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Don Lemon Tonight
Biden Delaying Departure To Europe To Meet With House Dem Caucus; Soaring Gas And Energy Prices Spark Worry Around The Country; Sheriff: Gun Used By Alec Baldwin Fired A 'Live Round' That Killed Cinematographer On "Rust" Movie Set; "Rust" Armorer 'Mishandled' Guns On Previous Film With Nicolas Cage, Former Crew Members Say; Republicans Go After Merrick Garland Over DOJ Memo Against Attacks On Educators; Dads Step In After 23 Students Arrested In Three Days. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired October 27, 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: So, here is the breaking news at this hour. Source is telling CNN that President Joe Biden will attend the House Democratic Caucus meeting on Capitol Hill in the morning, delaying his departure to Europe, to twist the arms of progressives to vote on the infrastructure bill as early as tomorrow.
But in another major development tonight, it looks like paid family and medical leave may be out of the social safety net bill. It is a key cornerstone of President Biden's agenda and a favorite of progressives. but Senator Joe Manchin appears to be determined to block it.
Also tonight, the Santa Fe County sheriff saying that the gun used by Alec Baldwin in the fatal shooting on the set of "Rust" discharged a live round.
A lot to discuss. So, let's get straight to Washington, CNN White House correspondent John Harwood, political commentator and former Congressman Charlie Dent here as well. Both gentlemen, as a matter of fact, are in D.C. tonight. Good to see both of you.
So, John, I'm going to start with you. President Biden is just hours away from the critical foreign trip that he is heading out on. He's been pushing to get these bills over the finish line before he leaves. Democrats still seem deeply divided. What do you know about the negotiations? Where do they stand at this hour?
JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's a huge mess, Don. This is an extremely chaotic end to this long negotiation where there are so many elements included in this package and there's been an extended debate over a couple of weeks over whether you throw out a bunch of elements entirely and have a few well-funded priorities or whether you trim back the funding for a bunch of things and try to get them started and see if you can build public support for them. The challenge is that Democrats are trying to do this with the narrowest of congressional majorities, zero margin for error in the Senate, very small margin for error in the House. Usually, you count on in a situation like this, people recognizing that politics, partisan politics is a team game, and the people will ultimately come together behind the shared interests of their team and their president.
But in this case, you've got a couple of senators in Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema who are extremely intoxicated with their individual power to hold up particular elements, and that is creating this herky- jerky mess at the end where Sinema, for example, says, even though there's no economic reason to do it, I don't want to raise the individual or corporate tax rate, so let's do some other kind of way of taxing wealthy people.
HARWOOD: They come up with a billionaire's tax. Joe Manchin says, oh, I don't like the billionaire's tax, that's out. The House didn't like it either. It was not a very well-cooked plan, so to speak, and you get that kind of disorganization in this situation and it's not pretty.
LEMON (on camera): Our colleague, Manu Raju, spoke with Senator Joe Manchin earlier about paid family leave. Take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): -- paid family leave. Are you still talking to Senator Gillibrand?
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I'm talking to everybody, but I've been very clear, to expand social programs when you have trust funds that aren't solvent, they're going insolvent, I can't explain that. It doesn't make sense to me. I want to work with everyone as long as we can start paying for things. That's all. I can't put this burden on my grandchildren. I've got 10 grandchildren. I just can't do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): This is a huge priority for the president. What's the White House saying about this tonight, John?
HARWOOD: They're accepting that that is going to go out. They want anything that can get a deal. But the challenge of Manchin's position, he's saying, well, we can't do things that we can't pay for, but then he opposes means to pay for them.
For example, he is challenging provisions of an effort by the Democrats to beef up the IRS and change regulations so that they can get a greater ability to collect taxes that aren't now being paid, and Joe Manchin says, well, some of the reporting requirements that banks would have to do are intrusive.
So, you say things have to be paid for, but you oppose the ways to pay for it, and that's how we have gotten into this situation. They may end up getting a deal, but it is going to be a least common denominator deal.
