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Don Lemon Tonight

Politico Leaked Draft By Justice Alito; Promises Not Kept By Trump Appointed Justices; Democrat-Led Team Met With President Zelenskyy; Voters Will React To Scrapping Roe v. Wade; Actions Have Consequences. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired May 02, 2022 - 22:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: The news continues right now. I want to turn things over to Don and DON LEMON TONIGHT. Don?

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: I would say the news never stops, Anderson. You're over there covering it, a huge story, the war in Ukraine. But there is really major breaking news here in the U.S. with seismic implications. Really, I'm talking about what is possibly going to happen in the Supreme Court and what Politico has obtained.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, it's a, it is a stunning leak. It is obviously an overturning of unconstitutional right that women have had in the United States s since the early 70s. So obviously a huge story. No doubt you're going to be covering for the next two hours.

LEMON: Yes. Anderson, we'll see you tomorrow. Thank you very much. I Appreciate it.

This is DON LEMON TONIGHT. And here is the breaking news that we are talking about. As I said, yes, it is a huge story. Politico has obtained what it calls a draft of a majority opinion that's written by Justice Samuel Alito that would strike down Roe v. Wade. The leak is an unheard-of breach of court confidentiality.

We're covering all the angles of this very huge story tonight. Here with me, we're going to go straight to CNN's Joan Biskupic, also with Jeffrey Toobin is with us, Laura Coates and Preet Bharara.

I want to begin now with Joan, though with the reporting on this. Joan, good evening to you. This is only a draft opinion that we're looking at now. It is not a final unpublished -- a final published, I should say. But if this does hold, it would be a seismic shift for this country. What more are we learning?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Absolutely, Don. Absolutely. First of all, CNN has not independently obtained a copy of this opinion or verified it but our own reporting is consistent with the fact that the five most conservative members of this court were ready to take Roe down completely. And Chief Justice John Roberts was willing to say that the Mississippi ban on abortions at 15 weeks could stand but not go so far.

Now, as we know, votes can shift in the process but obviously, what Sam Alito was writing in this opinion that Politico has obtained was a very robust objection of Roe which has been around for nearly 50 years. The 1973 landmark made abortion legal nationwide essentially let women decide to terminate a pregnancy until about the 23rd week of pregnancy.

So if this becomes the law of the land and it looks like it's headed in that direction, your word seismic would be practically an understatement here because it would change so much in terms of women's rights in America. And the other thing that is such a jolt to use a word that John Roberts himself has used and used at his own Senate confirmation hearing is the way this all came out, Don.

Typically, any draft opinion stays private. It's -- you know, I will often get leaks about votes. I'll often gets leaks who is writing the opinion but to actually get an opinion in hand that has gone as far as this one does on this big of an issue is amazing. And I do have to say it presents the court with a couple different problems and I think it plays into how the confidence that the American public might have in the court or not have in the court.

One of the reasons that the chief justice was unlikely to want to overturn 50 years of precedent was just how Americans relied on Roe for so many years, it was part of an understanding of the court's legitimacy and then to see it all apparently rolled back in this manner disclosed in some way in this, you know, in this stunning announcement, this stunning release of sorts tonight rather than at the end of June with very thoughtful consideration from both sides on the pros and cons.

We don't know what the dissenting justices are saying at this point and we also don't know if possibly, Don, it's unlikely but possibly that one of the dissenters could convince one of those justices in the majority to go over to the other side. It is happened and I don't know if at this point that would even be possible because of the way it's come out, Don.

LEMON: Yes, yes, it's very interesting. That's Joan Biskupic who reports for us for the Supreme Court. Again, this is major breaking news. Politico obtained has this draft. Again, this is only a draft. CNN has not as Joan said independently verified this. But again, that is the reporting.

Let's bring in our experts now. Jeffrey Toobin, Laura Coates, and Preet Bharara. Thank you all for joining us. Good evening to you.


Jeffrey, I'm going to start with you. The legal grounds, what are the legal grounds that they are using in this draft to overturn this precedent, which has been the law of the land for decades?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, this has been a brutal fight in the courts over the years and even on the Supreme Court. So, the legal arguments are actually very familiar. That starting in the mid-60s, the Supreme Court began recognizing what they call the right to privacy and have a zone within people's lives that the government couldn't invade.

