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CNN TONIGHT: DOJ Ordered To Release Redacted Mar-A-Lago Search Affidavit; Sources: Trump's Willingness To Cooperate With National Archives Broke Down After Conservative Activist Entered His Orbit; DHS Secretary: Gov. Abbott's Bussing Of Migrants To Northeast Is Throwing The Process "Out Of Whack". Aired 9-10p ET
Aired August 25, 2022 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: The news continues. Let's hand it over to Laura Coates and CNN TONIGHT.
LAURA COATES, CNN HOST, CNN TONIGHT: Thanks, Anderson. Nice to see you.
And nice to see all of you out there as well. I am Laura Coates. And this is CNN TONIGHT.
Look, I mean, high noon, could take a whole new meaning, for Donald Trump, tomorrow. Not a Cowboy Western. But tomorrow, the Justice Department has set until noon Eastern Time, tomorrow, to release the redacted, keep that word in mind, the redacted version of the affidavit that led to that Mar-a-Lago search.
And this could move us that much closer to understanding why the Government felt it had to do this, as opposed to waiting and going back-and-forth, yet again with the former administration.
But let's be clear here. This also could not move, and honesty, the needle, all that much, for you, out there, in the public, because there's a reason these things are often kept under wraps, and has a lot to do with protecting the rights of the person, whose home or estate, in this case, is being searched. And, of course, the safety of witnesses and sources.
The judge said as much when he cleared the way, for the FBI agents, to execute that warrant, back on August 8th, and saying in his written order, quote, "The Government has met its burden of showing a compelling reason/good cause to seal portions of the Affidavit because disclosure would reveal (1), the identities of witnesses, law enforcement agents, and uncharged parties, (2) the investigation's strategy, direction, scope, sources, and methods, and (3) grand jury information protected by Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure."
Now, as for the redactions, the judge added this, about what the government had to show, and whether they did meet their burden, saying "The Government has met its burden of showing that its proposed redactions are narrowly tailored to serve the Government's legitimate interest in the integrity of the ongoing investigation, and are the least onerous alternative to sealing the entire Affidavit."
Now, I'm sure, you can imagine, people aren't satisfied by the thought of not having the whole kit and caboodle, as they say. So news organizations, including CNN, of course, filed request, to unseal the affidavit, and for transparency, on other filings, related to this very search, of extraordinary public interest, as did, for example, Trump's ally, Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch. Keep that name in mind for a moment.
But there's what you say, in public, of course, right, and what you might say in private.
(GRAPHIC IS SHOWN OF FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP)
COATES: Or in the case of a figure, like you're seeing on the screen, what you say, in the court of public opinion, and then what you say in the court of law, when a judge is asking the question.
Now, while Trump's team claims that they want the affidavit out there, none of the lawyers actually have anything to do, or have done anything, to try and get much of it released at all. So tonight, we're all waiting to see what the DOJ is willing to share, with the world, even though they don't want to share much, of course.
And remember, noon, tomorrow is just the deadline. We could actually find out sooner. But for now, the DOJ isn't saying much more.
Now, I told you to remember that name, Tom Fitton. He's a pro-Trump activist, the President of Judicial Watch, but notably, he's not a lawyer.
Tonight, we have new reporting that shows he has been playing a major role, in Trump's resistance, when it comes to handing over records, which might surprise you, given he does have a legal team.
I'll look at how that squares with Trump's public bravado, and growing fears, behind-the-scenes, in Trump's orbit, about a potential charge or an indictment, concerns that frankly, might go all the way, to the former President.
Here to talk about all this are three actual lawyers, and top legal and investigative minds. Shan Wu, a former federal prosecutor and defense attorney; Bradley Moss, a national security lawyer; and John Wood, a former U.S. attorney and senior investigator for the January 6 committee. That's quite a panel, I must say!
I want to begin here, for a moment, because, Shan, Brad, and I'll get back to you as well, John, can you help unpack a little bit, for people?
We keep hearing about the idea of the legal team, surrounding Trump, making poor choices. I'm being kind about this! Sort of confounding people, get your head scratching, figuring out what are you doing? What's the motivation? What's the strategy here? Why was that motion, and what's happened, this week, so significant?
BRADLEY MOSS, ATTORNEY SPECIALIZING IN SECURITY CLEARANCE LAW: Sure. So, the problem with this legal team, and the motion was kind of the culmination of multiple months of problems. They should have been moving on this, back in May.
We now know, from the documentation, released by the National Archives that back in May, they had been told that the classified records, turned over in February, were going to be given to the FBI. They were told their executive privilege invocation was being denied.
A competent legal team would have been going into court that very next day, trying to enjoin the Archives, from turning things over. They would have been going into court, in June, when the subpoenas were coming down, and there were problems. They would have been going in, with evidence that information had been declassified, that President Trump had declared any of this a personal record. They did none of this.
