Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Live Event/Special

CNN TONIGHT: SCOTUS Restores AL Voting Map In Blow To Black Voting Power; Gun Rights Group Rips Police For Shooting Death Of Lawfully-Armed Black Man In No-Knock Warrant Entry Of Home; Former NY Times Editorial Page Editor Takes Stand In Palin's Defamation Suit Against Newspaper. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired February 08, 2022 - 21:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: According to the court documents, the 17-year- old was Locke's cousin, and he's a suspect, in a homicide, in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Police were looking, for the teenager, and two others, in connection with the crime, during the deadly incident that took Locke's life.

The news continues. So, let's hand it over to Laura Coates, and CNN TONIGHT.

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Thank you, John, so much. Nice to see you. And you're right. I am Laura Coates. And this is CNN TONIGHT.

As you know, elections have consequences. I mean, we should all know that very well, at this point. You hear it all the time.

They can have impact, on who sits on the highest court, in the land, who then can go on, as you know, to make very consequential decisions that will impact our elections, the same, that have consequences.

That's exactly what just happened, with a new controversial Supreme Court ruling, one that delivers yet another, and this time in, a major blow, to the voting rights of minorities, in Alabama and, arguably, elsewhere.

We're going to take a deep dive into why exactly that is the case, tonight, and frankly, how it could impact the midterm elections that are exactly nine months from today.

SCOTUS has now chosen to restore Alabama's gerrymandered GOP-drawn congressional map that a lower court already blocked, last month, saying that it would hurt Black voters. The vote there was five-to- four, with Chief Justice John Roberts, joining the three liberal justices, in dissent.

So, why does this map matter so much? And why was it, even initially blocked is the good question. Well, a three-judge U.S. District Court ruled that it likely violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

Because the map would only include one district, out of seven, where Black voters will have the majority. Yet, Black voters, well, they make up more than a fourth of Alabama's population. So, there's an obvious imbalance in just that demographic.

So, the lower court ordered, that a new map with a second at least majority Black district, be drawn, which could have led to Democrats gaining another seat, in the House, this fall. But that's not happening here now, because the conservative majority of the Supreme Court, well, they froze the ruling.

Now, why would they do that? Well, Justices Kavanaugh and Justice Alito are arguing that the lower court's order, for a new map, well it just came just too close to the 2022 election cycle. Too close? How absurd! I mean, the idea of not correcting the area, and the issue, prior to elections?

Well, liberal Justice Elena Kagan, who argues there's plenty of time, by the way, is reiterating that stance. I mean, the primary, in Alabama, it's not tomorrow, or next week, or even next month. It's not until late May.

Showed in her dissent, of course, and joined by justices Breyer and Sotomayor that her court's decision, quote, "Does a disservice to the District Court, which meticulously applied this Court's longstanding voting-rights precedent. And most of all, it does a disservice to Black Alabamians who under that precedent have had their electoral power diminished."

Justice Kagan also pointed out that the court shouldn't even be issuing such an order, on its so-called "Shadow docket," which, of course, you know, is this emergency docket that doesn't have the benefit of getting full briefing, of having oral arguments, and some would argue the transparency, needed to understand, the nature of the court's decision.

So, since the merits of this case, won't be taken up, until well, now later this year, that means the midterm elections, in Alabama, they'll be held on maps that could ultimately be ruled illegal, after the voting has already been done. And what's the expectation that they'll somehow reverse the election, based on the maps, know what will be, and will obviously stand?

And this isn't just an Alabama issue, by the way. Gerrymandering has been particularly rampant, this election cycle, in states like Texas, and North Carolina, and Ohio.

The DOJ is actually suing Texas, over its map, arguing, Republican lawmakers didn't draw enough majority Latino and Black districts there, denying minorities' rights to vote, on account of their race.

And, to be fair, "What about Democrats," you ask? Well, yes, they've also drawn themselves, some aggressive maps, in states like Illinois and New York.

Some are arguing, of course, that that's maybe partisan gerrymandering, and while problematic, but often under a different standard, because one's political affiliation might be viewed as pretextual for other areas.


Well, how do you figure out whether you should do any of the type of gerrymandering, as opposed, to just an approach to the one-person, one-vote standard we're supposed to have?

