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Bill Cosby Faces New Sexual Assault Lawsuit; ACLU: 491 Anti- LGBTQ+ Laws Introduced Across America In 2023; Trump And DeSantis Trade Barbs On Campaign Trail. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired June 02, 2023 - 07:30   ET



ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK, FORMER FEDERAL AND NEW JERSEY STATE PROSECUTOR: That goes over to the attorney general, Merrick Garland. Important to note the attorney general has to give -- and I quote the law here -- great weight to whatever Jack Smith has to say, so he doesn't necessarily have to agree with Jack Smith. If he disagrees, by the way -- Merrick Garland -- that gets reported to Congress and we find out about that in the American public.

And, of course, Erica, bigger picture, we've got the Mar-a-Lago investigation being handled by Jack Smith and we have the January 6 investigation. Of course, Trump also has been indicted in Manhattan and he has a trial date set for next March. And we have the Fulton County D.A., which seems to be gearing up potentially to indict later this summer.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: It's going to be a very quiet summer for you, my friend.

HONIG: Busy summer.

HILL: I'm glad you're just going to be relaxing at the beach, Elie.

HONIG: Let's do it.

HILL: Thank you -- Rahel.

RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN ANCHOR: Well, coming up, a new sexual assault lawsuit against Bill Cosby. Those details coming up. We'll be right back.


HILL: A former Playboy model is suing disgraced comedian Bill Cosby, accusing him of drugging and raping her more than 50 years ago.

Victoria Valentino filed a civil lawsuit against Cosby in Los Angeles on Thursday. She alleges that in 1969 she and a friend went to dinner with the actor where he gave them each pills. According to the lawsuit, he then drove them to an office where she and her friend passed out. She says she eventually woke up and says that Cosby raped her.


CNN's Camila Bernal is live in Los Angeles with more of these details. Is Valentino talking about why she's decided to file this lawsuit now?

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erica, she's saying that it's time for accountability and she's suing Bill Cosby for both sexual battery and sexual assault. Now, she's able to do that right now because of a new law here in California that allows these civil lawsuits to go forward that would otherwise be barred by an expired statute of limitation.

Now, what she's saying here is that she met Cosby in 1969 and this was after the loss of her son. So she says that sometime later she ran into him at a cafe and he invited her to dinner with her friend. She went to dinner and at that dinner she says he took advantage of her grief, offering these pills and telling everybody that if they took these pills they would feel better.

She says she wanted to go home after the pills because she was dizzy and nauseous but instead, he went to -- or he took them to her -- to his office and that's where she alleges rape.

Now, here is part of her statement and why she is saying that she wants to file this lawsuit. She says, "The trauma he inflicted upon me affects not only me but my children and grandchildren. By breaking my silence and speaking my truth, I hope this serves as my legacy to my family and shows those survivors who have yet to find their voices that hope and healing are possible."

Now, it is important to point out that Bill Cosby has denied all of these allegations and through his publicist, also released a statement saying this. "Victoria Valentino has skirted from town to town promoting her alleged allegations against Mr. Cosby to anyone who would give her the platform without any proof or facts." And he goes on to say that essentially, it is way too late for all of this. But again, he is denying all of these allegations, Erica.

HILL: Camila Bernal, appreciate the update this morning. Thank you.

SOLOMON: In a move rarely seen in this country, a gun shop owner in Georgia is closing his business after the recent uptick in mass shootings involving children.

Jon Waldman opened Georgia Ballistics in March 2021 because he wanted a career that was pandemic lockdown-proof. Well, that year, almost half a million guns were sold in the state. But as sales increased so did mass shootings.

He spoke with CNN's Abby Phillip last night about why he's closing.


JON WALDMAN, CLOSING GUN STORE AFTER SPIKE IN CHILD SHOOTINGS: It's really the kids. My son keeps seeing it. My son is going through mass shooting tragedies at school. He's going through all the training. It's nothing like that when I went to school and it's sad that he has to live like that. But at the same time, it's also my responsibility because I sell higher-end items that could be used like that. And I don't ever want to sell something that could be used against my kid, let alone anybody else's.


SOLOMON: He said he's now working on getting rid of his stock of guns and ammunition. It's certainly not something we see a lot.

