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New Day Saturday
Flight Cancellations Plague Airlines As Millions Travel; Accounts Of Trump Demanding To Go Capitol Were Known; New York Governor Signs Gun Safety Bill After Supreme Court Handgun Ruling; Russian Warplanes Target Snake Island; Deadly Amtrak Derailment Raises Safety Concerns in the U.S. Aired 6-7a ET
Aired July 02, 2022 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Buenos dias. Good morning and welcome to your New Day. I'm Boris Sanchez.
KRISTIN FISHER, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Kristin Fisher. Hundreds of flights are canceled again today amid what is expected to be the busiest travel weekend in years, where we're seeing the slowdowns across the country and where weather could impact your July 4 plans.
SANCHEZ: Plus, new CNN reporting on former President Trump on January sixth berating his Secret Service detail. The stories swirling inside the agency and how it plays into this week stunning testimony on Capitol Hill.
FISHER: And striking back how New York State is bucking the Supreme Court when it comes to carrying concealed weapons in public places.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every single one of these are preventable. It's terribly tragic and heartbreaking.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: And following a deadly train crash and derailment new safety concerns about tens of thousands of train crossings across the country.
FISHER: Good morning. It is Saturday July 2nd. Thank you so much for waking up with us and Boris after seeing what travelers are having to deal with this weekend might not be so bad that we have to stay put and work this weekend.
SANCHEZ: That's right, Kristin. Good morning to all of you. We appreciate you joining us. And we start with what Kristin mentioned major travel disruptions at airports across the United States that are threatening to spoil the holiday for millions of Americans. Airlines are being put to the test as the number of people traveling by plane this Fourth of July weekend climbs to levels not seen since the pandemic but staffing issues, cancellations and summer storms have caused headaches for travelers and airlines alike.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We got to get home. We got to fly it. It is going to be you know, cancel, they need to let us know now so we can know what to do.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's saying that my flight was last seen near New York. It's not really saying. It's not really telling me what's going.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FISHER: Nearly 400 flights have already been canceled for today with hundreds of additional flights delayed. AAA predicts three and a half million people will fly this weekend. And an additional 42 million people are expected to drive to their holiday destination is silver lining for those drivers. Gas prices have gone down over nine cents over the past week. But hey, I mean that's still $1.70 more than it was a year ago.
SANCHEZ: Yes, let's take you now to one of the busiest airports in the world Hartsfield Jackson International in Atlanta. That's where we find CNN's Nadia Romero. Nadia, good morning. It's still early this holiday weekend. Obviously not too early for some determined travelers trying to avoid headaches.
NADIA ROMERO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Exactly right. Good morning, Boris and Kristin. Yes, you always want to get to the airport a little bit early in case you have disruptions maybe they can put you on a different flight or you can find an alternate route to get to your location. But already FlightAware says that we're looking at about 400 cancellations this morning and more than 535 flights delayed and it's 6:00 this morning.
If you do make it to your destination, you're going to be paying a lot more this year compared to this time last year. Let's look at the prices to travel, the costs for your hotels up about 23 percent more than last year, gas prices of 52 percent more expensive than a year ago even though you just heard Kristin say they've gone down in the past couple of days. If you looked back to this time last year still up 52 percent, car rentals have decreased 34 percent compared to last year those rental rates.
But if you haven't really traveled since 2019, since the before the pandemic, you're going to be paying about $40 more per day on average for that car rental. And, of course, airfare has gone up 14 percent more than last year.
Now despite all of the rising costs, AAA says that we still expect to see plenty of people traveling and TSA says get ready for some long lines. Take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT SPINDEN, TSA FEDERAL SECURITY DIRECTOR: TSA is expecting a very busy summer travel period. Nationwide, we are expecting to screen over 2 million passengers per day with some days exceeding travel volume from 2019. Here at Hartsfield Jackson sent Atlanta, the world's busiest airport, we are expecting to screen over 80,000 passengers per day through our security checkpoints. With nearly 500,000 passengers this holiday weekend alone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMERO: It is already a busy day here at Atlanta's Hartsfield Jackson airport. There are a lot of airport staff members out in the parking garages, in the terminals trying to help people make their way through. But we expect more people to travel by car, about 88 percent of Americans will hit the road this weekend, Kristin?
