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CNN Live Event/Special

CNN TONIGHT: Russia Test-Launches Missile, Putin Issues Warning To West; FL Governor Pushes To End Disney World's Self-Governing Power; Johnny Depp Testifies Amber Heard Instigated Fights, Violence In $50 Million Defamation Trial. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired April 20, 2022 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: A reminder. Before we go, new Sundance award-winning CNN film, explores the unbelievable, but true story, of the man, who took on Vladimir Putin, and lived to expose the truth.

"NAVALNY" premieres, this Sunday, 9 P.M., on CNN.

The news continues. Want to hand it over to Laura Coates. And Jim Sciutto, in Ukraine.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CO-HOST, CNN TONIGHT: Anderson, thanks so much.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I am Jim Sciutto, live from Lviv, Ukraine, along with Laura Coates, in the U.S., where the Biden administration, today, unveiled a new round of sanctions, against Russia.

President Biden met with his top military advisers, voicing the pressing need, for the U.S., to constantly adapt its response, to the ongoing Russian invasion, here.

Russia attempted some very public saber rattling, today, showing off the test launch, of a new intercontinental ballistic missile. In a televised address, Putin called it, quote, "Food for thought," to those, who might threaten his nation.

The Pentagon, for its part, however, downplayed the test, as a non- threat, noting, the U.S. was warned, in advance, and monitored that launch closely.

What does remain a very real threat, though, is a new Russian offensive, a big one, in the Donbas, in the eastern part of this country. And I have some new reporting, in a moment, on how Russian forces appear to be faring, just days, into this new phase of the war.

We do know, they have a stranglehold, on the southeastern port city, of Mariupol, where Ukrainian troops, and many civilians, hundreds of them, remain surrounded, taking refuge, at a steel plant, as they make desperate public pleas, for help. It's desperate situation, Laura. LAURA COATES, CNN CO-HOST, CNN TONIGHT: And Jim, I know, an evacuation - I mean, it's unbelievable, to think about what's going on. Because the evacuation corridor there, that didn't work, as they said, as planned, today.

And, of course, President Zelenskyy says that some - a 120,000 civilians, remain trapped, there. And we'll have the very latest, on the race, to get them out.

And also, later this hour, the Justice Department is taking action, to now possibly reinstate, the mask mandate, for travelers that a Florida federal court has overturned. So, what does all of this mean? Could passengers on planes and, of course, elsewhere, be required to now mask up, yet again?

And speaking of Florida, there's a new escalation of the feud between DeSantis and Disney.

So, is the Republican governor, trying to punish, a private company, for not embracing his politics? Is the GOP-controlled Congress, there, trying to help him retaliate, against Disney, for supporting LGBTQ rights? Well, those are at least some of the allegations that are being leveled, from the Democrats.

We're going to hear from a Republican, who sponsored one of these new bills, take away some of Disney's powers.

And we're also going to dig into this dramatic trial, of actor, Johnny Depp, versus his ex-wife, Amber Heard. Depp took to the stand, again, today, in his defamation case, against the actress. We're going to break down all of the new developments.

But first, I want to go back to Lviv, and Jim Sciutto.

We've been watching the horrific images, Jim, of Mariupol, from the outside. But what are you hearing, from those that are trapped inside, of that steel plant?

SCIUTTO: I was able to get in touch, with a member, of Ukrainian military, the Border Guards, who's among those Ukrainian soldiers, trapped inside, along with many hundreds of civilians, including women and children.

And the prevailing emotion there, frankly, is fear, right? I mean, they are holed up there. They fear what would happen to them, even if they are allowed to escape.

Because they don't trust Russia in this. They fear that they might be killed. Certainly, soldiers do, as do some of the civilians. Or, if not killed, imprisoned, are forced to go to Russia, where they don't want to go. And many of the refugees, allowed to leave, some of these embattled cities, they weren't given a choice, Laura. They were taken to Russia.

And then, there, I spoke to one of the advisers, to President Zelenskyy, this morning, who said that, in effect, if Russia allows them to leave, their intention is to make them hostages.

COATES: I mean, that's just shocking, to think about. The intention is to make them hostages.


