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Don Lemon Tonight
U.S. Seeing Successive Mass Shootings; All Eyes On Congress' Action; January 6th Committee Kicks Off First Hearing; Story Repeats Itself; Sports Teams Calling For Congress To Act; Supreme Court Still Has 30 Opinions. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired June 06, 2022 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Thank you for watching. I'll be back tomorrow night. DON LEMON TONIGHT starts right now. Hey, Don Lemon.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Hi, how are you, Laura Coates? What do we have, three, four days before we have the first hearings for January 6th? That's certainly going to be interesting to watch in primetime. We had wondered for so long if those hearings were going to be in prime time, and now they are. And Thursday night we will be covering it.
COATES: I can't wait. I want -- I want to know what has taken so long. I want to know if they're going to be able to satisfy the American public's appetite for new information in light of books that have been put out, the impeachment hearing as well.
There's a lot of things to talk about, and I am really eager to understand how they're going to have the legislative and oversight function, and really are people going to watch? That's the biggest question. Are they going to watch with an eye towards validating this committee?
LEMON: Yes. I think people will watch. I don't think it's going to be, you know, Watergate, right, because we don't have that sort of media system anymore. It's not that way. But I think people will watch, and I think some minds will be changed and others, it won't matter to them because they've already made up their minds. But at least the information is out there, and we're going to get to hear from those who are involved.
We'll see you tomorrow night, Laura Coates.
COATES: Looking forward to it.
LEMON: Thank you.
COATES: Bye, Don Lemon.
This is DON LEMON TONIGHT.
And just in to CNN, federal prosecutors they now have an e-mail revealing the Trump campaign told so-called fake electors in Georgia to keep what they were doing a secret as they tried to overturn Joe Biden's win in the state. We're going to have much more on that in just a moment. This is, again, just coming in to CNN. And we're going to tell you about it in just moments. More about it in just moments.
And it comes during what just might be the week when we see whether we can come together as a country and still have a functioning government. Can we do something finally to solve gun violence? It may come down to what four key senators, two Republicans, two Democrats, are trying to hammer out tonight. More on that straight ahead as well.
Now, can we come to terms with the truth of what happened on January 6th when rioters tried to stop the peaceful transfer of power? Can we come to truth about that? We're going to learn more with the first public hearings as Laura and I are just talking about, from the January 6th committee. It's going to happen just this week.
And what about the Supreme Court? Does it still have legitimacy with the American people, or is it out of sync with where the majority of Americans are with big decisions looming any day now on guns and on Roe v. Wade? All of that coming off of a weekend of more sickening gun violence.
Take a look at your screen. At least 13 more mass shootings. Thirteen. At the rate that we're going, this could be the worst year of mass shootings ever in this country's history, that according to the Gun Violence Archive. So is this finally the moment when we do something, finally? A small bipartisan group of gun bill negotiators are inching closer.
GOP senators signaling to CNN tonight raising the age to 21 for buying semiautomatic weapons is off the table, but they're looking at changing the criminal background check system to create a sort of waiting period for 18 to 20-year-olds among other things.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): We're talking about common sense, targeted reforms that are responsive to the tragedies in Uvalde and elsewhere, and that will, I believe, save lives.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): We've never seen this many senators, Republican senators, come to the table. I think it's put up or shut up time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Put up or shut up time. OK. So the stakes are high. We know that. And if something doesn't get done now, it's going to get much worse. That is obvious.
So, I want to bring in now CNN's chief political correspondent Dana Bash, global affairs analyst Susan Glasser, and Mark McKinnon who was an adviser to George W. Bush and John McCain.
Good evening. Thank you for joining tonight. Again, Dana, I think we have to show what is happening as we put these
up. Thirteen more mass shootings just this weekend. It is horrible. There are high-stakes Senate negotiations going on right now. It seems like there's some real momentum hopefully, so talk about that and what does this mean for the country potentially, Dana?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it absolutely does is more momentum in a bipartisan way than there has been in a very long time. And I don't want to be Debbie Downer at all for those who are really hoping for changes. I mean most people, you would think, are hoping for a change, at least in a way that could move toward (AUDIO GAP) things that we've seen, not only what you talk about this weekend, but of course Uvalde, Buffalo, on and on and on.
However, I was just looking at my notes and looking back at the stories that we did 10 years ago. After Newtown I was running around the halls of Congress, and there was a lot of hope, a bipartisan hope, then as well. And it got to the point where there was a bipartisan bill. Pat Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and the bill went to the Senate floor and failed.
