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New Day Saturday

Dozens Killed In Russian Airstrike On Crowded Train Platform; More Than 4.4 Million Refugees Have Fled Ukraine; Congress Fails To Pass COVID Relief Bill, Approves Other Agenda Items; Senate Confirms Ketanji Brown Jackson To Supreme Court; Zelenskyy Calls Missile Strike On Train Station A War Crime; First All-Private Space Crew Gets Ready To Dock At The International Space Station; Civilian Crew Members To Help With 20+ Scientific Experiments; Private Mission To ISS Delayed By Two Hours. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired April 09, 2022 - 07:00   ET




BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Buenos dias. Good morning and welcome to your NEW DAY. We're thrilled to have you with us this Saturday, April 9th. I'm Boris Sanchez.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christi Paul. Good morning to you, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Good morning.

PAUL: So, listen to what we're hearing this morning. Everyone -- this is a quote, "everyone involved will be held accountable." That is a vow from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, responding to Russia's attack on that train station in Kramatorsk. Now, we do want to warn you, we don't want you to get caught off guard here, but some of what you're about to see, it's really hard to look at. We feel that it's important to share with you though the full scope of what's happening in Ukraine. So, we want to be very candid and transparent here.

SANCHEZ: Yes, officials say this airstrike on the rail station killed at least 50 people, including five kids, nearly 100 were wounded. The station was packed with civilians, evacuees, people that were trying to escape the fighting in this eastern part of Ukraine. President Zelenskyy now says that Russia has to pay for its crimes.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translation): We expect a firm global response to this war crime, like the massacre in Bucha, like many other Russian war crimes, the missile strike on Kramatorsk must be one of the charges at the tribunal which is bound to happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PAUL: The President Zelenskyy says the horror that we all saw in the

town of Bucha is likely just the beginning. The images of civilians lying dead in the street, bodies being buried in mass graves. It is, It's shocking. It's horrifying. And the President Zelenskyy says the situation in the town of Borodianka is much scarier than in Bucha.

SANCHEZ: This week, the United States approved another 100 million dollars for weapons in Ukraine. It comes as Russian forces appear to be regrouping and now shifting their focus. Ukrainian officials are warning about a major Russian offensive in the Donbass region in Eastern Ukraine.

PAUL: And we want to let you know right now, we're getting reports of an explosion in the coastal city of Odessa. That's according to the mayor of a nearby town. He's urging people not to panic and said the situation is under control but did not give additional details on that thus far.

SANCHEZ: Let's get to our correspondents. They're covering the story from multiple angles. We have Salma Abdelaziz along the Polish- Ukrainian border, she has an update on the refugee crisis. We also have Phil Black and Lviv in Ukraine.

PAUL: And Phil, let's start with you in the aftermath of that Russian attack on that crowded train station. What are you hearing about what happened and what is next?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christi, those scenes from the train station are so distressing, and we should make the point again, the images so very graphic that, as you've touched on, it is no surprise that President Zelenskyy and indeed other world leaders and human rights groups are calling this an atrocity, a war crime. And Zelenskyy is not just promising general accountability; he's talking about accountability for every single person in the chain of command that was involved in giving the order to the person who pushed the button to launch that missile.

So, what we are hearing here is that the missile involved was a short- ranged ballistic missile. This is according to U.S. officials who told CNN that it was fired from within Ukraine but, but from a Russian position and it's a Ukrainian military that believes that, that missile was packed with cluster munitions. These are small bomblets that spread and explode over a wide area. Ad you can imagine, it would be particularly devastating if dispersed among a crowd of thousands of people as it was outside that train station on Friday.

And these are also weapons that are banned by many countries, more than 100 around the world. So, as it stands, the focus now shifts to getting people out and continuing to get people out of this region in Eastern Ukraine, despite this attack, despite this atrocity, because there is tremendous need to get people out ahead of what is expected to be a much larger and very aggressive Russian operation that's set to begin, really, if you believe the Ukrainian officials almost in any moment.

[07:05:42] SANCHEZ: And Phil, we're learning that some of the evacuation routes are now being adjusted in light of that missile strike. Talk to us about the dangers in these civilian corridors. They're often interrupted by attacks, right?