FISHER: Yes, no matter how you travel this weekend, it seems like it's really going to cost you. Nadia Romero, thank you so much.
So let's bring in CNN meteorologist Karen Maginnis. Karen, you know, so much of the U.S. is going to see heavy rains and thunderstorms over the weekend. And that's likely going to have a big impact on the roads and cost likely many more delays and cancellations in the air, right?
KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, we've got a lot of things that will produce quagmires across the United States, not just with the thunderstorms, that may not be a day-long event. But now we have another issue. And that is our tropical storm.
This is already formed off the coast of the Carolinas. And it is impacting those areas with some strong winds, heavy rainfall. Right now, the wind supporting this at 40 miles an hour. We're watching for it to move off towards the northeast, eventually moving towards the East northeast.
So even as this pulls away, they're still going to be the risk of those rip currents along those coastal regions. Even a very strong swimmer can be affected by this as well. But thunderstorms throughout the afternoon across the lower Mississippi River Valley into the northeast and into New England.
Here's the forecast rainfall that we're looking at in some sections of the Carolinas, two to four inches of rainfall is expected across this region. Now the higher impact areas will be along this I-95 Corridor, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, New York and Boston. This is what we're looking at perhaps some of the strongest storms, also portions of North Dakota, also South Dakota and into portions of Montana as well with damaging winds and large size hail.
So, if you're traveling by car, watch out for that, you'll have to take it slow. That's going to be the word of the day. You need to exercise that caution. And just take your time because those roads are going to be very tricky as far as the precipitation occurs.
All right, here's the forecast radar, all the ways I mentioned along that I-95 Corridor down across the Tennessee River Valley and into the Central Plains, but not just there. Also, across the West. There's still some monsoonal moisture wrapped around the Four Corners region. The Central Plains will see the heaviest amounts of precipitation.
Right now, no current airport delays. But as we go through the afternoon, when that air traffic really starts to pick up, that's when you're looking at perhaps the greatest possibility of some delays, some of them could be significant. These are daytime high temperatures hot across the Southwest. And it looks like some of these airports in Raleigh and Atlanta.
Look for delays as we head towards the afternoon, maybe on the order of a half hour to an hour. Back to you guys.
FISHER: All right, Karen Mcginnis, thank you so much. And make sure to watch CNN as we celebrate the Fourth in America. We'll have coverage of fireworks across the country, plus music from some of the biggest stars. You can watch Monday at 7:00 p.m. right here on CNN.
SANCHEZ: We are learning new details revealed in stunning testimony before the January 6 committee about an encounter between former President Donald Trump and Secret Service agents.
Sources inside the Secret Service tell CNN that the story from a top White House aide regarding Trump angrily demanding to go to the Capitol on January 6 had been circulating within the agency since the start of last year. We're also learning that there have been attempts to potentially influence some of the committee's witnesses.
Let's bring in CNN political commentator Errol Louis. He's a political anchor for Spectrum News and host of the You Decide podcast.
Errol, always appreciate you getting up bright and early for us. This isn't the first time that Donald Trump or those close to him have reminded witnesses or potential witnesses in a high-profile case that loyalty is important to the former president. Did that revelation surprise you? Do you expect there might be consequences?
ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good morning, Boris. I was a little surprised at how brazen some of these alleged outreach efforts were. It doesn't surprise me at all that anybody who's facing possible criminal exposure might if possible, try to send a word to a hostile witness. Well, look, please don't do me in.
On the other hand, they knew the whole world would be watching this. They had to know that people who are under oath are going to testify truthfully under oath. There's a handful of people really pretty disreputable people around the former president who would lie or who would ignore subpoenas and take on all kinds of legal exposure.
