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New Day Saturday

VP Harris Addresses Munich Security Conference; Ukraine Warns Of Russia "False Flag" Operations; Only Four States Still Have Indoor Mask Mandates As Cases Fall; World Leaders Meet As Tensions Rise In Ukraine; Russia-Ukraine Conflict Could Cause Inflation To Surge; An Inside Look At NYC's Supervised Drug-Injection Sites. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired February 19, 2022 - 07:00   ET




AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone and welcome to your NEW DAY. I'm Amara Walker.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Great to be with you, Amara. I'm Boris Sanchez, tensions between Russia and Ukraine are near a boiling point. Now, the United States is sending an ultimatum to Vladimir Putin over a possible invasion, choose diplomacy or face swift and severe consequences.

WALKER: Plus, a major defeat for Donald Trump. Why the former president and his children could soon be forced to sit for a deposition in front of the New York Attorney General.

SANCHEZ: And living with COVID. Trying to turn a page; the list of states easing restrictions now getting longer, but not everyone agrees it's time to drop mask mandates.

WALKER: Good morning and welcome to your NEW DAY. It's Saturday, February 19th. And Boris, it is a very busy morning.

SANCHEZ: It is. We start with Eastern Europe on the precipice of war. The growing threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine now seems all but inevitable. President Joe Biden says he is convinced based on U.S. intelligence that Russian President Vladimir Putin has made a decision to attack Ukraine and its capital, Kyiv. But he says the door is still open for diplomacy.

WALKER: Vice President Kamala Harris stepped onto the world stage today to address the crisis. She spoke at the Munich Security Conference just a short time ago, and warned of severe consequences if Russia invades Ukraine.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will impose far-reaching financial sanctions and export controls. We will target Russia's financial institutions and key industries, and we will target those who are complicit and those who aid and abet this unprovoked invasion. Make no mistake, the imposition of these sweeping and coordinated measures will inflict great damage on those who must be held accountable.


SANCHEZ: The U.S. says that Russia is spreading disinformation as a pretext to launch an invasion so-called false flag operation. Officials are pointing to the increased tension in the Donbas Region. Ukraine, saying it has no plans to attack the area, which is controlled by Russian backed separatists, a very different story though, playing out on Russian state T.V. After live fire exercises in Belarus, Russia plans military drills today to showcases ballistic and cruise missiles. A Kremlin spokesperson though downplay the exercises as "quite regular."

WALKER: Yes, though times right now are not regular. Our correspondents are covering this fast-moving story from multiple angles from the security conference in Germany, to developments in Ukraine and to the White House. We, of course, are keeping you updated on the very latest developments. But first, let's get to the speech by Vice President Kamala Harris warning Russia and rallying U.S. allies.

SANCHEZ: Yes, Correspondent Natasha Bertrand has the latest from the Munich Security Conference.


NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Our Vice President Kamala Harris telling an audience here in Munich that this conference is convening at the most dire moment since the end of the Cold War. She started her speech by walking through the principles that are really at stake here, with Russia threatening to invade Ukraine at any moment. Principles like territorial sovereignty and integrity, and the right of a nation to choose its own borders and its own form of government, and to have those borders not be changed by force.

All of these principles and values, she says, could be threatened if Russia does, in fact, move to invade and threatens the entire international order. She says, the global order that has reigned since the end of the Cold War is peace, stability and security, these foundational principles that the U.S. and its allies She says her sought to uphold in the name of security. Now, she did go into detail as well about the consequences that the U.S. is willing to impose on Russia. If it moves to invade.

Things that we have heard before harsh economic penalties, financial sanctions, export controls are reinforced troops on the Eastern Flank of NATO, those eastern flank NATO Allies obviously feeling very threatened by Russia's aggression right now. And sanctions on members of Putin's inner circle who are complicit in this invasion, people who may not have been targeted by financial sanctions by the U.S. in the past, but who will be identified by the US government, if they are in fact helping in this invasion in any way.

[07:05:25] That is something that she was really trying to get across in her speech, just the severity, and how dire of this moment, and how dire it is, not only for Ukraine and its security, but for the rest of the world. For American security for European security. This is a moment that she was taking very seriously. Obviously, she was very solemn during her speech, very strong words. And she will be meeting later today with the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who against the advice of the United States has, in fact, decided to appear today in Munich.


SANCHEZ: Natasha, thank you so much for that. Let's get some perspective now on the ground in Ukraine.

