Return to Transcripts main page

CNN This Morning

Supreme Court Protects Access To Abortion Drug For Now; Sudanese Army Says It Has Agreed To Facilitate Evacuation Of Nationals Of Number Of Countries; Texts Show Trump Allies Weighed Using Breached GA Voting Data To Keep GOP Hold On Senate In 2021; Prosecutors Drop Charges Against Alec Baldwin For Rust Shooting; Family Of Halyna Hutchins Have No Plans To Drop Civil Suit Against Alec Baldwin; Long Beach Swimming Areas Closed After Massive Sewage Spill. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired April 22, 2023 - 06:00   ET




AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning everyone and welcome to CNN This Morning. It is Saturday, April 22. I'm Amara Walker.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Thank you for spending part of your day with us. We are creeping towards me.

WALKER: You know what I just realized?


WALKER: I didn't just realize that hopefully my husband's not up yet. It's our 11-year anniversary today.

BLACKWELL: Well, I mean --

WALKER: I was reading out the date April 22. I knew it was our anniversary.

BLACKWELL: It's 6:00 a.m. not 6:00 p.m. So you're good.


BLACKWELL: You're good.

WALKER: Not too late.

BLACKWELL: Here's what we're watching for you today. A major victory for abortion rights supporters after the Supreme Court hands down a decision to protect a widely used abortion pill but the battle is not over. So where does the legal fight go now?

WALKER: Plus fierce fighting in Sudan despite a 72-hour ceasefire. Now U.S. officials say preparations are being made in case diplomatic personnel need to be evacuated. We will have a live report next. BLACKWELL: And a CNN exclusive, lawyers for Hunter Biden set to meet with the Department of Justice next week as scrutiny around a long standing investigation intensifies. This week, an IRS agent seeks whistleblower protections in exchange for information about alleged mishandling of the probe. We'll have the details ahead.

WALKER: Plus 250,000 gallons of sewage shuts down miles of coastline in Long Beach, California. We're going to tell you what officials are saying and what could be the potential impact on some of California's most popular beaches.

Women across the U.S. continue to have access to a commonly used abortion drug at least for now. Last night the Supreme Court stayed a lower court's order that placed restrictions on the drug mifepristone. It is the first pill in a two-drug cocktail which has been used by millions of women over the two decades it has been on the market so

So justices previously pause the lower court's order, but that freeze had been set to expire at midnight, and the decision from the high court came just hours before the deadline. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, they publicly dissented while the votes of the other justices were not made public.

CNN's Jessica Schneider reports.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Victor and Amara, the Supreme Court's stepping in to protect full access to the abortion pill mifepristone while this appeals process plays out. That means it will be status quo for the administration of this drug. Women can continue to take it up to 10 weeks pregnant. They can continue to receive it by mail and via telehealth visits with their health care providers. And the generic version will remain widely available.

This is exactly what the Biden administration and the FDA, what they were asking for. They warned that if there were restrictions imposed on this drug at any point, there would be confusion and chaos. So now this chaos has really been averted. So where does this go from here? Well, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, there'll be hearing arguments on the underlying issue in this case, and the underlying issue is whether the FDA properly approved mifepristone in 2000.

Those first briefings in the appeal, they actually must be filed on the Fifth Circuit next week. And the case as a whole is being fast track because arguments are set for less than a month from now on May 17. But regardless of what the Fifth Circuit decides, any possible changes to the drug are being put on hold indefinitely by the Supreme Court order.

So women can continue to fully access mifepristone until the Supreme Court acts again at some point, which wouldn't be for months, if at all. Guys?

WALKER: All right, Jessica Schneider, thank you.

Let's bring in CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen now. And Elizabeth, I know you've been talking to doctors in states that allow abortion. They've been watching this closely. What are they saying about last night's ruling?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Amara, they are so relieved. That's the word I keep hearing over and over again. So relieved that they can still use this important medicine to help take care of women who are having abortions and who are having miscarriages because more than half, 53 percent of abortions in the United States are done by medication. They're done by pills. They are not done by surgery.

