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New Day

GOP'S J.D. Vance Wins Ohio Senate Primary after Trump Boost; Pope Slams Russian Orthodox Leader: Don't Be 'Putin's Altar Boy'; Mother Loses Son in Ukraine War, Now Fights Inside Mariupol Plant; North Korea Launches Suspected Ballistic Missile; Russia Warns Convoys of NATO Weapons Will Be Destroyed. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired May 04, 2022 - 06:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Good morning to our --


BERMAN: -- viewers in the United States and around the world. It is Wednesday, May 4. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar.


Important election news overnight. CNN projects that J.D. Vance, the Trump-backed candidate in Ohio's hotly-contested Republican Senate primary, will win the nomination. The race was the first real test of Trump's influence in the congressional midterm elections, and it does appear that he has delivered.


J.D. VANCE (R), OHIO SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Absolutely got to thank the 45th, the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump. Ladies and gentlemen, they wanted to write a story that this campaign would be the death of Donald Trump's America First agenda. Ladies and gentlemen, it ain't the death of the America First agenda.


BERMAN: A source says the former president called Vance to congratulate him. He was said to be relieved by Vance's come from behind victory. Trump won Ohio in 2020 by 8 points.

On the Democratic side, ten-term Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan easily won his Senate primary and now will face Vance in November. We will talk with Tim Ryan ahead.

In the race for governor in Ohio, the incumbent governor, Republican Mike DeWine, secured the nomination in his bid for a second term, defeating four challengers. This was seen as something of a test or referendum on DeWine's handling of COVID.

He will face off in November's general election with Nan Whaley, the former mayor of Dayton. She beat former Cincinnati mayor John Cranley to win the Democratic nomination. KEILAR: We have CNN's Kristen Holmes live for us in Cleveland with the

very latest -- Kristen.


It was a big night here in Ohio, and it was a big night for former president, Donald Trump. There were a lot of eyes on that Senate Republican race, many viewing it as a litmus test as to just how strong of a hold the former president still has over the Republican Party.

And if last night is any indication, at least here in Ohio, the former president still yields a lot of power and influence.


HOLMES (voice-over): The midterm election ballots are set in Ohio with Trump-backed J.D. Vance projected to win the Ohio Senate Republican primary.

VANCE: Thank you all so much.

HOLMES (voice-over): The hotly-contested seat, being vacated by Republican Senator Rob Portman, was seen as a crucial contest, a litmus test on the power former president Trump's support could have on the fall midterms.

VANCE: Now, this campaign I really think was a referendum on what kind of a Republican Party we want and what kind of a country we want.

HOLMES (voice-over): And Trump's support seemed to give Vance's campaign a much-needed jolt of momentum.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He is a fearless MAGA fighter, he fights like crazy. And I want to pick somebody that's going to win, and this man is going to win.

HOLMES (voice-over): Vance thanking Trump Tuesday night during his victory speech.

VANCE: And I've to say, a lot of the fake news media out there -- and there are some good ones in the back there. There are some bad ones, too. Let's be honest.

But they wanted to write a story that this campaign would be the death of Donald Trump's America First agenda. Ladies and gentlemen, it ain't the death of the America First agenda.

HOLMES (voice-over): Trump watched the returns from his home at Mar-a- Lago with friends and aides, one of them describing him as, quote, "relieved."

He called Vance to congratulate him, one source familiar with the call tells CNN.

Vance took on a crowded Republican field. Though most candidates sought Trump's endorsement, state Senator Matt Dolan urged Ohio Republicans to move on from the 2020 election. He finished third at the polls, right behind former Ohio state treasurer, Josh Mandel.

MATT DOLAN (R), OHIO SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: We knew the Trump endorsement was going to be a difficult hill to overcome, but honestly, I feel like if the race had gone on a little bit longer, we would have climbed that hill.

HOLMES (voice-over): Incumbent Governor Mike DeWine, a staunch conservative and occasional Trump critic, easily won renomination in the Republican primary. He will face former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, who won the Democratic nomination.

