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CNN TONIGHT: U.S. & Ukraine Skeptical Of Claims Russia Scaling Back Invasion; Major Artillery And Rocket Fire Heard In Kyiv Tonight As Russia Claims It's Reducing Military Activity In Capital; Trump January 6 Phone Call Gap Mystery. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired March 29, 2022 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDREW YANG, (D) FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYORAL CANDIDATE: I'm going to do whatever I can, for this country of ours--
SCOTT GALLOWAY, CNN+ HOST, NO MERCY NO MALICE WITH SCOTT GALLOWAY: Oh, Jesus Christ! Just come on, dude! You're zero for two. Are you stepping - are you stepping - I mean that sounds like yes, when people still have--
YANG: Well - well I guess what I'm describing is that--
GALLOWAY: --that sounds like yes.
YANG: --that I have a completely open mind about what my future holds. But I'm, you know, I'm 47-years-old, which apparently, in political terms, makes me an--
GALLOWAY: That's an infant.
YANG: --very, very young, yes.
GALLOWAY: Yes. But if you were going to run again, why would you want to run for? Would you run for president, again?
YANG: Yes, like I have a mission to do what I can, on, like, frankly, like a big scale.
GALLOWAY: Come on, man! You're smart. I know - I know you're like doing the math. Where do you see an opening potentially, for Andrew Yang?
YANG: Right now, I'm concerned with '22 and '24. So, I'm just going to do what I can.
YANG: It's going to be elevating other candidates.
(END VIDEOTAPE) ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: That's from "NO MERCY NO MALICE WITH SCOTT GALLOWAY." You can watch it, in CNN+, using your web browser, the CNN mobile app, or CNN app, on Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV streaming devices.
Stay with CNN, for the latest from Ukraine. The news continues. Want to hand over to Wolf Blitzer, and CNN TONIGHT.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Yes, Anderson, thank you very much.
I am Wolf Blitzer. This is CNN TONIGHT. We want to welcome our viewers, here, in the United States, and around the world.
So, what is Russia up to now? The Pentagon is warning, don't be fooled by Moscow's new claims that it's easing up its military assault on Ukraine's capital. The threat to Kyiv isn't over.
In fact, our reporter, on the ground there, says if anything, he's hearing more explosions, tonight, in the capital, an uptick in shelling, and intense fighting continuing, around the suburbs of Kyiv, this afternoon. We're about to take you there, live.
But first, some words of caution, from the U.S. Defense Department, earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: Has there been some movement, by some Russian units, away from Kyiv, in the last day or so? Yes. We think so. Small numbers.
But we believe that this is a repositioning, not a real withdrawal, and that we all should be prepared to watch for a major offensive against other areas of Ukraine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So, is this just a repositioning, not a real withdrawal, as the Pentagon claims?
The President, President Biden, also expressing skepticism.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We'll see. I don't read anything into it, until I see what their actions are. We'll see if they follow through on what they're suggesting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And as Ukraine's President Zelenskyy notes, bombs are still dropping, missiles are still flying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The enemy is still on our territory. They carry on shelling our cities. Mariupol is besieged. Rocket and air attacks are not stopping. This is a reality. This is a fact.
The signals that we hear, from the negotiating platform, can be called positive. But these signals don't drown out the explosions of Russian bombs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And we have brand-new video, just into CNN, tonight, of extensive destruction, in Irpin, suburb of Kyiv.
A warning to our viewers, some of what you're about to see, is very, very disturbing. It shows the full extent, of the devastation, after Ukrainian forces pushed Russian troops out, over the last 36 hours.
CNN has geolocated and verified the authenticity of the footage. One of the first videos, in weeks, from the eastern part of Irpin, an intense - as intense fighting there made it impossible to access safely.
Aside from the debris and the destruction of the buildings, the bodies of civilians are the only thing, in the streets. There are at least five bodies in the video. Who they are? And how they died? That is unclear.
Let's go to CNN Senior International Correspondent, Fred Pleitgen. He's joining us now, live, from Kyiv.
Fred, you're there, in the capital. Russia says they're scaling back. The U.S. says they're likely just repositioning their troops. What's your sense of the reality, on the ground, where you are?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the reality, on the ground is, Wolf that today was really one of the most violent days that we've seen, here, in Kyiv, in a very long time. Certainly, in this past entire week. The whole day saw massive shelling.
