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Don Lemon Tonight

Top Aide Of Mike Pence Cooperates With January 6 Committee; Texas Sued By DOJ Over Redistricting; Michigan Attorney General Weighs In On The Oxford Shooting; DOJ Closes Emmett Till's Murder Investigation. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired December 06, 2021 - 22:00   ET



MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: Media polarization. The biggest driver of all. And there is something else going on out there. We're self- sorting. We are making a conscious choice to live the like-minded. That's not gerrymandering and that's equally problematic. Well, thank you for watching. I will be back here tomorrow night. DON LEMON TONIGHT starts right now. Don?

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: You know, I thought I was brave, right? But you are so brave to read those comments. I hear you on "Smerconish" on the weekend reading the comments. I hear you on your radio show reading those comments. Why are you so brave? Why do you do it? I get a lot out of it. I guess that's probably right.

SMERCONISH: You know what, I get a kick out of. I think the spontaneity of it gets to draw on things that I have hopefully acquired over the years on radio. Don, if I had my choice, I don't know if anybody would watch, I'd sit here for an hour and go through nothing but those that are complaining and try and respond to them in realtime. I get a thrill out of it. What can I say?

LEMON: This is me knocking on the glass like I used to in your old studio, Michael, and I used to work in the same building in Philadelphia --


LEMON: -- at a radio show and worked for the NBC station there and I would stand at the glass and wave at him and knock on the glass and watch him on the radio.

SMERCONISH: Well, its good -- good to see you in this circumstance and not just that one.

LEMON: Thank you Michael. Great show. I'll see you tomorrow night. Have a good evening, sir.

SMERCONISH: Look forward to it. Thank you.

LEMON: This is DON LEMON TONIGHT and we're going to start with this breaking news. Thank you for joining us. And this is huge. It's really huge because a high ranking official from the former president's administration telling what he knows to the January 6 committee. It is a big deal.

We're talking about Marc Short. It's a big deal because Marc Short is the former chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence. He saw firsthand what happened in the days leading up to January 6th. Now, he knows how the then-president pressured his own vice president not to certify the election that day. He knows all of that -- about that. He was with Mike Pence at the capitol at the time that those rioters stormed the seat of our democracy. He knows that his boss was in peril.


UNKNOWNS: We want Pence! We want Pence! We want Pence!


LEMON: He knows the vice president and his family had to be evacuated with those bloodthirsty insurrectionists' just seconds away. And Marc Short's cooperation with the January 6th committee may just be the tip of the iceberg. One source telling CNN the committee is getting "significant cooperation with team Pence."

So, what are they learning from the then vice president's inner circle? What are they learning? And will that put pressure on people like Mark Meadows who has said that he's going to -- he will cooperate with the committee, but is still claiming executive privilege. So what's going to happen here?

And let's remember what January 6th was all about. It was about subverting our free and fair elections. It was about stopping the peaceful transfer of power. Delegitimizing the votes of more than 81 million Americans who cast their ballots for Joe Biden.

And it's not over yet. January 6th was the trial run. The assault on the vote is breaking out into -- to open across all of this country, right? The Justice Department suing Texas today saying GOP-approved redistricting maps discriminate against Black and Latino voters.


MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: The complaint we filed today, alleges that Texas has violated Section 2 by creating redistricting plans that deny or a bridge the rights of Latino and Black voters to vote on account of their race, color, or membership in a language minority group.


LEMON: You may want to note that this is the second federal lawsuit that the Biden administration has filed against Texas this year. The DOJ also challenged restrictive voting measures in Texas including banning 24-hour and drive-through voting making it tougher to vote by mail and empowering partisan poll watchers.

So, make no mistake about this. Our democracy is at risk. I've said it before. It's not just in Texas, either. Emboldened Republicans all across the country are pushing harder than ever. The former president's minions are flocking to election jobs all the way down to the local level in key battleground states. Something that you need to pay attention to.

Steve Bannon who is awaiting trial charged with contempt of Congress after he failed to comply with a subpoena from the House Committee investigating January 6 saying the quiet part out loud on his podcast the day he was indicted.


STEVE BANNON, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: We're taking over the Republican Party to the precinct committee strategy. We're taking over all the elections.


