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Don Lemon Tonight

Pat Cipollone Testifies Before The January 6 Committee; Will Trump Allies Pay A Price For Their Loyalty?; Economy Adds 372K Jobs In June, Exceeds Expectations; Battle Over Abortion Rights Heats Up In VA; CNN Heroes: Helping Thousands Of People Grow Their Own Food. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired July 08, 2022 - 23:00   ET



HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: This is their chance, why not take it, given the upside. But they must have had some advance sense, including from his informal interview before, that he could have gotten squarely -- so squarely that it wouldn't have been worth the risk.

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Perhaps, also, just to follow up on that point, maybe it's their thought was, look, you're not here as a White House counsel just to be the equivalent of a tape-recording device, you're here to tell us about your perspective, not just sort of buttress or credibility of other testimony. That might be part of the focus.

A source telling CNN that the committee actually was focused on the prospective, not just the testimony, saying, and I quote -- "Mr. Cipollone provided a great deal of new information relevant to the Select Committee's investigation, which further underscores President Trump's supreme dereliction of duty."

I mean, there has been a lot of focus on credibility but that's a huge component, right?

LITMAN: Is that for me?


LITMAN: Yes, it is -- Ron, I don't mean to step on you. It is a huge --


LITMAN: -- component and it's interesting. Zoe Lofgren said, oh, a couple little things. They're playing it kind of cute because they're going to have the hearing next week, but I expect that, in fact, they've got some real combustible stuff that is going to break big when they do it and she's being kind of coy about it. So, I think you can expect some fairly big bombshells.

COATES: Well, let's bring you in here, Ron. You're not meant to be coy. I know you're not. You're a straight shooter. Well, I mean, Cipollone defended Trump in the first impeachment hearing, right?


COATES: He's no never Trumper by any stretch of the imagination. The fact that he's from Trump's inner circle -- I mean, the fact that he -- you know, he wasn't like jump champing at the bit to come in and testify. He was not witness number one. He's just coming in.

How important is it that this is the person, this is the guy that is coming to testify now? How important is this to the overall committee's ability to make the case to the American electorate about what happened and led up to it?

BROWNSTEIN: You know, I'm not a lawyer or an investigator, but as a journalist, you go to the sources on the outside, you get information, and then you move closer and closer to the central protagonists and have them confirm what you -- or deny what you already know.

And I thought it was -- given the accounts that we have heard of Mr. Cipollone's presence at so many critical moments here that have not only legal exposure by the former president but political exposure, I mean, the attempt to replace the leadership of the Justice Department, he's there.

The conversation with Mark Meadows on January 6th where Mark Meadows, you know, through Ms. Hutchinson's testimony says he doesn't think they're doing anything wrong, he's there, he's part of that conversation.

So, I mean, he is -- we're talking about whether he's adding new information and I'm sure that's going to be significant, but just confirming some of the things that have already been said that put him in the room, I think have just enormous political consequences.

Now, look, is it going to crater Donald Trump's support? No. There is no information that's going to do that. But is all of this, I think, lowering the ceiling on his potential support, lowering the ceiling on the number of Americans who say they can trust him with the power of the presidency again? I do think it is having an effect.

COATES: Well, maybe it's raising the fatigue factor as well. I want to listen a little bit about what kinds of things or how often, frankly, we have heard Pat Cipollone's name --


COATES: -- in all of these conversations. Listen to this.


CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER AIDE TO WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF MARK MEADOWS: I remember Pat saying to him something to the effect of, the rioters have gotten to the Capitol, Mark. We need to go down and see the president now. And Mark looked up at him and said, he doesn't want to do anything, Pat. I remember Pat saying something to the effect of, Mark, we need to do something more. They're literally calling for the vice president to be effing hung. And Mark had responded something to the effect of, you heard him, Pat. He thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn't think they're doing anything wrong.


