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CNN TONIGHT: Unsealed Document Sharpens Focus On Trump As Possible Subject Of Federal Criminal Investigation; McConnell Plays Down GOP Senate Takeover Chances; DeSantis Claims Teachers Share "Woke Gender Ideology" At School. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired August 19, 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: Anderson, thank you.

I'm Alisyn Camerota. This is CNN TONIGHT.

White House officials are worried, CNN has learned, about the trove of classified and top secret materials, found in former President Donald Trump's home. The Biden White House has been virtually silent, publicly, on the danger that those sensitive documents pose.

But a senior administration member says that privately, officials are expressing deep concern about the material that Trump was trying to hang on to. And according to a source, U.S. Intelligence officials are also worried about whether any of it puts their sources, and methods, at risk.

We still do not know who had access to the classified materials, in the basement, of Mar-a-Lago. Even Trump's own lawyer cannot answer that question.


LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: And only one or two people had access to that room, to your knowledge?

CHRISTINA BOBB, LAWYER FOR FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP: That's my understanding. I mean, I would have to check with, you know, the Maintenance of that area. But my understanding, it is very small number of people that could get in there.


CAMEROTA: OK. Did the Maintenance staff have access to that room? Did Trump's family have access? Did Rudy Giuliani? Trump's lawyer also tried to claim that getting into Mar-a-Lago is tough.


BOBB: Mar-a-Lago is secure in and of itself. Just getting on to the compound is hard.


CAMEROTA: But we have seen dignitaries and wedding parties that have been there. We've also seen friends of Donald Trump's, who eat dinner there, every week.

How about the Chinese national, who was convicted of trespassing there, three years ago?

Prosecutors suggested she could have been trying to spy on the U.S., and say she had a flash drive, containing malware, in her possession, at the time, as well as a signal detector, and four cell phones. Somehow, she was able to bring all of that into the private club. There was also another Chinese national, accused of trespassing, at Mar-a-Lago, later that year.

So, taking classified documents, from the White House, is a crime. It may be many crimes, as spelled out, in the application for the search warrant. According to that document, the specific crimes, being investigated, include, quote, "Willful retention of national defense information."

We know the National Archives and the DOJ tried to get those classified documents back, for more than a year. According to three of Trump's advisers, as quoted in "The New York Times," when asked to return the classified documents, Trump said, quote, "They're mine."

The ex-President often claims that things belong - that actually belong to the American people are his.



All I can do is ask my generals.

I authorize my military.

My people are not shy (ph).

My people are so smart.

In my Justice Department.

I want my farmers, I love my farmers.

Look at my African American over here. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: 18 top Trump administration officials are pushing back, on the former President's claim that he had a standing order, to declassify whatever top secret documents, he wanted.

Among them, former acting Trump White House Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, who, I spoke with a short time ago.


CAMEROTA: Thanks so much for being here, Mick.


CAMEROTA: So, Mick, are you worried about the 20-plus boxes of classified material that was sitting in Donald Trump's basement, and who might have seen it?

MULVANEY: Worried? I'm not worried. I'm curious.

I saw the list that things that were moved from Mar-a-Lago. And the one thing that caught my attention, along with, I think, the attention of most people was that one - or that one list that said there were various items that were marked TS/SCI. Alisyn, that's the serious stuff. That's top secret and compartmentalized information. That's not supposed to be there.

Now, that being said, it's really hard to sort of understand how it gets there, in the first place. These things are not sort of accidentally moved anywhere. These documents are marked. They are clearly known to folks to be TS/SCI. And there're supposed to be folks sort of tracking where they are.

So, the fact that that document or there could be, it says, various documents, or there is, is a question to me. It concerns me. I'm not sure it's enough to justify a search warrant. So, I'd be curious to see what that have to do with it (ph).


CAMEROTA: But tell me that Mick, I'm curious about that. Because if they're top secret, as you say, the most secret compartmented info, why wouldn't that warrant a search warrant?

MULVANEY: Well, a search warrant is really only warranted if it's an emergency, right, if the evidence is that either someone's going to see it, who shouldn't, or if the evidence is going to disappear, or be destroyed, or be moved. There's an urgency to a search warrant that goes above just a subpoena.

CAMEROTA: Why do you think President Trump took all those classified documents on?

MULVANEY: Yes, I've been going over this one in my head. And Donald Trump would not have taken it, if he didn't perceive it to be, in his own interest, a benefit to him. It's either that, or it's just sheer sort of oversight, or inadvertence, throw a bunch of documents, in a box, because you think they're yours. And they're gone.

This is going to be a big part of any subsequent criminal charge, Alisyn, because they're going to have to show willful intent that the President meant to take the documents, meant to withhold the documents, whatever. You don't sort of accidentally break the law, in this circumstance. They're going to have to show that he was willful or acted intentionally.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, the application for the search warrant gave us a little bit more insight. It described the probable cause as, quote, "Willful retention of national defense information." And that sounds serious.

