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Don Lemon Tonight
Trump-Appointed Lawyer Tried to Weaponize DOJ to Help Trump; Don Lemon Interviews Fareed Zakaria About the GOP and Election Lies; Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Lawyers Push Back on Sexual Harassment Allegations as Staffer Files Criminal Complaint; Thousands of Bikers Descend on Sturgis Amid COVID Fears; Coronavirus Pandemic in the United States; Know Your History; Tx Gov. Abbott Announces Second Special Session of State Legislature to Push for Voting Restrictions; Black Realtor and Client Cuffed While Touring Home. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired August 06, 2021 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Hundreds of thousands of bikers gathering for the giant Sturgis motorcycle rally in South Dakota, which experts fear will be a super-spreader event. We're going to hear from some of the bikers just ahead.
And new focus tonight on a Trump ally at the DOJ pushing the big lie and trying to overturn the election by claiming without evidence hacking by Chinese intelligence.
So I want to bring in now CNN senior justice correspondent Even Perez. Evan, good evening to you. So we are hearing more each day about what
Trump ally Jeffrey Clark was doing within the DOJ to overturn the election. This latest development may be the most wild of all of them. It involves -- listen to this: A bogus claim about special thermometers from China.
LEMON: Take it away.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right. I know you can't even say with a straight face, right? But this is what he believed. He said -- this is Jeffrey Clark. He was the head of the civil division at the time the acting head of the civil division of the Justice Department in the closing days of the previous administration -- and he said that he had this information from his own secret sources that said that the Chinese intelligence had some kind of special thermometer that they could use to alter vote totals. The answer, of course, is they don't.
But he asked his superiors in the Justice Department, Jeff Rosen, who is the acting attorney general, and Richard Donoghue, who was the deputy attorney general at the time, for permission to get a special high-level classified briefing from the director of National Intelligence to try to check this out.
He went over for the briefing, Don, around the turn of the year, and was told that the intelligence showed that there was no such thing. There was no evidence that there was foreign interference at all to the vote totals, something that, of course, we've known.
And he came away not convinced. He kept pushing this idea. And, of course, we know he helped tried to orchestrate a coup at the Justice Department, trying to get Trump to fire Rosen. In the end, Trump did not do that, but it shows you how close things came there in those crucial days.
LEMON: It's -- everything goes more absurd by the day.
LEMON: CNN is learning that the January 6 select committee is weighing whether to go after call logs from the Trump White House on the day of the riot. What will that tell them?
PEREZ: You know there's a lot that they can learn. One of the things that I think the investigators want to know is, what were the calls, who was calling whom at the White House, including from the Pentagon, including members of Congress.
We know Mark Meadows, for instance, had another nutty theory that he pushed the Justice Department to investigate. For instance, he said he wanted them to look into whether Italian satellites were being used to change vote totals.
This is the kind of thing that we know was going on at this time and some of these call logs could tell you a lot about what other witnesses they need to hear from, Don.
LEMON: We have Chinese thermometers, Italian satellites, and Jewish space lasers.
PEREZ: You can't make it up.
LEMON: Oh, boy. Have a good weekend. Thank you, Evan. Good to see you.
PEREZ: Thank you.
LEMON: So joining me now is CNN's Fareed Zakaria, host of "Fareed Zakaria GPS." Listen, Fareed, it's laughable. True, serious, we've got Chinese thermometers, Italian satellites, and Jewish space lasers.
That is where we are, because the former president was laying the groundwork for the big lie even before the election. He and his cronies pushed it right up to the insurrection. It is clear from everything that we know that he was attempting a coup. Do you have faith that our democracy will hold up if this happens again?
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: I think you're touching on the most worrying part about the Trump legacy, which is the post-truth society that he has built.
ZAKARIA: Trump recognized that what he needed to be able to was manipulate the truth, manipulate the message. And he went at it by essentially saying there is no such thing as truth, there are no such things as facts, the facts I don't like are fake facts.
Now, that is really, you know, attacking the core of the western enlightenment project, the kind of values that America was built on, the enlightenment of the scientific revolution.
So when you start to go into that world of a kind of never, never land where there are no actual facts, January 6 didn't happen or it happened in a completely different form, yeah, I worry a great deal because what is the bulwark if you can't establish that actually what happened there was a violation of our constitutional principles and traditions?