COATES: I mean, the displacement, internally, the threat, the really terroristic behavior that's going on, the accusations of war crimes.

And then you talk - I mean, there's a U.S. senior official, defense official, who told CNN that Russian forces, in the east, actually added 17 battalion tactical groups, in the past week. And, by the way, that's four more, in just the last, what, 24 hours.

But what has really changed, on the ground, on that? I mean, has that really had an impact, on what we're seeing, day-to-day, on the ground there? You're in Lviv. What are you seeing?


SCIUTTO: Yes. So far, on those eastern battle front lines, no. No impact.

I've spoken with two U.S. officials, familiar with the latest Intelligence assessments. They say there's been no significant or really measurable exchange of land, in the first few days, of this conflict.

It is early. But they have also not seen, really, any substantive changes, by Russia, and all those things that held them back, in the north, difficulty with supply lines, difficulty with command and control, of their own forces.

So, there's a lot of skepticism. And again, the caveat is it's early. But there's a lot of skepticism, among U.S. officials, as to whether Russia will have any more success, in the east, than it had in the north.

That said, they know, they have to arm up the Ukrainian military, for a whole different kind of battle. It's going to be a World War II-like scene there, artillery on artillery, tank on tank. A lot of carnage, sadly, is what they're looking to, here. It's a new phase. It's a bloody phase of the war.

COATES: I mean, it makes your stomach drop, to think about the idea of the comparisons, to the World War. I know, we're talking about the potential of World War III.


COATES: But just looking backwards, and what we've already been through, as a globe, on the World Wars, it's just devastating enough, and thinking about.

And speaking of actions, and sort of ratcheting it up, we saw the provocative move-- SCIUTTO: Yes.

COATES: --of the Kremlin's missile launch. And I know that you spoke with the top U.S. diplomat, for Ukraine, about this. So, what is the Biden administration, and also, of course, NATO, saying, would happen, if Russia goes beyond the demonstrations, Jim?

SCIUTTO: Yes. Well, big picture here, this is Russia launching a new ICBM, in the midst of a war, in Europe. It's provocative, by any measure. It's not a good thing.

That said, U.S. officials say, they did know, about this test launch, in advance. They monitored it very closely. And to date, my colleagues, and I, including, my colleagues, at the Pentagon, the U.S. has not detected any new or unusual movement, of Russian nuclear forces. But they are watching closely.

And they keep repeating a message, which I heard, from the Acting Ambassador to Ukraine, earlier today, about what would happen, if Russia were to threaten the U.S. or NATO.

Have a listen.


KRISTINA KVIEN, ACTING U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: If Russia steps one toe, over NATO, NATO will respond. President Biden has made that clear. And we are ready to do so.

We have the 82nd Airborne, here, just down the street, from where I am, in Poland. They're here, to help support Poland, and the Eastern Flank of NATO. And they will do so.


SCIUTTO: America's top diplomat, for Ukraine, there, Kristina Kvien, earlier today.

My next guest is Vladimir Putin's former Chief Economic Adviser, worked with him, for years.

Andrei Illarionov, welcome back to the program. You like we saw this--


SCIUTTO: You saw this ICBM test, today. Putin tested an ICBM, in the middle, as I noted before, of a war, in Europe. He described it, explicitly, as a warning, to anyone, threatening his country.

As you watch this, is this just hyperbole, just rhetoric, from the Russian president? Or, should the U.S. view him as increasingly dangerous?

ILLARIONOV: Yes. It's a signal to the West. And Putin is waiting for the response, from the West. And there could be two types of response. One is expression of concern. And it could be another one. It could be 10 more tests of ICBM, from the United States, from Britain and France.

And it will be the second response, Mr. Putin will understand the signal, very clearly, and he would not be engaged, in other provocative gesture, and actions, anymore. So, United States, and allies with NATO, should respond appropriately, to such a provocative tests, of new ICBM, from Russia.

SCIUTTO: Are you saying that the U.S. leaders, European leaders, have been too sensitive, to Putin's response? Because there is a school of thought that he only responds to force, and the threat of force. Is that what you're saying?

