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Inside Politics

DOJ Releases Results Of Investigation Into Louisville PD; DOJ: "Unlawful Racial Disparities" In Louisville Police; DNI Haines: Russia Won't Make "Major Territorial Gains" This Year; DNI Haines On COVID Origins: China Not "Fully Cooperative"; Sources: House Republicans Plot New Jan 6 Probes; Legal Filing: Fox Knew Election Conspiracies Were Bogus; Carlson Refused To Directly Refute Powell Conspiracy On Air; Carlson Text In November 2020: Sidney Powell Is Lying. Aired 12- 12:30p ET

Aired March 08, 2023 - 12:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Hello, and welcome to Inside Politics. I'm John King in Washington. Incredibly busy news day, appreciate your time. A damning finding, the Justice Department says Louisville police department had a pattern, practice, stomping on civil rights, using excessive force, conducting illegal searches, making unlawful stops and discriminating against black and brown citizens.

Plus, top Intel officials pull back the curtain on the biggest challenges for U.S. national security. The takeaways expect China to ramp up pressure on Taiwan and Russia to gamble. Time is on its side in Ukraine. Also, some new CNN reporting on the House GOP plan to revisit the insurrection. That despite fresh evidence from a lawsuit against Fox showing its executives and its host knew election fraud allegations that conspiracy were bogus, but promoted them anyway.

Up first for us, a blatant, horrific disregard for humanity. Just moments ago, the attorney general delivering a stinging indictment of the Louisville Metro Police Department. Merrick Garland announcing the results of a two-year probe that followed the police killing of Breonna Taylor.

Investigators say Louisville cops trebled on civil rights in their everyday police work. And the justice department finding that Louisville cops violated just about every shred of decency, engaging in outright racist behavior against the black community.


MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Some officers have demonstrated disrespect for the people they are sworn to protect. Some have via videotape themselves, throwing drinks and pedestrians from their cars, insulted people with disabilities and call black people monkeys, animal and boy. This conduct is unacceptable.


KING: To begin our coverage of this with CNN's Evan Perez. Evan, a damning indictment the report I was flipping through it before we came on the air. It's just example after example, of simply stunning and clearly racist behavior. Now what?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, now, John, the justice department and the government there in Louisville is going to go to court and they're going to have the judge and force an agreement whereby the department is going to try to improve the way it does its work, the way it conducts itself with the African American community.

And this report really, you know, goes into chapter and verse, not only with African Americans with people who have disabilities, but also, you know, white people who perhaps were drunk and police using excessive force and having nothing happened to them as a result of this.

You can see example after example in this report is one of the ugliest. Certainly, I've seen in one of these things that have - that has come forward in the last few years. One of the interesting things about this report, though, John, is that you can see, according to the justice department, you can see that the Louisville police department has been trying to make some changes. They knew that they had a lot of problems.

And yet when Breonna Taylor - when the killing of Breonna Taylor happens in 2020, it's clear that hardly any of those changes were making a difference. For instance, they had this so-called Viper unit, which was an anti-crime unit that they tried to rename, but essentially, were still doing the same thing. They could just call it a mobile unit.

And what the investigation found was that they were using things like pretextual police stopped, which is, you know, anyone who they thought might be just randomly making a wrong turn or something on a road, they would stop them to try to figure out if there are additional crimes, is something that we've seen around the country that the police departments are trying to get away from, John, because they do result in confrontations that sometimes turned deadly.

KING: Evan, stay with us. Let's also bring into the conversation, Ron Johnson. He's the former captain of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Captain grateful for your time today. We saw this in Minneapolis after the beating of George Floyd, a consent decree to look at patented practices by the police department.

You're familiar. This happened right there in Ferguson, Missouri, where you are familiar with that? How do they work? And I guess then the question is, do they work? What has to be done? What has to happen in the city, not just with the federal oversight in the city on the force for this to work?