Where do we go? It's not as though the Trump Republicans are saying, yes, it was -- yes, we agree with these facts, but we're not going to punish him. Actually, black is white.
ZAKARIA: What you thought you saw actually didn't happen. It's the most bizarre head fake, you know, that I can imagine.
LEMON: What I've been saying, what I've noticed over these last couple of years, Fareed, maybe this is beyond our pay grade, I'm not a psychologist or psychiatrist, but what it has done to people's psyche and really their mentality, the way that they think, they think differently.
I wonder if in a way it somehow rewired people's brains to believe in lies or just to be able to create their own reality to fit what they wanted to fit, because I can't explain just the absurdity of it all and just the lack of people being more to any sort of truth.
ZAKARIA: Well, you're seeing a direct line to confirm what you're saying, Don. You're seeing a direct line between the post-truth message that Trump has sent out for the last four years and what is happening with vaccines.
You have a group of Americans, something like 20, 25, maybe 30 percent, who despite overwhelming scientific evidence, despite overwhelming scientific expertise, weighing in, telling them, pleading with them to get the vaccine, who simply won't get a vaccine.
So they are denying themselves the treatment, the cure against a deadly disease that has killed 600,000 people, almost twice as many Americans as died in World War II. They are denying themselves the cure for that because they have come to believe the series of falsehoods, lies, myths, conspiracy theories. So it's a pretty powerful belief system that makes you do things that are actually going to harm your own health.
LEMON: Yeah, your own wellbeing. I mean, this isn't really true, but I want it to be true, so I'm going to grab it to try to shape it into or make it into my own reality. It's bizarre.
But, look, the former president and his allies didn't really care about truth, right? They were intent on weaponizing parts of the government to build up a false reality and then stay in power. What it is going to take to restore the damage from all of that or can we do it or are we too far gone?
ZAKARIA: It's a great question, Don, and it is one, you know, I don't really have a good answer, but I do think that when we confront problems like this issue of vaccination, I think we have to stop trying to coddle people who are simply wilfully denying facts and truth and science.
LEMON: Have you been watching my show, Fareed?
ZAKARIA: You know you're not going to be able to persuade them. Just -- you have to get tough. You have to start making it very, very difficult for people to be around in country where they're spreading a disease or they're potentially spreading a disease, right?
I mean, look at what Macron did in France. Despite all the protests, vaccination rates have surged in France.
ZAKARIA: Because he just said, look, you know, life is going to be tough for people who refuse to do this.
LEMON: Fareed, I hope you've been watching the show, because I've been saying that over and over every single night, that at a certain point, some people are just not convincible. You can't convince them.
ZAKARIA: I know.
LEMON: And you have to put your focus on the people who are actually doing the right thing and protecting the people who are playing by the rules and are getting vaccinated and are actually helping their fellow men and themselves.
ZAKARIA: Look, you did the most -- to the extent one can persuade, you did the most extraordinary thing in getting that person who had not yet gotten vaccinated, got COVID, and then from his hospital bed is sending a message through you to tell the people to get vaccinated. Maybe that can work.
But I think the most important thing at this point is to try and create a set of policies that, as you say, just say to people, look, you know, when you buy a car in America, you are forced to, required by law, to wear seatbelts, drive it, you know, observing the speed limit, not to be drunk when you're driving, to get insurance, to get regular inspections.
We mandate vaccines, for goodness sake. No kid can go to public school in America without getting a whole slew of vaccines. This is part of your responsibility as a citizen in a free society.
LEMON: It is just interesting to say, (INAUDIBLE) going to be in a vaccine passport. I mean, would you call a driver's license a driving passport? I mean --
LEMON: You know, (INAUDIBLE) certain things. In society, you have to have a license or you have to go through -- clear certain hoops for it. That's just -- that's how democracy works.
ZAKARIA: Can you call your car inspection sticker an inspection passport?
ZAKARIA: Guess what, we've got a lot of those passports. You know, when you buy a home, do you have to have an insurance passport? Yes, you have documentation to prove that you are observing the law of the land.
LEMON: Yeah. It's absurd. Fareed Zakaria, thank you. It's always a pleasure to see you.
LEMON: It's always a pleasure to watch you, especially on "Fareed Zakaria GPS" at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. on Sundays right here on CNN. Fareed, thanks again.
I want to turn now to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's legal team fighting back against sexual harassment allegations against him.