And it was because it's probably not going to surprise you, Don. The NRA worked overtime to convince not only Republicans but five Democrats to vote no. It would have expanded background checks and done a whole host of other things.
It seems as though based on what we're hearing from Republicans, from John Cornyn, who is in these talks, to others, that they are trying to take a much more modest approach now in order to get something done. Chris Murphy in particular, from Connecticut, has said many times over the past two weeks that they just have to take at least baby steps because that's better than no steps.
LEMON: Dana, it was really smart of you to do that. Yes, I remember. I covered Newtown. I was there for quite some time covering the fallout and the funerals.
BASH: I remember that.
LEMON: And you're right. It just died on the Senate floor. Nothing got done, and everybody moved on. You know, Susan, I want you to listen to this. This is Senator Joe Manchin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): You want to look at two things that could have prevented this. An age requirement would have prevented an 18- year-old, and basically a red flag law that's basically intended to try to help a person get some mental help.
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You think that there should be a ban on assault weapons, ban on AR-15s?
MANCHIN: You know, talking at bans, I wouldn't have a problem on looking at some of these things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: OK. So that's what he says. He sounds open to some real changes to the nation's gun laws. He is a moderate Democrat from a ruby red state. It is significant, but what will it take to overcome the opposition? The gun lobby is so, so strong, the opposition. What do you think it's going to overtake? What do you is going to take to overcome that?
SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yes. Well, Don, I think it's a really important point. I mean, first of all, the gun lobby is no longer distinguishable entirely from the Republican Party itself. And so that's one of the challenges is that actually organizationally, the NRA has sort of suffered setbacks in recent years. But it hasn't diminished the power overall of the gun rights supporters, especially in Congress at the national level.
I'm just struck so much that you have, on the one hand, this very relatively speaking positive surround sound, people like Chris Murphy who have dedicated a lot to trying to achieve some kind of breakthrough on gun control, saying we've never seen, you know, the positive vibe that we're getting right now.
On the other hand, what they're talking about doing, Don, is such an incredible mismatch to the problem. Even if there were to be a breakthrough and these baby steps would be produced. I think it could be misleading to the American people because, in fact, the measures that they're talking about would not very likely have prevented or affected many of the horrible gun massacres that have occurred in recent years.
And, you know, some of the steps certainly President Biden in his primetime address to the nation the other day suggested an array of very sweeping measures that are supported, many of them, by a large majority of the American people. But just to be clear, that's not even what these senators are talking about, and they still haven't yet come to a deal.
LEMON: Yes. They can't -- and as I said in the open, they're concerned about even raising the age for semiautomatic weapons, and that appears to be off the table at this point. Mark, what do you make of that?
MARK MCKINNON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, what I make about this is that, you know, I'm encouraged that there could be even some incremental progress. The fact that John Cornyn is on point is good. I mean he is a -- he's an unquestionable leader in the Republican Party, strong credentials, from Texas. So, you know, how much impact it will have, I don't know.
But I'll take any forward progress we can get because I think it sends a message that something has to be done. The thing that's discouraging, Don, is when you see polling like we saw today where 44 percent of the Republican Party doesn't think that -- thinks that it's accept -- this is just an accepted mass -- mass shootings are just something we have to accept as a price for our freedoms.
So, we have almost half of the Republican Party saying, well, that's the way it goes. We're just going to have mass shootings. Get used to it. And as we also saw, we saw Republican incumbent congressmen who leaned in to support some reforms and seven days later announced his resignation because the heat was so bad. So, it's still very tough out there, but I'm encouraged there's at least some progress and some movement with Cornyn on point.
LEMON: OK. Well let's talk about that because you mentioned Cornyn. But there are two GOP senators involved in these talks, right. It's Tillis and Cornyn, Mark. They're signaling that raising the purchase age of the semiautomatic weapons is off the table as I said. They're focused on these background checks as we've been pointing out and potential waiting period to explore juvenile records.
But this is -- this is West Virginia Governor Jim Justice. This is what he said last week. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JIM JUSTICE (R-WV): Do I really feel like that an 18-year-old ought to be able to walk in and buy an assault weapon? I don't. But from the standpoint of a 21-year-old, you know, it's a different -- it's a different thing, you know. To me, the age ought to be 21.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, West Virginia, again, strong gun culture. He is a Republican. So why is this -- as Susan said, they are considering things that wouldn't have stopped the last shootings. Why is this already off the table?
