Return to Transcripts main page

The Lead with Jake Tapper

Jury In Alex Jones Case Awards Nearly $1B To Sandy Hook Families; Sources: January 6 Committee Will Argue Trump Is A Danger To Democracy; Seven Killed In Russian Strike On Busy Market In Ukraine; CNN Poll: Biden Approval Rebounds To 44 Percent From Summer Low; Doctors Say Their Employers Have "Muzzled" & "Censored" Them From Speaking Out About Harms Of Abortion Bans. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired October 12, 2022 - 16:00   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: And, Jean, we had the video -- I said I saw a man crying. I'm told that is Robbie Parker, and the story you just told.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think the emotions -- that's him right there.


CASAREZ: And I think the emotions of those families sitting there tell it all. One other thing is, many of the families moved out of Connecticut.

BLACKWELL: Because they had to get away from the people who were --

CASAREZ: But their new addresses were then disseminated.

BLACKWELL: All right. Jean, Areva, Joey, thank you all.

THE LEAD starts now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm John Berman, in for Jake Tapper.

And we do start with the breaking news. A jury has just awarded nearly $1 billion in damages to Sandy Hook elementary families and an FBI agent in the Connecticut defamation trial against Alex Jones. Eight families and a first responder sued the far right conspiracy theorist for the lies he told about the 2012 school massacre.

This trial is the second of three against Jones, concerning the Sandy Hook massacre. It comes after a Texas jury decided in August that Jones and his company should pay nearly $50 million. But the Connecticut jury, nearly a billion.

Let's go straight to CNN's Brynn Gingras outside the courtroom.

Brynn, you were in there when the big figures were read out. Walk us through the jury's decision.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Big figures leading up to the announcement of the numbers, even the jurors were taking a deep sigh. There was just so much pressure and tension inside that room. And then what a release from these family members when those numbers were being read and tallied.

I can tell you as we talked about, Robbie Parker, he has received the biggest amount of this nearly $1 billion awarding of compensatory damages. And he just put his hands in his face. He started crying.

And, John, something I just want to tell you is that these family members have been coming to this trial for several weeks now, listening through testimony, doing their own testimony, recounting where they were, when they learned the news about their loved ones dying. And they themselves have become this family. That is what I saw in the courtroom as these numbers were being read. They would fist bumping each other. They were crying for each other.

I can tell you that David Wheeler, who if you remember Alex Jones said he was actually the FBI agent Bill Aldenberg and spread that around that they were crisis actors, they weren't who they said they were, he cried for Bill Aldenberg, for the amount he received. Aldenberg was not here today. He has been here most of the time, though.

I just want to really highlight it was a release, a validation for these family members who have been really living through hell, waiting for this verdict to come in. Now, they have an idea of how much Alex Jones and his company will pay for the damages that they caused, the emotional distress that they caused them.

BERMAN: That's right. They have been dealing with the pain nearly ten years and waging this fight nearly ten years.

Brynn Gingras in Connecticut -- Brynn, thank you very much.

I want to bring in an attorney Mark Eiglarsh now.

And, Mark, the jury has ordered Jones to pay, and I just want to reiterate this, nearly $1 billion in damages. What does that tell you? What's your big takeaway from this?

MARK EIGLARSH, TRIAL ATTORNEY: Well, it tells us that while there are limitations to our free speech, you cannot lie. You cannot go way over the line and say lies about someone and inflict emotional distress upon people.

They are punishing him. This wasn't just, okay, a couple million here. They are sending a message that while we all enjoy, under the First Amendment, wide latitude to speak freely, you can't lie. You can't intentionally afflict emotional distress on people. And through that verdict, they are speaking very loudly.

BERMAN: Hearing just seconds ago that the attorney for Alex Jones did say that they will appeal the jury's verdict here. I guess appeal aside, of course, you say, will these people, will these victims see any of the money that the jury just awarded?

