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Village Near Kyiv Left In Ruins After Relentless Russian Shelling; U.S. And Western Officials Believe Putin Could Formally Declare War On Ukraine As Soon As May 9; Politico: Supreme Court Has Voted To Overturn Abortion Rights, Draft Opinion Shows. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired May 02, 2022 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: We have more breaking news, to discuss, this hour, including the latest, on the assessment, by U.S. and Western officials, that Vladimir Putin may soon formally declare war, on Ukraine.
Our Kaitlan Collins reported earlier that the decision could come within the next week, in order to coincide, with a national holiday, in Russia, commemorating victory, in World War II. It would allow Vladimir Putin, to mobilize reserves, draft more conscripts, and address a manpower shortage.
Now, in a moment, we'll talk about all this, with a top congressional Democrat, who has just returned, from a visit, to Ukraine, where he and others, met with President Zelenskyy, as part of a congressional delegation.
We also have the latest state of play, on the battlefield, and a look at where the Russians are targeting children.
Though we start, in the village of Moschun, which is just outside of Kyiv. Images now, coming in, giving us a look at a battered town that you may not have heard of. But its defense played a crucial role, in the defense of the city, and perhaps the country, as a whole.
Matt Rivers has details.
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the entrance, to the Ukrainian village, of Moschun, an effigy twists in the breeze, a uniform, stripped off a dead Russian soldier, stuffed and hung from a tree. People hate Russia here, because of what it did.
The tiny town, northwest of Kyiv, has been leveled. Russian bombs, rockets, bullets, destroyed street after street after street.
This was the site of some of the most intense fighting, of the war, so far. On their drive, toward Kyiv, the Russians attacked soldiers and civilians, alike here. Ukrainian bunkers, alongside ordinary houses, shelled relentlessly, to devastating effect.
RIVERS (on camera): This was probably somebody's kitchen. You can see, there's a oven there, some pots and pans and microwave. I mean, this isn't a big city. But the scale of destruction, in this village, is on par with anything else, we've seen, across Ukraine.
I mean, this house gets hit, with artillery. There's a subsequent fire. And just, look, I mean, it's eviscerated. If there is a building in this village that hasn't been damaged in this fighting, we haven't seen it yet.
VALENTINA FURSA, RESIDENT OF MOSCHUN, UKRAINE (through translator): Boom! Boom! Boom! Fire! Fire! It was everywhere. It's nightmare.
RIVERS (voice-over): Valentina Fursa has lived, in Moschun, for years, and has never known war, until it landed, on her doorstep, and forced her down, into a neighbor's basement.
RIVERS (on camera): How scared were you?
FURSA (through translator): We were very scared. My heart was beating very fast. We thought we would die there. The Russians fired indiscriminately.
RIVERS (voice-over): The fighting only eased, when Russia withdrew, from the entire Kyiv region. Valentina, emerging from the basement, to find shell casings, in her garden, and whatever else, the Russians left behind.
FURSA: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
RIVERS (on camera): So, all these things, she says, the Russians left behind. So this, for washing your hands, another cup of some kind here, there's some sort of life jacket that the Russians use. And then even here, you've got old - old meal boxes, even with some things left inside there that you can see.
(voice-over): For nearly two months, after the fighting, residents stayed away. A trickle have now started to return. For them, Russia's lasting effects here, more than just bullet holes, and bomb craters.
(on camera): Not only do people, who are trying to rebuild, so often, have to start from scratch. But there remains so many mines and pieces of unexploded ordnance that authorities are actually considering closing down, this town, for a few days, until they can clear it.
(voice-over): It's open for now though, which meant Valentina Marhonos could come back home, for the first time, in weeks. The weather was nice. So, her niece and nephew played on the swing. Different than the last time they were here, when they hid in a basement, as bombs destroyed everything above.
(on camera): Is it difficult to think about that?
VALENTINA MARHONOS, RESIDENT OF MOSCHUN, UKRAINE (through translator): I don't even know what to say. [21:05:00]
RIVERS (voice-over): What we can say is that this tiny town has turned into a symbol of sorts, a village, mercilessly attacked that, in the end, stood its ground, a microcosm perhaps, of the country, in which it lies.
COOPER: And Matt Rivers joins us now.
I mean, that town, it's amazing that people are still living there. It just seems so completely destroyed.
RIVERS: Yes, I mean, when we went there, the first time we went there, was about 10 days ago, or so now, with a previous congressional delegation that was in town.
And when we were there, with them, we spoke to a commander, in the Ukrainian forces, who basically told that this town is the reason why there was not street fighting, in Kyiv. And we didn't realize it was that important. Because it is just this tiny little village. And yet, it's only about 15 miles, or so, from where we are here.
And when we spoke to commanders there, they said had that town fallen, there would have been streetfighting here. And so, that's why the Russians tried, so hard, to take it, why the Ukrainians put up such a fight. And that's why there's so much damage there.
RIVERS: Now, we're actually going to talk about that, on the show, tomorrow night, looking more at how that battle played out.
