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Lead Attorney For Dominion Speaks On Historic Fox Settlement; Chris Christie: DeSantis Not A "Conservative" For Attacks On Disney; GOP's Comer: Growing Fear That U.S. Aid Going Directly To Taliban. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired April 18, 2023 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: The news continues. Want to hand it over to Pamela Brown and CNN PRIMETIME.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Anderson, thank you so much.
Well, tonight, there's a price for lying about elections, in America. And that price is $787 million and change. That's how much Fox News is going to pay Dominion Voting Systems, for amplifying conspiracies that the company rigged the 2020 election, against Donald Trump.
Fox sort of admitting that their viewers were lied to. Quote, "We acknowledge the Court's rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false. This settlement reflects FOX's continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards. We are hopeful that our decision to resolve this dispute... allows the country to move forward from these issues."
Not exactly a full-throated admission there!
But Dominion was armed with alleged proof that top hosts, and executives, at the right-wing network, knew that the baseless conspiracies, being pushed on air, weren't true, but still sow doubt, about the company, and legitimacy of the election, anyway.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUSTIN NELSON, DOMINION VOTING SYSTEMS LAWYER, LEAD COUNSEL, DOMINION VOTING: The truth matters. Lies have consequences.
Today's settlement of $787,500,000 represents vindication and accountability.
JOHN POULOS, CEO, DOMINION VOTING SYSTEMS: Fox has admitted to telling lies about Dominion, that caused enormous damage to my company, our employees, and the customers that we serve.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BROWN: The $787 million fell short of the $1.6 billion, Dominion was seeking. But it is a staggering amount, in a defamation case.
And the company is vowing, this isn't over.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN SHACKELFORD JR., DOMINION VOTING SYSTEMS ATTORNEY: Money is accountability. And we got that today from Fox. But we're not done yet. We've got some other people, who have some accountability, coming towards them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Here to discuss, Sara Fischer; Laura Coates; Maggie Haberman; and Alisyn Camerota, who spent 16 years, at Fox.
But first, one of the lead attorneys, from Dominion's victorious legal team, joins us now, Justin Nelson.
Hi, Justin, thanks for joining us. Congratulations on the settlement.
How many settlement offers did Fox make?
NELSON: Well, it's funny. I was in the courtroom, picking a jury. And when I walked into the courtroom, this morning, I didn't know it was about to happen. And we walked out, and we had a settlement. So, it happened pretty quickly.
BROWN: And what happened, leading up to that, though, in terms of settlement offers, and what was going on behind-the-scenes? Because, as we know, yesterday, the trial was delayed.
So bring us behind-the-scenes. Why wasn't a settlement reached before things got going today, before you got to that jury selection?
NELSON: Well, it's a good question.
I think, for us, really, it wasn't so much about a settlement as a settlement. It was always about accountability. And today, what we think we achieved was accountability and vindication.
Because, for us, not only, of course, was there over a three quarters of a billion dollar damages award. But as you mentioned, in your opening, there was an admission and acknowledgement of the court summary judgment order that found these lies, about Dominion, to be false.
And of course, as has been seen, in the press, over the past couple of months, we've seen the internal emails, the texts, showing that Fox did in fact know that these were lies.
And so, today, I think was really the culmination of that. And it came together pretty quickly.
BROWN: But Dominion initially wanted Fox to make on-air apologies. Why wasn't that part of this settlement?
NELSON: Well, I really think, again, going back to what our goals were, our goals were accountability, number one, and trying to have some semblance of a whole, for Dominion, as a company, to have some remuneration, for the reputational hit that it has suffered, and continues to suffer, as a result of these lies. And those have been our goals all along. And today's settlement achieved that.
And we could have gone all the way through trial, and obtained some unknown judgment. But what we achieved today was certainty. What we achieved today was, again, nearly $800 billion -- excuse me, $800 million, in the settlement number. And we achieved the admission from Fox that it was the acknowledgement that the court in fact, was correct, in calling these lies.
BROWN: You achieved--
NELSON: So, for us, it was about the fact that ultimately -- yes, go ahead, please.
BROWN: Yes, yes. I mean, let's talk about this, because it was not necessarily a full-throated admission, here, when you look at the statement. The statement is acknowledging "The court's rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false."
You're a lawyer. You know those words are very carefully chosen.
And the reality is millions of people, in the United States, won't necessarily know about this. I mean, do, the viewers of Fox, are they owed an apology, or a retraction, here? I mean, if they don't know about this, where is the accountability that you speak of?
NELSON: Well, it's a really good question.
And, I think, part of what really is going on here is that we are sometimes, we're in these bubbles. And what happened to Dominion was that it just got caught, in this torrent of lies, and it got brought into this alternative universe, where conspiracy theories dominated.
