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Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) Enters Ukraine, Joins New Day As War Intensifies; 150+ Injured In Violence Clashes At Jerusalem Mosque; China Conducts Military Drills Near Taiwan Amid U.S. Lawmakers' Visit. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired April 15, 2022 - 07:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, the Russian military claims it struck a military facility on the outskirts of Kyiv with a cruise missile just days after threatening more attacks on the capital.

Joining us now from Ukraine is Sen. Steve Daines. He visited Kyiv, as well as Bucha, and he's one of the first members of Congress to visit the country since the invasion began. Senator, thank you so much for being with us.

Could you tell us why you think it was so important for you to go, and what the most revealing thing you saw or have seen was?

SEN. STEVE DAINES (R-MT): Well, John, we're hearing lots of reports of prime ministers, of president, of members of Parliament who have visited Kyiv and have been to Bucha. I think it was very important to have American presence there as well to see it firsthand.

And I've got to tell you, I'm standing here in western Ukraine at the moment, but I've got to tell you it was gut-wrenching to see what's happened here with these war crimes committed by these Russian soldiers and Vladimir Putin.

John, we're the parents of four children and three grandchildren. To see these mass graves being exhumed before our very eyes -- the stench there was just -- it was repulsive. It was horrible.

At the same time, you're, looking at the bomb-out residential complexes where the Russian have intentionally bombed innocent civilian houses, apartment complexes, retail centers. This is the definition of a war crime. And when they are exhuming the bodies of children, of women, of civilians.

We've got great help from the French and others who have sent their forensic scientists who are doing autopsies now. We watched them literally pull the bodies out of the trench and take them into a tent where they were photographing the wounds, the nature of death because there is going to be a war crimes trial with the ICC. It needs to happen and Vladimir Putin needs to be held fully accountable for what he has done to the people of Ukraine.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Senator, it's Brianna Keilar. And I wanted to ask you about this new tranche of weapons that is being sent from the U.S. These next couple of weeks could be really pivotal in whether Ukraine is able to push Russia back effectively enough.

Are those weapons going to get here in time?


DAINES: It's a real concern. I spoke with a number of Ukrainian leaders. I spoke with military leaders while I was there.

If there was one message it's this. The war crimes aren't going to end until the war ends. The humanitarian crisis is not going to end until the war ends. And the war is only going to end when the Ukrainians win this war against the Russians, and they're only going to win it if we can get this lethal aid to them in time.

They've got a long list. They've prioritized it. It's heavy artillery, it's heavy armor, it's surface-to-air capabilities. But time is of the essence. They not only need it quickly but they also need greater numbers.

And so, we've been communicating this, certainly, back to the administration and others in Washington because there's a window of time that we have at this -- at this moment. They pulled out of northern Ukraine. They pulled out of that are that we were -- that we saw visibly in Bucha, and they're not coming back to the south and the east. That is where this war is going to be won or lost.

BERMAN: Senator Steve Daines, we really do appreciate you joining us and sharing with us what you witnessed firsthand in and around the Ukrainian capital. Stay safe there, Senator.

DAINES: Thank you.

KEILAR: The child actor who famously played the girl in the red coat in Stephen Spielberg's Oscar-winning film about the Holocaust, "Schindler's List," is now grown up and working to help Ukrainian refugees at the Polish border. Her character in the film represented innocence among all the atrocities of the Second World War.

And just last week, Mimi Reinhardt, one of the most -- one of the fortunate Jewish people saved by the German industrialist Oscar Schindler passed away at the age of 107. She was the secretary who typed up Schindler's list of Jewish people to be spared from extermination by Nazi Germany. Joining us now is the "Schindler's List" actress who is helping Ukrainian refugees, Oliwia Dabrowska. Thank you so much for being with us.

Tell us what you are doing on the border -- really, not far from where you were where there was a Russian strike.

OLIWIA DABROWSKA, "SCHINDLER'S LIST" ACTRESS HELPING UKRAINIAN REFUGEES (via Skype): So, at the border, actually, I transport people. This is something that I do very often. But there is -- there is also another work to do. I am actually -- I moved here -- not still at the border but in my own city and a group of volunteers. So I not always work at the border -- usually from my hometown.

