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Republican Congressman Calls for Impeachment; Iran Dismisses Possibility of War in the Region; Austria Facing Snap Vote after Vice Chancellor Resigns; India's Six-Week Election Wrapping; Biden Delivers Anti-Trump Message at First Rally; Democrat Steve Bullock Joins Crowded Candidate Field; States Moving Ahead to Restrict Access to Abortion; Netherlands Wins Eurovision; "Game of Thrones" Finale Airs. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired May 19, 2019 - 05:00   ET




NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A call for impeachment from a member of his own party. A Republican lawmaker is slamming President Trump and throwing his support behind impeachment proceedings.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): And the prime minister of India facing his biggest challenge yet as voters there decide whether to keep Mr. Modi's party in power for another five years.

ALLEN (voice-over): Plus, a weekend of demonstrations over new laws that severely restrict abortions in several U.S. states. We'll see how the laws compare to countries around this world this hour.

HOWELL (voice-over): Welcome to viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm George Howell.

ALLEN (voice-over): And I'm Natalie Allen. NEWSROOM starts right now.


ALLEN: Thanks again for joining us, 5:01 am here in Atlanta. Our top story, Republicans have been quick to defend U.S. president Trump from the chorus of criticism which has dogged him since he came into office. But now there's a Republican voice in that chorus.

HOWELL: That voice is Congressman Justin Amash, he is calling for Mr. Trump to lose his job, saying the president in fact has obstructed justice.

ALLEN: Writing this, Amash writes this, "Attorney general William Barr deliberately misrepresented Mueller's report. The president engaged in impeachable conduct. Partisanship has eroded the system of checks and balances and few members of Congress have read the report."

HOWELL: That's just the beginning. From there he goes on to add, "Attorney general Barr's misrepresentations are significant but often subtle, frequently taking the form of sleight of hand qualifications or logical fallacies which he hopes people won't notice."

He also writes, "In fact, Mueller's report identifies multiple examples of conduct satisfying all the elements of obstruction of justice and undoubtedly any person who is not the President of the United States would be indicted based on such evidence."

ALLEN: Let's take a look at the implications of the congressman's statement with Natasha Lindstaedt, professor of government at University of Essex.

Thanks for joining us. Good to see you.


ALLEN: First, this congressman has been critical of the president in the past, saying he doesn't represent the president or a party but his constituents but now calling for impeachment and for a specific reason -- obstruction.

What do you think about this and what he's saying?

LINDSTAEDT: It's definitely interesting. This is the first Republican to actually come forward and say that impeachment proceedings should be initiated.

But as you already mentioned, in some ways, it's not surprising that Representative Amash had came forward. He was very critical of Trump when Trump was trying to win the candidacy in 2016. He has, on Twitter, has been critical of Trump since. He also said in 2017, if Trump did indeed tell Comey to go easy on Michael Flynn in that investigation, that would be an impeachable offense.

So he's had a history of attacking the president publicly.

The question is, will other Republican colleagues follow suit?

ALLEN: That's my next question, will they?

LINDSTAEDT: I think privately some Republicans have had it with Trump and believe that the rule of law is being strained under this president, that if they did look at the Mueller report, it was very clear they're at least around 10 incidents of obstruction of justice, let alone the fact that Trump was considered to be an unindicted co- conspirator in the Michael Cohen case.

So there are plenty of reasons to want to impeach Trump and, according to what Amash was saying, the bar has really shifted and any other president would have been impeached by now. But what's taking place among the Republican Party and among Trump supporters, it's as if it's a personality cult.

People are completely transfixed by this president. They have blinders on. They don't want to look at alternative pieces of information. Amash was saying that many of his colleagues haven't read the report. They're completely rejecting it and don't want to follow suit. It will really depend on whether or not some of these others will --


LINDSTAEDT: -- follow suit. But it's going to be really important that there's some key senators in the Republican Party that say enough is enough.

ALLEN: One of the lines in his statement, "partisanship has eroded the system of checks and balances."

We did see a Republican congressman issue a subpoena for Donald Trump Jr. as part of the ongoing investigation regarding Russian interference by the Senate Intelligence Committee. But Senator Richard Burr isn't running for re-election. That makes a big difference. We've seen what some might see as disloyalty by other Republicans who don't feel the need to align with the president because they're not running for reelection.

