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Don Lemon Tonight

President Biden's Response To Spike In Crime: More Police Officers And More Funding; Nikole Hannah-Jones Declines UNC Tenure Position And Will Join Howard University; Backlash Against Racist Fans After Online Abuse Of Black Soccer Players For England; Biden Meets With Team Of Law Enforcement Officials At White House To Address Rising Crime; Vice President Kamala Harris Holds Listening Session On Voting Rights. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired July 12, 2021 - 23:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN HOST (on camera): Welcome back, everyone. DON LEMON TONIGHT. Joining me to talk about today's top stories, political stories, CNN White House correspondent, John Harwood, and Democratic strategist, Joe Trippi, he is now a senior adviser at the Lincoln Project.

Gentlemen thank you so much. John, I'm going to start with you. President Biden is focusing on the spike in crime across the country, pushing for more police, more funding for their departments. What are you hearing about this clear step away from the progressive wing of his party?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Don, what it is a clear step toward majority opinion in the country. Remember, Joe Biden has never been for defunding the police. He was nominated over a series of more liberal Democratic candidates and of course elected president. Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, does not support defunding the police, nor does Chuck Schumer.

There is a relatively small group of progressive lawmakers who have adopted that slogan. Most of the rest of the party considers it a liability. Now there is a significant overlap between some of the things that Joe Biden is for and some of the things that defund the police crowd are for.

For example, he wants to, as part of his anticrime program, crack down on unlicensed gun dealers. He wants to help former felons who are free from incarceration reintegrate into society. He wants to encourage community intervention programs to prevent violence. He's not against other ways of preventing violence.

But when it comes to cutting police budgets, reducing the amount of police officers on the street, Joe Biden is not for that, he's not going to be for that. In fact he's encouraging the opposite with a lot of the money for state and local governments and the American rescue plan, $350 billion, and they're encouraging localities to use that if needed to support police budgets because crime is a top concern to the American people and Joe Biden is responding to that.


LEMON: So you think where Joe Biden is, is where the party is. And maybe my question, maybe I framed it wrong, because I said it was a quick step away from the progressive wing of the party, perhaps my question was framed improperly. What do you think?

HARWOOD: Well, I don't know that it was framed improperly. There is a progressive wing at the Party that does favor that slogan and things behind the slogan. Reducing police departments in favor of alternative forms of intervention, not sending a gun and a badge to a lot of police interventions and again, I think those are some things that Joe Biden would also be for. But I do think that a majority of Democratic elected officials, a majority of the Democratic Party, is not looking to cut police budgets, and neither is Joe Biden.

LEMON: Alright. So Joe, let me bring you in. President Biden is giving a big speech tomorrow, making the case for voting rights while the GOP is actively restricting the right to vote in statehouses. You're worried about 2022, so much so that you joined the Lincoln Project. I introduced you as now a member of the Lincoln Project. If Democrats don't do something about voting rights now, are they going to lose in the midterms?

JOE TRIPPI, CNN DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST (on camera): Well, there's a lot we have to do now or we're going to have real problems in midterms. Part of that is because one of the reasons I joined the Lincoln Project is because we have to stop seeing this as Republicans versus Democrats and right versus left. This really is all of us building -- I think we have to have a pro-democracy coalition to fight for voting rights, to fight against this authoritarian movement that's taken over the Republican Party.

It's one thing, as John says, look, we have wings in the Democratic Party. They're going to argue about these issues. But that wing -- you know, no wing has control. Joe Biden is proof of that. If the progressive wing of the party had been taking control of the Democratic Party completely, Joe Biden wouldn't be the nominee. There were plenty of other candidates that they supported. The same thing we saw in New York a few days ago with the election there for mayor.

It is an important wing. It's got a voice. It's going to be heard. The problem is on the Republican side, it's not a wing that's taken over their party. It's an authoritarian movement led and fueled by Trump.

