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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Twenty-One-Year-Old Air National Guardsman Arrested In Connection With Leaked Trove Of Classified US Intelligence; Trump Questioned Under Oath In New York AG Civil Suit; Florida House Passes Six-Week Abortion Ban, Sending Bill To Gov. DeSantis' Desk; Court Order Says Abortion Drug Can Remain Available; Keeps Restrictions On Mailing Pill And When It Can Be Given; DOJ Asking Supreme Court To Intervene On Abortion Drug Ruling; Texas County Keeps Public Libraries Open Amid Book Ban Battle; Police: Cash App Founder Knew Suspect Arrested In Connection With His Murder; Flash Flood Warning Extended For Fort Lauderdale After 1-In-1,000 Year Rainfall Event. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired April 13, 2023 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERICA HILL, CNN HILL: Appreciate the reporting tonight. Thank you.
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: You bet.
HILL: Thanks to all of you for joining us. I'm Erica Hill, in for Erin Burnett.
AC 360 starts right now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, "ANDERSON COOPER: 360": Good evening.
It has been a stunning day for this country's National Security. Stunning in the individual arrested today in connection with one of the most serious Intelligence leaks of the United States since Edward Snowden is just 21 years old, stunning that Airman First Class Jack Teixeira, a junior enlisted member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard may have had access to some of the country's secrets and striking that the leaked material first surfaced online in a venue widely used by gamers in a group the suspect led, possibly for the benefit of just a few dozen members.
So a lot to cover tonight. CNN's Jason Carroll starts us off in the suspect's hometown.
So how did authorities identify this person and how did the arrest unfold?
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, let's start with the arrest, Anderson. It happened here in Dighton, Massachusetts, just south of Boston.
You can see law enforcement still here on Maple Street. This is the street where the suspect, Jack Teixeira lived with his mother. The arrest went down late this afternoon. Cameras were up above as it all happened.
You could see the suspect being taken into custody by the FBI, hands above his head, wearing red shorts, slowly backing into the custody of FBI agents.
I also want to let you know what we know about the suspect so far.
His full name, Jack Douglas Teixeira. He is 21 years old, member of the Air National Guard, Airman First Class. His duty title: Cyber transport systems journeyman, basically an IT specialist.
He entered the Air National Guard back in September 26, 2019. One of his friends, telling my colleague, Evan Perez that he was recruited into the Air National Guard back when he was in high school.
Also, as you were mentioning, he was the leader of this online group on Discord where they shared mutual information that they were interested in, things like gaming, guns, also sharing racial memes, and according to what Federal investigators are saying, he also shared a great deal of confidential information -- classified information.
Now the questions come why someone in his position and his rank had access to this type of classified information? This is something that those inside and outside the Intelligence Community are going to be discussing for some time.
Meanwhile, his legal troubles are now just beginning -- Anderson.
COOPER: What are the next steps in the case, I mean, now that he's in custody?
CARROLL: Right, right. So tonight, theoretically, he will be processed in custody of US Marshals. Tomorrow, he'll have his initial Court appearance, that will be in front of a Federal Judge at the US District Court in Boston. He will be informed of the charges against him.
Likely, he'll be also advised of his rights, but what will be of keen interest again, as when he is informed of the charges against him, and that is when we are really going to be hearing how serious this is, and the number of charges he's going to end up facing -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. Jason Carroll, appreciate it. Thanks, Jason.
For more now on the steps being taken to tighten security as well as what we're learning about how it failed and how this all unfolded, I want to go to CNN national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto.
So Jim, is it clear how someone of this age and rank would have access to some of the United States' most sensitive Intelligence?
JIM SCIUTTO CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Listen, Anderson, the phrase "need to know" comes to mind, not clear what his need to know was, 21 years old, Airman First Class, third lowest rank for the Massachusetts National Guard. But there is also a detection question here for the number of weeks
that this information was out there unprotected. The Defense Department of the Intelligence Agencies has the biggest number of people with security clearances that what might allow them access to these documents, and they've run into problems before.
You'll remember the Chelsea Manning, and one of the discoveries from that case was just how many people have access. They tried to institute some changes in the wake of that. One thing to prevent outside flash drives from being allowed to enter department computers. Also, things like monitoring searches, and seeing what is actually printed out.
But clearly those measures put in place after Chelsea Manning did not work here, and we are learning tonight that the Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has already called for yet another review of what kinds of people have access to this and why.
COOPER: And what about this person's motivation, not just to take the documents, but to distribute them to this little chat group online.
