Return to Transcripts main page
CNN Live Event/Special
CNN TONIGHT: Georgia GOP U.S. Senate Nominee Herschel Walker Strongly Denies Report He Paid For Abortion In 2009; Trump Asks Supreme Court To Intervene In Mar-A-Lago Docs Case; Police Release New Video Of "Person Of Interest" In CA Shootings. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired October 04, 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: Loretta Lynn, survived by four of her six children. She was 90-years-old. What an incredible life!
Grieving the death of a loved one, living without them, is something we'll all face, at some point. And I'm exploring it, in a very personal way, in a new podcast, titled "All There Is." To listen, just point your cell phone, at the QR code, in your TV screen, for a link to it. You can also find it out, on Apple podcasts, wherever you get your podcasts.
The fourth episode will be available, tomorrow. I talk with actress, comedian, Molly Shannon, tomorrow, about the devastating deaths, of her mother, and her little sister, and her cousin, in a car crash. Her father was driving the car, when she was 4-years-old. It changed the course of her life. It's a powerful conversation. I hope, you'll listen. I hope it helps.
The news continues. Want to hand it over to Kasie Hunt, and CNN TONIGHT.
KASIE HUNT, CNN HOST, CNN TONIGHT: Very much enjoying your podcast, Anderson. Thank you so much.
I am Kasie Hunt. And this is CNN TONIGHT.
We are five weeks out, from the midterm elections. Republicans appear to be making gains, in some key Senate races, which we're going to zoom in on, in just a moment.
But I want to focus in on this. We are learning over and over again, this election cycle that nominating strong candidates does matter, if a political party wants to win an election. It matters a lot.
But the rules may have changed, with voters willing perhaps to tolerate things that they just wouldn't put up with, in the past. Herschel Walker is about to test this hypothesis. The former football star has pitched himself, as a values-based conservative candidate. And he is locked in a tight race, in Georgia, against Democratic incumbent, Raphael Warnock. Walker has openly backed a national ban, on abortions, with no exceptions. That's rape, incest, the life of the mother, no exceptions. And he has campaigned on an anti-abortion platform.
And now, he is denying allegations that he paid, for a woman he dated, to have an abortion, more than a decade ago.
The claim was reported by "The Daily Beast." We should underscore, CNN has not independently verified the allegations. "The Daily Beast" report claims that Walker paid a woman, to terminate a pregnancy that she claims they conceived together, in 2009.
"The Daily Beast" says the accuser provided a receipt, from the abortion clinic, she went to. She provided an image, of a check, from Walker, reimbursing her, for the procedure, along with a Get Well card that he allegedly sent her with the check. This is supposedly that card, with his very recognizable signature on it.
As for Herschel Walker, he is vigorously denying that any of this happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HERSCHEL WALKER, GEORGIA GOP U.S. SENATE NOMINEE: I never asked anyone to get an abortion. I never paid for an abortion. And it's a lie.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: This follows many other scandals that have rocked the Republican's campaign. Three women, including his ex-wife, and an ex- girlfriend, have accused him, of threatening them. He also acknowledged fathering multiple children, with multiple women that he wasn't married to.
One of his children has been trying to raise a giant red flag to conservatives.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIAN WALKER, HERSCHEL WALKER'S SON: Family values, people? He has four kids, four different women, wasn't in the house raising one of them. He was out having sex, with other women.
Do you care about family values? OK, I'm done! Done! Everything has been a lie. Don't lie on the lives, you've destroyed, and act like you're some moral family man. You all should care about that. Conservatives!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Again, that's Herschel Walker's son, Christian Walker.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee today said that they stand with Walker.
And Donald Trump said the same thing. Essentially, he said, quote, "Walker is being slandered and maligned. Herschel has properly denied the charges against him, and I have no doubt he is correct."
Walker's campaign is now scrambling to contain the fallout. But CNN heard that earlier today, his campaign manager told staff that fundraising was surging, after the Georgia Senate nominee denied these allegations. That aide also apparently brought up Trump's infamous Access Hollywood videotape, which surfaced weeks before the 2016 election, to try and underscore that quote, "Trump still made it to the White House."
So, can Walker end up on Capitol Hill, after this? Let's take it to our table, to CNN Political Contributors, Maria Cardona, Ron Brownstein, and Scott Jennings.
Thank you all, for being here.
Ron, let me start with you, as the reporter, at this table.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: Just back from Georgia, too!
HUNT: And then, we'll open it up.
HUNT: Just back from Georgia! So, tell us what you learned, while you were there. And what impact, do you think, this is going to have on the race?
BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think one thing we have learned, as you were kind of noting, is that these kind of scandals are not going to crater people's support, in the way that they have, in the past.
Congressional elections, including Senate elections are becoming increasingly parliamentary elections, in which many voters are really voting, less on the individuals, than on which party they want to see control Congress.
