tv Don Lemon Tonight CNN July 5, 2021 10:00pm-11:00pm PDT
that's it for us. "don lemon tonight" with my sirius xm colleague, laura coates, starts right now. >> thanks, michael. nice to see you, as always. and this is a special-holiday edition of "don lemon tonight." i'm laura coates, in for don. and think about where we are, tonight. as we wind down a holiday weekend celebrating independence day, you know, just six months ago, tomorrow, violent insurrectionists tried to take over the united states capitol.
they tried to overturn the results of the election. they beat police, to within an inch of their lives. hunted for lawmakers and the then-vice president in the halls of congress. >> hang mike pence! hang mike pence! >> they put up a gallows, in front of the capitol. they marched with a confederate-battle flag. all of that, happened just six months ago, on one of the darkest days in this nation's history. and now, the big lie that fueled all of that is, still, poisoning america. and splitting the country in two. we saw it just this weekend, in philadelphia. hundreds of white nationalists marching in the streets, wearing tan pants, black shirts, and face coverings. chanting, the election was stolen. and, reclaim america. >> take the mask off. too scared.
>> shame! [ bleep ] shame on you [ bleep ]! [ bleep ] [ bleep ]. [ bleep ], [ bleep ]. >> too scared to take the mask off. >> police say they were members of a group called the patriot front. the southern poverty law center calls them a white-nationalist hate group. so, while a lot of us were watching parades and fireworks, white nationalists were marching, openly, in the streets of philadelphia. in an america, divided. a lot to discuss, tonight, with cnn senior political analyst, ron brownstein. ron, i am glad you are here but, wow, what a night and weekend it has within been. ron, we are finishing up fourth of july weekend. it's incredible after the year we have all had, the year and a half we have had, to be able to gather together safely. but we are also about six months out from the insurrection and clearly, the democracy is still in peril.
i mean, the divisions are still right there. >> that is as fraught a july 4th or 5th, i guess, by now, as the nation's had really since the civil war. i mean, we have questions about our fundamental cohesion as a country and the commitment to democracy. through both political parties. that we really haven't asked in a very -- probably, since the civil war. i mean, six months after the insurrection, you have a republican leadership that is working as hard as it can to block any, serious inquiry into what actually happened. trump's role in fueling it over months of the big lie. and at the same time, laura, that big lie, about the election, is fueling what is the most broad attempt to roll back americans' voting rights, probably, since the 1890s and the 19 -- early 1900s at the -- at the end of reconstruction. so all of this is not really just a question of litigating what happened in the past. it is having an impact, today
and tomorrow. and don't forget, donald trump may seek to regain the powers that he had in three years. and yet, there's so much we don't know about how he used and abused them, while he was in office. >> and even if he doesn't, himself, there are others who are trying to take roles of elected official. i mean, check this out from "the washington post", ron. it says looking ahead to 2022, republican candidates are actually centering their pitches around trump's false-election claims. they say, of the 700 republicans who have filed initial paperwork with the federal election commission to run why next year for the senate or even the house, apparently, a third of them -- a third of 'em -- embrace trump's election lie. i mean, that's extraordinarily dangerous to a democracy, isn't it? >> and also, 75% of republican voters say they believe the lie. look. i believe the macro trend that we are watching is that the fear of demographic eclipse is eroding the commitment to democracy, in a significant
portion of the republican coalition. not -- not only reflected in the share that says they believe that the election was stolen. or in the actions that we are seeing in these red states, not only to make it harder to vote but to, also, make it easier for political appointees to try to overrule election administrators in 2022 and '24. but look, there is polling showing that a majority of republican voters now say the american way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use a force to save it. and i think, laura, the big question is, you know, there is roughly somewhere between a quarter and a third of the republican voters, who are deeply uneasy with this trend in the party. who don't like the way trump behaved after the election. who don't like the way others went along with trying to subvert the -- the result. the question is what do they do? do they remain in a party where they are, clearly, now, the subordinate wing? as evidenced by kevin mccarthy disciplining liz cheney before he does marjorie taylor greene. or do they begin to drift away until the party draws a brighter
