Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

At Least 25 People Have Been Killed Across Five Counties In Kentucky Due To Flooding; Red Cross Providing Aid To Those Affected By Recent Flooding In Kentucky; Winning Mega Millions Lottery Ticket Sold In Illinois; The U.S. Records Over 5,100 Cases Of Monkeypox Across 47 States, D.C., And Puerto Rico; China Warns Against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Visiting Taiwan; Russia Accused Of Carrying Out Mass Public Execution For Attack On Ukrainian Prison; President Biden Tests Positive Again For COVID-19 After Previously Testing Negative; Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito Criticizes Foreign Heads Of Government For Their Criticism Of U.S. Supreme Court Overturning Roe Versus Wade; Philadelphia Co-Names Street After Olympic Medalist And Pennsylvania Native Herbert P. Douglas. Aired 2-3p ET.

Aired July 30, 2022 - 14:00   ET




FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

Right now, rescue operations continue to be underway in eastern Kentucky, floodwaters engulfing entire communities following torrential rainfall. At least 25 people have been killed across five counties, including four children.

But officials fear that the number will rise as many people remain missing at this hour. Governor Andy Beshear saying this earlier today.


GOV. ANDY BESHEAR, (D) KENTUCKY: This is still an emergency situation. We are in search and rescue mode. Again, that count is going to continue to go up. And we don't lose this many people in flooding. This is a real tough one.


WHITFIELD: Search and rescue teams are wading through the waters, looking for survivors around the clock. The National Guards from Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia airlifting hundreds to safety, so far more than 660 air rescues. Roads and bridges have been swept away, cutting off access and complicating the rescue efforts.

CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro is in Kentucky for us. So Evan, at that command center, what kind of activity are you seeing, what kind of optimism about these ongoing search and rescue missions?

EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fred, here in Jackson, Kentucky, it's a little early for optimism. It's really just kind of that stoic, keep going out there, keep trying to find people, keep trying to rescue people.

It's a beautiful Saturday here, and this looks like a regular shopping center. The power is on. You can go and buy things if you want to. You look a little closer, though, you can see that we're still in this active situation.

Behind you can see there's a group giving away free food, that's to anybody who wants to come and get some because maybe they don't have any and they've lost everything.

And just behind that, you see the collection of emergency vehicles. That is the command post. That's a group of people, a group of emergency operations from all over the area here in Kentucky and all over, actually, various states who have come in to try to get these rescue operations underway.

What they're doing today is they're going out and they're trying to find people who, maybe neighbors or loved ones have called in and said, I can't find this person, I haven't heard from this person.

They're going out and trying to answer those calls, find those people in person. And also when they hear from people who are trapped and say I need food, I need some water, they go out there and they give it to them, too.

The challenge, of course, is that there are a lot of things are still not working here. Water has been spotty in some areas around here, power is spotty in some areas around here, cellphone service is very difficult around here.

It really is, despite what it looks like, really in the middle of devastation, I want to show you what that looks like. We're seeing these waters start to recede, and it helps you understand just what has been left in the wake of these flash floods.

CNN drone operator John Rubenstahl shot some footage for us, and you're seeing it now on screen. This is State Road 15, which is right along where I'm standing, it's just a few miles, really, from where I am.

And you can see just what these floodwaters did to this bus depot, the school bus depot for the county here, as it ripped through and ripped these buses and just moved them all around, popped a big hole in this area, just amazing devastation. And that's what people are out there now working through and doing.

The big change today is because those waters have receded, they're able to do what they call ground searches, which is really getting on the ground, now there's no more water, crawling around, looking into people's houses, trying to find people who need to be rescued, and just surveying that just intense, immense damage. Fred?

WHITFIELD: Evan McMorris-Santoro, thank you so much.

So with every passing hour, the need grows more for the families dealing with the disaster.


Joining me right now is Misty Thomas. She is the executive director for the American Red Cross in Kentucky. Misty, so glad you could be with us. So tell me, what are you seeing? I saw you earlier, you were driving around. And the devastation is everywhere. What have you been witnessing?

MISTY THOMAS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AMERICAN RED CROSS IN KENTUCKY: It is everywhere. And connectivity issues have been problem, so that makes it even harder in these situations when you have these communication barriers.