This is a civil litigation case. And what we think happened here was we took the civil litigation, as far as we can take it. We could have gone all the way to verdict. And under defamation law, you don't get an apology. You get money.
And so, what we achieved here with the statement that Fox made, with the certainty of money, and again, from our damages, we had a base case damages model, and then we had a growth damages model. And the settlement today was above our base case damages model.
So, we see today's settlement as complete vindication, and really a message that, as your opening said, lies do have consequences. And it's about having coming back, to these shared facts, because ultimately, we can agree or disagree on issues, even to the most profound importance. But we have to have shared facts, in this society, to have a functioning democracy. And I think today's settlement was a real step, in that direction.
BROWN: And so, what I hear from you is that there was this acknowledgment, in the statement, plus the money from the settlement. There was no apology, in this statement, from our -- from what I am gathering from you.
And I'm going to open this up, for my colleagues, to ask questions.
But just one final point on that. How much of a sticking point, to reach the settlement, was an apology, or a retraction? How much of a role did that play, in the settlement negotiations? Because I know that was something Dominion was asking for early on.
NELSON: Well, I don't really want to get into that. I think, at the end of the day, this goes back to what our goals really were, at this entire settlement, and this entire litigation, which was number one, accountability, and number two, to have some type of monetary settlement.
And look, this is really the first time, in these 2020 election lies, that someone has been held accountable, and held accountable, in a big way. And so, that's why we see today is a real victory.
BROWN: OK. And I'm going to open up now.
Laura Coates, I think you have a question here.
LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST, HOST, "THE LAURA COATES SHOW" ON SIRIUSXM: I do.
It seemed to me that the whole dynamic of this really changed, the second that the judge said, "Look, they can't make any of the First Amendment claims. You've got essentially a leg up. You only have to prove actual malice."
Did you, at that point in time, think this is really the biggest hurdle we had to overcome, to fast-track towards settlement?
NELSON: Well, our goal was to take this to trial. We did not have a goal of settlement. We had a goal of winning at trial. It was only when there is an offer here that really was, showed was effectively a victory that my client decided to take it.
I do think that the summary judgment order of the court was really helpful. We obviously thought the facts were on our side.
And to be clear, we embrace the First Amendment. The actual malice standard is absolutely critical, for journalists. And I think actually, what this settlement today shows is that the actual malice standard isn't just on paper, that journalists -- and you know this. Journalists can't knowingly lie. Journalists can't say one thing in private and another thing in public.
And when we have that protection, and that knowledge, that in fact, there is the protection of the actual malice standard, and that is from the First Amendment, we can be assured that journalists will go ahead and report the truth, and will do so, with the full freedom that the First Amendment allows.
BROWN: Right. Quickly, everyone. Sara?
SARA FISCHER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST, SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER, AXIOS: Well your team had mentioned earlier that this is sort of the first step.
What happens next, for Dominion? And what does this mean for other lawsuits, against other networks that were promoting false theories, about the 2020 election?
NELSON: Yes, that's a great question.
This is one of seven lawsuits. This one settled, today. There are six left. And I think it sends a message, to the other six lawsuits, that accountability is coming as well.
It's not over. We have lawsuits, against Newsmax, against One America News, against Sidney Powell, against Rudolph Giuliani, and Mike Lindell, and My Pillow, and Patrick Byrne. And many of them are still propagating these lies, about the election. And they are still having an effect.
And so, we intend to hold people accountable, because, as we have said, the truth really does matter. And if you are lying, that has consequences.
It had a consequence for Dominion, in the horrible, horrible grievous blow, to the reputation that it had, over the past couple years, and the threats, the death threats that the company really continues to receive.
And it had a consequence, for Fox, today. It paid nearly three quarters -- over three quarters of a billion dollars.
BROWN: All right. Justin Nelson, thank you so much.
And now, I want to turn to Alisyn.
You worked at Fox, for 16 years. What do you make of the fact that Fox viewers won't hear a retraction or an apology outright?
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST, CNN TONIGHT: I consider this a win for Fox.
I consider it a win for Dominion. As he just said, they get a lot of money, and it helps their checkbook. I don't know that it helps their reputation. Because if they -- if Fox never has to make a correction, or a retraction, how is it going to help their reputation?
When they were disseminating disinformation, to Fox viewers? So now, they're not going to make a correction, on-air, to Fox viewers? So, I'm not sure how it's going to help Dominion's reputation.
But I think that it's a win for Fox. The fact that Fox doesn't have to take -- he kept saying they have to accountability. BROWN: Yes, right.
CAMEROTA: They're not doing that publicly, on-air.
This statement is the most weak sauce that I had -- they find that there are certain claims. They don't even say that Fox made the claims--
BROWN: Certainly. Exactly.