line between the mainstream and extremist elements that trump gave so much oxygen to? >> they also add this. your point about the demographic eclipse and other notions you are talking about. they say similarly, of the nearly 600 state lawmakers who publicly embraced trump's false claims, about 500 face re-election this year or next. most of them signed legal briefs on resolutions challenging biden's victory. and at least 16 of them attended the january-6th protest in washington. i mean, ron, what does this tell you about just how pervasive the big lie is? it really is knocking on the door of the american electorate for, perhaps, terms to come? >> yeah. what it tells you, laura, is that we are just at break in the battle. i mean, it's not as if the threat to american democracy disappeared when trump left office. the reality is, as i said, there is now a substantial corps of the republican coalition, whose commitment to basic-democratic principles is eroding. and that is an ongoing
challenge. we saw, from the supreme court last week, that it is highly unlikely to do anything. the -- the six republican appointees on the court. to restrain what republicans in the states are doing to make it tougher to vote. democrats in those red states don't have the votes to stop what's -- what's advancing. through those legislatures. the only lever democrats have to try to shore up the democracy, between now and 2022 and '24 is their ability to pass national legislation. both, setting a floor, nationwide floor of voting rights. but also, safeguarding election administrators. they have the votes to do that in the house. they probably have 50 -- they probably have a plan that 50 democrats can agree on in the senate. and the core question, which i think the -- the supreme court stripped away any fig leaf from is will joe manchin and kyrsten sinema agree to end the filibuster to allow it to pass? right now, they are prioritizing protecting minority input in the senate, over minority rights in the country and we will see if that's a sustainable position all the way now through 2022.
>> ron brownstein, i heard the word, probably, and thought that should never be in the same sentence as rights and voting rights. probably getting to have them or not. thank you for your time. nice talking to you. unfortunately, about this. you know, the fourth of july, this weekend, we also saw a white-nationalist group march through the streets of philadelphia. the -- the noted birthplace of america, and they were chanting the election was stolen. i want to talk about this, now, with cnn senior law enforcement analyst, andrew mccabe. a former-fbi deputy director. he is also the author of "the threat: how the fbi protects america in the age of terror and trump." andrew, i feel like this is déàa vu, in the worst kind of way. to see white nationalists marching through the streets in america, yet again, in a very short amount of time since the last time we have seen this. and i want to ask you, you are looking right now, at the footage. hundreds of members of a white-nationalist group called the patriot front are marching and they are chanting the
election was stolen. and reclaim america. now, when you see this, on july 4th weekend, andrew, in the birthplace of our country. i got to know, what goes through your mind? >> well, laura, so many things. right? i mean, just -- there is just the raw offense of watching this on july 4th. on independence day. in the cradle of democracy. it's -- it's just stunning. but we have to step back from that, and really get down into the weeds to understand how significant this is, as a sign of where we are with extremist movements around the country. the patriot front is a group, we all know well from charlottesville. they started out as vanguard america. and then, they -- in the aftermath of the -- the mess, the disaster at charlottesville, they re-branded themselves as a patriot front. they have now been engaged mostly in protest activity and distributing leaflets and things of that nature. so we don't have any, specific acts of violence that i am aware of to attribute to them. but this is a very, very bold
move. to put on a show like that, in philadelphia, on independence day. um, and it's interesting, to me, too, that they have tied their actions here to the big lie. to the claims of a stolen election. it shows you how powerful that lie is. as an inspirational and motivational element to these extremist groups. where it goes from here, is the question that we should all be asking. >> and, of course, they are also echoing statements of the former president, that he is continuing to make about an election being stolen. and about the idea of reclaiming america, so to speak. and -- and the insurrection, just six months ago. i mean, we continue to learn a lot about the role of the far-right group, proud boys, that were there. i mean, you were talking about patriot front and the idea of re-branding. are groups like this growing? or are we seeing the same groups that are having this similar re-branding and coming out in different ways to articulate different concerns and grievances that are pretextual.
