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New Day Saturday

Flight Cancellations Plague Airlines As Millions To Travel This Weekend; Trump World Sought To Influence Former WH Aide's Testimony; Supreme Court Rules Biden Can End Trump-Era Border Policy; Supreme Court Ruling Raises Fears In Fertility Industry. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired July 02, 2022 - 08:00   ET



MEIRA VA'A NELSON, ADAPTIVE SURFER: I used the wheelchair for six years before I was able to walk with two canes. Now I'm just using one cane.

I learned how to surf. And now I'm representing Hawaii in the worldwide competitions. It's a custom surfboard that is made for my disability. Nobody knows I'm disabled until I get out of the water, and I have to carry my surfboard while I'm holding a cane. There is a lot, a lot of newly injured people, young people too. And those are the ones that I have to be positive for. It's OK if you hit rock bottom, but don't stay there. Keep fighting.


KRISTIN FISHER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The top of the hour here on CNN, the holiday travel weekend is in full swing. And in some cases, people are going nowhere fast. These are live pictures from Atlanta's Hartsfield Jackson airport where you can see long security lines already forming this morning. We're tracking hundreds of delays and cancellations at airports across the country. Where we're seeing those slowdowns and where the weather could impact your travel plans right now on "New Day."

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: We're so grateful that you're starting your holiday weekend with us. It is Saturday July 2, just two sleeps away from fireworks and hotdogs and all that good stuff. Thanks so much for waking up with us. Good morning, Kristin.

FISHER: Good morning, Boris. Yes, just two days away if you can get there. As you look at all of these major travel disruptions that we're seeing this morning at airports across the United States. They're threatening to spoil the holiday for millions of Americans. Airports being put to the test as the number of people traveling by plane this Fourth of July weekend climbs to near pre pandemic levels, but staffing issues, cancellations and summer storms have caused headaches for airlines and travelers.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We got to get home, we got to fly. It is going to be, you know, canceled. They need to let us know now so we can know what to do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's saying that my flight was last seen near New York. Is not really thing. Is not really telling me what's going on.


SANCHEZ: All right, let's take a look at the very latest numbers. More than 400 flights canceled so far today, more than 700 delays in the United States. That's according to AAA is predicting that three and a half million people are going to try to fly this weekend. And additional 42 million are expected to hit the road and drive to their holiday destination. The silver lining for those drivers and it is a very thin silver line. Gas prices have dropped more than $0.9 over the past week. That's still $1.70 more than it was a year ago.

FISHER: Yes, that is a very small silver lining. CNN's Nadia Romero joins us live now from Hartsfield Jackson International Airport in Atlanta.

All right, Nadia, how that is it out there.

NADIA ROMERO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think people are trying to keep a smile on their face. You can see behind me, this group is pretty excited to be making their way through, so you have to kind of stop so that they don't have too much of a backup once you get closer to the checkpoint. This group making their way through right now. And you can see this gentleman here. This is Mr. Horace (ph). He works for airport operations. He has been so pleasant today. And he's festive, look at that festive hat on, a reminding everyone that this is a holiday and to keep your good spirits.

But you heard Boris mentioned those flight cancellations really a domino effect that started yesterday. With more than 580 flights canceled on Friday, the biggest impact at LaGuardia Airport in New York City. So air travel today just July 4th weekend, the entire weekend, we're expecting three to half million people to travel, 7 percent of travelers will be taking to the skies and the majority of people will actually be getting in their cars to hit the road. But it's going to be 14 percent more expensive to fly this year compared to last year.

Now you can see the long lines behind me. This is just the start of the main checkpoint. Many people have been waiting in line since over by the baggage area where you check in your bags. That's how long the lines are. And we spoke with a 13-year-old named Carter, who told us about why he wanted to make sure he got to the airport early.


