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At This Hour

Thousands Protest In Israel Against Criminal Reform Plan; Forecasters: Heavy Rain Melting Snow Could Bring More Flooding To CA; Video Captures Mayhem On Southwest Plane. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired March 09, 2023 - 11:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: In Tel Aviv, Israel, thousands of protesters are demonstrating against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plans to weaken Israel's judicial system. You can see there. Police are trying to push them back. It's being called a day of disruption. And protesters have even blocked the road to one of the main airport terminals.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin landed in Israel this morning for meetings with Netanyahu and Israel's defense minister. Austin was originally scheduled to arrive yesterday but the trip was delayed over concern about these protests.

We also have an update for you on the Americans kidnapped in Mexico. The bodies of the two Americans killed are expected to be returned to the United States today. A U.S. official says the bodies of Shaeed Woodward -- Woodard and Zidell Brown will be heading first to a funeral home in Brownsville, Texas and then there'll be a second round of autopsies performed. Their bodies were discovered earlier this week along with their two surviving friends in a house near the Mexican city of Matamoros. The two survivors Latavia Washington McGee and Eric Williams, they're being treated at a hospital already in the United States.

And this just in and first on CNN. Developments in the Justice Department's documents investigation involving both President Biden and former President Trump. Paula Reid has this new reporting for us. She's joining us now. Paula, what are you learning?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, we've learned that President Biden's former executive assistant Kathy Chung has set a date to sit down for an interview with lawmakers for their investigation into the possible mishandling of classified materials at Biden's home and office. Chung is a critical witness because when she was a staffer back when he was vice president, she was one of the people who oversaw the packing up of a lot of his belongings. Now, the boxes that she helped pack eventually found their way to the Penn Biden Center. And late last year, classified materials were discovered among those documents. And that's what kicked off this now special counsel investigation into the possible and his handling of classified documents. Now, early last month, the House Oversight Committee sent this letter to Chung. They have a lengthy list of things that they want from her including all of her communications with members of the Biden family going back to 2009. Now, these are things that are not directly relevant to this matter. And her lawyer has said look, they're not going to get everything that they have asked for from us. But we learned that they have handed over some documents related to how materials were packed up at the end of his time as vice president, how they ended up at the Penn Biden Center.

And, Kate, this cooperation is significant because the president and his attorneys have repeatedly said look, we want to cooperate. And that's one of the big things that differentiates this investigation from the one into former President Trump.


Speaking of, former President Trump's lawyers right now in federal court behind closed doors, arguing before a judge about whether one of his defense attorneys, Evan Corcoran, should be forced to go back before the grand jury and answer more questions. This is just one of several secret proceedings that the Special Counsel, Jack Smith, who's looking into the possible mishandling of classified documents at Mar- a-Lago has been using to push to get additional answers from witnesses.

Now, one thing that's significant here is trying to get around attorney-client privilege -- in trying to get around attorney-client privilege, prosecutors have argued that Trump used Evan Corcoran's legal advice in furtherance of a crime. Kate, that is a weighty accusation. And we'll be watching and continuing to report out whether they're successful in trying to bring him back before the grand jury and getting around that privilege.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Thanks for bringing that to us. Paula, thank you.

So, millions of people in California already dealing with the monster snow they've been seeing. Well, they're now bracing for heavy rain to add to it, coming in with a new storm system. What officials are warning about the flooding threat? Next.



BOLDUAN: We're following two major stories coming out of California right now. Officials there, are preparing for a powerful storm that is set to bring big rains in northern and central parts of the state. And as we've been covering, millions of people in the state have already been just crushed with snow and now they may be facing flooding threats. Natasha Chen is live in Sacramento for us. Natasha, what are they preparing for?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, a lot of that rain and gusty winds will be coming in later tonight into tomorrow. National Weather Service warning people to avoid mountain travel, to be prepared for chain controls, major delays because they could get two to eight feet of snow in the Southern Cascades and Sierras. Another concern is flooding in the foothills as well as snow loading where snow that's gathered from previous storms on structures and rooftops.

