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Roe v. Wade in Jeopardy as Texas Effectively Bans Abortion; McCarthy Threatens Companies: Don't Comply with Record Requests; Hurricane Evacuees Told to Stay Away from Cities in Crisis; Storms, Floods, Fires: Climate Crisis Visible in Disasters. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired September 01, 2021 - 06:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. It is Wednesday, September 1. Brianna is off. CNN's chief White House correspondent, Kaitlan Collins, with us this morning.

Great to have you back.


BERMAN: And we have breaking news once again this morning. Abortions banned in Texas, almost all of them. Roe v. Wade appears to be in serious jeopardy this morning. This is a huge development that has the potential to affect millions of women all across the United States, if it sparks a trend.

The Texas law, which again is in effect as of now, tries to upend Roe versus Wade and years of Supreme Court precedent, protecting the right to choose and forbidding states from outlawing abortions before fetal liability.

The new law bans most abortions after as early as six weeks of pregnancy, which is before most women even know that they're pregnant.

COLLINS: Yes, that's why there's such a big concern. And this law went into effect just after midnight after the Supreme Court chose not to respond to an emergency appeal to block its enforcement.

It allows private citizens to bring civil suits against anyone who assists a pregnant person seeking an abortion in violation of the ban.

CNN's Laura Jarrett joins us now. And Laura, this is such a huge moment. Can you tell us what this means and what you believe is going to be the future of this and whether or not it's going to get blocked?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN "EARLY START" CO-ANCHOR: Yes, this could be the defining moment for our generation. This is the moment in the battle over reproductive freedom everyone knew was coming. It was just a matter of time.

Millions of women across the state of Texas will wake up this morning to a near total ban on abortion. As of this very moment, if your doctor finds a fetal heartbeat, you cannot get an abortion. There is no exception for rape. There is no exception for incest.

And if the doctor goes ahead with it any way -- say they say, Let's just give it a try -- that doctor risks getting sued in court for up to 10 grand, not by the government, but by any random person on the street who simply doesn't like it.

And it's not just the doctor that performs the abortion. It's the staff. It's anyone who might help pay for the abortion. Even a Lyft driver who takes you to the clinic could be on the hook in court.

Maybe you think that sounds extreme, maybe illegal. Well, for a time the Supreme Court would have agreed with you. They would have said that this type of law violates a set of cases that came in the years after Roe v. Wade when the court said that states can't impose what's known as an undue burden on the right to abortion before a fetus is even viable.

But it's a different day with a different court, and now this court just let the most restrictive abortion law in the country go into effect overnight, guys.

And why this is such a big deal, not just for women in Texas, is because it sends a chill down the spine to every woman in this country who is worried about their state, fearing they may use this as a blueprint for what could be a way to get around Roe v. Wade in ways that didn't work in years past.

BERMAN: So there's a bunch going on here that I think we need to understand. First of all, No. 1, this law is in place as of now.

JARRETT: Correct.

BERMAN: Right. And that is because the U.S. Supreme Court overnight refused to step in and block it. Now, they may still hear this case and decide on its merits. But the fact that they didn't step in last night or overnight is significant.

JARRETT: Yes. By refusing to step in so far, they have effectively stepped in, as you and I talked before the show started. Right? They've effectively made a choice.

Because abortion providers tried to file what's known as an emergency petition to say, Hey, this is a big deal. Please put it on hold while the case works its way through. And a lot of times you see that, right? Injunctions left and right while the case works its way through.

Here, the court has not acted, but they could still rule. At this very moment they could issue a decision or later this morning they could decide to put it on hold while the case works its way through. But as of right now, because they did not act overnight, you cannot

get an abortion in most cases. There are medical emergencies. But in most cases, you cannot get an abortion in the state of Texas.

BERMAN: Doing nothing was something --


BERMAN: -- for the Supreme Court overnight. And no other six-week ban has ever gone into effect even briefly. So do we have any understanding of why they didn't weigh in?