>> i think there's no question, we are seeing an elevated level of activity among these sorts of groups. so among your racially-motivated extremists, your white supremacists, your -- you know, your -- your militia groups, separatist groups. are -- are clearly more active, now, than they were five years ago, ten years ago, certainly. you have to attribute some of that to the national spotlight that they have taken for themselves from things, like the january-6th rally. and -- or riot, excuse me -- and prior to that, the acknowledgment and, kind of, implicit, you know, thumbs up that they have been given by our former president. those sorts of signals are very powerful to these groups. it gives them the validation they need. it gives them the confidence they're looking for to go out and continue taking bolder and more aggressive moves. i think that's what we are seeing around the country now. >> look to what the doj is going to try to do. we have heard from attorney general merrick garland on this issue.
have to have you back on to talk about that. thank you, andrew mccabe, i appreciate hearing from you and your insight. now, i want to bring in -- i want to bring in cnn political commentators bakari sellers and scott jennings. i am so glad to have both of you on, tonight. let me start with you, bakari. look. i mean, white nationalists are chanting the election was stolen. homeland security officials are now warning of more violence, this summer, because right-wing conspiracy mongers seem to think that trump will be reinstated in august. trump is, still, pushing the big lie. i mean, the insurrection may have been six months ago but this threat is not going anywhere, is it, bakari? >> it's not. but i, also, think that we have to regroup. and understand that this started way before donald trump. like, donald trump is not the root cause of this. he -- he's a symptom. he is emblematic of it. but if we go back to 2008 with the election of barack obama and creation of the tea party in 2010. you began to see this rising.
you began to see this bubbling up and it was going unchecked. even in 2015. we are six years away from just a few -- a few weeks ago, when we remembered the -- the victims of the charleston massacre. when dylan ruth went in and murdered nine black folk on a wednesday night in bible study in church. and so, this has been bubbling up. donald trump is not the cause of this. but he definitely has added gasoline to the fire. and the biggest problem that -- that we have in this country is that the republican party cannot win, without the xenophobes, the racists, the anti-semites. and so they are having a great deal of difficulty pushing back on this and bringing our country together because they can't do without them. >> scott, i know you have response to that. and also, can the gop, can they extinguish what bakari is talking about? he didn't start the fire. but do they have the tools to actually extinguish the flames? >> well, i think that if the republican party wants to win a national election, it's going to
have to put some of these people in their place. these white nationalists, the folks that you showed video of earlier and that we've seen in charlottesville and other places. they have to be repudiated, not just by republicans but by all americans, from all wings of the political spectrum. but the republican party cannot, should not, will not, exist if it wants to be aligned with groups like this. now, fortunately, i think there are a lot of republican leaders out there, at the grassroots level and at the national level, that have no interest in these groups and no interest, whatsoever, in being aligned with them. and -- and -- and i hope that we see that manifest itself over the next few years. i think this issue of the election, january 6th, and the idea that the election was stolen is going to come to a head, not in '22 but in 2024. eventually, there will be a republican nominee and if it's not donald trump, that person is going to have to look into a tv camera and say, i accept the results of the last election. if they're not willing do that, they are highly likely to lose the next election because the american people won't trust them with the highest office in the
land if they can't be trusted with the basic fact like that. >> let me start -- keep with you for a second, scott, on this point. i will come back to you, bakari. because the author of "hill billy elegy." running for senate in ohio. he went on fox today to say he regrets since-deleted tweets from 2016 calling donald trump reprehensible. i mean, aside from the idea of the disassociation, is this the price of admission for republicans who are running in 2022 or going 2024? is it really about kissing the rain or nothing else? -- the ring. >> well, just, all political strategy, yes. i mean, it's very difficult to imagine someone running as an anti-trump candidate in a big-senate primary getting a nomination. especially, in a state like ohio where that primary's taking place. where you have a number of -- of very good candidates and highly-qualified people who are running aggressive races. so, i think you are going to see republicans around the country say things like what jd said today, which is i regret what i said. he was a good president.
he made some good decisions. they may wind up criticizing him here and there but largely, yeah, raw strategy. these republicans are going to have to adhere to some kind of complementary relationship with donald trump. this might help them in '22. i think republicans may actually have a good midterm. i question whether this will help us in '24 but we have got a midterm to get through, before that comes around. >> i mean, bakari, something about democracy should make the -- the idea of kissing a ring distasteful to people. i mean, it really should. and also, "the washington post" is reporting that, in almost-every swing state, someone is running for secretary of state, who has been pushing the big lie. or even -- even was at the insurrection. i mean, our democracy survived the 2020 election because of state officials, who do value the rule of law. but what happens when those people are gone? and as scott is talking about, the idea of having to accommodate or have this complementary relationship? what are your thoughts, bakari? >> so, yeah. i think as much as i want to
blame the republican party for, as ron brownstein, so articulately, put it, go through state legislature, after state legislature and implement these -- these voting-rights laws. that are just utterly regressive. the fact remains that the democratic party, for a long period of time, we just simply did not take the court seriously. we did not take voting rights seriously. and the -- the -- we have kyrsten sinema and joe manchin, not abolish the filibuster for the simple fact to actually make sure and preserve democracy, in this country. i mean, that -- my good friend, scott jennings, will tell you that mitch mcconnell, who -- who scott knows really well was unashamed to get rid of the filibuster to get a supreme court justice. he was unashamed to get rid of the filibuster for things he thought were necessary to moving this country forward. i may disagree with those things but i have to applaud the fact that he was -- you know, he -- he actually had the courage enough to abolish the filibuster. right now, democrats don't have that courage.