LEMON: This is a very serious threat to our democracy. The time is running out to make sure that the next election is truly secure. Whatever happened to the push in Congress to secure voting rights? Remember the president told me this on our town hall. This was over the summer. Here it is.


LEMON: This is important for people who look like me. My grandmother would sit around when I was a kid, 5th grade, had a 5th grade education.


I learned that she couldn't read when I was doing my homework. She would tell me stories about people asking her to count the number of jelly beans in the jar. So why is protecting the filibuster is that more important than protecting voting rights especially for people who fought and died for that?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: No. It's not. I want to see the United States Congress, the United States Senate, pass S1 and S4, the John Lewis Act, and get it on my desk so I can sign it.


LEMON: Okay, that was then. And this is now. Here we are tonight. The assault on voting rights in Texas and across this country, nothing less than a plan to give the GOP the power to overturn the next election if they don't like the results. It's not about politics. It's about our most sacred right as Americans. The right to vote.

A right that is definitely worth fighting for. And with everything that's going on right now, what are Republicans doing? The party of Lincoln, yes, that's how far they have fallen, allowing members to spew hate and Islamophobia.

Congresswoman Lauren Boebert proudly putting her own bigotry on display with a disgusting, so-called joke, about Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and terrorists.


REP. ILHAN OMAR (D-MN): This kind of language, this kind of hate, cannot be condoned by the House of Representatives and we should punish and sanction Boebert by stripping her of her committees, by rebuking her language, by doing everything that we can to send a clear and decisive message to the American public that if the Republicans are not going to be adults and condone -- condemn this, that we are going to do that.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Do you think Speaker Pelosi is going to do that? Have a vote at least to strip her of her committee assignments?

OMAR: I've had a conversation with the speaker and I am very confident that she will take decisive action next week. As you know, when I first got to Congress, I was worried that, you know, I wasn't going to be allowed to be sworn in because there was a ban on the hijab. She promised me that she would take care of it, she fulfilled that promise. She's made another promise to me that she will take care of this.


LEMON: The congresswoman, putting the speaker on the clock there. But the Republicans -- it's the same old playbook. And that is distract, deflect, be the loudest voice in the room, even when what you're yelling, whatever you're yelling about, makes absolutely no sense. There is a QAnon congresswoman of course, ignoring things like, you know, science and facts. And appearing to compare COVID to cancer. Saying thousands of Americans have died from cancer and the country hasn't shut down.

Okay. It's the same thing when people talk about masks and when they talk about, you know, the vaccine and HIV and AIDS or whatever. So, the reason that is, congresswoman, and people that may agree with her, is that's because you are not going to get sick from breathing the same air as someone who has cancer, unlike COVID. Facts, people.

And then there is Congressman Thomas Massie, wishing you season's greetings by decking the halls with guns and ammo. Ammo. Let's not forget, the shooting suspect in Michigan, in that Michigan high school, was searching for ammo on his phone in class.

I guess the congressman forgot that because he is doubling down today, claiming to be shocked, shocked that anybody would take offense at his Christmas card, coming just days after four teenagers were shot to death in the halls of their high school and seven others were wounded.


REP. THOMAS MASSIE (R-KY): Wow. I didn't just kick a hornets nests, I aggravated every hornet in the world. I crossed guns with family and Christmas. And those are things that really trigger the leftist's and I didn't realize that it would be such an explosive cocktail when you put it together. UNKNOWN: Well, let's --

MASSIE: But it's -- it adds up to freedom. I'm going to double down. I'm never going to delete that picture.


LEMON: So, this is, you know, the Second Amendment. We have a Second Amendment and its fine. But this is about optics, it's about empathy, it's about understanding what's happening in the country, what just happened.


That it was a present, reportedly a Christmas present for this young man. And your Christmas card. This is what happens when you care more about owning the libs with your Christmas card than you do about showing any empathy for parents who have to bury their children, for a community traumatized by the latest killing rampage in a place they thought was safe.

Not just a community, but for the entire country who is traumatized by this. For everyone who has been the victim of the scourge of gun violence in this country that is happening as four families in Michigan plan funerals for their children this week. Remember.

Investigators have said he was searching for ammo, according to them, on his phone, at school. And the teacher turned him in for it, called his parents. "Ha, ha, LOL. I'm not mad at you. You just have to learn not to get caught." Ammo.

