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Shooting Suspect Charged With Seven Counts Of First-Degree Murder; Uvalde Mayor Says He Fears A Cover-Up In Investigation Into School Massacre; New Subpoenas In GA Election Probe Reach Into Trump's Inner Circle; Chaos And Confusion Around State Abortion Laws After Overturning Of Roe; Griner Sends Letter To President Biden Pleading For His Help. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired July 05, 2022 - 23:00   ET




CHRISTOPHER COVELLI, DEPUTY CHIEF, LAKE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: There was no probable cause to an arrest. There were no complaints that were signed by any of the victims.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Police say the suspected shooter preplanned his attack and get away for several weeks, leaving his high-powered rifle behind, dressing as a woman, and slipping away with the retreating crowds.

It was that rifle purchased legally and traced back to him that helped police identify the suspect, track down his mother's car, and make this arrest.

COVELLI: At this point, we have not developed a motive from him.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): While police search for a reason, it turns out there were warning signs posted all across social media: Music videos with dark images depicting violence, a school shooting, and a cartoon of a stick figure, apparently meant to be the suspect, faced down in a pool of blood in a shootout with police.

The actual suspect was arrested without shots fired hours after the shooting. Former classmates tell CNN in high school, he was withdrawn.

UNKNOWN: He was very quiet. He did not talk that much. And when he did talk, he seemed very gentle. He did not seem like aggressive or anything at all. It was very shocking, especially somebody that I know, very heartbreaking. I never thought that it could happen in my town or especially somebody that I even know at all.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Despite the social media post, an uncle who lived with the suspect told CNN and Chicago T.V. station WFLD, his nephew was not violent.

PAUL CRIMO, SUSPECT'S UNCLE: There were no warning signs, as I saw. I saw -- I saw him yesterday evening. I went home. I said, hi, to him. When I came back downstairs, I said, bye. He said, bye. And that was it. That was normal and standard of us. I mean, I see no -- nothing that would trigger him for doing this.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): And the weapon, do you have any idea where he required the weapon?

CRIMO: I'm not sure.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): You don't?


GRIFFIN (voice-over): Okay.

(On camera): Despite what this uncle says, Laura, we now know of all these warning sides, the suicide attempt, threatening his own family, the confiscation of his knife collection by police, and these disturbing social media posts that he put online.

Despite all of that, he was still able to purchase handguns and rifles legally, including the rifle police say he used to slaughter seven people. Laura?


LAURA COATES, CNN HOST, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Drew, thank you so much. It is just heart-wrenching to hear all of this.

I want to bring in CNN senior political commentator David Axelrod from Chicago. David, I mean, a supermarket, elementary schools, churches, hospitals, now a 4th of July parade, I mean, it seems there is no place where you can have a safe haven.

And this time, as we know, from your roots, this sits very close to home for you in particular. I mean, you've called this a sickeningly American story. Tell us why.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER OBAMA SENIOR ADVISER: Yeah. Well, I think it is obvious. I mean, you know, the White House lowered flags today to half-mast in honor of the memory of the victims. They should just keep the flag at half-mast because this has become such a regular occurrence in the life of our country that, you know, we are just going through this exercise again and again.

Highland Park, where this happened, about 25 miles north of here, is sort of the quintessential American upscale, the last place that you would think this would happen. And what it really speaks to is it could happen anywhere and anytime.

It is really is kind of domestic terrorism in the sense that terrorism is designed to frighten people, to make them unsettled and -- how many families are going to go to the next July 4th parade in Highland Park and elsewhere? I think a lot of parents and a lot of grandparents are thinking about that today. So, this is really, really unsettling. And it happens nowhere else. You ask why is it a quintessential American story? You know the answer, Laura.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

AXELROD: We have -- we have exponentially more homicides and gun- related deaths in this country than any of our peer countries. And it is not because we have exponentially more mental health problems. It is because we have exponentially more guns. Almost half of the world's privately-owned are here in America.

So, we need to take a hard look at ourselves or just live with what has become an epidemic.

COATES: It is one thing that the Chicago White Sox is closer (ph). I mean, Liam was speaking about just yesterday on this very issue, about the idea of -- he was comparing Australia and what happened back in 1996 --

AXELROD: Yeah, he's from Australia.

COATES: -- in a buyback program from the prime minister who saw the devastation of more than 30 people killed and said, too accessible, got to buy them back and get them off the streets.


