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January 6 Committee Votes To Subpoena Trump; Parkland School Shooter Avoids Death Penalty. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired October 13, 2022 - 23:00   ET




LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: January 6th Select Committee voting to subpoena the former president for his role in the Capitol insurrection.


REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): He must be accountable. He is required to answer for his actions. He is required to answer to those police officers who put their lives and bodies on the line to defend our democracy. He is required to answer to those millions of Americans whose votes he wanted to go throw out as part of his scheme to remain in power. So, it is our obligation to seek Donald Trump's testimony.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: And then they voted unanimously to do just that.


CAMEROTA: Let's bring in Margaret Talev, Jim Walden, and John Miller. Great to see you, guys. Margaret, that was quite a finale, where they each unanimously and by voice voted that they are going to subpoena Donald Trump.

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: For sure. It was a historic moment. It paves the way for the potential of that committee to make criminal referrals all the way up to the former president. Liz Cheney didn't say that's what they're going to do, but she certainly suggested that they are preparing to make certain criminal referrals.

And it brought under the spotlight the evidence that essentially every single person in town that day who worked in Congress or the White House, except for former President Donald Trump, basically knew violence was going to happen and was begging him to call everybody back. That's important.

I don't know what the end result is going to be, I don't know what the short-term political implications are going to be, I don't know what the 2024 implications are going to be, but we will see all of that unfold in the next few weeks.

COATES: Well, think about -- I mean, just, you know, we think about Jim, when I heard the president being subpoenaed, there's a track record for this, right? I don't think the odds in Vegas are really in favor of he's going to show up. Now, there is a chance, right? He did complain about not having a chance to speak his mind for either the impeachments. He complained about not having this being more of a trial-like setting. He complained to McCarthy about not having his say.

But just look at this timeline, if you will, everyone, about what it took to hold, say, Steve Bannon in contempt. I mean, it was issued on 23rd of September. He was indicted on November 12th. The trial happened in July. The sentencing is October. It's nearly a year of time.

We are like 26 days away from the midterm elections. We are not a year away from even into, you know, the new Congress being installed. When you think about the odds of a former president complying, where are you?

JIM WALDEN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Laura, I look at this with two sets of eyes. One is legal and one is practical. From a legal perspective, put aside the fact that he has a duty under the law to comply. We all know that that doesn't mean anything to him. But no defense lawyer would recommend him to do this. The evidence is too overwhelming.

COATES: To testify?

WALDEN: To testify. But from a practical perspective, and you hit on this in the last panel, be careful what you wish for, right? If you're the committee, you have to understand that Donald Trump would love the circus, he would love the theater, he would love the megaphone. And so, if you're the committee, you better have a plan for taming this tiger who is going to talk over the committee and get his points across and use it as an opportunity to motivate his base.


COATES: Yeah. He's not going to have a chance to do what, say, Ginni Thomas did behind closed doors. No audio recording. No video recording. I doubt --

CAMEROTA: Why not? I mean, why --


CAMEROTA: He might strike a deal?

WALDEN: It really is the committee's decision, but my guess is he's going to make it difficult, if he's going to do it at all, right? A sensible person would listen to his or her lawyer, but Donald Trump, who knows?

COATES: You want to have a deal like that? CAMEROTA: It depends if they really, really want the information and the documents, or if they want to have it on the public record in front of everybody. That just depends on what their calculus is, if they would make a deal like that. I'm not saying, I want that, I want cameras everywhere, following everyone around all the time.

I think we should play another very dramatic moment from what we have seen in this new documentary. This was shot by Alexandra Pelosi. This is Nancy Pelosi's daughter. She was shooting a documentary about how there's going to be a peaceful transfer of power on January 6th. She obviously got a lot more than she bargained for.


So, here's the moment where Nancy Pelosi is being ushered out of her office under threat to her life.




UNKNOWN: Yes. Yes, ma'am.

PELOSI: Did you reach McConnell?

UNKNOWN: We did.

PELOSI: And did he say yes?