I'm at the Wolfe County High School right now, which is a Red Cross shelter, and speaking with the survivors that have come in to seek the shelter that we are offering.

And there are just heartbreaking stories that we're hearing, people having to suddenly leave, a family whose homes have had floods before but never inside their home. And they talk about how rapid the waters came this time and how quickly they went from thinking they would be fine to realizing that their lives were in danger.

So we have seen about 315 people overnight seeking safe shelter. So that's what Red Cross is doing on the ground right now, is we're making sure that the survivors have a safe shelter.

There's about 10 right now that we are operating and helping with across this area and making sure that they have food and their immediate medical needs, mental health and spiritual needs are being met through our volunteers. We have about 145 volunteers right now. We continue at capacity.

WHITFIELD: So do you have friends or family in any of these five counties that were hard hit by this flash flooding and the flooding? And if so, how is everyone doing?

THOMAS: I do, and they're doing well. Some lost cars, no loss of life, so that's obviously first and foremost. But those things that can be replaced, in due time, those things will come. But it's just a very scary situation because I think they were caught off-guard too.

They know that it can flood here. But again, this is at an epic level for them. So it's just -- I think the overwhelming feeling right now, when you move past sorrow, is how quickly it happened and how surprising it was that it happened so fast.

WHITFIELD: Flooding, it's not uncommon for eastern Kentucky, but this level of destruction is unprecedented. It's just the torrential rainfall and the flash flooding at unbelievable speed and the devastation covering such a vast area.

We heard that from the governor earlier, just how widespread it is. So then how do you assess the need, how do you try to coordinate trying to get to all that need help? THOMAS: So we've been working disaster for 141 years, so we bring a

lot of experience to the table. Every disaster is different, and we know there are a lot of complexities that we're going to be working around.

The Red Cross does a great job training their employees and volunteers to be able to have foresight of those complexities and work around that.

We just have a really intense communication game on the ground, and we are getting that information to people that if they need to come into shelters, we are here, and we're ready to serve them and their needs.

As long as they need us, we'll be here. So we have some amazing volunteers, and we build that connective tissue with other organizations that becomes that communication line for us when communication is down and you're without cell service.

So we're able to swerve with the curveballs pretty smoothly now, and I think we are now beginning to get that information out. The next step is damage assessment, and we have some volunteers coming in to do that, and being able to bring case workers in.

And our volunteers will offer to our survivors so we can help them plan their next steps, moving from the shelter, what it's going to look like moving forward.

WHITFIELD: All the best, as you try to assist so many who are in great need right now. Misty Thomas, thank you.

THOMAS: Thanks.

WHITFIELD: More storms, by the way, are expected to hit eastern Kentucky tomorrow. CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar is tracking the latest forecast. So Allison, what are you expecting in the days ahead?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Unfortunately, Fred, the last thing this area needs is more rain, but it's on the way. We're starting to see that next section of rain begin to make its way out to the east, already impacting areas of southern Missouri, pushing in through Arkansas.

You see that big cluster there, kind of sliding into Little Rock, Memphis, and headed towards Nashville. That whole system is going to continue to make its way to the east. Even other cities, Huntsville, Birmingham, Atlanta, starting to see pop-up showers and thunderstorms.

So that timeline of when they are going to remain rain-free in eastern Kentucky, that is shrinking by the hour.

We do still have flood warnings in effect across eastern Kentucky. That's not necessarily for the rain. It's for the rivers, the creeks, and the streams because a lot of them have just now crested. We're just finally starting to see those numbers begin to come down.

[14:10:01] That's good news. It means that we can begin that cleanup process right there along some of those areas. This particular is the Kentucky River here, crested at 30.99, it's at 30.78. So we are starting to see that downward trend.

We like to see that, but it takes time. And it's likely going to be several more hours before we really get that water back down to a baseline where people can get into their homes, they can get back on these roadways where that water is still sitting.

More rain on the way. We've talked about the flood threat. This is the greater risk for flooding today. But when we take a look tomorrow, that whole system begins to shift.

So you have a lot of these areas of rain showers that really begin for Kentucky, the heaviest stuff starting tomorrow morning, continuing into the afternoon and into the evening hours.

