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Sources Say, More Locations Connected To Biden Could Be Searched After About 20 Classified Documents Discovered; Most Republicans Shy Away From Calling On Rep. George Santos (R-NY) To Resign As Some Democrats Call For Ethics Committee Investigation; Pushing For Voting Rights On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day; Mass Shooting At An MLK Event In Florida; Racially Motivated Stabbing Incident Of An Asian Student At Indiana University. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired January 16, 2023 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR: Well, good evening, everyone. I'm Laura Coates and this is CNN TONIGHT.
And you're looking live, really, at, well, the White House, and it's in turmoil. Multiple sources tell CNN there could be even more searches at even more locations after more classified docs were found that the presidents one-time private office, more founded in his home in Wilmington. And the White House Counsel's Office, it's an important point, the White House Counsel's Office is closing just this weekend that an additional five pages of classified material has also been found in Wilmington.
And we're hearing President Biden is getting frustrated by the way his administration is handling all of this. And it's maybe overshadowed what had been a pretty good new streak for his White House in recent times, at least since the red wave had not materialized. And the mood among its aides tonight described as, it is what it is, not sure what that means, but it is what it is this evening. We will talk about what that really means as they wait to see if yet another shoe drops.
Now, meanwhile, there is the congressman, George Santos. And Kevin McCarthy says, he's always had questions about the congressman's resume. Which, of course, if he's always had questions, but it raises another question of why he didn't do anything about it earlier, as another apparent whopper surfaces from Santos who lied about his resume, his education and apparently even now volleyball.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. GEORGE SANTOS (R-NY): You know it's funny, I actually went to school on a volleyball scholarship.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who did?
SANTOS: I did, yes. When I was Baruch, he were number one volleyball team. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you graduate from Baruch? Did you graduate from there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So did I. So did I.
SANTOS: Oh, very cool. Great school, great institution, very liberal but very good.
Look, I sacrificed both my knees and got very nice knee replacements from HSS playing volleyball. That's how serious I took the game.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Now, truly, I am not a surgeon. I am a lawyer. But what are the odds that you had double knee replacement playing volleyball for a school you actually never attended? Not wonderful odds in your favor.
Well, let's talk about tonight about all of this with CNN Senior Law Enforcement Analyst and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. He's also the author of The Threat, How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump. Also Legal Analyst and former House Judiciary Special Counsel in Trump's first impeachment trial, former Ambassador Norm Eisman, and White House Correspondent Arlette Saenz. I'm so glad that you're all here tonight.
Don't worry. We're not going to talk right about the knee surgery or the knee replacement right now. We've got other things to discuss, including what is happening in the White House. And I have to begin with you, Arlette, because when you think about all that sort of trickling out, it's dripping and dropping and it is not just a one and done. What is the frustration from Biden? It is that they didn't get ahead of it? Is it that people are paying attention to this? Are you getting a sense of it?
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the White House has really struggled from beginning, from stopping this from mushrooming into the crisis that it's become. And sources have told us that, basically, the president has become really frustrated with the fact of how exactly this is all unfolding.
Heading into this year, the White House and President Biden were really riding high. They felt like they had a lot of momentum going their way and he is getting closer to a decision about that 2024 launch. But now, these classified documents have completely consumed the conversation. So, the president had some frustration with the fact that it has overtaken and that his administration has allowed it to take over so much of the news cycle.
And today, as he returned back to the White House, he really ignored questions about it. Take a listen.
COATES: I mean, there he is, right? They're shouting questions at him, Arlette, and, of course, he's not answering them. He's probably trying to get far away from this moment. But you mentioned the idea of like I'm thinking about the Frank Sinatra, riding high in April, shut down in May, but those are the dates we are talking about. I mean, look at this full screen, everyone. The timeline that's here, this is part of why there is the part of the frustration. I mean, there is the idea of obviously an election somewhere in there.
Talk to me a little bit about this timeline as to why it is they started answering questions about why we're just learning about a lot of this still.