EIGLARSH: It's extremely unlikely. He has been tagged in another jurisdiction for a large amount. We didn't think that any of the people would see that money. The fact that now we are close to a billion dollars, you can't squeeze water from a rock. This guy doesn't have it and he will tie them up in the appellate division for many, many years. And then ultimately, if and when this verdict is ratified, he is going to pull out his pockets and go, I don't have it. There's no debtor's prison.

That said, this is still a huge win. It is sending a message that what he said was wrong. Anybody who continues to advocate what he spewed from his lips, the evil, the hatred, the lies, well, those people can no longer say those things either because it's unlawful. What he was saying for years is illegal.


It's not constitutionally protected.

BERMAN: And, again, these families will tell you they were not doing this for the money. But, really, Alex Jones can get out of one way or another paying any money? You think he will pay nothing after all this is said and done?

EIGLARSH: I don't know about nothing. It will be determined what he is able to pay. Ultimately, if he doesn't have it, unfortunately, in the civil arena, there is no debtor's prison. You have been ordered to pay. You don't have it. Well, you're going to go to this facility for years. It just doesn't work that way.

And I think the families know that. I know that their lawyers have managed their expectations. I know their lawyers told them, look, this verdict will speak volumes. This is more about a moral victory. I think they are probably celebrating that victory tonight.

BERMAN: It's a huge statement from the jury. Only the second of three defamation trials against Alex Jones.

Mark Eiglarsh, counselor, thank you so mich for being with us this afternoon.

EIGLARSH: My pleasure. Thank you.

BERMAN: All right. Turning now to our politics and tomorrow's highly anticipated hearing by the January 6th committee. Sources tell CNN you could expect the panel to argue that former President Donald Trump remains a clear and present danger to democracy, especially ahead of the 2024 election. And those sources say you will likely see new evidence, including secret service records and videotaped accounts from new witnesses interviewed since the last hearing more than two months ago.

Plus, committee member Zoe Lofgren tells CNN, tomorrow's hearing will showcase evidence of ties between the extremists who attacked the capitol and Trump world. CNN's Sara Murray reports on what committee say they have uncovered

and what you must know.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The January 6th Committee making its closing argument ahead of the November midterms.

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): There's new material that, you know, I found as we got into it pretty surprising.

MURRAY: Sources say they are aiming to drive home that former President Donald Trump still poses a danger to democracy, using a mix of new evidence and reminders of their prior work.

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): It's really demonstrated the breadth and depth of the effort to overturn the election and to stop the peaceful transfer of power. And it was an effort that at every step of the way the former president was deeply involved in, personally engaged in.

MURRAY: While live witnesses are not expected, members are preparing to showcase previously unseen emails from Secret Service, which recently turned over more than a million communications, as well as new video. Since the last hearing in July --

CHENEY: The president's stolen election lies provoked that mob to attack the Capitol.

MURRAY: The committee interviewed Trump cabinet members, including former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. And they interviewed Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): We still have significant information that we have not shown to the public that's available to us.

MURRAY: Members hinting the hearing could also highlight the role of long-time Trump ally Roger Stone.

ROGER STONE, TRUMP ALLY: What they are assuming is the election will be normal. The election will not be normal.

MURRAY: And ties between Trump's circle and violent extremist groups.

LOFGREN: The mob was led by some extremist groups. They plotted in advance what they were going to do. And those individuals were known to people in the Trump orbit.

MURRAY: The committee reconvening in public for the first time since the FBI searched Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate and sent the DOJ probe into efforts to subvert the 2020 election has intensified.

With midterms less than a month away, a key focus is Trump's efforts -- DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: I ran twice. I won twice.

MURRAY: -- to spread the falsehood the election was stolen and ensure election deniers take office.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): We've got a much better handle on the continuing clear and present danger that confronts the people of America.


MURRAY (on camera): Now, the committee has an opportunity to make news on a number of different fronts in tomorrow's hearing. But even after that hearing, there is going to be some unfinished business. This is a committee that still has to release its final report. Members say that they are working on that and they still have to make a decision about whether they are going to move forward with any criminal referrals to the Justice Department, John.

BERMAN: All right. Sara Murray, thank you very much for that.

I want to bring in CNN's Jamie Gangel.