But what's happening in Alabama is noted as being a kind of racial gerrymandering. And that's unconstitutional, under the standards that we know. Well, at least for now!

Only 31 states have finished even redrawing their congressional lines, in advance of the midterms. And if you're doing there, your math, 31 out of 50 is not the whole kit and caboodle that needs to happen, to ensure that everything will be on the up and up, and on par with how we want it to be, by the time people cast a ballot.

I mean, due to population change, in the 2020 census, of course, this is all taking place, the redrawing of maps, to be more in line, with the accurate data, of the actual populations.

And the concern is that the new Supreme Court ruling could actually greenlight other states, to try to manipulate the maps, in ways that would put voters of color, at a disadvantage. And how often have we seen this happen, over the course of, even recent history, let alone even prior to and since 1965?

So, the question, of course, is, and we'll talk about it, what's the fix now? What's the fix now that two voting rights bills are dead on arrival, in the Senate? I want to bring in two experts on this, to carry on the conversation.

Let's turn to Rick Hasen, Professor of Law, at UC Irvine, and Co- Editor of the Election Law Journal. He's also the Author of the new book, "Cheap Speech: How Disinformation Poisons Our Politics," which comes out next month, everyone.

And also with me, Derrick Johnson, President of the NAACP.

Gentlemen, I'm very glad you're here. And can - we've talked about this. I was a voting attorney, in the Civil Rights Division of DOJ. And I can tell you, I can't believe that here we are, finding ourselves, time and time again, in a world that feels a lot more like, perhaps 1964, than 2022.

Let me begin with you, Rick, here, on this point, because I want you to help people understand. People have heard the news. They've heard about what gerrymandering is, and what the Alabama map.

Help us to go deeper, and contextualize, why this is so significant that this is even being looked at, on a shadow docket, for example? What do you say, Rick?

RICK HASEN, PROFESSOR OF LAW, UC IRVINE, CO-DIRECTOR, UCI LAW FAIR ELECTIONS AND FREE SPEECH CENTER, AUTHOR, "CHEAP SPEECH: HOW DISINFORMATION POISONS OUR POLITICS": Well, the first thing to note is that, back in 2013, the Supreme Court killed a key part of the Voting Rights Act, called Section 5 that would have required Alabama, to go to the Department of Justice, and show that their map wouldn't make minority voters worse off. That's gone.

But we were told, in that case, Shelby County versus Holder, that "Don't worry, there's Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act," a part of the Voting Rights Act that was amended in 1982, that gives minority voters, the same opportunity, as other voters, to participate, in the political process, and to elect representatives, of their choice.

What Chief Justice Roberts said, in his opinion, yesterday, in his partial dissent was, "If you apply the existing standards, Alabama's got to get that 2nd District." So, he dissented from the idea that we're going to put this on hold now.

But he agreed with the other five conservatives, "Let's rethink this whole thing." And that's the most ominous thing. The court may fundamentally rework what Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act means, and really weaken it, so that it doesn't really protect minority voters, anymore.

And you're right to think it's kind of a return, back to the period, before the Voting Rights Act, in 1982, was amended, and almost back to 1965, when there was really significant protection, for minority voters, put in place.

COATES: And Derrick, I want you to weigh in here, because it's so important to think about just that dynamic of why the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was even put into place, let alone the gutting of Section 5, and the rendering anemic, frankly, of Section 2, even being able to challenge laws, on the back-end.

You have here a Supreme Court that's saying, "Look, we are not going to really deal with this issue. It's too close in time. We'll deal with it later, after whatever takes place, already transpires."

What do you say about the idea of having that delay, and not realizing the necessity, to weigh in, prior to that map going into effect, Derrick?

DERRICK JOHNSON, PRESIDENT, NAACP: Well, I think it's disingenuous of the Supreme Court to take that posture. In effect, they're saying "We're going to turn a blind eye to voter suppression in Alabama, particularly against African American voters."

What is well-documented that Alabama has a long history of racial bloc voting, seeking to suppress the Black vote, and in many ways try and eliminate the ability of African Americans, in that state, to elect candidates of their choice. And, in this situation, the Supreme Court is simply turning a blind eye.


We must pass voting right protections in the Senate. The Senate must do their job. We're going to continue to see this repeat itself, over and over, if in fact, members of the Senate, don't develop courage, and stand up, and protect our Constitution, and protect the right to vote.