They sat back and let it continue on, and they continued playing games. And that led to this motion, which wasn't properly fleshed out, very poorly written, in my view, didn't really outline, what they wanted, or what basis they had for it, and has the judge coming back to them, the next day ,saying, "You got to explain this better, in another filing. I don't know what you want me to do here."
COATES: I mean, imagine that? And we talk about sort of the prayer for relief, most of the time, well, think about the judges, you're asking them to do something, and they'll ask, "What's the basis for it?"
If the judge wasn't clear about what they were asking? Is it partly because, Shan, the questions were really being raised, in the court of public opinion, never meant to actually go to the court of law? I mean, this was being thought, to your point, outside of the courtroom, because the talking point was better online?
SHAN WU, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, I think that's exactly the problem you're pointing out there. A sign of a bad legal strategy, is a, disconnect, between the client, the communication strategy, and the courtroom strategy. And that's what we're really seeing here. That's what gives the impression that they're flailing about.
They're being reactive. They should have started this a long time ago. And now that they're being reactive, they're clearly reacting to what their client wants to do, what he wants to say in public. They're trying to give some lip service to that. But they're making bad mistakes that way.
I think exhibit one on the bad mistake is any of them, including Evan Corcoran, who I have a lot of respect for, used to work with him, signing or drafting a letter that says, "Don't worry about it. No more classified documents." That instantly turns you into a witness.
COATES: I mean, and that's part - John, I want to bring you in here. I don't want to forget about you. Because you were a big part of that January 6 committee. We remember actually watching you, during the actual hearings, sort of are going to begin again, later in September.
You're a former U.S. attorney, as well. You know this quite well. I have to ask you, knowing that all of this is part of it, the idea of thinking about, this is not - I've joked around before, this not like your ex-boyfriend's old sweater that you don't want to give back.
These are actual documents. These are things that belongs to people of the United States.
You've had letters, from the attorney, for Trump, at least in one occasion, confirming that they were in the possession. You had Rudy Giuliani saying, "You guys get the Espionage Act all wrong. It really is about, if you're trying to hand them over, or destroy documents."
When you hear all of this, what goes through your mind?
JOHN WOOD, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY & JANUARY 6 COMMITTEE SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE COUNSEL: Well, I agree with my colleagues here, who've said that President Trump must be getting bad lawyering here.
I think if he had a good legal team, in addition, he wouldn't be in this situation, in the first place, because they would have made sure that he returned all the documents, particularly the classified documents.
So, I don't know how much of it is the fault of the lawyers, or how much of it is that they just don't have any control, over their client. But it's really just outrageous that he not only has things that are public records, and should have been returned, on the Presidential Records Act, but that there were some 300-plus classified documents, in his possession. That's really extraordinary.
COATES: It is. And, of course, you worked on with the January 6 committee as well. I'm wondering just based on the fact that a lot of things are having parallel, if not truly intersection, but parallel discussions, and investigations, might any of this be intriguing to that committee?
WOOD: Possibly. I mean, one of the big questions that we don't know the answer to, is do any of these documents, whether classified or non-classified, do they, in any way relate to what happened on January 6?
If so, that could be a potentially bombshell information, because the obvious question would be "Well, why did President Trump take these with him? Did he want to make sure that Congress or the public couldn't find out what was in these documents?"
COATES: That's the why, Brad, in terms of the what. We might not know what the affidavit says in full. It's going to be redacted. We should expect that. That's not going to be abnormal, right? MOSS: Correct. No, there's absolutely going to be significant redactions.
One's going to be grand jury information. That's excluded by law. They're going to definitely redact the names of witnesses, particularly anyone, they interviewed, anyone who provided information. And they're going to redact anything, they think, reflects an investigative technique. They don't want to tell people how they're doing this yet.
But what we might see, and this is what I'm looking for, tomorrow, is do we get insight, into how they reached to the probable cause determination, from the facts? What they saw on the surveillance tapes that made them think not only that there was classified documents, but that there was an effort to conceal them, to relocate them?
We know they found these records, in other places, like the president - the former President's office, in his bedroom closet. Do the - is that some of the information we're going to get? And will that give us more insight into the obstruction provisions, they also listed on the search affidavit.
COATES: What're you looking for, Shan?
WU: That would be great, but.
COATES: "I'll have what she's having."
WU: Right, yes.
COATES: That was a classic moment. Thank you, Shan.
WU: But I want to manage expectations a little bit.
WU: I think it's going to look just like a solid black box, colored in. And I think it's important for us to remember, for the viewers to remember, we're not actually revisiting the probable cause. That's a done deal.
And I don't think DOJ really has to measure up, to some standard, for the judge, here. I really think if they just submit anything that's not completely colored out, it's like, "OK, we redacted it," the judge is in no position to really second-guess them, on matters of national security, or classified information. So, I think the judge really is "Look, good-faith effort. You gave me something. I'm going to release it." I don't think we're going to see much that's very juicy about at all.
