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Don Lemon Tonight
Hours Away From Polls Opening In Tight Virginia Governor's Race; WAPO: Trump Did Nothing For 187 Minutes Amid Capitol Siege; Supreme Court Hears Arguments On Texas Abortion Law; Parole Board Recommends Clemency For Death Row Inmate Less Than Three Weeks Before Scheduled Execution. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired November 01, 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 (on camera): We are now just hours away from the polls opening in Virginia where Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republicans Glenn Youngkin are battling it out to become the next governor. And tonight, the race and its implications for next year's important midterm elections too close to call.
We are learning the former president is trying to block the January 6 Committee from getting access to more than 700 pages of documents. This coming amid new reporting he has resisted pleas from aides to stop the rioting for 187 minutes on that fateful day.
And a parole board recommending clemency for a death-row inmate who set to be executed in less than three weeks, convicted of a murder that he insists he did not commit. The final decision now in the hands of Oklahoma's governor.
I want to get right to the election day right now. Polls opening in just a few hours in Virginia in the closely-watched race for governor. The candidates are neck-and-neck tonight.
The latest from CNN's Jeff Zeleny.
CROWD: Terry! Terry! Terry!
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One final push for votes in Virginia.
TERRY MCAULIFFE, FORMER VIRGINIA GOVERNOR, VIRGINIA DEMOCRATIC GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Do not sleep for 24 hours. Let's bring this baby home!
ZELENY (voice-over): Democrat Terry McAuliffe is seeking a second act as Virginia's governor. But on election eve, he is locked in a bitter duel with Republican businessman Glenn Youngkin.
GLENN YOUNGKIN, VIRGINIA REPUBLICAN GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: The entire nation is watching this. All eyes are on Virginia.
ZELENY (voice-over): A year after President Biden won the commonwealth by 10 points, Republicans are riding a wave of energy. They hope to spark a party resurgence as Democrats scramble to keep their party together and avoid an embarrassing defeat.
YOUNGKIN: There is not going to be a Democrat in any seat anywhere in this nation who is going to think that his or her seat is safe.
ZELENY (voice-over): Virginia elects its governors a year after the presidential race. Since 1970, the party out of power out in the White House has won every time, except once, in 2013, when McAuliffe narrowly carried the state after President Obama's reelection.
MCAULIFFE: We can't get this done unless we keep this positive momentum going.
ZELENY (voice-over): This time, the political headwinds facing Democrats are strong even with the parade of party stars visiting over the last month. Tonight, more than 1.1 million Virginians have already voted, casting their ballots early.
Aides to both campaigns tell CNN they expect a record turnout for a governor's race with most of the electorate voting on Tuesday. The race has emerged as a proxy war for the popularity of the current president and the former one.
MCAULIFFE: That's what you got with Glenn Trumpkin.
ZELENY (voice-over): With Donald Trump set to call in to a rally tonight after praising Youngkin in a new statement, saying, we get along very well together and strongly believe in many of the same policies. Hoping to woo independent voters, McAuliffe has repeatedly tried tying
Youngkin to Trump.
MCAULIFFE: Donald Trump and Glenn Youngkin are trying to run down the democracy of this country and we will not tolerate it.
ZELENY (voice-over): For months, Youngkin has walked a careful line on the Trump tightrope, trying to energize the former president's loyal followers without alienating independents and even Republicans turned off by Trump. He is tapped into the latest front on the culture wars from vaccine mandates to what kids learn and read in the classroom. It's put the power of the parents' movement at the center of the race.
YOUNGKIN: This is no longer a campaign. This is a movement led by parents, led by Virginians.
ZELENY (voice-over): Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Fairfax, Virginia.
LEMON (on camera): All right. Jeff, thank you very much. I want to bring in now CNN's senior political analyst Mr. Ron Brownstein and political commentator Scott Jennings. And in this corner -- I'm kidding. It's not going to be any of that. Good to see both of you.
Ron, I'm going to start with you. We are less than an hour away from election day and all eyes are on Virginia. I spoke to Larry Sabato earlier. He thinks this race is leaning towards Glenn Youngkin. How worried are Democrats tonight?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: They are worried. Look, I mean, in every election since 1977 except for one in 2013, the Virginia governor's race has gone the opposite of the way the presidential race went.
