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School Police Chief Dodges Questions When Confronted By CNN; School Police Chief Says He's In Contact With Dept. Of Public Safety; DPS Says He Hasn't Responded To Follow-up Interview Request; State Senator: Expect Full Report On Shooting Probe By Friday; U.S. Sending Most Powerful Rocket System Yet To Ukraine; School Police Chief To CNN: "I'm In Contact" With Authorities "Every Day;" Jury Finds Both Amber Heard And Johnny Depp Liable For Defamation, Awards Depp More Money; White House Struggles To Answer Basic Questions About Baby Formula Shortage. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired June 01, 2022 - 18:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the TikTok at JakeTapper. You can tweet the show at TheLeadCNN. You can listen to our podcasts wherever you get your podcasts.

Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer right next door to place I'd like to call THE SITUATION ROOM. See you tomorrow.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, CNN tries to get answers from the embattled Uvalde school police chief. But he dodges key questions about his response to the shooting massacre and mistakes that were made. Standby for exclusive reporting, as officials accounts of what happened keep changing every day.

Also, tonight, Russia is hitting back after the U.S. agrees to send more advanced rocket systems to Ukraine. The Kremlin claiming the move is adding, quote, fuel to the fire. This as Russian forces have gained ground in eastern Ukraine, leaving a key city on the brink.

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.

For the first time in a week, we're now hearing from the man who led the widely criticized police response to the Texas school massacre. CNN confronting the Uvalde school district police chief and pressing him about his decision not to immediately engage the gunman. Listen to CNN exclusive one-on-one with that Police Chief, Pete Arredondo.




PROKUPECZ: -- (INAUDIBLE) and what -- ARREDONDO: (INAUDIBLE) but just to let you all know, and I just spoke

with them.

PROKUPECZ: I know you did.

ARREDONDO: You don't block me, are you?

PROKUPECZ: No, no, no.


PROKUPECZ: Turn this way.

ARREDONDO: Just so you all know because you all know, obviously, we're not going to release anything. We have people in our community being very useful. So we're going to be respectful --

PROKUPECZ: I just want your reaction to --

ARREDONDO: We're going to be --

PROKUPECZ: -- the directing grow thing that you were responsible for the decision --

ARREDONDO: Right. We're going to be --

PROKUPECZ:-- to go in that room. How do yourself to the parents?

ARREDONDO: We're going to be respectful to the family.

PROKUPECZ: I understand it but you have an opportunity to explain yourself to the parent.

ARREDONDO: And just so you know, we're going to do that eventually, obviously.


ARREDONDO: And whenever this is done and let the families quick grieving, then we'll do that, obviously. And just so everybody knows, we've been in contact with DPS every day, just so you all know. Everyday.

PROKUPECZ: They said that you're not cooperating.

ARREDONDO: I've been on the phone with them every day.

PROKUPECZ: But they're saying you're not cooperating, sir. Just two seconds.

ARREDONDO: Just so you know we've been talking to them every day.

PROKUPECZ: What did your -- what is your reaction to them?

ARREDONDO: You know, have a good day.

PROKUPECZ: What is your reaction, sir?


BLITZER: CNN Crime and Justice Correspondent, Shimon Prokupecz who's been doing amazing reporting from the scene now for days and days. He's joining us live from Uvalde, Texas. Shimon, we just heard you speaking exclusively with the embattled school police chief. Tell us more about what he said and what you're learning tonight.

PROKUPECZ: Right. Well, certainly the opportunity to ask him some questions was a top priority, because he is the man that is at the center of the decision making that went in on the day of the shooting. And so finding him and asking him these questions was critical. He has been avoiding the media, he has not been attending any of the press conferences.

And so finally, we were able to ask him some questions. And clearly you can see there, Wolf, that he was dodging most of those questions. But wanting to make a point, because there is a discrepancy here, wanting to make a point that he is cooperating with state investigators. The DPS, the Department of Public Safety, which is leading this investigation, they tell us that that is not the case, releasing a statement saying that he has not been returning calls to the Texas Rangers who want to ask him additional questions. So there clearly is a discrepancy.

