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Roe V. Wade in Jeopardy as Texas Effectively Bans Abortion; Big Parts of Louisiana Still Without Power as Heat Threatens; Biden Remains Defiant in Defense of Afghanistan Withdrawal. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired September 01, 2021 - 07:00   ET



BJORN BRUNWAN, ATTORNEY FOR CAPITOL RIOT DEFENDANT ROBERT SCOTT PALMER: He recognizes that. He's sorry about being involved in those activities and he accepts --

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world, it is Tuesday, August 31st. I'm John Berman. Brianna is off this morning. Chief White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins is here with me, great to have you.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN NEW DAY: We just lost Robert Scott Palmer's attorney's feed. He says that his client regrets being there at the January 6 attack. Thank you for being here with us today. And thank you for being with us today. We are going to continue with the news and New Day continues right now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: And welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. It is Wednesday, September 1st. I'm John Berman. Brianna is off. I'm here with Chief White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins again.

COLLINS: Again thank you for having me.

BERMAN: It's great to have you back.

And we have breaking news this morning, a seismic shift on abortion rights. As of this moment, Roe versus Wade essentially upended. At the stroke of midnight the most restrictive abortion law in the country went into effect in Texas. It essentially bans all abortions after six weeks, six weeks before most women even know they are pregnant.

Now, this law gives private citizens the right to sue doctors or anyone else connected to a woman getting an abortion for as much as $10,000. All they need to do is help. It could be a Lyft driver to take a woman to a clinic who could be sued. And the timing on this is once a fetal heartbeat is detected.

COLLINS: So this law is in effect for now because the Supreme Court didn't act on a request to block it. Through their inaction though, the justices have left the tightest abortion restriction since Roe versus Wade to be enforced. And the landmark decision itself could now be in jeopardy.

So, joining us now to talk about all this is CNN Chief Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin. Why do you think the Supreme Court hasn't enacted on this yet?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: This is a very peculiar situation designed to create legal complications. Because of the law Berman just mentioned, the way the law is structured, it is not the state of Texas that enforces the law the way it works in most states, the way it works in every state, it is the system of private enforcement, private attorneys general, it's called.

And what this difficulty it's created is that it's unclear who the abortion provider should sue. Usually, you just sue the state government and the court issues an injunction on state government don't enforce the law. With no single enforcer of the law, there is this procedural problem that abortion providers have that it is unclear who they're supposed to sue. That's what's creating this legal tangle separate from the issue about the abortion law but the effect is that this law is now in effect and Roe v. Wade essentially does not exist in the state of Texas and probably more in states to come.

BERMAN: There is so much about this that's fascinating, but it's that last sentence from you, Jeff, that I think people need to understand. As of now, Roe versus Wade overturned isn't the right word, but upended I think is.

TOOBIN: Exactly right. January 23rd, 1973, the day of Roe v. Wade was the last time a state had laws banning abortion. Today, September 1st, 2021, is the first day since 1973 where a state has legally banned abortion. There are no more abortion clinics functioning in Texas, zero.

BERMAN: Six weeks, its viability, fetal viability, which is about six weeks, and there are some estimates that about 85 percent, if not, higher of abortions in Texas take place after that. It's before most women even know they're pregnant.

TOOBIN: And remember, it's not -- that's the law. But think about what an abortion provider has to think about in light of this law. If you are sued, not only -- sued successfully for aiding and abetting an abortion, that's the term that's used in the law, if you're sued successfully, you have to pay the $10,000 fine, you have to shut down and you have to pay the attorney's fees of the plaintiff in the case, whoever the plaintiff may be. It could be somebody in Montana could be the plaintiff. It could be anyone in the country suing to stop people from having abortions. So, being rational actors, these abortion clinics are saying, look, we're just not going to do this.


TOOBIN: And that is the clear purpose of the law.

COLLINS: And, obviously, who it would predominantly affect are lower income women. And The Washington Post says 85 to 90 percent of people who get abortions in Texas are at least six weeks into pregnancy, because they don't know that they're pregnant that early on.