It started with the right to take birth control for married people in 1964 and 1973 that right to privacy was recognized as including the right to a abortion and Harry Blackman's opinion in 1973. In opinion after opinion over the next 50 years, 49 years, the Supreme Court ratified that view.

Most famously in 1992 in the Casey decision where the court again reaffirmed Roe v. Wade but Justice Scalia and Thomas have been -- were criticizing that opinion over and over again saying the Constitution itself says nothing about abortion. The Constitution doesn't recognize the right to abortion, doesn't prohibit, doesn't grant a right to abortion.

It simply is a political issue that should be decided by the states, the way most political issues are decided by the states. Justice Alito's draft opinion makes that point very directly. It says the Constitution is silent about abortion. So, this should be a political issue the voters and their representatives decide not judges. That's the legal rational.

LEMON: This is what Jeffrey, to your point, January 22nd, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court in a seven-two decision affirms the legality of a woman's right to have an abortion under the 14th amendment. As you said to the Constitution the court held that a woman's right to an abortion fell within the right to privacy recognized in Griswold versus Connecticut protected by the 14th amendment and gave women the right for abortion during the entirety of their pregnancy and defined different levels of state, of state interests for regulating abortion the second and third trimesters.

Again, that's what you said. But then, as you said, Alito is saying Roe was egregiously wrong from the start and that they should -- it's time to send this back to the states, as Jeffrey Toobin said. Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has been damaging -- has had damaging consequences.

So that is from Justice Alito from the very beginning. And from the very beginning the national settlement of abortion issue, Roe and Casey have inflamed debate and deepened division.

Laura Coates, I want to bring you in, what is your response to this? What's your reaction?

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, forgive me. I seem to be losing my voice so you'll hear me a little bit differently. But it seems to be in line with how women are losing their rights in this country. This opinion can be, if true, narrowed down and defined quite simply. Women are not viewed as equal to men.

The right of privacy, a fancy way of talking about a fundamental right, meaning in a country where we talk about how we do not want people's rights to infringe on another's and your rights end where mine begin and it's about the consent of the governed.

Well, in this instance, the court already said that there are some areas, if you believe fundamental rights include things like marriage, include things like interstate travel and include things like contraception and the like, well then, surely, you would believe that within that same umbrella of thought that things related to one's health and agency over one's body should also be in that privacy sphere.

But instead, you have this justice, if this draft opinion is to be believed and to be actually followed to a conclusion of an official holding then you have the codification that says that when it comes to a woman's body, when it comes to agency over ourselves over our decisions and over our bodies, we are simply not equal to men.

I don't see a single thing in the draft opinion that I saw from Politico or otherwise that mention things like vasectomies, that mentions things like a man's inability to choose when and whether to have and give birth to a child although of course, they cannot give birth to a child but I guess that's the point.

And so, when you look at this, think about all the other aspects of our society to which we rely and we have said that we do not want to give individual states the autonomy to decide because then we would not be the United States of America. We would be separate countries unto themselves and people in one state would not have the same rights as a person in another state.


That is simply not how this nation is supposed to operate. Yes, there are distinctions about certain laws but about the fundamental aspects of what is the agency and autonomy over a privacy decision that is for 50 years, which means my mother, my grandmother, my great grandmother is still alive at that point in time, that for that span of generations that are right that was fundamental because a justice says, you know what? It's time for the states to decide, I don't know what country that would actually reflect.

But if I can just say, on the backdrop of thinking about all these aspects, it's quite telling that in the United States of America people are in far more shock about the leak of a Supreme Court opinion more so than they are about the fundamental rights of women evaporating with the stroke of a pen.

LEMON: Preet Bharara?

PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I'll just opine. I agree with everything Laura said. I think that the fact of the leak is reflective of how serious an issue it must be and how strongly people must feel including on the Supreme Court because we've never seen anything like this before.

As you know, Don, I was booked on the show a few hours ago to talk about the investigation into the insurrection on January 6th.

LEMON: Right.

BHARARA: And obviously, the news cycle has changed. But if you think about it for a minute, I think it's not too great a stretch to say there is some connection between an effort to overturn an election and an effort to overturn Roe. And it's this, as I've been thinking about it.

