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Two Years Since Dobbs Decision Overturned Roe V. Wade; Soon: Supreme Court To Rule ON Trump's Immunity Claim; Biden & Trump Making Final Preparations For Debate. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired June 24, 2024 - 05:30   ET


KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: From getting abortions.


The group reporting that in 2023, the estimated number and rate of abortions hit the highest point in more than a decade.

Abortion access has proven to be an effective issue at the polls. A new KFF poll showing that more than half of Democratic women in states with abortion-related ballot initiatives are more motivated to vote this November, while Republicans still grappling with how to talk about it.


SEN. JONI ERNST (R-IA): What we've seen Chuck Schumer do -- you all know Chuck Schumer, right? Yeah, I laughed to Chuck Schumer is putting up a bunch of show votes in the Senate and again, tying onto that fearmongering, he's saying that Republicans are radicals -- radical when it comes to life, make no mistake.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MAJORITY LEADER: Make no mistake: the MAGA hard right attack on women are not done. First, it was abortion, then contraception, then IVF. What's next? If they get their chance, they will push for their ultimate goal of the national abortion ban.


HUNT: All right. Joining me, "Axios" congressional reporters, Stephen Neukam.

Stephen, good morning. Thank you so much for being here this morning.

This is, you know, a monumental day, especially four abortion rights supporters who are marking this. But I guess also for opponents who worked very, very hard at to take this down. The reality is it has set abortion up as a critical issue in the 2024 campaigns both and the presidential race, but also across the map.

How do you see this playing out right now as you report in the halls of Congress, because it does seem like a place where Republicans still aren't sure exactly how to message around this? STEPHEN NEUKAM, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, AXIOS: Yeah, I think that's right. They still are having trouble sort of finding their footing. We've seen national Republicans tried to sort of pivot to the idea that this is a states right, issue, right? And that this isn't something for federal lawmakers to worry about.

Look, when it comes to the presidential election, so much of this is, and you know, this is already baked in. It's Trump, it's Biden, it's about turnout and with the KFF polling and what we know sort of generally as that the abortion issue is one that turns out women voters, young voters, this is something that Democrats are going to hammer and hammer as we get closer to November.

HUNT: One of the things, of course, that the Biden team is doing, if you listen to, for example, Kamala Harris on this. I mean, they will call them Trump abortion bans and the former president has struggled at time to actually to figure out how to thread this needle. There was a huge question about how he was going to handle this issue of a possible federal ban. Was he going to come out in support of it or against it?

He spoke at that sort of Joni Ernst, the senator from Iowa that we just saw there was speaking at this annual gathering here in Washington of social conservatives, the types of people who worked really hard to get this into place, to lead to the fall of Roe. Donald Trump spoke to them over the weekend and he talked about what happened under his presidency to transform the federal bench. Let's watch.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I believe in exceptions for the life of the mother, rape and incest. Some people do. I think most people do actually, but some people don't.

You have to go with your heart, but you have to also remember, you have to get elected.


HUNT: So this was actually the second of two things that he said here, where he does say, remember, you also have to get elected. He said that after he bragged about saying my first four years, we totally transformed the federal bench and we also achieved with the pro-life movement fought get for 49 years. We've got gotten abortion out of the federal government, but it's that "get elected" piece that I would keep underlining when I when I think about this.

NEUKAM: Yeah, he's got to get elected, right? And part of the issue here is when he goes to events like this info Republicans, there's sort of two lines they're trying to draw. They're trying to be more moderate on abortion. They're trying to say again, this is a states rights issue that they support IVF stuff like that.

And then they go to these types of events with some of the more conservative folks that they have in their coalition and they talk about what they've done to sort of push forward the anti-abortion movement in the U.S. So its doing two things at once on the campaign trail.

HUNT: How do you see this issue playing out when we head onto the presidential debate stage later on this week good question. I think anybody tried to progress prognosticate about this debate would be like sort of selling you stay coil honestly, because it's just too -- two men who are sort of very obviously did not like each other. And I think he could get nasty, but when it comes to abortion, I think that you're going to see President Biden talk about how Roe fell under President Trump, former President Trump, how he sort of used the judiciary to become more conservative and packed the courts with anti- abortion judges.

And, Trump is going to say what many other Republicans are saying, that this is again a states rights issue, and that they want to protect life, but they want reasonable exceptions as well.


HUNT: All right. Stephen Neukam for us this morning -- Stephen, thanks very much for your time. I appreciate it.

