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Don Lemon Tonight
A Mix Of Stuff Seized In Mar-a-Lago; Mark Meadows Turns His E- mails And Text Messages; Serena Williams An Icon In U.S. Sports; Republicans Not Is The Same MAGA Basket; Activists Want To Ban 400 Books. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired September 02, 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: I want to bring in CNN's Sara Murray, political analyst Laura Barron-Lopez, and former assistant special Watergate prosecutor, Nick Akerman, and also, we have national security attorney Bradley Moss.
A great panel to talk about this very important issue.
I want to begin with you here, Sara, because you've been going through the inventory documents from this Mar-a-Lago search. Tell me what is standing out to you.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, certainly it's the volume, you know, they said there were 11,000 government documents that were not classified, but also when you dig into these classified documents, you have 103 classified documents. We're now learning that amounts to hundreds of pages in these documents.
But 18 of those are top secret, 54 are secret, 31 are confidential. So, all levels of classification. They're also a bunch of these empty folders. Some of them have classified markings on them. Some of them say returned to a staff secretary or a military aide.
And as you pointed out, a lot of these documents, these government documents, these classified documents are just mixed in with a whole mess of other stuff.
COATES: I don't -- I find that odd that these documents would be mixed, like some kind of a junk drawer happening, Nick, because look, some of the nation's most important secrets, potentially, and again, we don't know what is in these documents. We still don't know. We know the type of document the classification, but the fact that a document of this potential could be mixing with clothes and gifts and press clippings.
Do you see possibly an innocent explanation for this? Let's think about a benefit of the doubt. Can one be extended?
NICK AKERMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: Not at all. I mean, there is absolutely no good reason for Donald Trump to have taken any of this. I mean, there's no justification for why he'd have to use it. I mean, it just, these are documents that belong to the government. They should have been left behind. He has not come up with any justification as to why he had the right to have these documents.
He claimed at one point recently, that he declassified them, but he never made that argument in the course of two years or year and a half of wrangling back and forth with National Archives officials, DOJ officials before they finally executed the search warrant. So, it seems like that argument's just been made up after the fact. And he's come up with no explanation.
COATES: And I might add, I don't recall one being given to the judge in the most recent filing about this special master and declassification process, but, you know, you have to wonder, Bradley, when you think about this. I mean, certainly it would be easier to just have given documents back, not taken in the first place, but the idea of retaining counsel going through all this, having the back and forth, it just begs the question as to why, why fight so hard for these documents.
But I do want to point out, there are some empty folders in here, empty folders that are marked classified. And I don't know about you, but people mostly have, you probably have Manila folders somewhere in your office. Some place that's empty. This is not the typical case or office drawer for most people. We're talking about Mar-a-Lago, a former president top secret information.
The fact that they're empty files, does that mean that nothing was in them to begin with, they're being recycled, or does it mean that maybe information of a top-secret nature could actually be missing now and unaccounted for.
BRADLEY MOSS, NATIONAL SECURITY ATTORNEY: Yes. So that's certainly one of the unresolved questions here. And obviously, I believe that's something the FBI would like to know is what was originally in there and when. It certainly could be the case that when they were packing up the White House, moved everything to Mar-a-Lago, they just stuffed things into these folders that had nothing to do with classified information that they may have previously been used in that manner but we're currently being done.
But that's an unresolved issue that that has to be clarified. And the reason, you know, everybody is trying to figure out why Donald Trump would do this. Donald Trump is a notorious pack rat. He likes souvenirs. He thinks it's cool. He thinks this is stuff he can have and he can show off to friends at Mar-a-Lago and Bedminster. He has no understanding of what the security rules are or why those procedures are in place. And he's never cared to learn them.
And this is the fallout. This is what we're dealing with now, not just from a criminal perspective, possibly, but just the counter intelligence and national security one that these records were exposed to any number of people.
