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CNN TONIGHT: Pence: "I'd Consider" Testifying Before January 6 Committee If Invited; Liz Cheney "Thinking" About 2024 Run After Losing 2022 Primary; Giuliani Appears For Six Hours In Front Of Fulton County, GA Grand Jury. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired August 17, 2022 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: The news continues. Let's hand it over to Alisyn Camerota and CNN TONIGHT.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST, CNN TONIGHT: Anderson. Thank you very much.

I'm Alisyn Camerota. And this is CNN TONIGHT.

As we all know, there's real people talk, and then there's Washington- speak. So does former Vice President Mike Pence really mean it, when he says he's willing to sit down, with the January 6th committee, to tell them what he knows?

It sort of sounded like he meant it, when he said this, in New Hampshire, today.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If there was an invitation to participate, I would consider it.

It'd be unprecedented in history for a vice president to be summoned to testify on Capitol Hill. But, as I said, I don't want to prejudge. If there's ever any formal invitation rendered to us, we'd give it due consideration.


CAMEROTA: But wait, there's more. The Chairman of the 1/6 committee, Congressman Bennie Thompson said that nearly two months ago, the panel did invite former Vice President Pence, to come in and talk to them.


REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): We would love to have former Vice President Pence's testimony. We have sought it. We've talked to his attorneys, in the past.


CAMEROTA: OK. And then what about the next part? Mr. Pence claimed it would be quote, "Unprecedented," for a former vice president to testify before Congress.

But former Vice President Gerald Ford did just that, in 1974. And he wasn't only a former vice president. He was a sitting president, when he appeared voluntarily, before a House Judiciary Subcommittee, to talk about his pardon of Richard Nixon.

In fact, there's a whole list of sitting presidents, and vice presidents, who have testified before congressional committees, including Abraham Lincoln, and George Washington.

A source, with knowledge, of Mr. Pence's thinking, cautions us not to read too much, into his comments, about actually considering it, citing the constitutional concerns that Pence alluded to.

So, if he's not really considering meeting with the committee, why did he say that? And we should note, he said it while he was in New Hampshire, at the Politics & Eggs Breakfast, a common stop, for candidates, considering a run for office. So, is that the sound of 2024 calling?

And then, of course, there's what Congresswoman Liz Cheney said, this morning, after losing her Wyoming primary, last night.


SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC NEWS HOST: Are you thinking about running for president?

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): It - that's a decision that I'm going to make in the coming months, Savannah. And I'm not going to make any announcements here this morning. But it is something that I am thinking about. And I'll make a decision in the coming months.


CAMEROTA: OK, joining me now, to parse all of this, is former Montana Democratic Governor, Steve Bullock; and CNN Political Commentator, Margaret Hoover, a former member of George W. Bush's White House staff, and a veteran of two GOP presidential campaigns; and CNN Political Commentator, Scott Jennings, a former Special Assistant, to former President George W. Bush.

Great to have all of you here, tonight.

OK, Margaret, you speak Washington-speak. What's up? What was Vice President Pence doing, when he said that?

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER MEMBER OF PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH WH STAFF, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN VETERAN: Vice President Pence is running for president. And he would like very much to be the next ambassador of Trumpism, for the Republican Party, without Donald Trump. He wants to demonstrate that he doesn't have the crazy, he is a constitutional conservative, and he can fuse the elements of populism and economic nationalism, with the conservatism of Ronald Reagan. And that's what his speech was, if you heard it.

But he's constitutional. And so, he wants to distance himself, from Trump. And he's in a state, Live Free or Die, with open primaries.

And there are a lot of people wondering, can he really differentiate himself from Donald Trump? If he can, it will be because he decides to testify, and demonstrate that what he did on January 6th was constitutional. It was in the interest of preserving our constitutional democratic republic, and he will demonstrate that he can be his own man.

So far, he has not done it. He has only spoken to 1/6 through proxies. He has spoken through his lawyer. He has spoken through Marc Short. But the country deserves to hear from him, if he wants to be President of the United States.


CAMEROTA: Governor, what do you think? And you, of course, speak presidential-candidate-speak, you having run for president yourself. So, do they say one thing, and do something entirely different?

STEVE BULLOCK, (D) FORMER MONTANA GOVERNOR, (D) FORMER MONTANA ATTORNEY GENERAL, CO-CHAIR, AMERICAN BRIDGE 21ST CENTURY: Look, Alisyn, what does he have to lose, in as much as, oh, maybe Trump won't like him anymore? Trump almost got him killed, or at least--


BULLOCK: --were working his supporters. Or that he'll lose some of the Trump base? They'll never be with him. I mean, he should go, if for no other reason, because he carried President Trump's water, for four years. And when he retires back to Indiana, he'll at least have one clean, conscious part of it.

But, at the end of the day, no, I don't see him testifying. I think that that was Washington-speak, or politician-speak.

CAMEROTA: But who's he appealing to? When he says, "Yes, I'd be open to testifying," who's he - who's the audience for that?


CAMEROTA: Who's he saying that to?

BULLOCK: Yes. I mean, from my perspective, who's Mike Pence's audience, at this point, anyway, right? From the perspective, in some ways, of doing "The Apprentice" veepstakes, to actually become Vice President, maybe and some would say that that was because he was about to lose his Indiana race.