SAENZ: Yes. It was just a week ago today that the first news came out. And it was never revealed by the White House. It was revealed by media reports. And then the White House came out and acknowledged that they had found -- the personal lawyers had found documents at the Penn Biden Center two months ago on November 2nd. But then it wasn't until later in the week that they start to learn more about the fact that these documents were also found at the president's residence at the Wilmington, Delaware, both in the garage, with the president said there were a lot next to his corvette, and then also another adjacent room next to garage.
And then Merrick Garland, when he announced the special counsel, filled in some of the details about when they started to get more information. It was on December 20th that Biden's personal attorneys were searching that Wilmington home. They notified the DOJ the next day to come pick up those documents. And then just last week, the personal attorneys found more documents. And it wasn't until this weekend that we found out that it was actually more than they had initially stated and found.
So, the White House, of course, is facing so many questions about the very slow drip, drip, drip of information and at times their inability to offer the full truth, for instance, when they acknowledged that there were documents at the Penn Biden Center, they didn't reveal, even though they already knew that there had been some documents found at the home. So, a lot of questions, but the personal attorney is defending, saying that they are limited in what they can share in the investigation. But, certainly, these questions are not going to go away.
COATES: So, on that point, I mean, the person who can answer these questions when you think about a sit-down interview, and actually the former attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, was on -- deputy attorney general -- Anderson Cooper on this very point about whether it would be possible for President Biden and some of this team to actually have that sit-down. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROD ROSENSTEIN, FORMER DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: It would depend upon the president's willingness to agree to that sort of an interview. I think in a typical investigation where somebody is found in possession of classified documents, one of the key issues you want to know is whether or not they were aware of those documents, and if so, what was their understanding of whether they had a legal right to possess those documents.
So, I would think that if the president is willing talk, that would certainly be one issue the special counsel will want to look into. It wouldn't be the first thing that they'd do but it would certainly be on their short list.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Is he going to do this, Norm?
NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I suspect that they will find a way, the special counsel will find a way. He has two to inquire of President Biden, what was your awareness. But the president has all ready said he was not aware. And there is no indication, there is no evidence here, unlike the Trump investigation, where Trump, we had evidence he knew what was in the boxes, he said the documents were mine. He refused to turn him over. They had to serve a search warrant. This is not that case.
And, really, the questions here all arise from the timing. But having been a lawyer in the White House, having been handled by classified documents and supervised over 200 people as ambassador who had to work with classified documents all day long, every day, I think when you look at it step-by-step, Laura, the decisions that were made were reasonable.
It is true that it is broken back from a P.R. perspective, there have been problems. But from a legal perspective, there was a five-week gap from November 14 when U.S. Attorney Lausch, a Trump appointee, was appointed by Garland to look at this, to the search on December 28th. Five weeks is not a lot of time.
COATES: You mean, Norm, the actions post-discovery of classified documents is reasonable, not prior to that, obviously?
EISEN: I'm not justifying the removal of the documents from White House premises. We will have to see how that happens. But the criticism hasn't been focused on the substance here, right? Nobody said Biden knew. The criticism has been on the legal decisions.
But when you break them down, decision by decision, how many -- then, so you have those five weeks, they find the documents and they found some more documents. We were talking before the show. You were a prosecutor, I was a defense lawyer. I did for 30 years. In virtually every trial, the prosecution in the middle of the trial said, oh, I found some more documents here. Judge, I'm turning them over to Mr. Eisen. That is common. So, from a legal perspective they did at the book. If they may had made statements, they might have been accused of tipping witnesses or even of witness tampering or obstruction. So --
COATES: That was an interesting point on that part. But, Andrew, I wonder about the people who are doing it by the book, so to speak, right, the people who are conducting the search. Some of them are White House Counsel's Office. The idea of the DOJ -- I mean, not everybody has the security clearance in this world, right? Personal attorneys were closing documents because they didn't have the requisite level of security clearance to say, oh, what I am seeing, I can keep looking at. That was a whole problem with the idea of having a special master with the Trump documents.
I don't want to fixate on the comparison of the two.
I want to isolate the Biden notion right now. The idea of who is conducting the searches, does that give you pause as the investigator from some reason?
