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tv   The Lead With Jake Tapper  CNN  March 14, 2022 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT

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leading this hour with breaking news, ukraine's capital under siege. relentless shelling rocking kyiv and russia hitting new targets in the western part of the country. this time only 12 miles from the border of a nato country. russian air strikes are also pounding the area around mykolaiv. a russian military strike hit a school in one village, reducing to it rubble and smoke. in another community, they killed two people and injured ten more. the cnn editor joins us live from mykolaiv. what effect has this bombardment having on civilians there? >> reporter: it is startling. this time of night, the at this is, the city is dead. the skyline lit up by the roar of the sound of incoming
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rockets. quite a distance away from where i'm standing on the other side of the river that splits this city and makes it quite strategic. we've seen throughout the day, a city awash with ambulances whizzing around doing their business and yet a horrifying rocket attack that hit outside a busy supermarket. people standing there, simply cueing for food with the rare opportunities to get hold of it. nine killed in that instance and shop windows blown out. i met the recently created window from that attack at a nearby hospital and she talked about how she and her husband had been there getting supplies for the fiuneral of their daughter. and she horrifyingly described how she had seen her husband's face heavily injured and the blood was still there nearby where we stood ourselves. this is essentially part of a daily routine for people in mykolaiv now. and it is daily where the
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infrastructure has been hit. with this roughly indiscriminate attacks. they keep pushing back and. >> frustration is voiced with the kind of rocket fire we're hearing in the distance. >> why are these coastal cities so strategic in this fight? >> yeah. two answers tom, really of the possibly as a cultural goal, if vladimir putin really thinks he can occupy ukraine. he can't do it without o'deododesa. on the black sea coast where so many russians have been on vacation for decades. that's an integral part of any plan, warped as it may be. the black sea coast is economically utterly vital and i'm on the second port city, mykolaiv. it is intensifying, rather than
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ebbing. mick the bombardment has been phenomenal but we are seeing now, a bit by russia to move to the north of the city. i was told that essentially, they've recognized by ukraine military, they can't take the bridges here without them being blown and the river is too wide. instead, they're moving to the north where they can make their own bridge and then head around the city and encircle and it then focus their effort toward odesa. that's an enormous task with the kind of resources russia has put here. their ambition has already outstretched their ability. and mykolaiv is bearing the brunnel of that with the russian military around the city with the military fire but also by these attempts, it seem, to get into the city and wreak havoc on
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the population. >> russian air strikes are moving ever closer to the west. ever closer toward nato territory, 12 miles away from poland. ukrainian president zelenskyy said it only a matter of time before the bombs end up dropping in a nato country. how much would that change the war? >> reporter: well, it could potentially drag nato, europe, the united states into a broader, multidimensional years-long conflict with russia. there are many analysts that say that russia is keen to avoid that. there are many who say if russia can't fuel the own tanks, how could it really think it could take on an line of possibly a billion people and has the largest military budget in human history. that's the plain facts of the matter. but then there is the state of mine of vladimir putin who has undertaken something preposterous.
