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CNN TONIGHT: A.G. Garland Vows To Pursue "Anyone" Responsible For January 6; Washington Post: Justice Department Investigating Donald Trump's Actions In January 6 Criminal Probe; TX Woman Initially Denied Life-Saving Medical Care Due To Abortion Law. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired July 26, 2022 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Klondike could not have picked a worse time, a hotter time, to announce the end of a beloved ice cream treat.

The Choco Taco novelty ice cream sandwich, in a taco-shaped cone is no more. Fans have been upset, ever since Klondike said they had to make some, quote, "Very tough decisions," about which products to continue, in order to meet demand.

In a tweet, last night, however, Klondike did hint at a comeback, saying they're working hard, to bring the Choco Taco, quote, "Back to ice cream trucks in the coming years." We can only hope!

The news continues. Let's hand it over to Laura Coates, and CNN TONIGHT.


LAURA COATES, CNN HOST, CNN TONIGHT: How you're going to lead into this show, with the end of the Choco Taco, Anderson? Everyone now hates this whole thing! I mean, is there a caramel burrito coming, at some point? I - if the Push Pop goes, I'm out of here!

Thank you so much, everyone. That just ruined our day! Thanks, Anderson Cooper.

COOPER: Thanks.

COATES: We appreciate it.

Everyone, I'm Laura Coates. And this is CNN TONIGHT.

So, for everyone, out there, wondering which came first, the chicken, or the egg, or maybe the committee or the DOJ investigation? The answer might soon become increasingly clear.

The committee may be flexing its legislative and oversight power, to illuminate what led up to, and what really happened, on January 6th. But the DOJ isn't waiting for the torch to be passed. It appears to be investigating the actions of Donald Trump himself. That's according to "The Washington Post," tonight.

CNN can confirm that key aides, to Mike Pence, his former Chief of Staff, Marc Short, and his lead counsel, Greg Jacob, both have already testified, before a federal grand jury. Pretty high up!

The Post says that prosecutors asked hours and hours, of detailed questions, about meetings that Trump himself led, meetings like the one Jacob described, to the January 6th committee.

Remember this?


GREG JACOB, FORMER LEGAL ADVISER TO VP MIKE PENCE: Mr. Eastman came in. He said "I'm here to request that you reject the electors."

And I said, "John, if the Vice President did what you were asking him to do, we would lose nine to nothing in the Supreme Court, wouldn't we?"

And he initially started it, "Well, I think maybe you would lose only seven to two." And after some further discussion, acknowledged, "Well, yes, you're right. We would lose nine-nothing."


COATES: Six to two, six and one, half dozen and another, you know?

As for his credibility, Jacob's credibility? Keep in mind that his version of events was already shown, before a federal judge. And that judge's conclusions, is it is, quote, "More likely than not that President Trump corruptly attempted to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6th, 2021."

Now, The Post reporting seems to indicate this goes beyond just witness testimony that the DOJ, back in April, I might add, received phone records, of key Trump officials, including former Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows.

And CNN's own reporting is that the Department has subpoenaed documents, from state lawmakers, in Arizona, and also in Georgia, involved in the plan, to submit fake pro-Trump electors, a plan that was laid out, in emails, obtained by "The New York Times."

In the words, of a pro-Trump lawyer, quote, "We would just be sending in "Fake" electoral votes to Pence so that "Someone" in Congress can make an objection when they start counting votes, and start arguing that the "Fake" votes should be counted."

Now, a follow-up email suggests "Alternative" votes, sounds better than saying "Fake" votes. Now, where have we heard that "Alternative" sounds better than "Fake" before? I'm racking my brain, to remember, when that might have been.

Well, the timing of all this reporting comes as we see Merrick Garland, doing what he doesn't often do, as Attorney General. Sitting down, with a network television journalist, on camera.


MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: We pursue justice without fear or favor. We intend to hold everyone, anyone, who was criminally responsible, for events, surrounding January 6th, or any attempt, to interfere, with the lawful transfer of power, from one administration to another, accountable. That's what we do. We don't pay any attention to other issues with respect to that.

LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS HOST: So, if Donald Trump, were to become, a candidate, for President, again, that would not change your schedule, or how you move forward, or don't move forward?

GARLAND: I'll say again, that we will hold accountable anyone, who was criminally responsible, for attempting, to interfere, with the transfer, legitimate lawful transfer of power, from one administration to the next.


COATES: He'll get tired, of saying, just that. Those questions are going to keep coming to him.


Well, my guests, tonight, know the players, and they certainly know, the stakes.

Olivia Troye worked with Marc Short, and Greg Jacob, on Mike Pence's staff.

Shan Wu is a former federal prosecutor.