But again, even some areas of Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri also at risk for some very heavy rainfall in the next 24 hours. Fred, it looks like most of these areas picking up an additional one to three inches.

And I know that may not sound like much, but you have to understand the ground is saturated. It will not take much to continue flooding or even trigger new flooding in some of these areas.

WHITFIELD: Thank you so much, Allison Chinchar.

And then there's this. What a contrast. There's brand-new billionaire out there, thanks to last night's Mega Millions drawing. Just one single winning ticket was sold at a Speedway Gas station in Des Plaines, Illinois.

The prize, $1.34 billion. CNN's Omar Jimenez joins us now from that speedway. And it's just outside of Chicago. And so what's been happening? Any new buzz of activity, now many hours after it's been announced that the winning ticket was from where you are?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think people have been coming here to see if lightning would strike twice. Obviously, the Mega Millions jackpot has gone way down since this record one was drawn. But people have been in there trying their luck.

This $1.34 billion jackpot that hit was the second biggest in Mega Millions history, and the third biggest all time for all U.S. lotteries. And it was sold right here at the speedway behind me outside of Chicago, near O'Hare Airport in Des Plaines, Illinois.

And for their part in this, Illinois lottery officials say they get half a million dollars, so they're not going home emptyhanded. And it's the same deal with people all across the country as well who didn't get the jackpot but still took home $1 million -- 26 people.

They got five numbers right, they just didn't get that mega ball. And states from California to Louisiana, even here in Illinois, New York. And some of those people got two times multipliers, so they're taking home $2 million.

But there's only one jackpot winner. We don't know if they even know, and we'll never know if this person chooses to identify themselves.

WHITFIELD: If they were me, I'm not telling. We may never know who that winner is.

JIMENEZ: Yes, I'm keeping that to myself.


WHITFIELD: Yes, I'll keep that to myself. I may drop a few gifts here and there, of course, be a little year-round secret Santa. But no, I wouldn't advertise. Omar Jimenez, thank you so much.

All right, still ahead, there are now more than 5,000 cases of monkeypox in the U.S. Are cities across the country prepared to fight the outbreak? We'll discuss with the director of health for the city of St. Louis.



WHITFIELD: San Francisco and New York state sounding the alarm on the monkeypox outbreak. This comes as federal officials weigh a nationwide public health emergency declaration. The U.S. has now recorded over 5,100 cases across 47 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

I want to bring in a Dr. Mati Hlatshwayo Davis for more perspective on this outbreak. She is the director of health for the city of St. Louis. Dr. Davis, so good to see you. So what does a local declaration mean for these areas? What's the impact?

DR. MATI HLATSHWAYO DAVIS, DIRECTOR OF HEALTH, CITY OF ST. LOUIS: So what that means is that we need to be on high alert. We now know the U.S. has surpassed all countries globally with case counts.

Here in Missouri, we only have eight confirmed cases, but in the city of St. Louis I announced our first confirmed case two weeks ago. We're up to five confirmed and probable. Prevention is key. So you want to start mobilizing resources right away, education, vaccines where available, to get those out to the public.

WHITFIELD: And so in your patients there in Missouri, how advanced are the stages of this monkeypox outbreak for them?

DAVIS: We've been very fortunate here that in our first confirmed case, this was someone that was actually pretty much asymptomatic and had been a close contact from another cluster of cases outside of the state. So that one did not have severe symptoms associated. And so far that has been true of our probable cases.

And Fredricka, that actually mirrors most of what you see with monkeypox. I'm an infectious diseases doctor by background, and so the one thing about monkeypox is that, while it's highly transmissible being through direct contact, for most cases, they do not progress to those severe symptoms.

WHITFIELD: So how has your state been able to handle testing or vaccines, treatment?

DAVIS: Our state's DHSS, the local state public health entity, has been very supportive. Testing has gone very well. We're able to get testing to the CDC for those confirmed cases right away.

The challenge for us here in Missouri at the local level, and here I speak on behalf of the city of St. Louis, is the only vaccines that have been made available have been for post exposure and prophylaxis. So only people who are close contacts of someone that has been a confirmed case.


