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New Russian Attacks Despite Claim It's Scaling Back War; U.S. Says, Putin Misinformed About Poor Military Performance; Jared Kushner To Voluntarily Appear Before 1/6 Committee Tomorrow; Oscars Board Starts Disciplinary Proceedings Against Will Smith. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired March 30, 2022 - 18:00   ET



STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Does any of this dismiss what happened? No, but perhaps, Jake, it offers some context.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Stephanie Elam, thank you so much.

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Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'll see you tomorrow.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news. Fierce new Russian attacks in Ukraine despite the Kremlin's claim that it's scaling back the offensive. Graphic video shows buildings charred and gutted and entire city blocks wiped out. Ukraine says Russia's full- scale armed aggression is ongoing tonight, including heavy fighting on the outskirts of the capital, Kyiv.

Also, braking, the U.S. reveals declassified intelligence that Vladimir Putin is being misinformed about the situation in Ukraine, his advisers apparently afraid to tell him about his military's poor performance on battlefield. With Putin's war strategy changed if he knew the full truth.

Our correspondents are in the war zone and here in Washington for CNN's live global coverage as this brutal conflict is about to enter its sixth week.

We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We begin this hour with Russia's intense new attacks in Ukraine, the bombardment underscoring why the United States doesn't trust Moscow at all when it comes being -- when it comes to its claims, Russia's claims, that it's scaling back its unprovoked war.

In just moments, we will go to live Christiane Amanpour, she's in Kyiv, and to M.J. Lee, she's over at the White House. But, first, CNN's Phil Black has breaking news from the frontlines. And we want to warn our viewers, his report includes graphic images.


PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): On the same day Russia said it would limit attacks on Chernihiv, its forces rained ammunitions down like cross shopping and residential areas. Russia's purported goodwill gesture didn't prevent another difficult, painful night for the city.

Chernihiv's Mayor Vladyslav Atroshenko says, Russia increased the intensity of its strikes. He says 25 people were wounded in a colossal attack.

Chernihiv is cut off, surrounded, Ukrainian defenders are holding off Russia's soldiers while Russia's shells and rockets crashed down from above.

This Ukrainian soldier says he is embarrassed. He believes stories of Russia's power. Their only advantage, he says, they fight well against civilians.

Artiam (ph) is scared, alone. Young. He's 18. He was struck down by a Russian shell, while walking in the center of Chernihiv. He is being moved to another facility in a car that wasn't designed for passengers like him.

Volunteer ambulance drivers are now a vital service as Russia's bombardment tears apart the city and the people that live here one blast at a time.

This is another area Russia said it was going to back off, the outskirts of Kyiv. These images were captured in the Irpin neighborhood by a Ukrainian non-government group on the same day Russia said it wanted to reduce risks for people in the capital. It's a gruesome, eerie scene. The quiet streets are filled with debris and death. People still lay where they were struck down.

Ukraine is in control here now. But Irpin's Mayor Oleksandr Markushyn is pleading with people not to return because Russian weapons are still striking frequently.

Russia's will to destroy is captured vividly from space. New satellite images of the city of Mariupol give a powerfully wide perspective on the devastation inflicted during four-plus weeks of siege and bombardment.

The Russian work here is ruthlessly thorough, whole blocks and entire neighborhoods are now destroyed. Russia is determined to conquer Mariupol even if there is nothing left to rule over.

Phil Black, CNN, Lviv, Ukraine.


BLITZER: Thank you very much, Phil. Let's get some more now in the battle for Ukrainian capital. Our CNN Chief International Anchor Christiane Amanpour is joining us from there. Christiane, the Pentagon says, what, about 20 percent of Russian forces that have been repositioned around Kyiv are sort of falling back right now but there is still heavy fighting around the capital.


You're there in Kyiv. What are you seeing?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, exactly, we do not believe that the Russians have an intention of coming any further in. That we know has been established for the last couple of weeks.

But there has been a huge amount of fighting and long range artillery battles really on the outskirts.

So, we went to the town of Bovary, and that is north of here where we are in the center. It's an outskirt. And it's been attacked twice in the matter of about a week by missiles and we saw this factory that was really a depot, a food depot, really get the brunt of it.


AMANPOUR: This happened at almost exactly the same time that the Russians were announcing their de-escalation around Kyiv. This missile struck right here. Imagine the good fortune of the truck driver who was loading up to take crates and packages and boxes of food and supplies to the supermarkets in this town and also to Kyiv. He managed to survive.


