doctors to step in and offer what's called stabilizing treatment. When a

woman's health is in danger, they have to offer this treatment even if, you know, her injury isn't life-threatening.

The law says the doctor should offer all necessary treatment, and the federal government is saying that includes abortions, Idaho disagrees with

that. They're saying there's nothing in the federal law that says anything specifically about abortion, and says that this law was only enacted with

the intent that emergency doctors would have to treat patients regardless of their ability to pay.

So, a somewhat technical argument about which law should really apply in the state of Idaho, obviously, the justices were very passionate throughout

these arguments. And it does seem that they were very divided. It wasn't clear which way this court will go. Two of the conservative justices

though, Isa, they did seem very concerned about how Idaho's law is administered.

You know, how doctors are being judged if they determine that a woman maybe is knocking on deaths door and needs an abortion. So, we'll see how they

rule here. A decision will likely be handed down sometime in late June, you know, just as we're in the thick of the presidential race. And of course,

abortion is just a huge topic that has really dominated, you know, elections both this year and in previous years as well, Isa.

SOARES: Yes, and on that, on the political aspect of this, like you were saying, Jessica, it's pretty much emerging as a key 2024 campaign issue,

abortion. I just want to show our viewers a graphic of the U.S. states facing abortion restrictions. I'm asking my producer to bring it up.

Those were banned -- those with legal with gestational limit as well as banned in two weeks, and I want to couple that graphic with what we've seen

in terms of polling. I think it's important because we know from recent polling, a majority of women think abortion should be legal in all or most

cases, including two-thirds, 67 percent of women in states where abortion is banned, and 71 percent in states where abortion is limited by

gestational limits.

A larger majority, 81 percent women, states where abortion is currently legal say abortion should be legal in all or most cases. So, I wonder -- I

mean, very quickly because we're running out of time. How does this play into the Biden campaign and the Biden strategy here?

SCHNEIDER: Well, I mean, the Biden administration is trying to do all they can to let the American public know, and those majorities that you see

there in those polls, let them know that they are fighting for women's rights. They are fighting against some of these all-out abortion bans.


I mean, what we're seeing in this case at the Supreme Court today was the Biden administration suing Idaho about their near-total abortion ban,

trying to use federal statutes to figure out ways to fight these abortion bans in various states. So, they are at least getting the effort out there.

I'll tell you, Isa, I'm not sure that the conservative justices on this court are going to buy into the Biden administration's argument.

I think the Biden administration very well could lose this, but at least, you know, outward facing -- in the public, facing arena here. At least, the

Biden administration is able to show that look, we are fighting against these abortion bans, not sure how successful they are going to be, but you

know, their Department of Justice has brought these lawsuits against Idaho, in particular, and they know it's a big issue.

They're trying all they can to advance things on the policy front, the legal front, and then also, you know, out on the campaign trail.

SOARES: And that's very much what we heard from President Biden when he was speaking at the campaign trail yesterday in Florida. Jessica, always great

to have you on the show, appreciate it, thank you very much.

SCHNEIDER: Thank you.

SOARES: And still to come tonight, we are monitoring White House, of course, we're waiting to hear from the National Security adviser Jake

Sullivan. You can see the live images there from the White House, we'll bring that to you when that gets underway.

Also here ahead on the show, the first proof of life since October the 7th, Hamas releases a video of an Israeli-American hostage who was seized and

taken into Gaza. We'll have more on that. And a top U.S. lawmaker calls for the re-signature -- resignation, I should say, of Columbia University's

president amidst ongoing pro-Palestinian protests there.

We have a live report for you from the campus, that's coming up after this very short break. You are watching CNN.


SOARES: Welcome back, everyone. We are seeing protests at some of the most prestigious universities in the United States over civilian casualties in

Gaza. These were earlier live pictures from University of Austin a short while ago. In fact, this is in Texas, where a large pro-Palestinian protest

was underway -- has been underway.