We know how this went with COVID, we know how this progresses with other public health emergencies. We need to get vaccines out to the general public sooner rather than later. So we do not have -- these vaccines are at in limited supply at the state level. We need more and we need to get to that prevention stage of getting vaccines out as soon as possible.

WHITFIELD: There are community leaders who see the federal response as a familiar pattern of neglect of the LGBTQ community. Are public health entities doing enough right now to contain the spread of this virus?

DAVIS: We have been here before, Fredricka. We saw what happened with HIV and AIDS in the mid-80s. We've seen the issues that happened with COVID in minoritized communities. There's no excuse for us to go there again.

Stigmatizing this to the LGBTQIA+ community is absolutely unacceptable. Here in St. Louis, I'm meeting with LGBTQIA+ community leaders to talk about how we can support them and to reassure them that we have a sustained anti-stigma campaign through my health department.

Following that, we're holding a town hall to really talk about that, right. We see a lot of times in certain beginning phases of illnesses that they are clustered around a certain community, but we can already tell from what's happening globally that community wide transmission can affect anyone. So we cannot afford to stigmatize, we cannot afford to shame. We cannot do this again.

WHITFIELD: COVID, that's how we got introduced to you and your expertise on infectious diseases. And here we are, still dealing with COVID. And many people have tried to adapt.

But now we also have all of these subvariants, the latest being the BA.5 which seems to be a predominant strain right now. What concerns do you have about the public and how people have been able to adapt, or if there's a feeling of complacency, particularly with this new variant? DAVIS: You always ask all the right questions. The most difficult

stage that we're in right now is that we're two-and-a-half years out. That is a long time to expect the public to be on high alert.

And so the difficulty is while we're in the midst of a surge, because let's be very clear, we are in a surge. This is the ramifications of not reaching that elusive herd immunity, is that new strains will come. And currently that BA.5 variant is the predominant strain not only here in St. Louis but across the country.

And so we have to be thoughtful. We have to be coming back to how do we reengage in new ways. In St. Louis, my approach is to now partner with community leaders in the most impacted spaces and use local zip code level data and equity-based data to see who we need to get to, the elderly, and hear the minoritized communities, community engaged events, and to continue to have multiple touch points for education for folks.

We do town halls, we're on social media. Listen, I'm an older lady, but we've got to get out on social media here. We've got to be in the news and continue to educate folks, whilst understanding that fatigue is real. No one can be on high alert for two-and-a-half years, and there's behavioral health implications that begin to pile on.

WHITFIELD: Absolutely right. Dr. Davis, thank you so much. I would never refer to you as the older lady, I'm not seeing it, but OK. You look good as the older lady.


DAVIS: I know what you mean, Fredricka, let me not get myself in trouble. Thanks so much for having me.


WHITFIELD: That's right. I like to say we're a little bit more seasoned now, you know?

DAVIS: Seasoned, Fredricka, seasoned.

WHITFIELD: "Seasoned," that's my favorite word.


WHITFIELD: All right, Dr. Davis, good to see you, thank you so much.

Coming up, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is on a trip to visit U.S. allies in Asia right now. Why Chinese officials are warning that her trip could be playing with fire.



WHITFIELD: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on a trip to Asia right now, visiting U.S. allies including Japan and South Korea. But the big question is whether she will visit Taiwan. CNN's Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon. So what are the White House and the State Department saying about the possibility of that stop in Taiwan?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Sure. Well, Fredricka, look, since the beginning, the White House has not been excited about Speaker Pelosi visiting Taiwan. You'll remember President Biden publicly saying that the military had advised against it.

Whether the military advised against it or not, there are rising tensions with China, and the U.S. clearly feeling it is an awkward time for the speaker, someone as senior as her, to go to Taiwan.

That said, the Pentagon has developed a security plan, we know, everything that can be done to keep her and her traveling party safe if while they're out there they proceed with making a stop in Taiwan.

For their part, the Chinese, the China government, is raising its rhetoric, and it's becoming pretty hot. And that is something the U.S. is very much trying to calm down. Listen to White House National Security Spokesman John Kirby talk about that effort.


JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: If she decides to go to Taiwan, we know and we have a responsibility and we take that responsibility seriously that she can so safely.


