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With 3 Days Remaining, Senate and House Cannot Agree on Funding; Dangerous Journey as Migrants Attempt 1,000-mile Voyage to the U.S.; Pizza Box DNA Confirmed Suspect of Gilgo Beach Murders, According to Prosecutors; Interview with Trial Attorney Misty Marris; Majority of White Patients Receive Ozempic and Wegovy. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired September 27, 2023 - 10:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN NEWS CENTRAL CO-ANCHOR: This morning, Kevin McCarthy is pointing fingers. Not pointing fingers at the right wing of his conference who continues to block any and all movement that he has tried to make on avoiding a government shutdown. No, he is now trying to point the finger and place blame on the Senate, specifically Senate Democrats.


And also trying to put this on the White House and President Biden, even though Kevin McCarthy and his Republican conference are in the majority and in charge of the House of Representatives. He literally is the final say for what is and isn't allowed on the house floor to get a vote. As for the Senate, the Senate is now proposing a bipartisan plan to fund the government through November 17th, which means lots of work ahead. But is there any opening for that, even in the House?

CNN's Manu Raju in the middle of it on Capitol Hill for us this morning. So, what is happening now?

MANU RAJU, CNN ANCHOR, INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY AND CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the speaker went behind closed doors with this conference this morning, urging them to get behind a short-term spending plan to keep the government open past September 30th. He argued to his members that they would not push forward on their preferred plans to try to secure the border with Mexico if there was a shutdown, that was his warning to his member. He even said that he's not a -- you don't make your best decisions when you are emotional. That's what he said, according to sources in the room.

And he also indicated that there was not support for the Senate proposal that would fund the government until mid-September. The bipartisan deal cut by Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, Chuck Schumer, the Senate Majority Leader, would -- in addition to keeping the government open, but also would provide $6 billion in aid to Ukraine, $6 billion in disaster relief. That aid to Ukraine a major flash point among House Republicans that McCarthy indicating that he would not take that plan up.

So, where does that leave things? Very uncertain. And the outgrowing expectation that a shutdown could happen. McCarthy though is still trying to get a vote on Friday on his plan which would cut spending but also would provide -- include some of those border security measures. But in talking to some of those conservative hardliners, they are making clear that even if McCarthy go forward on a plan to try to win them over to keep the government open, they will still vote against it.


REP. WESLEY HUNT (R-TX): (INAUDIBLE) at this point, given the catastrophe that we've seen economically in this country it would be a fool's errand. So, as of right now until I see something that's significant, I'm a no on a CR?

RAJU: Is there any situation you'd vote for a CR?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The speaker and majority leader that have to accept responsibility for that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he fails, then he let -- there will be consequences.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look, at the end of the day, leadership procrastinated and created a mess. Now, we got to find a way through it. And if that means staying a couple of extra weeks with a shutdown, that's fine.


RAJU: And therein lies the challenge for Speaker McCarthy who has a math problem because he can only afford to lose four Republican votes on any party line bill. There are more than four of those hardliners to plan to vote against any stopgap measure whatsoever, which is why the expectation right now is that there will be a shutdown. How long that will last remains to be seen. And what McCarthy will ultimately do if that questions, also major questions dominating Washington.

BOLDUAN: And when you see very evidently, Manu, from your conversations with members when they're no -- when they no longer really see a shutdown as a scary, bad thing you've lost the leverage there is what you see, especially with some of the members you're speaking with. Thanks, Manu, as always.


SARA SIDNER, CNN NEWS CENTRAL CO-ANCHOR: A desperate journey towards a better life is fueling the migrant crisis at the U.S. border. For hundreds of thousands of migrants, that border though is far from the first stop. Just getting to Mexico is a death-defying challenge.

CNN's David Culver is near Mexico, southern border with Guatemala where many migrants seek asylum for the very first time.


DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): As you touchdown in Southern Mexico, be ready to share the road with migrants. We spot group after group marching north. Many of those who just illegally crossed into Mexico head here, this outdoor park turned migration processing center.

CULVER: He wants to go legally into the U.S. So, he wants to go through this process here. Get his documentation and then get to the northern border and eventually cross.

CULVER (voiceover): Last year, Mexico says some 77,000 migrants applied for asylum in Mexico, more than half of them do it in Tapachula. This year on track to be nearly double that, a record high. To get to Tapachula, it's an hour's drive or a day's walk from the Suchiate River, Guatemala on one side, Mexico on the other. And in the shadows of the official crossing between the two countries an armada of rafts casually ferrying group after group.