He can't get the Trump folks. He - there's no real sort of, like, you guys can tell me, if there's any non-Trump lane left, in the Republican Party. So, I don't - look, I don't know who he's appealing for.

I think you're right, Margaret. He's trying to sound like, "I'll be a principled constitutional conservative." Well, you showed on that opening. Look at - it's not that uncommon, for vice presidents, and presidents, to actually testify.

CAMEROTA: It's not unheard of. It's not unprecedented. OK. Scott, what do you think?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH, COLUMNIST, USA TODAY: Well, I think he showed that he is a principal constitutional conservative on January, the 6th. He's got nothing left to prove.


JENNINGS: Also, I'm considering pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals, this weekend. I don't know if it's going to work out or not. I mean - I mean, look, the--

CAMEROTA: Yes. But do you just throw - take it out there? I mean, I hear you.

JENNINGS: I mean, yes, I just did.

CAMEROTA: You were just--

JENNINGS: I don't know if they're playing right now.


JENNINGS: Look, he's not going to testify before this committee. There's no chance of that.

CAMEROTA: I know that.

JENNINGS: And Republicans don't want him to because A, we know what he did. We know what his story is. We know what happened to him. I don't - I don't know that he has anything else to gain with it.

But I will tell you this. Republicans have, right, or wrong, decided that participating with this committee is participating with, the enemy.


JENNINGS: And so, therefore, if you're Mike Pence, and you want to be Margaret, the next ambassador of Trumpism, you're not going to go down that route. I'd be shocked if he does this.

HOOVER: Yes, right.

CAMEROTA: Right. But I mean, I guess I'm still just asking the question, why did he say that? JENNINGS: I think he's a polite man. And I think if you listen to what he said, I'd consider it. And then you listen to all the reasons why he wouldn't do it? It was quite clear what he was doing.

CAMEROTA: If Donald Trump gets into the race, as everyone around him thinks he will, then does that ruin Mike Pence's chances?

JENNINGS: Yes. Mike Pence would not be able to defeat Donald Trump, in a primary, especially in a fragmented one.

HOOVER: Yes. And that's the thing. I mean, the question you asked Steve was, Governor was, is there a lane that isn't Trumpism, in the Republican Party?

Donald Trump has a Vise-Grip on 35 percent of the Republican Party. That 35 percent happens to turn out in close partisan primaries. That's why Liz Cheney will no longer be the representative from Wyoming.

But there's another part of the Republican Party that doesn't have a Vise-Grip on them. If it is fragmented, to your point, then Donald Trump walks away with it. That's what happened in 2016.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Well--

BULLOCK: We'd only say like 35 percent, maybe of the Republican Party. But damn near every U.S. senator, almost every House member, and I think at the end of the day that infects a lot more than the 35 percent.

HOOVER: It has a spillover effect. I would just point out to - this is the corollary is that the only two of the 10 Republicans, who voted for impeachment that lived to tell - that will live to fight another day, are ones from States that have had election reform, OK? Close partisan primary--


HOOVER: --creates a skewed representation of Republicans, and that's why you have a skewed version in the House and in the Senate.

CAMEROTA: Is the wildcard here, Governor Ron DeSantis, in terms of - since he - would he run, if Donald Trump gets into the race, would he run?

And let me just throw out for you what Matt Schlapp, who's the Head of CPAC, said about that possibility.


MATT SCHLAPP, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE UNION CHAIRMAN: This whole question of whether or not it's Trump, or not Trump, or DeSantis, is, in essence, he's the incumbent.

It's almost like people are confused. Is - they ask the question, "Is he the leader, in support from these folks?" It's like yes. And I think he will be till he takes his last breath, because of everything he did.


CAMEROTA: Do you agree? So, Ron DeSantis is not going to run if Donald Trump runs?

JENNINGS: I'm not sure that's true. I mean, we got a long way to go, before Governor DeSantis has to make that decision.

I do think this. I do think over the summer, you could feel Republicans starting to maybe think about turning the page. I think this FBI fight has, in some ways, reminded everybody, who's the daddy, and who's the kids. And I think it's put--

CAMEROTA: What does that mean?

JENNINGS: I think it means Donald Trump is the de facto leader of the party. And I think he is the most likely nominee, doesn't make him the most likely person to capture the White House. But the rest of these candidates that were thinking of running against him all had to put out statements, supporting him.

CAMEROTA: Yes. But I'm just confused. How does having your home searched for 20 - and finding 20 boxes of classified material prove that you're the daddy?

JENNINGS: Let me tell you some about the Republican Party. The way you understand popularity, in the party, right now, is who has all the right enemies. And if Donald Trump's under, siege, from Joe Biden, Merrick Garland, and the mainstream media? He's got all the right enemies.

CAMEROTA: Governor?


BULLOCK: Under siege, by Christopher Wray, or by literally--


BULLOCK: --it was six years ago today when Donald Trump said, "You know what? I'm actually going to take care of classified information. And no one is above the law."

CAMEROTA: Is that right? Is today's the anniversary of that?