COOPER: Good. Matt Rivers, appreciate it, thanks.
I'm joined now by Democratic congressman, Jim McGovern, who was recently here, in Kyiv. He was part of a congressional delegation that just returned. While there - while he was here, he and others, met with President Zelenskyy.
So Congressman, first of all, this reporting that President Putin might declare this, a war, on May 9, one week, from today? Obviously, it's been a war, since they invaded. But does that factor into your concerns, about the situation, here at all?
REP. JIM MCGOVERN (D-MA): Yes, I am - we all are worried about what President Putin might do next. He can end this war, if he wants to. And we all hope and pray that he would do that. I mean, this is his war.
Ukraine didn't invade Russia. Russia invaded Ukraine. And Putin has launched a war, against Ukrainian people that is vicious and barbaric.
I mean, when we were there, on a delegation, led by Speaker Pelosi, I mean, we heard the stories, of the war crimes, of the targeting of maternity hospitals, of the mass graves that are being uncovered, of these young girls that are being raped, in front of their mothers, by Russian soldiers, and some being put into human trafficking. I mean, it is horrific, the stories that we have heard, from people and NGOs that are also on the ground.
But we went, on this delegation that Speaker Pelosi put together. We met with President Zelenskyy, to tell him that we stand, with the Ukrainian people, that we will do, what we can, to provide him the weapons, the humanitarian assistance, the economic assistance, to be able to stand his ground, and be able to push the Russians back.
COOPER: Yes. You met with Zelenskyy, I understand, for three hours. And I know you've described the meeting, as intense. Is it clear to you, more of what he's looking for, from the United States, at this point?
MCGOVERN: Well, first of all, he was grateful to the United States, for the support that we have provided him, up to this point.
He's also grateful, to the people of the United States, who are, raising money, for relief efforts and food, in bake sales, on college campuses. I mean, he knows that the American peoples - the American people stand with him, and the Ukrainian people.
But what he wants, he needs - what he wants and what he needs is more. I mean, look, Russia's army, is huge, compared to the Ukrainian army. But what he doesn't have in numbers, Zelenskyy has in spirit, and commitment, from the Ukrainian people, who are doing everything, they can, to hold on, to push back.
I mean, look, a few weeks ago, all the experts said that Russia would roll over Ukraine, in a matter of days. That did not happen. And it will not happen. And I believe, at the end of the day, Ukraine will prevail.
What Putin is doing is evil. And, at the end of the day, I believe that evil will not triumph here, that the Ukrainian people, with the help of the international community, will stand tall, and be able to push the Russians back.
COOPER: Did you get a sense of how efficient the flow of weaponry is, currently? I know, the U.S. officials say that the majority of the Howitzers that had been promised are already in country. Is it clear to you if those weapons have already been brought to bear, on the battlefield?
MCGOVERN: I can't tell you, whether they have or not. But the focus of our discussion was not on any complaints about how slow things were, but just the kind of the understanding that this may be a long, a long ordeal, and that he needs to be able to count, on not just the United States, but others, to be there, to make sure that he has what he needs, to push the Russians back.
MCGOVERN: Look, what Putin is doing is committing war crimes. And I said, at a press conference, afterwards, in Poland, that this war, and people need to understand this, is not just a war, against the Ukrainian people.
It is a war against the most vulnerable in the world. Putin is blocking Ukraine, which is the breadbasket of the world, from getting wheat, and maize, and sunflower oil, to Africa, to the Middle East. I mean, he is provoking a hunger crisis, a global hunger crisis, with rising costs in food and energy.
MCGOVERN: So, Putin's carefree (ph) starves the whole world.
MCGOVERN: But people need to understand, this is not just about Ukraine. It is about the freedom, and independence, of other nations. It is about trying to prevent a global food crisis as well.
COOPER: Yes. Congressman McGovern, appreciate your time. Thank you.
MCGOVERN: Thank you and be safe.
COOPER: Ukrainians worried about - thank you. Appreciate it.
Ukrainians worried about another potential front, in this war. It's along Ukraine's southwest border, with the breakaway region, inside neighboring Moldova. Probably haven't heard much about it before. But it's called Transnistria. It's had Russian soldiers, there, for decades.
Today, Ukraine said, it'll work with Moldova, and the E.U., to contain the possibility, of escalation.
Randi Kaye, is in Moldova, tonight, with more.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): This is the village, of Chisinau. It is actually the last village, before the border, with Transnistria. Almost everyone here, told us, they did not want to be interviewed. One woman told us, quote, "The less you talk, the more you live."
(voice-over): That's where we met Tanya (ph). She fled Odessa, Ukraine, with her two children, only to end up here, just a few miles, from Transnistria, and feels under threat, again.
(on camera): The Russian troops are very close to here. Does that concern you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
KAYE (voice-over): She tells me, yes, she's very afraid. She's very scared. She says, her bags are packed, and she's hoping to get to Poland, or somewhere safer, very soon.
