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New Day

Today, Supreme Court Justices Meet For First Time Since Roe Leak; Committee Finalizing Witness List, Topics Ahead of June Hearings; U.K. Defense Chief Says, Very Possible Ukraine Will Break Russian Army. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired May 12, 2022 - 07:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: New Day continues right now.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to viewers here in the U.S and around the world. It is Thursday, May 12, and I'm Brianna Keilar with John Berman.

Today, all nine Supreme Court justices will be meeting in private with one issue impossible to ignore, the leak of the draft opinion that if finalized would overturn Roe versus Wade. Today will be the first meeting since the leak stunned the nation and upended the political landscape and rattled the court to its core. An internal investigation by the court is under way to find the source as tensions and protests build around the country.

BERMAN: This comes a day after the Democrats build abortion access nationwide, failed in the Senate. A few Republicans, plus Democrat Joe Manchin, voted against it.

Meanwhile, President Biden is now warning that if the court overturns Roe, other landmark cases could follow.

I want to go to CNN's Arlette Saenz live at the White House. And, Arlette, over the last few days, it really does seem that President Biden is trying to draw very specific political lines.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he really is, John. And President Biden issued a blunt warning of the possible ramifications if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, arguing that this draft opinion shows that other rights, such as rights to contraception and same-sex marriage could be under threat.

The president last night speaking at a Democratic fundraiser in Chicago laying out the stakes, he said, it's not just the brutality of taking away a woman's right to her body but it also, if you read the opinion, basically says there is no such thing as the right to privacy. If that holds, mark my words, they are going to go after the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage.

The president also specifically discussed Griswald versus Connecticut, which protect the rights of married couples to use contraception. Now, this comes on the heels on that failed vote in the Senate to try to codify Roe v. Wade into law. Democrats were trying to use this as a symbolic vote, putting Republicans on the record against abortion rights, but it also shows the limits of what Democrats can actually do in this moment. Democrats are hoping that the issue of abortion will really mobilize voters heading into November's election. But it is unclear what kind of impact abortion will have when issues like the economy and inflation remain on the top voter's minds at this moment.

But President Biden is very clearly trying to make this about beyond just abortion rights, warning that other privacy rights are also under threat at this moment.

BERMAN: It's all about framing. He is trying to frame what's important to him where he thinks the choice should be this November. Arlette Saenz, thank you.

KEILAR: All right. Let's bring in CNN Supreme Court Analyst Joan Biskupic for some context on how the court is going to proceed here. Joan?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Absolutely. Just think of the reverberations in this one week that since Politico published this draft. Politico also has also said as of this week that no other drafts have been in circulation, suggesting that maybe this is going to be it. But I have to say, Brianna, from our reporting in the past on this court and currently, these other justices are not sitting on their hands. There's other movement behind the scenes, much is hidden to us and much more has to unfold.

Let me tell you what has happened in secret before. First of all, we know that Chief Justice John Roberts had been proposing an alternative. He may still be working privately on an alternative to Justice Alito's. He would have to try to get at least one other conservative justice to join him and go with the other three liberals to stop Roe from being completely rolled back.

Our reporting right before the Politico draft came out was that the chief had not been making headway but had not given up and neither had the other liberals to try to convince at least one of the justices tentatively in the majority to switch. That's likely going on.

The other thing going on, I cannot imagine that even though no other drafts have circulated, according to Politico, that the others in the majority, such as Brett Kavanaugh, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett would not be asking for changes in that language. As Arlette said, that right now, sweep so broadly, it could potentially affect many other privacy rights. I would think that some of that would have to be cabined.

Also, there's a lot of flip sort of language in there from Justice Alito that feels more like something that would not end up in a final product. So, they would be asking for more.

Now, here is one other piece of context that you should know. 30 years ago, this month, as the justices were resolving the major affirmation of Roe v. Wade in the 1992 case of Planned Parenthood versus Casey, Justices O'Connor, Souter and Kennedy were working secretly privately right now on a draft opinion that stopped reversal of Roe.


