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Herschel Walker And Raphael Warnock Face Off; Rare Unity Seen Between Lawmakers; Victims' Families Question Jury's Verdict To A Murderer; Parkland Murder Case Not Easy For Jurors; Ron Johnson Booed By The Crowd. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired October 14, 2022 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Thanks so much for joining us tonight and this week in our 9 p.m. experiment. Until next week, you can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the TikTok at Jake Tapper. Our coverage continues now with the magnificent Laura Coates and the excellent Alisyn Camerota. Hey, Laura. Hey, Alisyn. How you guys doing?
LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: The way Alisyn cocked her head just now she's waiting for her adjective to kick in. She was like, if she's magnificent, what am I. I saw it.
TAPPER: She's excellent. Excellent.
COATES: Here we go.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Excellence is great, dashing, Jake tapper.
TAPPER: Simple, but classic.
TAPPER: Simple but classic.
CAMEROTA: Thank you.
COATES: We like the no tie, right Alisyn? It gives a different vibe from him.
CAMEROTA: Well, I like --
TAPPER: Somebody stole all my ties. It's not a fashion choice. It was tie theft.
CAMEROTA: Yes. I see. I also like that you're calling it an experiment. You should be in a white lab coat starting on Monday.
TAPPER: Waist, the waist down, I am.
CAMEROTA: Disturbing. COATES: This just became a little bit real just now. Wonderful. Nice
to see you, Jake.
CAMEROTA: Thanks, Jake. Have a great weekend.
TAPPER: Good to see you, guys.
COATES: Everyone, we are keeping the conversation going tonight, not about the lab coat and Jake Tapper, but here we are. Good evening, everyone. I am Laura Coates in Washington, D.C.
CAMEROTA: And I'm Alisyn Camerota in New York. And this is CNN TONIGHT.
So, we're here with our panelists from across the political spectrum, one team here in New York with me.
COATES: And the other team here in Washington, D.C. So we're going to kick it off with the Herschel Walker, Raphael Warnock Senate debate. It just wrapped up a little while ago, Alisyn in Georgia, as we're getting ready to talk to our panelists as well.
But wow. Have you seen some of these clips?
CAMEROTA: Yes, I was trying to watch it while we were prepping, and it's a very high stake. It was a very high stakes debate because it's the only one until election day.
CAMEROTA: And of course, all eyes on everyone knew the abortion issue would come up and how Herschel Walker was going to address it, and how Raphael Warnock was going to address it. So we'll get into that right now.
Let's get the impressions of our panel. We have CNN economics commentator, Catherine Rampell here, along with CNN political commentators, Scott Jennings, and Nina Turner, co-chair of Bernie Sanders 2020 Presidential campaign.
Guys, thanks so much for being here with me. Let's get right to it. Let's see how they talked about the issue that has been in the news all week, and that is the abortion claims. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN: This week you said that the accusations are, quote, "all lies." For the voters watching tonight. Can you explain the circumstances surrounding these claims? You have 60 seconds.
HERSCHEL WALKER (R), GEORGIA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Well, as I said, that's a lie. And you know what? Most thing I put, I put it in a book. One thing about my life is I've been very transparent. And I like the senator, he's hid things, but at the same time I said, that's a lie. And on abortion you, I'm a Christian. I believe in life. And I tell people this, Georgia is a state that respects life. And I'll be a senator that protects life. And I say That was a lie and I'm not backing down.
And you have Senator Warnock, people that would do anything and say anything for this seat, but I'm not going to back down because this seat is too important to the Georgia people for me to back down right now.
SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): The patient's room is too narrow and small and cramped a space for a woman, her doctor, and the United States government. We are witnessing right now what happens when politicians, most of -- most of them men pile into patient's rooms. You get what you're seeing right now.
WARNOCK: And the women of Georgia -- the women of Georgia, deserves a senator who will stand with them. I trust women more than I trust politicians.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Nina, I felt like Senator Warnock there pivoted away from Herschel Walker's personal story, which is problematic any way you slice it. His personal story, he has four children with four different women, three of whom he's only recently acknowledged. He's not a family man according to his son who's speaking out.
He's an absentee father. So, but I felt that Senator Warnock sort of pivoted away from diving into that. Did he miss an opportunity.
NINA TURNER, NATIONAL CO-CHAIR, BERNIE SANDERS 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: I think Senator Warnock is really concentrated on the larger issue, which is what women of this country need, not more government in their wombs, but to be able to have the ability to have choice.
However, the Republicans at large have a problem are -- is the moral issue of life, is that real for them or is it just about bossing around women. If it's real, if the moral issue is real, then Republicans in Georgia should vote for Senator Warnock to be there again if it's the moral issue.
