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Commander Says, Enemy Inside Mariupol Plant Amid Bloody Battles; CNN Exclusive Poll Shows Americans View Economy Is The Worst In A Decade; New Protests At Supreme Court After Draft Opinion On Roe v. Wade Leaked; New Audio: McCarty Calls Trump's Behavior On January 6 "Atrocious And Totally Wrong"; Armed Man Tackles Comedian Dave Chappelle Onstage. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired May 04, 2022 - 18:00   ET



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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."

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now. breaking news, bloody battles at the Mariupol steel plant. A Ukrainian commander now says enemy troops have broken into the complex where the city's last defender and hundreds of civilians are holed up. We're getting new details on the fighting and whether it could be a final showdown in the besieged city.

Also breaking, CNN's exclusive new poll shows most Americans are casting blame on President Biden as their view of the economy is worse than it's been in a decade. We're tracking consumers' fears about high inflation and the potential recession just hours after an historic interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve.

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.

All right, let's get right to the breaking news, on the bloody battle for the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol. Russian forces now inside the steel plant at war with the city's last defenders.

CNN International Security Editor Nick Paton Walsh is following it all from his post in Central Ukraine for us.

Nick, after weeks of bombardment, is this potentially the last stand for Mariupol?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: It does look dire for those defenders. But, frankly, it has looked dire from Ukrainian troops inside that steel plant. Such extraordinary, well-fortified structure they've managed to hold on to for weeks if not months now. But their commander of the Azov Battalion in there, Lt. Col. Denys Prokopenko, saying that indeed, Russian troops have been inside the compound for two days now and there was intense fighting, saying that he is simply with his men carrying out the order to continue defending.

Now, we do note that intense bombardment from artillery and airstrikes has hit that compound over the past day, after, frankly, a miraculous rescue of over 100 of the civilians inside there, enabled by a brief ceasefire. Images of them emerging and then coming to Zaporizhzhia, a Ukrainian-held territory gripping so many.

But it does seem as though a renewed Russian onslaught against that particular facility has begun today, communications lost with troops inside there. Some patchy, may have been restored but there are still now over 100 civilians certainly, if not more trapped inside that facility, along with wounded Ukrainian troops and as Ukrainian defenders still valiantly holding back the Russians.

I must say, this quite extraordinary that this fight continues, despite the volume of resources Russia thrown at it. Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu today saying that he believed that the whole plant had been readily blocked.

And so I think that it is fair to say we are entering a Russian escalation here, whether that changes the dynamic entirely, finally, unclear. But, you know, Wolf, there is an important day coming up. May 9th, the victory parade that Russia wants to potentially have something to talk about that is positive for its offensive here. And maybe this push toward Mariupol's last pocket of Ukrainian resistance as part of that, Wolf.

BLITZER: Despite the ramped up Russian assault right now, can Ukraine point to some wins in the east?

WALSH: Yes. Look, I mean remember, while we talk about Mariupol, this is a place that Moscow had said that essentially beaten over a week ago now and, still, the east is where they would regroup and push harder and faster. That has not happened, and instead, we are seeing Ukrainian counteroffensive in some areas significantly, a Ukrainian flag hoisted over one village, Moldova, 13 miles southeast of the Ukraine-Russian border.

Why is this important? Well, it is part, it seems, of a Ukrainian move to go around Russian troops that are pushing down towards the bulk of Ukraine's forces in the Donetsk and Luhansk area. They have a lot of their equipment and best forces there.

But there seem to be these Russian forces almost cut off potentially by this Ukrainian counteroffensive. It's aiming at their supply lines. Without resupply, those Russian troops, like we've seen in Kyiv and other places too, are gravely at risk.

And so while it is clear there has been some slow Russian progress, what is more remarkable is the Ukrainian pushback in some of those areas which may stall this second bid by Russia to see some progress here. But it does appear to be in trouble, Wolf.


BLITZER: Nick Paton Walsh, in Ukraine for us, Nick, stay safe. We'll be in touch. Thank you very much.

In Russia tonight, the Kremlin is dismissing claims that Vladimir Putin plans to formally declare war in Ukraine on Monday, a Russian holiday known as victory day. Before we go live to Moscow, you should know that strict new laws on the reporting of Russia's Ukraine operation are in effect in Russia, including a prohibition on broadcasting information the Russian government considers to be false.

