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Prosecutor: "Racial Component" In Shooting Of Teen At Wrong Door; Ex-Fox Analyst: Calls Slowed After I Wouldn't Go On With Deniers; Billionaire: Unsure I'd Be Friends With Thomas If He Wasn't Justice. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired April 17, 2023 - 21:00   ET



HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: And there's already one declared. And I might argue, he may be the first, of many, to follow. Because those numbers, personally, Anderson, from a professional point of view, they flat-out stick.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: OK, thank you, Harry Enten. Appreciate that.

ENTEN: Thank you.

COOPER: News continues. Let's hand it over to Pamela Brown, and CNN PRIMETIME.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST, CNN PRIMETIME: All right. Got to love Harry Enten! Anderson, thank you so much.

A major development, tonight, after a teenager is shot, after showing up to the wrong house.


BROWN (voice-over): Charges filed.

ZACHARY THOMPSON, CLAY COUNTY PROSECUTOR, MISSOURI: After a thorough review, of the case file, I filed two felony counts.

BROWN (voice-over): Prosecutors charged the elderly White man, who shot a Black teenager, who mistakenly rang his doorbell, while trying to pick up his siblings.

BENJAMIN CRUMP, AMERICAN ATTORNEY: For simply ringing a doorbell and being profiled, he is shot in the head.

BROWN (voice-over): Plus, potential deal? The judge, in the Fox News defamation trial, delays the start of the proceedings.

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: In order for Fox, to settle this case, what they have to do is admit wrongdoing.

BROWN (voice-over): Is this a sign of a last-minute Hail Mary? We'll have a former Fox insider on, to discuss.

And field trip! House Republicans traveled to New York City, to take on the Manhattan D.A., over crime.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): He's taken his soft-on-crime approach to the real criminals.

BROWN (voice-over): The Democrats say Republicans are covering up, for Trump, not taking on the issue.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are not serious people. If you are serious about doing something about violence, please join us.

BROWN (voice-over): How do voters see it?

CNN PRIMETIME starts now.


BROWN: Good evening. I'm Pamela Brown.

A Black teenager shows up to the wrong home, by mistake, and rings the doorbell. The homeowner, a White elderly man, shoots him twice. And tonight, prosecutors are charging that man, and say the color of the teen's skin, played a role.

16-year-old Ralph Yarl, out of the hospital, tonight, and recovering, at home, in Missouri. His family says he arrived at the wrong address, to pick up his siblings, last week.

Police say there is no indication that any words were exchanged, before the 84-year-old fired shots. He is now charged with two felonies, assault in the first degree, and armed criminal action.

And without specifics, the District Attorney says, race was a factor, in the shooting.


THOMPSON: As the prosecutor of Clay County, I can tell you there was a racial component to the case.


BROWN: And joining me, at the table tonight, is CNN's Athena Jones; and CNN's Senior Legal Analyst, Laura Coates; also, CNN Political Commentator, Alyssa Farah Griffin; and HBO's Bomani Jones, host of "Game Theory."

This case is just so disturbing, so horrific, on so many levels, I think that it is being felt from coast to coast of this country, right? The idea that a Black teen, goes up, to the door, to the wrong home, and gets shot twice. Fortunately, tonight, he is back at home, recovering, which is really incredible.

But now, the man, who shot him, has been charged with two felony counts. But you just heard there, Laura Coates, from the prosecutor, saying that there was a racial component, in this shooting. Why wasn't he also charged with a hate crime?

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST, HOST, "THE LAURA COATES SHOW" ON SIRIUSXM HOST: Well, it seems that in Missouri, which is where this is based, a hate crime is actually a lesser felony than the two that he was charged with.

The latter one, the idea of the armed criminal conduct, is really an enhancement, based on what you're actually using, to commit a felony. So, I think their thought there is charge the highest crime possible, even though there's a racial component, because that would put you in a lower rung.

But you're absolutely right, Pam. I mean, as a mother, I cannot imagine the idea of sending my son, to pick up his younger siblings, and he just gets one part of the address wrong. Just one part!

There is no words that are exchanged, it seems. And he has shot out in the arm, and in the head. And to have even the person, who is the suspect now, be temporarily released, while they were pending charges? That's part of the shockwaves, here, in this country.

BROWN: It's just that visceral reaction, right?


BROWN: It's just absolutely awful.

I want to get to some reporting that we're actually just getting in. These documents that showed the suspect told Police that he was quote, "Scared to death" due to the teen's size!


BROWN: Bomani, your reaction?

BOMANI JONES, HOST, "GAME THEORY WITH BOMANI JONES" ON HBO: No, this -- there's something fundamental about American law. When I was here, last week, we were talking about the BLM shooting, at the protest, in Texas.

And it gets back to something that really drives me crazy. And I know this seems very simple, but it's real. You can't just shoot people, because you're scared.

Now legally, the basis for this is "I was afraid." And what you say that you're afraid, you put a Black person, up there? People find it to be incredibly plausible. They just do with 16-years-old.

