Return to Transcripts main page

The Situation Room

Prime Minister Netanyahu Calls Strike In Rafah A Tragic Mistake; Severe Weather And Tornado Watch; Governor Andy Beshear Is Interviewed About The Condition Of Kentucky Amid Severe Weather; Closing Arguments Tomorrow In Trump Hush Money Trial; Deadliest Russian Attack On Ukraine In Weeks As Kharkiv Store Hit; NBA Hall Of Famer, Broadcaster Bill Walton Dead At 71. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired May 27, 2024 - 17:00   ET




JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We will never ever, ever stop working for to make a more perfect union.

God bless the fallen, may God bless their families, and may God protect our troops.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN HOST: That was the president at Arlington National Cemetery earlier today. The news continues now with Boris Sanchez in for Wolf Blitzer in "The Situation Room." Have a great day.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: -- and tornadoes in parts of the U.S. Kentucky's governor is set to join us this hour with an update on his state's storm emergency.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Boris Sanchez and you're in "The Situation Room."

Our top story this hour, the Israeli strike that turned a camp for displaced people in Gaza into a fiery death trap. Tonight, top U.N. officials say the scenes are horrific and a testament to how the city of Rafah has been turned into, quoting now, "hell on earth." This, as the Israeli prime minister is now calling the killing of dozens of civilians a mistake.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond is following all of it from Jerusalem. Jeremy, tell us more about the reaction to this strike.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Boris, sadly, this incident in which dozens of Palestinian civilians were killed in an Israeli airstrike is not an outlier in Gaza in the nearly eight months of war that we have seen. But what is an outlier is the way in which the Israeli government and the Israeli military are responding to this.

The Israeli military's top lawyer today launching a full-scale investigation into this incident, with the Israeli military even saying that they did not expect that there would be any civilian casualties as they conducted a pre-strike assessment. The Israeli prime minister himself on the floor of the Israeli parliament saying this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL (through translation): Despite our best effort not to harm those not involved, unfortunately, a tragic mistake happened last night. We are investigating the case.


DIAMOND: And again, Boris, we have just never seen the Israeli government respond in this way so swiftly. And it is a sign, of course, of what is happening outside of Israel. And that is to say the international condemnation that we have seen increasing of Israel's conduct in the war in Gaza, the condemnation from the United States, Israel's growing isolation on the world stage.

Think of the fact that just days ago, the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to halt this military offensive in Rafah. And indeed, this strike, even if the Israeli military is saying that it was a tragic mistake, this is the kind of strike that underscores why the United States and so many other countries have been urging Israel not to go all out in Rafah because there are so many people packed into such dense areas like this camp for displaced Palestinians in the western part of Rafah.

And the images from this strike were just absolutely tragic. As you could see, people not only hurt by the immediate blast, but by the fire that engulfed these makeshift shelters that people have been living in for months now. People emerging from the fire with bodies burnt, corpses blackened, being pulled out of the rubble.

There was even an image of a baby with no head circulating online from this very incident. So absolutely tragic scenes and one that the Israeli military is now vowing to investigate. Boris?

SANCHEZ: Jeremy Diamond, live force in Jerusalem. Thank you so much. We now want to get the U.S. reaction to the attack on the Rafah camp. CNN's Kayla Tausche is live for us at the White House. Kayla, how does the Biden administration view this incident?

KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Boris, the Biden administration has called some of the images in the wake of that attack heartbreaking, saying that Israel has a right to defend itself against Hamas, but laying out the U.S. position once again, saying, "As we've been clear, Israel must take every precaution possible to protect civilians. We are actively engaging the IDF and partners on the ground to assess what happened and understand the IDF is conducting an investigation."


Just last month, Boris, the IDF conducted a different investigation into a different attack that killed civilians, that time killing seven World Central Kitchen workers that were part of a convoy that was struck overnight, which the IDF in its preliminary investigation called a grave mistake caused by thermal imaging that made some of the markings on those vans unidentifiable at night.