And this is a very safe medicine. It's been used by millions of women in the United States over the past 20 years. And they actually, if you look at deadly side effects, it is way safer than penicillin. It's way, way safer than Viagra, so they are glad that they can keep using this medicine to care for their patients.

Victor, Amara?

BLACKWELL: Elizabeth, again, you said the doctors are very pleased that they're able to still use this medication to care for their parents but if this ruling had gone the other way and the Texas decision had been allowed to stand, what would doctors have done if they no longer been able to prescribe mifepristone?


COHEN: Right. So let's actually sort of divided the country into two for a minute. There are states where abortion is banned and where doctors can prescribe any of this for a woman to have an abortion. And so that's still the case. They still can't use mifepristone. But in other states where abortion is allowed, they are prescribing this two drug combination in order to do miscarriages and abortions.

It's mifepristone, which is the drug we've been talking about. And another drug called misoprostol. If this had gone the other way, as you said, Victor, if it gone the other way, and mifepristone was no longer available, doctors in states that allow abortions would have just used the misoprostol. They would have just used that one drug. And that can be really problematic.

Studies have shown it doesn't work as well. Women end up having complications often when they use just one drug. And so the doctors I was talking to yesterday before the decision came down, they said this is terrible. If I have to treat my patients with an inferior therapy just because of politicians and judges, they said they were just feel terrible as doctors having to do that, that they would have to watch their patients have complications, not for any particularly good reason but just because a drug in Texas, I'm sorry, a judge in Texas doesn't like this drug.

Victor, Amara?

BLACKWELL: Elizabeth Cohen reporting for us, thank you very much.

Let's talk about the legal angles now. Joining us is defense attorney and former federal prosecutor Shan Wu. Shan, good morning to you six, three conservative court. Now the question is not about abortion, per se. It's a lot about the regulatory powers of the FDA. But are you surprised by the outcome of put, I guess, freezing this decision from Texas?

SHAN WU, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Not too surprised about this outcome of, frankly, I read the motivation of the Supreme Court here as reacting to their terrible public image at the moment, and perhaps a slightly ratcheting back in realization of the enormous public outcry. There was over the Dobbs decision where they overruled Roe versus Wade.

I think you can read between the lines a little bit and see some frustration on the part of Justice Alito. He tries some tricky legal points, obviously, did not persuade his colleagues saying that they actually didn't have enough time to make this kind of decision because they're not doing a full hearing. He also kind of does a little illegal jujitsu trying to say that there's a problem that those seeking the stay of the Texas court haven't shown enough harm to get that stay.

It's kind of tricky, because remember, the original Texas court decision is also a stay. And so that judge thought that the people trying to stop the use of drug had shown enough harm, even though many legal commentators including me felt that that was a very weak showing of harm, and they really lacked standing.

So you can see some frustration there. As we just heard, the real underlying issue on the merits is going to be this FDA approval issue, and that we don't have any hints about but I'm a little bit still pessimistic about that outcome.

WALKER: Really. I -- let's talk about those hints because, you know, I guess as is typical and emergency actions, I guess the justices usually don't give an explanation. They perhaps don't have the time. But if you do the math, it appears that you have the three conservative justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett, who by the way, have voted to overturn Roe v. Wade last summer.

They joined the liberal justices and Chief Justice John Roberts, to block the lower court's rulings against mifepristone and the FDA. Does that signal to you at all if and when this case gets back to the Supreme Court that they will again side with the FDA?

WU: Yes, that's a tough call, Amara. I think this particular stay, I think can be read as then not wanting the disruption that would have ensued as it was because we're just talking about across the country. The merits really go to the issue of whether the courts can second guess the agency expertise.

And this court the conservatives have been very not deferential towards agency of expertise. That's one of the big issues for the conservative agenda is kind of whittling away at deference the agencies. So when they do take it up, and it's not certain they will but pretty sure after the Fifth Circuit gets through with it, there'll be a petition for social order and they probably will accept it.

That times when they'll really grapple with this question of whether to defer to the FDA for these 20 years of saying the drug is safe or whether they're going to intercede on that point and that's where the real issue is going to be joined about how deferential are they going to be towards the scientists and the medical science at the FDA.


