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New Day

Fetterman Comes Under Fire; Kevin Rodriguez is Interviewed about being a Medica in Ukraine; Sara Azari is Interviewed about Johnny Depp's Case; More on Alexei Navalny. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired April 22, 2022 - 08:30   ET



LT. GOV. JOHN FETTERMAN (D), PENNSYLVANIA SENATE CANDIDATE: Democrats in this cycle? Not one hand. Not one hand. I agree with you. It's going to be a tough cycle for Democrats. And we cannot afford to write off any part of Pennsylvania.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Fetterman now the front-runner in a three-way race ahead of the May 17th Democratic primary for the Senate seat being vacated by Republican Pat Toomey. A race also defined by its intense debate over what it means to be a Democrat.

On one side, Fetterman calling for the legalization of pot, backing an assault weapons ban and Medicare for all, and pushing an increase in the minimum wage, and also harshly critical of moderates like Joe Manchin for stopping a bulk of President Joe Biden's agenda.

FETTERMAN: Our party has room for diversity of thought, but if you are looking for a Joe Manchin Democrat, I am not your candidate.

RAJU: But don't voters want some level of bipartisanship to --


RAJU: Some pragmatism to their politics and not for one party going too far?

FETTERMAN: I agree. I also want a full head of hair, but realistically that's not going to happen right now.

RAJU (voice over): Fetterman says he's within the Democratic mainstream.

FETTERMAN: I don't mean to nitpick, but I wouldn't categorize myself as progressive. I'd consider myself a Democrat that's running on the same platform of ideas that every other Democrat in this race is running on.

If a moderate Democrat is somebody that would break with the rest of the caucus and screw up Build Back Better or the Democratic agenda, then I'm not a moderate.

RAJU: Conor Lamb, a centrist, representing a swing Pittsburgh area district in the House, has been known to buck his party, including by opposing Nancy Pelosi as speaker. But even as Lamb has aligned with Fetterman on progressive views, such as gutting the filibuster, he has struggled it keep pace in fund-raising and the polls. And he is now sharpening his attacks against the front-runner.

REP. CONOR LAMB (D), PENNSYLVANIA SENATE CANDIDATE: I know a lot of people in our party like him, but it's an awful big risk with an election as high stakes as this.

RAJU: There's also this reality, Biden's approval rating is under water, but none of the Democrats here are running away from him yet.

FETTERMAN: We're going to embrace Joe Biden.

LAMB: I've campaigned with him a lot. So, there -- yes, there's no -- there's no downside to that in my mind.

RAJU: But one dilemma confronting Democrats, voter anger over gas prices, inflation, and frustration over Washington gridlock.

MALCOLM KENYATTA (D), PENNSYLVANIA SENATE CANDIDATE: I think people are looking around, for real, and just saying, what the -- what the hell are we doing?

RAJU: Yes.

KENYATTA: What is the hell are we doing?

RAJU: And as for the moderates bucking the Democratic agenda --

KENYATTA: I would call it full of crap.


RAJU: Now, at last night's debate, the rivals attacked Fetterman over a 2013 incident which was -- when he was mayor of the town of Braddock in which he chased down a suspected shooter in that town and pulled out a gun, and that person just happened to be a black man who was out for a jog.

Now, he has defended his efforts there, said that he was just trying to keep his community safe. His community has since had re-elected him twice after in a majority African American community.

And, Brianna, when I asked him this week about that specific incident, I said, do you regret your role in this? He said, quote, it's not something that I would want to go back to, but he didn't go as far as saying I'm sorry. And some of the critics are out there pointing that out.

KEILAR: Yes. They think it will make a difference.

What a race to watch. Thank you so much for bringing that to us. Appreciate it, Manu.

Just revealed, disturbing text messages from Johnny Depp as he faces his ex-wife, Amber Heard, in court.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Depp, you said, I will (EXPLETIVE DELETED) her burnt corpse afterwards to make sure she is dead.


KEILAR: And in Ukraine, brand-new satellite images appearing to show mass graves along the outskirts of Mariupol. We're joined next by a former U.S. special forces combat medic who has gone there to save lives.



SCIUTTO: New this morning, the mayor of Mariupol says that he estimates now 20,000 -- 20,000 civilians have been killed in his city. These satellite images appear to show hundreds of mass graves, an effort, Ukrainian officials believe, to cover up the killing of civilians.

Our next guest is a former member of the U.S. special forces. He's currently performing combat medicine in some of the most dangerous parts of the country, including down in southeastern Ukraine.

Kevin Rodriquez joins us now.

Kevin, it's good to have you on this morning. I wonder if you could give folks at home a sense of what the fighting is like on the front lines.


So, it's basically -- I like to think of it, me being back home, and just being driven from my home. And as a fighting aged male, having to defend like my own backyard. And for those people that are there, when we see them come from front lines, it's just ghastly, pale white. It's horrible.

SCIUTTO: Yes. I imagine the wounds you're seeing are just horrible.

How are you able to save lives given all the challenges you're facing down there?

RODRIGUEZ: So, Jim, specifically Darkhorse Benefits, this charity, we've been focusing on outfitting the Ukrainian troops to treat them themselves.


