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GOP Health Care Bill Vote Just Hours Away; Two Officers Involved In Shooting Death Of Alton Sterling Will Not Face Federal Charges; James Comey Testifies Before Senate Judiciary Committee; Woman Arrested For Laughing Out Loud During Attorney General Jeff Sessions Confirmation Hearing, Aired 11:00-12:00mn ET
Aired May 3, 2017 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Breaking news, a vote on the GOP's health care bill just hours away.
This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
And yes, we all know House Republicans have promised a vote before, but is it really different this time and do they have the votes they need?
Plus, ten months after Alton Sterling was shot and killed by Baton Rouge police while pinned to the ground justifies the announce as no federal civil rights charges will be filed against the officers despite shocking new revelations. I'm going to Sterling's family. And they say that they are not giving up on us.
Also James Comey, back in the hot seat this time before the senate judiciary committee. The FBI director insisted he made the right choice when he dropped his Clinton investigation bombshell days before the election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: My judgment was consistent with the principles I have always operated under. That was the right thing to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Right to our justice correspondent Pamela Brown. She joins us now live.
Pam, good evening to you. How did director Comey explain about the Clinton investigation but not the Russian investigation?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, basically, he said he handled both of the probes consistently under the same principle. But was key distinctions with these two probe, he says with the Hillary Clinton private email server pro, it started a year before the Donald Trump campaign Russia probe, and so that was part of it. And it was already in the public with the secretary herself acknowledging her email server. And then, of course, there was a big public referral for the FBI investigation. So he said it already started out publicly and he waited three months in that case to then acknowledge it and a hearing on Capitol Hill.
He said it was different case with the Trump campaign Russia probe because that started just this past July. He said it was a classified counter intelligence investigation. They were in the early stages of trying to figure out what exactly was there. And he said he stocked to the principle in the case of not acknowledging any investigation of involving U.S. persons particularly when you have a classified investigation like this where they don't really know what is going on. But it is a bit confusing what his answer, Don, because of course, fast forward nine months after that investigation was open up and he did then acknowledge it in front of Congress as you recall last March. So it was unclear what exactly change on that front - Don.
LEMON: And Pamela, we have new reporting on President Obama's former national security advisor, Susan Rice, and whether she is going to testify now. What can you tell us?
BROWN: That's right. So Senator Lindsey Graham invited her to testify next week in front of the committee on Capitol Hill and has she turned down that request. We were told initially she was going to do it because she thought it was a bipartisan request. But then after being notified by Democratic senator Whitehouse that he did not agree with Senator Graham's decision to invite her because he didn't think that it would be pertinent, she decided not to go ahead with it. She felt like it would just be a distraction from the main focus was which of course it was Russian interfering in the election. As you will recall, she has been sort of focus of President Trump and people at his team for claimed that she politicized intelligence and unmasked people in the Trump circle who were talking to foreign officials, people leave spoken to on both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill say there is nothing unusual or illegal of what she did. But in this case, she has decided that she did not want to go testified on Capitol Hill next week - Don.
LEMON: All right. Pamela, thank you.
LEMON: Joining me now Senator Richard Blumenthal, a member of the judiciary committee.
Senator, thank you so much for joining us. Let's listen again to director Comey today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COMEY: Look, this is terrible. It makes me mildly nauseous to think that we might have had some impact on the election. But honestly, it would not have changed the decision. Everybody who disagrees with me has to come back to October 28th with me and stare at this and tell me what you would you. Would you speak or would you conceal? And I could be wrong, but we honestly made a decision between those two choices that even in hindsight, and it is one of the world's most painful experiences, I would make the same decision. I would not conceal that on October 28th from the Congress.
One of my junior lawyers said should you consider that what you are about to do may help elect Donald Trump President. And I said thank you for raising that, not for a moment. Because down that path lies the death of the FBI as an independent institution in America. I can't consider for a second whose political fortunes will be affected in what way. We have to ask ourselves, what is the right thing to do and then do that thing?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[23:05:02] LEMON: Senator Blumenthal, were you satisfied with director Comey's answers?
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: There is no question that that decision made a difference in the election to make the statement that he did literally within days about going back and reopening in effect the investigation with Hillary Clinton. Actually, it had an impact on the election and in my view he had more than just those two choices as he characterizes them. I think someone he conceal or speak.