All right. And just a few hours, hearings pick back up in Donald Trump's classified documents case on the agenda, a request from prosecutors to gag the former president. They argue that he could endanger the lives of FBI agents working on the case if he is free to speak out.

On Friday, the former president's legal team tried to convince Judge Aileen Cannon that the appointment of special counsel, Jack Smith, should be invalidated because he's part of a shadow government. Judge Cannon didn't seem to buy it, telling the defense team, quote, that sounds very ominous, a shadow government. But what does that mean? The defense dodged the question.

Let's bring in former federal prosecutor, Andrew Cherkasky, for more on this.

Andrew, good morning.

We've seen criticism from Judge Cannon for, quote/unquote, slow- walking the case. What do you make of how she handled how this played out on Friday?

ANDREW CHERKASKY, CIVIL TRIAL ATTORNEY: I think the most important thing when were assessing judge cannon is to look at what her rulings actually are. I think its too early to critique what judge cannon does or does not do simply by allowing the litigation of this very important issue, you have to look at Jack Smith for what it is. It's an appointment by the attorney general means that Jack Smith isn't confirmed by the Senate as most U.S. officers in high-level positions are like us attorneys.

So there is a feeling among some in the country, certainly within the Trump camp that look at Jack Smith as an outsider, somebody who's essentially interfering through their lens with the presidential process both when he was in office, as well as the upcoming election. And that this is an outsider who's making critical decisions about the future of the next president.

HUNT: Andrew, there have been some that have questioned Cannon's experience writing -- we wrote this on CNN, Cannon's solitary post in the Fort Pierce courthouse, one that rarely sees high-profile action, deprives her of the informal day-to-day interactions with more seasoned judges in her seven years as a Justice Department attorney, cannon participated on the trial teams of just four criminal cases and on the bench, she's only presided over a handful of criminal trials.

How does her experience or as some are arguing here inexperience contribute to all this?

CHERKASKY: Well, a federal judge is qualified certainly to sit on virtually any type of case, if they're not disqualified by the nature of some sort of conflict of interests that they might have. Simply the idea that she has perhaps a more minimal amount of time in trial, either as a judge or as a litigator is something that I guess could impact the overall credibility that certain people give her, but she is a confirmed federal judge. And so, you have to be sensitive around that issue.

Now, the idea of whether some other judges thought she was most appropriate for this case or not, whether she should have been using are relying more upon her more junior, but more experienced magistrates in the process. Those were all fair critiques that I think could be had both ways.

But in terms of a black and white looking at this case, is there something that automatically he says that judge cannon isn't qualified or that she's automatically the type that should be that should have conflicted herself off the case, I don't see that. There's not as many arguments for that as I think Donald Trump perhaps had on the Judge Merchan side of things with family that were closely connected with the opposing party, so to speak.

So the critique of Judge Cannon much more based on her experience and perhaps based on the idea that because she was nominated for the bench by Donald Trump, that she has some affinity or some sort of leaning towards him.

But, you know, I -- again, I go back to what I said in my earlier answer. The fact that she's having hearings, that she's entered aiming motions and arguments from the defense does not automatically mean that she's bias or that she's unwilling to go with the law. It means that she's willing to hear these arguments out. And go slow as a lot of complex litigation does.

HUNT: Interesting. So, Andrew, the author, of course, looming thing that quite frankly has most of my attention this week is this looming ruling from the Supreme Court on immunity for former President Trump in the January 6 case that jackpot smith has brought here. I'm curious what you make of how the court has been conducting its business in recent days and what it says about whether it will be this week that we will learn whether or not he will have immunity.

CHERKASKY: Well, it's certainly the most important issue, right now before the Supreme Court for Donald Trump. But it's also a very important issue for the future of the country. I think it's most important to look at the presidential immunity case, not through the lens of how this is going to affect Donald Trump directly, but how it's going to affect the American presidency as a whole.

And that's what the Supreme Court is looking at.


They're looking at an issue that at oral argument we heard seems clear that they're going to accept some degree of presidential immunity. That seems like an important function to make sure that the presidency can operate without fear of future prosecution. But the drawing of that test, how the Supreme Court decides that when you try to play out or game out what a future president could do or not do. That should be within the protected area, or should be outside of the protected area.

CHERKASKY: We get deep into these issues of whether you think the president is, quote, unquote, above the law and it's not necessarily that the president is above the law, is that it applies differently, that there's many different issues that the president has to take on that a normal American citizen does not.