Rudy Giuliani his former lawyer has been suspended from the practice of law. But regular people, regular staffers, other people, I think it's pretty brazen to try and get a message to them and either try and intimidate them or pull them back into the fold, knowing that they were going to testify under oath, under pain of perjury. You can't ask people to go to prison for you. You can't ask people to commit crimes for you. But apparently that might have happened in this case.
SANCHEZ: And if there is evidence that there was witness tampering, do you think that's something that Department of Justice and Attorney General Merrick Garland should prosecute?
LOUIS: Oh, absolutely. There are two parallel things that are going on here, where the Select Committee is pulling out lots and lots of information. And without expressly conveying it to the Department of Justice, clearly, they know that the DOJ is looking at all of this stuff. And if they get any kind of credible information or suspect that a crime may have been committed, they're duty bound to look into it.
And yes, absolutely, Merrick Garland folks I'm sure very attentive to this question, because witness tampering is not like any other offense. I mean, if you can't rely on what people are saying, when they're speaking under oath, the whole system falls apart. And it's usually punished very, very seriously. Courts look very unkindly on that kind of nonsense.
And I think that, again, people are really walking a very fine line by trying to talk to witnesses, knowing that they're going to be in the biggest spotlight in the world right now.
SANCHEZ: Notably, according to sources close to the committee, Cassidy, Hutchinson, that top White House aide who really the story about the Secret Service incident was not the only witness that Trump and those in his orbit tried to talk to and persuade to be loyal to the former president.
I do want to ask you about new reporting, that Trump is considering announcing a 2024 presidential campaign, potentially this month, he wants to change the narrative take attention away from these revelations that the committee is unearthing. Do you think he announces this early?
LOUIS: Well, the rumor was that he would announce on July 4th, as a matter of fact, there's nothing to be gained by delaying in his case. You get certain kinds of legal restrictions on your fundraising once you are officially a candidate. But he's got a lot more to lose by delaying. So I wouldn't be at all surprised if he either did it this weekend, or sometime in the coming weeks, he himself has begun to tweet, or I shouldn't say tweet because he's been banned from Twitter.
But using one of these other social media platforms to try and discredit witnesses, to try and put his view out there, to try and say that, he thinks it was a mistake for Republicans not to put acceptable representatives on the January 6 Select Committee. I think he's got a lot to say. He's got a lot to gain politically. He's got to change the narrative. He's clearly upset by it. There are millions and millions of Americans seeing a very damaging view of him. It may not send him to prison, it may not result in criminal charges, but it could certainly damage him politically. And I would expect Donald Trump to fight back against that.
SANCHEZ: The top Republican on the committee, Liz Cheney, has been in the spotlight for really going after members of her party for their loyalty to Donald Trump over the Constitution and what she deems the right of Americans to participate in a free democracy.
She actually gave a speech at the Reagan National Library this week, she participated in a debate. Her political future is in question because of her disloyalty to the former president, what do you think it looks like realistically, for her moving forward?
LOUIS: No, all of the polls that I've seen every indication out of Wyoming is that she's in a very, very tough race, very tough primaries to try and save her seat. I wouldn't be at all surprised if she lost.
I mean, the reality is much of the Republican Party, and certainly in the more conservative states like Wyoming, loyalty to Donald Trump is really the only unifying principle of the party. And to the extent that she has sort of broken free and said, look, I'm more interested in protecting the Constitution and the truth and the rule of law.
Well, you know, that's grounds for being excommunicated from this, you know, cult like loyalty to one person. It's not normally how we organize our political parties or their philosophies or their platforms. But that seems to be where we are right now. And she is going to pay I think, a severe a political price.
Now she's not somebody who needs this job, per se, she can do fine on the speaking circuit. She can write books. She can do all kinds of other -- she can find other ways to contribute. But I wouldn't trust Republicans in Wyoming that to keep her around because they like many other units of the Republican Party are all about Trump.
