Return to Transcripts main page
Politico: Trump Leaves Open Possibility of Investigating Biden; Trump Lawyer Giuliani Makes U-Turn on Ukraine Trip; Source: Don McGahn Declined White House Calls to Say Trump Didn't Obstruct Justice; Weather Hampers Cleanup After Barges & Oil Tanker Collide Near Houston; Governor Declares State of Emergency in Flood-Ravaged Louisiana; Trump Tells Iran "Call Me" Playing Good Cop to Bolton's Enforcer; Heartbeat Bill Fallout as 3 Hollywood Production Companies Pledge Not to Film in Georgia; Trump's Inner Circle Frustrated by Son's Subpoena from GOP-Led Committee; Source Tells "People" Magazine Loughlin "Feeling More Confident" about Possibility of Avoiding Jail. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired May 11, 2019 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:04] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, again. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
We begin this hour with stunning comments from President Trump about the Democratic front runner in the 2020 race. In a new "Politico" interview, the president says it would be, quote, "Appropriate to talk to the attorney general about investigating Joe Biden and his family."
This, coming as the president's personal attorney reverses course on a plan to go to Ukraine to push for an investigation of Vice President Biden. Rudy Giuliani says he's not going to go, insinuating the trip was a setup by enemies of the U.S. president and, perhaps, the United States.
The president also facing new pressure to release taxes as Democrats issue subpoenas to the IRS and Treasury Department demanding the last six years of his personal tax returns.
CNN's Jeremy Diamond is at the White House.
Jeremy, the president has a lot on his mind this weekend. He's been retweeting an awful lot. Let's talk about the president's comments about investigating Biden.
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. The president, in an interview yesterday with "Politico," essentially leaving the door open to directing his attorney general, Bill Barr, to investigate some questions of conflicts of interest involving the former vice president, who Donald Trump, in that same interview, referred to as essentially the likely nominee, the likely Democratic nominee, who he expects to face in the 2020 general election.
Now, these questions of conflicts of interest are things that the president and his allies have been pushing for several weeks now and it relates to the vice president's role in pushing for the ouster of the Ukrainian prosecutor at the same time Hunter Biden was on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company that was being investigated by that prosecutor. Now, it's important to note that Biden was one of several foreign leaders calling for this prosecutor to step down. There's no evidence, at this point, of wrongdoing.
But at the same time, it is important to look at how remarkable it is to see the president of the United States talking about the possibility of directing the U.S. attorney general to investigate, essentially, one of his political rivals.
WHITFIELD: Then, Jeremy, what we know about the trip to Ukraine, no longer a trip by Rudy Giuliani, who says he had second thoughts.
DIAMOND: That's right. Rudy Giuliani was planning to go to Ukraine, essentially, to push for the Ukrainians to investigate these questions of conflicts of interest. Here's why he says he is not going anymore.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, PERSONAL ATTORNEY TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: I've decided, Shannon, I'm not going to the Ukraine.
SHANNON BREAM, FOX NEWS HOST: You are not going to go?
GIULIANI: I'm walking into people that are enemies of the president, in some cases, enemies of the United States and, in one case, a convicted person found, who has been found to be involved in assisting the Democrats with the 2016 election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DIAMOND: It's not clear who Giuliani was talking about. But he told CNN something similar this morning, saying, "The meeting would accomplish little and may be in the hands of those that might misrepresent it."
But also driving this is the question is optics, something Democrats have been pointing to. Imagine this, the president's personal attorney going to a foreign country to urge that country to investigate one of the president's rivals and a former vice president of the United States.
WHITFIELD: All right. Jeremy Diamond, thanks so much from the White House. Appreciate it.
Let's talk more about the president's controversial comments about this idea of investigating Joe Biden.
Daniel Lippman is a reporter for "Politico" and one of the reporters that interviews the president for that article.
Good to see you, Daniel.
DANIEL LIPPMAN, REPORTER, POLITICO: Thanks, Fred. WHITFIELD: Let's begin with this quote from the president. In your
"Politico" article, when you asked him if he would consider asking William Barr to investigate the Biden's, the president responding, saying, quote, "Certainly it would be an appropriate thing." He goes on to say, "I have not spoken to him about it. It could be a very big situation."