RON JOHNSON, FORMER MISSOURI STATE HIGHWAY PATROL CAPTAIN: Well, they come in and there's mandatory training, new pattern and practices that are put in place, and we do see positive results from these consent decrees. They kind of get some standard eyes, guidelines or policies, and that's what we have to see in our country.


And I think Congress is looking at some of that to George Floyd rule as we have to standardize our expectations, our policies and procedures for policing. And I agree that this is some of the ugliest reporting I've heard when we look at what's coming out of Louisville.

KING: It's ugly, it's an understatement. I appreciate your being polite about it. But when you flip through this, and again, I haven't been able to read it all, it just came out. But just flipping through the headlines and looking at some of the examples in the citations before it came on the air.

It is just time after time after time, you see some of them, they're using excessive force, conducting searches, based on invalid warrants, unlawfully stopping, searches, detaining people during traffic stops, unlawfully discriminating against black people.

Some of it is the big stuff, like no knock warrants, and invading people's privacies in the black community. Some of it is, I'm going to call it a little stuff. And I don't mean to minimize it. But the pervasiveness of it is what jumps out.

I was just looking at here, two times more traffic citations against black residents than white residents. Nearly three times as many searches of the vehicles, when it's a black person stopped versus a white person being stopped, which makes this point from the mayor. Listen to Mayor Greenberg saying, some people in Louisville get this, some people probably blind to it.


MAYOR CRAIG GREENBERG, (D) LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY: I know some people are surprised and horrified to hear stories about certain officers, operating in ways that are so counter to our values as a community. I also know there are people who are not surprised to hear the findings in this report, because they see this report is confirmation of complaints. They've made about their own interactions with law enforcement sometimes for years.


KING: How Captain Johnson, do you bridge that in the work ahead? The African American woman is the interim police chief. This is her challenge, first and foremost on a daily basis right now. But how do you do this implement the reforms necessary? When black residents of your city, brown residents of your city may have a very different view, incredibly different view of the police department than your white citizens?

JOHNSON: Well, I think you have to give those individuals that have been impacted by what is going on. They have to have a voice, they have to have a seat at the table, and they have to be a part of this training process and its cultural change. I think too often the people that are being impacted across this country by this behavior, do not have a voice and they're not a part of the solution. And that has to happen for success. KING: And Evan Perez to that point that it has to happen with success as Captain Johnson smartly points that. Look, there'll be federal oversight. Now, there'll be an independent broker to judge who oversees all of this. And the city has signed on to it to everybody today, talking in a cooperative tone about the mayor gets it, the chief gets it, they're going to get federal help and they're going to fix this.

What has the practice been in your history of when the bump hits the road? How do you get through the inevitable disagreements about how to proceed?

PEREZ: Right. Well, one of the issues, John, that you see in this thing with these things is that, you know, after a couple of years, sometimes police departments get tired of having, you know, the justice department over there - looking over their shoulder. And there's a lot of criticism of this practice. Certainly, I think Republican lawmakers on the Hill thinks that there's too much of this stuff, and that, you know, essentially police are being victimized right, by the justice department.

But if you look at this report, and if you look at some of the other reports around the country, you know that there's a problem and there's got to be a way to fix it. Some cities have had success. Los Angeles, for instance, had one of these and they've improved the way the community perceives the police department. But there's a long way to go in Louisville, and you can see that there's going to be a more of these types of pattern or practice investigations announced around the country. John?

KING: Early in this particular process, Evan Perez, Captain Johnson, grateful for your insights on this day. We'll stay on top of the story as it played out. And some other big news just this morning, top American intelligence officials giving a, you might say glass half full, glass half empty assessment of Russia's war in Ukraine.

The bottom line, U.S. officials believe that Russia is incapable of making significant battlefield gains this year, but and it's an important but, they also believe Russia's Vladimir Putin plans a long- drawn-out fight.


