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The Situation Room
Ukraine Pushes Russian Forces Out Of Key Towns Near Border; 1/6 Committee Finalizing Witnesses For High-Stakes Public Hearings; Biden Says, Great MAGA King Trump Raised Deficit, GOP Will Lower Incomes; Key Vote To Protect Access To Abortion Fails In The Senate; Palestinian-American Reporter Shot Dead While Covering Israeli Military Operation. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired May 11, 2022 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer. He's in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'll see you tomorrow.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, Ukraine retaking key territory from Kremlin forces in towns around the major Northern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, pushing Putin's army closer and closer to the Russian border.
We're also following breaking news here in Washington, up on Capitol Hill, a vote to preserve abortion rights just failed in the United States Senate. Lawmakers erupting in protest as Roe v. Wade hangs in a balance at the U.S. Supreme Court. Former Obama Attorney General Eric Holder joins me live at this hour.
Also tonight, new details on an astonishing emergency landing by an untrained airplane passenger forced to take the helm after the pilot was in incapacitated. The air traffic controller who help guide the plane to safety is taking CNN inside the harrowing ordeal.
We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world, I am Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Tonight, Ukraine is claiming several victories in the hotly contested terrains around Kharkiv, a major city just miles from the Russian border.
CNN's Scott McLean is on ground for us in Lviv with more on the Ukrainian counteroffensive. Oren Liebermann is joining us live from the Pentagon with a new U.S. assessment from top U.S. defense officials.
But let's begin with Scott for more on the developments near Kharkiv. Scott, this is highly important territory near a pivotal city and Ukraine now says it has the upper hand.
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Exactly, Wolf. They are starting to take back towns and villages outside of Kharkiv. In some places, Wolf, they say that they are mere miles from the Russian border, a border that Ukrainians say the Russians have amassed a huge amount of troops on, 20 battalion tactical groups which is about 18,000 troops. So, clearly, the Russians could strike back at any moment.
The Ukrainians are urging civilians not to return back to these retaken villages and towns because they are heavily mined and also they are very much within Russian artillery range.
Russia though is also within artillery range now for Ukrainian shelling. And the governor of the Belgorod region in Russia says that for the first time a civilian was killed by Ukrainian shelling in a village six miles inside of the border.
Now, this is not the first time that there has been explosion in that region, though the Ukrainians have not been keen to take responsibility for them.
And, Wolf, in the southern part of the country, in the Kherson region, the Kremlin appointed leaders of this occupied territory are putting, or planning to put in a formal request to join the Russian Federation without any kind of referendum. They say that they could be issuing passports and citizenship documents by the end of the year. The Kremlin says that it is the people of Kherson who should be deciding what to do, though they are not calling for a referendum either.
BLITZER: Scott, as you know, Ukrainians now say the latest shipments of foreign weapons supplied by the U.S. and other NATO partners have already started to arrive at the frontlines. What kind of impact is all this having?
MCLEAN: Yes, the Ukrainian say that they are getting into a rhythm, getting into a flow of these weapons shipments and then delivery throughout the country. The United States, the Pentagon says that 89 out of the 90 howitzers for instance that it's pledged to Ukraine are already inside of the country. These are modern day artillery systems.
Also consider that Russia has a troop advantage of -- they have 4.5 times the number of troops at their disposal compares to the Ukrainians. But at least when it comes to military hardware, Ukrainians now say that it is getting to the point where the Russians no longer have a clear advantage when it comes to equipment. Wolf?
BLITZER: Very interesting. All right, Scott McLean on the scene for us, thank you very much.
The Russian assault on Kharkiv flattens countless buildings and left scores of civilians, men and children dead, Ukrainians. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has a story of one Ukrainian woman who survived for hours buried beneath the rubble after a Russian airstrike.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice over): Sometimes places that speak only of death throw up a jewel of life. This is the first time Ayuna has stood in this spot. Since 72 days ago, she was dragged out from the rubble here. Her husband, Andrey, had been scouring it, looking for her for three hours.
She remembers the cupboard.
AYUNA MOROZOVA, KHARKIV BLAST SURVIVOR: That was where I was standing.
WALSH: The, multiple rocket attacks on this, the Kharkiv regional administration was an early sign of the ferocious, cowardly brutality Russia would unleash on civilian target. This is Ayuna then. She had been serving coffee and cookies to soldiers, sort of flashed (ph) and curled into a ball (ph).
