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Don Lemon Tonight

Big Races In Tuesday's Primary Elections; Is Elon Musk Backing Out Of Twitter Deal?; Missouri Bill Bars Pharmacists From Questioning Ivermectin Effectiveness; Putin's War In Ukraine; Judge Signals End To Federal Oversight Of Oakland Police Department. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired May 13, 2022 - 23:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is DON LEMON TONIGHT. Primary election season heating up. Voters in five states going to the polls on Tuesday. We're going to look at the big races for you.

Major shifts in the battlefield in Eastern Ukraine and President Zelenskyy saying Russia is taking heavy losses.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translator): Russia has lost almost 27,000 soldiers, many of them young conscripts. Russia has lost more than 3,000 tanks, armored combat vehicles, a large number of conventional military vehicles, helicopters, drones and all of its prospects as a state.


LEMON: CNN cannot confirm those numbers.

And big news in the tech world. Elon Musk says he is putting his $44 billion deal to buy Twitter on hold.

I want to get right now to CNN's Tom Foreman with the look at the key primary races just days away. Tom, what can we expect?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Don. Five states to keep an eye on Tuesday, and we're going to start in the wild, wild east because Pennsylvania really is wild. Republicans thought that this race for the open Senate seat there was going to come down to Mehmet Oz, Dr. Oz, endorsed by Donald Trump, and David McCormick, the hedge fund guy. They thought this was the race, that's it, these two will duke it out, we will see who wins.

But then, Kathy Barnette comes cruising in here. Kathy Barnette is a conservative commentator, activist kind of person who completely embraces the big lie that Donald Trump won. She has also said some alarming things for many conservatives about Muslims and about gays, things that are extremist even for people who might embrace some version of those views. The bottom line, though, she has really upset the balance of the whole thing there. If you look at the polls, Oz has dropped a little bit in numbers and McCormick has dropped a little bit. But look at Barnette, from 9% to 19%, and this is now a statistical tie. Really interesting to see who comes out of that. And in doing so, how much they drag the party to the right, which could be a challenge for the general election.

The democratic side, similar sort of question there. In this case, the question is, how far left might they go? John Fetterman, lieutenant governor, hugely popular up there with blue color voters, also unabashedly progressive. The question is, did they wind up further left to win the voters and do a lot of people wind up in the middle, saying, I don't want the far right, I don't want the far left?

The governor's matchup, there is nobody on the republican side who hasn't embraced the idea that election security is a big issue that has to be tackled, has to be tackled now despite no evidence that there is a problem with their election security. Whoever comes out of this will run against the attorney general who fought in court against a lot of these spurious claims.

In Idaho, the governor matchup has the governor, the incumbent, at war with his own lieutenant governor who has been endorsed by Donald Trump for her very conservative stances. We will see how that shakes out.

In Oregon, the question is, out of a lot of Democrats, who will win on Tuesday night because they haven't elected a Republican in the general election since the 1980s. So, whoever wins that probably moves on.

And then, and then, North Carolina, we have to talk about the town there, the race involving Madison Cawthorn, the youngest member of Congress who has been in all sorts of hot water in the news lately.


There were videos that were leaked. There was this podcast where he talked about being invited to orgies with drugs in Washington where he has had run-ins with the police. I mean, all sorts of issues with him so much so that his own party has shown a lot of concern about where he will wind up in this election.

Bottom line, two things to watch for: The influence of Donald Trump --

LEMON: Uh-hmm.

FOREMAN: -- Tuesday night. Do his candidates really come through? And secondly, how far right particularly does the Republican Party have to go, and then how can they claw back toward the middle when they need those middle voters in November? Don?

LEMON: Great information. Tom Foreman, thank you so much.

I want to bring in now CNN chief congressional correspondent Manu Raju and senior staff writer for "Politico," Michael Kruse. Good to see both of you. Good evening, gentlemen. Manu, you're up first. So, you just heard Tom. He laid it out, all these key races coming up on Tuesday, including Congressman Madison Cawthorn in North Carolina. You have some reporting on how Republicans are looking to marginalize him if he wins. So, give us the latest on that.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I mean, look, this is something that is very rare. I mean, I've covered Washington for the past two decades and I have not seen a party turn against a sitting member of Congress the way they have so quickly with Madison Cawthorn because of all of the different antics that the 26-year-old has done in his very short time in Congress, everything from calling President Zelenskyy of Ukraine a thug to getting -- bringing a firearm trying to -- in an airplane to driving with a revoked firearm license to talking about alleged cocaine and/or orgy parties with member of Congress that clearly wasn't true that caused a number of members, Republican members, to rebel against him.

