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Don Lemon Tonight
Biden Rejects Trump's Request To Withhold Docs From January 6 Committee; Trump Pressures Texas Gov. Abbott To Audit 2020 Election; Trump Is Still Trying To Overturn The Election He Lost; Police Describe Brian Laundrie's Parents' Behavior As 'Odd'; Battle Over Teaching Race In Schools Reaches New Lows; CNN Original Series: "This is Life" Airs On Sunday At 10 p.m. Eastern; CNN Heroes: Boston Marathon Bombing Survivor Is On Mission To Give Fellow Amputees The Prosthetic Legs Insurance Won't Cover. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired October 08, 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: President Biden rejecting the former guy's request to keep White House records away from the January 6 Select Committee. Plus, Steve Bannon is defying his subpoena. The committee is now threatening to advance a criminal contempt of Congress referral.
And on the search for Brian Laundrie, police say there is no physical evidence of him in the area that they have been searching for weeks. This comes amid questions about what his family knows. Police described one of their first interactions with the Laundrie's parents as -- quote -- "odd."
I want to bring in now CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and senior political analyst Kirsten Powers. Good evening to both of you. Good to see you. So, Jeffrey Toobin --
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Hello.
LEMON: -- Trump sent a list of 45 documents to the National Archives, writing, I hereby formally asset executive privilege over these records. That's pretty specific. He's clearly going -- he's going to fight this. But can he stop the records from being released, really?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, he can go to court, and the point here may be delay as much as it is victory.
This is the problem that this congressional committee faces, is that even though, I think, this committee has a strong legal position, especially about the testimonies, Steve Bannon and the other nongovernmental witnesses, by going court, the former guy, Donald Trump, puts the case in front of judges who cannot -- who usually do not resolve these matters in a matter of weeks as opposed to months, and this congressional committee does not have months. So the mere act of going to court may frustrate this committee's position even if the committee ultimately winds up winning.
LEMON: Kirsten, Trump's hold on the GOP, as we have been talking, incredibly strong. No surprise there. Can the Select Committee get the answers they need before the midterms because, you know, if Republicans regain control of investigation, this investigation -- I mean, it's done. Don't you think?
POWERS: Oh, yeah, absolutely. I can't imagine them investigating something that they claim isn't even a problem. What would the investigation be about from their perspective? And so, look, if Trump has his way -- what Jeffrey is saying is, you know, he's trying to gum up the gears. He's trying to slow things down. And so that is part of the point of this, I think.
I think the other part of this is just to put it out into Trump land with all of his supporters the idea that he has the right to assert executive privilege and that if somehow, you know, the documents make their way to the committee, that he's been mistreated, that he asserted executive privilege, this wasn't information that was supposed to go forward, even though that's not how it works, and we know that that's not how it works, that the sitting president is the one who asserts the executive privilege.
But I Trump, as always, is trying to put out another story line that makes him, you know, seems that he's being victimized by the deep state and the elites in Washington.
LEMON: Yeah. Jeffrey, let's talk about Steve Bannon refusing to comply with the subpoena, but we're told that Trump's former chief of staff Mark Meadows, former Pentagon aide Kash Patel, they are -- quote -- "so far engaging with the committee." I'm not exactly sure what that means. Dan Scavino, no word on Dan Scavino.
The strategy in Trump world, as you said, is to delay at all costs. So, considering, you know, when you think about what happens with this committee, is there a best path for them to force these aides to comply or are they at the mercy of nothing?
TOOBIN: I mean I'm afraid there is not a great path here because the legal system does not work quickly. Even if as appears likely the committee seeks a criminal contempt charge through the Justice Department, that's a legal proceeding and that has to go to the district court.
And then once the district court hears briefing and hears arguments and writes a decision, it goes to the circuit court. And then after there is briefing and argument and a decision in the circuit court, there is the potential for petition to the Supreme Court. I mean, this is a month's long process.
