Return to Transcripts main page

At This Hour

Brittney Griner Hearing Ends Without A Verdict, Will Resume Tomorrow; Grand Jury Indicts Alex Murdaugh For Murders Of Wife & Son; Growing Demand For Monkeypox Vaccine As U.S. Surpasses 1,000 Cases. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired July 14, 2022 - 11:30   ET



JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Tampering unless there was a detailed voicemail left. You know, just the outreach itself won't support a separate criminal charge, but it does two things for the committee. One, it's a shot across the bow, I mean, Liz Cheney is saying, stop messing with our witnesses, and I think that message is likely coming across. And number two, it provides real what prosecutors call consciousness of guilt evidence.

If you don't think you're doing anything wrong, then you don't try to reach out to witnesses who are talking about what you did, and so all of this evidence are putting in about people speaking to Hutchinson telling her to stay loyal, stay on the team, Trump is paying attention, and even this call, even if there was no message left to a lower level staffer from Trump himself, suggests that they know that they did something bad here, so they're using it for that purpose, too.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: So the next hearing is just laid out and is going to focus on the 187 minutes from when the president left the stage at the Ellipse until he made that Rose Garden video, what the president did and didn't do within that amount of time. Before then, I think it is important to look at all that has been learned to this point. You've highlighted a few of what you think are the big takeaways for starting with well, this call that you were just speaking about that we've just discussed and also confirmation that people asked for pardons. Let me remind folks, let me play this.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Miss Hutchinson, did Rudy Giuliani ever suggest that he was interested in receiving a presidential pardon related to January 6?


CHENEY: Miss Hutchison, did the White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows ever indicate that he was interested in receiving a presidential pardon related to January 6?

HUTCHINSON: Mr. Meadows did seek that pardon? Yes, ma'am.


BOLDUAN: Why is this key?

RODGERS: Well, it's key because asking for a pardon is not illegal, but it shows that these guys knew what they were doing was wrong and potentially illegal because they were seeking legal cover for it. So again, I love the way that Liz Cheney kind of drops us at the end when we all think she's just going to summarize and move on. But this was really, really big news. And the American people get it, you don't ask for a pardon unless you understand you may be in legal jeopardy. And so that says a lot about what Mark Meadows and other people thought about their own liability.

BOLDUAN: And then there's Bill Barr. You think that he was surprisingly one of the most scathing witnesses to testify, really, against Trump in his depositions, in his testimony to the committee, what did the public learn from him?

RODGERS: Well, Bill Barr was such a stalwart Trump supporter, I mean, he did a lot to damage the rule of law in this country in the name of helping Trump and so to see him turn on Trump, you know, when he was finished with Trump, he was finished. And so, to say, in very blunt terms that what Trump was peddling in terms of the election lies was BS, and to say it to his face, it does more than just give us a piece of evidence that the president was told this at a critical time. It tells us what Bill Barr thought about all of this.

And so, you have to hope that Republicans out there, supporters of the president see this former loyalist saying there is nothing here, guys, this was completely bogus, and that that resonates a little bit.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And even -- you know, even before January 6, he -- this was -- this was being said, of course. And you also, of course, point to Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony in general. I want to play one of the major pieces of her testimony shining a light on Trump on January 6.


HUTCHINSON: Something to the effect of, take the effing mags away, they're not here to hurt me. Let them in, Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol after the rally is over. They can march from -- they can march from Ellipse. Take the effing mags away then they can march the Capitol.


BOLDUAN: What is the biggest lasting takeaway do you think from what she testified to? What did she show?

RODGERS: I mean, this was the most jaw-dropping piece of the most consequential testimony that we heard. The notion that President Trump was told that these people, his supporters were armed and dangerous, that they had illegal weapons so that they couldn't come any closer because they couldn't go through the metal detectors, and his response was to take the metal detectors away, they're not here to hurt me.

I mean, that tells you not only in a way, by the way, that's admissible in a court of law against the president, that he knew that his supporters were illegally armed with firearms and that they were then going to be riled up by him and sent to the Capitol, but he didn't care. He didn't care about the likely harm that would ensue. And so to me, that is the most consequential testimony we've heard so far.

BOLDUAN: And next up, the 187 minutes. That will be the focus of the next hearing. It's good to see you, Jennifer, thank you so much.

RODGERS: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up until for us. Brittney Griner back in a Russian courtroom after pleading guilty to drug charges, so will Vladimir Putin be releasing the WNBA star anytime soon? New insight on that next.



BOLDUAN: New this morning. WNBA star Brittney Griner appeared in a Russian courtroom again today. The hearing just concluded actually without a verdict. It was Griner's first hearing since pleading guilty to drug possession in a Russian court last week. Griner will return -- be back in the courtroom again tomorrow, her fate in a potential 10- year prison sentence still hanging in the balance.


