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New Day Sunday

Pelosi Meets With Zelenskyy During Unannounced Visit To Kyiv; Civilian Evacuation From Mariupol Steel Plant Begin; Pelosi: "Our Commitment Is To Be There For You Until The Fight Is Done"; Angelina Jolie Makes Unexpected Trip To Ukraine; Biden Becomes First President To Address White House Correspondents Dinner In Six Years; Biden To Attend Memorial For Former Vice President Walter Mondale; "Stanley Tucci: Searching For Italy" Tonight At 9:00 P.M.; One Dead, At Least Five Injured In Shooting At Mississippi Mudbug Festival; Manhunt Underway For Missing Inmate And Alabama Corrections Officer; CA Firefighter Leads Volunteer Search And Rescue Efforts In Ukraine; Biden Taking "Hard Look" At Student Loan Debt, But "Not Considering" Forgiving $50K Per Borrower; Country Music Star Naomi Judd Dies At 76. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired May 01, 2022 - 06:00   ET



AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. It is Sunday, May 1st. I'm Amara Walker in today for Boris Sanchez.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: The first day of May at long last. I'm Laura Jarrett in for Christi Paul. Thank you so much for starting your Sunday with us.

WALKER: And we begin with breaking news this morning and a high level show of support from the U.S. to Ukraine.

JARRETT: Yes, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led the first official U.S. delegation to Ukraine since the war began. Her visit makes -- marks the highest ranking U.S. official to go there since Russia invaded. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says the visit is an important sign of the U.S. commitment to Ukraine. In a news conference, Speaker Pelosi underscored the message behind the visit.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), HOUSE SPEAKER: Our discussion centered around the subjects at hand, as you would suspect, security, humanitarian assistance, economic assistance, and eventually rebuilding when victory is won. We are proud to convey to him a message of unity from the Congress of the United States, a message of appreciation from the American people for his leadership, and admiration to the people of Ukraine.


WALKER: We're also following new developments on what is left of that steel plant in Mariupol. Evacuation efforts are under way. We will have the latest coming up in a live report.

JARRETT: But first, we want to get more on Speaker Pelosi's congressional delegation and that meeting with President Zelenskyy. CNN correspondent Matt Rivers has the details.

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Laura and Amara, it has been about a week now since the last time a senior delegation came here to Kyiv from the United States to meet with President Zelenskyy and his administration. Last week, of course, it was Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

This week it is a U.S. Congressional delegation that was led by none other than Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. She was joined by several other senior members of Congress.

This was an unannounced visit that we found out about from a tweet from President Zelenskyy. President Zelenskyy putting out a video of this meeting where you can see him greeting Speaker of the House Pelosi as well as these other members of Congress who joined her.

Zelenskyy, in a meeting, thanking Pelosi for what he called the United States' strong support for Ukraine in its fight against Russia, calling the United States a -- quote -- "Leader in the effort to support Ukraine."

Meanwhile, in that meeting we heard from Speaker Pelosi herself. Here is a little bit of what she had to say.


PELOSI: We believe that we are visiting you to say thank you for your fight for freedom. That we are on a frontier of freedom and that your fight is a fight for everyone. And so our commitment is to be there for you until the fight is done.


RIVERS: And so that is Speaker Pelosi just continuing with the same showing of public support that you heard recently from President Biden. Remember, it was just a few days ago that Biden requested some $33 billion in additional aid from Congress.

That funding would go towards a mixture of humanitarian aid as well as the kind of heavy weaponry that Ukraine has been asking for for a long time that it says it desperately needs in its continued fight against Russia all over this country.

Pelosi, of course, would play a major role in getting that request through Congress, getting it turned into a legislative package, that President Biden could sign and they could send that kind of aid and weaponry here to Ukraine as President Zelenskyy is hoping for.

Interestingly, this trip did follow the kind of security norms that we're used to with these high level VIP trips to areas with a security risk. This announcement of her visit coming after the meeting was over, which is generally what we see in these kinds of visits.

