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New Day Saturday

Redacted FBI Affidavit Released For Search Of Mar-a-Lago; Trump And Allies Dismiss 'Heavily Redacted' Mar-a-Lago Affidavit; W.H. Estimates Student Loan Relief Will Cost About $24B Per Year; Markets Sink After Chair Warns Of "Some Pain" To Tame Inflation; Fed Chair Promises "Forceful And Rapid" Action On Inflation; Nuclear Plant Reconnected To Ukraine's Power Grid; NASA's "Artemis 1" Mission To The Moon Set For Monday Launch. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired August 27, 2022 - 08:00   ET



ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's just going to exacerbate a lot of the ongoing flooding concerns. So you still have a flood threat for all of these areas you see here in green along the Gulf Coast. Another area is going to be into the Midwest where not only do we have the chance for flooding, guys, but we also have the potential for some strong to severe thunderstorms, including some damaging winds.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Yikes. Allison Chinchar, thank you so much. Your next hour of New Day starts right now.

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. And welcome to your New Day. I'm Amara Walker.

SANCHEZ: And I'm Boris Sanchez. Former President Trump again is calling for a special master to intervene after a judge unseals documents about the search of his Mar-a-Lago home. We have the latest in his legal battle and what we're learning about those classified government secrets he was keeping.

WALKER: President Biden lays out his plan to forgive billions of dollars in student loans. Why some say the plan is a good start but doesn't go far enough.

SANCHEZ: Also, stocks plummeting after Fed Chair Jerome Powell promises, quote, forceful and rapid action to tame inflation. While he's warning of more economic pain for all of us.

WALKER: Countdown to lift off the highly anticipated mission, launching Monday to get Americans back to the moon.

SANCHEZ: Thank you so much for waking up with us Saturday, August 27th, that means it's the weekend. Doesn't that feel good? We'll get relax.

WALKER: It does feel good.

SANCHEZ: Enjoy breakfast, hanging out with Amara Walker. WALKER: We don't get to enjoy breakfast. What are you talking about?

SANCHEZ: I do. You don't see it, but I'm enjoying.

WALKER: You're having beef turkey? Are you having beef turkey again?

SANCHEZ: Prosciutto this morning. A bit more of fun.

WALKER: Oh Prosciutto.

SANCHEZ: A bit more of fun. Yes.

WALKER: Fancy.


WALKER: All right, we've got a lot of news to get to. We are learning more information from the affidavit authorizing the search a former President Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence. Now the heavily redacted document reveals that classified material found at the estate includes some of the country's most sensitive secrets.

SANCHEZ: According to the filing, the FBI said the search at Mar-a- Lago would likely find evidence of obstruction. It also said authorities had probable cause to believe that classified materials were taken to unauthorized locations within the estate. And the FBI found 184 classified documents and the 15 boxes of material that they retrieved in January.

WALKER: Let's get more details now on what the Mar-a-Lago affidavit reveals. CNN Reporter Marshall Cohen joins us from Washington. Marshall, I know you have been perusing this heavily redacted document. What are some of the takeaways from what we see there?

MARSHALL COHEN, CNN REPORTER: Good morning, guys. Welcome to the weekend. For all those redactions, there was actually a lot of stuff that the Justice Department revealed. You know, don't forget that the DOJ and Attorney General Merrick Garland didn't want any of this to become public. They were arguing last week that none of it should be released. Here we are today looking through a pretty lightly redacted document.

So you mentioned earlier, one of the key paragraphs there, and I'll just read it in full for the audience. It's all about probable cause. And what the FBI believed was at Mar-a-Lago and why they needed a search. Of course, you can't just go, you got to ask a judge for permission. So they said to the judge, quote, "There is probable cause to believe that additional documents contain classified National Defense Information, or that our presidential records that currently remain at Mar-a-Lago." They went on to say that there is also probable cause to believe that evidence of obstruction will be found at Mar-a- Lago.

Now the parts of this affidavit that were about obstruction, that was pretty redacted. I wish we could tell you what was in there, can't, at least right now. But the parts about the classified information, we did learn a lot. And that's where the FBI was making the case to the judge that, look, Your Honor. When we went in January, when the National Archives went in January of this year to Mar-a-Lago to voluntarily get boxes from Donald Trump, they found a ton of classified information in those boxes. And the FBI believed there was more to find.