MCCABE: Initially, it does not, right? Initially, they discovered these documents is completely by happenstance. Nobody expects that they're going to be there. They're found presumably first in the Penn Biden Center. That gives them cause to think, hey, we need to go out and maybe look at some other places where documents also may have inadvertently ended up.
At that point the best bet would have been to have a personal attorney who also has a clearance conduct those searches. But we're well beyond that point now. The fundamental difference, and I'll reference the other matter as well here just the comparison, the fundamental difference here --
COATES: You can still say Trump. I'm just saying it's okay, go ahead.
MCCABE: Okay. So, the Trump matter has been antagonistic from day one, right? They refused to cooperate with NARA for, what, almost a year. They rebuffed the Justice Department's request for documents. There was the infamous meeting in Mar-a-Lago where they were allowed to look in a room but not actually looking any boxes or given some things but not everything. It goes on and on and on.
The inverse is true of the Biden situation. They've been cooperative from the beginning. I think, because of that cooperation, there is actually an opportunity here to do a complete search within the scope of the special counsel's authority with both the president's lawyers and FBI agents, DOJ representatives present. That is not an uncommon thing to do an investigation of mishandling when the subject of the investigation is actually cooperating with the investigators. And that happens a lot because oftentimes mishandling cases are the result of inadvertent, unintentional movement of documents, taking documents home by mistake in brief case, things like that.
COATES: Well, on that point, though, I mean, obviously, there's been reaction to challenge whether it was done by the book while the investigation is sound, had to raise reason for the conflict of interest, impetus for a special counsel. There's a lot being made about the idea of visitor logs. Now, if it's where the White House, and we've had our own discussions about what happened in the White House, the Trump administration sort of breaking with tradition of keeping the visitor logs, but there are questions about getting visitor logs for Biden's home in particular. Even though that's not really the course of tradition to do so, it's a private residence, but there was a lot talked about, about who would have access to documents of this nature and looking at this. What do you make of the requests from the visitor logs? They don't seem to exist, by the way.
EISEN: No. The visitor logs were part of my responsibility in the Obama White House. The decision to release the visitor logs, that was my recommendation to the president, which he accepted in the name of transparency. There are no home visitor logs. And many of the people who've been asking for them, including political adversaries, let's admit it, the political adversaries are having a field day with this. Why? Because there's a difference between doing things by the legal book and doing things by the P.R. book. And they are exploiting the tension between the two.
But I think, in the long-term, that the better thing to do is to get to legalities right. Why ? Because you don't want to expose yourself or other people. I don't think the president has exposure but you don't want to expose anybody to legal liability. And they've been careful about that even if it has resulted in some P.R. headaches, to say the least. And this call for visitor logs is just to create more of a political furor. The people know there is no such thing as a home visitor log.
COATES: You're (INAUDIBLE). What's up?
MCCABE: One place you would have logs is in a SCIF. And cabinet secretaries, heads of agencies, the vice presidents, while they are in that position, they have SCIFF built in their residents for the purpose of reviewing top secret documents 24 hours a day, when their home is a necessity in this day and age. And you are required to keep a log of who goes in and out of the SCIFs and who's exposed to T.S.
So, if no such logs exist, either from the SCIF that they have been in the residence or from the security personnel who essentially stand up at capacity on a temporary basis when the vice president is there, then that tells you something about how the documents were handled during the time they may have ended up in that place. Were the procedures followed? Were the requisite levels of attention paid to who's being exposed to what documents, at what time?
COATES: All questions that were likely shouted towards the president of the United States. And Arlette, I'm sure, knows it's not really a P.R. headache, maybe a migraine these days. We'll talk more about what this actually means in a little bit, to say bye, everyone.
But his own party, speaking about of the headache or somebody who is causing a bit of tension, well, some are calling him a bad guy, a goofball, a liar, he's only been in Congress for a week-and-a-half.
So, how long can all of this go on and what's the GOP going to do about their, well, George Santos problem?
COATES: Well, the new Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee is calling the man you see right there, Congressman George Santos, quote, a bad guy, unquote, but he's not calling on Santos to resign for lying about his background, well, apparently for that matter, nor is House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who now tells CNN that he too had questions about Santos' resume.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: When were you first made aware about some of these allegations around Santos? Was it before it came out publicly in the media? Were you given any indication that there might be something amiss there?