LIPPMAN: Yes. So, those comments indicate that he doesn't really understand that the role of an American president is not to ask the independent Justice Department to investigate your political opponents. Remember, they have shouted "lock her up" at Trump rallies for years. The Justice Department hasn't actually done anything on that. It indicates that the president needs a reminder that this is something that is really bad for our democracy if you have him trying to basically bloody Joe Biden and say that his son is a crook and that, you know, basically lock the Biden's up.
WHITFIELD: Is it an indicator that the president feels emboldened and reassurance that the attorney general works as his personal attorney?
[13:05:94] LIPPMAN: Bill Barr got a lot of criticism after the Mueller investigation with trying to spin the report. Then he was held in contempt by a House Democratic committee. So, I think the president feels very confident these days. And in the 15-minute interview, he seemed happy. There aren't that many people in the White House who are going to go to him and say, this is not appropriate, you should be more restrained on this. The adults in the room, the John Kellys of the White House, have all left. It's down to the loyalists.
WHITFIELD: In the article, the president thinks Biden will steam roll over his Democratic competition. Is this an indicator the president is pretty concerned about Biden?
LIPPMAN: Hard to say exactly. But Republicans around the president and people who worked on the 2016 campaign, they view Biden as the threat because he can speak to some of those working-class voters in Ohio and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and, really, would pose a challenge to the president. And he would tell those voters, I can actually bring change. The president has cut taxes for the rich. I can actually represent your interest in Washington. He doesn't have some of the baggage of not being relatable like Hillary Clinton.
WHITFIELD: Daniel Lippman, good to see you. Thank you so much.
LIPPMAN: Thank you, Fred.
WHITFIELD: An administration official tells CNN former White House counsel, Don McGahn, refused a White House request to state the president didn't obstruct justice. It appears the request was one of the many attempts by the White House to paint the Mueller report as a total vindication of the president. The House Judiciary Committee has subpoenaed McGahn for documents and testimony related to the Russia investigation. The White House instructed McGahn not to provide documents. It's unclear whether McGahn will testify.
Joining me, CNN legal analyst and former prosecutor, Laura Coates, and Melissa Murray, a professor at the NYU School of Law.
Good to see all of you.
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Thanks for having us on.
MELISSA MURRAY, PROFESSOR, NYU SCHOOL OF LAW: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: Laura, to you first.
Already, there were 10 examples of attempted obstruction in the Mueller report. Now you have the president or at least the White House saying we are not going to allow the White House, former White House counsel to involve himself in, you know, another testimony. Isn't this yet another form of attempted obstruction?
COATES: It certainly seems like it is. Think about the idea, this is the accumulation of instances to put your thumb on the scale and influence an investigation. You have the cumulative aspect of it and the request that sounds like what happened when former FBI Director James Comey was asked by the president to say publicly, I'm not under investigation, please, crack the narrative to make sure everyone knows I'm exonerated. And going beyond that to say, I would like you, the White House counsel, whose job it is not to be my personal attorney to be the office of presidency and the longevity of credibility to have it refused and continue is part and parcel of the ongoing theme of the president of the United States acting as if there's no law.
WHITFIELD: If executive privilege was already removed so that Don McGahn could be questioned by the Mueller team, how could the White House exert executive privilege now?
COATES: It's a losing idea to put the toothpaste in the tube. It's based on the fact the report is already out there, largely based on the 30-plus hours of testimony. It's hard to do so. However, the argument has been, listen, the DOJ is the umbrella. Under that, of course, Special Counsel Robert Mueller. We are going to be, you know, kind to our own member of our executive branch. Congress, we have a very device relationship with, who we think has legislative purposes to help us out and interview us, we're not going to do that for you. It's really a separation-of-powers argument, but not a winning argument for the president.
WHITFIELD: Melissa, executive privilege, define the extension of this, particularly if you are talking about, in the Mueller probe, also being reviewed was behavior before the president was even president, and the people involved before elections. So can you exert executive privilege when talking about things prior to holding office?
