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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 5/19/22

Guests: Rosa DeLauro, Nicholas Wu, David Crane, Susan Dodd


Interview with Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT). The House January 6th investigators now want to question a fellow member about a tour he gave the day before January 6th. Senate Passes $40 billion Ukraine aide package.


IVO DAALDER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NATO: And so, you have to be clear. You either are willing to defend the country, in which case you bring on a kick quick path to go in, or you don`t go on that path.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, "ALL IN": Yes, that is -- one of the enduring lessons that we find ourselves in.

Ivo Daalder, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

That is "ALL IN" on this Thursday.

MSNBC PRIME starts with Mehdi Hasan right now.

Good evening, Mehdi.

MEHDI HASAN, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris.

I for one am amused that Vladimir Putin seems to have done more for NATO expansion than Barack Obama, Donald Trump and Joe Biden put together.

HAYES: Truly wild the way that works.

HASAN: Yes, unintended consequences. We`ll be discussing tonight. Thank you, Chris. Have a great rest of your night.

HAYES: You, too.

HASAN: Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. It is not a secret that President Richard Nixon had a big ego. But in the first year of his presidency, Nixon made a big, bold, whopping promise.


ANCHOR: President Nixon told the White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health today that America cannot live with its conscience if people are hungry. He asked for support in behalf of three bills he has sent to Congress in which he said should virtually eliminate poverty as a source of malnutrition.

REPORTER: Three thousand delegates to the conference streamed into a Washington hotel. They included corporation executives, welfare mothers, labor leaders, doctors young social activists, Indians, Mexican-Americans and bureaucrats. Some lobbied for their pet ideas to end hunger.

The conference was opened by President Nixon. He said now is the time to do something for the estimated 15 million Americans too poor to buy enough food.

RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT: Until this moment in our history as a nation, the central question has been, whether we as a nation would accept the problem of malnourishment as a national responsibility. That moment has passed.

On May 6, I asserted to the Congress that the moment is at hand to put an end to hunger in America itself for all time.

Speaking for this administration, I not only accept the responsibility, I claim the responsibility.


HASAN: I, Richard Nixon, will end hunger in America. I claim the responsibility.

Richard Nixon obviously did not defeat food insecurity in the United States. Prior to being forced to resign the presidency in disgrace, but something did come out of that White House Conference on Food, Nutrition and Health that really did help make a dent.

More than 3,000 experts attended that conference representing a wide range of expertise and interest groups to try and game out what the United States could do to end hunger as a result of poverty. And the end of the conference, the group wrote up a big report. Here is the lead doctor in charge of the conference handing it over to Nixon. It was a big heavy report.

The report made more than 1,800 recommendations to improve federal policy around food and nutrition. More than 1,600 of those proposals were enacted by the federal government within two years, including one with kind of a funny name. It`s called WIC. Sounds like a candle wick, but spelled WIC.

One of the problems identified at that big conference was that young poor mothers were struggling to come up with the money to feed not just themselves but their babies, too. WIC was supposed to fix that. In 1974, the first WIC clinic opened in Pineville, Kentucky.

Today, the WIC program provides services in all states. It uses federal money to pay for vouchers for mothers with young kids to buy healthy food like fruits and veggies and whole grain bread and baby formula. For their little kids who can`t eat solid food.

For weeks now, not just WIC moms but all moms have been scouring shells for baby formula due to a kind of perfect storm of corporate and bureaucratic and logistical failures. This nationwide shortage has turned into a full- blown crisis, and it is hitting those WIC moms, those moms below the poverty line, especially hard.

A huge part of the WIC program is about supplying baby formula to mothers. Of all the baby formula sold in the United States, more than half is purchased by mothers on WIC assistance.

And because this is a federal program, there are restrictions on the exact kinds of formula you can get. If you`re lucky enough to find formula on the shelves, but that is not a WIC-approved brand or size, you are out of luck.

And so, today, Congress tried to fix that. The Democratic controlled House of Representatives has voted on a bill appropriately named the Access to Baby Formula Act, which would knock down some of that red tape to expand access to baby formula under the WIC program.

