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Biden vs Putin, Dueling Speeches Frame A Year Of War In Ukraine; Putin Defends Invasion, Suspends Nuclear Arms Treaty With U.S.; Sources Say, Russia Tested Long-Range Missile While Biden Was In Ukraine; EPA Orders Norfolk Southern To Handle All Cleanup Of Train Spill; Supreme Court Hears Cases That Could Reshape The Internet. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired February 21, 2023 - 18:00   ET




WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, a war of words between Presidents Biden and Putin in dueling speeches about the year-long conflict in Ukraine. The U.S. president in Poland delivering a rallying cry for the west, declaring Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia and calling out Putin by name, over and over again.

The Russian leader in Moscow, defending his brutal invasion and taking his nuclear threat to a new level, by suspending a key arms control treaty with Washington.

Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We begin with the historic face-off between Presidents Biden and Putin as they address the world just hours apart, the two leaders sharpening the divide between the west and Russia with the war in Ukraine about to enter a second devastating year.

Our correspondents are bringing you global coverage as only CNN can in Poland, in Russia, in the war zone in Ukraine.

First, CNN's Chief White House Correspondent Phil Mattingly reports from Warsaw on President Biden's message.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia, never.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): President Biden delivering an unequivocal vow to the world.

BIDEN: We have to be honest and clear-eyed as we look at the year ahead.

MATTINGLY: And an unflinching assessment of the stakes at the moment as Russia's war on Ukraine nears its second year. BIDEN: That's what's at stake here, freedom.

MATTINGLY: Biden's remark framed with the lighting, soundtrack and thousands in the crowd for maximum effect, set in Warsaw as a knot to a stalwart member of the NATO alliance, one with the history defined by transformational ideological struggles --

BIDEN: During decades under the iron fist of communist rule, Poland endured because you stood together.

MATTINGLY: -- coming just hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered his own speech signaling Russian escalation. But while aides said Biden's speech was explicitly not a rebuttal --

BIDEN: He thought autocrats like himself were tough and leaders of democracy were soft. And then he met the iron will of America and nations everywhere that refuse to accept the world govern by fear and force.

MATTINGLY: Aids said it served to showcase what has become visceral distance for the Russian leader.

BIDEN: President Putin's craven lust for land and power will fail and the Ukrainian people's love for their country will prevail.

MATTINGLY: In a clear effort to take a part Putin's central rationale for his own provoke envision, addressing the Russian people directly.

BIDEN: He could end the war with a word. It's simple. Aggression stopped invading Ukraine, it would end the war. If Ukraine stopped defending itself against Russia, it would be the end of Ukraine.

MATTINGLY: Coming just 24 hours after a dramatic surprise visit to Kyiv --

BIDEN: Kyiv stands strong. Kyiv stands proud. It stands tall. And most important, it stands free.

MATTINGLY: Biden reiterating unyielding U.S. support in the durability of the coalition essential to Ukraine's fight.

BIDEN: There will continue to be hard and very bitter days, victories and tragedies. But Ukraine is steeled for the fight ahead.

MATTINGLY: It underscored the necessity of western democracy maintaining their support.

BIDEN: The democracy of the world has to deliver for the people.

MATTINGLY: And the critical nature, the commitment that's will echo far beyond the year to come.

BIDEN: The world in my view is at an inflection point. The decisions we make over the next five years or so are going to determine and shape our lives for decades to come.


MATTINGLY (on camera): And, Wolf, President Biden's adviser said this was a speech he very much wanted to give, had been planning out over the course of the last several months, really trying to deliver it at a critical moment. And the subtext of that moment is one that underscores this is a difficult path ahead, one that is going to require the very alliance that has stuck together over the course of the last 11 months without interruption to maintain that posture through all the difficulties they are expected to confront. But it is something the president has made clear he is willing to take on. He needs the other western democracies to do the same, Wolf.

