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CNN This Morning

Republican Presidential Candidate Vivek Ramaswamy Interviewed on His Controversial Statement about Black Americans Rights and Second Amendment; Air National Guardsman Accused of Leaking Top-Secret Documents Online to Attend Bail Hearing; Airlines Facing Pilot Shortage in U.S.; Dominion Voting Systems and FOX News Reach Settlement in Defamation Lawsuit. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired April 19, 2023 - 08:00   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Who and what were you referring to?

VIVEK RAMASWAMY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was referring to Joe Biden and his expression of wanting to put them back in chains, dating back to Lyndon Johnson. I think Lyndon Johnson's so-called great society was one of the greatest misnomers in American political history, where even back then, in the 1960s, 70 percent plus of Black kids were born into two parent homes. Today, that number is less than 30 percent in the opposite direction.

The very policies that we implemented in this country in the name of helping Black Americans have actually been disastrous for Black Americans and all Americans, and I think that's something that we need to wake up to.

HARLOW: So - you were - in 1865, you were talking about the black codes, right?

RAMASWAMY: That's right.

HARLOW: Passed, enacted to make it a crime for a Black person to carry a gun in the south.


HARLOW: But you're equating that to the current president? You're referring to economic chains? What are you saying?

RAMASWAMY: Well I was referring to Joe Biden's, I think, ill-chosen expression to say they're the party that wants to put you back into chains.

What I'm actually saying is that, If you look at the policies of the modern Democratic Party -

HARLOW: You just said that about Democrats.

RAMASWAMY: Absolutely. So, what I'm saying is that actually it's policies like that of Lyndon Johnson and Joe BIden that are actually holding Black Americans back.

HARLOW: Lyndon Johnson, the war on poverty?

RAMASWAMY: Yes and in particular his great society where he actually created incentives in the family, where if you're a family, you could actually get more money by not having the father in the home.

HARLOW: One of -

RAMASWAMY: Guess what you get? You get what you pay for. And I think it's been really bad for the Black community. I think it's really bad for all Americans.

HARLOW: What - do you have anything on this before I move on to China?

LEMON: I just - I don't see what one has to do with the other, but go on, I took up a lot of time with Fox News -

HARLOW: No, it's fine, we have time.

LEMON: I don't really see what one has to do with the other, especially consider - and using the Civil War to talk about Black Americans. That war was not fought for Black people to have guns. That's not -

RAMASWAMY: That war was fought for Black people to have freedoms in this country, actually.


RAMASWAMY: That's why the Civil War was fought.


RAMASWAMY: And the sad part about it -

LEMON: But that wasn't fought for Black people to have guns. I think -

RAMASWAMY: Actually, you want to know a funny fact is, Black people did not get to enjoy the other freedoms until their Second Amendment rights were secured. And I think that that's one of the lessons that we learned -

LEMON: Black people still aren't allowed to enjoy the freedoms of -


RAMASWAMY: I disagree with you on that, Don.

LEMON: -- in this country.

RAMASWAMY: I disagree with you on it. I think you're doing a disservice to our country -

LEMON: Well, OK. When you -

RAMASWAMY: -- by failing to recognize the fact that we have the equality (ph) -

LEMON: When you are in black skin and you live in this country, then you can disagree with me. But we're not -- you mentioned that we have three different shades of melanin here -

RAMASWAMY: Don, I think we have to be able to talk about these issues in the open regardless of the color of our skin. Black Americans today - to say that - to compare that to 1865 and 1964 absolutely -

LEMON: I think for you to compare it to 1865 and 1964 is actually -

RAMASWAMY: -- have equal rights in this country.

LEMON: I think it's actually -


LEMON: I think it's insulting to Black people. It's insulting to me as an African American. I don't want to sit here and argue with you because it's infuriating for you to put that - to put those things together. It's not right. Your telling of history is wrong. Your - what your thinking -

RAMASWAMY: What part of history was wrong, Don?

LEMON: What -

RAMASWAMY: What part of history was wrong?