Joining me now for more on this is Puck's founding partner and Washington correspondent, Julia Ioffe. It's good to see you, Julia.


BOLDUAN: Your piece, I have to say in Puck is fascinating on this, offering an inside look at really what Griner has found herself caught up in. I mean, first and foremost, a Russian legal system that isn't fair, and also that Russia also does not tolerate drugs at all. And what does this mean from your experience for her and what happens now?

IOFFE: Well, what it means, unfortunately, is that Brittney Griner, however, unintentionally stumbled into the law of the Russian justice system, if you can even call it a justice system. Russia has a zero- tolerance policy on drugs. And drug arrests are the number one cause of incarceration for Russian women. So in that way, Brittney Griner has just become like the average Russian woman who gets arrested and goes to jail in Russia.

And unfortunately for her, once you get arrested and it becomes a criminal case, you are basically all but certain to be convicted. 99.1 percent of Russian criminal cases result in a guilty verdict so this is what awaits her and what would have awaited her whether or not she had pled guilty. I think the best-case scenario at this point is either, she gets a suspended sentence, which is essentially probation, but I doubt that will happen. One Russian lawyer I spoke to said six to seven years would not be a bad result for her.

BOLDUAN: Would not be a bad result for her considering what she could be facing. Wow.


BOLDUAN: You know, Bill Richardson is now getting involved and there's this growing push for prisoner swap, which currently is centering on a man named Viktor Bout, an arms dealer dubbed the merchant of death. And Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee from Texas, she has been a vocal advocate for Griner's release and kind of keeping her name out there. I spoke with her about this. And let me play for you what she said.


REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): We have to realize as well, what is the value that we get from maintaining individuals that have been at least a decade in our prisons that have been tried and convicted, and that we've made the point. This arms dealer that we're speaking about was actually hunted down and arrested by us in Thailand.

That angers Mr. Putin because I think there's a personal relationship between the arms dealer and Mr. Putin. So I do think that a swap -- a prison swap that would include this individual that seems to have this relationship and a special concern by Putin to be an individual that could actually bring both Brittney Griner and Paul home.


BOLDUAN: And she's talk about Paul Whelan there, of course. What are you hearing about this?

IOFFE: I'm not hearing about the terms of the offer that the White House has made to the Kremlin, but what I am hearing is that the Russians are in no mood to make a deal and that they have basically not responded to the White House's offer, which is very concerning to the people involved in these negotiations because they worry what this means for Ms. Griner.

If the Russians don't feel like making any kind of swap or any kind of deal, then it doesn't really matter, you know, what the U.S. offers. Personally, I think this will not be resolved until Ms. Griner's case is completed and she is inevitably found guilty and sentenced. But I also think that if I were Vladimir Putin, I wouldn't stop at Viktor Bout.

You know, Brittney Griner is becoming a more and more high-profile case in the U.S., and there's more and more pressure on the Biden White House to spring her out of jail in Russia, so if I were Vladimir Putin, I would ask for some sanctions relief. Why stop at a prisoner exchange when you're holding all the cards?

BOLDUAN: It's so interesting to think of that concept of the more that people are advocating for her release and being vocal about it, the harder they'd be making her chances, or the more they upped the ante for Vladimir Putin what he can ask for. It's fascinating, the piece is great. It's good to see you, Julia, thank you so much.

IOFFE: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us. Monkeypox spreading across the United States, still, demand for vaccines surpassing available doses at this moment. Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us next.



BOLDUAN: This just in. A grand jury has indicted Alex Murdaugh on murder charges for killing his wife and son. South Carolina's Attorney General announcing the two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime. His wife, Margaret Maggie Murdaugh, and they're -- and the couple's 22- year-old son, Paul, they were found shot to death on the family's farm in June of last year.

And then Alex Murdaugh, he actually placed the 911 call, you may remember reporting the shooting, he told the authorities that he had returned home and discovered their bodies. Now, he is charged in their deaths and murders. Murdaugh is already behind bars though facing a slew of charges for financial crimes, much more to come on that.

Now, to the fight against -- fight to control monkeypox, the CDC is reporting that more than 1000 cases are now in the United States. Demand for the vaccine far exceeding the number of doses available at the moment, many are having trouble even getting an appointment to get the shot. CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta has a closer look.


MATT FORD, HAD MONKEYPOX: It started off with just a few lesions. I got intense flu-like symptoms. As the flu symptoms abated, the lesions will A, more of them start to appear and the B, they became at worst excruciatingly painful and at best, mildly irritating.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Knowing exactly what it feels like to have monkeypox, Matt Ford is taken to social media to now warn people about the virus.

