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Spokesperson: Harry & Meghan In "Near Catastrophic" Car Chase; Day Two Of Marathon Debate Over Proposed Abortion Ban In SC; Federal Appeals Court Takes Up Abortion Pill Ban. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired May 17, 2023 - 14:00   ET




BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN NEWS CENTRAL HOST: A near catastrophic car chase through New York City, Prince Harry, and Meghan's team describing an incident that conjures up disturbing memories of Princess Diana's death. CNN has exclusive details from part of their security detail and the non-response from Buckingham Palace.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN NEWS CENTRAL HOST: President Biden canceling two stops on his trip to the Asia Pacific so he can get back to Washington to negotiate raising the debt ceiling. But could it make America's influence weaker while China's gets stronger?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWS CENTRAL HOST: And happening now in South Carolina, debate over hundreds of amendments that would -- to a bill that would ban most abortions. It's an attempt to delay that bill's passage. We are following these major developing stories and many more all coming in right here to CNN NEWS CENTRAL.

SANCHEZ: It could have been fatal. That's how Prince Harry's team is describing what they call a near-catastrophic car chase with paparazzi last night. It happened after the Women of Vision Awards at the Ziegfeld ballroom where Meghan was honored. A law enforcement source tells CNN that a swarm of paparazzi blocked off streets near the 19 police precinct, and the couple's team had to figure out extraction plans to get away

Let's start with CNN's Max Foster, who's live for us in London. Max, what more are you learning about this incident and this chase with paparazzi?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as soon as I left that award ceremony, there were about a dozen vehicles, so cars, bikes, and also pedal bikes as well -- so motorbikes and pedal bikes. And they were surrounding the car. And this went on for more than two hours as I understand it from the Sussex side, and it was a very chaotic scene.

When it was finally over, they were exhausted, they were scared, and of course, this all takes Harry back to how his mother died in a car crash involving the paparazzi. Something that he vowed to protect Meghan from, which is why they moved to America. And suddenly this happens there. I spoke to a member of their security detail on the phone. And he described the situation -- he used to be with a secret service and he -- his name was Boris -- his name is Chris Sanchez, rather.

And he said I've never seen experienced anything like this. What we were dealing with was very chaotic. There were about a dozen vehicles, cars, scooters, and bicycles, the public were in jeopardy at several points. It could have been fatal.

They're not saying that the couple were ever at risk. There wasn't a crash. But they were very concerned at several points that someone crossing the road or on the sidewalk could have been hit by these paparazzi who were basically going through red lights and acting very recklessly.

SANCHEZ: Yes, frightening moments there. Let's go to CNN's Jason Carroll now who's at the 19th police precinct in New York. Jason, what are officials in New York saying about what transpired?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, police say that, at one point last night, they described it as a "dangerous situation." According to the Duke and Duchess's team, this was a situation that involves several things. Unidentified people they say driving recklessly, driving on the sidewalk they say, driving the wrong way down a one-way street, running red lights as pedestrians were trying to get out of the way at one point.


Again, we're here at the 19th precinct located about a mile or so from the Ziegfeld Theatre, where this event was taking place last night honoring the Duchess of Sussex. Apparently, they walked the red carpet and they took the pictures that they thought were needed. After the event was over, once they got in their car along with Meghan Markle's mother, they were swarmed by the paparazzi they say, chased for several blocks. They ended up here at the 19th Street precinct or the 19th precinct just to get away from the paparazzi and to regroup and to figure out what their next move was going to be.

New York City's Mayor weighing in on all of this, simply because as you can imagine, a lot of people are asking for more details. The Duke and Duchess saying that this whole ordeal took about two hours they say. The mayor questioned that when we heard from him just a short while ago.


ERIC ADAMS, MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK: I would find it hard to believe that there was a two-hour high-speed chase. That would be -- I find it hard to believe, but we will find out the exact duration of it. But if it's 10 minutes -- a 10-minute chase is extremely dangerous in New York City. We have a lot of traffic, a lot of movement, and a lot of people are using our streets, any type of high-speed chase that involves something of that nature is inappropriate.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CARROLL: The NYPD did not report any collisions, injuries, or arrest. There is a partial statement here that I want to read you from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Their spokesperson would say, basically, last night, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Mrs. Ragland, again Meghan Markle's mother -- Meghan Markle's mother, were involved in a near catastrophic car chase at the hands of a ring of highly aggressive paparazzi. While being a public figure comes with a level of interest from the public, it should never come at the cost of anyone's safety. Guys, back to you.

SANCHEZ: We want to bring in CNN's Richard Quest into this conversation now. It's notable, Richard, that part of the reason that Harry and Meghan have this break with the royal family had to do with security, specifically around paparazzi. And this has to be emotional for Harry. Obviously, his own mother was killed in a similar circumstance, in a chase with paparazzi. What do you make of all of this?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Let's split it into two aspects. So, let's deal with Harry first. This goes to the very heart of all his complaints that nobody listens, nobody does anything.

