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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Supreme Court Temporarily Extends Stay on Abortion Pill Restrictions; 2 Texas Cheerleaders Shot After Opening Door to Wrong Car; Fox Faces Several Other Legal Cases in Wake of Dominion Settlement; Dominion CEO on Why They Settled with Fox; Afghans Detail Horrifying Accounts of Torture Under the Taliban. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired April 19, 2023 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Is the U.S. Supreme Court about to impose a limited ban on medication abortion?

THE LEAD starts right now.

The U.S. Supreme Court kicking the can down the road for now, pausing restrictions until Friday on access to the abortion pill, restrictions put in place by a Texas judge. But what might happen after this two day stay?

And for the third time in a week, young people shot after making innocent mistakes. This time two cheerleaders after one of them mistook someone else's car for hers. I'm going to speak with her cheer programs owner.

Plus, one day after one of the biggest media defamation settlements in the history of the universe, the CEO of Dominion will be here and we'll talk about whether his company took that historic $787.5 million check from Fox at the expense of truth and democracy.

Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

And we start with breaking news in our health lead. This afternoon, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in the blockbuster medication abortion case, temporarily extending access to the drug mifepristone until Friday night. Justice Samuel Alito has set the new deadline, essentially buying the full court another two days to decide the future of the widely used abortion drugs. Mifepristone is the first in a two-pill regimen used to terminate pregnancies in medication abortions in the first 8 to 10 weeks or so. It has been approved by the FDA for more than two decades. Mifepristone also frequently prescribed after miscarriages and for women experiencing menopause.

But earlier this month, a Texas judge in Amarillo sided with anti abortion activists and issued a sweeping ruling which in part would -- which in part would impose strict new restrictions on how mifepristone is prescribed and who can prescribe it, and where patients can get it, and at what point in their pregnancy, women and girls are allowed to take the pill.

Let's get straight to CNN's Jessica Schneider.

And, Jessica, this deadline has been moved to Friday. The justices are still considering the very same questions in this case. What options does the court have here?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: You know, Jake, this really just gives the Supreme Court more time for a definitive decision, something that they've sort of been delaying over the past few days. At the same time, though, this really adds to the uncertainty that we've been hearing about, women, doctors and even the drugmakers here.

So, in part, the Supreme Court didn't give the Justice Department a little bit of what they were asking for here. In filings last night, the solicitor general basically said, look, if you can't come up with a definitive decision, at least extend this stay for a few more days, and that is what Justice Alito did just minutes ago. And what this does is this gives the Supreme Court more time to decide whether to extend that pause on the lower court's ruling more definitively for weeks or potentially months, or to let those restrictions go into effect.

So sometime before midnight Friday into Saturday, the world will potentially know whether or not those restrictions will be in effect. If they do go into effect, if the Supreme Court doesn't extend the hold, it will be quite a change for the way that this abortion pill is administered. It would require that women at seven weeks pregnant are allowed to take the draw the drug, but no longer than that. It would also require that they see doctors in person and get the pill in person as opposed to what exists now, with the telehealth visits and getting the drug in the mail.

So, Jake, once again, the Supreme Court. Sort of making everyone stay on their toes as we wait for that Friday night deadline that was supposed to be today. So we'll see what the Supreme Court does, including whether they write on their eventual decision here -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Jessica Schneider, thanks so much.

CNN senior Supreme Court analyst Joan Biskupic joins me.

Joan, just another two days here Alito bought the court. What's going on behind the scenes?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SENIOR SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Well, they're obviously divided because if they had the five votes, and that's what you need is five votes to either grant the Biden administration's request to put everything on hold and let the merits of the controversy play out, while the pill is available just without any kind of new restrictions on it, or to outright deny it, so neither side of this battle had the requisite five votes without some sort of protest from other justices.

[16:05:04] So, I imagine, a justice who wants -- justices might be trying to pick off those, try to call us a majority, and you don't know what's being written in dissent. That's another thing that could be costing time.

When Justice Alito put the original deadline on, and we should make clear to viewers. Justice Alito is handling this only because he happens to be the justice who oversees the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

TAPPER: Right, Texas.

BISKUPIC: It's just -- it's just happenstance that the man who wrote the Dobbs opinion overturning all of constitutional abortion rights is now the one who is kind of the point person here.