COATES: On that notion, you mentioned, the idea of almost, this notion of a post-racial world, that was alluded to prior, when the Section 5 was gutted, and the idea of turning a blind eye?

Well, Rick, Republicans would argue, and let's play devil's advocate here, in this position, that "Look, we should have racial - race-blind mapping here. You shouldn't be taking into consideration the race."

Certainly, there is racial bloc voting, of course, as Derrick talked about, the idea of having enough concentration of power, to elect a candidate, of your choice, not having that voting strength diluted, and never ever being guaranteed, to vote for the winner, but having the opportunity, to do so.

What do you say to the argument that says, "If you don't want race, to infect our voting and election systems, then why would you, draw a majority Black district, in the first place?"

HASEN: Yes, that's a great question. But I would put it this way. You mentioned racially-polarized voting. Let's talk about what that means. It means that the White majority, in Alabama, if given the chance, to vote, will consistently defeat the choice, of African American voters, in Alabama.

So, if you just had voting at large, where everybody could vote, for every congressional candidate? You'd have an all-White delegation. I mean, we're almost there. But you'd have that in the legislature too.

What Congress did, in 1982, when it amended Section 2, of the Voting Rights Act was say, "Look, we want to ensure that when minority voters are concentrated, in a particular area, and they're large enough that they could have a candidate, of their choice, represent them, they should have that same opportunity."

I would love for us to live in a race-blind society, where Alabama voters were not choosing their candidates, on the basis of race. But that's not the reality today.

And the reality today is if we want to assure minority representation, and if the Supreme Court's going to follow what Congress said, it's got to create - continue to create these districts, in order to assure that minority voters get a fair share of representation, in a place like Alabama.

COATES: And Derrick, of course, I'll give you the last word, on this, because you, with the work, you do, at the NAACP, you recognize the reality, and the impact of race and, frankly, every facet of our systems, in America.

When you think about this, are you concerned about the blueprint effect, of something like this, now that other jurisdictions may say, "Hey, the Supreme Court is not going to weigh in. It's too close to an election. Maybe we should now turn out and crank out the remaining less than 20 maps that needs to be done, to eliminate competitive seats." Is that a concern, we should think about?

JOHNSON: It's a huge concern, particularly for the Southern states. Redistricting is no longer done by hand, with the added (ph) machine. You can produce maps, multiple maps, within a matter of hours. I'm a demographer. The GIS systems are so advanced, it doesn't take a long time.

In fact, the Supreme Court could have said, "The primary's coming up. We're going to tell you, Alabama, to produce alternative maps, in the next two weeks."

Alabama could have produced a multiple maps that would have well, met the criteria, to ensure African Americans will have an opportunity, to elect candidates, of their choice, comply with Section 2, and to protect our democracy.

But they chose to use a false argument, to say, "Well, it's too close to an election," when in fact is not too close to elections.

Finally, states like Alabama, they have always participated in racial Black voting - racial bloc votings. African Americans will vote for White candidates. But White voters are rarely, in that state, willing to vote for African American candidates.

I believe Obama, when he ran in 2008, he only got about 11 percent of the White vote, the least amount of White support of any states, in the country. So, that tells you the mindset of Alabamians, who, in the White community, as it relates to Black candidates.

This Supreme Court really could in fact, accelerate, more voter suppressive maps that will eliminate the ability, for African Americans, to elect candidates, of their choice, in each of the congressional districts, across the South.

COATES: A very important point, the idea of the reality of technology. It's not like you have to have Lewis and Clark, out there, by hand, drawing, as cartographers, right? You have the idea of being able to have this technical innovation.

But also, it does speak to this issue that you both point out, Rick Hasen, and Derrick Johnson, about this idea, this fallacy. I mean, doesn't it sound a lot like "I'm sorry, the will of the people or decisions are on a timeline." That reminds me of what Senator Mitch McConnell did, as it related to being too close to an election, as it related to a Supreme Court nominee. The past is prologue, yet again.

Rick Hasen, Derrick Johnson, thank you for your time. I appreciate it.

