Return to Transcripts main page
CNN Live Event/Special
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Pressured By Right, Calls For Impeachment Inquiry; Democrats Push Biden To Use Power For Stricter Gun Action; Chicago Teachers' Union Head Under Fire For Sending Son To A Private School; Manhunt For The Escaped Inmate Intensifies; Former NFL Reporter Sues The League For Alleged Racial Discrimination. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired September 12, 2023 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: We're going to turn over to CNN Primetime with Abby Phillip, which starts right now. Hi, Abby.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: I have a feeling that's going to make a lot of people really unhappy tonight, Kaitlan. I think you ruined some days. Thanks so much, though. Have a good night.
COLLINS: You too.
PHILLIP: All right. Good evening, everyone. I'm Abby Philip.
And after centuries of impeachment inquiries being extremely rare for the United States, they are becoming more common than the Olympics. So, is Kevin McCarthy launching into one for President Biden in order to save the republic or to save his job?
Well, today, this House speaker is now green-lighting an investigation into Biden without any evidence of wrongdoing.
And in moments, I'll speak with the thorn in McCarthy's side, that is Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz, who is threatening to oust the speaker, in part over this issue.
But, first, some context. Republicans, they want to know if President Biden benefited from his son's business dealings. And that is a legitimate question. But the DOJ did spend years investigating Hunter Biden. And so far, there has been no evidence that his father did benefit. Meantime, House Republicans and their investigations have presented zero direct evidence to contradict that.
Also, McCarthy is doing this now unilaterally, without even a vote, even though Kevin McCarthy himself from 11 days ago disagreed with that method. Quote, if we move forward with an impeachment inquiry, it would occur through a vote on the floor of the People's House, not for a declaration by one person. And just four years ago, McCarthy attacked Democrats for doing the same, both on Twitter and right here on camera.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Speaker Pelosi happens to be the speaker of this House, but she does not speak for America when it comes to this issue. She cannot decide unilaterally what happens here. She cannot change the laws of this Congress. She cannot unilaterally decide an impeachment inquiry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: And just a note on that, the then-speaker, Nancy Pelosi, she did eventually hold a vote on an impeachment inquiry.
So, why is McCarthy caving now? Well, perhaps because of Congressman from Florida Matt Gaetz.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): I rise today to serve notice, Mr. Speaker, you are out of compliance with the agreement that allow you to assume this role. The path forward for the House of Representatives is to either bring you into immediate total compliance or remove you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: So, you'll remember that nasty speaker election back in January, one of the many concessions that McCarthy made then to the far-right of his party was to make it easier to boot him from his own job.
And joining me now is Congressman Matt Gaetz. He's a member of the House Judiciary Committee. Thanks for being here, Congressman.
First, I want to start with this. You're making some pretty serious threats against speaker McCarthy's speakership. But let's be honest, it sounds like you don't have the votes.
GAETZ: The vote for what, Abby, to remove McCarthy? I acknowledge that. And I would suggest that when we first had the contest for speaker, neither did he. But over the course of 15 ballots, it is amazing what can happen.
So, look, my job is to see that the deal that we made in January is enforced. It is not about impeachment, specifically. It's about oversight work. But it's principally about spending. McCarthy committed to have 12 individual appropriations bills passed. We don't seem on-pace to do that. And I'm deeply concerned that he hasn't been faithful to that commitment.
PHILLIP: If you do trigger this motion to vacate, and it does fail, as it sounds like you think it will, don't these threats and up losing all credibility moving forward?
GAETZ: Well, it had a good deal of credibility today. I announced last evening that I'd be making a speech at noon today, and in somewhat of a rushed fashion, the speaker gave a speech at 11:00. And while that was a baby step, I think, in the right direction, it certainly is not linked to the concerns that we have about spending, government funding running out and the passing of a continuing resolution that advances a lot of the goals and priorities that Republicans ran against.
PHILLIP: So, do you think that McCarthy should shut down the government to save his job here?
GAETZ: I don't think the choice is one or the other. I think that there are certainly agencies of government, like the Department of Education and Department of Labor and probably a few others that I'd be willing to get rid of in pretty large fashion and devolve those powers to the states and reorganize them. But if we just had compliance with a vote on term limits, a vote on a balanced budget, individual spending bills, I do think speaker McCarthy could save his job and not even face a motion to vacate if he came into compliance with our deal.
PHILLIP: But just dealing with the spending issue here, I mean, the government will shut down if Congress doesn't come up with this been a deal. You want Speaker McCarthy, it sounds like you just said, to defund a whole swaths of the federal government.
I think you would agree that that is probably -- the chances of that happening are pretty much zero.