SANCHEZ: She could wind up being one of many Republicans at this point who have faced the wrath of the former president and wound up out of office. Errol Louis, thanks so much for the perspective. Hope you have a happy fourth.
LOUIS: Same to you Boris.
SANCHEZ: Of course.
FISHER: From high inflation and rising gas prices to the fallout over the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the President's problems are piling up.
Next, how the White House is trying to deal with all the challenges here at home.
And his brutal death helped sparked the civil rights movement. Now a new discovery by the family of Emmett Till is renewing calls for justice ahead, we'll tell you what they found.
SANCHEZ: President Biden is spending the holiday weekend at Camp David, and he set to return to the White House in time for the Fourth of July fireworks on Monday. Then quickly turn his attention to a slew of issues surging inflation, low poll numbers, high gas prices and the fallout of a historic term for the Supreme Court.
FISHER: President Biden met virtually with nine democratic governors to discuss the decision to overturn abortion rights on Friday. CNN is Kevin Liptak joins us now from the White House. So Kevin what came out of that meeting?
KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, this was really an opportunity for the President to hear out these governors for their ideas and how to protect the access to abortion ahead of time, the President had said that he would be making some announcements, but he didn't unveil anything new per se. Instead, he sort of reiterated his goals of protecting the right to cross state lines to obtain abortions, increasing access to medication abortions.
And he also reiterated his support for eliminating the filibuster, the 60-vote threshold in the Senate when it comes to passing into law, the right to abortion, but he was realistic about the prospects of that happening in the near term. Listen to what he said about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But ultimately, Congress is going to have to act to codify the Roe into federal law. And as I said yesterday, the filibuster should not stand in the way of us being able to do that. But right now, we don't have the votes in the Senate to change the filibuster on at the moment. That means we need two more votes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LIPTAK: So President Biden's making clear that's not happening soon. Now today, we will also hear from the Vice President Kamala Harris, she's speaking at the ESSENCE Festival in New Orleans about this issue. So the White House clearly still searching for ways to remedy this issue as they head into the summer. Guys.
SANCHEZ: Kevin, the President made clear that he believes that Roe versus Wade the issue of abortion is on the ballot in the midterm elections. Democrats are trying to make this a campaign issue, but it comes as the White House is facing a number of economic challenges, right?
LIPTAK: Yes, certainly President Biden hopes that this will be galvanizing for Democrats heading into the midterm. You heard him and those Democratic governors mentioned the elections so many times in that meeting yesterday. But at the same time, there's some real big differences between President Biden and other Democrats on this issue. And that was sort of laid bare when the New York Governor Kathy Hochul mentioned in that meeting this idea of using federal property to perform abortion as she mentioned, veterans, hospitals and military installations.
Now, that is something that the White House has really tamp down on says that could have dangerous ramifications. So heading into the midterms, as Biden focuses on the economy and on abortion, there are all these differences among Democrats as well. That's something that the President will have to confront in the weeks ahead. Guys.
SANCHEZ: Kevin Liptak from the White House. Thank you so much.
The effects of the Supreme Court decision to overturn abortion rights in the United States are reverberating across the nation. The decision sparking legal challenges in about a dozen states as abortion rights advocates are seeking legal orders to block state level abortion bans and other extreme limits.
FISHER: Lawmakers in New York took the first steps towards enshrining abortion rights in the state's constitution on Friday, and a constitutional amendment could eventually be put to voters in a referendum.
Meanwhile, voters in Michigan could prevent a return to a 1931 abortion ban at the ballot box this November. CNN's Jeff Zeleny has more on what's at stake in this key battleground state this fall.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): I don't think many knew that Michigan would snap back 91 years to a law that would render this pro-choice state. One of the most extreme in the country.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Governor Gretchen Whitmer is on the front lines of the new abortion fight, or a temporary court order is all that's keeping Michigan from reverting to a 1931 law that made abortion a felony.
