tv CNN Newsroom With Jim Acosta CNN May 1, 2022 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT
you are live in the cnn "newsroom." i'm jim acosta in washington. they were trapped underground facing constant russian attacks overhead. now they are free. brand-new video out of mariupol show civilians escorted through the rubble of the destroyed steel plant where they've been for weeks. women, children, babies, seeing daylight and getting on evacuation buses. 100 people were rescued. we're just learning a ukrainian commander says russian shelling has already resumed at the battered steel plant where hundreds more are still underground inside a city that has become a killing field. mariupol city council says in two months the russian army has killed twice as many people as
hitler's forces killed in two years of attacks on that port city. the toll estimated at 20,000 people so far. elsewhere a wave of fresh attacks, deadly assaults/cross ukraine and russia is said to be reinforcing its firepower in the east. all of that was the backdrop for house speaker nancy pelosi who became the highest ranking american official to meet with president zelenskyy since the war began. let's get you right now to sara sidner on the ground in kyiv. sara, thanks for being with us. such a dramatic situation in mariupol. what is the status of that ceasefire and what can you tell us? >> reporter: look, we now know there are dozens of people who have been set free. this is a really important moment because, as you know, for weeks you have had people there they needed food, they needed wa water, and they were dealing with devastation as that part of the country here in ukraine has
been bombarded for weeks. weep should also mention there are also other issues going on. of course you did have people, many people, killed in the area and now we are seeing evidence of mass graves. take a look at this. no tears, no remembrances, no final good-byes. just dust to dust. the burial is over. >> we bury 50 people a day, he says. today we've done two lots of 18 bodies and then another 10. 46 in total. >> reporter: grave diggers can barely keep up the pace at this cemetery on the outskirts of mariupol. once marked with only a number a sign the bodies have yet to be identified by family. >> translator: people come and find their loved ones and bring crosses and a board. >> reporter: cnn is not present in the donbas but footage we obtained and satellite images show dozens of fresh graves.
local authorities say about 600 in total and this is not an isolated case. images show graves have been dug en masse at two other burial grounds. this is one of them. >> translator: they've been bringing bodies every day for a month. they keep bringing more and more, bit by bit. >> reporter: here, too, footage shows rows of freshly dug graves and indications bodies have been buried before being identified. >> translator: each body is given its own grave and a coffin and a board with a number. >> reporter: a soldier who did not want to be identified says -- >> translator: after they're processed the city works with the prosecutor's office to organize their burial. >> reporter: cnn could not independently verify the claims but authorities say the majority of those buried here were killed during russia's assault on mariupol. moscow has now seized control of most of the strategic port city
but some ukrainian forces continue to hold ground at the azovstal steel plant. the kremlin hasn't reported an official death toll but ukrainian officials say it's in the thousands. >> translator: by our optimistic estimation, 20,000 died on the streets of the city, the mayor of mariupol says. >> reporter: because the death toll is bound to rise the work continues about 100 freshly dug graves ready for the dead. as war rages, ukrainians aren't just being murdered by strangers but also buried by them. now we should also mention that here in kyiv there was an unannounced visit, as you mentioned earlier, of the most senior u.s. official to come to this country since this war began. nancy pelosi showed up here. she was on the ground about three hours, jim. she was able, of course, to meet with president zelenskyy who
appreciated her showing her support and it really was to show solidarity with ukraine but also to visit troops, the 82nd airborne in poland making it very clear and showing the strength of the united states but also showing the togetherness that it has and its support for nato as well, jim. >> all right, sara sidner, thank you very much for that report. we appreciate it. i'm joined by retired brigadier general who is a former senior u.s. defense attache to the russian federation. what do you make of the fact that 100 people were rescued today from that steel plant in mariupol but now the shelling has continued? i mean, they sort of turned the spigot on and off when it comes to just the terrible situation those folks are trapped in there. >> jim, there's certainly a motive. this decision didn't magically happen, the corridor didn't