And Miles Taylor was Chief of Staff to the Homeland Security Secretary, under Trump.

Glad to have you all here, today.

Merrick Garland is probably going to get tired, of having to answer that very question.

Remember, he just, a few days ago, was like, "Listen, basically, I said what I said, and I'll say it louder again," which is kind of weird for him to have had that tone. But it's one that displays that he keeps getting the same question, "Do you intend to hold Trump accountable?"

When these questions are coming, what goes through your mind? Is it too singular and myopic, a focus? Will it harm, politically speaking, other aspects of it? What's your thought?

SHAN WU, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think that he really needs to decide, if he wants to say something, more specific, or really just say nothing at all. Because the usual reasons, for giving nothing, about the investigation, don't really apply here. Everybody knows what the issues are. He's not tipping off, anybody.

He certainly doesn't have to say, "We're going to indict him." But he could certainly have said, what we just learned today, which is that, "Of course, we're looking at Trump's behavior. We're asking questions about him."

Today's reporting was the first time we heard even questions were being asked about it. I think he could say that.

MILES TAYLOR, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO TRUMP DHS SECRETARY NIELSEN, "ANONYMOUS" AUTHOR OF OP-ED CRITICAL OF TRUMP: Well, I've got to say, I think as much as the Attorney General, is trying to be disciplined, about what he's saying, he has tipped his hand. Maybe not in that most recent interview, but just before that, he said, "This is the most important investigation, in Justice Department history."

It's not the most important investigation, if you're looking at Peter Navarro, or one of these low-level aides. It's the most important investigation, in Justice Department history, if you're looking at the President of the United States.

Now, up until this point, Merrick Garland has been a Sphinx, in Washington, D.C. But, to the point, you just made, we may not know the Sphinx's answers, but we now know the questions he's asking. And those questions are about Donald Trump.

And we are now literally within feet, of the ex-President, of the United States, the people who sat feet away from him, the phones that were within feet of him. They are zeroing in on the ex-president. And I think that much is clear, at this point.

COATES: Is he a Sphinx, because he's cutting off his nose, despite his face, right now? What is the Sphinx analogy?

TAYLOR: Laura, we could take--

COATES: I want to go into this in great detail. Did my--

TAYLOR: We - we will mix--

COATES: I'm visual. And I was thinking--

TAYLOR: --all the metaphors.

COATES: --"Now, why is he a Sphinx," is what's going on? Tell me why he's the Sphinx, in Washington, D.C.

TAYLOR: But what - well, it's everyone's guessing what Merrick Garland is trying to do. But again, I think he's tipped his hand.

But there's something else that stands out here, and I know we'll talk about Trump 2024, and will he, won't he. But there's something very fascinating about this to me.

Before he ran, for president, he was basically under investigation, given what was happening with Russia. Once he became president, was investigated over Russia, and the Ukraine call. After his election, he was investigated, for January 6th, and is now.

This is a man, who's perpetually under investigation. But this one looks like it's getting closer to the ex-president than any of those ever did.

COATES: And yet, he's Teflon Don, right? I mean, what you just named, all those things happened before he got millions and millions and millions of votes, right?

WU: Yes.

COATES: And so, you have to wonder, to like politically speaking, does any of this get through? I mean, you were part of the - you know this very well. Is any of this, you think, resonating with people, in the way that, I guess, the committee maybe hopes it will?

OLIVIA TROYE, FORMER ADVISER TO VP MIKE PENCE: Look, I think it is. I think the hearings have been very effective. And the way they've approached this, it's been very methodical.

And they're hearing from Republicans, themselves. That's what really matters here, is these are people, who were there, until the very end, in the Trump administration, who were loyalists, who were - who did their jobs diligently.

And I think that message is resonating, when they come forward, and they say, "Look, this is what Donald Trump did this day. These are the facts. This is what we lived. And it's firsthand testimony." I don't think you can skirt around that.

But look, to get back to Garland, Trump went out of his way, to politicize the Department of Justice, the FBI, the Intelligence Community.

So, I've got to give some credit to Garland, here, where he does have to be very careful, with this investigation, and methodical, to make sure that he is reflecting the impartialness that we would traditionally always, want to expect, from the Department of Justice, especially in the United States. And so, that's something that I think about, when I want to (ph).

COATES: In fact, here he is - I want to play for you what he has to say about the reason, things are being closer to the vest. I mean, the committee is very public. And obviously, the court of public opinion wants everything on the table, all the time.

He says why, they have to be much more circumspect. Here he is.


GARLAND: We have been moving urgently, since the very beginning. We have a number of prosecutors and agents working on these cases.