Specifically, according to this FBI affidavit, those boxes in January that were removed, had 67 confidential documents, 92 that were designated as secret and then 25 top secret going in order from least sensitive to most sensitive. And among those top secret documents, guys, there was stuff that was labeled as part of the programs that are about human intelligence sources. Those are the spies that help our CIA over sees.


There was information about signals intelligence and intercepts that the NSA handles. The government goes to extraordinary lengths to keep that stuff secret. They don't want it just lying around in some unsecured location at a club in Florida. So that's what the case -- that's the case that the FBI was making to the judge. And the rest is history. The judge took that warrant, signed it. He found these sworn statements from the FBI to be credible. And the rest is history.

WALKER: And of course, why is the big question Why were these documents laying around unsecured at this beach club owned by the former President Trump.

Marshall Cohen, great to see you. Thank you.

So joining me now is Nick Akerman, former Assistant Special Watergate Prosecutor and a former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. And Steve Hall, former CIA Chief of Russia operations and a CNN National Security Analyst. Welcome to you both gentlemen.

Let's get straight to these documents. And Steve, I'll start with you. I mean, 184 classified documents that were turned over from Mar-a-Lago in January. As you heard from Marshall, many of them marked as secret or top secret. The filing also notes that the markings would typically signal that there were national defense documents and also, Steve, the fact that these documents were intermixed with newspapers, notes and printed articles. Could there be an innocent explanation, in your opinion, Steve?

STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: You know, I can't think of one. I just can't, I mean, I racked my brain. I can't think of lots of reasons why Donald Trump might decide, OK, I'm going to take this information, whether it's just, you know, I want to keep, you know, a copy of these love letters that I had with the North Koreans, or whether it's other things.

But, you know, when I left service in CIA, you know, I didn't throw a bunch of stuff in a box and just say, I'll sort it out later. This is some of the most sensitive stuff that the U.S. government works with. HCS is the human's classification system -- the human control system, and it basically governs how it is that the U.S. government tries to protect human sources.

Top secret SCI information is more technical collection. But again, these are things that the government works using years and years to develop these sources of information. And the fact that it's handled so loosely, and inappropriately in a nonclassified type of way that we headed Mar-a-Lago, it's a significant question that with regard to how badly U.S. national security has been compromised. Amara?

WALKER: And so, Nick, this is an ongoing active investigation, which has been emphatically stated many times. Do you believe that the investigators will get to the question of why is that the priority, why these documents were laying around in Mar-a-Lago?

NICK AKERMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: Well, I think it all comes down to this issue of concealment that's listed in the affidavit. I mean, I think the big issue here is that would never have been a search warrant issued if the documents had just been turned over. And there hadn't been this concealment. So the obstruction of justice is really the key issue that the government is looking at.

And, of course, the affidavits doesn't give us any details on what that concealment was. But we have some clues, in the fact that there is this long history of, you know, a year and a half or so, where they just Trump and his minions didn't turn things over. They did it piecemeal. A lawyer claim that everything had been turned over, when in fact that hadn't been turned over. And it's pretty clear that that was the sort of the initiating factor that led to this search warrant.

So the real question comes down at the end of the day, who's going to be prosecuted? With respect to Donald Trump, the question is, what knowledge did he have? Did he know that this material was being concealed that he purposely do that? And if he did, he's facing a potential felony here that carries with it 20 years in prison.

WALKER: And, Nick, just to follow up on that, because, you know, the judge said last week, that he was inclined to unseal this affidavit with those redactions in the interest of transparency. Do you believe that was accomplished? Did the unsealing contradict at least Trump's claims of a political witch hunt?

AKERMAN: Oh, absolutely. I mean, it's not just the affidavit itself, but it's the entire process that this judge engaged in, in pretty much one week period of time. I mean, he started off by basically taking these issues of unsealing extremely seriously. A few days later, he issued a 14, 15-page opinion that really laid it out for the public, what the issues were, how the balancing work balancing the government's interest against the public's right to know basically concluding that the government's interests here were paramount.


But he was looking for the least obtrusive way to be able to provide information to the public. And that was by redactions and asked the government to redact it. And they redact it to the point where they didn't jeopardize witnesses, jeopardize investigative techniques or the investigation itself. So the public saw all of this out in the open. They see what's there.

