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45 Million-Plus Under Threat For Severe Weather Across The South; Ukraine Says, Russian Forces Have Committed 9,800-Plus War Crimes; White House Shares Possible Options If Roe v. Wade Overturned. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired May 05, 2022 - 10:30   ET


AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Allegations regarding his heavy drug use, his heavy dependence on alcohol and his violent outburst.


And we saw in Johnny Depp's case an effort on his part to downplay the violence and, in fact, she blamed Heard for the violent attacks against him.

And as you said in the intro, he denied ever striking her or any woman for that matter. But we're hearing a very different story from Amber Heard and this jury is going to have to decide who is credible, because they are painting very different pictures of what happened in their relationship.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: What if the jury believes both parties, in effect, right, if they find both witnesses credible and somehow conclude it was an abusive relationship, but that both were guilty of abuse?

MARTIN: Well, the ultimate issue, as you know, Jim, in this case is whether that op-ed article that Amber Heard wrote made reference to Johnny Depp, even though it didn't use his name, but was there enough information there so that anyone reading it would have known she was talking about Johnny Depp, and did that article cause damage to his acting career. That's the ultimate decision that this jury is going to have to make.

And in making that decision, they're going to have to weigh not only the testimony of these two individuals, the main characters, but also the other evidence, evidence from the agents and managers who are going to talk about what happened after that op-ed piece came out and what the state of his career is. Because we know Amber Heard's lawyer's position is that, look, Johnny Depp ruined his own career. It was his drinking, it was his drug use, it was his tardiness in showing up, he says, that caused him to lose out on contracts, not that article.

SCIUTTO: But from a legal perspective, if the jury believes Heard, Heard's allegations here, even if they believe Depp's as well, but if they believe Heard's allegations that she was abused, can they still conclude that writing that op-ed was defamatory?

MARTIN: Well, the issue of whether the op-ed is defamatory again is, is there enough information in there to cause a reader to know that she was talking about Johnny Depp, because as I said, she doesn't mention his name. And then, again, the bigger question is, what damage did that do? Was this career, was Johnny Depp's career already, you know, in a downward spiral because of his own actions?

And we know that the U.K., a similar case was brought in the U.K. in terms of defamation, and not before a jury, but a judge, and the U.K. said that Johnny Depp was not credible and believed Amber Heard and believed that he was not entitled to any damages.

So, this jury is going to have to, again, weigh the decision or weigh the evidence to determine did this article do damage to his career the way that he is claiming.

SCIUTTO: But to my understanding, and forgive me if I'm just failing to understand, to my understanding, he lost the case in the U.K. because the judge concluded the allegations of him being abusive were credible. So, I guess what I'm saying, can it still be defamatory if it's true, that the jury determines it's true?

MARTIN: Oh, absolutely not.


MARTIN: Yes, truth is always a defense to a defamation claim. And maybe I didn't understand your question. Let me be clear, yes.


MARTIN: So, if the jury decides that Johnny Depp engaged in the physical and sexual violence that Amber Heard is alleging and will testify about throughout this trial, then, no, he loses, in the same way that he lost in the U.K. trial, when the judge determined, yes, she's credible, you did these things that she's alleging and you can't now claim that you're being defamed because she's simply telling the truth.

And so, absolutely, if the jury rejects Johnny Depp's allegations that she was the aggressor and they believe her claims of violence, he's going to lose this case.

SCIUTTO: Understood. Well, it's a difficult case to watch, God knows. Areva Martin, thanks so much.

An enhanced risk of severe storms again today across parts of the Central Southern United States, yesterday, at least eight reported tornadoes swept from Texas to Kansas, some of the video just alarming. These images taken as the storm slammed Seminole, Oklahoma, about 50 miles southeast of Oklahoma City, flashes of light and power lines exploding near a storm chase vehicle. This gives you a sense of the power of that storm.

I want to bring in CNN's Lucy Kafanov. She's in Seminole. Tell us what damage you're seeing there.