And in a sense, the statement that Jason Carroll just read out from the -- from the couple is a very large, I told you so. He's put it in blunt terms that this -- and, of course, when you think about what he said to Oprah Winfrey, history was repeating itself. My mother was chased to her death. You want to talk about history repeating itself, they're not going to stop until she dies.

So, that's the Harry part. And we can now see that the -- and certainly today's statements by the New York Police does give legitimacy. This is no longer Harry whining as you say, winging about what goes on.

Now, the other bit. What you're going to do about it? Well, you've got the First Amendment. These paparazzi are merely exercising their First Amendment rights of journalism.

How -- are you going to prosecute them for dangerous driving? They've probably got cameras that can tell you who they were. Unless you do something, you may just not, you know, why bother? So, the big question here is what are the police going to do to actually ensure that this sort of thing does not repeat?

SANCHEZ: We imagined there may be an investigation in the near future as Mayor Eric Adams alluded to. We want to go back to Max Foster now.

QUEST: Well, you can say -- you can say that -- by the way, you could say that about every police force in the United States where Harry and Meghan will put -- will appear, the test becomes how are you going to respect the paparazzi's First Amendment rights but at the same time, protect the public from very dangerous motor chases.

SANCHEZ: Yes. And hold people accountable for putting others in danger. Let's go back to Max Foster now because, Max, I understand you have some new reporting. Bring us up to speed. FOSTER: Well, it's just that -- you know, either we're all asking aren't we what the rest of the family's position is on this? I can tell you that from the Sussex side, I haven't heard anyone from the royal family reach out to them and ask if Harry's OK.

Separately, Buckingham Palace is saying they're not commenting. That is the king and queen and most of the Royals. But separately also Kensington Palace aren't commenting. So, they represent Kate and William.

So, this clearly -- you know, you can read into that what you will. They're not commenting publicly, but they're also not commenting privately at this point. So, we're relying entirely on what we're hearing from the Sussexes.


SANCHEZ: Max Foster, Richard Quest, Jason Carroll, thank you all very much for the reporting. Obviously, we're going to stay on top of the story and bring you the very latest. Brianna.

KEILAR: President Biden is now on his way to Japan for the G7 summit. His trip to the Pacific Region has been cut back though canceling stops in Papa New Guinea and Australia next week in order to get back home as negotiations continue over raising the debt ceiling. Today, the president said he's confident that the nation will not default on its debts, even as the June first deadline rapidly approaches.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: America is not a deadbeat nation. We pay our bills. A nation has never defaulted on its debt and it never will. And we're going to continue these discussions with congressional leaders in the coming days until we reach an agreement.


KEILAR: CNN's Jeremy Diamond is joining us now from the White House. So, Jeremy, Biden canceled his meeting in Australia. Obviously, this was an important one for showing strength in the region as tensions with China are growing. Is this going to be rescheduled?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen. The U.S. has already committed now to hold -- hosting a state visit for the Australian prime minister here at the White House as sort of a way to compensate for this last-minute cancellation. But look, make no mistake, in that region, where the U.S. has been trying to reassert its leadership amid these concerns of an increasingly aggressive China, this is being viewed by some as somewhat of a snub and raising questions once again about the U.S.'s long term commitment to leadership in that region.

Now, White House officials insist that the U.S. is still very much committed to the -- to leadership in the Indo-Pacific to pushing back on China. That's a big part, of course of that QUAD summit that the president was supposed to attend. And they also note that President Biden will nonetheless meet with those leaders of the QUAD, India, Japan, Australia, and the United States while he is in Japan for this G7 summit.

But they also say that canceling this meeting shows that the U.S. is serious about making sure that the U.S. doesn't default on its debt. And that, of course, we know the implications of that could be tremendous in terms of not only the U.S. economic impacts but also in terms of the U.S.'s standing in the world. And that's certainly something that's still going to hang over the president's visit to Japan and this G7 meeting as he is heading into this with the threat of default really looming over him.

But ultimately, the decision to cancel the second part of that trip is a recognition that President Biden needs to be in the room with the Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, next week if they are indeed to finalize a deal to cut spending and to ultimately avert those catastrophic consequences of default. And so, President Biden, he is set to return on Sunday from that trip to Japan. And then very quickly, we expect him to get back in the room with those congressional negotiators following days of conversations between a White House staff and McCarthy's deputies as well, Brianna.

KEILAR: Yes. We saw the Australian press quite animated by Biden and the possibility of him speaking before Parliament, so certainly that is going to be a big disappointment. Jeremy Diamond, thank you. Jim?

