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CNN TONIGHT: Zelenskyy: Ukrainian Forces Continue To Deter Russian Attacks In East And South; Rep. Greene Testifies At Hearing On Whether To Disqualify Her From Reelection Due To Actions Surrounding January 6 Attack; McCarthy Caught In A Lie, Latest Show Of Trump Loyalty. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired April 22, 2022 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: This Sunday night, the CNN premiere of the new Sundance award-winning CNN film "NAVALNY," details the unbelievable true story, of the man, who took on Putin, and lived, to expose the truth.

"NAVALNY" airs Sunday, 9 P.M. Eastern, on CNN.

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


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Anderson, thanks so much.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I am Jim Sciutto, live, from Lviv, Ukraine, along with the great Laura Coates, in the U.S.

The Pentagon, tonight, says that tens of thousands of Russian troops, have now amassed, in eastern Ukraine. One of Putin's commanders claims, their new goal, is to take full control, of not just the Donbas region, in the east, but southern Ukraine, to provide a land corridor, to Crimea, and perhaps go further.

Still, President Zelenskyy expressed hope and defiance, tonight.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We will defend ourselves as long as necessary to break this ambition of the Russian Federation.

The Armed Forces of Ukraine continue to deter attacks, by Russian invaders, in the east, and south, of our country.

And I am grateful to each of our defenders, who are bravely holding on.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SCIUTTO: In this new offensive, the fierce battles have already started. They're continuing tonight, in the Donetsk region. One official there, says 42 more settlements, have come under Russian control, just over the last 24 hours. But Ukrainian forces say, they are fighting, to get them back. This is the push and pull of the front lines.

The Russians also launched more airstrikes, on the southern port city of Mariupol, earlier. An estimated 100,000 people, still remain stranded, in that war zone.

And another staggering number. The Mayor of Mariupol told me today that he believes that 20,000 civilians have already been killed, there, so far. 20,000 in two months of war!

SCIUTTO: And look at this new drone video, we just got, of a village, on the outskirts of the capital, Kyiv.


SCIUTTO: Moschun, absolutely obliterated, by the Russians. Those are civilian homes, you're watching, right there, before those Russians withdrew, for the new phase, of their invasion, Laura, in the east.

LAURA COATES, CNN CO-HOST, CNN TONIGHT: I mean, it's all really incomprehensible, to see those images, Jim. And we're going to come back to you, in just a second.


COATES: But also, tonight, two Russian executives, found dead, within 24 hours, along with their wives and daughters, begging the question of whether Vladimir Putin's fingerprints are perhaps, on these deaths, as well.

Plus, receipts are coming back, to haunt two Trump loyalists, pertaining to the insurrection. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has been radio-silent today, at least publicly radio-silent, on being caught in a total lie, about whether he was going to tell Trump, to resign, after January 6.

The tapes, frankly, keep on coming. And there's even more that surfaced today, along with Trump's new response to them, tonight.

And GOP Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene could be in jeopardy, of being disqualified, from ever running, for office, again, over her alleged role, in January 6.

This is what she testified to, today.


REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): I was asking people to come for a peaceful march, which is what everyone, is entitled to do.

But I was not asking them to actively engage in violence or any type of action.


COATES: But, of course, this is what she said, two weeks, before the insurrection.


GREENE: You can't allow it, to just transfer power, peacefully, like Joe Biden wants, and allow him to become our president.


COATES: Not sure what the air quotes mean! But there's a lot to take apart there.

But we all just start with what's happening, on the front lines, in Ukraine.

And Jim, we've seen, frankly, so many other evacuees that have gotten on trains, to make it to safer territory, like where you are, in Lviv.

I remember thinking about, in Poland, and the images, at the train stations, of strollers that were put there, by people, knowing that women and children were arriving, and needed some place, to put their children, to carry their belongings.

And we now see the tragedy of, really, how few civilians seeming to be allowed out of Mariupol.

Are there other conclusions, here, other than the Russians are choosing, to make people stay there, and suffer? Or is there some other explanation that you're hearing, on the ground, Jim?