And the only way to defeat that is if the rest of all of us form a pro-democracy coalition, Democrats, Republicans, independents. If the press stops covering this as liberals versus Republicans, you know, conservatives, Democrats versus Republicans, and starts to cover this as what it is, a fight for our democracy against an authoritarian movement.

And one great example of this is how much the press talks about how Joe Biden has failed to reach his 70 percent of Americans getting their vaccination for the coronavirus. He didn't fail. This guy, this administration, made sure that every American, every American can get it, has access to it within five miles from where they live, most of them.

And after doing all that, there's a movement out there that applauds that people -- that it's failing. And yet the press still covers it as Biden failing to get to his 70 percent goal. He did set that goal. I get that. But that's not why we're missing it. We're missing it because of this authoritarian movement that, you know, forget the facts. It's not just the big lie of the election. It's a bunch of lies.

LEMON: Yes. Well, you should continue to watch the show because that's not how we cover it. I'm not saying that you're talking about us.

TRIPPI: No, I know. I'm not talking about you.

LEMON: Here's how we cover it. Here's how we covered it tonight. That there were people at CPAC and how it was ashamed that they were applauding that America didn't reach its goal, that Joe Biden didn't reach his goal which is shameful, not that Joe Biden didn't reach the goal. There's context, there's nuance.

TRIPPI: No, Don, I wasn't talking about your show.


LEMON: I know, I'm just saying. I just want to make sure. Joe, it's a pleasure to have you on. John, we'll see you soon, both of you soon as well. Thanks so much.

TRIPPI: Thanks.

LEMON: Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones declining the University of North Carolina's offer of tenure, instead she's accepting a faculty role at historically Black Howard University. The Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and creator of the 1619 project had been chosen as UNC's knight chair in race and journalism. And despite the recommendation by the school's tenure committee, her tenure was initially denied by the UNC board of trustees.

After protests from alumni, faculty, and students, the board changed its decision and offered her tenure at the end of June, an offer she then turned down. Nikole Hannah-Jones joins me now.


Nikole, thank you so much. Good to see you. Since we last talked, boy, you've had a lot going on in your life. I'm going to get to your decision to go to Howard in just a minute. But I just want to get to some things that are happening in the news. Just this weekend we saw how your 1619 project remains a rallying cry for those on the right. I want you to listen. This is South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem is at the CPAC conference. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. KRISTI NOEM (R-SD): The 1619 project, critical race theory, is

hate, division, it's not American. It's offensive. We do not have racism in our DNA in this country, we love each other.


LEMON: Obviously there's a lot to unpack there Nikole. But why do you think Republicans interpret your work that way and make it a key part of their politics?

NIKOLE HANNAH-JONES, JOURNALIST: I think that most Republicans who say things like that have not bothered to read even a single essay in the 1619 project, and especially not my opening essay on democracy which talks about my dad flying his flag despite being born into a country where black people had no equality. And it ends with me saying black people have as much claim on this country because we helped build democracy as much as any group of people here.

So that's not American, that's basically the black people are not American and that our freedom struggles to help his country to live up to its founding ideals is anti-American. And we know, that's a very old trope that conservatives have used to say that those who call on our country to live up to its highest ideals are not American. What I would say is not American is supporting an insurrection on the Capitol of this country.

So I think that Republicans have determined that talking about racial inequality is going to be a wedge issue to really stoke resentment amongst their base. And they are conflating critical race theory, 1619 project, any true accounting of the history of our country, as something that is in opposition to America and to whiteness which of course it's not.

LEMON: You just mentioned that, I mean, you mentioned critical race theory, they've latched on to this term, critical race theory, to stir up controversy about teaching about systemic racism in schools, How do you cut through the noise on this? Because it seems like the GOP slogan, the slogan tactics, it seems like they are working. Even though critical race theory right is, I mean, in its purest form, or critical race theory is not being taught in elementary schools, it's not even a part of the curriculum. So, why do you think that?

