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CNN Tonight

Mar-A-Lago Pool Flood Raises Suspicions Among Prosecutors In Trump Classified Documents Case; Special Counsel Jack Smith Attended Meeting with Trump's Lawyers At Justice Department; Sen. Tim Scott (R- SC) Responds To Joy Behar's Comments On The View; Book Of Mormon Now Under Review following The Removal Of The Bible from Utah School Libraries; Ratings and Behavior Of Uber Riders As Per Latest Wall Street Journal Report. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired June 05, 2023 - 22:00   ET



KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: You can catch that at 09:00 P.M. Eastern right here, only on CNN with my colleague, Dana Bash.

Thank you so much for joining us tonight. CNN Tonight with Alisyn Camerota starts now. Hi, Alisyn.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Kaitlan. Thank you very much for that. Good evening, everyone. I'm Alisyn Camerota. Welcome to CNN Tonight.

So what happened with the Mar-a-Lago pool? In a CNN exclusive, sources say an employee of Donald Trump's drained the swimming pool last October and ended up flooding a room in the resort. That's the room where the computer servers containing surveillance video logs were kept.

So, was this just a messy mistake? Maybe. But it aroused investigators suspicions because it happened amid a series of events that they found curious. So, tonight, we're going to look at those key events at Mar- a-Lago.

Also today, Donald Trump's lawyers went to the Justice Department and met with Special Counsel Jack Smith. Our panel explains what that tells us.

Plus, you've heard how school districts are banning controversial books. So, what about the Bible or the Book of Mormon? That is happening in one Utah school district, and our panel has a lot of thoughts on that.

And do you always give your Uber driver a five star rating? It turns out a lot of us do. And it's not because we think they're great drivers. It's because we're scared. Tonight, we'll see what ratings they give us.

Okay. But let's begin with our CNN exclusive reporting on the Trump investigation at Mar-a-Lago and the flood at the resort's swimming pool. This happened last October as prosecutors obtained evidence that boxes of White House records were being moved around by Donald Trump's staff.

Prosecutors are examining whether there was any effort to obstruct the DOJ's investigation after the former president was subpoenaed in May 2022 for classified documents.

Joining me with her reporting on this is CNN's Senior Crime and Justice Reporter Caitlin Polantz, we also have Marc Caputo, National Political Reporter for The Messenger, who can give us a lay of the land at Mar-a-Lago, and senior legal analyst Ellie Honig, as well as former Watergate Prosecutor John Sale. Great to have all of you.

Okay. So, Katelyn, what makes prosecutors think that this flood at the pool at Mar-a-Lago is anything more than just an accident?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Alisyn, we don't know if they think that it's more than that. We just know it's something that they are asking about. And they're asking about it because they have been trying to get to the bottom of the possibility that people may have wanted to obstruct justice.

So, at the top of the pyramid would be Donald Trump. And the question is, did Donald Trump -- was he directing people to potentially take steps that would investigators as they were trying to locate all of the documents at Mar-a-Lago and find out where everything went as they were failing to get those documents back up leading up to that search in August?

And so this particular situation in October of last year, this is a maintenance worker draining the pool at Mar-a-Lago, and then that pool water causing a flood in the very room where video surveillance footage and equipment was being kept at the resort.

That is just a piece of a constellation of activity that investigators are asking out about, especially about the actions of this particular maintenance worker. This is someone who was captured on surveillance tape helping another Trump employee move boxes. And we know that investigators are also asking about conversations that these men were having with others in the Trump universe about the surveillance tape.

So, they're asking this question because there's just a number of different things that happened that when you take it all together, it is a lot of stuff happening around surveillance tapes that the Justice Department was trying to lock down as part of this investigation, surveillance tapes that would show that boxes had been moved within the resort at a time whenever the Trump team was not fully able to hand over all of the documents at Mar-a-Lago.

CAMEROTA: So, Katelyn, you're explaining that there was a confluence of events in that October. So, the timing is what gives the investigators some pause. Did they already have these surveillance tapes by then?

POLANTZ: Well, they had some of them, Alisyn. So, we do know that there was a subpoena right before the search of Mar-a-Lago in August by the FBI that was court authorized, and that subpoena went to the Trump Organization. They hand over surveillance tapes. But our understanding is that there were several other requests for surveillance tapes after that. And it became clear to people who worked for Donald Trump after that that the Justice Department was interested in those surveillance tapes.

We know his body man, Walt Nauta, one of the other people captured on some of these tapes, was asked about it with investigators and then changed attorneys in the fall, stopped communicating with investigators at that time.

And so, in the course of this investigation in the fall, we don't know exactly what date this flood happened, but we do know it was in October, and there were requests, demands for that surveillance footage from the Trump Organization both before and after that time.


