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Supreme Court Guts Affirmative Action In College Admissions; Source Says, Trump Showed Classified Map To Senior Campaign Aide; Documents Show Missing Russian General Was A Secret Member Of Wagner; Schools, Public Transport Shutter In France Amid Chaotic Protests Over Police Shooting. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired June 29, 2023 - 18:00   ET




WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, affirmative action policies at colleges and universities across America gutted by a new U.S. Supreme Court ruling. We're getting new reaction to the precedent- busting decision. The president of Howard University joins us this hour.

Also tonight, new details on a potentially key witness against Donald Trump who was shown a classified map by the former president. We're going to tell you what we're learning from our sources about the special counsel's investigation.

Plus, our Russia experts are weighing in on CNN's exclusive new reporting, documents showing a missing top general in Vladimir Putin's military has been a secret member of the mercenary group behind the recent mutiny.

Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

There's angry backlash tonight after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that race can no longer be a specific basis for college admissions.

CNN Justice Correspondent Jessica Schneider has our report on the decision and the dissent.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The Supreme Court stirring up protests with its decision to gutting affirmative action saying colleges and universities can no longer rely on race in the admissions process, but prospective students are still allowed to talk about how race has shaped their experiences in the applications.

The 6-3 opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts will now prohibit students from checking a box indicating their race, specifically saying the practice at Harvard and University of North Carolina cannot be reconciled with the guarantees of the Equal Protection Clause.

The majority not explicitly saying they're overruling more than four decades of precedent that allowed affirmative action, but the three liberal justices writing, today this court stands in the way and rolls back decades of precedent and momentous progress.

ANGIE GABEAU, PRESIDENT, HARVARD BLACK STUDENTS ASSOCIATTION: I'm worried about the youth and like the students younger than us in high school and middle school and elementary school who might not get the same opportunity that I did.

SCHNEIDER: The two cases were brought by the group, Students for Fair Admissions, led by Activist Edward Blum, who has fought for nearly a decade to eradicate affirmative action.

EDWARD BLUM, PRESIDENT, STUDENTS FOR FAIR ADMISSINOS: Classifying students by races and ethnicity, treating them differently because of their race and ethnicity is unfair.

SCHNEIDER: At the forefront of the Harvard fight, Asian students who argued they were disadvantaged because Harvard prioritized other minorities and used a personal ratings score that did not rank them favorably. Now, some are celebrating a new admissions process that will largely take race out of the equation.

KENNY XU, BOARD MEMBER, STUDENTS FOR FAIR ADMISSIONS: I understand that people's lives are improved by getting into an Ivy League university, but that opportunity should be made available to people of every race, not just one.

SCHNEIDER: The issue is deeply personal to Justice Sonia Sotomayor as the first person of color on the Supreme Court. She issued a fiery dissent accusing the majority of employing an unjustified exercise power that will serve to highlight the court's impotence in the face of an America whose cries for equality resound.

Justice Sotomayor has been outspoken in the past saying that using other methods to ensure diversity won't work.

JUSTICE SONIA SOTOMAYOR, SUPREME COURT: It's not that I don't believe it works, I don't think the statistics show it works.

SCHNEIDER: In fact, when California banned affirmative action in 1996, U.C. Berkeley said black and Hispanic representation on their campus dropped by 50 percent.

But Justice Clarence Thomas, one of two black justices on the high court, spoke in personal terms too, saying he believes the Constitution is color blind. While I am painfully aware of the social and economic ravages which have be fallen my race and all who suffer discrimination, I hold out enduring hope that this country will live up to its principles that all men are created equal, are equal citizens and must be treated equally before the law.

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first black woman in the court, pushed back in a separate dissent, bashing the majority opinion as exuding a let them eat cake obliviousness, and said, deeming race irrelevant in law does not make it so in life.


