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State of the Union

Interview With Fmr. Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA); Interview With Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX); Interview With Rep. Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez (D-NY); Interview With U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired April 09, 2023 - 09:00   ET




DANA BASH, CNN HOST (voice-over): The right to choose two federal judges split, throwing the future of a key abortion medication into question.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): The Biden administration should ignore this ruling.

BASH: How will the FDA respond? Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez next.

And political retribution. Tennessee Republicans expel two Democrats over their gun reform protests during sessions.

STATE REP. JUSTIN JONES (D-TN): They think that the issue is over. We will see you on Monday.

BASH: Another flash point in the guns debate. Uvalde Congressman Tony Gonzales will join me.

Plus: ultra MAGA. A defiant former president vows to fight charges against him, as other ongoing probes accelerate. How are Republican voters responding?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do not go to the gutter. Avoid it. It turns off the voters.


BASH: Hello. I'm Dana Bash in Washington, where the state of our union is wondering what doesn't become politicized these days.

We just closed out an especially bitter and divisive week in American politics. On Tuesday, former President Donald Trump was indicted in New York and is vowing vengeance, as it appears possible the case could go to trial months before the presidential election.

On Thursday, two Tennessee state lawmakers were expelled by Republicans for protesting in favor of gun restrictions following a mass shooting in a Nashville elementary school. And, on Friday, two federal judges split over the future of the medication abortion drug mifepristone. A judge in Texas gave the Biden administration seven days to appeal his decision, which blocked the FDA's approval of the widely used abortion drug, throwing many women and medical providers into a state of uncertainty.

Here with me now is the secretary of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra.

Thank you so much for coming in this morning.

So, this Texas ruling banning mifepristone goes into effect on Friday, unless a stay is issued. The question that women across America have right now is, will they have access to abortion medication after this week?

XAVIER BECERRA, U.S. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: Well, they certainly have access today, and we intend to do everything to make sure it's available to them not just in a week, but moving forward, period, because mifepristone is one of the safest and most effective medicines that we have seen over the last 20 years to help women with their health care, especially abortion care.

So it is incumbent upon us as a country to make sure women have safe and effective medication available to them.

BASH: How are you going to do that?

BECERRA: Well, we have already filed an appeal of this court's ruling. One judge in one court in one state turned upside down the FDA's approval process for safe and effective medications.

We have to go to court and seek an appeal.

BASH: What happens if the ban is upheld? Will this drug disappear from the market overnight?

BECERRA: So, that's -- Dana, that's big speculation.

First and foremost, when you turn upside down the entire FDA approval process, you're not talking about just mifepristone. You're talking about every kind of drug. You're talking about our vaccines. You're talking about insulin. You're talking about the new Alzheimer's drugs that may come on.

If a judge decides to substitute his preference, his personal opinion for that of scientists and medical professionals, what drug isn't subject to some kind of legal challenge? So we have to go to court.

And, for America's sake and for women's sake, we have to prevail in this.

BASH: My next guest, Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez, thinks that the FDA should just ignore the Texas judge's ruling. And you know she's not alone. I'm sure you have seen some legal experts argued the FDA does have

broad discretion to simply choose not to enforce a ban and allow the drug to remain on the market. So, yes or no, as the HHS secretary, do you want the FDA to enforce the Texas ruling if it is upheld in the short term?

BECERRA: Yes or no, we want the courts to overturn this reckless decision. Yes or no, we want yes that women continue to have access to a drug that's proven itself safe.

Millions of women have used this drug around the world, more than 60 countries.


BASH: But what if they don't act in the interim before you get to that point?

BECERRA: I got to believe that, Dana, an appeals court, the Supreme Court, whatever court has to understand that this ruling by this one judge overturns not just access to mifepristone, but possibly any number of drugs.


BASH: What if they don't?

BECERRA: That's speculation that I think is not worth engaging in.

BASH: But are you taking it off the table that you will recommend the FDA ignore a ban?

BECERRA: Everything is on the table. The president said that way back when the Dobbs decision came out. Every option is on the table.

BASH: So I want to ask about the Supreme Court, because you obviously see this. You hope that you win an appeal. It will likely go to the Supreme Court. Do you agree with that?

BECERRA: Good chance.