And this is a lot of needs finding homes, for example, finding medical help and schools for children or jobs for refugees. Actually, I can say I must react to the needs and I will do this. And if I can't -- I don't know how -- I will find someone who can. That is how it works.

KEILAR: Yes, and I know your mom is with you as well -- doing this as well.

I just -- I wonder, Oliwia, because I think the character you played was just so symbolic in that movie and it's something I was thinking about yesterday when I was talking about a little girl who died in Mariupol and she was wearing unicorn pajamas. I thought these unicorn pajamas are sort of like the red coat in that movie. And I wonder if you see that character you played in the children here in Ukraine.

DABROWSKA: In every kid -- in every girl, every boy. I saw so many children who are going across the border. I saw so many little eyes with tears -- eyes completely lost. And for me, there are thousands -- dozens -- thousands of children who are like this little girl in the red dress and this is -- it touched me a lot.

KEILAR: Well, I think we feel that way, too. So many people do, Oliwia. And the work you're doing is amazing. We thank you so much for joining us on "New Day" to talk about it.

DABROWSKA: Thank you very much for the support in Ukraine.

KEILAR: Breaking overnight, more than 150 people injured in clashes at one of Jerusalem's holiest sites. What sparked the chaos on a sacred day for Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. And new this morning, China's military is conducting drills around Taiwan as a group of U.S. lawmakers pay a visit there. We have live reports from both Jerusalem and Taipei ahead.



BERMAN: Two major breaking stories this morning.

In Jerusalem, violence ahead of holy weekend -- Easter Passover, Ramadan. And in China, military drills around Taiwan while U.S. lawmakers visit the country. And the Chinese, I should say, are conducting military drills around Taiwan.

CNN's Will Ripley is live in Taipei, but let's begin with Hadas Gold live in Jerusalem with a clash that left more than 150 people injured -- Hadas.

HADAS GOLD, CNN John, I'm at the Damascus Gate entry to the Old City and the stream of people you see behind me are the -- most of them are people leaving the Al Aqsa Mosque after the midday prayers.

Earlier today, around 5:00 a.m., clashes broke out at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound between Israeli forces and Palestinian protesters. The Israeli police say they had to respond to rioters they said were throwing rocks, as well as launching fireworks at them. The Palestinian Red Crescent said that more than 150 people were injured from things like stun grenades and rubber bullets.


Things are calm now but tensions have been rising in Israel and the West Bank for some time. The Israeli military had stepped up operations in the West Bank in response to a series of terror attacks over the past three weeks that killed 14 people in Israel.

And actually, Jerusalem, until now, had been calm. But Hamas, that militant organization that runs the Gaza Strip, have called on its supporters to come to Al Aqsa today and defend the mosque, they said, in the face of what they said were threats from Jewish extremist groups who wanted to come to the mosque compound, also known as Temple Mount to the Jews, and participate in a sort of Passover ritual sacrifice. So, people never made it up to the compound but obviously, clashes erupted.

The question is, of course, what will happen now. What will happen at the end of the day. And especially, how will Hamas, the militant group that runs Gaza, further respond. Because keep in mind, it was clashes just like these that happened last year just around this time that helped spark off that 11-day war between Hamas and the militants in Gaza and the Israeli Army -- John.

BERMAN: All right, Hadas. I know you're watching it very carefully. Thank you so much for being there for us -- Brianna.

KEILAR: And we go now to Will Ripley who is live in Taipei, Taiwan with China's reasoning for conducting those military drills in the area. Will, what can you tell us?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, these are the largest Chinese military drills near Taiwan that we have seen possibly this year. These were joint combat readiness drills, including naval raids and other military exercises. There were warships, there were bombers, there were fighter jets involved. And this was in not only the East China Sea but also in the airspace near Taiwan.