SCHNEIDER (on camera): The Supreme Court, however, saying that U.S. military academies can continue to take race in consideration as a factor in admissions, essentially exempting these military schools from this ruling. And, Wolf, that was spelled out in a footnote in the majority opinion. Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, she called that out, saying that this court is prioritizing diversity for the bunker instead of the board room, as she put it.

But there is a lot of gray area in this opinion. It will likely lead to litigation in the future about just how far schools might take race into consideration, especially when students mention it in those personal essays.


BLITZER: Interesting. Jessica Schneider, thank you very much for that report.

Let's get some more right now, the impact of the historic ruling with the president of Howard University, Dr. Wayne Frederick. Dr. Frederick, thanks so much for joining us.

What does this ruling mean for Howard University and other historically black colleges and universities around the country?

DR. WAYNE A.I. FREDERICK, PRESIDENT, HOWARD UNIVERSITY: Well, it's very concerning. Because our commitment at Howard and the other historically black colleges and universities is one of diversity, one of inclusion, one of social justice and equity. And in our education system, we know that that does not exist currently. And as students come to our higher education institutions, some of them are severely disadvantaged. And by removing affirmative action, you're going to remove an opportunity for them to matriculate into those schools and colleges.

In addition, Wolf, I am concerned that historically black colleges and universities, like Howard University, are already carrying an outsized burden in this country in terms of diversifying fields, such as medicine, law and business. I mean, we account for 3 percent of the higher education institutions in this country but we award 25 percent of the bachelor's degrees that go to our African-American citizens.

So, we already have an outsized burden, and I think that this may also encourage students to apply to us in larger numbers, but larger numbers that we may not be able to accommodate, which means that less of them, as they get into the other institutions, may start to become a bit disgruntled and a bit dissuaded from even applying.

BLITZER: Important point, indeed. The chief justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, says this won't stop universities from considering applicants' discussion of how race affected his or her life, those are his words. What does that mean practically for admissions offices? FREDERICK: For admissions offices are going to be very, very anxious about how they interpret that. Because once a student does not get in and feels they have a case around race, they will probably want to start seeing what these other applications look like. And they will question whether or not somebody's mention of race was now given more consideration than theirs, and where do you draw that line. So, I think that's a very concerning effort.

Now, interestingly enough, our medical school application, as a supplemental application speaks, to this issue, someone's commitment to an underserved population, speaks to their commitment or their hardships while they have lived such a life, as I believe Justice Roberts was trying to speak to.

And, yes, what's interesting about that is that 79 of our 125 students a couple of years ago in the entering class, Howard was the only institution they got into. I think that those things can now be questioned on the basis of this ruling as people continue to push the envelope around how race is used. And I think that that could be very problematic.

So, I think this opens a can of worms. I think that path of the opinion, in particular, is very problematic because of how vague it has left the situation.

BLITZER: Dr. Frederick, what message is the U.S. Supreme Court sending more broadly right now as so many parts of American society try to increase their diversity and representation?

FREDERICK: It's very interesting. After George Floyd's murder, everyone was speaking about the fact that we were beginning to have a different type of discourse, and I, back then, said, and I will continue to say this, that the caravan for social justice that many of us are on, including an institution like Howard University, have taken on a lot more passengers, but they would leave.

And I think what the Supreme Court is saying is that they can leave in a rush, they can leave us without gas, without new tires, without a carburetor, and I think that that's unfortunate. What they're doing now is actually putting impediments in front of that journey, to that equality and social justice. And I think it is problematic for the country that we're in today.

BLITZER: Dr. Wayne Frederick, the president of Howard University here in Washington, thanks so much for joining us. Thanks for all you're doing.

FREDERICK: Thanks for having me.

BLITZER: Let's talk about the legal and political implications of this historic U.S. Supreme Court decision. Shan Wu, I'll start with you. This is clearly a monumental decision. What is the immediate impact on how colleges will evaluate applicants going forward especially minorities?