Let's bring in our Senior International Correspondent Matthew Chance. He's in the Russian capital for us right now. Matthew, the Kremlin spokesman is rejecting a U. S. assessment about Putin's plans for May 9th, next Monday. Tell us more about what he said.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This, Wolf, is the U. S. assessment and the assessment of other western powers as well that May 9th, which is, of course, a significant public holiday in Russia commemorating the victory of the Soviet Union over Nazi Germany in the 1940s may be used not just as an opportunity as every year to display Russia's military might and to parade it's nuclear missiles through the streets of the Russian capital now, elsewhere as well, but also an opportunity for Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, to make some kind of significant pronouncement when it comes to the conflict in Ukraine, what Russia calls its special military operation.

Now, it's been speculated that that can involve a formal declaration of war on Ukraine. That would enable Russia and the Kremlin to mobilize its forces more effectively, call in the reserves, for instance, and then put them across the border to add additional forces into the mix, inside Ukraine.

They've also -- what the Kremlin has done though is basically rule out that saying. It is nonsense that that's going to happen. And they're sort of clawing back on the idea that May 9th, its Victory Day commemoration, is going to be anything but the kind of celebration that it is every year and nothing special, they say, is going to be announced.

BLITZER: Matthew Chance on the scene for us in Moscow, thank you very much.

Let's get some more on all of this. Joining us now, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, William Taylor. Ambassador Taylor, thank you for joining us.

Just how big a blow will it be to Ukraine if Mariupol and the southern part of the country finally falls to the Russians?

WILLIAM TAYLOR, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: Wolf, Mariupol, for Ukraine, is already a hero city. The military forces, both Azov Battalion that you've been describing, as well as those marines who are there, are heroes in the eyes of the Ukrainians.

Any change in that status of Mariupol will only serve to invigorate, to re-determine, reinvigorate the Ukrainians in their fight against the Russians. They will take this as a reason to fight harder. This will be something that, as you've reported, the Russians have been trying to do this for maybe a month-and-a-half, two months and they've been losing soldiers over and over. They've losing soldiers over and over.

So this is, in some real sense, if they are able to take over, which they're not yet able to, no indication that they've got that, they're in the compound. But if they do, it will be a victory. The Ukrainians will use this as a rallying cry. Mariupol will be a hero city and those heroes that have defended for this long will be recognized as such.

BLITZER: Would the capture of Mariupol by the Russians be the kind of victory Putin would like to tout when Russia marks what they call Victory Day on Monday, commemorating the end of World War II?

TAYLOR: So, Wolf, what Putin has been after for a long time, certainly since 2014, is control of Ukraine. He's been very clear that is what he's after. That is his goal. He tried to do with it these Minsk Agreements for the last eight years with Donetsk and Luhansk. That failed. He's tried to do it in Kyiv, trying to take over Kyiv in the beginning of the war. That failed. He's been now relegated. He's reduced his war aims to just being able to take Mariupol or just really to be able to take a land bridge between Donetsk, Luhansk, and Crimea through Kherson. That's not what he was after.

He can claim victory. He can claim victory. It will be hollow. That's not what he was after and not what he's achieved.

BLITZER: Ukraine, as you know, has now claimed -- it actually intercepted a Russian communication, talking about heavy troop loses and saying special elite Russian units are, quote, making scenes about not wanting to keep fighting. CNN hasn't been able to verify that intercepted communication, but how long can this war really go on if that's true?


TAYLOR: Wolf, there is a scenario where the Russian troops that we remember now have been in the field since last November, December. They arrayed themselves around Ukraine during the winter and didn't start the fight, didn't go across the border until the 24th of February and have been fighting ever since. They lost a lot of troops and a lot of units were mauled and then the attempt to take Kyiv. And now these same units are being moved around to the east.

So, the Russian military, in particular, on the ground, has not done well. It has not done well. So that will be something that they will have to deal with.

BLITZER: They certainly will. The former U. S. ambassador to Ukraine, Bill Taylor, thank you so much for joining us. TAYLOR: Thanks Wolf, good to be here.

BLITZER: Just ahead, the Federal Reserve just gave interest rates their biggest hike in more than two decades. Will the move help tamp down soaring inflation here in the United States? And what will it mean for American consumers? Stand by. We'll be right back.



BLITZER: There's more breaking news we're following right now. The biggest interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve in more than two decades coming as Americans are facing high inflation and growing concern about a possible recession.