LEMON: -- that the Civil War was fought - you're making people think that the Civil War was fought for Black people - only for Black people to get guns and for Black people to have rights -

RAMASWAMY: The Civil War was fought for Black people in this country to get freedoms, a noble mission. And I think that -

LEMON: Yes, you're right. But it wasn't --

RAMASWAMY: -- even after - even after we succeeded, we had to actually secure those freedoms.


LEMON: -- to reduce it - to reduce it in a speech at the NRA, to say you're making people think - you're trying to say that Black people to get guns, that was the reason that you're there at the NRA - that was the reason for the Civil War, I think that's reductive -

RAMASWAMY: It is a fact. It's not reductive, Don. It insult --

LEMON: And I think it's insulting. There were a whole plethora of reasons that - for the Civil War including -

RAMASWAMY: Look, with due respect, I find your explanation reductive and actually insulting, including to Black Americans, to say that Black people today compared to 1964, 1865, haven't made progress in part because of the freedoms we secured.

And the Second Amendment was part -


LEMON: Black people - hang on, please, I cannot keep a thought if you guys are talking to me in my ear.

So I - hang on one second. So, to say that Black people - say what you said again?

RAMASWAMY: Black people secured their freedoms after the Civil War is a historical fact, Don, just study it, only after their Second Amendment rights were secured --

LEMON: (Inaudible) people have - they were not secured their freedoms after the Civil War, that is not - you are discounting - reconstructing and discounting a whole host of things that happened after the Civil War when it comes to African Americans, including the whole reason that the Civil Rights Movement happened, is because Black people did not secure their freedoms after the Civil War, and that things turned around - people tried to change the freedoms that were supposed to happen after the Civil War and ==

RAMASWAMY: And you know how they got it? They got their Second Amendment rights -

LEMON: -- and reconstruction.

RAMASWAMY: And they actually got - the NRA played a big role in that. But today, Don -

LEMON: The NRA did not play a big role in that. That is a lie.

RAMASWAMY: Absolutely, they trained Black Americans how to use firearms.

LEMON: Vivek, that's a lie. That's not - the NRA did not play a big role in that.

RAMASWAMY: This is just historical fact. But Don --

LEMON: It is not a historical fact.

RAMASWAMY: -- the part that I find -

LEMON: Just because you say it is a historical fact, doesn't make it (ph) a historical fact.

RAMASWAMY: The part that I find insulting is when you say today Black Americans don't have those rights, after we have gone through Civil Rights revolutions in this country -

LEMON: The fact that I find -


LEMON: -- you are sitting here telling an African American about the rights and what you find insulting about the - the way I live - the skin I live in every day and I know the freedoms -

RAMASWAMY: Here's where you and I have a different point of view -

LEMON: -- that Black and white - that Black people don't have in this country -


LEMON: -- and that Black people do have -

RAMASWAMY: Well, here's where you and I have a different point of view. I think we should be able to express our view regardless of the color of our skin. We should have this debate -

LEMON: I'm not saying you shouldn't express your views.

RAMASWAMY: -- without me regarding you as a Black man.

LEMON: But I think it's insulting that you're sitting here -

RAMASWAMY: -- but me regarding you as a fellow citizen. That's what I think we should see (ph).

LEMON: -- whatever ethnicity you are, splaining (ph) to me about what it's like to be Black in America. I'm sorry.

RAMASWAMY: Whatever ethnicity I am. I'll tell you what I am, I'm an Indian American. I'm proud of it. But I think we should have this debate, Black, white, it doesn't matter --

LEMON: I think we should have this debate, but I think if you want to do it (ph) -

RAMASWAMY: -- on the content of the ideas.

LEMON: -- you should do it in an honest way and in a fair way.

RAMASWAMY: I think -

LEMON: And what you're doing is not an honest and fair way. OK?


LEMON: But we appreciate you coming on. Thank you for that.


RAMASWAMY: With due respect, Don, I look forward to continuing that conversation.

LEMON: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

RAMASWAMY: Thank you, thank you.

LEMON: We'll continue the conversation.

RAMASWAMY: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you so much.

RAMASWAMY: Thank you Poppy.

HARLOW: We'll talk about China --

RAMASWAMY: Yes, let's (ph) talk about China.

HARLOW: -- next time you come back.

RAMASWAMY: Oh thank you. Much to say on declaring dependence from China.