CAMEROTA: --certain claims to be false. They're not saying that they lied. They're saying to be false. Sometimes, false statements are made. That--
CAMEROTA: That's not intentional always.
BROWN: And there's a difference between false, and knowingly, right--
CAMEROTA: Of course.
BROWN: --which is the standard. Exactly.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, NY TIMES: My colleague, Jim Rutenberg, at The Times, reported earlier, I'm just reading it here that "Under the terms of the settlement, Fox News will not have to apologize or admit to spreading false claims on network programming, according to a person familiar with the details."
So that gets exactly what Alisyn is talking about. That I'm sure Fox views this as a win for Fox too.
HABERMAN: Because the amount of money, while painful, is far less painful, for Fox, and for News Corporation, than it is for many other entities, certainly for Sidney Powell, or for Rudy Giuliani, or a lot of other people, who are facing suits.
And if -- the lawyer's point was, if we wanted to go to trial, we wanted to, sort of hold people accountable.
If you're not demonstrating that, in open court, and you are making a deal, by which Fox does not have to admit wrongdoing? Then I'm not really sure what they did other than get a lot of money. And a lot of money is something.
BROWN: Well and it's--
HABERMAN: But it's not everything.
BROWN: --worth noting that too, because the peddling of the lies continues, right? I mean, you heard.
HABERMAN: That's my big question, here. I mean, Donald Trump is the front runner for the nomination, again.
HABERMAN: So, what does this look like, for the next year?
COATES: And here's the part of the problem though
BROWN: Exactly. That's what I was going to say.
COATES: I mean, there is what we, quote-unquote, the court of public opinion, wants to hear, and the drawn-out conclusions and testimony of the top anchors. And then, there's the goals of the actual litigants. And I think there is a disconnect between the two.
You see -- you saw Gretchen Carlson's tweet, where she was begging, "Don't settle." Essentially, she wanted to have them take the stand, because she wanted to see this play out, and have the very confirmation of accountability, in that format, and have truth really be on trial, and in the best interests of Dominion.
And so, that disconnect, I think, is what he's speaking to, as a litigator, essentially, look, that may be the goal of the court of public opinion, and this being really the illustration of accountability, since the post-election lies.
But, for them, as lawyers?
COATES: They don't want to be--
COATES: --in trial, handing over their case, to 12 members, which, the lawyer in me is saying, "I understand. Our client said it was a failure, if you went to trial."
BROWN: But then, why then did Fox not settle this earlier, right? This has been going on for two and a half years, right?
And I think that was another point Gretchen Carlson made. And they had to pay out all this money. And they did not have to do the on-air apology, according to the statement, from The New York Times reporting.
But they did release this statement, this weak-sauce statement, as Alisyn rightly points out.
BROWN: So, why didn't they do this earlier?
FISCHER: Well, legal experts, I've been talking to, say they absolutely should have, because they would have avoided so much embarrassment, leading up to the trial, and all of these pre-trial hearings, and in the discovery. One other thing I wanted to know? I asked some of my sources. In addition to an apology, should they be required to issue a retraction, or any corrections? Because it's one thing to not want to apologize, for doing things wrong. But as journalists, when we get things wrong, we have to issue a correction.
FISCHER: And at least make people aware.
BROWN: Exactly. And they're--
CAMEROTA: And I'm so glad you're saying that, right.
CAMEROTA: But that's how you know, it's a journalistic institution.
BROWN: And they say they're the highest journalistic--
CAMEROTA: And so, when they say that--
BROWN: --they have the highest journalistic standard?
CAMEROTA: Prove it.
FISCHER: That is not part of the deal.
BROWN: If you did then you would issue a retraction for--
FISCHER: That is not part of the deal.
BROWN: --the lie.
FISCHER: This is not--
HABERMAN: All they need -- and, in fact, what the statement says is we acknowledge that the court found this. And so just literally as--
FISCHER: Not literally (ph) how weak it is.
HABERMAN: Correct. It's literally as factually--
BROWN: A lawyerly -- very lawyerly.
HABERMAN: --factually precise to what the judge did, and what the court did, without actually saying, "And we agree and we recognize there's no ownership of it." BROWN: So, then what do we do, as we look forward, right, what this means?
BROWN: And kind of going back to what we we're talking about, if Trump is the nominee, right, how he is the front-runner, he's going to continue to spew these lies, about the 2020 election, right? I mean, how does this play out?
HABERMAN: There has -- there was, at least until recently, a noticeable decline, in Trump's visibility, on Fox. And that had been going on for weeks and months. There had been this clear interest, in Ron DeSantis, from the entire Rupert Murdoch Empire. That has shifted somewhat, in recent weeks, as Ron DeSantis has made some self- inflicted errors.