Let's go to our Chief White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins. She has got details for us. Kaitlan, a huge move by the Fed today, what's the latest?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Wolf. Because you're right, this is the largest interest rate crease in 22 years but it is all part of this effort to try to tamp down the fastest inflation in 40 years. That's why you saw this move from the Federal Reserve today.

But what they have before them really, Wolf, is a balancing act because they want to slow down the economy without sending it into a recession. And they know those concerns are very high. You're hearing them from top executives at banks all across the country. And so that is something that the Federal Reserve chair, Jay Powell, has got top of mind. But right now they believe that the inflation rates are just too high. It is lasting a lot longer than a lot of experts believed it would.

So, he did acknowledge today, Wolf, that there are additional interest rate increases that are on the table. It remains to be seen how high they go. And while Jay Powell was acknowledging that, yes, it is going to be unpleasant that people are paying more to borrow more money, but he said, quote, in the end, he believes everyone is going to be better off.

And so of course, this is a huge balancing act for them and it remains to be seen just how they try to chart the economy out of these waters, Wolf.

BLITZER: We're also, just now getting in some new CNN poll numbers on this very topic, Kaitlan, and they're not necessarily very good news for the president, these new numbers, are they?

COLLINS: They're not. Because what they're revealing is that a lot of American have a pretty sharply critical view of how President Biden has been handling the economy. A lot of that has to do with those inflation numbers that we were just talking about.

And if you look at the latest numbers out of CNN poll, which, of course, the White House is paying attention to, it says when you ask people how the president is handling the economy, 66 percent disapprove, Wolf, 34 percent approve. And that's you know not just for President Biden. It is an overall look at the economy.

It is pretty negative when you ask Americans because about 77 percent say they believe the current economic conditions are poor, only 23 percent say that they are good. That's despite the wage increases that we've seen, that's despite all that because, of course, inflation is eroding a lot of those. And so all of this place into this third number, Wolf, which is the president's approval rating. You see it's a 59 percent disapproval rating. 41 percent approve of the job that President Biden is doing as president.

And, Wolf, this is something that the White House is acutely aware of. You saw President Biden today talking about paying down the national debt for the first time in six years, addressing the deficit. He believes that's going to help ease these inflationary pressures that people are dealing with, but he also was attributing to the war in Ukraine, though, of course, we know inflation was already building ahead of the actual and Russian invasion of Ukraine.

But these are all thing that the White House is focused on, also trying to push back on the constant, basically, these days, Wolf. Republican criticism of President Biden, because Republicans look at these numbers, they believe it is a weak point for them to hit, of course, all leading up to the midterm elections in November.

BLITZER: Yes. Wall Street was clearly pleased with the interest rate hike today, the Dow Jones Industrial average up more than nine points. Kaitlan Collins at the White House, thank you very much.

Let's get a closer look at the impact of all this. CNN's Brian Todd is working this part of the story for us. Brian, this will affect so many home owners, potential home buyers, renters, a lot of folks out there, higher interest rates.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is likely to affect all those groups, Wolf, plus, people in the market for a car, people trying to pay-off their credit cards or student loans. This interest rate hike is men to bring inflation under control. But until that happens, people in those situations could be in for a tough time.


TODD (voice over): Allison Braun, a first-time home buyer in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, learned the hard way that with low inventory and high competition, those trying to purchase a home don't have much leverage these days.

ALLISON BRAUN, HOME BUYER IN CHERRY HILL, NJ: To be quite honest. I did not expect it to be this difficult to get a home.

TODD: A pricey housing market could be about to get worse. Homeowners and prospective home buyers across America will likely find some tough sledding ahead because interest rate hikes mean it will be more expensive to borrow money. If you're trying to buy a home experts say, the asking price may not be much higher than it is now. But --

MICHELLE SINGLETARY, AUTHOR, WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR MONEY WHEN CRISIS HITS: The cost to buy that house is going to be higher because mortgage rates are going up.

TODD: That means many new home owners will not only be paying higher interest on their mortgages but could get less house for their money.


What about renters?

CATHERINE RAMPELL, WASHINGTON POST OPINION COLUMNIST: Renters could be indirectly affected by interest rate hikes to the extent that, let's say, a landlord has to pay a higher rate on his mortgage if he has an adjustable rate mortgage or thought he or she could refinance and can't, for example, that could get passed along to renters.

TODD: But higher interest rate won't affect just home owners. What about paying off your credit card, car loan or student debt?

