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CNN Tonight

CNN Gives An Update On The Killing Of Tyre Nichols; George Santos's Ex-Boyfriend Speaks Out; Biden Warns Of Economic Chaos Proposed By MAGA Republicans; First Responders Testify In Alex Murdaugh Murder Trial. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired January 26, 2023 - 23:00   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Ben Crump who has seen the video and told us what to expect.


BEN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR THE FAMILY OF TYRE NICHOLS: You see the escalation from the very beginning when they encounter Tyre. And they're shouting all kind of profanities at him. I mean, grabbing him, and he says, what did I do? I mean -- is -- you get to see his humanity during the whole brutal attack.

He is asking them -- do you really have to do all of this? And they just keep escalating. It's just so difficult to watch because, at one point, he says, I just want to go home. It's going to remind you of Rodney King in many regards.

CAMEROTA: Meaning, did kick?

CRUMP: Being assaulted, battered, punched, kicked, tased, pepper- sprayed. It is very troubling when you think about Tyre only weighs, his family says, at most 150 pounds. And so, you know, it is hard to watch, Alisyn. And especially, at the end of the video, when he is calling for his mother, he yells out to her three times, and then you never hear Tyre Nichols say another word anymore on that video.


CAMEROTA: Tyre died three days later. And tonight, his mother is calling for a peaceful protest tomorrow.

I want to bring in Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen of Tennessee and Michalyn Easter-Thomas, a member of the Memphis City Council. Thank you both for being here.

Councilwoman Thomas, I want to start with you. What is the mood in Memphis tonight?

MICHALYN EASTER-THOMAS, MEMBER, MEMPHIS CITY COUNCIL: The mood is pretty ominous, Alisyn, and I'll be real and transparent with that. So lot of things that are unknown. As a leader, you know, we are wanting and encouraging and supporting peace and a path towards justice. But we really are just bracing ourselves for the unknown in the city.

CAMEROTA: And councilwoman, what are you doing to brace yourselves? I mean, are you doing outreach to the community? What is the plan?

EASTER-THOMAS: So, personally, I've been doing outreach to different community groups and advocacy groups. And people have been submitting statements as units, as collaborators, but also just institutions in our city have been issuing statements of safety and precaution.

And so, I think that it is always the right way to go about things to protect people just to make sure that folks are able to really sit in the emotions that they have while we are also just prioritizing the people of Memphis.

CAMEROTA: Congressman, it is possible that things will be okay tomorrow even with the trauma of seeing the video because this is so different than the situation with George Floyd or Rodney King or so many others.

I mean, these five police officers were pretty quickly fired, and today arrested and charged with second degree murder. And so, there is some level of justice on the way. So, what are your thoughts?

REP. STEVE COHEN (D-TN): I think that the police chief, Davis, who has only been on the job in Memphis about a year and a half, did the right thing unquestionably by firing the individuals promptly. And then District Attorney Mulroy also did the same thing by having them charged with murder, too, as the top charge today. I know U.S. Attorney Kevin Ritz, also new on the job, is looking into this with the Justice Department and the FBI.

Memphis has had three new leaders in the last year or year and a half with the director, the D.A., and the U.S. attorney, and they're all outstanding individuals and they have done a great job in working on this case with -- they are involved with their top people and they're working at a real speed that has been unknown, I think, in other cases like this and it has been important to do that.

CAMEROTA: Yeah, for sure. Councilwoman, have you seen this video?

EASTER-THOMAS: We have not seen the video yet. We are scheduled to see it tomorrow.

CAMEROTA: You're going to see it before it is publicly released?


CAMEROTA: And councilman, just out of curiosity, do you know what the delivery system is for this video? Is it going to be put on a website fo the district attorney? How are people going to access this?

EASTER-THOMAS: We have not been informed of that information yet and there has also been a question of mine, Alisyn, in what ways and manners will we get it out to the public.

CAMEROTA: Congressman, they've decided to release it at 6:00 p.m. local time, 7:00 p.m. East Coast time. That is a curious time, I mean, for -- for some of us here at least on the East Coast because it is a Friday night and that seems as though it might be ripe for trouble instead of doing it on a work night or a school night.


Do you have any thoughts on that?