LEMON: So, Charlie, you know, President Biden is going to meet with House Democrats in the morning. At this point, do you think there's anything that he can say or do to get the party to come together, pass this infrastructure bill tomorrow?
CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER PENNSYLVANIA REPRESENTATIVE: No, I don't think there's any way they can pass this. Oh, the infrastructure bill, yes, they can pass that tomorrow. They should have passed that in August. They should pass that immediately, the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
The bigger problem, of course, is what John just talked about, the reconciliation bill, the build back better. They don't know what's the top line number. Is it $1.5 trillion or $1.75? You know, how are they going to pay for this? What's in the bill? What's not in the bill? I mean, those are key questions. You can't really write a bill until you know the answers to those.
Right now, I mean, I think it's long past time that they pass this infrastructure bill. If they would have done it in August, they probably would have had several dozen republican votes. Now, they'll be lucky to get 10 because they have tied these two bills together, infrastructure and reconciliation.
So, I think it's still -- it's a hot mess. I doubt anything is going to be accomplished on reconciliation before the president leaves. Hopefully, they'll vote on infrastructure bill tomorrow.
LEMON: You know what, Charlie, President Biden ran as a candidate that knew how to make deals in Washington, could get things done, right? Bipartisanship, bipartisanship. What is the damage to Biden's presidency if he can't ultimately get his agenda over the finish line?
DENT: Well, I think it's significant, but the president himself, he's the one who -- I'm told he's the one who encouraged them to delay a vote on the infrastructure bill. They had a bipartisan agreement in August. Why they just didn't pocket the win when they had it, is beyond me. So, I mean, why would he not take the win? Now, hopefully, they're going to take it tomorrow. They'll get a lot of credit for that. That by itself is a significant achievement.
On the other hand, you know, I think they really haven't thought through this reconciliation package. It is much bigger and it is -- I think it exceeds the mandate that Joe Biden and the Democrats had from the 2020 election.
LEMON: Thank you, gentlemen. We will continue. John, do you want to add something before I run to the next guest or you're good?
HARWOOD: No, I -- look, I think it is a big challenge for President Biden to convince the House caucus to pass that infrastructure bill tomorrow. They think it's worth doing before he goes overseas to have that accomplishment, but it's certainly a risk that the White House is taking and it's not at all clear that that risk is going to pay off.
LEMON: All right. See you both soon. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
So, Americans are projected to pay up to 30% more on heating this winter if they use natural gas, and costs will go much higher if it is a very cold winter. But that is not the only cost that is increasing for consumers. Let's discuss now.
Kai Ryssdal is here, the host of Public Radio's "Marketplace." Hey, we love having you on. Thanks for coming back. You know, I love having you on because you make things so plain, right? You don't get stuck in the weeds, you don't get too far, you make it plain for everyone, and that's very important. So, welcome back.
So, natural gas prices, Kai, on the rise now, plus AAA (ph) has today's gas average at $3.39 cents per gallon --
KAI RYSSDAL, HOST OF PUBLIC RADIO'S "MARKETPLACE": Yup.
LEMON: -- up over a dollar from this time last year. What's your forecast? You know, America -- is this going to hit Americans really hard?
RYSSDAL: Oh, yeah, of course it is, right? I mean, let's look at natural gas, the thing you started with. It was up 5.6% just today, that is the spot price, 12% on Monday. It is just people are going to have to heat their homes. It's going to be more expensive. So, of course, they're going to feel it.
And gas, look, I mean, this is the classic thing that is driving inflation, right, $3.39 today, $2.10, $2.15 a year ago. We're not going back to $2.10 any time soon. So, inflation is going to be kind of sticky.
LEMON: Yeah. Listen, I put in two fireplaces and I was like, oh, man, this is really expensive. But guess what? I'm really happy I put those fireplaces. Wood burning. Wood burning.
Listen, the treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, told CNN over the weekend that U.S. inflation levels are not expected to decrease to acceptable levels until the latter part of 2022.