There is a segment of the ideological spectrum now who thinks it has certain kinds of powers and wants to engage in radical efforts to overturn things that they don't like. There is no more incrementalism, there's no more compromise, you don't like the results of an election you storm the capitol, and you talk about hanging the vice president of the United States and you get the presidency back.

Similarly, here, we've been talking for the last number of months about this move towards, you know, the eradication of abortion by the Supreme Court and a lot of people were assuming that there would be a nuance opinion of some sort in an attempt to gut Roe without directly overturning Roe.

That's not what you see in this draft opinion. You see a direct onslaught, a direct, and I think given the history and the precedent, radical effort to erase Roe. And not only that, other elements of the party who are outside the courts are now talking about, you know, not just eradicating, you know, what we think of traditionally restrictions on abortion, but also no exceptions for rape or incest. And also, some states are talking about no exceptions for life of the mother.

And we're no longer talking only about the fact that certain states like New York will be able to preserve the right to abortion and other states would have different results depending on their makeup, we're now also talking about the complete elimination of abortion through federal statute throughout the country.

So, there is a radical element to this and I think it connects the dots between things like the insurrection and what's happening in the court today.

LEMON: You know, Jeffrey, you talked about Roe v. -- Roe in the beginning and you mentioned Griswold versus Connecticut. What other cases have been decided based on these precedents that could now be in jeopardy?

TOOBIN: Same-sex marriage is certainly -- this came up a lot during the confirmation hearings of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson that it is quite clear that the Republican majority in -- the Republican politicians at least feel like this is the time to rollback a whole series of opinions that were passed when the Supreme Court had a very different majority.

I mean, you know, this should not be a surprise. When Donald Trump ran for president in 2016, he could not have been more explicit. He said over and over again I will appoint justices to the Supreme Court who will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. And what I think he meant by that was he was going to appoint justices to the Supreme Court who will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. And if this leak is accurate and I have every reason to believe that it is, that's precisely what happened.

And, you know, when Democrats have tried to point call attention to this, people have said, they're overreacting. They're panicking. It's not true. Roe v. Wade has been around for 50 years. No one is going to ever overturn it. Well, take a look at this. This is what Republicans and conservatives have been trying to do for decades. And it looks like they succeeded.

And you know, the Supreme Court, one of my favorite quote is that from Justice Robert Jackson, he said, we are not final because we're infallible, we're infallible because we are final.


This is it. This is what the Supreme Court has said. Abortion is no longer a right that all American women have anymore. It's now up to the state legislatures, which are mostly dominated by men that they're the ones who are going to decide whether women have the right to abortion anymore. Not the Constitution.

LEMON: I mean, to Laura's earlier point, go ahead, Laura. Go on. Go on.

COATES: I was going to say, I mean, when you mention that, one of the problems with the idea of thinking about, you know, equal, equality is the idea and I don't think it's a problem to have equality. It's a problem to be naive that we actually should expect it now in this day and age given this particular opinion because rich women will still be able to get abortions.

LEMON: Right.

COATES: And I know that people will focus a great deal on the idea of black and brown women and lower income women and they will conflate the two groups as if they are synonymous, as if only those groups will be the ones who have an unplanned pregnancy. But in reality, it's those who are not going to be able to have the luxury of travel, who are not going to be able to have the luxury of the privacy to decide where they should go to actually seek whatever service they ultimately wanted to actually obtain, but rich women will.

And so, this idea -- even people who are not wealthy but just people of means. And so, when you think about the fundamental rights, when you think about equal protection, the law and privacy, this particular opinion if it holds will essentially only extend that to those of a certain socioeconomic status, and therefore we will have a bit of a health caste system in this country which frankly, we need to guard against.

And finally, I just want to point out as Jeffrey was talking about and Preet and Joan so eloquently, the idea of precedent. This has come up a great deal. Now Alito mentioned it in form of starry decisive fancy way of saying things should actually stick. This is what it is and the inertia will keep going.

So, if we will -- we'll not really in surprise because we saw how the Supreme Court allowed Texas to do an end run around precedent. They did not honor it in that way. But I think most people thought about maybe it would be parameters, maybe the weak when the compelling interest of the state to protect, to protect an unborn fetus would outweigh the compelling interest of a state of a woman to carry a pregnancy at a particular part of a trimester.