WALKER: Yes, CNN's Alex Marquardt joining us live. And Alex, let's start with this because just a few moments ago, Defense Secretary, who is in Lithuania right now, said today it's apparent, Russia has made a decision and is moving into the right positions to conduct an attack on Ukraine. He said that there are uncoiling and poised to attack. Can you give us a sense of what you're seeing and hearing there?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Secretary Austin, there echoing what we heard from President Biden that President Putin, they believe, of Russia has made this decision now to invade Ukraine. Boris and Amara, it has long been thought by intelligence officials and others in you know, in the U.S. and in NATO, that ahead of a Russian invasion, that there would be some kind of operation or incident something that would give Putin and excuse in his view to justify an invasion of Ukraine and the incidences of disinformation and an apparent false flag operations really are growing, which is what leads to a growing fear that this invasion could come very soon.

Over the course of the past few days, we have seen a real spike in the ceasefire violations along that line of contact between the Ukrainian forces and Russian backed forces. And just the first half of today, there were almost 40 that according to Ukraine, and included weaponry that were -- that was artillery and mortars. A Ukrainian service member died. We are seeing some of the highest number of violations in the past four years. And then perhaps most worryingly, we have seen the leaders of these two breakaway enclaves in the eastern part of Ukraine that have been out of Ukraine's control for the past eight years, and backed by Russia, those leaders calling on their populations to leave, to evacuate to Russia, because of what they say, is a planned Ukrainian offensive.

Now, there is no sense that we've seen that Ukraine plans on carrying out any sort of military operation against those areas, Ukraine and the United States deny that, that is at all in the cards. But this is the kind of disinformation that we do expect that, you know, that could come ahead of a Russian invasion. And then there has been a twist this morning, where we looked into these videos of these leaders who call, you know, who called for these evacuations. And we saw that when they're after they were published last night that they're actually recorded on Wednesday, two days prior. So, this shows that there was some pre-planning and it just really talk, it goes to the, the choreography of this disinformation.

The head of the (INAUDIBLE) Breakaway, Republic, as they call it also claims that there was a vehicle explosion outside the government building. That was very quickly dismissed as a false flag incident by the State Department. So, you have a growing number of these incidents that is really causing worry that President Putin might seize on them as evidence that ethnic Russians or Russian speakers in the eastern part of Ukraine are being targeted, and therefore he would have a right to come into Ukraine with his military, Amara and Boris.

WALKER: Yes. So many signs that he is ready to attack. Alex Marquardt, appreciate your reporting. Thank you.

So, the heightened tensions surrounding Ukraine follow a grim assessment from President Biden. He says, he is convinced by U.S. intelligence that Vladimir Putin has basically made up his mind and has decided to invade Ukraine.

SANCHEZ: Let's take you to the White House now. And reporter, Jasmine Wright, who joins us with the latest details. Jasmine, what's the situation there today? President Biden deciding not to visit Delaware as he often does during the weekend, deciding to stay at the White House. What more are we hearing about what he's going to be doing today?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Look, President Biden has decided to ditch those weekend plans that we know he often does, going to one of his homes in Delaware. Instead, he is staying here at the White House to monitor the ongoing situation, that is after yesterday where he made very, very clear that he believes that Europe is now on the brink of war. Take a listen to him, in his own words yesterday.



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As of this moment, I'm convinced he's made the decision. We have reason to believe that.

We're calling out Russia's plans loudly, repeatedly, not because we want to conflict, but because we're doing everything in our power to remove any reason that Russia may give to justify invading Ukraine and prevent them from moving.


WRIGHT: Now, this is a major, major shift, because for weeks, President Biden has said that he did not believe that President Putin had made the decision. Obviously, that has now changed. And we heard Secretary of Defense Austin say that he agreed with President Biden. And now, Biden said yesterday that he made this new assessment because of new U.S. intelligence available that made him, allowed him really, to come to this conclusion. And it also is a part of kind of this disinformation war that that he has said and officials have said for weeks that Russians could use as a pretext to start a war. Now, this has been an unusual amount of information that U.S.

officials have given to reporters into the country but as a part of their effort trying to lay the circumstances bare here. So, we know that the President is here home, here at the White House this weekend. We expect him to be keeping in touch officials say with his officials abroad, Vice President Harris, Secretary Blinken who's abroad. Secretary of Defense Austin as well as other world leaders. Now, we don't have any calls to read out just yet, but more could come as the days go on this weekend. As we know the President Biden has been known to pick up the phone and get an update when he needs to. Boris.