LEMON: In plain terms, as you always do, say it, does that mean prices stay high across the board on all types of goods until then?
RYSSDAL: Well, all types, I don't know. Let's just say broad-based inflation is going to be a real thing. It kind of depends on what you're looking at. But let's back up for a second and think about what Treasury Secretary Yellen and FED chair Jay Powell were saying back in April and May when inflation started going up. They said it's going to be transitory, right, which to the consumer's mind means, oh, it's going to go up, but then it's going to go back down. And now just on Friday, Powell said, you know what, our supply side challenges, that is what he said, our supply side challenges are worse than we thought, inflation is going to stick around for a while.
Two things. Number one, supply side challenges are we can't get things in through the ports, right? We don't have enough of what American consumers want to buy. That's problem number one.
Problem number two is I would bet you cash money that Jay Powell and Janet Yellen, if they had to do it all over again, would pick a different word than transitory, because it doesn't mean that inflation goes up and then it goes down. It means the prices go up and then they stay there but the rate of inflation calms down.
So instead of 5%, it might be 3% and then 2%, something closer to the national average, but we're not going to see prices from a year ago coming back in this economy. Nobody should expect that.
LEMON: All right. Let's talk about some of the things I spoke with my last guests about, okay, what's happening in Washington. So, this proposed billionaire's tax cut from Democrats to pay for the president's spending bill, the proposal would tax billionaires on the gain in value of certain assets every year instead of when those assets are sold. So, what do you think? Could this raise enough to pay for Biden's agenda?
RYSSDAL: No, it can't, right? I mean, the president wants to spend $1.9 something trillion. Progressives want to spend $3.5, but we know it's not going to get there. Even if you tax those 700 people to whom this new tax would apply, it would only be a quarter -- maybe of a trillion dollars, $250 billion, which just is not enough money to get done what the president wants to do. So, that's problem number one.
Problem number two is, and we're seeing this with -- they're talking about a corporate minimum tax of 15%, something we have never done before, a billionaire's tax that we have never done before. They're trying to rewrite the tax code on the fly here because they're having problems within their own caucus.
I think Harwood was right. It's going to be really challenging for the president to get this done. I don't care how much time he spends on the Hill tomorrow.
LEMON: DO you think it is -- but is it right? Because look, as you said, 700 people, and it would include those with more than $1 billion in assets or more than $100 million of reported income.
RYSSDAL: Three years in a row.
LEMON: Yeah, three consecutive years. So, look, billionaires, they've got a lot of tax loops, right, is that right?
LEMON: So, but is it -- even though it may not be the right solution, are they looking in the right direction possibly?
RYSSDAL: It's a little bit like bank robbers, right? The Democrats are going there because they think that's where the money is, right? And that's fine. And billionaires have a whole lot of money. But unless you're going to tax, I don't know, Elon Musk, the richest man in the world, at 100%, you're not going to get as much money as you need. You could tax all of Elon Musk's income at 100% and you wouldn't get what you need.
There have to be different ways to do it. I think it's a sign of desperation in the Democratic Party that they are throwing out all these taxes as their deals start to fall apart.
LEMON: What do they do?
RYSSDAL: I don't know. I don't -- well, look, I mean -- so, look, I'll quote Joe Manchin to you, right? You want more progressive policies, elect more progressives.
LEMON: Yeah. There you go. That's a solution. Loopholes, that's what I was looking for. I said loop, loopholes.
RYSSDAL: Yeah, loops, loopholes.
LEMON: We got it. It was shorthand, it was a contraction. Thank you very much. I appreciate it. Thanks.
RYSSDAL: You bet. Talk to you soon.
LEMON (on camera): Major new developments tonight in the investigation of the fatal shooting on the set of Alec Baldwin's new movie. We're live in Santa Fe. That's next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADAN MENDOZA, SHERIFF, SANTA FE: We regard this specific spent casing and recovered projectile to be the live round that was fired from the revolver by Mr. Baldwin.