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): On which part?
REPORTER: Any of it, his resume, all of the things that he's been accused of?
MCCARTHY: I never knew all about his resume or not, but I always had a few questions about it.
REPORTER: What about his campaign, pretending to be your chief of staff?
MCCARTHY: I did not know about that, it happened, and I know he corrected it, but I was not notified about that until the later day.
REPORTER: Did you speak to him about it at all?
MCCARTHY: Yes. I didn't know about it at a later date, though, unfortunately.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Well, while some House Republicans have called on Santos to resign, McCarthy and other top GOP leaders say it is up to his constituents to vote him out. That is two years from now.
A lot to talk about now with Republican Strategist Doug Heye, Norm Eisen is also back with us, and we're also joined by the CNN National Politics Reporter Eva McKend.
Glad you're all here.
Let me bring you in here, Eva, on this because, look, first of all, I do wonder about this. I mean, it's a little bits not clear, ambiguous, to think about, yes, I had some questions. Is McCarthy, essentially, intimated h too had the extent of these questions that are now arising or that he is just kind of, yes, I wasn't totally secure? Which do you think?
EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: It was so understated that he just begs more questions, right? And so, no doubt, that in the days ahead, he will continue to be asked about this, when did you know what when. But, listen, I think he is going to continue to do this song and dance as long as he possibly can. It's working for him for now, to some extent. His primary focus is to keep that slim majority, that House Republican conference together.
I think the issue for him, though, is Santos is not all that reliable predictably, right? What else is there to come? If we are having this conversation six months from now in the way that we are having it today, I think that that is when it starts to become untenable.
COATES: Is that question though for the GOP more broadly or about Santos? Because, really, the Santos question is not just about him, it is often about, as you know, Doug, why there are not more vocal calls for him to leave office or attempts to get him out of there by leadership? Essentially, it's become a GOP problem.
DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Well, I think people don't fully understand how Congress works. When you are elected, you essentially have a binding two-year employment contract. And the only way -- there are two ways you can have that contract terminated. One, you can resign, or, two, the House will expel you. They've done that five times in our nation's history. So, they don't do it very often. And the last time it was done was about 20 years ago after somebody had been convicted of bribery and racketeering, not accused, convicted.
So, Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise, Elise Stefanik could have a press conference tomorrow and all say George Santos must resign and he doesn't have to do anything. And so he's getting paid right now, let's not forget, and he wasn't for a while. So, he may have actually incentive to stay as opposed to leave.
Everything that we've heard Republicans say about him, that he is a bad guy, they don't trust him, they don't talk to him, all of that is true, but there is no mechanism to just make him leave unless the House expels, and they do that exceedingly rarely.
COATES: You talked about this as a strategist, though. I mean, look at the people who have called for him to actually resign. Not a huge number. The screen is not full, right? It's a couple people here and there, it is not full. You're right, he can't necessarily be forced out short of expulsion.
But I do wonder. I mean, thinking long-term, the seat is normally what is the focus of the party. How do I return that seat in the House? How do I do so with a margin as slim as McCarthy has entertained up until now? Is that not a concern about the impact, as Eva talked about, if this talk is happening six months from now?
HEYE: It's a concern. But when we get to House Republican politics, long-term is a very fungible thing. Long-term for House Republicans right now could be two weeks, it could be six months, obviously, it can be two years. But they want to have this problem taken care but they also know that if it gets taken care of, it probably means that a Democrat will be replacing Santos one way or another. COATES: How does campaign finance come in? Obviously, there is the idea of the lying, and I'm not going to be a Pollyanna about this. I mean, lying in Congress. Oh my, it happens. Unfortunately, I'm not disregarding it. But the campaign finance issue seems to stick.
EISEN: Yes, and the lying is relevant to the campaign finance issue. Because when you look at both his campaign finance reports that he has to file with the Federal Elections Commission and his financial disclosures, which are also an official filing that he has the file with Congress, they are bristling with questions.