CAMEROTA: But do you think that Senator Warnock should have gone more about his personal peccadillos for a lot of --
TURNER: Well, I mean, he could have for more political points, yes, Alisyn, he could have. But he is focused on the needs of the women of that state in this country. So, he stayed on his message.
CAMEROTA: Scott, I know you don't often give the Democrats tips, but what did you think of that response? The second --
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I could start. I mean.
CAMEROTA: Well, let's do it, let's do that. What would you have said to Senator Warnock to do right there?
JENNINGS: Well, there was more to the exchange actually. I don't know if we're going to play it or not, but Warnock also got asked directly by the moderators who I thought did a good job tonight, by the way, if there were. instances, any limits that he would put on abortion at all. And he really dodged it. He didn't have an answer for it.
And Walker got asked directly what his position on the actual policy issue was, and he said he endorsed the Georgia Heartbeat bill. So, he took a pretty specific position tonight on the Georgia bill, which he attributed to Governor Kemp, who's pretty popular in Georgia.
And Warnock I thought really dodged. I mean, it's been a central argument of his campaign to --
JENNINGS: -- to say, you know, wide open here and he kind of ran away from it. It was interesting. I thought they both --
CAMEROTA: Yes. I'm not hearing your -- you giving him advice.
JENNINGS: Well, my advice is to own your own campaign. His campaign and his record is no limits anytime, all the time.
CAMEROTA: And that's not --
JENNINGS: And that's what they're running on.
CAMEROTA: Scott, you might argue about this all the time.
JENNINGS: Yes, we do.
CAMEROTA: It's just not --
TURNER: Walker is a hypocrite.
JENNINGS: It is.
TURNER: And the Republicans are hypocrites.
CAMEROTA: It is not true, Scott.
JENNINGS: It's his voting record, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: I don't, no, it isn't, Scott. It's about -- it's about saving the mother's life. If you don't want to save the mother's life, then I don't know what we're talking about. That's, you're talking about abortion after 20 weeks, that's when it is used.
JENNINGS: That's not the limit in the bill.
CAMEROTA: That's a fact.
JENNINGS: There is no limit in the bill he voted on. And by the way, you shouldn't be exasperated. That's the core argument of his campaign. Full blown abortion on demand.
CAMEROTA: No, it isn't.
JENNINGS: It the main issue.
CAMEROTA: It's not -- it's not abortion? That's not true, Scott. Help. Catherine, well, what did you think of the clips you've seen here?
CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, I thought it was interesting in that Warnock is clearly, well, to some extent he's trying to make this a referendum on the issues, but also about his opponent. And his opponent is trying to make, Walker is trying to make the whole campaign a referendum on Biden.
And I thought that that was an interesting juxtaposition there. You saw Warnock himself distancing himself several times.
CAMEROTA: Doing -- sorry, Warnock doing what for himself?
RAMPELL: Distancing himself.
CAMEROTA: From Biden?
RAMPELL: From Biden. Given the opportunity to talk about 2024 to talk about other kinds of alliances with the president, he kind of indicated that there was some coolness between them.
RAMPELL: He also talked quite a bit about his alliances with Republicans. He talked about teaming up with Republicans on maternal health, for example, with Rubio.
So, there were a number of opportunities, another of instances where Warnock was trying to make this about, he's the bipartisan guy. You know, not specifically going after the peccadillos of his -- of his opponent, but.
RAMPELL: But, you know, trying to make it -- trying to make it about the policy, trying to make it about how he's not a died in the wall Democrat. So that was kind of interesting.
CAMEROTA: OK. So, Laura, you've heard the thoughts here of our panel. What other angles would you like to bring on?
COATES: Well, we were actually champing at the bit here just now thinking about all the other things that happened as well. And there was a moment, Alisyn, I want to play for everyone because it's a moment where, I think frankly everyone has been talking about, which is look, the no experience of Herschel Walker.
We've seen before the outsider philosophy of this person can come in. Listen to this exchange between Warnock and Herschel Walker and we'll exchange -- we'll talk about that. It's when he's talking about the closing statements, if you will.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WARNOCK: These are difficult times. These are dark times, but the scripture says that the light shines in the darkness and the darkness overcome if it not, I'm honored to represent you in the Senate. I hope that you'll show up to vote early.
WALKER: For those of you who are concerned about voting for me non- politician, I want you to think about the damage politician like Joe Biden or Raphael had done to this country. I want you to think about Raphael Warnock what he said today. And I said he was going to try to give you some smooth talk and tell you what's happening. What's happening is this country is hurting. What's happening is we need leaders.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Gosh, I'm with my panel right now. You guys, when he makes the argument and sucks about this, the idea I've -- I'm with Elliot Williams here, Nayyera Haq is a former Obama White House senior director and also Republican strategist Rina Shah, CNN legal analyst Elliot Williams as well.
