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CNN Tonight

Campaigns Enter Final Stretch With 15 Days Until Election Day; Justice Thomas Temporarily Blocks Senator Graham's Testimony; Teen Pleads Guilty In High School Shooting That Killed Four Students; Penn State Cancels Event With Proud Boys Founder; People Around The World Join In Solidarity With Iranian Protesters; Obama Appears On Monday Night Football's 'Manningcast.' Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired October 24, 2022 - 23:00   ET




LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: So, in case you haven't heard, the midterms are about two weeks away, and the threat of chaos around election day, frankly, it's very real.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Let's discuss all of this with our political panel. We have analyst Astead Herndon, Republican strategist Doug Heye, and CNN political commentator Karen Finney. Great to have all of you with us tonight.

Okay, so, there's so much to talk about in terms of the chaos that could happen with the midterms. Let's start with election deniers. So, as you know, the places are lousy with them right now, particularly places like Arizona.

And then, today, Ted Cruz went on "The View" and could not answer the question as to whether or not basically Joe Biden was legitimately elected. And he pivoted, and Karen, this will be to you, because it is the new talking point that I hear all the time now from Republicans. When they get uncomfortable about the election denying, they pivot immediately to the past. So, let's listen to this.


ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Was Biden legitimately elected because half the party thinks that he wasn't and it will be very powerful for you to tell the truth?

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): So, listen, Biden is the president today. There is a lot of folks in the media that -- hold on, I'm answering exactly that question. There are lot of folks in the media that try to, any time a Republican is in front of a TV camera, try to say the election was fair and square and legitimate. You know who you all don't do that to? You don't do it to Hillary Clinton.


CAMEROTA: They are starting to try to claim, because Hillary Clinton and her supporters were disappointed with the outcome, but it is the same thing as what is happening now.

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Let me tell you something. On election night in 2016, we were -- you know, when these nights happen, you're on the phone trying to figure out what is happening, the votes are coming in, the question that we ask ourselves as a team was, can we get to 270?

Because we know as a staff, if we couldn't go back to Hillary and say, yes, we think we can get to 270, it is worth to try to push this out, to continue counting, then we knew she wasn't going to try to -- she knew it would be bad for the country.

That's the conversation that should be happening every election night, whether or not you legitimately have the votes and actually won or -- and not how are we going to lie, cheat, steal, evade. It's so toxic to our country to be doing this. We're already so divided and polarized and it's just further driving wedges between us. It is shameful.

COATES: I always hate when people, you know, try to somehow undermine or think that you're stupid, right? That you don't understand and recognize a pivot or recognize that somebody has not said yes or no and response to a yes or no question.

And you think about this strategy, Doug, and thinking about the way this happens -- I mean, why would a sitting senator not simply say that we essentially have free and fair elections? But then on the other side, he will likely come out and say that as long as he was elected, I mean, (INAUDIBLE) and free.

What is the strategy behind that? Is that that they think that voters are going to be like, you know what? I like this pivot. It works for me. It can't possibly.

DOUG HEYE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Our politics had gotten so tribal that an audience wants to hear what it wants to hear. The left wants to hear what it wants to hear. The right wants to hear what it wants to hear. And there is nowhere, not in the middle as in a moderate situation, but where the truth is that really satisfies anybody.

And so, this shouldn't be hard. You can say very easily, if you're Ted Cruz or any Republican senator, Donald Trump won fair and square in 2016, Joe Biden went fair and square in 2020, and I'm going to work every day to defeat Joe Biden or whomever runs in 2024.

And your base can respond to that. The politicians need to be leaders and take their base to that place of truth where you can then be the fighter you claim to be.

CAMEROTA: This analogy that they're using with Hillary Clinton is a crazy one.


CAMEROTA: She conceded. She went to the inauguration that was not hers.


CAMEROTA: Her supporters didn't have an insurrection at the Capitol. It doesn't work.

HERNDON: Yeah. We should be really clear that this is a false equivalence. There is no equal action between what happened in 2016 and what happened in 2020.