MOROZOVA: I fear of physical manifestation of fear. I don't like cookies anymore. The box fell on me and I remember the smell.
WALSH: She asked to step away, saying she's sick of butterflies like she hasn't not felt since before races when she used to swim professionally. Andrey picks up the story.
ANDREY MOROZOV, AYUNA'S HUSBAND: When I heard her voice, I was crawling across the rubble and the emergency services were trying to kick me out. I pulled a man out and then heard her. I did not plan to leave her here.
WALSH: The soldiers waiting in the corridor outside from her died, the young woman in the basement below here died. Their bodies not found for three weeks, yet somehow the concrete here fell and shielding Ayuna.
MOROZOVA: I knew I was alive, in pain but nothing broken but was worried that I would be left and never be heard. The first time they heard me, they started to get me out and the second missile came and I was properly trapped.
WALSH: A rescuer eventually heard her.
MOROZOVA: Andrey got closer and I said it was me and he cried. They said they should not lift the baton on me but Andrey did, alone. It got easier to breathe. I was surprised as I thought I was still at ground level. The ambulance guy said it is your second birthday, you are alive.
WALSH: Fragments of the Kharkiv now past peppered the shell, cleaning up and trying to sweep away its trauma.
MOROZOVA: I sleep with the lights on. And when there is a loud car or, God forbidden, a jet plane, I brace. The nightmares that I am again lying there in and shivering cold and that nobody hears my cries, that also stops me from sleeping. WALSH: Ayuna was born in Russia but could no longer talk to her relatives there. She says they believe Russian state media's absurd claims this is a limited operation against Nazi's.
MOROZOVA: They say it was my stupidity and that I don't need to be here. I hope when time passes our children can talk but I can't talk to them now. Russia has lost its minds and cannot control its president. They are all each responsible, every citizen.
WALSH: The story here not of ruins, loss or burial in dust but instead of the feverish energy that burns through the building's bones, as Kharkiv, gets to decide where it's pieces fall now.
Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Kharkiv, Ukraine.
BLITZER: Nick, thank you very, very much.
Now to CNN's Oren Leibermann is over at the Pentagon. Oren, I understand top U.S. defense officials, they are reacting today publicly to Russia's use of these hypersonic missiles in Ukraine, the first time these weapons have been used in combat, were told. What did they say?
OREN LEIBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: The U.S. has watched all of the launches of hypersonic missiles from the Russians, not only to learn about the use of such weapons in combat, the top U.S. general says the first time they've been used in combat anywhere, but also to learn about the capabilities of the Russian military.
Now, according to Russian claims and U.S. assessments, Russia has used a few different kinds of hypersonic missiles, mostly essentially short-range ballistic missiles. The Tochka, the Iskander, those are ground-launched, as well as the Kinzhal, which is an air-launched version of those missiles.
But despite all of the hype around these and the growing concern you hear in the U.S., especially among politicians, that the U.S. is falling behind Russia and China when it comes to hypersonic developments, the conclusion was that these weren't the game changer that many had feared they would be if they were used on the battlefield.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. MARK MILLEY, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: In terms of their effect of a given target, we are not seeing really significant or game-changing effects to date with the delivery of the small number of hypersonics that the Russians have used.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEIBERMANN: The Pentagon says that Russia has used somewhere between 10 and 12 hypersonic missiles since this war began about two and half months ago. [18:10:00]
As for why that remains pretty much an open question but they believe it might be an indication that Russia is running out of smart weapons, precision-guided munitions and has had to come to these hypersonic weapons to simply carry out their attacks.
They also note, Wolf, that the targets are centrally structures or buildings, not dynamic moving targets, and that tells you something about Russia's inability to hit moving targets, perhaps. Wolf?
BLITZER: Yes, very significant information. Oren Liebermann at the Pentagon, thank you.
Just ahead, CNN is now learning new information about potential high- profile witnesses who could appear at public January 6 select committee hearings next month. A key member of the panel, Congressman Adam Schiff, he's standing by live, he will join us when we come back.
BLITZER: We're following breaking news. We now have new information about next month's public January 6th select committee hearing. Sources tell CNN the panel is finalizing its witness list, which could include some high-profile figures in the investigation.
Our Congressional Correspondent Ryan Nobles is joining us live from Capitol Hill right now. Ryan, tell our viewers what you are learning.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Wolf. These hearings now is less than month away and they are important to the January 6 select committee because it is going to be the first time that they really present with a great deal of specificity of this work that they have been doing largely behind closed doors for the better part of ten months.