WHITMER: No exceptions for rape, no exceptions for insights. This is how serious this moment is and how dramatic lives could be up ended in Michigan.
ZELENY: Leading with women in the Detroit suburbs, Whitmer sounded the alarm about the Supreme Court overturning Roe vs. Wade. As fallout ripples across the country, from courts to campaigns. It's suddenly a central issue in battleground governor's races in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania where Democrats say they are the last line of defense from Republican challengers and GOP controlled legislatures pressing for more restrictions.
WHITMER: The most important economic decision a woman makes in her lifetime is when and whether to have a child and this court decision threads to rip that away from every woman in the country. And it's going to be up to governors and that's why this fight so important.
ZELENY (on camera): Was this issue do you think overtake other issues, other challenges headwinds that your party was facing?
WHITMER: The inflation has taken a toll, the cost of gas, the cost of groceries, it's tough. But I also know that you take away someone's ability to make their health care decisions that only compounds the pain that families are going to feel.
ZELENY (voice-over): Tudor Dixon is the leading Republican candidate for governor, strongly opposed to abortion rights.
TUDOR DIXON (R), MICHIGAN GUBENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I'm both sides. It energizes people certainly you have the pro-life people that feel like this was a win and then you have the pro-choice people who want to see something different.
SHARON BASEMEN, ABORTION RIGHTS SUPPOTER: You signed the reproductive rights ballot initiative petition yet?
ZELENY: Abortion rights supporters are collecting signatures to put the issue on the November ballot, a movement underway for months that is catching new fire in the wake of the court's ruling.
BASEMEN: Friday all hell broke loose. You know, people saying, what can I do to help, but we are getting a lot of people who aren't necessarily Democrats coming to sign because they just think it's wrong.
ZELENY: John Murray, a small business owner of a baby and children's store said he will sign the petition because it's an issue for men as well.
JOHN MURRAY, OWNER, MODERN NATURAL BABY: If you have a daughter, if you're married, if you have a sister if you have a mother, right? Like, if you don't feel like if my wife feels like I'm less of a human right now than you are. She's like you have more rights than I do right now.
ZELENY: A proposed constitutional amendment in Michigan is seen by the ACLU as a test run for other states, navigating the post Roe world.
LOREN KHOGALI, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ACLU OF MICHIGAN: This will serve as a model for other sort of similarly situated states and it really will sort of be a beacon in the midst of a really difficult time for reproductive rights supporters.
ZELENY: That is exactly why opponents of abortion rights vowed to fight the ballot initiative in hopes of stopping it in Michigan.
CHRISTEN POLLO, SPOKESWOMAN, CITIZENS OF SUPPORT MICHIGAN WOMEN AND CHILDREN: We will either have a ban on abortion that protects human life, or we will have this anything goes abortion amendment. This is a little bit of a test to see what they could do in other states.
ZELENY (on camera): Now, organizers of this petition drive have just a few more days to gather enough signatures to put the question of reproductive rights on the November ballot that would enshrine the protection for abortion rights in the state constitution.
This is a test case in Michigan. Supporters will try this in other states across the country as well. It does all but guarantee one thing, this issue will still be front and center come November. Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Detroit.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
SANCHEZ: Jeff Zeleny, thank you so much for that report. There's been a major setback for gun control advocates in New York after the Supreme Court struck down restrictions on carrying a concealed weapon outside the home. Now the governor is hitting back with a new gun safety law. We'll tell you all about it after a quick break.
FISHER: New York's Democratic governor signs into law a gun safety bill in response to a recent Supreme Court decision that struck down a century-old law restricting concealed carry of firearms in public. The legislation details a lengthy list of sensitive areas where firearms will be banned including government buildings, public transportation and schools.
The bill enhances safe storage requirements and also makes no open carry. The default position for private businesses. So we're going to discuss this more with criminal defense attorney and CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson. Joey, good morning.
JOEY JACKSON, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Good morning, Kristin.