But it was after that attack that the administration became incredibly frustrated. President Biden, in a phone call with Prime Minister Netanyahu, said that the U.S. could begin conditioning aid to Israel if it feels that they are in disagreement over the way that Israel is prosecuting the war.

And President Biden laying out a carefully calibrated position on a potential military operation in Rafah with CNN's Erin Burnett and saying that the administration could do more to restrict aid depending on how Israel proceeded. Here's what he said just a few weeks ago.


BIDEN: If they go into Rafah, I'm not supplying the weapons that have been used historically to deal with Rafah, to deal with the cities, to deal with that problem. We're going to continue to make sure Israel is secure in terms of Iron Dome and their ability to respond to attacks that came out of the Middle East recently, but it's just wrong. We're not going to supply the weapons and the artillery shells used that have been used.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Artillery shells as well.

BIDEN: Yeah, artillery shells.


TAUSCHE: Now, the administration had withheld the provision of some heavy bombs to Israel for fear that those could cause mass casualties in Rafah, where so far up until this point, officials have suggested that the operation that Israel has in Rafah is limited and targeted. It is unclear exactly where the U.S. will come down on the attack that we've seen in the last day, whether that would cause a change in position and a change in the provision of aid to Israel going forward. Boris?

SANCHEZ: Kayla Tausche, live for us from the White House. Thanks so much. Let's get more on all of this with UNICEF spokesman James Elder, CNN national security analyst Beth Sanner, and CNN political and national security analyst David Sanger. We should know David is the author of "New Cold Wars: China's Rise, Russia's Invasion, and America's Struggle to Defend the West."

Thank you all for sharing part of your Memorial Day with us. James, first to you, you were on "The Situation Room" not long ago and you had been in Rafah with UNICEF. You visited tent camps like these. Put into context what this attack means, how much it compounds the suffering of Palestinian civilians that are there.

JAMES ELDER, UNICEF SPOKESMAN: Yeah, David -- Boris, it's catastrophe upon catastrophe. You have to understand the people in Rafah, Rafah, which was a city of 300,000 people and then 1.4 million, twice the population density of New York City, but with none of the high rises. So, hundreds of thousands of people who fled because their own homes, the homes that they had saved and bought, had been bombed or destroyed, and in doing so had lost family members.

So, these people who are living in tents, four, five, six months, you've got children who've lost, who've had mothers killed. You've got husbands whose wives have been killed. You've got children -- I've sat with children in these tents, Boris, who have had amputations, who need to be in hospitals, both for the psychological trauma that they've endured, but also the physical. But hospitals can't cope with them. So, we are in uncharted territory in terms of the trauma.

And then you've got people side by side on top of each other. A teenage girl, a pregnant mom, an elderly woman, they will queue all day. They will queue 10 hours to use a shower. Sanitation at woeful levels. But this is where they've been forced to go. But we know nowhere is safe. We've been saying that for five months. Legally safe, you mustn't bomb it. But legally safe must also mean it has to have food, water protection.

So, those things aren't there, David. So, children look into their mother's eyes and they know their parents can't protect them. And the same thing, parents know that they can't protect their children. So, we have this moment, Boris, where it blows up into this inferno, where the worst-case scenario is a direct strike in an area with massive amounts of civilians turns into a fire.

And I guess, Boris, the point is that we should be appalled. We should be heartbroken and we must be outraged. But we should not be surprised. This will continue to happen. This is the level of ferocious attacks that have hit the people of Gaza for eight months now.

SANCHEZ: Beth, do you see this as a violation of President Biden's red line against attacking population centers in Rafah? How do you imagine the White House might respond?

BETH SANNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, they've been threading the needle here, trying to define what is this red line of a major offensive. And last week, Jake Sullivan said that he felt that the way that Israel had explained to the United States that they were going to have much more targeted types of operations rather than what we've seen in other parts, that the White House was satisfied.


