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Tennessee Democrat Reinstated To House After Expulsion Over Gun Protest; Police Say, Five Killed, At Least Eight Hurt In Louisville Bank Shooting; Texas Governor Moves To Pardon Man Who Was Convicted Of Murdering A Black Lives Matter Protester; Donald Trump To Face Civil Lawsuit From Letitia James; How To Get Rid Of Trump In 2024; Dalai Lama Apologizes For Asking Boy To Suck His Tongue; "SNL" Parodies Trump. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired April 10, 2023 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I can. Where are the Republicans with any moral courage? Where are the Republicans who are willing to take responsibility for their bad actions or the things that backfire?
I mean, you can absolutely see a circumstance where the speaker of the House said that the lieutenant, hey, you take this bill up. It's your job, you do this, if you want to sort of stay in line and keep your committee assignments and do the things. And you know what? When you look somebody in the eye and they can't respond back. They know they did it, but they didn't do the right thing. They know they were wrong.
And that young man is so remarkable and it's absolutely channeling energy and an outpouring that is the essence of democracy and is the essence of what makes this country great. And my hat is off to him. And I think you're going to see you're going to -- you're starting to see some seismic shifts. And I hope they reverberate.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: We'll see. Just a remarkable day for him, remarkable few days for him as well. We'll see what happens with Justin Pearson's vote on Wednesday.
Thank you for joining us tonight. CNN Tonight with Alisyn Camerota starts right now.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. I'm Alisyn Camerota. Welcome to CNN Tonight.
The ousted Tennessee State Rep. Justin Jones tonight is reinstated. He was just expelled on Thursday for protesting inside the chamber and demanding action on gun reform after that school shooting in Nashville that killed three nine-year-olds and three adults.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE REP. JUSTIN JONES (D-TN): Today, we're setting a resounding message that democracy will not be killed in the comfort of silence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Then this morning, yet another mass shooting. A 25-year-old gunman opened fire inside the bank where he worked in Louisville, Kentucky, killing five people and injuring at least eight others. A source says his weapon of choice was an AR-15-style rifle. We'll talk about how credit card companies could help crack down on mass shootings, but why they're not.
And one of the most admired spiritual leaders in the world issues an apology after a video goes viral showing the Dalai Lama asking a young boy to suck his tongue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And suck my tongue. Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: We'll have much more on all of that ahead.
But let's bring in our panelists. We have with us, Jay Michaelson, he's a rabbi, a Buddhist and a columnist for Rolling Stone, we have Jessica Washington, Senior Reporter for The Root, Evan Siegfried is a Republican strategist and Michael Moynihan is co-Host of the Fifth Column podcast guys. Great to have you here, great to have you joining us, Michael.
Jay, let's just start with another mass shooting. We can't catch our breath between them anymore. They're -- now we report on them at least once a week. This one is a 25-year-old who was apparently going to be fired from his job at a bank. You know, back in our day, that would maybe warrant punching the wall or maybe punching someone. But with access to guns, it's changed the entire equation.
JAY MICHAELSON, COLUMNIST, ROLLING STONE: Yes. I just -- I can't believe this keeps happening, and here we are yet again talking about it. You know, I just have the one question. I understand. You know, I'm a former lawyer law, a former law professor. I understand the Second Amendment.
I just wonder if anyone can really believe that this is what the founders wanted, that this is possibly what they intended. The Second Amendment written about muskets and militias, and now being used as a pretext to do nothing about these weapons, which in the hands of people, whether they're mentally ill, or just angry, or whatever, are just killing Americans. And it just is unconscionable to me that we could really believe that this is what the founders intended.
CAMEROTA: Jessica, one of the remarkable things is how many lives these mass shootings touch. And so today, the governor of Kentucky, Andy Beshear lost his closest friend in this shooting, and he talked about it on camera right after the news broke.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDY BESHEAR (D-KY): We lost four children of god today one of whom was one of my closest friends. Tommy Elliott helped me build my law career, helped me become governor, gave me advice on being a good dad. It's one of the people I talked to most in the world and very rarely are we talking about my job. He was an incredible friend.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Last week, it was the first lady of Tennessee, her friend, who she was having dinner with, supposed to be having dinner with that night, was one of the substitute teachers, who was killed in that mass shooting. Today, the mayor of Louisville said that he himself had been in a workplace mass shooting. This is suddenly our universal experience. The one thing that unites all Americans is that they now know somebody who is connected to a mass shooting.
JESSICA WASHINGTON, SENIOR REPORTER, THE ROOT: No, it's true. I mean, this is an issue that is touching so many different lives. And I'm not a politician. My job isn't to come up with policy but I am a person who can look and see what's happening and see that something's broken when it has touched so many people's lives.