And you talked about those members of our community, myself included, frankly, David, who are beginning to conform their behavior about the expectation of violence and deciding for themselves whether it is worth the risk. And it is a form of terror to endure that. And you --


COATES: -- actually have friend who is at the parade with his two sons.


COATES: One of whom was in a wheelchair. And he spoke to John Berman --


COATES: -- earlier about what happened when they first heard the gunfire. Listen to this.


PAUL TOBACK, WITNESSED HIGHLAND PARK SHOOTING: And for a second, everybody froze. Literally like time stood still. And then we looked down the street right over there, and we saw the crowd running towards us and screaming. And it was like mass hysteria. And people were just running in droves across the railroad tracks right behind you. And we turned and ran. And I pushed my son's wheelchair, and the wheelchair collapsed on the pavement and he toppled over. And I fell. And then it happened again. And then my young son picks up my older son and we ran. It was like you'll be running for our lives.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: You carried -- your other son carried his brother.

TOBACK: Yeah. My, God, he was a hero. I mean, there were a lot of heroes in this day, but he is -- he is one of, you know, one of them.


COATES: Oh. David, I mean, hearing that, thankfully your friends are okay, and you know this community very well.


COATES: But I mean, just hearing that, replaying that moment, I mean, how are people holding up in this community? Just hearing it from a distance and just trying to even vicariously think about what that -- what it felt like. I'm devastated.

AXELROD: Yeah. Well, I have a child with special needs, and I have known this young man, Paul's son, all his life. He can't walk and he can't talk. And you can just imagine there was a mob coming down on them, running in panic. They could hear the gunshots. The child -- the young man fell. He's grown. So, it's not an easy thing to carry him. And they, you know, frantically tried to drag him to safety.

And, you know, it is -- I teared up when I heard the story because this is not how people should live. This is not the country that we want.

I will point out, Laura, and I know you covered this somewhat already this evening, there are a lot of questions in my mind about the family of the alleged shooter. Particularly, in 2019, he apparently tried to take his own life. Five months later, he threatened family members and had a cache of knives and swords and so on that were confiscated by police. None of this apparently qualified for any sort of red flag treatment.

But then, a few months later, his father sponsored him for a firearm I.D. card. In the state of Illinois, when you're under 21, you need a parent or guardian to sponsor you. His father sponsored him and he was allowed to buy the weapon that killed seven people and wounded dozens of others yesterday.

There is a responsibility here on the part of this family for enabling what happened yesterday. And I think we have to take a good, hard look at these red flag laws and see how they can be tightened up because there is no way in the world this young man should have had -- I don't think anybody should have weapons of war, but certainly, he is the last person who should have it.

COATES: Well, you know, we are still learning, waiting more information about whether the gun that was used in fact is tied towards that sort of I.D. card that you speak about, sponsoring him. When we have more information, we will certainly give the public that idea.

But the idea here is well, David, the family, the father, if I'm not mistaken, ran for mayor in that town recently, didn't he?

AXELROD: He did.

COATES: Just a few years ago. I don't know if it lines up perfectly two when, in 2019, these things were happening. But he ran for mayor quite recently. What do you remember about that campaign?

AXELROD: He did run in 2019. It was at the same time. And, you know, he ran -- he was -- he's a local businessman. He owns a deli. He was complaining about regulations in the city and the climate for -- who knows what that had to do with what was going on in this young man's head.

But, you know, plainly, there was -- there were signs. There were warnings. And one doesn't -- one doesn't enable a young man to buy weapons when he so recently threatened others and threatened his own -- his own life.

I want to make one other point about my friend, Paul Toback, who you saw earlier. He served in the Clinton White House in the '90s. He was there during the battle for an assault weapons ban. That assault weapons ban was in place for 10 years. And that assault weapons ban was effective.


It was effective in reducing these kinds of incidents. We now have 10 times the number of assault weapons in this country than we had when that ban was allowed to expire, including the weapon that was used yesterday and very nearly -- it did threaten the life of Paul and his two children, including his child with special needs.

So, I know talking to him, he was reflecting on that and how angry he was that work went for not after 10 years and we faced what we faced today.

COATES: David, I go back to your original statement about perpetually flying the flags half-mast, knowing about what's seems like the inevitability of these tragedies. Thank you for tonight. I appreciate it.

AXELROD: Thanks, Laura.