Of course, that didn't happen last week when Secretary of State Blinken and Secretary of Defense Austin came here. President Zelenskyy actually announced their visit before they arrived, but this time that not being the case.

Both sides announcing the visit after it had already concluded, with Speaker of the House Pelosi saying that this congressional delegation will continue their trip in Poland where they are expected to meet with that country's president. Laura, Amara.

JARRETT: All right. Matt Rivers, thank you for that. A Ukrainian commander says a new round of evacuations has begun at that steel plant in Mariupol where hundreds of civilians have been trapped for weeks.

We're getting new ground level images that show just the devastation. Look at that. Many of the buildings in this sprawling complex have been reduced to rubble by Russian missiles.

WALKER: Correspondent Isa Soares joining us now from Lviv with the latest. And we know, Isa, that hundreds of people were trapped deep down inside that basement, some as young as I believe it was 4 months old.


What do we know about how they are doing? Did they survive? And what is the latest on the evacuation efforts?

ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Amara. And good morning, Laura.

The situation as we have been reporting on for several weeks now inside the Azovstal steel plant is incredibly dire. But what we received, what we heard of yesterday was a small breakthrough, a glimmer of hope if you can call it that.

We have heard from the Azovstal commander inside the Azovstal steel plant, it is a very large complex as you look at there on your screen. It makes about 25 percent of the whole city of Mariupol. And what he said is that that evacuation took place yesterday, where 20 civilians, mostly women and children, were evacuated.

Now, in terms of their whereabouts, if they made it to Zaporizhzhia and what condition, how they're feeling, how they're doing, we do not know -- we do not have the details. But, of course, a glimmer of hope for those families and for those people who have been in there for more than two months now.

And we know the conditions are dire. We know -- I've been speaking to those inside the steel plant and I've been speaking to the CEO of the steel plant, and he told me that they had water and they had food for about two weeks or so inside that complex. And so -- and they have been there for 50 plus days without any sunlight, and running desperately running out of food. We have also seen intense shelling. We have seen the Russians have been circling Mariupol and encircling that steel plant, really battering the plant in the last few days. In fact, we have got satellite images that really gives you a sense of just how much force they have thrown at the steel plant itself, leaving really those inside struggling to deal with some of the injuries.

We know there are about 600 or so soldiers, that's coming directly from one of Ukrainian soldiers inside that steel plant. They are wounded, 600 of them. And they are hoping, Amara, they are really hoping that as part of the evacuation plan, that the soldiers can also come out and also be part of this.

But an MP talking to me in the last few hours said, look, while this is part of the plan, it hasn't been agreed upon. And so we do not know what's going to happen to those soldiers that have been wounded. As well as we don't know what will happen to those who will stay inside. Will they surrender? Or will they stay inside?

Finally, let me give you a sense. This is just a small fraction of what we are hearing. A thousand people inside a steel plant, 100 plus thousand in the city of Mariupol hoping to get out, hoping for evacuation which we haven't had for days.

And in the last few hours, this is what we've heard from the city council directly. I want to read it out to you. "In two years," he says, "Nazis killed 10,000 civilians in Mariupol. And the Russian occupiers killed over 20,000 Mariupol residents in two months."

So this is what we are hearing directly from the mayor of Mariupol. Of course, 100,000 stuck inside Mariupol. We're hoping, waiting for a way out -- Amara.

WALKER: I'm so glad you're, you know, keeping on that, that they're still so many people stuck inside that city. And, of course, the steel plant, the last Ukrainian holdout in Mariupol. Of course, we'll stay on top of that. Isa Soares, thank you so much.

Well, military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine could be at risk of being bogged down in the immigration bill on Capitol Hill. But it is a delay Ukraine can hardly afford as you would imagine. Our next guest writes this.