But here is the real take away from today's hearing. There is no way that Jim Comey is going to have anything to do with the outcome of the current investigation into the Trump possible involvement in Russian meddling in that election. And that is an ongoing investigation. That will be a prosecution decision. There must be a special independent prosecutor to make that decision, because neither Jim Comey nor the current deputy who is appointed by President Trump is sufficiently independent in the (INAUDIBLE) reality to make that decision.
LEMON: Senator, let's talk a little bit more about director Comey. He cited attorney general Loretta Lynch's meeting on that airport tarmac with the former president Bill Clinton. He said as attorney point to his, he said after that, he felt the department of justice could not, by itself, credibly in this. Do you agree that that meeting on the tarmac in Phoenix was the turning point?
BLUMENTHAL: There is no question that it was regrettable the way it evolved. And the impact it had on Jim Comey, perhaps the rational (INAUDIBLE) for making that decision himself. But someone else, other than the FBI director, a prosecutor should have made that decision in my view. And now the lesson is a special independent prosecutor should be making the decision going forward about whether Donald Trump, potentially a target of this ongoing investigation, or his associates were colluding or cooperating with Russian in attempting to influence the outcome of this election.
LEMON: The director also explain who classified information ended up on Anthony Weiner's computer. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R), LOUISIANA: What's that classified information on former congressman Weiner's computer? COMEY: Yes.
KENNEDY: Who sent it to him?
COMEY: His then spouse Huma Abdeen appears to have has a regular practice of forwarding emails to him - for him. I think to print out for her so she could then deliver them to the secretary of state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Senator, does it worry that classified information was handled this way?
BLUMENTHAL: I am worried. And Hillary Clinton has said in the past that there were mistakes made and acknowledged that there were errors in the handling of her private server. But the important point here is going forward, there needs to be a special prosecutor and there needs to be a thorough and prompt effective investigation which only a special prosecutor can do. And I am concern about handling of classified information.
LEMON: He also mentioned that he warned the Obama administration and the DNC about, you know, possible hacking and meddling. Do you think they took it seriously enough at the time?
BLUMENTHAL: They probably could have taken it more seriously. In hindsight, they should have. Hindsight is always 20/20.
LEMON: Senator Blumenthal, thank you.
BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.
LEMON: I want to bring in now Eric Lichtblau, the head of CNN's Washington - CNN Washington investigative team.
Eric, thank you for joining us. You heard what he said there. Let's talk more about this. Senator Blumenthal was adamant that a special independent prosecutor be named for the investigation of the Russian interference into the election. How likely do you think is that to happen?
ERICK LICHTBLAU, HEAD, CNN'S WASHINGTON INVESTIGATIVE TEAM: I don't see that as a likely scenario. And the Democrats will probably press that partly as a result probably of today's hearing. But, you know, I think you have someone that was just confirmed as the deputy (INAUDIBLE) after of course Jeff Sessions recused himself. He is seen as a fairly independent prosecutor who has been appointed by Republican and Democratic administrations. About as middle of the road as you are going to get for a political appointee. So I don't see it gaining much traction, to be honest.
LEMON: Even though director Comey was clearly animated at times, you thinks he did well today. Why is that?
LICHTBLAU: Well, you know, I think this was his chance to make his case for history. He obviously was not going to convince Democrats that he did the right thing, but this was his first real opportunity to lay out look, this is what I did. You saw him in a very emotional often animated tones. And you know, he presented himself as a man with no real options, as he said, to conceal or reveal to Congress the situation. He did have other options in the view, obviously, of Democrats, but he presented I though a somewhat persuasive case for the history books that this is why he did what he did.
[23:10:25] LEMON: You recently reported extensively for "New York Times" on the behind the scenes decision making process at the FBI. And why director Comey spoke out about candidate Clinton but not candidate Trump. What is the original sin? Does this all go back to Bill Clinton?
LICHTBLAU: Well, you know, I think that obviously Hillary herself has to bear a lot of the blame for starting the fiasco with the decision to use a private server and it was cascade of events - events after that leading up to the tarmac scene as you described with Loretta Lynch and Bill Clinton. And was just one of the unexpected turn after another. In hindsight, probably, if we are protecting about special prosecutor we could have used that a year ago and perhaps there might have been very different scenario at the end of the day.
LEMON: Eric, thank you so much.
LICHTBLAU: Thank you.
