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Alabama Governor Signs Near-Total Abortion Ban Into Law; Nadler: White House Thinks President Trump is a "King", Probe Won't End; Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) Is Interviewed About The Iran Conflict; Alabama Governor Signs Near-Total Abortion Ban Into Law; Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) Is Interviewed About The Abortion Bill. Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired May 15, 2019 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:15] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.

We begin with breaking news. One signature that could be the first step toward overturning the Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. Just over an hour ago, Alabama's Republican Governor Kay Ivey signed into law the most restrictive abortion bill in the country.

The bill passed the state senate last night. It outlaws abortion at every stage of pregnancy with exemptions for serious health risk but not for rape or incest.

Doctors who perform an abortion could face 99 years in prison. Critics of the bill point out that's the same or even less time than a convicted rapist. And if they attempt it, a doctor could be locked up for 10 years.

That is significant, but I touched on, there's a bigger picture, what it could mean for the fate of Roe v. Wade. A Republican sponsor of the bill in the House, Alabama State Representative Terri Collins, makes no bones about it, she called it a, quote, direct attack on the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. She says it's about challenging the decision, protecting lives of the unborn.

It's a message shared by other Republicans in the state senate.


STATE SENATOR CLYDE CHAMBLISS (R-AL): A life is a life and even if its origins are in very difficult situations, that life is still precious. Life is a gift of our Creator, and we must do everything that we can to protect life.


COOPER: Now, as you might imagine, Mr. Chambliss there is one of the people who voted for the bill, one of the men who voted for the bill. In fact, only men voted to support the bill, it is not sitting well with Democrats in the Alabama State Senate who are taking issue with the 25 men in all.

Here is one of the opponents of the bill.


STATE SENATOR LINDA COLEMAN-MADISON (D-AL): Republicans, y'all, you guys used to say we want the government out of our life. We want them out of our business. We want them out of our bedroom.

Now, you in my womb. I want you out. You don't control this. You don't own this.


COOPER: This really does seem to be heading toward a showdown in the Supreme Court, if they choose to take it up. It's worth noting where the public is on this. The most recent polling shows 57 percent want it to stand, 21 percent say overturn it, 22 percent are unsure.

Joining me, one of the only doctors who performs abortions in Alabama, Dr. Yashica Robinson.

Doctor, thanks so much for being with us.

Can you just explain as a doctor who provides abortions the effect of this law will have on the communities that you serve?


This law will have a devastating impact on the patients that I serve. We know that abortion care is health care. It is very necessary in many instances and with this law, it will limit options for women who are pregnant. It also ties the hands of physicians as we look to take care of women.

COOPER: The notion that if a doctor does perform an abortion after the law goes into effect, they could end up serving more jail time than a rapist or someone who commits incest, does that make any sense to you?

ROBINSON: It makes no sense to me. There's no other area of medicine that doctors are restricted in this way or criminalized in this way. It is not right to penalize physicians for performing a service that certain individuals find morally objectionable to them.

We do know like we said, we want lawmakers to not insert themselves into our personal lives. Women and physicians can make the decisions for themselves. We already know that abortion care is very safe and this just shouldn't happen.

COOPER: The law does leave an opening for serious health risk to the mother where a doctor could use, quote, reasonable medical judgment and perform an abortion. Are you clear about what exactly that means? Because it doesn't seem like it leaves the door open for the doctor's judgment after the fact.

ROBINSON: You know, as an obstetrician who also performs abortions, no, I'm not clear about exactly what that means. I already met instances where it is difficult for us to determine those things in the health care setting now, and it has resulted in delays in care.

So, in the instance where now as a physician I have to contemplate whether someone is going to go back and scrutinize care that I rendered to my patients and whether they're going to agree or disagree and whether their opinion could cost me my freedom, it puts me in a difficult position. It also puts me in a position whereas a physician I feel like I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place.

[20:05:02] You know, on one hand, I could end up serving jail time. But on the other hand, if I don't do what's best for my patient and my patient is harmed, then I have to worry about potential litigation from the patient or her family. That should never happen.

COOPER: Do you plan on continuing to provide this service until the law goes into effect and once it goes into effect, what are you planning to do?