"This is a war with sledgehammers. Ukrainians can't retake cities in the east and south without massive support -- far beyond the paltry aid the allies have supplied to donate" -- "to date" -- excuse me. "Having conceded control of the air, the odds of Ukraine taking back the cities held by the Russians are low, and approach zero without massive artillery.

Ukraine doesn't have the weapons or stockpiles of munitions for the slugfest that has begun. The U.S. and NATO must" -- provide -- urgently -- "$40 billion in military aid, not $4 billion."

And as we know, President Biden is requesting an additional $33 billion in aid, much of it to the military. Joining me now is Bing West, former assistant secretary of defense under President Reagan. He's also co-author of "Call Sign Chaos."

Good morning to you, sir. Let's go straight to it because you're calling on NATO allies to send much more heavy equipment into Ukraine. We know that this war, especially in key areas, like the Donbas region, is coming down to logistics, right, and how quickly the Ukrainians are going to be able to receive these shipments and then turn them around and use them.

But look, we have seen consistent attacks on Ukraine's supply lines and its infrastructure, like ports, airports and train stations. Are you concerned about how those attacks might interrupt the flow of weapons and the momentum for the Ukrainians?

BING WEST, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Positively. We're into a war now that is like World War I. And I don't think people have yet grasped how big this is going to be. We're talking about 100 million pounds of high explosives being used inside Ukraine by Russia and the Ukrainians.


It's -- it's going to be a slugfest. And if Russia can cut the logistics, then Russia can prevail. But the Ukrainians have shown that they're very clever about pulling off different ways of getting the shells there. So the real issue becomes whether the rest of the united -- the rest of NATO helps the way the United States is. The United States is doing a great job. Germany and the others, not so much.

WALKER: Well, Germany did recently relent and now they have decided to send in, you know, heavy weapons. But -- the west is realizing that -- to use your word, it's going to be a long drawn out slugfest, right? I mean, does that change the nature of how NATO allies will have to support Ukraine from here on out?

WEST: It certainly does. It means that they're going to have to recognize that this war could go on, say at least for another year. I mean, we don't know when it will end. But all along the border, it's going to be extremely heavy and the number of refugees coming into Europe is going to be stunning.

So we're just really at the start of this. And right now everyone's in favor of Ukraine. I hope we can continue to have that kind of solidarity.

But all the roads point back in my judgment toward Germany. Because Germany is giving more money to Russia that we're fighting than they're giving by far to Ukraine. So Germany really isn't standing up yet. And they're going to come under more pressure with more refugees.

So how Europe responds is going to be critical. The United States is standing strong. Good for the United States. Now I want to see if Europe will stand as strong.

WALKER: Are you concerned that we might see a fracture in the NATO alliance if and when Putin decides to potentially cut off the natural gas supply line to Germany as it just did this past week in Poland and Bulgaria?

WEST: That would be a very telling issue if that happened. That would be very telling.

I don't know how Germany would respond to that. Let's hope we don't find out. But it's bizarre that Germany is giving so much money to Russia every single day for the natural gas that they're helping Russia fight the war. It's a bizarre situation.

WALKER: Well, we're going to have to leave it there. Bing West, appreciate the conversation. Thanks so much.

WEST: Thank you.

WALKER: Well, actress and activist Angelina Jolie made an unexpected visit to Ukraine Saturday. She visited a boarding school and medical institution in Lviv, and also met with children that were hurt by a Russian missile strike on a train station that was helping people flee to safety.

JARRETT: That's right. A Ukrainian journalist says she was on a coffee run when she spotted Jolie at a coffee shop. Jolie is a special envoy for the U.N.'s refugee agency. But a spokeswoman says that her travels to the country are -- quote -- "personal."

WALKER: President Biden proved he was a good sport last night at the White House Correspondents' Dinner by acknowledging his recent poll numbers.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm really excited to be here tonight with the only group of Americans with a lower approval rating than I have.