MURRAY: First, it's important to remember executive privilege comes with the office of the president. It's not explicit in the Constitution. It's been interpreted to exist as an implied power, but it's not an absolute power. It's highly unorthodox for a president, any president, to issue a request for a blanket executive privilege over this much material. So a qualified executive privilege over White House communication sets standards, especially in situations involving national security or confidential, delicate White House communications. Things that happen in the campaign and the individuals not necessarily White House officials, it seems beyond the pale. It's not likely to be a prevailing argument before the court.
[13:10:10] WHITFIELD: When we talk about Don Jr., the House committees want him to testify and the president wants to protect his son and wants to exert executive privilege. He does not hold a White House or a federal government job. Can the president do that, Melissa?
MURRAY: It's going to be hard to make the argument that executive privilege applies to any communications Don Jr took during the campaign or during the time while his father was serving as president. Again, he is not a White House official. I think this is a losing argument. But, really, what's going on here, it's a stalling tactic designed to slow down and drag down the investigations and let a court, possible a more amenable and hospitable Supreme Court, eventually decide this.
WHITFIELD: Laura, now you have the president telling "Politico" that he thinks it is OK for the attorney general to investigate a political opponent, you know, the front-runner of the Democratic side, Joe Biden. How can he do that?
COATES: This idea of a preemptive strike against one's political rivals is novel in an American democracy. It's one thing in other countries to have people known as a political rival, but when you are actually the DNC nominee, which Biden is not at this time to do so. It's very odd. This president is well aware of the cloud that the investigation involving the collusion probe had over his own presidency and had over his transition period after Obama made it known and expelled certain Russian agents from the country. We are aware of him trying to use the same political ploy he called a witch hunt against his perceived political rival at this time. It's not that it is a prudent response, but it's one that makes him political savvy enough to say, listen, this cloud I'm going to blow right over to your administration and wonder, which was worse, the prospect that Biden may have ties to the Ukraine, like Manafort, or me, who has already been exonerated according to my own account?
WHITFIELD: But aren't there rules or laws against that? Again, we are talking about even though Rudy Giuliani, the personal attorney, said, no, I'm not going to Ukraine, this is the latest example of inviting another country to potentially meddle in U.S. elections. Maybe a backdoor approach of Biden and his son's involvement in Ukraine.
COATES: That's the oddity of it and why I think Rudy had a U-Turn with it. The entire idea of having foreign influence is one thing when it's an unwitting American who may be involved in it. But when you are actively trying to go overseas to try to involve officials or foreign governments, it's against the law. We do not want people to be able to impede on our Democratic principles. The fact he was trying to do so is odd. Of course, Rudy Giuliani is in a different realm than the federal government. He is the personal attorney of the president of the United States. There may be a way to have him wiggle around what his responsibilities are. Ethically, it is absurd. This is, again, a reason why Congress has to intervene and have legislative principles and laws enacted to say, look, there's a gap between what is happening and what is unlawful and we have to close it.
WHITFIELD: Melissa, there are attempts for the government, for Congress to intervene. You have a lot of subpoenas that are either being ignored or not being honored by those who are subpoenaed and threats of contempt. Is this an issue of running out the clock?
MURRAY: For the president, it's certainly a strategy of running out the clock. Congress does not have a sergeant-at-arms that will go and make them pay up or put them in jail or in the pokey. What's going to happen is this is going to a court. A federal judge is unlikely to be receptive to the brinksmanship that Congress and the president are engaged in. Usually, in cases of testimony and oversight, they like to see negotiations between both of the co-equal branches so they can to get to a compromise about what they actually need. And, obviously, in this case, compromise is not happening. This is going to go to a federal court. When it gets to a federal court, and it will probably take a while, it's probably not going to be great for either side.
WHITFIELD: Melissa Murray, Laura Coates, good to see you both. Thank you so much.
COATES: Thank you.
[13:14:07] WHITFIELD: And Happy Mother's Day.
Still ahead, 755-foot oil tanker collides with a barge that could lead to 25,000 barrels of gasoline spilling into the Houston ship channel. The latest on the cleanup, next.
WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Right now, crews are trying to contain a chemical leak following a collision in waters near Houston. A tugboat pushing two barges collided with an oil tanker on Friday almost ripping one of those barges in half. Officials say some 9,000 barrels of a gasoline blending product spilled into the channel. The crash occurred inside a Houston ship channel near Bayport. Now, flooding from rains earlier in the week is complicating the cleanup.
Here is CNN's Ed Lavandera with more.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It has been a week of intense rainfall here in the Houston, Texas, area as another third round of rain is expected to continue falling here this afternoon. So, many people here in southeast Texas waiting to see if any more serious floodwaters will rise out of the bayous and tributary systems that run their way out of Texas into the Gulf of Mexico.
The good news is for most of the last 24 hours, little to no rainfall. That's given previous floodwaters a chance to recede and give residents a break. That should be enough to get most areas through the worst of this flooding. But the renewed rainfall and severe weather is going to be hampering
efforts in another problem in the Houston ship channel on Friday afternoon. A vessel collided with two barges carrying 50,000 barrels of gasoline blend stock. One of those barges leaked about 9,000 barrels of gasoline blend stock into the Houston ship channel. Emergency crews are trying to contain that spill. Officials say one of the other barges was carrying a 25,000-barrel container is capsized but has not ruptured. They are trying to contain that and make sure none of that oil or gasoline spills into the ship channel as well. There's around the clock air monitoring going on. Officials here in Texas say none of the levels have come back harmful for residents in the area. But they are urging residents to stay away from the coastline and they will probably smell the effects of this spill for those residents who live close to the coastline in the area.
So far, no injuries and no reports that this spill is causing any kind of health impacts for the residents in that part of the Houston ship channel.
Ed Lavendra, CNN, Houston, Texas.
[13:20:20] WHITFIELD: An emergency declaration in Louisiana as the flood-ravaged state gears up for more heavy rain. Some parts of the state are under water. Meantime, millions of other people in the southeast are facing a severe storm threat.
Meteorologist Allison Chinchar is joining me from the CNN Weather Center -- Allison?
ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Fredricka, it's been a lot of rain. When you look at the numbers, they are impressive given the short period of time they came down. Take Richmond, Texas, over a foot of rain has already fallen. Here is the thing. That's not the only place across the U.S. with significant rainfall. That's why we are continuing with the flash flood watches for at least the next several hours. It's multiple states. It's Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi. In fact, portions of Interstate 59 are shut down because they are under water in portions of Mississippi. We add insult to injury. In addition to flooding, you have the threat for severe weather. We're talking about 30 million people under the potential for severe storms today. That includes threats of damaging wind, large hail, as well as we could have isolated tornadoes.
Here is a look at the forecast. This is the radar right now. Some of it is starting to push into the Houston suburbs. We have got strong storms across portions of Mississippi, Alabama and areas of Louisiana. Now, that system is going to continue across areas of the southeast over the next several hours. Fred, places further north, like Washington, D.C., and New York, you will not end up getting rain out of this, just not until later this evening and the overnight hours.
WHITFIELD: Allison Chinchar, thank you so much.
CHINCHAR: Thanks. WHITFIELD: Still ahead, a mixed message from the White House on Iran.
As the Pentagon warns commercial ships could be targeted by Iran, President Trump is arguing an olive branch. Details, next.
[13:26:05] WHITFIELD: U.S.-Iran tensions are heating up. The U.S. is sending a warship and more missiles to the Middle East, according to the Pentagon. President Trump also offered an olive branch, of sorts, telling Tehran to call him so the two sides can talk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have one of the most powerful ships in the world that loaded up. We don't want to have to do anything. What I would like to see with Iran, I would like to see them call me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So, the president, indeed, shared a phone number with the Swiss for the Iranians to call him. Iran said it won't negotiate with the White House.
I want to bring in retired Rear Admiral John Kirby, the former Pentagon press secretary and former spokesperson for the State Department.
Good to see you.
REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY & DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Thanks.
WHITFIELD: National security adviser, John Bolton, has come across as rather hawkish on Iran. The president seems to be softening his tone with the appeal for them to call. What is going on here?