TOOBIN: But it is worth just saying, Don --
LEMON: Yes, sir.
TOOBIN: -- that it is so outrageous that Steve Bannon, who is a nongovernmental actor, who has -- you know, who couldn't conceivably assert executive privilege, is saying he is not going to cooperate with this committee. I mean, that is a --
LEMON: Does he have any legal standing, Jeffrey?
LEMON: Does he have any legal standing because, as you said, he didn't even work for the White House or no governmental standing?
TOOBIN: None, none at all. But, you know, with the president -- the former president asserting executive privilege, it still has to go through the courts. And in my experience, even frivolous legal claims take weeks, if not months to resolve themselves. But the Bannon situation -- you know, Mark Meadows was the White House chief of staff. There is a conceivable white house chief of staff. There is a conceivable executive privilege claim.
With Bannon, there is nothing. Absolutely nothing that he could claim except that he can make -- you know, he can keep the former president happy by refusing to testify. And the courts, unless I'm proven wrong, perhaps I will be, it certainly has happened before, will not move quickly enough for Bannon really to be forced to testify in this committee here.
LEMON: There is another story about how this president and this person used the courts and how -- it's just amazing. There is w whole --
TOOBIN: Don, you know, when the House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed Don McGahn, Trump's White House counsel, it took two years to get through the court. Two years. That's the kind of system that we're dealing with here.
LEMON: Oh, boy. Kirsten, let's talk about another tough thing that's happening, another tough week for the Biden presidency. Disappointing jobs report. The country just barely avoided a default. The debt ceiling remains. That mess remains. It's temporary. They're stopping it now but they're going to have to deal with it in December.
His domestic agenda, if I can get my lips to work right on a Friday, is in jeopardy. I mean, Biden ran as a candidate that could get things done. So, how is he going to pull all this off?
POWERS: Well, look, yes, I mean, I think he's trying to get things done but we also have to keep perspective on this, which is that he does not like he has 60 Democratic votes in the Senate. So, he's working with a very narrow majority and with a couple of senators who are, you know, aren't going to go along with his agenda as he has laid it out and are fighting him on it.
The majority of Democrats are with him. Forty-eight of the Democrats on the Senate are with him. Two of them are giving him a hard time. So, I think that that's something that he has to now bridge between these two sides of the party and that's hard. So I don't think that we should just say that Biden is not getting things done. He's been dealt a really not great hand. And I think that we don't know yet what's going to happen. So, I've been saying I think that they are going to reach a deal.
And in terms of the debt ceiling, that's a problem that was created by the Republicans. Joe Biden had nothing to do with it. The Republicans decided that they were going to, you know, not support that and at the last minute came along and kicked the can down the road and now are acting like they've saved the day when all they did was fix a problem that they caused. So --
LEMON: Temporarily fixed a problem that they caused.
POWERS: Yeah, temporarily, exactly. So I think that he's -- I think he's been dealt not the best hand in terms of having, you know, 50 Democrats who would support him completely. And so he's got to negotiate this. I think he's still probably going to pull it off.
LEMON: Okay. We'll see. But Jeffrey, I want to talk to you now about this wildly restrictive abortion law in Texas. A federal judge had stopped the law from being enforced in the state of Texas then appealed. And tonight, the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted the state's request. So now what?
TOOBIN: Well, I mean, you know, again, Don, it's worth pausing to consider that the women of Texas are being denied constitutional rights that have been guaranteed to them for 50 years since Roe v. Wade. And the circuit court has done is reinstated this clearly unconstitutional ban.
You know, the women of Texas had their constitutional rights for about three days since this law has gone into -- went into effect on September 1.
TOOBIN: What happens now is the Fifth Circuit, this three-judge panel, the most conservative circuit court in the country and it looks like this panel, which is two Republican appointees, one Democratic appointee, will hear briefing and argument and they will decide whether this law, you know, goes -- remains in effect.