SHAN WU, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It's a little hard to know how they're going to implement this decision. I mean, we've obviously been expecting it, as we all have for a while, Wolf. I mean, I think that discussion you were just having about that kind of cryptic line, if you will, from Roberts that says oh, but of course a student can still include in their essay the effect race has on them, that's quite a knot to untangle for the college admissions officers, how do you do that without running afoul of the notion that you're taking race too specifically into account.


So, I think they're all studying this and they probably have been thinking about how to manage their admissions policies.

BLITZER: Very important. Audie Cornish is with us as well. As we know, Audie, in her dissent, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, she accused the majority of having, and I'm quoting her now, let them eat cake obliviousness, and writes, the majority pulls the rip cord and announces color blindness for all by legal fiat. But deeming race irrelevant in law does not make it so in life. It's a pretty remarkable statement coming from a Supreme Court justice.

AUDIE CORNISH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is. But the author of the dissent really was Sotomayor, and she was very clear that she believed that she did not think the majority's arguments were grounded in fact or grounded in law. She was very much challenging the idea. She called it a false promise that there's a way to let students acknowledge their race and identity without the school somehow acknowledging their race and identity. And I think she's nodding to the fact that this is opening the door to more confusion, not less, with the way that the court has tried to both acknowledge this as an issue, but to say to the public, it's time for these programs to end all together.

BLITZER: Interesting indeed. Steve Vladeck, President Biden was highly critical of the U.S. Supreme Court decision, calling it not normal. Watch and listen to what he said.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: What I meant with that is it's a done more to unravel basic rights and decisions than any court in recent history, and that's what I meant by not normal.

It's just so out of sorts with the basic value system of the American people. And I think that across the board, the vast majority of the American people don't agree with a lot of the decisions these courts are making.


BLITZER: Steve, you're a professor of law at the University of Texas and an expert on the U.S. Supreme Court. Is he right? Is this not a, quote, normal court?

STEVE VLADECK, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I mean, I think there's a kernel of truth to what the president is saying, Wolf. I think, certainly, some of the court's decisions really are inconsistent with public opinion. To me, where the current court really starts to look very different from its predecessors, Wolf, is less in the substance of individual decisions, like the affirmative action ruling today, and more in just the general climate of unaccountability, the notion that the court is not and ought not to be beholden to the political branches, beholden to popular public opinion. That has not been the norm for most of our history.

And so I think part of what we're seeing with the court, whether it's last term with the abortion and guns decisions, this term, with today's affirmative action rule, we might see more tomorrow on student loans, is that this is a court that is just not remotely afraid of its own shadow and is not remotely afraid of pushback.

And, Wolf, that's especially telling in the affirmative action context, because, although public universities are covered by the Equal Protection Clause, private universities are only covered by federal civil rights laws, meaning Congress actually could push back against today's decision if there was a political will power for it. The fact that the court is not remotely worried about that, that it actually blurs those two different threads in today's ruling is, I think, what makes the current court in the president's words, not normal compared to its predecessors.

BLITZER: Interesting. You know, Audie, Democrats certainly benefitted politically from the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, as we all remember. How likely is it that there will be a similar political effect from today's decision?

CORNISH: This is a little different because upwards of nine states prior to this point had already done away with affirmative action programs and higher education, including California and Texas, right? Those are big states, big student populations.

But, as always, like with Roe v. Wade, it does come down to enforcement and policing. What will this actually look like? Will it invite more lawsuits? Will it create an atmosphere where the public actually sees how these things play out in real-time, and abortion that has meant women with criminalized pregnancies facing charges depending on what prosecutor might have the interest to do so? Will there be another run of lawsuits, another whole dialogue about this meaning that this has not settled things, so to speak? And that is something politically partisans can always take advantage of.