So, it would be surprising, to see Walker's support collapse, any more than it would have been to see Roy Moore's support collapse, in Alabama, in 2017, when the revelations came out. And that is for--
HUNT: Though it wasn't up for Moore to lose.
BROWNSTEIN: But that's the point. It doesn't. You are not necessarily going to see him collapse. But it won't take much, to tip this race. And by, in almost all public polling, he is trailing. And he needs momentum, down the stretch, I think, most people agree, to get over the top.
And in particular, Warnock is probably right at the door, of the level of support that he needs, among suburban White-collar voters. He probably needs like 44 percent, 45 percent, among college-educated Whites to win? That's what Biden had in 2020--
BROWNSTEIN: --when he won the state.
HUNT: Especially women, yes.
BROWNSTEIN: He's polling around 42 percent, or 43 percent.
BROWNSTEIN: And you got to think, this is the kind of thing that is just going to make it tough, for Walker, to get the last few points, he needed. Having said that, this could easily go to a run-off, with control of the Senate, once again, at stake.
HUNT: Just unbelievable!
HUNT: So, Scott Jennings, let me put this to you.
Because, a big part of, and this is what, his son was alleging, is that there is hypocrisy, going on, especially because Walker has taken, quite frankly, one of the most extreme positions, of any Republican Senate candidate, on how abortion should be dealt with, nationally.
Here's how Walker has explained his position, on abortion policy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
H. WALKER: I'm a Christian. I believe in life.
I've always believed in life.
There is no exception in my mind. Like I said, I believe in life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No exceptions for?
H. WALKER: No exceptions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Again, that's no exception for incest, for rape, for the life of the mother. Almost all these laws that even the reddest states are implementing, at least have something in there that accounts for the life or health of the mother. I mean, how do Republican voters justify this, in their minds?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER SENIOR CAMPAIGN COMMS ADVISER TO SEN. MCCONNELL, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH, COLUMNIST, USA TODAY: Well, Republican voters are worried about issues beyond abortion.
I mean, this is one of the hallmarks of this whole campaign cycle is that Republican voters and, I think, a lot of independent voters are more concerned about inflation, economy, immigration, crime. And that's really the campaign.
HUNT: And they're concerned about hypocrisy, from their politicians?
JENNINGS: I mean, I don't know. I mean, we played a lot of video, of Herschel Walker's family, tonight. We haven't played any of Raphael Warnock's wife, who said a lot of things, to say about Raphael Warnock. We've not talked about--
HUNT: Well, in fairness, she has not said that he put a gun to her head, or anything along those lines.
JENNINGS: In fairness, she has said that he's an actor, that the whole thing is an act. And so, I think, you've got two guys here that have--
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: A little different.
JENNINGS: --that have - is it?
HUNT: I mean, I think--
HUNT: I think we can make--
JENNINGS: Why is it different?
CARDONA: A gun to a head? Having--
JENNINGS: And in an interview - and in an interview, with his wife, where they talked about his mental health struggles?
CARDONA: Having had multiple children with multiple wives? And then this kind of hypocrisy? Yes, it's different.
JENNINGS: No, I really don't think so.
CARDONA: It's different.
JENNINGS: Because, he and his wife did an interview together, about his mental health struggles, and what he has had to overcome. And it has been, I think, unfairly clipped, and made it appear, as though she was making an allegation against him, when she was appearing, with him--
JENNINGS: --to talk about his struggles.
BROWNSTEIN: On that point, though, we're all focused on the abortion allegation, today, understandably. But kind of lost in the sauce, his son tweeted last night--
BROWNSTEIN: --they had to move six times, in six months, out of fear of him committing violence--
BROWNSTEIN: --against them. And that is something that is, I - when people say, Rick Scott says, "It's a Democratic smear machine that is surfacing this," is his son, who is--
CARDONA: A conservative influencer, right.
BROWNSTEIN: --a conservative - is his son part of the smear machine?
JENNINGS: I don't know. And you know, what?
BROWNSTEIN: Certainly. That's your take (ph)?
JENNINGS: And here's the thing. I agree - I agree with one thing you said, that most voters and, I think, this is true of people in both parties, are looking at this, not through the lens of individuals.
JENNINGS: But through the lens of what does it mean for the country?
JENNINGS: And here's the argument that Walker's could make, to overcome all of this. That "If you think Joe Biden and the Democrats are doing a great job, and you're happy with what you see at the grocery store, and you're happy with the country, being off in the ditch, by all means, vote for Warnock, who will enable all of it. And if you want a check and balance on it? Go a different direction."
BROWNSTEIN: And that is what--
JENNINGS: That's the argument.
BROWNSTEIN: That is a real argument. And that is a real argument (ph).
BROWNSTEIN: But the question is in a state that is a 10,000 vote state?
JENNINGS: Yes. For sure.
BROWNSTEIN: I mean, is there some--
HUNT: And this is a United States Senate seat.
BROWNSTEIN: Right, exactly.
HUNT: This is not a small position, sorry.
