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GOP Blocks Burn Pit Bill Aimed At Helping Veterans; Justice Alito Mocks Foreign Critics Of Roe v. Wade Decision; Sotomayor, Coney Barrett Appear Together For Public Talk, Call For Civility; 9/11 Families Condemn Saudi-Backed LIV Golf Event At Trump Resort; Oil Companies See Major Profits As Drivers Feel Pain At The Pump; In Less Than 10 Hours, Someone Could Win $1.28 Billion Mega Millions Lottery. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired July 29, 2022 - 13:30   ET



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Earlier today, CNN spoke to Army veteran, Le Roy Torres, who has had problems caused by his exposure to burn pits during his service in the Iraq war.


LE ROY TORRES, U.S. ARMY VETERAN: I see it as strictly repulsive partisan politics that is hurting the men and women who put their lives on the line to defend our freedom. You know, I'm totally -- it's disgusting.


WHITFIELD: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says he plans to schedule another procedural vote for Monday to break the filibuster.

A doctor caught in the fallout from the Roe v. Wade decision is taking steps toward a possible lawsuit against the Indiana attorney general.

Dr. Caitlin Bernard performed an abortion on a 10-year-old Ohio rape victim. The Indiana A.G. is investigating her actions.

But the lawyer representing Dr. Bernard says the complaints against her client are from people who never interacted or communicated with the doctor.

Bernard's attorneys have taken steps toward a possible defamation lawsuit against the Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita for his public comments about the doctor. Rokita calls the defamation claim baseless.

The U.S. Supreme Court justice, who wrote the decision overturning Roe v. Wade, is mocking foreign leaders who criticized it. Justice Samuel Alito spoke at a conference on religious liberty at Notre Dame Law School in Rome.

Here is what he said about world leaders who disagreed with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAMUEL ALITO, U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: I had the honor this term of writing I think the only Supreme Court decision in the history of that institution that has been lambasted by a whole string of foreign leaders.

One of these was former Prime Minister Boris Johnson. But he paid the price.


ALITO: What really wounded me was when the duke of Sussex --


ALITO: -- addressed the United Nations and seemed to compare the decision, whose name may not be spoken, with the Russian attack on Ukraine.


WHITFIELD: Let's bring in CNN legal analyst and Supreme Court biographer, Joan Biskupic.

Joan, good to see you.

What do you make of Justice Alito's remarks and some sarcasm there in his tone?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN LEGAL ANALYST & SUPREME COURT BIOGRAPHER: Good afternoon, Fredricka. That is exactly it. This is classic Samuel Alito. Even when he is winning he can't help but take some shots at his critics.

He has this tone of aggrievement in so many instances, again, even though he is prevailing. He was able to hold on to five votes in the Dobbs case -- that's the name of the case he said he could not name -- to roll back a half century of abortion rights in America.

But then he also has prevailed in other ways on religious liberties where he -- the overall subject of the speech in Rome, sponsored by the University of Notre Dame, had to do with the increasing secularism in America.

But he has been winning with religious conservativism in so many different ways. Obviously, on abortion rights.

But also, in this session, as you know, Fredricka, where the justices have required more public funding for religious schools and more religion in public places.

So even though he, at times, has had the sense of persecution, he is definitely driving this court in a religiously conservative way.

WHITFIELD: And this has been a pretty volatile year for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Two justices, on opposing sides, are now calling for civility. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Amy Coney Barrett appearing together for the first time for a public talk and Barrett said justices can disagree, quote, "without being nasty."

So what does this reveal about these justices?

BISKUPIC: Well, first of all, it is interesting that it's paired with Justice Alito's comments, because Justice Alito can't help but sort of strike a nasty tone at times.

Justice Barrett really seems to go to lengths not to be overly critical, not to take any shots.

But it was Justice Sotomayor, who from the bench, made the comment on questioning whether the justices themselves will survive this stench of the political tone that comes with decisions and actions such as what we have in abortion.

But she and Justice Barrett made a point in their joint appearance, that despite what they say from the bench or despite what they say in opinions, that they try to get along.

And a point that they do make is that they are the only justices -- they are the only ones who know what they're going through.

So despite their differences -- and I have to say on the law Justices Sotomayor and Barrett disagree lots of times on the law -- but that they try to look for the positive in each other as human beings.


And that's what they were demonstrating in that joint appearance -- Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: All right. Fascinating.

Joan Biskupic, thanks so much.

BISKUPIC: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: The principal of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, has been allowed to return to work after a brief suspension.

Mandy Gutierrez was criticized for her handling of school security prior to the shooting that left 19 children and two teachers dead. She was placed on administrative leave during a school board meeting on Monday.