But the reason the senator is making this very obvious pivot, to your point, is because he read those results from the republican primaries just like everybody else did. Trump-backed candidates were successful even though they embrace those false election claims.


And so, he is following where the base is right now and trying to calibrate his position to that. Now, to your point, that is not leadership, particularly on the facts of where the election is. But that is a politician reading the signs of where the grassroots of the Republican Party are and trying to match his rhetoric to that.

COATES: But part of this, though, is about the January 6 Committee. We are conflating some of it -- I mean, they're conflating, to your point. But you're talking about 2016, I think what they're -- I hate to put words in someone's mouth, but the idea of thinking about it is, are they suggesting -- look, you doubted that the Russians did not have interference in our elections. The whole committee and the impeachments were about trying to impart and look at the interference.

They're conflating that with an investigation into whether and what led up to January 6th. But the American talking point is, hold on a second, you doubted then and now you're doubting this or you didn't doubt one or the other. Is that they're doing, conflation?

HEYE: To some extent, yes. And here is the problem just politically. Brass (ph) politics on this for Republicans. We have seen the impact that that could have when you have an election denier, called Donald Trump, go to the state of Georgia and spent his whole time there saying, the election was rigged and against me, your vote doesn't count, and Republicans lost two Senate seats on this.

So, Republicans, smart enough. If you want to win, this is not a winning strategy for you in November, and Georgia may have a runoff again this time.

FINNEY: Yeah. I mean, two things, one, Hillary Clinton. Just sprinkle it at any time. If you're Republican, you get in trouble, oh, it's Hillary's fault, right? I mean, come one. For a woman, I've always said she should be getting paid for how much they use her name. She should get royalties, for heaven's sake.

But the other thing I will say that we should be -- we should applaud is the voters because we are seeing people, despite all the challenges, coming out in record numbers. And that is something to be applauded because voters themselves are saying, you know what, I'm still going to vote. This is my country, I'm going to have my say. I don't care if you're a Republican or a Democrat. We've got to protect the freedom to vote. We know that we also got to do a better job in protecting our elections. Hopefully, we'll be able to do that.

HEYE: I really don't like agreeing with Karen as much as I'd like.


COATES: And yet you do. I love that. You know what who doesn't agree on this point as well? Speaking of election deniers, one happens to be the spouse of a sitting Supreme Court justice, Ginni Thomas.

And today, Justice Thomas, which of course was -- he is the point person from the circuit court from which this came. He gave a temporary win to Senator Lindsey Graham by saying, listen, you don't have to right now testify in front of the grand jury that was empaneled in Georgia --


COATES: -- because we need to figure out an administrative stay about whether the speech and debate clause really will shield you from having to say things. That, to me, talking about the idea of elections or the hint of propriety --

CAMEROTA: But how is he not --

COATES: -- that is a huge problem.

CAMEROTA: How is -- is Justice Thomas not conflicting?

HERNDON: If I had to ask you that question, I would not be political reporter, I would be a lawyer, you know. I do think that you have a real feeling of the wrap up of the conflict of interest between the Supreme Court justice and what was obviously his wife's leaning in to those very clear election conspiracies, those false claims that the election was stolen. And she was not just a passive member of that, but was actively using her power and trying to rally others to that cause.

CAMEROTA: We have --

HERNDON: So, there is no shortage of facts here that the Thomas household was very much wrapped in the core questions of the election denial.

CAMEROTA: Let us just remind everyone. So, Ginni Thomas, on November 10th, after news organizations have rejected Joe Biden the winner, sent this text to Mark Meadows. Help this great president stand firm, Mark!!! The majority knows Biden and the left is attempting the greatest heist of our history.

She was a witness in January 6. How can her husband not have recused himself from all matters about January 6th and the election, basically?

KINNEY: It is shameful and it is yet another example of a Supreme Court that is out of control, that is literally not operating in the best interest of this country.