If you look at this affidavit, it's 38 pages, which is extraordinary. I've done lots of search warrants. As a prosecutor, I've done lots as a defense lawyer. 38 pages shows to me that this was a very well thought out declaration. They even put in what Trump would consider exculpatory information from his attorney, who asked that his letter be put into any submission to a federal judge if there was an issue here. So they'd bent over backwards to really put together a affidavit that was bulletproof.

And if the public looks at this, and everyone looks at this, clearly, there was no returns. Clearly, it was not politically motivated. What we have here is a judge who absolutely carried out his function of being a neutral judge to look at the facts and decide that the search warrant was in fact warranted.

WALKER: And clearly there was no evidence that was planted there in Mar-a-Lago, right? So, Steve, another aspect that was not mentioned in the affidavit was the security camera footage at Trump's beach club that was subpoenaed and is being or has been reviewed. But look, there clearly is concern over our national security, right? How might the intelligence community be forced to respond to this knowing that spies or sources, among other information may have fallen into the wrong hands?

HALL: Yes, it's a great question. And, you know, I -- we're correctly -- I think many of us focused on the legal aspect that you were just discussing, I'll leave that to legal experts. But from a national security standpoint, this is a grave consequence. You know, again, this is some of the most sensitive classifications that we have predicting really sensitive programs.

And, you know, if it's mishandled, people end up dead many times, which is why the national -- our national government, the DNI, specifically, the Director of National Intelligence, has been tasked to put together some sort of damage assessment to take a look at these documents and say, OK, if the bad guys, if adversarial countries like China, Russia, North Korea, Iran got access somehow to disinformation, or became aware of it, how badly would that negatively -- how badly would that impact the national security of the United States.

And that's a significant step because it shows that there is concern about those questions, and there should be because we have seen over the past months, attempts that I assess are attempts by foreign governments, foreign adversarial governments to try to penetrate, try to get in to Mar-a-Lago simply because they have -- you got to understand how lacks the security is at that location, which of course, part of it is public, it's a resort.

So, we have seen Chinese nationals show up there, you know, with thumb drives, which could very easily copy information. We've seen most recently, some sort of Ukrainian woman person whose identity hasn't even been clarified yet but scored around a golf with Donald Trump. So the question is to how sensitive and how good the security is around Mar-a-Lago to protect this information, which has not been properly stored is a valid national security question. I think it's not going to be a good answer.

WALKER: It's a fascinating and obviously, quite concerning conversation as well. Nick Akerman and Steve Hall, appreciate you both. Thank you so much.

HALL: Sure.

AKERMAN: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Former President Trump's allies have been dismissing the affidavit that led to the search as politically motivated. CNN's Kristen Holmes has that story.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The reaction from Trump World has fallen into one of three categories. The first one being that public outrage and pushback. And that's where you saw the former President Trump taking to his social media page saying a total and public relations subterfuge by the FBI and the DOJ. And we also heard from many of his allies publicly saying this was political and a witch hunt.

Then you had the second category. And these were Trump allies who went through this. These are people we've been talking to the last several days, who are genuinely concerned that Trump is in legal peril. They are worried about the competence of his legal team. And they're worried that this time is different. And at this time, he doesn't have the same protections that he had when he was in the executive office.

The last category that these were people that I spoke to about five of them, they were former staffers at both the White House and Mar-a-Lago who said that they were not at all surprised. That in these documents that were newspaper clippings and photographs and presidential correspondence were classified documents. Documents that were unmarked, on folders that were in essentially the wrong place.


And they said this is because of Trump's record keeping in the White House and then, again, in Mar-a-Lago, said he was known to walk around and pick stuff up from one box, put it into another that there was no rhyme or reason to it. He would rifle through papers. They also said that he was no to write on some of these documents, even when aides told him not to. He would pick up a piece of paper that was being set aside, and then write notes on it to himself. And so none of this came as a big shock.

Now, another source told me one other example of this and I thought this was a good way to look at the way the system worked, which was Trump would keep some of these records close to him, this way he could show them off. And one of the examples were those love letters, the correspondence with Kim Jong-un. But again, another look at how there was not really a system in place.

And again, this goes to a larger picture here of what they discovered the sheer volume of documents, but this is one part of that, that his former staffers, former aides were not surprised to see. SANCHEZ: Kristen Holmes, thank you so much for that.

Still to come, the Friday freefall stocks plunging after Fed Chair Jerome Powell says Americans can expect more economic pain while the government works to tamp down inflation. We're going to break down his comments and what they mean for markets ahead this hour.

