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Don Lemon Tonight
The January 6 Committee Holds Its Eight Hearing Focusing on Donald Trump's Inaction During the U.S. Capitol Riot on January 6th; CA Gov. Newsom Signs New Gun Law Modeled After Texas Abortion Law; Retired Admirals and Generals Call Out Trump for "Dereliction of Duty"; Some Founders Believed Abortion to be a Private Matter. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired July 22, 2022 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: A member of the January 6 Select Committee telling CNN that they think they've made the criminal case against Donald Trump. Of course, the only person who can actually make that call is Attorney General Merrick Garland, and no one knows exactly what he plans to do.
But the committee has been filling in critical gaps of what was happening and perhaps more notably what was not happening during those 187 minutes on January 6th when they argue then President Donald Trump was derelict in his duties.
CNN's Tom Foreman has been going through all of the evidence and all the testimony. Tom, what stands out to you?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What stands out really is how much Trump was alone in this. This hearing laid out new and clear details about how he urged supporters to converge on the Capitol, and even as it went out of control for hours, he refused to call off the attack.
Did he know about the violence? Witnesses say, absolutely. It started minutes after he finished speaking. Virtually everyone on the staff was aware of it, concerned about it. And one witness after another say the president went to this dining room next to the Oval Office, based in this graphic from the committee exhibit, where he sat all afternoon watching Fox News, which was showing the carnage right there next to the Oval Office.
So, that's where they stood in terms of him knowing about it. But did he try to stop it? No. Indeed, witnesses say even as Secret Service agents afraid for their own lives were scrambling to try to get the vice president out to safety, he wouldn't do anything. Listen to some of the traffic between those Secret Service agents when they were concerned.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): If we're moving, we need to move now.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Copy.
UNKNOWN: If we lose any more time, we may have -- we may lose the ability to leave. So, if we're going to leave, we need to do it now.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): They've gained access to the second floor. And I've got public about five feet from me down here below.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Ok, copy. They are on the second floor moving in now. We may want to consider getting out and leaving now. Copy?
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Will we encounter the people once we make our way?
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Encounter any individuals if we made our way to the (bleep).
UNKNOWN (voice-over): There's six officers between us and the people that are 5 to 10 feet away from me.
UNKNOWN: Stand by, I am going down to evaluate.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Go ahead.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): We have a clear shot if we move quickly. We got smoke downstairs. Standby. Unknown smoke downstairs by the protestors?
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Is that route compromised?
FOREMAN: From all indications, these agents with the vice president were seconds away, feet away possibly, from being caught. The White House counsel was messaging to the White House saying the mob wants to hang the vice president. And Trump's chief of staff is responding, well, he, Trump, thinks Mike deserves that.
And Trump, what was he doing? He was tweeting. He was tweeting Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done. What he wanted done was for obviously the results to not be certified. Mike Pence did not have that legal right to do it. But Trump kept insisting on it.
And then, then, witnesses say, that intensified the rage at the Capitol so much so that pretty soon, there was a deluge of messages from members of Congress, saying, please, tell the president to calm the people, this isn't the way. From members of the right-wing media, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home. And on and on it went. Even the president's own son sent a message to Chief of Staff Mark Meadows saying he's got to condemn this S-H-I-T ASAP.
In short, what it looks like is everyone was saying he had to do something, but witnesses say the president just kept watching TV, trying to call senators to stop certification, and as far as they know, even as people were being attacked, police officers were being beaten, a person was being killed, another who died later, not making a single phone call to law enforcement, the military, or Homeland Security. Laura?
COATES: So, I mean, it's unbelievable to think about how you laid that out so methodically and fully. Tom, how long did it take Trump to actually reach the point of telling this violent mob to leave the Capitol and to go home?
FOREMAN: Well, we know that he tweeted a couple of times early on in this process about -- not early on, but during it -- about the idea of things being peaceful. He said -- he wants everyone to remain peaceful, no violence, which is ironic because it was certainly not peaceful. There was already plenty of violence.
FOREMAN: We also know that this only happened -- even this much only happened because, we were told by one of the witnesses, staff were pushing him to do something about it. Listen to the account of what happened when one staff member talked to another one who had come back to try to convince the president to put out a statement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH MATTHEWS, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: When she got back, she told me that a tweet had been sent out. And I told her that I thought the tweet did not go far enough, that I thought there needed to be a call to action and he needed to condemn the violence.
