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Source Says, Russians Caught Talking On Radio Of Killing Civilians; Ukraine Says, Escalating War In The East Will Be Reminiscent Of World War II; Senate Confirms Ketanji Brown Jackson To U.S. Supreme Court; Two Dead, Many Wounded In Tel Aviv Shooting Attack; Source: DOJ Investigating Trump WH Docs Taken To Mar-A-Lago. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired April 07, 2022 - 18:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'll see you in a few hours.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news, amid growing evidence of Russian atrocities in Ukraine, Kremlin troops are caught talking about killing civilians in intercepted radio messages, this as the United Nations' response to Vladimir Putin's brutality by suspending Russia from the U.N. Human Rights Council.

On the ground in Ukraine, a new warning that Russia's escalating onslaught in the east will be reminiscent of World War II. Civilians are urged to get out of the region right now before it is too late as desperation is growing in other parts of the country where invasion forces have turned cities into wastelands.

Also breaking, Democrats cheer a history-making vote in the United States Senate. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson has now been confirmed as the first black woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

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

There is a lot to cover in Ukraine this hour, including those damning radio intercepts of Russian troops talking about killing civilians. The intelligence underscoring the gruesome scenes we've all seen on the ground in Bucha and other Ukrainian cities. We're also following intensifying Russian attacks in eastern Ukraine.

Our correspondents are standing by in multiple war hotspots as well as in Brussels. First, let's go to our Chief International Anchor Christiane Amanpour. She's joining us from Kyiv right now.

Christiane, as the war shifts to the east, there is yet additional evidence of war crimes and atrocities by the Russians. Give us the latest.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, Wolf, as they continue to deny any targeting of civilians, there is more and more evidence that this is actually what has happened, certainly around the Kyiv area.

So, you mentioned the German intelligence, they say their intercepts have revealed conversations between troops and forces in the field and the Kremlin about killing soldiers and civilians, specifically in this case of intercept, as far as we know, in Bucha.

So, we also know that in Borodyanka, which is just outside of Kyiv as well, where I was yesterday, where the digging started to really try to see whether they could find any civilians under the rubble of what was tons and tons of civilian infrastructure that had been blasted to smithereens by Russian artillery.

We watched them start digging for bodies, for any survivors if they could. And today, the deputy prime minister office, he has says that they have recovered 26 bodies at least in that Borodyanka region. And we were told that the death toll there would be higher than in Bucha because it was about civilians who were trapped in these buildings which had been so mercilessly attacked.

Then, of course, we know from on the ground that the shift in Russian strategy has moved to the east and you heard the prime minister, rather the foreign minister here, say that it would look like World War II. And he means that the Russians have directed the full force of the next phase of their operation to the east and they're doing it not just with tanks and heavy artillery but with aircraft as well.

So, that is why the foreign minister was in Brussels and so passionately and urgently for material, for absolute weapon systems that they could continue to defend themselves with. Wolf?

BLITZER: So disgusting to see those images, those pictures. Christiane Amanpour, stay safe, we'll get back to you.

Also tonight, CNN is getting a firsthand look at another Ukrainian city where Russian troops left behind death and destruction. CNN's Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward is joining us right now from Chernihiv.

Clarissa, Russian forces just recently withdrew from the area where you're standing right now. Tell our viewers what you're seeing on the ground.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, Wolf, I just want to explain, you can see it is completely black behind me, and that's because there is still a total blackout in effect here in Chernihiv.

People here don't believe that Russian forces won't be coming back. We're so close to the border with Belarus, just 45 miles away. This was one of the first targets of Russian forces. They completely encircled the city. They laid siege to it. There was no power, no water, no food, no heat. And then there was just incredible bombardment, relentless bombardment, Wolf, missiles, shelling raining down on this city for more than a month.

[18:05:02] And if you are in the city center, things look relatively untouched. But if you go towards the northern part of the city, you quickly see the massive scale of the devastation and the huge toll that that devastation has taken on the city. According to the mayor's office, 350 civilians were killed by bombardment alone and they estimate many more people died because they simply couldn't get to the hospital.