Jamie, what are your sources telling you about the committee's plans for this big hearing tomorrow?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Tomorrow's hearing, John, is going to be all roads lead to Donald Trump. I'm told the committee is going to bring us up to date on new information they have uncovered over the summer. I was told by one source familiar with the committee's work that they have a great deal of new material. We don't expect to see any live witnesses. But I think it's going to be very interesting. The Secret Service emails, communication and new video about January 6, John.


BERMAN: As Sara mentioned, we may hear from Trump cabinet members as well, Jamie. What's going on there?

GANGEL: Right. So, we -- there are a couple of things. We know that several Trump cabinet members were interviewed over the summer who we have never seen testimony from before. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who as we know resigned on January 6. I think that we may see testimony from one or all of them.

And then again, you know, John, there's the question we just saw Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, go in and give evidence, do an interview with the committee. Will we hear any of that?

BERMAN: And where do you think the committee goes from here after this final hearing before the midterms?

GANGEL: You know, as Sara said, we are still waiting to see. Is there a formal invite for Mike Pence or Donald Trump? There's the question of criminal referrals. But I want to stress this, I talked to multiple sources familiar with the committee's work last night. They told me the committee is still doing interviews. They are going through evidence. I'm told there could be more hearings yet to come, John.

BERMAN: All right. Jamie Gangel, thank you so much for sharing your reporting. No one works harder here in Washington, D.C., that's really eagle eye. Thank you very much.

All right. Democratic Congressmanwoman Pramila Jayapal of Washington state joins me now.

Congresswoman, thanks so much for being with us. I want to get your reaction to Jamie's reporting that the committee could unveil testimony from Trump loyalist, including former cabinet secretaries Mike Pompeo and Steve Mnuchin.

What will you be listening for from them?

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, I think -- John, it's great to see you, and I think that Jamie is absolutely right. This committee is being incredibly thorough. They are not going to leave anything on the table. I think that they are going through methodically every single person and more and more are appearing as people see courage in other people, it inspires courage in them as well.

And so, I think that -- you know, I don't know what they will unveil tomorrow, but I do think what they're doing is they're just continuing to stitch up more and more tightly this case against Donald Trump, which all of us knew, even before the hearings started. We knew that there was a clear tie between the big lie, the insurrection and the continued clear and present danger that he poses to the country. I think the committee has put all the pieces in place to really connect that and show it to the American people.

BERMAN: So, you yourself have been the target of extremist threats of violence. So, when the committee says Donald Trump is a clear and present danger, as we understand the committee will, how do you see that playing out in real life right now?

JAYAPAL: Well, John, I spoke out about what happened to me because I felt that it was important for people to understand what is happening at our doorsteps, in our neighborhoods, in our communities. How this is directly connected -- what happened to me is directly connected to Donald Trump, his work to undermine democracy, to undermine government, trust in the state and also to dehumanize people, all leading to the violence we saw take place on January 6.

As you know, I was in the gallery on January 6. I feared for my life that day, as many people did. Capitol police officers lost their lives on that day. And that violence has continued. He has not backed off one iota from the assertion, the lie that he won the election, that Joe Biden is not the legitimate president.

The thing that really strikes me, John, is that 50 percent -- actually, 60 percent -- over 50 percent, 60 percent of voters across America have an election denier on their ballot. That is really stunning. It shows us where the Republican Party has gone. And it shows us how important it is for voters to understand the stakes and to really turn out in November.

BERMAN: Let's talk about November and let's talk about the man who did win in 2020, President Joe Biden. A new CNN poll shows that his job approval is up, up but it's still low at 44 percent.

What ripple effect do you think that sentiment might have on the Democratic Party in the midterms?

JAYAPAL: Well, we're all working very hard. I just was out in Michigan and Minnesota. I'm going to Georgia, Pennsylvania, New York, going across the country. The president's approval rating does matter. There's no question about that. The higher it is, the better it is us.

But I will also tell you that we have amazing candidates who know their districts. And we have a lot of results. Sometimes I feel like we run as an opposition party. We are certainly putting forward what the stakes are.


