Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Walker Denies Abortion Report, Faces Attacks From Own Son; Supreme Court To Hear Challenge To Key Section Of Voting Rights Act In Alabama Redistricting Case; Report Finds Systemic Abuse, Misconduct In Women's Soccer; FAA Unveils Rule Allowing More Rest For Flight Attendants; Country Legend Loretta Lynn Dead at Age 90. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired October 04, 2022 - 14:30   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Abby Phillip is CNN's senior political correspondent. Lisa Rayam is host of "Morning Edition" of Atlanta NPR station, WABE.

Welcome to you both.

Abby, let me start with you.

Christian Walker is a very strident, I should say, conservative activist. When you pair that with this report, what we heard from him, what does this mean for the Walker campaign?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a story that I think is not going to go away as easy as the Walker campaign wants it to.

There are a couple of problems, one, the "Daily Beast" report has some evidence to support this woman's claim. We don't know who the woman is. But there's that card that you showed. There's the receipt for the money. And on the Walker side, all there's really is a denial.

And what the Christian Walker part of it is, his son, is that it fits this into a broader pattern that he's been struggling to combat and really having a hard time combatting, which is that Herschel Walker has a lot of skeletons in his closet.

Whether it is questions about the claims about his past that he's made that are not true or about children that he's not acknowledged, those issues all speak to this broader narrative.

And this is a son, a father and a son relationship that is clearly very broken, and that's going to sting. That's going to stick in the minds of voters. That's what makes this story so difficult.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Lisa, it's not like Herschel Walker has a long track record, as Abby just said, of telling the truth. I mean, he has all sorts of claims that have been proven to be false.

And yet, Rick Scott, as you know, the chairman of the NRSC, the fundraising arm for Republicans, he says:

"When the Democrats are losing as they are right now, they lie and cheat and smear their opponents. This is just like the smears they attempted against Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas. It will not work."

"Herschel has denied these allegations and the NRSC and Republicans stand with him, and Georgians will stand with him, too."

Is that surprising that he's coming out so strongly in saying that he believes Herschel Walker in this situation?

LISA RAYAM, HOST, "MORNING EDITION" ON ATLANTA NPR STATION, WABE: Not surprising. But an indication of just how serious they are taking these latest charges from Christian.

They're taking these allegations very seriously. And so they had to move quickly because is this the October Surprise that we've all been waiting for, sitting on the edge of our seats waiting for.

If anything, if the allegations are true or false, very damaging. Because they are on the minds of the electorate right now just weeks out of the midterm election.

BLACKWELL: Abby, I wonder if the NRSC is sticking by Walker because they have to. I mean, this, the control of the Senate, comes down to a few races. The big money has already walked away from Blake Masters in Arizona. And they must stand by him with five weeks left.

PHILLIP: Yes, I mean, look, this race is really nonnegotiable for Republicans if they want to regain control of the Senate.

The environment, broadly right now, is that Georgia is one of just a few states that Republicans think is still in the running, that could determine who has the gavel next year.

And if they lose this state, it will make it very, very difficult for them to win the majority, especially considering that some of the other races that they're looking closely at are not going in their way, Pennsylvania, for example.

So it's really essential. They don't have a choice but to back Herschel Walker right now.

But when you think about Mitch McConnell, who wasn't too jazzed about Herschel Walker's candidacy to begin with, he decided to go ahead and back this candidate despite knowing that there could be things like this that come up.

Right now, I think a lot of Republicans are living through their worst-case scenario.

And they're hoping, as some Republicans have said, that Georgia voters will basically say about Herschel Walker what they said about Trump, which is that it doesn't really matter what he did in his past, they're going to vote for him anyway. They're hoping this is, in fact, an "Access Hollywood" moment. That

remains to be seen. Herschel Walker is not Donald Trump in a number of ways.

CAMEROTA: We have seen how voters like to suspend disbelief when it fits their political needs.

But, Lisa, one person who's seen the light or the tables have turned is his son, Christian. Christian had supported his father. He had introduced him warmly at various campaign events.

But what he now says, the son, is that he thought his father was going to own up to his checkered past.

Here's what Christian tweeted today or yesterday:

"I don't care about someone who has a bad past and take accountability, but how dare you lie and act as though you're some moral Christian upright man. You've lived a life of destroying other people's lives. How dare you."

His son has had enough, clearly.

RAYAM: Yes, tweet after tweet, this was just running rampant yesterday. And how ugly is this for the family in general? You never like to play out your dirty laundry in public, right?


Christian is not mincing words here. You know, he's calling his father a liar. He's calling his father -- he's saying he's not a good father. You know, he's basically saying, you know, he said he was quiet as long as he could.

He said his family told him not to run because of all these so-called skeletons in his closet.

Something has gone clearly wrong in this relationship and is being played on the national platform. And the timing is just not good for Herschel Walker.