And we are in a room full of people, but people weren't paying attention. And so, she looked directly at me and in a hushed tone shared with me that the president did not want to include any sort of mention of peace in the tweet.
And that it took some convincing on their part, those who were in the room, and she said that there was a back and forth going over different phrases to find something that he was comfortable with. And it wasn't until Ivanka Trump suggested the phrase, stay peaceful, that he finally agreed to include it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: Again, this was while police officers were being beaten. It was more than three hours before he issued the video statement telling the rioter very gently to go home. And by then, witnesses note, the mon was losing steam, anyway. So, it sorts of have a bandwagon effect. Let me just jump on and say I want you to go since we are going there, anyway.
But he wasn't done even then. The video outtakes that we saw in this latest hearing of the next day when he issued a statement about the violence, he also revealed bursts of frustration in this where he clearly and openly said he did not want to admit that he lost the election, holding on to the very lie that launched this insurrection, Laura. And I have to say, what really emerged most of all, again, was a picture of somebody who was alone.
Hand-picked people, people who dedicated their careers and lives to him, reached the conclusion that he was in the wrong and this had to be stopped. But he did not. Laura?
COATES: Tom, thank you. Really unbelievable. I want to bring in Alex Holder, the documentary filmmaker who testified to the Select Committee behind closed doors and turned over hours of his footage. His three-part docuseries "Unprecedented" about the 2020 election is now available on Discovery Plus, which is owned by CNN's parent company.
Alex, thank you for being here tonight. I have to ask, when you spoke to Trump and the people around him in depth, and your team had really a front row seat to the horrific January 6 attack, so, given your inside access, I wonder what surprised you most about the committee's case knowing what you already knew.
ALEX HOLDER, DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER: So, in some ways, I think it wasn't so surprising because I had actually predicted this is going to happen the day before. I mean, this is a man who really, especially when I was watching the committee hearings yesterday, can really only be defined as just a (INAUDIBLE) bully.
I mean, this is a man who is sitting there devoid of any moral responsibility, where everyone around him is telling him to intervene while people are actually dying and being injured, and he's refusing to do anything.
And I think what the committee did so well is very difficult to show somebody not doing something because how do you put that all together? And I think they did a very good job of doing that.
At the end of the day, this is a man who came to believe in his own lies so much that he was devoid of reality, he was an irrational player, and even the people closest to him had to beg him to actually intervene and it still took him 187 minutes or whatever it was.
COATES: The only thing I wonder is, I wonder if he really did believe what he was saying or that he just wanted it to be true. There is a distinction, right, between the two.
But I want you, Alex, to check this out. Check out this video that the Select Committee actually presented of what was happening in the crowd after Donald Trump sent that 2:24 p.m. tweet. This is the one that was slamming Mike Pence about his purported lack of courage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Mike Pence will not stick up for Donald Trump! Mike Pence, traitor!
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Traitor!
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Mike Pence has screwed us. In case you haven't heard yet.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): What happened? What happened?
UNKNOWN (voice-over): I keep hearing that Mike Pence has screwed us. That's the word. I keep hearing reports that Mike Pence has screwed us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: I mean, it seemed like the rioters were really hanging on Trump's every word. You heard that same statement from Sarah Matthews, who testified, relating back to what she saw on the campaign trail and different rallies when he was the president of the United States. Is that that you also saw in your footage, this idea of the magnetism and the draw of Trump to the supporters?
HOLDER: Absolutely. It was like a religious convention in some ways. These people were so hellbent on this idea that they could intervene in this ceremonial process.
HOLDER: And they would do whatever he said because they really genuinely believed in this insanity, that he had in fact won, and that the only way of being able to prove that he had won was that they had to intervene in this process or at least hope that Mike Pence- were to come through, as he says, and stop this ceremonial count of the electoral college votes.
It was absolutely incredible, I mean, the passion that you see in these people's conviction, because at the end of the day, this wasn't a candidate saying this, this wasn't a random person, this is the incumbent preside of the United States of America who had spent the last six or seven weeks and obviously before that the last six or seven weeks just maintaining this position again and again and again that he had in fact won and that President Biden did not, and that this was -- his election had been stolen.
