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CNN Live Event/Special

White House Correspondents' Dinner; Evacuations Underway At Mariupol Plant Surrounded By Russians; Interview With Former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel About Russia's Advance; GOP's Madison Cawthorn Faces Pressure Amid Scandals, Primary; Biden And Trevor Noah Tell Jokes At White House Correspondents' Dinner; West Divided On Ukraine's Chances To Win War In Long Term; Country Music Star Naomi Judd Dies. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired April 30, 2022 - 19:00   ET



PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: The woman who wrote that message on an envelope from a Holiday Inn in Paris. If you're Tracy or you know who she is, you're asked to reach out to

Well, thank you so much for joining me this evening. I'm Pamela Brown. See you again tomorrow night starting at 6:00 Eastern.

CNN special coverage of tonight's White House Correspondents' Dinner and Russia's war in Ukraine starts right now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Good evening to viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar live from the nation's capital for special live coverage of the White House Correspondents' Dinner which we were not invited to.

But we're not going so you can. For the first time in a half a decade, a sitting president will not only attend the dinner, he'll tell jokes and allow himself to be roasted in front of the country by "Daily Show" host Trevor Noah.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: And of course this does come at a critical time for the Biden presidency with the world on edge, an economy facing headwinds, and primary season heating up before the midterms. We're going to bring you the event as soon as it begins.

But first, we do begin with some breaking news out of Ukraine where civilian evacuations have begun at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol. A Ukrainian military commander inside that plant says 20 women and children have made it out. And the hope is that they will get to Zaporizhzhia safely. Hundreds more remain trapped at this hour. Many of them injured during intense Russian bombardments in recent days and weeks.

Food, medicine and time running out. There's not much left of what used to be a sprawling industrial complex. These are images that show much of the plant flattened beyond recognition by repeated Russian attacks. The same can be said for much of the city of Mariupol. BERMAN: And the Black Sea city of Odessa reports of multiple

explosions in the last 24 hours in and around the airport there. Ukrainian military officials say the runway has been damaged.

In this video, it's propaganda video, released by the Russian Ministry of Defense, it shows cruise missile attacks being launched from Russian subs into Ukraine from the Black Sea. Ukrainians have been saying that they have been attacked from the Black Sea for weeks at this point.

KEILAR: I want to go live now to Kyiv and bring in CNN's Matt Rivers with the very latest here.

Matt, what can you tell us?

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brianna, what you just said is the first little bit of good news in terms of evacuations from Mariupol that we have had in the weeks that we have been covering this story as a network. Some 20 people, according to a commander with the Azov regiment currently inside that steel plant complex have been able to get out.

And that is the first such evacuations under a cease-fire that is actually held in a very long time. For weeks we have been hearing about attempts, negotiations to try and get an evacuation corridor set up for the hundreds and hundreds of civilians that remain inside that plant. Today, 20 people getting out. It's not a lot of people but it's more than have gotten out in the past. They're supposed to go to the city of Zaporizhzhia which is in Ukrainian-held territory but CNN cannot verify the fate of those people.

Meanwhile, though, it is only 20 people. And we know that the people who are still there are facing dire circumstances including the ongoing threat of disease as temperatures warm up. Meanwhile, I did have a conversation earlier today with an Azov regiment commander who is fighting in Mariupol. He managed to get out when he was injured. He was smuggled out a little while ago. And he told us that as civilians get evacuated, the president of Ukraine should not forget about the fighters that also remain there.


GEORGE KUPARASHVILI, AZOV REGIMENT: It's not only civilians that's the president's responsibility to save. But it's the president's responsibility as well to save their military. No man stays behind. And it's his responsibility to deal as well. And, I mean, I would say we need third country, third country, third side need be involved as a guarantee with international non-government organizations or government organizations who will provide guarantee for safely evacuation for civilians or military.


RIVERS: Because there's a lot of people inside that steel plant complex right now who are not willing to leave under a Russian controlled evacuation corridor. They simply don't trust the Russians. Remember a lot of the civilians that are there are actually family members of some of the fighters that are also in that complex. And in speaking as I have to fighters in that complex for the past few weeks.

The thought is that they are not willing to surrender to the Russians because they believe that they will be executed if they do so. Hence the call for a third-party country to get involved, to guarantee that safety. No progress, though, as far as we know publicly, Brianna, about the possibility of a third-party country getting involved.

