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CNN TONIGHT: Select Committee Subpoenas Former Trump WH Counsel Pat Cipollone; Committee Hints At Evidence Of Witness Tampering By Trumpworld; DOJ Charges Four People, Including Driver, In Death Of 53 Migrants In San Antonio. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired June 29, 2022 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: The news continues. Let's hand it over to Sara Sidner, and CNN TONIGHT.


SARA SIDNER, CNN HOST, CNN TONIGHT: All right. Thank you, Anderson.

I am Sara Sidner. And this is CNN TONIGHT.

A major development tonight, following that bombshell testimony, from a former Trump White House aide.

The January 6 committee has just subpoenaed former Trump White House Counsel, Pat Cipollone, to compel him to testify. He's long been considered a key witness, by the committee. But he's resisted speaking further, with the panel, after sitting for a closed-door interview, back in April.

The committee claims its investigation has revealed evidence Cipollone repeatedly raised legal and other concerns about then-President Trump's activities, on January 6, 2021, and in the days that preceded, and needs to hear from him, on the record, as they note, other former White House Counsels have done, in other congressional investigations.

There are, of course, privilege arguments, about him, coming forward, and testifying about exchanges, with then sitting President of the United States, who was ostensibly his client. So, it's unclear whether he will comply with this subpoena.

But tonight, a lawyer, familiar with Cipollone's thinking, tells CNN, he will probably agree to a transcribed interview, limited to specific topics, to avoid the attorney-client privilege issues.

The question of whether his testimony would be recorded, or live, is another issue that would need to be worked out.

What we do know, is there was Tuesday's stunning testimony, from Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to then Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows. She alleged Cipollone had very serious concerns, about Donald Trump's actions, on January 6.


CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER AIDE TO TRUMP WH CHIEF OF STAFF MARK MEADOWS: Mr. Cipollone said something to the effect of "Please make sure we don't go up to the Capitol, Cassidy. Keep in touch with me. We're going to get charged with every crime imaginable, if we make that movement happen."


SIDNER: There really has never been testimony, quite like it, in American history! Tonight, the questions are only growing, about where it could lead.

Hutchinson testified Donald Trump knowingly sent an armed mob, to the Capitol, and even wanted to join them, at one point.

Did he know there was potential for violence when he said this?


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: After this, we're going to walk down, and I'll be there with you.

We're going to walk down, to the Capitol.

Because you'll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.



SIDNER: Hutchinson alleged Trump was furious, metal detectors prevented some of his armed supporters, from being let into his rally, because he wanted his crowd to be as big as it could.

And she testified that he and Meadows were told about the weapons.


HUTCHINSON: I remember, Tony mentioning knives, guns in the form of pistols and rifles, bear spray, body armor, spears, and flagpoles.

I remember distinctly Mark not looking up from his phone.

And then he looked up, and said, "Have you talked to the President?" And Tony said "Yes, Sir. He's aware." And he said "All right. Good."

VOICE OF REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): He asked Tony if Tony had informed the President?


CHENEY: And Tony said yes, he had. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SIDNER: We've now heard several accounts that people, at the White House, Trump included, were warned about the dangers, faced by those, in Congress that day.

So, the biggest question, is there evidence, enough evidence, from her testimony, to charge the former President, with a crime? Has she raised the stakes for Cipollone, to testify? Not to mention Mark Meadows. Will we ever hear from either of them? They likely hold the master keys, to what this panel, is trying to unlock.

Let's take it to my first guest, who have very valuable insight. Alyssa Farah Griffin was a Trump White House Communications Director. She worked with Meadows, and is friends, with Cassidy Hutchinson.

Also with us, John Dean. Yes, that John Dean, the former White House Counsel, who made history, with his testimony, half a century ago, exposing revelations, about President Nixon, during the Watergate hearings that ultimately led to Nixon's resignation.

Thank you both, for being here, first of all.


SIDNER: All right. I'm going to start with you, John.

These are big revelations. How does the subpoena change the considerations, for Pat Cipollone, on doing more than that informal meeting that he's already had, with the committee, and coming forward, and testifying, publicly?


DEAN: It forces the issue. He's got to make a decision. Is he going to fight it? Is he going to do what his predecessor did, which tied it up, for two years, the issue of Don McGahn testifying? Or is he going to work out some kind of cooperative deal, and negotiate some terms, where he can testify?