LEMON: Okay, okay, okay. Ron, Ron, with that said, then why all of the hyperventilating and people getting the vapors about, oh my gosh, Terry McAuliffe could lose? I mean, that's what history has showed, right?
BROWNSTEIN: Right. Well, the main reason, Don, is the state has become more democratic --
BROWNSTEIN: -- you know, over the last decade than it was through all of the history when it was a purple state or even a republican-leaning in the 1990s.
Look, I don't think Terry McAuliffe losing guarantees that Democrats have a bad election in 2022. What it does tell them is that if the political environment stays the same, whether he wins by a point or loses by a point, it is going to be a tough, you know, environment for them to run in if Joe Biden is still at 42, 43% nationally.
BROWNSTEIN: Basically, what this tells Democrats either way is that job one has to be rebuilding Biden's popularity between now and next November through any means they can because that is the biggest undertow that McAuliffe is facing.
LEMON: Why are you shaking your head there, Scott?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDNET TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I agree with a lot of what Ron was saying there. I think, first of all, the point you made about Virginia becoming a blue state, it is absolutely true. I mean, Joe Biden won the state by 10 points.
I think for Republicans to be within spitting distance of this thing is miraculous in some ways when you look at the trend of Virginia. I know what the history is. These things have gotten very democratic over the years.
And what Republicans are looking for here, whether Youngkin wins or loses -- I think he is a slight favorite, I agree with Larry Sabato -- what they are looking for here is, does this party have a path back electorally in the suburbs? And what we have seen out of the Youngkin campaign is a heavy focus on schools, a heavy focus on crime, and a heavy focus on, you know, kitchen table economic issues to see if they can move those suburban voters, say in Northern Virginia, back. They went against the Republicans in '18 and '20. Can they move them back towards the GOP?
And it looks to me like that's where the party's blueprint is for some of the races in the midterm if Youngkin has the success that we think he is going to have.
LEMON: Okay. What happened to that, Scott? Let me ask you then because basically what Youngkin is saying -- I mean, this is my analysis -- is saying, listen, hey, we want you, Trump voters. We don't necessarily want Trump in this race. So, he is trying to keep them at arm's length. So, what -- does that -- what does that say about, you know, whether Trump should be a part of this or not? What is your analysis on that?
JENNINGS: Well, I think he's responding to the empirical information we had from the last election in which Trump did not win the election. He lost by several million votes. But everywhere else down the ticket, House races, Senate races, governor's races --
JENNINGS: -- state legislatures --
JENNINGS: -- Republicans actually did quite well. And so, there are a whole bunch of people out there and Youngkin knows this who actually want to vote for, you know, run of the mill standard issue conservative Republicans but didn't care to vote for Trump.
LEMON: That's my question.
LEMON: That's the gist of my question. Hold on. Hold on, Ron. I find this very fascinating. That's the gist of my question. So, where does this, Scott, put Donald Trump in all of this? I mean, should the party be looking beyond him? Do you understand what I'm saying, am getting at?
JENNINGS: Yeah. Look, it's a great question because Youngkin has run, I think, a really smart campaign designed to try to run a coalition effort inside the Republican Party, bringing together all the coalitions you mentioned. This is the prototype for the future where you actually have more cohesion than you had, you know, when Trump was at the top of the ticket.
Also, look, he is his own man. He has got his own ideas, he is running his own race, and he is telling the people of Virginia, I don't need to be a clone of somebody else. I just need to be who I am.
LEMON: Okay. JENNINGS: And it's also a rejection of what McAuliffe has done. McAuliffe has tried to make this thing all about Trump and Youngkin has tried to make it about Virginia issues. We are going to see which one works.
LEMON: Ron, same question.
BROWNSTEIN: Yeah. Look, I think -- I turn it around and look it from the supply -- the demand side, I guess. There is no question Donald Trump is the dominant figure in the Republican Party. The Trump faction is the largest faction in the Republican Party. Three quarters or four fifths of the party is in line with what he is doing.
But there is about a quarter of Republican voters, maybe a fifth, depending on the poll, who are uneasy with everything Donald Trump has done, particularly since the election, and who view him, view many of his actions as a threat to American democracy.
