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New Day

North Korea Reports First-Ever COVID Case, Locks Down Cities; Michigan Prosecutor Vows Not To Prosecute Abortion If Roe Fails; Man Accused Of Killing Mother And Grandfather For Insurance Money. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired May 12, 2022 - 07:30   ET



DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's become very clear that they wane over time. So I think if there's a clarion call for anything when you look at a map like that and put it all together, it's the need to make sure your immunity is up to date, and too much of the country right now doesn't have that.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So, Sanjay, I understand you just celebrated your mother's 80th birthday last weekend. Happy birthday, mom. But, you know --

GUPTA: Thank you.

BERMAN: -- what have you -- what have you learned about getting together and having celebrations with family, friends, and loved ones?

GUPTA: Well, this is what we've learned. I mean -- and again, this is part of the sort of art meets science here. We had some folks get together. We would have done probably a pretty big celebration in previous years but it was just a few of us family members getting together.

My parents are vaccinated and boosted. They've received four shots. So, you know, I'm pretty comfortable with the idea that they're not likely to get hospitalized or die if they were to contract COVID. I think that that's the good news.

But I think -- the thing that I think is striking to me when I talk to people who are virologists taking care of patients -- they say even if that's the case, we think about this in binary terms. OK, no hospitalization, no death -- therefore, all is OK.

If my mom were to get COVID it could be the worst viral illness she's ever had in her life. I mean, that's just the truth.

She's not likely, again, to go to the hospital but it would be misery. Maybe a couple of weeks of misery for her. And as an 80-year-old, I mean, that would be really tough. It would be tough at any age but particularly tough on her.

So there is this need to still say look, yes, we're vaccinated and boosted but we need to be cautious. We don't want to have those terrible viral illnesses. We don't want to test positive. We don't want to have the specter of long COVID hanging over us.

So, you know, when we're inside, people who are -- who are vulnerable oftentimes will still wear masks. And that makes complete sense to me.

BERMAN: All right, Sanjay. Again, happy birthday to your mom, a loyal viewer.

GUPTA: Thank you. We enjoyed it.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, North Korea reporting its first-ever case of coronavirus. State media is calling it a major national emergency as the dictator of the reclusive nation, Kim Jong Un, is ordering a nationwide lockdown.

CNN's Will Ripley has more.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): John and Brianna, this has the potential to be a public health catastrophe inside North Korea, one of only two countries in the world that has not administered vaccinations; the other being Eritrea.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has ordered all cities to go into lockdown after the Omicron variant was detected in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang. This is a huge problem because of the fact that they just don't have not only vaccines or herd immunity, but they also do not have the capacity to treat people who are at high risk for severe illness from a highly contagious variant like this.

At the same time, we have some other information coming out of North Korea, breaking overnight. They have fired yet another ballistic missile into the waters off of the peninsula. So even as they're dealing with Omicron, business as usual in the missile department -- John and Brianna.


KEILAR: All right. Will Ripley, thank you for that.

A Michigan prosecutor with a vow this morning. Abortions will not be prosecuted in her county if Roe v. Wade is overturned. She's going to join NEW DAY, next.

BERMAN: Plus, how a repeatedly jailed critic of Vladimir Putin managed to escape Russia while wearing an electronic ankle bracelet.



KEILAR: A key vote on the Women's Health Protection Act, a Democrat- led bill aimed at preserving access to abortion nationwide, failed in the Senate on Wednesday.

And now, a handful of prosecutors in Michigan have written an open letter announcing they will not prosecute any person involved in an abortion, saying this, quote: "We cannot and will not support criminalizing reproductive freedom or creating unsafe, untenable situations for healthcare providers and those who seek abortions in our communities."

Joining me now to discuss is one of the prosecutors who signed that joint statement, Karen McDonald of Oakland County, Michigan.

We have to explain first to viewers what's happening here. Michigan has a law that makes abortion a felony -- a 1931 law, right? But Roe overruled that. What is this law?

KAREN MCDONALD, OAKLAND COUNTY, MICHIGAN PROSECUTOR: It was pre-Roe. So, in 1931, the Michigan Legislature passed a law that makes it a felony for a medical provider to provide any kind of abortion. So that would include any sort of medication, which is -- over half of the abortions in Michigan are based on medication, not procedures.

There's no exception except for the life of the mother. And I want to add even that very small exception I think would be impossible to enforce. I think if that law were enforced, I think medical professionals would opt, even in those cases, not to perform those procedures for fear that they might be hauled into the criminal justice system and then somehow have to justify why they made that decision.

KEILAR: Do you think that law will stand if Roe is overturned by the Supreme Court?

MCDONALD: I certainly hope not. I certainly hope not, but I think in light of what's going on in the world today we always have to assume the worst-case scenario.

So, I'm going to do what I was elected to do and that is use my discretion and common sense to protect the people in Oakland County. We have 1.3 million people.