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anyone to see the if you will invasion of ukraine, does that mean he is deciding? hard to tell and deeply troubling. >> reporting alive for us in mykolaiv, ukraine. more than 2.5 million people have left ukraine. cnn sam kylie reports on the fight to keep safe infants born to surrogate mothers. >> reporter: this is precious cargo. not cash in transit but week old baby lawrence in transit to a new life. born to a surrogate mother under bombardment in kyiv. he is raced through the ukrainian capital to a nursery in the southwest of the city. it's perilously close to russian troops and easily within range
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of their artillery. this is a gaunt let his new german parents will have to run when or if they come to collect him. for now he'll be among 20 other surrogate babies, for many countries including the u.s. parting from the child she carried as a surrogate, victoria is inevitably tearful. her pain intensified by uncertainty. >> translator: it is even harder that he is in a place where there is shelling, and when will his parents get to take him away because of it? it is really hard. >> reporter: this missile struck about 500 yards from the nursery while we were there. >> there are constantly explosions we can hear in the basement and the russian military is reportedly consolidating and planning to push in further into the city from the east. the future of these children is even more in doubt. how long will it be before it is impossible, completely
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impossible for the new parents to come and rescue them? >> reporter: the nannies here cannot join the exodus or civilians from kyiv. these babies may be tiny but they're the heaviest of responsibilities. and the husband and daughter have already traveled to safety 130 miles south. >> these babies can't be abandoned. they're defenseless. they also need care and we really hope the parent will come pick them up soon. >> reporter: an argentine couple collected their child the day before. but a combination of the pandemic and now war has meant that some have been stuck here for months. >> translator: it all depends on the strength of the parents' desire. i met with parents who came to kyiv to pick up their baby. they had tears in their eyes. they had waited 20 years for their baby and there are such couples who are afraid because there's a war going on here. >> reporter: these infants are oblivious to the doubts of their future and the danger they've
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already survived. there's abundant hope that it stays that way. >> let me bring sam back hear. the care takers, i can't even imagine the stress they're feeling to keep these babies safe, let alone warm, if hfed, loved. how are they holding up under all this pressure? >> reporter: well, they're doing an extraordinary job. you heard there, staying on to look after these babies. most are mothers. there is a gram of six or seven full-time thanills and they have to work. i think one of the striking things being in that clinic, some of the older baby, five, six months old, a couple of the boys, and they were so desperate for human contact. in the baby's development, a
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friendly smiling face, a gripping of the fingers and so on, are all the part of a baby's development that will be very, very hard for them to get when they are being careful. they were energetically being entertained 24/7 and very extraordinary effort going on there. >> do the surrogate mothers have a place they can to go recuperate from labor and delivery? >> reporter: they go home. so victoria to whom we spoke, once she signed the papers to hand the child that she had carried for the german couple that are planning to come at some stage and collect, young lawrence, she was off home to be reunited with her family. she has a 13-year-old daughter and her husband was with her and she was going to go home and begin her life outside of the capital. she is going to a much safer place.
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i hope it remains that way. >> sam kiley reporting live. a dire warning from the united nations. fears of nuclear war. then five homeless people shot. two of them killed while they were sleeping. now police in new york and d.c. say the same suspect seems to be behind the attack. stay with us. i may have moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis. or psoriatic arthritis. but we are so much more. we're team players and artists. designers and do-it-yourselfers. parents and friends.
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in our world lead, as putin continues his bombardment of innocent citizens including women and children, today united nations secretary general
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toneio is raising a different alarm. >> it is a bone chilling development. the prospect of nuclear conflict once unthinkable is now within the realm of possibility. >> within the realm of possible. joining us to discuss, the former deputy secretary general of nato from 2016 to 2019. former undersecretary for arms control and international security at the u.s. state department. thank you for joining us. you negotiated the new s.t.a.r.t. treaty between the u.s. and russia. having negotiated extensively with russia, do you think russia's goal here, putin talking about nuclear weapons, et cetera, is simply to scare people? or do you think putin and others might be seriously considering deploying nuclear weapons? >> i think that they have taken steps to rattle the nuclear sabre, really. and part of it is to scare people. to make the world know that they are deadly serious in their
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attempt to take over ukraine. but at the same time, i've known the russians to be responsible with regard to nuclear weapons in the past. certainly in terms of ensuring that they were secure and that they were safe from being stolen, for example. we worked with them a lot on that during the period after the break of the soviet union. so my knowledge of the russians is that they've been top flight professionals in this area. so this nuclear sabre rattling is really concerning from the kremlin. >> do you think that vladimir putin is different today, for whatever reason, a different calculus in terms of risk or something else, than he was five years ago? >> he certainly seems to be maniacally focused on ukraine, and re-creating them into one big family. so he in the past, i would say,
