tv Don Lemon Tonight CNN February 19, 2022 12:00am-1:00am PST
the country. questions about policing and disturbing police tactics and the impact of race on all of this. it is quickly becoming one of the major domestic political issues. and stories we have been following closely here on "don lemon tonight," could not make this anymore clear. take the sentencing today of ex-minneapolis police officer kim potter shedding tears while apologizing to wright's family but sentenced to only two years in prison, significantly less than the seven years prosecutors requested. for manslaughter. the judge appearing to sympathize with potter. >> officer potter made a mistake that ended tragically. she never intended to hurt anyone. her conduct cries out for a sentence significantly below the guidelines.
>> daunte wright's family and his mother outraged. >> this isn't okay. this is the problem with our justice system today. white women tears trumps -- trumps justice. >> and what about that viral video? two teens, one black, one white, fighting in a new jersey mall. but two police officers breaking it up, pinning the black teen to the floor and handcuffing him while directing the white teen to sit on a couch. again, sparking outrage. and then there's the federal hate crime trial of three white men, georgia men convicted of murdering black jogger ahmaud arbery. another day of witness testimony. another day of hearing people recount the racist things that these men have said. today a former coast guard colleague of travis mcmichael, a white woman testifying he called her a racist slur for dating a black man. and there's more, closing arguments are set for monday.
so let's get to the conversation now starting with the cnn legal analyst lonny coombs and paneal joseph. a professor of public affairs of history at the university of texas. lonny, i'm going to start with you. let's start with kim potter's sentencing. two years for the shooter of daunte wright. this is a case where she thought she was using her taser but drew her actual gun. the sentence is well below the guidelines. his brother called it a slap in the face. is this sentencing too light? >> don, i think it is. i do. and let's look at the positives. they did charge kim potter with a manslaughter charge, which in the past police officers could get away with not being charged especially when they're pleading accident, she was saying taser, taser, she was crying and there was a lot of sympathy for her. so she was charged and the jury came back and charged her with first and second degree manslaughter.
12 people agree she should be held responsible. when the sentencing the maximum is 15 years, that's what the family wanted. the prosecutors were asking for the presumptive range right in the middle 7 years plus a few months, and the defense was asking for probation. the problem was the judge was so emotional in that sentencing, and it was hard to watch because the family had just talked about their pain and agony of losing their son, and the judge then praised the killer of their son and asked them to even empathize with her. and then she gave these factors for deviating so down to just two years. and the reasons themselves didn't make sense. the fact she didn't intend to kill, she wasn't charged with intending to kill. she was charged with manslaughter. so she shouldn't have gotten a pass for that. so i understand the family's outrage and frustration with it. i was frustrated with the downward departure so far and the way that the judge handled the sentencing.
but i agree with the attorney general we have to accept it and look for the positives that the case is moving forward, but the sentencing wasn't really the carriage of justice that the family was hoping for. because we're talking about a life here. right, when the mother said in the sentencing what is my son's life worse. -- worth. and then she's told it's worth two years. that's really hard for any mother to accept. >> puneal, we've talked a lot about the conviction of derek chauvin for the murder of george floyd. and now we have the potter sentence. are we seeing the accountability that these injustices deserve? >> no, i don't believe we're seeing the accountability. i think the positive here is that they were tried -- these cases have been tried in the first place. i agree with what's been previously said. that was increasingly rare before 2020, but i think the wider context here, don, is we need less punishment and more investment.
