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Manhattan DA Signals Criminal Charges For Trump Are Likely; DeSantis: Florida Banning Books Is A 'Nasty' Hoax; Former Head Of Disinformation Board Is Target Of Attacks By Right-Wing Media And GOP Lawmakers; Michigan House Passes Expanded Background Checks On Gun Sales. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired March 09, 2023 - 23:00   ET




ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: The Manhattan district attorney signaling that former President Donald Trump is likely to face criminal charges for his role in the hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels. This is according to "The New York Times." They also report that prosecutors have offered Donald Trump a chance to testify next week before the grand jury.

Let us bring in our panel. We have Patrick Healy of "The New York Times," Elie Honig, the hardest working man on TV, Astead Herndon also of "The New York Times," we need two of you, and our favorite Kentuckian Scott Jennings. They are all here to discuss.

Elie, I've read this is a complex and risky legal case. Is that true?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, it is. Look, if there is an indictment of Donald Trump, it will be historic, it will be momentous, but we also need to be quite clear about the problem, the infirmities in this case. Let me list a few of them. First of all, we are talking about conduct that is six and a half years old.

CAMEROTA: Is there statute of limitation?

HONIG: There is going to be a statute of limitation issue. Typically, it is five years. The response is going to be the sum of the payments at the leaked into that period. But they're going to have statute of limitation fight. Let us start with that.

Second of all, we are talking about a case that the feds across the street, my former office, the famously aggressive Southern District of New York reviewed viewed two years ago and said, no thanks, we pass.

Number three, we are talking about charges that are either going to be misdemeanor charges, no one is going to prison, or possibly the lowest level of felony which, even if there is a conviction, unlikely to result or quite possible does not result in imprisonment.

And you're talking about a case where the star witness here is going to be Michael Cohen, who I know personally, you know personally. Look, I tend -- I happen to believe Michael Cohen, what he says right now, but you're talking about a guy who is a convicted perjurer, you're talking about a guy whose entire public identity is based on how much he despises Donald Trump.

He will be shown to be quite partial in cross examination. He is the guy who the Southern District of New York rejected as a cooperator because they found he was not fully forthcoming. This will not be an easy case.

CAMEROTA: Okay. But if Stormy Daniels -- will she testify?

HONIG: Probably, but she wouldn't have really relevant knowledge of what Donald Trump knew and authorized unless she, for some reason, spoke with Donald Trump about this payment, which I don't think is the case.

CAMEROTA: Okay. (INAUDIBLE). Patrick, how do you see it?

PATRICK HEALY, DEPUTY OPINION EDITOR, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I think Cohen is the star witness here. I think, to Elie's point, it is a real-- that brings a lot of package, a real problem.


Being able to persuade a jury to believe that all of this adds up among other things as sort of an intent to defraud or an intent to commit a crime. That is -- that is kind of my real question about this. Whether they will be able to persuasive that Donald Trump was trying to -- that he is falsifying these records in order to commit a crime or (INAUDIBLE) like covering up just a giant massive embarrassment during a political campaign.

I realize that needle can be thread certainly, but whether it is persuasive enough that -- that this is actually a crime that -- that the jury is going to come down on, that just seems very hard.

CAMEROTA: Scott, how do you see it?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDNET TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I mean, Donald Trump is being investigated for serious election crimes in Georgia, he is being investigated for whipping up a mob to overthrow the U.S. government and deprive the American people of the results of a free and fair election, and your leadoff hitter is going to be a seven-year old paperwork misdemeanor because he had sex with a porn star, give me a freaking break. I read this story three times.

I don't have a fancy law degree like Elie. I'm just an unfrozen caveman here in the middle of the country. I have no idea what the crime is. I got to the 22nd paragraph, I am like, what law did this guy break? And then I see that it is a misdemeanor, and we got to come up with some bank shot off the scoreboard, legal theory, to try to get it to e felony.

These people would be far better off. If they really want to get Donald Trump, they be far better off, let the feds and the people in Georgia do their work because nobody cares about this garbage. The real issues are in D.C. and in Georgia. This thing ought to die, the death that the feds try to give it two years ago.

