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COVID-19 And Variants Spreading Rapidly Among Unvaccinated Americans; White House Criticizes Social Media Companies For Allowing Misinformation About COVID-19 Vaccines To Proliferate; NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo To Be Questioned By Investigators Into Sexual Misconduct Allegations; Suspect Arrested For Kidnapping Attempt In New York; Republicans Criticize Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred For Moving All-Star Game From Atlanta Due To Georgia Voting Law; Britney Spears Allowed To Hire Own Attorney In Conservatorship Legal Battle. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired July 17, 2021 - 14:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: A museum of remembrance, and a lasting memorial in a city that has witnessed thousands of years of history.

Wolf Blitzer, CNN, Washington.


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Don't miss the CNN original series "Jerusalem, City of Faith and Fury" premiering tomorrow at 10:00 eastern and pacific only on CNN.

All right, hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We begin with the country in crisis once again. COVID cases are rising in all 50 states. And while the number of cases is surging, the rate of vaccination is dropping, a recipe for disaster in America. The White House says one major reason for the problem is misinformation and social media platforms that aren't doing enough to stop it.

Joe Johns joining me now from the White House. So Joe, what can you tell us about how the Biden administration plans to address this misinformation problem?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: They're calling on social media, Fred, to essentially pick up the pace on trying to figure out a way to enforce rules on misinformation. As you know, this has always been a very plain-spoken president, Joe Biden, and the fact of the matter is it was more blunt than usual, if you will, when the president was on his way this weekend to Camp David talking about the problem with misinformation and social media. Listen.


JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They're killing people. It really -- look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated. And they're killing people.


JOHNS: Now, Facebook pushed back very quickly, saying essentially that they are not going to be distracted by accusations unsupported by facts, but that essentially is one of the big questions here. They've also said they've put out enough information that almost 2 billion people have seen authoritative information, if you will, on COVID-19 as well as vaccines.

On the other hand, the administration has been pushing, saying our problem with you is that you're not cracking down on misinformation, rather, sure, putting out a lot of information, but not cracking down on misinformation.

So what they want here at the White House is to get some type of an enforcement strategy from social media as well as some sense of the metrics, real numbers as to how much information, misinformation, is out there, and what to do about it. We have been told that the meetings between Facebook and the administration have been tense. Fred, back to you.

WHITFIELD: OK, Joe Johns at the White House, thanks so much.

So we've talked a lot about the big lie that former President Trump and his allies have been pushing about the last election. Well, it may be time to talk about the big lie about COVID vaccinations. That's the idea that the vaccine is dangerous and the virus isn't. Also a lie, that people should pay more attention to rumors on social media than public health officials. Those lies are literally costing people their lives.

Let's talk about this with Brian Stelter, CNN chief media correspondent and anchor of RELIABLE SOURCES. Brian, always good to see you. So you've been following the election big lie since November, we all have been, but how has it now evolved into so much misinformation on vaccines as well?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Right, we've seen something happen where it's going from one lie to a dozen of them. And I'm sad but not surprised to see it, Fred, because these disinformation campaigns are connected. In the same way you had Trump and others lying about the election, we have these anti-vax propagandists lying about vaccines. And they're taking advantage of this same distrust. They're taking advantage of the same platforms like Facebook and FOX.

And so these kinds of lies, this disinformation, they are related, they are connected. And I think it's really valuable that we're talking about them in a connected way, because that's the only way to really get our arms around the problem. Just ultimately, it's a societal problem. This is a problem about our neighbors and our friends and our family members. It's a very personal issue, especially on vaccines, Fred.

WHITFIELD: And it's confusing, too, because many of the people who claim to be Trump followers who believe the big lie, they're believing the lie about vaccines too, but are they forgetting that the president himself was vaccinated? So if vaccines are ineffective, then why is it the former president got a vaccine and they're OK with that?

STELTER: Yes, I think it's the kind of inconvenient truths that you discard or you ignore, and then you play up what you want to believe, which is the skepticism, the reasons for doubt, that have been addressed by doctors hundreds and hundreds of times.


We see Biden and the White House focusing on Facebook this weekend, but I think we should recognize the issue is so much broader than a single platform. Yes, Facebook should be scrutinized, and we don't have enough visibility into Facebook. A lot of the vaccine disinformation spreading in relatively black boxes, these private groups, private Facebook groups that you and I can't find unless we are a member.