WALKER: Plus, the White House is defending the cost of President Biden's Student Loan Forgiveness Plan and calling out Republicans in the process.



WALKER: President Biden announced this week that his administration will forgive up to $20,000 in student loan debt for millions of Americans.

SANCHEZ: And now the administration is working through the details, including exactly when borrowers are going to see that relief and how much it's going to cost.


KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It's going to be about $24 billion per year. Now, just to give you a little bit of context, that $24 billion a year, that is about 3 percent of what we spent on the military. That's just a tiny, tiny fraction.


SANCHEZ: Let's bring in CNN's White House Reporter Jasmine Wright. She's traveling with the President in Wilmington, Delaware -- Wilmington, Delaware, I should say. Jasmine, good morning. The White House responds to concerns about this plan a bit feisty. They took to Twitter and called out Republicans, right?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, that's right. Look, the White House is taking on the criticism full force here really swatting down accusations that this is a handout for the wealth, really something that we know that was a concern for President Biden, when he came to this decision. And other estimates that this would cost up to a trillion dollars, that was from a Penn Wharton Budget Model analysis that released on Friday. The White House combated that.

They said that there was somewhat speculative and that was the top range, again, citing that $24 billion figure that we just heard from White House Press Secretary Karaine Jean-Pierre, per year. And that's, of course, if 75 percent of folks with loans really opt in. And now that you can see on your screen, again, $24 billion a year. But it goes into this larger idea of the White House is now in the mode of defense really trying to defend the decision to offer the Student Loan Forgiveness to Americans.

Now the other question that the White House is facing is exactly how they're going to implement it. And when folks can start to see some of that relief. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Thursday, she did not give full details. But take a listen to exactly what you said in the White House's framing here.


JEAN-PIERRE: I don't have a timeline for you, that is something that the Department of Education is going to work on. We will see who takes advantage of this. But this is supposed to going to help 43 million people. And just think about it, if people are saving a little bit of money, right, they are going to go buy that house. They're going to start a family. This matters in so many ways.


WRIGHT: So there you heard from the White House really presented the moral argument here of why they should go forward with a Student Loan Forgiveness and how it could be helping Americans. Boris, Amara?

WALKER: You know, and I can tell you, you know, so many people who are saddled with these school loans, you know, have been waiting and waiting to, you know, see what the President's decision would be. It took some time, he was quite indecisive about it. Can you take us through that process?

WRIGHT: Yes. Amara, one Democrat described to CNN as a tortured process, really, as President Biden went back and forth with the decision. Now it relied on a couple of different things. Firstly, his concern over inflation and the impact that would have, we know that that is going to be a major issue for this White House as it has into the midterms. And then, of course, whether or not it would be seen as a really a handout for the wealthy.

Now, you can look on the screen here and see exactly the details that who would be a benefit of it. So that was a major concern for Biden. So the morality of it, the fairness of and, of course, the economic costs of what it would take. Now, of course, there were a lot of people within the White House and out of the White House, really trying to advise the President on this, somebody that was forceful, and their advice for the President was the Vice President Harris.

Of course, other Democrats, including Elizabeth Warren and Chuck Schumer, were also really directly going to the President to say that this is something that the White House should do. And of course, we now have his decision and the White House is now in the position of defending it to others. Amara, Boris?

SANCHEZ: Jasmine Wright in Wilmington, Delaware. Thanks so much, Jasmine.

So as we've alluded to, the response to President Biden's Student Loan Forgiveness Plan has been mixed. Some feel that it's extremely unfair. Others are happy to see relief, and yet others have expressed disappointment urging the White House to do more.

[08:25:00] Joining us now out to discuss is Wisdom Cole, he's an advocate for Student Loan Forgiveness and the NAACP's National Director of the Youth and College Division. Wisdom, we're grateful to have you. Good morning.

You wrote on Twitter that you believe this is not going to be the last debt cancelation we're going to see. Obviously, the NAACP has been in contact with the White House on this. Has the administration signaled that it wants to go further on student loans?

WISDOM COLE, NATIONAL DIRECTOR OF THE NAACP YOUTH & COLLEGE DIVISION: You know, I think this first step in cancelation is a major milestone, right? The fact that millions of borrowers across America are going to see relief instantaneously, is an amazing feat, right? This idea that we can continue to make this a possibility.