SCIUTTO: All right now to Ukraine, a new reporting today. U.S. officials tell me and my colleague Natasha Bertrand that a Patriot air defense system has only minor damage following a Russian missile attack near the Patriot outside the capitol Kyiv on Tuesday morning. An official tells us the U.S. sent inspectors to examine the system yesterday.

I am told it is still functional. The U.S. does not believe Ukrainian forces need to remove the system from the battlefield for any repairs. Ukraine we should note only has two Patriot missile batteries, so this news is significant going forward. And it comes as Ukraine is beginning criminal proceedings against six bloggers for "illegally disseminating information about the country's air defense system" on social media during that very same attack.

CNN's Sam Kiley is following this from Southeastern Ukraine. Sam, I wonder why this tough crackdown? I mean, do they believe that Ukrainian security was compromised by these posts?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There's no evidence. And I don't think that Ukrainians would show any evidence in a prosecution of this nature at this stage in the war if they did think that there had been helped given to the Russian targeting capabilities by deliberate or inadvertent use of social media. In a -- in other words, too rapid reporting or live reporting onto social media of strikes by missiles or indeed the anti-missile systems such as Patriots.

But they have banded for some time. That affects -- neither has affected you and I in our reporting in the past, Jim. And indeed, they are very, very strict about it because they are concerned here in Ukraine that whether it's the media or people using social media consistently broadcast to the Russians where their bombs or missiles are landing so that they can address -- adjust their aim.



KILEY: So, that is why they're doing that. The results of this prosecution, of course, could be some way off. But that does come in the early stages of a summer offensive.


KILEY: and I think they are getting -- they are, there is no question clamping down a lot more on security restricting, for example, the movements of us in the media, Jim.

SCIUTTO: You might say it's a consequence of a war playing out before people's eyes. They've got devices that could easily transmit that information to the world. Sam Kiley, good to have you there. Stay safe in Southeastern Ukraine. Boris.

SANCHEZ: Statehouse members in South Carolina are in a marathon debate after lawmakers introduced more than one thousand amendments to a bill that would ban abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. We have that story next.

And right now, in Louisiana, an appeals court is taking up an abortion pill case that could set the stage for a Supreme Court showdown. Plus, the man accused of killing four University of Idaho students was just indicted on murder charges.

We're following the latest developments in that case. You're watching CNN NEWS CENTRAL. We'll be right back.



SANCHEZ: Right now, a heated and drawn-out abortion debate is happening in South Carolina. The Republican-controlled Statehouse is hoping to pass a bill that would ban most abortions at six weeks. But to do it, they have to plow through some one thousand amendments that Democrats passed onto the bill in an effort to drag out the process. Day two of this legislative marathon is currently underway after State reps were up debating yesterday up until 2:00 a.m.

Right now, we're joined by the Democrat leading this effort, State Representative John Richard King. Sir, thank you so much for sharing part of your afternoon with us. I'm wondering what are you trying to accomplish with these one thousand amendments.

JOHN RICHARD C. KING, DEMOCRATIC STATE REPRESENTATIVE, SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, the main thing is to slow the bill down and to show the state of South Carolina how crazy it is to trample on the rights of women. SANCHEZ: And, Sir, your party tried this, I believe last year, over a bill limiting access to transgender people in sports. If it didn't work then. There are Democratic colleagues of yours that say that this effort to slow it down is pointless. I'm wondering what your response is to them.

KING: Well, I don't believe that it's pointless. I believe that we have to show South Carolina -- South Carolinian women that we care about them. And so, any day that we can slow it down so that women can access quality healthcare in this state, and their rights are not trampled on, I don't think that it is a losing battle.

I think that we show the women of South Carolina that we have to fight for them. But more importantly, in the last election, we lost five Democratic women in the House of Representatives. So, now the voices of women are less in the state. And that is the reason why I championed these particular calls and I was the one who put up a thousand amendments to slow this down.

SANCHEZ: Sir, on that note of losing representation in the Statehouse, voters ultimately decided that. You have spoken out in your fundamental disagreements about a number of things on the legislative agenda this session. I'm wondering what your message is to voters.

KING: Well, I would like to say that the reason why we lost five Democratic black women in the last election is because of redistricting where the Republican-led House messed with their districts and change their districts because they were not going to be with the status quo here in South Carolina and they want to fight for women's rights. And this was an opportunity when the Republicans led -- Republican-led General Assembly, do they have districts to pay for the Republican Party.

SANCHEZ: In 2021, the South Carolina Supreme Court overturned a bill that had passed not that different from this one that banned abortion. Do you think that may happen again?

KING: Well, you have to understand how judges are elected in South Carolina. The men and women of the General Assembly solely elect all judges from the Supreme Court all the way down to the court administration. What you find here is that now that there was -- there were no women on the South Carolina Supreme Court because the General Assembly has elected all men, only one African American on there.