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, the city is still assessing the full extent of the damage. We've seen some repair vehicles trying to clean up some of the debris that's been spread across here. The governor saying no reported injuries, but this entire area taking a direct hit, multiple tornado warnings overnight, multiple tornadoes touching down here. One local resident said that she had to take her family to a school to hide in the gun vault there because her home didn't have a basement. Take a listen.


TIFFANI COKER, OKLAHOMA RESIDENT: It sounded like a train and we could also hear things just slamming against the walls, like, you know, metal, glass, things like that.


And then when we opened the door to come out, the entire roof was gone. Everything other than where we were is just gone. It was just so surreal.


KAFANOV: And, Jim, you might hear noise around me. There are folks with power saws cutting down trees. You can see the John Deere piece of machinery that's about to do the cleanup.

And I also want to show this building over here behind me. This is an apartment complex. We actually talked to one resident who rode out the storm there overnight. She said two tornadoes hit. The first one did most of this damage that you're looking at there, the roof peeled off like the top of a sardine can. Most of the residents evacuated. She stayed there. Her apartment relatively undamaged, but the folks on the third floor will not be returning anytime soon. It gives you a sense of just how strong this tornado was.

And just about every single building, Jim, downtown, has some sort of damage. The power lines are down in the entire city at this moment at least is without power. Jim?

SCIUTTO: Lucy Kafanov there in Seminole, Oklahoma, thanks very much.

With new strikes on the eastern part of Ukraine, how much longer can soldiers keep Russian forces from moving forward? We're going to get an update on the situation in Ukraine, coming up next.



SCIUTTO: This morning, Ukrainian officials are accusing Russian forces of committing nearly 10,000 war crimes since the start of the invasion and they say that number is still rising. Ukraine's prosecutor general detailing deliberate bombings targeting civilians, along with other atrocities in testimony before the U.S. Helsinki Commission today.

Joining me now to discuss, Anastasia Radina, she's a member of the Ukrainian parliament. Good to have you back on.

I wonder if we could begin with what we're seeing unfold in that Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, because we speak of allegations of war crimes. There are hundreds of civilians there, Russians deliberately bombing this plant and not allowing significant numbers of civilians to leave. Are you concerned Russian forces will kill the civilians remaining there?

ANASTASIA RADINA, MEMBER OF UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT: If Russia continues with they are doing now, which is deliberately bombing shelters where they know civilians are hiding, chances are high that those people will also be victims of Russia war crimes and will lose their life due to that.

We have been working very, very hard trying to evacuate people from Azovstal plant, trying to arrange humanitarian corridors. We were successful in evacuating 154 people, if I'm not mistaken. But more civilians are still there and Russia is showing absolutely no respect whatsoever to their lives, due to the necessity to save their lives and the fact that these are civilians, not servicemen.

SCIUTTO: So, this is Russia's failure, clearly, a deliberate one, one can argue, but Ukrainian officials, yourself included, have been asking for western help to save these people for weeks. It hasn't come. Is the U.S., is NATO, is the international community also responsible for not saving these lives?

RADINA: We have been asking and we are continuing to ask all our allies and all of our partners to send heavy weapons to Ukraine. The weapons we need to protect life of civilians and also to liberate those civilians who are now in besieged cities, who are now taken hostage, literally, in occupied cities, in order to save the lives of these civilians.

Javelins, however good they are, unfortunately are not very helpful. What we need in order to save lives of these people are heavy artillery, are armed vehicle, are fighter jets, et cetera, heavy weaponry. This is the best and basically this is the only way to deliver humanitarian assistance to this people.

I can only reiterate what our first lady has said. Diapers or baby food will not help if kids die. And in order to save lives of those kids, we need heavy weaponry. This is the first and basically only thing that can help those people in besieged and occupied cities right now.

SCIUTTO: May 9th, as you know, is Victory Day, as it's known in Russia. Are you concerned that Russia will expand the war in Ukraine next week?

RADINA: I think this can be expected. This can be expected. Of course, it is very difficult to plan or speculate of what Russia may do or may not do, because our experience with Russia is that they lie and deceive and this is what they can do best.