Now I think it really comes down to what the -- not just what the IDF investigation of this that Netanyahu has promised, but what the U.S. intelligence community can figure out about what actually happened here. And, you know, so it does depend. We don't know exactly. But if it was an actually, as the Israeli government says, a very targeted strike that went terribly wrong, I suspect that the Biden administration will say that it doesn't cross the red lines.

But, you know, this just complicates the situation so much and so tragically for so many, because, I mean, this tragedy means that no matter what happens here, no matter how it's defined, it means there will be more and more tragedies coming forward. It makes the end of this much harder.

SANCHEZ: David, there have been a line, a list of mistakes that the IDF has committed. They also called the deadly World Central Kitchen strike a grave mistake, that Christmas Eve strike on the Al-Maghazi refugee camp that killed at least 70 people a regrettable mistake. It still hasn't given a full account of the February mass killing of starving civilians in a food line in northern Gaza. Does this latest mistake in your mind potentially change the dynamic between the United States and Israel?

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I'm afraid what it does, Boris, is continue the dynamic between the United States and Israel. Look, the president's red line was clear. Initially, it was don't go into Rafah, period. But with a million, a million and a half people there, most of them refugees from the north, accidents like this were going to happen.

They didn't believe that the Israelis were deliberately going to go after civilians, but merely that civilians were packed in so tightly that it would be difficult to avoid mistakes like this. Then the food, the central food kitchen disaster happened, and that's what prompted the president, of course, to cut off the 2,000-pound bombs. It doesn't look right now from what the Israelis have said as if that's a weapon they were using, but obviously they used something that was quite lethal to at least 45 civilians.

And so, it strikes me the president's red line has been crossed here but it was the initial one, which was don't go into Rafah or risk having the United States cut off offensive weapons.

SANCHEZ: James --

SANGER: I think it's going to be a really tough decision for the president.

SANCHEZ: Sure. James, how much does this strike and obviously the ongoing operation in Rafah make it harder to get humanitarian aid and medical support to civilians?

ELDER: Yeah, desperately Boris. And it's a great second part to this horror show that we have spoken for so many months that there was always this risk that you would start to see people dying of disease on the ground in the same way from these ferocious bombardments from the skies. Now in the last few weeks, in say April, supplies started getting in.

We have an imminent famine in the north. I have stood with mothers in the north who've done everything to keep their children safe from that relentless bombardment of the north. And they're standing over skeletal children, despite a border crossing being five or 10 minutes away. And yet in the last three weeks, since the military offensive in Rafah, that gate has been closed.

That is the lifeline for humanitarian aid to come in. That is what will prevent starvation. That is what will enable medicines to come in, fuel to come in for hospitals. So, many of the -- a lot of those children last night will go to a hospital that is desperately overcrowded, where doctors are doing 36-hour shifts, where they're short of anaesthetics, where quite possibly they don't have fuel, so they won't be operating with light.

So, we cannot pretend that there's a humanitarian response at anything like the level we want, Boris. And as David mentioned, the World Central Kitchen, this is the most dangerous place to function as an aid worker right now. So, there has been a complete breakdown in the way that aid should operate based also on the safety.

And that comes to language, that comes to this idea that we're constantly told that aid can operate freely across the Gaza Strip. I've sat in many convoys for hours at a time, Boris, with the IDF knowing full well that if we sit there to a certain hour, we can't operate at night time, we'll have to go back.

This was called a limited offensive in Rafah -- 800,000 people have now fled. There's been 60 air attacks in the last three days. When I was there in November, we were promised that the South would not possibly endure what the North had. And in Khan Yunis in the South, I've never seen in my 20 years with UNICEF, a city as devastated like that.


We must be clear to move away from the language that's being used and look to the evidence on the ground. And the evidence on the ground, unfortunately, is not just this quote, unquote "tragic mistake," but there's 14,000 children reportedly killed. I don't know how they are defined, but that is something unprecedented in modern warfare.