HASEN: Thank you.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

COATES: Look, the gerrymandering fight, it isn't the only battle for control here, right? You can imagine that there are a lot of different brawls, so to speak, happening. And the Big Lie is a fight that is still tearing the country apart.


Up next, where things stand, for former President Trump, from the January 6 committee, to accusations of destroying documents, to boxes stashed at Mar-a-Lago, to taping documents back together? That's in a moment.


COATES: There are new questions tonight, over whether former President Trump, violated the Presidential Records Act, not just because of his well-known habit of ripping up documents.

But there are new revelations, first reported by "The Washington Post," that the National Archives had to retrieve 15 boxes worth, 15 boxes, of White House records, from his Mar-a-Lago resort, just last month.

Now, Trump's advisers say that the boxes are full of personal mementos, like Trump's so-called love letters, for North Korea's Kim Jong-un.


But, under that law, that's for the National Archives to review. And it should have been handed over, at the end of Trump's tenure, which, I remind people, is over, a year ago.

Now, we don't actually know, if any of these records are damaged. And, as we've reported, Trump's staffers had to regularly tape his shredded documents, back together, which every time, I think about that, the actual taping of documents, back together? You think you're watching some sort of a comedy special, or some spoof, on what happens actually, in the White House.

And you ask the question, "I mean, shouldn't Trump have known better?" After all, he did, if you remember, he went after Speaker Nancy Pelosi, for well, this moment.

Remember this? Ripping up his State of the Union speech.



DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I thought it was a terrible thing, when she ripped up the speech. First of all, it's an official document. You're not allowed. It's illegal what she did. She broke the law.


COATES: "Broke the law!" Well, interesting point, and that might not have aged very well. But also, who could forget all the diatribes against what Hillary Clinton was alleged to have done, as well. Remember this?


TRUMP: After her private server was revealed last March, her staff deleted all the emails, and wiped it clean.

People, who have nothing to hide, don't bleach, nobody's ever heard of it, don't bleach their emails, or destroy evidence, to keep it, from being publicly archived, as required, under federal law.


COATES: Now, that's interesting. And it begs the question, of what could this mean, for the former President, now?

I want to bring in Mary McCord, who was the Acting Head of the Justice Department's National Security Division, during the Obama administration.

It's great to see you, Mary McCord, especially, on a night like this.

Well, first, let me just begin by asking this, though. Part of what Trump said was the idea of one bleaching, or trying to shield evidence, of wrongdoing, in some respects.

One could argue, and certainly he will argue that he wasn't trying to shield wrongdoing, or even evidence in a criminal offense. He was taking personal mementos.

Is that enough to sort of go around the requirements of the Presidential Records Act?

MARY MCCORD, LEGAL DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE FOR CONSTITUTIONAL ADVOCACY AND PROTECTION, PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN LAW: Well, I think, as you indicated, in your opening, Laura, it's really up to the Archivist, to determine what is a Presidential Record, and what is a personal record.

So, the assumption, essentially is, is that what you receive, or create, at the White House, during your term, as president, will be reviewed by the Archivist. And those that are personal records will be released to you, and those that are presidential records, are actually the property of the United States, of the Archivist, not your own personal property.

So, we don't know yet, what is in those 15 boxes? The Archivist will be reviewing, reviewing those. There may be things in there that are personal records.

There probably are many things in there that are presidential records. In fact, the fact that they're sending them back, suggests that even his own attorneys believe they're presidential records. And there may be things in those boxes that are responsive to the House Select Committee's request, for documents, relevant to its investigation. COATES: You're right. We don't know everything that's in there. But I suspect, the lawyers wouldn't have handed back snow globes, right, as part of what they're handing into the National Archives.

And a big - part of me thinks to myself, about this idea of what the American people must be thinking, about presidential records, and the idea of - usually (ph) suggests that every single piece of paper that the President of the United States, over the course of four years, touches, drafts, speeches, and the like, maybe a be Post-it Note, maybe a conversation that's handed out, a printout of any kind, that that is something that is obviously, and always retained, like it's a Library of Congress document.

Is that what's thought to happen? Or is there some discretion, on the part of the President of the United States, to determine what is significant enough, to even be included in a potential archive?

MCCORD: The Act is quite broad. And really any - it's not just documents.

It does include works of art, and things like that, that are received in the court - received or produced, in the course of the President, carrying out his functions. That could be his constitutional functions, also, his ceremonial functions. Those are all presidential records.