Now, I think, it's very important under the rules of ethics that he testify as well. Because, as it appears, to an outsider, right now, he's part of an ongoing conspiracy that is illegal. And if he - there's no evidence that he has withdrawn from it. He's advised against it. But has he gotten out of it? He needs to come forward, for a multitude of reasons, including saving our democracy.

SIDNER: That is really stark, especially coming from you, someone who was, in the hot seat, back in 1973.

Alyssa, let's turn to you. We have heard a lot about that former White House Counsel, already. I want to - we've heard his name over and over and over again.

And this is just a sample of the many times that we've heard Cipollone's name, showing just how important his testimony would be.


CHENEY: White House Counsel, Pat Cipollone.

HUTCHINSON: Mr. Cipollone.

Mr. Cipollone.

Mr. Cipollone.

I see Pat Cipollone barreling down the hallway towards our office.

STEVEN ENGEL, FORMER UNITED STATES ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Pat Cipollone said, "Yes, this is a murder-suicide pact."


REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): Mr. Cipollone.

CHENEY: Mr. Trump's former White House Counsel, Pat Cipollone.


SIDNER: A former White House Counsel is, or the White House Counsel, at the time, is a big deal. They know a lot. And they know, what's legally right and wrong, and are supposed to be advising the President. And everyone knows that.

So, how would hearing, directly, from him, have an impact? Or would it have an impact, on those, who are still supporting Donald Trump?

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: So, I think, he's probably the most important testimony that could potentially still be gotten, by the committee.

And I would, to set expectations, there's virtually no chance you're going to see him come raise his hand, and do it before camera, the way that Cassidy Hutchinson was brave enough to do. I do think it's helpful that he is considering doing these transcribed interviews.

I trust Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony, word for word. I know her. I served with her. The things that she said and, honestly, a few of the lines that she quoted Pat Cipollone, as saying, "You're going to have blood on your hands," "We're going to have committed every crime under the sun," I can hear him saying that.

I worked with him only for about eight months. But it sounds like him. He's going to be able to confirm if that's what he in fact said and why he said it.

So, I would expect some level of cooperation. He's obviously - John Dean could speak to this better than me, but has a level of privilege that he can claim. He was the President's attorney. But some of this goes so far beyond the scope. It's talking about overturning election, overturning our democracy. And, I think, it's critical he testify.

SIDNER: OK. I want to talk to you quickly, just about something that you said, about Cassidy. You said, I trust what she says, implicitly. She has no reason, to lie, in your mind.

Let me ask you about something that has come up. And that is, a lot of people are jumping, especially those who support Donald Trump, on some testimony she made, about what she heard. It was hearsay.

But she told the committee she heard that Donald Trump tried to jump over one of his agents, security agents, and get to the car, and try to turn the car back, to go back to the Capitol, on January 6, because he wanted to be a part of it, even looking like he might choke one of his Secret Service agents.

They are now pushing back against that, the Secret Service.

Who do you believe?

FARAH GRIFFIN: Believe Cassidy, completely. And let me tell you why.

And, by the way, this was the only part of her 90-minute - roughly 90- minute testimony that relied on hearsay. It was one thing that I have to guess the committee deliberately allowed her, to share, because they're going to build on it, in further hearings, if I'm predicting.

But I will say this. Cassidy, I trust her word. She was there, under oath.

Tony Ornato, who was the other person, who told her this story, has not - has not come in under oath, and denied it. If he comes and testifies before the committee? I don't think he would perjure himself.

But I have been on the receiving end of him saying that I've lied about something that was witnessed by several other people. Jake Tapper reported this out. I've seen him to be somebody, who's willing to lie for the former President.

Cassidy has everything to lose, and she's doing what's right for her country. And the rest of her testimony is going to be able to be corroborated, I believe.

SIDNER: That's a huge thing to say that you think that somebody from the Secret Service, in his position, would at least skirt--

FARAH GRIFFIN: So, the one thing--

SIDNER: --potentially, the truth.

FARAH GRIFFIN: --I think, people need to keep in mind. So, he's career Secret Service. But he was a political appointee, in his role as Deputy Chief of Staff. So, that is very different.

I wouldn't be shocked, to be honest with you, if in, six months, he ends up at some Trump-aligned group, on the outside, when he eventually leaves Secret Service. So, this is a political person we're talking about.

SIDNER: That is something to look out for.

John Dean, you have been there, and done this, during the Watergate hearings, as we mentioned earlier. Could this subpoena, combined with Hutchinson's stunning public testimony, open the floodgates, like it did, back in 1973?