BLACK: Yes, as this attack proves, and the point is that in the east, this pressure, this risk, it is building. The Russians haven't launched this new expected offensive yet, but officials in the East say that they are already seeing a massing of Russian troops and resources they're reporting an increase in, in shelling and bombardment across cities, and civil -- and towns and other civilian areas. And so, ahead of this coming operation, the expectation is that you've got to get vast numbers of civilians out as quickly as possible while they still had before this operation began.

PAUL: Phil Black in Lviv, Ukraine. We so appreciate the updates, Phil. Take good care of yourself the crew there. Thank you.

Now, the United Nations Refugee Agency says nearly four-and-a-half million Ukrainians have left their country since the beginning of Russia's invasion, and another seven million are internally displaced.

SANCHEZ: And with these attacks on train stations and the threat to humanitarian corridors that Phil just outlined, their trip is becoming more dangerous. CNN's Salma Abdelaziz joins us now from Poland's border with Ukraine and some of her many Ukrainians, where you are is the first stop after a long and difficult journey.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's the first stop, but when they get here, Boris and Christi, their journey is not over yet, they have to figure out where they're going to sleep, they have to figure out where they're going to stay, they have to figure out where they're going get their next meal. I'm just going to show you here because this hallway, essentially in this train station has become a waiting area.

People get here, they don't know what they're going to do next, they take a seat, they start working the phones, they go on social media, they ask friends, where can I find a room to sleep tonight? And if you don't mind, I'm just going to keep walking through this train station, because again, it's not just a transport hub, it's the place where you can get medical attention, if that's what you need. There's a first aid station here for people, so there's a paramedic on duty who can check you out, signs here again, for women who are pregnant to make sure that they can get consultation, they can get help, if that's what you need.

And there's even a playroom just over there for children, so that they could pass the time while their parents try to figure out what's next. And you're going to see everywhere these volunteers here in these high vis jackets, and they're answering questions as much as they can, providing information when they can. And the first question oftentimes they get is, where am I going to sleep tonight?


SANCHEZ: Salma Abdelaziz from the border with Ukraine and Poland. Thank you so much.

PAUL: Joining us now Retired Army Major Mike Lyons. Thank you so much, Major, for being with us. We certainly appreciate your insight on all of this. First and foremost, we know, and we see that the fighting isn't over, but that it has shifted in some respects. So, what is your assessment of that shift? And what does it tell us, do you think about the Russian capabilities or potential next moves?

MAJ. MIKE LYONS, RETIRED U.S. ARMY: Well, first, Russia needs a victory. They had didn't get it in Kyiv. And they had troops so withdrawn from there, they're trying to swing them around to that Eastern flank to get them to this area in the Donbass region in the East, where they're looking, again, to get victory in areas where Russian separatists are already. So, the, the environment there should be conducive to that.

However, Ukraine military is reinforcing on what's called interior lines, they're taking some of the troops out of Kyiv and sending them south to reinforce that. So, I think you'll see a large battle take place there within the coming days. Russia has about 40 Battalion, Tactical Group, BTG, that's how they fight with artillery. Let's say 40 to 50,000 soldiers, but they're going to need a lot more if they want to really claim victory. I think they're going to get punched to the nose pretty quick by Ukraine military backed up by Western combat supplies.

PAUL: Well, you talk about, they're being backed up by Western supplies. So, we got our first look overnight of U.S. troops in Poland who are helping with training missions there. Do you see any sequence of events that would lead to U.S. troops more actively involved in what's happening in Ukraine other than what we just had seen recently?


LYONS: Christi, I don't, I don't think you'll see U.S. troops cross that border. That's a hard red line for the United States. But what we're doing logistically, I think is going to be talked about for years and studied for years, getting that equipment to that Polish border there and then convoying it in into Ukraine across a great distance. The javelins, the drones, the switchblades -- all of the ammunition, metric tons of equipment, so the Ukraine capability of getting that from the border to the battlefield is just incredible.

As well as getting it from the United States and getting it from NATO countries there. I think this is the chance for Slovakia, for example, to get APCs, Armored Personnel Carriers, tanks across that border to help Ukraine military. But the challenge is those MIGs. We talk about air support there, I just don't see us flying MIGs from a NATO country in the Ukraine. That would escalate in the eyes of Russia, who again, can't stop this logistical train that's running, which is really supporting the Ukraine military superbly.

