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Supreme Court Ends 50 Years Of Federal Abortion Rights; Congress Passes First Major Federal Gun Safety Bill In Decades; 1/6 Witnesses Say, Trump Tried To Misuse Justice Department To Stay In Power; Protests Across U.S. As Supreme Court Overturns Roe v. Wade. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired June 24, 2022 - 18:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: That's at 9:00 A.M. and noon Eastern on Sunday.

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Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer. He's right next door in a place I like to call THE SITUATION ROOM. I'll see you tomorrow night.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, demonstrations at the U.S. Supreme Court where 50 years of federal abortion rights for women have been struck down. We're getting new reaction to the ruling overturning Roe versus Wade looking at the consequences for the nation and legal, political and health battles ahead.

Also tonight, the House gives final approval to the first federal gun safety bill in decades. As President Biden prepares to sign it into law, will it make a difference in the epidemic of gun violence here in the United States? I'll ask the New York City mayor, Eric Adams.

We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf f Blitzer. You're THE SITUATION ROOM.

We begin with the U.S. Supreme Court decision undoing a half century old precedent and ending a woman's guaranteed federal right to an abortion.

CNN Justice Correspondent Jessica Schneider has more on the ruling and ramifications.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hell, no, we don't need Roe.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice over) : Roe v. Wade no longer the law of the land. With the Supreme Court overturning nearly 50 years of precedent, the court eliminating the constitutional right to an abortion and leaving all decisions concerning abortion rights to individual states.

The final 5-4 majority opinion strikingly similar to the draft from Justice Samuel Alito that was leaked last month. Roe was egregiously wrong from the start, Alito writes. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak and the decision has had damaging consequences.

In a dissenting opinion, the court's liberal justices lament the current state of the conservative court saying, with sorrow for this court but more for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection, we dissent.

The monument l move made possible by a conservative supermajority, including three of Donald Trump's nominees. Chief Justice John Roberts diverging somewhat from the majority, voting to uphold Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban but stopping short of overturning Roe v. Wad. The decision is a turn for two of the justices who voted to overturn Roe after they seemed to indicate at their confirmation hearings they wouldn't.

BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: It's an important precedent of the court.

NEIL GORSUCH, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: That's the law of the land. I accept the law of the land, Senator, yes.

SCHNEIDER: Democrats, including President Biden, are outraged.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: This is not over.

SCHNEIDER: And urging voters to back candidates who back abortion rights in the midterm elections.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): How about those justices coming before the senators and saying that they respected the precedent of the court. This cruel ruling is outrageous and heart-wrenching, but make no mistake, it's all on the ballot in November.

SCHNEIDER: Protests are popping up around the country as individual states are set to move rapidly. 26 states are likely to ban abortion completely, including 13 states that have trigger laws on the books, which set abortion bans into motion as soon as Roe is overturned. Arkansas' governor tweeting, we are able now to protect life, and South Dakota's governor responding, as of today, all abortions are illegal in South Dakota.

The Supreme Court's decision also could put others precedents at risk, like the right to same-sex marriage and access to contraception. Justice Clarence Thomas explicitly calling for the court to reconsider those other rulings, writing, we have a duty to correct the error established in those precedents. While Alito promised, nothing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion. But the liberal Justices warning, no one should be confident that this majority is done with its work.


SCHNEIDER (on camera): An already six states have banned abortion. Seven more states are poised to ban abortion in the next 30 days, that's pending action from either the courts or state officials. But on the flipside, there are 16 states plus D.C. that have enacted laws that will protect abortion rights and those states are expecting an influx of patients crossing state lines to seek abortion services. Wolf?

BLITZER: Jessica Schneider reporting from the Supreme Court, thank you very much.

And also tonight, President Biden is warning that the Supreme Court's decision is putting the health and the lives of women here in the United States at risk.

Let's bring in our Chief White House Correspondent, Kaitlan Collins. Kaitlin, the White House have been bracing for this Supreme Court decision.


Tell our viewers what else you are learning, what other reaction you're getting.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. The White House had really been steeling themselves for this decision to come down ever since that draft opinion leaked several weeks ago, so much so that President Biden really already had a speech written when the ruling came down today. He just reviewed it after being briefed by his chief of staff on the final ruling, made a few changes to his speech and then came out and declared at this sad, solemn day for America where you're right, Wolf, he said the health and lives of women are now at risk.