so when we think about this notion of abolishing prisons and abolishing punishment i think the compassion the judge displayed -- if the entire criminal justice system could display that kind of radical empathy and compassion, we would all be better off. that means the congress would have passed the george floyd justice and policing act. and even this law and order and this sort of crime wave we're talking about nationally, that too often evokes the 1960s, the law and order campaign of richard nixon or the drug war by reagan and clinton in the '80s and '90s where we're talking about being punitive and punishing and putting people away. we need less punishment and more justice. and more resources for people nationally. that's the lesson of george floyd and breonna taylor. i think the reason why the family is so outraged is this sort of compartmentalized
compassion where we only show compassion towards whites who have been convicted of these crimes even if they're unintentional, right? but we're not showing compassion for briana taylor's family, daunte wright's family. we're not showing compassion for all these victims. so i think until we can create a system that has radical compassion and empathy for all people, right, we're going to be stuck in this cycle of recrimination and violence. and this feedback loop are we talk about race and crime nationally, don, the big elephant in the room is that we are mainly talking about black people. sometimes brown people and immigrants and undocumented. but when people say there's a crime wave all the footage they show is black people shoplifting or committing violent crime that go viral especially on conservative networks and news channels and social media.
>> yeah. lonni, listen, and something else that went viral there's so much outrage over the video of a black teenager pinned down and arrested by police over a fight in the mall. the white teenager was told to sit on the couch. the story just another reminder there are biases in the policing system. and these biases play out every single day. >> they do, don. i look at this video and i see it's a litmus test for implicit bias. there's these tests you can do to see where you have implicit bias where you're givingen scenarios and they change the race or the gender and you're tested to see what your immediate response is. and here in this case you have the officers coming and seeing two young men involved in the same behavior, one is a black teenager and one is a white teenager. and the way the officers respond to the black teenager. is so different. it's immediately just their immediate response. we've been talking about bias for years now and there's been
talk about training, but it's very clear from this video it needs to go further. it needs to be in the performance. i think that's why this video is so important because people can see it in action here. it just happened so blatantly that you can't deny it. >> peneal, you say there's a one size fits all in criminal justice system. explain how it works and how it targets black people. >> we have a system of mass incarceration, and don, it goes back 150 years after racial slavery convict systems were the case after civil war, equality of life crimes. black men and women who were not employed could actually be charged and placed in prisons and leased out to private companies to work in coal mines and turpentine mines. and that's continued into the 20th century. the criminal justice system disproportionately targets.
it stocks, surveils, constrains and punishes black children from 5 and 6 all the way up into adulthood. we see it criminalizes young people, pre-teens. it criminalizes young girls and boys. and we see them as a danger from the time they're in elementary school. so it's no -- it's no wonder we have this public school to juvenile incarceration to adult incarceration pipeline in the united states. and then we have 4.5 million people disproportionately black and brown on probation and parole. and when they're on probation or parole, don, they have disproportionately less access to getting a job, to getting housing, getting education. so it's a really vicious feedback. so my argument is we need less punishment and more investment. what we don't want right now,
when we see these viral videos we have to reimagine policing in the united states. we have to reimagine public safety from stem to root if we really want the same kind of compassion that that judge showed today. that compassion can be a model if that compassion is shown to everyone, to the black teenager who's done a mistake. none of us are the worst mistake we've ever committed, and that's what that judge was saying. but too often when it comes to black people and black lives people do not show that kind of radical compassion in every part of the system. so we need to reimagine policing and reimagine public safety in this country. >> thank you very much. i appreciate it so much. now let's dive into the politics of all with "the new york times" national political reporter steph herden. new reporting out today and the headline is they wanted to roll back on tough on crime policies then violent crime surged.
thank you for writing this. thank you for appearing. we're talking about the cases that really galvanized a lot of the black lives matter and police reform movement. your movement finds leaders are actually facing a backlash because of the rise in crime. >> our reporting shows they're dealing with the facts of rising crime and the surge of violent crime in a number of cities. you know, these are progressive prosecutors in a lot of these major cities that were kind of the embodiment of that argument to reimagine policing. they've been pushing unt the elimination of cash bail, to lower sentences, moving away from that punishment model. as we've seen in recent months and years there's been a political backlash against them. somewhat because of the crime surge but also the mid-term politics of it all. democratic party not thinking about the same type of voters it was thinking in the presidential election as the midterm elections.