HANNAH-JONES: Well, one, they have yet to show me the fourth grade or fifth grade teacher who is teaching critical race theory. In fact until Republicans decided that this going to be a winning issue for them, most k-12 educators have probably never heard of critical race theory, which is simply a legal and theoretical framework that says after the civil rights movement, black Americans still face discrimination across American life, why is that?

And really gets into the way discrimination is embedded into many of the structures of a country that was literally founded on slavery. So, I think what has happened, though, is Republicans are very good at messaging and very good at kind of turning the eyes of the media to framing the discussions the way that they want them framed. Instead of simply dismissing out of hand the fact that critical theory, one, is not about calling every white person racist, that it is actually in opposition to that, it's talking about structures instead of individuals.

We are allowing them to kind of frame the conversation. And I think we have to stop doing that and simply stop covering critical race as some big concerns amongst most Americans and get back to covering in a real life.

LEMON: Well, because critical race theory has been around for a long time but now it appears that it's something that sticks, therefore the right, the right wing media, have latched on to it because they see it's a way, it has been reported, to win back the suburbs by stoking fear among educated whites. But listen, But listen, let me just read this.

I've read this piece in The New York Times by Ross Douthat, it was Saturday or Sunday. He advocates first teaching what he calls a patriotic foundation that focuses on heroes, black and white, who did good things and remarkable things and then introduce the warts and all history in its painful parts and our past. So what is your response to that idea, teaching the patriotism of both blacks and whites and other all people who contributed to this country, and then introduce the other stuff?

HANNAH-JONES: So one, it must be, you know, an amazing luxury to hold off on the painful stuff until the right moment. Because I can tell you, as a black Americans, as (inaudible) American, as Asian- Americans, we can't hold off on those painful parts because they explain so much about our very existence in what became the United States.


So how does one teach about black patriots and not say that the war that black people were fighting was actually against their fellow countrymen to be recognized as full and equal citizens? We're going to teach about George Washington but not teach about how he got his wealth and privilege, was on the forced labor of black Americans because we're going to hold off on that until later?

So I think we need to really think about what's being said here. What's being said is not that we should teach a truthful accounting of our history. What we're being told is that if we teach a truthful accounting of our history, it's so awful that maybe people won't be patriotic anymore. So I just think that that is really giving the game away, that this isn't really about telling the truth, this isn't about making sure that our children learn an accurate accounting of our history.

It is about creating a narrative of American nationalism that is predicated on ignoring the histories of black Americans and other marginalized groups until the appropriate time when we feel that I guess white children are ready to learn that because black children learn these things at a very young age.

LEMON: And how do you teach about Harriet Tubman without telling the reason why Harriet Tubman needed to do what she did and the purpose of the underground railroad, et cetera?

HANNAH-JONES: I'm not running away from. I'm not sure, if we can't talk about that.

LEMON: Yes. Now let's walk through your decision to teach at Howard University over your alma mater of UNC. How did you decide to go to Howard instead?

HANNAH-JONES: Well, you know, there were basically kind of three pivotal moments in my decision. One, I spent some time looking at the resumes of the members of the board of trustees who felt that they were better qualified than the faculty and the peer reviewers at the University of North Carolina to determine that I was not worthy of tenure. And I really decided that I didn't want to be in a position where political appointees would have any say over my career or my life again.

And then of course there was the largest donor to the school, the University of North Carolina, Walter Huntsman, who we found out in the last six week had been lobbying against me privately and then who went on kind of a national speaking tour to castigate me as a journalist publicly. And his name is on the school. It became very difficult for me to believe I could maintain my dignity and work at a school with his name on it.

And then there was the kind of third nail in the coffin was, the board of trustees waited until the last possible day, the last possible moment to vote on my tenure in a split vote and actually allowed law enforcement to push and pummel student's protesters in the process. And it is just -- it was no longer a University that I wanted to work for the position that I wanted.

And I knew pretty early on that if I wasn't going to go to the University of North Carolina, I was going to go to a historically black college because, Don, you and I both know, really, the burden of always trying to force your way into institutions that show that they don't want you or don't believe you're good enough to be there. I've proven that enough in my life, and I decided the best way for me to use my talents and resources was to go to an institution geared towards black excellence and help support that institution and the work that it's doing.