This neighborhood apparently, they're so scared of him, and I think it was NBC had a report, he had to go to three houses, before he could get somebody to help him. But before he could get somebody to help him, he passed out, because nobody could help him, which is to say, they were afraid of him, after he had actually been shot, right? But once you have this catch-all idea, "I was afraid therefore I had to do this," and then you have all these laws stacked up, to justify that sort of behavior, where you're going to wind up here all the time.


10 years ago, we were having these discussions, all the time, about the Police doing this. This time, it ain't a cop. He's just an old man, at his house. And he walked to the door, somehow was scared, and opened the door, which I don't really understand that!

BROWN: Yes. I mean, and Police are saying that there was no communication, between the two. I mean, that to me, as egregious as this is, that even makes it worse that--


BROWN: --the teen couldn't even say, "I'm looking for my siblings." He was just shot immediately, just based on his appearance. I mean, that is what's at play here.


To Bomani's point, he could have just kept the door locked. He could have called the Police. There's so many de-escalatory steps that could have been taken here. It is, without a doubt the main factor in this is the racial element.

But I also think there's a huge fear factor. There's this case in Saratoga County, where a woman pulled into the wrong driveway, and was shot dead, by the owner of the home. He ended up being charged with a crime.

But what is it in our society that we are so afraid of people, we may not know, or somebody who approaches us that we may be unfamiliar with? I think that's something much broader that we have to look at. But the color of his skin was the reason he pulled the trigger.

COATES: And don't confuse this with like stand-your-ground or house- related laws.


COATES: People often say like "My house is my castle. And look, I've got every right to do what I want, if you come into my home," in certain States. This is not that, given where we're talking about, and where the location of this teenager, and I'll repeat again, where the teenager was, outside of this person's home?


COATES: This does not implicate the same thing. But I do think there is an opportunity, for people, to your point,

Bomani, to conflate these issues, and to think "This must be that. And so, this is an instance of 'My home is my castle,' and I can protect it anyway I want." People, I think, are -- I'm not giving him an olive branch here, with this particular suspect. But there will be talking points that conflate that.

A. JONES: Well also, you're seeing, on Twitter, you always see a lot of details that people don't -- they don't have the full story. And so, people are saying, "Oh, well, did he go into the house? I would have shot him too. Did he walk up to the house? Get the facts straight."

But the bottom line is that for centuries, people, certainly White people, many of White people have been afraid of Black people. And violence against Black people, because of that fear, has gone unpunished.

And so, I think that this is an instance, where certainly at first it looked as though that might be happening again, because they released this man, after only a couple of hours. But now, they've done the extra -- the extra investigation, and they've brought charges here. And so, I think that was really one of the biggest concerns. That's why we saw so much protests over the weekend.

BROWN: Right.

B. JONES: Well, I have to say this. I think you raise an interesting point, though, when you start talking about why they did not include the hate crime, right? So, if it's a lower standing felony, that's one thing. But that also becomes the thing that throws this, on the news, right? Like this becomes a thing, is it becomes a polarizing issue, when you do this.

And the sad irony of it is, it seems very apparent, from what we can see that the fact that the dude was Black, and knocked on the door, and then got shot. I don't remember the last time I turned on the news, and our lead story "White kid shot because he knocked on the door." I haven't seen that one, right?

But you can't. I can understand in this county that I think is 87 percent White, you avoid the hate crime part, unless you absolutely have to, because that's when we start getting into this basically the who's the real racist discussion, right, which gets completely away from the fact that separate for race, or anything else, you shot somebody for knocking on your door.

And I think that they're going to have to play this delicately, to make sure that that part stays, front and center, even though we can apparently know, the other part really matters, and that's the one that gets people charged up. It could also be the one that leads to an acquittal.

COATES: And remember, hate crimes, I mean, the reason we have this legislation, at the federal and state levels, beyond, and how people think about these, conceptually, is for that very notion, because they're trying to avoid that.

If you have committed murder, there are certain, obviously, consequences, and sentences are supposed to accompany those things. And people can track them and say, "Well, why is this different than that? Why is it not a regular sort of murder," et cetera. But the reason we have hate crime legislation is because we want to

add an additional deterrent that people do not believe that they have carte blanche, to act, on the basis of skin color, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, or anything that's perceived as such.

Because, when we're talking about crime in a hate crime context, especially, it is all the more scary, because it could target anyone, at any given time, because of their perception of who you might be.

BROWN: Yes, this is a really, really important conversation, and thought-provoking too. And I think this is a reminder of the work that still needs to be done, in this country.

Thank you all so much.

Athena Jones, we appreciate your reporting.

Everyone else, stick with us.

Now to Akron, Ohio, where a grand jury has decided not to indict the eight officers, involved, in last year's shooting death, of a 25-year- old Black man. It all started after Jayland Walker was being pulled over, for having a broken license plate.

Let's take a look back at some of the bodycam footage. And we must warn you, here, it is very disturbing.