COATES: Look, I'm a -- I'm up to a pack as anybody else. Maybe you should call Marie Kondo start asking what questions and what documents sparked joy. I don't know his little process of things. But it sounds like what you've just described to me just now that could suggest that there -- he couldn't have formed the criminal intent, perhaps. Is that what you're saying?
That if he were to be charged and we're not there, we're not there. I don't want to get ahead of our skis. I don't know what they plan to do. But the fact that he was ignorant to the protocol and process, does that help him?
MOSS: Not really because the relevant provision that they're referencing under the Espionage Act only indicates that it matters if you are willfully retaining the documents. It's not the gross negligence or anything like that, that we thought about during the Hillary Clinton saga.
This provision simply is you took these documents to an unauthorized location and you continually -- you continued to willfully retain them despite the fact you were supposed to turn them back over. And given the additional information we have about potential obstruction that's what puts them in criminal liability.
COATES: Interesting about that fact. Now let me turn to you Laura, because I just love your name, Laura. And I want to ask you about the -- about the implications here politically as well. I mean, do all of the developments that we're talking about. I mean, tying Trump possibly to the mishandling at least the possession and his counsel has, essentially confirmed that yes, he had them there. They may have been like overdue library books. What does all this mean politically? Because I have to wonder much like, January 6th hearings are Republicans following along?
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Republicans seem to be rallying around at least a strong faction of Republicans rallying around the former president. But politically, you would have to think that this would harm Republicans running in swing states across the country.
Simply because of the fact we saw what happened in 2020 where a lot of independents and a number of swing voters decided to vote with President Biden because, you know, I was in Arizona and they were turned off by the nonstop negativity, the nonstop accusations that Trump would hurl.
And we saw that this FBI investigation so far, and the fact that they searched his Florida residents has only turned Trump into what he used to be in terms of just constantly on Truth Social. This week alone in the span of some 24 hours he was sharing Truth Social users who were QAnon adherence, their posts.
He was also saying that he should be declared the rightful winner of the 2020 election. And that if he wasn't, there should be another election immediately held. And so, he's constantly on his own social media site right now, which is being amplified across Republican circles. And that's something that a lot of voters, when you talk to them in these states, if they are swing voters, they aren't happy with that and they don't like to see that he's out there still making those bombastic claims about the election.
COATES: Well, you know, who is amplifying a message, Laura? This is the former attorney general Bill Barr, and I want to play for everyone what he said about the Mar-a-Lago investigation on Fox News. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM BARR, FORMER UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: Let me just say, I think the driver on this from the beginning was the, was, you know, loads of classified information sitting in Mar-a-Lago. People say this was unprecedented. Well, it's also unprecedented for a president to take all this classified information and put him in a country club. OK?
And how long is the government going to try to get that back? You know, they jawbone for a year. They were deceived on the voluntary actions taken. They then went and got a subpoena. They were deceived on that, they feel, and the rec -- the facts are starting to show that they were being jerked around. And so, how long, you know, how long did they wait.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: You know, Nick, I want to come back to you on one moment on this point, but Laura, on your -- on your end, I mean, the fact that Bill Barr is coming out pretty forcefully against Trump on Fox News I wonder what message this might send.
Keep in mind, as we all know, this is somebody who's written a book who has not necessarily going to be invited to Thanksgiving dinner of the former president. They are essentially persona non grata to one another, but how does this come across politically?
BARRON-LOPEZ: Well, there have been a lot of, I shouldn't say a lot, there have been a number of Republicans similar to Bill Barr who are part of more of the establishment Republican Party who have been trying to caution against rallying to Trump's side in wake of the Mar- a-Lago search.
They've tried to say that there is a lot of information that we don't know here, including potentially how extensive this breach was. How many people, you know, potentially had access to these documents. Was it a small handful? Was it a lot of people given that we know a number of people circulate through Mar-a-Lago on a daily basis. Who exactly got their hands on this information?
And the fact that there was classified information right next to non- classified, you know, the intel officials and former intel officials I talk to say that's just a 101 no, no that they're not supposed to be put together at any point.
