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Biden Will Speak with Israeli Prime Minister Today on Mideast Violence; Gay Officers Slam Decision to Ban NYPD From Pride Parade; Supreme Court Agrees to Take Up Major Abortion Case; Bill Gates Acknowledges Affair with Microsoft Staffer. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired May 17, 2021 - 15:30   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: The Ministry of Health there which is run by Hamas says the airstrikes have killed 212 people including 61 children since last Monday. And the Israeli military says rockets fired by Hamas have killed ten Israelis, including two children.

Biden's national security adviser tweeted today that the U.S. is, quote, engaged in quiet, intensive diplomacy.

A sentiment echoed by the White House press secretary just a short time ago.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Our calculation at this point is having those conversations behind the scenes, weighing in with our important strategic partnership we have with Israel, also with other countries in the region, is the most constructive approach we can take. So, our approach is through quiet, intensive diplomacy, and that's where we feel we can be most effective.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: But the quiet approach is not enough for more than two dozen U.S. Senators who are urging the Biden administration to do more. CNN's Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill for us. Manu, what do these members want?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, actually, they want a cease-fire. And just moments ago, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who is a prominent defender of Israel, the first Jewish Senate majority leader just joined those calls, joined actually a bipartisan call form last night for a cease-fire, the bipartisan call from Senators Chris Murphy and Todd Young. And what Chuck Schumer just told us that he agrees with that call for a cease-fire.

Saying, I agree with the statement put out by Senators Murphy and Young last night in its entirety. I want to see a cease-fire reached quickly and mourn the loss of life. Yes, this comes as 28 Democratic Senators, members of the Democratic

Caucus, from the most liberal, the independent Bernie Sanders who caucuses with Democrats to the more moderate members like Mark Warner, who is the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, all joined those calls for a cease-fire as well. Going further than the White House and putting more pressure on the Biden administration to join those calls.

Now, at the same time, the Biden administration has notified Congress that it actually wants to move forward with an arms sale to Israel, $735 million in precision-guided weapons.

Now that proposed sale was notified to Congress before this whole conflict took place, but the window is closing for the time that Congress can actually take steps and block that sale from going forward. So that means that it will almost certainly move ahead and has caused some concerns from the left side of the Democratic caucus, including in the House from Ilhan Omar in particular railing against the administration for potentially moving ahead with this.

But I just -- we just spoke with Chuck Schumer. I asked him directly, do you support the $735 million arms sale from the U.S. to Israel? And he would not respond -- guys.

BLACKWELL: And we know that the president says that he's speaking with Prime Minister Netanyahu today. We'll see if we get a readout of that call and those two around it. Manu Raju, thanks.

CAMEROTA: Next, gay officers serving in the NYPD slamming the decision from the city's Pride Parade organizers to ban them from participating. One of those officers is going to join us live next.



CAMEROTA: The theme for this summer's New York City Pride Parade and celebration is "the fight continues," but they're getting a different kind of fight than they intended. This one is coming from a group of LGBTQ police officers who are pushing back against the decision to ban them from the parade.

Sergeant Ana Arboleda is here, she's the Vice President of the Gay Officers Action League. Sergeant thanks so much for being here. Just explain this to me. Your organization is made up of gay police officers. You all have worked for years to fight discrimination and harassment. Why are you being excluded from the Gay Pride Parade?

SERGEANT ANA ARBOLEDA, VICE PRESIDENT, GAY OFFICERS ACTION LEAGUE: First and foremost, good afternoon and thank you for having me. One of the reasons why we're being excluded from marching in this year and the forthcoming years is because we are police officers.

CAMEROTA: And you call that decision shameful. What part is most offensive? ARBOLEDA: I think the most offensive and shameful part for me and for

us as members of the Gay Officers Action League is to be discriminated by our own community. And because of the profession we chose to do.

You know, we chose this profession, at least I chose this profession is to be able to make true changes within law enforce enforcement. And that's something that goal truly strives for and that's something that we will continue to do regardless of everything else that's going on.

CAMEROTA: Let me explain to you what they say their reasoning is, so the organizers of the celebration and the parade, why they're banning all of you guys.

They say the sense of safety that law enforcement is meant to provide can instead be threatening and at times dangerous to those in our community who are most often targeted with excessive force and/or without reason. New York City Pride is unwilling to contribute in any way to creating an atmosphere of fear or harm for members of the community. What's your response?

ARBOLEDA: At the end of the day, listen, we are the community that we serve. And yes, I am a police officer, but at the same time, I'm more than that. And we are more than that. We are them. We are everything else. You know, I'm also gay, I'm also, you know, I'm also a Latina woman. I'm also a sister, a daughter. So there's so many hats that I wear, and that my community wears and that all the officers within the NYPD wear.


So, to be secluded for one aspect of my life, it's shameful.

