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CNN Tonight

SCOTUS Guts Affirmative Action In College Admissions; Source Says, Senior Trump Campaign Official Shown Classified Map By Trump At His New Jersey Golf Club After He Left Office; Former Trump Campaign Official Now Cooperating With Special Counsel On The 2020 Election Interference Probe; Former Arizona House Speaker On Pressuring Donald Trump And Rudy Giuliani To Overturn Election Results; Parkland School Resource Officer Finds Not Guilty On Negligence And Perjury During The Mass Shooting Incident. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired June 29, 2023 - 22:00   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. I'm Alisyn Camerota. Welcome to CNN TONIGHT on a big news night, the Supreme Court handing down a decision that's being described as a generational shift that will alter the way colleges and universities have operated for decades.

The conservative majority court overturned affirmative action, the longstanding precedent designed to help level the playing field for black and Hispanic students. Tonight, we'll speak to lawyers and students directly involved in this landmark decision. Plus, another member of Donald Trump's inner circle is talking to the

special counsel's investigators. Sources tell CNN that Susie Wiles, a top campaign aide, was shown a classified map relating to a military operation by Trump during a meeting at Bedminster in the summer of 2021.

This is yet another incident of Trump showing off secret information separate and apart from that damning audio tape that CNN obtained.

We're also learning another former Trump campaign official is cooperating with the special counsel, so we have much more on that ahead.

And a stunning verdict in the trial of Scott Peterson, he's the ex school resource officer who stayed outside during the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, Florida. 17 people died that day, including 14 students.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We, the jury, find as follows as to the defendant in this case, the defendant is not guilty. So, say we all this 29th day of June, 2023, at Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, Florida.


CAMEROTA: Okay, we will be covering that story later in the program, but let's begin with the Supreme Court's landmark decision on affirmative action, ruling that colleges and universities can no longer take race into consideration for granting admission.

Here to help us understand stand what this means for students, for colleges, for the country, our Chief Legal Analyst Laura Coates. Laura, great to see you.

So, how will this -- let's start with college admissions, okay? How will this change college admissions?

LAURA COATES, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, remember, in a series of cases, we already knew, there could not be quotas, there could not be the so called factor that you would assign to race in the overall application and admission process. The real question for the court now is whether race could be considered part of a holistic review of an application, akin to what you do for, say, a cellist or maybe an athlete or a legacy student or a donor's child or perhaps a veteran, any number of factors.

What the court decided today was that, no, you cannot use race as a part of even a holistic process. They believe in the majority, the 14th Amendment says, we do not want to look at race at all as either a detriment or an advantage. We should be kind of a colorblind society as it relates to race.

Now, we can all quibble about whether that, in fact, is a genuine argument or disingenuous, but the majority holding found just that. And as a result, they're saying you cannot use race as a factor.

But of course, Alisyn, the issue here is that there is a line in the holding that says, this does not mean that you cannot accept or have a student who's discussing race, and I'm paraphrasing here in, say, a college admissions essay.

So, now it creates quite the conundrum. As an admissions officer, I can't look at race, but yet a student might be able to describe one's identity, one's experience as a member of a particular race. Am I to throw away that application in some form or fashion or disregard that particular aspect of it, or what shall I do?

The dissent, of course, gave a very fiery response about the fact that they do not believe we are in a colorblind or race blind society and that it is a means of course correction that still very much is needed.

CAMEROTA: I find the college essay component to this, as you described, still confused using, having had two seniors who've just gone through this. The college essay is about your lived experience, or it's supposed to be, to shed light on who you really are beyond your test scores.

And so what Justice Roberts said about it, I'll just read it to everyone, he says, nothing in this opinion should be construed as prohibiting universities from considering an applicant's discussion of how race affected his or her life, be it through discrimination, inspiration or otherwise. But despite the dissent's assertion to the contrary, universities may

not simply establish through application essays or other means the regime we hold unlawful today. What cannot be done directly cannot be done indirectly.