But let's be clear. This law is contrary to Supreme Court precedent and it is a complete outrage that the Fifth Circuit has reinstated it perhaps only temporarily, but that's now the state of play. Abortion is now effectively illegal in Texas again and it will remain that way until the First Circuit acts otherwise.
POWERS: Yeah, I mean, what's the commonality of everything that we're talking about here? It's total contempt for the law, right?
It is like don't have to respond to subpoenas, don't have to act like they even understand executive privilege, don't have to honor the Constitution, have created the scheme explicitly to get around the constitutional rights that have been granted to women, according to the Supreme Court, which last time I checked, decides what the law of the land is.
So it's just this utter contempt for the law -- from the law and order party.
LEMON: Well, the supposed law and order party. Yeah. Unless it's -- you don't want to follow that law --
LEMON: -- or the order, the other people's law and order. That's -- no, don't do that. Thank you.
POWERS: Totally different, yes.
LEMON (on camera): Thank you both. Have a good weekend. I appreciate it.
Now to the former president pressuring Texas to audit the 2020 election even though Republican state officials have been calling it a success. So why are they punishing -- excuse me, why are they pushing his big lie?
Here is CNN's Ed Lavandera.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump might have won the state of Texas by more than five points in the 2020 election, but he won the state by nine points four years earlier. So now, the former president is focused on pushing the lie that the vote in Texas was marred by fraud.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: They say I'm being aggressive, but you have to be aggressive to weed out this horrible election corruption.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): In September, Trump sent Texas Governor Greg Abbott a letter calling for the state to conduct a full forensic audit of the election with zero evidence. Trump writes, Texans know voter fraud occurred. It didn't take long for Abbott to feel the pressure. On the same day, the Republican governor announced an audit in Harris, Dallas, Tarrant and Collin counties.
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Isn't it just a terrible waste of taxpayer money to have an audit in a state that everybody says went fine and that President Trump won by 600,000 votes and aren't you contributing to this undermining confidence in our election process?
GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): Why don't we audit everything in this world but people raise their hands in concern when we audit elections, which is fundamental to our democracy? LAVANDERA (voice-over): Earlier this year, the state's election administrator told a legislative committee there were no problems with the election.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Despite of all the circumstances, Texas had an election that was smooth and secure.
CLAY JENKINS, DALLAS COUNTY JUDGE: President Trump said jump, the governor said how high?
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, a Democrat, says the audit is about undermining democracy and to justify stricter elections laws that will make it harder for people to vote.
JENKINS: This is just jumping around to play into that narrative to please President Trump and to set the table for what this is really about, which is passing laws to make it harder for people to vote.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Governor Abbott has denied CNN's request for an interview but has said he picked two democratic counties and two republican counties for the audit. While Dallas and Harris counties vote democratic, Republicans have been losing ground in Tarrant and Collin counties.
In 2020, Trump lost Tarrant County by half a percentage point after winning it by eight percentage points in 2016. And in suburban Collin County, Trump's lead plummeted from 17 points in 2016 to four points in 2020.
GARY FICKES, TARRANT COUNTY COMMISSIONER: This could be a good thing for them or it could blow up in their face.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Gary Fickes is a longtime county commissioner in Tarrant County and a Republican. He says he has no reason to believe there are any issues with the vote count.
(On camera): I guess all of this kind of begs the question, why is the governor and some Texas Republicans willing to kind of like bend over backwards to appease the former president who has been pushing this idea of a big lie? Do you think this all kind of feeds into this?
FICKES: I think it is all about politics. But I will be very surprised if we have a problem in Texas, especially in Tarrant County.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Ed Lavandera, CNN, Dallas.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
LEMON (on camera): Ed Lavandera, thank you very much.
LEMON: Next, I'm going to talk to someone whose own state spent millions to audit their results only to come to the conclusion that yes, Joe Biden did win. Arizona's former attorney general is here, Grant Woods. That's next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Former President Trump announcing a new rally in Michigan to push for an audit in the state. Okay, whatever. The election was almost a year ago and recount after recount has shown -- have shown that over and over again, Trump lost. This comes just a day after Senate report detailing nine times Trump pressured the Justice Department to overturn the 2020 election.