And it sounds like a no-brainer, right? In the middle of a nationwide formula shortage, let`s make it just a little easier for the poorest mothers to access baby formula. It`s almost impossible to come up with a reason to be against it. And yet, nine Republicans, nine of them voted no on that bill. Representatives like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert and Matt Gaetz voted to keep that red tape that makes it harder for poor mothers to access food for babies.


And if you think that is shocking, multiply that by about 20, because that was one of two bills passed by the house to address the baby formula shortage. The other will give the Food and Drug Administration, the FDA, more money to help increase formula supply and to prevent this kind of shortage from ever happening again.

And it passed as well but barely, because 192 Republicans -- 192 Republicans voted against that bill which again would make it easier for parents to feed their babies. It is astounding that House Republicans almost in unison have just telegraphed to the country, that they do not care about using every single legislative lever at their disposal, so that their fellow Americans can stop worrying about how they are going to feed their infant children.

I mean, I`ve got to be honest. This is on a whole other level, coming from the political party in this country that claims to be obsessed with the well-being of babies. The Republican obsession with being pro-life apparently ends when the baby is born. If you are having trouble keeping your baby alive because you cannot find it food, you`re on your own there.

Thanks to the Democratic majority, both of those bills to expand access to baby formula have passed the House. One has already passed the Senate. And while we wait for them to arrive on President Biden`s desk, it is a good moment to check in on how exactly we got here.

Last September, the FDA conducted an inspection of a baby formula plant in Michigan. On that same day, a baby was hospitalized with a severe bacterial infection after consuming formula produced at that plant. Three other babies would go on to get sick after drinking formula from that factory, two of them died tragically.

The FDA says they found no traces of that deadly bacteria in the plant when they inspected it in September. When they went back a few months later, they found traces of it all over the place, on the walls, on the floors, on doors, and so the plant was shut down.

This particular factory supplies about a fifth of the nation`s formula supply. The FDA has reportedly struck a deal with the factory to get production up and running in the next two weeks but it could still mean months before new formula from that factory hits shelves nationwide.

Because the FDA failed to address those issues earlier, even though it had been tipped off by a whistleblower because the Biden administration did not come up with a work-around until the shelves started turning bare because the formula company failed to keep the factory clean in the first place, because of all of that, we`re in the midst of a crisis that has parents terrified they will not be able to have food for their babies.

And so, now, the Biden administration is playing catch up. The first line of attack has a catchy name, Operation Fly Formula. The idea is to airlift baby formula into the United States like you would first aid to a war zone. The Defense Department will contract commercial planes, load them up with baby formula produced in other countries, and zip them right over to the U.S., bypassing existing freight routes that move much slower.

Just tonight, a Biden administration official tells NBC News that the first Operation Fly Formula flight will take off as soon as this weekend, the first flight is expected to leave from Zurich and Switzerland, loaded up with 1.5 million bottles of formula, eight ounces each. The plane will land in Plainfield, Indiana. From there, the formula will be distributed all over the country.

President Biden also announced he would be triggering the Defense Production Act to ramp up the formula supply. That`s the same tool used to increase the supply of masks and gowns and vaccines during the height of the pandemic.

The White House said it will now be used the Defense Production Act to increase access to the ingredients that manufacturers need to make more formula, but the administration says it could still take weeks for availability to return to normal and that is if these Hail Marys work.

Joining us now is Democratic congresswoman Rosa DeLauro from Connecticut and chair of the House Appropriations Committee. She introduced the legislation to give emergency funding to the FDA so that it has the resources needed to address the infant formula shortage. She also chaired a hearing that addressed this issue earlier today.

Congresswoman DeLauro, thanks for joining us this evening.


HASAN: Earlier today, the Senate approved a bill by unanimous consent that would improve access to baby formula for low-income Americans using the WIC program. It seems like non-controversial legislation. Are you surprised that nine of your own house colleagues all Republicans balked at passing this bill?

DELAURO: You know, look, I think it really is because this is not a political issue. This is not a Democratic issue, Republican issue. It`s not politics. This is about saving our babies.