COATES: I mean, Nick, to the point that attorney Barr made as well, I mean, he called it jawboning, right? This idea of this constant back and forth, there has been a tremendous amount of difference let's just say to the former president to have a back and forth to try to negotiate, it seems the terms of returning what is supposed to be the property of the government.
They have allowed Trump to stall and to hand over bits and pieces of information at a time. And some of the common-sense thoughts here, I mean, during all the waiting, I mean, what if team Trump just made copies of the classified documents? What if they handed things over? Could there just be assurances that they had essentially been cooperative in a way that would satisfy the government and the archives?
AKERMAN: Well, look, we know that they weren't cooperative. We knew at the end of the day when the government finally gave them a search warrant, that the government realized they weren't cooperative, they had somebody who was an insider who was basically telling the FBI what was going on. They knew where to search for these documents. A lot of them, I mean, a good portion of these documents were found in Donald Trump's own office.
So, this was a matter that they bent over backwards. They gave him the benefit of the doubt in the initial stage. They gave him a search warrant. They gave him the subpoena to try and get the documents. And then they learned that basically, they had been, as put it as Bill Barr said, jerked around. And that's why they went in with the search warrant.
And on top of all that, I mean, Donald Trump, since the day of that search warrant has just continuously shot himself in the foot. First of all, announcing the fact that there was a search warrant and then continuously trying to get more information, which has just made him look worse and worse.
So, this has been a colossal political and legal failure for him, whether he gets the special master or not, all of this information has come out because Donald Trump basically asked for it.
COATES: There has been a series of self-inflicted wound and from the legal counsel perspective as well, Bradley, right, they are in part entangled in a way that having previously certified and attested that everything was complete, they handed over everything. They had searched things. You have to wonder at what point in time that will come up.
But we're also standing by, to Nick's point, and what Sara made earlier that we're waiting to hear whether Trump will actually get the special master that he wants to go over the Mar-a-Lago documents. Frankly, it could happen at any moment. And to this point, I mean, let me just tell you, Chatty Cathy, Bill Barr said a lot today on Fox News. He even said this about the special master.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARR: I think that the whole idea of a special master is a bit of a red herring at this stage, since they've already gone through the documents, I think it's a waste of time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Then he also spoke with the New York Times tonight and he had this quote, "calling Trump's request a crock of," well, it wasn't sugar. Do you agree?
MOSS: Yes. You know, look, pigs must be able to fly because I agree with bill BARR on something. Yes, the special counsel, I'm sorry. The special master issue is a total red herring. If for no other reason, then the majority of the records, as Bill Barr himself noted, even if they are covered by executive privilege and that seems to be a pretty far stretch, are still government records.
They belong to the government, not to Donald Trump. They belong in the archives where they're supposed to be documented and sorted and logged for potential future use for historical reasons. You know, presidential library if Donald Trump wanted to build one. They're not his personal records, they're not souvenirs.
So yes, we're wait -- everybody is waiting for this ruling from the judge. But remember, every day that passes, every hour that passes without an injunction from that judge to stop the FBI, they're still processing what they got and they're still doing their work and nothing else is getting in the way of that.
COATES: A good point. I mean, the idea of time is of the essence hasn't seen to lighting a fire. I don't know what she's doing right now in terms of deciding the issue, but you're right. Every day there has not been a ruling. DOJ hasn't stopped waiting for that ruling to come in.
Sara, we're also learning tonight that the -- that after the Mar-a- Lago search Mark Meadows turned over text messages and e-mails, is there a correlation?
MURRAY: That's right. He turned these over to the National Archives, and essentially the archives learned that they didn't have everything from Mark Meadows because they started to see the stuff that he had provided to the January 6th committee. And so that set this off. And the Meadows situation is different because these are not classified documents. He is not in the same position the former president is in. And the archives do see him as a cooperative witness.