TAPPER: That court -- I'm sorry. The Fifth Circuit, is that in Texas or is that in Louisiana?

BISKUPIC: The Fifth Circuit over --

TAPPER: The whole area?

BISKUPIC: The Fifth Circuit is based in New Orleans, but it's over three states that includes Texas --

TAPPER: Right.

BISKUPIC: -- where the case originally came from, Jake.

So, clearly, they're not -- they don't have a majority, and if they have a narrow majority, somebody would want to -- somebody on the dissenting side maybe trying to write. We don't know. All we know for sure is they were not able to resolve this.

And as the Biden administration was making, you know, one of its many pitches and its many filings to try to say you cannot -- it was a -- I was surprised at how forceful the Biden administration came in in its last filing, just saying, you cannot believe what kind of chaos you're going to cause if you do not postpone the effect of these lower court orders.

And as just --

TAPPER: One judge overruling the Food and Drug Administration.

BISKUPIC: Exactly, exactly. And just so our audience knows also, this is not a case like what they resolved in June. June had to do with the constitutional right to abortion, you know, overturning nearly a half century of that, but this has to do with the authority of an agency that has expertise in a particular area over Food and Drug Administration to say -- to test drugs, to review, to look at what scientific determinations are necessary to find a drug safe and effective.

And the lower court judges in this case of second guess that and the Biden administration says, if you allow that you'll not only throwing doubt any kind of access to medication abortion, you will jeopardize the approval process for a host of other existing and new drugs.

TAPPER: It's crazy. I told you that they didn't have five votes to keep mifepristone. I told you that. I said, who's the fifth vote? I don't even know that they have four, to be honest.

BISKUPIC: But wait a minute, I just want to make sure that's not even the question here.

TAPPER: Right.

BISKUPIC: The question is just as procedural matter, so okay. So I'll give you that. You're right that that you don't even come close to even deciding in a temporary way rather than -- because they're eventually going to have to be faced the merits of this abortion drug, too.


All right. Joan Biskupic, be continued. Thanks so much.

Let's bring in Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota who's on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senator, what's your reaction to this temporary extension by the court? And how concerned are you that ultimately this court is going to allow this limited ban on access to mifepristone?

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Well, I really appreciate Joan's analysis right there, Jake, because in truth, we haven't learned anything new today about what they're going to do. They could be debating language and in order, it could be about a dissent. But one thing that hasn't changed, Jake, is that two judges on the Fifth Circuit and another in Amarillo, Texas, three Trump appointed judges, have basically threatened the availability of a safe drug, according to the American Medical Association that is used in half the abortion in this country and that's safe in 60 countries, and they basically have said this the last two judges. Hey guess what we know better than the FDA.

It's going to -- you can maybe use it in seven weeks, but not 10 weeks. You can't get in the mail now and hey, you're not going to be able to get it in pharmacies. That hasn't happened yet because it stayed, but that's what they said.

And as Joan has pointed out, this is an incredible step for the Supreme Court, and there's a lot of ways for them to get out of this with standing and other things to say. A judge can make this decision. What about if this Amarillo judge doesn't like birth control? What if the next thing is Lipitor? That's why you have seen the pharmaceutical companies the American medical association so strong here.

And so we go on to fight another day until Friday at midnight, but make no mistake, our Republican colleagues, for the most part, have been silent on this and we are standing up the Democratic Party, President Biden, for women's rights to say women have a right to make their own healthcare decisions and not politicians. And we don't want Ted Cruz in the waiting room. TAPPER: So that's a -- that's an image. So, if the court ultimately

allows this judge's restrictions to take effect and we're not there yet, it might not happen. But if the court ultimately does do that, and I can easily see four justices who would probably vote that way, and maybe five.

You're in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Can Congress do anything?

KLOBUCHAR: Well, the first thing we're doing and you see how aggressive the Justice Department has been is too vigorously fight this out in the court.


And I do not count out a successful result here because you've got a decision coming out of Washington state with 17 states that is very firm, that says this is okay. You've got the risk of the entire system of approving drugs at stake here.

So that's the first step and it is a major one, and unfortunately, we're not going to know the answer until midnight on Friday.

