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CNN Tonight

Trump Faces Federal Charges Over Mishandling Of Classified Documents; A Marine Vet Indicted In Subway Chokehold Death; White House Bans Some Transgender Activists Who Attended Pride Celebration; High Schoolers Help CNN Report On Arraignment. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired June 14, 2023 - 23:00   ET





And thank you for joining us. "CNN Tonight" with Alisyn Camerota starts right now. Alisyn?

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: I'm with him. There should be groundhog training when you must hold a groundhog. I agree with that.

PHILLIP: It's like holding a baby. Don't drop the baby.

CAMEROTA: Well, okay, a baby with very sharp teeth. I mean -- and fur. It's a little different.

PHILLIP: We should not be blaming the victim here. Charlotte was innocent. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Fair enough. Abby, thank you. Great to see you. Thanks so much. Good evening, everyone. I'm Alisyn Camerota. Welcome to "CNN Tonight."

So, what happens next in the classified documents case against Donald Trump? Will this case go to trial before the 2024 election or will voters decide Donald Trump's fate before jurors get a chance to? We will get some answers to those questions tonight.

Also, a New York grand jury indicting Marine veteran Daniel Penny on manslaughter charges in the New York City subway chokehold death of 30-year-old Jordan Neely. Our panel debates the strength of the evidence.

And we will show you how a group of Miami high school students helped CNN be the first news network to report on what went on inside the courtroom during Donald Trump's indictment. It was just a little old- fashioned ingenuity, some sprinting, and a payphone. That is all it took to get past the cellphone ban in the courtroom. And this hour, you will meet two of these intrepid young journalists.

Okay, but let's begin with what happens next in the classified documents case against Donald Trump. Let me introduce our panel. We have former assistant special Watergate prosecutor Nick Akerman. We have Republican strategist and former Senate candidate Joe Pinion. Pollster Lee Carter is here, and Jay Michaelson who clerked for Attorney General Merrick Garland. Also, in Miami, we have CNN's senior justice correspondent Evan Perez.

Okay, so, Evan, what happens next?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we can anticipate, Alisyn, that the former president's legal team is going to come in fighting. They are going to come in swinging at the Justice Department.

If any indication, if the former president's activity and his comments in the last couple of days is any indication, you can bet that they are go in and start litigating and start fighting against what they believe the Justice Department has done here that they believe is unfair, including, of course, some of the key evidence.

Evan Corcoran, in his notes, that stuff was cleared obviously by a judge in Washington, but this is an entire different court district here and they are going to try to go to a court here and try to see if they can get that taken out of the evidence in this case.

The other thing that will happen soon is -- well, first of all, the former president needs to finalize his legal team, right? He needs to hire new lawyers who can -- who can represent him here in this court. But they're going to ask for discovery. They are going to need to get all of the evidence that the Justice Department says will prove their case.

And, of course, one of the biggest things that is going to happen is trying to get security clearance so they can see some of these national security documents that are, of course, are classified, all of which, of course, is what this case is about.

The big question, though, is, can this case go to trial before the 2024 election? We talked to people who operate out of this court and who know obviously the complications of cases like this. They have a lot of doubts that the legal team will be able to prepare and will be able to get to trial before the election. We may be looking at something, you know, late into 2024 before this goes to trial. And so that means that the American voters may get a say before a jury here in South Florida.

CAMEROTA: Okay, Evan, we are going to try to get some answers to that right now. Thank you for setting it all up for us.

Okay, Nick, let me turn to you. Are you of the opinion, as we have heard from several legal experts this week, that it cannot go to trial before the 2024 election because it will -- basically, Donald Trump's team will slow roll it and will be successful in doing that?

NICK AKERMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: Oh, I don't see that that's necessarily so. If I were the prosecutor and I'm sure this is what they're going to do, they're going to get all that discovery out in the next couple of weeks. They are going to give him everything they can possibly give him at this point.

In terms of security clearances, they are going to make this super quick. Normally, it could take days. But this is going to take a couple of days for these people. Once they get the lawyers, they give them the security clearance, they are going to get that down.

