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CNN This Morning

DeSantis Eyes Supreme Court to Clinch White House; Prince Harry Testifying in Court; Golden Knights rout Panthers; Social Media Platforms Roll Back Misinformation Measures. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired June 06, 2023 - 06:30   ET



CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: She was shot through that door. Here's the sheriff.


SHERIFF BILLY WOODS, MARION COUNTY, FLORIDA: And what we have to rule out is whether this deadly force was justified or not before we can even make the arrest. And sometimes it becomes difficult. And sometimes it becomes an obstacle. But only a temporary obstacle. Because it will be moved, and the final answer will come forward.


SUAREZ: All right, so the sheriff said that the neighbors have had issues before with at least six calls made to 911 since 2021. The name of that 58-year-old neighbor who shot Owens has not been released.

Poppy and Phil.


Carlos, thank you very much for the reporting.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: And we're also learning new details this morning about that private jet that crashed into rural Virginia, prompting supersonic fighter jets to respond when the jet was not responding. The FAA says it lost contact with the plane just 15 minutes after it took off from east Tennessee on its way to Long Island, New York. Now the flight path shows the plane doesn't land at its intended destination, instead turning and heading into restricted air space over Washington, D.C. F-16 fighter jets, tasked with protecting the area, scrambled to intercept the plane and tried to get the pilot's attention.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Air National Guard Fight on Guard. If you hear this transmission, contact us.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MATTINGLY: Now a sources tell CNN the pilot was seen slumped over in his seat, triggering an investigation into a possible loss of cabin pressure as the cause of the crash. Now, we're also learning more about the four victims. The pilot, Jeff Hefner, seen on the right here, the plane's owner - the plane owner's daughter, Adina Azarian, along with her two-year-old daughter and their nanny. The NTSB begins recovery efforts today.

HARLOW: New details this morning about how wealthy conservative activists helped Governor Ron DeSantis seal a tight relationship with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas after the Florida governor called Thomas, quote, our greatest living justice. Fascinating reporting ahead.

MATTINGLY: And we're getting new video this morning of that flooding in Kherson after Ukrainian forces accused the Russians of blowing up a critical dam overnight. And more than 800 people in the region have been evacuated so far. We'll take you back to Ukraine ahead.



MATTINGLY: This morning a lawyer for the GOP mega donor who provided the luxury travel and held private real estate deals with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas offering to meet with Senate Judiciary Committee staff. Now, CNN has obtained a letter to the Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin from Harlan Crow's lawyer, Michael Bopp.

Now in it Bopp reiterates his concerns that the Judiciary Committee does not actually have the authority to receive information from Crow and urges the committee to, quote, reassess the partisan course it is pursuing. However, Crow ended the letter telling Durbin to, quote, feel free to have his staff contact him with any questions and set up a time to discuss his request. Now, Durbin has said he believes Crow's information will help the committee's ongoing efforts to craft judicial ethics reform legislation.

HARLOW: And staying on the Supreme Court. So, we have really fascinating new details from our colleague's Joan Biskupic's reporting this morning about how a very wealthy conservative activist may have helped Florida Governor Ron DeSantis seal a tight relationship with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. The activists name, you probably know it, Leonard Leo, has previously advised DeSantis and former President Trump on judicial nominations, including nominations for the Supreme Court. He's also close friends with Justice Thomas and DeSantis has praised him for his conservative stances on the court, Thomas that is. Three years ago, at Disney World, at an event for the Florida chapter of the conservative group The Federalist Society, Governor DeSantis had this to say about Justice Thomas.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): This is a justice that has the courage of his convictions and he's willing to apply the Constitution, you know, regardless of any criticism that he may face.

Because I do think he is our greatest living justice.

Thank you.


HARLOW: Quite a statement. After that speech that DeSantis gave, Justice Thomas and Leonard Leo, all three of them went to dinner, sealing a relationship that could help him, DeSantis, in his race for the White House.

