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One-Sixth Committee Member Says, A Mountain Of Evidence For Upcoming Hearings; Biden Blames Russia, Oil And Shipping Firms, GOP For Record Inflation; Report Shows School Police Chief Denies Preventing Breach Of Classroom; Zelenskyy: Ukraine "Holding On" To Frontline Cities In East; Officials: U.S. To End COVID Testing Requirement To Enter Country. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired June 10, 2022 - 18:00   ET




WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, the January 6th select committee is ready to reveal what they describe as a mountain of additional evidence after its bombshell prime time hearing packed with chilling testimony and graphic new video of the insurrection.

Former President Trump is now firing back after the panel used his daughter's testimony against him. I'll talk to a key member of the select committee this hour.

Also tonight, record gas prices helped push inflation to a 40-year high here in the U.S. President Biden is casting blame at Russia, oil and shipping firms and Republicans even as he insists that lowering prices is his top economic priority.

And after dodging CNN's questions, the Uvalde school police chief is now speaking out and defending his response to the massacre. He's reportedly denying he prevented officers from breaching the shooting scene and confronting the gunman.

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.

Tonight, the January 6th select committee is expressing a sense of urgency, just ahead of the next public hearing on Monday. Members, warning over and over again, that democracy remains in danger and that former President Trump is still fanning the flames.

CNN Congressional Correspondent Ryan Nobles is covering the insurrection investigation.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The January 6th select committee has begun to make its case that Donald Trump is to blame for what happened on January 6th, using the words of Trump's closest allies, like Attorney General Bill Barr. WILLIAM BARR FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: I made it clear I did not agree with the idea of saying the election was stolen and putting out this stuff, which I told the president it was bullshit.

NOBLES: And family members.

IVANKA TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S DAUGHTER: I respect General Barr. So, I accepted what he was saying.

NOBLES: To lay the groundwork, that Trump knew he lost the election but told his supporters he won anyway.

The former president already pushing back, taking to his new social media platform to claim his daughter had, quote, long since checked out and was, in my opinion, only trying to be respectful to Bill Barr.

Meanwhile, the committee is forging ahead, the committee planning for seven public hearings in all. The second scheduled for Monday, the 13th. And the third on Wednesday with a fourth to be held on Thursday the 16th.

Vice Chair Cheney teasing out the themes each hearing will hit on. She says hearing two will show Trump's massive effort to spread false and fraudulent information about the election. The third will focus how the former president, quote, corruptly planned to replace the attorney general, that a hearing devoted to what the committee says was Trump's idea to get then-Vice President Pence to refuse to count electoral votes for Biden.

Trump claiming he never endorsed his supporters chanting, hang Mike Pence, calling it a, quote, made up story. After that, testimony that Cheney says describes how Trump corruptly pressured state legislatures to hand him the presidency. And finally, hearing six and seven, zeroing in on how Trump summoned a violent mob to the Capitol that led to a deadly riot, all with the aim of convincing the American people of a conspiracy to overturn the election directed by Trump.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): It's a pretty simple story of a president who lost, who couldn't stand losing.

NOBLES: Republicans, like Congressman Jim Jordan, who was a focus of the investigation, attempting to downplay the committee's work.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): This was a partisan production put on by the former head of the ABC News. I don't think we learned anything new.

NOBLES: And Committee Chair Bennie Thompson telling CNN the committee has a lot more to share.

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): We have a number of witnesses who have come forward that people are not talked to before that will documented a lot of what is going on in the Trump orbit while this was occurring.

NOBLES: And impact of the violence on January 6th still being felt today. CAROLINE EDWARDS, CAPITOL POLICE OFFICER INJURED ON JANAURY 6TH: That day, it was just hours of hand-to-hand combat, hours of dealing with things that were way beyond any law enforcement officer has ever trained for.

NOBLES: And as the committee continues to make its case, President Biden is endorsing their work and encouraging Americans to pay attention.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: It's important to the American people to understand what truly happened. I tell you what, there's a lot, lot going on.