ILLARIONOV: I'm saying that probably Western leaders still do not understand the nature of the person, and nature of the regime.

This person understands only strengths. He does not understand preaching to the Bible. He does not understand expression of concerns. He does not understand so-called diplomacy, in which people expressing their some kind of desires, without support, with real actions.


He understand only strengths. And that is why, for each provocative gesture, there should be very firm and clear response, from the Western nations. And that is the way, how to stop the war, in Ukraine, and against Europe, and against the world.

SCIUTTO: So, you have seen some strength. You've seen weapon supplies, and growing weapon supplies, to Ukrainian forces. And those weapons have had a very real impact, on the battlefield. They've killed, sadly, a lot of Russian soldiers, destroyed a lot of Russian hardware.

And you've seen significant economic sanctions that just a couple of months ago, you and I might have considered, far-fetched.

But, you have said, they got to go farther. How much farther?

ILLARIONOV: Until the war will be stopped. As long as war continues, as long as Putin continues, the assault on Ukraine, as long as Putin, killing Ukrainians, by hundreds and thousands? We just saw what is going on in Mariupol, and in many other places around Ukraine. It means that Putin still has desire to continue this work.

So, the support, for Ukraine, from the Western nations, should continue, with more weapons, with more fuel, with more sanctions, with more embargo, until this war will be stopped, until all Russian troops, will be withdrawn, from Ukraine, and until Russia started to repay the damages that committed by the Russian troops, into Ukraine.

SCIUTTO: You have highlighted, the need, for Europe, to get off its dependency, on Russian oil and gas.

Germany has made a promise, now, to phase-out Russian oil, entirely, by the end of this year. I've spoken to European diplomats, who say it is their plan, the E.U.'s plan, to reduce their dependence, on Russian gas, by two-thirds, by the end of the year.

Is that enough? Is it fast enough? Is it enough to make Putin change course?

ILLARIONOV: I think it's a very good sign. First of all, it's a good sign, because it demonstrates that the German government, is serious, about reduction, of its dependence, on the Russian energy. That's a very good sign.

But it is only first step. It is only commitment. It is not yet a real action. What is really necessary, right now, is just deprive Putin, from financial resources that he's using, to finance, war machine, in Ukraine, and against Europe.

For that purpose, along with this decision, to reduce consumption, of the Russian energy, in Germany, as well as in other European countries, it is necessary, to stop sending money, for this energy, back to Kremlin, using those escrow account that we have discussed last time, using other measures, and to use those resources, for supporting Ukraine. This is the best way how to accelerate process, of stopping this war, and helping Ukraine.

SCIUTTO: A billion dollars a day in revenue.

We have seen very little public criticism, of the war, from inside Russia. We did see some public criticism, today, from a Russian billionaire, who criticized the war, very publicly, in there, billionaire Oleg Tinkov. Does Putin listen to those people?

ILLARIONOV: I don't think so. Mr. Tinkov is far from Kremlin, far from Russia. He's living in the West, seems to me, for a long time. He never been the part of the inner circle, or outer circle, of Mr. Putin. And, for Putin, this criticism is not so very important.

But, I think, for Mr. Tinkov, much more important contribution, for stopping this war, would be the use of some of his resources, Forbes claimed that he is - own about $3.5 billion, for supporting Ukraine, for supporting case of Ukraine, to resist Russian aggression, and for supporting Ukrainian refugees, and those people, who've wounded - who were wounded, in Ukraine, who would like to restore, their housing, and the infrastructure, in Ukraine.

He has some money. Now, regular people, around the world, collecting dollars, and pennies, and everything, just to support Ukrainian case. So, he has some money. Why don't he - does not he support Ukraine, with some resources that he has, money?

SCIUTTO: As I say, put your money, where your mouth is.

Andrei Illarionov, thanks so much.


ILLARIONOV: Thank you. SCIUTTO: Just ahead, thousands of Ukrainian farmers, are finding themselves, on the front lines, of this war.

Plus, the major impact, this invasion, is having now, on the global food supply. It's got real implications. That's coming up.


SCIUTTO: Russia's war, in Ukraine, is also worsening food, hunger.

