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Officials Give Update on Rescue Efforts in Condo Collapse; Supreme Court Upholds Arizona Voting Restrictions; Supreme Court Invalidates California Donor Disclosure Requirement. Aired 10-10:30a ET
Aired July 1, 2021 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twelve inches of movement and a large column hanging from the structure that could fall and cause damage to the support columns in the south terrain garage area.
Slight movement in the concrete floor slabs on the south side of the structure near the north and south corner of the building. It could cause additional failure of the building. Movement in a debris pile immediately adjacent to the south side of the structure (INAUDIBLE) data points and continued monitoring.
(INAUDIBLE) command will work with structural engineers and other subject matters experts to develop options for continued rescue operations.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Chief.
For Spanish, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Director of Median Public Relations Erika Benitez.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM (voice over): Stand by as we wait for updates. We do have our Boris Sanchez. And perhaps, Boris, we can put up the video that you obtained of that water pouring into the garage moments before the collapse of the building. Tell us as we're watching this now, Boris, how soon before the collapse did this take place?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Just minutes, Jim, minutes before the collapse took place. So this video comes from a pair of tourists that were visiting and they were staying at a hotel next door to the Champlain Towers South. And the wife, Adriana, says that she heard a loud sound and alerted her husband when they were outside on the pool deck and they ran into the street and captured this video.
And you see in the garage, there is running water pouring into the garage. There is debris there as well. They say that moments later they watched lights up and down the building turn on as residents were clearly woken up by the loud sound that Adriana heard, and of them many ran to their balconies. They tried to wave them down. She told her husband that she thought the tower was going to collapse. He said that doesn't happen in the United States. He was in disbelief that that would happen. They ultimately started walking back toward their building and that is when the tower came down.
And as I spoke to them yesterday, they were traumatized. The husband, Herberto, telling me that he doesn't remember anything except dust, concrete, glass and running for his life. They took videos of the scene immediately after. And you can hear Adriana breaking down and crying, saying that she couldn't believe what happened to the people that were on the balconies. She was having a hard time processing everything that she had seen, understandably so.
The two of them were bloodied and bruised but, ultimately, they were glad to escape in one piece, again, unmanageable moments from this couple that were staying next door and potentially a very important clue. That footage is going to be reviewed by investigators. It corroborates with what we've heard from other witnesses at the scene.
There was this report in the Miami Herald, the husband of a resident, a woman living in the building, says that she called him early on Thursday morning frantically complaining that the building was shaking and that she went out on her balcony and saw huge hole. She described it as a sinkhole near the pool. Moments later, Jim and Poppy, the line went dead. That woman remains missing.
SCIUTTO (voice over): Well, as we're watching, we're seeing the aftermath that took place just, well, minutes after. That video there, the warning signs are part of this story, 2018, 2019 and that video as well just before.
Let's listen in to questions at the press conference here. That is the fire chief you're seeing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Up until the stop of the search, our homicide and crime scene personnel has been on the scene. We have been recovered family members, and at times, we've recovered as well human remains. But right now, there is no process until we ensure that that site is secure so we can immediately get back to work and keep doing what we're doing.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: We have breaking news. The Supreme Court has just issued a ruling on a challenge to Arizona's voting law changes. Let's get to our Justice Correspondent Jessica Schneider for more.
A big decision, what did they rule.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Poppy and Jim, this is a major decision coming from the Supreme Court on voting rights and in particular how challengers to many of these restrictive voting bills around the country enacted by these Republican-led states, how they'll be able to challenge these laws in court.
[10:05:02] So, first of all, I'll tell you that the Supreme Court was ruling specifically on two Arizona laws. The Supreme Court upholding these two laws. These were one regulation, one law. The first regulation said that election officials had to discard ballots that were cast at the wrong polling precinct. The second was a law that actually made it a criminal offense to help in ballot collection, something that critics call ballot harvesting. And it said that anyone who wasn't a family member or a caretaker or an election worker could not help another person deliver their ballot to the right precinct. So, the Supreme Court saying that both of those regulations or laws were okay.