AVRIL HAINES, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: We do not foresee the Russian military recovering enough this year to make major territorial gains. Its current posturing is intended to deter the west from providing additional support to Ukraine, as he waves a further escalation of the conflict. He probably will still remain confident that Russia can eventually militarily defeat Ukraine and wants to prevent western support from tipping the balance and forcing a conflict with NATO.


KING: See live pictures. There they're continuing questioning up on Capitol Hill right now. Intelligence chiefs from across different agencies taking questions from senators as we speak. Let's bring in CNN's Natasha Bertrand. Natasha, let's start with Russia. So, you know, the Intel officials say little chance Russia makes any progress in year two. So that's a plus, but it's not necessarily a full plus.


NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: That's right, John, because the intel community apparently believes that Russian President Vladimir Putin thinks that he can outlast the west that the west will essentially get tired and that he will be able to continue his operations in Ukraine until he gets what he wants.

Now importantly, Avril Haines, the Director of National Intelligence, she did say that Russia will probably need to initiate a mandatory mobilization and identify other sources of a munition. If it wants to continue its offensive operations. Basically, it's running low on pretty much everything it would need to take significant amounts of territory.

However, the same kind of goes for the Ukrainians, right? She did caution that depending on how many forces the Ukrainians will have to draw down from their reserves and how much ammunition and casualties they're expending, they could have a tough time with their counterparts of the spring too, John?

KING: A lot of discussion about the China challenge, Natasha, some of it about economics, some of it about military strategy, some of it about the divide in the American intelligence community about the origins of COVID. What did we learn today?

BERTRAND: Yes, John. So, there were a lot of questions about where the pandemic originated, of course, the intelligence community continues to be divided on whether it came from a lab or whether it started from an infected animal. Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines, she reiterated that saying that that divide still exist. FBI Director, Wray, he reiterated his opinion and the opinion of the FBI that it came from a lab leak.

But Avril Haines that that is still not the consensus of the entire intelligence community and that, in fact, that lack of cooperation from China in researching the origins of the pandemic remains a "critical gap." And it is one that the intelligence community is going to have real difficulty surmounting, as it seeks to get more answers on how this pandemic actually started. John?

KING: Natasha Bertrand, grateful for that reporting. Obviously, we'll continue to cover the hearing as the question continues on Capitol Hill. Natasha, thanks. Up next for us. Some brand new CNN reporting on House Republicans, now looking to revisit January 6. Plus, stunning, beyond stunning. New texts and emails from big players at Fox. They trashed Donald Trump, they trashed his election lies, but then they promoted Donald Trump and those same lies on TV.



KING: Now to some important new CNN reporting from Capitol Hill. Sources telling CNN, House Republicans are engineering multiple possible investigations into the interaction. The potential areas of scrutiny include security failures. The select committee's actions and maybe, maybe the treatment of January 6 defendants. Let's get straight up live to Capitol Hill, CNN's Melanie Zanona has the details. Mel, tell us more.

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yes. Well, this is not what Kevin McCarthy wanted to focus on in the new majority. But he felt like he needed to cater to his right flank in order to win and now keep the speaker's gavel. And we know that the magazine (Ph) has not only been clamoring to release the January 6 footage, but they've also wanted their own committees to investigate the attack, so they could really launch a counter narrative about what happened on that day.

And so, one way that they are going to do that is through the House Administration Committee. Sources tell me and my colleagues Annie Grayer and Manu Raju that Congressman Barry Loudermilk is going to be leading the charge on this front. He is planning to investigate the actions of the January 6 select committee that looked into the riots in the past Congress.

He's already poring over documents and records that he received from the select committee. He has set up a tip line, so citizens can share information. And he also told us that he is planning to investigate the security failures from that day. Take a listen.


REP. BARRY LOUDERMILK (R-GA): January 6 committee dropped the ball on what actually happened here in the capital. Where was the security failure? Truly, there was a security failure. No one should have ever been able to reach this Capitol. Where did that happen? What do we need to do to ensure that it never happens again? That's in a nutshell what we're after.


