Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Senate Votes on Abortion Rights; 911 Call from Vicky White; Musk Would Reverse Trump's Twitter Ban; Journalist Killed in West Bank; Passenger Lands Plane. Aired 9:30-10a

Aired May 11, 2022 - 09:30   ET




ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Today, the Senate will vote on a bill that would codify into federal law a woman's right to seek an abortion. Now this comes in the wake, of course, of the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion that indicates that justices are poised to overturn Roe v. Wade.

CNN's Melanie Zanona joining us now live from Capitol Hill.

So we know, Melanie, this measure needs 60 votes to pass the Senate. Currently split 50/50. It is not likely to pass. But Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, says he absolutely wants to follow through here.

What's that strategy?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: It's all about offense. Democrats are under immense pressure to show that they're fighting against this potential ruling overturning Roe v. Wade. And they also want to put every single Republican on the record, especially since so many of them don't really want to talk about this issue.

Here's Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin explaining the Democratic strategy.


SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): I don't believe we will have 60 today. But every member of the Senate will go on record, do you want to overturn Roe v. Wade. That's what this is all about. If you want to vote that way, be my guest. But put us in a situation where we're taking away a basic freedom that has been guaranteed by the Constitution and the court for 50 years is significant, historic, and senators should be on the record.


ZANONA: So this is essentially a symbolic vote here. It does not have the 60 votes required to get over this initial procedural step. All Republicans are opposed to it, including Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, who do support abortion rights but believe this bill is too broad. And it also might not have the support of all Democrats. Joe Manchin voted against a similar bill earlier this year. He has not said how he'll vote yet.

Although, in a sign of the shifting landscape, there is one anti- abortion Democrat, Bob Casey, who said he would vote for this procedural step and this bill today.

But, look, there are some serious potential risks here to the strategy. Not only could it expose Democratic divisions, but it also could really highlight how powerless Democrats really are in a 50/50 Senate. That is why you've seen multiple Democrats renew their calls to gut the so-called filibuster, that 60 vote threshold. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema still opposed to that.

But what I will say here is, this is not the end of this debate. This is only the beginning of the fight for Democrats here on Capitol Hill.


HILL: Melanie Zanona with the latest for us. Melanie, thank you.

Well, ahead in the next hour, as Melanie said, it's just the beginning for Democrats. We're going to ask exactly what that fight will look like. I'll be joined by Senator Elizabeth Warren in our next hour with that bill that doesn't appear to be poised to pass. How does she plan to fight back to protect Roe and much more. Join us for that interview.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, lots of symbolic votes on The Hill these days.

Murder suspect Casey White is back in Alabama this morning, two days after the escaped inmate was captured following a nationwide manhunt -- there are the pictures there -- ended with the corrections officer who helped break him out of jail last month, Vicky White, dead from what officials say was a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Here is the sheriff of Lauderdale County, where the two had escaped from, on how Casey White acted on his return.


SHERIFF RICK SINGLETON, LAUDERDALE COUNTY, ALABAMA: He certainly, to me, didn't show any remorse for anything he's done. He -- you know, I mean this was supposed to be his girlfriend, and she's dead. And, you know, he hasn't shown any remorse that I've seen even since that happened. He used her, you know, which they always do.

He just looked pitiful, you know. Like I said, he looked like a whipped puppy and, you know, he needs to, you know, have his tail tucked between his legs. He ought to be ashamed. But, you know, people like this, they don't have shame.


SCIUTTO: People like this don't have shame.

CNN's Omar Jimenez joins us now. So, Omar, I understand you just obtained the 911 call made by Vicky

White from inside that vehicle just before her death. What do we hear?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim, we're hearing what may have been Vicky White's final words. We knew she was on the phone with 911 before law enforcement got to her, and before she shot herself as police say. But take a listen to some of what she said in the moments that appear to be just after the car crashed.


VICKY WHITE: (INAUDIBLE) God. The airbags are going off, let's get out -- run. (INAUDIBLE) the f hotel.


JIMENEZ: It was shortly after that, that police say she shot herself.

Now, newly released body camera footage from the Evansville Police Department here basically picks up from there and shows law enforcement trying to get her out of that mangled vehicle. And one of the officers even notes, as they approach, that she's still got the gun in her hand.


And after what at least was more than five minutes trying to get her out, they eventually do. Her body is completely limp at that point. And as we know now, she was later declared dead.

Now, law enforcement also found multiple weapons in this vehicle, nine millimeter, a rifle and, as we know, Casey White allegedly told investigators he was planning to get into a shootout with law enforcement if they had not rammed his vehicle.

They also found $29,000 in cash. The sheriff believes came from Vicky White's recent sale of her home.

But, of course, Casey White is back in Alabama, marking the end of what was a more than 10-day saga on the run, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Yes, Vicky White, that officer, is dead.