And you're right, at this point, they have not finalized that witness lists. As far as we've learned, they have not even reach to potential witnesses. But there are a number of people that they have already talked to behind closed doors who they might want to bring some of that testimony out into the light, people like the former acting attorney general, Jeffery Rosen, his deputy, Richard Donoghue, as well as people that were close to the former vice president, Mike Pence, including his Chief of Staff Marc Short and his Chief Counsel Greg Jacob.
Now, there's also some witnesses who the committee has spoken to who may not be interested in coming forward and speaking publicly, but the committee does have a way around that as well. People like Ivanka Trump, her husband, Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of the former president, and his son, Donald Trump Jr. The committee, we've learn, has videotaped many of these depositions. And there's always a possibility that if these folks are not brought forward to testify publicly, that the committee could play clips of these witness testimony. And we've been told for some time, that video tapes and other elements will be a big part of this multimedia presentation what it all happens.
And we've also learned that they exerted to zero in on some topics that they want to cover during these hearings. There's going to be eight in total, and including what President Trump is doing during the riot. There were a lot of times that is unaccounted in the president's schedule. Also the efforts to pull false election fraud claims, how law enforcement responded to riot on that day and then, of course, the organizing and financing of the January 6 rally.
You know, Wolf, the committee has taken into so much information and this is their opportunity to distill some of that information and put together some of the things that they have learned and present it to the American people.
But as they get these presentations together, they are still taking in more information. The National Archives announced today that they are releasing an eight tranche of documents from the Trump White House, some 23,000 emails and attachments that will soon be in the hands of the committee. So, even as they are sifting through the thousands and thousands of documents they already have, Wolf, they are still taking in more information and they are also continuing interviews and depositions of many potential witnesses. Wolf?
BLITZER: Yes. Starting next early month, we'll start seeing some of the evidence that the committees -- the select committee has collected and these hearings, no doubt, will be televise. We will watch them very, very closely. Ryan Nobles up on Capitol Hill, thanks very much.
Let's bring in a key Member of January 6 select committee, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff of California. Congressman, thank you so much for joining us.
Will these hearings lay out new insight into the insurrection? Will they reveal for example details that are so far not been made public?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Without a doubt, there will be new information and new details. Certainly, the public is aware of a lot of information already through a lot of impressive reporting about the multiple lines of effort to overturn the presidential election. But we expect in these multimedia presentations, that include live testimony, video, audio, documentary evidence, to provide a kind of important texture to this nefarious effort for the first time in our history to overturn a presidential election, interfere with the peaceful of transfer of power. We want to expose the action of the malefactors to the public scrutiny.
BLITZER: So, what is the strategy, Congressman, for the witnesses who are refusing to testify publicly? They've testified behind closed doors, but publicly? Are you willing, for example, to agree to ground rules to get some of these reluctant witnesses to speak out during these televised hearings?
SCHIFF: Well, you know, Wolf, we'll have to take it on a case by case basis. The reality is we have so much information, the challenges to decide, okay, these are the most important witnesses, these are the most important pieces of evidence. We do have to obviously hone things down. But it is, I think, essential to tell the story, the complete story to the American people.
It was not just about January 6. That was the violent culmination of a lot of different effects to overturn the election, to coerce state legislators and local election officials through bogus litigations, through pressure campaigns on the vice president, through voting to overturn the election in the House of Representatives.
So, we want to lay out that whole picture before the country.
BLITZER: Will the American public, Congressman, see video clips from the tape interviews your committee has already conducted with witnesses and we're talking about several witnesses, including Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, for example?
SCHIFF: You know, we will certainly considered using evidence that came from the depositions in a variety of different forms. We want to make this visually interesting to the viewing public and we are not going to call all the witnesses because we've interviewed hundreds of them.
So, I think it will be a combination of live testimony. It maybe some videotaped interviews. It may be audio tapes or maybe T.V. clips. I think you will see really a clever integration of this different source of information to tell the story and tell it in an easily digestible form.
BLITZER: I'm really looking forward to this public televise hearing. Let me turn while I have you, Congressman, to Ukraine. You're the chairman of the Intelligence Committee. The House just passed a $40 billion Ukraine aid package, it's now waiting on a Senate vote and waiting, of course, for President Biden's signature after the Senate passes it. Will this be enough and will it arrive fast enough to tip the scales on the battlefield in Ukraine's favor?