LEMON: OK. Can we move on now please?

RAMASWAMY: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you.

HARLOW: Thank you.

In just hours, the man accused of leaking highly classified Pentagon documents will appear in a detention hearing to determine whether he should remain in custody. We're talking about 21-year-old Jack Teixeira. He has been held since his arrest last week after documents with top secret information on the war in Ukraine and other U.S. intelligence has surfaced online. He faces 15 years in prison.

Our Jason Carroll joins us live this morning just ahead of this hearing. He's outside of the federal courthouse in Boston. Jason, good morning. What will we see?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Poppy. We're likely to hear from prosecutors during this detention hearing as to why Jack Teixeira should not be let out on bail, namely that argument being that what he's accused of doing if he's let out, he's likely to do it again.

The legal experts that we've spoken to say it's really a high bar here, that the chances of him getting out on bail are slim at best. The judge here has a lot to consider, including in terms of is this defendant a flight risk? Is he in some way a danger to himself or to others in the community? The defense, for its part when it argues about bail could say, look, bail is appropriate here, and perhaps it's appropriate with certain conditions, such as the defendant will not have access to the Internet or social media or to a phone, no access to guns. So these are some of the things that might be considered once this attention hearing gets underway.

All of this happening as the Air Force has now announced that the Air National Guard unit where Teixeira was based in Cape Cod has been stripped of its intelligence duties temporarily while an investigation takes place. So the security fallout happening on that as we await this detention hearing to get underway on our end. That's expected at 11:00 a.m. Poppy?

HARLOW: Everyone will be watching this so closely because he hasn't even put in a plea yet, right? Jason, thank you very much.

LEMON: Another story that everyone is watching, new concerns this morning for the aviation industry ahead of the summer travel spike. Just yesterday, Southwest delayed hundreds of flights nationwide. The airline said technical issues forced a ground stop. And meantime, the Boeing CEO has announced the company will have to delay delivering some of its new planes. The delay stems from a problem with new 737 Max jetliners. And this morning on Capitol Hill, we're expecting a warning from an

industry leader. There's about to be a tsunami of pilot retirements. That's what they're saying. CNN's aviation correspondent Pete Muntean live for us in Washington this morning. Good morning, Pete. What are we looking at here?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Don. This is particularly bad at the regional airlines, the pilot shortage crisis. It's an industrywide problem, but it's hitting small cities the hardest. And the head of the Regional Airline Association will tell a House committee today that this issue is getting worse all the time, especially with retirements coming on the horizon, a tsunami of retirements, she says. She says in the next 15 years, 50 percent of all commercial airline pilots will retire.

Making the problem even worse, Faye Malarkey Black says, is that the under 30 corps at the airlines is only at eight percent right now. This means more delays and cancelations for you and also cities losing service, 42 states, she says, have less service now than before the pandemic, 11 airports have lost service completely. And making matters worse, 500 planes are now sitting idle, Faye Malarkey Black says, because there's just simply no pilots to fly them.

The solution that is going to be laid out today in front of this House committee is raising the retirement age, a very controversial topic in the airline community, from 65 -- that's the mandatory federal retirement age right now, to 67 years old. So we will see as this unfolds, Don, this is a very tricky topic and something that the airline industry needs to get a handle on, especially with more pilots leaving the industry.

LEMON: All right, we'll be watching. Thank you, Pete, appreciate that.

HARLOW: FOX News has agreed to pay any enormous, a historic price for broadcasting conspiracy theories about the 2020 election. The network reaching a last-minute settlement with Dominion Voting Systems for more than $787 million. They struck the right agreement -- they struck the agreement, I should say, right before, right before the defamation trial was about to begin. Dominion's lawyers say it's a victory for truth and democracy.

LEMON: Dominion tells CNN that the deal does not require FOX News anchors to go on air and tell viewers that they lied. Here's what FOX said in the statement when the news broke.



HOWARD KURTZ, FOX NEWS HOST: I do have a statement from FOX, Neil. "We're pleased to have reached a settlement of our dispute with Dominion Voting Systems. We acknowledge the court's rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false. The settle reflects FOX's continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards."