Omar Jimenez, thanks so much.

A judge has found that celebrity chef Mario Batali is not guilty of criminal indecent assault and battery. He was accused of groping of a woman who asked for a selfie at a restaurant in 2017. The judge noted Batali's conduct was, quote, not befitting of a public person of his stature, but cited significant credibility issues with his accuser.

HILL: Just ahead, Elon Musk says once Twitter is under his control, he'll allow Donald Trump back on the social media platform. The former president, though, may not be sold. We'll take a look.


HILL: Twitter's soon to be owner Elon Musk says if that deal closes, former President Donald Trump can return.


ELON MUSK: I do think that it was not correct to ban Donald Trump. I think that was -- that was a mistake. Because it alienated a large part of the country and did not ultimately result in Donald Trump not having a voice.


HILL: Musk called Twitter's decision to ban the former president a morally bad decision. It's not clear if Trump would choose to tweet again. Sources telling CNN he is still committed to his new social networking site Truth Social.

Will Oremus is a technology analyst writer for "The Washington Post" and joins us now.

Will, in a piece for the post you wrote, Musk, what he really means by free speech is a platform that is more tolerant of misinformation, personal harassment, bullying and hate speech. I think that a lot of people watching what's playing out here, the real question is, who at Twitter is going to decide what constitutes free speech moving forward? Is it Elon Musk? Is he the sole decisionmaker on that? How would it work?

WILL OREMUS, TECHNOLOGY ANALYST WRITER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, Elon Musk can't be the sole decisionmaker for every content moderation decision that Twitter makes. This is a platform with 230,000 million users every day. And something that people tend to forget is that over 80 percent of those users are outside the U.S. So it's one thing for Musk to make a call on someone like Donald Trump. It's another to do the work every day of making tens of thousands of calls on tweets that have been reported by users around the world in all different languages.

HILL: You know, to that point, he also tweeted on Monday that he wants to abide by the laws of the countries where Twitter operates, which, obviously, brings in some interesting questions about, you know, he says, if something becomes problematic in certain countries, they should deal with that there. If we're not talking about a democracy, if laws can't be passed, if we're talking about how things are regulated in China or Russia, this is a whole can of worms.

OREMUS: Yes. There's a lot that Elon Musk hasn't said or hasn't explained. He is clearly a smart man. He's built two of the most successful businesses of our time in SpaceX and Tesla. In social media he's coming into a realm that is very different. This is about human systems. That is not necessarily been the strength that he's displayed over his career. And his statement so far have revealed what seems to be a relatively simplistic understanding of how social media works and what content moderation is really about. He had said that he would just allow speech that complies with the law. He has not made clear whether he means only in democracies or also in authoritarian countries. And even in democracies, the government will often try to push social networks to take down speech that is critical of them, to take -- take down speech from activists. And Musk has not said what he would do in those cases. It's not clear that he's even really thought it through.

HILL: And those are some of the outstanding questions. But there's also debate over what will happen if -- you know, once this deal closes, he says Donald Trump is allowed back on. There's a lot of debate over Trump Twitter 2.0, what that looks like. What do you think? I mean is the obsession with the former president, if he decides to tweet again, is that obsession going to be at the same, exhausting pace or is there a chance that people are maybe a little bit over it?

OREMUS: Well, I think it depends on his political fortunes, obviously. I mean when he's the president, you can't ignore what he says. If you look at how the media has been treating everything that Elon Musk has tweeted since his takeover bid began, I think that's a good clue that they'll still be jumping over everything that Trump says.

I think that, you know, Twitter is Trump's ideal platform. He has -- his people are saying that he is not going to come back to Twitter because he wants to stay on Truth Social. But this is a man who loves attention, and Twitter is the place where he gets the most attention for what he says. He has the most followers and fans. He has about 88 million followers on Twitters, at least he did when he was suspended. Only about 2 million on Truth Social, his new network.

So I -- I think it's likely that Trump will come back to Twitter if indeed Musk is able to complete this transaction, take over the social network and reinstate him.


HILL: Will Oremus, it's great to have you with us this morning. Thank you.

OREMUS: Thanks.

SCIUTTO: There's tension and tragedy in the West Bank. An al Jazeera journalist was shot and killed covering the conflict there. We're going to be live in Jerusalem, there she is, with the latest, next.


HILL: Sad news to report this morning. A journalist shot and killed while covering an Israeli military operations in the West Bank. Shireen Abu Akleh was a Palestinian-American working for al Jazeera.


SCIUTTO: Deeply respected, deeply experienced report.

CNN correspondent Hadas Gold is following this story. So, Hadas, Palestinian officials, they're calling this an execution. What do we know about the facts behind this?

