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Attorney General Taps Special Counsel To Oversee Trump Probes; Democrats Warm To Biden 2024 Run, But Are Wary Of Non-Trump Opponent; U.S. Men's Team Plays First World Cup Match Since 2014. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired November 21, 2022 - 07:30   ET



ALBERTO GONZALES, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL (via Webex by Cisco): Garland said. So, yes, I think this was the right decision and came at the appropriate time.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: That's a really important thing to highlight given Trump's reaction. You know, I talk to people in Trump's orbit and they said that they pretty much knew that this was likely going to happen if he did announce that run on Tuesday night -- so not unexpected for them.

I do wonder, though, because Jack Smith has got a complicated task ahead of him now when he's dealing with what he's overseeing. Because it's the Mar-a-Lago documents investigation but also aspects of the January 6 investigation.

You know, how complicated is his role going to be looking at those two things?

GONZALES: Well, they're different and they're distinct -- no question about it. He's got the benefit of a lot of the work has already been done, in part by the Department of Justice and the January 6 committee with respect to the January 6 investigation. So there's already been a lot of work done.

It's a much more -- it's a more complicated case in my judgment. The Mar-a-Lago case is much more straightforward. Now the question of whether or not President Trump improperly removed documents and, particularly, classified documents, and have them in possession in Florida. And to me, it's a much more straightforward case -- a much easier case to prosecute and present to a jury than perhaps a January 6 case.

But -- so, clearly, these are distinct cases. Obviously, there are complications in both. But this is a very experienced prosecutor and he'll be well-supported, well-staffed. And by all accounts, he'll move these two prosecutions forward and hopefully, we'll have some action and some decisions sometime in the very immediate future.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Attorney General, thanks very much for being with us. If we could also talk about The New York Times piece that published over the weekend about an alleged leak in 2014 of the Supreme Court's decision on contraception -- the Hobby Lobby case -- very well-known -- a majority opinion written by Justice Alito.

This person who is an evangelical and anti-abortion activist told the Time that they found -- they were told about it by a donor. Now, Alito says that is quote "completely false" and he released a long statement to the Times.

I understand you wouldn't have inside knowledge about this but I do -- I do wonder what questions this raises for you, especially following the leak of the Dobbs decision earlier this year, also written by Alito.

GONZALES: Yes. I think that the timing probably couldn't be -- couldn't be worse. There's already a great deal of concern about the legitimacy of the court, the role of the court. And so the timing is not very good.

You need to be careful -- being a former justice in Texas -- careful about who you speak to with respect to any decision, even after the decision is rendered. Sometimes you don't want to talk about the discussions that occur in conference, for example.

So it just comes at a very bad time. The question -- the timing is interesting -- eight -- I guess eight years after the fact. Why is it being -- why are we just now hearing about this?

But the notion that perhaps Alito may have been influenced by conversations with outside folks is troubling.


GONZALES: The court already, from my understanding, is -- the reputation is at a historic low. And so this certainly doesn't help that.

HARLOW: So I just have a follow-up with that. I wonder if you think -- I mean, you were a former justice in Texas. There is actually no written code of ethics for the Supreme Court justices at this point. Kaitlan pointed out to me right -- that there is a proposal of such pending in Congress.

Is that needed at this point?

GONZALES: I don't -- you know, I -- whether it's needed or not, you have to ask yourself why isn't there one? I mean, I -- if I'm on the court -- I mean, every other judge is subject to a code of ethics. And so, why the court doesn't impose one on itself is really kind of interesting.

And what is the explanation for it? I think the standard explanation is well, our ethics are scrutinized through our confirmation -- through the confirmation process. Well, you know, to a degree that's true but obviously, over a period of time, people's conduct may change, their baggage may change. And so, having a code of ethics, to me, sets a great example for the entire judiciary and would help reassure the people about the -- about the integrity and the independence of the justices.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: If I can just quickly get back to something that you -- follow up on something that you mentioned and you talked about the legitimacy of the court. It is in peril. So I'm wondering the people who are sitting at home watching -- because this is really about the American people -- how should they feel about this, especially at a time when the legitimacy of the court is in peril?

GONZALES: Well look, it's really kind of interesting. I think that if you're a justice on the court you have an obligation to interpret the Constitution in the way that you deem is right and is fair. And understand that some people are going to be unhappy about it.


I think where a lot of people have questions about the Dobbs decision is that it was like a sledgehammer -- bam. Some -- even those who wanted to overrule Roe, I think were all surprised by it and no one had an opportunity to prepare for it.

And so, I think that one of the things I've always admired about Chief Justice Roberts -- and this is (INAUDIBLE) of Sandra Day O'Connor -- is this notion of incrementalism.


GONZALES: You make (INAUDIBLE) to the Constitution and how it affects people's lives incrementally. And I think that the reaction to Dobbs reflects the fact that people were so surprised and taken aback by the suddenness of that decision.