CARTER BENTER, TRAVELING FOR THE JULY 4TH HOLIDAY: We left at around four and got here at five and yes, the lines are a lot longer than they usually are. I think that it's good to leave early and so you can make sure you have everything and be prepared.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMERO: Be prepared and sometimes we can learn the most from children right, Boris, Kristin?


FISHER: Great advice, get there early and be prepare. Nadia Romero, thank you so much.

So let's bring in CNN meteorologist Karen Maginnis, and Karen we've got right rain, we've got thunderstorms in the forecast for much of the U.S. What can we expect over the next two or three days heading into the fireworks?

KARIN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, I wish I could be a little bit more optimistic. But this is really challenging coming up over the next couple of days. Right now, it looks pretty good. When you look at this, you see all these green airplanes on here, meaning we're a go, well, not necessarily. We've got the afternoon nests when we typically see more in the way of delays. But this does not depict what the cancellations are. So this is just the weather aspect of the cancellations of the airports. And it is going to really pick up as we go into the afternoon and evening hours, especially along that Northeastern corridor.

All right, South Carolina, North Carolina. In the past couple of hours this formed over the coast in the vicinity of Charleston, South Carolina doesn't really have a clearly defined eye, there's a lot of deep convection one that eastern edge. This is tropical storm, Colin has supporting winds of 40 miles an hour, it's going to be moving off towards the northeast. So it's going to take about a day or so. So if you're in Myrtle Beach or Pawleys Island, or into the Isle of Palms, Sullivan's Island, all the way up into Duck Island area, and in Wilmington, you're going to be impacted by this because it's going to bring heavy rainfall, it's going to bring a rip current, meaning even a good swimmer could be impacted by that, those are those currents that will drag you out into the ocean. And you could be in some real pop a problematic situation.

Across the southeast, lots of rainfall here, the coverage is going to be fairly intense. Now this may not be a day long rainfall. But nonetheless, you'll have to dodge those thunderstorms. If you're driving, I know this firsthand from yesterday, those thunderstorms can really produce treacherous conditions along the roads there. All right, the main threats for thunderstorms along that Northeast Corridor. And this happens to be also the area that will be the greatest impact as far as the airports are concerned, Philadelphia, Boston, New York, Washington D.C., watch out as we go through the evening hours Boris and Kristin, it looks like those delays maybe an hour or so. But as I mentioned, they're not going to be the cancellations. These are just weather dominated delays that we're anticipating today.

Back to you guys.

FISHER: OK, Karen McGinnis, thank you so much.

SANCHEZ: A lot headaches ahead. Thanks so much, Karen.

FISHER: Yes, no kidding, Boris. And, you know, Boris, if you don't want to get stuck outside with all this rain and thunderstorms, you can just turn on your TV because on CNN on July 4th, we're going to be celebrating "THE FOURTH IN AMERICA" with music from artists like Journey, Willie Nelson, Pitbull, and, of course, what's the Fourth of July celebration without fireworks? You can catch it on Monday at 7:00 p.m. Eastern only on CNN.

SANCHEZ: So the January 6 committee revealed this week in a dramatic hearing that those in Trump's orbit may be trying to intimidate their witnesses. Sources tell CNN that the examples presented by Vice Chairwoman Liz Cheney, were directed at that hearings witness, the former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson and another person who might have been trying to influence her did so on behalf of her old boss, Trump's final Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti is here with us now to talk through all of the latest and the implications from an explosive hearing.

Renato, as always, thanks for joining us. Hope you're having a good holiday weekend.

I first want to get your reaction to the lingering questions about how the former president and those in his orbit may be attempting to influence witnesses. What's your reaction to that?

RENATO MARIOTTI, FMR FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, it's serious. And frankly, that's why we saw Liz Cheney make this such a big point at the end of the hearing. I think she wasn't just trying to put this in front of the public. I think she was putting a marker down and warning people like Mark Meadows that if they do this, again, they're watching they're building evidence, they'll investigate the matter and create more liability for them.

SANCHEZ: What is the line where it becomes witness tampering? What kind of evidence would it take for DOJ, for example, to prosecute those who are talking to these witnesses for witness tampering?