LEMON: When we come back, more on the breaking news, the House set to vote on the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. Could Jimmy Kimmel's emotional monologue impact the vote?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY KIMMEL, COMEDIAN: No parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child's life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[23:15:17] LEMON: Breaking news, the House now planning to vote in a matter of hours on the Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Let' discuss now with Dean Obedallah, host of the Sirius XM and CNN political commentator Matt Lewis.
Dean Obedallah is already doing this. As I'm reading the intro, but just so he can stew in his own (INAUDIBLE) or whatever you want.
I want to go you, Matt, because I want to get your reaction now on the House Republicans planning to hold this vote on healthcare tomorrow. Still a long way to go. But is this the repeal that conservatives were looking for?
MATT LEWIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. I don't think it is, you know, it is certainly not. In fact, it doesn't really repeal Obamacare. But I think it is a compromise bill. And just today we have seen this opt on amendment which would add $8 billion toward the high risk pool which would fund people with preexisting conditions in states that choose, or that request a waiver. So $8 billion for five years. This is a compromise that moderate Republicans got in order to make this more palatable. But remember, even if this passes the House, it goes to the Senate, it is going to look a lot different if it ever becomes law.
LEMON: As I was looking at it, and I'm saying, is kind of like Obamacare. Is it Obamacare light? If you, you know, if you look at the special pool sort of as a preconditions thing, Matt?
LEWIS: Yes, I mean, I think that, you know, the conservatives ran on the notion of sort of pulling up Obamacare by the roots and having this perfect free market system. And that's not what it says.
LEMON: That's not in this bill. And then $8 billion, that is a lot of money. And the whole -- part of the thing was they were spending too much money on health care and now they added $8 billion to this.
LEMON: So it doesn't give the savings that they want.
LEWIS: No, but the idea is that the reason that you have the option for states to apply for waivers that would allow them to suspend or the community (INAUDIBLE). In other words, you could charge people more money. That is actually the danger. Somebody could have a preexisting condition would have to pay more money if their coverage ever lapses. But the reason you do that is so that you have this high risk pool with people who have preexisting conditions so that everybody else is in the main market where there is competition that would drive down premiums.
LEMON: Dean, I know you want to get in. I haven't forgot about this.
But Matt, then why would a Republican vote for this? Why would they vote for this?
LEWIS: You know, I think that you can argue that on the margins it is better than Obamacare. There is going to be some --.
LEMON: Is this just about a win? Come on.
LEWIS: I think that's a least and half of it, yes.
LEMON: Thank you.
So Dean, what do you think? Do you think this is just about a win? Because to me if you actually look at it, it is kind of Obamacare.
DEAN OBEDALLAH, CONTRIBUTOR, THE DAILY BEAST: It far worse than Obamacare. I mean, in CBO when the scored the original bill, 24 million people --
LEMON: This one hasn't been scored. OBEDALLAH: It has not been scored. So they had to make compromised
to get the freedom caucus on the far right - first to them to come over. It is can't (INAUDIBLE). This is just less coverage. Most Americans want preexisting conditions covered. That is something now - that is a given. We should have that. It shouldn't be a questioning high risk pools. I used to be a lawyer. I did health insurance work, representing big insurance companies. These high risk pools did not work well. High premiums, the idea of six to 12 months of no coverage at all with most of these polls. And the fact there is (INAUDIBLE) high deductibles. It is loser coverage. People will die. That is my fear. This is not politics --
LEMON: OK, worse than Obamacare. For you, it is worse --.
OBEDALLAH: It is far worse to the average person.
LEMON: Hold on. Hold on. Matt, do you think this is worse than Obama care?
LEWIS: Look. I would say this. We do not really know. The CBO, as you mentioned hasn't scored it. High risk pools have worked in some states. But Maine and Alaska, they have failed miserably in other states. We don't know how it is going to go. Again, there was this amendment today by Fred Opton that add $8 billion.
LEMON: All right. You are hogging the segment. We talked about that. But I keep going man.
OK. Do you remember, because I was on the air the night that they passed Obamacare. And then I remember the criticism from conservatives of Nancy Pelosi saying, well, you got a pass the bill to know what's in it.
OBEDALLAH: That's ridiculous.
LEMON: That's exactly what has happened.
OBEDALLAH: Well, right now it has come back to haunted Democrats. Two dozen in midterm election. Democrats fell 63 seat in the House.
