Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Live Event/Special

DOJ Probing Meeting Where Trump Praised Election Security; DOJ Sues Texas Over Refusal To Remove Floating Border Wall; Ex-Trump Official Warns About Dangers Of A Next Trump; Former Official Says Anonymity Is A Threat to Democracy; Northwestern University Faces Fourth Lawsuit Over Its Football Team's Alleged Culture Of Hazing; Monica Jumps Off Stage To Personally Deal With Concert-Goer; "Barbie" The Movie Becomes A Massive Hit. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired July 24, 2023 - 22:00   ET




KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you so much for joining us tonight. CNN Primetime with Abby Phillip starts right now. Hi, Abby.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Kaitlan, thank you so much.

And good evening, everyone, I'm Abby Phillip. A big guest lineup, a lot of news tonight on CNN Primetime. Joining me tonight, Neal Katyal, Miles Taylor, Presidential Candidate Francis Suarez, one of the northwestern players breaking his silence on hazing, the singer, Monica, on why she stopped her concert when she noticed something in the crowd. And we'll discuss the politics of, of course, Barbie, as the movie crushes expectations despite right wing outrage.

But, first, tonight, one of the big legal questions as Donald Trump awaits a possible third indictment. Did he believe his own lies about the election?

New CNN reporting lifting the curtain on the evidence that Jack Smith is now obtaining. We're told that witnesses are being asked about an Oval Office meeting in February of 2020 in which Trump praised improvements to the security of the United States elections. And that includes the use of paper ballots and security audits.

So, why is this significant? Well, because weeks later, he would start spreading voter fraud conspiracy theories to begin undermining the election results.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I don't want to see a crooked election. This election will be the most rigged election in history.

They know it's going to be fraudulent. There's going to be fraud all over the place.

I've been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster.


PHILLIP: And we will speak with Neal Katyal in just a few minutes.

But just hours after the governor of Texas tells President Biden, we'll see you in court, tonight, the Justice Department is obliging. The DOJ is suing the state over the floating border wall that's made of buoys in the Rio Grande River.

Greg Abbott is now refusing to take them down. But this comes as whistleblowers allege that Texas officials are using razor wire, booby traps, essentially to deter migrants in addition to pushing them back in the water at risk of drowning.

Rosa Flores reports from the border.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Abby, let me show you the border barrier that's at the center of this legal battle. You have to look beyond two sets of concertina wire to the middle of the river and you see the string of buoys. Now, they are four feet in diameter and they are anchored to the bottom of that waterway.

Now, the federal government filed this lawsuit after Mexico's top diplomat complained to Washington that these buoys violated two treaties. And also after more than 80 U.S. Democratic lawmakers complained to the president of the United States and asked him to investigate and to file legal action.

Well, now, Governor Greg Abbott digging in his heels, saying that Texas has sovereign authority based on the U.S. and Texas Constitutions. And then we've also learned that the Office of the Texas Attorney General says that it's ready for this legal fight in federal court. Abby?

PHILLIP: Thanks to Rosa for that. And joining me now is 2024 GOP Presidential Candidate and Republican Mayor of Miami Francis Suarez. Mayor Suarez, thank you very much.

I want to start by asking to you to respond to what Rosa just laid out there. The DOJ's argument essentially is that these barriers aligned with razor wire are a public safety and a humanitarian risk, not to mention that Mexico says that they could be on their territory. But this is a part of the border where not just adults are crossing, but families, children, women as well. What's your response to that?

MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ (R-MIAMI, FL): I think this is a symbol of how desperate local leaders have gotten and state leaders have gotten with the out of control crisis that we're seeing at the border, where we've seen essentially a wave and release policy by this administration that has really -- it's been one of the few things that bipartisan elected officials, including Democrat mayors, have complained about.

We're seeing obviously a human trafficking crisis at the border, where it seems like the only ones who are benefiting from it are the coyotes and the cartels. And then we're seeing a fentanyl crisis that is driven by China using Mexico to import fentanyl into the United States, which has killed 80,000 to 90 ,000 Americans. That's the equivalent of a 747 crashing every single day.

So, that's -- you know, we're not treating the border as the crisis that it is.


We have to stop this migration so that we can focus on a solution. We're never going to solve the problem if we can't control the inflow and deal with it in a comprehensive fashion. From those who are here undocumented to right-sizing legal immigration, to finding a way to depower China and the rise of socialism in our hemisphere, which is creating the desperation and the poverty that's pushing people to the United States.