So, there can be things, like personal diaries, about personal things that aren't related to the President's constitutional responsibilities, or ceremonial responsibilities that would be personal records.

And there is some exceptions, within the Act, for things that just has - sort of have no value. But that should be for the Archivists to determine.

And part of the reason that the law is so broad, is because it really is important, for historical purposes, and for accountability purposes, to have the record, of really what took place, in the White House, involving the President of the United States, and those, who act on his behalf, in him - in his carrying out his duties, under the Constitution, and his other responsibilities, as President.


COATES: You mentioned the accountability factor. I just want to just have the connective tissue here, because obviously, of the January 6 committee. The reason the National Archives are handing documents over, is in part because of that request, of the committee.

You also have got, what's happening in Fulton County, and discussions around the Big Lie, and the anatomy of the Big Lies that may have led to, of course, January 6.

Are these documents and things that you anticipate each of these different entities, looking at, and viewing with an eye towards, either accountability, let alone DOJ, either accountability, or understanding the role that these documents may have played, in what happened, on January 6, or even the Big Lie?

MCCORD: So, I think it sounds like the Archivist has been dealing with the President's lawyers, for some time now, many months, maybe even before the House Select Committee resolution, even started the committee's investigation.

So, I think they were doing it originally, just because they realized 15 boxes of presidential records had gone to Mar-a-Lago, and should not have gone there.

Now, of course, it's certainly possible that there are documents, or other materials, in those boxes, that, again, are part of what the - is relevant, and what is requested by the House Select Committee.

It could be other documents that would be eventually of use, and requested, or subpoenaed, by the Fulton County prosecutor, or other governmental entities, in the course of their statutorily or otherwise authorized investigations.

So, I think, to go back to your very first question, about sort of violating the Presidential Records Act, I mean, I think one of the things that the Archivists will be doing, of course, when they go through these materials, is see if there are things responsive, to the House Select Committee's request.

And then, I think it'll be up to investigators, to determine is there anything - just assuming for a minute. We don't know. And I don't want to really speculate.

But if there were a lot of responsive documents, relevant either to the attack on the Capitol, or the efforts to overturn the results of the election, or to pressure Secretary of State Raffensperger, in George, or anything like that? I think that if there are those types of records, then investigators will want to look into this question, of--

COATES: Right.

MCCORD: --were they willfully concealed, by taking them to Mar-a-Lago. And then, you would get into questions about whether there were violations in that willful concealing. But we're far away from that, at this point.

COATES: Mary, it seems to always come back to intent, which is obviously the hurdle that needs to be proven, in so many respects.

Mary McCord, thank you so much.

MCCORD: Thank you for having me, Laura.

COATES: Important new information tonight, after the police killing, of another Black man, in Minneapolis. This time, it happened as a result of a no-knock warrant.

Reporter Omar Jimenez is closely following the case, and updates us. That's next. [21:30:00]


COATES: So tonight, we know who the Minneapolis Police SWAT team, went looking for, when they shot and killed a Black man, in his own home, who had committed no crime.

The answer hits close to home, for the family, of Amir Locke, one week after his death. But they say, it shouldn't take the focus, off their loss, one they call the result of a dangerous technique that they say must be banned.

CNN's Omar Jimenez, is in Minneapolis, with the new revelations.

And a warning. You'll see police body cam video in this story that is disturbing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police! Search warrant!

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They were looking in the right apartment, but they found the wrong person, when Amir Locke was shot and killed by police.

They were looking for his cousin, 17-year-old Mehki Speed, who was charged, Tuesday, in the murder of a man, named, Otis Elder, in nearby Saint Paul, about a month earlier, court documents show.

They also show, investigators tracked the allegedly stolen car, they say, was used as a getaway vehicle, from the shooting, to a Minneapolis apartment complex.

The Saint Paul and Minneapolis Police departments had search warrants that authorized the search, of three apartments, at the Bolero Flats. In one of them, was Locke, asleep on the couch.


JIMENEZ (voice-over): As he appeared to wake up, he's seen with a gun. And police shoot. Locke was killed. His name wasn't listed on the search warrant, Police and his attorneys say.