BLITZER: Phil Mattingly reporting from Warsaw, thank you very, very much


A very different take on the Ukraine conflict from Russian President Vladimir Putin, he delivered his big speech hours before President Biden's and argued that the United States and the west are to blamed for the war.

CNN Senior International Correspondent Fred Pleitgen reports from Moscow.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A determined Russian leader entering center stage. Vladimir Putin showing he will not back down from the war in Ukraine, calling Kyiv's leadership illegitimate.

The Kyiv regime is essentially alien to the people of Ukraine, he said. They are not protecting their own interests but those of their mind their countries.

Putin squarely blamed the west for the conflict even though it was Russian forces that invaded Ukraine almost a year ago. The Kremlin claims Russia is under assault from the west, even more so after President Joe Biden went to Kyiv to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, showing the U.S.'s resolve to help Ukraine stand up to Moscow.

The elite of the west does not conceal their ambitions, which is to strategically defeat Russia, he says. What does that mean? It means to finish us off once and for all. While Putin praised his army, he acknowledged they need better gear, as progress has been hard to come by and losses mount in the face of stiff Ukrainian resistance.

Still, support among Russians, both for what Putin called the special military operation and the Russian leader himself remain rock solid, Russia's top independent pollster tells CNN.

DENIS VOLKOV, DIRECTOR, LEVADA CENTER: Now, it's about 80 percent. Because, again, should they calm down a little bit by the end of the year, people accommodated, get used to it again and they're waiting, his waiting stabilized.

PLEITGEN: And patriotism is on full display in Moscow though not everyone wants to talk about it.

The operation is going sluggishly, this man says. We must strike the centers like Germany, London.

I think the west will bend and be forced to make concessions, he says. What opinion can there be? We shouldn't have barged into where we weren't wanted, this man says.

Putin saved arguably his biggest message for last, announcing Russia is suspending its participation in the new strategic arms reduction treaty after Moscow last year accused Ukraine of striking an air base for strategic bombers.

We know that NATO is complicit in the attempts by the Kyiv regime to strike our air bases. And now they want to come and inspect our bases?

While Putin says the treaty could be revived if relations between the U.S. and Russia improve, on this day the gulf between Russia and the west further widened.


PLEITGEN (on camera): So you can see the view from Russia's leader Vladimir Putin. And actually, Wolf, I did reach out to the Kremlin tonight for some comments on President Biden's speech. And specifically what President Biden said about Ukraine never becoming a victory for Russia. I got some pretty harsh words back from the Kremlin press secretary, Dmitry Peskov. He said it is impossible to talk about destroying Russia without nuclear war and said there would be no winners in a nuclear war. He also says that he firmly believes, like Vladimir Putin apparently also does as well, that it is U.S.'s goal to weaken Russia and the disintegration of Russia as well. Wolf?

BLITZER: Fred Pleitgen, reporting live from Moscow. Thank you very, very much.

Let's go live right now to the war zone in Ukraine. CNN Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward is joining us from Kyiv. Clarissa, how is Ukraine reacting to the alternate reality Putin laid out in his speech today?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting, Wolf, because President Zelenskyy was asked about this and he said that he didn't actually watched the speech but, clearly, someone had briefed him on the contents of it. So, he went on to say that, quote, these people are communicating as terrorists. The only difference is that terrorists wear masks and these guys don't bother to cover their faces.

And that was a view that really was shared by pretty much most Ukrainian officials. One senior adviser to the president also accusing Putin of irrelevance and confusion, of being obsessed with, quote, Nazis, Martians and conspiracy theories. That was a very stark contrast from the response that we saw here in Kyiv to President Biden's speech which was overwhelmingly positive.

President Zelenskyy taking to Twitter, saying, Kyiv stands tall. Kyiv stands proud. And Kyiv thanks POTUS for his support in rallying the world around the cause of Ukraine.

So, really a tale of two different versions of reality underscoring why so many people in Ukraine say that it is just impossible at this stage to talk realistically about some kind of a political solution or settlement when you clearly have such a diametrically opposed understanding of what is actually going on here, Wolf.


