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Political Impact of Roe v. Wade Draft Opinion; Inside the Jail Where an Inmate Escaped; Plant Bombarded as Civilians Evacuate. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired May 03, 2022 - 06:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: In a stunning breach of the Supreme Court's long-held confidentiality and secrecy, "Politico" has obtained a draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito that would strike down Roe v. Wade. So, how will President Biden be responding this morning?

Joining us now is CNN chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins.

Is he going to make some comments? Is he going to put out a statement? What are we thinking?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the White House has said nothing so far. And, obviously, it puts them in a weird position because this is a leaked draft opinion, though of course, "Politico" has said they have authenticated the document. Other outlets are all reporting on it this morning. And the Supreme Court hasn't denied it.

But I am expecting the White House to weigh in this morning. Likely in a written statement from the White House. Not clear if it will be under President Biden's name or Press Secretary Jen Psaki.

And then, of course, the president is set to leave the White House at 10:30 this morning to go to Alabama. He's going to a weapons making facility there. But he often stops and talks to reporters on his way out. So that could be the first time that we hear from President Biden in person weighing in on this landmark scoop that "Politico" got last night that is really going to fundamentally change what you see happen over the next several months leading up to the midterm. I mean this has upended the discussions that are going to be happening among Democrats and Republicans about what this looks like going forward because, of course, this has infuriated Democrats. It could potentially -- will likely animate them. This is something Republicans have long sought. And so it really has change the conversation of something that people thought could potentially be imminent, but now seems like it's 100 percent imminent.

KEILAR: Democratic voters are going to say, you have a majority in Congress, what are you going to do about this? What is going to happen or not happen? COLLINS: We've seen attempts to codify this into law. Attempts by

lawmakers, senators on Capitol Hill. There's no path for it right now, basically, because it is a 50/50 Senate and if they want to get rid of the filibuster, that's one path they would have to take. They do not have a 60-vote majority on this right now. But, of course, going after the filibuster, which is something that Senator Bernie Sanders called for last night after this was reported. It seems very unlikely because Senator Joe Manchin has said he's not interested in doing that. Senator Sinema has said she's not interested in changing the filibuster.

And so, right now, there's basically no path forward on Capitol Hill to change this or to try to put this into law. I think that will be a really big pressure point for lawmakers.

Another one is, if you look at the statement from House Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer last night saying that these Supreme Court justices lied to senators about their position on this. Of course, this is going to put a ton of scrutiny on Senator Susan Collins and the comments that she made to Dana Bash on this very set saying that she did not believe that Brett -- Justice Kavanaugh would overturn Roe v. Wade. And so I think that is going to become such a pressure point on Capitol Hill when the Senate does -- when the Senate -- when lawmakers are in front of reporters and in the halls of Congress.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: On Capitol Hill, you know there have been movements to pass a federal law to guarantee the right to abortion, but that failed. That failed, actually. So it didn't even get a majority, in fact, this time around.

So, that avenue, and Alito seems to suggest in this draft ruling that that avenue exists, a political solution to this, that avenue really isn't as open as some might suggested it is.


COLLINS: No. In the current state right now, it is not open.

Now, of course, the scenario that maybe Democrats could try to pursue is getting a majority, a bigger majority in the Senate, not just the razor-thin majority that they have now with the vice president often casting that tiebreaking vote. But they'd also have to hold the House come November, come the midterms.

Based on the political, conventional thinking right now, that is not likely to happen. Now, whether or not this changes that, whether or not this really animates the Democratic base, that remains to be seen. But the likelihood of that happening right now seems far-fetched. And so that is why this is going to pose such a major question for so many of these lawmakers, especially for the ones who said that they were going to vote for a lot of the Trump-appointed justices. And I think that is going to be the major conversation happening on Capitol Hill following this.

And so it will be interesting to see what the White House says this morning because it will be the first time that they've weighed in on this since it broke last night, about 12 hours ago.

KEILAR: Policy wise Democrats hate this, Kaitlan, right? But politically, they're facing midterm -- a midterm election where they need to animate their base.


KEILAR: This will do that.

COLLINS: It certainly could. I mean look at the reaction that you've seen just in the last 12 hours or so. People have already gathered outside the Supreme Court. You're already seeing all of these abortion rights activists coming out, talking about this, and saying just how dire they believe it is and what it would sets up, the national landscape of how it's going to cause women who would have to drive several hundred miles, potentially, to get an abortion, to obtain an abortion.

And so I think that it could be an animated factor for their base. And it would come at a time, though, when the question is, what are Democrats able to do? What are they able to get accomplished? And I think that is going to be a big question for their base when it comes to this going forward.

