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New Day Saturday

Crucial Vote Process Begins Today On Democrat's Economic Bill; White House Celebrating Week Of Wins On Multiple Fronts; Indiana First State Post-Roe To Pass A Law Banning Most Abortions; Jury Orders Jones To Pay $45.2M; Family Of Parkland Victims, Survivors Testify In Shooter's Trial; Teacher Shortage Reaches Crisis Level At Districts Across U.S.; 55 Million Plus Under Heat Alerts This Weekend. Aired 8- 9a ET

Aired August 06, 2022 - 08:00   ET



AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone and welcome to your "New Day." I'm Amara Walker.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Phil Mattingly. And it is a crucial day on Capitol Hill here in Washington. Democrats are getting ready to advance President Biden's massive economic and climate bill teeing up what could be a major win for the White House. We'll take you live to Capitol Hill and tell you what's in it and how soon it could pass.

WALKER: And overnight, a major blow to abortion rights advocates Indiana becomes the first state in the country since Roe v. Wade was overturned to pass a law banning nearly all abortions. We'll tell you when it goes into effect.

MATTINGLY: Plus, ready to talk. Russia now says it's open to discuss a possible prisoner swap with the U.S. after WNBA star Brittney Griner is sentenced to nine years behind bars.

WALKER: And a crisis in the classroom. Across the country schools are facing a critical teacher shortage. Ahead, we're going to talk to a school superintendent about what he's doing to staff up and what it can mean for the rest of the school year.

Everyone, it is Saturday, August 6th, and thank you so much for waking up with us. Phil, how -- no I shouldn't ask about how you're holding up. How's your wife holding up but those four children.

MATTINGLY: They've been fed as far as I know right now. Now I'm watching on the cameras like you guys have. But they're happy with their breakfast.


MATTINGLY: I hope some cartoons going on. I know we have to be careful about TV stuff, but its Saturday, you watch cartoons right?

WALKER: It's just like I feel when you come at home after 11 --

MATTINGLY: Yes, exactly.

WALKER: -- don't worry wifey.

MATTINGLY: Walk through the door here. The children have fun.

WALKER: There you go.

MATTINGLY: No, that's the beauty of it. For sure. Amara, great to be with you.

We all kind of dealing with the circus as it goes right now. And there's also plenty of news going on here in Washington especially up first step by step Democrats moving closer to a Senate vote on their major economic and climate bill. Now that Bill has already cleared a key political hurdle in the form of Senator Kyrsten Sinema now supports the legislation. Sinema support is essential as Democrats push for passage of the legislation under what we'll tentatively call a convoluted procedural process, which allows passage with just a simple majority.

WALKER: So here's a snapshot of what is in the bill. It includes $369 billion to combat climate change, which is the largest investment in U.S. history. It also gives Medicare, the power to negotiate some drug prices. It caps Medicare out of pocket expenses at $2,000. And it extends the Affordable Care Act subsidies for three years.

MATTINGLY: Now CNN Capitol Hill reporter Melanie Zanona joins us now. And Melanie, we understand Democrats are actually making progress even this morning towards a vote. Give us an update on where things stand and what's actually ahead now.

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: OK, so there are three steps that need to happen before Democrats can move to final passage. The first one is the Senate parliamentarian needs to rule on whether this package complies with special budget rules in order to pass this bill along strictly party lines. Now, Democrats did get some good news on that front early this morning. The Senate parliamentarian cleared the clean energy tax provisions in the bill including the electric vehicle tax credits, but we are still waiting on key rulings about Medicare and prescription drug prices.

Then the second step, they will move to a procedural vote, a motion to proceed, proceed that only requires a simple majority. And then there will be a maximum of 20 hours of debate. But they do not need to use up all that time.

And then we will move to the third and final step in this process. And that is the unlimited amendment process, also known as a vote-a-rama.

And so, as you can see, the timing here is still a little bit in flux. But Senate Democrats are hoping to pass this bill before the end of the weekend, and teeing up a final vote in the House on Friday.

WALKER: OK, so I'm not a procedural nerd to use the words of Mr. Phil Mattingly, maybe. Phil is and maybe you are Melanie. So, you know --


WALKER: Show us the big nerd here. So vote-a-rama, explain to us what that is and how that process is used.