PHILLIP: And I take that you want to see more done from the federal government. But on the question of the use of razor wire and also, Mayor, there are some disturbing reports that have emerged of Texas troops being ordered to push migrants back into the river so that they would go back to Mexico, as well as deny them water. On those specific allegations and on this use of razor wire in that part of the river, do you believe that that is the right thing for Texas Governor Abbott to be doing?

SUAREZ: Look, I think we have to get control of the border, and I think we should be working with law enforcement. We should be utilizing technology and we should be dedicating the resources necessary, which we haven't been doing, to make sure that we have complete control of our border. If we do that, then we can have a more comprehensive and coherent conversation on how to solve this immigration crisis forever.

PHILLIP: But on the question of those tactics, Mayor, do you support the use of those tactics?

SUAREZ: Look, I don't support the use of any tactic that could put people's lives in jeopardy, but I do understand the frustration that people feel with an out of control border where we haven't been able to get control of what's going on. We've had 6 to 7 million illegal immigrants enter into our country since the president became president, and we have exacerbated a multi-decade, multi- administration crisis.

PHILLIP: All right. Well, I want to change to a different topic. Now, today, Republican Senator Mitt Romney penned an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal asking for donors in your party, big donors, small donors, to help push out long shot candidates in this race.

You, in this latest Quinnipiac poll, you're polling at less than 1 percent in this poll, really far below all of the other competitors. Do you think he's talking about you? And would you consider dropping out of the race if it meant that it would allow the Republican field to consolidate?

SUAREZ: Look, I've just started my campaign just a little more than a month ago. I was not one of these nationally recognized names that you've put up on the board. And I think we have a very compelling story to tell.

I'm the only Hispanic candidate from either party that's running. I think that's important. I think that's an important voice for the Republican Party on issues like the one we started discussing, such as immigration, but on other issues that are important for me to be part of the conversation.

We had a great first ten days of fundraising, where we raised a million dollars in ten days. If you extrapolate that over the course of an entire quarter, that's $9 million in our hard money account. We showed that committees that were supporting my candidacy had roughly $13.5 million, when you consider the hard money that we also raised.

And I think it is important for candidates like me to have an opportunity to tell our story. The story of Miami is a story of low taxes, of increased wage growth, of the lowest unemployment in America, and one of the major urban cities that has seen a precipitous drop in homicides. That is something that we should be telling. That is something that the Republican Party should be extolling.

And I think it is important to give candidates an opportunity to have that voice. And, by the way, I thank you for giving me an opportunity to be on your show right now, because that gives me volume to tell this story.

PHILLIP: But on the broader question of what Senator Romney is saying, which is that if this field doesn't winnow down, inevitably, it would allow Donald Trump to become the Republican nominee. What do you say to that directly? What do you say to Romney directly on that front?

SUAREZ: I would say, Abby, that the field will winnow down naturally over the course of the next five months. I do agree that if nothing changes between now and January in the Iowa caucus, the former president will be the nominee. I mean, I think that's pretty clear.

And I think many candidates are looking forward to that August 23rd debate stage to give an opportunity to tell their story, to differentiate themselves, because I think we are different as candidates. We extol different priority points. We articulate our platforms in a different way in a form and fashion, and we emphasize different things. I think that's one of the beautiful things about --

PHILLIP: Do you think you'll make it to the debate stage, as you just mentioned?

SUAREZ: I feel confident that we will. We just pulled at 1 percent in the Fox Business poll in Iowa, which checks the box of an early primary state poll.


We're hoping to -- and we have pulled at 1 percent in some other national polls. I'm not sure whether the RNC will count those or not. We certainly hope that they will. And we feel good about meeting the donor thresholds both at the state level and in the aggregate.

So, we do feel that we're going to be there. We're working hard to make it there so that we can, like I said, tell this story of American prosperity in our city that we think can be scaled nationally to create American prosperity for the maximum number of people.

PHILLIP: I do want to ask you about one more thing that also has to do with your home state of Florida. As you I'm sure know in the last week, there's been some new education guidelines for the teaching of African-American history. It says the curriculum should include instruction on how slaves learned skills that could be applied for their, quote, personal benefit.

And when asked about this on Friday, Ron DeSantis said that he wasn't personally involved in this. But he added, quote, I think that they're probably going to show how some folks eventually parlayed, you know, being a blacksmith into doing things later in life. Do you agree with Governor DeSantis here?