PELOSI: And will they call the National Guard?

UNKNOWN: That's correct.

UNKNOWN: Where's that meeting at?

UNKNOWN: Hey, where they counting the fucking votes?

PELOSI: We may get "all heads up."

UNKNOWN: We're going to (bleep).

UNKNOWN: Where they counting them?

UNKNOWN: Where they counting?

PELOSI: If they stop the proceeding, they will have succeeded in stopping the validation of the president of the United States. If they stop the proceedings, we will have totally failed.


CAMEROTA: John, how chilling just to watch that. (INAUDIBLE) law enforcement next (INAUDIBLE) watching all of that.

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: It does. And I mean, if you look at it from that standpoint for the protectors to, you know, to be be able to protect these people, keep them safe, get them into a safe place with that incredible mob outside, if you also look at it from the wider aperture, you know, after a year when police probably took the worst beating in terms of public image in the history of policing, at the end of the day, when it came to defend democracy, the National guard wasn't going to be there for a long time, it turned out to be cops on the very front lines and they paid for it.

CAMEROTA: Yes. And as Laura was pointing out, once again, seeing that Capitol police officer at the top of the stairs with the deluge of the mobsters coming towards him, he's trying to distract them, just incredible bravery.

COATES: And I'll remind, too, just think about where we are. And we have elections. We are going to have him again. We are going to have him again and again and again. It's a republic, if we can keep it, which means that we're going to have now the need to protect, not just what's happening, we're talking about the Capitol, but at individual polling stations. We got election officials who are being threatened.

There's a moment that Congresswoman Liz Cheney raised today that I think really set the tone and helping people to understand why this is a clear and present danger. Listen to what she talks about in terms of the human forces that were the only impediments to everything going on.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Why would Americans assume that our Constitution and our institutions and our republic are invulnerable to another attack? Why would we assume that those institutions will not falter next time? A key lesson of this investigation is this: Our institutions only hold when men and women of good faith make them hold, regardless of the political cost. We have no guarantee that these men and women will be in place next time.


COATES: Is that right, Margaret? They may actually be learning a blueprint here, which is hold on, I didn't have Pence to convince, maybe I don't have somebody who has a spine next time. That is the method.

TALEV: There are crucial elections for secretary of state around the country, for governor around the county, for attorney general and states around the country, and everything you said falls into those buckets.

I think another piece of what Congresswoman Cheney is talking about, the reality is that the American voters now have had months of hearings with video and testimony showing the former president's knowledge, culpability, what actions he took, what actions he didn't take, he's still the leader of the Republican Party, he still has, according to survey research, intense support from a large chunk of the republican base.

If these panels conclude and we go into 2023 and still emerges as the frontrunner for the Republican Party, that is a huge test.


COATES: She has already said that.

CAMEROTA: Yes. But to your point, I think that the larger point is the system is not stronger. It didn't get stronger as a result of this. There is a whole raft of election liars who may -- who could possibly be about to win oversight of state elections. So, secretaries of state, we know this, in Arizona, I can go on and on and on. So, it's not as though after this, we batten down the hatches and make sure that this could ever happen again.

Jim, do you worry that it could be easier the next time?

WALDEN: I think it is going to be easier the next time. Unfortunately, we have 300 election deniers on the ballots all across the country.


We have a Republican Party led by Donald Trump who is still deeply popular. And after all of this, the American public has not been swayed.

There was just a report today in "The New York Times" that a recent poll showed that the numbers are almost identical in terms of the people that believe the election was stolen and the people that believe that Trump is the real president before these hearings started and after these hearings started.

And people aren't listening, and that is the terrifying part.

COATES: What about the law enforcement aspect? The aspect of -- you mentioned they had quite a year overtime. In a couple of months, there have been calls to get rid of the FBI, to defund it, the idea of the execution of a search warrant on Mar-a-Lago.

You think about those two juxtaposed to what you are seeing in a brutal attack against law enforcement who are trying to help members of the Capitol inside, the employees, and also members of Congress.