And you know what? We heard that announcement, by the Russians, after those negotiations that they had, with the Ukrainians, there, in Istanbul, saying that they would take some of their forces, out of the region, around Kyiv, and try to release or - try to relieve some of the pressure off Kyiv.
We actually went down to the area around the frontline. You can see some of the video that we shot today of some of the massive destruction, in those areas, close to the frontline. And what you heard there was still massive ongoing battle. Shelling was going on everywhere. It was really, really intense, and appear, to us, at least, to be going both ways.
Now, we did manage to speak to a lot of folks, who are still out there. And none of them believe that Russia was really pulling back, because they wanted to create some sort of trust, with the Ukrainians.
Most of them said that if Russia is indeed pulling back, it's because they simply lost, because they can't enter the capital of Kyiv, and because obviously their troops are in big trouble, here, because the Ukrainian army has been a lot stronger than the Russians would have thought.
Now, one thing though that did catch our eye, and I think this is really important, Wolf, is that we talked to the Territorial Defense Force, here, on the ground. And they told us that in the past couple of days, they had seen a distinct uptick, in shelling. That means there have been - have been - has been more shooting, coming from the Russian side, towards the Ukrainian side.
And the forces here of the Ukrainians think that could either be because there's some sort of scorched-earth tactic that the Russians might be using, or because they might be covering some sort of withdrawal. And that, of course, would mesh with what the Pentagon has been saying, that they say some forces might be withdrawing, but it might be a repositioning.
Of course, that repositioning, if they are going to other frontlines, in Ukraine, would have to go via Belarusian, and then Russian territory, but definitely would have to go to the north first. So, that could be the case. Very hard to tell, at this point in time, though, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Fred Pleitgen, reporting from Kyiv. Fred, stay safe, over there. We'll be in touch.
Earlier in the day, U.S. Intelligence officials were calling talk of a Russian pullback, a quote, "Major strategy shift." Meanwhile, the White House and the Pentagon taking more of a wait-and-see attitude.
Let's get some perspective from not one, but two former NATO Supreme Allied Commanders, retired Generals Wesley Clark and Philip Breedlove.
Generals, thanks to both of you, for joining us.
General Clark, what are we seeing, right now? Are Russian troops actually pulling back altogether? Are they shifting their focus, to the east? Or something else?
GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST, FORMER NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER, EUROPE: They're trying to reconstitute some of the units that were beaten up, in unsuccessful attempts, to seize Kyiv. And that's for sure.
But they're going to keep their artillery, and rocket forces, trained on Kyiv. They're going to continue to pound the city. There is likely that the forces around Kharkiv, and Izium, are going to try to go south, to try to cut off the Ukrainian forces that are holding the Donbas pocket there. This is classic Eastern European military tactics. They're going to try to do an envelopment of the Ukrainian forces that are east of the Dnieper River, cut them off and annihilate them. And then, they'll swing back, and then try to encircle Kyiv.
So, look, Vladimir Putin is very clear. He wants to eradicate Ukraine. We shouldn't - we shouldn't take any solace in the limited counterattacks, given by the Ukrainians that have been successful, or the fact that what Russia says about redeploying. This is a long fight that's going to continue.
BLITZER: Yes. That's a good point, David (ph).
General Breedlove, we've heard this type of talk, from the Russians, before, specifically, right before launching the invasion. So, what do you need to see, before buying - buying this move, towards what they're supposedly talking about, de-escalation?
GEN. PHILIP BREEDLOVE (RET.), U.S. AIR FORCE (RET.), FORMER NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER, EUROPE, DISTINGUISHED CHAIR, MIDDLE EAST INSTITUTE: Well, the Russians, as you know, are famous for Maskirovka, masking what they're really doing. And that's why, I think, a healthy dose of skepticism is important here, just as General Clark has said.
I believe they are going to leave that artillery behind, to try to fix the defenses of Kyiv, in place, so that they can't respond. And just as was described, move then to the east, to try to cut off those forces, in the Donbas.
And they would marry up with forces coming north, out of the area, along the coast, in Mariupol, as Mariupol has now fallen. And so, those forces would also enter into the fight. And what we want to see, is whether they do actually begin moving those large units, to the east, and then to the south.