COATES: I mean, that sets the bar low. I think they probably had to over - be over-inclusive, in some ways, right, Shan?
COATES: The idea of providing this judgment, in what they knew it was Donald Trump's estate. But I do agree that if the judge looked at it, sort of in camera, by themselves, and had that opportunity, they would have been able to ascertain that the probable cause was met.
John, we didn't forget about you. Thanks for being on.
COATES: John Wood, Brad Moss, Shan Wu, thank you so much.
We're going to take a break here, and we'll talk about why Donald Trump thinks documents that come to Mar-a-Lago stay at Mar-a-Lago. Apparently, another guy got into his head. It's the one whose name we told you to keep in mind. A whole lot more about his influence, and potential impact, coming up next.
COATES: Well, there's new reporting tonight that undercuts the Trump World's pronouncements that Donald Trump has fully cooperated with the National Archives. Sources telling CNN that shortly after investigators got those 15 boxes, from Mar-a-Lago, the ones back in January that Trump began fielding calls, well, from this man.
His name is Tom Fitton, the longtime head of the conservative activist group, Judicial Watch, a man who told Trump what he wanted to hear that it was a mistake, to turn over any documents to the Archives. He even encouraged Trump not to give up any more if the Archives should come back, which we know they did, several times.
Sources say that Trump became obsessed, over Fitton's, we'll call them, legal arguments. We should mention, of course, Fitton is not a lawyer. And I doubt these are actually legal arguments.
But Trump complained to the aides about the 15 boxes that were handed over. And he became more and more convinced that he should have full control over records that remained at Mar-a-Lago. He even asked Fitton, at one point, to brief his attorneys, on the matter.
A person, close to former President, told us this. Quote, "The moment Tom got in the boss' ear, it was downhill from there."
Let's talk more about this, and get perspective, from these phenomenal people, at my right and left, left and right, the camera can't tell, whatever. It's Alyssa Farah Griffin, Miles Taylor, along with CNN's Evan Perez, who of course helped break this, and many other stories.
Let me begin with you here, Evan. I mean, Tom Fitton, a figure that many people know, but many people might not know, and the influence that he is now having, it does strike you as very odd that this is a person, with an extensive legal team, Donald Trump, we've seen different iterations, but this is the person, who he wants to brief these lawyers?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: He also really likes the people, the legal minds that he sees on television, as you know.
And so, Fitton, pretty quickly, after this - after the National Archives retrieved these 15 boxes, he goes on Fox, and he goes on other platforms, on Twitter, and other places, and starts saying that, should never have given back these boxes, because these are actually inherently personal, that by virtue of the president leaving the White House with them, they became personal. And--
COATES: That's not the standard, though, Evan, like you don't - it doesn't become personal. It's like - it's not Polly (ph), in your pocket, all of a sudden.
PEREZ: Right. But you just kind of see where Trump has now gotten, some of these ideas.
And one of the things that he is looking back at, is this case from about a decade ago, from 2012, in which Fitton, and his group, were trying to get access, to some recordings, from the Clinton years, from Bill Clinton's presidency. These were recordings he had made with the historian, Taylor Branch. And, as a result of that, in the end, he was not able to get them, because a judge ruled that these were not presidential records.
So, they're saying, this is exactly analogous. Now, of course, we know that these - the current situation has to do with highly classified, SAP, TS/SCI, very sensitive documents, according to the Justice Department. So, it's not really the same thing.
And, by the way, and I spoke to Fitton, a couple of times, for this story. And he says, "Look, in the end, Trump ended up still providing more documents, to the Archives. So therefore, he wasn't really listening to Fitton, in the end."
COATES: I mean, most but not all, is not going to satisfy talking about national security, potentially classified documents, right?
MILES TAYLOR, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, "ANONYMOUS" AUTHOR OF OP-ED CRITICAL OF TRUMP: Yes.
COATES: He can't just say, "I gave you half of it."
TAYLOR: Also, it's like--
COATES: Uh-oh, Miles is laughing, everyone!
TAYLOR: This is - Alyssa can attest to this. I don't even know what - we've seen this story so many times, that Donald Trump is getting his advice from television. He ran his presidency that way. I mean, we used to joke that Lou Dobbs was the Deputy Chief of Staff, at the White House.
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER TRUMP WH COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: True.
TAYLOR: Because he would literally say to you, "Did you watch Lou Dobbs last night? He said what I want to do." And it would be some popcorn cockamamie policy idea.
And now, he's actually in real legal trouble. And he's still taking advice, from people, who are on TV, and playing Game of Thrones.
Again, though, the difference this time is, he's in a bad position. He's got a very bad legal team. And his fingerprints, as we've talked about before, are literally all over this. He's gone through the boxes, like he is in a really, really fast find.