Why is China doing this? Well, they came out and told us. They said it's a response to what they call U.S. wrongful signs of support for Taiwan. They're angry about a bipartisan group of six U.S. lawmakers on the ground here, saying that this is U.S. bad behavior. Saying that these tactics are dangerous, futile. And they say the U.S. is continuing to go down a dangerous road, warning Washington now to continue these official-level exchanges.

Now, U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, the chairman do the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is here. He and his delegation, which includes Sen. Lindsey Graham, will be departing within the next couple of hours or so.

Senator Menendez did say that China's very unhappy, but he says there's a reason why U.S. lawmakers continue to come here. Because he said Taiwan's security has a global impact, especially given that this island produces 90% of the world's high-end semiconductors -- the chips that power everything from our computers to our smartphones, to our cars.

Senator Lindsey Graham said for the U.S. to abandon Taiwan would be to abandon democracy and freedom and reward the worst in humanity.

Brianna, Nancy Pelosi was actually supposed to be on a trip to Asia. It was widely reported that she would also have been coming here to Taiwan but her trip has been postponed due to COVID. But even the announcement of a possible trip by Nancy Pelosi drew an angry response from China last week. And if she does eventually make the trip here later this year, we have to monitor very closely what China's response will be, Brianna.

KEILAR: Yes, it is a very significant move.

Will Ripley, thank you for that report from Taipei, Taiwan.

A grim assessment by a top war crimes prosecutor after visiting towns in Ukraine laid to waste by Russian forces. CNN reporters are covering the war from all angles.


MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): I'm Matt Rivers in Lviv, Ukraine.

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Karim Khan visited the Ukrainian towns of Bucha and Borodyanka this week -- two places where mass graves and murdered civilians were discovered after the withdrawal of Russian forces from northern Ukraine earlier this month, according to a tweet from the ICC.

Khan said, quote, "Ukraine is a crime scene. We are here because we have reasonable grounds to believe that crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC are being committed. We have to pierce the fog of war to get to the truth."


The deputy chairman of Russia's National Security Council is threatening to ramp up Russia's military forces along the border with Europe, saying that they will more than double their troops on the western flank and potentially put nuclear weapons in the Baltic Sea, and reinforce their Navy there. This, Russia's reaction from Dmitry Medvedev, former prime minister and former president, reaction to the possibility that Sweden and Finland could join NATO.

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): I'm Clare Sebastian in London.

Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny is calling on the West to launch a major social media ad campaign to try to make more Russians aware of the truth about the war in Ukraine. Since Russia invaded Ukraine it has made it a crime to publish what it calls knowingly false information about its so-called special military operation -- a move that has almost completely stifled independent media in the country.

Navalny says the majority of Russians still access Western social media sites. And for the cost of one Javelin missile, they could get 200 million ad views.



BERMAN: All right. The breaking news this morning, a series of strikes across Ukraine overnight. This comes after Russia's key warship sinks in the Black Sea. Russia striking a military facility on the outskirts of Kyiv with a cruise missile. CNN is on the front lines this morning.

And President Biden's approval rating at a new low this morning. We'll dig into the numbers.


BERMAN: There is brand-new polling out on the presidential approval rating and it's not good for President Biden.

Joining us now, Harry Enten, CNN senior data reporter. These numbers are really tough.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: You know, John, I don't like just looking at one poll; I like looking at multiple polls. And there were four different polls released this week -- Quinnipiac; we had Hart/Public Opinion Strategies poll -- that's with NBC or CNBC; Ipsos/Reuters; CBS News/YouGov.

And I want you to look. These numbers kind of differ. They range from the low 30s to the low 40s. The low 40s is not good either.


But what's key is the lowest are tied for the low for the pollster. Lowest here, lowest here. This is one point off the lowest. Lowest here. And when you have three or four pollsters showing the lowest numbers for the President of the United States, that is indicative of a president who is in a lot of trouble -- at least to where he is standed historically.

BERMAN: Well, let's talk about history here. How does Joe Biden -- President Biden compare to former President Trump in this stage of the presidency?