so some of those alliances that were true for some of these progressive prosecutors over the last four years are becoming more strained. >> what's a political calculus for all these new progressive leaders facing crimes in their cities. the policies they want to enact are not in place yet, and it would take months if not years to change any of that. but progressives are being blamed for this right now in the moment. is it a confluence of incidents, or is it just -- is it a part of it because they're being more lax. >> we should be clear there's not a causal relationship or evidence that these progressive causes have caused a surge in crime. violent crime has surged in a lot of cities that don't have progressive prosecutors. we know the calls to defund police were not heeded in most cities. and those are still seeing that surge and rise in crime. it's politics here. not only are folks seeing the kind of wave and wedge and blame
progressive prosecutor, but they're also seeing a weigh to hem in the democratic party. but also have a democratic party who is seeing president biden, embracing folks like mayor adams and leading more on tat hard on crime, tough on crime language than they were three, four years ago. >> we talk about economies and politicians. >> people feel how they feel about it. is that the same with crime? people feel how they feel about it? >> i think it's important to know this is nuanced. particularly when we look at polling and data among if you talk about black americans. it's not just one-sided. it's not just more law enforcement and progressive prosecutors out of touch. it's a mixture of things. it is we have seen polling be strong particularly in the last year and a half about people wanting to see police reined in but they want that to happen in
tandem or happening alongside of public safety. you have other democrats pushing back against it. what i think we're going to see here as we look forward is a party in the mid-terms going to have to choose a side. does the democratic party still have the same fervor for criminal justice reform as they did during the primary. >> they're not really talking about criminal justice reform as much. i think they're trying to lose that whole narrative for being identified with defund the police, which was never the tentant of the democratic party. it was progressives and really mostly activists, but president biden has said he wants to fund the police instead of defunding the police but somehow that has not caught on. >> that has not caught, and partly there's been attacks probably to pin that on progressives. you talk about these progressive prosecutors most of them do not
endorse that idea. they're conflating an activist position with an elected official position, but either way it's creating a problem to those prosecutors and they're even admitting this moment is a moment of political backlash. >> they wanted to roll back tough on crime policies and then violent crime surge. thank you. good to see you in person. we'll talk during the break. the president of the united states for the very first time bluntly saying he's convinced vladimir putin has now made the decision to invade ukraine. we're live in ukraine next. >> the entire free world is united. russia has a choice between war and all the suffering it will bring or diplomacy that will make a future safer for everyone. two loads of snot covered laundry. only one will be sanitized. wait, what? adding lysol laundry sanitizer kills 99.9% of bacteria detergent alone, can't.
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>> as of this moment i'm convinced he's made the decision. we have reason to believe that. >> to be clear you are convinced -- you are convinced that president putin is going to invade ukraine? is that what you just said a few moments ago? >> yes, i did. >> what reason do you have to believe he's considering that option at all? >> we have a significant intelligence capability. >> other sign russia's preparing for invasion a u.s. defense official telling cnn nearly half of russian forces surrounding ukraine are in attack position tonight. i want to go live now to ukraine where cnn international correspondent michael holmes is in lviv for us tonight. president biden has said putin made a decision to invade. half the russian force said are in attack mode. the ukrainian people waking up to this terrifying news. what is it like? are they ready? >> reporter: interesting in terms of preparedness i was actually interviewing the mayor
of this city where i am which is in the rest of the country. i was speaking to him yesterday, and this is a place where a few ukrainians have already come to from kyiv. of course the capital would be a primary target in any attack. the mayor said the preparations are well under way for more people to flee if an invasion happens. they've setup shelters of food and medicine stocks, protections for infrastructure as much as they can, things like water supplies. they're even constructing wards and operating theaters underneath hospitals. so a fair bit of preparation going on and a lot of hope, of course. but will it happen? if you say president biden is fulsome in his claim that it is, russia says that's untrue. ukraine is fiercely saying, well, we don't know for sure. militarily, though, ukraine's come a long way in recent years receiving weaponry from the u.s. and others, of course. but the reality is the ukrainian military is no match for the russians by no comparison.
