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Tomorrow: Senate Judiciary Committee Votes To Advance Ketanji Brown Jackson's Supreme Court Nomination; Trump Can't Get His Allies To Back David Perdue For GA Gov.; Americans Face Soaring Home, Rent And Construction Costs; Pope Francis Says He Is Considering A Trip Kyiv; California Snowpack Critically Low, Signals Devastating Drought. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired April 03, 2022 - 05:00   ET




BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Good Morning. Welcome to your new day. It's Sunday, April 3rd. I'm Boris Sanchez.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Boris, great to be with you bright and early this Sunday morning. I'm Laura Jarrett in for Christi Paul. A lot to get to this morning. But we begin with a Russian attack on a key port city in Ukraine and new images reflecting the brutality of this Russian invasion.

You can see explosions hitting the Black Sea Port of Odessa. The Russian Ministry of Defense today confirmed a strike on an oil refinery and fuel storage facilities, a CNN team witnessed the aftermath of that strike.

SANCHEZ: Meantime, we're told Ukrainian forces are retaking areas around the capital of Kyiv, and we're getting a closer look at the horrific aftermath of Russia's invasion. And we want to warn you, these images are graphic and they may be disturbing to some. This is coming from the town of Bucha, northwest of Kyiv.

Images show the bodies of at least 20 men civilians laying in the street left behind. Some had their hands tied behind their backs. Bucha's mayor says that they were shot dead by Russian forces. A member of Ukraine's parliament is reacting to these images. Listen.


KIRA RUDIK, UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT MEMBER: I have seen these bodies with my own eyes. I have seen the destruction and this is something that I have never seen before in my life. We will work on fixing the distractions but we cannot possibly return people who were killed. I cannot even imagine like who gave this order and why it was civilian people, they were not military.

(END VIDEO CLIP) JARRETT: A Ukrainian defense official says the Kyiv region has been, quote, liberated from the invader. But Ukraine is bracing for more attacks in the East, as Russia now shifts its strategy. According to U.S. intelligence, this is new CNN reporting, Russia's goal is to take control of the Donbas and other eastern regions by early May.

SANCHEZ: A noticeable shift there, Ukraine meantime still asking for heavy weapons as Russia shifts its focus. The U.S. is expected to help transfer some Soviet era tanks to Ukraine, according to a source familiar with the plan.

Let's get you up to date with the situation on the ground. Our correspondents are following the story from multiple angles.

JARRETT: Yes, that's right. We've got Ed Lavandera in Odessa, Phil Black joins us from the Lviv and Salma Abdelaziz is along the Polish border with Ukraine, covering the refugee crisis. But we start here with Ed Lavandera who is following Russia's attack on that port city of Odessa as we mentioned at the top of the show. Ed, some pretty dramatic images from that attack. Bring us up to speed on what you know so far.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, early this morning, the residents of Odessa were jolted awake with the sounds of multiple missile strikes. This is what it sounded like, this is what it looked like just before sunrise this morning.

Those missile strikes -- struck a fuel storage facility in the city here. We were able to make our way to the scene shortly after the area was a mostly industrial area. There are a number of apartment buildings just across the street. Residents in those apartments say, and we witnessed the windows had been blown out because of the impact and their close proximity to that fuel storage facility.

But you could see there from that video, it was multiple airstrikes. This really did send a shockwave of concern through many of those residents who were just in many cases, one person standing out in their bathrobe, looking at the effects of all this. There were firefighters there in the scene trying to douse the flames. But here from our vantage point now, we can still see that the fire continues to burn at this fuel storage facility.

Military officials here in Odessa say that there were no injuries caused by these missile strikes. And this does seem to align with what Russian forces have been doing over the course of several days in various areas of Ukraine, targeting the storage, fuel storage facilities in various cities.


But here in Odessa, you know, early on, this is the most significant strike the city has seen since the early days of the invasion. And for the most part for the last week it had been relatively quiet. And many residents here in the city have been closely watching what is happening with Russian forces in the north as they retreat and regroup. And there's still a concern here that as Russian forces regroup and refocus on the eastern part of this country, they wonder if Russia's plans still continue to have a city like Odessa in its sights. This is a key port city, a significant city for Ukraine, if they were to lose it in any way, it would essentially mean the country becomes a landlocked country. So the strike here this morning, sending a jolting shiver through people here in the city.