ZANONA: OK, so essentially, during this process, any single senator can offer an amendment and there is no time limit on this process. And essentially, what we usually see is the minority party will try to craft amendment votes that are politically difficult for the other party. Just listen to GOP Senator Lindsey Graham describe it.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): So what will vote-a-rama be like? It'd be like hell. They deserve this as much as I admire Joe Manchin and Sinema for standing up to the radical left at times. They're empowering legislation that will make the average person's life more difficult.


ZANONA: Now, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer dismissed concerns about his members having to take tough votes, saying in the end, the final passage of this bill will outweigh anything else. But we are buckling up for a long weekend here in the Senate, guys.


WALKER: Yes, that sort of seems like. Melanie Zanona, thank you very much. Good to see you.

So, after months of setbacks and false starts, the Biden administration is celebrating some major wins on multiple fronts.

MATTINGLY: Yes, for the record, Amara, Senate procedure is cool. I don't care what anyone says when it comes to the (INAUDIBLE) --

WALKER: Being a nerd is cool. I think you're cool. You're cool nerd.

MATTINGLY: Thank you. Very appreciate that. I don't know if Mel agrees. But Kevin Liptak definitely will who were about to talk to you about the victories on the domestic and international stage. It comes with Biden still facing very low numbers. And there's Kevin Liptak, on the North Lawn for us over the White House.

Now, Kevin, the President's week started with the announcement of the death of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. Obviously plenty of good economic news throughout the rest of the week. Where do things stand right now with the White House?

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, there is some guarded optimism that this could be a real momentum shift for President Biden. And I say guarded because White House aides have been burned a lot in the past, breaks have not gone their way over the last year or so. But you are now starting to see them regain some of the initiative here. And it did start this week with the death of that key terror leader in Kabul. The intelligence officials have been poring over his movements for months, President Biden actually signed off on that strike a few weeks ago, but it took a few days to actually happen. And he came out on Monday and announced that strike. It was a major deal, of course, the top leader of al-Qaeda.

It was -- it had some ramifications for how the President's withdrawal from Afghanistan is going, of course, that the terror leader could be hiding out there. But certainly it was a big deal for the President.

Then on Tuesday, the key legislation on burn pits passed, the Senate, President had been watching that very closely. Democrats also got some good news. In the midterm election or in the primary elections in Kansas voters rejected a measure that would have restricted abortion. And so, Democrats see that as a sign that this could be a very galvanizing issue come November.

On Wednesday, we saw support consolidated among Democrats for that major reconciliation bill. The items in that bill had really been left for dead over the course of the last year. And now this really seems to be like it's moving forward. And so that's certainly a sign of optimism for the President. And then yesterday, we saw that key jobs report 528,000 jobs that was a significant development for the President.

So the President and his aides are certainly feeling good as this week comes to an end. The challenge now will of course, be selling those wins to the American people. And the President is sort of the first to admit that that hasn't always been a strong suit for him. But certainly Democrats are hopeful that this string of victories will show to the American people that they can be effective leaders.

The President's approval rating, still very low, but you are starting to feel a sort of a sense that they are starting to regain the initiative and really trying to grasp the momentum heading into November, Phil.

WALKER: Yes, I guess the Biden administration is feeling good. But the question is, are the American people feeling good, and how they feel about the money in their pocket? Kevin Liptak, appreciate you. Thanks so much.

LIPTAK: Thanks.

WALKER: So Indiana has become the first state to pass an abortion ban since Roe v. Wade was overturned. The bill would provide exceptions for when the life of the mother is at risk and for fatal fetal anomalies. It would also allow exceptions for some abortions if the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest. Indiana currently allows abortions up to 20 weeks after fertilization.

Protestors filled the halls of Indiana's state capitol as lawmakers voted on the measure and the new law goes into effect September 15th.

Now, this morning CNN has exclusively learned that former President Trump's legal team is in direct talks with Justice Department officials.

MATTINGLY: Now the DOJ is intensifying its criminal investigation into the January 6 insurrection. And these talks are focused on the limits of Trump's executive privilege.