Two sitting Republican senators both are opposed to his bid, Thom Tillis and Richard Burr. Thom Tillis is actively working to defeat him right now. The nine Republicans -- the total congressional delegation in North Carolina, we talked to all of them. None of them would offer any support whatsoever to Madison Cawthorn.

And in our reporting with my colleagues, Alex Rodgers (ph) and Melanie Sinona (ph), we found that there was widespread frustration with him not just among the more establishment members of the caucus, the conference, but also some of the more Trump-aligned members as well. Some of them slightly warning that if he does take some more embarrassing things, gets in more trouble with the law, there will be growing cause to boot him from the conference altogether.

One big issue, too, Don, if he does win reelection in this primary come Tuesday and ultimately wins in November is, what will that mean for his committee assignments going forward? One thing we did hear is that there is a feeling that he will not get some of the more prized committee assignments, something that all members of Congress ultimately want but something that they would say can get -- they can lose if they get on the wrong side of the leadership.

So, a lot of issues for him going forward. So, even if he does survive, he still would certainly be a pariah within the conference unless he changed his ways.

LEMON: I got to say -- listen, this happened with Marjorie Taylor Greene and, you know, Matt Gaetz and others, and it doesn't seem like that really cares, the committee assignments. They just like the attention and the clicks and, you know, to be able to get on conservative media and say, you know, and own the libs or what have you, and then members of their own party, right, the rhinos.

Listen, I'm holding up your piece, Michael, because you take a deep dive into Cawthorn's story. It's a political piece and it is titled, "He's Not OK: The Entirely Predictable Unraveling of Madison Cawthorn." And you spoke to more than 70 people who know the congressman. How do they explain what is going on with him?

MICHAEL KRUSE, SENIOR STAFF WRITER, POLITICO: Lost in the litany of antics that we just reheard is the fact that he is a human being. He is 26 years old. Based on my reporting, largely considered to be quite immature 26-year-old, and a 26-year-old who eight years ago had a devastating life-altering traumatic accident that left him paraplegic. And from what my reporting indicates, he's still dealing with ongoing trauma. It's understandable. He still struggles physically from a pain standpoint and the pain goes well beyond even just the physical pain.

So, my effort here was to try to answer why we are seeing some of these behaviors. What has been a pattern of behavior that has been building really throughout his time as a member of Congress dating back to January of 2021 but is certainly escalating and accelerating and intensifying here just in the last few months or even the last couple weeks as we head closer toward the primary on Tuesday?


LEMON: Is there a point, though, where he crossed the line for you? Is there something that stands out, a moment that stands out for you? Because at first, it was -- it seemed in the beginning that it was -- listen, he was very conservative, MAGA and all of that, but then it just really all changed.

KRUSE: So, I mean, I think the increased traffic, transgressions, the reckless driving, the speeding and not just speeding a little bit but going, you know, upper 80s in the 65 and 70-mile-per-hour zone, second instance of bringing a gun, this time loaded, to the airport in Charlotte, just sort of an increasingly reckless level and even self- destructive sort of behavior that we are seeing.

And frankly, this is what has made him vulnerable. He is different from Matt Gaetz and from Marjorie Taylor Greene. They are not electorally or politically even vulnerable in this primary season. And Madison Cawthorn could lose. He could win. He needs to get -- shouldn't be a problem for an incumbent in say republican district, but it's not guaranteed. And if he doesn't get the 30%, if he finishes in the top two, this in a runoff, I don't know how that would go for him.

And if he even gets through this primary, it's not inconceivable that he could lose in the general, particularly if this kind of behavior continues. And certainly, he has many, many enemies. It's not just in Washington. It started much earlier from the get-go in Henderson County, North Carolina, his own home territory, almost immediately started making enemies out of people who had helped him get elected.