BLITZER: Clarissa, I want you to stay with us. We also have more experts standing by with their takes on the dueling messages from Presidents Biden and Putin today on the diplomatic, military and political fronts. First, let's take a quick break. Stay with us. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: Key NATO allies are praising President Biden's remarks today in Poland and his visit to Kyiv, calling them a powerful signal of the United States' commitment to Ukraine and to Europe.

Let's bring in our correspondents and our other experts. And, Kaitlan Collins, let me start with you. Biden's speech in Poland today seemed to be a rallying cry for Ukraine's allies. How much harder will it be to keep allies united as this war enters year two?


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was certainly one thing he was kind of bragging about today, talking about how they have remained united, not something that Putin or some other skeptics had predicted about a year ago when Russia had first invaded Ukraine and the president was using that as a highlight to say, that is something he believes will continue to be steadfast, saying that that support from NATO is not going to waver.

But I also think the underlying message from President Biden's speech today was also that this is entering a complicated path of this war, that things are going to be difficult in the days ahead. He referenced these hard and bitter days that are still to come.

And so I think that was equally part of the message of making sure that people do remain united, highlighting that, while also delivering a message back at home to his domestic audience in the United States about why this matters, why it is important, talking about it being a test for democracy.

I think that is why you saw him returning to that theme so many times during his remarks today, saying, yes, this is an affirmation that we were right all along about them staying united but also warning about just how difficult the road ahead could be as they are worried that it is going to come to a standstill potentially. BLITZER: Yes. Clarissa Ward, you're there in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. Did President Biden's speech match the urgency Ukrainians are clearly feeling at this very, very critical point in this war?

WARD: I think it definitely matched the tone and the spirit of what Ukrainian people are feeling at this moment in the war, Wolf, but there's still an open question as to whether there will be sort of actual tangible deliverables as a result of this.

So, Ukraine is incredibly grateful for the support and the symbolism of this moment but they're also keenly aware of the fact that they are staring down the barrel at what promises to be a pretty brutal spring with Russia pushing hard in Kharkiv region and Kupyansk, with Russia shelling relentlessly the city of Kherson in the south that was liberated three months ago, at least five people killed there today, 12 injured, many civilian targets hit.

And so they desperately want to get the weaponry that they believe they need in order to try to deal a decisive blow to Russia. Because as you heard Kaitlan say there, there is a real fear on the Ukrainian side as well that otherwise this could really devolve into a protracted stalemate.

BLITZER: Ambassador Taylor, President Biden's speech came hours after the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, addressed the Russian parliament and made clear this war will not end any time soon. A longer, drawn-out conflict is exactly what Ukraine is trying to avoid right now. Isn't that true?

WILLIAM TAYLOR, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: That's exactly right. That's exactly right, Wolf. And as several people have said, the Ukrainians want a fast end to this war. They want to strike decisively, exactly what you said, and that can happen. They're preparing either to hit back as an offensive or even to take the offensive before the Russians can strike.

But what they need is the weapons. They clearly need it. That's exactly right, that they need -- we need to deliver, the west need to deliver, in order to enable them, the Ukrainians, to make this war shorter by striking first and hard in the next several months.

BLITZER: General Marks, Putin also announced that Russia is suspending its nuclear arms treaty with the United States. But the government says this decision could be reversible. That's a quote. How do you read this move?

MAJ. GEN. JAMES SPIDER MARKS (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Let's hope it is reversible. You have to take what's taking place in Ukraine and putting it off to the side, when we are talking about the discussion of the new START talks. The ICBMs, the strategic nuclear capability of both the United States and Russia, those are the two parties. Bear in mind, China is advancing their nuclear ability as well.

That needs to be a priority. There must be a way for those discussions to take place irrespective of the conflict in Ukraine. It is very difficult to decouple those. But it is absolutely essential. If one is -- if there is codependency here, then we've got a much larger problem. And it is called potential nuke escalation that's going to get out of control.