SCIUTTO: The evidence, of the prosecution, of this war, is that civilians are part of the target. That, Russia, in these cities, does not want to let these civilians, leave, easily, and safely. We've seen that in evidence of the attacks, on civilian corridors, even when they're agreed to, or in this case, where they're just simply not agreed to.

And, by the way, beyond what happens, when there are discussions of possible paths, out of these cities, is what happens before and during. And that is, Russia's continued bombardment, of the cities, of civilian areas, really, the leveling of them.

We showed that aerial view, just of that one village, outside of Kyiv. It looked like a tornado went through there. But that was not an act of God. That was an act of man. It was an act of the weapons of the Russian military. And it's one we've seen out - play out, from village to city, across this country. Civilians are one of Russia's targets, of this invasion.

COATES: And increasingly, even the idea, the prospects, of the ability to leave, the choice feels increasingly illusory, to everyone watching this, as if mercy is being offered.


COATES: But never really, truly extended to lead.

And day after day, Jim, we see video of the smoke that's rising, from the devastation. Look at what we're seeing right now. And that is Mariupol.

And we can never lose sight of the fact that really, there are still thousands and thousands of people, who are inside, of what we're viewing. And I know you spoke with the city's mayor.


COATES: What would it take to get people out of there?

SCIUTTO: And what a vision he offered us, today, from inside that city, to say that in two months of war, 20,000 civilians are killed. And efforts, frankly, and we've seen evidence of this, by the Russians, to destroy the evidence, of those crimes.

What they want there? They want a path out that is somehow supervised by a third country, right? And they're begging, for this kind of help. But there's no sign that there's any sort of plan for that to happen.

So, understandably, they're frustrated. They're concerned. And they're losing hope, right, that there will be a safe way forward. Have a listen.


VADYM BOICHENKO, MAYOR OF MARIUPOL (through translator): So, at the moment, we have people, waiting, for evacuation. We would like to evacuate the civilians that are sheltering in Azovstal. And we need one clear day, of ceasefire, to evacuate those people. However, we have not been able to so far.

And I feel as if my heart's been torn out. My life, my family, we lived there. This was our life. And for me, and tens of thousands, of Mariupol residents, it is extremely painful, to see so many dead, and the city destroyed.


SCIUTTO: You heard him there. They just want one day, one clear day, without fighting, without being attacked, by Russian forces, to get the people out. That is all the Mayor, and the people, of Mariupol, are asking for, at this point.

But Russian leaders, commanders, showing no interest, in doing so. And a Russian general came out, clearly today, saying why even that bare minimum, of humanity, will not happen. Vladimir Putin wants, he said, this General, very publicly, total control of southern Ukraine.

Sam Kiley, is live, in Dnipro, in the central part of this country. How, Sam, and you've been coming, to this country, for a long time, and observed, this war, for a long time, since the beginning. This latest invasion. How has the fighting, there, shifted, in the last several days?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it's shifted in two important ways, Jim.

The first is, as was said, in advance, by the Russians, they are focusing, their efforts, their principal effort, is in bombarding, at the moment, towns in the east, of government-held Ukrainian territory, in the area known as Donbas, on the edge of Donetsk, and Luhansk provinces.

And there has been some back-and-forth, some winning, and some losing, of territory. You mentioned 42 settlements that have been captured, by the Russians. Captured, I think, it's quite a difficult word, to assign to those sorts of artillery exchanges, really.

There's very little movement of infantry, yet, in this war, because they are following, particularly the Russians, this long-range tactical strikes that the Soviets have pioneered, and then they're going to try and follow up with tanks and a heavy armor.

I think the Ukrainians will be preparing, to meet them, when they try to do just that. We haven't yet seen any significant Ukrainian response, except to just to try to hold the lines.

And then, we've seen an uptick, in violence, along that southern coastal route that the Major General, you referred to there, said that the Russians were likely, or at least intent on, pushing, all the way, to the border, with Moldova, conceivably.


Again, I think that that is, in large part, probably an effort, to try and draw off some Ukrainian pressure, because this is all about trying to make the Ukrainians, spread their troops, spread their troops, and get them into an environment, where they can be overwhelmed, by the superior numbers, at least, of Russian forces, even if they're not as competent, or indeed as well-supplied, as NATO supplies are pouring in, which brings us to Mariupol.