I mean, it was absolutely remarkable that these people genuinely believed it and they were cramming up the steps. And, in fact, in the series, we see this horrific death of one of Trump's own supporters who tragically dies because of the crushing of all the people trying to get into the Capitol. I mean, it is absolutely shocking, and it was really -- it was like a warzone.
COATES: And speaking of the idea of not -- the loss of life, I'm so glad that you continue to reiterate that there were -- it was loss of life, more than one person, whose life was taken and claimed throughout that day and also in the days after, including police officers, including civilians.
We also saw some outtakes from this speech that Trump recorded just one day after the insurrection on January 7th where he was still clinging to some of the things that he was articulating even before that. Here is a small part of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But this election is now over. Congress has certified the results. I don't want to say the election is over. I just want to say Congress has certified the results without saying the election is over, okay?
UNKNOWN (voice-over): But Congress is certifying -- now, Congress is --
TRUMP: Yeah, right.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Now, Congress is --
TRUMP: I didn't say over. So, let me see.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: I mean, who thought that "over" was a four-letter word that, you know, a dirty one at that? I know it's the O-V-E-R, but the idea of him not wanting to actually say it, to admit it, did you see something very similar when you were interviewing him, when you had your footage and doing your documentary series about this election cycle? Was he as refused -- defiant about trying to admit that the election was over?
HOLDER: Absolutely. In fact, just -- there were two really interesting points from that that I noticed. One was that even his own daughter sounds scared of him, which I found really interesting. She was quite sort of more subservient than you would expect something to be, especially if you're a daughter. And I saw that amongst people around him when I interviewed them in the White House.
In fact, when I asked him a question during the interview in the White House about -- sort of the way I phrased it was, if the election were to potentially go, even though it had already gone towards President Biden, he just could not conceptualize the idea.
Even at that point, when his own attorney general a few days earlier has said there was no evidence of whatsoever to support any of his claims, he still could not bring himself to accept that the election was over. He was furious, and you can see that play out.
What is also very interesting is that you really get an insight into who he is as a character in those fleeting moments where you see those outtakes.
And the same with the series, as well, where you see him moving the glass of water around for a minute and a half or referring to the tone of his -- the color of how he looks on camera. These are the moments where you really get an insight as to what actually is important to him. At the end of the day --
COATES: Let's play that. I want the people to see what you're talking about. I want that to be visual in people's mind, this idea of what you're talking about. Let's play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I don't think you want to have the water in the picture, right? You can take it off.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Yeah.
TRUMP: Yeah, put it over there, Nick.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): The table, as well?
TRUMP: Yeah, might as well take the table. Look good. Very good, thank you. You know what you can do, Nick?
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Sir?
TRUMP: Put the table back --
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Yes, sir.
TRUMP: -- because it's missing something. Put the table back and put the water on the table without the thing on top of it. Okay. How does that look? Go ahead, take it out. Yeah. All right.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Yeah, good.
TRUMP: Right. Let's go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: I wonder why did you choose to release this particular clip? What was the motivation? What do you hope people will see?
HOLDER: I think there is a different -- there are a few ways of looking at that clip. But for me, it sorts of completely personifies who he is as a character, because above all else, he is a showman.
HOLDER: He is the incumbent president of the United States of America spending a minute and a half moving around a glass of water in the midst of this turmoil that he had created. And I think that's what is important to him, how it looks but more than just the superficial things. He is literally micromanaging a glass of water to make it be exactly centered in the middle of a table. I thought it was extraordinary.
I'm sure others might think that actually he has attention to detail, and it was a very important thing to do. I mean, I'm open to all interpretations. For me, the way that he comes across in those candid moments is really the way that you get an insight into who he is as a character, that above all else, he's a showman and it's all about the brand and it is all about Trump.
Everything else comes second: democracy, elections, January 6th. That's all much later. For him, it's just how does he look. You know, is he asserting enough control and power? The image, the brand, he's a showman.
COATES: I mean, listening to you, all I can think of is perception is king, and along with that idea of just last night hearing testimony. I think it was from Mark Milley suggesting that Mark Meadows said, look, we have to change the narrative that Mike Pence was running the show. It's got to come from, as you articulate, the showman. Really fascinating, Alex. Thank you so much.