Of course, Congress can get involved. Congress can pass the women's protection act like that. That's what I would do. That's what Democrats in the Senate want to do to protect, not just medical abortion with medication, but also to make sure that we protect a woman's right to choose overall. The FDA part of this is much more major than justice, one drug, and I think it's really important to understand that and what we're facing here with this assault on women's rights.

TAPPER: There are no doubt judges out there, you raised this earlier, who think that birth control pills constitute the taking of a life, just because of how they work.

Do you think that there's a real risk that if this is upheld, that could be next on the chopping block?

KLOBUCHAR: I think anything could happen at this point if the Supreme Court takes this extreme view, which, by the way is contrary to what they've done in other cases. Even Justice Scalia, not even a radical was very clear about the limits for when you can bring cases like this. He talked about you can't bring a case like this only if there is a chance of a plaintiff being harmed. He said that's not enough. You either have to show your harmed or there's a real chance you're harmed.

The people that brought this case are saying oh, hey, there could be stress involved for us because we don't agree with this drug. How about the women of this country? They're going to have to, what, get on a bus in Texas and go to Minnesota or go to Illinois?

You talk about stress. You talk about real harm. That's what the justices are grappling with right now, whether it is simply a language in the order, or how long to stay at last or what it is. This is an enormous issue for the precedent of the court, really for the trust that people have in the court and for the women of America who have got to be able to get up in the morning and believe that they've got the same rights and not less rights than their moms or their grandma's good or people that haven't 60 other countries have.

TAPPER: Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar from the great state of Minnesota, thank you so much. Appreciated it.

KLOBUCHAR: Thanks, sir.

TAPPER: A closer look at what happens beyond Friday and how this case could set up a much larger battle, that's next.



TAPPER: And we're back with more on our breaking news, the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily extending access to the abortion drug mifepristone. That's until Friday night. This means that the full court is going to have another two days to decide the future of this widely used medication.

I want to bring in Katie Watson. She's a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University. She's also an attorney.

So, Professor, it does look as though it is possible that the court might ultimately allow these intense restrictions to be imposed and it would make it very difficult and complicated for girls and women to have access to mifepristone.

What -- what would be the result of that? What would that mean for women and girls?

KATIE WATSON, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF MEDICAL SOCIAL SCIENCES, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY: Well, it's extraordinary 12 days ago, we had dueling rulings. We can't forget that the case out of Washington said the FDA had to preserve access in the 17 states that were plaintiffs in that litigation.

So the Supreme Court has to resolve this conflict, the impact even if they say the Washington order can stand and the Texas order can stand, is that the federal drug -- the FDA cannot regulate federally, that we would have a patchwork system, saying that mifepristone is safe in some states, but not in another. Or they could uphold the Texas preliminary injunction and say mifepristone can't be used. The impact is enormous.

I have approximately a half million women and girls used this drug every year in recent years. And they depend on it. The misoprostol only, the second drug regimen, does lead to more symptoms and side effects, takes longer and is a little bit less effective. So, if you're comparing risk profiles, that's why you want the two-drug gold standard.

It's also the case that, according to the CDC, about 1,200 women in the United States a year die from underlying causes from pregnancy and childbirth. So if you're looking at a risk profile and expecting those people will continue those pregnancies, you have much more health damage.

Essentially what this case is about is anti-abortion forces trying to control and it eliminates abortion nationwide, and that's the problem. It's thrown medicine into chaos.

The other thing these pills do is allow people to avoid clinic visits by using telemedicine and then bail and so it increases access. The true risk of these pills that's being litigated is the risk of women's freedom to control their reproductive destiny. That's what they want to label to say, you know, careful, this allows self determination.

TAPPER: So one last question, Senator Klobuchar raised the spectrum of -- I mean, if this precedent goes forward. Judges could -- one judge somewhere could decide that they don't think the birth control pill is safe and issue a nationwide ban or severe restrictions on that.

Do you agree?

WATSON: It's absolutely possible, and that's why I take heart in the fact that the Supreme Court is needing extra time.


My hope is that there are jurists who see how this goes so far beyond abortion and the incredible threat to the federal regulatory system that this case poses. The idea that a single using this very strong standard, arbitrary and capricious could say I disagree with the FDA's scientific analysis and wreak havoc on drug approval generally?