They are going to go into the judge and say, look, we are open book, we are going to give him everything. It is going to be done in the next couple of weeks. They will have all they need. Judge set down a motion schedule, set down a trial date, and let's get this to trial in six months. That's what they ought to be doing.

CAMEROTA: So, realistically, this could be a trial in six months?


AKERMAN: Yes. This is a district that is on what is known as the rocket docket, which means that it goes to trial immediately. This is a very simple case. There are a number of witnesses. There is a tape. The legal issues that are really not that complicated.

This business about the attorney-client privilege, that is meant so that attorneys and clients can speak freely. It is not meant that you can use your attorney as a tool for a criminal enterprise.

The search warrant is going to be an issue. They have not yet seen, but they will get that search warrant very quickly. The other issue, severance, trying to get severance for Nauta.


AKERMAN: They will try and get certain statements taken out of evidence. But all of these things can be done pretty quickly. None of them are difficult.

CAMEROTA: Joe, you look skeptical.

JOE PINION, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, FORMER SENATE CANDIDATE: Well, look, again, far be it for me to question his legal expertise, but I will simply say that there are people who got arrested today for shoplifting at Center Street down here in New York who will not see a courtroom for a trial before the presidential election of 2024.

So yes, I think that that is the argument that the prosecution is going to make, that these are all simple matters. I don't think it is a simple matter to pierce a privilege for the former president of the United States of America.

I think that if they are going to take that extraordinary step, let the legal process to do so and making sure that we have explained it properly not just for the people in the courtroom but for the American people, is pretty darn important. So, yes, I think there are going be a lot of hiccups.

But more importantly, I think, also, as we have seen with other cases, even with the former senator from Alaska who had similar issues with corruption, that they are going to try to get robust discovery, as much discovery as possible.

Any time you try to accelerate the discovery process, there is the potential for things to fall through the cracks. If there is ever one case you don't want anything to fall through the cracks, it is going to be when you brought criminal charges against the former president of the United States for the first time in the history of this nation.

CAMEROTA: Lee, whether it is a year -- I mean, whether it is going to take a year and a half before the presidential election or whether six months, as Nick just said, what will this mean for the race which is now underway? What will it mean for the country for the next six months to a year?

LEE CARTER, POLLSTER: It is kind of mind-boggling, what it means, because really what we need to look at in this case is the GOP primary voters. The GOP primary voters are reacting to this not the way that you would expect them.

Fourteen percent of GOP primary voters view President Trump more favorably today than they did before he was indicted. Sixty-one percent say they have no change in opinion of him. Only seven percent see him worse today than he did before these charges were made. He is still far and away the number one candidate. That is not changing.

And then when you look at how Republicans are looking at this, it gets even more complicated. Seventy-six percent, according to recent polls, are saying that they believe this is purely politically-motivated. They don't believe that -- only 12% believe it represents a security threat to America. It is the complete opposite of how Democrats are viewing it.

So, it very well could be that Donald Trump gets through this unscathed, with more support than he had before this started.


JAY MICHAELSON, RABBI, WRITER FOR ROLLING STONE: Absolutely. I think if I could quibble with one word, it is the word "can," that this can be moved forward quickly. The real wildcard is Judge Cannon, Judge Aileen Cannon, the Trump-appointee, not just a Trump-appointee but someone who has already been overturned on the basis of showing too much partiality to President Trump -- former President Trump.

Judge Cannon needs to recuse herself from this case. That is what needs to happen. The question is whether the prosecution is going to move for it or not. The rules for recusal, the standards for recusal are whether it could look as though someone's partiality could be in question. Perception actually matters.

In this particular case, she was chosen randomly, luck of the draw. This could happen. This is how it happens. But in this case -- Joe can (INAUDIBLE) as much as he wants.


In this case, we have seen from this exact judge slow pedaling this exact case. So, when time is of the essence because justice delayed is justice denied, when the contact -- when the stakes are so high, this is exactly what the rules of recusal are there for.

CAMEROTA: Okay. Joe?