CNN senior crime and justice reporter, Katelyn Polantz has the latest.

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Good morning, Donald Trump's defense lawyers and Justice Department prosecutors are talking marking a fairly significant point here in the ongoing January 6 criminal investigation. What they're talking about is the conversations Donald Trump was having in the White House and his interest in keeping those conversations from the federal grand jury. So this is coming after a steady amount of Grand Jury activity in D.C., where prosecutors were bringing in witnesses from the Vice President's office than subpoenaing people from the White House Counsel's Office to testify. But we know those witnesses aren't able to share everything that they know. That's because Donald Trump still wants to try to claim executive privilege as a former president, protecting advice he received while in the White House and statements he would have made then.


So we have asked Trump's spokesman for response to this yesterday. The statement he gave is actually a window into some of the Trump team's legal arguments here. It says how can any future president ever have private conversations with his attorneys, counselors and other advisors, if any such advisor is forced either during or after the presidency, to reveal those privileged confidential discussions? That's very likely what Trump's team is telling prosecutors too.

Our reporting team has also learned through sources about what's happening behind the scenes with Trump and his lawyers right now. They are warning him that indictments are possible. They're working on defense strategies, and they're warning him to stay away from people who might get swept up in these January 6 probes, people like his former chief of staff, Mark Meadows. But trumping Trump, he's skeptical, and doesn't appear to be following all of that advice. Amara, and Phil.

MATTINGLY: Thanks so much Katelyn Polantz.

Here with us now to discuss the legal implications, former U.S. Attorney Michael Moore.

And Michael, I want to start with the new CNN reporting on Trump's legal team. Look, there's been an avalanche of news about these investigations over the course of the last several weeks, pretty tough to keep up with it. But this one really piqued my interest because of the executive privilege issues, because of who's involved. Is this heading towards very critically towards the president directly at this point?

MICHAEL MOORE, FMR U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, good morning, I'm glad to be with you. I'm telling you that there has been a lot of news that has dropped out. I'm not sure that if I was the president, I'd be worried about getting nowhere to build me an ark. I might like to note where there's a lifejacket at hand, you know. But this is just part of an investigation. And so, we just need to step back a little bit. Let the investigation roll its way through. There's nothing particularly unusual about the defendants, potential defendant target, witnesses, lawyer and certainly in this case, a former president who's talking about executive privilege to have his team talk to prosecutors, because these issues are going to come up and what it tells me more maybe then, when we may see an indictment, or if we may see an indictment is that we're fixing to see litigation that's going to last for a long time over the course of the next year, at least.

I expect they'll challenge executive privilege. And we need executive privilege. Let's just pause for a minute and say, look, I don't care if it's Trump or somebody that you like as president. Executive privilege is important because it allows the president to actually get advice, and you hope that he or she one day is getting good advice from people. And so, we want to have deliberative discussions that are protected so that they can actually get to the bottom of issues.

In this case, he may be pushed it to shield himself somewhat from his involvement in the January 6 incident. But this question is not just about Trump, the executive privilege question is something that will apply to presidents going down the road for the rest of time for us.

And so, it's a question that a little bit of a decided by the courts, and I think it'll make its way to the Supreme Court, much like it did in the Nixon case. Again, you can't use it to cover up crime, you can't hide behind it. But at the same time, you need to have an ability to have candid talks with advisers without having those people subpoenaed at the drop of a hat.

MATTINGLY: Yes, the precedent here is critical. And it's the office, not the individual in the office, when it comes down to these issues.

Look, you actually make a really good point because as somebody, I'm not covering this investigation day to day, I can't necessarily put two and two together when I see all of the various threads, particularly the number that have come over the course of the last several weeks. You know, we also learned this week that former Trump White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, his deputy were both subpoenaed by a federal grand jury.

I guess I'm trying to figure out here, you're talking about kind of take a step back, when you're looking at this as a former prosecutor, what are these moves signal to you about the type of investigation that's going on right now and the work that's being done at DOJ?