If Trumpism is going to be curbed in the Republican Party, those voters have to exact a price on other Republican candidates. If in fact, to use Scott's phrase, if they kind of revert back to voting for a one of the mil (ph) conservative Republican who nonetheless is winking at Trump's claims of fraud and signaling that they will enable rather than confront Trump, there simply is going to be no incentive for the party to try to move away from Trump.
If they feel they can get the best of both worlds, if they can get that Trump turnout, the turnout among the Trump base and also hold and even win back suburbanites who are uneasy about Trump, any effort to stop Trump in the party is going to be very, very difficult.
So, in some ways, this comes back to those Republican voters who are uneasy with Trump. If they continue to drift back towards candidates like Youngkin, they are more likely, I think, to get Trump as their nominee in 2024.
LEMON: Okay. So, Scott, having said all of this, Trump is in the race, he is not really in the race, he's kind of in the race, he hasn't been there but is doing these tele-rallies, I mean, he also released a statement today full of lies, falsely questioning the integrity of Virginia's election, but also telling his base to flood the system and get out and vote.
I mean, for months, he has been saying, don't trust the elections, don't trust the system. And now, he wants people to go vote. You can't have it both ways. I don't know. Maybe you can.
JENNINGS: Well, he certainly told the people of Georgia back in January that their votes wouldn't count and some were listening. He has been on this message. It strikes me that someone's gotten to him because now he has put out a couple of statements, saying, I didn't mean people shouldn't vote.
And so, it may be that finally people that he listens to, whoever that is, have said, hey, you can't tell people not to vote because if the Republicans win the midterms next year, I mean, you are not going to be able to claim any credit for it.
I also think what's happening is there is a sense that Youngkin has momentum and you're seeing the statements coming out from him because he wants some of the credit here for this.
JENNINGS: But I think Youngkin did the right thing and he ran his own race. He didn't feel like he had to lean on Trump for anything. And unlike McAuliffe, who feels like he has to lean on Biden, Obama and every other Democratic luminary, Youngkin was his own man here and I give him credit for staying the course on that, not giving in to the idea that you've got to bring in Trump or anyone else, frankly.
LEMON: Hey, Ron, I have to go. If you can just give me 10 seconds, seriously, to respond. I know you want to respond.
BROWNSTEIN: Yeah. Look, I think the biggest question for Democrats is going to be, do they see the signs of the usual problem in midterms, which is their base is depressed, less eager to vote than the other side? And also, how big a drag is Joe Biden, whether McAuliffe wins by a point or loses by a point?
I think the clearest message for Democrats is they have a shared interest, a kind of survival interest in rallying around the Biden presidency and trying to rebuild his approval rating because if it is at this level in a year, it is almost certainly going to be a very tough night.
LEMON: All right. Thank you both. I appreciate it.
So, I want to turn now to political strategist Sarah Longwell. She is the publisher of "The Bulwark" and the host of the "Focus Group" podcast. Hi, Sarah. Good to see you again.
SARAH LONGWELL, POLITICAL STRATEGIST FOR THE BULWARK, PODCAST HOST: Hey, Don. Thanks for having me.
LEMON: Thanks for coming on. I appreciate it. So, you recently spoke to a group of undecided independent voters in Virginia. What do they tell you about the most important factors in this race?
LONGWELL: Well, there is some good news for Terry McAuliffe, these undecided voters, and they were Biden 2020 voters. Nine out of 10 of them, they were going to vote for Terry McAuliffe. So, that's, you know, mostly good. The bad news is they all think Youngkin is going to win. And the reason is -- I mean, it's just a straight up enthusiasm thing.
LONGWELL: The way that these -- they were sort of -- they are so demoralized. I mean, you know, your previous guests were talking about the national mood and that is so clear in these Democratic focus groups. They are just down on Joe Biden. They are down on the idea that nothing is getting done. They don't feel good about anything. And that just hangs over this governor's race.
And to contrast that on the Republican side, every group I talked to, 2020 Trump voters, they cannot wait to vote. I remember, there was one guy who told me, I want to vote for any living, breathing Republican. They have this pent-up energy from 2020. They feel like they got robbed. So, they want to turn out -- you know, this is the kind of thing they tell me where we got to turn out numbers so big, the other side can't cheat.