BASH: So how worried are you that this court, conservative majority in the United States Supreme Court, will agree with the Texas judge?

BECERRA: If the role of judges of justices is to apply the law to the facts and the evidence, the facts and the scientific evidence are that mifepristone is not just safe, but it's effective and it was properly approved.

And so I don't care who the nine justices are on the Supreme Court or any court of appeal. They should be able to discern the difference between inserting their personal judgment and using the facts and evidence to make a legal ruling.

BASH: Do you feel confident that could happen with this court? BECERRA: I do. But I'm not on the courts. And, certainly, I'm not on

that court where that Texas judge decided to turn upside down the whole process that FDA has used for years for many drugs.

BASH: We are now in a period of uncertainty, like this week. What's your message to women and to medical providers who want to get this drug and use this drug?

BECERRA: This is not America. What you saw by that one judge in that one court, in that one state, that's not America.

America goes by the evidence. America does what's fair. America does what is transparent and we can show that what we do is for the right reasons. That's not America.

BASH: Secretary of HHS Xavier Becerra, thank you so much for coming in, especially on Easter.

BECERRA: Thank you.

BASH: Happy Easter.

BECERRA: Happy Easter.

BASH: Now let's speak with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

Thank you for joining us on this holiday Sunday.

The abortion pill ruling doesn't take effect for seven days. You just heard me discussing that with Xavier Becerra. The Biden administration is appealing it. Are you satisfied with what you just heard? And what would it mean for women if approval for this pill is revoked nationwide?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, while I commend the Biden administration for appealing the decision. And I believe that Secretary Becerra has been doing a phenomenal job in his role.

I do think that, when it comes to gaming out what the very real possibilities are in the coming days, weeks and months, this is not just about speculation, but this is about preparation. And the reality of our courts right now is very disturbing. This ruling is an extreme abuse of power.

It is an extraordinary example of judicial overreach. The grounds of the ruling are completely -- are just completely discredited and without grounds. And what we also learned this week is that a Supreme Court justice of this court has been receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of gifts and expenses and having lifestyle subsidies by a billionaire who has been funding the same types of judicial organizations that appointed this judge in a partisan ruling in the first place.

BASH: I'm going to get to that in a second. I just want to stick with abortion first. And the -- what you just heard me ask the secretary about was

something that you called on the Biden administration to do, which is just to simply ignore the court ruling.

That's a pretty stunning position, if you think about it in the abstract, about the notion of just ignoring a judge's position. So, my question is, when this case is resolved by the Supreme Court, should the administration follow that decision, if that decision ends up banning this abortion drug?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, I want to take a step back and dig into the grounds around ignoring this preliminary ruling as well.

There is an extraordinary amount of precedent for this. There is a term known as agency nonacquiescence, and this has been used in -- and for folks saying this is a first, that this is precedent-setting, it is not.

The Trump administration also did this very thing, but, also, it has happened before. The idea of consistency in governance until there is a higher court ruling is not an unprecedented thing to happen. In fact, when the Trump administration did it, it was arguably through a much -- a very grave issue when it came to DACA.


The Trump administration was ordered to fully reinstate DACA, the DACA program, and they, in a complete defiance, did not do that. They rely on -- the courts rely on the legitimacy of their rulings.

And when they make a mockery of our system, a mockery of our democracy, and a mockery of our law, as -- as what we just saw happen in this mifepristone ruling, then I believe that the executive branch and we know that the executive branch has an enforcement discretion, especially in light of a contradicting ruling coming out of Washington.


BASH: Should that apply if the Supreme Court upheld -- upholds the Texas judge's decision?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: I think one of the things that -- I think one of the things that we need to examine is the grounds of that ruling.

But I do not believe that the courts have the authority to have the authority over the FDA that they just asserted. And I do believe that it creates a crisis. Should the Supreme Court do that, it would essentially institute a national abortion ban, because you have an extraordinary amount of states who have implemented surgicals -- surgical bans or bans after very early time periods.

And then, if you pair that with a mifepristone ban, then we will essentially have a ban on abortion with -- there are certain work- around. I will admit there would be certain work-arounds. But we would have taken very significant step towards a national abortion ban. Once you ban medication abortion, which represents -- or start banning

medication abortion, which represents the overwhelming number of abortions in the United States, then we are in extremely dangerous territory. And I would urge the Supreme Court, in its lawlessness that they are exhibiting right now already, their extraordinary conflict of interest, I mean, my hope would be that we do not get to that point.