I'm glad to announce you. I was so excited to talk and hear your opinions about this issue. What do you make of this discussion? I mean, the whole, look, I know I'm not a politician. But that's a good thing. Is it persuasive?
NAYYERA HAQ, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE SENIOR DIRECTOR: Well, he's trying to tie Warnock to Biden overall. And yes, Biden's overall numbers in Georgia. And Georgians in general are polling that they don't think the country is headed in a good direction. But they -- two thirds of Georgians will say they would encourage their friends and family move to Georgia. They think things in Georgia itself are great.
So, we're seeing one of these weird things we haven't seen in a long time. A split ticket, 10 percent of Republican voters for Kemp, for governor really like Warnock. So, it's almost as if they've neutralized the race issue on the surface and now maybe people are actually able to look at the issues.
COATES: I wonder though, whenever think about race issues, especially in Georgia and think of the conversations up till now has been about law enforcement in part. And that was one of the ways they tried to get at Herschel Walker, and also Raphael Warnock.
[22:09:59] And listen to this exchange as well. I'll let you hear this as well with how they had to talk about it was discussing about, well, you'll see maybe a prop of some kind was used.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WARNOCK: You can support police officers as I've done through the cops program, through the invest to protect program, while at the same time holding police officers like all professions accountable.
One thing I have not done, I've never pretended to be a police officer. And -- and I've never -- I've never threatened a shootout with the police.
WALKER: And now I have to respond to that.
UNKNOWN: We -- we are -- we are moving on, gentlemen.
WALKER: No, no, no. I have to respond to that. And you know what's so funny. I am with many police officers and at the same time --
UNKNOWN: Mr. Walker, Mr. Walker.
WALKER: No, no, no.
UNKNOWN: Mr. Walker. Mr. Walker. Mr. Walker, excuse me.
WALKER: No, no, no, when he said the problem with the truth --
UNKNOWN: Mr. Walker, please, out of respect.
WALKER: The truth is in here. Yes.
UNKNOWN: I need to let you know, Mr. Walker, you are very well --
UNKNOWN: -- aware of the rules tonight?
UNKNOWN: And you have a prop.
UNKNOWN: That is not allowed, sir.
UNKNOWN: I ask you to put that prop away. WALKER: Well, it's not a prop. This is real. And he said, I have a
problem. I never was a --
UNKNOWN: But it is considered a prop, Mr. Walker.
UNKNOWN: Excuse me, sir.
UNKNOWN: You're very well aware of the rules, aren't you?
WALKER: Well --
UNKNOWN: Are you aware of the rules?
WALKER: He brought up the truth, so let's talk about the truth.
UNKNOWN: Well, thank you for putting that prop away.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Elliot, I know you were dying to say the rules are there are not the rules. I know you -- I know there was a movie reference coming out of you.
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No. Come on.
COATES: I knew you. Come on.
WILLIAMS: Come on, Don't --
COATES: Yes, it was coming.
COATES: No, no, no, no. You know, it -- I think there's a lot going on right there. The prop thing was sort of stupid and silly and, OK, maybe it's real badge, maybe it doesn't. I think what's striking here is that you have two black men debating on a stage. Right. And the net, frankly, you know, to state the obvious the next senator from Georgia is going to be a black man.
Now, something that Walker did point to earlier in the debate is, you know, his own race and his own blackness. There's a lot of ways to be a black person in America, as I think you and I can attest to, and many of the people, the viewers watching.
Now, at the end of the day, law enforcement and the experiences of black folks are an important issue to come up in a debate. I don't know if that really helped move the debate forward at all. But to be clear, none of this is to ever say that race is now off the table because these two black men are running.
There's still black people in the deep south. It's a spec looming over this race.
COATES: Rina, Rina, what do you think?
RINA SHAH, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes. You know, throughout this campaign, I've just seen Walker do this aw-shucks routine, and to me, it's kind of ingenious because it immediately disarms voters and makes them think, well, he's sort of on the same plane as me. He's much like me.
And for people who don't have a plug into Washington, it works every single time. This badge, pulling out this prop badge just as a continuation of that routine.
I saw one thing tonight that really struck me, and it's the fact that there was dodging of the questions by both men actually, and that just was just obvious to me. Yes, Walker struggled with delivery, but there were moments in which he was able to shine and again, bring that sort of relatability out. I'm not like them. I'm like you. That's the challenge.
HAQ: Here's the challenge what happens though with, is that when Walker gets these moments, he's constantly fighting his own negative narrative. A negative narrative that he has himself has fallen into. Right? Emphasize absentee --
COATES: He does step on the rake a lot.
HAQ: Right? Absentee fatherhood. Now we're talking about how he takes care of children or not. The idea of whether or not a badge is fake, whereas you have Walker, rather you have Senator Warnock able to walk around Georgia for the last year and some change talking about the bipartisan infrastructure investments, right?