HOLDER: Thank you. It is a pleasure.
COATES: Seven former top officials of the U.S. Military are accusing Trump of dereliction of duty as the Capitol was attacked on January 6, writing in a powerful essay in "The New York Times" that he not only failed to restore order, but even encourage the rioters, endangering lives and America's democracy. Retired Navy Admiral Steve Abbot joins me next.
COATES: The January 6 hearings laying bear how, when the seat of American democracy was under attack, the then-commander-in-chief did nothing. How amid pleas from staffers and political allies, he refused to call off the mob. And this week, seven retired generals and admirals blasting the former president for dereliction of duty in an opinion essay in "The New York Times."
One of those authors joins me now, retired U.S. Navy Admiral Steve Abbot. Admiral, thank you for joining the program this evening. And I read your piece. It's very, very compelling. What the former president was doing and was not doing was so striking in January 6 Committee's hearing last night.
I want to listen for a moment to what they found when it came to any kind of request for assistance that day, from the military or, frankly, any top law enforcement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN (voice-over): So, are you aware of any phone call by the president of the United States to the secretary of defense that day?
PAT CIPOLLONE, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Not that I'm aware of, no.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Are you aware of any phone call by the president of the United States to the attorney general of the United States that day?
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Are you aware of any phone call by the president of the United States to the secretary of Homeland and Security that day?
CIPOLLONE: I'm not aware of that, no.
GEN. KEITH KELLOGG, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY AVISOR TO THE VP: Did you ever hear the vice president -- excuse me, the president --
KELLOGG: -- ask for the National Guard?
KELLOGG: Did you ever hear the president ask for a law enforcement response?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Well, your "Times" piece was written before last night's hearing. I wonder, admiral, I know we're having a little difficulty with your camera, what do you think now, after having seen and heard, that not a call was made ever?
I think we're having a little bit of problem still hearing the admiral as well, and I really want to hear his answer given this really thought-provoking piece. We'll take a quick break. We will regroup. We will get the admiral back on. We want to hear his insight and more about this piece. We'll be back in just a moment.
COATES: We're still working to bring back on the admiral. We really want to hear his insight this evening. And as we work on that, note that there is more news out there, including from California where their governor, Gavin Newsom, is signing a new gun safety bill. It allows citizens to sue makers and sellers of ghost guns and assault weapons which are illegal in the state of California.
And the new law is actually modelled after a Texas law which allows citizens to sue doctors and other medical professionals who provide abortion services.
For more on this, I want to bring in CNN legal analyst Areva Martin and CNN political commentator David Swerdlick. Happy Friday evening to both of you.
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hi, Laura.
COATES: I'm glad to see you both here. I'll begin with you here, David, because many Democrats have been calling for a stronger response to the GOP assault on rights like abortion, and Newsom, though, is kind of fighting fire with fire. We've heard about the idea, will this be used in other capacities? You and I have talked about this over time, as well.
But this idea, this sort of bounty laws, as they are often described, they were controversial then, they're controversial now. Is this a political move, a policy move? Is it prudent? What are your thoughts?
SWERDLICK: Laura, I think it's a little bit of everything. I think it is a policy move, it is a democratic rallying cry, it's a finger in the eye to a couple of other large Sun Belt state governors, in this case, Governor Abbott in Texas, and it's maybe the sort of undeclared start of a 2024 presidential campaign if Democrats decide to bring someone like Governor Newsom off the bench.
You and Areva are the legal eagles. I will just say here that I definitely think, and Governor Newsom has said this, that this law will be challenged on the grounds that guns generally are legal even though some are banned like ghost guns and 50 cals and, in certain situations, AR-15s in California, and that people have a Second Amendment right to own firearms.
SWERDLICK: But the premise of this law is look, if the Supreme Court can allow people to use these bounties to sue people over abortion -- providing abortion care in Texas, why can't we use it to sue manufacturers of ghost guns in California?
And the law has a provision in it that says if the Supreme Court strikes the one down, we can strike the other down, and in that way, Governor Newsom is both making a legal and policy point and also saying to Democrats, look, I'm not just going to stand around, I'm going to fight back.