Now, most of us are not congress people. We don't represent people in districts or speak for people on behalf of people in this country. And we would know better than to send that out or to blast it on social media when this is happening.

It's not rocket science. The parents of the suspected school shooter, caught over the weekend by the way, now being held in the same jail as their son. All three under suicide watch. The prosecutor in the case, defending, charging the parents with involuntary manslaughter and not ruling out charges for the school, as well.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Have you ruled out charging any school officials?

KAREN MCDONALD, OAKLAND COUNTY PROSECUTOR: It's under investigation, so, no. We haven't ruled out charging anyone. Right now we're focused on -- I'm focused on making sure this community knows that our first priority is keeping the community safe and holding the people accountable who could have prevented this.

And right now, the Crumbleys are those two people. None of this should have happened. A 15 and a half-year-old should not be sitting in jail, facing life in prison. These children who were terrorized and killed and shot, none of it should have happened and it could have been prevented.


LEMON: A lot more to come on all of these stories, straight ahead tonight. And up next, our CNN exclusive, a Mike Pence insider now cooperating with the January 6 committee, what he may know about what happened to the former V.P. at the capitol as rioters were looking to hang him.



LEMON: It is time now for our CNN exclusive. A top aide to former Vice President Mike Pence, cooperating with the January 6 committee. Sources are saying that former Pence chief of staff, Marc Short, was subpoenaed just a few weeks ago.

So joining me now, CNN special correspondent, Jamie Gangel, part of the team that broke the story. CNN senior law enforcement analyst and former FBI deputy director, Andrew McCabe, the author of "The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump."

Good evening to both of you. Jamie, here we go with another exclusive. I expect nothing less from you. Marc Short is a key witness in the January 6th insurrection. He was with Pence at the capitol on that day. What our committee members hoping to learn from him?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So, his cooperation, Don, is a significant development because obviously, he's a firsthand witness to the events you just mentioned. He was in the room. He has the receipt. He was with Pence at the capitol. He was also in the Oval Office on January 4th when former President Trump tried to pressure Pence, not to certify the election results.

It is likely that Marc Short will be able to provide key formation about conversations, phone calls, texts. He may have documents what was going on in realtime on January 6th. He may also be able to answer two of the most important questions the committee has. What was Donald Trump doing back at the White House, when the riot was going on? And why did it take him so long to take action to stop it, Don?

LEMON: So, sources are telling you that there is, and I quote here, "significant cooperation," Jamie, between Pence's inner circle and the January 6 committee. Do we know why Pence's team is so willing? They seem so willing to play ball right now?

GANGEL: So, look, we have seen Pence go back and forth since January 6. Sometimes, he seems to try to stay close to Trump, sometimes saying he did the right thing, which he just said recently. It seems his inner circle has decided, they want to cooperate with the committee perhaps because they are still angry at what Trump did.

Hang Mike Pence, I am sure it is still ringing in their ears. Or maybe, politically, they have decided that they need to distance themselves. We know that Pence has indicated he would like to run for president. But I think one thing we know, Don, Short is considered one of Pence's most loyal aides. It is hard to imagine he would be cooperating with the committee without Mike Pence's blessing, Don.

LEMON: All right. Andrew, let me get you in here to respond to Jamie's exclusive.


Short is a firsthand witness to what happened on January 6th. His testimony is critical for the committee. What would you ask him if you are questioning him?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Wow. There is so many good questions I would have for Marc Short. I mean, essentially, Don, you want Marc Short to put you in the room. You want him to go through in detail, who else was in the Oval Office on January 4th? Where was everybody sitting? Who spoke first? Who is making what points? How did you respond to that? How did the vice president respond to it?

And the big question, how did the president of the United States respond? What did he say? What did he try to influence? How did he try to pressure, potentially or influence the vice president in his decision making? What sort of arguments happened on both sides of that conversation?

It's really going to put you there. Let's remember that the committee is not trying to build a trial team and witnesses to convict someone of crime. They are trying to relay a narrative of what actually happened. They need good witnesses who can give them credible verifiable accounts. And they don't need everyone that was in every meeting. They just need one person who can tell them what happened. Marc Short might be the guy.