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (bleep) move.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, don't (bleep) move. Don't (bleep) move.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't (bleep) move.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Show me your hands. Show me your (bleep) hands.







BROWN: According to authorities, Walker drove away, from officers, and fired a gunshot, from his vehicle, during the car chase, and ignored commands, to stop, and show his hands, during a foot chase, and made a motion, interpreted as quote, "Threatening."

A gun was found in his vehicle, after the shooting.

A grand jury has now determined the officers' actions were justified.

Much more now, with CNN's Miguel Marquez, in Downtown, Akron, Ohio.



Look, this is a Main Street. This is the hot -- South High Streets in Downtown Akron. This is the Justice Center here that where all of the courts are. The road here is blocked off. The city really bracing, not really sure what to expect. There have been some protests, throughout the city, a few people down here so far, but not very much.

Let me show you sort of the barricades, around the entire Justice Center, as well, down here. Police did make one arrest, earlier in the evening. All of this, over this case that the Attorney General himself called a horrible tragedy.

But that's not what those nine jurors, on the grand jury, were deciding. It was three men, six women, two of the jurors were Black. They need seven votes, from those jurors, to charge the eight officers, in this instance, and they did not get charges on any of them.

What has made this such a sensitive case, here, is the race and the age of Mr. Walker, but also the fact that he was shot 46 times, during this shooting. Dozens and dozens of shots were fired. Some of them did not hit him. But he was hit 46 times. He was cuffed, after he was shot, which his lawyers said, just added, to the frustration and the misery.

The family, now, of Mr. Walker, says that they still want justice, for their son. They intend to file a civil lawsuit, this summer. Schools here, in Akron, are closed, tomorrow. And the City is bracing to see whatever comes.


BROWN: All right. Miguel Marquez, thank you very much for that.

Up next, new twist, tonight, in the biggest defamation and media case, in recent history. On the eve of the trial, is Fox News making a last- ditch effort, to settle? That's a big question, tonight.

We're going to be speaking live, with a former Fox News contributor, who recently left the network, about his experience.

Stay with us. We'll be right back.



BROWN: The high-stakes defamation trial, against Fox News, is set to begin, tomorrow morning, after a mysterious delay. Opening remarks were set to begin today. But without any specifics, the judge delayed them by 24 hours.

Now, there are rumblings that Fox may be looking to settle with Dominion, the voting company, seeking $1.6 billion, in damages, from the Network. Dominion says, it was defamed, after Fox hosts and guests falsely claimed its voting software illegally rigged the 2020 election, against Donald Trump.

Fox denies any wrongdoing.

Well, tonight, a unique perspective, on this trial.

Mo Elleithee is joining us now. He is the Executive Director, of Georgetown University's Institute of Politics and Public Service, and until recently, a former Fox News contributor, who was with the network, at the time, when all of this was going on.

So Mo, thank you, for your time, here, tonight.

And really, really interested in hearing your perspective on this. Because, you used to be a paid Fox News contributor, as a Democrat. You were offered a chance to renew your contract, at the end of 2022. And you decided to walk away. Why did you want to leave?


I joined Fox, as a Democrat, right after I left my job, as Communications Director, at the DNC. I did it because at the time, we weren't engaging much, Democrats weren't engaging much, with Fox News. And I thought, I can go on and tell people what a Democrat is, or I could let Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity keep telling them, what a Democrat is. I trusted my perspective, a little bit more.

My first night was the 2016 presidential election. And for the next six years, I would go on several times a week, just to provide a Democratic perspective. My last contract was renewed, right before the 2020 election. And then, we know what happened.

In the days and weeks following, when I was doing four to five appearances, a week, they kept putting me on with election deniers. They kept putting me on with people, who were spreading these baseless conspiracies. And I eventually told them, I'm not going to do hits with those people anymore.

Suddenly, my hits started decreasing. They just stopped booking me. They kept me on. But they just stopped booking me. There appeared to be less and less opportunity for me to go out there and push back on these claims.

BROWN: And you think that that is because you were coming on, and saying "No, the election wasn't stolen," that you were pushing back against the election deniers? What did you make of that?

ELLEITHEE: Look, I cannot say to the motive of why they were pushed -- why they were -- why they stopped booking me, as frequently as they had, at one point.

But I'll say this. There's one anecdote of when I went on, against someone that was spreading baseless conspiracy theories, about the election, in the immediate aftermath, devolved into a shouting match, which I didn't like. But she kept pushing these arguments. Within weeks, I was being booked less. And she got a host chair, on the network.

So, all I know is that I was on regularly. And then, after the 2020 election, and specifically, after January 6, I went from four to five appearances a week, to one appearance, maybe every four to six weeks.

BROWN: So, that's a really interesting and telling anecdote that you share.

Was your sense that these election deniers, they were given more of a platform? And were you wondering at the time, why is the network -- why does the network keep giving a platform to these election deniers? I mean, did it make you kind of question what was going on there?