COHEN: Well, I wondered about it when it happened and several people contacted me about that. People will be off their jobs and out of the -- mostly out of the downtown area and maybe they were thinking in terms of that. But a lot of mischief happens at night and to have people at weekend and night, some might be groups get-together, maybe people are drinking or whatever, and things could happen.

I think it is more likely to happen at night. That is a time of mischief. I really wish it was more during the daytime, but then they made the decision.

CAMEROTA: I know. Councilwoman, do you have any insight into that? Why -- why is this -- this timing?

EASTER-THOMAS: We didn't get any insight to that at all, but I agree with Congressman Cohen. I would have thought that it would be better during the daytime. But I assume that our leaders are making the best decision on when to release the video.

CAMEROTA: Uh-hmm. Councilwoman, what does this say about the Memphis Police Department? We have heard so many different. John Miller was on before saying that -- you know, they were seen as this sort of leader in innovative practices, and yet they have this "scorpion unit" that, you know, sounds a little bit -- they are the ones who go into the high-crime areas, so obviously they need to have those characteristics. Maybe that could be classified some as cowboys.

What do you think about the relationship between the police department and the community?

EASTER-THOMAS: I think that this is yet another time in which we are obligated to really reevaluate it. In 2020, the world saw so many examples of unrest across cities and communities, and the same in Memphis. We had plenty of protests and we passed so many legislative resolutions that we thought would prevent a murder such as Tyre Nichols.

And so, it's our obligation now to make sure that we are assuring the community that we still are supporting our first responders to protect and serve, but we are also going to hold them accountable and make sure that we have laws and policies in place so that this never happens again in the city of Mephis.

CAMEROTA: Yeah. Councilwoman, congressman, thank you both for your time tonight. I really appreciate talking to you.

COHEN: You're welcome, Alisyn. CAMEROTA: I want to turn -- thank you. I want to turn to CNN political commentator now Bakari Sellers and "Washington Post" staff writer Robert _________ as well as retired LAPD Sergeant Cheryl Dorsey. Thank you all for being here.

Sergeant, I want to start with you because these officers, as you know, sergeant, were Black, and that is counterintuitive for some people when they see a crime like this. What do you think was going on there? Is it -- was this more something about kind of herd mentality, mob mentality? What would allow these five separate police officers to behave the way we've heard described in this tape?

CHERYL DORSEY, RETIRED SERGEANT, LOS ANGELES POLICE: Well, these are young officers who are drunk with power. They seem to be very much caught up in police culture. And, you know, what we have heard that they have done on this videotape is what happens over and over across these 18,000 police departments. At the end of a foot pursuit, when an officer catches you, they punish you. And they punished Mr. Nichols for three minutes.

These are what we call, you know, hot-shot officers, hard chargers. I call them elephant hunters. These are the guys that go out and do that proactive, pretext stop, probably very minimal supervision. Most of them probably on LAPD would just be on probation, shouldn't even be really working alone, let alone together.

And that is why of the five of them, they could not figure out, not one of them, to pull the others off and say that is enough. Somebody should have managed their abusive force. But because they're young on the job and they're having a good time and it was fun until it wasn't, now they are arrested, we have this.

CAMEROTA: Robert, you've been covering cases like this, stories like this. What do you see?

ROBERT KLEMKO, STAFF WRITER, WASHINGTON POST: You know, I see a lot of complicated factors here. You know, we won't know as much as we need to until we see the video.

But you mentioned earlier this patrol, the scorpion group. You know, when these groups are at their best, they are flooding a neighborhood and they're making criminals feel like they are constantly under surveillance. And when they are at their worst, they are infringing on constitutional rights in order to create crime prevention. You know, the classic example is the Gun Trace Task Force in Baltimore.


This unit in Memphis is relatively new. I think it's only about a year and a half old. So, there really haven't been many complaints or controversies surrounding it yet. We won't know until there is much more reporting done if this was a rogue group of officers or an entire unit that had gone bad.

CAMEROTA: Yeah. Bakari, obviously, you have been on with me when we've covered so many cases of police excessive force. What does this one says to you?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, there are a few things. One, I think that this style of policing is trash. You know, growing up in Black communities, we have what is called "jumped out boys" many times where you have these officers who pulled up in communities that are not really just laden with police regalia. You don't really know who they are. Many times, they abusive. Their interaction with the community is not what it should be.