And so, I think that Glenn Youngkin -- these voters seem to think Glenn Youngkin really had the enthusiasm on their side and they were, yeah, they were going to vote for McAuliffe, but they were just kind of mad about the whole thing.
LEMON (on camera): I want to play some of what you heard from some of these folks. Here it is. About Joe Biden. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN (voice-over): I don't like how Biden is just how much debt he wants to incur. I don't like what happened in Afghanistan.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Biden hasn't stepped up or hasn't appeared to have stepped up as I would have hoped somebody with 40 years in the Senate could bring people together to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): So, there you go. What kind of impact is Biden having on this Virginia race?
LONGWELL: Yeah. It's just brutal. I have done a number of Democratic focus groups in a row now. I have been doing them for weeks. I always ask people to give Joe Biden a letter grade. And he is getting a couple of Bs and mostly Cs and Ds.
One of the things people complain about the most, obviously, they are concerned about inflation. There still, you know, kind of feeling like COVID is not under control. But they just don't feel like they see Joe Biden. Actually, one of the things I hear the most is, they are saying, where is Joe Biden? We are in the middle of all these crises and I just don't feel like he is very visible. And where is Kamala Harris?
They are sort of hungry for leadership that they feel like they are not getting, and I think all this stuff that's going on in Washington where people don't have a real sense of --
LEMON: You could have had me in your focus group. You should have had me -- I have been saying the same thing on this show forever. You should have had me in your focus group. I mean, I could have told you that's the sentiment out there. Where is Joe Biden? Why is he holding events at two in the afternoon when nobody can't see him? Why isn't he out there selling? Where are the Democrats? Where is the vice president? Why are the Democrats not behind the president? Why aren't they getting his agenda?
All these -- I hear that every single day from people. And, you know, it is -- obviously, it's being reflected in the people you are talking to.
LEMON: I think that -- you can correct if I'm wrong. I don't think that Democrats in Washington were aware of it. They were too close to the forest for the trees, right?
And now, with this election and what is happening, I guess, nationally with the polling, what have you, finally, they are coming around to realizing, oh, wait, we are screwing this up.
LONGWELL: Yeah. I mean, if Youngkin wins and even if McAuliffe wins by just a point or two, it is a massive wake-up call for what is heading their way if Joe Biden's numbers stay where they are and democratic enthusiasm stays as low as it is. I mean, it's just -- you just can't -- I mean, that's wave election territory going into 2022.
I will say one brighter spot. You know, Youngkin is a particularly good candidate for Virginia because he is able to thread this needle with the kind of trumpy footsie stuff but then also kind of like Mitt Romney to the suburban voters. A lot of candidates the Republicans are putting up in 2022, Herschel Walker, Sean Parnell in Pennsylvania, those are extremely trumpy candidates.
LONGWELL: Those are people that Trump is already out there endorsing. And so, it's not as easy as it is in Virginia for them to keep Trump at arm's length and bring those suburban voters back.
LEMON: Yeah. They are hugging Trump so closely. They can't tell the difference between the candidate and Trump, right? They are kind of hiding behind him. I think voters don't like that as well on the republican side.
Thank you. I appreciate it. Good to see you, Sarah.
LONGWELL: Thank you.
LEMON: New revelations about January 6 and just how close we came to a coup. What the then-president was doing while lawmakers were under attack, 187 minutes when he refused to do or say anything to stop the assault on our democracy?
LEMON: Lawyers for the former president quickly approaching a deadline to submit their arguments for why documents from his presidency should be kept secret from the committee investigating January 6. CNN is learning from court filings that President Trump is seeking to block the release of more than 700 documents from the national archives.
This is a "Washington Post" report, damning new information about how the then-president resisted calls to stop the attack on the Capitol for 187 minutes.
Joining me now, Democrats Congressman Ruben Gallego of Arizona. Thank you, congressman. I appreciate you joining us. Good to see you.
REP. RUBEN GALLEGO (D-AZ): Thank you.
So, Donald Trump wants to keep a trove of documents secret from Congress, including handwritten notes from his chief of staff, White House visitor records, call logs of Trump and Pence. What kind of information could be in those records that the former president doesn't want the committee to see?