CAMEROTA: Okay, thank you for all that.

Let me pull up that map that we have again of Mar-a-Lago, and let me bring in Marc Caputo. So, Marc, you've been to Mar-a-Lago several times, and on this map that we have of Mar-a-Lago, we can see where the pool is and then we can see where the storage room is, though we don't know exactly which room it was that was flooded. So, what do we need to know about Mar-a-Lago and how it's laid out, et cetera?

MARC CAPUTO, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE MESSENGER: Well, what I can say it's difficult to describe without me seeing the map is the place does have a lot of security. It has its own private security. And the time I was there, most recently, there were police cars with agents who had AR-15-style semiautomatic weapons. So, I don't think it's the kind of place you can really walk in.

Now, as a member of the press, I would have to get credentialed ahead of time. Other people have been able to kind of slip in as guests of guests or of members, I should say, at Mar-a-Lago, but it doesn't and it didn't strike me as a place where you could just kind of wander around and look around willy-nilly without someone asking you what's going on.

CAMEROTA: That's interesting, Marc, because we all remember the story in 2019 of the suspected Chinese spy who had something like nine -- she was discovered at Mar-a-Lago. She had something like nine flash drives. She had four cell phones. She couldn't explain why she was carrying a hard drive with her. So, I don't think that we knew that it had that level of security.

CAPUTO: Right. Well, I wasn't there for that. But what I can say is, in talking to the Trump campaign about this and prior to it being campaign, his advisers and some of his attorneys, one of the arguments that they've made about Mar-a-Lago, and understand this is their argument, is that it was designated as a SCIF, as a secure facility for the time he was president.

Remember, actually, on the Mar-a-Lago patio, he had a meeting with Japan's prime minister at one point to discuss some sort of international crisis. So, there's been a lot of history that's unfolded there since Donald Trump has been president and while he's been a presidential candidate.

But for the period of time, I was there, as I said, I didn't really have a lot of free movement. But then, again, I'm not a member. I'm not a guest of a member. I'm a member of the press. So, the rules are a little different for us.

CAMEROTA: Yes, understood. Okay. Elie, so prosecutors find some of this curious. What would they have to prove? What would they have to do, I guess, in order to prove that there was sabotage with this pool incident?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. So, in order for this to mean anything to prosecutors, they have to prove this was intentional as opposed to an accident. I would start with a bunch of questions that I have, and maybe these are more from my experience with pools than as a prosecutor, right?

Like how often are they draining this pool? Was this scheduled or not scheduled maintenance? How did it end up that usually like pool engineering, it would drain away from sensitive areas and not into areas where servers are?

And what you're also looking for is any sort of testimony or statement showing that somebody said, hey, get down there. Let the pool loose. Let's see where it goes, that kind of thing. And that's why they seize the phones, which they're surely analyzing. CAMEROTA: Jon, part of why prosecutors have some reason to be

concerned about how forthcoming the Trump team is, is because they have a history of trying to get back these documents and them not being turned over readily. We had the timeline up a moment ago.

I'll just quickly recap it for everybody. It was in May 2021, okay, that the National Archives first contacts the Trump team to locate missing items. Eight months later, they finally, the National Archives, received 15 boxes of White House records from Mar-a-Lago. They're assured that that's all there is. Okay? Then another five months later, they have to subpoena Donald Trump because they realize that there are still missing documents.

Then in August, three months later, the FBI has to execute search warrant at Mar-a-Lago because they still have not turned stuff over. Then the DOJ requested the Trump Organization preserve additional footage. That's in October. And then in October, there's this Mar-a- Lago, maybe pool accident, maybe something else.

JON SALES, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: Well, originally, there were negotiations to get the documents back. They dragged on. The game changer was the subpoena. Once there's a grand jury subpoena, it's no longer optional.

At that point, the former president was required to turn over everything called for in the subpoena. He could have gone to court to seek some relief from it, or he could have what's called submitted a privilege log where he's saying, hey, I'm holding the various things back. Here's the reason, and let a judge decide. But what you cannot do is selectively turn over some things and not others.

I think this pool, not to use a pun, but I think the prosecutor swimming upstream with a pool. I think they really can do a lot better. There was an article in The Daily Beast recently that said that the Trump lawyers think there may be a snitch amongst them.

Well, of course there's an insider. And how do we know that? Because there was a search warrant. And a search warrant meant they had probable cause to believe that there was evidence of a crime at Mar-a- Lago, and they have an insider.


And that's in the search for an affidavit, but that remains redacted, so we don't know who it is.

CAMEROTA: Really interesting. Okay. Elie, what does it mean that Trump lawyers today met with Jack Smith himself, the special counsel?

HONIG: So, to me, the fact that Jack Smith was in attendance -- and we didn't know this until later in the day is what's really important here. So, Jon knows, of course, that this is very common, where prosecutors will sit down with defense lawyers.