In Atlanta, they were called the "red dogs" and there were legendary rap songs about the "red dogs." This was a legendary police group that came in and just brutalized communities and brutalized individuals.

I'm not sure that much good comes out of this style of policing, particularly, as we said earlier, when there are not procedures and protocols in place to help keep them in check.

You know, to answer your question earlier, and I think we're going to have this discussion over the next three, four, five days about five Black officers, for me, it doesn't matter if the officers are Black, white, purple. It really doesn't matter. This is about systemic racism. Let's be extremely clear. This is about systems in this country which perpetuate violence and oppression against people of color.

And so, whether or not you are Black, white or other within these systems, we have to deconstruct the systems and reimagine what they look like. These officers happened to be Black and they were perpetuating the system of injustice whereby Black folks are not given the benefit of their humanity.

And until we actually tackle the systems because -- let me just say that a lot of people think racism is only when somebody calls you nigger. And that is not what we are talking about. We are talking about systems that perpetuate this type of oppression, this type violence, and this type of lack of dignity towards Black bodies.

CAMEROTA: I appreciate this conversation. Bakari, Robert Klemko, Sgt. Dorsey, thank you all for being here.

KLEMKO: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: And we will be right back.



CAMEROTA: Five fired Memphis police officers now facing second-degree murder and other charges in the death of Tyre Nichols. Why did none of them stop during what Nichols family attorney describes as three long minutes of beating? Lawyers for some of these former officers confirmed they were part of the department's so-called "scorpion unit." That is a lead crime suppression team.

And the Nichols family attorney is blasting those units tonight, writing in a letter -- quote -- "The behavior of these units can morph into 'wolf pack' misconduct that takes away a person's liberty or freedom to move, akin to a kidnapping."

Joining me now, CNN chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst John Miller, as well as CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson and retired NYPD detective and professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Felipe Rodriguez.

Okay, so, the -- I'm interested in that, the mentality of these units, the way they -- they -- it is like crowd think. Is that -- is that what the suggestion is? That it is a mob mentality?

FELIPE RODRIGUEZ, RETIRED NYPD DETECTIVE, PROFESSOR AT JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: It's a mob mentality. What happened is that these officers, as you can see, we put them in the situations that they still don't have the qualification or the experience to end up handling. And what happened is it becomes a system overload. These officers then get into pursuits and they then get into what they called the pursuit mentality or pursuit syndrome.

At the end of the day, they are faced with a violent situation and they do turn into the wolf pack and they forget to think as a team or even implement team tactics, which would've helped.

CAMEROTA: But pursuit syndrome, John, and I am sure that you know this, you've, obviously, been around police for so long, that is when you stop using your own kind of personal moral compass?

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, it is when you are in a high-speed car chase and you catch the person and you are so angry and the adrenaline is up here and this guy made me drive 100 miles an hour. Take that to something closer to this, a foot pursuit. You know, you run half a mile, the guy is running, you catch him, you tackle him, you know, why did you make me chase you? The adrenaline is up here.

This is where the NYPD has engaged in a lot of new training to try and address this with managing adrenaline, anger management with adrenaline, de-escalation.

And on the idea that still recruits from the human race, not the planet perfect, those people who get there after you are supposed to be able to be the one who jump in and say, okay, okay, we got this from here, and that is missing in this incident.

Unfortunately, when this video comes out and it is going to get played and played and played and probably at its worst parts, there is going to be a time when in the minds of many Americans, that's every cop. And it is not.

I mean, there are many of these officers from these particular units that are out getting guns, taking risks, reducing crime. But they need that higher level of training and they need that higher level of supervision. Both of those seem to be missing here.

CAMEROTA: So, in other words, the supervision, there was no supervisor as far as you can tell on -- in this group of five that could quell the adrenaline?

MILLER: Right. So, typically in New York, you're going to have your most experienced officers here. I'm looking at these officers. You know, they came out in 2020, 2018, 2017 is the one with the most experience.


You want that supervisor who may have more time and more experience riding with them. That seems to be missing here, too.

