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Texas Governor Under Fire for Comments About Rape; Texas Governor Faces Fierce Backlash Over Radical New Abortion Law; Texas Claims He Will Work to Eliminate All Rapists from The Streets; Opening Arguments Underway in Theranos Founder's Trial; Britney Spears' Father Files to End Conservatorship. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired September 08, 2021 - 15:30   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: A day after passing that radical new abortion law, Texas Governor Greg Abbott tried to explain why it does not make an exception for rape and incest survivors.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why force a rape or incest victim to carry a pregnancy to term?

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): It doesn't require that at all because obviously, it provides at least six weeks for a person to be able to get an abortion. And so, for one, it doesn't provide that. That said, however, let's make something very clear. Rape is a crime. And Texas will work tirelessly to make sure that we eliminate all rapists from the streets of Texas by aggressively going out and arresting them and prosecuting them and getting them off the streets.

So, goal number one in the state of Texas is to eliminate rape so that no woman, no person will be a victim of rape.


CAMEROTA: Michelle Simpson Tuegel is a woman right's attorney who is suing Texas on behalf of sexual assault survivors. The governor is being slam for his remarks particularly by New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

So, Michelle, before I get to you, I just want to play for you what the Congresswoman said.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): This idea that we're going to quote, unquote, end rape when this same type of frankly rape culture and the same type of misogynistic culture that informed this abortion law to begin with, is also, you know, those beliefs are held by the governor himself and the Texas State Legislature. It's awful. And he speaks from such a place of deep ignorance. And it's not just ignorance, it's ignorance that is hurting people across this country.


CAMEROTA: OK, Michelle, thanks for being with us. What is your reaction when hear how Governor Abbott plans to eliminate rape?

MICHELLE SIMPSON TUEGEL, WOMEN'S RIGHTS ATTORNEY: You know, my reaction is that this law in Texas is not a political talking point. I've been talking to women and girls who are impacted by this law. Who are making agonizing and the toughest decisions of their lives. Women who have been raped. Women who are struggling to get by. Women who have been told news that the fetus that they're carrying may not survive much after birth. And they are suffering.

And then here we have our governor in Texas, the state where I live and practice saying that we're going to eliminate rape. Sadly, something that women have dealt with and girls have dealt with especially since the beginning of time.

And you know, his comments, I think the Congresswoman says really well are not only ignorant but they also ignore the realities of sexual trauma which I see all the time in my practice. That victims don't report quickly. That they usually know the person who rapes them. It's usually a priest or a teacher or a coach. It's not some stranger in a dark alley.

And the governor's comments are really -- you know, they go deeper. And I think it's important for us to look beyond them and to really think about what does he really stand for?

Because if we really look at the agenda that is set for this next legislative session in Texas, I don't see anywhere on that agenda that was released yesterday, anything about rape being a number one priority and eliminating it in the state of Texas. I do see a law against transgender children.

CAMEROTA: Doesn't it also beg the question if he thinks rape is that easy to eliminate in his state, why hasn't he done it?

TUEGEL: Yes, it does. And if you actually look at the facts and the numbers, in the state of Texas, your rate after you have actually reported a sexual assault which we know many victims are not able or willing to do that and that's OK. But if they reported it, they still only face about a 5 percent chance that that's actually going to result in a conviction. So, I'd say we're pretty far from eliminating rape in the state of Texas.

CAMEROTA: And then there's the situation of the huge backlog of rape kits. So, in other words, when a woman reports a rape and goes to the hospital and submits to an invasive exam in order to collect evidence of the rape.

[15:35:00] Then, is it true, that there are something like 6,000 rape kits -- this according to Senator John Cornyn of Texas, this is what he said back in February -- that haven't been processed. That are sitting, waiting for I guess police to investigate them. What's that about?

TUEGEL: That is accurate. There are thousands of rape kits and some legislation in Texas has been passed to try to deal with that over the years. But what I actually see for the women and the clients that I represent is that they are still waiting. That they are not seeing prosecutions. They are not seeing the convictions and the elimination of sexual assault that our governor paraded around yesterday as a ruse to try to get us to not focus on the actual issue which is controlling women's bodies through this bill.

CAMEROTA: But just so I understand, there aren't enough people to process the rape kits. Again, these are women who have had the strength and courage to go to the hospital and submit to this kind of examination, so why aren't those rape kits being processed?