AMANPOUR: We went to the local cemetery where they have freshly-dug graves just for the fighters from that particular town. And it was really, you know, quite a tragic site. And even the caretaker of the graveyard was practically in tears as he remembered parents coming. One man told him he had lost his only child and what more did he have to live for now.

And so the government here is desperate for more weapons, for more help, and obviously to try to get the Russians to agree humanitarian convoys, especially to places like Mariupol and the south, Wolf.

BLITZER: Christiane, I want you to stay with us. I also want to bring in our CNN White House Correspondent M.J. Lee and the Russian Human Rights Activist, the former World Chess champion, Garry Kasparov.

M.J., what are U.S. officials saying about the intelligence that Vladimir Putin is actually receiving?

M.J. LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, what the U.S. is saying now is that Vladimir Putin is getting bad information, Wolf. This is according to U.S. intelligence that was just declassified today. And what that intelligence says, essentially, is that Putin has been getting misinformation, bad advice from his advisers, one, on how badly his military is doing and, two, how bad the effects of the sanction from the U.S. and its allies have been on the Russian economy. And what the intelligence says is that the advisers have been too afraid to tell Vladimir Putin the truth.

Now, one example that's been offered is that Vladimir Putin didn't know that its military was using and losing conscripts out in the war. Now, what we are told is that Putin is now aware of this misinformation and that that, in effect, has created a lot of tension between him and some of his top defense officials.

I should note that all of this, the sharing of this information, the declassification of this information is part of a broader pattern that we have seen from the U.S. intelligence community throughout this conflict of sharing a remarkable amount of information about Russia's strategy, anything really that they think that they can declassify, they are sharing with the public. And that, in part, the thinking there is to try to sort of stay one step ahead of Putin and catch him off guard in some moments as well, Wolf.

BLITZER: Garry, you are a longtime Kremlin watcher, and Putin critic. Does it surprise you at all that Putin is being misled by his top military advisors?

GARRY KASPAROV, CHAIRMAN, RENEW DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE: No, absolutely not. How do you expect after 22 years of him staying in power that any of his cronies would dare to bring bad news to the ruler? They are risking his wrath. So, that's what happened with dictators. And that's why he may well not have a real picture of what's going on in Ukraine.

But it's not just this, you know, it's an overall rotten command of Russian urban intelligence because it's more like a palace intrigue. They are not interested in presenting a real picture rather than protecting their backs.

BLITZER: Could Putin's anger, Garry, at not being told the truth about his military's poor performance in Ukraine, could that cause him, do you think, to lash out in even more brutal ways?

KASPAROV: You just showed it, of course, because Putin may change his tactics but he will never change his strategy. And his strategy years and years ago, he wanted and still wants to destroy Ukraine. Ukraine does not exist in his mind. And that's why when I heard about the de- escalation, actually it's more like removal or more likely redeployment of Russian troops around Kyiv and Chernihiv, I knew it was a tactical maneuver.

Be Putin's one of the main treats of his character's lying. So, that's why any statement view from Kremlin, we have to assume it's a lie and deceit before they prove otherwise.


BLITZER: Christiane, let me get your thoughts on the ongoing negotiations. In a new video message, President Zelenskyy says these talks are, quote, only words without anything concrete. Given how often Russia has lied and continues to lie, why should Ukraine believe anything they put on the table during these talks? AMANPOUR: Well, I mean, that's a very good question. And, you know, to Garry's point, after we all heard this news about what Russia was saying after the latest round of talks and the deescalation and et cetera, some people got quite optimistic about it.

But just in the less than 24 hours, a completely different message has come out, actually from the Kremlin. Yesterday, they were expressing optimism. Today they are saying, no, we haven't seen progress in these talks. So there is not even consistency coming out from their side on what's going on.

And furthermore, we know that Putin still believes that Mariupol, for instance, where the Red Cross center was bombed, where children sheltering and civilians have seen their shelters bombed, they actually believe that they're still -- that there are terrorists in there. That's what they say.

And this is a really very, very dire and grim situation and at the same time, we've seen videos and verified intercepts of communications that we aired, that The New York Times had verified, which shows that the Russian forces have been in trouble from the very beginning.