Like he's talking about real deliverables and an environment where the majority, vast majority of Georgians like their state and how things are going, that environment favors incumbents.
WILLIAMS: Really interesting thing about that aw-shucks, I'm just a simple country former Heisman winner who's running for office here.
HAQ: And he is the guy who you know now runs the church that Martin Luther King today.
WILLIAMS: Here's the thing, I'm not a career politician, not noting that Raphael Warnock has been a politician literally for 19 months. Somehow, he's managed, and maybe it'll land with the Georgia voters, but managed to create this narrative that somehow this man who literally was a pastor, still is a pastor and is not a career politician by any stretch of the imagination, but is the problem in Washington. It's really fascinating. Maybe it works. Who knows? COATES: Well, let's, I mean, Alisyn, when you think about this, I
mean, we're thinking about the ways in which the aw-shucks, I think that can be new phrase, the aw-shucks moment of tonight. You know, we are looking at this, obviously we are the, the national media of CNN having these conversations, but they do say all politics is local.
Is it working, you think a way to kind of say, listen, they can tell you who you're supposed to vote for or why I shouldn't be the person, but Georgia, you tell me. Is that even persuasive to you?
CAMEROTA: I think so actually, because I also thought that, Herschel Walker did a good job of really lowering expectations beforehand. I mean, there was this --
COATES: Is that intentional though?
CAMEROTA: Yes. Yes.
CAMEROTA: Because there was this moment, there was this moment beforehand back in September where, they -- he was asked about the debate and he said, look, I'm not that smart, basically. I mean, I think I'm quoting him.
CAMEROTA: He self-described. He's like, I'm not that smart, but Raphael Warnock, he's a real smart guy and he dresses really nice, so I know he's going to kind of kick me around. Like, that's the ultimate aw-shucks where he's saying like, don't expect anything and then everything's going to be better, you know, than that.
COATES: Well, I mean, the lawyer in me loves to manage expectations, but the voter in me, I don't know, I wrestle with whether it's intentional or whether it's, that's how it started. And then a great strategist said, you know what? Let's lean into this more.
Either way, an outsider we know have been successful, they've been successful at all facets of the government. But after a while, I wonder how much outside you can be if you run for reelection.
CAMEROTA: Good point. But we'll see what happens in the next couple of weeks. OK. Everybody, stick around. We have a lot more to talk about. We also want to know what you think. So, what's your reaction to this race between Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker? That and anything else you want to say to Laura and me. And I mean anything.
COATES: Alisyn means anything.
COATES: Just Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: That's right. Use the hash tag CNN sound off at Alisyn Camerota at the Laura Coates.
COATES: All right, tonight we've got some more never before seen video from January 6th, the filmmaker, Alexandra Pelosi, Speaker Nancy Pelosi's daughter, you know, she was at the capitol to document the peaceful transfer of power.
Now we know that didn't happen, and what she captured was her mother and Vice President Mike Pence on a call, the two of them trying to work out how to certify the electoral vote from Fort McNair, where congressional leaders were actually sheltering in place.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NANCY PELOSI (D), U.S. SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: We're actually Fort McNair, which has facilities for the House and the Senate to meet as a backup plan should anything like -- no, not like this, but anything happens, that would warrant that. The logistic, they want to bring all the members here House and Senate anyway. We're just making a judgment. We'd rather go to the capitol and do it there, but it doesn't seem to be safe. What do you think? How do you feel?
But he spoke in terms of going back to the capitol, which is what we want to do too. But Mitch was talking about going back to the capitol.
Well, we would like to go back to the -- I -- that would be our hope as well. The security is telling us that it's going to be a while before the capitol will be able to do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Alisyn, yes.
CAMEROTA: Laura, this is, yes. Yes, it's so valuable. This video, seeing it every single frame of it is so valuable for the American public to see, because what that just reveals to me, and I struck by that again yesterday, which was that Mitch -- Senator Mitch McConnell and Vice President Pence were determined to have them come back to the capitol that night.
CAMEROTA: And vote to certify, while Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer wanted that to happen, but weren't sure it was going to be able to happen. So, they were looking for alternatives because they weren't sure that it would be able to be cleaned up and get everybody out.
But I mean, the more we hear from this, it was Vice President Pence and Mitch McConnell whose -- who made it happen back there. COATES: Yes. And think about how she said it. Mitch wants to, we tell
the familiarity. You don't often hear that, that Mitch, she's talking to Mike, Mike Pence. We'd all had wondered all this time, Alisyn, what was going on? What was transpiring? How did they end up getting back to the capitol that night to finalize and finish the job that was actually supposed to be there?