LEMON: We just want to give you now a small sample of the broadcasts that got FOX News -- broadcasts that got FOX News in trouble. Here it is.


MARIA BARTIROMO: Sidney, we talked about the Dominion software. I know that there were voting irregularities. Tell me about that.

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, TUCKER CARLSON TONIGHT: Electronic voting machines didn't allow people to vote, apparently. And that, whatever you think of it, the cause of it, it shakes people's faith in the system. That is an actual threat to democracy.


LEMON: And this morning we're hearing from the CEO of Dominion Voting Systems. Watch this.


JOHN POULOS, CEO, DOMINION VOTING SYSTEMS: There was an acknowledgement, and certainly it's not the way I wrote it, and I had some conversations with our team, my cofounder and I. And at the end of the day, the court system really is about accountability. We feel we got it. And all of the facts that we had discovered during the case had already come to light.


HARLOW: Joining us now, lead counsel for Dominion, Justin Nelson. Justin, thank you so much for your time this morning.

LEMON: Thank you. Good morning.


HARLOW: Hi. I think one of the big questions this morning is sort of How do you put a price tag on trust in U.S. democracy, right? You can't put a price on that, As one of our colleagues writes on CNN this morning. Was this about money for Dominion, or is this about truth?

NELSON: Well, I think it was really our two goals were accountability and to get compensation for this massive amount of harm that occurred to the company. And I think we achieved both. On the truth, on the accountability, over the past few months, you've seen this mountain of evidence that has been revealed in texts and emails that really show that, in fact, FOX knew, FOX knew that it was lies.

And the statement that FOX released yesterday acknowledged the court's order that called these false. This was the first time that a court has held that the election lies were, in fact, lies. And this was the first time that someone has been held accountable in the form of a nearly $800 million payment for that. It is also, of course, a civil litigation, and it's about making my

client whole. And although this does not make my client whole, it is a step in that direction. And instead of going for years to appeal and the verdict, we got an $800 million settlement, nearly an $800 million settlement. And we're proud of what we did, and we do think it's a victory both for truth and for accountability.

LEMON: Let's talk a little bit more about that, Justin, because in the statement, FOX says, this is just part of it, "We acknowledge the court's rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false." They didn't exactly say that they lied. And there is, among the public, there is a feeling that it may have been better, Justin, for the FOX News anchors and their leaders, their management to take the stand, to acknowledge their lies publicly, that that would have sent a stronger message. What do you say to that?

NELSON: Well, I would say that there was that there was that acknowledgement, and I would also say that in the civil litigation system, we could have gotten a $10 billion, $20 billion, you name the billion dollar award, and they still wouldn't have had to apologize or to go on air to say that they were wrong.

What we can do in a civil litigation system is to bring accountability by exposing the truth and by having compensation for the harm that occurred. And on that we accomplished both by a wide margin.

LEMON: Would you have preferred, if you could have gotten your druthers, to have the FOX News anchors and folks on air say, you know what, we lied, or at least having had them to have them have to make a statement? Would you have preferred that?

NELSON: It's always bittersweet when you settle a case because you think you have a great case. The issue is, of course, that there's always risk in going to a jury trial. And my client, really, these employees at Dominion have been so incredibly harmed. And they still get threats, death threats. It's really difficult for the company to be operating. And so for them to have the settlement really does mean a lot.

And remember, this is just the first step. We have six other cases against other defendants who are -- some of them are still lying about the election. And so what we think and we're really proud of is that this really is the first time that someone has been held accountable for the results and the lies that were told after the 2020 election.

LEMON: Other defendants who might that be?

NELSON: Well, we have a case against Newsmax, we have a case against One America News. And then of course, we have cases against Sidney Powell and Mike Lindell of My pillow, and Rudy Giuliani and Patrick Byrne. And so, we think that we will continue to hold people accountable for the lies that they told. I mean, look, ultimately, misinformation is not going away, the truth does not know red, or blue. And what we have to do is really, if we're going to have this shared experiment in democracy, we have to have a common commitment to facts. And we can disagree, we can have different opinions, even on our most profound issues. But if we are not able to agree on facts, then that is when we're going to have these just bubbles of where we don't talk to each other. And what happened to dominion is it just got swept in this torrent of lies, where it was in this alternative universe. And I do hope that this really does send a message that it is so important to tell the truth. And that if you don't tell the truth lies have consequences and I think this is what it established. And that is why there is accountability today, there's accountability to Dominion, and there's accountability to Democracy.