HADAS GOLD, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's a terrible tragedy today. So you noted, Shireen was so well known as a veteran correspondent across the Arab world and for us, for the journalist community here, it's just so terrible what happened this morning.

From what we understand, she was shot this morning, as you noted, while covering an Israeli military operation in the West Bank town of Jenin. A second journalist, her producer, Ali Al-Samudi, was also shot but he is in stable condition.

In video we are seeing right after the scene, I should warn you, this video is disturbing, you can clearly see that Shireen is wearing body armor that says "press" on it, as well as a helmet. These are the identifying factors showing that journalists are working out in the field.

Now, Al Jazeera is placing the blame fully on the Israeli security forces in the area, calling on the international community to hold Israel accountable for what it says, deliberately targeting and killing our colleague Shireen Abu Akleh.

I want to play for you what her producer, Ali Al-Samudi, who was also injured, said about the incident earlier today. Take a listen.


ALI AL-SAMUDI, JOURNALIST (through translator): We were going in to film the army operation. Suddenly one of then shot at us. They didn't tell us to leave. They didn't tell us to stop. They shot us.

The first bullet hit me. The second bullet hit Shireen. They killed her with cold blood because they are killers specializing in the killing of Palestinians.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are claiming Palestinians killed her.

AL-SAMUDI: The were no resistance groups near us. If the resistance was there, we wouldn't go to that area.


GOLD: Now, for context, Jenin has been a place where the Israeli military has been operating quite frequently in the past several weeks in response to a series of attacks targeting Israelis that have killed at least 18 people. And the Israeli military said several of those attackers came from the Jenin area.

Now, the IDF says that earlier today they were -- their forces were conducting counterterrorism operations when they came under fire and they say they returned fire several times.

Now, the chief of staff of the Israeli military, Aviv Kohavi (ph), just put out a statement saying that at this stage it is not possible to determine from which shot she was hit and that they regret her death. They have set up a special team that will clarify the facts.

The prime minister, Naftali Bennett, has put out his own statement earlier today and they are saying that according to the information they've gathered, it appears likely that armed Palestinians who were indiscriminately firing at the time were responsible for the unfortunate death of the journalist. Bennett is also calling on the Palestinians to conduct a joint pathological analysis and investigation. He says that so far the Palestinians have refused this offer but no matter what is happening, this is just a horrific, unnecessary death of a journalist who was just doing her job.

HILL: Yes, absolutely.

Hadas Gold, we know you'll stay on it for those updates. Thank you.

Up next here, how did a passenger with zero flight experience manage to safely land the plane with an incoherent pilot beside him? You're going to hear from the air traffic controller, who luckily was also a flight instructor, and managed to talk him through it. Stay with us for a live report.



SCIUTTO: Folks, just terrifying, amazing moments midflight when a passenger with zero piloting experience was forced to land a single engine plane when this pilot suddenly became incapacitated.


PASSENGER: I've got a serious situation here. My pilot has gone incoherent, and I have no idea how to fly the airplane, but I'm maintaining at 9100.

TOWER: Caravan 3333LD, Roger. What's your position?

PASSENGER: I have no idea. I can see the coast of Florida in front of me and I have no idea.

TOWER: What was the situation with the pilot?

PASSENGER: He is incoherent. He is out.

TOWER: #LD, Roger. Try to hold the wings level and see if you can start descending for me. Push forward on the controls and descend at a very slow rate.



HILL: I am in awe every time I hear that audio.

The calm tone of that gentleman's voice, the passenger, was able to safely land that plane with help from air traffic control. CNN aviation correspondent Pete Muntean joining us live to discuss.

So, Pete, with the help of that air traffic controller, who, like you, is also a flight instructor, I mean, talk about luck on that day.

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: So lucky. You know, you hope that this never happens as a pilot. It's not really something that we train for. It's almost like it is out of a movie.

So let's back up on the details here.

This flight was coming from the Bahamas, over the Atlantic Ocean, when all of this happened. The pilot started to complain about a headache, and then became incapacitated. And that's when one of the passengers turned into a pilot, radioed air traffic control, tried to figure out where they are. That was the first big challenge that air traffic control had is just figuring out where this plane was and trying to get it closer to land.

In the tower at Ft. Pierce, Florida, they called the best guy for the job. Hero controller Robert Morgan. Also a flight instructor, 1,200 hours of flying experience. They got him up into the tower to try and talk this plane down. He hadn't flown a Cessna Caravan like this before. A smaller utility plane, about 13 seats. And he actually pulled up an image on his phone of the instrument panel of the Cessna Caravan and tried to talk this passenger through it.

They got them lined up with the biggest runway they could find nearby, at Palm Beach International, PBI.


Shallow descent, shallow turns.

Just want you to listen now to Robert Morgan, who says this is all