So joining me now is Arizona's former Republican Attorney General Grant Woods. Grant, good to see you. Thank you so much.
GRANT WOODS, FORMER ARIZONA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Thanks for having me, Don.
LEMON: So I want to start with this new Senate Judiciary report that found Trump directly asked the Justice Department to overturn the election nine times. This is a relentless pressure campaign. He tried to squeeze Mike Pence. It almost worked. So where is the outrage from the Republican Party?
WOODS: Well, I don't know where it is. They've -- I think they've just all gone in the tank. And when I say all, it's pretty much every elected Republican in Washington. There is a -- as we know, there is a couple in the House, not really anyone in the Senate, sometimes Romney. They're in the tank with this guy because otherwise, how could you just sit back and say nothing? You couldn't do it.
But, Don, the problem is -- you know, I was a lifelong Republican, I was elected twice statewide here, I was John McCain's guy, and we always had balloons (ph) in the party. You go to any Republican meeting and there was a bunch of complete goofballs saying really weird things, conspiracy theories and stuff like that, but they were the fringe.
And what happened with Trump is they have taken over. And now that they have taken over, the establishment crowd, the country club crowd, the chamber of commerce crowd, they got to make a decision. Do they stand up and do what is right or do they just kind of wait for this fever to pass and not rock the boat because in the meantime, they get their big tax cuts, they get no regulation on anything, you know, they get what they want
And so far, they decided they're just going to be quiet. That's pretty bad. That's pretty outrageous.
LEMON: The fraudit in your state blew up in Trump's face, right, and all the people who are supporting it. But despite all of the failed recounts, he's still pushing for more in Michigan, Texas. Is this all about amplifying a big lie? No matter what, it doesn't matter what the outcome, it's just keep amplifying this big lie even when they continue to show that Biden won the election.
WOODS: Yeah. I think -- I agree with the judge from Texas you had on earlier. That was a great conversation. I think it is part of -- it's out of a playbook and has started in Arizona. But now, it's going everywhere.
The point is they want to undermine people's confidence in our election process so that they can justify the voter suppression bills that they are trying to put through and have put through in many, many swing states across the board here.
So why would you do an audit in Texas? Well, because Texas is going to go blue one day soon. I don't know if it will be, you know, next election or the next one, but at some point in time it's going to go blue. Why would you do one in Florida? Why would you do one in Michigan? It is because those are states that the Republicans can lose. They need to suppress the vote.
In my view, unless the Republican Party changes dramatically and gets rid of these Trumpers, then they will go extinct over time. The question is when? Unless, unless they can rig the process in the short term and put enough authoritarianism into our one-time democracy so that they can prevail.
They cannot prevail on hate, on divisiveness, on anti-American platforms, and on everything for power, nothing for principle. They will lose. But they could win in the short term, if people don't rise up. And that's an open question, whether they will or not.
LEMON: Grant, at this point, is Congress passing a Voting Rights Act the only thing that will protect us, you think, from those -- because you say unless they can rig the system, right, in the short term --
LEMON: Is that the only thing that can protect?
WOODS: Yeah, I think so. And -- but here is the good news. There is good news and bad news. The good news is, you know, when Senator Manchin came up with his compromise on voting rights, I will say I was skeptical, you know, what's that going to look like? It's probably going to be some watered down thing.
It's not. It's fantastic. He did an amazing job and it just needs to be passed. I don't know how, partisanship aside, how Americans couldn't be for the things that are in the bill. It's just got a lot of common sense. So it is a good bill and it is a compromise. I assume that means Senator Manchin is going to support his own bill, his own compromise, and use the filibuster to get rid of it.