BLITZER: So, you're going to have a lot more on your podcast down the road on this. This is an important decision, indeed. Your podcast is very, very popular. It's called The Assignment with Audie Cornish. Wherever you get your podcasts, you should check it out, very, very good stuff

Just ahead, we're breaking down CNN's new reporting on a top Trump campaign aide who was actually shown a highly classified map by the former president. What did she tell the special counsel's investigators? Stay with us.



BLITZER: New developments tonight in the special counsel's classified documents probe. Sources telling CNN one of Donald Trump's closest campaign advisers was shown a classified map by the former president.

CNN's Senior Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid is working this story for us. What more, Paula, can you tell us about your new reporting?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: One of the most striking parts of the special counsel's indictment was this allegation that former President Trump had showed a representative from his political action committee a classified map. Now, that's pretty shocking not only because he allegedly shared classified documents, but that the fact that this was someone in his inner circle, and the indictment suggests that this could have been someone close to him who revealed to investigators.

Now, a source familiar tells CNN that this individual, this representative was Susie Wiles. She's one of his closest aides. She's effectively running his campaign, his third run for the White House. We know she was interviewed multiple times by the special counsel. We know she was asked if she was shown this map or shown any documents related to General Mark Milley. But, Wolf, we don't know what she told investigators. We don't know if they make this allegation because of what she said or because of what someone else revealed.


Trump world tonight tells CNN that they were blindsided by this and there are no plans for Wiles to step aside from her role in the campaign.

BLITZER: This campaign aide had no security clearances, right?

REID: Correct.

BLITZER: That's very significant, indeed. All right, stand by, Paula, we're going to get back to you in just a few moments.

I want to bring in also CNN Anchor and Chief Correspondent Kaitlan Collins, along with us, CNN Senior Law Enforcement, the former FBI deputy director, Andrew McCabe.

Kaitlan, you also worked on this reporting, and it's very significant reporting. Help us better understand where Susan Wiles, this campaign aide, actually fits into Trump's orbit and how likely she is to fully cooperate?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: Well, she's not someone who is well known to most viewers, I would think, but obviously any Trump reporter knows her well because she is a senior campaign aide for this third bid for the presidency, and she's effectively running the campaign.

And she's very trusted in Trump's inner circle of advisers, she plays a role in a lot of decisions, especially when it comes to the attorneys who are around Trump. She particularly, I'm told, is a fan of Chris Kise, who is one of the attorneys who was actually in the courtroom with Trump when he was arraigned in Miami. He, of course, is the former solicitor general for the state of Florida.

She's actually someone who used to have quite close ties to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis until they had a falling out, and now she has aligned herself in Trump's orbit.

And so the reason it's notable that she's gone and spoken with the special counsel's team that she has been identified by our sources as the person that Trump showed this classified map relating to a military operation to is because she's around him every single day almost, be dealing with these campaign events that you see him on the road doing.

And so we don't know exactly the full scope of what she told investigators or what their questions were for her, but it just adds another complicating factor to this that, of course, his co-defendant is still his body man and now another witness in this, Susie Wiles, is also someone who is running his campaign on a daily basis.

BLITZER: Very significant. Andrew, how serious potentially is this alleged incident of Trump showing this classified document to Wiles, who, as we pointed out, did not have the proper security clearances?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT: Well, Wolf, it's very serious for a number of reasons. It provides yet another entirely separate instance in which the president is exhibiting a knowing and willful retention of national defense information, a military map about U.S. troop movements and activities in foreign countries, certainly qualifies as national defense information. It also sheds light on his intent, his intent to withhold and retain those materials, and the fact that he is sharing them with people who are not authorized to have access to material, very bad.

And I should add, coming from this witness who you can assume will testify at trial, she'll be forced to testify at trial, it will be very impactful for a jury because they'll be hearing this story not from some political person who might be assumed to have an axe to grind against the president but from a very close associate. This is going to be somebody who the president's attorneys will have a hard time undermining on cross-examination because she is literally a part of their team. So, this could be very impactful evidence at trial.