And I want people to hear this. Because this was such a stunning moment, for those folks, who were not around, when this happened, sorry, to Aja (ph), but for the folks that didn't see this moment, in history, when you stood up, and you made this statement.


DEAN: I began by telling the President that there was a cancer growing on the presidency. And if the cancer was not removed, the President himself would be killed by it.


SIDNER: I mean, stronger words have not been said, until we heard from Cassidy Hutchinson. Do you think that her testimony is the key to unlocking that door, and the floodgates of people start sitting down, in front of this committee, and telling it like it is?

DEAN: I certainly think it'll get the attention of many people, on the fringe. I'm not sure, it'll reach the hardcore Trump supporters.

I have done a lot of study of authoritarian personalities, after I worked for our last authoritarian president, the one that preceded Trump. And these are people, who are believers, and they can make facts that they don't want to hear, just vanish, in their mind.

So, I'm not sure it will open a floodgate. I think, a lot of people, who weren't sure, and were on the edge, they'll say, "Uh-huh! Well, there's a loyal Trump supporter, who's honestly telling us what happened," as your guest tonight is, and that's important to a lot of people, and will change their mind.

SIDNER: I just have to quickly, lastly, ask you, you were given a deal. How important is that? I mean, if there is no deal, for some of these people, who might come forward, we're not going to see them, are we?

DEAN: No. But they have the power to give - they have that power at the community - this committee has immunity power.

It was irrelevant to me. I told them, I would testify, with or without it. My lawyer said, "You're going to take it." But I decided to stand up, and account for my behavior, anyway, by pleading. So, it wasn't an issue with me.

But, I think, there are people, who could be immunized, and come forward, and they may well yet be using that power, in the January 6 committee.

SIDNER: John Dean, thank you so much.

Alyssa, whereas more to discuss, with you, just a bit later.

Ahead, Attorney General Merrick Garland said he's closely watching these hearings, as you might imagine. What does this explosive testimony mean, to any potential case, his Justice Department might pursue? And could it include potential crimes that have happened since January 6, such as witness tampering?

Former Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, joins me next.



SIDNER: Congresswoman Liz Cheney offered this, as to the question of whether anyone, in Trump-supporting world, could be tied to a crime.


VOICE OF CHENEY: Trump does read transcripts and just to keep that in mind as I proceed through my interviews with the committee.

He knows you're loyal, and you're going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition.


SIDNER: Messages, to witnesses, allegations of witness tampering, could mean this isn't just about possible crimes that were committed, back on January 6, and before. It may also be about ones that are still being committed.

My next guest brings a unique perspective, as both the former White House Counsel, and a former Attorney General.

Alberto Gonzales, welcome to the show.


SIDNER: All right. We just heard that bit, from Liz Cheney, where she is reading some of the information, the texts, or the emails, sent to witnesses.

What would you tell anyone, former President or not, who might be trying to convince someone, not to cooperate, with a congressional investigation?

GONZALES: Oh, I mean, that's a crime. It's obstruction - obstruction of justice. And so, that would be a serious matter. And I would tell them to knock it off. This is really, given the testimony, we heard from Ms. Hutchinson, I think, we've moved a little bit closer, where I think there are some high-level people, facing legal jeopardy. Obviously, we haven't heard from some key players, like Pat Cipollone. I think the subpoena there is very significant.

And, again, it's a serious matter, when the White House Counsel, is asked to testify, before Congress. There are issues of separation of powers, and executive privilege. Obviously, that privilege is not - is not absolute. It is qualified.

So, if you've got in a situation, where you have a high-profile investigation, where the information is very, very important? Then that privilege is often not honored by the courts.

Again, a lot - we have a long way to go here. But my prediction is, just based on where we sit - where I sit, today, is that Mr. Cipollone is going to be compelled to testify, either before the Congress, or he's going to be compelled to testify, before the Department of Justice.

If he's called before the Department of Justice, there is no such thing as executive privilege, since the Department of Justice is within the Executive branch. So, he's got some tough choices to - tough decisions to make.

There is a history. People may think, "Well, you're the lawyer to the President. You can't be compelled to testify." There have been - there's a long history, of senior White House officials, in connection with investigations, who have testified. Beth Nolan, White House Counsel, Charles Ruff, White House Counsel, Lloyd Cutler, White House Counsel.

So, it's not sacrosanct that the President's lawyer cannot be compelled to testify, before Congress. As I said the--

SIDNER: Right. The--

GONZALES: --the privilege is not absolute (ph).

SIDNER: The whole idea there is nobody is above the law. And so, you can do what you can, to try to find out, if a crime was committed.


