ANNOUNCER: “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos starts right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC HOST (voiceover): High court. High stakes.
GROUP: My body my choice.
RADDATZ: The Supreme Court preparing to overturn Roe versus Wade.
KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: How dare they tell a woman what she can do and cannot do with her own body.
MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I do encourage you once more to just pray and send Roe versus Wade to the ash heap of history.
RADDATZ: A major shift after 50 years of abortion access. This morning our special look at what this ruling means for the rights of all Americans. Terry Moran on the bombshell draft opinion, chief legal analyst Dan Abrams on the battles playing out in the state, and veteran court reporter Nina Totenberg on the fallout from the leak. Plus exclusive interviews with Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar and Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson. And the Powerhouse Roundtable on the new outlook for the midterms.
Doubling down —
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We want Ukraine to win. We’re going to do everything we can to help Ukraine defend its sovereignty.
RADDATZ: As Vladimir Putin prepares for Russia’s annual Victory Day, intelligence leaks prompt new fears that the U.S. could be closer to direct conflict with Russia. Ian Pannell is live from the war zone.
ASHISH JHA, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: With waning immunity we may very well get a large surge of infections.
RADDATZ: The White House warns 100 million could be infected by the fall. Dr. Ashish Jha joins us live.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it’s “This Week.” Here now, co-anchor Martha Raddatz.
RADDATZ (on camera): Good morning and welcome to “This Week.” As we come on the air this Mother’s Day, millions of women across America are bracing for the rollback of abortion rights after the bombshell leak revealing a majority of the Supreme Court supports overturning Roe v. Wade. Since the court established that the Constitution protects a woman’s right to an abortion, no issue has animated and divided our political system more than the landmark precedent. Across five decades, 10 presidential administrations, 23 Supreme Court justices and countless legal battles, this nation has fiercely debated the promise and the limits of that constitutional right.
But as conservatives have solidified their hold on the Supreme Court after years of heated confirmation battles, the fervent activism by the anti-abortion rights movement appears on the cusp of a major victory. And while the source of the leak remains unclear, it’s all but certain if the ruling holds many states will immediately ban the procedure, the intense debates will grow stronger and the nation’s divisions ever wider.
Our legal team is standing by to analyze all the fallout, Senior National Correspondent Terry Moran leads us off.
And Terry, this may be just a draft opinion but there seems little doubt that Roe will be overturned and massive implications —
TERRY MORAN, ABC NEWS SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It’s almost a certainty, Martha, this is a draft opinion. It’s the draft opinion conservatives have been dreaming about and working toward for half a century and sometimes votes can switch between draft opinions and the final result.
But it’s clear that the five conservative justices on this draft opinion, Thomas, Gorsuch Alito, Barrett, and Kavanaugh have decided to go for it and do what conservatives have been trying to do for all these years, which is overturn Roe versus Wade. And the impact is going to be incalculable on the lives of women.
Women will occupy a different place in American society. We’ll have two regimes in the country. Where women do have the right of bodily autonomy under the old way and can choose to have abortion and whether (ph) the process is criminalized. And that will change the country and it’s changed the court.
The court has never done this, rollback a previously granted individual constitutional right. It shows an eagerness really to crown a conservative political movement with a judicial triumph.
RADDATZ: And Terry, you talk about divide, the nation is already politically divided. This divides it further.
MORAN: It does. And I think it’s — the leak itself is not a great sign, it shows that — look, everybody always knew there were politics in the Supreme Court, but that tradition of secrecy, of confidentiality, of mutual trust, no matter how badly they fought, it served to take the court out of the muck and mire of our politics. And this shows that people inside the institution are willing to drag it into our politics and use it.
And I think it will damage the court’s reputation, certainly worse than Bush versus Gore, which did take it down a significant notch. I think it’s going to divide the country because this is an issue that we haven’t stopped fighting about. And as I say, it will end up with two Americas for women in this (inaudible) —
RADDATZ: And — thanks to you, Terry. Let’s turn to our chief legal analyst, Dan Abrams. And Dan, when the court has overturned previous rulings, hasn’t it largely to be correct the lack of rights, — Terry talked about that, but that’s not what you would have here?
DAN ABRAMS, ABC NEWS CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Right, it’s typically been to prevent a state from enacting a law that violates the United States Constitution, and here you have just the opposite, which is to overturn a previous decision to say that yes, the states can do that.
But when you look at precedent, I think the most important question moving forward after this case is going to be, what could be next? And I think that certainly the gay marriage ruling is going to be on the table. Why, because Justice Alito wrote a dissent in that case, that used almost the exact same reasoning as he’s using in this case. And so I think it is entirely fair to ask, okay, could that be next? Could he have five votes for something like that? And of course, you would also need states to outlaw it as well.
RADDATZ: And Dan, let’s turn back to states. Talk about the effect at the state level if Roe is overturned. I know there are these so-called trigger laws, what else?