Why is it, for example that they are still focusing, their efforts, on Mariupol, so much? Well, there's a thousand Ukrainian troops, hanging on in there that the Russians really need, to either get out of there, get them to surrender, before they can release, a very large amount of troops, to try to push north.

Because that, in the end, is going to be their agenda, try and cut off the Ukrainian forces. But, for now, they're being bound up, in that fight, for Mariupol, still. Jim?

SCIUTTO: Yes. It's a great point, right? Because, if you are focused, on the southeast, for now, and then you start talking about the southwest, and going all the way to Moldova, then do Ukrainians believe that, and feel they have to shift, some of their energy, and resources there.

Sam Kiley, good to have you there, in Dnipro. Thanks so much.

Well, the British Prime Minister, says it is a realistic possibility that Putin wins this war.

But I got a very different assessment, when I spoke with a member of the Biden administration, this morning. Have a listen.


DALEEP SINGH, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR FOR INTERNATIONAL ECONOMICS: Ultimately, Putin will see that this is not the end game, he bargained for. If thousands of body bags, are coming home? If his economy is contracting by double-digits? If inflation is up to 20 percent? If the shelves are empty? And if people can't travel? If this country is in default? If Russia is a pariah state? That's not a win for Putin.


SCIUTTO: That, the Biden administration view.

Let's take that question, and others, to former U.S. Army Commanding General, retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling.

So, to that first question, Mark, you've been a skeptic, from the beginning, and rightly so, really, in a lot of cases, of Russia's ability, here, to win the war, and to gain the ground that they want to gain.

Do you take Boris Johnson's view that the Russians can grind the Ukrainians down, or the Administration view?

LT. GENERAL MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST, FORMER ARMY COMMANDING GENERAL: I take the Administration's view, but for different reasons, Jim.

I'm not going to talk about the domestic politics, inside of Russia, or what Mr. Putin can or cannot accept, from his population, when body bags start coming home. What I'm talking about, and what I've been talking about, from the very beginning, is the military capacity, of the Russian force.

You've had this General Minnekayev, who is the commander of Russia's Central Military District, the largest military district, saying - and that's the one that consists of the Volga (ph), and the Euros (ph) and the Siberian district.

I actually met this guy, when he was a younger general officer, saying that the new strategic objective, is to get to Odessa, and beyond.


HERTLING: I will say, now, what I said earlier, in this campaign. They can't do it. They do not have the forces, to do it. They do not have the capacity, to do it.

When you take a look at some of the areas that they're talking about, in the south, you're talking about the town of Mykolaiv, which they have not taken yet. 500,000 in the population, it's the size of Kansas City, Missouri. Odessa, 900,000. That's the size of Indianapolis.

It's 420 miles, from Mariupol, to Odessa. They can't sustain the supply lines, for that long a time. And no matter how many forces, we are saying, are piled up, on the eastern border, getting ready, to go into the country, they just do not have the size, of a force, to take over these cities. They've proven that.

The Russians have proven they can't take Mariupol, which is a pretty big city, in and of itself. They've been thwarted there. Even though they have killed a lot of civilians, murdered a lot of civilians, they still haven't controlled, the road junctions, going in and out of there.

So, yes, I don't buy Boris Johnson's commentary, different commentary, than what the White House is giving out.

SCIUTTO: OK. One of the issues, in the north, around Kyiv, where the Russians failed, was, and you highlighted their supply lines, they just couldn't get the ammo, the fuel, the food, and the command and control, to those troops, there. So, they pulled back.

The advantage in the east, for the Russians, is that they're closer to the Russian border, right? I mean, they could drive the stuff, right across, and get to those forces there.

Do the Russians have an advantage in the east that they did not have, in the north?

HERTLING: It is certainly a shorter distance. But it's still over 100 miles, Jim. And they don't have the equipment.

But, most importantly, they don't have the people. We have seen so many Russian soldiers killed. We have seen a lack of leadership, on the part of the senior level, middle level and junior level. They have not proven themselves, to be a good combined arms force.