SANCHEZ: James, Beth and David, we have to leave the conversation there. Thank you all so much for joining us.

ELDER: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Coming up, closing arguments set for tomorrow in Donald Trump's criminal trial. We have a live report on what to look for as the jury prepares to start deliberations.

But first, the death toll climbing in the aftermath of severe weather that tore across the Midwest and South. Kentucky's governor is standing by to join us live. Stay with us in "The Situation Room."


SANCHEZ: Breaking news, a tornado watch has been issued for Washington, D.C. and parts of Virginia, North Carolina and Maryland after a weekend of destructive and deadly storms tore through the South.


CNN's Chad Myers is live for us in the CNN Weather Center. Chad, what are you seeing in the forecast?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, Boris, we have storms going toward Hampton Roads, Elizabeth City. That's probably the biggest graphic here, the biggest storm we have right now. But in the please make it stop category on up into Iowa and Missouri, hail coming down again, a few thunderstorms down across parts of South Georgia as well. Let's get to the big cities up here.

We had a wave of weather go through New York City earlier, but there's more behind it into the Poconos, the Delaware water gap that will develop, redevelop again today and then back out here, down here to the bigger storms here from about Norfolk all the way down to the Hampton Roads area. That's where the tornado watch that you just mentioned is. That's the red zone right through here.

Some of these storms could rotate all the way here in the yellow, all the way down to the Gulf Coast. They could be at least severe with some wind and also some hail. The big story, I think, still right now, 460,000 customers without power across parts of the Ohio Valley, with the obviously bull's eye being right there over Kentucky.

SANCHEZ: Chad, we just learned that the death toll from over the weekend climbed to 23. What are we learning about how severe those storms were?

MYERS: They were just everywhere, of course. Look at the size of this. Typically, we'll see, you know, one or two states involved, but we're all the way from the East Coast, all the way to the Rocky Mountains. And really, Kentucky did take its share of damage yesterday from Eddyville all the way over toward Dawson Springs. There was a large tornado on the ground.

I mean, this was easily an EF3, maybe even approaching 180 miles per hour. We'll have to obviously let the weather service do their job, but this was a violent day. You can look for these red spots all the way from Texas through Oklahoma, all the way up through here, even not that far west of Chicago. All of those red dots were tornadoes on the ground, of course.

SANCHEZ: Chad Myers, thank you so much for the update. Joining us now over the phone is Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear. Governor, thank you so much for joining us. A short while ago, you shared that there was a fifth storm-related death in your state. What can you tell us about the victims of this storm and whether you fear that the death toll might continue to climb?

ANDY BESHEAR, GOVERNOR OF KENTUCKY (through telephone): Well, this has certainly been a devastating set of storms for Kentucky. We have now lost five of our citizens, all children of God, missed by their families and their communities. Four we lost in the storm itself in the two waves, and this fifth we lost during the cleanup. Overheated and had a heart attack.

That's a storm-related death just like any other, and his family is going to grieve just like any other. So, we're asking everybody that's out there all across the country cleaning up today, be careful. You are important. Your family wants you to come home tonight.

But what I can tell you is we've got a lot of amazing people. I'm outside of a home right now that had its entire roof blown off, but there are probably eight cars up here of people helping. Our world is filled with really special people, and they show up when it's at its bleakest.

SANCHEZ: Governor, we're sorry to hear the news about that fifth person, and our thoughts are with the families of the others as well. Can you give us an estimate of how many people were hurt, how many people are injured right now?

BESHEAR: Well, we don't have many significant injuries, which is a great blessing. That's both because we had medical teams out there, but we even had a four or a five-year-old girl who was riding a tricycle, and a tree fell and barely missed her while hitting the tricycle. That's the hand of God at work.

But outside of the five we've lost, we don't have -- well, we have one individual who has a very serious injury. We were worried would not make it as long as he has, but things are looking at least a little bit better for him.