COATES: But here's the thing. I mean, his nickname, right, is still Teflon Don, and maybe the reason that - you think about maybe he's super-emboldened. He's been in a lot of hot water, before. I mean, we know the history of this presidency. Is he really scared, this time, Alyssa?
FARAH GRIFFIN: I think he is. And I'll say this, to use his own quote against him, I mean, he is not hiring or surrounding himself, by the best people. He has a tendency to do this, by the way. Pat Cipollone, who's actually whether you agree with him or not, a credible, serious attorney.
PEREZ: One of the best.
FARAH GRIFFIN: In fact, one of the best. Advised him against this, and said to comply with the National Archives. But then he just finds kind of a crackpot too, but I guess, not even attorney, to then advise him, and tell him what he wants to do.
He's also being advised, right now, by a woman, Christina Bobb, who was asked on another network, if she could confirm, he did not have nuclear secrets. And she said, "I don't believe he does." I mean that's--
COATES: Oh, that's comforting!
FARAH GRIFFIN: That's comforting. But it's also--
COATES: "I don't believe he does?"
FARAH GRIFFIN: --get a better attorney, then. It's just--
TAYLOR: That's the attorney that signed the paperwork, by the way, about whether there was any classified information left.
FARAH GRIFFIN: Right.
TAYLOR: It's terrifying.
FARAH GRIFFIN: And like, it's kind of - it's sort of funny, if we're not talking about state secrets, or national security, the actual process that we should go through, for archiving America state secrets.
COATES: So, I mean, part of this includes, I understand, and possibly - again, we're not talking about just your average paperclip here, right? These are things that are of interest.
One thing that sparked this, Evan, was the idea that National Archives, sort of doing an inventory.
COATES: And things that we've spoken about, on the news, a Kim Jong-un letter, for example, and other things, we don't see it here, right? These are documents we're talking about.
PEREZ: Very quickly--
COATES: And things (ph).
PEREZ: Yes, very quickly, they realized that they were important things, including the letters, to the north foreign - well, the North Korean leader, the letter from former President Obama, when he left office, for the incoming President Trump.
And that's one of the things they began - this is how this began, they were trying to retrieve things like that. At one point, there was instructions, given to one of the Trump aides, to try to FedEx those items to the Archives. That's the level--
COATES: Wait. To FedEx classified documents?
PEREZ: To well these were - well, yes, I guess so, right? These were communications with a foreign leader. So, they probably earn a certain level of classification.
Again, this was the level of, begging and desperation by the Archives to try to retrieve these documents. They're like, at any cost, they wanted to try to get these things back, because these are presidential records, and they needed them.
FARAH GRIFFIN: Well, and I think it's important to notice - to note that there are kind of two different things here. And we're going to learn more, as the affidavit comes out. I expect a lot of it is going to be redacted.
FARAH GRIFFIN: But there are things that are presidential records, which probably by nature are sensitive. Something like that, I would assume, you could FedEx, and it's not going to put anyone at grave national harm.
PEREZ: Right, right.
FARAH GRIFFIN: A Special Access Program? I was a TS/SCI security clearance holder, I'm sure you are as well, I never once had access to a Special Access Program. PEREZ: I've always wanted that.
FARAH GRIFFIN: That is one of--
PEREZ: But no one's offered.
TAYLOR: Code words. We talked about it before, the code word programs.
FARAH GRIFFIN: This is one of the highest levels--
COATES: We still respect you, Evan Perez. It's OK.
FARAH GRIFFIN: This is one of the highest levels of national security classification, you can encounter. If he does in fact have those, and hasn't been protecting them, in a SCIF, that any other person would be walked into jail for that.
COATES: And well that's what we're going to talk more about, and learn about, this affidavit, and what we will see.
But again, for many people watching this, and thinking about this, the phrase of, "Who's above the law?" That also extends this idea of who gets to have someone bend over backwards, to make it as easy as possible, for you to delay what you're required to do.
PEREZ: One thing I just want to quickly add? And, by the way, I mean, reading this judge's opinion that was released, I think we should look at what he says, when he says this is the least onerous alternative to sealing the entire document. I think he means it
PEREZ: I think this judge clearly had seen this document. He knows exactly what's in it. And he was leaning towards - he was nudging the Justice Department, "Look, you're going to have to release, as much as this as possible, because I know what's in it. And I know what you really need to protect." So, I think we can read in this document a lot of what this judge means.
COATES: That's a great point, because the judge clearly has seen the entire thing, and knows--
PEREZ: And he says you got to do it, narrowly, he says.
Everyone, Evan Perez, thank you so much.
Alyssa, Miles, stick around.
Here's another reason Donald Trump's ears are probably burning tonight. President Biden's unloading, on his predecessor, and the extreme MAGA movement, and he's giving his midterm message, a bit of a test run.
COATES: So, President Biden stepping onto the midterm stage, tonight, for the first time, and with 75 days to go, until the Election Day, of the midterms. And some say that he brought the heat.