SANCHEZ: It was certainly a focus for the Russians just as of a few weeks ago. We'll see if now with this reassessment of their strategy, it becomes once more it appear so with those strikes. Ed, you and your crew, please stay safe.

Let's turn now to Lviv in western Ukraine. CNN's Phil Black is there for us. Phil, Ukrainians are claiming victory as Russian forces are moving out of areas surrounding Kyiv. Of the situation though, as we saw where Ed was, remains very dangerous for civilians and soldiers alike.

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Boris, there is some pride here, I think among the Ukrainians for forcing the Russians to retreat, to pull back from the north of the country, and particularly given the fact that there is no longer any imminent threat from Russian ground forces to the capital Kyiv. But those feelings are prior to tempered by the sobering expectation of what comes next. And that is the likelihood that these forces that are pulling back will be redeployed and join new specific, targeted offensive operations in the east and the south of the country, likely, especially in what's known as the Donbas region, a large stretch of territory in the east by the Russian border.

The expectation is that Russian forces are going to try advancing there in the east from the north and the south, squeezing and perhaps even cutting off the Ukrainian forces that are defending there at the moment. And the concern is that should Russia establish and consolidate control over more of this territory? It will then dig in, it will fortify its positions to form very strong line of control. And from that position, the Ukrainian sphere, it will be very difficult to dislodge them, especially with the Ukrainian military equipped as it currently is.

And so that is why Ukraine is saying to its Western allies, we need more heavy weapons. Answering that call in part is the move we understand to transfer some Soviet era tanks, the T-72 model, to the Ukrainian military. A U.S. official says the United States will help facilitate this move. It's likely to happen in the next few days. We don't know precisely how many there will be. But the advantage of a Soviet era design such as this is that the Ukrainian military is already familiar with its operation.

JARRETT: All right, Phil Black, thank you for your reporting. As always, stay safe out there.

CNN's Salma Abdelaziz joins us now from near the Polish Ukrainian border. Salma, good morning. Thousands are still fleeing Ukraine cities even at this point through these humanitarian corridors. What are you seeing in Poland this morning?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Absolutely. Laura and Boris, 2.4 million, over 2.4 million refugees are now in Poland. And they come through these crossing points. And one of the main ones is this train station, where I am right up near the border. And they come through here and it's really halfway point.

Oftentimes, we don't even know when the trains are going to come because of the situation on the ground. We have to ask around when is the next train coming in. When they do arrive, I just want you to take a look at what they see. They're going to get in here in this main area, the main doors to the train wheels are over there. You see all these people in high-vis jackets.

As soon as they get word that a train from Ukraine is coming, they show up in this lobby because they want every single family to see a friendly face, to be offered some help as soon as they arrive. You can see there's a reception point over there for people to sign up, get a nice warm cup of tea, have a nice friendly smile speak to them. And that's really the goal here at this train station, because many of these people come and they simply don't know what they're going to do next.

And that's what I'm going to show you over here. This is essentially, this hallway in this train station, is a waiting area. Families get here. Yes, they've escaped war, but their journey is not over yet. They have to figure out where they're going to go next. Where are they going to spend the night?

So they get into this area right here. They sit down, they put their bags down, they only have what they can carry with them, remember. So they might be asking volunteers for diapers, medicines. There's also a medical point down here if they need to be checked out. They specifically have signs for women who are pregnant. There's a first aid unit and an ambulance.

And just outside, you can get a warm cup of soup or a hot meal if that's what you need. And we see people just sleeping here, working the phones, calling friends across Europe, checking on Facebook to see if they can find a place to spend the night.


And it's really quite an extraordinary train station for this setting. It's this 19th century building. There's this beautiful crown molding and golds on the ceilings. And it's just extraordinary to see that, yes, people get out here. They get to safety. But from there, they have to rely on the kindness of strangers for what happens next.

JARRETT: All right, Salma Abdelaziz, thank you for being there and telling these stories. Appreciate it.

Let's get some analysis now with former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker. He's also the former U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations. Good morning. So nice to have you bright and early. I want to start with these new strikes near Odessa that we've been talking about this morning. Explain for our viewers why this is such a strategically important port for Russia and why they want it.