LINDSTAEDT: Yes, and a lot that has to do with what their re-election chances are and what their constituency wants. If they're not running for reelection, Republicans have been more willing to come out, to take risks and to speak out against Trump. But those particularly, if they're running in red states or red districts, feel they have to stay in line with the Republican Party.

You also have to look at what the general public feels. A recent Quinnipiac University poll indicated that though 37 percent of the public feels that Trump didn't deal with the Mueller investigation in an honest manner and 54 percent believe that he did obstruct justice, only 29 percent of the public thinks that impeachment proceedings should begin.

In fact, 66 percent feel they should not initiate impeachment. And that's what the Republicans and Democrats are dealing with. They haven't overwhelmingly convinced the public that impeachment proceedings should begin. That makes it that much more difficult for Republicans to come forward and actually take a stand against Trump.

ALLEN: Will this at all resonate or have any impact on Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats?

LINDSTAEDT: Well, I think she seems to be moving a little bit more in the direction towards impeachment. But she still keeps saying things to the effect that the public needs to be behind this and this needs bipartisan support and we need to make the case to the American public.

Pursuing more investigations before they jump the gun too soon and then that could lead to a backlash. Actually when a president is enduring an impeachment, they tend to have their popularity levels rise and not go down.

In terms of other Democrats, we already know Elizabeth Warren, a senator, believes impeachment should begin and the progressive caucus in the House that's very, very interested in pursuing impeachment. For the moment, they're just pursuing these investigations. Another very recent poll by NPR taken about a week ago or so, revealed

that 49 percent of the public is in favor of continuing with these investigations while 47 percent oppose it. So a slight majority wants to continue with these investigations and hopefully they can have a big reveal that will generate consensus and then the Democrats can move forward with impeachment and possibly other Republican colleagues will move forward as well.

ALLEN: A tough call for many reasons and for reasons that we're now heading toward the next election. Natasha, always appreciate your insights. Thank you.

LINDSTAEDT: Thank you having me.

HOWELL: Now to Iran, that nation once again down playing the possibility of war in the region even though tensions continue with the U.S.

ALLEN: The Iranian foreign minister told state media that his country is not seeking war and that no one else has -- and this is a quote -- {the illusion that it can fight Iran in the Middle East."

HOWELL: In the meantime, the U.S. has issued a warning to commercial airlines flying over the Persian Gulf, basically saying that air carriers risk being misidentified by Iran even though the country isn't likely to target civil aircraft.

Let's bring in CNN international correspondent Fred Pleitgen.

Fred, the word from the supreme leader there is no war in the region.

But what's the mood among people now they're getting this clear and direct message amid these rising tensions?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think, George, people are a lot more calm than they were at the beginning of last week. I think the tensions escalated to their highest point probably around Wednesday of this past week. You're right, ever since the supreme leader came out and said unequivocally --


PLEITGEN: -- that there's not going to be a war between the U.S. and Iran and the foreign minister last night saying that this is not going to happen.

I think the Iranians believe in this recent standoff it's the U.S. who blinked first, sending aircraft carrier strike group to this wider region, sending B-52 bombers and some additional fighter jets.

Then at the end of the week, President Trump calling for negotiations and saying he wants to Iranians to call him. The Iranians, for their part, say, that's not going happen. They want the U.S. to lift some sanctions against Iran, allow the Iranians to export their oil and allow international companies to invest in Iran as well. Of course, ultimately, they want the U.S. to go back to the nuclear

agreement. That's something that doesn't look like it's in the cards. At the same time, George, the Iranians themselves also seem pretty keen not to further fan the flames.

One thing we heard late Friday, when our own Barbara Starr had some reporting from the Pentagon, that they believe some boats that the U.S. believed to be carrying missiles, have returned to their ports and those missiles were unloaded. It's unclear why that was the case.

Then at Friday prayers here in Tehran, we thought those were going to be pretty fiery, with the aircraft carrier deployment and those B-52s but it was pretty subdued. So it looks like they're trying to deescalate the situation. At the same time, there's not going to be any negotiations.