So, this has gone out of chain from Hendersonville to Raleigh to Washington. And I think he is just for many, many people in all of those places got into a point where he is not worth the trouble. They can find a conservative MAGA sort who could hold that seat who's not at the level of trouble, not the source of consternation he's been for so many people many times.

LEMON: Manu, listen, I'm going to wrap this up here, but he's just one of multiple far-right candidates in these upcoming primaries, right? You've got Kathy Barnette in Pennsylvania. As Tom Foreman mentioned earlier, she has a history of straight-up bigotry. Latest polling shows that she could win on Tuesday. Are Republicans worried about what this could mean come November?

RAJU: Yeah, no question about it. There is a real fear. Pennsylvania is central to the fight for control of the United States Senate. If the Democrats pick up the seat, that's a republican House seat, Pat Toomey is retiring, they're able to pick that seat up, there's a very good chance that they can manage to cling on to the majority in the Senate where they are likely to move the House. This could be something of a coup for them.

And there is a fear among top Republicans in Washington that Kathy Barnette, if she wins, could be the kind of vulnerable candidate that (INAUDIBLE) them in the general election, something we've seen in election cycles pass from 2010 to 2012 and beyond, and perhaps that could essentially haunt them this time around.

The other side of the equation here, though, Don, people said the same thing about Donald Trump in 2016. Concerned he was unvetted, concerned that he would implode in the general elections. So, it is really -- you can't really definitively say how a candidate like this will turn out.

But this is essential moment for Trump, too, as he heads into a key moment of the primary season where he endorsed candidates from Georgia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina. Do they pan out? Does he win? Does he end up on the losing side? It is a flip of the coin in some of these races at the moment.

LEMON: All right. Thank you, Michael. Thank you, Manu. I appreciate it.

Be sure to tune in to election night in America as results pour in for the primaries. Our special live coverage is going to start Tuesday, 7 p.m., and I'll be here, guess what? At midnight. Who knows? Maybe they won't be decided by then, so we will get some breaking news in the midnight hours, as they say. So, make sure you tune in.

I want to get to some new video. This is just in to CNN. So, close attention to this. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas speaking out about the explosive leak of a draft opinion overturning -- that could overturn Roe v. Wade. So, here's how he responded to a question about justices with deep ideological differences getting along on the court. Here it is.


CLARENCE THOMAS, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE U.S. SUPREME COURT: You know, I just think that anybody who, for example, have an attitude to leak document, that general attitude is your future on the bench. And you need to be concerned about that. And we never had that before. We actually trusted.

It was -- we may have been a dysfunctional family, but we were a family. And we loved it. I mean, you trusted each other. You laugh together. You went to lunch together every day. And I can only hope you can keep it. So, it was Ben Franklin that said, yes, we gave you republic, if you can keep it.


THOMAS: And I think you have a court, and I hope you can keep it.


LEMON: There is a whole lot in there. A whole lot of other questions that he could've answered, too, as well about what's happening on the court and what that actual document means and what's going to happen in the coming days and weeks as they decide on this thing.

Just last week, Justice Thomas reiterated that he believes Supreme Court justices are obligated to take a fresh look at established precedent. So, make sure you stay tuned. We'll keep following.

Next, what the heck is going on with Elon Musk? Hmm. First, he says that he's buying Twitter. Now, he says the deal is on hold over fake accounts. Did he ever really want to buy this company or is he just trolling? Which would be in line with Twitter? You know who can answer that? Kara Swisher, after the break.




LEMON: Deal or no deal? Elon Musk saying that he is putting his deal to buy Twitter temporarily on hold. It was only a few weeks ago that he agreed to take the company private in a $44 billion-dollar deal.

Let's discuss now with Kara Swisher, "The New York Times" opinion contributing writer, who is the host of the podcast "Sway." By the way, I love podcasts. I love being on. Thank you, Kara. Good to see you.


LEMON: I'm doing pretty well. Thank you for asking. Twitter deal temporarily on hold, pending details, supporting calculation that spam, fake accounts - do indeed --


LEMON: -- represent less than 5% of users.

And then just minutes ago, he tweeted this. To find out, my team will do a random sample of 100 followers of Twitter.