It is inevitable in this kind of investigation that there will be speculation about what we are doing, who we are investigating, what our theories are. The reason there is this speculation, and uncertainty, is that some - fundamental tenant of what we do, as prosecutors, and investigators, is to do it outside of the public eye.


COATES: And, of course, that's true. But Olivia, you know Short, right? You know Jacob. So, tell me a little bit about what you think they're testifying to, in that grand jury.


TROYE: Look, there's no one, more apropos, to testify, to what they witnessed, in the days, in the lead up to January 6th, what was going on, internally, in the White House, what the President was trying to do, what Eastman was trying to do.

Look, Greg Jacob and I worked very closely together. He is a man of integrity. And he believes very much so, in the rule of law, in this country. And so, I have no doubt that they talked about the amount of pressure placed on the Pence team and, on Mike Pence, himself.

COATES: Shan, why haven't we heard though, from Mike Pence? I mean, I know they're all the people who are sort of in the line, and people - help people understand why not the proverbial, like why not that person?

WU: Well, I think there are two issues there, politically, which I'm not the expert on. I mean, he probably does not want to go on record, and like keep that as little as possible, because--

COATES: No witness wants to go on the record.

WU: Right.

COATES: We don't care about that in DOJ.

WU: Well, DOJ is going to be slightly concerned, with what is his status, at this point. He would be tremendously valuable. But they are getting all that information, from the people, near to him.

As a prosecutor, I think you'd have to make some decisions, about Pence, first. And his - if I was his lawyer, I would be looking to make sure, I had some guarantees that you weren't looking at him, as a target or a subject. So that may cause some delays, in terms of getting him, in front of a grand jury.

TAYLOR: I'm going to give a harsher assessment. It ultimately comes down to a lack of courage.

I've just got to say, this was the one issue, following through, on the law, was the one place, where we've given Pence any credit for showing backbone, during this administration. Otherwise, in meetings, in the Oval Office, he would stand there, and he would smile, and he would nod, even when the President wanted to do illegal things.

I mean, I've sat in there, like, I'm sure, Olivia has, when Trump has said things, like "I want to get rid of the judges. Let's get rid of the judges and ignore their rulings." And Mike Pence, rather than intervening, to say, "Mr. President, that would be illegal," that was the same Mike Pence, who would stand and nod his head.

So, I'm not expecting Pence, to stand up any further than he has. I do think he did the right thing, that day. I don't think that makes him a superhero.

COATES: Well, we'll see what he ultimately will do, or maybe he's been asked to do, already, as part of this. We just don't know what has been asked of him. But, on that day, we know what was asked of him, what he actually did.

But I am like you. I seem to hold my designation of heroism much closer to the vest. Consistency over time, I think, has a very big role, in all these.

Shan Wu, thank you so much.

Miles and Olivia, standby. We're coming back to you as well.

The January 6th Select Committee might not have any more hearings planned, until September. But that does not stop them from releasing more eye-opening testimony. This time, Donald Trump's acting Defense Chief testifies, just how many troops he was told, to have ready, on January 6th.

And could Trump's hold, over the GOP, be slipping? New CNN poll suggests more Republicans think it's time to maybe find someone else.



COATES: The January 6th Select Committee has put out brand-new video. It shows Trump's acting Defense Secretary, denying, there were orders to have troops, ready, to protect the Capitol.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So I want to be clear here that - since then, in February 2021, Mark Meadows said on Fox News that, quote, "Even in January, that was a given as many as 10,000 National Guard troops were told to be on the ready by the Secretary of Defense."

Is there any accuracy to that statement?

VOICE OF CHRIS MILLER, FORMER ACTING DEFENSE SECRETARY UNDER TRUMP: I'm not - not from my perspective. I was never given any direction or order or knew of any plans of that nature.


COATES: "Never given any direction or order." Now, that's testimony given under oath.

Well, as opposed to this, this moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I definitely gave the number of 10,000 National Guardsmen, and [said] I think you should have 10,000 of the National Guard ready.

They took that number. From what I understand, they gave it to the people at the Capitol, which is controlled by Pelosi. And I heard they rejected it because they didn't think it would look good.


COATES: Gave that number to the people at the Capitol? I'm going to need some more specifics there!

Olivia and Miles are still with us.

We're joined also by Alex Burns. He's National Political Correspondent with "The New York Times."

I'm glad to have you all here.

First of all, we were told no more hearings, until September. You've all marked off your calendars. You're waiting with bated breath. You cannot wait for the next one, I understand. But we thought maybe be kind of radio silence till then.

This obviously tells you "For every statement that might come out, I'm just going to leave this right here for you at the table." What do you make of this decision to do that? Was this trying to undercut the perspective notion that Trump could have a leg to stand on, in the public eye? What's this about?