I mean, I will never forget, you know, when Judge Thomas said after the Dobbs decision, remember he touched on privacy, but then he didn't say anything about biracial or interracial marriage which, as a biracial person, I was looking for that one, but as a man who himself is married to a white woman, right, that one touches a little too close to home, but we are just going to live and out of the law, you know, to suit us.

COATES: To be fair, one point, about Justice Thomas, he did refer it to or he is likely to refer it to the entire Supreme Court to then decide the issues on administrative stay. But the point is not lost that although he has the point person for that circuit, the fact that he is able to entertain even that moment is cause for concern. I remember the hint in propriety, right, is the issue, not just the obvious.


CAMEROTA: All right, let's go quickly to -- there is a new sound coming out of the Bob Woodward's audiotapes with the President Trump. Bob Woodward, as you know, has been releasing all of these, you know, Donald Trump, in his own words. This is the moment that we just heard for the first time this evening and it is about how he was explaining the COVID outbreak to his 13-year-old son, Barron.


BOB WOODWARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE WASHINGTON POST (voice-over): I wanted to capture the moment when your son Barron asked you about this.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, he's just turning 14, so he was 13. In the White House, upstairs, in his bedroom. He said, dad, what's going on? I said, it came out of China, Barron. Pure and simple. It came out of China. And it should've been stopped.

And to be honest with you, Barron, they should've let it be known it was a problem two months earlier. We have 141 countries, have it now. And I said, the world wouldn't have a problem. We could've stopped it easily.


CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, that is not wrong. I mean, if China had been more transparent about it.

HEYE: It's not your typical father-son conversation.


HEYE: Presidents don't have typical father-son conversations sometimes. And what he said was right. It just is a little strange and you're scratching your head on -- is that the father-son conversation --

CAMEROTA: Is that the bedtime story that happens in the White House?

KINNEY: Right. I mean, you can tell that by asking the question. He was looking for a little texture, right? A little like, I sat him down and I explained to him, but I told him, don't be afraid. Some version, right, of comforting. It is just that Donald Trump don't do that. He is always on his talking points, came out of China, came out of China, even with his kid.

HEYE: Whether or not that was the conversation or not. There is a good chance that wasn't the conversation.

KINNEY: That's a great one.

COATES: The larger point to me is, you know, it is almost cognitive dissonance, right? We could have stopped it a long time go, but the point was, at the time that he was in office, he was the president of the United States and couldn't take an action in some respect to be more productive about alerting people and legislating a ruling -- not ruling, he has a rule, but being the head of executive appropriately, so was lost in the conversation.

HERNDON: Absolutely. Whether the origin of the coronavirus, whether how he packaged that message to his son, he could've been a more prepared president and lead the country in that political moment. I think, in that time, we saw all the flaws of the Trump White House really spill out into public policy: the unpreparedness, the mixed messaging, the lack of discipline. Those are real human cost.

And so, I certainly think it is, you know, just hearing Donald Trump recounts all stories, it was kind of a fascinating experience. But you are right that that does really show some of the distance between what he was saying privately and what we were seeing on the public rage and in his role as commander-in-chief.

COATES: Yeah. It's fascinating to think about it all. And here we are still together. How wonderful. The question now is, are we on the verge of another chaotic election? Maybe.

And what do you think of Ted Cruz on "The View" refusing to say Joe Biden was legitimately elected? What are you thinking? As our conversation unfolds, let us know what you are thinking about that and anything else you want to say to Alisyn and me, within reason. Tweet as at the @alisyncamerota and @thelauracoates.




COATES: A teen accused of killing four students at a Michigan high school last year pleaded guilty today. Sixteen-year-old Ethan Crumbley pleading guilty to 24 total charges, including one count of terrorism and four counts of first-degree murder, facing up to life in prison without the possibility of parole on several of the charges.

His parents, Jennifer and James Crumbley, are each being charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter after prosecutors accused them of giving their son easy access to a gun, ignoring signs that he was a threat before the shooting. Those two pleaded not guilty and their trial will start expected in January.

