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Texas Man Files Suit Against Wife's Friends Who Helped Her Procure Abortion Pills; Court Postpones Medication Abortion Hearing; Investigating Donald Trump; Prosecutors in Trump Hush Money Investigation Meet with Cohen; In Relation to Hush Money, Trump Won't Testify Before New York Grand Jury Investigation; Family of Activist Killed at Police Training Center Site Speaks; Alaska's Massive Willow Oil Drilling Project Approved by Biden Administration; Historic Wins at 95th Academy Awards; Dow Remains Flat, But Some Bank Stocks Plunge; Interview with The Village Voice Entertainment Reporter Michael Musto. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired March 13, 2023 - 10:30:00   ET



WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: So, basically, this man, Marcus Silva, is alleging is that three of his wife's friends helped her to procure abortion pills in 2022, that was after Texas Senate Bill 8, which is basically a total ban on abortion after six weeks went into effect. And basically, this comes down to who is civilly liable for an abortion.

So, here is how the law is set up. It's set up in such a way that people are liable if they perform or induce an abortion in violation of SB8. Knowingly engage in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion. Intends to engage in the conduct described by SB8. And interestingly the mother here is not named in the lawsuit because she's actually excluded by the TEXAS Senate Bill 8. But the penalty here is pretty significant, it is damages not less than $10,000, in this case, Marcus Silva, is seeking $1 million in damages, Jim and Erica. A very much case to watch.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: No question. Whitney Wild, thank you so much for covering.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR AND NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A federal judge in Texas has had a hearing for this week in a medication abortion case, one that could have a major impact across the country. Some highly unusual steps that were taken to delay that information from going public.

Now, according to "The Washington Post", presiding judge held a private call on Friday with the lawyers involved in the case and scheduled the hearing for Wednesday. Here's the thing, the call was not publicly noted on the case's docket nor did the judge issue a publicly order announcing Wednesday's hearing. "The Post" says, the judge the lawyers on that call, he wanted to limit disruptions and potential protest at the proceeding and asked them not to publicize it. Now, why would it get a lot of attention? Well, because it's arguably the biggest legal battle over abortion procedures since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last June.

SCIUTTO: Yes, so many repercussions. Well, new this morning, CNN has learned that Former President Donald Trump's attorney, Michael Cohen, will provide additional testimony to prosecutors with the Manhattan District Attorneys' Office today. This, as prosecutors there are finalizing their investigation into hush money payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels in 2016.

HILL: Joining us now to discuss, CNN Legal Analyst Elliot Williams, former federal prosecutor, former deputy assistant general at the DOJ. So, this is where we are this morning, right, Trump huddling with the attorneys over the weekend. He will not testify, does that have an impact moving forward today?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, AND FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT GENERAL, DOJ: I don't think it has an impact moving forward today. Look, Erica, there might have been a reason for any defendant, not just Trump to go in and talk to a grand jury prior to charges coming out. The big reason is, look, as we talked about in so many criminal cases over the year, intent is everything. You have to prove that the defendant intended to commit the crime.

Well, someone who might be charged with a crime could go to the grand jury and say, look, I acknowledged that I committed these acts but these are the reason why. This was my intent at the time. And maybe he could get himself out of getting charge.

Now, going in there would have been fraught with peril for the former president because he couldn't control what he was being asked. And he would have -- he could have been prosecuted on anything he said in there. So, you know, it's probably a wise decision to not go in, but at the end of the day, it doesn't change anything. And if they're going to charge him, they're going to charge him with crime.

SCIUTTO: Michael Cohen clearly, a star witness, you might say to this case, he has a track record for lying. That's said, he did plead guilty to a crime here, making an illegal payment. And in doing so, he named Trump as, "Individual One" who he says directed him to make such a payment. Does Cohen guilty plea increase the chances of an indictment against Trump himself? Is that a factor in term so of shoring up the case, if that's the way to describe it?