ROBINSON: Absolutely. I do intend to continue to provide services until the law goes into effect. Until that time, we're going to continue to take care of women every single day, reassure them we're here to take care of them. We're going to continue to work with women to teach them to advocate for themselves. We're going to continue to speak up, and speak out.

We're going to gain consensus from other people to see if we can keep this law from going into effect. And if we are unsuccessful, then I will do everything that I can with then legal means to make sure that women can continue to have access, if that means helping women to find the financial means to get to other areas, if it means me traveling so that I can increase access in other areas, I'll do what it takes because I know that this is important.

COOPER: Yashica Robinson, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

ROBINSON: Thank you.

COOPER: Lots to talk about with CNN political analyst Kirsten Powers, CNN senior political commentator and former presidential candidate Rick Santorum, and CNN chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, whose bestselling book "The Nine" explores the inner workings of the Supreme Court where this battle is most likely headed.

Kirsten, what do you -- how do you see the significance of what has just happened now in Alabama?

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I mean, I think it is significant on a lot of different levels. There's obviously, you know, a lot of people talking about the political significance of it. And I think that Republicans have made pretty clear not just with this but I think with the Infant Born Alive Act which is something that Ben Sasse has sponsored and all of the Republicans voted for, that they're making abortion first of all a political issue in 2020. There's the legal implications of it, which Jeffrey can get into more,

about the fact that they are -- it is not just Alabama that's passing bills like this. There are other states and they're doing it in part because that's what they believe, also because they want to get something to the Supreme Court because they hope the Supreme Court will overturn it.

And then there's just the substantive impact of it, which is incredibly extreme. It is something that's even caused division in the pro-life community, the idea of not even having exceptions for rape and incest, something that close to 80 percent of Americans support.

COOPER: Jeff, back in June when Kennedy announced his retirement, you said, I want to make sure I get this right, you said that abortion would be illegal in 20 states in 18 months. You got a lot of push back, a lot of Trump supporters saying, what are you a mind reader, how can you say this? Do you --

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: I -- for better or worse, I think I was right. I mean, look, Donald Trump said in the third debate with Hillary Clinton, if I get two or more appointments to the Supreme Court, automatically, that's the word he used, automatically Roe v. Wade will be overturned, and I think the president was exactly right.

Roe v. Wade is gone and every woman in Alabama who gets pregnant is going to be forced to give birth soon, and that's going to be true in Alabama. It's going to be true in Missouri. It's going to be true probably in Georgia, and that's what the law is because that's what the presidential election was about in part last time.

COOPER: Would this be into effect, though, if the Supreme Court hasn't ruled on it?

TOOBIN: Well, I think they are going to rule on it, and I think they're going to uphold it. I mean, this is what the fight has been about for years. I think that the legislators were very smart. They waited until they got five votes on the Supreme Court, and now they're going to push this thing through. And Brett Kavanaugh, and Neil Gorsuch are going to be joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, and this is a victory Rick and others have been fighting for decades, and they've won and they should celebrate.

COOPER: Rick, Senator Santorum, does it -- A, I want you to respond to what Jeff said. Also, but -- the idea that a rapist that gets someone pregnant could get less jail time than a doctor performing an abortion, does that make sense?

RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLTICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, yes, it does make sense, because we're ignoring the other person in the situation, and that's the child.

The rapist, according to the Supreme Court, someone who's convicted of a violent, a horrible, I mean, just -- whatever, doesn't matter, all rapes are horrible, but you can take the most horrible rape and according to the Supreme Court, the death sentence is not -- is cruel and unusual punishment, but the child who is conceived as a result of that can be killed.

And that to me is a house divided. You can't say somebody commits a horrible crime, doesn't receive a death sentence, but a child who's innocent does. And that's why you're seeing -- I mean, Anderson, I think people don't realize this law, Roe versus Wade has been in effect for 50 years, yet this country is as divided as it is now as it was 50 years ago.

Why? Because this is wrong. And if this was such -- and all of the prognosticators predicted within 10, 20 years, everybody is going to be for abortion. It didn't happen, why? Because you're killing a human being.

And it's obvious to anybody because it's a fact.

COOPER: Right.