I know it may sound unusual to people who think it's all just adversarial. No. You give defense lawyers a chance to come in and make a pitch. We call it a reverse proffer. Because the defense lawyer is usually saying, here's problems in your case, here's why it's a bad idea for you to charge.

Now, sometimes as a prosecutor, you make them defense lawyers go through the levels. Well, you have to start with the guys on the line, like what I was. Then you can work your way up to the boss. And here, we know they met with the boss. This is Jack Smith's case, and I do not think DOJ is going to grant a second meeting with Merrick Garland. So, naturally, this kind of meeting would happen at the end of a case. So, it tells me they're really getting into the closing stages here.

CAMEROTA: You agree, Jon?

SALES: Not entirely. Elie and I served in the same U.S. attorney's office here in the Southern District.

HONIG: A few years apart.

SALES: Yes. Well, two years apart. But according to the Trump lawyers, they released a letter publicly that accused the prosecutors, maybe the FBI agents, of misconduct. The meeting may have been restricted to that.

Now, you can make a lot of noise about misconduct. I deal with in my practice, I deal with FBI agents, a U.S. -- assistant U.S. attorneys all the time. Most of them are very honorable. They don't agree with me, but they're very honorable. Every now and then there is misconduct, and I call it out, but you need evidence of it. You can't be the boy who cried Wolf. So, I don't think it's surprising that Jack Smith sat in when there was a discussion of alleged misconduct by his own people.

HONIG: Yes, I think we agree on that.

CAMEROTA: There you go. Fantastic. Thank you, gentlemen. Thank you very much, Katelyn and Marc as well.

So, next, our panel has a field day with the pool.



CAMEROTA: More now on the DOJ's latest moves in the Trump classified document case and CNN's exclusive reporting about the flood from the pool at Mar-a-Lago that flooded the room where the surveillance video logs were kept.

Our panel is here. We have Jessica Washington of The Root, Jon Sale is back, Republican Strategist Joe Pinion and Rolling Stone Columnist Jay Michaelson. Great to have all of you J-named people here with me tonight.

Okay, Joe, you're not buying the pool conspiracy theory.

JOE PINION, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Look, pools, flood, that's just a reality of life. I think anybody who has been convinced that the Trump family is effectively a crime syndicate that lacks itself onto the Oval Office, we'll say, Jacques (ph), there we go. They have, of course, flooded the entirety of the compound for the purposes of --

CAMEROTA: Just one room, don't go overboard, water metaphor. Go ahead.

PINION: Look, I just think that at some point, if you're wondering why there are people out there who think they're out to get President Trump, it's because sometimes even a simple flood of a pool gets blown up into a national conspiracy for the purposes of trying to conceal an ongoing crime.

CAMEROTA: Yes. And, I mean, just to be clear, the reporting is that prosecutors find it suspicious because that was a month when a lot of stuff was happening. So --

PINION: I think that prosecutors found it suspicious and somehow it ended up in a news report. So, I think, look, we should follow the truth wherever it leads us. I think we should follow the facts wherever it leads us. I think that we're having serious conversations about the lack of security around premier primary documents for the United States government, from President Trump to Joe Biden to Vice President Pence. So, all of those conversations are pertinent. But I do think, again, when we're talking about the pool flooding, I think we perhaps have jumped a shark.

CAMEROTA: Wow. JAY MICHAELSON, COLUMNIST, ROLLING STONE: I like that reference because I do feel like this is an episode from season five or in season six of the crime drama where they're really desperate for ideas and it's like, oh, I know, they flooded the pool and that the documents, but it was the pump and they're going to blame it on the pool guy or something.

Yes, I mean, I feel like there is a silver lining to this story. Oh, it's kind of like a pool lining.

CAMEROTA: I know. Believe me, there's a lot.

MICHAELSON: There's a lot out to work here, which is that maybe this will draw some attention to the seriousness of what's underneath this.

I tend to agree with Joe. I mean, I'm not totally persuaded that the pool guy did it, but, again, it's difficult to keep attention on the seriousness of this story because there're so many others going on. And so I think while I'm not convinced by the pool story, it's serving a higher good.

CAMEROTA: Jessica?

JESSICA WASHINGTON, SENIOR REPORTER, THE ROOT: Yes. I mean, I'd have to agree. Look, it is obviously suspicious that the surveillance room was flooded by the pool, like I don't think there's any other way to talk about that. But, I mean, it doesn't prove anything. We're absolutely not at a point of proving anything.

But it is a problem that Mar-a-Lago had so many security breaches, that there were classified documents being held there, that there was reports of things being shredded. There's a lot more to this, and I agree that it just kind of brings a spotlight back on it, whether or not we had a pool guy who intentionally tried to flood the surveillance room.