KEILAR: Matt, thank you so much for that live for us from Kyiv.


BERMAN: All right, joining us now, retired U.S. Army General Steve Anderson.

General, thanks so much for being with us. If I can I want to start with what's going on in Odessa here. Repeated, constant Russian air strikes on that port city. I want to push in there. Tell me what you see going on here. What are the Russians doing and why?

BRIG. GEN. STEVE ANDERSON (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Well, they're obviously trying to wreak havoc. They're trying to terrorize the citizenry. They are trying to attack towards Port Odessa and of course secure that land bridge all the way across to Moldova. But I submit to you that the Ukrainians are doing an excellent job of counter attacking in Kherson. They've been pushing down in this area.

We know right now they have been able to stall all the efforts thus far to move any ground forces. So they're doing the only thing they can which is bomb the people of Odessa and they are not being very successful.

BERMAN: We know the main Russian effort is here in the east, in Donbas. Does the Odessa effort distract from that, do you think?

ANDERSON: Absolutely. I think that's a very good point. I think the problem with their strategy is they've got an 800-mile front here. OK? He who attacks everywhere attacks nowhere. They need to concentrate their efforts and they're not. Now there's attacks that we know of right now going on in this direction right here. We know that they are attacking through the Donbas in Donetsk, in Luhansk.

We know that there's activity of course in Mariupol, and we know about -- we just talked about it here. I mean, when you have all those forces going, you've got Vladmir Putin has a huge numbers problem. He's only got about 140,000 troops. He's going up against a country of 40 million people. He's outnumbered 280 to 1. The only chance of success that he has is to have concentrated effort in really one direction and use what he's been doing which is heavy artillery, tanks online, push hard, bulldozer type of maneuver against ground forces.

BERMAN: The "New York Times" is reporting the Russians are bringing in troops from the far east of Russia to help reenforce these lines here. Indicating they may be gearing up for just a long-haul operation. When the two sides match up in that type of operation, who has the advantage? Because in theory, they both have interior supply lines. Right? The Russians can supply themselves from Russia. The Ukrainians can supply themselves from Ukraine.

ANDERSON: I think that the Ukrainians have the advantage right now. What the Russians are doing is to try to piecemeal together units from -- they're mobilizing from all over. They're putting conscripts up there. These units have not had an opportunity to train. You're putting people into the caldron of fire and they really haven't had an effort to work together. They don't execute maneuver warfare very well. They don't know how to integrate helicopters with tanks and artillery.

The Ukrainians have shown a great propensity to be able to do that. They're winning because of their superior will to fight. They're willing because of their superior logistics. And they're also winning because of their leveraging technology. Every day they've knocked out a thousand tanks now, John. I mean, that's just incredible. So they've been very successful thus far of being able to withstand these assaults in the east.

I think that where we're going to see is we're going to end up in stalemate. And I think really we're going to return to some sort of a cold war because I think that there are going be a war of attrition. Neither side is going to be able to gain the advantage and we're going to be in for a long fight.

BERMAN: There's talk of this video -- where'd it go? Right here. I think this is the video right now of the Russian shooting missiles from the Black Sea. I actually see this. The Russians released -- this is propaganda video. They're releasing it to show look, we have the subs that can shoot missiles. But to me, it smells of weakness. It smells that they're bragging of something because they have to.

ANDERSON: I think it smells because they are running out of cruise missiles. They're trying to fight -- they're now using submarines. They don't have the kind of cruise missile sustainment that they really like. Surely it's a propaganda ploy on their part. I mean, Vladmir Putin has got to try to get all the good news he possibly can by the 9th of May. But this is operationally not particularly significant. But I think it does indicate they're running out of missiles.

BERMAN: All right. General, great to have you here. Thank you so much for helping us understand what we're seeing tonight.

ANDERSON: Thank you, John.

BERMAN: Actress Angelina Jolie making an unexpected trip to Ukraine today speaking with child survivors of a deadly train station attack. We have the new details ahead.

KEILAR: And tonight's White House Correspondents' Dinner hosted by comedian Trevor Noah about to kick off just a short time from now. President Biden will tell jokes. So will Trevor Noah. And we'll take you there live.



KEILAR: We do have breaking news out of Ukraine. We have new images just into CNN of the steel plant in Mariupol and nearby buildings in ruins. And then in the southern city of Odessa along the Black Sea there, multiple explosions in and around the airport.