HILL: No, it's not, and it's such an important point though about how differently kids are growing up and this is normal for them to have that training --


HILL: -- and that's remarkable.

SOLOMON: But rare to see someone put their money where their mouth is.

HILL: It is. It really is. It's an interesting story.

Well, June, of course, is Pride Month and it's something that's been getting so much more attention and rightful recognition over the last several years. And yet, now a number of companies are facing boycotts and even threats to their employees for showing support to the LGBTQ+ community.

Montana State Rep. Zooey Zephyr, who was censured by Republicans in her state, is with us live in studio to discuss.



HILL: June is National Pride Month and the LGBTQ+ community is raising the alarm around the record number of bills which have been introduced across this country specifically targeting the community. There are restrictions on gender-affirming care, tightened regulations on school curriculum, laws restricting trans youth access to sports, efforts to ban drag performances flooding state legislatures.

You may remember this scene as well from Montana back in April when State Rep. Zooey Zephyr spoke out against one of these proposed bills. She ended up being censured by state Republicans.

Within the past week, we have seen a spike in the backlash to companies as well supporting Pride Month -- selling Pride merchandise.

Joining us now is Montana State Representative Zooey Zephyr. It's nice to have you with us in the studio.

You and I had actually spoken just about a month ago right after you had found out that you were pushing to be reinstated. That wasn't happening in Montana.

Where we stand this morning it is remarkable what we've seen in the last week or two in terms of pushback on companies. They were criticized for perhaps rainbow capitalism a couple of years ago and now there's a criticism for embracing and supporting Pride Month.

I just want to ask you specifically, Kohl's is coming under fire on social media. They had a Pride collection. They had clothing. They had stuff for kids.

And Laura Ingraham -- on another network, an opinion host -- suggested on Twitter that the company does not, in her words, respect common sense or the American ideal.

When you hear words like that -- the American ideal and common sense -- what does that say to you?

ZOOEY ZEPHYR, (D) MONTANA STATE HOUSE: As a legislator, one of the things I think about is when these bills come forward they get talked about as if they're very narrow. This is just about sports. This is just about health care for a certain age group.

But what we see in moments like this is that the people who support anti-LGBTQ bills -- they're not content with a single piece of policy. They want to see us removed from all stores. They want to see us removed from public life.

And to me, that's why it's so important in this moment that we fight back and that our allies, both individuals and corporations, are willing to stand alongside us.

SOLOMON: Representative, ACLU put out some analysis that said by far, most of this anti-LGBTQ legislation is not even passed. But you say even if it's not passed it's still harmful for young people.


ZEPHYR: Yes. The harm comes immediately, even when these discussions are brought up. We know in Montana that there was a trans teen who attempted suicide while watching one of the hearings. That's how her mother found her with the hearing up on the TV.

This is the kind of risk that comes just from the discussion of these bills. And then, as they get passed and enacted it becomes harder and harder because these bills themselves create conditions where having a joyful, meaningful life becomes very difficult for trans people and LGBTQ people.

HILL: You talked about allies. What does it mean, in your view, to be an ally in 2023?

ZEPHYR: It means being unafraid to stand up in the rooms that you are in. I'm in the legislature doing my best to stop harmful policy -- to move the needle with my colleagues -- but that's just one room. Whatever room you're in, whether it's a newsroom, whether it's an office space, a PTA, or an awkward family dinner conversation, have the courage to stand up because right now, LGBTQ people need that support.

SOLOMON: What's your reaction when companies -- corporations try to stand up and then they face the backlash that some are now facing. I mean, what do you think when you -- when you see the backlash that some are facing?

ZEPHYR: I think it's -- when we talk about the breadth of bills attacking the LGBTQ people -- bills attacking our past when they ban our memoirs or ban our collective history in drag. Bills banning our present by banning teaching about us in school or public access to bathrooms. And our future by our health care. I think the companies facing backlash are seeing a sliver of what LGBTQ people are facing with our -- the harassment we're dealing with. And we can't put our identities back up off the shelf.

So it's important that these companies are standing beside us in a moment where we're under more attacks than we have ever been.

SOLOMON: Do you wish Target would have kept some of its merchandise on its shelves? Do you wish maybe Target would have done more?