CAMEROTA: Elie, before I bring in Astead, why is the Manhattan D.A. doing this if you agree with Scott?

HONIG: It's a great question. I think what you'll hear is the standard talking point, no man is above the law, etcetera, etcetera. You know, Scott makes a really good point. Astead and I were talking about it before. If you listed out all of Donald Trump's conduct, from most to least serious, this is what, six or seven?

I mean, start with January 6 and the attempt to steal the election. You've got the Mar-a-Lago documents. You've got obstruction of Mueller. You've arguably got the attempt to extort Zelenskyy through Ukraine, which was the first impeachment. I mean, you have to go down way down that list to get to this.

So, it is a good question. Frankly, Alvin Bragg, the D.A. who actually says he is a friend of mine and former colleague --

CAMEROTA: What does he say?

HONIG: I haven't asked him. But --

CAMEROTA: Please do.

HONIG: -- he will be asked that question. Why this and why now?

JENNINGS: Elie, Elie, Elie --

HONIG: Yeah.

JENNINGS: Elie, let me just say, he is your friend, he's not mine, so I'll just say it. He is doing it because of politics. This is a partisan political prosecution. He thinks it is going to be good for him. He is still smarting over the backlash that he got for not, I guess, putting off the thing a couple of years ago.

This is politics. And if you want to get Trump injecting politics into it, into the prosecutions before the feds and the people in Georgia get to do the real work, this is how you destabilized the entire thing. This is a terrible idea. I've yet to talk to anybody tonight who thinks it's smart.


JENNINGS: Democrat or Republican.

CAMEROTA: Astead, you cover politics every day.

ASTEAD HERNDON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, I think that this is going to be the kind of political takeaway. If you are Donald Trump, I was just at CPAC, that is a universe that is yearning for him to be treated as an underdog, who wants these cases to be kind of tossed aside as frivolous and tossed aside as not substantive. To Scott's point, to lead off with a case that is not top of mind, where voters are, which are not the facts that they are familiar with, certainly leads the -- I can hear the Trump wing now creaming up to say that this proves the DOJ indictment -- the DOJ conspiracy, this proves the FBI conspiracy.

We should be clear that that was bad faith arguments that we are going to have and probably no matter what. But the truth is that when you bring up something that I think is not, to Elie's point, the hot things that people think about when it comes to Donald Trump, that allows those arguments maybe to get some more legs because the answers to why this is happening now do seem to come back to politics.

CAMEROTA: How about this argument, Elie, if you don't like other arguments --


-- how about the argument that this happened during a presidential campaign and Donald Trump certainly believed, as did I assume Michael Cohen, that this would hurt him in the presidential campaign, and for that reason, it sorts of misled voters and it was a campaign contribution? That was one of the arguments.

HONIG: That is exactly what the argument the prosecutors will make will be. But let us keep in mind, you have to think about these cases. They're not just paper cases. You have to stand in front of a jury of 12 people. You have to get them unanimously beyond a reasonable doubt. This is conduct that is old. The offenses here are quite minor. There are questions about intent and knowledge.

We can all sit here and say, of course, Donald Trump must have known. He had to have known Michael Cohen will surely say that. But is that enough to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt? A guy who is very savvy about walling himself off, about having things tapered over, about having like Michael Cohen do things. It's not going to be an easy case.


CAMEROTA: Okay. Gentlemen, thank you all very much, and we'll be right back.


CAMEROTA: Governor Ron DeSantis being accused by some Floridians of banning books in schools. He says that is not what Florida's new law does.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): This idea of a book ban in Florida, that somehow, they do not want books in the library, that is a hoax. And that is really a nasty hoax because it is a hoax in service of trying to pollute and sexualize our children.


CAMEROTA: LZ is back. Harry Enten is joining the conversation. Astead is here. Joe is back and Scott is back as well.


CAMEROTA: It is just an embarrassment of riches here. All right, so, let me explain to you what is going on in Florida. So, there is this relatively new state law. It just went into effect. It requires all material in school libraries and media centers to be approved by a trained librarian or a media specialist.


So, because that law is vague -- we have seen it happened in Florida a few times now. The law is so vague it sorts of paralyzes people because they do not know exactly what is right or wrong. And so, some teachers have decided to remove all books from their classrooms until they can find out if they are approved.