Now, that doesn't come as a big surprise because we know that these regulations or laws, they were in place for 2020 and 2016. There wasn't a big pushback against these regulations. In fact, the Biden administration even said that, okay, these laws might be okay. But what we're seeing in this opinion, is this a 6-3 opinion. This is the traditional conservatives versus the three liberal justices, and it appears, we are taking a closer look at the opinion, but the dissent here saying that the conservative majority is significantly weakening Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
Now why does this matter? Well, Section 2 is being increasingly used by voting rights groups to challenge a lot of these laws that have been enacted by Republican-led states. Because in the past several years, there has no longer been Section 5 in effect, Section 5 required that jurisdictions around the country that had a history of racial discrimination, they had to get any of these laws pre-cleared by either judges or the Justice Department.
But, in 2013, you'll remember the chief justice wrote an opinion for the conservative majority really gutting that provision and no longer requiring that these states go through the preclearance. So now that many of these states, in fact, the Brennan Center calculating that 43 states have enacted at least some sort of voting restriction, these states don't have to go through a pre-clearance. So the only real way to challenge these laws is through Section 2.
And progressives were hoping that the court here would not weaken the way that groups could challenge these laws and, in fact, guys, we're seeing in this 6-3 decision that, in fact, Section 2 has been weakened.
We're going through the final points of this decision and we'll get back to you guys on exactly how. But this is a defeat for people challenging these voting laws around the country. Guys?
SCIUTTO: We have Jeffrey Toobin joining us now.
At a critical time, frankly, this decision, a time when multiple state legislatures are passing laws that restrict the right to vote. So in 2013, Section 5 is weakened. No more federal oversight required, in effect, for these kinds of laws. Now Section 2, the provision of that, I'm just going to quote from the original voting rights legislation, which said that no voting regulation could be imposed that, quote, results in a denial or abridgment of the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color. So, Jeffrey, in legal terms explain how these justices and this decision has weaken that standard or that test?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, just to focus for a minute on the big picture here, every tenure of chief justice is known for certain things, like Earl Warren was chief justice. He was known as the civil rights period at the Supreme Court starting with Brown v Board of Education.
When we look back at the tenure of John Roberts, I think one of the signature accomplishments, and we'll see whether many people view it as an accomplishments, but one of the signature results of the Roberts court was destruction of the most important civil rights law in American history, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Because as we've been saying, in 2013, in the Shelby County case, the court really crippled, ended Section 5, which was the federal oversight provision.
And now with this decision today, we see the crippling of at least part of Section 2, which is the law that says the federal government or private parties can sue to stop election policies that have discriminatory results or discriminatory intent.
Now, this case is about discriminatory results. And what the case has -- what the case is going to do, and obviously, I haven't read the whole thing yet, it just came out moments ago, but it's going to make it much harder for plaintiffs to say, look, the law that you are -- you passed in Arizona or Iowa or Florida or Georgia or all of these cases where these new laws are in effect, it is going to be harder to prove that there were discriminatory results.
That is a big deal under all circumstances, but especially now when so many states are making it harder to vote, especially for black people.
HARLOW: So, to your point, Jeffrey, I keep thinking back to the Roberts decision when he wrote the majority opinion in Shelby County, and he said a large portion of the reasoning of the court was our country has changed, right? And remember, Justice Ginsburg warned that that was like throwing away your umbrella in a rain storm because you're not getting wet. Well, look at how big the rainstorm is now? Can you -- go ahead.
TOOBIN: Well, I mean, the rain started literally the next day after the Shelby County case was decided. The next day, after Shelby County, North Carolina and Texas, which North Carolina was then under total Republican control, Texas still is, started passing laws that made it harder to vote, limiting absentee balloting, limiting early voting, passing photo I.D. requirements. All of those restrictions started after Shelby County.
But now after President Trump's lies about what led to his loss in the 2020 election, all of these states are making a bad situation worse, are trying to restrict the laws even more.
Now, as we know, there have been attempts in Congress that are ongoing to strengthen the Voting Rights Act, essentially to overrule Shelby County, to overrule this decision, which is -- which was not a surprise. But those have failed because the Democratic majority of 50 doesn't have 60 votes to overcome a Republican filibuster and the Democratic Party at least so far has shown in the Senate has not been -- has not been willing to change the filibuster rules.