PAUL: So, this week, the U.S., you know, revealed these new rounds of sanctions. The UNGN we know voted to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council. But there are a lot of questions about how are the sanctions really penetrating the plan for Putin? Ian Bremmer, in fact, he's president of Eurasia Group had said recently that the only deterrent that will work will be by making Putin loose on the ground. Do you believe that to be the case, and how plausible is that scenario?

LYONS: Yes, I believe that's the case. And it's because those sanctions are really lag indicators that are affecting the Russian military complex as they try to resupply. The kinds of things that Russia needs in order to win have got to be close to the battlefield right now and not necessarily months from now, when some of that equipment could possibly get there. But the only thing Russia does know is to understand his power and the like.

And as the Ukraine military is going to fight what I think is going to be a guerrilla war, while Russia will try to fight this what I'll say conventionally bringing lots of troops to the battlefield, and try to envelop and do classic military maneuvers, you'll see the Ukraine side take small unit tactics using javelins, using seven times the amount of equipment we have over them when it comes to tanks, for example. And again, bloody them, punched him in the face, keep them from moving through areas, which they think they're going to quickly control.

PAUL: So, the Ukrainian energy ministry said something, I think, that struck a lot of people he said that this is an act of "nuclear terrorism" that we've been watching. I mean, it's notable that one of the first things Russia did was take over Chernobyl.

Fred Pleitgen, in fact, if anybody wants to watch it, documented it beautifully what is left behind there and how callous they were in their treatment of that facility, as well as a facility that they're currently Zaporizhzhia power plant there in Ukraine, that they are currently occupying.

Do you believe these to be acts of nuclear terrorism? And what do you make of the callous actions of the Russian soldiers, particularly at Chernobyl? Because I'm wondering if you can characterize the threat that, that -- the threat that that leaves for the rest of the world?

LYONS: Well, what we're surprised as, as a military analyst is how dumb the Russians have fought this. They've just never learned and didn't take heed and warnings of places like Chernobyl that could cause problems for their military. You have stories of Russian soldiers picking up device, nuclear, rocks, and things that blew Geiger counters away.

And I just don't understand, I don't think that they made these mistakes on purpose to try to terrorize thing. I just think they've just not fought this very well and have not been smart about it. So, those areas have got to remain encapsulated in order for that nuclear radiation to stay in that spot and not and not affect the rest of the world.

That thank God, they're out of there right now, because they just would only cause more harm. But I really don't think it was purposeful. I just think commanders don't recognize what they're up against. And every time we turn around, we just don't see the Russian military learning to avoid places like that, to hurt the soldiers that they have in their units. It's just mind boggling to me.

PAUL: Major Mike Lyons, so appreciate your insight and grateful that you would share it with us. Take good care and thank you.


SANCHEZ: Still ahead, the United States confirming its first black woman to the Supreme Court, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's emotional message to all of the women who helped pave the way for a historic moment. And just minutes from now, another milestone, this one in space. The first all private space crew set the dock with the International Space Station will bring up to you live and talk about what it means for the future of commercial space explorations.


PAUL: Well, this week, Congress once again failed to finalize a massive COVID-19 relief package, which left the Biden administration in limbo on one of its top requests this spring. Before lawmakers departed for a two-week recess, they were able to make progress on other agenda items including passing two bipartisan bills to punish Russia for invading Ukraine and confirming President Biden Supreme Court Nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson.

PAUL: Let's take you to Capitol Hill now, and CNN's Daniella Diaz who's live for us. Daniella, why did Congress leave town before passing this COVID relief bill.

DANIELLA DIAZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Boris, it was an age, old age story of Democrats and Republicans could not agree on a major sticking point on an amendment that would be attached to the COVID-19 relief package, which is why in the end, they were not able to pass that $10 billion package. That they agreed on initially but that amendment of course being Republicans wanting to attach that amendment, that would restore Title 42, that Trump era protocol that would allow migrants to be sent back to their home countries to be processed.