SANTORUM: And some can convince themselves that it's OK to do that. But a lot of Americans, even those that are pro-choice are very uncomfortable with this because it's wrong. And that's what --


COOPER: Couldn't you also make the argument that it is just a complex issue? I mean, I understand --

SANTORUM: It is a complex issue. I agree with that.

COOPER: You say it is wrong, but not everybody -- you can be uncomfortable with it and still believe it should be the law. You can be -- you know, there's many nuances --

SANTORUM: But you're taking a human life. You're taking an innocent human life.

COOPER: Kirsten, go ahead.

POWERS: Well, yes, but hold on, can I say something here? I mean, it is not true that people are just as divided. I mean, Anderson just put up a poll. It's a Fox News poll, that 57 percent of Americans don't think Roe v. Wade should be overturned.

So I think that these --

SANTORUM: Half the people consider themselves pro-life, Kirsten.

POWERS: I know, but people who consider themselves pro-life often don't hold other people to that standard. So, what you are espousing is your religious views and --

SANTORUM: No, no --


POWERS: Yes. Hold on. Let me finish.

COOPER: Let her finish, let her finish.

SANTORUM: Au contraire.

COOPER: Let her finish.

POWERS: You're Catholic. Don't tell me these views don't stem from your Catholicism. I mean, this is -- and that's fine. I respect that. I absolutely respect that.


SANTORUM: I'll be happy to talk about it if you want to know where it comes from.

POWERS: But my point is it is not something that all Americans agree on. And I think people of good faith who thought a lot about this issue have come to a different conclusion about it and they don't actually think that an embryo is -- has the moral value that you're putting on it. And I'm not debating whether that's right or wrong, I am saying there isn't agreement, there's disagreement of people of good faith, and I think a lot of people, even pro-life people recognize that, which is how you end up with 57 percent of Americans saying Roe v. Wade should be the law of the land.

SANTORUM: Yes, you used the term you don't put the moral value. And that's because you're trying to couch this in moral terms.

I don't. I mean, you never heard me talk about it in moral terms or in terms of my faith. I came to being pro-life because my father-in- law was a geneticist, and when I was running for Congress, I was conflicted on the issue of abortion when I first ran for office. I had never taken a position.

And I sat down with him and we had a really in depth medical discussion, what is this thing in the womb, is it a unique DNA, it is alive, a human being, is there anything different that is --

POWERS: But, Rick --

SANTORUM: And the answer genetically, scientifically, otherwise, this is a human life.

POWERS: Right, OK.

SANTORUM: And for you to say, well, this is morally, not as significant as later, that's you --


SANTORUM: I'm just enforcing the facts.

POWERS: No, no, no, I didn't say that. I didn't say that that's what I thought. I'm not talking about what I think. I'm saying there are other people who have all those facts, reformed

Jews, for example, who don't reach the same conclusion, and they have as much good faith and same information and don't come to the same conclusion. That's all I'm saying.

SANTORUM: You say they don't come to the same conclusion, what do you mean by that, say it is not a child? That it's not a human life?

POWERS: They say, I think the debate is over. Nobody is questioning whether it is a life. That's a scientific fact.


POWERS: There's debate whether or not somebody looks at an embryo at three weeks, or four weeks, sees a person.

SANTORUM: So it is what the person can do or look like.

POWERS: So that's the debate. And so, but it's just interesting that you can't even allow for the possibility that somebody could think differently on this.

COOPER: We got to leave it there.

SANTORUM: No, don't put words on my mouth. I do think that people can think differently. All I'm saying is that it's not a scientific point of view, it is -- they're making moral judgment about a value of life at a particular point of time in that life.

POWERS: Right.

SANTORUM: As we could do at the end of life, we could do for people who have disabilities, and I'm saying I don't want to make that decision, I don't want to be the person making decision as to what life is valuable and worth protecting. I believe all life, innocent life should be protected.

POWERS: Are you for the death penalty, Senator Santorum?

SANTORUM: You know what? For a long time, I was. I'm not a fan of it anymore.

And by the way, there's a difference. And again, I think people of moral -- of good moral conscience can disagree. In this case, it's not an innocent human life. This person did something horrible that may deserve punishment as opposed to a child has done nothing to deserve punishment.

COOPER: OK, we've got to leave it there.