if there is an invasion it will not be a fair fight. >> michael, president zelensky is supposed to travel to germany tomorrow for the munich security conference. is he still going to go? >> reporter: yeah, it's a really interesting one, don. he wants to go. he had a meeting setup with vice president kamala harris. the u.s. is now urging him not to go. the fear is if he's out of the country it could open for one the propaganda door to russians to say the president's fled the country and also prompt the russians to invade while the commander in chief isn't there to run things. u.s. officials say it's his call. senior ukrainian officials say they were concerned about all of this. in the event of russian actions air travel, of course, could be disrupted asked he might find it hard to get back, don. >> the u.s. and nato have been warning about how russia would use false flags to create a pretextual war. what's been happening on the ground there, michael?
>> reporter: quite a lot, don. as you've been reporting in the eastern donbas region where of course those russian backed separatists have been fighting ukrainian forces for eight years now. it's always been a place where we've seen things could kick off. and it was interesting yesterday leaders of those break away regions all of a sudden called on civilian residents to leave, head to russia because of what they call preparations by ukraine to attack. ukraine strongly denies that. there's no evidence on the ground of that. there was also an explosion in the region, apparently a car bomb. as you said this comes at a time when there's so much talk about false flag operations, disinformation so on. separatists creating an emergency situation which would give russia an excuse to invade at certainly a high stakes moment. and at to that jim sciutto's reporting that the u.s. intelligence assessments paints
a bleak picture. the threat this invasion could actually happen it's bigger than ever. >> i appreciate it. i want to turn now to cnn global affairs analyst susan glasser. good evening to you. this is the first time the president is saying putin has made the decision to attack and is going to target the capital of kyiv. biden also tweeting tonight, we're calling out russia's plans not because we want a conflict but because we are doing everything in our power to remove any reason russia may give to justify invading ukraine. is there any way that he'd make a statement like this without sobering and definitive intelligence? >> well, look, don, this is something i have not seen from the u.s. government. it's really been notable putting out this very secret intelligent world or attempting to document what russia's doing in a way to head it off. that's what they're seeing.
and it is striking. if you go back to late november, early december, the u.s. was already warning of this kind of a buildup at a time many people dismissed it, said we don't know what's going to happen. they said pretty accurately as it turned out russia was assembling an invasion force, it was going to constitute as many as 175,000 people, that prime time for an invasion would be right around now. so, you know, again this has been months in the making, but today as you said vice president -- i mean president biden said something we haven't heard before which is not that putin might do but he's actually decided to do it. >> so putin is determined to restore the soviet union, do you think anything is going to deter him? do you still think there's a chance for diplomacy here or is that over? >> well, you know, it's never too late to do the right thing, don. and, you know, it looks bleak now.
the thing that has concerned me all along throughout this crisis is the fact that putin has never seemed to be serious at all about diplomacy. his demands are not the kind of things you can negotiate. essentially he's been demanding that the united states and nato turn back the clock to 1997 or really turn back the clock to 1991 when the break up of the soviet union happened, and those are not things you can negotiate over. existential issues for ukraine as well which has been trying the aspiration of nato membership in its constitution. you can't just stick a gun to your neighborhood's head or 150,000 guns and say change your constitution. so how can you negotiate over that? so i've never been really, unfortunaty, optimistic about diplomacy given that. >> susan, you've been saying from the very beginning this whole situation is of putin's making. president biden also emphasizing this is putin's choice to go to war. are we talking about massive casualties, ukrainian and russian, all for the sake of
putin's ego? is that what this comes down to? >> well, you know, don, there is certainly is a constituency inside russia that has what i think as an imperial hangover that never lost the idea ukraine and other parts of the soviet union should be a part of the russian empire. it was their verg of the stab in the back, it was stolen from them or the empire needs to return in some form. so vladimir putin is not alone. he said the break up of the soviet union it was there were a lot of geopolitical catastrophes in the 20th century, and i'm not sure it ranks as number one but it tells you about the mind-set here. putin is also in legacy made. he's been essentially an unchallenged czar of russia the last 20 years and it seems he's decided once again to exert to
military force. this is not the first time -- this is not the first war of choice vladimir putin has embarked upon. he's not only invaded ukraine but georgia before, came to power due to the war inside russia, chechnya. this is not someone who has been hesitant to use military force. in the course of his 20 years. >> susan glasser, thank you so much. i appreciate it. classified information, national security documents and the former president took them with him when he left washington. now the doj's involved. that's next.