So yes, they certainly have the artillery. But that gets to the package that the administration and NATO, is providing, with Ukraine, now, in this second part of the war. They can counter - the Ukrainians can counter this, with counter-artillery fire. Russians cannot maneuver in this area.

Ukraine is on their home turf. They have home field advantage, on this. They know how to maneuver.


And they have not been successful yet, in the east. They've tried several reconnaissance-in-force missions in the Donbas, so far. As Sam has mentioned earlier, they have hit, with artillery, several towns. But their maneuver has not been such, where they've taken over towns, where they control towns. And in fact, they're not moving all that much.

And I personally think Ukraine is playing it very smart. The Ukrainian generals, they're allowing them to think that they're moving just a little bit, and the counterattacks by the Ukrainian forces are soon to come.

SCIUTTO: Yes. And these are old battle lines. They've been fighting there, for eight years. So, Ukrainians know them well.

General Mark Hertling, always good to have you on.

HERTLING: Pleasure, Jim, thank you.

SCIUTTO: Ahead, there is great suspicion, after two Russian oligarchs, were just found dead, with their families, sadly, just 24 hours apart, under extremely mysterious circumstances.

What does a Russian journalist, who knows Putin, and Russia, make, of these deaths? What's behind them? That's coming up.



SCIUTTO: So, listen to this. Two Russian executives, and their families, found dead, just a day apart. Both cases are now being investigated, as murder-suicides. But the facts are suspicious.

51-year-old Vladislav Avayev was a former Vice President, of a Russian bank. He, his wife, and 13-year-old daughter, were found, in their Moscow apartment, on Monday. Russian police released this four-second clip, of the crime scene.

On Tuesday, then, Russian oil executive, Sergey Protosenya, was found outside his home, near Barcelona, in Spain, his wife and daughter, found inside, dead as well.

What's happening here? Here to weigh in, on these mysteries, Author of "All the Kremlin's Men," Mikhail Zygar.

Mikhail, good to have you on, tonight.


SCIUTTO: You have interviewed, various people, in Putin's inner circle, through the years. Tell us what you make of this. Because, in Russia, when deaths like this happen, there is often a story behind it.

ZYGAR: I'm not a huge fan of conspiracy theories. And I won't haste, to make a conclusion that there is mysterious series of murders. Probably, it might have been a coincidence, so far, because one death is in Moscow and other in Barcelona.

But it's definitely very important, how two of those deaths, could be perceived, by Russian elites, and by Russian businessmen, by Russian bureaucracy, who stay in Moscow, because a lot of people have an alternative, in mind, to leave or to stay.

A lot of people belonging to Russian business elite, are shocked by the war. And most of them are not supporting the war, because they understand that they are losing - they're going to lose everything they have.

So probably, for them, that's a huge shock, and having in mind, an option, to leave or to stay. They see those terrible deaths. And probably, that could be perceived as some kind of warning, or a very bad, bad sign for them. So many people, in Moscow--

SCIUTTO: So, you're saying--

ZYGAR: --I'm sure, are afraid, of those deaths.

SCIUTTO: The fact - particularly the fact that one of these took place, in Spain, because Putin - and again, to your point, we don't know the circumstances, behind it.

But we do know that in the past, Putin has gone after his enemies, and critics, outside the country. If you think of Alexander Litvinenko, in London, in 2006, or Sergei Skripal, also, in England, in Salisbury, 2018. And Navalny, as he was flying inside the country.

You're saying that people inside Russia, today, who might think they'd be safe, out of the country, wouldn't be so convinced of that anymore?

ZYGAR: Yes. I would not compare, those two guys, to Navalny or Skripal. I think these are mid-level managers, of state-owned corporations.

But state-owned corporations are - probably could be a subject of Western sanctions. So, everyone is nervous. Definitely. It could be suicide as well. Because, a lot of people are really nervous, those days, depressed--


ZYGAR: --devastated, losing everything they had, and probably heavily drinking. But that's very bad sign, of moral shape, of Russian business elite, I would say.

SCIUTTO: You have written about what you phrased as a "Collective Putin." Tens, perhaps hundreds, of people, trying to figure out what decisions Putin needs to make. Explain what that is, how that works.