BASH: But...

OCASIO-CORTEZ: But once -- if we do, I do believe that we must start to -- start to push back on our system of checks and balances, which is designed to push back, should there be an example of judicial tyranny and judicial overreach.

BASH: Let's talk more about the Supreme Court and what you mentioned before, which is that Justice Clarence Thomas, you want him to be impeached after a new ProPublica report this week revealed that he accepted luxury vacations from a Republican billionaire donator -- donor without disclosing them.

Thomas is now defending himself. And here's what he's saying.

He's saying -- quote -- "Early in my tenure at the court, I sought guidance from my colleagues and others in the judiciary and was advised that this sort of personal hospitality from close personal friends who did not have business before the court was reportable -- was not reportable," rather.

What is your response?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: I think that his own statement contradicts -- contradicts many of the facts on the ground and also raises in other ways even more serious questions.

Later on in his statement, he stated that the reason and the rationale for this exemption was personal hospitality from an old friend. And he said himself in his statement a friend of 25 years. Justice Thomas has been on the court for 30 years. And so to say what he is admitting in his statement in an attempt to defend himself is that he began this relationship with a billionaire and receiving these sorts of gifts as -- after he was appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States.

I think that that, in and of itself, indicates a very, very serious problem. And then, on top of that, he is now implicating his colleagues. And I do believe that Chief Justice John Roberts must now come forward and state if he allows and is allowing this kind of very serious corruption to happen on this court.

I think, when it comes to Justice Thomas' statement, when he's talking about his colleagues, and when he's talking about who advised him to break the law, I think we need to know who those people are.

BASH: Should the Justice Department investigate?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: I mean, I believe what we are seeing right now is a breaking of the law, and we have to examine what institutions. I know that there are calls for -- I know that there are calls for Chief Justice to -- for Chief Justice John Roberts to initiate an investigation. I do not think that this court any longer has the legitimacy, especially after the Supreme Court leak last year, which never came to a conclusion, because the investigation itself that Chief John Roberts started back then, I believe is very discredited by naming a position that has an inherent conflict of interest, because it is employed by those justices, to pursue that investigation.


I believe that the -- and it is the House's responsibility to pursue that investigation in the form of impeachment.

BASH: Well, let me ask you.

You know full well that the House is now run by Republicans. How are you going to move what you're calling for, articles of impeachment, through a House that is run by Republicans?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: I think it's a -- it's a -- there is the question of the politics of what we are doing, and there's the question of the course and the accountability and the structures of what we are doing.

I admit it is very difficult to see a path in a Republican Party that refuses to hold itself accountable and, in fact, breaches the law itself. For all of their talk of a crime wave and Democrats -- Republicans talking about crime waves across the country, the crime wave is within the Republican Party.

It is within all of the -- what we are seeing. We have seen -- we are seeing breaking of the law by conservative members of the court. We are seeing a former president of the United States just indicted in recent days. I mean, we need to hold our systems accountable. And I do not believe that we should be refusing to do that for political reasons.

I believe that we should pursue the course. And if it is Republicans that decide to protect those who are breaking the law, then they are the ones who then are responsible for that decision. But we should not be complicit in that.

BASH: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democratic congresswoman of New York, thank you so much, and happy Easter.


BASH: And what do Trump supporters think of President -- the former president's indictment? You might be surprised. We're going to hear from some of them coming up.

And the Texas GOP censured my next guest, in part for supporting a gun safety bill after the massacre in Uvalde, a town he represents in Congress.


BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

Two Tennessee Democrats may be headed back to the Statehouse after Republicans expelled them over a gun rights protest on their House floor.

My next guest broke with his own party, the GOP, after a gun safety measure passed in Congress. He supported that. Of course, that came after a mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, where 21 people were killed. He represents Uvalde.

And he is here with me now, Texas Republican Congressman Tony Gonzales.

Thank you so much for joining me. I want to talk about guns in a minute.