And the president of the Center for Reproductive Rights says, now patients will have to travel out of state in the middle of a pandemic to receive constitutionally guaranteed healthcare.


TOOBIN: This is exactly the same situation as if Roe v. Wade had been overturned. Because if Roe v. Wade is overturned, that means it will be up to each state. So, you know, virtually all the red states will ban abortion. But New York, California, many other blue states will not ban abortions. So the question will be, if you want an abortion in a red state, can you somehow make it to a blue state? Do you have the economic resources? Do you have the time? Or can you get what's called a medical abortion, which is now -- which is -- an increasing way women are able to terminate their pregnancies through medication? But believe me the red states are doing their best to ban that again.

BERMAN: This is a roadmap for how they can do it, which is why I say, as of this moment, as we sit here at 7:05 Eastern Time today, Roe versus Wade has been upended in Texas, Jeffrey. And I'm curious because the Supreme Court did not step in overnight, and they could have. And as I said to Laura Jarrett before, doing nothing was doing something here. This is a statement. How am I supposed to read this from the Supreme Court overnight?

TOOBIN: I think you are supposed to read it as doom is coming for Roe v. Wade.

Now, entirely separate from this Texas case, there is a Mississippi case in the traditional manner of Supreme Court cases. You know, one of the, frankly, many outrageous things about what's gone on in Texas here is that the Supreme Court has acted in what's called the shadow docket. There was no formal briefing of this case. There was no oral argument of this case. Roe v. Wade is sort of thrown out of the back of the caboose without any sort of ceremony here.

Now, there will be a case about a Mississippi law that is almost as restrictive as Roe v. Wade -- as this Texas law that will be argued after October when the Supreme Court -- now, that will be the opportunity for the six conservative justices you just saw on the screen to formally end Roe v. Wade in the United States. But, this decision has the effect of ending Roe v. Wade without actually performing the ceremonial burial.

COLLINS: While you're here with us this morning, I also want to get your opinion on what House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said overnight, threatening essentially these telecommunications companies that have gotten requests from the committee investigating January 6th, saying essentially that if they comply, that they have hell to pay potentially if Republicans take the majority.

One of the things you learn as an assistant U.S. attorney is that these telecommunication companies have entire offices devoted to responding to subpoenas. It is completely routine for Verizon and company to answer subpoenas. The idea that they somehow have the obligation, much less the legal right, to simply say to a valid subpoena, we're not complying, is incredible to me.

Now, it is true. It is somewhat more unusual for a congressional committee to subpoena records than it is for an assistant U.S. attorney for the Department of Justice, but it still has happened before. So I really have no idea what legal basis Kevin McCarthy has to make this threat other than just bluster because phone companies reply to subpoenas. That's what they do.

BERMAN: Jeffrey, can we just go back to the Supreme Court for one second here, because this is something you have talked about and written about for a long time here. The Supreme Court and abortion has been very animating, perhaps more animating for conservatives, even though a majority of Americans support abortion rights certainly within the first trimester. What impact, if this sticks in Texas and this seismic shift happens, which, as of right now, it has happened, what impact do you think it might have politically? Could that animate Democratic voters?

TOOBIN: This has been the great unanswered questions. Donald Trump ran for president saying, I will appoint justices to the supreme court who will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. He has three appointees on the court. There are three other appointees on the court, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and John Roberts, who have spoken out against Roe v. Wade before. Although Roberts has later said he supports the president. But there are five justices, it appears, the three Trump appointees plus -- there they are on the screen -- plus Thomas and Alito, who seem like solid votes to overturn Roe v. Wade.

We have been accused those of us who have been saying that Roe is about to be overturned as being Chicken Little, the sky is falling, the sky is falling. We'll see, because it certainly looks like the sky is falling now.

Republicans have been very upfront what they want to do on the Supreme Court but they haven't done it. As of now, as of the Mississippi case, they may actually do it.


And we'll see what, if any, political blowback there is. You know, it has certainly been more animating and successful issue for Republicans than for Democrats, but as states start to outright ban abortion, maybe that will change. But I don't hazard a prediction about that.

BERMAN: Jeffrey Toobin, thanks so much.