ZYGAR: Oh, yes, that's very funny. And it still works. Unfortunately, it still works. That's a system, created by Putin, when everyone, every single part of the huge army of Russian bureaucrats, is trying to guess what their bosses want them to do, or want them to say.

They don't have to make concrete orders. They just have - the bosses have to hint or Putin himself. He might say, "Do what you have to do." And all of - all of the bureaucrats would try to guess, and try to understand. And we saw a perfect example of how that "Collective Putin" works, during the infamous Security Council that happened two days, before the beginning--



ZYGAR: --of the war, when all the members of Putin's inner circle were trembling and shaking, trying to guess what he wants them to say.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Well, and we could see the consequences, of that form of decision-making, in Russia's troubles, here, during the invasion of Ukraine.

Mikhail Zygar, thanks so much.

ZYGAR: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: So, Laura, we got a look inside the Kremlin there. It's fascinating. What do you have coming up?

COATES: It really is. And thinking about the psychology, of what that looks like, that leadership.


COATES: And the idea of, how to force people, to do what you want, without lifting a finger, saying a word? Very concerning.

Jim, we're going to look at--


COATES: --what's happening, here, stateside, and one of the most controversial members of Congress, who went under oath, today, to testify about her alleged connection, to the insurrection.


COATES: You see right there, Marjorie Taylor Greene. But she couldn't seem to remember a whole lot, Jim.

We're going to have a legal adviser, to the Georgia voters, who are trying to get the congresswoman disqualified, from ever being able to run again. I wonder how he thinks today went.

We'll talk to him, next.


COATES: Should Marjorie Taylor Greene be labeled an insurrectionist, and then barred from Congress?

Well, that's the question, at the heart of the hearing that the Congresswoman testified, in today, of whether to block her, from reelection. That, due to her actions, reportedly, leading up to January 6.


The outcome of this case could actually have quite broad implications, for other Republicans, including Donald Trump.

But there was little, lawyers could frankly get out of her today.


GREENE: I don't remember.

I do not remember.

Sorry, I don't remember.


COATES: Well, I want to bring in John Bonifaz, who's the President of Free Speech For People, one advocacy group challenging Greene's candidacy.

Listen, you saw. She didn't remember a whole lot, in those moments, she says. But we do remember, of course.

There's article - the 14th Amendment, excuse me, Section 3, which is the primary basis, for what's happening, right now, in terms of the collective memory of the U.S., about Civil War, and those, who were writing for the Confederate, saying, "We don't want you to be a part of Congress." That's the foundation of why this is even here.

But, as you know, the burden, really, is on those, who are challenging her candidacy, to prove that she in fact, was the equivalent of, say, a member of the Confederacy, back then, the Civil War.

Have they made their case?


The voters of her district, who have brought this challenge, and we're proud to represent them, have made a compelling case that Marjorie Taylor Greene, having taken the oath of office, on January 3, 2021, then turned around, and participated, facilitated, in the insurrection, on January 6.

Now, the fact that she was incredibly evasive, about not remembering tweets, and statements, and videos that she issued, leading up to the insurrection, is something that the administrative law judge, who held this hearing, will have to factor, into his decision. Was she credible, in not remembering any of that?

She even stated, to the question that our co-counsel, Andy Celli, asked her, as to whether or not she pressed former President Donald Trump, to declare martial law, to keep them in power, she said, then, "I don't remember." It's pretty unbelievable to consider that she does not remember, whether or not she pressed Trump, to declare martial law. Either the answer's no, or yes. But it's not credible, that she doesn't remember at all.

So, all of those claims, of not remembering, are going to be have to factored into whether or not she was a credible witness, today. But the tweets, the statements, the videos speak for themselves. And she engaged in insurrection.

COATES: Well, I'm curious about this, because of the timing of it. And I know that you believe that they have made their case to - at least challenge it.

A lot of people are probably thinking, "Well, hold on. I've seen something like this before, recently. Was in North Carolina. It had to do with another member of Congress, Madison Cawthorn."

Why was that not where this case is, now? What are the distinctions? Because we're not hearing from him, in a trial or a hearing, are we?