BLITZER: Very impactful, indeed. And, Paula, what are you learning about the new activity that we're noticing at the Miami grand jury that's ongoing right now, even though Trump was already indicted?

REID: That's right, Wolf. Our colleague, Katelyn Polantz, learned that that grand jury is active. They're still making inquiries of the witnesses, still gathering evidence. Now, it's not unheard of for a grand jury to continue investigating even after charges are brought.

We know from our own reporting that there were really significant lines of inquiry that did not show up in the indictment. For example, there were a lot of questions about whether there were gaps in surveillance footage, also a lot of questions about how records were stored at Bedminster. So, it is certainly possible that there could be additional charges in a superceding indictment.

BLITZER: Very significant, indeed. Kaitlan, how is the Trump team -- I know you're doing a lot of reporting on this -- actually thinking about the flurry of activity ongoing in the Miami grand jury right now and Susan Wiles meeting with these federal prosecutors?

COLLINS: It's not totally clear to me that Trump's team, Trump or his legal team, were still aware that there was continued activity in the Miami grand jury. Obviously, that could potential be of consequence. It could be nothing. We don't know that anyone else could get charged, but, certainly, it could mean that someone else could get charged here, which would be notable. Because the question is, is it someone who has already been charged, Trump and Walt Nauta, or someone else brought into this mix, and I think that's a big question.

But we've already seen the government has about 84 witnesses that they sent on that list to Trump's team that they say he cannot discuss this case with. Of course, there are many people on that list who were around him and work with him on a nearly daily basis.


But when it comes to the legal exposure here, I think that's obviously a real concern. nd, you know, one big focus of theirs has been on delaying this, and how long they can push it. Next week, Walt Nauta is going to go, of course, and be arraigned.

And so there certainly is concern, but I think they're waiting to see. Sometimes they're learning things on a basis that we are.

BLITZER: Andrew, does all of this heighten the possibility of even more criminal charges, perhaps in New Jersey?

MCCABE: It's certainly possible. I mean, I think it still remains a big question. And so you have these two incidents in which classified documents, national defense information were shared with people who were not authorized to receive it. Both of them take place at Bedminster, and yet Bedminster is somewhat notoriously the one location that the government has not searched.

So, I think there is kind of a lingering issue, this question about are there, in fact, any other classified or important documents at Bedminster? We know that the Trump team conducted their own search. We also know that the special counsel team ultimately identified the people who conducted that search and brought people for interviews. They may have testified. Who knows?

So, I think it's probably a concern on the part of the prosecutors, but I would expect that at this point, they don't believe they have enough current, recent probable cause to execute any sort of a search warrant there.

BLITZER: What do you think? REID: Well, we know that the former president's lawyers hired people to do a search in Bedminster. They said that they did not find any additional classified documents, but it's unclear if this investigation will eventually find its way up to New Jersey.

At this point, sources suggested to us that there is no grand jury in New Jersey. But, Wolf, if it's one thing we can say about the investigation, it has been full of surprises.

BLITZER: And I'm sure there will be a lot more. All right, thank you, Paula, thanks to everyone.

Kaitlan, by the way, this is important, will be back later tonight, 9:00 P.M. Eastern for CNN Primetime. We'll, of course, be watching, Kaitlan.

Coming up, CNN's exclusive reporting on a key Russian general not seen in public since the rebellion. What we're learning about his connections to the Wagner mercenary group behind the short-lived revolt.



BLITZER: More now on a CNN exclusive, documents shared with CNN's Matthew Chance suggest the top Russian general who hasn't been seen in public since the Wagner rebellion was in fact a secret VIP member of the mercenary group since 2018.

Let's get analysis right now from Jill Dougherty, she is a CNN contributor on Russian affairs, we're also joined by Evelyn Farkas, the executive director over at the McCain Institute, and former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia.