SCIUTTO: Generally, it falls into four categories. They use an acronym MICE for this and those four categories are money, ideology, coercion, a foreign power or someone who has the goods on you, for instance, but also ego. It's not clear here.
I mean, you have a young man, part of a group where they may have just been some simple boasting going on, right? Here is what I know, and sharing it in that context, but that's going to be one of the first things that goes on here, right? Interrogation to figure out as we're watching the pictures there of his arrest there, exactly what motivated him to do this?
COOPER: And do government officials have a full grasp yet on the damage assessment?
SCIUTTO: You know, they don't. But I've spoken to people involved and the number of categories of information involved here, and the timeliness of those categories is hugely concerning. Just look at the information that relates to the Ukraine war: US assessments of the planned Ukrainian counteroffensive. The facts, according to these documents, that there are Special Forces for a number of countries including the US on the ground, though a small number in Ukraine.
Things like Egypt, considering supplying weapons to Russia, but also other categories. Chinese progress on hypersonic missile tests, for instance. This shows the broad category here, but that also reveals things to our adversaries, what we know what the US knows, but also how they might know that so that these countries can try to plug holes perhaps here, but it's not good -- Anderson.
COOPER: Jim Sciutto, appreciate it. Thanks so much. Some perspective now from a counterintelligence veteran. former FBI
Deputy Director, Andrew McCabe. He is currently CNN senior law enforcement analyst. Also serving Air National Guardsman, Lieutenant Colonel Adam Kinzinger, CNN senior political commentator, former Illinois Republican Congressman.
Andrew, a source telling CNN the suspect in this case was under surveillance for at least a couple of days before his arrest. Does it surprise you that, I mean, given what you know about National Security that someone at this rank would have access like this?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: It's a little curious, Anderson, it's not -- I don't think it's unprecedented, and we still have a lot to learn about exactly how this individual came in contact with these pieces of Intelligence. It may be that he had a security access to a certain level because he needed as a as a cyber kind of IT person, he needed access to the systems that needed maintenance and SCIFs in other areas where Intelligence is processed.
But he may not have been the actual designated recipient of any of these pieces of Intelligence, he may have pulled them out of the burn bags or taken them off people's desks and then used them for his own purpose.
So we really have a lot to learn going forward about exactly how this guy went about what he did.
COOPER: Congressman, given, you're a member of the Air National Guard, I mean, does it surprise you that someone of his age and rank would have this access?
ADAM KINZINGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think what you just heard from Andrew was probably pretty accurate, which is my guess would be so initially, when I heard about this, I assumed he worked in the vault. We call the SCIF, the vault in the military side of it on the pilot side, or that he was like an Intel troop.
The fact that he was cyber leads me to believe he either had access to the vault, or as Andrew suggested he had access to those systems, but likely was not necessarily given the ability to see that, he just knew how to do it. That's quite possible. We don't know.
But look, I mean, it's kind of a Catch 22 here because it is important, you know, it's important for people to recognize, the Air National Guard is the Air Force. It is not a different thing.
And so anything the Air Force needs, the Air National Guard needs, and so some of that is Intel around the world, different areas. You know, I fly an RC-26, we do a lot of counter drugs, so we need to know a little about cartels and what's going on in South America, and so that stuff is important.
I'm not sure though that every military unit needs to know the high level details, for instance of you know, how much air defense is left in Ukraine. I'm not sure why that's a benefit for a fighter unit. So certainly, we need to, I think, go back and go over what is the
Intel that's present, but also at the same time, let's not hamstring our ability to fight a war because of this weak link in that chain.
COOPER: Andrew, how difficult an investigation do you think this was, tracking down someone based on the images posted online? How difficult could it be to monitor for more leaks like this?
MCCABE: Well conducting this investigation, my sense is it probably wasn't that difficult simply because based on the open source reporting we've heard, as soon as they knew where this stuff originated on that Discord channel, that gives the bureau a lot of cyber forensic leads that they can pursue to identify the people who are participants in that channel, and then just kind of start ruling them out one by one.
So, it sounds like that's what they went through. I think they did the right thing by surveilling him before disrupting him because you really want to see, you want to see that person communicate, you want to see who they meet with, what they do before you stop them to be able to conclusively rule out whether or not they're actually working for a foreign power.
As for the appearance of that material in that Discord channel, the idea that the government is going to effectively monitor every private channel across the Internet is just -- that is not going to happen and that is quite frankly not something that any of us would want to happen.