I mean, gun deaths are the leading cause of death among children and teens. I mean, just that fact alone, and that's not necessarily just related to these assault weapons, other issues as well, but just the fact that so many children, so many adults, so many people's lives have just been forever changed by guns, it's a clear indicator that something's not working.
CAMEROTA: Evan, you've been on with me when this has happened before, and we've talked about how we're searching for solutions, and is there anything that could break the impasse. And I was so fascinated to read today that the credit card companies had a plan. I'll read it to you. Visa, Mastercard and Discover this month paused a plan to implement a new merchant category code for the nation's gun retailers after political pressure from Republicans. The measure is designed to help flag potential mass shooters and gun traffickers.
But two dozen Republican attorneys general warned the credit card companies that they should not go ahead with their plans. The Republican officials said that adopting a new sales code for gun stores would harm the constitutional rights of gun owners. In other words, they could have flagged when somebody was gun shopping. You know, when somebody was compiling an arsenal of guns, they could have flagged something like that or even if just one person went into a gun shop and didn't seem right to that gun seller, but yet we're not taking those steps.
EVAN SIEGFRIED, PRESIDENT, SOMM CONSULTING: I think those Republicans attorneys general have lost sight of what Republicans used to have on the Second Amendment. Chief Justice Berger, who was appointed by Richard Nixon, he actually said that gun regulation and gun safety measures are very smart, and it used to be in Republican policy that we would have a pro-Second Amendment position that went hand in hand with gun safety. We've left the safety part out. And I think it's embarrassing. I also very worried that we're becoming numb as a society to these happening day in day out, and it's just now sort of another shooting, and that should not be the way we act nationally (ph).
And then, lastly, I think that we are really not -- or as Jessica came on and talked about, gun deaths are now the leading cause of death for children. But Pew Research also released a more detailed study that said, if you were black youth, you are five times more likely to be killed by a gun than any other demographic. And of black youths who are killed by guns, 80 percent or by murder, whereas white youths, 66 percent of gun deaths, suicide. And there's something really bad going on in this country and we're not addressing it.
CAMEROTA: Michael, your thoughts.
MICHAEL MOYNIHAN, CO-HOST, THE FIFTH COLUMN PODCAST: You know, it's funny that you say that. Had I not been coming here tonight, I would not have read this story. I'm being totally honest with you because it happened so frequently.
I have a 12-year-old. I find these stories so unbelievably grim and unbelievably hopeless because there's things on every -- I did a story one time on red flag laws in Washington State. And one of the people opposing these in Washington State at that time, that's probably about four or five years ago was the local ACLU, because of civil liberties concerns, of people, you know, having a constitutional rights taken away from them by a judge, who is saying if they're saying or not, or they're being told that there's a crazy person in the house by a spurned -- actually, all of these things that happen make these things that seem like we can actually do something, it's very, very hard to do that, mostly because of the constitutional issue, as you were saying, but also that there's all these other things, too, that, you know, are abridging people's First Amendment right. And until you were bridge that in the court, it makes it makes it rather difficult.
CAMEROTA: But I totally understand what you're saying. It's not that you're numb to it. We have to turn away for it for our mental health. You know, the idea that you can choose to read it or not read it, of course, you can't read every about every single mass shooting, Jay.
MICHAELSON: When we become numb, we dull moral instincts, right? We dull our human capacities for compassion and for care and for empathy. And these are the capacities which enable us to live together across the various divides that we have. So, it's incredibly worrying, in addition to the tragedy of the gun violence itself, the secondary tragedy of what this does to us as human beings.
CAMEROTA: Another thing that could help because, again, I'm just looking for solutions, as we do every single week here, if Congress isn't going to, the five of us are going to have to figure it out, is holding parents responsible. I mean, we've seen that in -- so, in Michigan, in the oxford case with Ethan Crumbley, his parents appear to be wildly reckless in terms of knowing that he was disturbed and giving him access, so they're being charged. And now, in the case with the six year old in Newport News, Virginia, the six-year-old who brings the gun to school and shoots a teacher, that mother is being charged with felony child neglect. WASHINGTON: Yes.
And I think, I mean, just looking at that case, I don't know that we can fix these systemic issues by putting that kid's parent in jail. I just don't know. I'm not saying that that's not the right move. I'm saying that I don't know that it is. I mean, we have a serious problem in this country where there are so many guns unlocked in the homes with children. I think --
CAMEROTA: Doesn't this send a message to parents to be more careful?