CAMEROTA: Jon, here's a question that I didn't get to with my last guest, Marc Caputo, who knew a lot about Mar-a-Lago, and I wish I had, because I hadn't thought about it this way before. If the crime of mishandling classified documents happened in Florida, is that where if Donald Trump were to be indicted, was that where he would be tried, is that where there'd be a trial, in Florida or D.C.?

SALES: Florida is going to can choose venue. Prosecutors can choose venue, and it's where anything happened. And the documents were in Washington, they were in the National Archives, and they were in Mar- a-Lago. So, the prosecutors can choose their venue, and I can assure you they will choose Washington, D.C.

CAMEROTA: Why is that?

SALES: Because I think it's a friendlier venue for them.

CAMEROTA: For prosecutors?

SALES: For prosecutors, for sure. CAMEROTA: Because Florida, obviously, around Mar-a-Lago would be a very friendly venue for Trump.

SALES: More likely. And, of course, this is only assuming that he's indicted. But I live in practice in Florida. And let me tell you, just Friday, a retired army officer was sentenced to three years in prison for improper retention of some classified documents. Hey, General Petraeus was prosecuted for that. Sandy Berger, high up in the Clinton White House, was prosecuted for that.

So, I think pool, that's a silly diversion. But what is not silly is Mr. Corcoran gave us -- drafted a sworn statement --

CAMEROTA: One of Donald Trump's former attorneys.

SALES: Former attorney for Mr. Trump gave a sworn statement, in which he said a thorough search was conducted and he turned over 38 classified documents.


Well, then the search uncovered over 100. So, there's something wrong there. And classified documents just cannot be mishandled or cannot be used to detriment the national interest. The pool is silly, but when you're talking about possible invasion plans of Iran, that's serious.

PINION: Well, look, and I think we should all agree that there clearly has been a lack of care demonstrated by the people we have entrusted with our national secrets. I think the problem, and we've talked about this before, is that the case may indeed be booby trapped.

I think when you look at potentially what happened with then-Vice President Biden, even going back to when he was in the Senate, I think the DOJ puts himself in a precarious position, whereas to proceed with President Trump, I think, also leads them to a position where they may be forced to also achieve (ph) --

CAMEROTA: Don't you see a distinction here, Joe, between these cases, namely that now President Biden and former Vice President Pence cooperated right away?

PINION: Well, look, I will say this. My co-pilot in crime, Elie Honig, he is no longer on the set, so I'm out here without a chaperone. But I will say this. I think at some point, we have to recognize that we are here to talk about the letter of the law, if we're simply talking about the letter of the law.

The letter of the law, in many ways, was not followed when it comes to President Trump, when it comes to Vice President -- then-Vice President Pence, when it comes to President Biden.

CAMEROTA: He's since been cleared, by the way.

PINION: Well, look, I just think, again, the reality of the issue is that either we have a law that is applied universally to everyone, or it's not --

CAMEROTA: But it was applied universally. The National Archives wanted stuff back. They reached out to these teams. Two of the teams returned the documents. One of them didn't.

PINION: Look, again, I'm not the attorney, uninsured, and you might be able to speak to this better than I will, but I will say this. The notion that somehow, oh, they asked for it back and we gave it back, is not in itself absolving yourself of the underlying crime. So, I just think that we have to have a broader conversation here about that.

But look, I think, again, as I said at the top, we should follow the facts wherever they lead. We should understand what President Trump knew, when he knew it. And from there we'll be able to have a broader conversation about that.

CAMEROTA: Quickly, your thoughts, Jay?

MICHAELSON: Everybody's learning the term mens rea now, right, which is exactly what Trump knew and when he knew it. And I think some of the revelations in the last couple of weeks are extremely significant and do, I think, differentiate this case from the case of Biden and Pence.

And I just think time is of the essence. Justice late is justice denied. And the closer this gets to the primaries, the more politicized this becomes, not less. And I know, having briefly worked for Attorney General Garland, he's a very deliberate, careful person. Now, is also a time for deliberate speed in terms of just recognizing the reality that the later this goes, the more this becomes --

CAMEROTA: Because when does it become -- when? What's too late?

MICHAELSON: This becomes incredibly politicized.


MICHAELSON: I mean, there's no magic date, right? But just the closer we get to the primaries, if Trump remains the front runner, it's hard for the other candidates, and we'll talk about that maybe later on, to define themselves when there's this uncertainty around the frontrunner by a lot.

And so I think, obviously, not rushing the investigation anyway, but there needs to be it's time to put the cards on the table and we need to see what's really true so we can stop guessing and actually move forward.