But the timing is interesting. It's awkward. You know, one source told my colleagues who were working on this story that, you know, this has absolutely nothing to do with the timing of the Mar-a-Lago search. That all of a sudden, he has all these documents hand over. But another source said, look, all of a sudden, the week of this Mar-a- lago search we start getting way more documents than we had been getting for.
COATES: Coincidences, you got to love him on a Friday night after there's been a search of Mar-a-Lago for Mark Meadows. Interesting. Who knows if it was -- it was coordinated or not. More on this in a moment, everyone. And hey, stand by. Thank you to see you all. Sara, Laura, Nick, and Bradley, always nice to see you all on this evening. And hey, listen, while we're waiting for that special master news,
we're also getting the very latest on Serena Williams. That's up next.
COATES: Well, President Joe Biden is defending his primetime speech on the dangers to democracy. To remind you, here's what he said a little earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I don't consider any Trump support there to be a threat to the country. I do think anyone who calls for the use of violence fails to contend violence when it's used, refuses to acknowledge when election has been won, insists upon changing the way in which the rules you can't vote, that is a threat to democracy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: I want to bring in CNN senior political analyst, Ron Brownstein, and also Mark McKinnon. He's a former advisor to George W. Bush and John McCain, an executive producer of the Circus.
Let's start with you here, Ron. President Biden, he's trying to draw the battle lines for the midterms. He's more forceful than he has been in recent times, essentially saying, look, you're either for democracy or you're against it. It's an all or nothing. I'm wondering what you make of this being a potentially successful strategy come this November.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, I think it's really important the line that you noted that he drew. When you're the president you have to be careful when you're talking about large groups of people.
But he went over, and again, to make clear that he was not talking about all Republicans and as to one point he said, even most Republicans. I think the polling is questionable on that assertion, but he was isolating the Trump movement. And I think it is very hard to ignore the reality that there is an authoritarian strain within the Trump movement that is part of the Republican Party.
And the reaction to this by so many Republicans and conservatives to say, well, he's smearing all 74 million people who voted for Donald Trump. I think actually underscores the vulnerability here because we do know from polling that there is something between a fifth and a quarter of Republican voters who are uneasy with everything Donald Trump has done since the election who do see him having responsibility for January 6th, who are worried about the root, you know, the kind of normalization of political violence. And the, you know, one of the key questions for November is can Democrats sustain the games they made in '18 and '20 in white collar suburbs among voters who usually leaned Republican in the past. And there's evidence that they are, and it may not be specifically because of democracy, but it is, I think, related to the reemergence of Donald Trump as inter central figure in our political debate.
COATES: I mean, you could look at Congresswoman Liz Cheney as an example of there being a spectrum --
COATES: -- shall we say, in the Republican Party. There's also a spectrum in the Democratic Party. There is not the monolith even we're talking about partisanship.
Let me ask you this, Mark. I mean, Republicans are slamming Biden's speech for many of the reasons that, you know, Ron is articulated and that it's divisive, that it's political. But I mean the de facto leader of the Republican Party, one named Donald Trump is embracing the people who stormed the capitol in part, right?
Talking about maybe even pardoning those who may be prosecuted and convicted. I wonder in this overall scheme of things, it appears to be this identity crisis, not one from within, but one of how they're being perceived. Do you think that the GOP has come to terms with what party they have become at least in the eyes of many of voters?
MARK MCKINNON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think Ron put a fine point on it, which is what's happening. And what is effective about what Joe Biden is doing is that he is confronting the entire Republican Party with an inconvenient truth.
Now there's a good portion of that party, which we know of course will embrace the inconvenient. I mean, we'll deny the inconvenient truth and because they believe anything Donald Trump tells them. But there's a portion of that electorate. They know. They know. And they just -- they've been putting up with it, but they've just been hoping that Trump would go away and that all things would be OK.
And it started to look that way earlier the summer that they had good issues to run on. Trump had receded from the screen, but now Trump is back full screen. And I think very effectively is saying, listen, you either confront the truth and deny Donald Trump, or you are embracing the lie.