Let's hope the Supreme Court upholds the rule of law and sees that for the larger, systemic issue that it is.

TAPPER: Professor Katie Watson, thank you so much for your thoughts. Appreciate it.

We're also getting new details in each of those shocking cases, three cases now of young people who showed up to places, accidentally in the wrong place, and were met by gunfire.

And we're going to learn more about the cheerleaders shot in Texas when one of them accidentally open a man's car door, the wrong car door. The head of the cheer program is here.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our national lead, people in three separate cases across the United States this week made everyday honest mistakes, momentarily confused about where they were, and that should be the end of those stories. They shouldn't be news. But in all three of these cases, innocent people were met with

bullets. Twenty-year-old Kaylin Gillis was shot and killed Saturday after she and three others accidentally turned into the wrong driveway while looking for a friend's house in rural upstate New York.


ANDY GILLIS, FATHER OF SHOOTING VICTIM KAYLIN GILLIS: For this man to sit on his porch and fire at a car with no threat is just -- it angers me so badly. And I just hope to God that he dies in jail.


TAPPER: Ralph Yarl, a Black teenager in Kansas City, was shot twice by a white homeowner after going to the wrong address. He was going to pick up his siblings.


FAITH SPOONMORE, AUNT OF SHOOTING VICTIM RALPH YARL: You just cannot wrap your head around it from being shot for doing absolutely nothing wrong.


TAPPER: Thankfully, 16-year-old Ralph Yarl survived despite being shot in the head.

The homeowner Andrew Lester today pleaded not guilty to one count of felony armed assault and one count of armed criminal action.

Then there's the case in Texas, where two teenage cheerleaders were shot after one said she mistook the suspects vehicle as her own in a supermarket parking lot. One of those cheerleaders remains hospitalized.


HEATHER ROTH, SHOOTING VICTIM: And I was trying to apologize to him and then just started shooting at all of us.


TAPPER: Some encouraging news in this Texas case, the teen is now up and face timing friends, according to the manager of her cheer program.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is covering this Texas story.

Ed, what do we know about the suspect in this case, and what are we hearing from the victims?

Well, investigators in Elgin, Texas, just outside of Austin, say the suspect is 25-year-old Pedro Tello Rodriguez Jr. and he's being held on $500,000 bond for a charge of deadly conduct, which is a third degree felony. Court documents indicate that he was previously known to Elgin

investigators from previous law enforcement encounters. We've asked Elgin officials what exactly that means, but they would not add any more context.

This shooting happened just after midnight Tuesday morning. These four cheerleaders drive together, they carpool from the Austin area to the Houston area three times a week for practice, so they had just gotten back.

Heather Roth, one of the cheerleaders, gets out of the car, and she starts getting in what she thought was her own car when she noticed a man in the passenger seat. So she returned back to her friend's car, but by then police say the suspect had come around and that's when everyone around with these four cheerleaders say that man just randomly opened fire on all four of them.

Heather Roth recounted to her cheerleading squad yesterday during the vigil what that moment was like.


ROTH: He's going backing up. I see the guy get out of the passenger door and I rolled my window down, and I was trying to apologize. And then here. I just halfway my window is down, just threw his hands up and then he pulled out a gun and he started shooting at all of us.


LAVANDERA: Heather Roth was treated and released there at the scene. Payton Washington remains in the hospital. But as you mentioned we were having encouraging news on there, she's been taken off the ventilator, and she is now starting to talk with family and friends and even face timing people from the hospital as you mentioned -- Jake.

TAPPER: Ed Lavandera in Texas, thanks so much.

With us now, Lynne Shearer, who owns the gym we're both victims in this Texas case train.

And, Lynne, earlier you told CNN that Payton Washington is doing better, even though she lost her spleen and has damage to her pancreas and diaphragm. That was earlier today. How's she doing this afternoon?

LYNNE SHEARER, MANAGING PARTNER, WOODLANDS ELITE CHEER COMPANY: Yeah, that's correct. She's doing better. She's still in ICU because they're concerned about the risk of infections. So they're pumping her with antibiotics, hoping that close her all up on later this week, maybe Friday, and then she can kind of start the recovery process.