SINGLETARY: If you have got credit card debt, it's going to cost you more. If you're buying a car, it is going to cost you more because the rates to borrow that money to get that car are going to go up.

TODD: Experts say there could be some good news for people who have significant money stash in savings accounts. With the new interest rate hike, they say, those accounts will start to earn interest again. But analysts warn it may not be enough interest to make much of a difference.

RAMPELL: You might see the interest that's being paid on a savings account go up a touch as a result of the announcement today. But, remember, it's still may be below the pace of inflation.


TODD: So, what can many of us do to brace for these higher interest rates that are coming? The analyst we spoke to say, if you can hold off on that major purchase of a house or a car that you've been thinking about, hold off for as long as you can. For some, they say, it is time to think outside the box regarding your living situation. Living with relatives or sharing a residence with anyone else, they say that can help you ride out these rate hikes, Wolf. And people are going to have to start thinking of that in a months ahead. There's going to be more interest rate hikes coming.

BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting for us, Brian, good explanation. Thank you very, very much.

Just ahead, with the U. S. Supreme Court apparently poised to strike down Roe v. Wade, President Biden sounds the alarm warning other rights could be at risk as well. Stay with us. You're in The Situation Room.


BLITZER: We're keeping a close eye on the new demonstrations outside the U.S. Supreme Court as Roe v. Wade appears to be on the brink of being overturned. Advocates and politicians on both sides of the abortion debate are now planning their next moves after the court's draft opinion to strike down Roe was leaked.

CNN Justice Correspondent Jessica Schneider is joining us live now from the U.S. Supreme Court. Jessica, President Biden weighed in on the leaked draft report once again earlier today. Tell our viewers what he said.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: He did, Wolf. The president really went after what he calls an extreme brand of Republican politics. And President Biden warned that if the Supreme Court overturns Roe, as it seems like it is poised to do, the president asked what would stop other Republican-led states for enacting even more extreme laws in other areas. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: What happens if you have a state change the law saying that children who are LGBTQ can't be in classrooms with other children? Is that legit under the way the decision is written? What are the next things that are going to be attacked? Because this MAGA-crowd is really the most extreme political organization that has existed in American history, in recent American history.


SCHNEIDER: So, strong words from the president. And Vice President Kamala Harris also spoke out today about the possibility of Roe being overturned. She spoke at an event for Emily's List. That's a political action committee that supports women being elected who are for abortion rights. And Vice President Harris said that Republicans are weaponizing the law against women.

But, Wolf, you know, really, the administration not coming up, or not presenting any plans so far about what they would do if abortion is deemed not a constitutional right as may happen by the Supreme Court. Wolf?

BLITZER: Jessica, in terms of the court's actual schedule, when is the next time that justices are supposed to meet?

SCHNEIDER: Yes. They are now scheduled for their next private conference face-to-face next Thursday, May 12th. That would be in a private conference room, just those nine justices. And, presumably, it would be the first time they've been face-to-face since the serious breach of court secrecy earlier this week. After that, it would likely be on Monday, May 16th, that we would see the next opinions being released.

We still have a long way to go in this court's term. It usually ends in the final week of June. And we have close to 40 opinions remaining. Those opinions include, of course, still, the abortion decision that has not come out yet, as well as the Second Amendment issue related to a New York gun law and a case on religious liberties. Wolf?

BLITZER: Yes, it is going to be a busy time, indeed. All right, Jessica, thank you very much, Jessica Schneider outside the Supreme Court.

I want to bring in our Chief Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin and our Senior Legal Analyst Laura Coates right now.

Laura, you just heard President Biden warn that this potential decision on Roe v. Wade could mean the Supreme Court would chip away at other rights as well. Is he right to be worried?

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I think he is right to be worried under the connective tissue that if abortion is under the category of a fundamental right, then any other area under that same umbrella, including maybe interstate travel, the right to marry whom you choose, contraceptive use and the variety of that, that could all fall under the vulnerability as well.

But Justice Alito in the draft opinion, which, of course, is not final, seems to try to wall off that particular prospect. Now, that might be a bit of a pipe dream to say, no, I only mean to it relate to this one particular aspect, because, you know, if you give a mouse a cookie, it will ask for a variety of things as well.

And so to think here that the idea to being able to have one fundamental right go away based on the same fundamental premise that it's not in the zone privacy that the government cannot interfere with, it is likely that others might be at least challenged.


And then the precedent set in this case might be instructed as opposed to one that says, no, it is inapplicable.

