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Oklahoma Death Row Inmate Richard Glossip Denied Clemency; Americans Stuck In Sudan Express Anger At U.S. Government; Eli Lilly: Drug To Treat Diabetes Also Helped Patients Lose Weight. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired April 27, 2023 - 07:30   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Posting about it, calling it a scam and fake, could put him in further liability -- jeopardy.

KATIE CHERKASKY, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, there's a couple of things that could happen with that. So if the judge has asked and warned him not to discuss the case, so there could be a potential contempt finding. There could also be an allegation that he's incited some sort of violence if people get behind him and think that he is being targeted in that sense.

And obviously, there's -- the point is that he is at trial in the first place because he said this didn't happen. So is this a second defamatory statement? I think that that's a real possibility here, too. If she wins the trial and he's continuing to make further defamatory statements, then that's actionable and could be on summary judgment found --

HARLOW: Really interesting.

CHERKASKY: -- against him. So, certainly.

HARLOW: And summary judgment, meaning they don't even go to trial.


HARLOW: They just say --

CHERKASKY: It could be the case, yes. If she's --


CHERKASKY: -- if he's found liable here, then absolutely.

HARLOW: Thank you, Katie.

CHERKASKY: Yes. Thank you.

COLLINS: Thanks, Katie.

This morning Americans are stuck in Sudan. They say they are being forced to make, quote "life or death decisions." They have a new message for the U.S. government this morning.

HARLOW: Also, clemency denied for Oklahoma death row inmate Richard Glossip even though the parole board's vote ended in a 2-2 tie. Where can this possibly go now as his execution date approaches?






COLLINS: A parole board in Oklahoma has declined to spare the life of death row inmate Richard Glossip after a 2-2 tie vote. He is now scheduled to be executed May 18.

The 60-year-old Glossip is a former hotel manager. He was convicted of ordering the murder of his boss back in 1997. To be clear, he was accused of being the mastermind, not actually committing that murder. But recent investigations have cast doubt on his conviction.

Glossip's case has drawn many supporters -- very public ones -- state lawmakers, Kim Kardashian -- even Oklahoma's attorney general who in a very unprecedented move attended yesterday's board meeting to advocate for clemency.

One Republican state lawmaker told CNN the case highlights a systemic problem in Oklahoma.


KEVIN MCDUGLE, (R) OKLAHOMA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Yes, I will stand against the death penalty. And I will stand against the D.A.s of Oklahoma who believe that they never make mistakes and they just want everyone to rubberstamp and believe that everything they say and do is clear, and that we should approve them to put people to death because they say so. It's egregious.


COLLINS: Joining us now is Brynn Gingras who has been covering this case for a long time. I mean, to hear that from a Republican state lawmaker in Oklahoma --

HARLOW: A no-death penalty Republican state lawmaker.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, yes, and he wasn't the only one. There were others who actually spoke at this hearing yesterday. It lasted for 2 1/2 hours.

Now, I want to clear something up because this is so astounding to me watching it yesterday -- is that this panel -- the board of pardon and parole -- it's a five-member panel. One person had to recuse themselves because they are the husband of the chief prosecutor who prosecuted this Glossip case in 2004. So that leaves you down to four people on this panel and it was a 2-2 vote. And since there's no majority, that means clemency was not granted.

Now, that is something that the attorney for Glossip is going to challenge. He already has. And Kevin McDugle, who you just heard from there -- he's going to go right -- he went right to the governor's office after that hearing to arrange a meeting to figure out what next steps are.

But as Don Knight said yesterday, Richard Glossip -- he's down but he's not out. Many people spoke in favor of this clemency yesterday. Again, the attorney general. His attorney, who said Richard Glossip has behind bars for 26 years. The only infraction that he has is having a charging cable in his possession. Even his wife spoke out, and Glossip himself. I want you to hear from him.


GLOSSIP: I'm not a murderer and I don't deserve to die for this. Please give Gov. Stitt a chance to commute my sentence.


GINGRAS: Now, the victim's family -- Barry Van Treese -- many members spoke at this hearing as well. They said they want justice. They wanted this execution to move forward.