MULVANEY: It does. And it sounds like they have in - they have to have evidence to that. They can't just say it, right? They have to present evidence to the court, to show probable cause. Now, it's not the same level of evidence that you have in a trial. And certainly probable cause is much lower than beyond a reasonable doubt.

But you can't just sort of willy-nilly say, "Oh, we've got a hunch that there's documents in there." They have to have something. And the fact that they could fill out that affidavit tells me they think that they have something.

CAMEROTA: Mick, how much responsibility, do you think, falls on the people around Donald Trump, whom he tasked, reportedly, with dealing with the National Archives? People like Mark Meadows, back in January, and then in June, John Solomon and Kash Patel.

MULVANEY: Ultimately, the President is responsible. He just is. That's him. That's Biden. That's Obama. That's Bush. The buck stops at the Oval Office. It absolutely does.

That being said, as a former Chief of Staff, I thought it was my job, and my duty, to make sure that I was making the President as successful as possible. And that includes following the law.

And if we were there, if my team had been there, we would have been paying very close attention, to the Presidential Records Act, to the requirements of the National Archives.

My gut, Alisyn is that things were so hectic and so chaotic, especially after January 6th, that nobody was watching the shop there. People had either left, or trying to leave, or looking for their next job. And it was sort of just let's get out of town.

So again, that goes back to the willful intent versus inadvertence. But you're correct in saying that the FBI thinks they have some intention, some evidence of intention. But it wouldn't surprise me if the place, in the final days, of that Trump administration, were absolutely chaos, in the building.

CAMEROTA: But if it were operating normally, the Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, would have been in charge of that?

MULVANEY: Yes. I think you can probably make the case that the Oval Office wasn't operating anywhere near whatever normal is, long before January 20th, and long before January 6th.

You don't get January 6th, with a properly functioning West Wing. You don't get inadvertent collection of documents with a properly functioning West Wing. You don't get somebody going on TV, and saying "Oh, the President can wave a magic wand and declassify everything he wants to," in a properly functioning West Wing. And that's what we're seeing out in the last days of the Trump administration.

CAMEROTA: And, by the way, that waving the magic wand, you've basically called nonsense?

MULVANEY: I know what I know, which is that we didn't have it when I was there. I was not aware of it, when I was there. It would surprise me, if they did it later. I know that we declassified some documents, when I was there.

I think we went through this process, on declassifying, for example, the transcript of the phone call with President Zelenskyy of Ukraine that led to the first impeachment. If there were a blanket sort of declassification order in place, why would any of us have worried about declassifying the transcript with Ukraine?

CAMEROTA: And when you say that there was a process, for declassifying it, like the call with Zelenskyy, how complicated was that process?

MULVANEY: No, it wasn't complicated. It was just real. It was formal. It was - there were things to do. There was a paper trail to lay out. And there was, just like everything that happens in the White House, nothing sort of just happens by magic. There are rules that govern how we handle documents.

We all knew these rules. The Staff Secretary is a position in the White House that is responsible for things like preservation of records, and will be heavily involved in declassifying any records, as would the White House Counsel's Office.

I'd be curious to know if Pat Cipollone, who I think may have testified last week, I don't know if I'm getting that right, if I asked him about the classification of documents? Because it would be unheard of, unheard of, I think, to go through a declassification process, and not involve the White House Counsel's Office.

Things in the White House are supposed to work in a proper way. And it sounds like maybe they didn't, again, in the late days of the Trump administration.

CAMEROTA: So, Mick, in your experience, how careful was Donald Trump, with classified material?


MULVANEY: He was - he was pretty good. Again, I don't want to go into specifics, on classified.

Trump was an informal guy. There's no question about that. But he knew the severity of these documents. And more importantly, there was a system in place to make sure that regardless of how the President wanted to act, or behave, there was a system, to protect things.

I've said before. Yes, I saw the President rip documents in half, not confidential documents, but just draft documents. Not supposed to do that. But there's a way to fix it, which is you just find the pieces, and you tape them together.

I used to rip up documents, in the private sector, all the time. It's not sort of an indication of any ill intent.


MULVANEY: But we had--

CAMEROTA: Yes. But I mean, Mick, sorry to interrupt. But I'm talking about the stuff that we all knew. I mean, there were moments, publicly, like when he shared the - in 2017, he shared the classified Israeli information with the Russians. And the Israelis were apoplectic, about that. So, how is that not sloppy and dangerous?

MULVANEY: Again, I wasn't in the White House, at that time. I was over at the Office of Management and Budget. So, my experience with that is just through what I saw, from the media.

You're supposed to handle it. The staff is supposed to get involved. If the President has confidential materials, on his desk, at the end of one meeting, which is possible, and likely, and happens, right? The staff comes in to make sure that all of that stuff is gone and put in the proper place before the next meeting takes place.

They can't control the president, the president's going to do what the President's going to do. But there are mechanisms inside every properly functioning West Wing to make sure the law is followed, documents are preserved, and that classified information is treated as classified information.