BLACKWELL: This has moved pretty rapidly, I mean, rapidly for the federal court system. Since that decision came from the judge in Texas in the Fifth Circuit, does everything slow down now, as we go through this appeals process, we should not expect things to move as quickly as they have over the last few weeks and months?

WU: That's exactly right, Victor. I mean, it's been moving quickly here, because these are all in the mechanism of emergency stays. You have these, you know, really unusual situations where a single judge, a single district court judge can change the entire country by imposing a nationwide injunction.

And then, of course, you had the conflicting decision by the Washington state, federal court judge, and it came to the Supreme Court, not as a full case ready for full briefing and hearing, but again, on the emergency expedited basis, trying to continue to freeze things or unfreeze them, so it's on all in this vehicle of emergency stays. That's why it's moving quickly.

Now it's going to slow down some. The Fifth Circuit has to reconsider this case, maybe on bonk, the full Fifth Circuit, then one or the other side, or both will ask the Supreme Court to hear the case. And so it's definitely going to slow down from now.

WALKER: All right, fascinating stuff. Shan Wu, appreciate your legal expertise as always, thank you.

Well, this morning gunfire and street fighting in Sudan's capital of Khartoum disrupted a 72 hour ceasefire to coincide with the end of Ramadan. More than 400 people have been killed since the conflict between warring generals that began a week ago and the situation could quickly turn into a humanitarian crisis as thousands have already fled Sudan and along with the refugees having to leave.

BLACKWELL: The U.S. is preparing to get diplomats out of Sudan. But the White House says the private citizen should not expect an evacuation.

CNN's Larry Madowo is live in Nairobi this morning. What's the latest there?

LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Victor, Amara, we're now hearing that both sides to this conflict in Sudan have agreed to let a number of nations evacuate the diplomats and citizens out of Sudan. We heard yesterday that the rapid support forces, this is the power powerful paramilitary group that's been battling the Sudanese Armed Forces had agreed to partially reopen all airports to allow for the evacuation of citizens and diplomats at work in Sudan.

And a short while ago, the Sudanese army confirming that after receiving calls from several heads of states around the world, asking for them to allow safe passage for the diplomats and citizens out of Sudan, they've agreed to that. And these evacuations are supposed to begin in the coming hours. Later on they say these are supposed to begin immediately.

Those countries are the U.S., the U.K., France and China. They also say they've been evacuations from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and from Jordan, that's going to be arrayed at some point in the next coming hours. So this is still part of that three day ceasefire. That's began Friday morning at 6:00 a.m. to coincide with the end of Ramadan, the holy month, and the celebration of Eid, which is one of the holiest times in the Muslim calendar.

So it's a big development here. So many countries have been calling and asking these two warring generals, to allow the citizens to leave the country. And now they seem to have agreed to a temporary pause in the fighting so that those that want to leave can be evacuated using military aircraft.

WALKER: We know that the U.S. Department of Defense has said it's deployed additional capabilities to secure the U.S. Embassy there. We know that there are, I believe, the estimate was 16,000 American citizens, many who have dual nationality in Sudan. Do you know what the situation is there in terms of the positioning of Americans there, the U.S. Embassy and possible plans to evacuate Americans?

MADOWO: This week, the Pentagon said, Amara, that it was adding -- it was putting in additional capabilities nearby to Sudan just in case it might need to evacuate diplomats, out of the Khartoum embassy or to secure the embassy itself. The U.S. has a permanent military base in Djibouti, which is close to Sudan. That's Camp Lemonnier.

And this plan would include hundreds of Marines that are stationed there. It will also include additional aircraft that are capable of bringing on the ground units to secure the embassy. The thinking here is that this will be just for U.S. embassy personnel, not for these 16,000 or so Americans that are in Sudan because they are dual nationals.

And I think the White House have pointed out as well that it is not standard practice to evacuate U.S. citizens in any country that didn't do that in the Yemen, in Libya or in Syria when the government's they were collapsing. And they're saying that Afghanistan was a unique situation. And that's not something that they intend to be doing in other situations like this in Sudan.