laura, when it comes to something that you have been beating the drum on all night, which is democracy. and that's a shame. until kyrsten sinema and joe manchin get the courage to believe in democracy, it may just go down the toilet. >> scott, bakari, thank you. something tells me, scott, you are not going to disagree with democrats dropping the ball so i will just leave it right there for a second. something tells me that you are in agreement there so we'll leave it. gentlemen, thank you. nice seeing you, both. next, the latest on the search-and-rescue mission in the condo collapse in surfside, florida. the death toll rising to 28, today. but 117 people are, still, unaccounted for. all that, with a tropical storm taking aim at florida. >> they are diving in. there's maximum effort being applied, and it's going to go on 24 hours a day, seven days a week, until we pull everybody out of that pile. scientific clean here.
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the way for search-and-rescue teams to broaden their efforts, officials say, and continue their work safely. >> the search-and-rescue team has been able to search all sections of the grid on the collapse, following the building demolition. now that the entire area is safe to search. >> reporter: the potential threat of tropical storm elsa, also, impacted the decision-making. >> the worst thing that could have happened was to have a storm come in, and blow that building down on top of the pile. >> reporter: the rescue teams halted their work temporarily but resumed just over an hour after the demolition began. today, workers hoping to access voids in the rubble that they couldn't, before the remaining tower was brought down. >> the activity on that site, which i just came from a few minutes ago, is more active and greater than i've ever seen since the beginning of this crisis. >> reporter: this, as new condo documents obtained by cnn show that a presentation was prepared for residents, last fall and winter, on quote why we have to do all this now.
the garage lacked waterproofing and, quote, water has gotten underneath and caused additional damage to the concrete. over the weekend, in miami beach, two different nearby condominiums were evacuated in an abundance of caution. one, just miles north of champlain towers, due to reported-unsafe structural and electrical conditions. then, firefighters ordered residents to evacuate a low-rise condominium complex after a building inspector flagged a floor-system failure in a vacant unit and damage to an exterior wall according to a city spokesperson. officials say the priority right now is search and rescue of victims. but investigators continue to search for answers. >> if we find out that this was entirely avoidable, which, you know, because of -- of action or inaction, you know, it's -- it's -- it -- it still is obviously a tragedy but it makes it just so much more acute and some so important for us to act. >> for some, the demolition of the remaining tower was emotional.
yet, it allowed others to, finally, make their first visit to the site of the tragedy. >> i wasn't able to come, earlier, because the side of the building still affected me, greatly. and today, because the building came down, i think i managed to make it all the way up to the memorial site. >> that was leyla santiago in surfside, florida. thank you, leyla. you've heard about free britney. but there's more to it than you know. ronan farrow is speaking out to all insiders getting the real story of the nightmare conservatorship that she's been in for over a decade. he tells us all about it. that's next. this may look like a regular movie night. but if you're a kid with diabetes, it's more. it's the simple act of enjoying time with friends, knowing you understand your glucose levels. ♪
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another court hearing set for next week in the case of britney spears. who is asking a judge to terminate the court-ordered conservatorship that she's been living under for nearly-13 years. the pop star says she has no control over her personal life, or the tens of millions she's earned as a performer. spears telling a judge, just last month, it's an abusive situation. joining me now to discuss, journalist ronan farrow, who has a major article on britney spears in the current issue of the new yorker. ronan, i am so glad you are here to help us walk through this entire story. thank you. ronan, i mean, this is a bombshell piece you have. i mean, you report that the evening before that shocking testimony that we, all, heard. britney spears actually called 9-1-1 to report herself as a victim of conservatorship abuse. i mean, what can you tell us about this call? and how the attorneys for it are
reacting? >> that's right. and subsequent to the publication of this piece over the holiday weekend, we have had other outlets not only confirm that that call took police but also that law enforcement was dispatched to britney spears' home in ventura county, california. so this is the latest symptom of a long history we are able to document in this story, which, with a lot of new perspectives, we haven't heard before. a lot of new documents and other pieces of evidence. pieces together how britney spears has been distraught about the extent to which her rights are being curtailed for a long time. how britney spears has sought, actively, and seemingly, capably, to get outside-legal representation. to break free of these constraints. at this point, for years and years. and that 9-1-1 call and then, the dramatic testimony she gave in court the day after, explaining all of this to the public, was just the latest salvo in something that it turns out had been a long time coming. >> what was on the 9-1-1 call? do you know what she said? what was she arguing? was it similar to what she said in court the next day?