BLITZER: Well, General Breedlove, let me follow up. How much is the word of the Russians worth, right now, given that they still won't say it was their forces that actually invaded Crimea, for example?
BREEDLOVE: Their word is not worth anything, really.
Did you see today, the gentleman from Russia that walked through, in Mariupol? And he was pointing at this large theater, where all of the children and people were killed. And he was describing to Russian news that it looked like this was done from the inside, and this was done to blame on the Russians.
So, this is their lie machine, their information - misinformation campaign, on high speed.
BLITZER: General Clark, the Ukrainians have been fighting, this war, with mostly defensive weapons, like the Javelin, for example, the Stinger missiles. What do they need - what do they need, right now, to go from defense, to offense?
CLARK: Well, they need a different set of weapons. They have some of them, in limited quantities.
They need armored fighting vehicles, tanks, mobile artillery, long- range rockets, and they need air cover. And they don't have that. Not in sufficient numbers. And most of those systems are of Soviet origin. So, we don't have them, to give.
This has to come, from our European allies, and our friends, around the world, who countries, like Kuwait and others, who bought Russian equipment. They've got to belly up, and give it up.
Because this war, in Ukraine, is about everybody. This is about an assault, on the international system, of international law, and a rules-based order. If Putin gets away with this, he'll go after the next one. So, everyone should be involved, and they should be generous, in giving these weapons up, to the Ukrainians, who are using them quite well.
But without support, from our East European allies, and those others, in artillery ammunition, rockets, the armored fighting vehicles, the MiGs, the other aircraft, the Sukhois, they need, look, Russia will consolidate and close in, around Ukraine, and we're going to have an ethnic cleansing humanitarian tragedy, like the world has never seen, if we don't stop it.
General Breedlove, while you were the NATO Supreme Allied Commander, your forces conducted exercises, alongside the Ukrainians. Is there more U.S. forces should be doing, right now, while remaining, for example, in Poland? What else could the NATO troops, the U.S. troops, specifically, be doing?
BREEDLOVE: Well, let me just echo what was said, because I think it's very important. This army of Ukraine, is consuming things, at a great rate, at its fight, that - in this fight.
And, as General Clark said, there are some high-end items that they need. But they also need basic resupply, of the ammunition, food, medical supplies. We need to pour on the gas, getting to them, the things that they consume, while they fight.
And yes, there are things that we can still do, to help train them, if needed, in NATO areas. But truly, I don't think they're going to take any other forces, out of the fight, right now, because they are on a razor's edge, as they are trying to turn the tide and, in some places, they are turning the tide.
BLITZER: General Breedlove, General Clark, Generals, thank you so much, for joining us. Obviously, we're going to stay on top of this story.
One thing appears very certain, right now. Ukrainians are putting up a fight, for their country that Vladimir Putin wasn't prepared for. We're going to turn to someone, in the resistance, in Ukraine, for her take, on Russia's suspicious claims that it's pulling back, from Kyiv. She's a Member of Parliament, in Ukraine. There, you see her. She's standing by live.
Kira Rudik, we'll discuss, when we get back.
BLITZER: Despite Russia's claims that it would scale back its military activity, around Kyiv, air raid sirens are still sounding, tonight, in the capital city. Our CNN crews, on the ground, say major artillery and rocket fire can be heard.
And it comes as we're getting this new video. Again, we warn you that it is disturbing, at times. These pictures showing the extent of destruction, in the Kyiv suburb, of Irpin. What's left is a wasteland, with civilian bodies, scattered, on the streets.
I want to bring in Kira Rudik, Ukrainian Parliament Member, who's in Kyiv, for us, right now.
Thanks so much, for joining us. It's really painful, to see what's going on. So, let me first ask you, Kira, before we move on, how are you doing?
KIRA RUDIK, UKRAINIAN MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: Hi, Wolf. Thank you so much for having me, again. It's always good to talk to you.
I'm doing OK. We do not trust Russians a bit. And when they're saying that, they will regroup, or they will pull back? We just train harder.
The air raid sirens are not off, this night. So, it's 4 A.M. in Kyiv. And we are still up. We know that when you hear air raid sirens, it basically means that Russians want to kill somebody. And we all are thinking, "OK, let us - let this not be us, this time."
