Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Senate Begins Process To Vote On Dems' Climate-Economic Bill; President Biden Notches Wins On Jobs Report, Gas Prices, Legislation, And Fighting Terror; White House Declares Monkeypox A Public Health Emergency; "Catastrophic" Teacher Shortage Across U.S.; Russian Court Sentences Brittney Griner To Nine Years In Jail; L.A. Bids Fond Farewell To Broadcast Legend Vin Scully. Aired 12-1p ET

Aired August 06, 2022 - 12:00   ET




FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST (on camera): All right. Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

Happening right now, the U.S. Senate is now in session, Democrats beginning the arduous process to vote on a monumental climate and economic bill. If passed, it would be the largest investment in climate and energy programs in American history, while also addressing other issues of President Biden's agenda.

Let's get right to CNN's Jessica Dean, live for us on Capitol Hill. Jessica, paint the picture for us. What's happening?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Right. So, this is going to be a long process. It's going to stretch out all throughout today into the night even into early tomorrow morning.

You're looking there live at the Senate floor. We do expect they are gaveling in as we speak, and we do expect to see them at some point in the next many hours to move forward with this -- with the Democrats' climate, tax, and health care bill.

Now, what has to happen before that case? When we're going to see them gaveling, then, there will be a vote on a nomination. That's really just to get all of the senators here.

Behind the scenes because Democrats are using this very specific budget process that requires all 50, you -- all 50 of the Democratic senators support.

DEAN (voice-over): But also has to go through the Senate parliamentarian to make sure that it meets all of these rules and can pass muster to be included in this bill.

So, the parliamentarian is continuing to rule on this as we speak. She is making her way through all of these provisions. Just earlier today, we learned that the bulk of what they wanted with Medicare being able to negotiate drug prices for the first time is remaining in the bill.

DEAN (on camera): The parliamentarian did strike a smaller provision on caps for medicine, in the private sector, that Democrats wanted to put a cap on medication. It -- that it didn't rise faster, the price didn't rise faster than inflation. That had to be pulled out for the private insurance industry but will be applicable to Medicare. We also know that climate -- a number of climate provisions are staying in.

So, as the parliamentarian continues to rule, Senate Democrats are said to want -- to have all of her rulings before they proceed forward with this, because they want to make as many changes as possible.

They don't want to make -- you want to make those before the process starts, not during the process.

So, what we will see is when they decide to move forward, they'll have a motion to proceed. And that will kick all of this off.

Again, big question mark around when exactly that will happen. It requires a simple majority. And then, from there, there can be 20 hours of debate on both sides.

Then, that sets off a vote-a-rama, where hours and hours and hours of voting on various amendments happens. That then leads us to final passage.

So, Fredricka, as we're standing right now, noon on the east coast. It's going to be a very long day and evening. But, of course, we'll be keeping our eye on it and updating you as we move along.

WHITFIELD: All right, eat your Wheaties and pace yourself, Jessica.

DEAN: Yes, yes.

WHITFIELD: It is going to be a long day. I hope you got comfortable shoes, too.

DEAN: That's right. Yes.

WHITFIELD: That's a must on Capitol Hill.

DEAN: A must, yes.

WHITFIELD: Of course. Oh, very good. OK.

And, of course, in that last shot earlier, the lady in blue, that was Senator Tammy Baldwin. We spoke with her last hour. She is leading this process today.

All right. So, so far, no Republicans have expressed support for the Inflation Reduction Act, even though it includes some provisions that have been very popular with the GOP in the past. So, bear with me now. It's a big bill. And I'm going to try and go through some of the measures for you. There are a series of trade-offs in this bill. So, here are some of the facts about what's in this legislation as it stands.

WHITFIELD (voice-over): Again, Jessica mentioned there will be motions to make some changes.

So, for starters, it provides $369 billion for climate and energy spending. That includes consumer tax credits on electric vehicles, rooftop solar panels, and energy-efficient water heaters, among other things.

But there are also billions in tax credits to fossil fuel companies to encourage them to invest in clean energy manufacturing.