NOBLES (on camera): And among the revelations last night was a claim by Vice Chair Liz Cheney that there were Republican members of Congress that asked the former administration for pardons in advance of the former president, Donald Trump, leaving office.


One of those particular members of Congress identified was Representative Scott Perry. Perry taking to Twitter today to push back on that claim, he says, the claim that he asked for a pardon or any other member of Congress is actually an absolute, shameless and soulless lie. Of course, Wolf, last night, the committee said that they have evidence to the contrary. We'll have to see if that evidence is revealed over these next couple hearings. Wolf?

BLITZER: Good point. Ryan Nobles, up on Capitol Hill, thank you very much.

Let's discuss what is going on with the former D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer who defended the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, Michael Fanone. He's now a CNN Law Enforcement Analyst, also with us, our Special Correspondent Jamie Gangel and our Senior Law Enforcement Analyst Andrew McCabe, the former FBI deputy director.

Jamie, you say the committee underpromised and overdelivered. So, how do they build on the case that they laid out last night in these upcoming hearings resuming Monday morning?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: I say they overdelivered because I think a lot of people were skeptical, that a year-and-a-half later, after everything we had seen, that they would bring something new. And they absolutely did.

Not only did we see new testimony, but it was really like a prosecutor laying out a case. And as, Ryan, just explained, we're now going to see these hearings evolve, and I'm told by sources familiar with the committee's investigation that we are going to see striking new testimony, striking new evidence from thousands of documents that they have from National Archives, emails, text messages.

But I think, one of the most e effective things they did, showing those depositions, the videotapes of the depositions, it took you behind the scenes.

BLITZER: Yes. It was really, really powerful moment when they did that.

Andrew, we do know that the attorney general of the United States, Merrick Garland, was watching last night. Do you expect the committee to continue to build what is being described as a roadmap for possible prosecution?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I do, Wolf. And what we saw last night was a classic approach they use in organize crime cases. The committee laid out what we refer to as a hub and spoke conspiracy, right? You have a number of different acts. You have, in this case, the president's use of misinformation and around the big lie, his contacting state officials to try to influence them to find more votes, his pressure campaign on Vice President Pence. Each one of those lines or spokes of activity involved different people. The one thing they all have in common is they were all directed by or done at the will of the man in the center, and that man is undeniably President Trump.

BLITZER: That was the case they were laying out last night and will continue.

Michael Fanone, I want to play this very dramatic, powerful moment from the testimony last night. This is Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards, I assume someone you know, describing what was going on January 6th during the fight that day.


EDWARDS: What I saw was just a war scene. It was something like I had seen out of the movies. I couldn't believe my eyes. There were officers on the ground, you know, they were bleeding. They were throwing up. They were -- you know, they had -- I mean, I saw friends with blood all over their faces. I was slipping in people's blood.


BLITZER: Do you believe Americans and Trump enablers more specifically need to hear that kind of eyewitness testimony of what happened?

MICHAEL FANONE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I do. I think it's important to hear from as many officers that were there on the ground that day as possible. You know, the way that the committee opened up this first hearing, I think, is prosecution 101. It's been, you know, more than a year since January 6th, 2021 and it was important to take the American people back to the day of the insurrection and hear firsthand testimony from an officer who was on the outer most perimeter who experienced the violence at the outset of that event.

BLITZER: Yes, it was so moving and so powerful to hear her eyewitness account.

You know, Jamie, the former president, Trump, he put out a statement now, reacting to his daughter, Ivanka's testimony accusing her of being, and I'm quoting him now, checked out on election results. What does that tell you?

GANGEL: You know, I'm laughing because it was pretty predictable. So, as Ryan mentioned in his piece, former Attorney Bill Barr said that the election fraud was, quote, to use his word bullshit, then there was tape with Ivanka Trump saying she accepted Bill Barr and accepted, in effect, siding with Barr over her father.


That resonated and the committee knew it would resonate. They know how to push Donald Trump's buttons and I expect you will see that over and over again throughout the hearing.

BLITZER: I suspect you're absolutely right.

Andrew, a former Justice Department official, Richard Donoghue, was quoted last night as describing this as an attempt to have the Department of Justice, quote, in his words, meddling in the outcome of a presidential election. How critical will it be to hear from people inside the Justice Department during the Trump administration?