MOORE: Yes, I think that more importantly, what I see is that it's being thorough, that more than it's necessarily just starting to target. The fact that Cipollone and the deputy counsel will have been subpoenaed to grand jury. That's important information is good information. But I would suggest if they've been subpoenaed, really because they had a front row seat to what was happening, as opposed to the fact that they may have the silver bullet against Trump. They, by all accounts would have been present during these meetings when you had sort of the credit, the gaggle of crazies that came and were suggested taking voting machines and releasing Krakens and all kinds of stuff that you don't have been, you know, things that that clearly were outside the bounds of any norms.

And so, this is something that I think they'll be talking about, and it may tell us more about, are we going to see potential indictments and charges against higher administration officials? Was there enough of a separation between what Trump told to do, people to do as opposed to people around him making decisions. You know, again, I really think you're, you're talking about a former president, who was trying so hard to hang on to power he was listening to anybody that would come up with some kind of idea.


And that strikes means these witnesses are more about what was happening than about having sort of the silver bullet that directly it gets trapped. In fact they may indict Trump that's something that could happen, you know, it's not hard to indict people, harder to convict people and to convince 12 people and jury because you only need one juror to hang out. So these kind of discussions have to be going on within the Department of Justice, along with their thorough investigation.

MATTINGLY: Can I ask you just one more quick one, for purely from a legal side of things, you know, we saw this dramatic moment in the courtroom in the Alex Jones proceedings over the course of the last several days where he was informed that his defense team accidentally sent two years of tax records to him. There are connections and overlap with what the January 6 committee is working on, when it comes to that, there's some discussion about perhaps the committee getting a hold of those. What's the process for that? Do you see like see that as a potential thing that could occur?

MOORE: Well, the text messages and the phone records, at least in some part are now in a court record. They're in a file. And because they've been produced as evidence in court, that makes them a little bit easier to get. The concern I have is this issue of the phone was delivered in all accounts, it appears it might have been delivered in error. But they did nothing to correct that or to fix it, or to file some type of media protective order on the evidence.

So, that information may be subject to a challenge and a little bit more litigation. The problem for Jones is that information is now known, and it's out there. And it's clear that there was deceptive testimony, at least during the course of discovery. And I think that makes it a little easier to get. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see these subpoenas come down for the follow up for the information on the phone. There'll be a search of it. And I think over the day, they'll get it. And it'll be used to see if there's any -- this connects any of those dots that the committee has been trying to do over the last many months. Is there some direction from Trump? Is there some direction from you know, other people in Jones' circle that we find in the text messages there.

MATTINGLY: Yes, so much, so much still to come. As a defense lawyer, probably a bad week or so for Alex Jones defense lawyer.

Michael Moore, appreciate your expertise as always, sir.

MOORE: Always good to be with you. Thank you.

WALKER: Fascinating stuff there. And speaking of Alex Jones, a Texas jury says he should pay nearly $50 million in damages and punitive damages to the parents of a first grader killed in the Sandy Hook massacre. Coming up, what's next for the Infowar's host?

Plus, we take a closer look at the fight to bring WNBA star Brittney Griner home from Russia where she was just sentenced to nine years following a politically charged trial.



MATTINGLY: President Biden says the U.S. is doing everything possible to bring WNBA star Brittney Griner back home after a Russian court sentenced her to nine years in jail. That's close to the maximum possible penalty. And Griner was found guilty of deliberately smuggling drugs into Russia despite an apology and pleas for leniency.

The White House considers Griner and Paul Whelan, another American held by the Russians to be wrongfully detained. It's encouraging Moscow to agree to a prisoner swap to secure their freedom.

Joining me now is David Salvo. He's a former senior State Department official.

And David, I think, first, thanks for joining us. But one of the things it's been surprising to some degree over the course of the last several weeks has been how public everything has been when it comes to the dynamics that are at play right now. Including the U.S. kind of laying out what a potential deal may be, which almost never happens, at least not in my experience.

How likely do you think it is that something will actually come to an agreement over the course of the next several days, weeks, months?