MCKINNON: Well, I mean, the fact that you have a West Virginia governor saying he would at least support raising the age, again, I think is just an incremental sign of some movement in Republican ranks that have been solidly against any reforms whatsoever.
So, the fact that we have people like West Virginia governors and John Cornyn at least talking about some of these very minimal -- and by the way, I've never seen a public policy so out of whack with public opinion. I work for a -- among a board of something called 97 percent, which really reflects the attitudes and opinions of gun owners in America.
Gun owners in America support background checks by more than 85 percent. They support red flag laws by more than 65 percent. And most of those are Republicans, Don. So, the fact is that this is a public policy that does not conform to public opinion whatsoever, and that has to be laid at the feet of the NRA.
But to Susan's point that I think she made earlier, the NRA does not have nearly the juice it had. It's been plagued by scandal and it's bleeding money badly. LEMON: Yes, but we'll see.
BASH: One of the things, Don, if I may.
LEMON: Yes, go ahead.
BASH: Just real quick, one of the things that is important to look at is we are understandably looking at federal laws and the United States Congress and making changes potentially across the board, across the country. But the states could be where it's at.
Remember Florida, which is by all accounts a red state at this point, after Parkland, they did make the changes that we're talking about. Mark talked about the red flag law. That was signed into law by a Republican governor. It was then Rick Scott, raising the -- maybe it was Scott and DeSantis did a couple of these, including raising the age from 18 to 21. So it is potentially doable in these states if Congress isn't going to act on those issues.
LEMON: Right. Thank you all. I appreciate it.
Fake electors in Georgia told to keep what they were doing a secret. What were they trying to hide? And could the scheme to organize them lead to criminal charges?
LEMON: Just days ahead of the January 6th committee's first public hearing, CNN learning more about efforts to use fake electors to overturn the election.
Joining me now, CNN senior justice correspondent Mr. Evan Perez. Evan, hello to you. This is fascinating what happened, this new reporting that you have on this fake -- this fake elector scheme in Georgia. Tell our viewers what you learned.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, you know, this is a remarkable e-mail because, you know, we're seeing the words of someone who was associated with the Trump campaign, who was essentially trying to direct people, you know, who were going to be part of this fake elector scheme to make sure that people did not know what was actually happening.
This is reporting, by the way, with my colleagues, Kaitlan Collins and Zachary Cohen, and if you, you know, I'll read you just a part of the e-mail, which is now in the hands of federal prosecutors at the Justice Department who are looking into all of this. This e-mail is from Robert Sinners, and it says, "I must ask you for complete discretion in this process. Your duties are imperative to ensure the end result, a win in Georgia for President Trump, but will be hampered unless we have complete secrecy and discretion."
Of course, the emphasis being there, that their goal here is not of course that, you know, the winner, who is actually President Biden, but actually that they wanted for the end result to be for Donald Trump to get the electors from the state of Georgia, Don.
LEMON: What has Robert Sinners, has Robert Sinners said anything about this e-mail becoming public?
PEREZ: Well, he said that he was working at the direction of the Trump campaign lawyers. I'll read you a part of his responses to us today. He says, quote, "I was advised by attorneys that this was necessary in order to preserve the pending legal challenge's longevity following the former president's refusal to accept the results of the election and allow a peaceful transition of power. My views on this matter have changed significantly from where they were on December 13th."
And of course, he's referring to the fact that now, by the way, he works for the state of Georgia, and his views, Don, from what he held at that time in 2020, is obviously very, very different.
LEMON: So, he's saying now he doesn't believe the election was fake?
PEREZ: I think that's what he's saying. I think that's what he says. His view has changed.
LEMON: OK All right.
PEREZ: He's come to Jesus.
LEMON: So, listen, no doubt Thursday everyone is going to be watching this fake elector scheme. It's sure to be part of this --
LEMON: -- this 1/6 hearings, or the 1/6 hearings that are going to go on. This was -- how central will this Georgia plan be to that, you think?
PEREZ: It was. It was a central part of getting these electors -- these electors not only in Georgia, but in other states, key states, where a central part of, we now know was a central part of trying to keep the president, the former president in power. You know, the protests on January 6th was about putting pressure on members of Congress to not certify the election, send it back to the states, and then these guys were going to essentially complete the attempted coup.
