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D.A.: City Will Release Video Of Nichols' Arrest Friday Evening; Chao: Trump's Rhetoric About Me "Says A Whole Lot More About Him Than It Will Ever Say About Asian Americans"; Whistleblower Says January 6 Committee's Final Report Missed An Opportunity To Hold Social Media Companies Accountable. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired January 26, 2023 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: By this time, tomorrow night, we expect to have seen the video, of alleged Police misconduct that preceded the death of Tyre Nichols, in Memphis, earlier this month. Alleged misconduct, leading to murder charges, today, against five of the Police officers, now ex-Police officers, involved.
Earlier today, Tennessee's top law enforcement official gave more than a hint, of what to expect to see, tomorrow night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DIRECTOR DAVID RAUSCH, TENNESSEE BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: I've seen the video. And, as D.A. Mulroy stated, you will too. In a word, it's absolutely appalling.
Let me be clear. What happened here does not at all reflect proper policing. This was wrong. This was criminal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: More, in a moment, on what we know, about how this unfolded, minute-by-minute.
First though CNN Senior Crime and Justice Correspondent, Shimon Prokupecz, on the video, showing the worst of it.
Shimon, what's the latest, you're hearing, about just what we can expect to see, and when?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: So, we expect the video to come out at some point, tomorrow evening, around 6 o'clock or so local time. So, it'd be 7 o'clock Eastern Time.
How it's going to be distributed, how we're going to receive it is still very much unclear. I think, tomorrow, on Friday, where we expect to hear something more, from the City.
It's the City of Memphis that is actually releasing this video, not the D.A. He's been restricting its release, saying he didn't want it released, until he was done, with this investigation. And you can understand why because of the indictments and so forth, fine.
So we think, tomorrow, at some point, we will see this video. There will be some redactions on it. But that's to protect people's personal, their faces, and other identifying characteristics, like phone numbers or something. So, that's the only thing. But it's going to be significant. You're hearing law enforcement officials prepare all of us for this video.
I think it was significant to hear the sound you played, from a 30- year veteran, a law enforcement official, who has described the video, and the way he described it, and just how disturbed he is by what he saw.
BERMAN: There was some new information about what happened that night. What have you been hearing from officials, Shimon?
PROKUPECZ: Yes. So, I think, today, there was some - we got some new key pieces of information, from the District Attorney. Really no one here has been talking about this. Officials have refused to just take basic questions, on the timeline, and how things unfolded.
Well today, we learned from the D.A. that in the initial encounter that the victim here, was pepper-sprayed, that they used pepper spray, on him, and that it was a very excited moment, is how the D.A. referred to it that the officers were very charged, in almost the beginning moments of this.
And then, there was this chase. And then, there was a second encounter. And that's where the District Attorney says was the beating essentially, where this occurred.
And then what we also learned and, I thought this was significant as well John, is that it took some time, to get him the medical assistance. We don't know exactly what that means, or how much time. But, I think, it explains why those two EMTs perhaps, were relieved - were taken off duty.
But that also is significant, because it tells us there, for the first time, that medical care, as we have known, but more importantly, more significant information, more detailed that it took some time, for them, to get EMTs, and the medical care that clearly he would have needed.
BERMAN: Yes. And officials hinted that we may actually see evidence of that on the video, when it's released, tomorrow night.
PROKUPECZ: That's right.
BERMAN: So, the five officers are charged with murder, among other things. What is their status, tonight? And could others still - could other people still involved here, face charges? PROKUPECZ: Right. Yes, others could. The District Attorney said that their investigation is continuing, and that others could still face criminal charges.
The Police Chief, here, in Memphis, said that she's actually investigating other officers, for departmental charges, administrative charges. So, there's more to come on that.
As to the status, of these officers, two of them have bonded out. They've made bonds. So, they were in jail pretty much for most of the day. They're now out of jail, those two officers. As far as we know, three still remain. They're expected to bond out, but that's going to probably take a little more time.
And then, we're waiting to hear, when they're going to be in court, to face their arraignment, on the indictment, John.
BERMAN: All right, Shimon Prokupecz, great to have you there. Keep us posted.
BERMAN: As Shimon reported, we got new details, today, about the timeline, at least according to authorities.
More on that now, from CNN's Nick Valencia.