PINION: I would simply say that we've sat at this table a few times. Didn't hear you making those arguments about the last case that was faced by President Trump here in New York by a judge that by the eye of the beholder test arguably had some of the same conflict of interest. So, I just think --

MICHAELSON: In this case, not delaying this case --


-- special master when special master wasn't merited. Look, she has already done this. It is not just that she has some points of view or she had a crazy opinion on COVID, which he also did. But this particular case, she has already acted in a way that has been overturned by a conservative --

CAMEROTA: Hold on. Nick, you decide. Nick, yeah, go ahead.


AKERMAN: She did not slow roll this case. She did not do anything to delay this case. This case got indicted in a pretty fast manner. What she did was she granted him a motion to have a special master, and she screwed up. She was wrong. Judges get things wrong.

CAMEROTA: But does that show partiality?

AKERMAN: No. How does that -- you can't get somebody recuse because they just deny one motion for you, they didn't go along with you on a certain issue. That does not mean that she is impartial. She is a Republican Trump-appointee, sure, but look what the Trump appointees did with respect to the election issues. They denied all of them.

Go back to Watergate. Everybody was saying the U.S. Supreme Court was not going to order Richard Nixon to turn over his Oval Office tapes. What did they do? Ate the zip. One guy recused himself. Who was the judge that broke open the Watergate case? It was Judge Sirica.

CAMEROTA: It is a slightly different era now. I will just say that.

AKERMAN: It is, but you still have a judge who is well qualified to be a judge. She has an experience, and she's going to take a lot of work to get yourself up to speed. But the idea that she slow rolled this thing is not right.

CAMEROTA: We have to leave it there. I do like your optimism, Nick. Thank you very much for all of your different perspectives.

Okay, next, how many times have you already heard Republicans try to compare Donald Trump's mishandling of classified documents to Joe Biden's or Mike Pence's or Hillary Clinton's? These are not all the same. We are going to get a refresher on the facts next.




CAMEROTA: Attorney General Merrick Garland speaking out for the first time since the indictment of former President Donald Trump. Here's what he said about Special Counsel Jack Smith.


MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Mr. Smith is a veteran career prosecutor. He has assembled a group of experienced and talented prosecutors and agents who shared his commitment to integrity in the rule of law.


CAMEROTA: Donald Trump and his allies have been attacking Smith and making false comparisons about the investigation into the mishandling of classified documents, Donald Trump's versus that of Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton.

So here to set the record straight are CNN's chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst John Miller and chief legal analyst Laura Coates. Great to have both of you here tonight because there is this narrative that you are starting to hear all sorts of Republicans' echo, which is there are two different, you know, justice systems in this country.

And let's just put a rest to that, Laura. I mean, let's start at the beginning, okay, where some Republicans are trying to claim this is Joe Biden's doing, that Joe Biden has somehow indicted Donald Trump. So, here is what a group of Republicans have said already this week.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, we witnessed the most evil and heinous abuse of power in the history of our country. Very sad thing to watch. A corrupt sitting president had his top political opponent arrested on fake and fabricated charges.

REP. NANCY MACE (R-SC): Joe Biden wants to give Donald Trump a death sentence for documents.

UNKNOWN: We are seeing for the first time in American history, Brian, a sitting president of the United States try to throw his opponent into jail.

UNKNOWN: With this unprecedented, unprecedented indictment, the Biden administration is crossing the Rubicon into despotism. Biden's Justice Department has a track record of targeting anyone Biden thinks is a political opponent.


CAMEROTA: Okay. Laura, can you help clear this up? Is there any evidence that President Biden was involved in this?

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST AND SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: No. I mean, he is the person who appointed the attorney general of the United States, of course, Attorney General Merrick Garland, with a special counsel statute, Alisyn, that actually gives the power to Jack Smith, precisely because they anticipated this very talking point, because the attorney general serves at the pleasure of the president of the United States, which is not the same thing as career prosecutors who are there regardless of who is actually in office as a political appointee who do the bulk of the work and do not dictate either the priorities or anything else.

It is Jack Smith who has the authority under this counsel statute in order to make the prosecutorial decisions. Now, he has to give a report, of course, to Merrick Garland. And Merrick Garland, if he should decide to disagree with what Jack Smith is doing or deciding not to do, he then can go to Congress, but it is really disingenuous and, in fact, false to suggest that this is somehow Attorney General Merrick Garland who is at the helm.