So, at the end of the day, you're basically asking McCarthy to do something that he simply cannot do unilaterally if he doesn't have the votes.
GAETZ: Well, Abby, I would zoom out and say this is what we cannot do. We cannot have a government that continues to have $2 trillion dollars annual deficits. And while I acknowledge are in divided government, at least the House of Representatives, representing the Republican position, should be willing to tweeze through the various programs that are reflected in agency budgets, and we ought to have open roads and open amendments.
Even some of my Democrat colleagues during our speaker contest in January agreed that the reforms we were seeking would actually democratize power in the House of Representatives for everyone, and I would hope that that would remain the standard no matter which party was in control.
PHILLIP: But you attempted to kind of use the same sort of leverage when it came to the budget deal earlier this year. But your account, you have criticized Kevin McCarthy for being a part of the deal with the White House. It sounds like that leverage just simply didn't work. What makes you think that this time will be any different?
GAETZ: I'm concerned it won't be. You're right, it was a cascading failure of the 118th Congress that we did a debt limit deal that underwrote a series of bad decisions and didn't provide any wins for the Republican House in divided government. And so --
PHILLIP: I mean, I would argue it's also a failure for your strategy to use leverage --
GAETZ: Undeniably, yes, no, I didn't work.
PHILLIP: -- as an individual member to put pressure on Kevin McCarthy. So, why are you doing the same thing over and over again?
GAETZ: Well, I'm going to do it over and over again until it works. And today, we saw baby step toward that with more robust efforts on impeachment. But I'm going to keep doing it. And it might not work the first time and I don't grant the premise that it will never work, because the American people want term limits, they want balanced budgets, they don't want to see government funding wrapped up in just like one up or down vote on an omnibus bill or a continuing resolution.
So, overtime, I think the American people can't get their lawmakers to act more like representative of their view point and not just valets for the lobbyists and special interests who control Washington.
PHILLIP: You're blaming McCarthy for taking baby steps. He said that he would open an impeachment inquiry, but your colleagues, including Congressman Ken Buck, have said that there is no evidence linking President Biden to these allegations. Listen to what he just a few minutes ago on CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEN BUCK (R-CO): I have not seen any evidence that links President Biden to Hunter Biden's activities.
I think it was a mistake to start talking about the impeachment inquiry. I think it's a good thing that we are voting on it on the floor because we've got a lot of work to do if we're going to pass a continuing resolution by September 30th and avert a government shutdown.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: I mean, he makes an important point that, in addition to what he said there, there are not the votes to support an impeachment inquiry into President Biden, and yet you continue to push Speaker McCarthy on that. Why is he wrong when, I think, the numbers are frankly on his side?
GAETZ: Well, let's take the votes. I think it is an illusion of Washington that you can't put anything on the floor that's not going to pass. I actually think our representative republic would be more vibrant if we had more votes that were not always just pre-determined, right? And so if we put an impeachment inquiry on the floor and it didn't pass, well, then the people who didn't vote for it would have to be responsive to their voters. That's the way this whole thing works.
And While Ken buck and I have strong disagreement on the quality of the evidence against Joe Biden, it's interesting to note he is one of my strongest allies on the spending matters. So, we can disagree on impeachment, we can agree on spending, it shows that the issues aren't particularly linked. As to the quality of the evidence, though, I just have to say, I mean, we do have bank records, devices, laptops, travel records, changes in administration policy, seems like pretty strong evidence to me.
PHILLIP: None of which links President Biden to --
GAETZ: Well, it was Joe Biden on the phone.
PHILLIP: -- none of which --
GAETZ: He was calling into the meetings. But, Abby, are you actually trying to tell your viewers that you don't believe that Joe Biden was involved in Hunter Biden's business deals?
PHILLIP: Congressman, it's not what I believe, it's about whether there is evidence that President Biden is linked to the misdeeds that might be linked to Hunter Biden. That's the issue.
But I want to get back --
GAETZ: That was tortured (ph).
PHILLIP: I do want to --
GAETZ: I mean, come on, he was -- wait, hold on. Can you just acknowledge it calls into the business deals, he's involved? When he calls dinners, you don't think that's involvement?
PHILLIP: First of all, this is not about innuendo. It's not about what I believe. It's a question, do you have evidence? If you had evidence that Joe Biden was linked to Hunter Biden's business deals in a way that is illegal, we wouldn't be having this conversation. You would probably have the votes for an impeachment inquiry, but you don't, because of people like ken buck, and people like Don Bacon, and many others in your conference.
GAETZ: Well, I see the evidence differently. I think that we need -- that's why we need to have the votes and have the debates and have the hearings.
And, again, they represent their constituents just like I represent mine.