I'm going to turn to our panel here in D.C. and ask their advice and thoughts on this. With me here, Nayyera Haq, Rina Shah, and Elliot Williams. Again, you guys, I mean, are you struck by the fact that, again, this is not the commander in chief who's doing any of this.
They were so intent in making sure that the American people, and dare I say, the world knew that this was getting done today. This was classic taking care of business. So that strike you as unbelievable?
WILLIAMS: Yes. You know, it's interesting. I feel like a lot of people have this gauzy image of the 1980s of Reagan and Tip O'Neill and these guys that cut the backroom deals and everything worked out. Finding it was perfect and wonderful. And it's not, you know, it's not the case. Right?
A lot of that still exists today, but you have the artifice of these politicians needing to go out and blast each other right afterward.
WILLIAMS: Now, sadly, it took a tragedy to expose these people actually interacting like human beings and people that care for each other and so on. How we get past the ugly partisanship is really beyond me. But it, you know, but they do work together well behind the scenes. That was evident on the state. Tragic.
COATES: What do you think -- human beings to me though. I mean, it is also they were -- they were poised. I mean, the human part of people would be like, I'm scared. I'm freaking out. I'm running, I'm crying. This is happening. Here's your family there.
Instead, they were like, let's get the job done.
HAQ: They were ready to serve their country, right?
HAQ: They stepped up to the moment I, we didn't see this on the tape, but I did kind of love the moment when she pulls her mask down and as she's asking president, Vice President Pence, if he's OK and how's he's doing, and she busts out a beef jerky and just starts eating that, like --
COATES: Snapping into a Slim Jam. HAQ: Right? Like, this is what we do, right? This is how mom's role, we take care of business. But it also exposed, right, that the very real human nature of what was going on behind the scenes, how easy it is to have the bureaucracy or people dragging their feet, gum up and put our democracy at risk, right? The, the president was still thinking of potentially of maybe even coming there.
HAQ: Where you have Senator Chuck Schumer saying, I'm going to call DOD, we need to make this happen. They're calling National Guards from other state, and we now know, based on the evidence from the committee hearings, that every one of those entities that could -- could have helped, had been dragging its feet all along.
WILLIAMS: And you know, Laura, it's important that you said that the world has had its eyes on us at that moment because in a period of transition, that is when adversaries of the United States are watching America and ready to pounce.
COATES: That's right.
WILLIAMS: And we, they -- Pelosi even says it at some point we need to show that our government can continue and endure and so on. So, it was a symbol to not just the other political private --
SHAH: You're right. But even more so, it was that classic show of American strength that I think we can all unify around and say our country needed to meet that moment and our leaders met it. And as some people --
COATES: Well, some of our leaders met it.
SHAH: Well, let's be honest, I think, you know, we saw Thune in the room, Senator Thune, Senator Mitch McConnell, you know, McCarthy absent? I didn't see him anywhere. I saw Scalise. So, yes.
COATES: There's a scene that he's there just where he takes his -- his glass or glass off for a moment. He's there, but we don't know from him.
COATES: Yes. So, of course, whatever your politics are, Nancy Pelosi was the star of that show, and if that wasn't a brilliant ad for why we need to elect more women to office, like, I don't know what it is. Because she was just calm and cool and she, it was just obvious to me that she wanted to take care of everybody.
Didn't matter what their party was and she just wanted to get the job done. And I think it all just goes back to this feeling that we need each other. We need to go across the aisle. And I'm a former Capitol Hill staffer. I know nothing gets done on that hill unless one side meets the other in the middle.
HAQ: We did do something to make sure this doesn't happen again.
HAQ: They updated the Electoral Count Act, and that's literally to make sure that that moment of official certification is just going to be a proforma thing, right? That this --
HAQ: -- this pomp and circumstance is going to be acknowledged, but you can transfer and actually elect a president without having to have that --
COATES: Well, there's a --
HAQ: -- capitol a target again.
COATES: There's a -- there's one thing you said though. It made me think. And I'm going to bring Alisyn in this too, because we were talking about this offline too. I mean --
JENNINGS: (Inaudible) Senate both McConnell --
COATES: -- the idea here when you've got the question of why are we just seeing this now? I mean, the idea for the reasons that it did show strength. I mean, Pelosi was undeniably strong, had the resolve. McConnell was involved. You had Schumer. You saw different actors who were all there. Vice President Pence.
There are talking points as you know out there, and chatter is always going to be around, that this was a hell of an ad campaign to show what it means to have Democrats in control or bipartisanship working. I wonder if that is part of what people will take away, that sort of cynical view of, I know why we're seeing this now.
CAMEROTA: Well, I mean obviously they did hold it for this hearing. And it was powerful. I mean, the hearing, the committee members have wanted to have some level of a bombshell each time.