Joining me now is CNN political commentator Errol Louis. Errol, thank you. Here we go. So, we have been these conversations overnight. I said, anything is possible in New York politics. Have I not said that?
ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You have said that.
LEMON: I have said that. So, the governor -- you covered Governor Cuomo for years, by the way. What was your reaction to the approach of his attorneys that they took today attacking the accusers and the investigation? What did you think?
LOUIS: It's a little bit surreal. It was very tone-deaf. It involved victim blaming and some really strange departures into trivia, frankly, a minutia. They are trying to impeach the credibility of one of the accusers by showing some strange timeline, proving that she was, in fact, in the executive mansion where the governor was on a day when he was there. I'm not sure what they were trying to do, but it seemed to backfire.
Really what they were doing, Don, is acting as if they were in a court of law complaining about some pretty abstract procedural complaints that they had. But there's nobody to complain to. This is not a court of law. There is no judge to appeal to. This is a report that the governor himself had requested.
The attorney general undertook the investigation and presented the report. The report is not what they liked and it doesn't make him look very good, but these are the facts that they found.
And so they are going -- they signalled really that they're going to fight in every way possible, even when it doesn't quite make sense. That's kind of where we are right now.
LEMON: So is it for -- you said they're acting as if they're in a court of law. But this is, I think, in many ways about court of public opinion because he is trying to stay in office. You say that you believe -- your words, that these attacks on the victims or whatever, this strategy will backfire. Why are you saying that?
LOUIS: Yes, yes, yes. Well, listen, we're in a different place than we were even five years ago, let alone 10 or 20. Core Democrats in New York will not put up with women being attacked.
In order to refute the 11 separate allegations by 11 women who are in completely different positions, in many cases don't know each other, he's going to have to come up with 11 different nefarious motives that all of these women independently enacted and rose up to (INAUDIBLE) use against the governor for some odd purpose.
It's just not very plausible, and I don't think most New Yorkers are going to think that that is what happened, that 11 separate political plots by 11 different women were all concocted, at great cost to them, by the way, in many cases, and that it was all made up.
LEMON: Let me jump in here because I want to put up the polls here. Before I put up the polls, because you said majority of New Yorkers, look, quite honestly, I have heard people say, well, you know, I don't think it was that bad or I don't think he should resign or -- I'm sure you heard that. You're out and about with people.
LOUIS: Oh, yes.
LEMON: So, what do you think? I have heard that. Let us put the polls up. The Quinnipiac poll shows that majority of New Yorkers all across the party think that he should resign. But, you know, again, he is defiant. So, what do you think of the folks who say, nope, shouldn't resign because we don't know who else will go? You heard all of it.
LOUIS: Yeah, I've heard it. There are people who are making what is, in my opinion, an immoral argument, saying that this is a good governor, he helped us get through COVID, and he's a really good public servant, therefore, therefore what?
Therefore, 11 women should put up with harassment and have their personal dignity and their careers derailed or turned into like the play thing for somebody who engaged in predatory behavior that should -- quote -- "take one for the team" or something like that? It just doesn't make sense. It is not a moral argument.
The reality is the law specifies, and I think custom now, evolving custom in New York and around the country, is that people's personal dignity does matter, that not being harassed in the workplace is important, and that it's just as important as doing a good job if you're the leader of the state.
And so those two things are actually not incompatible. It doesn't have to be one or the other. You can be a really good governor who did some really crummy things to some women for which he is going to be expected to pay the price.
LEMON: Yeah. So, again, let us back to the court of public opinion today. You don't think he did himself any favors -- shouldn't say himself -- his attorneys did him any favors today?
LOUIS: No, no, no. They left him worse than he was, to be honest, Don.
LEMON: Didn't change any minds?
LOUIS: Certainly didn't change any minds. It gave maybe some talking points to people who are already determined to defend the governor.
LOUIS: We haven't seen any of them in public but there are probably some people out there who voted for him and still think he is a pretty good guy and remember what a good job he's done over the years and in particular during the COVID crisis.
On the other hand, when asked direct questions because it was a press conference, there were reporters who had some really simple questions, especially about the 11th accuser, the one that we never knew about before --
LOUIS: -- the trooper who was on his personal detail, and says that the rules were changes, that he met he briefly and then asked to have her on the personal detail and that he did untoward things and touched her in a way that was sexual and suggestive and made all kinds of comments that she didn't like and she felt very uncomfortable about.