BONIFAZ: We're not yet. We are proud to represent voters, in his district, as well, who are bringing this challenge, to Madison Cawthorn, for his role, in the insurrection, after taking an oath of office, as well.

But the reason why that case has not moved forward, is because a federal district court judge, a Trump appointee, decided that he could interfere, effectively, with stopping the hearing, from going forward, in North Carolina, before the state board of elections, on the grounds that an 1872 Amnesty law, designed to provide amnesty, to ex- Confederates, after the Civil War, from the mandate of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment that that Amnesty law applies 150 years later, to Madison Cawthorn.

There is no constitutional scholar, we've heard from, who believes that that argument is correct. And it's contrary to the text, and to the legislative history, of the 14th Amendment, and of the Amnesty law of 1872.

We have filed an expedited appeal, with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. They have granted our request for an expedited appeal. And that argument is being heard on May 3. And Madison Cawthorn may soon have to also face these kinds of questions.

COATES: Well, I'll tell you, I do recall at least one constitutional scholar, talking about what you're talking about. And that was during the second impeachment hearing. I believe it was the House impeachment manager, Jamie Raskin, trying to make similar arguments.

We'll have to see what happens. And speaking of January 6, it may have been useful, of course, for the January 6 committee, to have had some public hearings, to buttress the evidence that you are seeking, to put forth, in court.

John Bonifaz, thank you so much, for your time. BONIFAZ: Thank you.

COATES: Well, Greene has company, when it comes to scrutiny, over January 6.

There is more new audio, out today, of House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, in the days after the insurrection that frankly completely contradicts what he's been telling us, since, about Donald Trump. You'll hear it.

And also, Trump is now saying something about it, tonight. When we come back.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you tell House Republicans, on their January 11 phone call that President Trump told you he agreed that he bore some responsibility for January 6, as Chairman Thompson's letter indicates?

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I'm not sure what call you're talking about.


COATES: Well, that deflection, from House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, is now being re-examined, especially tonight, because as new audio from "The New York Times," reveals, exactly what he said, well, five days after the insurrection.

Take a listen.


MCCARTHY: He bears responsibilities for his words and actions. No if, ands or buts.

I asked him personally today, does he hold responsibility for what happened? Does he feel bad about what happened?

He told me he does have some responsibility for what happened. And he needs to acknowledge that.



COATES: And what's more? Additional audio reveals McCarthy lied to the public, by denying that he ever wanted Trump, to resign, for inciting the Capitol attack. "The New York Times" first reported that both McCarthy and Leader McConnell, wanted to drive, Trump, out of politics, in the days after January 6. Yesterday, McCarthy called the reporting, quote, "Totally false and wrong," unquote, on Twitter. But then, this audio dropped.


MCCARTHY: The only discussion I would have with him is that I think this will pass, and it would be my recommendation he should resign.


COATES: I want to bring in retired Republican congressman, Francis Rooney, right now.

Congressman Rooney, I'm glad to see you, here. I wonder what you make of this new revelation, and what it really actually reveals here.

Because, I remember, there was a time, when flip-flopping, so to speak, could be as damaging, to one's political career, as being called, soft on crime, so to - and here, we're seeing a clear indication that there was an evolution of thought that was not made public.

What do you make of Kevin McCarthy's revelatory audios?

FRANCIS ROONEY (R), FORMER FLORIDA CONGRESSMAN: I think this is one of the saddest things that I've heard, in a long time. And believe me, as a Congressman, I've heard a lot of sad things.

He started out, with an instinctive, basically right and wrong compass, moral compass. And then, he - the politics set in, and he's disavowed it.

And how do you say something is false and wrong, when it's on tape? What kind of alternate reality, are these people living in? Oh, reelection thought. We know what kind of alternate reality, it is.

COATES: Well, interestingly enough, speaking of that reality, people have been waiting, to see, and hear, what the former President, Donald Trump, would have to say, about all of this, right? They were waiting to see.

And here's what Trump just told "The Wall Street Journal," Congressman. He said, "He made a call. I heard the call. I didn't like the call. But almost immediately, as you know, because [McCarthy] came here and we took a picture, the support was very strong. I think it's all a big compliment, frankly. They realized they were wrong and supported me."

