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New Day

Coach Fired for Praying on Field; Nearly 40 Million Under Threat for Strong Winds and Floods; Taylor Greene Questioned in Challenge to Her Candidacy; Mayor of Kherson Joining New Day; Blinken and Austin Meeting with Zelenskyy; U.S. Holds Off Sanctioning Putin's Girlfriend; Baby Rescued from Burning Building. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired April 25, 2022 - 06:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: The Supreme Court takes up prayer in school today. This is a case that involves a high school football coach in Washington State who got fired for praying on the field. So, let's bring in CNN Supreme Court Analyst Joan Biskupic press could you pick to tell us about this.

OK. Tell us, Joan, who the Coach Joe Kennedy is and how his case wound up before the Supreme Court.

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Sure. Joe Kennedy is a former marine, a devote Christian who felt that he was called to coach these kids later in his life. And win or lose, he felt grateful to God. So, he wanted to always take a knee and pray quietly on the 50- yard line after the games.

He did this for many years. But then, eventually, other coaches, students, people in the community raised some mild concerns to the school district, and the school district wanted to head off any kind of liability for, you know, separation of church and state issues, First Amendment establishment clause issues and asked him not to do this so publicly.

And one thing led to another and he felt like he was effectively fired. He didn't reapply for his job. He wanted to do it in a way that didn't encourage the students to necessarily do it with him but he felt like he wanted to do it on the field and wanted to do it immediately after the games. They tried to not make it so visible.

And what he has said is that his First Amendment speech and religious rights have been infringed. The school district has said that if it hadn't taken some action, the rights of the students could have been infringed, that there could have been establishment clause concerns about them being coerced or pray or it looked like government was endorsing the speech.

So, the questions are, was this private or public speech? He was a public high school worker. So, that's kind of where we're at. Really important question about the rights -- religious rights from the coach's point of view, from the students' point of view and liabilities from the school district's point of view.

KEILAR: The fascinating, fascinating case. So, we will be keeping an eye on that today.

BISKUPIC: Yes. Let me just add one other thing, this is a court that's been very conservative, siding with religious conservatives and this could be a chance for them to start going backward on prohibitions against school prayer. So, so many different groups have come in to watch this and I would say with abortion and gun rights, it's a top case of this current term.

KEILAR: Yes, this is going to get so much attention. Joan, thank you for taking us through it.


KEILAR: Really appreciate it.


Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene called out in court for repeatedly advocating violence against Democrats. The social media post she claims she can't remember next.

BERMAN: Plus, a new report says U.S. officials have been hesitant to impose sanctions on a very, very close associate to the Russian president. More details on Vladimir Putin's alleged girlfriend. And --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hand me your baby. Hand me your baby.


BERMAN: He's saying hand me your baby. A dramatic rescue, how a deputy saved a baby from a burning building.



KEILAR: This morning, nearly 40 million people are under the threat for severe weather from Texas all the way to Western New York. So, let's go now to CNN meteorologist Chad Myers.

What are we seeing here?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: CNN Brianna, lots of lightning, even the overnight hours when things typically calm down and even a little wind out there. This weather is brought to you by the Tractor Supply Company, providing pet food, animal feed, backyard and grilling supplies.

So, this is not a severe weather tornado outbreak day, but there's an awful lot of people in this green area here that will see the storms charge from the Midwest to the East and be right over the East Coast for tomorrow afternoon. Probably not as severe tomorrow, but certainly for today, watch out for the lightning, make sure the pets are inside if that happens and just kind of keep an eye out to the West, because that's the way these storms will be going.

Some rainfall here. But the biggest story, I think, for the eastern half of the U.S., cooler air is on the way. And even for Chicago, it may be feeling more like kind of the end of winter rather than the beginning of spring. Brianna.

KEILAR: I swear it changes every day. I guess that's the weather, Chad.

MYERS: It's why you have me.

KEILAR: That is Chad Myers. Thank you.

BERMAN: So, Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene took the stand on Friday in a hearing to determine if she should be constitutionally barred from running for reelection because of her alleged role in the January 6th insurrection. There was a lot of not recalling when asked if she discussed planning for a march on the capitol with any of her colleagues. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You didn't talk to anybody in government about the fact that there were going to be large protests in Washington on January 6th?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You spoke to Representative Biggs or his staff about that fact, didn't you?