You made a comment about we lost two babies, and several more that have been hospitalized. Parents are frantic to be able to access infant formula, the shelves are bare, and at the same time, they`re concerned and worried that the product that they may buy is harmful to their child`s health.


So, it is shocking -- it is shocking maybe not surprising but shocking that anyone could vote against this legislation and the number of people, the Republicans who voted in the House last night against the bill that I introduced as equally as shocking. But we did have 12 Republican members who supported the effort because they understand our job is to address this very serious crisis and we need to do it now.

HASAN: Yes. Yeah, 190 odd Republicans voted against that last night, bizarrely, outrageously.

You mentioned the importance of access to formula which is very important, but it also has to be access to safe formula and the problem of course was that there was this issue with the factory and the recall. That all happened several months ago. There are some who argue the FDA completely dropped the ball in September. Then in February, when the factory was closed, the Biden administration as a whole dropped the ball because they didn`t anticipate what was coming. Isn`t that a fair criticism that this could have been resolved much earlier than it has been?

DELAURO: Now, let me -- let me just put this into perspective. This is an issue of supply and it is an issue of food safety. So you`re right in this concept.

The Abbot Nutrition in Sturgis, Michigan, knowingly sold a contaminated product, sold contaminated infant formula. They violated all kinds of rules. They falsified records. They gave inaccurate information to the FDA in audits.

They didn`t do the proper testing. The plant was not clean. And again, knowingly, knowingly introduced a product into the market that was contaminated.

Now, you and your earlier commentary here, there are only four major producers of infant formula in the United States. That in and of itself is a problem. Sole source contracting we should do away with, and because when -- and Abbott has 43 percent of the market, which mainly goes to WIC recipients, and thank God for Richard Nixon, and you know, making sure that out of that summit, we`ve got a WIC program.

Now, so they and we need to address that underlying issue of (INAUDIBLE).


DELAURO: Now, let me just talk about the FDA because, in fact, they were sent, in September, they looked at the plant. There was suspicion. October, the whistleblowers report. They didn`t do anything about interviewing the whistleblower into December. January, they went back into the plant, found the contamination and then you have the recall in February.

Now, the FDA is culpable on dragging their feet and not holding Abbott to an FDA standard. Both of those pieces are being investigated right now and I`m engaged in that investigation, calling for an inspector general investigation. But your point is we need it to move and to move quickly which is what --

HASAN: We are glad to hear --


DELAURO: -- and I might add the administration.

HASAN: I`m glad Congress is holding -- I`m glad to hear Congress is going to be holding the FDA accountable. I`m sure many viewers will be wondering how this all happened.

DELAURO: Absolutely.

HASAN: One last -- one last question. The president took measures yesterday invoking the Defense Production Act among others to help with the shortage. How much of an impact do you think the Defense Production Act will have on actually solving this problem as quickly as possible?

DELAURO: I think the Defense Production Act can have, you know, a serious effect on the production of this product, in addition to which and I was delighted to hear that the first airlift is going to be from Zurich. What we need to do not only should we be importing products, but we ought to be importing that product from FDA approved facilities. We should not open the door to facilities who haven`t passed the standards and the statutory requirements that the FDA has.

The FDA does have a standard, the current FDA did not move to keep Abbott in touch with those standards and in fact, they didn`t do anything at all about that. But we do have a standard. Let`s bring the product back. Let`s get it on the shelves. Let`s give families some sense of understanding that they can trust the product that is safe, that`s on the market, and they`ll be able to feed their babies and not cause them any harm.

HASAN: Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, we`ll have to leave it there, Democrat from Connecticut, leading voice on this issue. Thank you for your time this evening.

DELAURO: Thank you. Thank you for highlighting the issue.

HASAN: Up next, the House January 6th investigators now want to question a fellow member about a tour he gave the day before January the 6th. What do they think he`s hiding?

Stay with us.



REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): I have an office in the Capitol which is in the so-called Lincoln room named after Abraham Lincoln. That office has my name on the door and it has majority whip above the door, and it`s just off of Statuary Hall.