Desperate as we know. But, you know, when you hear it on intercepted radio, communications, desperate for food, fuel, actual proper orders, they don't know kind of what they're doing in many of these places, and in some instances, actually saying that they are preparing to level a certain, they said, residential area with artillery. Those are the voices of the soldiers on these intercepts. So, it's a very, very dire situation right now.

BLITZER: It's really horrendous what they are doing to these populated areas, is leveling these apartment buildings where men, women and children are located. God only knows how many are being killed.

You know, Garry, the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, he claims that negotiators have already resolved what he calls sovereignty issues over Crimea and the Donbas region of Ukraine.

President Zelenskyy tonight says, and I am quoting him now, we will not give anything away. Do the Russians really think they can simply create their own reality?

KASPAROV: Absolutely. That's what they're trying to accomplish. So, they believe that they can bombard Ukraine into submission. So, they recognize that the original thrust, you know, in many directions, I think six or seven or eight, to attack Ukraine, every major Ukrainian city, failed. And now they are repositioning their troops to take what they can in the south and in the east of the country.

And the fact is that they are bringing some troops out of Kyiv region is because of a threat of encirclement, because from the west of Ukraine is always the regular reinforcement and they were afraid that it would put Russian positions on the Kyiv in a very precarious situation. But the goal is still the same. It's to force Ukraine into territorial concession and to deny Ukraine sovereignty, because if Ukraine has to accept Russia's will in vital decision as domestic and foreign affairs, it means that Putin succeeded.

LEE: It's also just worth noting, too, that from the White House' advantage point, they are essentially saying, we don't buy anything that is coming out of the Kremlin. And we're not going to buy it until we actually see these things happen on the ground.

Even just today, White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield telling me in the briefing room that, there are areas of Ukraine where Russia had said they were not going to attack, they were not going to make advances, even today that the U.S. has seen these kinds of attacks take place.

So, it's going to be a while, it seems like, before the U.S. stops feeling pretty skeptical about these promises that the Russians have made in the last 24 hours or so.

BLITZER: You are absolutely right. All right, guys, thank you very, very much.

Just ahead, U.S. senators, they just received a classified briefing on the war in Ukraine. I'll speak live with the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Mark Warner, he's standing by live. We will get the very latest when we come back.



BLITZER: We are following breaking news on the war in Ukraine, including this very, very disturbing new video coming from the Kyiv suburb of Irpin. It shows bodies in the street along with bombed-out homes and cars after new shelling on the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital. Look at these images. The mayor of Irpin says about half of the city has now been completely destroyed.

Let's discuss with the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Democrat Mark Warner of Virginia. Mr. Chairman, thank you so much for joining us.

I know you just received a full briefing. What is the latest you can share with our viewers about the situation in Ukraine right now?

SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA): Well, one thing I can share is that we shouldn't believe anything the Russians say until we see evidence of it on the ground. Clearly, Putin's original intent to take over all the major cities and decapitate the Ukrainian government has been dramatically pushed back and the will of the Ukrainian people and the armed forces have been remarkable.


But as we see the idea that Russia is fully withdrawing from some of these northern cities to focus on the east, that is not playing out on the ground.

So, what we've got to do is continue to get economic aid, continue to get additional military aid and we've got a briefing on that and literally, there has been tens of thousands of anti-tank tools sent. There have been thousands of antiaircraft sent. Although, we need to get longer range anti-aircraft to Ukrainian missile systems. And we need to make sure we do this without causing, splitting apart the NATO alliance and at the same time preventing World War III.

So, it is a challenging five weeks into this horrible, horrible situation.

BLITZER: It certainly s. As you know, the capital, Kyiv, is still being bombarded. Certainly the suburban areas around the capital are being bombarded. But the Pentagon says about 20 percent, maybe just less than 20 percent of Russia's forces around the capital are falling back a bit and repositioning. That's the word they used.

Did you get a clear picture on Russia's military goals right now as this war enters its sixth week?

WARNER: Well, Wolf, I think that Russian forces are falling back, partially because they weren't, frankly, fully equipped for a long- term siege. They thought they would roll over the Ukrainians in literally days and the inefficiency of just the logistic of the Russians is astonishing.

Now, Putin is using this as potential way to redirect, what we got to make sure is if these forces are pulled back into Belarus, being pulled back into Russia, are they going to be sent back down to the east or are they going to be sent back down against Kyiv once they get re-equipped and better logistics?

