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Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Case Challenging Roe V. Wade; Justice Sotomayor: I didn't Think Court Could Survive "The Stench" of Overturning Roe V. Wade; Moments Ago: Arguments Conclude in Abortion Case Before the Supreme Court; Meadows Book: Trump Tested Positive for COVID-19 3 Days Before Biden Debate; Biden Considers Stricter Testing for All Travelers to U.S. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired December 01, 2021 - 12:00   ET




JOHN KING, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Hello and welcome to "Inside Politics". I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing a very consequential news day with us.

A shocking revelation in a new book; the Former Trump White House Chief of Staff says Donald Trump tested positive for COVID before his first debate with Joe Biden and hid it from you, the American public. Plus Omicron puts the world in a holding pattern.

Scientists say still too soon to answer the big questions about this new variant yet, the CDC now rethinking its guidelines for international travel. And Dr. Oz the Celebrity heart surgeon bets Pennsylvania voters will look past the history of COVID controversy and BS miracle cures and sent him here to Washington.

Up first, though, for us a momentous day a momentous day at the Supreme Court just moments ago, arguments wrapped up in Dobbs versus Jackson. The Jackson Women's Health Organization at stake Roe versus Wade and the nearly 50 year old constitutional right to an abortion.

The Mississippi law before the justices bans abortion at 15 weeks. But the state is asking the court to do more than uphold 15 weeks is a reasonable restriction. It wants the justices to undo the core of the landmark 1973 decision. And with the court now tilted conservative by a 6-3 margin abolishing Roe v. Wade is very much a possibility.


JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF JUSTICE OF UNITED STATES: If you think that the issue is one of choice, that women should have a choice to terminate their pregnancy that supposes that there is a point at which they had the fair choice, opportunity to choice and why would 15 weeks be inappropriate line? So a viability it seems to me doesn't have anything to do with choice. But if it really is an issue about choice, why is 15 weeks? Not enough time?

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: CNN's Jessica Schneider is at the Supreme Court. Jess we heard the Chief Justice there a spirited debate among all the justices today.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, John. And it really seems when you add on the Chief Justice's comments that all six conservative justices based on their questioning do seem to be leaning towards upholding this Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks.

You've heard justice, the Chief Justice John Roberts, there talking about why isn't 15 weeks enough time to allow women to have abortions? And at that point after the state might be able to ban it? That's one part of the question here that the court will grapple with.

The other one is should they overturn Roe v. Wade completely, because there is a way that they could still uphold this law, but maybe not overturn Roe v. Wade completely. However, five of the justices really seem to be weighing on the side that maybe Roe v. Wade should be overturned.

In fact, Justice Brett Kavanaugh questioned the attorneys at length on at least three different occasions. And he asked pointedly he said, what about the fact that maybe the court all of these 50 years since Roe? Maybe they've been picking sides?

And is it the time to return the court to a place of neutrality where it's in fact, Congress or the states that determines the rules around abortion state by state leaving it to the people? His questioning seems to indicate that he might be in favor of limiting abortion significantly, or overturning Roe v. Wade?

And of course, John that would fly in the face of what he told Senator Susan Collins back in his 2018 confirmation hearing that he wouldn't overturn Roe. It seems like maybe he's having second thoughts here, John.

KING: And Jess let's walk through and obviously I just tell our viewers, this is, you know, this is a 50 year political debate as well as a 50 year legal debate. You see the crowd gathered outside the court, as Jess speaks to us there.

Let's go through some of this one of the leading liberals, Justice Sonia Sotomayor making the case that yes, Roe v. Wade has been the law of the land for nearly 50 years, she says for the justices to throw it out now would put them right in the middle of politics, listen.


JUSTICE SONIA SOTOMAYOR, SUPREME COURT ASSOCIATE JUSTICE: Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts? I don't see how it is possible. It's what Casey talked about when he talked about watershed decisions. If people actually believe that it's all political, how will we survive? How will the court survive? (END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: A passionate case there Jess but she's outnumbered, right?

SCHNEIDER: She is out numbered John. Interestingly, we heard three of those impassioned debates soliloquy is if you will from each of the three liberal justices, but they are out-numbered significantly, six to three here.

And with Justice Chief - the Chief Justice John Roberts seeming inclined that maybe this Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks maybe that's OK it does seem like there's the possibility that this could come down six three upholding that Mississippi law.