STEVE MULROY, SHELBY COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: If it was illegal detention to begin with, it certainly became illegal, at a certain point.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, nearly three weeks, after the death, of Tyre Nichols, following a traffic stop, in Memphis, we're learning new details, about how this all unfolded.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got one male, Black running.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Set up a perimeter.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (inaudible) car pulled over at (inaudible) have one running on foot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Run that tag and see what's the address.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (inaudible) show me (inaudible).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's fighting at this time.
VALENCIA (voice-over): This afternoon, the Shelby County District Attorney, detailed more of what happened, saying there was an initial traffic stop, followed by an altercation, involving several officers, and Nichols, where pepper spray was deployed, and Nichols fled.
MULROY: There was another altercation, at a nearby location, at which the serious injuries were experienced, by Mr. Nichols. After some period of time, of waiting around afterwards, he was taken away, by an ambulance.
VALENCIA (voice-over): After the incident, earlier this month, Memphis Police released a statement, saying Nichols was pulled over, for reckless driving, and that "As officers approached the driver of the vehicle, a confrontation occurred, and the suspect fled the scene on foot."
The statement said after another "Confrontation," Nichols was taken into custody, but "Complained of having shortness of breath, at which time an ambulance was called to the scene."
Nichols died three days after that traffic stop, from his injuries, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
Less than two weeks, after the incident, Memphis PD fired five officers, after an administrative investigation found, "Officers had violated multiple department policies, including excessive use of force, duty to intervene, and duty to render aid."
Two members of the City's Fire Department were also fired.
The Police officers fired days before the Nichols' family, and attorneys, were shown the video, of the encounter.
RODNEY WELLS, TYRE NICHOLS' STEPFATHER: No father, mother should have to witness what I saw today.
TONY ROMANUCCI, NICHOLS' FAMILY ATTORNEY: It was an unadulterated, unabashed, non-stop beating of this young boy, for three minutes.
VALENCIA (voice-over): Retired Shelby County Sheriff's Captain, Bennie Cobb, is a family friend, who visited with charged former officer, Emmitt Martin III, and says Martin was remorseful, but defended his use of force.
BENNIE COBB, RETIRED SHELBY COUNTY SHERIFF CAPTAIN: I saw the pain on his face. He said he hadn't slept in probably five or six days. When he was expressing to me the things that went on, he was teary-eyed.
VALENCIA (voice-over): Memphis Police Chief, Cerelyn Davis, was absent, from the District Attorney's news conference, this afternoon.
Wednesday, she made her first on-camera comments, about this case.
CHIEF CERELYN DAVIS, MEMPHIS POLICE: This incident was heinous, reckless, and inhumane. And in the vein of transparency, when the video is released, in the coming days, you will see this, for yourselves.
VALENCIA (voice-over): Nick Valencia, CNN, Atlanta.
(END VIDEOTAPE) BERMAN: Our thanks, to Nick, for that.
Some perspective now, on the charges so far, and potential federal charges, as well as what this says, in a larger sense, about policing and justice, in the country.
With us, CNN Political Commentator, Tom Perez, former DNC Chair, former Labor Secretary, and especially to the point, tonight, former head of the Civil Rights Division, at the Justice Department.
Also with us, Ron Johnson, a former Captain, at the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
Captain Johnson, first to you. Based on what you've heard, about what is on the video, what happened, do you believe these are the correct charges? And based on the charges, what does that tell you about what we're going to see on the video?
RON JOHNSON, FORMER CAPTAIN, MISSOURI STATE HIGHWAY PATROL, OWNER & FOUNDER, LODESTONE SOLUTIONS GROUP: Well I'd say, without seeing the video, it's hard to say, if they're the correct charges. But I would say from everything that I've heard, they seem, based on their expertise, it seem to be appropriate.
I think we're going to see something that cuts at the core of who we are, as Americans. I think it's something we can't tolerate. I think it's something that we have to make sure it changes, and it can't continue to happen in our country. And we have to really do something, to change the culture, and stop this from happening.
But I do think Memphis has done a great job. The Police Department, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, I think, they've done a good job, of being transparent, and taking this head on.
BERMAN: So, Tom, all five of the officers were charged with identical offenses, the top charge being second-degree murder. What's the significance of that?
TOM PEREZ, FORMER HEAD OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS DIVISION, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, FORMER ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, FORMER CHAIR, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, conduct that demonstrates a reckless disregard, for human life, is conduct that can constitute second-degree murder, under Tennessee law. And that's what they're charged with.
And they were all there. And, as a result of that, assuming the video is consistent with that, I mean, it would be - it would be a consistent practice, to charge all five involved.