COATES: I want to turn now to the latest in the investigation with former -- former ATF senior executive Scott Sweetow and former FBI supervisory special agent Steve Moore.

You heard our conversation just now with David Axelrod, gentlemen. I'm glad that you're both here tonight. I want to sort of pick up where we left off in a sense because, Steve, if I can ask you, you know, officials responded to two incidents involving the suspect back in 2019, one where he tried to kill himself, another where a family member reported that he would kill everyone. I'm not sure what that means, who's targeting, who's inside the house or not.

There are also disturbing online videos that Drew just mentioned earlier in our piece. And I wonder about the idea, especially over social media, why wasn't this person watched more closely?

STEVE MOORE, FORMER FBI SUPEVISORY SPECIAL AGENT: Well, because in the United States, we have very -- for 200 years now, we very carefully protected the privacy rights of individuals for good or bad. When I was in the FBI, we were prohibited from going on public websites at work when we were looking for white supremacist activity. We couldn't go on their websites because of the fear in the Justice Department that we would be abusing their privacy rights.

As far as --

COATES: Hold on, I'm sorry, Steve. If they are public websites, why would there be abuse of privacy for you to go on to where everyone else could see? These are --

MOORE: It's like you were in the room when I argue that -- it's like you were in the room when I argued that point.


MOORE: But you asked an FBI agent who was there at that time, and we would say -- listen, if somebody takes their garbage out to the curb, it is considered abandon, and we can take it. But if they put something up publicly on a website, we are not allowed to basically go on that website to see what they are doing.

The point was they said the FBI does not go on just to see what people are doing. And that is -- that was the mentality at the time. And I hope it has changed.

But still, we don't have -- you know, you have your -- these two police call outs. I know of no procedure that puts those types of call outs into any decision as to whether a person should own a gun. They should be considered, but there is nothing to link those events in police records to a purchase of a weapon that might only be federally limited or regulated.

COATES: Well, you know, the point he is making obviously, Scott, in terms of the constraints, in terms of what law enforcement might be able to do proactively about these issues. But in terms of what they are doing reactively now, I mean, they're looking at -- we have released this photo, they have released a photo of the shooter dressed in women's clothing during the attack.

I mean, this person is in disguise, had an escape plan to avoid capture. I mean, what does that tell you?

SCOTT SWEETOW, FORMER ATF SENIOR EXECUTIVE: Without sounding glib, just because somebody is apparently crazy, it does not mean they are incapable of planning. And plan he did. He obviously went to some significant length to conceal his activities, to make sure that he could get in and get out. So, this wasn't like a one-way mission where he intended to do the suicide by cop thing or engage in a shootout with law enforcement.

So, the fact that he undertook this effort to conceal himself and to plan and to have additional firearms tells you a lot about the person. It may ultimately turn out that he plead some sort of diminished capacity. But, you know, this would kind of go against that or argue against that because he did so much planning and more is certainly going to come out about that.


COATES: Well, you know, the lawyer in me has to obviously talk about the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. I know that can be stomach turning for people in instances like this. But this is, as you know, Steve, we are told the investigators have been talking with the alleged shooter in this circumstance, and I wonder what those conversations are like and what questions will they will be trying to ask to figure out the why.

I mean, this person, I think, was allegedly a rapper. Had posted some music and videos, of cartoon drawings that seemed to play out something similar to at least in part what we are seeing here in the aftermath. I mean, what are the questions you would be asking to figure out the why?

MOORE: Well, the things you asked, I mean, I've actually interrogated a shooter the morning after he machine-gunned a group of kids in a school. And usually, they want to tell you the reason. They want to tell you exactly why they were angry. They want to -- they want to show their righteous indignation.

So, if he's not talking about this-- I'm not sure he is not going to admit that he did it, but what you're going to try to do, as difficult as it sounds, you are going to try and create a bond with this individual. You're going to talk to him. You're not going to be threatening to him.

You might even be -- and I know it sounds horrible -- admiring of his work, admiring of his plans to get that person to talk to you, not because anything he did doesn't churn your stomach, but because the more he talks, the closer he is to paying for what he's done.

And so, it's a very distasteful, sometimes days of talking to that person as if you're their best friend and getting every single detail so that if they tried to pull back and say, well, I didn't really do it, well, you've got 20 different facts that they've already talked about and you've been able to confirm overnight. So, it's a very delicate discussion.