CAMEROTA: Sergeant, do you feel like you're being held responsible for Derek Chauvin and just any of the other bad cops out there?

ARBOLEDA: You know, I can't really touch a lot on that, but at the end of the day, they made a decision and we are just dealing with the decisions that they made.

CAMEROTA: Yes, I mean, basically what they're saying is that they don't want a police presence on the scene of the parade. I mean, even if you're participating in the parade. What they've said is that I mean God forbid, anything goes wrong during the parade, they will rely on the use of private security personnel. Does that make sense?

ARBOLEDA: Listen, at the end of the day, this is a decision that they made, but equally they know that there's no large city scale event being held in New York City without police presence. And that's something that they know and that everyone knows.

So whether they decide to get private security or whatever it is that the means they're trying to secure, you know, the participants and everyone attending the parade, it's really a choice that they have made.

CAMEROTA: But meaning police will be there, whether they want them or not?

ARBOLEDA: Again, I can't speak on behalf of the NYPD, but just large events, there's always police presence.

CAMEROTA: Well, sergeant, we really appreciate you coming in and giving your perspective on this. We hope that this can get resolved. I know that you all are fighting for that, too.

ARBOLEDA: Yes, yes, we are. And thank you so much again for having me.

CAMEROTA: OK, sergeant -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right, next, the Supreme Court with its new conservative majority agrees to take up a controversial abortion law in Mississippi. And it could have major implications around the country.



BLACKWELL: The Supreme Court has announced that it will take up a major abortion case next term that could potentially have some implications for Roe v. Wade. The case concerns a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks, but the effects, the implications from a decision could reach far beyond the single case, and of course, a single state.

Joining us now, CNN Supreme Court reporter Ariane de Vogue. Just first let's start with the significance of this announcement.

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Right, this is significant. This is the biggest abortion case the Supreme Court has taken since 1992. And of course, it has to do, like you said, with this Mississippi law that bars most abortions after 15 weeks. There are some exceptions, but not for rape, not for incest.

And critics here say that this is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade. And what's really important here is that the lower courts that blocked this law, and it is blocked for now, they also cited Roe v. Wade. But Mississippi is asking this conservative court to step in here. And what's really interesting to see is now we really know what direction this new court is going. Right, because last term Chief Justice John Roberts he sided with the liberals to block a Louisiana law.

But now of course we've Justice Amy Coney Barrett on this court, as well as Justice Clarence Thomas who has out and out said that he thinks Roe v. Wade should be reversed.

So now what we're looking at is the Supreme Court's next term is going to take up this case. Supporters of abortion rights have already said that this calls for alarm. They're very worried today. Whereas conservatives feel like they're in a good place now with this particular court hearing this case as states across the country are passing these more and more strict abortion laws.

BLACKWELL: Important, indeed. Ariane de Vogue for us there. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Still ahead, new reports about Bill Gates, suggest that his personal life was bleeding into his professional life more than we ever knew. We have his response.

BLACKWELL: Plus, that tiger. Oh, the tiger.

CAMEROTA: Where is it?

BLACKWELL: Well finally, we know. The one that got loose in a Houston neighborhood has now safely arrived at an animal sanctuary. And Carole Baskin, you know, from "Tiger King," she's now talking about whether she'll pay out the $5,000 reward that she offered.



CAMEROTA: OK, now to two to four things, other things that we're talking about today.

First, in the wake of his divorce announcement Bill Gates now facing new allegations that he acted inappropriately in the office for years. CNN's Christine Romans has the details.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Microsoft founder Bill Gates facing misconduct accusations for a relationship he had with a Microsoft engineer starting in 2000, that's according to "The Wall Street Journal."

The paper found that his March 2020 resignation from the tech company's board of directors followed an investigation into the affair by an outside law firm hired by the board. The Microsoft board became aware of the affair in 2019 after the employee sent a letter detailing the relationship, "The Journal" reports. During the probe, some board members thought it was no longer flitting for Gates to continue his role with the company "The Journal" said, citing people familiar with the matter.

A spokesperson for Microsoft telling CNN a committee of the board reviewed the concern aided by an outside law firm to conduct a thorough investigation. Throughout the investigation Microsoft provided extensive support to the employee who raised the concern.

A spokesperson for Gates admitted to the relationship telling "The Journal," quote there was an affair almost 20 years ago which ended amicably. His decision to transition off the board was in no way related to this matter.

BILL GATES, FOUNDER OF MICROSOFT: Well, because you have to go some distance, you can't get it nearby.

ROMANS (voice over): At the time Gates announced his resignation he said it was out of a desire to focus on his philanthropic work. In another report "The New Tork Times" reported that Gates developed a reputation for questionable conduct in work related settings.


Adding that on at least a few occasions Mr. Gates pursued women who worked for him at Microsoft and at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. "The Times" citing people with direct knowledge of the overtures.