Now, you'll have a trial, and it's conceivable that one person was more involved in than the other. But that doesn't mean that person isn't responsible. That would be an issue that would be taken up at sentencing, if and when we were to get that far.
I know Steve Mulroy. I worked at the Justice Department with him. He may be new to the D.A.'s job. But he's a seasoned prosecutor. And he's a respected leader. And so, it's impressive that they got through this, in less than three weeks. And I have a lot of faith in what they have done together with the TBI, who is also working very, very hard.
And I'll tell you, it's really important to make sure that you're thorough in these investigations.
Here, in Maryland, where I live, the Freddie Gray investigation, the local prosecutors were very, very hasty. And, as a result, the criminal case, fizzled. And it was a real black eye, on the prosecution.
And, as a result, I think they have been very deliberate, in what they're doing, and very transparent, as we will see tomorrow.
BERMAN: So, Captain Johnson, you were in Ferguson, Missouri, in the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown. And I'm not comparing one tragedy to another, here. But what steps, do you believe, officials, in Memphis, and other cities, around the country, should be taking, in the advance of the release of this video, tomorrow night?
JOHNSON: Well, I think they should be engaging with the community leaders, partnering with community leaders, and having a conversation, I think, in talking about the things that have been done right here.
We have seen some things done different, in our country, in these incidents. I think a lot of things have been done right. And a year ago, two years ago, we wouldn't have done - seen some of the things we're seeing here. So, I think, getting out in front of it, having those conversations, but also assuring that we're all in this together.
I think we heard it from Director of TBI. He is just, and other officials are just as hurt and bothered by this. And this is not our profession. And, as a community, we can pull together and be stronger. And that has to be a tone, throughout this country.
BERMAN: So Tom, how does the federal investigation align, or work with the State investigation? Are they completely separate? In tandem, is one case tougher to prove than another?
PEREZ: Well, in this particular case, what would happen as an ordinary matter, especially since the local authorities have taken a swift action, is the Department of Justice would differ, and await the results of those investigations.
The last thing you want to do, in a case, like this, is have federal authorities and local authorities talking to the same witnesses, at the same time. It creates confusion. It could undermine the local investigation.
And so, I'm confident that the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, along with the United States Attorney's Office, for the Western District of Tennessee, will very, very closely monitor the investigation. And they will be prepared, if necessary, to take criminal actions, at the conclusion of this trial.
At the same time, John, there's another thing that they can and should do, in my judgment. And that is to take a very careful look at whether or not they should initiate a civil investigation, under the so-called Pattern and Practice Authority. That's an Authority that, frankly, needs to be reformed, to give more tools, to the federal government. And there's legislation pending in that area.
But I worked on many, many of those cases. Whether it was the New Orleans Police Department, Los Angeles Police Department? That is a tool that allows the federal government to take a very careful soup- to-nuts look. Is this an isolated incident? Are there other issues involving either use of force, training, et cetera? And those matters need to await the criminal prosecution.
PEREZ: But those are two different pathways that I suspect federal government will take.
BERMAN: Tom Perez, Ron Johnson, thank you both, for helping us out, tonight.
PEREZ: Thank you.
BERMAN: Next, we're going to have a live report, from Ukraine. As the West gets ready to send tanks, Russia continues to send missiles, at civilian targets, and fighting heats up on the ground.
Later, the, former President's remarkable string, of plainly, racist attacks, on the wife of the Senate's top Republican, Mitch McConnell; tonight, the pushback, from Elaine Chao.
BERMAN: Ukraine's President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, tonight, is asking the West, for additional weaponry, after yet another wave, of Russian missile strikes, on Kyiv, and other Ukrainian cities. "This evil," he said, in his nightly address, "can and should be stopped only with adequate weapons. Weapons on the battlefield. Weapons that protect our skies."
CNN's Sam Kiley is in Kyiv, for us, tonight, where civilians are being targeted.
Sam, what more do we know about the missile attacks, across Ukraine, today? I understand you were able to make it to the scene, where missile debris struck and killed a civilian, near Kyiv?
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, John. Tragically, one civilian was killed, here, in Kyiv. Notwithstanding the fact that the local authorities say that the air defenses here shot down all 20 of the cruise missiles that were attacking the city. Now, the gentleman who was killed, a man in his 50s, was hit by falling debris, close to a power-generating plant, on the outskirts of the city, a tragic accident, effectively. There were 10 other people, around the country, also killed, in similar strikes.