Anybody walking through Sanctuary Hall can see that office. Now, that`s not where I do most of my work. Up on the third floor is where I do most of my work and there are many members of the United States Congress right now who could not tell you where that office is and could not find that office if they needed to.

Nobody touched the door my name is but they were on the floor and my staff was inside my inner office with furniture piled at the door with people trying to get in, that did not let them in. My question is how did they know where that office was?


HASAN: That was Congressman Jim Clyburn two days after the assault on our Capitol on January the sixth, expressing a view held by many of his fellow members of Congress that some of the rioters that day seemed suspiciously good at navigating the labyrinth that is the inside of the U.S. Capitol.

Soon after, Democratic congresswoman and Navy veteran, Mikie Sherrill, claimed she saw unnamed Republicans giving what she called reconnaissance tours of the Capitol the day before the riot. Sherrill and other 33 House Democrats sent a letter requesting the Capitol police and both the House and Senate sergeant-at-arms investigate the extremely high number of outside groups inside the Capitol on the day preceding the riot, visitors who appeared to be associated with the rally at the White House the following day.

They noted that the visitors were particularly suspicious because at the time tours were not allowed due to COVID protocols. The only way visitors could get in the building, be in the building was if they were brought in by a member of Congress.

Georgia Republican Congressman Barry Loudermilk, one of the 147 Republicans who objected to certifying Biden as the legitimate winner on January the 6th later issued a statement asking the Ethics Committee to investigate all 34 Democrats who sent that letter. It accused the Democrats of smearing Republican members without evidence and he asserted that, quote, no Republican member of Congress led any kind of reconnaissance tours through the capital a fact that he could prove with security footage captured by the U.S. Capitol police.

That is where the story stood for more than a year, suspicions that rioters knew their way around too well, accusations that they were given tours by Republican members the day before and a denial by a Republican congressman who had not even been accused. The whole thing had a big, big "if true" energy, but we didn`t really have any idea what was going on until today when the January 6th investigation sent this letter to Congressman Loudermilk asking him to come in and chat with them.

Quote, based on our review of evidence in the Select Committee`s possession, we believe you have information regarding a tour you led through parts of the capital complex on January the 5th, 2021. Republicans on the committee on House administration of which you are a member claimed to have reviewed security footage from the days preceding January 6, and determined that there were no tours, no large groups, no one with MAGA hats on.

However, the select committee`s review of evidence directly contradicts that denial.

Now we have not seen whatever evidence the January committee is referring to we have no independent confirmation that these tours took place. But it is a big advance in this story that the January 6 committee is coming out now just a few weeks before the first public hearings and saying that they did.

Lots to unpack here. Joining us now is Nicholas Wu, congressional reporter at "Politico".

Nicholas, thanks so much for being with us tonight.

Representative Loudermilk puts out this joint statement with another Republican congressman tonight calling on the Capitol police once again to release whatever tapes they have of him giving tours or not, and essentially admitting that he did lead a group who he claims to be a family of constituents around the House office buildings.

What do you make of today`s developments and this response from Congressman Loudermilk?

NICHOLAS WU, POLITICO: Well, Mehdi, there`s a whole lot that we still don`t know this evening about what exactly happened on January 5th and with all of these tours. You know, Congressman Loudermilk here has admitted to bringing a constituent family inside, but then you know also in this statement and they include the fact that they, you know, were not part of the federal January 6 investigation.

And so, you know, this raises some questions so to speak about, you know, what exactly this family was doing there, who they were, and then for that matter, what made the January 6 committee so concerned about Congressman Loudermilk`s tour, because surely, if they had whatever evidence they had produced here, perhaps security camera footage, if this really was just a constituent family, this might not have risen to the level of asking yet another sitting member of Congress to come and talk to them.

HASAN: Nicholas, it`s a very explosive allegation and the timing is very interesting. Are you surprised to see it this whole story being revived by the 1/6 committee just weeks before the start of public hearings?


WU: This is a storyline that had really died down a bit over the last few months, and you know as you`ve mentioned earlier in the program this was something that in the initial chaotic and confusing weeks after the attack on the capital had been something that really ignited a lot of fury among Democrats, who saw a lot of their Republican colleagues as being complicit in the attack. You had that letter of over 30-something House Democrats who had raised concerns about these tours.