CULVER: Wow, they're having their first child. She's five months pregnant.

CULVER (voiceover): Days earlier, they crossed the treacherous jungle terrain of the Darien Gap, connecting Colombia and Panama.

CULVER: Oh, my God. They have -- I mean, they just described passing through the Darien Gap and they said several people had passed away. A lot of kids. They saw the remains and he says, children who are abandoned.


CULVER (voiceover): Those images haunt Suzana Aleman (ph), describing the journey she made with her four young kids. But even admits through her tear-filled pain, little ones lighten the load.

CULVER: He got a little shampoo left in his hand.

CULVER (voiceover): His 12-year-old sister, Sophia (ph), helping clean it out as Joandre (ph) then turns the questions on me.

JOANDRE (PH), MIGRANT CHILD: (Speaking in a foreign language).

CULVER: (Speaking in a foreign language).

SOPHIA (PH), MIGRANT CHILD: (Speaking in a foreign language).

CULVER: She says, I'm older than her dad.

CULVER (voiceover): Curiosity brings their siblings and cousins. And Joandre (ph) takes over the mic, telling me why they left Venezuela.

JOANDRE (PH): (Speaking in a foreign language).

CULVER: six years old, he even speaks of Venezuelan economy as bad.

CULVER (voiceover): But as they share disturbing memories surface.

CULVER: He's talking about -- these are children, mind you, having gone through the Darein and the bodies that they saw. He's describing seeing a blond woman.

CULVER (voiceover): Sophia's (ph) pain as she remembers saying goodbye to loved ones.

CULVER: Her little heart breaking. The friendships that she's lost.


CULVER (on camera): Now, those young kids have been through so much already, and they've got a lot more to go. Sara, they end up tomorrow planning to come about an hour's drive from where we met them at the riverbank here to Tapachula. And you can see tents behind me, encampments set up. You've got even folks marking their space with just plastic and cardboard and few belongings they're able to bring with them. And then they get into this big line here which is where many of them are hoping to get some sort of documentation to be in Mexico legally. Though not to stay in Mexico, of course, Sara, the vast majority just trying to buy some time to get to the U.S.

SIDNER: Thank you, David Culver for that striking story there in Tapachula, Mexico.



So, the murder suspect in the Gilgo Beach serial killings just in court moments ago. What we learned about pizza crust and DNA swabs.



SIDNER: Just moments ago, Rex Heuermann, the murder suspect in the Gilgo Beach killings was back in a New York courtroom. And we are learning new details about evidence in that case from the Suffolk County district attorney. Listen.


RAY TIERNEY, SUFFOLK COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: So as everyone, I think, knows that there was an abandonment sample obtained from the defendant via the pizza box and the pizza that was in the pizza box. A DNA profile was obtained from that pizza subsequent to the defendant's arrest. A buccal swab was taken of the defendant, a DNA profile was obtained from that buccal swab, and the buccal swab of the defendant matches the DNA profile from that of the abandonment sample in the pizza box.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SIDNER: That is a big development. Heuermann was -- has pleaded not guilty to the deaths of three women more than a decade ago.

I want to bring in Trial Attorney Misty Marris for your expertise. You just read what happened in court. You just heard the buccal swab, something they take from the cheek, matched the pizza crust which was the thing that the DNA initially that got him under suspicion in the first place. How big of a deal is this new evidence that we've just heard about?

MISTY MARRIS, TRIAL ATTORNEY: That's huge. Because that buccal swab, remember the court ordered that he have that cheek swab done. That's a different type of DNA than what was found in the pizza crust. That's what's called mitochondrial DNA. It's a mix of forensics and family tracing. This is direct DNA called nuclear DNA.

So, the reason that that buccal swab happens, it either confirms that it's a match or it exonerates somebody because it doesn't match. Here, the D.A. has come out and said, this is a match, so now this case is full speed ahead with the tremendous amount of evidence that we know prosecutors are now turning over to the defense.

SIDNER: Is there anything once something like that DNA evidence comes back that he can defend himself with? What would his lawyers do in this case?

MARRIS: Defense attorneys are always going to look to questioning the science. There's going to be defenses about how it was collected. There will be defenses about whether or not it is a confirmed match. They'll have their own experts on the stand that will raise questions and doubts, because remember the prosecution has the burden. The defense pokes the holes, and so that's the way it happens. It becomes what's called a battle of the experts.