We thought the premise might be massage. The obliteration of it speaks volumes about the inequality and it will impact people who do not have the means but it will not stop abortion in this country, it will likely just stop abortion for those who do not have the luxury of choice and what is the story of America if not that?

TOOBIN: Can I just add one point to that? You know, there is a lot of evidence, there are many societies, especially in Central and South America that ban abortion all together. And the rate of abortion does not go down when abortion is banned. There are just as many abortions if not more in societies where abortion is legal. What's different is that women die and women are horribly mutilated because abortion is conducted in an unsafe way.

But the idea of a legal ban on abortion stopping abortion is a myth. It does not happen. All it does is drive the process underground and danger -- endanger women's lives.

LEMON: A couple of things here, Preet, I want you, first, Laura, to your point, women of means have always been able to get an abortion even before abortion was legal. It was -- perhaps then it was rich women who were able to fly off somewhere or go across the border or do whatever and then poor women at least trying to seek abortions would harm themselves trying to do it themselves or going to someone who is not reputable.

So, this will affect a group of people but not necessarily many of the people who are actually fighting to ban Roe v. Wade or overturn Roe v. Wade because many of those people are women with means. So, it's women with means have always been able to get abortions whether they were legal or not and this is definitely going to have an impact.

COATES: Well, yes, the reason I point out the socio economic and racial disparities is because I want to, just as the rights of women are about to be obliterated in the court, I want to obliterate the stereotype that suggest that only black and brown women who are of a lower socioeconomic status have unplanned pregnancies.


I mean, this is a fallacy in and of itself but this stereotype is oftentimes what drives the public perception for those who are in support at certain aspects to suggest that this is a paternalistic attempt to try to protect those who cannot protect themselves and they mean black and brown people of a lower economic status.

Completely ignoring the fact that this is a far more universal system and a far more universal issue to contend with. And I think that there is something to be said for individual states for issues that are specific to geographic areas, areas that are going to be unique to the needs of a particular community but issues around a uterus and carrying to term and the trimester framework and fundamental rights are something that goes beyond geographical boundaries.

And I think that's part of what I'm looking for the Supreme Court when they issue whatever opinion they issue. I would like to see an opinion that is wholistically thinking about the fact that it is going to be a universal constraint on a fundamental right and what the court is doing has to acknowledge that at the very least.

And the idea of, you know what? Hey, we don't want to get involved in a political issue and we, by giving this particular opinion, we've gotten ourselves in deep. Well, there been a lot of issues over the course of American history that have been political wedge issues. I would note race, for example. I would note segregation and unequal education access.

These are all things that are fundamentally things that have been political wedge issues but if not the court to confirm what the Constitution ought to have, then where do we intend to look? That's the big question.

LEMON: Yes. And even marriage. Even interracial marriage as well.

COATES: Interracial marriage, yes.


COATES: I mean, Lawrence versus Texas as the case, even predated that notion about the idea of same sex relationships. Even you got to marriage.

LEMON: Right. Right. Preet, would this have happened without, I mean, Jeffrey mentioned it just a moment ago, but would this have happened without the three Trump justices Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, Amy Coney Barrett.

BHARARA: No. The map doesn't add up. That's why I think you're seeing it happen now. The courts are very, very important. Jeffrey and others and I and you on the show have talked for years about the idea that one of the most important things for people on the conservative spectrum of ideology, the reason they care so much about the courts is because of these issues because they felt they were on the losing edge, losing side of the abortion issue and which is why as a political matter there are many, many, many people who were in the Republican Party who don't like things about Donald Trump that liked one thing.

He outsourced the picking of justices and he got three. Carter got zero. They both had one term. It's that they agree of who retires and who dies who stays on the court. And they got what they wanted. And so, an interesting question I think that is implied by your question, is what is this going to mean for politics, what is this going for the midterm elections?

What is this going to mean for the other side of the aisle who, for a long-time state in loud terms that they care a lot about the court but because some of these things have been on their side and the precedence have been on their side, particularly Roe and Casey and some other things, you know, I don't want people to send mail to me but there's been a little bit of complacency about this.

The conservatives have cared more about the court and have cared more about changing what they have been able to do legislatively like this issue through the court than the liberals have been and we'll see what happens.

LEMON: You're 100 percent correct. I was going to make that point. So, look, send your letters all you want. That is the truth. I mean, to me, not to Preet. But that is the absolute truth. The folks who were -- Republicans, they're issued voters. Many times, single issue voters.