And then there is this. The bill actually supports expanding investment in domestic oil and gas exploration, on federal lands and in offshore federal waters.

In fact, for the next decade, any new wind or solar energy project on federal land could only be approved if a new lease is approved for oil and gas drilling as well.

WHITFIELD (on camera): On taxes, The bill abandons tax increases opposed by Republicans, including raising the corporate tax rate, the personal tax rate, or the capital gains tax rate.

The bill also includes changes to the healthcare system including a measure on prescription drugs.


Specifically, the bill would empower Medicare to negotiate the prices of certain costly medications, which has garnered bipartisan support.

The bill would also extend the Obamacare subsidies that are set to expire at the end of the year until 2025.

WHITFIELD (on camera): And as for the provision that tighten the carried interest loophole, which Senator Sinema nixed, even President Trump expressed support for eliminating it in the past.

So, a word comes to mind here and a rare one in Washington these days. Compromise. All right, so, passage of the Inflation Reduction Act would be another big victory for President Biden, who has seen a string of wins just in the last week.

CNN's Arlette Saenz is at the White House. Even though the president remains in isolation, overall, what's the White House saying about today and how the week has gone for them?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (on camera):Well, Fred, the White House is watching this vote up in the Senate very closely today as it would mark just another step as they are trying to get the president's agenda across the finish line. But really, this would be the latest development in what has been a string of victories for the President. While he has been isolating here at the White House with COVID, his second stint with COVID this week.

If you just take a look at what the president has been seeing accomplished while he's been in his isolation, starting with the announcements of the successful operation that kills that all al-Qaeda terrorist leader, al-Zawahiri earlier in the week.

That is something that the president typically might have overseen in the Situation Room, but he was cooped up in the residence due to his COVID-19 diagnosis.

The president also got some good economic news this week with gas prices, trending down for over 50 days now. And also, a much better- than-expected jobs report, released on Friday.

And, of course, the major development of that surprise deal between Senator Joe Manchin and Senator Chuck Schumer on the Inflation Reduction Act, which would have historic investments in climate initiatives, as well as new initiatives when it comes to prescription drugs and other tax measures as well.

But one thing for the White House going forward is how exactly all of this is going to resonate with American voters? The president has said in the past that they've had some trouble selling their accomplishments to voters.

And so, that is something that will play out over the course of the next few weeks. Of course, there are also major challenges still facing this White House, especially as -- in the foreign policy arena.

When you take a look at the ratcheting up of tensions with China after the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan. Also, the U.S. is still trying to secure the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner. And also Paul Whelan, who have been held in Russia. That is something that the president says they are still working towards.

But certainly, this week has been a week of accomplishments for President Biden. Now, we are still awaiting word on what the president's latest COVID test has looked like this morning.

Typically, we've been getting it in this noon hour. So, hopefully, we will have some more news soon on whether the president will need to continue isolating, or if he has now tested negative for COVID.

WHITFIELD: All right. Arlette Saenz at the White House thank you so much for that.

All right, Indiana has become the first state to pass an abortion ban since Roe v. Wade was overturned last month.

WHITFIELD (voice-over): The bill would provide exceptions for when the life of the mother is at risk, and for fatal fetal anomalies.

It would also allow exceptions for some abortions if the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest.

Indiana currently allows abortions up to 22 weeks after fertilization. Protesters have filled the halls of Indiana State Capitol as lawmakers voted on the measure. The new law will go into effect, September 15th.

All right, still to come, the Biden administration declares monkeypox a public health emergency, and the CDC is now urging people to limit the number of sex partners.


We will talk with a public health specialists about the best way to contain the virus right after this.


WHITFIELD: All right, let's go live to Capitol Hill right now where the Senate has just gaveled in and is set to take up the Democrats sweeping health care and climate bill.

Let's listen in to Senator Chuck Schumer.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): By the wealthy and reducing the deficit. This is a major win for the American people and a sad commentary on the Republican Party as they actively fight provisions that lower costs for the American family.

As the Inflation Reduction Act works its way through the floor, the American people are going to learn an unmistakable truth about this proposal.