I mean, what does this bode for the future of law enforcement?

MILLER: It's very interesting. You know, I listen to -- I tried to spread myself out to hear all sides of this, so I listen to a lot of talk radio and, you know, what you saw was within 48 hours of executing a lawful search warrant, signed by a United States magistrate, based on probable cause as laid out under oath in an affidavit, in response to that, Donald Trump took to social media and raised $2 million in two days, and small donations from among those 70 million people who voted for him and a large percentage who still support him.

So, the trust factor is very broken there. I think if you are going to pull the bright side of everything we saw today and then in the other hearings, because, Alisyn, everything you said is true, but what do we see? There are no true people on the planet earth who are more politically-polar opposite than Nancy Pelosi and Mike Pence, but they pushed politics aside on that day for process.

So, while we are talking about all the parade of terrible that could follow with election meddling, you know, in the future in perpetuity, we did see -- we did see brave people who agree on nothing, agree that the process must prevail.

CAMEROTA: That was a confident moment.

COATES: It was a human moment and even wishing him well and hoping he will be safe. Everyone, stick around. We got a lot more to talk about here today. And we want to hear from you as well. You are a part of our discussion. What are your thoughts on the never before seen January 6th video footage? Anything else you want to say to Alisyn and me, of course, within reason, we are not opening a Pandora's box to the people, tweet @AlisynCamerota or/and @thelauracoates.

CAMEROTA: Okay, I'll tell you what's coming up.


CAMEROTA: I guess that's my cue.

COATES: Are you doing a show?

CAMEROTA: Okay, this is actually life. So, what's the view from the right and the talk radio, as John was just alluding to. We're going to talk to a talk radio host about what he has heard all day.




CAMEROTA: Former President Trump trashing the January 6 Committee's vote to subpoena him for testimony and documents. A Trump's spokesperson slamming Democrats, accusing them today of partisan theatrics. But how does his conservative base really feel about the subpoena and the hearing today?

Let's bring in Mark Davis, who's a radio talk show host in Dallas. Mark, thanks so much for your time tonight. So, did your listeners watch what happened today and what did they tell you?

MARK DAVIS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST, 660AM THE ANSWER: Oh, I think it has become a bit of a habit among the conservative audience to not pay an enormous amount of attention to the day-to-day goings on. Some guessing the viewership was not high. I watch because, you know, I kind of have to. But the interesting thing that is happening across the conservative talk radio base, if you will, is that there is no denying that this probably have some effect. It's not the desired effect of Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger and the committee and everybody suddenly going, oh, how wrong we've been, he really is an inciter of violence, he really is an insurrectionist.

Everyone knows the January 6 was terrible, the rioting was terrible, the attempt to conflate this into a broad attack on Trump, his agenda and 75 million voters, that's not going over and that's not going to change.

CAMEROTA: Well, when you say it has had some effect, what effect?

DAVIS: I think that it has to be true that months and months of this drumbeat of here is the latest of the craziest thing that happened and Trump's failure to come up is probably some of us might have liked. It adds to the image of a chaotic White House.

And if that flashes forward to the prospect of a chaotic candidacy, if he should offer himself up in 2024, it has some folks who loved every day of the Trump presidency kind of thinking about DeSantis.

But as soon as I say that, there may also be an accompanying boomerang effect for a lot of people who may have grown maybe a little lukewarm about Trump, see the opportunism and the maliciousness of this January 6th Committee, and they say, dog on it, makes me want to vote for him even more.

COATES: I have a daily radio show. I listen to a lot of callers who talk about what you are saying on all sides of the spectrum, frankly, and I hear people saying, one, they don't want to listen to it in part. They think it is (INAUDIBLE) talking about. But others say, I can't believe that people are tuning out of things so important.

I wonder in your audience, thinking forward, the fact that they have now subpoenaed Donald Trump, does it poke the bear in a way that makes the members you're talking about say, I want him to testify, I want him to talk, I want him to go there, or does it say, don't bother? What is your take?