We don't monitor the Internet in this country, unless, of course, someone in that channel was already under an investigation as a predicated subject of investigation, you might be able to do that with Court authorized surveillance.
But, you know, the military or the Intelligence Committee is not out there looking for pieces of Intelligence on every corner of the Internet.
COOPER: Congressman, I mean, Jim Sciutto mentioned a few minutes ago, motivations for leaks usually fall under one of four categories money, ideology, compromise, or ego. Does ego sort of seem like the most likely factor here based on what we know so far, I mean?
KINZINGER: Yes. A hundred percent. I mean, it was -- you know, initially, I kind of thought maybe it's ideology. So maybe there are reports a little that he's kind of anti-government, maybe anti the Russian war, but it sounds like he was just trying to impress his buddies.
And look, you know, a 21-year-old with access to this intel, most people would be kind of proud they have access to the Intel assuming he was actually authorized to have it. But you know, keep that secret, right? It's a tough secret to keep, but you keep it. He seems like he wanted, you know, approval from the 20 guys he had on
this server, and it sounds like as I've read one person have that actually then spread that material on to a different area and it just blew up from there and it is terrible.
I mean, look just like Edward Snowden, this is a massive kind of breach of our Intelligence, and it could easily cost human lives just because of one kid's ego.
COOPER: Andrew, other members of the suspect's online group have implied that not all the documents he posted may have come to light. What could that mean for who the legal process could play out?
MCCABE: Well, you know, that's really the phase of the investigation they are in now, right? They're executing search warrants at that, I understand he lived part time with both of his parents in different places, his work location, things like that. They're going to be going through every device this guy ever touched to see if there are additional documents that we're not aware of yet that have been squirreled away somewhere.
So that's really a big part of the investigation now, is that damage assessment, and part of that is trying to scrape up all the classified that spilled anywhere, and really get it back under control.
He, of course, will face really significant criminal penalties for all of this. Ironically enough, he has a lot of information that the government needs at this point. So, he will have the opportunity to cooperate in the criminal prosecution process and that could gain him some advantage in reduced charges or reduced sentencing because quite frankly, we need to know how he got it.
COOPER: How long do you think he could serve time, assuming he is found guilty?
MCCABE: You know, violations of the Espionage Act, which he could be looking at a few of those are all punishable by 10 years in prison, violation of 1924, which is unauthorized removal and retention of classified is another five years. So, it really depends on how aggressively they charge him. Those things can stack up pretty quick.
COOPER: Andrew McCabe, Adam Kinzinger, thanks so much. Appreciate it.
Coming up next, the former President back in Manhattan facing yet another legal threat today, the latest on the answers he gave in a fraud case that if he loses could mean the end of his family business in the State of New York. That, and how he has conducted himself during these depositions in the past.
And later, a mixed ruling on the abortion pill that is likely headed now to the Supreme Court after the Justice Department weighed in later today.
COOPER: The former President sat nearly seven hours today for a deposition in a New York fraud case where laws could mean the end of his family business in the State. As you're very aware, the former President is facing a lot of investigations right now involving the 2020 election, classified documents, the alleged hush money scheme among others, and it can get a little confusing.
In the New York fraud case, he was deposed for today. The State's Attorney General is alleging, and he denies, that he and his children his company gave false financial statements to enrich themselves.
In addition to barring the former President and his three oldest children from serving as executives in New York, the suit is also seeking $250 million.
CNN's Kara Scannell joins us now with more.
So the last time the former President was deposed by Letitia James' office, he pled the fifth, I think more than 400 times. Do we know what happened today?
KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, sources tell us that over the nearly seven hours, the former President answered all the questions that were posed to him. These are questions about his business, how he valued some of these assets, including Mar-a-Lago, Trump Tower and other properties.
And we're also told by sources that the New York Attorney General Letitia James herself was in the deposition. So another time putting these two rivals head-to-head as they've been sparring for years over this investigation, which led to the lawsuit in September.
Now, we're also told that, you know, this marks a shift in the strategy, as you said, the former President did not answer questions back in August when he was deposed, then he has -- then the lawsuit was filed, and now they're in this discovery process.
Now, as this case is heading toward trial, at a trial, a jury could have what is known as an adverse interest, that is to hold everything that Trump has declined to answer to against him, that goes to the heart of this lawsuit.
So this is a strategic move by Trump's team to now answer questions, although it is not without risk, because the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, which announced the criminal charges involving the hush money payments last month, they are still investigating the same issues that are at play in the civil lawsuit, that's the accuracy of these financial statements.