CAMEROTA: Furthermore, John, isn't it a jury of Donald Trump, a grand jury of something like 23 people, who actually decided on this indictment?

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: That is right. It is a sitting federal grand jury of 23 people from Palm Beach County where Donald Trump is reasonably popular who heard the evidence presented by the special counsel and then voted for these indictments.

CAMEROTA: Okay. Now, let's move on to something else that we are hearing, Laura and John, and that is, why didn't they not do this, why didn't they prosecute Hillary Clinton with her emails? And, of course, there are significant differences, but here's what we have heard from some Republicans.


UNKNOWN: I'm worried about Joe Biden on misuse of classified information. I think we should treat all these cases exactly the same.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I think it is not appropriate, but it wasn't appropriate for Hillary Clinton to do what she did, Biden to have documents on the garage floor.


CAMEROTA: Okay. So, they are actually saying Joe Biden had classified documents. Hillary Clinton did as well. They mishandled them. That part is true, but John, what part is not comparable?

MILLER: Well, so, there are some key differences here. I mean, Biden or Vice President Pence when, you know, this all came up, they were asked to look for documents, they sent people to look, when they found them, they called the FBI, the FBI then did a search in Biden's summer home.


I mean, there was no allegation anywhere of hiding, obstruction, of moving things around. So, those are kind of simple cases. What you're looking for your intent.

The Hillary Clinton discussion is more actually noteworthy and more complicated. So, here is the differences. In Hillary Clinton's case, she was using a private email server presumably because she wanted to avoid the Freedom of Information Act and personal information and communications coming out, but she also conducted a lot of State Department business there. After going through 30,000 emails, the FBI found 52 email chains.

CAMEROTA: And to be clear, let me just stop you there because one of the things you hear Donald Trump says a lot is she deleted 30,000 emails. They were actually retrieved by the FBI. Whatever she had deleted before or during being subpoena, they were able to get, correct?

MILLER: Yes. There's a little irony here which is the allegation is that she deleted them. Actually, a law firm she was using deleted them saying, we thought this was all personal stuff and most of it was recovered.

The differences, and this is an important distinction, number one, she should not have had those emails on a private server. Number two, classified stuff should not be in unsecured storage. But she was the sitting secretary of state. So, first, she was entitled to the classified information, but mishandled it.

In the Donald Trump case, the charge is that he gathered this when he was not entitled to it as he was leaving office with the intent of keeping it, storing it, that he was showing it to people without clearances, that he was storing it in public areas of a public facility.

And that the key is when they came looking for it the first time, the second time and third time with a search warrant, there is evidence laid out in the indictment about obstruction, hiding, Walt Nauta moving boxes around to hid it, A, from the government, and B, from his own lawyers who he thought would turn this over to the government in accordance with the law. That is a big difference.

COATES: It is important to think about, the bulk of this indictment is about the willful retention, but it is also about the obstruction, the obstruction to avoid a federal grand jury, a conspiracy to move documents. It all comes down to whether it was inadvertent or intentional.

This indictment lays out intentional actions and about somebody who no longer ought to have the keys to the castle, who try to get back in and retain the same clearances he no longer had. That is the core of this. That is what they will have to prove in a court of law. And so far, a grand jury has said there is probable cause enough right now. Very different to what has been found in Hillary Clinton. And, of course, we are still waiting on the Biden conclusion.

CAMEROTA: Okay. Thank you both very much for helping inject facts into this narrative. Really appreciate it.

Okay, new tonight, the Marine veteran who held a homeless man in a fatal chokehold on a New York City subway is indicted by a grand jury. What evidence did the jury see? That is next.




CAMEROTA: A Manhattan grand jury has indicted Daniel Penny on second- degree manslaughter charges. He is the former Marine who held Jordan Neely in a fatal chokehold on the New York City subway last month, which, of course, was caught on cellphone video as you can see here.

I'm back with my panel, Nick, Joe, and Jay. We are also joined by Jessica Washington, a senior reporter at "The Root." Great to have you here.