But I think, if anything, this law, this decision today will certainly strengthen those who say, look, we need to get rid of the filibuster because the Voting Rights Act is getting weaker and weaker all the time thanks to these judicial interpretations. We need to pass a revised Voting Rights Act. It is not happening now and it may not happen at all.
SCIUTTO: Also joining us, CNN Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash, also Gloria Browne-Marshall, she's a constitutional law professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, also author of the book, She Took Justice.
Dana, this is a Supreme Court decision, a legal decision with enormous political ramifications today, right? Because as poppy and Jeffrey Toobin were saying, these laws are already getting passed that will restrict voting coming up next year, and this appears to make it a whole heck of a lot harder to challenge those and at least it is the Republican Party's judgment that this helps them in that election and elections beyond.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: This appears to be the worst fears of Democrats and even those who are registered Republicans or Independents who are pushing for broader federal oversight over the way that states vote, the worst fear is coming true. And that is because, as you all have been discussing, already the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1965 was chipped away in a very big way in 2013.
And this is another important section that appears to be chipped away, and that is specifically protecting people for Section 2, specifically protects people and the results in denial or abridgment of the right of any citizen of the united states to vote on account of race or color.
So, what does it mean? This means, as Jeffrey was alluding to, all of the focus is on the United States Congress. It was before. But this even more so. Because what Shelby did in 2013 was make a ruling, but also put the ball back in Congress' court back then, saying if you want to update the law to make it more modern, from their perspective, and not written as it was back in 1965, please do it, and that is what John Lewis spent the last years of his life trying to do. That is why the bill that they are trying to push right now to reclaim federal over site has his name on it.
And so now I guarantee you my colleagues in the United States Senate, they are running towards Joe Manchin's office, they are running toward Kyrsten Sinema's office trying to find out what this means for them, because it is not theoretical, or it wasn't theoretical. It was already very real that the states were making changes that, you know, didn't necessarily comport with the idea of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. [10:15:08]
But this makes it even more real and the question even more pertinent.
HARLOW: As they run, they might carry part of the majority opinion with them, Gloria, to Dana's point, because -- sorry, the control room was just in my ear.
Okay. I'll get right back to you. Let me get to Jessica Schneider with the next opinion from the court. Jess?
SCHNEIDER: Yes. This final opinion of the term and this one, again, coming down 6-3. We're seeing this conservative majority really take hold of both of the decisions today. This next case, this last case of the term, it is allowing for charities not to have to disclose their donor information to the California attorney general. This is going to be a decision that concerns a lot of people concerned about dark money coming into the system.
So this was a regulation that was in place in California that made charities disclose their donor information to the attorney general's office only on a confidential basis. But two conservative groups here, Americas more Prosperity, which was affiliated with the Koch brothers, also the Thomas Moore Law Center, they challenged this, saying that this really chilled free speech, this might prevent donors from coming forward. Because even though the information would be disclosed to the attorney general on a confidential basis, there was a slight chance per leaks or hacks that maybe this information would get released.
So these groups have challenged it all the way to the Supreme Court. And now, the Supreme Court is saying that, yes, in fact, this regulation violates free speech, that these charities who are in California, operating in California, getting donors, they do not have to disclose the donor information to the California attorney general.
This is, once again, a big concern for people, allowing potentially dark money into the system that can't be accounted for. Notably, though, these groups do have to report this information to the federal government, to the IRS. So the donor information is still being reported, but this is coming down a 6-3 decision from a conservative court. This is an opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts.
And in the final two opinions of this term, guys, we are seeing really how this court is coming down. We saw some opinions earlier in the term, whether it pertained to the Affordable Care Act or student free speech or even religious liberties come down to some interesting vote totals, where the liberals in some cases did join. But now in these two cases concerning big issues of voting rights and dark money coming into the system, we're really seeing how this court is coming down, 6- 3, solidly conservative. Guys?