What was the source of his sudden affluence? How did it flow into the campaign, his expenditures? There's a mandatory -- it's a small thing but it is very telling. There is a mandatory $200 reporting requirement where you have to provide details. He went to a restaurant over and over again, $199 receipt every time.
So, I think the context of his lies, about his education history, his religion, his job history, his supposed volleyball career and knee replacement at the college --
COATES: Double knee replacement.
EISEN: -- the college that he didn't attend. That puts all those questions on these federal filings into a different light.
And, Eva, I think it is going to be an issue six months from now because the ethics committee is going to look at this. We know law enforcement is looking at it. And, Doug, the problem is, it is not just about his seat. If we are still talking about this six months from now, there is a spillover effect on the entire caucus.
That is the headache that Kevin McCarthy has.
COATES: I want to come back to you one second on that point, Eva, as well. I want to hear from you, Doug. But on the idea of ethics, the concessions that were made as part of the new rules package, though, there are concerns that the ethics committee has been hamstringed by the fact that they have staffing issues. Is that a concern?
EISEN: Two separate ethics committees. The one that they hamstrung is the more independent ethics committee. I'm sure it is coincidence that they did that just as Santos was being up for investigation. There is the House Ethics Committee, which is made up of an equal number of Ds and Rs. They look at this. It is very tough to get something through the House Ethics Committee. But when it is egregious, particularly if there are issues a possible criminal lies on official forms, they will act. So, it is a multiple sided headaches for Santos, for McCarthy and for the caucus.
COATES: Eva, you have the town hall for all these headaches. What is going on?
MCKEND: Yes. Listen, I think the persistence, I think, of some of these lies is troublesome. So, he told that Baruch volleyball story over and over and over again.
I think what is being missed in this conversation, though, is he organizing strength within the district. There are some pretty vocal members out there on Long Island who are holding strategy meetings, who are really holding the other Long Island Republicans feet to the fire. They had no choice, really, but to call for Santos to resign because of the heat that they are getting from that community. Some of them telling me they are prepared to come up here in the weeks ahead and speak to whatever House Republican will take a meeting with them, ultimately an effort to drive Santos out of office.
COATES: Who's taken the meeting with them, Doug?
HEYE: I don't think a lot of people except for potentially house ethics. And this is why we'll be talking about it for six months. It takes the House Ethics Committee and the Office of Congressional Ethics, two separate things, a long time to even acknowledge an investigation, much less do it. And then you have the very real legal problems. That is ultimately going to be Santos' bigger problem, not the lies but the actual legalize and where you've put things on paper that are actually committing fraud and violating the law.
COATES: More on this everyone. Stick around, please, on these issues and more.
Also, President Biden marking on Martin Luther King Day with a call to Congress to pass key voting rights bills. But we've been here before, we've seen this movie, when Democrats controlled both Houses of Congress. So, the question now, where does the fight go now for voting rights? We will discuss it, next.
COATES: President Biden marking Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with a renewed push not for voting rights. He's demanding that Congress pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act. Again, urging Congress to do away with the filibuster to get those bills through.
Well, my next guest, the former president of the NAACP, a professor and the author the brand-new book, "Never Forget Our People Were Always Free." Ben Jealous, joins me now. Ben, I'm glad to see you here. Thank you for joining. It's a wonderful book, and obviously in an e-book as well. It's really (inaudible). We'll talk about that. But I also want to hear what you have to say about this renewed push now for voting rights. Obviously, it remains a very important issue, but one that has not yet to be -- been tackled. What do you think of this?
BEN JEALOUS, FORMER NAACP PRESIDENT: Well, you know, I have less hope for it in this Congress than I did in the last. I actually went to jail outside this White House in five occasions trying to get pushing early on, but we need to deal with that. I think what makes me sad is that it's become a very partisan issue, which frankly, when something becomes artisan, it becomes dangerous to actually get done in this time.
COATES: The idea of voting rights, broadly, as partisan, the idea -- it just tells you that power of the day like today, commemorating the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., the idea that still we are still fighting in so many respects for people to recognize voting rights as a non-partisan issue, but it shows you the power of the ballots, nonetheless.