And I remember talking to Congresswoman Elaine Luria, who was a signatory to that letter and is now a member of the January 6 committee. We talked about how in hindsight, you know, at the time, there appeared to be concerns about those groups.

And as a -- at least in the intervening year, there wasn`t a lot more attention paid to that, but supposedly, the evidence was handed off to the Justice Department and not that much more was heard from it. And there hadn`t been that much evidence that came out even to back up these Democrats initial allegations. But here we are, yet again, seeing this thrust back into the spotlight.

HASAN: And, Nicholas, you got the scoop today that the January 6 committee has obtained a batch of official White House photographs, including images from January 6 which could give the committee real time visual evidence of the moments and actions of key players like President Trump throughout that day. I mean, these photos feel like the first thing I would ask for if I were investigating the president. Why are we just hearing about them now?

WU: Well, this is something that`s all part of the committee`s work to try to recreate the timeline and places of what happened that day. The committee wants to show exactly where the president was when he was -- you know, for example, sending this tweet on the afternoon of January 6 attacking Vice President Pence, and then for that matter, you know, who else was in the room, where were they standing?

And we can expect a lot of this information to play a role as they move towards their public hearings in the next few weeks, where they will need to tell a visual story that will be compelling and interesting and present new evidence to the American public.

HASAN: And, Nicholas, very quickly, we`re out of time. But I have to ask - - a lot of outlets reporting tonight that Bill Barr is in talks to give sworn testimony to the 1/6 committee. How big a deal is that given I believe he`s already spoken to them informally?

WU: Yeah. It`s not that surprising that Barr is talking to the committee. He -- for months actually, the committee has been talking about these sorts of informal discussions with him. Now, right before the start of public hearings that come in and talk about, it really speaks to the level at which the committee is trying to talk to everyone to try to tell their side, tell the story of not just January 6 but all of the Trump administration`s attempts to overturn the election leading up to it.

HASAN: We will have to leave it there. Nicholas Wu, congressional reporter at "Politico" -- thank you for your time tonight. I appreciate it.

WU: Thank you.

HASAN: Much more to come here tonight. But first, a quick story to tell you about the great state of Colorado, one of the leading candidates for the Republican nomination for governor in that state is former Colorado Mayor Greg Lopez. Like so many other Republican candidates for statewide office this year, Greg Lopez is an election denier. But when it comes to undermining democracy, Lopez wants to do a lot more than just question the results of past elections.

Today, Denver 9 News`s Kyle Clark was first to report that Greg Lopez has a new plan to stop counting all votes equally, and do away with the popular vote in Colorado. Under Lopez`s plan, Colorado would develop its own state level electoral college, giving more power to rural conservative voters and less power to urban and suburban Coloradans under the guise of counting votes based on turnout.

Hmm, I wonder why he`d want to do that? Here`s Denver 9 News`s Kyle Clark.


KYLE CLARK, DENVER 9 NEWS: Democratic Governor Jared Polis`s 10 percentage point win in 2018, it would turn into a blow out Republican victory under Lopez`s plan. A 28-point shift toward Republicans, so long as you don`t count each vote equally.


HASAN: So long as you don`t count each vote equally. U.S. states are supposed to be laboratories of democracy, but if election-denying Republicans win power this November, they may quickly become laboratories of autocracy.

We`ll be right back.



HASAN: It took a week, but today the Senate finally voted to approve a $40 billion military and humanitarian aid package for Ukraine. The vote was 86- 11, to with all of the no votes coming from Republicans. It brings the total amount of American investment in this conflict to about $54 billion in the past two months. The Senate had planned to fast-track the vote last week but was stymied by Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul who blocked it because he wanted additional oversight for the money. That bill now goes to President Joe Biden who is expected to move quickly and sign it.

As lawmakers were voting on that bill, President Biden was meeting with the leaders of Finland and Sweden at the White House, one day after both countries submitted applications for admission to NATO. Biden endorsed their bid saying they had the, quote, complete backing of the United States. Finland and Sweden, of course, decided to break their long-held neutrality stances in response to Russia`s invasion of Ukraine, an invasion that Vladimir Putin says he launched in order to push NATO away from Russia`s borders.