TOOBIN: All right.

BERMAN: The new overnight, signs of progress in the power emergency after Hurricane Ida. More than a million still in the dark, including all of New Orleans, but Louisiana's regional power company is aiming to restore some electricity to the New Orleans area by this evening. I hope they're right because, as of now, they haven't had any progress.

Incredible new video shows the devastation in Grand Isle, Louisiana, a barrier island 50 miles south of Louisiana. The fire director says half of the homes have just been wiped away.


BRYAN ADAMS, DIRECTOR, JEFFERSON PARISH FIRE SERVICES: I've never seen it look like this. It's decimated.

The people are very sad. A lot of people have lost their homes, talking about they don't know whether they'll go back or not because they don't have the money to go back, can't afford to go back.


COLLINS: Some people went to extraordinary measures to survive Hurricane Ida and help those in their communities. One man pulled a boat filled with gas, water and priceless possessions through waist deep water after surveying the damage to his home in LaPlace, Louisiana.

Joining me now is Christopher Vilagran. He shot that video. Christopher, what can you tell us about what it's been like in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida?

CHRISTOPHER VILAGRAN, LOUISIANA RESIDENT HELPING SURVIVORS OF HURRICANE IDA: It's just total devastation. We've been through this with Isaac before and it just seems to not get any better here in Louisiana. It's just hard. It's just hard on a lot of residents here, you know, to go through this all the time and just waiting on government assistance and people. We have been through this with Katrina. We know the effects of it when it's a category 4 or 5 hurricane coming through Louisiana.

COLLINS: Yes, and often some of the worst effects can come after the storm has passed and people are without power, without those supplies that we just saw you with there. How have officials on the ground been? Have they been helpful? Are you getting what you need so far? Or what is this looking like?

VILAGRAN: It's so-so, like we're getting like -- one of the parishes, St. Charles Parish, has been good on updating their parish. Like I said, I stay in St. John LaPlace. Jackie has been so-so on getting the information out. I'm staying with my father-in-law in Kenner, Louisiana, Jefferson Parish president, it's up and down. Like the information is here, if it's not -- if it wasn't for social media and just people kind of just taking the time and telling where supplies are, what you have got to do, how long the lines are where you can get things, good thing for that because I like to see the people come together and that's what we're doing right now.

COLLINS: Well -- and we see you there with this boat. How far did you drag this boat full of supplies?

VILAGRAN: Probably about a good quarter mile. And the time that I got -- when I got back to LaPlace, because I was pretty much back there at the crack of dawn just to go to kind of assess the damage and I saw a lot of people on Facebook and Instagram, you know, hollering about they're stuck in their house. And I know my subdivision pretty good. So when I got back, I checked everybody, ended up rescuing a few kids, a couple, I brought a couple to Kenner and just kind of went back and just helped everybody that I could to get out of my subdivision. And once like Wildlife Fishery and the Cajun Navy came, it just felt good that everybody that needed help were out of the subdivision. So, no casualties, everybody was good, the people that stayed, stayed to clean up. But the subdivision was good. I was proud of that.

COLLINS: Yes, that is something to be proud of. And you've obviously lived through some of these storms and hurricanes before. How long do you think it's going to take in the aftermath of what you've seen from the damage on the ground and the days after? How long do you think this recovery process is going to be and what should people expect?

It's going to be a while. Like just in LaPlace alone, just transformers are down, like poles are down. It's going to take a good while. Just being an electrician by trade, energy coming in to try to fix some things, it's going to take at least three, four months, you know, for it to get really back to where we can get back to some normalcy just to try to get back to life. And it's hard. People's houses are flooded, roof damage.


It's another fight with the insurance company. It's hard for people to go through this again.

COLLINS: Yes, it really wears on you. And, Chris, I can see you're in your car there. Please be safe and keep us updated on what you're seeing and thank you for joining us this morning to give us some insight into what's happening on the ground.

VILAGRAN: Thank you all so much for having me.

BERMAN: Well, we want to talk more about the power situation there because it's life and death. This isn't just a matter of being able to turn the lights on. It's so much more than that.