JARRETT: Because the court looks a lot different than it did several years ago, and it certainly looks a lot different than it did almost 48 years ago when Roe came down.

There is now a 6-3 split on this court because of the former president and his appointment of Kavanaugh and all the other justices, like Amy Coney Barrett. So there's just a different makeup these days. They just may decide this is the way that we don't have to weigh into what is probably the biggest wedge issue in our entire country right now.

COLLINS: And this is why there was such a big concern when Trump had three people that he was putting on the Supreme Court, because even long after he's out of office, this is still something that can happen.

JARRETT: And when Justice Ginsburg died, this was the concern, right? This was always the issue, that Roe would come up and the justices would find a way to overturn it.

BERMAN: You brought up something, which is a legal difference to this beyond just the makeup of the court, which probably is the most important part of this going forward. But this law does something new and different than we haven't seen. It's not actually the state of Texas enforcing the ban. And that is where there is Supreme Court precedent.



BERMAN: That is where the court would have had a long time letting this stand overnight, if it was the Texas marshals who marched in and prevented abortions. No, it's this bizarre twist where private individuals can sue.

JARRETT: Yes. This is the genius of what they have done, is to allow private individuals to sue. Because as you had said, in most cases, it's the state v an abortion provider, right? It's the government actor doing something that violates the Constitution. And then an abortion provider can say, Hey, that violates my 14th Amendment rights.

Or a woman can say that violates my right for freedom of choice. That violates my right of liberty under the 14th Amendment. That gives them the hook to sue.

Here there is no hook, because the person on the other side of the v is just a private citizen. It can be anybody who has any objection at all to why someone had an abortion.

COLLINS: That's what's so broad. It says plaintiffs, who need not have any connection to the matter or show any injury from it, are entitled to $10,000, and their legal fees are covered if they win.

JARRETT: And -- and the definition --

COLLINS So that is going to make this hard to challenge.

JARRETT: -- of aiding and abetting under the statute, right? So literally, the Lyft driver who takes you to the clinic; maybe your mom paid for the abortion. Who, whatever it is.

Let's be clear, who this impacts the most is low-income women, right? I can fly anywhere in the United States and get any medical procedure I want. But if I'm a low-income woman in Texas this morning, I cannot do that.

BERMAN: So historically, polls have shown that a majority of Americans support the right to choose. It's not an overwhelming majority. It's, you know, around 50 or 60 percent.

It's a higher percentage in the first trimester that supports the freedom to choose an abortion. And this is in the first trimester.

JARRETT: Yes, well that's exactly -- By linking it to the heart beat, that's what they've done here. Right? So we talk about six weeks. But what if you hear a heartbeat at five weeks, right? It can be literally before you even know you're pregnant.

So say you go in at eight weeks when a lot of women do, when they try to see, OK, am I actually pregnant? You go in at eight weeks. That is now too late. If you hear a heartbeat, you are too late, case closed.

COLLINS: And what are we hearing, if anything, from Democratic lawmakers on this? Obviously, this has been an energizing issue for them at times, especially in recent years. Have they said anything about this, given this went into effect and nothing has come from the Supreme Court?

JARRETT: Well, this happened late overnight. So I'm sure people are going to be waking up to this news literally right now. I'm sure anybody who was checking their phone overnight on Twitter saw a bunch of legal reporters very jazzed up about this, as we were all anticipating the Supreme Court weighing in.

But by not weighing in, this is now something that Democrats have a choice. Do you want to make this an issue for midterms?

And the president has a choice. What does he want to do with this? Does he want to weigh in on this? Again, other than guns, can you think of a more cultural flashpoint than abortion? The president and, I think, Democratic lawmakers have a lot of interesting choices ahead of them.

BERMAN: And again, we should make clear, the Supreme Court at any point today, tomorrow, the next day could weigh in. And ultimately, they will make a ruling on abortion on some kind of a case that will have an impact on this.