And you saw Trump do a Sean Hannity interview. You saw him do a Tucker Carlson interview. But he's not on, whenever he wants to be the way he was. He's not phoning in, to every show, the way he was. Will that still happen, if the audience demands it? I don't see anything that has changed in what their market planning is.
But I do think that there is probably going to be some internal edicts, on "Don't just let him say whatever he wants on air." And I think that Trump's own advisers are impressing on him, "This is a loser for you." So, he continues to say these things on Truth Social, which has a rather small following. And he's not really doing it elsewhere.
COATES: But see, what can't happen though, I know, Alisyn, you can speak this obviously, and this notion, it can't have this juxtaposition, between look, if the edict is you can't just let the lies go unchallenged, and you put someone in, who's kind of a straw person to say, the opposite, almost the devil's advocate that's there, in the staged position, just to say, "See, we presented an alternate argument here," because the audience itself does not seem to have the appetite, to even have covered this trial.
It's not as if they're going out of their way, to cover the Dominion trial, right now. They're going to try to spin it in any way.
And so, the question will be going forward, for journalists, will it be enough, when you are aware, or have some basis, to know that what is being said is false, is to not just present a prop scarecrow?
COATES: To essentially pay it (ph).
CAMEROTA: I'm so glad you're bringing that up, because I don't think they're going to fact-check Trump. I don't think they're going to stop his lies.
HABERMAN: Oh, I don't think -- I don't think they're going to fact- check him. I also don't think they're going to give him open mic night.
HABERMAN: That's all I'm saying.
CAMEROTA: --the reason that I think they may still give him open mic night is because here there was a clear victim. So, Dominion was the victim of the lies.
BROWN: Sara said, yes (ph).
CAMEROTA: When Donald Trump just spews his lies?
BROWN: He lies (ph).
CAMEROTA: If he's not going after say Dominion, or Smartmatic? There is no victim--
HABERMAN: It's a good point.
CAMEROTA: --other than democracy.
HABERMAN: It's a good point.
CAMEROTA: And truth.
BROWN: Right, defamation against democracy. But where's the victim? You're so right, and I'm so glad you made that point.
Thank you all. Really appreciate the conversation.
All right, coming up, a Black teen, rang the wrong doorbell, and got shot. Now, we're learning what the White homeowner, accused of firing the gun, allegedly told Police, and what it exposes, about the reality of being Black, in America, up next.
BROWN: The nation is under attack from hate. That is the conclusion of the National Urban League's annual report on The State of Black America. The report hopes to raise, quote, "The alarm around the explosive growth of far-right and domestic extremism and the threat it poses to our communities, our families, and our nation."
This coming five days, after a White 84-year-old homeowner, shot 16- year-old Ralph Yarl, after the teen simply rang his doorbell by mistake. That man told investigators he was quote, "Scared to death," due to the boy's size. And he turned himself in today.
Joining us now, for a big conversation, on this, Laura returns. CNN Correspondent, Omar Jimenez; and Eric Cumberbatch from the Center for Policing Equity.
Welcome to you all. ERIC CUMBERBATCH, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR POLICING EQUITY: Thank you.
BROWN: Eric, this idea that the homeowner was scared of his size? It calls so many (ph) cases like Eric Garner, who was six-three. Or George Floyd, who was cited by Police, for why they needed to restrain him, his size was cited by Police.
How tall are you allowed to be, as a Black man, in America?
CUMBERBATCH: That's a great question.
To me, this reflects of Emmett Till, and the adultification of Black boys and girls in America. And ultimately, there are systems, there are policies, and there are people that when they see Black children, they see them as adults. They want to treat them as adults. They see them as being violent, inherently violent. They see them as lacking innocence.
And these are children. These are our most precious gifts, as parents. I have a 17-year-old son, and I fear for him, every day, when he leaves the house.
Ultimately, I think there's been a lot of evidence and research done, around adultification. But folks are scared to call that out. Folks are scared to have the crucial and critical conversations, on multiple levels, about race, and our children.
Extensive studies have been done, by our Co-founder, Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff, penned the essence of innocence, where we look at adultification.
But this is not new in America. And this is a rich history of White supremacy, bigotry and racism that we see today.
BROWN: So, mom, how do you handle it?
COATES: I'm so glad. I mean, my son is just 10-years-old. And while I may be five-foot-three, and my son is already well over my height, at just 10-years-old.
COATES: And you speak to me, very personally, in the idea of what it's like, when you have to figure out how the world is going to see your child.
And for the better part of many years now, we have fixated on the discussion, about how Police are seeing our children, as if the only quote-unquote "Conversations" that Black parents are having with their children is not about books. It's not about learning.