SCHIFF: It will arrive quick enough if we can get the Senate to act and we can get that over to the president. I can't tell you that the aid that we have approved thus far have moved very quickly from congressional approval to presidential approval and onto the battlefield and dispersed to where it needs to go in Ukraine. So, those supply lines are now well orchestrated and Ukrainians have, I think, done an extraordinary job in getting the materials to their fighters and to defend the country.
Will this ultimately be the last? It really depends on how long the conflict goes on. But I think the more that we do now, the quicker we can bring this to an end once Putin realizes he has not accomplished his objectives there and the cost to Russia had simply becoming too high, costs in terms of Russian lives and costs in terms of the sanctions and the impact on the Russian economy and the Russian people. BLITZER: Yes. So far, the delivery of these Javelins, these howitzers, these Stingers, they have move very, very quickly. Congressman Adam Schiff, thank you very much for joining us.
SCHIFF: Thank you.
BLITZER: Coming up, inflation here in the United States at a 40-year high and causing real financial hardships for millions of Americans. We're going to take a closer look at the hard choices that some are having to make. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: President Biden is trying to shift focus to his predecessor as the United States faces the highest inflation in 40 years.
Let's go to our Chief White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins. Kaitlan, what's the latest over there?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. The president said today that he is heartened by the modest decrease in prices that this new information released by the federal government today showed. But the fact to the matter is he still believes that these inflation numbers are way too high, and that includes food prices, Wolf, which we are seeing in this report rose 0.9 percent in the month of April from the previous month.
That is what took President Biden to a farm in Illinois today. Where he was talking about efforts that they are taking to try to boost food production here in the United States, not just an issue here but also one globally, as the president was praising farmers that he was meeting with while on the ground in Illinois.
But, Wolf, also he is trying to push this debate back on Republicans who have been sharply critical of his handling of the economy of the inflation rates that we have seen and the concerns that officials have had, until later in Chicago, he even brought up his predecessor and talked about his handling of what's happening right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Under my predecessor, the great MAGA-king, the deficit increase every single year he was president.
They don't want solve inflation by lowering the cost. That wanted to solve by raising taxes and lowering your income.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: That comment there obviously a dig at Senator Rick Scott in an economic proposal that he put out. We should not that this one that has been rejected by people, like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Of course this is still expected to be the debate that you are going to see the president pursuing, Wolf, over the next six months now that, of course, as this inflation numbers are still as high as they are, despite coming down, are dominating the political landscape.
BLITZER: Yes, they are. Kaitlan Collins at the White House, thank you.
With inflation now to 40-year high here in the United States, the financial impact is painful for many Americans and forcing some to make very hard choices.
CNN's Brian Todd is working this part of the story for us. Brian, almost all of Americans' daily necessities are still much more expensive than they were, what, a year ago?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. There is been almost no break for Americans and places like this grocery stores seemed to be what consumers are feeling the most.
TODD (voice over): At a grocery store in Northeast D.C., shoppers are more than a little fed up with food prices.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know it's high. It is hard trying to balance, you know, what you need and what you want.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everything from sodas, to meats, to vegetables, everything has just increased.
TODD: According to new government figures, annual inflation did ease off a little bit last month but is still a near 40-year high, prices rising 8.3 percent for the year ending in April, slightly lower than the 8.5 percent rise through March.
And food was one of the biggest factors along with shelter. In just a month, meat, poultry, fish and eggs when up 1.4 percent, with eggs by themselves spiking 10.3 percent.
What have you noticed most gone up?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, it would be the eggs, because a while ago they were really cheap.
TODD: And housing costs for renters and owners went up 0.5 percent for the third month in a row, consumers taking a big hit each month.
MARK ZANDI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MOODY'S ANALYTICS: The typical American households are spending $450 more now than a year ago that buy the same goods and services, and that's because of the higher inflation. So, this is incredibly painful.
TODD: Gas prices dipped last month but are now back to setting records, the national average for regular at $4.40 a gallon, up a $1.40 since a year ago.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, every day you walk by, I mean, drive by it's one price, and within a matter of hours, it will jump up again.
TODD: Analysts say with inflation this high, millions of Americans families already struggling to make ends meet due to pandemic may still have to make tough choices.
MICHELLE SINGLETARY, AUTHOR, WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR MONEY WHEN CRISIS HITS: It really will mean that some people might actually have to skip a meal. Maybe they can't feed their children the way they want to. They will perhaps not be able to cover their rent or all of their rent.