So when asked about this, how could he have done this? The lawyer didn't really have any answers. What she said was, he met her briefly, he liked the fact that she made eye contact and was assertive, and then he did all of these things to get her on his personal detail.
She basically ended up confirming what the accuser had said, which is after a very brief meeting, the governor went out of his way to put this one, to change the rules, longstanding rules, to put this woman on his personal detail. They did not do him any favors with that.
LEMON: Hey, I got a quick question, if you can answer quickly. I'm not sure. I may be setting you up here. Sorry from doing that. The other thing that I am hearing is, I'm sure you as well, the legacy. There is, you know, the political legacy of the Cuomo family. That it is -- that Andrew Cuomo should be more concerned about that at this point than anything in trying to save or rescue that. Is that a fair assessment?
LOUIS: It is a fair assessment. There are a lot of veterans of the Mario Cuomo and Andrew Cuomo administration who are part of the larger political family, who are shaking their heads. They're devastated by this. They are saying this this will affect the legacy.
You've asked me each night, Don, what would it take for the governor to just walk away from all of this? And the answer is his blood family, his real family, his brother, his mother, his sister, and his daughters. If they come to him and say, listen, this is doing damage beyond just you, beyond just your attempt at re-election, beyond even your legal problems.
There's the question of what the Cuomos have meant to New York. That's something we know that the governor takes very, very seriously. So, where others have not been able to get through to him, that particular argument might resonate with him.
LEMON: Errol, fascinating conversation, as always. We will have you back. Errol Louis, thank you, sir. And I see your tan suit, and I raise you an almost tan suit. Thank you very much.
LOUIS: Have fun, brother. Got to stay cool.
LEMON: Thank you very much. Is this the next super-spreader event? You're looking at it right here. Hundreds of thousands of people expected at South Dakota's Sturgis motorcycle rally this weekend. Hear what some of the bikers have to say. That is next.
LEMON: Starting today, an estimated 700,000 people are expected to gather in South Dakota for the annual Sturgis motorcycle rally. They're going to ride their bikes, attend concert, and hang out in bars. While it sounds like a whole lot of fun, it really does, health experts warn it's likely to be a COVID-19 super-spreading event. The CDC traced more than 600 cases to last year's rally. But that's not stopping the bikers from rolling into town.
CNN's Adrienne Broaddus is there.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
UNKNOWN (voice-over): It is a massive roar that encapsulates our entire body (ph) here.
ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A defiant roar drowning any fears of the pandemic.
UNKNOWN: You know what, I don't think about it. If it happens, you deal with it. I've never taken any vaccines since I was six, so I'm good.
BROADDUS: Sturgis, a town of about 7,000 is home to the largest motorcycle rally in the world. And once again, despite the rising number of COVID cases, the pandemic won't keep an estimated 700,000 people away.
DANIEL AINSLIE, STURGIS CITY MANAGER: If we were to cancel, that would have a massive ripple effect. That will affect a lot of small business owners as well as a lot of individuals.
BROADDUS (voice-over): About 460,000 people hailing from all corners of the U.S. attended last year's rally. In a recent study, CDC researchers said at least 463 primary cases, including one death, were reported within two weeks of the 10-day tradition, and another 186 were identified as secondary contact. Cases were reported as far as Florida and Maine.
(On camera): Are you all concerned about COVID at all?
UNKNOWN: I'm vaccinated.
UNKNOWN: I'm vaccinated.
UNKNOWN: My wife stayed home. My wife stayed home.
UNKNOWN: She has COVID right now, so she stayed home, yes.
UNKNOWN: I already had it.
BROADDUS: Are you concerned about COVID this year, the delta?
UNKNOWN: No. I had it already. I kicked its butt.
SHANKAR KURRA, VP MEDICAL AFFAIRS, MONUMENT HEALTH: I wouldn't be surprised if we have a super-spreader event there.
BROADDUS (voice-over): Dr. Shankar Kurra with Monument Health fears a rise in cases and hospitalizations starting 10 days from the rally's start.
KURRA: There's no easy way to hold a mass gathering event. So, the Sturgis rally, unfortunately, is unstoppable. I think the best way around would be to get more people vaccinated and to hope that everyone will wear a mask because we don't have mask mandates here.
CAROL FELLNER, STURGIS RESIDENT: About seven days' worth of changes.
BROADDUS (voice-over): But Carol and Mike Fellner aren't taking any chances. Carol is packing their bags.