So it's a suggestion by the Trump team that they feel strongly that they've got a good case, that they can't -- he can't incriminate himself from the Federal prosecutor's standpoint and their burden of proof, but it certainly is a risky gamble that they made today -- Anderson.
COOPER: What's at stake for the former President's business.
SCANNELL: Right. So as you said, this is a lawsuit that they filed where they're seeking $250 million. Now, the Trump Organization is a large company. It owns a lot of real estate, some steady properties that have a lot of steady income, but they are also, as part of this, if they were to succeed in the lawsuit, they are looking to ban the Trump family members from doing certain types of real estate and other business transactions in New York. This is the home base of Donald Trump's business empire. It's where he built you know, Trump Tower and owns leases at this skyscraper behind me on Wall Street.
So significant at stake here even though the former President has moved to Florida. It is still the place where he built his fortune and his family business is still run out of here. So certainly, it could be a lot of significant changes if James were to win this case -- Anderson.
COOPER: Kara Scannell, appreciate it. Thank you.
If you're wondering what the former President is like when he's being deposed, there's a history here to look back on.
CNN's Randi Kaye has done just that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Trump, what did you do to prepare for today's examination?
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Very little.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Former President Donald Trump being deposed by attorneys from the New York Attorney General's office in August 2022. The deposition is part of Attorney General Letitia James' $250 million civil lawsuit against Trump, three of his children, and his company for allegedly taking part in a more than decade long fraud.
Throughout the deposition, Trump who once said, if you're innocent, why would you take the fifth did exactly that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Trump, I take it you are not going to answer any question?
TRUMP: I decline to answer the question.
I decline to answer the question.
Yes, I decline to answer the question.
KAYE (voice over): More than 400 questions were posed to Trump over several hours, he refused to answer a single one, invoking his right against self-incrimination.
He did read a statement though, and with James sitting to his side just off camera, he boldly used it to attack her. TRUMP: We cannot permit a renegade and out-of-control prosecutor to
use this investigation as a means of advancing her political career.
GLENN ZEITZ, DEPOSED DONALD TRUMP IN THE 1990S: He was like a pot that he started off, okay, like simmer, and then slowly the pot was boiling and boiling and boiling.
KAYE (voice over): Attorney Glenn Zeitz knows Trump's deposition style. He deposed Trump in the 1990s in a case involving eminent domain, Trump was trying to take possession of an elderly widow's home in Atlantic City to use it as a parking lot for his casino's limousines.
Zeitz told me during our 2018 interview that it wasn't uncommon for Trump to insult those deposing him.
KAYE (on camera): How would you describe his technique?
ZEITZ: We call it a non-responsive answer. He will add things on. He will make self-serving statements. He'll shuck and jive. If I asked Donald a question, I say, Donald, what time is? He'd probably tell me how to build a clock.
KAYE (voice over): In this deposition from 2015 when Trump was being sued for fraud in the Trump University case, Trump claimed he couldn't remember names of instructors, despite one saying this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You stated that he was one of the best instructors in the world.
TRUMP: I don't know that I used those -- that expression.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
TRUMP: Where? Could I see?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can play the video of the report -- the reporting on it.
TRUMP: Did I say have a great memory or one of best in the world?
KAYE (voice over): At one point, Trump was confronted about the university lying to prospective students claiming instructors had special access to Trump himself, but Trump refused to call it a lie.
TRUMP: But I would say it's innocent hyperbole.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A hyperbole. This is kind of like the same thing as saying something's not accurate, right?
You're talking about something that's not -- something is false.
TRUMP: Well, I didn't have dinner with him. I could see it being hyperbolic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it a false statement? If these folks had dinner with you when they did not, correct?
TRUMP: I think it's hyperbole.
KAYE (voice over): Zeitz said one of the biggest challenges deposing Trump is trying to figure out if he is grossly unprepared or deliberately evasive.
ZEITZ: The problem is trying to figure out are the answers a deliberate lie or are they a product of someone who is indifferent to the facts.
KAYE (voice over): Randi Kaye, CNN, Palm Beach, Florida.
COOPER: Well, stay tuned tonight at nine Eastern on "CNN Primetime." Kaitlan Collins gets reaction on the Trump deposition, the Intelligence leaks story from former Attorney General William Barr. Again, that's nine Eastern right here with Kaitlan Collins.