Republicans, of course, have long sought this outcome overall. And you saw some of the senators last night telling the Supreme Court, go ahead and publish this opinion now. That's not likely to happen, of course. This is just a draft that was circulated in May -- in February. It still has to be finalized.

But I think this was a conversation that a lot of people were expecting to have in two months from now, and now we're having it now. And so the question of how that up-ends the midterms is going to be a big one that we are talking about until November.

KEILAR: Such a pivotal development here.

Kaitlan, thank you so much. And you're heading to Alabama, is that right?

COLLINS: I will be in -- I've got a flight in about an hour. So I will be in Alabama in just a little while from now.

KEILAR: All right. We'll see you there. All right.

A large manhunt underway in Alabama for an escaped inmate facing murder charges, and the guard who may have helped him. CNN goes inside the jail to learn how they got away.

Plus, victims of the Tulsa Race Massacre getting one step closer to some measure of justice after a judge ruled a lawsuit seeking reparations can proceed. A 101-year-old survivor is going to share his reaction.

BERMAN: And he was one of the soldiers captured on Snake Island. The ones who said Russian warship, f you. He joins us to share his incredible story from captivity to marriage, ahead.



BERMAN: This morning, new developments in the manhunt for an inmate who escaped from an Alabama jail and the corrections officer accused of helping him. Police say Casey White stands at 6'9". They're assuming he is armed because the officer, Vicky White, was armed. Investigators say even though the two have the same last name, they are not related.

CNN's Ryan Young live in Florence, Alabama, with the latest in this remarkable story, including an inside look in the jail, Ryan.


So many twists in this story already. When we went inside the jail yesterday, we got a first-hand look at how many times someone would have to check an inmate out. Basically, they had to radio in and then bring the inmate down before transferring him to another smaller cell and taking him into a car.

So many questions here, so many people feel like they've been betrayed.


YOUNG: Friday morning, the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Office said Assistant Director Vicky White told her co-workers she was taking inmate Casey White to the county courthouse for a mental health evaluation. Investigators say security video shows the pair never arrived at the courthouse and no evaluation or court appearance was even scheduled.

Several hours later, White's patrol car was found abandoned in a shopping center parking lot less than a mile away from the detention facility.

SHERIFF RICK SINGLETON, LAUDERDALE COUNTY, ALABAMA: We've gotten some -- a couple of tips on a possible vehicle. We're still pursuing that.

YOUNG: CNN got a first-hand look at security procedures inside the detention center.

YOUNG (on camera): You can see how all this works. There's security at every single level and they have to radio in.

YOUNG (voice over): The sheriff says Vicky White actually violated protocol when she removed Casey White from the detention facility.

YOUNG (on camera): And this is the hallway where the inmate would be walked out. They go through this door. It's a (INAUDIBLE), where they'll be loaded into a car. Normally, there's two deputies per van. But this time it was just the deputy and the inmate. YOUNG (voice over): The sheriff says since Vicky White is in charge of

the detention center, no one questioned her. Investigators say they still have no evidence of a relationship between them.

SINGLETON: We're still looking into that, reviewing phone calls, reviewing video from the jail.

YOUNG: The sheriff's office says last week, after about two decades with the department, Vicky White put in her retirement papers. Friday was supposed to be her last day.

SINGLETON: I'd be surprised if they're still in Alabama.

If she did this willingly, all indications are that she did, we'll have -- I guess we're trying to hold on to that last straw of hope that maybe some -- for some reason she was threatened and this under cohesion. But absolutely you feel betrayed.

YOUNG: Casey White was already serving 75 years for a rash of crimes. Next month he's scheduled to go on trial on two counts of capital murder for the stabbing death of Connie Ridgeway in 2015. Tonight, investigators are hopeful he'll soon be back behind bars.

MARTY KEELY, U.S. MARSHAL, NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA: Keep in mind that Casey White is a large individual.


He is 6'9" tall. He will stand out.


YOUNG: Yes, John, you've got to think, this is a big dude. 6'9", probably over 270 pounds. So he's probably be pretty easy to spot if he's out there.

Also thinking about just how far away we are from the location when they think they last saw them on video. It's about a mile away from here. It took about eight minutes to drive to that location. We do believe they have video of the car before they switched cars. We're hoping that maybe today they'll release some of that video of the two of them together.

But, because of these stories, there have been so many tips being called in. So they're hopeful that one of these tips will help narrow some of this down.

One last thing here, both borders, the Mexican and Canadian border, have been notified about these two on the run, John.

BERMAN: On the run. All right, Ryan, keep us posted. Thank you very much.