SCHNEIDER: But you know Justice Sonia Sotomayor wasn't the only one. Justice Breyer, he's repeatedly talked about the legitimacy of the court and today saying that any decision that might overturn Roe v. Wade, it could legitimately - delegitimize the court in the public's eyes, the public might see them as bowing to political pressure.

So, yes, very impassioned words from the liberal justices but as you say, John, they are outnumbered 6-3.

KING: And one of the reasons they're outnumbered is one of the veteran conservative Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, the other now joined by three Trump appointees in addition to the Chief Justice, Justice Alito, essentially asking if you go through the history of this, there was Roe v. Wade in 1973.

Then in 1992, Planned Parenthood versus Casey a Pennsylvania case, which is essentially a compromise allowing some restrictions on abortion rights. Justice Alito asking, can we have another compromise? Or do we have to throw it all out? Listen.


JUSTICE SAMUEL ALITO, SUPREME COURT ASSOCIATE JUSTICE: I read your briefs, your brief to say that the only real options we have are to reaffirm Roe and Casey as they stand or to overrule them in their entirety. You say that, "There are no half measures here". Is that a correct understanding of your brief?


KING: That is Jess what Mississippi is now arguing, right? We think you should throw out Roe and Casey.

SCHNEIDER: Yes, they're saying they said that repeatedly in arguments. They said that in their brief. But John, they also did leave open that other possibility that the court could uphold this Mississippi law and sort of rewrite the standard here saying that Mississippi does not put an undue burden on women with this 15 week mark that would fly in the face of Casey that said viability was at 23 to 24 weeks.

So there is maybe a middle ground here. But five of these justices really seem to be leaning toward overturning roe completely John.

KING: Jessica Schneider on a momentous day at the Supreme Court. I appreciate the live reporting. I appreciate your patience and stuff to do that outside with obviously some democracy happening around you.

With me in studio here to share their reporting and their insights CNN's Dana Bash CNN's Nia-Malika Henderson Seung Min Kim of "The Washington Post" and CNN Legal Analyst Carrie Cordero. Carrie, I want to start with you in the sense that if you listen to the arguments, again, Casey was a compromise, if you will a then conservative court saying we will keep Roe.

But we will say that states can have restrictions as long as they do not have an undue burden or you know so essentially reasonable restrictions. The arguments today were mostly about just never mind, get just have the Supreme Court say this is now to the states?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I think there are two fundamental things going on that we heard in the courts, oral arguments today. One is that this is a case fundamentally about liberty, about personal liberty, about constitutional liberty of women in America.

And on the merits of the case that's what it's about. But the second piece going on that we heard, articulated by the justices in their questioning is this issue of the courts precedent, what's called starry decisis. And so that pertains to the fact of is the court going to overturn - 50 years of history from back going back to Roe, in addition to the past almost 30 years when that case was reaffirmed in the Casey case?

KING: And what is fascinating about it is that you know, elections have consequences and life events have consequences. This would have been a very different case. And this would have been very different hearing, if not for the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Donald Trump's third appointee to the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett.

And that was very clear, as the Mississippi Solicitor General was making his case the Mississippi initially filed to make its 15 week law, just to say we want the court to embrace this as a reasonable restriction. Mississippi changed its strategy. Listen.


SCOTT STEWART, MISSISSIPPI SOLICITOR GENERAL: Roe versus Wade and Planned Parenthood versus Casey onto our country. They have no basis in the constitution. They have no home in our history or traditions. They've damaged the democratic process. They poisoned the law. They've choked off compromise. Nowhere else does this court recognize a right to end human life?


KING: That is a complete change in the state strategy because Amy Coney Barrett is on that bench, not Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which leaves John Roberts know where to look for a compromise to say maybe come up with some sort of a compromise decision. They want them tossed?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And nobody should look at this as anything other than a very, very strategic legal strategy and political strategy that has been in the works for decades.

This is the long game exemplified because conservatives have been pushing, pushing, pushing to pack the courts on the lower levels and of course, ultimately, the Supreme Court. And if you want to know politically, why so many conservatives to this day stick by Donald Trump, it's because of what we heard in the court today.

The questioning by his three nominees were exactly what they were going for we don't know how they're going to decide but certainly they left some very big breadcrumbs as to where they're headed?


KING: And again, to the point number one, we could show you a map if the court just throws out Roe v. Wade, and it becomes a state by state decision. You know, some women will have to drive hundreds of miles or transport themselves, sometimes you should I say, drive, move hundreds of miles to get access to an abortion.

That is a decision we will know, months from now down the road. The Chief Justice in the past, who has been a defender of precedent, starry decisis, as you say, has tried to the previous court worked with the liberals to try to say, OK, you know, I'm a conservative, but we're going to try to split the difference here.