CAMEROTA: So, why have you - I want to ask you about this, because former Vice President, Mike Pence, has said publicly that he might be willing to consider speaking to the January 6th committee.


CAMEROTA: Should he do that?

MULVANEY: Yes, I don't see the harm in it. I think Mike knows it that - the Vice President, I'm sorry. Vice President Pence knows it to be what I believe it to be, which is it's a political thing, right? It is a committee of politicians, who don't like Donald Trump, trying to make Donald Trump look bad. That's fine. That's politics in Washington, D.C.

But they still collected some really good information. When you get the Republican attorney general, under oath, giving testimony? I testified to the committee. I can assure you, I think I gave them good, and true, and accurate information.

We should never be afraid of good and true and accurate information. And I know that Mike Pence is not. So, I would have no difficulty with him testifying. I think if he has information that he think would shed light, on January 6th, so that we can take steps, to make sure it doesn't happen again, I think that would be a valuable thing, for him to do.

CAMEROTA: And how could he not have relevant information, on January 6th, given what we saw him endure?

MULVANEY: I think that's fair. He had private conversations with President of the United States. And I think it may shed some light on the situation. I would not - I would not be disappointed to see Mike testifying.

CAMEROTA: Mick Mulvaney, great to talk to you. Thanks so much for your time.

MULVANEY: Thanks, Alisyn.


CAMEROTA: So, is any of this stuff affecting Republican candidates? Something has shifted, in the optimism, about the Republicans' prospects, in November, and their chances of winning the Senate.

Harry Enten, and other very special political minds, who I'm not going to tell you who they are. It's a surprise, next.



CAMEROTA: The political winds, heading into the midterms, appear to have shifted, a bit.

Just four months ago, the Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell said, quote, "Obviously, the atmosphere could not be better. I think it is an overwhelming likelihood that the wind will be at our back, and that's obviously very important."

But now, he says this.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I think there's a probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate.

Candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome.


CAMEROTA: Bringing our stellar political minds, we have Democratic strategist, Paul Begala. We have former RNC Communications Director, Doug Heye; as well as CNN Senior Data Reporter, Harry Enten.

Great to have be spending Friday night with you guys. Thanks for being here.


CAMEROTA: OK, as a Republican, Doug, what's happening? Do you feel the political winds have shifted, in terms of at least the Senate and Republicans' chances?


One is Joe Biden's approval rating is starting to inch up a little bit. It's still drastically lower than where Obama's was, at this point, in 2010. But he's inching up. He's had some good news.

Two, we've seen what's happened in Kansas, which is what's given Democrats, some enthusiasm, given Republicans, I think, rightfully some pause.

And then what Mitch McConnell referenced, which is candidate quality. And what he's saying is some of these candidates don't have a lot of quality.

And for Mitch McConnell, I'm reminded of, as you think of so often, Frank Sinatra, who sang "I've heard this song before." Mitch McConnell heard this song with Christine O'Donnell and Sharron Angle in 2010, then, with Richard Mourdock, in Indiana, and Todd Akin, in Missouri.

He's very scared that some of these candidates, who have very winnable seats, ultimately may not win, because they just don't have the quality.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about that. So, here are some of the net favorability ratings, of some of the GOP Senate candidates. And they're not - these are the ones that aren't great. So, let's pull this up. This is Blake Masters down 4 points, Herschel Walker, 5 points, Mehmet Oz, 20 points. This is favorability, again, Ron Johnson down 8 points.

So Paul, do you think this is about lack of quality candidates, or what the Democrats are doing, as Doug said?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, a little of both. Democrats are on a roll. I think, Doug, honorably gives them credit for that.

But midterm elections are always a brake pedal, and almost always a brake pedal, on the President's party. This is beginning to look like people want to brake pedal on those guys, right, that they're too eccentric. They're too weird. They're too out of the mainstream. And that clusters around well I'm calling it, the tag election for Democrats, Trump, abortion, guns. Those are three things, where swing voters, not - and the Democratic base both agree.


So, it excites the base of the Democratic Party, and it engages the swing voters. Because the Democrats are arguing on - Trump is out of control. Abortion - gas prices are getting better, abortion rights are not. And that's what Democrats are telling both swing voters. And then the gun issue, which is just such a tragedy.

So, yes, it's swung in Democrats' favor, but it's because the very sensible need to hit the brakes, main actually redound to the Republicans' detriment, this time, which almost never happens.

CAMEROTA: Harry, do the numbers reflect these shifting political winds, against the Republicans?

ENTEN: I think they do. And they reflect them, in a number of ways, right? We see them, in the Senate races, where we see Democratic candidates, ahead, in those States that you just mentioned, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Georgia. But you also see it nationally.

And there was a very interesting sort of thing that we saw, in our last CNN/SSRS national poll, in which we asked the favorability ratings, of Joe Biden, and we also asked it about the Republican Party.