FELLNER: Our choice is to leave. We are still of the age where we can leave.
FELLNER: We did not feel we have the choice to leave last year, so we stocked up and we stayed home.
BROADDUS (voice-over): As this couple escapes the constant rumble --
MIKE FELLNER, STURGIS RESIDENT: Move, move.
BROADDUS (voice-over): -- others see Sturgis as an escape from COVID restrictions. But when everyone leaves again, the Fellners fear COVID will stick around.
M. FELLNER: The people who came in for the rally are going to go home. It's not just going to spread here. It is going to spread far and wide.
C. FELLNER: We do feel like the best solution for us in our stage of life is to leave, not be a part of it.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
BROADDUS (on camera): Meanwhile, South Dakota's governor, Kristi Noem, is expected to participate in a charity ride on Monday. Meanwhile, a lot of folks might be wondering, what is the big deal? This rally is happening outside. Well, health experts say the concern is when people leave from outside and go into bars. For example, they're shoulder to shoulder, on crowded party buses. That's when there's an increased risk.
Think about it. Last weekend, there was a big music festival in Chicago. But in order to get inside, even though that event was outside, people had to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test. That's not required here. It's a little quiet here right now, Don. That is because riders are a few blocks away at a concert on a 600-acre campground. Don?
LEMON: I do have to say, Adrienne, it sounds fun. It really does. But be safe out there. Mask you. All right, I'll see you soon. Thanks. Adrienne Broaddus in Sturgis for us.
Officials worry that this will be a super-spreader event. So, what is going through the minds of some 700,000 people going to Sturgis? I'm going to ask someone who has been trying to get inside the minds of the unvaccinated. That's next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: The U.S. is hitting a vaccine milestone today. Fifty percent of the population, more than 165 million people, now fully vaccinated, according to the CDC. And more shots can't come soon enough as delta tears through the unvaccinated population.
Joining me now is public health expert Brian Castrucci. He is the president and CEO of the de Beaumont Foundation. Thank you, Brian. Appreciate you joining.
BRIAN CASTRUCCI, PRESIDENT AND CEO, DE BEAUMONT FOUNDATION: Don, thanks for having me.
LEMON: So I want to start by getting your reaction to what is happening in Sturgis. Are you concerned about this, people from all over the country, many likely unvaccinated, you think this is going to be super-spreader event?
CASTRUCCI: Yeah, I'm very concerned. The slogan this year for Sturgis is we're spreading our wings, but I'm concerned they're going to be spreading a lot more than just their wings. This could be a real serious turn for our country.
When you look at some of the data that has come up about the delta variant, they should be very concerned. Governor Noem has said that there is a risk with everything that we do in life, and she's right. But that doesn't mean that we court risk. We don't use that to justify smoking or binge drinking or if you and I were sitting on a beach and there sharks in the water, we wouldn't run in and say, well, life has risks.
LEMON: Hmm. You know, it is interesting because as our reporter was pointing out, most places that have these big events, you got to show, you know, your vaccine card. In many cases, you have to mask up and so on and so forth.
But these are people who have been -- many of them, not all of them, or should say some of them because I don't really know the exact percentage, who said, hey, I'm not getting a vaccine, we are not doing it, I'm not afraid of COVID.
Listen, when I spoke with -- I spoke with Frank Luntz last night, a pollster, you know him, about a focus group that you did with 21 unvaccinated Americans about what would convince them to get the vaccine. One of the biggest movers for people was mandates for vaccine in order to go to places like restaurants and gyms. What else did you find, Brian?
CASTRUCCI: Well, I think it is time right now, we've done the education, we've done the messaging, and for a lot of people, it is just going to come down to a simple message, and that message is no. No, you can't get back to normal if you're unvaccinated. No, you can't go to your university or work or that sporting event you want to go to.
And I want to compliment places like Disney, Google and Facebook who are stepping up and prioritizing community health over individual objection, because, you know, right now, there are houses on fire. We want people to help stamp out the flames, not throw gasoline on it.
LEMON: So, you know, we have to convince a lot of people very quickly to fix the situation we're in. Are there any clear steps that you took from these conversations for how to get us there?
CASTRUCCI: Well, actually, I have some hopeful news from some data that we're going to release on Monday. We just did a poll, Frank and I together, on parents who are both vaccinated and unvaccinated. And this is what is hopeful. We have a confluence that is going to come together. It's going to be the delta variant plus the FDA full authorization when that happens. Those two working together create a real opportunity.