Our senator here from Arizona is the only one left then. She seems to be all hung up and bound by this idea that the -- we've got to preserve the filibuster or if the Republicans take over, oh, god, what might happen? Well, it's called -- we live in a democracy and the majority rules. So if you go to the legislature, if you go to a school board, if you go to a city council, anywhere in the United States, whoever has the most votes, wins. You don't have to get two-thirds or three-fifths or anything else. So I don't know why she's so worried about that. [23:24:59]
WOODS: If the Democrats lose and the Republicans step in -- by the way, do you think they wouldn't abuse the filibuster just like they have in the past few years? You trust Mitch McConnell that he's going to follow the rules on that? He's not going to.
So yeah, I think -- I think that's the key thing, even more than this reconciliation bill. The key thing for the future of our country is sitting right there waiting and we need to get it passed. We need to bus the filibuster and pass it, and then we can go out and have a fair election. That's all you can ask for. And then if the Democrats get kicked out and the Republicans get put in, so what? That is how democracy works.
LEMON: That's how it works.
WOODS: We can win this on ideas. We can't win it if they rig the system.
LEMON: Well, you want to know what? Certain people do certain things that you don't understand. I'll just tell you. Attention is -- you know, people love attention and I forget who the great philosopher was who says fame is a hell of a drug.
WOODS: Yeah, it is. And power.
LEMON: And power.
WOODS: And power. The other thing, Don, we don't necessarily attract the best and the brightest anymore because who wants to get involved in this stuff? You get really top notch people, you say run for office, they'll say, are you crazy?
LEMON: Are you crazy?
WOODS: And so you get these people who have been, you know, a lot of nerds, a lot of people who haven't been too successful in other areas of life, and all of a sudden everybody is kissing their ass. They don't want to give that up. Believe me. They don't have marketable skills as much as they love the private sector. Private sector doesn't reward complete B.S. as much as politicians and politics would like.
So I think that's -- I think between the fame and the power and the fear that they might have to actually go and do something productive in society, they're not going to go down easy.
WOODS: So we got to beat them. That's what I say, let's go and beat them.
LEMON: Grant, thank you very much. I appreciate you appearing. I hope you'll come back.
WOODS: Okay. Great seeing you again, Don.
LEMON: Thank you. You, as well.
No one had seen him for almost a month. Police say there is no physical evidence of Brian Laundrie in the nature reserve that they have been searching for weeks as they tell CNN that Laundrie's parents are behaving -- quote -- "odd." That's next.
LEMON: You know, it's been almost a month since Brian Laundrie was last seen. Police is focusing the search in the nature reserve in Venice, Florida. But the thing is no one has actually seen him there. And the search has been entirely prompted by information from Laundrie's parents, whose behavior, police say -- they are describing it as -- quote -- "odd." Okay?
Joining me now is Dave Aronberg, Palm Beach County state attorney. Dave, thank you for joining, let's get into this. Nearly a month of searching for Brian in this reserve all because parents said that he planned to hike there in mid-September. Why are authorities putting all their eggs in one basket and relying so much on these parents for information?
DAVE ARONBERG, PALM BEACH COUNTY STATE ATTORNEY: Good evening, Don. Well, there is some evidence he may be in the Appalachian Trail. There was a witness up there and the FBI has spoken to that witness. Dog the Bounty Hunter is up in Pinellas County at the Soto Park to look up there.
But there must be some evidence that authorities have, that he was, Brian Laundrie, was camping over in that swampland, or else, they wouldn't pay so close attention to it. A lot of the evidence seems to coming from the parents, which is why they brought the father out there, to see if they could find where Brian Laundrie was camping. But, no dice, so they are at a dead end right now and that is why they depend on people in the community, civilians, to provide tips.
LEMON: Look, this is -- this is always a tell-tale sign when people do this because it is not actually admissible in court, but they are like looking to create some sort of credibility.
That is the Laundrie's attorney saying that they -- when they say that they have taken a polygraph test, so that shows you that. But they are saying this time that they haven't taken a polygraph test. Does that matter because it is not even admissible in court?