COATES: It's not about love, and the promise of a wonderful future. That it is always confined to Police. But I got to tell you, it often is about how the world at large sees. That the fact that he was present at the door, as any Amazon delivery or my Girl Scout daughter, selling cookies, may have been? Something said, "I'm so afraid as to shoot and aim to kill in the head."
And, as a mom, I am constantly struggling with how I explain this, to my children, and how I prepare them. Does it mean that I make them all the more courageous, and all the more outspoken, and brave, and have the bravado? Or, do I make them humble, and a little bit softer, so that they are perceived differently? That's not a decision I ought to have to make.
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And one thing that I immediately think about is, look, as reporters, we're oftentimes, in the field. We actually have to go knock, on the doors, of a lot of these places, and places that sometimes don't have a lot of Black people.
So, I am stepping up, onto this front porch, doing my job. But I know that I stand out that I could be perceived as a threat. So, I can tell you, whenever I ring a doorbell, just to take an extra precaution, I step almost all the way off the porch. I look to my left and right, just in case someone comes to the door, in the manner that we saw here.
Because, sometimes, as we saw, in this case, there are no words. There are no -- there is no time for discussion. There is no opportunity, as we have to do, sometimes, to make someone feel comfortable, through conversation, especially as reporters. And I think, when I look at this case? Obviously, this is one that I followed closely, professionally.
JIMENEZ: But it's, sometimes, you have to take that reporter hat off, when I examine kind of the scenario that this teenager was put in.
COATES: Omar, we watched you get arrested on television!
BROWN: Yes, I was going to say.
JIMENEZ: Yes, yes.
COATES: For doing nothing, besides being present, in this -- at a scene, as a reporter, where I think you had a visible media pass, if I'm not mistaken.
BROWN: And there were other reporters there. And--
COATES: Yes. But you were singled out?
JIMENEZ: Well, and that's -- that, I think, is a good example.
And I'll take my reporter hat off, for a second here, to talk about that, and just say that, when it's happening to you, in the moment, you're just trying to get through the moment, because you don't know what slight move is going to trigger, some reaction, some internalization that these officers, or whoever might have had, or community member may have had.
And it wasn't until after I get back, one of our colleagues, Josh Campbell, is a White -- White man -- White reporter, he was nearby, and he said, "You know, I just talked to the cops, told them who I was, they let me go about my business." And in that moment, those are moments that you cannot really put into words, because it's been laid out for you, in a sense.
BROWN: So, what is the solution? Where do we go from here, Eric?
CUMBERBATCH: Well, I think America has a rich, comfort, and really, in just both being culturally and across institutions, being comfortable, in treating Black children, as subhuman, and really treating and seeing Black humans, Black people, in this space, allows for people to lie, or rely on the notion of "I'm in fear," and that it's just for people, to cause harm, to this population.
We were mentioning the height, or the age of adulthood. When you look at Black boys and girls, as early as 13-years-old, that's when American society starts to look at Black children as adults.
I think there's a reckoning. That's the solution. There's a reckoning that needs to happen in America. And I believe the teams that I'm part of, the teams of other grassroots organizations, really pushing legislation, changing policy, changing how the landscape has been built, to fundamentally shift, and undo the legacy, of White supremacy. That's what we're seeing.
BROWN: All right, Eric Cumberbatch, Omar Jimenez, Laura Coates, thank you for having that real, raw conversation that is so needed. We appreciate it.
CUMBERBATCH: Thank you.
BROWN: Up ahead, is Chris Christie thinking of taking on Donald Trump, again?
Jake Tapper is here, with brand-new reporting, about the former presidential candidate's political future, up next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: I don't think Ron DeSantis is a conservative, based on his actions, towards Disney.
I think he's wrong, and I think it makes, rightfully makes, a lot of people, question his judgment and his maturity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Former New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, criticizing Florida governor, and potential GOP presidential candidate, Ron DeSantis, as you just heard there. He joins a growing list of Republicans, expressing disapproval, over DeSantis' battle with Disney. All of this amid rising speculation about Christie's own potential 2024 White House bid.
CNN's Jake Tapper joins us now, to talk about this.
So Jake, what do you make of more Republicans, going after DeSantis, in recent days and weeks?
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, it reflects, I think, the fact that DeSantis has emerged, as the leading non-Trump candidate, one that a lot of members, of the Republican establishment, seem to have been getting behind. And it also reflects the fact that I think everyone expects DeSantis is going to run.
And people know that no one is going to, as in -- and remember, in 2015, 2016, people thought that one person would take on Donald Trump, and then those two would fall by the wayside, and then they could go on and get the nomination.
And I think that there's a realization, from candidates, like -- potential candidates, like Chris Christie, that like, "You're going to have to fight for this nomination. No one is going to take out Donald Trump, for you, so you can walk in. This is going to be a real struggle, and everybody needs to get involved."