LEMON: Listen, I know it's tiring. I mean, I think most African- Americans know that, especially people who are of a certain generation. Did you ever consider, though, and this runs through all of our heads, maybe I'm missing an opportunity to do some truth telling or, you know, maybe you miss an opportunity to do some truth telling by choosing Howard over UNC, where you could hold them accountable while you're still there. No?

HANNAH-JONES: Yeah, I mean, I've gotten that question a lot. And I've certainly thought about it. But I'm 45 years old. I've been truth telling for my entire adult life.

LEMON: I said people of a certain age. I didn't want to say --


HANNAH-JONES: That's OK, it's on Wikipedia. You know, and I just don't want that fight. I feel like the obligation to sacrifice ourselves, to be in hostile territory is always placed on marginalized people. The people who need (inaudible) what happened at UNC, the other people who empowered and created this circumstance.

And the last thing I would like to say quickly on that, I am not there to -- I wasn't coming to UNC to be a racial justice advocate, I was coming to UNC to teach journalism. And I am going to be teaching journalism to students who have long gone to underfunded journalism programs. HBCUS can't draw the resources of a place like the University of North Carolina. And those students are just as worthy as getting someone like me in the classroom to instruct them in journalism as the students at the University of North Carolina.


I'm sad I won't be instructing those students. Those students have been great advocates, they protested on my behalf. But I'll still be engaging with the University, it's my alma mater and I'll still support it, just not in the classroom.

LEMON: So, again, I have to ask you this. And I'm asking you, I know -- it may seem this question, may seem a little late, but I'm getting to talk to you, because I've been off, spending time with my family, three different generations, right, especially of black women in my family, my family is dominated by women. My mom, my sisters, and my nieces, right. And then we of course are the younger generation, because it's my great nephews, but they're nephews, guys.

So, before you go, you will now be colleagues with actress Felicia Rashad who is the dean of Howard's college of fine arts. Now, you know, she sent this letter to the school students and parents apologizing for tweeting in celebration of Bill Cosby's sexual assault conviction being overturned. She since deleted that tweet, she's apologized. What do you think about that, what do you think of the situation?

HANNAH-JONES: I was really bothered and offended by the tweet that Dean Rashad sent. I'm a woman. I know many women who were on that campus. I know women who were sexually assaulted while they were on a college campus. So I think she has some serious work to do to regain the trust of the students that she's going to be called to serve. And if I know anything about Howard's students, they are going to make sure that she does that work.

LEMON: Do you think there's a generational divide, especially among women? Because there was in my House, without going into specifics, I'm sure you can imagine. The women who are older in my family didn't feel exactly the way Felicia Rashad, but were more than others, the younger folks, who were willing to cut some slack in areas. The younger women in my family were like, no way. Do you know what I'm saying?

HANNAH-JONES: Yeah, I think Bill Cosby holds a certain place in a certain generation of black Americans who saw him break many barriers. But what I'll also say is, Bill Cosby had 60 accusations and admitted in his own deposition testimony that he drugged women in order to have sex with him. So, there may be a generational divide, but I'll tell you, I think the facts are clear on what happened here and what side women should be on.

LEMON: Yes. No one said that he was -- no one believed that he was innocent. And I think you understand what I'm saying. Thank you, Nikole, always a pleasure.

HANNAH-JONES: Thank you, I appreciate it, Don.

LEMON: So this is really the story that everybody is talking about. I mean, as we used to say, water cooler. The racist online abuse of some black soccer players for England following their Euro 2020 final defeat by Italy, and the backlash against those racist fans, next.



LEMON: OK, so tonight in England, outrage is spreading over racist social media posts attacking three black soccer players after England's national team lost to Italy in the Euro 2020 final. Prince William is weighing in. And he is saying, sickened and appalled by the racist messages. I want to talk about this now with Trisha Goddard, a British journalist and broadcaster.