ELLEITHEE: Yes, look, as a Democrat, Fox has always been challenging. But I didn't go on to Fox because of any love for the company. I went on to Fox, because I thought there were a lot of viewers that needed to hear a different perspective.

And as long as I was able to do it -- and I will say this, and I will say this without any hesitation. They always treated me well. They never told me what shows I had to do or not do. I could choose which shows I did. They never encouraged me to say anything, or not say anything.

But at a certain point, they just stopped giving me the platform, to say anything, while they were continuing to not just give a platform, to the conspiracy theorists, but in many cases, elevating them, to greater prominence, putting them in host positions, giving them greater airtime. Whereas, those of us, who were on the other side, saw our airtime shrink.

BROWN: So, it's interesting, because you also say that Fox never told you, to come on, and say anything. They never gave you a script, right, of what to say. You just didn't have the platform to say anything.

But I'm wondering, it's been so illuminating, seeing some of the communications, come from this lawsuit, of Fox anchors, and their exchanges, over text and email, about the election not being stolen, and Dominion and Donald Trump, and then to see what they would say on air.

And I'm wondering if you were privy to any conversations like that of any of the on-air talent, or Fox executives kind of indicating that they knew that the election was in fact not stolen, and yet there was a different story on air?

ELLEITHEE: Yes, look, I don't want to overstate my importance, right? I was just a contributor, on the network, like the lowest rung in the ladder. So, I wasn't privy to a lot of those communications.

But I do know that myself and some of the others that were on the left, would kind of talk and raise our glass, whenever we'd see, and toast whenever we'd see someone leaving the network, either leaving it in protest, or being pushed out, because they wouldn't toe the company line, they wouldn't adhere to this stuff.

While again, we were seeing the deniers, and those who were willing to give the conspiracy theories room to breathe, at the very least, we saw them continue to elevate -- get elevated, in their positioning.

So, we saw -- I saw what we all saw. But I can't speak to any of those specific communications.

BROWN: I appreciate your modesty, about where you are, on the totem pole.

I do want to ask you, though, because--

ELLEITHEE: It is what it is!

BROWN: It is what it is! Exactly!

But the bottom line is you were a paid Fox News contributor. You know the Fox audience by now. Do you think these revelations change their view of the network, assuming they're even -- know what's going on here?

ELLEITHEE: Yes, I don't know. I'm not sure how much Fox viewers are hearing about all of this, right now. And it's been well-documented that they're just not getting a lot of airtime, to this story.

I'll say this. In the years, leading up to the 2020 election, I could name dozens of instances, where I would be at an airport, or at an amusement park, with my kids, and someone would come up to me and be like, "Hey, you're that Democrat from Fox, right? Don't agree with you. But I like hearing what you have to say."

In the post 2020 election world, that became further and further in between. Instead, I was getting a lot more trolling, on Twitter, saying "I don't know why Fox even pays you. You should go to one of the other networks, where you belong." And that tracks with what the lawsuit seems to be indicating about Fox reacting to the ratings hit that they were taking, worried about bleed, to places, like Newsmax.

So, again, I can't say that my fewer appearances had anything to do with all of this. All I can say is that as I was facing a more hostile audience, I was getting booked less, and they were making some very clear editorial decisions.

BROWN: Really interesting, to hear your experience, at Fox, as we await this trial.

Mo Elleithee, thank you so much.

ELLEITHEE: Thanks for having me.

BROWN: Well, he's been sued, for alleged intimidation, by the D.A., prosecuting Donald Trump. But that is not stopping Jim Jordan, the GOP Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, from taking his fight, to Alvin Bragg's doorstep. That escalating feud, when we return.


JORDAN: For the District Attorney, justice isn't blind. It's about looking for opportunities to advance a political agenda.




BROWN: Tonight, the tensions between the U.S. and China escalating, after the U.S. accuses the Chinese, of running a secret and illegal Police station, in the heart of New York City. The FBI arresting two men, who allegedly operated the spy network, in Chinatown, which is the first known overseas Police station, in the U.S.

Joining us now is the Republican Chairman, of the Intelligence Committee, Ohio congressman, Mike Turner.

Good to have you back, sir.

REP. MIKE TURNER (R-OH): Thank you.

BROWN: So Congressman, what is your understanding of these so-called Police outposts? What were they doing?

TURNER: Yes, well, I think this is just going to be the start of what we're going to find in this, China as an authoritarian regime, expanding their footprint, into the United States, as part of their surveillance society, of their own citizens, and certainly penetrating into the United States.

It's great that we're beginning to take actions against this. And certainly one of our questions is going to be, as a committee, why did this take so long, for us to find this? And what were they doing here? And also, how do we prevent this in the future?

BROWN: Right, because according to what DOJ says, this started in 2022. And these alleged spies were using Zoom, with a Zoom employee, to disrupt dissident conversations. This appears to be an escalation by China. And it comes on the heels of a tense few months, after a Chinese spy balloon was shot down.