BROWN: And on that note, you have some new reporting, about Christie's political future, right? Tell us what you've learned.
TAPPER: Well, sources close to Christie tell me that he is traveling the country, and working the phones, and talking to potential donors, and opinion leaders, and staffers, as he makes up his mind, and tries to come to a decision, about whether or not to run for president, in 2024.
But that he's very serious about it. He thinks that he is the only one, who can take on, and defeat Donald Trump, in a primary, going after him for, in Christie's view, being a loser, leading the Republicans, to election losses, time and time again, also, for taking him on for January 6, and the Insurrection.
And Christie also views himself as somebody, who can win enough Independent voters, if he becomes the Republican nominee that he can defeat Joe Biden, in the general election, should Biden run for reelection, as we all expect he will.
BROWN: All right. So, big picture here, we're just a few months away, from the first GOP primary debate, hard to believe. You've seen a lot of these primaries unfold. What do you make of where the field is right now? TAPPER: Well, Donald Trump remains the front-runner. And I think he has conservative media, Fox and all the others lined up behind him. There's no longer any pretense that they are out for conservative values. It's all about just viewership.
As we saw, in the $787,500,000 settlement, with Dominion, it's all just about -- they don't care about journalism. They don't care about conservative principles. It's all just about having their viewers, as a business model. And those viewers like Donald Trump. And Fox is willing to lie for viewers, like that.
So, it's not just Donald Trump. It's Donald Trump and an entire conservative media apparatus that DeSantis, and Christie, and Pence, and others, are going to have to face. And that's going to be formidable.
BROWN: All right. It sure will be.
Jake Tapper, thanks so much.
Catch "THE LEAD" every day, at 4 PM Eastern.
And up next, we go one-on-one, with the GOP Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, who is announcing new findings, and an investigation of the Biden family.
But what is the evidence? And why isn't he revealing it to all of his committee? I'll ask him, up next.
BROWN: Republicans, on the House Oversight Committee, leaving no stone unturned, in their investigation, of Hunter Biden. And addition to hearings, we've seen a flurry of subpoenas, and demands, insisting they need information on everything, from his tastes in art, to his bank records, even who his friends were doing business with, 14 years ago.
Joining us now is the Chairman, of the House Oversight Committee, Republican congressman, James Comer, of Kentucky.
So, as Chairman, of the House Oversight Committee, you have been investigating members, of Joe Biden's family, and their business with the Bidens. Have you found anything illegal while he was actually in office?
REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): Well, we found a lot that's certainly unethical. We found a lot that should be illegal, though the line is blurry, as to what is legal, and not legal, with respect to family influence peddling.
I think people in both parties have argued for many years that family members, of both Republicans and Democrats, especially family members of presidents, have benefited, from our adversaries, around the world. I don't think that anyone would dispute the fact that we need to increase the ethics laws, and the disclosure laws.
So, one thing that we're concerned about is the President Joe Biden has said he didn't have any knowledge, of his family's business dealings, or whatever you want to call them.
But we find more and more evidence every day that he was knowledgeable, of what his family was doing, and that we believe that with respect to the excessive amounts of money that the family's receiving, they were certainly more than likely getting something in return, from Joe Biden.
BROWN: What specifically, have you seen, in terms of that dynamic, happening, that you say? And again, was any of this happening, this evidence that you purport to have, happening, while Biden was actually in office?
Because, in this announcement, last month, you will claim that, at least three Biden family members, and two associates, received payments that originated from China. But you said it was 2017. That was after Joe Biden had left office.
COMER: It was. But the people that initiated the payments had met with Joe Biden, while he was Vice President.
BROWN: I do want to note for our viewers, you're basing this, on Suspicious Activity Reports, filed by the Treasury Department. Millions of them are filed, every year, and very rarely does law enforcement actually get involved.
How does the presence alone mean that anything illegal was being done? And why wouldn't law enforcement have followed up before, if there actually was meat to the bones, on these SARs reports?
COMER: Well, we also have bank records. So, there's two different things that we have. I subpoenaed six different banks, and got bank records. I also now have access to the Treasury Suspicious Activity Reports, which are the bank violations.
BROWN: If the concern is China, as you note, why no investigation, of the Chinese bank account Donald Trump maintained, between 2015 and 2017?
COMER: Yes. We're going to look into everything. That's one of the rumors that they say, well, we're not looking in to Donald Trump.
Let's just face the facts here, Pam. Donald Trump has been investigated, by every committee, in Washington. He's being investigated by Special Counsel. The media has always investigated Donald Trump.
We're going to have some questions, for Trump, and some of his family members, including Jared Kushner. So, I expect them to answer those questions. But, right now, Joe Biden is President of the United States. China is
our biggest enemy. And I think you would have every Democrat that would go on your show, say the same thing. We need to worry about China.