But as you can see, Wolf, dodging on the central issue. We also learned that he actually received active shooter training back in December. So again, all these questions as to why he made that decision during the shooting, not to storm that classroom and neutralize the gunman.

BLITZER: You know, Shimon, the Police Chief Arredondo, he was sworn in as the city council member last night after the mayor there indicated that wasn't going to happen. Explain to our viewers what went on.

PROKUPECZ: Right. So clearly, this was a case where the mayor and city officials did not want us to be present with -- or the chief in a place where we could question him, because the initial thing we were told was that this was going to be public. This was on the schedule for him to be sworn in as a city council member and for the public, for the media to come and for the public to come.

And then we were told, well, this was not going to happen. There was not going to be any kind of a ceremony and that we -- there would be nothing for us to see.


Well, we get word late last night that it did happen. But what they did, Wolf, was that they had every city council member who needed to be sworn in coming individually. Therefore, they did not have to have a public display of this and therefore we didn't know about it. And so certainly, that was a surprise to us last night, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, a surprise to all of us, indeed. Shimon Prokupecz in Uvalde. Thank you very, very much.

Also tonight, criticism of the police response to the shooting continues to mount as officials accounts of what happened keep changing. CNN's Ed Lavandera is on the scene for us following all the new developments.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight the Uvalde community is demanding answers and accountability in the wake of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary. Albert Martinez is related to three of the victims. His biggest frustration right now is finding answers.

ALBERT MARTINEZ, UVALDE RESIDENT: The biggest hurt that I have right now is that we're not getting the right answers right now. According to what we're hearing, you know, people are saying this and then people are saying that. I just wish they will come up with a right answer. So this is what happened exactly.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): At the center of it, why the incident commander on site at Robb Elementary kept officers waiting outside the classrooms instead of going in. The Uvalde School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo is facing harsh criticism for that decision.

Authorities are now clarifying another key detail of how the gunman got inside the school. Texas Department of Public Safety investigators say the door that the killer used to get inside the school was closed but the door did not lock. This contradiction earlier claimed by police that a teacher had left the door propped open.

And this active shooter audio obtained by CNN Affiliate KSAT went out to parents while officers were already on site, treating it as a barricaded subject situation. A source familiar with the situation said two students inside were calling 911 begging for help.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is an active shooter at Robb Elementary. Law enforcement is on site. Your cooperation is needed at this time by not visiting the campus.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): This as the community buries a teacher who died protecting her students. And also one of the young students killed. The memorial of flowers continues to grow. So is the resentment for Arredondo, who was sworn in as a city council member yesterday in a private ceremony after being elected last month.

ARREDONDO: To me, nothing's complicated. Everything has a solution.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Back in April, Arredondo stressed the importance of communication at a candidate forum hosted by a local college.

ARREDONDO: Communication obviously is key. I think through communication, everything can be resolved whatever the issues may be.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Texas Governor Greg Abbott has requested the creation of special legislative committees to look into school safety, mental health, social media, police training, firearm safety and more. But Republican State Senator Kel Seliger is calling on the governor to do more and says gun legislation needs to be on the table.

KEL SELIGER (R-TX), STATE SENATE: This is not a partisan or Republican issue, Ed. Those children in the Uvalde, they weren't Republicans or Democrats, they were children. And they depend upon people like the legislature to do those things that make schools safe and we've not done so.


LAVANDERA: And Wolf, the Texas State Teachers Association is also saying tonight that Governor Abbott's idea of forming these special legislative committees is simply not enough that the state of Texas and Texans deserve better. They call that plan weak. Wolf?

BLITZER: Ed Lavandera in Uvalde for us. Thank you very much.

Joining us now, the Texas State Senator Roland Gutierrez, who represents Uvalde. Senator, thank you so much for joining us. You saw what the Uvalde school district's police chief told CNN. He claims to be in touch every day with authorities investigating this shooting. That's not what they say though. Do you have any clarity tonight on whether Arredondo is cooperating with authorities?

