Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Alex Jones Faces Parents of Victims at Sandy Hook School Shooting; Senator Sinema Says She's Taking Her Time on Dems' Health Care and Climate Bill; Group of Michigan Prosecutors Pledges Not to Pursue Abortion Cases; Webb Telescope Reveals New Image of Dazzling, Rare Galaxy. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired August 03, 2022 - 10:30   ET




JUDGE MAYA GUERRA GAMBLE, TRAVIS COUNTY DISTRICT CHARGE: Yet here I am. You must tell the truth while you testify. This is not your show.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: You must tell the truth while you testify.

CNN's senior media reporter Oliver Darcy joins me now live from New York.

And Oliver, you know, watching some of these poor parents here with a chance to react to, confront in effect Alex Jones, just remarkable and heart-wrenching.

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it really is, Jim. Alex Jones is back on the stand right now actually as we're speaking. And the plaintiff's attorney is going to get a chance to eventually cross examine him. But he's on thin ice, Jim. As you played, the judge was not happy with his conduct in court yesterday and made that quite clear. She said actually that he had violated his oath to tell the truth in the courtroom at least twice, and she warned him that he must tell the truth.

It was really a remarkable moment, Jim. He said -- he tried -- he's not used to really sitting in silence and listening to someone else admonish him. So he tried to interject and said that he had felt he had told the truth which earned him another scolding from the judge who said you believe everything you say is true, but your beliefs do not make something true. She went on to say that is what we're doing here, and alluded to this being the whole issue in the hearing because he's maintained that he -- he's always felt like he told the truth.

That moment followed a day of court which was nothing short of remarkable. The parents of Jesse Lewis testified in court and talked about the pain that Alex Jones' lies about Sandy Hook have caused. There was really a remarkable moment, though, in particular when Scarlett Lewis addressed Jones in court. He was in the courtroom for the second half of the day, and she was talking directly to him. I think we have a clip of that.


SCARLETT LEWIS, MOTHER OF BOY KILLED IN SANDY HOOK ELEMENTARY SHOOTING: There's records of Jesse's birth, of me. I mean, I have -- I have a history, and there's nothing that you could have found because it doesn't exist that I'm deep state. It's just not true. I know you know that. That's the problem. I know you know that. And you keep saying it. You keep saying it. Why? Why? For money?

NEIL HESLIN, FATHER OF BOY KILLED IN SANDY HOOK ELEMENTARY SHOOTING: Wanted to state that Jesse was fake. That -- that is an indication that he didn't exist and he didn't live. He did live. I was blessed with him for 6 1/2 years.


DARCY: Those were only a couple of moments, a snippet of what happened yesterday in court. It was really emotional, and you could see the father there was fighting back tears as he testified.

The trial will continue today, and it's possible that the jury might have a verdict on how much Jones will have to pay these parents by the end of the week -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: The parents have to just say their children existed. Goodness.

Oliver Darcy, thanks so much.

DARCY: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: We do want to share a touching update about one of the young victims of the mass shooting at that parade, July 4th in Highland Park, Illinois. 8-year-old Cooper Roberts, you may remember him, there he is, has been transferred now to a rehabilitation facility and was finally able to visit with his dog named George.

As you can see from the photos, his family says it was a happy return for both of them. Cooper sadly was paralyzed from the waist down in that shooting. His twin brother Luke and his mom were also injured. They have since recovered. A GoFundMe campaign to support the family has raised more than $1.7 million.

This just in to CNN. Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema speaking out for the first time now in public on whether she will support a critical piece of legislation that deals with health care, climate change, also corporate taxes. We're going to be live on Capitol Hill with her comments coming up.



SCIUTTO: Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema speaking for the first time after days of silence surrounding where she stands on the climate, health care, and corporate tax spending bill dubbed by Democrats the Inflation Reduction Act.

I want to speak to CNN chief congressional correspondent Manu Raju on Capitol Hill.

I spoke to Senator Tim Kaine last hour. He said he's confident Sinema will be on board. Did she give an indication either way?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: She's really not tipping her hand and of course she is central to all of this because the Democrats, the procedures they're using to try to pass this bill along straight party lines means in the 50-50 Senate they can't afford a single defection. And at the moment she is the one senator, Kyrsten Sinema, who has not indicated whether or not she could support this plan.