ARONBERG: Well, it's not admissible in state court, but in federal court, there are ways where if you fail a polygraph test, they can use it against you. So, there really is no legal purpose for the Laundrie parents to take that polygraph test. It can just hurt them in court if they get on the stand and they say, yeah, we did something, and then the polygraph says they were lying. That could be used against them for purposes of impeachment.
So you can see why their lawyers says don't take the test. The FBI, meanwhile, doesn't clearly trust them. After all, they changed their story on when Brian Laundrie left to go into that swamp. At first, they said it was on a Tuesday. Now, it's on a Monday. And four days later, on Friday, they finally reported him missing, even though he left the house, without his phone and his wallet. That is really unusual behavior. You would think that the parents may know more than they let on.
LEMON: Where do you see this going, Dave?
ARONBERG: I see them finding Brian Laundrie eventually. I just don't know when. Then they will charge him with the more serious crime, depending on the cause of death. They are waiting on cause of death from the medical examiner. We know the manner of death. It was homicide. But was it strangulation? Was it blunt force trauma?
And so when they find that and when they get the toxicology reports, which should come in the next couple of weeks, then they can start filing charges against Brian Laundrie. But prosecutors don't want to rush it because when they start filing those charges, they got 180 days under speedy trial rules to actually try the case.
So police have an interest in finding him and arresting him whereas prosecutors want to slow down. In the meantime, the Laundrie parents are certainly not going to win any people's choice awards. They are really upsetting the public by their silence.
LEMON: Yeah. Dave, thank you very much. I appreciate you appearing.
ARONBERG: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: Thank you. So, people are getting so heated that an expert on race and inclusion had to get security before making a presentation on empathy at a school.
LEMON: The battle over teaching about race in school is next.
LEMON: How schools teach America's children about race becoming an increasingly divisive issue in many school districts all across the country. Many white parents expressing concerns about critical race theory, which educators say is not even taught in America's grade schools. While many Black parents say race is an important issue that needs to be discussed.
Here is CNN's Evan McMorris-Santoro.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
JULIE STUTTERHEIM, DAUGHTER ATTENDS PARK HILL SCHOOL DISTRICT: She heard from several kids that it was actually a petition to restart slavery.
EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Julie Stutterheim was chatting with her daughter, a student at Park Hill South High School in the suburb of Kansas City.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): The conversation was alarming.
STUTTERHEIM: She was very upset about it. My daughter is Ethiopian. She has herself countered -- you know, racist things happening to her. And so she -- the more she talked about this, the more upset she got. And I said, well, let me go find out more information and see what I can find out.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): What she found is the uncomfortable reality in schools across the country. There are two diametrically opposed conversations about race going on at the same time. In one, some white parents are telling school leaders that lessons about race make white students feel bad.
SALLY FOLLER, SPOKE AT PARK HILL SCHOOL BOARD MEETING: Another subject I would like to address is critical race theory. I fear this would cause more division and racism.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): The other conversation is about the racism that is actually happening in schools. In Park Hill, the superintendent released a video message seven days after Julie started asking questions.
JEANETTTE COWHERD, SUPERINTENDENT, PARK HILL SCHOOL DISTRICT: We can react or we can respond. We are choosing to respond.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): Part of that response is a search for an expert advisor on race and inclusion, someone like Nicole Price, who has been hired in schools throughout Missouri and Kansas. She says she generally gets a phone call after something racist happens. And white school leaders are often in a state of shock.
NICOLE PRICE, DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION EXPERT: Am I surprised? That's the question I get the most.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO (on camera): And what do you say?
PRICE: Well, I'm not surprised. I'm disappointed but never surprised, because here is the thing. When people are not educated in the head and the heart, then they will do things that will surprise some people. But because I spend my life trying to make sure that education is at the forefront because that is how we know that we can help to fix some of this, I know that we had to have some regression.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): The job can be a challenge in the current environment, Price says. After one Missouri school district hired her to a session, the school board got threats.