Senator Santorum, Kirsten Powers, Jeffrey Toobin.

More to come on all this. I'd get reaction from 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

[20:15:01] First, the White House counsel says no, no way to the House Judiciary Committee for documents in the probe of team Trump. How the Democratic chairman of the committee responded, next.


COOPER: The White House's top lawyer said Democrats have no right to a do-over of the special counsel's investigation of President Trump.

Now, the White House has rejected the House Judiciary Committee's request for documents in its sweeping probe of possible obstruction of justice, and abuses of power.

The judiciary chair, Jerry Nadler, didn't take the decision well and responded this way.


REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): This is the White House claiming that the president is a king. This is the White House saying that the Justice Department says they can't hold the president accountable, you can't indict a president, and now, they're saying neither can Congress.

[20:20:02] So, the president is totally unaccountable, above the law. No president, no person in the United States is above the law. This is preposterous.


COOPER: Joining me now is former Nixon White House counsel, John Dean, and CNN legal analyst, Carrie Cordero.

John, obviously, you're in a rare position of someone who was White House counsel and cooperated in a congressional investigation.

Do you agree with Nadler that Trump is acting like a tyrant, like a king?

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: He absolutely is, I do agree with the chairman. We returned to the imperial presidency. I must say that it started with Nixon. We had it with Bush and Cheney, and we're back there again.

And these people feel that the law doesn't really apply to them, so they march to their own drummer. And I hope Nadler does not let up because there's no reason. He has the full power and authority of the Constitution and many Supreme Court rulings to back him up.

COOPER: Carrie, I mean, a lot of people have been dancing around whether this is a constitutional crisis, a number of Democrats claim it is, the White House stonewalling, judiciary chairman calling the president, you know, want to be king.

When does it reach that threshold for you, when court rulings are ignored?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I think if they were to exhaust their opportunities in court, and I think the problem -- here's what I think the problem is that's going on. First of all, the White House counsel's letter I completely disagree

with the way they characterized it in terms of saying that what Chairman Nadler is doing is a do-over for the special counsel's investigation. Congress has a legitimate authority to conduct oversight and do their investigation, and that's not at all the same thing as conducting a criminal investigation, which is what the special counsel office was doing. It also completely ignores the record that was established in the Mueller report, both on the issue of foreign interference and particularly on the issue of obstruction on the part of the president.

Where I think the Democratic strategy is failing, though, and why it would be a long time until we got to what I would consider an actual crisis is that they're not prioritizing the things that they are requesting. And so, what that's doing is it is opening an opportunity for the White House counsel to characterize their demands as unreasonable, and if it ever did go to court, court would say you need to get together to work it out more.

So, I just don't think what Chairman Nadler is doing is an effective strategy to get the information that he wants.

COOPER: John, the White House is basically saying Congress doesn't have oversight of the president, that flies in the face of separation of powers.

Do you agree that the Democrats are playing into their hands by having this kind of broad, sweeping request?

DEAN: Well, if you look at the record, Nadler indeed has tried to negotiate on this issue with the White House, on all these issues. There have been negotiations ongoing.

So, what they reached the point where they felt they had no option when he didn't show up to issue a subpoena, and request not only his presence but later his documents. So, the negotiations fell down. This Congress is well-aware that the courts will send them back to negotiate if they haven't done so. Clearly, they'll go in with a record of having negotiated in this instance.

COOPER: Carrie, I mean, the idea that the Judiciary Committee fining people who don't cooperate with subpoenas, is there any reason to believe that's actually going to rattle anyone in the Trump administration? Trump offered to pay legal fees of people that protested his rallies, although he didn't.

CORDERO: Yes, I don't think that's necessarily so effective, similarly with threats to potentially use inherent contempt power to jail people. I think that politically -- just the visual of that is probably not politically good.

I think part of the difficulty is that the what the White House counsel office is now arguing is that the president cannot be overseen on certain things that are his executive authority, that Congress literally does not have the authority to conduct oversight of his exercise of executive power. And this is where the real crux of what they actually are going to end up arguing about, when they get down to the facts of the president's obstructive behavior, it's whether or not he can actually abuse that executive authority and they're just not getting to that issue yet.