AMBASSADOR KURT VOLKER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NATO: Well, there are several things. And remember, part of this war is Putin's vision of restoring the Russian Empire. And so Odessa was a partially Russian speaking city, part of the former empire of Russia, part of the Soviet Union. So it's a target in that sense.

From a military perspective, it seals off the Black Sea coast so that Russia controls all of Ukraine southern coast, from Donbas, Mariupol, Crimea, Odessa, and all the way across to Romania. So that is important for them to cut off Ukraine that way.

JARRETT: Mr. Ambassador, throughout this last month, we've seen the information war, really crucial here. We have Ukrainians on the one hand, saying they're liberated in cities around Kyiv. It's been a measured response but that's sort of the party line we're hearing.

But then we have Russia saying they're really pulling out forces and sources talking about sort of a shifting strategy. So I want to get your thoughts about that pivot to the east, and what would that actually mean?

VOLKER: Right. Well, first off, I think the Ukrainians are right, that they stopped the Russian offensive, they cut the supply lines, and the Russians have had to pull out. So, in a sense, yes, they've taken back territory, and that takes some of the ground pressure off Kyiv. This does not mean the Russian bombardment will stop.

They can they can launch long range missiles, as we saw with Odessa today that was a missile strike. They can do that in Kyiv, they can attack from aircraft as well. So the pressure is not completely off. But there's no risk of a ground attack at Kyiv at the moment.

Meanwhile, what the Russians are doing is regrouping their forces in the east with a view towards taking all of Luhansk and Donetsk areas, making sure that land bridge to Crimea is completely taken, that means destroying Mariupol. And then claiming that that is some kind of victory. And as the U.S. Intelligence said, that you cited earlier, early May is the timeline for that, because May 9th is Victory Day in Russia. They always celebrate the victory of World War II, it would be a humiliation for Putin to have a failure at the time of that Victory Day parade.

JARRETT: So is it your position that they're going to celebrate in May essentially no matter what, whether or not it will be the victory that Putin wants obviously remains to be seen. But you expect that they will sort of celebrate, in some respect --


JARRETT: -- in early May?

VOLKER: Yes. They will find some way to put a positive gloss on what they've accomplished. And of course, they're denying the Russian people all with the information about the atrocities and the killing of civilians and all the horrendous things that the Russians have done in Ukraine. They will claim that they achieved some kind of victory.

And then let's also remember, just because they do that, doesn't mean they're done. That doesn't mean that we're going to see an end do the fighting, that they'll stop trying to take Kyiv. They're going to regroup and then they're going to look at where their next lines of attack will be.

JARRETT: You know, we've all seen so much carnage already. And as Russian forces pull back from areas around Kyiv, we're likely to see more of the horrors of their occupation --


JARRETT: -- of the cities and towns. How difficult will it be to get an accurate and detailed accounting of any possible war crimes Russia may have committed in this invasion?

VOLKER: Well, people right now, Ukrainians and those from NATO, the West, NATO countries are keeping track of all this. So the records are being made. There'll be documentation done, but there will be no bringing people to justice for war crimes for years. This is something painstakingly done, it goes through the international courts, you know, that will take a long time.

Most important right now, and that this came up earlier in the report too, we have to help Ukrainians win the war. We have to get them the weapons that they need to keep pushing. The Russians are on their back feet. They've lost about a quarter to a third of their fighting force. They're going to have a terrible time until they regroup and resupply. And now is the time to help the Ukrainians push forward as much as possible, try to get the Russians out of the country.

JARRETT: We have new reporting about the U.S. providing more weapons, more more tanks, I believe. Do you think that that is -- that we'll see more of that I guess in the coming weeks?


VOLKER: Yes. We need to see more of that, and I'm very glad to see it. There was the announcement Friday of $300 million that did not include heavy weapons, but did include some more attack drones. Now this announcement about tanks, artillery, that's something that is essential at this stage. And I hope that other NATO Allies join U.S. in doing this.

JARRETT: What more --

VOLKER: And it's got to be a steady flow. We can't do this once and think we're done. We need a sustained process of providing support to Ukraine.

JARRETT: I noticed on Twitter, you saying this is a good thing, you know, obviously, praising that decision from the Biden administration. Do you think just sort of stepping back enough is being done now? And if not, what more should be done? VOLKER: Right. It's not enough until the war is over. It's not enough until we have shortened this war as much as possible. Help Ukraine, win the war, get the Russians out of their country. So we just have to stay focused on going forward.

