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Biden: Draft Opinion Calls Into Question Many "Basic Rights"; Mariupol Evacuees Reach Safely In Zaporizhzhia; Polls Open In Ohio And Indiana Primaries. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired May 03, 2022 - 11:30   ET



BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN ANCHOR: I want to bring back in Elizabeth -- Senator Elizabeth Warren to get her to respond to what we just heard from the president specifically, on the fact that that codifying Roe makes a lot of sense, but not delving deeper into the filibuster.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): All right, I've been on the record for a very long time that we need to get rid of the filibuster, and Roe is just Exhibit A, for the reason for that. The latest data suggests that about 69 percent of Americans, and that's Americans everywhere. Not just Democrats, 69 percent of Americans.

Red states and blue states, young people, old people want to see Roe preserved as the law of the land. When 69 percent of Americans in a democracy want to see something happen, you'd think we'd be able, at least to get a vote on the floor of the Senate on that question. But the filibuster prevents us from doing that, in the same way, that historically the filibuster was used to prevent us from getting to the civil rights laws, to get us -- prevent us from getting to anti- lynching laws, it prevents us from having a vote on the fundamental question of whether or not a woman has a right to seek an abortion in America.

And so, for me, that is the gateway, we have to deal with the filibuster head-on because until we do that, we have handed the Republicans just a veto over anything we want to get done. And understand this is not old, but what happens when the Republicans come back, and if they're in power, wouldn't the shoe be on the other foot? Understand this. The Republicans have had two things that they've been beating the drum now for years.

One, cut taxes for rich people and number two, get an extremist Supreme Court in place to accomplish things like overturning Roe. They've got what they wanted. On the Democratic side, listen, we got to get serious and we got to get tough. And that means we've got to get rid of the filibuster and protect a woman's right to an abortion.

GOLODRYGA: Doesn't that begin, though, with the president supporting getting rid of the filibuster, which he wouldn't do here? I mean, is he enough of an ally to the party on this issue?

WARREN: I think this is where all Democrats should be. I've made this argument. I've been making this argument for years in a democracy. It makes no sense. It is anti-democratic to let a minority continue to control the United States Senate. The filibuster is not in the Constitution, this is a rule that was developed by the Senate. And that means the Senate can get rid of it. And that's exactly what we need to do. We need to get rid of the filibuster, and then affirm what two-thirds of America wants us to do and that is, protect a woman's right to access to an abortion.

GOLODRYGA: Senator Elizabeth Warren, thank you as always, for your time.

WARREN: Thank you.

GOLODRYGA: I'm going to bring back our panel, Jeremy Diamond, Jeffrey Toobin, Gloria Borger, and Joan Biskupic. Jeffrey, let me begin with you. First, your reaction to the president's comments, what he said and what he didn't say?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, what I thought was interesting is he was speaking in a bit of insider code, as a former member of the Senate and former chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He talked about, in 1987, when he was chair of the committee, and Robert Bork was nominated to the court by President Reagan, and he was defeated, in large part because he would not acknowledge that there is a right to privacy in the Constitution. And that's why Biden voted against him. That's why Biden led the fight against him. It was a 58-42 vote against Robert Bork.

I think what this illustrates -- what the draft opinion illustrates is just how much the Republican Party has shifted in recent years because it used to be that there was a very significant core in the Republican Party of pro-abortion rights, pro right to privacy, but that right is eliminated in this draft -- in this draft opinion. The president, I don't think he was particularly clear about it but I think he was saying that the right to privacy is not just about abortion rights, but it's about contraception, it's about sexual relations, it's about marriage, and all of that is in jeopardy with an opinion like this one.

GOLODRYGA: And, Joan, let's not lose sight of just how extraordinary it is to hear the president confirm what we heard from the Chief Justice just moments ago, and that is that the document -- I'm going to just read from him, the document described in yesterday's report is authentic, but does not represent a decision by the court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case.

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN LEGAL ANALYST & SUPREME COURT BIOGRAPHER: You know this is just yet one more extraordinary thing that's happened in the last 24 hours. For the Chief Justice to issue this kind of statement is really remarkable.


BISKUPIC: And to say, the court is saying outright, this document that political obtain is authentic. But the Chief is rightly reinforcing the idea that we don't know what kinds of changes are going to be made to this first draft, I actually suspect that many changes have already been made to it since it was dated February 10, so that part is true.