COOPER: Carrie Cordero, John Dean, appreciate it.

Tensions with Iran sort of seem to be ramping up, but there are sharp differences at play over whether Iranian threats real or is it business as usual? Just ahead, I'll talk about it all with senator and Iraq War veteran, Tammy Duckworth.


[20:28:38] COOPER: It certainly sounds like a confrontation with Iran may be in the works. The State Department says it's ordered all nonemergency personnel out of Iraq because of what they characterize as an imminent threat from Iran. The war-like sounds from inside Iran, a Revolutionary Guard commander and I'm quoting, we are at the height of confrontation with an enemy, without saying who the enemy was.

But then listen to a senior British commander, part of the U.S. coalition battling the Islamic State, had this to say from where he stood.


MAJ. GEN. CHRISTOPHER GHIKA, BRITISH ARMY: There's been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria. We're aware of their presence clearly and we monitor them, along with a whole range of others, because that's the environment we're in. But as I say, we see no -- we have no part of Iran in our mission. We are monitoring the Shia militia groups, I think you're referring to, carefully, and if the threat level proceeds to go up, then we'll raise our force protection measures accordingly.


COOPER: Well, it didn't take long for an American military spokesman to push back, saying the general's remarks, quote, run counter to what he called identified credible threats available to U.S. intelligence. Question then for us is what to make of it all.

I spoke before air time to Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee.


COOPER: Senator Duckworth, how do you square the narrative coming from the administration about Iran with this comments today from the British deputy command of the coalition saying that there is in fact no increase threat right now?

SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D-IL): Well, it's very hard to square when I've not received any type of an intelligence analysis or briefing from the administration. You know, I was just in Iraq less than three weeks ago and certainly I did not get any briefings on the ground there that indicated that there was any type of increased risk from Iran. So, I would like to see what this intelligence that the administration keeps talking about. They need to share it with members of Congress.

COOPER: And have they shared it with any members of Congress?

DUCKWORTH: They have not shared it with any members of Congress and we've been calling for it in a very bipartisan way, by the way. You know, I do feel that is something that Mr. Bolton is pushing us towards and he keeps referring to some sort of intelligence and estimate and analysis and I've not seen it. I've got a top secret clearance. Let's share it with the members and let us see for ourselves what you're talking about.

COOPER: I understand you met with the Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan yesterday. What did he have to say about it?

DUCKWORTH: Well, I did. I asked him directly that question and he said that, you know, he would be willing to share that information with us in a classified briefing. So, hopefully he will follow through and then we're going to get some sort of a briefing. But, he was very broad in his answers.

COOPER: Some have said that they believe the administration is trying to essentially goad Iran into conflict. Do you think that's possible? Do you think that's what they're doing?

DUCKWORTH: I think not just administration, but I think Mr. Bolton in particular, right? He himself has said two things, what caused the U.S. to be in conflict, one which is for Iran to ramp up its nuclear production, and then the other is for them to attack U.S. forces.

Now, it seems like they -- he is setting up those conditions for that to happen. Number one, he put us out of the JCPOA, the Iran nuclear agreement which only incentivizes Iran to not adhere to the agreement.

And then also this idea of spending -- sending more troops as many as 130,000 U.S. troops into the region which basically increases the number of targets for any type of potential attacks.

So I sort of feel like there's circular logic happening here and I wonder if this is something that's really being driven by Mr. Bolton.

COOPER: Are your Republican -- I mean, you talked about this being bipartisan concern. Are your Republican colleagues in the Senate as concerned about this as you and some of your Democratic colleagues are? And -- I mean, and do you know, are there any plans as of right now to hold hearings to get to the bottom of what's going on?

DUCKWORTH: Well, I know that in the arms -- in the foreign affairs committee there certainly was bipartisan support calling for more briefings. And I know in armed services where I sit, there's bipartisan support for us to actually get some sort of a briefing of this change in the environment that the White House keeps referring to, but they have not yet briefed us. You know, we in Congress are the only authority to declare war and so you should share with us information if you're pushing us into the conditions where war may happen. I deserve to know as a coequal branch of government and I need to do my job, so provide me with the estimates so I can see what you're talking about.