CAMEROTA: And something new that people could take away and something that viewers would tune in for. And I get that in terms of TV production and wanting to draw eyeballs. It makes total sense. In terms of if we'd seen it earlier, would it have changed anything? I don't know. I don't know. I'm just grateful that we're seeing it now for all of the reasons that we're talking about. I think it's a really important piece of history there.
COATES: Well, I ask, I mean, for me, I think about taking a step back. I wonder why the committee didn't use it sooner. That, I mean, that to me, I think about in prosecuting and trying to make sure you have a case and you lead with your, the proverbial Trump. I think, man, the more I have to show the chaos and what's happening and getting things done, the more you think about using it. I wonder what went into that calculus. I really do.
CAMEROTA: I think we'll have an opportunity to ask some of them at some point about that. All right, Laura, great panel.
Meanwhile, here's what's coming up. So, a jury deciding that the Parkland School shooter deserves life in prison without parole. So not the death penalty, as you know.
CAMEROTA: But the families of his victims say that's not justice. So, we're going to speak to one of those family members and to a juror who's going to explain their thinking.
CAMEROTA: A jury in Florida deciding against the death penalty for the gunman who killed 14 students and three staff members at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Instead, the jury recommending life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The decision deeply disappointing many of the victim's family members, including Linda Beigel Schulman. She's the mother of Scott Beagle, the teacher who died protecting his students.
And Linda, it's always great to see you despite the really trying circumstances of this week. And so, Linda, tell me why you were disappointed and what message you think this verdict sends.
LINDA BEIGEL SCHULMAN, MOTHER OF PARKLAND SHOOTING VICTIM SCOTT BEIGEL: Well, thank you for having me, and thank you for always being with me from the very beginning. I -- you have no idea how much that means.
The verdict was, I believe the verdict was wrong. I mean, when we -- when we heard the verdict, we were all in disbelief. I mean, you know, I find that the verdict was totally disrespectful of the 17 people that were murdered, it seems like the jury decided that the murderer's life was way more important than the life of the 17 people that he murdered. It was just so wrong.
I mean, all of the aggravating factors were checked off, every single one of them. And I believe that if the jury would've gone forward with the letter of the law and how they go through the mitigating -- the aggravating factors, and they checked them all off and said, yes, he did this, and yes, he did this. And yes, he did this. It was unanimous that every single aggravating factor was checked off.
And the mitigating factors, there's no way in the world that those mitigating factors could have outweighed the aggravating factors.
SCHULMAN: I mean, the state's attorney did such a great job and even disproved the experts from the defense attorneys. It just boggles the mind.
CAMEROTA: Well, I do want to ask you about those mitigating factors, because there was this lengthy list of 41 different mitigating factors. I mean, everything from fetal alcohol syndrome, developmental disorders. He was sexually abused, he had neurological impairments.
Should those factors matter?
SCHULMAN: Yes, they should matter if they were proven. It seems like the -- it seems like the defense attorneys threw as much linguini on the wall to see what would stick. But you know what? After every single one of those mitigating factors, the state's attorneys could prove -- could disprove them and prove them wrong.
At one point they had to reread part of -- part of, you know, the record that had been made. Part -- they asked the court reporter to read back some portions. And what the court reporter read back should have proven to them that the expert that dis that said that fetal alcohol syndrome was, you know, one of the top reasons. Our testimony disproved all of it.
It was just, and at one point they also asked to see the weapon, the AR-15, the weapon of war. I mean, because at one point they said something about, you know, the tapping of his finger. Well, he managed to tap the trigger of that AR-15 139 times and it didn't seem to bother him.
CAMEROTA: Linda, as I mentioned, we have one of the jurors who was a no vote on the death penalty coming up. What do you want to say to the jurors about this?
SCHULMAN: You know, I know they had a job to do and they did their job and their job was unbelievable day in and day out looking at autopsy photos, looking go - actually going to the 1200 building.
I just, I would love to be able to ask the juror face to face what it was, what, tell me. Tell me why. Why did you find it that this murderer who was cold-blooded, he premeditated, calculated and planned it all and wrote it out and did exactly what he wrote out. Exactly the way and what he put on his cell phone and it -- how he dictated what he was going to do. And I'm -- I want to -- I want to make everyone suffer.
He actually did everything that he planned. I would like to know why they didn't give him the death penalty. Let's face it, Alisyn. I mean, it's a perfect death penalty case. If this case did not warrant the death penalty, then why do we have a death penalty? And I want to know if their, you know, if their own feelings and their emotions played into this. It's not supposed to. Your emotions should not be playing into, you know, the verdict. It just shouldn't. And it seems to me that, I mean, one of the mitigating factors, I think number one was, he's a human being. Really?
CAMEROTA: Yes, that was -- I was struck by that one as well. That one, I don't know. I mean, I don't. I mean, you know, that's its own statement, but the others were complicated. But I hear everything that you're saying and we'll try to get you some answers, Linda.