From our data, 51 percent of unvaccinated parents said that FDA approval would increase their likelihood of getting kids vaccinated, 56 percent of unvaccinated parents said that it increases their confidence in the vaccine, and then 66 percent of unvaccinated parents said that the delta variant makes them more concerned and more likely to get their kids vaccinated.
So if we can use this opportunity when the FDA goes to full authorization to really push around these are now extraordinarily safe, we've proven it, billions of people have gotten vaccinations, now let's move on and make the right choice for everyone.
LEMON: Brian Castrucci, I love that name. Thank you, Brian. That is a good name.
CASTRUCCI: Thank you, Don.
LEMON: Thank you, sir. We appreciate you coming on.
So, he says that he is going to call a special session after special session. Texas Governor Greg Abbott is pushing to get voting restrictions made into law. That is next.
And ahead, handcuffed while touring a home for sale. I'm going to speak to the Black man who faced that.
LEMON: Fifty-six years ago today, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law. But the road to getting the legislation was anything but easy.
LEMON: In 1964, three young civil rights workers murdered in Mississippi while trying to register Black voters. In February and March of 1965, demonstrators faced overwhelming violence as they demanded the right to vote, culminating with bloody Sunday.
On March 7th, 1965, police officers attacked 600 marchers in Selma, Alabama, including dozens, including future congressman, John Lewis, who suffered a fractured skull. Five months later, Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law.
But in 2013, the Supreme Court struck down key provisions. And in 2018, a report by a federal commission found new state laws made voting more difficult for Black and brown people. Now, the push for a new voting rights bill is at a boiling point.
In Texas, restrictive voting rights legislation led over 50 Democratic state lawmakers to leave for Washington, preventing a vote on the bill. But now, Governor Greg Abbott is calling a second special session to force a vote.
Joining me now is one of Texas Democrats, State Representative Nicole Collier. Thank you, state representative, for joining us. I appreciate it.
NICOLE COLLIER, MEMBER, TEXAS HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Thank you, Don. Thank you for having me.
LEMON: I love the big Texas flag behind you as well. So, listen, you successfully blocked restrictive voting rights legislation in Texas for now. But in just a few minutes, the first special session ends and Governor Abbott is already calling a second special session starting tomorrow afternoon. Voting rights is still on the agenda. So, now what?
COLLIER: Well, we knew this was going to happen. The governor has vowed to call special session after special session to get what he wants. In fact, he has used the more than 2,100 legislative employees as pawns in his game for power. So we know that he will stop it no --
LEMON: Representative Collier, okay. Representative Collier, her shot has frozen. Her Skype is frozen. We will try to get her back. But again, those lawmakers, some of them are still in Washington and not sure if they're going to continue to stay there, if they're going to rotate in and out. But the governor is finishing up one session, calling another special session to try to get this done.
Okay, so, we're going to take a break. We'll be back. We'll see what happens after this. We'll be right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: So imagine touring a home up for sale and being met by police with guns drawn. It happened on Sunday in Michigan to a Black realtor and his Black client, and the client's 15-year-old son, who is seen here on police body cam video being put into handcuffs. All three were cuffed.
Now, they say if they were white, it wouldn't have happened. Police say a white neighbor called 911, reporting a break-in after seeing the three men at the vacant home. This is dash cam video. It shows one of them leaving the house with his hands up. It turns out a different man was arrested at the home a week earlier for unlawful entry.
The Wyoming, Michigan Police saying tonight in a statement, after a thorough internal review of the actions of each of our public safety officers who responded to this incident, we have concluded race played no role in our officers' treatment of the individuals who were briefly detained, and our officers responded appropriately. While it is unfortunate that innocent individuals were placed in handcuffs, our officers responded reasonably and according to department policy based on the information available to them at the time.
Well, let us talk about this. Joining me now are the perspective homebuyer, Roy Thorne, his son Samuel, and Eric Brown, the realtor showing the home. Thank you all for joining. I appreciate you joining us. I'm sorry this happened to you.
Let us discuss. Eric, you heard what the police said. What did this feel like for you? Did it feel like profiling, racial profiling?
ERIC BROWN, REALTOR HANDCUFFED BY POLICE WHILE SHOWING HOME: It did. Honestly, it did. In that moment, it certainly felt that way. It's difficult to justify that type of -- what I felt a tactical type response. There was a strategy there and they were surrounding the home without our knowledge. And we weren't made aware of their presence.