COOPER: Do you know where this 120,000 number comes from? I mean, could it be something simply more than just a contingency plan, the Pentagon just wanting to be ready for any eventuality?

DUCKWORTH: Well, that's the size of an army, so something along the lines of two or three divisions. When I asked the secretary -- the nominee for secretary of defense yesterday, I also talked with the acting secretary -- the secretary of the Navy today, I asked the same thing. And he said, well, that's the high number and that some of those forces were already going to be in the region.

But, again, I feel like we are ramping up the conditions to head us toward some sort of conflicts when even our NATO allies, our allies who are in the region are not certainly pulling out -- their personnel from their embassies are not doing changes in posture. So, either our allies don't have this intelligence that they're referring to or we're not sharing this information with our allies, which is very deeply concerning to me.

COOPER: Yes. Senator Duckworth, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

DUCKWORTH: Thank you.

COOPER: Up next, we're going to get a reaction to all of the breaking news at the top of the program from 2020 presidential candidate, Kirsten Gillibrand, who is heading to the frontlines of the abortion fight in Georgia tomorrow.


[20:37:50] ANDERSON: Back to our breaking news. Tonight, Alabama's governor signed into law the most restrictive abortion bill in the country and near total ban on all abortions in the state. Under the new law, doctors who perform abortions could face up to 99 years in prison.

The reaction from Democratic presidential candidates has been swift and fierce. One of the most vocal opponents is New York senator and 2020 presidential candidate, Kirsten Gillibrand, who tweeted that abortion ban recently passed in Alabama and Georgia represent "the greatest threat to reproductive freedom in our lifetimes."

Senator Gillibrand is heading to Georgia tomorrow. But, first, she joins us here on "360." Senator, thanks for being with us.


COOPER: You want to fight this, but what exactly can you do on the congressional level? I mean, this is solely a decision for the courts at this point, isn't it? GILLIBRAND: I think I can lead a movement and a fight across this nation for women's reproductive freedom. This is an all out assault, state after state, over 39 efforts in this country to undermine women's reproductive freedoms.

President Trump intends on overturning Roe v. Wade, he made it clear not only in his campaign but as president. And that's what these Republican legislatures are doing across this country. This is something women are going to have to fight back on and I will lead that fight.

COOPER: Justice Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing, he said that he would respect the "important precedent of Roe v Wade." Do you believe he'll do that if and when this case and cases from other states make their way to the Supreme Court? Because that -- I mean, a lot of times people who are waiting to get confirmed give a statement that's kind of oblique and could be read in different ways.

GILLIBRAND: I think his statement was dishonest and disingenuous, but the American people are watching. And if he lied under oath in those hearings, that's going to be problematic. So, I hope the American people and American women everywhere will hold this President accountable and will protest these extreme decisions by legislatures and governors being signed into law.

They're criminalizing a woman's right to make a decision about her body, her reproductive freedom, how many children she'll have, when she will have children. And it is literally turning back the clock on settled law.

[20:40:04] This is not something the American people support. Over 70 percent of American people support reproductive freedom and support the precedent of Roe v. Wade.

COOPER: The fact of the matter, as you said, is that this is not any surprise. President Trump made it very clear as a candidate, he wanted to overturn this. He won the presidency in part because his supporters wanted him to appoint conservative justices to the Supreme Court, potentially appealing Roe v. Wade if it came down to it. So, I mean, couldn't one argue that this is the will of the people at least to a certain degree?

GILLIBRAND: Well, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 3 million votes, so I wouldn't say that. And if you ask Americans today, do you believe in the precedent of Roe v. Wade and giving women basic human rights and civil rights to make decisions about their health, their well-being, their bodies, and life or death medical decisions, they believe women should have that right.

So, we know where the American people stand on this. And that's why we have to lift up the voices of people in Georgia, people in Alabama, women who will suffer under these new laws and make sure that their voices are heard and I will lead this fight across the country.

If I'm president, I will make sure that there is not a judge or justice who is appointed by me who will not uphold the precedent of Roe v. Wade. And the truth is, I will guarantee that no matter where you live in this country, in all 50 states, that a woman will have access to safe, legal abortions and other reproductive care services that Republican legislators are so intent on denying.