ENTEN: You know, there was always that thing. Oh, Donald Trump has the lowest approval rating at this point in his presidency. We did it over and over and over and over again. Well, at this point in his presidency, Donald Trump's numbers actually -- his average approval rating is one point higher than Joe Biden's, which is at 41%. Donald Trump at 42%.

A first-term president at this point in his presidency -- this is the lowest. This is the lowest for anyone who was elected to the presidency and didn't get up there through the vice presidency. This is a really, really, really bad number.

BERMAN: And in terms of the effect it's having on the Democratic Party, you -- and I think this is a great thing to look at -- you look at special elections. And it's not always about who wins or loses special elections. It's about the margins.

ENTEN: It's about the margins.

So, there was the California 22nd special election that occurred last week and I think a lot of people weren't paying that much attention. It was Devin Nunes' old district. Because the districts basically can get torn up through redistricting. This district will not exist in a year.

But it's the baseline. It's comparing the result to the baseline. This was a jungle primary so all the Republicans and all the Democrats ran against each other in one round. And what did we see? We saw the total GOP vote -- look at that -- 66% -- a 32-point margin.

Compare that to the 2020 presidential baseline. The Republicans outperformed this by 14 points. The margin then was only about five or six. In terms of the margin, it was a 27-point overperformance.

This was the type of thing when we went back in 2018 and were like oh my God, look at all these great Democratic overperformances. This was a huge Republican overperformance.

BERMAN: And again, it's just a matter of Republicans doing better than they had in this same place. Not always about winning or losing and that's something -- the Republicans -- you see some strength there overall.

ENTEN: I do. So, you know, again, it's not just about one poll. It's not just about one election. It's about looking at the elections in total. So these are all the GOP state and federal legislative special elections through this point in the year. This is the average margin comparing this cycle with the last cycle. In 2022, the GOP, on average, is outperforming Trump by nine points. What a switcheroo from where we were in 2018 where the GOP was underperforming. Look at this -- underperforming Trump by 14 points. Of course, that led to a huge Democrat tidal wave that November.

BERMAN: Finally, one of the things driving this, the economy -- or economic concerns, I should say.

ENTEN: Yes, economic concerns. So, you know, look, we spoke about this earlier in the week. If you look at jobs, the economy is doing pretty good. If you look at inflation, not so good.

How do voters see it? How do Americans see it? This is the University of Michigan Consumer Confidence Index through this point of presidency. Look at that -- just 66 in April of 2022. Going back since 1978 it is tied for the lowest. It was 66 in April of 1982. Of course, that was a good year for Democrats in the House of Representatives with a Republican president.

And I'll just note if you don't believe that the economy is hurting the Democrats and Joe Biden, look at the net approval rating. That's approval minus disapproval. Joe Biden, at this point, minus-23 points. That is the worst on record since they started asking about economic job approval ratings back in 1978 with Jimmy Carter, who, of course, ended up -- the economy ate his presidency and put it to bits.

BERMAN: Harry Enten, thank you for being with us this morning.

ENTEN: Thank you, sir.

BERMAN: New Day continues right now.

KEILAR: Good morning to viewers in the U.S. and all around the world. It is Friday, April 15. I'm Brianna Keilar in Lviv, Ukraine, with John Berman in New York.

After the sinking of a Russian warship that Ukraine claims to have hit with a missile, there was a flurry of Russian strikes that we saw overnight and into this morning all across Ukraine here. The sinking of the Moskva, the crown jewel of Russia's Black Sea fleet, would be an enormous achievement for the Ukrainian military and it's a devastating setback for the Kremlin.

The Pentagon says it has no reason to dispute Ukraine's claim, though it cannot fully verify it.

Overnight, the Russian military says that it struck a military facility on the outskirts of Kyiv with a cruise missile. The Kremlin threatening to hit the capital here two days ago.

Russian forces are also rapidly building their presence in eastern Ukraine. Widespread shelling already being reported in the region. BERMAN: There are also reports of active hostilities and shelling around Izium and in Kharkiv as Russian troops continue their attacks there.

And a chilling warning from CIA Dir. William Burns. He says the potential for Russia to use tactical or low-yield nuclear weapons in Ukraine cannot --