COATES: Whatever it takes when a con violates the Constitution to get the result. Scott, Highland Park has an assault weapons ban in place. But police say the suspect was actually able to legally purchase his firearm in the Chicago area. So, many are asking in this nation of laws, what could have, if anything, what might have stopped this attack?

SWEETOW: I think that's a question, Laura, that everybody wants answered. And it's probably one of most difficult things to answer because once he turned 18, under federal law, under the Gun Control Act of 1968, he was legally allowed to buy that rifle. And once he turned 21, he was able to buy handguns.

So, I think it's going to be interesting to see the circumstances exactly under which he was able to obtain an AR-15-style rifle given the law that was in that city.

Now, it has not been publicly released whether he actually bought that from a federal firearms licensee within that city or if he bought it from one of the neighboring cities. So, he could certainly skirt a local ban on something by going over and purchasing it elsewhere. But they're supposed to check the driver's license and make sure that the address that he puts on this firearms transaction report, this ATF form 4473, matches his I.D.

And they should have picked up on the fact that if he bought a firearm that was prohibited in the city in which he lived, they should not have been able to complete the transaction. But that is certainly one of the things that investigators are going to be following up to see -- to really work the gun, to get the crime gun intelligence out of these weapons that he purchased.

And I think it was David Axelrod who mentioned in your prior segment the father who would have had to have sponsored him. So, you know, what role did the father play as the sponsor in essentially giving his good graces to his son who had just threatened to slaughter people and think that it was a good idea that he gets any sort of a firearm?

COATES: There are so many questions we all have, and I'm looking towards that first appearance in court. I believe he has lawyered up. We will see what he is communicating and what his plea might be on these initial charges. We will have to wait and see and get those questions answered. Thank you, gentlemen.

SWEETOW: Thank you.

MOORE: Thank you, Laura.

COATES: Next, as investigators work to make their case against the suspect in the July 4th mass shooting, the mayor of Uvalde speaking exclusively to CNN says that he fears a cover-up in the investigation there of the shooting that killed 19 children and two of their teachers.



MAYOR DON MCLAUGHLIN, UVALDE, TEXAS: I think it's a cover-up on --


MCLAUGHLIN: McCraw is covering up --



COATES: In the wake of another mass shooting in America, there are still many unanswered questions about the deadly school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. The mayor of Uvalde now telling CNN that he fears a cover-up of the investigation of the massacre and is calling on the governor now to intervene.

Mayor Don McLaughlin spoke exclusively with CNN's Shimon Prokupecz.


MCLAUGHLIN: I think it's a cover-up on --

PROKUPECZ: They've covering up?

MCLAUGHLIN: McCraw is covering up --


MCLAUGHLIN: Maybe his agency or, you know, may he told that, you know, it's hard -- you know, what are they saying, it's always hard -- when you tell a lie, you have to keep telling a lie. I'm not saying he's a liar. Maybe he was misled with the information he got.

PROKUPECZ: But he hasn't changed his story, right, since that Friday. And then he did the Senate hearing. And I think that --

MCLAUGHLIN: Which was --


PROKUPECZ: Which is even more -- he was even more emphatic about Chief Arredondo being the man who is responsible for everything here, blaming everything on him.

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, again, you know, every agency in that hallway is going to have to share the blame. And like I said, again, I'll go back to, when have you ever seen a federal or state law enforcement officer take --


MCLAUGHLIN: -- the cues from local law enforcement?

PROKUPECZ: DPS is a big agency in this state.

MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah. PROKUPECZ: The governor -- they report directly to the governor.


PROKUPECZ: Do you think McCraw should step aside, should step down, should resign?

MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, I think he has got to be accountable when this is all said and done, too. We all are. I mean, like I said -- I mean, your story can't change on something this horrific three times -- four times in three days.


MCLAUGHLIN: And that's what it's done. Let us be candid.


MCLAUGHLIN: I mean, when I got to the scene, there were 30 to 40 DPS officers already on scene. In the various videos you see from outside, you see DPS officers run around with flak jackets on and ballistic helmets on and different things. That is video that has been shown from the outside.

But yet when we are talking about no presence of DPS there in the hallway, I know at one time there were 14 of them in the hallway. If they stayed there or not, I can't tell you because I haven't seen the video. But, I mean, you know, like I said, if this is a failure, it's a failure on everybody's part.

PROKUPECZ: Well, it is a failure. You can't say, if this is a failure.