Jill, how significant is it that General Surovikin was in fact a secret member of this Wagner group? We know he has a long history with the Wagner leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, we don't really know exactly what that means. What is a secret VIP membership? He's probably not getting frequent flier points. You know, what does it exactly mean? But if it does mean that he was connected with Prigozhin, then you would have to say, what was the connection.

And I've talked with several people who really know how the Putin, you know, government and regime work, and they just said, they don't know but it probably boils down to money. Maybe Prigozhin was paying him to be part of this, but it really is like pulling one string, you know? You pull it, and things start to unravel, and we're finding out different ways people are connected and it usually goes back to money, power, et cetera.

BLITZER: Yes, good point. Evelyn, these documents shared with CNN also show a list of at least 30 Russian military and intelligence officials along with Surovikin. How does that reflect on Vladimir Putin?

EVELYN FARKAS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MCCAIN INSTITUTE: Well, I mean, it shows you that he's got some high level people there with divided loyalty in this current situation. You know, they're supposed to be loyal to Vladimir Putin until there was a break between Putin and Prigozhin and the Wagner group, obviously there was no problem.

BLITZER: Interesting. Jill, how might this fit into Putin's efforts to try to weed out disloyalty after that failed mutiny?

DAUGHERTY: Well, if there really are 30 other people involved, you can bet that he's looking around trying to figure out who he can trust at this point. And also they're beginning to kind of dismantle Wagner. You know, Wagner is very valuable because it's involved in Syria, in Africa, in money-making efforts in all of those countries, and, certainly, Putin wouldn't want to give that up. So, at this point, I think they have to figure out what to do with it in addition to what do they do with Prigozhin.

BLITZER: Good point. Evelyn, we've also learned that a social network under the umbrella of Prigozhin's sprawling companies is actually shutting down right now. Does that potentially signal what's to come for his business interests?

FARKAS: Yes. I mean, I think, Wolf, that Vladimir Putin is going to close down or transfer all of Prigozhin's businesses to the Russian government. You know, there is now no room for these competing actions in this competing center of operation.


And if I could say one other thing about the money, I think it is about money that all of these people part of the VIP network, whatever that means, I think that Jill has it right in terms of one big part of this has to be money. There's a lot of corruption in the Russian military system. We learned more than we actually thought earlier, and part of, I think, the way Prigozhin cultivated relationships and support was through money.

BLITZER: Evelyn Farkas and Jill Dougherty, guys, thank you very, very much.

Just ahead, the former school resource officer who failed to confront the parkland mass shooter is found not guilty on all counts. Stand by.


BLITZER: An emotional trail for the resource officer who stayed outside while a gunman slaughtered 17 people at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has come to an end, a Florida jury finding Scot Peterson not guilty today on all counts.


Let's get the latest from CNN's Carlos Suarez, who's live outside the courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, for us. Carlos, walk us through the verdict and the reaction inside the courtroom?

CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. It was an incredibly emotional day here in Fort Lauderdale. 60-year-old Scot Peterson cried in court as the families of some of the victims watched in disbelief as the verdict was read. Some of them were shaking their head no during the entire verdict.

Now, Peterson was charged with 11 counts, including seven counts of child neglect and three counts of culpable negligence for failing to stop the shooter inside the building where this happened back in 2018. The defense argued that Scot Peterson never went inside of this building because he never knew exactly where the sound of gunfire was coming from, and he didn't know exactly where the shooter was. Peterson took cover outside of the building where this happened for 45 minutes before the shooter was arrested.

Now, on the child neglect charges, the prosecution, the state, they had a difficult time proving that Peterson was a caregiver. That's a designation that's not typically afforded to law enforcement officers.

Now, the father of Joaquin Oliver, one of the victims of that massacre, he spoke to CNN after the verdict, he took a great amount exception with some of Peterson's actions inside and outside of the courtroom following the verdict. Here's what he told us.