But this year, John, we also get to be a proposition party with results to show. The narrowest margins in the history of our country, and we delivered on climate change. We have made costs for Medicare -- people on Medicare for drug prices go down. We are addressing climate change, inflation, health care, all of these things that allow people to feel better about their lives and their opportunities and to feel like they have a government that's really working for them.

BERMAN: Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal of Washington, great to see you. Thank you very much.

JAYAPAL: Thank you, John.

BERMAN: And we do have this special programming note. Special coverage of tomorrow's January 6 Committee hearing will begin at noon Eastern. That's right here on CNN.

And ahead, what might be the best gauge of opinion in Georgia in the wake of the abortion drama surrounding Republican candidate Herschel Walker. How much do voters care?

And fighting back. How Ukraine is shooting down Russian air attacks and turning to allies with a request.

Plus, how bad could a lawyer be? Well, just ask a man serving decades behind bars for a crime he says he did not commit.



BERMAN: Topping our world lead, a third straight day of Russia's unrelenting missile assault on Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is touting his army's high rate of missile and drone interceptions. He says more than half of Russia's attempted strikes were shot down yesterday. Unfortunately, though, some of Putin's rockets are still getting through.

CNN's Frederik Pleitgen reports on the latest from Ukraine.

We do want to warn our viewers, some of the images in this report are disturbing.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Another mass casualty attack in Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine. Bodies strewn across a market in an eastern town of Divka (ph). Just one reason why the Ukrainians disagree with President Joe Biden's remark from the interview with CNN's Jake Tapper that Putin is a rational actor.

The advisor to Ukraine's presidential administration tells me he believes the opposite is true.

MIKHAIL PODOLYAK, ADVISER TO UKRAINE'S PRESIDENTIAL OFFICE (through translator): He is irrational. He takes a lot of decisions from an emotional position and without a deep understanding of what is going on. Every decision that President Putin makes is a mistake.

PLEITGEN: As jets patrol the sky over Ukraine's capital, Russia continued its blitz of missile attacks on Ukrainian cities. Hitting the town of Zaporizhzhia and targeting critical infrastructure, especially power plants.

The advisor telling me, Ukraine is working hard to repair the damage and appreciates support from the U.S. and its allies.

PODOLYAK: Our partners all reacted quickly to what happened on Monday, the 10th. All our official partners, including the United States, announced the strikes were inhuman because they consciously targeted civilian infrastructure.

PLEITGEN: Ukraine's military says it's able to shoot down many of the missiles and drones Russia fires at its territory, but only has old Soviet-era surface to air systems and not enough of them.

At a meeting in Brussels, NATO made clear providing Ukraine with modern anti-aircraft missiles is a top priority.

LLOYD AUSTIN, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: This contact group stands united and determined. We will continue to boost Ukraine's defensive capabilities for today's urgent needs and for the long haul.

PLEITGEN: The Ukrainians say they continue to make headway against Russia's forces on the battlefield. Kyiv saying its forces took back several villages in the south of the country. And the presidential advisor telling me, despite Vladimir Putin's nuclear threat, Ukraine must prevail. PODOLYAK: Look, the threat of the use of nuclear weapons is not the

problem of Ukraine. In any case, we cannot stop our counteroffensive. In any case, we cannot give up our territory to Russian control because it will mean an endless war for us. It will be impossible to rebuild the country.


PLEITGEN (on camera): Meanwhile, John, there's new problems at Europe's largest nuclear power plant, the Zaporizhzhia power plant. It's right near the front line held by the Russians. Today, the power supply to that power plant was interrupted once again. That, of course, is really dangerous for some of the critical systems of that power plant, especially the cooling system.

Diesel emergency generators were turned on. And, by now, the international atomic agency says the power to that power plant has been restored, but the threat of some sort of accident happening there continues to be high, John.

BERMAN: Yeah, emergency generators powering a power plant, a nuclear plant, doesn't sound like a good thing. Frederik Pleitgen in Kyiv, thank you so much, Fred.