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it's extremely troubling, and i want to make clear what we found today just a few hours ago. we got a response from a letter i wrote on february 10th to the national archives seeking detailed accounting of the 15 boxes and whether or not there was any classified information. and we learned three basic things today. first, they confirmed that there was classified information as you said, and that they have communicated to the department of justice. secondly, they confirmed that the former president had destroyed ripped up documents. even though our committee and the archives had warned them against such actions as far back as 2018. and they even confirmed they received torn up pieces of paper that they literally had to paste together. and very troubling also they determined that many social media communications were
absolutely missing not only from the president but from some of his closest advisers. so all of this deeply troubling. >> wow. that is a lot of information. thank you for that. the archives says because they've uncovered classified material, they turned over all this information to the doj. so then do we know what happens next here, or is this so unprecedented you have no idea what happens? >> well, it's up to the doj to respond to the information they've received. it's up to our committee to make sure all the documents are found. it is a crime to destroy presidential documents. it's supposed to be preserved for the american people. it belongs to the american people. and we are in the process of reviewing what information is lost, what information is found. the archives have said that they will complete an inventory of what they have found by the end
of february. and we will study this information and come up with procedures and processes so that this does not happen again and that the information is preserved for the future. >> now, those ripped up documents, what can you tell us about them? >> well, i haven't seen the ripped up documents, but we now know they were ripped up and that they literally which is almost unbelievable delivered to the archives ripped up documents. so the archives had to work with a puzzle and paste them all together again. so we are in the beginning of this review. as i said we just got this letter several hours ago, and they were responding to my february 10th inquiry. >> you think they're trying to hide something? >> well, it doesn't look good. why in the world did 15 boxes that belong in the archives
office end up in florida? >> that's a good question. congressman, we know there's still more documents that the archives is trying to retrieve. how are they going to get those records if they just won't turn them over? >> well, this is an investigation that's in progress. so one step at a time. we now have this information and we'll build on it, and we'll work together to get the most complete review. >> congresswoman carolyn maloney, thank you so much. i appreciate you joining us. >> thank you. so it's not just the classified documents. a judge saying trump could be culpable and sued for january 6th as a another says he has to testify in his deposition over business practices. a lot of bad news for the former president. plus fall out from the olympic russian doping scandal.
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the walls closing in. can the former president continue to dodge accountability? joining me now to discuss, mark mcmckinnon, a former advisor to george w. bush, and executive producer of "the circus" on show time. thank you for joining us. i appreciate it. good evening to you, mark. those are only some of the investigations swirling around trump right now. with pressure seemingly on all sides do you think something finally sticks? >> i do, don. i mean, i thought it since he even entered the presidential race. we know from our own reporting donald trump never really planned to be president. he knew that he loved the spotlight, he loves attention, and the best way to get attention is to run for the president of the united states. that was the number one order of business. but he never expected to be president. in fact, we know his plan was to run for a while, get a bunch of attention then endorse chris christie. and then he just kept winning but that was by accident. he never expected to be president. and one of of the consequences of being president is he opened
himself up to a ton of legal liability. he's dodged a ton of it, he's slipped the knot over and over and over again. but from the very beginning i've said this, but it's not just by opinion but most legal experts and anybody who's been around new york real estate, that's what's going to get him in the end. it's going to be the real estate deals, the taxes, and, you know, this notion his taxes has been audited and he couldn't show them which is what he said during the campaign, and it's now how many years later. so we know that's a complete fraud. there's a big problem there. there's a big problem. there's legal liability. so i think at the end of the day that that's going to be the legal liability that ties him up. >> you know, as all the details of these investigations come out, can he keep this iron grip on the gop, or could this be an opportunity for potential rivals or anyone who just wants to move on from the chaos and the crazy?