COATES: This happened on January 6th, Harry, as the riot was underway. And so, if Cipollone verified that, I mean, you can check off the list in terms of whatever sort of non-criminal prosecution elements you have for these congressional-related discussions about him refusing to stop the riot, even as people are telling him the vice president of the United States, the person who is the number two person in the line of succession, that this is the person that they're building gallows for.

I mean, what are the legal implications, one, that this was stated and Hutchinson may have heard it, but also that this would have been something that they tried as (INAUDIBLE), it seems, to prevent?


LITMAN: Yeah. And by the way, it's really interesting. I don't think people have caught on to this. Hutchinson, right, 25-year-old kid in the White House, so sort of forlorn and powerless, this does Cipollone feel that he's going to her, not Meadows, because Meadows won't even listen to him.


That's really pretty and inculpatory of Meadows. He has shut him down at that point.

But as Ron says, there are half a dozen episodes. We will add to that the January 3rd meeting where Cipollone says, this is a murder suicide pact about the DOJ letter. So, even if he doesn't say the private conversation with Trump, he gives a lot. And he only took about six little breaks today to talk with his counsel. All and all, I think he was pretty responsive. And as you say, the things he can corroborate just for starters are really, really big.

COATES: You know, Ron, just thinking about Mark Meadows, as you raise the point about the conversation, and I remember thinking he seemed like a defeated person when Cassidy Hutchinson was describing -- almost demoralized, dejected in many respects, kind of looking at his phone, scrolling around, she kept describing it.

I wonder to what extent that central feeling can be descriptive of how the Republican Party feels about the power of Donald Trump overall in the sense of what are you going to do? I mean, you just said yourself, will this impact the voters? Will it crater the base in some way? Is there some analogy there that people aren't necessarily seeing?

BROWNSTEIN: It's interesting. I guess I didn't read her testimony as feeling dejected. I thought of him as more of almost a willing participant from everything that she was saying, someone who was kind of enabling the worst instincts of the president on this rather than, you know, functioning as a way of chief of staff should in often protecting a president from their worst instincts.

And look, I mean, that byte that you played, I mean, that may not be the most significant legally in terms of Trump's legal exposure on things like the fake electors scheme. But I think for voters, that may still be the easiest question to grasp about all of this in terms of their assessment of Donald Trump and his suitability to be president.

At the moment that the rioters were rampaging through the Capitol, trying to hang the vice president and potentially kill or name other elected officials, he did nothing and the chief of staff told the White House counsel, according to this testimony, that he didn't want to do anything because he didn't think they were doing anything wrong. And if Pat Cipollone confirms that, I think that is an enormous political consequence.

COATES: Well, certainly can't wait to see whatever comes from that particular interview. And wouldn't it be great if we also had one from Mark Meadows to describe -- well, how were you feeling that day, Mark? Laura Coates said maybe dejected, something like that. You're saying a bit something different. How about you clarify it? I mean, just -- I don't know. I'm just asking for a friend.

Thank you, gentlemen. I appreciate it.



LITMAN: Thanks, Laura.


LITMAN: Thanks, Ron.

COATES: I want to turn now to CNN national security analyst and former Homeland Security official Juliette Kayyem. She is also the author of "The Devil Never Sleeps." Juliette, so glad to see you tonight as well.

I mean, just tonight, you heard the DOJ giving new details about the extensive planning by the Oath Keepers to prepare for violence on January 6th, which included, by the way, militia-style training for -- quote -- "hasty ambushes," a death list with a name of Georgia election officials on it.


COATES: The filing also detailing firearms and explosives that were seized after the insurrection. I mean, how alarmed are you by these new details?

KAYYEM: Well, it's alarming but there is something hopeful about it, and I think that's -- that it's challenging this narrative that had been pushed with his allies that January 6th was just sort of a get- together that got out of hand.

The extent to which there was planning and they call them QRS, Quick Reaction Forces, that were ready to deploy, they were waiting for a signal from Trump, they were armed around and in D.C., these are explosive devices that were found in their homes, including grenades, there is -- and how do we know this?