I think we need to, again, not trust what the Russians say but actually continue to get these reports from what's happening on the ground.

BLITZER: All the U.S. officials I've been speaking to say, you can't believe the word they're saying.

The U.S. believes that Putin is being misinformed, as you know, about how badly the Russian military is performing in Ukraine, at least during the first five, six weeks. How does that potentially impact his next move in this really brutal war?

WARNER: Well, Wolf, we've known that this is a 20-year dictator that's been more and more isolated. All of your viewers, you see pictures of Putin sitting on one end of the table and his advisers or foreign dignitary at the other end. You know, nobody wanted to tell the boss the truth. And I think at least in those initial few weeks that the information was not getting to him.

The fact that he is through Lavrov, the foreign minister, and others now, announcing they're redeploying potentially to the eastern region, where the original intent of the invasion maybe was is an indication that some of this is getting through. But remember, we are dealing with a guy that's got access to chemical weapons, tactical nuclear weapons and some that have said on your show before, we still have not seeing the full might of their cyber armada against Ukraine or potentially against the west or against us.

So, this is still a delicate time that we want to keep the pressure on, defeat the Russians but not spur Putin to an escalation level that could really create chaos beyond belief.

BLITZER: In the meantime, the Russian military are leveling whole communities, residential areas, hospitals and they're killing a lot of Ukrainian men, women and children in the process.

Senator Mark Warner, we'll stay in touch. Thanks so much for all you are doing.

WARNING: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: The breaking news continues next. We are live on the scene of deadly destruction in Southern Ukraine, where rescue efforts are continuing tonight following horrible airstrikes.



BLITZER: We're following the breaking news in the Russian invasion of Ukraine, including the rising death toll in the city of Mykolaiv, where an airstrike, a Russian airstrike, hit a government building.

CNN Senior International Correspondent Ben Wedeman is joining us right now. He's on the scene. Ben, rescue operations are continuing in Mykolaiv. What's the very latest?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we were there earlier today, Wolf, and we saw smoke still rising from the ruins of the regional administrative office for the governor. And we watched as rescue workers are there combing through the rubble of at least 14 people were killed on this airstrike early Tuesday morning. But it's believed that as many as ten people may be still somewhere in that building under the concrete, the bricks and the twisted metal that is what remains of that building.

Now, we were there. We were given a tour of the area by the mayor of Mykolaiv, a man who told us he was expecting war for many years. And, in fact, he even took lessons in shooting to prepare for this war that has come. He was telling us that he's very skeptical about claims by Moscow that Russian troops are going to pull back from Kyiv and other areas in Ukraine. He told us when it comes to Putin, whatever he says, expect the opposite. Wolf?

BLITZER: Yes, that's what I keep hearing as well. All right, Ben Wedeman in Mykolaiv, be careful over there. Stay safe. We will stay in touch.

Joining us now, retired U.S. Army General and former CIA Director David Petraeus.


General Petraeus, Thank you so much for joining us.

When you look at the Russian assault on Mykolaiv, and the pictures are horrible, the complete flattening of Mariupol, another town, what does that say about Russia's military ambitions in the south along these key port cities?

GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS (RET.), FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Well, I think that is where their real focus is now, Wolf. In fact, I think the withdrawal of the units from Kyiv, again, that 20 percent or so that you reported earlier is not just to reconstitute them, because they were basically rendered combat ineffective by extraordinary work by the Ukrainian forces. So, they have to be close back up, if you will, with people and vehicle and weapons systems.

But I think it will be interesting to see if they're not moved around and down to the southeast and brought in from the Russian side there to see if they can reinforce what are very costly, grinding gains by the Russians but that are gains nonetheless, which they have not achieved around Kyiv. They have been pushed back outside, the same around some of the other cities, which, of course, then the Russians plastered with indirect fires, missiles, rockets and bombs and so forth, as they did to Mykolaiv.

Keep in mind that Mykolaiv, although it sustained this terrible damage to the government building, they have stopped the Russians cold. And, of course, that was the effort to go west from Crimea to try to get to Odessa. It doesn't look to me as if they're going to be able to do that. So they're redoubling their effort in Southeast Ukraine to try to push out from those areas controlled by the separatists, Donetsk and Luhansk, the so-called Donbas, and then from areas again both south and to the northeast of there to push in as well and perhaps trap some of the Ukrainian forces that have really defended very effectively against the separatist push.