Over in Russia, Putin came out swinging at opening day of the Russian energy forum. He blamed Ukraine for the Crimea bridge attack, denied withholding gas supplies to the European Union and blamed the EU for creating its own economic crisis.

CNN' Matthew Chance is in Moscow.

Matthew, Putin says the ball is in the EU's court to turn on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Did he mention the recent damage to that pipeline?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He did. He said it was an act of international terrorism. He said those who perpetrated it were attempting to permanently sever the link between Russia and Europe.

But you're right, he did offer the prospect of the relationship -- the energy relationship between Russia and Europe being restored. He said, as you mentioned, it was up to the Europeans to turn the tap on the gas, because there was part of the pipeline, he said, that was still intact. It had gas at sufficient pressure inside. And all the Europeans had to do, he said, was just to turn it on and to take that Russian gas.

It's interesting because that is still Vladimir Putin's state of mind, despite the fact that there are missiles raining on a daily basis on Ukraine, still. He still thinks that there's a prospect of the situation returning to the energy dependency of the past and the status quo ante before what they call here the special military operation, John.

[16:25:07] BERMAN: Matthew, President Biden told Jake Tapper he has no intention of meeting with Putin at the G20, unless it's about Brittney Griner's release or something like that.

Has the Kremlin responded?

CHANCE: Well, the Kremlin simply said, look, there are no plans underway -- neither the United States nor Russia offered any bilateral meetings at that high level. And so, there's nothing -- no possibility of talking at the moment. But they said if there was a prospect of talks, they wouldn't reject it.

And so, look, there's a lot of speculation. The backdrop to that that could be -- you know, if Vladimir Putin and President Biden go to the G20 summit in Indonesia, in Bali, Indonesia, next month, there's a possibility they could talk on the sidelines of that forum.

But the Kremlin so far have not committed that their president will be attending that Bali forum at this point. But, obviously, a lot of speculation that at some point in the future, there's going to have to be a serious conversation between the presidents of these two countries.

BERMAN: Matthew Chance in Moscow, terrific reporting. Thank you so much, Matthew.

And this just in. The U.N. General Assembly approved a resolution telling Russia that its annexation, its sham of four Ukrainian zones is illegal and not valid. So, that is just coming from the United Nations.

Next, how midterm elections have played out in past years when a president's approval rating has been near President Biden's right now.



BERMAN: In our politics lead, President Biden is kicking off a four- day tour in the west today, campaigning for Democrats in Colorado, California and Oregon. Notably, though, he is staying away from the key battleground states of Arizona and Nevada, out of concerns he could hurt Democrats in top races and governor.

But in a positive sign for the president and everything is relative, a new poll has his job approval now at 44 percent. That's up from 38 percent over the summer. Let's discuss.

Nia-Malika Henderson, nice to see you.


BERMAN: Let me start you.

HENDERSON: Yeah. BERMAN: So, the Senate candidates in Arizona and Nevada kind of avoiding President Biden. Tim Ryan in Ohio on a debate state did everything he could to distance himself from John Biden.

How much of a negative do Democrats see the president right now?

HENDERSON: Listen, 44 percent, that's at a high in some ways. He has been able to I think have Democrats rally around him a bit more. It's still not enough. If you are campaigning in these states that are essentially red states or purple states, if you think about Nevada, Ohio a red state and a red year, so you have all these candidates trying to really talk about their bipartisan bona fides. I mean, you got for instance, Warnock in Georgia talking more about the work he's done with Ted Cruz than any work he's done with Biden, because those are the voters they need to get. I think it's a sign of a healthy campaign that they are able to be this nimble and keep Joe Biden at a distance but also try to rally Democrats but thinking about the independent voters.

BERMAN: You know, Stuart Stevens, if you look at where Joe Biden's approval rating is, it's around where Obama and Clinton and Reagan's were at this stage of the first term. There's one thing all three of those guys have in common, which is they won re-election. However, there's a second thing they have in common, which is they lost a lot of seats. They lost a lot of seats in their first midterms. So, is that inevitable to an extent?