For more, I want to bring in CNN legal analyst Paul Callan. Doug Heye and Karen Finney are also back with us. Paul, first of all, a bit of a surprise that he pleaded guilty after -- this could have been initially. It wasn't that the facts have changed in any meaningful way. What do you think is behind it? Is there may be a cooperation in some way or the facts were just too overwhelming?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: There was a little bit of cooperation in what we called the plea allocution, when he answered the questions of the prosecutor to admit his guilt. But what was very surprising was he plead guilty to all 24 accounts in the indictment, and the prosecutors said, we've made no deal whatsoever with him. So, the judge in the case could give the maximum sentence, consecutive counts, on each count.

So, I think what's going on is they want to assert an incendiary defense originally. Defense lawyers came to conclusion that it was an untenable defense. It's very hard to prove insanity in a court of law. Ultimately, they decided the only hope for him was to have him plead guilty to everything and for the court to see that level of cooperation, and they're going to use that to argue that he should get a lighter sentence than life in prison.

CAMEROTA: And Paul, let's talk about his parents. Okay? Legally, how are they not responsible? Before they bought their 15-year-old, again, they knew that he was paranoid, he saw demons, he had hallucination. This is all according to the prosecutor who has evidence of texts about this.

He tortured animals. He kept the severed head of a bird in his room. He had scribbled Nazi symbols in his notebook. He had drawings of guns in his notebook. He texted a friend he was going to shoot up the school.


This is before they bought him a gun. Aren't they legally responsible?

CALLAN: It's a standing. It goes even beyond that. He told the father what kind of a gun he wanted. He gave the father the money for the gun, and the father then bought the gun. By the way, it was a Sig Sauer semiautomatic pistol, a very, very dangerous weapon. And didn't lock the weapon up. He had free access to it.

Then, on the day of the shooting, he was drawing something in the classroom, and what he was drawing was a picture of a gun. And he was writing down, the thoughts won't go away. School authorities called the parents. Obviously, they would bring the parents in, and they said, you've got to bring him home and put him into counseling. The parents refused to bring him home.

When he left the house that morning, he had a backpack and in that backpack was the gun. And only an hour or so later, the shooting began. Four kids to head, seven people seriously injured.

CAMEROTA: So, these parents are going to go to prison?

CALLAN: Well, they've been charged with involuntary manslaughter, which is causing a death as a result of grossly negligent or reckless act. To my knowledge, it's the first time in the United States that parents have been charged in a mass murder case.

We see it sometimes when say a toddler gets a hold with a policeman's gun because he hasn't locked it up properly. Sometimes, you'll see a man slaughter indictment brought, but never in a case of a mass shooting. This will be a first. So, we will have to see how a jury would react to this. They're fighting it tooth and nail. Unlike the son who has pled guilty, they face 15 years in prison if they're convicted.

COATES: In Michigan, we talk about the access, who had access to the weapons. We have a different law there in terms of what they're required to do as parents and not do. But the thing about it, you make a great point, the novelty of these charges, because a lot of the law works to try to act as a deterrent to future behavior.

Unfortunately, there is a mass shooting today at a school. I mean, these issues continue to happen. And so -- the question always goes to, who knew what, when, and what the parents could have about it. So, it really sends a message, whether they ultimately convicted or not, about what the next steps might be to deter. Is it resonating with people, do you think?

KINNEY: It's interesting because it does seem -- we've had this conversation before, I hate to say, in previous mass shootings where there were questions about could they take legal action against the parents.

And it does feel that given how hard it has become to pass any gun -- common sense gun legislation, President Biden did just get a bipartisan bill passed, but we need to do more. But maybe localities are looking at, okay, what other options do we have on the table?

What's interesting about the story is a group of students actually filed a federal lawsuit against the school saying that they did not meet their obligation to keep them safe.

CAMEROTA: Because they should've checked the backpack. Can the school go through a kid's backpack?

KINNEY: And not let them go back to class.