ROLAND GUTIERREZ (D), TEXAS STATE SENATOR: I don't hear anybody. Guys?

BLITZER: I think we're having trouble connecting with our audio with the State Senator Roland Gutierrez. We're going to try to fix that. And as soon as we do, we'll have this interview. It's an important interview.

We'll take a quick break. Much more of our coverage coming up right after this.



BLITZER: We've re-established our connection with the Texas State Senator Roland Gutierrez who represents Uvalde. He's joining us live right now. Senator, thank you so much for joining us.

You saw what the Uvalde School District's police chief just told CNN. He claims to be in touch every day, his words, every day with authorities investigating this horrible shooting. That's not though what they say. Do you have any clarity tonight on whether this police chief, the school district Police Chief Arredondo is, in fact, cooperating with authorities?

GUTIERREZ: Well, at this time, Wolf, I mean they still indicate that they -- that he is not cooperating. That's what I have asked and that seems to be the indication. That said, however, I mean, we've got so many problems with this investigation on every level. And we've been told many different things back and forth. One day it's one thing, the next day it's another.

Yesterday, they exonerated the teacher that they said propped open the door. This investigation just seems like one botched error after the next.

BLITZER: Yes, they got to learn from what happened to make sure it doesn't happen again. You say you're expecting a full and final report from the Texas Department of Public Safety by this Friday, if not earlier. Do you have any update right now, Senator, on when that report will be released and what exactly it will reveal?


GUTIERREZ: I asked for a report not just for ballistics, that's not quite as important to me, but a report that suggests to us exactly where each officer was situated because we can have that information now, from each different law enforcement unit. I want to know where the DPS officers are where specifically because those folks are accountable to me, the federal police, the city police and the county, as well as the school police, at what times.

We need that detailed report to ascertain if there was the reasonable manpower to have gone in at 12:03 when there was 19 officers in the hallway. I would suggest to you that we did have enough people to be able to search that room. That report, I asked for it. I was told I'd get it on Friday.

Earlier today, it was suggested to me that that may not happen, that there might be a delay. And what I pushed back, I was told that they would reconsider and that tomorrow I would get my answer. Their delay they suggest is because they can -- they're -- the district attorney is continuing to investigate this issue.

Listen, at the end of the day, this community, these people need to know where law enforcement was in which if any of them violated their duty.

BLITZER: If they did make major mistakes, major blunders, everyone has to learn from those mistakes to make sure it doesn't happen again. I know you're also demanding radio transmissions in the 911 call, Senator. Will the report include all those details?

GUTIERREZ: Well, I have asked for that in an oral request. I need to memorialize that in writing. But we will do that here by the end of the day, Wolf.

BLITZER: That's important, really important material. As you know, the Texas Governor Greg Abbott is now calling for what he says will be a special legislative committee or committees to meet in light of this shooting. What's your reaction to that?

GUTIERREZ: No such thing in our legislative rules that we have interim committee hearings. He indeed has tried to bamboozle I think this community into thinking that we're actually going to do something. We -- he did this. This is the same deal that he did after Santa Fe and El Paso and Sutherland Springs, roundtables, recommendations, and nothing led to any meaningful legislation. The only thing that can get us into that building is a special session called for a date certain that only he can call and that is yet to for been done.

BLITZER: Let's see if he does that. Senator Roland Gutierrez of Uvalde, thank you so much for joining us. Thanks for all you're doing. We are appreciative. Appreciate it very, very much.

GUTIERREZ: Thank you, sir.

BLITZER: Appreciate it. Thanks for joining us.

GUTIERREZ: Thank you.

BLITZER: Let's turn now to the war in Ukraine where there are major developments unfolding right now. The United States has just agreed to send Ukraine more powerful rocket systems. The move comes as Russian forces make steady gains on the eastern battlefield while Ukrainian defenders warn they'll need much more to push Putin's troops back.