ABRAMS: Well, the trigger laws, as you correctly point out, would mean that as soon as Roe versus Wade is overturned, those abortion bans go onto the books. There are other statutes that are just sitting there, that had been invalidated as result of Roe versus Wade that would likely get kicked back into gear. You’re talking about least 20 states or so.
And then there’s going to be the question in the other states, which haven’t addressed this directly in the wake of Roe versus Wade as much, where they’re going to have to talk about what restrictions, do we increase restrictions, particularly in purple states? So yes, there are going to be the states that immediately ban abortion, but there are also going to be very important debates going on in a lot of the more purple states about where the line will be drawn now that the United States Supreme Court isn’t dictating where that line ought to be.
RADDATZ: Okay, thanks, dan.
Let’s bring in NPR’s legal affairs correspondent, Nina Totenberg. And Nina, you’ve been covering the court since the early days of Roe. How much has this leak rattled the institution and the way it’s viewed?
NINA TOTENBERG, NPR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, the way it’s viewed it’s an earthquake and I think within the court itself it’s an earthquake. There has never been a leak like this, there have been minor, little springs that have emerged from the court, reports of a tentative vote or misbehavior by one justice back in the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s.
There were those kinds of leaks but never an entire draft of a majority opinion, that has never, ever occurred before. And it can only, in all likelihood, have come from a justice, that I think is less likely, perhaps one of the clerks and the leading theory is a conservative clerk who was afraid that one of the conservatives might be persuaded by Chief Justice Roberts to join a much more moderate opinion, and then there’s another theory that it was an outraged liberal clerk.
But I think the only one that makes sense is that it came from somebody who was afraid that this majority might not hold, that Chief Justice Roberts might persuade one of the conservatives to come over to him in a much more moderate opinion.
RADDATZ: And Nina, how likely is it that they’ll discover who did leak this?
TOTENBERG: I think it’s very unlikely. I mean, the marshal of the court is in charge of protecting the court, and that’s another thing you’re going to see. The court will look like it is literally hunkered down. All the — the security walls and all those kinds of things will go into place until the end of June or later. It’s going to look like it’s under siege, the way in some ways — this has emotionally put the court under siege in the same way that the Capitol across this very street was put under literal siege.
RADDATZ: Okay. Thanks so much, Nina. We’ll be watching all of this. Thanks to you, Terry, and thanks to Dan.
In the wake of the leaked draft, activists on both sides of debate immediately began mobilizing for a drastic shift in America’s abortion laws and the rights afforded to millions of American women. We spoke with leaders of two groups who are already preparing for America’s next abortion battle as the Supreme Court readies its ruling.
RADDATZ (voice-over): The reaction to this week’s history-altering news was swift.
Proponents and opponents swarming the steps of the Supreme Court.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Abortion is just a basic human right.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You won’t find abortion written in invisible ink in the Constitution.
RADDATZ: Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion, a highly contentious and deeply personal issue.
JEANNE MANCINI, PRESIDENT, MARCH FOR LIFE: Pro-abortion advocates thought that we would become desensitized to abortion. But nothing could be further from the truth.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): We have reached the culmination of what Republicans have been fighting for, angling for, for decades now and we are going to fight back.
RADDATZ: Despite some polls showing 70 percent of Americans believe the choice should be left up to a woman and her doctor, America is awakening to a generational shift on abortion, as a wave of state legislation has restricted access across the country.
MINI TIMMARAJU, PRESIDENT, NARAL PRO-CHOICE AMERICA: As a movement, this has been probably the most devastating year since pre-1973.
RADDATZ: Mini Timmaraju is the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, one of three reproductive rights groups planning to spend more than $150 million to elect abortion rights advocates this year.
Do you think this will be the issue in the midterms?
TIMMARAJU: This issue is a major motivator, not only for Democratic base voters, not only for women, but for Americans overall.
RADDATZ: President Biden warning this could just be the beginning of a wave of rollbacks.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If it becomes law and if what is written is what remains, it goes far beyond the concerns of whether or not there’s a right to choose. It goes to other basic rights.
RADDATZ: Marjorie Dannenfelser is the founder of the Susan B. Anthony List, a political organization helping to elect anti-abortion rights activists to office.
MARJORIE DANNENFELSER, PRESIDENT, SUSAN B. ANTHONY LIST: I’m absolutely for every unborn child, for saving the life of ever unborn child.
RADDATZ: If the final ruling does overturn Roe, 26 states are certain or likely to ban abortion, including 13 states with trigger laws that would ban it immediately.
TIMMARAJU: We have to explain to the American people that we can’t rely on the court anymore to protect our constitutional rights. We have to go to Congress, governors races, attorneys general who enforce these laws.
RADDATZ: States aren’t waiting until a final ruling or the fall to take action. This week, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt signed a six-week abortion ban into law, modeled after the Texas SB-8 bill that went into effect last summer. Blue states like Connecticut passed new legislation protecting abortion providers from out of state lawsuits.
And California is aiming to codify reproductive rights into law.
GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): Wake up, America. Wake up to who you’re electing.
RADDATZ: These as opponents and defenders of abortion rights do agree on one thing, it should be a defining issue for any political candidate.
DANNENFELSER: We put elections first because we need to elect candidates who will pass laws that will save lives. We got to know what they’re going to do once they’re elected.
RADDATZ: Do you think this should be a litmus test for Democratic candidates?
TIMMARAJU: We don’t think that we should accept any more anti-choice Democrats.
RADDATZ: And joining us now is Senator Amy Klobuchar, a member of the Judiciary Committee.
Senator Klobuchar, great to see you this morning.
Let’s start right there, do you believe —
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Thanks, Martha.
RADDATZ: Do you believe there should be a litmus test? The Democrats have several candidates who do not support abortion rights.
KLOBUCHAR: Well, first of all, you have people who are personally, personally pro-life, but yet believe that decision should be a woman’s personal choice even if they may not agree with them.
So I think it’s important to note that we have people in our party that vote to uphold Roe v. Wade that may have personal opinions that are different. That is a really important distinction, Martha.
And also, I think what you see in our party, is a party that is clearly pro-choice. It believes that a woman should have a right to make her own reproductive health decision when it comes to abortion. That is a position of our party and I think you see in it primary and primary. That matters to our voters, certainly now more than ever.
RADDATZ: And Senate Democrats plan to hold the vote this week to codify abortion rights, but it’s most certainly going to be blocked, not go through. So, if the court does overturn Roe, which seems an almost certainty, what options do abortion rights advocates have at this point and Democrats?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, let’s be clear about what’s going on here.
With this leaked opinion, the court is looking at reversing 50 years of women’s rights. And the fall will be swift. Over 20 states have laws in place already, Martha. And I think the question that voters are going to be asking, when 75 percent of people are with us on this, is who should make this decision? Should it be a woman and her doctor, or a politician? Should it be Ted Cruz making this decision or a woman and her family? Where are women’s equal rights?
So, my answer to you is, if we are not successful in passing this in the Senate, and we will do everything to do so. And I’ll note it’s already passed in the House where not one Republican voted for it, to codify Roe v. Wade. If we are not successful, then we go to the ballot box. We march straight to the ballot box. And the women of this country and the men who stand with them will vote like they’ve never voted before because this is 50 years of rights in a leaked opinion where Justice Alito is literally not just taking us back to the 1950s, he’s taking us back to the 1850s. He actually cites the fact that abortion was criminalized back when the 14th Amendment was adopted. And so this is a really extreme thought.
RADDATZ: Senator, should this be the principle issue — should this be the principle issue for Democrats at the ballot box, abortion rights?
KLOBUCHAR: It will not be the only issue, Martha. I think you know that people right now are focused on the economy. They’ve seen the leadership of the president when it comes to Ukraine and the importance of preserving our democracy. They’ve seen the extremity of what we’re seeing across the country, extreme Republicans who literally have been supporting Donald Trump’s assault on our democracy and refused to admit that Joe Biden actually won the election. All of this is going to be on the ballot.
But, clearly, when you look at especially a new generation of women are looking at this and saying, wait a minute, my mom and my grandma are going to have more rights than I’m going to have going forward? I’m going to have to look at a patchwork of states laws with 15 of them already looking to ban medication abortion, which is what people do online and things like that. They’re going to look at this and say, what world do I live in? And so as you look at these attempts to limit people’s rights, limit people’s voting rights, that’s just not where America is, Martha. So, of course, it’s going to be a major issue going into the fall.
RADDATZ: But — but — but on that point — on that — on that point, Senator, public polls show a majority of Americans support the right to an abortion in most cases. But in the states that would almost immediately ban abortion if Roe is overturned, a majority of adults believe abortion should be illegal in most or all cases according to a “New York Times” analysis. So wouldn’t these laws simply reflect the majority of the people in those states?
KLOBUCHAR: I am someone that believes, and I think when your viewers think of this and they talk to their daughters and they talk to their sisters and mothers, I say this, why should a woman in Texas have different rights and a different future and a different ability to make decisions about her body and her reproductive choices than a woman in Minnesota? How can that be in this country that we’d have a patchwork of laws. And it — one of the things, it isn’t always easy to do, is put yourself in someone else’s shoes. A waitress in the middle of Texas who has to make a decision about — she’s going to quit her job to be able to get on a bus and go 250 miles. Those are the kinds of things that are going to be happening. It’s especially going to fall on the backs of poor women, women of color.
This is just wrong. And that is part of why Justice Blackmun, who is a Republican-appointed justice no less, made that thoughtful decision, looked at the Constitution and said, the right to privacy includes the right for women to make a choice like this.
RADDATZ: OK, we’re going to have to leave it there, but we thank you for your time this morning. Thank you so much, Senator.
KLOBUCHAR: It was great to be on, Martha. Thank you.
RADDATZ: Let’s bring in Arkansas’ Republican governor, Asa Hutchinson, chair of the National Governor’s Association.