Next for us, abortion and developments on several fronts, how Florida lawmakers just voted on becoming one of the most restrictive States in the country, and the very latest on the Appeals Court ruling on a widely used abortion drug and what might happen when the case goes to the Supreme Court.
COOPER: Major developments tonight on abortion access with Florida's House late today passing a six-week abortion ban. It now goes to Gov. Ron DeSantis who is expected to sign it.
This capped today that began with the US Fifth Circuit Appeals Court issuing a mixed ruling on a Texas Judge's order that would have suspended FDA approval of the abortion drug, mifepristone.
The Fifth Circuit's ruling freezes the Judge's suspension order, but buys into a key piece in his legal reasoning about the plaintiffs having suffered enough concrete harm to have standing to bring the case at all.
It also left intact parts of the ruling, which limit access to the drug, namely the Judge's block on a 2016 and 2021 revisions to the drugs approval, making it available to 10 weeks into pregnancy instead of seven and by mail.
Now earlier this evening, Attorney General Garland said the Justice Department will appeal to the Supreme Court and a Federal Judge in Washington State clarified and underscored his ruling barring the FDA from making any moves to restrict access to mifepristone in 17 States and the District of Columbia.
Joining us now CNN anchor and senior legal analyst, Laura Coates; also back with us, Dr. Jennifer Conti who teaches Obstetrics and Gynecology at Stanford University School of Medicine.
Dr. Conti, obviously, a lot depends on what the Supreme Court does or does not do, but what are the possible implications that you're focused on tonight.
DR. JENNIFER CONTI, PROFESSOR OF OBSTETRICS AND GYNECOLOGY AT STANFORD UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Thank you, Anderson.
So there are three really big things to sort of keep in mind when you consider mifepristone and how it was originally approved in 2000, and how we use it in this current day, and one of them is how far along in pregnancy you can use it.
So originally, the FDA approved mifepristone through seven weeks of pregnancy. The FDA has approved it more recently through 10 weeks and evidence-based medicine has actually shown us that we can use it up to 11 weeks of pregnancy.
So this really will set back by at least three to four weeks, the number or the amount of time that people can access abortion care. If you think about in a lot of these States where surgical abortion is limited, this is essentially one of the only options left.
The other thing that it really puts a damper on is telehealth prescribing. So right now, especially in 2021, when the FDA, you know updated the protocol with COVID, we were able to prescribe medication abortion through telehealth services and that no longer will exist.
And then the third part, and this part just blows my mind is that it will bring us back to the original dosing of mifepristone which was 600 milligrams of mifepristone as opposed to the 200 milligrams that we've been using recently.
So if the anti-choice side is arguing that they are putting, you know, bans on this medication in place because of the safety of this very safe medication, how then is it OK that tomorrow we are asked to prescribe three times the amount that was originally?
COOPER: And that three time -- I mean, the reason the dosing has been reduced is it's proved to be effective and why expose people to more medicine if you don't need to? Is that what you're saying?
CONTI: Exactly. It's not that it's unsafe to use a higher dose, it's just that it's not needed. And so why use more medication than you need to?
TAPPER: Laura, I'm wondering what you made of the appeals court ruling. They really took the FDA to task in certain portions.
LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR: They did. So this is kind of a mixture here. On the one hand, they're saying that the Texas judge is wrong to essentially roll back the clock all the way to 2000 because they have essentially said it's been too long, it's been in the market, it's been relied upon. There are significant public consequences. The idea of going back to 2000 is far too long. But the idea of 2016 as Doctor alluded to seems to be the fair game. And so they're saying, look, you can have this on the market, but we're going to roll back and make it harder for people to have access. Not just why the Doctor described, but also having to get it in person, not allowing it to come in the mail as well, and possibly having to visit the doctor's office up to three times.
And this is going to open a whole Pandora's box of things. Unlike the normal conversations, Anderson, around abortion, whether you are in favor of it or against it, we're now in the territory of administrative law. We're now in the territory of powerful pharmaceutical companies who are going to say, hold on a second.
If this drug is fair game for being considered not to be authorized, I got to tell you, there are thousands of other drugs that there will be a chilling effect on innovation, on marketability, on unwillingness to invest in them. And if you say Supreme Court, which is ultimately where it's going to go, if the Supreme Court decides that a single judge or multiple judges are able to undermine and usurp the authority of the -- authority in the agency of the FDA, everything seems to be fair game.
This might come down to a very nuanced part of the law about who has deference, who should be deferred to in their decision making authorities, and very little to do with the political and social discussions surrounding abortion themselves.