It was written first and foremost with the American people in mind. It reduces inflation. It lowers their costs, and it fights climate change.

For seniors who will face the indignity of rationing medications or skipping them all together, the inflation Reduction Act will lower prescription drug costs, and finally, cap out of pocket expenses.

For families that have fallen behind on the electric bill while trying to stay cool through a heat wave, this bill will lower energy costs and provide a largest investment in clean energy ever in American history.

For every child, deprived of clean air in a neighborhood where they can play safely outside away from smog and exhaust fumes, this bill will help reverse air pollution and help clean up communities that have endured the shadow of the congested highway and industrial site.

And as the most significant action of climate change ever. It will help deliver our children and grandchildren the planet they deserve.

The Inflation Reduction Act was written --



WHITFIELD (on camera): You're listening to Senate -- you're listening to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer there, kind of tick through what he believes the advantages are of this Inflation Reduction Act.

It's going to be a very long day of making modifications along the way to the measure before in this parliamentary in process. There are 50 Democrats who will be voting on it before it moves on to the next stages. And of course, we'll continue to keep close tabs on the goings on there on Capitol Hill.

All right, new urgency from the White House as monkeypox cases rise across the U.S.

WHITFIELD (voice-over): The Biden administration declaring monkeypox, a public health emergency. Cases now topping 7,000 surging in recent weeks since the first was identified in mid-May.

Every state except Montana and Wyoming have reported cases. The White House also naming a monkeypox response coordinator, Robert Fenton, who also serves as a top regional FEMA Administrator.

Meanwhile, lines for vaccines are often long, but now, I mean, unbelievably long. And there is concern -- growing concern over both the lack of supply and what seems to be a lack of urgency in many parts of the country.

Here's CNN's David Culver.

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We started early just before 6:00 a.m. Our destination, familiar to our Uber driver. We were her third passenger that morning also headed to San Francisco Zuckerberg General Hospital.

As we arrived, so to the sun, revealing a line with dozens, mostly men, camped out, waiting. Some, nearly all night.

CULVER (on camera): Security guard telling me that this line started building around 2:00 in the morning.

CULVER (voice-over): All of them wanting to be vaccinated against the monkeypox virus.

Cody Aarons tells me he's been trying for weeks from New York to now here in the Bay Area.


CODY AARONS, WAITING FOR MONKEYPOX VACCINE: It definitely shows that people are concerned about it.

CULVER: And willing to stand in hours-long lines that spill onto the sidewalk.

Inside exhausted hospital staff face another day's surge in vaccine demand. COVID-19 still raging, and now, monkeypox.

MERJO ROCA, NURSE MANAGER, ZUCKERBERG SAN FRANCISCO GENERAL HOSPITAL: I think one of our biggest challenges is really just the inconsistency of the supply.

CULVER: Here in California, nearly all of those who have reported probable or confirmed cases more than 98 percent are men, with 97 percent of patients identifying as LGBTQ, while deaths are rare, the symptoms are visible and painful.

KEVIN KWONG, RECENTLY RECOVERED FROM MONKEYPOX: Oh, I had between six and 800 lesions. It was like someone taking like a hole-puncher all over my body, right under my skin. So, there are points where I couldn't walk, I can touch things. Really difficult.

CULVER: Kevin Kwong says his symptoms lasted some two weeks. He chronicled his recovery on social media.

KWONG: I think I really just didn't want to be alone. I wanted to connect with people and see if other people were also experiencing what I was.

CULVER: A familiar sentiment for longtime LGBTQ advocates, living and working in San Francisco's famed Castro District.

CULVER (on camera): You get a sense that there is this growing uneasiness around monkeypox. For a lot of people, it's eerily reminiscent of what they experienced here in the early 80s, with the AIDS crisis.

CULVER (voice-over): There is fear, there is anger, there is anxiety, and there is stigma.

It's personal for Tyler TerMeer. He runs the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and lives with HIV.