This is just moments ago, in fact. House Speaker Mike Johnson is planning to meet with Jewish students today at Columbia University in New York,

we'll take you there in just a moment.


The Republican lawmaker says he will call for the resignation of Columbia President Minouche Shafik in the wake of pro-Palestinian protests at the

school. Johnson called her a weak leader and said the demonstrations across the country are quote, "disgusting and unacceptable". Well, Hamas has

released a video of an Israeli-American hostage who was seized on October the 7th.

It is the first proof that Hersh Goldberg-Polin survived the injuries he suffered during the attack. We don't know when the video was filmed, but he

appears to make a reference to Passover, which of course began on Monday night. Our Jeremy Diamond is following the story for us from Jerusalem. And

Jeremy, what more are you learning about the hostage? What more can you tell us?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Well, Hersh Golberg-Polin is 23 years old. He was kidnapped on October 7th when -- while he was

attending that Nova Music Festival near the border with Gaza, when he was - - he was kidnapped there after surviving multiple grenades being thrown into a shelter where he and others were sheltering, trying to hide from

those Hamas militants on that day.

And this is indeed the first video that we have seen since a video of him emerged from October 7th showing him with his left hand, severely wounded.

In this video, you see him with most of -- a portion of his left arm is missing, including his left hand. You can see that he is talking about, you

know, nearly 200 days in captivity.

This is the week that we have now hit 200 days. So, while we don't know exactly when this video was filmed, there are a couple of indicators

including that reference to the holidays that suggests that this video was filmed fairly recently. And indeed for the family of Hersh Goldberg-Polin,

who have been advocating relentlessly for him over the course of the last six months.

They said that this was overwhelming for them to see this video saying that they were relieved to see him alive, but also concern for his well-being.

And then they issued this plea to international countries. Listen.


JON POLIN, FATHER OF HERSH GOLDBERG-POLIN: And we're here today with a plea to all of the leaders of the parties who have been negotiating to date.

That includes Qatar, Egypt, the United States, Hamas and Israel. Be brave, lean in, seize this moment and get a deal done to reunite all of us and our

loved ones, and to end the suffering in this region.


DIAMOND: And in the video, Hersh's mother also gives a message to him if he can hear her, telling him to stay strong and most importantly, to survive.

Now, we should note, of course, that Hamas has released videos like this over the course of these last six months, and often times, they do it to

try and achieve an effect.

We know that those negotiations between Israel and Hamas have really been stalled over the course of the last several weeks. They have even been

backsliding with Hamas, offering fewer hostages than has been the basis for these negotiations, going to less than 20 hostages for a six-week

ceasefire, rather than the 40 that have been discussed for months now.

And so, clearly, they are trying to influence the course of these negotiations. We know that while these negotiations are not moving in the

right direction right now, they are not altogether dead. And so, it will be interesting to see what kind of effect this may have, particularly, given

the fact that Hersh Goldberg-Polin is both an Israeli as well as an American citizen.

SOARES: Jeremy Diamond there with some important context. Thank you very much, Jeremy. Well, the European Union is joining calls by the United

Nations for an independent investigation into two mass graves in Gaza, both found on the grounds of hospitals that were destroyed in Israeli operation.

The latest was discovered a few days ago, we bought you here the story on the show in Khan Yunis. Gaza Civil Defense says nearly 350 bodies have been

recovered so far from the Nasser Hospital Complex, many of them dismembered. In response to a CNN inquiry, Israel's military said the

quote, "claim that the IDF buried Palestinians bodies is baseless and unfounded."

And still to come tonight, CNN has uncovered new details about the chaotic 2021 evacuation from Kabul. We'll look at that Pentagon's claim of what

killed dozens of civilians as well as U.S. soldiers. That story next.



SOARES: Welcome back, everyone.

I'll show you these images coming to us from Texas. As you can see, Austin, Texas, 1:30, the mass -- a number of students actually packed those

streets. Pro-Palestinian, supporters there. And these are images that we have seen right across the United States in some of the most prestigious

universities in the United States. And they have been protesting over civilian casualties in Gaza.