Again, clemency has not been granted. What happens next? Well, Knight is now going to the U.S. Supreme Court.

HARLOW: They already filed.

GINGRAS: They already filed. The governor can issue a reprieve and push this execution back 60 days. It's unclear if that's going to happen. But really, again, time is running out. There really aren't many options left for Richard Glossip.

HARLOW: I'm always just so struck by the attorney general saying yesterday, "I believe it would be a grave injustice to execute an individual whose trial conviction was beset by a litany of errors." And now, with a 2-2 tie vote on top of that --

GINGRAS: It just seems -- I mean, he said it's a problem in this state. How do you even have a hearing when there aren't all five members there? You don't have a fair shot, it seems. But this is something they have to address in Oklahoma.

COLLINS: Wow. All right, Brynn, thank you so much.

GINGRAS: All right.

HARLOW: We are getting reports of new clashes and gunfire in the capital of Sudan's surrounding areas this morning, undermining the shaky, iffy, 72-hour ceasefire that was set to expire today.

Food and medicine, and supplies dwindling. Hospitals overrun with the wounded as diplomats and foreign nationals scramble to leave the country. There's mounting anger from Americans who have been left to navigate the dangers on their own and who feel abandoned, frankly, by the U.S. government.

Our Kylie Atwood is live at the State Department. Kylie, we were hearing earlier this week reporting from our colleague Sam Kiley that the U.S. was thinking about some more evacuation plans at the Port of Sudan, et cetera. What can you tell us about where all of this stands now? I know you spoke to some of these Americans who are still stuck there.

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, the family members that we spoke to -- these are Americans in the U.S. who are helping their American family members in Sudan get out of the country -- essentially feel like they're doing it on their own. They're frustrated by the lack of support as they navigate this complex and obviously, dangerous situation.

One American telling us that she was disgusted by the lack of support that they have received for these American citizens who are obviously trying to navigate to safety right now.


And these Americans are also describing to us what the conditions are like on the ground for their family members. Listen to what they had to say.


IMAD, FAMILY MEMBERS STUCK AT SUDAN BORDER: They're stuck at the border. There's no water. There's no food. The border is essentially a humanitarian crisis. And they're not the only Americans who are facing this issue.

MAISOUN SULFAB, FAMILY MEMBERS STUCK AT SUDEN BORDER: The wait time at the border is many days. Children are crying and they're just laying on the ground. It's a desert. Even if you have cash you can't buy anything because there is nothing. It's a desert and they're just stranded.


ATWOOD: Now, we should note that the U.S. government says that they are in close contact with these citizens who are trying to get out of the country. That they are actively facilitating these evacuations. But what they aren't doing is flying out these American citizens.

So we know that there was that evacuation of the U.S. diplomats over the weekend and there are no plans at this point to do that for these citizens, with the U.S. government saying that it would actually be more dangerous for the citizens if they did that. So what they're doing is directing them to these overland routes. Now, some of the Americans we talked to haven't had a lot of back-and- forth with the State Department to even identify those overland routes that are being run by other countries and other multilateral organizations. We know that the U.S. government is flying some drones overhead to make sure that they don't run into violence along the way. But the bottom line here is that they just feel that they're navigating an incredibly tense, troublesome situation without the full support --


ATWOOD: -- of the U.S. government.

HARLOW: Wow. Kylie, I'm so glad that you spoke with them. We're wishing all of them well. Thank you very much.


COLLINS: Also this morning, the market for injectable weight loss drugs might be getting bigger. We're going to discuss the safety, though, and the wider implications of this craze.

HARLOW: Before that, we go to break and there's this.




HARLOW: Around 1,500 items that once belonged to the late Freddie Mercury are going up for auction, including never-before-seen handwritten draft lyrics to that famous song, "We Are the Champions." Also up for grabs, his Tiffany's mustache comb, his guitar, and his famous crown with the accompanying cloak expected to sell for $100,000.

COLLINS: I love Freddie Mercury --


COLLINS: -- so I'm going to have bid on those things.

HARLOW: Good luck.