The President shattered (ph) all of his recent legislative wins, but he did save most of the fire, for his predecessor, and MAGA Republicans, zeroing on what could be the GOP's most vulnerable issue, come this November.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: In Red states after Red state, there's a race to pass the most restrictive abortion limitations imaginable, even without exception for rape or incest.
But these MAGA Republicans won't stop there. They want a national ban. They want to pass a legislative national ban, in the Congress. If the MAGA Republicans win control of the Congress, it won't matter where you live, women won't have the right to choose anywhere, anywhere.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: An earlier event that wasn't on camera, President Biden went further, telling attendees, quote, "What we're seeing now is the beginning or the death knell of an extreme MAGA philosophy. It's not just Trump. It's the, the entire philosophy that underpins the - I'm going to say something: it's like semi-fascism," unquote.
Alyssa Farah Griffin, is back with me, along with former Democratic senator, Doug Jones, and former Special Assistant to President George W. Bush, Scott Jennings.
And Scott, you have no response to the fascism comment whatsoever? We'll just move on? OK?
SCOTT JENNINGS, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, COLUMNIST, USA TODAY: Well, I mean, look, I'm used to politicians, throwing haymakers, at each other. I'm sure we all are. Doug Jones, sure is.
DOUG JONES, (D), FORMER U.S. SENATOR, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Oh, yes.
JENNINGS: But what I heard Joe Biden, say tonight, was farther than that. I mean, he's essentially saying, "If you vote Republican, you're a fascist." He's saying that if every American doesn't support Democrats, and we don't - and we have a one party rule in this country, Democratic rule, top to bottom that, democracy is somehow lost. And I just--
COATES: But he did say - he kept saying, repeatedly, in the - on video part, "MAGA Republicans, MAGA Republicans," which I took to mean, in some respect--
JENNINGS: Well, are there some Republicans he's endorsing?
COATES: Well, my point is, I took that to mean that he was aware of the delineation that's trying to happen, in the GOP, as well, to suggest there are the your father's, your grandfather's, your mother's Republican Party, your own Republican Party, and then what you're seeing of the more extreme. Do you see the same?
FARAH GRIFFIN: I worry it's not clear enough. And Charlie Crist kind of stepped in it with that - once he got the nomination, basically saying, "I don't want Ron DeSantis' voters. If you vote for him, you're full of hate." And then he tried to backtrack it.
I'm somebody, I think Donald Trump is a semi-fascist. But I think most Republicans are good, decent people, who want lower gas prices, they want, an economy that works for them. So, I think that this, this language is not helpful on the trail.
I do think that he is right probably to tout the issues with abortion. That's something that's going to be incredibly animating for Democrats. But, at the same time, he still does not have a good message on the economy. And that's what is at the top of every poll, when you look at the midterms.
COATES: What do you think, Doug?
JONES: I just I completely disagree on a lot of that. I think you're exactly right. He is differentiating with this MAGA faction of the Republican Party, which is dominating the Republican Party, right now, in my view. They are the loudest.
They're like three different factions. There are people that are pushing back, like Liz Cheney. Then they're just very few. Then, there are the enablers, who are just sitting back quietly, letting Donald Trump, and the MAGA faction, run the party. And those are the people that are getting nominated for the U.S. Senate, in Arizona, and in Pennsylvania. And you've already got Senator Johnson, very similar to that in Wisconsin.
They're seeing that - this is an issue for Democrats that in this MAGA faction, remember, we're talking about just a few seats here. At the end of the day, we're talking about a few seats, where there are very few seats in the House that are really in play.
So, you're talking about trying to differentiate and make a statement, about this MAGA faction, that maybe you all agree or disagree, but I'm telling you, I think it's a threat to democracy.
FARAH GRIFFIN: But I would say, you, in some ways, are kind of a lost art, in the Democratic Party, is what I would call a moderate Democrat, obviously, serving in the south.
And for Joe Biden, if he's wanting to win over some Trump voters, he needs to be reaching moderates, and not calling them, semi-fascist, or lumping them in with Trump. And I just don't know that that language does anything to bring them back--
COATES: But do moderate Republicans think of themselves as MAGA Republicans?
JENNINGS: Well they think of themselves as Republicans. 74 million people voted for Trump. And most of them in fact, maybe some didn't vote for Trump, and went ahead and voted for a whole bunch of other Republicans, down the ballot, they think of themselves as Republicans.
So if you're living in one of these purple States, where the Senate races are going on, you're not going into the ballot box, thinking, "Well, let's see which faction of the Republican party might" - no.
You're thinking about, "I generally believe in a conservative direction for the country. The Democrat generally believes on a liberal direction for the country. And so, that's what I'm going to prefer today." That doesn't make me a fascist. It just makes me a Republican or a conservative, and that's how they're going to cast their votes.