OBEDALLAH: t is part of it because they are not going it. And that is being honest. Fell that they want to win. Donald Trump is desperate for a win in allegedly had issues. This is going to hurt the Republicans so badly. Democrats only need 24 House seats that they can control the House (INAUDIBLE). This is a gift. This helps them get that so much closer to winning House back in 2018. That's a game changer.
[23:20:05] LEMON: OK. Listen. Preexisting condition, of course, is a big sticking point and that is a big debate, really, for most Americans when it comes to health care. And Jimmy Kimmel, of course, we heard the story about his baby sadly and then that went viral. Here's what happened on his show the other night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIMMEL: Before 2014, if you were born with congenital heart disease like my son was, there is a good chance you would never be able to get health insurance because you have preexisting condition. You will were born with a preexisting condition. And if your parents didn't have medical insurance you might not live long enough to even get tonight because of preexisting condition. If your baby is going to die, and it doesn't have to, it should not matter how much money you make. I think that is something whether you are a Republican or Democrat or something else, we all agree on that right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So Matt, you have a lot of explaining to do because you think this wasn't the right move. I remember when you said it on the air, you came into the room I was in and you, everybody kind of beat you up saying what are you thinking? This guys is talking about his child. How much do you think it influenced the conversation?
LEWIS: I think definitely influence the conversation. There is no doubt about it. Look, Jimmy Kimmel is premise is wrong. I think it is flaw. But it is an emotional story. As a father of two boys, it hurts me to see him go through what he is going through. And so, I think emotion always Trumped logic. And so - but I don't know if it will impact the vote tomorrow. What we think is going to happen tomorrow, but I certainly think it does impact the conversation.
LEMON: So you think emotion trumped logic. So you don't think he should have done it is what you're saying?
LEWIS: Well, first of all I think that he is clearly politicizing this horrible thing, but --
LEMON: He said we should politicize it.
OBEDALLAH: It is not a Republican issue. So it should unite all Americans and he is right.
LEWIS: All Americans should be united and agreeing with him that Republicans want to kill babies?
LEMON: Matt, he did not say that. Come on, be honest.
LEWIS: I think it is very clear the context here. Is if you went back before 2014 kids could have dies and that is not true by the way. As the implication, I think very clearly with the context of this bill being on the news right now, is that if Republicans have their way, more kids are going to die, and the entire premise is flawed. First of all this bill doesn't do anything about preexisting conditions. What it does is it allows states to request a waiver that would affect -- LEMON: So if can't afford, if you're not Jimmy Kimmel and you don't
have his money, this is what I heard, and you can't afford to have the surgery, and the care that he has, your child would be in a life or death situation and that no parent, no child, no baby should be nut that situation. Everyone deserves to have quality health care. That's what I heard.
Dean, go ahead.
OBEDALLAH: That's exactly what I heard. One thing to correct, Matt. I'm not sure what are you saying he was wrong. (INAUDIBLE), children were born with birth defects like heart problem were denied coverage as a pre-existing condition. Even if the child literally do not exist if they were born with that condition. That was actually part of the law. I saw (INAUDIBLE). That is part of it. After this, they say that no longer existed. You could not do that.
You know, there are children could have die. You can have Medicaid if you are poor. But what about lower middle class and middle class families who weren't eligible for Medicaid? Who didn't have insurance? They can sold all their assets in their homes to pay for their kid's medical care which I'm sure they would do. But is that the part we should go? Of course not. That's what one of the ACA's division on pre-existing conditions is so important. That's why so many Americans both sides of the aisles support keeping it, Matt. That's a big thing.
LEWIS: Well, Jimmy Kimmel - the other thing too is I would say, not only is Jimmy Kimmel is super rich and famous so it doesn't apply to him, but additionally he lives in California. I'm pretty sure California is not going to opt out of the current system.
LEMON: Just because he is famous means he doesn't have a heart?
LEWIS: I don't understand why he took this for very personal thing and tried to politicize it.
LEMON: I don't think he was politicizing. He was trying to un- politicized it. I mean, that's -- I don't understand how you heard him politicizing it. He said doesn't matter which side of the aisle that you are on --
LEWIS: You should agree with him --
LEMON: He is saying take the politics out of it.
OBEDALLAH: Right. He literally said I think there is something at whether you are a Republican or Democrat or something else, we can all agree on that. Don't let partisan squabbles divide us on something every decent person wants. He actually was above it. He was actually - he is not (INAUDIBLE) --.