It's going to be interesting, October 14th, to see how and if this will play out in the debate with Senator Raphael Warnock.

BLACKWELL: Yes, this is still a competitive race, Warnock, 47, Walker, 42, in the latest Marist poll. So we'll see if this influences that margin at all over the next five weeks.

Abby Phillip, Lisa Rayam, thank you both.

CAMEROTA: Supreme Court justices heard arguments today in a case that could have major repercussions when it comes to voting rights and minority voters. We're going toto tell you how the justices reacted next.


BLACKWELL: Today, the Supreme Court is hearing a case centered on a key provision in the Voting Rights Act. Now, this would make it difficult, or could make it more difficult, for minority voters to challenge redistricting maps.

CAMEROTA: CNN's Jessica Schneider joins us now.

Jessica, this came out of Alabama where groups challenged the current congressional map, so what happened?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Victor and Alisyn, the justices here really wrestled with, how do you apply the Voting Rights Act in cases like this where voting maps are in dispute?

This case, in particular, centers on the congressional map in Alabama. It was redrawn after the 2020 census. It gives black voters there a majority in one out of the seven districts.

And a group of registered voters challenged the map when it was redrawn saying that, since, you know, 27 percent of the state's residents are black, they argued there should be at least one more district that is also drawn majority black.

Now, the state of Alabama pushed back on that premise. And they said, hey, it would actually be unconstitutional because it would make a state prioritize race when drawing these districts.

So the big question here for the justices, how do you evaluate a voting map under Section II of the Voting Rights Act? You know, this is a section that prohibits any rules that restrict the right to vote on the basis of race.

And what was interesting here is that the most outspoken justice on this issue today during arguments was the newest justice, the first black female justice, Ketanji Brown Jackson.

She talked about history and the founders and the crafting of even the 14th Amendment. And she noted that the founders intended race to be considered to really even out the playing field.

Here she is.


KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE (voice-over): The legislator who introduced that amendment said that, quote, "Unless the Constitution should restrain them, those states will all, I fear, keep up this discrimination and crush to death the hated freed men."

That's not a race-neutral or race-blind idea in terms of the remedy.


SCHNEIDER: Now, notably this Alabama congressional map, it is actually in effect for the midterm elections. And that's because the Supreme Court actually stepped in previously to allow the map to be used even while the appeals were moving forward.

You can see the 5-4 decision there with those conservative justices and the majority letting this map move forward.

But you know, Alisyn and Victor, voting rights advocates are really concerned about the conservative justices here and how they might rule in this case.

Because if they rule -- it could make it harder actually for minorities to challenge these voting maps depending on how they kind of suss out how Section II should be applied here.

So we'll wait and see. They heard the arguments today. The decision probably won't be for quite a few weeks -- guys?

BLACKWELL: Certainly one to watch.

Jessica Schneider, for us in Washington, thank you.

CAMEROTA: There's a new damning report about U.S. women's professional soccer after this independent investigation reveals systemic abuse and sexual misconduct in the league.

BLACKWELL: And it's even worse. The report also found the abuse often begins in the youth leagues.

CNN's Lucy Kafanov has the latest.


LUCY KAFANOV, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A shocking new report alleges systemic abuse within the U.S. Women's Professional Soccer League.

It found that sexual misconduct, emotional abuse, verbal abuse are widespread throughout the sport, with verbal abuse and blurred boundaries seen even in youth soccer.

SALLY YATES, FORMER ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL & LEADER OF INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION: We were troubled by a lot of conduct that we saw here, which is why we thought that it was important to lay it all out in terms of -- based on the evidence that we were able to find, who knew what when, and what they did about it, and what they didn't do about it.

KAFANOV: Former acting attorney general, Sally Q. Yates, led the independent investigation, which interviewed more than 200 people and found the National Women's Soccer League under the U.S. Soccer Federation failed to provide a safe environment for players.

The report stating "abusive coaches moved from team to team," and "those in a position to correct the record stayed silent."

The report focused on three now former head coaches, but it acknowledged numerous other problems across the league.

And this isn't the first time one of them, Paul Riley, has faced allegations. Last year, he was fired from the North Carolina Courage after a report by "The Athletic" detailed allegations of sexual coercion and misconduct against him.


SINEAD FARRELLY, FORMER PROFESSIONAL SOCCER PLAYER: Soccer, for me, was my safe space and my world, and something that I had such an innocent pure love for since I was a little girl, and that was taken from me.

KAFANOV: Those allegations of abuse echoed by former Portland Thorn midfielder, Mana Shim.

She spoke to ESPN's "E:60" in a clip broadcast on ABC News, alleging, as she did in the report, that Riley, her former coach, invited her to his hotel room.

MANA SHIM, FORMER PROFESSIONAL SOCCER PLAYER: I was terrified. And I knew, I knew at that point that I had to find a way out. And I was not willing to compromise myself for my career, or for this person.