HARLOW: That's a great point and that's why Roberts wrote separately in the Dobbs opinion to say look, here's what I -- what I would have done.

We really appreciate your perspective on both of these really important developments. Thank you, Attorney General Gonzales.

LEMON: Thank you.

GONZALES: Thanks for having me.

HARLOW: Next, new CNN reporting. Democrats are embracing the idea of President Biden running for president again in 2024. But here is the interesting part of the reporting -- there is a big if. We'll explain.

LEMON: Yes, and it always goes back to the other guy, so that's part of it.

Plus, parent activists angry about masking and race lessons now sitting on the school boards that they were recently slamming. You're going to hear from them. That's next.



HARLOW: We have new CNN reporting for you this morning. For the past two weeks, Democrats are more confident that President Biden would be their best bet to beat Trump in '24. Of course, that's assuming he's the nominee. That is according to conversations of 24 Democratic- elected officials and top operatives, and White House aides. Instead, Democrats are more worried about a non-Trump opponent.

Asked how they would feel about Biden's chances against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis or other Republicans who could make a generational argument without bringing Trump's baggage, one operative said, quote, "Not great." Another said, quote, "Uneasy."

Let's bring in our colleague, CNN senior reporter Isaac Dovere. Isaac, this is fascinating -- great reporting. And it's really telling, right, because there is no guarantee that Trump would be the nominee.

What have you learned?

ISAAC DOVERE, CNN SENIOR REPORTER: There's no guarantee at all. And, in fact, what you see is a lot of Democrats getting a kick out of the initial reception that Trump's announcement last week has gotten from Republicans, which is people saying that they are not really interested in him running -- a lot of elected officials on the Republican side. And so, Democrats get a kick out of that.

What they then think is uh-oh, does that mean that we're going to get another Republican -- someone who would be younger, who would be fresher than Donald Trump, and what would that matchup look like? And that leads to a lot of questions about where they should go.

But when President Biden and other people around him look at the results of the midterms they say this is another stamp of approval from the voters saying they like what Joe Biden is doing. They like who he is.

You see Roy Cooper, the governor of North Carolina, saying to me that it's not about favorability ratings but that Democrats need to look at voters responding to what Democrats did -- what they got done.

And yet, you still have people like Congresswoman Annie Kuster from New Hampshire, who said to me that she's still in a wait-and-see period. She doesn't know. She's not ready to commit to Joe Biden running for reelection and saying that's a good idea.

COLLINS: Well -- and we're waiting to hear from Biden himself on this. But obviously, as you report, another factor of this conversation is who the GOP nominee is going to be.

Something that stuck out to me over the weekend was Nikki Haley -- of course, the former U.S. --

DOVERE: Yes. COLLINS: -- ambassador to the United Nations under Trump -- said last year she was not going to run for president if her former boss ran. Of course, now we know he is going to be running. This is what she said over the weekend, though, about how her mindset has changed.


NIKKI HALEY, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Happy birthday, Mr. President, but it's time for a younger generation to lead across the board.

A lot of people have asked if I'm going to run for president. Now that the midterms are over I'll look at it in a serious way and I'll have more to say soon.

For now, I'll say this. I've won tough primaries and tough general elections. I've been the underdog every single time. When people underestimate me it's always fun. But I've never lost an election and I'm not going to start now.


COLLINS: A notable add there at the end -- "I've never lost an election."

DOVERE: Yes. And look, on the one hand, that's the kind of contrast that Democrats would be worried about up against Joe Biden.

On the other hand, when you talk to people who are in the White House around the president, talking to him, what they say is look, every -- it didn't -- it wasn't Donald Trump who lost the elections and the midterms this month, it was a lot of Republicans who they were able, as Democrats, to link to Donald Trump and to say they're just as extreme but they don't come with maybe the charisma and appeal that Donald Trump has to his base.

So when they look at the situation they say go ahead, Nikki Haley -- maybe not specifically to her but to any of these candidates -- try to distance yourself from Donald Trump when Haley was Trump's U.N. ambassador, when she has defended him at a number of different points over the course of the last few years, that it will be hard to say to the voters she's very different -- or any of these Republicans who have are very different from Donald Trump.

COLLINS: Yes. She said she feels like she's been underestimated though and not to count her out.

Isaac, thank you for that great reporting.

DOVERE: Thank you.

LEMON: So, with the Republicans set to take control of the House next year, GOP leader Kevin McCarthy says investigating how the Biden administration has dealt with parents and school boards -- that's going to be a key priority for them. So last year, parent activists who were upset about how issues like masking, critical race theory, and gender identity were addressed, they made waves at local school board meetings. And that inspired conservatives to run for and win seats in local school board -- school board elections this year, including April Carney.