And he talked about the fact that justices for decades have upheld this ruling, justices who he noted had been appointed by Republicans and Democrats. But he said that changed, Wolf. And he said something today that he doesn't often do, which is invoking the name of his predecessor.


BIDEN: It's a sad day for the court and for the country. Now with Roe gone, let's be very clear, the health and life of women in this nation are now at risk with three justices named by one president, Donald Trump, where the court of today's decision to upend the scales of justice and eliminate a fundamental right for women in this country.


COLLINS: Of course, Wolf, now the question for the White House is what they're going to do in response to this. The president today talked about some measures, talking about the Justice Department defending the rights of women who want to travel out of state if they can't get an abortion in their home state to go to another state. He talked about eliminating barriers to access to abortion medication that you can get in the mail.

But, really, there is only so much the president can do. There is no executive action that he can sign that can restore this constitutional right that was taken away with this ruling from the Supreme Court today, which is why you saw President Biden urging Americans who believe in the right to have an abortion, the right to choose, to go and vote come November in the midterm elections, telling them to elect more pro-choice lawmakers and saying that they should make no mistake he does believe Roe versus Wade is on the ballot this November, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. We're showing our viewers pictures of demonstrations in many cities all across the country right now. Kaitlan Collins at the White House, thank you very much.

Let's bring in our team of legal analysts, Jeffrey Toobin, Laura Coates and Jennifer Rodgers. Laura, what does today's ruling mean for millions of American women?

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It means that we woke up with certain rights and we're going to go to bed with less rights than our grandmothers had, our mothers had, in some instances including myself, my great grandmother had.

And this is something essentially the Supreme Court is saying, actually, you never should have had that right in the first place. It was so egregiously wrongly decided that those rights never should have existed in the first instance.

The problem, of course, is that while many people might look at it right now and say these are the rights impacting women, there are a lot of things now on the horizon that under that same judicial philosophy that if it wasn't part of the nation's long-rooted history, that it should never have existed, well, that's going to include things like same-sex marriage and same-sex sexual relations. It include things like contraception and marriage and could extend beyond the things such as interracial marriage as well.

This is, in fact, a solemn day because it seemed as though the rights that we thought we had never existed at all, according to the majority of the Supreme Court.

BLITZER: You make an important point. Jennifer, you point out that in the rare instances that when the Supreme Court has actually reversed itself, it's typically been done to grant more rights, not take them away. So, how unprecedented is this decision today?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's completely unprecedented. It's really a new low for the court, Wolf, because that's exactly right, never before has the court in one case, Roe, recognized a constitutional right that it identifies in the case and then later reversing that saying, sorry, we gave you this right, you held it for 49 years and now it's gone. The Supreme Court has made mistakes before. They have made grievous mistakes before, but they have never done this. It really is a historic low for the court.

BLITZER: That's absolutely right. Jeffrey, this opinion states that I'm quoting now, Roe was egregiously wrong from the start, that's a quote from the opinion, were you surprised to see this so closely echoed, the leaked draft opinion we all saw weeks away from Justice Alito?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, not really because this is what Justice Alito has felt for many years. It's what Justice Thomas felt for many years. And Donald Trump, when he ran for president, he said, I am going to appoint justices to the court who will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. Alito, Thomas, plus three Trump justices, that gets you to five and that's a majority.

And this has been a goal of the conservative movement for many years. This is the reason why conservatives stood by Donald Trump despite all the scandals, despite his lush (ph) personal life.


They got what they wanted out of the Trump presidency today.

BLITZER: Yes, they certainly did. You know, Laura, does this ruling open the floodgates potentially for lawsuits against abortion providers or indeed anyone who helps a woman get an abortion?

COATES: It does. And also presents interstate conflicts now in terms of whether somebody in one state is helping a person in another state, what are the implications there. It really is going to be just legal chaos, Wolf, and really a prosecutor's nightmare in a sense of how is one to enforce this either in civil lawsuits, of course, or even in the criminal context? It's one thing to outlaw abortion, but how will you criminalize abortion, because that's the next leap here.