What do you think is going on here? I mean, you said earlier that China's expanding its footprint, with surveillance. Do you see this as more aggression toward the U.S., from China?

TURNER: Absolutely. They're seeing threats to the United States. And of course, from the -- just the movement of democracy, they're an authoritarian regime. It's why they are of course gravitating toward Russia, and that they're challenging us. And as you just said, they're challenging us, on our streets. They're challenging us in the skies. And we need to bring a stop to it. This is a start.

But clearly, they have expanded their surveillance society that they've already implemented, in their own country, into others, even now, penetrating into the United States.


BROWN: Should there be retaliation by the Biden administration and Congress?

TURNER: Well, certainly, I think what we need to do here is to scrub this, and all the other activities that we're seeing, so we can learn as much about what they're doing, to be able to stop it in the future.

And then, certainly, this needs to be dealt with, with China itself. We can't have the Chinese government believing that it can be in our skies, and on our streets, and at the same time, have our government do nothing.

So, we'll certainly be pushing the Intelligence community, and with our law enforcement, and this administration, as to how are they going to be answering this, to stop China, in the future.

BROWN: China's President is also calling for an increase, in combat training, signaling, it is one step closer to invading Taiwan. Do you, as the head of the House Intelligence Committee, see it as inevitable, at this point that that invasion will happen?

TURNER: Well, I do believe that we should take our adversaries, at their word. And he has made very open statements that he is willing to use force, to take Taiwan, and end the democracy that is there. We certainly see now what they're doing, even in the United States. They have no boundaries. So, the fact that he is calling his nation to war, certainly should be a concern to everyone.

BROWN: But do you think it's inevitable that it will happen?

TURNER: I think that we do have still an ability to -- in deterrence, to let China understand the cost, associated with invading Taiwan. And, I think, certainly, our Western allies need to be doing more, to join with us, and making that message clear. It's not inevitable, but I think it certainly is clearly their stated goal.

BROWN: We've been talking a lot about China as well, with this DOD leak investigation. Some in your party have praised this leaker, for exposing U.S. secrets. What is your response to them?

TURNER: Well, it's completely irresponsible. The individual that leaked DOD secrets that of course, put actual lives at risk, is no hero.

And, at the same time, what we see, here, in not understanding that that lives are at risk, you also have this sense that there's a political agenda here that really is not at all established, by any of the facts.

The other thing that's important here is we do not have any boots on the ground, in Ukraine, except the routine ones that are at our Embassy, for security. There is no presence, U.S. Military presence, in Ukraine.

BROWN: All right, Republican Chairman, of the House Intelligence Committee, Mark Turner, thank you so much, for your time.


BROWN: Some of the Chairman's colleagues, in the House, today bringing a hearing, on crime, to the Big Apple, where we are, right now. The intent was to show the Manhattan D.A. is ignoring crime, in the city, while focusing on prosecuting Donald Trump.


JORDAN: In this country, justice is supposed to be blind, regardless of race, religion or creed. However, here in Manhattan, the scales of justice are weighed down by politics.


BROWN: The facts are that violent crime in Manhattan, in New York City, it's high, but far below record levels.

And Bragg, right now, is in the middle of a legal fight, with the House Judiciary Chairman, Jim Jordan, who wants him to testify, to his committee. And that has sparked accusations of playing politics.


REP. HANK JOHNSON (D-GA): The real purpose in coming to New York City is to harass, intimidate, and threaten Manhattan District Attorney, Alvin Bragg.

REP. DAN GOLDMAN (D-NY): The purpose of this hearing is to cover up for what they know to be an inappropriate investigation.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BROWN: Bill Weir, Laura Coates, Alyssa Farah Griffin, and Bomani Jones, back with us now, to talk about this.

Laura Coates actually spoke with Jim Jordan, this morning, on your show. Tell us about that. What did he say?

COATES: I did speak to him, this morning, on SiriusXM. And I questioned that very notion, about the idea of why Manhattan, why now, why at this time, and it was a more than a coincidence, people were obviously viewing, given that it's Alvin Bragg.

And given what you mentioned, the idea of crime, in other places, including in his home state, listen to what he had to say, and explaining why he felt this was appropriate.


COATES: There seems to be a particular focus on Alvin Bragg, because of the indictment of Trump. Is that what you take issue with? And why are you involved in that particular space?

JORDAN: Well, we take issue with all of it. Of course, we take issue with the idea that he used federal funds to indict a former President for no crime. And then when we want to talk to someone, who doesn't even work in his office, hasn't worked there for a year, he takes us to court. Of course, we take issue with that.


COATES: In a way that was very much a tell in some respects, right? The idea of why he was maybe focusing on this.

And again, when it comes to the idea of subpoenas, of course, remember Jim Jordan, obviously was not one to comply, with a congressional subpoena, in the past.

I talked to him about that very point as to why this might be different. And he said, "Well, look, I wasn't saying I wasn't going to come, before. We were going to have a conversation and talk about it. And then they went right to the subpoena," which of course, is what Alvin Bragg's team is talking about, as well as had this conversation.