ZEPHYR: I wish every corporation who is pushing -- putting our Pride products would have the courage to understand that they have LGBTQ employees, they have LGBTQ customers. And by supporting their presence you don't take away anything from anyone else -- you just show that we belong here as well.

HILL: What do you think it is in this moment that has made not just the LGBTQ community but specifically, the trans community such a target? There are -- there are no facts out there that support that the trans community is coming after children, right, and is trying to change things. In fact, from all of our reporting and from members of the trans community I've spoken with it's quite the opposite. People just want to be left alone to live their lives in peace and be their true selves.

Why do you think there is such a focus on the trans community?

ZEPHYR: We know the joy trans people have when they're allowed to transition and we come fully into ourselves. And right now, there's an effort on the right to create a boogeyman much like they attempted to do in the '90s with policy around the anti-gay movement. And we see echoes of the same rhetoric -- the same handful of de-transitioners flown out much like the same handful of ex-gays were flown out. Language in the '90s around gay people, quote, "recruiting" we see resurrected here in calling trans people, quote, "groomers."

It's that harmful rhetoric that they're trying to resurrect but it'll fail for the same reason, and that's because trans people -- we are a part of every community. You are never far from a trans person or someone who loves us, whether you're here, whether you're in your office, or whether you're in the governor's mansion in Montana whose own child is non-binary.

SOLOMON: Representative, thank you. It was wonderful to have you today. ZEPHYR: Thank you for having me today.

HILL: Appreciate it -- thank you.

SOLOMON: Former President Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis escalating their feud at dueling campaign events in Iowa and New Hampshire. We'll get the latest from the trail.

HILL: Plus, Chris Wallace sitting down with Jay Leno for an update on his recovery after two painful accidents. Chris Wallace is also with us on the other side of this break.




GOV. RON DESANTIS, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You have to be mission-focused. You cannot get distracted with any of this. It will require a daily grind for not just one term but I think for two full presidential terms.

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When he says eight years, every time I hear it I wince because I say if it takes eight years to turn this around then you don't want him. You don't want him as your president.

DESANTIS: Why didn't he do it his first four years?


HILL: That is the sound of the 2024 GOP primary -- in some cases, already getting a little testy. Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis trading barbs while campaigning across Iowa and New Hampshire.

Here's more of what Trump said in a Fox News town hall about DeSantis who is, right now, polling in second place behind him.


TRUMP: I think the one who's second has gone down so much and so rapidly that I don't think he's going to be second that much longer. I think he's going to be third or fourth. He had a very bad today. He got very angry at the press. You're not allowed to get angry at the press.


SOLOMON: A little bit of irony there. The former president was referring to this moment between DeSantis and a reporter at a campaign event in New Hampshire -- listen.


DESANTIS: What are you talking about? I'm out here talking with people. Are you blind?


DESANTIS: Are you blind?

REPORTER: I'm not blind, no.

DESANTIS: Great. So people are coming up to me, talking to me about whatever they want to talk to me about.


SOLOMON: Joining us now with more on this is CNN anchor and host of "WHO'S TALKING TO CHRIS WALLACE?" Chris Wallace. Chris, welcome.

Ron DeSantis no longer tiptoeing around the former president, Donald Trump, now that he's the candidate. He's called out Trump for siding with Disney, accusing him of increasing the national debt, criticizing past legislative bills. Trump, meantime, lashing out about DeSantis' proposal to trim Social Security, Medicare spending -- saying that DeSantis isn't ready for the Oval Office.


I mean, how do you think all of this will play with voters?

CHRIS WALLACE, CNN ANCHOR, CNN HOST, "WHO'S TALKING TO CHRIS WALLACE?": Well, I mean, we secretly -- we don't -- we probably don't want to admit it but secretly, at least, political reporters love it. And the idea of these two guys going toe-to-toe, hand-to-hand, insult- to-insult -- I mean, DeSantis has been a candidate -- a formal candidate for about three days and we can look forward to this for about six or seven, or eight months, depending on how long the nomination battle goes.

I will say this to Ron DeSantis. Be careful what you wish for. I covered the 2016 campaign. I saw Donald Trump up on that debate stage with seven or eight, or 10 other candidates. He's really good at insult politics and he's the winner and undefeated champion of that. You can say well, that's a very questionable title but he's very good at it.