How do you solve your cases? How do you prove your cases? How do you demonstrate if the womb itself is going to be the so-called crime scene? How do you exactly prove that an illegal abortion has occurred or that it's been aided in some meaningful way by somebody without trampling on other privacy interests, including doctor/patient confidentiality and other things as well? It is surveillance? Are fertility app tracking devices now going to be subpoenaed? I mean, from an enforcement standpoint, it really is unprecedented.

TOOBIN: And there is already an arms race amongst states to have the strictest anti abortion laws, the ones that reach the most extensively across state lines to try to criminalize efforts to help women have abortions. So, one of the issues to keep an eye on here is, you know, if someone in a state where abortion is legal helps someone get an abortion, is that person in New York, say, a legalized abortion state, is that person going to be prosecuted in Oklahoma or Missouri, where they -- where abortion and helping getting an abortion is illegal? This legal land -- this is going to be a legal fight that goes on and on for probably the rest of all of our lifetime.

BLITZER: And, Jeffrey, I want to follow up with you because you're an expert on the Supreme Court. Justice Clarence Thomas in his is concurring opinion wrote this, and I'm quoting him now. In future cases, we should reconsider this court's substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell. What does that mean as far as you're concerned?

TOOBIN: Well, what it means is Justice Alito's opinion says in effect, we are only going to recognize constitutional rights that are actually mentioned in the Constitution. The Constitution does not use the word abortion. Abortion is not protected. Those three cases involve constitutional rights that the court has recognized that are not in the Constitution.

Griswold was the right of married people to buy contraception. Obergefell was the right to same-sex marriage. Lawrence v. Texas was same-sex sexual relations. None of that is mentioned in the Constitution and Justice Thomas wants to see all those protections go away.

That is entirely consistent with today's decision and it's next on the conservative agenda in the Supreme Court.

BLITZER: Yes. And, Jennifer, I want you and our viewers to watch how a Trump-dominated Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh previously spoke about Roe versus Wade during their confirmation hearings. Listen to this.


GORSUCH: That's the law of the land. I accept the law of the land, Senator, yes.

KAVANUAGH: As a judge, it is an important precedent by the Supreme Court. By it, I mean, Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood versus Casey, and reaffirmed many times.


BLITZER: So, did they actually lie during those confirmation hearings?

RODGERS: Well, if you mean did they mislead the senators, were they disingenuous, then, yes. If you mean, did they lie, like are they prosecutable for perjury, the answer has to be no because they didn't state any facts that you could provably say were false at the time.

But there's no question, I mean, particularly Gorsuch with that tone in his voice, how dare you accuse me of something. I mean, they've been wanting to do this for a long time. This is not a surprise. We've seen it coming. And the fact that they didn't admit it in their confirmation hearings is, frankly, par for the course these days but is adding to the frustration of people today.

TOOBIN: And Susan Collins, who was the swing vote in the Kavanaugh confirmation, she said, her entire vote was based on the fact that she believed this fairy tale that Brett Kavanaugh was telling her. But that got Brett Kavanaugh in the Supreme Court.

BLITZER: Yes, that's what happened today. All right, Jennifer Rodgers, Jeffrey Toobin, Laura Coates, guys, thank you very, very much. Just ahead, we'll have much more on the U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade and the protests against it taking place across the country tonight.

Plus, Congress passes the first major federal gun safety bill in decades. We're going to talk about it with the New York City mayor, Eric Adams. He is standing by to join us live. We'll be right back.



BLITZER: We're following protests across the country against the U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe versus Wade.

Also tonight, the first federal gun safety bill passed by Congress in decades is awaiting President Biden's signature. It's a very significant bipartisan breakthrough coming on the heels of mass shootings that increase pressure on lawmakers to take action.

CNN Congressional Correspondent Jessica Dean is joining us from Capitol Hill right now. Jessica, Democrats are celebrating the bill's passage even though it falls far short of what most of them actually wanted.

JESSICA DEAN, CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. There is a lot of things in this bill Democrats have wanted for years that didn't make it in, an assault weapons ban among them, raising the minimum age to purchase guns in this country.