But, first, I do want to ask about that bombshell ruling from a federal judge in your home state of Texas revoking the FDA approval for the abortion pill mifepristone. You are an outspoken opponent of abortion rights, but are you at all concerned that this sets a dangerous precedent that any single judge can simply overrule scientific agencies as they see fit?

REP. TONY GONZALES (R-TX): Dana, thank you for having me. And happy Easter from San Antonio.

A special shout-out to a happy birthday to Jackie (ph), my 4-year-old. He's our Easter baby.

On this ruling -- I have six children. I am a prolific pro-lifer, and I think it's important that we protect the sanctity of life. I believe in state rights. Here in Texas, we have a heart bill -- heartbeat bill that was passed. And I think it's important that states dictate their futures.

And we have to have the courts uphold these. I mean, it's very dangerous when you have the administration, the Biden administration, coming out and saying they may not uphold a ruling. As an appropriator on the House Republican side, I look at it, the House Republicans have the power of the purse.

And if the administration wants to not lead this ruling -- not live up to this ruling, then we're going to have a problem. And it may be -- come a point where House Republicans on the appropriation side have to defund FDA programs that don't make sense.

BASH: You said that you want this to be states' rights, but isn't a federal judge saying that -- on a national level that a pill cannot be administered the opposite of states' rights?

GONZALES: Well, the states started this. The states had their ruling, and now the federal government is coming in and dictating theirs. I think it's important that we have to get back and allow our

institutions to lead. We can't undermine them when we don't agree with things that are there, whether it's on the state level. Look, I'm from Texas. We don't have marijuana here. Marijuana is in California and other places.

If those are the kind of things that your community wants, then work it through your state, work it through the federal level. But we have to uphold our institutions. It's dangerous when we erode them.

BASH: I want to move on, but I just want to one important thing out, which is that mifepristone isn't just used for abortion. It's also frequently prescribed for women experiencing a miscarriage.

And, by some estimates, as many as one million women miscarry every single year. So, are they just on their own if this ruling is uphold -- upheld?

GONZALES: No, I think it's important that we take care of women and we -- it's important that we have real discussions on women's health care and get off the abortion. Get off the abortion conversation.

Women have a whole lot more other issues than just abortion. Let's have those real conversations, and let's talk about -- let's talk about the other things that are happening in this world. I have got a picture of Emily -- Emilia and Maria. They recently passed away three weeks ago due to a smuggler in my district.

What does that mean? That means there's all these other things happening in the world, especially in my district. I have got a district that's turned upside down due to this border crisis. There's everyday people that are impacted on this crisis, to include the Tambungas.

BASH: Well, both things can be true. Everyday people can be affected by all of these issues facing Americans.


Speaking of that, I want to turn to guns. You represent Uvalde, where 19 children and two teachers were killed in that horrific school shooting almost a year ago. You were censured by your party in Texas after you voted for the bipartisan gun law in Congress.

Now in Tennessee, Republicans just expelled two Democratic lawmakers after they protested inaction on gun violence after the recent shooting there. Why does it seem like the Republican Party, your party, is responding to these school shootings by punishing people who are trying to address gun violence?

GONZALES: What I'm seeing is, both parties want to fight and they want to blame each other for everything that is wrong.

Let's get away with the labels. Done with the labels. Let's get real problems and real solutions to real problems for people that are impacted every single day. When a school shooting happens, it doesn't kill Democrat kids or Republican kids. It kills our kids. How do we come together?

I was proud to support the Safer Communities Act. I would continue to do that. Nobody's talking about this, but after the Safer Communities Act was passed into law, there's been at least a dozen cases in which a similar Uvalde-type shooting was prevented. I think it's a start.

We have to do more. One of the issues that I'm seeing is, I'm having a problem with DOJ getting funding through these stop -- stop school violence grants and cops grants. So what you see in Washington is oftentimes these people fight one another or they give pats on the back. Until that money reaches our schools, like here in San Antonio, nobody is safe.

BASH: Well...

GONZALES: These shootings continue to happen everywhere.

BASH: It's not just Washington. As I mentioned, your own party in the state of Texas censured you because you supported this bipartisan bill.

GONZALES: Yes, bipartisan -- it's tough to work with colleagues in today's environment.