TUEGEL: I think the real reason is that it's not the financial or actual priority that our governor and legislature claim that it is. I think it comes down to money and resources. And what we have seen is that the state of Texas is putting those money and resources towards suppressing voter rights, towards limiting access to abortion. They are not putting that same level of resources into protecting children and women and victims from being sexually assaulted like our governor has said.

CAMEROTA: Obviously, Texas is not alone. Though it does have that extremely draconian law now. But we're also seeing in South Dakota, the governor there has restricted how abortion medications can be administered and delivered. Her order bans abortion meds from be provided via courier, delivery, telemedicine or mail service.

I mean this is -- Texas is not alone. What do you think the future of abortion is in the country?

TUEGEL: You know, I'm hopeful and I'm hopeful that the courts are going to start to see that laws like this are just a way to circumvent what our constitution provides for women and for individuals in this country.

And that what SB8 in Texas and other laws like what we're seeing in South Dakota and promises of similar legislation in states like Florida, is that it's really about control. And it's not really about life. It's about anti-choice and limiting women's control over their own bodies.

CAMEROTA: Michelle Tuegel, thank you. We appreciate your time.

TUEGEL: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Well, she went from being called the next Steve Jobs to facing up to 20 years in prison. We're going to go inside the trial of Elizabeth Holmes. The Theranos founder accused of deceiving investors and patients for billions of dollars. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


CAMEROTA: Opening arguments are under way in the trial against Elizabeth Holmes. She was once hailed as the next Steve Jobs but is now facing prison time -- the possibility of it -- over federal fraud charges.

Holmes is the founder and former CEO of the startup Theranos. A biotech company that promised patients the ability to test for a slew of medical conditions with just a few drops of blood. But Federal investigators say it was all a lie.

CNN's Dan Simon is following the latest developments in the trial.


ELIZABETH HOLMES, FOUNDER AND FORMER CEO THERANOS: So, this is a little tubes that we collect the samples in. We call them the nanotainer. They are about this big.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): She was the darling of Silicon Valley.

HOLMES: Technician operates them.

SIMON (voice over): Her technology billed as a revolutionary breakthrough and it made Elizabeth Holmes a media sensation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In year 2025, what's the thing you're most certain about?

HOLMES: More people will have access to their own health information.

SIMON (voice over): Holmes claims that her company called Theranos a hybrid of therapy and diagnosis could take just a couple drops of blood and test for dozens of diseases, including HIV, diabetes and cancer.

HOLMES: It's incredible honor to have this group of health care thought leaders here.

SIMON (voice over): In 2015, she appeared alongside then Vice President Joe Biden at the company's California lab.

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT 2015: Talk about being inspired. This is inspiration, man. This is inspiration.

HOLMES: No one ever seen this. You are the first one.

SIMON (voice over): A year later she gave CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta a tour of the lab and boasted that Theranos blood testing could be deployed pretty much everywhere.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You think people's homes should have these essentially a clinical laboratory in their own house?

HOLMES: I think that's a very interesting space.

SIMON (voice over): At age 31, according to Forbes, she became the youngest female self-made billionaire. A Stanford dropout, her black turtlenecks and deep distinctive voice made her an even intriguing figure. But prosecutors say it was all a scam.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Elizabeth, any comment today about the trial?

SIMON (voice over): And now instead of walking into a lab, she's walking into a courtroom on trial accused of misleading doctors, patients and investors. Federal prosecutors charging Holmes with ten counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud as part of an alleged scheme to defraud her investors. Which included the likes of Rupert Murdoch and Henry Kissinger.

JOHN CARREYROU, HOST, BAD BLOOD: THE FINAL CHAPTER: Not a single one of those finger stick tests done on proprietary Theranos technology was accurate. They were all voided.

SIMON (voice over): John Carreyrou, is the former "Wall Street Journal" reporter and bestselling author who exposed the alleged deception that sparked Holmes' downfall.


CARREYROU: The gap between her representations and the reality became huge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's very manipulative.

SIMON (voice over): Holmes has pleaded not guilty. She's expected to testify at her trial and blame her former boyfriend who was also the company's president for alleged emotional abuse that impaired her decisions.

If convicted, she could spend 20 years in prison. Whatever happens, trial watchers say could have loud reverberations across Silicon Valley where start-ups often embrace a so-called culture of fake it till you make it.