The authorities say that more than 50 cruise missiles were fired, at Ukraine, the vast majority, some 47 were shot down. And that's on top of a number of Shahed drones. These are the much more unsophisticated drones, manufactured in Iran, John, that are used to soak up the air defenses that the Ukrainians say, they so desperately need, to protect themselves, against just these sorts of attacks.
This is now at least three or four months into a concerted campaign, by Russia, using the drones, and cruise missiles, to try to break the back, of Ukraine's capacity, to generate power. And, of course, that is all being conducted during the winter, when power is in most desperate need.
Now it's ineffectively (ph) trying to undermine the capacity of the civilian administration, to reinforce their military options, as the bloodletting continues, particularly in the East, particularly around the City of Bakhmut, where the Russians are throwing huge amounts of men, and material, into that fight.
The Ukrainians can't really understand why because that town is John, particularly - not particularly strategically important. But they believe that the Russians are desperately looking for some kind of victory, after about four months, or at least, indeed, now six months, of significant losses, in which they've lost ground they had captured early on, in this campaign, 11 months ago, in Kharkiv, and more laterally, in Kherson, John.
BERMAN: Sam, we've heard, from the Russians, multiple times, over the last 24 hours, calling the shipment, the scheduled shipment, of NATO tanks, a provocation, and promising to escalate their attacks on Ukraine.
What's the response been from the Ukrainian authorities?
KILEY: Well, the Ukrainians are delighted, absolutely delighted, with the offer of tanks, numbering about 100 that have been pledged so far, including 31 Abrams tanks, from the United States. The quickest bunch is likely to be delivered from the United Kingdom, Challenger 2 tanks.
These are battlefield replacements of what they already lost, but not like-to-like, because of course, they're much more sophisticated weapons, and much more problematic, for the Russians, to take on.
It's also being seen, both in Russia and, I think, in Ukraine, as a sign, much to the disappointment, of the Kremlin, the West is now once again very much united, behind the idea that Ukraine, really needs sophisticated war material.
Now, the tanks are one thing. But they're also asking for air defenses, and ultimately for fighter jets and fighter bombers.
BERMAN: Sam Kiley, thanks so much for being with us. Stay safe.
BERMAN: And with us now is William Cohen, who served as Defense Secretary, in the Clinton administration.
Mr. Secretary, always a pleasure to see you.
You see these missile strikes, by Russia, in the last 24 hours. Do you believe those are response, to the U.S. and NATO decision, to send tanks, to Ukraine? Or do you think that Russia would have done this anyway?
WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY, CEO, THE COHEN GROUP: I think they would have done it anyway.
But clearly, there's an action and a response here. I think they were looking for an excuse, to do what they're going to do, in any event, that is try and annihilate the Ukrainian people, and Ukraine as a sovereign country. So, whether there's a direct connection or not, I suspect and believe there is, but I don't think it makes much of a difference.
Because when they talk about escalating, well, we may provoke them with escalation. What's been going on for the past year? They have been escalating, and escalating, and savaging the Ukrainian people, and then saying, "But don't try and defend them. Don't contribute to their defense, because it might make us mad, and we'll do worse things." So, I think we have to take that into account, and then do what we can, to defend the Ukrainian people.
BERMAN: Yes. And look, remember, there's only one country that invaded another. And it's Russia that invaded Ukraine here.
BERMAN: You heard Sam Kiley report that Ukraine is obviously delighted that the U.S., and NATO countries, are sending in tanks that could number 100, by the end of March. But man, Germany seemed awfully reluctant to do this. Why so reluctant?
COHEN: Well, I think, because of their history, going back to World War II, obviously, the fact that they've had a fairly pacifist military, over the years. And we've been pressing them and pressing them.
And frankly, they've come a very long way. I can recall, when I was, in the Senate, and the Russians, or the Soviets, at that point, put SA-20s, on the soil, in Europe, and we responded, saying, "We need to put Pershings to offset that." The Germans were very reluctant. And finally, they did.
And I think they've been coming slowly, to that conclusion that they have to build a capable defense that is equally capable, of cooperating and fulfilling their duty, as a NATO member. They've come a long way.
BERMAN: You heard Sam Kiley there mention this. And we also heard, from Ukraine's Foreign Minister, and others, who've said the next piece of military equipment they want, Western fighter jets, maybe even the F-16.