Let's bring in Chuck Hagel, former secretary of Defense under President Obama.

Secretary, so great to see you and get your perspective on this. What is on your mind as you're watching Odessa become this sort of new focus?

CHUCK HAGEL, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: Well, I'm not surprised because I think what Putin is doing and they have essentially announced it, is building essentially a crescent east down through the south to block Ukraine from the Black Sea. And strategically for the reasons I think we understand, if they can accomplish that, that gives them a land way, a land gateway to Moldova. It blocks the Ukrainians from exporting anything because they would have no access to the Black Sea.

It would -- I'm sure in Putin's mind, if he can accomplish some of that at least by May 8th when they have their mayday military parade, represent a victory that he could announce.


Now whether it's true or not, he doesn't really care. He's a product of the KGB. That's -- their business is lying and misinformation, disinformation. So I'm not surprised at all that we're seeing the attacks on Odessa.

BERMAN: Mr. Secretary, if this becomes the type of static conflict that it looks like it might, how does the president prepare the American people for something for an effort that may take not just months but potentially years?

HAGEL: Well, that's a good question. The unpredictability of all of this, I think, though, is clear with the American public, with the world. How long this goes, when, where, how it ends, no one can forecast that. But what the president I think has done, so far here, he's been honest, he's been direct, he's been clear with the American people.

And I don't think he's tried to get too far out ahead of the war as to how we're going to end it or how we're going to see it ended and what are the consequences and there will be tremendous consequences after this is over, whether it takes a few more months or if it takes years.

But we just don't know. And I think what he's doing very wisely preparing with our NATO allies and essentially the world, our partners because this is having economic consequences. Will continue to have deeper and wider economic consequences. He's preparing everyone for what may be a long war. And it would evolve into something kind of different than probably what it is now. But it's all uncertain.

KEILAR: In Mariupol which is really the last stand for Ukrainian forces, the Azovstal steel plant, we've gotten word that about 20 women and children have been evacuated out of the steel plant. And I wonder if you're encouraged by that. And I asked because it is something but it's not a lot. We understand that there are at least 60 children, a commander there, right, this week told us that there were at least 60 children there.

HAGEL: Well, I think, as you know, any time you can save lives or see some modest ability to get people to safety, that's good news. But as you also say, it's a small number. And this thing is going to get, it's going to get more severe, I'm sure. And that'll be Putin's intent. And that's the Russian way of combat. You just pulverize, pulverize, pulverize regardless of how many casualties you take and they've taken a tremendous amount of casualties and loss of equipment.

But that's their style of fighting. So I don't think it will get better there. It will get worse. But any time we can get our people out or the Ukrainians out, that's good news.

BERMAN: Secretary, how concerned are you that Vladimir Putin might be willing to shake up the nuclear order, nuclear equilibrium that's existed, you know, for generations now, and maybe used some tactical nuclear devices.

HAGEL: Well, I'm always concerned about that. And I know our leaders are. Certainly the president, Lloyd Austin and Tony Blinken, everyone. I hesitate to say this but that's a step that at least for my thinking would really go too far for Putin. I don't know what his state of mind is or his mental stability right now. But he surely is smart enough to know that if he would initiate something like this, this would be devastating.

It would be devastating and certainly devastating for Russia. I don't know what's going on internally in his country. I know what our intelligence is showing. I don't know everything the intelligence is showing. I know what's in the public area and domain.

And he is continuing to isolate himself in a very dangerous way. But the strangulation of his economy and the effects and the consequences, and what's happening in Russia every day as the Russian people start to understand more and more, as I said more Russian bodies back, he's going to have some internal problems, if he doesn't already.

I would suspect he does. There's going to be some pressure on him and I think it will be severe. But to resort to some kind of a nuclear act, I know he says these things. I know they threaten these things. That's not new. But to actually do it, I think I would be surprised. But I hate to say that because we can't be surprised by anything.


We have plan, prepare for everything. And we are doing that. But that would be -- if he does something like that, it would be catastrophic.

KEILAR: It's hard to believe that he would do it but so much of what we have seen has sort of been in that theme.

Secretary, it's great to have you as always. Thank you so much.

HAGEL: Thank you both.