Let's discuss with the State Department spokesperson, Ned Price. Ned, thanks for joining us. This rocket system, this new rocket system can strike within a nearly 50-mile range. But that's far short of what Ukraine has been asking for. As you well know, they've wanted a range of about 200 miles. Why isn't the U.S. meeting that Ukrainian request?

NED PRICE, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: Well, Wolf, this system is precisely what our Ukrainian partners have been asking for, and you've heard our Ukrainian partners voiced their gratitude over the course of the day today for the United States for providing this system. We have been in constant discussions with our Ukrainian partners.

Secretary Blinken regularly speaks to Foreign Minister Kuleba, Secretary Austin at the Pentagon regularly speaks to his Ukrainian counterpart to hear precisely what they need and when they need it. And over the course of this conflict that has now gone on for nearly 100 days, we have shifted and we have adapted what we are providing to our Ukrainian partners based precisely on those needs.

So let me give you an example. When Russia thought that it could take the city of Kyiv, topple the entire country within the first few days of its invasion, we were providing our Ukrainian partners with anti- air systems, anti-armor systems, precisely the kinds of systems that our Ukrainian partners would need to protect and defend an urban center like Kyiv. Now that the fighting has moved to the Donbas, now that Russia has been forced to narrow its aims and to narrow its objectives, we are providing exactly what our Ukrainian partners have asked for that will be effective in the fight for the Donbas. This includes artillery, it includes how it serves, it includes the rocket systems that you referred to today.

BLITZER: Because the Kremlin accuses the U.S. as, you know, right now of adding, quote, fuel to the fire by providing these rockets to Ukraine. How real is the risk of provoking Putin right now by providing Ukraine with this more advanced rocket system.

[18:20:01] PRICE: Well, Wolf, I think the world should be surprised that the Kremlin is expressing any degree of surprise. And I say that because well before Vladimir Putin went into Ukraine, President Biden spoke to him and was very direct. We also made this message public as well.

We promised, we pledged to our Ukrainian partners, to our NATO allies, but also to the Russian Federation that we would do three things if Russia went forward with this invasion. We would provide above and beyond in terms of defensive security assistance, what we are already providing to Ukraine. We, of course, have done that, with another $700 million today, more than $4 billion since the start of this invasion.

We pledged that we would reinforce NATO, including its eastern flank to reassure our allies, including those along the border with Russia. And we pledged that we would hold Moscow accountable. And that we would mount these significant costs and consequences that you've seen the United States and dozens of countries around the world across four continents come to fulfill. We've done all of those things.

So the fact that Russia is now claiming any degree of surprise or warning of escalation, we think that is quite rich. Here's the facts, Wolf, it is Russia that started this war, it is Russia that can in this war. If Ukraine stopped fighting today, there would be no Ukraine. There would be no democratic, sovereign, independent country of Ukraine.

If Russia stopped fighting today, the war would end and lives would be saved. That is our goal, is to bring this war to an end, to diminish the violence and to save lives.

BLITZER: What kind of assurances, Ned, exactly has the U.S. received from Ukraine that these new U.S. weapon systems won't be used to hit targets within Russian territory. The President said the other day that he doesn't want U.S. supplied weapons to launch at targets inside Russia.

PRICE: Well, Wolf, we have been in constant communication with our Ukrainian partners and everything we have provided, the Ukrainians has had one goal and only one objective in mind, and that is self-defense. You have to remember that Ukrainians are fighting for their freedom, for their democracy, for their sovereignty, really for their country.

And everything we have provided them prior to February 24th and since February 24th, has been with that single objective in mind, and that is self-defense. Our Ukrainian partners have, in fact, assured us that they will not strike at targets inside Russian territory.

We have a great degree of trust, a great and close relationship with our Ukrainian partners that has been honed over the course of this war, but of course, was pre-existing well before this war. So we have full faith and confidence that our Ukrainian partners will put this defensive equipment to good use, and they proven that they're able to do so.