And what we saw was, in fact, Joe Biden actually had a higher favorable rating than the Republican Party. But there was a slew of voters, who didn't like either one of them, about a fifth of the electorate.

But I think that Democrats would be more than happy to play on that ground, especially given in those key Senate races that we mentioned, all the Democrats have positive net favorability ratings. So, it's not just that the Republicans are disliked. It's that the Democrats are actually pretty well-liked in those states.

CAMEROTA: So Paul, I mean, you have, as a Democrat, have - must be pleased with the spate of legislation--


CAMEROTA: --that Joe Biden has signed recently. But are you surprised that his numbers, his approval numbers, are not higher?

BEGALA: It's going to take time. People haven't had a chance to digest it yet.

But this Inflation Reduction Act, you know, what the Democrats did that they never do? They branded it. God bless Joe Manchin! He called it the Inflation Reduction Act. Gee, what does that do? Ask my mama! It's like the greatest movie title ever, "Snakes on a Plane." What's that about? Democrats always called their movies, "Harold and Maude." What the hell is that?

So, this is going to - Biden can say, "Look, I'm lowering your cost of prescription drugs. I'm lowering your cost of health insurance. I'm lowering your cost of energy. I'm lowering the federal deficit."

And for once, the Democrats are actually focused, and branded, and I couldn't be happier about them. I was a little astonished, I have to say. But I credit Manchin, for that actually.

CAMEROTA: As a Republican, and communications expert, do you see that they've changed their branding, in a positive way?

HEYE: In some ways, yes. In some ways, no. And this is where Republican mistakes are also getting the way. Republicans had a very potent issue on pushing back on Democrats on defunding the Police.

BEGALA: Right.

HEYE: But all it takes is a few loudmouth members of Congress to say "Defund the FBI," and you've removed a very potent issue, for Democrats - or for Republicans, to push back on Democrats.

But I'd say one thing. In 2010, at the Republican National Committee, our national - our magic number, for Barack Obama, was 46. We felt if he was at or below that, we'd take back the House. Joe Biden is well below that. And that still is going to have a massive impact on these elections, as we're moving to early voting and Election Day. It's an albatross still, for Democrats.


ENTEN: I would just say, obviously, I think the House is a different ballgame than the United States. And I think everyone would still say that Republicans are favored to take back the House. But there have been a number of years, in which the House and the Senate have gone in different directions.

HEYE: Yes.

ENTEN: We mentioned 2010. 2018 was similar. And I would also note that historically, the relationship between a President's approval rating, and what happens in the Senate, isn't as ironclad as you might think, right?

In 2018, Republicans actually gained Senate seats. I'd also mentioned 1982, where Democrat - where Democrats, in fact, did not gain Senate seats with Ronald Reagan, in the White House, and approval rating, in the low 40s.

So, the Senate, and the House are just kind of two different pictures. But I kind of liked that. It makes politics a little fun.

HEYE: They always are, yes.

CAMEROTA: Gentlemen, thank you.

HEYE: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Really interesting to get your take on all of that.

And stay tuned, for a very important conversation, ahead, with parents, across the country, debating how to address the problem, of school safety, and gun violence, in the country, and to keep their kids safe in schools.

We have a Pulse of the People, next.



CAMEROTA: It's back-to-school time, across the country, and parents are anxious about a lot of things. But top of mind is their kids' safety, amid the rash of school shootings.

So, we gathered a group of parents, from across the geographic and political spectrum, to talk about their fears, and possible solutions for keeping their kids safe.

Here now, part two of our Pulse of the People.


CAMEROTA: Show of hands, how many of you are worried, or very worried, about your own children, becoming the victims of school shootings?

OK. So, four of you have raised your hand, two haven't.

Wesley, you would say that that was - that is your top issue. So, why do you feel it so acutely?

WESLEY DONEHUE, SOUTH CAROLINA FATHER OF PRE-SCHOOL & ELEMENTARY SCHOOL STUDENTS: Because I saw it on camera. I mean, because I turn on CNN, and I see that a bunch of officers, are sitting outside, of a school door, refusing to go in, while an armed gunman is in there, killing kids.

I'm actually two blocks, three blocks, from what, a shooting at a church, where a guy walked in, to a Sunday school class, and killed a number of African Americans, as they were studying the Bible.

And what I don't understand are these liberals that are living in a fantasy world where evil doesn't exist. Mankind was built on violence. Violence is our history. Violence is our present.

CAMEROTA: Go ahead.

VANESSA SPENCER, CALIFORNIA MOTHER OF HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS: I'm so perplexed how that just became a liberal problem. Are you aware of the NRA and the unbelievable (inaudible)?

DONEHUE: It's liberal one (ph) because of the way you're denying.

SPENCER: And let's just be honest.


DONEHUE: Because - because--

SPENCER: We have a gun problem in America. It has nothing to do with liberals or Democrats. There are more guns in America than there are people.