BROWNSTEIN: No, no, as we say, like we're talking about Roy Moore. I mean, it did not crater Roy Moore's support, when these really disturbing revelations, came out about him. But he didn't win, in the end.
BROWNSTEIN: Even in Alabama, which is a much redder state than Georgia is now.
BROWNSTEIN: So, the question really isn't whether this kind of wipes the slate. It's whether it is just enough of a thumb on the scale in a race that is essentially, very close to begin with.
CARDONA: And because it is very close, it will be won, on the margins.
Scott, you're right. I think that Republicans will absolutely come to his aid. They will not abandon him. The NRSC has already said that. I think he is actually making that coalition, stronger, because he can point to, he can try to say, "They're trying to smear me."
But we have not talked about the underlying, what I believe, is not being well-counted. The massive mobilization of women, who are already pissed off, about abortion.
And the economy and those other issues will continue to be front and center. But when you are telling more than 50 percent of the electorate that they don't have rights, today that they have enjoyed for 50 years? That is a massive mobilization that I don't think any poll is capturing.
HUNT: I mean, look--
JENNINGS: Monmouth survey, this--
HUNT: --I think that's possible.
HUNT: Sorry, go ahead.
JENNINGS: Monmouth survey, this week, number one issue, by far?
JENNINGS: Number seven? Abortion.
CARDONA: Like I said, I don't think--
JENNINGS: The bucket - the bucket for inflation--
CARDONA: --it's capturing then.
JENNINGS: --the bucket for the pain that people are feeling, right now, in their everyday lives, is a lot bigger than the one, you just laid out.
BROWNSTEIN: You know?
HUNT: Look, Scott, the question--
CARDONA: We don't know that.
HUNT: --the question, for me, I mean like--
JENNINGS: Yes, we do.
HUNT: In a House race?
CARDONA: What I talked about is not being measured--
JENNINGS: Are you on--
HUNT: Hold on. Hold on. Hold on.
CARDONA: --in the polls.
HUNT: In a House race, I'm willing to buy your argument.
HUNT: Like people are just saying, I'm voting with my tribe, I'm not.
BROWNSTEIN: Totally parliamentary, right. CARDONA: Right.
HUNT: In a Senate contest, where you - I mean, Herschel Walker is one of the most famous people. I mean, you could argue, at one point, he was famous cross-country, one of the most famous people in Georgia, undeniably. Raphael Warnock preaches at Martin Luther King's church. People know this about these people, and they are choosing between two people, on these margins--
HUNT: --that Ron is talking about.
JENNINGS: I do--
HUNT: How do you think this is going to matter to those people?
JENNINGS: I totally agree. It is an extremely close race, a few thousand votes here or there.
I will just say, people are hurting. The pain is real. And the average Republican is looking - in a worst-case scenario, I think, the average Republican, is looking at this, saying, "Well, Herschel Walker paid for one abortion."
JENNINGS: "Raphael Warnock wants to pay for all of them, and at the last possible minute."
BROWNSTEIN: But there's--
JENNINGS: And that's how they're going to carry this forward.
BROWNSTEIN: There's - the problem - the problem with that is there's a pro-choice majority in the state.
CARDONA: That's right.
BROWNSTEIN: And even if every Republican says that, if enough Independents say, "This is someone I just can't abide in the Senate," it's not enough for Walker. And the real reason Republicans have to take--
JENNINGS: You want abortion to be the number one issue, so badly.
CARDONA: And you also--
JENNINGS: And it's not.
HUNT: Maria, final word. CARDONA: You also - you also have the Trump Effect, which is Trump got elected, in 2016. But then, you saw a huge backlash, from independent moderate suburban women, who did not want that kind of not just hypocrisy, but frankly, misogyny, which is what you can underscore, is what Herschel Walker has shown throughout his life.
BROWNSTEIN: And those women that are not as vocal in Georgia? But they are there--
HUNT: They're enough.
BROWNSTEIN: But there may be just enough of them.
HUNT: But they are there.
BROWNSTEIN: But there may be just enough of them.
HUNT: And, yes, the women, I'm sorry, the women of Buckhead, Atlanta, is sort of my electing calculation--
HUNT: --of what we're talking about. And they are very important.
All right. Maria, thank you so much for being with us today.
CARDONA: Thank you.
HUNT: And your voice was very much in the mix.
HUNT: So, we really appreciate it.
Ron and Scott are going to stick around.
Ahead here, Donald Trump takes his fight, over the documents, seized at his Mar-a-Lago home, to the Supreme Court. His emergency request, and what it could mean, for his battle, with the DOJ, up next.
HUNT: Former President Trump, is now turning to the Supreme Court, over those seized documents, marked "Classified," at Mar-a-Lago.