BLITZER: You and I have spoken, several times, over these past few weeks, Kira. And I know you're a very courageous woman. You've remained in Kyiv, the capital, throughout this invasion, and had even undergone weapons training, at one point, to prepare, for a fight.
Tell us what you're seeing there, on the ground, right now. How concerned should we be? Russia claims it's moving on. But the evidence is not pointing to that at all.
RUDIK: Yes, well, I continue my training. And, on day 35, of the war, I'm much better than on day one. This is absolutely a fact.
And the resistance team that I'm a part of, continues training, and has been doing some tasks, for the Ukrainian army. And we continue working, continue making sure this, like the whole organization, works in a whole. As of Kyiv, and Russian forces? Every single time, as I told you million times, every single time, we hear Russia saying, "We want peace," we know that this means the opposite.
Every single time, they are saying, "Oh, we are pulling back," or "We are regrouping," or "We want to finish this war," we know that this is exactly a lie, and they are just want to kill more and more of Ukrainian people.
So, right now, I'm more concentrated on parliamentary work. Parliament has next sitting, soon. And there has been at least four sittings, since the beginning of the war. The democracy is working here. Wolf, we are working, here, and we are making sure that the country is able to resist, the country is able to survive, and that we will go through it, and that we will win.
However, on the day 35, and on the day one, I'm asking for the same things. I'm asking for MiGs, for my country, for fighter jets, for Air Force action. Because, honestly, Wolf, on the day 35, we are at the same position, with our Air Force defense that we were, on the day one. And this is heartening.
This means that in 35 days, there are world leaders, who are not able to make these essential decisions, for my country, to be able to protect us, to be able to give us, this ability, to protect ourselves. And that, however brave we are fighting, on the ground, we will still not be able to protect us, in the air, because we don't have means for it.
BLITZER: So, if the President of the United States, or the other 29 NATO allied leaders, are watching right now, what is your bottom line message, to them, Kira?
RUDIK: Every single moment of procrastination, of not wanting to take responsibility, every single moment of hoping that somebody else will do it, is a price that my people are paying, with their blood, is the price that we are paying, with our lives.
And then, still, on the day 35, of incredibly brave fight, against one of the largest armies, in the world, I'm still asking for the same thing. Help us close our skies. Make this terror stop for us.
Let us fight, for our country, on the ground, where we are fighting Russians back. Help us. Help us to win this war. Give us this chance, the chance that we so desperately need, and curtains (ph) needed on the day 35, as badly, as we needed on the day one.
BLITZER: Following today's talks, as you know, in Istanbul, Turkey, an adviser to the Ukrainian President Zelenskyy said there's now a, quote, likelihood that the two presidents potentially could meet.
Do you believe this meeting between Putin and Zelenskyy could actually happen? Will it happen? And if not, do you see any pathway, to an off- ramp, at this point? RUDIK: So, first of all, I don't see a reason, for talking, to Putin. Well, I understand the motives. But I don't know what it would change. I do not believe that it will change anything.
We, right now, need to get onto the security guarantees, from the NATO countries, from the other countries. This is the most important point of these negotiations.
Otherwise, it's just talking with Russians. And you have seen yourself, how it goes. Whatever they say, it turns out to be a lie. We go into another round. They are shelling our cities. They're killing more people. And it's just not moving.
So, the main thing, is to get the security guarantees. After that, there could be some talks, there could be some negotiations. Right now, I don't see any, like, huge line of world leaders, saying, "Take us as guarantors. Take us."
Everybody's being very cautious. And I understand why. But what we know for sure is that without the guarantees, there could not be any, not even peaceful negotiation. There could not be any deal.
And I can tell you, Wolf that in preparation, with these, peaceful negotiations, Russians had stopped the humanitarian convoys, out of the sieged cities. They have taken more and more women and children, to Russia. And you know how they call it? They call it exchange pool. So, to exchange it for captured Russian soldiers, here, in Ukraine.
And, of course, I want to remind everybody, that when President Biden, was speaking, in Poland, at exactly the same time, Russians were firing their missiles, to the closest place, to the Polish border.
So, Russians do not intend to have peace, right now. They intend to have more and more fight, more and more leverage, in this negotiation. And this is why we need heavyweight, in this negotiation. This is why we need the support of everybody, who truly wants peace, of all the democratic countries.