SUAREZ: I don't. I can't imagine how you could extol the virtues of slavery. I think the governor should have taken that opportunity to demonstrate leadership. And, listen, everybody makes mistakes. We all make mistakes in life. And I think when you do, you have to own up for it. I think this sort of never back down mentality that he has created is never admit that you made a mistake mentality. And I think that's wrong.

I think this is clearly something he should have reversed, and I actually think he would have been celebrated for that. I think if he would have come out and said, look, I made a mistake, or this doesn't reflect my values or the state's values, I think people would have been very happy to hear him take that opportunity. He didn't.

And I think, unfortunately, it's been a pattern on issues like this that are divisive, and that's not what the Republican Party should stand for. I think part of my candidacy is to grow the party, to focus on attracting Hispanics, to focus on attracting young people, people in cities, and certainly grow the party so that you can win in 2024, but also win beyond 2024.

And as you know, you have to get a majority in Congress. You have to get a majority in the Senate to govern. So, it's not just about winning a presidential election, and it's also about having a vision for this country that unifies this country. I don't think that's unifying. I think, frankly, a lot of people probably feel insulted by it.

PHILLIP: All right. Mayor Francis Suarez, thank you for your time tonight, sir.

SUAREZ: Thank you, Abby.

PHILLIP: And back now to our top story. New CNN reporting reveals evidence that Jack Smith is obtaining in the Trump investigation. We are told that witnesses are now being asked about an Oval Office meeting in February of 2020. Joining me now is former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal. He's also the host of the podcast, Courtside with Neal Katyal. So, Neal, thanks for joining us.

Look, Trump's mindset, as we all know now, has been a huge focus for prosecutors in this January 6th investigation. When we talk about this February 2020 meeting about election security, how do you think that that fits into their investigation?

NEAL KATYAL, FORMER ACTING SOLICITOR GENERAL: I do think it fits in. So, first of all, I think it's just kind of sad for the country right now that we're on indictment watch for a former president of the United States. And, honestly, it's just feeling like another Monday, because I think it really speaks to the widespread nature of Donald Trump's criminal behavior.

And I think the new story that CNN has just posted about the idea that Jack Smith is looking not just at January 6th and the days up to January 6th but Trump's earlier beliefs starting as early as February of 2020 about election integrity is really important. Because criminal prosecutors are going to have to show what's called mens rea, a negative criminal intent that Trump intentionally did something wrong.

And by going back earlier in the clock starting in February of 2020 and then November of '20 and December of '20 and January of '21, Jack Smith is investigating every possible time in which Donald Trump may have said something about election security and the integrity of the election.

PHILLIP: And may have been told, perhaps things that would directly contradict his false claims later on in that year.

One of the other things, Neal, that we are also reporting here at CNN is that investigators have gotten access to thousands of documents connected to Rudy Giuliani's team. It was put together to try to find election fraud after the 2020 election.

Jack Smith got access to these documents this week, just Sunday. How significant could that be for the broader investigation that might go on even after Trump is indicted?


KATYAL: All of it is very significant. So, there's an investigation to Donald Trump personally, and we know that he's been named as the target of the investigation by Jack Smith, the special counsel. And there's also investigations into other people, Trump campaign officials, possibly Mark Meadows, Trump's chief of staff, and others.

The Trump target letter mentions three things that he may have violated, and there could be more. But the target letter just names three, conspiracy to defraud the United States, obstruction of an official proceeding and a civil rights charge, 18 USC 241. All of those depend on this idea that Trump was trying to hide and obfuscate the results of the 2020 election. And it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that Donald Trump thought he lost the election. I mean, it'd be border on insanity after court after court, Republican official after Republican official told him that.

So, I think it's a tough defense, but I think Jack Smith is exactly right to say, hey, that's the defense Donald Trump is claiming, so I better button up my case before bringing it before a jury. And so that's why you see him investigating every possible alternative, every avenue.

PHILLIP: But what about some of these other people, like Giuliani, for example, and folks like John Eastman, who we had heard so much about in the January 6th hearings? We haven't heard of target letters for those individuals. Do you think that if Trump is indicted this week that he's likely to have co-defendants if this is, in fact a conspiracy that Jack Smith is trying to allege here?

KATYAL: That's a great question. And the truth is we just don't know. I mean, you can see it either way. Target letters are not required to be given. So, you could say the absence of one doesn't mean anything. But on the other hand, they're generally done in investigations of this magnitude. So, the fact that Eastman didn't get one, he could read as potentially significant.