STUART STEVENS, FORMER ROMNEY PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN CHIEF STRATEGIST: Well, it's only three times in the last 125 years that the party in power gained seats. Last time was 2002 and I worked in that race. We were able to nationalize it around domestic security.

I -- look, I think what's going on here is that the world is very different than it used to be. You have Donald Trump and you have a large group of the Republican Party that doesn't believe Joe Biden is a legal president. For Democrats to win, I think it needs to be a referendum on democracy and a referendum on Trumpism. And having Joe Biden there doesn't necessarily deliver that message.

You don't want this to be a referendum on Joe Biden. I mean, ultimately, if this is a race about inflation or about gas prices, that's a hard race to win. I think there's a race that they can win, which is about democracy and about the threat that they pose to the country. We really are in unique types. So, I think the greater the stakes, the better Democrats will do. It will increase turnout.

So, I think you have to make a state by state decision whether or not to do it. I think the Biden organization is playing this right. They're not putting pressure on anybody. But I think it's difficult to compare this race to what traditional politics have been before.

BERMAN: Things have changed, Basil?

BASIL SMIKLE, FORMER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NEW YORK STATE DEMOCRATIC PARTY: I do. I think everybody is absolutely right. You do it on a state by state basis. I think Sanders is right in his op-ed the other day, that even though abortion is very important and should be front and center, we should be able to talk about gas prices, don't cede ground to that.

You saw Tim Ryan do that in his debate the other day with Vance, not ceding ground on a number of issues, including law enforcement, and the fact threats to democracy are polling so high, you have to be able to talk about that. I don't think Joe Biden is good at that in every place all the time, certainly not in a lot of the states that you mentioned, Nia.

But what are the things that I want to be clear about is that it shouldn't be about Joe Biden not doing the job we elected him to do. He actually is. He's brought us back to a place of normalcy, at least coming directly from the White House. Even though Democrats may not have gotten everything they wanted, I think a lot feel they have gotten more than they thought they would from a policy perspective in this first term.


So I do think there's enough for Democrats to talk about but, you know, based on those nuances and some of the policy issues, it may not work in every place.

BERMAN: Let's talk about a couple of specific Senate races here, when Senate obviously much more case by case, and the House would sometimes follows national trend. I want to start in Georgia where Herschel Walker did a sit-down interview with Linsey Davis on ABC News, and he came out with a new line of defense about these allegations that he paid or was asked -- paid for an abortion. Listen.


LINSEY DAVIS, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Are you saying a flat-out denial to any knowledge of an abortion? Or is it possible it happened and you don't know?

HERSCHEL WALKER (R), GEORGIA SENATE CANDIDATE: Flat out denial. Flat out denial. Lie -- lie, lie, lie. You know what's sad about it? They had a receipt and had a check and had all that. It isn't showing anything. It isn't showing me having -- saying something about an abortion. That's what's terrible.


BERMAN: He is saying it never happened. And I do want to point out, there's a new poll out of Georgia, which we should look at right now, which says Warnock, this Quinnipiac poll, up seven there. But this line that, no, nothing to see here, didn't happen, how tenable is that for Walker?

HENDERSON: You know, listen, I think the worry that Republicans have about Walker is precisely interviews like this, where it's a flat-out denial. He's essentially calling the mother of his 10-year-old child a liar in that interview. Are more shoes to drop? Does she want to come out and add to the

story? I think that's the problem that Walker himself isn't the best messenger. He has been trying to say, he is a born again Christian. He is born again and again and again, because a lot of the claims that she's making happened after he was a born again Christian. So, I think that's the problem.

Listen, I think this is going to hurt his race. You can see that sometimes in the polling. I think the question is, how much does it hurt? We have seen things like this happen before. I think what we haven't seen is a son come out and denounce a father in that way. And, you know, sort of, there isn't really people really rallying behind Herschel Walker who know him -- members of his church, for instance, a pastor, anyone, a wife. I think that's hurting his explanation as well.

BERMAN: If I can, I want to turn to the Pennsylvania Senate race and John Fetterman who gave an interview. He explained why to sit down he asked for closed captioning so he could read the questions because he has auditory processing issues from the stroke that he had. Listen to this.