We're joined by CNN's Tom Foreman to really dive in here. How widespread is the problem at this point, Tom?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Still, pretty widespread to put it simply. About almost 990,000 people are without power still. New Orleans right down here in Orleans Parish, but right next to Jefferson, St. Charles, Lafourche, Terrebonne, over here St. Bernard, Plaquemines Parish, all of these places are really hard hit up here to the north, Canter and LaPlace, that's over to the west, leading up toward Baton Rouge, about 1.3 million people in this general area right down, so roughly a quarter of the state's population right now without power and still a little bit more than that.

BERMAN: And it's an incredibly dangerous situation, right?

FOREMAN: Oh, yes, absolutely. It's one of the problems here. If you look at what's just happening with the weather alone, Louisiana, per capita, uses more energy than almost any state in the country because everyone has electricity -- not electricity, almost everyone has air- conditioning. And so much of the countryside down there relies on it. The gas and oil production relies on a lot of electricity, the seafood industry a lot of electricity. And look what's going to happen down here, really high temperatures, the heat index off the charts here in New Orleans, Grand Isle down there tremendously bad. Baton Rouge, they're doing a little better on getting their power back. And over here in Biloxi, they were not hit as hard but still huge, high temperatures, a terrible time of year to be facing all of this.

I get texts from friends in New Orleans because they think I have information about when the lights might be coming on. Answers are hard to come by. When can people expect power?

FOREMAN: Christopher pointed out pretty well what the problem is right now. There's a lot of loose information. That's partially because companies, like Entergy, which is the biggest supplier down there, says, look, this is a giant problem and we're still in the early stages of it.

Right now, they're really still in the assessment phase. They're trying to move forward to restoring the big power plants, the transmission lines, all eight major transmission lines coming into this area were down. So they're trying to look at all of those. Then they move to the substations, distribution lines. There's a real focus on saying, we want to get power to the hospitals, to the nursing homes, to the first responders, to all of those to begin with and slowly trickle down to the homes.

This will not be an even process. They're considering a couple of options here. One is to bring on some of the big, local stations and just get as much running as they can rather than tying it into the great big power grid, which they will have to do, eventually. But they're going to try to develop a lot of this at the same time. So they're trying to prepare things out here even though they're not ready to turn that on while they get closer over here. But it's just a really huge job.

BERMAN: Tom foreman, thanks for explaining it. When you sit up here in New England, you think, well, maybe, just throw money or thousands of people at it. It doesn't work like that. It's hard.

FOREMAN: Well, they're doing that. They have 20,000 people trying to do this but they have got to deal with floods and power lines down and cell phones not working and COVID protocols. You can't just pack these trucks full of people. Yes, this is a huge problem. They are throwing a lot of people and a lot of money at it. It's a big problem.

BERMAN: Let's hope that they make some progress. Tom Foreman, thanks so much for that.

COLLINS: Those images out of Grand Isle were stunning.

Coming up, a defiant President Biden is defending the withdrawal from Afghanistan and laying out a new vision for U.S. foreign policy. Our next guest says President Biden actually deserves credit, not blame.

BERMAN: And why two senior FDA officials are resigning as the agency faces a big decision on coronavirus booster shots. Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us live.




JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: We're left with a simple decision. Either follow through on the commitment made by the last administration and leave Afghanistan or say we weren't leaving and commit another tens of thousands more troops going back to war. That was the choice, the real choice, between leaving or escalating. I was not going to extend this forever war. And I was not extending a forever exit.


BERMAN: President Biden with a vigorous defense of his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

I want to bring David Rothkopf. He's a former senior official in the Clinton administration and the host of the Deep State radio podcast. His op-ed in The Atlantic has been getting a lot of attention in the last few days, in which he argues, Biden deserves credit, not blame for Afghanistan.

That's where I want to start, David, because this has been getting a lot of attention what you wrote there. Basically, what you're saying, and I'm going to say here I hate to speak out loud, which is narrative, you're saying that the narrative that is out there over the last few weeks that what has happened in Afghanistan the last few weeks is somehow a disaster, and the criticism that has been levied on the president. You are basically arguing it's all wrong. You need to look at this differently.