They did not release it to their colleagues until the end of the month. Justice Kennedy sent a private note to the Harry Blackman, his then-colleague, the man who had written Roe v. Wade, saying there's been a development that you might want to know about. He sent that on May 29th, which was just a month before the final opinion came out.

I do not want to suggest to you, Brianna, or to our audience that we have people working behind the scenes, like Justice O'Connor, Justice David Souter and Justice Anthony Kennedy. The current conservatives are far more to the right. I'm just saying there is a lot that's hidden, that we don't know about, that could possibly change what actually comes out at the end of June.

KEILAR: Yes, things can happen. It will be interesting to see too if there are adjustments. Do some of them kind of go to answering some of the questions and concerns that people have raised publicly because of this draft. So, we will be waiting to see that. Joan, thank you so much for the reporting.

BISKUPIC: Thank you.

BERMAN: So, a major development overnight that upends seven decades of precedent and shows how, in some ways, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has completely backfired on Vladimir Putin.

Just a short time ago, the leaders in Finland announced they support seeking NATO membership without delay. Now, you cannot overstate what a major shift this is. Finland has been definitionally neutral since after World War II.

CNN's Nic Robertson has the latest from Helsinki.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: John and Brianna, good morning from Helsinki. A momentous day here in Finland, the prime minister and the president, in a joint statement, saying that Finland should apply for membership without delay. They say that the country has taken time for parliamentary consultations, consultations in society, consultations with NATO and NATO members. But now is the moment to move through the last few steps, expecting a government vote on this momentous decision for Finland early next week. John and Brianna?

KEILAR: Nic Robertson, thank you so much for that.

The U.S. ambassador to Russia, John Sullivan, delivered a secret message on Wednesday to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Sullivan's undisclosed meeting comes just a few weeks after he played a key role in a prisoner swap with the Kremlin that brought American Trevor Reed home.

CNN's Kylie Atwood joins us now with more. Any hints as to what this was all about?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, we wouldn't normally talk about an ambassador going to a foreign ministry to deliver a message, right? That's normal diplomacy. But the thing here and why we're interested in this is because of the role that he played in releasing Trevor Reed at the end of last month. That's that American who is detained in Russia for a few years. And after a prisoner swap, was able to be reached between the U.S. and Russia, he was let out. And there are still two Americans wrongfully detained in Russia.

So, we don't know that Ambassador Sullivan was going to the foreign ministry in Russia to discuss the status of those Americans, but what the State Department is saying is that he was there to deliver a message and they were there to discuss bilateral issues.

So, they didn't indicated that these discussions had to do with the ongoing war in Ukraine, so there is a possibility that he was there to discuss those Americans.

And we should note that know after Trevor Reed was released at the end of last month, U.S. officials told me very clearly that they couldn't say too much about the process that occurred behind the scenes to pull off that prisoner swap because they had to be cautious, because there are still Americans who were wrongfully detained in Russia. And they didn't want to release too much if that process could then be applied to these Americans who are still there.

So, it's an interesting storyline to watch and obviously comes as the Biden administration is feeling pretty good after the release of Trevor Reed. And official noted to me that they were quite surprised to see that in a bipartisan basis, they received accolades from both sides of the aisle. And that's, of course, something that they really need right now. And these Americans, their families really want them to get home.

KEILAR: Yes. Maybe it is a template and they are not giving away. It's really interesting. Kylie, thank you.

BERMAN: Ukraine's military confirms Russian troops are making advances in some areas of the east, including intense shelling along the frontlines in the Luhansk region. At the same time, Ukrainian troops appear to be moving closer and closer to the Russian border near Kharkiv.

How are they doing this to the vaunted Russian military? CNN's Bianca Nobilo takes a closer look.

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: The Ukrainian counteroffensive is making some gains in Kharkiv and in pockets in the east. How is this possible?

When this war started, Russia had 900,000 active military personnel across its forces, compared with Ukraine's 196,000. But despite the significant unbalance, Ukraine has put up an impressive resistance on the battlefield. The Russian army has not lost over 20,000 troops. Ukraine has killed at least eight Russian generals, according to the head of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency.


That's an extraordinary number in just over two months.