TYLER TERMEER, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, SAN FRANCISCO AIDS FOUNDATION: We have a responsibility to not further stigmatize or politicize this issue. We're a community that has long-faced many issues dating all the way back to the earliest days of the HIV epidemic.

CULVER: They seeing mounting criticisms for its handling of the outbreak. On Thursday, the Biden administration declared monkeypox, a public health emergency.

RAFAEL MANDELMAN, MEMBER, SAN FRANCISCO BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: The feeling that this is not getting the attention that it would, if it were impacting straight people, you know, is real.

CULVER: Back on San Francisco's front lines, Cody Aarons makes his third attempt to get vaccinated against the virus.

Off camera, a hospital staffer updates the crowd.

I here them announcing something. I don't know if you can make out what he's saying. Just 45 minutes into the hospitals' distribution --

AARONS: A no guarantee for vaccines.

CULVER: They had already reached their daily limit. David Culver, CNN, San Francisco.


WHITFIELD: All right, here now to talk more about this is Dr. Saju. Mathew. He is a primary care physician and public health specialist.

So, the White House is now calling this a public health emergency. I mean, 7,500 cases and counting. So, in your view, given the numbers, given the availability of the vaccine, is the response catching up with the demand for the response?

DR. SAJU MATHEW, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST (on camera): Yes, Fred, I'll tell you, I think that the White House was a little late.

I don't want to criticize them, but I'm glad they at least did that because it's going to bring a lot of attention to this problem that's escalating. And we're talking over 7,000 cases in the U.S., Fred, that is a lot more than 7,000.


There is a lot of community transmission. There is a two-week incubation period from the time you are exposed to when you actually show symptoms.

So, people could be walking around with the virus and not even know it.

WHITFIELD: So, do you attribute the rise to maybe a lack of awareness? Or is it also because of some restrictions on the access to the vaccine? Is that all of that wrapped up into one?

MATHEW: Yes, I think it's all of that. I mean, in my office, luckily, we're a large corporation, we just got an e-mail saying, hey, listen, if you suspect somebody has monkeypox, and you see this lesion, here are the swabs.

And now, we have five laboratories that we can actually send these cultures to and get a diagnosis, but a lot of small offices don't have it.

And remember, for American physicians, I mean, I grew up in Africa, I've learned about monkeypox, and I've seen few patients as a high school student, but I've never really seen it as a physician.

So, my -- you know, my red flags go up when I see a gentleman, especially with lesions in the private parts in the genitalia area, you want to have a high index of suspicion.

WHITFIELD: Wow. So, New York mayor, Eric Adams, applauded the White House's decision, but is calling on President Biden to invoke the Defense Production Act to fulfill demand for the vaccines.

So far, only about 600,000 doses have been delivered. When experts say what's needed is 3 million to stop the spread.

So, can he even, you know, the Defense Production Act, helped keep up with the demand if that's kicked in?

MATHEW: Yes, I mean, I think that, that is definitely going to help. The biggest problem is, you know, we have the recipe for the vaccine. So, unlike COVID-19, we've got a vaccine waiting, but now, you have to manufacture it in bulk amounts.

There was just this one place in Europe that was doing it, but we need multiple manufacturers, and the White House is working on that.

And also, Fred, you know, a couple of misconceptions about monkeypox that I think we should clarify. Number one, it's not a gay person's disease.

All of us are at risk of getting this viral infection. It's really more about your social network than it is about your sexuality.

WHITFIELD: And what do you mean about that?

MATHEW: What I mean about that is it's not necessarily what a person does in the bedroom, it's who you hang out with.

While most of the cases are being transmitted sexually, the misconception is to say, or the misinformation would be to say that it's exclusively transmitted sexually, it's not. If two people are in the club, prolonged skin to skin contact, and unfortunately, yes, respiratory droplets prolonged the exposure.

So, unlike COVID-19, somebody can cough in an elevator, you come behind and get exposed to it. It doesn't happen that way. The aerosols are not in the air.

But if you have prolonged contact with someone who has monkeypox, there is a chance of getting it from them via respiratory -- prolonged respiratory droplets.