Good to be with you this morning, Governor.
If, as expected, Roe is overturned, the bill you signed last year banning abortion in your state would go into effect immediately as soon as your state attorney general signs it. The only exception in that bill is the life of the mother.
What would you tell those women in your state who can’t afford to travel to get an abortion, who can’t afford to raise a child, or those who have been raped or the victims of incest?
GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R-AR): Well, thank you, Martha, and happy Mother’s Day to everyone.
And in terms of Arkansas law, our law simply expresses the will of the people of Arkansas. Senator Klobuchar really didn’t address that. And the fact is that each state has differing views on the — where we should have on abortion restrictions. In Arkansas it’s a policy of Arkansas that we protect the life of the unborn. And so, yes, if Roe versus Wade is reversed, then we would have the trigger law in place to protect the life of the unborn. This is important to go after and discuss this issue with conviction. And it has divided our country. And that division has been going on for decades and it will continue after whatever decision the Supreme Court renders.
RADDATZ: Governor, I want to go back to my question about those women, what would you say to those women who seek an abortion, who don’t have the money to travel, who don’t have the money to raise a child, what would you say to them?
HUTCHINSON: Well, first of all, again, that’s where your heart goes out to them. I’ve had to deal with those very difficult circumstances of rape and incest as governor. And it’s difficult. And so you have to understand that. You have to provide services. And I believe that we want to increase the services for maternal health, to increase the services for adoption services as well. And so we want to invest those areas that will help those women with very difficult circumstances of the pregnancy.
But, secondly, I think to your point, the rape and incest exceptions will continue to be a part of the debate. Right now, we do not have rape and incest as exceptions under the Arkansas trigger law, but there’s — I think that will be a part of the debate. I’ve always…
RADDATZ: Would you like to see those exceptions?
HUTCHINSON: … those exceptions are important. Yes, I expressed, whenever I signed the law, that I would prefer the rape and incest exceptions to be in there. And even though we have the trigger law, I expect those exceptions to be a significant part of the debate in the future even though we’re going to immediately go to restrict abortions in the exceptions — with the exception of the life of the mother in danger.
RADDATZ: Why do you support those exceptions?
HUTCHINSON: Well, it has been a — even though we believe life begins at conception, that we try to save lives, the life of the unborn and to do that and to gain public acceptance, those exceptions are what generally the public has insisted upon as being reasonable exceptions to abortion limitations. And — and so, you know, there’s the principle involved of life begins at conception, in difficult circumstances, but those are accommodations that are made to get public acceptance of the limitations and saving unborn lives. And that’s the object of it.
RADDATZ: And, Governor, you tweeted that you hope the court returns authority to the states. Mitch McConnell told USA Today it’s possible Republicans will pursue a national ban. Would you oppose that?
HUTCHINSON: I think that’s inconsistent what we’ve been fighting for four decades which is that we wanted the Roe versus Wade reversed and the authority to return to the states. And so as a matter of principle, that’s where it should be. If you look at a constitutional or a national standard, that goes against that thrust of the states having prerogative. And secondly, I think there’s some constitutional issues of a national standard as well as to what is the authority under the Constitution to enact that.
And, Martha, there’s a fundamental point, because everybody describes this as right. If the court reverses Roe versus Wade, they’re saying that the Constitution does not provide that, which returns it to the states. And to me that makes sense under the Constitution. And that’s where the vigorous debate is going to be. That is where we’re going to face a lot of concerns on the compassion side. And states are going to make different determinations of it. But the people are going to express through their representatives exactly the direction they want to go. And to me that makes sense and I think it makes sense under our Constitution.
RADDATZ: OK, thanks so much for joining us this morning, Governor.
We’ll be back in 60 seconds.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: The United States provides battlefield intelligence to help Ukrainians defend their country. We do not provide intelligence on the location of senior military leaders on the battlefield or participate in the targeting decisions of the Ukrainian military. Ukraine combines information that we and other partners provide with the intelligence that they themselves are gathering on the battlefield. And then they make their own decisions, and they take their own actions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby after several leaks this week about the U.S. sharing intelligence with Ukraine which may have helped the Ukrainian military kill Russian generals and sink the flagship Moskva last month. It comes amid fears Vladimir Putin could use tomorrow’s Victory Day holiday to expand Russia’s offensive.
Our senior foreign correspondent, Ian Pannell, is just outside Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine tracking the very latest. Good morning, Ian.
IAN PANNELL, ABC NEWS SENIOR FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Martha, good morning from the small village of Mala Rogan, we’re only about 20 miles from the Russian border. We’re going to hear the sounds of the battle still going on in the distance. But the Ukrainians have retaken this land which was occupied by Russian forces.
You can see, this is a Russian tank behind me, the letter z is clearly sprayed on the side. We’re out with war crime investigators, they’re not just investigating what happened here but elsewhere in the country, as we’re getting news of that school that was sheltering up to 90 people being directly bombed, again, by the Russians and if that’s true, that again, of course, would be a war crime.