COOPER: And Doctor, I mean, we've heard about doctors in certain states stockpiling the drug in advance of a final court decision. What other ways is this uncertainty impacting healthcare providers and patients?
CONTI: I mean, this is like, honestly, a game of hockey where you have no idea where the puck is. It's -- patients and providers shouldn't be panicking day to day trying to figure out what the law is today and how it's going to change tomorrow. And that's exactly what it's doing. It's causing a lot of confusion and chaos, which is exactly the point.
COOPER: And, Laura, you know, we mentioned the Washington State judge who issued a ruling last week that upheld the drugs available in 17 states plus Washington, D.C. That judge has now reaffirmed that order. I'm going to get more into the Supreme Court piece of this in a moment with Nina Totenberg, but how unusual is it to have these conflicting rulings from different federal courts on such a specific issue at the same time?
COATES: Well, in some instances, our system is built to be able to withstand these dueling different decisions. One of the reasons the Supreme Court will often take cases is because they need to clarify when there is this duel going on. But make no mistake, it's not a coincidence that there are cases being brought in places like this specific district in Texas and also being challenged in other places across this country.
And so a lot of this was foreseeable. The timing of it as it came down and the opinions coming down, I doubt where it all coordinated. But it also tells you, this is exactly why it'll be the fast track, because the nation can't really rely on what to do on the status quo at this point in time.
Remember, that Washington case didn't apply everywhere. It applied only to those states where the attorneys general for those states actually brought a case, which means talking about 16 plus Washington, D.C. There are 50 states in this union. And so where there will be conflict, the courts got to come in and address it, but they're going to have to come down to again.
When you're talking about the Dobbs decision in Roe v. Wade, that was a constitutional matter, the constitutional right to have access to abortion. This will be far more administrative about whether you are going to give deference to an agency or not.
COOPER: Yes. Laura Coates. Dr. Conti, I appreciate it. Thank you very much.
Again, because it's going to the Supreme Court, we're joined by legendary reporter on and an analyst of the court, NPR Legal Affairs Correspondent Nina Totenberg. Thanks so much for being with us.
You said earlier this week that the judge's ruling in Texas was a, quote, radical decision. I'm wondering what you make of the fact that the appeals court froze only parts of his ruling and seemed to kind of go out of their way to echo some of his language and rebuke the FDA.
NINA TOTENBERG, NPR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Oh, I would say that the Fifth Circuit sided as much with him as it could. What it couldn't do was deal -- uphold what he -- the decision he made, saying that the original FDA approval could still be challenged 23 years later. There's a statute of limitations in the law, and you can't get around a statute of limitations.
So they said, OK, for seven weeks, you can have this drug available. Where it can possibly be available? What the Fifth Circuit did was mainly side with the Texas judge, and also some seek to, I think, keep an appellate decision for itself. And I can't imagine the Supreme Court will say, well, that's fine, but of course, it's hard to know what this court's going to do.
COOPER: Yes. I mean, so Justice Department, they're asking the Supreme Court to intervene. First of all, when do you think that would playout and how do you think it might play out?
TOTENBERG: Well, I think it's going to playout to some limited extent pretty fast. So the, you know, the Justice Department has already filed briefs in the Fifth Circuit so it can rework some of those briefs. It's already told the Supreme Court, we're coming up here.
And if they can get something up even before Saturday, then there will be what's called an administrative stay while the court asks for the other side to respond and then gives itself time to decide how it wants to proceed. You know, we're almost at the end of the court term.
They have a lot of big cases they're trying to grind out, and they're unusually behind, very much behind, way behind any other term in modern memory. So do they want to put this on an expedited basis in front of them right now and add it to an already very big load? Or do they want to grant a stay and say, we're going to hear this in all due time and consideration in the fall when the court resumes for the next term?
But for now, the status quo, which was the status quo before the judge in Texas ruled, will remain the status quo because everything he did and everything that the Fifth Circuit did were going to put on hold. Or they could do some permutation of that. A permutation would wreak further chaos, I suspect, and the court has to know that.
So I don't know how they're going to view this. Whether they want to get this done and done it -- done fast, or they want to take some time to think about it. And --
COOPER: Why are they so far behind right now? Do you know?
TOTENBERG: No, I don't know. There are some theories that it's because of the way that the new rules that they have for handling draft opinions jobs (ph) leak fully account for it. I mean, this is a court that is quite clearly, even among conservatives, divided itself.
