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New Day

Primaries Today In ME, ND, NV, Supreme Court, And Special Election In Tx; Scientists Find Potential For MRNA Vaccines To Treat Cancer; Trevor Reed Joins New Day After Filing Petition With U.N. On Russia. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired June 14, 2022 - 07:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Voters are going to the polls today in primaries in four states and a special election in Texas to fill a vacant House seat. Some of the most competitive and closely watched races are in South Carolina and Nevada, and CNN reporters are on the ground there.


KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): John and Brianna, voters are heading to the polls for the Nevada primary. And one of the important races we're watching is for the U.S. Senate -- the contested Republican nomination for who will challenge the incumbent. Whatever happens in this Republican race, that will set the stage for control of Congress.

This is essentially a two-man race. One of the candidates, Adam Laxalt -- he is a former state attorney general. He is running on a closing message of kitchen table economics like inflation and gas prices, and also, his allegiance to Donald Trump. He does, indeed, have Trump's endorsement.

But he is facing challenge from political newcomer Sam Brown. He is a retired Army captain injured in Afghanistan. And he has seen late grassroots appeal.

He has managed to outspend Laxalt in political ads but Laxalt's camp has brushed off that challenge. Instead, he is eyeing the general election where he says he is confident that he will face the incumbent Democratic senator, Catherine Cortez Masto.

The polls here in the populated Clark County close at 10:00 p.m. eastern.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Today, South Carolina primaries yet another test of former President Donald Trump's strength over the Republican Party. But, of course, this is unfolding as the special congressional hearings are underway in Washington, certainly reviving President Trump's conduct in office. Nancy Mace -- of course, a first-term member of Congress here -- voted to certify the election returns in 2020. That drew the ire of the former president. He has been fighting against her ever since.

Slightly north of here, Tom Rice. He's been in Congress for nearly a decade. He was one of 10 to vote to impeach the former president. He, of course, also on the ballot facing a very tough race.

There is no doubt that the South Carolina primary is going to give one more indication of the state of the Republican Party -- the mindset, the mood, and the direction heading into the midterm elections in November.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, thanks to our reporters out in the field.

Here now, CNN senior data reporter, Harry Enten. Harry, South Carolina -- two races to watch.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Double your pleasure, double your fun with both that and two races in South Carolina.

All right, let's start in the 7th Congressional District. Tom Rice, a conservative, voted with Trump a lot, but he also voted to impeach Donald Trump. So, of course, not surprisingly, Donald Trump has his man that he wants to take out. He is backing Russell Fry.

Here's the key thing. We speak about this a lot, right? In southern primaries, you need a majority of the vote to win without a runoff. There is obviously more than two candidates running here. If no candidate receives the majority there will be a runoff later this month on June 28. So we're not just watching who leads, we're watching the 50% mark.

BERMAN: The 1st Congressional District of South Carolina.

ENTEN: The 1st Congressional District of South Carolina. All right, the 1st Congressional District, Nancy Mace. She did not vote to impeach Donald Trump but she did, in fact, vote to certify the 2020 election results. How dare she, Donald Trump says. So, Donald Trump is backing Katie Arrington.

But here's the thing to keep in mind. Mace has a lot of support from establishment Republicans, and not just necessarily the ones in the middle of the spectrum. She has been endorsed by both Nikki Haley, who obviously is the former governor there, and Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader. So, Mace has a lot of support.

Arrington, though, is hoping that Trump can take her over the top.

BERMAN: All right, you heard Kyung talking about the important Senate race in Nevada -- important not just for that state but important for the implications as the Senate. ENTEN: Yes, exactly right. So, Adam Laxalt, who is the former

attorney general in that state I do believe -- he is backed by Donald Trump. The Nevada GOP Caucus, though -- they had a convention and they endorsed Brown there. So, Brown had -- very interestingly enough, a lot of people didn't think this would be a race but Laxalt getting a strong challenge.

Here's the thing to keep in mind. This is a Democratic-held seat but Joe Biden won the state by just two points. So whoever emerges from this GOP primary, we're expecting a very, very competitive race come the fall.

BERMAN: There's an interesting Democratic primary for a congressional seat there also.

ENTEN: You know, I don't want to leave the Democrats out. This is a bipartisan show. So here we go.