It is great everything that we're doing now. And we just need to keep pressing forward. I recognize there is an absorption capacity on the Ukrainian side, you -- they can be overwhelmed with how much support they can get. Most important is that we do this on a sustained basis.

JARRETT: All right, Ambassador Volker, thank you so much for being with us this morning. Appreciate it.

VOLKER: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Still ahead, plenty more news from Ukraine. In fact, you'll hear from a Ukrainian fighter pilot. He shares with CNN what he's seeing from the skies while on patrol. He also has a message for the rest of the world amid the ongoing war.

Plus, the Senate soon to take up the nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court this week. How this might all play out and when we can expect the final vote?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was really surprising getting in here and fixing things up. Overwhelming is another way I'd explain it.


SANCHEZ: Overwhelming. Sticker shock before and after buying a home. How the skyrocketing cost of materials is forcing some buyers to get creative when it comes to home improvement. Stay with us, we'll be right back.



JARRETT: As heavy fighting is still expected in the east of Ukraine near Mariupol and in the country south, the Ukrainian presidential adviser is issuing a stark warning that the days ahead will, quote, not be easy. Officials have already stepped up calls in recent days for the U.S. and its allies to deliver more heavy weaponry. While the country waits for more help, Ukrainian armed forces have been seizing empty equipment and transferring it.

At the same time, Ukrainian pilots have so far been able to prevent the Russian Air Force from taking full control of Ukraine's airspace.

SANCHEZ: CNN's Jim Acosta spoke with one Ukrainian Air Force pilot who goes by the call sign Moonfish to protect his identity. He walked us through his journey as he fights for his country and witnesses the devastation that comes along with it.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: On a personal level, what has it been like for you to see that level of destruction from the sky as you try to protect innocent people?

"MOONFISH", UKRAINIAN AIR FORCE PILOT: Well, again, I'll repeat myself, it is heartbreaking. We are being vastly outnumbered by their jets. And they have pulled out from their territory, lots of surface to air missiles. So, and this is basically why those areas for us are unreachable at the moment. And, yes, it's really hard to see that.

ACOSTA: And we were just showing some dramatic footage in one Ukrainian city that is controlled by the Russians. And they're using explosives and all sorts of things to scatter protesters, people who are trying to rise up as part of a resistance. What -- and if there's a way to show some of that footage again, we can talk about it one more time. Here it is.

You know, Moonfish, I'm wondering, would it help if the Ukrainian Air Force, if Ukrainian pilots such as yourself had access to more aircraft? Would you be able to take the fight to the Russians and perhaps prevent some of what we're seeing in some of these areas, take back some of these Russian controlled parts of Ukraine?

"MOONFISH": Oh, yes, definitely. So by obtaining more ground to air defense and fighters, we will be able to keep their bomber jets, fighter jets away from our territory. And thus, we will create better ground for our ground forces so for them to advance and take back control of those cities. And we are -- we were looking forward for that.

ACOSTA: You know, it's been more than a month now into this war. Have you had a chance to think about everything that's happened to your country? What are your thoughts now that, you know, that your country is now a month into this fight doing quite well and the whole world has just been inspired by the courage of the Ukrainians, and people like yourself, but you've seen so much destruction on your end of things, what are your thoughts?

"MOONFISH": Well, I actually have a lot to say about that. I have some message, which is this evil man with the red button and his regime will not stop in Ukraine if this regime and his army will not be defeated here right now in Ukraine. And over a pressure of sanctions over their military defeat on Ukrainian soil is the only way to do that. Because if not, they will continue to -- they will be a threat to the entire world.

And with that said, I think that the most wise thing to do for the rest of the world, for United States, for NATO countries would be to arm our mouths to the teeth so that we can fight them and eventually take back their territories.


I think there -- our victory combined with sanction pressure, they will collapse. That will crush them. And until that happens, us and the entire world will be living in a constant threat.


SANCHEZ: Our thanks to Moonfish for his analysis and his time.

We do have some tragic news to report this morning. Ukrainian photo journalist Maksim Levin was killed by Russian troops, according to Ukraine's Attorney General. Known as Max, he worked for a number of Western outlets including Reuters and the BBC. His body was discovered with two gunshot wounds in an area just north of Kyiv.