RODRIGUEZ: We're focusing on a force multiplier here. So we train them. I -- we're only a small team. It's three of us. Previously five. We've had to rotate out. So we can only do so much. So, we're focusing on that force multiplier piece, having them train more, one trains four, four can treat four people. So that's how the main mission we're focusing on.

SCIUTTO: You are, yourself, a veteran of war. How does this war and what you're seeing, the kinds of wounds you're seeing, the kinds of challenges the Ukrainian medics you're training are facing, how does it compare?


RODRIGUEZ: So, compared to wars the United States have seen, it's different in the sense, different environment, it's a near pure threat, but combat medicine is pretty similar in the treatment of it. The main thing that we're hearing is, hey, if we had a tourniquet, we could have saved a life. That applies to any war.


RODRIGUEZ: And the number one preventable cause of death in the battlefield is massive hemorrhage, and it's treated with a tourniquet. The same thing apply.

SCIUTTO: Do you run into a lot of Americans? I've spoken to a number of Americans, former service members like yourself, who are volunteering doing medical work, combat medicine, but also joining the fight. Tell us why you and colleagues like that have been moved to come here to Ukraine to do your part.

RODRIGUEZ: So, a friend of mine, a nurse I worked with, she's from here, Ukraine. She asked me, hey, do you know of anybody doing anything? Are you doing anything? I wasn't. So, I, having a special skill set, and serving for years, I felt I could -- I could do something.

So, I was reached -- this nonprofit, Darkhorse, reached out to me and asked me, hey, we have a 70 percent plan. We're going to go treat people and save some lives. I signed up. It was -- that was it.


RODRIGUEZ: And we're coming here and I'm glad I came. You know, people thanking me. You know, seeing the confidence from when we train somebody, when we outfit them with gear, and seeing a little light go off in their head that they're prepared at least to do something, it's rewarding. And I'm happy to help.


Just before we go, you're working with Ukrainians who are fighting a very difficult war against a bigger and a better armed opponent. But they're brave and it's their homeland, as you said. Do you think they can win this?

RODRIGUEZ: I'm not focused that far on the big picture, Jim. I'm just here. It's take it day by day and little by little. You (INAUDIBLE) one bite at a time. So, I'm just trying to work on outfitting these guys, save as many lives as possible.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Well, that makes a difference, saving lives.

Kevin Rodriguez, former U.S. special operations service member, thanks for joining us.

RODRIGUEZ: Thank you, Jim. Thanks for having me.

SCIUTTO: This morning, there are new questions after the mysterious deaths of two Russian oligarchs just days apart from each other. What happened?

And back in the U.S., Johnny Depp confronted with just graphic texts and video of angry outbursts during a tense cross examination. See what happened in the courtroom.



KEILAR: In explosive, new text messages submitted into evidence yesterday, actor Johnny Depp uses shocking language to multiple third parties about his ex-wife, Amber Heard. We should warn you that some of this is graphic.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After you said, let's drown her before we burn her, Mr. Depp, you said, I will (EXPLETIVE DELETED) her burnt corpse afterwards to make sure she is dead. That's what you said that you would do after you burned her and after you drowned her.

JOHNNY DEPP, ACTOR: Is the slippery whore that I donated my jizz to for awhile staying there???

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You tell Mr. Barush (ph) on October 18, 2016, hopefully that (EXPLETIVE DELETED) rotting corpse is decomposing in the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) trunk of a Honda Civic!!

Did I read that right?

DEPP: You did.


KEILAR: Joining us now to talk more about this is criminal defense attorney Sara Azari.

Sarah, there's so much to talk about here. So I'm just going to say, you tell us what we should be focusing on after this really, I don't know, bombshell of a day in court.


Yes, you know, we have to keep bringing this back to the op-ed. This is about the op-ed and whether Amber Heard was a victim of domestic violence.

It was a bad day for Depp yesterday. The cross examination was a modulated drip on his character and credibility. And, however, with the beginning of this trial, and a lot of this can be explained, the idea that he's made inconsistent statements, lied about his alcohol abuse and drug abuse. You know, addiction is a disease and denial and lies are part of that disease. They're symptoms of that disease. So, all of this, I expect, can be explained.

With respect to the video that we saw in his kitchen that he calls, you know, assaulting things, that is vandalism (ph).

KEILAR: Actually, wait, Sara, can I pause on that because we have that video. So, let's play it and then we'll talk about it.

AZARI: Sure.



JOHNNY DEPP: You want to see crazy. I'll give you (EXPLETIVE DELETED) crazy. Here's crazy. Oh, you're crazy. (INAUDIBLE) crazy.

HEARD: Have you drunk this whole thing this morning?

DEPP: Oh, you got (INAUDIBLE).


HEARD: No, you just started it.

DEPP: Oh, really?


DEPP: Really?


KEILAR: What did you think of that?

AZARI: Awful. It is now -- he's now looking like a completely different Depp than the one that has been on the stand testifying, and closer to someone who would engage in domestic violence.