ALEX BURNS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Look, I think the committee has been very, very deliberate, all the way through, about putting out information, at a time, and in a manner, of their choosing, to just dominate the news cycle. And yes, I think, to deny Donald Trump, a clear lane, to make his own case, at any point ever, right?

I don't - this is not necessarily the thinking of the committee. But, I think, it sure works out pretty well, for them, politically, that just as Donald Trump, is coming back, into the public eye, with a series of big speeches, about the future of the America First agenda? There's another drop of evidence, just like that, and I think that Donald Trump should assume that that's going to continue happening.

COATES: It is scary, right? You don't necessarily know what's out there. So, if you're him, perhaps, or others, by the way? I'm not just focusing on him. There are others that they might have little tidbits, little breadcrumbs are going to be spread out, among whatever trail they want to have.

But politically speaking, I'm always wondering this. If the end game is accountability, the big umbrella of accountability? I so often have people say, "You know? If you prosecute a former president, it's going to really divide the nation. Let's just move on, and beyond, even knowing the truth." [21:20:00]

And I wonder, do you really think that prosecuting, or holding accountable, in some way, shape, or form, somebody who might be engaged, in this behavior, is that kind of divide our nation, irrevocably? Or, is the absence of doing that, the problem?

TAYLOR: I'm going to say two things on that. And I hope that Alex and Olivia come in, and hit me up, both sides. But I think it's--

COATES: We're ready!

TAYLOR: I think, it would be both cathartic, for this country, and potentially violent.

On the catharsis piece, look, Americans want to know that no one is above the law. And the committee, I think, has already shown that laws were broken here. They've made a damn good case. And they're not even the prosecutors, in this. They're not the Justice Department.

They're a congressional committee that doesn't have the ability to do this prosecution. But I think they've made a really compelling case here, that laws were broken, especially that key law, right, disrupting a proceeding of Congress. So, it's cathartic to the American people to know that no one, even a president, is above the law. So that's important.

But, at the same time, I highlight violence very warily, because whether a Trump, if he is prosecuted, and convicted, or Trump, if he's prosecuted and exonerated? People, in the law enforcement community, have told me, and I'm sure, Olivia, that those situations could both end violently.

Is that, Trump supporters, if convicted, could be out there, in the streets, conducting acts of violence. And if he's exonerated, I think, you could see riots, in this country. So, it's definitely a dangerous situation, but not a reason to not go forward with the law.

COATES: That what you're hearing too?

TROYE: Yes, I think, to Miles' point, I've had these conversations, in National Security circles, where there is concern that would a prosecution or holding him accountable, in that way, would it lead to violence? Would it lead to more a - the Civil War direction that we're heading in, that everyone's concerned about in the country?

My argument on that is like, aren't we already on the brink of that? We're already kind of there. And, if you decide that we're going to be a nation that is not going to uphold the rule of law, also, what are we saying internationally, to the world, right?

What are we saying, on the world stage, to foreign adversaries, and to international partners? That the rule of law no longer matters that, that wealth and power actually can undermine the rule of law? Is that the precedent we want to set, based on the fact that we fear violence? I mean, we already have violence, right now. We're already experiencing that. There's already great concern about political violence, regardless, in upcoming elections, in the future, because of how divided we are. And also, a lot of it because of Donald Trump's rhetoric, and the emboldening that he's done, with these extremist groups.

BURNS: It is to me just such a bizarre American perspective that you can't prosecute somebody, who used to run your government, or the country will fall apart.

Happens in other places, in the world, all the time. Even indicted former presidents, and prime ministers, in countries like France, and Israel, and Korea, and Brazil. Those countries are still around. I'm not saying it's easy for them. And I'm not saying it'd be easy here.

But it is this sort of, I think, legacy of Watergate, and the pardon of a Richard Nixon, decided the only way you turn the page, is to not hold the person, in charge, accountable. I think it's a really strange, a kind of American exceptionalism.

COATES: Well, speaking of turning the page, Vice President Mike Pence was speaking, today. And he wanted to sort of turn the page. He had an interesting statement about how he and Trump are not so different, on the policy front, just on the focus.

Here he is.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't know that the President and I differ on issues. But we may differ on focus.

I truly do believe that elections are about the future. And that is absolutely essential at a time, when so many Americans are hurting, so many families are struggling that we don't give way to the temptation to look back.


COATES: What a very nice way of saying, "Please stop talking about what happened in the past." I mean, that's where he's going at, right, without saying as many words? But am I just giving him too much credit? Alex is like "No!"

BURNS: They do - they do disagree on the hanging Mike Pence issue, right?


BURNS: I think that's a place where they--

TROYE: I would hope!