I noticed that you said something important. You said that there could be some people very high-up that could face criminal charges.

The question is, after hearing from Cassidy Hutchinson? That testimony was as strong a testimony that, I think, anyone has heard, in a situation like this, maybe ever. Is it enough, when you look at what she has said, and the evidence that the committee has, is it enough to charge the former President?

GONZALES: Well, again, is it - is it enough in that, can you get all of that testimony, into court, into a corporate - criminal proceeding? Because again, there are rules of evidence. You've got to convince a jury of the President's peers, if that's who we're talking about. And so, it's a quite a different situation, to make the case, under the rules of evidence, with cross examination.

But I will say that, it seemed to me, we took a big step forward, in terms of showing that the President, was aware that people were armed, and that he encouraged him, to go to the Capitol. I think he can make the argument that he encouraged them, to obstruct Congress, in terms of exercising their constitutional duty.

So, I think there was a step forward. And that's, when I said, high- level people, I think, are closer to legal jeopardy, today, that's what I was referring to.

SIDNER: But I think here's the hard thing. And lawyers will know more about this, and you certainly would.

But the hard thing is, is he may have incurred someone to go to the Capitol. But did he encourage an attack? Did he encourage - did he take that next major step? Do you think that that's come anywhere near being proven?

GONZALES: Well, you have, I think, you get to the point, where it's the connection is inescapable that that is exactly what he intended.

Maybe he didn't say those words. Or maybe he did. Maybe he said those words, to his Chief of Staff. Maybe that was a communication, an utterance that he made to the White House Counsel. We just don't know yet.

But you get to the point, where the connection is inevitable. Maybe he doesn't exactly say those words. But, by his conduct, and by his knowledge, we know that the outcome is only - can only be one thing. We know that his desire, his intent can only be one thing.

SIDNER: And that's something that the - a jury, ostensibly, if they were going to bring a case, would have to decide, ultimately.

Thank you so much. I appreciate it, Alberto Gonzales. We appreciate your time here.

And, well beyond January 6, Donald Trump has remained the leader, of the Republican Party. He could even become President, again, or at least run for the presidency. But are the odds of that now shrinking with these hearings?

We'll take it up, with some power players, on the other side of the break.



SIDNER: Donald Trump, completely unhinged, angry, and out of control. That's the picture that some former Trump aides say, they now have, of the former President, in the wake of Cassidy Hutchinson's remarkable testimony.

One Trump ally even told CNN that Hutchinson's revelations could even make it easier for Republican presidential hopefuls, to challenge Trump, in a primary, should he run.

Alyssa Farah Griffin, is back with me, along with Van Jones, and Shan Wu.

All right, Alyssa, I'm starting with you.

One Trump ally, essentially said, this testimony, could basically be a campaign commercial, for the one and only Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, in 2024. We have seen polling also that shows for now that he is - he is in the race. If it were him and Trump today, more people said they would vote for him, than Trump. Surprised?

FARAH GRIFFIN: Well, not surprised. But twofold answer.

The fact that we're even still talking, about Donald Trump, after this insane testimony, under oath, from a former staffer, actually speaks to how powerful he is, I regret to say, the fact that he is not already just thrown to the side of history.

That said, I guarantee, there's a certain Governor of Florida, who's paying very close attention, to how the public is receiving these hearings.

There is going to - there are going to be people, who challenge the former President. I think Mike Pence, will. I think Mike Pompeo is looking at it. I think a lot of people are seeing a weakened man, who the public is just a little tired of. But, at the end of the day, he does have a death grip, on the Republican Party.

But the one thing I always say, to my fellow Republicans, is this is no longer a binary choice, of Joe Biden versus Donald Trump. If there were ever a moment, to jump ship, from this man, who tried to overthrow our democracy, on January 6? Now's the time. We could have somebody, who will not do that in office.

SIDNER: You were there. You ostensibly have people, who still are hoping Trump rises, from whatever just happened, to him, in this testimony. Are they swayed at all? Are they watching? Because you look at the numbers of some other networks, who have been very pro-Trump, and it's like, it's nothing exist?

FARAH GRIFFIN: I warn about this. I think we kind of live in a split- screen America, where there are certain folks, who just do not believe what they're seeing in front of their eyes, and what they're hearing, under oath. This entire congressional committee is illegitimate, so they don't believe it. I frankly, have family members who do.