Our Supreme Court analyst Joan Biskupic joins us now.

This is so interesting, sort of the world you take us into. And we all know how powerful The Federalist Society is, right, in -- from federal judges, all the way up to the Supreme Court. But what can you tell us about sort of what seems to be DeSantis following the path that former President Trump took in 2016 running on, these are the kind of justices I will get on the Supreme Court.


Yes, you know, Donald Trump even said halfway through his tenure, one of the reasons I became president is because of the Supreme Court. He vowed to appoint conservatives, anti-abortion rights justices, and followed through in his three appointments.

And Leonard Leo was one of the men, and they were men, in a small band advising President Trump on who to choose for the Supreme Court. And then Leonard Leo started advising Governor DeSantis when he won the state house down in Florida in 2018. So, he's had this relationship between the two men.

And, you know, Leonard Leo has a huge, big dollar donor support base. He hasn't said who he's supporting yet in the sprawling GOP primary race, but he has praised Governor DeSantis and, you know, certainly been advising him in his choices down in Florida, Poppy.

MATTINGLY: And, Joan, you know, part of the fascinating element of this article that you've written of the story that you've got is it really reveals kind of the tight relationships that have developed between DeSantis, Leonard Leo and Supreme Court Justice Thomas, some of which traces to the 2020 Federalist Society dinner.


What happened and how is Leo, I think, is being, as his way, the go- between between DeSantis and Thomas?

BISKUPIC: Certainly. He's -- Leonard Leo is at the center of so much when it comes to what happens with the judiciary federally and at the state level. He has known Clarence Thomas since 1990 here in Washington and he has long known Governor DeSantis also since Governor DeSantis was at Harvard Law School and in The Federalist Society. And at this 2020 Florida Federalist convention, you know, you saw

there Governor DeSantis introducing Clarence Thomas. And then afterward they go to this private dinner at this steakhouse. And Leonard Leo told me that, you know, that's where those two men really got talking.

But, you know, Phil, they already were so aligned, the kinds of things that Clarence Thomas is known for in the law, you know, anti-gay rights, anti-abortion rights, anti-press rights are the kinds of things that are certainly part of Governor DeSantis' state agenda and now his presidential campaign agenda. So, those two men probably would have been in sync anyway, but there was Leonard Leo helping to bring them together in early 2020.

HARLOW: It is interesting to watch DeSantis sort of try to out-Trump Trump when it comes to the Supreme Court, when Trump was so successful in getting three new justices on to overturn Roe versus Wade.

But the argument we heard DeSantis make when he announced his run was essentially, well, if I win, I could have eight years, and I could appoint more justices than Trump with four years.

BISKUPIC: Yes, it is something to try to out-Trump Trump. But this is what Governor DeSantis is saying. He's saying he would get eight years if he wins, and wins a second year, obviously. And Donald Trump, of course, is limited just to four more terms. And what the governor is saying is that he can take this court that's a 6-3 conservative dominated court and make it 7-2, to have an impact over many, many more decades because he's saying he could get multiple appointments over eight years.

Now, who knows. Knock wood, Poppy, I do not expect any immediate retirements, but this is the governor's pitch to the Republican base for why they should choose him over Donald Trump in this round.

Poppy. Phil.

HARLOW: Well, if there are pending retirements, we know who will know about them first.

BISKUPIC: Thank you.

HARLOW: And who will talk to them. And that is Joan Biskupic.

Thank you for the reporting. It's really an interesting read. Everyone should take a look at Joan's piece on

All right, now this.

MATTINGLY: All right, right now, Prince Henry (ph) is inside London's high court for his lawsuit against several British tabloids. The evidence he could share as he claims journalists hacked him.

HARLOW: And another victory for Vegas. The highlights of game two of the Stanley Cup final, next.