BLACKWELL: Larry Madowo for us from Nairobi. Larry, thanks so much.

Still ahead, new reporting on two Trump operatives who considered using breach voting data to decertify George's Senate run off in 2021. We'll tell you what their text messages revealed.


Plus, charges are dropped against actor Alec Baldwin after the deadly "Rust" shooting. So what happens now? WALKER: And a massive sewage spill forces miles of Southern California beaches to shut down. What prompted the mess of a subsequent overflow ahead.


WALKER: Now to some new details on the ongoing investigation into Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in the state of Georgia, a CNN exclusive reveals for the first time text messages between two men working with the former president's legal team who are tasked with finding alleged voting fraud.

BLACKWELL: In those messages, the operatives are trying to figure out what to do with data in a breach voting machine from a rural Georgia county and whether they should or even could use that information to try to decertify the state Senate run off in 2021.


Here's one message -- one of the operative writes this. "Here's the plan. Let's keep this close hold. We only have until Saturday to decide if we're going to use this report to try to decertify the Senate runoff election or if we hold it for a bigger moment."

One of the men did not respond to CNN requests for comment.

Now to another CNN exclusive, the investigation into Hunter Biden is heating up as legal teams -- his legal team rather is set to meet with Justice Department officials next week.

WALKER: Sources say the long running probe into the president's son is focused on potential tax crimes and a gun purchase. CNN's Paula Reid has more.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Victor and Amara. We have learned that this meeting between Hunter Biden's legal team and Justice Department officials was actually arranged at the request of Biden's legal team seeking an update on this years long investigation into Biden.

Now at this meeting is expected to be a top career Justice Department official as well as the Trump appointed U.S. attorney who has been overseeing this investigation. He stayed on after Trump left office to continue overseeing this politically sensitive case. But it's unclear if we're going to get any update on exactly what the status of that criminal investigation is.

Now CNN was one of the first to report last summer that the case had narrowed down to just a few potential tax crime charges and a possible charge of false statements related to the purchase of a weapon. But there have been no public developments in that case now in nearly a year, and it's unclear exactly what will happen there and if any charges will be filed.

But in the past few months, we have seen Hunter Biden's legal team become much more aggressive, much more litigious and forward leaning. And part of that is again seeking an update on exactly what is going on in this case. Now all of this comes as news of a whistleblower, a possible whistleblower on Capitol Hill. An IRS agent has written to lawmakers saying that he wants to share his story about his experience overseeing parts of this investigation, claiming that he has evidence that the Biden investigation has been mishandled, that there was allegedly political interference.

This individual also claims to have evidence that would contradict the Attorney General's testimony before Congress, pledging that there would not be and there has not been any political interference. But I want to note that this individual has not yet been granted whistleblower protections. They've not put forth any evidence of these claims, and other promises about whistleblowers related to the Bidens and other people on Capitol Hill have not necessarily yielded what was promised.

We will continue to watch that to see what if anything this person has and how it could potentially impact the criminal investigation. Victor, Amara?

WALKER: All right, Paula Reid, thank you.

Prosecutors in New Mexico officially dropped involuntary manslaughter charges against actor Alec Baldwin. The new facts that prompted that decision.



WALKER: Criminal charges have officially been dropped against Alec Baldwin and the deadly "Rust" shooting. Baldwin was facing involuntary manslaughter charges and the onset death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. But prosecutors say new facts led to the dismissal.

BLACKWELL: This morning after her husband settled his suit, Hutchins, other family members they're continuing. Their lawyer tells CNN that they have no plans to drop their civil lawsuit against Baldwin. They say, in part, "He can run to Montana and pretend that he is just an actor in a wild west movie, but in real life, he cannot escape the fact that he had a major role in a tragedy which had real life consequences for Halyna."

CNN's Chloe Melas explains how prosecutors got here.


ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR AND PRODUCER: So my only question is, am I being charged with something?