remain open for two days. just to bring us out just for a moment remember that 9 may the big, big russian victory day, big parade in moscow, and i've attended it, is on. there's no triumph this year to show. and maybe, just maybe, they're clearing some civilians out, the red cross, you enter there. they get maybe some positive media and then they go in and try to finish this siege over the next week to be able to hoist the light blue/red flag over all of mariupol. i wonder if they can eke out that and a little bit more in donbas, which hasn't gone well, they then, because they've been trying to show a modicum of humanitarianism, they continue to press for a ceasefire and negotiations and try to gain a line inside of ukrainian territory beyond the 24, if you
will, february foundry. there are reasons i worry about a major, major push now. the same in the donbas but the aspirations there i think are less because they've been pretty bloody and the same goes for the south. >> and as we were showing our viewers a few moments ago house speaker nancy pelosi now the most senior u.s. official to visit ukraine and meet with president zelenskyy since this war began. she could have conducted this meeting via zoom or a video link of some sort. what's the impact of her going there personally along with this delegation? we were just speaking with house intelligence committee chairman adam schiff and he was talking about how remarkable it is to sit there face-to-face with zelenskyy who has just become the face of this really incredible ukrainian resistance. what are your thoughts on this trip? >> well, when we go back to the
24, 25, 26 of february, at the beginning of this aggression, this invasion, all of this was incomprehensible. we didn't even think he would be there. we thought it would fall, most of us, within the first few days. it didn't. so now as the senior, if you will, american political figure there, just following the secretary of defense and secretary of state, all the other nations that have gone in and it is a message sent to the kremlin that, look, nobody wants to go into a direct fight with moscow, but we, meaning our allies and like-minded nations, are here to stay and we want and so will ukraine. >> and is it possible that the russians and the u.s. military are speaking in some way to
coordinate a trip like this? how does that work, or do we just keep them out of it? i suppose those kinds of communications did go on during the cold war from time to time. would that even be within the realm of possibilities we could have those kinds of discussions? >> jim, i don't know the specifics. the embassies do talk. they still talk in syria. there are still links but coordinating a trip, i don't know. if so the message is sent. seniors are going in and don't do it. doan fire the rockets or else it will be hell to pay in a lot of different ways. i frankly am not -- be. >> that makes perfect sense. we spoke with adam schiff in the last hour. here is what he was saying about the trip that they just had. >> we wanted to discuss with him within that really vast sum what
is the priority in terms of what weapons that he needs, what other assistance that he needs. so we went through a detailed discussion of the next phase of the war. it's moving from a phase in which ukrainians were ambushing russian tanks. it was close quarters fighting to fighting more at a distance using long-range artillery and that changes the nature of what ukraine needs to defend itself. >> what do you think, general? do you agree with that, we have reached a new phase in this war? >> i think we're getting to the point where we're seeing the russians for the second time as they did outside of kyiv culminate and while powerful they're being ground down and, sadly, so have ukrainians. again, it comes down to the ukrainian will to fight and what we're seeing in the donbas is the russians on back channel
traffic are trying to push their troops and they're slowing and many of them probably don't want to fight anymore. and so it's -- they've gone into a grind it out almost stalemate which is bad for russia. people say time isn't on ukraine's side, but i also say in this context especially with the south, which has also slowed down and the epic besiege battle in mariupol, yes, i think that the russians have a lot of problems which is why i'm concerned they're going to be looking for a ceasefire negotiation on lands taken since the beginning of the invasion which will become really difficult for that. the ukrainians are going to need heavier weapons, in my mind, to get at least to the lines that occurred in 2014, the original lines for the battle began, this
invasion began, and that will be a whole other dialogue. yes, they are being plussed up. they're thinking offensively. but they have to be careful about getting out too far in offense. that they did in 2014-2015 and got ahead and got mangled. >> all right, brigadier general peter zwack, good talking to you, sir. >> hey, cheers. thank you. >> all right. coming up, a pandemic incorporated. pandemic inc. what a new book exposes about those who banked millions while the rest of the country was getting sick with covid.