We know this because -- people have to remember that Oath Keepers are being charged for sedition, essentially, but seven of them are now cooperating with the United States government and three have already pled guilty. In other words, they now have the deal and they are talking.

So, the group is now fractured, which is good, that is what you wanted to at a violent organization, and some of them are now talking. So, that's how this information is coming out.

I think, Laura, there is a second piece to this which is I think going to play out next week, which is -- and Ron sort of picked up on it as well, which is there is the legal issues with the January 6th investigation. What can Trump be charged with? Who can be charged with what?


But there is also an ongoing insurgency, and we have to do everything we can to expose it, to expose the violence, to isolate Trump as a violent leader so that really, as Ron said, you're sort of lowering the ceiling. I mean, in other words, you got have to isolate this guy significantly in all sorts of ways, and that includes isolating him as the leader of a violent organization.

COATES: Speaking of leaders, I mean, we learned today that the leader of the Oath Keepers, Stewart Rhodes, he wants testify before the committee and waive his Fifth Amendment rights. But hold on, it is a condition, and he wants it to be in a public setting, according to his lawyer. You say, hard pass, why?

KAYYEM: Yeah, hard pass. I mean, nice try, Stewart. A little late. And the -- first of all, you have to remember these guys are both violent and also wannabes. They talk this tough game.

And part of the goal here is to just portray them as losers. I can't describe the extent to which what the January 6 Committee is doing, is sort of mirroring a counter insurgency campaign. You want to isolate these guys, humiliate them, show them to be losers, trying to plea.

So, Stewart Rhodes says he has -- he has an AR-15. He says, I'm not going out alive. And here he is now begging, right? He's still alive. He's begging for an audience. They're not going to give it to him because they already have what they need. Stewart thinks he's still the big talker. He's not. They have seven guys from around him who are cooperating. He thinks he's essential. He's not essential.

And how you eviscerate, and I use that word purposely, you eviscerate groups like the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys who, remember, from the first hearing, they meet, we see from the documentary, they meet the night before, in January 5th in the parking lot? And remember, Oath Keepers are the security guards for Roger Stone and his puppies.

So, to the extent next week is going to be very interesting, aligning the violence with Trump even more so with --

COATES: Yeah, that's going to be happening Tuesday -- happening Tuesday coming up. I mean, Juliette, you yourself have been interviewed twice by the January 6 Committee about your research --


COATES: -- on extremist groups and incitement. What do you able to tell us about those conversations you've had? And I'm most interested in knowing what the committee was most interested in knowing from you.

KAYYEM: Right. They were hard to read. It was -- I want to be very clear. It was staff. As I wrote, it was staff. It was -- they're collecting information about how to think about events leading to January 6th and then after. So, January 6th is a particular day. Lots and lots of people are testifying to that. I don't have evidentiary new details on that.

How did we get to January 6th? That's years and years of Trump nurturing the violence, what I call sarcastic terrorism. He's calling people to violence without any specifics. It is getting much more specific after he loses the election. So, he's focused on January 6th, and then after January 6th, continuing to promote the lie.

And it's that narrative that they are very interested in, the sort of how do you think about not just the legal case against Donald Trump, which is of course important, but also the counter -- essentially the counterinsurgency, counterviolence case against him, and that's what a lot of this information will disclose.

I've been absolutely clear that the best -- that Trump has to be isolated in every single way legally, financially, and isolated from the perception that he is on the winning team.

The January 6 Committee, if there is any success they've done, they've made Trump appear to have peaked. Right? His best days are over. You all want to leave this ship. Get off know. And I think you're seeing that with the polling. Even the (INAUDIBLE) is somewhat consistent with the what the -- with the same timeframe as January 6th.

COATES: I'll be curious to think about -- I mean, going and looking at your insight and your expertise, whether what the committee is doing was intentional or strategic, as you're talking about. It's curious and fascinating principle.