What we saw this week was that cancelation is possible for so many -- we consistently said that this was -- this day would never come, that this would never happen. And look what we did. And so, we want to make sure that we're continuing working with the White House to ensure that we're able to find an equitable future for all.

SANCHEZ: So you mentioned this as a first step, what else would you like the Biden administration to do?

COLE: You know, as we look at the repayment programs, it's really important that we work with those who are most marginalized in our communities, recognizing that the impact is going to be disproportionate. And so, we recognize that there are still some hoops and barriers. You know, income caps means testing things of that nature, that exclude a lot of people from the opportunity to see their debt canceled.

Looking at the fact that, you know, black borrowers, on average have $53,000 in student debt. You know, in our campaign, we advocated for the cancelation of 50,000 or more. You know, we recognize that, again, this is furthering the conversation that we've been having. We know that our data shows that if we're able to cancel student debt, we're going to be working towards reducing the racial wealth gap, which our President is committed to making sure that we are working towards seeing racial equity in America.

SANCHEZ: And how about the cost of college because that seems to be an incredibly inefficient system. Tuition keeps going up, that means more people have to borrow more money, often to get degrees that don't wind up paying them enough to offset those loans. So what do you think in the broader system needs to change?

COLE: Right, I think exactly. You know, this fight to cancel student debt is directly tied to the fight in adjustment of the cost of college, right? Over the last decade, the cost of college has grown tremendously. What young people are paying today is not the same as young people in the past. And so I think we really need to take a look at our morals and look at our system in terms of how we value education, what the cost of education is, and how we can make sure that we believe that education is a fundamental right for every person in America.

I know that this fight for many is connected as fight for free college and ensuring that folks are able to see this as the future, because many people who look like me don't even have the opportunity to pursue a degree. And so I think it's very important that we really connect that and to build the dots in terms of what does it look like to change our educational system as a whole.

SANCHEZ: And that is a critically important point. Wisdom, while we have you, I wanted to get your perspective on the response from economists like Larry Summers. He was the Treasury Secretary under former President Obama. He argues that this move is going to increase inflation, that it encourages colleges to increase tuition. I know that was some of the hesitation from the Biden administration that the fear of inflation going up. What's your response to Larry Summers?

COLE: Yes, you know, we know from the data and research that this is actually going to be a step in reducing the racial wealth gap, and also allowing folks opportunity to become homeowners and business owners and have discretionary wealth, building income. And so really, this is an opportunity to help build wealth in America, particularly for those who are low income and really supporting those at that level.

SANCHEZ: Wisdom, we got to leave the conversation there. Wisdom Cole, appreciate you sharing part of your weekend with us. Thanks.

COLE: Thank you so much.

SANCHEZ: Of course.

WALKER: All right. Coming up, the latest flood warnings in Mississippi. Local officials are urging Jackson residents to get ready for more flooding this weekend. We will have the details after this.



SANCHEZ: This morning, ports of the Gulf Coast are bracing for some potentially dangerous flooding in the coming days. National Weather Service officials say the Pearl River which runs through Jackson Mississippi is likely going to reach 34 through 35 feet this weekend, and more rain could lead to flash flooding in the area.

Jackson's mayor says they are expecting waters to start impacting residents by tomorrow evening. Voluntary evacuations are already underway in places that are likely to be affected there.

WALKER: The Dow closed down more than 1.000 points yesterday after comments from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell sent shockwaves through Wall Street. During his speech to investors, Powell warned that coming policies could be painful for Americans as the Fed works to slow the pace of surging U.S. prices.

For more now on this is Austan Goolsbee, the former Chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President Obama. He's also Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Austan, good morning to you. Thank you so much for joining us.


WALKER: I have to say when I heard the word pain, you know, you're going to have to expect some pain in households and businesses. My first question was, well, how much pain should we be bracing ourselves for?

GOOLSBEE: No, I know exactly and like that's the last thing that you want to be dealing with it at this time if you're a business owner. The Fed got a little bit of good news, when the inflation numbers came out, that though the yearly inflation remains elevated the new inflation and the last two months we actually saw deflation. So the -- maybe we're getting past this period of heightened inflation as we get the supply chain problems under control.


But the Fed has absolutely committed that they're going to do whatever it takes to get the inflation rate down. And so that's Matt raising the interest rates. I think what happened with the stock market is they saw the inflation numbers and said, ah, OK, it's going to be fine.

