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The Situation Room

Russia Frees U.S. Marine Veteran Trevor Reed In Prisoner Swap; Major Wartime Escalation, Russia Cuts Gas To Two E.U. Nations; Putin Vows Lightning-Fast Response To Interference In Ukraine; Moderna Seeks COVID Vaccine Authorization For Kids Under 6. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired April 28, 2022 - 18:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: -- in effect.


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Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer right next door in a place I like to call The Situation Room. See you tomorrow.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news, Russia attacks the Ukrainian capital for the first time in weeks. President Zelenskyy now says five missiles hit Kyiv during the U.N. Secretary- general's visit to the city. Was the Kremlin sending a message? We'll get an update on the state of the war from the Pentagon Press Secretary, John Kirby.

Also breaking, President Zelenskyy is vowing to punish Russians responsible for war crimes in Bucha, promising to find these, quote, bastards. This hour, I'll speak with the top Ukrainian prosecutor who just identified ten Russian soldiers suspected of atrocities.

And CNN has obtained exclusive photos of the Bucha slaughter taken in real time.

Our correspondents are standing by in the war zone and over at the White House as Russia's invasion of Ukraine enters its tenth week.

We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in The Situation Room.

Let's get right to the breaking news tonight, Russia renewing attacks on Kyiv, hitting just east of the city center. President Zelenskyy condemned the strikes just a little while ago.

CNN's Anderson Cooper is joining us live from the Ukrainian Capital of Kyiv. Anderson, this was a brazen attack on Kyiv, the first in weeks. You were there. Set the scene for us. What happened? ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, the attacks took place earlier today, several miles from the location where we're at right now. You can see the large plume of smoke in the sky after the strikes. According to Ukrainian officials, five missiles were fired, one of them hitting at or right into an apartment complex, a 25-storey apartment complex that started a fire.

They say the first two floors of that were partially destroyed. It took firefighters about an hour or so to put out the fire. According to officials, there were as many as ten people who were injured, a number of other people rescued from that burning structure.

And as you said, President Zelenskyy was very quick to point out that this strike took place while the U.N. secretary-general was still on the ground here. Their meeting with President Zelenskyy had just finished and certainly Russia was well aware of the secretary- general's itinerary, excuse me, as he had been coming directly from Moscow to meet with President Zelenskyy. Here's what the president said earlier.


PRES. VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRIANE: Today immediately after the end of our talks in Kyiv, Russian missiles flew into the city, five missiles. This says a lot about Russia's true attitude to global institutions, about the Russian leadership's efforts to humiliate the U.N. and everything that the organization represents, and, therefore, requires an appropriate powerful response.


COOPER: I should also point out, Wolf, that after Secretaries Blinken and Austin met with Zelenskyy here in Kyiv and took a train out to Poland, shortly after Russia blasted and sent missiles to several train stations in the west, through which or close to where those secretaries would have been traveling. So, Russia not above sending a message very clearly, and that is what President Zelenskyy is saying Vladimir Putin has just done to the secretary-general of the United Nations.

BLITZER: Yes, clearly sending a message. I have no doubt about that.

You also had a chance, I understand, Anderson, to visit Bucha. That's the site of some of the war's worst atrocities not very far away from the capital of Kyiv. And you got an even closer look into the horrors perpetrated by Russian forces. Tell us about that.

COOPER: Yes. This is really significant development. As you know, Russia has categorically denied any war crimes in Ukraine, particularly any war crimes in Bucha. They've said the satellite images of dead bodies on one particular street in Bucha while Russian forces were occupying the city, they say that those images have been faked.

When we went to Bucha, we met with the Bucha prosecutor who now exclusively told us for the first time revealed that they have not only eyewitness reports, surveillance camera images, but they also have an eyewitness who took pictures in real time as people were being killed on this one particular street in Bucha over the course of several days.


Prosecutors not only have the images that person took but they have the camera that that person used which has the metadata inside which will tell -- which will show exactly the day and the time and location, coordinates of where those photographs were taken.

Here's some of the report I filed from -- would show the images taken by a man in a house on the street where as many as seven people were shot to death.


COOPER (voice over): It was through these windows he saw the slaughter. This is one of his first pictures taken on March 5th. Two bodies reportedly killed that day were visible outside his window. On March 6th when this picture was taken, a third body is visible on the street. This video taken on March 7th shows at least two more bodies.