COOPER: So you would want a litmus test for Supreme Court justices and Roe v. Wade would be one of those litmus tests?

GILLIBRAND: I do. And I do because President Trump and Senator McConnell have changed all the rules when it comes to appointing justices. When Mitch McConnell decided that President Obama was not entitled to his Supreme Court justice, where Merrick Garland was denied a hearing and a vote, they changed the rules.

President Trump has made clear he's had a litmus test. And frankly, I believe in precedent, settled law. And this is not just some regulatory issue. This is a basic fundamental human right of every female in this country and you are telling them that men in legislatures across America should get to decide when they have children, how many they have, and what types of health care they may have access to.

We are rolling back the clock decades. And if they were doing this on any other issue, you would see a ground swell of outrage. And I'm telling you, women have been marching against this President since he was inaugurated, global women's marches for years now.

You saw women turned up to the polls in 2018, flipping the House of Representatives because bold women ran across this country on issues of passion and issues of rights. And so this is just beginning, Anderson. And if the President wants a fight with the American people and the American women, he's got it.

COOPER: Senator Gillibrand, appreciate your time.

We've got more news ahead straight away, including why Attorney General Barr asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today if she had brought handcuffs. We'll be right back with that.


[20:47:26] COOPER: It's busy Wednesday night. Let's check in with Chris to see what he is working on for "Cuomo Prime Time." Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: How are you doing my friend? So, we're going to be taking look at what happened in Alabama. You know, it's very interesting that Roe v. Wade back in '73 was actually overturning a Texas law that was just like this Alabama law, and it makes you wonder why did they do this, you know, because the person who thought up the Alabama law is part of an organization that has been trying for years to get back to the Supreme Court.

What we've seen is the idea that Roe v. Wade is set in stone is not true. You have the Webster case. You have Casey. You've seen over time erosions in the protection by allowing the state more qualifications of notice, of different determinations of when viability needs to be tested, state resources, funding. So we're going to take you through that tonight and we're going to look at what the chances that these winds up being litigated in a way beyond the district court, what the vulnerabilities of Roe v. Wade are. So we'll take the audience through that little legal seminar.

COOPER: I also want to get your take on the Attorney General William Barr joking with Speaker Pelosi in an event today asking her if she brought her handcuffs, which obviously a reference to House Democrats calling for Barr to be arrested (INAUDIBLE).

CUOMO: Was it?

COOPER: You think there was some other subjects going on?

CUOMO: No, no, no, just in my head.


CUOMO: So look, I think it was interesting. If true as reported that Pelosi without skipping a beat pointed to the sergeant of arms and said he's right there in case we need to make an arrest and that Barr then laughed and walked away, look, from my perspective, I'll take the levity.

Everything is so hyperpartisan, so hyped up, so vicious, so hostile. It's good to know that they can joke about something. Ignoring subpoenas is not a laughing matter. It should be taken care of in the courts and they have to follow those rulings. But, a little levity, I'll take it.

COOPER: Yes. Did you know that Attorney General Barr, his dad was head master of my middle and high school?

CUOMO: Is that true?

COOPER: Yes, it was. And he was removed in great controversy for -- yes.

CUOMO: Ignoring subpoenas?

COOPER: I think it was a very liberal school. I think his view is too conservative, but I don't know. Who knows? Chris, I was a kid then, thanks very much. Appreciate it. Up next -- we'll see you in about 11 minutes.

Up next, a story that could have added much different ending. Dr. Sanjay Gupta introduces us to a man who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge, survived, and is now using that data to help save others.


[20:53:44] COOPER: All this week, we're bringing you stories of some incredible people who are champions for change. Tonight, you're going to meet a man who made a lasting impact on our Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

In 2000, Kevin Hines tried to end his life by jumping off San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. Not only did Kevin survive, he is now thriving and is dedicating his life to preventing others from dying by suicide.



SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Oh, my brother, this is amazing. The thing that you've been fighting for, for nearly 20 years, there it is. I know this is emotional, but this is in large part because of you, man.

I think we tend to be very reductionist when we cover stories. It's very binary. Here's what happened. Here's the outcome. I think what Kevin Hines and this story did for me was make me realize that the shades of gray in between stories aren't things that you should just dismiss.