MANUEL OLIVER, FATHER OF PARKLAND VICTIM JOAUQIN OLIVER: I think that the right thing to do, the manly thing to do, the honest thing to do is to walk out of that room quiet. Be quiet, Mr. Attorney and Scot Peterson. Keep your mouth shut. Get in your car and go to your perfect life. But don't cry in front of national T.V. asking for us to be ashamed and to be -- you know, to be concerned about your beautiful, perfect life. That's what I feel.


SUAREZ: Peterson said that everybody did the best they could on that day, and he was asked whether he would meet with any of the families. He said he would, but so far all of the family members that we talked to said they did not want to meet with Scot Peterson. Wolf?

BLITZER: CNN's Carlos Suarez in Fort Lauderdale for us, thank you very much.

Joining us now, Congressman Maxwell Frost, Democrat of Florida. Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.

I certainly want to discuss with you today's landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling, and we'll do that in a moment, but, first, as a former organizer for March for Our Lives and as a Floridian for that matter, what's your reaction to this verdict today?

REP. MAXWELL FROST (D-FL): You know, I wasn't following the case super closely, but what I just saw, what Manuel Oliver said, I think was very true. We had someone who took an oath and who had a job to protect the students of the school, someone who has stood outside of the school for 45 minutes while children were being slaughtered. It doesn't matter if you don't know where it's coming from. His job was to go in there and work to protect the students. And it's not just about his failure to stop the shooting, it's about the fact that he didn't even try.

And so when look at (INAUDIBLE) across the country, we have to ask ourselves, we need folks that are actually going to work at keeping our students safe. He did not even attempt to do that. And I think what Manuel Oliver is really said is really sticking home with me, the fact that he said he should have walked out quiet, and that's true.

I see this video about him crying, and I think about Manny, Patricia and all the parents who have to think about the fact that their child was mowed down at school by an assault weapon. Those are the families that should be crying, not someone who just got away with not doing his job.

BLITZER: Let's also turn, as I said, to the U.S. Supreme Court decision. You've called the ruling today striking down affirmative action, you said it's racist. What are your concerns, Congressman, about the impact it will have on students of color across the country?

FROST: I think this will have a large impact, Wolf. And, look, what this is about, affirmative action isn't about stopping or stifling opportunity for certain people. And it's all about looking at the admissions of our education system, higher ed, through the lens of the legacy and history of this country. And when you have an entire group of people that were enslaved, when you have entire groups of people that have been oppressed, education is about taking a step back and looking at things holistically.

And if education is truly the great equalizer as many of us believe, then we have to take extra steps to ensure that access to higher education is actually equitable. And it is not a far stretch to say that what happened to your grandparents and what happened to down your family line does impact your economic status and also your education and depending on where you live. And so it is a very racist decision.


The other thing I want to call attention to that I just found out a few hours ago is the fact that there is a carve-out in this decision. The carve-out is for military schools.

Yes, military schools are able to still use affirmative action to bring in students. And there's been a lot of complaints and research on the predatory practices of the military, really looking at specifically, Black and Brown and poor students and recruiting them. I think that also highlights how racist this decision really is.

BLITZER: Yeah, so the affirmative action will remain in effect at West Point, the U.S. Naval Academy, at the Air Force Academy. It remains in effect there, but not at universities and colleges across the country.

The Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas voted against affirmative action in this decision, even though he previously benefited from it. He wrote today and I'm quoting him now, he wrote: While I am painfully aware of the social and economic ravages which have befallen my race and those who suffer discrimination, I hold out enduring hope that this country will live up to its principles -- that all men are created equal, are equal citizens and must be treated equally before the law.

So, is that hope realistic? What do you -- what's your reaction to that, Congressman?

FROST: That hope is realistic, but to get there, we have to talk about this word, equity. And equity is when we weigh the history, when we weigh the current status of our people, and we help people and make sure we are on an equal playing field. And what this corrupt Supreme Court justice has done, and he is corrupt, and we see what's going on with the investigations into ethics of him, is something we are seeing across this country, from many right-wing leaders.