So like, the people need to keep telling the truth. I do think people, like Cassidy, who stands to gain nothing from this? That really helps. Somebody, who's young, doesn't benefit from this, and had the bravery, to tell that story? That's got to resonate, with some Americans. SIDNER: I want to ask you something, Van Jones. Because, you're sitting here watching this. You were there, throughout the whole four years, right, talking about some of the things that were happening, with Donald Trump.

When you see what was said, in front of all of America, did it surprise you? Or were you one of those people that said, "I mean, that's what people thought anyway."

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER OBAMA ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well it's hard to be surprised anymore. It's hard to be shocked anymore.

But what I will say is, so kind of hiding in plain sight here is what if the Secret Service had said to Donald Trump, "Yes, sir. We will drive you to the head of this mob of armed lunatics." Think, I mean, I don't care, who you are, as a Republican. That is the judgment of the person that you want to have with the nuclear codes?

If any of this is true? Don't worry about the grabbing the steering wheel. Just the request, of a sitting Commander-in-Chief, to be at the head of a mob, should shock everyone.


SIDNER: Those are - those are strong words.

And, I think, there's a lot of people, looking forward, to say, "Wait a minute. In this testimony, we saw the statements that were either emails, sent to people, who were going to testify." And, for a lot of people, that sounded very, for lack of a better word, mob-boss-like.

Going forward, when you hear what was written to some witnesses, before they testified, are there potential people, who might get charged, with tampering, with trying to stop a witness, from going forward? Is that possible that more charges could be coming?

SHAN WU, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Oh, absolutely. Not only that. Those kinds of charges, I think, are low-hanging fruit, for the Justice Department. It's not going to require a lot of hand- wringing over, "Am I going into an area that's never been done before, charging a former President?"

This is standard playbook, witness tampering, easy to do. And so, I think that's why those may be really more easy standalone charges, in a lot of ways.

SIDNER: Shan, here's the hard question. I know. I like to throw the hard ones, at you. You're a lawyer. We do that to you.

The hard question is, how long, would it even take, if the DOJ did decide, "OK, we're going to make a case against the former President of the United States." Aren't we talking months, potentially years that this could take to bring a case like that? Because if they lose, what are the consequences?

WU: Well take that in two parts. I think the losing question goes to prosecutorial discretion, what they're worried about doing.

And here, as other people have said, I mean, you're damned, if you do. Damned, if you don't. I mean, the consequences of not making him accountable, his inner circle accountable, are really devastating, for the democracy. I mean, this is a case that has to be tried.

Practically speaking, you're exactly right. It will take a while, to get it in the pipeline, and actually try the case. And that is a problem.

With all due respect to A.G. Garland, who, I think, is a man of great integrity, I think DOJ is a little bit late, to the dance, on this, and they're having to play catch-up. And that is a definite problem.

SIDNER: Van, I've got to ask you. If this does take a long time, if it never happens, but if it does go forward, and it's 2023, or even 2024? Is this just going to be one of those political footballs, to get thrown around that Republicans say, "Look, it's just a stupid political witch hunt." And the Democrats are like, "Well, they're not doing much, or they're not doing enough." I mean, what happens here?

JONES: Well, I mean, we saw it. We went through two impeachments. And it didn't seem to impact much of the Republican base.

SIDNER: Move the needle!

JONES: But I got to tell you, you have a two-tiered justice system, here, if he doesn't get charged.

Can you imagine some local yahoo, in your town, screaming and yelling to a bunch of people, "We're going to attack City Hall?" That guy would be under the jail, tomorrow morning.

Can you imagine anybody, in your community, calling witnesses, and saying, "Hey, you know, I'm watching you." That guy would be under the jail, tomorrow.

So, the idea that you have Trump, and his whole operation, acting this way, and there's not been a single charge, against any of them? It's discrediting.

For those of us, who live in communities that are impacted by over- policing and over-incarceration, watching people go to jail, for 20 and 30 years, for doing tiny amounts of stuff, with a 100th of the evidence? It discredits the entire system, if there are no charges.

SIDNER: All right, going forward, this is going to be hard, for the DOJ, can we all agree, like they're in a tough spot, at this point?

WU: I do just want to say, though, that, when they're exercising their discretion, you have to think about defenses, and are there any innocuous reasons?

And when you think about that here? There are no innocuous reasons. There's no reason, for them, to be pursuing, trying to meet, in the War Room, trying to go through this memo that Eastman did, because there is no fraud. So really, everything that they're doing that comes out indicates that it's a crime.