So, Nick, what do you think the grand jury must have seen in order to reach this charge of second-degree manslaughter?

AKERMAN: Well, they had to go by the charge, the standard charge, on second-degree manslaughter, which means, did he act recklessly? And let me just read to you, it is a very simple charge.

A person acts recklessly with respect to a death when that person engages in conduct which creates or contributes to a substantial and unjustifiable risk that another person's death will occur, and when he or she is aware of and consciously disregards that risk, and when that risk is of such nature and degree that disregard of it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.

So, it is a very fact-specific circumstance and it is very hard for us to second guess that here without hearing from each of the people that was on that subway car at that time as to what happened, what they perceived, what they thought he was doing, was it reasonable, did this individual that died, did he try and come up for air, did he seem really a danger to people?

This is a tough one. And the grand jury must have heard enough evidence for them to conclude that the charge was adequate under the standard. The question is, can they prove it beyond a reasonable doubt?

CAMEROTA: Jessica, you are saying that you think the fact that he is a former Marine works against him in this case?

JESSICA WASHINGTON, SENIOR REPORTER, THE ROOT: Yes. I spoke to a former San Francisco prosecutor, Paul Henderson, about this. One thing he brought up is that this is someone who would have known what lethal force is. So, when he was engaging in this chokehold which ultimately ended in Neely's death, he would have potentially been aware that this had the potential to be lethal. So, I do think that could work against him in this case.

CAMEROTA: And Jay, I feel like we heard what Jordan Neely's family's lawyers will be using, the argument that they will be using because they put out a statement today after the indictment. Here is what they said. I think that this is the point they will be making in court. Bottom line, at some point, Mr. Penny should have let go before Jordan died.


There is no excuse for choking anyone for long. Any reasonable person knows choking someone for that long will kill them.

MICHAELSON: Yeah, it is a really powerful statement. I think, you know, there are plenty of good reasons to have misgivings about our justice system. That being said, this is the system working. Right? This indictment was clearly justified because it does include all of the charges. This is not a conviction, this is not a murder conviction, it is not specifically about the elements that need to be proven in a murder case.

And, you know, exactly as Nick just said, there are a lot of -- this is a very fact-specific situation. Hopefully, we can use it as an example as to how to kind of keep our heads a little bit on the cooler side, not rushing to judgment. This is obviously incredibly fraught. It is also very political.

And, you know, as someone who rides the subway all the time in New York City, you know, we can appreciate sort of the fears that people have of being both in contact with people that might cause them harm and in contact with would be vigilantes. You can sort of see it from both sides if we practice a little bit of empathy in this case.


PINION: Look, I think this is a reasonable conclusion to what was an unreasonable amount of hyperbolic rhetoric. I think that it was always reasonable to ask the question, did he use that chokehold for a period of time longer than necessary? At what point was Mr. Nearly unresponsive? And should he have known, given his previous experience, that leaving him in that hold for such a period of time would result in his death?

I think that he is going to have due process. He is going to have a jury of his peers go through all the facts and come to that finding. I think it is sad that a young man is dead. It is sad that a man who raised his hand to serve this country finds himself in this position.

I think that is something that we should all be able to agree upon and hopefully, to your point, moving forward, cooler heads will prevail, we will be able to look at situations through a dispassionate eye --

CAMEROTA: Yeah. PINION: -- to get to the justice the people deserve.

CAMEROTA: And we will see what evidence is presented during trial. Thank you all very much for your perspective on that.

Next, some transgender activists now banned from the White House. We will show you what they did and discuss why the White House is so upset.




CAMEROTA: The White House has banned some transgender activists after they took off their shirts at a pride event at the White House. CNN White House correspondent Jeremy Diamond has the story. So, Jeremy, what happened?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, the White House is condemning the behavior of a transgender activist who attended the White House's pride celebration this past weekend.

It all began when Rose Montoya, a transgender activist and model, attended a pride celebration on the White House grounds, it was happening on the south lawn of the White House, and she removed her top at one moment with the White House behind her, filming a video of her standing alongside two other individuals who are also shirtless, and then posted that video to social media.