DONEHUE: Vanessa, I a 100 percent agree with you. That isn't a liberal problem or a conservative problem. It is a gun problem.

But it's the Liberals that are living in this fantasy land, as if we're, where we have magic, and we could just snap fingers, and all those guns go away, and there's nothing you're going to be able to do, with a law that's going to eliminate those guns.

SPENCER: The Biden administration just passed, a liberal administration, just passed the first gun reform policy, in decades. So, I really find it disingenuous that the argument you have, about fear for your children, gets squared in the box of liberals.

CAMEROTA: Wesley, what's your answer? What's your solution?

DONEHUE: I don't have an answer. I'm not smart enough to figure that out. That's why I've never run for the U.S. Senate.


What I do know is that the only way to fight violence is with more violence. And that's why I carry a gun. I have one on me at all times. It's why I take hand-to-hand courses. That's why I go to the gun range, two times a month. And that's why I take active-shooter courses.

ROBIN SCOTT, VIRGINIA MOTHER OF ELEMENTARY & MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS: To say that we can't magically wave a wand, and get rid of the gun violence problem, is just a ridiculous notion. Nobody wants to wave a wand.

88 percent of Americans want background checks, 64 percent support large capacity magazine bans, 75 percent support federal gun sale tracking, 80 percent support requiring concealed carry permits, 84 percent support preventing gun sales to dangerous people that mental health professionals have deemed dangerous.

There are solutions. We just are not willing to give any of them a chance.

ACQUANDIST UY, FLORIDA MOTHER OF MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS: The real issue, under gun control, isn't even gun control. It's mental health. You're talking about evil people. Yes, some of those people were bad. But some of them were just mentally ill. And they needed treatment.

CAMEROTA: Hold on guys. Just let me get to Cris, for one second. Because Cris, you're a Military veteran?

CRIS CANDICE TUCK, VIRGINIA PARENT OF ELEMENTARY SCHOOL STUDENTS: Yes, I served. I served in the combat zone, supporting operations, in Afghanistan. I've used an M16. It's a weapon of war. We're seeing things like the AR-15, which are modeled after M16s.

And I'm a pro Second Amendment guy. I believe in carrying a gun. When my kids are old enough that I feel it's safe to have one in the house, I'll definitely have a weapon.

But the problem is, I think, with the approach that was first talked about? First, blaming this on any political party, that's a failure to start with. And the reason why is because as soon as you start looking at a party, instead of a solution, you lose track. It needs to be an all-of-the-above approach.

The assault rifle ban, that went into effect, reduced shootings significantly. After it expired, they went back up. That's clear proof that legislation has a concrete effect.

My daughter was born the day before Sandy Hook. So, I literally was in the hospital, holding my first child, when I realized that elementary schools were no longer safe.

DONEHUE: Cris, I'm in no way saying that we just get on and get over it and move on. In fact, I agree with a lot of the steps that were mentioned legislatively, OK? I'm not saying, "Don't do anything."

What I'm saying is, when you're doing background checks, and you're trying to fix the mental health issue, or red flag laws, what I'm saying is that those evil people are still going to find a way. That's all I'm saying.

So, on top of the legislative issues, we need armed guards. I would be for allowing teachers to carry, when they want to carry, so that they're not stuck in a room, with an armed gunman. All I'm saying is that liberals pretend that guns are going to just disappear, and that evil people aren't going to use them.

CAMEROTA: Show of hands. How many of you think that it would help to have teachers be trained and armed?

ROXANNE BECKFORD HOGE, CALIFORNIA MOTHER OF HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS: Schools are gun-free zones, for the most part, they "Look, look, no guns here. We're not defending ourselves."

And the reason I sort of hedged on this, should teachers carry? Someone who isn't already carrying, and trained, and comfortable, should not be sort of, "Hey, want a gun?" That's a horrible, horrible idea.


BECKFORD HOGE: But it turns out that most mass killings happen, where it's very clear that no one's shooting back. CAMEROTA: But let me just say that a lot of these schools, from Columbine, to Parkland, to Uvalde, did have an armed school resource officer. And, as we've learned, it's just hard for them to be in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. But my point is, is that they - these are not gun-free zones.

SCOTT: Evil is everywhere in the world. Every country has evil. There are evil people everywhere. It's not unique. This gun problem is unique to the United States.

CAMEROTA: I want to end on, if we can, a point of, if not unity, at least solutions.

Go ahead, Vanessa.

SPENCER: Quite honestly, part of the reason why I left the teaching profession was it was impossible to live in New York City, on a teacher's salary, fund my classroom, the way in which I needed to fund my classroom. We don't get paid in that same way. And that is unfortunate.

SCOTT: We have unreal expectations of our teachers, and we don't support them. And we should be fully funding our education. We should be partnering with our teachers.

CANDICE TUCK: They chose an underpaid profession, because they love kids. They love creating the next generation of enthusiastic learners. If you don't trust them, fund them, and help them, in every way. Help them teach our kids better. That works best for everybody.