FISHER: Morning. So New York's governor is saying that despite this monumental setback from the Supreme Court, that this new law is going to help keep New Yorkers safe. So, how exactly is this new gun reform going to impact the state, and how significant is it that lawmakers were able to pass this bill so quickly?
JACKSON: Yes, I think it's very significant -- good morning to you. Look, the reality is that there had to be some action taken in light of the Supreme Court and their indication that, you know, really in terms of gun safety, that the Second Amendment should be paramount, and that people should be able to carry firearms at will. And so, I think what you're seeing is New York react to really the Supreme Court in an effort to protect its citizens.
It's important to note that not only do you have now a more restrictive gun law in New York State with regard to the protection of people who live in New York State and all of its communities. But you also have lawsuits against manufacturers and retailers at least, right, distributors, I should say, of those who were selling what's called ghost guns to people through the mail. And so, it's not only, Kristin, then looking at this piece of legislation and the enactment of it and how it would restrict their otherwise guns from the streets of New York. But it's done in conjunction with the New York State Attorney General
and the mayor with regard to implementing really lawsuits to hold everyone accountable who are selling or introducing weapons into the communities.
FISHER: So Joey, no surprise here, but the bill is already drawing lots of criticism from Republicans over the short turnaround. But Democrats' reason to believe that the bill's language is going to hold up against anyone who might try to challenge the bill in court. Do you agree with that?
JACKSON: So, it remains to be seen and I'll tell you why. What happens is, I think at least initially, it will hold up as it relates to New York. I think that there are restrictive measures, there are measures taken that the state has the police power to protect the citizens and in light of the manner in which the legislation was passed, right, state legislature, our state Senate, the governor signing it.
But when you start looking at challenges, it's not only New York State courts as we know that have to evaluate it, it ultimately can go to that other place that you and I are aware of, and that is the United States Supreme Court, just like the other measure.
And of course, we know the conservative nature of the Supreme Court with a 6-3 majority, they really, right, those justices are really scrutinizing issues like gun control. We have to remember that the Second Amendment, right? Right to bear arms, yes, you do, but there are limitations. And I think that this gun control law will stand up. But if it gets to the U.S. Supreme Court, I'm not so confident that, that court will give credit to the law.
FISHER: Joey, while we've got you. I want to ask you about one other topic. The family members of Emmett Till; the 14-year-old black teenager whose murder in the Jim Crow south spurred the civil rights movement, they say that they have discovered an unserved arrest warrant for the white woman who accused him of making advances towards her.
The warrant was signed way back in 1955, and the family is now hoping that, that old warrant will lead to Carolyn Bryant Donham's arrest. So walk us through. How does that work? I mean, what is the legal process that the family is going to have to go through, considering that this warrant is 67 years old?
JACKSON: Yes, it's a great question. I mean, obviously, we're talking about almost 70 years ago, and it's justice delayed. But should it be justice denied? I think from the family's perspective, we know the story of Emmett Till very well. There should not have been a 14-year- old who was otherwise killed and kidnapped and tortured and shot in the head for purposes of whistling or what have you to a white woman.
And so, we know that those who went on trial, the two men were acquitted. However, as it relates to the woman, who really precipitated this, there's this warrant out there where it speaks to her culpability. So right now, right, responsibility in this. So I think right now, what they're looking to do to family is to have the authorities really serve it, and otherwise bring, right, Donham to justice and have her go through the process, right?
We know that as it relates to any murder, there is no statute of limitations, and so authorities do have the right to really affect legal process by bringing a person to justice, arresting them, accusing them, charging them, prosecuting them, allowing them to have their due process in court, and let the chips fall where they may. We are now, you know, in a different era, a different time, but I think certainly, it would do -- go a long way to finding and holding everyone accountable who was involved.
FISHER: Yes, nearly 70 years later. Wild. Joey Jackson, thank you so much.
JACKSON: Always, thank you.
SANCHEZ: Just one day after withdrawing from Ukraine's Snake Island, Russia unleashes a new attack. We'll take you live to eastern Europe in just a few minutes.