You have to remember, as I said before, that we're now almost 100 days into this war. There were those in the Kremlin who thought that this war would be over within 100 hours. The fact that we are now some three months later speaks to the effectiveness, speaks to the grit, the determination that our Ukrainian partners have wielded on the battlefield, have demonstrated on the battlefield and the effectiveness with which they have fought, with the security assistance that the United States and our partners around the world to provide it.

BLITZER: It certainly does. The State Department Spokesperson Ned Price, thank you so much for joining us.

PRICE: Thanks, Wolf. Appreciate it.

BLITZER: Coming up, after a CNN exclusive encounter with the Uvalde school district police chief, we're looking deeper and deeper into his record and what it reveals about his training for the job.



BLITZER: Right now, we want to do a follow-up on CNN's exclusive one- on-one with the Uvalde school district police chief ask questions, very serious questions are swirling about the decisions he made during the shooting massacre.

Brian Todd is joining us right now. I know Brian, you've been taking a closer look at Chief Pete Arredondo and his record, what are you learning?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We have, Wolf, and we have new information tonight details on the chief's background and on the training he's received to deal with active shooters in schools.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have a good day, sir.

ARREDONDO: You too, thank you.

TODD (voice-over): The embattled police chief of the Uvalde school district telling CNN that contrary to what the Texas Department of Public Safety has said, he's communicating with investigators.

ARREDONDO: We're going to be respectful to the family.

PROKUPECZ: I understand it but you have an opportunity to explain yourself to the parents.

ARREDONDO: And just so you know, we're going to do that eventually, obviously.


ARREDONDO: And whenever this is done and let the families quick grieving, then we'll do that, obviously. TODD (voice-over): Pete Arredondo, a 50-year-old native of Uvalde began his law enforcement career nearly 30 years ago, working his way up from modest positions in the Uvalde City Police Department.

ARREDONDO: I started there as a telecommunicator and 911 dispatcher and worked my way up to the ranks of an assistant chief of police.

TODD (voice-over): After spending nearly 16 years with Uvalde city police, Arredondo moved south to Webb County, Texas, where among his jobs with the sheriff's department there, he worked as a jailer. Then he took a job with the United Independent School District Police in Laredo, along the border with Mexico.

We interviewed Chief Ray Garner, Arredondo's boss there who told us Arredondo was a captain responsible for the safety of 21 schools and had at least 30 officers and 60 security guards under his command.

CHIEF RAY GARNER, LAREDO UNITED INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT POLICE: He was well liked by the men and women of this department. And he was good to work with. The principals at the different campuses really liked him, and he communicated well with him.

TODD (voice-over): Arredondo was approved as chief of the Uvalde School District Police in 2020. According to his professional training file obtained by CNN, Pete Arredondo, completed active shooter training three times, most recently in December 2021. One of those training courses was under the command of Ray Garner, who Arredondo had a high score.

GARNER: I know that we provided that training, I don't know what was running through his mind why he made that decision if he made that decision at all. But I can only tell you what I would do, we're going in that room.

TODD (voice-over): Even with decades of experience and training was the commander of a six member police force the right person to lead the response at that critical moment?

JONATHAN WACKROW, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: You have to have experience and knowledge of how to operate a multi-jurisdictional, multi-agency response to this type of critical situation. I do not believe that this individual had the right training or experience to lead such a significant response on that day.


TODD: We contacted the top police union in Texas and asked what they thought of Chief Arredondo's command on the day of the shooting. They declined to comment citing respect for the grieving families. But the union has called for all of its members to cooperate with investigators. Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's hope they do. All right, thanks very much, Brian Todd, reporting for us.

Let's get some more on all of this. Joining us now CNN Senior Law Enforcement Analyst Charles Ramsey and CNN Counterterrorism Analyst Phil Mudd.

Phil, Chief Arredondo tells CNN he's in touch with investigators. But that's not what they say. Does that raise red flags for you?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Boy, let me disturb you here, Wolf, not yet. Look, you have the state investigators and as you know, the FBI, the federal investigators had been invited to come in for their own investigation. If I were the chief, there's a chance I would not cooperate with those state investigators.