So, this is part of what the Justice Department is now focused on, Don. This is a big part of the investigation. You're seeing a flurry of activity, a flurry of subpoenas going to some of the people who know a lot about what was happening.
And this e-mail is fascinating because you can now see that there are people who were part of it, are now turning over or at least have provided information to prosecutors so they can perhaps get to the bottom of this to see whether there was a crime that was committed here.
LEMON: Evan Perez, thank you very much. I appreciate that.
LEMON: So, the January 6th committee just days away from its first public hearing as we are learning even more tonight about the attempt to stop the peaceful transfer of power. What happened that day at the capitol was a presidential power grab worse than Watergate, and my next guests know all about that. Carl Bernstein and John Dean, they're both here right after the break.
LEMON: So, we're just days away from the first public hearings from the January 6th committee. Members of the committee promising newly revealed information and promising to lay out the case for what led up to the insurrection.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD), JANUARY 6TH SELECT COMMITTEE: The committee has found evidence of concerted planning and premeditated activity. The idea that all of this was just a rowdy demonstration that spontaneously got a little bit out of control is absurd. You don't almost knock over the U.S. government by accident.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, joining me now, CNN political analyst Carl Bernstein and CNN contributor and former Nixon White House counsel John Dean.
Good evening, gentlemen. Good to see both of you.
Carl, I'm going to start with you. The insurrection horrified America as it unfolded, but it has been almost a year and a half, and Americans are grappling with other big problems right now. How much pressure is on this committee to make their case in these hearings?
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: A lot of pressure. They've got a standard to meet in the Watergate hearings, which was exceptional, partly by John Dean's testimony, whether or not there's going to be a smoking-gun witness, we don't know.
What we do know, reporting is that there is an awful lot of information that shows that the committee has an awful lot of evidence, really convincing evidence, of a conspiracy to have a coup in which the President of the United States, the sitting president, Donald Trump, would not permit his duly elected successor, Joe Biden, from taking office.
And so, what happened here? What does the committee know? The committee has a timeline, I'm told. The timeline shows that at 1 p.m., the only time under the law in the United States that the president of the United States can be elected by the electors, sitting and presided over by the vice president of the United States. The object of this conspiracy, which extends to the President of the
United States and his aides according to some people on the committee and its staff, that the object was to keep that 1 p.m. vote from happening. And it was coordinated with the demonstrators who stormed the capitol.
One of the things that we see is Donald Trump didn't tell them to go home until after 4 or 5 o'clock in the afternoon even though there were entreaties to him to please send them home. Tell them to go home. He didn't do it. Why not? Could it be because the longer it got past 1 p.m., the more Trump knew, as his lawyers had told him, that he might be able to stage a coup that would keep him from leaving office.
LEMON: Very interesting.
BERNSTEIN: It's diabolical. It is truly diabolical, and the lawyers recommended it.
LEMON: John, following the insurrection, we saw the shocking video like Senator Romney nearly walking toward the mob before being warned and then whisked away, right? And then the vice president being led away to safety, and of course the scenes of that incredible violence. How can this committee remind people of the shock that they felt that day? I mean they hired the former president of ABC News, James Goldston, to help produce the hearing.
JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I gather they are going to use some video, and that can -- a picture is worth a thousand words, a moving picture, maybe 2,000 words. So, I think that's one of the things -- the tools they have is to have pictures and to have testimony.
Maybe some of the officers who were injured can explain the chaos they were confronted with and recapture that awful moment at the capitol. But I'm sure that they will do it well, and it doesn't take much to leave a pretty lasting impression if anyone has forgotten what happened on that day.
LEMON: Yes. I mean just that moment there brought us -- brings us back to what happened. John, sources tell CNN that the former president wants his allies to push back hard on whatever comes out of the hearing and his alleged role in the insurrection. What do you expect the counter-narrative will be here?
DEAN: I think it will be the witch hunt. That's been his standard go- to approach. It's gotten kind of boring actually. He doesn't have much of a counter-story. He once was very good at deflecting attention because it was so unusual for people to do the absurd things he was doing. Now he's become something of a regular act, and we expect it out of him.
So, I don't think there's a whole lot that he can do to distract or that his surrogates and apologists can do. I think they'll try to get to the might, but they'll not have much to say. And they aren't the story. They aren't the story that most Americans are really interested in.