It is confusing, Laura.

COATES: It can be. And you will think about, how do I really actually carry this out without either offending the ruling or the Constitution, as the majority is holding here. But, remember, when people are talking about affirmative action, there seems to be a very growing trend where people are talking about one thing or another, but never quite how affirmative action actually worked, something the president of the United States actually alluded to today in his own speech.

It's not that you begin with race of an applicant and then decide whether they're qualified at that moment. It's about the qualifications of the actual applicant, whether they are already otherwise qualified on a merit-based and albeit subjective set of criterion.


And then race is often used in terms of the admissions process, as it was articulated in the arguments before the court, in briefings and amicus briefs and beyond, as a way of looking at similarly, perhaps situated students or those who have maybe similar test scores, particularly similar geographic reasons or other things, and then to what extent one applicant can contribute to the admissions criteria vision of the campus versus the other. That's usually how it's been looked at.

And so this notion that race is the predominant and driving factor to decide who is first qualified is actually not an accurate assessment. But even so, the Supreme Court has said race cannot be a part of the admissions criteria and factor, and that is going to lead to some uncertainty.

But more likely, Alisyn, a lot of litigation now about whether it's being followed by individual schools, probably the reason President Biden's administration now wants to provide some kind of guidance ahead of an upcoming fall semester.

CAMEROTA: Okay. We're going to get into those very issues right now, Laura. Thank you very much.

Let's bring in Harvard Law professor Randall Kennedy. He's the author of For Discrimination, Race, Affirmative Action and the Law, also former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Harry Litman. Great to see both of you gentlemen.

Okay, Professor, put this in practical terms for us. What does this mean for Harvard? How will it change Harvard's admission process?

RANDALL KENNEDY, PROFESSOR, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: Well, it will certainly prompt Harvard to be more limited in what Harvard been doing and what all the universities, all selective universities, have been doing with affirmative action. It's clear that the court has cut back on the -- or, in fact, dismantled, invalidated the so called diversity rationale for affirmative action.

But as you and your colleagues at the outset of the program, after that, the opinion is rather opaque. It's very unclear as to the extent to which race can be taken into account. In the last two paragraphs of the court's opinion, it said expressly that race can, in fact, be taken into account.

It seems that it's going to be very -- you have to take into account in a very limited way or retail way, a way that is directly limited to a particular applicant. But it seems to me that there's plenty of room in this opinion to still take race into account.

CAMEROTA: Okay. Harry, I want to talk about the dissenting opinions because they have been described today as scathing. I'll read one of them. It's from Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson with, let them eat cake obliviousness, today the majority pulls the rip cord and announces colorblindness for all by legal fiat. That's her dissent in the UNC case, quote, but deeming race irrelevant in law does not make it so in life. Is that level of dissent unusual?

HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Oh, for sure. And she didn't read her dissent from the bench, but the other one, Sotomayor, did, as did Roberts. But you get to the core there, Alisyn, because last year's blockbuster decision, also a wrecking ball that demolishes many years of precedent, was a fight about the meaning of a single case. This revealed a divide not just about the meaning of the law, not just about the meaning of a case, but about worldviews.

And so the ultimate criticism that the dissent is leveling is you do not understand the world. Your sort of blithe principle that the way to end discrimination is ending all racial discrimination is superficial, in a word. And you have to take inequality into account in order to achieve equality. And that position, as the professor says, is going to be -- and Laura is going to be litigated in fine grain for years, probably. And to the extent the court has the suggestion that we've put an end

to this, it will find it very much otherwise, I think.

CAMEROTA: So, Professor, as you well know, one of the precedents for affirmative action standing was this 2003 case Grutter versus Bollinger, in which the Supreme Court ruled that colleges could consider race to achieve educational diversity. And writing from the majority in that case, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said she expected, quote, 25 years from now, meaning the year 2028, that use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary, end quote. So, of course, that has not happened yet.

So, did affirmative action work at Harvard the way it was intended and beyond?