But the fact that they didn't intervene overnight when actually intervening would have been a decision for the status quo.

JARRETT: Yes. And they have -- there's a Mississippi law that's being challenged in the Supreme Court right now, a direct challenge to Roe that tries to ban abortion at 15 weeks. So they could have said, let's just stay it. Let's hear it all together, but they didn't, at least for now.

BERMAN: All right. Stay tuned. Really, stay tuned over the next several hours here, because I think when people realize what's happened, there's going to be a lot of reaction. Thanks so much.

COLLINS: We'll keep you updated if they do decide to weigh in.

But we do have another big story that's developing this morning. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has issued a not-so-veiled threat to the telecommunications companies after the committee investigating the January 6th attack has asked them to retain phone records that could be relevant to the investigation.

McCarthy is now claiming that that would be in violation of federal law, though his office didn't tell CNN which law. He's warning them that, if they comply, a future Republican majority -- I'm quoting him now -- "will not forget."

Joining us now is CNN legal analyst Norm Eisman [SIC]. He was a special impeachment counsel to the House Judiciary Committee in Trump's first impeachment trial.

Norm, what law is Kevin McCarthy talking about here? Is there one?

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Kaitlan, nice to be back with you, and you, John.

No, there's no law. This is the equivalent of the proverbial gangster walking into the business and saying, Gee, nice telecom company you have here. It would be a shame if you anything that happened to it.

It's the exact opposite. It's Orwellian. If these telecom companies failed to comply about requirement to preserve these records, if they did what Kevin McCarthy wants and refused to turn over the records, Kaitlan, that would be a violation of law.

So this is absolutely unjustified by law, and it raises serious questions under the House ethics rules and other laws for Kevin McCarthy himself.

[06:10:09] BERMAN: You bring up House ethics rules. Does this constitute legally obstruction by threatening the telecom companies for -- with future action?

EISEN: Well, John, it meets the elements of obstruction. It's a threat. It's an attempt to stop them, through that threat, from turning over documents. It's self-motivated. It's corrupt.

And McCarthy is worried about what may be in those records on him and on members of his caucus.

It's always a challenge when you have legislative activity. And note that he did this on his official Twitter account. You have protection under the Constitution for legislatures [SIC] -- legislators, the speech and debate clause. There will be a debate about that.

But the House ethics rules, Rule 23 prohibits any behavior that brings discredit upon the House. What could be more discreditable than threatening companies that, if they comply with the law, they'll be punished when McCarthy has the ability to do that?

So, I think there's a serious ethics issue and then legal issues, potentially, that need to be explored, as well.

COLLINS: Right. And all this is him hinging this on Republicans taking back the majority, of course. We don't know that that will happen.

Norm, we do know that the committee didn't name names of lawmakers whose records they want. But we do know Kevin McCarthy is someone who spoke to former President Trump on January 6. So do you think that he has a personal motivation in making this threat?

EISEN: There's no question about it. We know that his behavior is going to be called into question. And the committee is going to probe his exchanges with the president.

We know that members of his caucus, like Matt Gaetz, Mo Brooks, Marjorie Taylor Greene, are also in the crosshairs here, and possibly many others.

And Kaitlan, it's not just January 6. The committee correctly understands that President Trump's pattern of incitement and that of his enablers went back for months in illegitimately attacking an unquestioned electoral result and whipping people into a frenzy.

So there could be some very embarrassing revelations. Remember that many, many members of the Republican caucus, with no basis at all, voted against certifying the election results.

BERMAN: Ambassador Norm Eisen, always a pleasure. Thanks for getting up for us.

EISEN: Thanks, guys. Great to be with you.

BERMAN: Triple-digit heat in store for Louisiana today as residents brace for what could be a month without power. We are live in New Orleans.

COLLINS: Plus, new details about another member of Congress reportedly making an unauthorized trip to Afghanistan.



COLLINS: The governor of Louisiana is telling people who evacuated not to return home yet as many in the state still don't have power. And temperatures are expected to be in the triple digits again today.