LEMON: You know, it's a long list of former officials in the Trump administration who have been -- look at your screen there, okay, who have been subpoenaed and many are not cooperating. What does it mean for the investigation that lawmakers are able to get someone this important, who was actually willing to talk, Andrew?

MCCABE: It's a very big deal. It is a big deal because, principally, the formation they could get from Short could be significant. But let's put that aside for a second. It's a big deal, symbolically, right? Any other former member of the administration, adviser to the administration who is on the fence and who maybe has received a subpoena and is thinking about cooperating or assessing the risks of not cooperating.

They see a guy like Marc Short, a big time, you know, esteemed, well known Republican, making the decision to go in league (ph) with the committee and provide testimony to cooperate to honor the lawful subpoena. That is a signal to them that that is something that's acceptable to do. So this could be the kind of thing, you know, the first domino to fall. Someone who sets the example and then brings others along behind him. LEMON: Jamie, Trump and Pence's relationship since January 6, has

looked, you know, very shaky. I mean, right? To say the least. Pence often trying to, you know, have it both ways. This is what he said this summer, here it is to remind people.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: You know, President Trump and I have spoken many times since we left office. And I don't know if we'll ever see eye to eye on that thing. But I will always be proud of what we accomplished for the American people over the last four years.



LEMON: Okay, with the lean in, right?

GANGEL: Right.

LEMON: Yes, yes. It seems kind of forced, right. This cooperation by Pence's team is surely not going to sit well with Trump. He won't be happy about it.

GANGEL: Absolutely not. I mean, Donald Trump's head is probably exploding at this moment tonight. But let's remember, even though Pence -- and we saw it right there, is sort of trying to have it both ways. What we accomplished the last four years. The bridge between Trump and Pence was broken on January 6th when Pence stood up and did the right thing.

And a little history to remember about Marc Short. On January 7th, Trump was so mad at Marc Short, he banned him from the White House because Trump believed Short was responsible in large part for Pence not doing Trump's --

LEMON: That he was in his ear.

GANGEL: Absolutely. Absolutely.

LEMON: So, Andrew, tomorrow there is a hearing for Steve Bannon and we're expecting discussion of a trial date. He has been indicted on two counts of contempt for refusing to testify before the January 6 Committee. He wants this legal battle to play out in a very public way, you know. That's the way now, right? To distract everybody and make a circus out of it and what is it, court of public opinion to try to remediate it, whatever. Is this going to go how the committee wants it to? What do you think is going to happen here?

MCCABE: I mean, I think Bannon is a lost cause for the committee. I think he is -- he clearly has a path here. The greatest upside for him, as you, make his biggest spectacle out of this as he can. That brings him more viewers, more listeners, more donors, whatever he's looking for.

LEMON: Is that what the point is now for these drifters?

MCCABE: Sure, sure. The point is fame.


The point is to be out there to be talked about, to be seen as defending this Trumpist virtual reality of stopping the steal. I mean, that's where guys like Bannon make their money and make their bones. So, he's going to rebel as much as he possibly can. He also wants to delay. He'd love to drag this our far beyond, you know, the midterms and maybe the expiration of the committee itself.

So, I don't expect we'll hear much from this hearing. It will be a scheduling hearing. They will talk about filing preliminary motions. They'll setup briefing schedules for those sorts of things. This is going to drag on for quite a while.

LEMON: Yes. Thank you. Hey, Jamie, real quickly. I saw you shaking your head in agreement with -- he said he's a lost cause -- when he says he's a lost cause.

GANGEL: Absolutely, I actually think he is enjoying this and there is no question this is how he makes his money, Don.

LEMON: Thank you both. I appreciate it. Nice work, Jamie, on the exclusive.

GANGEL: Thank you.

LEMON: We'll see you both soon. Thanks.

GANGEL: Thanks.

LEMON: The Justice Department, suing the state of Texas, alleging Republican redistricting plans discriminate against Black and Latino voters, violating the Voting Rights Act. Stay with us.



LEMON: The Justice Department is taking aim at Texas again. This time, over voting rights. The DOJ filing a lawsuit against the state saying new redistricting plans were specifically designed to have a white majorities and dilute the voting strength of minorities. Here to discuss, CNN senior justice correspondent Mr. Evan Perez and former Justice Department spokesperson, Xochitl Hinojosa. Good to have both of you on. Evan, did say -- Evan wants me to call him Evan Perez instead of Evan Perez.