You want to demonize one another. That doesn't help us move the ball forward. We have to look beyond that. Going -- going back to kind of what's happening in Tennessee, we have to have an area where people can have nonviolent protests. I think that's important to democracy. I think it's important to our republic that we have those speak out, be vocal in a nonviolent way.

Once it turns into a violent aspect of it, we have to -- we have to cut that out. It has to be at a point where, how do we come together? How do we bring this country together for the betterment of everybody, to include keeping our kids safe in school?

BASH: Congressman, let me ask you about what happened in New York this past week.

The former president was charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records, allegedly to hide hush money payments to a porn star during the 2016 election. Since then, he's gone after the judge overseeing the case. He called on Republicans to defund the DOJ and FBI until they come to their senses.

Do you support former President Trump's rhetoric and a call to defund federal law enforcement?

GONZALES: President Trump is a U.S. citizen. He is a former president, and he is innocent until proven guilty in this country.

And what you're seeing is so many people, because of their political affiliation, are demonizing one another. We have to get back -- we got to get away from that. We got to get back to allowing things to take hold. Once again, I will go back to it. Yes, it's like watching a novella, a Spanish soap opera. You can't look away. I get it. I want to know what Trump had for breakfast just as much as the next person. But, back in my district, we have real problems. We have Emily and the -- Emily and Maria that were killed.

This is what -- this is what the border crisis looks like. Imagine you're a grandmother that picks up your 7-year-old daughter and takes her to a playdate. On your way home, you get killed by a smuggler that is going 100 miles an hour on Facebook Living himself.

BASH: Yes.

GONZALES: This is what my district is feeling.

BASH: No, it's horrible.

GONZALES: So, yes, it's important what Trump is doing and all these things, but how do we solve real problems?

BASH: It's horrible.

But I just want to say, what the former president is saying is to defund federal law enforcement. Given the picture you just hold out and the horrific story you just talked about, I'm guessing you do not want federal law enforcement to be defunded?

GONZALES: I want to see law enforcement empowered.


GONZALES: I want to see law enforcement have greater training, have greater equipment, and a closer bond with their communities.

BASH: Congressman, thank you so much. Appreciate your time. And, again, happy Easter.

GONZALES: Thank you. Thank you.

BASH: A group of die-hard Trump supporters were asked what they'd like to tell the former president. What they said might surprise you.

My panel is next.



BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

This week, Donald Trump became the first former president indicted on criminal charges. So what does it mean for his biggest supporters? What do they think?

Well, pollster Frank Luntz and Straight Arrow News convened a focus group of Trump backers this week. Take a listen to the advice they had for the former president.


FRANK LUNTZ, FOUNDER, LUNTZ GLOBAL: If Donald Trump were listening to this focus group right now, what would you tell him?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Focus on what's going on in this country. Stop targeting DeSantis and start targeting Biden. That's the guy that you want out of office.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would tell Trump that his fellow Republicans are not his enemies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do not go to the gutter. Avoid it. It turns off the voters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would tell him that, as president, he had great policies. He needs to learn to pick his battles.


BASH: And we are back with our panel. Thank you for all for coming in, one and all. Senator Scott Brown, you worked for Donald Trump. You were his ambassador. Terrible, terrible job in New Zealand.



BASH: What's your reaction to the news this week?

FMR. SEN. SCOTT BROWN (R-MA): Well, obviously, there's a political analysis and then there's a legal analysis.

I mean, you look at the anti-Trumpers, Romney, Bolton, and then you look at some of your own. I just took a note on Elie and then McCabe and Van Jones basically saying that it's an inexplicable -- the case that was actually brought.

I have some concerns, as all the political analysis folks do, about the statute of limitations, taking a state crime and turning into a federal crime. So he's got some challenges there.

But the political side of it, yes, it gives him a bump. You can tell from the folks that are right there that we just heard. It gives him a little bump. But can he sustain it? He's got to focus on people, the issues, not himself.

BASH: Well, that -- and that's exactly what we just heard from these Trump voters, this focus group that Frank Luntz did, fascinating.

I'm sure you have similar conversations as a pollster, Kristen.

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, one thing that I think is so interesting about what these voters were saying in this focus group is that they don't want Donald Trump going after folks like Ron DeSantis.