BULLOCK: Literally, today is the anniversary of that speech. So, it is stunning to me in some respects too that, because as Scott was saying, folks started to see openings. And this is what they want to get behind, like brazen violations, presumably, of the law, you know?

It ought to be like this could have been one of the differentiating points, certainly in that - that's what we saw Vice President Pence, to a degree, today. I mean, at the time when literally now law enforcement officers are being attacked?

CAMEROTA: Yes. There are the unprecedented level of threats, they say, to the FBI. That's what we're dealing with.

But I mean, I just think it's interesting that today, as you said, it was the anniversary. But also between what Liz Cheney was saying, and Vice President Pence, it felt like today, there were people, starting 2024. It felt like today something was starting.

HOOVER: Look, 2024 has been going on in the Republican Party for at least the last six months, maybe a year.

Many people will - I think somebody, like Ron DeSantis, will probably run regardless. I think Mike Pompeo will probably run regardless. I think there's a whole bunch of people, who are going to run regardless of whether Trump runs or not.

But the question is, if you have a fragmented field, and you have somebody who has a Vise-Grip on 35 percent of it? Donald Trump is in the strong position. He is the incumbent.

CAMEROTA: OK, friends, stick around. Thank you very much, for all of that.

So, what happened when FBI agents searched Mar-a-Lago? Donald Trump knows, and he has the surveillance video. So, one big question tonight is what is he going to do with it? That's next.



CAMEROTA: Tomorrow, a judge will decide whether to unseal the affidavit that led to the search of Donald Trump's home, and boxes of documents labeled "Classified" being found.

Tonight, CNN has learned some of the allies of former President Trump are urging him to publicly release surveillance footage, of FBI agents, executing that search warrant, on Mar-a-Lago, last week.

Some advisers have reportedly encouraged Trump, to reveal the footage, in order to energize the base, and rev up his claims, of political persecution.

Others have allegedly warned that releasing the tapes could backfire on Trump by providing video evidence of the sheer volume of material that was designated "Top Secret" and "Classified" that federal agents were forced to retrieve.

A person close to Trump says the surveillance video has been so closely held that they're not even sure, if Trump himself has seen the whole thing.

When Trump's son, Eric, was asked whether they'll release the footage, he said, "Oh yes, for sure."


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST, HANNITY: You still have the surveillance tape. Is that correct? Will you - are you allowed to share that with the country?



CAMEROTA: OK, there's a long delay there.

Joining me now, our Senior Political Analyst, John Avlon; also our Senior Legal Analyst, Elie Honig; and Scott Jennings is back with us.

Now, I want to see this tape, OK, Elie? I mean, I do. I want to see the tape.


CAMEROTA: I like watching at the FBI at work.


CAMEROTA: I really - I really do. But legally, it presents problems.

HONIG: Well, first of all, we all want to see it. I mean, we're all curious.


HONIG: And it would be interesting. Legally, just to get the legal stuff sort of set here, yes, you are allowed to videotape the FBI, while they're searching your home. Yes, the FBI is allowed to ask you to turn it off. And yes, you are allowed to tell them, "No, I will not."

Now, it's in Donald Trump's court. Remember, only Donald Trump has these videos. And I think you can see how this could play both ways.

On the one hand, a search warrant is inherently constitutionally, an invasive process. You have FBI agents, in your home, looking in your closets, looking in things, under things. And so that could be upsetting to people, and that could rally people, who don't like what happened, down there.

On the other hand, there will be footage of FBI agents, walking out of Mar-a-Lago, with classified documents.

On the other, other hand, there's something called the edit button, right? And there's nothing to ensure that if Donald Trump releases this, he will say, "Here's all of it." It'd be six hours. It will be - that would be boring.


HONIG: But he could just say "Here's a couple clips, of an FBI agent, poking around, in the closet," and that could inflame people.

CAMEROTA: Bingo! That's what they'll do, of course. So, they will edit it, they will release it. If it serves their purposes, they will release select clips of it, which is what might be the most aggressive, or whatever the most invasive stuff. That's what they would do, John. Right?

AVLON: Yes. Because they want to play the victim--

CAMEROTA: I mean, that's - I think we've just figured it out.

AVLON: --in order to fundraise off this and to rally the Republican base around him.

I don't think we should get too - we run the risk, getting the signal and the noise mixed up here. The outrage is not that the FBI got a subpoena to get highly classified documents that the former President took from the American people.

The outrage is that the former President took highly classified information that belongs to the American people. And when he was told not to, probably said, "They're mine."

CAMEROTA: "It's not theirs. It's mine."

AVLON: "It's not theirs. It's mine," right, which is, Margaret and I have a 6-year-old, and 9-year-old, who would be really familiar, with that line of argument.

Look, the real deal is this. And 100 fundraising emails, that's how many Donald Trump and his team pushed out in the week after the raid, according to "The Washington Post," a 100 fundraising emails. And their fundraising, a bit kind of low, in recent months, around 200 a day? All of a sudden, up to a million?

This is about Donald Trump trying to stir up controversy, to get attention, to consolidate the Republican Party around him, but more importantly, to make money off this. So, don't get fooled by this sort of phony controversy.