They vote mainly, Jeffrey, as we talk about this a lot for the years that we've been on this network over the second amendment, right? Over abortion, over judges. This is -- and that is why people stuck with Trump. They didn't like, you know, the tweets. They didn't like the bombast or any of that but they liked how he was going to -- who he was appointing to the court or he had the possibility, Preet, who he had the possibility of appointing to the courts.

BHARARA: Yes, look, I think Mitch McConnell derides Donald Trump and he has contempt for Donald Trump whether that means something, you know, other people can decide but the one issue on which he celebrates Donald Trump and never fully breaks is the court.


BHARARA: Because the court can do things that even Mitch McConnell, the old powerful Mitch McConnell even in the minority position, he can't do what the court can do. And the court is now done some of the will of Mitch McConnell and c and that's why they abide Donald Trump many of them.

LEMON: Thank you, all. Still breaking so if we need you, we'll come back. We appreciate you joining us. We've got a more to come on our breaking news tonight and it is absolutely stunning. Politico has obtained what it calls a draft of majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito that would strike down Roe v. Wade meaning legal abortion in this country. More ahead throughout the next two hours.



LEMON: So, we're back with our breaking news, Politico has obtained what it calls a draft by Justice Samuel Alito that would strike down Roe v. Wade . Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota joins me now. Senator, good evening to you so much for joining us. First of all, what is your reaction to this massive news?

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): It's unbelievable. And I will say none of us know what the final opinion will be. Things change. Again, this is just breaking news. But I will say that I predicted this in my questions of Amy Coney Barrett way back then when she would not commit Roe v. Wade was super precedent to the predictions after the court argument that in fact, this court has been stacked and they are doing something where they are completely breaking with precedent if all of this news that we're hearing is correct. And I want to talk about the result, Don.


Because if this opinion is issued, it will be against the wishes of 80 percent of Americans who believe that women should have the right to make their health -- their own health care system. It would trigger the laws in over 20 states that have already said that they will outlaw abortion in their states. It will create a patch work of laws across the country.

And my prediction, Don, is that it will drive women to the polls and men, anyone, that 80 percent of the public who believes that health care decisions should be made by a woman and her doctor and not by Ted Cruz.


KLOBUCHAR: So, this is going to have major impact --

LEMON: Senator.

KLOBUCHAR: And all of this down as it looks.

LEMON: I want to talk about the impact. But let's your earlier point and then we'll get back to the impact because it is huge. But you mentioned your questioning of Amy Coney Barrett and others. So, this is, I want to play that. This is a Trump Supreme Court nominee were asked about abortion that and this is how they answered. Watch this.


KLOBUCHAR: Is Roe a super precedent?

AMY CONEY BARRETT, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE, SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES: How would you define super precedent? And I'm answering a lot of questions about Roe which I think indicates that Roe doesn't fall in that category. And scholars across the spectrum say that doesn't mean that Roe should be over while ever ruled but descriptively it not a case that everyone accepted and does mean case, not a case gar everyone accepted and doesn't call for its over ruling.

NEIL GORSUCH, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE, UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT: As a judge, it is an important precedent of the Supreme Court, by it, I mean Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood versus Casey been reaffirmed many times. Casey is precedent on precedent, which itself is an important factor.

NEIL GORSUCH, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE, UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT: Senator, as the book explains, the Supreme Court of the United States has held in Roe versus Wade that a fetus is not a person for purposes of the 14th amendment and the book explains that. UNKNOWN: Do you accept that?

GORSUCH: That's the law of the land. I accept the law of the land, Senator, yes.



LEMON: So -- yes. And you -- what do you think? What do you think of the responses? What do you think of their -- were they telling the truth in that moment?

KLOBUCHAR: Well, when they're saying it the law of the land and they arguably use this to convince certain senators to vote for them, I think that is a major problem. They said it was the law of the land. They are talking about the fact that it's been affirmed time and time again and that's why I think a lot of people are shocked.

I will tell you that I'm not shocked because I -- you could see this in the way the questioning went and the willingness as you know, Don, in the Texas case, a different case to actually in a shadow docket no briefings, no public hearings where they actually allowed an abortion ban to go forward that also included a Bounty Hunter provision, which allowed citizens to go after each other.