The Fed will stop its rate increases and then chairman Powell gave this speech, in which he said we might not stop, you know, we're full speed ahead. We're going to keep raising the rates to make sure the inflation has gone. And then that disconnect means for pain.

WALKER: So full speed ahead. I guess the question is, how aggressive. And Austan, I'm sure I would be a great student of your if you knew that I read about Paul Volcker. I hate econ, by the way. I was horrible at it.

But it was a fascinating read to, you know, learn about the inflation crisis of the 70s and 80s. And how Volcker, who was the Federal Reserve Chairman under Carter, he aggressively reacted to sky high inflation in the 70s. And I think he spiked interest rates from what, 10 to nearly 20 percent.

But in the long run, it worked. And Jerome Powell is an admirer of Paul Volcker. So what kind of, I guess, cues is he going to be taking from Volcker in terms of how much he's going to be raising the interest rates come September, October, November?

GOOLSBEE: Well, it's an important historical lesson, Paul Volcker was a dear friend and mentor of mine and as he was to Chairman Powell. And hopefully it will not come to that. When Paul Volcker took over as the Fed chair, inflation was totally out of control.

And so, it was the job of whoever came in to stop it. Because he did that, the Fed has a lot of credibility, even decades later, that if the Fed chair says, don't make me do this, don't make me pull the car over, I will do it. The market does believe them.

Hopefully, as I say, this good news that we've been getting for the last couple of months that at least the new months of inflation, are much lower than what they have been, will prevent us from having to raise rates of that nature.

But he raised an important point, which is the Fed has not raised rates this rapidly in many decades. And so, everybody is going to just have to kind of get wrap their heads around that.

And the main thing to be watching are these new months of inflation. If they remain low, then I think people are going to have a sense of relief, and the Fed will probably slow down. But if we start getting monthly inflation numbers, like the ones we saw last year, coming back in, then it could be Paul Volcker and back, you know, off to the races raising rates at a really rapid clip.

WALKER: I mean, instinctively, you don't want the cure to be worse than the disease. How much -- I mean, I guess I'm asking you to look into your crystal ball, right, because I'm asking how much damage we're going to see to the economy before things can actually get better. Is a recession likely or unlikely?

GOOLSBEE: I have been thinking that given these new inflation numbers, improve it, maybe a recession was unlikely. And for sure, we weren't in a recession in the first two quarters of this year, when we were putting up 400,000 or 500,000 new jobs a month. It all hinges on whether we get the supply chains back in order. I feel like maybe we are getting them in order. So it wouldn't have the pain, wouldn't have to last but make no doubt about it.

If the war got worse in Ukraine and the price of energy started to skyrocket again, or we got some new variants of monkeypox or or new dangerous variants of COVID and we go back into that kind of services sector stole like what we had for the COVID times, we would definitely be in recession. And that's that uncertainty is the thing that I think weighs on everybody.

WALKER: Yes, that's quite comforting that there's a lot of factors that are just not in our control. Austan Goolsbee, great to see you from -- live there from Chicago.

GOOLSBEE: Great to see you.

WALKER: Appreciate your time.

SANCHEZ: Ukraine's largest nuclear plant is back online after being disconnected from the power grid. But has a major nuclear disaster been avoided? We're going to take you to Ukraine for a live report just minutes away.



SANCHEZ: Ukrainian officials say that Russian forces are once again shelling the site of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. The plant is now back online and reconnected to Ukraine's power grid after it was disconnected this week for the first time in its history.

WALKER: CNN Sam Kiley joining us now. And Sam, are there any other safety concerns?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There are a number of safety concerns. Yes, Amara. I think the first thing to note is that both Ukraine and the Russians accused one another of shelling the vicinity around the nuclear power station. People we've spoken to who've come from the town near they say that they believe it is the Russians not the Ukrainians this after all is the Ukrainian power plant. But that is the military threat if you like that faces the nuclear power station.


There's also the technical civilian threat. And it was the latter really that rear its ugly head in the last 48 hours.


KILEY (voice-over): Ukraine's biggest nuclear power plant is making history that no one wants to read. It six reactors are the first ever to have fallen into enemy hands, and the first two have the main power source for their cooling systems cut during combat. They're also the first to have triggered the emergency cooling system to avoid a meltdown and a radioactive disaster because of war.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translation): At the diesel generators hadn't turned on loo,k at the automation and our staff on the planet had not reacted after the blackout, then we would already be forced to overcome the consequences of a radiation accident.