And Congressman Tim Ryan won the Democratic primary easily over his competitors for the key Senate seat and will face Vance in November. Ryan's victory speech calling for healing the country and kindness to one another, while still remaining hyper-focused on what's at stake.

TIM RYAN (D), Let's go. let's make this happen. Let's get this seat. Let's put workers first.

HOLMES (voice-over): For Vance's part, he took a different tone, targeting Ryan directly in his victory speech.

VANCE: Ladies and gentlemen, Tim Ryan needs to go down, and we're going to be the party that does it.


HOLMES (on camera): And obviously, they're not that surprising that a Trump-endorsed candidate went on the aggressive, the offensive with the Tim Ryan statement.

But I do want to mention that I spoke to several allies of the former president who said that they were absolutely thrilled. Sources telling CNN that they believe this could actually boost other Trump-endorsed candidates like celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz, who's trying to be the Senate Republican candidate for that critical Pennsylvania Senate seat.

This is something we'll definitely be watching very closely to see if there is, in fact, a ripple effect.

KEILAR: We certainly will be. Kristen Holmes live in Cleveland, thanks.

BERMAN: Let's try to get a sense now of how much the Trump endorsement might have made a difference here.

Harry Enten showed us these numbers yesterday. In early March, J.D. Vance was at 11 percent in the polls, 11 percent. The Trump endorsement -- I'll put a "T" here -- came in between there, and then by late April, J.D. Vance was at 23 percent and then last night around 32 percent.

So the Trump endorsement seemed to have certainly moved those numbers substantially.

Let's bring in CNN senior political analyst John Avlon and national political correspondent for "The New York Times"], Lisa Lerer.


You know, John, this is something the Trump people were watching closely, the endorsement really here seemed to make a difference.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No question about it. From a distant third in mid-March to pole position last night with a third of the vote in a very crowded primary where upwards of $66 million were spent, J.D. Vance can really thank his nomination for Donald Trump. There's a clear correlation.

BERMAN: And if you look at the ranking, maybe we can put up on the screen the overall vote overnight, Lisa. There were a lot of people watching Matt Dolan to see if the state senator who was not endorsing the big lie, if there was an establish avenue.

He came in third, and his numbers were increasing over the last few weeks. However -- and we have those numbers over there if we can shoot them. Yes. So right there, you see, look, If you add J.D. Vance and Mandel, I mean, they're over 50 percent and Matt Dolan's numbers maybe not as impressive as people were thinking.

LISA LERER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES" It dovetails with what we've seen in other polling, that Trump holds about 60 percent of the party, is sort of still enthralled to the former president. They would support him if he were to run again.

And there is this 40, 30 percent or so that is seeking an alternative. So while it's not overwhelming -- certainly not a majority, it is a notable number of -- notable share of the party and something, certainly, a lot of candidates who have their eyes on future races, particularly that 2024 race, will be keeping an eye on.

BERMAN: For now, though, 60 is more than 40.

LERER: Sixty is more than 40.

AVLON: Scientific fact, yes.

TOOBIN: Donald Trump is still the dominant player in this party. And I think what's interesting about this race is this was a contest not only for Donald Trump, you know, whether they would follow Trumpism but what brand of Trumpism.

And Vance really pushed this sort of anti-elitist, populist, anti- establishment brand that's been championed by people like Peter Thiel, who's of course, emerging as a major donor of the Republican Party.

BERMAN: There's another aspect to this also, which is the rehabilitation factor inside Trump world, because Vance, J.D. Vance was kind of an anti-Trumper back in 2016.

AVLON: Kind of?

BERMAN: I mean, he was.

AVLON: He called Trump possibly America's Hitler in a text message to a former roommate. That's about as anti-Trump as you get. That's like, you know, embracing Godwin's Law there.

So -- so the fact that he was able to come back from that with the backing of Peter Thiel, with the backing of Tucker Carlson and swaying Trump at Mar-a-Lago to take a chance on him.

In part because reportedly, Trump was -- thought that Tim Ryan could be a very competitive candidate, and Mandel might have a harder time to go against him.

But Trump aides were split between these two candidates. Trump went in for Vance, you know, a very accomplished author, venture capitalist, and really blew the rest of the field away.