COATES: Well, Areva, I'll extend his analogy about legal eagles. You are the legal eagle here. In fact, I respect you so much. There is this saying, what is good for the goose -- bring another bird here -- what is good for the goose is good for the gander. I mean, the idea here that this was almost anticipated, this was almost called immediately out when we saw the Texas law about the bounty, why wouldn't other so-called blue states do this?
In fact, I want to read you something because the ACLU put out a statement on the law, and here is some of what they said, Areva. They said, this legal framework is unsound and invalid no matter what activity it is directed at because it eviscerates basic principles of constitutional government by destroying an individual's ability to petition a court to block the state from violating a legal right.
I'm wondering from your perspective, first, is that right to you? And will these so-called bounty laws, will this really undermine, maybe fatally, the power of the judiciary to intervene and weigh in?
AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Let me start first, Laura, with -- you said Newsom basically stated. It wasn't basically stated. He was emphatic when the Supreme Court refused to strike down that Texas bounty law, that law which allows individuals to sue individuals that aide and an abet those who assist someone with getting an abortion after the six-week ban in the state of Texas.
Newsom was very clear. He invited his Democratic state legislators to send a bill to his desk that was based after that Texas law but that had to do with gun safety. And Senator Bob Hertzberg here in the state of California did just that. He sponsored this law, it made its way to Gavin Newsom's desk, and he signed it. So, he is very clear about that.
And then he went in to the state of Texas with this big ad trolling the state of Texas, saying, look, if you can protect women's
-- what you believe women's lives by banning abortion, we're going to protect the lives of citizens by preventing individuals from selling and transferring assault weapons and ghost guns in the state of California.
Now, he knows, Gavin Newsom is very smart, our attorney general in the state of California is very smart, they expect, they anticipate, they actually want a constitutional challenge to happen with respect to this bill. They want to see this bill make its way -- challenge of this bill makes its way to the Supreme Court.
And in some ways, Gavin Newsom is trolling the Supreme Court because what he is saying to the Supreme Court is, if you were willing to allow this flawed legal reasoning to let this abortion law stand in the state of Texas, then you must act consistently and allow this law to stand in California, and if you don't, shame on you, and I will call you out for the hypocrites that you are.
So, a lot of politics going on, Laura, as well as some legal -- I'll call shenanigans by governors like Governor Newsom.
COATES: I got to chuckle with the idea of consistency, Areva, and I think we all will chuckle in harmony here, if that's even a thing. Chuckling in harmony is the idea of the Supreme Court on the very case overturning Roe v. Wade.
The Dobbs decision tries to compartmentalize, and it is inconsistent and saying, hey, this fundamental rule is going to apply here and here is the base logic, but not anything else that comes from that same thing. So, I do wonder, the idea of trolling the Supreme Court on a matter of consistency, it might be sort of the exercise in futility, we will see.
David, the law also comes as states are dealing with other politically- sensitive issues like contraception --
COATES: -- who knew that would be politically sensitive after the Griswold decision but apparently it is, also voting rights. Could these types of laws fuel political battles? I mean, most likely they will, right?
SWERDLICK: Yeah, and just to Areva's point about Governor Newsom and the California legislature wanting to have a challenge at the Supreme Court so that if the Supreme Court isn't consistent in its application of constitutional principles, they can say, shame on you. That shame on you, if you twist the wording around a little bit, becomes a campaign rallying cry. It becomes an issue that obviously Governor Newsom can run on and other Democrats, if they follow his lead, can run on.
Governor Newsom has some wide-open runway right now. He won his -- he won his runoff -- excuse me, his recall challenge last year.
SWERDLICK: He's going to coast to reelection in the regular election this year. He's got that bandwidth to be able to say look, I'm going to be the fighter the Democrats need.
He's got the sort of Obama-like exterior, the tall, trim, perfect family guy out front, and he's taken on a little bit of that Elizabeth Warren, I'm going to fight, I've a plan here mode, and maybe that's a formula that will work for him individually and maybe some other Democrats will sort of imitate it as we get into the midterms and into the 2024 election cycle.
COATES: Is it important -- Areva, I'd love you to weigh in on this as well. I mean, remember that bounty law out of Texas? It was a case the Supreme Court looked at but they allowed it to go into effect anyway even though they had the Dobbs decision pending.