JEFF STORMS, LOCKE FAMILY ATTORNEY: Everyone, from top to bottom, has blamed their - the decision, not to actually implement a ban, on no- knock warrants, the decisions of Minneapolis Police officials, and officers involved, in continuing to seek no-knock warrants.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): In 2020, Minneapolis Police were executing roughly 139 no-knock warrants, per year, according to the city.

In November, that year, the city updated its no-knock policy, saying, "MPD officers will be required to announce their presence, and purpose, prior to entry, outside of exigent circumstances, like a hostage situation," or other imminent threats. In the following months, leading up to an election, Mayor Jacob Frey was criticized as giving the impression, he completely banned the practice. He acknowledged there could have been more nuance.

MAYOR JACOB FREY, (D) MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA: As more and more people and outside groups began weighing in, language became more casual, including my own, which did not reflect the necessary precision or nuance. And I own that.

My language, and what we were saying, certainly in longer form, honored the spirit of this policy change. But there were instances, when it did not.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Recently, Frey moved the city, to a temporary moratorium, of no-knock warrants, though they're still allowed, in situations of imminent risk, and with the approval of the Chief.

But Locke's family wants a permanent ban. And their attorneys say that's the only thing that's going to solve this.


JIMENEZ (on camera): What do you feel needs to be implemented, to prevent this from happening ever again?

STORMS: We need a flat-out moratorium and ban on no-knock warrants, in real life, when exigent circumstances arise. The law already provides for that. This concept of a no-knock warrant, under even emergency situations, still seems ridiculous.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): The no-knock policy also has some gun advocacy groups concerned, including the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus, especially as Locke's family and attorneys say he was in legal possession of his gun.

Shortly after the shooting, the Caucus called his death "Completely avoidable," and "Mr. Locke did what many of us might do in the same confusing circumstances. He reached for a legal means of self-defense, while he sought to understand what was happening."


JIMENEZ (voice-over): Protests are now calling for the familiar chance of justice, in the Twin Cities, for more than just a prosecution of an officer, but a change in policy.


JIMENEZ: Now, Mayor Frey has said they're currently looking into their no-knock policy, potentially, to take it further. It's also what state investigators are looking at, to determine whether proper policy, and procedure, was followed here, by Minneapolis Police.

The policy, at the time, was that officers must announce themselves before entry, unless there is an imminent risk. What that imminent risk was or wasn't determined by supervisors, is what's being looked at, along with whether these officers properly announced themselves, before crossing the threshold, into this apartment.


COATES: Omar Jimenez, excellent reporting, as always. Thank you.

We're going to take this revised debate on - revived debate on no- knock warrants, to two people, with very valuable perspectives that I really want you to hear.

One of them was mentioned in Omar's report. He's the Vice President of the Gun Owners Caucus, in Minnesota, that's calling for an independent investigation of this tragedy.

We also have former Philly Police Commissioner, Charles Ramsey, on whether police officers can, well, effectively do their jobs without no-knock warrants, in play.

A lot to consider, up next.



COATES: Well, the police shooting death, of Amir Locke, has one gun rights organization, weighing in. No, it's not the NRA.

The Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus released this statement. "The tragic circumstances of Mr. Locke's death were completely avoidable. It's yet another example where a no-knock warrant has resulted in the death of an innocent person."

Joining me now is Rob Doar, the Vice President of that very organization, and Charles Ramsey, former Philadelphia Police Commissioner.

I'm glad to have you both. You offer such different perspectives. And I think it's valuable to have both of them.

I want to begin with you, Rob, because I got to say, I'm from Minnesota. And one of the things that has always bothered me, in terms of obvious - the obvious tragedies, but it's also the silence from organizations that claim to speak, on behalf of lawful gun owners.

I remember when Philando Castile was killed, back in 2016, another lawful gun owner, your organization, actually, which was founded in 2015, released a statement, even in supportive of the idea, about lawful gun ownership, then.

But I wonder initially, why do you think there is the silence, from other organizations that proclaim similar viewpoints, about Second Amendment rights, but this is the category where silence results?

ROB DOAR, VICE PRESIDENT, MINNESOTA GUN OWNERS CAUCUS: Yes, I think it's difficult for organizations to take a bold stance, especially if it's something that is - may cause division among their membership. And I can't speak for other organizations. But, I think, we've built a culture, around our organization, our members, and our supporters expect us to do the right thing, and to always speak on behalf of lawful gun ownership, and in defense of the Second Amendment.