BERMAN: What does Trump get out of that? What does he get out of the rehab factor?

LERER: Well, I think the former president needs to know that he still has the juice, right, that his guys can win and that his endorsement still matters. And this was really an early test of that.

And in fact, sometimes, you know, covering this race, it felt like it was really all a competition for one man; and that man was Donald Trump. There was the whole state of Ohio, but they were all playing to one guy.

And a lot of the contests for that endorsement was happening behind closed doors. They all hired various people from Trump's orbit, and they were all going to Mar-a-Lago and New York and making the case.

So I think what he gets is his guy won, and that makes him look stronger coming into other primaries. But, you know, the jury is still out, and the next couple races coming up will certainly test the possible limits of his power and his sway in the party.

AVLON: But politics is perception. The fact that the first big primary showed an ability to pull a candidate from third to first sets a message and a tone, and he -- and he knows that. And the fact that, you know, every candidate, with the exception of one really, lined up to kiss the ring really shows that he is still the king mayor, he's the boss of the Republican Party.

BERMAN: What about the idea that Kristen raised in her piece there, that this may give a boost to other Trump-endorsed candidates in primaries: Oz in Pennsylvania, maybe Perdue in Georgia?

LERER: It's possible. Right? Politics is perception.

AVLON: It's possible. I mean, look, you know, every race is going -- all politics is local still, even in a party that's nationalistic on two levels, at least. But, you know, one thing is Perdue has been lagging Kemp in Georgia

big time. I don't think the primary is going to be enough to fundamentally change the dynamics in Georgia.

BERMAN: Trump may unendorse Perdue by the time of the Georgia primary if it doesn't look the way he wants.

AVLON: That's right. That's right.

BERMAN: John and Lisa, thank you so much for being with us -- Brianna.

KEILAR: This morning the Ukrainian military is attempting to open four humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians from Mariupol, if it is safe to do so.

Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, says 156 evacuees did arrive in Zaporizhzhia, which is controlled by Ukraine, on Tuesday, many of them from those bombed-out ruins of the Azovstal Steel plant where they have been underground for months.

On the battlefield, the Ukrainians say Russian forces have made very little progress, despite heavy bombardments, as they try to take control of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions.

And last night, Ukrainian military -- the Ukrainian military took out a number of Russian military vehicles in Oleksandrivka (ph), which is Southeast of Russian-occupied Izium.

And this is some new video that we're getting in, also provided by the Ukrainian military, that appears to show a drone strike on at least two Russian military positions on Russian-occupied Snake Island.

Isa Soares is joining us live now from Lviv with the very latest in Western Ukraine. Isa, what can you tell us?

ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A very good morning to you, Brianna.

Let me start with what we heard from Pope Francis, in fact, in the last 40 minutes or so. He has slammed the leader of Russia's Orthodox Church for really endorsing Putin's reasoning for this war. The reasoning, of course, we've heard so far, calling this a special military operation, saying that it's de-Nazifying Ukraine.

Well, according to Italian newspaper "Corriere della Sera," Pope Francis told Patriarch Kirill -- and I'm going to quote him here -- "not to become Putin's altar boy." Those were his words to the patriarch, really, of Russia's Orthodox Church.

Also, Pope Francis saying that there's not enough will for peace, but he's prepared, Brianna, to travel to Moscow to meet with President Putin.

And on the pope's mind, no doubt, will be, of course, the countless victims of this senseless and unwarranted war. I traveled just outside of Lviv to meet a family that has really been defined by war, as well as its years of service to protecting Ukraine's sovereignty.


SOARES (voice-over): Pain and sorrow as the unbearable weight of war reverberates in this small town outside of Lviv. Yet another soldier gone too soon.

Constantine Yakavenko (ph) was 48 years old. A father of two young men. Originally from the East of Ukraine, he fled here to Chervonohrad with his family, only to enlist and get drafted.

Within less than two months, Constantine's life was taken, his family has been torn apart. The mayor, who hasn't missed one funeral, tells me it's been too many since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.