Happening now, the first evacuees from a bombarded steel plant in Mariupol reached safety. We will take you there live. KEILAR: And Ukrainian's president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, responding to

reports that he has already survived more than ten assassination attempts.



KEILAR: That steel plant in Mariupol seeing a nonstop air bombardment by Russian forces despite more than 100 civilians still sheltering inside. Russian forces also made multiple attempts to attack the plant on the ground, but Ukrainian fighters say they were able to resist those attacks while also killing five Russian soldiers. Despite the danger, Ukrainian fighters hope to evacuate more civilians as soon as today.

Let's bring in CNN's Nick Paton Walsh. He is live from Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, which is where some of the evacuees from Mariupol are arriving.

Nick, what can you tell us about the process and how it's been going?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: I have to tell you, Brianna, we have not seen yet, for the second day running, Azovstal evacuees arriving here in Zaporizhzhia. And that has been what there's been such intense expectation of -- mounting, frankly, and high hopes that those, the most vulnerable, might get here to Ukrainian held territory.

Now, I understand that in the last hour or so they were still in Russian-held territory with significant Russian checkpoints yet to pass. They have, it appears, according to Ukrainian officials, left Mariupol. It does appear we're talking something in the region of 150 individuals, most of whom are from the Azovstal steel plant.

But one of the complicating factors here is this United Nations and Red Cross-backed convoy is attracting other civilians who want to flee as it moves, therefore potentially blocking the road, slowing their progress and making the job of Russian soldiers filtering, I think is the polite word, that large convoy significantly lengthier and harder.

We don't know what size it will be when it does arrive here. During the morning we have seen this sort of expectant (ph) bank of media here, people turning up from other parts of Russian-held territory, particularly the town they have to cross in order to get here, Vasalivka (ph), where they've talked about shelling and they've talked about the difficulty of getting through those checkpoints.

But the context is important to realize here. These evacuees from Azovstal would not be the first to come out. We've been seeing people who have left on their own steam from Mariupol here over the past days. The symbolism of this is that it will be the United Nations and Red Cross getting the Russians to agree to a corridor. And the hope is that could then potentially let many of the hundred thousand civilians inside Mariupol get out from Russian occupation, from the intense shelling and from the escalating risk of disease hour by hour there because of the appalling conditions.

At this stage, that corridor is still not open. And, frankly, we don't know that it's been successful until we start seeing those first evacuees under U.N. auspices arriving here. So, mounting expectations I think tinged with a slight anxiety that the idea of thousands of people pouring out in the days ahead with Russian consent seems more remote as each hour passes and they have yet to let out, nearly two days now, frankly, that first group from Azovstal.

KEILAR: All right, Nick, it is discouraging to watch. We know you are there monitoring this and we appreciate it.

Nick Paton Walsh.

A stunning development out of the Supreme Court. A draft opinion shows Roe v. Wade would be overturned. Protesters have already taken to the streets. This decision, of course, will affect millions of women and so many changes. We are live outside the Supreme Court. We're going to speak with a reporter who broke this.



BERMAN: I'm John Berman, alongside Brianna Keilar on this NEW DAY.

Roe v. Wade on the brink this morning. A draft opinion shows the court potentially striking down the law completely. Reaction pouring in.

Plus, what does this mean for other decisions, including same-sex marriage, even contraception. America bracing for big, big changes.

KEILAR: The U.S. believes Vladimir Putin may formally declare war in the coming days here, meaning a significant mobilization of forces in Ukraine. And hundreds of civilians right now trapped inside of Mariupol's last stronghold as Russian forces bomb the compound during evacuations. We're joined by the city's mayor.

BERMAN: Good morning to viewers here in the United States and all around the world. It is Tuesday, May 3rd. I'm John Berman, with Brianna Keilar.

A simply stunning story developing overnight. A draft Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade completely. Throwing out 50 years of Supreme Court precedent in a way that would immediately alter the lives of millions of Americans. The draft majority opinion obtained by "Politico" was written by Justice Samuel Alito. It drew quick reaction outside the Supreme Court overnight.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our rights are under attack. What do we do?

CROWD: Stand up, fight back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do we do? CROWD: Stand up, fight back.


CROWD: Stand up, fight back.


BERMAN: We should note, there were dueling demonstrations as people opposed to abortion were there welcoming the news.

KEILAR: The leak is an precedented breach from the Supreme Court, but the impact of the looming decision is of much greater consequence. It could almost instantly criminalize abortion for millions of women and raise questions about the future of other Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage, even contraception. The White House is expected to weigh in soon.

Joining me now, the co-author of the "Politico" piece that broke this news, Josh Gerstein.


Josh, this is a scoop of a lifetime and a decision that will have repercussions potentially for generations.