WASHINGTON: I think maybe there are also other ways than necessarily taking away this child's parent that could also be potentially used. I think there are ways is to, you know, maybe licensing, making that more of a priority. I'm not saying that necessarily this is the wrong move. I'm just saying, I don't know if locking up one parent is a solution to, I want to say, 4.6 million children living in homes with unlocked firearms.
SIEGRIED: I was going to say that I think one of the things we can do is -- the president today came out and he said he wanted to have safe storage laws. I think that they're a good idea but they're unenforceable because it wouldn't how do you really go out and logistically do that and without a warrant, and that gets into constitutional questions? Wait --
MICHAELSON: I just want to say, if gun owners and the majority of gun owners are people with respect for law, right, I'm going to just postulate that, then they will obey the law. It's not just a question of enforceability. It's also like if you want to be law-abiding -- it used to be having a gun was a responsibility. This was part of the family heritage, if it was a hunting rifle, and this is part of what it meant to be a responsible citizen. So, I don't know if that if that enforceability issue going to kill it.
SIEGFRIED: Well, no. Where I'm going with this is I think there's a better way where we can, if we start partnering, because it's clear that Congress is not going to act so we have to. And we have to partner with more pro-gun groups because there are a lot of groups that are not called the NRA who do believe in gun safety and believe that we should be training people to be responsible gun owners. And if we were to get people who are pro-gun able to influence within the community, hey, let's do safe storage, hey, why don't we go out and do reduce magazine capacity and get that and have it happen without having to enact laws, that might be more successful. At this point, it's worth trying, because it we might as well do something other than sit on our hands.
CAMEROTA: I mean, this was also, I guess, a permit list carry state, Kentucky. So, you don't need a permit. And maybe you don't -- you don't need a permit to carry a concealed weapon, number one. And number two, they might have done away with the training component even. I mean, many states have that where they do away. You know, if you're going to buy a gun, why not at least have somebody have to be trained or go, you know, refresh your license from so -- you know, from gun --
MOYNIHAN: It's an important point that most gun owners are -- the vast majority are responsible. I once interviewed some people at a gun club in New Hampshire, and all the people in the club opposing open carry. They said, you know, we don't want to look like wackos. We're not wackos. We use these as a utility, whereas who are farmers, we do it for sport, et cetera. We don't want to seem like you know Ted Nugent or something.
But these things, as far as like, you know, locking up guns, et cetera, my fear about this stuff is not only that they won't work is that it's -- we're so obsessed with gesture politics when it comes to guns. Because when you see that there's not much you can do because, you know, there are more guns than there are people in America, it's a pretty astonishing number, right? I mean, we're at 340 million people or something, 400 million guns.
So, the one thing when people say we have to do away with guns, no, that's not going to happen.
CAMEROTA: Of course. But I don't know anybody anymore who says we have to do away with guns.
MOYNIHAN: I mean, there are a lot, actually, people that -- yes. I mean, people out there that -- I mean, the idea that we have to eliminate private gun sales. What do we do about the stuff that's out there already, 400 million guns? If criminals are going to want them at that point, there's enough out there in circulation that any production of new guns isn't going to matter.
MICHAELSON: Michael, this feels like a straw man. I mean, we know what the agenda is. Like that we're saying, we don't know what to do, we don't know what to do. We know exactly what to do. The Supreme Court has said that an assault weapons ban would be within the end of the Second Amendment. That's the Supreme Court's not formal holding of a case but that Supreme Court dicta. We understand what we can do with magazine with magazine limits. We understand what we can do, I would say, again, with safe storage.
It's not that -- I don't know anybody who's saying, you know, take away all the guns. That's sort of -- to me, that's sort of right-wing talking point more than anything else. But what we have now is so far from that, where we have members of Congress, you know, posing with assault weapons with their kids. That's, to me, the opposite of responsible gun ownership.
MOYNIHAN: But what does one do about 400 million guns in America, though, if we don't take them away? If there's no gun requisitioning, what does one do?
MICHAELSON: I think there's a lot of space between where we are now and between solving that problem. So, to me, a lot of what we do about those guns are ensuring that we have a gun culture that's responsible rather than lawless. Again, Christmas cards with your kids and your guns, that, to me, does not seem to be inculcating values of responsibility. And, to me, it feels like a direct line from behavior like that, most behavior on the part of parents having guns that the children can access.
So, to me, to answer your question directly, that's where we work on the culture. But in the meantime, there's so much that could be done legislatively if we didn't have this bizarre paranoia about gun culture in this country.