WHITFIELD: Oh, wow. And then, it's also as a result of the lesions, right? These blisters -- I guess the blisters or lesions open, and that is helping to release the contagious quality of monkeypox.

MATHEW: Exactly. I mean, people don't realize the amount of micro abrasions we have on our skin. You don't have to have an open lesion. So, just skin to skin rubbing, whether it's non intimate or intimate contact, absolutely with those lesions because they have millions of viral particles underneath those pox lesions.

WHITFIELD: Wow. I even heard one doctor say it's as simple as the sharing of towels, of bed sheets. That the lesions can open up, it will leave, you know, contaminants in those places, you use it and does the exposure, and you too could pick up monkeypox. Is it that simple?

MATHEW: Well, you know, Fred, I don't think it is that simple. I think the most common method of transmission is still going to be prolonged skin-to-skin contact, intimate contact.

When it comes to the sheets, there is a chance but a lower chance. So, I don't want people to panic that, you know, if I walk into a gas station and exchange money, that, that could be a source, there's still a lot we need to know about the monkeypox.

Strain that's here in the U.S., the endemic strain in Africa could be different because this virus can also mutate not as rapidly as COVID- 19. So, if this is a new strain, there could be new properties that we don't really know about.

WHITFIELD: And as you mentioned, really, everybody is vulnerable, but obviously the LBG TQ community has been particularly even more vulnerable, and you're a member of the community as well. And I wonder if the stigma that has now been associated with monkeypox and the community whether that makes it that much more difficult to get understanding to get assistance to get help.

MATHEW: 100 percent. I think that we have to be very careful about not stigmatizing monkeypox like HIV was stigmatized. We know how wrong we were when that happened.

And I just heard a physician on another network say that hey, listen, this only affects the gay population. 98 percent of cases are within gay community. So, basically, the rest of the population can relax. That's not true.


I would actually go out on a limb, Fred, and say that college students -- before college start should all really line up for the vaccine. Because remember, it's prolonged contact.

You can hang out with someone in the dorm, go to a fraternity party or a sorority party. These are people hanging out with each other for long periods of time.

So, people need to remember that everybody is at risk, including children.

WHITFIELD: Wow. All right, all important sage advice, and certainly everybody wants to get the help sooner rather than later.


MATHEW: Quickly.

WHITFIELD: All right, Dr. Saju Matthew, so good to see you. Thanks so much.

MATHEW: Thank you, Fred.

WHITFIELD: And always even better when we're in the same space.


WHITFIELD: I love it. Thank you so much.

MATHEW: Thank you, Fred. Appreciate it.

WHITFIELD: All right. Coming up, schools across the country are dealing with teachers and staff shortages. Why so many educators are leaving their field and what some school districts are doing to fill the classrooms? Next.



WHITFIELD: All right, back to school may mean utter chaos in classrooms across America. Three years after the pandemic forced widespread closures and a shift to virtual learning, many school districts are now grappling with a teacher shortage that's being called catastrophic. Some districts are being forced to go to four-day school weeks or crowd more students into available classrooms. CNN Camila Bernal has more from Los Angeles. Camila, this and school starts in just a matter of days, and in some places weeks.

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Fred, it really is a problem. And when you talk to teachers, anecdotally, what they will tell you is that they are tired that their job is difficult that they are underpaid that after the pandemic, they really are struggling to go to work. And a lot of them are just tired in general.

And so what happens here is that these school districts all over the country, they are seeing shortages, and they're having to come up with random solutions like a four-day school week, as you mentioned, or bringing incentives in trying to offer teachers more money, just doing everything they can to retain the teachers and then to have new hires as well.

Here is how the Madison Metropolitan School District Superintendent describes his situation in Wisconsin.


CARLTON JENKINS, SUPERINTENDENT OF THE MADISON METROPOLITAN SCHOOL DISTRICT: We've had a teacher shortage before the pandemic, but now increase. In fact, this is our largest number of vacancies since 2017. It's about 37 more vacancies than we had in 2017. But we've been working diligently together as superintendents across the country sharing best practices about what we need to do to address this.