WALKER: A little jab at the media. We'll bring you the best zingers and serious moments as well ahead this hour.

JARRETT: And later, the world of country music is mourning the loss of one of its legendary voices. We'll look at the life of Naomi Judd and the mark she made on the entertainment industry.



WALKER: The Washington press corps, top U.S. officials and Hollywood celebrities gathered for the first time since 2019 last night for the White House Correspondents' Dinner.

The night was filled with laughs, but also with moments of gravity. Host Trevor Noah reminded the audience what their colleagues in Ukraine are experiencing right now.


TREVOR NOAH, HOST OF "THE DAILY SHOW": Journalists are risking and even losing their lives to show the world what's really happening. You realize how amazing it is, like, in America, you have the right to seek the truth and speak the truth even if it makes people in power uncomfortable.

I stood here tonight and I made fun of the president of the United States and I'm going to be fine. I'm going to be fine, right?


JARRETT: CNN's Priscilla Alvarez is here with us now. Priscilla, good morning. President Biden very self-deprecating, also plenty of jabs at the GOP, but he also struck a really serious note about press freedom.

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN REPORTER: Well, as you heard there, the overarching theme of the night was democracy and freedom of the press. But Biden certainly packed in his jokes.

He took a swipe at the Republican Party at the start, going after his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, as well as Kevin McCarthy. Take a listen.


BIDEN: This is the first time the president has attended this dinner in six years. It's understandable. We had a horrible plague, followed by two years of COVID. I'm not really here to roast the GOP. That's not my style.


Besides, there is nothing I can say about the GOP that Kevin McCarthy hasn't already put on tape.


ALVAREZ: But it wasn't just the GOP, Biden also acknowledged that there is also been pushback by Democrats. And he said that he would sort out partisan gridlock in his second term in office. Biden also took -- or poked fun at his age.

And he said that he remembered being at the first annual dinner in 1924. Now, of course, that's not the case, but it was notable that he was the first president in six years to attend the White House Correspondents' Dinner, and that in and of itself received applause given world events and crackdown on journalists across the world.

And that was really what the night summed up to be. It was a little bit of normalcy in what has been a long pandemic and a difficult year. And Biden had fun with that yesterday as did Trevor Noah.

WALKER: Yes, he had me there for a quick second when he said 1924. I had to do the math, and I was, like, wait, it doesn't add up. So we know, Priscilla, the president is speaking today at a memorial service for former Vice President Walter Mondale. What do we expect from that?

ALVAREZ: Well, he'll likely recall him as a dear friend and mentor. That's what he said when he passed away last year. Now recall Walter Mondale served as vice president during -- for then President Jimmy Carter. And he died last year at the age of 93. At the time President Biden said he was one of the first people to greet him in the Senate. And Biden said that Mondale defined vice presidency as a full partnership.

We'll likely hear more about that today. And then later today he'll also return and head to Alabama later in the week.

WALKER: All right. Priscilla Alvarez, thank you so much.

JARRETT: All right. And now a quick reminder for you, the second season of "STANLEY TUCCI: SEARCHING FOR ITALY" premieres tonight. Here's a preview.


STANLEY TUCCI, CNN HOST, "STANLEY TUCCI, SEARCHING FOR ITALY" (voice- over): I had no idea we'd start with a lake full of sitting ducks. Actually, they're wooden decoys and they'll encourage the real thing to drop by.

(on camera): So me. In here? OK.

(voice-over): My host, Oliver Martini, aptly named, is by day a top businessman. In the past, he might have made doge.

OLIVER MARTINI, BUSINESSMAN: Now the autumn is particular because many ducks arrive from the north. And they stay here until March.

TUCCI (on camera): There's thousands of them.

MARTINI: Yes. OK. Now we try to catch some. Otherwise you don't eat.

TUCCI (voice-over): Most of the ducks are mallards and so numerous they're officially listed as unendangered. Obviously, these particular specimens are in quite a lot of danger.