And, for Joe Biden, by the way, who ran as, "I'm going to unite the country. We're not going to have meanness and divisiveness in the Oval Office," to call half the country, fascist? I mean, it's totally out of character.
JONES: I mean, wait, wait.
FARAH GRIFFIN: He didn't--
JONES: He is not calling half the country, fascist. He is calling these people that are running as fascist, or anti--
FARAH GRIFFIN: Well then you should say it that way.
JONES: Again, I mean--
FARAH GRIFFIN: Yes.
JONES: --he is calling this group of people, like Mastriano, like Masters, like Mullin, in Oklahoma, he's calling that, and they are leading the Republican tickets.
And I completely disagree with you, Scott, that they're going to come in, and they're going to not think about that. Because this is not your conservative party of the past. It is not the party of small government.
It is the party that is stripping people of rights. It is the party that is trying to take away election, with all these election-deniers, and taking away the right to vote. This is a different party that is the loudest and in control. So, that's where I think that the President is making a very strong point.
And it's going to come down to every state, and people are going to look at it, and they're going to compare with a candidate that is from the Democratic side that is getting things done, that are moving for people that they don't always agree with on everything, but they are scared to death, of this other group that has time to take control of this country.
FARAH GRIFFIN: Well, and I'm a fierce critic of Donald Trump. I think he's wholly unfit to ever be in office, again. I worry - I think your clarification is helpful. And that's something Joe Biden should say.
What I worry is that is similar to Hillary Clinton's "Deplorable" comment that actually animated the Trump base, and actually animated Republicans, to say, "Well, if we're all looked at as deplorables, or as semi-fascists, then screw the Democrats. Why would I ever consider voting with them?"
COATES: Yes, I--
FARAH GRIFFIN: I think it's divisive in a way that's totally unhealthy.
COATES: I hear that. But I also take a step back, and think it's seems very clear, we've heard, over the course of many months, let alone years, those who are - who like - from a Mitch McConnell, in your home state, for example, does not think of himself, in the same category, as perhaps a Marjorie Taylor Greene, or as more MAGA-related Republicans, right? It's not so shocking that there would be a distinction made.
So I wonder, is it the fact that it came from Biden, who articulated the distinction, or the fact that sort of the behind-the-curtain is, I mean, this says Democrats. AOC, so to speak, does not think of herself the same way as even a Joe Biden. There is distinction. Why is this particular aspect, so offensive?
JENNINGS: Well, first of all, it's not up to Joe Biden to sort out the Republicans. I sincerely doubt that if you handed him a list, of Republican candidates, for various offices, he would go, "This one's good. This one's bad. This one's good." They're, to him, they're all bad. They're Democrats (ph). They're partisans. They're trying to win elections. He - and it's not up to him.
But I think every election cycle, we play this game, Democrats, and other people, who help the Democrats, try to get Republicans to fight each other, and to divide amongst ourselves.
Joe - Donald Trump is not on the ballot. He is an important figure, in the Republican Party. But there's so much more at stake than petty, internal fighting. But that's what they want us to focus on, instead of the issues like economy, inflation, anything else.
JONES: Yes, like Republicans calling me a socialist, and wanting to defund the Police? That doesn't happen with the Republican Party! Come on, Scott, give me a break! I mean, everybody, it's the same thing. And you're going to define the people that are with the party that are the loudest, and that are getting the control of the party, right now. And that happens to be the MAGA faction.
And, by the way, let me quickly add. I think that that's dangerous. I don't like that. I want a healthy two-party system. I'd love to see the Republicans--
JENNINGS: Who's in control of the Democratic Party, right now?
JONES: I don't know if there is a control of the Democratic Party. But I'll tell you this, we finally are starting to get things done. It's not the left and the right fight, like they did in the first half of the Biden administration.
We're moving legislation. We're getting a governing majority. They're getting things done, for the American people. Inflation is getting under control. We're producing jobs, left - at historic records. So, the Democrats are coming together, and they're big tent, and they're getting things done.
COATES: Well that's where Biden left off, after the comment that made everyone chatter a little bit. Thank you, everyone, about that. He went right to the policies.
Look, coming up, another big issue, culture wars, a teacher who had a novel approach, to a book ban, but decided she'd rather quit, than censor what her students could actually read.
COATES: A high school teacher, in Oklahoma, quit her job, this week, over the state's new legal restrictions, on teaching, about race, and about gender.
Norman High School English teacher, Summer Boismier says she, and her colleagues, were asked to hide or remove books that could challenge the law.
Boismier chose to hide the books behind the sign, "Books the state doesn't want you to read." She says she was placed on leave, for that display, a claim the District denies. Boismier ultimately decided to resign.
And she joins me now.
Summer, nice to see you. But I remember a time, when I was in grade school, and beyond, and you get your books, and you take like paper bags to cover them, because you had to pass them on to the next person.
It's a whole new level now, having to cover up these books, because they're banned! I mean, what has that, been like for you, knowing that you love teaching, to have to make this difficult choice, to say, "I can't teach like this."