BLITZER: Clarissa, you heard Putin today actually blame the west for the escalation of this war in Ukraine. Are his conspiracy theories effective in Russia and indeed beyond?

WARD: Wolf, they are certainly very effective in Russia. And I think this is one point that is really crucial for our audience to understand. What you saw President Putin outline today is an alternative version of reality. But that is the version of reality that the vast majority of Russians who subsist on a diet of state-run propaganda belief.


They believe that this mission is an extension of the Second World War mission to try to defeat Nazism. They believe that America is actively trying to strike Russia, destroy it and divide it.

And as long as they believe that, President Putin will still be able to push ahead with this war, to push ahead potentially with further mobilizations despite the crippling economic and geopolitical consequences that it has had for his country. Very many Russians are not even aware of the really serious consequences that they can't feel because, in many ways, he's been able to protect them to a certain degree from that because of high energy prices, because China and India continue to buy their oil and gas.

It's a temporary situation. It's obviously going to get worse but do not underestimate the power of that propaganda.

BLITZER: All right, guys, thanks to all of you, thanks very, very much.

Later tonight, by the way, the former British prime minister, Boris Johnson, is weighing in on Vladimir Putin's year-long assault on Ukraine and the west's response. I spoke with Boris Johnson just a little while ago. I want you to listen to some of that exclusive interview.


BORIS JOHNSON, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: He is currently failing in all his key strategic objectives, Wolf. He failed to get Kyiv. He failed to conquer Kharkiv and he's failed in Kherson as well. But the war is very bitter, very, very bloody and he needs to be pushed out of the whole of Ukraine and we need to give the Ukrainians the help they need now, now, now, now.

We always sooner or later come to the right answer and give the Ukrainians what they need. Well, if it is going to be sooner or later, if that's the choice, then let's give them what they need sooner, because that is the humane, the compassionate thing, finish this war as quickly as possible, minimize the bloodshed, minimize the suffering, minimize the expense. And if we had started giving them airplanes a year ago, we would be that much further down the track. I don't believe it will take that long to train people up to fly either Typhoons or F-16s or Gripens or whatever we decide we're able to give them, but let's get on with it.

BLITZER: So, can I assume, Prime Minister, that you're calling on President Biden and the U.S. to start providing these F-16 jets to Ukraine?

JOHNSON: That is correct. And I think that the logic of what we've been doing is to continue to give the Ukrainians what they need to protect themselves.


BLITZER: And you can see all of my exclusive interview with Boris Johnson during a special edition of THE SITUATION ROOM later tonight at 9:00 P.M. Eastern.

Coming up, new details just in to CNN on a missile test carried out by Russia while President Biden was in Ukraine. We'll share that with you right after this quick break.



BLITZER: Just in to CNN, the U.S. officials say Russia carried out a test of an intercontinental ballistic missile yesterday while President Biden was in Ukraine.

CNN's Natasha Bertrand is gathering new information. She's over at the Pentagon for us. Natasha, what are you learning from your sources?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yes, Wolf. So, what we're learning is that Russia did carry out an intercontinental ballistic missile test on Monday as President Biden was in Ukraine, and that this missile test actually likely failed, according to U.S. officials.

Now, the Russians did reach out, we are told, to the U.S. through de- confliction lines to notify them that they were going to carry out this test. But, ultimately, U.S. officials believe it failed because Putin made no mention of it today during his state of the nation address to the Russian country.

Now, we, of course, have seen that Putin has launched these kinds of intercontinental ballistic missile tests before including as recently as last April and he has, of course, announced them when they have gone well. However, this time, U.S. official say is a major clue that he has made no mention of this test in the last day or so indicating that it most likely failed.

Now, this is also notable because it indicates that the U.S. and the Russians were communicating through a number of different channels earlier this week ahead of Biden's trip to Kyiv. Of course, we learned from the national security adviser that the U.S. did reach out to the Russians to notify them that President Biden would be traveling to Kyiv.