And when just moments ago our colleague Morgan (INAUDIBLE) asked her where she is on this issue, and she indicated she's still taking her time.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Any update on the Inflation Reduction Act? I know you've been taking your time --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:: So as you know, we don't have a comment. We're going to wait to see what comes out of the parliamentary process.


RAJU: So taking my time. One thing that you noted there is that the aide who has been reiterating what the office has said over the last several days, is that she will not make a decision on where she is until after the Senate parliamentarian finishes her review of this proposal. And that is significant.


It's in the weeds but highly significant because what the parliamentarian is going to decide is whether or not Democrats can include all the provisions that they want in here, whether it's allowing Medicare to negotiate the prices of prescription drugs, extending health care subsidies, spending hundreds of billions of dollars on climate change and energy issues, whether that can be approved through the budget process which allows them to circumvent a Republican filibuster and pass it along straight party lines.

Sinema is indicating she will not take a position until after that process is complete. So the next several days, hugely significant here because the parliamentarian has to rule, and Sinema has to decide. And if she decides yes, the Democrats can potentially pass this bill by the end of this weekend. If she says no, it could scuttle the entire effort -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Senator Kaine said he's also confident that the parliamentarian will be on board, though might take out some provisions. Of course we'll have to watch. Manu Raju, thanks very much.

Well, a group of religious leaders are taking on Florida's newly enacted abortion ban. In a series of five new lawsuits filed Monday, they argue the 15-week ban signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis in April violates their constitutional rights. Representatives of five congregations, these include Jewish, Buddhist, and Christian denominations, argue the ban violates freedom of speech, free exercise of religion, and the Florida Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The governor's office says it's confident the law which took effect July 1st will withstand all legal challenges. Just one of many legal challenges going on regarding abortion rights.

There is a back and forth in Michigan courts this week over whether that state can enforce a 1931 abortion ban that was triggered when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. The state court of appeals issued an order allowing local prosecutors to enforce the ban, but last night another judge temporarily blocked it. The prosecutor for Oakland County, Michigan, says that no matter what she has no plans to prosecute abortion providers or patients.

And she joins me now, Karen McDonald. Karen, good to have you on.


SCIUTTO: You are among seven prosecutors who made this pledge. I wonder, by not enforcing the ban, or rather not prosecuting people who would break it, would you face any legal penalties yourself?

MCDONALD: No. In fact, I think it's my duty and obligation, and I swore that I would uphold the law in my position and my number one goal as is many prosecutors and DAs across the country is public safety and justice. And the prosecution of medical providers under this law will not increase public safety. In fact, it will threaten it. Again, even if this very -- one of the strictest bans in the country, 1931 law, is -- somehow is ruled constitutional, it will not prevent abortions, it will just prevent safe abortions.

And what's more disturbing is the people that we fight for every day and protect, victims of child sexual assault, domestic violence, human trafficking, what this law would do is ask a prosecutor to prosecute those offenders and then turn around and try to prosecute people who give these vulnerable victims essential health care. So it doesn't increase public safety. And it's just not -- I'm not going to do that, and there are about 100 currently DAs and prosecutors across the country that agree with me.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this, though. If this state law is upheld in court, would you then prosecute because that would be the law as it stands?

MCDONALD: No. I am not going to prosecute medical providers who are giving essential reproductive health care to vulnerable people. And you know, I don't think the people in my county want me to do so. First of all, I was elected in 2020, and it's not as if I hid the fact that I was pro-choice. But more importantly, prosecutors and DAs across the country have to make really difficult decisions every single day about how to allocate resources. And we just don't have resources to prosecute doctors and medical professionals when we are eighth in the country for human trafficking, we are an all-time high of serious crime like gun violence.

We just had our first mass school shooting in the state, in our county. We're facing some very serious crime and in order to really do what I was elected to do which is ensure public safety and justice, we have to allocate our resources for that. And that is what's in the best interests of the public. So --



MCDONALD: It doesn't make any sense. I don't agree with it, but that's really not the reason that I'm not going to ever prosecute. It's that it doesn't make sense for the county, and I don't believe that it's in line with the oath that I took.

SCIUTTO: OK. What happens to women then today? What do women who are seeking an abortion today in your state do? What are their options?