MARIOTTI: So, this appears to be witness tampering on its face to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. You're going to need evidence of exactly what how the person wanted to shape or mold her testimony. In other words, just to be clear that the messages that we've seen, in my mind were tailor made to try to protect somebody like Mark Meadows. Mark Meadows made a telephone conversation to somebody else who sent her a message, trying to put some distance between himself and witness tampering. The message we saw the text message was vague deliberately, deliberately vague to try to hide exactly how they wanted her to shape her testimony.


If there's some, for example, if you can put, you know, put some evidence, you know, into, for example, the head of someone like Mark Meadows or whoever was doing this to, to explain exactly how they wanted her testimony changed. And to help add some context as to how specifically they were concerned that she wasn't going to be protecting someone, I think you could make a prosecution case like this.

SANCHEZ: So, it almost helps that it was as vague as it was, it was a suggestion that they knew that Hutchinson would be loyal and be on the same team. It needs to be more specific. Is that what you're saying in order for a prosecution?

MARIOTTI: What I'm saying, yes. So they deliberately made it vague, because they can hide behind some defense that they just wanted to make sure that she was sticking to Republican talking points or spitting, you know, characterizing things a different way. But you know that they would stay in a defense, oh, we weren't, we didn't want at all to the facts. We just wanted her to, you know, not buy into Democratic spin.

What would be necessary to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, or at least what I think would help the case is something that made it clear that they did not want her to say certain things, they did not want her to testify as a certain fact. And I don't think we know whether that evidence is out there. But I wouldn't be surprised, given what we've seen just, you know, already in the public hearing.

SANCHEZ: Renato, let's talk about the former White House Counsel, Pat Cipollone, the committee issuing a subpoena to compel testimony from him. So far, he's resisted pressure to testify. How does his attorney- client relationship, the privilege that he may have with former President Trump and conversations that they've had? How does that impact his ability to testify?

MARIOTTI: It makes things more complicated. And I would say also, Boris, it gives him an excuse not to testify. In other words, it's not clear to me that Mr. Cipollone wants to testify against his former employer in -- I also not, it's not clear to me that he wants to be seen as somebody who's against Trump or seen as somebody who is helping any sort of effort to, to potentially build a case against the former president.

So, you know, certainly, you know, his former client was not Donald Trump, it was the office of the presidency. So that's the first thing. So that's distinct from Trump, the man. In addition to that, you know, they're, you know, particularly when there's evidence of wrongdoing. You know, there, you know, the DC Circuit has made clear that in situations where those compelled testimony, someone who is the White House counsel can be compelled to testify.

So, I think that if Mr. Cipollone wanted to testify, he would have broad latitude to do so. I think that he's using the fact that there's attorney-client privilege, which is legitimate as a sort of a shield to ensure that, for example, he doesn't testify publicly or to try to limit the testimony from the, you know, that he would give to certain topics.

SANCHEZ: After all, there is historical precedent for a White House Counsel testifying. Look at John Dean during Watergate, right. Renato Mariotti, we got to leave the conversation there. As always appreciate your time.

MARIOTTI: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Of course.

FISHER: Still to come this morning. Fresh off a successful trip to Europe, President Biden is back stateside dealing with the decisions made by the Supreme Court and floundering approval ratings.

Plus, the fallout from the Roe v. Wade reversal has many worried that IVF could be the next target.

And a CNN exclusive, Brittney Griner's wife speaks out as the WNBA stars trial begins in Russia. Why she says the U.S. government has to do more to bring Griner home.



FISHER: Right now, President Biden is spending the holiday weekend at Camp David, as the White House grapples with surging inflation, low poll numbers, high gas prices and the fallout of a historic Supreme Court term. I mean, the hits just keep coming.

SANCHEZ: Yes, and one of those Supreme Court decisions to overturn Roe vs. Wade, a new focus for this White House, President Biden meeting virtually with nine Democratic governors to discuss that decision to overturn abortion rights just yesterday.