Now, we're learning, Wolf, that the Russians also notified the U.S. that they would be carrying out this missile test. We should note that U.S. officials say that they do not believe that this test ever posed any kind of risk to the United States, nd that they view it as fairly routine and not as an escalation. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right, Natasha, good reporting, thank you very, very much.

Let's discuss this and more with the former U.S. defense secretary, the former CIA director, Leon Panetta. Mr. Secretary, thank you so much for joining us. Let me first get your reaction to this apparently failed Russian missile conducted while President Biden was in Ukraine.

LEON PANETTA, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: Well, I don't think there is any question that it must have failed because they don't do ICBM tests without acknowledging success after it takes place. So, the fact that Putin did not mention it just tells me that it was a failure and it is something that we have to keep an eye on because ICBMs are one of those missiles that obviously can deliver a nuclear weapon.

BLITZER: Yes. Putin, as you know, suspended the last remaining nuclear arms treaty with the United States earlier today, but Russia said it will still abide by the weapons caps, and that the decision could be in their word, reversible.


But how worrying is all of this?

PANETTA: I think it is of tremendous concern. This is a dangerous moment in our history. We're in a war with Ukraine and trying to support the Ukrainians and confronting the Russians. Russia now has canceled or at least walked away from the START Treaty. Obviously, they're doing these ICBM tests and Putin has been talking about the possibility of using a nuclear weapon for a long time and continues to raise that threat.

So now, without the restraints of the START Treaty, I think there is no question that we're living at a much more dangerous time than we have in the past.

BLITZER: As you know in his speech today in Poland, President Biden vowed Russia will never, never see victory in Ukraine. How is President Biden setting the tone for year two of this horrendous war with his speech today and his risky trip to Kyiv on Monday?

PANETTA: Well, it is without question a historic trip at a historic time. It's not often that a president of the United States travels into a war zone. We saw Lincoln do that at the end of the civil war. FDR did that at Casa Blanca when he developed the final strategy on World War II, and now President Biden, obviously, going into the middle of the Ukraine with blaring sirens going on. I think President Biden has really defined this moment in history as a struggle for freedom and a struggle for democracy. And I think that is correct. I think this is a pivotal moment. Because what happens in Ukraine not only will define what happens with democracy in the Ukraine, it will define what happens with democracy in the 21st century.

BLITZER: The whole world is watching indeed. As you know, China's top diplomat is in Russia today amid very serious U.S. warnings that China may decide to provide lethal support for Putin's war. How does the U.S. try to deter this? Are there specific consequences the U.S. should impose if China were to take this step?

PANETTA: Well, I was very pleased that Secretary Blinken made very clear from Munich the concern that we would have if China did that. And I think it is clear that we have to make sure they pay a price for it. The United States and our allies ought to be considering what steps we would take in order to make sure that China pays that price.

It is difficult for me to believe that Xi wants to get into the middle of this conflict. He's got enough problems in China. If he gets into the middle of this conflict and it causes his economy to even be weaker as a result of whatever sanctions we may take, I don't think China is served by that and I don't think the world, frankly, is served by having Xi get involved. But we do have to be cautious, we do have to be aware, and we do have to be very clear that he will pay a price.

BLITZER: The former defense secretary, Leon Panetta, thanks as usual for joining us.

PANETTA: Good to be with you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Just ahead, the forewoman of the special grand jury in Georgia is now speaking out about the panel's investigation of former President Trump. We're going to tell you what she's revealing. That's next.



BLITZER: There is new reporting tonight on actions taken by the special grand jury in Georgia that has been investigating former President Trump and election interference in the state.

Our Senior Crime and Justice Reporter Katelyn Polantz is working the story for us. Katelyn, what can you tell us?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Wolf, you're not going to be shocked. It's not rocket science. Those were the words today of the forewoman of the special grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, that has been looking into whether people should be charged related to Donald Trump and his offensive after the 2020 election. This forewoman, Emily Kohrs, she went on a bit of a media tour today, a mini media tour. She spoke to a number of outlets, including the Associated Press and The New York Times. And when she was asked by The Times on whether she recommended indicting Donald Trump, whether she and the rest of the grand jury recommended that to prosecutors there, that was her response, you are not going to be shocked, you won't be too surprised. It won't be rocket science. It's not rocket science.