LEWIS: That would be like me saying look, whether you are Republican or a Democrat, I don't care about. I don't Idaho do politics. But I think we should all agree that the right to life of the unborn baby. LEMON: Matt, can I tell you why you are wrong. Let me tell you why
you are wrong. And I don't usually do this. So let me tell me you are wrong.
[23:25:04] LEWIS: Tell me why I'm wrong.
LEMON: OK. Because all of the people that you hear these congressmen and these senators that they are hearing from back home, many of them are Republicans and they are saying to their congressmen I want preexisting conditions to stay. Many of them are saying I don't care what it's called, Obamacare or Trumpcare. It doesn't matter to them what side of the aisle. That's why you are wrong.
So Republicans voted for Donald Trump said we want to keep pre- existing conditions in there.
LEWIS: Yes. But I don't understand why it I an issue that he needs to bring up because guess what, Republicans --.
LEMON: Because he has a platform and people are listening to him. And maybe someone will listen to him outside of Washington where there so much political and partisans squabbling. Maybe Jimmy Kimmel is the guy who can do it because he is humanizing it. He has a baby that this condition. If you can't relate to that you don't --
LEWIS: I have two kids. I can relate. I think any father can appreciate the pain - I mean, you know, President Obama very famously said having a child is like having your heart living on the outside in this world. I get it but guess what? This is a public policy dispute. It's not about emotion.
LEMON: But Matt, you came on my show and you talked about your child, and you gave a good reason why you believed in something that would help all children through your child and your experience. I would not accuse you. I don't think anyone would accuse you of politicizing it. But we will just say that are speaking from the heart and then (INAUDIBLE).
LEWIS: We should not make public policy decisions based on the anecdotal story of one famous Hollywood comedian. We should be basing out public policy decisions on logic.
OBEDALLAH: How many Republican politicians use evidence of one person I met on the campaign trail who said this to me. This why we said this policy.
LEWIS: Should we base our law --?
OBEDALLAH: Matt, I don't know why are you continuing to attack suddenly not directly but suddenly Jimmy Kimmel for doing something which is truly I think should be applauded? It wasn't Democrat of Republican. One of the rare nonpartisan things in a world that is so hyper partisan. We fight left and right on everything. This was a beautiful moment. I would just let it be and I'm not sure why you are continuing in way with this line attack of Jimmy Kimmel.
LEWIS: You are right. I should just agree that Republicans want to kill babies.
OBEDALLAH: He didn't said it want to kill babies. Seriously, he didn't say that.
LEWIS: That's the implication. Look, if you don't let the affordable --.
OBEDALLAH: Children will die, adults will die. I'm saying it completely bluntly. People will die. Some Americans, sadly, will die --
OBEDALLAH: Twenty-four million people lose their coverage. Some Americans suddenly will die. And there is ever a chance that --.
LEWIS: And that's not politicizing thing. Look, I think we should have civil debate. This is about ideas - first of all, this is a House bill that has not even gone to the Senate. It has even passed the House. There was an amendment today to add $8 billion to fund these high risk pools, it may or may not be a good idea, but you are saying the Republicans - you were saying the Republicans want more kids to die. I think that is outrageous.
OBEDALLAH: I don't - I'm not saying that. Matt, we both, this should not be political. This is healthcare. It is not taxes. It is not more regulations. These are people --.
LEWIS: But if I say it is political, right, if you say it or Jimmy Kimmel says it is not --
LEMON: So Matt, you don't think it is political. You just told me at the beginning of this that half of it was that they wanted to win. That's not political?
LEWIS: Don, I think that part of it is Republicans want to pass something. They want to put points on the score board.
LEMON: OK. But it is that the right thing to do when you are talking about healthcare and life or death situations?
LEWIS: I think that additionally, you have to have good policy, right?
LEMON: OK. Is this good policy?
LEWIS: I think it is getting better. But look, this thing, I don't even know. We haven't even seen a CBO report on this.
LEMON: So then you think they should rush a vote tomorrow?
LEWIS: No, I don't.
LEWIS: But I also don't think Republicans -- here is my point.
LEMON: I have to go, Matt, seriously, but go ahead. Make your point, I have to go but you get the last one.
LEWIS: Have me back another time.
LEMON: You are never on.
OBEDALLAH: The last time Matt is ever on, good seeing you, Matt.