FISHER: Yes, CNN's Kevin Liptak joins us now live from the White House. So Kevin, what exactly came out of that meeting yesterday?

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, this was really a chance for President Biden to hear out these governors as states around the country pass these restrictive abortion laws. He did say ahead of time that he would be making some announcements but really, he just reiterated the steps that he's taken so far. It's steps like trying to expand access to medication abortion. He also reiterated his support for eliminating the filibuster that 60 vote threshold in the Senate for passing into law, the right to abortion, but he was frank, he said he doesn't have the votes to do it now. Instead, he's reiterated the importance of voting for Democrats in the midterm elections, listen to what he said.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: So the choice is clear either elect federal senators and representatives who will codify Roe. Republicans who elect the House and Senate will try to ban abortions nationwide. Nationwide. This is going to go one way or the other after November.

This is not over. It's not over. (END VIDEO CLIP)

LIPTAK: Now, bottom line, there are a lot of Democrats who want President Biden to go further in protecting abortion rights. And you heard the New York governor in that meeting yesterday suggest using federal property to perform abortions there. She suggested veterans hospitals and military installations. That is something that the White House has rejected in the past and they reiterated yesterday that is not something that President Biden supports.


SANCHEZ: And Kevin Democrats are trying to make this a big campaign issue. We heard President Biden say that Roe vs. Wade was going to be on the ballot in November. But of course, this comes as the White House is facing a slew of economic challenges.

LIPTAK: Yes, that's right. Abortion is one of many problems that President Biden is trying to remedy ahead of the elections. Of course, the biggest one is inflation and more so specifically, those high gas prices, even when he was in Europe last week meeting with his counterparts. That was something that he talked about with all of them. It's an issue that he's trying to address. Of course, it's not something that he can do on his own. But some of the suggestions that he's put out so far things like putting in place a gas tax holiday that has shown no traction in Congress yet.

So certainly, President Biden still looking for solutions on that number one issue, which is the economy, guys.

FISHER: Kevin Liptak, thank you so much.

So joining me now to dig into this is Carola Binder. She's an associate professor of economics at Harvard College -- Haverford College, in Pennsylvania.

So Carola let's start here, we've got this new AP poll that shows that just 20 percent of Americans describe the nation's economy is good, 79 percent say it's poor. And that's a sentiment shared by a majority of both Democrats and Republicans. When you look at those numbers right now, how worried do you think that the White House should be?

CAROLA BINDER, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS, HAVERFORD COLLEGE: I think the White House is really worried because they know that inflation and especially rising and high gas prices, really have -- a really negative impact on consumer sentiment. And consumers tend to blame the President, tend to blame the White House when there's high inflation. And especially when there's high gas prices. It's the Feds mandate to promote price stability. But the Fed doesn't have any mandate to try to adjust specific prices, like the price of gas.

So that, you know, that tends to fall on elected officials, and especially on the President to try to do something about it.

FISHER: I mean, the midterms are around the corner. Do you think the White House has any chance to turn those numbers around before then? BINDER: Honestly, I highly doubt it. I think the Fed is going to be doing its best to bring down overall inflation. But that tends to take some time. And it requires raising interest rates, which have other you know, other effects that people don't like. So either way, you know, consumer sentiment is going to be pretty poor for a while.

FISHER: Let's talk about just how bad it actually is. Because there's a key inflation measure released just this week that showed that consumer prices essentially remained flat in May, the Commerce Department says that the Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index, it's a mouthful increased by 6.3 percent for the year ending in May. So, what do you think that stands about where exactly inflation stands and how bad it is right now?

BINDER: Right. Well, at least it shows that even though inflation is still high, it's not getting higher. Probably the better news within that release is that the core PCE, which is the measure that strips out food prices and energy prices, rose 4.7 percent over the year, which is a little lower than it's been in previous months. So that is, you know, a hopeful sign that inflation can be slowing down.