I can remember one debate in Detroit in 2016 where they literally got into an argument -- Marco Rubio and he -- about the size of Trump's hands.


WALLACE: Marco Rubio never recovered from that. Donald Trump didn't blink and he went on to the nomination.

HILL: Yes, I remember that moment well --


HILL: -- as well -- one of many. So, yes, you're right -- buckle up. But for political reporters, it's going to be a lot.

When we look at who you have coming up -- as we take a break from politics for a minute -- on this weekend's show, I love the pairing this weekend. You have Dr. Phil and you have Jay Leno.

So, Dr. Phil joining you -- he's just wrapping up -- I didn't realize it had been -- I knew it was a long time -- 21 years of his talk show ending in the spring.

What did you two talk about? Where is he seeing this, especially the way that he ended and how he's feeling about it?

WALLACE: Oh, he feels great about it. Listen, he's been either number one or number two in daytime television for those 21 years. He's leaving very much on his own terms. And, in fact, he has a deal to start doing some primetime programming.

One of the reasons we wanted to do him today is that the surgeon general just came out -- Vivek Murthy -- with a report about the social harms of social media, especially to kids. And we talk in-depth about that with Dr. Phil.

Is this a clip or --

HILL: I think we have it.

WALLACE: No, I guess not.

HILL: No, we don't.

WALLACE: But in any case -- in any case, what he basically says is that in the early 2000s Apple -- he doesn't single them out but they dropped a bomb on society, which is the iPhone. And he says there are too darn many kids who are sitting there fixed to the iPhone looking -- not thinking about their own lives but living or watching other people's lives. And it's not really their real lives, it's their fantasy, which ends up making them more isolated and feeling worse about themselves.

SOLOMON: And Chris, when you spoke to Leno, he opened up about his long road to recovery following two recent accidents. He also had to get reconstructive surgery for his face. I want to do -- I do want to play a clip of what he said about that.


JAY LENO, COMEDIAN: You know, people think that the skin grafts are expensive. I have a friend who is a mohel and he gave me a bag of them. And boy, I mean, you can't even -- I mean, you can't even tell. There must be 50-60.

WALLACE: It's funny. It doesn't look like foreskin.

LENO: No, no, but when I get excited -- well, never mind. Yes, yes. My whole face --

WALLACE: I walked right into that one.

LENO: -- my whole face tightens up.


HILL: Rethinking every briss I've ever been to right now.


WALLACE: I will tell you this interview is so funny but it's also very revealing because we talk -- you know, it's interesting. Jay Leno, who is a very nice man and genuinely funny, has been kind of the villain in the late-night wars. Leno versus Letterman. Leno versus O'Brien. He talks a lot about that. He talks a lot about his work ethic, which is extraordinary, and why he thinks he got the job to succeed Johnny Carson as the host of the "TODAY SHOW" (sic) and David Letterman didn't.

HILL: Oh, and that has been that.

SOLOMON: And that is what you call a tease.

HILL: There you go. There you go.

Chris Wallace, always great to see you. Appreciate it. Thank you.

WALLACE: See you, guys.


HILL: And, of course, you can catch "WHO'S TALKING TO CHRIS WALLACE?" tonight at 10:00 p.m. right here on CNN.

CNN THIS MORNING continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The yeas are 63. The nays are 36. The 60-vote threshold having been achieved, the bill is passed.


SOLOMON: Good morning, everyone. I'm Rahel Solomon here with the very lovely Erica Hill. Poppy Harlow has the day off.

Crisis averted.

HILL: Yes.

SOLOMON: That's what happened there. The Senate passing the debt limit deal last night just days before a potential economic disaster. We will take you live to the White House where President Biden is preparing to now sign the bill and also address the nation a little later today.

HILL: A contractor, this morning, says he raised the alarm about an apartment building in Davenport, Iowa -- even warning it was a death trap before that building collapsed. As of this morning, three men remain missing.

SOLOMON: And Erica, I don't know if you heard but America has a new spelling bee champion, and that young man is going to join us live this hour on CNN THIS MORNING, which starts right now.