BERMAN: Oscar-winning actress and special envoy to the United Nations, Angelina Jolie, making an unexpected trip to Ukraine. Jolie visited a school and medical institution in Lviv spending time with children affected by a Russian missile strike on a Ukrainian train station where refugees were being transported. This is where she was speaking to volunteers inside that railway station.


ANGELINA JOLIE, UNHCR SPECIAL ENVOY: They must be in shock and they must also, you know, I know how trauma affects children. And so -- but I know that just having somebody show how much they matter, how much their voices matter, I know how healing that is.


BERMAN: Jolie also visited a coffee shop in Lviv where she greeted several fans.

Ahead on CNN, the White House Correspondents' Dinner. Were you invited?



KEILAR: Were you invited?

BERMAN: I wasn't either. These people were. Pete Davidson and Kim Kardashian. How much -- how many White House press conferences do you think they attended between them?

KEILAR: Conferences or dinners?

BERMAN: Well, no, actually -- how much reporting, how much White House reporting have they done?

KEILAR: Not much.

BERMAN: I'm going with zero.

KEILAR: I'm going with not much.

BERMAN: I'm going with zero. All right. I'm just saying we have. OK?

KEILAR: The shoes.

BERMAN: Pete Davidson, Kim Kardashian there, looking splendid, if that's actually the right word here. Is that the right word?

KEILAR: I think so. BERMAN: All right. We're going with splendid. So this is just small

taste of what is the biggest event of the year, in years frankly in Washington. These are live pictures. This is actually happening at this moment.

KEILAR: She just booted him out of the shot. Did you see that?

BERMAN: What? That's going to happen sooner or later anyway.

KEILAR: Bye, Pete. See you.

BERMAN: All right. We are waiting to hear from Trevor Noah. We are waiting to hear from President Joe Biden. This is the first time this event has happened like this in years. CNN special live coverage continues right after this.



BERMAN: So just weeks before the May 17th primary, North Carolina Republican Congressman Madison Cawthorn finds himself in hot water again. Cawthorn is facing criticism from both parties due to a list of legal, political and other troubles. So what might this mean for his re-election bid?

Joining us now, CNN senior data reporter, Harry Enten.

Harry, I thought I just saw you on the red carpet with Kim Kardashian.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA CORRESPONDENT: You know, Kim and I are very friendly. And I'm happy to say, though, that I've managed to dart over here so I can spend some quality time with you, John.

BERMAN: You didn't get invited either?


BERMAN: OK. Very good. Let's start with Madison Cawthorn right now. What are the odds that he's facing at this moment?

ENTEN: Look, if you look at the betting odds at this particular point, 57 percent chance he wins, 43 percent his chief rival Chuck Edwards wins who is a state legislature there. Look, this is basically, even in terms of betting odds, right, 57 percent is not very much a favorite at all. I would define this race as a T-O-S-S-U-P.

BERMAN: That spells tossup.

ENTEN: That does tossup. Very good, John.

BERMAN: So the various scandals and things, how much is that hurting him? Is there a way to tell?

ENTEN: Yes, I think there is. And we can compare the betting odds from where we were essentially a month and a half ago to now. And this is Cawthorn's chance of winning that North Carolina 11 GOP primary.

BERMAN: Oh, wow.

ENTEN: Look at this. Back on March 15th, 85 percent chance of winning. That's a very clear favorite, right? He could lose but he's probably not going to lose. Now he's just down to 57 percent. And why is that happening? Well, I mean, let's be real. It's because of all the scandals that have been breaking and the betting markets have been moving against Cawthorn and we've seen that in the internal polling as well, where Cawthorn has been falling in those polls, though still obviously the favorite at this point.

BERMAN: I have to tell you, March 15th, I remember March 15th. That wasn't that long ago.

ENTEN: It wasn't that long ago.

BERMAN: Historically speaking, would it be that strange for an incumbent like Madison Cawthorn to lose?

ENTEN: That depends on your definition of strange, right. So look, House incumbents losing in primaries, it happens. It happens. Look at this back in 2020, for example, there were eight in incumbents who lost primaries. Four in 2018, five in 2016, five in 2014. Now I'm coming all the way over to your side of the wall, John. Look at that, 13, and that was like this year, a redistricting year. Right?

Most of North Carolina's 11 District looks like the old version of the 11th, but there is still some new constituents that Cawthorn does in fact want to represent. So it would not be shocking. Again, he's slightly favored but it wouldn't be shocking if he lost in the primary.