SALES: I just want to say quickly, Jack Smith, the special counsel, will follow the law and the facts. There is all -- we're forgetting, there is also a special counsel, without any leaks, who's investigating the Biden situation. And that special counsel will also report to the A.G. his analysis of law on the facts and each will be decided on its own. Of course, the obstruction, I think, will tip the balance, but each special counsel is doing their job.

CAMEROTA: I appreciate you pointing that out. Also, former President Trump denies all wrongdoing, though, he does not deny having the documents. He has talked often about having these classified documents but he denies that it was wrong for him to--

SALES: And let's give him the presumption of innocence, the very Constitution. He said we should suspend, should protect him and give him presumption of innocence.

CAMEROTA: Thank you for pointing that out, Jon, excellent point. Thank you very much, everyone.

All right, GOP Presidential Candidate Tim Scott going on The View to fight back against the lady's ideas about racism. But it was these comments that most upset the audience.


SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): Disney and Ron had been in a combat zone for a number of months over what I thought was the right issue as it relates to our young kids and what they're being indoctrinated with.





UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's one of these guys -- who he's like Clarence Thomas, black Republican who believes in pulling yourself by your bootstraps rather than, to me, understanding the systemic racism that African-Americans face in this country and other minorities. He doesn't get it neither does Clarence.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And that's why they're Republicans.


CAMEROTA: Well, that's the comment that Tim Scott says prompted him to go on The View today, to fight back. Here's what he said in response.


SCOTT: One of the things I think about and one of the reasons why I'm on the show is because of the comments that were made, frankly, on this show that the only way for a young African-American kid to be successful in this country is to be the exception and not the rule. That is a dangerous, offensive, disgusting message to send to our young people today that the only way to succeed is by being the exception. I will tell you that if my life is the exception. I can't imagine --


SCOTT: But it's not, actually.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's been 114 years.



CAMEROTA: We are joined now by co-host of the Fifth Column Podcast, Michael Moynihan. He's joining our panel along with Jessica, Joe and Jay. They're all back.

Okay. So, Jessica, your thoughts on both of those perspectives?

WASHINGTON: Yes. I mean, it's fundamentally confusing to me what Tim Scott's perspective, because his idea of what this country is just doesn't completely match up. What I would say is just he says he's not the exception, but he clearly is.

I think that there are a lot of black Americans who are able to be financially successful in this country. That definitely exists, but it is not the rule. I think the rule in this country is it is really hard to escape poverty. It is really hard to escape systemic racism.


And I think to try and act as if those things aren't real I think does disservice to efforts to try and mitigate those issues.

CAMEROTA: Michael, how do you see it?

MICHAEL MOYNIHAN, FORMER NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, VICE NEWS: I mean, I think Joy Behar's comments, and note that she wasn't there today. I think that was a bit curious.

CAMEROTA: Well, I think I later heard that she has off on Mondays. I was like, how does she get that job?

MOYNIHAN: Is that right? Is she a barber? She's off on Mondays. OK, well, that comment by her is offensive and stupid, particularly when it's coming from the white lady on the panel who is telling black people how to be black. Is there anything more offensive? Because it presumes, first of all, that there is only one way to be black. And the arbiter of that is the lady on "The View."

And Tim Scott, you know, a lot of policy disagreements with him. I think he handled himself very well today. He came on, was willing to go into the lion's den, and he did it with a smile on his face. He couldn't lose by going on there.

It's like, why not go on there? He's polling at between 1 and 2 percent, like behind Vivek Ramaswamy, and he went there and he did well. And Republicans were really happy about this. I saw on Twitter today that they thought he did very, very well.

CAMEROTA: Joe, is it possible that both, they're both right. And I don't mean Joy, I mean the argument that there is systemic racism, but he, and he is an exceptional person. Obviously he's an exceptional person that he's overcome the whatever life challenges he had, but his point is, and there's progress that's been made and my life suggests that everybody else can do it.

PINION: Look, I think the problem is that Senator Scott is making a very salient point poorly. I think Democrats are triggered by that phrase, whether it's systemic or whether they're triggered by indoctrination.

Republicans also triggered by the word systemic. I don't know a single Republican of note in the country who would disagree with the notion that we have a multi-generational failure for black and brown communities when it comes to our schools, when it comes to safety in urban environments.

CAMEROTA: But Tim Kershaw doesn't like talking about systemic racism.

PINION: I think the reality is there is a word for that. It is called systemic. And so people talk about the outcome without actually finding their way to actually articulate the word. Every Republican talks about what happens in Chicago year after year, talks about what happens in urban environments year after year, that we have black children trapped in failing schools because of the zip code in which they live.

CAMEROTA: So it's a semantics problem, you're saying.

PINION: So I think it is partially a semantics problem. The other part of it. I think it is that to your point, that there are people on the left who have decided that there is only one way to be a black person, only one way to be a Hispanic person.