I think if I had to rate the tea leaves, I would say Jack Smith understands that the case against Donald Trump is of the most immediate moment. And there's a clock ticking because Trump has already telegraphed his defense. And it's not a legal defense. It's a defense that just says, hey, this special prosecutor is biased against me and I'm going to win the election, I'm going to terminate the prosecution.

Now, the special counsel regulations under which Jack Smith is appointed are absolutely an answer to everything Donald Trump is saying. I drafted those special counsel regulations when I was a young Justice Department staffer. And my podcast this week goes into -- Courtside -- goes into real detail about those regulations and how they work.

And the most important thing for your viewers to understand is that what they mean when they're used and they're used here for Jack Smith. It's not the Biden Justice Department that's prosecuting Donald Trump. It's not the Merrick Garland Justice Department that's prosecuting, investigating Donald Trump. It is an independent prosecutor at the Justice Department, a non-political person. And that is what the special counsel regulations provide for. And that's what we got here.

So, when you hear all that nonsense about Biden is after him and trying to take down his opponent, just understand these regulations insulate Jack Smith from any sort of political reprisal.

PHILLIP: And you have such a long history with the Justice Department. You see right now, I think, so much attention on the DOJ and their independence or perhaps questions about whether they are, in fact, independent. One of those comes from Republicans about this Hunter Biden investigation that just concluded.

We just learned tonight that the U.S. attorney who's leading that investigation, David Weiss, he's agreed to testify at a congressional hearing this fall to basically explain how he got to the charging decision that he did. Is that the right call?

KATYAL: I'm glad he did. Now, obviously, I'm not privy to all the details of the investigation and so on, but in general, I like more transparency in our justice system. And here, I think it's really important for viewers to understand this prosecutor that investigated Hunter Biden, Joe Biden's son, was not appointed by Merrick Garland or Joe Biden. He was appointed by a guy named Donald Trump. He was the chief prosecutor in Delaware with a presidential nomination by Donald Trump.

And what the Biden Justice Department did was keep him on, which is something that happens in politically sensitive investigations. You keep a former United States attorney on, particularly if they're of the opposite political party. So, in that circumstance, you don't have the worry that you have when you have an independent -- when you have a non-independent Justice Department attorney general investigating the president, who nominated him. Here, you have a cross-party investigation.

PHILLIP: A very good point that that attorney was left in his job to finish the job. And actually, in fact, later this week, Hunter Biden will put in his guilty plea, we believe, in that case.

Neal Katyal, thank you so much for joining us. And for the viewers, check out his podcast, Courtside, I believe, wherever you get your podcasts. Thank you again, Neal.

KATYAL: Thank you.

PHILLIP: And up next for us, a former Trump official who says that the former president can be beat. He joins me next.

Plus, a tragedy on Martha's Vineyard. The personal chef of the Obamas found dead in the water. Their reaction ahead.

And the politics of Barbie, why the movie is dominating despite criticism from some conservatives.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to give my review of the Barbie movie in the most Oppenheimer fashion.



PHILLIP: As the nation braces for yet another possible Trump indictment, one former White House official is sounding the alarm tonight.


Joining me now is Miles Taylor. He's the former chief of staff to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and he's also the author of a new book, BLOWBACK, a Warning to Save Democracy from the Next Trump.

Miles, there's been a lot of discussion about whether or not Trump actually believed the lies that he told about election integrity, but you have an interesting perspective on all of this. You oversaw election security at DHS from 2008 to 2009. Do you believe that Trump was aware of how secure our elections were?

MILES TAYLOR, AUTHOR, BLOWBACK, A WARNING TO SAVE DEMOCRACY FROM THE NEXT TRUMP: Yes, he was, Abby. And I was there for conversations with the president about it. And I think it's actually really significant, the reporting that you mentioned tonight from CNN, that the special counsel was now looking into that history of Trump's knowledge about the election security protections that were being put in place.

And your reporting has a meeting in February of 2020 as a moment in which Donald Trump was briefed about the measures being taken to make it a more secure election. But I actually can go further back in time than that.

In 2018 and in 2019, we briefed Donald Trump on the measures that the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and the intelligence community were undertaking to make the 2018 midterms and the 2020 presidential election the most secure in modern history.

Why does that matter? It looks like the special counsel wants to show what your last guest, Neal Katyal, tried to explain mens rea, try to show that Trump had a mindset to engage in criminal activity, which means he needs to have been aware that the elections were secure and that there was no fraud, and then take actions to turn against that.