Thank you for making the time and sharing your thoughts with us. I know it's been a really hard week for you and so many of the other family members, and we're thinking of you and of Scott, and of your entire family. And Linda, thanks so much for being with us.
SCHULMAN: Thank you, Alisyn. Thank you for always being there for me.
CAMEROTA: So, Laura, you just heard there.
CAMEROTA: I mean, I think that Linda has always been able to, I think in a really straightforward, direct way, talk about how she's feeling and exactly what she wants, and she just did. Again, they want answers.
CAMEROTA: They just want to know what the reasoning was. If this was a perfect death penalty case to the victim's families, and that's what they all say, then what happened? What went wrong there?
COATES: You know, I can't help but think about the evergreen nature of this and how on the backdrop of other school shootings and the process to try to even bring a case to trial if the shooter is even still alive. I mean, all this is going through my mind as I'm listening to her talking about my mind goes to what's going on in places like Uvalde.
Going on to what's happened in Connecticut with the parents of the Sandy Hook victims and beyond.
And you know, up next, Alisyn, I'm actually going to speak with a member of the jury who did vote against the death penalty, and I want to hear what she has to say.
COATES: One of the Parkland jurors says serving on that jury in such a horrific mass shooting case, it was one of the hardest experiences of her life. And then after the vote to recommend life without parole, but no death penalty for the shooter. Well, the atmosphere in the jury room got ugly. That juror is Melody Vanoy, and she joins me now. Melody, thank you for coming. This can't be easy, the entire process. I mean, I know as a former prosecutor, look, you don't ask to be on a jury, and we ask a lot of the jurors you've had to go visit the site that was preserved. You've been to this school. You've had to be through the trial. You've seen the pain and anguish.
MELODY VANOY, JUROR IN PARKLAND SCHOOL SHOOTING TRIAL: Right.
COATES: I want to check in with you, Melody. You said it was one of the most horrific experiences of your life to even go through this trial. What has it been like emotionally for you to be in this position?
VANOY: Harrowing to say the least, as I stated earlier, it's one of the hardest things I've ever gone through, in my life.
COATES: When you hear, and we are all hearing, we just heard from one of the mothers of a victim, there's been a lot of conversation about people watching the decision that was made. And at one point she mentioned, and others have, if this is not the -- the phrase was a perfect death penalty case.
I wonder what, what was the deciding factor for you as to why this particular defendant should have had life without the possibility of parole?
VANOY: First of all, you know, we were instructed that he will be punished. In either way, it is a punishment. Also, I, for me, it was the culmination of the mitigating factors. And I was undecided up until the very end.
And during deliberation going through some of the other evidence and, you know, being able to sit with it and read it in its entirety. I believe that overall that the system really, really failed. I saw numerous documents where several professionals, as well as members of the school district recommended that he being a residential facility, since he was very young, that didn't happen.
So, I think it was a measure of, you know, his whole background, from be -- in utero -- in utero all the way through to till that day.
COATES: Yes. I mean, there were about 41 different mitigating factors and obviously you were instructed.
COATES: That, look, at the end of the day you have to decide collectively as a part of the jury whether --
COATES: -- those mitigating factors outweighs what he has done to others. And as you mentioned, you talk about the system failing him. What do you -- what was it like when you were speaking your mind in the deliberation process? I understand things got ugly. Were there particular points that stuck for the other jurors trying to persuade you to choose differently? And if so, what were those moments?
VANOY: I think it was -- it was very, you know, respectful going, you know, through the process. Things really didn't get heated until after the paperwork had been turned in and those who were very strongly felt that he should have been given the death penalty in a very small room, started to chat and insinuate some things about those of us who, you know, voted for life.
COATES: Like what, what did they insinuate?
VANOY: That particularly the one juror who knew, you know, what her thoughts were and where she stood earlier in the process, the assumption was that she, you know, she knew, you know, going into the process how she was going to vote. So, assumption -- assumptions like that.
And it was really disheartening considering all of the months that we had be -- been together and we had formed relationships. So, it was disheartening to say the least, the comments that we, you know, that were, you know, shared --
VANOY: -- after, after the fact.
COATES: You know, there was a question earlier, as I mentioned, there was one of the mothers who was on the program and one of the questions she had. And I'd like to ask you this question, as difficult as it may be. And just to paraphrase it was, did you bring your emotions about the defendant into the deliberative process? Did you yourself pity him in a way that made you not think of the pity that maybe should have gone to the victims. That was her concern. And wondering how you balanced it.
Can you respond to whether your emotions took precedent over what you were instructed to do?