JARRETT: You can watch the brand-new episode tonight at 9:00 p.m. right here on CNN.



JARRETT: Investigators say one person was killed and at least five others injured in a shooting at a music festival in Mississippi. WALKER: Yes. The shooting happened last night at the Mudbug Music Festival in Jackson. Authorities say around 10:00 p.m., two or three people in the crowd began shooting at each other. Four people were taken to the hospital where they are in now stable condition. Authorities believe the person killed was shot by an officer and may have been one of the shooters.


SHERIFF TYREE JONES, HINDS COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI: I think that it is a very coward and very selfish act on behalf of those that are involved to involve so many innocent people, innocent lives, that are here again to enjoy themselves and have fun here on the fairground.


WALKER: Two people, both underage, were taken in for questioning and several weapons were found at the scene.

Right now a manhunt is under way for a corrections officer and an inmate charged with capital murder. The two were last seen on Friday morning after veteran officer Vicki White was supposed to be driving the inmate to court for a mental evaluation.

JARRETT: Officials say the pair never made it there. And, get this, it turns out there was never a health evaluation even scheduled. The local county sheriff says Officer White is likely in danger. CNN's Nadia Romero has the details on this case.

NADIA ROMERO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Laura and Amara, the search continues for Corrections Officer Vicki White and inmate Casey White, who both disappeared on Friday. Now, the inmate and the corrections officer are not related, according to Lauderdale County sheriff's office. That sheriff's office along with the FBI both working on the case.

So let's start with 38-year-old Casey White. You see him here with two very distinctive looks, right, one with the shaven head, no facial hair, and a more recent picture of him with hair and a beard. You'll also notice he's 6'9" tall. That means he should stick out in almost any crowd.

He was already serving a 75-year prison sentence for various charges like robbery and attempted murder. And on Friday, Corrections Officer Vicki White removed him from the jail, supposedly to take him to the county courthouse for a mental evaluation, but the sheriff says there was no evaluation or hearing scheduled.

The sheriff also says Vicki White should have known the policy to have two sworn officers escorting the inmate. Sheriff Singleton says he doesn't know if Officer White is an accomplice or hostage.


SHERIFF RICK SINGLETON, LAUDERDALE COUNTY: Was she overpowered and kidnapped? And the other, of course, obvious question is did she assist the inmate in escaping? And if she did, did she do it willingly or was she coerced or threatened somehow?


ROMERO: Now, the escape has the Ridgeway family on edge. Take a look. This is Connie Ridgeway and she was murdered in her apartment back in 2015. And you can see pictures of her with both of her sons, Austin and Cameron.


Well, in 2020, prosecutors say the escaped inmate, Casey White, he told the sheriff's office that he killed her. Our news affiliate WAFF says he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Here's Ridgeway's son, Austin Williams explaining why he wants to see Casey White back behind bars.

AUSTIN WILLIAMS, SON OF MURDER VICTIM CONNIE RIDGEWAY: I see a very troubled person. I see someone who is really is like you know you want someone to be able to be rehabilitated but at this point is like someone who's just very, very troubled and just needs to be put away from human society.

ROMERO: A Sheriff's Office says escaped inmate Casey White should be considered armed and dangerous. Laura, Amara.

JARRETT: Nadia, thank you for that report. To the Midwest now, a new video showing just how bad the damage and devastation are in Kansas after a powerful tornado tore through the Wichita area Friday night. The twister touched down in Sedgwick County before traveling over to Andover with nearly a thousand buildings in its past.

WALKER: Well, dozens of structures were leveled in the city and you can see in this drone footage, downed trees, roofs ripped off of homes, and debris just scattered everywhere. Luckily, there were no deaths and only a handful of injuries were reported. The city's fire chief says the recovery will take years.

JARRETT: Still ahead, a group of California firefighters putting their lives in danger to help others in Ukraine. We'll tell you about their extraordinary efforts next.