(on camera): Are you worried that Russia will invade Moldova?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
KAYE (voice-over): Yes, of course, she's afraid for Moldova, she says. Moldovans are really good people, who took Ukrainians in.
Down the road, further from the border, with Transnistria, we found a village, called Vadul lui Voda. People here were much more willing to speak with us.
(on camera): Are you nervous?
EFRAM, MOLDOVA RESIDENT: Well, no, no. I feel very good. I know that I can stay, for my country. Yes.
KAYE (on camera): You don't have a bag packed to go?
EFRAM: No, no. I will stay here. And I will protect my family and my house. Yes.
KAYE (on camera): So, you would stay and fight?
EFRAM: Yes, yes, of course. Why not? It's my country.
KAYE (on camera): How do you feel about living so close to Transnistria?
EFRAM: Oh, I feel OK, you know? But I understand that, where is the problem? Where is the problem that exists a lot of time? Yes. And, I think, now, it's moment to resolve it.
KAYE (voice-over): The trouble with Transnistria, is its proximity to Ukraine, and its relationship with Russia, which has kept troops there, for decades.
If Putin's troops are somehow successful, in taking control, of southern Ukraine, they could create a land corridor, stretching to Transnistria, and some here, fear, eventually into Moldova, and deeper into Eastern Europe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very worried.
KAYE (voice-over): This man tells me, he's very worried for what may happen in Moldova.
(on camera): Can Moldova defend itself, against Russia, do you think?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE) no, no, (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
KAYE (voice-over): No, he says. Then, asks me, "Have you seen the Moldovan army?" He says, Moldova is a friendly neutral state that happens to be in the wrong place, at the wrong time.
This woman tells me, she too is very worried, about Russia, invading through Transnistria.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
KAYE (voice-over): For now, it's not a threat, she says. But if that changes, she and her husband plan to run away.
This woman, came all the way, from Canada, to check on her family.
(on camera): You're worried for your family?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Yes, sure.
KAYE (voice-over): She grew up here, and is familiar, with the threats of a Russian invasion. She wanted to make sure, her brother, and sister, and mother-in-law, have all they need, to escape.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We try to help them with the money, but actually to prepare maybe the documents, just in case, just in case, to have the passports.
KAYE (voice-over): So many Moldovans deciding whether to stay or go, as they wait for what Putin does next.
COOPER: And Randi joins us now, from Moldova.
I know you spoke with the former Moldovan ambassador, to the United States. Is he concerned about Russia using Transnistria to expand the war?
KAYE: Absolutely, Anderson. We spoke to Igor Munteanu, that former Moldovan ambassador. And he said, he's quite concerned that Russia could push through Transnistria, and then into Moldova.
He sees Moldova as a very easy target. They have a very weak army, here, 3,000 or 4,000 people. You heard them talking about in our story, when we were talking to those people. And so, that's why he thinks that it is quite vulnerable.
And when you talk to Moldovans, around here, they really feel like they look to Ukraine, as their army. They feel like, right now, Ukrainians are fighting, for not only peace in Ukraine, but peace, here, in Moldova, and the region as well.
And, of course, there's that concern about the 1,500 so-called peacekeeping troops, Russian troops that are in Transnistria, right now. That same Ambassador told me that he believes that that number could jump to 50,000 or more. He said, they're already recruiting there. And that is quite concerning to him, Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Randi, appreciate it. Thanks.
Still to come, the state of play, on the battlefield, as U.S. Intelligence believes that Vladimir Putin may soon formally declare war, on Ukraine. See how his forces are doing, in their efforts, to secure victory, in the east and the south, ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN Breaking News.
TEXT: BREAKING NEWS.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We have breaking news, to report, on a historic Supreme Court decision that could determine the legality of abortion, in all 50 States and, a frankly, unprecedented way, the court's decision may, and we stress may, have been announced.
CNN is still trying to confirm, a new report, by "Politico," which says, it obtained a draft majority opinion, by Justice Samuel Alito, in a case, concerning a Mississippi abortion law.
The draft portion - the draft opinion indicates that the Supreme Court is ready to strike down, the landmark decision, in Roe v. Wade, as well as a separate court decision, Casey v. Planned Parenthood.
This is from page five of what, we must repeat, is a draft opinion, obtained by "Politico."
Quote, "We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled. The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision, including the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely - the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment."
CNN Justice Correspondent, Jessica Schneider, joins us, by phone.
Jessica, talk - what more do we know about what they have decided?
ON THE PHONE: JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So, Anderson, I mean, this is just an absolutely stunning report. And if it's true, as "Politico" says, this should be a stunning breach of court confidentiality.
"Politico" says that it has obtained this draft majority opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, overturning Roe v. Wade, saying that there is absolutely no constitutional right to abortion.