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER (voice-over): Alec Baldwin no longer accused after New Mexico prosecutors made a stunning announcement Thursday, quote, "New facts were revealed that demand further investigation and forensic analysis. We therefore will be dismissing the involuntary manslaughter charges against Mr. Baldwin to conduct further investigation." Baldwin reacted on Instagram, posting a photo of his wife saying, quote, "I owe everything I have to this woman, and to you, Luke", his attorney.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were in the room when that lady --

BALDWIN: I was holding with the gun, yes.

MELAS (voice-over): Baldwin admitted to holding the gun that fired a bullet killing Halyna Hutchins, the cinematographer on Baldwin's film "Rust", but told police he did not know he was handed a loaded gun. Baldwin resumes filming on "Rust" this week, with production moved to Montana.

This was Baldwin last year.

BALDWIN: If someone is responsible for what happened and I can't say who that is, but I know it's not me.

MELAS (voice-over): The dismissal is a win for Baldwin's legal team, which challenged the motives and politics of one of the original prosecutors.

ANDREA REEB, FORMER NEW MEXICO SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: It doesn't matter if he's a liberal Democrat, and I'm a conservative Republican. My job has always been to prosecute crimes.

MELAS (voice-over): In February, Baldwin's lawyers filed a motion to remove special prosecutor Andrea Reeb, who at the time of the investigation, was running for state representative in New Mexico.

In an email later revealed in The New York Times, Reeb suggested being involved in the case, quote, might help in my campaign. Both Reeb and the district attorney who hired her ultimately recused themselves. Their replacements dropped the charges against Baldwin. His attorneys saying they, quote, encourage a proper investigation into the facts and circumstances of this tragic accident.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there live ammo that's kept on set?


MELAS: The film's weapons handler, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, is now the sole defendant in the case, facing 18 months for involuntary manslaughter. Her attorney says she will plead not guilty and that, quote, we fully expect at the end of this process that Hannah will also be exonerated.

MATTHEW HUTCHINS, HALYNA HUTCHINS' HUSBAND: Are we really supposed to feel bad about you, Mr. Baldwin?


MELAS (voice-over): Halyna Hutchins' husband has been a vocal critic of Baldwin, saying he should face charges. MATTHEW HUTCHINS, HALYNA HUTCHINS' HUSBAND: The idea that a person

holding the gun, causing it to discharge is responsible is absurd to me.

MELAS: But now justice for Halyna Hutchins moves forward without a star defendant.

ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR: And she was great at her job and she died, and she died. And that's -- that hurts me every day.


MELAS: Victor and Amara, things became official on Friday when the New Mexico prosecutors filed their motion to dismiss the charges against Alec Baldwin pending further investigation. There was also a status hearing, and they have moved that preliminary hearing that was set for May 3rd in a potential trial for June, now that is August 9th. So it will be interesting to see what the district attorney finds in this investigation. Back to you.

WALKER: All right, Chloe Melas, thank you. CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Joey Jackson joining me now. Hey, Joey, so I mean what facts or lack thereof could have led to prosecutors dropping these involuntary manslaughter charges.

JOEY JACKSON, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, Amara, good morning, good to be with you. You know, this is a very troubling prosecution, and it's troubling because of the fact that, listen, someone is dead, Halyna Hutchins is dead, and that's a major tragedy. There's a major distinction, however, Amara, between civil liability relating to negligence and monetary damages and charging someone with a crime.

And what is disturbing to me is that, this occurred in October of 2021, Alec Baldwin was charged in January, OK, January of 2023. You had the ability over 14 months to make an assessment as to that weapon. Where did that weapon come from? What was done with that weapon? Was it secured?

Was it modified? And now we learn 18 months later that there was some modification to your direct question that would have affected the guns' ability to operate, its operability, how it would have been discharged, where it would not have been absent, that modification.

And that goes to two major legal issues. One is, you can't assess someone's negligence and say, they were either negligent or reckless from a legal perspective such that they, number two, caused the death. And so, when you don't have those two components, you can't establish recklessness because of the modification of the gun. It was that modification, not Alec Baldwin.

That number two, caused the fatality that becomes problematic. My issue is why now? I think you need to investigate, assess, evaluate and then charge, not charge and then say, there's new evidence, we have to slow down, that's a problem.