RUDIK: And again, this is a question mark, why are we not getting that?
BLITZER: Yes. I remember, just before the speech, in Warsaw, the Russians attacked those oil depots, right outside, of Lviv, in Western Ukraine. Was supposed to be a relatively safe area. It turned out to be not that safe.
Kira Rudik, be careful over there. Stay in touch with us. We will stay in touch with you. Thank you so much, for joining us, and good luck.
RUDIK: Thank you.
BLITZER: So, how does this all end? And when does this end? A story of hope, amid the horror, ahead.
You're going to hear from someone, whose family survived that devastating attack, on a theater, bombed in Mariupol, filled with more than 1,000 people, including many children. We have details. That's next.
BLITZER: I want to turn now, to the scene, in Mariupol. Neighborhoods leveled, buildings flattened. Among them, Mariupol's drama theater, which housed up to 1,300 people, simply seeking shelter.
Images of the building, just prior to the attack, show the word, "Children," painted on the ground, outside, in giant Russian letters. The message seen here, large enough to be viewed, from the sky, was scrawled near a public square.
Russia denies its forces at the theater, an attack believe to have killed at least 300 people.
Our Ivan Watson, spoke with someone, who was inside the theater, moments before it was hit. She shares her harrowing story of survival, with Ivan.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This was the Mariupol drama theater, before Vladimir Putin, invaded Ukraine, a cultural and architectural symbol of the city. And when the Russian military, laid its deadly siege, of Mariupol, the theater became a safe haven.
MARIA KUTNYAKOVA, FAMILY SURVIVED MARIUPOL THEATER BOMBING: Six people, like, with a cat, we gone on the street, and Russian tanks started to shooting us. And we were running. It was craziness.
And then, we go to the theater. And you know what? In the theater, it was a lot of people. They was like, "It'd be OK. We have food." They give us tea. And they said like, "You should find a place, where you could like - like a bed."
WATSON (voice-over): This woman, and her family, recently escaped from Mariupol.
KUTNYAKOVA: My name is Maria Kutnyakova. I'm from Mariupol. I'm Maria from Mariupol.
WATSON (voice-over): On the morning of March 16, Maria, her mother, sister, and cat, joined hundreds of other civilians, sheltering in the theater.
Footage from March 10 shows families huddled there, in the dark, feeling protected perhaps, by the signs, "Deti (ph)," "Children," in Russian that volunteers posted, outside the building. Shortly after arriving, Maria went to check, whether an uncle, who lived nearby, was still alive.
KUTNYAKOVA: Now, I hearing the noise of the plane, like bombs plane. We know how it's, you know, how it's - this noise, because it has bombed, every day.
WATSON (voice-over): She returned to the theater, to find it destroyed.
KUTNYAKOVA: So, I understand that my family, in the theater. And everyone screaming the names, like mama, papa, Lucia Sasha (ph). And I'm starting to just call in like, mom, Galla (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
WATSON (voice-over): Footage of the immediate aftermath shows dazed civilians, covered in dust, while the roof, over the main auditorium, had completely collapsed.
KUTNYAKOVA: When the theater was bombed, my sister was standing with window, and the window was like blow up, and she's fallen down. And my mom was in another part of the theater, and wall fallen to her.
WATSON (voice-over): Maria's mother and sister were wounded, but survived.
WATSON (on camera): Your sister, is she doing all right?
WATSON (on camera): Really?
KUTNYAKOVA: She's like, contused.
WATSON (on camera): She's got a concussion?
KUTNYAKOVA: It feels - yes, yes, yes.
WATSON (voice-over): Shortly after the initial strike, on the theater, Maria says, what was left of the building, came under a fresh artillery attack.
KUTNYAKOVA: Everyone starts screaming that theater is on fire, so, we should run. And we're running. But Russians bombed it. So, we're running from the theater, and bombs was like these, these, these (ph).
WATSON (voice-over): It eventually took nine days, for Maria, and her family, to get through Russian checkpoints, and reach relative safety, in Ukrainian-controlled territory.
WATSON (on camera): You seem very positive, and upbeat, right now.