Even in my remarks on the floor today, I disclaim and acknowledge all that you're saying. But when we just bundle it up and act as if this Biden family corruption isn't happening and we're not going to do anything about it, well, then Americans of all stripes start to lose faith in the oversight capabilities of the Congress and, really, in the impeachment power that gives us the requisite checks and balances the that are necessary.
PHILLIP: Well, look, I mean, there are a lot of members who worry and Republicans who worry that by starting an impeachment inquiry to try to find evidence that you probably should have before you start the inquiry, you cheapened process. Chris Christie said something very similar this week.
GAETZ: Oh, well, Chris Christie, gosh, I stopped taking advice from him when he was recommending Christopher Wray for a job.
PHILLIP: But on the substance of that?
GAETZ: Yes. But on the substance, look, you want to talk about how long we've had the evidence, the FBI had Hunter Biden's laptops in 2019. So, this inquiry isn't just going to be into the Bidens and the bad things they've done, it's also going to be into the cover-up, and we do have that evidence.
I was deposing Tim Thibault today. Today, I was asking questions about the roles of foreign interference task force to go and designate any derogatory information about the Bidens as foreign disinformation when that was part of a cover up.
PHILLIP: Congressman, let me just move on here because I'm going to reiterate to the audience, because we need to be clear, there is not evidence linking President Biden to anything illegal having to do with Hunter Biden.
However, I want to ask you about what Congresswoman Nancy Mace --
GAETZ: But his business dealings. That's a key -- wait, hold on, you did a key caveat there.
PHILLIP: Let me ask -- no, no, no. It's about -- I'm just -- there is no evidence linking President Biden to anything illegal that you are alleging that Hunter Biden did.
GAETZ: Getting the Ukrainian prosecutors fired I think was pretty wrong.
PHILLIP: Congresswoman Nancy Mace says that you and other, you, know MAGA members of the Congress are bullying moderates, she considers herself to be a moderate, in effect, by putting a lot of seats, Republican-held seats in jeopardy next year. Are you concerned about that as you plot this strategy of having countless votes on things that you have just acknowledged in this interview you don't have the votes for?
GAETZ: Yes. I think we should have countless votes even if we lose. And I don't think that's legislative bullying. I think that's legislating. I actually think that that's what can sand off some of the rough edges of the policy and procedural choices that we have to make to run the country. So, if there are members of Congress who think that taking tough votes is bullying, I guess they shouldn't have run for the position. And, here, yes, there are going to be some people who are going to be in a tough spot but their constituents deserve to know with our. And, frankly, I just think that that comes with being a member of the United States Congress.
PHILLIP: Last question before I let you go. Does Donald Trump, who, you know, you're a close ally, of does he support ousting Kevin McCarthy as speaker? GAETZ: I don't know. I haven't asked him. But I'll make sure to let him know you're interested in the question.
PHILLIP: All right. Congressman Matt Gaetz, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
GAETZ: Thank you, Abby.
PHILLIP: All right. Let's discuss this with CNN Political Commentator and former Trump White House Communications Director Alyssa Farah Griffin. Also with us is Senior Political Analyst John Avlon.
Alyssa, let's start with you. Your reaction to Matt Gaetz saying that holding countless votes that he knows will fail is legislating.
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: A lot of what he's saying is in conflict with each other. So, he wants to have a full appropriations process, open an amendment process on the House floor while having an ongoing speaker battle that may go through multiple ballots. Congress can barely keep the lights on, so where he thinks he's going to be able to do all this when the government is such a run out of money is beyond me.
But, listen, he's putting Kevin McCarthy in an untenable position. He basically has two jobs. Keep his speakership and keep his majority, and they seem to be running in direct conflict with each other.
PHILLIP: And, John, he seems to be basically spending any sort of leverage that he might have right now before we even get to the spending deadline. I mean, we're looking potentially at a government shutdown.
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: We absolutely are. But instead, Congress is focused on an impeachment inquiry, which is utterly baseless in terms of the evidence, as you laid out.
Look, this is a good illustration of the fundamental problem in our politics right now. It is about hyperpartisanship. It's about extremes hijacking the process for their own ends. And Kevin McCarthy, having to placate his base, even when they're trying to push against anything resembling precedence or fidelity of the Constitution, if you care about evidence and facts. This is not on the same moral or practical universe as some of the other impeachment inquiries we've had in this country.
PHILLIP: Matt Gaetz would be the first to complain about how it was handled under President Trump. And it actually wasn't like this. There was a vote then. There was evidence.
AVLON: There was a lot of evidence as it occurred. And that's the problem. They're protesting against the way it's done. Already, the DOJ says you have to hold a floor vote.