But what they have tried to focus on is what they did get. And one of the lead negotiators, Chris Murphy, the senator from Connecticut, has said time and time again, he's told us, I don't want perfect to be the enemy of the good and I'm not going to support something that isn't meaty, isn't going to actually save lives. So, that was really on the minds of him and Kyrsten Sinema as they negotiated with their Republican colleagues, John Cornyn and Thom Tillis, to get this bipartisan legislation.

And we should note what it does do. It does close the so-called boyfriend loophole. That means that anyone convicted of domestic violence will no longer be able to get their hands on a gun. And that is something that has vexed lawmakers for years up here. They haven't been able to find a way through on that.

It is also going to put forth significant funding for mental health, for school safety, for community safety. It's going to put a federal ban on the purchase of straw guns and gun trafficking. So, it's going to do a number of things, including incentive states for crisis intervention programs, something like a red flag law, Wolf. So, there is a lot here.

We should also note quickly before I go. 14 House GOP members stepping forward to join their Democratic colleagues going against leadership who didn't just come out against this but were actively whipping against the bill but, again, 14 House GOP members coming forward to support this legislation, which now heads to President Biden's desk.

BLITZER: And he's expected to sign it very, very soon. All right, Jessica Dean, thank you very, very much.

Let's discuss what is going on with the New York City mayor, Eric Adams. He's joining us live. Mayor, thank you so much for joining us. As you know, we have a lot to discuss, but let's start with today's vote. This marks, as I noted, the first time in decades that Congress has been able to act on gun safety here in the United States. How far do you think this will go in helping curbing gun violence in New York City?

MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D-NEW YORK CITY, NY): Well, it's clear, Wolf, that I state over and over again that there are many rivers that feed the sea of violence and particularly gun violence. We dammed one of those rive today with this legislation but there are more to go on all different levels, on state, federal and city levels. But let's continue to evolve to have the city and country free of this type of violence.

BLITZER: This, of course, comes after yesterday's U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down a century old New York State law massively now expanding gun rights in New York. Does this put New Yorkers, from your prospective, Mayor, in greater danger?

ADAMS: Without a doubt. And it's two days in a row, two days in a row that we saw our chief justice -- Supreme Court really go after our safety, two days in a row, we witnessed them go against the American people, and two days in a row, we saw them carry out politics over the true Roe that the Supreme Court can take.

This is unimaginable when you think about how this impacts New York City. We are stating that one of the most difficult places to keep guns out of the hands of people who are dangerous, we are now stating that we're going to make it more difficult for police officers.

BLITZER: And you're a former police officer yourself. I know you called today's U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe versus Wade a direct attack on women but you also had a message that anyone seeking abortions around the country, in your words, is welcome to come to New York City. Do you see New York City as a safe haven potentially for abortion services?

ADAMS: Yes, we do. And we made it clear when we first heard that this ruling was leaked, we started putting things in place that is going to protect women who are seeking a safe haven, a city that is going to allow them to have control over their bodies. We're going to make sure that there is counseling. We're going to utilize our website to give free information and we're going to make sure that this is a place where our health care system are going to support those who want to make these important decisions.

BLITZER: You shared something today very, very personal that, as a teenager, your then-girlfriend decided to get an abortion. Why did you decide, Mayor, to open up about this today?

ADAMS: Because this is a real moment. As many of my leaders and my administration, five of my deputy mayors are women, and some of them shared some very personal moments. And people need to know that every time an individual makes a decision or woman makes a decision to terminate a pregnancy, there is a story behind it. And my life would have been different and the child that was born would have been born would have been different. And Linda made an important decision that I believe she had the right to do because it was her body and she made that decision based on where I was in my life.

BLITZER: The New York City mayor, Eric Adams, thank you so much for joining us.


We'll continue this conversation, to be sure. We see demonstrations in your city, in New York City right now in the aftermath of this U.S. Supreme Court decision. I appreciate it very much.

ADAMS: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Coming up, we're tracking these demonstrations around the country. Look at the pictures we're showing you now as Americans react to the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. We'll also get reaction to the ruling from the chair of the House Progressive Caucus, Representative Pramila Jayapal. She's been very personal on this issue as well.


BLITZER: All right. These are live pictures coming from cities all across the United States.


Protesters are gathering to vent their views on today's historic and truly monumental ruling, striking down Roe versus Wade. The decision wipes out the federally guaranteed right to an abortion that women have had here in the United States for half a century.