Now, again, this is just a draft opinion. We're expecting a final opinion, from this court, sometime, in the next eight weeks. They usually wrap up their term, at the end of June. And we've been bracing for a decision. But this draft has supposedly, reportedly, been leaked, to "Politico". The Justice, apparently, wrote in this 98-page opinion that there was no constitutional right to abortion. The Constitution, in his words, makes no reference to abortion, and no such right, is implicitly protected, by any constitutional provision.
Now, a note for our viewers. The way the Supreme Court works procedurally is they hear the arguments. They heard this particular argument on a Mississippi law, banning abortion, at 15 weeks. They heard that, on December 1st.
Right after the argument, they go into conference. That's when they take their initial vote. And "Politico" is saying that, at their initial vote, five of the justices voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, again, voting against - voting against the constitutional right to an abortion.
If those numbers hold five-four, with Alito writing the opinion, justices Thomas, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett, joining him? That would indeed be enough. It appears, by this draft that the Chief Justice, will side with the liberals, if this holds.
But again, Anderson, this is not final. It is possible, for justices, to change their vote. And you almost wonder if perhaps someone, from the Supreme Court, purposely leaked this opinion, to get enough public outrage, in the coming weeks that maybe one of the justices might change their opinion. That's a possibility, here.
So again, this is not a final opinion by the court. We get those in very particular order. We get them, when the court announces them. They usually release them at 10 o'clock, on certain mornings that will happen over the next eight weeks.
The Court, I have reached out to the Court, for comment. The Court says that they have no comment on this. So, they're not striking this down, but they are not commenting at all. Again, this would be one of the most consequential decisions, from the Supreme Court, in decades, and is not often they overturn a precedent--
SCHNEIDER: --as Roe v. Wade has been, Anderson, since the 1970s. We saw, back in 1896, Plessy versus Ferguson overturned Brown v. Board of Education, declaring separate but equal, unconstitutional.
This would be momentous. This would be earth-shattering. And you know what, Anderson? We're already seeing States, across the country, in particular, in Oklahoma, in Florida, and even Arizona, we're seeing these States, already starting to change, their abortion laws.
Oklahoma has outlawed abortion. That goes into effect in August. They're expecting that the Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade.
So, these States, are already taking action, on what they expected, from this court. And Anderson, tonight, it appears, based on what "Politico" says, is a draft opinion, it appears that the Supreme Court has five justices that, is enough, who have voted, to overturn Roe v. Wade.
No official announcement, from the Court. But "Politico" is saying they have this draft opinion, which indicates what the Court will eventually announce here. Anderson?
COOPER: And, Jessica, if that is, in fact, the ruling of the court, it would then be up to each state, to decide, for politicians, in each state, to decide, what the law is, in their state, correct?
SCHNEIDER: That's exactly right. And what's interesting, about this "Politico" report, is that's one of the lines that they pulled, from the opinion.
And that's been these justices' argument all along that since this right to abortion, is not enshrined, in the Constitution that it should be left to the States, and in turn, the people of those States.
So, one of the lines that "Politico" has, is, in the opinion, they say, Justice Alito wrote, "It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people's elected representatives."
The thought here is, since it's not specifically, in the Constitution, it should be legislated by individual States, and returned, as conservatives like to say, to the people of those States, to elect their representatives, who will then decide how abortions should be handled.
So, right, overruling it will not eliminate it necessarily, in all States. But in those States that are led by Republicans, we're already seeing them move, to ban abortion.
And notably, Anderson, there are actually some States that have trigger laws that will go into effect, the second that Roe v. Wade is overturned, that will ban abortion.
In fact, the Governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, has just filed a lawsuit, to block a law, from going into effect. There's a law in Michigan that if Roe v. Wade is overturned, this law, banning abortion, in Michigan, will automatically take effect.
So, there are a few laws, like that, throughout the country. But yes, it will be returned to the States if that's in fact what happens.
COOPER: Jessica Schneider, no doubt we'll be coming back to you, as events warrant.
Joining us, right now, CNN Chief Legal Analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, former Texas State Senator, Wendy Davis, and constitutional law professor, and CNN Analyst, Steve Vladeck.
Jeff, you'd predicted this would happen. Talk about the importance of this.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I predicted it would happen. But I sure as hell didn't predict it would happen this way! I mean, you just have to understand, what a breach of Supreme Court tradition this is.
This was known as the one leak-proof institution, in Washington. There has never been anything like a leak of this magnitude. Anything close! Never! Never! Never! And it's just an indication of how riven, this Supreme Court is, by anger, and viciousness, over this issue.
But putting the procedural issue aside, what this means, if this is, in fact, a Supreme Court decision, that is, as Justice Alito's words, stand as the court's decision? What this means is that a constitutional right that women have had, in this country, for 50 years, pushing three generations, is gone. It is gone, overnight. And it is now up to the politicians.
And this idea that it is simply returning the abortion rights, to the States, is not really correct. Because what we are seeing in these States that are banning abortion is they are reaching out, they are trying to ban abortion, in the whole country.
They are banning the use of the mails for medical abortions. They are banning travel, for abortion purposes. They are criminalizing attempts, from members of other States, to try to get - to try to ban abortion, within their States.