BERMAN: In terms of endorsements, who has and who does in this race?

ENTEN: Yes, so, you know, one of the things I always like to do is try and bring this out more naturally, right. And look at these key endorsements. So Cawthorn is in fact endorsed by Donald Trump.

BERMAN: Right.

ENTEN: But Chuck Edwards, look at that. Senator Tom Tillis has endorsed Chuck Edwards. The North Carolina Senate leader has endorsed Chuck Edwards. The North Carolina House speaker Tim Moore has endorsed Chuck Edwars. This is very, very, very unusual that you would see these high-profile politicians of the same party not in fact endorsing the incumbent representative. Obviously Madison Cawthorn has done something very wrong in these gentlemen's eyes.

BERMAN: So if Cawthorn does get out of the primary, is he damaged goods in the general?

ENTEN: Not really, no. If you're going to beat him, you're going to beat him in the primary. So these are the general election race ratings. Solid Republican from the Cook Political Report. Solid Republican from inside elections. Safe Republican from Sabato's crystal ball. Incumbents especially never -- pretty much never, ever lose. You can basically count them on one hand over the last decade even at this point when you see race ratings this solid.

And there's a reason for that, John. And that is if you look at the 2020 races, right, Trump won districts in 2020. North Carolina Trump won it by 10 points. Guess how many districts Trump won by 10-plus points in a representative by Dem House members at this point?


North Carolina Trump won it by 10 points. Guess how many districts Trump won by 10 plus points that are represented by Dem House members at this point? It is zero. Zero. Zero. Zero. Zero.

That is not a hard number to really comprehend. If you're going to beat Madison Cawthorn, you're going to do it in the primary. If he makes it to the General Election, scandal or not, he is almost certainly going to win.

BERMAN: Harry Enten, fascinating. I'm so glad that you are not invited to the Correspondents' Dinner, so you could be here with us to share this one.

ENTEN: Well, I'm glad I'm here too, and maybe I'll see a little bit later down the yellow brick road.

BERMAN: We will see you. All right, Harry, thank you very much.

ENTEN: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right. Look at this.


WANDA SYKES, COMEDIAN: The First Black President. I know you're biracial, but the first Black President. I mean, it's proud -- you're proud to be able to say that, you know, the first Black President, you know, well, that's unless you screw up and then it's going to be what's not what the half White guy, huh?


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Wanda Sykes with a memorable moment from 2009 there are as we're counting down to the kickoff of tonight's White House Correspondents' Dinner. Keep it right here on CNN to see it all, live.



KEILAR: Welcome back to CNN's Special Live Coverage of the White House Correspondents' Dinner.

Tonight, Trevor Noah host of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" is the headline entertainer. His challenge: Striking the right balance while roasting a sitting president. No pressure, right. We've seen some people fail in the past for sure. Let's bring in CNN's Kasie Hunt and Kristin Fisher.

Hi, guys, you both look beautiful. What are we expecting tonight?


KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE AND DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're expecting a President of the United States to speak at this event, this dinner for the first time in six years. And I mean, Kasie, I know you've been coming here for many years. But this is actually the first one that I've been to that a President is going to speak at. So I'm excited to see if Biden has some jokes.

HUNT: Well, this is the first time in a while. Also, we had Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson in the red carpet here -- a little bit of star power at this dinner. It has been a little lower wattage as well, just because if the President doesn't show up, there is -- no matter what party there's much less of a dry and you know, I won't lie, Brianna, I know you and I have been coming to these dinners sometimes together for a long time.

I think it was a little more fun when we were younger, when we were just crashing and you know, we didn't have to do some work, you know, while you were at it or pretend you still had it together.

So, you know, here we are, many years later.

KEILAR: Yes, mommy's bedtime has gotten earlier. That's the problem that I will tell you. Mommy's bedtime has gotten earlier.

It really is about striking the balance, though here, right?

BERMAN: Well, look for both by the way, the President and the comedian. You know, George W. Bush in 2004 made jokes about WMD, weapons of mass destruction. And I imagine the President Biden as he is approaching this, you know, coming out of a pandemic, or to some extent still in a pandemic, you know, we'll acknowledge somehow the shared experience we all have, but you've got to be careful with how you address that, I imagine, guys, right?

HUNT: I think that's right. I mean, like this -- in the Obama years, it was always tough for the comedian because Obama had some pretty sharp writers, pretty good -- had a pretty good delivery. So trying to follow him was always really hard.