JEALOUS: One hundred percent. And it's that traditional voter suppression was deeply woven into our country. I mean, white men who do not own land had only had the right to votes since 1845 in this country. You know, black men 1865, just put it in perspective. It wasn't that long ago, if you will, certainly well into the American experiment that most people in this country could vote.
And we need to make sure that all of us can vote. I'm glad Biden's taking it up. I wish he took it up when Democrats controlled the House as for (inaudible) as it is now.
COATES: I do wonder what you think about, again, like today when we are commemorating King, but there's also in Mississippi and Alabama. And if you know, they're celebrating King-Lee Day, which commemorates MLK and also Confederate General Robert E. Lee. I wonder what you're thinking because your book is fascinating. It really talks about the idea of race in America more broadly and just demystifying and dismantling some myths about race in this country. What you think about that?
JEALOUS: Well, the equating of King and General Lee is problematic. I had to actually step away from my keyboard when I was writing my book and I figure out that Robert E. Lee is my cousin. I did (inaudible) former head of the NAACP. You know, with that said, the way that we move forward starts with us really recognizing that we're on the same boat now as Dr. King talked about and we need to act like it, you know.
In our communities, in our congregations, it feels like we are able to have tougher conversations that we're able to have in the U.S. Congress and certainly in social media. And the mischief in places like Alabama, you know, with the -- celebrating Lee's birthday, celebrating Jefferson Davis' birthday. This man who succeeded from our union. They are not on par with Dr. King in any way. It's mischief.
COATES: And you found out about that, of course (inaudible) because of the Henry Lewis Gates at ancestry check. Is that right? (Inaudible).
JEALOUS: No, not Robert E. Lee. Gates told me about Thomas Jefferson.
COATES: That's who he was. Okay.
JEALOUS: Yeah, yeah, yeah, but (inaudible) did, I think maybe he was being kind to me and holding back Robert E. Lee. COATES: Well, you know, I don't know. Maybe he was just trying to
give you a moment to (inaudible) your keyboard. But let's talk about when you were at your keyboard and writing this book. Because you talk about three big lies about race. One of them is that it's always been this way.
COATES: The other one is not only white people have paid the price for desegregation. Another one is racism only hurts black people and people of color. And you talk about having to acknowledge all of these as myths to end racism. Why?
JEALOUS: This is what Dr. King was trying to tell us when he was assassinated. He was not assassinated on desegregation battle. He was assassinated leading a poor people's campaign. Trying to get poor people to unite across the color line because what he understood was that race as we know it was a pseudoscientific construct created in the early 1700s as a wedge to be driven between indentured Europeans and enslaved Africans that kept rebelling together.
And that neither group with their descendants would have the power that they need to change their own lives until they could come together. In order to do that, we got to come across the wall of the wedge is built. We seem to think about sort of racism as it impacts us because (inaudible) we have a lot of particular grievances. But there is a reason why it was literally profitable.
And it was because the military could not quite stop indentured Europeans and enslaved Africans from rebelling together. New laws couldn't quite stop it. So, they reach for the cudgel that was culture and it took a word that was 600 years old that meant tribe. And then made it to mean something else entirely.
Those new color caste system, if you will, with the superhuman Anglo- Saxon and the subhuman negro. And you saw slave roles change as a result. And you saw poor whites for the first time decide that the greatest asset was their complexion as opposed to the solidarity with their brothers of a darker hue or who are facing similar troubles.
COATES: It's a fascinating book. You really unveiled so many things. I mean, talk about your own personal history. A lot of the people you feature and talk about from your own learning in the book. It really is a whole gamut in terms of viewpoints and I encourage you. I mean, it's right there.
Of course, it's called "Never Forget Our People Were Always Free." I wonder if members of Congress will read it because there are moments you can learn a lot about how to have progress even when there is, maybe, animosity on two sides of the debate.
JEALOUS: Yes. And that's -- General Powell, when I was young encouraged me. I was young in this town -- encouraged me to really focus on finding one thing I could agree with somebody on and building on that. You know, that's how I knew, for example, as president of NAACP, that I can go to Newt Gingrich who we fought with almost everything, to co-sign on our strategy to shrink the prison population and to go over (inaudible) to do the same thing.