TODD: But on the bright side, at least one top economist says there could be relief in sight.
ZANDI: Inflation is peaking, I think the high inflation, that painfully high inflation is due to the pandemic and to the Russian invasion. If those things don't go off the rails, then I think we will see inflation lower by the end of the year and certainly this time next year.
TODD (on camera): Analyst Mark Zandi says that does not mean the price of everything is just going to come down. He says we should get use to high prices for things like groceries. But he says, what will actually come down, the price of gasoline, and he believes that before the end of the year, the prices of new parcels are going to come down as some of those supply chain issues can ironed out. Wolf?
BLITZER: Well, let's hope. Brian Todd, reporting for us, thank you very much. Good explanation.
Just ahead, Ukraine claims pivotal territory around the northern city of Kharkiv have been liberated from Kremlin forces. Can the Ukrainians push Putin's army all the way back to the Russian border? The former Ukrainian prime minister is standing by live, he will join us when we come back.
BLITZER: Just into CNN, new images showing Russian pantone bridges obliterated by Ukrainian artillery strikes. Kremlin forces were trying to cross a key strategic river in Eastern Ukraine. But Ukrainian attacks have frustrated those Russian attempts at least so far.
For more on that, let's bring in the former Ukrainian Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Prime Minister, thank you so much for joining us.
As you know, the Ukrainians clearly, having some impressive success in the eastern part of the country. It says it recaptured some territory around Kharkiv, but how much of the Eastern Donbas region does Russia now control?
ARSENIY YATSENYUK, FORMER UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER: Well, that's for Ukrainian army over launched a number of counter offensive operations and we are doing quite well and do really commend the Biden administration and bipartisan support. President Biden already signed the Land Lease Act into law and we expect the U.S. Congress is to pass, and to President Biden is to sign $40 billion support act of Ukraine, and this really helps.
On the other hand, Wolf, look, I want to be very realistic. Putin decided to actually -- to wage a new type of war which is a war of attrition. This is to be a long-lasting war. And we are not to under estimate this bloody Nazi-style, dictator Putin. So, that's the reason why so much needed support of Ukrainian military that is delivered by the United States is of crucial important importance.
I just got the report that American made howitzers and M3777 are already at the frontlines and they are defending Ukraine. So, on the one hand, we launched a counteroffensive, on the other hand we are not underestimate Putin and his bloody military.
BLITZER: You may have heard President Zelenskyy today say, and I'm quoting him now, with each new Bucha, with each new Mariupol, the desire to negotiate with Russia, he says, disappears. Instead of talks, will Ukraine keep pushing for a more decisive military victory to gain leverage for some deal down the road?
YATSENYUK: Well, here is the thing. Last month, we discussed whether there is any chance for a diplomatic solution. I was, I am and I will be very skeptical about any kind of diplomatic solution with Russia. They have the number of options and they have the number of window opportunities not even to wage this war. But Putin -- you know there's no even off-ramp for Putin because he cornered himself. And that's the biggest problem.
So, I believe the only chance for us to cut any kind of deal is to win at the battlefield. The only victory is the victory of Ukrainian military, which is to reclaim the territories that have been occupied by the Russian military, and only afterwards Putin may be to realize that there is no other options rather than to push back and to sit at some kind of a negotiating table and to hammer out the deal.
But the deal is very clear. Ukraine is to restore its territorial integrity and Russia is to respect Ukraine as an independent country.
BLITZER: And the speedy of the delivery of the U.S. weaponry, the howitzers, and all the other equipment, that will certainly help in your effort.
The former Ukrainian prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk --
YATSENYUK: No doubt.
BLITZER: -- thank you so much for joining us. I want to continue our conversations down the road. I appreciate it very, very much. Thank you.
YATSENYUK: Thank you.
BLITZER: There is more breaking news coming up next. A key vote to protect access to abortion here in the United States fails in the Senate, just ahead of a possible Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. We're going to talk about that and more with the former Obama attorney general, Eric Holder. He's standing by live.
Plus, new details of how an air traffic controller taught a man who never flown a plane to a safe landing after the pilot passed out.
BLITZER: Breaking news tonight, a key procedural vote to protect access to abortion has just failed in the United States Senate by a vote of 49 to 51 with Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia joining Republicans to block the measure from advancing. This comes as a leaked draft shows the Supreme Court's new conservative majority likely to overturn Roe versus Wade, the ruling that the right to an abortion almost 50 years ago.