One of Levin's friends described him as an energetic and tenacious reporter who often looked like he had no fear. Levin went missing three weeks ago while he was covering the fighting and the fleeing civilians. Reuters, one of the companies he worked for released a statement saying in part that Levin's death is, quote, a huge loss to the world of journalism. Max Levin was 40 years old.

Stay with New Day. We're back after a quick break.


SANCHEZ: We're just about 30 minutes past the hour. Congress is in session this week and lawmakers have long to-do list, including confirming President Biden's historic Supreme Court nominee and approving new COVID relief funds. So let's break down the agenda with --


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: -- long to-do list, including confirming President Biden's historic Supreme Court nominee and approving new COVID relief funds. So let's break down the agenda with CNN Political Commentator, Errol Louis. He is a columnist for New York Magazine, and also host of the "You Decide" podcast. Good morning, Errol, great to have you back. Appreciate you being with us.

Let's start with a confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. Republican Senator Susan Collins this week said that she is a yes, some other Republicans like Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski, they've not yet made their votes known. Are you expecting any more Republicans are going across the aisle?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That may or may not -- good morning, Boris. That may or may not happen. But the polling suggests that there's actually a sizable amount of Republican base voters who actually want to see this go through. So for people like Murkowski or like Senator Romney, it should be a fairly easy choice. I'd be surprised if one or more of them didn't come along, because this is not something that is controversial.

But to the extent that you're going to see any fireworks this week, Boris, I think it'll be basically those senators who are auditioning for the Republican nomination for president in 2024, there'll be talking past this process and try to appeal to a relatively narrow slice of the Republican base. But other than that, I think the nomination goes through pretty easily.

SANCHEZ: The Josh Hawleys and Ted Cruzs of the world, staying on the Senate side. Senators finally struck a deal on a $10 billion COVID relief package late last week. The previous attempt to pass COVID relief funds fell apart because some House Democrats disagreed on how it should be paid for. Where are you putting the odds that this deal, the new one makes it to President Biden's desk?

LOUIS: I'd say it's actually fairly high in part because there's some elements of it that can be just repurposed. There's some funding that wasn't used that then came back to the Treasury, if the Democrats can figure out how to make clear that that's what they're trying to do is repurpose some existing funding, it'll save them some of the headaches of trying to come up with a new revenue source for much needed assistance.

There are, you know, any number of variants that are attacking the American people or are about to, as surely something has to be done. So I'd be surprised if they couldn't figure out some way to do it. Again, I think the most likely way is to say, well, there was some funding for some other programs, it didn't really work out, we recaptured the money. That's what's going to pay for the the new line of defense against the upcoming variants.

SANCHEZ: I do want to get into question about assistance aid going to Ukraine. There have been several waves of aid headed that direction, several $100 million announced just this last week. So far, the American public appears to support this kind of effort. But if the conflict in Ukraine, if the Russian invasion continues to drag on for months and months, especially going to midterm election season, and we're facing high gas prices and high inflation, do you see a point at which the American people reassess the expansive support that the United States is providing Ukraine?

LOUIS: I don't think so, Boris, and here's why. Most of the aid, that most of the immediate aid could, in fact, be coming from the Pentagon. You know, if this is conceived of as a security threat, as a matter of making sure that the NATO alliance is strong, and that the national security is defended, you have virtually unlimited money in the defense budget. And so, I don't think there'll be much notice, frankly, among most Americans about whether or not we're spending a whole lot of money.

When it comes to the gas prices and the other after effects of Vladimir Putin well, that's something that nobody can control. And with or without a, if one of the largest oil and gas producers and one of the largest, you know, wheat producers continues to be in a posture where they're not going to be part of the world market, well, there's nothing anybody can do about that. And I don't think aid is going to figure into the calculation there.

SANCHEZ: Errol, I do want to get a question in about former President Trump, the strength of his endorsement is facing a series of tests next month. Some of his preferred candidates are struggling, including former Senator David Perdue, running for governor of Georgia against Brian Kemp, somebody who, let's be honest here, Trump hates, how much stock do you put into Trump's endorsement at this point? What does it say about his standing in politics in the GOP if they don't win?

LOUIS: Well, yes, there's other stuff going on in Georgia as well. The Herschel Walker candidacy for Senate. You know, there's a -- an increasingly bitter Republican primary there as well. Look, I think like anybody else who makes endorsements, any other political figure, you got to pick winners.