Is that a different type of request? Does that go into a new area, in your mind?
COHEN: Not in my mind. I think they made the request a year ago. At that time, Poland was willing to offer MiG-29s. And then, everybody said, "Let's be careful not to step too far ahead of this." And we've seen what has taken place, since that time; just a savage assault, criminal assault upon Ukraine, and Ukrainian people.
So, I think, what they need is air defense. They need more missiles, more SAMs, all that kind of air-defense capability. But I think an aircraft falls right into the category that they're going to need.
Now, whether it's an F-16, or some other aircraft, the real question is, what is the capability they need? And can we provide that through other means? Are other aircrafts that might be available?
F-16 is one of the finest in the world. And that may be the one they ultimately we decide and others decide upon. But there are others, in the meantime, that could fulfill the need on a quicker paces, less training, less maintenance, and less sustainment problems that they will have with the F-16.
BERMAN: But to be clear, you would advise the United States, NATO, anyone, to get those jets, to Ukraine, now, if they're asking?
COHEN: I would say, start training. If we're talking, about F-16s, in the future? Start training them, in terms of how, not only, fly them, but to maintain them. That's something that's going to take a lot of training, as well.
But there are other aircraft out there, and they can be delivered even more quickly, with less training. So, I think they need to have the aircraft. We should do everything we can to facilitate that. I don't think aircraft are off the table at all. They're on the table.
BERMAN: Mr. Secretary William Cohen, thanks so much for being with us.
COHEN: Good to be with you, John, always.
BERMAN: Former Transportation Secretary, Elaine Chao, responds to the months' long racist attacks, on her, by her former boss, the former President. Details ahead.
BERMAN: After months of racist attacks, by the former President, Elaine Chao, his former Secretary of Transportation, is speaking out. She told "POLITICO," in a statement, quote, "When I was young, some people deliberately misspelled or mispronounced my name. Asian Americans have worked hard to change that experience for the next generation. He doesn't seem to understand that, which says a whole lot more about him than it will ever say about Asian Americans."
This response comes after high-profile shootings, targeting the Asian American community, and after the former President, repeatedly used a demeaning term, in his social media posts, to describe Chao. I won't say it but you can see it there, highlighted on the screen.
He has also singled out her Asian American heritage, as Miss - McConnell's quote, "China loving wife."
As the Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal, noted, last year, quote, "Her real offense was resigning as transportation secretary after Mr. Trump's disgraceful behavior on January 6."
I'm joined now by CNN Political Commentator, Alyssa Farah Griffin, who served as Director of Communications, for the former President, and has spoken out, against his remarks.
Also, Senior White House Correspondent, MJ Lee; and Senior Political Commentator, Scott Jennings, a longtime adviser, to Senator Mitch McConnell, who is of course husband to Elaine Chao.
MJ, I do want to start with you. You covered Donald Trump, for a long time.
Trump's spokesperson, Steven Cheung, who is Asian American, told "Politico," quote, "People should stop feigning outrage and engaging in controversies that exist only in their heads."
So, what do you make of that as both a reporter and as an Asian American?
MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, I think I would have thought that, especially, during a week like this one, when there has been so much pain, in the Asian American community that someone like Mr. Cheung, might have been thinking a lot, about the experience, of being Asian American.
There is no fake outrage, here. I think there's just the reality. And that is that, yes, Asian Americans, and Asian people, across this country confront all kinds of racism, all the time.
And I think what is particularly disturbing to think about this week, is thinking about, when you see an ex-President, mocking and making overtly racist comments, about his former cabinet member? What message that might send to the average person, about what might be OK, to say, to the average Asian American, and Asian person, in this country? And I'm talking about your neighbor, your colleague, just somebody who looks like me, walking down the street.
And Trump has been stoking these racial divisions, ever since he was a candidate, and going way far back, past that. He did it, when he was President. And I think we have no reason to think that he wouldn't keep doing that, if he were to get another four years, in the White House.
BERMAN: Yes. And there's no reason to think he doesn't know exactly what he is doing.
And MJ, just, to hit this one more time? What Elaine Chao speaks about her life experience, with growing up, people mispronouncing her name, when she was young? Does that strike a chord with you?
LEE: Yes, it does. And I think it probably strikes a chord with many, many Asian Americans, in this country.
And she said that Asians have been trying to change that experience, for future generations, and that she believes that Trump clearly doesn't understand that. I think she is clearly right that President Trump has no idea how embedded that experience is, in being Asian American.