CAMEROTA: OK, we have a lot to talk about. So up next, our own personal parent panel, shares their ideas, on what they just heard, how to keep kids safe, and whether armed personnel, in schools, is a possible solution.

We have Paul Begala, Rachel Vindman, and Shan Wu, joining us, next.



CAMEROTA: We just heard from six parents, on their fears, about school shootings, and their ideas to keep kids safe. So, let's discuss all of this.

Joining me now is former federal prosecutor, Shan Wu; Democratic strategist, Paul Begala; and the host of "The Suburban Women Problem" podcast, Rachel Vindman.

Great to have all of you here.

Rachel, I can't help but notice your mama necklace--

RACHEL VINDMAN, HOST, "THE SUBURBAN WOMEN PROBLEM": Yes. CAMEROTA: --that you're wearing. How big do these issues, of school safety, and school shootings, loom, in your household?

VINDMAN: It's huge. I mean, 75 percent of American parents say that this is a concern. 30 percent say it's a serious concern. They're very concerned about it. And I'm probably somewhere in between. I mean, I try not to let it consume my day. But I am very concerned about that. It's not just my child. It's my nieces and nephews, across the country. It's a huge issue for us.

CAMEROTA: Yes, I feel the same way. How can you not? How can anybody--

VINDMAN: No. Absolutely.

CAMEROTA: --who is conscious not feel nervous, sending their kids to school, right now?

So Shan, because AR-15s are still shockingly easy, for deranged school shooters, to get, there's all these people, from parents, to teachers, to administrators, trying to come up with creative solutions.


So in Indian River County, Florida, each school now has an AR-15 in that school that personnel can access, in an emergency. In Madison County, North Carolina, the sheriff says he will put an AR-15 and ammo, into each one of those schools.

These are just - I mean, they're trying, you know? They're trying. Because there's no - people think there's no other solution.

What are your thoughts?

SHAN WU, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I think, from a legal perspective, I think there's a big problem with a false idolatry, of the Second Amendment, in this country.


WU: That amendment had little or nothing to do with how it's being used, today, by politicians, to garner votes and campaign contribution.

All of the commonsense ideas of restricting access to guns? Perfectly constitutional. And from a legal point of view, it may be fine to give AR-15s to teachers, to schools. From a parental point of view, from my point of view, that's just adding fuel to the fire. I mean, how are they going to store those things safely in the school?

CAMEROTA: I mean, look, we all know that there's an argument out there that a good guy with a gun is the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun, except that there are good guys with guns at schools, right now.

WU: Right.

CAMEROTA: And as I said, to the panel there, they're just not everywhere. They can't be everyplace it wants. And so, the bad guy with the AR-15 wins.

WU: Yes.

CAMEROTA: So Paul, I wanted to ask you about this, because I want to talk about the Democrat - well the bipartisan legislation.

BEGALA: Right.

CAMEROTA: So, the big bipartisan gun legislation, first time, in decades, will that stop school shootings?

BEGALA: No. No. First off, I thought that one guy was right, when he said there's always been evil. Cain slew Abel with a rock. But if he had an AR-15, he'd have killed Adam and Eve too!

So, we have to get to those weapons. And I think that you see these parents really wrestling with it and grappling with it. And that that one dad, Cris, from Virginia, was right. I worked for President Clinton. We banned assault weapons, and just as important high- capacity magazines.

Because, these mass shootings usually all occur in the first 30 seconds. So, if there's an AR-15, down the hall, in the assistant principal's office, that's useless.

WU: Right.

BEGALA: So, but the high-capacity--

CAMEROTA: There's no appetite for doing that now? There's no appetite for banning the high-capacity magazines? There's no appetite for banning the weapons of war?

BEGALA: Well, since we can't ban evil, I think we ought to do what we can to keep weapons of war out of minds filled with hate.

And I say this. I'm a gun owner. I probably own 25 guns. I love hunting. But none of them are assault weapons, number of pistols. They're for hunting, and they're all locked up. And they're very safe. And I'm very responsible. So I'm not anti-gun at all. But so I want a gun out in the field, hunting, but I don't want one in the Spanish class.

WU: Right.

CAMEROTA: But, I mean, given what you know about the political climate, what's the answer?

BEGALA: It's very tough. I give President Biden, and the Republicans, who helped him, enormous credit. It is very hard to take on the NRA, and win. And Joe Biden just did. And I don't think he's gotten enough credit, to tell you the truth.

CAMEROTA: Rachel, I was saying that people are trying to come up with their own creative solutions. Parents are trying to figure out what to do. And there is this, I think, really kind of heartbreaking video that I'll show you that, was online, on TikTok, of a mom--


CAMEROTA: --with her 5-year-old son. And she's sending him - trying to prepare him, to go back into the classroom. And here's how she prepares him.