Thank you, Juliette. The question now is, will key players on team Trump pay a price for their loyalty? And which direction and whom will they pay? And just how worried should they be as the January 6 Committee gathers more and more evidence and brings it to the public?




COATES: From the former president's inner circle to his supporters who stormed the Capitol on January 6th, key players on team Trump are paying a price for their loyalty and their adherence to the election- related lies that he has said. And as evidence mounts in the investigation, just how worried are these allies tonight?

Joining me now is CNN political commentators Charlie Dent and Scott Jennings. I'm glad to see you both here.

Charlie, let me begin with you. I mean, look at this. John Eastman is a scholar, a professor who clerked for a Supreme Court justice, Justice Clarence Thomas, being relieved of his phone by federal agents. You got Jeffrey Clark who is a top DOJ official standing there being served with a search warrant in his boxers.

Both of these men's reputations are undoubtedly in jeopardy. They've got to have mount of legal bills at this point. I don't want to count someone else's money for them. But how much trouble can they count on being in?


CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER PENNSYLVANIA REPRESENTATIVE: It seems to me, Laura, that they're in boatloads of trouble, not that there is legal exposure, but the reputational damage is significant. But this has been true for so many people who have gone to work for Donald Trump.

Many of them were aware of the risks going in but they work for him anyway. And that was always the thing that stuns me, that there are so many people who were, you know, pretty bright, Rudy Giuliani and other one who has got all sorts of exposures, all these people were bright, yet they still, you know, were asked to do things that cross lines, that they knew they should not be crossed but they crossed them anyway to stay in the good graces of the man who has been discredited and disgraced.

So, yeah, there is reputational damage, there is legal exposure. All the fake electors, for example, all these people who signed their names on as fake electors, they have legal exposure. I mean, this is an endless list. Michael Cohen. We can go back a long way, all these people who got close to Donald Trump. Sometimes, you just can't wash the stink off, and that is what's happening with many of these folks.

COATES: Well, Scott, I want to go to you because -- I mean, some of the names that were already said, these are names that we have seen in the Georgia criminal case that is probing Trump's efforts to overturn the election. I mean, seven Trump allies were subpoenaed earlier this week.

And one of them, you see there at the top, is Lindsey Graham. He is a sitting United States senator. You've got, of course, the former man known as America's mayor and John Eastman and others. But Senator Lindsey Graham in particular, speaking of reputation, speaking of somebody who is currently in office and has had, frankly, a lot of discussions surrounding his rapport and back and forth with Donald Trump, what is it like for him right now, do you think, in terms of is he paying a pretty high reputational price right now?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDNET TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: In the state of South Carolina? I mean, I don't think so. I mean, he just got reelected and obviously the people of South Carolina were strong supporters of Donald Trump. So, I guess it depends on what venue you are talking about. As a reputational manner among his constituents, I'm sure he's just fine.

And by the way, no one has alleged that --

DENT: Yeah.

JENNINGS: -- Lindsey Graham has done anything wrong. I mean, to put him in the same list as Eastman and some of these other people, I think that is a totally different matter. Is there any question that he was close to Donald Trump? No. But as a U.S. senator from South Carolina and a member of the president's party, I would expect him to try to be close to the president for, you know, obvious policy reasons.

So, I mean -- I think for some of the people who had staff positions, for some of the people who are appointed to things, it's different than a politician for what it is worth.

COATES: Well, just for the record, the list that we are talking about is a subpoena list from the Fulton County DA about these issues and, of course, talking about what somebody knows in conduction with what they're investigating. So, to be in that company, I agree, the notion of being within that company is problematic for the reasons articulated because of the idea of reputational harm on others as well.

But Charlie, there is the former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, who was a respective conservative before Trump. And really, one of the images that have come out about him since at least Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony is this image of him scrolling through his text messages, unwilling for whatever reason to confront Trump as the Capitol is being attacked. And I always wonder, I mean, what is the future for him in politics? I mean, this is someone who had quite a long career in politics. Is that done?