But they want to benefit from systems, and then they want to turn around and tossed the latter on the floor to make sure nobody else can get to where they are at, with the same systems that they've benefited from. And we have to continue to fight against that. This is why elections matter. This is why elections are so important. Because we need to elect working class people who understand that these systems, again, are not here to stifle anybody's opportunity, and here to help our country succeed to its promise.

And, Barbara Jordan, she said it right. What the people want is simple, a country as great as its promise. How dare Justice Clarence Thomas use that promise of that justice to take away something that has helped so many people, including himself?

BLITZER: Congressman Maxwell Frost, thanks very much for joining us.

And we'll have more news right after this.



BLITZER: Coming up on "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT", right at the top of the hour, Erin is live in Ukraine talking with the former vice president, the current Republican presidential candidate, Mike Pence, who made an unannounced trip to Kyiv today.



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: You mentioned Putin, and of course, you've met him. You dealt with him when you are vice president. Do you think he has full command of his military right now?

MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: I think it's an open question. It is. Now, the Wagner Group was a specialty group we have some familiarity with. We -- American forces encountered the Wagner Group in Syria back in 2018, when they moved against our forces and after being warned multiple times, the order was given, and we took them out without one American casualty.

But they are understood to be some of the most elite forces in Russia. Now they have been dispersed, they are being invited back into the military. But I did hear today, that they are decamping in Belarus along with their leader who is now in exile. And I --


BLITZER: More of Erin's interview with Mike Pence tonight on "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT". That's coming up right at the top of the hour.

We'll be right back.



BLITZER: In France tonight, another round of violent protests after the deadly police shooting of a teenage boy near Paris.

CNN's Melissa Bell has our report.


MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A night of flames. Cars, town halls, schools, set on fire across France.

As rage over the police shooting of a 17-year-old Nael continued into a second night.

Enough to force the French president to call an emergency ministerial meeting.

EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCE PRESIDENT (through translator): The last hours have been marked by violent scenes against police stations, but also schools and town halls, and basically against institutions and republics. It's absolutely unjustifiable.

BELL: The deployment of some 2000 police officers on Wednesday to the Paris suburbs, did little to quell the anger with 150 people detained. It's not the republic that was in custody, it was not the republic that killed this young man, pleaded the government spokesman this morning.

Another appeal in vain to calm the violence, as described some of the attacks on government institutions as organized, almost coordinated.

In response, a massive deployment of police forces on Thursday, some 40,000 across France, including 5,000 in Paris.

But even before nightfall, a protest led by Nael's mother, turned violent. Emotions still raw, even as the police officer accused of shooting the teen was placed under formal investigation for voluntary homicide. With questions on the racial undertones of the tragedy.

DANIELE OBONO, FRENCH PARLIAMENT: The dimension of race is pretty obvious. And yeah, I think the French society as a whole that as a lot of difficulties to address it because we are this methodology of a republic, kind of color blind republic.

BELL: Scuffles breaking out along the margins of the march, some 6,000 strong according to local media. Anger on the streets of France remains all too palpable, with the family grieving, and a community looking for answers, as Paris suburbs and much of the country prepare for another difficult night.


BELL (on camera): Wolf, it is because racism is so difficult to point one's finger at, to name, to quantify here in France, that it has been so difficult to fight. And that is really what's fueling the anger that you are seeing out there, at this stage. The question is whether this will be a repeat scenario of what we saw in 2005, when it had taken months in the wake of the deaths of two young men, as they fled a police check in a similar neighborhood to this one, a similar age to young Nael.

It took an entire summer to get through the rage that erupted in the streets of France. The question is tonight, whether the death of Will this mark the beginning of another summer of anger on the streets of France, Wolf?

BLITZER: Melissa Bell, thank you.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.