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65 Million Americans Will See Highs Above 100 Degrees this Week; Yellowstone Partially Reopens to Public Following Epic Floods; Jury Finds Bill Cosby Liable in 1970s Sexual Battery Case; Fears Grow Over Fate of Captured Americans by Russians; Blinken Set to Meet with Families of Detained Americans; Four-Time Major Champion Brooks Koepka Officially Joins LIV Golf. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired June 22, 2022 - 15:30   ET



FRED GUTTENBERG, DAUGHTER KILLED IN PARKLAND SCHOOL SHOOTING: This conversation for years has always been based on a lie, that people like me, hate the Second Amendment and gun owner. That's a lie. It was never that way. But we hate gun violence. I hate the fact that I visit my daughter in a cemetery. Anything I can do to protect families from not becoming their reality, we as a country should be doing.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Well, Fred, I know you, your family, a lot of families like yours have been working toward this day, this progress, it looks like it has come, Fred Guttenberg, thank you so much for your time.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Great to see you, Fred.

GUTTENBERG: Thank you both.

BLACKWELL: Parts of Yellowstone National Park are starting to reopen after the devastating flooding that literally washed this house away and others. We will take you there.

CAMEROTA: And the extreme weather seen in every corner of the country, millions living under another dangerous heat wave, we'll tell you what you need to know.


CAMEROTA: 65 million Americans can expect to see temperatures above 100 degrees this week. In New Orleans home, residents are being warned that the heat index could hit 115 degrees.


In Atlanta, zookeepers are worried about the animals, including its rare, giant pandas.

BLACKWELL: It's closing early today and tomorrow because of the surge in temperatures. Meteorologist Jennifer Gray has more from the CNN Weather Center. Jennifer, talk to us about the impact of this heat dome. JENNIFER GRAY, CNN AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, guys, this truly is a

dangerous heat, and we're having this heatwave just on the heels of one last week, so really not getting a break from the heat, at all. It is peaking today, and tomorrow. We are really going to feel the heat across the Mississippi River Valley, the Deep South, as we go into the rest of today, into tomorrow, you can see the heat advisories in effect. We have tied or broken records, many of them.

Here are just a few from yesterday, hit 101 in Memphis, 100 in Rockford Illinois, temperatures have been soaring in this bubble of heat is basically trapped over this area, with nowhere to go, and so that's why each day it continues to get hotter and hotter. We have seen temperatures hit the triple digits with those heat index values well over 100, 105 right now is what it feels like in Birmingham, feeling like 100 in New Orleans, 104 in Little Rock and temperatures are still going to go up over the next couple of hours before we start to come down again. So, guys, the heat is still with us and it will be over the next couple of days, especially across the South.

CAMEROTA: Look at all of that red. Jennifer Gray, thank you.

BLACKWELL: After a week of epic flooding and record rainfall, Yellowstone National Park south loop is open to the public again with limited capacity.

CAMEROTA: But many sections of road in the park's northern areas are completely gone. And they say it could cost $1 billion to repair the damage. CNN's Lucy Kafanov is in Yellowstone for us. So, Lucy, what are you seeing around you?

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor, Alisyn, this morning we saw cars as far as the eye could see, families were excited to get back to America's most popular national park, especially as summer vacation kicks off. And you can see old faithful behind me. We're waiting for it to erupt. It's probably going to be quite a little bit of time.

But this is the first time since that catastrophic flooding that tourists and visitors have been able to access this iconic spot. There are severe restrictions on entry to the park. There's about three of the five entrances that are open right now. The southern loop is the only way that you can get into the park. The northern loop remains close as park officials continue construction, reconstruction, cleanup efforts from that catastrophic flooding.

And in order to limit the number of visitors to the park, the managers here are using license plate systems. So, on odd-number of days, license plates with odd numbers can enter, on even-numbered days, license plates with even numbers can enter. And that's what they're doing to sort of limit the flow of visitors to the park.

Now, park officials are still assessing the full scale of the damage. They are hopeful that the northern loop could potentially reopen in the next two weeks. But again, they don't know the full extent of the cleanup efforts that remain underway. But I can tell you from sort of seeing the families roaming around here, a lot of folks are very happy to be getting back into this park, finally, after that catastrophic flooding. Victor, Alisyn.

BLACKWELL: Lucy Kafanov for us there, thank you, Lucy.

A California jury found Bill Cosby liable over claiming sexual assaulting teen back in the 1970s. Why Cosby's lawyers say that he is actually happy with the verdict.



CAMEROTA: A Los Angeles jury has found Bill Cosby liable in a sexual assault case from the 1970s.

BLACKWELL: And the woman who brought the civil case claims that Cosby sexually assaulted her when she was a teenager. CNN's Jean Casarez joins us now. Jean, tell us about this case.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, this is a case, the facts of this case are 47 years old. But California extended statute of limitations that if you suffered childhood sexual abuse, and sometimes the memory can be repressed, that you are given that time as an adult, so that if it comes back, you are allowed to file. And that's exactly what happened in this case.

Judy Huth, she was a minor, she was 16 years old and she testified that in 1975, she and her girlfriend, they were at the park, and Bill Cosby was shooting a movie. He introduced himself. He met them and said you know, in a couple days can you come to the tennis club. They did, then he took them to a home where there was alcohol involved, and then Huth testified that he took them to the Playboy mansion. And that is where she's alleged that she was sexually assaulted by Bill Cosby. I want you to listen to Judy Huth shortly after that verdict was announced and then the response from the defendants representatives.