We traveled to the morgue outside of the hospital. You see these makeshift caskets that they've had to build because they didn't have enough coffins and people weren't producing any more coffins. They've even created a new cemetery because the shelling was so heavy, Wolf, that people weren't able to go to the main cemetery.

They cleared a wood and basically dug large trenches, put the bodies inside those trenches and then put small name placards so that people would be able to go and try to find their loved ones.

And what we saw when we visited there today, was just a heartbreaking scene with multiple families looking around, desperately trying to find their loved ones. I spoke to one woman and her daughter, who were looking for her husband, her father, who had gone out to get some water during the worse of the siege. He was killed by shelling. And for weeks now, they've been trying to locate him at the morgue and now in the cemetery.

So, even though Russian forces, Wolf, have now pulled out of this area, there is still a sense of disbelief that this could actually be over. And I think this is very much a city that is still trying to get its arms around the full scale of the devastation and the loss that this city has incurred, Wolf.

BLITZER: You know, and it is not just Chernihiv and Bucha and these other villages and towns and cities all over the country. Look what the Russians have done to this country, which posed actually no threat at all to Russia at all. Clarissa Ward, good to have you on ground for us but be careful over there as well.

Meanwhile, the United Nations took new action against Russia today in response to the horrors being exposed in Ukraine.

CNN's International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson is in Brussels for us. Nic, the United Nations voted to suspend Russia from the U.N. Human Rights Council.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIMPLOMATIC EDITOR: A very significant move because it puts President Putin and Russia on the path to becoming an international pariah. President Putin prides himself, takes pride for Russia, that Russia plays with the big players on the world stage, if you will, that it sits on bodies like the U.N. Human Rights Council. To be thrown off and to be thrown off by countries that Putin thought might support him, the U.N. is an even bigger humiliation.

Will it change the tide of the war and how he fights the war in Ukraine? Unlikely. But it is a significant message to him. CNN has seen a letter that Russia sent to some members of the U.N. warning them to vote against it rather than abstaining.

And I'll give you one example of one country, we don't know if this country received the letter, but India, a big partner, a big military partner with Russia in the past, last week, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visits India, meets top officials. The same day, the British foreign secretary, Liz Truss, visits India, meets with top officials. India decides not to vote. It abstains. So, it doesn't give support to Russia. And that is a very clear message for Putin.

So, he begins to get the picture of what this isolation that he's thumbed his nose at is really going to look like.

BLITZER: That is a good point. And, Nic, also today, Russia admitted suffering what it called significant losses on the battlefield as a result of this invasion. Let's listen to the Kremlin's top spokesman.


REPORTER: Let's go through, you've loss thousands of troops. How many troops should be lost?

DMITRY PESKOV, KREMLIN SPOKESMAN: We have significant losses of troops and it's a huge tragedy for us.

REPORTER: Does Mr. Putin worry about ending up in a war crimes court?

PESKOV: No, he is not.

REPORTER: Have you talked to him about that? Does he realize that it is a possibility?

PESKOV: Well, we don't see any possibility for that.


BLITZER: Nic, on the one hand, Russia admits its invasion has been costly but the Kremlin is continuing to brazenly deny committing war crimes. Give us what else is going on right now.

ROBERTSON: Yes. I think when you hear from Dmitry Peskov say those significant losses, huge tragedy, this is significant that he would say it. He is President Putin's spokesman. He is a Kremlin spokesman. So many times when he deals with journalists, he's either not in the inner circle, not in the loop.


He doesn't commit himself very much. Here, he was really speaking with the authority of the Kremlin.

So, this seems that the Kremlin is paying attention. It's clear that they know what is going on. They're willing to articulate it. But he was also asked in that same interview, look, was this -- does this show that the Kremlin got it wrong, that it was humiliated over its attempts to take the capital of Kyiv, and he said, no, that would be a wrong reading of what happened. This was a gesture by Moscow that they were sort of willing to put something on the peace table, if you will. And the Russian foreign minister has criticized Ukraine today for, he says, changing what they, the Ukrainians, prepare to put on the peace table.

Look, I think the Kremlin here is hurting over this but this is what they're telling us. We don't know if they're leveling up in the same way with their own population, which would be much bigger and much more significant, Wolf.