CAMEROTA: Joey, the charges were interesting, obviously, today. Second-degree murder and kidnapping. What -- what does that mean?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So, it means a couple of things. The first thing is let me introduce everyone to a new concept. It is called humanity. And kidnapping speaks to the lack of that. Right? We can speak about a supervisor acting there, a supervisor being there, whether they have on the force in 2018 or 2022, but at what point, forgetting about your police training, do you, as a human being, say that enough is enough? Right?

At what point do you say that I think we are overextending and we are engaging in conduct that is not only unlawful but that's inhumane, inappropriate, and should not occur?

With respect to kidnapping, let's address that. What that means is that at some point, Alisyn, you're detaining someone, you're doing it unlawfully, and you're doing it against their will. And so, let's just say that we talk about the legitimacy of the stop, we are going to learn a lot about whether or not it was appropriate to stop him, Mr. Nichols, in the first instance. Let's say it was --

CAMEROTA: I hope that's on the video.

JACKSON: Yes. Let's say it was, right, it was appropriate to stop him, right, there comes a point where a lawful stop transcends a lawful stop, right, transcends that and becomes unlawful. So, when it becomes unlawful and you're detaining someone against their will, that's kidnapping. You have a right to live your life free and in liberty without the tension.

So, if I'm being detained unlawfully, that, of course, becomes a problem. And to the extent that you do it in an aggravated nature, that becomes aggravated kidnapping. So, there's a lot of unpack ear but it is sad, unfortunate, and it should not have occurred.

CAMEROTA: Of course. Felipe, I am interested in that adrenaline management because, you know, who among us hasn't felt hopped up on anger or hopped up on something, and it is hard to bring it down? But again, they are trained to do that, right? I mean, shouldn't they -- we have to assume that they have been trained to know how to do that.

RODRIGUEZ: A lot of officers do get de-escalation training, but the biggest issues that we're seeing is that we're getting a lot of young officers. All right, a lot of departments are losing officers to attrition and it is due to the fact that, because of other things that have occurred, we have seasoned veterans that are leaving the job. And this is now becoming the root issue.

We do not have that supervision, we do not have that experience, so we're taking these very young guys who cannot make these decisions at times and become overwhelmed. You know, we could never give up that lack of experience. And we're seeing it here by the time that these individuals are out on the job, which is minimal.

MILLER: You look at that in the Memphis context. Memphis is down 500 cops.


MILLER: Memphis is doing things they have never done before. They are offering $15,000 signing bonuses to get people to apply. They are saying that prior arrests or things like that are not automatic disqualifiers, we look at them individually. They say we're not lowering the bar, we are widening the aperture.

But clearly, when you have people in a unit like this who have two or three years on the job, if those are your most experienced officers, you're suffering a deficit of experience.

CAMEROTA: And it's a vicious cycle because it's just what you're talking about. The vast majority of police officers are good and doing, you know, being heroes often out on the street. However, when bad guys like these behave like this, the whole department takes a reputational hit and then it's harder to recruit people.

RODRIGUEZ: It does. It makes it harder every day. I was three years on the job on the Rodney King incident. To see this again, I was shocked, I was dismayed and truly saddened to see that this is the level and this is what happened because I told never again would I see this again in 31 years of police experience.

CAMEROTA: And that is what they're looking at.

RODRIGUEZ: I do not have the words to even express it.

CAMEROTA: Yeah, I don't blame you. Gentlemen, thank you very much. I really appreciate you explaining all of this to us.

Okay, a news tonight on Congressman George Santos, of course. The ex- boyfriend of the embattled Republican congressman is speaking out tonight to CNN. He will tell us if he thinks that George Santos will resign over his serial lying and when he started lying. We will hear what he has to say, next.




CAMEROTA: The ex-boyfriend of George Santos is speaking out to CNN tonight. He says that despite repeated calls for the embattled congressman to resign over his serial lying, Santos will not do that.


PEDRO VILARVA, EX-BOYFRIEND OF GEORGE SANTOS: His ego is too big, it's too high. He's not going to resign. If they don't find out something to get him off, he's not going to do it. That's for sure.


CAMEROTA: Okay, back with us, CNN political commentator S.E. Cupp, political analyst Natasha Alford, and senior political analyst John Avlon.

It's hard to know where to start, honestly.


