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Interview With Director of National Drug Control Policy Dr. Rahul Gupta; FDA Approves over-the-counter Narcan; Nashville Shooting Investigation; Trump Manhattan Grand Jury Taking Pause. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired March 29, 2023 - 13:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN HOST: Hello. I'm Alex Marquardt in Washington. Thank you so much for joining us today.

We do begin with breaking news in the Donald Trump hush money investigation. We're learning that the Manhattan grand jury that has been hearing the case is set to take a break for up to a month and may not hear evidence again until the end of April.

Let's get straight to CNN's Kara Scannell in New York.

Kara, this comes after the former president, he predicted that he was going to be indicted last week. But now, if that indictment comes, it may not be for several more weeks?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Alex, so we're learning from a court administration source that the grand jury has a scheduled break for the holidays and that they will be breaking after April 5. That's next Wednesday, and they would return later in the month of April.

What is not clear is whether this grand jury, which normally sits on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, will hear evidence about the Trump case before they take that break. They are off today, according to a court sources, and they are in tomorrow, but they're not expected to hear any testimony about the Trump investigation, according to those sources.

It's important to underscore here, though, that this whole process is secretive. We're learning some details from court administration sources, but the district attorney's office can make decisions. They can decide to bring in a witness. They can decide to take the case up. I mean, if they decide they were to move forward with an indictment, they could ask the grand jury to vote.

It is just not clear how quickly that decision-making is going and when they might bring any evidence, whether it's additional witness testimony or a final decision, before this grand jury. But we do know that there are just a few days left before they do go on this break beginning next Wednesday, after that session where they are scheduled to sit -- Alex. MARQUARDT: All right, Kara Scannell in New York, thank you so much

for all of your terrific reporting on all these many twists and turns in this case.

Joining me now to discuss is Harry Litman. He's a former U.S. attorney and former deputy assistant attorney general as well, as well as Laura Barron-Lopez, the White House correspondent for PBS.

Laura and Harry, thank you so much for joining me today.

Harry, I want to ask you first about this break that the Manhattan grand jury is going to be taking. As you heard Kara saying there, there are several holidays coming up. But what do you think that this means that this grand jury is going to be taking a break for several weeks?

HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Yes I have been scratching my head some, Alex, as have others, in the one-day delay, two-days delay. This is more like flabbergasting.

And he's the big point here is, the DA's office has to have known about it, has to have planned for it. So is it really just a sort of administrative little bump in the road that we have always -- for some reason, we're just learning about it now?

And your -- the reporting is important that I hadn't realized. Apparently, they could still go forward before the 5th. Something is really -- this is a very unusual development to happen when the table is completely set, as it is for an indictment. It may turn out to be an innocent administrative solution, but I find it very perplexing that they're calling -- stopping the linebackers right where they are.

MARQUARDT: Well, Kara did note that they're scheduled to take that break on April 5. So there is -- there could be some movement before then.

But, Harry, I want to stick with you and ask you about Mike Pence. We did just learn 24 hours ago that a federal judge ruled that he has to testify about conversations that the former vice president had with Donald Trump in the lead-up to the January 6 investigation. Now, we know that Pence has been fighting that subpoena from the special counsel, Jack Smith.

Here is Pence responding to that judge's ruling yesterday. Take a listen.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am pleased that the judge recognized that the Constitution speech and protection clause applies to my work as vice president.

I have nothing to hide. At the end of the day, we will obey the law. And -- but, right now, we're evaluating what the proper course is.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MARQUARDT: So, Harry, Mike Pence saying: I have nothing to hide. I have a Constitution to uphold.

Do you take that as he won't be putting up much more of a fight over giving the grand jury this testimony?

LITMAN: I take it as the opposite.

First, he's putting a nice face on it, saying: I'm pleased.

What the court really said is, you have to testify about everything that Smith needs, all the one-on-one, in particular, conduct with Trump when he was haranguing you in vulgar terms to act illegally.