He made the point today in questioning Mississippi, that you've changed your strategy here, which makes our choice more difficult.


ROBERTS: Your first question and the only one in which we granted review was whether all pre viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional. And then I think it's fair to say that when you got to the brief on the merits, you kind of shifted gears and talked a lot more about whether or not Roe and Casey should be overruled?

STEWART: The harder questions are, you know, should the court overrule and take that momentous step. And that's why we devote a lot of space to that very important issue.


KING: This is the moment the pro-life movement the anti-abortion movement has waited for, for 50 years, and they believe they're at the precipice of it.

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And this is going back to your earlier point about how presidential elections particularly have consequences in the long run for the Supreme Court. That was especially true with President Trump's second nominee to the Supreme Court.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who of course replaced a Justice Anthony Kennedy another point from the his remarks that I found really interesting was how he made it a point to point out that there are several landmark cases by the Supreme Court that overturned previous precedent such as Brown v. Board of Education.

That was not his message when he was talking with Senators trying to get their vote for confirmation, particularly Susan Collins, one of the few pro-abortion rights of Republicans in the Senate. And she said she had told us over and over that Kavanaugh assured her that he believed Roe versus Wade was settled law. And that was certainly not as message today.

KING: Right. To that point, I'm just going to read a little bit from Justice Kavanaugh, if we think the prior precedents are seriously wrong, that why doesn't the history of the court practice strike those cases? Tell us the right answers to actually go to the return of neutrality?


KING: That was he told Congress.

HENDERSON: Yes, I mean, listen, I don't think anybody really believe Brett Kavanaugh when he said that to Susan Collins, Susan Collins apparently did. But it going to Dana's point, this has been the fight on the right for decades. It's what energized white evangelicals to back Donald Trump in the in the numbers that they did in 2016.

I think the consequences of this when you think about a state by state decision on whether or not a state can control essentially family planning in a woman's womb mean that sort of a slippery slope that you enter, if this becomes the reality, if Roe v. Wade is overturned, that is something to behold and think about in these different states where this might be the reality.

KING: Right. We would - if we get to that point, when the court decides we will have both a legal and a political conversation about what impact it would have in the midterm election year and elections off whenever? Let's talk about that from a legal perspective. If as Justice Kavanaugh suggests here, let's just take the Supreme Court out of this.

So they overturn Roe they overturn on - versus Casey, obviously, and they say this is a decision now left to the states. What happens to the legal framework, every state has to make a decision. And then those decisions then get challenged through the courts as well, right?

CORDERO: Well, from a legal perspective, yes, then it would go back to the states. But there are at all - there are already over 25 states that have laws on the books that would be triggered by such a decision. So if the Supreme Court were to overturn Roe and Casey, these state laws would immediately go into effect.

So as a practical matter, the Supreme Court really is making the decision whether a woman's liberty and her ability to make this choice would be affected in this particular case. In addition to and I just want to note the Council for Jackson Women's Health, she took on this issue of whether or not the court should abandon the prior precedent.

And the argument that she makes is that Mississippi is not making any new arguments. In other words for the Supreme Court to throw out its 50 years of history, there has to be a very strong reason for it to determine that prior decisions were wrong. And what she argues is that Mississippi isn't making any arguments for why those are wrong/

KING: And it is no new legal argument so we will see what will be ultimately interpreted as a political decision. We'll stay on top of that; can you see the dramatic pictures outside the Supreme Court on this big day? Ahead for us, a new book by the President's Former Chief of Staff, President Trump's Former Chief of Staff says Mr. Trump tested positive for COVID just three days before his first debate against Joe Biden.



KING: Today a dramatic revelation Former President Donald Trump tested positive for COVID-19 just days ahead of a big presidential debate with Joe Biden. That disclosure comes from the Former White House Chief of Staff's new book which is due out next week.

And it suggests that the former president held the truth - withheld the truth from you the American people and then he broke his own government's COVID rules. Trump was on the read one on September 26th Mark Meadows writes when the White House doctor called up and told Meadows to stop the president from leaving for a rally in Pennsylvania.

Why? Because the President the White House doctor said had tested positive but Meadows did not stop the president. After Trump boarded Air Force One Meadows called him with news of the diagnosis. Trump's reply Meadows writes rhymes with oh spit you've got to be trucking living me.