CALLAN: Yes, they could go through it.


CALLAN: But the facts are so clear in this case. If you have a child with severe mental problems, doing things that Alisyn outlined in that introduction, you don't allow him to have access to a gun. I mean, it's that simple.

CAMEROTA: He was looking up ammunition during class time. His teacher saw him. His teacher called his mother. His mother texted then him, lol, I'm not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught. How can that that mother not be culpable to some degree?

COATES: And then later saying, don't do it.

CAMEROTA: She knew.

COATES: She knew something likely what would happen.

HEYE: We're talking about, you know, obviously, this tragic situation happened in one state. There are 49 other states that are looking very closely at this. They're going to determine in each legislature then, can we, if this is successful, can we then do that as well? And we could see this reverberate.

This is what (INAUDIBLE) which really covers everything that's happening statewide to determine trends is looking at to say, okay, this is state, what then happens in five more states and ultimately the other 49?

CALLAN: The prosecutor in this case did another thing that was unusual. He added a terrorism count to the charges against the shooter. We will see --

CAMEROTA: Because he terrorized the rest of the school and those kids are traumatized.

CALLAN: That's right. You don't see that very often in the school shooting case.

CAMEROTA: We're going to keep an eye on this. It's a fascinating case. Thank you all very much. So, one of the founders of the Proud Boys was supposed to address students at Penn State University tonight. But the event was canceled. We're going to tell you why, next.




CAMEROTA: Penn State canceling an event tonight with Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes. This is the scene. Right here. Earlier tonight. This video was tweeted out by Onward State News. that's an independent student-run Penn State news site. The university says it was forced to take an action because of the threat of escalating violence from protesters. We're seeing a bit of it there. Let's bring in Andy Campbell, a senior editor at "HuffPost." He is the author of the book "We Are Proud Boys: How a Right-Wing Street Gang Ushered in a New Era of American Extremism." Doug Heye and Karen Finney are also back with us.

Andy, it is great to have you with your expertise about this. Why did Penn State invite the founder of the Proud Boys? What did they think was going to happen on campus?

ANDY CAMPBELL, AUTHOR, SENIOR EDITOR OF HUFFPOST: Well, it was a student group that invited them, but Penn State told students who are concerned about the Proud Boys coming to campus that this was a speech issue. But students told me, no, this isn't a speech issue, this is a school safety issue.

Gavin McInnes has rules of violence for his gang. He says the top level of the Proud Boys can only be achieved if you commit a significant act of violence for the cause.


And so, they knew, coming in, that the Proud Boys are going to be there, and they knew from students telling the administration that Gavin McInnes had been on a parade of violence with his Proud Boys for the last six years.

And so, they knew something was going to happen. And clearly, you saw from that video, it did. Multiple students and members of the media were amazed by Proud Boys and their allies. So, the violence did come and it was promised.

COATES: And it's unbelievable to think about the idea of not being able to anticipate that there would, not only the protests, but the conflation to think that, oh, no, this is an issue of cancel culture or First Amendment rights, and the idea of having the marketplace of ideas take place in the school. But this is really conflating the issue. It's not about trying to silence people's viewpoint. It's about trying to anticipate how to keep the campus safe.

CAMPBELL: Absolutely. And in 2017, the administration banned Richard Spencer. He's a neo-Nazi leader who helped foment Unite the Right, the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville in 2017. The administration banned him saying, we believe in the First Amendment here. But, this isn't a First Amendment issue. The First Amendment doesn't require us to bring violence on campus.

CAMEROTA: Doug, I don't get this. I don't understand why this choice would be made. I certainly understand why college campuses would want conservative voices and would want to book conservatives for campus, of course, but with a track record of violence?

I mean, these were the guys who were behind the Charlottesville where Heather Heyer was killed.

HEYE: Yeah.

CAMEROTA: Why have somebody with a track record of violence on campus?