MCCABE: That episode of President Trump trying to replace the acting attorney general and for the purpose of forcing the department to issue a false letter essentially to the election officials in Georgia, that is one of the most serious allegations against the former president.

We have got to hear from those witnesses, those men who were inside the Justice Department who experienced that pressure and who resisted the president's attempts to use the Justice Department as his own personal campaign attack lawyers.

BLITZER: What do you hope, Michael, to see emerge from these very powerful, dramatic hearings?

FANONE: The truth. The truth about the origins of the violence on January 6th, what role our political leaders and their subordinates played in that violence, and, ultimately, accountability for the -- not just the violence on January 6th, which, I mean, to me, obviously I have a personal vested interest in accountability for that day, but also, for the -- you know, like Andy just described, the pressure placed by the president, by his sycophants on not just the Department of Justice but all of these other who are supposed independent interties within our government to essentially overturn a free and fair election.

BLITZER: Yes. Let's hope we get that. Thanks very, very much, I appreciate it. Michael Fanone, I appreciate it very much, Jamie Gangel, Andrew McCabe.

Just ahead, we'll be joined by a key member of the January 6th select committee, Representatives Zoe Lofgren. She'll take us inside the next blockbuster hearing and the panel's case against Donald Trump.

Stay with us. You're THE SITUATION ROOM.



BLITZER: The members of the January 6th select committee promise to show the American people more crucial evidence as they prepare for the next big hearing and continue to build their case against former President Trump.

We're joined now by a key member of the panel, Representative Zoe Lofgren. Representative, thank you so much for joining us.

As you know, the chairman of your committee, Bennie Thompson, says, what we saw last night was just, quote, a down payment, his words, a down payment on more to come. How exactly will your select committee build on that case in these upcoming hearings starting Monday morning?

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Well, we're going to go methodically through each of the major problem areas with the former president, for example, examining his claims of fraud. You know, that was important because it was false. We know that he was told that it was false. And yet, he continued to stir up the American people with false narratives. That's connected to his fundraising but it's also connected ultimately to his effort to overthrow the election.

So, we have witnesses, virtually all the witnesses were from the Trump world, because they were the ones in a position to see what was going on. We have documentary evidence and we'll just march through the evidence and the witnesses so people can see what the truth is.

BLITZER: The former Fox News political editor, Chris Stirewalt, who called the 2020 race in Arizona for Biden will testify Monday morning. What specifically will he be explaining to the American people?

LOFGREN: Well, I don't want to preempt his testimony but he has insight into the loss in the campaign. He's a data analyst and knows that Trump lost and how he lost. That is also reflected in other information within the Trump campaign.

They knew that he lost. The administration knew that he lost. But as soon as he was told the specifics about these allegations being incorrect, they have been investigated. They have proven to be just bogus. He'd continue and continue to repeat them to basically confuse and lie to his supporters and the American people.

BLITZER: Republican Congressman Scott Perry says what your committee contended last night that he actually sought a pardon from former President Trump in his words as, quote, a shameless and soulless lie. How do you respond to that?

LOFGREN: Well, we will provide the evidence we have in its proper order. I would note, it made me remember the minority leader, Mr. McCarthy, claiming that he had never ever called for the president to resign and it was only an hour later that the audiotape where he did the very same thing became public. [18:20:06]

So, the evidence doesn't lie. We'll layout what we have in the proper order.

BLITZER: Jason Miller, a key Trump aide whose taped interview was featured last night, as a lot of us will remember, says he was taken out of context. We're told the full transcripts will be released at some point. Why not release them now?

LOFGREN: Well, that's up to the chairman. But I think, obviously, his interview went on for a very long time. We didn't play the whole thing. I don't think there was anything at all misleading. But we'll release the -- all the transcripts in due course and people can see there was nothing to this.

They have really no answer to what we've outlined here. I mean, this is a very serious assault on the peaceful transfer of power, really, an assault on our democratic republic. And I've heard Republican legislators talking about everything else, trying to discredit the effort but they can't.