An uproar ensued and the White House press secretary just yesterday condemning that behavior as simply unacceptable.


KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: That type of behavior is, as I said, unacceptable, it is not appropriate, it is disrespectful. And let's not -- it really does not reflect the event that we hosted to celebrate the LGBTQ plus families. Again, hundreds of families who were here to celebrate their community and who were here in attendance. So, look, individuals in the video certainly will not be invited to future events.


DIAMOND: And Alisyn, Montoya actually met President Biden at that very event at the White House. She posted their interaction on social media as well. Now, she has since said that she did not intend to be vulgar or profane, calling it instead an act of joy. Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: Okay. Jeremy Diamond, thank you very much. I am back with Lee, Joe, Jessica, and Jay. Okay, does anybody here think it is not inappropriate to take off your shirt at the White House? I mean, do we all agree with the White House's stance on this or no?

MICHAELSON: So, I'm going to go out on a limb that expect me to go out on --


-- and say yes, but. So, this clearly was inappropriate. The White House is correct. However, we need to understand what this act was. For trans people, transwomen and transmen, to be proud and comfortable in their bodies, is an act of joy, it is an act of pride and an act of celebration. I'm not defending this particular action. There is a time and a place for everything. The south lawn of the White House is not a right place.

However, we should understand, first, that this is an extremely powerful moment for trans friends of mine, for the trans community in general. Imagine feeling that you don't belong in your own body. Imagine experiencing gender dysphoria. Imagine finally feeling comfortable enough to show your body in this way to the world, to your video, to your followers on Instagram.

This is an extremely profound and powerful moment. Again, inappropriate but it is not girls gone wild on Miami Beach. This was a moment of pride.

Second, I don't want this to distract from what is really happening, which is tragic war on trans people in this country. A new study just came out that said 41% of LGBTQ young people between the ages of 13 and 22 have seriously considered suicide in the last year. That number is even higher for transgender people.

So, while this was a misguided act of celebration, it was one in the context of a community that is under siege right now.


PINION: So, I think, factually, that is pretty accurate. I think most Republicans that I know would agree that trans people do have to live in fear.


Most people who are Republican, who are conservative believe you should be able to love who you want to love, define yourself on your own terms. That is a thing that most people agree with.

The problem is when you have displays like this, it leans into the most extreme concerns and fears of people. Certainly, there are people who are bigoted, who have always used the urge to protect the children or to follow the faith, to justify some of the darkest chapters in American history. That in and of itself does not dismiss the reality that there are things happening in the name of some of these extreme acts that people find troubling.

So, I think we should be able to find common ground if we did not become captive of the most extreme elements to say look, we should be able to get together, hold hands and say you can live your life the define yourself on your own terms. But yes, there are legitimate concerns about things that being presented to children. There are legitimate concerns about what has become normalized, this moving of the Overton window that allows what we just saw at the White House, on the lawn of the people's house to occur.

CAMEROTA: It is interesting. When I watched the video, I thought that it was going to be for provocative reasons or attention-getting. But it didn't just seem celebratory, actually. And then it wasn't live and it wasn't in front of the president. They were just making a video of themselves and it took her two days to post it, then on her own Instagram. So, it was a little different than what I was expecting when I just heard the headline of this.

WASHINGTON: Yeah. I mean, look, it did seem like celebratory. It did seem like something you expect at a party, meaning more like a house party in the Hamptons than you would expect at the White House. So, there is some inappropriate timing for this.

I think it is a really unfortunate distraction because whether it feels like it or not, and the facts you are talking about, the statistics are really troubling, to know there is that much -- you know, that much pain, that much suffering, that much fear among a certain population.

But I think there is a lot of misunderstanding here because 35% of Republicans actually do want to fight for more rights for the people. What they do want to do is also protect children. So that all is getting put together into one big transphobic argument that is unfortunately unable to be parsed. We are not able to have dialogue in discussion about really what is going on.

I think that is the sad reality. You see something like this. People react emotionally, viscerally. And we can't talk about really substantive issues that matter. Let's talk about the mental health issues, let's talk about the fear, let's talk about everything about how we can treat people better, equally. And most Republicans, they don't want the government involved in these decisions.