[22:10:00] KENNEDY: I think affirmative action has been working in the sense that it has helped to desegregate the upper echelons of American society, including selective universities. I think affirmative action, to a very large extent, has been a positive force in American life and a success story in American life. And I think that's one of the reasons why many people are very disappointed, very angry, in fact, at what the Supreme Court has done.

CAMEROTA: Harry, I know you just alluded to this, but in the minutes that we have left, can you just explain how this is going to put colleges and universities into this legal quagmire?

LITMAN: Yes. I mean, the truth is we don't know. But that little excerpt you read at the end, Alisyn, you're going to have now a cottage industry. It's ironic of people writing essays stressing the unidimensional racial identity with the exact thing the court doesn't want, but any manner of strategies (ph), because the bottom line, Harvard and selective universities cannot return, will not return to a 1950s sort of Ozzy and Harriet world, that they will do what is necessary to make that not happen.

CAMEROTA: Professor Randall Kennedy, Harry Litman, thank you both very much for your expertise.

LITMAN: Thank you. Thank you, Professor.

KENNEDY: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Next, I'll speak with two students involved in today's decision who disagree on whether affirmative action helped or hurt them.



CAMEROTA: The Supreme Court today rejecting race-based affirmative action in college admissions, so let's talk to students on both sides of this issue. First, we have Madison Trice. She is a Harvard graduate who testified in the Harvard admissions case. Madison, thanks so much for being here.

I know how incredibly personal this decision is to you because you testified at trial about your experience of being a black student at Harvard. So, tell us your reaction to the decision.

MADISON TRICE, HARVARD GRADUATE WHO TESTIFIED IN HARVARD ADMISSIONS CASE: First of all, thank you so much for having me. I was talking to a family member today about how I've had about five years to prepare for this decision with the expectation that it would come down this way. And I'm still so sad. I'm still pretty heartbroken about it.

When I think about the ways that my experience would have been limited had I not had the opportunity to be around a diverse student body, when I think about the losses that future black and brown students will face looking forward, it's just pretty heartbreaking to me. CAMEROTA: Yes. Let me try to share with you some of Justice Clarence Thomas' logic in doing it. He said he wanted to end affirmative action and he wrote for the majority opinion that today's youth, quote, should not shoulder the moral debts of their ancestors. He also said that racialism simply cannot be undone by different or more racialism.

So, what do you think of his logic?

TRICE: I think that logic is, at a very basic level, disingenuous. And I think that he's aware of that because he's made it his mission to dismantle affirmative action or holistic admissions for quite some time. But I know personally that it is not racialism, it is not additional discrimination.

The way that the school I attended was allowed to consider my race was actually a proxy for considering the discrimination and oppression that I had faced on my way to Harvard. I know that there was a lot of additional labor that I had to do, whether it was in terms of reinventing the wheel and teaching myself certain things that other students were learning by being in all white study groups or trying to uplift different ways of learning and tutoring younger students so that they wouldn't have to go through what I went through to ensure that they would have opportunities, particularly black and brown students at my high school, or even just the struggles of trying to convince teachers to allow me to hold clubs or to allow me to partake in certain opportunities that I was denied and non-black students were not denied.

All of those things happened to me. And on top of that, I know that I had to balance the concurrent responsibilities of being one of the only black students in my classes a lot of the time and representing my whole community and being held to task for that.

And in doing all of that, I still had to get grades that were good enough for Harvard to see me. Being able to consider my race and my story is how I believe Harvard was able to see me without overlooking me. And I think any judgment that does not take that into account is pretty thinly veiled as an attempt to ensure that there is less diversity in college campuses.

CAMEROTA: Well, that's all really interesting to hear, Madison, because we're about to speak to a student from the group that launched this lawsuit, and he says that Asian-Americans were denied admission to Harvard. As you know, though, they had stellar grades as well, simply because they checked the box that said Asian. So, what do you say to the people who believe that Asian students have gotten the raw end of affirmative action?