So, he is right. It is not an official book ban, but it is having the effect of a book ban because teachers don't know what's right or what's wrong.

Here's an example of some of the books that have been removed in one county, Martin County. "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison, "Beloved" by Toni Morrison, "My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Picoult, "The Hate U Give" by Angie Thomas. My kids read it in high school. "The Kite Runner." I believe my kids read that. "Maximum Ride: Schools Out Forever" and "The Perks of Being a Wallflower." I don't know those last ones.

Okay, Scott, your thoughts on this?

JENNINGS: Well, Ron DeSantis hasn't banned any books in Florida. It's a complete lie. I'm not sure an honest story has ever written about this guy. The people taking books out of classrooms are the teachers.

CAMEROTA: We just said that, Scott. We just said that. We said he didn't ban it, but they're taking it off because they're teachers. That still has no effect if he is not having the access to these books.

JENNINGS: I know, I know, but -- but -- but if you look at the conversation around this, it is the Ron DeSantis book ban. And you just pointed out correctly, it is the teachers there who are taking out the books, so they can then say it is Ron DeSantis book ban.

I hope people got a chance to watch Governor DeSantis's press conference this week where he showed some of the absolute pornographic material that had been found in schools. It was so pornographic, in fact, that the TV stations in Florida had to cut away from the press conference because they could not show it on their airwaves.

So, if you cannot show it on T.V. at an official press conference, would you put it in the hands of a third-grader? I think not. He is doing the right thing. There is a lot of dishonesty around what he is doing. But I think the way you explained it is correct. There is no book ban, but what he did this week to expose the pornography that they have uncovered was right on.

CAMEROTA: I think we have an example of one of these ones that you are saying and he is saying is pornographic. This is the book "Flamer." Are we -- did we censor these guys? Okay, we censored it because I know I don't want to shock you, guys.



I'm a very young, innocent boy.

JENNINGS: Of course, you did. Of course, you did. You had to censor it. That is how bad it is. And this is cable.

CAMEROTA: Let's play it.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): "Flamer" by Mike Curato was found in Broward, Collier, Hillsborough, Marion, Seminole, and Volusia County schools. (INAUDIBLE) in the book has an island that the book says looks like a frying pan. But we are all certain it looks like (bleep).


CAMEROTA: I wish I knew. I don't know what grade that is for. If that is high schooler -- I don't know. Words do not scare me like that, if that is for high schoolers, but I just wish that I had more context on what librarians are pulling at. LZ, your thoughts?



GRANDERSON: I have a lot of thoughts. First, did you know that the bill in Tennessee that we were just talking about does not say the word drag?

CAMEROTA: Yes. Now, I do.


CAMEROTA: That was DeSantis's video, by the way. What we played. That was his video, and I do not know if he censored it. But yes. But I feel that --


CAMEROTA: They implied what they mean.

GRANDERSON: They implied what they mean. The Constitution, you know what's not in it? The word slavery. Interesting, right? But all of the laws are there to support it. They just do not use the word. So, I hear what Scott is saying. He hasn't banned the book officially.

But you do not necessarily need to name a thing to ban a thing. I think what is happening here, it is DeSantis's picking and choosing, how he has his (INAUDIBLE) to borrow a phrase from Chris Rock, and he is using that to be president or at least run for president. I wish he will just run and leave my community alone.

ENTEN: Look, Ron DeSantis has, in my opinion, been running basically for president now for two years. I've been of the belief that he was running a very strong campaign, a shadow campaign, you might say.

But he has usually been on the offense, and now he is on the defense. He has been on the defense, he was in the defense on that press conference, and he has been on the defense this entire week. His poll numbers, which were rising, all of the sudden have flipped down a little bit.

CAMEROTA: Is that right? Why do you think it is this topic?

ENTEN: I'm not saying it is necessarily this topic, but what I am saying is that all of the sudden, the heat is on him. Now, all of the pressure is on him, right? He is up there in the polls with Donald Trump, and now he is getting that national media attention, now he's no longer being treated with kid gloves. We will see if he's able to take the heat in the kitchen, but so far, he has been on the defense, not in the offense for a change.