And second of all, if there's an escalation of a situation, they would be ready, George.

HOWELL: Fred, to that point, both sides really, you're saying Iran poised to defend if necessary. Talk to us about this warning that's coming from the FAA in the United States, about commercial airliners flying through the region.

PLEITGEN: Commercial airliners flying through the region, the FAA said in a notification to airmen, it's less than a warning but it's sort of a message to be on higher alert than usual.

They were talking specifically about the area of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, so the waterway that separates Iran from Saudi Arabia and, of course, the UAE and Oman as well. They say right now, there's more military activity going on there than usual. They're also warning about the fact that the Iranians do have air defense systems.

If there's escalation of the conflict, it could be used by them as well. There's also a lot of military air traffic going at the moment. The FAA says on the one hand, you have the deployment of the B-52s. But some additional American fighter jets were in that region as well.

One of things that FAA warning, I actually read through that warning very carefully, one thing it said is that airmen should be very careful while going through there, use additional caution because planes could be misidentified. That's always a threat when you have a fairly narrow place and a lot of commercial air activity.

Flight tracks, you can see that's one of the main sort of air highways, if you will, for flights going from the U.S., Europe, all the way to the Middle East. There's always a lot of air traffic there, to use some additional caution because there's so much military traffic going on there now.

HOWELL: Fred, we appreciate the reporting, given that tensions seem to be ratcheting down. Fred, thank you.

ALLEN: A political scandal is triggering snap elections in Austria. HOWELL: That's right, that country's vice chancellor has resigned after the release of compromising video. Our colleague, Cyril Vanier, has more now on what it means for Austria and for European elections.


CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Seated beside a woman whose face is obscured, a man in glasses casually discusses investments worth millions and plans to control an Austrian media outlet. It appears to be Austria's vice chancellor, offering government contracts to a woman who claims to be a Russian investor.

Standing is a member of the vice chancellor's far right Freedom Party. The video was allegedly filmed in secret in 2017, three months before that year's elections which brought him to power.

First published Friday in German media, its origin is unclear but the fallout unequivocal. Chanting snap elections now, thousands demanded new leadership in front of the chancellor's office, targeting his governing coalition with Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, who resigned Saturday.

After yesterday's video, "Enough is enough," says chancellor Sebastian Kurz, ending a --


VANIER (voice-over): -- controversial alliance between his conservative party and Strache's far right. The Austrian president agreed, with calls for early elections, describing the video of Strache as "shameful."

ALEXANDER VAN DER BELLEN, AUSTRIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The main task now is to restore the trust in our institutions from both the inside and the outside. This is unprecedented disrespect to our citizens and such disrespect I will not tolerate.

VANIER (voice-over): As he stepped down, the vice chancellor referred to the footage as "a targeted political attack" and denied doing anything illegal. But he apologized for the behavior that was caught on tape.


HEINZ-CHRISTIAN STRACHE, FORMER AUSTRIAN VICE CHANCELLOR: It was typical, alcohol-fueled macho behavior in which, yes, I also wanted to impress the attractive female host and I behaved like a bragging teenager. And with that, I ultimately deeply hurt the most important people in my life, particularly my wife.


VANIER (voice-over): The scandal and subsequent blow to Austria's far right agenda come at a key time in the European Union. Elections for the European Parliament are just days away. And anti-immigrant populist leaders appear to be gaining momentum, forcing more moderate groups to ask themselves a difficult question.

SKA KELLER, EUROPEAN GREEN PARTY CANDIDATE: As European partners (ph), we need to take a decision.

Are we collaborating with those extremist forces?

VANIER (voice-over): It also highlights concerns about Russia's interests in meddling in foreign elections. Speaking from Croatia, German chancellor Angela Merkel said of the scandal, Europe must fight against the quote, "purchasability" of politics -- Cyril Vanier, CNN.


HOWELL: After six weeks and seven rounds of voting, India's general election wraps up today. The question now, will prime minister Modi and his party hold on to power?

We'll have that story for you.

ALLEN: And tens of millions of Americans are in path of a severe weather system. You won't believe the video we have of a tornado in Kansas.




ALLEN: In India, the final phase of the country's massive six-week election is wrapping up right now.