And with that we were able to get four Republican governors to come along with us. It was odd, you know, I ran for governor as a Democrat and here I was, I wrote a book. And when I looked at it, the only governors I was so praising for their courage were Republicans who stood with the NAACP when we needed them to. We need more of that.
You know, when I first came to this town, Tip O'Neill and Ronald Reagan have been drinking together until months before, we've got to be able to come together as a country and solve big problems. Many other things that we got to talk about is that we pay a really price for the media constantly portraying the poor as black and brown.
It used to be that the black poor were invisible. During the Depression, post-civil rights movement, the white poor invisible. Well, there is almost twice as many white poor as black and brown poor, but policies get twisted when people can only imagine the other as benefiting from them.
COATES: Don't give the whole book away. These myths are all included in there everyone. It's (inaudible). Ben Jealous, thank you for stopping by the show. Nice talking to you. Especially today. Congratulations on another great book.
JEALOUS: Thank you.
COATES: Well, everyone, unfortunately, as we were talking about this powerful commemoration. Sadly, multiple people were injured in a shooting at an MLK Day event in Florida. We'll bring you the very latest, next.
COATES: As I told you, we do have news out of Florida tonight where police say that eight people were injured in a shooting at a Martin Luther King, Jr. event in Fort Pierce, Florida. One person has critical injuries. CNN's Camila Bernal has the very latest. Camila, what are you hearing?
CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey Laura. So, authorities saying that this was an argument that resulted in gun violence. It happened at around 5:20 this afternoon and I want to start with the victims here. You mentioned eight people that were shot. One, in critical condition. In addition to those injuries, there were at least four others that were hurt as they were trying to escape all of this as they were trying to hide and find a safe place.
So, in addition to the eight and the four that we know were injured in one way or another. There are also many, many people tonight who are shock and who are terrified because authorities said there were more than a thousand people at this event. And, they say it was chaos as those shots rang outs.
There were families, there were children. So, you can imagine parents and really everyone, just trying to get to safety. This was advertised as a family fun event. It went from noon to 6:00, and there was not just a car show, but also music and DJ, and dancing and a zone just for children with a bounce houses.
So, of course, a lot of people that were out there today celebrating MLK Day. And there are also the sheriff's office. They were doing security there. So, deputies were already on scene.
We're told they ran towards those gunshots, but they weren't able to figure out exactly who shot or who was responsible for all of this. They do believe more than one person was involved in all of this. Here is the sheriff's office and what they are saying now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN HESTER, CHIEF DEPUTY, ST. LUCIE COUNTY, SHERIFF'S OFFICE: We know of one, but just based on the evidence here on scene, I believe there is more than one. We are gathering a little bit more information. One of the things that I would ask if there is anyone that was here or anyone in the community with information, as always, please contact us immediately.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERNAL: So, right now there is no one in custody, no one that they know for sure is responsible for this. But it is a very active scene at the moment. They say they are still gathering any evidence, talking to people, trying to piece together everything that happened today.
The sheriff's office also saying that they are just sad that a Martin Luther King, Jr. event resulted in a mass shooting. And really, it's sad to say another mass shooting in this country, this time at a celebratory event where families and children were gathering, Laura.
COATES: A man who professed and spoke about nonviolence. Unbelievable. Thank you so much.
BERNAL: Thank you.
COATES: Up next, an unprovoked attack on a bus leaving a university student of Asian descent was stabbed wounds to her head. And police say, it was racially motivated.
COATES: Tonight, a suspect is in custody after the brutal and unprovoked stabbing attack on an Indiana university student of Asian descent. Now the court documents show that 56-year-old, Billy Davis, is charged with attempted murder after January 11th attack in Bloomington, Indiana. And police now saying it was racially motivated.