BLITZER: It certainly would be. All right, Nic Robertson, in Brussels for us, thank you.

Just ahead I'll speak with the president of the European parliament who just travelled to Kyiv to meet with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and to address a special session of the Ukrainian parliament.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.



BLITZER: We have an update right now on a very disturbing story we brought you last night here in THE SITUATION ROOM. And a warning to our viewers, some of these images are graphic.

We now know the identity of the Ukrainian civilians simply gunned down by a Russian tank totally unprovoked simply by walking a bike through the town of Bucha. The horrifying scene was captured in a video taken by a drone. Her name is Iryna Filkina, a 52-year-old mother of two. Her identity was confirmed by one of her daughters who tells CNN her mom stayed behind in Bucha so she could help people. She spent a week feeding her neighbors and cooking for the Ukrainian military before she was killed.

Filkina's makeup instructor, tell CNN she recognized her body by the sight of her distinctive red manicure, seen here in this gruesome photo taken on a street where the bodies of at least 20 other civilians were left by retreating Russian forces.

Joining us now to discuss Russia's atrocities is the president of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, who just met with President Zelenskyy in Kyiv. A very courageous decision on your part to go to Kyiv, President.

Let's talk about why, even after the massacre in Bucha, why is Ukraine still forced to plead with the west for what they say they need, weapons, weapons, weapons?

ROBERTA METSOLA, EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT PRESIDENT: Well, thanks for having me, Wolf. Good evening. First of all, this was exactly the message that President Zelenskyy gave to me one week ago, that there was a sense of urgency, that weapons were needed, that logistical, financial and humanitarian assistance was needed. And these are crucial days for us where the worst thing we could do is turn our backs or turn away from that urgency. The pictures that you've just shown, what we've seen over the past few days means that this war is not going to end any time soon. And this is -- these are crime scenes that we are seeing, war crimes are being committed and it is our responsibility as Europe, as European Union to help our Ukrainian brothers and sisters and their courage and their bravery who are fighting in what is essentially our war.

BLITZER: You made that very risky trip to Kyiv last week to meet with President Zelenskyy, to address a special session of the Ukrainian parliament. Why was it so important to go there and risk your life in the Ukrainian capital?

METSOLA: Well, it was a difficult decision but it was necessary. And I felt I had the responsibility to look at my fellow colleagues in the Ukrainian parliament in the eyes and say, I am going to do my very best and ensure that we will never, ever, first of all, leave Ukraine alone and never ever forget what has been done by Russia and Putin's Russia in what is such a brutal, unprovoked and ultimately unnecessary invasion into a sovereign country.

And I also wanted to meet with President Zelenskyy and really see what is needed and how, with the institution that I lead, parliamentarians from across all European countries, we can also put the pressure. We had a vote earlier today in Strasburg, in France, where we took a decision to go further than we have gone so far as Europe.

We've been very united so far, unprecedented sanctions, unprecedented amount of assistance given but it is clear that this is not enough. And therefore, we would like to make sure that we don't, you know, find our children telling us in a few years saying, you could have saved Ukrainians, you could have saved Europe by making sure that this moment of political reckoning that we have, we do not fail, let's say, the world in taking leadership in helping Ukraine.

BLITZER: Yes. It is so hard to believe this is going on right now in the year 2022 in Europe.

Ukraine warns that this full scale ground invasion by the Russians in the eastern part of Ukraine, and I'm quoting now, will remind you of the Second World War. What specifically do the E.U., the European Union, the United States and the other NATO allies, what do they need to do, President, right now to prevent Russia from carrying out more atrocities like we've seen in Bucha and elsewhere?


METSOLA: Well, I think we need to do everything to isolate Putin and his allies, Kremlin and Russia. What we are doing today is funding, whether directly or indirectly, this war. While at the same time, we are not effective enough in delivering the necessary amount of weapons that Ukraine needs to defend itself because this is ultimately self- defense of a country of its territorial integrity and its democracy.