DAVID SALVO, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, THE ALLIANCE FOR SECURING DEMOCRACY: Well, first of all, thanks for having me. I'd say that your administration is really between a rock and a hard place. And here's why. You know, it's rare that negotiations over these types of prisoner swaps are out in the open like this. And honestly, that probably gives Russians a lot of leverage because the Kremlin understands the Biden administration is under tremendous pressure, not just politically but from all of American society really to bring Brittney and Paul home.

And so, the Kremlin's probably more than happy to drag out these negotiations for a bid to make the administration sweat.

MATTINGLY: And I think one of the questions obviously the administration doesn't just want Brittney Griner back, they want Paul Whelan back as well as been there for significantly longer. It has been made clear that they have kind of offered Viktor Bout, the former arms dealer in exchange is a two for one deal possible Bout has been a real objective of the Kremlin for a long time. Do you see that as being possible or is the U.S. probably going to have to consider someone else?

SALVO: I do think it's possible but I also think the Kremlin might try to poison the well by adding another name to the list. I mean, look, Viktor Bout should be prized enough to bring home, he's a, you know, huge arms traffickers responsible for the murder of plenty of people around the world. He also languished in jail, but the Russians do want him home because of his ties to intelligence. So you'd think that they would want to strike a deal, but they're, you know, they don't care about their people like we care about ours, unfortunately.

So, you know, they may try to add another name to the list just to drag out negotiations, and really punish the Biden administration.

MATTINGLY: You know, one of the things I was struck by with the sentencing is Griner was -- Brittney Griner was not only six to nine years, she'll serve that time in a penal colony, not kind of a regular prison to some degree. I'm trying to get a sense, one, do you feel like that's part of leverage play here? And two, can you give people a sense of what conditions would be like at a place like that?

SALVO: Yes. Pretty grim, you know, this isn't a Soviet era gulag, of course, but it's still not a happy place. When I was a State Department official based in Russia, I went to Russian prisons on time -- at times to check on the welfare of Americans and these aren't happy places. I don't think Brittney will spend nine years there, but nevertheless, you know, and I don't think she will be singled out for mistreatment. Especially given her celebrity status, but still she needs to come home. And, you know, the sooner we can do that the better off it will be for her and for Paul frankly


MATTINGLY: Yes, absolutely. I want to play some sound for your Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemning Griner sentence. This is what he had to say.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: It puts a spotlight on our very significant turn with Russia's legal system, and the Russian government's use of wrongful detentions to advance its own agenda using individuals as political pawns.


MATTINGLY: One of the things that, you know, when the sentence came down, I was texting with one official. And it basically asked, does this mean that this process can actually kick into gear in terms of a swap? Obviously, names have been put on the table? Is that your sense to think, like this was a step as bad as it was, as long as the sentence was and shouldn't have been? This was a critical point that we'll start to launch discussions in a substantive manner.

SALVO: Yes, I agree with that 100%. I think negotiations really will kick, you know, they'll gain, they'll intensify in earnest now. And I think the nine year sentence, as horrible as it was, was unsurprising. Because again, it gives, it gives Russians leverage, and it sort of lights the feet under the fire on our side to really come to the table and strike a deal. And the Russians will try to make that on their terms, of course. But the sentence in the formalities being finished, I think that's helpful to get Brittney and Paul home as quickly as possible.

MATTINGLY: And can I just ask real quick before we have to go, you know, we heard from Sergey Lavrov, on this issue. We've obviously heard from Russian spokespeople. Nothing happens, I presume, without President Putin sign off? What's your sense of his involvement in something like this?

SALVO: On a case that has this much attention, and is this important to the United States, absolutely. I really believe that this is already gone up to the highest levels and had Russia wanted to show some leniency and free Brittney already, they would have done so and President Putin would have been involved. I'm sure he was involved in the decision about sentencing. And he certainly will be involved in any final sign off for the prisoner exchange.

MATTINGLY: Yes, no question. So that sign off come soon. David Salvo, really appreciate your expertise. Thanks so much.

SALVO: Thank you.

WALKER: All right. Children are getting ready to go back to school. But what happens when there aren't enough qualified teachers to fill many open positions. We're going to speak with the superintendent facing this dilemma in Wisconsin, is going to also speak to the broader issue across the country.