Usually, the nice guys kind of nailed it. I remember Jimmy Kimmel got really good reviews when he performed at the dinner kind of gave a shout out to his teacher who he said, you know, used to make him -- called him the class clown and told him he would never amount to anything. And here he was, you know, following the President at a dinner like this.

But others have been a lot sharper, and you know, that can kind of sour sometimes the food here because typically, I think people in this town have kind of come to this dinner in a spirit of celebration and coming together in a place that's usually pretty divided. The divisions have gotten so much worse in recent years.

So I'm interested to see if the humor tonight is going to be that much sharper. And, you know, don't forget, you can get political moments here to last a long time.

Donald Trump, I was here in 2015 when President Obama jabbed at Donald Trump from the podium, and Trump that would, you know, go on to claim that's why he decided to run for President, it was in that very moment -- Kristin.

FISHER: I know, and can we at least talk about the fact that we have a real comedian headlining the event tonight? I mean, it's not a historian. It's actually Trevor Noah.

So I mean, I'm just excited that it is going to be a little bit more entertaining than it has been in previous years, and we have had, oh, I think that's actually Brooke Shields on the red carpet right now. So yes, all right.

HUNT: It is Brooke Shields. I just saw Drew Barrymore. She had a fabulous dress on, I have to say.

FISHER: Oh, she definitely.

BERMAN: There she goes. She didn't want to be at the --

KEILAR: She ran off.

BERMAN: She ran off.

KEILAR: Okay, but who else? We saw Kim Kardashian. Kristin, right. Who else is there?

FISHER: Yes. Kim Kardashian, Pete Davidson. I mean, you guys know I cover the space beat. So I was hoping to get a question into Pete because he was supposed to fly on Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin New Shepard spacecraft just a few months ago, and nobody really knows why he pulled out, backed down at the last, reason, but you know, they didn't take questions. So I wasn't able to get that one in.

BERMAN: I will tell you --

FISHER: Who else have we seen on the red carpet? I saw I saw Dana Bash. I saw lots of CNN folks.

HUNT: Yes, lots of our colleagues are here tonight. So that's great. What were you going to say, Berman?

BERMAN: I was just going to say, you know, in terms of Pete Davidson, having been to a few of the dinners myself, if there's one place that's a lot like outer space, it's inside the room at a White House Correspondents' Dinner.

KEILAR: Indeed.

HUNT: Yes, fair. FISHER: Fair.

BERMAN: She is saying.

FISHER: Caitlyn Jenner is also here. Another somebody -- I saw her walking around. So --

HUNT: I will say the other feature of this dinner, guys to me, don't forget we are coming out of a pandemic and everyone is worried about getting COVID. I also noticed, a lot of people, out of practice, making small talk, I pursue them, there are so many --

FISHER: I was going to say the same thing.

HUNT: I sure think I can't put the name on the face even though I know it's in there somewhere.

KEILAR: I totally --


FISHER: People are actually very open about -- like I've had multiple conversations with folks who say I feel out of practice. I feel awkward.

KEILAR: Yes, completely commiserate with that. But look, we have hours ahead of us so we're going to get better at this. Kristin, Kasie, great to see you both. The night is young, Kristin. You can still grab Pete Davidson and break some news, I think.

FISHER: I'm going to try.

KEILAR: We are going to be checking in.

FISHER: I'm going to try. I'm on it. I'm on it.

KEILAR: We will be checking back in with you very soon.

BERMAN: All right, we have some new video just released by the Russian Ministry of Defense. This is a propaganda video, frankly.

It shows cruise missiles being launched from Russia and subs into Ukraine from the Black Sea. Ukraine has said this has been going on for some time. We just had a gentleman who says this. This indicates to him that maybe the Russians are actually running out of other ways to shoot into Ukraine.

Joining us now CNN national security analyst and the former Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Russia, Andrea Kendall-Taylor, and Angela stent, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and author of "Putin's World: Russia against the West and with the Rest."

Look, it has been a week in a sense of a slow slog here from the Russians moving but slowly in the eastern part of the country, still continuing to hit cities with missiles. And where do you see things tonight? ANDREA KENDALL-TAYLOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I think if

we step back, I mean, it's fair to say that phase one of this conflict was a defeat for President Putin. They did not take Kyiv, and so they were forced to withdraw those forces and focus on lesser objectives in the east and the south.