What has always been tough for any of these other Republicans in the field is the asymmetry of Donald Trump can take a swing at them and people go, well, that's just how Donald Trump is. He just likes to throw punches. But if you're anybody else and you criticize Trump, then, suddenly, everybody goes, oh, gosh, you can't -- why would you attack someone else within the own party?

And so to hear them actually saying, no, I don't want you, Donald Trump, attacking other Republicans is interesting. It suggests maybe that asymmetry is less present. Maybe there is more room for someone like a DeSantis or a Nikki Haley or whatever to take a little bit -- to needle Donald Trump a little bit more.

BASH: Faiz Shakir, thank you so much for coming. Welcome to the STATE OF THE UNION roundtable.


BASH: You worked for Bernie Sanders as a senior adviser. You know something about fighting in a primary.



SHAKIR: There's supposed to be good fights in primaries.

I feel like I'm watching what's going on, on the right, though, and you're feeling, like, a loss of moral conversation. You used to have moral conversation in politics. You have legal conversations. I appreciate that there's concerns over whether the case and the statute of limitations and other issues are at play, but what happened to moral leadership?

Does anyone get concerned that a president who had an affair with a porn star while his wife just gave birth, then paid her a bunch of money to try to win an election and turn off a potential issue that would have killed him and a presidential election? No. No. Shrug.

And I think, at that point, you're, like, wondering, where is moral leadership, even from people on the right? Say, OK, I have concerns with legal issues. However, morally, this is just not accorded with my values.

And what happened to that? What happened to that kind of conversation on the right?

DANIELLA GIBBS LEGER, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: I think that sailed a long time ago, right?

I mean, ever since 2016, it was very clear this is a different Republican Party, and they were interested in amassing power at all cost. And all that morality talk that we lived through in the '90s and '80s, it's gone. BROWN: Well, respectfully, Bill Clinton. Gary Hart. Let's not take

the moral issue and all of a sudden think it's new. There's been indiscretions by previous presidents.

My concern is that you're opening up a form of Pandora's box. This has never happened in our country's history, to take something that's a state issue, morph it after the statute of limitations passes into a federal issue.

What happens if it's going to have a red state DA all of a sudden wants to take on one of yours? Is that where we're going now? It's going to discourage people from running who are legitimately ready to serve this country, and it's going to create problems down the road.


SHAKIR: Trump...


SHAKIR: ... into this degree of moral relativity. And I appreciate the points that his conduct might be just as bad as this person's conduct, when I would argue, my own personal objective, is that his conduct lives in a reign of its own.


BROWN: Listen, people took that into account when they voted for him. They knew about all his indiscretions. They knew all about his problems. They compared and measured between him and Hillary, and they chose him.

BASH: Let's...


BROWN: No, no, moving forward, listen, you have a new cycle coming up. Does he have issues to overcome? Absolutely. But so does Joe Biden at 42 percent and all the things that are happening with him.

BASH: One of the issues that we saw this week that still proves very powerful among voters is the issue of abortion, particularly in swing states.

We saw what happened in Wisconsin. Now we have this ruling that we talked about earlier in the show. There was one judge in Texas. It was a split ruling, but the Texas judge -- judge said he was going to revoke the FDA of approval of an abortion bill.

How much do you think this is going to -- I mean, obviously, the short term, this is the policy. But let's just talk politics here. How is this going to play into the political landscape?

GIBBS LEGER: I mean, it's going to be huge.

You have seen ever since last year in November and with Wisconsin, look, voters are not interested in having government officials or judges take away their rights. This -- and let's talk about what this drug is, a drug that's been used for over two decades that is safer than Tylenol.

This ruling has ramifications way beyond abortion. You are looking at the legitimacy of the FDA and how they approve medicine. Like, what's to say they're going to stop here? So what you're seeing is this hyper-radicalization of the judicial system that's playing out.


And I think the politics of it are going to be bad for the Republican Party, but the policy of it should terrify everybody who cares about science and independence.

SOLTIS ANDERSON: What I'm seeing in a lot of my data is that for those voters who are pro-choice, they are much more fired up about the issue of abortion right now than voters who are pro-life.

Frankly, in the day, you do not see pro-life voters saying, hey, we scored victories here. We feel momentum. We're going to vote on these issues. Instead, it is much more likely to have a negative effect on Republicans, at least in the short term, at the ballot box.