McCarthy himself said he would hold a floor vote, as you put it out earlier this month. And now, all of a sudden, he's abandoning that because he doesn't want folks to take a tough vote.
PHILLIP: So, I got to -- before you jump in, I want to get something that just landed just tonight. Washington Post Columnist David Ignatius just wrote a column saying that Biden and Vice President Harris should not run for re-election in 2024.
I'm just going to read a little part of it because I think this is really surprising. He is someone who, frankly, Biden listens to. He says that voters are concerned about Biden's age. And because of their concerns about Biden's age, voters would sensibly focus on his presumptive running mate, Harris. She is less popular than Biden, with a 39.5 percent approval rating, and Harris has many laudable qualities. But the simple fact is that she has failed to gain traction in the country or even within her own country. Pretty strong words about Biden's age and his view of Harris' readiness.
GRIFFIN: I mean, the reality is this. I mean, this article is going to send shockwaves around West Wing. I think we all know that. 73 percent of Americans, according to CNN's own polling, think that Biden's age is an issue. He would be our oldest president in history.
And I think what the Democrats did extremely effectively in the midterms was argue the democracy case, the importance of democracy and not electing election deniers, but they undermined that argument when they put up two candidates who, head-to-head, in some polls, Joe Biden is losing to Donald Trump or, if anything, it is Biden just a hair that he is winning.
The biggest single obstacle that the polling bears out is the age factor, and then pair that with who is largely an unpopular vice president, I think David Ignatius is right here.
AVLON: And this is a body blow to the Biden White House because of how respected David Ignatius is. This is someone who has been seen as an ally of the administration.
PHILLIP: He's been listened to, talked to.
AVLON: Absolutely. And so, look, this is what CNN's poll showed. This is about age. It's about perception, it's about vigor, it's about vice president. And David Ignatius is saying these things in print in The Washington Post in a pretty indelible fashion.
PHILLIP: Yes. This is not someone who is really considered at gadfly. He is someone who, even going back to the Obama years, waas courted by both Obama and then-Vice President Joe Biden. John and Alyssa, thank you both very much.
And, coming up next, Senator Elizabeth Warren reacts to this Biden impeachment inquiry, plus why she is against tech giants, like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, visiting Capitol Hill tomorrow.
And the head of the Chicago's teachers union is now under fire for sending her own child to private school. She will join me to explain, live.
PHILLIP: Gun violence showing no signs of slowing. This year is set to be one of the deadliest for mass shootings of more than 400 so far. And today, congressional Democrats are now making it clear that they have had enough. More than 60 lawmakers signing a letter to President Biden calling on him to leverage the full power of the executive branch to address gun violence, outlining steps that his administration can take without congressional approval.
Those proposals include incentivizing gun manufacturers to decline to sell military-grade weapons to civilians, revisiting the list of guns that are eligible for import under the sporting purposes exception, and urging the FTC to clamp down on unfair or deceptive gun acts.
Now, a White House official tells CNN that the administration is currently reviewing this letter and my next guest is among those leading this new push. It is Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. she joins me now. Senator, thank you very much for joining me.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): Thanks for having me here.
PHILLIP: So, Senator Warren, you and your Democratic colleagues have a list of a number of actions that you would like to see taken, as we just outlined. What makes this different from what we have heard from Democrats in the past? This push for action has been pretty constant
WARREN: So, we see only this, this letter is about saying to President Biden that we in Congress have your back if you will pick up every possible tool to reduce gun violence in America. You know, we have just reached a point in this country where we have got to try to do everything. And, sure, would I like for Congress to do more? You bet I would. But right now, the Republicans are going to block that. So, we have to act.
Keep in mind that gun violence is the number one cause of death for our children. It is not whooping cough, it's not leukemia, it is gun violence. And that means it is up to us to put a stop to it. So, we have laid out things that the president can do on his own, without Congress, that could actually move the needle and help save lives. That is why we are here.
PHILLIP: Two years into President Biden's term and, certainly, after just countless mass shootings and just everyday violence, what has stopped President Biden from taking these actions so far in his presidency?
WARREN: You know, I really want to start with a big thank you to President Biden. He signed into law the first legislation that has passed in 30 years to try to reduce gun violence, made it through Congress and over his desk. He also has taken administrative actions, for example, to help close the gun show loophole. And good for President Biden, this is more than anybody has done in a very, very long time. But there is more that we can do. So, for example, you were going to list, and let me just point out, one in four assault rifles right now is imported from a foreign country into the United States. We can put a stop to that and we can do it administratively without additional legislation from Congress.
So, that is the kind of thing that we need to do. We have picked things where we can make a very real difference in the number of guns and the kind of guns that are available on our streets. And that will save lives.