TRICE: I think that my perspective would be that Asian-Americans are also students of color. They're not exempt from discrimination. Being able to check a box that says, hey, this is my race, allows you to imply that you've experienced racial discrimination for that experience, allows people to take into account ways that other people might have been biased towards you with regards to your background, whether that was in the interview process or in terms of teachers and administrators. And Asian-American students also benefit from affirmative action, also benefit from holistic admissions. And it's been demonstrated that certain Asian-American student groups will actually see a decrease in rates of attendance under groups that are already underrepresented if they don't have the opportunity to articulate the fullness of their story.

Mostly, though, I can speak to my experience and say that I know it was important for the diversity of the student body.

CAMEROTA: And you've done that tonight. Madison Trice, thank you very much for sharing your reactions to this, as we said, very personal decision for you. We appreciate you being here.

TRICE: Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.

CAMEROTA: Okay. Now let's go to Calvin Yang. He's the member of the Students for Fair admissions group that sued Harvard and UNC to end affirmative action.


Calvin, thanks so much for being here.

So, I know you just listened to that interview that we did. So, what is your response to the win for your group today?

CALVIN YANG, MEMBER, STUDENTS FOR FAIR ADMISSIONS: First of all, good evening, and thank you so much for having me, Alisyn. I think today's decision marks a pretty landmark win for the rights of Asian-Americans in this country. Because, for so long, I think there's this misconception associated with Asian-Americans that we're the model minority, that we work hard, keep our heads down, and do not really participate in a lot of actions concerning standing up for our own rights. So, today is a direct testament against that. And for that, I am both very relieved and very happy.

CAMEROTA: But what about what Madison was saying, basically, which is that, yes, Asian-Americans do represent people of color and a particular minority, and so do blacks? And, I mean, I think that her point was sort of that you should be on the same side, you should all be sort of fighting for the same thing, and that is to be seen and to have your life experience recognized in college admissions.

YANG: Well, if you look at the statistics here about affirmative action, it goes to show that, first of all, Asian applicants were routinely marked down because of arbitrary factors, like personality, likability and leadership, which has no quantifiable measure to measure those specific attributes.

And because of that, despite having average or higher than average ratings on all the other factors that Harvard looks at, Asian- Americans have a lower chance of getting into Harvard because of this.

So, in that sense, it goes to show that despite affirmative action being a very well intentioned idea, its execution in reality is rather poor.

CAMEROTA: But what about this stat, Calvin? So, part of your lawsuit, as you just said, was that Asian-Americans were being disadvantaged by affirmative action, but 28 percent of admitted students at Harvard in 2022 were Asian. That's up from 20 percent in 2013. So, how were they being disadvantaged?

YANG: Well, if you look at it this way, so Asian-Americans score ten -- Asian-American applicants tend to score higher on standardized testing than all the other ethnic groups and also on par in terms of extracurricular activities and all the other attributes that Harvard looks at in terms of assessing its applicants.

And that's why I think it's still understandable that there's a high percentage of Asian-American applicants and Asian-American students who end up enrolling at Harvard College.

But at the same time, Asian-Americans who have the grades, who, who meet the benchmark, the academic benchmark or extracurricular or all the other things that Harvard looks at, still get marked down because of personality.

So, again, it's an unfortunate reality, and I'm, again, very happy that today's ruling helped you address that.

CAMEROTA: So President Biden today said he's concerned that this ruling will make social and economic inequality worse. Can you be sure that it won't?

YANG: So, again, I think that moving on from today, policymakers from all across this country need to explore alternatives. Alternatives are both race-neutral but also factor in the nuanced situation that this country is facing, for example, racial inequality and income inequality.

For me, personally, I'm a strong believer and proponent of a socioeconomic based admission system where applicants, no matter where their ethnic group is, if they come from disadvantaged backgrounds, they should be given more of a boost at these elite colleges in terms of admissions.