So we've heard these comments. Not helpful, not constructive. We have an obligation to make sure if she goes to Taiwan, or any other government official, for that matter, Jim, that they can do so safely. We're going to take that responsibility seriously.


STARR: So John Kirby basically saying everybody just cool down.

But look, at the core of all of this, the U.S. does not believe that China is going to engage in military action against the speaker or any U.S. assets. What they are more concerned about right now with the rising tensions if China decides to hold exercises, to fly more jets, to sail more ships.

It puts a lot of assets out in a very tight space out there. Always concern about miscalculation, always concern about inadvertent accidents. That's why they would like everybody to just cool it. Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: Barbara Starr, thanks so much at the Pentagon.

Turning now to the latest in Ukraine, officials there are accusing Russia of carrying out a mass public execution when it attacked a prison, killing dozens of Ukrainian POWs in the Donetsk region. U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken spoke with the Ukrainian foreign minister about the attack and offered his condolences. Let's bring in now Colonel Cedric Leighton. He is a CNN military

analyst and a retired U.S. Air Force colonel. Colonel, good to see you.

So this just gets more horrible by the minute, more grim. Do you see this bombing of this facility as part of the way Russia is conducting its offensive in Donetsk?

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Unfortunately, Fredricka, I do. The way they're doing things, it's pretty clear from their doctrine and the way they've conducted themselves up to this point in the Ukraine war that they are doing things that we would consider to be very much contrary to the laws of war and any kind of ethical way of fighting this conflict.

So what is highly likely is that the Russians targeted this prison at Olenivka as part of a plan to cover up atrocities that are reportedly going on in that prison complex. So if you bomb it, they can't discover it, I guess is the motto that they're using.

And that's a very bad way for the Russians to do this. But it's highly likely that they are trying to cover their tracks in some very grim war crimes. And one way to do that is to compound the problem with other war crimes, unfortunately.

WHITFIELD: Those are more recent examples of why Russia really cannot be trusted. So then how much credence should be put into these agreements that Russia says it has signed on to, especially as it pertains to allowing Ukrainian grain exports to leave the ports on the Black Sea, and what, hours after that initial agreement, already there was activity in Odessa? So, what is anyone to make of agreements and then how much trust should there be in them?

LEIGHTON: Yes, it's a real difficult question, Fredricka, because when you look at a normal country you have agreements with, you can trust them to do the normal things, such as recognize your passports or recognize some of the laws that you have in your country, and you will recognize the laws that they have in theirs.

But with these kinds of agreements, it becomes -- not only is it much worse than Ronald Reagan's trust but verify dictum. In this case you have, don't trust, then you still have to verify, then you have to hope that they're going to actually fulfill the tenets of the agreement and allow Ukraine to actually export grain, not only for the sake of Ukraine but for the sake of the rest of the world.

And that's going to be a very tall order, unfortunately, because, as you said, the Russians just can't be trusted at this point.

WHITFIELD: Yes. How are you viewing this invasion? And are you seeing that this is simply dragging on, and it's just elongated the suffering of Ukraine? Or do you see that there really are turning points, and perhaps we, the laymen, are not able to identify whether there are any real gains that Ukraine is able to make or claim while Russia continues to invade and have these flimsy agreements, et cetera? LEIGHTON: Yes, it's a very difficult thing, because we're literally

in the fog of war, Fredricka. And so as a result of that, a lot of the initial reports that we see about things may either be false or overly optimistic or overly pessimistic.


And it's one of those situations where I do see some turning points. I think one that we can safely hang our hat on was back in the relatively early stages of the war, around the April timeframe, I guess the midpoint of the war at present, when the Ukrainians were able to turn back the Russian tide around Kyiv and also around Kharkiv. So that was a big plus point for the Ukrainians.

On the other hand, the Russians moved forward into the Donbas region and took over the northern oblast, or province at Luhansk, and took that over, not quickly. They had some real difficulties doing it, but nonetheless they accomplished a portion of one of their war aims.

Then back on the Ukrainian said of things, one of the good things that the Ukrainians have experienced from their point of view is that their movement in the south has apparently achieved a few incremental gains.

Unfortunately, we're not seeing spectacular gains like perhaps we saw at the beginning of Desert Storm, where the U.S. moved in very, very quickly and was able to take over large portions of Iraqi territory.