Ruslan Kravchenko says these images and the data in the camera phone they were taken with provides important proof of exactly who was killed and when.

RUSLAN KRAVCHENKO, BUCHA PROSECUTOR: It will prove that it was a particular phone that the pictures were taken with and also the time and the location that they were taken. The Russian Federation will not be able to continue on saying that this was set up or fakes.


COOPER (on camera): This is important, because just yesterday Vladimir Putin, when the secretary-general was there, actually two days ago, said that this has all been a provocation, Russian officials have said those bodies were placed there after Russian troops left. This shows that the bodies were there when Russian troops were there and they now have evidence directly that shows that, Wolf.

BLITZER: Anderson Cooper in Kyiv for us. Stay safe over there, Anderson. We'll be in touch. Thank you very, very much.

Just hours before this new attack on Kyiv President Biden warned that the United States would pay a huge price if it caves to Russian aggression in Ukraine. CNN's Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto has more on that in this report from Ukraine.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Tonight, President Biden standing firm.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Aggression will not win. Threats will not win. We are prepared for whatever they do. SCIUTTO: As Putin warns of retaliation should other nations interfere in the conflict in Ukraine and cuts off Russian natural gas supplies to neighboring countries.

BIDEN: We will not let Russia intimidate or blackmail their way out of these sanctions.

SCIUTTO: Biden rejected the notion that the Russian-led conflict was becoming a proxy war between Russia and the U.S. and NATO.

BIDEN: It shows the desperation that Russia is feeling about their abject failure.

No one should be making idle comments about the use of nuclear weapons or the possibility that they could use that. It's irresponsible.

SCIUTTO: U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the ground in Kyiv visiting the nearby towns of Bucha, Irpin and Borodyanka.

ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: No way a war can be acceptable in the 21st century. Look at that.

SCIUTTO: The bodies of more than a thousand civilians have been recovered in the region, the police chief says.

GUTERRES: Innocent civilians were living in these buildings. They were paying the highest price.

SCIUTTO: Guterres met with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy today, after meeting with Putin first in Moscow, Tuesday.

GUTERRES: This war must end. I'm here to say to you, Mr. President, and to the people of Ukraine, we will not give up.

SCIUTTO: Russia's assault is now focused on key areas in Eastern Ukraine. The U.S. now assesses that Russian forces are making, quote, slow and uneven progress in the Donbas in part because of Ukrainian resistance and poor Russian morale, this according to a defense official.

The Steel Plant in Mariupol in the south, the last Ukrainian military holdout in the city and shelter for hundreds of civilians hit by the heaviest Russian air strikes yet. This video is said to show the aftermath of shelling at a military field hospital on the steel plant's grounds.

The city of Kherson, under Russian occupation, rocked by explosions as well. Russians have now overtaken the local government, attempting to eradicate its Ukrainian identity, and yet video shows protesters chanting, glory to Ukraine, as tear gas is set off.


SCIUTTO (on camera): Some new reporting tonight, Wolf, and that is the latest U.S. assessment shows that Russia, Russian forces in the east are showing some improvement both in coordinating air and ground operations, also in resupply, two things they showed trouble with during their failed assault on Kyiv.

It is not clear yet whether that will be decisive in the area and the gains so far on the ground have been incremental, but it is improvement and it is showing that Russia to some degree at least is learning from mistakes it made in the north, something that I know that U.S. officials are watching very closely. Wolf?

BLITZER: They certainly are, Jim Sciutto on the scene for us in Lviv, in Ukraine for us, stay safe over there as well.


Jim, thank you very much.

Also tonight, President Biden is backing up his tough stance against Russia with a new request for another $33 billion in additional U.S. aid to Ukraine.

Let's go to our White House Correspondent M.J. Lee. M.J. what are you hearing, learning right now about this massive new aid package the president proposed today?

M.J. LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, $33 billion, that is, of course, a huge price tag that the president is requesting Congress to approve in supplemental funding for Ukraine.

So, let me just give you a breakdown of that $33 billion. We're talking about more than $20 billion in military and security assistance, some $8.5 billion in economic assistance and then another $3 billion in humanitarian assistance.