BERNAL: Here in Los Angeles, LAUSD says they need about 240 teachers before they start school. So the idea is to do everything they can, have their HR departments working 24/7 in order to get these teachers in the classrooms. Fred?

WHITFIELD: Oh, my goodness, that's a big number. All right, Camila Bernal, thank you so much.

All right, and this just in to CNN, an update on the President's health. CNN's Arlette Saenz is at the White House. So now there's an update on his COVID test for today?

SAENZ: That's right, Fred and President Biden has tested negative for COVID-19 today, that's according to his physician, Dr. Kevin O'Connor, who just released another letter updating on the President's condition. But even as he's testing negative, he is going to continue to remain in isolation until they receive a second negative test.

So for the time being the President will continue to isolate. But it was just one week ago, where the President had tested positive for COVID-19 in that rebound case, after he had taken that Paxlovid treatment initially, after his first diagnosis with COVID-19 on July 21st. So we will see whether the President might be able to emerge from his isolation a bit later today or perhaps over the weekend.

But this is certainly a welcomed development for the President who has been here at the White House for the past 17 days without leaving due to his COVID-19 diagnosis. You know, the President has been participating in these events virtually from the residence. He did emerge out of isolation after he initially tested negative a little over a week ago, but then went back into isolation once he received that positive test last Saturday.

So we will see what further updates we get from the President's physician about when the President will be taking that second COVID-19 test. But for the time being he has tested negative for COVID-19. But will continue to isolate until that second test comes in.

WHITFIELD: All right, 17 days. That's pretty significant. Thanks for that reminder on that. Arlette Saenz at the White House.

SAENZ: Thanks.


WHITFIELD: All right, Russia says it is ready to discuss a prisoner swap with the U.S. after basketball star Brittney Griner was convicted of drug smuggling and sentenced to nine years in prison, details straight ahead.


WHITFIELD: President Joe Biden says the U.S. is doing everything possible to bring WNBA star Brittney Griner back home after a Russian court sentenced her to nine years in jail. Griner was found guilty to -- guilty of carrying cannabis oil through a Moscow Airport. The White House considers Griner and fellow American Paul Whelan to be wrongfully detained. And it wants the Kremlin to look at a deal to swap prisoners. CNN's Fred Pleitgen looks at what happens now.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): For the first time Russia saying it's willing to engage with the U.S. on a possible prisoner swap to bring WNBA star Brittney Griner home. But the Kremlin warning talks must remain secret or they'll fail.

DMITRY PESKOV, KREMLIN SPOKESPERSON (through translator): If we discuss even a few details of prisoner exchanges via the press, then those exchanges will never take place. The Americans have already made that mistake suddenly deciding to use megaphone diplomacy to resolve these issues. This is not how they are resolved. So we will not give any comments.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): The U.S. has said it's put an offer on the table to get both Brittney Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan who is currently serving a 16-year sentence in Russia for espionage, which he denies, released. CNN learning that the Biden administration is offering convicted Russian arms dealer, Viktor Bout, in return. Secretary of State Blinken says Washington will take up Moscow's offer to negotiate.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We put forward as you know a substantial proposal that Russia should engage with us on and what Foreign Minister Lavrov said this morning and said publicly, is that they are prepared to engage through channels we've established to do just that. And we'll be pursuing that.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): President Biden saying bringing Brittney Griner home remains a priority for his administration.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm hopeful. We're working hard.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): The Russians say they want to use a mechanism for such swaps put in place after President Biden's summit with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Switzerland last year.

SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): As specifically on the issue of persons convicted in Russia and in the U.S., I have already said that there is a special channel that was agreed to by the presidents whatever might be said publicly, this panel is still relevant.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): After being handed a nine year jail sentence, Brittney Griner's lawyer says the two-time Olympic gold medalist remains in shock but is in a fighting spirit.