TAPPER: She's an elite athlete. She's a high school senior who is committed to Baylor University's acrobatics and tumbling team. Obviously, we're glad that she's alive after this senseless act, but are you worried that this could throw off her future athleticism?


LYNNE SHEARER, MANAGING PARTNER, WOODLANDS ELITE CHEER COMPANY: I -- everybody is very hopeful for a full recovery, including the doctors. I think that she will fully recover. She's an incredibly strong athlete, incredibly strong person.

She's recovered from other things in the past. She's lived her whole life with only one lung and done amazing things athletically. So, we all have, you know, hopes and feel and feel like she will have a full recovery and be able to attend Baylor in the fall, and continue in the acro and tumbling sport.

TAPPER: Well, certainly, praying for that.

The other cheerleader who was shot, Heather Roth, she said she was trying to apologize to the man for accidentally getting into the wrong car when he got out of the passenger door. Now, Roth is still planning to compete in the world championships this weekend in Orlando that that shows incredible resilience.

How's she doing? Is she -- I mean, this is such a traumatic event.

SHEARER: The girls are all completely traumatized physically. The rest of them are doing well, except for Payton. This competition this weekend is the end of their all star career. It's the biggest competition of the season, and for them, it's the last time for them to compete.

So there's almost nothing that would keep them from competing this weekend. It's going to be a much tougher road now without Payton. We're going to do the best we can, and I don't think there's much that we keep those girls from being there this weekend.

TAPPER: As a -- as a bigger picture issue here. We've seen young people in the last week all over the country, just accidentally in the wrong place. Making very human mistakes I've driven into the wrong driveway have knocked on the wrong door. I've accidentally gotten into the wrong car. I've done all those things.

And yet these kids are being shot in the -- in New York, even killed for this. What do you -- what do you make of this all?

SHEARER: Yeah, it's crazy. I mean, I don't make anything good of it, that's for sure. It's not -- it's not a good sign of where we're headed by any means. It's sad and it's unfortunate and, it's clearly a case of they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

There was no altercation whatsoever from the girls. There was no words spoken. It was clearly an innocent, you know, mistake like you said. So it's frustrating. It's going to affect them probably for the rest of their life.

So it's -- I don't even know what else to say. It's just -- it's incredibly unbelievable. TAPPER: Yeah, it just makes you wonder. I've said this so many times

on the show. The adults of this nation are failing the children of this nation. I wish I could stop saying that, but it just keeps getting worse.

Lynne Shearer, thank you so much. Thoughts and prayers with you and your entire community.

SHEARER: You're welcome. Thank you.

TAPPER: Coming up next, the CEO of Dominion Voting Systems is here. We'll get his response to those who ask, why not make that settlement with Fox include on air apologies for all those lies told on TV about the 2020 election that did such damage to this nation.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our money lead today, Fox is $787.5 million poorer and the company's problems are not going to stop there. As CNN's Danny Freeman reports for us now, even after Fox settled its lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems, it is still entangled in several other cases.


DANNY FREEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After a historic settlement for Dominion Voting Systems --

JUSTIN NELSON, CO-LEAD COUNSEL FOR DOMINION VOTING SYSTEMS: The truth matters. Lies have consequences.

FREEMAN: -- the potential consequences of another defamation case loom on the horizon for Fox News.

Even before Dominion filed its $1.6 billion lawsuit, saying Fox knowingly lied about its voting machines, Smartmatic, a different voting technology company, filed a similar suit, this one seeking $2.7 billion in damages, accusing Fox News, several of its hosts and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, falsely saying Smartmatic rigged the 2020 election.

MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX NEWS HOST: I have spoken with a few whistleblowers myself this weekend. And one source, who is an IT specialist, told me that he knows the software and specifically advised people in Texas -- officials in Texas not to use it, and yet he was overruled.

FREEMAN: The company also argued Fox falsely claimed Smartmatic was linked to former Venezuela President Hugo Chavez.

SIDNEY POWELL, MEMBER OF FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LEGAL TEAM: Smartmatic agreed to create such a system and produce the software and hardware that accomplished the result for President Chavez. After the Smartmatic electrical management -- electoral management system was put in place, he closely observed several elections where the results were manipulated using the Smartmatic software.