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to come to the table and do more incredible things. if you still feel guilty about all of that toilet paper or clorox wipes you hoarded in the early dales of the pandemic, that is nothing compared to the schemes some health care companies and contractors were run to go get rich during one of the darkest moments in american history. it was back in those early days
of 2020 when the u.s. government realized the national stockpile had only a fraction of the lifesaving equipment needed -- masks and gloves -- that were impossible to find and desperate the government shelled out big money for companies to provide them at a steep markup but shortages persisted. why was that? in the brand-new book, reporter david mcswayne spent over a year on private jets and in secret warehouses getting to the bottom of all of this. david, great to have you with us. we appreciate it. in this book you talk about a fraudster who has paid tens of millions to supply millions of these n95 masks we were all desperate to find throughout the pandemic to the department of veterans affairs, and yet they never produced a single mask. where did all of that money go? how is that even possible? >> in that case that contractor wasn't actually paid. the veterans administration which oversees the largest hospital network in the country,
and these were the really scary weeks when everything was locked down and we saw the federal government was handing out contracts willy-nilly and by virtue of that racking up the price and had states and cities and the federal government all competing for it so it was just a profound mess. >> there were some folks i suppose who were putting money in their pocket and not doing what they were supposed to do. >> right. there's one i detail, a contractor who formed an llc, six days later had a $10 million deal for test kits, and these are the pcr test kits. there's some real science involved. started digging into it and this contractor had a history of fraud allegations. looked into it and the test kits were mini soda bottle preforms blown up to create your two liter soda bottles at the grocery store, unsterile, completely unusable. set back testing throughout the country. those were really crucial
moments. >> and some of these brokers who claimed to have access to masks would use videos called proof of life what is that all about? i had not heard this before. >> it sounded like something from a hostage movie. some were forwarded to me, grainy cell phone videos coming from all over the world, sort of panning over a lot of masks and the boxes are labelled 3m and the seller would claim i have this lot ready to go, millions of masks. you just have to wire the money. and i couldn't believe it. this was how deals were being done while we were all stuck at home. >> use a video from your phone and send that off and all of a sudden a check for millions of dollars will come to your bank account. is that essentially what happened? it was that simple? >> some people did actually wire funds. i tracked down a few deals that
was a federal contract everyone was kind of buzzing around. at the end of the day the masks didn't exist or were subpar chinese masks, and this was the madness behind the federal response which was to essentially put our national well-being in the hands of mercenaries because we weren't prepared and the trump administration dragged its feet in those crucial early weeks. >> it's mind blowing and people suffered as a result of this. talk about peter navarro. when the pandemic hit, he became the person in charge of prioritizing for the covid response. obviously he's a high-profile figure from the trump years and got into things at the end with january 6th. during the pandemic he had a role and you dug into that. what did you discover there? >> i was really drawn to peter navarro. he's such a character. everyone has an opinion about him here in washington.