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he had a much wider ranging and pragmatic agenda. at times even extending to cooperation with nato in some very intensive ways. so this focus on ukraine and this creation of nato has been the product of the last decade or so. >> what is the best tool of the u.s., nato, to deter russia from further nuclear escalation? >> i think so far, the biden administration and nato itself has been doing a terrific job keeping the lid on. really being very calm and serious about this. pointing to the dangers of nuclear escalation, but really doing everything to ensure that there could be no miscues. nothing could be misread from the u.s. or nato side. and i know they will continue to take that very seriously and very careful approach. >> the russians have taken over chernobyl, the site of the worst nuclear accident in the history
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of the world. the staff there have stopped carrying out routine maintenance on safety equipment because of the hundreds of personal he will there are experiencing physical and psychological fatigue according to the international atomic energy agency which says the staff manning the facility have not been able to rotate out since russian forces entered the site nearly three weeks ago. what is russia's end game with chernobyl? or might there not be one? >> i think innen, russia has been going after nuclear facilities in ukraine, that it draws attention to what they're doing. it is easy wins for them in terms of bringing the eye of the world to them and to what they're doing in ukraine. so part of that is that assurance that people are frightened by what they're up to. on the other hand, they are also, i think, looking in some sense for a military objective. not at chernobyl, but by seizing
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the operational power plants as they did, they are looking for ways to perhaps shut down the electricity grid in ukraine. they get. so of their electricity from nuclear power. so i think it is a combination of goals that they have. another thing going on is they have this kind of crazy line coming out of moscow that ukraine is after radiological weapons. that they want to use nuclear waste to make dirty bombs. it is total nonsense but it is part of the story from the kremlin's perspective. >> the atomic agency said communication has been spotty in the area around chernobyl and they're about to enter their annual fire season where responsibility fires happen in what is called the and collusion zone. how worrisome is the potential of an unstable chernobyl for the surrounding area? for greater europe? >> i think the biggest problem
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here is that if the top soil is stirred up around chernobyl, you could have some radiation getting out into the atmosphere. that's why they're so very careful when there are wildfires in the area to ensure they're put out quickly so there will not be the problem of top soil getting stirred up and perhaps some dust getting into the atmosphere that would be radioactive in nature. in terms of the power plan itself, the ruined power plan is enclosed in a sarcophagus. very difficult to cause damage to that. so the thing that worries me most, as i said, is the top soil getting spilled. getting stirred up and causing some pollution in that way. >> secretary, thank you. one way to be a good neighbor. a romanian man moved his restaurant operation to the ukrainian border to give out free meals to refugees. that story is next. or the places wewe didn't go. ♪ ♪
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staying in our world lead, the now nearly 3 million refugees fleeing ukraine are putting quite a strain on neighboring countries eager to help those in desperate need. many of them have fled to nearby romania. the report now from romania on the long and perilous journey for refugees traveling there. >> reporter: they arrive by the hundreds. normal ukrainian citizens one day, refugees the next. >> this is stressful, yes. because we have no idea what to do, where to go, and when we will be able to return to our
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homes. >> reporter: she is from kyiv, the second biggest city, devastated by russian artillery and rockets. >> translator: when i was packing my clothes, she said, i thought it would all be over in three days. >> reporter: for many just arriving on romanian soil, emotional. one woman cries as the volunteer hands her a bottle of water. >> all the romanian people are mobilized to help these people. >> reporter: romanians stepping up, trying to make the ukrainians feel a little bit at home. dennis closed his restaurant. he now serves meals free to refugees. >> we closed the restaurant and we are coming here to help these people. chicken, pork? >> reporter: for all those getting out, a few going back in.
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alexander is returning to mykolaiv. russians have hammered the city. and you are willing to die for ukraine. we all die, he says. then adds, i'm afraid to die but i'm not a coward. this person from odesa along with her daughter, their dog and two cats. she said they left because of what they heard was happening in places already controlled by the russians. i've heard about the violence, she says, and killings of peaceful people without any reason. she added, i had to leave. i was too stressed about it happening to me and my daughter. >> reporter: look, the romanian government says the number of refugees in recent days has come down in ukraine. but they are very concerned about the displaced.
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they are worried that there are ten of thousands on the border and if and when the russians continue their onslaught toward the west, that they will have another massive tidal wave of refugees coming into romania and many other countries. >> thank you. so for that report. coming up next, siding with russia. siding against ukraine. how donald trump's long history of praising putin, dismissing ukrainian concerns, may have experts, say, helped lay the ground work for what we're seeing today.