Let's discuss this issue and more with the chair of the House Progressive Caucus, Democratic Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington State. Representative, thank you so much for joining us. I know this is very personal for you as well.

What does today's ruling by the Supreme Court mean for American women?

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): Wolf, this is a catastrophic decision that strips away freedom, liberty and status of women across this country in this decision by saying that a woman is going to be forced to have a pregnancy, forced to carry a fetus to term, forced to deal with the consequences of that with no autonomous freedom to make her own choice, to decide when, whether and with whom she's going to have a child. It is a remarkable insult, an assault on women's rights. But it's not only that, Wolf, it's also all of the other things that are contained within this decision. Because the dissenting opinion makes it very clear that reproductive freedom is tied to all the other autonomies that a woman enjoys. So, whether or not we have a career and how we want to have a career, how we're going to be back in the workplace, all of those things are also contained here added to, of course, the fact that Justice Thomas' conquering opinion very much says clearly that this is not the end. If the arguments that are made in the majority's opinion that, essentially, none of these are protected unless they were protected in the Constitution at the beginning or even ratified in the 14th Amendment, which, by the way, ratified by men, not by people, ratified by men, then same-sex marriage, contraception and interracial marriage all also at stake here.

BLITZER: Yes, lots at stake right now. You're absolutely right.

You have opened up very publicly and very personal about the very difficult decision you made to have an abortion when that pregnancy was deemed high risk to your health. Based on what you went through, Congresswoman, what are the implications now that millions others will no longer have that choice that you have?

JAYAPAL: Well, Wolf, yes, I'm one of the one in four women across this country who has an abortion. And I had a child at the time who was extremely ill and I wrote about the, for me, heart-wrenching decision that I had to make about whether I was capable of having another child, whether my live would be protected, whether the child's life would be protected, all of the things that went into that went into that.

And I think as you look at what is going to happen now because there are 13 states that have these trigger laws that are going to into effect immediately or within the next 30 days, another seven states, this is tens of millions of women across this country who are now not going to be able to get an abortion because it will be banned in their states. And if they're poor women living with very few means, they are not going to have the money to be able to go to travel to another state, like my state of Washington where are still protecting the right to an abortion.

And if you look specifically at maternal mortality, and the court points this out in the dissenting opinion, 33 percent of black women would suffer severe maternal mortality consequences by a ban to abortion, 13 percent of white women, 33 percent of black women.

So, I think this is a really, really important thing to look at, not just that everyone's freedoms are being stripped away but that the freedoms of black women, brown women, indigenous women, poor women across this country particularly infringed upon. And it's not that abortion is going to go away,

Wolf. Let me tell you. Abortion is not going to go away. What's going to happen is it's not going to be legal anymore. And that means more deaths and more illegal abortions and, you know, more pregnancies brought to term when people don't have the resources to do that. BLITZER: The article you wrote in The New York Times, the story of my abortion, very, very moving. I recommend our viewers that they read it, very important.

Representative Pramila Jayapal, thank you so much for joining us.

JAYAPAL: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Just ahead, former President Trump's dangerous relationship with the U.S. Justice Department and how he tried to use it to keep his grip on power.


Stand by.


BLITZER: Protests are happening all across the United States tonight after the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe versus Wade. You're looking at live pictures coming in. We're following that story.

Also tonight, a source is now telling CNN that Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelly Ward and her husband have been subpoenaed. It's part of the federal investigation into the effort to appoint fake electors to try to keep former President Trump in office following his election loss to Joe Biden.

CNN's Brian Todd is here with a closer look at how Trump himself tried to misuse the U.S. Justice Department to hold on illegally to power. Brian, what are you learning?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this week, there was jarring detail during hearings conducted by the House January 6th committee detail about Donald Trump's relentless pressure on the Justice Department from early in his term to those final days.



TODD (voice over): The dangerous moves of a desperate, defeated president trying to get the Department of Justice to do his bidding. This week's hearings of the House select committee on January 6th focused partly on Donald Trump's efforts after the 2020 election and before the January 6th attack on the Capitol to change the election results using that department as his lever.

RICHARD DONOGHUE, FORMER ACTING DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: The president's and treaties became more urgent, he became more adamant that we weren't doing our job. We need to step up and do our job.