KIRBY: On the face of it, Fred, it looks like there's a little dissonance here in the national security team in terms of how to approach the actual execution of this maximum-pressure campaign they have been talking about and touting so many months. Clearly, Mr. Trump is trying to capitalize on the tension created over the movement of these additional assets and Iranian threats and trying to spur the Iranians to the table in some sort of dialogue. The problem with that is -- and I'm not saying it's not a good thing to foster dialogue with Iran. I think that is the right approach. The problem is, right now, neither side, both sides have taken absolutist, extreme views in the tensions between the relations, there's no incentive to sit down and have a meaningful discussion about anything right now.
WHITFIELD: The tensions went up after the U.S. or the president pulled out of the deal. This new missile, you know, and armor movement kind of adds fuel to the fire, right?
KIRBY: Yes. I'm glad you phrased it exactly that way, Fred. You are right. Obviously, the tensions between the countries has been high for some time. Iran is a malign actor. I'm no apologist for what Iran has been doing in the region. That said, the specific threats to our forces on the ground, which precipitated the movement of these additional military assets into the region, was itself -- those threats precipitated by the Trump administration's designation of the Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group, something that two previous administrations refused to do for that very reason, and, of course, the unilateral sanction that is the United States is placing on Iran and any nation that does any kind of oil importing from Iran, including some of our European allies.
WHITFIELD: So, this Navy strike group being sent to the region --
WHITFIELD: -- what will be its sole purpose?
KIRBY: Clearly, it seems to me the purpose right now is deterrence. To send such a strong signal of resolve and military capability that the Iranians wouldn't be foolish enough to launch attacks against our troops or our allies and partners in the region. It's not just the carrier going. There's a bomber task force that's on the ground there, B-52s. You have an amphibious assault ship now going and a Patriot battery now going as well for air defense capability. The Trump administration has done a very good job expressing clearly that we don't want conflict and any precipitating conflict by Iran would be met with overwhelming force.
What I don't see, Fred, is sort of how we diplomatically de-escalate the tension here. The president saying in a press conference, call me. It's a very good comment. It doesn't explain what they are trying to do diplomatically to try to drive a better outcome in Iran. They keep talking regime change, but if we learned anything about our past experiences with regime change, you have to, A, know what you are changing to. I don't think there's a clear understanding of the government would come after the Rouhani government, even if there was regime change. And, two, how can you influence that in any way?
[13:30:00] Right now, the United States has no influence in domestic issues inside Iran because we don't have a relationship and we are not doing anything to try to foster that.
WHITFIELD: Because Iran is going to look at this as, well, where's the incentive. What's in it for us?
KIRBY: Exactly right. That's exactly what they're asking. And it's what a lot of young people in Iran are asking, people who recently wanted an open relationship with the West, wanted to be a more transparent, more Democratic place to live and to prosper. They are now becoming more frustrated, not only with their government, but the United States. In some ways, Fred, I think Trump is doing the job of the mullahs, the hardline, right religious groups in Iran, the clerics, because they hate the Iran deal, too. They are also none too happy about the Rouhani government, which as bad as it is, it is more moderate that what could come after them. So to some degree, we need to be careful we're not doing the job of the hard-right religious inside Iran.
WHITFIELD: Admiral John Kirby, good to see you.
WHITFIELD: Thank you so much.
KIRBY: You bet.
WHITFIELD: Still ahead, the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee now facing pressure from President Trump and his party after lawmakers subpoena Don Trump Jr. Why the Republican chairman is holding fast and siding with Democrats.
WHITFIELD: North Carolina Republican Richard Burr has been increasingly at odds with President Trump, as the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, he approved a subpoena to Donald Trump Jr, and that ruffled feathers among several Republicans and, of course, the president.
Here is Manu Raju.
[13:35:14] MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): President Trump has, at times, lavished praise on Senator Richard Burr.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Richard just announced that they found no collusion between Donald Trump and Russia.
RAJU: But Burr has confounded Trump and his allies as well. The latest coming when Burr signed off on a subpoena for Donald Trump Jr., amid questions about whether the president's eldest son was truthful in previous congressional testimony about a 2016 meeting with Russians and the pursuit of a Trump Tower Moscow Project.
TRUMP: Yes, I'm pretty surprised.