HARLOW: Justin, former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson, tweeted a few days ago, please do not settle you're about to prove something very big. She, of course, was successful not only against in her litigation, against Fox News, but in arbitration, but in changing the law when it comes to secret mandatory arbitration. I just wonder if there are things about foxes lies and how they conducted themselves behind closed doors, that now the public will not know? Because there's been -- there will be no trial.

NELSON: Well, I think that what you saw in the past couple of months that has come out in our summary judgement briefing. And that already has public has really revealed behind the scenes, that Fox did know that these were lies. That was a really big question going into this, did Fox really know it? Did the anchors who are saying it really believe it? And I think that we've seen the evidence, we've seen the evidence from these crazy emails that started at all to people saying that Sidney Powell was lying to the motive that occurred, and this was all in black and white and documents that have been revealed. So, would the trial have put on that same evidence? Of course, but at the end of the day, I think the accountability came from what already has happened over the last months. And of course, the payment itself, having a nearly $800 million payment, really, I think sends a strong message about what it means to lie.

HARLOW: Justin Nelson, thank you for your time. We'll be following those I think six other cases that you are lead counselling as well as these progresses. Thanks very, very much.

LEMON: Thanks, Justin.

NELSON: Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

LEMON: So, we're going to move on now and talk about the white homeowner accused of shooting a black teenager who rang his doorbell is already out on bail. The mayor of Kansas City says the teen was shot for simply existing while Black. He's going to join us live, that's next.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're getting word that (INAUDIBLE) talk about. How do you feel about that?

LEE MERRITT, YARL FAMILY'S ATTORNEY: The $200,000 bond was set. It's not the kind of bond that necessarily we'll keep someone for a very long time. It's frustrating, we don't want him out, but we understand that's part of the process.


LEMON: So, that was Ralph Yarl's aunt and the attorney's reaction to the news that the homeowner who shot the team is out on bail and you saw his aunt shake her head there. 84-year-old Andrew Lester faces two felony charges assault in the first degree and armed criminal action for last Thursday's shooting. Investigators say he shot the 16-year- old twice, once in the head, once in the arm when the teenager mistakenly rang the doorbell to his house, thinking his siblings were there. Ralph underwent surgery to remove the bullet from his brain. And let's listen to how the family attorney described his injuries.


MERRITT: The truth is he was shot at point blank range from less than five feet away head on and was struck in his temple. The bullet entered his skull and fragmented near the frontal upper left lobe of his brain. Thursday night doctors were scraping off bullet fragments off his brain. Saturday, he was released from the hospital. The fact that I spoke with him today and sat down and had a conversation with him. Vice President Kamala Harris had a conversation with him today, where he was fluid, where he was amicable, where he was funny. Consistent with his character is truly a miracle.


LEMON: Joining us now, the mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, and that is Quinton Lucas.

Mayor, thank you so much for joining us, really appreciate it. I have to say to our viewers, I noticed that both times when I talked about his injuries, and when Lee Merritt spoke about the injuries, I saw you wince and shake your head, what's up?

QUINTON LUCAS, MAYOR OF KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI: It's unbelievable when you think about why this happened. This is a boy, a child, who rang the doorbell and ended up shot in the head. It is one of the most astonishing, shameful stories that I think I've heard about in some time, anywhere in the country, frankly. And just for the grace of God, this young man is alive today. But I could not imagine the recklessness the irresponsibility that's within the heart, the mind of the defendant in this case,

LEMON: Have you been able to speak to the family or Ralph at this -- since it happened? And what are they saying? What's his condition?

LUCAS: I talked to Ralph's mother, and she is a strong woman. If you think about all that has transpired in her life in the last week, something that a normal mother anywhere in America, almost anywhere in the world might do, in saying, hey, go pick up your little brothers, you know, make sure they get home. Ralph's off doing the right thing. And then you have this woman who is worried about her son getting back to school, getting back to some sense of normalcy, and understanding the pain that he is going through. And the pain that an entire community is going through.