So, in that way, I think, it definitely will help to even address a lot of the issues that the country is facing today.

CAMEROTA: Calvin Yang, thank you very much for your time tonight, really interesting to hear both perspectives on this landmark decision. Thanks for being here.

YANG: Thanks for having me.

CAMEROTA: Okay. More Trump insiders are speaking to investigators now. Who are they and what do they know? That's next.


[22:25:00] CAMEROTA: Several developments tonight in the legal cases facing Donald Trump. Sources tell CNN that a top Trump campaign aide has spoken multiple times to investigators looking into the mishandling of classified documents. And we're learning a former Trump campaign official is cooperating with the special counsel's investigation into 2020 election interference.

So, joining me now is CNN Senior Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid and CNN Legal Analyst Jennifer Rodgers. Ladies, great to see you.

Okay, Paula, let's start with the classified documents. So, tell us about this campaign aide, Susie Wiles.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: So, Susie Wiles is one of Trump's closest aide. She's effectively running his third campaign for the White House. And a source tells CNN that she is the representative of Trump's political action committee that the special counsel alleges he showed a classified map to.

Now, Alisyn, this is one of the most shocking things in the indictment that allegedly he showed a classified map to someone who worked for his PAC.

Now, of course, it's shocking that he would share classified documents with someone who doesn't have a clearance, but the other question that this raised is how did they know about this? Was this someone that in his inner circle who revealed this to investigators or do they know this from someone else?

Now, we know Wiles spoke with investigators multiple times. She was asked about it, but it's not clear she is the one who gave this information to prosecutors. We're told that the Trump team that they were blindsided by this news today, but as of now, there are no plans for Wiles to step back from her campaign role.

CAMEROTA: Okay, that's really interesting. Now, Paula, turn to the investigation into the 2020 election interference. Who is that former campaign official who we understand is cooperating with the special counsel?

REID: Well, Mike Roman is a campaign official who is now cooperating in the special counsel's investigation. It's interesting because we know he was subpoenaed. His cell phone was seized as part of the investigation into efforts to allegedly put forth a slate of fake electors.


That plot has been something that the investigators have really been focused on recently.

And Alisyn, this all comes as we've seen an uptick in activity in the January 6 investigation. We've seen a flurry of new witnesses, including Rudy Giuliani and some other high profile folks. So it does appear that Jack Smith could be reaching a charging decision on that case soon. CAMEROTA: Okay, Jen, as we say so often on this program, it's hard

sometimes to keep track of all of these, but not for you. Is there a pecking order of how these things will unfold? Which one should or will go first that we should be prepared for?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, not really. I mean, as you do an investigation, you tend to save the more important people for the end because you're gathering information that you're then going to use to question those people. So that, in a sense, is an order. But, you know, there's so many people working on this investigation, honestly, at the special counsel's office, that there are teams that are working on each of these plots, I think.

So it's not like in a normal case where you're having to prioritize, though. I think all of these strands, the fake electors, the pressure campaigns, you know, the fraud investigation about the campaign finance part of it. Like all of that I think is being done by separate teams. So it's all being done simultaneously.

CAMEROTA: And then there's also the Fulton County investigation into election interference. Do you have a sense of which one, if the federal charges or that one will go first?

RODGERS: Well, so we know the timing of Georgia more likely because they've said when the grand jury is sitting, right? So from some date in July until I think it's late August. So that's a little bit more likely to be in that window. What's really weird here is that DOJ didn't tell them to stand down way back in the day when they started investigating a year and a half ago. That would have been the more normal thing to do, but now that they've said go ahead, I think there's going to be a little bit of a dance here. Who's going to go first? What's that going to mean for scheduling and all of those things?

CAMEROTA: Okay. Paula, tell us what the grand jury in Florida is up to, because they already indicted former President Trump, as we know, for the mishandling of the classified documents. So what are they still working on?