WILLIAMS: It's incredibly useful because he's pleading guilty. He's acknowledging that he was an accomplice or an aid in, sort of, a fact that was critical to what the former president will be charged with, right?

SCIUTTO: Uh-huh.

WILLIAMS: So, it's on the record. He actually did a -- the challenges, like you said, Jim, he has a prior conviction for lying. And everything that jurors see comes down to credibility. Can jurors believe the witnesses that they have in front of them, and it all hurt Michael Cohen's credibility. Now, look, anyone who's ever tried a criminal case, particularly a drug case or (INAUDIBLE), you deal with witnesses that have some pretty bad stuff in their backgrounds. And people get convicted all the time on the basis of that testimony. So, it doesn't mean that you couldn't have a conviction here, but it's just worse for the witness and the jury may not see him as believable.

HILL: Yes, and that will need to be set up, one would imagine, by prosecutors. Full disclosure. We know what we are dealing with here. When we look at the potential charges in this case, what I found interesting was a number of discussions that I had on Friday, on the hills of this news. There were questions raised from other attorneys who said, look, if they move forward with these charges.


Based on what we know about the other possible charges that could be coming from Georgia, the investigation with the special counsel, these appear to be some of the weakest and that could, in turn, harm potentially those other cases. Would you agree with that assessment?

WILLIAMS: I -- you know, it's interesting because we have these 50- state systems and a federal system, they all operate independently. And look, the former president is being investigated by a number of them. So, it's hard not to conflate them all into one, Erica.

At the end of the day, these really aren't serious, serious charges in the grand scheme of criminal offense. He's either going to be charged with a misdemeanor with would -- based on what's publicly available now.

HILL: Uh-huh.

WILLIAMS: Which would carry less than a year in prison or a felony with a four year maximum in prison that no defendant would ever get even if convicted. It's just not all that serious in the grand scheme of crimes that someone could be charged with. And look, as we talked about, some of the other matters that the former president seems to be being investigated for do carry more serious penalties and, frankly, it might be just easier to convict on.

SCIUTTO: Yes, times for the general election. Elliot Williams, thanks so much.

HILL: New this morning, attorneys for the family of an environmental activist who was shot and killed by Atlanta police, speaking out about his death. What they say they're learning from an independent autopsy.


JEFF FILIPOVITS, TERAN FAMILY ATTORNEY: Well, I asked Teran's family wants answers, and we are not getting any answers. There's no one --




SCIUTTO: Happening now, new accusations from the family of an activist killed by law enforcement in Atlanta. Manuel Esteban Paez Teran died while protesting near the side of a proposed law enforcement training facility, dubbed, Cop City.

HILL: Georgia officials say, the activist opened fire on a state trooper and officers fired back in self-defense. Teran's family though, a second private autopsy contradicts those claims. CNN's Nick Valencia has been monitoring these developments.

So, the family now releasing a full autopsy. What more are we learning? What are they saying now there?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim and Erica, Teran's family is calling this an assassination. Saying that an independent autopsy that they commissioned shows that Teran was seated in a meditative position when they were shot and killed by a Georgia state trooper.

They are -- they took their time during this press conference that just wrapped up to underscore just how frustrating it has been to try to get information from the City of Atlanta, and the GBI. They claim that the GBI has only released information that's beneficial to their narrative saying that Teran initially opened fire on the Georgia state trooper and that the troopers were just acting in self-defense. But listen to the attorneys for Teran family explain just how frustrating it has been to try to get information from the officials in this incident.


JEFF FILIPOVITS, TERAN FAMILY ATTORNEY: The GBI had no problem putting its weight behind its narrative. And then, after its narrative was release, invoking the investigation. Once you release what the official narrative is, the investigation is tainted already. Now, they have had plenty of time and we have nothing.