BLITZER: You know, Jeffrey, the president also called the quote, MAGA- crowd, the most extreme political organization in American history. Does all of this suggest the U. S. Supreme Court really is more politicized right now than it has ever been?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's certainly more conservative than it has been in several generations. It certainly recalls the 1930s when the Supreme Court struck down much of the new deal before Franklin Roosevelt had a bunch of appointments to change the composition of the court.

Look, the conservative agenda at the Supreme Court has been in plain view since 1981 when Robert Bork and Antonin Scalia co-founded the Federal Society. There is no mystery about what conservatives want. It is just only with President Trump's three appointments that they've had the votes. They want to end affirmative action. They want to end any sorts of gun control laws under the Second Amendment. And as we see from the draft opinion yesterday, they want to overturn Roe v. Wade. But that leads to issues like contraception. Remember, the Supreme Court has already in the hobby lobby case said some forms of contraception are like abortion and they can be banned as well. So, this is the way the law works. Once you do one big step like Roe v. Wade, like overturning Roe v. Wade, lots of other things come in behind it. And we know where they're coming because conservatives haven't been hiding their agenda for decades.

BLITZER: You know, Laura, there is apparently no realistic path for Congress right now to codify Roe v. Wade into law. So now the White House is scrambling to find some executive action the president can sign to protect abortion rights for women. Is there anything he can really do at this point?

COATES: Well, there is certainly executive action but of course that would be able to be rolled back in the event there's a different precedent. And, of course, it is curious as to why so many grassroots advocacy organizations, even those who own abortion clinics and run these clinics, people who have been advocating on behalf of abortion rights, they certainly don't seem to be blindsided by prospect of Roe v. Wade being overturned and preparation has been made.

Now, the reality is perhaps they thought there would be some constraints, maybe some massaging in terms of the notion of which week might be the ultimate red line, but to have the White House now scrambling to figure out a possible solution, in light of what is quite obvious, that there may not be the votes hear, it really speaks to a larger issue here, about the role of the Supreme Court and the idea that the precedent is supposed to be one that is set in stone. And if that's the case, we may be looking at this issue for a very long time.

BLITZER: I know, Jeffrey, you and I have covered the U. S. Supreme Court for a long time. You know it a lot better than I do. Have we ever seen a leaked draft opinion like this before and will we ever really find out who leaked this draft?

TOOBIN: Never, never, never anything like this. There have been a very few occasions when votes have been suggested in advance, where journalists have claimed they know votes. But this is breach is unprecedented in the Supreme Court's history. It won't change the result but it may well change the relationship among the justices who are angry and suspicious of each other even before this. And it is likely to poison relationships within the court even further.

BLITZER: Jeffrey Toobin and Laura Coates, guys, thank you very, very much.

Just ahead, after weeks of bombardment, are the last Ukrainian defenders of Mariupol making their final stand right now?



BLITZER: More now on the breaking news out of Ukraine, what is being described as a bloody battle inside a giant steel plan in the city of Mariupol, where hundreds of Ukrainian civilians have been sheltering and truly horrific conditions for weeks.

CNN Senior National Correspondent Sam Kiley is on the ground for us in Ukraine. Sam, what is the latest that you can tell us on this battle that's now going on inside this factory complex?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, according to Ukrainian authorities, Wolf, the perimeter of the factory has been breached. In other words, the Russians have managed to break through some kind of outer perimeter held by Ukrainian government forces. These are made of principally of the Azov Battalion and the Marines.

Now, they are also, most of the people sheltering there are underground, Wolf. There's many hundreds of civilians, many hundreds of military, and 30 children who are in effectively catacombs underneath this massive steel manufacturing plan.

Now, it is not yet clear whether or not there's fighting going on hand-to-hand underground. But, clearly, this has come after a very heavy bombardment indeed from the land, from surface-to-surface missiles and artillery, from the air, aerial bombardment and even from naval ships using their large naval guns have been pounding this area, being described as actually even shaking and bouncing chambers underneath the ground, as this massive assault is going in.

So, clearly, from the Russian perspective, they're trying to get this over and done with before they have been offering safe passage to civilians out, that supposedly from Moscow, an offer for them to escape or be allowed to escape in any direction they choose, either into Russian-held territory's hands or indeed into Ukrainian hands starting tomorrow for the next three days.