GALLEGO: I think it will show two things. Number one, it probably shows that there was some level of planning that was involved in the insurrection that happened on January 6. It wasn't just a random chance that a bunch of, you know, losers with bear mace happened to show up on January 6.
It also shows probably the same time that the president and his people were trying to cover up the aftereffects of that or trying to, which we kind of starting to see now, were trying to delay the deployment of forces to actually rescue the members of Congress from the lynch mobs that were out there.
LEMON: Yeah. So, let's talk about -- "The Washington Post" is out with this new reporting about what happened on January 6. And then I am just going to read a quote from it.
It says, the Capitol was under siege and the president, glued to the television, did nothing. For 187 minutes, Trump resisted entreaties to intervene from advisers, allies and his elder daughter, as well as lawmakers under attack. Trump declined for more than three hours to tell the renegades rioting in his name to stand down and to go home.
The "Post" reporting that at the very moment the Secret Service was moving Pence out of the Capitol -- we have the video up there -- Trump was attacking him on Twitter.
I mean, what were the consequences of the former president's inaction here, do you believe, congressman?
GALLEGO: The consequence was this was an actual coup attempt. This is a coup attempt that we haven't seen in this country since the civil war. Had they been successful and they got pretty close, we were going to deal with a very, you know, very serious constitutional crisis.
And this president doesn't care. I mean, he is a person that breaks anything he wants in order to get what he wants. And he'll take the gullible and the stupid and the naive as well as the selfish with him, which is what you see happening in politics right now.
So, this is a horrible situation that could have gotten a lot worse. And the fact that -- the bigger problem right now is that it happened. But now, there is a Republican Party that basically is buying into this and they are buying into the lie just so they could have some political relevance. And it's disgusting. It's disgusting that --
LEMON: They are winning with that. They are winning with that lie. That has to be frustrating for you.
GALLEGO: It's very frustrating. I am not frustrated as a Democrat. I am frustrated as an American. I am frustrated as a patriot, someone who actually served in their country, the fact that there is a whole portion of this political party, of a political party that is willing to basically sell their souls to this person who is soulless in order for them to win elections, at the same time destroy this beautiful democracy we have been fighting for so long.
And look, the Democrats should be doing better and talking about this, too. The fact that you have Merrick Garland thinking that this is some kind of normal situation and acting as if there is -- wasn't a coup on this country is a problem. The fact that we still aren't pushing Voting Rights Act to try to stop further erosion of our politics is a problem. So, both sides need to be doing better.
GALLEGO: But right now, there is only one functioning party that actually cares about democracy and that's the Democratic Party.
LEMON (on camera): Yeah. Well, right on. Let's hope -- I mean, that's your party. So, talk to them, please. So, listen, congressman, CNN's K-file uncovering an interview from pro-Trump lawyer, John Eastman, just days before the insurrection. He wanted Pence to throw out the electoral college votes. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN EASTMAN, TRUMP LAWYER (voice-over): I think a lot of that depends on the courage and the spine of the individuals involved.
STEVE BANNON, FORMER TRUMP ADVISER (voice-over): That would be a nice way to say a guy named Mike -- Vice President Mike Pence?
EASTMAN (voice-over): Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): Does that make it clearer than ever that this was a premeditated coup attempt?
GALLEGO: Well, absolutely. There was -- look, just because someone is wearing, you know, cheap Brooks Brothers suit doesn't mean they aren't part of the insurrection. John Eastman, Rudy Giuliani, a couple of these other fake -- not fake, real lawyers, really helped bring this argument to, you know, at least to some of the more gullible people to make it more salient and more real.
The fact that all of them still even have law licenses tells you about how unspurious a lot of people are taking this situation. John Eastman has a job with the Claremont Institute. The fact that they still haven't fired that man tells you a lot about the Claremont Institute.
We really need to start arresting people. I am telling you right now, if we do not start showing consequences to the coup, then a failed coup is a practice run.
What you are going to see is going to happen in either two ways. Number one, there is going to be real coup where there is physical bump, overthrow of the government or it's going to be one that's going to be done by legal means such as, you know, voter disenfranchisement, you know, overturning the votes of, you know, certain counties to make sure that, you know, candidates like Donald Trump or other candidates like that win.