KUTNYAKOVA: I'm understanding, I'm very lucky. I'm very - you understand? Like thousands and hundreds people, still in Mariupol, and they're bombed. They have no food, no water. They have no medicine, nothing. And I'm understanding that I'm very lucky. Like, I have my arms. I have my legs. What I need anymore? Nothing.
WATSON (on camera): And your family.
KUTNYAKOVA: Yes, and my family. My cat is safe, so like.
WATSON (on camera): This is little Mushka. She's a 2-year-old cat. And she survived the bombing of the Mariupol theater, with her family. And they're now headed, to Western Ukraine, in this bus.
WATSON (voice-over): But no one knows how many people may have died under the rubble. Russia has denied that its forces bombed the theater.
And Russian state TV recently showed what was left of it, after Russian troops moved into this part of the city.
Judging by the damage, the Russian reporter claims, it was bombed from the inside. He alleges, there is information that Ukrainian nationalists organized a terrorist attack, here. A claim that people inside the theater strongly reject.
WATSON (on camera): Are you angry, right now?
KUTNYAKOVA: No, I want that Russian just go away. This is Ukrainian territory. I don't understand why they come in, and tell me that it's not my land.
They're not fighting with the army. They're fighting with every citizen, you know? They bombed hospitals. They bombed kindergartens. They bombed the houses of peaceful people. They're not fighting with the army.
WATSON (voice-over): Maria, and her family, rushed to a waiting van. The driver will take them, for free, to Western Ukraine, where Maria hopes her sister, can safely recover, from her injuries.
BLITZER: And Ivan Watson's joining us now, live.
Ivan, so what's next, for Maria, and her family, beyond that?
WATSON: Well, I believe, they're en route, to the west of the country, towards the Polish border. And Ukraine's big. It'll take two days, to drive, from here, to there, and they'd have to overnight somewhere, along the way. They did not say they said that they planned to leave the country.
I asked, what about perhaps staying here, because Zaporizhzhia, the ground war has not hit this city. And it's relatively calm. In fact, it was the first kind of safe sanctuary that the family had seen, in more than a month.
And Maria said, "Oh, we like it. It's quiet, here. It's pretty nice. But the air raid sirens do still go off here. And it's still too close, to the Russian frontlines." There are Russian tanks, less than 30 miles, from where I'm standing, right now. And this is a family that is just not going to risk that kind of proximity again, anytime soon.
BLITZER: Obviously, that's totally understandable. Ivan Watson, in Zaporizhzhia. Ivan, be careful, over there. Thank you very, very much.
Coming up, we're getting new information, right now, on a story that CNN first broke, last month. The hours-long gap, in then President Trump's White House call records, on January 6. That includes the time the insurrection was clearly, underway.
A member of the January 6 select committee, standing by live, to join me. We'll discuss what all this means, for the probe, when we come back.
BLITZER: A gap of more than seven hours, in the official White House records, from January 6. The new reporting from the Washington Post, and CBS News, illustrating just how big the holes, the January 6 committee, is trying to fill, right now. That detail follows reporting, by CNN, last month, which first revealed a gap of several hours.
I'm joined now by a key member of the January 6 select committee, and the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Democratic congressman, Adam Schiff.
Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.
Is there any evidence the phone records were tampered with?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): I don't know, how to explain yet, the gap that's being reported. I'm not ready to leap to any conclusions, about the reason.
But I can tell you that we have multiple sources of information, to try to cover up any blind spots. We don't rely on a single source. We don't rely just on records, we get from the Archives, or just on one particular witness, or another, or different call records.
What we're trying to do is, from as many sources as possible, fill in exactly what the President, was doing, on January 6, and of equal importance, what he was failing to do, while the Capitol was under attack.
And I'm confident that we're getting good information. We'll be able to put those pieces together. And one of those pieces, right now is, why is there a gap, reportedly, in these call records? BLITZER: We know the former President was on calls, with the likes of Mike Lee, and Kevin McCarthy, during that 7.5-hour window. Why haven't you subpoenaed their phone records?
SCHIFF: I'm not able to comment on what phone records we have subpoenaed or not subpoenaed.
But we are being very aggressive, to make sure that we get all the information needed, to protect the country, that we can put together the full chronology, of each and every effort, to overturn the election.