The Nevada 1st Congressional District Democratic primary. Dina Titus, the current incumbent there -- she is backed by the culinary unions. Bernie Sanders is, in fact, backing the challenger here, so this is an interesting thing. Titus was an early backer of Joe Biden so we kind of have this Biden-Sanders thing going on here.


Here's the thing to keep in mind, though. Again, this is a race that we're not just interested in the primary, we're interested in the general election as well because this became a much more competitive seat redistricting. It went from a district that Joe Biden won by -- look at this -- 26 points, to one that he won by just nine points. So, especially, if the challenger wins here this is going to be a race that a lot of Republicans are going to be looking at in the fall.

BERMAN: Finally, there's a special election in Texas, Harry.

ENTEN: There is a special election in Texas. Let's go to the large state of Texas. All right -- so Democrats and Republicans are running in the same primary here. That's why we have all of them up on the screen at the same time. There is a runoff if no candidate gets the majority.

The reason we're interested in this seat so much is it is a test of Hispanic decline among Democrats in a district that Joe Biden won by just four points come last time around. So we're expecting a competitive race.

But here's the thing. This is really for bragging rights, right? Because come the fall, redistricting means that this is going to be a much more Democratic-leaning district. So the person who wins here is only going to serve for about six months. But still, it's for bragging rights and an idea -- hey, if Republicans can win here then there's a real sign that they are making inroads with Hispanic voters.

BERMAN: Harry Enten, as always, an education. Thank you very much.

ENTEN: I try my best, John.

BERMAN: All right, mRNA vaccines changed the course of the pandemic, but could it also change how we treat cancer? A new trial underway.

KEILAR: And moments ago, new sound from Amber Heard continuing to speak out after the jury sided with Johnny Depp in the defamation trial against her.



BERMAN: This morning, scientists saying they've discovered mRNA vaccines may help treat a disease other than coronavirus. They have been studying the technology for decades. And now, a clinical trial is giving one pancreatic cancer patient a new sense of hope.

Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta with the latest.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In December 2020, mNRA vaccines started changing the course of the pandemic. At the same time, that same technology was possibly changing Barbara Brigham's life in an entirely different way.

BARBARA BRIGHAM, PANCREATIC CANCER PATIENT: He said I just want you to know that you have pancreatic cancer.

GUPTA (voice-over): Pancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive forms of the disease and that motivates Dr. Vinod Balachandran at Memorial Sloan Kettering to find a cure for it.

DR. VINOD BALACHANDRAN, ONCOLOGIST, MEMORIAL SLOAN KETTERING: We really need new treatments for patients. Stay tuned.


BALACHANDRAN: Right now, the immunotherapies that are used to treat cancer patients -- they are -- they only work in about 20% of patients. So about 80% of the time the current immunotherapies are not very effective.

GUPTA (voice-over): So, Dr. Balachandran teamed up with BioNTech. You may remember them as a developer of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. Their goal, to begin trialing mRNA as a pancreatic cancer treatment.

BRIGHAM: I was willing to try whatever would prevent me from having a shorter life than I really wanted to have.

GUPTA (voice-over): Cancer has challenged scientists for years, in part because the cells continuously mutate, making them harder for the immune system to detect. But that's exactly why BioNTech's co- founders, Dr. Ugur Sahin and Dr. Ozlem Tureci, have been working with mRNA for decades to see if they could outsmart cancer. GUPTA (on camera): How do you know it is specific really to that

cancer and not to healthy human cells in that particular patient's body?

DR. OZLEM TURECI, CO-FOUNDER, BIONTECH: That was actually the last two decades, which we invested and to identify how we get the best targets, the best mutations, the best molecules to recognize cancer cells and distinguish them from normal cells.

GUPTA (voice-over): Remember how mRNA works in COVID-19 vaccines. It essentially gives our immune system detailed instructions to make a specific part of the virus so our immune system can then learn to recognize it and create antibodies against it. Those instructions can then be tailored and tweaked quickly if the virus evolves. The idea is this could work in a similar way, but for cancer.

BALACHANDRAN: The optimal technology to be able to custom-make a vaccine rapidly in real time, which is really important for a cancer patient who wants care, the best technology out there, we thought, was mRNA.

GUPTA (voice-over): Let me explain how this worked for Barbara. Doctors first removed her tumor and a sample of it was flown almost 4,000 miles to BioNTech's headquarters in Germany.