There is a shortage of food, water and gas as people, as you can see here, are waiting in line for hours to get many of those three.

The mayor of New Orleans says it's possible that some electricity could be restored today, so we're going to go to CNN's Ryan Young, who is live in New Orleans.

Ryan, what are you hearing from these officials about whether or not people who live in Louisiana, those who evacuated can expect to get power any time soon?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that really is the big question. I can tell you, people really want their power back. As you can imagine, it is extremely hot here. And you can see right here this power line that is down out in front of the school that we're standing in front of, there's insulation everywhere. Because as you look above, the roof has been blown off the side of this building.

The same time, though, you have people who are desperately wanting some sort of power so they can get the air back on and try to get back to some normal part of life.


YOUNG (voice-over): With no power and sweltering heat, Louisianians are waiting in long lines for a chance to find essential items like food and gasoline.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These people are going to wait hours to get gas, probably seven, eight hours to get gas. It's not good.

YOUNG: Hurricane Ida knocking out water systems and shutting down cell phone service for many. As the days go on, residents are increasingly frustrated.

RONALD PEGUE, ALGIERS, LOUISIANA, RESIDENT: The food issue, the water issue, I don't think they have these things out quick enough.

YOUNG: And with dangerous conditions after the storm, local leaders say it's tough to get resources in here.

CYNTHIA LEE SHENG, PRESIDENT, JEFFERSON PARISH, LOUISIANA: The difficulty is the supply chain. They're having the same difficulties getting their supplies here as we're having, you know, living here. So it's going to take some time.

YOUNG: Nearly a million homes and businesses in Louisiana have no electricity. And for many, it will be out for weeks.

GOV. BEL EDWARDS (D-LA): I'm not satisfied with 30 days. The energy people aren't satisfied with 30 days. Nobody who's out there needing power is satisfied with that.

YOUNG: The New Orleans mayor saying some power could be restored today.

MAYOR LATOYA CANTRELL (D), NEW ORLEANS Again, the expectation should not be, because it's not a real one, that the entire city will be lit.

YOUNG: At Tulane University, classes are cancelled until September 12, students loading into buses and evacuated to Houston, where some will stay and others will make their way home.

MIKE FITTS, PRESIDENT, TULANE UNIVERSITY: Even if you have power on campus, if power's out in all of New Orleans, you can't stay here. You can't to -- there's no food. There's no supplies. It's not a -- it's not a good situation.

YOUNG: Volunteers trying to help, setting up in New Orleans to provide hot and cold meals.


ERICA CHOMSKY-ADELSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CULTURE AID NOLA: New Orleans is known for caring for our community. And a lot of the ways that we show love is food.

YOUNG: With patience wearing thin, the governor urging people who evacuated to wait to return.

EDWARDS: Please don't come home before they tell you that it's time.

YOUNG: But for those who stayed through the storm, it's time to begin cleanup. In LaPlace, one resident saying Ida was unlike any other hurricane she's experienced before.

DOMINIQUE THOMAS, LAPLACE, LOUISIANA, RESIDENT: I keep telling myself, it was just stuff. And as long as everybody was OK, that's all that mattered.

YOUNG: Meantime, Lafourche Parish, this neighborhood is now filled with debris, remnants of warehouses and other structures once stood.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was real scary. I won't stay again. No way. But I just thank God we all made it.

YOUNG: Flood waters still surrounding homes in Grand Isle, where it could take years to rebuild.

BRYAN ADAMS, DIRECTOR, JEFFERSON PARISH FIRE SERVICES: I never seen it look like this. It's decimated. People are very sad. A lot of people have lost their homes, talked about they don't know if they'll have the money to go back. They don't have the money to go back, can't afford to go back.


YOUNG: Yes, between Louisiana and Mississippi, we have five total deaths at this point. And as you look around here, you understand the massive amount of work that's being done to try to get the city back online.