In an emergency request, Trump's attorneys argue that an appeals court, quote, "Lacks jurisdiction," end quote, when it ruled that the DOJ could keep the roughly 100 classified items, separate from a Special Master's review. Trump's attorneys are now asking the High Court, to ensure the Special Master gets to review those items. It's just the latest instance, in which Trump is involving justices, in his investigations. Remember, three of the six conservative justices, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Coney Barrett, were Trump appointees.
I want to bring in Shan Wu, former federal prosecutor; and Miles Taylor, the former Chief of Staff, to Trump's then-Homeland Security Secretary. And, of course, Scott Jennings is back with us as well.
So Shan, let me start with you, on the legal stuff here. What is Trump trying to accomplish, with this request?
SHAN WU, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Honestly, he's trying to accomplish further delay. He wants to slow the whole thing down. And he's making a very narrow jurisdictional argument, which is that the Eleventh Circuit lacked the authority, the jurisdiction, to review any part of this order. And it's a little bit convoluted.
One of the points they make, is they claim that the District Court judge, Cannon, Trump appointee, didn't really stay anything, because she didn't tell the Justice Department, or the government, to do anything, merely to let the Special Master review the documents.
But my question would be, how is the Special Master going to get the documents, if they don't give it to him?
WU: So, it's kind of convoluted.
HUNT: So, just to follow up, on that, I mean, obviously, the court can decide whether or not they want to take this up. They don't have to.
HUNT: Clarence Thomas has requested that the DOJ responds to Trump's filing, by 5 o'clock, next Tuesday. I mean, how do you think the court is going to respond to this?
WU: I think they're going to respond by upholding the Eleventh Circuit. Trump has not had this sort of record of success, with SCOTUS, as he thinks he deserves to have. And this is this kind of legal technical issue that they don't rule on the basis of a cultural issue, religious beliefs.
And remember, they're going up against a Attorney General, who's a former Court of Appeals judge, as well as the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. I think Supreme Court is going to uphold the Eleventh Circuit.
HUNT: All right.
So, Miles, Trump's team, in this filing, also talked about the former President's declassification powers which, of course, have come up, and been a periodic issue. The filing says "Trump was still the President of the United States when any documents bearing classification markings were delivered to his residence in Palm Beach, Florida. As such, his authority to classify or declassify information bearing on national security flowed from this constitutional investment of power in the President."
But, of course, they are still refusing to say whether or not he actually did declare them declassified. Like, what is going on?
MILES TAYLOR, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO TRUMP DHS SECRETARY: Well, I think, that's what gets to this order. I mean, Shan is right, that this is narrow. But I don't think that means it's insignificant.
Why did they want the court to rule this way? Well, it's been very evident that Trump's defense attorneys want access to the documents. Why? Because the documents are likely what are going to lead to an indictment. They need the documents, to mount the defense that they want to mount.
Now, are they going to get them? That depends on what the Supreme Court says. It ultimately depends on what's going to happen after the Supreme Court makes a decision.
But this is going to be, make no mistake, a document-by-document fight, because each of those potential indictments, is going to depend on each of those documents.
So, why do they want to see what's in them? Well, Trump didn't have a catalog of what those documents were, before they were taken.
I mean, I saw how Trump handled things, in his Oval Office, when he had staff, to handle his classified documents. He didn't handle it well. Sometimes, he waived classified documents in front of reporters.
They want to get those documents, so they can figure out what their defense actually is, on the things, the Justice Department seems likely to indict them on.
And look, here's another question. It's been eight weeks, eight weeks, since Donald Trump was found, with documents, in his possession that he lied to the federal government, about having. And we still don't know why he had them, and what he was intending to use them for. I mean, that's - they've had a zillion filings, to indicate even the smallest excuse, for why Trump had these documents. His team still hasn't provided one.
HUNT: Well, and the thinking seems to be because they can't do that, without incriminating him.
I mean, Scott Jennings, from a political perspective, here, I mean, there are a lot of Republicans, in Washington, who would really love, for Donald Trump, to go away, even if they won't say that in public. What is the hope, here, in terms of how this case, will be handled, among people, behind-the-scenes? JENNINGS: Well, I mean, I don't know.
HUNT: Public, specifically.
JENNINGS: I mean, I don't know. I mean, on the one hand--
HUNT: I mean, they're about to nominate him again, potentially.
JENNINGS: Yes. I mean, that's the thing. I mean, there's been a big argument, in the Republican Party, over the last several months, really, since he left office, about whether, if he got indicted, if it would make him a martyr or not, you know? And so, I mean, that has been a legitimate debate that's been going on, behind-the-scenes.
I will say about the Supreme Court, I have a lot of confidence that they're going to rule on the merits of the law. I don't think they're going to, you know, appointed by whoever doesn't matter. I think - I trust this court to do the right thing.
HUNT: I mean, they have showed--
HUNT: --in previous instances, where the President has gone to them, they have not really indulged his tendencies.
JENNINGS: Absolutely. So, I think, that's number one. Number two, I agree on the delay stuff.