HERNDON: When I look at what Ron DeSantis is doing here, I look at kind of baiting liberals. I mean, what he does and often these kind of set plays that come out of Florida is that he puts a pretty vague law into place, and then there is a social media reaction.

I think one of the key things that we see from Governor DeSantis is there is a period where he is not seeking to explain what the intent of that law is, knowing media requests about the specifics, but then we'll take the overreach of how people respond to then go further prove the point.


This is someone who is running a very specific campaign, targeted at the GOP primary base, and has sought to bait the overreach on specifically these types of topics.

So, I see a lot of politics at play here for someone who is trying to create that name recognition and has succeeded in terms of really creating an identity for himself that appeals to Republican voters without being offensive to Donald Trump. He's doing this as a Florida governor view rather than I am running for president view. Functionally, it is the same thing.

CAMEROTA: That is a clever strategy.

HERNDON: Yeah, it is. It's a very specific thing that he has done throughout these kinds of set plays he is doing the governor's office.


JOE PINION, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, FORMER SENATE CANDIDATE: Look, I think, again, it is this notion where we change the definition of the words. There is no specificity of language. What does woke mean to one person means one thing to one person.

CAMEROTA: What part is vague here?

PINION: Well, look, I think the part that's vague here is the fact that you have people on the left who want to call this a book ban. The hard truth is that every time -- we just had the town hall with Glenn Youngkin. Part of the reason why Glenn Youngkin got -- became the governor of the state of Virginia is because of the fact that parents were concerned about materials being taught in the classroom.

They called it CRT. We all know that CRT is a colloquial catchall (ph) for all the things that people don't want to talk about, whether it is LGBTQ issues, whether it is the materials in the books. And so, what happens with some of those parents? We come to found they ended up on terrorist (ph) watchlists instead of us again having that intricate, real conversation with the parents about those issues.

So yes, every time there is a PTA or PTA meeting where parents go to read passages from a book being taught to their children and it cannot even be read out loud, when we are talking about issues and we cannot even show the book on television, all of that reinforces the fact that there are parents who are concerned.

And that consistent problem on the left is that people dismiss those concerns out of hand and say that they know better, which quite literally is why every Republican in the country --

GRANDERSON: I would just like to add that I think on the other side of that conversation -- by the way, I'm an independent. I know that you think I'm a liberal. I am right down the middle. I want to say that the parents who are concerned about what's being taught, they are parents who are concerned about what is not being taught. Those parents in Florida don't have a voice right now.

There are parents who are concerned that you are learning about your history the way that you should. There are parents who are concerned that you're not reading the book that they think you should read. Why are we listening to those parents, too? Because they exist in Florida and the rest of the country just like the parents --

CAMEROTA: And also, I just want to say, and I have to go, but I just want to say I don't know if these teachers or librarians are Republicans or Democrats. I have no idea. I just know that they were -- they feel so anxious about this that they removed all the books from the classroom.

PINION: I think that's the problem, the vagueness of these laws. Overall, to your point, yes, we need to tell the whole story of America. The beautiful and also the bitter. But the hard truth is that when you've got these classrooms, A.P. African American studies, it's not about getting rid of the class. It's about having a real conversation. It is queer theory, an important component --

GRANDERSON: Yes, it is.

PINION: A queer theory is different from actually having the conversation --


PINION: -- about the contributions made by queer people to the --

CAMEROTA: Got it. Thank you both. Thank you all very much.

GRANDERSON: Are you telling us to shut up?



CAMEROTA: Honestly, these are so compelling that we can go on and on. They are telling me to shut up, in my ear. Okay, please stay with me, everyone.

Up next, the former head of a federal board created to combat foreign disinformation talks about what happened after that board was disbanded and the target that she became of this right-wing media and then what happened to her life.




CAMEROTA: She was hired by the White House to monitor and combat disinformation. But Nina Jankowicz quickly became the subject of disinformation herself. Nina Jankowicz says she has been stalked and harassed ever since her short stint as the head of the Department of Homeland Security's disinformation governance board, a role that she left within weeks. The board has since been disbanded.