PHILLIP: So, Senator, can I ask you about this? New Mexico's governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, she has issued this temporary order that bans both open and concealed carry firearms in Albuquerque and the surrounding county.
Do you believe that that is the right move? Do you think it is even legal?
WARREN: You know, I want to put it this way. I think that our mayors and our governors have the hardest job in the world right now when it comes to gun violence. Keep in mind, for example, in the District of Columbia, a few years back, D.C. said we just wanted to basically ban carrying guns. And good for D.C. They said it was going to bring down gun violence and they were right.
And then an extremist United States Supreme Court said no, we're not going to let you do it and then Congress wouldn't act to try to give them some of the tools to help fight gun violence. And yet, it is those same governors and same errors who are then held responsible for the rise in violence.
So, I say this. They are caught in the switches and they are doing everything they possibly can to reduce gun violence and to try to save the lives of our children, our neighbors, everyone.
PHILLIP: I want to turn to another topic that is coming up for Washington this week, and that is artificial intelligence. Just in a couple of days, Senator Chuck Schumer has invited Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, other tech CEOs over to Washington to meet about the future of this technology. It seems like this is a really pivotal moment for the future.
But you have voiced some criticism with that strategy of bringing the tech leaders to Washington. But I wonder, I mean, is it really the wrong strategy to bring them to the table and figure out a way forward before this technology goes too far?
WARREN: Look, if we're going to bring tech billionaires in to tell Congress how to write laws, we know what they are going to say. This is an opportunity to lobby. They are going to say write the laws in ways that protect their billion dollar fortunes and the head start that they have in the A.I. industry.
But I am glad to hear from these folks. I just don't want to hear from them behind closed doors. We have a way to hear from them, and that is in hearings. I want to hear from them when they come into a hearing that is open to the public, anybody can see it, and where senators or representatives get to ask some tough questions.
I don't think we should be going behind closed doors to let these guys have nonstop lobbying for hours and hours and hours without any public scrutiny of what they have to say and the claims they are making.
PHILLIP: So, I just mentioned Elon Musk, one of the tech executives in this space. He is also involved in quite a lot of other things. And there have been reports recently about his involvement in the war in Ukraine and the way that his control of this Starlink, basically internet technology there, plays a huge role in that war. Does Elon Musk have veto power, basically, in the Ukraine conflict right now?
WARREN: Well, look, no one is supposed to make foreign policy for the United States other than the United States government. It is not up to one billionaire to go off in secret and change our foreign policy. I think we need an investigation, both from the Department of Defense and from Congress, to look into the arrangement with Elon Musk and his company that would give him the ability to, in effect, turn off or restrict in any way access for Ukraine or anyone else in contravention of specific policies of the United States of America.
Those foreign policy decisions are not the subcontracted off to one billionaire. They belong to the federal government and the federal government that represents all of the American people.
PHILLIP: So, in some other news today, in the House of Representatives, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is calling for the opening of a formal impeachment inquiry into President Biden. Meanwhile, he is facing himself some threats to his speakership. What do you think is going on in the House? And should the White House be concerned that they could launch an impeachment inquiry into the president?
WARREN: Look, this is one more example of a handful of extremists in the House that are tail-wagging the whole Republican dog here. Republicans themselves were asked today, both the House and the Senate, whether or not there is any evidence to impeach the president, and the answer was no. And that was from Republicans.
So, what is going on here? This is Kevin McCarthy trying to save his own skin and further empowering a handful of extremists who are once again trying to push, trying to use the tools of the United States government, not to help the American people, not to get to what is true, but just to see if they can advance the interests of Donald Trump. It is so wrong.
PHILLIP: Meanwhile, as we go into this presidential cycle, a recent CNN poll shows that roughly three-quarters of Americans say they are worried about President Biden's age and how it might affect his ability to serve out another full term. That actually includes 49 percent of Democrats who say that the president's age is their biggest concern. Are you worried that this is going to hamper his chances in this upcoming race? And what can you do about it?
WARREN: You know, every time I get this question, I say, take a look at what he's done. This is the president who's delivered $35 insulin. This is the president who has delivered the biggest climate package in the history of the world, paid for by a 15 percent minimum corporate tax, first big corporation tax increase in 30 years. This is the president who's now put a cap that's going to go into effect, so seniors don't have to pay more than $2,000 on their medical bills. This is a president who's getting rid of junk fees.
Day by day by day, President Biden is doing the job. He is delivering for the American people. And I think when we get ready to do the election in 2024, that that's what the American people will see. We have a president who is doing what he said he would do. He's not working for those at the top. He is working for America's working families. He is building the middle class from the bottom up, from the middle out. He is out there actually not talking about it. He's doing the job that we hired him to do in 2020. And I think we'll rehire him in 2024.