LEMON: Good to see both of you. Evan, walk us through what the DOJ is alleging and how they say it violates the Voting Rights Act.

PEREZ: Well, they say that according to this lawsuit that was filed today, Don, they say that this is -- the redistricting that the Republican legislators and the governor just put in place in Texas violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and they cite one specific example.

For instance, they say that Texas added about 4 million people between 2010 and 2020 -- 95 percent of the population growth was from Hispanic and other minorities. And two, Texas gained two congressional districts. Both of those new districts were drawn with majority white voters.

And this, according to the Justice Department, affected Harris County of course, which is in the Houston area, a big area of growth. And they say, specifically, what Republicans were trying to do, was dilute the voting power of Hispanics and other minorities, African-Americans, and other minorities in Texas.

LEMON: But just to be clear, though, it was only last month that the DOJ challenged the Texas -- a different Texas voting law.

PEREZ: Right. This is the second lawsuit, voting rights related lawsuit, against Texas. The last one had to do with voting restrictions, which of course were influenced by the big lie, which is, you know, the whole idea that there was vote fraud, even though obviously, Trump won Texas. They still passed some new restrictions that affected people who were disabled and others, their access to voting.

LEMON: Okay. Sochi, listen, welcome to the program. I'm going to put something up because you know the state well. So, take a look at Dallas Fort Worth area of this map, this district 6, outlined in red. The previous version of the district was already gerrymandered, but, I mean, look at the 2021 version of this map.

The Justice Department described the new appendage of district 6 there. It's in orange, shaped like a sea horse. What's the impact of this kind of gerrymandering?

XOCHITL HINOJOSA, FORMER JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: Well, absolutely. The Justice Department is very clear, as Evan said, that the population growth was about 95percent minority population. And whenever you draw the lines that reflect all -- no minority population. And whenever you draw the lines that reflects all -- or puts no

minority population, then that's a problem.

And we've seen this at the Justice Department before. We -- back 10 years ago, whenever Texas had to submit their maps for pre-clearance, when we had the full Voting Rights Act, the Justice Department said this doesn't past the smell test.

They continue to discriminate against Latino and African-American voters. So, we've been here before. This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. The difference now is that the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act. We don't have pre-clearance anymore. And therefore, the Justice Department has to proactively file a lawsuit to stop these maps. And so, what you're seeing here from the Justice Department is a strong case from Merrick Garland basically saying, we're not going to stand for this. He's already challenged the previous -- their previous voting law. And now, he is saying that this doesn't pass muster.

But I think it's important to know, over the last, you know, decade or so, Republicans have tried to make inroads with Latino voters in Texas, but the reality is, as you're seeing right now and especially in places like Harris County where there was a huge minority population. Huge growth.


And yet, we didn't add any seat that reflected that growth. You're seeing Republicans trying to silence minority voters. And they continue to try to do that. So, it will be an interesting story heading into the midterms, and for sure, ahead of the presidential election.

LEMON: Well, Xochitl, we have been talking -- we're missing just a little bit here, but what's happening in Texas and you mentioned like it doesn't include any minorities because of political (inaudible) in Texas have been improving for Democrats so Republicans are passing these restrictive measures, trying to suppress the vote, and now re- drawing these districts.

Is this the kind of ground war that Democrats are going to have to fight in these battleground states all over the country now?

HINOJOSA: Well, you are seeing that. Republicans know that they don't have the Voting Rights Act, the full Voting Rights Act. So, they don't have to seek pre-clearance from the Justice Department. So, they will draw other maps and they will -- and it will be up to the Justice Department to challenge those.

What's good about what we're seeing today is that Attorney General Garland is going to be aggressive and he has said so already, when we are protecting the rights of Americans. Now, you saw Texans earlier this summer go to Washington D.C. and make their case for the Voting Rights Act. They are in the minority.

They went to Congress and to the vice president and the president and told them, listen, we are trying to hold the line here when it comes to voting rights here in Texas. But there's only so much we can do. That is why we need national legislation. We need to restore the Voting Rights Act. And this is just case in point, right?

This is an example where the Justice Department, yes, was aggressive and was able to challenge it. Well, you know, wow, what's going to happen in the courts? We're not sure, right. And so, if we had the full Voting Rights Act, then this wouldn't happen in the first place. And Attorney General Garland was very clear about that.