The notion of this being a compliment, really speaks volumes, on the one hand. But then, again, we're also seeing a trend, of where former President Trump has rewarded those, who've had an evolution of thought.

I'm thinking about the candidate, J. D. Vance, for example, where he recently endorsed, and said, "You know, he now gets it," and I'm paraphrasing, "and now he should be supported by me." What do you make of the idea of this being indicative, perhaps, of a continued hold, by Trump, over the Republican Party?

ROONEY: Yes, so Trump is now the moral compass, of the Republican Party, it's OK for Kevin to flip-flop because Trump says it's OK?

This is more of these ends justifying the means behavior. I don't see how that's any different than Putin. We say he justifies the ends, and murders millions of people, because of the means that he wants to use, to get there.

Well, we have to use means too. We have to have honesty in what we do. That's what we expect to public officials.

COATES: It's quite a statement, to juxtapose the two men together. Do you think that there are ramifications in the sense of the thought that Vladimir Putin and Trump are similar, in their hold, on a party, or in that the result that he's looking for, is violence?

ROONEY: No. I mean, for Kevin, to allow the means, to overcome - to get to the ends, is in part--

COATES: Understood.

ROONEY: --just like what Putin's doing.


ROONEY: He's using vicious means, to accomplish his ends.

I think Kevin's initial thoughts were great. I think he's a decent human being. But then, the politics kicked in, and the Trump factor kicked in. And he's degraded himself. And I think it's highly unfortunate, for our country, and for the Republican Party.

COATES: You've recently been a member of Congress. Obviously, part of the motivation, you mentioned politics. It's no secret that Kevin McCarthy wants to be the Speaker of the House.

In the idea of the end justifying the means, do you even see that being a viable end result, assuming Republicans were able to reclaim the majority? Is the idea of that flip-flopping, and the, frankly, the revelation that he had those thoughts, would that be enough, to disqualify him, from that running?

ROONEY: Well, I think it would probably disqualify him among moderates.

But, I think, he's playing to the hardcore base, and the conservatives, and the Freedom Caucus, and people like that, who made so much trouble, for John Boehner. And I think he's very concerned about shoring up his position with them, he's willing to sacrifice all integrity to do it.

COATES: Former congressman Rooney, thank you, for your time, this evening. It's intriguing, to hear your insight, in particular. ROONEY: Right.

COATES: I want to go back now to Jim.

ROONEY: Thanks for having me on.

COATES: Thank you.

I want to go back now to Jim, in Ukraine, speaking of the parallels, in terms of our fight for democracy, here, and also abroad.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Thanks so much, Laura.

There are many here, in Lviv, and in the surrounding countries, the neighbors of Ukraine, who were lucky, to have escaped, the horrors, of this war, but of course, never forget what they witnessed and endured.


You're about to hear, from a mother, who managed to escape, the area, around Kyiv, in the very early days, of the invasion, with her three children. She came from a place called Bucha. At the time, we met her, we knew that that had seen some heavy fighting. We did not know what Bucha would come. Neither did she.

We caught up with her. She's in Spain now, but for the story she's hearing from home. That's coming up.


SCIUTTO: More than 5 million Ukrainians, have now fled the war, in this country. On our last visit, here, we met a mother, and then her three young children, who were among that anonymous number.

We wanted to track them down, to see how they're doing, but also to hear what stories, they're learning, from home. Here's what they told us.


SCIUTTO: Yana, first, it's so good to see you, and your kids, and you're safe, and their smiles. I'm so happy you're in a safe place. How is everybody doing?


YANA TIAHLA, ESCAPED BUCHA, UKRAINE (through translator): It's much better than it was before.

SCIUTTO: When we last met, your husband, and your mother, was still left behind, in Bucha. They've been able to join you?

TIAHLA (through translator): Yes, we are together. We got as far as Lviv, together. And then, I went - me and the children went to Poland. And we were waiting there, for my husband, and mom. He was allowed to leave, because we have three children. And, right now, in Ukraine, families with three children and more, the husbands can leave.

SCIUTTO: When we spoke, we knew that the fighting was bad, in Bucha. But we didn't know, how bad. We didn't know about all the crimes. It seems that Russian forces have committed there. Have you been in touch with family, and friends, who were left behind?