And I think that's one of the things that has been kind of opened up by the ruling in Dobbs last summer, is that it put the issue back in the forefront of the political conversation in a way that it wasn't prior to the ruling. But that is primarily a conversation that Democratic activists are happy to have, while Republicans, it's the third- or fourth-tier issue for many Republicans.

BASH: I want to turn to the situation in Tennessee, these two lawmakers, state lawmakers, who -- Democrats who were expelled because they protested on the floor of the legislature in favor of gun reform.

Let's listen to what one of them said.


JONES: We're being expelled not because of a crime, not because of an ethics violation, but because we stood with these young people who are demanding that we act to end these school shootings.

And rather than address the issue of banning assault weapons, my former colleagues, the Republican supermajority, are assaulting democracy, and that should -- that should scare all of us across the nation.


SHAKIR: Can you respectfully disagree in today's society?

And I think, under -- I would blame Trump again -- is that kind of politics of blood sport, that, if you disagree with me, here comes the fire hose of venom, anger, vitriol, retribution, we're tearing you down, rather than to say, respectfully disagree. And I don't say that the left is immune from this at all, but I do

think that the right discourse is one of saying, you disagree? Here comes a punch in your head.

BROWN: Respectfully, I...

BASH: You served on a state legislature.

BROWN: ... know you worked for Harry and Bernie. I respect them both.

I have run 21 times. It's been a blood sport since I ran for assessor almost 30 years ago. It's always been a blood sport. That being said, you have a democratic process where people voted in a democratic manner, and now it's being called undemocratic, what they did.

However, listen, it Easter, Ramadan and Passover right now. I don't disagree with you that we should find common ground, because this is a very, very serious issue, what's going on with gun violence around this country.

SHAKIR: But you don't condone them being expelled, though, right?


BROWN: Hold on. Let me finish.

We have decorum rules. As a state rep, state senator, U.S. senator, ambassador, military, you don't go on the House floor and start banging and taking over.

GIBBS LEGER: Then censure them.

BROWN: Hold on. Should -- exactly. Exactly right.

Should you have expelled them? No, I disagree with that. I think there's a way to find that common ground. Let them have their bully pulpit. You have raised them almost to martyr level now, and now, obviously, one's going to come back through the process. There will be a process.

And I think, quite frankly, this helps the Democrats in that state. But, listen, the Democrat policies in that state are so far left that it really won't matter in Tennessee.

GIBBS LEGER: I mean, look, I'm glad to hear that you think that expelling them was way too far.

And if you look into the history of Tennessee and that Statehouse, like, this actually isn't surprising that it happened, because ever since Republicans have gotten a supermajority there, they have been using that hammer and that cudgel to stop dissent.

BROWN: Then get out and vote. Then get out and vote.

GIBBS LEGER: Well, when you gerrymander the state within an inch of its life, it's hard to say, get out and vote, when you're splitting up Democratic districts to the point where they don't have that power.


BROWN: It's happened all over the country, and the reverse too, and the reverse too.

GIBBS LEGER: But mostly with Republicans, mostly with Republicans.

BASH: We're going to have to leave it there. I'm sure this will continue in the green room, maybe on Twitter.

BROWN: No, it's all good.

BASH: Thank you. Thank...

BROWN: This is great political discourse.

BASH: It is.

BROWN: I love this. And thank you.

BASH: It is.

SHAKIR: Thank you.

BASH: Thank you all.

And up next: She's one of the most popular people in Washington. A day in the life of Ukraine's ambassador to the U.S. The latest in my series "Badass Women of Washington."



BASH: In Ukraine, forces are preparing for a spring offensive.

Here in Washington, Ukrainian Ambassador Oksana Markarova is fighting to keep resources flowing to her country. Here's my latest installment in the series "Badass Women of Washington."


BASH (voice-over): Seven-year-old Carolina at the Ukraine House in D.C. She came to the U.S. for medical treatment. This little girl lost both her legs last fall from a Russian attack.

Visits like these are part of the job for Ukraine's ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova.

(on camera): You were recently asked about your job, and you said: "I thought I was going back to a comfortable life in private business when the president asked me to serve as ambassador to the United States."