So, you look at this not in a vacuum, because it's impossible to look in a vacuum that this is the area he's going to, right now, just a few weeks, after there was an indictment of somebody, he is obviously very close to, Donald Trump.


FARAH GRIFFIN: It just feels like theater.

I worked for Jim Jordan. I advised him, years ago. And I would advise him, right now, crime is a real issue. And it's actually very strong issue, for the GOP, to take on. If you're talking about trying to solve it nationwide, why an Ohio congressman, is going to Manhattan, to talk about crime? He's just running interference for the former President. It's abundantly clear.

When I worked for him, he prided himself in being a fiscal hawk. So what does it cost to stand up a field hearing, in New York City, when you should be doing your job, on Capitol Hill? It's political theater. It's, again, it's about protecting who they think is going to be the presidential nominee.

B. JONES: Well, as for protecting the nominee, but using just an old playbook. Crime, for the right, has never been about crime, right, like tough on crime? The people, who really want you to be tough on crime? And they've done plenty of studies, on this. It's strongly correlated to an opposition of the expansion of civil rights.

So, whenever somebody comes and says they have this fascination with crime? Crime is a really broad term that involves a lot of white- collar stuff that nobody's ever talking about, when they say, "And it's time to get tough on crime."

FARAH GRIFFIN: Like what Donald Trump did.

B. JONES: That's exactly what the thing is. And so, the idea that you're putting forth is that no, you're ignoring the real crime. Now, they're not ignoring the real crime, in New York. Like, if you're here, and especially relative to other places, where you see crime rates being higher, especially those where this rhetoric, actually works, right, where people hear this and it goes.

So, the decision to come here and do this is so transparently, not just about protecting Trump, but it's also using a very clear set of coding that works, just about every time. People keep on falling for it no matter how many times people say something about it.

BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The irony is that there will be people, from Jim Jordan's district, in Ohio, who come to New York, this week, and come to Manhattan, go take in a show, enjoy Central Park, in the springtime, and won't see any of the horror show.

And their neighbors, who may watch Fox News, won't come to New York, for that very reason, right? I think it feeds into the lead story, this atmospheric fear of fear, of suspicion of the other, of dividing the country, into shirts and skins, and then using the systems, within the rules, in order just to, go for takedowns. It's the price we pay, you know?

BROWN: Since you speak with people across the country--

WEIR: I think when a kid knocks--

BROWN: --what is your sense?

WEIR: I speak to my own family. You know what I mean? I'm from -- I grew up all over the country. I was sort of a gypsy kid. My mom was an evangelical. So, I lived in the Bible Belt. But I'm from Wisconsin.

And I remember, going back to Milwaukee, to do a special, after the 2016 election. And I grew up, on the north side of Milwaukee.

And my uncle's in Wautoma, saying, "Oh, don't go in there after dark."

I went knocked on my old door. The woman was lovely. It was -- people were fantastic. But my uncle, in the country, wouldn't know that. He's not driving, to Milwaukee, to hang out with these people. And those people, in Milwaukee, aren't hanging out with him.

So, it takes courage, to cross these barriers. But the barriers just seem to be--


WEIR: --becoming bigger and more weaponized, you know?

BROWN: Yes. It's just it's really sad. You're absolutely right.

And we should note, for our audience, we did ask Jim Jordan, to come on this show.

Apparently, he wanted to talk to Laura Coates. But he didn't want to come on this show. We asked though!

FARAH GRIFFIN: Who could blame?

WEIR: Who could blame?

COATES: I mean, SiriusXM, radio isn't the same (ph).

BROWN: Barely.

COATES: They don't have to put makeup on, for the radio.

WEIR: Don't sell yourself short.

COATES: There's no mascara.

BROWN: Well.

COATES: It's good selling, I know not to put it.

BROWN: Got the sales pitch down.

All right, why don't we go back and listen to that interview?

And stick around, because everyone will be back at the end of the show.

And tonight, we're hearing, for the first time, from the billionaire megadonor, at the center of the controversy, involving Supreme Court Justice, Clarence Thomas. What Harlan Crow says about their friendship, the lavish vacations, and the Nazi artifacts he collects, up next.



BROWN: Supreme Court Justice, Clarence Thomas, will amend his financial form, to reflect a previously-undisclosed real estate deal, he made, with his friend, and GOP megadonor, Harlan Crow, according to our Ariane De Vogue. This, after a ProPublica investigation, into the judge's ties, to Crow.

The deal involved three Georgia properties, including the current home of Thomas' 94-year-old mother.

And tonight, we're hearing, from Crow himself, in a brand-new interview.

Joining us now, the journalist, who conducted that interview, Dallas Morning News' Business Columnist, Cheryl Hall.

Hi, Cheryl. Thanks for coming on.

So, you've been, at the Dallas Morning News, for 51 years. You've known Harlan Crow, for decades. Tell us about this interview, because he's typically media-shy. Tell us about why he wanted to speak with you.