Number three, I think where they get super-interesting is, there's been some indication, by some of his people that are close to him, in public domain, this week that he may want to announce a campaign, by Thanksgiving. And so, if this thing is still going on, after he becomes a candidate, what does that do to the Department of Justice? I have no idea.
JENNINGS: But, I'm guessing, they're hoping to push it out beyond that--
WU: Absolutely, yes.
JENNINGS: --any indictments, because it helps them muddy the waters, and make it look political, so.
HUNT: Oh, boy! Well, here we go, 2024, five weeks till the midterm elections. But we're going to be in the thick of all of this. I mean, we kind of already are.
Scott Jennings, thank you very much, for being here tonight.
Shan and Miles are going to stick around.
One of the first cases, already being heard, by the new Supreme Court, is a major test, of the Voting Rights Act. Is gerrymandering in Alabama designed to cut right through the heart of the Black vote?
We're going to talk with the man, leading the fight for change, and what he's looking for, from the justices, when CNN TONIGHT returns.
HUNT: Here is the reality, on the ground, in Alabama. The state's White population is shrinking. And it's Black and Hispanic population is growing. But these shifting demographics are not represented in Congress. And you're looking at the reason, why.
(GRAPHIC IS SHOWN OF ALABAMA CONGRESSIONAL MAP)
HUNT: This is Alabama's 7th congressional district. It was gerrymandered, to ensure that it would become the only district in the state, where Black people make up the majority.
That's not our assessment here. A three-judge panel, including two judges that were appointed by Donald Trump, ruled unanimously that the state's congressional map was illegal. They said, quote, "Black voters have less opportunity than other Alabamians to elect candidates of their choice to Congress."
The Supreme Court heard arguments, in the case, today. In her first case, the newest Supreme Court justice, Ketanji Brown Jackson, said issues of race matter, especially when it comes to the 14th Amendment, guaranteeing equal justice under the law.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUSTICE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES: The legislator who introduced that amendment said that quote, "Unless the constitution should restrain them, those states will all, I fear, keep up this discrimination and crush to death the hated freedmen." That's not a race neutral or race blind idea in terms of the remedy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: On the merits of the law, Justice Elena Kagan, called this one a quote, "Slam-dunk." But with the court's 6-3 conservative majority, even slam-dunks are not a sure thing.
I'm joined now by one of the people, who is suing Alabama, over the congressional map, Evan Milligan.
Evan, thank you so much, for being here, tonight. I really appreciate having your perspective. And I just want to start by talking about the real-world impact that this is having, in Alabama, in terms of who is representing Alabamians, in Congress?
EVAN MILLIGAN, LEAD PLAINTIFF IN ALABAMA VOTING RIGHTS CASE, SUED ALABAMA OVER ITS NEW CONGRESSIONAL MAP, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ALABAMA FORWARD: Sure. And thanks for having me. So, in Alabama, right now, we have one of our seven congressional districts that has a majority Black voting age population. And that district is District 7. It's represented by Congresswoman Terri Sewell.
But with the exception of that district, none of our other congressional districts, actually have a real footprint, in the Black Belt region, of our state, or - and the Black Belt is the central part of our state.
It's one of the poorest regions, of the country, but also one of the most culturally-rich areas, in our country. We have things dating back to the origins of gospel, Bluegrass Music country. So, there's a lot of things that have come out of this part of our state.
And without congressional representation, it's really hard to deal with some of the infrastructure issues, there, some of the issues related to the need, to bring in new employers, or manufacturers, for jobs. So, having an additional district will bring more representation for that area.
HUNT: So, let's talk about exactly what this looks like, on the map. I want to put this up, for all of our viewers.
(GRAPHIC IS SHOWN OF ALABAMA CONGRESSIONAL MAP)
HUNT: This shows that there are key moments, in the civil rights movement. Remember, so much of this unfolded, in Alabama. The spot of Rosa Parks' arrest is on one side of that red line.
HUNT: And the site of Dr. Martin Luther King's church, is on the other side of that line. So, District 7 has a Black representative. That's Terri Sewell, as you mentioned.
HUNT: District 2 does not. I mean, what - talk about the symbolism of that.
MILLIGAN: Sure. So, when we're drawing maps, in this way, we're basically, in District 7 - in the case of District 7, pooling lots of Black communities, together. It's called packing. So, we're packing communities together. Then, in the other districts, we're cracking them.
So, whereas that we do have a Black population that could warrant additional, at least one other additional opportunity district, what we have is those communities basically being diluted, among the remaining districts.
So, in that map, you see, you have an example of a city that has considerable Black history, Black communities, on all sides of - in Montgomery County, Montgomery city, have Black communities that are very old, on all points, of the city.
But with the exception of those that are on a Southwest, and western side, those communities have been drawn into District 2, which is a majority White district, so as to - and one of the impacts is that it dilutes the votes of those Black communities that are in those neighborhoods.