And to give you a sense of what that money would actually translate to, we are, of course, talking about weapons and equipment, like artillery, armored vehicles and anti-armor systems, equipment that the Ukrainians have been saying for awhile that they cannot get more of and fast enough.

And then we are also talking about money that would provide really just basic necessities, daily necessities, like food, water and medicine that would go towards the Ukrainian people as they are trying to survive out this war.

Now, this is money that U.S. officials say would help the Ukrainians for about five months, the president saying in his remarks today that he acknowledges that the cost of this fight is not cheap but he also said that he believes caving to Russia at this moment in time would actually end up being more costly in the long-term.

Now, Wolf, as you know very well the U.S. has been talking for awhile now about how they expected this war to be protracted. They expect this to drag out for awhile. But all of this was a stark reminder again just based on the price tag and then the fact that this is money allocated to last for about five months, that this is something that the U.S. is seeing as a long-term conflict. Wolf?

BLITZER: They certainly are. All right, M.J., thank you very much, M.J. Lee, at the White House.

Just ahead, we're going to get the U.S. military's first assessment of the new Russian missile strikes on the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv. Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby, there you see him, he's standing by live. We have got questions. He'll have answers when we come back.



BLITZER: We're back with the breaking news, Russia launching new missile strikes on the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, President Zelenskyy accusing Moscow of trying to humiliate the United Nations during the secretary-general's visit to Kyiv today.

Joining us now to discuss this and more, the Pentagon press secretary, John Kirby. John, thanks for joining us.

What is the U.S. assessment of these first Russian strikes on Kyiv in weeks, targeting the capital specifically while the U.N. secretary- general was there for a meeting with President Zelenskyy?

JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: Yes, we're still trying to analyze this and figure out what happened here, what was struck and with what kind of munitions. It's not totally unusual that they would strike into Kyiv but, again, we just don't know enough right now, Wolf.

We have seen in recent days and even over the last week or so strikes to the western part of the country. It appears as if most of those are designed by the Russians to hit military targets or targets that they think could affect the Ukrainians' ability to resupply, restock themselves.

So, again, we're still analyzing this. It's still pretty new. It's too soon exactly to know what happened here.

BLITZER: President Biden is asking Congress, as you well know, for an additional $33 billion in this fight for Ukraine, by far the largest U.S. aid package, at least so far. But is it enough, John, to give the Ukrainians the strategic, the military advantage they desperately need to win this war?

KIRBY: Well, you're right. This is a very sizable supplemental package that we're asking support from Congress and we believe that it's a tangible demonstration of how seriously we're taking the continued threat to Ukraine's sovereignty and to their livelihoods, to their people. And I think there's a lot in there. It's not just security assistance. There's humanitarian assistance, there's economic assistance. It's a complete package.

Now, here at the Pentagon, you're talking about $16 billion we're asking for, some of it will be used for drawdown authority to help us take stuff right from our stocks, some of it will be used for us to contract the actual production of additional weapons and systems and getting that in there. So, we very much hope that Congress will pass this speedily, so that we can get on to the business about providing this kind of assistance to Ukraine.

Now, look, I mean, whether it's enough or not, we're going to just -- we're going to keep doing everything we can to help Ukraine better defend itself. And the president has been nothing but clear about this, as much as we can, as fast as we can, this package is a perfect representation of how dedicated he is to that task.

BLITZER: And we checked, just to be precise, this new military aid package to Russia will bring additional artillery, armored vehicles, anti-armor systems and anti-aircraft capabilities to the Ukrainian military. How significant is that?

KIRBY: Those items, everything you cited there and the stuff that you have seen us provide in just the last couple of weeks are specifically designed to help the Ukrainians in this battle of the Donbas, a rural open, flat terrain, an area where Russians and Ukrainians have been fighting for eight years. They both know that terrain very, very well. And it's a kind of fighting that lends itself to what we call long- range fires and mechanized warfare, so tanks and armored vehicles in open ground.


That's why these howitzers are so important. That's why the counter- artillery radar is so important. That's why the armored vehicles that we're providing and other nations are providing are so important. Those Javelin anti-armor missiles, they're going to be crucial in this fight.

And we're already seeing in these early days, Wolf, there are Ukrainians push back and fight while the Russians are, in fact, trying to move south out of the northern part of that Donbas. It's a very kinetic fight right now, a very active combat zone.