PANNELL (voiceover): This week, emboldened with weapons and intelligence from the West, a show of force and resistance from Ukraine, attempting to thwart any success by Russia. For the first time this week, the U.S. acknowledging the role its intelligence has played in the war, calling it legitimate and lawful.
KIRBY: We provide them what we believe to be relevant and timely information about Russian units that will (ph) allow them to adjust and execute their self-defense to the best of their ability.
PANNELL: These pictures show the Russian flagship, the Moskva, on fire last month, after Ukrainians struck and sunk it. Pentagon officials telling ABC News we did not provide Ukraine with specific targeting information for the Moskva.
It also emerged this week that it helped identify Russian mobile command centers. The Ukrainians combining it with their own intelligence to kill as many as 12 Russian generals, a stunning blow to the Kremlins’ campaign. But the publicity now causing concerns with the administration. Biden telling his intelligence heads to plug up the leaks, worried they could lead to a direct conflict with Russia.
With Victory Day looming in Russia, the Kremlin desperate to demonstrate success on the battlefield. The fight for Mariupol now at a climax. Videos circulating online showed Russian forces surrounding the city’s last holdout, pummeling the Azovstal steel mill in an effort to capture the strategic port.
With its land invasion repeatedly stalling, the Kremlin escalated aerial attacks this week. Online videos like these show Russia targeting railroad stations, bridges, and other supply routes. But Russia’s imprecise targeting and disregard for the rules of war mean many of Russia’s so-called legitimate targets this week have again been civilian areas.
A devastating strike at a bus stop in Donetsk and the destruction of an amusement park here in Kharkiv.
PANNELL (on camera): There was a beer garden, a photobooth, even a child’s playground, luckily there was no one playing here at the time. But it just tells you everything you need to know whether or not the Russians are actually targeting anything or not. These are civilian sites that are being repeatedly hit across this city.
PANNELL (voiceover): Later today, President Biden set to meet virtually with President Zelenskyy during a meeting of G7 leaders, ahead of tomorrow’s Russian Victory Day holiday, seen as a key date for Putin as he desperately looks to showcase success in the war he started and is struggling to win.
(END VIDEOTAPE) PANNELL (on camera): Martha, tomorrow is May the 9th, which is Victory Day in Russia, commemorates the 77th anniversary of the victory of the Soviet forces against the Nazis. And there’s a real sense of dread here about what could happen in the country in terms of bombardments and also what Vladimir Putin may well announce in terms of doubling down on this war — Martha.
RADDATZ: Our thanks to Ian Pannell.
Joining us now is ABC News Moscow correspondent Patrick Reevell, who has just returned from Ukraine, where he spent significant time covering the war.
And, Patrick, of course, you spent seven years living in Moscow, haven’t been back since the war started. But what do you see happening tomorrow in this so-called Victory Day?
PATRICK REEVELL, ABC NEWS MOSCOW REPORTER: Well, you know, I think Victory Day is going to be a major moment in this war in Ukraine. Being on that square in Moscow, covering victory day for many years, and as you know, the holiday that marks the victory of the Soviet Union over Nazi Germany in World War II. And it’s a key holiday under Vladimir Putin. It’s a centerpiece of his regime really.
And it’s a day when we see tanks rolling across Red Square. And it’s a moment when Vladimir Putin can posture in front of the military that this year, it’s really something quite different, but obviously the war is going on, and the Kremlin had hoped to use Victor Day to declare his own victory in Ukraine. But because the way the war has been going it’s not possible for it to do that.
RADDATZ: And, Patrick, what happens inside Russia, if Putin’s ultimately defeated or if he ultimately wins?
REEVELL: You know, I think the frightening question right now is, the war isn’t going to way the Kremlin needs it to, Russia as I know, Kremlin has extreme control over the narrative within Russia,. I think many Russians do support the war. They believe that they had to do this, that Russia had to go into Ukraine.
And so, the challenge right now is that Vladimir Putin is waging a war that he needs to win. And so, right now, tomorrow, or I should say, on Monday, we’re going to see Vladimir Putin looking for a victory that isn’t really there.
RADDATZ: And we will all be watching, especially you. It’s great to see you, Patrick, and thanks for all your very good work.
The roundtable is coming up. And later, as the U.S. approaches 1 million COVID-related deaths, the White House is warning of another surge this fall and winter. Dr. Ashish Jha joins us live, next.
RADDATZ: The White House is sounding the alarm about a fall and winter surge.
Here to discuss is the White House Covid-19 response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha.
Pardon my allergies there, Dr. Jha.
I want to start out by talking about this possible surge. You say as many as 100 million people could be affected.
DR. ASHISH JHA, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE COORDINATOR: Yes, good morning, Martha. Thanks for having me here.