FARAH GRIFFIN: And I just want to say one final thing. There's not a non-zero chance that this man could be president, again. And that's something, I think, Democrats need to be keenly aware of. I think Joe Biden's in a much more difficult place now, to win re-election. This could be the Commander-in-Chief, in just a matter of years.

SIDNER: Alyssa getting the final word.

Alyssa Farah Griffin, Shan Wu, and Van Jones, thank you guys, again, for being here.

We're coming back to you, in just a bit. But up next, the new battlegrounds, in the abortion fight, in the states and online.

And the Host of the "Slow Burn" podcast joins me, with a moment in history, from before abortion was legalized. Could it tell us what the future holds, for women, in America? That coming up, next.



SIDNER: As the country continues, to try and understand the true impact, of the Supreme Court decision, ending the constitutional right, to abortion, the focus is now shifting to the states, where the laws that are enforced, will depend on local prosecutors, at times.

This, as new research reveals online search traffic, on abortion medication, surged (ph) 162 percent, in the hours before and after the draft opinion leaked, in May. And one birth control provider reports seeing a 300 percent increase, in prescriptions, asked for by patients, after the leak, and ruling.

Joining me now, is Susan Matthews. She's the News Director, for Slate. And she hosts the new season of its "Slow Burn" podcast, which focuses on Roe versus Wade.

Now, to understand, where we're headed? I know you have heard this saying, before. We have to look back to where we have been. And you did that in a really unique way.

Your Podcast, went back, and looked at a case, of the first American woman, who was charged, with manslaughter. Her name was Shirley Wheeler, for having an abortion.

Can you tell us, when you did this, what does this case, perhaps tell us, about our potential future?

SUSAN MATTHEWS, NEWS DIRECTOR, SLATE, HOST, "SLOW BURN" PODCAST: Yes, I think, the really interesting thing, here, is Shirley Wheeler was, I think, 22-years-old, when she was in Daytona Beach, Florida, in 1970.

She was pregnant. She had already had one pregnancy. And she had really severe health problems. And she needed a second - she needed to have an abortion. And so, she got an illegal abortion. And it was definitely illegal, in the State of Florida.


But it was basically, up to the discretion, of the local prosecutor, to charge her. And she was actually put in jail, for four days, before they actually set a trial date, for her. And she had a trial, in front of a six-person jury, three men, and three women, who found her guilty of manslaughter, simply for having an illegal abortion.

And I think that - when I think about, what people say now, about what's going to happen, in this post-Dobbs situation? The thing that really worries me, is that, it doesn't necessarily matter what the federal level is saying about this anymore.

It's really going to come down to the states. And it's really going to come down to the discretion of individual, local prosecutors, to decide what to do, under this patchwork of laws that we're trying to figure out what is the law, right now. It's a really frightening situation.

SIDNER: There is a picture there, of the states that have either restricted, or banned abortions. And we're talking that about 26 states are in that, that's more than half the country, are in that realm, where they're either going to severely restrict, or they're going to ban.

Now, look, this was a boon, and cheered for, by those who have wanted to stop abortions, in this country, which, for a lot of the Americans, in that pool, they are very happy to see this, and they feel like the Supreme Court made the right decision.

But when it comes to practicalities, in talking to the doctors, who perform abortions, and other kinds of healthcare, they say women are going to do it. They're going to figure out a way to do it, even if it means taking their own lives, and putting those in jeopardy.

MATTHEWS: Absolutely. I mean, I think the real thing that I found, in looking at this time, before Roe, before the right to abortion, was legalized, is that women are going to get into this situation, no matter what. They're going to need abortions, no matter what.

It doesn't really matter, if it's legal or not. It's really about what type of abortion, women are going to get. And so, whether it's a legal abortion or not, whether it's a safe abortion or not? Those are the kinds of questions that we're going to deal with now, rather than whether they're going to get abortions or not.

SIDNER: There is another push, by those, in the conservative mindset, to try and criminalize this. In other words, not only have the providers, be criminalized, and prosecuted, but to actually have women, just like the person, Ms. Wheeler, that you highlighted, to have women, charged with manslaughter.

I want to listen to the Assistant State Attorney, who handled Wheeler's case, all those many years, before abortion was legalized. Here's what he said, about her case. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HORACE SMITH, FORMER FLORIDA STATE ATTORNEY: I've never worked on an abortion case, before or after, and I didn't consider this an abortion case. I looked at it as a manslaughter case.

If she is going to kill a fully formed, viable child, then she is certainly responsible. And if someone is helping her do it, they're certainly responsible. That's just common sense.