CARREYROU: I think if she is convicted then it's going to be a wakeup call for Silicon Valley. If she's not, if she is acquitted, then I think you'll have young entrepreneurs running around Silicon Valley saying, yes, you know, I exaggerate, I push the envelope but look at Elizabeth Holmes.


SIMON (on camera): The defense just a short time ago giving its opening statement saying that the truth here is complicated. That Ms. Holmes truly believed, Alisyn, that she could revolutionize health care. But at the end of the day they say Theranos failed but in their words, failure is not a crime. This trial is expected to last 13 weeks and could feature such

witnesses like Henry Kissinger, like former Defense Secretary James Mattis. Both of whom served on the company's board -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Dan, it is such a fascinating story. Thank you.

OK, now to this, Britney Spears' fight to end her court order conservatorship takes an unexpected turn. What this means for the pop star's future.



CAMEROTA: There are new developments in the fight to free Britney. Britney Spears' father Jamie has filed a petition to end the court- ordered conservatorship that has governed her life for more than a decade.

CNN's Chloe Melas is following this story. So, Chloe, does this mean that she will soon not have to do what her father says?

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: Hey, Alisyn, it's great to see you. And, yes, you are right. So, in just a few weeks at the September 29th hearing that's when we are expecting Judge Brenda Penny to, you know, take a look at this petition. It's a 112-page petition from Britney's father Jamie Spears and make the determination that Britney doesn't need a conservatorship anymore.

After all, she's had one for 13 years and she's performed and had albums and had a Las Vegas residency and been a judge on "The X Factor", right.

And when you look at the definition of a probate conservatorship it's usually for someone who has aged out of caring for themselves like the elderly or somebody who that has -- you know who's mentally incapacitated -- Alisyn.

So, her mother. Lynne Spears even said this summer that, my daughter doesn't need a conservatorship. So, how could this kind of, like, go off the rails a bit? Which is what a lot of people have been asking me.

If someone in the family or Jodi Montgomery, the conservator of her person who oversees her medical decisions says I object, or you know, if the judge decides that Britney needs a medical health evaluation which Britney said this summer she doesn't want, and then determines that Britney isn't quite ready yet.

Now we don't expect that to happen. So, the long/short answer is, yes, in a few weeks Britney most likely not have a conservatorship anymore.

CAMEROTA: And but Chloe, isn't her father also asking for some amount of money to go away?

MELAS: Oh, yes, $2 million. And he's asking for half a million dollars for a salary for himself. Because he says, look, I've done business dealings, I've made sure that, you know, she didn't go into debt. I've overseen her $60 million estate for 13 years. And also, his legal fees, which is pretty customary, except his happened to be more expensive because, you know, it's a celebrity conservatorship.

And then also remember Britney said this summer that she wants to charge her father with conservatorship abuse. But in this petition Jamie Spears says, look, I am acting in the best interest of my daughter. I heard her loud and clear at both of her testimonies. I believe things have changed and I want the conservatorship to be over. Which is much different than about a month ago with his court filing that said that Britney, there were talks about her being put another 51/50 psychiatric hold.

So, I feel like we're all, like, whoa, there's new news and a twist and turn every single day. You know, but I think that the sad part of this is, right, it's a father and a daughter, and I think that there's probably not much hope for a true reconciliation, but never say never. I think that this battle could go long past the September 29th hearing, Alisyn. Because it doesn't look like she and her dad are going to come to term (INAUDIBLE) dollars.

CAMEROTA: But Chloe, you're so right. It's just another chapter in this long, strange saga. Thank you very much for all of the reporting.

MELAS: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Still ahead, a delivery driver springs into action after finding a toddler in the middle of a busy street. We show you the amazing response, next.


CAMEROTA: Watch what happens when a food delivery driver in Los Angeles springs into action to save a 2-year-old boy. The heart- stopping moment captured on dashcam. You can see this is a toddler running in the middle of a busy Los Angeles street. The driver says he made the split decision to jump out of his car and stop traffic to get the boy to safety.


GERSON TAVARES, HELPED RESCUE CHILD FROM BUSY STREET: (INAUDIBLE) I know if got out the lane, the driver don't see the boy, the boy is little, little. When the driver stopped, whew, OK, I got the boy in my arms, thank you, God.


CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, it's still unclear how the boy ended up there. But Los Angeles police tell CNN that they were able to help him get back home.

And "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.