he inadvertently set me off on this looking at those deals. someone had written as ordered by the white house. and the white house is not supposed to pick and choose who gets deals for obvious reasons. i was aware of his work but wasn't sure he was behind it. the congressional inquirpinquird he did something remarkable as he's trying to get things moving in what he called trump time. he essentially took over federal purchasing and started awarding contracts to people with white house connections, got in the middle of deals that didn't work out when we could have delivered masks. sort of following his work helped me illustrate the madness behind the scenes and the fact we were really making it up as we were going. >> just to button that up, people with white house
connections, people with trump connections got lucrative contracts? >> we're finding out more and more as a result of congressional inquiries. >> david mcswane, i don't know if you laugh or cry when you read about this stuff but it's just so important because of everything we went through. people were desperate for these supplies and to think these kinds of shenanigans were going on. i shouldn't be pollyannaish after covering politics in washington but it is astound to go see this was going on during such a difficult time. thank you very much for being with us. again, the author of the book "pandemic, inc -- chasing the capitalists and thieves who got rich while we were sick." president biden takes a swing at his predecessor at this year's white house correspondents' dinner. this is the first time the president has attended this dinner in six years. it's understandable. we had a horrible plague
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president biden taking jabs at trump, the gop and himself at last night's white house correspondents' dinner. here's a taste of him playing comedian in chief. >> i'm really excited to be here tonight with a group of americans with a lower approval rating than i have. it's the first time the president has attended this dinner in six years. it's understandable. we had a horrible plague followed by two years of covid. the very first president to attend the white house correspondents' dinner was
calvin coolidge in 1924. i'd just been elected to the united states senate. i know this is a tough town. i came to town with an agenda, i just hoped it would be from republicans. i'm not here to roast the gop. th that's not my style. there's nothing i can say about the gop kevin mccarthy hasn't already put on tape. the public seems to support some fellow, a guy named brandon. he's having a really good year. and i'm kind of happy for him. >> he's right about that. he has had a good year. host of "firing line" margaret hoover and political analyst john afvalon. i called you so briefly last night. it was a fleeting moment but great to see you. margaret, i wish i had seen you as well. thanks to both of you for coming on. take your pick whoever wants to chime in first. how did the president do last
night? i thought the jokes were pretty funny. in many cases they wrote themselves. >> that's the story of our times. look, it was good to have the president back in the room poking fun at himself as well as the press. that's a key part of democracy is being able to make a joke if you're the president and give a joke. there were some lines that stung and caused a genuine laugh. some in our direction. the whole point of a roast, a speech like this, there's no topic off limits. that's where the humor comes from. >> jim, in terms of delivery, biden got the jokes off, fine. they were good. that was all great. >> not impressed. >> no, honestly, it was great, but i thought the most
compelling part of what he said was the last third of what he said which wasn't funny at all. he took a turn for serious and made a really important point. and he said the free press is not the enemy of the people. far from it. at your best you are the guardians of truth. and it's unfortunate that had to be said, but it had to be said, because this is a reset. the president is back in the room with the press this is a celebration of the first amendment and the importance of free speech and the importance of the press and so many people take it for granted still and it's so important for those listening around the world who needed to be reminded. >> absolutely. it was refreshing to hear a president not refer to the press as the enemy of the people and quite the opposite. a very key moment. trevor noah did not hold back in going after washington.
and, guess what, we deserve it so it's fine. let's listen. >> it is my great honor to be speaking tonight at the nation's most distinguished superspreader event. give it up for kirstyrsten sine. what could a senator be openly bi-sexual but closeted politically. thank you for having me here. i was a little confused about why me but then i was told that you get your highest approval ratings when a bi-racial african is standing next to you. these people are so hard on you which i don't get. i really don't. ever since you've come into office things are really looking up. gas is up, rent is up, food is up. everything. >> and the president laughed. the president laughed at jokes at his expense. >> you have to.
trump never doing this dinner, he is a natural insult comic. everybody got skewered. i thought he did a good job. >> no question. margaret, let's get serious and talk about some of these texts that cnn has obtained this past week between sean hannity who, by the way, was the target of some jabs last night. and former trump chief of staff mark meadows. let's talk about this. here is just one of them. meadows says stress every vote matters. get out and vote. on radio, hannity, yes, sir, on it. any place in particular we need to push? meadows, pennsylvania, north carolina, arizona, nevada. hannity, got it. everywhere. i mean, you know, i know we're not supposed to be shocked anymore by any of this but, margaret, my goodness, what is going on?