The Personal Consumption Expenditures Inflation Measure is the one that the Fed targets, when you hear about the Feds 2 percent inflation target, so that 6.3 percent is still well above the Feds target. So they still really do, you know, have this need to get that down.

FISHER: So Carola, as you know, we've got these high, high inflation, but you've also got gas prices hovering near or above record numbers. And so many Americans are going to feel them this week, and you got 42 million people expected to hit the road ahead of the Fourth of July and President Biden, he's calling on Congress to support a national gas tax holiday. We know, based on our reporting, that that's likely not going to happen. But if it does, how do you think that could impact inflation?

BINDER: I don't think a gas tax holiday would have a major effect on inflation. It would lower gas prices by, you know, a couple cents per gallon, maybe a little more, but it wouldn't slow down the rate of increase. And gas prices are just one part of overall inflation. And if anything, lowering the gas price, lowering the gas tax that's a tax cut so that, you know, boost consumer demand they have more to spend elsewhere. So all it could do is potentially just raise other prices and I think on net wouldn't have much of an effect of reducing inflation.


FISHER: Yes, and it's not just gas of course. I mean, everything is so much more expensive right now. Check this out. There was there was a recent survey released by the American Farm Bureau Federation, and it found that the cost of July 4th cookouts will be up 17 percent this year. Experts say it's, you know, supply chain issues inflation, the war in Ukraine, all to blame. But I mean, can people who are enjoying or trying to enjoy a good, you know, holiday weekend barbecue can consumers expect any relief anytime soon? BINDER: I do think that the Fed is really trying now to get inflation under control. That doesn't mean that prices are going to go back to where they were before this big, you know, rising inflation happen. It just means that they're not going to be rising as quickly. So, we're not going to get back to the you know, price of hot dogs and hot dog buns that we saw a year or two ago. We can just hope that they aren't continuing to rise so quickly.

FISHER: Yes. We're all kind of buckling up for the new normal. Carola Binder, thank you so much and Happy Fourth of July.

BINDER: Thank you.


SANCHEZ: A majority of Supreme Court justices sided with President Biden on his plan to end Title 42, a Trump era border policy. We're going to have a look at how this decision could impact asylum seekers at the border.

Stay with "New Day," we're back in minutes.



FISHER: This week, the Supreme Court gave the Biden administration a green light to end a Trump-era border rule. Their decision said Biden can end the Remain in Mexico immigration policy that sends non-Mexican citizens who entered the U.S. back to Mexico while their immigration proceedings play out. CNN's Priscilla --

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: CNN's -- go ahead, Kristin.

FISHER: CNN's Priscilla Alvarez has more on this story from Hidalgo, Texas.


PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): A major victory for the Biden administration. The Supreme Court ruling that President Biden can end the controversial Trump-era Remain in Mexico policy.

JENNIFER SCARBOROUGH, IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY: It's a relief. It's a program that should have never been started.

ALVAREZ (voice-over): The unprecedented program forced non-Mexican asylum seekers to return to Mexico and wait there until their immigration proceedings in the United States. It's just one piece of a complicated set of border policies that have contributed to confusion and desperation among migrants.

Jennifer Scarborough, an immigration attorney in Texas has been working with migrants for 12 years.

SCARBOROUGH: When people feel like they have no other option. When everything's mean so confusing and so difficult, they just end up taking riskier and riskier and riskier routes to try and get here.

ALVAREZ (voice-over): Those dangers came into sharp focus this week, when at least 53 people died after being transported in a semi-truck in the sweltering Texas heat. And what has been called the deadliest human smuggling incident in U.S. history.

There are people who left wanting to achieve the American dream and wanting to be better people says Jose Luis Castellanos, who lives in Honduras. The Justice Department has four people have been charged in connection to the incident. But human smuggling remains a top concern for officials this summer with temperatures in the triple digits. And as border crossings continue to rise.