It's good to see you, it feels like forever since we've been speaking about Meghan and Harry, it actually hasn't been that long and now we have this. But Trisha, thanks for joining us again. The racist abuse against these three England soccer -- excuse me, stars is vile. How upset were you when you saw all of this hate thrown at them especially after the English team joined them in kneeling throughout the tournament to protest racial inequality?

TRISHA GODDARD, BRITISH JOURNALIST AND BROADCASTER (on camera): Well, you know, I wasn't surprised. I think I like a lot of black Brits, were kind of nervous, because, you know, we're British, we wanted England to win, but there was worry. We were reticent because we thought there would be a surge of the xenophobia and the racism that we've seen bubbling under. And yet, you know, here we are in the same situation.

I mean, the sort of stuff you see online hasn't just come about because of this. It's you know, first of all, there was the criticism about the soccer players taking the knee. And (Inaudible) the manager of this great and saying, look, you know, we want to continue doing this.

But there was -- you know, there was a pretty lukewarm response to taking the knee from Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Home Secretary Patel, and then now sort of some (inaudible) of being accused of being the people who helped kindle the flames and then have run over to the side of the fire brigade once the whole thing explodes. But I was shocked but not surprised. LEMON: Yes. So, listen -- one of the players, I want to (inaudible) --

one of the players who was targeted, Marcus Rashford, I should say, I want to release his statement. I want to read the statement. He released a statement saying this, I can take critique of my performance all day long. My penalty was not good enough. It should have gone in. But I will never apologize for who I am and where I come from. I felt no prouder moment than wearing those three lions on my chest and seeing my family cheer me on in a crowd of tens of thousands.

Look, racist attacks like these sadly aren't new to European soccer. Do you think players are now standing up against this in ways that they haven't before?

GODDARD: Well, they've been standing up against it a lot. I mean, there's organization called kick out racism, you know, that works with soccer players. So they've always tried to do it.


But here's the issue. The online abuse is one thing, and I know culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, has asked -- you know, started saying we're going to start coming down heavily on a lot of the social media posts, but the online newspapers still -- I mean, here's the thing.

Here's the thing, Don. I do not believe for one minute that, for instance, The New York Times or The Washington Post would have published all the racist abuse, big examples and screenshots of the racist abuse on social media that's been taking place. And yet the British newspapers have published that. I mean, all over again. And I know from friends of mine and myself, that is incredibly triggering, that they can do that.

So it's not just football. It's a much wider thing. The U.S. doesn't seem to have much of a problem -- as much of a problem at admitting, yes, there's racism. Slavery happened on American soil. We still have monuments to it, memories of it.

In the U.K., it was all done in the colonies. It was all done overseas. So there's that kind of out of sight, you know, out of sight, out of mind thing. I mean, I'm forever arguing. If you try to say that there's any racism in Britain, they'll bite back, you know, no, there's not. No, there's not. And this has actually shown that yes, there is.

LEMON: I love speaking to you. Trisha, thank you so much. Be well. Good to see you.

GODDARD: Thank you. Good to see you, too, Don. Thanks.

LEMON: Thank you. Amid a spiking crime and gun violence all across the country, President Joe Biden is holding a meeting today at the White House with law enforcement officials from around the nation. But will their proposals work?




LEMON: President Biden increasingly concerned about the spike in crime and gun violence across the country, holding a meeting today at the White House with the attorney general as well as law enforcement officials and elected leaders from around the nation.

The White House is saying that some of the billions of dollars from the massive COVID relief program passed earlier this year can be used to fight crime, including hiring more police officers.

I want to bring in now Alvin Bragg. He is the Democratic candidate for Manhattan district attorney. Thank you so much, Mr. Bragg, for joining. I appreciate it.

So, we see what's going on in New York City. Shooting incidents this year have surpassed last year's year-to-date count. More incidents. More victims. What President Biden is proposing, is that going to work to stop the surge in crime?