Now, the administration announced that they would repeal Title 42, of course, angering Republicans and even some moderate Democrats. So, that is why Republicans pushed as Democrats see it in the 11th hour for a vote on that amendment. And that ultimately did not happen, which is why they left for that two-week recess on Friday without passing that bill. But it's just as you said, Boris and Christi, they were able to pass a bipartisan bill targeting Russia -- one that would suspend normal trade relations between the United States and Russia and Belarus.

And another that puts Biden's executive order into law that would ban oil exports from Russia. Of course, these were two largely bipartisan bills that the Congress had been working on for weeks. And also, they confirmed Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court with three Republicans and all Democrats supporting that nomination making her, of course, the first black woman to ever serve on the Supreme Court so they were able to do some bipartisan work this week. Boris, Christi.

SANCHEZ: Daniella Diaz live from Capitol Hill, thank you so much.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson marked her historic confirmation to the Supreme Court with a moving speech from the White House in which she celebrated the hope and promise of this country and acknowledged that, quote, anything is possible. Listen.


KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: I strongly believe that this is a moment in which all Americans can take great pride. We have come a long way toward protecting our union.


SANCHEZ: Let's discuss her confirmation and more with CNN Political Commentator and Columnist for New York Magazine, Errol Louis, he's also the Host of the "You Decide" podcast. Errol, good morning. Great to see you as always. Let's start with history. I want to get your reaction what you were feeling listening to that emotional speech from Justice Brown Jackson.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Good morning, Boris. Like everybody else, or like many other people, a lot of pride in what had happened when she said that her family has gone from segregation to the Supreme Court in one generation. I mean, that's really meaningful. And it's been such an eventful generation. This, to me, is, you know, the sort of the it was the whole point and purpose of the civil rights movement, including affirmative action.

That's sort of the last phase of the, the civil rights movement to allow people into the kind of institutions like, like Harvard that allow for people like Ketanji Brown Jackson to rise unfettered, you know, to really reach her potential, as opposed to the limits that society might put on her for nefarious reasons. And I mean, it's, it's there for everyone to see a really remarkable achievement not only for her and her family, but for the whole United States, a very happy moment.

SANCHEZ: And one would think that this would be an opportunity to reflect and celebrate the progress this nation has made regardless of ideology, regardless of political leanings. And yet, there were visible signs during her confirmation that many Republicans were less than eager to honor that moment. Mitt Romney was the only GOP senator who remained clapping after the vote. There were two GOP senators that showed up late. Lindsey Graham forgot to tie; he wasn't on the floor for his vote. Is that reading too much into the moment? Or what do you take from, from those incidents?

LOUIS: Well, let me let me correct you. Lindsey Graham didn't forget his tie. He was wearing it earlier, and then he took it off. And without a tie under the rules of the Senate, you can't be on the floor. And so, he cast his no vote from the cloakroom sticking his thumb out to pointed downward, that kind of petty foolishness, you know, we've come to expect that it's part of what's broken about Washington.

And then, of course, you know, the last piece of disrespect was as people were applauding after the vote, a bunch of them stood up, and as you know, sort of stormed out of the out of the chamber, like dinosaurs heading back into the swamp. This is what you do come to expect, frankly. I mentioned that, this in some ways is the fulfillment of the civil rights movement, movements give rise to counter movements. There are people who are not happy about the progress this country has made.

They have a very different vision or want to freeze things where they are or take them backwards. Lindsey Graham represents that faction, as does Rand Paul, as does, you know, Tom Cotton, Josh Hawley, and the rest. And you know, we know their names now, but I think the history books will, I guess, just note in passing, those who didn't want to see the country progress, and were soon forgotten.

SANCHEZ: So, I want to look forward now, get your thoughts on Mitch McConnell, his refusal to answer whether he'd hold hearings if President Biden gets another Supreme Court nominee and Republicans take the Senate, we've seen him obstruct the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. He's now obviously the Attorney General, your response to that reaction from the Senate Minority Leader.


LOUIS: Mitch McConnell did, did steal a Supreme Court seat. He makes no bones about it. He has he's, you know, shown in every way possible, and pretty much said it openly that he's willing to break the institution. You know, the norms, the glue that holds this country together in order to get power, in order to get his way. That's how dangerous this divided country is. This divided senate is.