MAYOR ANDRIY ZALIVSKYI, CHERVONOHRAD, UKRAINE (through translator): At first I felt guilty that I'm here, not there with them, but I was told that my mission is to be here, to support the families.

SOARES (voice-over): The ripple effects of Russia's war are evident in this town in the West of Ukraine, hundreds of miles away from the front lines.

SOARES: Just a few graves down from Constantine, we've learned from the mayor that this young soldier, who died in battle in 2018, that his own mother is currently inside the Azovstal Steel plant, defending Mariupol from Russian invasion.

SOARES (voice-over): It's the tale of one family defined by war, and it's one we're keen to learn more about. So we drive to the family home, where we meet Paraskeviya. And we are instantly absorbed by her haunting display of grief.

She says her grandson, Yuri (ph), was a sergeant with the Azov Battalion who specialized as a sniper.

"It's difficult to explain how much I loved him," she says.

His death at the mere age of 23 made the front page of the local paper. It was too much for Paraskeviya and his mother, Natalia (ph), to take, so in her late 40s, Natalia ended up enlisting with the same regiment.

Paraskeviya tells me she begged her daughter to leave Azovstal, but she rejected two offers to surrender.

"She is in that hell," she tells me.

We tried to call Natalia, to no avail.

Later, though, we managed to reach Natalia via text message. "Morale is high," she writes back. "The soldiers will fight to the end. Wait for us to come back with victory."

Not all have come back, though. Paraskeviya tells me her granddaughter's husband died in Mariupol, his body moved to the Azovstal complex, unable to be brought home.

Her insurmountable loss just too much to bear.

"I have this wound for the rest of my life. It's very difficult to live with," she tells me. "Of course, I'm proud that they died for Ukraine."

Paraskeviya tells me she finds solace working on her plot of land and invites us to come and see it for ourselves. In the car, finally a smile.

Now in her land, and even here in the peace of nature, she's reminded of what has been robbed from her.

"These are Yuri's trees," she tells me.

Comfort and company for a woman who bears the weight of grief and the incomprehensible pain of an unwarranted war.


SOARES (on camera): And Brianna, we know in the last few hours that a convoy of buses has left Mariupol, a further evacuation, of course, following on from what we saw yesterday, 156 people evacuated.

We don't -- we understand they are not from the Azovstal Steel plant but from Mariupol, the city itself, of course, that had 100,000 or so people looking to get out.

I have been in contact with Natalia (ph) in the last 24 hours -- 48 hours, I should say. And we have seen those relentless attacks on the Azovstal Steel plant.

My last message to her was 24 hours ago. I have yet to hear from her. So very worrying news indeed.

But as you heard from her mother there, she has really turned down two times, two really options to come out and put her arms down; and she has turned that down. So incredibly worrying, of course, for that -- for that mother -- Brianna.

KEILAR: What a painful and also beautiful story, Isa. You don't often see those two things together.

SOARES: yes.

KEILAR: But we appreciate you bringing that to us. Isa Soares in Lviv, thank you.

Another missile launch by North Korea, the 13th this year. How much of a threat is Kim Jong-un to the United States?

Plus, new video of the apparent getaway car for a missing inmate and a corrections officer, who the sheriff says had a special relationship.

BERMAN: And how Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has become one of the most influential and provocative justices on the bench.



BERMAN: New this morning, officials in Japan and South Korea reporting that North Korea has fired a ballistic missile into its Eastern waters. It comes about a week after Kim Jong-un vowed to speed up his development of nuclear weapons and threatened to use them against rivals.

CNN's Will Ripley live in Taiwan with the latest on this -- Will.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, this is North Korea's 13th weapons test this year. That's more than 2020 and 2021 combined.

And we don't know much about this missile yet, because North Korea hasn't released any images. But if you look at the trajectory, it flew nearly 300 miles at an altitude of almost 500 miles, coming down in the waters off Japan.

It is very similar to other intercontinental ballistic missiles that North Korea has launched, in fact, it was launched from the Sunan area which is where North Korea launched an ICBM in March, the first time they've tested a weapon that big in more than four years.

Now, what President Moon in South Korea is promising is a thorough response to this. And he has just days left in his administration. This is really a time of transition in South Korea. The new president takes over on May 10.