Earlier on, this was a video that we saw from University of Austin as well where a large pro-Palestinian protest was under way. You can see the police

there standing guard. We see police on horseback. Clearly, moments of tensions that we have seen across U.S. campuses. We have seen, you know,

not only at Harvard University, Emerson, Brown University, many students setting up camps, of course, across universities and including Columbia

University, where we have shown you a lot of the tensions.

Well, this is not Columbia, just important to point out. This is Texas, Austin earlier on. But we've seen similar tensions at Columbia University.

We've seen arrests, of course, as well at Columbia University. And we'll take you there in just a moment. But it gives you a sense of the tightened

tensions across these university campuses from East to the West Coast.

We'll keep an eye, of course, on these protests -- let me listen.

CROWD: Let him go. Let him go. Let him go. Let him go.

SOARES: Police there, as you can hear, let him go. Protestors screaming and chanting as police, I can only assume, are arresting some of the

protestors. A bit of a scrum so it's hard to tell. But clearly, very rowdy scenes and chaotic scenes just moments ago in Austin, Texas. We'll keep

across, of course, these images. Any more developments, we will, of course, bring them to you.


In the meantime, we have an exclusive report on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. If you remember, that was in 2021 as the Taliban took over the

country. U.S. forces were scrambling to get out, along with crowds of Afghans around Kabul's airport when a suicide attack hit.

170 Afghans and 30 U.S. service members were killed. The Pentagon says, the blast was behind all the deaths. But new video, an eyewitness evidence

obtained by CNN is questioning that. Here's CNN's Chief International Security Correspondent Nick Paton Walsh.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you guys in the right state of mind?



NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): This video, not fully seen in public before, reveals brutal facts long denied by the U.S. military. On August 26, 2021, a moment of acute

savagery at the end of America's longest war. Two Pentagon investigations insisted all 170 Afghans and 13 U.S. military who died here were killed by

an ISIS bomber and nobody hit by gunfire.

GENERAL KENNETH F. MCKENZIE, COMMANDER, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: No definitive proof that anyone was ever hit or killed by gunfire.

WALSH (voice-over): But this new video, which begins outside the airport's Abbey Gate entrance reveals much more shooting after the blast than the

Pentagon said. Combined with new accounts to CNN of Marines opening fire and gunshot injuries in Afghan civilians, it challenges the rigor and

reliability of the two Pentagon investigations that declared no Afghan civilians were shot dead in the chaotic aftermath.

The bomb detonates. The footage then stops and picks up three seconds later.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You good? You good?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right here. Right here.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got that on film, dude.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're breaking through. Is that all right, guys? Hey.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out, we're doing security.

WALSH (voice-over): Many marines here were young, some on their first deployment. The gunfire starts. They run for cover. This long burst is

about 17 shots, bringing us a total of 20. We're tallying shots fired and episodes of fire based on two forensic analyses on screen. You cannot see

who is still firing here and we never see Marines or anyone firing in this video.


WALSH (voice-over): Short, controlled bursts in isolation.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A CS gas canister has exploded in the blast. It's gas choking this marine. And in a moment, the total episodes of gunfire you've

heard will start being more than the three the Pentagon has said happened.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're still right here.

WALSH (voice-over): The gunfire continues. We leap forward 27 seconds. As Afghans, arms raised, run into the airport.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it's just smoke and dirt, bro.

WALSH (voice-over): One burst, now another.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that the -- TB, bro?

WALSH (voice-over): They wonder if the Taliban, the TB, is shooting. Two marines told us they saw the Taliban just on after the blast looking as

shocked as they were. Multiple marines we spoke to who were there said they felt they were under fire. But the Pentagon has insisted for two years no

militant gunmen opened fire here. They've said the only shots fired here were two bursts by U.S. marines and one from U.K. troops. Once in a big

burst from a nearby tower. All bursts near simultaneous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're pushing back. Let's -- get down. Are you good?