SANCHEZ: Russian forces have launched new attacks on a small but strategic Ukrainian Island. Russian war planes targeted Snake Island last night. It comes just one day after Russian forces withdrew from this same island. Ukraine is accusing Russia of dropping phosphorous bombs on Snake Island. Though CNN has not been able to independently verified those claims.
FISHER: A U.S. Defense official says that Ukraine is having, quote, "a good deal of success with an advanced rocket system used to target Russian command posts." CNN correspondent Scott McLean joins us live from Kyiv. And you know, Scott, this island, Snake Island, of course, it has strategic importance, but it also has symbolic importance as well because this is of course, at the beginning of war, of the war where those Ukrainian soldiers said Russian warship, go "f" yourself. So what more can you tell us about what's been happening there?
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, symbolic, economic, military importance. This little outcropping in the Black Sea, it certainly played an outsized role in this war. The Ukrainians say that they drove the Russians off the island two days ago after a week's long bombing campaign. The Russians though, they tell a very different story. They claim that they actually vacated the island as a good-will gesture.
If that is the case, well, this latest bombing of Snake Island is a pretty strange way to show good-will towards your enemies. Especially, given the bombs that the Ukrainians accuse them of dropping phosphorous bombs. Now, we haven't been able to confirm that, but if that is the case, it's significant because phosphorous is normally used in tracer rounds, it burns very bright, it burns very hot, it also is extremely dangerous if it hits any kind of human flesh because it will burn right through it.
And so perhaps, this strike was meant to send a message to the Ukrainians. So far as we know right now, there are no humans actually on that island. The Ukrainians say they want to get rid of any Russian infrastructure on that island. They want to make sure that it is de- mined, there's no booby-traps before they go back and plant their flag. Perhaps now, they'll think twice about how quickly they go back to set up shop.
SANCHEZ: And Scott, President Zelenskyy of Ukraine praised the United States for the latest aid package. Bring us up to speed on what's in it, and how important it is for Ukraine at this stage of the conflict?
MCLEAN: Sure. Anti -- this is really an effort to beef up the air defense system. So there are surface-to-air missile systems, two of them included in this aid package from the United States. There are also radar systems and ammunition for rockets and for artillery as well. And my colleague Phil Black was actually on the frontlines in the eastern part of the country yesterday, and he met with a group of Ukrainian soldiers at their camp in the forest as the Russians were closing in.
And they told them that, look, for everyone single heavy shot we're firing, the Russians are firing 10 or 20. They simply do not have the artillery that they need. And so, it's no wonder that the Russians are making so much progress in the east bit by bit. These artillery systems are really badly needed, Boris, Kristin?
FISHER: Yes, Scott McLean live in Kyiv for us. Scott, thank you. Meanwhile, a deadly Amtrak derailment raises new safety concerns about tens of thousands of train-crossings across the U.S. Now, many safety officials say they're doing nothing to improve warnings on the tracks could have deadly consequences.
FISHER: Four people were killed in Mendon, Missouri, this week, after an Amtrak train struck a dump truck and derailed.
SANCHEZ: Now, there are very serious concerns over the safety of the tens of thousands of train crossings all across the country. CNN's Pete Muntean has that story for us.
MIKE SPENCER, FARMER: This is a dangerous-enough crossing that I --
PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Missouri farmer Mike Spencer knew there was an accident waiting to happen in the middle of his field.
SPENCER: To see this.
[06:50:00] MUNTEAN: It was just two weeks ago that he posted this video on
Facebook, warning of a dangerous railroad crossing. On Monday, it was here that an Amtrak train slammed into a dump truck, killing the driver, three train passengers and injuring dozens more.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We hit a truck --
MUNTEAN: But this could have happened almost anywhere.
SPENCER: We start watching for trains way back.
MUNTEAN: Only a couple miles away, another example of what is known as a passive or uncontrolled rail crossing. Meaning, it is up to drivers alone to watch out for oncoming trains.