So I think the court is really grappling with how to draw a bright line rule. And that's something that could ultimately send these cases back to the trial level for further fact-finding, even the New York case that has resulted in a conviction at this point could go back and hear arguments that the new standard, whatever the Supreme Court sets is that should cause that case to be re-evaluated as a question whether it should ever been brought in the first place all right.

HUNT: All right. Andrew Cherkasky -- Andrew, thank you. I appreciate your time this morning.

CHERKASKY: Thank you.

HUNT: All right. Coming up next on CNN THIS MORNING:

Donald Trump singing his own praises as usual.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Three great Supreme Court justices, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett.


HUNT: This, of course, as we mark the two-year anniversary of the fall of Roe.

Plus, how climate protesters disrupted the final round of the PGA Tours Travelers Championship this weekend. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)



TRUMP: I withstood vicious attacks to pick and confirm three great Supreme Court justices, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett.

Well, thanks to these justices, we have also achieved what the pro- life movement fought to get for 49 years and we've gotten abortion out of the federal government and back to the states.


HUNT: That was former President Donald Trump over the weekend, thanking his Supreme Court appointees for their role in reversing the constitutional right to an abortion.

Two years ago, the court overturned the ones landmark decision, Roe versus Wade, and of course returned the issue of abortion back to the states. And since then, it has exploded, doing major electoral issue. And of course, Democrats hoping that it will continue to motivate voters when they go to the polls this November.

Joining me now, Democratic Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester. She also recently announced just running for Senate and is the co-chair of the Biden-Harris campaign.

Congresswoman, thanks very much for being here.

REP. LISA BLUNT ROCHESTER (D-DE): Thank you, Kasie, for having me on this very important day.

HUNT: So let me start with the attempts at the federal level from Chuck Schumer in the Senate, of course vocal -- you've also been very vocal on trying to protect reproductive freedoms, including IVF and you've talked about this in very personal terms.

But the bottom line is that Republicans are still continuing to block Democratic efforts here. I mean, what do you say to voters who question, hey, what -- what are you actually doing? How can you change something that they're very invested in?

ROCHESTER: You know, first of all, as you said, at the outset, I mean, when we think about the two-year anniversary of the Dobbs decision and the overturning of Roe versus Wade, we are reminded that this is the first time a constitutional right has been taken away from us.

And so, you know, in the past two years, not only have we seen what has happened with the Dobbs decision, but we've seen Republican extremist across the country at more swiftly, more harshly, more cruelly to pass an agenda to really to ban abortion across this country. And its over 20 states are doing it now. Sometimes you don't even know if you're pregnant. The ban takes effect.

And so, they worst women to flee from across state lines and even criminalize doctors and women themselves. For me, you're hearing this shifting depending on which audience there in. But to me, we've got to take them at their word, believe them for what they say and it is truly about up ban across the country. It is truly about going after our reproductive rights with IVF, as well as contraception.

And so this attack on women, we've got to believe them when they say what they say, they're going to do. And I do believe its going to make a difference at for voters when they go to the polls.

You know, Kasie, as you said for me, and so many families in this country, this is not about politics, this is not about policy, this is personal. You know, my -- my family, my son my daughter-in-law, have told me I can share their story because they want me to fight for IVF. They went through two rounds of IVF.

The first round on Christmas about two years ago my daughter-in-law called me while I was making Christmas dinner and said, mom, something's not right. Her water prematurely broke.

We took her to the first emergency room, which is why this Supreme Court case on EMTALA is so important. That first one basically said, we can't go home. She could have died from sepsis, you know, fortunately and unfortunately, I know are mortality numbers in this country and we ended up going to another hospital. She got the care she needed and then last year, my grand daughter was born.

We're going to continue to fight for this. And so people got to pay attention. This is the anniversary. This marks a moment for us to step up and say we're going to show our power at the ballot box. And Democrats in the House and the Senate have worked to pass legislation but this is where our vote counts because we've got to have the votes in order to pass these protections.

HUNT: Congresswoman, I also want to ask you, I know you have built a relationship with President Biden over the years in Delaware, which is, of course, it's a relatively small town in its politics. And you have been close with him over the years. He is, of course, hunker down preparing for this debate.

Democrats have been nervous about his performance and we know voters seem to think he may be too old to do this job.

How confident are you in his ability to perform on Thursday?