LEMON: So, Carl, you and your Watergate reporting partner, Bob Woodward, have a new piece out, it's in the Washington Post. It points to the similarities between Nixon and Trump, and I quote here. "It says, both Nixon and Trump created a conspiratorial world in which the U.S. Constitution laws and fragile Democratic traditions were to be manipulated or ignored. Political opponents in the media were enemies and there were few or no restraints on the powers entrusted to presidents." And you argue that Trump surpasses Nixon in the depths he has gone to. Explain that, please.
BERNSTEIN: Well, both were criminal presidents such as we had never seen before Nixon, and Trump built on that criminality. But what really has happened here is Trump is the first seditious President of the United States. It's an incredible notion.
The idea that the president himself would stage a coup to undermine the constitutional transfer of power to his successor, nothing close to this has ever happened in our history. Think of it. It's in authoritarian countries that such coups take place, not in the United States. No president has attempted anything like it.
It is so audacious, so far toward undermining democracy itself, the most elemental part of our democracy. Both Nixon and Trump tried to undermine the electoral system, but only Trump tried to keep the transfer of power from happening.
But there's one aspect to this hearing that we haven't talked about yet, and that's Liz Cheney. She might be the real sleeper of this hearing. She has impeccable Republican and conservative credentials that the people of this country are going to get a look at.
She knows that the committee has done its work. She knows that there has been a massive conspiracy that goes to the top of our government. She knows what happened here. She is going to help present the facts. I would say let's keep our eyes on her, on Liz Cheney, almost as we kept our eyes on Sam Irvin, the chairman of the Watergate committee. But she has another thing going for her, as does the committee.
And that is the fact her father was the vice president of the United States, reviled her father by the left, by the Democrats. And here she is leading the attack on her own party, which has said, we won't cooperate with this investigation. Compare that to the Watergate situation where it was Republicans who pushed Richard Nixon out of office.
Barry Goldwater, the great conservative, 1964 nominee of his party. Bob Woodward and I went to his apartment when we were writing the final days. Goldwater gave himself a big tumbler of whiskey, pulled out his diary from the last days of the Nixon White House, read to us how he and the leadership of the Senate and the House had gone to Nixon and Nixon asked, will I be convicted in the Senate in a trial? Goldwater looked at the president and said, Mr. President, you have very few votes, and you do not have mine for acquittal. And that next day, Richard Nixon resigned. That's the power the Republicans have and have not used against Donald Trump. But watch Liz Cheney. LEMON: Yes. Well, but those Republicans now are doing everything they
can to undermine Liz Cheney. I don't know if we're going to have that sort of moment. By the way, John, I want to tell you the CNN documentary last night was just amazing. I'm looking forward to part two next week, so thank you. And, Carl, you as well. Thank you both. I appreciate it.
BERNSTEIN: Good to be with you.
LEMON: So, they travel the world for their sport, and they see the difference. U.S. men's soccer team calling out how common mass shootings are here and calling for stronger gun laws. I'm going to speak with a player next.
LEMON: Another weekend of deadly gun violence across this country with at least 13 mass shootings since Friday. Seventeen people dead. Dozens and dozens more wounded.
Over the weekend, the U.S. men's national soccer team sent a letter to every member of Congress urging them to do something about gun violence and support stronger gun laws in the wake of a deadly school shooting in Uvalde that killed 19 children and two teachers.
The team writing, and I quote here, "please stop choosing campaign contributions over kids' lives. Stop being steered by some misguided notion that voting for gun reform legislation or even refusing to talk about it in the first place will get you voted out of office. Instead, do what is necessary to prevent this from happening again."
Joining me now, U.S. men's national soccer team player Walker Zimmerman. Walker, thank you so much. I really appreciate you joining us. This is very important, and I'm glad that you're speaking out. Thanks.
WALKER ZIMMERMAN, DEFENDER, U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL SOCCER TEAM: Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here.
LEMON: This is -- Walker, this is a strong call for action from your team. So, talk to me about the specific moment that made it clear for the team that it was time to speak out on gun violence.
ZIMMERMAN: Well, our coach brought the construction of the letter to our attention, and wanted players on the leadership council to take a look over the letter and then pass it around to other members on the team and just get feedback and hear what everyone had to say. Is this something we want to get behind? Is this the action, the course of action we want to take as a team?
And ultimately it was unanimous that, yes, we want our voices heard in this way, and we want to try and be the change in this moment. LEMON: Yes. And this goes along with your team be the change mantra.
Talk to me about that.