And I think there's going to be a lot of focus on my former friend and -- my former colleague and current friend, Christopher Krebs, who led those election security efforts, and who, of course, Trump fired after Krebs came forward and said, no, the election was secure, the president is incorrect. I think that's going to be a big focus of the case against Donald Trump.

PHILLIP: And as we go into this 2024 presidential cycle, the former president is really running on a long list of grievances that he's been nursing since he left office. In your book, you actually warned that a second term could see him really preoccupied with this idea of settling scores. In your view, what would that look like?

TAYLOR: Yes. I honestly think that if there's a second term of Donald Trump, we will witness the greatest abuses of presidential power in American history. And that's not an overstatement. That's what the people around Donald Trump have effectively described to me as they talk about, department by department, how he intends to weaponize the powers of those departments to gain leverage against political rivals and to go after them, including appointing a raft of special counsels at the Justice Department to go after various figures, including using the powers of the Department of Homeland Security and the intelligence community to monitor rivals. I mean, this is pretty scary stuff.

And there's a lot of episodes in the first term where Trump was prevented from doing these things that he won't be a second time. And one of the frequent things I saw him try to do in the department that we were running was weaponize emergency aid. If a tornado or a wildfire happened in a blue state, Donald Trump was very eager to withhold that aid unless he could exact concession from whoever the Democratic governor or politicians were.

Now, often that was thwarted. The president was told, you can't do that legally. You have to disperse aid to victims. But it's those types of things that, in the second term, Donald Trump will look to lord over the localities that he says -- that he sees as averse to his politics. That's something that's very concerning.

And I heard that from a lot of Trump officials, again, department by department, the interest in weaponizing those powers for political revenge. And then, of course, in keeping with his normal behavior, Trump has basically said the quiet part out loud.

PHILLIP: Look, one of the parts of your story is that you were anonymous. You famously posted criticism of Trump when you worked inside of the Trump administration, but you didn't use your name. You then published a book about it.

I wonder, as you see, a huge swath of the Republican base right now, distrustful of the government, they believe that there is a deep state that's working against -- worked against Trump. In fact, that idea undergirds what a lot of Trump's former advisers are now trying to do, which is to completely dismantle wide swaths of the federal government.

Do you think that by saying what you said anonymously at the beginning, you may have contributed to that?

TAYLOR: Yes, I actually think I do. And I'm glad you asked the question, Abby. You're one of the first to ask me that question that directly. It's one of the things I talk about in this book, is it's ironic coming from me, but I think one of the greatest dangers to our democracy is anonymity. It's the fact that across the Republican party, you have these politicians, who in private will tell people like me, they think Donald Trump is a danger to democracy and a threat, and then in public, they'll go praise him and the MAGA movement. That anonymity is putting us in danger. We need those people to attach their names to that criticism.


Now, in my own case, my regret is not that I sounded the alarm anonymously. In fact, I do very strongly support whistleblowers having the protection of anonymity if they need them. My regret is that I didn't come forward sooner because I realized that by coming forward, it made it easier for colleagues of mine to do the same. It lowered that bar of dissent because there's always strength in numbers. And I think that's what the current Republican field needs to realize,

Chris Christie should not be seen as an outlier. His other people in the Republican primaries need to say what they tell their friends and family in private about Donald Trump. They need to say it publicly. They need to not be anonymous because our democracy does depend on it.

PHILLIP: You do talk in your book, though, about the personal toll that those Trump years took on you. You described it as a metaphor for the United States. Tell us, what did you go through?

TAYLOR: Yeah, well, and Abby, I always like to caveat this by saying the goal here is not to gain any sympathy. We had a really hard road after I unmasked myself. It cost my home, my job, some personal relationships that were very important to me, my life savings. You know on election night 2020, because of the death threats, I was in a safe house in Northern Virginia under armed guard with a pistol under my pillow and frankly grappling with addiction problems because the stress had grown so high from the attacks.

But I tell those stories as a cautionary tale because the same thing is happening to local officials and state officials and members of Congress today because of the vitriol in our political environment. And a lot of those people, unlike me, weren't prepared for it. I at least came from the world of national security. I knew what I needed to do to protect myself and protect my family in the wake of this.

But, you know, election officials like we saw in Arizona were not prepared for what came their way. And the environment that we're in is just as dangerous, if not more so, than it was then. And I want to point, Abby, to a survey, a study that just came out two weeks ago that showed that something around one in four Americans have favorable attitudes towards political violence if their candidate loses. That's among the highest levels we've ever seen in the modern era. That's very concerning, and it doesn't bode well for 2024 and law enforcement is trying to prepare for it.