And so, Mitch McConnell, you know, if the Senate Majority falls back into the hands of the Republicans and he's the leader, he has made clear, he pretty much is going to push to the limit of just denying a Democratic president, one of his constitutional rights, which is to name justices to the Supreme Court. The question for us is what are we going to do about it?

You know, that was the same Senate chamber that was taken over by rioters a little over a year ago, Boris. This is, this is real serious stuff. Mitch McConnell is part of that movement to break the institutions of the country in the pursuit of power. It's not something to take lightly. It's not just regular bipartisanship. It's not just the regular back and forth between Democrats and Republicans. It's a real serious warning that there's going to be some trouble ahead, I think.

SANCHEZ: And I think it's notable that he didn't follow his own precedent when Amy Coney Barrett was set to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg, just days before an election. He wanted to leave it up to the voters when it was Merrick Garland, very different tune when there was a Republican president making a nominee. Errol Louis, we have to leave the conversation there. Thanks so much for the time, as always.

LOUIS: Thank you.

PAUL: Thanks, Errol. So, we're seeing Russia's atrocities playing out in Ukraine. I know a lot of you are wondering, will Russia or Vladimir Putin face any consequences for the war crimes many leaders are alleging? We're going to dig into that. Stay close.



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): There is mounting evidence this morning of Russia's atrocities in Ukraine as more countries call for investigations of alleged war crimes during the invasion.

Vladimir Putin's latest act of brutality, Friday's missile strike on innocent civilians at a railway station in eastern -- in the eastern city of Kramatorsk. At least 50 people, including children, were killed there.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has vowed that those responsible for the massacre will be held accountable. Let's dig deeper now with Ambassador Stephen Rapp. He's the former U.S. ambassador-at-large for war crime issues.

He's now a distinguished fellow for the prevention of genocide at the U.S. Holocaust Museum.

Ambassador, great to have you. Really excited to get your insight on this. I think the main question for people watching around the world is whether there will be justice for the atrocities happening in Ukraine. Do you think there will be?

STEPHEN RAPP, DISTINGUISHED FELLOW, UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM'S CENTER FOR PREVENTION OF GENOCIDE: There will be justice. There'll be investigations, there'll be charges laid, the challenge may be getting the high-level individuals arrested, and transferred to a court.

But in any case, there'll be pariahs for the rest of their lives. This incidence in Kramatorsk, I mean, is the kind of thing that we prosecute these cases, as I did in Rwanda, and Sierra Leone, really look for, which are these sort of emblematic incidents that can't be anything else than an attack on civilians.

And when you have a precision-guided weapon that can hit a -- hit a target within a couple of 100 meters, and it attacks a train station that's been used for days to evacuate civilians.

And even some -- somebody on the other side writes for the children on it, maybe thinking it's some kind of revenge. But that's even if it were revenge, that wouldn't be justification.

This is the kind of incident that you can show is, is a war crime without question. An intentional attack on civilians, and it's committed by the main forces of the Russian Federation. And responsibility leads right up to the top.

If Rwanda -- if Russia were responsible country, it would be saying this was a mistake, we're going to investigate, we're going to charge the people. And If they don't do that, then, under international law, the President Putin's responsible for this is the same way as if he fired the rocket.

SANCHEZ: The Russian response has been to blame Ukraine for that missile strike. What do you make of that disinformation and that attempt to deflect?

RAPP: I mean, it's a cynical, pointless. I mean, obviously, there'll be useful idiots and maybe parrot it somewhere, but completely nonsense that people would launch missile which they don't have into a -- into a station full of their own people that are evacuating and in which the government's desperately trying to get them out.

But it just time after time after time, denial, denial, denial. We've seen it with Russia's -- with President Putin's involvement in the attempted assassination of opposition leader Navalny or former agent Skripal in the U.K. This is the murderer.

And a murderer that denies over and over again, his responsibility for the acts that he, in fact, clearly is ordering, or these kinds of acts wouldn't be continuing.

SANCHEZ: Given the gamut of alleged war crimes that you've seen so far, things that, as you noted, our reporters have witnessed that clearly or obviously beyond the pale.