HEYE: It's puzzling. I'm on a board for the Harvard Institute of Politics. Karen was a fellow a couple of years ago. And also, on the Board of Visitors for the University of North Carolina. One of the things that's important to me is having diversity of thought and people who are coming to speak to students, student leadership and so forth. But you can do that and not have these kinds of situations.

And, frankly, it's common sense that you would want to avoid these kinds of situations because, ultimately, if somebody really gets hurt and we are sort of lucky that it was just ugly, that it didn't go that extra level or to that we see happened so often, colleges have to be mindful of this because then they're going to be the ones that get sued, they're the ones that are going to have to pay damages, and ultimately, experience real reputational damage.

COATES: Let me tell you, Doug, I mean, this is not a group of people who are not aware of violence being associated with them. I mean, the reason people remember the Proud Boys now, even in modern discussions in the last couple of weeks and months and years, is in part because of the history of violence.

I'm going to show the screenshot here of when it was established in 2016. I mean, the idea of the Unite the Right rally we mentioned, the idea that in 2017, members clashing outside an event at NYY. You had people arrested in New York City. And then, they had the role in January 6 as well.

I'm going to show people -- dozens are facing, you know, criminal charges related to the riot, beyond that as well. We've got people who are communicating with the Proud Boys, it seems. We have the infamous, Karen, stand back and stand by. I mean, people remember the Proud Boys now not in connection with making friendship bracelets.


FINNEY: No, absolutely not. And particularly given the footage that we've seen over the last several weeks of the summer when we saw footage from January 6th. I mean, it's right there in front of you. So, it's surprising that -- again, free speech is critically important. I'm a person who believes that.

I always want to know where you stand because then I know where you are and where I am. But at the same time, the safety concerns and the fact that the administration -- the school administration didn't recognize just by letting them be invited, like, how did they get so far down that it was tonight that they finally cancelled it and, as you said, not expecting that there would be violence?

CAMEROTA: Andy, who is the student group that thought it was a great idea to have the Proud Boys on campus?

CAMPBELL: They're called Uncensored America. They claim they are nonpartisan school group. But they have had all sorts of sort of abhorrent voices over the years, including Milo Yiannopoulos who is sort of known as an online troll and abhorrent bigot. Students certainly didn't like that one either. But that went off without a hitch.

Now, with the Gavin event, they knew that violence was coming. But the issue here is the normalization of political violence in politics right now. This gang is embraced by a number of top GOP officials. I spoke to Roger Stone for my book, Trump confidant, who told me that he'd been advising the Proud Boys politically through their crimes for years.

And so, you have this group that a lot of people believe are patriotic, our defenders of Trump's politics. And so, you know, that's probably why Penn State allowed this to happen.


COATES: You make a good point about the idea of the same group having inviting other controversial figures, we'll call them, and them being allowed to actually speak and having the events go on. This qualitatively feels different in a way that, I think you cannot simply dismiss it as a nation of cancel culture or the idea of censorship. This qualitatively felt different. I mean, you are seeing this unfold.

Are you seeing this unfold or are you seeing some analogies to what was happening at some of the event that they had known to been at, at the rally, for example, the fear of that happening again?

CAMPBELL: Yes, absolutely. I mean, I brought forth the student concerns weeks ago to the administration. They said, they had already weighed the violence versus the speech issue, and they chose speech. And, certainly, when I saw that violence there, I was not surprised because I've been covering these guys for six years, and that's what they do. It is in their rulebook.

FINNEY: It does seem that, you know, universities -- and I agree, I think, as we've said, I don't think they should have been invited. But it does speak to the pressure that I think universities are feeling, being pushed, frankly, from the right about cancel culture and being open to diverse voices. 0And I think what we've seen over the last few years a number of campuses where they really tried to -- they've struggled with that.

CAMEROTA: Yes, I hear you. And diverse voices are great. Conservative voices are great. And controversy is even okay.


CAMEROTA: But violence should really be the dividing line. Andy, thank you so much for sharing all your expertise about them.

CAMPBELL: Thank you for having me.