SANCHEZ: We're glad to hear about them, about the young girl as well. It sounds like you're touring some hard-hit areas. You've obviously spoken to local officials and families. What did you see as you were looking through these neighborhoods, and what are the most urgent needs in Kentucky right now?

BESHEAR: Well, certainly we had a significant tornado come through parts of Hopkins County. It came just north of Dawson Springs. The two small, unincorporated towns whose address is Dawson Springs, but they are called Charleston and Barnsley, and it hit them hard. I agree with your meteorologist that we're looking at an EF3 or bigger, just devastated some homes where nothing's left.

And the people that are here, some of them were hit. The same spot in Barnsley, the same exact spot was wiped out in the December 2021 tornado. And there was one lady I was talking to whose best friend had come over to help her after her home was devastated and her friend had lost her mother in that last set of tornadoes.


So, there's also a lot of traumas that goes along with having another big tornado come through a place where our deadliest one came through just two and a half years ago.

We've got tough people. We love each other in Kentucky. We're going to be there for each other. I've been out all day, and sadly, we know what it's like to rebuild from a tornado. So, we've got all our services out. We're mobilizing to help people.

We've opened up a state park for those that need to stay a few extra days. We're already processing claims. We're working with insurance adjusters that are responding really, really well that are out there and out there early. So, you know, we're making progress.

And when someone's lost everything, the hardest thing to do is start picking up the first thing. And maybe when you don't have hope and a governor or the head of the National Guard or others suddenly show up at your house, it gives you just a little bit.

SANCHEZ: No question about that. Governor Andy Beshear, we hope you get all the resources that you need and that you keep us posted on the recovery. Thanks so much for joining us.

BESHEAR: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: For more information on how you can help storm victims, you can head over to We have a list of organizations on the ground that have been vetted and are accepting donations.

Up next, it is a crucial week in the criminal trial of former President Donald Trump. Closing arguments are set for tomorrow morning with the jury then set to decide Trump's fate.



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Tonight, Donald Trump's hush money criminal trial is now on the cusp of its historic conclusion with closing arguments set to begin tomorrow morning. Let's bring in CNN justice correspondent Jessica Schneider. So, Jessica, walk us through what court is going to look like over these next few days.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we will finally be back up tomorrow morning at 930. It's been a week long break in this trial so far. And tomorrow will be the closing arguments. This is the final chance for the lawyers on both sides to get up, make their final pitches directly to the jury. Interestingly, in New York, the defense actually goes first. So we will hear from Todd Blanche making the summations.

And we're expecting, you know, the defense only put up two witnesses over the course of about 90 minutes. Donald Trump did not testify in his own defense. But of course, the defense doesn't have to put up a case. It is all up to the prosecution to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. And that's exactly what the defense will stress here. And they'll probably focus much of their closing on Michael Cohen.

They'll talk about how the jury should doubt his credibility, talk about the fact that he's a convicted liar, and then ask the jury to really be skeptical of Michael Cohen pointing the finger at Donald Trump, tying him directly to this scheme, and more importantly, tying him directly to the repayment. When it comes to the prosecution, they'll talk about Michael Cohen, but they'll say it's not just Michael Cohen's testimony. It's also all of the evidence we have painstakingly amassed through all those other witnesses.

And they'll point to the basis of the 34-count indictment for falsification of business records, which includes the eleven checks to reimburse Michael Cohen, many of which were signed by Donald Trump also the 11 invoices and then the 12 vouchers. So they will really focus in probably on that hard evidence as opposed to just Michael Cohen's testimony.

So it's going to be hours of closings tomorrow. It could run all day after that point, whether it's tomorrow afternoon or even Wednesday morning, the judge will then charge the jury, give them the jury instructions, and then it's deliberations, and we'll see how long those last.

SANCHEZ: Yes. It's supposed to take about an hour. The delivering of the instructions could be pivotal in the case. Depending on how jurors read those instructions.