PHILLIP: All right, Myles Taylor, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

TAYLOR: Thanks, Abby.

PHILLIP: And up next for us, more lawsuits tonight against Northwestern University over hazing. One of the players who's at the center is breaking his silence with me tonight, including claims of naked drills and so-called Shrek Swat. Plus, the singer, Monica, she joins me live about how she jumped off the stage to help a concert goer and confront a man who was allegedly punching a woman. We'll have that story ahead.




PHILLIP: Northwestern University facing yet another, the fourth lawsuit to be exact, over its football team's alleged culture of hazing. Lloyd Yates, who played for the school from 2015 to 2018, alleges that he was the subject of sexual assault by his teammates. And he just filed a suit that claims that the sexual abuse was directed at male players because of their sex in an effort to break them, to punish them, to control them or get them in line. He also details naked drills that freshmen had to do in the locker rooms during summer training.

Now, at least 15 former players have already announced plans to sue the university over the, quote, "toxic culture within that program". And joining us now tonight is Lloyd Yates himself and his lawyer, civil rights attorney Ben Crump. Lloyd and Ben, thank you both for joining us tonight. Lloyd, I do want to start with you here. Can you walk us through the specific events that you allege happened to you in this lawsuit.

LLOYD YATES, FORMER NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY QUARTERBACK: Yeah, well, I'd say first that I really hope by me speaking forward and coming out that this prevents any future athletes from going through what I had to endure and what many of my former teammates and colleagues had to endure. But I say it's really centered around a culture of sexual violence, where we were forced to do acts in the nude, where as punishment and for other sorts of kind of initiation, we were physically dry-humped. And these were things that were just really graphic, especially as a young 17, 18-year-old boy who was just trying to fit in and make his mark in college sports.

PHILLIP: And Lloyd, what impact did that have on your time as a player and on your time in college? Yeah, so I think I had a lasting impact on me. And I think it's really quite obvious as looking back and reflecting on it more so than it was, you know, at the time. At the time, I think we were really embedded in a culture that really just normalized this kind of stuff, that made it seem that, you know, this is what we do when you play college sports.

This was the culture at Northwestern. This is how you become accepted and earn respect from your teammates. But I think, you know, one of the things that was really apparent was the subtle trauma effects that it had in the moment, obviously because it was very violent, it was very graphic, it was very dehumanizing, these different acts that we had to do. But realizing how that impacted, you know, myself eight, nine years later after college is just really, you know, a devastating experience I had.

PHILLIP: And Ben, I wonder, I mean, we have the testimony from Lloyd here in this lawsuit, but is there other evidence of what he's alleging outside of that testimony that might come forward in these proceedings?

BEN CRUMP, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: And we think in the days and weeks to come, there are going to be many, many other former student athletes who are going to come forward to corroborate everything that Lloyd Yates has said.

[22:40:00] It was a culture that was pervasive through all the athletic programs at Northwestern University. And what I'm very proud of is this young man showing courage to speak up and to give a voice to this matter because far too many times, others just have for whatever reason, not spoken up about it. I will say this. Lloyd Yates is the first named plaintiff who is not unknown to come forward and that takes a lot of courage. I believe with the Lloyd Yates lawsuit that it acknowledges that this is the "Me Too" moment for college sports. And hopefully, we can eradicate this physical, psychological, and sexual hazing at colleges and universities across America.

PHILLIP: Lloyd, head coach Pat Fitzgerald, he was fired in the wake of some of these allegations earlier this month, but he denies knowing about any of this. Do you believe that he was aware of what was going on and what happened to you?

YATES: Well, I think, you know, what went on in the culture at Northwestern, which has, there's an article that came out recently that traced some of the hazing activities back to three decades. So, right, this is a very long-standing -- this is a very long-standing culture that this was around. So, I think it's nearly impossible for the coaching staff to not know what took place. This was a very widespread -- this was very widespread within the organization.

PHILLIP: Do you think that there are other coaches who are still currently with the program who were aware of these allegations and what do you think should happen? What should the school do?

CRUMP: Well, there's some things that, because of the pending litigation, wouldn't be appropriate for a lawyer to comment on. But Abby, I will say this. Our office, our legal team, are planning to file 30 more lawsuits in the days and weeks to come. And these are lawsuits from the softball program, from the baseball program. Even mascots talk about the hazing that they had to endure.

