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Louisiana Poised To Make Abortion Drugs Controlled Substances; Trump & RFK Jr. To Speak At Libertarian Convention This Weekend; IDF Recovers Bodies Of 3 Hostages From Gaza; Mother Of Hostage Says She's Living An "Ongoing Terror Attack". Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired May 24, 2024 - 12:30   ET




DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Louisiana already has one of the strictest abortion laws in the country, a total ban with no exceptions for rape or incest. But now, it could be even harder for anyone there to get access to the two drugs commonly used in medication abortions, misoprostol and mifepristone. State lawmakers sent a new bill to the Republican governor there, Jeff Landry. They sent that yesterday, and it could upend abortion care in that state.

CNN's Dianne Gallagher has been covering this. Diane, what exactly does this new bill do, and do we expect the governor to sign it?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So we do expect him to sign this into law, Dana. And though his office has not responded to CNN's outreach, Governor Landry is responding to Vice President Kamala Harris on X and her criticism saying just about an hour ago that he is proud to stand with the legislature on this bill.

Now, Louisiana is poised to become the first state in the nation to classify mifepristone and misoprostol, two drugs that are commonly used to endorse -- induce abortion as schedule four dangerous controlled substances. If it does become law, this would make just the possession of these drugs without a valid prescription, a felony that is punishable with up to five years in prison and hefty fines of up to $5,000.

If you're charged with the intent to distribute, it would be triple the penalties there. Now, the legislation does not apply to pregnant women who are found to be in possession of these drugs for their own consumption. They would be exempt. Supporters say this would protect expectant mothers.

The overall aim of the bill was to make it a crime to give somebody an abortion drug without their knowledge or consent. The bill's sponsor says that his sister was given misoprostol by her estranged husband without her knowledge and against her will. Other supporters say that, look, doctors can still prescribe these for, quote, "legitimate reasons."

But look, people who say doctors, especially in Louisiana, Dana, they say that this is going to add -- it's going to add all sorts of issues to them trying to prescribe this. Hurdles, confusion, stigma, and they note that neither one of these drugs are addictive, nor do they have any sort of potential for abuse or harmful side effects.

They also point out that they are used for other things besides inducing abortion, including miscarriage management, as well as stopping hemorrhaging, inducing labor, and even treating stomach ulcers, Dana.

BASH: Dianne, thank you so much for that report. I really appreciate it.

Up next, RFK Jr. is set to take the stage at the Libertarian convention today. You won't be the only candidate there this weekend vying for votes. We'll explain next.



ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR. (I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Trump came to office saying, I'm going to run it like a business. I'm a businessman. Trust me. We need a businessman to run it like a business. And then he closed down all of our businesses.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: RFK Jr., I call him Jr. -- by the way, he's radical left. Don't think about it. Don't waste your vote.


BASH: There you see President Trump, the former president and RFK Jr have been increasingly focused on one another over the last few weeks. And this weekend, they're going to be on the same stage at different times. Both are set to speak at the Libertarian Party's National Convention, vying for the support of any persuadable voters they can find in the crowd.

CNN's Eva McKend joins us here at the table. Eva, you're covering that convention. What do we expect?

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Kennedy essentially believes that he can compete with some of the same pool of voters that Trump can. Something that strikes me about the Libertarian Convention, the theme is become ungovernable.

Well that is right up Kennedy's alley. His whole theme is really questioning our institutions. He often says he doesn't trust the agencies and neither should anyone in the American public. And so, he believes that he can slowly persuade some of these voters to his camp, especially because at this point, no one in the Libertarian Party has emerged as the prominent candidate. They will, libertarians, elect someone over the weekend, but their name is not going to be as prominent as Kennedy.

BASH: And the fact that Trump, Kennedy, two obviously very prominent names, are going to this convention is very unusual.

DAVID WEIGEL, REPORTER, SEMAFOR: It is. And Kennedy started this. He went to the California Libertarian Convention in February and he got a friendly reception. There were people who came to the convention just to see him. But they took a straw poll. He got a single vote in the room of delegates.

So, there was talk about him maybe running for this nomination and solving all his ballot problems with one swoop.

BASH: Yes.

WEIGEL: He's not going to do that. They're both willing to go into crowds. There might be boos, which a lot of candidates want to avoid. There might be people who heckle them. That happened in California.

BASH: He's not going to do that because they don't want him.

WEIGEL: They -- Kennedy and Trump both have just done things that are heretical to the kind of person who becomes a libertarian delegate. They, especially the current party, has moved to the right in a number of ways.