But she is back in the spotlight today because Republican Congressman Jim Jordan is subpoenaing her to testify in front of Congress. Nina Jankowicz joins me now.

Nina, thanks so much for taking the time to be here. So, this board was set up by the Biden administration. It was this disinformation governance board. It was quickly disbanded. It was basically painted by the right as some sort of Orwellian-controlled board and it was quickly disbanded.

That could've been the end of the story, but it wasn't. You were subjected to all sorts of online harassment as well as in-person stalking. What happened to your life after you left that role? NINA JANKOWICZ, FORMER DIRECTOR, DHS DISINFORMATION GOVERNANCE BOARD:

Well, Alisyn, you know, my life has been kind of upended over the past 10 months, and that in large part is due to the lies that the Republican Party have told about the board and the lies that Fox News has told about it.

This idea that it wasn't Orwellian censorship board has absolutely no basis in reality. Frankly, I would not have taken the job if that were the case. These lies continue to be repeated by the people who are threatening my family today, and they're the basis of the subpoena that Jim Jordan has sent to me. Unlike Jim Jordan, I have respect for the institution of Congress, so I will be honoring that subpoena.

But the fact that the weaponization of the government committee is targeting people like me, private citizens who simply wanted to serve their government in their area of expertise, is really problematic. Congress is meant to be a serious institution, not a circus, and what we have got right now is frankly a clown show.

CAMEROTA: And some zealot also started stalking you. Were you pregnant at that time?

JANKOWICZ: So, I was pregnant right before I resigned my position.


I had my son a couple of weeks after I resigned. This man has continued to stop and harass my family for the past 10 months. Thankfully, I recently received a protective order against him.

CAMEROTA: Thank goodness. So, that sounds awful. As you, I'm sure, have been following, Dominion Voting Systems is suing Fox. A lot has come out about the inner machinations of Fox. Are you considering suing Fox?

JANKOWICZ: Yes, Alisyn. I just launched a GoFundMe to kind of get that suit off the ground. I think it is really important that we hold people accountable for the lies that they tell because lies do not work in a democracy. We need to understand the truth about how our government is operating, how institutions in our country are operating.

When institutions like Fox are just lying to their viewers for profit, which is what they did about me hundreds of times, not only does it affect our democracy, it ruins lives.

So, I want to stand up for people, public servants who are thinking about going into government and say that this is not acceptable. I want to make sure that other women never have to go through what I have gone through. And frankly, I want to make the democracy that we live in a better place for it.

I think, you know, there is a high bar for these suits, obviously. I was clearly a public figure before I went into government. But again, having looked at the hundreds of times that Fox has lied about me in a coordinated fashion, long after my resignation from government, I think that my case does meet that high bar.

CAMEROTA: It would be a defamation lawsuit?

JANKOWICZ: Defamation and false flag, although, you know, I'm not a lawyer, so I'm not going to speak to the specifics. I will let my legal team do that in the future.

CAMEROTA: Okay. And so, about this Jim Jordan subpoena, what do you think he wants to know from you now?

JANKOWICZ: Well, you know, the basis of Jim Jordan's subpoena, as I said before, has been lies that have been disproven by documents that Congress has had in their possession since the summer. So, I am not sure what he wants to ask me, frankly, that is not already in those documents.

He has said that he wants to know how the board came to be. Frankly, that was before I was brought into the administration, so I cannot really speak to that. I can talk to the 10 weeks I was in government and the fact that I was there simply to coordinate pre-existing work that was going on within the Department of Homeland Security to keep Americans safe. Right?

The portfolio at DHS has to do with things like disasters and border security and cybersecurity, and those are all issues which disinformation touches. That is all we were meant to do. I was meant to coordinate, to kind of lovingly herd governmental cats, not to censor people.

As I said before, I would not have taken the job if that is what it where. I spent my career standing up for free expression in places like Russia and Belarus. I was not going to take that away from American citizens.

CAMEROTA: Nina Jankowicz, thank you very much for telling us this personal story. Obviously, we'll be watching what happens when you appear before Congress. We really appreciate your time tonight.

JANKOWICZ: Thank you for having me.