DAVIS: Those are great multiple questions. Let me take them in order or reverse order.

COATES: Any order you like.

DAVIS: There is no way -- randomly. There is no way he's going to testify. You and I and the dog know there's no way he's going to testify. The talk show host in me and in you probably thinks that will be a pretty interesting idea, a pretty interesting day.

Does the indictment, the nine to nothing shocker vote on the indictment, does that move the needle? If the definition of moving the needle is having people change their opinion, that's a colossal no. Today is really no different than any one of the hundred days gone by for people who don't like Trump, love these hearings, are fixated by them. The people who admire Trump have no use for them, view them as a partisan witch hunt, and I don't think that changes. I really don't.

CAMEROTA: Mark, how about that documentary video footage that we are all watching shot by Speaker Pelosi's daughter and just seeing them all behind the scenes? I mean, again, here again, you know, Scalise, McCarthy, Mitch McConnell --

COATES: McConnell, yeah.

CAMEROTA: -- along with all of the leaders, the Democratic leaders. What did you think of that?

DAVIS: It is absolutely bone-chilling to be taken inside the Capitol as all of that nightmare was unfolding. Interestingly, if we gather 100 people and say watch this, I think everybody as a human being will be repelled and shocked and have that how can this happen kind of idea. But then some of the people are going to say, Trump did that and he's absolutely responsible for that. And the other half of the room is going to come, no, he's not.

That was terrible, but all of this fixation on the minutiae of how horrible that was either does or does not lead to an attempt to smear the entire Trump legacy for it. So, for some folks, that is going to work, and for others, it is not.

COATES: I do wonder, Alisyn, and thank you about that, you're talking about incremental. I do wonder, it has been a couple of months since we've from the committee. They tend to do the big picture. Why do you think it's still viewed as incremental when you're talking about a step back? It's not quite a 10,000-foot view, but it's not quite incremental.

DAVIS: Well, it has been an interesting sort of death by a thousand cuts. When the committee started out again, and I don't mean to balkanize and compartmentalize everything, but hello, welcome to America, everybody that hated Trump's guts said, yeah, this committee is going to be the greatest thing since sliced bread. And the people who admittedly hate what happened on January 6th but don't blame Trump for it view it through jaundiced eyes. I think that that has only intensified, I think.

And as the election draws nearer, I think there's more intense desire on the part of Trump critics to have something -- please, God, something in the committee stick to him while the rest of the people who are probably going to turn out and be part of the republican wave if that happens are just looking -- they are looking at the Democratic Party and saying inflation, borders, crime, and yeah, we're talking about climate change, gender and January 6th. We like our chances.

COATES: Well, we have 26 days away to see what our chances are. Mark Davis, thank you so much. Nice talking you.

DAVIS: Thank you, guys. COATES: Everyone, today's January 6th hearing is expected to be the last before the midterm elections happen next month. Question I asked Mark, will Trump subpoena and other revelations from the hearing have an impact on voters? Here's what some of you are saying out there.

We had one tweet that says, January 6 was able to happen because no one expected such behavior. When they say crime, law and order, it applies to people of color. During the George Floyd/BLM marches, barriers and police and others were ready. Sad, true.




CAMEROTA: The January 6 Committee making their final argument before the midterms about the riot at the Capitol.

Let's bring in Bakari Sellers and Scott Jennings. Margaret Talev is also back with us. Scott, I just want to start with you for the republican view because one of the things that I was struck by listening today was just hearing how Senator Mitch McConnell, who you know really well, and Vice President Pence were just as determined if not more so as Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to make it happen that day.

The phone calls that were going back, it was like Mitch really wants this to happen. We have to find out how to get back into the Capitol. We have to get back. Vice President Pence was working on it. What do you think the republican takeaway from today is?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDNET TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, I don't know where to start. I'll start with McConnell. I have heard him say many times since that day that his first thought was, we have to go back to work tonight, continuity of government, keeping the constitutional gears turning, this is our primary responsible to the American people. That was his first thought. And he and the rest of leadership all work together to make that happen.