But, Sara, this is a tremendous move for prosecutors to have that match because, as you said, that pizza crust was what really put the nail in the coffin as far as the arrest of Heuermann in this case.

SIDNER: Right. It was discarded and then the police found that any they found a hair that was in one of the sacks where one of these women's bodies were found. So, I mean, that has a lot of -- peaked a lot of people's interests and certainly it led to his arrest.

I do want to ask you about something else that is going on in this case that may seem a bit strange. His estranged wife who is in the process of divorcing him has asked authorities to return some 200 firearms, 200 guns that was confiscated. She wants them back. Is there any chance of that?


MARRIS: So, when the house was searched, we know that there was this cache of weapons, over 200 weapons. Now, she's filed for divorce. So, her argument is that all of those should be a part of the estate, a part of the assets that would be distributed in the divorce. She wants to sell them because she's out of money. If you remember, she said the house was trashed. However, what happened in this case? Prosecutors have said all of those should be returned to Nassau County, which is his county of residence to assess whether or not any of those guns were obtained illegally. Did he have legal possession of them? That could be a whole other set of charges.

And keep in mind, Sara, they're still looking at him --

SIDNER: There are other cases.

MARRIS: Exactly. So, there's going to be forensic testing on those. Will she get them eventually? That's possible, depending. But I think that is lightyears down the road. There's no way that prosecutors are going have these guns given up at this point. Think about it, what if there were to be a connection and now something sold on the market, and at several sales later and it is untraceable.

So, there's going to be -- the court is going to weigh that. And the connection with -- by the way, 8,000 documents, 10,000 more document to come, tremendous amount of evidence. So, I don't think we're going to see that being turned over to his wife any time soon.

SIDNER: And we should be clear, I think the wife is asking for those guns so she can sell them because they are really having difficulties with money now that the husband is in jail. Thank you so much, Misty Marris, for going through that new information with us. It is a very big development in the case.

MARRIS: Absolutely.

SIDNER: All right. Kate.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, we have exclusive new reporting this morning. The wide disparity between who has access to popular weight loss drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy and who does not. We'll be back.



BERMAN: Exclusive reporting out this morning shows that demand for popular weight loss drugs has skyrocketed, but it's only reaching a small percentage of those who would benefit most.

CNN Medical Correspondent Meg Tirrell has the details here. Meg, so who would benefit most and who is getting it instead?

MEG TIRRELL, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, we hear so much about these medicines. It seems, sort of, like everybody might be on them. But exclusive new data that CNN has obtained shows that 1.7 percent of the population had a prescription for Ozempic or Wegovy in 2023, and that is really just a fraction of the number of people who could qualify for these medicines based on having diabetes or obesity. About 15 percent of the U.S. population of adults has diabetes. 40 percent has obesity.

That 1.7 percent though, that's still millions of patients. And these data further show that there are some disparities and who is actually getting access to these medicines. We know that supply is constrained and insurance can be a problem. 70 percent of prescriptions in 2023 went to white patients, even though we know that obesity and diabetes disproportionately affects people of color more so than white patients.

And you know, I was talking with a cardiologist at Yale, Dr. Harlan Krumholz, about this. He said he was surprised that that 70 percent wasn't even higher given some of the disparities in access to these drugs, John.

BERMAN: So, talk to me more about the disparities in access and what it is being used for instead of what might be most beneficial to the most people.

TIRRELL: Yes. So, you know, Ozempic is approved for type 2 diabetes, Wegovy is for weight loss. And we looked at off-label use of Ozempic, so that's for anything other than diabetes which it's approved for. And we've seen that off-label use has been going up over the years, from 16 percent in 2021 to 36 percent in 2023. Now. that could be explained by some problems with insurance reimbursement for Wegovy. That can be really hard to get.

You know, a big question a lot of people have is how many people are using this for just cosmetic reasons really when they don't fit who the FDA approved these for? We found in the data, just three percent of people considered at a healthy weight to start with have gotten prescriptions for these medicines. So, perhaps at least in the medical system. it's not as widespread as we thought.

BERMAN: All right. Meg Tirrell, thank you so much. Important information there.


SIDNER: Thank you, John.

We're getting new details this hour on the U.S. army private that North Korea just expelled. He is now in U.S. custody. Where Travis King is right now and how this all went down, that's ahead.