VALENCIA: The lawyers announced that they have filed a lawsuit for record from the GBI. And the City of Atlanta saying that police, you know, shot and killed Teran while they were raiding the forest where individuals were camping out in opposition to a police and fire training facility, a controversial training center which has been dubbed Cop City by its opponents. They called this a paramilitary training facility. Police though say that it's necessary for them to help with their training here in the City of Atlanta and beyond.

This tension between the activists and law enforcement here in the city has really grown beyond what has been dubbed Cop City. And it's really become sort of a ground zero for activists to come in from across the nation to confront police and to air their grievances with police.

During this press conference, the family of Teran also -- they said that they were frustrated with the charges of those who were arrested last week during confrontation with the police. 23 individuals charged with domestic terrorism, only one of them has been released on bond. That individual was a staff attorney for the SPLC who was on sight acting as a legal observer. Other 22 individuals though are still in custody being charged with domestic terrorism.

The family of Teran going on to say that these are trumped up charges and that there is nothing to indicate that those who are currently held in custody committed any acts of violence against police. One thing is clear though, Jim and Erica, is that since the death of Teran, things have only gotten more tense here with individuals still camping in that forest in opposition to Cop City which is a proposed $90 million, 85-acre facility that is expected to be built here in the City of Atlanta. Jim, Erica.

SCIUTTO: Quickly. Was Teran armed during this altercation, and what has GBI said about all this?

VALENCIA: That's a great question, Jim. The GBI says that Teran -- they did find a firearm next to their body when they were recovered or when they -- eventually when this incident was over. The GBI saying that they, again, that the trooper was acting in self-defense and that Teran initially opened fire against the trooper. But the family is disputing that, saying that the autopsy doesn't show any gunpowder or residue on Teran's body. Jim, Erica.

HILL: Nick Valencia, I really appreciate the reporting this morning. Thank you.


SCIUTTO: This just in, the Biden administration has approved a massive oil drilling project in Alaska, this has angered climate advocates, sets the stage as well for a court challenge. The Willow Project, as it's known, is a decadeslong drilling venture in the national petroleum reserve led by ConocoPhillips. It was initially approved during the Trump administration, though later held up in the court.

HILL: Alaska's congressional delegation hails the project as both the source of jobs and up to 600 million barrels of oil. The administration estimates the project could generate carbon pollution equaling some 2 million gas powered cars. According to two government sources familiar with the approval, the administration ultimately felt legally constrained with few options to cancel or curtail that project.

SCIUTTO: Still ahead, history made at last night's Oscars. We're going to break down some of the big winners, that's coming up.



SCIUTTO: Quick check of the markets right now as the Biden administration has moved to calm fears about the sudden collapse of two banks. The Dow has been flat, but it is up off of the red territory, as you can see that happen with at market open. Perhaps reassured by the president's comments this morning that all depositors will be able to get their money. Also, offering other support to potentially other banks that might be affected.

HILL: So, that's a look at the Dow, you know, barely in green record territory there. Look, though, at some of these regional banks tied, right? And so, a lot of this has -- concerns over regional banks. Some of them down as much as 80 percent. Look at those numbers this morning. So, we're going to key -- continue to keep an eye on both the broader mark of it. Also, specifically on some of these regional banks as we watch that throughout the day for you.

SCIUTTO: The Fed is offering the opportunity to turn some of their bond holdings into cash if need be. Again, we will follow.

Now, to something a little bit more fun. History made at the Academy Awards last night. The Oscar for best lead actress going to Michelle Yeoh for her role in the film, which really did well last night, "Everything Everywhere All at Once."

HILL: She is the first Asian woman, only the second woman of color to win in that category.


MICHELLE YEOH, BEST ACTRESS OSCAR WINNER: I really have to thank the Academy for acknowledging, embracing diversity and true representation. I think this is something that we have been working so hard towards for a very long time. And tonight, we frigging broke that glass ceiling.


HILL: For more on Hollywood's biggest night, entertainment reporter for "The Village Voice", Michael Musto with us now. Great to see you this morning. So, you know, we just heard in that speech, right, diversity, representation, overall, how did the Oscars score this year when it comes to diversity, when it comes to representation?