>> we don't because typically, 9-1-1 calls are a matter of public record in california. but law enforcement there has filed for an exemption saying they're going to withhold and seal those records, on the basis of an ongoing investigation. but what we do know is, as you point out, what she said the next day. and in court, she objected to lawyers who said we want to seal the records and clear the courtroom if sensitive-medical information comes up or information about her family. she said, no, i want to be heard. and then, she spoke for more than 20 minutes, very lucidly. you know, clearly, a person in distress. she acknowledged herself, you know, i need some therapy. i have some mental-health issues seemed to be the implication. but she said, loud and clear, and furiously, that she had been, in her words, enslaved. >> i mean, ronan, you detail in this really extensive report, all the ways in which spears was actually trying to push back against her conservatorship or at least try to in some meaningful way to reach out.
she was told she didn't have the capacity to retain an attorney. she tried to get a handwritten note or letter of what was happening to her to be read on tv. someone to give her a cell phone secretly to call a lawyer. it then got confiscated. it's unbelievable this is actually happening. it's really stunning. >> it's a wild saga of a woman who, clearly, is bent on asserting rights for herself that most of us take for granted. and she hasn't been able to do that for all these years and as you say, she tries through all of these different, really elaborate capers. you know, she meets a contact in a steam room at a hotel where she sneaks away from her guards and gets a cell phone delivered to her in a ziplock bag. and she's thwarted, every time. you know, her communications appear to be monitored. many sources around her told us that. people who try to help are intercepted quickly and sort of exiled. and i want to pause on this point for a moment because you -- you have come upon something important in the story.
which is, we talked to expert, after expert, on disability rights and the laws around this. who said, look, if you murder someone, you still have right to your own counsel. to a fair argument in your favor in court. britney spears and thousands of other people in conservatorships and guardianships, many of which are very valid arrangements for people with serious disabilities. are not often able to get their own counsel. because once you have a record in court of being seriously-mentally compromised, in one way or another, you can land in a situation where anything you say is regarded, essentially, as being crazy. so, this is a very dangerous situation that's very ripe for abuse in the eyes of a whole lot of disability-rights activists and experts. >> and, ronan, one person that stuck in my mind is jacqueline butcher, who really talks about the testimony. she actually helped create it i guess. but now, she regrets it. what do we know? i mean, it was a very short hearing, in and of itself, right? >> jacqueline butcher is one of the dozens of sources that we talked to around the creation of
the conservatorship. and she's striking because her testimony, as you point out, was foundational to many of the legal documents around that moment when the conservatorship went into place. and she was one of the few people who was in the courtroom, as this was created. and saw the saga that led up to its creation. so, she really provides a window into a family that, yes, had, i think, some sincere intentions and that are about britney spears' best interests and some concern for her wellbeing. but also, a family that was divided by fame and money. and financial dependency on britney spears. and that really sort of set a trap, in a lot of ways, was the feeling of a lot of sources around this, that britney spears walked into. and what jacqueline butcher, specifically, says is, you know, this was a well-laid plan. they went into court. they were there for ten minutes. there was no testimony. there were no questions asked. the judge, in her article, you know, of course, we reached out for comment, disputes that characterization. but we have, now, heard from
others involved in the process that this happened very quickly. and a lot of sources near it say, without adequate consultation with or assessment of spears, herself. >> ronan, the next hearing is july 14th. we will watch it very closely. thank you for your reporting on this. it's almost unbelievable. thank you, ronan. >> thank you. well, she tested positive for marijuana. and now, sha'carri richardson won't be running her signature race at the olympics. seems, the rules apply for her but not necessarily for everyone here, in america. i'll make my case, next. you need an ecolab scientific clean here. and here. which is why the scientific expertise that helps operating rooms stay clean now helps the places you go too. look for the ecolab science certified seal. from a pioneer in photographic film to a master of the digital age, we're always searching for new ways to imagine, create and capture your world. but why stop there?