LEMON: I invite others to repeat the same process and see what they discover.

Now, he says he still committed. But, I mean, is he trying to back out? Was he trolling everyone all along? Is this a negotiating tactic? What is he doing?

SWISHER: I think the price is too high now given the tech fallout from the tech stocks that are taking a beating this past two weeks, really, the past week especially, including Tesla, which is where his, you know, his financing this from.

And so, it was down 30%. Now, it's up today when he said he was temporarily putting it hold. It was up quite a bit. I think it's really expensive now because Twitter -- I pointed this out on Monday -- Twitter would have fallen into this trench where all the other tech companies are. Snapchat doing very well. Airbnb doing very well. Still dropping.

And Twitter has not dropped because of this 54-20 price that Elon has on the company. But it would be down much lower, in the 20s possibly. And so, he is essentially paying double what it probably its worth right now and it's just being held up by this price. So, wants to reprice it. And so, he's using all kinds of tactics to do that. And I'm sure he's talking behind the scenes about repricing it.

LEMON: Yeah. Listen, in full transparency, I sat next to you at the White House Correspondents' Dinner and you're explaining to me the whole -- how this works --

SWISHER: Not at the dinner. I didn't go to the dinner.

LEMON: Yes, but we were -- we had dinner together. Let's put it this way.


LEMON: But not at the --


LEMON: And you were explaining to me what you thought about it. It made sense. I learned so much about it. But there has been -- as I said, I was like, I don't know, this does not make sense. Why is he doing it? There has been so much skepticism that this deal would actually happen from the start, but Elon Musk would owe Twitter --


LEMON: -- 1$ billion breakup fee, right, Kara, if he were to cancel this deal. It's really on the hook for that or is there a way out of this like $1 billion cancellation fee, so to speak?

SWISHER: Well, if you look at the history of Elon Musk, he has gotten out of a lot of scrapes like this. Legal scrapes with the FCC and everyone else. He probably thinks he can find a way out of it if he wants out of it. I think he could also pay the billion-dollar breakup fee and then come back with Twitter's stock is low and then offer a smaller amount. He can try to offer smaller amount. I think he does want to own this company. I absolutely do.

LEMON: You do?

SWISHER: He is correct about the bot. Yes, I do. I do. Everyone thinks he is trying to worm his way out of it. I don't. I think he wants a lower price. I think he wants to walk away the price creators, which it should because of every other tech company and it has worse results than any other tech company, you know, in that group.

He wants to stock to crater, which it deserves to, as I said. And then he will come back. As someone who knows him well said, then he will look like a hero for buying it when it's really in distress.

Again, it is not worth what he is saying it is worth. He offered too much money. And so, he wants to take that back before he has to hand it over. And so, he's finding ways to do that, including through these bots, which he knows very well given, you know, there's a lot of Tesla bots, that there is more than 5%. There are a lot of bots on Twitter. That's one of its big problems.

LEMON: I read something today that, you know, there was hole at this bot clause but he did not really read it and didn't care about it. Now, at this moment --


LEMON: -- it's something to care about. I am correct to that?

SWISHER: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I think one of things he said, he needed to do due diligence, which, you know, anything such as the house. You need to do due diligence if you find out there's no -- whatever.

There might not be a furnace in the basement here. Maybe he is trying to find some reason to pull back. But I think, definitely, he is trying to reprice it. And so, if he is going to buy it, it's going to go for a lot --

LEMON: When do you think we'll know?

SWISHER: I don't know when we know. I mean, I think the Twitter board has to think about what it wants to do now. And Twitter shareholders are not going to be very happy with it. But I'll tell, Tesla shareholders are thrilled today because the stock rose up and no other tech stock is going up like that. So, we will see.

LEMON: Kara --

SWISHER: We'll see. He wants to buy this company. You'll see. We'll see.

LEMON: All right. Do you know --

SWISHER: I was joking.


SWISHER: I joked that Elon Musk has jazz hands. And that's what you're watching, jazz hands.


LEMON: I learned a lot. Thank you, Kara. Please come back. Have a great weekend.

SWISHER: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: See you soon.

SWISHER: You, too.