He also suggested that maybe, you know, votes, you know, might not reflect the true votes. From everything I've picked up you know, I think there is a solid five-justice majority at this point to reverse Roe, but maybe that can change. And that's one thing that our audience and we should all keep in mind that maybe this will not be the ultimate result.

It looks like it's certainly headed that way but that's one caution the court wanted to put on it. Finally, Bianna, the chief says in his statement that was just issued about the leak, he reinforces the idea that the permanent employees at the court, the law clerks, the justices that they are all intensely loyal, and there was almost a suggestion that they wouldn't have done this, there must be someone else who's done it.

And he says that he is enlisting the marshal of the court, who the marshal's office works, essentially for the chief and for the other justices to investigate the source of this disclosure, how it came about. And, you know, we'll see if they are successful.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. That the statement ends with him directing the marshal of the court to launch an investigation into this leak. Let's talk about some of the language we heard from the president, Gloria, calling the decision if it holds radical.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Yes, I think -- I think that was a carefully chosen word. He talked about the underlying premise of all of this, relating to the entirety of your private life. And I think what Biden is trying to do here is to kind of enlarge this and say, look, this is just not about women who seek an abortion, this is about what goes on in your bedroom. This is about whom you want to marry.

And so you have to take a look at this in its entirety and say, do we want to go back there when there was no gay marriage, where there was no interracial marriage? And do we want to go back to that after 50 years of women having a right, and now it is being taken away? So if you ever needed any hint about what the Democrats intend to do with this and how Joe Biden intends to approach this, it is to broaden on this too as much of the American public as they possibly can and portray it as something radical that is going backwards and not forward.

TOOBIN: Can I -- Can I just ask? I was actually struck by it. And, Gloria, tell me if I'm wrong --

BORGER: Always.

TOOBIN: I thought the president seems -- he seems uncomfortable talking about abortion.

BORGER: He is.

TOOBIN: I thought he was -- he was -- he was trying to talk about other things, as opposed to what this decision is really about? This decision is about whether women can get an abortion?

BORGER: Well, you know, he --

TOOBIN: Yes, there are implications for other issues down the line, but to the day this opinion comes out, means abortion rights will be cut off for millions and millions of women.

BORGER: Right.

TOOBIN: And that he just -- you know, he comes out of the tradition --

BORGER: He's never been com -- he's never.

TOOBIN: He's never -- right. Yes.

BORGER: He's never been comfortable with it. He's a devout Catholic. He has been on both sides of the issue, as you know, early on in his career, Democrats have complained, and Jeremy can talk about this, that he doesn't use the word abortion. And don't forget his history, as you were pointing out, which is with Robert Bork.

And he's much more comfortable talking about Robert Bork and how he defeated that nomination on the -- on the question of privacy. And that is what the question of abortion became. And so that's his terra firma, not the issue of abortion itself. And so he did want to expand it but you know, this has always been an issue through Biden's entire career.

GOLODRYGA: But can I just jump in and ask if anyone was sort of as surprised as I am? Listen, this is just less than 24 hours ago that we heard this bombshell revelation, Jeremy Diamond, and yet instead of allowing the country to digest what would be a monumental shift after 50 years of law, the president is coming out of the gate they're saying that this would apply to other rights as well. Talk about that, the notion that he perhaps isn't uncomfortable talking about this issue specifically.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, I think it is notable how quickly he did go ahead to broaden it out. And while he did say that he hadn't thought yet about how this will affect the midterms, I think Gloria is right that you're starting to see the beginnings of how the president and other Democrats might talk about this issue heading into the midterms.


DIAMOND: Now, in terms of his comfortability talking about abortion, until today, the president had not used the word abortion in his public remarks before. He's talked about reproductive rights. He's talked about a woman's right to choose. Today, he actually did use the word abortion when he said he talks about when -- who you marry whether or not you decide to conceive a child or not, whether or not you can have an abortion, a range of other decisions. That was the president's quote.

And it is the first time that he has used the word abortion. He also used it in his statements earlier today. And you heard the president really going after this decision talking about how profound and radical and how he believes that this decision by the Supreme Court if indeed, this draft opinion is upheld and ultimately released as the decision of the court this summer, how it would go overboard in the president's view.