I mean, this is a constitutional earthquake, if it stands. And American life, not just American law, will be very different, if this is the law of the land.
COOPER: Senator Davis, what's your reaction to this?
WENDY DAVIS, (D) FORMER TEXAS STATE SENATOR: It's not surprising, Anderson. But, of course, deeply shocking, all at the same time. This is a moment that we hoped we would never see.
And what's really fascinating to me, about the Court's opinion, if indeed, this is the opinion that is issued, is they talk about this, as though it's a return to the States, to the will, of the people.
And yet, the Supreme Court itself has been the major obstacle, to voting rights reform, redistricting reform that would actually return the will of the people, to state legislative bodies, around this country.
What it says to us is that, this November, the stakes, in the U.S. House and Senate races, just got that much higher.
Because if the court is going to abandon women, across this country, and the constitutional protections that we've had, as Jeffrey said, for more than 50 years, we can only rely now, on the two other branches, to make up, what women will be losing, throughout this country.
And there will be no end in sight to it. We've already seen, here, in Texas, a young woman, in the Rio Grande Valley, criminally charged, for choosing, to abort a pregnancy. And, I truly believe, this is where, we are headed, under this Supreme Court opinion, if indeed, in June or July, this comes to pass.
COOPER: Jeff Toobin, if you can, can you just explain why is there a draft? I mean, how does this work, in the Supreme Court?
TOOBIN: Well, again, this is how it works, is that the Supreme Court hears arguments, usually Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or some combination, thereof. And then, on Friday, they have their conference, which is the super-secret meeting, of the nine justices, in the Chief Justice's conference room.
No one is allowed, in that room. Only the justices sit that - are around the table. And they take what's called a draft, a - they take a vote. But it's not a permanent vote. It's a tentative vote, on the elect - on what the results of the case is.
Based on the result, in that case - of the tentative vote, on that Friday, the Chief Justice, or the Senior Associate Justice, in the majority, then assigns the opinion, to one member of the majority.
The Chief Justice could assign it to himself. If this is the split in the court, the Senior Associate Justice would have been Clarence Thomas. He's now the Senior Associate Justice, if Chief Justice Roberts is in dissent.
So Chief Justice - Justice Thomas, would here, have assigned the opinion, to Justice Alito, to write the opinion, for the majority. He then would have prepared a draft, and that's what it appears this is that was leaked to "Politico." That is then circulated among the nine justices.
And the justices in the majority get to comment on it, and say, "Well, I would change this. I would change that." And then, the four dissenters decide, are they going to write a single dissenting opinion, or are they going to write separate dissenting opinions.
But this circulation process, it often takes months, especially with high-profile cases. I mean, this case was argued, in the fall, this Hobbs (ph) case, from Mississippi. And it's not surprising that it's taken, all these months, to be resolved.
But I can't emphasize enough, as someone, who has covered this court, for 30 years, whose written two books, on the Court, there has never been a leak anything like this. There's never been a leak of a vote, much less an actual opinion, much less in a case of this significance.
It's really going to be an interesting question, putting aside so much about, what this means for the institution of the Supreme Court, what it means for the respect that the justices' and the Court's decisions are held.
The idea that a decision, of this magnitude, could leak, is really, a shattering experience, for the justices, and the Court. And I really don't know, how well the (ph) institution is going to recover. COOPER: Steve, I'm wondering what your initial reaction is, to this overturning of precedent?
STEVE VLADECK, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Yes, I mean, Anderson, it's an earthquake. And it's an earthquake, for all the reasons that Jeff was talking about, that you guys have been talking about.
It's an earthquake, for what it portends, for millions of American women, especially in States, like Texas, where I live, where the overturning of Roe and Casey, basically means that abortion access, becomes a question, of whether you can leave the state, and whether the state's going to prohibit it.
It's an earthquake, Anderson, for how we think about precedent, and whether the Supreme Court really can undo rights that prior generations of justices recognized. There really aren't a lot of examples of that, outside of the specific context of economic rights.
But also, I mean, Anderson, it is an earthquake, for the Supreme Court, as an institution. I mean, Jeff is right. We've had leaks in the past, of results. We've had leaks of votes. We've never had a leak like this.
And it's possible that this is not the final result. This is the way the Supreme Court process works, as you heard. We know of prior examples, throughout history, where opinions that started, as majority opinions, lost their majority, turned into dissents.
But that we're at a point where someone, whether it's a law clerk, or one of the justices in dissent, is leaking, this draft opinion, is a pretty staggering reflection, of where we are, with when it comes to public perception, of the Supreme Court.
And Jeff is right, Anderson. I mean, I don't know what this tells - you know, what - how the Supreme Court recovers, from this, both with regard to how much it's going to galvanize opposition, on the Left, and frustration, on the Left, and hostility, on the Left, to the perception that the court is acting politically, and to just the optics and the politics of the leak, and of the fact that this is a court that has historically kept its opinions, incredibly close to the chest.