The Russian army has suffered from long supply lines and insufficient command and control, their comms analog, easy to intercept, and some soldiers have used open lines. And morale problems are widely reported not least because of the strategic effect of anti-tank weapons, like Javelins, that are portable, but it's also believed that Putin thought Russia could capture Kyiv within days and his message to troops was that they would be greeted as liberators by their Ukrainian neighbors. Obviously, neither happened.

Ukraine, the military underdog, has exceeded expectations and is now being freshly equipped with more heavy weapons and advanced systems from NATO countries. Powerful additions include howitzers, an auto- loading 155-millimeter caliber heavy artillery system which combines range and destructive and counter-battery systems that can detect incoming Russian mortar, artillery and rocket fire up to and beyond 50 kilometers. They're considered one of the world's most advanced land- based weapon-detecting systems.

Now, the U.S., U.K. and others are trying to tip the balance in Ukraine's favor with real-time battlefield intelligence, giving Ukraine the edge in the use of drones and other gear. But this new equipment needs to be raced to the frontlines because Russia still dominates the numbers game. It can field far more troops than Ukraine.

KEILAR: New CNN reporting this morning that the House select committee investigating the January 6th on the Capitol is finalizing preparations for next month's high-stakes public hearings. It may begin reaching out next week to potential witnesses that it wants to testify publicly. And CNN's Ryan Nobles is joining us now on this story.

What's happening here?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, the stakes for these hearings are enormous for the January 6th select committee. It's the first time they're really going to bring out into the public everything that they've been working on for the past ten months. And we've learned that perhaps as soon as next week, they could begin the process of reaching out to witnesses that would testify publicly at this hearing.

Now, they've already conducted somewhere in the range of a thousand depositions behind closed doors with a number of witnesses. And now, this will be bringing that out into the public light. So, the question is who could we hear from. There are individuals, like the former acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, his deputy, Richard Donoghue, also those close with former Vice President Mike Pence, including Greg Jacob, his chief counsel, and Marc Short, his chief of staff. They've all been relatively cooperative with the committee behind closed doors. The question is, would they be willing to have that conversation in public. And then, of course, there's those witnesses that are very close to the former president, including his children, Ivanka Trump, his son, Donald Trump Jr., his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Now, even if they were unwilling to actually come before the committee and speak publicly, we are told that they've conducted these depositions by using a videotape. And there's the chance that they could actually take clips of these videotaped depositions and make them a part of the public hearing.

And then, of course, there's the topics that they're going to focus on, Brianna. And we've learned that a certain extent, some of the things they want to talk about, they want to talk about that big gap of information about what the former president was doing during the riot. They want to talk about the effort to try to sow discord as it's related to the election results in 2020. They believe there is a direct comparison, a connection, I should say, between the efforts to undermine the election results and what happened on January 6th.

Then there is also the law enforcement response that they want to discuss and also where the money came from, the money trail that led to the funding of those rallies that took place in and around Washington on January 6th, even the travel to get people here to Washington. This will all be on the table.

Brianna, what's going to be interesting about these hearings is that, generally, when you have a congressional hearing, you are going to hear from two opposing sides, right, Republicans and Democrats. The Republicans and Democrats in this panel are unified in their belief that the former president played a role in what happened on January 6. So, that's going to be just a little bit of a different perspective and it will also lead to criticism from Republicans royal to the former president.

KEILAR: Interesting to finally see this. Ryan, thank you so much.

BERMAN: This morning in California, adults ages 18 to 20 will be allowed to purchase semiautomatic guns. A court Wednesday struck down the state law that bans the selling firearms to anyone under 21 years old, saying it violates Second Amendment rights.

CNN's Laura Jarrett joins us now with this. Laura, what is going on here?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, John, good morning. A big win here for advocates of gun rights. In a two-one decision, a panel on the 9th Circuit found that California essentially went too far in trying to ban most semiautomatic rifles for at least this particular group of young adults.

Writing for the majority here, Judge Nelson says this. Bottom line, the Second Amendment protects the right of young adults to keep and bear arms, which includes the right to purchase them.

The lower court had decided that young adults were considered, quote, infants for most of our country's history, but the appeals court here rejected that with its own lengthy, historical analysis. [07:15:06]

The opinion goes on for some 50-plus pages.