So, you know, we did hear the president talk about what a fundamental shift this would be after nearly 50 years, but also he does want to broaden this out. He wants to talk about the other privacy implications that could be implied in this decision.

GOLODRYGA: The president is on his way to a javelin production facility in Alabama. We'll see if we hear from him later on in the day when he does land. Thank you all, panel. I really appreciate it. Well, coming up, evacuees from Mariupol arrived in a safer city, but hundreds more remain trapped as Russian shelling continues. A live report from Ukraine is up next.



GOLODRYGA: Now to the latest on the war in Ukraine. The first group of evacuees from the city of Mariupol has reached safety in Zaporizhzhia, but countless others remain trapped in the Mariupol steel plant, facing more shelling by Russian forces.

Joining me now is Igor Zhovkva. He is the chief diplomatic adviser to Ukraine's President, Zelenskyy. Igor, thank you for taking the time to join us. So what can you tell us about the status of the evacuations from both the city of Mariupol in that steel plant, as I noted that there's reporting that Russia is once again launching a powerful assault against that plant?

IGOR ZHOVKVA, CHIEF DIPLOMATIC ADVISER TO PRESIDENT ZELENSKYY: That's true. Just to me, get the after the people -- a part of the civilians were evacuated and the evacuation started as long as the day before yesterday, so those 156 people who manage to arrive to the city of Zaporizhzhia only today. We started the evacuation the day before -- the day before yesterday, but immediately today, they resumed the assault operation and now they're severely shelling the Azovstal steel plant with all possible means by artillery, by missiles, by airstrikes.

And unfortunately, they all reported several dead people because yes, there are still civilians left on the Azovstal steel plant, as well as Ukrainian wounded soldiers are left there. And I will remind you that we propose to exchange the wounded Ukrainian soldiers with wounded Russian soldiers, unfortunately, didn't receive any clear answer from the Russian Federation.

But we certainly hope that the evacuation of civilians will continue both from the steel plant and from the city itself. More than 100,000 civilians are left in the city itself, unfortunately, no possibility for them to evacuate one time (INAUDIBLE).

GOLODRYGA: Igor, do you know how many civilians are left there at that steel plant, specifically children?

ZHOVKVA: Well, according to our estimations, about 200 civilians. I cannot tell you the exact number of the children but certainly, the children are still left there, unfortunately.

GOLODRYGA: I know so much of the focus now turns to May 9, the Victory Day in Russia, and what Vladimir Putin will do to try to claim some sort of victory at this point. CNN is now reporting that Western officials believe he could formally declare war on Ukraine. Clearly, what we've been seeing the past few months is indeed war. But there's also concern about an attempt to take over Moldova. Do you have any indication about what the Kremlin plans to do between now and next Monday?

ZHOVKVA: Well, definitely, I don't have exact Kremlin plans and as far as declaring or not declaring the war is concerned, absolutely, you're right. They're having the war -- the open war since the 24th of February this year. And the aggressive war was started in 2014, and they started to capture Ukrainian Crimea and Ukrainian Donbass.

As far as Moldova is concerned, yes, everyone heard the official statements of some officials that some human rights are simulated in Moldova. Anything happened can happen with Russia especially right to our -- before the ninth of May, they have to give some victory to their population. So they have to -- they have to show them that something good happened on the ground for them, something positive.

The events today in Mariupol is also -- is also connected to these. They want to finally capture the city. This is not still the case. And unfortunately, there are some other possible actions by them to show that, their people, how victorious they are.

GOLODRYGA: How concerned are you that there could be a "sham" referendum in the city of Kherson and there in Donbass in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions there? You had U.S. officials, the ambassador to the OSCE warning of intelligence suggesting just that.


ZHOVKVA: Well, when you fake referendums, and definitely, you cannot have anything else but fake referendums in Kherson, in occupied Donetsk, in occupied Luhansk, or in any other areas or villages or cities occupied, so any referendum will be faked. But when the president was very clear, saying that if in case of any referendum will take place now in any occupied territory, Ukraine will immediately refuse officially from the negotiations with Russian Federation.

GOLODRYGA: Interesting. We have Vladimir Putin said today despite everything in his conversation with Emmanuel Macron, that he's still open to negotiating with Ukraine. We'll see if that will impact that at all. Igor Zhovkva, thank you. We appreciate your time.