BURNS: --they do not have the same agenda. But--

COATES: They are now in agreement that that should happen. You are correct. That's right.

BURNS: But seriously, look, I think one of the challenges here, one of the main challenges, here, for Mike Pence? Yes, it's the question of how do you parse your relationship, with Donald Trump, and your role, in the Trump administration.

But it's also that if Mike Pence is saying, "You don't talk about the past, you talk about the future?" Mike Pence's past, as the Vice President, is the only reason, why he's seen as a serious candidate for president, in 2024.

He is not an ideological visionary for the party. He's not seen as one of the big-ideas people, one of the electrifying, charismatic new- guard leaders--

COATES: Just his association with Trump.

BURNS: --of the Republican Party.

Association with Trump, his role in Congress and, basically, a stalwart member of the party, in good-standing, for a very long time, culminating in his service, as Vice President. If you can't tell a story, about that phase of your career, and then spinning it forward, with a set of new ideas? I think it's awfully hard to compete.


I think a lot of people, I talked to, in Republican politics, think it's awfully hard, for him to compete with other Ron DeSantises of the world, who really do represent, a next generation, and don't need to untangle, what they were doing, in the old Oval Office, at any given date and time.


COATES: Look at this new poll though. Look at this new poll.


COATES: I want you guys to see, and I want your comment on this.

There's a new poll CNN has, with SSRS, from back in July - end of July, just couple days ago, actually, where you've got Republican- leaning voters, whether they want the nominee to be Trump or somebody else. And they say, Donald Trump 44 percent, and then a different candidate, 55 percent.

So, I mean, not a total runaway, but that's pretty significant!

TAYLOR: These numbers were flipped a year ago. In fact, they were worse than that. It was something like 75 percent wanted to see Donald Trump. So, that's very significant. A lot of damage has been done, to Trump, here, politically, throughout all of this. More and more people want to see a new face.

But I also would caution, you cannot overstate the stranglehold that Trump's MAGA movement has on the levers that determine who the nominee is. All the way down to the precinct captain level, the MAGA team has been exceptional at infiltrating the Republican Party, and taking it over. That does give Donald Trump a built-in advantage. And I don't think you can underestimate him.

As far as whether Pence could be competitive? I mean, look, Alex made great points. But if you want to know what the Mike Pence vice presidency was, like? Mike Pence is a guy with an erect posture and a flaccid conscience, OK? He stood up tall, but he did not stand up to Donald Trump, OK?

And we just saw it in that clip. He stood up tall in the speech. But he still, after people trying to assassinate him, could not stand up to Donald Trump, and said, "We don't disagree on the issues." That tells you everything you need to know about Mike Pence.

COATES: I'm not mature enough to respond to what you've just said!

Thank you so much, Olivia Troye, Alex Burns, and Miles Taylor. I really do appreciate it. Thank you so much.

And still to come, the fight behind-the-scenes, to preserve a landmark case. We have new CNN reporting, on just how hard Chief Justice John Roberts, tried, tried to save Roe v. Wade, and what might have actually doomed the effort, in the long run.



COATES: Right now, a CNN exclusive, on what happened, behind-the- scenes, of the Supreme Court, leading up to the landmark decision, to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Multiple sources telling CNN's Joan Biskupic that Chief Justice Roberts fought hard, to preserve the right to abortion. But a potential deal, with one of the conservative justices, ultimately collapsed.

The real question is why, and Joan is here with the inside story.

Joan, look, the Chief Justice has been successful, in the past, trying to cajole and persuade behind-the-scenes. But with that leaked draft opinion, things seem to have changed. Is that the moment that there was that inflection point?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: I, bottom line, Laura, I wonder if he ever was going to be successful. But once it was leaked, then it really eliminated the chance, almost to about zero.

You're exactly right that the Chief has been successful in the past. The Chief himself has switched his vote, at the 11th hour, as we know, most memorably, in the 2012 Obamacare case. So, he has been someone, who knows that votes switch sometimes. They don't always stay the way, as this one did. In December, they voted, five conservatives, saying we totally want to reverse Roe, Chief Justice John Roberts, in the middle, saying, he wanted to uphold that Mississippi ban on abortions at 16 weeks, and then, of course, the three remaining liberals, saying please leave abortion rights, the way they are now.

But your question about his private negotiations, where he's seeking concessions, and offering concessions? That all goes on in sometimes just one or two justices that he's dealing with. He doesn't, you know, is not - his most successful moments are dealing, in small ways, with his colleagues.

COATES: So who was it here that he was trying to sort of sway (ph)?