(on camera): There are tens of thousands of uncontrolled rail crossings nationwide. No lights, no electronic barriers, just a sign.
JENNIFER HOMENDY, CHAIR, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD: It is very urgent because it would save lives.
MUNTEAN (voice-over): National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy says the agency has been urging better warnings on crossing like this since 1998.
HOMENDY: We continue to push for infrastructure improvements like gates, bells, whistles and hope that those do get installed. There are many different ways of addressing safety at crossings, but doing nothing is not the right answer.
MUNTEAN: The NTSB says about half of all the rail crossings in the U.S. are passive or uncontrolled. About 130,000 nationwide. Last year, there were 812 collisions at those crossings according to federal data. Last week, three women were killed when their car was hit by a train at this uncontrolled rail crossing near San Francisco.
HOMENDY: Every single one of these are preventable. It's terribly tragic and heartbreaking.
MUNTEAN: Were you afraid of this intersection?
SPENCER: Oh, absolutely afraid of it.
MUNTEAN: The crossing in Missouri where this week's crash took place was already identified by the state as needing improvements. The cost estimated at $400,000.
SPENCER: Maybe the price of fixing this was the cost of lives. You know, I know you can't put a dollar amount on that. That's what's sad.
MUNTEAN: Mike Spencer says he hopes this crash leads to nationwide change, certain the outcome here could have been much different.
SPENCER: I just wish it hadn't come to this.
MUNTEAN: Pete Muntean, CNN, Mendon, Missouri. (END VIDEOTAPE)
SANCHEZ: Thanks to Pete, for that report. Still ahead, a former Olympic distance runner says that after her career was over, she became depressed, now she's turning her personal pain into purpose.
SANCHEZ: A former Olympic distance runner says that she got severe depression after her career ended, and now she's urging other athletes to take their mental health seriously.
FISHER: Carolyn Manno has more on her story in this morning's "BLEACHER REPORT". Good morning.
CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kristin and Boris. You know, a lot of people think about Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka, Kevin Love, Michael Phelps as the faces of mental health and sports. But Alexi Pappas has been right there too. She released a video in 2020, highlighting some of the struggles that she went through which quickly went viral, and this really dates back before her career ended.
She lost her mother to suicide at the age of 4, and she realized shortly after that as she grew up, that she was going to have to continue to stay on top of what ultimately became clinical depression. She battled back from the brink, and now she's helping others do the same.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXI PAPPAS, FORMER OLYMPIC DISTANCE RUNNER: My openness about discussing mental health and my own mental health comes from an understanding that my mom, who took her own life when I was 4, didn't seem to feel very comfortable talking about her own mental health.
And so, I feel like the reality is, we deserve to be in a world where we can talk about that stuff. I wish that everyone understood that when it comes to mental health, the brain is a body part, and it can get injured just like any other body part. And it can heal just like any other body part or be managed just like any other chronic injury.
And I wish that I had known that, you know, before my depression or during -- before it got really bad. Because then I might have felt less shame because there is no shame in having an injury. Often times in the athletic world, when it comes to physical injury, sometimes people don't believe you have it unless you have an MRI to share. And the thing about mental health is that, there is no clear MRI always available.
You can't always prove that this is happening. And so, what I think the next step is, I think now we're OK with people sharing, we're OK with it existing, it doesn't feel like such a new vocabulary world, but I do think that we have another step to go where we accept the word "pain" or the word "challenge" or the word "mental health" anything, at face value.
And we stopped questioning the integrity of these athletes or anybody in the world when they say that they're struggling. Because that skepticism is really damaging. And you know, every girl I know, like every athlete I know, is the toughest person I know. So, if someone is saying they're in pain, it's probably true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MANNO: You know, at 32 years old, she really is one of these athletes who is making a difference. And exactly Boris and Kristin, what she just said, that's the mission, and that's how she's trying to do this, is to ditch the stigma like so many of these other athletes are.