BLITZER: The U.S. says Russia is making what the U.S. calls slow and uneven progress in the eastern part of Ukraine, but Ukraine admitted it has now lost several towns and villages on that front. Is Russia learning from its previous mistakes and taking more ground?

KIRBY: We believe that they're trying to, Wolf. They are trying to get better at integrating air and ground capabilities. They're trying to get better at command and control. They're trying to get better at logistics and sustainment.

That said, those are pretty high bars for them to cross. They have not done well and they don't have a military that is actually very adaptive that allows themselves, to change direction and to learn quickly. So, we have seen some preliminary signs that they're trying to get better at these things but it's too soon to say they've actually accomplished that. They still have a long way to go.

And so, yes, there has been some incremental progress by the Russians in the Donbas area, particularly in the north and the east of the Donbas area, but as I said, the Ukrainians are fighting back. And so on any given day you might see the Russians take a village or two and the Ukrainians take them back. And that's the kind of fighting that we're seeing.

And that's why the stuff that we're providing in this new supplemental package that we want to provide and the stuff that the president has already approved is so critical. It's getting there at record speed, Wolf. Within 48 hours from the last presidential drawdown and the president signing that off, we had the first howitzers showing up into Ukraine. That's just unprecedented.

BLITZER: Very impressive deed. All right, John Kirby at the Pentagon. Thanks very much. John Kirby is the Pentagon press secretary. Thank you.

Coming up, ten Russian soldiers accused of war crimes against Ukrainian civilians. We're going to talk about it with Ukraine's prosecutor general. That's next.



BLITZER: A Ukrainian girl orphaned and injured by the Russian invasion of her country wound up being used as a propaganda tool for Moscow before eventually being reunited with her remaining family. She shared her ordeal with CNN International Correspondent Matt Rivers.


MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): For Kira Obedinsky, her new iPad is everything. She's 12 after all. But the shiny screen is also a welcome distraction from an ordeal no 12-year- old should ever have to endure.

Because just a few weeks ago, the young Ukrainian wasn't safe like she is now in Kyiv but in a hospital run by Russian-backed separatists forcibly separated from her family.

When the Russians first invaded Mariupol, Kira's dad, Yeven (ph), was still alive. Her mom had died just after she was born. And when Russian bombs started to fall, they sheltered in a neighbor's basement, she recalls.

But they hit the house where we were staying, she says. We were buried in the cellar. Then the rescuers took us out of the wreckage. Her dad did not emerge, Kira told us. Now an orphan, she started to walk to try and find safety amidst chaos and then another explosion from a mine.

My friend saw something on the ground, she says and she hit it accidentally with her boot. The military came after the explosions and took us to a hospital because we were bleeding.

But in some ways, her journey was just beginning. In the chaos she was picked up by soldiers she says spoke Russian and eventually brought to a Russian-held area in Donetsk.

I was taken there at night, she says. They took shrapnel out of me, out of my ear. I screamed and cried a lot. It was shortly after this happened that CNN first learned about and reported Kira's story because Russia paraded it on state T.V.

State propagandists showed images of Kira in a Donetsk hospital and said she was being treated well. Convinced she was being mistreated, her family went public with her story and it worked. A deal between Russia and Ukraine allowed her grandfather to travel to Russia and bring her back to Kyiv, where she told us what Russian state T.V. did not.

It's a bad hospital there. The food there is bad. The nurses scream at you, the bed is bent like this. There wasn't enough space for all of us inside. None of that came out on Russian state T.V. Her injuries have largely healed now though she'll stay in the hospital a little longer.

It was there that someone gave her that iPad after a presidential visit came bearing gifts this week. She didn't love all that attention, though, so for now she says she just wants to see her cat and spend time with her grandfather recovering from the horrors of war one game at a time.


RIVERS (on camera): And, Wolf, think about the absurdity of Russian state propaganda here. They're holding Kira up as some sort of an example of their own alleged humanity in this war and yet the only reason she's in their care in the first place in Donetsk is because the Russian military killed her father during a war that Russia started.


It's just yet another example of Russia's state propaganda and their twisted narrative.

BLITZER: Heartbreaking story indeed. Matt Rivers, thank you very, very much.