Now, we have the Dobbs decision now here which overturns Roe v. Wade, but they actually returned it to the state level, I believe, then flush out the constitutionality at the state level, that particular provision. So, we (INAUDIBLE) Supreme Court fully to be exhausted.
I wonder now if it will even be a part of the Supreme Court sort of consideration of these things. But as that same notion, Areva, I want you to respond to that, this is a theme, right? (INAUDIBLE) is leave it to the states, almost like bring it back to the states, go back to the states. A patchwork is going to effective here. And really, if it's always a patchwork, is it legally the United States of America under one law?
MARTIN: Well, that's a great question, Laura. Let's be clear. It's not leave it to the states when it came to that New York gun safety law that was passed --
MARTIN: -- by the state of New York. We saw the Supreme Court expand its authority and its role and, you know, strike down New York's ability to control who could open carry a gun. So, we see some inconsistency in laws as they, you know, relate to blue states versus red states.
So, on the abortion question, yes, send it back to the states and let states have this patchwork of laws to make it very difficult and very confusing for a woman, particularly women to know what they can do, whether they can even travel outside of a state where abortion is banned to go into a state where it's legal and have an abortion without that state trying to reach a cross state lines and hold it somehow criminally responsible.
But when it comes to something like the Second Amendment, which we know is important to conservatives, which we know is important to this court, the court relied on some really tenuous legal arguments to strike down that New York law.
So, I don't think we can read much into this court, Laura, other than they are conservative and every opportunity they get to rule in a way that is consistent with conservative ideology and conservative politics, they're going to do that even around contraceptives, gay marriages and --
MARTIN: -- potentially even interracial marriages. That is not off the table either. So, we should be really clear about what Clarence Thomas said in that concurring opinion, opens the door for challenges. And I think, Laura, he was inviting conservative --
SWERDLICK: Oh, yeah --
MARTIN: -- lawmakers --
SWERDLICK: Sorry, Areva.
MARTIN: -- a bill. I think he was doing the same thing Governor Newsom was doing with respect to California lawmakers. Clarence Thomas was telling those conservative lawmakers in those red states to send him a contraception lawsuit or case and send him a gay marriage case so that he can do what he did in Dobbs.
COATES: I got to say, though, I don't know what either of you are talking about. There has never been double speak in Washington, D.C. Everyone here says exactly what they mean. It's always consistent. I don't know what you guys are trying to pull here about Washington, D.C. I hope you see my sarcasm through these pink lips today. Okay? Thank you so much, everyone.
MARTIN: Something in the water in California, Laura.
COATES: Something up in the water. But in the water in New York, it makes good pizza and bagels. I don't know what is happening here, but we'll move on. That's fine. Nice to see you both.
SWERDLICK: Thanks, Laura.
COATES: Happy Friday evening.
MARTIN: All right, thank you.
COATES: We are going to have a quick break. Everyone here, we are going to get the admiral back. I definitely want to hear his insight as this really compelling and thought-provoking piece in "The New York Times" talking about the dereliction of duty, which is normally a military concept, and will a civilian commander-in-chief be held to that same standard? You'll hear his insight in just a moment.
COATES: Back now with retired U.S. Navy Admiral Steve Abbot. He was one of seven retired generals and admirals blasting the former president for dereliction of duty in an opinion essay in "The New York Times," a really thought-provoking piece.
Admiral, I'm glad you're here. I really want to get right into it because dereliction of duty is one thing, but what the committee seemed to paint was a man who was almost by his inaction wanting them to be perhaps successful by not providing help and guidance? What do you make, given this piece was written before the actual hearing, what do you make of the way this actually went down?
STEVE ABBOT, RETIRED U.S. NAVY ADMIRAL: Well, I can tell you that the hearing certainly reinforced the opinion of a group of us who got together and, of course, have been witness to what occurred after the November election.
ABBOT: And we are concerned that it was going to have a serious effect on civil and military relations, and just watching the hearings reinforce those views. We felt strongly that -- you know, the committee established two things, we thought. One is that there was a conspiracy underway that was going to overturn the will of the voters if it was successful. And the extent of that conspiracy is really not clear yet.
And the second thing is establishing that president was derelict, as you said, in his duties for failing to call off the rioters. And, as you established in the earlier piece, he certainly knew what was occurring.