So as terrible as January 6th was, there is some silver lining here about how the system actually held because of people in both parties who made it hold the other. So, that is number one.

Number two, average Republicans looking at this today? Look, I think all the minds are made up. I think in everyone's heart, they saw it unfold live on TV, they know exactly what happened, they know exactly who is responsible for it, and whether they're willing to say it loud or not will vary from person to person, but I don't believe there is a person around who watched this unfold live on television who doesn't know exactly what happened and exactly who held the system together that day.

CAMEROTA: You're also the person watching today who is not exactly aware of the suit that Bakari Sellers is wearing right now. (LAUGHTER)

COATES: And what is happening over here. That was a big takeaway.



BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: First of all, I had plans tonight. I had a gala dress, okay? And so, I'm just happy to be here with you.

COATES: It can take away --

SELLERS: I fitted you all in my schedule. I'm sorry.

COATES: Thank you.


COATES: What is your take away aside from the left?

SELLERS: Actually, I think -- thank you. I think that Scott is actually correct, and I don't know if I've ever said that on national TV.

JENNINGS: You haven't, and I thank you.

SELLERS: But I would like to give a great little credit to the fortitude of Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi. Nancy Pelosi showed herself to be what we all know she is which is about us.

And whether or not she is a Democrat or Republican, black or white, from the liberal bastion of San Francisco or from the depths of conservatism in South Carolina, I think people had a respect for the courage and fortitude that Nancy Pelosi shows. People may disagree with her politics all day long, but they will say that she is one courageous woman who you saw on that video. Whether or not it was taken with a protester or Donald Trump, she showed that fortitude.

And you have to give props to Mitch McConnell as well for just making sure that he was there to do his duty.

The question, though, is that, can you imagine Kevin McCarthy in Nancy Pelosi's shoes? I don't think he can wear those heels the same way that she does.

CAMEROTA: It is funny you said that because (INAUDIBLE). But one of the things I was struck by was for all the people who say members of the Congress are too old, between Mitch McConnell and Nancy (INAUDIBLE), this video that we've watched behind the scenes, we have experienced this cool collectedness --


CAMEROTA: -- that I can't imagine anyone else pulling up. For hours, they were just on the phone, we've got to make this happen. While they were watching TV, they were saying, okay, now they're breaking in. Can you believe this, they're breaking into the windows? They weren't screaming. They weren't panicking like I would have been. And I was struck --

COATES: Eating a Slim Jim.

CAMEROTA: She was eating a Slim Jim while talking. I mean, they really were remarkable under duress.

TALEV: They knew exactly what they had to do as much as you can know what you have to do with something that has never happened before in your life is happening. They essentially knew exactly how to do it and it was by talking to each other, by constantly being in touch.

It was extraordinary to see the image of Pelosi with a phone on speaker and Mike Pence on the other line, and they were just trying to figure out how to hold it together.

The one thing that I couldn't stop thinking about was that that's how everybody was supposed to behave, including the president of the United States, and it just grew into such stark contrast, that missing piece of the puzzle.

COATES: That is why I'm wondering. Bakari's point was, you commend the courage and no matter what side you are on, can both be true, though? Can you commend the courage, the tenacity, the resolve of Speaker Pelosi in a moment like that and not condemn the lack thereof of Donald Trump? I mean, how can both be true?

JENNINGS: They're not both true. I mean --


JENNINGS: Look, he violated his oath of office. I mean, your oath of office as president of the United States is to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution. Now, Pelosi and McConnell and the leadership were doing that that day. And I think their experience, to your point, Margaret, I think their longevity and their experience collectively that day is what allowed them to be calm about it, but it also allow them to see clearly the mission, and the mission was we have to go back into night.

Can you imagine -- can you imagine if they had not? And the sun had gone down and come up and we -- then --

COATES: Or even gone off site? (Ph)

JENNINGS: Then the people who had ransacked the Capitol would have had a foothold (ph). Well, I don't know, we're on schedule now. And so, had they not gone back in, that would have been terrible. And that was the goal, was to knock the train off the tracks just long enough to create uncertainty.