VANOY: I think if, you know, my emotions were clearly there for the victims. There's not a day that goes by that I don't see their faces, so I don't think so. What I think failed the families is the Florida law. You know, personally, should we be able to consider mitigating factors? That, you know, I'm not necessarily for that, but we have been instructed time and time again these are the rules.
It was more emotional for myself, the other jurors and even the defense attorneys during the impact statements, yet we could not consider all of that in our determination. And I think that when you have 12 very diverse unique individuals on a jury, and I'm no mathematician, I just think it's pretty hard pressed to assume despite, you know, the facts in the case that all 12 would ultimately go for the death penalty.
[22:50:09] They're different opinions on what punishment is. I know there are people out there who feel that the death penalty is the easy way out. So, everyone, you know, has their opinions about the case.
For me, and I can only speak for myself, the families and the victims are, you know -- you know, have stayed with me throughout this whole time. I feel that it is Florida law and to my understanding, the majority --
VANOY: -- ruling changed in 2016. So had that not happened, he certainly would've gotten the death penalty. And myself, I would have been OK with that. So.
COATES: Melody, thank you so much. I will tell you exactly what I told every juror in a courtroom, even though we're now in the court of public opinion, and it is. Thank you for your service. I know it was not easy. Thank you.
VANOY: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
COATES: Alisyn, it is very difficult to have mean just to wrestle with all these issues. You and I have talked about this so many times. What that must have been like for everyone in the courtroom about this whole time.
CAMEROTA: That's what I'm struck by, which is for every single one of these horrific shootings and any, I guess, burst of violence, the ripple effect. So, the victims' families -
CAMEROTA: -- are ruined and traumatized and the jurors are traumatized. I mean, just the incredible fallout across the board after a moment like this. I mean, she described it as harrowing being on that jury and having to look at all the evidence. I feel for her. And that was brave. It was brave of her to come on. And of course, it was brave of Linda --
COATES: Yes, absolutely.
CAMEROTA: -- Beigel Schulman to come on and share her feelings, but I understand how hard and traumatizing it was for everyone there.
COATES: And she talked about the difference of punishment and when the idea of the easy way out, you heard to make that comment, the death penalty is the easy way out, punishment otherwise, and also the system failing. And you catch what she said that she didn't think that mitigating factors should ought to be considered here.
And the fact that they were was required, and if he had gotten death penalty before the law changed, she alluded to, she may have been OK with that. There is -- there's a lot to unpack, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: All right. Meanwhile, we want to get to this because attacks, accusations, and smears. We're talking about the Wisconsin Senate debate. It got ugly. So ugly that Senator Ron Johnson was booed by the audience.
CAMEROTA: And that was after a softball question. So, we'll show you what happened, next.
COATES: So, CNN is learning tonight that the former President, Barack Obama will actually go to the Wisconsin state to actually stump for Senate candidate Mandela Barnes at the end of October.
Alisyn, I mean, Barnes and his Republican opponent, Senator Ron Johnson, they debated last night. And one of those moments, well, it really stands out. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN: What do you find admirable about your opponent?
MANDELA BARNES (D), WISCONSIN SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Well, no, no seriously. I do think, you know, the senator has proven to be a family man, and I think that's admirable. You know, that's absolutely to be respected. He, he speaks about his family. He's done a lot to provide for them. I absolutely respect that.
UNKNOWN: Mr. Johnson.
SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): I mean, likewise. I appreciate the fact that Lieutenant Governor Barnes had loving parents. A school teacher, father worked third shift, so he had, you know, good upbringing. I guess what puzzles me about that is with that upbringing, why is he turned against America? I mean, what, why -- why does he find the economy of America often?
UNKNOWN: All right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Alisyn, that's a definition of a backhanded. I mean, I'm -- it's that booed.
CAMEROTA: I guess. I mean, I thought that was interesting that the Wisconsin audience did not like that answer. That wasn't something positive, Senator Johnson. That wasn't the question. You failed on that question. Yes. I mean, --
COATES: You did not understand the assignment --
CAMEROTA: Yes, you didn't understand. COATES: -- (Inaudible) like a senator.
CAMEROTA: Please, yes, resubmit for a better grade. Yes, that was not civil discourse. And I wonder, I mean, I just -- I just wonder if it would hurt him -- if it will hurt him in Wisconsin, but I don't know. Just, that's just based on the boos, but probably not. They have bigger fish to fry, I'm sure.
COATES: I mean, they had to have been prepared for that question. They probably did a little bit of a focus group, so maybe he thinks with advantageous and maybe we'll see if President Obama is advantageous in Wisconsin. All right.
CAMEROTA: Tell us what you think. How would you have answered the moderator's question? Actually, yes. So, well you know what. We're going to rephrase it. Tell us something positive about us. You can tweet us at Alisyn Camerota and the Laura Coates. You could -- yes, hash tag CNN sound off. We've got much more after this.