CAMEROTA: But I just want to read a little bit more about their relationship because it is fascinating. So, that gentleman says he met Santos in 2014 when he himself was 18 years ago, Santos was 26 at the time and married to a woman. They moved in together shortly after Vilarva graduated high school.

The relationship broke down, Vilarva said, as he became increasingly suspicious of Santos, who repeatedly said he was going to take Vilarva to Hawaii and propose, but never did. Vilarva believes that Santos eventually stole his phone and hock it for cash. What a love story, S.E.


S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, you know, where to go?


CUPP: Where to go?


Listen, let's take the, you know, aggrieved ex-boyfriend's account with a grain of salt. Okay?


CUPP: All right. Okay? However --

AVLON: In fairness to Mr. Santos.


CUPP: I just feel like, you know, maybe not the best character witness or maybe he is the best character witness, I'm not sure, but listen, without his account, there are a hundred, a hundred stories, these bonkers, and you have to wonder, is there something wrong with him, I don't know that answer.



CUPP: But pretty sure there's something wrong because it's not just all the lies that you've had for most of your life, it is the indignant attitude he walks around with when he's asked about it.

CAMEROTA: Oh, yes. Just today, we saw him.

CUPP: That's the pathological part.

CAMEROTA: Absolutely. I think Manu Raju walked up to him in the hallway and he said no, you're lying, the media has to stop lying.

CUPP: Yeah.

CAMEROTA: Manu has the patience of Joe.

ALFORD: Yes, yes, yes.

AVLON: Yes, you got it.

CAMEROTA: I do not know how he deals with it. But George Santos is clearly trying and he has learned from the best. He is trying to turn the table. He's lying to media. But he is -- I'm sorry, there are too many examples. He's not going to be able to pull this one off.

ALFORD: Everything the boyfriend is saying is consistent, right? Ego- driven, all about fame, no shame. I think that's really the theme here. There is no shame whatsoever.

AVLON: This is -- this is one of the gifts that Donald Trump gave us, his shamelessness as a superpower within the Republican Party. But lying -- but yeah, but this sort of, you know, you reap what you sow, and this is why the Republican Party, if it's going to rediscover anything resembling its soul, is going to have to confront George Santos if, you know, an indictment has come down.

I mean, there are things you can lie about (INAUDIBLE) things you lied about that are criminal. But it's the sheer tonnage of lies. And let's be very clear, there is something profoundly pathetic about this human being, but the fact that he made it to Congress is itself a cautionary tale that should wake us up.

CUPP: He's on the science committee.

AVLON: Yeah.

CUPP: Science.

AVLON: Science.

ALFORD: Which is about facts.

CUPP: This is where you put this guy? Science.

AVLON: Science.

CAMEROTA: Science.

CUPP: It's so rich.


CAMEROTA: Okay, I want to play a different soundbite from the boyfriend -- ex-boyfriend. The lies, big and small. Do we have that one? Because he outlines then he began catching George Santos in lies. So, let me know if we have the lies. Let's listen to this.


VILARVA: I don't know. I think he's just out of his mind. One lie led to the other. And now, everybody found out, like, they are finding out, like, the little stuff as well. I just think that he should not be in Congress.


VILARVA: And -- oh, my God. There were so many things that I found out afterwards as well, things that I do not know, because I still believed that he actually went to a real college like he used to say. I already knew about the Citigroup that he said that he used to work, you know, like the investments and some stuff. I already knew that those were lies because I never saw him working.


CAMEROTA: There you go. That is a telltale sign.

ALFORD: The energy isn't bitter, right? It seems like he's trying to do a public good by coming forward and saying be careful.

AVLON: Look, he's -- yeah, I mean, he's kind of rummaging through -- through the past relationship and the surreal nature of it. Clearly, he is going to say I love it. This sort of descending roller coaster of the I don't know. I think he's out of his mind.

ALFORD: The laughter at the end, like, I cannot believe he's really in Congress.

AVLON: Yeah, you know, except the jokes on us as a Democrat and Republican unless we fix it.

CUPP: Yes.

CAMEROTA: Absolutely. He has clearly healed, I would say, from this and now can see a 30,000-foot view that he was -- in one of the soundbites, he called him a psycho.

CUPP: Listen, we, you know, we love a good con, right? Don't we love a con artist like Anna Delvey?