COATES: To be fair, I'm talking about the NRA, and they claim they didn't release, for example, a statement, about in defense of Philando Castile, because of - they say, the presence of marijuana, in his car, and in the system. That's what they reportedly have said about this issue, whether it's indeed true or not.

But I do wonder about this issue. Do you, and I'll state you (ph) a second here, so do you support a ban on no-knock warrants? Then, it seems quite clear, as you've been advocating that it was completely avoidable. Do you support a ban on no-knock warrants?

DOAR: I think we need to take a hard look on it.

The City of Saint Paul, right next door, is manages - has managed to do their job, for the last five years, without using a single no-knock warrant. They faced the same dangers, the same population types, the same crimes. Yet, they don't use any. And Minneapolis uses between 100 and 200 a year.

But, at the end of the day, if we have to choose, between having no- knock warrants eliminated, or having law-abiding, innocent citizens killed, so that police can recover evidence, in the execution of a search warrant, we'll go - we'll err on the side of the citizen, and just suggest that no no-knock warrants should be used anymore.

COATES: We bring you in here, Chief Ramsey because, of course, you have extraordinary experience, in this field.

And I suspect you have a particular take, because certainly, some could be dismissive, of the notion, of banning no-knock warrants, as naive, and how things actually happen, in terms of the execution of warrants. But I wonder if that assessment of naivete is actually one that is not accurate.

Do you think that officers could really do their jobs, and not have no-knock warrants, as a viable option? What do you think?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST, FORMER WASHINGTON D.C. POLICE CHIEF, FORMER PHILADELPHIA POLICE COMMISSIONER, CONSULTANT ON POLICING REFORM: Well, I don't think there should be an outright ban. But I do think there needs to be a very high bar set. And those kinds of warrants ought to be approved by the court, beforehand.


So, I haven't always been a Police Chief. I spent a lot of time, working in narcotics, back when I was in the Chicago Police Department. And I participated in the execution of hundreds of search warrants.

And very rarely did we go the no-knock route. It was not going to announce. So, when I heard the number of 139, in Minneapolis, I thought that was very high, in terms of the number of no-knock warrants.

But there are some high-risk warrants, where perhaps no-knock would be the best approach, and trying to execute the warrant safely, and be able to apprehend the individual, without that person being harmed either.

So, an outright ban would be something that I would not be in favor of. But I do think there has to be some very tight restrictions placed on it.

COATES: I mean, if you watch the footage here, and I'm sure you've all - you've both seen it. And obviously, you've issued a statement, Bob, about this, and you have sort of seen it as well.

When you look at it, I mean, does it appear to you that what you saw, was police following the appropriate protocol, for even an available no-knock warrant? And if not, do you think, if they had followed the protocol, precisely, that there is just unfortunately, the callous view of collateral damage being the result?

I mean, I hate to even phrase it that way, because a human life was lost. But in terms of thinking about the ways in which about bans, and how they will be applied, is even a proper protocol-following officer, at risk, for having the same result?

RAMSEY: Well, I watched the execution of the warrant, couple times. They used a key to get in. They probably had a landlord or someone give them a key, once they showed them the warrant. And, as soon as they opened the door, they announced themselves as police officers.

But the individual, Mr. Locke, was asleep. And we all know, when you're asleep, and you wake up suddenly, you really don't know what's going on, necessarily. He was armed. He did have a gun. What I saw in the video, I didn't see anything that violated training, or anything like that.

This is unfortunate. It is a tragedy. There's absolutely no question about it. I wish it had never happened. I'm sure everybody wishes that it never happened. But I didn't see any direct violation, not based on what I could see.

Now, we don't have all the angles, from all the different body cameras, especially the individual that actually fired the shot, to see the position of Mr. Locke, at the time, with the gun, in his hand, to know whether or not the threat was immediate, or not.

But not seeing that, it's very difficult to judge. But that'll all be part of the investigation. In my understanding, the State A.G. is going to be involved in the investigation.

COATES: Rob Doar, Charles Ramsey, wish we had more time together.