Farmers, across this country, have been forced to stop food production. It is so bad, the U.S. Treasury estimates at least 10 million more people will be thrown into poverty, because of higher food costs. There's also talk of shortages of grain and corn.

CNN's Ed Lavandera joins me, tonight, from Kyiv.

Ed, you spoke to some Ukrainians, who now most focused, on fighting, instead of farming. That's got big implications, for this country, and the world.



As the mayor, of a small farming town, told me, a few days ago, he said, Ukrainian farmers are good at two things. Making bread and fighting. They prefer to grow the wheat that makes bread. But now, they're realizing that sometimes they have to fight.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): Sergiy Yaiichuk runs a one-man dairy operation. He has six cows, on a little farm, just 15 miles, from the front lines, of the battlefield, in southern Ukraine. But neither, Russian soldiers, or falling rockets, have stopped the 49-year-old, from tending to his work.

LAVANDERA (on camera): That is Sergiy's house there, just in the distance. And there is an unexploded rocket that landed, this close, landed here about a week ago.

Did you hear that rocket land?

SERGIY YAIICHUK, UKRAINIAN DAIRY FARMER (through translator): Everything happened before my eyes.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): The explosions, erupted, all around him, when this strike hit. Russian rockets often target his village, of 500 people.

YAIICHUK (through translator): We were covered with dust, just dust and shrapnel, all the way here. I fell to the ground, crawling, not feeling my legs or arms. It was scary. For those who have not gone through this, you would not believe it.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Sergiy keeps one eye, on his herd, and the other eye, on the war.

LAVANDERA (on camera): So, these are Sergiy's six dairy cows. And, if you notice, he has them spread out. He wants to separate them, so they don't all get killed, in one strike.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): He must keep the cows alive. This is the life of a farmer in Ukraine.

Maxim Krivenko, and his family, grow the traditional Ukrainian crops, of wheat and sunflower, on these lush wide-open fields, near the village of Yavkine (ph). But the war has upended his business.

MAXIM KRIVENKO, UKRAINIAN FARMER (through translator): It's been unfortunate, for all of us. Basically, everything has shut down, and we aren't working now.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Maxim says, the cost of fuel and grain seeds have skyrocketed. It's difficult to find parts to repair farm machinery. He's supposed to plant, this year's wheat crop, in the coming weeks. But if the fighting returns, to this land, it won't happen.

LAVANDERA (on camera): So, this is the storage area, where they keep their sunflower seeds. But they haven't been able to sell it, because of the war.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Maxim is also stuck with an entire season's sunflower seed harvest. It just sits in this storage space.

LAVANDERA (on camera): Will this war kill your business?

KRIVENKO (through translator): It's already killed it. We have stockpiled our wheat production, and our sunflowers, but we aren't able to sell them. So, I would say it is the beginning of the end.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Ukraine is considered the world's breadbasket, along with Russia, producing 30 percent, of the world's wheat exports. The United Nations says, this war is creating a food production crisis, not seen since World War II.

LAVANDERA (on camera): Thousands of Ukrainian farmers, now find themselves, on the front lines, of this war. And their growing fields of wheat, and sunflower, have been turned into debris fields, for missiles, and rockets, and other explosives.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): The wreckage of recent battles still sit in the farm fields. The body of a Russian soldier is buried, next to this ammunition supply truck.

Farm or fight is the choice facing front line farmers. Sergiy Yaiichuk has already faced this life-and-death decision. When the Russians invaded, this village, last month, Sergiy joined the fight. He was shot, in the shoulder.

LAVANDERA (on camera): Oh, wow!

If the Russians come back, do you want to fight again?

YAIICHUK (through translator): What else can we do? I'll take my pitchfork, and go fight. I will defend my village, until the end.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): When the war returns, the harvest will have to wait.


LAVANDERA: The United Nations predicts that about 30 percent, of Ukraine's agricultural fields, will go unused, this season. And this is quite the dilemma, for not just farmers, on the front lines, but throughout the country.

We are just weeks away, from the seeds, for the wheat, to harvest that need to be planted. That is up in serious question, for many farmers, across the country.