MENDOZA: We have recovered what we believe to be possible additional live rounds on set.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, more developing news now. There are new developments tonight in the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on Alec Baldwin's movie set in New Mexico.
The Santa Fe County sheriff saying the gun used by Baldwin discharged a live round. How live rounds got loaded into a weapon will be a factor in determining possible criminal charges. That is according to the district attorney. She spoke tonight to CNN's Josh Campbell, and Josh joins me now. Good evening, Josh. I appreciate it. So, let's dig into this investigation now. What evidence have they collected so far?
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, the key piece of evidence that we learned about today, Don, was a lead projectile fired from that gun by Alec Baldwin, the sheriff says, struck Halyna Hutchins and continued on into that movie set's director, lodged into his shoulder, that leading investigators to determine that that was indeed a live round, an active firearm.
Of course, that was the big question we had, what type of projectile, the sheriff saying that that was an active live round of ammunition, which of course, raises the question, how such a live round actually made its way on to the set of a movie?
I asked the sheriff that very question today. He said that remains under investigation. Other pieces of evidence that we're learning about, three pistols and over 500 rounds of ammunition, that is being sent to the FBI's laboratory in Quantico, Virginia for analysis.
The key question they want to answer there of that cash of ammunition, how much is the typical inert dummy rounds that you would see on the scene of a movie and how much, in the sheriff's words, are live ammunition. A big question, Don.
LEMON: The sheriff is confirming that they have spoken with Alec Baldwin, the movie's assistant director, and the armorer. What information are they releasing about those interviews, if any?
CAMPBELL: Yeah. The sheriff said today that thus far, all the witnesses they have interviewed have been, in their words, cooperative. They do have some additional questioning.
But we're learning from court records today that -- I told you about last night, the assistant director on the set, the person who actually handed Alec Baldwin that weapon prior to that shooting, according to an interview with detectives in court records, he actually indicated that he failed to conduct a proper inspection of that firearm and the ammunition in it before actually handing it to Baldwin, which of course, gets us to that question of liability.
That's something that we have been obviously focusing on. Who is actually responsible? Is it the person that handed the weapon to Baldwin? Is it Baldwin himself? That will be a question from the district attorney. We're actually learning from that man himself, saying that he failed to actually properly inspect that weapon for safety purposes.
LEMON: As I said when we introduced you, you spoke with the Santa Fe district attorney today. This is a big investigation, hundreds of pieces of evidence to go through, lots more people to interview. Did she give you any sort of timeline?
CAMPBELL (on camera): You know, she said that this is something unlike anything they have ever seen here in New Mexico, but she said that they will be working this as they do other investigations as methodically, going through each piece of evidence, as she tries to render her decision in the prosecution.
She also says that she's aware of outside pressure, people wanting her to hurry up and render a decision. She said she's not being moved by the pressure. She will do this, in her words, by the book. We're also getting indication from her about what it is that will be the ultimate driver in her decision to possibly bring charges. Take a listen to what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAMPBELL (voice-over): And so, as of this point, would you say that there's any particular timeline on making that decision about charges?
MARY CARMACK-ALTWIES, SANTA FE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: It's -- no, there's not a timeline at this point. I would say weeks to months. I was sort of taught you treat a firearm like a live snake. And so, it's a terrible tragedy. We don't know how those live rounds got there, and I think that that will probably end up being kind of the lynch pin for whether a decision is made about charges.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMPBELL (on camera): The lynch pin, in her words, how that live ammunition actually made its way on to the set? That will be a key factor in her determination, Don.
LEMON: Josh Campbell, thank you very much. I know it's cold there. Go warm up now. Appreciate it.
CAMPBELL: Thanks, my friend.
LEMON: All right. We're learning more about the 24-year-old armorer who worked on the set of the movie "Rust," and some crew members who worked with her previously say that she mishandled weapons on a different project. One of those crew members is going to join me next.