HUNT: Yes. I mean, it's really interesting. And I think it really helps people, wrap their head around the idea that this - the way that these lines were drawn, is separating neighbors, from neighbors, and people with shared common political interests, that are different, from people, perhaps, in a farther geographic area, in this way--
HUNT: --that seems, or that this judicial panel said is essentially arbitrary.
So, Alabama is trying to argue that it goes beyond this map that the Voting Rights Act only covers intentional discrimination.
HUNT: And they say that this is not that.
We heard multiple conservative justices, push back, on that, today. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS, SUPREME COURT: My understanding of our cases is that you don't have to show intent.
JUSTICE AMY CONEY BARRETT, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES: The statute itself says that you don't have to show discriminatory intent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: So, what do you take, from what they had to say there that you don't actually have to mean for it to be discriminatory, for it to be illegal?
MILLIGAN: I would hope that's where the ruling falls.
Today, obviously, when we look at cases of discrimination, in governments, or even corporations, it's not that we always will find that email, or that letter that says, "I intend to discriminate against XYZ person or group." And so, that's what leads us to test that Supreme Court has passed down.
And in the case of, with our case that we brought, we actually did a three-factor test, on the front-end, to first establish that there was an instance of, one cognizable ethnic group, voting in a bloc. So that would be Black voters in the Black Belt. Then, we needed to establish that there were patterns, of White voters, voting in a bloc. And to overcome that--
MILLIGAN: --the Black communities' votes. And then, the third thing was establishing that there was - so that establishes racial polarization.
So, if we show those things, then we - if we show that it's possible to create a map that also provides another opportunity district, and also comports with traditional principles, of redistricting, then that it's possible to show that there has been at least the inference of a violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
MILLIGAN: So, that's what you - that's what you hear those justices, agreeing with the lower court, on there.
HUNT: Well, it's going to be a while, until we get the decision. But certainly, very interesting, to hear the arguments, in this case, today.
HUNT: And Evan Milligan, thank you very much, for your perspective, tonight.
MILLIGAN: Thank you for having me.
HUNT: We really appreciate it.
HUNT: Coming up, the Oath Keepers sedition trial. Jurors heard a secret audio recording, of a meeting, with talk of bringing weapons, to D.C., and preparing to fight, on behalf of then-President Trump.
But did the Feds miss a key opportunity long before January 6th? That's next.
HUNT: Dramatic moments, playing out, in a federal courthouse, today, during the historic sedition trial, of five members of the Oath Keepers, for their alleged roles, in the January 6th insurrection.
Prosecutors, unveiled secretly-recorded audio, from an alleged November 2020 planning meeting, where members discussed plans, to bring weapons, to Washington, D.C. This is November.
Oath Keepers leader, Stewart Rhodes, is heard saying quote, "We're not getting out of this without a fight. There's going to be a fight. But let's just do it smart and let's do it while President Trump is still commander in chief." He continued, quote, "If the fight comes, let the fight come. Let Antifa go - if they go kinetic on us then we'll go kinetic back on them. I'm willing to sacrifice myself for that. If things go kinetic, good. If they blow bombs up and shoot us, great." Wow! "Because that brings the President reason and rationale," to invoke the Insurrection Act. It's what he was talking about.
Shan Wu, Miles Taylor, and Ron Brownstein, are back with me, to discuss.
So, Shan, I want to touch on like kind of the legal situation, here. I mean, how damning is that audio?
WU: It's very damning. I mean?
WU: In short answer.
HUNT: Short of an obvious question.
WU: Yes. It's the kind of thing that prosecutors really salivate over having that kind of evidence.
And it's frankly very hard for the defense to rebut. I mean, I understand, one of the counsel was trying to say, "Look, this is still protected speech." That's fine. He's not being prosecuted for a speech. He's prosecuted for taking part in armed insurrection. That's the problem for the defense, here.
HUNT: OK. So, speaking of an armed insurrection, I want to show everyone what Ron Johnson, the Senator from Wisconsin, he's up for reelection, seems on track, as of today, to win said re-election. But it is a close race. Here's what he had to say, about January 6th.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): But to call what happened on January 6th an "Armed insurrection," I just think, is not accurate. You saw the pictures inside the Capitol. I saw that day. The armed insurrectionists stayed within the rope lines in the Rotunda.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: So, we should probably underscore that, well, they put out a statement, basically saying he wasn't saying the thing that he said. His campaign did.
But you heard him there.
Ron Brownstein, we hear, on the one hand, this tape, the Oath Keeper, saying, "Hey, we're going to do this, while Trump is still president, so he'll invoke the Insurrection Act."
HUNT: And then, you have a Senator, who was there, on January 6th, saying this.
BROWNSTEIN: People, who study political violence, your former colleague, Elizabeth Neumann, and others, will say that one of the most important things, in tamping down political violence, is for the political leadership, of a country, to send a clear and unequivocal message that it is unacceptable, that it is outside the bounds.
And that is really the opposite of what we have seen happen, in the Republican Party, over since January 6th. They simply have not sent that kind of message. There have been too many officials, who have tried to normalize, or downplay, what happened.