ZIMMERMAN: Well, it's something that is very important to us. It was organic. It came about internally from players within the team, and it started after the death of George Floyd and ultimately has led us on this journey of making sure that we do stand up for things that we believe in and that we do take action.
And that's been an important thing for us is making sure that we -- in order to be the change, we have to take action. So, this letter to Congress was another example of that, and I'm really proud of the group and the way that they've -- in everything that we do, we've come together and stood together through everything.
LEMON: Listen, I know that you -- in the response from the team where you were saying this is not a political issue, right? This is more -- it's not right versus left. It's the right thing to do. And you know some people say athletes shouldn't worry about politics and they should stick to sports instead. Why do you think it's important that your team speaks out on this issue and that it shouldn't -- so it shouldn't be seen as politics?
ZIMMERMAN: Right. I mean these are -- these are innocent lives that we're talking about, and, you know, there are measures that we can take. And it doesn't need to be political, but there are measures that we can take to hopefully prevent the deaths of innocent oftentimes children. And so, it's something that we believe in.
Again, we have so many different backgrounds on this team, different beliefs. The diversity is what makes this team strong, and that also includes diversity of beliefs. But this is something that we all felt was applicable and needed to be addressed.
LEMON: You guys get to see the world. You get to play in other places. A lot of your teammates play in other countries. Do you guys talk about the differences in the U.S. and other places when it comes to gun violence?
ZIMMERMAN: Probably not in too serious of moments until they come back and they're saying, I cannot believe that another shooting has happened in America because they all love coming back to the United States after a long season abroad. It is their home for a lot of these players, and it really is bewildering to them that they come back to the news of, wow, there was another mass shooting. It's hard. It's hard to stomach, and that's, again, why we felt so strongly about it.
LEMON: Walker, part of your team's letter specifically hones in on urging the Senate to vote yes on gun legislation. So, then it could -- you know, the House could finalize the legislation. Does that more than bare minimum and will change -- and will bring in about a meaningful reaction in gun violence? That's a quote there. Are you hopeful this time it's going to be different, that Congress is actually going to reach some sort of solution here?
ZIMMERMAN: We're definitely hopeful. I mean, you know, I get it. We're athletes and, you know, and certain issues, especially when it comes to issues like this, we can't really be the change in this area in terms of voting and, you know, putting things into law. But Congress can, and so that is why we are urging them with our voices that, you know, change needs to be addressed. It needs to happen. And so, we are very hopeful for this to be passed.
LEMON: Walker Zimmerman, thank you. Best of luck, OK? We appreciate you appearing.
ZIMMERMAN: Thank you. I appreciate it.
LEMON: Carrying concealed weapons, religious liberty, immigration, the environment, abortion -- all on the docket of the Supreme Court. That's next.
Plus, survivors of Uvalde suing. Those details straight ahead.
LEMON: The Supreme Court has 30 opinions remaining in the final weeks of this year's term. Of course, we're expecting a final decision on abortion after a leaked draft opinion showed the court would overturn Roe v. Wade. But there are also decisions coming on major issues like guns and immigration.
Let's discuss. CNN's chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin is here. Jeff, thanks for joining us.
I want to start with this decision on guns. After oral arguments last year, it seemed that the conservatives on the court were ready to strike down a more than century-old New York law that places restrictions on carry -- carrying a concealed weapon outside the home. What impact would that decision look like, you think?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Potentially enormous, not just in New York but around the whole country. And it's particularly relevant now because this is a time when gun control and gun safety is a huge issue after the mass shootings we've had. And, you know, what people are not focused enough on is whether it's even constitutional to do the restrictions people are thinking about, even if they think it's a good idea because the Supreme Court, it looks like, is getting ready to use the Second Amendment as a tool to shut down almost all gun control in the United States.
LEMON: Wow. So could a more expansive ruling on -- you said this would -- it's going to impact -- this is going to go far beyond New York. But could that open this concealed weapon law, open the door to more constitutional challenges to gun safety laws across the country? Is it just the beginning?
TOOBIN: Absolutely. Absolutely, because in 2008, the Supreme Court held for the first time in a famous case called Heller written by Justice Scalia that the understanding of the Second Amendment that we had in this country for 200 years was wrong. The idea that it only applied to militias, and it didn't apply to individuals.
No. Justice Scalia said individuals have a right to possess a handgun in the home. But since 2008, the court has not really discussed the Second Amendment very much, and conservatives like Justice Clarence Thomas have been saying, look, we need to expand the definition of the Second Amendment. We need to end more regulation on guns.