And then, you have just the issues, with getting and exporting any kind of food that is grown here. Remember, the ports, along the Black Sea, are essentially blockaded by the Russian Navy.


LAVANDERA: So, there are problems, Jim, at every turn, for farmers, during this harvesting season.

SCIUTTO: Well, for farmers, and then the many people, around the world, who depend on the corn, the grain that they grow. A food crisis to come!

Ed Lavandera, in Kyiv, thanks so much.

And Laura, it's just one more example, of how this war reverberates far beyond Ukraine's borders.

COATES: It absolutely does. And for anyone thinking that this is something that is specific to Ukraine, it reminds you that we are part of one world.



COATES: And all in, a lot of this together.

Thank you, Jim. We'll check back with you, shortly.

And coming up, Florida's governor wants to strip Disney World, from something, it's had, for more than, well, half a century. Is it payback, for the company's opposition, to what critics call the "Don't Say Gay" law?

The sponsor of the new bill, says, it targets Disney, and nothing else. He joins me, next.



GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): If you are in one of these corporations, if you're a Woke CEO, you want to get involved in our legislative business, look, it's a free country.

But understand, if you do that, I'm fighting back against you.


COATES: Well, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis appears to be making pretty good on that threat, amid his weeks' long feud, with Disney.

Today, the Florida Senate, approved a move that would revoke Disney's status, as a special district, starting next year. The move comes, just one day, after DeSantis urged lawmakers, to do just that.

Now, he appears to be angry with Disney's CEO, who condemned the new Florida law that critics describe as the "Don't Say Gay" bill. Disney also announced that it would stop its political donations, in Florida.

Now, Disney is the state's largest private employer. That must not come as a surprise to you.


But it's had self-governing powers, for the past 55 years, which might come as a surprise to you. And the company manages its own land, and public services, like firefighting, like police. And its special district even levies its own taxes.

So, while Disney has yet to comment, on this bill, Democrats call this an act of retaliation.

The Florida House will take up this measure, tomorrow.

I want to bring in Florida State Republican, Representative Randy Fine, who is the sponsor of the bill.

And I understand, it's also your birthday. I suppose, you're not going to Disney World, for this particular trip. But we'll see, we'll see, about how this goes. Representative Fine, happy birthday to you.

And I do want to start with this idea of what it's been called, this act of retaliation. Because, this has been nearly half a century. It's the largest private employer. Why now go to have a reassessment of these privileges. Why now?

RANDY FINE, (R) FLORIDA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Sure. Well, and thanks for having me. I can think of no better way, to spend my birthday, than fighting for the values of the people of Florida.

Look, Disney has been an incredibly powerful political force, in our state. And for decades, many politicians have said, "Why should one company have special privileges above another? Why should they have privileges that Universal doesn't have?"

I think what's happened, in the last few weeks, as is Disney has tried to import California values, into Florida, Florida voters have said, "Look, treat them just like you treat everybody else. No better or no worse."

COATES: So, is it - when you say, the "California values," are you speaking about the discussions, of them, weighing in to the - what critics call the "Don't Say Gay" bill? Or is it the idea that they're no longer giving political donations, in Florida?

Because obviously, perhaps the former might not ruffle the feathers. But the latter sounds like well, are you establishing you got to pay to be in Florida, to have the privileges, as long as you donate to politicians?

FINE: Sure. Well, let me clear that up. Governor DeSantis, I believe, has raised over $100 million. I think $100,000 of that came from Disney. So, anyone, who believes that would actually affect anyone's behavior is quite silly.

No. What this is about, is about Disney, not recognizing that they are a guest in our state. They are a California company that is a guest, in the State of Florida. And they are a guest that has had special privileges that no other company has had. If you want special privileges, you'd better be on your best behavior.

And when you come in and misrepresent a bill, that overwhelming majorities of Republicans, Democrats, even Biden voters support, you're going to have an issue, in the State of Florida.

COATES: So, on this idea, of behaving, appropriately, and behaving well? And, by the way, you talk about it being a guest in Florida. Let's be honest. It sinks - it more than sinks for it separates (ph). One heck of a guest, it brings in a great deal of money, into Florida.