And one of those lines of effort, involve the House of Representatives, and the Senate, and trying to get senators and House members, to vote down the certificate of electors, to try to get them to weigh in, with the Vice President, or do whatever the President needed done, to cease the - or stop the peaceful transfer of power, for the first time, in our history.
So, we are looking into all these things. And we're not going to shy about how we do it.
BLITZER: I want to play, for you, Congressman, what Chris Christie said about trying to get Trump, on the phone that day. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: First, I called his secretary. She didn't pick up the phone. It went right to her voicemail.
Then, I called his body person. And he didn't answer his phone.
Then I called the White House switchboard, and asked to be put through. And they said, he was not available.
And then, I called his personal cell phone. Now, I knew that most of the time, he didn't bring his cell phone down, into the Oval Office. But I thought maybe he had it, or maybe he was in the residence. I didn't know where he was. So, I tried his cell phone, and it went to voicemail.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Couldn't that indicate more about the unusual circumstances of that day, than some sort of cover-up, for example?
SCHIFF: It's a good reason why we shouldn't speculate about, what the reason may be, for a gap in that call record. It could be a lot of things. It could be maybe the President didn't want to talk to Chris Christie, for all that matter. So, we don't know.
But we will certainly be endeavoring to find out. And we know a lot about what the President was doing, during those hours. So, we know a lot already. And we're learning more, each day. And that's going to continue. BLITZER: And while I have you Congressman, let me turn to your role as the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee. First of all, do you agree with the top U.S. General, in Europe, who told Congress today that an Intelligence gap may have led to overestimating Russian forces, what they were capable of doing, in Ukraine?
SCHIFF: It's interesting, Wolf. I think the Intelligence Community has done a really remarkable job, in almost every respect, in assessing what Putin was intending, in declassifying that information, so that the President shared it, with the world, and helped prepare the world, for what was happening.
Declassifying Intelligence about Russia's potential plans, to use chemical and biological weapons, Russia's ask of China for help, all those things, I think, were good Intelligence.
The one area, where, I think, we may have gotten it wrong, is in our understanding, of Russian military capabilities. But you know something? It looks like Putin got that wrong too.
SCHIFF: And one thing that we need to try to figure out is was this failing, in terms of knowing the strengths of the Russian military?
Or was this a situation, where Putin was not confiding in people, what his plans were, and therefore the military wasn't ready? Not because they're not capable. But because Putin wouldn't allow them to prepare, for what he was planning.
BLITZER: And one thing also impressive, is the capability, of the Ukrainian military. They're doing, obviously, so much better than so many people had thought. They thought it would be over, within a few days. Clearly, what, this is day 34, almost day 35, right now.
What's your bottom line assessment, right now, based on everything, you know, Congressman? Where is this heading?
SCHIFF: I think, it's headed for a protracted conflict, in which Russia depletes its resources. And I don't know where that kind of stalemated end leads, except tragically to a lot of loss of Ukrainian lives.
So, I agree with what your Generals, on the show, were discussing earlier, which is, the best way to bring this, to an early conclusion, or an earlier conclusion, is by making sure we provide Ukraine, with every weapon, we can, to help it defend itself, help it raise the costs on Russia, for this sustained and bloody campaign.
And I think only then, when Russia cannot sustain their military effort, anymore, and when the Russian public starts to turn, on Putin, will they look for a way to get out.
BLITZER: Congressman Adam Schiff, as usual, thank you so much, for joining us.
SCHIFF: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: More than 600,000 Ukrainians have escaped to Hungary. CNN is there, taking a closer look, at that country, is quickly - how it's quickly adopting, to this enormous humanitarian crisis.
You're going to see why the relief mission, is so deeply personal, for one volunteer. That's next.
BLITZER: 3.9 million, and counting. That's how many people have escaped Ukraine, since the start of the Russian invasion, in late February, according to the United Nations.
CNN's Matt Rivers, is in Budapest, talking to refugees, including one, who is now volunteering, to help other newly-arrived refugees.
MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Each time a new group shows up, it's anybody's guess, how many refugees, there would be. But more than a month, into this war, weary Ukrainians keep coming, and coming, looking for safety, in the Hungarian capital, of Budapest.
RIVERS (on camera): So, authorities here say that as compared to a few weeks ago, things are now much more organized. So, once people come in, they get processed. And then, the idea is to get them to where they want to go.