How`s that working out for you?

Meanwhile, Ukraine is doing a very unusual thing for a country still at war, holding its first trial for a war crime. Ukrainian authorities have accused this 21-year-old Russian tank commander of fatally shooting a 62- year-old Ukrainian man in northeastern Ukraine in February. He faces life in prison if convicted. Today, he pled guilty and told the court that he shot the civilian on orders from two officers who said the man could inform Ukrainian soldiers about their location. He also asked the man`s widow to forgive him.

When prosecutors asked her what a fitting punishment would be, she said life in prison but also that she would support swapping the Russian soldier as part of a prisoner exchange for Ukrainian fighters who surrendered to Russia at Mariupol`s Azovstal steel plant. Three judges are presiding over the case and must reach a unanimous verdict to convict and sentence the Russian soldier, despite his guilty plea.

One of the few precedents for a trial during an ongoing war was the trial of a Bosnian Serb soldier who confessed to multiple counts of murder and rape during the Bosnian war in 1993. He was later convicted of genocide.

Ukrainian prosecutors are moving quickly to prepare further war crimes cases for court but it is a herculean task. The country`s prosecutor general says the country has 11,000 cases of war crimes, but only 40 suspects so far.

Joining us now is professor David Crane. He was the founding chief prosecutor of the U.N. special court of Sierra Leone from April 2002 to July 2005. During that time, he indicted Liberian President Charles Taylor for war crimes committed during Sierra Leone`s civil war. He`s now the distinguished scholar in residence at Syracuse`s University`s College of Law and the founder of the Global Accountability Network.

Professor Crane, thank you for making time for us tonight.

Ukraine holding this trial during the war means the victims family won`t have to wait for justice. What is the other? Is there a bigger more political advantage of holding this trial now?

DAVID CRANE, SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF LAW PROFESSOR: I think it`s very, very important. And good evening. It`s great to be talking to you.

I think it`s important to marker to let Russian Federation forces know that if they`re not going to follow the law the laws of armed conflict then they`re going to be held accountable for their actions. And so, this is a beginning of a beginning, but a very important very politically savvy move to show that individuals who violate the laws of armed conflict shoot civilians for no reason.

Civilians are to be especially protected. You can`t just target civilians. Then they will be held accountable.

HASAN: And you have Ukrainian prosecutors, excuse me, with their work cut out for them. Thousands of cases, only dozens of suspects. They are getting some help from international investigators and forensic experts.

What else might they need to prosecute these cases successfully and fairly?

CRANE: Well, they just have to continue to look at forensics, look at social media, look at videos, talk to victims, et cetera. You know, we have really been doing this now for a couple of decades. We have the experience. We have the jurisprudence.

We have the proper rules of procedure and evidence which allow us to prosecute not only heads of state their commanders but anyone else who commits international crimes, like in Ukraine which is aggression, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and even incitement to genocide.

HASAN: And Joe Biden says he wants Vladimir Putin prosecuted as a war criminal. Is that possible realistic? You have experience of putting away a warlord, but how about the president of Russia?

CRANE: It`s very possible in fact. Right now, the International Criminal Court is investigating Vladimir Putin, his commanders and others. The United Nations is also gathering evidence. There are a number of other very professional organizations that are doing the same.

You know, the jurisprudence related to heads of state is that if they commit international crimes while they`re heads of state. They cannot use head of state immunity to hide behind their actions. And so, they are individually, criminally liable for the actions of their armed forces in the conflict zone.

HASAN: And talking of head of state immunity, one last quick question for you. Just yesterday, former President George W. Bush misspoke and said Iraq when he was talking about Ukraine and his audience in Dallas laughed. We showed the clip last night.

There`s never been any accountability for Iraq. Is it harder to push for people abroad to be held accountable for illegal wars and war crimes when we`ve never really done the same here in the U.S.?