FORD: This -- sucks and you don't want it. I've got these in my arms.

GUPTA: But now his frustration is that even as awareness grows, those who need it might have a hard time finding a vaccine.

FORD: The supply is so low that there's not that much to go around.

GUPTA: Since May, the number of cases in the United States has continued to grow quickly. But the two-dose JYNNEOS monkeypox vaccine has been rolling out slowly. DR. DAVID HOLLAND, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, FULTON COUNTY BOARD OF HEALTH: We got an allotment of 200 vaccines, and the appointments for that went in about an hour and a half.

GUPTA: New York City Mayor Eric Adams has reached out to the White House to underscore his state's unmet demand. The two doses are usually given four weeks apart, but Mayor Adams wants the White House to consider a longer interval in between the doses so more first doses could be administered immediately. Right now, the CDC recommends the vaccine for high-risk individuals, people who have been diagnosed with or exposed to monkeypox, and people who are at higher risk of being exposed to monkeypox. That means not for the general population's prevention.

DR. CARLOS DEL RIO, EXECUTIVE ASSOCIATE DEAN, EMORY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: The problem is we simply don't have enough vaccines. So we're trying to play catch up. We need to get vaccination to people because we know that, you know, vaccinating people may not necessarily prevent the infection, but will certainly decrease the severity of the disease.

GUPTA: The CDC estimates this vaccine is at least 85 percent effective, giving it within four days of exposure is best to prevent the onset of disease. And even if given within 14 days of exposure, it may still reduce the symptoms.

I'm looking at something that I've never seen before as a doctor, I want to introduce you to Coy (PH). She's 22 years old. And what she has is an active case of monkeypox. But this is not necessarily what monkeypox always looks like. For Matt Ford, the lesions started smaller and not as obvious.

FORD: I maybe would have suspected that they were like herpes simplex virus or some other skin condition.

GUPTA: Right now, public health officials are sounding the loudest alarms in the LGBTQ community. That's due to most cases being reported in men who have sex with men. But experts warn. The outbreak could still expand.

DEL RIO: It's a very reminiscent of the early days of HIV, right, in which he was impacting, you know, man have sex with a man, the gay community in the United States. And it's almost like the general public were not paying attention and then HIV became a disease that affected other people, it affected everybody, and then all of a sudden people got interested.


BOLDUAN: And Sanjay is here with us now. Sanjay, the idea that New York City's Mayor, that he proposed of postponing the second shot so that more can get the first shot. Would that still offer protection?

GUPTA: The short answer is yes. I mean, this is something that's been looked at, Kate. He has sort of think of that the first shot is offering the acute here sort of onset protection. The second shot usually increases how long that protection will last. And if you look at the studies, they say you could even get that second shot up to a couple of years later and get that benefit there. So getting as many first shots out there now does seem to make a lot of sense scientifically.

And the numbers, Kate, I mean, you got about 135,000 doses that have been out there in states, and if you look at who's eligible, who should be getting vaccinated, it's closer to a million and a half people, so there's a 10-fold difference right now which is part of the problem.

BOLDUAN: It is scary to hear someone say that it's reminiscent of the early days of the -- of HIV AIDS. That is a scary thought to have. What are the other treatment options for people who get monkeypox?

GUPTA: That's more challenging because there's not a lot of treatment options. Matt Ford, who you just saw on the piece there, he was given pain medications to treat the symptoms. This is a symptomatic sort of treatment. There is an antiviral out there that was originally used for smallpox and the thing about smallpox and monkeypox, they both come from the same pox family of viruses, so, there is some thought that that antiviral could work. But really, for the time being, not a lot of options, the vaccines are the best option, and then treating the symptoms as best you can.

BOLDUAN: And real quick, I mean, are you hopeful that vaccines are going to be more widely available soon?

GUPTA: They say that they should have close to 2 million doses as you know, within the year, within the next few months. Dr. Jha yesterday said that they're going to increase the number of doses even in the next, you know, days and weeks. But again, 135,000 doses so far, 1.5 million people who would be eligible for them, they've got a significant window that they have to sort of bridge here.

BOLDUAN: Sanjay, thanks for taking a look at it. Really appreciate it. Thank you.

GUPTA: You got it. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: So before we go, I want to take us back to Washington, where Americans in this moment are paying tribute to an American hero in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol. The body of the last surviving World War II Medal of Honor recipient, Hershel Woody Williams is lying in honor this afternoon, a 98-year-old who was awarded the nation's highest honor for military valor by President Truman for his heroism in the battle of Iwo Jima. A ceremony to honor him beginning -- to honor this American hero is going to be beginning in just a few minutes.

Thank you all so much for being here AT THIS HOUR, I'm Kate Bolduan. INSIDE POLITICS with John King starts after this break.