We are not taking this serious enough right now. It is -- we are nearly at Defcon 5 and no one is really, you know, looking at this as serios as they should.
LEMON: Like I said, talk to your party.
GALLEGO: They don't listen to me anymore.
LEMON: No, no. I mean, we are talking about things that are really serious. I mean that because the Democratic Party -- I said it over and over on this program -- is the only party that is operating in reality. And our democracy is going to be saved. It's going to be by the Democrats. But they are not doing a good job. You guys are not doing a good job at it right now.
And by the way, this may be a Brooks Brothers suit that I am wearing. It is not cheap. I don't want to throw any shade on Brooks Brothers. I'm sure that's not what you meant.
GALLEGO: Listen, you know what? I get my Brooks Brothers suits from the outlets. So, it's who is wearing it, not the actual suit.
LEMON: Thank you, sir. I appreciate you joining us. Be well.
GALLEGO: Thank you.
LEMON: A new CNN special report comes out this week. "Trumping Democracy: An American Coup." It airs Friday. It starts at 9:00 p.m. That's Jake Tapper, right, producers? Jake Tapper special. Make sure you watch that. I will be on right after that. Okay?
So, they let Texas keep their six-week abortion ban, but the Supreme Court is now signaling that they will let abortion providers challenge the law. It's not only the justices you'd expect. Laura Coates is going to break it down right after this. There she is. We will be back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [23:30:00]
LEMON (on camera): Liberal Supreme Court justices are warning that constitutional rights enshrined in Supreme Court decisions on gun rights, same-sex marriage, birth control, and other issues could be open to attack depending on how the court handles the Texas abortion ban case. Listen to Justice Kagan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELENA KAGAN, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES (voice-over): Essentially, we would be inviting states, all 50 of them, with respect to their unpreferred constitutional rights, to try to nullify the law that this court has laid down as to the content of those rights.
I mean, that was something that until this law came along, no state dreamed of doing. And essentially, we would be like, you know, we're open for -- you are open for business. There's a -- there is nothing the Supreme Court can do about it. Guns, same-sex marriage, religious rights, whatever you don't like, go ahead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): Okay. So, I want to hear from our senior legal analyst, Laura Coates, about this. Laura, good evening to you. What do you think of what Justin Kagan said, her warning?
LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Justice Kagan is absolutely right. I mean, this would be the definitive slippery slope. We often hear about this could be a slippery slope, it might have a domino effect. If you allow states to be able to an end run around judicial review, you essentially give them cart blanch to do whatever they want as long as they figure out a way not to have a state actor enforce the law.
Remember, fundamentally, what's wrong with this case is that normally, if you want to try to prevent a law from going into effect, you have to be able to sue the state actor who is charged under the statute to actually enforce the law.
In Texas, they decided, huh, we will avoid that by allowing anyone in the country, not a state actor in Texas, to be able to sue anyone who aids in an abortion, thereby allowing them to just avoid judicial review. Now, if that's allowed, she is right. It's not just hot-button issues like abortion or gun rights or anything else.
COATES: It could be everything that could be fair game, and that's not a blueprint that can actually sustain itself.
LEMON: So, the judges who already voiced opposition to the Texas law are obviously in favor of letting it be challenged. Conservative Justice Kavanaugh, Coney Barrett, they are showing that they are open to letting abortion clinics challenge the law in court. For them, is this about whether the law is constitutional?
COATES: Not yet. And that's the thing about right now. You know, we've heard already thinking about there is a Mississippi case a few weeks from now deciding whether a 16-week ban is going to be constitutional. With this challenge in Texas, it's not quite at the, is it constitutional stage, which has surprised people. Right now, it's at the, who could sue, wo could actually avoid having to be vulnerable to this evasion of judicial review and bring a case in the courts.
There were two different parties involved. Of course, the Department of Justice, the federal government wanting to intervene on behalf of being able to enforce federal laws. Then you had the clinicians, the abortion clinics and providers who said we'd like to be able to sue and be in court because we are the ones when are not hypothetically going to be challenged. We are the ones with the most to lose in terms of financial penalties.