Keeping in mind that, of course, the number of battalion battalions fighting to really completely tighten the noose on Mariupol, which has become the Ukrainian Alamo, fighting to the last defender and keeping all kinds of forces engaged in doing that, when that does fall, and, tragically, it appears that that is coming in the next days or at least a week or so, they will be able to turn north as well. So, I think it bears very close watching.

I think this is a perilous time actually for Ukraine. They can, in a way, celebrate the ground successes outside Kyiv, Chernihiv and some others, Kharkiv, even though they are being again hit very hard by indirect fire himself. But they've now got to worry about the southeast. That could be where the Russians will try to make gains and, of course, to try to then get leverage that they can use at the negotiation table now that those negotiations have become, you know, somewhat in earnest.

BLITZER: Yes, I wouldn't give it too much a possibility but that's another matter.

As you know, just the tonight, President Zelenskyy has been warning that Russia is preparing for what he calls new attacks in the east. He also says Ukraine is, quote, ready to fight for every, in his words, meter of our land. Will Ukraine -- do you believe, General, will Ukraine be able to push back Russia in the east the way it has around Kyiv, for example, the capital?

PETRAEUS: Well, this is exactly what I was just explaining, Wolf, that they're going to move forces around to the east and try to push in there to reinforce what are modest gains by the Russians and very hard fought and very costly and grinding. But that's what they want to do.

And I think, again, this is why this is a worrisome moment for Ukraine. They don't have large reserves. They need desperately the additional arms, weapon systems, ammunition, and so forth. Senator Warren was talking about that with you and me during the break there. That is crucial. And so that's what we need to watch in the days, really, and weeks that lie ahead.

BLITZER: Yes., and getting those weapons to the Ukrainian military, not necessarily all that easy given what's going on on the ground over there. It's a real logistical problem.

General Petraeus, let's continue this conversation down the road. Thanks so much for joining us.

PETRAEUS: Always a pleasure, Wolf, thanks.

And for information about how you, our viewers can help humanitarian efforts in Ukraine, go to and help impact your world.

Just ahead, there's more breaking news. The Motion Picture Academy meeting moments ago and starting disciplinary action against Will Smith for his truly shocking attack on Chris Rock during the Oscars. We'll have the latest when we come back.



BLITZER: There is yet more breaking news coverage of the war in Ukraine coming up ahead. But, first, former President Trump's son-in- law, Jared Kushner, is set to appear voluntarily tomorrow before the House committee investigating the January 6th insurrection.

CNN Senior Legal Affairs correspondent Paula Reid is working the story for us. So, Paula, what should we expect from Kushner tomorrow?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Kushner will appear remotely, as many other witnesses have, before investigators on the House select committee. But not only is he Trump's son-in-law but Kushner was also a senior White House adviser. So, the focus of questioning will likely be the events of January 6th and efforts to overturn the election. But so far it, does not appear Kushner was really a central figure in those events.

Now, one other likely line of questioning is going to be whether he was the Jared communicating with Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. The committee, as we know, has text messages between Mrs. Thomas and then White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, where she is pressing him to try to overturn the election.

And in those texts, she references talking to a Jared.


Now, was that Jared Kushner, if it was, what were they talking about, certainly questions that could come up tomorrow.

Now, the Biden White House has said it will not assert executive privilege over Kushner's testimony. That's the same way it's handled most of the January 6th investigation. But, of course, Kushner has a right to invoke his Fifth Amendment right if he believes he has in criminal exposure in questions he's asked.

BLITZER: You are also, Paula, getting some new information about a different investigation into the president's son, Hunter Biden. What's the latest on that?

REID: Well, Wolf, sources tell CNN the investigation into Hunter Biden is heating up. Prosecutors have been discussing the strength of their case and whether charges may be warranted.


REID (voice over): A federal investigation into Hunter Biden has gained steam in recent months. CNN has learned from multiple sources that a flurry of witnesses have provided testimony and more are expected to talk to investigators in the coming weeks.

The U.S. attorney in Delaware is leading the probe into Biden's financial and business activities in foreign countries during the time his father was vice president. The probe, which began as early as 2018, has looked at whether Biden and some of his associates have violated money laundering, tax and foreign lobbying laws as well as firearm and other regulations. The Justice Department has gathered evidence from lobbyists, business partners and others who have observed Biden's financial dealings. At this point, though, Biden has not been charged with any crimes.