ROCHESTER: Oh, I'm very confident. I know he's ready, and I think the reason why you hear people are nervous about anything in this moment is because the stakes are so high. I mean, we recognize that there is a sense of urgency that we win this election because it truly is about the accomplishments and that's what I think the president is going to talk about, the transformational accomplishments of this administration from creating jobs to saving our environment, to lowering the cost of goods. But he's also going to talk about the future and there will be a stark

contrast between a future under Joe Biden who cares about all Americans who wakes up every day thinking about how he can lift us all up, and someone who is very much focused on retribution and setting wants to be a dictator on day one.

So I'm very excited. Our state of Delaware, our city of Wilmington, we call ourselves a state of neighbors, and I think we're representative of the country, you know, because we are truly urban suburban, rural, and coastal.

And this president wakes up every day thinking about --

HUNT: All right.

ROCHESTER: -- how can serve the American people. He's going to do great.

HUNT: All right. Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester, thanks very much for your time this morning. I really appreciate it.

ROCHESTER: Thank you, Kasie.

HUNT: All right. Time now for sports.

Protesters stormed the 18th green it yesterday's PGA Tour event delaying the end of what? Been a thrilling tournament.

Coy Wire has more in this morning's Bleacher Report.

Coy, good morning.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORT ANCHOR: Good morning, Kasie.

Six climate activists face criminal mischief and trespassing charges after what, causing a chaotic scene there at the Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Connecticut. They ran out onto the green while the leaders were lining up their pots on the final hole of regulation, leaving red and white powdery substance on the grass.

Several of the protesters were wearing shirts that read on "no golf on a dead planet". Play was delayed a little over five minutes as world number one, Scottie Scheffler and Tom Kim waited to put it out.


SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER, 2-TIME MAJOR CHAMPION: It was definitely a bit weird. You know, I saw one person out of the corner my eye and then I saw about five police officers sprint around and from my point of view, they got to take care of pretty dang fast and so we very grateful for that. I don't -- it seemed to go by really quickly to us, but when something like that happens, you don't really know what's happening.

So it can kind of rattle you a little bit just because there's people running around the green and there's police officers run around the green and you don't know if they're peaceful, you don't know what they're doing? You have no idea what's going on. And so it can be a bit stressful.


WIRE: Now, Scheffler would go on to win the tournament with a par on the first playoff hole. He's now the first player since Tiger Woods in '09 to record six or more victories in a single season, the first since Arnold Palmer in 1962 to win that many before the month of July.

Let's go to one of the hottest tickets sports recently, Caitlin Clark and whoever she and her Indiana Fever playing this time, Chicago, the most expensive ticket in WNBA history, a rematch between Clark and her old college rival Angel Reese. Clark setting up franchise record with 13 assists. She also became the first rookie in W history to notch at least 15 points, 10 assists, and five three-pointers in a game.

But Reese and our Sky get the wind. Rees rising to the challenge score and a career-high 25, grabbing 16 rebounds. It's her eighth straight double-double, helping her team come back from 15 down.

Afterwards, she said, I'm from Baltimore, this is what we do.


ANGEL REESE, CHICAGO SKY FORWARD: I'm a dog. You can't teach that. I'm going to go out and do whatever it takes to win every single night. My teammates rely on my energy. So, being able to continue to the energy even if we're down, even if we're up, that's what I do.


WIRE: U.S. Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon, and we could technically only need 9.83 seconds to show you this highlight. Noah Lyles blazing to a first place finish in the men's hundred meter final.


The world can pull and ahead midway through the race there. Bye-bye. See you in Paris.

And checkout mom watch in awe, you can see the excitement and a little bit of relief in her face. Kenney Bednarek came in second, Tokyo silver medalist Fred Kerley in third. They too will represent the us at the Olympics just about 30 some days away now, Kasie, oh, la, la, we wait.

We will soon see that gold to the States.

HUNT: I want to clip that sound bite that you had is there a client play whenever we introduce you, here's Coy Wire, oh, la, la. Thanks, Coy.

WIRE: You got it.

HUNT: I really appreciate it. All right. Coming up next here, how a hiker went missing for ten days

and survived.

Plus, ready for a rematch. We are three days out from the presidential debate of the season. This one considerably earlier than normal.


BILL MAHER, TV HOST: We usually don't have them until October, September, the earliest, but this time they looked at the actuarial tables, and they said let's get this show on the road, come on.