SELLERS: Can we talk about the clear contrast, which I think is your point, Laura. This is an important point, because when you see people like Josh Hawley, for example, who wants to be president of the United States, Ted Cruz who wants to be president of the United States, even Tom Cotton, you see these lines of individuals.

What you don't see is the fortitude and the courage and the clear eye view that even Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi had. What is going to happen is they are going to be primaries around this country.

I think one of the things that this January 6 Committee has shown us is that there is a litmus test for courage and standing up for democracy. And people are going to say, if you are in that position, how would you behave and how would you react? I sincerely believe Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz failed that test over and over and over again.

CAMEROTA: But do you think that this really plays into the midterms? Meaning like, I don't know anybody who says January 6th is at the top of my list for why I go to vote. But democracy is.

COATES: But democracy.

CAMEROTA: So, do you think that -- I'm going to ask you. Do you think that this plays into the midterms?

TALEV: There is no evidence that it is at the top of overwhelmingly most voters' list. The midterms for most voters, the research tells us, is about the economy, maybe about crime and about abortion rights.


Is this a factor -- could it be a factor if it's super narrow in Pennsylvania or Nevada? Perhaps. My sense is that it's a bigger for the --

JENNINGS: That will be adjudicated in 24.

TALEV: That's it.

JENNINGS: I think you're exactly right. I think voters have clear and present problems they're dealing with today, but the commander-in- chief test will be put to everybody in 2024.

TALEV: Bakari disagrees.

SELLERS: Respectfully, I think both of you are all wrong.

TALEV: Okay.

SELLERS: The reason being is because I do think that in very important races throughout this country, this will play an important role, i.e. secretary of state and attorney general. These down ballot races now, this is -- I don't think this affects who controls the Senate and who controls the House of Representatives.

But I have always argued the most important job in any state is the attorney general. For example, the attorney general in Georgia, that's going to be an important race. The attorney general and secretary of state in Arizona, the attorney general in Nevada, these are going to be important races where the questions that come from this January 6 Committee are going to have to be answered in a way that satisfies people who watch this. So maybe not House and Senate, but down ballot.

TALEV: I agree it has implications. I don't have a sense of whether voters will take those implications to the ballot box and split tickets on questions like secretary of state and attorney general, but the implications, without a doubt, are hugely important.

COATES: But it comes into the play every time you ask somebody to tell you who won in an election. That is what January 6th is about come November.

SELLERS: Can we talk about (INAUDIBLE) before we go --

CAMEROTA: Can we talk about --

SELLERS: American Liver Foundation tonight. This is (INAUDIBLE). I wore this when I got married.

CAMEROTA: You did? Same one?

SELLERS: Same one.

COATES: It's very handsome.

SELLERS: I was planning (ph) student loan. This is all I had.

CAMEROTA: No argument from us.

COATES: I can still fit into my wedding dress -- no, I can't.


COATES: I don't care. I'm good with it. Thank you very much. I know why you all laugh at that comment. I'm sure I have not gone over that same way. Excuse you.

Coming up next --

CAMEROTA: Thank you, guys.

COATES: -- a jury in Florida recommending life in prison without parole for the school shooter who murdered 17 people, many of whom were students in the Parkland shooting, sparing him the death penalty. Families of the victims say they are outraged and devastated. Tell us what you think. Tweet us @alisyncamerota and @thelauracoates.




COATES: A jury in Florida recommending a life sentence without parole for the Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz. Remember he pleaded guilty last year to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the 2018 Valentine's Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The decision outraging many of the members of victims' families.


TONY MINALTO, FATHER OF PARKLAND SHOOTING VICTIM: Today's ruling was yet another gut punch for so many of us who devastatingly lost our loved ones in that tragic Valentine's Day.

FRED GUTTENBERG, FATHER OF PARKLAND SHOOTING VICTIM: This jury failed our families today. He should've received the death sentence today.