PRICE: I had a driver and asked for extra security of which they obliged, because they had -- I mean, they were the ones getting the threats. They weren't coming to me directly.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO (on camera): To attend the school board meeting, you felt like you needed some security, you say?
PRICE: I was actually going to the school to give a keynote presentation.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO (on camera): To give a presentation?
PRICE: The title was "Radical Empathy."
MCMORRIS-SANTORO (on camera): You needed security to give a speech about empathy?
MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): This school district isn't the only one facing these issues. In Iowa this summer, the governor signed a law strictly dictating what teachers can tell students about race in America.
GOV. KIM REYNOLDS (R-IA): We banned critical race theory and any curriculum or training that teaches that the United States or Iowa is fundamentally racist or sexist.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): The Iowa law is in effect for the first time this year. And it is not the only one of its kind. Tennessee also has a new law banning lessons that might make students feel -- quote -- "discomfort," because of their race.
In suburban Nashville, a sheriff department is currently investigating this photo as a hate crime. It shows a white football player and what authorities believe is photoshopped clanhood (ph). The caption threatened a Black player on arrival team.
CINDY HOLSCHER, MEMBER, KANSAS SENATE: I think the incidences have gone up, and I say that because of what I hear from my kids. That the environment is a little bit more tense in our schools. There is more hatred out there over the past couple of years.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): Kansas is also considering similar legislation. State Senator Cindy Holscher, a Democrat who lives in Olathe, says fear of critical race theory is getting in the way of schools dealing with racist incidents.
Like this one, at a nearby high school. This invitation of the homecoming dance was posted online, causing outrage. The school condemned the image in an e-mail. Three weeks before that, a dad condemned efforts to expand race education in Olathe schools.
JOHN HIGHFILL, SPOKE AT OLATHE PUBLIC SCHOOLS MEETING: I'm here to state my opposition to CRT, DEI or the derivatives thereof being instructed, indoctrinated or even hinted at in the school district. Every piece of this propaganda that will reveal itself in false doctrines of white fragility, white rage, white privilege and the like is just that. False. HOLSCHER: I've been getting e-mails over the past couple months from individuals saying things like, I am really worried that our kids are being indoctrinated and that our kids are being taught to hate their white skin. Well, one, we don't have CRT in our schools. Second, that isn't at all what's happening as far as any type of teaching about -- teaching children to not like their white skin. That is just not happening.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO (voice-over): Julie Stutterheim says these white parents need to wake up to the reality of what is really happening in school.
STUTTERHEIM: I watched my white daughter, my older daughter, grow up and not experience the things that my younger daughter has to experience. So, that's been really tough to see.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO (on camera): You know, Don, there are a lot of other examples of racist incidents in school this year. I could have included it in this piece but we couldn't because of time.
I've been travelling all over the country doing a lot of stories about this pitch battle about race and education in school system. You can find it all over the country.
MCMORRIS-SANTORO (on camera): And everywhere I go, I find these two conversations. Some white parents saying, racism is over, we shouldn't teach about it anymore, we really shouldn't include it in education at all. And on the other side, these parents and the family saying, they are facing racist incidents in classrooms every day.
The politics of this moment, this conversation about race is really running right through the American classroom, Don.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
LEMON (on camera): Evan, thank you. We will be right back.
LEMON: This Sunday, CNN is bringing you an all new season of "This is Life with Lisa Ling." This season, Lisa will be tackling some of the most challenging issues that have defined the past tumultuous year by taking a deep dive into our collective past to uncover some really hard truths.
The first step is a look at the recent rise of anti-Asian hate crimes around the country and how it has rooted in a long history of discrimination against Asian-Americans. Here's a preview.
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LISA LING, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Mr. Chin, this is where your car was parked here?
VINCENT CHIN, CHINESE AMERICAN MAN: Yes, my car (INAUDIBLE) right here. Here you can see black.
LING (voice-over): Yeah.