The Mises Caucus, which runs it now, and they're open about this. They want it to be an open forum. The chair of the party, Angela McArdle, said they're not going to do very well this year. She said this in California too.

Kennedy's going to get a lot of votes that otherwise would go to libertarians. So this is a building year. They want to make the party relevant. They want to be in the conversation, but they know that all of the anti-government energy is up for grabs, as you were saying. Yes.

MCKEND: To that point, on housing, on climate, there are a number of progressive policies, costly. Progressive policies that Kennedy --


MCKEND: -- champions, that would not be in line with more conservative libertarian voters. So to the extent that he rails against the agencies, he also has a platform that uplifts some pretty costly spending on some issues.

BASH: And I just want to read a quote from back in 2018 from the executive director Wes Benedict, the Executive Director in 2018 of the Libertarian Party. Trump is the opposite of a libertarian. "We also should have expected that Trump would easily be capable of running trillion-dollar deficits. After all, he does have vast personal experience with bankruptcy."

LEIGH ANN CALDWELL, EARLY 202 CO-AUTHOR, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes. And when he was in office, he spent a lot of money and like you just said, ran up the debt and deficit. But Donald Trump is there because he is also trying to compete with Kennedy for his voters.

Both Donald Trump and President Biden are taking RFK Jr. very seriously. They know that he is doing well in the polling, considering in the double digits and most polling. He is pulling from both Trump supporters and Biden supporters, and that's he's a threat to both of them.

BASH: He's a threat, but he is only on the ballot right now in Michigan, Utah, Hawaii, Delaware, California and Oklahoma. He's gathered signatures for many more, but it hasn't been approved. The Libertarian Party, it is on the ballot in most battleground states except Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, which is sort of, to the earlier point, you know, it does beg the question why Kennedy didn't try harder to get on the Libertarian Party ballot --


BASH: -- because it's nomination.

KIM: Right. Because he does have a lot of things going for him. You have broad displeasure among the electorate with both Trump and Biden who are looking for a potential third party alternative. You have the Kennedy name, you have resources, but it's getting on that balance. That's the challenge.

You name the states where he himself has gotten on, not really swing states, not really states where they will really matter.

CALDWELL: Except Michigan.

KIM: Except for Michigan, where it could really swing. So that -- and so that's the biggest challenge for RFK right now. And to Leigh Ann's point, you do really see both Donald Trump and Joe Biden's campaign push hard against RFK. I think it's still pretty unclear who he really hurts. Perhaps it's both.

So that's why you see the DNC relentlessly attacking him on, for say, abortion. And then you have Donald Trump, you know, just that we saw on TV earlier saying he is far right. So it's really interesting to see both those twin dynamics going on for both sides against RFK.

BASH: Yes. It's just fascinating to see. And we do have to wrap up the conversation to see, as you reported the Libertarian Party is saying it's the first time that they're having people from other parties come and speak at their conventions, especially the presumptive Republican nominee.

OK, an ongoing terror attack, that's how a mother describes the 230 days since her daughter was kidnapped by Hamas terrorists during the barbaric assault on Israel. We're going to bring you the video she says the world needs to see.


[12:48:11] BASH: Now to a sobering development in the Middle East. Today, Israeli forces discovered the bodies of three more hostages in Gaza. Hamas terrorists killed them the day of their barbaric raid on Israel on October 7th, and took their bodies to Gaza.

30-year-old Orion Hernandez Radoux, who was attending the Nova music festival, 42-year-old Hanan Yablonka, a father of two who was also at the music festival with friends, and 59-year-old Michel Nisenbaum, who was on his way to pick up his young granddaughter.

121 other hostages are still being held in Gaza. 230 days later, and this week, the families of some of those hostages were released a horrifying video showing how five Israeli women were kidnapped that day. The families wanted you to see what's happening to their loved ones.


(Speaking Foreign Language)


BASH: These women all work for the IDF. You can see their hands and feet are bound. Their faces are bruised and bloody. This video was previously released by Hamas and then edited by the IDF to remove parts that were too gruesome to see. Hard to imagine anything more gruesome than what we are looking at.

And one of the women you just saw is 19-year-old Naama Levy. The video of Naama being pulled out of a jeep on October 7th, her pants bloodied, was one of the first images the world saw that raised concerns about Hamas using sexual violence as a weapon of war.


CNN's Bianna Golodryga joins me now. And Bianna, you have been covering the story extensively and so well and it's so important to keep talking about this. And one of the things that you've been doing is constantly talking to hostage families.