You know, I will say one thing about the former president is if it looks -- coming down the stretch --if it looks like you're going to lose, that endorsement might go away or even be rescinded or flip to the other side. So I don't think we need to worry about whether or not he's going to end up in the winner's circle.


Donald Trump does not stand by people who are likely to lose. He can read the polls just like the rest of us.

SANCHEZ: Only a few seconds left there. I wanted to get your reaction to Sarah Palin announcing that she's going to run for Congress.

LOUIS: Well, that should be very interesting. Look, there are a number of people in the modern age we've seen who can run just based on pure star appeal. She can raise unlimited amounts of money. She is 100 percent name recognition. I wouldn't count her out at all.

I think the more interesting question is, what will she do in Congress? Should she arrive if the Republicans have the majority in particular? She would actually be on a pretty fast track to leadership. And that could be really sort of interesting. Troubling from one point of view.

SANCHEZ: Perhaps for Kevin McCarthy, maybe another headache for him. Errol Louis, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it as always.

LOUIS: Thanks, Boris.

JARRETT: Still ahead, the dream of buying a home is becoming even harder to reach for some, but those thinking, they can save money buying a fixer-upper are learning it's not always the case. That story next.


JARRETT: Alaska Airlines has canceled dozens of flights this weekend over staffing issues as its pilots walked out and took the picket lines in several major cities. This is all because of this long running dispute over contract negotiations, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Yes, and it's affecting travelers, Laura. More than 12,000 customers have been affected, nearly 200 flights having to be canceled by the airlines so far. That's according to the flight tracking website FlightAware.

Meantime, across the country, Americans are struggling to keep up with rising home prices. For many, it means buying new or building is simply out of reach.

[05:40:03] JARRETT: So now some buyers are turning to fixer-uppers only to find different challenges when it comes to costs. CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich has more on this story.


ALLISON BRAUN, FIRST-TIME HOMEBUYER: This was nothing as I expected purchasing my first home.

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS & POLITICS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Allison Braun bought her first home in February. After losing bidding wars and paying $75,000 over budget, she settled on a fixer-upper expecting to save some money.

BRAUN: It was really surprising getting in here and fixing things up. Overwhelming is another way I'd explain it.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): Rents are up a record 17 percent in the last year, with home prices up nearly 20 percent. And so are construction costs. Braun, who works for the real estate company Redfin, is redoing nearly every space in her home. The kitchen needed new counters.

BRAUN: And we were really surprised by the cost, especially the labor, to put them in. We wanted to figure out a way of how we can do our countertops on our own and save cost and labor. So the concrete countertops were born.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): She saved $3,300 by doing them with her partner. She tried the same with her floors, but underestimated how much she would need and the rapidly rising cost of lumber.

BRAUN: We didn't estimate enough wood for the first floor, and we went back to buy more wood for the flooring. And it ended up that after a month's time, the flooring went up about 25 cents per square foot.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): But it's not just homeowners getting stuck with higher costs. Construction materials are up 24 percent in the last year.

Bill McGrath's company is installing elevators in this new residential housing complex in New Jersey. So far, they've put in two.

(on-camera): What are the materials in this elevator that you have seen an increase on?

BILL MCGRATH, ELEVATOR INSTALLER: Well, right here you have the electronics, which this is a stainless steel. You have the plastics, the electronic boards behind it, that's cost and more. The ceilings, wood, you're standing on lumber. There's steel underneath. YURKEVICH (on-camera): And it's all of it going up?


YURKEVICH (voice-over): Supply chain slowdowns and demand have pushed construction costs up, forcing projects to come in over budget and over deadline. (on-camera): How much more is this elevator going to cost than the one we just saw?

MCGRATH: We're at, right this one here is going to cost 17 percent more material cost than the other two that would complete it.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): And he says his 18-person company is spending more on gas to bring materials in up 24 percent in the last month. All of these rising costs will get passed down.

(on-camera): Where's the end?

MCGRATH: I guess the people that will be living here.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): For Braun, the higher cost means accepting things like painting the outside of the house, gets put on hold.

BRAUN: That we'd love to get hire somebody to do that. That's been put on the backburner now, and we're just going to have to learn to love the green.