AVLON: No! CUPP: I mean, we are fascinated --

AVLON: Not in Congress.

CUPP: We want to watch them fall --

ALFORD: Sometimes we cheer for them.

CUPP: And sometimes we cheer them on.

CAMEROTA: It's not that I think we cheer them on. It is that I think we are fascinated by them because of the shamelessness. There is something about watching it and you cannot believe that somebody is lying directly to your face. It is mesmerizing.


CUPP: Yes, I agree. I could not sleep with myself at night.

AVLON: That's (INAUDIBLE) Mr. Ripley, not like "The Cannonball Run."

CUPP: Yes.

CAMEROTA: It is working. Yes.

AVLON: I mean, it's like, you know, you're not like --

CAMEROTA: But that was a fascinating movie because when somebody does this, and he does it so consistently, but can't keep track of it.

ALFORD: 199, 199. He kept track of that number.

AVLON: Oh, yes. That stuck.

CAMEROTA: So, let's talk about that because those are the campaign contributions?

AVLON: Yes. This is what we should be talking about, the money, yeah.

CAMEROTA: That's the one that could get him in trouble. That's the one. Is it a crime?

AVLON: Look, as "The North Shore Leader," a local paper pointed out before the election, I want to emphasize that, that, you know, when he ran for Congress the first time, I think he had total assets of $5,000. Around 18 months later, his financial disclosure form said that he had 11 million.


AVLON: He just admitted that he did not, in fact, (INAUDIBLE) campaign over half billion dollars. He seemed to be -- the one thing to keep in mind, to your point, you know, the amount of money you can spend without triggering a reporting number. But it is the follow the money that's ultimately going to sink this gap. But there are serious implications if you're dealing with that kind of money in addition to just the sheer tonnage of lies.


CUPP: Kevin McCarthy.

AVLON: The Baruch Volleyball thing being the least of it.

CUPP: Kevin McCarthy has said as much.

AVLON: Yeah.

CUPP: He was elected by the people. The lies are not enough.

CAMEROTA: (inaudible) --

CUPP: Legal. Yes.

AVLON: Defrauded the voters --

CUPP: But the legal thing is what would get Kevin McCarthy to insist on his ouster. But that's the thing. Back in 2015, when the Republican Party decided they'd accept Donald Trump --

AVLON: That's the thing.

CUPP: -- who invented his resume --

AVLON: That's the thing.

CUPP: -- who is a con artist. They knew it. Once they accepted that, they created a new floor and -- I mean, it's not just, you know, this cartoon.

AVLON: But the floor had a basement.

CUPP: It's Herschel Walker who lied constantly on the campaign trail. Conspiracy theorists like Marjorie Taylor Greene come in and push --

AVLON: Homeland Security.

ALFORD: And it's terrifying because of the shock value after a while.

CUPP: Yes.

ALFORD: It becomes more SNL skit than like this is an actual problem for democracy.


CUPP: Honesty and integrity are no longer on the ballot if you're Republican.

CAMEROTA: We definitely have reached saturation with George Santos. I totally agree with that. All right, okay, everyone, stay with me, will you, because up next, President Biden turning up the heat on Republicans over their economic proposals, warning of possible chaos. We're going to take a look at what he said.




COATES: President Biden celebrating some good economic news today and slamming Republicans for a proposal called the Fair Tax Act that would replace the federal income tax with a 30% national sales tax.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They want to impose a 30% national sales tax on everything from food, clothing, school supplies, housing, cars -- a whole deal. Thirty percent. They want to eliminate the income tax system, because guess what? That's the only way that millionaires and billionaires have to pay any taxes. I will not let it happen. Not on my watch. I will veto everything they sent me.


BIDEN: Not after all the progress we've made and how far we've come.


CAMEROTA: With me now, S.E. Cupp, Natasha Alford, and John Avlon. John, you know that President Biden is serious when he starts whispering.


CAMEROTA: That is a tell. When he starts whispering, he's very serious.


CAMEROTA: Yes, he has. So, 30% sales tax. Is that had any takers in Congress?