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in our world lead, the war in ukrainian is entirely the fault and responsibility of one man, vladimir putin, though of course, decades of misjudgments in western foreign policy set the stage for him as we have covered before. recently, however, former donald trump and his allies have been engaging in quite a bit of revisionist history about this
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matter. >> it is so sad. this would have never happened if we had the trump administration. there was no chance this would happen. and i know him well. and this was not something that was going to happen at all. >> trump, of course, failing to mention his own actions and inactions, and that of his administration that may have enabled putin in many ways, instead of calling out russia's decades of invasion in 2008, annexing crimea in 2014. trump in this say seems to find room to even praise putin as a genius for the brutal attack. even some of trump's foreign advisers wonder if his approach may have empowered the russian president on the world stage. >> reporter: as the world watches russian tanks rolling into ukraine, a clearer picture comes into focus. not only about vladimir putin's willingness to slaughter innocents in the name of restoring the old soviet empire, but also --
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>> i would love to get along with russia. >> reporter: about how our former president consistently sent signal that's he was not on ukraine's side. he was on putin's. on the very day trump announced his presidential run in 2015, he made this clear. >> i was over in moscow two years ago and i will tell you, you can get along with those people and get along with them well. you can make deals with those people. obama can't. >> the way he denigrated allies and spoke favorably of putin, and of other authoritarians around the world kind of gave a clear signal both to american allies in the west and to russia whose side this man would be on if he were in the white house. >> reporter: trump said he would be looking to lifting sanctions against russia for having anexted crima and he seemed to buy putin's argument that russia's first ukrainian assault, taking crimea in 2014, was not such a big deal. >> you know, the people of
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crimea from what i've heard, would rather be with russia than where they were. >> that was not the issue. the issue was that it was annexed illegally against all international laws. >> reporter: paul manafort's, trump's second -- >> manafort has done an amazing job. >> reporter: he was there for roughly a decade and was paid in part by russian old gargs, according to a 2020 senate intelligence committee report. during manafort's time as campaign chair, the campaign pushed sometimes bizarre and seemingly random disinformation that could have been written by the kremlin. >> you had the nato base in turkey being attacked by terrorists. you had a number of things that weren't appropriate to this campaign, were part of what mr. trump has been talking about. >> reporter: when the republican national committee's 2016 platform proposed to provide lethal defensive weapons to ukraine in the face of the russian threat, that language was quickly tabled and softened,
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promising only appropriate stance. once manafort and trump's team got involved. >> that was a big victory for the russians and it underscored their sense that they were going to really win big if trump won the white house. that they would have a major ally in the white house. >> reporter: trump denied any direct involvement with the change of platform language. >> i was not involved. in. i was not involved. i was not involved. >> reporter: once in office, trump pushed the notion the u.s. had moral equivalence with russia, even as perceived opponents of the kremlin kept ending up dead or poisoned. >> putin is a killer. >> a lot of killers. you think our country is so innocent? >> reporter: trump argued russia should be given back its seat even though it had punished ukraine. >> i would rather see russia in the g-8 as opposed the g-7.
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i would say the g-8 is a more meaningful group than the g-7. absolutely. >> you have trump lining up very clearly with russia. you have him at a meeting with g-7 leaders, telling them just forget about ukraine. ukraine is russian. let it go. >> reporter: and of course, the day after trump fired fbi director james comey amid the investigation into possible coordination between russia and the trump indication that, the then president met with russian prime minister serge delay lavrov and trump revealed highly classified information to the pair. >> we had a very, very good meeting with mr. lavrov, and it was, i thought it was very, very good. >> reporter: special counsel robert muellerer's report found manafort and michael flynn who had been paled by russian entities to attend and speak at this 2015 gala where he literally dined with putin, together pushed the nonsensical
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theory that it was ukraine, that russia, that had meddled in the 2016 election. >> don't forget, ukraine hated me. they were after me in the election. they wanted hillary clinton to win. >> reporter: a prelude to the events that paved the way to trump's first impeachment. in summer 2019, trump ousted his ambassador to ukraine at a critical time. fighting had continued in the east with separatists back by russia address might's might and ukraine was in desperate need from the u.s. >> ukraine is in a war with russia. and the security assistance that we provide ukraine is significant. absent that security assistance and maybe even more importantly, the signal of support for ukrainian sovereignty and integrity that would likely encourage russia to pursue, to potentially escalate and pursue further aggression. >> reporter: weeks later trump had his now infamous qual the
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newly elected president volodymyr zelenskyy where he asked for more anti-tank j javelins. and trump wanted ukraine in exchange form aid to help him in his re-election campaign by announcing an investigation into joe biden, the democratic presidential candidate trump feared the most, according to his aides, and into biden's son hunter who had a lucrative and ethically dubious position on the board of a ukrainian gas company. >> it's just yet another way in which trump very openly sided with putin, and dismissed the concerns and the needs of an important u.s. ally. >> reporter: trump was being pushed behind the scenes by defense secretary mark esper among others to give the desperately needed military aid. eventually zelenskyy did get the weapons he asked for and an in-person meeting with trump, though not the one he wanted in the oval office. >> we need support.