CAMEROTA: Here's what his former attorney, Ty Cobb, has said today, to CNN.

"If someone can persuade him this is somehow good for him and bad for his enemies, he'll do it. He doesn't have the lawyers to help him sort through these things strategically and is really thinking through them on his own."


JENNINGS: I think they think of things sometimes in terms of "Are we on offense or defense?" And I think, to get your house raided might make you seem like you feel like you're on defense. But in the days since, they probably feel like they're on offense, at least as it relates to the PR, of being - inside the Republican Party.

So, if they thought this video, even if it was just clips, would keep them on offense, would keep their people fired up?


JENNINGS: Oh, I have no doubt they wouldn't hesitate to do that, and I'm sure they're getting a lot of advice to do it.

CAMEROTA: It's kind of hazardous, to be Donald Trump's lawyer. Here, I mean--


JENNINGS: This guy's (ph) Rudy.

CAMEROTA: I have a graphic. I mean, that's just one example.

AVLON: Rudy.


CAMEROTA: Rudy, and what Rudy had to do today was just one example. I'll just pull up the graphic, right here. I mean, it hasn't gone well for a lot of people.

So, Rudy had his law license suspended. John Eastman has been ordered to testify. Jenna Ellis has been ordered to testify. Pat Cipollone, as we know has testified, before the DOJ grand jury. Pat Philbin is in the same predicament. Michael Cohen was convicted, went to prison. Lin Wood law license in jeopardy, Sidney Powell law license in jeopardy. Eric Herschmann had to testify before the DOJ. Yes, he wanted to--

HONIG: You know?

AVLON: I mean?

HONIG: Well, you know what none of those people did, really, until it was too late, was quit and come forward. Maybe Eric Herschmann. But right? They all went along with it, for the most part, until they got indicted, in Michael Cohen's case--

AVLON: Right.

HONIG: --or got subpoenaed by the January 6th committee. So, look, as a lawyer, you have a lot of power, especially if you're the lawyer for the President of the United States. And there are consequences, if you don't use it properly.

AVLON: This is - look, that list is extraordinary, because it reminds people, I think, just the vortex that Donald Trump can draw people into, even his legal counsel, which is why he's on something like his eighth team of lawyers. And--

CAMEROTA: Well particularly his legal counsel. I mean, I just want to stop and say that I talked about - to Michael Cohen, about this, last night. They get into more trouble than he does.

AVLON: Yes. CAMEROTA: Being a lawyer for Donald Trump is more hazardous than being Donald Trump.

AVLON: So far, yes.

CAMEROTA: I mean it is.

AVLON: And - but I think it is that vortex effect that he has, and also who he chooses to surround himself with, and how he - what he's asking his people to protect him from.

But this is the lesson, his lawyers are learning, the lesson that Republicans continue to learn, which is, this is Winston Churchill's definition of appeasement. It's feeding a crocodile, hoping it eats you last. You're going to get eaten!

JENNINGS: I think on that list, by the way, just - it's not fair to put Pat Cipollone--

AVLON: I agree with that.

CAMEROTA: I agree.

JENNINGS: --in a picture next to Lin Wood.

AVLON: I agree with that.

JENNINGS: I mean, there's miles apart - no one's - no one's argued Cipollone did anything wrong. And he was Counsel to the President, the Office of the President, which is different than being a - being Lin Wood--

AVLON: 100 percent.

JENNINGS: --or Rudy Giuliani.

CAMEROTA: You're so right. I'm going to fire somebody, later, for that - after this. But back to legally speaking?


CAMEROTA: One other thing Andrew McCabe, former Deputy Director of the FBI said is that if they release it, there can be faces of FBI agents, on that video. There can also be - you can cart things out, you can freeze the frame - and you can maybe see something that's top secret.

HONIG: Right.

CAMEROTA: It is dicey for them to release it. I mean, I know you're laughing.

AVLON: Like that's going to stop him?

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, you know?

HONIG: They already puts (ph) with the agency. (CROSSTALK)

CAMEROTA: I know. That's my point.

HONIG: The names have already come out.


CAMEROTA: And, obviously, the threats are at the highest level they've ever seen. But that would be terrible, if faces were revealed.

HONIG: It would be unethical, it'd be dangerous. I'm not sure it would be illegal, necessarily. And they're operating in this sort of gray - it's not even a gray area.


HONIG: It's not illegal to take video of an FBI agent, and put it out there. But let's be real, we know what the purpose of that would be.

AVLON: But I know - I mean, look--

HONIG: We know what would happen.

AVLON: --unethical and dangerous is the temperature of the water that he likes to swim in. I mean, let's be real. That's his swamp. So yes, that is not a disincentive for this team. Let's be very clear about that.

CAMEROTA: OK, everyone, thank you very much. Stick around, please.

Six hours is a long time to appear, before a Georgia grand jury, when you're a target of the Fulton County D.A.'s probe. But Rudy Giuliani did go to court today.

And what those six hours were filled with, and what it means for the criminal probe, into the attempt to overturn the 2020 election, in that state, all of that is next.



CAMEROTA: Rudy Giuliani spent six hours, in front of the Fulton County grand jury, in Georgia, today. That's a long time to say nothing! So maybe he said something?