Well, that's getting heavy. And as that absorbs the incoming rain, that can melt and then cause structural collapse. So, officials are telling people to please try and clear as much snow as possible off of structures out of storm drains while it is still dry right now.

There are Monterey County residents being told to stock up on essentials for two weeks. And all of this, as you said, reeling from previous storms where there are still people like those in San Bernardino Mountains still trapped without food. Deputies going door to door making sure people are OK, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Natasha, thank you.

Also happening in California. Governor Gavin Newsom has announced that the state will no longer do business with Walgreens after the drugstore chain said that it will not be selling an abortion pill in 21 Republican-led states. Camila Bernal is following this developing story for us and she's here with us. Camila, what's happening here?

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look. Governor Gavin Newsom is saying that they will not renew a $54 million contract with Walgreens. And under this contract, Walgreens provides a lot of the medication for the prisoners in the California correction system. And now, Gavin Newsom saying he doesn't want the state money to go to Walgreens.

Here's a tweet that he put out. He said California won't be doing business with Walgreens or any company that cowers to the extremist and puts women's lives at risk. We are done. This, as you mentioned comes after 21 Republican-dominated states threatened legal action because of this whole drama over a specific pill, mifepristone, and they say that this is illegal because mailing this drug would be against the law.

Now, Walgreens saying that they wouldn't distribute the abortion medication to these 21 states and responding by saying this. We are deeply disappointed by the decision by the State of California to not renew our long-standing contract due to false and misleading information. Then, they went on to say we will dispense the medication consistent with federal and state laws. Now, Gavin Newsom, though saying that the money is going to matter a lot when it comes to California and not doing business with Walgreens, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Camila, thank you. Joining me now on all of this is the Lieutenant Governor of California, Eleni Kounalakis. Lieutenant Governor, thank you for coming back in. Let's start with Walgreens as Camilla was just laying out some of the details of it. Is the position of the state -- is this about punishing Walgreens or is it trying to get them to change policy?

LT. GOV. ELENI KOUNALAKIS, (D-CA): Well, let's just be clear at that. They came out the gate saying that they were not going to be selling mifepristone in 21 states in the United States. And it was not because it was not legal, but because they were under pressure from Attorney Generals. And so, the governor responded very clearly and said, look, if that's the position you're going to take in those 21 states, California is the size of 21 states combined with almost 40 million people, and we're just not interested in doing business with the companies that will bow to that kind of pressure and put women's lives at risk.

BOLDUAN: You know, right now, Walgreens does not sell the abortion pill in any state as they say they're waiting certification from the FDA. Camila read some of the statement from Walgreens saying that if -- in -- they weren't -- they do have plans to dispense mifepristone in any jurisdiction where it's legally permissible to do so including the State of California. And also, they added that you all have made this decision based on, in their words, false and misleading information. What do you say to that?


KOUNALAKIS: Well, the facts are clear. Axios obtained letters from Walgreens to Kansas saying even though the people of Kansas just voted in the last election to keep bodily autonomy in their constitution, and abortion is legal there, they wrote a letter saying that they would not sell it. But here's the thing. What we're seeing is Walgreens speaking out of both sides of their mouth. And if they want to clear it up and they want to make sure that in places where it is absolutely legal to sell this very important therapy to women who need it, I think that that conversation can continue.

But for right now, if you saw the LA Times editorial, it's clear that they are bowing to pressure. And California is not going to do business with companies that bow to pressure in this very heated national debate. We are at the forefront of protecting women and being a sanctuary state for women around the country who need abortion care and access like this.