BISKUPIC: His best prospect was Brett Kavanaugh. But he did not rule out Amy Coney Barrett, either. Because both of those are the newest justices they have - were not as locked in as Clarence Thomas, Sam Alito and Neil Gorsuch were, based on what they had written before.

But one thing about Brett Kavanaugh is that he always gives mixed signals, on these kinds of things. And he can be ambivalent. And I'm sure he was open to what the Chief said, even after he voted the way he did, in private, to reverse Roe. But you know what? In the very end, he almost always goes with the hardline anti-abortion move, as he did here.

But again, the key, I think, was once everything became public, on May 2nd, when "Politico" published that leaked first draft?

COATES: With his name as one of the people--

BISKUPIC: Exactly.

COATES: --siding on to the majority?

BISKUPIC: Exactly. I mean, it wasn't explicit.

COATES: Right.

BISKUPIC: But everybody knew that Samuel - Sam Alito thought he had a majority.

COATES: Right.

BISKUPIC: Then - then the world knows that Brett Kavanaugh has voted a particular way. And that Justice Barrett has voted a particular way. It's very hard to go back on that.

But one thing I want to say? And this is something you'll know, from the dynamic, of these nine. The hard-right conservatives were very anxious about what the Chief was doing. And they wanted to get the opinion out sooner, because they did not want anything to thwart their majority.

COATES: Now the plot thickens, though--


COATES: --as to why there was a leaked opinion, in the first place.

BISKUPIC: Well, exactly, I know.

COATES: I mean, it sounds--

BISKUPIC: I am - I know. I know.

COATES: --very, very strategic.

BISKUPIC: It does. I mean, when you back off of - backup, it looks completely strategic.

COATES: Right.

BISKUPIC: I don't know, if I believe that, for sure, though, because, of course, the Supreme Court is still involved in its investigation. And we're about to hit the three-month mark, and they have not found the culprit or culprits.

So, I also wonder if maybe it changed hands, a couple times, before it got to "Politico," because, remember that draft was dated February 10th, and they published it in May. But the new reporting just shows how vigorously they've tried to investigate this. But with no luck.

COATES: I mean, just the idea that it dropped, having it out there, makes people think you can't change your mind. There's no opportunity to negotiate in wheel and deal, behind-the-scenes, and make concessions.

Because if you - now, I have to know that I'm changing your mind, and the public knows it's not sort of the behind-the-scenes private motions?

BISKUPIC: Right. Because the times when the Chief himself had switched votes? We didn't know that, initially.

COATES: Right.

BISKUPIC: It had to be ferreted out late - after the fact. And - but in this case, everybody would have known, if Brett Kavanaugh suddenly was in the middle, as the Chief was, to uphold the Mississippi law, but not reverse Roe.


And as you know, well, they never - when they first took this case, when they said that they were going to hear it? They didn't - they said they were only going to hear it, on the question of whether a 15- week ban, was unconstitutional. And they went much further. And this is what we have now.

COATES: Well, as I said, the plot thickens, as to who exactly leaked it, and now, the why. It seems we might know a little bit more about the why. BISKUPIC: Yes.

COATES: Joan Biskupic, as always, thank you for your reporting.

BISKUPIC: Thank you.

COATES: Great to have you here.

Up next, we're going to hear, from a Texas woman, who experienced firsthand, what can happen, when strict new abortion laws take effect. Now, when her pregnancy suddenly became complicated, that's when her nightmare began!


COATES: The overturning of Roe doesn't just affect women, looking to end unwanted pregnancies. I'm about to introduce you, to a woman, who had to endure days, of medical horror, and bureaucracy.

Elizabeth Weller was an excited mother-to-be. But her water broke, way too early, at just 18 weeks. That means, the chance of survival, for the fetus, then plummeted, while Elizabeth's chance of potentially deadly infection, it went way up.


Now, at first, Elizabeth and, her husband, James, were given two options. Continue the pregnancy, try to get the baby to 24 weeks, and hope for the slight chance of survival. Or, end the pregnancy. They chose the latter.

But the procedure was blocked. Why? Because the Wellers live in Texas, where abortions are illegal, if there's a fetal heartbeat. So, to get one, Elizabeth had to wait, until the fetal heartbeat stopped, or until she got so sick, that the doctors had to terminate the pregnancy, as a medical emergency.

The Wellers, they join me now.

Thank you for being here today, Elizabeth and James. I'm so sorry, to be meeting you, under these occasions. And I'm just heartbroken at the choice that you had to make, let alone the treatment that you received.

Can you just walk me through, Elizabeth, a little bit, about what that was like, to know that you had to endure, for days, waiting till you were either sick enough, or till the heartbeat stopped?