CASSIE WALTON (ph), OKLAHOMA MOTHER CREATED VIRAL TIKTOK ON ACTIVE SHOOTER DRILLS WITH SON: "This is not a drill. Everybody go in the corner and be really quiet and still." What do you do?

WESTON (ph), CASSIE WALTON'S (ph) SON: Get on the (ph) corner, be very quiet, and sit.

WALTON (ph): Now show me how you use your bulletproof backpack.

"Is anybody in there?" What do you do?

WESTON (ph): I say, "I'm here."

WALTON (ph): Absolutely not. You don't say a word.


CAMEROTA: I mean, there, she's trying. And that's what we--


CAMEROTA: --it's a sign of the times. This is what our 5-year-olds have to think about now.

VINDMAN: It's just a complete loss of innocence that the lockdown drills? I have two nieces that are going to kindergarten, this year. And, just last week, it hit me that they're going to go, and they're going to have lockdown drills, and it's going to shatter their innocence. There's a before and after. And I have no words.

CAMEROTA: No, it's heartbreaking. I understand, me too.


CAMEROTA: And we have no solutions. Because, without legislation, and without another weapons of war ban, it's, again, we're all just coming up with our own solutions, to try to keep our kids safe.

Meanwhile, Shan, I also want to ask you about what else parents are worried about in the classroom. And that's the culture war stuff that kids are going back into.

And just yesterday, a Florida judge blocked Governor DeSantis' "Stop Woke" law. I have a problem with the grammar. I mean, that I mean - not only the content-- WU: Yes.

CAMEROTA: --but basically what the judge - the problem, the judge said, it was unconstitutional, because it was impermissibly vague, and it violated the First Amendment.

And so, I'll just play for you. I mean, DeSantis was asked about it today, but he pivoted to his other legislation, about basically gender and sexuality. So, here's what he said.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): We also believe that parents have a right to send their kids to elementary school without having woke gender ideology shoved down their throat.



DESANTIS: We do not allow schools to be instructing kids that "Hey, you're 7-years-old. You may have been born a boy, but maybe you're really a girl." They are doing that in places around this country, and it is wrong, and we are not going to stand for it, in the State of Florida.



CAMEROTA: We found out last night that they get a lot of their information from TikTok in terms of if this is actually happening. I'm not kidding. I mean, that's what is scaring a lot of people, maybe like Governor DeSantis.

Legally speaking, is that one going to be challenged, also? It's known by critics as "Don't Say Gay."

WU: I'm sure it'll be challenged. And it really, they should let educators do the educating. And it goes to deference to the experts.

And unfortunately, in this increasingly conservative legal climate, and you certainly see it, at the Supreme Court, there is less and less deference, given to the experts. They don't like even deferring to the CDC about vaccines. And so, that's the problem here.

Let the educators decide how to educate, and how to protect the children, because that's what they're trying to do, is making sure that they can be themselves, and not feel there's only one way to be.

CAMEROTA: Yes, teachers are struggling. I mean, there's a teacher shortage.


CAMEROTA: And all of this is compounding it. VINDMAN: I mean, we see schools going to four-day workweek - four-day school day - four-day weeks of school. We see larger class sizes. All of this is going to compound the issues, for the teachers, for classroom management, another reason why they shouldn't have guns, and make it so much harder.

And the quality of education will decrease. And that will be everyone's problem, in the end. It won't just be if you're in a school, and your school is fine. It's going to be a nationwide issue, because of the teacher shortage.

And they're just - you know, I mean, what DeSantis said? It was some sort of like right-wing bingo! All the buzzwords, and he just put them together, but they didn't really make sense. But they don't care if it makes sense.

We've got to keep talking about it, and pushing back, still pushing for the high-capacity magazine. Even there's no appetite for it, we got to keep pushing more, and putting it out there, and mentioning it, because maybe sometime it'll catch on.

BEGALA: But you know?

CAMEROTA: Quickly.

BEGALA: Which is a greater threat, a book or a gun? In Keller, Texas, my beloved Texas, the town not far from Fort Worth, they have taken the Holy Bible, Toni Morrison, and Anne Frank, out of the library.

Now, these are same right-wing knuckleheads, who want to put an AR-15 in the principal's office.

WU: Right.

BEGALA: And they don't want the Bible or Toni Morrison, or Anne Frank? So, call me crazy. But books don't kill people. Guns do.

CAMEROTA: Friends, thank you all very much. Great to have you here with me.

VINDMAN: Thanks.

CAMEROTA: So coming up, we have an Uber driver, who became a hero, after stopping to save people, from a burning building, and he still managed to get his passenger, to the airport, on time.

That hero is with us, live, in the studio, next.



CAMEROTA: So, you're in an Uber, on your way, to the airport, when you see an apartment building on fire, with people trapped inside. Naturally, you call 911. But your Uber driver takes a different tact. He pulls over, and runs into the building! That Uber driver is named Fritz Sam. And that hero is with me now.

Fritz, great to have you here.