GREENE: I do not remember.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How about Representative Gosar?

GREENE: I'm sorry, I don't remember.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did anyone ever mention to you the possibility that there might be violence in Washington?

GREENE: I don't remember.


BERMAN: And in another moment, Taylor Greene first denied that she had called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a traitor to her country before kind of hedging a little bit when faced with actual evidence of saying it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In fact, you think that Speaker Pelosi is a traitor to the country, right? GREENE: You're -- I'm not answering that question, it's speculation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've said that, haven't you, Ms. Greene, that she is a traitor to the country?

GREENE: No, I haven't said that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Put up Plaintiff's Exhibit 5, please.

GREENE: Oh, no, wait. Hold on now. I believe by not upholding the -- securing the border that that violates her oath of office.


BERMAN: Joining us now, John Avlon, CNN's senior political analyst and author of "Lincoln and the Fight for Peace" and Laura Jarrett, attorney at law and anchor of CNN's "Early Start."

Counsel, I do want to start, I mean, you know, did you call Nancy Pelosi a traitor? You know, no. But here is you calling Nancy Pelosi a traitor. Would there be grounds for perjury there?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: OK. So, that alone is not going to get her in the crosshairs for perjury. I think part of the issue here is that this is happening in an administrative law case.


JARRETT: It's sort of a weird procedural posture. It's not a criminal case. It's not a civil case. It's because the voters are trying to hold her accountable and get her kicked off the ballot, which means they don't have a fully developed record. All of the stuff that the lawyer is questioning her about is just in the public record. She could have said a whole bunch of stuff that we don't know about that they could have cross-examined her with and if she would have lied about it, knowingly, that could be perjury.

She's under oath. She has to tell the truth. There's no doubt about that. But when she says, I don't know, I don't recall, I don't remember, all of those hedges sort of insulate her. It's not a defense to perjury but it insulates her and it's her way of protecting herself when, of course, she knows that she could be, you know, in jeopardy of perjury if she's not careful.

BERMAN: So, perjury is the one thing. And I started with that because that's where I thought, based on my viewing of it, she was in the most jeopardy from the hearing on Friday because the actual case against her, I'm not sure they had a slam dunk case, and that the judge didn't seem to think so, either.

AVLON: Yes. It's definitely not a slam dunk. But I want to emphasize that 14th Amendment Section 3, which is what they're --

JARRETT: Your favorite amendment.


AVLON: Not my favorite, but right up there. Is in the constitution. And it's not constitution for a reason. It was put in after the Civil War to ensure that people serving in Congress who participated, aided or abetted in an insurrection were not able to serve again unless they were basically allowed in by two-thirds vote of Congress.

That law was passed in the constitution with an idea that would also be prospective, not only retrospective. So -- but I think this is premature. We don't have the full January 6th report. We don't know what the members of Congress did. If it ultimately comes out with clear evidence that members of Congress aided or abetted this insurrection attempt, then that can be a real conversation. This seems to be premature. And I think it risks a degree of political backlash, because, you know, she's got a primary coming up, it could be competitive. She's got a general election. Maybe, you know, this is a heavily Republican district. But nonetheless, the voters are really the ones to hold her accountable.

But, look, when she says, I don't remember, those are weasel words, let's be real.

BERMAN: On the subject of Georgia, there was a debate for governor last night between the current governor, Brian Kemp, and David Perdue, the former senator who lost and has the support of Donald Trump. And I want to play for you how David Perdue, the very first words really out of his mouth at this debate. Listen.


DAVID PERDUE (R-GA) GOV. CANDIDATE: Folks, let me be very clear tonight. The election in 2020 was rigged and stolen.


BERMAN: So, there you have it.

JARRETT: What a sad state of affairs, something that should be disqualifying now seems like it's sort of the litmus test, right? This is Donald Trump's guy, the cardinal sin apparently from Governor Kemp was refusing to not certify the election, which is what he wanted, and that seems to be the real crux of this. That's why he doesn't have the support of Trump, the de facto leader of the party and why this is now being used as sort of a -- being trumpeted as a good thing.