So, this is an institutional issue. It's bigger than one individual. It was embedded in the culture of every athletic program at Northwestern University and we want to see them stop it. Just, it's that simple. You have to have the courage to say, if anybody is hazing you, let us know, and that individual will be expelled immediately. Not to condone it, we have to condemn it.

PHILLIP: Lloyd, earlier I heard Ben just describe this as a "Me Too" moment for college sports. Do you think that that is what you are living through and perhaps leading the charge on?

YATES: I think Attorney Crump definitely brings a great point. I think, you know, first and foremost, this is, it's, you know, not my, it's not about me, right? I'm sharing my story and I'm bringing it to light, but this is really about a bigger collective that has been silenced for so long, for many other reasons. So, I think, Attorney Crump kind of hit it right on the nail.

I think we want to -- and what we're learning is this is much, much bigger than my individual story and that we want to eradicate this within sports altogether. These sorts of behavior, these sorts of cultures that exist, that have persisted, they're just not acceptable. And we think that by bringing this to light, we can make real change.

PHILLIP: All right, Lloyd Yates and Ben Crump, thank you both very much. We'll be following this story as it goes forward.

CRUMP: Thank you, Abby.

YATES: Thank you, Abby.

PHILLIP: And still ahead for us, it's breaking records at the box office despite right-wing backlash. We'll discuss the politics of Barbie. And next, the singer Monica jumps off the stage, stopping her concert after noticing something in the crowd. Monica joins me live on that dramatic moment next.




PHILLIP: There is some tragic news out of Martha's Vineyard tonight. The paddleboarder who was found dead after an accidental drowning is the personal chef of the Obamas. We are told that Tafari Campbell had been visiting, but the Obamas weren't there at the time. And in a statement, Barack and Michelle Obama called him a truly wonderful man who made their lives brighter. Our condolences to his family tonight.

But on another story, R and B Superstar Monica is receiving praise after she stopped her show in Detroit when she witnessed a man allegedly assaulting a woman in the crowd. I want you to watch this moment. The singer jumped off the stage and into the audience to confront the attacker. Watch.


MONICA: No! Don't you hit him like that. Listen, listen. (BEEP)



PHILLIP: That remarkable moment, that altercation was Saturday night and it was caught on tape. It's now gone viral on social media. And Monica is here with us and she joins me now. Monica, really, I mean I watched it this weekend and I was like, wow. It's incredible to see you make the decision to do that. What made you jump off that stage? What did you see?

MONICA, GRAMMY AWARD-WINNING ARTIST: Honestly, that was just instincts. And I know that people don't have the opportunity to know us personally or on a personal level, but the few that do know that everything for me is a matter of the heart. It's a matter of -- I'm a mom, I'm a sister, I am a mother. I've said mom. I am -- I'm so many things that would allow someone to want to protect me. Simply put, I didn't want to see her hurt or harmed and her not make it back home after coming just to be a concert-goer for myself and Ashanti who was also on the show.

You know, these concerts have become what almost feels like a dangerous space and place and I just really want that to change. So, that was just my instincts kicked in. I do not feel like I'm some form of superhero in any facet, but I did what I would hope that someone would do if they saw that happening to my aunt or mother. I could tell that she was -- she's definitely my elder. And there was a level of fear there for me, just watching what appeared to be a situation that could have been escalated even further. I was simply trying to de- escalate it.

PHILLIP: When you jumped down there, you confronted the man who you saw allegedly doing this. What did you say to him? No, it was more so, and I know these different views and videos, I'm still getting used to the idea of things going viral because in moments like such, you don't think about that. I am from an era that is pre-internet, so none of that crossed my mind. What I was attempting to do was to get security who was standing there. I don't think they were able to hear or understand me asking them to remove them especially once the situation started to transpire.

So, for me, it was all instinct. It was simply just a matter of the heart. I didn't want to see her hurt. I didn't want to see her hit again. I didn't want them fighting. I'm a firm believer that all parties should keep their hands to themselves. Women shouldn't hit men. Men definitely shouldn't hit women because at the end of the day, we don't have, there's no win for us with them. They're naturally stronger.

And different situations may, you know, have different outcomes, but I'm grateful that both of them made it home safely because anything other than that, I don't know if I could have ever imagine being on stage again if someone was hurt in a very serious manner at a concert. That's supposed to be a place of joy and fun. And I just pray that people start to govern themselves better there.