I mean, I'm not a doctor, but it feels almost like a mental illness, this idea that they're coming for our guns, that my personhood or my masculinity is invested in my gun. These are bizarre points of view.
CAMEROTA: Well, friends, we have to leave it there, but I do think that there is something connected to mental health. The fact that there are so many shootings is creating a different mental health problem than what you're talking about. But, for sure, it's causing everyone lots of stress, particularly about their kids.
Just ahead, the governor of Texas moving to expedite a pardon for a man who was just convicted of murdering a Black Lives Matter protester. We're going to dig into the case and what's motivating the governor to overturn a jury verdict.
CAMEROTA: A Texas man just convicted of murder on Friday could be pardoned any day now. The state's Republican governor, Greg Abbott, is considering pardoning Daniel Perry. He's an Army sergeant and Uber driver, who, in 2020, during the Black Lives Matter protests in Austin, posted online that he might, quote, kill a few people on his way to work. He was found guilty of shooting and killing Garrett Foster, a protester at a Black Lives Matter demonstration.
Perry was convicted by a jury, but the chairman of the Republican Party in Texas did not agree with that verdict and told the governor that a pardon was, quote, in order. The next day, Governor Abbott announced that's what he would do.
Back now with our panel, we're also joined by CNN Legal Analyst Joey Jackson.
Joey, what are we missing here? How can we see this in any other way than through a political lens?
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think it's very difficult to see it in any other way. And it's troubling and it just is -- I won't even say baffling, but it just sends a wrong message at a wrong time.
You know, we have a process, and, certainly, trials a contentious. And during those contentious trials, both sides get to air the issues. Even before that, Alisyn, you have something called jury selection, where you assemble a jury of your peers in both sides. Prosecution and defense have an opportunity to pick the jurors they believe to be most suited to hear the evidence. After that, there's opening statements where there are narratives from both sides with respect to what they believe the evidence will show. Thereafter, ton of witnesses, cross-examination you're allowed, you know, fair and full opportunity to voice all those issues and concerns.
And then we have a jury instructed as to the law, in this case, stand your ground, meaning you have no duty to retreat in the event you feel you're in imminent fear of death or serious bodily injury. You can use force proportionate to whatever threat is posed, right, can't shoot someone for punching you, and that you act reasonably.
A jury then, after eight days, goes and they hear everything, they deliberate for 17 hours, comes back, guilty of murder. And now based upon a narrative, which apparently the governor has board into -- he wasn't at the trial, by the way, right, didn't sit through the testimony of the trial, by the way, I didn't hear the compelling arguments of both sides, by the way, now says there's nothing to see.
What does it do to the credibility of our system? What does it do to the notions of fairness? What does it do to the fact that there are so many others before the court where there is injustices that they want to right wrongs, they don't get tweets from a governor that says, we're pardoning you and there's nothing to see. So, it's disturbing, it's troubling and it's just -- it's a incredibly wrong message to send.
CAMEROTA: I mean, Evan, this isn't somebody who's being pardoned from a death sentence. This isn't somebody who served, you know, decades and decades and the governor feels it's time to -- he's paid his price to society, his debt to society, this is somebody who was just convicted on Friday. And he's going to -- the governor wants to pardon him. I mean, isn't that nullifying a jury's verdict?
SIEGFRIED: He's convicted on a Friday afternoon. Almost instantly, the right-wing social media activates, says he was protecting himself from a BLM protester who pointed a rifle at him. Okay. But he hasn't been sentenced yet. And if the governor wants to pardon him, he should, but he should do it the right way, which is to have his pardon board go over the trial, look to see if there's any exculpatory evidence and at the same time, remember, the defendant can appeal this verdict as well. He hasn't exhausted any of his appeals.
This is a much more nakedly political move, which I think sends a very chilling message of if you go out and you feel that you might be in danger from a protester, yes, you can shoot them. But the other thing is what actually happened leading up. The narrative, as we understand it, is he had a passenger, he finished his fare, dropped them off and then drove toward the protesters. And the standard ground law is nullified when you go looking for a fight.
CAMEROTA: That's a great point. He also posted on his own socials, in his own words, this is the person who has been convicted of murder, number one, quote, I might have to kill a few people on my way to work. They are rioting outside of my apartment complex. And, number two, I might go to Dallas to shoot looters. Jessica, here is what the prosecutor, who prosecuted this case, just said in the past hour on CNN. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSE GARZA, TRAVIS COUNTY, TEXAS DISTRICT ATTORNEY: By making this announcement, the governor has undermined the rule of law in the state of Texas, and he has made our community less safe. Every single day here in Travis County, we hold people accountable who commit acts of gun violence. We're going to continue to hold people accountable who commit acts of gun violence. And, obviously, if the governor wants to continue to pardon people who commit acts of gun violence, that's up to him, but there is no doubt in my mind that it makes our community less safe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Your thoughts?