DENT: Well, I will never say he is done. He is from North Carolina. He represents a very conservative district. But clearly, he has been significantly damaged by not doing enough to stop the president or to get the president to do the right thing on that day. He was almost taking a hands-off approach. We don't want to bother him. He's already made up his mind type of approach to what happened on that day.

So, I guess I'd say he's clearly going to incur legal bills and there is reputational damage. And remember, Mark Meadows is not just dealing with the stuff. He's also dealing with this issue of voting, when he voted from Western Carolina that many people questioned was not his actual residence.

So, I think in many respects to Mark Meadows, there is damage. I don't see any way around it. And this sadly been the case for too many people who worked in that administration, that they're trying to get their reputations and their lives back in order after this very difficult and traumatic experience that they had to endure for a significant amount of time.

COATES: Scott, one person who was a part of the administration was the former acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, and he has weighed in, as you know, on Mark Meadows's time as chief of staff after that testimony last week. Listen to this.


MICK MULVANEY, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE ACTING CHIEF OF STAFF: Mark seems to have gone through a very dark period. He was apparently, according to Cassidy, detached to the job.


I picked up on things in Cassidy's testimony that really frightened me and it was the way the West Wing was running. It wasn't running. It was anarchy, it was chaos, it was a clown show. There were protections in place to make sure things like January 6th don't happen. And that system fell apart under Mark's watch.


COATES: How did this impact, Scott, the way people might be viewing the West Wing and, of course, the institution of the presidency at all?

JENNINGS: Well, when you take these jobs in the White House, the only thing you can do is your best and the only thing that you can do is uphold your oath of office. Did I support, protect, and defend the Constitution? Was I honest? Did I give the president the best, most honest advice I could?

We'll see what Mark Meadows can say on those things when these hearings are over with. I think the jury is still out on that. But that is the bottom line. You take an oath when you work in that building just like the president does.

COATES: Well, we'll see how it pans out, and we will see as well. Gentlemen, thank you. We will be right back after a quick break here on air. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)



COATES: June marking a hot month for the job market. The economy adding 372,000 jobs last month while the unemployment rate held steady at 3.6%. President Biden touting the very strong numbers earlier today while also acknowledging the ongoing challenges of inflation.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know times are tough, prices are too high, families are facing the cost of living crunch. But today's economic news confirms the fact that my economic plan is moving this country in a better direction.


COATES: Well, joining me now, senior adviser to the president and American Rescue Plan coordinator Gene Sperling. Gene, good to see you on this Friday evening. And when these numbers are out, I mean, the economy adding more jobs than expected to have added and unemployment is holding steady, but there is always a but, inflation is still at a 40-year high, how is the White House evaluating the latest data and how do you want the American public to perceive it?

GENE SPERLING, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: I think that people should know that we understand that the global inflation that is affecting the whole world right now due to the startup and the shutting down and startup of the global economy related to the pandemic, related to the war in Ukraine, we understand that is hitting Americans at home, that the fact that it is happening everywhere is not much comfort to you if you're going through that gas line or the grocery line.

But it is important to recognize that the American Rescue Plan has led to a very strong job market, a strong labor market with millions of people coming back to work.

A couple really important milestones, we are now 140,000 jobs stronger in the private sector than we were before the pandemic. Same with manufacturing. We now have more manufacturing jobs than before the pandemic. I mean, think about that.

Remember that millions and millions of jobs, the 20 million people on unemployment line, and the fact that due to the American Rescue Plan, we are already having a stronger job market, more people working, more people in manufacturing than before the pandemic.

I think what this shows is that there is a lot of resilience in this economy and it doesn't downplay the difficulties with inflation and it doesn't downplay the challenges people face, but when you're having one million jobs --

COATES: Gene, excuse me, if I can, on that note --

SPERLING: -- in the second quarter, that doesn't feel like a downturn.