As we've reported, Giuliani is now the target, of the District Attorney's investigation, into the Trump team's efforts, to overturn that state's election results.

CNN's Nick Valencia was at the courthouse, when Rudy Giuliani arrived, and had a chance, to ask about his plans.


VOICE OF NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Mr. Giuliani, when you met with Georgia lawmakers, did you lie to them?

RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: We will not talk about this, until it's over. It's a grand jury. And grand juries, as I recall, are secret.

VALENCIA: Do you believe President Trump is the ultimate target of this investigation?

GIULIANI: I'm not going to comment on the grand jury investigation.


CAMEROTA: So, Giuliani said nothing to reporters, when he left. One of the crimes that the D.A. is investigating is whether Giuliani made false statements, to state and government officials, like perhaps this one.


GIULIANI: You have live from Atlanta. You've got voter fraud right in front of people's eyes. Blatant, clear, obvious.

Look at her taking those ballots out, look at them scurrying around with the ballots.

The connection to Hugo Chavez, eventually, she followed up with Maduro.

It is quite clear this feeling hoax (ph).


CAMEROTA: Elie, Scott and John are back with me.

John served as the Chief Speechwriter, to Giuliani, when he was the Mayor of New York City.

AVLON: Right.

CAMEROTA: Elie, six hours, that sounds like more time than needed to say "I plead the Fifth."

HONIG: Yes. That is a full day of questioning. I mean, just for sort of context, if you had full questioning, for six hours, we have these rules of thumb? That's about 200 to 300 pages of transcripts.

So, what could have happened, for six hours? There's only three possibilities. He actually testified in substance. He took the Fifth, or he invoked the attorney-client privilege.

But you're right. I mean, to ask six hours' worth of questions, where it's just "Fifth, Fifth, Fifth," would be unbearable.


Legally, I will say, in Georgia, if someone's going to invoke the Fifth, they can't use what's called a blanket invocation, meaning "All this stuff? I'm taking the Fifth." You have to go question-by- question. So, it's excruciating.

How might we find out what Rudy Giuliani said? There's really only two groups of people, who know that. One is the prosecutors, and grand jurors. I'll lump them together. They cannot talk about it. That's actually illegal. That violates criminal laws against disclosing grand jury secrecy.

Rudy, however, can tell us whatever the heck he wants. He can tell us, "Here's everything they asked me. Here's everything I said," or his lawyer can, or some spokesperson for him. So, that's how we might find out what happened in that room.

CAMEROTA: Well that's really interesting, because I feel like we will find out what happened there.

HONIG: Perhaps.

CAMEROTA: Honestly, John, because you know, Rudy.


CAMEROTA: And I've interviewed him several times. Rudy likes to spin a yarn. I mean, Rudy does like to talk. He likes to tell his story. Don't you find it hard to believe that he would say nothing to investigators for six hours? Knowing him?

AVLON: I think he - I think he will invoke attorney-client privilege, because he's said as much. I think that is his baseline defense. I think, Rudy, with his daily radio show, or whatnot, is likely to at least talk around this. But as you heard him heading into court, he's trying to take, the grand jury seriously, as this secret process.

I think the problem is, is Rudy as he is today is miles away from Rudy, as he was, when he was a U.S. attorney, when he was running third, in the Justice Department, as a very young man, let alone as mayor.

CAMEROTA: You mean in terms of his judgment?

AVLON: I think his judgment, and his filter. And that's how he's gotten himself, in this mess. I mean, you saw those clips that were played, and those were abbreviated, and relatively dignified. But he did not tell the truth, when he testified - when he spoke to Georgia State legislatures - legislators.

Now, he may have believed he was telling the truth. But as we've already known, he said, well, he didn't bother to check up on the facts, it seemed too terribly important. So, he lied about an election, publicly, including in very serious and pivotal moments. And that's why he's now apparently the target.

CAMEROTA: I mean, what we just played there, Scott, one of the things that the District Attorney, Fani Willis, is looking to do is whether he made false statements. JENNINGS: Yes.

CAMEROTA: That's Exhibit A. We - he said it on tape. I mean, he was--


CAMEROTA: --these were taped before the Georgia - I mean, he was in front of subcommittees, in terms of Georgia lawmakers. He's on tape, saying it.

JENNINGS: Giuliani has been a liability to Donald Trump, since going back to the Ukraine matter. I mean, he was a huge liability, in that Trump kept him around. He made a fool of himself, in public, many times. In this aftermath of the November election, he obviously may have well-flown too close to the sun.

On Georgia, a lot of Republicans and me included have thought that Georgia matter has always been the most dangerous thing, to Trump- world, because they've actually got the President's voice on tape. You got Giuliani saying the things he did. So we'll see what happens here.

But Giuliani has been a major - Trump should have cut him loose, a long time ago, and now they're going to pay for it.

CAMEROTA: And yet, Elie, you also have issues with the District Attorney?

HONIG: I do.

CAMEROTA: And how she's been handling some of this?

HONIG: Yes, there's a little bit of dubious prosecutorial practice that's starting to creep into the mix.