>> well, i always go back to the man who would be king, that great story where, you know, this colonial character is deified right up until the moment he's cut and the natives see blood and they boil him and cannibalize him. i'm not sure exactly that's what will happen to trump, but it'll be close. as soon as the legal liability or he shows any sort of mortality legal or health wise, you know, the vultures are going to move fast and hard and there's a lot of them waiting. >> last night the former vice president mike pence defending the rnc wording that claimed people were involved in legitimate political discourse during the january 6th insurrection. watch this. >> i think they made a clear statement after the fact that said we're talking about what's happening in washington today with the january 6th committee, and i believe them.
they're good people. i believe that's what they meant. >> okay. i mean, what is he doing? he's just trying to make good after saying trump was wrong earlier this month? >> that's one of the most laughable things i've ever heard in my life. that's the weakest excuse. and i mean, you know, mike pence is just a weak man, and he did the right thing under a lot of stress and i appreciate that fact. but, you know, he at the end of the day still goes back and genuflects before trump. you've reported to some of what judge michael ludig has said in the last day or two which i think is really powerful. this guy is the most respected republican jurist. retired federal judge and he's said not one single leader of ours with the moral authority, the courage and will to stand up and say no, this is not who we are, this is not what america is has stood up and done so. liz cheney said, listen,
principles matter to mow more than a congressional seat. i guarantee you the history books will remember liz cheney and not kevin mccarthy. >> right on. the house minority leader kevin mccarthy is endorsing liz cheney's opponent. this party has been trying to purge cheney, other republicans or won't go along with this whole big lie thing. will it matter what happens if she wins anyway? >> no, i don't think so. and, you know, listen, given the dynamics of the trump primaries and the buy into the big lie, which continues to astonish of any common sense american out there and in the face of no evidence of fraud and after being endorsed by the
president's own attorney general, his own intelligence officer as one of the freest and fairest elections we've ever had, it's become a litmus test. so anyone who won't admit to a lie gets. purged from the republican party. the republican party is digging itself deeper into a hole. it's a very short view for people who want to win primaries but in the long run i don't think it's going to look great for them or the republican party. >> listen, he's really making his influence felt in primaries around this country. what do you think? do you think it's hurting the party in general, or does it matter what happens as it relates to what's coming out of this investigation in new york? or do you think he'll still have a big impact on the primary? >> i think he's going to have a big impact in primaries, but the problem is the general elections, don. i mean, you know, remember this is the guy for the first time in
a hundred years since grover cleveland lost the presidency, lost the senate, lost the house, that's his track record as an incumbent president. and he's only going to be weaker now, but looks very possible because the republican party can't quit him he would be the nominee if he runs, and therefore the future doesn't look for the republican party from 2020 and beyond unless they can get trump off the windshield and into the rearview mirror. >> only you come up with those things. fall out from the olympic doping scandal. involving that 15 year-old skater. a major rule change could be coming soon. air wick essential mist aroma. i'm jonathan lawson here to tell you about life insurance through the colonial penn program. if you're age 50 to 85,
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the doping scandal involving russian skater kamila valiyeva leading to a proposal to raise the minimum age for competitors to 17. she was alallowed to compete despite testing positive for a banned substance. as a minor she's considered a protected person under the antidoping court. the course of arbitration ruled she could stay in the olympics. today the international figure skating union telling cnn a vote on a proposal to hike the minimum age to 17 will take place at the next meeting in june. thanks for watching, everyone. our coverage continues.
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are you a christian author with a book that you're ready to share with the world? get published now, call for your free publisher kit today! >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. i'm michael holmes in lviv in ukraine. we're going to take you straight to it the munich conference with the nato secretary-general yen stoltenberg is speaking. >> cyclical steps that can improve security for all countries. the current crisis is about more than ukraine. there is much at stake. relations between nato and