SCHNEIDER: It probably will be pivotal how the judge tells the jury to evaluate the law and then how they apply it to the facts.

SANCHEZ: Yes. Jessica Schneider, thanks so much for walking us through that. Look forward to a busy day tomorrow, Jessica, thanks so much.

Let's bring in our legal experts now. Jennifer Rodgers and Victoria Nourse are with us. Jennifer, how important are closing arguments in a case like this, especially after the jury's had about a week off?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, it's incredibly important, Boris. It's always important. The summations are a critical time for both sides. But here, where there's been such stopping and starting with the evidence, too, they really need to remind the jurors of what happened weeks ago. Now, you know, David Pecker was the first witness, and that seems like ages ago. So prosecutors will really want to take the jury in a really organized way through the evidence and explain how it is that the evidence meets up with the law, as the judge will describe it to them, so that they've met their burden and the defense really will do the opposite, right?

Their summation is critical as well, but more for saying, listen, this is messy, this is not clean cut. There's so much reasonable doubt here you can't possibly convict, so critical for both sides, really high stakes.

SANCHEZ: So, Victoria, just based on what Jennifer laid out for the defense, I imagine that part of them showing this whole thing is messy and not clear cut is going after Michael Cohen's testimony and his credibility. Do you think that will be central to their approach to closing?

VICTORIA NOURSE, PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL: Yes. I mean, I think that their only job here is to convince them that there are reasonable doubts, and that's what they're going to say. You can't listen to Michael Cohen when he said there was no retainer because that's key to the question of whether Trump lied on the business records. They'll say that his story just doesn't add up.

You know, I think it's to the advantage of the prosecution that they are going last because they'll have the chance to give the jury a complete and compelling story. And that's where it's, as Jennifer indicated, this is very important for the prosecution. The jurors have not been in for a long time. They need to hear the whole story put together simply that Donald Trump paid off a porn star and then he falsified the records to hide it for the purposes of winning an election. And they got to prove each element of that.


SANCHEZ: Jennifer, when it comes to the prosecution and they're going last, how important is it for them to make the case to jurors that they could prove Trump's guilt even without Michael Cohen's testimony?

RODGERS: Yes, Boris, they definitely will make that point. You know, it's interesting in New York, the defense goes first, prosecutors go last. And federal court prosecutors get to go first and last. So that's what certainly, at least Todd Blanche and Emil Bove are used to. So this is a different way of doing things. But it's critical for them to say, listen, Michael Cohen, you know, usually you would say something along the lines of, you don't have to like him, but let me tell you why you should believe him. Here's why he's corroborated, et cetera, et cetera. But I think prosecutors will also want to make the point, as you mentioned that even without Michael Cohen, they can still convict.

And some of that is because there's only really one area where Michael Cohen provides the only direct evidence, and that's as to whether the former president knew about the way the reimbursement scheme was happening. And even their prosecutors will say, listen, you heard evidence from so many witnesses here that he never paid a cent without knowing exactly what it was for. You knew that the invoices were stapled to the checks. You know, there's just no way, given all that you've heard, that he didn't know exactly what was going on. Use your common sense with all of this. So I think they certainly will make the argument that while jurors should believe Michael Cohen, they don't have to in order to convict.

SANCHEZ: Victoria is there a key piece of evidence or testimony that you expect the jury is going to focus on during deliberations?

RODGERS: Well, they have to focus on the documents and questions. You know, if they're false records, I mean, this is like an obstruction case. So they can believe the whole thing about the, you know, catch and kill scheme that David Pecker enunciated, but not believe that the records were falsified. And so they'll be looking at the records. They say, retainer. Michael Cohen says, no, there was no retainer. Obviously, that's about his credibility. But it was also, you know, the story is whether that all coheres, whether it makes sense with Hope Hicks and the catch and kill scheme.

So the documents are key to this to stay exactly what, you know, we've just heard Boris, which is that they want to say even without Michael Cohen, you can see that these things are falsified.