OKSANA MARKAROVA, UKRAINIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: Yes. Comfortable is not the word to describe, of course, this.

BASH (voice-over): Markarova became ambassador two years ago this month. She wasn't even there a year when Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

MARKAROVA: We were preparing for it. We knew that the intent to attack us was there, but you never completely believe until, unfortunately, something horrific like war happens.

I would wake up every morning and think, was that a bad dream?

BASH (on camera): Yes.

MARKAROVA: But we work literally 24/7.

BASH: Your background is in finance. When you came to the United States as ambassador, your goal was about business and about getting investment in Ukraine.

MARKAROVA: I definitely didn't have all the knowledge about all the military capabilities. Now I know them by names, codes, and everything else, but, yes, I became a wartime ambassador, not something I was preparing myself for, but I don't think you can ever be really prepared for it.

But I think my previous finance experience is actually very useful.

BASH: How?

MARKAROVA: A lot of help that we have been receiving from the U.S., from President Biden, Congress, on a strong bipartisan basis, is about security assistance, but also budget assistance.

BASH (voice-over): On most days, she's working outside the embassy shuttling between various government agencies around Washington.

MARKAROVA: It's very important for the ambassador to be the voice of Ukraine here. We are fortunate to have such a strong bipartisan support. We have champions -- I wouldn't even say champions of Ukraine, champions of democracy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On this vote, the yeas are 368, the nays are 57.

BASH: Helping Ukraine had been a rare corner of bipartisanship in Congress, but now the new House Republican majority is divided on it, as is the GOP field of presidential hopefuls.

MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The fastest path to peace is to help Ukraine win the war.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): I care more about securing our own border in the United States than I do about the Russia-Ukraine border.

BASH (on camera): Is there concern that the bipartisan support that has been extraordinary will weaken as Ukraine becomes a political issue internally here?

MARKAROVA: I really hope it will not weaken. Do we have to inform American people more? Of course. Is any support that any country and Ukraine right now has in the U.S. is promised for the years to come? Definitely not.

It's a task for ours to keep informing people, telling people, sharing the truth with them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The International Criminal Court has issued two warrants of arrest.

BASH (voice-over): Last month, the ICC brought war crime charges against Putin, accusing him of illegally deporting Ukrainian children to Russia, the first formal charges since he invaded Ukraine.

MARKAROVA: They have been kidnapped, deporting them to Russian Federation and forcefully putting them either through this horrific reeducational camps, schools, or putting them into strangers' families. It's a criminal act which is punishable by the most harsh sentences.

These are all the ambassadors, previous ambassadors before me.

BASH (on camera): Man, man, man, man, man, man.

(voice-over): She is the first female Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S.

(on camera): You have said that, in some ways, women are better suited as diplomats, and especially as ambassadors.

MARKAROVA: Yes, because I think women are peacemakers and peacekeepers. I think women are always trying to forge partnerships.

BASH (voice-over): She says her husband is a huge source of support.

(on camera): Could you do this job without a partner who gets it?

MARKAROVA: It would be much more difficult. The expectations society has from women are still, I think, higher, and...

BASH: How so?

MARKAROVA: The majority of people still expect that it's women that has to take care of children.

BASH: It does take a certain kind of man to be comfortable with a wife who is as high-profile and as important as you are.

MARKAROVA: Well, strong men -- my husband is definitely one of them -- I don't think are intimidated by strong women.

BASH (voice-over): The mother of four has two school-age children who live with her in Washington.

MARKAROVA: They understand what this fight is about. They had to probably grow up a little bit faster during this year. And...

BASH (on camera): But most Ukrainian children did.


It's a source of inspiration for me. I learn a lot from my kids.

BASH: Right in the middle of Georgetown.


BASH (voice-over): Ukraine's embassy sits in the heart of Georgetown in a historic building that was once home to Revolutionary War General Forrest.

MARKAROVA: President George Washington visited this very room.

BASH: This is the room where Washington and others drew the outlines of what became D.C., America's capital.

MARKAROVA: We're very proud, especially now, when we fight for our independence, to own a building that has seen people who fought for your independence, is remarkable.


BASH: We will be right back.



BASH: We want to wish you and your family a very happy Easter, a joyous Passover, and a Ramadan Mubarak.

Fareed Zakaria picks it up next.