LEMON: Thank you. I got to get to the next segment. Thank you all.
When we come back, the two officers involved in the shooting debt of Alton Sterling will not state federal charges. Why Sterling's family is not giving up.
[23:33:20] LEMON: Federal prosecutors will not file civil charges against two Louisiana police officers in connection with the shooting death of a Baton Rouge man saying there is not enough evidence. The state will now investigate. The incident happened in last July and part of it caught on video. Two white officers shot Alton Sterling, a black man, after pinning him to the ground. They claimed he was reaching for a gun.
And attorney for the Sterling family says the justice department's decision is disappointing and he also says this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS STEWART, STERLING FAMILY LAWYER: We learned some new things today. We learned that officer (INAUDIBLE) walked up to Alton Sterling and put a gun to his ahead and said I'll kill you, bitch. You heard me correctly. We heard from them that (INAUDIBLE) kept instigating this situation. You heard me correctly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: (INAUDIBLE) going investigation would not comment any further on the case.
Joining me now is Edmond Jordan, attorney for Alton Sterling's aunt. The aunt is supposed to join us tonight but there is a terrible storm down there. We almost didn't get the shot up. She wasn't able to make on. So I'm glad that you can join us, Mr. Jordan. Thank you so much.
It was a tough day for the family, how are they doing?
EDMOND JORDAN, ATTORNEY FOR SANDRA STERLING: You know what? They are doing better right now right after the announcement, Don. They were very emotional, obviously and understandably. But as the day has gone on, they have gotten better. So I spoke to Sandra right before we came on and she is doing much better at this time.
LEMON: Well, give her our regards. And then we can certainly understand. I know how the weather is there. And it can be pretty terrible. It is my hometown.
Prosecutors explained to the family in a private meeting today why did they not bring charges against those two officers? What did they say and are you satisfied at least with their reasoning?
[23:35:16] JORDAN: Look, I understand the reasoning behind it. To say that I'm satisfied, not exactly. But what they said was even though Salamoni took his gun and put it to Alton's head, they said that he would kill him, they said that they had to look at the moments' right -- split seconds right before the shooting, and based on those actions, not that it was justified, but it didn't reach a civil rights violation. But I think it would be very clear in saying that the attorney general should review this and there might be enough information to pursue state from the charges. I want to say that the prosecutor, the U.S. attorney said that Salamoni's actions were reckless and if that is the case, we certainly have enough to pursue state criminal charges.
LEMON: Mr. Jordan, the family learned of a new videotape of Oscar Salamoni threatening Alton. Tell us about it.
JORDAN: Well, there is a videotape that - there are several of the videotapes but one that they mentioned and I am assuming it is from the store, it comes directly as the officers arrived on the scene, and I want to clear it might be some dash cam video as well. But as they approached him and so that's when you can see, at least according to their statements, him put the gun up to Alton and say it and you hear the statement that you just play previously that Chris Stewart said, so I won't repeat the comments. But you know, he said that and also you can see some of the actions from when Alton was shot in the back. Do the three shots that you hear on camera, but you can't see, the new video is supposed to show that to everyone as well.
LEMON: Prosecutor said that they can charge the officers under the federal civil rights law. But did they tell you how they thought about the way police handled this incident?
JORDAN: They did. They were, to use their language, they were disturbed. Thought it violated police protocol. I think even one prosecutor may have used the term outrageous. But although they said all that still said that it didn't rise to the level of a civil rights violation. But I will tell you they certainly at least gave the impression that this was something that needed to be pursued further by the state attorney general.
LEMON: Edmond Jordan, thank you so much. And again our regards to the family. We appreciate you joining us.
JORDAN: Thank you. I appreciate it, Don. LEMON: When we come back, our legal experts weigh in. Did the
justice department get it right or should those officers face federal charges?
[23:42:06] LEMON: We just heard from the attorney for Alton Sterling's aunt speaking out in the wake of the justice department's not to prosecute the police officers who shot and killed him.
Joining me now CNN legal analyst Page Pate, CNN legal contributor Areva Martin, CNN legal analyst Mark O'Mara and retired police officer Jeff Roorda, author or "the war on police."
Hello. Good evening. I'm sure you heard from the attorney.
Mark, what do you make of the prosecutors' decision? Did they get it right?