We have more now on the breaking news, the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vowing just a little while ago that Russian forces who committed atrocities in Bucha not far from Kyiv, the capital, will face justice. Zelenskyy saying and I'm quoting him now, none of these bastards will avoid responsibility.

And joining us now, the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, Iryna Venediktova. Iryna, thank you so much for joining us.

I know that today you announced that ten Russian soldiers have been identified today as the culprits of those horrific human rights abuses in Bucha. Who are these men, and how did you identify them?

IRYNA VENEDIKTOVA, PROSECUTOR GENERAL OF UKRAINE: Hello, dear Wolf, and your great audience. Thank you very much that you are having me today. Yes, this (INAUDIBLE) we presented today charges as a suspect of committing war crimes in Bucha to ten Russian soldiers. It is first suspicions in Bucha. As a result of the (INAUDIBLE) prosecutors and investigators in a very short period, for Ukraine, it's very short period.

We have identified these ten perpetrators who were involved and committing atrocities in Bucha. They took unarmed civilians hostage, deprived them of food and water, abused and tortured them and even staged mock execution. We have also established that they alleged the occupied area.

I would also like to note that all perpetrators belong to 64th Separate Motorized Infantry Brigade. This is the unit to which only several days ago Putin avoided the honorary title of (INAUDIBLE) for defending motherland and state interests.

This is proof that atrocities in Bucha but not only there were undertaken as a planned action. Hence, command, control and ordering of atrocities against Ukrainian will not go unpunished.

Not only regular soldiers, these ten Russian soldiers who committed crimes, will be held liable, but we are talking about the commander responsibility. Under international law, commanders have the duty to ensure that the troops respect that body of law during armed conflict and hostilities. Failure to do so, which has clearly the case, gives rise to liability.

BLITZER: Well, let me just press you on that. Because, as you mentioned, this Russian brigade was recently honored by Putin. Do you believe their order, the brigade's order, these soldiers, the orders that they received came directly from higher up and maybe from Putin himself?

VENEDIKTOVA: We saw this in use actually and I think it's enough for us that he spoke about them and honored them and actually concrete these brigades was in Bucha and concrete these soldiers of this brigade, we started to prosecute them in total (ph) for our civilian people.

BLITZER: Iryna, what's your message to Russian soldiers who may be inclined to commit these kinds of war crimes down the road against Ukrainians?

VENEDIKTOVA: I understand that Russian soldiers, they are not educated. They don't know English language. They don't know law. They don't know absolutely simple rules, unfortunately. I can speak only with civilized world and I want to say to whole civilized and free community that our main goal, our main goal as Ukrainian prosecutors to collect now all evidences in war crimes in crimes against humanity.

We started the case about genocide from first days of war. The crime of aggression, very important for us. And we will do everything to -- that all people who are responsible for this aggressive, brutal war should be punished because they were not punished, not the Chechnya, neither Georgia, Syria and other countries. I think that our main goal to all civilized world to do something with international mechanisms, do them strong to stop, to punish, to prevent.


BLITZER: Iryna Venediktova, thank you so much for joining us. I know we will want to continue this conversation down the road. I appreciate it very much.

VENEDIKTOVA: Thank you very much. Have a good, constructive day. Thank, dear Wolf.

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

Just ahead inside the fight to get U.S. Marine Veteran Trevor Reed released from Russia. We're learning right now new information about the intense negotiations.


BLITZER: Right now we're learning more about the months' long frustrating to get former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed out of Russia where he was detained for more than two years. CNN's Brian Todd is working the story from us.

So, Brian, I understand some riveting fascinating new details are emerging tonight.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The details are incredible, Wolf. We have new information tonight on the behind the scenes maneuvers of so many dedicated people, from President Biden to people at the midlevel most bureaucratic echelons of the U.S. Government, to Trevor Reed's parents.


TODD (voice over): On the tarmac in turkey a scene out of a cold war thriller as Trevor Reed's parents tell it when their son was exchanged for convicted Russian drug smuggler Konstantin Yaroshenko.

JOEY REED, TREVOR REED'S FATHER: He said it was crazy. They park the planes next to each other and got out and crossed paths with each other like something in a movie. We asked him if he said anything to Mr. Yaroshenko.

As they passed on the tarmak.

And he said, no, but we kind of looked at each other.