So, what we need to make sure is that we don't slide away, we don't look away, we don't find ourselves in a few months time looking at a war that is still going on but we have not been effective enough. And our message to Russia has to be, we are not afraid of what you say. We are not afraid of your threats. We are going to counter your propaganda. We are going to counter your narrative that you are trying to use with intimidation.

We've had, Wolf, countries that are neighboring Russia for years, warning that this would happen. And, in fact, it did happen. Even when a few days or an even a few hours before the invasion happened, there were still people saying, no, this will never happen in 2022, in our Europe.

What are we seeing today? Women and children, classic war scenes that are bearing the brunt of the war on our continent. I am part of a generation that took peace for granted, that looked at values such as democracy, justice and freedom as something that would never be threatened. But they are being threatened and we cannot let Russia get away with it, either directly or indirectly. We won't let it happen.

BLITZER: You're absolutely right. Roberta Metsola, thank you so much for joining us, the President of the European Parliament. We will continue for sure this conversation. I appreciate all you are doing. Thank you.

METSOLA: Thank you.

BLITZER: Coming up, CNN is with refugees on board an evacuation train fleeing their homes possibly forever.

And a major story here in the United States, the confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first black woman to serve on the United States Supreme Court. We'll discuss the historic vote with Senator Cory Booker.



BLITZER: There is a dire new warning right now about Russia's assault on Southern Ukraine. A Ukrainian commander says Kremlin forces are trying to wipe the besieged city of Mariupol off the face of the earth. Many Mariupol residents are fleeing for their lives right now.

CNN's Senior International Correspondent Ivan Watson rode on a train packed with refugees simply trying to escape the worst of this war.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Ukrainian families on the run. More than a month after Russia invade, civilians are still fleeing from the threat of the Russian military, hurrying towards a waiting train.

An air raid siren rings out as the train begins to move. This couple just a few minutes too late. The evacuation train is now leaving the station. They're about 1,100 passengers on board this train. All of them are evacuees who are traveling for free. They'll be traveling for the next 24 hours. This train carrying this human cargo to safety in Western Ukraine.

The war forced everyone here to flee their homes, including the crew of the train. Head Conductor Sergey Hrishenko ran the last train out of the city of Mariupol on February 25th, the day after Russia launched its invasion. There have been to trains from Mariupol since as a month long Russian siege has destroyed much of the city.

SERGEY HRISHENKO, HEAD CONDUCTOR: My whole team, 20 conductors, everybody left with me. Many of them were made homeless, lost their apartments, some of them lost relatives.

WATSON: Hrishenko says his team spent the next month living and working on the train non-stop, struggling to evacuate crowds of desperate and panicked Ukrainians specially during the first week of the war.

Sergey estimates that during the month that he and his team were working, they evacuated around 100,000 people.

These days, the crowds have gotten smaller but strangers are still packed together for this long trip. Everyone seems to be fleeing a different part of Eastern Ukraine.

Galina Bondarenko fled her village outside the city of Zaporizhzhia with her 19-year-old son after enduring two weeks of Russian shelling.

GALINA BONDARENKO, FLED RUSSIAN INVASION: I feel outrage, complete outrage and I feel fear when they are shooting.

WATSON: Some evacuees brought their pets.

The kitten is handling the train ride a little bit better than the puppy.

The two families sharing this compartment met each other on the train for the very first time.

I've been speaking with Katia, who is eight months pregnant and she's traveling alone with her daughter heading west because they don't know what will happen.


And I asked, where are you going to give birth to your child? and she said, well wherever it is safe right now.

And that is just -- that is just an example of one family. She's left her husband behind. He's serving in the military right now.

Further down the train, I meet a group of women and children who just escaped Southern Ukraine.

How long did you live under Russian military occupation?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One month. One month from 27th February.

WATSON: How would you describe that experience?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of this time, I went outside only two times just because I hear a lot of cases of --



WATSON: In addition to hearing unconfirmed stories of rape, the women tell me they have seen drunk and filthy Russian soldiers asking residents for supplies, like food and toilet paper.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Their flag just were on our building, main building.

WATSON: Which flags did they put?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Russia flags, just like that.