And here we are, perhaps weeks, months, away, from the final decision. And we have this 98-page draft that certainly looks like it's a complete draft opinion, purporting to overrule these two critical precedents.
So, Anderson, I can't recall, an episode, like this, in the Supreme Court's entire history, and certainly not one, in our lifetimes.
COOPER: Senator Davis, many conservative States have already been testing the waters, of restricting access to abortion. What about States that want to continue to allow access to abortion? What will be the impact on women?
DAVIS: Well, right now, we've already seen, for example, Anderson, in Oklahoma, where a lot of Texas women, have gone to, to seek abortion services, and where abortion will soon be against the law, it is putting tremendous pressure, on these States that do provide abortion.
And they're having a very difficult time with the waiting periods that people are having to endure, within their own States, never mind the people, who are trying to come from out of state.
And for people, in States, like Texas, and the more than 20 States, across this country that have a trigger law of some form or fashion? These people, who cannot afford the ability, to leave work, to find care, for the children that they already have, to afford to travel, and have a procedure, elsewhere, and the overnight stays? They are going to be trapped, in a situation of forced pregnancy.
And if Texas, is any indication, even leaving the state, even donating to organizations that help people to leave the state? That too is going to become against the law, not only with civil penalties, but likely criminal penalties that will follow.
And what will that mean for businesses in States that have overturned the right to access abortion, and criminalized the ability even, to leave the state, to get it? What will it mean, to the ability, for those companies, to maintain and recruit a workforce?
And what will the ripple impacts of this be, not only in the lives of the individuals, who will be impacted, but in our economy, across this country, as women's ability, to participate in the workforce, takes a dramatic and drastic blow? And that's exactly what's going to happen, with the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
COOPER: CNN Legal Analyst, Joan Biskupic, joins us now.
Joan, you've covered the Court, for 25 years. You have written multiple books, on the Court, including Chief Justice Roberts. What is your initial reaction to this?
JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN LEGAL ANALYST & SUPREME COURT BIOGRAPHER: My initial reaction is that it's stunning, on so many levels.
First of all, just for what's happening in America, we're talking about 50 years of precedent that it appears now will definitely be thrown out the window. The Chief Justice of the United States was already concerned about the integrity, of the court, and public opinion, of the court.
In this moment, as abortion rights, are being dissolved, nationwide, appear to be being dissolved, nationwide, and frankly, a lot of what's, in this opinion, does jibe with what I've been hearing myself, in my reporting, although I don't - I want to make clear that we have not authenticated this document ourselves. But we know that a lot of it rings true, with what we've been told already.
But to have it come out, this way, to have this first draft? And it's typically it's one of many drafts that will be amended, through the next couple of weeks. But it looks like it's about to sail through, at least five justices, probably just five justices, ready to overturn Roe v. Wade.
The Chief Justice, who likely was not part of that vote. Because what we believe is that the Chief was ready to uphold the Mississippi law, that was a ban on abortions, after 15 weeks of pregnancy, that he had the majority for that part of it, a six-justice majority.
But he is not with what appears to be Samuel Alito, writing for a five-justice majority. That would be Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and the three new appointees of President Donald Trump. Again, this is what "Politico" was reporting, as part of this draft.
But, as I say, this all rings very true and very troubling. And for the Chief Justice to see this case, at this moment, unfold publicly, like this, I think that I'm sure he will try to get to the bottom of how this all happened. There's been a lot of talk about how this was leaked, whether it was leaked.
It was really in the interest of no one, of the nine justices, to have it come out, like this. The Conservatives apparently have won. They didn't need to have it come out like this. It would come out at the end of June. That's when the law would be changed, when abortion rights, from 1973, would be rolled back.
It would not be in the interest of the three liberals, who, I'm sure, are dissenting vigorously. We don't know yet, whether the first drafts, from the centers (ph), had been circulated, because all we have is apparently this one first draft, for the majority. So, there's so many unanswered questions about how, Justice Alito's colleagues would be reacting to this.
But, Anderson, this was the biggest case, of this term, the biggest case of the decade, in some ways. And to have it burst forth, on the American public, like this, is, to use a word that John Roberts used, in his own confirmation hearing, a jolt, and 10 times the jolt.
So, we have had leaks in the past, of vote counts, of what we thought was in draft opinions. But this is unprecedented, in so many ways, and unprecedented in a way that matters, so much, to Americans, and to the individual justices, who, I'm sure, at this very moment, are all conferring, to try to figure out what happened, and what should happen, next.
Some people I talk to tonight, thinks this would actually just--
COOPER: Yes. Hey, Joan?
BISKUPIC: Oh, go ahead, yes.
COOPER: Sorry. Chief Justice Roberts' name is not one of the justice that's listed on the draft. Why would that be? BISKUPIC: That's because he was - he is, I believe, this is now - this is independent of what "Politico" is reporting here. But I believe he is not in the majority, to overturn Roe versus Wade. And what the opinion is, that "Politico" has published, is on that major question.