LEMON: So, the armorer on the set of the movie "Rust" is 24-year-old Hannah Gutierrez-Reed. It is the second time she has worked on a film in that capacity. But at least two crew members who worked with her previously on the set of Nicolas Cage's film, "The Old Way," accused her of mishandling weapons on that project. One of them is Stu Brumbaugh, who was key grip on the movie. Stu, thank you for joining us, I appreciate it.
STU BRUMBAUGH, KEY GRIP, "THE OLD WAY": Thank you very much.
LEMON: Can you tell us about your experience working with Hannah Gutierrez-Reed? What happened that made you so concerned?
BRUMBAUGH: Well, you know, I have been around firearms my entire life, Don, and, you know, when you see an armorer walk on a set with, you know, guns in gun belts, in armpits, and carrying two rifles, you know, and guns pointed back at the crew and at us, you know, it just kind of raised some red flags right away with me.
LEMON: So, are you there? Can you hear me?
BRUMBAUGH: Yeah, I'm here.
LEMON: Okay. Good. So, at one point, Nicolas Cage stormed off the set because of her actions. Is that right? Is that what you said?
BRUMBAUGH: Yeah, that's correct. I mean, we had a couple of unannounced fires on set. You know, a couple of gunshots on set that weren't announced. There's a protocol on a movie set that people kind of know that takes place. You know, when a gun comes out, there's always an announcement about hot guns being on set, you know. No work happens during that time period. And then when the scene happens, the armorer or the prop master comes in. They clear the guns and then we continue to work.
BRUMBAUGH: So, when a gun goes off on set, it's just not a good thing without it being unannounced. Nobody has hearing protection in. Unfortunately, in that scenario, Nick was walking by and got pretty upset.
LEMON: Yeah. So, was that the final straw that caused you to request that she be dismissed from her job?
BRUMBAUGH: Yeah. You know, it happened twice on our set. So, the second time, that's why I, you know, kind of stepped forward and asked her to be removed. And that's when I found out it was her first movie. And I think the real question is, what was she doing on that movie as a 20-year-old, 24-year-old newbie to our business, such an important position on a movie set?
I think the real crux of our problem in our industry right now is that, you know, budgets are getting tighter. Our, you know, our hours are getting longer. There's more demand for us and they want to do it with less manpower. So, we have this 24-year-old girl who's working on a movie set and doesn't have the adequate manpower to help her out. That's why she's carrying so many guns on a movie set.
LEMON: She has not -- we have not heard from her. We have not been able to get a response from her. When you worked with her and you requested that she be removed, did she have a response?
BRUMBAUGH: I don't know if that information ever got back to her. You know, I spoke to the assistant director to, you know, say, hey, look, you know, we need to find a new armorer who's more experienced because I think that she's kind of in over her head here.
You know, but she's also 24 years old. It's -- like I said, it is her first movie, you know. So, there's going to be mistakes made and that happens with my crew with young people that I train. Mistakes do happen. But I don't think that those people should be in those key positions because it's such a dangerous environment, and we have had a lot of problems in the history with filmmaking that people lose their lives over that particular situation.
LEMON: Yeah. So, listen, who do you hold responsible here, Stu?
BRUMBAUGH: You know, I didn't work on the -- I wasn't on the film where this tragedy happened. A woman lost her life. I truly believe that it could have been prevented. I think that what happened was -- that she got hired because she was inexpensive. And I really think it boils down to dollars. And that's really a pandemic in our industry.
You know, producers, they would rather a lot of times, and I'm not saying that happened on this film and I'm certainly not saying it happened on our film, I'm just saying that a lot of times, that's what happens in our world. We get hamstringed because they want to save some money on hiring professionals and giving us the adequate manpower and time to do our jobs safely and efficiently. And that's really what's going on.
Can I solely place the blame on anyone? No. But I think if there were live rounds brought to set, real working ammunition brought to set, I think there are some problems there because those two worlds should never mix.