That's not what's happening here. This is a much more akin to World War I type of situation where there's a likelihood of stalemate. But there is much more movement in certain areas than there was during World War I.

So it's a much more fluid situation. The Ukrainians have a lot of possibilities. But they're limited by the kind of things that they can do in terms of the weapons systems that they have and their ability to be able to use them and target against all the Russian entities that they need to hit in order to win.

WHITFIELD: Colonel Cedric Leighton, always great having you, thank you so much.

LEIGHTON: Thank you, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Still to come, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito speaking publicly for the first time since writing that opinion reversing Roe v. Wade. What he said, right after the break.



WHITFIELD: Just another example of how unpredictable this whole COVID journey is for everybody. This just into CNN, we have just learned that President Biden has tested positive for COVID again. CNN's Kevin Liptak joining us now live from the White House. So what's going on? KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, Fredricka, the president

did test positive this morning on an antigen test. And the White House has always maintained this could be a possibility.

He was taking that antiviral drug Paxlovid. There have been some examples of patients rebounding from that case, that is testing negative and then testing positive again. And President Biden does seem to be among that faction of patients for whom that is true.

And now the White House said that he did test negative over the last several days, and today was his first positive test after that period where he had been testing negative.

He doesn't have any symptoms. That's according to the White House physician, Dr. Kevin O'Connor. He says he has had no reemergence of symptoms. He continues to feel quite well.

But still they will maintain these isolation procedures that the president had been undergoing for that five days when he was having symptoms from COVID last weekend.

Now, the president had emerged quite triumphantly on Wednesday when he first tested negative after his stint with COVID. He came to the Rose Garden. He was very encouraged by it.

He was trying to use himself as an example of how people can survive this disease, thrive after testing negative. But now we know that the president has tested positive again.

He had been scheduled today to travel to his home in Delaware. That is not something that he appears to be doing. He will continue to isolate here at the White House.

One thing that the physician does say in his letter is that he's very conscious of not spreading this disease to the people who do have to work here in the White House.

And we know that his virus is that highly transmissible variant that is spreading around the country now, and so the president will continue to isolate. Of course, not news that he had necessarily been hoping for. He had been hoping to sort of get back out into the country.

The White House had just said a few hours ago that he would go to Michigan later next week. So all of that now up in the air as he does have another positive test here at the White House.

WHITFIELD: Right. And so Kevin, what about the whole tracing effort at the White House? Because the president was, during his, some of his announcements over the past couple of days, he was in the presence of people. And so what are the concerns now?

LIPTAK: Yes, and the White House had said that they tried to maintain distance between the president and others at those events. But now there will be this effort, of course, to contact trace. Last time the president tested positive, the White House said that

there had been 17 close contacts. So that does give you a sense of the amount of people the president is around. We'll have to get that number this time.

They had been more careful because of the possibility that this resurgence could occur. The president had been wearing a mask when he was in close contact with other people.

But there was some events here at the White House when he was further distanced that he could take his mask off to speak. And so the White House will certainly be looking for those people, testing them, seeing how many close contacts there are now that the president has tested positive again.

WHITFIELD: All right, Kevin Liptak, thank you so much for that, from the White House.


WHITFIELD: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito is speaking publicly for the first time since writing that opinion that reversed Roe versus Wade. Speaking in Rome, Justice Alito mocked foreign critics of the ruling who have blasted the U.S. for overturning abortion protections.



JUSTICE SAMUEL ALITO, SUPREME COURT: 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.



WHITFIELD: CNN Supreme Court reporter Ariane de Vogue joining us right now. So Ariane, Justice Alito was pretty sarcastic, wasn't he? And this is rather unusual, but then perhaps this is kind of customary to classic Alito, I've heard?

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Well, he was in Rome, Fred, to give this major religious liberty speech, and somehow he got diverted, and for the first time talking about that landmark opinion, and he chose on foreign soil to go after the foreign leaders who had actually criticized it.

So you heard him, he went after France's Emmanuel Macron and Justin Trudeau of Canada. And the comments about Boris Johnson are so interest because he seems to mock him and almost make fun of him.