JOHN FETTERMAN (D), PENNSYLVANIA: I use captioning. That's really the may -- that's the major challenge. Every now and then I will miss a word. Every now and then. Sometimes I will maybe mush two words together. But as limited I have captioning, I'm able to understand exactly what's being asked.


BERMAN: Stuart and Basil, how much of an issue do you think this will end up being in Pennsylvania?

STEVENS: Well, it's a good question. For me, this is a continuation of the trend in Republican politics. Donald Trump ran for president mocking a disabled reporter. It's an extraordinary cruelty that's being shown by the Republican Party.

So, here is someone who had a stroke. A lot of people have strokes. He is on a path to recovery. No one is disputing that.

So what if he was blind? If he was deaf? What if he was born without two arms? He can't sign legislation?

It's an attempt to disqualify someone because they don't have any issues that they are running on? So, Oz is really saying, this person -- it's an attack on a disease. It's an attack on someone that happened to someone on a path of recovery.

My question is, I know that Fetterman is going to recover from the stroke. What is Dr. Oz going to recover from? What's going to make him a real person?

SMIKLE: It's not disqualifying and it's prohibitive, and borders on discrimination against the disabled. So, you're absolutely right. He can do everything we need him to do when he gets to the Senate.

BERMAN: All right, friends. Thank you so much. Nice seeing you all.

Next, doctors who say their employers are censoring their conversations on abortion. They are sharing the real life impact it's having on patients coming to them for care.



BERMAN: In our health lead, muzzled and shackled, that's what doctors tell CNN they are experiencing from their employers who won't let them explain the effects of abortion restrictions to patients and the public.

CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is digging into this.

Elizabeth, what are these professionals saying?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: These doctors are telling us that ever since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, things have been terrible. They have seen women suffer. They have seen women be close to death who needed abortions and who they couldn't help. They had to wait until they were on the brink of death. They had to watch these women deteriorate in front of their eyes. That's the phrase the one doctor used with me because they said they are not allowed to do abortions until the mother is on the brink of death.

And these are cases where the baby wouldn't survive anyhow. The mother's life is at stake. They can't give them abortions. When a journalist says, can we talk to you about this and they ask the hospital PR department, the PR department says, no, you can't. You can talk but you can't say that you work here. And they make them feel that if they do talk, that their jobs could be in jeopardy.

So, let's -- I want to reach you a quote from one of the doctors. We spoke anonymously. They are afraid of getting fired. This doctor said, they are censoring me. It's shameful and embarrassing to work for an institution that is not supportive of the women's rights. I'm extremely angry. It's disgusting.

And, John, I heard sentiments like that over and over again -- John.


BERMAN: Elizabeth, this is not exclusive to states where strict limitations exist, is it?

COHEN: That's right. It's interesting. So, if we look at the United States, there are 17 states where abortion is banned or severely restricted. But I spoke to doctors who were in states other than those 17 states. Some of them in are in surge state. So, they want to talk about what they are seeing that they are getting patients coming in from other states needs abortions. They want to tell the story, right? This is a post Dobbs story. They want to talk about this. And they have been told, well, we really would rather you didn't talk, but if you do, you can't use your work computer. You can't use your work email. And they say it's very clear to them that they are supposed to be shutting up -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Elizabeth Cohen, thank you so much for sharing your reporting.

In jail for a crime he says he did not commit. Next, a notable pediatrician coming to his defense and that doctor's son who is someone you will recognize is bringing attention to the case.



BERMAN: Now our buried lead where we highlight stories that don't get enough attention. It is an all too familiar story. A Black man in jail for a crime he says he didn't commit. This time, he's not alone in his cries of injustice and in fact, to back up his claims.

His name C.J. Rice. The man coming to his defense, Dr. Theodore Tapper, laying out the facts our own Jake Tapper, Dr. Tapper's son, in a new must-read cover story in "The Atlantic Magazine."

And Jake Tapper joins us now.