But as you say, even then, the progress is slow. There are some gains, but the Pentagon uses the word "plotting progress." Russia continues to send its forces to the east. Ukraine continues to resist and it seems like they're looking to exhaust those forces.

But I think there is some optimism and I see that in the rhetoric that this administration is using a lot more optimistic about Ukraine's prospects of winning. I guess it's still early days in the second phase, and there's a lot of uncertainty, and I think a lot of risks still lie ahead.

KEILAR: As you're watching what's going on right now, Angela, where do you think Putin's mind is? What's his mindset right now?

ANGELA STENT, SENIOR FELLOW, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Well, his mindset is he really wants some kind of victory before Victory Day on May 9th, they're already rehearsing for the parades there. He wants to be able to say, you know, we've made progress in the Donbas, we've taken Mariupol, and we have those Ukrainian Nazis on the run.

So I think that's where he is now. He is so determined to have some kind of a win or at least to portray it as such for this parade on May 9th.

BERMAN: And Angela, you're not as bullish on Ukraine in the first phase of the war, or you're not so willing to say this was a glorious Ukrainian success. Why?

STENT: I mean, they certainly stopped the Russian advance on Kyiv. But you just heard before from Senator Hagel, their economy has devastated, the Russians have cut them off their access to the Black Sea. So yes, they managed to push to the Russians back there, but the country is suffering.

They've just discovered more mass graves in Bucha. So I think we have to be -- we have to support them, and I do believe our administration believes that they can win, but they have a long way to go before they can really say that they have pushed the Russians out.

KEILAR: What are you preparing for, Andrea? And do you think that we can really say, what the next months or even longer hold?

KENDALL-TAYLOR: No, I don't think so because there is just so much uncertainty in this phase of the conflict. I think what I'm the most worried about, and what I'm preparing for, is the potential escalation and widening of the war.

And so if we are bullish, or we are optimistic that Ukrainian victory is a ton of -- is possible. That to me is the scenario in which I worried most about President Putin escalating or intentionally widening the war because for Putin, defeat is not an option. This is existential.

BERMAN: When you say widen, do you mean widen beyond the borders of Ukraine?

KENDALL-TAYLOR: Possibly. And you know, we don't know what's happening in Moldova. There's a lot of questions there. We see Russia weaponizing its energy, using that against NATO member states. Let's not forget Sweden and Finland are soon to put their NATO applications in.

And so there's a lot of ways I think that this could potentially widen. The risks of that are low, but it still is what I'm looking for, and what gives me pause in these coming months.

KEILAR: So what do NATO member states then need to do at this point in time? And is there a window of opportunity that's closing, do you think Angela?

STENT: Well, they need to keep supporting Ukraine as they are. They've really stepped up. They're supporting it with more weapons. But you know, just to echo what Andrea said, the risk of escalation is there, including don't forget the nuclear and chemical weapons escalation, and we've heard these threats from Putin and from other Russian officials, so NATO has to hang together, which it is and keep supporting Ukraine, but be wary of not getting into a direct conflict with Russia. That's what we need to avoid.

BERMAN: Oh, Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Angela Stent, thank you so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

Trevor Reed back home with his family after being released in a prisoner swap with Russia. His sister Taylor joins us live to tell us how he is doing.

KEILAR: And country music legend, Naomi Judd has died. Her family and fellow performers are reacting, next.



KEILAR: Now to some really sad breaking news from the entertainment world, country music legend, Naomi Judd, one half of the duo, "The Judds" has passed away.

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: Brianna and John, Wynonna Judd and Ashley Judd, the daughters of Naomi released a statement about their mother's death writing: "Today, we sisters, experienced a tragedy. We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness. We are shattered. We are navigating profound grief and know that as we loved her, she was loved by her public. We are in unknown territory."

A ton of celebrities both in country music and just in Hollywood have taken to social media to express their condolences.


MELAS: One of them being Carrie Underwood, tweeting: "Country music lost a true legend. Sing with the angels Naomi. We're all sending up prayers for the Judd family today." They were a dynamic country music duo with five Grammy Awards with a ton of hit songs from "Why Not Me?" "Give a Little Love," "Grandpa" -- 14 number one songs in their decades' long career and on Sunday, they were supposed to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Back to you.

KEILAR: All right, Chloe, thank you for that.