Let's talk about this and more with the former Obama attorney general of the United States, Eric Holder.
Attorney General, thank you so much for joining us. Your new book is entitled "Our Unfinished March: The Violent Past and Imperiled Future of the Vote, A History, A Crisis, A Plan".
Thanks so much, Attorney General, for writing this book. Thanks so much for joining us.
You say be surprised if the final opinion in the Supreme Court reflects the language in Justice Alito's original draft. But even if the tone is water down a bit, do you expect the U.S. Supreme Court to ultimately overturn Roe versus Wade?
ERIC HOLDER, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: I think the point you make is a good one. Whatever I say about the language is secondary to what I think the court is likely to do, which is to overturn Roe versus Wade, turn its back on the precedent, turn its back on the reliance that people have put into the Roe decision over the course of the last almost 50 years. This is going to have a seismic impact on our nation. And I think have a negative impact on the views of many people with regard to the legitimacy of the Supreme Court.
BLITZER: In your new book, which I've gone through, obviously you call this, and I'm quoting now, you call this quote, stolen Supreme Court, your words. You describe a quote, illegitimate conservative majority.
Have you, the former attorney general of the United States, lost faith in the legitimacy of the U.S. Supreme Court? HOLDER: I wouldn't say not -- I wouldn't say I lost total faith in
the legitimacy of the court, and yet, if Merrick Garland had an opportunity to have a hearing and had been confirmed. And if we had not rush to have Amy Coney Barrett confirmed while people were voting, you would now have a 54 Supreme Court progressives as opposed to conservatives.
And he would be in a fundamental place with regard to this decision concerning Roe versus Wade. And also with regard to a whole range of other issues that the court has decided since the time that Merrick Garland should've been on the court.
BLITZER: As you know, in Florida right now, it looks like an injunction is coming to block Governor Ron DeSantis's congressional map over concerns it would illegally harm black voters in Florida. But DeSantis is already gearing up to appeal.
When it comes to this erosion of voting rights, and you write a lot about in your new book, do you feel like you've got a garden hose to fight a forest fire?
HOLDER: I think we actually have, and we don't understand as Americans, we actually have the necessary tools to fight, as you described, this forest fire of voter suppression. What's happened in Florida today is an indication of when people gather together, go to court, ask judges to look at what people in the executive branch or somebody like the sentence is trying to do and then DeSantis gets knocked down. You've seen people around the country put in place, independent commissions to do the registering to fight gerrymandering.
It really will involve, as we've, seen as we talk about in the book, when ordinary people, so-called ordinary people get together and really commit themselves, dedicate themselves, prepare to sacrifice. You can make fundamental structural changes to the United States government. And that is what is called upon us to do right now. This is a democracy that is at risk, a democracy that is in peril, but not one that cannot be saved.
BLITZER: You write a lot about your fears about democracy in America and he worn, in your new, book that America could go down a path where you, and I'm quoting you now, a minority party that doesn't represent the interests or the desires of the people would hold on to power by rigging the system in its favor. That's a direct quote from you.
Do you believe the country is already there?
HOLDER: I'm not sure we're already there but we certainly have, we see instances of minority rule in a variety of states as a result of partisan and racial gerrymandering, where you have these abortion laws being passed that are not supported by the majority of the people in the states, and yet, legislators vote for them knowing that they are in safe, gerrymandered districts and they face no electoral consequence for them.
I'm also worried about how elections could be rigged, given we have seen grow out of the fallacies of January the 6th. And this notion of, stolen election, this notion of voters casting votes illegally.
All of that is simply not bolstered by the facts. And yet policies are being put in place, people, career people being removed from key elections positions and replaced by partisans.
And I have to add, to be fair, some really good Republican career folks like Vanderbilt in Michigan, potentially Raffensperger in Georgia, people who are Republicans and simply do their jobs. And as a result of doing their jobs, they are being removed by the party.
BLITZER: The former attorney general of the United States, Eric Holder, thanks so much for joining us. Thanks for writing "Our Unfinished March: The Violent Past and Imperiled Future of the Vote: A History, A Crisis, A Plan". There's the cover.
Thanks so much for joining us.
HOLDER: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Other news we are following tonight, the U.S. State Department is strongly condemning the killing of a Palestinian American journalist who was shot while killed covering an Israeli military operation.
CNN's Hadas Gold is joining us from Jerusalem right now.