So, yeah, for sure, it felt -- I don't feel like a home that had been on the market for this length of time, with a number of showings, given the climate and activity in our market, that no one else had that type of or level of force or response respond.
LEMON: Yeah. Look, Roy, I'm glad you're here and you're healthy now. But you had to be worried that, you know, it wouldn't be the case while this was all happening.
ROY THORNE, HANDCUFFED BY POLICE WHILE TOURING HOME: Oh, yeah, I was worried. I was very worried initially when it all started. You know, not knowing that the officers were out there until I saw two officers outside the window on the side of the home, after Samuel told me that there were cops outside. He was downstairs. He came upstairs where Eric and I were.
And once I saw the two officers with their guns drawn and I saw them doing hand signals, signalling each other to surround the house and I noticed that one officer was heading to the back, that's when I really got paranoid because I knew once they surrounded a home, they were preparing for a standoff.
THORNE: And so my head is telling me we need to get out of here, we need to get to where they can see that we're not a threat. But I can't say that my adrenaline wasn't pumping. I was -- I was worried, but I was just more concerned about getting my son out of that situation and getting us all out of there. Yeah, I was scared.
LEMON: I'm just wondering -- I mean, what were the handcuffs -- you guys walked out. You complied. I'm just wondering, was there a need for handcuffs? But, you know. Anyway, Samuel, I'm so sorry this happened to you. Just so people know, you are only 15 years old, and I imagine that this was extremely frightening for you. What were your feelings after seeing all of this, after all of this happening to you?
SAMUEL THORNE, HANDCUFFED BY POLICE WHILE TOURING HOME: Well, in the beginning, when we were upstairs is when most of the, I would say, like, shock and initial fear, kind of, happened because it went from there's cops outside to come outside with your hands up.
So, that was kind of just, like, from zero to 100. So, that's pretty much what I felt was just, like, confusion and shock and fear for the most part because I had no idea why they were all down there at that time.
LEMON: Yeah. Well, I understand you made sure that you put Samuel behind you. So, just in case something happened, that it could happen -- it would happen to you instead of him. What do you want to say to the neighbor who called the police?
R. THORNE: Well, to that particular neighbor and any potential neighbor, my message would be, you know, we're just like you. We occupy the same space. We do the same things. We go to the same places. And, you know, if you see a crime, report a crime. But if you see people, Black people, any minority, don't report people doing normal things.
R. THORNE: You do that, you don't realize that you can change their life or have their life taken just through making a phone call. In this instance, it could have been three. It could have been two or one, somebody hurt. But that's my message. Report a crime. Don't report everyday activity.
LEMON: Eric --
R. THORNE: Changed my life, changed my son's life.
LEMON: You may not have been sitting here. Eric, the Wyoming Police say that they have reached out to you and they want to meet with all three of you to discuss what happened. Has that been set up yet? Are you open to it?
BROWN: It hasn't been set up yet. And I am definitely open to it, have that conversation with Chief Koster (ph). We haven't arranged it and set it up yet. We need to arrange that with some counsel present, our counsel present. And when Sammy is ready to enter that environment because I think it's critical that he's there as well. Clearly, we want some reform and some change here.
BROWN: There are things that have gone wrong. I'm sure you guys have seen or have -- listened to the recordings, the 911 call, the dispatch and the lapse in communication or the -- what was lost in translation before those officers arrived there. Those are the types of things that need to change.
LEMON: Well, Eric, Roy, Samuel, I'm sorry this happened to you. I will say that again. Please keep us updated on your meeting and what transpires after that. I'm so -- I'm glad you're all here to tell the story, though. Thank you so much. Be well.
BROWN: Thank you.
R. THORNE: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: Thanks. And thanks for watching. Our coverage continues.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Good Friday evening to you. Anderson is off tonight. I'm Jim Sciutto. We begin with a major and positive milestone for the country.
As of tonight, more than 50 percent of the population is vaccinated against COVID. That is good, but it may not be keeping up with the pace of the delta variant.
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GOV. JIM JUSTICE (R-WV): We're running out of time. You're absolutely running out of time.
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SCIUTTO (on camera): That is the governor of a state whose population remains resistant to vaccines, West Virginia, today amping up the urgency. That same urgency is apparent on the federal level.