ZANONA: Meanwhile, the House Oversight Committee also might look into some of these issues. Some members on that committee want to look into the January 6 defendants. Marjorie Taylor Greene, for example, told us she is going to lead a group of Republicans over to the D.C. jail.

She has been trying to defend the rioters, seizing on this Tucker Carlson footage in the way it's portrayed. Providing these bogus claims that the rioters were nothing more than tourists visitors. Something that gave Republican leaders series heartburn when we're up against first started making those bogus comparisons two years ago.

So, while all this maneuvering has clearly ingratiated Kevin McCarthy with his right flank, you can see there are clear risks and headaches associated with elevating these members and keeping January 6 in the spotlight. John? KING: That may a prove to be an understatement. The risk part there. Melanie Zanona, live on Capitol Hill. Appreciate that important new reporting. Let's discuss, with me in studio to share their reporting and their insights, CNN's Paula Reid, Jackie Kucinich of The Boston Globe, Cleve Wootson of The Washington Post, and Punchbowl's Heather Caygle.

It's interesting. The question is what, right? So, they have these ideas to possibly have several different investigations or at least an investigation with several different potential focuses. Security is a legitimate question, and the January 6 committee did not spend a lot of time publicly discussing that. But this Congressman Loudermilk quite understand with many Republicans want to whitewash the day. If you focus on security, Heather, aren't you conceding there was an attack on the Capitol? That's why you have security questions.

HEATHER CAYGLE, MANAGING EDITOR, PUNCHBOWL NEWS: Right. I mean, absolutely, it gets very tricky, moving on from here. Like you said, security. This is a legitimate claim from Republicans. The January 6th committee spent about $18.5 million investigating January 6, but much of that was focused on Trump and Republican allies and how this happened, and not the security failures of that day.

When it comes to that, they have - Republicans have tried to blame former Speaker Pelosi and saying, she wasn't aware. When in fact, the reality is all four congressional leaders have a role to play when it comes to security in the Capitol. Obviously, Trump has a significant role to play that he did not take part in all of the things that we've discussed before.

So, this will get really tricky and does have the potential, like some of these other investigations are doing to really kind of spiral out of hand, given the motivations of some of these other Republicans.


KING: Do House Republicans care when they watch the reaction of some of their own centrists and moderates, but particularly Republicans in the Senate, who watched the disgraceful whitewash, the Tucker Carlson did the other night. And say, it's unhelpful, it's wrong, it's not factual.

We were there that day. Our lives were at risk that day and it's just - it's disruptive when you're looking forward, you know, most Republicans take or many Republicans set aside anything, if to break from that lie, break from election conspiracies and move on. But?

JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE BOSTON GLOBE: But McCarthy already had their votes, the moderate Republicans. He didn't need to trade favors for their votes, he had to do it with his right flank and bring them into the fold, which is what this is about.

I mean, McCarthy had no intention of going back to January 6 in this conversation, until he realized that he needed to bring these very far right Republicans, and he not to mention bring Tucker Carlson on board because he doesn't need Tucker Carlson throwing shots at him on Fox News every night. So, this really is about his speaker race. I think a lot of lines are going to keep being drawn back to that as these things over.

KING: Including, you make the key point that he needed the support of Marjorie Taylor Greene to become speaker and she has suggested that she wants to visit the defendants in jail because she believes they are being tortured. American citizens are being tortured as political prisoners. Thousand people been arrested and charged. We'll continue that.

So, as House Republicans debate this, just how to revisit the events of January 6. They have a real time propaganda example to consider. As I noted, Tucker Carlson of Fox is using the special access speaker McCarthy gave him to January 6 footage to present his take on what happened that day. It is so dishonest that a good number of Republicans were quick, very quick to condemn it as false and unhelpful. But lying is a big piece of the Fox formula. And we have glaring new proof of that today.