April Carney spoke to CNN's Audie Cornish about why she was motivated to run. Here it is.


APRIL CARNEY, MEMBER, DUVAL COUNTY FLORIDA SCHOOL BOARD: We need more critical thinking. We need to be teaching our kids to think for themselves and to have their own opinions, and we need to be supportive of that.

AUDIE CORNISH, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT, "THE ASSIGNMENT WITH AUDIE CORNISH": Unless a parent thinks it's inappropriate, then they can make a phone call to a tip line, right, and say I didn't like the way that went down.

CARNEY: Well, and that's a discussion to be had between the school board and the parent. But we need to be having these discussions and it needs to happen. And it's uncomfortable but we need to be having discussions. I welcome parents' commentary. We have to be able to listen to one another so that we can come together. It's the only way it's ever going to happen.


LEMON: So joining us now, anchor -- CNN anchor and correspondent, and host of "The Assignment With Audie Cornish," Audie Cornish.


LEMON: And that was from -- that was from --

CORNISH: It's in the name, yes.

LEMON: That was from your podcast.

But listen, we've been talking about election deniers running and people were nervous about that or whatever. A lot of them lost. But you saw this coming when you saw all of the ruckus around school board meetings last year and a lot of these guys won, and there's consternation around that as well.

CORNISH: Well, it's interesting that this is following your segment where you were talking about Ron DeSantis. This is core to his agenda. He has personally backed something like 30 school board members in Florida. I think 24 of them ended up winning over the course of this year.

I mean, to be clear, in Michigan, Maine, and some states where gubernatorial candidates who were Republicans actually lost, their candidates didn't do so well. It reflects the environment.

But if you see a DeSantis run, you're going to be hearing more and more about this.

COLLINS: But I wonder how Democrats are responding to this because we've seen Glenn Youngkin in Virginia successfully use this --


COLLINS: -- as a big platform for his -- him. It is something that when you talk to parents that they have very strong opinions on.

And so, have Democrats responded to it effectively? What does that really look like on the other side?

CORNISH: Well, a coda to Youngkin. He actually set up a tipline in the state so people could call in and say hey, something's going on in the classroom. They quietly shut it down halfway through the year because there weren't that many calls. But he has gone on to make other changes to allow for changes to the school history curriculum, et cetera.

I'd say that there are a couple of little groups and packs that have tried to counter the conservative effort to try and recruit and train people.

But the point of my story, in a way, is that these are down, down, down ballot races.


CORNISH: They did not use to be hyperpartisan. And this infusion of cash and national branding is changing the nature of the conversation.

HARLOW: I kept looking at this through the lens of a parent of young kids, just like you are, and I kept thinking about does this -- the increase of this mean the loudest parents win.


HARLOW: Right? And what they're doing affecting all the other kids in the class and all the other students.

CORNISH: Yes, absolutely. And there's a long history of, sort of, parents' rights movements --


CORNISH: -- that have come often. I think the most public one people remember, the '70s and racial integration.

But, yes, it does affect what happens in the classroom. Teachers are exhausted. They feel the stress of the kind of culture war bearing down on them. And there has been substantial learning loss that we've learned about nationwide. I think that is, in part, something that we all have in common regardless of your kind of political affiliation. People are concerned about what was lost during the pandemic and they have different ideas about how you should focus in the classroom over the next few years.


LEMON: I'm in. I want to hear. I want to listen to your podcast.

HARLOW: It's great.

COLLINS: Well, good. I have good news for you --

HARLOW: It is great.

COLLINS: -- Don Lemon, because you can listen to Audie's new podcast, "The Assignment With Audie Cornish." It's on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. Make sure you listen. It's a really thoughtful conversation.

LEMON: Thanks, Audie.

COLLINS: Also today, the World Cup is now underway. Team USA is set to take on Wales in its opening match this afternoon. The host country lost its match yesterday. And 4-time World Cup veteran DaMarcus Beasley is here to talk about the biggest headlines coming out of Qatar.

LEMON: Woo-hoo.

COLLINS: Did you see The New York Times? They did a whole interactive story -- it's amazing -- about is it Qatar or Qatar.


COLLINS: It was so smart.




JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You guys, I know you're underdogs but I'll tell you what, men, you've got some of the best players in the world on your team. And you're representing this country and I know you're going to play your hearts out. So let's go shock 'em all.


COLLINS: "Let's go shock 'em all." That was President Biden trying to pump up Team USA ahead of their match against Wales. It happens at 2:00 p.m. eastern today. It is going to be the first World Cup match for the United States men's team in eight years.

This year's tournament has come under scrutiny over human rights conditions for workers in Qatar, as well as comments that officials have made about the LGBTQ community.

So joining us now is someone who knows a thing or two, or four about World Cups, DaMarcus Beasley, who has played in four of them for the U.S. Men's National Team and is an MLS ambassador to this year's FIFA World Cup who is going to be contributing also to Fox Sports coverage of the event. You are busy --


COLLINS: -- so we're glad that you're here on set with us.