MCDONALD: If you live in Oakland County, Michigan, you are -- will never be nor as a person receiving that important reproductive health care or a medical professional giving it, prosecuted so long as I'm Oakland County prosecutor. With regard to other counties in the state, that remains a question, and there's ongoing litigation currently and eventually the Michigan Supreme Court will make a decision about whether that 1931 law, which is really not even a 1931 law, it's actually a law that was enacted in the 1800s when Michigan was actually being formed as a state.

But they'll have to make a decision about whether that's constitutional or not. In the meantime, the people of Oakland County have reproductive freedom.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this. In Texas prior to the Supreme Court decision, as you know, the law was written in such a way that it was private citizens who could then go after women or providers. Are you concerned that the state legislature might then take that step if prosecutors won't prosecute, let average citizens be the tip of the spear as it were.

MCDONALD: You know, I have a lot on my plate every day, and I don't spend time and energy focused on what my state legislature is going to do. I have great relationships with our state legislators. But my focus is bringing public safety and justice to Oakland County, and that is not going to be furthered by prosecuting and charging doctors with five-year felonies for performing reproductive health care, particularly on vulnerable people.

Again, this law, regardless of how it's enacted or if it's upheld, will not prevent abortion. It will prevent safe abortion, and it will really impact vulnerable communities more than any other. And those are precisely the people that we work every single day to protect in our office. I have about 100 assistant prosecutors that work for me, and they don't want to prosecute doctors for performing abortions.

SCIUTTO: Karen McDonald, we appreciate having you on this morning.

MCDONALD: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Still ahead, another story we're following. Just stunning new images of a galaxy far, far away. This thanks to the James Webb telescope. What we're learning about the so-called and aptly named Cartwheel Galaxy.



SCIUTTO: The James Webb space telescope, this time machine through space, peered through cosmic dust to capture incredible details of a rare and frankly chaotic type of galaxy. Look at the colors. And this is compared to an image originally taken by the Hubble telescope, that on the right. The one on the left the Webb.

The Cartwheel Galaxy is located some 500 million light years away. It formed when a large spiral galaxy and a smaller one collided in space. I mean, just the detail that the Webb can show that Hubble could not is remarkable.

Kristin Fisher joins us now with more. Tell us why the Cartwheel Galaxy is getting so much attention.

KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE AND DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, one, because it's an absolutely spectacular image. Two, because it's a very rare type of galaxy. The Milky Way galaxy is a spiral galaxy. This is a round galaxy, and it formed when a spiral galaxy like the Milky Way collided with another galaxy, and now what you see there with the Cartwheel Galaxy is a galaxy where you have a black hole at the center.

And then, Jim, just think of it as if you would throw a rock into a pond. That inner core and the outer core are expanding as ripples in water would, and they've been expanding for about 400 million years. And so if you take a look at that image right there, that is what the Hubble space telescope saw. As it gets more red, that is what the Webb telescope is able to see. And so one of the other things that I think is so fascinating about this image is because Hubble took images of this galaxy andnow we're getting to see exactly why Webb is so much more powerful.

The Hubble telescope could only see what our eyes could see. It's an optical telescope. But the Webb telescope is an infrared telescope. And so that's why you're seeing all of the red in the new Webb images of the Cartwheel Galaxy, and the reason. Jim, that's so important is because all that red is cosmic dust. And astronomers and scientists believe that those really hold the secrets to how stars and galaxies and potentially even how the universe form -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Wow. Well, it's also beautiful to see. Kristin Fisher, thanks so much for bringing us some more.

Before we leave you today, we want to take a moment to remember the voice of summer.


VIN SCULLY, LEGENDARY DODGERS BROADCASTER: You and I have been friends for a long time, but I know in my heart that I've always needed you more than you've ever needed me. And I'll miss our time together more than I can say.


SCIUTTO: The legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully signing off there after a 67-year career with the franchise. That was a signoff in 2016. Well, he passed away yesterday aged 94. He broadcast his first Dodgers game in 1950 when the team was still in Brooklyn before he moved with the team to Los Angeles. He captured a lot of moments including the iconic moment Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth's home run record. It was Scully narrating history.


SCULLY: A black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol. And it is a great moment for all of us and particularly for Henry Aaron.


SCIUTTO: Well, Dodgers president and CEO called Scully a giant of a man not only as a broadcaster but also as a humanitarian. Sad to see him go.

Thanks so much to all of you for joining us today. I'm Jim Sciutto. "AT THIS HOUR WITH KATE BOLDUAN" starts right after a quick break.