CAMEROTA: Back with my panel, LZ Granderson, Harry Enten, Astead Herndon, and Joe Pinion. Joe, she makes a case that she was never going to target conservatives. She was about, you know, basically foreign disinformation and trying to keep the homeland security safe.

PINION: She was not under oath, right? I think this is the whole point. I think that --

CAMEROTA: So, you not believe what she was just saying?

PINION: I'm saying that -- first and foremost, let me just say that what occurred to her after she left that office, during the course of her being in office, was despicable. So, I think that has to be acknowledged.

That does not change the fact that people have a sensitivity to the notion that America would erect something akin a ministry of truth. Now, she's going to say that that's what occurred. The reality is that we have no idea what occurred because she has not testified under oath before Congress.

So, I just think that ono some basic level, people want to know what happened, particularly in light of all this stuff that came out with the Twitter files, with the notion that we now know for a fact that there was a backdoor created with social media companies to allow people like the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI to willfully do whatever they want to do on particular issues.

CAMEROTA: She wasn't on social media company. I guess my point is that, why do conservatives' minds go to something Orwellian rather than thinking, oh, we do have a problem with disinformation online from foreign adversaries?

PINION: We certainly do, right? But the -- what was the purpose of the creation of the office? Not just what she wrote down on paper. What was the nature of those conversations that she was having? I do not think we can just pretend that the two are not connected. Right?

No, you did not work for Twitter, but there are requests coming to your office that were then being relayed to Twitter, being relayed to Facebook.

So, if we understand that it was a nonpartisan, bipartisan reality, that people's free speech was in many ways impacted by government agency, then asking private companies to do things at their behest, then the emergence of this agency in the midst of this begs certain real questions.

And I do not think it's unreasonable to ask them. And I think it has nothing to do with the fact that the despicable acts that people have made beyond that scope are just something that should not be part of our public discourse.


HERNDON: I hear that. I would say we do know that there is a pattern between how Fox zeros in specifically on these individuals and the nature of harassment that comes after that. We have seen this playbook too many times to act like it is a surprise when this stuff happens.

This is the logical result of the continuous targeting of individuals that this type of harassment happens. We have not seen the willingness to care about that at all. I think that is a baseline that we should acknowledge from there.

At the same time, I think it is very much within the kind of conservative rhetorical lexicon that something like this disinformation board would be immediately seen as Orwellian. What I don't understand is why the Biden administration did not see that coming.

At the same time, I do not think it excuses those types of actions that come forward and it also does not get to what I think is a real truth of what you just said, which is that there is a problem with disinformation, there's a problem with foreign adversaries targeting that, and there is currently not a solution.

ENTEN: you know, I just find that we go about these things and we almost go about them in the wrong way. Right? I think that there is interest in knowing what the Biden ministration did on this. Right? But at the same, Jordan's committee or subcommittee or whatever it is, is tainted from the start. People think it's political. We know this from the polling data. Republicans love it. Republicans love this idea of investigating all the stuff.

But I think what we are talking about, the general electorate, the public at large, what the heck is going on here? And we are wasting our time with this. So, I think this is going to be a real problem for Jordan as he tries to investigate her and the whole Biden administration. Is he actually going to make a dent or is this just something that is going to be essentially in a conservative echo chamber?

HERNDON: This is the real power of that speakership fight because in the different world, McCarthy would have more wiggle room maybe to push back against the scope of those investigations. But the America first Trump wing made very clear at the beginning of that House fight who is going to set the agenda.

CAMEROTA: I have to go, quickly, LZ, thoughts?

GRANDERSON: My only thing about this entire conversation is that there is disinformation and some of the people who are on this committee are part of that disinformation. So, you are right. It is already politicized but it is politicized because the people who are putting this together are already taking themselves.

ENTEN: Yes. Jim Jordan, certainly.


PINION: There is a level of brokenness in our politics writ large, particularly in the food fight that we have in the House, that makes these conversations more difficult.

CAMEROTA: Okay. I've got to go because we have to get to this. The state of Michigan took very important action today to try to stem gun violence just weeks after the deadly shooting at Michigan State University. Two college students who were involved in making this happen are going to join me, next.