FRITZ SAM, HERO UBER DRIVER: Thank you. I'm very - it's humble - it's humbling to be here.

CAMEROTA: It's humbling to be in your presence.

SAM: Appreciate you.

CAMEROTA: Now, Fritz, I appreciate you. Because, you could have kept driving. Why did you pull over and run towards the fire?

SAM: Well, I have a habit of doing that.

CAMEROTA: Just running into burning buildings!

SAM: Right. It's like these situations present themselves. And you're like, "Do something." And it's like, I don't know, it's a feeling. I don't know what it is. But it's something come over you, and you feel like you have to do something. And then you just don't think anymore. And then it's just motion.

CAMEROTA: OK, well, that's you. I mean, you're built that way. But most people aren't. But when you pulled over, and you ran, and what did you find inside?

SAM: No. So, we pulled over. The first thing we did was to kind of like, again, I wasn't thinking about going inside. So we just tell people to come on out, make sure people made the phone calls, asking is there anyone inside? A few people came out, and there were a few people outside.

But I heard someone say, there's still someone inside. In that moment, leaves - my cell phone, ran inside, saw smoke coming out of staircase, he was resisting. That's the resisting, he want to come - he wanted to do go - he wanted to go downstairs and get something. He had time considering that the fire was on the second floor. So, I just kept that in mind, went upstairs, saw the other woman. She was also resistant. She was trying to kind of - she was like, I think she was in shock.

CAMEROTA: So you had to convince her to leave?

SAM: Yes, a little negotiating, yes. I told her, "If you're not going, I'm not going." And I just told her whatever, it's an AC that caused the fire, whenever, I was like, "Listen, you're safe. I mean, let's just not get hurt. Let's focus, at this point, on safety."


SAM: "Don't worry about anything else."

CAMEROTA: And you got her out?

SAM: And I got her out, yes.

CAMEROTA: OK. And so--

SAM: And I went back to get the other guy. I need to get the guy downstairs.

CAMEROTA: OK, two - so, you got the woman out, and you got the guy out. And then you return to your Uber passenger.

SAM: Right.

CAMEROTA: And what did you say to her?

SAM: Oh, so I apologized. She was awesome. She was awesome. Jemimah was her name.


SAM: And an aspiring book author. She's going to do great, you all, she's going to do great.


SAM: And I told her, I said, "Listen, you know?" I said, "Sorry, and let's get going." I said, "Do I smell like smoke?" And she just chuckled, and she was like, "Are you kidding me?"


SAM: Like, "You saved some lives."

CAMEROTA: Did you get her to the airport on time?

SAM: We got there on time.


SAM: You know?

CAMEROTA: That's amazing, Fritz.

SAM: Yes.

CAMEROTA: And I have somebody I'd like you to see, on Camera Three. If you don't mind looking over here, look over to this camera, if you would, Fritz? Because there's Jemimah Wei, right now. She is parachuting in. This is your Uber passenger.

SAM: Oh!

CAMEROTA: Jemimah, happy to reunite you, with Fritz. Please tell us about that moment, where he pulled over, and went into the burning building.


SAM: Same here! Same here. Oh, my god!

WEI: Yes.

SAM: How you been?


WEI: Honestly, Fritz, you went like a hero. You reacted so quickly. And I'm so impressed by how you did it. You didn't hesitate. You just ran right in. And ever since then, I've just been getting messages, non-stop, all how a hero you are, and how you've given so many people hope. And then, these are really difficult times. And you just really reminded everyone that you just pierced (ph) through all of that noise, and reminded everyone that there are good people out there.

SAM: Thank you.

WEI: And I hope your kids know that your dad is a hero.

SAM: Yes.

CAMEROTA: Oh, that is so nice!

SAM: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Because Fritz, even the CEO of Uber said that you are a hero.

And your own daughters, what did they say?

SAM: Well, one calls me "Supercat." And the other one - Skyler (ph) called me "Supercat." We have kittens. So, she had to combine them too.


SAM: And Kailey Rose (ph), she's proud. I'm kind of just, I'm cherishing the moment, because I see that they're joyful.


SAM: So, I appreciate that. And I was going to say, to people, who were temporally displaced, hang in there, guys. I know it's tough. I'm just glad you guys OK. God bless you. And everything's going to be OK. You'll be back home soon.

CAMEROTA: That is beautiful! Well, Fritz Sam, you do restore everyone's faith in humanity. Thanks so much for being here.

SAM: No. Thanks for having me.

CAMEROTA: Jemimah, thank you so much for being here. So glad you made your flight on time. That was great.

SAM: Yes.

CAMEROTA: Great to see both of you.

And we'll be right back.

SAM: Thank you.


CAMEROTA: Thanks so much for watching, everyone. I've had a wonderful time with you, this whole week, on CNN TONIGHT. I hope you enjoyed it, as much as I did.

And with that, "DON LEMON TONIGHT" with Laura Coates, sitting in for Don, starts right now.

All yours, Laura.