HUNTER BIDEN, PRESIDENT BIDEN'S SON: I am cooperating completely. And I am absolutely certain, 100 percent certain that at the end of the investigation, that I will be cleared.

REID: These questions have opened President Joe Biden up to political attacks. But according to sources who have been briefed, the president is not under investigation.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Where is Hunter? So, where is Hunter? I want to see Hunter asked these questions. REID: In 2019, the FBI took possession of a laptop purported to belong to hunter Biden. A computer repairman in Delaware showed reporters a copy of a subpoena.

BIDEN: There could be a laptop out there stolen from me. It could by that I was hacked. It could be that it was Russian intelligence. It could be that it was stolen from me.

REID: During the 2020 campaign, former President Trump's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, tried to generate media attention for what he said was damning evidence on that laptop.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Nobody believes it except his and his good friend, Rudy Giuliani.

REID: Investigators initially focused on tax issues and money transfers related to Hunter Biden's business activities in China. They've also examined his role while on the board of the Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, years ago. Biden has told associates he's paid outstanding tax bills but then investigators examined the source of the funds to pay those bills.

In recent months, investigators have begun discussing the strength of the case and whether more work is needed before seeking a decision on possible charges.

J. BIDEN: We have great confidence in our son. I am not concerned about any accusations made against him.


REID (on camera): President Biden has vowed not to interfere with the independence of the Justice Department. So, it's notable that early in his presidency, he decided to keep the Trump appointed U.S. attorney in Delaware, who oversees this investigation into his son instead of appointing his own person as is the usual practice when a new president takes office. Wolf?

BLITZER: Very interesting. Paula Reid, thank you very much of that update, for that report.

Breaking news next, new revelations from the Motion Picture Academy as it announces disciplinary proceedings for Will Smith for his violent Oscars outburst.



BLITZER: There's more breaking news we're following. The Motion Picture Academy releasing a statement just moments ago about Will Smith's violent attack on Chris Rock during the Oscars ceremony.

CNN's Brian Todd is working the story for us.

Brian, the Academy says it's now taking action against Smith. BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.

As you mentioned, just moments ago, a statement from the Academy saying that it has initiated disciplinary proceedings against Will Smith. They say his punishment may include suspension, expulsion, or other sanctions.

This comes as Chris Rock has just arrived in a theater at Boston, to take the stage for his comedy act, and possibly speak about all of this for the first time.


TODD (voice-over): Tonight, the board of governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences initiated disciplinary proceedings against actor Will Smith, for violating the Academy standards of conduct, according to a statement from the academy. Violations which it says include, inappropriate physical contact, abusive or threatening behavior, and comprising the integrity of the Academy when Smith slapped Chris Rock live at the Oscars.

CHRIS ROCK, COMEDIAN, OSCAR PRESENTER: That was a nice one, okay. I'm out here. Oh-uh, Richard.


ROCK: Oh, wow! Wow!

TODD: In its statement, the Academy also apologized to Rock, and said Will Smith was asked to leave the ceremony and refused.

Comedian Wanda Sykes, one of the three co-hosts of the Oscars, broke her silence on Ellen DeGeneres's talk show.

WANDA SYKES, CO-HOST OF OSCARS: I felt so awful for my friend. You know? Chris, and -- it was sickening. It is absolutely sickening. I physically felt ill, and I'm a little traumatized by it.

For them to let him stay in that room, and enjoy the rest of the show, and accept his award.


I was like, how gross is this? This is the wrong message, you know? You assault somebody, you get escorted out of the building, and that's it, you know? But for them to let him continue, I thought -- I thought it was gross.

TODD: Sykes's co-host Amy Schumer posted a statement on Instagram, saying she was still in shock, and stunned and sad.

An uncensored from a Japanese outlet shows how Rock and Smith reacted immediately afterwards.

ROCK: Will Smith just smacked the shit out of me.

WILL SMITH, ACTOR: Keep my wife's name out of your (EXPLETIVE DELETED) mouth.

ROCK: Wow, dude.

SMITH: Yeah.

ROCK: It was a "G.I. Jane" joke.

SMITH: Keep my wife's name out of your (EXPLETIVE DELETED) mouth.

TODD: How could the Academy punish Smith if it chooses to do that?