CRANE: Well, the United States has been a leader in creation of international tribunals and courts all the way going back to Nuremberg, and all the way to the modern era. You know, the United States isn`t a perfect country and it makes mistakes as well. But we shouldn`t use that as a veil to hide the really, the brutal actions of Vladimir Putin and his commanders.

You know, we`re talking about mediaeval warfare here. We`re talking rape, pillage, plunder not seen since -- you know, the 15th century.


This is 2022. Nations -- United Nations members don`t commit these kind of crimes. And so, this is what we have to focus on to ensure that the people of Ukraine get -- to get justice and we are. This will move forward.

HASAN: Former U.N. special prosecutor professor David Crane, thank you for your time tonight. I appreciate it.

CRANE: My pleasure.

HASAN: Still ahead -- still ahead here tonight, one state tries and apparently succeeds in making sure it takes away more of a woman`s rights than any other state in the nation. Details on that next.



HASAN: It was a little over two weeks ago when the Republican governor of Oklahoma signed into law a ban on nearly all abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, a point at which many people do not even know that they are pregnant. The law includes no exceptions for rape or incest. When he signed that bill into law, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt said he wanted his state to be the most anti-abortion state in the country.

We have seen these kinds of bills pop up in Republican-controlled states across the country, where conservative lawmakers have been emboldened by the leaked Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. These near-total abortion bans are a huge problem for anyone who can get pregnant in America. They`re also perversely a problem for Oklahoma Republicans. After all, you cannot be the most anti-abortion state in the country if other states are enacting similar near total bans on abortion, which is why today, just a short time after Oklahoma`s governor signed that near total abortion ban into law, the Oklahoma legislature has approved yet another abortion ban that somehow manages to go even further.

The new bill bans all abortion starting from the moment of fertilization. So even if you are lucky enough to learn that you are pregnant in the first six weeks, you still will not be able to get an abortion in the state of Oklahoma. The bill does include exceptions for rape and incest, but only if those crimes have been reported to law enforcement.

Today, Vice President Kamala Harris met with abortion providers on the front lines of this fight and called out that Oklahoma law specifically.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Just half an hour ago, in Oklahoma, the state legislature passed one of the most extreme abortion bans in the country. It`s outrageous and it`s just the latest in a series of extreme laws around the country.


HASAN: Abortion providers across the country are preparing for a dark future, the likes of which America has not experienced in nearly half a century.

Someone with unique insight on that is Dr. Susan Dodd. She grew up in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, where she says her babysitter was none other than Dolly Parton. In 1972, the year before Roe v. Wade was decided, Susan became pregnant. She was just 16 years old. Her sister drove her to Knoxville to get an illegal abortion.

Her experience navigating the pre-Roe world led her to become an OB-GYN, providing abortion services for the people of eastern Tennessee.

Joining us now is Dr. Susan Dodd, retired OB-GYN.

Dr. Dodd, thank you for joining us tonight.

Talk to me about your experience of seeking an abortion before Roe and how it led to you becoming an OB-GYN.

DR. SUSAN DODD, RETIRED OB-GYN: It was an extremely frightening experience to have your first doctor visit with a OB-GYN be asking a stranger for an abortion, which was illegal at the time. So I gathered my courage, my sister helped me a lot and in that all area also, and I asked the doctor to perform an abortion on me.

HASAN: And once you became an abortion provider, you provided abortions in Knoxville and I believe a lot of people were upset with you, turned on you. I even read that your husband had to buy you a bulletproof vest to wear to work?

DODD: Yes, that`s what the FBI agent recommended and so that`s what we did. There would be protesters at the clinic that would take my license plate, they would send me letters, threatening letters. Sometimes threatening my safety, mostly threatening that my religious future would be in jeopardy.

HASAN: Did you ever think back when you were a teenager, getting that abortion, going and paying all that money at that time, it was very expensive, and dealing with all of that pressure, that you would see a day in your life when we would return to a world where people may be forced to seek illegal abortions?

DODD: One of the most frightening things about illegal abortions to me was experiencing it through the eyes of my older partners. I was right on the cusp of Roe versus Wade and I had great hope that our future would have abortion care as a part of women`s care. But my older partners would describe horrific hysterectomies they had to do, you know, just dismal situations, women who would lose their lives from seeking abortions through back alley providers.