And I think Liz Cheney said it best. One day, some day, Donald Trump will be gone but the dishonor that they have brought on themselves will remain.

BLITZER: Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, we look forward to the hearings next week. Thank you very, very much.

Coming up, the pain of high prices is only getting worse, especially if you need to fill up your car with gas.

Stay with us. You're THE SITUATION ROOM.



BLITZER: President Biden today promised he's doing everything he can to tame inflation and bring down prices for Americans. The president says Russia is to blame, also oil companies and shipping conglomerates, as well as Republicans.

Let's bring in our Kaitlan Collins. She is covering the president out in Los Angeles right now. Kaitlin, the White House is all too aware this issue of inflation could actually make or break the Democrats coming up in the midterms and then presidential contest down the road.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, it's a big vulnerability for this president and for his party. Of course, you saw him today not even try to sugarcoat these numbers because, really, there is no sugarcoating to be done given it was a very unpleasant surprise for the White House. It was hoping these numbers were going to moderate at least slightly in May and, of course, instead, they accelerated. And what you heard from President Biden today, he didn't try to make any predictions about when inflation is going to start to go down and, instead, he tried to empathize with Americans who are feeling the pain.


BIDEN: I understand Americans are anxious and they're anxious for a good reason.

COLLINS (voice over): president Biden staring down a massive political liability.

BIDEN: Make no mistake about it. I understand inflation is a real challenge to American families.

COLLINS: New data shows consumer prices soared last month sending inflation climbing 8.6 percent from last year, the highest since 1981, Biden delivering the bad news today after predicting six months ago that the inflation crisis had hit its peak.

BIDEN: I think you'll see it change sooner and quicker and more rapidly than it will take -- than most people think.

COLLINS: Prices are higher from food, fuel, rent, to used cars as Biden officials say that taming inflation is their highest priority.

CECILIA ROUSE, CHAIR, WHITE HOUSE COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: We are open to ideas. Again, some of them require working with Congress. The president is focused on lowering costs for families.

COLLINS: But those same officials say that the bulk of the response will fall to the Federal Reserve, as Friday's numbers only offer more reason for the central bank to continue raising interest rates.

ROUSE: As part of his plan, I know this doesn't sound like a plan, but, first and foremost, he respects the independence of the Federal Reserve.

COLLINS: The troubling figures could spell doom for Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections this November as Biden lashed out at Republicans, shipping conglomerates, Russian President Putin and oil companies today.

BIDEN: Exxon made more money than God this year.


COLLINS (on camera): The president having a lot of criticism there, Wolf, as he was commenting on these new numbers today. One number the White House is hoping would go down was when it comes to prices on consumer goods. The thought potentially, as they worked out issues with the supply chain, that number would start to change.

You saw President Biden speaking at the Port of Los Angeles today during his trip here to the West Coast. Of course, those numbers are still high just as the rest that we were just talking about Wolf.

And, yes, this is going to potentially have a drag on Democrats in the midterm elections. That is the concern that you hear from a lot of President Biden's allies on Capitol Hill because we are just five months away from the midterm elections.

And look at this poll that came out this week. You see that President Biden's approval numbers are a lot lower than they were when he first took office but his weakest point right now is on the economy, where he only gets a 28 percent approval rating, Wolf.

So, these are the numbers that the White House is very worried about when it comes to the inflation, because they thought it was going to start going down by now.

Of course, you saw officials like the treasury secretary to you saying that they got it wrong when they said they thought inflation was just going to be temporary. Obviously, it is still here several months later. So, now, they're trying to focus on empathizing with Americans on saying that they understand what they're going through instead of telling them when it's going to come to an end, Wolf.

BLITZER: Kaitlan Collins reporting for us from Los Angeles, thank you very much.

Meanwhile, gas prices are hitting record highs across the country.


Nationally, we're on the verge of hitting $5 a gallon. This is nationally for the first time ever.