LEMON: Yeah. Stu, thank you. I appreciate hearing from you and your perspective. We appreciate it.
BRUMBAUGH: Thank you.
LEMON: Listen, as I said, we reached out to Hannah Gutierrez. We have not heard back from her. She's welcome to come on the show to defend herself, to give her side of the story and say her piece any time.
So, it is the latest culture war and the attorney general being forced to weigh in, defending the Justice Department's vow to protect educators from threats and violence.
LEMON: Attorney General Merrick Garland under fire today from all sides in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Republicans are outraged over a memo Garland issued to address threats to school boards. There is bipartisan outrage over the DOJ's handling of the Larry Nassar probe. And all eyes on the Justice Department as they weigh whether to prosecute Steve Bannon for contempt of Congress.
Joining me to break all of this down -- that's a lot -- is our legal analyst Eliot Williams. You have your work cut out for you --
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: Bring it on.
LEMON: All right. Let's go.
WILLIAMS: Let's do it.
LEMON (on camera): Okay. So, Garland took a ton of heat for the memo that he issued in the wake of rising violence at school board meetings across the country. Take a listen to these exchanges between Senator Ted Cruz, AG Garland, and Senator Tom Cotton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): Department of Justice, you did no independent research on what was happening, did you?
MERRICK GARLAND, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: The memo has nothing to do with --
CRUZ: Did you do independent research?
GARLAND: The memo --
CRUZ: Did you do independent research?
GARLAND: The memo has nothing to do with partisan politics.
CRUZ: You're not answering that question.
SEN. TOM COTTON (R-AR): I'm asking you a question now, who brought this to you?
GARLAND: You asked me a question. May I answer the question? The question is, why speed? The answer is, when we get reports of violence and threats of violence, we need to act very swiftly. I would have hated it to have gotten this letter and then acts of violence occur in the interim before we were able to --
COTTON: Okay, judge --
GARLAND: Only act here is assessing the circumstances. That's all there is here. And we can't wait until somebody dies. That's why we did this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): Okay. So, but Elliot, not everything is what it seems here.
LEMON: Correct? Is it theater? What is going on?
WILLIAMS: It is literally all theater. The Republicans here on this committee fabricated a narrative for political purposes. Look, I have the memorandum right here, Don. It is 292 words. This is the title of memorandum. It literally says, to address threats against school administrators, board members, teachers and staff.
WLLIAMS: It is about threats, not about speech, not about (INAUDIBLE) parents out. This is a sentence from the memo. The second sentence of it, while spirited debate about policy matters is protected under the Constitution, that protection does not extend to threats of violence or efforts to intimidate individuals based on their views.
This memorandum is targeted at violence, the sort of spate of violence that's coming to school boards across the country. They have somehow twisted this into thinking that Merrick Garland is now making this about targeting free speech or parents who want to speak up about what's happening in the schools. It's simply not true.
LEMON: It's interesting. I was watching Anderson earlier and he -- they did -- keeping him honest and this is like -- this is -- this is all made up. But shouldn't Merrick Garland be stronger in defense of the memorandum and in explaining that it isn't anything like what they said?
WLLIAMS: Yeah. No, I mean, I think he can actually just double down and defend the memorandum. But look -- and here's the thing. Here is where if you literally type into Google the words "school board violence," right, here are some of the things that come up.
Number one, Pennsbury, Pennsylvania, close to where I grew up, school board president details violent threats made against board members. Sarasota, Florida, angry school board members target Sarasota School Board. Yahoo, school board meeting turns violent in Minnesota. It's around the country. It may not be an epidemic, right, but it's clearly happening and this is squarely within the work of the Justice Department.
The attorney general is well within his right and perhaps could have said more forcefully, it's my job as the chief law enforcement officer of the United States to ensure that this doesn't happen, and at least get the FBI to work with state and local officials on this. But, you know, he answered effectively, which is that you're twisting my words and that's just not what I said or wrote.