HASAN: Dr. Dodd, I wanted to ask you. The Oklahoma legislature as I mentioned a moment ago has passed three sweeping abortion bans in two months. Your home state of Tennessee has outlawed abortion pills. How do you think doctors like yourself will respond? Do you think they will risk arrest to keep providing necessary care?

DODD: I think most will not. I think if I was still providing abortions, I`m retired now, I would have to think very carefully about doing it. The biggest concern for me is what are we going to do for women who have ectopic pregnancies, for women who have you know life-threatening consequences to their health because they are pregnant? Who gets to decide whose life we save or whether we`ll let both the mother and the fetus die?

It`s -- it`s a very frightening future for OB-GYNs and their patients.

HASAN: How -- how worried are you that if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, it will embolden those who want to use violence against abortion clinics, abortion providers?

DODD: I think it will come to more of a law situation where patients where other people will say, oh, well that doctor provided an abortion and there was a heartbeat. So then you go to court and I think it`ll be more -- instead of physical violence, it will be more legal action, which they will have a right to do with that point.

HASAN: One last quick question before we`re out of time. If the Supreme Court justice or a legislator would ask you why Roe shouldn`t be overturned, what would you say, what one thing would you say to them?

DODD: I would say it`s my body, my choice. If you choose not to have an abortion, don`t have one.

HASAN: And they would say, if you were talking about masking, they would agree with you.

Dr. Susan Dodd, retired OB-GYN and longtime Tennessee abortion provider, thank you for your time and thank you for sharing your story with us tonight. Appreciate it.

DODD: Thank you.

HASAN: Up next, some much needed good news for parents and kids. Stay with us.



HASAN: Some good news to report today in our nation`s fight against the coronavirus, especially for parents of young children.

Tonight, CDC director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, announced that the CDC is now recommending booster shots for children between the ages of five and 11 years old. Those shots are now expected to be available for that age range as soon as tomorrow.

In a statement she wrote, quote: Children five through 11 should receive a booster dose at least five months after their primary series. Vaccination with the primary series among this age group has lagged behind other age groups, leaving them vulnerable to serious illness. With cases increasing, it is important that all people have the protection they need.

That statement was her official endorsement of a CDC advisory committee earlier today approving the booster for that age group. The vote was 11 to 1 with one abstention, a pretty resounding display of support for this third shot for kids in that age group, and a false shot for immunocompromised. FDA panel recommending a booster dose for that age group.

That came just two days after similar FDA panel also voted to recommend a booster dose for that age group.

In terms of what to expect, the booster shot is the same dosage that kids got in their primary series, kids can get them in the pediatricians office, local pharmacies, and health care clinics. Based on data provided last month, the experts about the CDC and the FDA committees believe the booster dose will offer these kids better protection against the omicron variant that is currently surging across the country, causing an average of more than 100,000 new cases per day. That`s a graph you see around there on the left of your day. Hospitalizations are starting to rise too. That is on the right.

That is a little alarming. It should be for this age group. During the winter omicron surge there was an uptick in the number of children hospitalized with the virus. According to CDC data, hospitalization rates were even higher among kids in that age group who were unvaccinated. Currently, less than one third of children age 5 to 11 children are vaccinated against COVID at all. Shockingly low number.

Doctors on the CDC panel that noted today noted two thirds of those kids vaccinated must be the priority. People are also anxious to get vaccines for children younger than five. Moderna is seeking FDA authorization for its version of a vaccine for young kids. The FDA is waiting on Pfizer to submit data for its new trial, but the early dates reserved for his June for the advisory panel to discuss those vaccines for the youngest children.

This week, one of the FDA panel experts was asked about when parents can expect to be able to vaccinate the kids under the age of five. If all goes well, that vaccine could come by early to mid summer. Can`t come fast enough for many parents.

But for now, today, the approval of this booster shop offers hope for parents like me who have kids aged between five and 11. A little bit more progress as we continue to fight this virus, which has not gone away. The pandemic is not over.

That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.


Good evening, Lawrence.