CNN Jason Carroll is joining us now from a gas station in New Jersey. Jason, gas prices hitting another record with no end in sight right now. How bad could it actually get?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the reality is it's probably going to get a lot worse, Wolf, before better, that according to analysts. You look where we are right here in New Jersey, the price is $4.99 for unleaded, the average, that pretty much mirrors the national average. But -- to the state and people coming by here, $5.49 at one gas station across the street over there, $5.19, that's the average price for regular gas here.

But it's not alone here what is happening in New Jersey. You look across the country, there are more than -- states, Wolf, that are looking at gas prices over $5. Look at the State of California, topping that list at $6.42. Nevada, $5.62, followed by Illinois, Alaska and Michigan rounding out the top ten, $5.21.

Again, New Jersey here still seeing high prices, 21 cents here more for gas than it was just last week. The average price here now at $5.

I was speaking to one driver just a short while ago, Wolf, and you know what he told me? He said, it now costs him $50 more each time he has to fill up his tank. Another driver told me she said, every time I go to the gas station, I'm hoping the prices will go down and they just keep going up. I spoke to one analyst who tells me, by the end of the summer, the average cost for gas could be $6. Wolf?

BLITZER: It's pretty alarming. All right, Jason Carroll, thank you very much.

Just ahead, the Uvalde school police chief explains his actions for the first time pushing back at widespread criticism of his response to the massacre.



BLITZER: Tonight, after more than two weeks of dodging questions, the Uvalde school police chief is speaking out about his response to the massacre contradicting accounts of what he did and didn't do.

CNN Omar Jimenez is working this story for us in Texas.


OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Two weeks after the shooting that killed 19 students and 2 teachers, Uvalde School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo explains his actions for the first time in an interview with The Texas Tribune. Arredondo said he never issued instructions to wait to breach the building, and that he didn't consider himself the incident commander despite earlier law enforcement information saying he was in charge.

The chief telling The Texas Tribune he assumed that some other officer or official had taken control of the larger response. The chief also revealing he intentionally left his police radios behind so they wouldn't slow him down or give his location away. And without those radios, the chief said he wasn't aware of the desperate 911 calls for help coming from children inside the classrooms.

Chief Arredondo telling The Texas Tribune he called for technical gear, a sniper and keys to get inside, holding back from the doors for 40 minutes to avoid provoking sprays of gunfire. According to the interview, he also said officers couldn't enter the steel reinforced door without a key and he tried dozens of keys before finding the right one. Each time I tried a key, I was just praying and agonizing wait for the parents outside the school.

77 minutes after the shooting began and over an hour after Chief Arredondo arrived on the scene, officers were finally able to unlock the door and kill the gunman. A separate report from The New York Times referencing transcripts of body camera footage quotes a law enforcement officer heard saying, people are going to ask why we're taking so long. Some parents of the victims are criticizing law enforcement's delay.

MARK MARQUEZ, PARENT OF CHILD INJURED IN ROBB ELEMENTARY SHOOTING: They're worried about bringing them self home safe and sound. They just made the wrong choices. They're worried about the wrong things. JIMENEZ: Arredondo told The Texas Tribune his priorities that day were to get there as fast as possible, eliminate any threats and protect the students and staff.

Today was the funeral for Teacher Eva Mireles. Ten-year-old Gilberto Mata was her student and witnessed her killing along with his other teacher, Irma Garcia, and many of his friends. His parents say he's never going to be the same.

MARTINEZ: He doesn't like big crowds anymore. He used to be like, let's go do this, go do this. He's going to have to face his fears because he's never going to put it behind him.


JIMENEZ (on camera): And his parents say he's just not the same kid he was before this shooting and that he even visited these memorial sites and saw his two teachers, his classmates looking right back at him and his classmates, included his best friend who he saw get shot in front of him. Wolf?

BLITZER: So heartbreaking, indeed. Omar Jimenez, thanks for that report.

Let's discuss this and more with our Senior Law Enforcement Analyst Charles Ramsey, the former Philadelphia police commissioner, also D.C. police chief.

Does it make any sense to you, Chief, that more than two weeks later, Chief Arredondo would claim he wasn't the incident commander on the scene? Who was in charge there?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: No, it doesn't make any sense. I mean, he's the ranking officer, and the reality is when you show up on the scene as a ranking officer, people look to you. Now, if there was a tactical commander who was better suited to handle a case like that, then you know who that person is, you let that person run it.