In May, U.S. Customs and Border Protection stop more than 239,000 migrants at the U.S. southern border, according to the latest available data. That's up nearly 60,000 from last May. There is deep disagreement over how to handle the influx. Even some Democrats were not unanimous in agreement with the Supreme Court ruling on Remain in Mexico.

Texas Democratic Congressman Vicente Gonzalez represents the 15th District, part of which borders Mexico. He says the administration needs to implement policies that work to address migration further south.

VICENTE GONZALEZ (D), TEXAS STATE REPRESENTATIVE: It concerns me greatly, especially at this moment in time, because we don't have a policy in place that will prevent mass migration to our southern border.

ALVAREZ (voice-over): But immigration attorneys and advocates say Remain in Mexico is not the answer.

SCARBOROUGH: The things that we saw that were happening to people and the way that they were having to live is incredibly disturbing to see. It's just not how we treat, how we should treat human beings.


ALVAREZ: In a statement, the Department of Homeland Security said that it welcomed the Supreme Court's decision and would work to terminate the program, quote, as soon as legally permissible.

Priscilla Alvarez, CNN, Hidalgo, Texas.

SANCHEZ: Thank you, Priscilla.

Up next, frozen embryos and limbo. Families relying on in vitro fertilization. Now worried their future could be decided by state lawmakers in the wake of the reversal of Roe vs. Wade. We'll break down what's at stake in just a few moments.


[08:38:56] SANCHEZ: The uncertainty after the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade expands beyond abortion rights. There are also women who go through fertility treatments like in vitro fertilization that often lead to embryos that are destroyed.

FISHER: Now those families and their doctors worry that they could be the next target. CNN's Amara Walker speaks to one mother who used IVF to help her give birth to twin girls.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's always awake, always wanting to see what's going known.

AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For Karlee Gilbert, her twins are a gift from God and science.

(on-camera): You wanted a family? How badly did you want it?


WALKER (voice-over): A nearly four-year long struggle with infertility led this hospice nurse to in vitro fertilization, a medical treatment where eggs and sperm are joined in a laboratory dish. The embryo was then implanted into a woman's uterus.

GILBERT: I saw just how hard it is for families to be started. I don't take my girls for granted whatsoever.

WALKER (voice-over): She says it was a dark and lonely journey after three failed embryo transfers, she began to lose hope.


GILBERT: Got on medication because I did feel just so depressed that I couldn't have what other people were getting.

WALKER (voice-over): But this past March, 30-year-old Gilbert got what she wanted from her fourth embryo transfer, two healthy babies, Adeline and Ashby. Even with their dreams realized, Gilbert has a new worry now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, triggering abortion bans or restrictions in multiple states, including Mississippi, Gilbert's home state, which is moving to ban abortions in nearly all cases. She wonders what all this means for her frozen embryos in storage in Texas when its new last dating life begins at fertilization takes effect.

GILBERT: I mean, where else can we transfer? Is that going to affect that?

WALKER (voice-over): Dr. Preston Parry is Gilbert's reproductive endocrinologist. He has fertility practices in Mississippi and Louisiana. He says his patients are petrified.

DR. PRESTON PARRY, REPRODUCTIVE ENDOCRINOLOGIST: Whether they can do IVF, whether someone will regulate, whether they can get their embryos, how they will be able to choose the embryos for transfer.

WALKER (voice-over): Dr. Parry also worries about the potential impact on his career.

PARRY: That basically doctors could be charged with murder, if an embryo fails to develop.

WALKER (voice-over): Their valid concerns, says Seema Mohapatra, a law professor and bioethics expert at Southern Methodist University. Mohapatra expects some states to pass fetal personhood laws giving legal rights of people to an embryo in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling. Destroying an embryo, she warns, could be considered homicide.

SEEMA MOHAPATRA, PROFESSOR IN HEALTH LAW, SOUTHERN METHODIST UNIVERSITY: If we end up in a place where there are states that define an embryo as potential life, then-- and there's restrictions on discarding them, then you would have to actually implant them in order to not, you know, quote, kill them.