WALSH (voice-over): So, according to their investigations, we must be hearing Marines or the British firing here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get him water. Get him water.

WALSH (voice-over): Jump forward to nearly two minutes, during which there are three bursts, and they're heading outside to help. That's at least 43

shots in 11 episodes of shooting. Just short of four minutes of sporadic fire, most of which the Pentagon has said for two years did not happen.





WALSH (voice-over): This is how terrifying it was for Afghans outside minutes after the blast. Suhu was shooting. For the first time, a marine

eyewitness has come forward and told CNN the first big burst of gunfire at the start of the GoPro video you just saw came from where U.S. Marines were

standing near the blast site.


We're using a different voice to hide his identity as he fears reprisals for describing the gunfire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was multiple, there's no doubt about that. It wasn't onesies and twosies. It was a mass volume of gunfire.

WALSH: Down towards the Abbey Gate sniper tower from roughly an area not too far away from where the blast had gone off? That's where you heard the

shooting emanate from.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It would have been around that area, yes.

WALSH: And there were U.S. Marines, right? This was likely emanating from marines on the ground?


WALSH: You think they fired into the crowd?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I couldn't tell you for certain.

WALSH: But they wouldn't have fired into the air, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, they would not have fired into the air.

WALSH: Because you had a specific no warning shots order, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It wasn't a direct order, but it was a common understanding. No warning shots. These are kids, they're young, and they've

only been taught what they've been taught. Some of these kids have been with the unit for quite literally two, three months prior to deployment.

WALSH (voice-over): We spoke to over 10 other marines anonymously about gunfire. Some felt they were shot at. A couple even said they saw a gunman.

But two others stand out, who we were unable to reach ourselves. Both injured, both admitting some memories were fuzzy. But one clear he heard

orders to fire, the other that he opened fire himself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I see my platoon sergeant walk past us. Saying get back on that wall and shoot back at those. So, I'm like, oh we're in a gunfight


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like all I hear is ringing and -- flashes going on. And then I start hearing snaps. And then I start realizing, that's a -- dude

shooting at me. I just started shooting at the dude.

WALSH (voice-over): So, what of the Afghans themselves, 170 of whom died? The Pentagon has insisted all injuries and deaths were from the bomb and

its ball bearings. But two years ago, CNN heard significant evidence from 19 eyewitnesses that Afghans were shot and from Afghan medical staff

counting dozens of dead from bullets.

Key was Sayeed Ahmadi, head doctor at the Kabul hospital treating most of the wounded. Back then, he was afraid to speak openly and his account was

dismissed by the Pentagon. But now, we met him safe with asylum in Finland. He says, he and his staff had the expertise to diagnose over 50 dead from

gunfire that night.

DR. SAYEED AHMADI, FORMER KABUL HOSPITAL DIRECTOR: 170 people were killed, totally. But, the register, what we had, maybe one 145.

WALSH: And by your estimation, about half?

DR. AHMADI: More than half, I think, were killed by gunshot.

WALSH: So, when you hear the American investigation say that you're just wrong, that you don't know what you're talking about --

DR. AHMADI: I wonder, I hope one day they ask me or they call me what you saw, like you come here and ask me, you came to Kabul and asked me about

the situation. They never asked me.

WALSH (voice-over): Even though we described the video and our findings in great detail to the Pentagon, they said they would need to examine any new

unseen video before they could assess it. They said their first investigation had thoroughly looked at allegations of outgoing fire from

U.S. and coalition forces following the blast.

They said their review, released earlier this month, focus not on gunfire, but the bomber and events leading up to the blast, but found no new

evidence of a complex attack and uncovered no new assertions of outgoing fire, having no materialistic impact on the original investigation.

Investigators have also not interviewed any Afghans for their reports, the Pentagon said, leaving the question of how hungry for the truth are they?

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, London.