But to say you assumed somebody else there was is just not acceptable. You're the ranking officer. Guess what? You got it and you make the decisions. You make the calls.

BLITZER: Do you buy this explanation that officers couldn't breach the door of the classroom because of a steel jamb and that they were sorting through a set of keys from the janitor?

RAMSEY: Well, I haven't seen the door so I don't know how it could have been reinforced, but it's a school door. So, I don't know how much reinforcement it would have. Did it have a window? Was it a solid door, what have you?

But I can tell you this. Over my career, and I worked narcotics for a lot of years, I have literally been part of breaching hundreds and hundreds of doors and there are tools available that you can do that. They may not have had it as far as police department goes but the fire department certainly has all kinds of tools available because they have to breach doors to get in to rescue people if there is a fire or something.

So, I just don't buy that. 70 minutes is way too long to wait. I mean, if it was a five-minute delay or what have you, stuff about not having a radio. You didn't need a radio to know you've got wounded people inside that classroom. And if they're wounded, they're bleeding. And every minute, every second counts when it comes to trying to get people the kind of medical attention they need to have.

And so, you know, you have to do what you have to do. It's risky but they have better equipment and they're in a better position than those kids were and those teachers were because they had absolutely nothing to protect them.

BLITZER: Charles Ramsey, thanks so much for joining us.

Coming up, CNN reports from the frontlines in Eastern Ukraine as fighting right now intensifies.



BLITZER: In Ukraine tonight, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says his forces are holding on to front line cities in the east amid intense fighting with the Russians.

CNN senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman traveled to one of those key cities in the war zone.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The daily bread has arrived. Two loaves per person in the front line city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine. There's no gas here, the bakeries don't work. So the loaves, 10,000, are trucked ten hours here every day.

Lyliya has come with her two grandchildren and says she tries to shield them from the sounds of war.

We tell them there are some guys playing with tanks, she says. How can I damage their mental health? You shouldn't do that. It's impossible.

That's the roar of outgoing Ukrainian fire.

Tetyana is a volunteer helping to hand out the bread, leaving Bakhmut is out of the question.

I have two children and four grandchildren, she tells me. I love them all. I want all of us to live here. It's our land. Everything will be fine, God protects us.

Pavlo Diachenko's job is to investigate every strike, every damaged building for the Bakhmut police.

PAVLO DIACHENKO, BAKHMUT POLICE: Strike anytime. It's morning, in the evening. We don't know when it's going.

WEDEMAN: He takes us to a school struck by Russian war planes Wednesday. Two passersby were injured, classes haven't been held for months.

Not far away, a complex of agricultural warehouses has been hit. Workers salvage what they can. Shrapnel tore into the roof of one warehouse containing a precious resource.

We don't know the motives of the Russians for hitting this facility. It's been struck three times, most recently on Thursday morning. But one cannot but wonder if all of this Ukrainian grain is the target.

Lyudmila and her two children have been staying at this city-run dormitory since March. They fled the shelling on her nearby town. She's pondered leaving to a safer part of the country but doesn't have enough money and in the end asks, what's the point? The Russians are coming.

It's the same everywhere, she says. When they, the Russians, she means, are done here they'll go further.

Yet others aren't so fatalistic, reminded as they wait for the bus out of the city why they should go.

Igor, a beekeeper in peace time, is leaving with his cat, Simone Symonich (ph).

I left everything here, he says, my bees and my house with all of my belongings.

They load their bags on the bus. And go.


WEDEMAN (on camera): And the head of Ukrainian intelligence has told "The Guardian" they believe Russia can keep the war up at this pace for another year. He pointed out for every one piece of artillery Ukraine has, Russia has somewhere between 10 and 15. And we've heard many times from President Zelenskyy and others that at the moment, there are about 100 Ukrainian soldiers being killed every day, 500 being wounded -- Wolf.


BLITZER: Ben Wedeman in Kramatorsk for us -- thank you, Ben, very much.