So while some opinions will be six-three and they'll be very clear and it'll be just fine, from their point of view, others, there are lots of other cases and they're big and important cases. They're not as high profile perhaps, but they involve billions of dollars. They involve all kinds of questions and they are very behind and I think they don't particularly get along very well at the moment. And that's showing.
COOPER: It's fascinating. Nina Totenberg, it's so good to have you on. Thank you.
TOTENBERG: Thank you.
COOPER: Still ahead, Texas county threatened to shutdown its libraries just to keep books that were once banned off the shelves. Their decision, next.
COOPER: New developments tonight in a small Texas county's fight to keep books. Some residents and lawmakers found controversial off library shelves. Officials in Llano County, Texas, threatened to entirely closedown its library system after a judge ordered they must return the books back to libraries.
The books in question were initially removed because of their LGBTQ and racial content. According to one official, the county spent more than $100,000 in legal fees. He says the county's total library budget is only $450,000. But tonight, they voted to keep the libraries in operation for now.
CNN's Ed Lavandera has details.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The crowds appeared after word spread this week that Llano County commissioners were considering shutting down all of its public libraries. Most people couldn't get into the meeting.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does Llano, Texas want to be known as the town that closed the public library? That would begin the death knell for a vibrant community.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am for closing libraries, and we get this stuff off the shelf.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Fights over book bans have erupted all over the country, but the threat of shutting down libraries over the issue catapulted this Texas Hill Country community into an unchartered political firestorm, leaving some residents tearful.
RANDY LEIFESTE, LLANO COUNTY RESIDENT: Keep the library open at all cost. At all cost. If the library dies, part of me dies.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): The Llano Library saga started when a group of residents pushed to get 17 books removed from the shelves. The titles included "Caste" by Pulitzer Prize winning author Isabel Wilkerson. They called themselves the KKK, the Birth of an American Terrorist Group. "Being Jazz: My Life as a Transgender Teen," and some children's books that have farts and butts in the titles.
Suzette Baker is the former Llano librarian who was fired last year by county officials for refusing to remove the books.
SUZETTE BAKER, FMR. LIBRARIAN IN LLANO COUNTY: I would like to know how the history of the KKK is pornographic. How to be an antiracist? How's that pornographic? It's not. This is about taking away rights.
LAVANDERA (on-camera): Some of the critics of these books have described them as pornographic and inappropriate for children. What do you say to that?
LEILA GREEN LITTLE, PLAINTIFF IN 2022 LAWSUIT: There's nothing pornographic or obscene in them. And so I think to frame it as that, is just wrong.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Last year, Leila Green Little and six other Llano residents sued county officials to get the books put back in the libraries. Last month, they won support from a federal judge who said the books should be reinstated. Llano county commissioners reluctantly complied, but also took the unprecedented step of debating whether to close the library. GREEN LITTLE: These libraries are so important. And for the county to threaten closure of three branches of the county's library system, all because of a ruling on a lawsuit, is absurd.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Most of those supporting the removal of the books are now focused on what they say are several hundred other books filled with sexually explicit material.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The problem is the 250 that are still on the shelf. We cannot have this stuff in here.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): County commissioners walked away from closing the libraries for now.
RON CUNNINGHAM, LLANO COUNTY JUDGE: The library will remain open. We will try this in the courts, not through social media or through news media.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): But the library fight has exposed deep rooted divides. Many see it as a battle of good versus evil.
ERVIN LIGHT, LLANO COUNTY RESIDENT: And I believe that if people that are pushing this kind of thing and they're going to wind up in the lake of fire forever and ever and ever, and that's a long time.
LAVANDERA (on-camera): Has there been a lot of backlash for you?
GREEN LITTLE: Absolutely.
LAVANDERA (on-camera): In what way?
GREEN LITTLE: Socially. There have been a lot of friendships that have ended because of this. This is not something that I undertook lightly because I knew the consequences.
COOPER: Ed Lavandera joins us now from Llano, Texas. And this is remarkable. Does the decision to keep the libraries open, I mean, the larger issue -- I mean, clearly, the larger issue of book banning in that county is not put to rest. I mean, it seems like there'll be more lawsuits.
LAVANDERA: Yes, I think that's what was clear today is that this fight has changed. Originally, as we mentioned, all of this started as a fight over 17 books. But many of the objections that were raised by the opposition today had nothing to do with those initial 17 books.
They raised objections about other books that they say totals more than several hundred others that they're concerned about. And several people that we spoke with today, Anderson, said that they would support the closing of the library in the future if those books aren't removed down the road.