But clearly, this massive assault that's going in may make all of that entirely theoretical if it is, from a Russian perspective, a success. There is a very deep focus of combat in the southeast of the country, elsewhere in the east though. The pattern has been much more mixed. The Russians have been driven back from several villages that they control close to Kramatorsk recently and also there's been a significant airstrike in Avdiivka killing a number of people at a bus station. Wolf?

BLITZER: CNN's Sam Kiley, in Kramatorsk for us right now, Sam, thank you very much.

Let's discuss what's going on with Ukrainian Parliament Member Yevheniia Kravchuk. Yevheniia,thank you so for joining us. This resistance that we're seeing by Ukrainians in Mariupol has become almost legendary right now. What it will mean to Ukraine if this last hold out in Mariupol were to fall?

YEVHENIIA KRAVCHUK, UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT: Referring to your previous topic, we are fighting in Ukraine for the fundamental right to live, and that's what our defenders of Mariupol are doing right now. And I'm pretty sure that by this time Putin would be -- you know, saw that he would plan his victory parade in Kyiv. But still, you know, Russians did not seize the whole city yet.

But the situation is very difficult. We are a couple hundreds of defenders there. There are 500 of wounded defenders and they cannot get medical help and they're not free to leave, to be evacuated as well, to be treated in hospitals.

But it is not a difficult situation only in Mariupol. And, by the way, it is very important to understand what is going on outside of this plant because Russians are trying to cover the traces of their atrocities and the war crimes. They are actually not claiming the bodies.

We have information -- our intelligence service has information that there have been three more crematorium working since April 15th to burn the bodies, so the traces of the crimes committed. And also, the situation on the east on the other parts of Eastern Ukraine is serious as well.

So, we are actually really waiting for more supplies, for more weapons to come and to be delivered to these places to liberate them.

BLITZER: As you know, Yevheniia, Russia is publicly denying western intelligence reports that it plans to formally declare war on May 9th, next Monday. It has been calling this invasion a, quote, special military operation. What do you expect from Putin when he marks this key date, this victory over the Nazis in World War II, this date, this holiday in Russia on Monday?

KRAVCHUK: Of course, they will put all the pressure right now to secure some sort of victory. Of course, they cannot move on the ground too much. But they've been sending missiles and rockets to different regions of Ukraine for two days, like 18, 20 rockets per evening.

But also about this mobilization, you know, declaring war, it would mean that actually the special operation has not worked. And this -- the army that was called the second largest army in the world did not work. So, personally, I doubt that they will hold the real mobilization. But they will do. It's hidden. They are trying to find people, you know, to pay them to go to the army and to use them as meat.

BLITZER: Ukrainian Parliament Member Yevheniia Kravchuk, Yevheniia, thank you so much for joining us. I want to continue this conversation with you down the road. I appreciate it very much.

KRAVCHUK: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Coming up, new audio reveals House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy slamming Donald Trump soon after the January 6th insurrection. Stand by. We've got details.


[18:48:53] BLITZER: We have newly revealed audio of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy sharply criticizing former President Trump shortly after the Capitol siege. Listen.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Yeah, but what the president did is atrocious and totally wrong. From the standpoint, we're 12 days away. I mean the one point I make with Biden -- if you have an impeachment and you're stuck in the Senate, he needs Cabinet members, he's got secretary of defense, he's got a lot of things he has to have moving. And if you think from a perspective, you put everything else away, this country is very, very divided.


BLITZER: All right. So, let's get more from CNN senior commentator, former Republican Ohio governor John Kasich who's joining us. And CNN political analyst Maggie Haberman, the Washington correspondent for "The New York Times".

Maggie, this is yet more evidence that Kevin McCarthy was actually slamming Trump in the days after the January 6th insurrection. What do you make of this newly leaked audio?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it just reaffirms that Kevin McCarthy was saying that keep concern what then President Trump had done, about what his behavior would do to the country, about what his behavior would do to, certainly, with the Republican conference.


But, really, they were looking much more broadly about leadership and what he would be able to do and what it would mean over the remaining two weeks of his presidency. And you contrast that with what we saw him doing almost immediately after President Trump left office, which was start trying to make amends. And so, you know, you have to wonder in hindsight how much of that amends making was McCarthy's knowledge that he had been saying all of these things to his colleagues. I doubt he knew they were on tape.

BLITZER: What does it say to you, Governor Kasich, that someone who called Trump's actions, and I'm quoting him now, atrocious and totally wrong, could change his mind so quickly?