What I believe has been happening is that the Chief, as I say, was ready to uphold the Mississippi ban, on abortion, after 15 weeks. But what he wasn't ready to do was to go as far as what Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and the three Trump appointees, are doing, in that opinion, is saying Roe v. Wade, out the window, completely.
And, just to clarify, Anderson, the Mississippi law would ban abortion to 15 weeks, but lets earlier abortions go forward. A woman who might discover she's pregnant, at the seventh week, and want to have an abortion, could still do it, under what Mississippi law was, and what I believe the Chief was willing to go with.
But what's in this opinion, by Justice Alito, is never would abortion be a constitutional right, nationwide, as it is, right now, in America. Right now, it is.
BISKUPIC: But, at the end of June, it looks like, as I say, it's gone forever.
COOPER: I want to get reaction to this, from the President and CEO, of Planned Parenthood, Alexis McGill Johnson.
Your response to what you have read, tonight, in "Politico?"
ALEXIS MCGILL JOHNSON, PRESIDENT & CEO, PLANNED PARENTHOOD: It's just unconscionable, Anderson. I mean, what we have seen tonight, is not just a draft.
We believe this is a roadmap, for how they will take Roe down. And we have already seen it, over these last nine months, in Texas, the devastation of what we have seen, patients traveling, thousands of miles, to get access to basic abortion care.
But I will tell you, abortion is still legal, right now. We are letting our patients know, patients, who are seeking access to abortion, that they can still go and seek their provider, right now.
But what is happening, right now, in front of the court, is unbelievable.
COOPER: How many States, do you think, would still continue to, if it goes to State legislatures, how many States, do you think, would actually still continue to allow abortions to take place?
MCGILL JOHNSON: Here's what we know. We know that there are 26 States that are poised, and ready, and emboldened, quite frankly, because of this Court, to overturn Roe, in their own States, right?
Once the federal protection is gone, it means that the States will now be making these decisions. And we've already seen it, as I said, in Texas. We've seen Florida move to 15-week bans, Arizona move to 15- week bans. We've seen Oklahoma, Idaho, move to six-week bans.
We will see 26 States move to ensure that we no longer have control, over our own bodies, to make these decisions, about ourselves, about our families. And that is actually what is truly devastating, right now. So, they forecast this, in the draft opinion, however, it was leaked, which is unprecedented in itself.
But what's also unprecedented is the fact that we have had this right, for 49 years. For 49 years, we have fought to make sure that we are able to make these decisions, not some lawmakers, down the street, not somebody, who honestly doesn't even know, how our bodies work.
And now, they are determined, to take this right away, from us, (inaudible) our own self-determination. That is what is happening, right now, with what we see, in the draft opinion.
COOPER: So what, for Planned Parenthood, what is the next step?
MCGILL JOHNSON: Look, we are, obviously, in conversation, right now, as we speak. The coalition, the Liberate Abortion coalition, is on line. They are strategizing about all ways, in which we are going to show up.
We know that this decision is going to enrage people. We know. We've already seen what's happened, when people find out that - when they found out what was happening, in Texas, they started filling state houses, in Florida, they started filling state houses, in other places. Because they know that the fight right now, is on the ground, and in these States.
And so, we're going to continue to capture that rage. And we're going to continue to make sure that they understand, who is accountable, right now. The last administration - that last administration appointed three justices, who are - will be responsible, for us losing a constitutional right that we have held, for 49 years.
And those people, who empowered that administration, the justices, the folks, who would not vote for the Women's Health Protection Act, those folks are going to be held accountable.
So that we know, when we move into this next election cycle, from the State legislature, to the D.A., to the Senate, to the governors, we are going to be making sure that in each and every state where we can fight that we are ensuring that people understand, what's at stake, right now. It's literally their bodies on the line.
COOPER: Alexis McGill Johnson, appreciate your time.
We're going to continue this conversation, of our breaking news, in just a moment. In particular, how this scrambles the political climate, also, in a major electoral year.
A lot to cover. We'll be right back.
TEXT: BREAKING NEWS.
COOPER: And breaking news, this evening, "Politico" has obtained a draft opinion, by a majority, of the Supreme Court that would strike down Roe v. Wade.
The release of a draft opinion is unprecedented by itself. Likewise, what this opinion would mean for the pro-choice movement, as well as the U.S. political landscape, just months, ahead of the midterm elections, and the U.S. presidential race that will unofficially began shortly thereafter.
Back with us is Joan Biskupic. I'm also joined now by CNN's Political Director, David Chalian, on the phone, and Chief National Affairs Correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, who is in Ohio.
David, we're obviously on the brink of a very active midterm election cycle. What does this mean?
ON THE PHONE: DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, Anderson, you have seen all the polling that I've seen, as well, about this midterm election year. And one of the greatest cause of concern, for Democrats, was a potential sort of lack of enthusiasm, among Democratic voters, in this midterm year.