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real support. and we thank everybody. >> reporter: trump and his supporters today note that unlike during the administrations of bush and obama, putin never invaded any country during the trump years, which is true. though russia did significantly ramp up its military presence in syria. but former trump national security vilesor john bolt only said there could be a reason form. >> in a second trump term, i think he may have well with drawn from nato and i think putin was waiting for that. >> reporter: that signal had certainly been sent. >> number one. nato is objection obsolete. they are deliquent. nato is obsolete. >> you had candidate trump talking this way saying nato was objection least. he wanted to get along with russia. that russia was a super power that we should take seriously and respectful that was music to putin's ears. >> reporter: behind closed doors, they had on convince trump to stand by nato. >> i had my heart in my throat
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at that nato meeting. i didn't know what the president would do. he called me up to his seat seconds before he gave the speech. i said go right to the line but don't go over it. >> reporter: it is a line bolton would have been crossed. coming up next, the clues that led police to believe the same gunman may be responsibility for a series of shootings of two homeless men in two major american cities.
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in our national lead, a manhunt underway after a string of homeless men were attacked and even murdered.
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five shootings over nine days. three in washington, d.c. two in new york city. all in the middle of the night. officials think they're connected. surveillance video is providing vital clues in the search for the killer who is preying on society's most vulnerable. >> reporter: today new video of a man that official in new york city and washington, d.c. are on the hunt for. suspected in a series of shootings targeting homeless men. >> what we know is that guns have been involved in scenes in new york and d.c., and that they have been maxed ballistically. >> reporter: in a joint investigation, authorities say they believe this person is behind at least five shootings with similar circumstances that have left two men dead. the men they're suspecting left two dead and two more this part saturday in new york city which left one dead. eric adams says surveillance video of the weekend's attack
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showed an assassination. >> it broke my heart. if anyone saw the video of what happened last night, we responded to the scene. the police said this was an intentional murder. he stood over him and shot him in his head for no reason at all but being homeless. so we will catch him. >> reporter: the washington atf says there's a $55,000 reward as they look for tips on helping identify and arrest the suspect. in a statement released last night, adams and washington, d.c. mayor muriel bowser wrote that it is, quote, heart-breaking and tragic that in addition to all the dangers unsheltered residents face, we now have a cold-blooded killer on the loose. at a vigil last night in new york city, emotions ran high. >> how many homeless new yorkers must die? >> somehow those experiencing street homelessness have become public enemy number one.