Hadas, Israel says it is investigating the killing, what more are you learning tonight?
HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, I am standing outside the house of Shireen Abu Akleh. She is the veteran Al Jazeera correspondent, who was shot and killed today while on assignment, while covering an Israeli military operation, what the IDF is saying was a counterterrorism operation in the west bank town of Jenin. There is very disturbing video scene right after she was shot, showing her very clearly wearing a protective vest and helmet with the big words press across the vast.
These are things we see so many journals wearing in conflict zones. Her producer Ali Al-Samoudi was also shot, but he is in stable condition. And he saying that it was Israeli forces that shot at them. He is saying that there were no Palestinian militants directly near them.
Now, Al Jazeera is directly blaming Israeli forces for Shireen's death. They are calling the international community to hold them to account.
Now, Israeli Defense Forces are saying, as they're saying earlier, that they were operating in the area as part of a counterterrorism operations. They came under heavy fire, they said. Although initially suggesting potentially that it was Palestinian militants who Shireen got caught up in the crossfire, are now softening that. Saying at this stage it is not possible to determine who was shot there. The Defense Minister Bennie Gantz is now vowing an investigation,
saying that he wants to do a joint investigation from Palestinians and Israelis -- Wolf.
BLITZER: We will stay on top of the story. Hadas Gold in Jerusalem, thank you very much.
Up next, we're going to tell you what has been called a miracle landing. How a man who has never flown a plane before actually want up safely touching down.
BLITZER: Tonight, a nearly one billion dollar settlement has been announced of the deadly collapse of that condo building last here in Surfside Florida. And attorney for the victims' families says they've agreed on a tentative deal for $997 million. Ninety-eight people died when the building collapse from the middle of the night, last June.
Also tonight, a unique plane landing. The pilot passed out in the only other person on board had never flown a plane before.
CNN's Carlos Suarez reports.
TOWER: Caravan 333LD, Ft. Piece Tower.
CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A new pilot has joined the ranks of heroes like Captain Sully.
DARREN HARRISON, PASSENGER: I've got a serious situation here.
SUAREZ: Except this guy is not a true pilot at all.
HARRISON: My pilot has incoherent, and I have no idea how to fly an airplane.
SUAREZ: Darren Harrison is in the passenger who had to land a single engine Cessna coming back from the Bahamas Tuesday after the pilot was incapacitated.
TOWER: Caravan 333LD, Roger, what's your position?
HARRISON: I have no idea. Ocean in front of me, I have no idea.
TOWER: Soon enough, the plane was located on radar about 20 miles east of Boca Raton, Florida, and air traffic controller Robert Morgan was urgently cauldron from his brake to help Harrison who suddenly in charge of landing the plane.
TOWER: What was the situation with the pilot?
HARRISON: He is incoherent. He is out. TOWER: 3LD, Roger, tried to hold the wings level and see if you can
start descending for me. Push forward on the controls and descend at a very slow rate.
SUAREZ: Morgan's been an air traffic controller for 20 years and is also a flight instructor. He took us of in his Cessna today to show us just how he helped Harrison get out of the air safely.
TOWER: This is our propeller which moves the blades.
SUAREZ: Even given me a chance to taken over the controls.
I've never done this before. You get the call. What's the first thing that I need to do?
ROBERT MORGAN, HELPED PASSENGER LAND PLANE: So, he was kind of like stable, right? He was already stable at 3,000, you're just going to grab the control wheel. Gentle. Not a lot of pressure. It's like holding your first girlfriend's hand.
SUAREZ: Teaching two novice pilots to fly in just two days time.
MORGAN: So you have the controls, so you're flying now.
SUAREZ: If there was ever a moment of panic for either Morgan or Harrison, you would never know by listening to their calm exchange over the radio.
MORGAN: He was a really good listener.
SUAREZ: And how good of a landing was it?
MORGAN: I would rate his landing a ten. So, I've never flown that plane and he landed it safely and didn't damage it and didn't damage, nobody got hurt.
SUAREZ: The two are definitely happy to see each other after the plane was on the ground.
MORGAN: I was just about in two years. I didn't cry, trying to be strong. Look very manly. But I kind of wanted to cry. There was just a lot of emotion. Gave him a big bear hug. Shook hands. Told him I owe him a cold beer, he said, no, I owe you.
BLITZER: CNN's Carlos Suarez reporting, thanks very much for that report. Good way to end our show.
To our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.