RAJU: It all speaks to the unusual spot the North Carolina Republican is in as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is still investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I like Richard Burr. I just don't know. To me, Mueller is the last word for me. So I'm over. I'm done.
RAJU: The subpoena enraged Trump supporters and prompted warnings from Burr's usual allies on Capitol Hill.
REP. MARK MEADOWS (R-NC): The outcry for most of the people in North Carolina has been one of surprise and certainly not supportive.
RAJU (on camera): What do you think of the backlash toward Burr in the aftermath of this news? REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): It's not surprising. Anyone who shows any
measure of independence for the president gets attacked mercilessly by the president's allies.
RAJU (voice-over): It's not the first time Burr has broken with the party. When then-House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes was attacking the FBI, Burr consistently kept his distance.
REP. RICHARD BURR (R-NC): The unmasking thing was all created by Devin Nunes.
RAJU: Burr tried to maintain the image of bipartisanship while running the investigation alongside Democrat Mark Warner. Yet, that has recently been tested, especially when Burr asserted this in February.
BURR: We have no factual evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
RAJU: Warner responded saying, "Respectfully, I disagree."
Moreover, the Mueller report said that the White House Counsel's Office appeared to have received information but the status about the FBI investigation from Burr. In March 2017, after then-FBI director, James Comey, believed congressional leaders. Democrats raised concerns about that revelation. Yet, Burr told CNN he did not brief the White House about the FBI's probe into the Trump campaign.
Burr has said he won't run for re-election when his term is up in 2022, giving him more freedom over the GOP attacks over his subpoena to Trump Jr., which Burr does not want to talk about.
RAJU (on camera): Will you hold anyone in contempt --
RAJU: No? Because they seem to think your subpoena is voluntary? Is the subpoena voluntary?
Richard Burr at the moment showing no signs that he is going down behind closed doors. He tried to explain to his colleagues why he is pursuing this approach, saying there's a reason, that if the witness does not listen, then a chairman needs to issue a subpoena to get this information to be turned over to Capitol Hill.
Some Republicans showing some deference, including Roy Blunt, a member of the Republican leadership. But most Republicans siding with Donald Trump Jr as Donald Trump Jr urges Republicans to fight back.
We'll see if Richard Burr decides to hold Donald Trump Jr in contempt if he defies the subpoena.
Manu Raju, CNN, Capitol Hill.
(END VIDEOTAPE) WHITFIELD: And still ahead, Atlanta is known as the Hollywood of the south. But Georgia's new abortion law is prompting liberal stars to call for a boycott of the entire state. Will it actually happen?
[13:42:51] WHITFIELD: The battle over abortion laws is heating up. Georgia has a strict new law that has upset some Hollywood filmmakers. And now Alabama's state Senate will vote on the nation's most restrictive abortion law.
CNNN's Natasha Chen is here with all the details.
NATASHA CNN, CNN: Hi. It got so chaotic, Fred, in the Alabama Senate that they decided to table the vote until Tuesday. But still, other states passed similar laws, all with the intent of testing Roe v. Wade.
UNIDENTIFIED ALABAMA SENATOR: All those in favor say aye.
UNIDENTIFIED ALABAMA SENATOR: No, no --
UNIDENTIFIED ALABAMA SENATOR: Those opposed?
UNIDENTIFIED ALABAMA SENATOR: Hold! Hold!
UNIDENTIFIED ALABAMA SENATOR: The motion passes.
UNIDENTIFIED ALABAMA SENATOR: The amendment is enabled.
UNIDENTIFIED ALABAMA SENATOR: There was no motion. There was no motion.
CHEN (voice-over): This shouting match happened Thursday as Alabama Senators considered a bill to ban abortions at every stage of pregnancy, from conception on, and criminalize the procedure for doctors.
CHEN: The battle over abortion rights has been raging since the landmark case of Roe v. Wade in 1973, which legalized the procedure nationwide.
But now certain states are drafting restrictive bills in preparation for a lawsuit in the nation's highest court. ERIC JOHNSTON, PRESIDENT, ALABAMA PRO-LIFE COALITION: This is the
first time in 46 years that the makeup on the Supreme Court has changed where there's possibly enough conservatives on there who would believe Roe v. Wade is incorrectly decided.