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i'm you. i just happen to run a little faster. >> that was track star sha'carri richardson apologizing after being suspended from the u.s. olympic team following a positive test for marijuana. now, richardson is unable to represent the united states in the upcoming-summer olympics in her signature event, the 100-meter dash. her 30-day suspension may be up, in time to run in a relay. president biden reacting to her suspension, said this. >> the rules are the rules. and everybody knows what the rules were, going in. whether they should remain -- that should remain the rule is a different issue. but the rules are rules and i was really proud of her. the way she responded. >> the president says it. the rules should be the rules. but this country hasn't always done enough to live up to that, in recent years. there should be one set of rules for everybody.
i mean, it's fairness 101 and america has always been fair. that was hard to say, with a straight face. but i did try. because even a cursory review of our history tells you why. even a glance at the present illustrates the point. for sha'carri richardson, marijuana may be against sporting rules but its consumption is legal, in several states across the country. including oregon, where she says she used marijuana. oh, and even conservative supreme-court justice clarence thomas has recently argued for the need for one rule on the issue. not a patchwork of laws that punish some and excuse others. but beyond that, america isn't always consistent about its rules. we have a rule of no taxation, without representation. well, ask the residents of washington, d.c., vying for statehood, how that rule's working out for them.
and speaking of taxes, we have a rule that we have got to pay 'em. well, ask the have-nots about why they must pay taxes, while the so-called haves try to avoid them by calling them fringe benefits. the trump organization. the former president's company and its cfo facing 15 felony counts for a tax-avoidance scheme. we have a rule that no one should abridge your right to vote, on the basis of race. ask attorney general merrick garland about the lawsuit the department of justice has just filed against the state of georgia over their restrictive-voting laws. and democracy, itself, has been the rule of thumb here, in america. i mean, since its inception, the world has watched the united states to see if democracy could really work. and then, on january 6th, the world watched what it could look
like, if democracy failed. and here we are. each day, an opportunity to show the world whether america will follow its own rules. and not just every-four years for an olympics or a presidential election. but every time, we have a chance to pursue equity. so, we don't keep finding ourselves, first, out of the starting block on the issue. only to cross the finish line last. all, because we knew the rules and chose not to follow them. up next, did trump basically admit to everything prosecutors are alleging about his company? well, we're going to play back the tape. and let you decide. ar insurance so you only pay for what you need. how much money can liberty mutual save you? one! two! three! four! five!