U.S. and South Korea are vowing to strengthen their defense posture, the national security council in South Korea strongly condemning this launch, pointing out it is a violation of the security resolutions. This is the first launch since that massive military parade we saw on April 25th.

And you mentioned how Kim Jong-un gave a speech at that parade, which was on the country's military foundation day. And in that speech, he vowed to grow North Korea's nuclear arsenal, including this new ICBM, the Hwasong-17, which North Korea claims is capable of carrying multiple warheads, nuclear warheads, delivering them potentially anywhere in the mainland United States or any U.S. territory in the world.

Now, North Korea, as always, is saying that they don't want to use these weapons. They also displayed multiple giant rocket launchers, a submarine-launched ballistic missile at that a parade.

But they're saying these weapons are for deterrence, to defend their national dignity and national sovereignty, as they put it. They say the first mission is to deter war.

But they also say, if they feel threatened by the United States, John, they will not be afraid to use these weapons for an unspecified second mission.

BERMAN: Seems to be a deliberate demonstration and a deliberately timed demonstration.


BERMAN: Will Ripley, thank you so much for your reporting on this.

KEILAR: New this morning, the Russian defense minister says any convoy of NATO weapons in Ukraine will be destroyed, adding that they will consider it a legitimate target. This after Russian cruise missiles hit several locations in Western and central Ukraine.

Joining us now retired Brigadier General Steve Anderson.

Important to note, because you have from the West, from Poland, from other NATO countries, sir. That's where these supplies are coming through. And I wonder what you are seeing with this uptick in Russian attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure.

BRIGADIER GENERAL STEVE ANDERSON (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Well, good morning, Brianna.

And they're obviously starting to learn a little bit about the importance of logistics. Their own logistics has been dismal. But they're understanding that Ukraine has got a very effective logistics system. And so they're trying to do everything they can to interdict the system.

They've got 15,000 miles of railroad. They've got thousands of miles of roads, of course. They've got convoys moving all the time.

What they're trying to do, obviously, is interdict those supply lines to -- to prevent the resupply of Dnipro, that area out in the West -- or the East, rather, that's providing their logistics support. And so they're hitting these spots.

Now, Lviv is rather significant. Three power stations were knocked out. Fourteen passenger trains were disrupted. I would submit to you it's probably not that significant unless it's opened up, if this turns into a campaign against these logistics bases, this could have a significant impact on the war. No doubt that's what they're going to try to do.

KEILAR: Does Russia have that capability? Or is there so much stuff coming in that it's hard to take it all out?

ANDERSON: I don't think they have the capability, Brianna. They really don't.

I think they're really running out of cruise missiles. I mean, they were lunching them from submarines over the weekend. I think they're probably running out. They're -- they're able to surge aircraft to interdict these logistics lines only on occasion.

[06:25:10] Now the Ukrainians have the S-300 air defense system, so they're

getting more effective. But certainly, they're trying to take these out. I just don't think they're going to be successful.

The Americans, the NATO allies are now pushing thousands of tons of -- of munitions and military equipment out to the East. And of course, we're seeing a lot of success.

The Ukrainians are fighting a very active mobile defense, and it's been very effective. I mean, the Kharkiv area now, we go back to the map, they've been able to push them all the way out.

I mean, a couple days ago this was all red. Now there's some yellow around it. They've been able to push them out of artillery range, and that is absolutely huge.

The Russians continue to fight, I believe, a failed or flawed strategy. There's an 800-mile front here, and they're trying to essentially attack in multiple places, instead of concentrating their forces and using their artillery and their superior firepower with tanks to try to overwhelm them, maybe one axis advance, maybe two, but certainly not seven or eight as we're seeing right now.

So the Ukrainians are doing a great job of using a mobile active defense to fight off any penetrations that occur.

KEILAR: General, thank you so much for walking us through that. We appreciate it.

New this morning, comedian Dave Chappelle attacked onstage during a set.

BERMAN: Protests across the United States after the leak indicating the Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade. A closer look at the justice who wrote the draft majority opinion, next.