COATES: You know, interesting --
MCKINNON: (Inaudible) There's not a lot, but enough.
COATES: I mean, to your point, I remember so well to bring her up again, Congresswoman Liz Cheney when she repeated nearly every single hearing date that she would talk about the truth is not going to be, you know, one that maybe you want to accept that you've been lied to, et cetera. She would try to ease into this very notion on these things.
Ron, I mean, obviously, as you know, Mark talked about. Neither of, neither Biden nor Trump are actually on the ballot in about 60 some odd days, but are this midterm shaping up to be really about the two men who are not on the ballot, Biden and Trump, and if that's the case, which one has the advantage.
BROWNSTEIN: Well, that that's really interesting. I mean, you know, traditionally, midterms have been solely a referendum on the party in power and the critical variable in the midterm has been the approval rating of the incumbent president. But this is evolving. There is no question that the landscape looks very different now than it did earlier this summer.
And it is becoming much more of a choice. Donald Trump's visibility, the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe V., the massacre in Texas, the climate change bill that Democrats pass. All of those things, I think combined have created an environment in which the issue is not solely what Democrats have done or not done over the past at 18 months. But what Republicans would do if returned the power.
And the other thing, Laura, that's happened that's important, is that over the summer there's been an unequivocal demonstration that the Trump faction is the largest faction and the dominant faction in the Republican Party. It's been nominating election deniers, you know, all over the place, Arizona, Nevada, Michigan, Pennsylvania, et cetera.
And so that's really forced, I think point, you know, put a fine point on the choice facing the Republican voters.
That one quarter to one fifth to one quarter who are uneasy with all of this, do they want to stay at this point in a coalition where they are clearly the subordinate minority and are faced with, supporting candidates who are enabling Trump's lies and anti-Democratic actions.
COATES: I mean, Mark, I see you nodding, but I also wonder, I mean, what's the alternative. If the idea is, and Ron is correct that this is a very large faction and a very large, or majority of this party. What is the choice then? That there becomes a new Republican Party or there reverts back to a certain win? What -- what's the next step then?
MCKINNON: Well, God, I hope so. I mean, Republicans like me or have been on an island for a while and we can only cheer for people like Liz Cheney who stands up for truth and democracy and hope that that coalition begins to build itself and that the party rebuild itself, because we can't condone the lies that continue to be embraced by the MAGA faction of the Republican Party as currently governed by the ex- president.
COATES: You know, it's important to think about where sort of the where to and the what's next on this. And obviously we're all looking ahead to those midterm elections and what's going to happen. And of course, there's the midterm elections as you know. Then there is the 2024 election, and we're all waiting with bated breath to figure out who will actually be the RNC nominee, let alone the candidates running for it.
So, the identity crisis we're talking about, whether it's a Democratic Party or Republican Party, it'll all flush out pretty soon. At least we hope.
BROWNSTEIN: Can I have one thing real fast?
COATES: Of course.
BROWNSTEIN: In terms of your point. something very unusual is happening in this midterm election. You know, there were five states that went from Trump in 2016 to Biden in 2020. They are essentially the states that elected Trump -- elected Biden. Arizona and Georgia, and the sunbelt, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and the rust belt.
And all five of those states, you have hand-selected Republican nominees, basically chosen by Trump running for Senate or governor or both. And it will be a very interesting question whether there are any Republicans, if those candidates don't do well in November, are there any Republicans willing to get up and say, look, we've just gotten a signal from the states at the tipping point of the election that the Trump direction is not a winning strategy in these -- in these states.
Or is his hold so impregnable that no Republicans are really able or willing to acknowledge what could be an important signal from the electorate if these Trump selected nominees fall short in a year that's supposed to be tilted toward Republicans.
COATES: We will see. I'm waiting for the answers to that question as we all are.
Thank you, gentlemen. Nice to see both of you.
BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.