CAMEROTA: Jessica?

WASHINGTON: I think one thing that concerns me is this idea that people who are oppressed have to be perfect 24/7. Every member of that group has to be perfect or we are going to be completely sidetracked and we can't fight for the things that you are talking about.

The mental health issues that are going on in this community, the fact that there is all out war on the existence of trans kids and trans adults, and the fact that we are so easily able to loop this all into one conversation is really troubling. It is a respectability politics that every oppressed and marginalized group has had to deal with.

PINION: I would just simply say that I do not think that that is actually what is occurring. I think that certainly, again, there are loud voices out there that are trying to marginalize trans people and gay people. They have already existed, always existed. Right? There are more people willing to talk about broken glass in Memphis than there were to talk about men walking around with placards saying, I am a man. So yes, that element has existed. We should push back against those elements.

But there is a reason why Gallup came out with a poll that said that we had an increase of nearly 12% of conservatives over the last two years, people who self-identify as conservatives. It is because some of these extreme elements, some of these things that people do not consider part of the mainstream activities they want their children to be experiencing, have either been outright ignored or tossed away or pushed aside and said, what is wrong with that?

I think that is why we see some of these behaviors that are becoming a flashpoint for people who don't necessarily agree.

MICHAELSON: Can you give one specific example? What is something that shouldn't be there that is happening?

PINION: Well, we -- look, we don't have another seven minutes but certainly, we have seen books put in libraries that people don't think are age-appropriate. We have seen drag time story hours for children that people don't think are age-appropriate.

We have seen, even here, whether we are talking about New York State where there have been -- again, the article written by "The New York Times" about, is it appropriate to have teachers, based on policy from the Department of Education, to actually conceal children's desire to identify as a different gender from the parents?

I don't think it is the role of government to keep secrets some parents. These are real conversations that are happening. So, I think, again, to Lee's point, yes, we should be able to have a robust conversation about these issues and denying their existence prevents us from actually protecting --

MICHAELSON: I think if we had the seven minutes, I could go into each of those three examples.

CAMEROTA: I agree. And we had in the past -- by the way, I believe we actually have had this conversation when we had more time on this specifically. But I also would say that while it is a salacious sounding headline and, obviously, I think that there is some agreement that there is something inappropriate at the White House, we were able to have a conversation about something deeper right now.


So, thank you all very much for all those perspectives. Up next, no cellphones or computers were allowed in court during Trump's arraignment. So, how did CNN get the information out to the world first? We used some intrepid high schoolers, and they're here to explain right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CAMEROTA: CNN was the first to report on former President Trump pleading not guilty yesterday. Btu how CNN got that information out for the public is also interesting.


It involved a team of high school students and some smart maneuvering from CNN crime and justice producer Hannah Rabinowitz and CNN senior justice correspondent Evan Perez.

They both join me now along with Lucas Hudson and Lucas Anson, two high school students who helped CNN get the breaking news on the air. Great to see all of you. I can't wait to hear how you did this relay race. I know it involved a payphone, which I'm sure the high school students have never used or seen before.

But Evan, let me start with you. So, you and your team had a plan, of course, for covering the arraignment, but then, suddenly, you had to change course. So, what happened?

PEREZ: Yes, that is right, Alisyn. Late at night, we got an order from the chief judge in the courthouse behind us, and she was banning all use of electronics by reporters in that building. That meant we couldn't have our laptops in the overflow room where we could send out the headlines from what was happening inside the courthouse. And so, we were having to scramble.

Luckily, another member of our team had, you know, done a walkthrough of the building, just trying to figure out if there were any possible problems that could come up, and she saw that there were some payphones in the building. She even picked one up and saw that one of them had a dial tone.

So, we sort of put that in the back of our heads. Then Noah Gray (ph), who is running the field team here, had brought these guys over from Palmetto Senior High School to do basic things like stand in line for us to be able to get into the courthouse in the morning. So, we have to activate quickly our plan B and plan C for how we were going to be able to report the news from inside the courthouse there.