UNKNOWN: If not now the death penalty, then when? When?


CAMEROTA: It's impossible not to have your heart break for all of these families as it has so many times, obviously, since that horrible day. Here's what I want to ask you with your legal background. The families, of course, want justice. They wanted the death penalty. But there was this whole school of mitigating factors that the jury was shown about the gunman.


CAMEROTA: And it's extensive. I mean, everything from he had neurodevelopmental disorder associate with prenatal alcohol exposure. He witnessed the death of his adopted mother shortly before the crime. He had all sorts of disorders and impairments. He was mentally ill. He suffered food deprivation throughout his childhood. He was sexually abused by a trusted peer.

Why aren't those mitigating? In other words, don't those make sense as mitigating factors? Do we put people to death who has that list of factors from their childhood?

COATES: I think that is not -- the question really is -- let's explain to the audience, first of all, what it means to have these aggravating versus mitigating factors. Essentially, it's a way of saying, look, are the reasons that you should get the death penalty outweighed by why I want to spare your life?

And the mitigating factors are what you are talking about. Number one in the list for the jury to look at was he is a human being. That was the number one thing they put on that list of things. The reason it is important is because it only took one person on the jury to think that one of these things did not outweigh the decision to have the death penalty. It's got to be unanimous to do so.

And so, yes, these are mitigating factors, but the question for the families is, wait a second, I can give you a list of the reasons that my daughter, my son should live. I can give you reason of things that maybe they've been through in their lives. Is that enough, what he went through, to put me through what I've done? And that, I think, where the outrage comes in.

But I think, ALisyn, as much as people talk about the death penalty as something that obviously is a part of our society, people are really more conflicted than you think. I mean, when it comes to the decision of a jury to say, you need to die, that's not a place anyone wants to be.

CAMEROTA: And the question that the mom asked there, if not this case, when?


CAMEROTA: If you're not given the death penalty for killing 17 people in cold blood, I mean, ruthlessly -- some of the details that came out again about how he killed some of the students is obviously sickening -- then when? And I think that's a fair question. I was on the ground at 5:00 a.m. the next morning after this Parkland shooting --


COATES: I remember.

CAMEROTA: -- reporting. And every single person told us that there were red flags abounding this kid. Everybody knew that he was a deeply troubled kid. He was violent with animals. There were all sorts of red flags. They were calling him a school shooter before this happened.

COATES: What you are calling a red flag, for a jury asked to figure out whether those red flags are enough to punish him --


COATES: -- and enough to send him to the death penalty, those red flags are apparent. I think that probably factored in. I don't think either of us is thinking but this is -- I'm not going to define justice for these families. I'm not going to sit here and decide, hey, I know what is best based on a reading of the law. But when it comes down to it, even the federal government has had a new moratorium of the death penalty.

Remember when the attorney general, Merrick Garland, was asked about the death penalty, he is infamous for having secure for the Oklahoma bomber, saying that he changed his mind about it, because all the different things that come out about how it is, you know, carried out, that plays into it.

CAMEROTA: Yes, so this one had to be unanimous in order for him to get the death penalty and it wasn't because the three jurors said no.

COATES: It's heartbreaking.

CAMEROTA: Yes, it's -- I mean, it is heartbreaking, obviously, for the families over and over again. They are going to be able to make victim impact statements about how they feel about all of this in November.

COATES: The jury said this, but the judge has to actually make a final call.

CAMEROTA: Okay. So, we are talking a lot about Parkland. More after the break. Our panel is going to weigh in on this jury's recommendation of life without parole but not the death penalty. We will be right back.




CAMEROTA: We are back with our panel now, Margaret Talev, Bakari Sellers, and Scott Jennings, talking about the Parkland mass shooting and what the jury decided today. So, they decided for life without parole but not the death penalty.

And so, Bakari, we were talking about this during the break. There were 41 mitigating factors. Most of them having to deal with his mental illness, his mental illness and mental disorder. Why isn't that sort of, by reason of insanity, be spared?