SANCHEZ: Look forward to updating us, Jasmine Wright, from the White House. Thank you so much.

Pivoting now to some big domestic news. Major moments for Donald Trump in court this week. A federal judge saying yesterday that civil lawsuits seeking to hold the former President accountable for January 6th could move forward. A New York judge also ruling that Donald Trump and his children, Ivanka and Don Jr., have to sit for depositions in the state attorney general's probe of their business practices. Let's bring in Ross Garber now to discuss the legal implications for the former president. He teaches political investigations and impeachment at Tulane Law School.

Mr. Garber, always great to get your perspective. Appreciate you coming on. I want to ask you about the assessment from conservative lawyer, George Conway, because he argued yesterday in the Washington Post that Trump's legal luck might be running out. He's obviously being investigated extensively in his adult life. And he has been many times but some of these civil matters may be where he faces consequences. How do you weigh the seriousness of these developments?

ROSS GARBER, TULANE LAW SCHOOL: Yes, so, this was not a good week for the former president. But it is not over. We have seen him be very wildly in the past and these litigation matters. But I agree with Conway, that, that it's these civil matters that could prove problematic. But, you know, look at the at the January 6th civil lawsuit. You know, we've seen Congress, you know, he's doing an investigation that's playing out in public. But, you know, the house has very limited ability to force people who don't want to testify to come in and testify. At the same time, there's a federal grand jury investigation, they have the power to force people to come in and testify.

But it is happening in secret. So, we may never know what the results there are several cases different. There are strong powers to force people to come in and testify, and the results are public. So, that one may be interesting. The you know, the one I'm very, very interested in is the New York Attorney General investigation. You know, where we did see that the judge ordered, you know, Trump and his kids to come in and testify there. I would expect the former president to take the fifth and to refuse to answer questions. Same with, same with his kids. But, you know, Trump has surprised us in the past, but that's what I'd expect to happen.

SANCHEZ: That's what his lawyers have implicated he will likely do. I'm wondering if he is convicted on civil charges, and one of these lawsuits over the January 6th cases, does that then potentially have implications for some of the other probes that he's involved in surrounding the events of that day?

GARBER: Yes, in both of these civil cases, that we're talking about, they could have broad implications. Now, you know, there are a bunch more innings left to play. But the answer is, you know, the, the more information that comes out, the more trouble that protect the former president is potentially in and, you know, these, you know, both of these civil cases, they are driving at getting more information.

And yes, you know, the President could face civil issues, but also, you know, if they There is more information that comes out that implicates him in either of these things, either the January 6th issue or in New York and again I think the New York issue is going to be much more problematic, much more serious for the President, then he could actually face criminal exposure. Because, you know, again, in New York, there's a parallel criminal investigation, just like with respect January 6th.


SANCHEZ: And I want to get your thoughts from a legal perspective on what happened with the judge that decided he could be liable for what happened on January 6th, because that same judge tossed out cases against Rudy Giuliani and Mel Brooks and Donald Trump Jr., saying if the allegations weren't strong enough, what's different for the former president?

GARBER: Yes, this was a very, very long opinion, the judge did issued, where what he did was, he went, you know, almost minute by minute through the President's speech. And he showed, you know, in his opinion, why the former president is different than Rudy Giuliani is different than, than Trump Jr. And what the judge said effectively, was that the President knew when he was communicating with the crowd, that he was effectively directing the crowd to disrupt the, the congressional process on January 6th, that it was sort of a call and response.

The President knew what he was doing. And the crowd knew what he was doing. And that effectively, the President was directing them to, you know, do what, you know, they did and actually, you know, engage in that disruption of the January 6th vote. And that's different, the, the judge said than what happened with, with Giuliani is a very, very detailed opinion. And, you know, normally presidents are given very broad immunity for, for their activities. The judge said that didn't apply here, because of, of what the President was talking about, because of how he was talking about it.

SANCHEZ: No, he specifically said that he was going to walk with them down Constitution Avenue all the way to Capitol Hill even though he, he didn't. Ross Garber, got to leave the conversation there. Appreciate your insight. Thanks for joining us.

GARBER: Sure. WALKER: And still to come this hour, any potential invasion of Ukraine will certainly have a ripple effect around the world. And here in the U.S., that impact could be felt in your wallet. A little later, the warning from economists.