AVLON: Yeah, it got takers, it got sponsor, Bennie Carter (ph), but it has been put forward. I mean, (INAUDIBLE) could be run on this. Couple of years ago, it always got a small -- I want to emphasize small group of folks on the far-right who like it because it's sort of -- it is the fiscal version of owning the libs, right? We're going to destroy and take away the income tax and the IRS, right?

The problem is, you are effectively giving people a 30% tax on everything they buy. And 90% of Americans, according to some analysis, will have their taxes effectively raised. Ten percent will have a cut. Guess where that 10% is. It's the wealthy folks who pay the income tax.


AVLON: So, it is bad economic policy. It's actually bad politics. But it's an indication of how much I think -- you know, the Republican Party, which used to be synonymous with fiscal responsibility, that train sailed.

CAMEROTA: Let me play for you what Senator Jon Tester had to say about this proposal today.


SEN. JON TESTER (D-MT): The truth is, what happens is that it raises cost for every person across this country and in Montana by 30%. I mean, that's huge. I'll tell you, this is not the right thing to do. I think, quite frankly, it is a silly idea. And like I said, over my dead body. We will fight every day until this thing goes down in defeat.


CUPP: It's not (INAUDIBLE) have to die because it's not going anywhere, right? I mean, the Senate and Biden are going to go for this. But can I just take a minute?

AVLON: Yeah.

CUPP: Command the Republicans, this is fiscal policy.

AVLON: At least it's fiscal policy.

CUPP: I'd much rather this than, you know, M&Ms and the nonsense. You don't have to like the fiscal policy that they're proposing, which isn't just as old as Mike Huckabee, it's as old as George W. Bush. I remember in 2005, this was a discussion inside the Republican Party. And Bush rejected it because it would be too punitive on the middle class and lower-income folks because --

AVLON: Right.

CUPP: -- if you're lower income, you spend most of your income on necessities. If you're upper class, if you're wealthy, you spend a fraction of your income on necessities. So, it's punitive. But it is substantive. I'm here for this.

ALFORD: I'm always fascinated with the messaging. The way that inflation works against Joe Biden. They just beat him over the head with it again and again. People were terrified before midterms. This is just giving Democrats kind of a gift --

CUPP: Yeah.

ALFORD: -- and saying this is exactly what we told you they would do when they were elected. So, I'm just fiscal policy.

CUPP: Yeah.

ALFORD: Yes, we're finally havin, like, substantive policy conversations.

CUPP: Yeah.

ALFORD: There might be some benefits to it. But even the American public couldn't pinpoint why inflation was happening, right, and they just blame that on Biden. So, I worry that the reverse would happen.

AVLON: The irony is this. We can have a much better fiscal policy conversation.

CUPP: Okay.

AVLON: Republicans want a new tax simplification. God knows we could use that. That's actually winning political issue. Or, you know, graduated flat tax. How that conversation.

CUPP: Yeah.

AVLON: This is the worst of all the options they can be --

CUPP: (INAUDIBLE) the request like the --


CUPP: This is bad.

CAMEROTA: He says it's a political gift to Biden and the Democrats. I think this is the first significant problem created for the Republican Party by the 20 people who thought that there was no downside to the approach they took.


Is Kevin McCarthy going to allow that to come to a vote?




AVLON: -- but the point of the tail wagging the dog. You know, no one has got an off ramp for this fiscal (INAUDIBLE) and Republicans don't even have a policy demand, putting the full faith and credit of the United States at risk.

And again, I just want to remind everybody because we are going to be dealing with this unfortunately for too long, it is about as fiscally responsible as running off and not paying your check after a meal. Right? If you want to do the budget, do the budget. If you want to restrain your spending, do it when the president of your party is in power, first of all.

But this nonsense, and that is the real place with this danger, this is a distraction that is basically gifted to Democrats because of the contrast because it is regressive.

CAMEROTA: Got it. Thank you all. I really appreciate that. And just ahead, first responders take the stand in the murder trial of Alex Murdaugh who is accused of murdering his wife and his son. We are going to hear an important testimony when we come back.




COATES: Today is day two in the trial of Alex Murdaugh. He is accused of killing his 52-year-old wife, Maggie, and 23-year-old son, Paul, in June of 2021.

That is far from the only dark intrigue surrounding him. Prosecutors allege this once prominent attorney murdered his wife and son to distract attention from alleged illicit schemes he was running.