WASHINGTON: Yes. I mean, it does seem like the message is that this was a Black Lives Matter protester and, therefore, it was okay. We've seen obviously a huge backlash on the right against Black Lives Matter protesters kind of this idea that you know they are enacting violence, and, therefore, it is okay to enact violence against them. And so I think this definitely sends a message.
Whether or not you agree with the pardon or even how it was done, it obviously seems to be a political message, that is Black Lives Matter protesters, you know, were enacting violence, that anything that you do is just defending yourself. And I think that's pretty terrifying for the idea of peaceful protests in the United States.
CAMEROTA: In fact, Kyle Rittenhouse was a big supporter and defender of this guy during the trial. Jay?
MICHAELSON: Yes. If I could just disagree slightly with the district attorney, who said this is within the governor's rights. As Evan pointed out, this is a massive abuse of the pardon power.
The pardon power exists for cases of miscarriage of justice after all of the remedies have been exhausted, after some time has passed and with a process in place.
This is authoritarian. And I'm not one to sort of ring the, you know, authoritarianism bell a lot, but to simply take after the legal process, as you laid it out, as the legal process has run its course, to simply say no and to throw it out to me.
I mean, the only open question here is whether Greg Abbott actually believes this. I mean, I almost hope that he just is doing this as a nakedly cynical power grab to pander it through his base. It's chilling to think that because of the narratives that he's imbibed and because of the ideology that he has that he can't actually see this case objectively, that he can't see that this is a criminal matter and that the end of the process needs to run its course, that, to me, is terrifying.
CAMEROTA: Yes. I mean, Republicans, Joey, as you know, have been decrying political persecutions. You know, all last week, we were hearing about how they're so angry with Alvin Bragg in Manhattan, this D.A. who they think that is only pursuing and investigating Donald Trump because of politics. This is even after the -- what we're talking about now is after, as you say, an entire jury heard it for weeks, a jury of his peers. That's how it is supposed to work in our country.
JACKSON: Yes. It's supposed to work that way. And when you say that it's supposed to work, one of the good things you would think about the court system and structure is that it would be devoid of political considerations that a jury trial would be about a factual determination being rendered by a jury after hearing the facts, the evidence in the circumstances and then you have a governor weigh in and say, nothing to see here, we will just nullify that.
I know it was eight days, multiple witnesses, experts, everything was there, but you know what? I listen to that radio show, or was it a news program that talked about this issue, and it said that perhaps there was a miscarriage of justice from their perspective, so I'm going to overturn that. Just a horrific message, Alisyn, and I think that for all those who want to buy into a system that they believed worked, it really says it doesn't work unless you're rich, powerful, connected and know the governor.
SIEGFRIED: Further proof of it being a political move was the governor's own statement. He said something to the effect of, I'm going to defend the stand your ground law and then he attacked the D.A. as a woke D.A. and I believe he even threw in a Soros reference and Soros-backing. That tells you everything. He didn't have a, okay, well, in the trial, it turns out somebody lied on the stand or there was some DNA evidence, and I think the jury got it wrong. It doesn't point to any of that.
CAMEROTA: Really interesting. Thank you all very much for that.
Meanwhile, more legal trouble for Donald Trump, the former president is expected back in New York this week to sit for a deposition in a civil trial. This is not the Stormy Daniels case. This is a different one about how the Trump Organization reportedly cooked their books. We will discuss that next.
CAMEROTA: I hate to interrupt you guys. Former President Donald Trump set to face another legal battle this week. This time, it's for a civil lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Leticia James. Multiple sources tell CNN that Donald Trump will sit for a deposition on Thursday. The lawsuit alleges that Trump, three of his adult children and the Trump Organization, defrauded lenders, insurers and other entities for more than a decade.
My panel is back. Michael, I wouldn't blame you or our viewers for struggling to keep up with the various Trump legal challenges because they --
MICHAEL MOYNIHAN, CO-HOST, THE FIFTH COLUMN PODCAST: I have no -- I can't. What do we have? We have Georgia or this.
CAMEROTA: That one is easy to remember.
MOYNIHAN: That one is easy to remember. January 6th is easy to remember.
CAMEROTA: This one came out of nowhere. This one --
MOYNIHAN: I just feel like he's been facing tax charges since he was 25. It's just for some reason, none of them have stuck. But, yeah, I mean, the question of all these things is it doesn't have any effect on Donald Trump in the polls.