MARIA BLAGOVOLINA, BRITTNEY GRINER'S RUSSIAN COUNSEL: She is doing better than yesterday. She's still processing what has happened. But we tried to cheer her up. We told you about this huge support she's getting, in fact, in Russia now as well, because everybody here is very much surprised with this very harsh sentence. PLEITGEN (voice-over): And while her legal team says they will immediately appeal the verdict, which they say was deeply unfair, they'd welcome a prisoner swap to get Griner back to the U.S.

BLAGOVOLINA: It's just the perfect thing to get her home. Of course, we hope that she will get home soon.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Moscow.


WHITFIELD: All right, let's talk more about this. Let's bring in Danielle Gilbert. She is a research specialist, hostage taking and recovery at Dartmouth College. So good to see you. So as we just heard Russia, you know, has demanded that any negotiations take place behind closed doors. But I wonder, does it seem that the back and forth here has been unusually public or has this been how it usually goes?

DANIELLE GILBERT, RESEARCH SPECIALIST, HOSTAGE TAKING RECOVERY, DARTMOUTH COLLEGE: Yes, this is quite unusual, the White House would not normally make a statement like they did last week that they had previously put a substantial offer on the table to get our citizens home. And for the Russians, they're committed to keeping this process quiet, because they're still operating under the farce that this is a legitimate legal process. And they need to pretend that this is for real and not the political leverage that they're really pursuing.

WHITFIELD: And why do you suppose then the U.S. has been, in your view unusually public about negotiations? Is it largely because you're talking about a high profile, you know, prisoner hostage American, who has global recognition?

GILBERT: That's a really good point. There could be several reasons why the administration went public about their involvement in this deal about the offers that they made. And those might have strategic implications behind the scenes. But certainly there is a domestic political purpose for making this announcement publicly, which is to assure Brittany Griner's, family and team and fans to assure those supporting Paul Whelan and all of the other Americans who are wrongfully detained abroad, that the White House is working on this, that they're serious about these negotiations, and that they are serious about bringing our people home.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): And do you think, too, that the U.S. has kind of taken this calculus because it has also been very outspoken about Russia's invasion of Ukraine. And the timing is quite striking in terms of when she was detained, when she was arrested in step with when Russia invaded Ukraine.

GILBERT: Absolutely. Brittney Griner was arrested just one week before Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine. And so this entire case is playing out against the backdrop of this completely horrifying unjust war that's going on in Ukraine right now. So that plays a really important part to this as well.

WHITFIELD: So in your view, what can the U.S. State Department do because, I mean, obviously, in negotiations, you don't want to allow the other side to have leverage. So the U.S. State Department can take the approach and say, OK, we'll be less public because that's the demands coming from Russia, but then that is now a feather in the cap of Russia negotiator. So how does it proceed to try to ultimately win the release of Griner and Whelan?

GILBERT: These negotiations sort of play out in two different phases. So right now the administration is putting offers on the table. They are offering that leverage to get our citizens home and they're committed in my opinion to using every tool at their disposal to bring home Americans who are held in these kinds of positions overseas. But the administration is also taking another tack at the same time which is to remind the American public and remind the global community that Russia is in the wrong here, that Vladimir Putin is the bad guy, that it's not appropriate., it's not legal, it violates international norms and international laws to arrest Americans or any other foreigners in this kind of way.


And so the administration has proposed different policies that would really weigh in on that side of the equation, first to announce new travel warnings for Americans. Sorry about that. New travel warnings for Americans traveling overseas, as well as sanctions on the different countries and leaders and people who are involved in and complicit in these hostage takings overseas.

WHITFIELD: All right, apologies on the interruption. I thought there was a pause there. OK, so now, we just heard from Griner's Russian attorney, where even she expressed that she thought the penalty was harsh. And I wonder, just as Russian authorities don't want to hear the U.S. speak publicly about negotiations, or, you know, what steps are being taken, might this impact negotiations by even having her Russian attorneys speaking out against the government?

GILBERT: Well, my impression is that she's speaking fully within the confines of the expectations of Russian law. So for what Brittney Griner actually did, which was carried less than a gram of cannabis for personal use in her suitcase, she would not normally receive the kind of egregiously harsh punishment that she did, which is nine years of labor in a prison camp. I mean, this is completely disproportionate to even what the Russian criminal justice system would propose for such a crime.