TODD: But that movie ready moment was preceded by years of behind- the-scenes maneuvering by U.S. negotiators to get Trevor Reed out of Russian custody an administration official tells CNN. Tonight, CNN has new information from government sources unlocking some of the mystery behind those talks. One crucial move, a trip to Moscow in February coordinated with the White House by former U.S. Ambassador Bill Richardson and his team which privately works to free American detainees. Richardson tells us they met with top Russian officials one day before Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine.

BILL RICHARDSON, AIDED TREVOR REED'S RELEASE FROM RUSSIA: They were ready to talk. I must say the tension was very high. I must be honest, I wanted not to stay very long because I sensed the invasion was going to happen.

TODD: Richardson says he and his team came away from the meeting with the sense of what the Kremlin was willing to do, not just regarding Reed but also Paul Whelan, another American the Russians were holding.

RICHARDSON: I sensed that they were ready to move ahead with Yaroshenko for Reed. On the Whelan case they wanted to see how the Yaroshenko/Reed initiative worked.

TODD: Richardson says at that time he didn't know basketball star Brittney Griner had also been detained. Reed's case soon took on more urgency.

REED: He's coughing constantly, said he's coughing up blood throughout the day. He has pain in his chest. Just all the signs of tuberculosis.

TODD: Reed's parents lobbied, even protested in front of the White House. Then on March 30th were granted a face-to-face meeting with President Biden. They came with a request consider a prisoner swap.

JONATHAN FRANKS, REED FAMILY SPOKESMAN: We always said in the campaign from the very beginning, if we could just get his parent in front of President Biden we were confident that President Biden would make the deal that he did.

TODD: With sources tell CNN was a tough call for the president. Tonight with attention focused on the two Americans still held by Putin, Whelan's family is worried about the cards they're willing to play.

DAVID WHELAN, PAUL WHELAN BROTHER: They may not be willing to cross lines to do exchanges with more hardened criminals or more serious criminals to bring Paul home. So it seems like the options have narrowed.


TODD (on camera): There may not be many options for a trade for Paul Whelan or Brittney Griner but one that is always coming up in public discussions right now is the possibility of the U.S. handing Viktor Bout over to the Russians. Bout is a notorious airports dealer known as the merchant of death now serving a long sentence at the U.S. federal penitentiary in Marion, Illinois. Remember that name, Wolf, he could come up in negotiations.

BLITZER: We'll watch closely together with you. Brian, thank you very, very much.

We're also following new developments right now in the house investigation into the January 6th insurrection. The chairman of the select committee announcing public hearings will be held beginning in June.

CNN's Senior Legal Affairs Correspondent, Paula Reid, is working the story for us.

Paula, what can we expect from these public hearings?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the committee Chairman Bennie Thompson announced today, they will hold eight hearings though out the month of June, starting on the 9th.

These sessions will be held both in primetime and during the day and we've been waiting to hear details on these much anticipated hearings. They still have not announced who will testify. But it is expected to be a combination of staff, outside witnesses and exhibits. Thompson says some of the testimony will be from witnesses the public hasn't heard from before, but their testimony he says will be, quote, on point as to why this investigation is so important.

Now, in addition to these hearings the committee is also expected to issue a final report telling the story of what they have uncovered during their investigation.

BLITZER: It's interesting because the committee is also hoping to hear from a few more key witnesses before their final report, right?

REID: That's exactly right. Thompson says he wants to reach out to more members of Congress including Republicans in the house and Senate to explain some of the new information that has been uncovered in this investigation.

Now, the committee as you may remember initially asked to speak with House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy and GOP Representative Scott Perry and Jim Jordan. Their response was a resounding, no, but the committee is expected to reach out again by the end of this week.

Now, Jordan, for one, told CNN today that if the panel does reach back out, he still does not want to cooperate.

But CNN has also learned that former President Trump's former Personal Attorney Rudy Giuliani is expected to appear before law makers next month.


The former New York mayor was a central figure in Trump's failed bid to overturn the 2020 election and his appearance comes as several high-profile members of Trump's inner circle have voluntarily spoken with the committee including Trump's daughter and former senior White House adviser Ivanka Trump. She was interviewed for nearly eight hours earlier this month and her husband Jared Kushner also met with the panel and we learned Donald Trump Jr. is also expected to meet with the committee in the coming weeks.