SIDNER: Now, that could be the same language that is used now, correct? Because it really is up to the discretion of whomever gets the case, correct?

MATTHEWS: Exactly. And, I think, one really interesting thing about this prosecutor, when I talked to him? Abortion was illegal in Florida, at this time.

And what he said to me is that he was charged with prosecuting this. And he had to deal with the fact that he thought that women were getting illegal abortions. And he was trying to actually find out, who had given her the illegal abortion, and Shirley wouldn't tell him, who had done it. And that was part of the reason why he went after her instead.


MATTHEWS: And so, in his mind, he was trying to protect women, I think, in a way. That's part of what he was talking about. But it's really, when you don't have this - when you don't have Roe, to protect women, it's going to happen, in a way that it's totally up to people, like Horace Smith, to decide, what they want to do.

SIDNER: I want to lastly ask you, and quickly. There is one part of this podcast that made me stop in my tracks, because I was walking.

What did the judge sentence her to?

MATTHEWS: Yes, after Shirley was found guilty, by the jury, the judge handed down a sentence that was two years' probation. And that was sort of a relief for Shirley, because she could have gotten 20 years, in prison, for the manslaughter charge.

SIDNER: Right.

MATTHEWS: But what the judge said, as part of her terms of her probation, was that she either had to marry her boyfriend, or leave the State of Florida. This is a woman, whose 23-years-old, is not a child, is being told by the judge, "Get married, or go home," essentially.

SIDNER: I would hope that in this day and age, that wouldn't be a legal sentence. Would it? MATTHEWS: It's a very interesting thing of how this was part of the terms of her probation. You can - there are lots of different things that can be part of the terms of probation.

SIDNER: Right.

MATTHEWS: Like "You can't go to a bar. You can't stay out late at night." So, I think that it--

SIDNER: You can have a gun, right?

MATTHEWS: Yes, all of these different things.

SIDNER: Yes, yes.

MATTHEWS: So, there are these archaic laws that can be brought into play now. And that's part of what is really frightening, about this moment.

SIDNER: Really interesting! Susan Matthews, thank you so much, for sharing your story, with us.

Coming up, two more big rulings, expected tomorrow, by the Supreme Court, including on immigration. This, as what is being called the deadliest human smuggling incident, in United States' history. There are already arrests, in that case. And the political blame game, on immigration has been reignited, because of this.


When CNN TONIGHT returns, we'll discuss.


SIDNER: Tonight, the DOJ says, four people have now been arrested, and charged, in the worst human smuggling incident, in United States history. That includes this 45-year-old man, who authorities suspect, was the driver, of the truck, where 53 migrants were found dead, packed in the scorching-hot trailer.

Watch as the San Antonio Police Chief describes the harrowing scene.


CHIEF WILLIAM MCMANUS, SAN ANTONIO POLICE DEPARTMENT: The floor of the - of the trailer, it was - it was - it was just completely covered in bodies. Completely covered in bodies.

There were at least 10-plus bodies outside the trailer. Because when - when we arrived, when EMS arrived, we were trying to find people, who were still alive. So, we had to move bodies, out of the trailer, onto the ground.


[21:50:00] SIDNER: Among the dozens of dead, 16 people survived, including four children. The San Antonio Archbishop tells CNN that most of the survivors, he visited, in the hospital, were either unconscious still, or unable to speak, because of their injuries.

We are back now, with Van Jones. And S. E. Cupp has joined us.

Thank you both, for being here.


SIDNER: This is a tough situation.

CUPP: Horrifying!

SIDNER: When you consider what that was like, for people, in the back of a truck, who are desperate already? It is hard to turn to what this is turning into, which is a political battle, once again.

Almost immediately, after we learned, of this tragic event, the Texas governor, Governor Abbott, and other Republicans, jumped on this, immediately. And this is the tweet from Abbott. He said, "These deaths are on Biden," and the result of his "Open border policies."

Van, what would you say, to the Governor, in response to that?

JONES: Well, I think, that's in poor form. And, I think, it's ill- considered, for him, to say that.

People - those people died for a dream that we take for granted, every day. And our hearts have been open, to the plight of Ukrainians, who are fleeing, for their lives. It's not just Ukrainians.


JONES: There are people, all around the world, who are fleeing very dangerous situations. And when those people try to get here, and the doors are closed, not open, it's not open border, it's a closed border, and they have to try to sneak through, and they lose their life? Take a beat, take a beat, Governor, before you make into (ph) politics.

CUPP: And they died a horrible death!