COATES: And now to update you on a story that we reported on last night on this program, it was about the shooting of Donovan Lewis in Columbus, Ohio. This program showed a graphic after that story aired that made it seem that Casey Goodson, Jr. was shot by an officer from the Columbus Police Department. He was not. Casey Goodson, Jr. was shot by a deputy from the Franklin County sheriff's department. We apologize for any confusion that may have cause.
Serena Williams, everyone, falling in the third round at the U.S. Open. We'll look at the match and her extraordinary legacy, next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COATES: Serena Williams, the 23-time Grand Slam singles champion
considered by many to be the greatest of all time. Played what likely is the final professional tennis match of her career, losing in the third round of the U.S. Open just moments ago.
But like Michael Jordan said, you know, I never actually lost a game. I just ran out of time. Well, perhaps her time has come to an end, but she is an icon nonetheless on and off the court.
I want to bring in Robin Givhan, who is a senior critic-at-large at the Washington Post. So glad to see you here tonight.
I can't help, but smile thinking about the career of Serena Williams. She is my contemporary, and I think about watching her for all of these years. And frankly, Robin, she made such a remarkable comeback this week. That was an amazing match. I mean, her energy, the crowd just loves her.
What did you think of her performance this evening and not even that, what do you think of the career that she has had?
ROBIN GIVHAN, SENIOR CRITIC-AT-LARGE, WASHINGTON POST: Well, you know, I mean her performance this evening was extraordinary. I mean, she is a mesmerizing athlete, but, you know, I'll leave the sort of sports analysis to the experts. And you know, I'll just say that I think that, you know, part of the magic of Serena is that she certainly transcended tennis. She transcended sports.
I thought it was really significant that she decided to talk about her evolving as she put it away from tennis, not in a sports publication, but in a fashion magazine in Vogue. And part of that I think is because one, she loves fashion. She is passionate about it, but it's also a place that, you know, under the best of circumstances really sort of shines a light on the broad spectrum of women's interests, their desires, their power, their passion, their expertise.
And I think it was sort of a signal, to the world that she considers herself to be this fully three-dimensional person who is more than an athlete.
COATES: Yes. Just thinking about that. And as you say, I mean, that beautiful picture of her covering the gracing the cover of Vogue. I remember there, if you look a little bit farther, I think her daughter may be holding on at one end of that dress at one point as well. It's a beautiful photograph. And this is where she talked about that evolution.
And as you put it so well, Robin, so often we pigeonhole as a society, we decide who you are supposed to be. And it is the rare breed, the rare exception of those who are able and forthright under the enormous pressure, someone like her is under to say, I will chart my own course unapologetically.
And I think about that when I think about Serena Williams and what her and her sister endured quite early on in her career for what you're talking about. I mean, we call it fashion today, but at the time I remember being around her age and people were poking fun about her hair. They were talking about her body. They were talking about their clothing type. Who can forget the black cat suit, the grunts on the court by people.
All of this came into this unapologetic notion that as she said, two nights ago, I'm just Serena.
GIVHAN: Yes, I mean, she brought her entire self to the public stage. And while I think often people want to sort of trivialize what fashion is, fundamentally it really is about how we want to be seen on the public stage. It's how we want to define ourselves and how we want others to see us.
And she was very vocal through her presence that she wanted to be seen as a black woman in all that that entails. You know, people talk about, you know, those beads that she wore in her hair early on. I mean, that was very much, you know, sort of, not part of a Eurocentric beauty standard. And she wasn't bullied out of that.
And I used that term very intentionally, bully, because the fashion industry, the style industry, the beauty world, the culture at large can, you know, be very bullying about the way that it believes people should look to be acceptable, to be considered valuable. And she proved that her value, her worth without changing her sensibility.
And the other thing that I think is also important is that, you know, at the time that she was sort of coming into her own as a public figure, it was, you know, it was an enormous leap to be that confident. You know, fashion has a way of sort of putting people into -- through a thrasher almost, and it polishes off their rough edges and she didn't allow that to happen.