LEMON: A bill passed in the Missouri legislature based on junk science is about to make pharmacists lives a whole lot more difficult. We're going to tell you what it is all about. You don't want to miss it. That's next.




LEMON: All right. You got to pay attention to this next story. The Missouri legislature passing a bill this week that would prohibit pharmacists from questioning doctors who prescribed ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine for human use. That despite study after study showing that neither drug is effective in treating or preventing COVID-19. Neither one of them.

Joining me now is CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner to help us get through this. Doctor, thank you so.

So, I want to read -- good evening to you, by the way. I just want to read the key part of the bill. Okay? A pharmacist shall not contact the prescribing physician or the patient to dispute the efficacy of ivermectin tablets or hydroxychloroquine sulfate tablets for human use unless the physician or patient inquires of the pharmacist about the efficacy of the drugs. What? What? Explain this to me.


LEMON: What is this?

REINER: Yeah. First of all, that is the pharmacist's job. Pharmacists are not just folks who pour pills into bottles. They are trained in pharmacology, how drugs work in drug interactions. So, you know, how drugs mix. And also, inside effects of drugs. And it is part of the professional duties of pharmacists all around this country to educate patients in how the drugs work, how to take them, and what to expect. So, what that bill would do would basically get pharmacists, prevent them some performing the essential duties of their job. I'm not a lawyer, but it seems like maybe there is some First Amendment problems with that as well.

I would love for ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine to work. They just don't. We know this from clinical trials. As recently as a month ago in New England journal, a large study out of Brazil shows that ivermectin just does not work. And if pharmacists question the efficacy or the prescription for a patient, they should be absolutely permitted to talk to folks.

LEMON: Listen, I read the study and I saw that when it came out. You know, we had the war going and what have you. I was hoping that it would be a bigger story but it kind of got buried, right? But I mean --

REINER: Right.

LEMON: -- this is not effective at all. Ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine. not effective. And now, they're trying to gag pharmacists. This is really unbelievable.

Dr. Reiner, Missouri Governor Mike Parson's office tells CNN the bill will go through a thorough review when asked if he would sign it. Governor Parson is a Republican. What would be the responsible thing to do from a public health perspective?

REINER: Well, obviously, this is a bill that interferes with the essential functioning of our health care system. He should not sign this bill. No pharmacist in the state should obey it, frankly. The stubborn thing about science is that it's true regardless whether you believe it or not.

And what the facts show is that both of those drugs are ineffective in preventing the severe consequences of folks with COVID. And even though physicians may prescribe it and patients may take it, the drugs do not work. And if they are prescribed, it is very reasonable for pharmacists to question why they are being prescribed to a patient.

LEMON: Yeah. One, as we know, the most common use is an animal, a horse de-wormer, which is ivermectin, correct?

REINER: Right. Yeah.

LEMON: Listen, it is confusing. It's a confusing situation, doctor, because it speaks to the limits Republicans are trying to put on speech in certain circumstances. But not others. They're, like, listen, we want free speech, we want free speech, people should be allowed to say what they say, what they want to say. But now, you said, this appears to be a First Amendment issue to you. I mean, it's confusing. What is it? What is going on?

REINER: We have politicized medicine and we have politicized science. I never thought we would be in the situation in the United States where things as simple as masks or vaccines would become basically political (INAUDIBLE).

And right now, people have staked their careers on the efficacy of the drugs that don't work. We've seen this throughout the Midwest and the south, particularly with drugs like ivermectin, which has a role in treating parasitic disease. It just doesn't work for COVID. And drugs like hydroxychloroquine, which work for certain rheumatologic diseases but unfortunately don't work for COVID.


And it's become basically a political brand. If you believe in ivermectin, then you're a conservative. If you don't believe in ivermectin, you must not be a conservative.

The truth of the matter is the drugs just don't work and we need to let physicians and pharmacists and health care professionals do their job, keep politics out of it.

LEMON: And also, I mean, topically, I think ivermectin works for rosacea or something. It is used to treat rosacea. You're the doctor. Am I correct with that?

REINER: Right.

LEMON: Yeah. Okay. Thank you for coming on. I really appreciate it, doctor. I'll see you soon.

REINER: Have a great weekend.