MARK O'MARA, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, unfortunately, for Alton's family, the prism through which federal prosecutors look at these type cases is whether or not they can prove beyond a reasonable doubt. That the cops' presumption as to what was happening was not appropriate. Basically, that they violated Aton's civil rights because their perceptions viewed in like most favorable to the officers proceeding at the time were not reasonable. And that means that the cops, the moments noticed are given a lot of leeway.
My greater fear is that this is one step down the path that attorney general Sessions says depicted with the letter he gave out to U.S. attorneys to basically go hands off on these type of law enforcement activities that happened at the state level and that is very concerning.
LEMON: Page, you disagree with their. Why is that?
PAGE PATE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think I will create a prosecutor and an aggressive prosecutor could have looked at this case and decided there were certainly enough probable cause to take it to a jury. I know the acting U.S. attorney there in Baton Rouge, Corey Amundson. He is a very good prosecutor. Always well-prepared. I'm certain that if he took this case, he would have given it a good go. And there is always a possibility that a jury could have seen this differently.
And in a case not involving officers, defendants never get these type of protection like Mark was talking about. Defendants are put in the situation where there are not going to be charged unless the government can disproved their story beyond a reasonable doubt. It is an incredibly difficult standard. So at the end of the day, I do think the justice department had the opportunity to take this case a step forward, let a grand jury listen to it. And if they indicted it then take it to trial.
LEMON: A civil rights violations require proving intent. So what do prosecutors have to prove specifically in this case and why didn't they have enough?
PATE: Well, Don, they have to show that there was an intentional violation of Alton Sterling's constitutional rights. In this case it is fourth amendment violation. The police are there. They have a firearm and they shot him. And what the government would have to show is that when the officer shot him, he knew that what he was doing was wrong. And it was an intentional violation of the constitutional rights of Mr. Sterling. It wasn't a mistake. It was not an accident. He had to know, willfully commit this act that was a constitutional violation. That is a difficult standard but that is what this law says. And that's why Mark was saying it's so difficult and I agree with that.
LEMON: Areva, we learned today from one of the lawyers today that prosecutors, they have a video they didn't know about it at first. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[23:45:07] STEWART: We learned some new things today. We have learned that officer Salamoni walked up to Alton Sterling and put a gun to his head and said I'll kill you, bitch. You heard me correctly. We heard that that officer Salamoni kept instigating this situation. You heard me correctly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Does that proved anything about intent? Salamoni's intent?
AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think it makes it more difficult to accept what the justice department ultimately decided. When you hear that type of evidence, when you hear federal prosecutors saying that they have videotape of these officer escalating the situation and threatening Alton Sterling, even though we know at this time he didn't have a gun out. There is no evidence in this case that suggests that Alton Sterling ever pulled a gun out of his pocket. But yet you have an officer taunting him, and then for the prosecutor to conclude that they could not prove intent.
And although it is a high standards, I agree with Page, I think the prosecutors took the easy way out in this case. And I query, I questioned whether under Loretta Lynch or Eric Holder, if the decision would have been different. And I'm very concerned about Jeff Sessions and his statements about backing and off and not undermining what he calls the moral of police departments. And putting that, I think, jeopardizing the civil rights of individuals, particularly African- American men for three times more likely to be killed by officers than white men.
LEMON: Jeff, we saw in the videotape that he was on the ground. He was subdued. But they say he was going for a gun. That's what they said. What do you think?
JEFF ROORDA, RETIRED POLICE OFFICER: I don't think anyone can look at that video and think he was subdued gun. First of all, the only way this case is ever going to trial is to somebody decided to engage in a political prosecution. You watched those first two videos we have seen. I'm not going to comment on the other videos that supposedly exist that I haven't seen, but I mean, it is clear that Mr. Sterling is not under control. The officers try to use less on lethal force, they try to taser him twice, then they sort of (INAUDIBLE) him and tackle him to the ground and try to get him under control. And the whole time he has a gun in his pocket, trying to get to it. The officers are giving him orders, pleading for him to stop resisting, to stop reaching for the gun. And then you saw that last panic cry from the officer that is closest to his waist saying he is going for the gun, and that's when the other officer uses lethal force.
LEMON: So you think they made the right decision?
ROORDA: I do. And I don't think that these officers will be prosecuted for murder of manslaughter on the state level. There is just still no evidence that their guilty of those crimes.
LEMON: Mark, why is that so bothersome to you. I see that pain look on your face.