And so they're going to be appealing, they're going to be following the legal tack here of seeing if they can appeal her charge while the negotiations happen behind the scenes.

WHITFIELD: And I know you don't have a crystal ball, but you know, we all want both Greiner and Whelan home, right. So I'm wondering, do you believe that this negotiation will go on for a period of days before a deal is made? Or do you see that it's a, you know, something even worse, I mean, you know, months, or even years?

GILBERT: If we look to pass cases, that it really takes months or years to bring our citizens home from these kinds of wrongful detentions, and that hostage situations abroad. If we look at Trevor Reed, who was released just a few months ago, he had been imprisoned in Russia in 2019. And Paul Whelan is still there since 2018. So that's the normal amount of time that it takes, though there -- it does seem to be a lot of attention on this case, a lot of action and energy behind this case. And hopefully, Vladimir Putin sees how important it is to release them and send them home soon.

WHITFIELD: All right, Danielle Gilbert, thank you so much.

GILBERT: Thanks.

WHITFIELD: We'll be right back.



WHITFIELD: All right, the Los Angeles Dodgers returned home last night with a pregame ceremony to honor broadcasting legend Vin Scully. CNN's Paul Vercammen details how fans and the team paid tribute to the beloved voice of the city's baseball team. Paul?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN REPORTER: Fred on a beautiful breezy night in Los Angeles, the adoration for the late Vin Scully flowed at Dodger Stadium.


VERCAMMEN (voice-over): Fans could be seeing taking photos in front of the press box named after Vin Scully. Others wore Vin Scully shirts, including one man who had young Vin Scully on his back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are very grateful to all who have been sharing the respects here at 1000 Vin Scully Avenue.

VERCAMMEN (voice-over): And in the pregame ceremony, so much emotion.

CHARLEY STEINER, DODGERS ANNOUNCER: Vin was most comfortable in the booth.

VERCAMMEN: They played an 11-minute video tribute to Vin Scully. It was narrated by one of the Dodgers announcers Charley Steiner.

STEINER: Vin called 25 world series, 12 All Star game.

Vin was above and beyond the greatest baseball broadcaster ever lived, may have been best pure sports announcer who ever lived. He was a friend. And that's one of those things I'm having difficulty coming to terms with here in the last few days. I knew he was going to pass away. And then it came as no surprise but so you get the call. And it's a gut punch. And so this is tonight. It -- for me, I'm calling a game, but it's also a sentimental journey.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then Scully, Fordham University Class of 1949.

JOSEPH BURRUEL, FAN: It was just like, you get goosebumps because you get to see and you get to hear him, you know, again.

VIN SCULLY, AMERICAN SPORTS COMMENTATOR: Swung on a high fly ball to deep left field, a Dodger fan empties, would you believe a home run and the Dodgers have clinched the division and we'll celebrate on schedule.

BURRUEL: And until you hear the word, those five words, you know, it was time for Dodger baseball, it's -- is just you get chills because you know, that's Vin.

ANNIE KELLOGG, FAN: He's just great man and what a career, what a career, and so humble.

MARLA MOSSBERG, FAN: I mean, I fell asleep to him. His voice was so soothing to me that I just, I'm going to miss him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My grandma was a Dodger bled blue. We couldn't go anywhere, unless we listened to the Dodger game online. So he's just like been a part of my life.


MIGUEL CAMPOS, FAN: It's just iconic, the sound of L.A., anywhere you would be at Dodger game would go, you would hear Vin Scully so it's just iconic.

SCULLY: It's time for Dodger baseball.

ELIZABETH MARQUEZ, FAN: I was in tears actually. It's a culmination of an entire life that was dedicated to baseball and to the city of L.A.


VERCAMMEN: For these Dodger fans, if he ran for mayor of Los Angeles, Vin Scully would have won. To them in a way, Vin Scully was the sports casting what Vanco was to orador (ph), Louis Armstrong to jazz, he was simply the best. They don't want to forget him. And then we're glad to say goodbye on this night.