BILL CARTER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: I can see them possibly taking steps about his membership of the Academy. I mean, they could remove him from the Academy. They could take away his voting rights for future Oscar votes. They can take away his participation in other academy events. And they could ban him from coming back next year. I think that's most likely.

TODD: But most observers don't expect is for the Academy to take away the Oscar that Smith just won for the best actor in the movie "King Richard". The Academy didn't take Oscars away from Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, after sexual assault allegations were leveled against him. And director Roman Polanski was awarded an Oscar while he was a fugitive from the U.S., decades after he pled guilty with having unlawful sex with a minor.

The Academy did expel Weinstein, and once expelled Carmine Caridi for violating the Academy's voting rules.


TODD (on camera): As we mentioned, in just minutes, Chris Rock takes the stage in Boston for his stand up act. We will likely hear his first comments, his first public comments on the incident.

There is a look at Wilbur Theater from outside there, Wolf. It's going to be interesting to see what Chris Rocks says tonight.

BLITZER: Yeah, the crowds are already waiting to hear what Chris Rock has to say, at that event.

All right. Brian, we will have the latest on that coming up. Brian Todd reporting. We'll be right back.



BLITZER: Now streaming, CNN plus, with exclusive new content, including my show called "The Newscast", and "Parental Guidance" with Anderson Cooper.

He spoke with CNN's Clarissa Ward, who has done amazing reporting from Ukraine, about the challenges as a parent, working in a war zone.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, "AC360": You and I talked about this a little bit about this when we were in Ukraine, but I wanted to call because this is the first time I've had kids and travel in that amount of time. You obviously, I have two kids as well.

How old are your kids?


COOPER: A lot of parents deal with traveling. Obviously, you are traveling to war zones, in very various conflicts places. But how do you deal with that as a parent?

WARD: Honestly, I think I'm still working it out. It's really hard. It's really hard.

And anyone who says it is not is, you know, either worked something out that I have yet to work out, or they're lying. Because I feel like there is guilt, as a parent, with being away from your kids, even though you know it's for good reasons, and even if you know -- feel pretty confident that in the long, run you're going to be glad that you do the work you did, et cetera.

What for me has helped is like building this life for my children that exists without me in it as well.


BLITZER: Anderson is joining us now live, Anderson, a lot of parents struggle with balancing work and family life, would have the last few months been like for you?

COOPER: It's obviously been incredible, and amazing. But I was, you know, this -- going to Ukraine, I was there for three weeks, it was the first time that I have traveled with having two children, and particularly my youngest, Sebastian, was three weeks old when I left. He was six weeks old, seven weeks old now.

So, when I came back, my -- his other dad pointed out to me that I was gone for half of his life, which was really kind of made my -- I just felt terrible. And so, to a lot of parents go through, but it's really difficult, as Clarissa said. And it was a really interesting experience to kind of have it be your first assignment, and be away from your child and to try and face time and things like that.

But it's -- it's difficult with kids that age obviously, and it's -- it was an eye-opening experience for me.

BLITZER: Yeah, I'm sure it. Was talking about the war in Ukraine to your kids, are something that a lot of parents are struggling right now with, that's something that you're looking at for your next week's episode?

COOPER: Yes. Next, we're going to talk to a professor named -- she's written a lot of books about parenting. She has kids herself. Obviously, she's an economist, and it is about having difficult conversations with your kids of different ages.

And, obviously, you want to do things that are age-appropriate, but whether it is the war in Ukraine, or some other subject, just how she goes about it as a parent. And she has some advice that I'm -- I frankly could use, obviously I'm not going to be talking to my son Wyatt, who is two, about the war in Ukraine at this point.

But when do you bring up a subject, and do you bring it up before they have heard something about, it or do you wait for them to ask a question about it? So, what's nice about this program is that basically, the show "Parental Guidance" is I have no idea what I'm doing as a parent. I think a lot of parents feel that way.

But I do know what questions I want to ask people who do know a lot more than me. And I'm sort of learning as I hope the audience is.

BLITER: I know you're a terrific dad. There's no doubt about that. Anderson, thanks very much.

And to our viewers, you can watch new episodes of "Parental Guidance" with Anderson Cooper every Wednesday, only on CNN+.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM, I'll be back in half an hour on CNN+, with my new show, "The Newscast". Back at 9:00 p.m. Eastern later tonight on CNN.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.