KILEY (voice-over): Its only source of mainline electricity from government held territory was cut, the government here says by Russian shelling. Russia captured the plant in March and has been using it as an artillery fire base for a month.

It's been hitting civilian towns west across the Dnipro River. Civilians have been fleeing in Ohoda (ph), the town closest to the plant in fear of war, and of a radioactive disaster brought on by it. Russian troops they said we're ill disciplined and dangerous.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translation): We're trying to keep away from them because it was scary. They walked around with machine guns and who knows what they could do. At night, they would get drunk, shoot in the air. People were scared.

KILEY (voice-over): The power to cool the systems was restored yesterday. And the reactors eventually reconnected to the Ukrainian grid on Friday, supplying up to a fifth of the country's electricity. But Kyiv fears that Russia may cut power to its cooling system again, as part of the alleged plan to steal its output. And that would risk a meltdown. (on-camera): Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is only about 20 miles from where I'm standing. There's a powerful, easily blowing at the moment if there was a disaster there, radioactive material would be carried into the sun and into Europe.

(voice-over): International demands that Russia removes its forces from the plant and allow nuclear inspectors in are increasingly strident. And in Ukraine, nuclear decontamination drills are just another part of war.


KILEY: Now, Boris and Amara, the war does continue. It is a very long front line. The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station is on a southern part of that front line, but it extends all the way round to Kharkiv.

And we've recently -- it's been reported now that the DPR, the breakaway Russian-backed Republic in the east of the country saying that they are going or willing to hand over the remains of the third American killed fighting on the side of the Ukrainians, part of this large number of international volunteers that poured into the country, particularly at the beginning of the war.

We're not naming him, but he has been named by the Moscow authorities. But this is a positive sign in a sense that they're prepared to hand over his remains because they've sentenced to death other foreign volunteers who've been part of the Ukrainian army whom they accused of being mercenaries. Boris, Amara?

SANCHEZ: Sam Kiley live from Zaporizhzhia. Thanks for that update, Sam.

WALKER: Thanks, Sam.

U.S. space exploration is ready to take another giant leap with a new mission to fly to the moon and beyond. The details ahead.



WALKER: Watch parties are popping up all across the country this weekend because we're going back to the moon, Boris, or at least the next step on the way there.

SANCHEZ: Yes, it's been 50 years since the last Apollo mission. But NASA says that on Monday, Artemis 1 is going to eventually help put a person on Mars. CNN's Kristin Fisher has the details.

KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE & DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it has been such a long time since NASA has had one of its own rockets designed to carry astronauts into space. It's been 11 years since the last space shuttle launch 50 years since the last launch of the Apollo program. But now, Apollo's mythological twin sister, Artemis is sitting on the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center just days away from making its first flight. And part of the reason NASA wants to go back to the moon is because this time around, they want to leave a lot more than just flags and footprints. Here's NASA Administrator, Bill Nelson.


BILL NELSON, NASA ADMINISTRATOR: 50 years ago, we went to the moon for a day, a few hours, three days max. Now we're going back to the moon to stay, to live, to learn, to build.


FISHER: And when he says build, he is referring to building a lunar bases on the moon. And part of the reason NASA and the United States want to do that is because China has plans to do that too. But first, the Artemis rocket has to pass this critical test flight. It's going to launch Monday morning.

If all goes according to plan, the rocket is going to separate from the capsule and the capsule will then head to the moon on its own. It will orbit the moon for about two and a half weeks at times getting within just 60 miles from the surface and then it will return to Earth. Test out that all important heat shield before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean.

And the reason that heat shield is so important is because it's designed to protect astronauts who will be inside that capsule, hopefully on future flights. And so if all goes well, those first astronauts will be on Artemis 2 which will likely be in 2024 and will orbit the moon and then the big one, Artemis 3, that is NASA intends to return American astronauts to the moon. But this time, they want to land the first woman and the first person of color.

Kristin Fisher, CNN, Washington.


SANCHEZ: Bow time, if you ask me.


SANCHEZ: Kristin Fisher, thanks so much for that report. And thank you so much for joining us this morning. Amara and I are going to be back just about an hour.

WALKER: Yes, we are. Smerconish up next.