AVLON: And it's so pathetic to see David Perdue trot out this line as his front line of defense, because he likely knows it's a lie. These people are lying to protect a liar, but it's his best argument for winning the primary. And so, it should be disqualifying. It is -- I mean, the guy lost his own Senate race. Do you know why he lost? He lost in part because Donald Trump depressed turn out.

BERMAN: And then, Brian Kemp, that's the one thing that Governor Kemp did the whole debate, was basically said, but you are a loser, but you're a loser. You kept on losing. Anyway. AVLON: But -- yes. I mean, this is one of the arguments of the Republicans who won don't say they've been cheated. He lost to the special in a -- you know, basically, a runoff -- well, special in Georgia law -- because Trump had been saying the election was stolen and turnout was depressed. So, this is --

JARRETT: Well, we're likely to just see more of this with the midterms, don't you -- it seems like this is likely a preview, I think, of what's to come.

BERMAN: Stay tuned.

AVLON: Big time.

BERMAN: At least in the next hour on that very subject. Laura, John, thank you both very much.

More on the breaking news. U.S. defense secretary and the secretary of state visiting Kyiv, stating that they want to see Russia weakened.

Plus, we're following the breaking news out of Ukraine, Russian forces striking five railway stations. Our special coverage right after this.



KEILAR: The City of Kherson has been occupied now by Russian forces for 54 days. There is no safe passage for anyone to get out.

Earlier this morning, we posed questions to the mayor of Kherson, Ihor Kolykhaiev, about his city.


KEILAR: Mayor, Ukrainian military officials say they've actually observed preparations for a possible offensive by Russian forces from the Kherson region. What are you seeing?

MAYOR IHOR KOLYKHAIEV, KHERSON, UKRAINE (through translator): I am seeing in the last three days that there is a lot of troop movement in the City of Kherson. The Russian troops are changing their deployment and the deployment of their check points, and there's also been quite an increase in troops and also, there's been quite a lot of daily and nightly movement of artillery and troops.

KEILAR: The Kremlin is reportedly threatening a referendum to turn Kherson into an independent republic. What do you expect is going to happen, and are people trying to get out because of this?

KOLYKHAIEV (through translator): We must understand that Kherson has been occupied for 54 days and at the moment there is no safe passage from Kherson, there are no humanitarian corridors. People are organizing their own evacuation, they're trying to organize many troops via the Telegram channel and they're organizing evacuation towards Kryvyi Rih, Melitopol, Mykolaiv and then onto Zaporizhia and Dnipro, and that's by their own cars and their own groups.

But at the moment, there is no organized evacuation from Kherson, there is no safe passage, there are no humanitarian corridors. There are large waiting lines to get out of Kherson in the private way. In the last three or four days, these lines have grown longer because there have been reports in the media about so-called planned referendum.

And what we know is that Kherson is in the Ukrainian legal system. Kherson is part of Ukraine. And the -- according to the Geneva Convention of 1949, a forced change of regime is illegal. So, whatever they're doing there is not something that is within the Ukrainian law order, legal order.


Kherson is a Ukrainian city, there are 114 ethnicities, ethnic groups living in Kherson, and the city is part of Ukraine and we are not talking about the city itself but also Kherson region. If the Russian Federation wants a pretty picture, they don't need the referendum. They just need to get their so-called local administration that they've imposed there to declare a desire to exceed to Russia and that is something that Russia will arrange for them and they will have a pretty picture if they want one.

But if we are talking about something legal, something about -- that is within the legal order, there is nothing like that.

KEILAR: Mayor, there are reports that Russian forces are conscripting Ukrainian civilians from some of these occupied areas. Is that happening in Kherson?

KOLYKHAIEV (through translator): I've not heard about mobilization in Kherson. I don't really know how that's going to work, to be honest, because the people of Kherson are pro-Ukrainian. So, if they are trying to mobilize the people in Kherson to fight against Ukraine, I'm not sure how they're going to do that because, in any case, that is a violation of Geneva Convention of 1949.


BERMAN: All right. Residential areas in Ukraine's second biggest city being hit by Russia's intensifying assault. CNN's Clarissa Ward joins us live in Kharkiv at a site of Russian bombing.