And that, the court said, you have to testify, but just recognize there might be some protection. That's not a victory for Pence. But in his in his talking about the Constitution, I took him to be saying: I'm going to try my luck and the court of appeals. This is at least a new area that hasn't been gone into that much. Maybe I can get a little bit more time out of it, under the sort of rubric of protecting the Constitution.

MARQUARDT: Very interesting. So you do think he will continue to resist.


MARQUARDT: I want to ask Laura about the political implications, given that Pence in Iowa today, he's considering running for president in 2024.

How much of a blow politically do you think it will be if he does go ahead and testify? Or, if he continues to fight that, does that really help him politically with that Republican base?

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's the hope, that fighting it will -- could potentially help him with the Republican base, because, right now, we know that the Republican base doesn't really believe in these investigations, doesn't support them, does not think that the former president did anything wrong.

"PBS NewsHour" just had a new poll come out this week that actually showed that 76 percent of Republicans would like former President Trump to be reelected again. And they don't think that these investigations are fair, even though a majority of Americans actually, we found, do think that all of the investigations that are looking into the former president's potential wrongdoing, whether it's the one that Manhattan -- the Manhattan DA is investigating, or the special counsel investigations, are fair.

So, Pence right now is trying to show that he's putting up a fight and that he won't be just willingly going in to speak to the grand jury, because, if he does, the Republican base is not going to be happy about that. MARQUARDT: And at the center of this potential Pence testimony is a

heated phone call that Pence had with Trump on the day of that insurrection while Pence was at the Capitol. Let's take a quick look.


ERIC HERSCHMANN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ATTORNEY: At some point, it started off as a calmer tone, everything, and then became heated.

IVANKA TRUMP, FORMER ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: The conversation was pretty heated.

NICHOLAS LUNA, FORMER ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: So, as I was dropping off the note, I -- my memory -- I remember hearing the word wimp. Either he called him a wimp. I don't remember if he said you are a wimp, you will be a wimp. Wimp is the word I remember.

QUESTION: I apologize for being impolite, but do you remember what she said her father called him?



MARQUARDT: Harry, I think that's the call that you're referencing and that vulgarity you're referencing.

The judge ruling that Pence can still declined to answer questions related to his actions on January 6, but will he have to answer questions about that specific phone call?

LITMAN: Yes, and other one-on-one conversations with Trump as well, including they had weekly lunches during the post-election period.

That's where he's most valuable. What he doesn't have to answer is where -- the things we already know about where he's actually presiding as president of the Senate. That is the heartland of what he's going to have to talk about. And it's going to be gangbusters evidence for Jack Smith.

MARQUARDT: And, in terms of 2024, Laura, we did just hear from the former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in quite strong term, saying that he is not going to support for president -- Trump for president.

He said, "Look, I just can't," when you look at that January 6 choir at that rally in Texas the other day. And he showed a video of it. He said: "I just don't think that that person is appropriate for the presidency."

Those are very strong words, the strongest, arguably, against Trump by any of these potential 2024 Republican candidates. How much do you think that that cracks open the door, if at all, for others, say, DeSantis, Mike Pompeo? How much does that give them license to more directly go after Trump now?

BARRON-LOPEZ: On the issue of January 6 and the former president's involvement in January 6 and inciting that violence, I would -- I don't think that we're going to hear much from candidates like Ron DeSantis on that, because Ron DeSantis, himself, in 2022 supported a variety of election deniers that ran in states -- in swing states across the country.

So he has endorsed and gotten behind people who have lied about the 2020 election, including the former president himself. And I think a lot of those other candidates are also not eager, other than former Vice President Mike Pence, to stand up to Trump on the issue of January 6 and political violence, and the threats that he -- that he has issued against law enforcement officials.

MARQUARDT: All right, well, lots going on in the courts, lots going on, on the campaign trail.

Laura Barron-Lopez, Harry Litman, thank you very much.

LITMAN: Thank you.

MARQUARDT: All right, well, the search for answers in Nashville has turned up new details about the school shooter.