SIDNER: Yes. They were basically cooked to death, in the back of that trailer.

CUPP: Horrible! Treated like animals!

And I had read, an interview, with Greg Abbott, from a couple of years ago. And he said, "Listen, after tragedies, we turn to our faith."

That did not feel very Christian, for him, to come out, immediately, and blame Biden. Listen, this is a political problem. There is no way around it. Policies on the Left and the Right, are responsible for having a broken immigration system.


CUPP: Is anyone under the impression, we can't fix our immigration system? Of course, we can.

SIDNER: Every time--

CUPP: Yes.

SIDNER: --the fixing is supposed to happen?

CUPP: Yes.

SIDNER: Nobody can come up with something that everybody can agree on.

CUPP: Well because if you fix it? You can't run on it. If you fix it? You can't fundraise off of it. If you fix it? You can't fear-monger off of it.

There have been bad Republican immigration policies, and bad Democratic immigration policies. And it's time for people, to grow up, do their jobs, and solve these problems, so that tragedies like this don't happen.

JONES: There's a real opportunity, just like what happened, with the gun control, gun safety fight.

SIDNER: Uvalde, right?

JONES: When a tragedy like this happens, rather than pointing fingers, and turning on each other, we should be turning to each other. I do think there's an opportunity, to get something done.

Frankly, part of the reason that food prices are going up, is because you don't have enough workers, coming here--

SIDNER: Right.

JONES: --to do the agricultural work, and the service work that we would expect people to do. There's - everybody has a stake, in making sure, this problem gets solved. And if this type of thing doesn't bring us together, I don't know what will.

SIDNER: I liked what you said. Can you repeat that? Rather than jumping?

JONES: Yes. Rather than turning on each other, we could turn to each other. That's the appropriate response, to this level of tragedy.

CUPP: Yes.

SIDNER: As this issue, goes forward, I mean, could this be that moment? Could this be the Uvalde moment? Because 53 people dead, in the most disturbing scenario that you can imagine. And we now know that children were in--

CUPP: Yes.

SIDNER: --the back of that van.

CUPP: Yes, nothing worse to imagine. And who knows, if their parents were with them, or back at home. And just terrible!

You would hope that this would be a moment. But our country and our political system produces too few of those moments. We take too few of those opportunities. But I would hope that, for once, we could de- politicize, the issue of immigration, and just try to solve problems. But I'm not very optimistic, we will.

SIDNER: S. E., you presented a really sinister view.

CUPP: Yes.

SIDNER: Of why the immigration issue, from DREAMers--

CUPP: Yes.

SIDNER: --to folks, who are waiting to come in for asylum.

CUPP: Right.

SIDNER: Do you hold that same view that this is about being able to run on? This is about everything but solving the problem?

JONES: There's a lot of posturing and BS that goes on, on both sides. And it's really frustrating. There's a lot of maximalist views. "If we can't get everything in our immigration bill, we don't want anything!" That's not going to work.

If I were President Biden? If I were Kamala Harris? I would call, a meeting, tomorrow, and ask the Governor, since the Governor wants to make an issue of it, to come to the White House, ask the DREAMers, to come to the White House, and let's get on with it.

If I were Biden? I would take that open door--

CUPP: Yes.


JONES: --and I would come right on through. Because this is not an easy problem to solve, in our corners. It's very easy to solve, if we come together.

SIDNER: What is it going to say, about us, as a country, if we cannot come together, after 53 people dead, like this?

CUPP: I think it's clear, we're so broken, and tribal, and divided. And a majority of Americans do not feel as though this two-party system represents them, because the two parties are speaking to the fringes, and not for the majority.

Most people are in the middle, on a lot of issues. They're not in the extreme on immigration, or abortion, or guns. And no one's talking, to them, in the middle.

JONES: I think--

CUPP: They're coming up with these crazy ideas that are very unpopular.

JONES: Yes. I'll--

SIDNER: It's all about the base.

JONES: Yes, and--

SIDNER: Not about the majority.

CUPP: Yes.

JONES: And most people, in most neighborhoods, and most workplaces, and most marriages, you come together, and you cut a deal.

SIDNER: Compromise is the word--

JONES: That's - that's--

SIDNER: --that has become a bad word.

CUPP: Dirty!

SIDNER: And it shouldn't be.


SIDNER: We got to get out of here.

We'll be right back.


SIDNER: Thank you, for hanging out, with me. I will be back, tomorrow night.

"DON LEMON TONIGHT" starts right now.

Hey, Don?