HOWELL: Voters there deciding whether the prime minister will stay in power for another five years. That race is considered the world's biggest ever and has been marred by violence at times. The vote- counting process is set to begin this Thursday.

ALLEN: For more on the election --


ALLEN: -- we're joined by CNN's New Delhi bureau chief Nikhil Kumar.

Many see this election as a referendum on Prime Minister Modi, who won in a landslide in 2014 but he's in a tight race this time with his rival.

What are the issues?

NIKHIL KUMAR, CNN NEW DELHI BUREAU CHIEF: Well, Natalie, one of the major issues is whether or not Mr. Modi has delivered on the promises made when he won that landslide back in 2014. Among the principal issues was the economy, about generating jobs for the many millions of Indians who enter the workforce every year.

The opposition said that the BJB has singularly failed on that count. Too many people are still struggling to find employment. Economy has been a major issue. But another important battleground has been society and the future of minority rights and the future of the nature of this country.

The BJB espouses Hindu nationalism and ideology from the Hindu right wing movement, which makes many liberals and many minorities who live in this country very nervous. Mr. Modi's critics say instead of the economy, the principle theme on their side has been pushing that Hindu nationalist agenda, they point to one of BJB's candidates in Central India, who's facing terror charges in a case connected to attacks on Muslims from several years ago; she denies it. She's out on bail.

But the fact that she was chosen as a candidate makes many people very nervous about what happens if Mr. Modi returns to power. The opposition, including the congress, have been saying, look, we're offering an alternative to this. We want a much more inclusive race.

They're saying that the promise that they say Modi's failed to deliver on, on things like the economy, they have policies to finally generate those jobs and to finally realize the potential of India's economy. We'll have to wait, as you said, until the 23rd to see which way India voters have decided to go.

ALLEN: Help us appreciate the scale and scope of this election in India. It goes on for weeks and there are some 900 million eligible voters.

KUMAR: The scale, Natalie, is immense, as you said, some 900 million voters. About 10 million officials involved in making that the whole exercise was pulled off. The reason it was over so many weeks is making sure the officials and the accompanying security forces could be moved around the country to make sure voters could vote safely.

Roughly a 1 million polling stations around the country. It's really an immense exercise with no parallel around the world simply because of the number of the people who voting.

There's 545 seats in the national parliament, of which 543 are up for grabs in this election. Whichever party or coalition wins the largest number determines who becomes the next prime minister. This time, it's uncertain. We'll see how people vote later this week.

ALLEN: One can understand why it will take a few days to tally it all up. Thanks so much, Nikhil.

HOWELL: Now to Australia, where that nation's prime minister is celebrating a surprise election victory. Prime Minister Scott Morrison looked set to retain his post after his liberal national coalition won the most votes on Saturday.

He may even have the seats to form a majority. It's a close call and don't let the name fool you. The liberal national coalition is center right. Polls had predicted a win for its chief rival, the central left Labor Party. But now Labor leader Bill Shorten said he's stepping down after this stunning loss. HOWELL: Here in the United States, more than 70 million Americans are under the threat of severe weather from the state of Texas to southern Minnesota.

ALLEN: There's an example of what people are having to deal with. That's Jeronimo, Oklahoma; dozens of tornadoes have already been reported as the region braces for rain, strong winds and hail. One of the twisters tearing through this town, destroying homes and bringing down power lines.

HOWELL: These things come through quickly and they hit hard.



ALLEN: The Democratic front-runner Joe Biden steps into the campaign spotlight and comes out swinging. What he had to say in the battleground state of Pennsylvania.

HOWELL: The list of Democrats hoping to take the president's job continues to grow. We'll meet the latest candidate. Stay with us.





HOWELL: A warm welcome back to viewers here in United States and around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM from Atlanta. I'm George Howell.

ALLEN: And I'm Natalie Allen with the headlines.


HOWELL: Joe Biden held his first major campaign rally on Saturday. It happened in Philadelphia. His message targeted the president directly, a strategy he hopes will solidify him as front-runner.

ALLEN: The location was no accident. Pennsylvania is a battleground state that went for Mr. Trump in 2016. With more, here's CNN's Arlette Saenz.


ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Joe Biden held his official kickoff rally here in Philadelphia, preaching a message of unity and also emphasizing the need to defeat President Trump in 2020.

Biden argued that the policies that are important to voters and to Democrats -- civil liberties, a woman's right to choose, a bold climate change plan -- that none of that will happen if President Trump is still in office. Biden really portrayed the president as a divisive figure. Take a listen to what he had to say.


JOE BIDEN, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Folks, let me tell you something. The single most important thing we have to accomplish to get this done, the single most important thing we have to accomplish is defeat Donald Trump.

As long as Donald Trump's in the White House, as long as Donald Trump's in the White House, none of these things, these critical things, are going to get done.


SAENZ: Biden also pushed back on the idea that he might be naive for thinking that Democrats and Republicans can work together to achieve consensus, Biden pointing back to his own time in government saying this is a time for people to stop fighting and start fixing things.

This event was held in Pennsylvania, which is a state that Donald Trump won back in 2016 but it's a state where Biden sees a possible opening going forward in 2020. It's clear that Biden is trying to frame this election as a showdown between himself and the president.

President Trump will be here in the state on Monday, holding a campaign rally of his own but, of course, before Biden gets to a general election match-up, if he gets to a general election match-up between himself and the president he still has to make it through that crowded and diverse Democratic primary field -- Arlette Saenz, CNN, Philadelphia.


ALLEN: Speaking of the Democrats, the 23rd person running for the party's presidential nomination just joined the race.

HOWELL: It's a crowded field, Natalie, fair to say. Montana governor Steve Bullock is now courting voters in that key state of Iowa. As Jeff Zeleny found out, Bullock's aim is to head right down the middle when it comes to the issues.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I know. You're from Montana.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He is the newest game in town.

BULLOCK: You got the front row.

ZELENY: And for Montana Governor Steve Bullock, it's Iowa or bust. BULLOCK: We gather to make sure that Donald Trump is a one-term president.

ZELENY: The field of Democratic presidential hopefuls now large enough to suit up a football team of offense and defense with one player to spare. They've all been making the same plea for months. But Bullock has a unique sales pitch. He is the only 2020 candidate elected statewide from deep red Trump country. He doesn't have to tell Iowa voters he is late to the dance.

BULLOCK: I get -- I'm the 37th candidate in the race.


BULLOCK: Oh, only 23. Thank you. Sometimes it gets confusing.

ZELENY: He is hitting the highway in hopes of breaking through the confusion.

(on camera): How important is Iowa to your campaign?

BULLOCK: Well, I think Iowa is important to everyone's campaign. I mean, Iowa has always played sort of the traditional sorting out role but certainly significant to mine.

ZELENY (voice-over): He knows his candidacy will either break out or be broken by the Iowa caucuses. He is also scrapping to make the cut for the Democratic debate next month where he hopes to position himself in the ideological middle.

(on camera): Has the party shifted too far left or not?

BULLOCK: I think that the party is -- look there are some things brought up that I don't know that could ever get done.

ZELENY (voice-over): He is talking about the Green New Deal and Medicare for all. He believes the path to the White House is by winning over some 2016 Trump voters and by inspiring Democrats.

BULLOCK: Do we turn out or coalition or do we bring the voters back? I think it's a false choice. I think we do absolutely both.

ZELENY (on camera): But can you do both?

BULLOCK: We have historically.

ZELENY (voice-over): (AUDIO GAP) Iowan like Cheryl Sherr who for months has been sizing up the candidates.

CHERYL SHERR, IOWA VOTER: I've scene Delaney. I've seen Amy Klobuchar. I've seen Cory Booker.

I've seen Michael Bennet. And -- hang on, I can tell you who else I have seen.

ZELENY (on camera): So many, you have to look on your list. SHERR: I've seen Beto O'Rourke.

ZELENY (voice-over): But from Nancy's coffee house, to a tour of this Indian settlement, Bullock is hitting the trail in boots and his wranglers, insisting there's plenty of time to make his case.

(on camera): It's not too late?

BULLOCK: It's not at all. Voters in Iowa and everywhere, they don't want to make the fast decision. They want to make the right decision.