COOPER: By the way, many of these people have not actually read the books in question. They've just been given a list, or they've seen a list online that some organization says are offensive, and they're going by that. So it's remarkable.
Ed Lavandera, appreciate it. Thank you.
Just ahead, a suspect arrested in the murder of a well-known tech executive, Bob Lee, founder of Cash App. His murder sparked intense conversation about crime in San Francisco. Police now say that Lee knew the man who allegedly killed him. More details next.
COOPER: San Francisco police arrested a man in connection with the murder of a well-known tech executive, Bob lee, more than a week ago. Lee, who was stabbed repeatedly, was the founder of the mobile payment service Cash App. The murder sparked national debate about crime in San Francisco. Now the police said the suspect is someone that Lee actually knew.
CNN's Veronica Miracle has the latest.
VERONICA MIRACLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nine days after the stabbing death of Cash App founder Bob Lee in San Francisco.
BROOKE JENKINS, SAN FRANCISCO DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Mr. Lee's killer has been identified, arrested and now will be brought to justice.
MIRACLE (voice-over): The suspect, 38-year-old Nima Momeni was booked on a murder charge early Thursday.
CHIEF BILL SCOTT, SAN FRANCISCO POLICE: We are confident in the evidence that we have found so far. Mr. Momeni is our focus and a single suspect in this case.
MIRACLE (voice-over): Momeni's online profiles identify him as an I.T. consultant and police say Lee's murder was not a random act.
SCOTT: We followed the evidence and there is a lot of evidence. The evidence shows that they knew each other.
MIRACLE (voice-over): The final moments of Robert Lee's life were captured by surveillance video posted by the Daily Mail before the police had access to it, according to the police chief and show the 43-year-old tech executive in the early morning hours of April 4th suffering from stab injuries and looking for assistance.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a male screaming help, saying, someone stabbed me. Advised he's bleeding out.
SCOTT: This is not about San Francisco.
MIRACLE (voice-over): The murder sparked renewed outrage over crime in San Francisco, frustrating local officials.
SCOTT: This is about human nature, like many homicides are and many murders are and could have happened anywhere.
MIRACLE (voice-over): The district attorney expressed frustration that the city was unfairly maligned in this case, calling out a tweet by Elon Musk.
JENKINS: Reckless and irresponsible statements like those contained in Mr. Musk's tweet that assumed incorrect circumstances about Mr. Lee's death serve to mislead the world in their perceptions of San Francisco and also negatively impact the pursuit of justice for victims of crime.
MIRACLE (voice-over): The mayor assured constituents that combating crime is a top priority.
MAYOR LONDON BREED (D), SAN FRANCISCO, CA: That is our goal to make San Francisco a better, more safer city for each and every one of us.
MIRACLE (voice-over): But the police chief said their first priority is finding justice for victims and their families.
SCOTT: We have to keep the bigger picture in mind that this is a case with a man that lost his life, who has people who love him, that care about him, that deserve justice.
COOPER: And Veronica Miracle joins us now from San Francisco. What were you learning about the suspect?
MIRACLE: Well, Anderson, we spoke to somebody who works in the same office building as Momeni, who described him as very kind, very generous with his time and very bright. Momeni now faces a murder charge and an enhancement for using a knife in this murder, that's according to the district attorney. He'll be arraigned here tomorrow in San Francisco in the afternoon. Anderson?
COOPER: All right. Veronica Miracle, thanks.
Just ahead, Fort Lauderdale experiencing a one in a thousand year rain event. Details on the deluge (ph) is next.
COOPER: A flash flood warning for Fort Lauderdale was just extended for this evening, a day after the city experienced the rainiest day in its history. What's being called a one in a thousand year rainfall event. Flash floods have closed schools, forced drivers to abandon cars.
City officials are warning people to stay off the roads. Moments ago, the city said about 600 were brought to emergency shelters. The intense rains have also forced the local airport to shut down through at least tomorrow morning. During the peak of Wednesday's flooding, a month's worth of rain fell in just 1 hour. Imagine that. All told, early estimates suggest that Fort Lauderdale saw more than 25 inches of rain in just one 24-hour period, with more rain still expected.
That's it for us, the news continues. "CNN PRIMETIME" with Kaitlan Collins starts now. Kaitlan?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Anderson, thank you so much.
Tonight, we are following a dramatic turn in one of the most significant at leaks in Pentagon history.
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