MATTINGLY: Now here's a look at some of the top stories we're following right now. About 1,000 people are trapped in California's Death Valley National Park due to flooding.

WALKER: The park near the California Nevada border received 1.5 inches of rain, nearly 75 percent of all the rain it gets in just a year. The National Park Service says floodwaters push dumpsters into cars and cars into other cars. Park rangers say about 60 vehicles belonging to visitors and staff are buried in several feet of debris.

And to Los Angeles, witnesses and officials say a car actress or an actress -- a car that actress Anne Heche, excuse me, was driving, was traveling at a high rate of speed when she ran off the road and slammed into a house on Friday. The car burst into flames and caught the house on fire. The Emmy award winning actress reportedly suffered burn injuries and is said to be in critical condition. No one in the house was injured.

MATTINGLY: A state police tell CNN 10 people including three children have died in a house fire in the scope of Pennsylvania, town northwest of Philadelphia. Authorities responded to a fire in a two-story home just before 3:00 a.m. on Friday. Three adults made it out safely while the 10 victims ranging in age from five to 79 years old, found dead inside.

Now a judge has ordered the right-wing conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones, to pay more than $45 million in punitive damages over lies about the Sandy Hook School shooting.

WALKER: Jones had called the shooting a hoax but during the trial, admitted that it really happened. CNN's Drew Griffin has more on the verdict and what happens next.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Amara and Phil, that is certainly a big number, $45.2 million. And remember that is added on to the 4 million plus that this jury awarded earlier in the week to the parents of Jesse Lewis.

Jesse Lewis, one of the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012. The massacre that Alex Jones for years said didn't happen, was a hoax, that these parents were crisis actors. That is why the parents sued.

And that is why this jury has awarded this huge sum, which by the way under Texas law, may be reduced because of caps on these punitive damages.

But nonetheless, a big victory for the parents here who are trying to stop Alex Jones from lying about their son. Alex Jones did apologize.

During this trial, he said that people at Sandy Hook did die, it really did happen. But that was just too late for these parents who had endured years of the lies.

This is just the beginning really for Alex Jones, which could be troubling for him. He has another trial in the same courtroom next month from the family of Noah Pozner. Noah is the youngest victim at Sandy Hook.

And then he faces yet another trial. And on top of that, at the end of the proceedings today, there was the question of those phone text messages found during this trial inadvertently sent from the defense to the plaintiffs' attorneys that supposedly the January 6 committee wanted to get their hands on.

The judge today says, I'm not going to interfere with that. If you want to send them over to the January 6 committee for investigation, you go right ahead. And it appears that could take place. Amara, Phil?


WALKER: Drew Griffin, thanks for that. And it's still so difficult to see those faces of those little victims from that massacre. While jurors in the trial for Parkland School shooter Nikolas Cruz will not met again until August 22nd. A judge just missed them after an emotional day of testimony in the penalty phase of Cruz's trial.

MATTINGLY: Now on Thursday, jurors visited the Florida school building where the mass shooting occurred to decide if Cruz should get the death penalty. The crime scene, it has been left untouched since 2018. CNN's Leyla Santiago reports.


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The 1,200 building has haunted the Marjory Stoneman Douglas community for four years, a crime scene left untouched since February 2018 for this state, the day jurors would walk through what remains after the horror unfolded within those walls.

After survivors escaped, the bloodstains, the shattered glass, Valentine's Day gifts, even random shoes were left behind. Today, jurors saw it all.

IVY SCHAMIS, FORMER MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS TEACHER: I kept thinking about these kids that should not be experiencing this.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): Former teacher Ivy Schamis remembers what she left in Room 1214 that Valentine's Day.

SCHAMIS: There's a box of Valentine chocolates sitting on my desk with puppies on it, a student brought me.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): The jury will have to decide if Cruz gets the death penalty or life in prison after pleading guilty to 17 murders and 17 attempted murders.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there something that you'd like to tell the jury about your dad?




HIXON: I missed him.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): Far more damage left behind for loved ones. Agony, an emptiness that will never go away, strains on relationships.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a void in our lives that will never be filled.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): For days, loved ones told the court about the realities of their lives.