CAMEROTA: And what's the answer?
MOYNIHAN: Absolutely not. I mean, we saw this bounce after, you know, showing up in Lower Manhattan. You know, Ron DeSantis was, you know, not, I mean, not narrowing the gap, but he's pretty competitive. Donald Trump is overtaking him in Florida where DeSantis at. And that is all in the week after this.
CAMEROTA: But you think that's durable or you think that that's a spike that --
MOYNIHAN: I don't think any of its durable and, you know, Ron DeSantis hasn't run a campaign yet. So, I think that, you know, hasn't announced, so I think that, you know, he's going to get some competition there because, you know, he's Trumpy, but you know, semi- coherent unlike Donald Trump, whose Trumpy and not coherent.
But, yeah, I don't know if it's going to last. But the thing about it is, is that-- the guy lost two elections. This is the hardest thing to do when you talk to Trump voters, which I spend a lot of time doing, is you say, how do you want to hit your wagon to this man who lost the election in 2020? And what do they say?
CAMEROTA: What do they say?
MOYNIHAN: No, he didn't. It's impossible to argue with people like this. They say, actually, the base actually thinks no, no, he really did win, so we should back him again. So, I don't think it -- this stuff has any effect on him because he's been sort of Teflon so far.
JAY MICHAELSON, COLUMNIST, ROLLING STONE: This is why we call it cult of personality, a cult.
MOYNIHAN: Yes. MICHAELSON: I mean, this is now it is a cultic religious belief at this point. Now, "Politico" did a few good pieces on this last year around the cult of personality around Donald Trump and, you know, it is helpful to look at this as a kind of new religious movement or as a cult where there is this charismatic figure and control of information is regulated so that you only get information that agrees with his point of view.
And although I guess, I would only quibble on where that bounce is, right. So, most Americans are not in the cult. And the more it becomes clear that this is kind of a bizarre, strange phenomenon of, you know, this 15 to 20 percent or so who are the true believers, I'm not sure that bounce actually helps in a general election the way that it clearly has already helped in the primary.
CAMEROTA: Well, speaking of Trump voters, Frank Luntz, pollster, a friend of our show, sat down with his focus group of Trump voters, and he heard something different this time. I mean, basically, they were telling them what they, I think, what he -- what they wish about Donald Trump and why they're struggling.
And so, I have a couple -- he wrote a "New York Times" op-ed this weekend, and he says here, I'll just quote some of the things that Frank Luntz reports they said, quote, "They love their grandchildren so speak specifically about the grandkids, and their grandparents will listen as well. We mistake loud for leadership, condemnation for commitment. The values we teach our children should be the values we see in our president."
Frank is basically giving instruction -- giving advice here to other Republicans for how they could beat Trump after what he heard from the Trump voters, those are some of the things like, say, is this what you want to teach your grandchildren? That's one. Here's another. "During the 2016 campaign, Trump condemned Barack Obama repeatedly for his occasional rounds of golf, promising not to travel at taxpayer expense. What was Trump's record? Close to 300 rounds of golf on his own courses in just four years, costing hardworking taxpayers roughly $150 million in additional security."
MICHAELSON: This is magical thinking. I mean, I love the piece like I wish that the world was the way that Frank Luntz depicted in this piece where, like, well, that's really true. Donald Trump really did play a lot of golf, but I don't really know --
CAMEROTA: Why don't they care? I mean, they cared so much about Barack Obama.
MICHAELSON: This -- again, like there needs to be someone who's the anti-Trump who has that kind of personality, right? Ron DeSantis does not. There has -- there's not like a Ronald Reagan figure. There's not like a figure of a more moderate Republican stripe who's able to make those kinds of moral arguments in a way that resonates. And that's again, the sort of abdication of morality in this segment of the population. EVAN SIEGFRIED, PRESIDENT, SOMM CONSULTING: Well first, I think it's
important to understand why do they hitched themselves to Trump and why have they since 2015 and 2016? I actually had a lot of conversations during that time with Republican voters who were the base now who they hadn't gone to the fully, oh, the election was stolen. This was still 2016.
And they told me, you know, part of it is a systemic problem that Republicans and Democrats every election come and say, vote for me and I'm going to fix all your problems. And then when they vote for them, which is a very sacred thing to give someone your vote. When they vote for them, they don't feel any tangible results, and you see a lot of portions of the country that we had terrible policy planning because we knew we were shifting from a manufacturing economy to consumer economy, and these people were left behind economically and they felt abused.