MATTINGLY: Well, happening this morning, Prince Harry, not Henry, as I said last time around, real American of me, is getting his day in court as he testifies in a phone hacking case in London. Now, the duke of Sussex arrived at court a short time ago, ready to take on the tabloids who have scrutinized so much of his personal life.

Let's get right to CNN's Nadia Bashir, who is live outside the high court in London.

Harry's in court right now. He says some tabloids, quote, have blood on their hands. What else can you tell us?

NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Yes, absolutely. Prince Harry has been very vocal in the past, and even more so now in his witness statement, in his criticism of the tabloid journalists working under the Mirror Group Newspapers. He spoke in his witness statement of the impact that their intrusion on his personal life has had, not only on his life, but that of his family, in particular that of his late mother, Princess Diana.

Now, this witness statement has detailed 50 newspaper articles published between the 1990s and 2000s, and 11 which he says detailed private, intimate information that could have only been known through unlawful information-gathering. We're talking about phone hacking, the interception of not only his voicemails but also that of those around him, including senior members of the royal family. And he also spoke of payments being made -- recent revelations of payments being made to private investigators to glean information from not only his activities but that of his late mother, Princess Diana. Something he says makes him feel physically sick.

Now, of course, Prince Harry is facing cross-examination over that witness statement. He is amongst more than 100 claimants suing the Mirror Group Newspapers over that illegal and unlawful gathering of information through means including phone hacking. And he's spoken about the impact this has had on his life. He spoke about his personal relationships, his circle of friends growing smaller and smaller as a result of the paranoia this caused him while he was growing up, the strain this placed on his relationship. He said he suffered bouts of depression as a result. And, in fact, this played a significant part in his decision to step back as a senior member of the royal family and to relocate his family to Los Angeles.

Of course, he has been vocal in the past about this and he has spoken about his wish to reform the media landscape, particularly when it comes to the activities of the British tabloid press.

Phil. Poppy.

MATTINGLY: Nada Bashir, great reporting. Thanks so much.

HARLOW: So, the Vegas Golden Knights - I almost said Nuggets. That's a - the Nuggets are in another series. MATTINGLY: I mean that - it's a sports team. That's good. That's OK.

HARLOW: But the Golden Knights -

MATTINGLY: You're (ph) good about that.

HARLOW: Thank God Phil is here. Are two wins away from lifting the Stanley Cup after routing the Florida Panthers in last night's game two.

Coy Wire joins us now. And thank goodness Coy Wire is here.

Coy, they were hoping what happens in Vegas happens in Miami, too?

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yes, that's right, Poppy. And when you said nuggets, you just made me hungry. I started thinking of chicken, even though it's 6:00 in the morning.


But, hey, these Golden Knights --

HARLOW: Someone get Coy some Chick-fil-A.

WIRE: Feed me.

The Golden Knights, they have had nine different players scoring goals. In the first two games of their series with the Panthers, the most by any team in NHL history. And this just in, Jonathan Marchessault is good at hockey. His first of two goals opened the scoring barrage. He now has nine goals in his last nine games.

But this next play sums up the Knights' night. Captain Mark Stone breaks his stick and he turns into a stone age man searching for his next meal. Pummels a Panther, grabs another twig, then he goes on to get the assist, feeding Brett Howden for one of his two goals on the night. Vegas eviscerating the Panthers 7-2. Their combined 12 goals are the most over ever in the first two games of a Stanley Cup final.

Hey, Adin Hill, how was it out there?


ADIN HILL, VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS GOALIE: Probably been the most fun I've ever had playing hockey. I'm just enjoying it. Cherishing every day. And, you know, just kind of taking it one day at a time. And, yes, I'm just kind of living in the moment and it's been fun. It's been awesome to be a part of this journey with this team.


WIRE: Vegas up 2-0 now as this series goes from the ice in the desert to the ice in south Florida. Game three is Thursday night on our sister network TNT. Not looking good for Florida. Ninety percent of the time, teams with a 2-0 series lead go on to win the Stanley Cup final every time. MATTINGLY: Look at that pessimism. Just pessimism from Coy. He's the

most optimistic guy I know.