So the Facebook problem is real, and I'm just booked for RELIABLE SOURCES tomorrow a former Facebook vice president who is breaking his silence because he feels like the company is not doing enough to study the problems. He says --

WHITFIELD: Interesting.

STELTER: -- they don't want to know the truth. They don't want to know what's going on inside their platform.

But I do just want to say, it is bigger than Facebook. This is simple as a text message from a friend, and it's as complicated as a propaganda campaign coordinated on Facebook and Twitter.

WHITFIELD: As it pertains to Facebook and that booking you have, while Facebook has saying that they removed more than 18 million pieces of COVID misinformation, what we don't know is, that's a percentage of how much information that continues to flow on Facebook.

STELTER: Exactly.

WHITFIELD: And while we just heard from our Joe Johns that the meetings are tense between White House officials and Facebook, still at issue is this ocean of misinformation is vast. And if 18 million pieces of misinformation have been retrieved, what about the rest that continues to circulate?

STELTER: Right. Think about it this way. If you hear one or two or three claims about the vaccines, you hear something that's false about fertility, you hear something that's false about the experimental nature of the vaccines, you hear one or two or three false pieces of information and it's enough to make you hesitate.

However, the good news, I think, is that you can present real and accurate and reliable information, and that especially is most important at the ground level. Anchors on CNN and MSNBC and NBC at this point are not going to change the vaccination rates. What's going to change the vaccination rates are friends and family,

loved ones in community talking with one another on an individual basis. And by the way, that's where Facebook can also be valuable, because that's where those conversations can happen, on social media, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Yes. While Facebook being put to task, there are other social media platforms that are being challenged as well. But then there's another television network that is constantly being challenged or being held under the microscope. Here's FOX News' Tucker Carlson also who has been accused many times, and the evidence is there, about helping to push bad information.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: If the vaccine is so great, wouldn't it sell itself? Why should people who have recovered from COVID-19, and there are millions of them in this country, who are immune to the virus, why should they be forced to get the vaccine? What's the answer? What is the harm rate from the vaccine?


WHITFIELD: All right, so this is very dangerous.

STELTER: He's asking questions but he's not answering them. The harm rate for the vaccine is extraordinarily low. These vaccines are miracles. Instead, Carlson pretends to just ask questions in order to sow doubt, in order to cause distrust, in order to cause even less and less connection between people. It is very, very damaging. It's been going on for months, and it needs to be called out in the same way the Biden White House is calling out Facebook.

Rupert Murdoch, the owner of FOX Corporation, was vaccinated in Britain in like January. He's been vaccinated for months. Tucker Carlson probably has been as well, though he won't even admit whether he's been vaccinated. So he's keeping secrets from his audience. He's hiding the truth from his audience, and he's pretending to ask questions when he's actually trying to sow doubt. And that is so disturbing.

Ultimately, it's about a lack of leadership at FOX. Murdoch has been vaccinated, but he's not ensuring that the accurate information gets out on his network, and that is a crying shame.

WHITFIELD: Brian Stelter, thank you so much. Of course, we'll be watching tomorrow. Can't wait for that interview with the former Facebook exec on RELIABLE SOURCES tomorrow, 11:00 a.m. eastern.

All right, Earlier today, I spoke with Georgia -- U.S. Senator of Georgia, Jon Ossoff, about his concerns with vaccine misinformation and the role social media plays in stoking the fears.


SEN. JON OSSOFF (D-GA): Misinformation is dangerous, and there's a lot of misinformation out there. I think that politicians should be cautious about demanding certain forms of speech and expression be removed from public platforms. My principle concerns about these social media platforms are rooted in their invasion of privacy.

And one of the things I'm working on right now is trying to build support across the aisle in the Senate for a new privacy legislation to ensure that the data of American citizens is not exploited against our will.

Right now, using these platforms, they learn so much about us, who we are, what we like, where we go, who we spend our time with, that data is exploited and monetized, and we lose control of it. I think we need strong privacy legislation at the federal level to protect our privacy.

WHITFIELD: You've heard critics of the president's comment saying that the White House should not be interfering with private enterprise. What's your response to that?


OSSOFF: Well, look, as I said, I think that politicians should be generally cautious about demanding that speech be curtailed in the public square. I also do recognize, of course, that misinformation, for example, about vaccines, can have a serious negative impact on the public health effort. So there's a balance to be struck here.