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former-president trump appearing to acknowledge the facts in the case against the trump organization. trump addressing the charges, at his rally in florida, just this weekend. while mocking new york prosecutors, that is. >> murder's okay. human trafficking, no problem. but fringe benefits. you can't do that. every abuse -- and by the way, every company and every -- who the hell did -- people don't even know. they don't even know. >> joining me now, investigative reporter for d.c. report, david cay johnston. david, glad to see you here. you got a great piece out about these issues and more. you saw it here. trump is appearing to be admitting to things that his company is accused of and he is
trying to make the case that, look, rules shouldn't apply to the trump organization because, well, everyone does it. so, if this were anyone else, how would this be dealt with? >> oh, it'd be dealt with a felony prosecution. allen weisselberg got $1.7 million of compensation, that he hid with, i'm sure, donald trump's connivence, from the state, the city, and the federal-tax authorities. the typical-american worker will put in 33 years to make $1.7 million. i suspect, a lot of people have been taking taxes on their typical income for the last 33 years would not be happy about this. but donald's position is that he's special. and my piece is about a man, a hungry, homeless man, who stole a slice of pizza from some children. and a nonviolent crime. 25 to life. and other people, who have gotten life sentences or
virtual-life sentences for incredibly petty crimes, stealing $9, in one case. >> you know, it just makes it all the more real, to think about that notion of just the comparison he was trying to make. and so be it, and this is what you do. and why, on earth, would we have these laws when we do have those laws? i mean, listen to what trump said, by the way, about taxes back in 2016. >> i know more about tax abatements. i know more about taxes than any human being that god ever created. >> but i mean, yet, this weekend, as you know, he was suggesting that no one understands these corporate-tax rules. so, i mean, what's the game he's playing here? >> well, donald is always inflating what he knows, when he thinks there are rooms who will buy it. but he is also here creating an atmosphere, in which he can say, gee, um, i'm not a cpa. allen weisselberg, my cfo, he must have done all of this. i just followed whatever advice he gave because i don't know
anything about this. even though he claims, as you just aired, to be the greatest expert on taxes in the history of the world. >> you know, it seems like a 10-foot pole is extending, all of a sudden, doesn't it? the idea that this was not me, this was you. and we are seeing that play out there but i want to go back to the point that you raise because it bears repeating. you you know, there ever been americans, and you pointed out in your piece, there have been americans who ever been sentenced to, literally, decadenessdecades in prison for things like stealing a slice of pizza. so why on earth do you think trump wants the common person, the average person, just look the other way for corporate theft? i mean, there can't be these two different systems of justice. one for the haves, and ones for the have-nots, right? >> well, in fact, his audience, in sarasota, did not cheer and applaud when he said this. it fell kind of flat on those folks. now, he does have a point that we don't prosecute lots of people. the irs referred for prosecution
fewer than 500 people last year in a country with 330 million people. but the very things that are going on here. calculated years of hiding compensation. keeping two sets of books. that's standard prosecution for what is called legal source crimes, that is not drug money or gambling money but from a legitimate business. so there's nothing unusual about the charges, per se. so, what else is donald going to say except, oh, they're being unfair to me? they're being unfair, again. >> well, he kind of goes beyond that. he is out there, you know, he's known to stay the quiet part, out loud. but if you are a defense attorney, you never want your client speaking. let alone, when there have been indictments or felony offenses. here you are and his son has gone on air, too. eric trump. talking about these very things. i mean, wouldn't it have just been better to, given that it did fall flat among this notion of everyone having the same
problem and why -- why me? isn't it better to have not said anything at all? or is this play right politically for him? >> well, nobody controls donald. he never listens to advice on things like this. my law students at syracuse university are going to have some very interesting discuss discussions about, you know, what do you do when you have a client you can't control? and a lot of lawyers would simply say i'm not taking you on. but -- and we'll see who donald, eventually, gets to represent him when he is charged because this is not the last indictment. this is the first indictment from the manhattan grand jury. >> now, you say that. and you wrote that in your piece, that we should be expecting more indictments maybe involving the trump organization. do you think that, eventually, this will actually ensnare trump, himself? or someone with the same last night? because right now, as you know, weisselberg, the highest-level employee at trump organization without the name trump, who might be next in your mind? >> well, it would be very easy to bring a charge against donald
if allen weisselberg turns state's evidence. none of the charges in this indictment mandate prison time. he could get 15 years. but given his age and he is a first aoffender, he is likely t get probation. that's not going to motivate him to flip but the indictment contains hence that other people might be indicted and i would think the likely people, as i read the indictment, include his son barry. eric and don jr. and possibly, ivanka. and other people, whose names are -- are not household names. clearly, this was designed to focus allen weisselberg's attention. and i believe, eventually, laura, and since i first said this about a year ago, a number of prosecutors have agreed with me. that the ultimate indictment here is likely to be a new york state racketeering-enterprise charge. article 460 of the new york state penal code. >> unpack that for people, what racketeering is. >> racketeering is running what appears to be a legitimate
business, that's really a criminal organization. whose primary purpose is breaking the law. and while we think of this in terms of mafia, it applies absolutely equally to people who cheat on taxes, who cheat insurance companies, banks, file phony-business records, which, in new york, is a crime that can get you 25 years in atica. >> well, if that's ahead, that's quite an impressive level of crimes to actually charge and perhaps lean on someone to do the flipping. we will see what happens, though. thank you so much. nice talking to you, david. i appreciate your time. and thank you to all of you out there. thank you for watching. our coverage continues.
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