And they can be retroactive, Don. They can also not have a ceiling. You might lose one case of $10,000, but that is nothing to prevent more and more people from suing you. And it could be, as Justice Kavanaugh spoke about this, up to a million dollars. And the idea that these clinicians would always be vulnerable for any person across the country seemed to be the most persuasive to this court right now.
But we have time. We don't know what the court is going to rule. But the idea of who would be the most burdened, so to speak, in terms of the penalties, are the people who would, in fact, clinically aid in an abortion.
LEMON: You said we have some time. When is it going to be decided? When will we know if this law is going to be upheld or struck down? Don't know?
COATES: You know, I wish I could tell you that the courts like to move at a very fast pace. They do not. They have until really the summer. However, this case is on quite a fast track. Remember, this only went into law at the end of August or early September and we already have this on the docket at the Supreme Court, expedited briefing, even before the Mississippi case even gets into oral argument.
So, they could be moving at an expedited pace because there is so much at stake. Remember, it's not as if there are the longstanding discussions esoterically. You are talking about pregnancy. There is, obviously, a time limit involved and every day that goes by, somebody's constitutional rights could be being deprived by not being able to exercise what they are entitled to do understanding Supreme Court precedent like Roe v. Wade.
So, the court might be moving at a faster pace, but bureaucracy and the judicial process in general has a lot of red tape and a lot of foot dragging.
LEMON: Glacial pace. Slow, slow.
COATES: Slow, slow, very slow.
LEMON: Thank you, Laura. Appreciate it. I'll see you soon.
COATES: Thank you.
LEMON: So, he was sentenced to death for a murder he says he didn't committee. And after 20 years on death row, there is news tonight for Julius Jones.
LEMON (on camera): Tonight, the fate of a man named Julius Jones is in the hands of Oklahoma's governor. Jones is scheduled to be executed on November 18th for a murder he insists he did not commit. Today, Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board recommending that Governor Kevin Stitt grant him clemency communing his sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole -- with the possibility of parole, with the possibility of parole.
More on this tonight from CNN's Ed Lavandera.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On July 28th, 1999, Paul Howell pulled into a driveway in Edmond, Oklahoma. His sister and two young daughters were in the car with him. As they came to a stop, Howell's family says a man with a gun emerged at the driver's side door.
RACHEL HOWELL, DAUGHTER OF PAUL HOWELL: The door was already cracked open. I watched him walk up. He had a red bandanna over his face, a white shirt and with a silver gun like up against his like here as he was walking up, and then opened the door and shot my dad in the head. That's the main image that I remember, my dad's head falling.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Within a few days, two men were arrested for killing Howell. Christopher Jordan pled guilty to first-degree murder and testified that 19-year-old Julius Jones was the man who pulled the trigger. Jones was convicted and given the death penalty.
But Julius Jones, who is scheduled to die this month, has maintained that he did not kill Paul Howell. Recently, Jones's case has garnered the attention of high-profile celebrities like Kim Kardashian-West and millions have signed a petition urging Oklahoma's governor to halt his execution.
JULIUS JONES, DEATH ROW INMATE: My name is Julius Darius Jones. This is the first chance that I have had in over 20 years to talk about what happened.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): On Monday, Julius Jones spoke before Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board.
JONES: I am not the person responsible for taking Mr. Howell's life. I was not involved in the planning of this robbery, I was not present during this robbery, and I did not know that anyone had been killed until the day after Mr. Howell's murder.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): In court documents, Jones's lawyers say evidence that could have exonerated the death row inmate was overlooked and never presented to the jury. Jones's family says the teenager was at home the night of the murder and that he did not match the appearance of the suspect's description.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): The lawyers write in a clemency petition the trial was shrouded in racial prejudice. In the court document, lawyers say Jones was described as the N-word by a juror and that one of the arresting officers called Jones the N-word as well. The Howell family and the state's attorney general says this was never proven.
Jones's lawyers also allege that Christopher Jordan, the second defendant, spent the night at Julius Jones's home the night after the murder, and that's when he hid the murder weapon in the bandanna in the home.
JONES: I just want the Howell family to know I do recognize their loss and I hope at some point they get to heal and to keep cherishing their loved one. I wasn't involved in any way. I wasn't present. I didn't even know he had been killed until after the fact.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Paul Howell's family says the celebrity- driven campaign to exonerate Julius Jones is driven by painful misinformation. They say there is overwhelming evidence of his guilt.