It is an unbelievable shift in court decisions and so I am of course. And so, I am of course as a member of the U.S. Senate who someone believes that Roe v. Wade should be codified into law so we don't have a patch work of state laws and we protect women from back alley abortions and bus rides across the country just to make their own personal health care decisions --


LEMON: Or across borders.

KLOBUCHAR: -- I'm confident -- I believe I believe the Senate needs to act and act now.

LEMON: Yes. Or across the borders. But let me just read this. And I want your response. Because you talked about the ramifications of this in the fallout. And this is what a source is telling CNN.

That Roberts does not want to completely overturn Roe v. Wade meaning apparently it would be a dissenting -- he would be dissenting from Alito's draft opinion likely with the court's three liberals, sources tell CNN, Roberts's willing however to uphold the Mississippi law that would ban abortion at 15 weeks after conception, CNN has learned.

Under current law government cannot interfere with a woman's choice to terminate the pregnancy before 23 weeks when a fetus could live outside the womb. Now I want to read that because I want to get this exactly right. So, what do you make of Roberts not wanting to completely overturn Roe v. Wade? KLOBUCHAR: Well, I don't know where this is coming from and I do

think leaks from the court are disturbing. But beyond that, I think that Justice Roberts has signal led not just in the case before us with Mississippi but in other cases time and time again and recent environmental case where he publicly came out against using the shadow docket, his upholding of the Affordable Care Act, the refusal to strike it down when looking at the law. He has cleanly shown a sense of independence. I don't know what he's going to do in this case.

But I think what your viewers have to understand is if unfact, these five ultra conservative justices do something like we've seen in this leak or that Politico is reporting.


Whatever Justice Roberts does while important to know where he's headed is not relevant because that's a five-for court decision if in fact they all go against what many of them had said in the past like the law of the land and that it's been reaffirmed many times so it's precedent and overturned these decades and decades long precedent.

LEMON: Yes. Senator Amy Klobuchar, thank you so much. Appreciate you jumping in here to speak to us about this and we heard you, we heard you on the long-term ramifications --


KLOBUCHAR: It is huge and you have Republicans wanting to put a six- week banning already as you week.


KLOBUCHAR: That's what we're dealing with here.

LEMON: Thank you, Senator. I appreciate it.

KLOBUCHAR: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: I want to bring in Congressman Gregory Meeks of New York, he is with us tonight as part of the delegation with Speaker Nancy Pelosi on her visit, her surprise visit to Kyiv this weekend but also here to talk to us about what is happening, the possibility of Roe v. Wade being overturned and Politico's reporting tonight.

Congressman Meeks, thank you so much for joining much. What's your reaction first to this breaking news on this draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade?

REP. GREGORY MEEKS (D-NY): It's horrible. Let me say what Senator Klobuchar said. You know, it's not the decision yet. But should it be? It's a game changer for America. It's a game changer for women. And women's rights to control their own body. To repudiate well established law.

It is, you know, why every year we do talk about when you vote, you need Republicans apparently and the super conservatives, they're voting judges. It is dangerous what is taking place right now and as some of your other guests have said, those that are affluent they will be able to go to one place to another to do, to have an abortion if they have to but those who are poor, they will be victimized. There is no question about it because that's the history before the decision.

So, this decision should it be true should it remain the same would be absolutely devastating to who we are as a people in the United States of America.

LEMON: Thank you for responding to that and of course, you know, we still have a war going on in the Ukraine. I want to switch gears now because that's a big story, as well.

I know your congressional delegation spoke to President Biden about your trip to Kyiv. What did you tell him about your meeting with President Zelenskyy?

MEEKS: We told him we had a very good heartfelt meeting that President Zelenskyy is focused and what he wants is just help to get what he needs to defeat Vladimir Putin. And I know that President Biden also said to me that we're know focused on getting him those needs, that's why we have the 33 -- he gave, his request for $33 billion for military aid, for humanitarian aid and for economic aid to Ukraine and we know that because we've seen over the last two months the Ukrainian people fighting for their sovereignty and fighting to make sure that we stop Putin.

And Don, what is happening right now because of the positioning of Putin's people particularly in the Black Sea when we know that the Ukraine 50 percent of sunflower seeds as far as the world is concerned comes from Ukraine. Fifteen to 20 percent of wheat and corn comes from Ukraine. If that cannot go out to harbor, to the harbor, then there is going to be starvation.