SOARES: And still to come tonight, more on the pro-Palestinian protests on U.S. college campuses. We'll talk with a student journalist at New York's

Columbia University and what he is seeing. These images you're looking at, though, are of Austin in Texas.



SOARES: If you're just joining us, let me bring you up today with some of the images, the live images of been -- we've been monitoring throughout the

hour out of Los Angeles, this U.S. University where you're seeing there, very clearly scuffles breaking out. We've seen similar protests across the

most prestigious universities across the United States from the East to the West Coast.

We've taken you not just to Los Angeles, as you can see there. Some police getting in the way, trying to prevent, it seems, police was punching there

just up in the air, one of the students. But you can see the tensions running high.

That -- the USC is on the right on your screen -- of your screen. On the left, those are the protests that we have been monitoring both L.A.

actually, pardon, also in L.A., a different signal for you. The reason I was going to skip is because we have also been monitoring the situation of

the tensions rising tensions out of the University of Austin in Texas. But these images, you can see there, large protests, pro-Palestinian protests

underway across Los Angeles there with a large police presence.

I want to go to images that we've been looking at as well out of Columbia because as you well know, we have seen protests in Columbia for several

day. We have also -- days, I should say. We have also seen arrests at Columbia.

And Omar Jimenez is with us. And Omar, I'm talking to you. I'm just showing viewers. Some of the scenes seems very chaotic scenes, not just in Los

Angeles, but in the last 10 minutes, we showed viewers scenes also out of Austin in Texas, where you are painting the scene of what the situation is

at Columbia University, because we are expecting, of course, the speaker, the House Speaker Mike Johnson, to be visiting in the next hour or so.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. No, you're exactly right. We've seen protests at universities like these all across the country. Here at

Columbia University, we're on the eighth day of an encampment-led protest here at the university where students have essentially been calling for

Columbia to divest from companies that support Israel.

Now, to give you an idea of what we are seeing on campus today. So, behind me where you see all of these folks gathered. There's some students and

some organizers from inside the encampment that are holding essentially what amounts to a press conference at this point where they've come out and

tried to explain and answer some questions whenever possible.

This is outside the Butler Library here, which is essentially the main library here on Columbia campus. And if I turn you this way, this is

actually the entrance into the encampment itself. So, you can see they've set up really a checkpoint of sorts. They have their own community

guidelines that they ask people to adhere to do to get inside.

And then, of course, above them, they have that sign hanging, what we are fighting for. That, of course, includes what I mentioned about trying to

push Columbia University to divest in those companies, they say, profit from Israel.

Now, what's critical about this was that in the first few days of this encampment being set up, the university president sent in the NYPD to clear

out the encampment, essentially right after she had been testifying on Capitol Hill about the rise of antisemitism on campuses.

So, Police came in, then it seemed to anger, not just students, but faculty as well. And crucially, there was a -- there's a deadline set 48 hours from

now, a little bit less now, to try and reach an agreement to clear out these encampments, or, as the administration has put it, they will have to

find alternative ways to clear it out.


SOARES: Thank you very much, Omar Jimenez. Great to see you stay across, obviously, the images. Appreciate it. Thank you. And of course, we'll stay

across all those live images that will be coming in of those protests across U.S. campuses.

I want to take you straight, though, to Washington, D.C., because we were expecting a White House press from Jake Sullivan. Let's listen in.

JAKE SULLIVAN, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: When our friends are attacked or threatened, we, the United States, stand up for them. We do our

part. We keep our word. And with that signature this morning, the president kept America's word that we would stand with Ukraine through thick and

thin, and that's exactly what we will do.

When Russia began massing troops on Ukraine's border, the president rallied the world to respond to Russia's aggression. He built a broad coalition

that flowed critical aid to Ukraine as the Ukrainian people defended themselves and then won the battle for Kyiv, the battle for Kharkiv, the

battle for Kherson, and regained half the territory that Russia occupied since 2022.