ZELENY: But what's the right decision?

That is the question facing Democrats.

Is the middle lane the right lane?

Governor Bullock traveling across Iowa, trying to make the case that Democrats should win over some of those Trump voters from 2016. Others say they should try to expand the liberal coalition. One thing is clear, Bullock is trying to make a case he's a governor who gets things done. He said senators, including some of his rivals, simply talk about things in Washington -- Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Des Moines.


ALLEN: Something that may be talked about in the next election is the issue of abortion and abortion rights which, again, is under fire in the U.S. But as the U.S. goes, also goes much of the world. We'll talk about what the current U.S. trend might mean for women and girls around the world coming next here.

HOWELL: A touch of politics and lot of style here. You'll want to get the highlights from the memorable Eurovision finale in Tel Aviv. Stay with us.





ALLEN: Abortion rights have again become a battleground issue in the run-up to the 2020 election. The procedure has been legal in the U.S. for 46 years. But anti-abortion activists think they can get that changed.

HOWELL: The U.S. Supreme Court has shifted dramatically since the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling back in 1973. Conservative justices, including two picked by President Trump, are now in the majority.

ALLEN: A tweet from Mr. Trump late Saturday affirms it will be an election issue, even saying abortion rights advocates are, quote, "imploding," likely a reference to the numerous states that have either passed or are considering strict anti-abortion laws.

Abortion remains illegal in many countries and abortion laws across the world are complicated. Countries shown in red prohibit abortions under any circumstance or, in some cases, to save the life of the mother.

Countries in yellow allow abortions under certain conditions, such as in cases of rape or incest or to protect the health of a woman.

And then countries shown here in green, abortions are available.

Joining me to talk more about this is Jamie Todd-Gher. She's a legal advisor with Amnesty International.

Thank you for being with us.


ALLEN: At a time in the United States where we're seeing Republicans push to restrict, maybe even ban abortion, talk to us about trends around the world when it comes to abortion.

TODD-GHER: Well, it's a great question. It's really interesting because in the last 60 years more than 30 countries have actually liberalized their laws and currently 74 countries, approximately 60 percent of the world population, lives under abortion laws that are liberal, allow access without restriction.

And so the U.S. by contrast is going in a very opposite direction.

ALLEN: I want to ask you about that. If the U.S. reverses abortion laws and outlaws it for the entire country, if that were to happen, would that have an effect on abortion law trends globally?

Many times the U.S. is a leader in progressive issues.

TODD-GHER: Absolutely. We're a leader in progressive issues and regressive issues. The U.S. really sets the trend for laws and policies around a range of issues but in particular around sexual and reproductive health issues. It would set a terrible trend because you often see other governments mimic what the U.S. does and often the U.S. government hinges funding and support for other countries in accordance with whether they comply with our laws and policies. So it is very troubling for the world as a whole.

ALLEN: Well, if states succeed in the U.S. and this goes to the Supreme Court which is more conservative now and if Roe v. Wade were turned back --


ALLEN: -- what would that look like, what happened before when women were restricted and what might happen in today's world?

TODD-GHER: It's a very dark and dire picture, I would have to say. Evidence shows and the World Health Organization confirms, you know, year after year, that when you restrict access to abortion, what happens is that women and girls and all pregnant people end up having to resort to unsafe and clandestine abortions.

So in reality, if you are actually trying to reduce abortion rates we actually increase women's and girls' lives are at threat. But if we actually liberalize abortion laws, research shows that you reduce the incidence of abortion ending in more positive pregnancy outcomes.

So if the intent is to actually reduce abortions, this is not going to be the best way to go. And we're just putting our women's and girls' lives at threat.

ALLEN: Meantime, legalized abortion doesn't necessarily mean easy access to abortions. Clinics are closing. Women are intimidated who try to go. In some countries where abortion is legal, what ways can abortion opponents make access to abortion difficult?

TODD-GHER: Well, you know, for decades, even since Roe v. Wade passed in the United States, advocates who are anti-choice and pro- life have made access difficult. It's not just around the world. In this country, there's an onslaught of laws and policies that are aimed at restricting abortion access in terms of closing down clinics, you know, requiring non-medically indicated requirements and access to abortion requiring parental consent laws that even if the parent has been involved with violence which has led to impregnating an adolescent, they would need get consent from their parent to actually terminate a pregnancy.