Audrey Hale is the shooter's name. Authorities still digging into and determining why Hale went on that rampage on Monday, killing three children and three faculty members at Hale's former grade school.

We do now have new video showing the frantic, frightening escape for some of the survivors that day. Take a look at this. These are terrified children trying to cross four lanes of traffic to flee the shooting, really, really harrowing footage, captured by a man who was driving by. He spoke to CNN this morning about that moment. Take a listen.


JASON HOFFMAN, HELPED KIDS FLEEING SCHOOL SHOOTING: As I was going down the road to get away from the gunshots, I see police everywhere, and a woman jumping out into -- in front of my car waving her arms. And I noticed there was children behind her.

They came all the way down the hill to the road and jumped out in a four-lane highway, basically, in the road there. And so I stopped the car immediately. We jumped out. The people to the left of me stop, get out. And once they see these kids crossing the road, everybody stopped and got out and made sure they were safe.


MARQUARDT: And the actress Melissa Joan Hart says that her children go to a school nearby and that she was in the area and helped with those same desperate escapes. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MELISSA JOAN HART, ACTRESS: my husband and I were on our way to school for conferences. And, luckily, our kids weren't in today. And we helped a class of kindergartners across a busy highway that were climbing out of the woods that were trying to escape the shooter situation at their school.

So we helped all these tiny little -- little kids cross the road and get their teachers over there. And we helped a mom reunite with her children. And I just -- I don't know what to say anymore. It is -- just enough is enough.


MARQUARDT: Children running across an open highway.

CNN's Carlos Suarez is on the scene in Nashville, where he's been reporting for the past several days.

Carlos, we are starting to get insight into the shooter's state of mind. But a firm motive still seems to be elusive, the police still looking for that. What have you learned?

CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alex, we are getting a better sense of where this investigation stands.

The chief of police here in Nashville spoke to CNN earlier today and was able to provide us with some updated -- some updated information. We know that detectives, they are still going through a notebook. They're taking a look at some of the writings and the statements that were made by the 28-year-old shooter, all in an effort to try to get a sense of a motive, why this 28-year-old decided to do this act.

We know, according to the chief of police, that there were no problems at this school between the shooter when that shooter was a student here. We're also being told that the 28-year-old was never committed to an institution and that, when it comes to this mental disorder, officials, they are still trying to get a better sense of just how long the 28-year-old was seeking medical treatment for this medical disorder.

Now, the chief was also asked whether detectives believe that the parents really did not know that the shooter had seven guns, some of them hidden across the home. And the chief said, look, the detectives believe the parents really only felt -- they only believed that the shooter had this one weapon at home.

Here now is a little bit more about what the police chief told us.


JOHN DRAKE, METRO NASHVILLE POLICE CHIEF: Detectives are looking at the manifesto.

They have been in coordination with the FBI and the TBI and combing through all of the documents, all of the writings, the maps. The maps did have a display of entry into the school, a route that would be taken for whatever was going to be carried out. And so that's very much in the phases as well. There's quite a bit of writing.

It's a notebook. Maybe it has 60 pages in it. I'm not sure how many of the pages are written on, but I couldn't -- I couldn't give you a true estimate on that.


SUAREZ: And just a little bit over an hour ago, my colleague Dianne Gallagher was able to get some additional information from the Nashville Police Department.

We're told that authorities are still trying to piece together -- trying to piece together a timeline from the moment when the 28-year- old left home and came to the school. We're being told that detectives are looking into the possibility that the shooter made a stop between leaving home and coming to the school.

Alex, in some of my reporting yesterday, we were able to confirm that authorities are looking into the -- rather, authorities were able to confirm that a mall was mentioned in some of the writings and the statements that were left behind by the shooter.


And so, again, it appears that authorities are trying to get a better sense of whether or not this 28-year-old stopped somewhere between home and coming to the school -- Alex

MARQUARDT: Big questions about whether the shooter had intentions beyond that school.