And I just want to make the point that we are not always talking about overt racism, or comments that are just so heinous, or even bordering on violence.
We are talking about a sort of the everyday experience too, of just being made to feel like an, other, that you don't belong that if you look like me, then "You must be foreign," and that you have to sort of prove your worth.
It is being asked the question, "Do you speak English?" It is being asked, "Well, where are you really from?"
It is being a reporter at a Trump rally, in Iowa, and being told by somebody, "No offense, to you! But there are these people, coming from Asia, all the time, and having families here, and taking away our jobs."
I know you know, this, John that I became an American citizen, back in 2016. It was one of the happiest days of my life. But I still, even though I'm now an American citizen, grapple with, I think, that question of belonging as an Asian American that I believe is what Elaine Chao, is talking about.
BERMAN: Look, I count that as a win, for the United States that we got you, in 2017.
Alyssa, one of the things, you have heard, almost verbatim, from some Republicans, is "Oh, Trump just likes to call people names! This is just him doing what he does!"
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, FORMER TRUMP WH DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, and listen, I'm not going to feign outrage, and pretend I'm shocked that President Trump, once again, used racist comments, to attack somebody. This is a pattern for him. He's done it countless times, since he was first a declared candidate. I think the two things stand out to me is the timing and the target.
Obviously, as MJ mentioned, this tragic mass shooting, targeting the Asian American community, and just the fact that violence and harassment, against them have been on the rise, dating back to COVID, and conspiracy theories around that.
But also the target, this is a woman, Elaine Chao, who served in the Reagan administration, the Bush administration. She has been a naturalized citizen, since she was 19-years-old. She's been in public service. She is an American, who served in his administration. Her only offense, of course, was that she opposed the Insurrection.
But the question, again, for Republicans is, do we want four more years of this? Do we want four more years of explaining to our kids, why the President, or the former President, is saying racist, offensive things that we would yell at them, for saying, on the playground?
Like it's just the turning a blind eye, and the Rick Scott, "He likes to call names," I'm just calling him out there, like, no, this is blatantly racist. It's the worst timing. And it's such a reminder of we don't need to do this again.
BERMAN: Scott, the "Do we want four more years," is a political question. But there's also a moral question here, is do we want four more minutes of a public figure, saying racist things? And how do you stop that from happening?
And what would you advise Republican officials to say about this? And I ask, because Mitch McConnell has been reticent, at times, to even mention Trump's name. And he's doing that on purpose, I think, he doesn't want to necessarily elevate him. But, in a case, like this, do you think it makes sense to speak out?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH, COLUMNIST, USA TODAY: Well, I think, it made sense, for Elaine Chao, to speak out, because she's classier than Donald Trump will ever think about being, and she's let this go for some time. But, at some point, it becomes not just an issue for her personally, but an issue for the entire Asian American community.
I mean, Elaine Chao, her parents, her family, they are 1,000 times the American patriots Donald Trump will ever be. And for him to question their patriotism, and question their love of this country, and say, "They have something to do with Communist China," it's outrageous. So, I'm glad that she stood up for the entirety of Asian American community.
As for the rest of the Republican Party, I think if you hear Donald Trump say something blatantly racist, the way he's doing, against Elaine Chao, and you cannot summon the courage to deal with it, if asked? Then you needed to look inside of yourself, and say, "What am I doing here? What kind of a party are we building here? And what do we want our country to be? And are we moral enough to lead this country?" Candidly, I mean the Chaos are an American success story. Elaine Chao is the first Asian American woman to be in a cabinet, the longest- serving cabinet member, since World War II. This person is an inspiration to an entire group of people.
Regardless of your politics, Asian Americans look up to Elaine Chao. And we have this egomaniac, this infant, this racist boob, who continues to make these statements, about her? It's outrageous. And we all ought to say it, every single day, even if a Senator McConnell, and Elaine Chao, choose not to wrestle with a pig in the mud. And that's where the Republican Party ought to stand.
BERMAN: Scott Jennings, Alyssa Farah Griffin, MJ, thank you so very much.
Coming up, to Scott's point, about party-building, more Republican infighting, tonight, this time, a battle to see who will lead the Republican National Committee. This is a fight between loyalists to the former President. That's next.
BERMAN: So, the question of who will lead the huge Republican party apparatus, known as the Republican National Committee, is just the latest skirmish, in this GOP battle that we have seen, in midterm primary races, in that chaotic House Speaker race.