CAMEROTA: Okay. So, let's talk about that because finding out at that late hour that there is no electronics, that is quite a wrench in the works there. So, Hannah, let's start with your part of the story. So, you were inside the court's overflow room and you are gathering the information in real time, and then how were you getting in to Lucas and what happened next?

HANNAH RABINOWITZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE PRODUCER: Yes, so we knew that there were major points in the hearing that we were going to want to go outside as fast as possible, things like when the former president enter the courtroom, when the hearing started, and when he pleaded not guilty. So, we were able to pre-write some of those on pieces of paper that I had ripped out of my notebook. We also wrote others that happened in real time as fast as possible, ripped them out of my notebook, and handed them to Lucas, who then ran them around the building to the other Lucas waiting by a payphone, and he transmitted it outside to our team on the ground.

CAMEROTA: Okay. So, Lucas Anson, how scared were you that you were going to screw up or fall down or a trip or something?

LUCAS ANSON, HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: Oh, you don't even know the half of it. I was terrified, but I did my best. I made sure that there was no obstruction in my path as I was basically sprinting to get the news as fast I could to the other Lucas.


CAMEROTA: Okay. So, Lucas Hudson, you -- Lucas Anson would hand off the note to you, and then what did you do, Lucas Hudson?

LUCAS HUDSON, HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: Yes. So, I -- if somebody was already at the phones, I would try to wait, but make my presence known to them like, hey, get it off the phone, I got something.


And then I would dial my own phone number because my phone -- there were no electronics allowed in the courthouse so my phone was in our RV in a nearby parking lot where a producer, Brad (ph), he would pick it up. And then I would start talking too fast on what was written down on the paper. He would tell me to slow down. I would say it again. And then he would relay the information to the editors. And eventually, it would end up on the screen.

And I was just there really hoping that I did not screw up because I was -- on my left was someone from Reuters. On the other side of me was someone from the "AP." I was just like, oh, I don't really know what I'm doing, but I'm here.


CAMEROTA: Now, Lucas Hudson, seriously, had you ever used a payphone before?

HUDSON: I had not used a payphone. That was my first time using a payphone. But I did not have to put any quarters in it. They were free.


CAMEROTA: That is so incredible.

RABINOWITZ: And we were really lucky to have someone like Evan who did know how to use a payphone, and he sort of taught all of us.

CAMEROTA: Now, Hannah, why --

PEREZ: I think what Hannah is trying to say, I'm the old guy.

CAMEROTA: I got that.


But Hannah, why did we need an RV in the middle of all of this?

RABINOWITZ: It's sort of was acting as our editorial center. There was a lot going on here on the ground yesterday. It had air conditioning, it had outlets so we could charge our phones, and it allowed our team here to talk to our editors back in Washington. It also gave us sort of a safe secondary location in case things got a little bit out of hand.

CAMEROTA: So, Evan, as the reporter who is going to break this news to the world, how nervous were you that somewhere along this relay race, it was going to get screwed up?


PEREZ: You know, you can devise the best system. And, you know, I met these guys and I knew they were going to be diligent. I think, you know, you trust your team in there. Hannah was in there. She is, you know, frankly, a rock star on our team. She works at the federal courthouse in Washington. She has that place wired. And so, I knew that she was going to devise a system that was just not going to be, you know, would not fail us.

So, that is really -- you know, you have to trust the team that you build. You know, frankly, having these guys -- Noah (ph) had gotten them from the high school where he went to, so I knew that he had built a good team himself.

CAMEROTA: Well, it sure looks like it. It worked. It worked against all odds. We have a picture of Hannah with the high schoolers who made this happen and helped us break the first and break the news, and I hope you guys -- this was a great lesson for you in how a news organization operates. Thanks so much for all of your help. It is great to talk to both of you Lucases. And Hannah and Evan, thank so much for explaining all of that to us. Great to see you, guys.

HUDSON: Thank you so much.

CAMEROTA: Okay. Tomorrow on "CNN This Morning," an Arizona mom who was targeted with a terrifying A.I. kidnapping call about her daughter is going to join live to share her story and her warning to others. So that all starts at 6:00 a.m. Eastern. Tune in for that.

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