SANCHEZ: What would you say is the likelihood that there is evidence discovered that could convict someone as high up in the Kremlin as Vladimir Putin?

RAPP: Well, again, under international law -- and please understand that Ukrainian prosecutor has jurisdiction. But Ukraine, as one state, can't prosecute the leader of another.

But the International Criminal Court has jurisdiction in this case, because it was given to it by Ukraine eight years ago, and 41 countries have moved that case forward into court.

And the prosecutors commenced an investigation and there's no immunity for head of state. And there also is under international law, the doctrine of command responsibility, that the people up the chain of command to the top are responsible for the crimes of their subordinates, if they knew of those crimes or had reason to know, and failed to take action to prevent or punish.

And clearly, given that this is an S-21, and the arsenal of the Russian Armed Forces, and that it's being launched in this situation, full of anti-personnel weapons, not the kind of ballistic material that you would be used if they were attacking some kind of hardened military installation on the other side, you know, it can -- one can draw the inferences.

Without anything further, to be frank, though, we think a lot else will be available. I mean, and information is being gathered about this crime and other crimes, interrogations are taking place that have captured prisoners, they don't have to answer questions, if any of them do, many of them are unhappy to be there.

And we're also as you know, and as you've heard, there's been interceptions, communications, careless, incompetent army here, and communicating in the clear about their intentions, including some of the brutal acts against civilians that we've seen in Bucha and elsewhere.

So, you know, one can put the matrix together here. This is a stronger case than we had certainly in the former Yugoslavia. And, of course, a much more direct case, because in most of those cases involve trying to charge someone like Milosevic in Serbia for forces that were apparently or purportedly independent in another country.

These aren't independent forces. This is not some proxy army. This is the army of the Russian Federation, that's committing these crimes, and that's under the direct command of Vladimir Putin.

SANCHEZ: Putting these cases together is incredibly difficult and painstaking work, but it is critical, if only for the historical record and potentially, for the conviction of those who have carried out these horrible acts.

Ambassador Stephen Rapp, we appreciate your time. Thank you so much for the perspective.

RAPP: Glad to be with you.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): It's a historical milestone for space tourism. Moments from now, the first all private space crew is docking at the International Space Station. We'll have the latest for you. Stay close.



PAUL: It is the first ever mission to the final frontier with an all- civilian crew docking with the International Space Station in just a few minutes at this point.

SANCHEZ: Yes, we're close to watching live pictures of them docking. The crew members include a former NASA astronaut who's serving as commander, and three paying passengers, and they're going to be living and working at the International Space Station for the next eight days.

Let's go live now to CNN's Rachel Crane. She is live for us from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Rachel, what can we expect in the coming moments? And what are they going to be doing on board the ISS over the next week or so?

RACHEL CRANE, CNN INNOVATION AND SPACE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Boris and Christi this moment is not only years in the making, but you know, at least when it comes to this journey, 20 hours in the making.

This is that critical moment when spaceship Endeavour will dock to the International Space Station. There'll be a series of -- there's first a soft docking and then a hard docking with latches, attach this spacecraft to the International Space Station.

And once on -- once that happens, you know, it will take a few hours before the hatch is opened. And this crew of four private astronauts enters into the International Space Station, making the total number of crew members on station right now 11.

So, it's going to be pretty crowded up there. And while they're up there for these eight days on station, these four private astronauts will be doing about 25 experiments testing looking into ageing, brain health, cardiac health.

There also is one experiment about hollow teleportation, kind of like a fancy way to describe a two way video dialogue. That so, they're not just spending their time looking out the window and taking in the views. They are doing a lot of hard science and experiments up there. That's one of the reasons that this crew is adamant that they are not space tourists, you guys. They are private astronauts doing serious science. This is really a major milestone in the further and commercialization of low Earth orbit.

Boris, Christi?

SANCHEZ: Rachel Crane, please stand by. We're going to keep watching these live pictures and come back to you as news merits. Let's bring in retired NASA astronaut Leroy Chiao. He's with us this morning.

Leroy, obviously, as Rachel outlined, this is a big step forward for the future of commercial space travel. These are all -- even though they don't like to be called tourists, these are all essentially paying tourists that are docking with the ISS, right?