And it's just not practical. We have limited resources both in our county and everywhere. We have an all-time in gun violence. My county just experienced the first-ever mass school shooting.

The idea that we could spend resources prosecuting doctors or nurses, or a front desk staff at a clinic is -- it's not rational and it doesn't keep us safe. And it also won't eliminate abortions. It will just make abortions less safe.


KEILAR: So you say you're not going to prosecute, but do you think this is going to push providers nonetheless away from performing abortions in Michigan, or even in Oakland County?

MCDONALD: I certainly hope not. I hope that my stance and those of my colleagues who have also vowed not to criminalize medical professionals for performing procedures for women's health. But at the same time, it creates chaos and I recognize that. So I -- so I'm eager and hopeful that the Michigan Supreme Court will strike that statute down.

KEILAR: So, if you decide I'm not going to prosecute this, do you expect you're going to get sued? I mean, what are you expecting?

MCDONALD: I don't know and I actually don't believe -- that doesn't concern me. My job is to, number one, focus on public safety and use common sense. As prosecutors, we have discretion all over the country that we use every single day. There are plenty of laws on the books from the 1930s that have never been struck down and we don't prosecute every crime there is. It's just not something that a good prosecutor using their discretion does.

KEILAR: Will there be, in Michigan, county prosecutors who do prosecute?

MCDONALD: I expect that's the case, unfortunately.

KEILAR: You expect that is the case.

Karen McDonald -- I mean, this is just an example of some of the fallout I think -- some of the, sort of -- as you said, it's sort of chaos and some confusion, certainly, that is going to come if this does stand. So we'll be waiting to see what happens in different states, including Michigan.

Karen, thank you so much for being with us.

MCDONALD: Thank you.

KEILAR: Just in, Ukraine says the situation on the front lines in one eastern region is deteriorating fast. We're going to take you there.

BERMAN: Plus, a member of Pussy Riot, the group protesting the Kremlin for a decade now, has fled Russia. She escaped. She joins us next.



BERMAN: One of the members of the performance art group Pussy Riot has fled Russia after repeatedly being imprisoned for her activism and protest against the Kremlin. Maria Alyokhina evaded authorities by disguising herself as a food delivery worker and by traveling through Belarus and eventually to Lithuania.

And joining me right now is Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina. Thank you so much for being with us.

You disguised yourself as a food delivery worker? Tell me about that.


So, at the Pussy Riot, we usually change clothes for (INAUDIBLE) show. This is definitely not the first time when we used a uniform. We use the uniform, for example, during our action with rainbow flags, which we put to the (INAUDIBLE) administration of the president in 2020. So it's -- I don't think that this kind of a revolution for us. But it was necessary because the flat where I've been was surrounded by police and that was not possible to come out like I am.


ALYOKHINA: And, yes. The reason why I decide to go to the border is my tour, which was actually planned six months ago. So, yes, I just decide that I will perform. That's it.

BERMAN: You also -- in addition to your flat being surrounded by law enforcement --


BERMAN: -- you were also wearing an electronic ankle bracelet. They were monitoring you. So, given the fact that they were monitoring you, what does it say about how effective they are that you were able to escape?

ALYOKHINA: They are not so effective. I took two electronic bracelets, which they gave me. So with one of them, I'm going to do my concerts. I have it with me. And yes, another one, I cut it.

BERMAN: You just cut the electronic ankle bracelet?


BERMAN: It sounds like that could get you arrested yet one more time. And I should note you were arrested -- have been six times in the last year alone and put in prison a series of times for 15 days each. I mean, what does that tell you about how much of a threat you are to the Russian regime?

ALYOKHINA: Well, they put some attention to me, let's say. But besides the arrest, I was wearing this electronic bracelet, which is much more horrible than usual prison because it's kind of, you know -- it's a way of teaching people how to censor themself and so on, and I hate self-censorship. Yes, so the electronic bracelet is much more horrible than usual prison for me. But anyway, now it's just a theater of movement and we will perform with it.

And I think the main reason for me to go also was the -- is the war in Ukraine and our statement against this war -- against the war which Putin started and was -- now the whole world see who this maniacs are. And before that, I think -- I think that was clear only for those who are doing activism and politics in Russia.

BERMAN: You say, at this point, that you don't think Russia has a right to exist. What do you mean by that?


ALYOKHINA: I mean that all of those who are responsible for this war should go to tribunal. And without a court, without a judgment and terms for these people, how we as Russians can live further. This is -- well, it's a national catastrophe what is going on. All of

the world has seen photos from Bucha and Mariupol. How do you think it's possible to just live further for that?

BERMAN: Yes. It's more than an action --

ALYOKHINA: I believe that --

BERMAN: Go ahead.

ALYOKHINA: -- Russian should do, like, anti-war -- anti-war resistance and movement, and do whatever we can do just to balance the horrible thing which Russian army done.