PHILLIP: Well, we will see if that ends up being ultimately enough for many Americans, including many Democrats, who seem to even at this stage be continually concerned about this issue. But Senator Elizabeth Warren, thank you for joining us on that and a number of other really important topics tonight.
WARREN: You bet, good to see you.
PHILLIP: And up next, the head of the Chicago's Teachers Union joins me live as she faces criticism for sending her child to a private school.
Plus, the atmosphere in Pennsylvania is growing intense tonight as police zero in on a perimeter for that escaped inmate. They now believe that he is armed.
PHILLIP: Tonight, the head of the Chicago Teachers Union is facing intense backlash after it was revealed that her eldest son is enrolled in a private Catholic school. Now, the reason that this is at all controversial for some people is because Stacy Davis Gates has championed the city's public school system while consistently voicing strong opposition to private education.
Now, last year, she underscored her position on the issue, saying, quote, "I can't advocate on behalf of public education without it taking root in my own household."
And joining me now is Stacy Davis-Gates. Stacey, thank you for being here. We wanted to have you on so you could help explain what happened here. You've likened in the past private schools of today to quote "segregation academies of the Jim Crow South." Why then send your child to a private school after speaking out so publicly against them? STACY DAVIS GATES, PRESIDENT, CHICAGO TEACHERS UNION: I didn't speak
out against private schools. I spoke out against school choice. School choice and private schools are two different entities.
PHILLIP: In your tweet, you describe basically private, I mean, you've described private schools of the North. That was literally your language. But you've also said this, that school choice was the choice of racists. I think at the end of the day, People are asking here about whether the rhetoric matches your actions. What do you say to them?
DAVIS GATES: Well, I would say that if we understand the desegregation of schools post Brown v. The Board of Education, we also understand that school districts in the South in particular closed down entire school districts, offered money to families, white families, so they could get accepted into private schools. That is, in fact, the origin of school choice in America.
And I know that the right-wing wants to obscure that in the same way that they want to tell us that slavery was a job training program.
PHILLIP: Look, I understand the history that you're talking about and I myself attended public school my entire life, but I think one of the issues here is actually something that you yourself raised. You wrote a letter to your colleagues and you said that our critics want you to believe that, quote, "school choice is a black and white issue that lacks nuance and hard choices for people like us, black families, especially when you are parenting a black boy in America." You wrote that to explain why you chose to take your child out of public school for a sports program at a private school.
The question I think your critics are asking is, why not afford that nuance to the families who might live in the South Side of Chicago and in other major cities, and they want the same choice that you were able to afford to give to your child?
DAVIS GATES: So a couple of things. Number one, I have three children. And all three children have attended public school. And my youngest two are still public school students.
The second thing is that over 90 percent of my neighbors and my zip codes send their children into schools outside of our zip code, outside of our neighborhood. And this is an issue that black Chicagoans, black families in Chicagoans deal with on a very regular basis, and in fact, for generations. This is not an issue of just Stacy Davis Gates and her family.
Quite frankly, this is an issue, especially for middle-class black families all across this country, where the public accommodation is obsolete, just like the grocery store in our communities is obsolete, just like the health care provisions in our community are obsolete.
What I am saying and what we have said very clearly as a union for a very long time now is that the public accommodation has to be invested and resource in black communities because we have been defunded and destabilized in those same communities. So when we talk about choice, Abby, what we're talking about is a decision between frosted flakes and Cheerios.
But in Chicago and especially in black neighborhoods, it's a decision with zero and zero. And that's not a choice. That is, quite frankly, an ultimatum. Black children in the city of Chicago travel outside of their neighborhoods on an average two hours more than any other comparative demographic.
PHILLIP: I totally understand the point that you're making, but I do wonder, do you regret your own rhetoric here?
DAVIS GATES: Regret rhetoric what I've said are facts again I'm a history teacher --
PHILLIP: Well, I think that the rhetoric that I'm -- let me explain my question, let me just explain.
DAVIS GATES: I understand quite clearly what you're saying --
PHILLIP: What I'm asking is that you're describing a very nuanced issue here. I understand that, I understand the history of, you know, segregation in the school system. But at the same time, what I'm trying to ask you is, do you think that your rhetoric at some point went too far when you are making a choice, because perhaps I assume you can afford to do that, that a lot of Chicago parents don't, because they can't afford it.
And proponents of school choice say the state should have a role in helping those families who can't afford it make the same choice that you did for your family.