this is not anywhere near being appropriate for somebody who is on a network that calls itself -- has the word news in it. help us sort this out. what do you think? >> and for a prime time host of the leading cable news station in the united states essentially acting as the white house communications director, the campaign communications director, when he's going to go on air and talk to his 3 million people that night saying especially if you're in north carolina, arizona, pennsylvania, michigan, make sure you vote. every single vote matters. that's -- i mean, that makes fox news the propaganda wing of the trump white house. that used to be an accusation that seemed a little bit over the edge but those texts prove it. it was right in front of us. last night joe biden was joking about fox news and lending his chief of staff for messaging to the cable news. he was making that joke but that is deadly serious. that happened in the last
administration. so there's nothing except it's highly not only inappropriate, potentially is that a campaign finance violation? was that an in kind donation to the campaign? there are a lot of questions -- >> that would imply we have a working d.c. yes, sir, got it. yes, sir, got it. click your heels and salute. it's unbelievable. all directed by conservatives we've never seen the kind of direct really collusion between a partisan press and a white house that we did and then we have the evidence. we have the receipts in real time. it's beyond shameless and nothing to do in the same zip code as journalism. >> i remember seeing hannity out on the campaign trail with trump and so on. you wondered how deep did this go and this shows they were working hand in glove quite a
bit. let me talk to you about this, elon musk. we haven't done that. apparently he's taken control of twitter for $44 billion. he has $44 billion to spare. he tweeted a cartoon this week to explain how his political views have shifted. there's been a lot of discussion of this. these are the stick figures. i don't know if he drew this or found it online. from left of center when obama was elected but then woke progressives make him look right wing. what do you think of that? i have a lot of thoughts but i want to hear your thoughts. >> colin wright, i believe, was the cartoonist. he's re-tweeted and made an nft of the cartoon, trading at $1.3 million right now. that's the power of elon musk's midas touch. competing things, who is going
to answer this question first. one thing the cartoon doesn't take into account, you can take away the centrist point, it doesn't take away donald trump. there is a fallacy going around in terms of how people on the center/right talk to themselves about being on the center/right and i say this as a person on the center/right. there's a lot of what about them. the progressive left is so much worse and what about that? they don't take into account trump and what it has done to the party and done to pull the party not even to the right but off the rails. elected democrats are not but elected republicans are represented by the trump wing. it's a nice cartoon that can make you feel good but it doesn't take into account real affects in our politics. >> it probably needs a reality
check. >> is that tomorrow? >> that may very well be tomorrow. it speaks to something honest where people get into their negative partisanship wing and they do the what about us but you have to put it against the reality of our politics and the reality of where the parties are and it breaks down real quick if you look at the data. that's just the deal. >> and there's sort after snowflaky victimhood thing going as well that makes me wonder. >> facts not your feelings, it's just a mirror. >> great to talk to both of you and glad you made it through the weekend. we appreciate it. thanks so much. >> take care. coming up, a nationwide man hunt under way for an inmate charged with murder and a corrections officer who hasn't been seen since friday. it's a wild case. ( ♪ ) ♪ walking on ♪
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so stand up and relax. order your american made comfortmat at weathertech.com. u.s. marshal service is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the capture of a capital murder suspect who disappeared along with a corrections officer who was transporting him. nadia romero tracking the latest developments for us. it's a wild case. do the police have any leads at this point? >> reporter: yes, we just got an update from the sheriff within the last hour. they're getting a lot of leads coming in. they're going through the information. they're looking for video to try
to see what car the two might have left in because we know her patrol car was left in a shopping mall. they're going through all the leads but don't have anything confirmed right now. and he wasn't able to answer one of the bigger questions that you see a lot of people asking on social media, how was the corrections officer involved? is she a hostage, or was she an accomplice? this is vicki white. she worked with casey white. she's been there nearly 17 years. she was the assistant director for 17 years. we're told that she sent in her retirement papers on thursday which would have been one day before the escape. another twist in this story. we're also told she's a widow with no children. the sheriff says he's shocked that he didn't think this would happen at his jail and especially not to her, his employee who has been working there for so long. listen to him explain why everyone says she was well liked
and well respected. all of her co-workers, the judges, have respect for her. she has an unblemished record. she's an exemplary employee. we're very concerned for her safety. >> reporter: the reason why is a long list of convictions of inmate casey white. take a look this is from being sentenced back in 2019 a wanted poster out for him. as jim mentioned $10,000 reward. he has convictions including attempted murder and robbery and burglary and kidnapping. there you can see that long list, that rap sheet. now he was already serving 75 years in prison when in 2020 prosecutors said he told them he killed 59-year-old connie ridgeway, murdered her in her apartment back in 2015. this is connie ridgeway here. you'll see her in pictures with her two sons. white pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity according to our news affiliate but the
sheriff says they found out he was planning an escape by taking a hostage and as punishment had more restrictions and was sent back to prison. more recently he was brought back to the county detention center because he had court proceedings related to the ridgeway capital murder charges. this is austin williams. he says he hopes white is captured without anyone being hurt. >> it does kind of bring it all back together, the shock and you wonder how it's possible. there's a part of me who knows justice will be served and will have to leave it to god and leave it to the law enforcement to do their jobs to bring him in. it's not something i thought i would experience again. >> reporter: one last look at casey white. and something to note, he is 6'9" tall so he should stick out in about any crowd.