TIAHLA (through translator): Yes. I mean, we left in time, and a lot of our friends, managed to leave in time. But we do know people, who stayed there, for a long time. We know people, who died there. We have personal connections there.

And we - so, for example, Miroslava's (ph) teacher died. And also, Misha's (ph) kindergarten teacher has not been found yet. We don't know exactly how they died. But we know that they died. And so, we have a personal story, as well. Because we know, like Misha's (ph) kindergarten teacher, we don't yet know. They can't find her.

This is horrifying, to see, because we can see photos, in the - on the internet, of places we know. A lake, with benches. A park, where we used to take walks. And now, there's a mass grave there. It's really horrible to see.

SCIUTTO: How do you explain, all that, to your children?

TIAHLA (through translator): My eldest child is 11. And she understands everything. She has access to information. She has a phone. She can see the internet. So, she was inside this war. And she knows war is war.

With the youngest, I mean, they've realized there's a war on. And they understand what's good and what's bad.

But we haven't gone into the horrific details with them. We've managed to keep them safe from it, so far.

We told our eldest daughter about her teacher. We - it took us a day, to gather our strength, to tell her. We didn't know. It was quite difficult.

With the youngest, we haven't told him, yet, about his kindergarten teacher. He's too little. We're not going to tell him yet.

SCIUTTO: I get it. Do you have hope that you'll be able to go home, again?

TIAHLA (through translator): Yes, we get asked this question, a lot. Right now, we can't go back to Bucha, because it's a completely destroyed city.

There's a problem with everything there. There's no water, no power, no gas. And also, there's a lot of rubble. They're still finding dead bodies. They're still digging people's bodies, out of the rubble. And also, it's a totally booby-trapped city.

But yes, we want to go back to Bucha, eventually, because that's where our life is. That's where we lived. Right now, here, we just have two backpacks.

SCIUTTO: I remember those two backpacks. I do.


SCIUTTO: And your socks, right?

TIAHLA (through translator): Yes. We have a bit more than socks now, because we got a lot of help, in Spain.

SCIUTTO: It's so good to see you. I'm glad, your family is safe. I really am. And it's nice to see you smiling. I just hope you're able to go home soon.

TIAHLA (through translator): We would like that very much.


SCIUTTO: They are some of the lucky ones, and from one of the worst- hit parts, of this country, during this war. And it's a sad fact of this war, that the difference between life and death, or injury, can be one decision. In their case, the decision to flee, to flee for their lives.

Well, coming up, this weekend, be sure to catch the true story, of the man, who took on Putin, and lived to expose the truth. "NAVALNY," it's a great film, airs Sunday, at 9 P.M., only on CNN.



ALEXEI NAVALNY, RUSSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER (through translator): Vladimir Alexandrovich. It's Alexei Navalny calling, and I was hoping you could tell me why you wanted to kill me?

NAVALNY (on camera): Hung up!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Remarkably, Vladimir Putin faces a legitimate opponent, Alexei Navalny.


NAVALNY: I don't want Putin being president.

NAVALNY (through translator): I will end war.

NAVALNY (on camera): If I want to be a leader of a country, I have to organize people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Kremlin hates Navalny so much that they refuse to say his name.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Passengers heard Navalny cry out in agony.

NAVALNY: Come on! Poisoned? Seriously. (MUSIC)

NAVALNY: We are creating the coalition to fight this regime.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you are killed, what message do you leave behind to the Russian people?

NAVALNY: It's very simple. Never give up!




COATES: Jim, I'm so glad, you had a chance, to follow up, with that mother. It really reminds us, about the real humans, behind these stories. It's more than just the coverage. It's about the lives.

SCIUTTO: And that these stories are not measured, in days, or weeks, or months, but years, really. These people, if they're lucky enough, to live, their lives are disrupted, for years, because of an invasion of choice, by Vladimir Putin. We're going to keep covering it.

Thank you, Laura. It's been great, to be with you, this week.

COATES: Me too.

SCIUTTO: That's it for us, tonight.

"DON LEMON TONIGHT" starts, right now.