SUMMER BOISMIER, FORMER OKLAHOMA TEACHER, RESIGNED OVER BOOK CENSORSHIP LAW: Yes, and well, thank you for having me on, and giving me this platform to center the plight, of our public school students, and to put some respect, on our teachers' names.
I can speak for myself, as I teach in Oklahoma, this idea of book banning, and censorship, and the restriction, ultimately, of what we as, as a society value, as far as which identities, are we going to enfranchise? Which identities, are we going to say matter?
This has been a long simmering issue, in Oklahoma public schools. It's been a long simmering issue, in many public schools. I know that educators, in Florida, right now, are currently dealing with some troubling restrictions, on curriculum, and social studies, and then you have the "Don't Say Gay" bill.
At the end of the day, what this comes down to are our students, and their stories, and what are we going to value? What are we going to communicate, to our students, as far as what is significant?
So, my objective, as an English teacher, in interacting, with a variety of texts, in my classroom is always, I'm not really concerned with whether students walk out of my classroom, remembering that a simile is a comparison, using the words "Like," or "As." What I'm concerned about is--
COATES: You wanted--
BOISMIER: --that students walk out of that--
COATES: You want exposure?
BOISMIER: Right, right. I want students to be able to walk out of my classroom, with the tools that they need, to talk to the world, to ask questions, and to engage--
COATES: But Summer? Let me ask you - I don't want to interrupt.
COATES: Let me ask you this.
BOISMIER: And books and stories are vital.
COATES: I hear you. I want to ask you, though, in that sense, it was so disappointing, given that that is your mission, I don't want to cut you off.
The fact that you have now chosen to leave, does in a sense, remove that opportunity for many of the students, to have a teacher like that, like you, which is a very difficult choice to make.
What do you say to the retort and response though that many have, which is, "Look, I understand that. But if you're working for a community, and they have decided that certain curriculum should not be a part of their children's experience, then you must abide by that."
Why do you think that's not the approach to take that you don't have to just sort of succumb and acquiesce to what they want you to say or not?
BOISMIER: So, again, the - and I'm aware of community sentiment, and how vital community participation is, in our public schools. There are parents, and guardians, out there, who have offered tremendous support. And I genuinely thank those people.
But what I always err on, I'm not trying to parent, anyone's child. My job is to create a space, where we can learn together, about ourselves, and each other. And it is not my place--
COATES: That's right.
BOISMIER: --to decide which identities matter, and which ones don't. Every single time, the classroom is an inherently political space. I go back to James Baldwin's "A Talk to Teachers." Silence is a position. It's a privileged position. And so, I have to choose--
BOISMIER: --and teachers have to choose, are we going to be silent? Or are we going to err on the side of compassion of empathy and inclusion?
COATES: Summer, I think it's an - it's really important what you said.
BOISMIER: I find the discussion around that - yes.
COATES: I didn't hear you, Summer. But I think what I find really striking is the idea of the classroom as being inherently political, and given what you talked about, and unfortunately, we're at a space where I don't doubt that that is, in fact the case. But that ought not to be where we are in education.
Summer Boismier, thank you much for joining the program. I appreciate it.
BOISMIER: My pleasure. Thank you for having me.
COATES: Still to come, a political feud, getting more intense, as Texas sends more and more migrants, to New York.
COATES: New tonight, President Biden's Homeland Security Secretary, is blasting Texas governor, Greg Abbott, for bussing more and more migrants, from his state, to the Northeast.
New York City officials say it's a record 237 migrants arrived via private bus, just yesterday, and about that many were expected today. They say this is overwhelming local agencies.
While DHS Chief Alejandro Mayorkas tells CNN's Rosa Flores that Abbott's stunt is throwing the federal system "Out of whack."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: It is problematic, however, when an official works, not in collaboration, with us, but unilaterally, and that lack of coordination wreaks problems, in our very efficient processing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: He also responded to criticism that the Administration isn't doing enough.
Back here, Miles Taylor, who worked at DHS. He's back with me now, along with Doug Jones, and David Swerdlick. David is Senior Staff Editor at The New York Times.
What strikes you about this?
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, SENIOR STAFF EDITOR, NEW YORK TIMES OPINION: So, it is a stunt, and it is using people as pawns, Laura. But I'm surprised a Republican border state governor hasn't come up with this sooner!
It's working for Abbott, because he knows that by and large Republican voters are not going to punish him, for doing this.
And he knows that Democrats, including the President, including Mayor Adams, in New York, including Mayor Bowser, in D.C., who are going to have to absorb these migrants, at least temporarily, have to sort of straddle the fence, and appease Democratic voters, on the one hand, and not alienate swing voters, on the other hand, who think immigration is an issue.
COATES: So, kind of put your resources where your politics are--
COATES: --so to speak.