different looks depending on if he has hair or not. he also has tattoos of a rebel flag and words that say southern pride. jim, they are out looking for him, the fbi is also involved in this investigation. >> all right, yes, he should be easy to spot. thank you very much. guys blend right in. the world needs you back. i'm retired greg, you know t this. people are taking financial advice from memes. [b[baby spits out milk] i'll get my onesies®. ♪ “baby one more time” by britney spears ♪ e*trade now from morgan stanley. [ kimberly ] before clearchoice, my dental health was so bad i would be in a lot of pain. i was unable to eat. it was very hard. kimberly came to clearchoice with a bunch of missing teeth, struggling with pain, with dental disease.
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that connects. >> this isn't a tour or anything like that. i'm here to meet with someone super special. chef francis is a chef here at the palace kitchen. >> a regular restaurant. this is the first house and we are like a display for the world. >> it's a pleasure . >> today he's preparing an old school french dish that we both love. >> it means 1,000 leaves. >> exactly.
>> and joining me now the host of "nomad" a nomad as we speak. there he is in napa, california. carlton, you learned how to cook, from what we understand, from your grandmother, and you're the second african american to earn the prestigious title of master somolier. a very impressive background. tell us about it. >> thank you. >> yeah, i was -- my grandmother instilled the significance and the importance of food culture and the ability to tell stories through food. and when i was in high school i didn't realize until much later that it was such a marketable skill, that most people couldn't cook. so going to culinary school was a blessing but what it showed me there were other stories around the world i didn't know and i was learning their dishes and inneeded to go find out how these people lived. i started to travel the world and a whole new perspective
opened up to me. >> and in the first episode, carlton, you visit the paris suburbs where this evolution of french identity is under way and the idea of french culture redefined. what did you find there? >> what i found was that in no way does it discount our cliche idea of the identity of someone who was parisian but adds to an exciting identity. as i started to go to paris through wine and food and exploring outer areas there are incredible multi-immigration families living and thriving in paris and left out of the narrative. we wanted to explore their side of paris and try to see the city through their purview. through their eyes. it was an incredible experience for me. i hope the viewers enjoyed it as much as i did. >> it's absolutely making me hungry right now just watching
this and give us a taste of what else viewers will be experiencing this season. you go everywhere from soueoul towns along the mississippi river. >> i went to seoul, to ghana. we went all over. it was a really exciting time for myself and the crews to travel. we had been cooped up due to covid. it was sort of our first venture back out into the road and what you realize it was a great reminder the world is an incredible place and there are so many great stories for all of us to discover. and through that we also can look at our own environment and say, okay, what am i not paying attention to here. the world changes very quickly and i think that forces us to sort of question the idea of national identity and what it means to be american or french or korean. >> well, carlton mccoy, it looks wonderful. i can't wait to watch the show and welcome to the cnn family. thanks for being with us. we appreciate it. >> thank you, thank you. >> good to see you, sir.
good luck with those travels. be sure to tune in to the all new cnn series "nomad" premiering tonight at 10:00 right here on cnn. it's made me very hungry. i think you as well. that's the news reporting from washington, i'm jim acosta. pamela brown takes over the "newsroom" live after a quick break.
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