PROKUPECZ: You have to say it is a failure.

MCLAUGHLIN: It is a failure. But, I mean, that failure, every agency --

PROKUPECZ: Your issue is that everything is being pointed towards one place.


PROKUPECZ: In some ways.

MCLAUGHLIN: And if we point everything over here, the truth is not going to come out. And these families and this community, they deserve to know what happened.

PROKUPECZ: Are you concerned that the truth is not going to come out?

MCLAUGHLIN: I think we will get to the truth. I think they put themselves, backed themselves in a corner. They don't have a way out yet. And it is time to figure out how do you -- they released so much B.S., in my opinion, that they put themselves in a corner. So, how do you come out of a corner?


PROKUPECZ: And Laura, you know, DPS, he is referring to them a lot. That's the Texas Department of Public Safety and its leader, Colonel McCraw, who directly answers to the governor.

He is taking issue with some of the information that has been put out there, specifically why is it he feels that every time that the colonel there, McCraw, has talked about this investigation, he never talks about his officers, the state troopers that are working for the Department of Public Safety, and what they were doing there.

And that is essentially his issue right now, that everything is being pointed to local officials in Uvalde, but for some reason, no one else is being talked about, specifically because they were there, too, he says, in the hallway, Laura.

COATES: I mean, as you say, you point your finger at someone, there are three pointing back at you. I'm always wondering what is happening in the periphery. You're getting down to those answers.

But Shimon, it has been, as you know, extremely hard to get any answers from any law enforcement officers down there about what happened at Robb Elementary. Since this interview and you just spoke with the mayor, has there been any response to what he said? I mean, he has called it a cover-up.

PROKUPECZ: Yeah, strong words, right, Laura --


PROKUPECZ: -- from the mayor here. No, there hasn't been. You know, usually what happens every time we go to the Texas Department of Public Safety that is running this investigation, they say, we can't talk because the district attorney is telling us we are not allowed to talk because she is running her own investigation.

And, of course, when we go to the director attorney, she will tell us, well, she is not talking about it. And every time we try to go to her office or talk to her, she refuses to answer our questions. So, no, we are not getting any answers.

And when you think about this, this is 42 days, we are now 42 days after this incident. Kids are going to be returning to school in just a couple of weeks, mid-August, they return to school, and we still don't know so much about this. And that is what is certainly is frustrating everyone, the family members, the community, and now man of the public officials in Uvalde.

COATES: Well, Shimon, when it comes to you and your reporting and journalism, we don't have the answers yet. You'll get them. I know you will. Thank you so much.

PROKUPECZ: Thank you. COATES: Former President Trump's allies have been subpoenaed. The election probe digging deep into the inner circle. We'll tell you who will be in that hot seat next.




COATES: The investigations surrounding former President Trump are now heating up. We got court filings show that Trump allies, including Rudy Giuliani and Senator Lindsey Graham, have been hit by subpoenas by a special grand jury in Georgia. Fulton County DA looks at Trump's attempts to overturn the state's 2020 election.

And in Washington, there are new details emerging about whether the January 6 Committee's investigation will be heading in a week after the explosive testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson.

Joining me now to discuss, CNN senior legal analyst Elie Honig and CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein.

Gentlemen, I'm glad you're both here. A lot going on. Elie, I'll start with you. These subpoenas, nothing to sneeze at. I mean, tell me about why this is so much more dangerous for Trump legally? It's a criminal investigation, for one thing.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah, Laura, it is a criminal investigation. These are the real kind of subpoenas that you and I grew up with as prosecutors.



HONIG: They are not easily brushed off in the way that we have seen the committee subpoenas brushed off. Also, this tells us that the D.A. is looking to break into Donald Trump's inner, inner circle: Rudy Giuliani, Lindsey Graham, Sidney Powell, Jenna Ellis.

Now, the thing we have to realize, and you know this, Laura, usually, prosecutors do not subpoena somebody if they see that person as a target. Therefore, the fact that they subpoenaed these people tells me the prosecutors at the moment believe they are unlikely to charge today seven recipients.

Now, you can read what you will into that, but it tells me that they really got their sights set on Donald Trump. Whether they will get there, I think, very much remains to be seen.

COATES: Is that the case, you think, even though this is a special grand jury, Elie. The idea that they're not going to return an indictment? That is not their job or the request there about making a report. Will the same still be true, you think?