At the same time, for us, right now, it is very important to be able to demonstrate that Ukraine has long-term, midterm, and most importantly, short-term support in terms of weaponry and in terms of financing from our partners.

SCIUTTO: We've been seeing new video there, as you were speaking, from Mariupol, the ongoing attacks. Anastasia Radina, member of the parliament, thanks so much for joining us.


RADINA: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Still ahead, she was part of the original fight for abortion rights half a century ago. And at 90 years old, our next guest is protesting again for a woman's right to choose.


SCIUTTO: The White House is not offering much detail about how it would respond if the Supreme Court does overturn Roe v. Wade, as indicated in that leaked draft opinion.


But CNN has learned President Biden is considering steps the administration could take without Congress, among the ideas raised, both internally and externally, removing certain FDA restrictions on abortion pills, possibly allowing Medicaid to cover abortions if a woman needs to travel to another state to receive the procedure and expanding access to contraception by removing a Trump-era rule that allows employers to exclude birth control from insurance.

Well, the battle goes on. A higher fence now up around the Supreme Court, as protests continue over that leaked draft opinion showing the Supreme Court's plans versus Roe v. Wade.

My next guest took to the streets in North Carolina when she heard that news last week. It's not the first time. 50 years ago, she protested for abortion rights before Roe v. Wade was decided.

Joining me now is Betty Lazo. She is 90 years young and serves as secretary for the Wake County Senior Democrats. Betty, thanks for joining me this morning.


SCIUTTO: I want to ask you, because you fought in the early '70s for something you see as an essential woman's right. Are you surprised that half a century later to be facing this battle again?

LAZO: Yes. Well, I'm not only surprised, I'm very angry because men don't have stipulations on their health. Why do women?

SCIUTTO: It's a good point. I wonder, you lived in a time when there was not only a protected right to abortion but women had a whole host of things that we take -- did not have a whole host of things that many women take for granted today, legal process for sexual harassment claims. I mean, women then could not apply for a credit card under many circumstances without their husband's okay. Many universities weren't coed at the time.

I wonder, describe to younger women watching this broadcast what it was like then versus today.

LAZO: Yes. I became involved in the women's movement. The '60s and '70s were very important for our rights. We began to realize more and more that we should be equal and not -- and be able to get credit or whatever.

SCIUTTO: Do you feel that this is a reminder that victories, like the ones you believe you had in the early '70s, are not permanent?

LAZO: That's a hard thing to realize. Nothing really is permanent, but I believe that climate change is serious and I believe that overpopulation is important for creating for more problems. So, a woman's right is very important. It's not a moral thing.

SCIUTTO: Yes, I was thinking, as I was hearing your story, my mother always told me that when I was a baby and had to go in the hospital, she was told that she could not admit me without the baby's father present, and, of course, that did not make her very happy, that these enormous changes happened during that period of time.

Are you encouraged -- do you believe young people can, will take up this fight the way you did 50 years ago?

LAZO: I hope so. And I felt pretty positive Wednesday. I saw a lot of young women and they're very serious too. And they're concerned about their rights. I hope they all get out and vote. That's what we need to do is vote.

SCIUTTO: Now, North Carolina is a state. It's not one of the states prepared to quickly ban abortions, as some other states are, if Roe is overturned. Do you believe in your state, and, by the way, as I noted, you're still active in state politics there, will voters in North Carolina be motivated by this decision, do you think, if it comes to be?

LAZO: I think it's going to help motivate, yes. Unfortunately, our senators are pro-life, not women's rights. But I do hope they all get out and vote.

SCIUTTO: Well, Betty Lazo, it's so good to talk to you. I really do appreciate your perspective and I'm sure many folks watching do as well. Thank you for coming on.

LAZO: Thank you very much.

SCIUTTO: And thanks to much for all of you for joining us today. I'm Jim Sciutto.

My colleague, Erica Hill, continues our coverage right after a short break.