Last night, I also visited with members of the local Liberian community, hardworking people who moved to Kansas City, who many of whom have moved to neighborhoods like this one, for the best opportunities for their children. Knowing that they are the majority white, but thinking that it is worthwhile in a way because there could be this great education, you wouldn't deal with these sorts of challenges. And seeing this today is something that I think concerns all of them and all of us.


LEMON: What do you think about him being released -- Lester being released on bail?

LUCAS: It's a -- it's a sign in some ways of justice in America. I'm an attorney myself. I understand it, I understand the way these things work, but it's awful. It is unfortunate that somebody who commits an offense like this, someone who I see as a threat to the public, because I don't know what house he's in right now, I don't know if that's a house that the next Amazon driver or postal worker or campaign worker may knock on the door for. And then what? And then what does somebody have to worry about?

It is -- it is shameful, in some ways that he gets to live this very normal life. But I understand it's part of this system that we have, which needs real tweaks.

LEMON: Listen, I want to get some reporting on this because we understand, and can you confirm that Lester's arraignment is today? Is he going to be in court, will he appear?

LUCAS: What we understand from the Clay County Public Information Office for the prosecutor's office, is that there will be an arraignment at 1:30 Central Time today. Typically, what that would be is requiring the defendant to come in. Usually that's that statement of guilty or not guilty, other conditions set by the court.

So, that's at least what we're hearing now. I know nothing further about whether Mr. Lester will be there or his lawyer and others. But that's typically how these things would work. Although, I will note there have been elements of this that have been atypical. Yesterday, Mr. Lester had the ability to surrender himself to the courthouse, something that a lot of other defendants charged with felony assault, of course, don't often have the opportunity to do.

LEMON: So, but he is scheduled to appear in court today for an arraignment, correct?

LUCAS: That's the indication, yes.

LEMON: OK, all right. So, listen, the real question is what took so long? Because he was released after just two hours the night of the shooting, despite Missouri's law that allows police to detain a suspect for up to 24 hours. You along with the family are calling for an investigation. So, what do you know -- what took so long? And what do you know about that?

LUCAS: So far, what we've heard is that there was a desire for more discussion, including with the victim. I think there have been many questions that have been presented in terms of whether that's something that needed to be done. I think there was an ongoing question about that. And what I've said a few different times, and I've talked to the police department about this, that we need to welcome all questions, you know (ph) openness, transparency is the sort of thing that is important in these types of things.

And I think there are people that are asking real questions and valid ones. I think there are people that recognize perhaps, had there been different victims, had the victims been me, I'll put myself on blast, as a mayor, maybe it wouldn't take this long. And so, we need to make sure everybody gets the same justice in this country, in the state, and in the city. And I understand that there are questions now about that. We need to make sure those are answered here in Kansas City.

LEMON: The prosecutor did say that there was a race element involved. Do you think there should be a hate crime charged, Mayor?

LUCAS: Yesterday there were calls from a number of people in this community that went out to the United States Attorney's Office here in Kansas City and the FBI to ask those questions. I don't think that more investigation is ever a bad thing. I don't know if the legal elements can be fulfilled on a hate crime charge here.

What I know very simply is that this defendant in the probable cause statement is indicated to have said, he was afraid of Ralph, because he is a tall, black man -- was the fear. He thought he was six feet tall, he's 5'8", thought he was in some way menacing or scary. I don't think that was true.

And I think that this has everything to do with race, the defendant's fear of black people, black men, black boys. And I think that's why we are all discussing this now for some reason, right? Because it is something that is tragic. And I think that if the young man wasn't black, we wouldn't be here today.

LEMON: Mayor Quinton Lucas, Mayor, thank you. I wish we were seeing each other under better circumstances. We appreciate your appearance (ph).

LUCAS: Yes, sir. Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you.


HARLOW: Don, thank you for that. Of course, we'll keep very close track of that as it develops. Meantime, this may sound like your favorite singer, but it is not. The head, the new viral trend of songs being made with artificial intelligence. What are the legal and ethical issues at play? That's next.