In an exclusive interview with CNN, Gutierrez said she followed the training she was provided to the best of her ability.

Straight ahead, 9/11 families lash out at a Saudi-backed golf event happening at Donald Trump's golf course in New Jersey. A live report coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. Big name golfers are teeing off this hour at a golf tournament that has sparked outrage among 9/11 victims and families.

The family members are angry over the Saudi-backed event because of Saudi Arabia's role in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

And to add to the controversy, the tournament is at former President Donald Trump's golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey.

The members of the "9/11 Justice" say Trump betrayed them by not releasing classified documents about 9/11.


TIM FOLEY, 9/11 SURVIVOR: We now have the documents. Thanks to President Biden. Simply, you lied to our face. You've continued your (EXPLETIVE DELETED) comments as recently as yesterday in your ESPN interview.

It's simple. The Saudis did it. They plotted it. They funded it. Now they're trying to distract every one of those sins with a golf tournament 50 miles away from Ground Zero.

It's deplorable. You, along with professional golfers, have also decided to accept blood money from this rogue Saudi government.


WHITFIELD: All right. The emotions are deep there.

CNN's correspondent, Polo Sandoval, joining us live from Bedminster, New Jersey.

Polo, what more are you hearing from the 9/11 family members?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are outraged, Fred, especially after hearing from the former president in that interview mentioned in which the former commander-in-chief basically suggests nobody has gotten to the bottom of the 9/11 attacks.

What you're hearing from those families that came together, united their voices yet again here in the township of Bedminster, New Jersey, just a few miles from where that tournament goes on at this hour.

What you heard is basically this collective call for Donald Trump to acknowledge what they say was the Saudi role in the attacks. And also the long running list of human rights violations allegedly committed by the Saudis.

Six years later, they feel that they have not been helped by the former commander-in-chief. Instead, holding this large golf tournament here at his golf club.

I want you to hear directly from Sandra Felt whose husband was aboard United flight 93. You'll recall that was the flight flown into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, on September 11th, when those passengers basically revolted and tried to regain control of the aircraft.

When you hear Sandra, you can hear the frustration in her voice today as she hoped that it could be heard all the way down the street, all the way to where that tournament is taking place right now.


SANDRA FELT, WIDOW OF FLIGHT 93 PASSENGER: There can't be no happy ending. What we want is accountability. I want my grandson to learn the truth about how his grandfather died and the people that supported it. That's what I want. That's why I'm here.


SANDOVAL: Basically, what Sandra Felt is doing is adding her voice to the growing chorus of 9/11 survivors and the families of the victims that simply want the Saudi government to acknowledge this alleged role that they had in the 9/11 attacks.

As for the government itself, they continue to deny any role not only in the 9/11 attacks but also the murder of the "Washington Post" journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.

Back to you -- Fred?

WHITFIELD: All right, Polo Sandoval, thank you so much.

As Americans contend with sky high gas prices, oil companies are cashing in on your pain at the pump, posting massive profits.

This latest quarter, Exxon made more money per second than many Americans made per paycheck. That's going to make a lot of people mad.

CNN's Matt Egan joining me right now.

So, Matt, break down these staggering numbers.

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Yes, staggering numbers for sure, Fredricka. Big oil is minting money right now. Keep in mind, Exxon did pretty well a year ago. They made almost $5 billion. Not bad. Now almost $18 billion.

They nearly quadrupled their profit. That is, in large part, because of higher prices.

Now they are investing in new supply but production is only up 4 percent. That is not really going to change much in terms of not having enough oil.

Let me break it down a step further. That amounts to $2,200 every second in the quarter. WHITFIELD: A lot of money.

EGAN: A lot of money. Every two minutes. Takes two minutes to pump 20 gallons of gas. It costs you $85. Exxon mobile over that span over a quarter million dollars.


Now obviously, this is going to be frustrating to people dealing with very high gas prices right now.

We should remember though that the oil industry did get crushed during COVID. The world was shut down. Oil prices actually went negative very briefly.

WHITFIELD: People weren't driving as much.

EGAN: People weren't driving as much. Companies went bankrupt. Exxon alone lost $22 billion during that span.

The company says they continued to invest in new supply during that span even though they lost money. Clearly, this is a boom-to-bust industry. Ups and downs. Right now, they are riding very high.

WHITFIELD: I feel like, even with that loss, very few people will feel sorry for Exxon, especially now seeing the contrast of how much more money they've been making.

So gas prices have gone down for over a month now. Any reason to think this streak will continue?