So a real wink, wink there, although she's not naming names about what the grand jury decided to do or recommended to the district attorney. So, now we wait.

The district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia, is considering who actually they are going to charge. We also have not seen much of the report of that special grand jury that Ms. Kohrs was speaking about today other than the fact that they are recommending some indictments at very least, perjury, possible perjury charges of people who testified to them, that they believe may not have been truthful.

So, we're in a waiting game, waiting to see what the district attorney does there and who will be charged and whether or not that will include Donald Trump himself. Wolf?

BLITZER: Interesting. Katelyn Polantz reporting for us, thank you very much.

Let's get to more on all of this. Joining us now, CNN Political Analyst Maggie Haberman and our Legal Analyst, Elliott Williams.

Elliott, when asked whether the jurors recommended indicting Donald Trump, the forewoman, as you just heard, told The New York Times, it's not rocket science.


Does it sound to you like Trump should be preparing to be indicted?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALSYT: Perhaps, Wolf. But big picture, this interview is precisely why prosecutors, judges, and to some extent, defense attorneys hate when jurors or grand jurors speak to the media in advance of major decisions coming out. Because, look Wolf, it's not reality television where you're trying to whip up buzz in advance of an indictment going down. There are serious risks, to being out there teasing steps that a grand jury might take.

Number one, you could spook witnesses or spook potential defendants into not appearing when their time comes. And number two, you could taint the jury pool in Atlanta when people are hearing that all of these indictments and news are coming. People who might serve on juries might be asked to serve on a jury at one point, might actually not be able to because of what they're hearing. So, it is just generally a bad idea. And so we'll see how this all plays out.

BLITZER: Maggie, I know you're doing a lot of reporting on this for The New York Times. What are you learning about how the former president is actually bracing for a decision from the Fulton County district attorney, Fani Willis?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Trump has been looking at the Georgia investigation with anxiety for quite some time, as has a number of people around him who might find themselves ensnared in this as well. I think to Elliott's point, perhaps he gets charged. We don't know.

Clearly, they recommended charges for a number of people. I think that as she indicated, the jury forewoman, we can probably guess who some of them are, it doesn't mean that we would be right but this has always been an investigation beginning, many, many months ago, that Trump has pointed to privately in conversations with people as the one that he is watching, as one that he is most concerned about.

And so by bracing, it is going to be what we've seen, should he get indicted, and, again, that's by no means certain or confirmed. But should he get indicted, you will see him attack the prosecutor in ways that we are used to because Trump only has a handful of speeds (ph). And I expect that the attacks on Fani Willis will be very advanced.

BLITZER: Elliot, District Attorney Willis previously told a judge that charging decisions were, in her word, imminent in this case. When should we expect those decisions will be made public?

WILLIAMS: Wolf, I would assume soon after the grand jury makes its report. So, the way this works in Georgia, the special grand jury can only recommend charges. They can't actually bring them. They will recommend them to the district attorney. The district attorney can decide whether to go with their recommendation or just go on her own and still file charges.

I would think that could happen pretty soon after that report is made public. But there is no specific timeline for when it has to happen.

BLITZER: Maggie, you've been digging into federal election filings. What are you learning about how much money Trump's political action committee actually spent on legal bills last year?

HABERMAN: Sure. So, the political action committee over the two years in which it was formed, it was formed at the very end of 2020, spent overall more than $16 million on legal fees, roughly $10 million of that, some increase over that number but not a huge amount, went directly to Trump's legal fees. And for the most part, these were legal fees in cases that had nothing to do with politics. It was the investigation in Manhattan into the Trump Organization, representation there. It was the representation defending him in the Justice Department investigation that's ongoing into his possession of hundreds of classified documents and other presidential records, and the list goes on. And it is a huge constellation of lawyers.