CHEN: Outside of Alabama, a so-called heartbeat bill has been passed in several states, some already blocked in courts. Those laws inhibit abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, about six weeks into a pregnancy, before many women know they're pregnant. And that's causing a problem for Georgia's nearly $10 billion film and TV industry.
ALYSSA MILANO, ACTRESS: Our industry is taking a stand. Women are taking a stand. And we are saying no more.
CHEN: David Simon, who created "The Wire," said his production company won't film in Georgia anymore. He is joined by CounterNarrative Films and Killer Films.
CNN reached out to Marvel, which films "Avenger" movies in Georgia, and AMC studios, which films "The Walking Dead" in the Peach State. Neither have responded yet.
CHEN: J.J. Abrams and Jordan Peele have released a statement they are going to shooting a new production called "Love Craft Country" in Georgia. They say this law is unconstitutional. Let's show you part of their quote. It says they will "donate 100 percent of our respective episodic fees for the season to two organizations leading the charge against this draconian law: the ACLU of Georgia and Fair Fight Georgia."
[13:45:13] WHITFIELD: Natasha Chen, thank you so much. Good to see you.
Still ahead, a sign of confidence from Actress Lori Loughlin caught up in the college admissions scandal. Why she is reportedly confident that she will not receive any jail time, despite mounting evidence against her.
WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Actress Felicity Hoffman is expected to plead guilty next week for her role in a sweeping college admissions scandal. The "Desperate Housewives" star will be in court Monday after agreeing to a plea deal last month. Authorities said she paid $15,000 to a fake charity to facilitate cheating on her daughter's SAT exam.
Meantime, a source close to Lori Loughlin told "People" magazine that she is feeling more and more confident about the prospect of escaping jail time. Loughlin and her husband are accused of paying $500,000 to help get their daughters into the University of Southern California. Sources familiar with the investigation tell the "L.A. Times," that Loughlin's daughters still have not been targeted by federal prosecutors.
Let's bring in Avery Friedman, a civil rights attorney and law professor, and Richard Herman, a criminal defense attorney and law professor.
Good to see you both.
[13:50:08] AVERY FRIEDMAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Hi, Fredricka.
RICHARD HERMAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Hi, Fred.
WHITFIELD: Avery, you first.
So Loughlin reportedly feels like she has a valid defense. That, you know, it is not likely she'll be looking at any jail time. What could her defense look like?
FRIEDMAN: Well, you know what? It's going to be anybody's guess, but I think, if I'm trying to tailor something, I'm going to say something like, hey, look, any other parent under the circumstance would do the same thing. The problem with that argument is that the federal judge instructs a jury. Unless, somehow, she engenders some kind of sympathy, Fredricka, she's counting on one lone juror. This is the kind of case, like O.J. or Michael Jackson, where you're going to have stealth jurors. So it is a very weak argument. I think they blew it not entering a plea early on. There has been a supplemental indictment. At the end of the day, the theory, if that's it, and if Rick Singer is going to be supportive, which I very much doubt.
WHITFIELD: Right. He was the one in charge of this scheme.
FRIEDMAN: Right. They have trouble.
WHITFIELD: OK. Richard, according to the "L.A. Times," federal prosecutors reportedly have not targeted Loughlin's daughters in the scandal, but some other kids involved in the scandal have received target letters. What's with the disparity?
HERMAN: I think what's going to happen, Fred, is you see it is laid out before you, how to act when you're indicted and facing prison time, and how not to act. Felicity Huffman has done everything the government wants her to do.
FRIEDMAN: That's right.
HERMAN: She's contrite, apologetic, she's taken full responsibility and she entered a quick deal. Look at Lori Loughlin. This woman is delusional, Fred. Something is wrong with her. This is not Lalaland. This is not Los Angeles, where O.J. Simpson and Robert Blake get acquitted.
HERMAN: This is Boston, OK? This is federal court, Boston. This is a very tough, strict sentencing judge she's facing. For her to walk around saying she feels very confident that she's going to be acquitted in a federal criminal trial in Boston is absolute marbles, Fred. She's lost it. When the government stands up in the opening and says, we are so honored to be representing the United States of America against Lori Loughlin, reality might begin to set in.