ALVIN BRAGG, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Well, I think we have to take a really holistic approach. I've seen gun violence from all perspectives. I've had a semi-automatic weapon pointed at my head. I had a friend shot at a half a block away from me. And so I think we need to look at all sorts of models.

When I was the number two lawyer at the New York attorney general's office, we really focused on stopping the flow of guns into New York State because we have very strong gun laws here, and I would put that really at the top of the list of what we need to do to prioritize particularly locally here in New York.

LEMON (on camera): Yeah. Let's talk more about that because New York City's Democratic mayoral candidate, Eric Adams, was in the room with President Joe Biden. He spoke with Anderson earlier tonight. Watch this.


ERIC ADAMS, NEW YORK CITY DEMOCRATIC MAYORAL CANDIDATE: Fighting crime is both intervention and prevention. Many people talk only about the preventive aspect of it. We must deal with the crime that we're facing now. Many of my colleagues throughout this country, they were reluctant to talk about it. Even in the city of New York, they were reluctant to talk about the crime that we were facing on our streets. And I refuse to do so.


LEMON (on camera): Listen. He's right. I had him on and he was talking about crime and the importance of crime in what he planned to do and other candidates weren't talking about it or at least speaking about it in different ways than he was. Do you agree? What is your approach to bring crime down?

BRAGG: Look, so, you know, just by way of background, I'm a career both civil rights and federal and state prosecutor. So I've prosecuted gun trafficking cases. I prosecuted gun possession cases. And so I think we need an all of the above approach. We need some of that traditional work that I've done. We also need investment in our communities.

You know, I've been talking to our cure violence folks who are really running to the fire and doing -- interrupting to stop retaliation. We need our hospital interventions.

So I think with guns, it is urgent. I'm living in this every day. I live in Harlem, which is where I grew up. Before I turned 21, I had a gun pointed at me six times, three by the police and three by people who were not the police.

I think we need to wed (ph) the issues of police accountability and fairness and safety through using both our civil rights and our law enforcement approaches, which is what I've been doing the last 20-plus years.

LEMON: Listen. I have to switch gears here because you still have to win in November, right? But you're likely to succeed current Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance or Cy Vance as he is called here or as he is known. And that means potentially taking over the criminal case against the Trump Organization and its CFO, Allen Weisselberg.


LEMON: How do you plan on handling that?

BRAGG: Well, you know, as I think, you know, Don, I'm constrained really from talking too much about that case under legal ethics rules since I very well may inherit it.

But I've joined a number of complicated investigations on the eve of trial, in midstream. So the first thing I know is that a complicated, long-term investigation like that, it's my strong default to keep the team intact that's been working on that. And so that's my default. I know the team members, many of them by reputation. So that's my default.

And beyond that, it's just hard. We'll have to see where things stand when I inherit. But I've got a history of doing both public corruption work, you know, prosecuted two mayors, the former majority leader of our state senate, and doing a number of cases like this tax fraud, money laundering. So I stand ready to take it over and follow the facts where they lead.

LEMON: Alvin Bragg, we appreciate you coming on. We hope that you'll come back. Thanks so much.

BRAGG: Thanks so much for having me.

LEMON: Thank you. Vice President Kamala Harris holding a voting rights roundtable today. We're going to hear about it from someone who was in the room, and that is Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, next.




LEMON: Vice President Kamala Harris praising Texas Democrats tonight for fleeing their state to block a restrictive voting bill, saying that they're showing extraordinary courage and commitment. Those comments are coming during a voting rights discussion in Detroit today.

Joining me now is one of the lawmakers who met with the vice president, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. I'm not going to call you Jocelyn anywhere. I apologize for that. Jocelyn Benson, thank you, secretary, for joining us.

You and other lawmakers and activists met with the vice president today to talk about voting rights and threats to voting in Michigan and around the country. What are you hoping the federal government will do?