WALKER: Yes, clearly, this case doesn't seem to be as clear-cut, because you first had that -- the special prosecutor on the case resigning, and now you have the new two special prosecutors who dropped the charges, and they're also saying in their decision to drop the charges, that does not absolve MR. Baldwin of criminal culpability, and charges may be re-filed. So this isn't over just yet for Alec Baldwin.

JACKSON: Well, that's what they say. I think by all accounts, it's over. The reality is, is that these prosecutors even charged Alec Baldwin with a crime, Amara, that was not a crime at the time it was committed. What am I speaking about? There's a special enhancement charge, that enhancement charge carries five years in the event you established that you discharged a firearm, leading to a fatality.

And the fact is, is that, that law came on the books in March of 2022, again, this occurred in October, 2021. What are you doing? Why are you charging someone with a crime that was not yet a crime? And so, why do I bring that up in the context of your question regarding re-filing? I'm just not sure that they from the outset really looked at the case, did their investigation, established all of their due diligence, and based upon their due diligence with the gun, with his responsibility or not responsibility, made an assessment to charge.

So, if you have a weapon now that you deemed to have been defective and has been modified, and actually, that was the cause of the death, why are we talking about re-filing? I think it's time for them to come clean, say they did their investigation, there's no criminality here, and we can move on. So I think from my legal perspective, Amara, they can say that, but the realities are, the case is over.

WALKER: What about for armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed? You know, we know that the job of an armorer right, is to ensure that the guns on set do not have live bullets. Where do things stand with her, you think?

JACKSON: So in that -- from that perspective, I think they are not completely similarly situated. And what do I mean? You have an armorer, we see her there, and your job is to provide for the care, custody and control of that particular weapon. Where was that weapon located?


You are going to now put those bullets, hopefully the dummy bullets into that weapon, and as a result of that, you're going to monitor it and pass it on to the actor. That was your job. Now the argument is going to be made that she did all that, and she had no idea that any modification of the weapon would permit it to go off without the trigger being pulled.

So, I think that's the argument, and so I think she stands in a very good legal position with respect to getting her case dismissed as well.

WALKER: And could all of this hanging over the production of "Rust", which has resumed, including, you know, this ongoing civil suit. Do you see that this -- the production of the film could be impacted in any way?

JACKSON: Well, I think the production will be impacted in as much as they will be a lot more careful. I think if anything would have come out of this tragedy where, again, a life has been lost, and that's a major shame. The fact is, is that protocols now will be better. Safety measures will be better.

There will be more evaluation with respect to how weapons are handled, where they're stored. Are you overlooking them? Are you seeing them? So at the end of the day, the hope here, right, not only as it relates to this production, but as to all productions, and that people are safer, and that's something like this won't happen again. That's the hope, and I think that's what we'll see based upon what happened here.

WALKER: Yes, all right, Joey Jackson, appreciate you, thanks.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CO-ANCHOR, NEW DAY WEEKEND: Just ahead, a GOP-led House Judiciary Committee zeroes in on an ex Manhattan prosecutor after the indictment of former President Donald Trump. We'll have the details on his upcoming testimony.



BLACKWELL: Look at other top stories we're watching this morning. Seven miles of the public beach in Long Beach, California, have been closed because 250,000 gallons of sewage spilled into the Los Angeles river, authorities blaming equipment malfunction.

The L.A. sanitation district says a blockage caused an overflow of sewage. The crews finished their first round of clean-up on Friday. They have not said yet when the beach will be reopened.

WALKER: Former Manhattan prosecutor who once led an investigation into former President Donald Trump will testify before a GOP-led House Judiciary Committee in May. Mark Pomerantz was subpoenaed earlier this month as part of the committee's effort to investigate Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg's indictment of Trump.

Pomerantz investigated Trump and his business empire before he resigned from the D.A.'s office last year. He also wrote a book that described his frustration with Bragg's approach to the investigation. Bragg tried to block the testimony, but a federal judge declined to stop it. He will testify before the panel on May 12th.