REID: Well, it's not unusual for a grand jury to continue its work after charges have been filed. We know that there are a lot of outstanding threads in this investigation. For example, we know that investigators were asking about possible gaps in surveillance footage that they were given. Also still some outstanding questions about exactly how these classified materials were stored in Bedminster, New Jersey.

So, today, when our colleague Katelyn Polantz reported that this grand jury is still actively seeking information from witnesses, still investigating. It wasn't terribly surprising because it is still possible that they could bring additional charges against someone else or possibly a superseding indictment against former President Trump or his co-defendant, Walt Nauta.

CAMEROTA: Gaps in surveillance footage, Jen. That doesn't sound good. So the fact that they're still -- are you surprised that the grand jury is still working?

RODGERS: Well -- I'm not surprised if they're looking at indicting other people. It would be unusual for them to continue to build the case against the former president because once you indict, you're supposed to then get trial subpoenas, actually not grand jury subpoenas anymore. So I suspect it means that they're actually looking to indict other people with the gaps in surveillance footage. May have been some of the tech people who, you know, were supposed to be responsive to the subpoena, that sort of thing.

CAMEROTA: Sure, it could be anything. But I guess that they're trying to figure out what those mean.

OK, so Paula, in a different development, sources tell us that Biden's Iran envoy has been placed on-leave and his security clearance has been suspended for something so what do we know about this?

REID: That's right. This is reporting from our national security team but it's really interesting because he's been placed on leave without pay and this occurred after his security clearance was suspended earlier this year. There has been an ongoing investigation into the possible mishandling of classified information.

Now, earlier this year, the State Department apparently ramped up its investigation into this envoy and his handling of classified materials. And it's not clear exactly what led his clearance to be suspended. And there's no indication at this point that there's any criminal investigation here. But again, the possible handling of classified documents seems to be the theme of the past 18 months.

CAMEROTA: Yes, it does. What do you see here?

RODGERS: Well, of course, we don't know for sure. But I will say this. If you do something inadvertent, they don't, you know, suspend your security clearance and take you out of your position, right? So they're concerned about something. He mishandled in a way that may be intentional.

And, you know, it's a good thing, right? You don't want prosecutors to have to be the first instance of learning about something gone awry, right? It's good that the State Department and its investigators figured out something was going wrong here and took him out of that position if they think that he's a danger in that way.

CAMEROTA: Okay. Jennifer, Paula, thank you very much for helping us go through all of these developments.

Okay, next, Arizona's former house speaker is here. He was pressured by Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump to help overturn Biden's win in that state. We'll check in with him.



(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CAMEROTA: Sources tell CNN that special counsel investigators are now focusing on the plot to put forward slates of fake electors in seven states that Donald Trump lost in 2020. We're learning tonight that former Trump campaign official Mike Roman is cooperating with prosecutors in that probe. And according to "The New York Times," prosecutors have already asked Rudy Giuliani, Trump's former personal attorney, about the fake electors scheme.

So let's bring in former Republican Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, who was present by Giuliani and Trump to help overturn Biden's win in that state. Mr. Bowers, thanks so much for being here.


CAMEROTA: OK, so can you just remind? I mean, you were pressured by Rudy Giuliani and Trump, and now that this is coming to a head in terms of them, the investigators, having spoken to Rudy Giuliani, can you just remind us of what specifically they asked you to do?

BOWERS: Well, first they asked me for a special committee and I said to what end? And then the committee's job was to find sufficient to listen to all of the claims of fraud, et cetera, to have doubt.


And with that doubt, they could use this idea of plenary power for legislatures to throw out the Biden electors and put in Trump electors. That's what they were asking me to do.

CAMEROTA: So what do you think Rudy Giuliani will share with investigators about this?

BOWERS: I understand some of the things he said about our conversation, so I wouldn't know. It would be an interesting conversation that I'd love to hear.

CAMEROTA: So would we all. Yeah, but what has he shared about your conversation?