We believe that he knew what his duty was and it was to call off the mob that he sent to the Capitol. And so, as you pointed out very clearly, he did nothing for three hours and, in fact, gave encouragement to them. And he could have stopped it.
COATES: Admiral, I want everyone to really read your piece because it's so thought-provoking, not only the dereliction of duty, but also the notion of what you think the military ought to be considering to safeguard against this very thing from happening again. It's available in "The New York Times." Thank you so much.
With the overturning of Roe v. Wade, many states are putting strict antiabortion laws in place. But what if I told you some of the founders in this country believed abortion ought to be a private matter? We'll talk about it, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
COATES: Legal fights playing out in more than a dozen states that the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last month. Justice Alito's premise in his majority opinion was that the Constitution can protect the right to abortion only if it is -- quote -- "deeply rooted in our history and traditions" -- unquote.
But tonight, historian Cynthia Kierner is calling that into question. She is a history professor at George Mason University, and she joins us now.
Cynthia, I'm so glad that you're here because, as you know, he wrote in his opinion that idea of the inescapable conclusion is that a right to abortion is not deeply rooted in the nation's history and traditions. There is a case from 1792 that you point to that might show how wrong that is. Tell me about it.
CYNTHIA KIERNER, HISTORY PROFESSOR, GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY: Okay, well, a while back, I wrote a book that in involved -- that revolved around scandal involving the termination of a pregnancy in an unwed woman in a very prominent Virginia family.
At the time, I was really unclear about whether it was a purposeful abortion or it was a miscarriage. I was more interested in the scandal. But I was approached by an OB/GYN, Dr. Sarah Pojy (ph), who had read my back, and with her medical knowledge, she absolutely convinced me that what happened was a purposeful abortion.
And in the current context of 2022, the interesting part about that story is really that there were all of these very prominent Virginia men, founding fathers, involved in this case.
COATES: Like Thomas Jefferson. Like Thomas Jefferson.
KIERNER: And Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, Patrick Henry. And not one of them thought that this abortion was a matter to be adjudicated in the courts, to be discussed in public or to be in any way, you know, punished.
COATES: It's fascinating because we often hear about what the founding fathers wanted and thinking about constitutional interpretation. We actually don't have a hypothetical -- we know what people like Thomas Jefferson and the like actually thought. It was a private matter. It wasn't a matter for public discourse. And so, if that's the case, is the Alito opinion fundamentally flawed?
REINER: Well, as an opinion based in history, yes, indeed, it is because, you know, in the founding era, there were no laws against abortion. The historical survey that the opinion uses to justify the idea that abortion was not -- quote-unquote -- you know, "deeply rooted in the American past" is a single case from the colony, not even state of Maryland, in the 1650s.
And then just sort of catapult ahead to the late 19th century, a century after the founding fathers were actually dead and gone to talk about state laws that were passed in that very different time period.
So, I mean, I suppose that there are perhaps moral or religious arguments that you can make against abortion, but the historical argument simply, you know, it's not factual.
COATES: Got to read your book. Thank you, professor. Nice speaking with you today. I appreciate it.
And speaking of history and, of course, what's happening now, the Russian invasion continues to upset lives in Ukraine. In fact, a third of the population has had to either flee their homes and nearly six million people have left the country.
We're featuring this week's CNN hero who's doing all she can to help.
COATES: Here's Teresa Gray.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TERESA GRAY, CNN HERO (voice-over): What we were expecting to see was large groups of people housed in tent cities, and actually they are housing these refugees in individual dorm rooms. They've got food, they've got shelter, but the trauma is the same.
(On camera): They've lost almost everything.
(Voice-over): This is filled with women, children, and elderly. There is a flu outbreak currently that obviously affects the children. We also have pre-existing conditions.
It isn't just about fixing a broken arm or giving you medicine, it's making that human connection. Sometimes you need to hold their hand and walk them down a hallway and listen to them.
(On camera): Hey, yeah.
(Voice-over): We try to meet the needs of whatever presents to us.
UNKNOWN: Smile, everybody.
GRAY (voice-over): Human suffering has no borders. People are people, and love is love.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Teresa is back in Romania, helping once again. To see her full story, go to cnnheroes.com. And while you're there, nominate someone you know to be a CNN hero.
Thanks for watching. Our coverage continues. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)