But when it comes to my obligations as a legislator, when I consider what I believe to be the most destructive aspects with how some of these social media platforms engage, I'm really focused on protecting the privacy of the American people.


WHITFIELD: Senator Ossoff there also urging his Republican colleagues to encourage Americans to get vaccinated and push the safety of the COVID vaccine.

All right, coming up, a moment of reckoning for New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo, facing off with his state's top prosecutor over allegations of sexual harassment. He's being asked a lot of questions that he is to answer today.

And then you've got to see this, a close call involving a child, an attempted kidnapping right there, right in front of the boy's family.



WHITFIELD: The sexual harassment investigation into New York governor Andrew Cuomo is entering a critical new phase today. He'll face questions from the two lawyers leading the New York attorney general's probe. Polo Sandoval is following these developments for us from New York. Polo, what should we expect to come out of today's questioning? POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We know, Fred, as we're waiting for

any potential developments to come out of here, it's really important to also remind our viewers how we got here, and what this means for Governor Cuomo. This is his chance to share his account with two lawyers who are leading this investigation to actually -- for him to share the account.

Now, in terms of this interview, it also could be a big sign that the probe could almost be coming to a close here. Over the last five months it's been going on. Remember, New York's A.G. Letitia James opened this inquiry after two former Cuomo staffers came forward accusing the governor of inappropriate behavior. And since then, more women have also made claims against him.

Cuomo has denied these allegations. He's apologized, however, to anyone who says that may have misinterpreted his remarks as unwanted flirtation. CNN has reported there are several other women who have spoken to investigators already, and in fact, more than one. So at this point, some of the reporting that we're getting here is that lawyers are certainly going to speaking to Cuomo, too, as this investigation does move forward.

The governor seems to be one of the last people that they need to actually sit down with before compiling the report. Now, in terms of when we might get this report, the A.G.'s office says that right now there is no timeline on when it would be released. Ahead of today's questioning, Governor Cuomo's senior adviser did release a statement reading in part, "We have said repeatedly that the governor doesn't want to comment on this review until he has cooperated, but the continued leaks are more evidence of the transparent political motivation of the attorney general's review."

By the way, those motivations that he is suggesting in the comment are that attorney general may actually be putting her name into the governor's race next year, but Fred, that's something that we have certainly not confirmed as we wait for any potential developments coming out of Albany. Back to you.

WHITFIELD: Polo Sandoval, thank you so much.

A 24-year-old suspect has now been arrested after a brazen kidnapping attempt in New York, and the whole thing was caught on camera. Take a look. You can see a man popping out of his car, grabbing a five-year- old right there off the street in Queens. And N.J. Burkett from our affiliate WABC in New York talked to the boy's mother about what happened next.


DELORES DIAZ LOPEZ: I say, oh my God, my kids. Oh my god, my boys.

N.J. BURKETT, WABC, NEW YORK: Dolores Diaz Lopez told us she grabbed her son and wouldn't let go. She was walking with her three children on Hillside Avenue at 8:00 last night. The entire episode captured on surveillance video. As they're walking, a man bursts out of a car and runs to the sidewalk. He grabs Dolores' youngest son Jacob, carries him away, and literally

tosses the boy into the backseat. Dolores and her other two children struggle through an open window, desperately trying to pull him out. And within seconds, the boy breaks free and is back in his mother's arms. As the car takes off, eyewitnesses are powerless to stop it.

"A mother's instinct made me fight and act in a different way," she told us. "You have to do what's necessary no matter what." "The car was just parked there," she said. "I would never have imagined that a man would get out of the car and grab my son."

Jacob is five years old and was playing video games on his phone this afternoon. But Dolores says all three of her children are traumatized and refuse to leave the house.

"Mothers have to be careful with their children," she said. "Always hold their hand when walking with them because there are a lot of evil people, and you never know who is near."


WHITFIELD: My goodness. That was reporter N.J. Burkett from our affiliate in New York, WABC.

Up next, returning to our top story, and two states both struggling to get the pandemic under control. We'll go live to both next.



WHITFIELD: Concerns are mounting as the coronavirus is spreading even more rapidly across the U.S. Cases now rising in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In Alabama, there is an urgent effort under way to get more people vaccinated. The state has the lowest percentage of vaccinations in the country. CNN's Natasha Chen is in Birmingham. So Natasha, school starts there in just a matter of weeks. What are people doing there to prepare for that?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, it's all about messaging right now. Today, we are outside now of a vaccine clinic that happened at Parker High School's gym. They just wrapped up. They told me that they actually vaccinated 107 people today. It doesn't sound like a huge number, but it is actually the highest they've had of any of their school-based clinics throughout the summer.