He not only filed a lawsuit today, but in this press conference, he said, I want to make it very clear, if we had the full Voting Rights Act, I wouldn't have to file this lawsuit here today because they would have the opportunity to review, to talk about the impact, of these redistricting maps, and then decide whether they are going to pre-clear it.

LEMON: Well, the --

HINOJOSA: So you're seeing a strong signal from the administration saying that they want to restore it.

LEMON: Well, Evan, I'm just wondering. They don't have much time, Evan Perez, to actually -- before the midterms, right, and before the 2024 election. So, you know, if indeed the attorney general, Merrick Garland, is going to do what he said he's going to do, they better get going.

PEREZ: Yes. Look, I think we expect that there is going to be additional lawsuits. They've already filed statements of interest in Florida and Arizona, where there are similar lawsuits filed by private parties. But Don, I think you can expect that, you know, there are other states that have done similar maps that are, frankly, just, you know, just extreme gerrymandering cases.

LEMON: Well, they've been doing it for years, but as Xochitl pointed out --

PEREZ: They've been doing it for years, right.

LEMON: -- they don't have that, right. There is that restriction that they don't have.

PEREZ: Right. It changes the, right. The fact that there is no voting right on Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, means that the burden of proof is on the Justice Department to try to stop this after the fact.

LEMON: Hey, Xochitl, let me ask you this because back in 2020, it's an interesting question. I want to see how you're going to answer because the former President Trump actually won 41 percent of the Latino vote in that state. I mean, that's a lot. That's a sizable number. Are Texas Republicans shooting themselves in the foot targeting Latinos who might even support them?

HINOJOSA: Well, I think that the Latino community in Texas wants to hear from Democrats. And we've invested in places like Florida and Arizona and Nevada rightfully so. Democrats won the election and were able to flip a state like Arizona.

But in Texas, it takes a lot of money to flip a state like Texas. And you have to make investments in the community. And that means also combatting disinformation. And we continue to see that in south Texas and (inaudible) from.

And so I think that if Democrats want to make inroads and actually flip Texas from red to blue, then they need candidates like Beto O'Rourke who are not only going to excite the base, but they're actually going to make him raise the money and make the investment in the state in order to do that.

LEMON: All right. Xochitl Hinijosa, Evan Perez, thank you both. We'll see you soon.

PEREZ: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: Thank you. The Oxford school shooter and his parents are all being held in the same jail right now. And prosecutors aren't ruling out charging more people. Michigan's attorney general weighs in, next.



LEMON: Tonight, police in Michigan searching for the home of the man -- searching the home of the man who allegedly helped the parents of Ethan Crumbley before they were arrested on Saturday. Police say that the man has been cooperative and has not been charged with a crime.

Fifteen year old Crumbley is charged with murdering four classmates at his high school. His parents charged with involuntary manslaughter. Lot to discuss with Dana Nessel. She's a Michigan attorney general. Thank you Attorney General for joining us. I really appreciate it. And I'm so sorry for what's happening in your community.


LEMON: The Crumbley family is being held in the same jail. They're being monitored under suicide watch. I know that you are not the prosecutor in charge, but what do you think about their actions?

NESSEL: Well, obviously, each of them has very serious charges that have been levied against them by the Oakland County prosecutor. And, you know, this has been an incredibly tragic set of circumstances. But, you know, one of the things that we did in our department and as we had heard that the Oxford School District had indicated that they wanted a third party to review the policies and protocols that were in place and really, the events leading up to the acts of November 30th and what happened during the course of the event.


So, I offered the services of my department because I thought, what better agency to conduct such a review than the Michigan Department of Attorney General. And we learned just a short while ago that the school district has turned down our offer. And they said that they are going to go with a private security firm instead to conduct an internal review so --

LEMON: What do you think of that?

NESSEL: I'm disappointed, quite honestly. And obviously, we hope that the school district cares as much about the safety of their students and (inaudible) you shielding themselves from civil liability. But the criminal investigation is ongoing by the sheriff's department, by the Oakland County Prosecutors Office.

We are going to continue to work with them to assist and support them in any way that we possibly can. And so, if there are criminal charges, I am sure that those will be levied and even if there is more evidence that emerges.