JOHN KASICH, CNN SENIOR COMMENTATOR: It seems to be a matter of character, Wolf. You know, I was in Congress at a time when you looked around and you saw people who were more concerned about the country than really their own careers. I mean, everybody cares about their careers, but it was always country first.

And what we're seeing here, it's a character issue. I mean, how could you say how terrible this is and turn around just a few days later and say, well, January 6th was no big deal. It's extremely disappointing.

And, you know, back in the old days, not that long ago, things like this, tapes like this could be damaging to somebody. But it doesn't seem as though these days it matters very much.

BLITZER: It's interesting, Maggie, this isn't the first audio leak of Kevin McCarthy disparaging Trump. Why is he still in the former president's good graces?

HABERMAN: A couple of reasons, Wolf. I mean, the main one that's gotten overlooked is Trump is aware that anything that he does, you know, responds or says something, adds to stories and news reports about the Republicans being at each other's throats, which is not what Republicans want as they head into the midterms, especially frankly now with the backdrop of Roe v. Wade potential ending, and, you know, a more energized Democratic electorate.

So, I think that the former president is holding his fire, which we've seen him do before, you know, until he -- until he doesn't. I don't know that this means that McCarthy is permanently safe. You know, they met for three hours I reported yesterday, Wolf, earlier this week. Trump kept referring to Kevin McCarthy as Speaker McCarthy as he talked to people by phone during that meeting.

Trump has a habit of calling people in the middle of meetings. That's fine for now. I just don't know what happens when we get to December. We'll see.

KASICH: Yeah. Wolf, let me jump in very quickly. Maggie, you would agree with me that where Donald Trump is today and where he will be tomorrow, it doesn't matter to him. He could appear to be supporting Kevin McCarthy today and tomorrow he'll give him the heave-ho and throw him outside the Capitol.

So you can't -- you can't count on loyalty when it comes to Donald Trump. It's not possible to do.

BLITZER: John Kasich and Maggie Haberman, guys, thank you very much for joining us today.

Just ahead, the comedian Dave Chappelle tackled on stage during a performance. We have new details. That's next.



BLITZER: New details tonight about the shocking attack on comedian Dave Chappelle as he performed at the iconic Hollywood Bowl last night.

CNN national correspondent Nick Watt has the latest.


DAVE CHAPPELLE, COMEDIAN: Make some noise for hip-hop story.

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Dave Chappelle was introducing the next act. Suddenly, the comic tackled by a man who rushed the stage, wielding a knife shaped like a replica gun. RACHEL CRANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I mean, he -- he rammed right into


WATT: CNN's Rachel Crane was just a few feet away sitting in the second row.

CRANE: One second you're laughing, the next second, honestly, I was fearing for my life, because I thought perhaps this man had a bomb in that backpack on his back.

WATT: He did not, and Dave Chappelle was not injured, according to the LAPD, quickly cracking jokes.

CHAPPELLE: I am going to kill that (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

WATT: The 23-year-old male suspect was hurt in the melee, taken to the hospital and arrested for assault with a deadly weapon. Any motive remains unclear.

Chappelle, in his recent Netflix special, notes that he does anger a lot of people with his comedy.

CHAPPELLE: Now, listen, women get mad at me, gay people get mad at me, lesbians get mad at me, but I'm going to tell you right now, and this is true, these transgenders, these (EXPLETIVE DELETED) want me dead.

WATT: This assault took place just about a mile away from another recent on-stage attack on a comedian, the infamous Oscar slap.

Last night, Chris Rock was also performing. Soon by Dave Chappelle's side, making reference, cutting the tension.

CHRIS ROCK, COMEDIAN: Was that Will Smith?

WATT: So still unclear why this happened and maybe more importantly, how this happened.

CRANE: It felt like an eternity before the security got there and, you know, intervened. In actuality, I'm sure it was just a few seconds. But it was a very charged moment, and everybody, there were gasps, screams.


WATT (on camera): It's also still unclear how this suspect could gotten a knife into the Hollywood Bowl through the metal detectors, particularly with so many high profile performers and guests in attendance. Now, it's also ironic earlier in his set, Dave Chappelle was joking about having to increase security at his house after somebody was hanging around and shouting at him from the street.

A spokesperson for Chappelle tells CNN that he refuses to let this overshadow the magic of his shows here at the Hollywood Bowl -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Nick Watt, reporting for us, thanks very much.

And to our viewers, thanks for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.