But, on that idea of money, the notion of what it would mean, if they were no longer given these privileges, you speak of? I mean, we're talking about they run their own police, and firefighting. They, even in some areas, generate their own electricity.

If you remove those special privileges, two counties in Florida are going to have to pick up the slack. Isn't that going to cost people, more money, in the long run than having a private entity, generate and care for itself?

FINE: It's not. And I would point out that Universal Orlando, SeaWorld, Legoland, Busch Gardens, all managed to do this, without special privileges. The fact of the matter is, when we eliminate an extra layer of government, we create efficiencies.

Local governments, in Florida, complain all the time that the legislature takes their power away. What we're talking about, doing here, with all six of these special districts that this bill deals with, is sending those powers, those revenues, those assets, and those liabilities, back to the local governments that for so long, have told us that they want them.

COATES: Well, the concern really is, Representative, the motivation. And obviously, we have a democracy, representatives, like yourself and, on both sides of the aisle, are able to advocate, on behalf of their constituents.

But the question, for many, is the motivation. And it still hangs on the idea of why now, after more than 50 years, once they have weighed in, the CEO has weighed on this particular bill, that's really a part of an increasing discussion, about culture wars that are around the country, but also focused, in Florida.

Is it the fact that they have weighed in on this particular issue? Or is it really "Hey, it's been in the works for such time?" I mean, they just changed their agenda, over the last day. Wouldn't you want to have more time, as a Representative, to evaluate this, as opposed to a potential knee-jerk reaction?

FINE: Well, I would challenge that it's a knee-jerk reaction. Look, when you kick the hornet's nest, issues pop up that we deal with.

What we learned, when all of this happens, is out of 133 special districts that existed, before the Florida constitution was created, six had not been updated, including this one. That's an issue. And we said we needed to do it.


Part of the reason, it never could be updated, is Disney used its political power, to keep the legislature, from updating it.

Because they have gone and tried to bring values to Florida that goes so far in the face of what Florida voters believe, they don't have that political power, to keep this longstanding effort, to modernize the special district, that's why we have the ability to do this now.

COATES: Well, Florida voters are not a monolith. You know that quite well. So, the idea of a really wide swath, is going to probably be one of the issues, you'll have to deal with, when you debate this issue, tomorrow.

Florida State Representative, Randy Fine, thank you, for joining the show. I appreciate it. Happy birthday!

FINE: Thanks for having me. Thank you.

COATES: I want to get back to Jim, in Ukraine.


COATES: I want to hear what's going on, over there.

SCIUTTO: Well, this is one more fact, of this invasion, some of the most vulnerable being made more vulnerable. As if the invasion isn't horrific enough, for the healthy, trying to survive here, hundreds of children, with cancer, have had to be evacuated, from the country, while already fighting for their lives.

We're going to talk to someone, playing a key role, in trying to save those young lives. That's coming up.



SCIUTTO: This war spares no one, here. Of course, the obvious ways, the bombs, the fighting, the gunfire. And the less obvious, the interruption of basic services, including life-saving health care.

So far, this war has now forced, more than 400 children, with cancer, to evacuate the country. They are getting treatment abroad, thankfully. But rescuing these kids, from Ukraine, in the middle of a war, of course, can be extremely dangerous.

My next guest is Yuliya Nogovitsyna. She is the Director for the largest children's cancer foundation, in Ukraine.

Yuliya, thanks so much, for joining, tonight.


SCIUTTO: First, I just like to ask, the practicality, of this. Getting around this country, in the middle of a war, is difficult. It's dangerous. People get bombed, targeted, shelled, as they drive.

How do you manage, to get kids, who are already suffering, through cancer, out of here, safely?

NOGOVITSYNA: It was a sort of "Mission Impossible." From the very first days of the war, we tried to evacuate children, from the biggest hospitals. We took them in rather large groups. And we sought for either buses or train cars, to bring them to Lviv, a city in the western Ukraine.

It was very difficult and challenging, because it was just near to impossible to find any means of transport, to move these kids. And everyone should recognize that these kids are not just healthy kids. These kids are in severe health conditions.