Carlos Suarez, thank you very much for all your reporting there in Nashville.

We are joined now by Nashville City Councilmember Bob Mendes.

Councilman, thank you so much for being with us today. We know it's only been 48 hours, and your community is still reeling from this. So, our thoughts, of course, are with everyone in Nashville.

I first want to get your reaction to hearing about these children, along with these teachers, sprinting through the woods and crossing that highway to try to escape this shooting.


I mean, right within the first couple hours, there were so many stories going around town about -- people aren't immediately reunited with their children. Even in the best of circumstances, it was several hours before parents were reunited with their kids.

And it's really just sickening, shattering to think that you would have to do that as a parent.

MARQUARDT: And, Councilman, right after the shooting, the police chief did float the possibility, the possibility that there was some resentment by the shooter towards the former school where they were a student.

Have you learned anything more, in your capacity on the council, about the attacker, about this possible motive, and the specific emotional issues that the police have talked about Audrey Hale having, that Audrey Hale was getting treatment for?

MENDES: Yes, we don't have any special knowledge on the council.

But law enforcement authorities are seeming to be deliberate in how they're going about gathering and sharing that information. Honestly, it's -- some of the information that has been put out seems contradictory. And I think -- I'm assuming we're going to have to wait a little bit longer to get clarity about exactly what the problem was.

There's talk about it having been a mall as a potential other location. There's some talk around town about maybe it was another school. And we just don't really know those details right now, other than to know that it was a harrowing, terrible experience.

MARQUARDT: Yes, that, it certainly was.

Mr. Mendes, we know that Tennessee has no red flag laws, as they're known. And, at the same time, the police told CNN, again, this was someone, Audrey Hale, had emotional issues, was under a doctor's care. Hale's parents did not believe that Hale should have guns. And Hale apparently managed to convince the parents that there were no more guns in the house.

But what do you think needs to be in place so that all of those factors, which were known at least by some people, do not lead -- or -- sorry -- rather, do lead to some kind of notification to the proper authorities?

MENDES: Well, the reality is that the state of Tennessee has some of the loosest gun laws in America.

And the state prohibits local governments like here in Nashville from making any laws of our own regarding guns. And so we know that guns are flooded all over America, including the streets of Nashville, and we're, unfortunately, locally not allowed to have any rules about that.

And since the state of Tennessee doesn't have any rules, it's -- it -- dealing with mental illness is hard. Dealing with having so many guns on the street is hard. Talking to constituents this morning, one of the common threads that I heard was that there's a feeling of helplessness. Even if we wave a magic wand and figure out how to help folks in emotional distress and get commonsense gun laws in place, you have so many guns on the streets already that it will -- it's not clear it would actually help in the short term.

There's definitely a sense of frustration and helplessness from a lot of people I'm talking to. MARQUARDT: Yes, helplessness, anger, sadness, so many challenges on so many fronts for Nashville and cities like yours all across the country.

Nashville City Councilmember Bob Mendes, thank you so much for your time today. Appreciate it.

MENDES: Thanks a lot.

MARQUARDT: Now, it could be a game-changer in the deadly opioid epidemic, the FDA announcing you no longer need a prescription to buy the overdose-reversing drug Narcan. But what is the cost if insurance is not involved?

Plus, the popular FOX News hosts who may have to take the stand in the case accusing them of parroting election lies to millions of their viewers.

And why senators started sparring in a hearing over labor practices at Starbucks.




SANDERS: I'm worth $8 million. That's good news to me. I'm not aware of it.


That's a lie.



MARQUARDT: It has been hailed as a potential game-changer in the opioid epidemic. The FDA has now approved the lifesaving overdose treatment Narcan for over-the-counter use.

The drug is known to reverse an opioid overdose in its tracks.

CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us now.

Elizabeth, this will now be much more widely available. How easy is it to use?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Alex, it's so easy to use. It is just a nose spray. It has saved so many lives.