FREEMAN: Fox denies wrongdoing, saying they were just covering the news, an argument the Dominion judge threw out. Smartmatic cases currently still in the discovery phase at this time.

Meanwhile, CNN has learned exclusive new details about how yesterday's $787 million Dominion settlement came to be. Sources tell CNN's Oliver Darcy and Marshal Cohen, Fox and Dominion couldn't lock in a deal themselves over the weekend, so they called veteran mediator Jerry Roscoe. Roscoe, who's helped resolve wartime disputes in the Balkans, was on a cruise in Europe on Sunday when he was brought in a day before the trial was set to begin.

After several Zoom meetings and phone calls, the deal was finalized around 2:00 Tuesday afternoon and signed just minutes before the judge announced the resolution in open court.


FREEMAN (on camera): Now, Jake, Smartmatic and Fox both released statements in the past 24 hours, basically saying they're looking forward to litigation and to potential trial on their case in 2025, so you can imagine we're probably going to be having the same conversations about some of the same conspiracy theories for the next two years -- Jake.


TAPPER: All right. Danny Freeman, thanks so much.

Let's bring in the CEO of Dominion Voting Systems, John Poulos.

John, thanks so much for joining us.

I want to read you some of what Fox issued as a statement after the deal. They wrote: We acknowledge the court's rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false. I want to ask you about that in a second. But first, they go on to say: This settlement reflects Fox's continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards, unquote.

Is that how you see the settlement, as an example of Fox's commitment to the highest level of journalistic standards?


For us at Dominion, this has always been about getting the truth out and holding the eight different entities that have defamed us to account. The fact that the world knows all the details behind that, and behind what happened in particular with Fox Corp and Fox News, and it did come out in our motion for summary judgment meant for us that we had accomplished that. The only remaining item for us was for the jury to set the amount and the liability.

And ultimately, a lot of people don't appreciate what goes into a trial. We have a lot of employees that have experienced trauma and we have six more trials. And to go and I suspect that they will go all the way to a jury verdict, all other six, and that's something that we don't take lightly. We've asked a lot of our election officials to testify, for no personal gain of their own, and frankly, they all said yes, everyone we had asked said yes.

And that's not an easy thing for us to ask of, and it's not something we did lightly, especially considering we have six more to go.

TAPPER: Right. You mentioned all the traumatized employees of Dominion. I don't -- I don't doubt it for a second. What's going to happen with them?

Obviously, the private equity managers that own Dominion are going to get a lot of money. Obviously, those lawyers are going to get a lot of money. I imagine, a third or so, that's usually how these things go.

What's going to happen with those employees you say you're traumatized? Are they going to get any of this huge settlement?

POULOS: Those are terrible assumptions, Jake.

Our partners at Staples Street Capital have been nothing other than unconditionally supportive of us. The only question that they really ever asked to me and our employees during this time was how they could help. In the early days, it was -- I reached out to them and asked them for help assembling the legal team.

So you bring up the legal team, we had, I think, assembled the best group of lawyers that anyone really could ever hope for, and I think it showed in the judge's remarks the other day.

And, as far as our employees, absolutely. We have a number of employees that are shareholders. And our commitment has always been to our shareholders. Absolutely every one of our employees will benefit from this, and our customers will benefit from this from the fact that we have longevity as a company.

TAPPER: Uh-huh. You said in the press conference right after the settlement was announced that Fox had apologized for telling those election lines. They didn't apologize. They said in their statement that they acknowledge that the court's ruling find certain claims about Dominion to be false. They don't even acknowledge that those false statements are theirs and they didn't have to acknowledge any of this on air.

How did that work? Did you want them to go on air and apologize and say we misled you? And they said, well, how about we give you $100 million more? And we don't have to do that?

I mean, where was the negotiation on making sure that their viewers who are the ones that believe these lies. CNN's viewers don't believe these lies. ABC NBC, CBS, PBS, MSNBC, they don't believe the lies. It's Fox viewers believe these lies.

Why not get them to acknowledge it? POULOS: I suppose for myself, I have not really thought through, and

I think we probably disagree on the effect of what an apology really would mean for their viewers. Viewers turned to their trusted media sources, whatever the channel is. And for us, it was about accountability.