And I think it is the soft bigotry of low expectations that has become acceptable in polite society, that we are always going to talk about white privilege when it actually comports with the way that black people are supposed to act, which in and of itself becomes the problem for what has happened in this country since its inception.


MICHAELSON: I just want to put this in context. We're in June. This means the Supreme Court is going to overturn affirmative action as we know it in the context of university admissions, but broader more widely as well.

And I take Joe's point. There are certain words that become electrified. Indoctrination, if we get to talk about that, is certainly one of those. There are also words that are created in order to be electric, like the word grooming, which was a big deal last year and which was weaponized against my community. And it does seem as though talking about systemic issues, that word systemic is a block. I guess where I slightly disagree is I just wished that if we took the word systemic out, but we still looked at policies that tried to address the sort of recurring patterns that are, I'm trying to avoid saying the word systemic, but that come generation after generation for people of color in this country, if we actually looked at some of the policies, there is a disagreement between the two major parties, and we're going to see that in the Supreme Court.

So where the rubber hits the road beyond the words, there is a profound difference. And that for me, again, I think both sides of this maybe didn't say it very well. I don't think, Joey Bay-Harvard, that wasn't her most articulate moment necessarily, but there is a difference here, and it is not just, I don't think, just a matter of languaging.

PINION: Well, I would agree, but I also think it's bigger than Joy Behar, right? I think that you can go all the way back to Malcolm X, who said that the greatest threat to black power and black independence were white liberals from the north, right? There was no difference between the northern wolf and the southern wolf and the northern fox, right? There, at some point, we should be having a conversation what policies work, what policies don't work.

Surely, we're not going to have all the agreements in the world, but I do think that at some point, this conversation becomes the very manifestation of the ugliness that many people say they're trying to rid the country of.

CAMEROTA: Jessica, one of the things that he was trying to say was that there's been so much progress made and he wants to lean into that, that there's been a lot of progress and he gave the example of his grandfather, I think, who had to step off the sidewalk to allow a white pedestrian to walk by. That's notable. I mean, don't you think that his point that he's the evidence of progress he's exhibit a of progress and not and that it is and that he had to be exceptional.


WASHINGTON: I get his point that things are better, and they're obviously better, and I think there's no way to argue that, but I mean, I'm younger than Tim Scott, and I've certainly experienced racism.

So I think to argue that this is no longer an issue doesn't make sense. And I think by focusing so much on this idea of we've made progress, so let's not talk about it, it makes it, you just make it so easy for other people. And I think you particularly make it easier for white people when the voice is coming from a black person. I think that's really what worries me.

MOYNIHAN: I mean, in fairness to Tim Scott, he doesn't say that it's not an issue. I mean, Tim Scott has spoken quite eloquently and frequently about being stopped by the police. These sorts of things are, I mean, the problem with these debates is these binary debates.

Like it's either everything or it's nothing. I did think he did a pretty good job of saying, you know, look, you know, there is a black middle class that is getting bigger and bigger every year. It is very different than 1920. It's very different than 1960. It's very different than 1980.

So like there has been progress. He doesn't deny that racism exists. He does. I think that the problem is one actually of language, is that when you end up having these definitional conversations about what is systemic, you tend to not have any conversations about policy solutions.

PINION: Look, my parents were born in the late 40s, early 50s, right? I watched my father, like the earliest image of my childhood, weeping, when I watched Jesse Jackson talking about hands that pick cotton will help pick this president for election, right?

I watched all of my friends weeping when we had Barack Obama talking about we do not have a black America or white America but the United States of America and so the problem I think does come down to language because the question becomes does the language have the sincerity that allows people to take the words seriously we know that people can take that language and put it in context when they agree with the person that is articulating that sentiment when they disagree with the underlying politics they effectively toss all of it away which becomes a problem we have these really, I think, nuanced conversation.

CAMEROTA: Friends, thank you very much for this nuanced conversation. All right. Be sure to tune in Wednesday night when Dana Bash moderates our CNN Republican Presidential Town Hall with former Vice President Mike Pence. That is live at 9 p.m. Eastern only on CNN.

OK, the debate over books is getting biblical. A Utah school recently pulled the Bible from its school libraries. And now it is considering a new request to pull the Book of Mormon. We'll discuss all that next.




CAMEROTA: A Utah school district recently pulled the Bible from elementary and middle school shelves after an anonymous complaint. Now, another complaint wants the Book of Mormon pulled for violent content like depictions of battles, beheadings, and kidnappings.

This is just the latest battle in the nationwide fight over which books students can read at school. My panel is back with me.

Jay, you are a rabbi, so Bible fan.

MICHAELSON: I definitely think the Bible doesn't belong on bookshelves according to this current logic where kids can't handle anything and they're just robots and we have to censor everything that might be triggering.