It is striking for two reasons, Wolf. I mean, three. One is just the sheer volume. One is the fact that Trump is notorious for not paying lawyers on his own, which gets to the third issue, which is that there is some unsettled debate over whether now that he's a candidate, he can still use that PAC money to pay his own personal legal fees.

BLITZER: Yes. Excellent reporting, Maggie, thank you very, very much. Maggie Haberman, Elliot Williams, I appreciate it very much.

Coming up, we'll go live to Eastern Ohio where officials are cracking down on the company responsible for a toxic train wreck as residents grow more anxious about their health.



BLITZER: Tonight, government officials are turning up the pressure on the railroad company responsible for the toxic train wreck in eastern Ohio. The EPA now ordering Norfolk Southern to handle all clean-up and foot the bill.

CNN's senior national correspondent Miguel Marquez has more. He's joining us from the scene.

Give us the latest, Miguel.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. The latest is in the last couple weeks and will continue for quite some time to come. We're about a half mile from the derailment site.

This is what is happening through the town. Tell confluence of two creeks. Both of them contaminated. They have massive hoses pulling water out of one side of the creek, cleaning it up and injecting it into the other side of the creek.

Look, there is so much, this is happening throughout the entire town and officials say it will continue to happen until all of it is clean.


MICHAEL REGAN, EPA ADMINISTRATOR: Thank you for inviting us into your home.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Nearly three weeks after the derailment, people in East Palestine, Ohio, still concerned.



BROWN: I mean, I don't even walk on my grass because I don't know what's in it.

MARQUEZ: Officials say, the air and water deemed safe, so far, but not everyone is convinced.

BROWN: So, it's safe to drink the water. I haven't even brush my teeth with it.

MARQUEZ: East Palestine resident, Carolyn Brown, hosted the EPA administrator, Michael Regan, and Ohio governor, Mike DeWine, in her kitchen. Both assuring her her municipal tap water is safe. REGAN: We believe in science. We don't feel like we are your guinea

pig, so we don't mind proving to you that we believe the water is safe.

BROWN: Okay, I really appreciate that.

REGAN: Cheers to Carolyn.



MARQUEZ: They say the village tap water testing will continue for years and anyone with a private well should have it tested as well.

GOV. JOSH SHAPIRO (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Norfolk Southern's corporate greed, incompetence, and lack of care for our residents is absolutely unacceptable to me.

MARQUEZ: The governor of neighboring Pennsylvania announced his state made a criminal referral to investigate Norfolk Southern's handling of the derailment. This as the EPA announced it is ordering Norfolk Southern to complete all of the cleanup, or the agency will immediately take over and seek to compel the company to pay triple the cost.

REGAN: I expect with the next 48 hours, Norfolk Southern will begin working with the agency on the contents of the work plan. They have to put together a work plan that's going to be very prescriptive.

ALAN SHAW, CEO, NORFOLK SOUTHERN: We're going to be here tomorrow. We're going to be here a year from now, and we are going to be here five years from now.

MARQUEZ: And the CEO of the railroad says, it's already committed to doing what's right.

SHAW: We are going to invest in this community. We're going to do it in the right way, and we are going to do it at the right time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our presence be pointed in this direction.

MARQUEZ: At a church across town, eight new medical clinic opening up today to help people concerned about getting sick from the chemicals spilled and the derailment in controlled burn.

WES VINS, COUNTY HEALTH COMMISSIONER: We want to help get people on the right track, navigate through the health care system.

MARQUEZ: But there is much more to be done.

ANNE VOGEL, DIRECTOR, OHIO EPA: We are moving as fast as we physically can. Of course, time is of the essence.

MARQUEZ: While trains are running through the town again, the soil underneath the open tracks, still contaminated. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We know this oil is contaminated under there.

They know it's contaminated. They know it's contaminated with, we've done that testing. There is a long term remediation plan that includes getting that soil out from under those tracks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are at zeroes.