My answer would be quite simple. I want to tell my story. I want to make sure that I don't tell a different story to the state investigators that I tell to the state investigators because they're a week apart. I want to have one story. Why don't we all sit together and I'll sit together whenever you and the federal investigators decided to sit together.

I'm not sure that his responses. I won't coordinate with you and I won't respond. I wonder if part of the response is, I'm waiting for the feds to come in. I don't want to have multiple stories over time. That's the best gloss I can give you because this is an ugly story, Wolf.

BLITZER: And it's so tragic what happened, obviously.

Chief Ramsey, we know that Arredondo completed active shooter training, what, just five months before this horrible shooting. What does that say that he apparently didn't follow that kind of training given the decisions that he made?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I mean, he may -- he certainly had the training, apparently that's in the files. But Wolf, it's -- to me, it's simple, not everyone can make decisions under stress. Just because you have a title doesn't make you a real leader, especially in times of stress, when critical decisions have to be made. Not everybody can do that. And I think that's probably the missing link there, right?

Well, if he went through the -- through that training, I don't know if his role during that training was to make decisions or what have you, because the training is such that the first officers on the scene they go in, you don't wait to be told what to do by some ranking officer. He was there on the scene. So obviously, because of our structure, people would look to him for decisions. But again, not everybody can make decisions under stress. And apparently he may be one of those kinds of people.

BLITZER: Yes, we will find out fairly soon.

You know, Phil, take a look at the many conflicting reports put out by Texas authorities. We've got them on the screen right now. Have you ever seen anything like this before?

MUDD: Yes. Let me give you another uncomfortable message, Wolf, if you want it bad, you're going to get it bad. Within 24 to 48 hours of the incident, you want a full story here. And that full story has to include things that the federal investigators will dig into. Those things include interviews with witnesses, those witnesses are observers and families, and obviously officers.

Those witnesses will give conflicting reports, so those interviews will have to be done again and again. You have to look at video from cell phones, video from the school, ballistics and things like what happened from multiple dispatches to different individuals from different agencies and how that corresponded to what they were trained to do. And people want to know why those answers aren't available within 48 hours.

If you want it bad, you're going to get it bad, Wolf. The problem is in a moment of emotion, we need patience for the FBI and the Department of Justice to come in and say it's going to take us months and 500 pages to solve that. And nobody wants that answer right now, Wolf. They want answers right now and we don't have them.

BLITZER: That's a good point.

All right, Phil Mudd, thanks very much. Chief Ramsey, thanks as usual to you as well.

Just ahead, authorities in Bucha, Ukraine say they're still finding lots of evidence of Russian war crimes, uncovering new bodies weeks after Kremlin forces pulled out of the region. We have new information. We'll share it with you when we come back.



BLITZER: Ukraine is now warning the Russians are making significant progress in the east with one key city now on the brink of full control by Kremlin forces. This, as Ukrainians near Kyiv, the capital, say they're still uncovering atrocities several weeks after Putin's troops pulled out of that part of the country. CNN's Matthew Chance has more.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the liberated villages north of the Ukrainian capital, the streets aligned with the scars of war. And it's not just buildings destroyed.

We met Serhiy, a villager whose home was overrun by Russian troops who then shot him he says and left him dead.


(on camera): So it went there and then it went out at the back?

(voice-over): He shows me the gut wrenching bullet wounds, but his emotional scars run even deeper war.

Sometimes I have nightmares and can't sleep at night, and I pray they won't ever come back he tells me through tears of pain and anger. I'll never forgive Russians for what they did, he says.

And they did much worse. Just steps from Serhiy's door, police forensic teams are unearthing yet another crime scene. Weeks after Russian troops were pushed from this area, locals are still finding the bodies of their neighbors. We were shown three makeshift graves on this street alone.

(on camera): What do you think when you see this? What goes through your mind when you see these bodies being dug from the shallow graves at the side of the road?