JARRETT: Welcome back. While Ukrainian forces are defending against Russia's invasion, civilians are left to deal with the aftermath. Ukraine's fire and rescue teams have come under siege like everyone else leaving them with damaged equipment.

A California man led a group of firefighters on their mission to bring their life-saving skills and badly needed equipment to these war-torn cities of Ukraine.

And joining me now is Eric Hille, the Project Coordinator for Project Guardians. Eric, thank you so much for getting up bright and early on a Sunday for us. Tell us about these missions to Ukraine.

I know you spent a lot of time, in particular, working in Bucha. How many times have you sent people to Ukraine and what did you see?

ERIC HILLE, PROJECT COORDINATOR, PROJECT GUARDIANS: Well, this was the first mission we sent. We sent 11 firefighters, nine from the United States, one from Australia, and one from Germany.

We were there for three weeks in the country working in the Kyiv, Bucha, Hostomel, and Kharkiv areas, and what we saw was it was heartbreaking.

I mean, you saw whole towns and cities that were completely destroyed and leveled, high rise apartment buildings were completely burned out. And it's heartbreaking being a veteran because those aren't military targets. These are civilian buildings and towns that were completely destroyed.

JARRETT: Yes. And of course, you know, intertwined with this effort to recover bodies and to help people in this ongoing investigation into possible war crimes. I mean, you're knee-deep insights into crimes. How does that impact your work?

HILLE: It was tough. The body we located, we were told once we were able to get them exposed to leave them alone and don't touch them because Ukraine -- police officials would be by to do their investigation. One of the bodies we recovered on Easter Sunday, talking to the neighbors and they're -- the person was screaming and crying for helping the rubble for two days before he died. Rescue forces and emergency personnel were unable to get in because that area was under Russian control.

JARRETT: Just complications on top of complications. You know, we've reported on Russian forces attacking at least one site twice in an effort to kill first responders. This is you know no easy feat. How much is that type of danger on your mind as you're there on the ground?

HILLE: It was always on our mind when we are in Kharkiv. That was exactly brought to us by the fire chief there. They had a rocket attack on a highly populated market. Fire Department showed up. They're doing you know what firefighters do, trying to fight a fire and help treat as many victims as they could. After about 15 minutes on the scene, Russians fired a secondary attack, which wounded multiple firefighters and killed one.

JARRETT: And I understand, Eric, you plan to go back to Ukraine at some point. I know you're back in the U.S. now, but you're going to go back.

HILLE: Yes. So we have enough funds to launch a second team which we're working on now. We're continuing to fundraise. Our ultimate goal is to send out a total of four teams. So working on that right now and then we'll see when we're going to launch them. There's some -- now that all the team is back, we're going to sit back and do a good after-action review to see what we can do to improve and better serve while we're over there.

JARRETT: And how can people help who might be watching at home saying wow, this is incredible? What can people do for you?

HILLE: We have a fundraising page set up on Sunday the first it's under Task Force Joint Guardian. You can donate there. And also, if you're a fire department that has the equipment you want to donate, you can reach out to us on Facebook on Project Joint Guardian. When we went over, we actually had 26 pallets of cargo that were donated technical rescue equipment from brand new to use that was personally hand-delivered to the fire departments in the Kyiv region while we were there.


JARRETT: It's just terrific. Thank you for all that you're doing. Please stay safe. And come back and update us on how things are going. Eric Hille, thank you.

HILLE: Thank you. Have a good morning.

WALKER: President Biden is considering cutting $10,000 from student debt but some say that's just not enough and some say well might be a little too much. Up next, what borrowers need to know about the possible changes? And country music has lost one of its legendary voices, Naomi Judd. Ahead this hour, we remember her and her standout career.