NOGOVITSYNA: So, they have very low blood counts. They can have fever, whatever. And we approached everyone. And sometimes, we were given a bus, by People Deputy. Sometimes, the Ministry of Health helped us, so. But, every time, it was an ad hoc situation, and we had to find a solution.

SCIUTTO: Of course. Of course. Now, the strikes, Lviv, of course, is a hub, as you mentioned, for getting folks safely, out of the country. There were missile strikes here, as you know, earlier this week. Have that - has that affected, the ability, to get people, out of the country, the children, safely? NOGOVITSYNA: It affected, to certain extent. It didn't stop us, from evacuating children, from Ukraine. But it just demonstrated that you cannot be safe anywhere, in Ukraine.

And regardless where the children are, they are to be taken out of country, for the reasons of safety. And even in Lviv, which we believe, to be a relatively safe place, it's not safe to stay there.

And even if there are some treatment capacities available, still, you cannot guarantee that the children will not be shot by missiles hitting the hospital. That's why our determination--


NOGOVITSYNA: --right now, to take all children, with cancer, out of Ukraine, for proper treatment.

SCIUTTO: Goodness! I mean, you see the pictures, you hear the stories, you want to take them out yourself, practically.

Cancer, by itself, is traumatizing, for children, and their families. To layer, on top of that, a war? How do you manage the psychological side of this, for the kids?

NOGOVITSYNA: I watched the parents. And they are not lost. They are reserved and resolved - they are resolved, to save their children.


NOGOVITSYNA: And I see that they are very strong. Yes, they faced one trauma, when they learned about the diagnosis. And during the war, it's like a double threat, because your child can die--


NOGOVITSYNA: --due to the interruption, in treatment, or due to shelling, and bombing, and so on.

But we try to support these families. Our - we have a team of 12 psychologists, who work with them, online, while they are still in Ukraine, and when they move abroad. And so, we have a big team, of our, like, of volunteers, and of our partners, international partners, who support us.

So, we are not alone in this initiative. It's a great partnership collaboration, with our international partner, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. But for them, we would not be able to do this.

SCIUTTO: You've said that relocation is a temporary solution. We don't know how long this war is going to last. It could be weeks, could be months, could be longer, before it's safe for them to come back.

Have you discussed more permanent options, treatment options, for the children?

NOGOVITSYNA: Look, so all children, which - who have been moved to foreign countries, they can stay there, till the completion, of their treatment.


Even if the war ends earlier, it's not appropriate to move them back, because some treatment is simply not available in Ukraine. Or, in Ukraine, they would be treated under the different protocols. And it's not good for children.

So, we received guarantees, from the foreign hospitals, admitting our children that they can stay there as long as they should stay, until they are, in safe condition.

And, of course, we want to - as soon as Ukraine wins this war, and the peace is restored, we want to rebuild the Ukrainian pediatric oncology service, in Ukraine, and make it even better, than it used to be, before the war.

SCIUTTO: Well, listen, I'm sure folks watching, I know I do, I do wish - well, I wish you, for the work you do. And I wish the children, the best of luck, and recovery, right, as they receive treatment, in the midst of all this.

Yuliya Nogovitsyna, thanks so much.


SCIUTTO: Those poor little kids!

We're going to be back, live, from Ukraine, in just a few minutes.

But coming up, breaking news, back home, in the U.S., the fight over masking, on planes and mass transits, it's not over. Laura looks at why the Biden administration, tonight, is appealing, the lifting of the mandate, even though it was set to end soon. That's coming up.



COATES: The Biden administration is appealing a federal ruling, striking down the mask mandate, for public transportation.

White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, tells CNN+ host, Chris Wallace, this appeal is crucial, to preserving the CDC's authority.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We think it's entirely reasonable, as does the Department of Justice, for the CDC, the health and data experts - health experts, most importantly, in our administration - to be able to have that time to evaluate. But also because they want to fight to ensure the CDC's authority, and ability, to put in mandates, in the future, remains intact.


COATES: I want to bring in Chief Legal Analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.

Jeff, she said, "Entirely reasonable." But here's the rub on this issue. It's a bit of a yo-yo.