CHERYL HALL, BUSINESS COLUMNIST, THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Well, I'm not sure that he wanted to speak to me, at first. In fact, I reached out to him, thinking, I was probably the one journalist, who could get him to talk. And it was crickets for a while. And finally, he said that he might do it. And I tried to explain to him why he should do it. And so, that's how it came about.

He is extremely reticent, and uncomfortable, with being in the limelight, so.

BROWN: And you talk about that in your article. And, by the way, kudos to you, for being a good journalist, being persistent. You got the interview.

And there was a particularly revealing moment, Cheryl, when you asked Crow, if he would be friends, with Clarence Thomas, if he was not a Supreme Court Justice. And he said, "It's an interesting, good question. I don't know how to answer that. Maybe not. Maybe yes. I don't know."

Did that answer surprise you? And I'm just curious if you could give us some more color. What was his body language like when he was answering this?

HALL: He was extremely pensive. I mean, he actually thought it was a good question, I think. And didn't -- it wasn't one of those questions that he answered, with a snap answer. He gave it some thought. And I think he truly doesn't know how he would answer that.

The fact is that powerful people enjoy being around powerful people.

BROWN: Yes, that's -- that is true.

Were there any moments, in this interview that where he became emotional?

HALL: Yes, and actually, at the very beginning, I went in, and my first question, to him is, "Why are you doing this interview with me?"


And he put his hand to his face, and he looked down, and he said "Give me a moment."

And then, he looked up, and his eyes were kind of watery. And he proceeded to say, why he was doing this, that he felt that he and Thomas had been unduly wronged, by the media and -- but it was an interesting moment. He looked extremely tired. It's been a really rough week for him.


And we should note, ProPublica, it's a non-partisan media -- independent media publication, so, also not-for-profit as well.

Cheryl Hall, thank you so much. Really interesting to read your article. Thanks for bringing us inside of it, that interview.

Well Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, escalating his fight, with Disney, by threatening to build a state prison, next to Disney World. That's up next. You're not going to want to miss this discussion, up next.



BROWN: Florida's governor, escalating his fight, against Disney, suggesting the State might build a prison next to Disney World, or even try competing directly, with the mouse. Take a listen.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Come to think of it, now people are like, well there's -- "What should we do with this land?"

And so, you know, it's like, OK, kids, I mean, people have said, you know, maybe -- maybe have another, maybe create a state park, maybe try to do more amusement parks. Someone even said like, maybe you need another state prison. Who knows!


DESANTIS: I mean, I just think that the possibilities are endless.


BROWN: The move would be in retaliation, for the company, resisting a State takeover, of its special taxing district.

Governor DeSantis is also talking about other ways, of fighting back, including raising taxes, on Disney's theme park empire, and adding new State inspections.

My panel is back with me now.

Wow! I mean, he seems to be kind of having fun, with coming up with ideas, about how he's going to--

WEIR: Nice theme park for kids you got there!


WEIR: Be a shame if a maximum security prison happened to it.


WEIR: I mean, let's play this out. What's going to tank the business? Is it the glimpse of barbed wire, like from the top of the roller coaster?


WEIR: Or is it the fear of a prison break and they're going to hide out as Goofy, like what? The logic of that, it doesn't -- escapes me.

But what's interesting is Disney's first tweet, after he did that was the "First-ever Disneyland After Dark: Pride Nite is coming during Pride month, this June."

BROWN: Wow interesting!

WEIR: "Separately ticketed event celebrating LGBTQIA+ community & allies will have themed entertainment, Disney characters, specialty menu items & more."

BROWN: Yes. And actually, that's actually important context, because let's go back and remember why we're even at this place, right? Because Disney objected to a bill, from Ron DeSantis, that limited classroom instruction, of sexual orientation, and gender identity. So that's--

WEIR: But it actually started before that with the vaccine mandate.

BROWN: With the vaccine mandate, yes.

WEIR: That's what really set him off initially--

BROWN: Yes, right.

WEIR: --as Disney said, employees must be vaccinated, and he was going to fine Disney. And I think that's where it started.

BROWN: That's where it started.


BROWN: But then, when they opposed the bill.

WEIR: Yes.

BROWN: Or the new law? It really ramped up.

WEIR: Exactly.

FARAH GRIFFIN: The thing here is Governor DeSantis is playing smart primary politics. The base loves this. They're like "He's taking it to woke Disney." It's terrible actual politics. This is the second biggest employer, in his State that he's taking on.

Also, June is Pride month. If you're going to take on an every business that decides to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, you're going to be taking on a lot of different woke corporations.

It worked when he was beating Disney. But he got outmaneuvered. And now, it just seems this like petty tit-for-tat, like what is the end game here in sight.


COATES: And there's also one report, we have, earlier today, right that there is at least one megadonor, who's beginning to walk away a little bit, knowing that this is having an impact, in greater areas, here.