Jake, your father was Rice's pediatrician and he felt his teenage patient could not physically commit the murders, the attempted murders he's now in jail for.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Well, C.J., when he was 17 was shot in south Philadelphia and he was rushed to the hospital and had a bullet removed from his body. And about three weeks later of a pretty difficult recovery from that, he staggered into my dad's office September 20th, I think was the date, 2011 and he could barely walk. He walked like a 95, 100-year-old man. Very, very difficult short steps in a lot of pain. Wasn't taking his painkillers because he didn't like how the Percocet made him feel.

And then, like six days later, C.J. got arrested for a different shooting and my dad -- in which the suspects ran and my dad thought there is no way he could have done this and in fact, C.J. and everyone in his family thought this is obviously a mistake. They can't charge him. He's not capable of committing this crime but they charged him.

And here we are 11 years later and he's still in prison and he's facing 30 to 60 years in prison for a crime my dad, who is not a naive guy I should point out. He understands that there are kids that do bad things, he just t thinks physically he couldn't have done it.

BERMAN: As you dug into the case, the facts of the case, what were the most striking discoveries? TAPPER: The most shocking thing was just how incompetent C.J.'s

attorney was. All the things she didn't do including visiting the crime scene, talking to any witnesses ahead of time, having basic, rudimentary knowledge of the case and the fact that that is tolerated by our judicial system, which basically serves in many ways to protect itself.

He did not get a fair trial. He did not get the trial that you or I would have been able to get. First of all, you or I would not have been charged with this crime, but if we had, we would be able to afford an attorney. C.J. could not. He had a court appointed attorney. They are not good, not as good as a public defender at any rate and he was not able to get justice. And since then, the system doesn't really have efficient fair ways for people to appeal such things. As you know, there have been different court cases where people have had drunk lawyers or lawyers who fell asleep or lawyers who were disbarred during the proceedings and the judicial system in this country said that's fine. That's okay. That's still a lawyer.

BERMAN: It's a system that fails so many.

And, Jake, I know you'll have much more on this later on "CNN TONIGHT". Thank you very much.

TAPPER: Thank you, John.

BERMAN: I should say, Jake also has another big lineup beyond this on "CNN TONIGHT". Ahead of tomorrow's big January 6th committee hearing, he's going to speak with Sarah Matthews. She was Donald Trump's deputy press secretary and resigned shortly after the insurrection. Also tonight, Jake interviews Anna Sorokin, the fake heiress who inspired the Netflix drama series "Inventing Anna". That's all tonight at 9:00 Eastern, right here on CNN.

A Supreme Court case combines the likes of two artistic greats, Andy Warhol and Prince. Hear what the Supreme Court justice said about the case today, next.



BERMAN: In today's money lead, your heating bill is about to soar to record heights. A new report says U.S. households will likely spend more on energy bills this winter. If you use natural gas, your cost will rise 200 bucks or 28 percent. And if it's more frigid than predicted, you can plan to spend 51 percent more than last year.

Why? Well, it's a combination of higher fuel prices and higher heating demand. The lesson here might be -- ask for thick socks this Christmas.

All right. Pop art tops the pop lead. Art made by the man who famously held a mirror up to American consumerism. It is at the center of a Supreme Court case. Today, the nation's highest court heard arguments over if Andy Warhol's celebrated silk screens of the musician Prince violated copyright laws. It's a ruling that could impact generations of visual artists.

While most of the arguments today, the oral arguments were technical, there were brief opportunities to learn more about the justices' artistic tastes. You got to listen to this.


JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS, SUPREME COURT: Let's say that I'm both a prince fan, which I was in the '80s, and --



THOMAS: Well, only on Thursday night.


BERMAN: Thursday night at the Thomas household.

Legal experts say that however the court rules, its decision will have rippling consequences for artists across the country.

All right. You can follow me on Twitter @JohnBerman or tweet the show @TheLeadCNN. If you ever miss an episode of THE LEAD, you can listen wherever you ever get your podcast.

Our coverage continues right now with Wolf Blitzer who is "THE SITUATION ROOM".