WATSON: On the police station?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everywhere. They just love this I think. And they think that flag can change our minds, our Ukrainian minds but it is not working like this. I want the Russian people also to come back on their land. They have a lot of land, just a lot of land on their map. And I hope it will be enough for them just because enough, stop, please. It is very painful for everyone here, for everyone in this train, and outside it's -- it was very peaceful life without these attacks.

WATSON: I've gotten off after a relatively short journey. This train still has more than 20 hours to go across country. It will end up in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv. But for most of the more than 1,100 evacuees on board all forced to flee their homes by this terrible war, their final destination is likely unclear.


WATSON (on camera): Now, Wolf, we could expect probably an increase of people fleeing now. The governor of Dnipro, it's one of the biggest cities in eastern Ukraine, has urged women, children and the elderly to leave, anticipating an escalation and hostilities coming from the Russian military in the east.

And meanwhile, the governor of the Luhansk region has called for evacuations and has said that the Russians, he's accused them of bombing an overpass and stranding 500 evacuees in a train station. He's calling that railroad out a road of life for tens of thousands of people to escape the war and it is now blocked. Wolf?

BLITZER: It is horrible. It is horrifying as well. Ivan Watson, thank you very much for that report. Stay safe over there. We're going to have much more on the war in Ukraine just ahead, but right now, I want to turn to another major breaking story, the United States Senate voting to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson to the United States Supreme Court. Democrats cheered as you could hear after the mostly party line vote. Only three Republicans broke ranks and supported Judge Jackson's nomination.

Joining us now, one of the senators who voted yes to Jackson's nomination, of course, Democrat Cory Booker. Senator, thank you so much for joining us.

What went through your mind as you took in this truly historic confirmation in the U.S. Senate chamber today?

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): I mean, the energy in that room and the overwhelming emotion was just laid evident. I talked to staff, people who work the floor in the Senate that have been there for of them decades, they have never seen a confirmation vote like that, where you could feel the electricity, the anticipation and when that final vote came, I just was overwhelmed and it is almost like you could witness the arc of the more universe bending a little bit more towards justice in our country and a long pathway of struggle to be a more perfect union really would be advanced.

BLITZER: Yes and once she's sworn in, she's a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, for what, 30, maybe 40 years, she's going to be around for a long time.

I want to play this moment for you, Senator. A moment, a memorable moment during her confirmation hearing. Watch this.


BOOKER: You got here how every black woman in America who has gotten anywhere has done. By being -- like Ginger Rogers said, I did everything Fred Astaire did but backwards in heels.


BLITZER: That was really a memorable moment. How much more difficult was this process for Ketanji Brown Jackson as a black woman, especially during those totally and incredibly partisan times?


BOOKER: Well, this is what I know. There is a lot of hurt in America and a lot of private pain of people who were qualify were confident but were disrespected, disregarded or just plain dissed, frankly. I think a lot people feel an aching sadness in their lives for having those experiences so often.

And this for, I think, a lot of Americans, black and white, people of all backgrounds, this was a healing. This was a time to rejoice, to see someone overcome all of the obstacles we know she faced and many more we don't know. And so I think this is more than just a normal hearing. I think that when people saw not all of my Republican colleagues, not even most of them, but when some of them kind of went to lines of questioning that were seeming insulting and demeaning and degrading or just plain filthy, frankly, I think there were a lot of people that felt like that their wounds were being poked as well, like they were hurting. And to see her rise above all of that to this moment today, I think, gives so many people a sense of joy.

BLITZER: Yes, and I'm sure you're right. The confirmation vote was actually delayed a bit by Republican Senator Rand Paul. And on Tuesday, this past Tuesday, Republican Senator Tom Cotton spurred outrage for simply saying that Judge Jackson, he said this, it is hard to believe he said it, but he said that she would have defended the Nazis at Nuremberg. How do you think history will remember some of this Republican treatment of a future justice?

BOOKER: Well, this is why I've been perplexed by a lot of comments I've heard during this whole process. Remember, she was endorsed by the biggest law enforcement unions there are. That is a hard thing to pull off.

She was endorsed by not only Democratic-appointed judge but Republican-appointed judges. She was endorsed by leaders of major victims' rights organizations. So, here is a person that has brought about bipartisan support outside of Washington kind of bipartisan support of people that knew she would be a fair jurist.