Key players in Fox in their own words, admitting, they knew Donald Trump and his allies were lying about 2020 election fraud. Yet, Fox repeatedly promoted Trump lies anyway because it was good for ratings. We know this because of newly released court filings that include Fox emails and text messages.

Let's consider at the moment Tucker Carlson as exhibit A, "disgusting," "destructive, " "trying to look away," "I passionately hate him. " Those are Tucker Carlson's words. Aimed at Donald Trump, then the president United States and his election lies. Yet the Fox fraud continues, even to this day, this is Monday night.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX HOST: It is clear the 2020 election was a grave betrayal of American democracy. Given the facts that have since emerged about that election, no honest person can deny it.


KING: I don't know what he knows, but honesty. But how can he do that? Does he not know his own words are coming out in this lawsuit, where he says it's bogus. He says, Trump is a disgrace. He says he hates. He says he hates him, and then he pedals him.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Clearly, he knows this is coming out, and clearly, he doesn't care. And it's not just him, right? He's a micro example of the macro problem at Fox. They knew everything that was in discovery, all of this that's coming out was one of the big questions I have is, why they weren't more interested in making this case go away.

Because last night when we got these hundreds of pages of previously undisclosed documents, you see again and again, Fox News executives, Fox News personalities saying, we know this is false. But amid these concerns of declining ratings, they go on air and say something different. So, it's really a pretty strong case. Defamation is difficult to prove, but here Dominion has a pretty strong case. But in terms of the court of public opinion, it's astonishing that Fox News is OK with all this coming out.

KING: Well, they can't stop it because of the lawsuit. I'm not sure they're OK with it. The question is, do they settle at some point? I think is an interesting point. But again, it was, remember, Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Lindell, your pillow guy who are on Fox repeatedly, talking about this conspiracy theory that somehow the Dominion voting machines were part of a conspiracy, and Hugo Chavez from the grave and I can't even go on on it. But Tucker Carlson gave it a lot of credence on television and would not shoot it down.


CARLSON: We've heard from a lot of people about that segment, including people in the White House and people close to the president. Like us, they have concluded this election was not fair. Like us, they're willing to believe any explanation for what happened. Like us, they have not seen a single piece of evidence showing that software changed votes, doesn't mean it didn't happen. It might have happened. It means they haven't seen any evidence that had happened. And by then, we are including other members of Donald Trump's own legal team.


KING: So, he's trying there to straddle a bit, and yet he still says - he still says that the election was not fair. The election was not fair. And we haven't seen the evidence, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Well, here's what Tucker Carlson was telling his own colleagues about this. Sidney Powell is lying. You see it right there, again, lying to your own viewers, because you're afraid if you tell the truth, they will go elsewhere.

CLEVE WOOTSON, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes. I mean, what we're seeing here is the symbiotic and somewhat cynical relationship between the Trump administration or Trump and these Fox News hosts right because as you guys were saying earlier, they saw voters are voters, they saw viewers fleeing right, going to OAN or Newsmax and all of that stuff. s [12:25:00]

And they were thinking how can we keep these viewers here? How can we keep them here? And as time goes on, the more you read, it's just like it becomes increasingly toxic. This symbiotic relationship between the two.

KING: Right. You're the legal mind. You're right. I don't know. I don't know if they can win a defamation case because the board approved defamation is so high. The First Amendment is a gift that we all benefit from, and Fox may in this case, but their credibility publicly, especially if their own viewers read any of this stuff. Again, this is their own words. This nobody's putting these words in their mouth. This is them in their own words.

This is Rupert Murdoch, the Fox Chairman. Maybe Sean and Laura, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham there, went too far. All very well for Sean to tell you, he was in despair about Trump. But what did he tell his viewers? Again, they were having conversations with and among themselves about how this is all bogus. This is terrible. Now let's go say it on TV because it excites our viewers.