BLITZER: Looking forward to those public hearings.

Paula Reid, thank you very, very much. Coming up, the long wait for COVID vaccines for younger children could

be nearing an end. Now that Moderna has asked the FDA for authorization. We're going to break down the timetable for getting shots into kids' arms and the level of protection they can expect. We'll be right back.



BLITZER: Tonight, the United States is a significant step closer to making COVID vaccines available for the nation's youngest children. Moderna has officially asked the FDA to authorize its vaccine for kids under six.

We're joined now by Dr. Leana Wen, the CNN medical analyst, former Baltimore health commissioner.

Dr. Wen, thanks very much for joining us.

I know you have two kids -- two kids in this age group, kids under six yourself. How huge a moment is this potentially for parents out there?

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, Wolf, I have two little kids ages two and four and I know there are so many families out there in the same boat who will just experience a lot of relief today in the fact there may be a vaccine on the horizon for the youngest kids, and we're talking about 20 million kids in the age group not eligible for vaccination and Moderna's data, even though some will say little kids tend to not become severely ill, I think for many of us as parents if there is the chance to reduce the risk of something really severe to much lower, I think a lot of us would do that.

BLITZER: These Moderna vaccines we're told are 51 percent effective among kids 6 months to 2 years old and only 37 percent effective from kids two to five. What would you say to parents out there who are worried these are relatively low numbers?

WEN: I would say put two things into perspective. The first is that these studies were done in the time of omicron and when you look at adults and the protective effect of two doses in adults but in the time of omicron, it was comparable to these types of data in children.

The second is, what is the real reason why we're getting people vaccinated? It's not to reduce any infection. It's to reduce severe infection. Now we don't know yet those data in young kids but we do know for younger children, there is a very robust antibody response that's similar as for older children and for adults.

And so, based on that, we need to keep our eyes on the prize of what's the most important thing which is to reduce severe infection and again, that's something I'm looking forward to getting my kids vaccinated so that we can be reassured that they'll be well-protected against severe illness.

BLITZER: These vaccines do indeed help prevent hospitalization and God forbid, death, that's so, so important if you're fully vaccinated.

How soon can we see these kids six and under actually start getting this vaccine?

WEN: We'll we have seen in the past the FDA can review applications in three to four weeks and then the CDC can then review pretty soon after, a week or week and a half after the FDA so that puts the earliest at probably end of May for those reviews to be completed. I'm also hearing that unfortunately, the FDA might consider waiting even longer because maybe they'll wait until Pfizer also submits their data for the three-dose version of vaccines for kids in this age group.

I really hope they do not wait because it's happened before that FDA can just authorize one company's vaccine and I really hope they will review Moderna's data at the earliest opportunity because there are so many parents who will be first in line wanting to get their kids vaccinated as soon as possible without delay.

BLITZER: And Pfizer's moving closer and closer to seeking full emergency use authorization as well for kids, right?

WEN: That's exactly right, so Pfizer's dose is 1/10 of the adult dose, 3 micrograms and they are testing a three dose version of that three microgram dose, Moderna is a quarter of their adult dose, so 25 micrograms and the that's the two-dose vaccine being submitted for authorization.

Now, I hope both end up getting authorized, that would be fantastic but again I just hope there's not a delay on Moderna while waiting for Pfizer's data to be complete. That would just not make sense.

BLITZER: Yeah, you're making excellent points at usual, Dr. Leana Wen, thank you very, very much. Let's hope for the best. And we'll have more news just ahead.



BLITZER: Coming up this Sunday night on CNN, the premier of an all new season of "STANLEY TUCCI: SEARCHING FOR ITALY". Here's a preview.


STANLEY TUCCI, CNN HOST: These are a traditional Venetian snack. It's only 8:30, but a venetian breakfast is eaten standing up, washed down with a glass of wine known as an hombre, or shadow. This is fast-food, lagoon style, the word cicchetti (ph) means nothing, which is ironic because it's really something really something.

I'm coming over there so I can see it. Look at that. Oh my god.


BLITZER: That's just breakfast.

The new season of "STANLEY TUCCI: SEARCHING FOR ITALY" airs this Sunday night 9:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, only here on CNN.

I'm wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks very much for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.