LEMON (on camera): All right. Let's listen to Republican Senator John Cornyn now on this memo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): Mr. Attorney General, you're a very intelligent and accomplished lawyer and judge. You can answer the question.
GARLAND: I do not --
CORNYN: Did you consider -- GARLAND: I do not --
CORYNN: -- the chilling effect that this sort of threat of federal prosecution would have on parents' exercise of their constitutional rights to be involved in their children's education?
GARLAND: I don't believe it's reasonable to read this memorandum as chilling anyone's rights. It's about threats of violence and it expressly recognizes the constitutional right to make arguments about your children's education.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): Okay. I mean, look, this is the shouting and near violence that we have seen. Look at that. These school board meetings. I mean, the DOJ memo is not keeping parents from expressing themselves.
WLLIAMS: Yeah. Look, you know, to quote or to paraphrase Obi-Wan Kenobi --
LEMON: Look at these people.
WLLIAMS: -- politics isn't really my thing and I'm not going to get into the political issues here. But at the end of the day, there are a number of people on this committee that are likely running for the presidency in two or three years, right? And these cultural issues are wedge issues and they work. And they have managed to take this memorandum that is purely drafted for a public safety purpose, twist it, and make it into a wedge culture issue.
Now, this is as much about critical race theory, far more about all that business than it is about actually what it says, which is that when people threaten school boards, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and state and local law enforcement ought to work together to fight it.
LEMON: The truth doesn't matter anymore.
LEMON: Wow. Thanks, Elliot.
WLLIAMS: Thank you, Don.
LEMON: Appreciate it. So, I have something very important to tell you about, okay? On tomorrow's show, we are airing my exclusive interview with the jurors from the Derek Chauvin murder trial. I asked them about hearing that gut-wrenching testimony in the courtroom, how they came to their decision, and what it was like having to repeatedly watch the video of Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd's neck. That's tomorrow at 10:00 on "DON LEMON TONIGHT." You do not want to miss that. It is fascinating.
So, 23 students arrested in three days. So, the dads in the community decide to take things into their own hands. The "Dads on Duty" join me next. You want to see this.
LEMON: Last month at Southwood High School in Shreveport, Louisiana, 23 students were arrested for fighting within only three days. But get this, there hasn't been an incident since that happened, and that's because of an unusual intervention by a group of dads. See those gentlemen there on your screen? They call themselves "Dads on Duty." They're about 40 dads who spend time at the school on shifts.
Joining me now, just some of the "Dads on Duty," including Michael La'Fitte, Zach Johnson, Michael Morgan, Sr., Tracy Harris. I think it's Tracy Harris, Jr. No, sorry, I got that wrong. Tracy Harris, Craig Lee, and Kenny Henry, Jr. Did I get everybody right?
UNKNOWN: Got it right.
LEMON: All right. Kenny -- oh, I forgot the Kenny Wayne, Jr. Kenny, Jr. Thank you, guys. I appreciate you joining us. I'm so happy that you're here. What you're doing is amazing. You all saw this problem about 23 students being arrested in three days, something had to be done. So, did you -- Michael La'Fitte, how did you decide to do something? What happened?
MICHAEL LA'FITTE, DADS ON DUTY USA: So, you know, we're all active parents on the campus. So, after the first fight and then the next day then we had the second fight, I immediately knew that this isn't the school that we sent our children to, this isn't the community that we're raising our babies in.
So, what I did, I reached out to these guys and some other parents. We decided to have a meeting in downtown Shreveport, came here, put together a master plan. That plan after a moment, about after about a three-hour meeting did not include coming up to the school. That was the furthest thing on our mind.
When we were leaving the meeting, these guys here, they said, you know, how about if we just go to the school every day and just show up? So, we kind of balanced it back and forth, back and forth. So, I said a joke to them. I said, how about we call it the pops on patrol? No, that's kind of corny, it reminds me of paw patrol.
LEMON: Paw patrol.