Here with more, CNN international correspondent Miguel Marquez. Miguel, what are we learning about this attack and this ominous smiling in the mug shot?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is disturbing to see that mugshot. It is disturbing to hear about this attack and it is happening way too often to Asians across the country. Police in Bloomington, Indiana says 56-year-old Billy Davis and an Asian female student from Indiana University were riding the same bus. When the Asian victim tried to exit, Davis got up from her nearby seat and allegedly stabbed the victim in the head using a folding knife causing severe -- several puncture wounds. This according to a probable cause affidavit.
In that same affidavit it indicates Davis told police she stabbed the victim because she was Chinese, telling investigators that it would be one less person to blow up our country. Now, we don't know who this student is or where she's from, but she was taken to the local hospital there. We hope that she has a full and speedy recovery.
Davis has been charged with attempted murder, aggravated battery, and battery with a deadly weapon. While authorities in Bloomington have indicated this was racially motivated. It is not clear if Davis will be charged with a hate crime.
Now, understandably, this attack, which was captured on security video has sent a shock through the Asian population in Bloomington as well as through the entire small midwestern college town. Laura?
COATES: Miguel, that's just stunning to hear. And it's also part of a troubling trend of increased attacks in the Asian community in the entire country, right?
MARQUEZ: Yeah. It is bad and it feels like it's getting worse. Attacks against Asians really picked up during the COVID-19 pandemic. A 164 percent rise in such attacks in just the first quarter of 2021 alone says a study from California State University in San Bernardino. Now, some prominent recent examples, the fatal 2021 shooting of eight people, mostly Asian women at Atlanta area spas in which prosecutors there are now pursuing hate crimes charges based on the victim's sex and race.
And last week here in New York, a man pled guilty to manslaughter as a hate crime and will serve 22 years in prison for the brutal beating of a Chinese-American man, Yao Pan Ma, in 2021. Another man, also here in New York, pleaded guilty to first degree manslaughter and got 20 years in prison for hitting a Chinese woman, GuiYing Ma, in the head with a rock, repeatedly. It was a horrific, unprovoked attack. Her widow husband said the attack, quote, "took away the love of my life, the mother of my son, and took away for me my life in this country." Laura?
COATES: That's devastating to hear. Thank you, Miguel. I want to bring in defense attorney and former federal prosecutor Shan Wu. You know, we're sitting here listening to this and it's unbelievable. It's devastating and it's disgusting, but it's happening. And the question out there of whether this might be charged as a hate crime, what's the consideration? SHAN WU, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I mean, this is a no-brainer to charge of
hate crime. A lot of times prosecutors and law enforcement are looking for some obvious militia, a manifesto, words spoken in time. Here you certainly have that. And they need not to be timid about charging hate crimes because it sends a message to charge the hate because this kind of mindset is what drives and empowers other racist violence. And the way to call it out through prosecution, is certainly to charge the hate crimes.
COATES: A really important part of why we have hate crimes as well, the idea about that deterrence. And it's not just the assault or even in a murder charge that captures it. It's the deterrent aspect of a really important point to. But I heard Miguel say, you know, 164 percent increase in the first quarter alone of one year of this violence. I mean, what do you think is behind this? Is it as simple and reductive as politics.
WU: I think politics has a lot to do with it and, unfortunately, politicians are often looking for scapegoats. Obviously during the Trump-era, there's a lot of scapegoats on Asians, blaming them for COVID, this sort of racist trope about kung-fu, that sort of thing. But even today and perhaps in more subtle ways, leaders have to be really careful. There is that leader at Purdue northwest who was making fun of Asian language.
There is still a lot of anthesis and language about China as a "threat." You can have economic rival. You can have a military rival without posturing as a threat, which brings up the old race's trope of the yellow peril. The kind of thing trickles down to people. And I don't want to hear people say oh, it's just all mental illness. That's an excuse, of course. They're generally mental people. But when you condone this type of ridicule of people, you dehumanize them and you make violence more acceptable.
COATES: Important point. Thank you, Shan. Unbelievable. She's just trying to ride a bus. It's unbelievable. Think about that, as many others.
Well, sources are out there now on another, well, political issue, saying that there are more searches for classified documents and locations connected to President Biden, and that they are all on the table. Now, we're learning that Biden himself is now getting frustrated about how this is all playing out.
So, is the White House making some unforced errors? We'll talk about it, next.