ANNE RAMSAY, MOTHER OF SHOOTING VICTIM, HELENA RAMSAY: Helena was murdered on her father's birthday. SHARA KAPLAN, MOTHER OF SHOOTING VICTIM MEADOW POLLACK: To try to articulate how it has affected me, would be for me to rip my heart out and present it to you shattered in a million pieces.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): Testimony that brought even the shooter's defense team to tears. This all comes after weeks of the prosecution making the case that this was a methodical and calculated school shooting.

Prosecutor showed the jury social media posts by the shooter months before the massacre. Some reading, quote, "I'm going to be a professional school shooter." And multiple posts expressing hatred.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just want to kill people.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): There were also internet searches including one for, quote, "Good songs to play while killing people." Revelations in court and at the crime scene that explain to a jury what led up to the massacre that forever changed a school and shattered lives in this community.

SCHAMIS: Just being able to say the truth of what happened in front of the shooter, like that doesn't happen very often. Most of these mass shooters don't survive these shootings.

I'm sorry to say I really don't have any sympathy for him. I really don't. I don't hate. I don't hate anyone, but he deserves whatever he's going to get.


SANTIAGO: It was a lot for the jury to take in, a lot to see, a lot to understand. We noted one juror took a handful of tissues and two jurors were seen sobbing in the courtroom.

Leyla Santiago, CNN, Parkland, Florida.

WALKER: Just so much heartbreak. We're going to switch gears now, and we're going to talk about the weather because it is going to be a scorcher across much of the U.S. this weekend. We're going to tell you how hot it's going to get.



WALKER: So as you all know, the coronavirus pandemic has caused ongoing supply shortages of all kinds of items. But the nation faces another potentially catastrophic shortage, a lack of teachers that has reached crisis levels and districts across the country. Just take a look at some of these facts here.

The Nevada State Education Association estimates it has roughly 3,000 teaching job vacancies. In Illinois, a January report by the Association of Regional School Superintendent said, more than 2,000 teacher openings were either empty or filled by less than qualified workers. That is frightening.

Joining us now is Dr. Carlton Jenkins, Superintendent of Madison Metropolitan School District in Wisconsin. He has a PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis. Good morning to you, Superintendent.

Thank you so much for joining us. How bad is this teacher shortage, not just in your school district but across the nation? What are you hearing?

CARLTON JENKINS, SUPERINTENDENT MADISON METROPOLITAN SCHOOL DISTRICT: Well, first of all, thank you for having me here this morning. Really speak on this particular matters.

My colleagues and I across the country have just really been wrestling about the pandemic and the increase in terms of teacher shortages. As you know, we've had a teacher shortage before the pandemic. But now since the pandemic, it has really increased.

In fact, this is our largest number of vacancies since 2017. It's about 37 more vacancies than we had in 2017. But we've been working diligently together as superintendents across the country, sharing best practices about what we need to do to address this.


The pandemic has caused a lot of stress amongst our staff as they had to really pivot and do a lot of virtual teaching in just a moment's notice. And the increase teaching virtually, and also just the impact about families socially, emotionally, and mentally.

And I do mean families, it's not just the child has really caused teachers to begin to think about what they want to do with their future, whether to stay in teaching, or go to colleagues that may be a bit to provide than (INAUDIBLE).

WALKER: So clearly, Superintendent, apologies for cutting off there. I mean, this is pandemic induced, obviously, you know, we've heard, you know, grievances about low pay for many years.

And I'm sure also, you know, the gun violence in our country, as to some of the stress. But help us understand again, you know, more as to why we're seeing so many teachers either leaving the profession, or just, you know, not wanting to come into the profession at all.

JENKINS: Well, again, the pandemic, a number of new teachers came in right at the beginning of the pandemic, and just the preparation come again, to this not understanding the culture, which we're coming in. They had to do a whole lot of activity, as well.


JENKINS: And the unfailing support (INAUDIBLE) get to a district. And then we also know, nationally, teachers did a lot. And yet when it comes to compensation, particularly just like in our state, at the state level, we did not fund public education at a level to be able to retain some of our teachers that they have an effect. WALKER: So, I guess, desperate times call for desperate measures, right? I mean, what are you doing to fill some of these vacancies?