But we also have to remember that both of these individuals, Brianna, are saying that they're victims of domestic violence and yet there's evidence on both sides that they have also perpetrated domestic violence. [08:50:09]

So, at the end of the day, this jury is going to be tasked with deciding, is this a relationship of mutual combat and how does that impact her statement in this op-ed that she's merely a victim of domestic violence. It sounds like we have two perpetrators.

KEILAR: I also think, Sara, that, of course this is a legal case and you are focused on that as you should be. There also seems to be a battle for public opinion going on here.

AZARI: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

I think, Brianna, you know, at the end of the day, all of the stuff that we've been seeing goes to the voracity of that op-ed and what Heard said. But that is the easiest element of defamation. The harder part is to prove actual malice and then the damages.

We found out that he lost the gig with "Pirates of the Caribbean" before the op-ed, not as a result of the op-ed. And so he's got some hurdles to overcome. But, to him, and he's -- it's one of the first things he said on the stand, what matters is his truth. It might not be the truth to this jury, but it's his truth. And I think that's what's going to matter to Hollywood.

Hollywood is not holding its breath on the verdict of this case. Hollywood wants to hear his redemption, his cycle of abuse, why -- why -- how he did end up in this place in the first place? And so I think that's why he's come forward, not once, but twice.

KEILAR: Yes, I think that's important to him and I think that's important to Amber Heard as well, for sure.

Sara, really appreciate you being on. Thank you.

AZARI: Good to be with you.

KEILAR: We have some new questions this morning after two Russian oligarchs and their families, their children, were found dead, just hours apart.

Plus, they're called phoenix ghost drones and they're headed to Ukraine. So how do these new American-made weapons work? How will they work on the front lines?

And breaking news, a suspect has been declared in that old case of missing British toddler Madeleine McCann. We have the new details, next.



KEILAR: Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny's message of resistance against Russian President Vladimir Putin is finding new weight amid his brutal invasion of Ukraine. A new CNN film set to premiere this weekend tells the story of the man daring to take on Putin.

CNN's Alex Marquardt has more.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): There is no greater antagonist or political threat in Russia to Vladimir Putin than Alexei Navalny. As a result, the 45-year-old opposition leader is now languishing in a Russian penal colony, serving a combined sentence of more than 11 years in prison.

ALEXEI NAVALNY: I understand how system work in Russia. I understand that Putin hates me.

MARQUARDT: Navalny's imprisonment is the culmination of more than a decade of activism, of being a thorn in Putin's side. He was a blogger and a lawyer who emerged in 2008, exposing corruption at some Russian state-owned companies.

ALEXEY NAVALNY, RUSSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER (through translator): The Putin regime is built on corruption. And Putin himself is the most corrupt.

MARQUARDT: In 2011, after allegations that parliamentary elections were rigged in favor of Putin's political party, Navalny rose to prominence as a leader in the large scale protests.

Over the years, he was repeatedly arrested, evidence of a growing popularity that threatened the Russian establishment's grip on power. His shining rise somewhat complicated in his early days with cooperation and marching alongside other anti-Putin forces, which included members of far-right nationalist groups. Navalny justifies it now by saying a broad coalition is needed to fight a totalitarian regime.

In 2013, he ran for mayor of Moscow, and lost to Putin's favorite candidate. The same year he was also convicted of embezzlement, a conviction which he called trumped up, that would prevent him for running for president against Putin in 2018.

Two years later, in August 2020, he boarded a flight from the central Russian city of Tomsk to Moscow.

Soon, his cries were heard throughout the cabin. Navalny knew exactly what had happened.

NAVALNY (on camera): So I'm over to the flight attendant and said to him, I was poisoned. I'm going to die.

MARQUARDT: He'd been poisoned with a chemical nerve agent called Novichok. He was flown to Germany for treatment. A joint investigation by CNN and the investigative group Bellingcat, uncovered the team of agents from the FSB, the successor to the KGB, that had tracked and followed Navalny for years before the poisoning.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Is it your contention that Vladimir Putin must have been aware of this?

NAVALNY: Of course, 100 percent.

MARQUARDT: CNN's Clarissa Ward and her team confronted a member of the FSB's toxin team, Oleg Tayakiin, at his apartment on the outskirts of Moscow.

WARD: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE). My name's Clarissa Ward. I work for CNN. Can I ask you a couple of questions? (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE). Was it your team that poisoned Navalny, please?

MARQUARDT: Five months after his poisoning, Navalny returned to Russia, knowing what awaited him.

NAVALNY: I will go back because I'm Russian politician. I belong to this country. I would never give Putin such a gift.

MARQUARDT: He was arrested on arrival. In prison, he started a hunger strike. He was initially sentenced to two and a half years for violating his probation, then another nine were added for fraud and contempt of court charges, which Putin critics say are clearly political.

Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.

KEILAR: The Sundance award-winning CNN film "Navalny" airs Sunday night at 9:00 Eastern here on CNN.

So, we do have some good news to report. "The Good Stuff" today.

Our very own John Berman is happily back home after this week's Boston Marathon and he says he is feeling 100 percent.


He's back to feeling better here. So, he's going to be here to tell us all about the adventure on Monday.

Have a great weekend.

CNN's coverage continues right now.