So i think often people in the U.S. tend to think issues in terms of according to abortion are happening elsewhere but this has been an ongoing issue since the passage of Roe v. Wade, that we've had increasingly year after year increasing laws and policies that greatly restrict access to abortion.

In some states, there's only one or two clinics where people can seek services and, in many states, people are having to cross state lines to seek services. If they can't do that, then they're resorting to unsafe practices.

ALLEN: Well, I want to ask you this. We've seen women who don't normally speak out on abortion rights kind of wake up now to what's going on in state legislatures. Women are sounding off on social media, declaring woe be it to Republicans who pass these laws at the next election.

Do you see the abortion issue making a difference in the 2020 election?

TODD-GHER: You see the abortion issue be a major lightning rod in every election. So no doubt this will be a huge issue in the 2020 elections. It is my hope and, you know, desire that people who are perhaps uncomfortable with this issue, that they personalize it and that they realize that, even if you do have mixed feelings about abortion, if you don't give people access to comprehensive sexuality education, access to contraception, access to ability to protect themselves from violence, then you're not putting them in a fair situation where they can actually prevent an unwanted pregnancy.

And then you're also punishing them for having to deal with that pregnancy and having to potentially put their life and health at risk. And so it's a very dark time, I would say, in the U.S. It's not surprising that we're here now but I hope that people who have been, you know, conflicted about this can personalize this in a way that they understand the humanity of people who are dealing with the realities under these restrictive laws and policies.

ALLEN: We certainly appreciate your insights and your time in talking with us about an issue that has fractured the United States. Jamie Todd-Gher, legal advisor with Amnesty International. Thank you, Jamie.

TODD-GHER: Thank you.


ALLEN: More news right after this.






ALLEN: The Netherlands has won the Eurovision song contest held in Tel Aviv, Israel. Duncan Laurence with his song, "Arcade," scored his nation's fifth victory.

HOWELL: Politics also took stage. Guest performer Madonna showed Israeli and Palestinian flags during her act and spoke of music's unifying power.

ALLEN: Our Hadas Gold was watching every minute and joins us from Tel Aviv.

I want to ask you first, we'll get you to talk about the spectacle that is Eurovision and how many people watched.

For people in our audience here in the United States that may not get it.

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Eurovision in the U.S., we have the Super Bowl. And around the world they have the Super Bowl of music and that's Eurovision, where nearly 200 million people tune in each year to see 41 countries compete to be the top song and to get the opportunity to host the competition in their country the next year.

Israel won it last year and that why the competition was in Israel this year. As you noted, the Netherlands won with Duncan Laurence's song, "Arcade." So next year it will be in the Netherlands. It's a big competition; it's a lot of kitsch, it's a lot of glamor, a lot of gaudy costumes.

Some of the more questionable songs and there were some catchy songs as well. The Netherlands was the odds favorite to win it. Although Italy gave them a run for their money with --


GOLD: -- a really catchy song.

HOWELL: Hadas getting this great assignment there in Tel Aviv. The backdrop incredible. We're a little jealous. So we're going to change our backdrop, too. We're there with you, too, now.

What were some of the breathtaking, some bizarre performances?

What were some of the standouts?

GOLD: Yes, Eurovision is well known for its grand stagecraft. One of the standouts in my opinion was Australia, they had -- it was a pop opera performance where the performer was in this big outfit that kind of reminded me of Glinda the Good Witch from "The Wizard of Oz." She was on a two-story pole that slung from side to side onstage.

It sort of made it look like she was flying through the air. There was other really incredible performances including from Norway, which included some traditional Norwegian singing.

There was just a lot of fun, poppy performance that were songs that you could hear on the radio any day, really.

HOWELL: Cool. Hadas Gold, thank you so much. And thanks for the great background, too.

ALLEN: Yes, sorry, we had to steal you because we're so envious of your assignment there. Thank you, Hadas.

And, thank you, everyone, for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell here in the CNN Center in Atlanta. News continues right after the break.

ALLEN: See you soon.