WALKER: Big news for the millions of Americans who hold student loan debt. President Biden now says he will have an answer on how he plans to reduce that burden in the coming weeks. He is signaling that he is open to forgiving at least $10,000 in debt for borrowers, but no commitment yet on how he might get it done. Student Debt expert Michael Kitchen is joining us now to talk us through all of this. He is a senior managing editor at Student Loan Hero.

All right, good morning to you. Thank you so much for joining us. Let's get straight to it because higher education is more expensive than ever. I remember when I graduated many moons ago, I could barely make rent and that was when you know, college was much cheaper. But can you talk first about the average debt borrowers are saddled with, and how this generation is really struggling?

MICHAEL KITCHEN, SENIOR MANAGING EDITOR, STUDENT LOAN HERO: Yes, definitely. I mean, that's why this is such a big issue is student loan debt really does affect a lot of people who pursue higher education. So the number being bandied about right now is 10,000. That's what Joe Biden talks about as a candidate. If that were to happen, if it were 10,000 in forgiveness, that could zero out student loans for about a third of all federal borrowers so -- you know, it wouldn't be nothing. It would be something of a big deal but of course, you know, that

leaves something like two-thirds, who would still owe money if student loans were forgiven on that level. Again, we don't know, you know, how much it would be if anything at all.

WALKER: I mean, how would that work though? Let's say, President Biden, you know, goes for the $10,000 debt cancellation, student loan debt cancellation, don't you think -- do you think he should take a more targeted approach, especially for you know, those who are saddled with much higher debt? I mean, they -- that may not even take -- make a dent for some borrowers.

KITCHEN: I would say -- it seems likely that the more -- probably they would do a means test, rather than in terms of how much debt you actually had so it maybe -- it might be more tied to income. But, you know, again, it's still not too clear at this point. Yes, of course, there are a lot of people out there who will have to, you know, continue paying and right now, repayment on the federal debt, on federal student loans has been frozen. It's been extended multiple times since the middle of 2020.

But at this point, repayment is set to start in September and so it's -- if they do something, if there is some sort of forgiveness, then it's less likely that they'll extend it again. So people will need to get ready for that, you know, especially if they have more than 10,000 in debt.

WALKER: So what do you expect to happen after this freeze on the federal student loan payments expires at the end of August? I mean, you're just mentioning this, the free started in March of 2020, and then it was extended six times. I'm sure that was been a huge help to a lot of people who've been able to probably, you know, pay off other debts and actually make their mortgage or rent payments. But what to expect to happen once this extension ends?

KITCHEN: Well, yes, of course, you know, it depends on your case. You know, for a lot of people, and certainly, you know, all the surveys that we've done at have shown that you know, quite a large -- I mean, a sizable majority, in any case of student loan borrowers do struggle with repayments.

Now, there have been other changes made pretty recently, you know, to some of the programs that you know, could offer other avenues for forgiveness. For example, if you do still have debt, you definitely -- you know, if you're struggling with it, you would want to look at income-driven repayment which is where they cap your repayment each month at a -- you know given percentage, hopefully, an affordable percentage of your disposable income.

So what -- you know, there are definitely ways to make it affordable. And with income-driven repayment, you do get forgiven after 20 or 25 years, depending on which exact program you go on. And they've tried to make some of these programs a little bit easier to comply with and to get forgiveness from. So there are definitely options out there, but you do want to get ready. WALKER: OK. Well, that's good to know, though, that there is that particular option out there. President Biden's administration, though, has forgiven I believe, what, $16 billion in federal student loan debt since he took office? Can you tell us a little bit more about that? Who would have you know benefited from that?


KITCHEN: Oh, sure. Yes, that well -- you know, some of these programs, they've been quite stricter. There's one forgiveness program, public service loan forgiveness where if you work for any sort of government agency, federal, state, local, sub teachers, some people in law enforcement have student loans, or if you work for any sort of nonprofit, then you could get forgiveness after 10 years. Well, specifically 120 payments.