COATES: And I'm glad she didn't. And of course, what she showcased was her extraordinary talent. And I'm looking forward to the evolution of the other talents that she has already cultivated and will continue to display. And, you know, I heard a lot of commentaries throughout these matches saying, my gosh, keep in mind, this is a mother on this court.
And I couldn't help but laugh every time and go, no, we know. Yes, she's a mother and of course we saw her daughter court side as well for these matches, you know, what we call fashion and think about it.
Look at her, there she is of that picture of her daughter watching her, her own mother and thinking about that all those years away. I can't wait to see what she pursues in her next chapter. Robin, so nice to see. Thank you.
GIVHAN: Thank you so much.
COATES: Now it was once called the best small library in America. Now an Idaho library is struggling to survive as armed activists push for it to ban more than 400 books.
Now here's the thing. It hasn't actually stacked those books. We'll take you there, next.
COATES: A battle is taking place in one small community in northern Idaho. Christian activists are demanding that more than 400 books be banned from the library, but not one of the books on their list is even on the shelves. The battle is a microcosm of an even bigger one that's brewing and it's prompting liberals and conservatives to join together to fight back.
More tonight from CNN's Nick Watt.
NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Five years ago, this was anointed the best small library in America. Today, the trustees are facing a recall.
UNKNOWN: What I hate to see is my community torn apart like this.
WATT: The director just resigned.
Do you feel that you've given in that you've been defeated here that --
KIMBER GLIDDEN, DIRECTOR, BOUNDARY COUNTY LIBRARY: Part of me does. Yes. But they start showing up at your house, guns on their hips and bible tracks in their hands.
WATT: Activists demanding that the library ban more than 400 books like "Gender Queer."
UNKNOWN: Even if we do nothing to you, eventually if you don't repent of wanting to harm our children with pornography, that's up to God.
UNKNOWN: Things need to change. Otherwise, you bring curses upon yourselves. Period. From the most high.
WATT: Are any of those books in the library?
GLIDDEN: Not a single one.
WATT: Still this little library might not survive.
GLIDDEN: Our insurer has decided to non-renew for what they're saying is increased risk exposure. We can't operate without insurance.
WATT: We bumped into one of the people pushing the recall, taking out books to see if they should also be banned.
UNKNOWN: If I take someone else's word that's not good, right?
UNKNOWN: There you go. Exactly.
WATT: She refused to talk to us. In fact, everyone on that side of the argument we reached out to refused to talk to us, but one of them did explain her motivation at a library board meeting. They are now held here because so many people were showing up to the meetings. So many of them were armed that they moved the library board meetings to a bigger building that is also right next to the sheriff's department.
Here is that one woman's motivation.
UNKNOWN: My job is to protect our kids from sexual deviance, who will be drawn to our library if inappropriate sexual material is on our library shelves and using our kids as prey.
WATT: This week, we showed up with our cameras to a board meeting.
UNKNOWN: It was wonderful to not be like attacked.
WATT: And the would-be book banners did not.
UNKNOWN: Here's to boring meetings.
GLIDDEN: So, what is going on, Nick, is there is a group of individuals that are moving into the area who are, they have the intent of turning this into what they call the American redoubt.
WATT: Coined back in 2011 by a Christian survivalist, the American Redoubt, a refuge for self-described God-fearing, liberty-loving patriots.
This store opened recently owned by a pastor who moved up from California. Here's how he described it back in 2015.
WARREN CAMPBELL, PASTOR: If we will put him first, blessed will be the Redoubt. By God's grace we trust that the Redoubt we won't see the homosexuality and rampant lesbianism that we see in California.
WATT: There are now so many want to be redoubters, some realtors cater to them. One has this ad on its web site.
UNKNOWN: In the days of old, the men would lead, women would nurture.
WATT: The Aryan Nations for a long time they were headquartered in this part of Idaho, they had a similar plan but for a whites-only homeland up here. Many locals fought against that. Today, many locals are fighting against the redoubters and the book banners.