ZHOVKVA: Thank you.

GOLODRYGA: And coming up, voters head to the polls in two states today as the prospect of Roe v Wade being overturned dominates headlines, that bullet impact turnout. We'll have details in a live report next.



GOLODRYGA: Happening now, the polls are open in two key states for key primaries ahead of the midterm elections. In Ohio, a crowded Republican primary to replace retiring Senator Rob Portman is expected to be a referendum on Trump's grip on the party. But voters are heading to the polls with the news that the U.S. Supreme Court could soon strike down Roe v Wade. Joining me now is CNN Political Director David Chalian. So David, let's talk about the impact of this decision possibly coming as soon as next month and how this will impact today's vote in Ohio?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: It's a good question. The impact is likely going to be felt much more in a general election context come November with the midterms happening all across the country when you have Democrats and Republicans running against each other. Inside these primaries, inside the Republican Party primary, there's near unanimity in a position here.

So, it's hard to see what the immediate impact today for these voters will be but as you noted, Bianna, one of the things we are watching starting today in this marquee race in the Ohio Republican Senate primary and continuing throughout the month of May are these series of tests, Donald Trump has sort of set up for himself to position himself as the kingmaker, the one with the Midas touch.

Does J.D. Vance, who he backed in this primary, get over the finish line because of that endorsement? That's a question that will go to his continued power and sway in the GOP, Donald Trump that is. What we see in today's news with the court opinion, the draft court opinion that out is -- that is out there is clearly Donald Trump's power in the party, in the country in the past. The question today, as we look at these vote returns, does he still have that kind of power inside his party?

GOLODRYGA: Of course, one of the reasons why the president has made so many choices, right, and picks throughout this campaign is that he can say listen, the numbers are still in my favor, right, when you make so many predictions. Let me ask you in terms of what we see whether it's J.D. Vance, or whether it's Mandel, how does that square against the democratic -- likely a Democratic nominee and that is Tim Ryan?

CHALIAN: It's so interesting because Tim Ryan, as you know, is running as a real populist. He is -- he's running his campaign sort of against China as much as he's running it against a Republican opponent. And what's interesting is that you see a similar populist trend in the Trump era of the Republican Party. So it's not sort of a classic Chamber of Commerce, conservative Republican versus a progressive liberal. It is these two different versions of this economic populism that we have seen out there.

And then, of course, add into that, a lot of the culture wars that we've talked about that has been animating American politics. So whether it is Mandela or Vance, I think that sort of cultural war element and who's got the upper hand on that economic populism, those will be some big themes, given the state of our economy right now, going forward.

GOLODRYGA: Let's go back to the headline story, and that is the possible overturning of Roe that could happen as soon as next month. Given that -- given what you heard, I know earlier from Senator Warren and saying this is the time now, right, to really go at it and in terms of what Democrats are going to focus on. Is this an issue that you think can get Democrats to the polls, given that the majority in this country, not just Democrats, the majority of Republicans and Democrats there, you see are not in favor of overturning Roe?

CHALIAN: Yes. No, certainly this opinion sort of represents a 30 percent slice of the American public, but it has been the animating life force of the Republican Party for the last 50 years. This has driven Republicans to the polls. So your question about will it now that it seems to be on the precipice of being overturned animate Democrats?

Certainly, Democrats are going to hope it does. They're going to lean into it. You heard it from the president. You heard it from Senator Warren. They're looking beyond abortion. They're saying what does this mean for your right to contraception, to same-sex marriage, to interracial marriage? So they're going to try and get their base jazzed up about this. We're going to see if it works.

We know right now, Republicans have had an enthusiasm advantage in all the polling related to the midterms this year, Democrats are a little less enthused about turning out this year. We'll be watching to see does this news now changes that a bit? Obviously, there are still the major issues of inflation, the economy, the president's overall standing that hang over this midterm, but this now was one, Democrats are hoping they can use to enliven and awaken their voters.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. The president saying that he supports in codifying it, that that makes sense. He wouldn't go as far as saying where he is on the filibuster, which was an interesting thing of note today. David Chalian, thank you, as always, we appreciate it.

CHALIAN: Thanks a lot, Bianna. Sure.

GOLODRYGA: And thank you so much for watching. INSIDE POLITICS starts right now.