TODD: Part of a pattern former Trump administration officials and outside analysts say Donald Trump exhibited almost from the moment he stepped into the Oval Office. PROF. JULIAN ZELIZER, HISTORIAN, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: The behavior is very dangerous. The former president saw the Department of Justice as an institution that should help his presidency and the attorney general is someone who worked for him rather than who protected the law.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Welcome to the White House.

TODD: Early on, Trump relentlessly pressured his first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, to oversee the Russia investigation. When Sessions refused and recused himself, Trump publicly insulted him repeatedly, like in an interview with Fox News.

TRUMP: I put an attorney general that never took control of the Justice Department.

TODD: Trump eventually fired Sessions.

TRUMP: There is -- he's become more famous than me.

TODD: Soon after taking office, Trump pressured then-FBI Director James Comey to drop an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Comey later claimed Trump had made a personal demand of him.

JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: I got the sense my job would be contingent upon how he felt I conducted myself and whether I demonstrated loyalty.

TODD: Trump denied asking for Comey's loyalty but ended up firing Comey, later saying he was frustrated over the ongoing Russia probe. Later, after then-Attorney General Bill Barr, who had been a loyalist, finally said he saw no evidence of widespread election fraud in 2020, Trump called Barr, quote, stupid, a coward, a swamp creature.

According to the Mueller report, Trump once asked why the Department of Justice didn't fight for him the way he believed then-Attorney General Robert Kennedy fought for his brother while John Kennedy was president. Experts say that's not how the relationship between a president and an attorney general should be.

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: There is a longstanding practice in government that the president and the attorney general should not ever be communicating about cases. President Trump violated that pretty repeatedly throughout his administration.


TODD: The analyst we spoke to are worried about the imprint Trump's behavior will leave on future presidents. They say that because Trump really hasn't been held accountable for of his behavior with the Justice Department, the future presidents may think they can get away with similar tactics. Wolf?

BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting from our Capitol Hill, thank you very much.

Let's dig deeper into all of this. Joining us, CNN Senior Law Enforcement Analyst, the former FBI deputy director, Andrew McCabe. Andrew, thanks for joining us.

Does all that line up with your firsthand experience as someone who actually served in the FBI within the Justice Department under Trump?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Absolutely, it does. I was marveling listening to Brian's piece about how well he's captured the fact that this administration subjected the Department of Justice and the FBI to relentless pressure from the very earliest days of the administration.

And although our witnesses in the hearing yesterday told a compelling story about how they stood up to those final issuance of pressure by the White House around the January 6th issue, let's not forget that the department had a very checkered past over those past four years in terms of responding to that pressure.

You know, when the White House demanded that Attorney General Sessions essentially use the Justice Department to cook up justification for the Muslim travel ban, Jeff Sessions did exactly that. I remember, Wolf, sitting in meetings with the attorney general, Attorney General Sessions, on several occasions where we would be chastised and reminded that he thought our job was to do the president's agenda, is to push the president's agenda. We had a very different understanding of what our job was. Of course, as FBI agents, pushing the president's agenda is not part of that.

So I just -- I think although yesterday's testimony was compelling and it's ultimately a story of individuals who stood up to that withering pressure at a very important time, the entire history of the Justice Department over the four years of the Trump administration is much more checkered.

BLITZER: As you correctly point out, Andrew, Trump treated the Justice Department, and you worked there, like his personal legal team. Does it actually endanger American democracy for that kind of behavior to go unpunished?


MCCABE: It absolutely does. And, look, we know that it does because we've seen so many examples of it over those four years in the Trump administration.

So if we now refuse to hold that administration, the people in it who helped the president execute those strategies, people like Jeff Clark, like John Eastman, like Rudy Giuliani and ultimately, the former president himself, if they walk away from this abuse of this institution of America, the Department of Justice without any sort of accountability, what sort of message does that send to the next person that holds that office who might have the same sort of what warped understanding about the true purpose of the DOJ? BLITZER: As you know, as you know, Andrew, federal agents have now

raided the home of Jeffrey Clark, a former high level Justice Department official who was working to try to advance Trump's election lies. They've issued subpoenas related to the fake elector scheme that was going on.