The one African American who was on there was the one who overturned our law in South Carolina. And so now that they have stacked the deck against us here in South Carolina, I'm not sure what will happen because now they have their lead Supreme Court now. We don't -- we're not elected by the general population. Our judges in South Carolina, they're elected by the General Assembly, the House, and the Senate.

SANCHEZ: Sir, we've heard from numerous lawmakers in a very similar position that you're in from several states across the country, essentially watching Republicans remake abortion laws after Roe v. Wade was overturned last summer. Over and over again, at every level, we've heard Democrats say that this needs to be something that gets addressed by Congress. So, I'm wondering if you have a message to federal lawmakers on this issue.

KING: Well, I don't have a message for federal lawmakers, other than that they need to you know do something in reference to abortion and in reference to what we're fighting for, making sure that women's rights are not trampling on. In the state of South Carolina, I believe that we should send it to the voters and allow the voters to vote and decide if they would like to have an abortion ban in South Carolina. I would like to say that the voters in South Carolina would vote that they do not want to ban abortions in South Carolina because they do not believe that is the best health for the women and the state of South Carolina.

SANCHEZ: State Representative John Richard King, thank you so much for sharing your time with us. We appreciate your perspective.

KING: Thank you so very much for having me, Boris.



SCIUTTO: It was not just South Carolina where abortion access could undergo a seismic shift. Right now, a federal appeals court is hearing arguments over a national ban on the abortion pill, mifepristone. Three conservative judges could decide whether women across the country even in states where abortion remains legal will have access to what is now the most common form of abortion in this country.

CNN's Senior Supreme Court Analyst Joan Biskupic joins me now to discuss. Three-judge panel, two Trump appointees, very public on their anti-abortion positions in the past, what is the most likely outcome from this appeals court?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SENIOR SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Well, I can tell you, through the miracle of live streaming, I just removed my earbud and I put this one in instead. But I've already been hearing what they've been saying.


BISKUPIC: And they've already been very skeptical of the Biden Administration's position. Remember, this is the opening of a new chapter on abortion rights litigation challenge to the first pill of a two-drug protocol for medication abortion, which is the main way that most women and their pregnancies in America. There are all sorts of questions here about FDA approval of this drug, but there's a threshold issue that I'm listening for, Jim, and that's the question of whether the anti-abortion physicians and medical groups who have challenged the FDA actually have legal grounds to come in and say they have been harmed.

And the first part of the hearing, as I've been listening to it is all about, do these physicians actually have grounds to say that they can challenge this drug. And I'm telling you that these three judges, as you noted --


BISKUPIC: -- all Republican appointees, two by President Donald Trump, are quite sympathetic to the challengers' claims that because they say they often have to treat women or could be treating women in emergency rooms after they've had problems with abortion. The Biden administration very much challenges that notion.


BISKUPIC: They say they could -- they could be bringing this case. The whole thing overall, not just goes to who can challenge the FDA, but then the FDA's expertise and approval here.

SCIUTTO: Yes. I mean, it's a great point because it's not just about the fishbone significant enough.


SCIUTTO: It's also about the FDA's larger role in approving a whole host of judge -- drugs, which would open up a giant kettle of fish. But let's talk about the Supreme Court's role here.


SCIUTTO: Because as I remember it, when they overturn Roe v. Wade, Justice Kavanaugh specifically said we're returning this to the states. That states decide this would be a national ban here.

BISKUPIC: That would be right because -- and women would not have access to, as I say, this critical first pill of the two-drug protocol.


BISKUPIC: But the Supreme Court itself, which actually came in just you know, late last month to halt all the lower court litigation that was on procedural issues and let it all go forward now on the merits. That's why we're even here today. That's why we've had this pause.

I think the Supreme Court might end up being more sympathetic to the Biden administration than it was in the first round --

SCIUTTO: Interesting.

BISKUPIC: -- when it said the right -- the constitutional right is gone because just for what you say. If states -- individual states are going to be have -- be able to allow abortion, they're going to have to have a way for women to end their pregnancies.


BISKUPIC: And medication abortion is central to that.

SCIUTTO: And as we said, leading into this, currently the number one means of doing so.

BISKUPIC: That's right.

SCIUTTO: Joan Biskupic, always good to have you on. And I know you're going to go back to listening to the case right after this.

BISKUPIC: I'm going to go back right now.

SCIUTTO: Brianna.


KEILAR: The Secret Service is investigating how a man broke into national security adviser Jake Sullivan's home and left without being noticed. We'll have that story next.

And the Capitol police chief says threats to members of Congress have surged 400 percent over the last several years and warns it could get worse. We'll have details ahead.