And we are going to talk to the community. We're going to talk to the parents and the students and ask for -- and see what it is that they want to see happen. And I'm sure they're going to make their feelings known about the rejection of our offer.

LEMON: So, attorney general, it's not a done deal, but the prosecutor has said that she is not ruling out any charges for school officials. She said that the school had legal grounds to search his backpack and his locker, which they didn't do. Do you think that the school dropped the ball? Do they have legal responsibility here?

NESSEL: Well, first of all, let me say, you know, I've been made aware of the fact that teachers all over the state have been getting death threats today as a result of people being upset about what they perceive to be the actions or non-actions that occurred in Oxford on November 30th.

So, that's absolutely an egregious set of circumstances and, you know, there was a teacher that was shot during the course of this incident. Our educators protect us and protect our kids in schools every day. But were there mistakes that were made in Oxford during the course of this event? Well, I think that's part of what the investigation will discover. But again, they are looking for criminal liability.

The offer that we made would have extended to, you know, the protocols and policies not just so that we could make sure that the kids in Oxford are safe in the future, but so that we can ensure that those policies are put in place all over the state of Michigan so that each and every school district can be better protected.

LEMON: Let me ask you again, about -- this is your involvement, but it's something that you've offered the Oakland County Prosecutors Office to help. How are you assisting? And then, you know, because they've turned down your offer for one thing, but do you plan to get further involved in any way even that they turned down your offer on one thing?

NESSEL: Well, I think we're going to have to see where these (inaudible) conversations go. But, again, you know, we have been consulting with the Oakland County Prosecutors Office. We've been lending appellant research and memos and consulting with them in regard to the charges.

I think that Prosecutor McDonald is doing a phenomenal job with a very, very difficult case. So, I'll consider continue to support her as she moves forward in this investigation and we'll see where things go.

But, again, if the school district is really looking for transparency, and they are really looking to ensure that everything that they did and everything they continue to do results in the most security for their students, which is something that people are greatly concerned about right now, then I would hope that they would want to cooperate with an investigation by the state.

LEMON: Attorney General, thank you so much. I appreciate your time.

NESSEL: Thanks for having me.

LEMON: He was kidnapped, beaten, and killed. And take this, another investigation into the murder of Emmett Till closes today. More after this.



LEMON: So, take this. The Justice Department is closing its investigation to the murder of Emmett Till again. Emmett Till, the 14 year-old who was kidnapped, beaten, and killed back in 1955 after a white women accused him of whistling at her and making sexual advances. It is a lynching that showed people what it was really like to be black in the Jim Crow south, helping spark the civil rights movement as a matter of fact.

Two men were charged and acquitted of the murder at the time by an all-white jury. Those men later admitted to killing in a magazine interview and are now dead. The Justice Department had already re- examine the case once and concluded in 2007 that no one could be prosecuted at the federal level based at the evidence available and the statute of limitations had long since run out.

Then came, a new piece of evidence. Professor Timothy Tyson came out, in 2017, with a book claiming at the woman at the center of it all recanted her claim that Emmett Till made sexual advances towards her. He says that Caroline Bryant Donham told him this in a 2008 interview.

But the interview wasn't recorded. It was transcribed. And when federal investigators once again spoke with Donham, she denied it all. CNN reached out to Professor Tyson for comment. He provided a lengthy statement standing by his story. But the whole thing just leaves more questions for the family of Emmett Till.



WHEELER PARKER, JR., EMMETT TILL'S COUSIN: Whatever we do, we can't bring him back. We can carry on and let America know we need to know the truth and that's what we look for. Through his death, we can see how far we've come and how much work we still have to do.

OLLIE GORDON, EMMETT TILL'S COUSIN: Even though we don't feel that we got justice, we still must move forward so that these particular hate crimes will not continue to be done and know justice is found. For with that, let's move forward and let's look at the future and let's figure out how we can continue to make a change.


LEMON: In 1955 until now. Next, a top aide's cooperating, a former V.P. Pence's chief of staff is talking to the committee investigating January 6th.


LEMON: President Biden engaging in high stakes international diplomacy, holding a critical call tomorrow with Russian president, Vladimir Putin.


As U.S. intelligence says Russia is preparing to invade Ukraine.