SANCHEZ: It is going to be a complex picture to paint. We'll see how they do it. Jennifer Rogers, Victoria Nourse, thank you both so much.

NOURSE: Thank you Boris.

SANCHEZ: And just ahead, we're following the deadliest attack on Ukraine by Russia in weeks. Our CNN team is there as Ukrainian forces now ramp up protections of a major city at risk of falling to the Kremlin.



SANCHEZ: Now to the war in Ukraine, where Russia has unleashed its deadliest attack in weeks, killing at least 18 people at a hardware store in Kharkiv. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is in the war zone with more on the fighting and the suffering on the eastern front. We should warn you, some of these images are disturbing.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The fragments of loss and losing so often go unheard, but fast unravel lives all the same. Two missiles hit this comfortable family home just outside Pokrovsk. Now only dust and the smell of a decaying family dog. We're close enough to the Russians. We can pick up their radio station.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (Through Audio Translation): The West will not give modern equipment to Kyiv. So, the ordinary Ukrainian soldiers will be the ones to suck it up.

WALSH: And every time you see destruction like this, it's really hard to work out exactly what Russia must have thought it was hitting with firepower like this. People in the streets say there's no military around at all, but all the same, utter devastation.

WALSH (voice-over): People here know two parents died, but the survivor knows a greater horror. Mykola is 10 and watched his mother, Larissa (ph), die as she lay crushed by the rubble.

MYKOLA GLUSHKO, SURVIVOR OF RUSSIAN ATTACK (Through Audio Translation): I heard a whistle through my dream. Then, bang. All the windows were shattered in a second. My eyes were still closed. I felt the windows shattering and I heard it. Then, something fell. My mom was saying, "Kolya, Kolya." I shouted "Mom, I'm alive." I took everything off my face and then I saw my mom crushed down by the ceiling. I tried to pull it away but I couldn't. Mom was moaning and shaking her legs. I was shouting "Mother, mother, it's just a dream, just a horrible dream." I was screaming, "God, why did you do this to me?" I was running in my underwear, asking for help.

WALSH (voice-over): He says he hates himself for not saving his mother.

GLUSHKO (Through Audio Translation): I will visit them, take care of their graves. Apologize for not being able to save them. I'll apologize to my father, that I couldn't save my mom, his wife. My biggest dream is to ask my parents at least one question. What should I do now? How do I live? My other dream is to take revenge on who fired the missile.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Through Audio Translation): Enter. Easy, easy. We are in.

WALSH (voice-over): When you hear the words too injured in Ukraine, the agony of survival is rarely heard too. A blast hit 4 feet from these two soldiers dug out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Through Audio Translation): So what was it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Through Audio Translation): I don't know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Through Audio Translation): Shelling or drone?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Through Audio Translation): Legs, here. Good job.

WALSH (voice-over): It'll take weeks to learn if they'll see again. Now this stabilization point has to just keep them alive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Through Audio Translation): When I open the eye like this, do you see the light?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Through Audio Translation): Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Through Audio Translation): And people?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Through Audio Translation): No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Through Audio Translation): Cold?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Through Audio Translation): Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Through Audio Translation): OK for you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Through Audio Translation): Yes.

WALSH: Well, these two are from a town that Russia's claimed to be seeing progress in the past days, possibly because forces have been withdrawn from there by Ukraine and Russia north towards Kharkiv to stop the new Russian offensive there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (Through Audio Translation): Oleh Mykolayovich, look at the hand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Through Audio Translation): Something burns on my side.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Through Audio Translation): Where?

WALSH (voice-over): Suddenly he feels pain in his right, internal injuries from the sheer force of the blast. They must quickly intervene.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Through Audio Translation): Is it a short or what? UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Through Audio Translation): Just a little shot. A painkiller, it will be unpleasant now. That's all, it's done honey.

WALSH (voice-over): The doctor says last year during Bakhmut was much busier.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Through Audio Translation): Two hundred people a day.