Plus, more and more states rolling back COVID restrictions but health officials warn the move may be risky, their concerns next.



WALKER: New this morning, only four states: Puerto Rico and D.C. have indoor mask mandates that are still in effect. New Mexico and California are the latest Democratic led states to ease restrictions this week as COVID cases and hospitalizations continue to fall nationwide. But White House Medical Adviser, Dr. Fauci, says moving to end masking requirements is risky.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISER: Hopefully, the states that are doing that have a plan if, in fact, we do see a rebound up, they'll be able to reinstitute the mitigation methods that they're now pulling back on. You know, when you want to pull back and say we're done. Well, you know, the virus may not be done with us.


WALKER: All the warning comes as the rate of new vaccinations and booster doses administered here in the U.S. falls to its slowest pace ever. Only about 28 percent of Americans have received 28 percent of COVID booster shot, while a little less than 65 percent of the country is fully vaccinated.

Here with me now is Dr. Abdul El-Sayed. He is an Epidemiologist and Former Detroit Health Commissioner. Doctor, good morning to you. You know, let's start with the fact that, you know, there's been so many people seeming to be relaxed now, about COVID. And so much talk about lifting mask requirements, let's -- can we first start with what the state of the pandemic is? Are we out of the woods yet? Clearly not, right?

DR. ABDUL EL-SAYED, EPIDEMIOLOGIST: Well, everybody can just think back about a year ago, when we were all talking about hot back summer and the fact that we were all going to get back to normal. And then Delta and Omicron decided that, that was not the case. And the fact of the matter is that we just won't know when this pandemic is over until we look at it in hindsight, many, many months on and the key point here is that we are watching cases drop and it is realistic to start getting back to our daily lives. But it's also important that we hedge our bet we recognize that we won't know when the pandemic is over until afterwards. And, and so for now, as states bring down their mask requirements, et cetera, that they're thoughtful about being able to put them back up in the case that we do have another variant that may rip through. WALKER: So, do you agree with Dr. Fauci that it is risky to lift masking requirements and what should be the threshold to, to lift the mask mandates?

EL-SAYED: Well, I want to just pay the difference here between requirements and recommendations. And I thought, Director Rochelle Walensky said it best, she said, you know, it's still important to wear your mask in situations where you may not be feeling well, maybe having COVID symptoms, or you're in a really crowded place. Those are the places where the risks remain highest.

And even if there aren't requirements, the recommendations stay the same. And there's always a risk in the case that, you know, cases just fell below where they were during the Delta wave, which before Omicron, we thought was super high as high as you could get. And so yes, there are risks, people are still getting sick. It's just that the cases are tumbling.

And so, the question about whether or not you have to have requirements to protect the public, that is in question, and you've seen states move on that question, in a direction to take them away.

WALKER: You know, there's also studies regarding this new, highly mutated Omicron variant, sub variant, I should say, and it appears that it's largely escaping immunity from vaccines and also resistant to some treatments. Are you concerned about that?

EL-SAYED: Well, I'm always concerned when I look at new variants that may have these capacities to, to escape vaccine mediated immunity, and, and may be very transmissible. At the same time, the proofs in the pudding, and we're not seeing, you know, a massive escape velocity increase in spread of BA-2. We're seeing cases fall dramatically in the United States. And so, you know, you've got to, you've got to govern to where the facts are on the ground.

At the same time, I do think it's worth us really trying to look around the corner and ask is BA-2 the variant that may achieve that kind of spread, is there another variant, are we -- should be, we be worried about all of the, the animal based zoonotic COVID that we've seen and the potential for, for a spread there. But at the same time, you got to weigh that against the fact that people have been living through this now for two years, they are exhausted, we are seeing cases being quite low, both hospitalizations, and deaths are on the decline. And I do think it's important now to try and get back to our daily lives.


WALKER: Yes. So, and that leads me to the new polling, which shows that 51 percent of Americans think it's time to learn to live with the virus. And then another poll shows 21 percent of Americans saying the U.S. should get back to normal without mandates or mask requirements. So, you're not, are you concerned at all that this might have an impact on U.S. hospitals that are already still stretched thin?

EL-SAYED: I am and look, here's where we ought to go, we ought to govern to the reality right now that COVID cases are quite low, and at the same time, do all we can while we've got this moment where cases are low to prepare for the next one, I think it is fair to start questioning mask requirements but I don't think it's fair to start questioning vaccine requirements because they're the best tool we have to prevent the next one if and when it comes.