HARLOW: New this morning, pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly says its injectable drug Tirzepatide help people with a -- with diabetes lose an average of 34 pounds over 17 months. It's currently used and approved by the FDA just to treat type II diabetes but they want the FDA to approve it to treat just obesity.

I spoke with the company's medical director in the last hour.


DR. NADIA AHMAD, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, TIRZEPATIDE OBESITY, ELI LILLY: I think we really need to embrace and acknowledge as a society that when we're talking about weight management we're talking about obesity -- a chronic, serious medical disease that deserves treatment.


AHMAD: And so, this chronic treatment is often chronic.


HARLOW: So if they get that approval it would add to the current ongoing craze over Ozempic, another drug meant for diabetes. It has become such a weight loss fad for non-diabetics and experts say it's contributing to a shortage of the drug for those with diabetes.

Let's talk about all of this with Dr. Dhruv Khullar. He's a physician and assistant professor of health policy at Weill Cornell Medical and a contributor to The New Yorker. And Emme, founder of True Beauty Foundation, model, and body appreciation advocate. I love that title. It's great to have you guys very --



HARLOW: -- very much.

So, a lot of questions whether the FDA is going to approve this. But I think it's the bigger question of what does this do to us as a society. That I think we've made a lot of progress on body appreciation in recent years, or I hope we have.

EMME: Yes.

HARLOW: And now is just like you should be on Ozempic or Tirzepatide because you can get skinnier?

KHULLAR: Yes. I mean, it's a great question. I think recognizing what these drugs are meant to do and how they work I think is the first step to understanding the way so much they might be misused.

And so these drugs originally were developed as diabetes drugs. They are very effective for that indication. And they are very effective for people who have excess weight and who are obese to lose weight.

And so what they do, at least Ozempic and Wegovy -- these drugs work by mimicking a hormone called GLP-1. And what that does is -- it's a hormone that's produced in our intestines after we eat and it does a few things. It goes to our pancreas. It encourages our pancreas to secrete

insulin. It lowers our blood sugar -- really important for people with diabetes. It also affects our stomach. And so it has our stomach empty more slowly so we feel more full. And it has receptors in the brain to make us, again, feel more full and eat less.

And for those reasons it's very effective. People end up losing 15, sometimes 20 percent of their body weight if they are in that higher BMI category.

Now, when we get to people who are trying to lose a few weight -- a few pounds who are of normal weight or doing it for cosmetic reasons, that's where I think it becomes more problematic and more controversial.

EMME: Absolutely. It really is.

COLLINS: And what are your concerns with it?

EMME: I'm concerned that we're going to be triggering a mass population that really doesn't need the drug like the diabetes II, and trigger those that are susceptible for eating disorders to fall into this. And this obsession with the thinnest at any cost -- there's -- we did so much work. You know, it seems like we've done --


EMME: -- so much work --


HARLOW: I know.

EMME: -- to get and embrace that all bodies are good bodies -- let's just put that on the table -- and it's up to us to take care of each one but not to fall into this obsession that we have to be something that we -- you know, 20 pounds -- well, what -- we need to lose 20 pounds if that's not good for our heart and -- or maybe not. We don't need to lose 20 pounds. Why do we have to use another person's -- another person's drug that needs it for lifegiving fortitude?

HARLOW: Even if there is enough on the market and we could stop having this shortage for some diabetes patients, which is really troubling, there's also the accessibility issue with -- the comparable drugs are $1,500 or $1,300.

EMME: It's expensive.

HARLOW: And there's a real issue of -- so if you're on a lower -- I mean, any normal income you can't pay that. That's a lot of money. So then is it just going to be the rich people who want to be thin?

EMME: That's the problem. Also, for the people who aren't rich and they're putting all their money into these drugs, how long is it going to sustain?

HARLOW: Well, you have to take it forever. The doctor told us that.

COLLINS: The doctor --

EMME: Well, you can't.

COLLINS: That's the thing -- is that once you stop taking it you gain the weight back, right?

KHULLAR: That's exactly right. And so there's a few issues here. One is that there are side effects to these medications and so, fortunately, they're not as severe as prior generations of weight loss medications that cause really severe cardiovascular complications.