LEMON: You, too.

Russian forces are advancing in the east of Ukraine, even as they retreat from Kharkiv, the Kharkiv region. We're going to go to the magic wall and show you what's up, next.




LEMON: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy saying 27,000 Russian soldiers have been killed since Vladimir Putin invaded his country. That as Ukraine claims new video shows a Russian battalion was destroyed trying to cross a series of bridges in Northeast Ukraine.

I want to bring in CNN military analyst and retired U.S. Air Force Colonial Cedric Leighton. Good evening, sir.


LEMON: So, the fight where the Ukrainians have blown up these pontoon bridges, their goal is to stop Russia from crossing the They wanted to prevent them from crossing the Donets River. Can the Ukrainians do that? LEIGHTON: They can, Don, actually. Look at what happened here. This is really interesting because you see the bridge, of course, is totally destroyed at this part of the river. But look here at these tanks (ph) right here. There is one here. There is one right here. They are blown up. They are completely gone. It the jack in the box syndrome that we talked about before.

That thing has shown exactly how this could actually be part of a broader strategy that the Ukrainians have because what they're doing is they're cutting off the Russians for every single thing that they've got. They are also taking out things on the side, all these trucks, all these different areas and you still see some smoke up this way.

So, yes, the Ukrainians can do this and they can do it quite well.

LEMON: So, before we get to more specifics, can you take a big picture look at how the Ukrainians are doing in their defense? Do they have the momentum to push back Russia?

LEIGHTON: So, that's going to be a mixed answer, Don. Here, they did a great job around Kyiv. They took the Russians out of this area right here. This is the area where they're going to have some trouble. Now, in Kharkiv, they're having success.

But then you look at everything that's going on in this area and, of course, in the south down here. These areas are going to be a challenge because the Russians are moving down this way. They're taking all of these areas down here and they will probably move up this way from the south to the north. So, once they take care of Mariupol.

So, with all of these different areas, we believe that the Russians are going to have some momentum in the east, but that doesn't mean they'll be able to do anything with Kharkiv and it doesn't mean they will be able to do anything over in the southwest.

LEMON: I want you to take a look at these satellite images from the Kharkiv region that show Russia blowing up critical bridges in their retreat. What does this tell you about their current strategy, sir?

LEIGHTON: So, in this particular case, what you're seeing is, like this bridge right here, is a really neat cut that they made in this bridge. So, they knew what they were doing. They deliberately cut this bridge right in half.

The next bridge is a little bit different. It looks a little bit sloppier to us looking at it from a satellite view. But nonetheless, it has the same effect. It cuts off the path right here and the Ukrainians are going to have to find a work around.

The Russian strategy is to force the Ukrainians into a kind of a holding pattern. And when they do that, what they're doing is they're keeping the Ukrainians at bay as much as they can and they're protecting their supply lines, the Russians are, at this point.

LEMON: So, colonel, even though Russia is retreating in Kharkiv region, Russian forces are making gains in the east near the Luhansk region. What can you tell us about their current assault there?

LEIGHTON: So, this is going to be really interesting because when you look at what they're doing in Kharkiv, you see that the Ukrainians have actually gained territory in this area. This is the line basically that the Ukrainians have, this would be the Russians. They're also touching the border with Russia itself right there. So, the Ukrainians are doing really, really well there.

But when you look down here at this area in the Luhansk region, what you're seeing is there is only this small area of territory that belongs to Ukraine right now in that province, the oblasts, as the Ukrainians call it, and that is the only part that is under Ukrainian control right now.

So, Luhansk is almost gone from the Ukrainian standpoint. The Russians will probably take that province in the not-too-distant future. But the Ukrainians still have a big chance to prevent the Russians from gaining ground in these areas if they're careful and if they prevent their forces from being surrounded.

LEMON: All right. Colonel, thank you very much. Have a good weekend.

LEIGHTON: You, too, Don.

LEMON: So, why is Vladimir Putin trying to destroy Ukraine? Can he be stopped? Join Fareed Zakaria as he looks to experts to answer for those questions for you. "Inside the Mind of Vladimir Putin" begins Sunday night at 8:00 p.m.