MICHAEL MUSTO, ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER, THE VILLAGE VOICE: They did pretty well. There were certain black actresses which were noted during the telecast but were left out of best actress, namely Danielle Deadwyler and Viola Davis. But there was a lot of Irish representations, there was a lot of Indian representation. Michelle Yeoh was a feel-good moment, except for me because I had predicted Cate Blanchett who was tremendous in "Tar".

But there were so many great positives messages that I heard. This is the American dream, that's what Ke Huy Quan who won best supporting actor for playing Michelle Yeoh's husband. This is the American dream that no matter what your identity, no matter what the obstacles against you, you can get to the podium.

SCIUTTO: Yes, this message --

MUSTO: I can't, but they can. SCIUTTO: -- this message brought a lot of tears to the eyes. So, certainly, me to listened to his story notably last year, we were all talking about the slap, and Jimmy Kimmel made several jokes about the slap last year including how he was going to be protected from any repeat of that. He kind of picked out folks in the front row who would protect him, Andrew Garfield, of course played "Spider-Man", even Steven Spielberg. How did he handle that elephant in the room, if you want to call it that?

MUSTO: I like the way he handled it because he actually held a mirror up to the Academy itself and made fun of their handling of this. Because last year, as you recall, after the slap, nobody from the Academy came out to said, we condemn violence. They just left the three female hosts to flounder up there then Will Smith won best actor, everyone cheered. So, Jimmy was making fun, not only to the Academy for doing nothing but of everyone else. And he said, well, if violence happens again, do what you did last year, nothing.

HILL: Yes, was it --

SCIUTTO: It was --

MUSTO: I though he had --

SCIUTTO: It was rough.

HILL: Well, rough but, you know, also may be necessary.


HILL: Anything that really stood out? Anything that really surprised you last night?

MUSTO: No, the -- I mean, what surprised me was that we knew that "Everything Everywhere All at Once" was going to win best picture and several other rewards. It was a feel-good movie that appeal to audiences and critics alike. It was a trippy trip to the metaverse. But we didn't know it would be a sweep, really, where it won seven Oscars. We haven't had a sweep in a while.

Another thing was "All Quiet on the Western Front" won four awards, that's a German film based on the Erich Maria Remarque book. That actually won best picture 1930. So, what happened -- the only surprise is that other movies were edged out of getting anything. "Elvis" we thought would get one or two things, and got nothing. "Tar" tremendous movie, "Fabelmans" great film, zilch, really no Oscars. "Banshees of Inisherin" -- "Inisherin", that's the right pronunciation, nothing. So, because of the love for the two movies I mentioned, some other big films went home empty. But, hey, the nomination is still an award.

SCIUTTO: How about the love for Jamie Lee Curtis showed to everybody who worked on that film and others in her life saying, this Oscar, her first, is all of yours. I thought that was a great moment.


HILL: Michael --

MUSTO: I usually have a long laundry -- I usually have a lot of laundry list of names, but yes, I loved her exuberance. And she has long been, not only the queen of horror but the queen comedy. Let's not forget she's a (INAUDIBLE).

HILL: Yes, Michael Musto, great to have you with us this morning --

MUSTO: It was among the feel-good --

HILL: Yes.

MUSTO: Thank you.

HILL: We do also want to note, one very special winner, congrats to our colleagues at CNN Films winning the first Oscar last night, their first Oscar for best documentary, this is for "Navalny". The film that explores the plot to kill the Russian anti-corruption activist, former presidential candidate Alexei Navalny.

SCIUTTO: Navalny, an outspoken critic of the Kremlin currently serving a nine-year sentence of maximum-security prison, east of Kremlin. He survived a poisoning attempt by the Kremlin. It's a remarkable story, you got to see it.

HILL: Certainly is. Thanks to all of you for joining us today. I'm Erica Hill.

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto. "At this Hour with Kate Bolduan" starts after a quick break.