You've gotten particularly close to Naama Levy's mother. What did she tell you about why they decided to release this video?

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN ANCHOR & SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yes, just horrific video to watch, Dana. No matter how many times I've already seen it, I just get -- it's overwhelming to watch what these girls have gone through. And I call them girls because they are 19 years old. Naama Levy, I spent time with her family, as you said, her mother, Dr. Ayelet Levy Shachar.

I visited her bedroom in Israel. She -- her walls are covered in pink wallpaper. She has teddy bears on her bed and reminder that these women did serve in the IDF, but there's mandatory conscription for Naama Levy. It happened to be her first day at work as a spotter there, is what these seven women who were kidnapped. One of them was killed, another with their body was retrieved, and there are five that are currently believed to still be held in Gaza. They were military spotters along the border with Gaza there, and Nahal Oz is their military base, where you saw that they were overwhelmed by Hamas terrorists.

And I spoke with Naama Levy's mom earlier this week and she told me they had access to this video for a number of weeks, the families of these seven young women, these girls. And there had been a lot of debate internal strife about what they should do differing views on whether they should release this video or not.

And I asked her why they chose to release it now and she said that they just felt they ultimately had no other options but to release it to put more pressure on those who are in charge of the negotiations. They felt that they once again hit a wall and they wanted to put more pressure on these officials to make sure they were doing everything they could to release their daughters.

Here's what she said.


DR. AYELET LEVY SHACHAR, MOTHER OF HOSTAGE, NAAMA LEVY: This is their job, so they can make correct decisions. Then, you know, we think that we should just put it out there for our citizens and for the world to see. (INAUDIBLE). This is what they were facing. This is the terror attack. And this has been going on because they have not returned home yet.


BASH: I mean, I just -- I cannot even imagine the pain that she and every other family member are feeling right now, particularly given what we now have seen. You can hear, Bianna, one of the terrorists say, here are girls who can get pregnant, which should make anybody sick. Did you talk to Naama's mother about that?

GOLODRYGA Yes, I did. And remember, as you noted in the introduction, that Naama is being pulled out of that jeep so aggressively, her -- by the hair, her pants blood stained, really started the conversation in the investigation and the focus on sexual crimes and violence committed by Hamas against Israeli women that day.

Now, there is no confirmation or proof that Naama Levy herself was raped or sexually violated. But, of course, any mother seeing those harrowing images and then once again, seeing them just a few weeks ago in this new video and hearing those chilling words from the Hamas terrorists, she said, it's just another reminder of why it's so important for her, for the world to see it, for those who are leading the negotiations to see it, for her own government officials to see it.

And she also responded to -- in the video, you can hear Naama Levy saying I have friends in Palestine. I have friends in Palestine. And what she meant by that is that Naama had always been a participant in youth movements that really encouraged and fought for peace between Israeli and Palestinian teens.

There was an organization called Hands of Peace. So she was speaking the truth when she was trying to talk to these Hamas terrorists by saying, I have friends in Palestine. Here's what her mom said.


GOLODRYGA: What was your reaction when you heard those words?

LEVY SHACHAR: Well, you know, these are our fears we were just put into words and in our faces. The exact things that we fear, we see the violence in that video. I feel like, what more can we say? What more is there to explain how the situation is?


BASH: And Bianna, I mean, it's pretty obvious to anybody that that kind of plea maybe is exactly the opposite of what Hamas terrorists want to hear. They don't want peace.


They obviously want just the opposite, which is a big reason why they did what they did on October 7th and since. Thank you so much. And I also should say that a big reason why, and you mentioned this, why the families came forward is to get the attention of the Israeli government and to put the hostages back on the front burner when it comes to the focus.

And it looks like, at least in the short term, they are having a meeting, or they did have a meeting which makes it a modicum of success.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. And Bill Burns is traveling to Europe again hopefully to renew these negotiation talks.

BASH: Yes.

GOLODRYGA: But they're wanting to put the pressure on --

BASH: Yes.

GOLODRYGA: -- for them. They said every day is a terror attack as long as their children remain in Gaza.

BASH: Bianna, you're incredible. Thank you so much for being here. Appreciate it.

GOLODRYGA: Thank you, Dana.

BASH: And thank you for joining Inside Politics. I'll be back on Sunday for State of the Union. My guests include South Carolina Republican Senator Tim Scott and Minnesota Governor Tim Walz. CNN News Central starts after the break.