And we -- if anything, we wanted this settlement and the dollars obviously are very significant for any entity, including Fox --

TAPPER: It's huge, yeah.

POULOS: -- to be -- it's huge, and I think lies have consequences as Justin Nelson in that press release that you played at the beginning of the spot here.

But for any media company, Jake, I'm sure you included, the next time you decide to make a statement that your that your fact checkers are telling you is not true, you know, you should probably apologize, do it two days in a row.


You should probably apologize.


TAPPER: But that doesn't happen. Journalists -- journalists don't do that. I'm like, look, every journalist makes mistakes. I mean, that is just that happens, but the kind of deception that you and your lawyers laid out multiple lies over and over, over the course of months, text messaging and emails suggesting that they knew that the guests were spewing lies, they knew that that some of their own hosts like Maria Bartiromo were saying things that were not true that they did not believe to be true.

So it's not -- what Fox, the settlement they pay, that's nothing to do with what I do for a living. When I make a mistake, I go on air. I apologize. I -- you know, it happens. Everybody makes mistakes.

This is not a mistake. This is malice. This is lying to the American people.

And honestly, John, Fox barely covered this on their website yesterday. We found one article buried deep on their website about the settlement. It does not mention the 787.5 historic million dollar amount.

You said this morning. You hope that Fox is going to learn the lessons and start telling the truth. Have you seen any evidence that they're going to start telling the truth?

POULOS: Well, Jake, you said a number of things there. To me, the fact that you know all these facts has meant that we reached one part of our goal. That's very important for us, for our employees and for our customers. And the fact that everyone in the world knows these facts is a

testament to the fact that we had the support to take this through with our team all the way to summary judgment. We also felt that the amount of money that was paid speaks for itself.

You know, we may disagree -- we may agree to disagree on what an apology would actually do. I'm more concerned about the next instance on any channel. My hope is that media tells the truth. We have a very high standard for individuals to sue media companies for defamation.

In my opinion, it's exactly the way it should be. It should be a hopes standard. I think that media, you know, can be expected once in a while to get things wrong, and then correct it in the in pursuit of the truth. But this is something different. This was 20 statements over 2-1/2 months.

TAPPER: Right.

POULOS: This was not a case of them not knowing the truth and that is laid out very, very clearly in the motion for summary judgment, and in the judge's words, you know, quoted, it's crystal clear that Dominion did not rig the 2020 election.

TAPPER: Of course, they didn't. Of course, you didn't. And neither did Smartmatic. Of course, the Italians -- I mean, it's so nonsensical, all of it, and yet they completely abdicated whatever pretense of journalism ever had.

POULOS: There's a large --

TAPPER: And it really, honestly, this has nothing to do with what every other news network does. This has to do with Fox News, Newsmax and OANN.

POULOS: Jake, you say that. It's, of course, we didn't, and that's great that you never believed that. I can tell you that there's a large percent of the population that did believe it because they tune in to Fox as their trusted news source.


TAPPER: Right. That's my question. Why not force them to tell all those people all those misled Americans, which polls indicate millions of them still believe this nonsense? Why not force them to say, we shouldn't have done that, that was false, you have been misled, Joe Biden actually won, Dominion and Smartmatic and all that stuff was operating fine?

Why not force them to do that? Was -- was it just like, we'll give you $200 million more if you don't force us to do it? Because you could have forced them to do it.

POULOS: Well, A, the defamation -- the defamation part of the law is really not built around apologies. It is built to compensate for damage. And I can tell you, we had a company wide call yesterday and the

unanimous consent in our company is if we could trade this all in and go back in time and have our company reputation back, we would do so single time.

TAPPER: Exactly, exactly. That's -- but that's my point. What is the -- what are your plans for the company? I mean, can you continue?

There are still these people out there, elections officials who are refusing to use certain software. There are still individuals who are associated with Donald Trump still out there like saying that these electronic machines, Dominion, Smartmatic, et cetera, cannot be trusted. I mean, it's -- this lie persists.

POULOS: Well, to the first part of the question, we still have six more parties in litigation and we intend to take it right to the very end, and to hold them accountable. In terms of our election officials, our technology features voter verified paper ballots.