COATES: Gene, excuse me. I agree. And I know the reason probably that you are inclined to ensure that people know you're not being dismissive, and obviously the numbers are not dismissive, the idea of how people feel. I mean, the economy is so intertwined with how people view it. We hear the job numbers and these numbers are strong. That's true. They're the kind of numbers that administrations frankly crave.

But the polls, Gene, also show that Americans are not happy with the president's handling of the economy, and I'm wondering, from your prospective, why do you think, in spite of all that you've discussed, why do you think it isn't playing to the president's benefit? Why do you think people are looking at these numbers saying, look, it's not hitting me and that might be what matters?

SPERLING: Oh, I think there is no question, when gas prices are rising, when people are facing nearly three bucks for a dozen of eggs, you know, they're feeling that every day. And yes, they're probably grateful that we have a strong job market, that unemployment is low, that their wages are rising, but people don't want to give that back due to higher prices and we understand that, and we're trying to do everything we can.

You know, gas prices are down now about 28, 29 cents since the peak. The president is calling for a holiday of both the federal and state gas taxes which would probably bring it down another 50 cents. We're seeing two, 3,000 gas stations going under $4.

So, the president is doing everything he can and started when he did the major release from the strategic petroleum reserve. But there is no silver bullet. And I think -- the reason why I think it's important to give the message we -- that I just did is, of course, people are the best experts in the world.


How they feel, what the pain of higher prices is. But people should know that this economy and the jobs that are being created and the unemployment rate are not signs of an economy that is in decline. They are in a sign of the economy that has resilience and is making a transition from the record job growth to what we hope will be more stable and balanced growth with lower prices that won't give up many of the gains that we have seen in the job market over the last year.

COATES: That context is extremely important. I mean, the idea that people really fully understand the full landscape of it. And obviously, I want -- I'm sorry with gas prices. I age myself every time when I remember what my 1999 Pontiac Sunfire used to cost me to fill up and now, of course, it is totally different.

You're the coordinator for Biden's American Rescue Plan, Gene. And even before it passed, you had economist like Larry Summers warning Biden to slow down on stimulus because it could unleash some pretty serious inflation. And given what we know now and looking back, and I know hindsight is well, 2020, should the White House have listened?

SPERLING: I think that the overwhelming economic consensus is that the reason there is global inflation is due to the supply constraints that were due to the pandemic and then now the war in Ukraine. I think that was the overall main economic view.

I mean, just think about this from a commonsense point of view. The OACD, which is a confusing acronym, but it stands for the 38 top countries in the world, their average inflation rate is 9.6%. Nobody could possibly suggest that the fact that they might think the American Rescue Plan was a little too large in March is why there is 9.6% inflation globally.

COATES: It's very nuanced, the numbers do speak for themselves, but all of the numbers collectively really give the fuller and more fulsome picture. Gene Sperling, thank you so much.

SPERLING: Thanks Laura. Thanks for having us.

COATES: The whole country split after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. So, what happens in the purple state? Well, in Virginia, their pro-life Republican governor is having a tough time pleasing everyone.




COATES: President Biden blasting the Supreme Court's abortion ruling and signing an executive order aimed at protecting women's health. Abortion rights activists demanding action since the overturning of Roe v. Wade as GOP-led states across the country quickly move to restrict abortion access.

But Virginia's recently elected Republican governor is trying to carry out a kind of balancing act in a state, well, that's divided right down the middle. Here is CNN's Jeff Zeleny.


GOV. GLENN YOUNGKIN (R-VA): So help me God.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As Glenn Youngkin took office this year as the country's newest Republican governor, his Virginia victory was hailed by the GOP as a road map for the party's success.

YOUNGKIN: First, I am pro-life.

ZELENY (voice-over): He opposed abortion rights, but rarely emphasized it, focusing instead on economic and education issues. When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, most Republican governors across the country moved swiftly to ban or severely restrict abortions. But in Virginia, Youngkin is taking a slower, more measured approach.