JUDY HUTH, AWARDED DAMAGES IN BILL COSBY SEXUAL BATTERY CIVIL SUIT: It's been torture. It has. Just to be ripped apart, you know, thrown under the bus, backed over, and this to me is such a big victory. A really is. To all victims.

ANDREW WYATT, SPOKESMAN FOR BILL COSBY: What happened today, wasn't a victory. They didn't get the punitive damages. The victory was ours because we got to disclose or show what this woman was all about. There was no win in here. She will not be getting a dime. We are filing appeals.


CASAREZ: Now Bill Cosby has asserted his innocence through this entire case. He also believes that there is a victory here because they did not award punitive damages, the punishment damages because they didn't find that malice or the oppression but they did award her $500,000 in compensatory damages. His side says that they are going to appeal the verdict. But you know when we look at the evidence, that little friend that she was with back in 1975, she testified.


She testified which bolstered the testimony and obviously, the jury believed that Bill Cosby was liable of this. And this is a huge victory because this is a civil verdict, the first one that's come in for Bill Cosby. Now Lily Bernard, who is another accuser of Bill Cosby who I interviewed for our CNN documentary, she filed a civil suit in New Jersey. So, we'll see what happens with that. But it is something.

BLACKWELL: Important day.

CASAREZ: It's an important justice day.

BLACKWELL: Jean Casarez, thank you.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

CASAREZ: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Secretary of State Antony Blinken, he's speaking with family members of Americans detained overseas today. Including the wife of Britney Griner, the basketball player being held in a Russian jail. We'll have more on that, next.



BLACKWELL: Two Americans are being held by Russian or pro-Russian forces in Ukraine, and the Kremlin says they could face the death penalty. Well, here's how the White House is responding to that.


JOHN KIRBY, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: It's appalling that a public official in Russia would even suggest the death penalty for two American citizens that were in Ukraine.


CAMEROTA: Secretary of State Tony Blinken is set to speak with the families of Americans wrongfully detained abroad. These families recently penned an open letter to President Biden demanding urgent action. CNN's Kylie Atwood joins us now with the latest. So, Kylie, what exactly do these families want the president to do?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, they think that there's a lack of urgency on the cases of their family members who have been detained unjustly abroad by the Biden administration. They really want the Biden administration to be focused on their family members, and they don't sense that there is urgency surrounding this within the Biden administration.

So, what they're asking for is for some representatives from this group to meet with the president himself. Now, in addition to that, you also have other family members who are saying that they themselves want to go in and meet with the president. And I think the reason that we are seeing so many of these families want to meet with President Biden right now is because you'll remember that Trevor Reed who was released after being detained in Russia earlier this year, that release came after his family had met with President Biden earlier in the year. So, they saw that perhaps that meeting was something that prompted his release. And so, they are thinking, hey, we too want to meet with the president. We too should be afforded the opportunity to tell the president why he should be focused on our family member.

And of course, Secretary of State Tony Blinken and members of the Biden administration will say that they are keenly focused on all of these cases, and just because they aren't meeting with President Biden doesn't mean that there aren't folks who are working on these cases day and in day out.

But it will be interesting to see if this actually comes up when the Secretary of State has a conversation that is ongoing right now virtually with these families, because so many of them have expressed that desire to meet with the president himself. And of course, this also comes as there has been a number of concerning situations about these Americans unjustly detained abroad, including Brittney Griner who tried to call her wife over the weekend but because of logistical problems she wasn't able to make that phone call. She tried 11 times unsuccessfully due to a logistical error. So, we'll watch to learn more on that -- guys.

BLACKWELL: Kylie Atwood for us at the State Department, thank you.

Any moment now, the California man accused of trying to kill Justice Brett Kavanaugh is scheduled to appear in court in Maryland. 26-year- old Nicholas Roske has been formally indicted on one charge of attempted assassination. Today he'll have to enter a plea.

CAMEROTA: Police say they arrested Roske near Kavanaugh's home after he admitted that he planned to kill the justice. Court documents show that he was carrying a pistol and a knife and he was upset about that leaked draft opinion saying that it would overturn Roe v. Wade.

Well, major losses in Ukraine as Russian forces continue to gain ground and capture key positions. We have the latest for you from the region ahead.



CAMEROTA: Brooks Koepka is the latest professional golfer to join the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series.

BLACKWELL: And today, the commissioner of the PGA tour announced changes including increased prize money in response to the Saudi venture which he described as an attempt to buy the sport.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JAY MONAHAN, PGA TOUR COMMISSIONER: If this is an arms race and if the only weapons here are dollar bills, the PGA tour can't compete. The PGA tour an American institution, can't compete with the foreign monarchy that is spending billions of dollars in an attempt to buy the game of golf.


BLACKWELL: Now, consider this timing. It was during the commissioner's press conference that LIV Golf announced that Koepka would be joining their league. Like other big names who have joined LIV Golf, Koepka is expected to be banned from the PGA tour. He is expected to make his debut at LIV Golf's next event near Portland, Oregon.

BLACKWELL: Meanwhile, a deluge of new evidence is forcing the January 6th committee to push future hearings they say into July. Committee member Jamie Raskin tells CNN that they need time to catch their breath and go through the new evidence.


BLACKWELL: New information has come from several sources, including a tip line and a documentary film that features interviews with Donald Trump, his family members. We're talking Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, other members of the White House team. The next hearing will take place tomorrow as scheduled. But after that, there's going to be a break.

CAMEROTA: Yes, until July. I mean, you know, some might worry they lose momentum, but maybe they just recharge, you know.

BLACKWELL: Depending upon what this new evidence is, maybe this will give them a new boost.

All right, "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.