BOLDUAN: And this is one of the concerns. I know that so many attorneys and legal -- constitutional legal experts who've been on my show when it came -- when it came to Roe v. Wade being overturned and the consideration even in the Texas cases that's still out there is just the kind of the chaos that will ensue in between -- in the in- between areas. Because as we know, this started with 20-plus Republican state leaders threatening Walgreens over for -- if they were going to distribute it.

You totally disagree with the position that Walgreens is taken. But do you see the fraught position that the company says it finds itself in, kind of caught in the middle of this legal and political mess?

KOUNALAKIS: Kate, what we need is the federal government to step in, in light of the Dobbs decision, which stripped away protections for women that we have had for 50 years to access reproductive care, have bodily autonomy, and access abortion and contraception. The Dobbs decision took that right away from us. And yes, I think you're right. It is leading to these chaotic kinds of situations. But we need companies like Walgreens that specialize in providing life-saving care to step up and ensure that their customers are able to access that care to the full extent of the law. And we do not see them doing that right now. Maybe they will more than change their tune and they will make sure that they do provide this care where it is clearly legal.

And that is more than -- that does not include the 21 states that they sent a letter saying that they would not sell this therapy. So, we have work to do but California is very clear about where we are. And let me just say that in the last election here in our state, we amended our state constitution with almost 70 percent of the vote to enshrine a woman's right to choose and a woman's right to access abortion here in our state.

BOLDUAN: Let me also ask you about the other story that Natasha Chen was bringing us just to the weather. I mean, California can't get a break when it comes to the weather, Lieutenant Governor. You've got -- you've been crushed by snow and now you have a lot of people who are looking at a flooding threat coming their way. What do people need to know and do?

KOUNALAKIS: Well, thank you so much. And I think that your guest just a few moments ago really clarified what's going on here which is we have had an enormous amount of snow in a very short period of time and other weather front that is coming in is warmer. And so, at lower elevations, we're looking at snowpack at 5000 feet and less being drenched with rain and overwhelming the ability to capture the rain or the runoff. And we're looking at about half of the population of our state now being under flood watch.

So, we are asking people to watch their news, stay informed, have a full tank of gas in case they need to evacuate, get the snow off of their roof if they can if it's safe, and just be very vigilant and prepared because we are in the era of extreme weather. And that's what we're seeing this week.

BOLDUAN: It's absolutely right. Lieutenant Governor, thank you so much for coming on.

KOUNALAKIS: Thank you for having me, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thank you. Coming up for us. Yet another fight breaks out on another plane, this time before it even got off the ground. What happened? When we come back.



BOLDUAN: Another airline incident. This time, a fight between two passengers on a Southwest flight just before takeoff. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell him what happened. Tell him what you did. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) for that right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will sit down to jail for you approaching my family. I would die for my family.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So that's not I bet your --(INAUDIBLE)


BOLDUAN: So, one man eventually puts the other in a headlock before punches then started to be thrown, all before this flight even got off the ground. Ed Lavandera has more on this from Dallas. Ed, what triggered this? Do you know?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Look. Well, it's a situation that clearly escalated very quickly. But you heard the man there in that video allude to what another witness also told CNN happened there that the man who was being punched, the attendant -- the guy throwing the punches perceived that that man had bumped into his family and then that triggered all of that anger. We were told that before the video even started rolling that there was three or four other punches that were landed before the video even picked up capturing that scene.


You can see passengers there trying to separate the two men. Southwest Airlines says it commends the actions of its crew to put -- defuse that situation safely and handle the situation. Both men were taken off the plane. And we are told by Dallas police that no criminal charges were filed.

But clearly, signs of as spring break travel begins to pick up now, just how tense some of these flights can be. But you know the Southwest Airlines also says that that flight that took off on Monday took off on time and land -- and landed without any other incident, Kate.

BOLDUAN: I guess there's that. We've -- even though (INAUDIBLE) had to deal with that even before takeoff though. Ed, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

Well, thanks to you all so much for watching. I'm Kate Bolduan. "INSIDE POLITICS WITH JOHN KING" starts after this.