Today, in the courtroom, Murdaugh was seen weeping while watching the bodycam footage of officers arriving at the scene of the murder.


CAMEROTA: He also became tense, listening to the 9-1-1 call that he made that night.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): And I have an Alex Murdaugh on the line calling us from 4147 (INAUDIBLE) wife and child were shot. Mr. Murdaugh, go ahead (INAUDIBLE).


UNKNOWN (voice-over): Did they shoot themselves?

MURDAUGH: Oh, no. Hell, no.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): Okay, are they breathing?

MURDAUGH: No, ma'am.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Okay. You said it's your wife and your son?

MURDAUGH: My wife and my son.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Are you in a vehicle?


CAMEROTA: But one of the first responders to the scene testified that Murdaugh's reaction in court was very different from the night of the crime.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): Have you ever seen any tears in your interactions with Mr. Murdaugh?

UNKNOWN: He did not appear to be crying. He was upset, but I did not see any visible tears.


CAMEROTA: He also testified that when he arrived at the scene, Murdaugh mentioned his son Paul's boating accident. At the time of his death, Paul Murdaugh was facing charges for a 2019 deadly boating accident that killed a 19-year-old named Mallory Beach (ph).


UNKNOWN: His immediate reaction was to start telling me about an incident that had happened with his son with a boating accident.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): A boating accident?

UNKNOWN: Yes, sir.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Have you asked him anything about that?

UNKNOWN: I did not.


CAMEROTA: The trial will convene tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. So, let's bring in CNN's legal analyst Joey Jackson. Joey, he sounded hysterical in the 9-1-1 call. Obviously, he sounded upset there. It is possible that he mentioned the boating accident as the first thing to first responders in trying to plant a motive for who else might have killed these -- his family members.

One of the things that I heard the defense attorney -- so Alex Murdaugh's attorney do that, that was very effective and I want to know your professional opinion, was he said, you have to believe, if you believe that this man killed his wife and his son, you have to believe that this family man, who is acting normally, he is texting his family, he is acting normal all day, he is acting normally every time people see him, blew their brains out with these guns?


CAMEROTA: And isn't that effective? I mean, he did not give away other telltale signs up until that point.

JACKSON: You know, you know, so trials are always your operating gray areas and it is a battle of the narratives, right? So, when you are battling in these narratives, you want to put the spin on it which you think is fair and appropriate.

The prosecution and the tapes we saw of trying to create the view that, you know, he was not upset, right, or he was not crying, well, how is someone supposed to react? Is there a standard way in which someone reacts when a family member -- you know, their wife or son would die? Have you, sir, have a wife or son that would die, would you know what the standard way to react?

You indicated he was upset, right? Because he wasn't crying, that is an indication to you that he is (INAUDIBLE) that this occurred? So, the defense will play it out like it is ridiculous because none of us have a pattern. There's no playbook on how you react.

In addition, going back to the point you make, right, with respect to, is he laying the foundation for a motive or is he putting that out there to say, you are in law enforcement or at least you are part of the government, find out who did this, because I'm outraged, and I want to get it solved? There is a lot of issues with this particular case.

CAMEROTA: There are so many turns.

JACKSON: You know that. It is extremely. But even on the issues of this and whether or not they get a conviction, you know, we are in a very DNA-oriented society. Do you have the DNA that connects him to the scene? Do you have surveillance that connects him to the scene?

CAMEROTA: And do they?

JACKSON: No. They looked at, right, and we will see, I should say, right, the trial is just underway, but the early indications are, number one, that apparently police were in custody of a shirt that is no longer in existence.


And he (INAUDIBLE) Mr. Murdaugh at what is called an (INAUDIBLE). What does it mean in English? It means in the event that that shirt was incriminating, prosecutor, you would have had it, you would have introduced it to that jury, and you would have said, you know what, I'm using it against you.

Why is it gone? What other things you have to connect him there? Do you have eyewitnesses? Do you have anything that brings him to the connection to establish that he did it? And the absence of that, that is what we called reasonable doubt, and that's a problem.

CAMEROTA: Interesting. Joey Jackson, thank you very much. We will be watching this case tomorrow.

And thanks so much for watching tonight. Our coverage continues now.