Now, with these school-based clinics, they've probably reached several hundred people in the community. But imagine, the school district tells me that in Birmingham, they have 10,000 students grades seven and up, so potentially 10,000 eligible students, but they've only reached several hundred through these clinics. Hopefully, some of them have gone to other providers to get the shot.


But what we're sensing from the health officials especially is that they're seeing a lot of pushback from people who have a lot of questions, who are scared of getting the vaccine. We met one mother and daughter today who came and got vaccinated, both of them had COVID-19 back in February, had a terrible experience.

The mom said that she finally decided to come because the Delta variant is spreading, and the daughter had to follow along because mom told her to. The daughter is part of a cheer squad where some of the girls still haven't gotten the shot. Here's what she told us.


KENNEDI BROWN, RISING SOPHOMORE AT A.H. PARKER HIGH SCHOOL IN BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA: I would tell them to get it for their safety, because it will help fight off anything if they have it. Most of my friends, they parents don't make them do anything. So it's really their choice. But my mom made me come get it.


CHEN: Her mom made her. And of course, the support of her friends made it easier, though she was scared. Some of the friends of hers who have not gotten vaccinated told me that even with their own family members having experienced COVID-19 in the past year, they are still very skeptical about what this vaccine does to their bodies.

So it is a lot about education right now and dispelling a lot of the myths that are circulating out there to try to get to this younger demographic. The 18 to 29-year-olds especially in the state of Alabama, just under a quarter of them have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine.

The state health department has launched a TikTok contest to try and get younger people to share their experiences of why they've gotten vaccinated, hoping that contest and a chance to win some money might get the word out there, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, Natasha Chen, thank you so much.

Arkansas is another state that is struggling to reach a vaccination rate of 40 percent. In 20 percent of the COVID patients admitted to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences are unvaccinated women who are either pregnant or recently had a baby.


DR. CAM PATTERSON, CHANCELLOR, UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS FOR MEDICAL SCIENCES: We've had several bypass to get them through COVID-19 infection. We have had to induce labor early. We've had a number of testimonials from our moms who realize that while they had the best intentions for their babies in mind, they made the wrong decision by not getting vaccinated, and they regret it.


WHITFIELD: Joining me now, Dr. Joe Thompson, president and CEO of the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement. He was also the first surgeon general of Arkansas and a pediatrician. So good to see you, Dr. Thompson. So why is there a spike in unvaccinated pregnant women with COVID?

DR. JOE THOMPSON, PRESIDENT AND CEO, ARKANSAS CENTER FOR HEALTH IMPROVEMENT: Well, we're seeing across the state just this Delta variant is racing through unprotected communities. And apparently, for women that are pregnant, and their body is stressed, carrying the unborn child or either not recovered after having had the child, this variant is more aggressive, and is resulting in more hospitalizations and bad outcomes. This is really a call to action for younger adults, younger individuals to recognize that the threat is real and may affect them.

WHITFIELD: And in fact, the Arkansas Department of Health has put out this PSA on vaccines. Let's listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It can be deadly. I almost died from it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got vaccinated the day my daughter was born because the doctor said that that would be the best thing that I could do for her health and mine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My thoughts have definitely changed on the vaccine. I do believe getting vaccinated is the safest thing to do for your family.


WHITFIELD: So do you believe this PSA campaign is effective?

THOMPSON: I think we've got to pull out all stops. We have almost as many active cases in children below 17 in we do over age 65 now. I've been talking to superintendents this week, and we're going to try to send out a joint letter to parents encouraging those that are eligible to get vaccinated.

We're only at a 16 percent rate, so we've got a looming crisis in just a few weeks as schools come back together. We are going over a cliff in our state, and we must move people from unprotected state to a protected state through vaccinations.

WHITFIELD: So Arkansas was one of the first states to relax COVID mandates, and since then there have been a lottery, scholarships. The governor put out a series of tweets this week, stressing the need to get vaccines in arms. But in your view, is this kind of a consequence of mixed messages, relaxed restrictions on one hand and then now this urgency of people to get vaccinated, and people are kind of picking and choosing?

THOMPSON: I think it's a combination of several factors. This was incredibly polarized politically.