KING: Yes I just said that on television. We're back - we're back with our panel. It's funny in the sense that Mark Meadows tries to hide the words there. But it's not funny. It's not funny to think that the President of the United States at the time heading into a debate with his rival, plus his own staff, and all the people around him, tested positive for COVID went to give a rally, and essentially just said to hell with the COVID protection rules at the time.

HENDERSON: Yes. And it's because that's who Donald Trump is, and was? He only cared about himself only cares about himself, not to people around him. And so he was gung ho on doing whatever he wanted, whether or not he was putting other people in harm's way.

And listen, he probably did. I mean, given what he was doing at that point, he was - he was likely spreading it. And listen, almost nothing is shocking you know we learn about this president. And this, in some ways isn't shocking, either.

I remember at the time there was sort of like, was he positive on stage with Biden at the time there was sort of, you know, speculation about that and come to find out, he likely was.

BASH: Yes, I mean, I was laughing at your--

KING: No, no I get it.

BASH: --not this because it was - it is reckless, not surprising, but incredibly reckless. And, yes, when you look back, first of all, the White House or not the White House, the former White House, the former president is claiming that it was a false positive, and so on and so forth.

But like, come on, he had COVID. He was in the hospital, he was in Walter Reed. He was in really bad shape, not that long after that. So that is the reality that they - that we saw with our own - with our own two eyes.

And at that debate, he was sweaty, he was off, he was all of those things. And he put the lives of the people on that stage. Never mind his opponent, the person who beat him, everybody there and everybody at the White House at serious risk.

KING: But to your point, because Donald Trump thinks about one person, Donald Trump. Number one, you see debate pictures there. Number two, go back in time we were going back through this morning, you were here at the table many times at that period of time. September 26th, is when meadow says he tested positive.

On September 27th he had a military family's event and indoor press conference, September 29th, was the debate. It was October 2nd that they announced the president was tested positive but remember that was also the same time he appointed at Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

They had that event at the White House that turned into a super spreader. Several people at that event ended up testing positive, including members of Congress ended up testing positive for COVID the President in the First Lady's well, Kellyanne Conway.

And the COVID guidelines at the time, if you test positive isolate for at least 10 days, if you develop symptoms, isolate for 10 days after symptoms begin. Stay in touch with your doctor. Those were the CDC guidelines at the time and the President of the United States who of course, was also telling people maybe ingest bleach or take Hydroxychloroquine. Yes.

KIM: Right. I was at that Rose Garden event. And I remember well, we were outside. So that obviously helped things a bit. All the reporters were in the back. We were all masked even though we were outside. But there was no social distancing, no masking. We know - we knew of event receptions inside the White House where they were mingling hugging kissing each other because they were happy about the Supreme Court nomination. But certainly, the president, the former president, the former White House put so many people at risk because of their reckless approach to COVID protocols.

There was one line from the Meadows, the excerpts of Mark Meadows his memoir that I found interesting when he feigned surprise, that he had actually contracted COVID because the former president was a "Massive germaphobe".

He always had hand sanitizer around him. But remember, Trump almost never wore a mask during the, during the pandemic. And we know even early on that mask help, you know, contain the spread. I think there were maybe twice that he had worn a mask because he had to.

So it really shouldn't have been a surprise that this happened, but it is really still stunning that he would put so much danger to people around him.

KING: Even though we know he lies as almost as often as he breathes. Some of the lies are still shocking because of their scope and their gravity. Coming up for us, the United States fight against the Omicron variant may include stricter requirements for travel; we're going to break down with the White House's considering next.



KING: President Biden and his health team are now strongly considering stricter Coronavirus testing for travelers that part of the evolving strategy to deal with the new Omicron Coronavirus variant.

Omicron has been detected in at least 25 countries so far. No cases yet, though reported here in the United States. Let's get straight to our Chief White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins for more. Kaitlan, what exactly is the White House considering?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: This is essentially all but confirmed John. That the White House and the CDC are going to take this step where right now if you are a vaccinated traveler coming into the United States, you can take a test three days before that flight boards in order to get into the United States, of course a negative test result.

Now it seems all but certain they are going to shorten that timeframe to just one day. You have to get that test within 24 hours of takeoff and negative result in order to get to the United States. And this is something that is in essentially a regulatory process right now it could be announced at any moment. So if you are a traveler who is on an international flight coming into the United States that is a change that you should be prepared for.

And they are also considering John having people retest several days after they get back into the United States because health experts have said this is kind of a missing hole here where people take got one test they get into the United States but maybe they don't start to show symptoms or test positive until several days later. And so another thing under consideration that they were debating last night is--