CNN's Jeff Zeleny has the details of a fight that pits the Trump- faithful against one another.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They are all loyal supporters of Donald Trump. But, for six years, Ronna McDaniel has been the former President's hand-picked leader of the Republican National Committee.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Done such an incredible job at the RNC.
(CHEERS & APPLAUSE)
ZELENY (voice-over): Yet tonight, a fresh Family Feud is boiling inside the Republican Party. As McDaniel seeks reelection, Friday, to a rare fourth term, she is locked in an unusually tough fight, in yet another identity test, for the GOP.
RONNA MCDANIEL, CHAIRWOMAN OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY: Let's stop bashing each other. And let's remember, we only are going to win as a United Party in 2024.
ZELENY (voice-over): She's not facing an anti-Trump challenger, but rather two true believers, and a particularly heated clash with a member of the former President's own legal team, who believes it's time, for new blood, in the top Republican ranks.
TRUMP: Great lawyer, Harmeet Dhillon.
ZELENY (voice-over): Harmeet Dhillon is a lawyer, and committee member, from California. She represented Trump, before the Congressional investigation, of the January 6th attack, on the Capitol, and placed blame, for GOP losses, in the last three election cycles, not on Trump, but on McDaniel, and the RNC.
HARMEET DHILLON, RNC CHAIR CANDIDATE: They're really, really eager for some change. And I provide that change, and a vision, of how we're going to win, in 2024.
ZELENY (voice-over): It's far from the classic Establishment, anti- Establishment divide that roiled the party, in the early days, of the Trump era. Now, Trump loyalists are fighting one another, even as others call for a new direction.
ZELENY (voice-over): While Trump is at the center of it all, he has taken a backseat to the fight.
TRUMP: I get along with both of them. I haven't taken a stance, you know. Let them fight it out.
ZELENY (voice-over): Not Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis, a potential 2024 rival, who says the RNC is overdue for change.
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): I think we need to get some new blood in the RNC. I like what Harmeet Dhillon has said about getting the RNC out of D.C.
ZELENY (voice-over): MyPillow CEO, Mike Lindell, a Trump election denier, and peddler of conspiracy theories, is a longshot candidate.
MIKE LINDELL, RNC CHAIR CANDIDATE: With all my due diligence, and in prayer, I am 100 percent running for the RNC chairman.
ZELENY (voice-over): In a battle that's creating strange bedfellows among the party-faithful.
BILL PALATUCCI, RNC MEMBER, NEW JERSEY: As an East Coaster, you know, it's.
ZELENY (voice-over): Bill Palatucci, an RNC member, from New Jersey, believes it's time to move beyond Trump, and is supporting Dhillon, despite her ties to him.
PALATUCCI: She and I don't agree on everything. But that's what building a coalition is about. And that's how you move forward, by embracing people, like me, who have been skeptics, and critics, of the former President, to build a party that's broader than just the Trump base.
ZELENY (voice-over): But RNC member, Leora Levy, of Connecticut, believes McDaniel stands the best chance of uniting the fractured party.
LEORA LEVY, RNC MEMBER, CONNECTICUT: In elections, there are disagreements. But that doesn't mean that at the core, we don't know that we are a family, and that we are united by our principles, and our policies.
ZELENY: If this is a family, John, and certainly that's what Republicans feel like, there is a deep feud going on. That is going to be settled here, tomorrow, in a vote. But it is a secret ballot that adds to the dynamic, hanging over this race, here, entirely.
We should point out the reason this is important, because, this committee helps decide the rules of the presidential race, which starts one year from now.
BERMAN: Crucially important!
Jeff Zeleny, thank you very much.
We have an exclusive ahead. Someone, who testified, before the, January 6 committee who, was, anonymous, to us, now, going public, for the first time, on television, right here, on CNN. What she thinks the Committee's final report, on the attack, missed, and what she now hopes to bring to light? Next.
BERMAN: The January 6 committee's final report came out more than a month ago. It was extensive, 845 pages.
But now, the now-disbanded House panel missed something very important. That's according to two Twitter whistleblowers, and some Committee staff. They say the Committee failed to adequately hold major social media companies, accountable, for their role, in the attack.
CNN's Donie O'Sullivan spoke to one of those former Twitter employees, exclusively about what she fears could happen as a result.
ANIKA COLLIER NAVAROLI, TWITTER WHISTLEBLOWER: I do fear for the future and what it may hold.
DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): You think there could be another January 6 in this country? COLLIER NAVAROLI: Yes.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Anika Collier Navaroli is a former Twitter employee, turned whistleblower, who testified before the January 6 committee, initially, anonymously.
COLLIER NAVAROLI: A lot of the "Locked and loaded," "Stand back, stand by," those tweets, were in response to Donald Trump.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Now, she is speaking exclusively, to CNN, in her first television interview.
COLLIER NAVAROLI: And I think it's really important, for these findings, from the Committee, about the roles that social media played, within January 6, come to light.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Navaroli says she can talk specifics, about her time, at Twitter, publicly. But she shared eye-opening details, in depositions, with the January 6 committee.
One example, as Trump supporters, gathered in Washington, D.C., on the eve of the Capitol attack, Navaroli and her colleagues warned Management, at Twitter, "There might be someone getting shot tomorrow," according to transcripts of her deposition.
ALEXIS RONICKHER, TECH WHISTLEBLOWER ATTORNEY: But Twitter leadership refused to take action.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Attorney, Alexis Ronickher, spoke to CNN, on behalf of a second Twitter whistleblower, who is remaining anonymous.
RONICKHER: Wasn't actually until the doors of the Capitol were being breached that Twitter leadership started taking action. And, at that point, it was too little too late. The real-world harm and violence had happened.
(VIDEO - JANUARY 6, 2021 - U.S. CAPITOL HILL RIOT)
O'SULLIVAN (on camera): How did you feel, as an American, just seeing this happen?
COLLIER NAVAROLI: Terrified. It was horrifying to experience political violence, happen, within our country, at such a grand scale.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Jacob Glick was a lawyer, for the January 6 committee, who deposed Navaroli.
JACOB GLICK, INVESTIGATIVE COUNSEL, JANUARY 6 SELECT COMMITTEE: She described employees, including, herself, coming forward, to warn their supervisors. And Anika's telling, they were denied over and over and over and over.
And who knows what could have been avoided, if they had listened to her, and her colleagues, sooner?
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): But Navaroli is not happy with the January 6 committee's final report.
COLLIER NAVAROLI: Social media companies are mentioned hundreds of times within the final report. However, their role, or their responsibility, within that day, and the events of that day, and the violence that occurred, has not been fully laid out.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): The Committee had a so-called "Purple team," dedicated to looking into social media and extremism.
CNN obtained a copy of an unpublished draft document the team prepared. Much of it, which focused on social media's role, in the run-up, to January 6, did not make it into the final report.
O'SULLIVAN (on camera): This is what did not make it into the final cut.
"Social media companies failed to anticipate post-election violence.
Social media platforms had a delayed response to the rise of far-right extremism.
Twitter was paralyzed by a fear of political reprisals.
Key decisions, at Twitter, were bungled by incompetence and poor judgment."
COLLIER NAVAROLI: I risked a lot to come forward and to speak to the Committee, and to share the truth, about these momentous occasions in history. And, I think, it is really a missed opportunity that the Committee did not include that information, forefront and center, within their report.
O'SULLIVAN (on camera): Anika, and others, say, the January 6 committee, missed a real opportunity, here.
You worked on the Committee. Do you agree with that?
GLICK: The report did its job exceedingly well, which was to show the American public, the dangers, posed by President Trump's multi-layered attack, on our democracy.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): As for the draft document, Jacob Glick says it includes errors, and shouldn't have been released.
O'SULLIVAN (on camera): Do you think social media companies fully appreciate the role that they played in January 6th?
GLICK: I don't think so. That lack of awareness, of responsibility, is stark!
COLLIER NAVAROLI: By seeing this information, we will be able to understand better what happened on January 6, in order to ensure that it doesn't continue to repeat itself.
O'SULLIVAN: And, of course, the social media companies, like Twitter, have gone, to great lengths, over the years, to explain what they say they are doing, to crack down on violent rhetoric, on their platforms, including, in the run-up, to January 6.
Some sources, we spoke to, on the January 6 committee, said, "Look, not everything the Committee learned could fit into the final report."
But John, clearly, for some of these whistleblowers, they didn't go far enough.
BERMAN: No. And they were in the middle of it all. And they want that story to be told.
BERMAN: Donie O'Sullivan, terrific report. Great to see you.
O'SULLIVAN: Thanks, John.
BERMAN: So, the news continues. "CNN TONIGHT" with Alisyn Camerota, is next, right after a quick break.