And we continue as long as our as well as our election officials continue to urge voters everywhere of all political leanings to reach out to their local election officials and learn about how their elections are actually run.

TAPPER: All right. Well, John, you guys got done dirty by Fox and the MAGA ecosphere, media ecosphere, and it sucks that it happened to you. Thanks so much for joining us today. Really appreciate it.

POULOS: Thanks very much, Jake.

TAPPER: In the world lead, comments from the U.S. government's Afghanistan watchdog John Sopko today before Congress.


JOHN SOPKO, SPECIAL INSPECTOR GENERAL FOR AFGHANISTAN RECONSTRUCTION: Unfortunately, as I sit here today, I cannot assure this committee or the American taxpayer we are not currently funding the Taliban. I haven't seen a starving Taliban fighter on TV. They all seem to be fat, dumb and happy. I see a lot of starving Afghan children on TV.


TAPPER: While Mr. Sopko agreed the humanitarian aid to the embattled country is important, he cautioned that this money risks falling into Taliban hands.

CNN's Salma Abdelaziz brings us now stories of Afghans currently suffering under the Taliban's oppressive regime.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He was tortured by the Taliban, he says, just for reporting the truth. I was thinking of death every moment. I thought this is the last day

of my life, he says.

ABDELAZIZ: Last December, 30 Taliban fighters stormed journalist Tabbouleh Nori's (ph) home in the Afghan city of Taleqan.

The men beat him over and over with the butt of their rifles, then arrested him, allegedly for publishing anti-Taliban propaganda.

I'm a journalist. I report the truth, whether that's against the Taliban or anyone else, but they wouldn't stop, he says. They said call your mother so she can hear you scream.

As the Taliban seize control in the summer of 2021. Thousands of terrified families flocked to the Kabul airport, desperate to escape what they knew of the group's barbaric rules. The Taliban vowed reform, pledging to be more progressive than there last time in power.

Instead the group quickly fell back on its old playbook ruled by fear press without mercy group ordered judges to fully impose its extremist interpretation of Islamic law that includes public executions, floggings and amputations.

And in December, it carried out the first known public execution. An alleged murderer was shot three times in a public square. And over the course of just two months, the Taliban carried out floggings against more than 180 men, women and children, according to the U.N. like this one, the secretly recorded video shows the Taliban militant flogging a man in a football stadium. Other accused criminals await their punishment with onlookers in the stands.

And any perceived dissent against their rule is met with brutality.

Zafra (ph) agreed to speak to CNN on condition of anonymity. He was imprisoned by the group for allegedly joining an anti-Taliban military alliance, a charge he denies.

I wasn't shoved a water pipe down my throat a bag around my head, he says. They sat on my belly and ordered me to confess that I am a member of the resistance forces.

After four months of torture in detention was released. He now lives in hiding. His repeated attempts to flee Afghanistan have failed.

Countless Afghans have attempted the same, risking their lives to find safety away from their brutalized homeland, perilous journey that has claimed many lives.

Like that of Afghan female journalist Torpekai Amarkhel. She was among more than 60 migrants who drowned at sea when their ship sank off the coast of Italy.

Fortunately, Nuri has made it out alive with his family after his release. Now, a refugee in Pakistan, he still lives in fear.

I'm not safe in Pakistan, he says. Anything can happen here. Anything. But those left behind remain hopeful that the international community will hear their please, even if raising their voice means risking their lives.


ABDELAZIZ (on camera): Jake, it's just important for me to acknowledge the bravery of those men who came forward and spoke to us. We approached several people that were afraid of repression, as you can imagine, under the hands of Tali -- of the Taliban, just for speaking out.


And that here is the impact of their rules. Civil society has essentially been erased by Taliban rules. Think of the most recent ruling that women working for the United Nations couldn't go into the offices, forcing the United Nations to say everybody has to stay behind. And for those still there, there's very little hope for a future -- Jake.

TAPPER: Salma Abdelaziz, thank you so much.

Coming up next, today's stunning development from the U.S. Supreme Court, the justices delaying their own inevitable decision for another two days on the matter of abortion pills and access to mifepristone. The legal and medical confusion this creates, that's ahead.