O'MARA: Well, let's pause for couple of reason. One, first of all, the standard for manslaughter or second degree murder charges is much less than whether or not these officers violated civil rights intentionally.
And let me tell you something. I think Mr. Roorda would agree. When you walk up to a situation, and say, I will kill you and use an expletive, that evidence is what you are thinking in your mind. That is a second degree possibility when you have ill will or hatred or dislike going into the situation.
An officer is supposed to be professional and a choice that deescalated situation. You walked dup to somebody, put a gun in their head and said I'm going to kill you and what type of reaction do you think you are going to get? I ask this. What type of reaction are you asking to get when you are the one escalating? You should not have done it. Inappropriate and not professional police behavior. Put himself in a situation when then maybe he had to shoot because of a situation that he put in motion.
LEMON: Stick with me, everyone. When he came back, this woman was arrested for laughing out loud during the attorney general Jeff Sessions' confirmation hearing. Is that excessive? We will discuss.
[23:52:58] LEMON: I can't wait to hear what my experts think about this protester convicted for laughing during Jeff Session's confirmation hearing.
OK. So Mark, I want to get your reaction of this incident. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jeff Sessions' extensive record of treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and with well documented. Throughout his decades of public service --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So if you are listening really hard, you can hear a laugh, and about then, about a minute after that, and I just want to explain that, because it is really low. You can see the pink coat protester Desiree Foruse is being dragged from court. She is now being convicted or disorderly and disrupted conduct and parading and demonstrating on capitol ground.
So go ahead, Mark. I'm sorry. I just want to explain to our viewers.
O'MARA: I always trying and disagree if the system works. If the jury goes for me, great, if goes against me, great. But my head is spinning with the fact that somebody is in the halls of our government says something that is really not even that obnoxious in the middle of a hearing where someone like attorney general Sessions is having a comment made about him and she is the one who is dragged off, arrested and then convicted of the charge. I am beyond befuddled and frustrate. It is an absurdity. It is demoralizing that this is what the criminal justice system happened when yet we just talked about Alton Sterling's case just a moment ago.
LEMON: Yes. I have a short time here. I don't mean to cut you off. So I am trying to get everybody in.
Areva, Foruse is just 61 years old. She laughed because she is talking about his history of treating Americans equally. That was when she laughed under the law. And Sessions has a dicey history when it comes to African-Americans. Go ahead.
MARTIN: Absolutely. And if you can think of anything that will, you know, quell or chill freedom of speech and she will one right to protest, then this is what we will do. To arrest and indict this woman was absolutely ridiculous. And I hope this is not the legacy, and I hope this is not what we are going to see under Jeff Sessions. This is what we all fear with him in the attorney general's office.
[23:55:02] LEMON: Page?
PATE: Well, I do think she became disruptive but not until she was arrested. So I think they really caused the problem that led to the ultimate indictment and the perhaps the conviction. But I agree with everyone else so far that it is ridiculous that we are spending resources on prosecuting someone like this when we don't have the courage the go forward in a case like Alton Sterling.
LEMON: Jeff Roorda?
ROORDA: I thought for a moment she was on a United Airlines flight when they drug her out of there. You know, I was a state lawmaker. You have to maintain the decorum in these legislative hearings but you have to disrupt something and she just is not doing anything disruptive.
LEMON: Yes. I mean, we saw --. O'MARA: And the first amendment is the first amendment for a reason.
MARTIN: And she is in the back of the room, too, we should note that. She was in the back and we could barely hear her or we didn't see any heads turn or anything to suggest they even heard her. So to suggest that she was disruptive is just ridiculous.
LEMON: Two years in prison, Mark?
O'MARA: It is absurd. It is a political prosecution that is a very fearful step we are taking just like Areva said, if this is the legacy we are beginning, we are in trouble.
LEMON: So what can - can anything happen from here? Can the charges be dropped? What can happen?
PATE: Well, Don, there is a sentencing hearing that I think is going to be taking place in June and she is facing two misdemeanor counts. So it is one year for one and one year for another. I cannot imagine that she is actually going to get any jail time even though she has been convicted. This is a fine case and maybe probation, I think that would be most reasonable outcome.
LEMON: Thank you all.
MARTIN: And maybe the DOJ can step up and make a recommendation that nothing happens in this case. That would be the right thing to do.
LEMON: Thank you, everyone.
That is it for us tonight. Thanks for watching. I will see you right back here tomorrow.