BLACKWELL: The city of Uvalde has hired a new assistant police chief. Homer Delgado is the current chief of police in Dilley, Texas. He'll start in Uvalde in May. Local media report, the position was created in the months after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary which killed 19 students and two teachers. On that day, the police chief was out of town and with no assistant chief, a lieutenant was placed in charge, but he failed to assume command on the day of the shooting.

A preliminary report by the Texas House Investigative Committee described their approach by authorities as an overall lackadaisical. WALKER: Several people in Washington D.C. were shot late last night

and what police are calling two connected drive-by shootings. Police say seven men were shot when a gunman started indiscriminately firing at people. While investigating that shooting, police got a call about another nearby shooting. At that scene, a 12-year-old girl was hit by gunfire, no one was killed.

Police believe the shootings are connected due to how close the two locations are. This morning, they are still looking for the shooter.

BLACKWELL: The man accused of shooting a six-year-old girl in North Carolina made his first appearance in court. Police say Robert Singletary shot the girl and her parents after a basketball rolled into his yard.

WALKER: Well, he turned himself in, Thursday. And nearly 600 miles away in Hillsborough County, Florida, here is CNN's Dianne Gallagher.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Amara and Victor, the neighbors in Gaston County say they're still trying to process exactly what happened there this week, but they are relieved that the man they say opened fire in a neighborhood full of children because he was angry over a basketball rolling into his yard has been arrested.

Robert Singletary turned himself into authorities in Hillsborough County, Florida, nearly 600 miles from that Gaston County neighborhood where the shooting happened. He waived his right to extradition, and in the coming days, authorities here in North Carolina will likely bring him back to face at least four counts of attempted murder.

Now, we spoke with numerous witnesses to that shooting on Tuesday, they say that Singletary became angry when that basketball rolled into his yard and began yelling at children, as the neighbor said he often did. But what was different this time was when one father came to speak with him about it, asking him not to yell at his kids, Singletary got a gun, they say and began shooting at that man.

That father got away, and that's when neighbors say Singletary turned around and began shooting in the direction where there were numerous children, including six-year-old Kinsley White(ph) and her father, Jamie White(ph), both of them were shot. Jamie White(ph) still suffering from internal injuries to his organs due to a gunshot wound in the back.

Kinsley shot in her face, the doctors removed bullet fragments from her cheek, according to her mother.


Now, once he does get back here to Gaston County, he faces numerous charges, Victor and Amara, including four counts of attempted murder.

WALKER: Dianne Gallagher, thank you. A high dollar heist, more than $15 million in gold and other valuables vanish from a Toronto Airport. What police know and what they don't.


BLACKWELL: So there's a high value heist in Canada that has officials stumped this morning.

WALKER: Yes, police say an air cargo container with more than $15 million worth of gold and other valuables inside were stolen from the Toronto Airport this week, and they're still trying to find out who's behind it? CNN's Tom Foreman with the details.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey Victor, hey Amara, boy, this is just like something from the movies. Canadian authorities say a plane landed at this airport at Toronto, Pearson Airport, Monday evening.


This container was offloaded from the plane, they say it was about 5 square feet, it's not clear to me if they mean 5 square feet or 5 linear feet or 5 cubic feet, but nonetheless, one container was unloaded and moved to a cargo area, a cargo-holding area, and then it simply disappeared. Now, what happened during that time, we don't know.

We know that it had gold in it and other things of value, taking it up to a value of about $15 million, in terms of American money, about 20 million in terms of Canadian dollars here. What happened to it? They don't know. We don't know if there are security cameras involved, we don't know if they've been able to find some people who had some idea of where it was going or how it was going to get there.

In fact, they have not set up to this point, what plane it was on or where it was headed, or if they even think it's still in the country. It's a big mystery right now. The bottom line is, this is added up to a gigantic robbery at a very big -- biggest airport in Canada right now. They say the airport grounds there, very Canadian in the way they describe it, 12,500 hockey arenas in space.

So you get an idea, that's a lot of ground over there they're having to cover. But they're trying to sort through it right now, typically just so you know, in my dealing with Canadian authorities, they often don't reveal as much about investigations in the process as you might get from American police organizations or U.S. police organizations.