As a result, you get polls like the CBS poll, a few months ago, where half of Republican voters, described January 6th, as patriotic. More than half described it as defending freedom. That doesn't mean all of them are going to undertake a violent act.
But it does mean, for that fringe, on the edge of the coalition? They do not feel they are getting a clear message that this is unacceptable. This reads you out of polite political society. And when Ron Johnson says something like that? There are people, who interpret it as basically a green light.
HUNT: Yes. I mean, well, that's - it seems like he is not condemning it, Miles.
TAYLOR: Well, I mean, to buttress Ron's point, simply look at how out of touch Ron Johnson is, with the reality, of what happened, on the ground.
TAYLOR: He picked the wrong week, to say this was not an armed insurrection, the week we have audio, of key plotters, of January 6th, saying it is, wait for it, an armed insurrection that they were planning.
I mean, the actual participants said that's what their intent was. It's like Ron Johnson, coming out, in a murder trial, and saying "That guy is not a murderer," and then the murderer is saying "No, no, I'm actually a murderer."
I mean, it's totally ignoring the reality. And, as Ron notes, that allows this behavior to get normalized. It's allowed half of the country to start believing that what was legitimately an armed insurrection was just perhaps a tourist visit or something acceptable. I think that's really worrying, from a law enforcement perspective.
But there's another element here. We found out in that case, that this recording was actually submitted, to the FBI, before January 6th. And the Bureau did not act on it, until it was submitted again, the following year. That's really alarming to me from a public safety perspective.
The FBI was very focused on racial justice protests, the previous summer, and Black Lives Matter, and Antifa. And so was my former agency, DHS. They were not focused, the way they should have been, on violent right-wing extremist groups.
HUNT: Yes, no, I mean, that was - that was one of the more remarkable things. And they didn't discover this, because until the tip was resubmitted, in March. It was first submitted in November of 2020, according to CNN reporting.
I mean, and the other thing, Ron? And Shan, I'm interested in your perspective, too, on this, from a law enforcement and legal perspective. I mean, we've sort of seen the arc of this throughout, right? I mean, it started in 2016, at Trump rallies--
HUNT: --when smaller acts of violence, became celebrated, in a way.
HUNT: Occasionally, by the man himself, on the stage. It kind of continued throughout. I mean, from Trump saying, he could shoot people on Fifth Avenue, to what happened in Charlottesville kind of was the slow boil that ends in January 6th.
And now, we're at the point, where the "New York Times" is reporting that threats to lawmakers are through the roof.
BROWNSTEIN: Yes. And not only--
HUNT: From both sides.
BROWNSTEIN: Look, not only lawmakers. Local public health officials.
BROWNSTEIN: Local election officials, local school board officials.
Donald Trump, this week, saying that Mitch McConnell has a "Death wish," and kind of a slinging a racist slur, at his wife? Has there been a Republican senator, including Mitch McConnell, who have raised an objection, to Trump using that language? Our political life is different than it was 20 years, 30 years, 10 years ago.
HUNT: Yes. I mean, it's different in the last, I guess, five years.
BROWNSTEIN: And in the routinization, of this kind of violent imagery, and violent threats, up and down, kind of the political system, this is a different country.
It is kind of moving, in a direction, where political violence, I mean, is sort of integrated, and, again, normalized. And what's missing, is a clear unequivocal declaration, by a broad range of Republican leaders that this is unacceptable. We're just not hearing that.
HUNT: And this is a challenge for law enforcement, too.
WU: It is. And I think, to that point, it's a challenge that we have to be careful about, laying too much at the feet of law enforcement. Law enforcement is not going to solve this issue. I mean, this is a broader societal issue. It's a political issue. It's a lack of leadership.
Law enforcement, in a lot of ways, is, by nature, reactive. So, they're reacting to new volumes of threats, new kinds of threats. But they can't really get at the cause of the threats. And the cause of those threats is a very profound one, right now. It's this normalization of this kind of rhetoric with no accountability.
HUNT: That does tell us that we need to be paying closer attention, when people are sending recordings, like this, to the FBI, to your point.
WU: That's right.
HUNT: Shan Wu, Miles Taylor, Ron Brownstein, thank you guys all, for being with us, tonight. We really appreciate it.
Coming up, a Northern California city, living in fear, tonight. Is a serial killer behind the shootings of seven people? The Police Chief of Stockton, California, joins me, with an urgent plea for help. Next.
HUNT: Is a serial killer, on the loose, in Stockton, California? That's the question that authorities are trying to answer, tonight, after seven people, were shot in separate attacks that police say were related.
Six of those attacks, were deadly. And five happened, in just the last three months. The victims, five Hispanic men, between the ages of 21 and 54, a 35-year-old White man, and a 46-year-old Black woman, who survived.
Police say that they connected the cases through ballistics. And tonight, officials released this brand-new video, showing a, quote, "Person of Interest," in the shootings.