CAMEROTA: The Michigan State House is taking am action to expand background checks on guns today. Now, the bill goes to the state senate. The goal of the sponsors is to pass gun safety legislation like safe storage requirements and red flag laws. This became an even bigger priority after the mass shooting at Michigan State University.


MIKAH RECTOR-BROOKS, STUDENT, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN: We are in the midst of a public health crisis where firearms are the leading cause of death for children and teens in the United States. The leading cause of death. This simply is not a political matter, but a matter of life or death.

ASHA DENNY, STUDENT, MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY: Do kids deserve to see their peers slaughtered in front of them? I do not think so. I think we deserve life and all it has to offer. I deserve life and all it has to offer. I know it offers much more than this.


CAMEROTA: And "March for Our Lives" press associate Mikah Rector- Brooks and MSU student and shooting survivor Asha Denny join me now. Folks, thank you so much for being here. Really appreciate it. Mikah, tell us how you feel about what happened in the state house today.

RECTOR-BROOKS: Yeah, I mean, I am excited. We've been waiting for this moment for so long, many years. So, I am really proud of this step forward. I am looking forward to hopefully passing this really quickly and having these protections in place to prevent children from being murdered by firearms.

CAMEROTA: Asha, you lived this, you lived this just a few weeks ago. You call yourself part of the lockdown generation because you've been part of so many school lockdowns. And you say that you are a generation that has been traumatized. Of course, it happened again during the MSU lockdown on February 13th.

You hid in your dorm, huddled behind the T.V. while your parents were on the other end of the cellphone, you know, trying to save your life and terrified of what was happening to you. So, what does this -- what happened today mean to you after living through that?

DENNY: I think that this is a really great first step. But as Mikah has said, this is -- this is just the beginning of a lot of different steps. It's a three-part package. I believe that with time, all three parts will be passed. This is just a really great first step. It shows that people are listening to students.

CAMEROTA: And so, Asha, are you still feeling traumatized? I mean, it has been so recent. And the fact that you said that you have lived this for so long, with lockdowns even before it became a reality, what is it like in your generation to be a lockdown generation?

DENNY: I think that it's a really interesting concept because we have a whole generation basically defined by this common trauma of locking down during schools. I have been doing this right around -- eight years old is when my first lockdown was. I still remember to this day. They really do not prepare you for when it actually happens. And it is truly just not the same and it should be something that nobody has to go through. [23:44:57]

CAMEROTA: Mikah, do you think this would have happened in the state house today without the shooting at MSU? Is that what galvanized people or is it the fact that you guys have been at work on this for a couple of years?

RECTOR-BROOKS: It is a little bit of both. I mean, we have been working with lawmakers very closely. We were expecting this to pass by the end of March. But, unfortunately, politics is reactionary. So, the MSU shooting did put pressure on our lawmakers to move even faster.

And with gun violence, it is a matter of life or death. So, when every day that goes by without this package passed is another day that kids are being killed. So, it took too long, but I am glad that they are finally making progress on this.

CAMEROTA: Of course, now, it goes to the Senate. But what will change --what will change in Michigan if this passes through the Senate and becomes a law, Mikah?

RECTOR-BROOKS: Yeah, I mean, I know that I and so many of my friends and classmates would feel so much safer going to school, going to campus, when we have these actual protections in place. You know, we, as Asha was saying, we are the lockdown generation. This is just part of our lives, part of our reality, but it should not be. This is just the floor and not the ceiling.

We need so much more legislation to be passed after the package. It is simply the bare minimum. But I feel like a lot of young people will feel safer just existing, going out of the house and being able to live without the fear of being shot.

CAMEROTA: Asha, how about you? How are you doing since what happened at MSU?

DENNY: But we are currently on spring break, so definitely it has been a very timely period to kind of realize everything that happened to not only me but my fellow students and fellow students who are no longer here with us. And it has definitely been a healing period. But we are Spartans. We are strong. We are going to get through it.

CAMEROTA: Is that what your t-shirt says?

DENNY: Yes, my t-shirt says, Spartans are strong.