HONIG: Yeah. This is a special grand jury. As you know, Laura, they are not going to be making an indictment. They will be, as you said, issuing a recommendation. And that is a policy really of DOJ. That said, it is generally accepted good prosecutorial practice that you don't subpoena someone who may be a target.

So, I believe the D.A. will abide by that. I think it is generally accepted that that is the right, proper, and ethical way to do things. It is really up to the D.A. But I do have every reason to believe that she is abiding by that.

COATES: Well, we will see. And, of course, that is part of the idea against self-incrimination, the idea of inviting somebody to testify against themselves. That is the reason they had this particular rule.

Ron, speaking of the January 6 Committee, we are hearing from sources --


COATES: -- that are saying that the committee has subpoenaed former White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Matthews, and she could testify as early as next week. Now, remember that she resigned the night of January 6th.


COATES: From the perspective of how -- what we have seen already, I mean, how valuable could this testimony be after what we learned from Cassidy Hutchinson just last week?

BROWNSTEIN: First of all, can I say that I am just perfectly happy sitting here listening to the two prosecutors talk about the dynamics of subpoenas? It's pretty fascinating.

Look, I think it is clear that the committee is intent on providing a very detailed, hour by hour, maybe minute by minute, account of what Donald Trump did or more importantly did not do once he got back to the White House apparently after his desire to go to the Capitol on January 6th was rejected by the Secret Service.

And I think this is one of potentially, you know, many witnesses who are going to give us further insight beyond the incredible insight from Cassidy Hutchinson about Trump's behavior on that day. Certainly, that will be -- if Pat Cipollone ultimately agrees to any kind of formal interview, that would be another major focus, another area of focus for him.

COATES: And we are told, Elie, that the committee has announced their seventh hearing, of course. It is for next Tuesday. It is going to focus on the efforts that went into assembling the mob and Trump White House connections to possibly extremist groups at that very rally.

What kind of evidence are you going to be looking to hear?

HONIG: So, a couple of big questions, Laura. First of all, when it comes to assembling the mob, I would like to know who paid for that rally, the "stop the steal" rally on January 6th, and was there any coordination between the White House or the Trump campaign and that rally?

And with respect to extremists, this is one of the biggest unknowns that we still have. What were the connections, if any, between the Oath Keepers, the Proud Boys and people who are really in Donald Trump's inner circle?

Bennie Thompson told Jake Tapper that there were conversations with people in Trump's orbit. Not clear what either of those things mean. I think we need to find out.

COATES: Ron, I will tell you one thing. If we see like a third documentarian who says, oh, I was also along on this road, I don't know what I will do. How many people were documenting this, again, in broad daylight, actual filmmakers around? We heard from Vice Chair Liz Cheney as well over the weekend that the committee would make multiple -- could make -- could make multiple criminal referrals, including one for the former president.

I am wondering about what kind of political shockwaves that could ultimately send. I mean, we are a half skip and a jump away from midterm elections. We don't yet know who is vying to be the RNC nominee. What can be the impact be?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think, first of all, you know, in terms of -- you got to separate out the impact on the midterm versus the potential impact on 2024. I do think that this is taking a bite out of Donald Trump. I think it may force him to try to announce for president early, kind of propel him to announce for president even before the midterm election in an effort to make it tougher for the Justice Department to eventually prosecute him.

And that would be, I think, the thing that Democrats would most like to see between now and November. I mean, you know, history tells us that in a midterm, the party out of the White House is going to show up in big numbers. That has always been true in American politics.

Inflation is really high. Gas prices are $6 a gallon. That means Democrats are going to have, I think, a difficult time with a lack of swing voters.


The biggest unknown left in this midterm election, Laura, is what happens to the democratic base that came out in such historic numbers, particularly in 2018 and 2020, to beat Donald Trump.

I think the January 6th investigation even without a Trump announcement, plus the Supreme Court actions on guns and abortion, are clearly awakening that base. Whether or not it's going to overcome all the other obstacles Democrats face in this election is unclear.

But I do think the ability of Democrats to argue that if you did not want Donald Trump's vision of America to prevail and you came out to enter that fight in 2018 and 2020, what the January 6th hearings are showing us is that that fight is not over and you still need to be engaged. And we will see what they can do, but it's probably the best argument they have between now and November.

COATES: We will turn there next. Elie Honig, Ron Brownstein, thank you so much for talking tonight.