CHIN: And you can see it burned on the street, too. Black and dirty. See?
LING (on camera): So when you come out of your house and you see this?
CHIN: I think -- what happened to my car? Who did that to my car? And the fire department came in but too late.
LING (on camera): Makes you sad.
CHIN: Yeah, I said, I know (ph).
LING: So, the only cars that burned that night was your car and another Asian man's car.
LING (on camera): Do you think that it may have to do with the fact that you are Asian?
CHIN: I don't know. One hundred percent, I don't know who did fire the car. I don't know.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
LEMON: Oh, boy. Lisa is here, the host of "This is Life." Hi, Lisa Ling. Good to see you.
LING: Hi, Don.
LEMON: Really tough stuff there. Over the past year or so, the anti- Asian hate has really been bothersome to all of us. So let's talk about it. Delving into the past is a bit of a departure for you. Tell us more about this approach and what you hope to reveal to the viewers this season.
LING: Well, Don, this is our eighth season of "This is Life," and we're trying something a little different. You know, our show has generally been one that has been very immersive and emotionally experiential, but we couldn't express those things during COVID. So we decided to take a deep dive into moments in American history that didn't make it into history books.
I have always believed that we can't really know where we are going and how to fix things and to improve things if we don't know where we've been. And so our first episode is about this long history of anti-Asian sentiment and discrimination and scapegoating. We look into the story of a man named Vincent Chin, who in the 1980s was a Chinese American man, he was out celebrating his bachelor party at a bar, and two out of work autoworkers accused him of being Japanese and taking their jobs.
This was the time in Detroit when the automobile industry was experiencing this economic downturn. Oil prices were skyrocketing and people were blaming Japan for making these newly efficient cars. And so many people have lost their jobs and Detroit.
So, if you looked like you could be Japanese, in Detroit, you could become a target. That is exactly what happened to this Chinese American man, Vincent Chin. He got into an altercation in the bar. The two men followed him out, chased him down, beat him to death with a baseball bat, and they didn't serve a single day in jail or prison. They paid about $3,000 fine and spent a couple of months on probation.
But as we were just saying, when you look at what's happening today, what's been happening over the last year and a half, the scapegoating of Asians has -- it goes back more than a century. Again, until we address it and acknowledge this aspect of American history, really, I think it will be really difficult to move forward.
LEMON: Yeah. Well, listen, again, it's very important. I'm so grateful that you're doing this. And the best way for people to learn about it, I think, is to tune in, Lisa. Thank you. I really appreciate you joining us. Best of luck.
LING: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: I'll see you soon. Thank you very much. As I said, make sure you tune in, all new season of "This is Life with Lisa Ling." It premieres Sunday night, 10:00 p.m., only here on CNN.
So, this week's CNN hero is a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombing. Eight years ago, Heather Abbott, was hit by one of the blasts near the finish line. Her life was forever changed by an injury she suffered, yet she found a way to turn that tragedy into triumph. And on Monday, she will be back by the finish line, on the 125th Boston Marathon, cheering on runners and continuing to live life to the very fullest.
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HEATHER ABBOTT, CNN HERO: I heard the first explosion just ahead in front of me. The next thing I knew, a second explosion occurred just to my right. That was the last thing I knew before I landed in the restaurant on the back (ph).
I was in the hospital for several days while doctors were deciding whether or not to amputate. It was hard to come to terms with the fact that I am an amputee at first.
ABBOTT: And had my injury not happen in such a public way where there was so much assistance available, I never would have been able to afford multiple prostheses.
Some of our recent beneficiaries.
So, I decided to just do what I could to help people get those devices that simply couldn't get them because they were out of reach.
It has been life-changing for them and a lot of them remind me of that.
(INAUDIBLE) crazy man.
It feels very rewarding to be able to do that.
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LEMON (on camera): So to see Heather's full story and how she is helping amputees get custom prosthetics, go to cnnheroes.com.
And thank you for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.