And also, we didn't see it in that clip, he also went after Prince Harry. So very unusual for a justice on foreign soil, I'm sure it's not unprecedented, to go after the foreign leaders. But what makes it so really unusual, I guess, is the fact that this is such a landmark decision, right. It's this decision that has changed the --

WHITFIELD: Right, it's not a laughing matter.

DE VOGUE: -- landscape of women's reproductive health. Yes.

And it's also so raw here, Fred. So there he's giving that talk on religious liberty, he brings this up, seems to mock the foreign leaders. I will say the talk on religious liberty, which was the bulk of it, he is the justice on the court the most likely to be protective of religious conservatives.

But another odd thing about that is he was talking almost as if he's losing on that issue, or the courts here in the U.S. are losing on religious liberty, and nothing could be further from the truth.

This conservative court, as you know from last term, it is moving, the conservatives are moving more and more to protect religious conservatives. So there was Alito appearing for the first time, giving these comments, but it was unusual.

WHITFIELD: And then some recent polls showing a majority of Americans actually disapprove of the job the court is doing. Are the justices concerned at all like never before?

DE VOGUE: Well, the justices are worried. And it doesn't help, last term, this debate of whether or not it's their judicial philosophy or whether it's politics that's dividing them.

And if you look at the last term, look at the abortion case, the Second Amendment case, environment, religious liberty, there you really had the justices split along those ideological lines. And it doesn't help in recent years that we've had those really political confirmation hearings.

So the justices, they see those polls, and they are worried about it. Justice Kagan last week, she was really eloquent. She gave a speech, and she kept trying to say, look, I'm not talking about any opinions.

I'm not talking about any series of opinions. But she said, look, the court, courts in general have to follow precedent, they have to move slowly, they have to keep a consistent method -- their method has to be consistent.

All those points that liberals made this term in dissent, they are worried, the conservatives too, is that if the public begins to think about this court as political, at the end of the day it may not listen to these opinions. That's the worry, and both sides of the Supreme Court, Fred, have been expressing it lately.

WHITFIELD: Wow, that's striking. All right, Ariane de Vogue, good to see you, thanks so much.

We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


WHITFIELD: Another milestone and high point for 1948 Olympic long jumper Herbert P. Douglas. Just a few months after celebrating his 100th birthday, and I was there for that unbelievable celebration, the Pennsylvania native and world's oldest living Olympic medalist now has a street co-named after him.




WHITFIELD: And so next time you're in Philly check out the intersection of Ford and Cranston roads, and see that it is co-named Herbert Douglas Way. Douglas won a bronze medal at the 1948 games London Games for his astounding long jump of 24 feet, nine inches. And at yesterday's dedication, Douglas shared his words of wisdom on life and being a centenarian.


HERBERT P. DOUGLAS JR., U.S. OLYMPIC BRONZE MEDALIST: What do you do through life? You analyze, organize, initiate, and follow through. You follow those four principles, you may reach 100, too.


WHITFIELD: You may reach 100, too. Always philosophical and always very funny. Douglas is a Pittsburgh native, a known civil rights pioneer, and is among the first African Americans to help lead a major U.S. corporation.

He served on the board of directors at the Jessie Owens Foundation and still with the University of Pittsburgh, and he was inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 1992.

He and my dad Mal Whitfield were Olympic buddies and lifelong brothers. Mr. Douglas has always been like an uncle to me. And what a great honor it was to be part of his incredible birthday celebration just months ago.


Next time I'm in Philly, I can't wait to be along with him to check out his road, because he is an unstoppable trailblazer. We love you.

This week, on an all-new episode of "United Shades of America," W. Kamau Bell visits wildfire stricken northern California.


W. KAMAU BELL, CNN HOST: My perception in the time that I've been here is that the wildfires are affecting bigger swaths of California.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, basically like 10 times more area burning per year now than there was in the 70s or 80s.

BELL: Why is that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's two things. The climate change issue, that's a global problem and it's going to continue to get warmer, and in the west that means dryer, more conducive to fires. But also, we have huge buildup of fuels because of fire suppression.


WHITFIELD: A new episode of "United Shades of America" tomorrow at 10:00 p.m. right here on CNN.

Thanks so much for being with me today. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. The CNN Newsroom continues with Jim Acosta after this.