(voice-over) No detail is too small, especially with a story like the one I'm about to tell you. On September 25th, 2000, 19-year-old Kevin Hines walked to the middle of the Golden Gate Bridge and jumped.

HINES: So, you know, I'm falling head first and I immediately recognize if I hit head first I will die.

[20:55:02] I hit the water and the impact overrated to my legs and shattered my T12, L1 and L2. When you hit from that height at that speed, it's like hitting a solid brick wall.

GUPTA (on camera): And what did you -- what was going through your mind?

HINES: The very millisecond my hands left the rail and my legs cleared (ph) it, instant regret, instantaneous regret.

I just wish I could go back into time.

GUPTA (voice-over): Kevin and I first met back in 2003. His was one of the first stories I presented at CNN.

(on camera) Why did you come here? Why the Golden Gate Bridge?

HINES: I was under the impression that it was the easiest way to die.

GUPTA (voice-over): Over the last two decades, the suicide rate in the United States has gone up 33 percent. That makes it the number two cause of death in this country for people age 10 to 34. And over that same time period, 537 people have died after jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge.

Kevin Hines has spent the last 16 years trying to change those tragic numbers. His singular goal, to get a net placed on this beautiful bridge, a barrier to stop someone from dying, someone like him.

HINES: What are the aesthetics of a bridge compared to one human life? What if that was your mom or your dad? GUPTA (on camera): This is the place where you jumped.

HINES: Yes. This is the place where I lived.

GUPTA: I love that.

What surprised me then still surprises me now is the story that Kevin tells about the day that he jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. He made this pact with himself, which was that if anybody basically is kind to me, if anybody looks at me and says what's wrong, can I help you, wants to be compassionate in some way, if anybody had done that for him, he wouldn't have jumped.

That stuck with me and I think in some ways it has influenced and directed a lot of the other stories that I do. It's never about a single individual, it's always about the circle of individuals, the ecosystem of society as a whole.

In some ways, you look like a totally different person.


GUPTA: I mean, first of all, just physically. I mean, both of us -- I mean, in some ways I think look better now, you know?

I think Kevin first got me thinking about this idea that if someone drops all of a sudden in front of you from a cardiac arrest, most people would have some idea of what to do. Call 911, you know, start pushing on the chest. But if someone is clearly in trouble from mental illness, somebody who may be clearly suicidal, not only do we often not know what to do, we often turn the other way.

HINES: Today is our gift.

GUPTA (voice-over): Kevin Hines won't admit this, but he has probably saved many, many lives, people who thought nobody cared and then Kevin Hines shows up and says, "I love you. I care about you. I understand the pain that you're feeling and there is something we can do about it."

(on camera) Let's go check this out together.

HINES: Yes, man. Let's do it.

GUPTA (voice-over): And today, I get to show him that his story, his fight has meant something. That net is finally going up.

HINES: That's the net. That's it. It's going up on the Golden Gate. As of 2021, not one more death by someone's hands off the Golden Gate Bridge. This is one of the most special days of my life.


COOEPR: Let's talk about ways people can reach out. What signs people should look for? GUPTA: If you know the person and you see sudden, you know, obvious changes in the behavior, either becoming, you know, increasingly sad or increasingly withdrawn, changes in sleep, changes in eating, changes in enjoying the things that you previously enjoyed, those are sort of the obvious ones.

I think that the idea that the person has now sort of lost hope, that there is a hopelessness about them, that's probably the biggest one. Kevin -- the signs were obvious. I mean, he was crying. He was upset as he walked to the bus stop, got on the bus, all these people saw him and he said, "Look, if one person was kind to me, if one person had shown me friendly eyes," as he said it, he wouldn't have jumped. That didn't happen.

So, this is what he's dedicated his life doing saying it's OK to talk about it. It's OK to reach out. If someone drops of a cardiac arrest, you probably know to pump on their chest. If somebody is obviously suffering tremendously from mental illness, not only do we not help, we often turn the other way. Kevin wants to change that.

COOPER: Yes. Sanjay, thank you.

GUPTA: Thank you, yes.

COOPER: Well, and so don't miss one-hour prime time special hosted by Sanjay, Saturday, 8:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN. The news continues.