And before, sort of as we speak, it's available without a prescription, but you have to ask the pharmacist for it. It's behind the pharmacist counter. So you have to know it's there. You have to not be embarrassed. Now it'll just be on the shelf with the aspirin and the shampoo and the toothpaste.


So, let's take a look at why this had to be done. This graph is so dramatic. What it is showing is the number of opioid deaths from 1999 to 2021. It's pretty horrifying. And when you see the numbers just written out, it's really quite horrible.

In 2021, more than 80,000 people in the United States died from opioid overdoses. And as a parent, this just turns your stomach. About 90 -- I'm sorry -- about 9,000 children and teens died between 1999 and 2016. So, basically, two questions are sort of out here with this news.

One is, a lot of people are saying, why didn't they do this before? People were urging the FDA to do this years ago. The second question is, how much will this cost? I mean, this is Narcan. It's extremely effective. It works really well. It's easy to use. But if the price is very high, then, in a way, this is kind of all for naught -- Alex.

MARQUARDT: Elizabeth Cohen, thank you very much for breaking that down for us.

Joining us now is Dr. Rahul Gupta. He is the director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Doctor, thank you so much for joining us on this very important and exciting day.

Narcan, as Elizabeth just noted -- and I incorrectly said earlier that it was not available without a prescription, but it is available. It is now. It has been available without a prescription. So why does this move to make it available over the counter change things so dramatically?


I can tell you, as a physician, after administering hundreds of doses of naloxone, or Narcan, as we call it, it's really important that we continue to do everything possible in our power to make this lifesaving drug available to anyone and everyone across the country.

So, the fact is that we have produced and provided unprecedented and historic resources to states and communities to get the ability to purchase naloxone, but it's still -- there's a lot of inconsistency across communities. And folks who need it often aren't able to get it as easily as possible.

We know that four out of five, as you just mentioned, deaths that are occurring of the 100,000 are because of opioids like fentanyl. So, it becomes even more important that we get naloxone in the hands of anyone and everyone. And so making it over the counter, very easily accessible, is going to be an important part, an important tool of that toolbox to save lives.

MARQUARDT: How much of an issue has the question of stigma been in preventing people from just getting it?

GUPTA: Well, stigma is, to me, as a provider, one of the most important ones.

It exists not only in communities and neighborhoods, but also within the health care itself. So, this is going to be an important piece, where people can just walk in, pick it up, as they would Tylenol or any other medication, and be able to pay for it and go. It's going to be important.

But, at the same time, we want to make sure that pharmacies are stocking it when it's available and people are encouraged to access it. Stigma still pervades when we talk about addiction and mental health. And these are the things that -- these type of efforts are going to help us reduce that stigma.

MARQUARDT: But, Doctor, perhaps the biggest question is, what is this going to cost? And will it continue to be covered by some insurance?

GUPTA: Well, this is important for us. It is a very important priority of President Biden to make sure that the cost of medications overall are affordable and health care is accessible.

So, in that tone, we're going to continue to monitor the -- obviously, the product itself, as Narcan, to make sure that this is not becoming beyond the reach of people. But, at the same time, we will encourage businesses, restaurants, banks, construction sites, schools, others to think about this. Think about it as a smoke alarm or a defibrillator to make it as easily accessible, because it's not just you.

It could be your neighbor. It could be a family friend, person at work or school who might need it. So it's very important to have that access while we continue to monitor the pricing of this and provide unprecedented resources for states and communities to also purchase naloxone.

MARQUARDT: Are you able to put a dollar figure on it?

GUPTA: Well, you know that it is going to be up to the companies to do the pricing.

But they need to know and we are asking these companies to ensure that this lifesaving medication remains accessible and affordable to everyone who needs it. So it's going to be important for us to make sure that we are watching and monitoring that pricing structure, so it remains within the reach of people.

That's one of the things that the president has been very clear, that we have got to make sure that these lifesaving medications, as well as treatment, is accessible across no matter where you live, rural or urban, rich or poor. We want to make sure that it's accessible across broad swathes of people.