But when you think about this, there are power crews from all across the country that have flown in to this state to try get to things back on.

My cousin is a linesman. He's actually somewhere in the state with his crew from Florida, trying to help to get the power back on.

You hear this over and over again as people are looking for some sign of hope that the power comes back on, because clearly with this heat, you're worried about especially the older Americans that are here that are trapped.

Yesterday as we were driving through the city, so many people sitting on their porches trying to escape the heat or sitting in gas lines running out of gas waiting to get gas. You know this sort of come bounds over the next few days.

KEILAR: Yes, Ryan. It just has this domino effect where it affects sewage, being able to get gas. All of these things. It's just one big line.

So we're thinking of those people and your cousin, who is doing very important work that is critical. Hopefully going to help a lot of people. Thank you, Ryan.

BERMAN: God bless Ryan's cousin.


BERMAN: All right. Hurricanes, wildfires, floods, heat waves, drought. Millions of people across the United States dealing with the impact of these disasters this morning.

And as the climate crisis accelerates, experts say these extreme events will only become more severe and more frequent.

Joining me now is Kim Cobb. She's a professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech and one of the lead authors of a new U.N. Climate report.

Professor, thanks so much for being with us.

KIM COBB, PROFESSOR, GEORGIA TECH: Thank you for having me.

BERMAN: For years what experts like you have told us is, is that climate change doesn't necessarily create these events, but it adds to the intensity of them. It makes them the destructive forces that they are.

To what extent is that what we are seeing at this point with storms like Ida or the wildfires we're seeing around Lake Tahoe?

COBB: Well, unfortunately, the signature of human-caused climate change is now very clear.

We've known that decades of fossil fuel emissions are warming the planet, and now this report outlines newer and stronger links between that warming and any number of climate and weather extremes, including heat waves, droughts, fire-prone weather and tropical cyclones like Hurricane Ida. This is now clear.

Unfortunately, that's the bad news, because with every additional increment of warming, we now know that this -- this future of climate impacts will get worse. We have precious little time to hold warming to a minimum level of 1.5 degrees Celsius, as outlined in the Paris accord, and minimize risks.

BERMAN: Why does it make it more intense?

COBB: Well, it really is -- comes back to the heating at the end of the day. The heating that is caused by fossil fuels has now warmed every region of the world.

And whether it's wild fires out west, which of course, the heat is drying out soil layers, drying out vegetation, creating more fuel for those wild fires. We also see an increase noted in the report in dry, windy, hot conditions that is that fire prone weather that's referenced in the report.

Down here in the southeast, we're talking about, of course, year on year on year of headlines with hurricanes. It's not just Ida. We've seen this every single year with record-topping hurricanes.

The report calls out an increase in Category 4 and 5s in recent decades and notes that these will, as well, get worse with warming. We saw Hurricane Ida's intensification over the warmest waters of the Gulf. That would be Exhibit A in this strong role between ocean surface warming and tropical cyclone and hurricane strength.

BERMAN: Professor Kim Cobb, we appreciate you being with us. To quote the Lorax here, Unless. This will keep on happening unless we take action and do something about it.

Thank you so much for your time and your work on this.

COBBS: Thank you.

BERMAN: President Biden defending his decision to end America's longest war.

KEILAR: Plus, another member of Congress has reportedly tried to go to Afghanistan. New details about his whereabouts and what he is trying to accomplish by going to a very dangerous place.



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Extraordinary success of this mission was due to the incredible skill, bravery and selfless courage of the United States military and our diplomats and intelligence professionals.


BERMAN: That's President Biden praising the military evacuation from Kabul and forcefully rejecting critics who say he abandoned Americans and their Afghan allies to the Taliban.

Joining us now, CNN White House correspondent John Harwood. John, the words that jumped out were the extraordinary success of this mission. There are people who are saying that President Biden needed to show humility over the last few weeks, acknowledge mistakes.

He's doing the opposite in general right now.