Because I'm hearing, you know, that there are some unqualified people who will be teaching our children, you know, where you have anything in Arizona. College students are being allowed to take teaching jobs. Florida, allowing military veterans without a bachelor's degree to teach as well.

JENKINS: Well, I'll tell you this, first of all, with us, right now, we're about 7 percent down from what we hired all of last year, but we have some commitment letters out, and we're waiting on those teachers to confirm. Once we do that, we would have hired more teachers this year than we did all of last year.

And recently, we've been going to the colleges, going to historical black colleges to recruit, looking for Latinx people in our community, recognizing that we're a very diverse community.

We're trying to go to some of those places, as our -- my colleagues to get some of those hard-to-find individuals that come into the teaching fields. More males in the field.

But we're also putting ourselves out there many ways doing interviews like this. We were just reaching the Washington Post. We have people reach out to us from north, south, east and west, trying to recruit. Our board has taken the stance too in terms of just helping us be able to get people in our district. We've taken a strong stance on social justice, looking at that.

And also we've been very much about anti-racist. As you can see this medallion I have bought, we get a land acknowledgement for our Native American because we sit on hotshot (ph) land --


JENKINS: -- but we're very diverse (INAUDIBLE). And I see other colleagues are trying to do the same thing, make it a very welcoming environment for individuals that they bring in so that they can now recruit, retain teachers (INAUDIBLE).

WALKER: Well, we wish you and all the superintendents across the country who are dealing with the shortage, the best, and hopefully, we can fill these positions. I think you have about 200 teacher vacancies. But you do have some time because school in Madison, the school district, they'll starts on September 1st.

All the best to you, Superintendent Carlton Jenkins, thank you.

JENKINS: Yes, thank you so much. And we have a fair going on August 22nd, that we hope to get more teachers.

WALKER: Thank you.

MATTINGLY: All right, on the next episode of "United Shades of America," W. Kamau Bell highlights the ongoing fight for Asian American representation in the media. Here's a preview


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For "Crazy Rich Asians" really, it's showing the power that the community has.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I had some concerns, like is this the movie that we want to --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, exactly. Exactly. Like "Crazy Rich Asians?" Well, how I justified it was still a love story.

BELL: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you never saw Asians in romcoms. So many of us who've been in the business for a long time have sort of felt like we've been the only one climbing up this ladder and it's a very lonely ladder.

And so, to know that there are organizations now taking it upon themselves, right, to promote and to build infrastructure. Well, the fact that we're having this conversation right now for television, you know, means we're moving in the right direction.

BELL: Yes.


MATTINGLY: One of the most thought provoking shows on TV. Don't miss, "United Shades of America" tomorrow night at 10:00 p.m.



MATTINGLY: This weekend, 55 million people are expected to be under heat alerts from the Pacific northwest to the East Coast.

WALKER: It feels like it's been a very long summer. Meteorologist Allison Chinchar joining us now with a look at the forecast. Allison?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: And summer is not over yet. Not by a longshot for some of these areas. Yes, we take a look at where we have the heat advisories and excessive heat warnings, lots of different places. You've got the Northeast, portions around Detroit, areas of the central U.S. and even the Pacific Northwest as well.

For much of the Northeast, the temperatures are going to continue to go up. So take Boston, for example. The next three days all in the 90s, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. expected to creep into the mid-90s by Monday. We also have that exceptional heat across areas of the Pacific Northwest Portland, likely to get to triple digits by Sunday.

[08:55:00] But we also have some areas of very heavy rain to contend with today across the Midwest and, unfortunately, Eastern Kentucky which is the last thing that area needs to see.

We already have flood warnings and even flash flood warnings in effect for several counties here as this very heavy line of thunderstorms continues to make its way off towards the east.

That's why you've got these flood watches in effect, not only for Kentucky but some of the surrounding states as well. Also, guys, very heavy rain, about 4 to 6 inches across the Midwest today.

WALKER: Allison, appreciate it. Thanks.


MATTINGLY: And thanks to you all for hanging out with us this morning.

WALKER: Smerconish is up next. See you back here in an hour.