DAVIS GATES: So a couple of things, Abby. It is nuanced in Chicago. Like I've said, we have been destabilized and defunded in our black communities. When people speak of choice, they are speaking of two different things that are of comparative nature.
What we are faced with in Chicago is an absence of a choice, is an absence of resources. And furthermore, school choice in this country has been anchored to a very racist and angry right-wing. I can show you a whole host of emails that have come to me and my family detailing that level of violence and racism.
So if the Choice Movement does want to move away from their angry and violent rhetoric, I might add, then they would do themselves a favor and reject the rhetoric of the right that tells us that history is not important.
I understand the impact of segregation in Chicago, the impact of destabilization in Chicago. And I faced that along with over 90 percent of my neighbors and that the school that is supposed to be down the street for the cop that lives across the street from me or the retired teacher and her family that lives next door to me, that's not afforded to us. So when we talk about rhetoric, we also have to talk about the
historical record. And the historical record is very clear. The school choice movement was a cudgel for integration in this country. That is a fact. Number two, the destabilization of black spaces throughout this country has been reprehensible and is most acutely felt with families who want to send their children to public schools.
As I've said before, my children do attend public schools. My son, he has the opportunity to play sports at a school, sports by the way that are not offered at our neighborhood school or any school close to our address. Again, students in Chicago, especially black students on average, travel almost two hours back and forth to school.
So the real scandal, Abby, is why in 2023, black families in Chicago and across this country have to deal with such severe inequities and such high stakes.
PHILLIP: I totally agree that is a scandal, but I also think that what you just described for your son is choice that you made for your family, and I think that's what your critics are pointing out here.
But Stacy Davis-Gates, I do appreciate you coming on here tonight, and I also want to just say that I'm sorry that your family has experienced threats as a result of all this.
This is a discussion about policy choices, and I hope that people on both sides of this issue can deal with it in a really civil manner. I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.
DAVIS GATES: Thank you, Abby.
PHILLIP: And the escaped killer authorities are now searching for in Pennsylvania. Now armed and extremely dangerous after stealing a rifle. We'll have the latest on that 13-day manhunt next.
PHILLIP: The manhunt in Pennsylvania is intensifying tonight as police warn convicted killer Danelo Cavalcante is now armed with a stolen rifle. Officials say that he was last seen shirtless last night at a residence about 20 miles north of the Chester County prison where he had escaped nearly two weeks ago.
Now according to officials, he entered an open garage while the homeowner was inside and he grabbed a 22 caliber rifle.
Now with me -- now is former NYPD Lieutenant and criminal justice expert, Darrin Porcher. Darren, thanks for being here. Look, we have this map here showing all the key moments in this search so far. He stole a van, the van was then later found. Then he was now armed. Where do you think the search is taking law enforcement right now in terms of their tactics and their strategies?
DARRIN PORCHER, FORMER NYPD LIEUTENANT: What was interesting about this is he's now gone from where the Chester County prison is, 20 miles away. So one of the key components is he was able to acquire a vehicle, which has taken him to a particular distance. However, that vehicle ran out of gas.
So now he's on the land. The concerning piece is he was at one point a farmhand, so he genuinely understands the terrain of what we see on this map. So he's going to be fully understanding in how to navigate through this. Therefore, as a result, the local police would be the best asset to guide the search. We have the state police there at the forefront of the investigation. However, the local police would have a better understanding as to how he's going to navigate through this.
Bear in mind, he's in possession of a rifle. This is a very dangerous instrument. It can kill someone. And this can also act as a hindrance because it's so large and the concealability is very limited.
PHILLIP: That's a really important point about the rifle. Given all the sightings that we've had in the last couple of days and the last two weeks, are you surprised that they haven't zoomed in on the sky and found him yet?
PORCHER: I'm surprised they haven't found him, but it goes back to he's a person that has a genuine understanding of the terrain based on him being a prior farmhand. So he understands and knows how to navigate through this very treacherous woods area. And that's where we go back or we refer to the local police who would be better equipped in understanding what the terrain of where the search pattern would lead to.
PHILLIP: Yeah. Ultimately finding him is almost like a needle in a haystack. Thank you so much, Darrin Porcher. I really appreciate it.
PORCHER: Thank you.
PHILLIP: And up next, the NFL is facing another discrimination lawsuit accused of dismissing an NFL reporter who publicly challenged Commissioner Roger Goodell. The man who filed that suit, Jim Trotter, joins me next.