BERMAN: Well, you are engaged in activism now -- not just in Russia but beyond.

Maria Alyokhina, we're glad that you got out safely. We're glad you are safe now. We wish you the best of luck going forward.

ALYOKHINA: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right. On the subject she was just talking about there, horrific video obtained by CNN shows the moment that unarmed men in Ukraine are gunned down by Russian fighters. We're going to take you live to Kyiv.

KEILAR: And prosecutors say he killed his grandfather, then his mother in a scheme to inherit millions. The latest in this murder mystery.


BERMAN: This morning, a disturbing story of greed, fraud, and murder in New England. A Vermont man is accused of killing his mother and grandfather to get family and insurance money.

CNN's Jean Casarez has all the details for us -- Jean.


JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, this is charged federally under maritime and territorial jurisdiction. It's murder on the high seas. And the indictment even alleges the motive that Nathan Carman wanted the family fortune.


CASAREZ (voice-over): An alleged murder scheme uncovered by federal authorities.

REPORTER: Any reaction to the charges?


CASAREZ (voice-over): In a recently unsealed indictment, prosecutors allege that now-28-year-old Nathan Carman killed both his grandfather John Chakalos, in 2013, and his mother Linda Carman, in 2016 as part of a, quote, "scheme to obtain money and property from the estate of John Chakalos and related family trusts," according to prosecutors.

Carman received roughly $550,000 upon his grandfather's death and was in line to receive millions more as the only heir to his mother.

Wednesday, he appeared in federal court and pleaded not guilty to charges of fraud and the murder of his mother. But he has not been charged in his grandfather's death.

On September 17, 2016, Nathan Carman took his mother Linda on a fishing trip aboard his boat, "The Chicken Pox," off the coast of New England. Prosecutors allege Carman rigged the boat so it would sink more easily. The indictment claims he planned to report the sinking of his boat and his mother's disappearance as accidents. His mother's body was never recovered.

Once the boat started sinking, Carman took refuge on an inflatable raft. An exhaustive search was conducted to find the mother and son. His raft was finally spotted eight days later by an ocean freighter off the coast of Martha's Vineyard.

NATHAN CARMAN, ACCUSED OF MURDER AND FRAUD: There was a funny noise in the engine compartment. I looked and saw a lot of water. As I was bringing one of the safety bags forward, the boat just dropped out from under my feet. When I saw the life raft I did not see my mom. Have you found her?

COAST GUARD: No. We haven't been able to find her yet.

CASAREZ (voice-over): Investigators were suspicious of Carman's versions of events almost immediately. A search warrant was conducted on his Vermont home after his rescue but he wasn't charged at the time.

The boating incident drew renewed attention to the 2013 death of Carman's grandfather, John Chakalos, who made a multimillion-dollar fortune through real estate ventures, according to the indictment. Chakalos was shot and killed in his Connecticut home, according to an investigation by ABC News in 2017. Local police said Carman had dinner with him earlier that evening.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was definitely our prime suspect.

CASAREZ (voice-over): Nathan has denied being involved in this grandfather's death or mother's disappearance.

CARMAN: There is no relationship between my having been the last person, other than the killer, to have seen my grandfather alive, and my having been on the boat with my mother when it sank.


CASAREZ: And Nathan remains in federal custody. His detention hearing, or bail hearing will be in several weeks -- John. BERMAN: What a story. All right, Jean Casarez. Thank you so much for that.

And NEW DAY continues right now.

Good morning to viewers here in the United States and all around the world. It is Thursday, May 12. I'm John Berman with Brianna Keilar.

And today, all nine Supreme Court justices will meet in private with one issue possible to ignore -- the leak of the draft opinion that it finalized that would overturn Roe versus Wade. This will be their first meeting since the leak stunned the nation, rattled the political landscape, and shook the court to its core. An internal investigation is underway to find the source as tensions and protests build across the country.

KEILAR: This comes a day after the Democrats' bill to preserve abortion access nationwide failed in the Senate. Every Republican, plus Democrat Joe Manchin, voted against it.

Meanwhile, President Biden says if the court overturns Roe, other cases that guarantee rights, from same-sex marriage to contraception access, could be next.

BERMAN: All right, joining us now, CNN political director and host of the CNN Political Briefing podcast, David Chalian. David, always a pleasure to have you on.

President Biden talking about the Roe versus Wade decision, trying to frame it in larger terms, bringing up same-sex marriage. It seems that something bigger is going on here trying to frame the stakes of the midterm elections.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR, HOST, CNN POLITICAL BRIEFING PODCAST: That's right, John. You know Joe Biden's famous expression and he says it all the time. He says don't compare me to the almighty. Compare me to the alternative.

And what you see is you see a president whose approval ratings are down, obviously, and he is trying desperately to make this midterm election season into a choice election instead of a referendum on how things are going in the country. A referendum on his handling of the economy or inflation. He wants to make this a choice, which is why you're hearing day in and day out.