You know, if you take a step back and look at the last two winters, we’ve had relatively large surges of infections. What we’re — and we’re looking at a range of models, both internal and external models. And what they’re predicting is that if we don’t get ahead of this thing, we’re going to have a lot of waning immunity, this virus continues to evolve and we may see a pretty sizable wave of infections, hospitalizations and deaths this fall and winter.
Whether that happens or not is largely up to us as a country. If we can prepare and if we can act, we can prevent that. But we’re going to need Congress’ help. And that’s one of the key messages here is, we need the resources to fight that battle so we don’t have that kind of fall and winter.
RADDATZ: And, of course, this is coming when you’re asking for an additional $22.5 billion in emergency aid with Republicans wanting a much lower number, about $10 billion. What difference will that make?
JHA: Yes, it’s going to make an enormous difference actually. So, let’s talk about what happens if we don’t get this. There is a new generation of vaccines that’s almost surely coming. The FDA is making final decisions on that. Americans — we will not have enough of those vaccines for all Americans. We’re going to run out of treatments, we’re going to run out of testing. So if Congress doesn’t step up and fund these, I think, urgent emergent priorities, and they have to do it now. We can’t wait until the fall. It will be too late. If — if Congress does not do that now, we will go into this fall and winter with none of the capabilities that we have developed over the last two years.
RADDATZ: And you talk about hospitalizations and deaths, but — but do you expect — if this happens, do you expect it will be much like it is today, those who have been vaccinated and boosted will not get extremely sick or are you waiting for some sort of new variant.
JHA: Yes, all of the models we’re looking at assume no new major variant, right? We assume that this virus will continue to evolve, as we have seen it evolve and we’re basing it on that. That said, what we know is, for instance, that we’ve seen a surge of infections here in the northeast. We have not seen a huge spike of deaths because the population is so well vaccinated and boosted. That’s not true for the whole country. So we have got to continue plugging away at getting more people vaccinated and boosted. We’ve got to get more therapeutics in place. If we have the resources to do all of that, I do think we can get through this winter without a lot of suffering and death.
RADDATZ: And right now, only Americans over 50 and those at high risk are approved to get that second booster. Do you see that changing any time soon?
JHA: Yes, well, that decision made by the FDA and CDC was based on the available data. And the available data, largely from Israel, suggests that people over 60 benefit enormously from that second booster, as long they’re five months out from their first booster. Fifty to 59, the data is not as clear, and that’s why they recommended — FDA recommended that people who are in higher risk group talk to their doctor and get it. People under 50, we just don’t have the data yet. So I think we always want to be driven by evidence. We’ll see what the data shows.
RADDATZ: And we will stand by. Thank you so much for joining us this morning, Dr. Jha.
The “Roundtable” is next. We’ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
J.D. VANCE (R-OH), SENATE CANDIDATE: I have absolutely got to thank the 45th — the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump.
This campaign, I really think, was a referendum on what kind of a Republican Party we want and what kind of a country we want.
REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH), SENATE CANDIDATE: I’m not going to win on Election Day and try to punish 50 percent of the people that are living in this state. We are here to come together and I want Ohio to be the economic powerhouse of not just the United States but of the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: Tuesday’s Ohio Senate Primary winners, Republican J.D. Vance and Democrat Tim Ryan, are set to face off for Ohio’s all-important seat this fall. Here to discuss that and much more: the CEO of Democracy for America, Yvette Simpson; New York Times national political correspondent Alex Burns and author of the new book “This Will Not Pass”; and ABC congressional correspondent Rachel Scott; and Sarah Isgur, a veteran of the Trump Justice Department, now an ABC News analyst.
Welcome to all of you. And Rachel, I want to start with you because you’ve been on the ground this week talking to women across the country on both sides of this issue. What are you hearing?
RACHEL SCOTT, ABC NEWS CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, I think something that really stuck out to me, Martha, was an abortion provider who told me people that are suddenly outraged by this haven’t been paying attention because as you have noted, 26 states will likely either outlaw abortion altogether or severely restrict access to it.
And what we have seen is that these bans don’t necessarily stop abortion, women will go through whatever hurdle necessary in order to have a choice. Our team was down in Wichita, Kansas, speaking with a woman that had to wait 37 days to get an appointment for an abortion. She was traveling from the State of Texas, which has now banned abortion as early as six weeks into a woman’s pregnancy. Oklahoma, a state that used to be a safe haven for women traveling from places like Texas, no longer will be because abortions have now all but stopped in that state. That is the next domino to fall and women in that state will now have to go elsewhere.
RADDATZ: And Alex, Republicans in Congress haven’t really said much about this yet but there are all sort of proposals at the state level including in Louisiana where Republicans have advanced a bill to make abortion a crime, homicide. Is there a risk for Republicans to really just be pushing this too far?
ALEX BURNS, NEW YORK TIMES NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think there’s a considerable risk for Republicans, Martha, particularly when you’re looking at the kind of voters that the party has made inroads with over the last two years — ever since Donald Trump left office.
You’re looking at moderates, you’re looking at a lot of suburban women who are upset about crime and inflation and the state of American education. These are not the hardline anti-abortion voters.