YEVHEN YENIN, DEPUTY INTERIOR MINISTER: So, we see that Russian troops have already gone for more than one month but we still find the evidence of their presence.

CHANCE (voice-over): That's astonishing, isn't it? That even a month after they've gone, more than a month, so still finding bodies.

(voice-over): Ukrainian officials tell me more than 320 civilians are still missing in this region alone, but one by one, there being found.

YENIN: So a lot of people are missing. I cannot imagine the eyes of mothers whose children they lost. I cannot imagine eyes of relatives whose beloved have been captured or have been killed on the front line.

CHANCE (on camera): It is a awful grim business digging up the bodies of the 1000s of people scattered across this entire country in shallow graves that have yet to be identified. This was Vitaly (ph), just 43 years old. And the neighbors tell me he didn't present a threat to the Russians, he wasn't a soldier, in fact, he was vulnerable. He didn't have a job, he drank too much, his family had left him, but he was hungry, and he was trying to get some food from a Russian vehicle that was parked just here when they caught him and shot him dead.

(voice-over): Just one of the many alleged crimes, many tragedies in the Ukrainian nightmare that's yet to end.


CHANCE: Well, Wolf, there's more concerns tonight about the civilian population, but of another city where there's the fierce fighting taking place of the war at the moment in Severodonetsk in the east of the country. Eighty percent of that town now held by the Russians according to Ukrainian sources, and there are bodies in the streets apparently of civilians trapped inside.

BLITZER: Horrible situation all around the country, indeed. Matthew Chance reporting for us, thank you very much.

Coming up, a surprising split decision in the Johnny Depp Amber Heard defamation trial. We'll explain when we come back.



BLITZER: A jury in Johnny Depp's defamation case against his ex-wife Amber Heard has just handed down a verdict. The jury also ruled on Heard's countersuit against Depp.

CNN's Chloe Melas is joining us with details.

Chloe, explain this verdict, what happened.

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: Hey there, Wolf. It was a big moment for Johnny Depp and his legal team. A big win, so the jury finding that Heard defamed Johnny Depp, her ex-husband, in three separate statements.

This all goes back to a "Washington Post" op-ed that she wrote in 2018 where she didn't name Johnny by name specifically, but she said that she had been a victim of domestic abuse. Johnny taking the stand multiple times saying I never laid a hand on anybody.

Now, Depp was awarded $10 million in compensatory damages, $5 million in punitive. He had been seeking $50 million. Now, I do want to, though, point out Amber heard was countersuing Johnny Depp for $100 million. They awarded her $2 million and found that he defamed her in one particular statement, so tiny win there for her, but really this was unanimous in favor of Johnny Depp.

And I think it shocked a lot of people because there were several days of jury deliberations, Wolf, and we didn't know which way this was going to swing. Although the court of public opinion has been heavily in Depp's favor.

BLITZER: It certainly has been.

All right. Chloe, thank you very, very much.

I want to bring in former assistant U.S. attorney Kim Wehle. She's the author of the book, "How to Think Like a Lawyer and Why".

There's the cover. Kim, you say that by delivering this verdict, the jury essentially disbelieved all of the evidence presented by Amber Heard's alleged abuse. So, what does that say about how the jury thought about this rather complicated case?

KIM WEHLE, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, Wolf, as Chloe mentioned, they also awarded her damages for alleged or defamatory statements about whether she's telling the truth. At the end of the day, all this case was about is whether she was lying in suggesting in that op-ed that she was a domestic abuse victim. If she was lying, then Depp should win both cases.


If she wasn't lying, then she should win both cases.

The fact that they found half for him and partially for her to me suggests they weren't entirely focusing on the facts and the law. They were saying, listen, they were awful to each other. We kind of side with him, and you know, most domestic abuse victims don't act the way she did, so this is how we're going to settle the score between these two famous people.