LA'FITTE: So, at 3:00 in the morning, I said, how about we call it dads on duty? So that message went out about 3:00 in the morning. At 7:40, that next day, we were at the campus and we have not left.
LEMON: Good for you. All right, Michael, I'll let somebody else talk. I'm messing with you. So, you decided to go up to the school. Michael Morgan, Sr., did you get any resistance from the students? Were they, like, hey, what the hell are you all doing here? This is our school. We don't want you all here.
MICHAEL MORGAN, SR., DADS ON DUTY USA: We still get it every day but we're starting to learn that the more we're around, the more they're opening up. A kid spoke to me for the first time today. They didn't receive us well at first. We got some that still don't receive us, but they like to see us around.
LEMON: Yeah. Listen, I would imagine there are some kids, Zach, without, you know, a father figure, right? So, what does "Dads on Duty" there being there? What does it mean to the kids who may not have a father figure or a role model at home?
ZACH JOHNSON, DADS ON DUTY USA: It means a big deal because me myself, I came up in a single-parent household. So, if you have that special connection, it's your approach. And when you get the right approach, they'll open up to you, they'll tell you what's going on in personal life.
You got kids that come to school, one day they're angry, something fluctuating at home. So, when you reach that part with them where they actually listen to you and open up, you've done a big thing already because a lot of kids don't respond to people. When they're going through a lot, they shut off.
Say, example, I got one kid, he was happy one day, see him again two days later, he's standing in the corner by himself. But since he opened up to me before, when he sees me, he talks to me. Might keep him from doing something that will potentially ruin his life.
LEMON: Tracy, have you seen -- have you seen a change, Tracy, in any of the kids?
TRACY HARRIS, DADS ON DUTY USA: Absolutely. For us, just being there makes a big difference, being seen male dominance. At first, it was kind of shaky. But now, when we walk up, good morning, how are you doing? You give them good affirmations for the day. And it helps them a whole lot.
It controls their temper because you don't know what happened to them maybe driving to school. They might've got into an argument with a parent or the night before. But just to know we are embracing them in a different manner, it makes all the difference in the world.
LEMON: Craig, what do you have to say?
CRAIG LEE, DADS ON DUTY USA: Well, they talk about it from the standpoint of the children, but the other flipside are the educators and the administrators. I see a perkiness to them because they now see that they have extra reinforcement.
And so, they give us smiles and thumbs up. And so, now you have them coming in because just because they were hired as educators, that doesn't mean that they don't need assistance. And I'm the guy who does not have children at the school. So, I'm supporting them because they are the parents. So, I play the background role. But the teachers are definitely very pleased.
LEMON: Look, I think this is something that would be great all over the country. Kenny Wayne Henry, Jr., what do you think? Do you guys want to take this national? And how do you do it?
KENNETH WAYNE HENRY, JR., DADS ON DUTY USA: Yes, I would love to see it go national. I want to thank Southwood High School and also Southwood Athletic Department. They gave me a chance as an assistant football coach.
WAYNE HENRY, JR.: And the kids, I love them. I love my football team. They look at me as more like a father figure even though they might have some at the house and everything. My head coach, he always talks about to us family, family first. And I also have a son that plays for Southwood. And I teach him, you know, always do something different, do something positive, and just be a leader. That's it.
LEMON: It needs to go national. Worldwide would be great. Well, you guys are a great example. I mean, you all are really, really great. When we're done, I'm going to get your address because I want to send you guys something and I want you guys to stay in touch.
Michael La'Fitte, Zach Johnson, Michael Morgan, Sr., Tracy Harris, Craig Lee, and Kenny Wayne Henry, Jr., thank you so much from the great state of Louisiana, my home state. You all are setting a good example. I'm proud of you. Thank you.
UNKNOWN: Yes, sir.
UNKNOWN: Thank you.
UNKNOWN: Appreciate it.
UNKNOWN: Thank you.
UNKNOWN: Thank you.
LEMON: And thank you for watching, everyone. That's how you do it. Our coverage continues.