So, if they want to stay here, they go to door number four, over here, to get local accommodation.
Door number three that would take them to the airport.
And door number two, and number one, over here, this is where refugees go, when they want to go to the train station, here, locally.
RIVERS (voice-over): Making their journey a little easier, is Yiuliia Pokhylenko. She's a volunteer, translating Ukrainian, into Hungarian, or English. And here, she helps us speak with this couple, who left behind family, as they fled Ukraine, just a week ago.
RIVERS (on camera): Are you worried about them?
YIULIIA POKHYLENKO, UKRAINIAN REFUGEE TURNED VOLUNTEER: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
LUDMILA, UKRAINIAN REFUGEE: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
POKHYLENKO: She wanted everybody, want, stay alive and be healthy.
RIVERS (on camera): She wants what everybody wants?
POKHYLENKO: It's finished (ph). Yes.
RIVERS (on camera): To be safe?
POKHYLENKO: It's finished (ph).
RIVERS (voice-over): Yiuliia has a gentle touch, with these new arrivals. She's warm, and kind, and empathetic, because she too is a refugee, from a suburb of Kyiv. She fled, amidst intense fighting, a few weeks ago.
Yiuliia took this video, just before she left, of the shelter she used, when the bombs were falling. And on her way, out of the city, she took this video, of shell casings, on the ground.
RIVERS (on camera): Was it difficult to leave your country?
POKHYLENKO: Yes, of course. It's--
RIVERS (on camera): Why?
POKHYLENKO: Because it's your country. It's your land. It's so shock. It's so sad, surprising, for what happened, and for why.
RIVERS (voice-over): She's been here, for several weeks, with no plans to leave. Yiuliia desperately wants to be back, in Ukraine. But, for now, she'll help however she can.
RIVERS (on camera): Why are you doing that?
POKHYLENKO: A little help, it's help. Everybody want help Ukraine, however you can.
RIVERS (voice-over): And today, that meant everything, from serving up hot drinks, to guiding this woman, to get her medication. However, she can show people that she cares.
And at the end of our interview, a hug for us too.
POKHYLENKO: Tell everybody about this story.
RIVERS (on camera): We will. We will.
RIVERS (voice-over): And a message.
POKHYLENKO: Help stop this.
RIVERS (on camera): We will. Thank you.
BLITZER: And Matt Rivers is joining us now.
Matt, so what more can you tell us, about how Budapest is dealing, with this constant influx, of Ukrainian refugees?
RIVERS: Yes, well, Wolf, I mean, this is a number that has just grown exponentially, since the beginning of this war.
We got the latest data, from police, here in Hungary, who now say that more than 500,000 Hungarians have - or Ukrainians, rather, have crossed here, into Hungary. Hungary only has a population of about 10 million people. So, that's a 5 percent increase, in the population, here, in just the last few weeks alone, Wolf.
However, it does appear like authorities had things more organized, than a few weeks ago. They've been able to kind of catch their breath a little bit, as the numbers of refugees have slowed down a little bit.
But it's also clear that, as we saw today, they're relying on some of these Ukrainian citizens, themselves, to say, "Hey, look, you can speak the same language, as the people, who are coming over. If you want to volunteer, we will certainly take the help."
BLITZER: Good reporting. Matt Rivers, in Hungary, for us, thanks very much.
And we'll be right back.
BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer. Thanks very much, for watching.
Please join me, in "THE SITUATION ROOM," tomorrow, 6 P.M., Eastern.
And log on to our new streaming network, CNN+, for "THE NEWSCAST WITH WOLF BLITZER." That's weeknights, 7:30 P.M. Eastern, or on-demand.
And I'll see you, right here, tomorrow night, as well.
"DON LEMON TONIGHT" starts right now.
Don, first of all, how are you doing?
DON LEMON, CNN HOST, DON LEMON TONIGHT: I'm doing OK, Wolf. It has been interesting to watch. I know, there's a wait-and-see approach, about what the strategy, for Russia, is now, in this war.
And everyone is taking, a wait-and-see attitude, as you have been speaking, to your guests about, because they just don't trust the Russians, and the Russian leader. And, I think, that is with some merit.
BLITZER: You know the - everybody is watching what's going on, because the Russians are saying, one thing.