Soon, we're going to be joined by Trevor Reed's sister with how her brother was adjusting to life back in the U.S. after being released from Russian detention.

BERMAN: And we are counting down the seconds until the kickoff to tonight's White House Correspondents' Dinner. Keep it right here on CNN to see it all, live.



KEILAR: Marine veteran Trevor Reed is back in the United States and receiving medical care after he was released from Russian custody during a prisoner swap on Wednesday. He was able to visit with his family who say they are ecstatic to have him back, as you can imagine.

And joining us now is Trevor Reed's sister, Taylor Reed.

Taylor, it is so great to have you on this evening. How is your brother doing? How are you doing?

TAYLOR REED, SISTER OF TREVOR REED: We're doing great. We're overjoyed that he is home. My family and I got to spend most of this afternoon with him, and every time we see him, he seems a little bit more like himself. So it's been outstanding.

BERMAN: You know, we've had a chance to talk over the years. You guys have worked so hard. You've just worked so hard for this moment. You know, now that it's here, you said you spent most of the afternoon with him? What have you been doing? How have you been spending this time?

REED: We're just hanging out. He is telling us stories and we are telling old stories and just trying to be there for him. The team at Army South has put together a really great team of specialists. He's got round the clock access to mental and physical healthcare. So he's doing great.

KEILAR: I think -- and look, like you said, he has a lot of resources, because he has been through so much, Taylor, and I just wonder how you all are dealing with that? How is he dealing with that? Because he does have a road ahead of him, as he tries to kind of, you know, return into what was his normal life?

REED: Yes, absolutely. And it's definitely going to be a process, but he seems ready for it. He is still a little bit in shock. I think it's still a little surreal that he's not there. But at this point, after everything else has been through the road to recovery seems like the smallest step.

BERMAN: What did you learn, do you think going through this process?

REED: I don't know. I think my parents are a really shining example of how not to give up on the people that you love. And just their tenacity throughout this whole process and what we've actually been able to get accomplished has been remarkable.

KEILAR: Yes, we've been watching, Taylor, every step of the way and it has been remarkable that they just kept pushing forward. And your family really has itself to thank for pushing forward and making this outcome happen.

I know your mom had said that Trevor feels, you know, it's almost as if he has sort of some survivor's guilt in a way right. He's out, Paul Whelan is not out, and he feels bad about that. Understandably. I wonder if you're hopeful, though, that Trevor's release, may actually spell something positive for getting Paul Whelan out.

REED: Absolutely. And that's our hope. And that's Trevor is obviously, like you said, got a little bit of recovery ahead of him and he can't personally go advocate for Paul. But he's already made it clear that once he's back out into the world, that's his number one priority, and we as a family share that priority.

There'll be a protest in front of the White House next Wednesday on the fourth for other hostage (INAUDIBLE) and my father and I will be attending that as well. To continue to push for Paul and Brittney's release as well.

BERMAN: Oh, wow. You'll be there next week to push for his release. That's something and you've called for his release, even as you were celebrating the moment, from the moment you were celebrating your brother's release, you made sure to talk about the Whelan's as well.

KEILAR: Yes. It's really amazing.

REED: Absolutely.

KEILAR: Sorry, Taylor. Go on.

REED: That nightmare scenario than anyone can imagine, and I don't think a lot of people can imagine this specific kind of pressure that it is to be in constant worry and constant stress to have your loved one detained, and some of these people have family members detained in situations that are far worse than Trevor's and he is fully aware of that. So we're not going to stop trying to advocate to bring everyone home.

KEILAR: Yeah, and you know, their worry, and you're walking that path with them and we'll be covering that protest that you're doing outside of the White House.

Taylor, we do appreciate it. Thank you so much for being with us, and all our best to your family as your brother.

REED: Yes, Thank you, guys for having me.

KEILAR: This CNN Primetime Special is going to continue right now.

BERMAN: Good evening to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar at night.


BERMAN: At night.

KEILAR: What are we doing up?

BERMAN: Do not adjust your dials. We are live in Washington, D.C. This truly is a special night, a night that some people have been waiting for, for years.

Special Live Coverage of the White House Correspondents' Dinner. This is the first time in half a decade, a sitting President will not only attend the dinner, but he is going to tell jokes. We are told he's going to tell jokes.

KEILAR: Yes, we understand that to be true.

BERMAN: I don't know if they're really funny, but he's going to tell jokes.