DR. UGUR SAHIN, CO-FOUNDER; BIONTECH: What we do is we sequence the tumor -- the DNA from the tumor and identify the mutations by comparing the DNA from the tumor to the DNA from the BLAT because the BLAT is non-mutated. And then you can see that position of mutation.

GUPTA (voice-over): The next step involves using a computer algorithm to figure out which of those mutations should become targets for the vaccine -- the ones that Barbara's immune system will recognize and then deploy T cells to fight against.

It took just about six weeks for Barbara's custom cancer treatment to be created and once it made it back over the Atlantic, the first vaccine dose was infused into her blood. That was December 15, 2020, around the same time the mRNA vaccines for COVID became available.

Along with her standard chemo and immunotherapy, Barbara has received nine mRNA vaccinations and she says everything is so far, so good.


BRIGHAM: I had one last immuno last September of which I also had a CT scan at that time and it was negative for pancreatic cancer, and everybody is celebrating. But whatever time I have, it's given me more time to enjoy my grandchildren and my children, and my life.


GUPTA: It is such promising science and it's so cool. I mean, we're talking about individualized immunotherapy -- basically, teaching your body to fight your own specific cancer. As you heard there, these are early days. As you -- as you mentioned,

it's been happening for some time -- this work. But now these trials are now -- just now underway. So, phase one trials are finishing up -- phase two, phase three to come.

But look, if this works -- again, an individualized immunotherapy for very, very hard-to-treat cancers, guys.

BERMAN: Look, it opens up whole new doors in medicine, Sanjay. And it really would be wonderful if you can see the second- and third-level effects from some of the technology that's become so important in other ways --

GUPTA: That's right.

BERMAN: -- over the last few years.

Terrific reporting. Great to see you, Sanjay. Thank you.

GUPTA: Thanks.

BERMAN: Demanding accountability and compensation. The step that Trevor Reed is now taking to make Russia pay for holding him behind bars. He joins us live.

KEILAR: And next hour we'll be joined by Sen. Dick Durbin as CNN reports the vast majority of Republican senators are actually slow to embrace this new gun safety deal.



KEILAR: New comments from Amber Heard this morning after a jury sided with her ex-husband Johnny Depp in the defamation trial against her.


SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: It's been about more than a week since the verdict. As you sit here with me now has it sunk in?

AMBER HEARD, ACTRESS: How could it? It's surreal and difficult. In part, yes. This has been a long time coming.

GUTHRIE: Do you stand by your testimony and your accusations against Johnny Depp about abuse?

HEARD: Of course. To my dying day, I will stand by every word of my testimony.


KEILAR: CNN's Jean Casarez has more on this. What else did she have to say in this interview?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: She said many things and this is the first time that she has spoken out on the "TODAY" show just minutes ago.

First of all, she said that when she would go to the courthouse in the morning that there would be at least six blocks of people that were fans just standing out in the street of -- that were fans of Johnny Depp. And that in the courtroom, that it was packed with fans of Johnny Depp. And in social media, you couldn't get around it. And that she believes all of that influenced the jury.

Now, we don't know that the jury saw those people. We don't know where the jury met and was brought into the courthouse -- how they did it.

But she also testified that she thought that Johnny Depp's team did a great way of manipulating the jury with really wasn't the most important things that should have been brought before them.

Here are her thoughts.


GUTHRIE: -- that felt.

HEARD: This is the most humiliating and horrible thing I've ever been through. I have never felt more removed from my own humanity. I felt less than human.

GUTHRIE: Let's go back to the day of the verdict. Were you feeling confident?

HEARD: That's a great question. I wish I could say yes to that. I want to say yes to you but it wouldn't be true.


CASAREZ: Now, there were several tapes put into evidence that Amber Heard's voice was heard and she was admitting to Johnny Depp that she had hit him, that she had punched him, that she had aggressively begun something with him. She responded to that this morning, saying that this was reactive in nature -- reactive to him. And her expert did testify there is something called reactive violence where you don't start it but you just sort of do it in a -- in a self-defense mode.

She also said that the excerpts of the tape were not really what was happening. That was just a small little portion.

But it's all about the evidence, right? And this case was filed in 2019. The evidence was looked at -- what would and would not come into the trial. It was heavily litigated by both sides.