Stockton, California Police Chief Stanley McFadden joins me now.
Sir, thank you so much, for joining us, and I know, on what has been a very difficult period, for all of you.
Can you walk us through what we're seeing, in the video that you put out today? I mean, and why - what stands out to you, about this person?
CHIEF STANLEY MCFADDEN, STOCKTON POLICE DEPARTMENT: Yes, absolutely. Thank you for having me here, today. Our town is mourning with the loss of these recent individual.
And what we found, if you look at the video, is we want our communities, to pay attention to how he walks. He has an inconsistent walk about him, as well, he has a very tall posture, also when he walks.
HUNT: It's very - yes, I mean, it is interesting and definitive. I mean, what about this video ties him to one of these events?
MCFADDEN: Here's what we know, is this is a person of interest, where we've seen this individual, show up, at more than one scene. We haven't seen this individual committing a criminal act, but seems to be showing up, in some of our recent homicides.
So, it's a person that we definitely want identified. We have a very large reward, $125,000 now for this individual. And we just need the community's help, in locating this person.
HUNT: So, Stockton's Mayor said earlier today that we don't know at this point, if there is just one individual, as we see here, or if it's a series of individuals, who are responsible, for these homicides. I mean, in your opinion, are all of these killings the work of a serial killer?
MCFADDEN: If you go by a definition, absolutely, we have, a series of serial murders, occurring in the city. What we can't say is if it's one person, or if it's multiple people.
We're going through a lot of evidence still. We have a great all-star team that's working together on this. And we hope to have a lot more information, to where we can make that determination. But per definition, yes, we have a serial killer, or killers.
HUNT: So scary! So, you connected these cases, through the ballistics. I mean, what more can you tell us about that? Have you determined that one gun was used, to carry out all these shootings, even that one that was outside of Stockton, in Oakland?
MCFADDEN: Well, thus far, it's been a combination of ballistics, and our video footage. We have several hours of video footage that get to our federal and state partners, for helping us review this stuff. But, right now, we're inter - connected, via some ballistics and video footage.
HUNT: OK. So, what other factors may have contributed, to these shootings, being related? I mean, we know that the one survivor, was a woman. But all the other victims were male. What do these victims tell you about the connections?
MCFADDEN: Here's what we're finding, in all of these cases is that, it's very dark areas, where there's not very many cameras, where they're alone, often they're caught off-guard, maybe relaxing in a vehicle, or walking alone, in almost pits of darkness.
We believe that perhaps that this individual, or individuals, may be looking for the area, during daylight, to anticipate where cameras may be, and what would be the best approach, for this person, or persons, to take.
HUNT: Well, that's terrifying. I mean, could there be other cases that we're not yet aware of?
MCFADDEN: Well, that's what we're - we're going through all of our unsolved cases, are partnering with other agencies, throughout the county. That's something that we hope to bring light on, if there are other cases. Right now, we don't have any evidence that shows that, nor do we have any other statements, or information, from our partners, that there are other cases.
HUNT: Well, and here's hoping, for all of the residents, of your city, and for your force that it stays that way.
Thank you very much, Chief Stanley McFadden. We'll, of course, be watching this, very closely.
MCFADDEN: Thank you very much.
HUNT: We'll be right back.
HUNT: I'd like to share a moment of gratitude, with all of you, before we go.
Today marks one year, since I had surgery, to remove a brain tumor. I'm humbled to be able to say that I am completely healthy now, and can physically live my life, as though none of this ever happened.
But I really can't lead my life, like it never did. Because I have just learned so much from what happened. I am so grateful now, to understand the things that I was forced to grapple with, because I had this tumor, growing in my head.
This picture was before the surgery, when they drew the Sharpie line, to show where they were going to cut. I was only 36-years-old, when I was diagnosed with this tumor. It was on a scan. So, there was no way to know what kind it was, until they opened up my head.
I had to spend weeks, planning, what life would look like, for my then-2-year-old son, what that would look like without me there. I thought of my husband, having to be a parent, on his own, having to start over. I thought about my parents, losing a child.
And after surgery, I was so blessed, to learn that I was one of the lucky ones. The tumor was benign. But I was also extremely lucky, to have, through all of this, what truly matters, and in having to face down my own mortality, to be able to truly understand what that meant, at an age when, I still have, thank God, all the time in the world, to change how I live.
Because the people that we love and the health of our bodies matter more than anything else ever can, or will. And showing up for them, and for ourselves, day in and day out, is absolutely what matters the most.
And I am so grateful to God, and to everyone, in my life, who carried me through this trial, and brought me to this changed place. And I'm grateful, to all of you. So many of you sent messages of support to me, and many of you have shared your own stories, of trial. And I just want to say thank you, for trusting me, with that.
Thank you all for watching, tonight. I will be back here, tomorrow night.
Don't go anywhere though. "DON LEMON TONIGHT" starts right now.