One of the things that we write about in our book, is the degree to which congressional Republicans have been kind of adrift as far as what they actually stand for, that they’re — this party that is tethered to Donald Trump and not a whole lot else, ideologically. If Roe is overturned, that is going to be a very, very significant test to the Republican Party in the states and in Washington, what do they actually believe federal policy ought to be as far as regulating a woman’s right to medically terminate a pregnancy.
RADDATZ: And Sarah, let’s take that to you. You predicted Roe would be overturned after the oral (ph) arguments before the court, but you also predicted last year that Republicans would experience a political backlash.
SARAH ISGUR, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: No, it’s fascinating. In the wake of the Texas SB8 bill going into effect, I absolutely thought that Republicans would see political consequences to that, nationally as well. And instead that Texas bill abortion as an issue was really the dog that didn’t bite.
In Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic candidate, ran with abortion as a central issue in that campaign and it didn’t really seem to move the numbers at all, I think in part because with 50 years of this as top-tier culture issue, people have largely sorted themselves by party.
And so the only way that this issue can make a difference, is if people change their vote from one party to another — I think that’s already happened largely, or turnout.
Now we are seeing young people fall away from the Democratic — from President Biden approval numbers wise. It’s possible you’ll see that. But when it comes to Latino and Black Democratic voters you’re also seeing that dip with, this is not an issue the Democrats want to campaign on with them. They tend to be the right of the median Democratic White voter.
RADDATZ: And Yvette, so what do Democrats do?
YVETTE SIMPSON, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: You know, I think, first, we’ve got to bring it home. I think there’s one thing between policy and there’s a different thing about practice, so, you know, you don’t like abortion but when a woman has to be tracked, right, from one state to another, are we going to tell women they can’t cross state lines when they’re pregnant because they might be doing it to get an abortion? Or do women have to report to their doctor as soon as they get pregnant? And does the government have an ability to regulate them from that point forward?
We really have to bring it home and tell people how this will effect every day women, child-bearing aged women. I think about “The Handmaid’s Tale.” I’m horrified at the idea that my daughters who live in different states might have different rules over their privacy and whether they want to get pregnant or not. The government might be able to decide whether they have to carry a child and be an incubator for a child — forced labor. Are we going to actually require women to carry a child that they don’t want to?
So we’ve got to bring it — bring it, I think, to the forefront because we’ve been talking about this, theoretically, right? People don’t like the idea of it, but practically in order to enforce it, states will have to do a lot of things that will make people very uncomfortable, especially women.
RADDATZ: Rachel, Chuck Schumer said the Senate will vote on Wednesday on a bill that would codify Roe and there’s just really no chance that that’s going to happen. So just on that, what do you see Democrats doing? Does it motivate them? Does it bring Democrats forward who may not have voted in the past, as Sarah’s talking about?
SCOTT: It doesn’t seem like this issue and the leak is going to change any minds here. We saw this same exact piece of legislation try to come to the floor of Senate earlier this year and it failed.
I mean, the numbers have not changed. Democrats need 60 votes, the support of at least Republicans. They don’t have 50, because Senator Joe Manchin does not support it. Bob Casey, another Democrat, also does not support it.
And so, this is going to be a massive hurdle and it shows just how limited Democrats are here.
And so, you heard Senator Amy Klobuchar tell you that if it does not actually move forward, the next stop is the ballot box, and they’re hoping that this is the rallying cry for their voters.
RADDATZ: And Joe Biden hasn’t really mentioned abortion at all until this week.
BURNS: Look, I think it’s one of the significant challenges facing Democrats and facing the abortion rights movement generally, who’s the singular standard bearer on the Democrat side, the most persuasive messenger talking about abortions rights. President Biden has had a pretty ambivalent relationship with abortion rights over the course of his political career. His policy, the official policy stance of this administration is ambiguously supportive.
So, but he’s a deeply, deeply religious Catholic, who at other points in his career, has expressed real reservations about a woman’s right to choose. So, I think Democrats are going to be looking for other people to carry that message in a more personal, more authentic way. I think it’s notable that Vice President Harris was out there over the last week because, you know, again, one of the things that we depict in our book about this administration is she’s had some real reservations about not wanting to be seen as a vice president or running mate who speaks only to constituencies that look like her.
Well, this is a really big issue for constituencies that look like here. And last week, it sure sounded like she was pretty comfortable carrying that message.
RADDATZ: And, Yvette, do you think if Roe is reversed, the court could go further on taking back same-sex marriage? Does this really open that up?
SIMPSON: I think they’re sampling (ph) that, right? Like in the draft opinion Alito specifically says he’s not doing that, right, and he can’t, right, because the question before him is abortion. But he does open up in this question about the due process clause, that there are these previously given rights that are not deeply rooted or long held like interracial marriage, like contraception, like gay marriage, that could be right under the same analysis if the court were to get that question.