HARLOW: It's just he's - he's just -- he's hangry.

MATTINGLY: He's hangry. He wants nuggets. Get him nuggets.

HARLOW: Thank you, Coy.

MATTINGLY: Thanks, buddy. Appreciate it.

WIRE: See y'all.

MATTINGLY: All right, coming up ahead, new reporting this morning on how the world's largest tech companies are walking back the policies that are meant to stop misinformation online.

HARLOW: Also, watch this police chase in Michigan. OK, behind that wheel is a 10-year-old. Officials say he was staying with a relative, stole the SUV because he wanted to see his mother, who was a little over an hour away. Several drivers saw the child behind the wheel. They called police. The 10-year-old apparently wouldn't stop for the troopers so they used Onstar to disable the vehicle. After being pulled over, he tried to run. He was taken into custody. Thank goodness everyone is OK.



MATTINGLY: It's a move that will probably baffle many people. The world's biggest social media platforms are rolling back measures that help combat the spread of misinformation right as we head into the next election cycle. Now, this is according to a new report out this morning from "Axios." Platforms like YouTube, Twitter and Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, are updating their policies and reinstating some previously banned accounts.

Now, joining us now with her reporting is CNN's senior media analyst and senior media reporter at "Axios," Sara Fischer.

Sara, I feel like it's been trending in this direction over the course of the last several months. And I guess my biggest question is the why. Because you see the political elements of it, the business elements of it. Why is this happening?

SARA FISCHER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA ANALYST: Yes, the tech platforms would tell you, Phil, that it's because when they evaluate their policies, they need to balance the protection of their community and their users with also free speech. And right now they don't think that the risk to real world harm, meaning, you know, could speech incite violence or protests, et cetera, is as bad as it was when they implemented some of these policies.

Now, if you think about it, some of the misinformation policies around things like election denialism really started to increase and increase in enforcement following the January 6th attack. Some of the misinformation policies around vaccines increased around Covid. And so what the tech platforms are saying now is that there isn't as much pressure in terms of making sure that people aren't going to riot in response to these things and, thus, they think they can roll the policies back.

HARLOW: OK, but isn't the whole point of having policies like this to protect against things happening like January 6th, like so many people following lies, believing them? Isn't the whole point to protect against that instead of to come in, in the aftermath, which is what happened last time?

FISCHER: It is. And I asked YouTube about this specifically because YouTube is one that last week said that they will, moving forward, allow election denialism content back on the platform after previously banning it. And they couldn't provide examples to me, Poppy, of how they're weighing this decision. I asked, is it that you're seeing less of real world violence? Like, what caused you to decide that this is OK right now? They couldn't give me that answer.

You know, I would argue in terms of being proactive that I agree with the woman I quoted in the piece, Kathleen Hall Jamieson, who's the founder of, really the way to approach this is not necessarily to take down all speech but to limit the algorithmic distribution of things that could be misinformation or falsehoods, but also to flood the zone with critical context, meaning provide fact checks alongside misinformation, et cetera.

And one of the challenges is, Poppy, you've seen it, we've been talking about it. Over the past year, these big tech platforms have had huge amounts of layoffs. And oftentimes the teams responsible for things like fact-checking, those trust and safety teams, have been the ones that have been decimated.


MATTINGLY: Yes, it's a labor-intensive process no question.

I do want to ask you, before we let you go, "The New York Times" is reporting that Twitter ad sales have fallen by 59 percent in just a year and the ad sales staff is concerned that advertisers may be turned off by precisely the issues that you're laying out right now. How bad are these numbers? And given some pretty prominent personnel changes over the course of the last couple of weeks, what's the path forward for Twitter?

FISCHER: Phil, they're pretty bad. But I also want to put into larger context the entire ad market is down right now.


Not down that much but I think it wouldn't be as bad if we were in a bullish market.