HONIG: I'll tell you what I mean. As a prosecutor, generally speaking, it is good practice, good principle that if somebody is a target? Meaning, this is somebody I'm likely to indict, that's the definition of a target. And the D.A. has been quite aggressive, in announcing who's targets. Then you don't subpoena them.

Because the point of notifying someone they're a target, is you're respecting their rights. And you don't take somebody who you might indict, and try to lure them in, so they'll incriminate themselves.

And so, those two things, for the way I was taught, and the way all federal prosecutors, and most state prosecutors, are taught, you don't do those two things--

CAMEROTA: So, just so I understand?

HONIG: --and self--

CAMEROTA: So, after announcing that he's a target, she shouldn't have called him before the grand jury? HONIG: Right. And why would you? I mean, we had the scene, in front of the courthouse, we had the media there.

And I think there's questions that I'm starting to have about the judgment of this D.A. She got thrown off a case. She got conflicted out of a case, a few weeks ago, because she had political conflict of interest. She was subpoenaing somebody, where she had gone to, and attended, and headlined a fundraiser, for his electoral opponent.

One more thing, this is headlining some of the problems that are going to come, for this case. Because if this results in an indictment, and I agree, this is the most likely of the cases, to result, in an indictment of Donald Trump, you are going to see a potentially toxic mix of local electoral fundraising, and partisan politics, going into the courts. And that could be fatal for the case that she's going to ultimately bring.

AVLON: Yes. It could very well be. At least with regard to Donald Trump, and he's on tape, I mean, this also goes to questions of basic equal justice under law. He is shaking down or trying to shake down the Secretary of State to find votes. And, at some point, you got to ask yourself, "If that ain't wrong, what is, in a democracy?" and the role that Rudy played in all this.

Now, I will say it's important for us not to get over our skis, and speculate about what people say, in front of the grand jury, and all that. A court in the New York Times - the Southern District of New York, for example, declined to prosecute Rudy, with regard to Ukraine. That's an important fact.

So let's, you know - but the fact pattern that's public violates every single basic democratic norm that exists. And if other folks would be prosecuted for it, equal justice under law would indicate that that standard should apply.


JENNINGS: On the tape, having Trump's voice, on that tape, the part that we always play? It's bad. There is another section of that tape, which does some people think might help exonerate him, if they ever went to trial.

CAMEROTA: Like what - what part - what does he say?

JENNINGS: Well when they - when they get down to the end and they're just simply asking like, "Can we have more information about how this worked?" I mean, there's some people who have read into the back-end of that tape that we don't usually hear about that it could be helpful to them, if they go to trial. He would know better than me.

HONIG: Do we - do we - does anyone remember how long that tape is? How long that call is? It is 62 minutes.


HONIG: It's an hour and two minutes perfect call! (CROSSTALK)

JENNINGS: But the chunk - the chunk we - the chunk we always listen to, is terrible PR. There just may be other part of it that's better legally.

AVLON: It's not PR! It's not PR! This is the mistake we always make.

JENNINGS: I'm a PR person. This is how every--

AVLON: All right.

JENNINGS: When you're a hammer, the whole world's a nail, John!

CAMEROTA: But here it is what I want to ask you, Elie.

AVLON: This is the law (ph)--



CAMEROTA: What Scott was saying about, when we have those tapes, of Rudy saying that, to lawmakers?


CAMEROTA: If he didn't know he was lying, does that matter legally?

HONIG: If he didn't know. But in what universe could he not know those are lies?

CAMEROTA: I don't know!

HONIG: He'd have to be on another planet. The audacity and arrogance of Rudy to go in front of the Georgia State Senate, and legislature, and tell outright disprovable lies, is remarkable! And it's inexplicable. And it's been said before. But it's not a crime to go on to certain networks and lie. It's not a crime to--

CAMEROTA: No. I just mean in front of lawmakers. But that?

HONIG: But to go - yes, to lie to a state legislative body, is a straight-up crime and he straight-up lied. I don't see a way out of it for him.

AVLON: And he just got lulled. I think that's part of how the slippery slope that people get lulled into lying in the - to win the court of opinion, or court of public opinion. And they forget when they're actually under oath speaking to legislatures, the same standard should apply.

CAMEROTA: Gentlemen, thank you very much.

All right, so if you check your library shelves, in one school district, in North Texas, you won't be able to find the Bible! That's just one of the books that they are now getting rid of. You won't be able to find an adaptation of Anne Frank's diary. All of these were pulled, along with dozens of other books, so that they can be reviewed by a school board, again.

We'll talk about what else got flagged and why books are being banned.



CAMEROTA: Today is the start of a new school year in Keller, Texas. That's just near Fort Worth. The teachers showed up. The students showed up. The only thing absent? The books, lots of them.

41 books pulled off the library shelves, for review, though they were each reviewed, last year, after complaints, as well. Some of the books are about the LGBTQ experience, like "All Boys Aren't Blue," and "Gender Queer."

But also there are other books, like Toni Morrison's novel, "The Bluest Eye" that was also taken off the shelf, also an illustrated adaptation of Anne Frank's diary, and also the Bible? Yes.

The Keller School District allows parents, employees, and anyone, living in the district, to object to the books. Now, many of those books were put back on the shelves, after the review, last year.