And so, that’s another reason that Democrats need to be sounding the alarm, because if you’re not a woman and this is not your issue, what is your issue and they may be coming for you next. We really need to make sure that we understand that in a broad spectrum, particularly the South, this is going to be an opportunity for them to tee that up because we’ve already seen it with banning books, don’t say gay, and other efforts to I think just roll back the clocks 50 years, giving states the ability to do this will make us I think more the divided states of America than the United States of America.
RADDATZ: And, Rachel, the person we have not heard from much about this, about this is from Donald Trump. He’s really been uncharacteristically quiet. He did bring it up briefly at his rally the other night. What’s going on there?
SCOTT: Yeah, he had a rally in Pennsylvania. And, look, the former president has never been shy to tout, or to take a victory —
RADDATZ: And he got those justices in there.
SCOTT: Exactly, never been shy to take a victory lap. But mum was the word. Didn’t really say much at all around this issue. A spokesperson said he’s waiting to see the final decision sort of come down and took the same approach that we saw a lot of other Republicans take, which is that, they’re focusing less on the substance of the leak and more on the fact that it was leaked itself, that this document, this opinion actually came out and blasting that.
But make no mistake about it, this will be Trump’s legacy. This is part of his legacy, how he has cemented not only the federal benches across the country but also the conservative-leaning Supreme Court for generations to come.
RADDATZ: And, Sarah, you clerked on the 5th Circuit, worked at the Justice Department. When you look at this leak, what would the motivation be to you, from someone on the left, from someone on the right? I know Nina Totenberg explained it a bit. Is that what you agree it?
ISGUR: So, there are several theories on this. On the liberal side, it’s the idea of warning the country, trying to see if you can intimidate justices into not wanting to destroy the institution. We talked about this as a 6-3 court, but it’s really a 3-3-3, with the three conservatives in the middle differing from their three conservatives in the institution and wanting to protect that. We’ve seen Chief Justice Roberts break many times on — along that axis.
On the conservative side, I think Nina Totenberg is right about that theory. I might differ a little bit. I think it’s actually — would be a concern that that draft opinion would not be the majority, that there aren’t four, a fifth vote on that, and that you would have a Gorsuch, or even a Kavanaugh opinion, with a much narrower, still overturning Roe and Casey, but more focused on the state constitutional issues.
But, of course, there are other options here. A clerk who is dating someone who goes through their bag at night, and the clerk doesn’t even know that that’s how the opinion got leaked. There are other issues of how this leak happened.
But the main issue it that it will so deeply change the judiciary branch. Not just the Supreme Court. How clerks interact with their justices. And what we’ve seen in the legislative branch and the executive branch, as things like this happen more and more, you end up isolating the decisionmaker from people with differing opinions based on trust, based on this likelihood and it’s bad decision making that we get when a president can’t talk to all its advisers, when a legislature is concerned about his staff. We don’t want that happening at the judiciary. And that’s why I am so upset about this leak.
RADDATZ: So many people are upset.
BURNS: If I — if I — if I could just, Martha.
RADDATZ: Please. Please.
BURNS: I — I’m — I totally understand that — that perspective from sort of the legal angle.
I do think that it’s — it’s sort of high time that the American people had more visibility into how the judiciary actually works. And whatever you think of this sort of draft opinion specifically, whatever you think of the Roe issue rite large, I — I think it’s really hard for me, as a reporter, to sort of look at the back and forth this week, all the pearl clutching about the leak, and think that somehow the Americans people would be better off is they new a whole lot less about the institution that is extraordinarily powerful and hugely under scrutinized for the vast majority of American voters.
ISGUR: Transparency — transparency and outcome is different than transparency and process. In our government we need extreme transparency and outcome.
BURNS: I believe in both. I’m — I’m in favor of both.
ISGUR: But transparency and process has broken our legislative branch, it has hurt our executive branch and now we’re going to see what happens in the judiciary.
RADDATZ: And I’m going to turn here to — to Rachel, because we want to get in on the midterms a little bit here and what’s going on.
You were in Ohio. J.D. Vance. What happened there? What’s happening next? It really does show the power of Donald Trump as well. Every candidate he endorsed won.
SCOTT: Yes. The first major test of Trump as a sort of kingmaker, right? I mean this is J.D. Vance. He was down in the polls weeks before the primary. He called Trump an idiot, reprehensible. He not only got his endorsement, he actually ended up sealing the deal. He actually ended up winning.
You had several voters that I talked to on the ground that were swayed by that endorsement. They said, well, if Trump can forgive, well, so can I.
But I think more so than anything, this shows the impact that Trump is having on the Republican Party. This was a primary race that was very crowded. Everybody was working to out Trump one another. And only one candidate in that crowded field said it’s time for their party to move on from the false claims about the 2020 election. That shows something.
RADDATZ: He is not going away.
But we’ve got to go away right now. Sorry about that.
We’ll be right back.
RADDATZ: And that’s all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out “World News Tonight” and have a Happy Mother’s Day.
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