WALKER (voice-over): One round of IVF could result in multiple embryos which can be frozen. Some embryos that are not viable or are genetically abnormal or discarded to increase the chances of a successful pregnancy. Mohapatra says fetal personhood laws will potentially determine how embryos are used.

MOHAPATRA: So we're going to see this kind of fertility tourists where we're going to see that people are going -- that have stored embryos are going to try to move the embryos because of this uncertainty and fear that they wouldn't have control of what to do with their embryos, that they would have to implant them or that they couldn't discard them.

WALKER (voice-over): For Dr. Parry, meeting his patients babies like Gilbert's twins, for the first time, is the best part of his job. He and Gilbert hope that the scientific process of building families will not be sacrificed as the abortion battles raged on.

PARRY: My sole job is bringing kids into this world. That's the most pro-life type of setting that you can imagine. It is really scary to see how far this pendulum may swing. We don't know when it will stop.

GILBERT: I just felt like everybody should have the opportunity to be able to start their families and live the dream that we all dream to be.

WALKER (voice-over): Amara Walker, CNN, Madison, Mississippi.

SANCHEZ: Thanks to Amara Walker for that report.

Up next, WNBA star Brittney Griner's drug trial gets underway in Russia. Her wife is continuing to fight for her freedom. You'll see a piece of her exclusive interview with CNN's Abby Phillip, when we come back.



FISHER: WNBA star Brittney Griner appeared in a Moscow Court yesterday for her first trial hearing after being accused of smuggling drugs into the country. Griner has spent over four months in a Russian jail. The State Department has said she's being wrongfully detained.

SANCHEZ: Russian officials have extended her detention for six months pending the outcome of this trial. The second hearing is set to take place on Thursday.

Meantime, CNN's Abby Phillip sat down for an exclusive interview with Brittney Griner's wife Cherelle, who says that U.S. officials aren't doing enough to bring her home.


CHERELLE GRINER, WIFE OF DETAINED WNBA STAR BRITTNEY GRINER: It's really difficult. Is really, really difficult. You know, this is not a situation where, you know, the rhetoric is matching the action. And so, I can't just take the fact that this is somebody's job to bring home my wife and go off grid and focus to that degree. I can't do that.

You know, I do have to, you know, unfortunately, also push people to make sure that things that they're telling me is also matching their actions. And so it has been the hardest thing to balance, because I can't let up because it's over 130 days. And B.G. still not back.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR AND SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Do you trust that the maximum amount of effort is being put forward to bring B.G. home?

GRINER: No, I don't. And I hate to say that because I do trust that they're -- the persons working on this are very genuine people, that I do believe. But I don't think the maximum amount of effort is being done because again, the rhetoric and the actions don't match, you know.

When you have a situation where B.G. can call our government, the embassy 11 times and that phone call don't get answered, you don't have my trust at that point until I see actions that are in B.G.S's best interests. It would have been in her best interest for her phone calls have been answered. It would be in her best interest for her to be back on U.S. soil. So until I see things like that, no.

PHILLIP: I know that you've had some conversations with the Secretary of State and with other officials, but you want to talk to President Biden, right?


GRINER: Absolutely. And the reason why is because I'm new to this, you know, so I don't -- I'm no politician. I just graduated law school so I can only, you know, I can only do those things that are being told are beneficial for my wife. And the most beneficial thing that I've been told is that, you know, you meet with President Biden. You know, he has that power, he is a person, you know, that, ultimately, will make that decision for B.G. to come home. And so, everybody else wants to tell me they care, I would love for him to tell me he cares.

PHILLIP: What do you want to tell him? If you were to sit in front of him, what would you say, speaking directly to him?

GRINER: One, say the first thing is, I want to humanize my wife to him. You know, B.G., she's no politician, she honestly, you know, didn't really get into this type of stuff. When it comes to voting, and all of that until, you know, we got married and obviously, I'm very, very, very big on, you know, voting and all of, you know, the legal processes and stuff in our system.