CAYGLE: Yes. You know, John, the fascinating thing now is we have finally seen on the Hill for some Republicans, especially in Senate leadership. This is where the line is, right? And this is a step too far. And we saw Mitch McConnell come out yesterday and blast Tucker Carlson, holding up this letter from the U.S. Capitol police chief saying, Tucker Carlson's portrayal January 6 absolutely false and dangerous.

And McConnell said, I associate myself completely with those words, it was totally unprompted. No one had even asked him a question yet. And of course, he refused to criticize Kevin McCarthy for releasing the tapes. But obviously, that's the connection that everyone's going to make. It's just a fascinating, fascinating dynamic playing out on the Hill right now as Republicans try to wrestle with this in real time.

KING: And as any Fox viewer, whether you're a consistent Fox viewer or an occasional Fox viewer, if you're probably not watching me right now. But this is the question I think we have to ask, is for watch Tucker Carlson and the others. What they say to this day about Donald Trump.

And then this is Tucker Carlson again in his own words. We're all pretending we've got a lot to show for it, because admitting what a disaster it's been, is too tough to digest. But come on. There really isn't an upside to Trump. Number one, again, you're lying to your viewers. Number two, Trump running again. I'm really interested when he decides to react to some of this.

KUCINICH: Yes. Well, I think we're all watching for that tweet or, you know, whoever is on his side. But the other thing that's in there, that was from Tucker Carlson, when he said that Trump is good at destroying things, and I'm paraphrasing here, but he also could come after us. And I think that the idea that they need to keep him close also was very much through those text messages, through their viewers. So, there are, also is that new culture of fear of the person that they're boosting.

WOOTSON: Well, I think there's also a big question for Fox News viewers, because when I go to some of these red states, sometimes in the diner or the cafe, the only TV station on is, is no offense to CNN, is Fox News. And who do these people trust after all of this?

You know, did they dismiss this stuff as liberal media or, you know, witch hunt or whatever? Or, you know, do they still have faith in Tucker Carlson and what he says. If they still have faith in Donald Trump and what he says, like how does that play out as Trump tries to run it?

KING: It's a great question, because part of the challenge there is how does it break through to them? Does it break through them because Fox is not covering this? Fox is not admitting its own lies to its own people. And what it says in the lawsuit, a quick defamation question. This is Rupert Murdoch here.

Do you believe Dominion was engaged in a massive and coordinated effort to steal the 2020 presidential election? No. Have you ever seen any credible evidence to suggest that Dominion was engaged in a massive and coordinated effort to steal the 2020 presidential election? No. Have you ever believed that Dominion was engaged in a massive and coordinated effort to steal the 2020 presidential election? No.

So, he makes, that's the CEO, making clear he knew what was being said on his air repeatedly. Was horse manure. Is that defamation though or is he protected somehow?

REID: I don't know that I would say that he is protected. That's great evidence for Dominion. Because again, the standard is very high in defamation. You have to prove actual malice, that they knew what they were putting on the air was false. And what's astonishing in these documents as you see so many examples of that.

And here you have Rupert Murdoch, the Chairman. A buck literally figuratively stops with him, saying that no, I didn't believe it. I didn't know it. And they have an incentive to lie. Why? Ratings and as Murdoch also admitted, money.

KING: It's fascinating, how the case plays out, but just how this plays out. Also inside of Fox, we all know good people who work at Fox. Every one of us knows good people who are trying to do their job every day and trying to be journalists and reporters every day. One of them not there anymore. Bill Sammon was at the Washington Times when I covered the White House, a good man, good reporter, fantastic reporter, and a good person.

He says this in the deposition, we're still focused solely on supposed election fraud, a month after the election. It's remarkable how weak ratings make good journalists do bad things. In my 22 years affiliated with Fox, this is the closest thing I've seen to an existential crisis at least journalistically. Bill always was a good writer. That is well set.

Up next for us. A White House strategy shift on this question, should TikTok be banned in the United States?