But, remember, go back to what Disney did that was really pretty impressive, you think about it? When all this was coming, and brewing about the Reedy Creek District, they probably got themselves grandfathered in, to be able to essentially overturn the appointment of this specialized panel that DeSantis actually wanted to happen.

He's trying to challenge it, and the idea of whether this new panel that doesn't have much power, and has to actually go to Disney, to clarify anything, or approve anything, whether he can disrupt that. So, they're trying to figure out ways, to retaliate, knowing that there is this legal angle, that they might not be able to actually undermine Disney, for.

B. JONES: OK, full disclosure, I still cash checks from them, and I worked for Disney, for the better part of the last 20 years, right?


B. JONES: Let me just go ahead, and get this part out here.

WEIR: You're transparent!

BROWN: All right, go ahead.

B. JONES: I would like to make this reminder.

They got no fly zones, around this Disney stuff. I simply say all that to say that this is a pretty well-entrenched institution, like this reminds me, a lot of the idea that the base loves this. They love it, but they still go to Disney World, right?

WEIR: Yes.

B. JONES: And this reminds me, with Chick-fil-A, when some of their more right-leaning politics, really offended a lot of people, who went right in there, and got them Chick-fil-A sandwiches. They were like, "Yes, this is real bad. You're going to stop going?" "Huh? What? What?" "What do you think?"

WEIR: Yes.

B. JONES: You're not going to win a fight, with American people, against the Walt Disney Company, particularly not, as you say, in a State, where they employ everybody, like the whole idea of Orlando, as a city, only exists because this place is there, like this is how we get here.

So, he can keep doing this. He can keep going about it. He might say some funny things. But when the rubber really meets the road, like "You say you're going to put a prison next to Disney?" How do you know?

BROWN: Well also--

COATES: Also Magic Kingdom is so--

B. JONES: How do you know?

COATES: I mean, first of all, I have been. I have little kids. And I have had to -- I don't know if you had a bite that bill, of what it costs to actually go--

WEIR: Oh, yearly! Yearly!

COATES: --to Magic Kingdom.

BROWN: I haven't yet.


B. JONES: Yes.

COATES: Well good luck--


BROWN: All right.

COATES: Yes. And they have -- they have like healthy food there now. So whatever!

But the part of it, if you are trying to build it near it, this is an expansive place, to your bigger point, as well. The idea of the next two is out of it. But also, the idea of trying to create competition, a lot of this goes back to the employment context of it.

Tourism has still suffered, since the Pandemic. We all know this. The idea of trying to undermine -- remember, when the cruise ships were almost not able to go, and stopped there, and had to be diverted, in different areas, because the political contours that was happening there.


This has a tourism angle, and if you're a State governor, looking at the finances?


COATES: That might be the ultimate hook.


B. JONES: Well, look, I--

BROWN: Also, it's free publicity for Disney, by the way, all of this.

COATES: I mean!

B. JONES: Like, I know this man isn't being serious, right? So, we have to like be careful, and not taking this too seriously. What the hell theme park you're going to put next to Disney, and be like "Yes, come on, Disney!"

BROWN: Compete.

B. JONES: Right, like what you got for Space Mountain? What you got for EPCOT, a special on that Michael Jackson movie, or anything there (ph) in quite a long time? Like the whole idea like "Here's how we're going to beat Disney!"

WEIR: And--

B. JONES: --"We're going to put a roller coaster over there. And everybody's going to come to our roller coaster, because Mickey Mouse is to Woke!"

WEIR: And I just want to--

B. JONES: Who has beaten Mickey Mouse?

WEIR: And I want to set up a camera of the faces of the kids, realizing they're going to the other improv!

B. JONES: Yes. The kind of mad (ph) you would be--


B. JONES: --if you showed up, and you're at the DeSantis Land (ph)!

BROWN: And--

B. JONES: After they told you that you were going to go to Orlando. You didn't even ask! Maybe it's Universal. Maybe it's Disney.

BROWN: It's like--

B. JONES: I'm not sure which one.

BROWN: My stomach is literally hurting from laughing so hard.

Bomani, I'm so grateful for you, for making me laugh like that. What a way to end this show! Thank you.

Thank you, Bomani--

COATES: DeSantis Land?

BROWN: --Alyssa, Laura, and Bill, thank you.

And up next, on CNN, country music star, Brad Paisley, joins Alisyn, to talk about his trip, to Ukraine, where he performed, in Kyiv, and met with President Zelenskyy. Back in a moment.



BROWN: Before we go, Police releasing the mug shot of the suspect, charged in the shooting, of a Black teenager, in Kansas City.

16-year-old Ralph Yarl rang the wrong doorbell, while he was trying to pick up his siblings, last week. He was shot, two times.

84-year-old Andrew Lester is charged with assault in the first degree, and armed criminal action.

Thank you so much, for joining us.

I'll be back here, tomorrow night.

"CNN TONIGHT" with Alisyn Camerota starts now.

Hey, Alisyn?