CAMEROTA: With that logic it doesn't.

MICHAELSON: The Bible has descriptions, you know, of rape, of sexual violence, of incest, of genocide, of attempted genocide, of genocide by the good guys, right, and killing a bunch of like, you know, young children.

CAMEROTA: So should elementary school kids be able to read it?

MICHAELSON: This is the perfect time to realize that this whole logic of censorship is stupid. It's stupid whether it's on the left or whether it's on the right. This is ridiculous. The claim that we should be going after books like "Heather Has Two Mommies" is absurd.

The idea that children are automatons and that when you put a book in the library that means that they're going to turn out a certain way is ridiculous. And this is the great way to talk about it because if we really look what's in the Bible, of course it shouldn't be on all of these shelves if it's true that students can't handle any sensitive material. So I'm delighted that this controversy is happening.

CAMEROTA: Joe, you also look delighted at that response.

PINION: Look, I think that we're really not having the conversation about books. We're having the conversation about trust or lack of trust. And I think that the reality that has been facing many communities all across this nation is that we no longer have faith in our neighbors and that is reflected in our politics. It has also become manifest in our politics or teachers.

Well, I think teachers are our neighbors right. And so I just think that on some basic level we need to recognize that if we're not going to have a real conversation about how do we get back to loving one another, having conversations with people we disagree with. We're going to continue to have these displays that just ultimately put the insanity of all this on broad display.

CAMEROTA: Michael.

MOYNIHAN: We don't really think this is about the kids, do we? Do we really think that there are kids in Utah that are like, I'm going to go at lunch break and read the Bible in the library? This is not happening. This is exactly what happens when you allow parents to wage culture wars via kids. I did a story in Florida when I talked to somebody who was going up against CRT stuff.

And it was sometime during the interview where I realized that he didn't have children. Not that he didn't have children in the school. He didn't have children. He was a culture warrior. He was somebody who got, you know, viewed with his ideas, all the channels that are going after the stuff.

I understand some of it. I understand that people are sensitive about this stuff. But to say that the Book of Mormon or the Bible has scenes of violence. Okay, well, does one go after, you know, the diary of Anne Frank? It's about the Holocaust. MICHAELSON: They did go after the diary of Anne Frank. The right has

censored the diary of Anne Frank because she was a teenager who had sexual thoughts. I guess there's a teenager who doesn't have sexual thoughts.

MOYNIHAN: And that's what I was going to say. Everyone going after something. And The left is going after something. And that's actually right because it's a trans-partisan issue. This idea that, I mean, go back, I did a search the other day for Huckleberry Finn.

First reference I saw in the New York Times, 1957, in the governor, Governor Wagner at the time, the Mayor Wagner at the time, said, let's take it out of school. In 1957, this happens and that's not necessarily something from the right, right? I don't know where this protest comes from. It can come from somebody who is of one religion or a someone who opposes violence, whatever it might be.

MICHAELSON: Which is pretty telling, right? We couldn't even tell if this was from the left or from the right.

WASHINGTON: My understanding of this is that it's kind of a malicious compliance thing. So there's this law in Utah where they're trying to kind of ban all these different types of books, mostly kind of focused on, you know, maybe queer, but like different things that they find objectionable. And this is someone who is trying to point out the absurdity of this law. So this isn't necessarily someone who's saying, I think the Bible is terrible.

They're saying, if we are going to go after all these things because they make us uncomfortable or they have an ideology underpinning it that makes us uncomfortable, the people who don't books about two moms, things like that, they're like, okay then let's apply the letter of the law. And if you do, if you apply that, then obviously something like the Bible is going to fall under that.

CAMEROTA: And it's working. Yeah. Like it was pulled off of elementary school shelves.

WASHINGTON: For sure. And I think it points out the kind of absurdity and then I think a lot of school districts are not going to like this and I think maybe they're hoping they're going to be able to get this law rolled back.

PINION: Well I think this also comes back to the stuff we see even in Tennessee, right, with the banning of the drag shows, then gets overturned by the court because it's not only that people are engaging in the wars at the governmental level and at the community level, they're doing it poorly, and they're doing it sloppily, and they're doing it in such a way that it makes it actually impossible for the actual underlying concerns that may be justified to be differentiated from the bigotry, that it always gets attached to legitimate issues. So I think that becomes a broader issue that we're seeing here now even in Utah as we speak.

CAMEROTA: Jay? MICHAELSON: I mean, you know, to Michael's point earlier, it's often, we sat here talking about a ban on transgender reality, there have been so many I've lost track of which ban we were even talking about. And this is basically again, using the children, save the children, Anita Bryant said this in the 1970s, it was a lie then, it's a lie now. This is of course the culture war and it's using censorship and suppression to simply make it harder for some people to grow up in a place where they think they might belong.