And she sided when she was on her various positions rising up from the sentencing commission to her time now on the circuit. She sided with Republicans against Democrats, Democrats against Republicans. This is going to be the kind of justice that will make America proud. And the voices you hear, as I quoted Maya Angelou, may write me down in history with your bitter twisted lies, you may try to trod me in the very dirt but still like dust I rise. And today we now know she's going to rise to the highest court in the land.

BLITZER: It's taken a long time but finally here a very historic moment indeed. Thank you so much, Senator Booker, for joining us.

BOOKER: Thank you very much.

BLITZER: Just ahead, Ukraine warns the Russian escalating invasion in the eastern part of the country could rival World War II.



BLITZER: Breaking news. Even as Russian forces pull back from the region surrounding the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, they continue to pound and pound cities in the south with heavy artillery and rocket attacks.

CNN's Senior International Correspondent Ben Wedeman has this story from the devastated city of Mykolaiv. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This has become Mykolaiv's daily routine, picking up the pieces, sweeping away the wreckage from the Russian missile attacks. Random shelling throughout the city with what appear to be cluster munitions.

Glass shards and shrapnel tore into Marina. As she lies in a hospital, her thoughts are with her teenager also injured now at a children's hospital.

My daughter and I were caught between two bombs, she recalls. It is a miracle we're still alive. It was terrifying.

WEDENMAN: The hospital where Marina is recovering was hit in the morning. Dirt covers the blood from one of the injured.

Closed circuit television video from the city's cancer hospital captures moment it was struck. Earlier this week, a missile barrage killed nine people and wounded more than 40 at this market.

We were able to count 23 impact points in a radius of just 100 meters. And each one of these incoming rounds sprays shrapnel in every direction.

Danilo was working in this store and rushed outside when he heard the blasts.

Over there, a woman was screaming, help me. Her leg was shattered, he says. Behind the store, two people were killed. Dried blood and flowers mark the spot where people died.

Last week, a bomb struck the regional governor's office killing 36 people. Every day in Mykolaiv, this relentless bombardment shatters any semblance of normal life.

Mid-afternoon and people line up to escape the danger this bus bound for Poland. Victoria cradles her one-year-old daughter Ivanna (ph). Her husband stays behind.

Soon, we'll be back home, says Victoria. Everything will be all right. How soon that will be, nobody knows.


WEDEMAN: And it is important to point out that these cluster bombs are anti-personnel weapons. They are intended to kill, maim, demoralize and terrorize the population. But even though we are seeing some people leaving, for the most part, those we've spoken to say they're going to stay in this city, a city that has already survived an initial onslaught by the Russians and is now fearing there could be another. Wolf?

BLITZER: These are courageous people. Ben Wedeman in Mykolaiv for us, Ben, thank you very much. Stay safe over there as well.


Let's take a closer look at the intensifying battle in eastern Ukraine right now.

Brian Todd is over at the magic wall with the retired U.S. Air Force colonel, CNN military analyst Cedric Leighton.

Brian, tell our viewers what is going on.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, today, Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley said the Ukraine war is going to be a long slog, that the Russians are amassing their forces, gathering more forces for assaults in the south and east.

And, Colonel, what we could tell you from today that battles are being fought near the town of Izyum and Slavyansk. What is the importance of those two cities right now?

CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: So, Brian, those two cities are really important because they are on what is called the MO3 which is a highway that goes through Izyum and Slavyansk, goes also through Kharkiv and beyond that to Kyiv. And it is the main artery for this part of Ukraine.

It is also a juncture where the roads come down here and down to Donetsk. So it is a critically an important transportation area.

TODD: OK. We're going to talk about Barvinkove. There was a railway overpass hit today, blocking a civilian egress. But Mariupol we need to talk about. A Ukrainian commander says the Russians want to wipe it off the face of the earth.

Colonel, why do that when most of the city looks like this. What are you fighting for?

LEIGHTON: So, Brian, yeah, we have, according to Ukrainian officials, and 90 percent of the buildings in Mariupol are destroyed, 40 percent completely gone. And what that means though is that the Russians are looking at this, not because of that, because bad real estate. But what they want to do is build that land bridge between their occupied areas and the areas that they have all the way down to Ukraine.