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>> reporter: and jake, shortly in the next hour, we'll get an update from officials. the nypd police commissioner traveling to washington, d.c. where they'll hold a joint press conference with officials there as this manhunt continues, jake. >> all right. thank you so much. let's discuss. mayor bottoms, let me start. but you dealt with rising crime first hand while you were mayor of atlanta. what do you make of the d.c. mayor and eric adams handling of these shootings? >> i'm very happy that they have identified a suspect. any time you have a vulnerable population that is being victimized, it is of concern. this is what cities have been facing big and small across the country, dealing with this, what i call covid crime wave. we have seen an uptick in crime
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since 2020. and unfortunately, all of the stressors that were in place were made even worse during the pandemic. so any time you're able to quickly identify a suspect that is always a very, that's always very good news for the police department and for the public, but we must continue to deal with these systemic issues that are facing our communities, because we are going to find ourselves in the same place again with an uptick and scott just mentioned, crime rose during the pandemic when republicans capitalize on the law and order issue during election years. it usually works. it is horrible to talk about the politics of any sort of tragedy, but the crime that we're seeing in the major cities, including these horrific shootings we just talked about, could have a -- there could be a result at the
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ballot box. >> yeah, no question. republicans i think are going to use the crime issue in this midterm election. you're going to see republicans p point to democrat-run city where's violent crime is up and democrats point to republican policies that are weak on criminals, where you have new york city and the prosecutor and the mayor frankly who aren -- are endorsing decriminalizing actions and joe biden said i would like to see others follow the new york city lead. you're going to see this in the context. mid it is a political issue in that your vote matters. if you vote for people who want policy a. versus policy b., i think it is one of the reasons why you saw joe biden came out in the state of the union and try to separate himself from the defund the police mantra that has taken hold in some quarters
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of the democratic party because it is quite unpopular. >> what did you think about that, mayor bottom. s it is not just people in the city effected but people in the surrounding area and it was a lot of voters in the suburbs of places like philadelphia, atlanta, and elsewhere, that delivered the presidency to joe biden. >> well, what i will remind people specifically in georgia is that the governor of georgia is the chief law enforcement officer of our state per our state constitution. but also when you look at policies, when you look at some of the decriminalization efforts, they centered on nonviolent offenders, nonviolent crimes. people, leaders in cities and states across america, are still very focused on addressing violent crime. but again, you have to look at it as a whole. it is the reason in atlanta specifically that we took money
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from the american rescue funds to put it towards ballots intervention work. because you are either going to pay an ott front end or you're going to pay on the back end. i sat as a judge for many years and what i saw, i said many times people came into court, they didn't have an education, they didn't have jobs, they didn't have access to mental health treatment treatment, et cetera. so we have to make those important investments in those systemic areas while also focusing on getting violent offenders off of our streets, keeping them incarcerated once they get into court. i don't think that is a partisan issue. we all agree on that. >> scott, just a quick thought, i was wondering what you thought about the fact that tonight there is a fundraiser for wyoming congresswoman liz cheney who has been targeted by donald trump. so many people rsvp-ed that they have to move to a larger venue.
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part of it is about boosting a champion in the republican party of somebody who stands for different things than donald trump. what do you think is at stake here? >> well, for cheney, he's built up friends and the cheney family is popular among donors so i'm not surprised. but i do think there is a desire and polling bears this out, republicans don't want to nominate donald trump again. you may have a number of people running for the nomination. it would be easy for him to get the nomination if he faces a hugely fragmented field. i'm not sure there is a huge market for what liz cheney is selling but there is some market for it and i suspect she might give it a wirl and she'll have some support if she did. >> thanks to both of you. appreciate it. coming up, dolly parton doing something she never does, she's bowing out.
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♪ baby i'm burning may sound a little like rock and roll. but according to dolly parton, it is not enough for the rock and roll hall of fame. the icon is taking herself out of consideration for the 2022 class of inductees. parton said she doesn't feel right, like she's earned the right to be honored in that way but inspired to put out a great rock and roll album in the
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future. i want her to put out an amazing album. all of your fabs out there, don't miss my interview with the country music legend for jake tapper's book club and i'll speak with her and james patterson about the new novel out right now. here is a review. >> you broke out of a partnership in your career led to i will always love you as one -- >> yeah. >> that song came out of it. >> yeah. >> how important was it for you to deliver that message. >> you have to be tough. whether you like it or not. if you're going, i felt like god gave me a talent and he meant more me to use it and i depend on him for extra strength when i hit the wall with certain people. i was stubborn too and i got that from my dad. and if i believe in something, i won't let it go and i won't let somebody take it from me. >> the full interview with dolly
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parton and james patterson will be available when cnn plus launched on march 29th. join the book club and sign up for your newsletter go to club newsletter. and follow me on facebook, twitter and the tiktok, and tweet me at "the lead." our coverage begins now with wolf blitzer in "the situation room." thanks for watching. happening now, breaking news. new explosions rattling kyiv tonight as russia once again bombards civilians in the ukrainian capital and putin's army inches closer and closer to the city limits. this is as the pentagon now warns russia is expanding its targets in western ukraine, just miles from the polish border, raising new fears the violence could spill over into nato territory. the russians also pushing to cut off ukraine from its crucial access to the black sea. major ukrainian cities in th