CAMEROTA: All right, guys, thank you very much. All right, now to this. When was the last time you rated an Uber ride less than five stars? Everyone seems to have a near perfect score. Why is that? What are we afraid of? The concept of five stars next and also will reveal what we've been rated.






CAMEROTA: What rating would you give that driver? A five, obviously?

According to a new "Wall Street Journal" report, it does not matter. Quote. "Customer ratings have become meaningless," end quote. Riders are giving out five star ratings willy-nilly.

Back with me, Joe Pinion and Michael Moynihan. Okay, do you guys give five star ratings?

MOYNIHAN: All the time.

CAMEROTA: You do, and do you too?

PINION: I do, I think I feel bad because sometimes I'm in the car and I'm thinking this person's gonna get me killed. But then I also think this person has to make a living, this person has a family to feed. And so, woe is the person that gives a one star review that cost someone the opportunity to actually make a living.

CAMEROTA: I understand Joe, I totally understand that, but if they're going to get you killed and they're a hazardous driver, wouldn't you be saving someone else's life by giving them a one star?

PINION: That is an excellent way to look at it, and yet I can't bring myself to do it.

MOYNIHAN: Amazing. That is amazing.

CAMEROTA: Why do you give out five stars, willy-nilly?

MOYNIHAN: So there's two ways of looking at this. The one is when I lie to your producer and I say that I do it because I care about their job and I thought about it later and what it really is. When you go less than five, they start asking you questions as to why.


MOYNIHAN: And they like why did you do it, shame you into it. I'm like, you know what?

CAMEROTA: You don't have time.

MOYNIHAN; I don't have time. I just got a five and we're done.

CAMEROTA: See, I give a five all the time too, because I'm scared not to. They know where I live.


CAMEROTA: That's why I--

MOYNIHAN: They claim that they're not connected. They don't know you're right.

CAMEROTA: It seems like they do know exactly who just rated them because they just dropped you off a second ago. So that's why I'm scared to do it.

Okay, but Guys, we also happen to have looked up what your ratings are.

PINION : Yeah, they're not great.

CAMEROTA: Are you guys, do you give fives because you're afraid that the driver's also going to rate you poorly?

PINION: Of course.

CAMEROTA: You do, yes.



PINION: It's all a lot of lies going on here.

CAMEROTA: Yeah, yeah, I got you. Joe, are you afraid of your ratings?

MOYNIHAN: You're hoping it's a mutual admiration society.

CAMEROTA: OK, it's not. So here's what we found out you got. All right, first we'll start with Michael's. You got a lot of five-stars.

MOYNIHAN: A lot of five-stars.

CAMEROTA: A lot of five-stars. You got 453 five-stars.

MOYNIHAN: Look at that. Amazing. CAMEROTA: 21 four-stars. Three, oh no, 15 three-stars.

MOYNIHAN: Not great.

CAMEROTA: Three two-stars. I don't know what, I don't know how you get a two-star, but in any event, you got eight one-stars. What did you do in those 8 cars?

MOYNIHAN: Look, I think I probably passed out. That's my guess. I mean we could just call it sleeping. But I mean I get Ubers when I'm out because I'm very say I don't drive. I take an Uber.

CAMEROTA: Of course, great.

MOYNIHAN: And sometimes I might, you know, fall asleep in the car or something. But or get a little chatty. But the thing is in that "Wall Street Journal" article. article a female Uber driver said I do not pick up somebody with like a 4.79 yeah because I think they might be a murderer. I am 4.8


CAMEROTA: You're a 4.8

So, you know who has a 4.79? Joe does


CAMEROTA: Joe you have 16 one-star ratings from drivers. What did you do, Joe?

PINION: Oh, I had the high crime misdemeanor of trying to call Ubers for my mother, my father, and my aunts. And so I think there's a little bit of ageism happening here with the Uber app. Because on a very real basis-

CAMEROTA: So you're blaming your mother and aunt for the six good awards?

PINION: On a very real conversation, you call your father, dad, the car's outside.

MOYNIHAN: Yeah, yeah.

PINION: What? Dad, the car's outside. I can't hear you. Car cancels. So that what happens a lot of the time and I do think that on a very serious note if you think about all the people Who are older they don't have people to call uber's for them It becomes a very difficult transition to try to make sure you can get from point A to B.

CAMEROTA: Okay you win Joe You're right. You you've actually redeemed yourself

MOYNIHAN: He did blame his mother.

CAMEROTA: You're just passing it PINION: I'm not blaming members of my family.

CAMEROTA: Gentlemen, thank you. Thank you.

All right, coming up, some of our favorite reporters are here to talk about the stories for tomorrow. We'll be with them momentarily.