BOWERS: Well, I just remember he and Trump, I got the email just before testifying to the January 6th committee that I had said that, yes, the election was rigged and that he really won and yeah, yeah, yeah, and I, obviously that didn't happen. And I said so. And I've heard Giuliani had made similar statements about things, but he is more careful because he talked to a lot more people. In our state, I mean, a lot of people in the same time in meetings with me. So it will be interesting and I just hope he tells the truth. That'd be the best thing.

CAMEROTA: Yeah. We've also learned that former Trump 2020 campaign official Mike Roman is cooperating with the special counsel. Did you ever interact with him?

BOWERS: I never did interact with Roman. Mine was with Boris --

CAMEROTA: Boris Epshteyn, yeah. BOWERS: That was one that I interacted with. And then, Alison and Giuliani in meetings, they're in Arizona in a meeting.

CAMEROTA: So I don't have to tell you, Mr. Bowers, this investigation has gone on for more than two years. What has all of this done to your life and career and watching it come to something of a head now?

BOWERS: Well, all of this effectively ended my political career, which isn't a bad thing. I mean -- I get to do a little bit what I like to do and be with my family and pursue other things. And I'm very busy in the water field. But it was very hurtful and harmful to my family, my wife, and our children.

And I just hope that it will end. And I would like to see justice done. But I'm not on a jihad. I would just like to see justice done.

CAMEROTA: And what would that would look like?

BOWERS: That would look like the truth. And people to say, either say, yes, we did that. It would be wonderful if they said, I apologize. We blew it. And that I don't think that will happen. And that I would like to have a justice for everybody. There's all kinds of things happening in the country and people are really confused and upset. And I would like to see some calm and a lessening of contention. I don't know how that happens, but it maybe can start with me in my home and we'll push it from there.

CAMEROTA: Well, we hope that for you. Rusty Bowers, thank you very much for your candor. We always appreciate talking to you.

BOWERS: Thank you very much.

CAMEROTA: OK, a Parkland School resource officer found not guilty today after he stayed outside during the mass shooting inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Next, I'll speak with the mother of a teacher who died saving students.




CAMEROTA: Scot Peterson, the former school resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, was acquitted today by a jury in Florida. Now you may remember that Peterson was caught on surveillance footage moving away rather than running towards the school during the mass shooting. He was found not guilty of seven counts of felony child neglect, three counts of culpable negligence and one count of perjury. Peterson and his attorney had an emotional reaction as the verdict was read.


UNKNOWN: State of Florida plaintiff versus Scot Peterson defendant. Verdict count one. We the jury find as follows as to the defendant in this case, the defendant is not guilty. So say we all this 29th day of June 2023 at Fort Lauderdale Broward County, Florida.

Verdict count two. We the jury find as follows as to the defendant in this case, the defendant is not guilty. So say we all this 29th day of June 2023 at Fort Lauderdale Broward County, Florida.


CAMEROTA: I want to bring in now CNN chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst John Miller and also Linda Beigel Schulman. She's the mother of Scott Beigel, a geography teacher at Parkland who was killed protecting his students in the shooting.

Linda, I always appreciate seeing you even though it's during often hard days. And so what's your reaction? What's your reaction to the emotional reaction that Scot Peterson had in the courtroom?

LINDA BEIGEL SCHULMAN, MOTHER OF PARKLAND SHOOTING VICTIM, SCOTT BEIGEL: You know, I guess Scot Peterson believes that doing nothing is synonymous with doing no wrong. I mean, he may have not have been legally responsible, not found legally responsible, but there's no doubt that he's morally responsible. There's just no doubt about it.

And it's hard to have a reaction. I mean, you become numb after a while. You want, you want. You know he's guilty. I mean, I, not you, but I know he's guilty. He stood there for 40 minutes doing nothing. Had he done something, anything, the murderer would have never made it to the third floor.


He would have never made it to the third floor. All he had to do was divert him for 30 seconds. I speak for myself, if he diverted him for 10 seconds, my son would have been able to close the door.