LEMON: Let's put the word up on the screen.
TOOBIN: Yes, let's put up because this is such an important point.
LEMON: So how do they match with today's reality? The court interpreting a well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
TOOBIN: Right, that first clause, the militia clause, was seen by the Supreme Court and by virtually everyone for 200 years to trump the second part.
TOOBIN: To say, like, the right to keep and bear -- to people to keep and bear arms only applies for militias, which are like state police forces. What Justice Scalia's opinion said is no, no, no, we're going to sort of forget about that first clause and say, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, and that includes individuals with weapons on their own.
And just, let me give you an example of what's going on now in the country. In -- a couple of weeks ago in California, a federal appeals court said that a law in California that said people from 18 to 21 could not by assault weapons. What the appeals court, two Donald Trump appointees said, that's unconstitutional that a ban of 18-year-olds buying assault weapons is unconstitutional. I mean, think about how -- frankly, it's my own opinion -- how crazy that is, but that's where the law was heading.
LEMON: So, wait, let's go back to what we said. So, do you think that that was wrong? Do you think that Heller was wrong?
TOOBIN: I think Heller was wrong. It was a five to four opinion with the conservatives in the majority.
LEMON: So , Heller was wrong, then everything that these folks are saying about the Second Amendment is B.S. then.
TOOBIN: Well, here's the thing about the Constitution is, you know, it is what the Supreme Court says it is. I mean, I disagree with that decision, but that's the law of the land now. But the question now is how broad is the Second Amendment protection --
LEMON: Yes. TOOBIN: -- establish in Heller? And if you listen to the oral argument, as you said earlier, it certainly seemed like the court was ready to say to New York state, you can't regulate when people carry guns in public.
LEMON: So, there's a lot that we're going to have to deal with now. The court is dealing with religious liberty, immigration, the environment, and abortion. How much of that is going to have to do -- I mean, all of it has to do with, right, the political makeup of the folks who are on the bench right now.
TOOBIN: Absolutely. I mean, you know, I have been covering the court for decades. The -- there's never been a moment like this, because the court, really, since the '70s has been very evenly divided between liberals and conservatives. That's why you saw five, four opinions going different ways.
You know, the same court that decided Heller in a conservative direction decided the Obergefell case, same sex marriage in all 50 states, you know, in a more liberal direction. You had people like Justice Anthony Kennedy, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor who were centrists who really controlled the outcome.
Now we have five or six strong conservatives on the court, depending on how you count Chief Justice Roberts but he's not even necessary for a majority now. You have five very solid conservatives. So, on religious liberty issues they're basically saying, look, we can have more religious display by the government in the public sphere.
There is a case about whether a football coach can hold prayers on the 50-yard line during games, whether government money can go to parochial schools. All of that is moving in that direction. And you know, making labor unions -- you know, taking powers away from labor unions.
This is all the conservative majority asserting itself. And we've seen it on guns, we'd seen -- we're very likely to see it on abortion, as you say in immigration and environment, make it harder for the federal government to regulate pollution. All of that is coming in the next three weeks.
LEMON: It is interesting to me too, when I was talking to the soccer player and others, right, people who have more of a world view, right, who travel a lot. Even in populations that are similar to that of the United States, they don't have the gun violence that we have. What is the difference?
TOOBIN: And they have the same mental illness --
LEMON: Yes. We have the same --
TOOBIN: -- that we do, but they don't have to have the mass shooters that we do.
LEMON: Thank you.
TOOBIN: All right, pal.
LEMON: I appreciate it, Jeffrey Toobin.
Next, 13 mass shootings this weekend alone. Seventeen people killed. Many more injured. What will this country's leaders do about it?
And Uvalde survivors are suing. The details of the filing right after this.
LEMON: A teacher who survived the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas is speaking out about what happened inside the classroom, where 11 of the 21 people were killed. Here's what Arnulfo Reyes told ABC News about when he saw the gunman.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARNULFO REYES, TEACHER, ROBB ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: He started asking out loud, Mr. Reyes, what's going on? I said, I don't know what's going on, but let's go ahead and get under the table. Get under the table and act like you're asleep. As they were doing that and I was gathering them under the table and told them to act like they were going to sleep is about the time when I turned around and saw him standing there.
One of the students from the next-door classroom was saying officer, we're in here. We're in here.