So maybe they know more than we know already, but they're not letting on at this point. All we know is that, this money disappeared, great big robbery, no answers yet. Victor, Amara?

WALKER: Really head-scratching case there. It's what I call some precious, very precious cargo. Tom Foreman, thank you. And a programming reminder, Eva Longoria explorers Jalisco, the birthplace of modern Mexican culture. Watch a new "EVA LONGORIA SEARCHING FOR MEXICO" tomorrow night at 9:00 Eastern on CNN.

BLACKWELL: Still to come, the NFL cracks down on betting. A handful of players, including a former first-round pick suspended for violating the league's gambling policy.



WALKER: The Denver Nuggets pushed the Minnesota Timberwolves to the brink of elimination and the NBA Playoffs.

BLACKWELL: Carolyn Manno joins us now with all the action in this morning's BLEACHER REPORT. Hey, Carolyn.

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning to you, both. The Nuggets are certainly proving guys, why they're the top seed in the western conference, they made things look easy on the road last night. So Denver is now just one win away from advancing to the conference semifinals. Back-to-back league MVP Nikola Jokic was a one- man wrecking crew as you might expect.

The Serb putting up 20 points to go with his 12 assists and 11 rebounds. And this is his seventh career playoff triple double, only hall of famer Wilt Chamberlain has more among centers with nine of those games. So Denver wins this one game 3, 121-111, the final, the Timberwolves will now face a very steep uphill climb, as no NBA team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series.

The Atlanta Hawks defending their home court against the Boston Celtics, Trae Young bouncing back from what has been a very disappointing start to these playoffs. He finishes with 32 points in his best performance of the series by far. As a team, the Hawk shot a red-hot 56 percent from the field, they made some really tough looks down the stretch to hold off the Celtics come-back attempts.

So Atlanta beats Boston by 8 to cut that deficit to two games to one. That was critical based on the stat that we just talked about. The Knicks took control of their first round series against the Cavaliers in New York, grabbing a 2-1 lead after hammering Cleveland in this game, 99-79 in front of a sold-out home crowd. That is the first time that Cleveland has been held under 80 points this season.

Jalen Brunson led the team with 21, R.J. Barrett added 19, Madison Square Garden was going crazy. The Knicks are now two wins away from their first series victory in 10 years. New York is a basketball town, when the Knicks are good, it is good to be here. Four more playoff games on the schedule today, the action tipping off at 1:00 Eastern on our sister channel TNT, with the 76ers looking to close out the Brooklyn Nets.

Philadelphia superstar and MVP finalist Joel Embiid reportedly out for that one with the right knee sprain. And the Memphis Grizzlies are going to visit the Los Angeles Lakers in the nightcap with that series tied at one game apiece. And there has been plenty of trash talk there, so that should be a good series.

Elsewhere in sports for you this morning, the NFL has announced the suspension of five players for violating the league's gambling policies. Three of those players, Shaka Toney of the Commanders along with Quintez Cephus and C.J. Moore of the Lions ruled out indefinitely for betting on NFL games in the 2022 season. The Lions 2022 first round draft pick, Jameson Williams and Stanley Berryhill were also banned for the first six regular season games for betting on other sports outside of football, but for doing it on team property.

You can't bet and use any of those apps when you're at a team facility. In a statement, the NFL saying, quote, "a league review uncovering no evidence indicating any inside information was used or that any game was compromised in any way." But those rules are strict, they come with stiff penalties.

And Cubs pitcher Drew Smyly was almost perfect yesterday against the Dodgers. This one was heartbreaking for diehard Dodgers fans. Six outs away from just the 24th perfect game in Major League history when absolute disaster struck on the second pitch of the eighth inning, David Peralta hitting a slow-rolling dribbler down the third baseline and Smyly scooping it up.

But as he started to turn to make throw to first, his own catcher ran into him, flipped over his back, the perfect game ending terribly. The silver-lining, I guess, Smyly still ending up with a 13-0 one hit victory. But when it ends like this, it's just really tough to expect, especially with how allusive that has been. I haven't seen it in a decade and unfortunately --


MANNO: Didn't see it yesterday, either.