And so this is our first year voting, you know, so his ballot, was my wife's first time --

PHILLIP: She voted for President Biden?

GRINER: She did. You know, she made that conscious decision to trust in him and his administration.

PHILLIP: There's talk of prisoner swaps being the thing that needs to happen. Is that what you think should be done? Do you think that the administration should say, we will swap who you want for for Brittney to bring her home?

GRINER: To be very honest with you, I don't really listen to much of the talk about the how, in measures of, you know, what is necessary to get her home. But if that's what's necessary, then yes, do it.

PHILLIP: Have you seen any of the pictures that have been released this week of her?

GRINER: I have, I had.

PHILLIP: What did you think?

GRINER: It was very disheartening, you know, and honestly, I told you, I like to, you know, be very frank with my wife, you know, an authentic one, I do write her, you know. And I told her, I said, I saw a picture. And, honestly, for a second, I thought she was insane. I said, you know, and it kind of, you know, took me aback.

And so I told her, I was like, you know, I just want to tell you one thing. I said, if you are losing your mind, just be gracious with yourself because you're human, and that's OK. And then when you come back, you know, we will love you back whole. And I said, if you aren't going insane, you know, just do me a favor. And, you know, just try and keep whatever integrity you can control by not allowing them to depict you in ways that are not really, you know, your current state, I said.

So to get to put a hoodie on and cover your head, do it. You know, don't allow them to try and strip you completely to that degree. Because at the end of the day, they're controlling the media over there. So I don't really know, you know, if it's photoshopped, or if that's really her state of being and things of that nature. But, you know, it was very hard to see. And so I understand propaganda to a certain degree, so I try not to take it as just truth, but it did make me worried.

PHILLIP: Had she had a chance to respond?

GRINER: She did.

PHILLIP: OK, what she's say?

GRINER: Well, she laughed. She did. She said, babe, I promise I'm not alone (INAUDIBLE), yes. She said, I haven't completely gone crazy, she said, but I was very shocked because when I turned that corner, it was over 100 news outlets with cameras waiting right there.

And she told me that she was also a very exhausted because, again, this is not a normal process. So B.G. has happened to travel over five hours round trip, when she goes to court in a very, very, very tiny cage, with her knees bent, feet up to the ground, because it's not big enough for her to fit in. So she is experiencing a lot the days before she walks into court. And so she was just like, it was just a lot. I was in a terrible mood. My body was hurting. And just I was shocked when I turned that corner. But she was like, it's OK. I'm not crazy yet.

PHILLIP: Do you think she's being used as a political pawn by Russia?

GRINER: Honestly, all of this stuff is so new to me. I didn't even understand what a political pawn was for a minute. And, you know, somebody else may through that way.

PHILLIP: But I mean, she's an American. She's a black woman. She's a lesbian woman, all of those things. I mean, when you realize kind of the context around that, what did you think?

GRINER: It was a big pill to swallow. I just didn't understand it. Like it felt like a movie for me. You know, I didn't understand these terms and these wordsand my mind. B.G. is just my best friend, you know, so like, I know, she's a big deal. But did I ever think that she could be big enough to where somebody would want to use her to get something else? No, you know, so it was really hard for me to grasp that, you know, but then I realized like the answer to that question is yes.

You know, like yes, can they get something in return for B.G.? Yes they can. Are they willing to do that? Yes. And at this point I want them to. Whatever you want please ask.



FISHER: Well thank you to Abby Phillip for that report and interview.

Meanwhile, millions of travelers are hitting the roads and airports across the nation this July 4th weekend, but it's not without headaches, of course. We're going to talk to the head of the Delta Pilots Union as pilots hit the picket line, that's in our next hour.


FISHER: You are live in the CNN Newsroom. It is Saturday, July 2nd. And I'm Kristin Fisher. Hey, Boris?