JONES: Yes. It's a tough - I mean, look, it's really tough. I agree, it's. It's a start. But at the same time, it's also drawing attention, to a really broken system that we've got.
I really think this whole - the issue about asylum-seekers and the refugees, I mean, these are not people that are traditionally those folks that are blending into society. They're crossing at their own peril, their own risks, with their young children. And then they're stopping and being arrested because they want a better life. They want to come in.
And this is really a pox on everybody's house, right now, because we have not had the ability, to come together. It's been politicized, beyond belief, these days. And the pawns that these folks, the bodies that we're seeing, is just atrocious.
And rather than politicizing this issue, those images ought to get both houses of Congress, and get parties, both the parties, together, and say "We can't allow this humanitarian issue to continue to go."
TAYLOR: Exactly. And regardless of what side of the aisle you're on, it is a crisis, OK? From the humanitarian standpoint, you've got 2 million people that are on pace, this year, to come into the United States, through the back door, instead of the front door.
TAYLOR: Why don't we have a system that incentivizes people to do that through a very dangerous route, where kids are abused, women are attacked? It's an extremely dangerous route.
From the border security side, no one wants 2 million people coming in the back door, instead of the front door. That's just not safe. That's not a way to run a country. It's a crisis, whatever way you cut it.
But again, to the question of the third rail, that's why no one's doing anything about it. Hell, half the people don't want to come on TV, to talk about immigration, because they're so scared.
TAYLOR: Congress doesn't want to talk about immigration. I mean, I'm not going to put this on the Senator. I would be curious to ask this question, "Why didn't his colleagues fix this?" And I suspect one of the reasons is because they don't want to talk about it. Enough! Talk about it. We got to talk about it.
COATES: What's the scary--
SWERDLICK: You got to--
COATES: What's the scary part?
SWERDLICK: You got to talk about it, but except that OK, you had President Obama, the most charming politician, on Planet Earth, who was called the Deporter-in-Chief, by progressives--
SWERDLICK: --even though he was a progressive or Democratic hero.
On the other hand, you had attempts in 2006, 2013, to do bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform. The lesson that President Trump learned was don't do it, because it was not popular with his hardcore Republican base.
JONES: And that's exactly right. And that's the one bill in 2018 that we did work on a bipartisan group of senators, 24, 25 of us, put something on the table that initially, Donald Trump said he want to do - would do. It would - DACA issues, it would put money on the border. It would have done a lot of things, and got people talking to move. At the last minute, he came in and threw some poison pills, and it derailed.
TAYLOR: Oh, I personally think Trump could have had a Nixon goes to China moment on immigration. He could have - he could have been--
SWERDLICK: I disagree.
TAYLOR: --but he could have been that type of person that everyone thought was so extreme, and fix this. Now, did he know? I mean, he was a disaster. I personally believe Trump wanted to pursue Nazi-like immigration policies. And I don't say that facetiously. I mean, I really think it was that twisted.
He wanted to use migrants as pawns, in far worse ways. In fact, at one point, he told us he wanted to bus literally only the murderers, and the rapists, to Democratic cities, to commit crimes, to put pressure. That is sick. That is sick stuff.
But here we are, again, migrants still being used as pawns. These aren't pawns. These are people. Let's figure out this problem, realizing these are people, and that's where people - folks are too scared to go out, and talk about it.
SWERDLICK: They are people. And you were there, Miles, I know. I do just think though that President Trump realized that his brand was "I'm going to build a wall. I'm going to do everything I can."
TAYLOR: Oh, for sure.
SWERDLICK: And that overwhelmed the part of him, whatever part--
SWERDLICK: --that wanted to be compassionate on this or that issue, and--
TAYLOR: I don't think there was a part, David, of him that wanted to be compassionate. And I also don't say that jokingly.
SWERDLICK: OK, yes.
TAYLOR: I didn't see any signs that there was a desire.
SWERDLICK: Well, for image purposes, I'm not, you know?
TAYLOR: But hopefully, we can learn from that. And hopefully, as the Senator suggests, there are members of Congress ready still, to step forward. Sadly, they're just looking for someone to give them political airtime. JONES: Miles, real quick? I agree with you that in part, our system incentivizes. But let's face it, at the end of the day, America and who we are incentivizes these people.
JONES: They are looking - they are running away from some tragedy and oppression.
JONES: And it's this country that incentivizes them. And I think if we would recognize that more, and try to do more, for these people, in their countries, and do some things, we could fix this. But we got to recommend--
TAYLOR: We should be proud, people want to come here.
SWERDLICK: Yes, true.
COATES: Appropriately said by a man with a flag on his lapel.
SWERDLICK: There you go.
COATES: Everyone, Miles Taylor, Doug Jones, David Swerdlick, thank you so much.
We'll be right back.
COATES: Hey, thanks for watching, everyone. I'll be back, tomorrow night.
"DON LEMON TONIGHT" starts right now.