Abuse was a word that I heard repeatedly, and the way they felt by voting for Donald Trump when they see the establishment and the media, the big boogie men of our age these days reacting and saying this is horrific how he behaves, they feel when they vote for Trump, it's them being able to get back and get even and give some abuse back, and that is scary.
And the other thing is with Frank Luntz's piece, I agree with Jay, it is pie in the sky. It's not going to happen. We saw this in 2016. Jeb Bush tried to do policy. He tried to talk about your grandkids. Same with John Kasich. Where are they now? Nowhere. And Donald Trump became president and he's running again. But the one blessing is the only Republican Joe Biden can defeat in 2024 is Donald Trump.
CAMEROTA: Maybe. I mean, you don't know that, do you?
SIEGFRIED: I think that Joe Biden's low poll numbers. I think the dissatisfaction with the way the country is going, inflation, economy being the biggest issue, and while things are slightly improving, it's not good for Biden. When you get -- if it were Nikki Haley, even a DeSantis, I think people would be much more willing to vote for them over a Donald Trump.
CAMEROTA: Jessica, do you have thought on this?
JESSICA WASHINGTON, SENIRO REPORTER, THE ROOT: Yeah. I mean, the only thought is that part -- and this is part of us on the media, but I think sometimes if we talk about Trump like he can't lose and he did lose the 2020 election. I think sometimes we talk about it like Trump is this invincible character and you can throw this indictment at him and this and, you know, and that at him and he'll never, you know, his base will love him forever and he'll win and there's nothing we can do to stop him.
And then it's like he did lose the 2020 election. You know, he is beatable, and I almost think kind of adding to this, he is this unstoppable winner, we add to that cult of personality around him.
CAMEROTA: Last (inaudible). MOYNIHAN: I was depressed by Frank Luntz's piece because he was seemed to be ceding the Republican Party of the populist. That's it. It's populism now and that is it. That works as I talked to a number of these people during the 2016 election, I was at a union hall in which they took the Bernie picture down to replace it with Trump literally -- quite literally did this in Indiana.
Because they hated TPP. They hated Hillary Clinton saying that was the gold standard. They hated free trade. They wanted somebody to pay attention to them for once. Donald Trump did and then did absolutely nothing about it and waged a pointless and fruitless trade war that nobody getting from. And I see in that Frank Luntz's piece that that kind of -- those Reagan ideas of the free market. Good lord, those are gone.
CAMEROTA: Friends, thank you very much. Now, we have to get to this peculiar story. The Dalai Lama asked a young boy to suck his tongue. And it's caught on video. My panel is going to tackle this next, whether they want to or not.
CAMEROTA: The Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, is apologizing after a video shows him kissing a young boy on the mouth as spiritual service in India and then asking the boy to suck his tongue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DALAI LAMA, TIBETAN SPIRITUAL LEADER: Then I think finally here also.
LAMA: And suck my tongue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: I'm back now with my very eager panel to talk about this. Jay, you've met the Dalai Lama many times. Have you sucked his tongue?
MICHAELSON: I have not. The Dalai Lama is a very playful human being.
And we may see this in a weird kind of gross sexualized way, but this is about as sexual as a bowl of plain rice. There is nothing sexual, erotic -- or erotic happening in this encounter. As you can see by the reaction of the people who are there. Tibetan culture just has different boundaries around. We see the tongue as -- it's what we kiss with it, sexualized this, and of course, that -- this is offensive to us, as it should be. It's not seeing that way in Tibetan culture. This is a part of the
body. It's something playful. It was clearly a mistake. The apology was in order. This was clearly something that was at best, you know, insensitive to how this would be seen by a large swath of the world population. But it seems clear from the video, and look, I'm biased.
I mean, the Dalia Lama is one of my spiritual heroes. I have met him. Being in his presence is really one of the most powerful experiences I've had in my life. And the aura of loving kindness that he has is evident even here, where he's being playful in a way that in western culture would certainly be inappropriate.
CAMEROTA: But, I mean, part of also what we're picking up on is the boy doesn't want to do it. He's taking the boy's head. I mean, part -- we're just sort of reading the body language here. I'll take your word for it that it seemed differently there culturally, but the boy doesn't seem to be wanting to participate in this.
MICHAELSON: Well, I don't know. The boy, like, the boy's face is appropriately is blanked out. We have no idea what his facial expression was. I don't see that in the body language. I just see a (inaudible) kind of a weird moment. And again, look, this is an 80 something, you know, your old spiritual leader who has been celibate for his entire life.