I mean, Scot did, Scot did what Scot Peters, my Scot did what Scott Peterson should have done. My Scot protected his students. He saved 31 students from the shooter. That's what Scot Peterson should have.

CAMEROTA: Yes, your son got between the shooter and his students. And as you know, that morning, right after it happened, I talked to some of his students who credit your son with saving their lives. That was real. What he did was real.

John, let me just play you what Scot Peterson says, why he says it wasn't his fault. Listen to this.


SCOT PETERSON, FORMER SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICER, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: We've got our life back after four and a half years. Five and a half. Because of Mark and being able to put the truth out of what happened. It's been an emotional roller coaster for so long.

Nobody ever forget this was a massacre on February 14th. Only person to blame was that monster. It wasn't any law enforcement. Nobody on that scene from BSO, Coral Springs. Everybody did the best they could. We did the best we could with the information we had, and God knows we wish we had more.


CAMEROTA: What about that, that it was the shooter's fault?

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, it definitely was the shooter's fault. Sometimes in these things, we lose sight of who the ultimate bad guy is. The question here about Scot Peterson's responsibility is, did he hold up to his oath as a police officer?

And it's ironic that we're talking about this, because last night, we were here on this show, showing the officer in Allen, Texas literally running into the gunfire to stop the killing. We saw that same thing in Nashville, in another school. We saw that same thing in Louisville in a bank where a senior officer and a junior officer, the younger of which was terribly wounded with a gunshot to the head as the senior officer then walked back into that field of fire and shot him.

So when you look at this case or you look at Uvalde (ph) You know, you have to ask what went wrong there. And I think what Scot Peterson did at trial is his lawyers were able to present different portions of the radio tape, present the idea that he thought the gunman was outside at that point and not inside, and divert the idea of being guilty of cowardice or forsaking his oath to being guilty of confusion in a high tension situation.

You know, what the jury is looking for isn't what can they prove? But is there reasonable doubt about, and this is the hard part, not just reasonable doubt about the evidence, but reasonable doubt about what was in his mind.

CAMEROTA: Yeah, and so Linda, is any of this, I mean it's been years And still these, you know, trials are going on and I know that every single one of them tears a piece of all the victims' families' hearts out. Is it getting easier? each day or each year or is it just as raw as that day that we were all together when it first happened?

BEIGEL-SCHULMAN: This just pulled the scab right off again. I mean, it doesn't ever get easier. Some days are easier than others. But this just ripped the scab right off.

I mean, I wasn't in the courtroom, but it was certainly on my computer at work, day in and day out listening to the trial and hearing the medical examiner again talk about, I actually learned something more from the medical examiner about what the bullets did when they entered my son's body and so on and so forth, that I didn't even, I didn't even get during the actual trial when the medical examiner was talking.

It just, the wound doesn't heal and this is just, it's wrong, it's just wrong. Just like you said, it's just wrong. It takes one juror. That's all. I mean, I'm not faulting the justice system, the legal system. Okay? Sometimes it's not quite just. It's a legal system, but sometimes just not quite just.

CAMEROTA: Yeah. Understood, and that's horrible. I mean, it's horrible that not only do you have to relive it, but that you can't even brace yourself for knowing that you're about to hear something horrible that you've never heard before.

BEIGEL-SCHULMAN: I didn't know that. And listening to Scot Peterson, you know, after the verdict when he came out to do his interview, and I believe his words were, I got my life back. Can you give me my son's life back? I mean, what more can I say?

CAMEROTA: Linda, thank you very much for being here. We always appreciate talking to you. John, thanks for giving us the law enforcement perspective on this horrible tragedy.


All right, we've got much more live coverage ahead of today's major news about the Supreme Court. We'll be right back.


CAMEROTA: The Supreme Court ruling six to three today to end affirmative action in college admissions. This is a decision that's being described as a generational shift that will alter the way colleges and universities have operated for decades.

CNN Justice correspondent Jessica Schneider has more on today's landmark ruling.