[14:30:00] There was and continues to be active efforts to misinform or mislead people that causes fear. People in rural parts of our state didn't get hit as hard as the central part of our state in the first and second and third surge, but we're now in one that is racing across all communities, and I'm afraid it's going to cause true harm to families across our state.

WHITFIELD: So what are your biggest concerns as schools are soon to open, kids will be there. Vaccination rate, you said, is very low, 16 percent, and so that would include those that are 12 and up. But what do you suppose the safety is going to be like in schools?

THOMPSON: Well, our education department and health department are to put out guidance, and in local schools we'll have to tailor that to what works for them. Again, I was with many of the superintendents that they're meeting this week, and they are concerned that this year's reentry to school may be worse and more difficult than last year's because of the Delta variant and its effectiveness at attacking younger kids, and also the lack of protection that our children have for those that could be vaccinated.

WHITFIELD: Do you think a mask mandate should be put in place, and particularly for school districts?

THOMPSON: I think all tools have to be back on the table. Unfortunately, our general assembly has prohibited any public entity from putting a mask mandate in effect. So part of my activity has been talking with legislators to encourage them, plead with them to reconsider that prohibition and get it out of the way in case we need to use it as schools open up this fall.

WHITFIELD: Dr. Joe Thompson, thank you so much.

All right, it is the new four-letter word for politicians and companies -- "woke." We'll talk about why so many are terrified of getting that label.

And a legal for singer Britney Spears as she fights for freedom from her legal conservatorship.



WHITFIELD: This week, battles on the baseball diamond and the political arena playing out at the same time. Republicans honing their attack on Major League Baseball and Democrats during the All-Star game. You might remember the league moved the game from Atlanta to Denver in protest of Georgia's new restrictive voting measures earlier in the year. Georgians watching the game saw this during the commercial breaks.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Commissioner Rob Manfred moved the All-Star game from Atlanta, parroting dishonest partisan talking points. Why is he making baseball political, anyway? Because of his terrible record -- viewership way down, ticket prices way up, sketchy deals in China. And Manfred has been so bad that Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders agree, maybe the league should pay taxes like everyone else.

Rob Manfred, Major League Baseball, serve your customers, not woke politicians.


WHITFIELD: Joining me right now to talk about this, political reporter for "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution," Greg Bluestein. Greg, so good to see you. So Republicans have been crying foul about the move out of Atlanta since the MLB's decision earlier in the year, but the ad that we just watched was a direct assault on the league and its commissioner. Why and how has it come to this?

GREG BLUESTEIN, POLITICAL REPORTER, "ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION": Yes, and that's just one of I think half-a-dozen or so different ads that ended up attacking Major League Baseball and Democrats, for Republicans trying to pin the blame on Democrats for that switcheroo. If there's a singular rallying cry right now in Georgia Republican politics, it is that.

It is an attack against woke politicians. It's an attack against cancel culture. It's something Republicans feel like can energize their base ahead of 2022 elections when Republicans are trying to reverse Democratic gains that we saw in the Senate runoffs in January and in November's presidential results.

WHITFIELD: The non-profit group behind the ad called Consumers Research is also making an ad campaign against Coca-Cola. The executive director told FOX News this week that they want companies to focus on consumers, not politics. But in this hyper-politicized world, can companies or sports leagues really afford not to weigh in?

BLUESTEIN: That's been a big debate here in Georgia because Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines, the two probably most iconic Georgia brands across the world, both came out critical of those new election restrictions after Governor Kemp had already signed them into law.

And so there's been boycotts and threats of counterboycotts against other companies that didn't come out against it. It puts corporations in a very unique bind, too, because they don't like to pick sides in political fights. But to many, especially voting rights advocates, the issue of free and fair elections rises above partisan politics.

WHITFIELD: Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock, who helped push the Democrats into control of Senate after a runoff in January, is up for reelection next year. Will these kinds of ads attacking the wokeness of sports work for Republicans?

BLUESTEIN: They are trying to attack him and Stacey Abrams, who's expected to amount a rematch against Governor Brian Kemp next year. They're pitting both of them directly in league with Major League Baseball in trying to blame them for this switch. And of course, what they say is that they had nothing to do -- that they actually encouraged Major League Baseball to stay put.


And they're also encouraging companies that are having second thoughts about moving to Georgia and film companies, because Georgia is one of the main places for filming TVs and commercials, to stay put, to continue investing in Georgia, but also to invest in efforts to expand voting rights through various groups out there.