And so, you know, I think we should really be putting the pedal to the metal trying to increase that number of people who are vaccine boosted we should be stockpiling tests and stockpiling masks in case there is another variant but for right now the reality is that cases are low and that this would be an opportunity for us to try and get back to daily life, given that we really don't know what the virus has in store. You play for the worst possible scenario and the current scenario at the same time

WALKER: Yes, right now cases are low and in other in some cases, you can take off your mask so let's just live in a moment but be ready to put on that mask if it is needed. Dr. Abdul El-Sayed appreciate you this morning. Thank you so much. We'll be right back.



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): As we await Vice President Kamala Harris's meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, this weekend, the world's focus turns to Munich, where U.S and European leaders are converging for an annual summit trying to avert war.

The Munich Security Conference has brought together major decision- makers, captains of industry, and leading researchers for more than five decades to discuss current events and try to advance the cause of transatlantic peace.

It's a forum used almost exclusively for dialogue. There are no binding agreements or communiques. But this year, the spotlight remains on Russia and Ukraine, with roughly 30 heads of state attending, alongside 100 officials from important international organizations, like the United Nations, the European Union, and importantly, NATO.

Last year, President Biden use the meeting to mark the end of the Trump-era of U.S. diplomacy. Here is what he said.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I'm sending a clear message to the world, America is back. The transatlantic alliance is back.


SANCHEZ: Though President Biden is not attending this year, Vice President Kamala Harris is leading the U.S. delegation. As we noted, she's meeting with Ukrainian President Zelensky and more than three dozen other leaders, in part, to deliver this message.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We stand with you. I am here personally, to say that. We stand with you on this and many other issues.


SANCHEZ: This morning, she also said of the United States and its European allies, "Our strength must not be underestimated."

Notably, Russian President Vladimir Putin had his own Munich moment back in 2007. He delivered a speech, blasting the United States and condemning NATO's growing influence.

It was a speech that at the time was considered to be the harshest rhetoric used by a Russian leader since the Cold War. And now, 15 years later, in the context of what we're seeing in Ukraine, his words seem prophetic.

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Well, the Russia Ukraine conflict is taking place 1000s of miles away, but war in Europe could carry a heavy cost for millions of Americans. Excuse me.

WALKER (voice-over): The average price for a gallon of gasoline is $3.53 for regular -- nearly $1 from one year ago. Russia is a second- biggest producer of oil in the world, and a disruption in supply could cause oil prices to rise even higher. Of course, that could have ripple effects, causing inflation to rise even further and borrowing costs to go up.

The conflict could also open the U.S. to the potential of more cyber- attacks, yet a lot at stake here.

And joining us now is Joe Brusuelas, he is a chief economist for the consulting firm RSM.

Joe, good morning to you. Thank you so much for being with me this morning. So, yes, you know, give us the immediate consequences to our pocketbooks here in America. And I think a lot of people's ears perk up when they hear, wow, gas prices could shoot up?

JOE BRUSUELAS, CHIEF ECONOMIST FOR THE CONSULTING FIRM RSM: Well, sure. So, what you should expect is if that Vladimir Putin chooses to invade Ukraine, you are going to see a 20 percent increase in the cost of energy, most directly oil.


BRUSUELAS: So, that $3.50 per gallon number you just cited well, that's going to jump well over $4 a gallon. Now, that's just on average.

I paid $360 yesterday to fill-up my SUV. Well, if you live in New York or California, where you have a different tax environment than where I live, of course, those prices are going to be much higher.

Now, what that translates into is, it will shave about one percent off of GDP over the next year, but here is where it's really going to hurt your average American. We'll see, a 2.8 percent increase in inflation from where it is now. That means inflation will be well over 10 percent on a year-over year basis.

WALKER: Oh, wow. That would be painful, because it's already painful. Now, you know, when you're just buying everyday items, you're seeing the price is really impacting people.

But when it comes to gas, quickly, is there a way to soften the blow? I mean, it seems like America has become more self-sufficient when it comes to oil. And also, we have the option of drawing from the emergency stockpile, right?

BRUSUELAS: OK. So, there's a couple of things they can do that in the short term that are more optics in nature. You can release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, this not going to do a lot, you can declare a tax holiday on gas taxes.

Now, that will help the psyche of Americans. But really, it's not going to help that much. When we're dealing with this sort of exogenous event and the inflation that's in play, there's three things you can do.