Gates' spokesperson denied any mistreatment of the employees to "The Times" and said it's extremely disappointing that there have been so many untruths published about the cause, the circumstances and the timeline of Bill Gates' divorce.

These revelations come just weeks after Gates and his wife Melinda announced they were divorcing after 27 years of marriage.

GATES: In the case of Melinda, it's a, you know, truly equal partner.

ROMANS (voice over): The couple met in 1987 while she was working at Microsoft.

MELINDA GATES, HUSBAND OF BILL GATES: I was new to Microsoft. There were a lot of men there, and you know, you -- you still are looking around, you know. You're still figuring it out.

BILL GATES: But after about a year of that, you know, sort of to our surprise, certainly my surprise, you know, we said, hey, I love you, and she said she loved me.

ROMANS: These new reports come after "The Wall Street Journal" reported Melinda Gates was meeting with divorce lawyers in 2019 after revelations about her husband's connection with accused sex trafficker with Jeffrey Epstein.

Now sources told "The Journal" that Gates' concerns about her husband's relationship with Epstein dated back to 2013, especially because Melinda Gates is a global advocate for women and girls.

CNN has not confirmed this or any allegations cited by "The Journal" and "The Times." In New York, I'm Christine Romans.


CAMEROTA: Well Victor, suddenly the surprise divorce announcement comes into sharper focus and starts making a little bit more sense.

BLACKWELL: Yes, I mean, it is curious that after all this time that they are getting a divorce. Let me just point out. These folks don't owe us an explanation for why they are ending their marriage at all. They can just decide it's over and that's fine with us. But I just hope that they continue the work they are doing. So much good has come out of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

CAMEROTA: That is an excellent point, yes, that regardless of what happens in their love lives, that is true.


So let's turn to Ohio. A lot of people in Ohio are turning toward the vaccine because the state is using the lure of $1 million lottery to get more people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Starting tomorrow, the website goes live. And Ohioans 18 and older who have at least one dose have to opt in there for a chance to win $1 million. Each of five adult winners will be named at a drawing that will happen Monday and every Monday after that for five Mondays starting May 24th.

CAMEROTA: Oh, and kids can play too. Ohio residents aged 12 to 17 can register for a shot at winning a scholarship to any public college or university in Ohio. Listen to this, Victor. State officials say that they are already seeing a difference. Friday, OK, after this lottery was announced they saw the highest number of vaccinations in three weeks.

I have two big thoughts on this. First, why do we have to pay people to care about their own health and their neighbor's health?


CAMEROTA: And two, it's working, so let me just get out of the way.

BLACKWELL: So the answer to one, see number two.

CAMEROTA: Exactly, that's right.

BLACKWELL: I guess, I mean, listen, there are probably people there who had their shots already and asked can they get a third. A million dollars on the line and free college education. Listen, money works as a great incentive even if it's for your own health. Some people are, you know, you got to pay them to do the right thing and this is apparently working.

CAMEROTA: Exactly. OK, now to an update on that Bengal tiger.

BLACKWELL: I'm so glad this tiger story is almost done. I'm so happy about this. Go ahead.

CAMEROTA: OK. But in a few more seconds it'll be done.


CAMEROTA: It had been roaming as you'll recall through a Houston suburb, it's now safely, Victor, at an animal sanctuary. Houston Police say they got a call from a concerned citizen, and it led them to the tiger's whereabouts. That concerned citizen was apparently a local businesswoman who tells CNN she helped the wife of the tiger's caretaker turn in the animal. Her business is licensed to exhibit exotic animals.

BLACKWELL: So nine-month-old India is in quarantine at a sanctuary owned and operated by the Humane Society of the U.S. Now that's to make sure that she doesn't have any diseases she could pass on to other animals there.

Carole Baskin, you know the name, the owner of a tiger rescue facility featured in "Tiger King" on Netflix says that she still may pay the reward that she offered for India's safe return.


CAROLE BASKIN, FOUNDER AND CEO, BIG CAT RESCUE: So my -- my $5,000 reward is one that the cat go to an accredited sanctuary, check, they got that part right. And the other part was that they bring to justice the people involved in the sale and transfer of this cat. Because I believe that there was illegal activity involved. I think that's why they have been hiding who has been involved in this. And I want to know, where was this cat born? Who sold this cat to them nine months ago as they said they've had it for nine months?

You know that they did not get it for free if they got it as a newborn cub. Because they are valuable for the first 16 months that people can pimp them out.

So as soon as that part of it is met, I'm happy to pay whoever is involved in it.


CAMEROTA: And it's officially done.

BLACKWELL: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: You're welcome. Not a minute too soon. It could have turned into a cat-tastrophe but it didn't. He's not playing (ph).

BLACKWELL: Not even going to respond to that. The Lead with Jake Tapper starts right now.