WHITFIELD: And Governor Kemp has, in fact, he just announced that he is indeed throwing his hat into the ring for reelection. Stacy Abrams, as you mentioned, has not yet, though, declared that she is certainly making a run for it.

So there's still a lot of questions about who will emerge as the challenger against Warnock in the midterms. Former football star Herschel Walker has teased a run of some sort. He has the support of former President Trump. We saw former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville make leap from sports to Washington, now a senator for Alabama. Is there an appetite in Georgia for a former athlete such as Herschel Walkerto be in office?

BLUESTEIN: I think there's such an appetite that the Republican field is pretty frozen right now as many big name Republicans are waiting to see what Herschel Walker decides to do. And it's helped by the fact that former President Donald Trump is openly encouraged him to run. So if he enters, he would likely enter with Donald Trump's endorsement, which in Republican politics in Georgia is still very, very influential.

And so that left former Senator Kelly Loeffler, Congressman Buddy Carter, and others waiting to see what Herschel will do until they decide. But the complicating factor of this is Herschel Walker lives in Texas. So he'd have to move back to Georgia.

He'd have to put together a campaign apparatus. He'd have to let voters and grassroots organizers and the media know where he stands on key positions because he's never run for public office before, and we don't know where he stands on issues ranging from abortion to gun rights to -- you name it, we don't know where he is.

WHITFIELD: Greg Bluestein, thank you so much. Good to see you.

BLUESTEIN: Thanks for having me.

WHITFIELD: And this programming note, President Joe Biden joining Don Lemon for an exclusive CNN presidential town hall. That's live Wednesday at 8:00 p.m.

Britney Spears is calling out people close to her who are speaking out in support of her right now but remained silent over the years when she needed their help. The pop star slamming in an Instagram post those who weren't there for her. It comes just days after Spears scored a legal victory in the battle over her conservatorship. CNN's Chloe Melas has the story.


CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: A groundbreaking moment for Britney Spears. For the first time in her 13-year conservatorship, the singer is able to hire her own attorney. Now representing Spears is former federal prosecutor Mathew Rosengart, who addressed cheering fans outside the Los Angeles courthouse.

MATHEW ROSENGART, BRITNEY SPEARS' NEW LAWYER: We feel that today was a big step in the interest of justice, not only in terms of Britney Spears, but in terms of this conservatorship, shining a light on what's happened here, and larger issues nationally in terms of conservatorships and how they operate.

MELAS: The decision by Judge Brenda Penny comes after the resignation of Spears' court appointed lawyer Samuel D. Ingham earlier this month. Exactly three weeks after Spears' bombshell testimony, she addressed a packed courtroom virtually. Spears spoke for about 20 minutes during the nearly two-hour long hearing, sobbing at times, saying that she wanted to charge her father with conservatorship abuse, and telling the court she has serious abandonment issues.

The singer's father, Jamie Spears, has been the co-conservator of her estimated $60 million estate since 2008. He did not respond to the CNN's request for comment. The Grammy Award winning artist calling the conservatorship "f-ing cruelty," and a reference to her conservator, saying, quote, "I thought they were trying to kill me."

ROSENGART: Pursuant to Britney Spears' instructions, we will be moving promptly and aggressively for his removal. The question remains, why is he involved? He should step down voluntarily as that is in the best interests of Britney Spears.

MELAS: Aside from Spears' father and mother Lynne Spears, attending the hearing virtually, Spears' conservator of her person, Jodi Montgomery, said via her attorney that she plans to stay on overseeing the pop star's medical issues. Britney Spears ending her testimony by saying, quote, "If this is not abuse, I don't know what is. I want Jodi's help to get back into the real world."

Following Britney Spears' court hearing and emotional testimony, she took to social media to thank her fans for their support, and to say that she is so excited to be working with her new attorney, Mathew Rosengart.


The next hearing in this conservatorship battle is scheduled for September 29th.

Chloe Melas, CNN, Los Angeles.


WHITFIELD: Thanks so much, Chloe.

And 25 years ago, 230 people died on TWA Flight 800. It was a horrible tragedy, but when investigators learned from it may still be saving lives today.


WHITFIELD: A setback for the so-called Dreamers. Those are the young, undocumented immigrants brought to this country as children. A federal just has ruled that DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, is illegal.


CNN's Evan Perez reports.


EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: A federal judge in Texas has ruled that the Obama era program that allows some undocumented immigrants to remain in this country is illegal, and he block the government from accepting new applicants. Hundreds of thousands of people who came to the United States as children are protected from deportation under a program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

The ruling from Judge Andrew Hanen doesn't immediately cancel the program for the so-called Dreamers who are already participating in, though it once again leaves them in devastating legal limbo. Hanen is an appointee of President George W. Bush and he ruled that Congress didn't authorize the Homeland Security Department to create DACA.

But Hanen also wrote that it wouldn't be fair to immediately end a program that so many people rely on. The Justice Department is widely expected to appeal the ruling, which could send it back to the Supreme Court, which previously blocked the Trump administration's attempts to end the program. The high court didn't rule on whether the program was legal.

Evan Perez, CNN, Washington.


WHITFIELD: It was one of the biggest air disasters in history -- 25 years ago today TWA Flight 800 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, killing all 230 people on board. As a memorial service is held today to remember those lost, CNN's Pete Muntean has more.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For John Seaman the water off Long Island represents 25 years of grief. This is where TWA Flight 800 plunged into the Atlantic Ocean, July 17th, 1996, killing his niece, Michelle Becker.

JOHN SEAMAN, NIECE KILLED ON TWA FLIGHT 800: You never really could close the door on this. You can never really put it away.

MUNTEAN: Becker was one of 230 people who are now memorialized here. Initially terrorism or a missile were suspected as causes of the crash, so investigators began unprecedented reconstruction of parts pulled from the ocean floor. Peter Goelz was then the managing director of the National Transportation Safety Board.

PETER GOELZ, FORMER NTSB MANAGING DIRECTOR: When you talk about airplane breakup, when you talk about, well, was it a bomb? Was it a missile? Well, you can see the evidence.

MUNTEAN: The massive reconstruction remains hidden from public view in a secluded NTSB hanger in Virginia. Used for years as an agency teaching aid, we were granted a last look at the nearly 100-foot section of wreckage. The NTSB is moving out of this building, meaning all 6,000 pieces will be disassembled forever.


MUNTEAN: Frank Hilldrup was on the original team of flight 080 investigators, who used this reconstruction to determine a rogue electrical short near the center wing fuel tank brought the plane down.

HILLDRUP: It's been very useful, but I think we've gotten to the point now that it's time to move on from that, but in a different way.

MUNTEAN: Each part here will be removed and destroyed, either melted or shredded. But first, this entire reconstruction will be documented digitally. The hope is to create a virtual model so future NTSB investigators can still learn from this tragedy.

SHARON BRYSON, NTSB MANAGING DIRECTOR: I don't know that this is an investigation that you ever close the book on. It taught us too much, and it changed too many things for the book to be closed, at least any time soon.

MUNTEAN: John Seaman says this memorial means the most to him. He visited the reconstruction only once. He calls it a monument to those who found the truth behind Flight 800.

SEAMAN: It gives testimony to what happened. That was impressive, and it made me -- it made me feel good to be an American.

MUNTEAN: Pete Muntean, CNN, Ashburn, Virginia.


WHITFIELD: Thank you so much for being with me today. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. The CNN Newsroom continues with Jim Acosta right after this week's "Human Factor."


CHLOE TEMTCHINE, SINGER-SONGWRITER: I was having that dreamlife singer-songwriter-performer. I was recording all the time. And then this whole thing just happened.

I'm Chloe Temtchine, I'm a singer and a songwriter. And I recently received a life-saving double lung transplant. Pulmonary hypertension is high pressure in the arteries of the lungs.

It makes your heart have to work too hard, and eventually your heart fails. I was told by one of the nurses, you know you're going to have to be on oxygen for the rest of your life. I was like, oxygen? I'm like, I can't be on oxygen. I'm a singer. I'm a performer.

The idea always for me was I'm going to find someone who is thriving with pulmonary hypertension, and they're going to be my source of inspiration. All I found was like, die, death, death, death. So I thought, all right, how can I turn myself into that person? And then it was years of just doing everything in my power to stay alive and to also try to live.

On my treadmill one day, my heart shot up to 175. Then I have a heart attack. I then ended up in a coma for four days.


On August 4th, 2020, lungs came in just in time because nobody thought that I could push through much longer.

My mission is to continue to bring awareness to pulmonary hypertension, to the importance of organ donation, and then to inspire hope in people.