YOUNGKIN: I'm a pro-life governor, and I will sign a bill that comes to my desk that protects life, and I look forward to that.

ZELENY (voice-over): The governor supports a law seeking to ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy with exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother, as he tries to balance the demands from strict opponents of abortion rights with the political reality of Democrats controlling the state Senate by one vote.

AMANDA CHASE, VIRGINIA SENATE MEMBER: All eyes will be on Virginia. I think we're the epicenter for the initial decisions that will be made on a lot of the pro-life legislation.

ZELENY (voice-over): Senator Amanda Chase, who challenged Youngkin in the republican primary last year, said she would prefer a bill that goes even further, but she knows that is unlikely to find success, so she supports the governor's plan.

(On camera): So even the 15-week bill, you think, has an uphill --

CHASE: I think it has an uphill battle honestly in the Virginia Senate because of the makeup of the Virginia Senate, 19-21, 19 Republicans and 21 Democrats.

ZELENY (voice-over): As legal challenges unfold in states across the nation, the political debate in Virginia is taking shape with the nuance of the closely divided battleground.

VICTORIA COBB, PRESIDENT, THE FAMILY FOUNDATION OF VIRGINIA: Well, certainly, it has taken us decades to get where we are in this moment, to get past the decision of Roe. And so, to think that tomorrow, we could ban all abortion, would be unrealistic, but I understand the sentiment.

ZELENY (voice-over): Victoria Cobb is president of the Family Foundation of Virginia, an influential lobbying group that opposes abortion. She's calling for a patient pragmatism.

COBB: When you're talking about human lives, you do what you can when you can. Rather than put out what you believe and what you want to have happen, you put out what you can actually accomplish.

ZELENY (voice-over): Youngkin insists common ground can be found.

YOUNGKIN: I believe that this is a moment where the commonwealth of Virginia can come together.

ZELENY (voice-over): That is not how Democratic Senate Leader Louise Lucas sees it.

LOUISE LUCAS, VIRGINIA SENATE LEADER: The bill is dead on arrival.


ZELENY (voice-over): Any abortion bill must pass through the education and health committee of which she is the chair and decides what is or is not considered by the full Senate.

LUCAS: I will not agree to anything less than what is codified and code in Virginia right now and that is for 20 weeks. And so, if the governor is trying to push a 15-week ban, it is not going to get through my committee. I can guarantee that one.

ZELENY (on camera): You can block this in your committee? You have the power as the chair?

LUCAS: I do.

ZELENY (on camera): Senator Lucas tells me she will do everything in her power to make sure Virginia, in her words, remains a safe haven for access to abortion. Republicans and Governor Youngkin, they are starting with that 15-week ban and some are urging it to go much further. This means Virginia will be one of several test cases in the country as the U.S. literally becomes a state by state patchwork of abortion laws. Laura?


COATES: Jeff, thank you. We will be right back.




COATES: W. Kamau Bell is back, asking the tough questions about our country's most challenging issues. In the all-new season of "United Shades of America," Kamau takes us all on a journey around the country, tackling everything from critical race theory to the native American land back movement. Here is a preview.


W. KAMAU BELL, CNN HOST (on camera): Right now, there is argument about, should we teach kids more after the history of America.

UNKNOWN: Race theory?

BELL (voice-over): What did you say? Here we go.

UNKNOWN: Race theory?

BELL (on camera): Race theory. Critical race theory. What are your thoughts on that?

UNKNOWN: I don't have an opinion.

BELL (on camera) -: Is it okay if a teacher says, I think slavery was bad? Is that okay?



BELL (voice-over): No?

UNKNOWN: No. I mean --


BELL (on camera): What about, Nazi is not good?

UNKNOWN: Nothing is bad.

BELL (on camera): Nothing is bad.