ELIZABETH WELLER, BLAMES TEXAS ABORTION LAW FOR DELAYED MEDICAL CARE: Yes. So, the mental anguish that followed, having to leave the hospital, was something that I would never wish on anybody. The following day, after having to grapple with the fact that my daughter, who I wanted so badly, was going to die, was just a hell on earth.

It was torture, having to wake up, every day, in a home, knowing that I wanted to fill that house, with my baby girl, and the future that we created, in our heads, of what this house was going to look like, how it was going to feel.

And then, to be in my home, in the sense of doom and broken promises that were created all around me? Because we had just started to work on her nursery, and now having to grapple with the fact that she was going to leave that she was not going to make it? Walking through our home was kind of like walking through a tomb.

COATES: It's just devastating, for me to hear that. I'm so sorry that that is what you've had to experience. And just the phrase of "Broken promises," and the hopes and what you've gone through, you and your husband, James.

Can you talk to me a little bit, James, about - I mean, you're in Texas. Most people think about the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and the Dobbs decision, as being somebody else's problem, those who have an unwanted pregnancy.

As you and your wife are sitting here, today, you wanted your daughter. And yet, the choices that you had to make, were ones dictated, oftentimes, by the doctors, fearful, it seems, of having to contend with that very decision. What was that like for you, as a father?

JAMES WELLER, WIFE BLAMES TEXAS ABORTION LAW FOR DELAYED MEDICAL CARE: We wanted nothing more than to fill that house with children. And there were points, during our ordeal, where we were looking at flights, to Denver, or to Albuquerque, so that we could stop her, from having her life, put in jeopardy.

And now, I feel like, although I was born and raised, here, in Texas, I don't know if I want to start a family, in Texas. I feel like, sometimes, my only real option, for a family, is to sell our house, and move, to a state, where if something were to happen, to my wife, during pregnancy, her life doesn't have to be put on the line for it.

COATES: It's amazing to hear that statement. And I want people to understand, Elizabeth, you endured a great deal. You had days of having to wait until you were considered sick enough. That in and of itself, in my mind, just sounds sick, to even contemplate that someone would make you go through that.


COATES: What was your pain like? What did you have to go through? I want people to understand that this was something that really was horrific for you.

E. WELLER: So, there are two levels to that pain. The first one is mental, and the second one is physical.

Physically, my body was reacting to the cramps, and the continued exit of amniotic fluid, from my body. I was starting to experience nausea, just from the amount of stress and pressure that I was going through, having to grapple with the fact that one, I'm losing my baby and, two, I can't do anything, to minimize the suffering that she's enduring, inside of me. Because, for a lot of people, you have to realize that this is a baby, without amniotic fluid. She is being encased in her own sac. And the pressure of my body is on her.


So, I have to endure the physical pain of, one, my body, now, starting the process of contractions, and starting to what is in a sense, rejecting a failed birth, inside of me. And then, on top of that, having to grapple with the mental anguish of it all.

There was a point in time, on Friday, the day that I was going to get induced, before we were - we even knew, we were going to be able to get an induction happen. And that morning, through the pressure, and through the mental anguish of it all, I heard a sound of gas, in my abdomen.

And, for me, to have heard that sound, it was very high pitch. And, to me, in my moment of anguish, I thought that that sound of gas was actually my baby screaming, because she was about to die.

And even though that's completely irrational, and with - not within the realm of reality? That was where my mental health was at. And that is the consequences of what these laws that are in action, in Texas, are doing.

It's not just the fact that you're grappling with the pain, of having to lose a baby girl that you wanted so badly, but now having to deal with the anguish of knowing that you need a medically-necessary procedure, and the State of Texas to tell you, "No."

COATES: Elizabeth, I'm just so sorry, to hear, to even, for a moment, to think what that would have been like, and what it continues to be.

I want to thank both of you, for sharing your story. I know that it's difficult to do. I think it is so brave, and speaks to your humanity, to really talk about, and explain, what's so deeply personal, because the world needs to hear, what you went through.

Thank you to both of you. And I'm very, very sorry for your loss.

J. WELLER: Thank you.

E. WELLER: Thank you, Miss Coates.

COATES: Justice, well, it might have been delayed. But it wasn't denied. A teen convicted, after a notorious Central Park attack is, that happened back in 1989, is now exonerated, in the year 2022.

What's it like to finally truly be free? One of his co-defendants knows, and he'll join us next.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COATES: Now, you probably know the case, in Central Park Five, are really, as they ought to be called, "The Exonerated 5." But you may not know there was actually a sixth teen, who was convicted in that case as well.

Steven Lopez was his name, and he was only 16-years-old, when he told, and took a plea deal, in the 1989 beating and sexual assault, of a female jogger, in New York. He served nearly four years in prison, as a result of that plea agreement.