LEROY CHIAO, FORMER INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION COMMANDER: Oh, that's correct. And, of course, Mike Lopez-Alegria, former NASA astronaut, a good friend of mine, he and I flew a space shuttle mission together back in the day. So, he is the only one that has not paid for it.

The other three crew members on board did pay a significant amount of money. And so, they are going to the space station for about eight days. And they do have a science program. That's true. They will be conducting some research work while they're up there as well. But yes, the first commercial -- all commercial crew to dock to the ISS.

PAUL: So, you just mentioned to the price tag. Now, there's a rumor that it was about $55 million for each of their spots to get there. That's not something everybody can pay. I mean, people can't just -- you know, take that out of their wallet. Hey, yes, let's go to space. Can you give us a realistic --


CHIAO: Well, that's right. And, you know, that's --

PAUL: Yes, can you give us a realistic estimation of say, you or me go -- you know, anybody sitting at home in their pajamas right now, thinking, I want to do this.

CHIAO: Yes, but the problem, of course, is it's very expensive to launch a rocket, to launch a spacecraft. Even with the dramatic price reductions in the recent years that SpaceX has made possible with their Falcon 9, reusing first stage boosters, reusing payload fairings, things like that.

But the price is still in the 10s of millions just for the rocket. And so, if you divide that, plus the spacecraft, if you divide that by four people on board, you know, the price tag is still pretty steep for the average individual, if you will.

So, it's going to be -- this is going to take some kind of a breakthrough to really dramatically bring down the price of lodge -- of a reliable lodge, getting humans into space safely, putting a lot of energy into a vehicle to get it up to that orbital speed of 17,500 miles an hour, so they can remain in orbit.

So, it's going to be a while for you and me to be able to actually pay for a seat.

SANCHEZ: It is not a cheap ride, Leroy. As we're awaiting them docking with the ISS, this is a delicate process. Walk us through some of the immediate things that they're running through right now to try to make this happen as we watch these live images.

CHIAO: Yes, right now, they are station keeping it about 20 meters from the docking port. I understand that NASA is troubleshooting a problem with a video leg. It's nothing serious. It's actually a camera view from the Dragon spacecraft is supposed to be routed through the ISS, so that the mission control center can watch along as the spacecraft approaches to dock.

And so, they're just waiting for NASA to figure that problem out with that link before they go ahead and approach and dock.

So, the crew onboard the -- everything aboard the Dragon spacecraft appears to be nominal. There are no malfunctions, the crew is working. They're just waiting for that go from NASA to go come on and dock.


PAUL: Hey, hey, Leroy. Leroy, can I -- I'm sorry, I don't mean to interrupt you. But let's listen in. We want to listen into some of the verbiage that's going on right now.

CHIAO: Sure.

PAUL: And then, we'll talk to you on the other side of it.

CHIAO: You bet.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are staying for now. We anticipate at least two hours of hold time limited by propellant. And I wish I could, but I can't comment for sure how long this hold will last. How, copy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jake, believe me, we feel your pain. We understand what's going on. We will stay here as long as you tell us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Copy all dragon, sit tight.


SANCHEZ: Sit tight.


PAUL: So, Leroy, as we understand it, and I know you just heard some of that. They are having some software issues, apparently, and they have to reconfigure some computers.

Have you been in that situation before? Help us understand what that's like.

CHIAO: This is not completely unusual. There is some kind of configuration problem, maybe a software problem. But NASA is having a problem getting that video link from Dragon spacecraft into the station and down to the ground.

And so, it appears to be a problem on the ISS side, not with the Dragon. And so, you guys, we just heard the crew was told to just sit tight. They have two hours -- at least two hours of available propellant to maintain their margins. And this video link is I don't believe is critical for the docking.

So, if NASA ultimately cannot sort this problem out, I would anticipate they'll go ahead and give dragon a go to go ahead and come on in and dock.

SANCHEZ: Let's bring back in Rachel Crane, who is with us from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

And Rachel we just heard as they were discussing from the ISS to folks on the ground and the command station there. It sounds like they're going to be in a two-hour holding pattern. They told them just sit tight. What are you hearing about what is happening and what they're sorting out right now as Leroy explained, it sounds like there's an issue with a video link?