I thought earlier today they were emphasizing choice on mask use. And so, how do you think this is going to play out? The idea of saying, "Look, you want to have choice? It's up to you," the President saying that even yesterday, and then trying to preserve the credibility of the CDC, to have this authority?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Laura, I think, the technical legal term, for what's going on here, is, "A mess." There are so many contradictory, and puzzling things, going on here.

To add yet more, the Biden administration is appealing this order. But they're not asking for a stay. So, there is no way, this case will be resolved, before May 3rd.

COATES: Well, a stay - just so, we're not the only lawyers in the room. But the stay--

TOOBIN: Right.

COATES: --meaning that they would ask for them to reinstate the mask mandate, while the whole thing is pending, right?

TOOBIN: Right.

COATES: To say, "Let's keep the status quo before the Florida judge's ruling," huh?

TOOBIN: Exactly. That's - if you really thought, the CDC needed this order, in place, you would ask for a stay, as you said, to keep the mask mandate intact. But they're not asking for a stay. They are simply litigating the underlying case.

Now, what I don't understand, and maybe you understand this, Laura, is why isn't, this whole case moot, after May 3rd? Because the only issue, as I understand, that was before Judge Mizelle, in Florida, was whether the CDC could issue this order, which expires on May 3rd.

COATES: Well, yes.

TOOBIN: I mean, again, I'm a little baffled by that.

COATES: Well, the only thing I can think of, and she alluded to this point, was the idea of trying to preserve the authority, for the future declaration of an emergency.

And, of course, the issue, here, is that the CDC, a rulemaking agency, cannot just have an indefinite period of time, where they say, "Here's the rule, no notice and comment, no one gets to weigh in." And so, they want to be able to preserve it, I would imagine.

The problem is the two-week deadline, you're talking about. It's not clear that they would have needed that extra time, and they haven't necessarily, given that logic, on the issue. But we're both pontificating on that.

But I do want to get something even more that's even pressing, right now. I don't know if you've been watching this trial that involves a defamation suit, brought by Johnny Depp--


COATES: --against his ex-wife, Amber Heard. And there's been a number of high-profile defamation cases, recently, the most recent one, of course, Sarah Palin, and "The New York Times." It seems it's obviously a different case.

But this one's interesting, in particular, because it's based on, not what a journalist, in "The Washington Post," has said. But an Op-Ed, written by Amber Heard, that doesn't name Johnny Depp that's been interpreted as meaning Johnny Depp was abusive, allegedly.

What do you make about what needs to be proven, in a case, like this?

TOOBIN: Well, I mean, it seems like Johnny Depp's case is extremely weak, on many levels.

And, just to remind people, what the standard is, for libel cases, involving public figures, the plaintiff has to show either that the person making the statement, knew the statement was false, or had reckless disregard, for whether the statement was false.

Now, keep in mind, Amber Heard, she is the person, who says, she was abused, by Johnny Depp. So, it's hard for me to imagine, how any court, is going to say, "Well, it's reckless disregard for her to recount her own experience."

I just think Johnny Depp has virtually no chance of winning this case. What do you think?

COATES: Well, I happen to disagree, in the idea of the no chance of it. Obviously, it's hard to ever predict fully.


But the idea of truth, as the defense, to defamation, you're accurate, of course. But one could try to establish that it's not the truth. Could try to establish that this is a statement that was not truthful. And that's going to be really what his lawyers are going to have to prove.

And whether she takes a stand or not to try to talk about these issues, I'm very curious about.

And really, I do wonder about how both are public figures, whether that will cancel out in some way, in front of the fact-finders, here. But we'll wait and see.

Jeffrey Toobin, nice to see you, as always. Thank you. TOOBIN: All righty. See you.

COATES: We'll be right back, everyone.


COATES: Welcome back.

SCIUTTO: Thank you, Laura. I was going to be next to you, though a few thousand miles apart. I will be in Ukraine, again tomorrow, for CNN TONIGHT. Laura will be reporting, from Washington.

And "DON LEMON TONIGHT" starts right now.



SCIUTTO: Good to see you, man.

LEMON: Hello to both of you. Hi, Jim.

Jim, the Security Service Ukraine has released, reportedly, intercepted communications--