YURKEVICH: Americans are feeling the impact of inflation in nearly every way and they're concerned. People are wondering, when are they going to start to see some relief? Bill McGrath, the elevator installer who you heard from says that he thinks it's going to get worse before it gets better. And that's why the Federal Reserve is stepping in to raise interest rates over the course of this year to stop people from spending and to cool down prices. But when you raise interest rates, mortgage rates also go up and that may be stopping some people from buying homes they've always wanted.

Laura, Boris?

JARRETT: All right, Vanessa, thank you for that report.

Coming up next hour, we're going to dig in deeper into the housing market. We're going to be joined by an economist from for a look at just how high he expects more mortgage rates to go and what's fueling the climb.

SANCHEZ: Also next, Pope Francis is doubling down on his criticism of the war in Ukraine as he works to visit the war torn country.


[05:47:50] JARRETT: As Ukrainian cities continue to be bombarded with shelling from Russian forces, Pope Francis now says he is considering a trip to Kyiv. If he made the trip, the 85-year-old pontiff would be the most high profile world leader to visit the war torn countries since Russia's invasion more than a month ago.

Here with me now is Vatican Correspondent for The National Catholic Reporter, Christopher White. Christopher, so nice to have you this morning. Ukrainian President -- great to have you. Ukrainian President Zelenskyy and Kyiv's mayor have both now invited the Pope to visit the capital. How likely is it that he makes this trip?

CHRISTOPHER WHITE, VATICAN CORRESPONDENT, NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER: Well, the Pope told us reporters yesterday that it's on the table. You know, it's worth noting that he hasn't hesitated from venturing into war torn countries in the past. In 2015, he went to the Central African Republic at a time when a lot of people were advising him against it. His sort of MO (ph) is to be close to people who are suffering.

And so I think this is something that's very much on his heart and in his mind. And if the logistics worked out, I think we're going to be seeing the Pope point to Kyiv.

JARRETT: What message do you think it would send to the international community at large if he did make such a visit?

WHITE: Well, we saw, you know, just a few weeks ago when the European leaders went, the three presidents and prime ministers, that it was a real show of solidarity. And this is something that, you know, the Pope is all about. He's -- the Pope of encounter, the Pope of being close to those who are in need.

And so both President Zelenskyy, the Mayor of Kyiv had said, you know, you may be the only chance of stopping the violence. So your physical presence here would be a great signal. So, you know, I think this is something that, you know, is a tantalizing opportunity for Pope Francis.

JARRETT: So, in his speech yesterday, he came the closest he has yet really to implicitly criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin. He talked about, quote, national interest. He talked about someone being caught up in anachronistic claims. How significant is it for him to use this type of language against Putin, even if he doesn't name him directly?

WHITE: So the Vatican historically has taken a pretty, you know, neutral diplomatic approach to this because they've always said that they wanted to leave room to be a negotiator if called upon by both Ukraine and Russia to sort of broker some peace deal.


But what we've seen over the past month is a real escalation of rhetoric from the Pope. And yesterday was his strongest language to date. He didn't mince words. He, you know, labeled it infantile and childishness. So very pointed direction, again, not naming Putin, but making it very clear that who he was talking about,

JARRETT: You know, he also talked about this sort of being a litmus test for evangelicals and sort of, it shows to the extent to which the church is truly evangelical. Do you think a move like this causes countries with the Catholic roots that look to the Pope for guidance, to maybe change their own stance towards this war?

WHITE: Yes, I mean, one of the things the Pope is really encouraging Christians and in all people of goodwill right now to do is to sort of welcome refugees. You know, there are about 10 million displaced persons from Ukraine, over 4 million that have fled the country. And this is something that Pope is saying, you know, everyday people can do as an act of solidarity.

And I think in doing that, his thinking is that by sort of encountering the person by seeing the face of those fleeing war, it's a way of sort of shaping their hearts and minds and perspective on what's actually happening and the realities on the ground there.

JARRETT: What was his disposition like on the plane? Since you were there, I just wonder, sort of what was the feeling like?

WHITE: Well, you know, the Pope has been having tremendous knee pain in recent weeks. And in fact, yesterday was his 36 international trip abroad. And it was the first time he didn't go up or come down from the plane via elevator. He was taken up and down and a lift.