Now, there are three new conservative school board members. They were praised, by one speaker, at a recent meeting, as being very un-woke, and they helped unanimously pass new policies, for library and educational materials.

The School District says books that meet the new guidelines, will be returned, to the libraries, as soon as it is confirmed that they comply with the new policy. Not impressing a parent, who was part of the committee that put many of the books, back in circulation, last year.


LANEY HAWES, KELLER SCHOOL DISTRICT PARENT: It was actually a really fast committee.

We discussed them. We decided that they were suitable for children's shelves. And they come in, this small group of people, and they say "No, we don't like your outcomes."


CAMEROTA: The committee may also decide to limit use of the materials to certain grade levels, or students, who have parental permission.

By one estimate, Texas schools, far and away, lead the pack, among 26 States, with books banned, in school districts. Pennsylvania and Florida follow. But even combined, their numbers hardly compare. So, just as school boards become the newest battleground, in the culture wars, the public school libraries become a more crucial front, in the debate, over what our kids should learn, or merely be allowed to read.

And that line gets moved, every time a new school board member is voted in, or a conservative parent complaints, or a liberal parent complains, or a neighbor with no kids, or whoever complained about the Bible, and later withdrew that challenge.

Tonight because of this review, it doesn't matter. Because of this new precedent, in Keller, Texas, those books won't be read.

And it's not just Texas. It's not just library books. Kids are caught up in the middle of culture wars, all across the country. And that means their parents are, as well, and their teachers, even sometimes their doctors.

So what's the fix? We'll talk about it next.



CAMEROTA: All right, so we just told you, about the battle, over books, in a Texas School District. But the classroom culture war is a hot-button issue, all over the country, everything, from how to teach history, to whether to arm teachers.

I just sat down, with a group of parents, from around the country who say they're worried, as their kids head back to school.

Here's a preview of our Pulse of the People conversation, which you'll see here, tomorrow night.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At the core of everything that people claim to be about CRT, or about diversity, and if they - say even affirmative action is infantilizing Black people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Zero evidence students are being taught to be oppressed, or feel oppressed, or feel guilty.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have a 17-year-old daughter. She has never come home, saying that she was forced to learn about someone else's culture or religion or whatever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We definitely need to teach our students that racism exists. We have to acknowledge it. But we shouldn't be teaching our kids that one, White people, are inherently racist, because that's not true.


CAMEROTA: OK, let's talk about all of this. John Avlon is back; as is the former Governor of Montana, Steve Bullock; and Margaret Hoover, the Hoover-Avalon (ph) are reunited.

So guys, I just sat down with this group of parents. School starts, in some places, today, in some places, in the next couple of weeks.



CAMEROTA: Parents are anxious. The anxiety level is really high. I mean, not just school shootings, though. Obviously, that I think just drives everybody's anxiety up so high. But then all of the culture war stuff, and the curriculum stuff, and the teacher shortage stuff? It is a scary time to be heading back to school.

And you just heard those parents, Steve. They are very concerned about what their kids are learning in the classroom because they feel out of control. They're scared, I mean, basically is the bottom line. And are their kids somehow being indoctrinated into a way that they don't feel comfortable with? I'm sure you confronted some of this, in Montana.

BULLOCK: Like, Alisyn, I think back to when I was in junior high, my mom was on the school board. And all of a sudden, they tried to ban this book called "Our Bodies, Ourselves."

CAMEROTA: I remember that one.

BULLOCK: Like let's not allow women, high school women, to learn about their own bodies.

At the end of the day, in some respects, I mean, I think it's grotesque. It's prejudice dog whistles that are driving a lot of this. And I don't think, you know, we want to think it's just sort of from the ground-up. There's a lot of money being spent to actually make this part of the culture war.

CAMEROTA: By whom?


BULLOCK: By whom? You could do a quick Google of "CRT and dark money," and find literally millions and millions of dollars of dark money groups.

Because I think that in part, look, people don't - would much rather say "Let's have this culture war," or talk about this, than talk about why not one Republican would vote to allow the government, to actually negotiate drug prices, things like that. So, it's driving it.

And this isn't to say - look, I'm a parent. I worry about my kids in school. Now, I actually talk to my kids, and the teachers. They didn't even know what CRT was, until Fox News started running it, every night.

CAMEROTA: Yes, that's very interesting. I'm glad you're saying that Governor, because one of the things that we'll hear, tomorrow night, from this panel of parents, is that there's a lot of worry, about CRT. But when you drill down and ask them individually, "Is it being taught in your school?" They have a hard time coming up with examples.

However, they see it on the internet. And, of course, that's enough, to make them think it's happening somewhere. And that does increase the anxiety. And I don't think we can dismiss that. I just don't think that--


CAMEROTA: --just because not happening in your school doesn't mean that a parent isn't anxious about it.

But Margaret, I mean, do we need Book Police?

HOOVER: Book Police is actually it's not new, right?


HOOVER: We don't need Book Police. But we have been through phases and phases, in this country, where each generation has decided to clamp down, and sort of decide that some material isn't appropriate.