What does that tell you?

MCCABE: It tells you, Wolf, that this is a very dynamic, ongoing and well-developed criminal case. You don't start your case by going to a federal judge and making the argument you have probable cause to believe that there is evidence of a crime in the residence of a former high level DOJ official, in this case Jeff Clark.

So there are a lot of work and investigation that got the FBI to that point, that they were able to make that argument successfully to a federal judge and would say, Wolf, one of the things I'm really looking for as this story continues to develop is more about the role of an individual named Ken Klukowski, who was sent from the White House to work in the Department of Justice for Jeffrey Clark on December 15th presumably for the purpose of advancing his plot.

BLITZER: Yeah, I'm interested to know more about that, as well. Thanks very much, Andrew McCabe for joining us.

Coming up, we're following protests right now across the United States against the Supreme Court's ruling overturning Roe versus Wade.

Stand by.



BLITZER: We're looking at live pictures of large crowds demonstrating in cities all across the United States at this hour protesting the U.S. Supreme Court ruling today that ended 50 years of a federal right for women and girls here in the United States to have an abortion.

CNN's Nick Valencia is following developments for us in Atlanta right now.

Nick, what are you seeing and what you're hearing there?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Wolf, a major turnout here on the streets of Atlanta as you can see behind me, several hundred people turned out. Actually two demonstrations merged into one, in the last several minutes blocked a road here in front of Georgia state capital.

I'm going to get out of the way so you can see the size of the crowd here which as I mentioned, one of the demonstrations started in front of CNN Center, and they marched several mile over there to the state capitol.

And while abortion is still legal for now in the state of Georgia, it is not one of those trigger law states, are fears of the legal ramifications today's ruling could have on a 2019 bill that was passed here by Republican Governor Brian Kemp. That's so-called heartbeat bill which bans abortions after a heartbeat can be detected at six weeks has been blocked by lower courts. But today's decision by the Supreme Court will, of course, no doubt have legal ramifications on that bill.

That's what the fear is here among this group. They fear that a right to abortion will be taken away from women in this state so they showed up here in mass, in numbers to protest today's ruling -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Nick Valencia in Atlanta for us. Nick, thanks very much, from Atlanta.

Let's head over to Austin, Texas, right now, another of the many cities seeing this protest unfold tonight.

CNN's Shimon Prokupecz is on the scene for us.

Shimon, what's going on there?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, several hundred people now gathered here in downtown Austin outside of the federal courthouse and let me show you, several hundred people gathered here, Wolf, and you can see all the way through this crowd, they are listening to speakers.

We've heard from women talk about their situations, various situations that they've been in. One woman talked about being raped by her husband and being forced to carry her children. We've heard other stories.

And, really, Wolf, what you're hearing here are stories of fear, stories of frustration, many of the women really just scared for their future. We've heard from young kids, heard from older folks here, people who have fought for years and years for their right for abortion rights.

The other thing, one of the things we keep hearing from people here, Wolf, is who this is going to affect the most here in Texas, certainly, and it's women who can't travel out of the state. Women who can't afford to travel out of the state, that is the biggest concern.

Of course, Texas, as of today, basically abortion is illegal here in Texas. You know, Texas has been at the forefront of abortion rights. They've been fighting many of the laws and the different rules and the things that the governor has done and state legislatures have done.

So, they say they're going to continue to fight. Some even suggesting voting out legislatures here. Of course, the governor, Republican governor, but the one overall theme here, Wolf, we're seeing across the country and certainly here is fear and anger, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, we'll stay in close touch with you. Shimon Prokupecz in Austin, Texas, for us. Thank you very much.

We're going to have more news just ahead.



BLITZER: Finally tonight, this is a day of remembrance in Surfside, Florida, exactly one year after the deadly condominium collapse there. The First Lady Jill Biden spoke at a memorial honoring the 98 men, women and children killed when a 12-story oceanfront building crumbled in the middle of the night, into a giant pile of rubble.

Just yesterday, a Florida judge approved a billion dollar settlement for condo owners and families.

It's all very personal me. I witnessed their pain and suffering when I reported from the scene of this horrible and preventable disaster. We are certainly thinking of the victims tonight, and as we say, may their memories be a blessing.

Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.