EGAN: Well, the good news, OK, gas prices, 45 days in a row, they are down. They hit a record high $5.02 mid-June. Since then, they're down -- this is not cheap -- $4.26.

It is not great but definitely a step in the right direction. There's actually 16 states that now average less than $4 a gallon.

I think the bad news is that oil prices have started to creep higher. They actually traded above $100 a barrel earlier today, trading around $98.75.

We need to keep an eye on this. Because if they go above $100, I think we'll see a return of the dreaded rising prices at the gas pump.

WHITFIELD: Yes. Sadly, we've gotten used to the $90, $80-something every time we fill up but we'd like to see it go down.

EGAN: We would.

CABRERA: All right, thank you so much, Matt Egan.

EGAN: Thanks, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right, so here's a question. Could you use say an extra billion dollars in change? The Mega Millions jackpot is more than $1.2 billion and counting ahead of tonight's lottery. A live report on lotto fever straight ahead.

But first, W. Kamau Bell is in California to understand what's behind catastrophic wildfires and how we can prepare for them. A new episode of "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA" airs Sunday night at 10:00 right here on CNN.



WHITFIELD: The countdown is on. In less than 10 hours, someone could become a billionaire. The Mega Millions jackpot grew again today. It's now worth more than $1.2 billion.

Before you spend that paycheck for tickets, here's a reality check. You have a better chance at being struck by lightning, killed by a shark or being hit by space junk than winning. Boy, that is depressing.

CNN's Omar Jimenez is in Chicago with some uplift.

People are feeling lucky. Maybe they're not going to put their paycheck down. But on average, how much are people spending for those hopefully lucky tickets?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, my gosh. People are spending so much money, Fred. And I will say, just real quick, even though the chances are low, it's for a much happier outcome than some of what you were saying before coming to me.

But we've been at a few gas stations across the Chicagoland area and people have been incredibly excited, but also having visions of what a life as a lotto winner, as a billion-dollar lotto winner would look like.

Take a listen to some people we talked to.


TONYA NIXON, CHICAGO RESIDENT: I'm not a usual player, but since it was so big, I thought, you know, I guess the saying is, if you don't play, you can't win.

JIMENEZ: For a billion dollars, when it crossed that threshold, what was the first thing that went to your mind?

LULA BARNES, CHICAGO RESIDENT: A house. A car. No more working.

JIMENEZ: What do you do now?




JIMENEZ: I think that's what is on a lot of people's minds.

Now as big as this lottery number, Mega Millions has gotten, it is still only the second-biggest of all time. The first goes to a $1.5 billion number that went to a still-anonymous person out of South Carolina back in 2018.

Whoever that person is --

(CROSSTALK) ] WHITFIELD: Oh, gosh. I don't blame that person. I think I would follow suit.

You've been talking to a whole lot of people, experts, in fact, and what are they saying in terms of helpful tips when trying to pick the numbers?

JIMENEZ: That's right. So there are a lot of common numbers that are picked.

But also when we just lay out everything in regard to this, we know the lottery amount is now up to $1.28 billion. It is the third time it's gotten past the $1 billion mark in the Mega Millions and it's the second largest in history.

While you should keep playing -- you can only win if you actually play -- the chances are one in 303 million.

Also, some of those common numbers, seven, 26, 53, 58, 15. And the most common Mega Ball drawn is 14 in the past two years. So take that, what you will. And good luck if you're going to play.

WHITFIELD: OK. And good luck to you. I know you've got tickets. How many? How many did you buy?

JIMENEZ: Oh, I've got five. I got five.

WHITFIELD: OK. That's a good number. Nice and modest. I think I'll follow your suit, too.

Omar Jimenez, thank you so much.

All right, everyone agrees, it was a shocking moment at the Oscars. Will Smith slapped Chris Rock during the ceremony. And in a new video, Smith says he is deeply remorseful and offers this apology to Rock.


WILL SMITH, ACTOR: Chris, I apologize to you. My behavior was unacceptable. And I'm here whenever you're ready to talk.


There's no part of me that thinks that was the right way to behave in that moment. There's no part of me that thinks that's the optimal way to handle a feeling of disrespect or insults. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right, who could forget that moment? And now the words of Will Smith resonating? Well, he earned a ban from the Oscars for 10 years as a result of that moment.

All right, this morning, Beyonce released her long-awaited seventh album "Renaissance". Take a listen.




WHITFIELD: OK, just in time for the weekend. So it's been six years since Beyonce released her last full-length album, "Lemonade." And Queen B says this is just act one of three albums recorded over the pandemic. And we all can't wait.

All right, thank you so much for joining us. Have a great weekend.

The news continues next with Alisyn and Victor after this.