So, their occupied areas, their separatist areas, and then they want to connect those.

TODD: All right. And we really don't have any more time left, but, Colonel Leighton and I, Wolf, were talking about drones. We know that the delivery of the switchblade drones is taking place. They've been sent to the Ukrainians. They should have them really any moment. Now that will make a difference in the battles of the east.

BLITZER: Certainly will, guys. Thank you very, very much. Brian Todd, Colonel Cedric Leighton, helping us appreciate the military aspect of what's going on.

Up next, there's more breaking news we're following. At least two people are dead, many more wounded after a shooting attack in Tel Aviv, Israel.



BLITZER: There is also breaking news out of Israel where at least two people are dead, many more wounded in a shooting attack right in the heart of Tel Aviv.

Journalist Lauren Izso is joining us right now. She's on the scene where the attack took place.

So, Lauren, how did this unfold? And what are the ongoing risks tonight?

LAUREN IZSO, JOURNALIST: Well, there is a manhunt underway in Tel Aviv right now after like you said a shooting attack took place. In the bar you see right behind me, really in the heart of Tel Aviv. It all started around 9:00 p.m. where on Thursday night, this part of the city is just filled with people, usually filling the bars and restaurants right ahead of the weekend.

The shooting attack took place, like I said, around 9:00 p.m. when all those people were sitting and enjoying tonight out. Around midnight, security services, emergency services confirmed that two people had died as a result of the attack. Both men around the age of 30, and there are several wounded.

Emergency services in the hospital that are treating the wounded say that they are currently fighting for the lives of four of those wounded people that were shot in that attack. This is the fourth such fatal attack and one of Israel's main cities in just a few weeks. Because of the strength of attacks, security has been ramped up all around the country.

Now, this -- like you said, this manhunt still continues around the country. They have not found shooter yet. They say he might still be in Tel Aviv.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett released a statement following the attack, saying: Wherever that terrorist is, we will get to him. Everyone that helped him directly or indirectly will pay a price.

So, Wolf, this is very much an ongoing situation. It might take us into the night and into tomorrow, we'll see what happens.

BLITZER: There's been a recent wave of shooting attacks in Israel. The country is nervous, understandably so right now.

Lauren Izso in Tel Aviv for us, thanks for that report.

Just ahead, a new U.S. Justice Department investigation about the Trump White House records that turned up at Mar-a-Lago.



BLITZER: Tonight, a new twist in the January 6 investigation involving the Trump White House records that actually turned up on the former presidents Florida home, Mar-a-Lago.

Our senior legal affairs correspondent Paula Reid is joining us right now.

Paula, what are you learning?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the Justice Department has begun investigating handling the 15 boxes of White House records, including classified investigations taken to Mar- a-Lago after Trump left office. The FBI and Justice Department, prosecutors routinely conduct a review when classified materials are found to be handled or stored in a way that doesn't meet government requirements.

Of course, in this case, the former president moved materials from the White House to his private club in Florida, which will certainly appear to fall outside normal protocols. The Justice Department is also blocking national archives for sharing details was in those boxes with congressional investigators. Again, not unusual for a government agency to limit the information shared with Congress while an investigation is ongoing.

But, there might be another way to get some insight into what we're in those boxes for lawmakers. The House Select Committee said it will consider to invite Trump to appear before the panel, after the former president told "The Washington Post" that he was open to the idea, depending on what the specific requests was from the committee.

Now, the chairman committee says if they reach out, it will be a request for Trump to appear voluntarily and they would likely issue a subpoena, as they've done with other Trump aides.

But, Wolf, we all know this by is apparent willingness to answer questions, Trump has repeatedly evoke executive privilege to block the committee from obtaining Trump White House documents. So, we'll see.

BLITZER: The daughter and son-in-law appeared voluntarily before the committee. We will see if he decides to appear voluntarily before the committee.

Paula Reid, thank you very much.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. I will be back in a half hour on our new streaming service, CNN+, called "The Newscast". It's always available on demand. Thanks very much for watching.

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