LEMON: You spent --


MEEKS: And the continent of Africa, Central and South America and even here in the United States and if you go to economists, the cost of the grain which goes into almost everything from the beginning of the year has gone up 20 percent in the last month alone 14 percent. And that's directly related to this this war. He has to be stopped.

LEMON: Congressman, you spent hours on the ground with Zelenskyy. What was your impression of him and the Ukrainian people there? I mean, quite frankly, you know, we have folks there, we have journalists who are there. We have staff who are there from CNN of course, but were you nervous about being there? Were you in fear of your safety and security there?


MEEKS: Well, we know that there is a risk. We know that we were in a war zone when you're driving around in Kyiv, you would see that you're in the war zone but you can also see that the individuals, the Ukrainians would prepare to defend themselves and in fact, the Russians couldn't succeed to take over Kyiv.

And so now that's one of the things that we talked about, that there is, this war that is going to a different stage and there's different types of weapons that they need and that's part of what this $33 billion is so that as it moves to the Donbas area, which is not a city like facility where there is more flat land like in the middle of America, agricultural, et cetera, that there is different types of artillery that's necessary.

Even, because one of the reasons why you can't get the wheat to harvest and out to the ships is because in the Black Sea that's where Putin is blocking. So, you need something that can reach those ships and make them get out of the way of the blockade so other ships carrying the wheat, carrying the sunflower seeds can get through.


MEEKS: And that's what we're working on right now in the United States Congress.

LEMON: Congressman, I'm so happy that you could come on to discuss this and our other breaking news this evening here on CNN. We really appreciate it. Thank you very much. Glad that you and the delegation are all back safe. Thanks so much.

MEEKS: Thank you for having me, Don.

LEMON: We got a lot more to come on our breaking news, Politico obtaining what it calls a draft of a majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito that would strike down Roe v. Wade.



LEMON: OK, everyone. We're back now with our breaking news tonight. Politico obtaining what it calls a draft of a majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito that would strike down Roe v. Wade.

I want to bring in now CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger and senior political commentator David Axelrod. Good evening to both of you.

Gloria, let's start with you first. Votes can change before opinions are formally released but if this happens, if it does happen, a constitutional right that women have had for 50 years will be gone. It's a monumental moment in this country's politics. What is your reaction?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: It's a category five political and social hurricane in this country. As you point out, and one fail swoop, something that was right for women for the last 50 years has been taken away. We do not know all the ramifications of this yet at this point, but I want to point out that this is something that the Republican Party has worked on for decades assiduously at the state level, at the federal level, in the judiciary trying to get to this moment.

And it is something as I think one of my colleagues pointed out earlier the Democrats while they've talked about it a lot have effectively said, you know, we're -- they didn't do -- they didn't do it in the way Republicans did. They didn't protect it in the way Republicans fought it.

And in the end, now, you have this conservative majority on the court and the Democrats are going to face the midterm election very soon and then a presidential election and they're going to have to decide how they battle this out, how they use this in order to get those voters out there to the polls to understand that elections have consequences, and this for those pro-choice Democrats was one of the consequences they hoped would never happen but it looks like it's happening.

LEMON: You know, we, what Gloria said, David, we say it so much that there is no clear example though of just how much our elections do have consequences. Real consequences in this country --

BORGER: Right.

LEMON: -- than what we're seeing now, David?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, we haven't seen anything like this in our lifetime. The wholesale withdrawal of a basic right and so, you know, it's really hard to think of a precedent for this. But I will say, if you were a Republican strategist privately right now, you would say this is not good. We do not need this. We were on the path to winning a big victory in the fall.

The wholesale overturning of Roe versus Wade may be one thing that can change the dynamic because the people who have in polling expressed the strongest objection, remember, the vast majority of Americans, 70 percent of Americans or more said they didn't want this but the people who are most vociferous about this were people under 45, Democrats, obviously, women and yes, and these were voters who Democrats were particularly worried about in the fall.


Will they come out? Will they participate? There's been polling suggesting that the enthusiasm wasn't there. This could galvanize voters, Don. You look at CNN's own polling, and younger voters, a majority of younger voters said they'd be angry if the court did this. So, I think, you know, there are -- the most important thing is there are real implications for real lives across this country. But as a political matter, it also is a very significant event.