A lot of it didn't come in because the judge ruled it could not, probably on the basis of hearsay because those are out-of-court statements. You have to be very careful of that. This was a senior judge.

Now, this is what appeals are all about and she says she is going to appeal it. As far as the courtroom being filled with Depp fans, the judge -- she

was in control of her courtroom, and the minute I think she would have seen something, she would have said something. And courtrooms are for the public in this country.

KEILAR: Yes. Obviously, this was all over social media. I think the thing about this trial is many things can be true at once. I think a lot of people have a hard time sort of wrapping their heads around that. But it certainly is what we're --

CASAREZ: But what the jury had to look at was the evidence.

KEILAR: That's exactly -- that's exactly right, as you did as well.

Jean Casarez, thank you so much.

CASAREZ: Thank you.

BERMAN: So, Trevor Reed seeking to hold Russia responsible. It has not been 48 days since the American veteran released in a prisoner swap after spending nearly three years detained in Russia. Reed is now filing a petition with the United Nations to hold the Russian government accountable for his wrongful detention.


And Trevor Reed joins us now. Trevor, I think it's going to be some time before we say it's just great to see you. I mean, it's so great to see you every time we can at this point. So, thank you for joining us this morning.

Before we get to the suit you're filing here, just tell us how you're doing. What the last 48 days have been like.

TREVOR REED, FORMER U.S. MARINE IMPRISONED IN RUSSIA FOR NEARLY THREE YEARS (via Webex by Cisco): They've been good. I'm happy to be home, obviously, to be with my family and to be seeing some of my friends and, you know, adjusting back to life. It's been -- it's been slow but it's been going well.

KEILAR: What are some of the challenges, Trevor, that you've had with adjustment? You really haven't been back very long at all.

REED: Yes. You know, it's just -- it's kind of strange getting back into the groove of things and going into public places. Just sleeping is kind of difficult at first there, but all those things get easier over time, so --

BERMAN: You know, we talked to your family so much while you were detained and they were so concerned about your physical well-being, and the injuries you suffered, and the breathing problems you were having.

Give us a sense of the physical challenges you face now.

REED: Well, I started almost immediately to try to get back into shape and get back into physical condition to where I was before, and that's going extremely well. So I've put on already, I think about 30 pounds. Cardiovascular is improving significantly as well, so I'm excited about that. It's going -- it's going well.

KEILAR: Trevor, that is great news. That is great news that you're getting your health back on track.

So talk to us a little bit about this petition that you're filing with the U.N., what you are asking for, and what your hopes are for this succeeding.

REED: Sure. Yes, so this petition is to hold Russia accountable for wrongful imprisonment and mistreatment and violations of human rights. We're doing that at the U.N. because they care about their credibility at the U.N., at least somewhat.

So we're requesting their formal opinion on arbitrary detention. There's a working group there at the U.N. who specializes in those cases. That petition includes legal documents, eyewitness accounts, and that's what's going to be used to prove denial of rights under international law.

You know, they fabricated this crime in order to hold me there for political purposes and this is the first step in seeking justice and ending Russian hostage diplomacy.

BERMAN: What impact do you hope it has Trevor beyond just you and your case?

REED: Yes. So I hope that by holding Russia accountable that this will force Russia to end this practice for all Americans that they're holding there, including Paul Whelan and Brittney Griner. Paul has already been there for 3 1/2 years. And I've been released already for 48 days. We need to get him out of there as well as Brittney. If it takes exchanging someone, we need to do that.

But it's also a preventative measure, so I think holding Russia accountable for their actions will force them to think about taking other Americans hostage in the future, and just foreign citizens in general to use for political purposes.

KEILAR: And it just so happens Trevor that we're getting word that Alexey Navalny is missing, according to his team. He is the Russian politician and Putin's most outspoken critic who is currently in jail. They don't know if he has been transferred or what is happening here.

When you hear that what do you think? Because I remember talking to your parents and there were even questions at times about where you were. So what do you think when you hear that they don't know where Alexey Navalny is?

REED: Yes. Obviously, any time that happens in Russia that's a huge concern. They could have taken him to -- you know, to a place to put pressure on him physically or psychologically. They could have taken him to a psychiatric treatment facility, which is not for psychiatric treatment. They could have taken him to an FSB location. [08:00:00]