And one of the reporters said to him, you know, how much is your knee pain hurting right now? And he said, not nearly as much as the pain in my heart thinking about what's going on in the world. So we saw the Pope in great form yesterday. He was making jokes and very gregarious and -- but can time and time again, he's sort of pivoted back to Ukraine, even though he's here in Malta, to show this is where his attention is, at the moment.

You know, he made this trip in Malta to spotlight migration here in -- on the island of Malta, but it's taken a much broader focus now.

JARRETT: All right, Christopher White, thank you so much for your perspective. Appreciate your reporting on this.

SANCHEZ: Lack of snow could spell trouble for those on the West Coast. There's a key indicator that has officials worried. We'll break it down for you next.



JARRETT: America's most populous state is already experiencing its driest year in nearly a century and evidence shows this devastating dry spell maybe actually getting worse, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Yes, Laura. A new survey reveals its snowpack in the California Sierra this winter is at 38 percent of its usual average. CNN's Stephanie Elam has more.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains, a winter wonderland where people come to enjoy the snow, but this is taking the fun out of it. In California's last snowpack survey of the wet season, just 2.5 inches of snow were measured, containing the equivalent of only 1 inch of water. That's a mere 4 percent of the April 1st average. Most of the seven readings here were on dirt and grass.

SEAN DE GUZMAN, CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF WATER RESOURCES: As of April 1st where we should be in terms of our snowpack, we should be standing on roughly 5 feet of snow. So my feet should be roughly right here.

ELAM (voice-over): Think of the snowpack as a frozen reservoir. The state says it's responsible for about 30 percent of California's water, including drinking water.

(on-camera): It's a beautiful day out here, but that's actually part of the problem. These rushing waters is because the snowpack is already melting. But not all of this water is going to make it to California's reservoirs, which are already low.

DE GUZMAN: We could be losing it down into the groundwater down into the soil so that would also help replenish the groundwater. But at the same time, we could lose some through evaporation.

ELAM (voice-over): Winter in California started off wet, but hopes of a drought busting rainy season quickly dried up. By March, the state had notched the driest first three months of a year in its recorded history.

DE GUZMAN: Some would consider this a wake-up call. I disagree. The alarms already gone off. Climate change is here and it's been here across the American West.

ELAM (voice-over): According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, more of Northern California sank into extreme drought, so to parts of Utah and New Mexico. Even worse, parts of Oregon and Nevada are in exceptional drought.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): We are encouraging people to do common sense things.

ELAM (voice-over): Last summer, California Governor Gavin Newsom called on residents to cut their water consumption.

NEWSOM: A 15 percent voluntary reduction, not only on residences, but industrial commercial operations and agricultural operations.

ELAM (voice-over): Now the governor is urging local leaders to institute bans on watering grass, near commercial and industrial buildings. But for residential areas, no mandatory cuts for now.

KARLA NEMETH, DIRECTOR, CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF WATER RESOURCES: We may really see some mandatory watering -- water restrictions in place by the summertime.


ELAM: And Secretary Crowfoot also pointed out that the likelihood of its returning to those reliably wet winters like we had 50 or 100 years ago in California is just not something we should bank on. In fact, he says it's imperative that Californians and people throughout the West change their relationship with water and start to conserve more.

Laura and Boris?

SANCHEZ: Thanks to Stephanie Elam for that report. The next hour of New Day starts right now.

JARRETT: Good morning, everyone. It is Sunday, April 3rd. I'm Laura Jarrett in for Christi Paul this morning.

SANCHEZ: A pleasure to be with you as always, Laura. Thanks so much for joining us. I'm Boris Sanchez. We appreciate you starting your weekend with us.

JARRETT: We begin this morning with a Russian attack on a key port city in Ukraine. And new images reflecting the brutality, the true brutality of this Russian invasion. You can see explosions hitting the Black Sea port city of Odessa. The Russian Ministry of Defense today confirmed a strike on an oil refinery and fuel storage facilities there.

SANCHEZ: As Ukrainian forces retake areas around the capital of Kyiv, we're getting a closer look at the horrific aftermath of Russia's invasion. And we should warn you, some of the images we're about to display are graphic and may be disturbing to viewers. These are images from the AFP and they show the bodies of at least 20 men all civilians laying in the street in the town of Bucha, some with their hands tied behind their backs.

The town's mayor says these men were shot dead --