CAMEROTA: That's great. Look, you guys are so impressive. The fact that you have sprung into action even though you were traumatized and the fact that you have made this happen basically in Michigan is really impressive. So, thank you so much for taking the time. Obviously, we will follow this bill through the state house and see what happens next. Take care. Thank you both very much. Really appreciate you being here. We will be right back.

RECTOR-BROOKS: Thanks for having us.




CAMEROTA: All right, so you ordered a Danish at a coffee shop, the clerk spins around the iPad for you to pay, and the only option is for you to add a 20% tip.


CAMEROTA: What do you do? Let's discuss with LZ, Harry, Astead and Joe. Harry, do you tip?

ENTEN: I do not frequent those types of establishments. I just (INAUDIBLE) right in the bud. I like go to establishments where I don't have to deal with that iPad. That technology is way too fancy for me. What's going on in this world now that everything apparently deserves a tip?

Look, I love to tip. I tip my cabdriver 25% on the way over here. But the fact is that there are certain things that don't deserve tips. If I sit down in a restaurant and I want to tip, I'll sure tip 20, 25, 30%, whatever, depending on how good the service is.


ENTEN: But when it comes to a coffee shop and they are just handing me it, no, I'm sorry. No, I can't do that. I cannot obey that tipping rule. It's not for me.

CAMEROTA: Fair enough. LZ?

GRANDERSON: I tip. The reason why I tip --


GRANDERSON: Because --

ENTEN: I feel guilty.

GRANDERSON: Because I do. Because there is this stereotype that Black people don't tip. Right? So, I am purposely going out there and going, look at me, I'm a tipper.


CAMEROTA: You are tipping for every single Black person out there.

GRANDERSON: And one time I went to -- my mom took me -- she might be watching right now. She might be embarrassed. She took me to a restaurant. (INAUDIBLE) and she's like, I'm going to pay for it. I was like, okay. It was expensive. And she was like, whew, (INAUDIBLE) you give me that right now.

(LAUGHTER) GRANDERSON: They are getting a tip. We are not going to be those black people.


CAMEROTA: This is awesome. Okay, Astead?

HERNDON: I do tip largely when the iPad spins around. And it is honestly because of like a similar level of anxiety. I feel like when they look at you, you don't want to be the person who presses, no tip. But at the same time, I do think it is getting a little out of control. I think -- I am a baseline 20%. I want that to remain.

But to Harry's point, every coffee, every bagel, every Danish is now turning into that. And at some point, you know, I'm going to have to do the Black people (INAUDIBLE).


GRANDERSON: You know, you can keep your card. I'll talk to the committee (ph).

HERNDON: Yeah, yeah, yeah, you tip for me.

PINION: Look, when the coffee costs $8, something has gone rotten in Denmark. So, I just think, yes, we have to get more comfortable saying no to tipping in certain situations.

I think it's a great opportunity to give back, to giving tips in a largely cashless world to make sure that the kid begging your groceries gets paid, make sure that that person who really knows your order before you walk in the door gets a little bit extra.

So, I think that there are opportunities where you can do that, but I just think in general, we have to allow people the space to say, hey, if you walk in and got a stick of gum at the grocery store, you are not obligated to leave 25%. Times are already tough in Joe Biden's economy.


CAMEROTA: He's not --


CAMEROTA: The reason that I tip right now, though I am annoyed, is because it's so hard to find workers.


So, I know that there is a shortage of workers at coffee shops and restaurants. So, now, I am tipping more than I ever did just because I recognize, oh, you're probably going to quit tomorrow, so I'm going to try to give you an incentive to stay in this job.

GRANDERSON: My girlfriend, Lisa (ph), in college, not girlfriend- girlfriend, but girlfriend --


She said tips stood for to ensure proper service. And I never forgot that. I always think about that. I go, you know what, because they see me again, they know I was the one that tipped.

CAMEROTA: You were the Black guy.

GRANDERSON: I was the Black guy that tipped.


HERNDON: That is why I go to different coffee shops each week, so they can't remember me if I don't --


CAMEROTA: So clever. Very clever. You (INAUDIBLE), Harry.

ENTEN: Do my hair a different way.

CAMEROTA: Guys, really a pleasure to spend time with you tonight. Thank you so much for being here. And thanks to all of you for watching. Our coverage continues now.