CRANE: Yes, Boris and Christi. And just to clarify, they can stay up there for two hours. It's not that they're going to necessarily be in this hold for two hours. But that's really the limiting factor here.




CRANE: Is that they can only have this hold for up to two hours. So, right now, ground control is working on getting that video link, working on the International Space Station.

But as we're hearing from the astronauts on board, they are pretty comfortable up there. They understand that this is, you know, as they said on the comm, said this isn't the first hiccup in what's been a perfect launch and journey so far.

So, you know, they are in their suits right now. They're climate controlled, so they're comfortable. And they are, you know, we're all awaiting to see if this issue can be fixed.

Of course, this video link is a vital part of making sure that this docking happens safely and successfully. They can't proceed forward without this view on station of the approaching docking.

So, we are all hoping that they'll be able to troubleshoot this. But, you know, this communication, we could -- they can see this on the ground. It's just the International Space Station, they are not getting the link of that, that one video link. So, we're all waiting to see if that can happen.

But I just want to point out that I'm here at Port Canaveral. This is where the booster that we saw land yesterday will be coming in just a few days. And they've landed these boosters now, SpaceX, over 100 times.

So, that was one something of science fiction. That was something that was really, you know, not that the space industry wanted to crack, reusability in order to bring down the price tag of these journeys. As you were talking about, the rumored price tag that these paying passengers paid, $55 million.

Hopefully, that price tag will come down in the future and SpaceX and the space industry more broadly has said reusability will be a key piece of that. Also the reason that this mission has gotten so much attention and why it's so important is it really signifies another major milestone in the space industry.

Commercialization of low earth orbit. Allowing private industry to take over. An Axiom space who they are the ones that organize this mission. They have plans to launch a space station and attach in a module to the International Space Station in 2024.

So, this flight, yesterday's launch, and this journey of these four astronauts, they say that this is just the first major step in what they hope will be a very ambitious space program for their company. But we are, you know, awaiting to see, hopefully, a successful docking. Hopefully, they'll be able to get that video link, and we'll be coming to you with those details, Boris, Christi?

PAUL: Yes, we will be watching for that.

Listen, Leroy Chiao and Rachel Crane, we appreciate both of you walking us through what we're seeing here. We will continue to watch this. We'll have more updates for you as they come.

But thank you to both of you. We'll be right back.



SANCHEZ: And it was the slap heard around the world. And after slapping Chris Rock during the Oscars, actor Will Smith has been banned from attending any Academy events for the next decade.

PAUL: The Academy issued a statement yesterday, saying this, in part. "The 94th Oscars were meant to be a celebration of the many individuals in our community who did incredible work this past year: however, those moments were overshadowed by the unacceptable and harmful behavior we saw Mr. Smith exhibit on stage.

SANCHEZ: In a statement to CNN, Will Smith said, "I accept and respect the Academy's decision. That was it. CNN has reached out to Chris Rock's representatives for comment, we've yet to hear back.

PAUL: Chef, writer, traveler, friend, Anthony Bourdain played special roles in millions of people's lives around the world. From the people that he loved to people he didn't know that loved him.

Now, as CNN prepares to bring you the new film, Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain. Some of Tony's closest friends and family share their favorite memories of the cultural icon.

Here, in fact, is Tony's publisher, Daniel Halpern.


DANIEL HALPERN, PUBLISHER, KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL: The first meal that I had with Tony was at a very strange Japanese restaurant. You went to an office building, and then down a stairway, as if you were one of the janitors' office.

And then, there was a door, and then, open to this amazing Japanese restaurant called Sakura (PH). And they're famous for their 200 sakes. And I think we sampled about five percent of them.

It was always complicated because he was not completely comfortable with himself, but always full of interesting information. You never knew what he was going to say, completely unpredictable, funny, warm, always modest. I got to experience that expansiveness and the kind of wonder the kind of hour by hour, minute by minute, wondered that he exuded wherever he was.

There was something magical, something chemical about him that just brought you into him. And he was able to communicate, really without talking very much.

You can catch Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain when it premieres tomorrow. 9:00 p.m. right here on CNN.

The next hour of NEW DAY starts right now.


PAUL: Welcome to Saturday, April 9th.