FRIEDMAN: Well --
WHITFIELD: Because they've handled it --
HERMAN: This woman has blown --
WHITFIELD: Because they've handled it differently than, Richard, one being very contrite, the other going into it very confidently, does it mean the potential penalties will be very different? Perhaps the confidence might lead to a stiffer penalty, versus the contrite and more lenient? Does it work like that?
HERMAN: The federal sentencing -- the federal sentencing guidelines control the sentencing here. She's looking at a maximum of 40 years in prison if convicted on both counts.
HERMAN: She won't get 40. She's a first-time offender.
FRIEDMAN: There's another issue.
HERMAN: First time criminal history. But, Fred, she could get 10 years in prison for all this. If she goes to trial and gets convict convicted, she is going to be incarcerated, Fred. I'd be shocked if Felicity Huffman gets one day in prison.
FRIEDMAN: Here's another issue. Here's another issue.
HERMAN: If Lori Loughlin gets convicted, she's going to prison.
FRIEDMAN: I think the federal prosecutors are holding over Loughlin's head the idea of targeting the daughters. That is extremely serious. The idea of touting the sense that I'm feeling more confident, that I'm going to beat this thing. If you think about it, given the fact the prosecutors are probably, probably saying, look, your daughters, they're young adults, They knew what was going on, you know that you said you were affiliated with the Los Angeles Marina Club, which didn't even exist, and kind of fabricated photographs. I mean, goodness gracious, the whole family is in the middle of all this. And so when you think about --
HERMAN: Fred, I see --
WHITFIELD: You're saying they would have to prove --
WHITFIELD: -- that the daughter -- they would have to prove that the daughters, you know, helped facilitate or were party to crafting the pictures.
HERMAN: I agree.
WHITFIELD: The parents actually paid it.
FRIEDMAN: But you don't actually know what Rick Singer is going to say, in trying to get out of the mess that he is in. Is he going to be supporting the government?
FRIEDMAN: I've got a hunch he is.
HERMAN: Fredricka, the girls were admitted to USC as members of the crew team. Crew!
FRIEDMAN: That's right.
HERMAN: They took pictures as the crew team with the paddles. They didn't even swim.
FRIEDMAN: I don't know.
HERMAN: But they took pictures. Come on, the girls knew. They had to have known. That's what's going to happen. The government is going to tell Lori, who is feeling so good, listen, we'll invite your daughters if you don't take a deal. And then --
FRIEDMAN: They've already told them that. HERMAN: Let's see what every mother would do in those shoes. Will
she make a deal or not? I don't think she has a strong case. That's $500,000 per child paid --
HERMAN: -- to get into USC. Let's see what this defense is, Fred. It's not going to happen. She's in big trouble, Lori.
[13:55:09] WHITFIELD: Ouch. That's something else.
OK, there's a lot straight ahead.
WHITFIELD: Avery, Richard --
FRIEDMAN: You bet.
WHITFIELD: -- always good to see you.
HERMAN: Happy Mother's Day, Fred.
WHITFIELD: Thank you so much.
FRIEDMAN: Happy Mother's Day. That's right. Happy Mother's Day.
WHITFIELD: Thank you so much. Appreciate it.
FRIEDMAN: Take care.
WHITFIELD: Still ahead, President Trump, in a new interview, says it would be appropriate for him to have the U.S. attorney general investigate the Biden family. Is the president opening himself up to more legal scrutiny?
WHITFIELD: The world's richest man is getting behind the Trump administration's plan to return to the moon by 2024.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF BEZOS, FOUNDER, AMAZONE: Vice President Pence just recently said it's the stated policy of this administration and the United States of America to return American astronauts to the moon within the next five years. I love this. It's the right thing to do.
And we can help meet that timeline, but only because we started three years ago. It's time to go back to the moon, this time, to stay.
(END VIDEO CLIP) [13:59:51] WHITFIELD: Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos was showing off his new moon lander there. He says the Blue Moon craft will ferry Americans back and forth from space to begin colonizing the solar system.