KAFANOV: Alex Morgan, one of Team USA's stars, whose allegations were detailed in the report, also opened up to ESPN's "E:60."

ALEX MORGAN, PROFESSIONAL SOCCER PLAYER: I just knew that he needed to be held accountable one day, and that it would happen one day, but it took years for that to happen.

CINDY PARLOW CONE, U.S. SOCCER PRESIDENT: This is very emotional for me. And honestly, I'm having trouble absorbing everything in the report.


KAFANOV: Now, the National Women's Soccer League said it is investigating the findings of the report.

And in a statement released yesterday, they wrote in part, quote, "We must learn from and take responsibility for the painful lessons of the past in order to move the league into a better future."

Of course, it remains to be seen, Victor and Alisyn, what that future might look like in light of all of these allegations -- Victor, Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: Lucy Kafanov, thank you for that report.

BLACKWELL: Twitter stocks surge on reports that Elon Musk has proposed to move forward with his deal to buy the company at full price.

CAMEROTA: Now he wants to move forward again?

BLACKWELL: Yes. I mean, he's changed his mind apparently. CAMEROTA: So I guess he has.

BLACKWELL: He's a fickle guy.

More on this ahead.



CAMEROTA: Flight attendants are about to get more rest thanks to a new federal rule that increase their down time.

BLACKWELL: CNN's Pete Muntean is, where else, Reagan National Airport.

CAMEROTA: He's home.

BLACKWELL: Pete, what's changing?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is a pretty big change, Victor. Hard fought by flight attendants for years. In fact, Congress mandated this happen back in 2018, but the Trump administration simply did not act.

This all has to do with the down time that flight attendants get after their shifts.

The rule, as it stands right now, is a flight attendant can work a 14- hour shift and gets a mandated nine-hours rest from their airline that can be dragged down to eight hours in certain operational cases.

Now this new rule that is going into place mandates that airlines give flight attendants a consecutive 10 hours of rest.

This is so critical, flight attendants say, because they have been protesting at airports across the country saying airlines are pushed to the limit and so are they.

There have been 55,000 flight cancellations this summer from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

I want you to listen to Sara Nelson, of the Association of Flight Attendants, who said the fatigue right now is real.


SARA NELSON, PRESIDENT, ASSOCIATION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS: The issues from the pandemic and the operational issues made the implementation of this new rule all the more urgent right now.

Flight attendants were facing a whole new round of short nights because of those conditions in the worst times, at a time they should be getting the most rest.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MUNTEAN: Flight attendants also point out that passengers have been acting up on planes in huge numbers. One more reason why they need this rest, 5,900 incidences of unruly passengers reported to the FAA in 2021, with about 1,900 issues reported so far this year.

Remember, this could put some interesting stress on the airlines. They have said before they need to essentially rewrite the software programs that allow for crew scheduling and also retrain dispatchers who schedule the flight attendants.

Some airlines point out to us, Delta Airlines, in particular, say they have already been doing this before the rule even went into place.

It goes into effect in 90 days -- Victor and Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: It's not like 10 hours is that luxurious. They are supposed to be sleeping for eight of those. I know they will be grateful for this.

Pete Muntean, thank you very much.

So Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson is still claiming that the January 6th attack was not an armed insurrection, despite all the evidence to the contrary. What this means for his re-election bid next month. That's ahead.



CAMEROTA: Sad news from the music world. Country music legend, Loretta Lynn, died at the age of 90.

BLACKWELL: She is best known for the song "Coal Miner's Daughter" and the movie it inspired about her rise to fame after growing up in Appalachia.

CNN's Stephanie Elam has a look at her remarkable life.



STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Loretta Lynn's rags- to-riches story is well-known. A coal miner's daughter who became the queen of country music. She was the second of Clara and Melvin Webb's eight children. Born in Butcher Hollow, part of the Appalachia Hill Country in

Kentucky, her life during the Great Depression didn't offer many advantages. She grew up without electricity, indoor plumbing, and only completed the eighth grade.


ELAM: As a young teen, she married Oliver "Doolittle" Lynn, whom she called by the nickname "Doo" or "Doolittle." He was 21. A decade later, Loretta Lyn was a mother of four, playing guitar and

writing songs at home.

With her husband's encouragement, she entered a talent competition and was spotted by a record producer.


ELAM: Her first song, "Honky Tonk Girl," was a minor hit and the Lynn family moved to Nashville. Her marriage had its share of troubles, many of which spilled over into her songs.


ELAM: Lynn said her husband had problems with alcohol and her long absences on the road.

They went on to have a total of six kids. But family life was not always harmonious. Touring took a toll on her health. She battled chronic illnesses and exhaustion.

Her bestselling autobiography chronicled her hardships, heartaches, and rise to stardom.


SISSY SPACEK, ACTRESS & SINGER: I can't sing in front of people. I can't.

ELAM: Sissy Spacek won an Oscar playing her on the screen.