Because legally, Wolf, her defamation, particularly given he's a public figure, he had a higher burden of proof. It's like you imagine the Olympics, someone has to jump over seven hurdles to win the gold. Any one of them, he had a really hard case to make. The fact that he sailed over all of them to the tune of $15 million to me suggests the jury wasn't really looking at the evidence, and the law, the legal standard, they were more judging the fairness of this very high profile sordid tale.

BLITZER: Chloe, I know you're doing a lot of reporting. Tell us what you can about how both Depp and Heard have reacted to the verdicts.

MELAS: I mean, look, our eyes were glued to the televisions, right? And people all over the world are watching, were watching this verdict as it was read.

BLITZER: Amber remained very stoic. She released a statement to CNN just moments after Johnny Depp was in the U.K., he had been performing, again, we have thought that perhaps this trial was going to wrap up before Memorial Day, so perhaps these were dates that he had scheduled.

This is what Amber Heard said. She said: I'm heart broken. She went on to say this sets women back. She says, quote, it sets back the clock to a time when a woman who spoke up and spoke out could be publicly shamed and humiliated.

So, that's part of her statement, and her stance. She's going to be appealing this. We heard from her spokesperson this evening. So, we'll keep you guys posted on that.

Now, as for Johnny Depp, he had a very lengthy statement as well. He said that he did this for his children. He wanted to set the record straight, and he says the jury gave me my life back.

BLITZER: Chloe and Kim, guys, thank you very, very much.

Just ahead, President Biden down in the white House now struggling to answer basic questions about the response to the baby formula shortage here in the United States.



BLITZER: We have some breaking news out of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Police responding to an active shooter near a hospital. We are told the suspect has been shot, it is not clear if he was shot by police or he shot himself. Authorities say there are injuries.

CNN, of course, will stay on this story as we get more details. Standby for that. Also this just in to CNN, Pfizer now says it has officially completed

the submission, asking the FDA to authorize the use of its COVID vaccines in children under the age of five. Data from Pfizer's trial in the youngest age group appears to show the vaccine was both safe and effective. A key advisory committee is scheduled to discuss this request on June 15, that's two weeks from today.

Finally, tonight, a new weeks from today. Finally tonight, a new admission by President Biden as the White House attempts to address the urgent shortage of baby formula in this country.

Let's go to our White House correspondent, MJ Lee.

MJ, so when did the president of the United States realize how bad things might get?

MJ LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this exchange the president had with our colleague Kaitlan Collins earlier was incredibly illuminating about what exactly the president knew and when these baby formula manufacturers told the president that they knew as early as February when the recalls started happening, when the plant in Michigan shut down that things were going to be really bad. And the president saying that if they knew, he did not, and, in fact, he said he didn't know how bad this situation would be until months later.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Here's the deal, I became aware of this problem sometime in after April -- in early April, about how intense it was, so we did everything in our power from that point on and that's all I can tell you right now.


LEE: So, all of this raising new questions for the White House, the White House remember has been saying that it has been working around the clock really since February to try to deal with this baby formula shortage issue, but now the president saying he didn't know how bad the situation was until April.

So, Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, got asked many questions about this tonight in the White House briefing room, including why didn't it the president no sooner? Who failed to inform him?

And those questions, we didn't get real answers but there was another question we asked which was does this mean the work was happening by the administration to address the shortage even while the president himself was not aware of the gravity of the situation.

And Jean-Pierre at one point suggesting that might be possible. She said the president has multiple issues, multiple crises that he is dealing with at the moment. What is for sure, this is a top crisis for this administration, the baby formula shortage and it's going to remain so for a while now -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Any indication, what did they say over there about when parents will finally see relief?

LEE: This is a question that has been a puzzling one for the administration. They are in a tricky situation because they don't want to get ahead of themselves and predict that things are going to be normal. But we have heard something to the effect of it's going to take a couple more months before parents feel like across the country that things are back to normal. That they can go to the store and they see there is formula back on the shelves, but again, this is going to be a situation that will take a while to resolve itself.

BLITZER: MJ Lee reporting for us, MJ, thanks very much.

And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.