COATES: So important to think about the idea of what it means to have the right to speak and the right to have your own self of agency in your life. And, of course, Iranians are taking the street for more than a month now. Protests in the death of a young woman in police custody for allegedly improperly wearing her head scarf. People around the world are not joining in in solidarity. We'll talk about it, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)



COATES: People around the world are joining in solidarity with Iranian protesters. Tens of thousands gathering in Berlin this weekend alone, holding up signs about freedom and women's rights. Protests now entering the sixth week in Iran sparked by the death of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, for allegedly not adhering to the country's shirt dress code.

I want to bring in now Roya Hakakian, author of "A Beginner's Guide to America: For the Immigrant and the Curious." Also, with us, Scott Jennings and Karen Finney. I'm glad that you're here and at a moment where we've all been watching and seeing this unfold. It is outrageous to think about what has transpired but also inspiring about the protests, and largely led by young women.

ROYA HAKAKIAN, AUTHOR: That's right. That's right. I'm so glad that you juxtaposed the two next to each other because it is terrifying and it's incredibly thrilling and inspiring. You know, I think it is the best thing that has happened to feminism in a long time.

And one of the things that I was noticing last night watching a segment about Emmett Till, I thought that Mahsa Amini is in some ways the Iranian Emmett Till.

Imagine, Emmett was from Chicago. He traveled to Mississippi. Mahsa Amini was from Kurdistan and she had come to Tehran just for a short visit with family. She was totally innocent as Emmett was. And for reasons that are entirely irrational, she was stopped and then taken away and then be snapped in a van and turned up dead a few days later.

So, I think it is the degree of her innocence and the fact that she could be anyone. She could be any woman just was Emmett Till could have been any Black kid. She has become such a national figure, and I think that is what has moved people to come out and took the streets.

CAMEROTA: And now, so many of these young women are risking their lives and protesting. Something like 241 -- people have already been killed in the protests. And so many women have been injured. How long can this go on? What is going to happen there?

HAKAKIAN: Well, this is an interesting question because usually, what has happened, at least 43 years ago when the first revolution in Iran took place, in 178 and 1979, the next phase of sort of people coming out to the streets was national strikes.

There have been strikes in the past few weeks but the regime immediately shuts down the strikes by arresting all the strikers. So, the strikers are taken into custody. They have to pay huge bails in order to be released and then a whole bunch of other strikers are taken in. So, we are dealing with a whole new of rules that certainly Iranians have played by in the past, and I not sure what other revolution has been confronted with circumstances like this where you can't strike because you will be arrested.

COATES: It strikes me when people are joining in solidarity.


Here in the United States, we believe there should be a national and maybe international (INAUDIBLE) on the rights of women as it relates to abortion rights in this country. For example, the march -- the women's march, for example.

I wonder if you feel that there has been the requisite level of attention paid to what's been happening in Iran, or is the world late to even realizing the need?

HAKAKIAN: This is what I was hoping you would ask, because I think -- I think it's a very vital question that nobody is asking. What's very shocking to me is that it is the best news that could have happened to us. We had a country that has been our number one post-Cold War enemy for 40 plus years. Foe the past 20 years, we thought that a war with Iran was imminent. It never happened.

And now, suddenly, this enemy that was burning our flags, that called us the great Satan, that seemed to be the greatest threat against us. The nation is coming up to the street saying that our enemy is right here. They lie when they say it's America, and they have no other ambition other than to overthrow their government.

And I think, in some ways, Washington is not ready for good news. I met with the top class of the State Department nearly two weeks ago. And I said to everyone, including the special envoy, Robert Malley, that what the Iranian people want is a revolution. They want to overthrow the regime.

And two days ago, he posted a tweet saying that the Iranian people are asking for respect on the streets from the government. And I thought, that's not what I said, and that's not what the news coming out of Iran is.

CAMEROTA: So, Scott, what should the U.S. do?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDNET TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I think we ought to be doing anything and everything we can to support these people who are risking their lives. This is one of the most oppressive, horrific regimes on the face of the earth. What they do to women and anyone else who gets in their way is terrible.