MARQUEZ: For now, it's all about building trust and getting people the help and answers they need.

GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R), OHIO: We are going to continue to follow the science. We will continue to listen to the experts who understand this.

MARQUEZ: But the toxicity, the cleanup, and the distrust is also political.

MAYOR TRENT CONAWAY, EAST PALESTINE, OHIO: That was the biggest slap in the face.

MARQUEZ: The mayor of East Palestine on Fox News, criticizing President Joe Biden for going to Ukraine, instead of coming here.

CONAWAY: He can send every agency he wants to, but I found that out this morning in one of the briefings that he was in the Ukraine, giving millions of dollars to people over there, not us. And I'm furious.


MARQUEZ (on camera): The mayor of East Palestine today at a press conference trying to lower the heat on all that saying that if President Biden wanted to come, he was welcome.

BLITZER: All right. Miguel, thank you very much. Just ahead, the U.S. Supreme Court cases that could -- could upend the Internet. Stay with us.



BLITZER: The U.S. Supreme Court is weighing cases that could fundamentally disrupt the Internet. A heated debate is unfolding on whether Google and other big tech companies should be liable for harmful content on their platforms.

CNN justice correspondent Jessica Schneider has our report.



JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Supreme Court, taking on a case that could reshape the Internet. Hearing arguments from a family who has lost a daughter and who now wants big tech to pay.

BEATRIZ GONZALEZ, SUING GOOGLE: We continue in this fight because we are seeking justice.

SCHNEIDER: The Gonzalez family's long legal fight started when their 23-year-old daughter, Nohemi, was killed in Paris in 2015. Nohemi Gonzalez was at a bistro when ISIS terrorists unleashed gunfire, part of coordinated city-wide attack of bombings and shootings that killed 129 people. She was the only American.

GONZALEZ: It was a terrible, horrible moment in my life that I can not describe, the pain.

SCHNEIDER: The Gonzalez family now wants YouTube and parent company, Google, to be held liable for Nohemi's death. Their lawyer are going to the Supreme Court to say that because YouTube not only allowed ISIS videos on its site, but also recommended those videos to certain viewers, the social media site should be held responsible for aiding and abetting terrorism.

ERIC SCHNAPPER, GONZALEZ FAMILY ATTORNEY: When they go beyond delivering to what you've asked for, to start sending things you haven't asked for, our contention is they're no longer acting as an interactive computer service.

SCHNEIDER: But Google says that they're protected by the broad contours of section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Congress passed the law in 1996 to shield Internet platforms from being sued for harmful content posted by third parties on their sites.

Google's lawyer argued that shield also applies to any recommendations the site might make.

LISA BLATT, ATTORNEY FOR GOOGLE: Exposing websites to liability for implicitly recommending third-party content defies the text and threatens today's Internet.

SCHNEIDER: This is the first time the Supreme Court has considered the scope of Section 230. The justices acknowledged that if the Gonzalez family succeeds, that would open up tech companies to a flood of lawsuits and would require social media sites to heavily police the content posted. And the justices also asked whether it's Congress and not the courts who should clarify how much tech companies are protected.

JUSTICE ELENA KAGAN, SUPREME COURT: Every other industry has to internalize the costs of misconduct. Why is it that the tech industry gets a pass? A little bit unclear.

On the other hand, I mean, we are a court. We really don't know about these things. You know, these are not, like, the ninth greatest experts on the Internet. Isn't that something for Congress to do, not the court?

SCHNEIDER: The Gonzalez family has lost the case at the lower courts, but they continue to search for justice after the death of their daughter at the hands of terrorists.

GONZALEZ: Nothing is going to get me back my daughter, but at least there is something good that can be accomplished.

SCHNEIDER: Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.


BLITZER: Thank you, Jessica.

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

I'll be back again later tonight 9:00 p.m. Eastern for a special edition of THE SITUATION ROOM. Until then, once again, thanks very much for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.