SCIUTTO: And remember history behind the 6-3, with Neil Gorsuch after Republican Senator Mitch McConnell denied President Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland, that is one justice, and then, of course, Barrett following a very late confirmation process in Donald Trump's term, which many Republicans said they would not have done so close to the election. Anyway, that gets you from 6-3 to 4-5 potentially the other direction.
Jeffrey Toobin, there you have it. This is a conservative court.
TOOBIN: You know, as it is often said, elections have consequences. And Donald Trump got elected president when he was able to fill three vacancies at the Supreme Court thanks to Mitch McConnell. He got the first one because McConnell stopped Barack Obama from filling the seat left by Antonin Scalia's seat and then got to fill the last one because he jammed through the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett in just a handful of days.
It is worth remembering that when both Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett were nominated, millions of dollars were spent from dark money operations on behalf of their nominations. Millions of dollars were spent on television commercials. We don't know who put up that money because the laws do not require disclosure of that.
Now, they do require disclosure of money donated to campaigns themselves. But as we all know, lots of money is spent in this country that is not technically given to campaign committees but given for political purposes, including the confirmation of Supreme Court nominees.
Well, the people who gave millions of dollars to support the nomination of Gorsuch, of Kavanaugh, of Barrett, they got what they paid for today, that's for sure, because they got the Supreme Court results they wanted and we still don't know who they are.
HARLOW: Let me as bring into this conversation our Supreme Court Analyst Joan Biskupic.
Joan, I'll to get all your thoughts on this because it was the chief justice who wrote this majority opinion. But I was in the middle of a question to Gloria, so let's finish that as we got that second opinion in and let's turn back, GLORIA to the Arizona voting decision.
As Dana said, you probably have senators running down to Manchin and Sinema's office saying what does it mean for the view of the filibuster and they're likely be carrying Alito's majority opinion here which reads that they believe that the lower court misunderstood and misapplied Section 2 in a way that it exceeded its authority. And then he writes this. This court has to right to remake Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, quote, but Congress gets to make that call because it has not done so, this court's duty is to apply the law as written, Gloria, putting it right on Congress.
GLORIA BROWNE-MARSHALL, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR, JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Well, here is the problem I have and I listed to the oral arguments in both of these cases. What we have is a court that is not giving any direction when it comes to Section 2. And so I think it is disingenuous on the part of the chief justice who, as we said before, was the one who wrote the opinion in Shelby County. His background was in voting rights. That is why he was the golden boy of the conservative movement, because in his days when he was a private attorney, he came up with theories that would gut the Voting Rights Act.
So what we've seen from the conservatives, and I have to give credit where credit is due, is a very good long-term gain that the progressives have not been using. The progressives go from election to election, where the conservatives are going generationally trying to have an eye toward what they want on the Supreme Court and what kind of laws they want to see in action.
And if I could very quickly then pivot over to Americans for Prosperity case, in that case, once again, we have this destruction of the Voting Rights Act for people of color. They have been moving the polling places in Arizona so that when people are showing up to the wrong polling place, and are having a law that says that ballot now will be discarded, because a person filed it in the wrong place, it is because these attempts to undermine voting is something that is very intentional.
And even intent was seen as one of the motivations behind the law to stop what they call harvesting of the ballots, having people just collect the ballots from Native Americans who live 45 miles away from certain polling places and then have those ballots sent in. Those things are now considered to be not only not allowed under voting rights law but criminal offenses.
So, the conservatives as Jeffrey has pointed out have struck a blow in two major areas of what we claim to be one of the shining lights of democracy.
SCIUTTO: Yes. Joan Biskupic, you are a biography of the chief justice, John Roberts, and you've often said to me, wisely as always, that despite some decisions by him that have disappointed the conservatives and given hope to liberals that perhaps he's a little more middle of the road, that at his core, he is a very conservative justice. In these two decisions, do you see that core coming through?
JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Absolutely, Jim. And I'll add one other to it. The partisan gerrymandering case from a couple of years ago when he wrote the majority opinion 5-4 to say that judges couldn't look at excessively partisan gerrymanders. That decision plus these two today cut to the heart of democracy.