I mean, you referenced "Our Bodies, Ourselves." But it happened for generations before. It's happening now. The truth is, right now, there is a massive wave of conservative activism around this. Most people don't know what CRT is. CRT is a very arcane legal theory, from the 1970s, which almost nobody, except for legal scholars--

CAMEROTA: That's true. But, as you know, people use it as a shorthand.

HOOVER: It has become a blanket term.

CAMEROTA: They use it as a blanket term, and shorthand.

HOOVER: It has become a blanket term, for politicization of the progressive left, in our schools, to teach a certain doctrine, to our children. That has - frankly, all it does is serves to polarize and confuse.

AVLON: Sure.

HOOVER: And the truth is, there are elements of truth to this notion that yes, we should be teaching a much broader version of American history, and a much more inclusive version of American history. And we can do that without being sort of preached to--


HOOVER: --and divided.

CAMEROTA: Except, when we start doing it, as curriculums have started to open up, and have started to try to add more context, and all of that, and history, people - there is pushback.

AVLON: Right.

CAMEROTA: People are fighting that. People are fighting are what we grew up with in terms of American history, and that's what's part of behind CRT, and people claiming that as they're--


AVLON: This is a downstream effect of tribal politics. It is. And I think we should be teaching a more expansive view of American history, and we should be teaching a view of American history, that's the good, as well as the bad and the ugly. But what - you're affirming that this country is still a great country.

And I think where people get concerned is the feeling that in the education, it can slip into indoctrination. But a lot of this is being pumped up, as a fear-mongering tool, under the frame of parental rights, because it polls well.

The downstream effect, though, on this is also books being taken out of classrooms. Book bannings is nothing that anyone, who says they're in favor of free speech, should get within a mile of.


AVLON: And instead, they're not condemning it barely (ph).

CAMEROTA: But you know what else it is? It's the internet. As I learned, from the parents, last night, and I always learn so much, from these panels, the "Libs of TikTok?"


CAMEROTA: This is--


AVLON: Right.

CAMEROTA: These are filled with like viral memes, where this is started by a woman, as I understand it, a real estate - a conservative real estate agent, who considers herself sort of a culture warrior. And then it's amplified by hosts on Fox, and by Ted Cruz, and by Matt Gaetz. And it's anything. It's not fact-checked.

BULLOCK: No, that's right.

AVLON: No, it's not (ph).

CAMEROTA: It could be an actor on there. It could be anything. And it is allegedly, from "Liberals, trying to indoctrinate your kids," and it scares parents.

HOOVER: They've made a boogeyman.


HOOVER: They've made a boogeyman out of this thing. But that also gets traction, because it's in response to, a changing of the curriculum, to diminish some of the core themes, of American civics education. And that is actually a real thing that many people are concerned about. People are concerned that their kids aren't learning about the Constitution. They're not learning about the Founding generation. They're not learning about sort of all the things about American history, and the things that - the reason that we're arguing about January 6th, than why the Constitution was challenged, a lot of people don't even understand the premise, because they're not learning--


HOOVER: --the basics of civics education in our country.

BULLOCK: And we've been look - and that's something, like Sandra Day O'Connor, one of the main things she was working on, is there should be civics education--


BULLOCK: --in every--



BULLOCK: --like that's an area, where we ought to all be able to agree on.

HOOVER: Right.

BULLOCK: Not about banning the Diary of Anne Frank?

CAMEROTA: The Bible?

HOOVER: Or the Bible.

AVLON: Or the Bible, yes.

BULLOCK: Really?

AVLON: Would you buy - when you're banning in the Bible, you're probably doing it wrong, right? I mean, but that is exactly right. We need to be investing more in civic education. That can be something that unites us.


But still people get sucked down this rabbit hole of what really is just fear-mongering, from the fringes. But it has a real-world impact. You mentioned "Libs of TikTok." There are threats coming into Boston Children's Hospital.


AVLON: As a result of one of the memes--


AVLON: --they pushed.

CAMEROTA: Yes. They were trying to claim that they were giving girls, under 18, hysterectomies. It's not true!

And then Boston Children's Hospital has to spend precious time, today, knocking it down, putting out statements, just because - I mean, again, this is nonsense that's being put on the internet.

AVLON: Yes. But it gets amplification, has a real-world impact. And the issues serve to distract, you know?

Governor Bullock made an important point about this is - this - all the time being spent on these culture war issues, are times not talking about lowering prescription drug prices, or how to help people, where they live.

And I do think that, look, Democrats fall into this trap, when they get caught playing defense, on the culture wars. What they really should be doing is what an Op-Ed that you wrote, is building out Red state, and rural Democrats talking about the issues that people care about, and not getting sucked into these culture war debates, because they're frankly, losers. What's really toxic is when they're based on lies.

CAMEROTA: Absolutely.

Well, I look forward to you all watching my Pulse of the People panel, tomorrow night, with these parents.

AVLON: Us too!

HOOVER: We look forward.

BULLOCK: Us too!

CAMEROTA: I learned so much from it.

OK, thank you all. And we will be right back.


CAMEROTA: Thanks so much, for watching.

And join me tomorrow, in the "CNN NEWSROOM" from 2 PM to 4 PM Eastern. And I'll be back here, with you, tomorrow night.

And with that, "DON LEMON TONIGHT" starts right now.

Over to you, Don.