And the bill the president signed today and the significant and immediate military aid package he approved one minute later will send Ukraine the

supplies that it needs to make a significant different -- difference as they continue to fight for their sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The bill will also help replenish Israel's air defenses, which is even more important following Iran's brazen and unprecedented attack 10 days ago. And

it will help ensure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself against the very real threats it faces from Iran, as well as Iran's proxy. groups.

The supplemental will substantially increase humanitarian aid for Palestinian civilians in Gaza who are suffering so grievously as we work to

build on the progress of the last two weeks in terms of an increase in the amount of life-saving humanitarian assistance that has been and must

continue to flow into Gaza and the quantities and the type of humanitarian assistance that we have seen increase over the last two weeks. We need to

see continued increases and sustained increases as we go forward.

The bill will also enhance and expand humanitarian aid for those who have been impacted by instability, by conflict, by disaster all over the world,

including in Haiti and Sudan and Somalia. The bill makes important investments in our defense industrial base that will strengthen our own

military. And of course, it provides timely support to our allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific as well.

Getting this bill passed entailed months of advocacy, hands on work by President Biden himself, by his White House team, by his national security

team, and countless briefings, meetings, hearings, by departments and agencies across our government for the Congress in both the House and the


It was a long road to secure this funding, and I have to say, standing here today, it was too long. And the consequences of the delay have been felt in

Ukraine. Over the past six months, Ukraine has had to ration ammunition, and that has resulted in the loss of some territory in the east, including

the city of Avdiivka.

And while today's announcement is very good news for Ukraine, they are still under severe pressure on the battlefield. And it is certainly

possible that Russia could make additional tactical gains in the coming weeks. Russia has tried to grind out very slow, costly progress, on

multiple fronts over the past few weeks. They're threatening the town of Chasiv Yar. They're threatening settlements to the west of Avdiivka. And of

course, they're raining hell down on Kharkiv and other cities across Ukraine.

The fact is that it's going to take some time for us to dig out of the hole that was created by six months of delay before Congress passed the

supplemental. Ad that's why the minute the president signed the supplemental, he turned and signed a very substantial drawdown package that

includes urgently needed artillery and HIMARS ammunition, more armored vehicles, Javelins, Stingers and air defense interceptors. Among other

things, these capabilities are going to start moving immediately to make up for lost time.

At this critical moment, this is a way to show in deed as well as in word that the United States stands with Ukraine. And despite the challenges that

I've just described, I think it is very important for us to underscore that as we look ahead to the rest of 2024, our view is that Ukraine retains key

advantages in this fight. Ukraine can and will prevail. And that will be thanks to the bravery of its people, but also the support of its friends.

First, the Ukrainian military remains a resilient, brave, and effective fighting force. And even as Ukrainians waited for U.S. security assistance,

they were able to impose significant costs on Russia. Since the start of 2024, we estimate that Ukraine has destroyed more than 700 Russian armored

vehicles, and roughly 250 Russian tanks. Russia, meanwhile, has had to continue to throw its soldiers into the fight without proper training and



Second, our allies, as the president said this morning, have been mobilizing in support of Ukraine alongside us. Just yesterday, the U.K.

announced a significant new package of military aid for Ukraine, alongside major investments that they are making in their defense industrial base,

putting their defense budget on a path to reach 2.5 percent of their GDP by the end of the decade. And the United States welcomes these moves from a

stalwart ally.

Germany recently announced the donation of another Patriot system to Ukraine. The Czech government, whose prime minister was just here recently,

has raised enough money to purchase half a million artillery shells for Ukraine, with hundreds of thousands more beyond that to follow. And Estonia

recently announced its own ambitious effort to secure even more artillery and other forms of ammunition for Ukraine.

And then third, the United States is building up our capacity to support Ukraine. For example, we're investing in our own domestic production --

SOARES: That's National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, of course, talking about the $95 billion foreign aid package for Ukraine that was signed by

the President, President Biden today, for Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan. $61 billion for Ukraine. As we heard Jake Sullivan say there, Ukraine can and

will prevail.

We'll have much more after this short break.