WALSH (voice-over): The beds here are empty now not because the war is getting better, quite the opposite. This unit, the 93rd Mechanized Brigade, say it's because they're running low on infantry.

WALSH: And that's how they leave, in complete darkness with their headlights off. So worried are they about the Russians spotting this place.


WALSH: Now you heard there about a manpower shortage in Ukraine's ranks. That may behind comments from Ukraine's military chief today saying that he prepared paperwork to enable the French military to send trainers here inside Ukraine, to train Ukrainian troops. The French have not denied that something being discussed, but they make it sound like a much more distant prospect. But again, we are hearing Ukraine crying out for more NATO assistance. And NATO, it seems, discussing or even imagining things that just six months ago, NATO, French troops on the ground here in Ukraine, training Ukrainian troops that would have been simply unimaginable just months ago, really, this war continuing to drag the West in as it seems Ukraine falters on various fronts. Boris?

SANCHEZ: Our thanks to Nick Paton Walsh for that report.

Coming up, sportscaster Bob Costas joins us live to remember his friend, Hall of Fame basketball legend Bill Walton, who passed away today at 71.



SANCHEZ: Tonight, the sports world is mourning the loss of a basketball legend, NBA Hall of Famer, Bill Walton, who passed away today after a prolonged battle with cancer at 71 years old. We want to discuss his career and his life with someone who knew him well. Veteran sportscaster Bob Costas joins us now on the phone. Bob, thanks so much for sharing part of your Memorial Day with us. Bill Walton was unforgettable, right? He was larger than life, and not just for what he did on the basketball court. What will you remember most about him?

BOB COSTAS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, he was a distinctive individual, Boris. You know, just one aspect of it. He went to hundreds and hundreds of grateful dead concerts and often showed up, even for broadcasts of that kind of grateful dead t-shirt, that barrage of colors, and was as apt to quote Jerry Garcia as he was to quote Aristotle. He was a well-educated man, but as a player, let's talk about that, just the objective facts as a player. At UCLA, his record, his team's records through his 1st 73 games were 73 and zero. He didn't lose a game until they lost the game at Notre Dame by one point in his 74th collegiate game, in the 1973 NCAA championship game against Memphis State, he took 22 shots and made 21 of them as he scored 44 points.

He was one of the greatest players, almost directly succeeding Lew Alcindor, as he was then known later, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the couple years in between. But he and Kareem were the greatest UCLA players who sparked that dynasty under Coach John Wooden. So he was one of the greatest college players ever. But then in the pros with the Portland Trailblazers, he was one of the great centers.

For a brief period of time, he belonged in a conversation with Wilt Chamberlain and with Kareem and Bill Russell and others who were thought of as the top centers. And his 1977 Portland Trailblazer team wasn't just the NBA champions. They were one of those teams that played the game at a selfless level. There was almost a synchronicity, an intuitive selfishness in the way they played. They exemplified what made the game great. And then a series of injuries kind of derailed him.

He was such a unique individual, though, Boris. He had a stutter. He was very shy. At UCLA, John Wooden shielded him from the press because of that, and yet he worked to overcome it and became a broadcaster. And for much of his life, he had debilitating back pain to the point where this joyous man confided that he considered suicide. And then eventually, after, like some 50 surgeries, not an exaggeration, finally there was a solution, and he was able to be up and about.


He was so joyous in everything he did and so genuine. He was quirky. There was no one like him. He wasn't trying to be cool. He was trying to be warm because he was genuinely warm hearted.

SANCHEZ: Yes. And there was no one else like him. What stands out most to me, Bob, is that despite all those injuries, despite that pain that he endured and his admission that he contemplated suicide, he remained extremely positive throughout his life. And he just lived with unmitigated joy. Bob Costas, we very much appreciate you sharing that story about your friend, Bill Walton, dead at 71.

Still to come, the high stakes days ahead for Donald Trump, as his unprecedented criminal trial is expected to be in jurors hands this week.