Why is China, who's our biggest enemy, sending millions and millions dollars, to the Biden family? And not just the President's son and brother, now we've got multiple family members here.
BROWN: You mentioned Trump. You mentioned Jared Kushner, who got that $2 billion loan, from Saudi Arabia, because a lot of people do bring that up. How could you investigate the Bidens, when you see all this activity, from Trump, and his family members, benefiting from his time in office?
What specifically are you going to do, to investigate Trump, and his family members, and what they did, as it relates to China, and other countries, and how they benefited?
COMER: We want to know exactly what the terms of that loan to Kushner was.
But I'll tell you, right now, one thing that that's a glaring difference, in what Kushner did, what Trump did, versus what all these Biden family members did.
I know what Trump's business was. He owned hotels. He owned golf courses. He owned real estate office buildings. Same thing with Jared Kushner, except for golf courses.
Now, what exactly is the Biden business? I haven't found a business, Pam. There is no energy company.
One of the things that the Biden lawyers said, when we first disclosed the first million dollar transfer, to the Bidens was "Well, that was money used for seed capital." That's not true. We haven't found any seed capital going into any legitimate business. We found wires going into Biden family members' personal checking account.
So, the President hasn't been forthcoming with the American people about this.
COMER: We're going to get answers.
And I hope, at the end of this, there's legislation that defines what influence-peddling is, draws a line in the sand, says you cannot do this, or you will be held accountable--
COMER: --to the maximum extent of the law.
BROWN: You just mentioned--
COMER: Regardless of the party.
BROWN: You just mentioned a lack of transparency. And I'm wondering because Jamie Raskin, on your committee, has accused you for lack of transparency, not sharing information, not sharing the Hunter Biden drive -- Hunter Biden laptop drive, with him, and other Democrats, on the committee.
As you well know, House rules mandate that all evidence is shared between both, the majority and the minority party. So, what do you say to that? I want to give you an opportunity to respond.
COMER: Jamie Raskin is got to be joking. I mean, he's led two impeachments of Donald Trump. He was on the January 6 committee. He didn't work with any Republicans. When we do subpoenas--
BROWN: So, have you given him the Hunter Biden laptop drive? Have you let Democrats see that?
COMER: The -- everybody has the Hunter Biden laptop, right -- ABC has it. The Washington Post has it. The New York Times has it.
BROWN: So, you haven't given it to him? OK.
COMER: Well he can get it himself.
BROWN: And Biden -- President Biden, for his part, and Hunter Biden, they have denied any wrongdoing. As you have seen--
BROWN: --President Biden has stood by his son, as well, and said he had no knowledge of business dealings. He has stood by that.
I want to ask you about Afghanistan, because you're holding a hearing tomorrow, on the Afghanistan withdrawal. Do you expect any new revelations to come out of that hearing?
COMER: Well, we've met with the Inspectors General.
And, as you know, Pam, every Cabinet has an Inspector General. Anytime there's a big appropriation for something like Afghanistan, we have an Inspector General.
Those are our bipartisan, and actually, they're non-partisan. They're supposed to come in. They're supposed to be like accountants. They're supposed to make sure that money's going where they say it's going, it's not being wasted. There's not fraud or anything.
This administration, not only are they not working with Republicans, on oversight. They're not working with the Inspectors General. And the Inspector General, for Afghanistan -- for the Afghanistan Reconstruction, I believe that tomorrow, he's going to talk about how frustrated he is, and that they have absolutely no ability, to audit the money that's being sent to Afghanistan. I think a lot of people don't realize, we're still sending billions of dollars, to Afghanistan, for humanitarian aid. So, it's just like another country, where we send foreign aid, only it's a lot of foreign aid.
And what our fear is, is this money's going to the Taliban, instead of going to the actual Afghanis, who are our allies, to the children, the women, who were our allies, who are suffering now, because the Taliban is in control of Afghanistan.
BROWN: Are there any specific examples of that, though, of money actually going directly, to the Taliban, from the U.S.?
BROWN: And what will the alternative be?
BROWN: Cut off humanitarian assistance, while we wait for better bookkeeping, in a country, now run by the Taliban?
COMER: Well, I don't have any desire, to send a penny, of American tax dollars, to the Taliban. And I think that that's a possibility, of what's going on, right now.
And I worry that because they're not communicating, and being forthcoming, with what's going on, in Afghanistan, that some of this could be happening in Ukraine, and where we are spending a significant amount of tax dollars. I know some of the tax dollars are going for ammunition. I know some of it's going for humanitarian aid. But we hear that not all of it is.
BROWN: All right. Chairman Comer, thank you, for your time, tonight. Great having you on, appreciate it.