DAVID ROTHKOPH, HOST, DEEP STATE RADIO PODCAST: Well, I'm not saying it's all wrong. But what I'm saying is let's get our priorities straight. We've been in a war for 20 years. The war hasn't achieved any of its goals. It cost $2 trillion. 800 thousand Americans served, 170,000 people died, the more terrorists in the world today than there were when we started.


The Taliban has been gaining strength for years and years. People have been arguing to get out for a long time because our goals of nation building were futile goals and the president is making that happen. That's the important story here.

Now, have the past few weeks been ugly, in some cases horrific and some cases heart breaking? Yes, they have. Could it have been done better? Well, we can argue almost anything could have been done better. But what I object to is that we've taken the near-term story and put it ahead of context or perspective.

COLLINS: Do you think part of that is because the White House hasn't distinguished and the criticism over the execution of the withdrawal and the larger perspective here, the larger move here, which is the withdrawal itself, something that, of course, we should note, none of his predecessors did, even though a lot of them wanted to do, and former President Trump, of course, is one of the most recent ones.

But I think some of the criticism that the president has gotten has been over how it was handled and how quickly. But he said he does not think if they started the mass evacuation sooner that it would have been helpful, like even some Democrats have said.

ROTHKOPF: Well, I think he made a pretty compelling case about that yesterday and it doesn't take a great deal of imagination to say, well, what would happen if planes started three months ago, four months ago ferrying people out of Afghanistan? Would the government have survive? Would the military laid its arms then? He reached out to the Afghan government. He said we wanted to start this earlier and they said don't do it because it will bring us down sooner.

So, you know, they were working on this. Remember, they reached out to Americans in Afghanistan 19 times over the course of the past several months saying now is the time to leave. It's just we weren't covering the story in the same way we started covering it once Kabul fell on August 11th or there about.

BERMAN: What about the explicit promise to American citizens to keep troops there until they were all out, which is what he made to George Stephanopoulos, and the overall promise made to the Afghan allies of the United States the last two decades that the United States would get them out in time? There are we know thousands of them still there.

ROTHKOPF: Well, first of all, we got out 120,000 people in just a couple of weeks. As far as the Americans, according to the estimate from the State Department of 5,500 or 6,000 there, there are only 100 or 200 left. Secretary Blinken, President Biden have both said they will be gotten out if they need -- if they want to come out, and they're working with the Taliban on that.

I think the president was very clear yesterday, we're going to continue to work these issues with the Taliban, with our allies, with NGOs, however we can work them until everybody who wants to be out is out.

He also laid out a broader view that I thought was interesting about how he thinks foreign policy should look for the U.S. going forward, saying that nation building doesn't work in his view and the mistakes that were made there were just repeated multiple times over the last two decades. And you tweeted that we need to do is a, quote, deep accounting not just with the government but on the national level of the flaws in our system, our politics and our society that led us to make the mistakes on the scale of the Afghanistan war, the Iraq war and the war on terror.

ROTHKOPF: Well, we are coming out of a period of 20 years that may someday be seen as one of the worst in U.S. foreign policy history. Iraq was a fiasco. Afghanistan did not achieve its goals. The war on terror was a mistaken notion from the beginning. You can wage a war on a tactic and what we did was we actually inspired more terrorists out in the field.

And so we have to ask ourselves, how could we make mistakes like that? How could we make mistakes that cost $3 trillion? How could we make mistakes that cost hundreds of thousands of lives, not just American lives but Iraqi lives, Afghan lives? How could we make mistakes that kept us from promising on the real issues of the 21st century, whether the rise of China, whether it's our need to invest in ourselves, whether it's our need to focus on competitiveness and other issues?

And I think what President Biden is really trying to do is to pivot away from the mistakes of the past 20 years to preparing to lead in the century ahead. And so, the Afghan withdrawal is directly connected to building back better, to investing in the country, to focusing on China. And I think it needs to be seen in its entirety.

BERMAN: So, is it enough of a success story, in your mind, that this is something that Biden should run on for reelection?


Should Democrats lean into this?