But it was incredibly difficult to get forgiveness on that program in the past. So recently, the Department of Education, said they're going to look at this again. And a lot of people are now receiving who, you know, had been turned away or said that you know, there was a problem with their application, they had been on the wrong repayment program or you know, some I's have not been dotted in some way, they're getting another chance.

And so, a lot of people are finding forgiveness through that -- through making it a little bit more easy to get through that program. The same thing with income-driven repayment, it's a little bit technical. I won't go into details, but basically, they've made some changes that a lot more people are now qualifying for forgiveness through that.

WALKER: Well, you know what? Something needs to be done quickly to address all this debt that people are saddled with. Michael Kitchen, appreciate you. Thank you so much.

KITCHEN: Thank you.

WALKER: Coming up. Remembering country star Naomi Judd. We'll look back at her extraordinary life and career.



JARRETT: Some sad news to report this morning. Country music legend Naomi Judd has died at the age of 76. Her family made the announcement yesterday and said her death was due to mental illness.

WALKER: Judd and her daughter Wynonna are known for dominating the country music charts in the 1980s, winning five Grammy Awards, and selling more than 20 million records. CNN's Chloe Melas has more now on Judd's life and legacy.


CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER (voiceover): Country music legend Naomi Judd was one half of the duo the Judds. Naomi Judd was born Diana Ellen Judd in Kentucky in January 1946. According to The Judds official website, after the birth of her two daughters, Wynonna and Ashley, the family moved to Tennessee where Naomi Judd worked as a nurse.

By 1980, she began pursuing a musical career for herself and Wynonna, the pair making appearances on a local morning show as a professional actor. Eventually, they produce a string of major hits. Their first single, Had A Dream (For The Heart), released in 1983, reached number 17 on the Billboard country chart. Their next single, Mom He's Crazy, became the number one song on country radio that won The Judds their first Grammy in 1984. Over the course of seven years, the Judds won five Grammys and had 14 number one singles. They sold more than 20 million records.


MELAS: Younger daughter, Ashley Judd, became a celebrity in her own right as an actress. For Naomi Judd, a diagnosis of hepatitis C, a potentially chronic and deadly viral illness forced her to retire from performing in 1990.

NAOMI JUDD, AMERICAN SINGER: We don't have a cure yet. It's a virus that causes cancer. It's a virus that causes my liver disease.

MELAS: Love Can Build A Bridge released, December 1990, was the duo's final single according to the website. In 2016, Naomi Judd opened up about mental illness during an appearance on Good Morning America, saying that she had been diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety. The singer said at that time that she would "not leave the house for three weeks and knock it out of my pajamas and not practice normal hygiene." The same year, she wrote a book titled River Of Time: My Descent into Depression and How I Emerged with Hope, explaining her struggles.

NAOMI JUDD: I have certain things that I do every single day to get -- help me get out of the depression. So the stigma is horrible and that's why I'm trying to shout it from the rooftops and tell everybody, hey, if it happened to me, it can happen to you. The good news, the spoiler alert, is that I'm recovering. I'm healing.

MELAS: The Judds completed what was billed as a farewell tour in 2011.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The iconic duo, the Judds.

MELAS: That they announced earlier this year, attend a final tour that was scheduled to begin in September.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The final tour.

MELAS: They performed together publicly for the first time in years in April at the CMT Music Awards. The Country Music Hall of Fame described their music as characterized by distinctive harmonies with powerful lead vocals and acoustic accompaniments with elements of traditional folk, blues, and family harmony. NAOMI JUDD: I get out there on life's highways and I'm just a student of human behavior. Life is absolutely fascinating. Life is so unpredictable. And we don't know. Someone said it's not how many breaths you take, it's how many moments take your breath away.

MELAS: The duo was earlier scheduled to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame tonight.


JARRETT: What a life. Our thanks to Chloe Melas for that piece. The next hour of NEW DAY starts right now.