This is exactly right, what you say about some moderate decisions, some of the things that we saw earlier this session. But if you want to define the Roberts court, you have to really look at these two.
And I'll start with voting rights because, as Gloria mentioned, this is part of his roots in the Reagan administration. He has always wanted to scale back. And when he wrote the Shelby County versus Holder decision back in 2013, gutting part of the law that said that states with a history of discrimination, and Arizona was on that list, had to get clearance for any electoral change.
When he wrote the decision, essentially eviscerating that, he said, but you always have Section 2, and that is what was at issue in this case. You always have the chance to come after the fact and say that these laws discriminate on the basis of race. But today, that provision is hallowed out.
And it comes surprisingly to me, given the chief's awareness of public sentiment, when everyone is so concerned about the franchise, and who is able to vote and all of these false claims about fraud. So I think you could combine that with the one he wrote today on the disclosures that could affect campaign contributions, add in the gerrymandering and this is a defining moment for the Roberts court.
And another thing, the conservatives are all so much younger than the liberals here. All three of the Trump appointees are going to be here for a generation. Jim?
HARLOW: Jeffrey Toobin --
TOOBIN: Just speaking of which, there is -- we have now completed this term of the Supreme Court as of about seven minutes ago, and let's talk about what has not happened.
TOOBIN: Stephen Breyer has not retired yet.
Now, one of the weird things, and Joan knows this as she has covered the court for longer than I have, there is no specific procedure that justices must follow in order to retire. Many justices who retire do it on the last day of the term. That is today. That is what Anthony Kennedy did. But some wait a few days, like Justice O'Connor waited a few days after the end of the term.
So the fact that Stephen Breyer, the 82-year-old Bill Clinton appointee, has not retired today doesn't mean -- or not retired yet today, does not mean he won't retire but the opportunity to fill that seat --
BISKUPIC: Well, let me just jump in. Can I jump in for a second?
BISKUPIC: Yes, let me just jump in. And want to say just so we're clear to viewers, we have seen no indication that Justice Stephen Breyer is going to retire today or any time soon. And I just want to stress that all the signs are frankly in the opposite direction. He certainly is trying to fight some of these battles. He's arranged some things for September when he'll be giving speeches. He's hired a contingent of clerks. So I would say that all indications for us are that he is not stepping down any time this week or at least in the upcoming weeks, just to clarify on that. SCIUTTO: Dana Bash, Democrats have been watching these decisions very closely, they did not go their way. Does this bring urgency among Democrats and particularly Joe Manchin to act now on voting rights and the filibuster?
BASH: Absolutely, and they do go hand in hand. Because on this particular issue, one of the open questions has been whether or not despite Joe Manchin and others opposition to doing away from the filibuster writ large, whether they could do a carve-out for this particular issue.
If their concern is about preserving democracy, and that is the argument that they make, when they, say we don't want to get rid of the filibuster because the Senate wasn't supposed to be like that and what happens when the Republicans are in charge and all of the arguments we've heard over and over again, then the pushback to them is, if you're so concerned about democracy, look at what the court said about these voting rights laws.
What the court said is that it is up to Congress to deal with it. Well, Congress can't deal with it if you have a party that is blocking this -- any legislation on this from going through.
And I want to say we have two rulings, these final rulings of the Supreme Court. Both of them have the substance of both of those are part of the Democrats, at least the House Democrats, and the majority Senate democrats legislation. And that is not only voting rights but how you deal with campaign finance laws. It is all tied together and it is all there ready for Congress to act on just as, Poppy, you read, the Supreme Court said, it is up to you.
SCIUTTO: It is not like -- not unlike the ruling right on the ACA, right, basically say, if you want to change it, do it in Congress. So we'll see if it happens there.
HARLOW: Thanks, everyone.
Next, mounting legal troubles for the Trump Organization. The CFO, Allen Weisselberg, surrendered this morning to prosecutors on criminal tax charges. The Trump Organization's response ahead.
SCIUTTO: Plus, in just minutes, President Joe Biden will visit Surfside, Florida, meet with families, first responders, still struggling with this tragedy. The pictures in there are just alarming. We're going to be live on the scene.