JOCELYN BENSON (D), MICHIGAN SECRETARY OF STATE: Use every tool at their disposal, from the bully pulpit to their law making ability to their enforcement authority at the Justice Department, to protect the votes of every citizen in this country.

It's clear that the assault on democracy is escalating and it's clear that, as the Democrats in Texas have shown us today, we all need to prioritize this as the most fundamental issue before us in this moment and we have to use every tool at our disposal to ensure that in every election, state, local, and federal, that every vote is protected.

LEMON: Michigan was targeted by the former president and his supporters trying to overturn the election. Lawmakers, including Sidney Powell, Lin Wood, sued using witness statements that claim supposed fraud, right?

Well, today, they faced a district court judge, Linda V. Parker, grilled them on whether they had even tried to verify those statements, saying this. There's a duty that counsel has that when you're submitting a sworn statement, that you have reviewed it, that you have done some minimal due diligence. How do you think today's hearing went?

BENSON: Well, it was six hours. So, it certainly was -- it was a very educational experience, I think, for a lot of folks who watched it. It shows that there is a lot of due diligence happening with regards to this question before the court, should there be consequences for when attorneys who have used their privilege and access to the court to try to undermine democracy with no facts, frivolous claims, with one goal, of sowing seeds of doubt among the public about the integrity of our elections. And I think one of the things that I hope comes out of this and other efforts to seek sanctions against the attorneys who led these frivolous lawsuits are real consequences and accountability, because if we don't have that and this is going to continue, we cannot have this become the new norm in our democracy.

We have to respect the laws. We have to respect the Constitution. We have to respect the votes and people's voices. That's why this hearing today and the consequences that may come from it are so important.

LEMON: These lawyers are facing possible disciplinary action in Michigan. They could face financial penalties, even be barred from practicing law in your state. What do you think should happen?

BENSON: All of the above. And again, until we have real accountability for those who sought to overturn the results of an election simply because they didn't agree with the outcome, we're going to see this continue again and again. That's really my greatest fear, that we what we saw and overcame in 2020 may return in the future elections and maybe worse.

That determination now to find accountability and hold folks to accountable consequences is going to determine whether or not we see a repeat in the future. So I'm hopeful that there will be real consequences here. I certainly think that's the direction the judge is heading in. And I think this is one of numerous ways in which the courts can be utilized to seek justice in this case to prevent future efforts to overturn elections based on frivolous evidence.

LEMON: Listen. You know, it may not be right, but we have seen individuals, right, perpetrate frauds upon the court, right? People who --


LEMON: -- who are not court officers. When you have attorneys who seem to be doing this, do you think any of this, if they face, you know, disciplinary action, what have you, do you think any of this is going to shut down the lies and conspiracies about the election that a lot of folks in Michigan still believe?


BENSON: It's -- well, it's, I think, two different things. One, will people keep trying to spread the lies? And to that answer, I think, this accountability and consequences here, in this case, could stem the flow of this misinformation and efforts to deceive voters that continues to run rampant in our state and in others.

But whether it will disinfect those who have already been affected by these lies and break through that misinformation remains to be seen. I think it's unfortunate that there have been these seeds planted and based on no evidence. We've got a lot of work to do to restore and ensure people have faith, rightfully-placed faith in the integrity of our elections. I'm committed to having those conversations with folks on the ground and continuing to use every tool at my disposal in the state of Michigan to restore citizens' faith in our democracy and ensure that they stay engaged and that we continue to push back against these efforts to deceive any voters in our state about the truth of our democracy.

LEMON: Jocelyn Benson, thank you.

BENSON: Always a pleasure, Don. Thanks for having me.

LEMON: We will be right back.




LEMON: So I want to make sure you know about my podcast. It is called "Silence is Not an Option." I'm taking on the deep conversations about being Black in America. You can find it on your favorite podcast app. Okay? There's a really good episode, the latest one, and then there is another one coming out. Also is my podcast with Chris Cuomo on Apple podcasts. It's called "The Handoff." You can get it there, Apple podcasts.

Thank you for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.