And so, I'm a little disheartened to hear that you went ahead in a meeting and it come up a little bit short in your eyes because I would hope that we would be encouraging the people to throw off these oppressors and have self-government. I'm not arguing that we roll in there with the United States military, but I do think the United States is the light of the world when it comes to self-government.


JENNINGS: And I think -- I imagine the people on the streets, they would like to know that we are as fully behind them as we can be. I mean, obviously, Iran is (INAUDIBLE). I read that they are thinking about suing the United States, claiming that we are whipping up all these protests. No, I think the protests are being whipped up by people who have had enough.

HAKAKIAN: Exactly.

JENNINGS: And so, they need to know that we know, and I'm glad that you had that meeting.

FINNEY: So, I was with Hillary Clinton in 1995 in Beijing, China where she said women's rights are human rights and human rights are woman's right. That's what I've been thinking about every night that I watch the coverage on this. These are women -- I mean, again, Laura, it goes to what you are saying, the fundamental right to control your body, your destiny, if you have an article of clothing on the wrong way. I mean, to think that you would lose your life over that.

And there is an international struggle. I think it is part of it. Women, you know, we still, as we know here in the United States and around the world, we are paid less, we are -- there are so many inequalities. But I think that there's such a sisterhood. I would say also, though, so many brave men out there joining the women, too. I want to acknowledge that. But I do think part of it is, you know, just that basic call for freedom that people, I think, are relating to.

CAMEROTA: Thank you. Thanks so much for being here.

HAKAKIAN: My pleasure.

CAMEROTA: We will be looking forward to having you on and talking about what is really happening there.

HAKAKIAN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: All right, as you know, I'm a huge fan of Monday night football.


CAMEROTA: I can tell you --

COATES: As the world knows.

CAMEROTA: -- begins. But also, a surprise tonight. Former President Barack Obama was part of Monday night football. You heard me. I'll explain what he said, next.

COATES: And the rules of football.

CAMEROTA: Yes, yes, and who was playing. That also will come up with by the time we come back.





COATES: Former President Barack Obama on Monday night football. The man in cast tonight encouraging everybody watching to get out and vote.


UNKNOWN: What can people do to register and find out more about the process?

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Listen, every election is important in a democracy. And regardless of where you stand on the issues, you have taken 15, 20 minutes out to let your voice be heard makes a big difference. And, you know, you've got all kinds of issues from jobs, the economy, climate change, you name it.


COATES: He makes sense. You got the Chicago Bears and then talk about Patriots. You see what happens --

CAMEROTA: He's playing tonight as I was telling you.


COATES: Of course. The president also tweeting, thanks to Payton and Manning for having me on the Manningcast. It's always good watching the game with a couple other retired guys. Don't forget to register to vote at

And as we are speaking of tweets, Alisyn, what else are people saying?

CAMEROTA: Okay, so, we were talking about whether debates have become obsolete. Here is a tweet from one of our viewers.


Unfortunately, the weight of debates changed in the Trump era. Some voters are just no longer interested in intellectual conversation and the truth from candidates.

COATES: Interesting. We have another one about this topic, saying, I would agree that most voters have already decided which candidate they prefer. It's unlikely that debates will cause viewers to switch sides. However, the debate may be just enough motivation to get slackers to show up to the polls.

CAMEROTA: That's interesting. I mean, we haven't followed that. It will motivate people who are not going to vote. Okay, so this is about the aliens and the UFOs. Here is what one of our viewers says. After checking us out, including our TV and radio transmissions, the aliens likely chose to stay away and leave us alone. I can't blame them.

I like that, Jeff. So, they were hovering around and then they just took off.

COATES: Abort mission.

CAMEROTA: Exactly.

COATES: Never mind.

CAMEROTA: All right, you know where to find us, at @alisyncamerota and @thelauracoates. Thanks so much for watching.

COATES: Our coverage continues.