You can choose -- essentially choose off cool -- choose to cool off the economy by hiking taxes, that's not going to happen, don't hold your breath. The Federal Reserve can increase interest rates.

Now, that is going to happen. And it's going to happen probably seven times this year. And then, the unfortunate truth is patience. You just have to wait it out and allow prices to adjust. And when we're talking about oil and gasoline prices, you know what the real solution is -- high -- for high prices? High prices.

WALKER: I'm trying to do the math here. And I'm really slow at it. So you said about a 2.8 percent increase in inflation --



WALKER: So, if we're already out of what 7.5 or so, we're talking about more than a 10 percent rate of inflation. What does that mean that -- I mean, what kind of impact would that create to the economy?

BRUSUELAS: So, your after-tax income will be less. It will damp overall spending, which unfortunately has been very strong. And what you should expect is GDP growth in the economy, to slow.

We grew roughly at about seven percent for the end of the year. I'm expecting four percent this year. So, we'll slow to say 2.5 to three percent.

Now, that's still very strong, well above the long-term trend rate, which is roughly about two percent. But not what we -- would really want it to be or need to be coming out of this very difficult pandemic.

WALKER: Joe Brusuelas, with the reality check. Thanks so much.

BRUSUELAS: Thank you, Amara.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): As America struggles with record overdose deaths. New York City is hoping that safe injection sites will help save lives. We'll take you inside one and explain why some people behind the concept aren't convinced.



SANCHEZ (on camera): Overdose death -- excuse me. Overdose deaths have reached a record high in the United States. New CDC data out this week shows that they've doubled over the last six years.

WALKER: Earlier this year, New York City became the first in the nation to open up safe injection sites. And in just two months, organizers say they have saved dozens of lives. But their critics aren't sold.

CNN's Jason Carroll look more.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For Monica Diaz, every day is a struggle. She's homeless, and much of what she owns, she carries with her but she says it is the weight of her addiction that at times is too much to bear.

Have you overdosed in the past?




DIAZ: But in the past, then.

CARROLL: This is the place Diaz credits with helping her cope. It's a supervised drug consumption site, the first of two to open in the country.

CARROLL (on camera): How often do you come?

DIAZ: They open five days a week. I'm here every day.

CARROLL: And the days that they're not open, what do you do?

DIAZ: Improvise.

CARROLL (voice-over): Both locations are in New York City. This one is in Harlem, the other in Washington Heights. Here, users take illegal drugs with clean supplies without risk of arrest.

To be clear, they are not given illegal drugs here. It's where they use drugs already in their possession.

PIA MARCUS, DIRECTOR, SYRINGE ACCESS AND PROGRAM INNOVATION, ONPOINT NYC: When somebody first comes through the door, we're going to ask them, what they're using, and how they're using it.

CARROLL: In the East Harlem location, it's all done under the supervision of these medical professionals.

MARCUS: This is all of our injection and sniffing equipment, as well as our smoking equipment up here. So people can take anything that they need.



CARROLL: In Washington Heights, the same protective protocols are in place. But here, many of the trained staff are also recovering addicts like Clara Cordell (PH).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I see you need water.

CARROLL: Sam Rivera is the executive director of the program. He says they have averted more than 130 overdoses since the sites opened in November. So far, Rivera says, no one has died under the staff's watch.

SAM RIVERA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ONPOINT NYC: This wouldn't be happening if you don't show up the way you guys show up, man.


RIVERA: The goal is we want to keep people alive. And if we want people to recover and get a better life, if they did, they can.


MARCUS: We're checking on people constantly. If we start to see eyelid drooping or any kind of slouching, we're going right over and we're going to agitate them with a sternum grind.

If we're seeing more serious overdoses, or the overdoses is starting to progress, we're going to be going over the crash cart. Our crash cart has oral airways, Ambu bags, two different kinds of Narcan.

CARROLL (on-camera): When you look at a facility like this, your immediate thought is what are you doing to get these people off drug?

RIVERA: We're giving them every opportunity possible to stop. Once someone says they're interested, we get him picked up right into detox.

JOSHUA CLENNON, MEMBER, GREATER HARLEM COALITION: Around this corner, you'll find the supervised injection site.

CARROLL (voice-over): Joshua Clennon is a member of the Greater Harlem Coalition. His organization is concerned that the neighborhood is already too saturated with over a dozen drug-related facilities.