BILLIE JO KLANIECKI, BOUNDARY COUNTY RESIDENT: They've been going to library board meetings. And yelling and screaming at people. And we're here being very quiet and very polite. We're having a read-in in support of the library.
WATT: The resistance here in Bonners Ferry is a coalition of liberals and conservatives. This is a pretty conservative.
FMR. MAYOR DARRELL KERBY, BONNERS FERRY: Very conservative. WATT: Christian community.
KERBY: Very soul.
WATT: And a lot of people here voted for President Trump.
KERBY: Very much so.
WATT: Most folks around here voted for Trump in 2016, even more voted for him in 2020. But --
KERBY: This goes beyond any conservatism and into almost Nazi-ism where they're trying to force their own ideas and their own religious concepts on everybody else. That's not America.
WATT: We spoke to the former mayor, you know, who voted for Trump and he's on the same side as liberal people here.
VALERIE THOMPSON, CITY COUNCIL MEMBER, BONNERS FERRY, IDAHO: Well, of course, yes, we're neighbors.
WATT: City Councilwoman Val Thompson's family has been here five generations.
THOMPSON: One of my friends had somebody tell him the other day that the American Redoubt is here and it might be time for you to exit.
WATT: There are politicians like this running and winning.
UNKNOWN: I'm talking about really raunchy stuff in these kids' books for seven-year-olds. Hopefully you have secured your local elections. You need a good sheriff and you need three county commissioners.
WATT: There are claims that critical race theory is being taught in schools. And --
GLIDDEN: And we had one mom come in and say, this has Black Lives Matter themes.
WATT: Did it?
GLIDDEN: It, well, to a fairytale by Chris Colfer. So, it probably has, you know, people of color in the book.
WATT: On that list of books that was given to the library, I saw "Who Was Frederick Douglass."
WATT: Why is that an issue?
THOMPSON: Well, I haven't read "Who Was Frederick Douglass." But I'm assuming that there was something in it that was offensive or made somebody feel guilty for being white. I have no idea.
WATT: As I've said, it's not in the library. Neither is "Gender Queer," but --
LEE COLSON, TRUSTEE, BOUNDARY COUNTY LIBRARY BOARD: The conflict is that I cannot say we will not get them because if we're a library, if the public comes and requests those books, we will get those books. That's, that's what we do.
WATT: They say they are not censors that this library must serve everyone.
WATT: So, Laura, the lady you just saw in that report, taking out books to see if they should be banned and refusing to talk to us. Well, this morning, she wrote a letter to a bunch of local law enforcement to the state attorney general, basically accusing the library director and her supporters of trying to silence them, ignoring them and lying to the press. And alleging that there's some kind of cozy relationship between local law enforcement and the library supporters.
So, asking an outside agency to come in to investigate. Battle lines are drawn. This is far from over, Laura,
COATES: Nick Watt, thanks. We'll be right back.
COATES: As the pandemic caused many restaurants to shutter and workers to go without paychecks, this CNN hero refused to let her community go hungry. Even though chef Kim Calichio was also out of work, she continued doing what she does best.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIM CALICHIO, CHEF: I had a choice to either sit here in my house and be overwhelmed, or I can do whatever it is that I could possibly do without thinking about whether it's going to work or not.
We're going to do two apples, the bunch of bananas, two tomatoes.
We started a GoFundMe to direct deliver groceries to families across Queens.
And then these guys.
And within a week we raised $10,000. We thought the pandemic was going to be over in two weeks. So, we were like, we'll spend this 10 grand and then we'll go back to work. And that never happened.
Ola, Luiz. The first week we delivered 25 grocery packages to 25 families. And within a month's time we were delivering four to 500 groceries to families every single.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: To see Kim's operation in action, go to cnnheroes.com.
Thanks for watching. Our coverage continues.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. I'm Anderson Cooper.
It's been two and a half months since a gunman murdered 19 children and two teachers in Robb Elementary school and wounded many others.