COMER: Thanks, Pam. Thank you.
BROWN: A miraculous comeback, as NFL star, Damar Hamlin, gets the all- clear, to play, again, after suffering cardiac arrest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAMAR HAMLIN, BUFFALO BILLS PLAYER: I died on national TV, in front of the whole world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: He tackled the odds. What are the risks, of him getting tackled, again, on the field?
Dr. Sanjay Gupta is up next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BROWN: Damar Hamlin, who collapsed on the field, three and a half months ago, is now fully cleared, to return to football.
Earlier today, the Buffalo Bills Safety reflected, on his brush with death.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAMLIN: I died on national TV, in front of the whole world. You know what I mean?
The biggest blessing of it all is for me to still have my people and my people still to have me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Hamlin also revealed exactly what led to his collapse, a rare condition called Commotio Cordis.
Here to explain is Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Sanjay, I think it's really a surprise, for people that he's cleared to go play. He's only 25-years-old. But still, does it surprise you that he's gotten this full clearance, to play soon?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is emotional, just listening to him, Pamela, and also, the fact that we all witnessed this. I mean, we all saw something, on live television, as he pointed out that most people had never seen before.
Having said that, it doesn't surprise me, in part, because, as sort of difficult, as it was, to watch that cardiac resuscitation? There's been three and a half months that have passed.
And what the fact that they've said that they cleared him to play, what that means is that they basically said his heart function is back to normal, and that he doesn't have an underlying problem, an anatomical problem, with his heart, or an electrical problem, for example.
So, the last three and a half months, Pamela, they've been doing a lot of tests, to basically figure out was there some underlying problem here? Echocardiograms, EKGs, MRI, CT scans, all these tests. And they basically found that there really, it didn't show anything. And that's why you basically say, at this point, he should be good to go.
The American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology, they weigh in on things like this. And I'll preface by saying that this is a rare occasion. So, it's not like you have 10,000 patients, you can look at, and say here's what the data shows.
But when the American College puts it together, what they basically say is that if no underlying cardiac abnormality is found, then individuals can safely resume training, and competition, after resuscitation from Commotio Cordis.
So, it's hard to believe, I agree with you, when you watch that. But it's not a surprise that he's being allowed to play again.
BROWN: What more can you tell us about Commotio Cordis? And what is the risk, if any, of him playing again?
GUPTA: So, Commotio Cordis, which is something that was speculated to be the cause, from the very beginning? It's a situation, where the heart, through the chest wall, right at the time that it's starting to relax -- so it beats, the heart beats, it relaxes, beats, relaxes.
Right at the time that it's starting to relax that millisecond, it takes a significant blow, to the chest wall, and to the heart. And that basically keeps the heart then, from relaxing. It just goes into like a fibrillation, they call it. And that's what can lead to the cardiac arrest.
Again, this is rare. It typically happens, in younger athletes than Damar Hamlin. Typically, it's adolescents. And frankly, it's not typically football. It's a sport that usually involves a ball, like baseball, or lacrosse, and that's what hits somebody in the chest, and causes that split-second sort of Commotio Cordis. That's what we sort of know about it.
What is interesting is like with concussions, Pamela, if you've had a concussion, there's plenty of evidence now, to suggest you are more likely, to have a second concussion.
We can't really say that with Commotio Cordis. There's not a more likely sort of chance that he's going to have this happen again. In fact, what they're basically saying is that his chance of having this is the same as the general populations, 25-year-olds, who play sports, like he does. So, that's why they're clearing him to play.
BROWN: All right. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you so much.
GUPTA: You got it, thank you.
BROWN: And up next, on CNN, what if your boss told you, to stop complaining, and quote, "Leave Pity City?" Is that a bridge too far?
Alisyn Camerota takes it up, with her panel, coming up, on "CNN TONIGHT."
But first, an intruder apprehended at the White House, today. Well, he's not going to be doing any jail time, but perhaps a time-out! That's next.
BROWN: A security breach, at the White House, today. The mischievous perp was nabbed. But the Secret Service let him go.
Why? Well it was a toddler, who crawled, through the fence, squeezed through the bars, on the north side of the People's House, prompting a swift response, from the U.S. Secret Service.
Agents picked up the tiny trespassing tourist, and quickly reunited him with his parents.
A Secret Service spokesman said they were going to wait until he learned to talk, to question him.
Thank you so much, for joining us, tonight.
I'll be back here, tomorrow night.
"CNN TONIGHT" with Alisyn Camerota starts now.
CAMEROTA: That's an adorable story, Pam.
BROWN: Isn't it?
CAMEROTA: Yes, it is. We'll cover it a little bit too. Thanks so much.
BROWN: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: Good evening, everyone. I'm Alisyn Camerota. Welcome to "CNN TONIGHT".