PHILLIP: The NFL is in hot water again tonight around claims of racial discrimination. This time it is coming from a former NFL Network reporter, Jim Trotter. In a lawsuit that was filed today, Trotter claims that the league left him, let him go after publicly challenging Commissioner Roger Goodell earlier in this year about the NFL's record on race discrimination and lack of diversity. Here is part of that public exchange between Trotter and Goodell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM TROTTER, FORMER NFL REPORTER: I've worked at NFL media for five years. During those five years, we have never had a black person in senior management in our newsroom. I asked you about these things last year, and what you told me is that the league had fallen short, and you were going to review all of your policies and practices to try and improve this. And yet, a year later, nothing has changed.
RODGER GODDELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: Well, Jim, I am not in charge of the newsroom. So I think the -- Can I answer your question? As you point out, it's the same question you asked last year. And we did go back and we have reviewed everything we've been doing across the league. I can't answer the specific questions. Some of the data you may have raised there may be accurate, maybe not. Last year I was told some of it wasn't. We'll get to you on that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: So here's what the NFL is now saying in response to this lawsuit. A spokesperson for the league says, quote, "Mr. Trotter's departure from NFL Media was one of many difficult decisions, similar to decisions recently made by other media organizations to address a challenging economy and a changing media environment. Jim was one of many employees who were unfortunately affected by these business decisions."
Jim Trotter joins me now along with his attorney, David Gottlieb. Jim and David, both of you, thanks for joining us tonight.
Jim, I want to start with you here. The NFL is disputing your claim that you were let go because of racial discrimination. Why do you believe they let you go?
TROTTER: Well, first, I don't believe it was racial discrimination. I believe it was discrimination within the larger context of the NFL culture. I believe I was let go because I challenged the NFL to live up to the standards that it says are important to it, that are core principles to the league in terms of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
And for the last two years, I've been pointing out both internally and externally that in our newsroom, we did not have one Black manager. We did not have one black copy editor, and we did not have one full-time black news assistant. And yet we were covering a player population by the league's data that is 60 to 70 percent black. And so my issue was how can we effectively and fairly cover this player population if they have no one at the table, the decision-making table who shares the same cultural and life experiences that they have been through?
And I had been fighting that for two years and not getting anywhere with it. And in fact, in November, when my agent reached out to them to see if my contract was going to be renewed. They said, we see no reason whatsoever it won't be renewed, although it may come with a pay trend.
Well, after I asked Rodger Goodell those questions, several weeks later, I was told that was no longer the case, that it was being reviewed. Three weeks after that, I was told my contract was not being renewed. PHILLIP: And Jim, you also named team owners in your lawsuit,
including the Buffalo Bills owner, Terry Pagula, and the Dallas Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones. What can you tell us about your experiences with them?
TROTTER: Well, the Terry Pagula comment came from a Zoom call where there were over 40 NFL employees on it. And there was a reporter from NFL Network who made the allegation that Terry Pagula was addressing the issue of player activism, had said that basically, if players don't like it, they should go back to Africa and see how bad it really is.
When the Jerry Jones case a year later, I was asking Jerry Jones about why NFL owners have such a hard time hiring black people into decision-making positions. I asked him three different times about it, and after the third time, he told me he was starting to get a little defensive. I told him, I'm not talking about you directly. I'm talking about owners as a collective.
And that is when Jerry said to me, if Blacks feel some kind of way. They should buy their own team and hire who they want to hire. This just speaks to the culture within the NFL, in my opinion, about how they feel about black employees and black men in particular. When we look at the head coach situation right now, there are 32 teams. There are only three head coaches who identify as black.
We know that the league has a long and complicated history as it relates to race and the NFL going back to the 1930s and 40s, where they had a 12 year ban on black players to then black players coming into the league and being told they couldn't play certain positions because they were thinking man's positions. And then we can fast forward to things like race norming in the concussion settlement case where they relied on that for a time until there was such a public outcry that they had to remove that.
So Abby, this is a long pattern in terms of history of the NFL as it relates to race here. And I just believe that if I'm not willing to stand up and fight for this, then I have no reason to complain about what's going on.
PHILLIP: I should say that Terry Pagula has denied these allegations. He said they're absolutely false. And Jerry Jones says that the details of the conversation that you just outlined in this claim are simply not accurate.
David, I do want to get to you before we go here. You've been involved in some of these other cases, accusing the NFL of similar conduct. Do you see the problem having a systematic or a systemic issue when it comes to race, or is it just quite a lot of bad actors, allegedly?
DAVID GOTTLIEB, JIM TROTTER'S ATTORNEY: Well, I mean, I think as Jim already described, I mean, the NFL's problems with racism go back decades and generations. And I don't know that I need to go back through all the numbers, but there's three black head coaches out of 32 teams, no black majority owners. You know, and in the newsroom, as Jim said, no black managers, no
black copy editors, no full time black employees on the news desk. So clearly there's a systemic issue here.