And when I would ask Democratic officials, across the board, from the White House, to Capitol Hill, people running campaigns, "What is going to motivate Democratic voters, this year? What is going to wake them up, and get them to turn out in the numbers you need?" the one thing that all these Democrats would point to is that if the Supreme Court ruling came in June, to overturn Roe v. Wade, they would attempt to mobilize Democrats, nationwide, around this issue, like they've never been mobilized before.
And that's part of the story of the politics, of abortion rights, in this country. Over the last 50 years, it has been the lifeblood, of the Republican Party, and the Conservative movement, to overturn Roe v. Wade.
And we have seen, in election cycle after election cycle, how that issue, really motivated voters, and the base of the right conservative movement, to get out to the polls. What we didn't see, despite lots of rhetoric around that is that moving voters on the Left, to the same degree.
Now that we are seeing this draft report, and again, this may not be where the case ends up, but given this draft report that's been published, you're already seeing.
My inbox is flooded with statements from a slew of Democrats, running for the House and the Senate, across the country, already mobilizing, galvanizing and sort of calling the political arms, their base voters, as to how important it is, now, to show up, and try and save the majority that the Democrats have, in the United States Senate, which is tied, in order to be able to preserve future Supreme Court nominees, from a democratic precedent. And you're also seeing--
CHALIAN: --on the progressive-left, a call to end the filibuster, so that they can try and codify Roe, into law.
COOPER: Jeff Zeleny, how much of a rallying cry, do you think this will be, in States around the country?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: There's no doubt, the Democrats will try--
COOPER: Or Democrats.
ZELENY: --and use it as a rallying cry.
As David was just saying, Republicans have used this, really, for generations. That has been the motivating force of the party, ever since Roe versus Wade became law. So, really, for more than four decades.
But Democrats have always struggled to do so. This is a new moment, if this decision is as it seems, tonight, which we do not know that, of course. The Democrats are not waiting for that. They are trying to use this, to rally their bases, in the midterm elections.
But, Anderson, it is a very open question, if that is going to be possible, for Democrats. I was speaking to one senior Democrat, who advises congressional campaigns, as well as the White House. They called it an epic, but uphill battle.
And this is something that even if Democrats would happen to hold control of the House, which virtually no one thinks, is likely, and potentially, the Senate, which is more likely, that would not have an immediate effect at all, on this ruling, if this is what the decision would do.
But it would simply cast on even more pressure, and more weight, on that 2024 presidential election. Of course, the next Supreme Court justices would be very key on this. But as we've been saying, all evening, this kicks it to the States, most likely. That is a central motivating force, here.
But Democrats, again, this is an epic battle, for them. But they have never been able to rally behind this issue.
But, of course, there's a generation of young women, and men, and other voters, who have long thought this was settled law. They've not seen this necessarily, as something that has been a motivating force, in their life. This could change everything. But one thing is becoming clear, as we are getting early reactions to this. I'm told the White House is not going to have a comment, this evening. But the President could speak to it, as early as tomorrow, is that they are going to not wait, for the final decision, in June.
They're going to start making their political arguments, as early as the morning, as the Supreme Court, of course, figures out exactly how this extraordinary leak happened, and continues on with the case.
So, we're absolutely in uncharted political waters, legal waters, as well, here. People on both sides of the aisle, Republican senators, Democratic senators, are criticizing this leak. Without question, it is unprecedented. And the fallout will continue.
COOPER: Joan, as we mentioned, you've written multiple books, on the Supreme Court. How much the justices have a sense, or pay attention, to the politics, of a huge issue, like this?
BISKUPIC: Anderson, I can't tell you how much this episode, the way it's burst, into the public scene, tonight, exacerbates the trouble for them, and how they view themselves, in the public - themselves, in the public eye.
They have all been increasingly concerned, about their stature, in the American eye. They know that polls show a public approval, of them dropping. They know that they're getting criticized, from many sides.
And I believe what they thought they were going to be doing, with this opinion, was to be laying out some legal arguments, from the conservative point of view, why Roe should be overturned, and the Liberals countering that.
But to have it come out this way, only accelerates or, I believe, it will accelerate, public concerns, about the legitimacy of the Supreme Court, in this way.
Because the Chief Justice, John Roberts, I do not believe, is on this opinion. I think he was ready to, from my own reporting, was that he was willing to uphold the Mississippi law that was in dispute here that would ban abortions, after 15 weeks. But he was not ready to do what Sam Alito apparently is doing, for a very slim five-justice majority, here, completely strike down Roe v. Wade.
And one of the reasons the Chief was holding back was especially because of this half-century-year-old precedent, and how people had relied on it, and to have the rug pulled out from underneath everyone, in America, in this fashion, I think, just makes it more difficult, for the justices, themselves, to justify, when they do finally release it, to the public. Anderson?
COOPER: Joan Biskupic, David Chalian, Jeff Zeleny, thank you very much.
We're going to have more, in a moment. We'll be right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: The news continues, right now. Want to turn things over to Don, and "DON LEMON TONIGHT."