HONIG: Thanks, Laura.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

COATES: You know, some states are banning abortion. Others are not. Some have very stringent restrictions. And all the confusion is forcing some women into neighboring states to get the care they desire while they still can.




COATES: Since last month's Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, nine states have passed laws banning or restricting severely abortion. And the state of Indiana could soon join that list. Lawmakers there are planning to hold a special session on July 25th to discuss a potential abortion ban. Now, patients living in surrounding states that have banned abortion are flocking to Indiana while abortion is still legal.

Indiana obstetrician, Dr. Caitlin Bernard, is among those seeing an influx in patients, and she joins me now. Dr. Bernard, thank you for joining us. I have to ask, since this ruling, what have you been seeing as far as an influx of patients from other states? Are there more women crossing state lines for care into Indiana?

CAITLIN BERNARD, OBGYN: Absolutely. You know, we know that people have been traveling for abortion care for a long time, right? We know even in Indiana, there are many people who live in places where there is no access to abortion care.

And now, it is getting even worse. Now, people have to travel across state lines due to the state laws that are coming down after the SCOTUS decision.

COATES: And, of course, we learned about the idea and one of pushbacks has been about those who are women of means can possibly travel, but those who are not are going to have an even steeper hurdle. But the phrase, women, I want to get into this because I've been hearing a lot about the idea of not having exceptions for rape or incest or even for younger women, younger girls, in fact.

Can we talk about the effect of Roe being overturned around the entire country, specifically about young girls who are victims of abuse? Those who are victims of rape and incest. I hope that they are not being dismissed in what they are experiencing right now. Can you tell us about how at risk they might be, as we speak?

BERNARD: Absolutely. You know, we know that this is actually relatively common. One in 10 young women will face sexual assault, sexual abuse, by the age of 18. So, you know, they are among the many people who need abortions, for whatever their reasons, across the age spectrum.

And the bans are incredibly severe. To think of no exceptions, for example, in Ohio with their six-week ban, there's no accounting for all of the range of reasons that people need an abortion.

And again, you know, these laws are created without any consideration for medical necessity, for -- you know, these are created by lawmakers and not by doctors. And abortion is health care and needs to stay in that area.

COATES: You know, I think -- as a former prosecutor, I often think about the cases I've had to prosecute a sexual violence against the most -- youngest children among us.

And one of the things that we are seeing are these cases being sort of dismissed and this notion of a younger girl could not possibly get pregnant at such a young age. This is not true. I mean, puberty is happening earlier and earlier, especially in girls of color, I understand, in particular.

And I don't want this to be lost in the conversations surrounding those who are particularly vulnerable to the crimes that are committed against them.

BERNARD: Absolutely. You know, again, people need to understand what are the real-world repercussions of this law. This is not, you know, something that can be debated in the political realm. This needs to be something that are decided by a patient and their physician because of all of the range of reasons, including abuse for which people need to have abortions.

And, you know, as you say, the risks of continuing a pregnancy in that young age, every obstetrician can tell you, the youngest patient that they've taken care of, the serious health and life repercussions that a pregnancy at that young age can have for them, not to mention the trauma after their abuse.

COATES: Well, we will see what happens in a place like Indiana after special session and to what extent people need to travel around the country in this new patchwork of laws that we will have in what was really the United States of America.

Dr. Bernard, thank you so much.

BERNARD: Thank you.

COATES: Well, she says that she's terrified that she might be there forever. Brittney Griner writing a letter from inside a Russian prison.


We'll tell you the contents of that letter after this.


COATES: Tonight, the White House is saying that President Biden has read a letter handwritten to him by the WNBA star, Brittney Griner, who is being detained by Russian authorities.

It reads, in part, as I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey, or any accomplishments, I'm terrified I might be here forever.

She goes on saying, I realize you are dealing with so much, but please don't forget about me and the other American detainees.


Please do all you can to bring us home.

The White House press secretary responding tonight.


KARINE JEAN PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This is a priority for this president. He is doing everything that he can. The White House is closely coordinating as well with the special presidential envoy for hostage affairs who has met with Brittany's family, her teammates, and her support network.


COATES: Brittney Griner was arrested at Moscow's airport in mid- February. Russian officials claiming she had cannabis oil in her luggage, accusing her of smuggling in a narcotic substance. She went on trial Friday on drug smuggling charges and faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Thanks for watching. Our coverage continues.