BELL (voice-over): And if the latter is how you heard about it first, then I'm not surprised you're confused, which is why I grind my teeth when I sleep.

UNKNOWN: It's only manipulation and manufacturing the prices.

BELL (on camera): Who's manufacturing it?

UNKNOWN: The Democrats. It's always a race cart. I got sick of it.


UNKNOWN: We you teach children to compete, when the Chinese probably know more about American history than we do.

BELL (on camera): So, we should teach better American history here?

UNKNOWN: Well, yeah.

BELL (voice-over): So, like the history of America --

UNKNOWN: History of America.

BELL (voice-over): -- slavery, genocide, native Americans.

UNKNOWN: No. Well, no.

BELL (on camera): Not that stuff?

UNKNOWN: Well, not the whole thing.


COATES: Joining us now, the host of a "United Shades of America," W. Kamau Bell. He is also the coauthor of the new book, "Do the Work," an antiracist activity book coming out on July 19th.

W. Kamau Bell, I don't know how you do it sometimes. I have to tell you, I was blinking throughout the preview going, hmm, and you just dive right in with that first episode tackling the meaning of woke and critical race theory. We just heard some of the conversation. How do you -- I guess you grind your teeth at night, that's how you do it?

BELL: Yeah.


BELL: I go to therapy once a week. My wife rubs my back sometimes when I'm stressed. You know, this being black in America is also -- it's a threat to your mental health. So, you got to take care of yourself, especially if you're like me and you where you go out here and talk to the people and hear all the things.

COATES: Well, you're like 10 feet tall, so you at least have a little bit of emotional distance in some point in time, but talking to people, I have to tell you, listening to this, there is a real difference that you've been saying and you've been talking about this.

This is why I love your show so much and love you doing it, is because you go into the nuance. You talk about knowing what the terms mean, like actually mean, versus what they hear and think that they mean. You go right in there.

BELL: Yeah, I think a big part of the show is just making people's conversations smarter and more informed. Whether or not you agree with the outcomes, of course, I want you to agree with me because I think I have the best ideas because I've stolen them from friends of mine who are activists and smarter people than me.

But I think it is really about like -- if somebody says critical race theory at a party, maybe now you've watched my show you'll actually be able to define it instead of believing what somebody in the media told you who doesn't want you to actually know what it is.

COATES: So, give us a sneak peek now, what else are you talking about this season?

BELL: As we mentioned, we have an episode about the land back movement. We have an episode about the wildfires in California, my home state, which affects me personally. We have an episode about people in COVID times moving to or temporarily relocating to Hawaii because a lot of times, mainland America Street Hawaii (ph) is undiscovered country and we have talked about how the people in Hawaii feel about that.

And one of my favorite episodes is about aging Americans in the spotlight post 2020 that features CNN's own Lisa Ling. I was happy to find and get her an episode.

COATES: Well, I can't wait to see it and that cross connection is going to be even better. I love Lisa Ling as well. Be sure, everyone, to tune in to the all-new season of "United Shades of America" with the fabulous W. Kamau Bell. It premieres Sunday at 10 p.m. and it is only on CNN.

We will be right back.



COATES: As inflation sends grocery prices higher, families across the country are struggling to afford adequate food. Recent reports find that food insecurity impacts nearly 14 million households in this country.

But this week's CNN hero wants people to know that homegrown and healthy are possible, even in dense urban areas and food desserts. Bobby Wilson is using his retirement and his savings to support those in underserved communities, teaching and feeding people towards better lives.


BOBBY WILSON, CNN HERO: We have turned five acres of the land right here in the heart of the city into a green oasis. That really impacted the quality of life of people that live around here and visit us.

Most of the people in this neighborhood don't have access to fruits and vegetables that they can readily get. Mangoes, you have to make sure that marginalized and underserved communities have access to locally-grown food that is free of chemical. We are more than just a farm.


We are about justice, equity, diversity that includes -- we are changing the dynamics of the way people think about food.