LEMON: Gloria, let's talk about that. He brings up a point.

BORGER: You know --

LEMON: CNN's polling from January. I'll let you weigh in. So, 69 percent, you said 70 percent, close enough, 69 percent of Americans do not support overturning Roe v. Wade. Just 30 percent support overturning it. So, what do you think? Does that have -- does that fill the Republican Party for so many years, but do you think that this somehow pushes the enthusiasm among Democrats that they may come out, especially women, those under 45 as David said?

BORGER: Yes, yes, I do. I don't know how much. I mean, they couldn't get, you know, any less enthusiastic about going to the polls right now. I mean, you look at the enthusiasm gap between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats are much less enthusiastic about voting. Joe Biden is an unpopular president. We've got an economy that's pretty rough.

This is something that voters understand, that women voters understand, and I think when you take away something that people have had.


BORGER: That's difficult. That's really difficult. And you already have 18 states that have enacted pretty restrictive laws, so you see it going on around the country. It's there. This could affect battleground states like Arizona, like Georgia. So, I'm not surprised our colleague Jeff Zeleny said the president's going to come out and talk about this tomorrow. He's not going to wait for the official opinion.

So, this clearly, they believe is a way to motivate Democrats and say look at what is happening? This is not something you want, and this is going to affect voters at the bottom end of the economic scale. Those are the people that Democrats say they want to help. So, they're going to use it.

Now, it may be an uphill battle for them. We all understand that, but of course this is an issue that now has a lot more resonance than it did 10 hours ago.

LEMON: David, let me ask you, I mean, is it -- should the president do that --


AXELROD: And Don, let me just --

LEMON: Should the president do that, is it premature for him to come out. I mean, this is just a draft, again, it's a Politico reporting. CNN has not confirmed that, but is it, is it premature for the president to do that?

AXELROD: It seems like the battle is engaged here, Don. You know, you're right. The prudent thing, I guess, would be to wait six weeks, but we're having this discussion now and people all over the country are going to be having this discussion, and there are plenty of indications based on what the court has already done that this is very consistent with the signals that have been sent, so I don't think it's necessarily inappropriate for him to come out and make a forceful statement about this. I wanted to make a different point base --

LEMON: Sure, go on. AXELROD: -- you know, adding to what -- yes. There are state

elections all over this country. If this goes down as it is written, then all of a sudden state legislatures and governors are going to be the people who are going to make these decisions and there are very, very hotly contested governor's races in many of the battleground states that are going to have big Senate races this fall, and you could see the outcome of those races shifting as a result of this, as people focus on putting governors in office who will protect abortion rights for their -- for their citizens.

LEMON: David, Gloria, thank you both. I really appreciate it. Thank you so much.


AXELROD: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: A leaked Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade published by Politico tonight. We're going to have more on this next.



LEMON: This is Don Lemon Tonight. We're going to begin with breaking news. Politico reporting tonight has obtained a Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that guarantees the right to an abortion. We're also going to talk about Ukraine.

Mariupol is in an evacuation there, about 100 people getting out of the besieged plant before the rescue operation was halted by Russian shelling today. One hundred adults, 20 children are still believed to be trapped inside of that facility.

And there's also a man hunt happening in Alabama. A search underway for a corrections officer and an inmate who disappeared from a county jail on Friday.

I want to go straight away to CNN's Joan Biskupic, CNN legal analyst and Supreme Court biographer, and senior political analyst, John Avlon.

Good evening to both of you.

Joan, I'm going to start with you for the reporting. We've got news about the Chief Justice John Roberts and his apparent dissent from Justice Alito's draft opinion. Tell us about it.

BISKUPIC: Yes, thanks, Don. First of all, just to mention how stunning it is that Politico would publish this draft opinion which we have not authenticated but it jives with what we know about what's been going on behind the scenes at least in a preliminary way, and what we know independently from our own sources is that Chief Justice John Roberts would be dissenting from this opinion. He was not prepared to overturn Roe v. Wade, to roll back a half century of precedent.

He's never been in favor of abortion rights generally, but it's just so staggering to remove the right to abortion and for many institutional and other reasons, the chief was not planning to join this opinion as far as we know.