The Oakland Police Department has been under federal oversight since the early 2000, accused of racial discrimination, beatings, kidnappings, planting evidence. But that federal oversight could be gone soon, and we're going to tell you why. That's next.




LEMON: Federal oversight of Oakland, California's embattled police department may soon be over. Back in 2003, federal authorities stepped in following allegations of misconduct by anti-gang unit, accused of planting evidence and beating up suspects.

Well, the city paid out more than $10 million to more than 100 plaintiffs. No accused officers were ever convicted, but fled prosecution end is still on the run. Now, after nearly two decades, a judge says Oakland police have reached substantial compliance with reforms. But as CNN's Josh Campbell reports, many residents are skeptical. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a notorious time for the Oakland Police Department. Officers in the early 2000 accused of racial discrimination, beatings, kidnappings, planting evidence. Victims filed a lawsuit.

JOHN BURRIS, PLAINTIFF'S ATTORNEY: It was rotten to the core in many areas, largely because officers were not held accountable, and that the leadership turned a blind eye to a lot of these things.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): As part of eventual $10 million settlement, the department was placed under federal oversight, mandating more than 50 reforms, including officer discipline, training, field supervision, incident reporting, and more.

(On camera): Do you feel today, like, if you saw something happening that shouldn't be happening, that you would be able to speak up?


CAMPBELL (voice-over): Officers like Mia Cooper, new to the force, are now training that silence is not an option.

COOPER: Stand up and say something, you know.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): After nearly 20 years of federal supervision, a judge now says that oversight will end next year if the department can stay the course.

CAMPBELL (on camera): Are you confident that Oakland police today, this reformed department, has the trust of the community that you're sworn to protect?

LERONNE ARMSTRONG, CHIEF, OAKLAND POLICE DEPARTMENT: I think it is a work in progress. But I think we are taking steps every day to build trust.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Chief Leronne Armstrong, who took over the department last year, points to new officers trained with a new mindset.

BRIAN WOOD, OFFICER, OAKLAND POLICE DEPARTMENT: My name is Brian Wood. I'm originally from Sacramento, California.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Brian Wood has been on the force for two years. He and Mia Cooper are part of a newer generation of OPD officers who have only known the city's current model of progressive policing.

WOOD: Now, it's in our DNA. It's not just, hey, go out there and arrest bad people. It's let's go out and actually serve the community who has empowered us to do that. It's not what policing was 20-30 years ago.

COOPER: Before, we are police officers who are just going to go look for this, go look for that, stop people. Now, it is like no, let's connect with the community.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): OPD tells us it carefully screens new recruits.

DAMON GILBERT, ACTING SERGEANT, OAKLAND POLICE DEPARTMENT: We need officers that embrace constant training, constant growth, servant spirit, have a heart for the people. If you don't have a servant spirit, wrong profession. Wrong profession.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): The results have won over some critics, including John Burris, who filed the original lawsuit against the department.

BURRIS: We don't have the beatings that we used to have. We don't have the shootings that we used to have. One of the big questions is, can we maintain this, the efficiency that we have, and I'm hopeful that we will.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): But not everyone is.

CAT BROOKS, COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: I think the people of Oakland should get to say whether or not the police department is ready to come off of federal oversight.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Cat Brooks, a community activist, says many residents are skeptical that any of reforms will stick.

BROOKS: Police departments do not want to change. They do not like being told what to do. It was supposed to be a five-year process, and it took 20 years for you to stop beating, racially profiling, mistreating.

ARMSTRONG: I'm sorry that it took so long. And I'm sorry that there was resistance.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Chief Armstrong understands the frustration, but says what matters now is the present.

ARMSTRONG: Maybe it took 20 years to get us to this point, but I think we all should be proud of the fact that we are here.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): And Don, although a judge has signaled an approaching end to federal oversight of the Oakland Police Department, there is an important stipulation. The order just signed by the judge will require the department to undergo a one-year sustainability period during which time monitoring will continue until next June to ensure that the numerous reforms instituted by this department will long endure. Don?


LEMON: Josh Campbell, thank you. We'll be right back.



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Coming up here on the program, the Ukrainian military pushes back Russian troops around Kharkiv as the first war crimes trial against the Russian soldiers gets underway.