SELLERS: That's an interesting question. Let me just say this. I actually feel like the public policy issue of the death penalty is one of the more conflicting public policy issues we have. I firmly believe the Dylann Roof or the Parkland shooter if we're going to have a death penalty reach the threshold for being killed by the state.

The problem with that, though, as we all know, is that the state is not infallible. They make mistakes. And you cannot have a death penalty where people make mistakes. He was mentally ill, there is no question, and the prosecutor in this case and the defense in this case did a good job of highlighting that. And the defense said, look, in this country -- paraphrasing -- do we kill mentally ill broken people? And the jury resoundingly said, no, we do not.

And so, I firmly believe that -- I sit here and I just try to put myself in the shoes of those parents. And it's a very, very difficult decision but you have to respect it. However, if we're going to have a death penalty, I agree with DeSantis on this, if we are going to have a death penalty, this is somebody who we should have the death penalty for.

COATES: I'll be clear, though, we are talking about mental health. There's such a stigma surrounding mental health in this country and around the globe. The idea of somebody having mental health issues does not equate with doing what this person has done.

One, you have to be really careful, I know you're not saying this, he is not guilty or not guilty by reason of insanity. He did not make that particular plea. And there is a really legal notion, and Bakari knows this well, the idea of what it would take to show that you are insane and have insanity defense. And he pleaded guilty. He didn't push for that, whether you think it's problematic or not, but that's why it's so convoluted to the point you're making, why there's so much nuance to it.

TALEV: I think this is a human tragedy for every one parent and person that it touched.

CAMEROTA: And all of us, by the way. All of us who just watched it. All of us who watched it and lived through like -- this left a stain on America.

TALEV: Sandy Hook, Parkland --


TALEV: Uvalde. In this moment, I don't mean to reduce everything to a political issue, but it's a confluence of two of the most potent sorts of violence-related issues at the moment, and one is gun violence and mental health issues, right? And the other is crime, which is becoming a potent issue in election.

Joe Biden has said as a candidate during the campaign, has said as president, that he would fight to end the death penalty at the federal level, to end the death penalty. But is that the argument you're going to take in the closing three and a half weeks before the midterm elections?

And people, individuals are so conflicted about this. Even if you don't believe in the death penalty, you believe that people who commit atrocities like this should be punished, stopped, and prevented from ever hurting anyone again, right? Parents are conflicted about this. Policymakers are conflicted about this.

COATES: There are responses on Twitter, too. We now have responses today. There is one in favor in talking about it. One person says, of course, the Parkland families are outraged, but that does not mean the system did not work. There's another tweet that says, it is an outrage the Parkland shooter was spared the death penalty when his victims got death.

I mean, you see -- another person said -- there is another talking about the conflicts that we are talking about. What do you think?


JENNINGS: You know, I have a -- I'm very conflicted on this issue like Bakari talking out to it to feel just completely broken for these parents. I have four kids at home. I get to go home to them and these parents don't. I can't even begin to comprehend what that is like for them. I want justice for those people.

At the same time, I've set out here, Bakari and I have on many days, when we take criminal justice matters where juries have been involved, and I have argued the same thing every time, if we are going to have institutional integrity and trust in institutions, then juries have to be respected, even when they make decisions that don't make us feel good or didn't come out the way you thought.

And this jury made decision. It's easy to disagree with what the jury did here but I do think, in many of these emotional cases, institutional integrity matters. But boy, in this case, if there ever were going to be one for the death penalty, I don't know how it wouldn't be this one. We were talking in the break about the guy in Waukesha, again, clear example to me of somebody that if there ever is going to be one, there needs to be one, but I keep returning to this idea of a jury of American citizens put in a room to make decision inside of an institution that is supposed to have integrity and that we're all supposed to trust.

CAMEROTA: Yeah. Great point. Guys, thanks so much for being with us tonight.

COATES: Thank you, everyone, for watching.

CAMEROTA: Our coverage continues.