You know, I think there was a lot to be learned from our side as far as security goes, the venue side as far as security goes, because ultimately it is the venue's responsibility to try and keep them safe. But I just did not want to see someone harmed in a manner that wouldn't allow them to make it back home to their families. And that can very, very easily happen when you're fighting at a concert.

PHILLIP: And so many artists face this exact dilemma about whether to step in, whether to stop the show or keep going. Are you hearing anything from police about what happened between these two people? What are you being told? They gave us a statement saying that they're still investigating and that no police reports have been filed. But are you being told anything?

MONICA: I wasn't told anything. The only thing I asked was, was everyone okay? And I was told that both parties went home, everyone was okay. And that was my goal in that moment. Anytime I, you know, am told something like there has been an issue or problem or I've seen singers being struck with items at concerts, I think the overall conversation needs to be not just about this one incident, but about the actions and behaviors when these festivals and concerts are happening. It's all dangerous for us, for the concert goers, and that's not the way it's supposed to be. You're supposed to be having a good time. Everyone is supposed to make it back home to their families.

And every person that travels with me knows how I feel about people. I am not a girl that grew up wanting to be famous. I'm a girl that grew up loving her family. My family's from Newnan, Georgia. We slopped hogs, we loved on each other so much. So, my feeling when I see something happening is a feeling of compassion and concern. The other stuff is not important to me.

PHILLIP: Well, it was really remarkable to see you do what you did. And I mean, I have to say, I mean, you can't help but be worried about your own safety, having the singer herself jump into the crowd.


But clearly, you did it because -- out of concern for just keeping everybody safe at your show. Monica, we appreciate you. Thank you so much for joining us tonight.

MONICA: Thank you. I want everybody to get home safe to their families and I want to get home to mine. You guys, we can do better.

PHILLIP: That's exactly right. Thank you, again. And up next, we're going to discuss the politics of "Barbie" as that movie now dominates expectations despite outrage.


PHILLIP: Some conservative activists have been successful in their efforts to put a dent in the bottom lines of companies like Bud Light and Target. But what about "Barbie"? Well, she appears to be immune to boycotts. The movie, which is owned by the parent company of CNN, is a massive hit, raking in more than $160 million here in the United States on opening weekend alone. Now, this is despite attacks from lawmakers and pundits. Senator Ted Cruz said it was brainwashing young girls. Ben Shapiro said it's the most woke movie he's ever seen. He even lit Barbie and Ken dolls on fire.

And joining me now is Sharon Waxman. She's the Editor-in-Chief of "The Wrap". So, Sharon, there's been a lot of backlash, backlash to the backlash. Why do you think Barbie has been seemingly immune to some of that?

SHARON WAXMAN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "THE WRAP": Well, because the movie's not aimed at people like Ben Shapiro and Piers Morgan, that might be one reason why 63 percent of the opening weekend was women who went to see this movie in massive numbers, and I suspect a lot of them might go see it again. So, that's one thing. The other thing, of course, is that nobody was able to see the movie in advance to be able to raise a protest, a political protest. They could only do it after the movie had already opened, and it was already on this juggernaut path to be this massive opening.

PHILLIP: But do you think "Barbie" is political in some ways or maybe even in the ways that its critics think that it is?

WAXMAN: The movie itself? Oh yeah, the movie is most definitely political. Greta Gerwig, who co-wrote the movie with Noah Baumbach is a highly aware and I would say engaged political, thinking artist. She's a feminist. If you've seen "Lady Bird", if you saw "Little Women", her other movies. The message there, which is a lot about women having agency or not having agency and the actual reality of what it is to be a woman in 21st century society, that's something that's very much on her mind and it's very much in the theme of the movie. So, I'm not surprised at all to see a backlash by, certainly by conservatives.

Actually, you know, there might be more backlash coming as more people see the movie, but I do think most people understand that it's a movie and it's meant to be fun and it's meant to be entertaining. And that's really how most people are going to see it in bright pink outfits and "Barbie" dream houses and all of that. But you know, any excuse to have an argument.

PHILLIP: Well, some -- and you know what, to your point, some people just wanna go to the movie in pink and have a little bit of fun. Sharon Waxman, thank you so much for joining us tonight.

WAXMAN: Thank you.

PHILLIP: And thank you for joining me tonight on CNN Primetime. I'm Abby Phillip and CNN Tonight starts right now with Sara Sidner. Hey, Sara.

SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey we become the out of age edition, I think. That was a really% good one, Abby. Thank you.

PHILLIP: We're both gonna just be in our pink. It's okay. It's all good. Have a good show.

SIDNER: Thank you.