Let's bring in the former NATO supreme allied commander, retired Admiral James Stavridis. He's the author of the brand new, very important book entitled "To Risk It All: Nine Conflicts and the Crucible of Decision". Admiral Stavridis, thank you so much for joining us. There is a top military defense official who says this is an artillery war and we are -- we are losing in terms of artillery. That's a direct quote.

How did it get to in a point after all the U.S. and other allied assistance to Ukrainians?

ADM. JAMES STAVRIDIS (RET.), FORMER NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER: The key here, Wolf, is quite simple. We need to be listening to what our Ukrainian allies, partners are saying, and providing them what they need. And I hear loud and clear the signal, get more artillery to the front. I will add to that, what we need is those longer-range surface to surface missiles, the so-called American HIMARS, there are other variances to this which can reach beyond that almost static artillery frontline and get back at the Russian logistics, cut off their ammunition, that's the strategy we need to pursue.

The administration is moving those HIMARS. Our British allies, other NATO countries are moving those. It needs to be a two-pronged effort to support this tactical need in front of the artillery piece and then the surface to surface longer range missiles. I think both of those are happening, I think we're going to get there in time.

BLITZER: Ukraine now says they believe Russia can continue to fight for another year, another year. In your new book, "To Risk It All", you tell stories of fighters forced to fight very tough conditions under extreme stress. How does Ukraine prepare for this long hall? Another year maybe?

STAVRIDIS: You know, in the book, "To Risk It All," the opening chapter is about a naval figure, John Paul Jones who fights in the Revolutionary War and he stands and delivers for his nation exactly as President Zelenskyy has done, as Prime Minister Churchill did in the Second World War. That fighting spirit will count for a great deal, Wolf, and also, we need to be helping, getting our weapon systems in their hands.

And third and finally, Wolf, Putin may feel he can go on and on and on but his burn rate is high. He's losing thousands killed in action. His tanks are being decimated. His equipment is falling apart and his financial resources, because war is hell, as Sherman said, it's also expensive.

Personally, I don't think Vladimir Putin has it in the tank to go a full year here. We ought to give the Ukrainians what they need to drive the Russians out and to the negotiating table.

BLITZER: Retired Admiral James Stavridis, thanks so much for joining us. Thanks also for writing this important new book. We really appreciate it.

Up next, the United States just lifting a significant COVID testing mandate. Stand by. We'll be right back.



BLITZER: The big change coming for international travelers. Multiple officials now telling CNN the Biden administration is expected to announce the CDC is ending its COVID-19 testing requirement to enter the United States.

CNN senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, is joining us right now.

Elizabeth, this is a move the travel industry has been pushing for, for months.

What are you learning?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What we're learning is that the U.S., Wolf, is going to go in the direction of many other countries and not require the test upon entry to the U.S. from outside of the U.S.

So let's take a look at some of the particulars. So we are told that this will go into effect on Sunday at midnight, but that the CDC will reassess in 90 day and see if a new variant emerges, the CDC could reinstate a COVID-19 testing requirement for entry into the U.S.

Now, we are told that this order is going to be signed, really, any minute now and CDC says they had specific reasons for lifting this order now. They say things have changed, it's not like it was before. There are high rates of immunity in the U.S. due to vaccinations and natural infection and also there are therapeutics available if people are to get sick.

Now, Wolf, to be clear, some people say there have been therapeutics out for a while, now, certainly vaccination rates have been high for a while now, they should have done this months ago. But the CDC said they felt this was the right time to do it -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Elizabeth Cohen reporting, thank you very much.

Finally, tonight, we want to send our best wishes and deep gratitude to long time CNN colleague, Arwa Damon. She's leaving the network after 18 years of courageous and truly extraordinary international reporting. Today is her last day at CNN.

Arwa has won multiple awards for her war coverage, whether she was dodging shelling in Syria or escaping gunfire in Iraq, while reporting on the rise and fall of ISIS. And now, Arwa is giving back to the youngest victims of war. She founded the charity INARA that works with children from conflict areas who suffered physical and mental harm.

Arwa, we want to wish you well in everything you're doing going forward. Thanks for all of you have done.

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