In this case, most of the complications are gastrointestinal. People suffer nausea --

EMME: Awful (PH).

KHULLAR: -- diarrhea, vomiting. They have these types of -- they can have these types of side effects in any case.

The other issue is that really, when you stop taking the medications the weight comes back. And so, for a lot of people this has to be a lifelong type of enterprise. And if it's not covered by insurance -- and at this point, it is not covered by Medicare and most Medicaid programs. They do not cover it purely for weight loss. They will cover it for diabetes but not purely for weight loss. And for people to pay $800, $1,100, $1,300 a month every month for years and years -- that is not a sustainable proposition.

EMME: That's exactly right.

HARLOW: Right, but --

EMME: It's unsustainable.

HARLOW: -- I feel like we're all poo-pooing on this a little. Look, I am skeptical of -- for certain reasons, but I also recognize how severe of a health crisis obesity is, especially in America.

EMME: Yes, but that's for them.

HARLOW: So if this is that effective --

EMME: It's effective for people with type II diabetes, so that's what it's designed for. For anyone else that has either -- they, in their minds, want to lose a little bit of weight, we have to go back to let the people who need the drug get the drug --

HARLOW: Yes, but what about obese -- if it works well for obesity without type II diabetes should we be thinking about this for those people just for obesity?

EMME: Well, it's not sustainable. But it's not sustainable. If you're going to -- well, it's going to help people with type II diabetes and that's really the point. We're taking away a drug from people who actually could really use this to lose weight.

HARLOW: Unless they make enough.

KHULLAR: Yes. So there's an important kind of distinction. So, Ozempic is approved for diabetes but its sister drug, which is Wegovy -- it's actually FDA-approved for weight loss in people --


KHULLAR: -- with obesity. And so we can and we should be using it for that indication.

One thing to note here is that what I think it helps do is help people understand that obesity and weight gain is a biological process. People have been for decades thinking of it as a moral failing, as a behavioral problem, as a weight -- lifestyle problem. That is not the way to think about obesity. And these drugs can help us think a little bit about obesity as this is a biological process. A lot of this is genetically determined and we're using a biological remedy for people who need it to bring down their weight to a safer level.

EMME: I'm concerned about eating disorders. I really, really am. I'm concerned and I think --


EMME: -- the general public is really concerned when they're seeing friends and people that are using an injectable instead of getting out into nature and walking, and eating healthfully, and enjoying and accepting the diverse body -- like, the bouquet of beauty that we're supposed to be. We're definitely not supposed to be the same. And that messaging -- we need more of that messaging instead of saying take a drug. Give yourself an injectable --


EMME: -- and everything is going to be OK. It's not.

COLLINS: And it's certainly become --

EMME: It's actually scary.

COLLINS: It's become quite a craze.

Emme, Doctor, thank you both for sharing those two perspectives on this. Really important for this.

KHULLAD: Thanks very much.

EMME: Thanks so much.

HARLOW: This bouquet of beauty. I like that.

COLLINS: All right. Also this morning, we're tracking another top story that is the headline in several newspapers. Prosecutors say that the accused Pentagon leaker had more information than we previously knew and that he actually also tried to destroy evidence. We're going to show you the new photos from inside his bedroom that they showed in court yesterday.




Video of a bull running for cover in a hail storm in Dublin, Texas.


COLLINS: The bull is the best part of that.

HARLOW: The best part? Good morning. We bring you the bull. That was a bull running for cover as hail the size of tennis balls hammered parts of Texas. The south bracing for more severe weather. Hail storms and possible tornadoes today.

COLLINS: Plus, we are now hearing from Tucker Carlson after he was abruptly fired from Fox News. There is new reporting in The New York Times about explosive text messages that may have led to the breaking point.

HARLOW: Chilling new details about the suspected Discord leaker. Photos released of the arsenal inside his house and evidence he allegedly tried to destroy.

This hour of CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.

COLLINS: We start this morning with Tucker Carlson, the former Fox News host, speaking out for the first time since he was fired. Last night he posted this video, which has been viewed millions of times now on Twitter, as we are learning new details about why Fox got rid of its highest-rated star.