MEGAN TOBEY, VICTIM'S SISTER: Julius Jones murdered Paul Howell, a totally innocent victim. Jones knew his punishment for murder. He chose his outcome.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): On Monday, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted 3-1 to recommend clemency for Jones. Now, it's up to Oklahoma's governor to decide the fate of Julius Jones.
Ed Lavandera, CNN, Dallas.
LEMON (on camera): Ed Lavandera, thank you so much for that. Julius Jones's mother, Madeline Jones, is here along with Jimmy Lawson, his best friend of 40 years. I'll speak with them next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board recommending clemency today for Julius Jones, a man set to be executed on November 18 for a murder he insists he did not commit. The final decision is in the hands of Oklahoma's governor, Kevin Stitt.
Joining me now, Madeline Jones, Julius Jones's mother, and Jimmy Lawson, his best friend for 30 years. I said 40 years before the break. I don't mean to age you, Jimmy. Thank you both for joining us.
Ms. Jones, may I call you Madeline?
MADELINE JONES, MOTHER OF JULIUS JONES: Yes.
LEMON: Thank you, ma'am. So, Madeline, you've been waiting for this day for quite a long time. How were you feeling when you found out about the board's recommendation to grant clemency for Julius, your son?
JONES: I was excited. I got the holy ghost because I was just feeling good all over. And I was just -- I could feel the drums that one of our Native American friends have serenaded (INAUDIBLE). And I could feel those drums.
LEMON: Jimmy, you've known Julius for 30 years, like I said. It's now up to the governor to decide whether to follow the board's recommendation. Do you feel optimistic that he will?
JIMMY LAWSON, BEST FRIEND OF JULIUS JONES: I do. You know, this whole journey proved to me and the Jones family that, A, when you have the power of your voice and when you use it, you know, amazing things can happen. And this is a living testimony of going through stage one commutation, stage two commutation, and clemency today.
It is an amazing day and amazing feeling to be where we are today. So, we have full faith and credit that Governor Stitt is going to do the right thing and sign off on it.
LEMON: I love that full faith and credit. Madeline, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board recommended commuting your son's death sentence to life with the possibility of parole. He has been on death row for more than 20 years now. Do you think there will be a day when he is a free man?
JONES: Yes. I can see it and feel it and visualize it. Yes.
LEMON: Yes. Why so?
JONES: I feel it in my spirit.
LEMON: You just feel it in your spirit?
JONES: Today, I keep saying it. Today was my mother's birthday. She would have been 95 if she was living. And she put her finger together before she passed away. She said something (INAUDIBLE) was going to bring her grandson home. And I thought about today. He was given the opportunity to tell his own story. He did an awesome job.
LEMON: You know, Madeline, Paul Howell's family said that they hoped that the Pardon and Parole Board would vote based on facts instead of Hollywood fiction. His daughter said that the evidence shows Julius is guilty. Is there anything you want to say to that family, to Howell's family?
JONES: Well, first of all, the facts were given. And if they would do a little research and since they said they didn't look at the last defense, no one ever came to us. I come from a family that we should be able to -- if I have a problem with my neighbor, we can sit down and talk. And several times, we have tried to invite them to talk to us. So, you know, how can I say? When you know better, you do better. And exposure. Do your research. I did mine.
LEMON: Yeah. What do you guys want to say to -- quickly, Jimmy, and also from Madeline. What do you want to say to the Oklahoma governor tonight?
LAWSON: Yeah. We would hope that Governor Stitt would look at what the Pardon and Parole Board approved today and grant our wish that he (INAUDIBLE) what they recommended, which is converting his death role into life with the possibility of parole. Time is of the essence with the pending November 18th date, so we are urging our governor to take action and take action quickly.
JONES: Well, I would like to say we are urging our governor, Honorable Kevin Stitt, to do the right thing. He's a father. He's a -- well, we know leader. He's a God-fearing man and just doing the right thing. And we would urge him to look at the urgency of it.
LEMON: Thank you both. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. Come back and talk to us. You guys be well.
LAWSON: Yes. We appreciate it, Don. Thank you for using your platform. We greatly appreciate it.
LEMON: Thank you very much.
Thank you for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.