But I do note, Rob, the idea of being consistent, and the idea of the, what you stand for, in terms of Second Amendment, and having it apply to instances, like this, I think, will go a long way, to really evaluating no-knock warrants.

Thank you for your time, both of you.

DOAR: Thank you.

RAMSEY: Thank you.

COATES: We'll turn to a First Amendment fight, in just a moment. I'm talking about Sarah Palin, and her defamation lawsuit, against the "New York Times," how the legal case could have some of Palin's own supporters, hoping she doesn't win.

I'll tell you why, next.



COATES: There's new testimony, in the defamation trial, of Sarah Palin, versus the "New York Times."

The Times' former editorial page editor today, taking partial blame, for the 2017 editorial issue that falsely linked her Political Action Committee, to the 2011 shooting of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.

Quote, "This is my fault, right? I wrote those sentences and I'm not looking to shift the blame to anyone else, so I just want to say that, but yes, I mean, this is why we send playback to writers, because they're the ones who reported the story."

Constitutional Law, and media attorney, Theodore Boutrous, joins me now. And, full disclosure, Mr. Boutrous has represented CNN, in legal matters, before.

Good to see you, Theodore, on these issues, Ted, excuse me. In particular, I do wonder, first of all, this is the first libel case, against The Times, to go to trial, in what 20 years? Usually it's resolved, before even a jury.

Here we are, in a full-blown trial. What makes this case so different?

THEODORE BOUTROUS, CONSTITUTIONAL LAWYER, MEDIA ATTORNEY: These cases do, Laura, usually get dismissed, based on First Amendment grounds.

I think it's been, maybe even 50 years, since the "New York Times" has gone to trial. And so, it really is unusual. There were a couple of twists and turns in this case. But you are absolutely right that Mr. Bennet was a very good witness today, very contrite, very straightforward.

They made a mistake. And the First Amendment protects that. It only imposes liability, where a public figure sues, where there's actual malice. And there's just no way, Ms. Palin is going to prove that.

COATES: On that notion of actual malice, of course, it makes you assume that the person has a higher standard than, say, the average person.

If you're a public figure, there has to be actual malice shown, because the assumption is, you have thrust yourself, into the public limelight, therefore, you don't have the same benefits of the everyday person.

In terms of that actual malice standard, though, might this case present an opportunity, for this, to be revisited? I mean, we've got Supreme Court justices, who have wanted to reassess that standard in the past. Is this the vehicle now?

BOUTROUS: Sarah Palin is arguing that the New York Times versus Sullivan, the famous case that established the actual malice principle, should be overturned. Other parties are making the same argument.

It's a very dangerous time for freedom of the press, and for the American people, who want to get information, about powerful figures, like Sarah Palin, and others, with justices, at least two, saying they'd be willing to reconsider it. So, that's in play, in this case, and in other cases. It's very dangerous, for journalists, across the ideological spectrum.


COATES: Now, of course, it means it's a higher standard. But, Ted, let me ask you this. It's dangerous for journalists. But it's also so dangerous for those, who are the subject of their actual reporting, right?

Is there something that can be done for those, who say, "Look, maybe the bar is high, but maybe it's too high. I am wronged, as a person. And why should journalists have sort of a free pass?"

What do you say to that?

BOUTROUS: Well, the actual malice standard, in the First Amendment, doesn't just protect journalists. It protects everyone.

And the Supreme Court in the New York Times versus Sullivan case, in 1964, said, "In a democracy, we want open, caustic, vehement, sometimes nasty debate, to flourish, to be a check on the government, to be a check on public figures."

The "New York Times" standard though doesn't bar all libel suits. So, a private person can bring a case, and doesn't have to prove actual malice.

A public figure, like Ms. Palin, if she could prove that the "New York Times" intentionally made a false statement, about her? She'd have a case. But she can't prove it here. They corrected it very quickly. It's an extremely important principle, to our democracy.


BOUTROUS: It's going to be interesting to see how it plays out. I think Ms. Palin is going to lose.

COATES: We'll see - well soon see.

Ted Boutrous, thank you so much. Good hearing from you.

BOUTROUS: Thank you, Laura.

COATES: We'll be right back.


COATES: Thanks for watching. I'll be back, tomorrow night.

"DON LEMON TONIGHT" starts right now.