LEMON: You could use that scarf, too.


BEASLEY: Yes, it's cold -- yes.

HARLOW: We're cold.

BEASLEY: I came from -- I came from Houston so the weather is a little bit different.

COLLINS: It's a lot colder here.

The big question is what's going to happen at 2:00 today. You think they're going to win?

BEASLEY: It's going to be tough but I'm optimistic. It's a good group. I think they -- I think they win this game. When you have your first game, you have 25 players that are new to the World Cup, so there are going to be a couple of nerves but I think -- I think they win -- yes. I think they get three points.


COLLINS: And to the furthest the men's team has ever made it was the quarter-finals.


COLLINS: That was 2004?

BEASLEY: 2002.

COLLINS: 2002 --


COLLINS: -- and you played in that game.

BEASLEY: Yes. I was --

COLLINS: What was -- what was that like?

BEASLEY: Yes. It was -- it was amazing. I was -- I got named to the team at 19 years old. I played my first game at 20. I actually turned 20 on the plane.

HARLOW: Oh my gosh.

LEMON: Now you're just bragging.


BEASLEY: Yes. Now I'm just --

HARLOW: Are you -- are you serious?

BEASLEY: I'm serious, yes.

HARLOW: Oh my God.

BEASLEY: Actually, I turned 20 on the plane.

COLLINS: What a birthday.

HARLOW: I am twice as old as you.


LEMON: Poppy.

BEASLEY: The World -- yes, the World Cup --

HARLOW: I'm an old woman over here.

BEASLEY: It was in Korea and Japan. And we got past our biggest rival in Mexico in round 16 --


BEASLEY: -- and into the quarter-final. We just were lucky against Germany. We lost 1-nil. But what a great experience representing your country at -- you know, at the highest level of our sport. So it was a -- it was fun.

HARLOW: You write -- you wrote this great piece about your life and your experience earlier this year and you talked about growing up in Fort Wayne, Indiana.


HARLOW: And you said you rarely see Black players in the Midwest. And you say the first time I had a Black coach was when I joined the Chicago Fire --


HARLOW: -- reflecting on how many barriers you've broken -- you broke.

BEASLEY: Yes. You know, I grew up -- you know, I'm from Indiana and my dad was basically my mentor and my coach. And he was a -- he played basketball and he played football. So there wasn't any soccer in our family -- no background -- and around my city and my state.

So it was -- but when you're young you don't think about that. You don't look at color. You just -- you just want to play. You're a kid. You just want to run around and play. And actually, my brother and I were decent. So, yes, my first -- but, yes, we were decent -- we were decent.

And -- but yes, my first Black coach was when I joined the Chicago Fire -- my first professional team. And he's still a good friend of -- good friend of mine to this day.

LEMON: There's a lot of heat around where -- because of where it is and what's happening in human rights and LGBTQ rights.

How do you feel about that?

BEASLEY: You know, I really -- I really feel happy that the players are speaking out and really not letting it sit. And then while they play they want to -- they want a World Cup to be about everyone. And the way that they have shown and stick together in different parts of it -- the Netherlands, England, USA.

You know, USA has "Be the Change" platform that they -- that they started after George Floyd's death. And just to be able to have a platform to speak out and really show support of what they are advocates for.

LEMON: Would you speak out if you were playing now?

BEASLEY: Would I --


BEASLEY: -- personally?


BEASLEY: I think as a group, it's something that we would talk about. Individually -- because you don't want to -- you don't want to make it about yourself and one person. So I think as a group and as a team, you would talk about it and say OK, this is the best way we can kind of tackle this humans right -- human right issue.

LEMON: Do you think they should serve beer?

BEASLEY: I'm not a beer drinker but it is a World Cup. Beer is the World Cup. Beer -- the World Cup is the beer. So if that's what their rules are that you can't have beer in the stadium, I think -- I think people will be OK without drinking for a couple of hours.

COLLINS: Where are you watching today?

LEMON: Problem solved. He's solved it, everyone.

BEASLEY: I will be in Smithfield Hall watching the watch party --


BEASLEY: -- with the USA team. So I'm really excited to watch our boys play tonight -- today.

HARLOW: We are -- we are so excited you're here. We have to snap a pic for my nephew, Kyle, OK? He's a huge fan.

BEASLEY: Oh, cool.


LEMON: I say DaMarcus, you say Beasley. DaMarcus --

HARLOW: Beasley.

LEMON: I say DaMarcus.

Thank you, sir.

HARLOW: Thank you, friend.

COLLINS: All right, thank you so much.

BEASLEY: No problem

HARLOW: Well, stunning news overnight in the world of business. A huge shakeup at Disney. We'll tell you who's back on top.