Now, the court does not say that the state can't impose any regulations on the sale of these types of guns, just that these regulations were too broad. In response to the ruling, California Governor Gavin Newsom says he was incredibly disappointed but that he's confident that the state will ultimately prevail in defending our common sense gun laws.

California already bans the sale of handguns to people under 21, I should mention, but it passes serious or stricter gun laws to address gun violence after series of mass shootings in this country. John?

BERMAN: All right. Laura Jarrett, an important moment, thank you for that.

KEILAR: Britain's defense minister meeting with his American counterpart, Lloyd Austin, yesterday at the Pentagon. Ben Wallace saying it is very possible that Ukraine will break the Russian army, adding that Putin must come to terms with how he's lost in the long run.

Ben Wallace joining us now to talk about this. That was really interesting what you said. You said that whatever the outcome of the war, Putin has lost. Tell us why you think that.

BEN WALLACE, U.K. DEFENSE SECRETARY: Well, I think, first of all, he's reduced Russia to a lesser country in the world because of not only the invasion, which was illegal, and everyone recognizes, internationally, it's illegal, but what he's done to the reputation. You see what Russian soldiers are up to. You see the war crimes allegedly being committed. So, Russia is sort of lesser in the world.

He's also reduced his armed forces. He's put about 65 to 70 percent of all his land forces into the Ukrainian war. There, as we can see, sufferings of serious damage and will take years to refurbish. So, he's going to be less of a military power than this at the beginning. He's facing international isolation. So, him and his sort of seniors around him are sanctioned, economic sanctions across so many parts of the Russian economy means that Russia, after this war, will be a lesser economy.

It is already a pretty bad economy. I mean, it's got a GDP less than the United Kingdom before this war started. You look at the ruble, you look the impact of this war. I think, overall, he's lost. I mean, if it was about making Russia greater, he's lost. And the tragedy is he's done that at the expense of an illegal invasion and killing thousands, potentially, of Ukrainians and his soldiers.

KEILAR: Finland's leaders paving the way to apply for NATO. It looks like Sweden is right behind Finland on this. What message should Vladimir Putin take away from that?

WALLACE: Well, I think listen to your warnings, your friends and your adversaries. Now, before this conflict, prime ministers and presidents warned him that the consequence of doing this would see probably more money on defense in the west, and what we've seen is a huge number of increases in defense budget right across the west, so, people he would consider adversaries. He was warned he would get more NATO, not less. He's got a hundred thousand troops-plus on his borders in existing NATO countries and now he's got two new countries joining.

All of the evidence was there from 2014 when he invaded illegally and annexed Crimea, that that's the consequence. And so this is his own making.

And I think to be clear, though, because Putin was trying to allege that NATO is sort of some independent country that goes around gobbling up other countries. People choose NATO. NATO doesn't go around choosing them. So, when Sweden and Finland, countries that have historically been very neutral, are choosing to apply, if Sweden does apply, but certainly Finland has said today to NATO, that's a real owned goal by President Putin.

KEILAR: I know you said it is up to Putin to find his off-ramp, but is it up to the west to create some room for that?

WALLACE: Well, I think we must be very clear about our position on Ukraine. Our position on Ukraine and why international community has come together to support Ukraine defend itself is that, what's more important than what they do with their choice of freedom is to protect their freedom to choose their destiny, whether that's joining NATO, whether that's joining the E.U., whether that's staying neutral, all of those choices are for Ukraine to make. And United Kingdom will support Ukraine with whatever choice it does but it is not for us to dictate terms to Ukraine.

And I think that's something we've got to be really clear about. I think it would be wrong to dictate how far they should settle or not -- should settle or whether they should settle at all. That is for those people right now who are fighting to save their country to make that choice, we all stand by them because they share our same values and they are suffering horrendous horrors at the hands of the Russians. But what they choose to do is a matter for Ukraine.

KEILAR: Under what circumstances do you think he might actually use a tactical nuclear weapon?