CLENNON: We really need other communities to take on some of this burden.

CARROLL: Clennon says he's not surprised an attempt to open a similar type of facility in Philadelphia failed after community backlash there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't want this in my neighborhood or anybody else's.

CARROLL: These centers remain illegal. Under a federal law that states you cannot operate own or rent a space for use of illegal substances.


But when these New York City locations opened, the city's former Mayor Bill de Blasio, penned this letter of support.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, the agency stand ready to ensure a successful launch, which includes a commitment to not take enforcement action against their operation.

CARROLL: And recently, the Department of Justice announced they're evaluating whether sites like these could be opened nationwide.

CARROLL (on camera): Do you have concerns that the federal government will look and say we saw what you did, and we don't approve?

RIVERA: I don't because this is a health intervention that's working.

CARROLL (voice-over): For now, people such as Monica Diaz are glad there's a new safer place to use. As for the day when she doesn't have to --

CARROLL (on-camera): Do you have thoughts about getting clean or?

DIAZ: They seem distant, but --

CARROLL (on-camera): OK.

DIAZ: Yes.


WALKER: Jason Carroll, thank you for that. And during his time in office, LBJ signed historic legislation and many thought President Biden would be able to do the same.

WALKER (voice-over): Up next, how having votes in Congress means everything for a president's agenda?



WALKER (on camera): The all new CNN Original Series "LBJ: TRIUMPH AND TRAGEDY", provides a captivating look at how President Johnson managed to usher-in one of the most sweeping domestic policy agendas in history.

SANCHEZ (on camera): At the start of his first term in office. Many suggested that President Joe Biden might have the opportunity to replicate LBJ success in passing an ambitious domestic progressive agenda.

Our own Laura Jarrett has a look at how that's playing out so far.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Two presidents skilled in negotiations of the Senate, promising bold action.

BIDEN: To every American watching, help is here, and we will not stop working for you.

JARRETT: With a decisive win in 1964, President Lyndon Johnson swung for the fences with his plan for a great society. It's a history, President Biden knows well, and a playbook he hoped to follow.

BIDEN: This bill puts working people in this nation first.

JARRETT: But legislative wins have been harder to come by.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Oh, there was a lot of talk of transformative legislation of historic legislation. There was talk of FDR, there was talk of LBJ, and it was a trap for him because given the current set of circumstances, there is a limit to what he can get done.

JARRETT: Unlike Biden, President Johnson had basic math working in his favor.

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Johnson has 295 Democrats in the House, 68 Democrats in the Senate. So, we had large majorities. President Biden has never had that.

JARRETT: And unlike now --

AXELROD: LBJ also had people he could work with on the Republican side to compensate for the Democratic votes that he was losing from the south.

JARRETT: It's a harsh reality that has led to disappointment for Democrats on everything from Biden's sweeping plan to remake America's social safety net, to even modest attempts at police reform.

AXELROD: There's so much about having a 50-50 Senate in a closely divided House that makes it excruciating for a president because, you have no margin for error. JARRETT: Those fault lines in Congress exposed most recently as President Biden urged lawmakers to shore up voting rights, some of the very protections signed into law by President Johnson.

BIDEN: I've been having these quiet conversations with members of Congress for the last two months. I'm tired to be quiet.

JARRETT: But Biden didn't have the votes for a new bill on voting. Plus, he didn't have this.

ZELIZER: When Bloody Sunday happens, and Americans turn on the T.V. and see peaceful protesters like John Lewis getting beaten, it changes the temperature nationally.


JARRETT: While President Johnson's legacy may ultimately have been marred by the war in Vietnam President Biden's first year in office has been dominated by the battle against COVID-19 and other woes.

The question now is whether he can turn things around in time for the midterms in November --



JARRETT: And beyond.

AXELROD: The hope that he has is that the virus will recede, inflation will be tamed, and come summer, which is when people will really formulate their views that people's attitudes will change.

The problem that he has is that so much of that is out of his hands.

JARRETT: Laura Jarrett, CNN, New York.


SANCHEZ: Laura, thanks for that report. Be sure to tune in the all-new CNN Original Series, "LBJ: TRIUMPH AND TRAGEDY", premiering with back- to-back episodes tomorrow at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.

And as the world continues to closely watch the situation in Ukraine, coming up in the next hour. We're going to hear from someone who grew up in Russia about what an invasion would mean for her Ukrainian family. And important conversation after a quick break. Stay with us.