While his other five co-defendants were exonerated, back in 2002, thanks to DNA evidence, Lopez would not be exonerated, until yesterday. He is now 48-years-old.

My next guest is Raymond Santana. He is one of the Exonerated 5.

Raymond, it's good to see you again. And thank you, for joining me, here, tonight.

You have been very vocal, about what your experience has been. And it has really been so riveting, and helpful, to the entire world, to hear all of your stories. But many people didn't know about a sixth.

Why do you think it's taken so long, for Steven's case, to end up like yours did, exonerated?

RAYMOND SANTANA, MEMBER OF "EXONERATED 5," EXONERATED IN 2002 OF CHARGES IN CENTRAL PARK JOGGER CASE: Well, first off, thank you for having me. Such an honor, to be here, tonight.

I think, with the case of Steven Lopez, I mean, you know, he was charged, and he was set to go to trial, like the rest of us.

And, I think, because he wound up taking the plea agreement, for a robbery case, and he wound up serving four years in prison, I think that, because of that issue right there, of him not going to trial, that he kind of got lost, in the sauce, when it came to the story of the Central Park Jogger. He became, the last defendant that nobody really knows about.

And then also, when we get to 2002, and we're exonerated, and we filed a civil suit, against the city? Steven Lopez is in a place that, like he's trying to get his life together, and he's trying to put it together. He's doing OK.

And I think that for him, it was better, if he just faded to the black, because he was trying to start a family, he was trying to move on with his life. And we were just so thick in the middle of things.

We had a 11-year battle with the city, in this civil suit. And, I think, for him, it just was too much. And so, he didn't want to participate, in the beginning. He was just trying to put the pieces together, and he was trying to move on with his life. And I think that's the reason why people didn't really know about Steven Lopez.

COATES: I mean, just looking, there's images on the screen, right now, Raymond, where we're seeing his eyes.


COATES: We're watching what is - how he's reacting, so emotional in that courtroom. And what strikes me, particularly, is as you talk about wanting to move on, and wanting to sort of move beyond it, you think about that plea offer, you think about the plea agreement.


COATES: You think about the choices that a young child, and I'm going to call a teenager, a child, what they are grappling with, in those moments, thinking about this sort of cost-benefit analysis, when their freedom is on the line.


COATES: And you know full well, about the way, in which one can put their thumb, on the scale, and change the course of one's life.


COATES: When you look at his story that really is reflective of that as well.

SANTANA: Yes. Well, definitely. I mean, here it is. He's a 15-year-old kid, at the time. He's put in newspaper as a so-called ringleader.

And so, he sees two trials, when we - in both trials, we are convicted. And he's the third trial that's up next. And so, he's afraid. And so, they offer him a plea agreement, and he takes it. I mean, it's understandable.

Because we know that that's an issue within our political - within our criminal justice system now that the plea agreement, where you can sit up, and you can lay up, in a prison, or a detention center, for years, before your case is finally heard, and you really get your day in court.


And so, for him, it was a process of where they're dragging them. And when they offer you a plea agreement, he looks at it, like a lifeline, and he says, "If I go to trial, and I lose, I'm getting five years to 10 years. But this plea agreement, for a robbery case, gives me 1.5 years to 4.5 years. And so, he chose the lesser of the two evils, I mean.

But his name is in those 400 articles, within the first two weeks of this case, dissecting the lives of 15-year-old and 14-year-old kids. And Korey, who was 16-years-old, at the time, his name is put in there, with "Wolf Pack, Wilding, Urban Terrorist." So, he had to deal with this ordeal, just the same way as we had to.

COATES: It's - I'm so--

SANTANA: And so, definitely.

COATES: I'm really glad that you expressed and talked about the way in which, and what order of trials he was in, because you really understand the fear that was culminating and building up.


COATES: And you know what, Raymond? You and I have talked about this, in the past, as well, and you - it's stuck with me. There, maybe the Exonerated 5, now Exonerated 6.


COATES: But you are illustrative of thousands of people, if not more--

SANTANA: Thanks.

COATES: --who found themselves, in similar circumstances. Thank you for sharing your story, as always.

We'll be right back.

SANTANA: Thank you.


COATES: Well that's it for us tonight.

"DON LEMON TONIGHT" starts right now.

Hey, Don Lemon?

DON LEMON, CNN HOST, DON LEMON TONIGHT: Hey, how are you? Don Lemon!

COATES: I'm good. I got - I got my shoulder pads working today. I'm good.

LEMON: You do. I feel like it's Dynasty, like it's again are you - like it was Blake Carrington coming over, with Krystle, or Joan Collins--

COATES: They wish they had.