WALLACE: Well, I don't think I'm going to speculate. I mean, I think to speculate on nuclear weapons is a pretty --

KEILAR: Then let me say this. Do you think -- do you operate under the assumption that there is a possibility he would?

WALLACE: I think operate on the assumption that nuclear -- the Soviet Union and now Russia, they have always had in their doctrine the use of tactical nuclear weapons in a way that wouldn't be in our military doctrine at all, the sort of somehow that the thinking that you could use small nuclear weapons in theaters. And that's not a secret.

[07:20:01] That's always known about their military doctrine.

But I think we've seen President Putin evoke and Foreign Minister Lavrov the sort of words, nuclear weapons, we haven't actually seen any real changes on the ground that would indicate that. And so I think at the moment he does a lot of reminding the world he has got nuclear weapons, which is understandable given he's trying to distract from his own failures in Ukraine.

But I don't think at the moment people should be worried about his potential use. I think, of course, he is a man who is angry and threatening and has made lots of mistakes. But I think he will know, because he quote, sort of, in himself in his speeches, that NATO's conventional forces, all 30 countries together, and NATO's nuclear effect for the United States and France, United Kingdom, outnumber his. So, I think he knows the strength of potential NATO conflict and it's not in his interest nor is it NATO's interest for that to develop.

KEILAR: Secretary, we -- minister, we appreciate you being with us. Thank you so much.

Next, Dr. Sanjay Gupta joining us live on why he says America is at a crossroads right now on COVID.

And North Korea reports its first ever case of COVID-19 more than two years into the pandemic. So, what is really going on there?

BERMAN: In Vermont, a young man charged with murdering his own mother and grandfather for the insurance money, chilling new details ahead.



BERMAN: This morning, President Biden will commemorate a tragic milestone, 1 million lives in the United States lost to COVID. It comes a little more than two years since America's first reported case comes during a spike of new cases and hospitalizations and amid warnings of another dangerous wave perhaps coming this fall.

Joining us now, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. 1 million deaths, Sanjay, that's tough.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, for a disease that didn't exist just over two years ago, it is hard to believe that it is one the leading causes of death. I mean, I think these are these moments where you just sort of get a gut punch. I've known -- as we've talked over the last couple of years, I've known so many of these people and I stay in touch with their families. I mean, it is hard to believe that we are still here.

And, sadly, so many of those deaths occurred after we had such good ways of at least mitigating, if not, preventing those deaths with vaccines and things like that. So, it's a hard number to absorb. But as you mentioned, we are still in it. I mean, we reflect the time like this but we can't say we are looking in the rearview mirror because this is still ongoing.

KEILAR: Sanjay, you are also out with a new essay this morning and it's called, the U.S. is running a fever, which way will it go? And it seems like the answer is kind of, well, it depends. So, what does it depend on?

GUPTA: Well, I mean, first of all, there is a lot of mixed messages out there. I mean, even among my colleagues in the hospital and medical professionals, the message are, look, we are just sort of releasing a lot of these measures to mitigate things, all full steam ahead, and at the same time, we know what the country looks at any given time. So, instead of just looking at numbers, you start to follow trends. So, 68,000 people roughly still being diagnosed every day.

As you mentioned, hospitalizations are starting to go up, typically a lagging indicator, but they are starting to go up now. There are still hundreds of people dying every day of COVID, around 400 people dying of COVID every day. People forget that. And as you mentioned, maybe 100 million new cases this fall, that is the model. Those are the projections. Models are hard to sort of to read in too much, but that's the concern.

And if you look at the country overall in terms of where we are with immunity, where we are vaccinations, what you find is that the percentage of people who are likely to get hospitalized or die now is much lower as a result of vaccinations and booster, but there are certain parts of the country, like in the northeast where you are, you've more cases and fewer proportional deaths and hospitalizations but you also have some of the highest percentages of boosted populations in the country as well.

The real concern is if you look at the lighter parts of the country that are on that map, places that haven't had as many boosters, probably don't have as much up-to-date immunity at that point, when you start to see more and more cases surge through there, are we going to have those surges of hospitalizations as well, like we saw? That's the big concern.

The vaccines and boosters, even infection-acquired immunity can be very protective but it's become very clear that they wane over time.