Unlike, you know, we see this, we see our religious figure in a position of power. And we read it through our lens. We're scarred by generations of Catholic church sexual scandals and by abuses by spiritual teachers of all varieties, including some of my fellow rabbis and the Jewish tradition. And we see that through that lens as well we should, but that's not necessarily the lens that a different culture might see this interaction through.
CAMEROTA: Anybody have any other thoughts?
SIEGFRIED: I would just say that you know, I get that there are different culture issues. But shouldn't the Lama have read this boy's body language? Watching that video, I saw the boy recoil and seem unsure. Yes, we didn't get to see his face. Maybe he was smiling. But at the same time, the Lama should have also been respectful there. And I have very much enjoyed the Lama and his teachings. I think he is a powerful force in the world.
But what happened was weird. And then from a crisis communication standpoint, which is my bread and butter these days, I thought they absolutely bungled it. The apology, it seemed like a very breezy apology.
CAMEROTA: I'll read it. I'll read it. "His holiness wishes to apologize to the boy and his family as well as his many friends across the world for the hurt his words may have caused. His holiness often teases people he meets in an innocent and playful way, even in public and before cameras. He regrets the incident."
SIEGFRIED: It wasn't just his words. It was his actions, and that they should have also said. MOYNIHAN: I didn't know he was called the Lama. Is that what you call
him? The Lama? Is that okay?
CAMEROTA: His Holiness.
SIEGFRIED: Not really.
MOYNIHAN: Not really? Okay. The Lama, so I shouldn't say that. Okay.
CAMEROTA: His Holiness.
MOYNIHAN: I don't believe (inaudible).
CAMEROTA: The Dalai Lama.
MOYNIHAN: Yeah. The Dalai Lama, him. I know it's not sexual. Can I not overly intellectualized this and just say it's kind of gross? And that when he says to the little boy, do you want to suck my tongue? I just, you know, kind of change the channel.
MICHAELSON: I mean, having raised a child, you know, my daughter is five years old now. You know, we had to set boundaries around what's appropriate for strangers to do with my child's face in -- on the subway in New York City. People reach up and do all kinds of non- consensual touching that we felt was not appropriate. They were squeezing her cheeks and do this and doing that, and you see it all the time.
And I think it is something that as parents we want to be sensitive to, and it's not unique to this particular interaction. This is something that is true in our own culture as well, just in different ways.
WASHINGTON: Yeah, it definitely made me uncomfortable to watch that. Can't deny that. You know, maybe there was specific cultural context in which it was appropriate. It was a little -- it was uncomfortable to watch for sure, but I think your kind of touching on this larger point that children so oftentimes, especially in our society, don't have any bodily autonomy. They aren't able to say no when they don't want to be touched.
The idea is, oh, you have to give grandma a hug. You have to give grandma a kiss. You know, you're not allowed to have control of your own body. So, I think maybe we can have that conversation now just kind of looking at this.
CAMEROTA: But really helpful. Thank you, Jay. Thanks for giving us a different lens through which to look at it because it's a little startling. Thank you very much. All right. If you missed "Saturday Night Live," you have to see their Cold Open that somehow combines Donald Trump and the last supper. That's next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [22:50:00]
CAMEROTA: "Saturday Night Live's" Cold Open this weekend went full holy day humor, somehow combining Donald Trump, Jesus Christ and the Last Supper.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN: Many people are saying we're very similar. We're both very tall. Very popular and both, frankly, white Americans. You know, Jesus did some incredible things, some would call them miracles in terms of fish in with regard to bread. A (inaudible) with fish and bread. He rose from the dead on the third day, I would have done it faster, possibly two -- possibly two days. I think we could have done it a lot faster. He had a good mind for business water into wine, pure profit. And he had big, big rallies just like me, and a lot of his followers got in big, big trouble, just like mine. All because I told them exactly what Jesus would have said, get very violent and start a war.
And I've even got my very own judas, Ron DeSantis. Ron DeSantis came to me tears in his eyes, he said. Help me, Mr. Trump. I'm going to lose my election. So, I very generously pretended to like him. And then he did a Judas, and now he can't even get the gaze out of Disney World. It's an awful thing. Look at these guys back here, huh? They just have to sit here frozen while I talk. Can you believe that? Mr. Jesus. Quite a guy. But now people are saying perhaps I'm even better than Jesus, because I'm a self-made billionaire and Christ was, let's call it what it is, a nepo baby, okay?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Somebody please give him an Emmy or a Nobel Peace Prize. All right, in the next hour we've got something new for you. Some of our favorite reporters are here to peel back the curtain on how they get their scoops and what stories they're working on. They are in position ready to go. I will be joining them in that chair momentarily. We will be right back.