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Police in Cleveland and Across the Country Searching for Steve Stephens; Robert Godwin's Family Speaking Out; Can the President of the United States Be Sued?; Right Wing Radio Host Alex Jones Involved in a Child Custody Battle. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired April 17, 2017 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:00:42] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Nationwide manhunt for a killer.
This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
Police in Cleveland and across the country searching for this man, 37 years old Steve Stephens. Take a good look. They say he shot to death Robert Godwin, a father and grandfather and posted the video of that killing on Facebook. The police chief sending out this message.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're still asking Steve to turn himself in but if he doesn't, we'll find him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: I want to turn right away to CNN correspondent Brynn Gingras live for us tonight in Cleveland.
Brynn, good evening to you. You are over at the Cleveland police department. What can you tell us about the status of this nationwide manhunt for Steve Stephens?
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, going. They are making pleas right now to Stephens asking him to turn himself in, contact any family, any friends, and he can make any sort of contact with asking those family and friends to also then just call police. At this point, it is a nationwide search, Don. And there are several dozen leads that investigators are looking into. But we are more than 24 hours since this horrific killing just ten minutes from where we are standing. And still no sign of Stephens just yet.
LEMON: So Brynn, Cleveland police chief, Calvin Williams, he calls this murder personal. Tell me about it.
GINGRAS: Well, it was personal. He said it was personal to the people of this city. He said this was personal obviously to the Godwin family. This is a 74-year-old man. You said that a father of 10 children. He had grandchildren on top of that. One woman who has a grandchild we talked to today. She said she saw the video, this horrific killing that was on full display for the public and she said she couldn't make anyway sense of it.
So it's certainly personal for everyone because everyone sort of witnessed this crime happen in real time. So the point is they want to know why he did this. He said that he, you know, had built in frustration. That he had anger with a girlfriend. But they can't really make sense of it. Again, this and a man, Steve Stephens, 37 years old. He was working with children, mentoring them, helping them transition from the foster care system to the work force. This is someone who had no criminal record. So it is just baffling. So many people, especially those who knew him best.
LEMON: Thank you, Brynn. I appreciate that. I want to bring in now Casey Jordan, a criminologist. CNN contributor Wesley Lowery, a reporter for "Washington Post," Emily Dreyfuss, a senior writer at "Wired" and Chris Swecker, former assistant director of the FBI.
Good evening, everyone.
Wesley, to you first. Steve Stephens is now on the FBI's most wanted list. What does it take to get on that list?
WESLEY LOWERY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Of course, I mean, you are talking about some of the most notorious criminals in the country. You are talking about very often people who were murdering cops, people suspected of terrorism, this is major. I mean, on top of that Cleveland mayor Frank Jackson put I want say it is $50,000 reward on Mr. Stephens' head.
And so this is something that has clearly traumatized and it captivated the nation, traumatized the city of Cleveland. That's my home town. I have been working on Facebook and twitter all day just watching high school friends, family members, people who are horrified.
Let's remember also in addition to the one death for many hours that there has been this rumor perpetuated by Mr. Stephens himself that he killed multiple people. So people are here on Easter Sunday were horrified by what might have been happening. And so, he clearly wanted some attention. And certainly, he has gotten it. But I'm hoping, you know, that they catch this guy.
LEMON: Let's talk about catching -- the tools they used to catch this guy, Chris. The Cleveland police chief said that this is what he would consider a national search for Steve. I mean, how do you go about hunting for someone that is, you know, in a search that is so big?
CHRIS SWECKER, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Yes. Well, first and foremost, you do what they have been doing as you use the press as effectively as they can, get his image out there, hope that someone spots him, and hopefully a police officer before anyone else because he is a ticking bomb at this point. But I also working out his social network, all the technology that is available to law enforcement, cell phones, GPS. They are reaching out to him, trying to get him to call in to see if they can establish negotiations with him, the working family members, the working friends. You have fraternity brothers that were on earlier. I'm sure they are prepared by the FBI and the marshal service on what to say and how to say and how to redirect him over to law enforcement if and when he calls them and it's very likely he will get in touch with someone.
[23:05:20] LEMON: How do you think this is going to end up?
SWECKER: Unfortunately, the irrationality, the senselessness, the cowardly act that he did just belies him turning himself in peacefully. He has severed all ties with civilization basically and he is desperate and he is under pressure. We have seen this before with fugitives on the run in this type of situation where they do home invasions, they do carjackings. All they have left to commit more criminal acts to try to stay on the run.
LEMON: Yes. And he kind of talk about that Casey. He said, you know, I'm just fed up with it. I just gone off - gone off to deepen. I had to tell you. And I spoke with -- Chris just referenced it. But I spoke to his fraternity brothers Jason Clotman who told me that he actually spoke to Stephens on the phone before he posted this video. Listen to this and then we will discuss.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JASON CLOTMAN, FRATERNITY BROTHER OF STEVE STEPHENS: I did speak to him on Sunday prior to a couple minutes maybe before the shooting. He was very apologetic. He said, you know, Jason, I let the line down. I let my fraternity down. I let the Omega chapter down. I let the fourth district down. And he just apologized for what he was doing.
I, you know, tried to console him. I didn't really know what he was talking about and until he said I'll call you right back but I'm about to post something on Facebook. So once I read the post I saw it maybe two times then I tried to call him back and he did not pick up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: What does this tell you that he is reaching out to friends before posting this on Facebook?
CASEY JORDAN, CRIMINOLOGIST: I think he is maximizing the horror (ph) to be honest. And if you see it online, in his car taping it with a phone while he is talking on another phone, taking calls and says his phone is blowing up and he goes I can't believe no one believes that I did this. Why are they disbelieving me? And he is angry about the idea that people would doubt his power.
I mean, this is -- it is about power and control. But that is too simple. The idea he is scapegoating this on to his girlfriend - his ex-girlfriend.
LEMON: His mother.
JORDAN: And his mother. He has issues with women. He feels unappreciated. Life has kicked him in the teeth. He has no coping skills. But the sad thing is, and I agree with all your guests, now he is all in. He has done something since the Bryce Williams, you know, live murder of the reporters last year or two years ago. This is the first thing that's made us sit up and get attention. And he knew that and I do think that he will take another life or at least try to, to get more --.
LEMON: What did you think of when he said, you know, I have anger issues? I tell you guys my problems and you blow me off. You don't take me seriously. Was that a cry for help, do you think?
JORDAN: No. He just loves to displace blame and really he is -- he thinks he had a very tough lie. He blames everyone for his problems but him. And I do think that his work in helping children, helping others, he literally keeps saying I snapped. I just snapped.
LEMON: Yes. He said everybody always brings their problems to me but they don't want to help me.
JORDAN: Nobody helps me with my problems. I mean, it is all about him. Honestly, you see a lot of narcissistic personality issues.
LEMON: Emily, I want to get you in here. But let me read the statement from Facebook and then you can respond to it, OK.
This -- Facebook put out a statement saying this is a horrific crime and we do not allow this kind of content on Facebook. We work hard to keep a safe environment on Facebook and are in touch with law enforcement in emergencies when there are direct threats to physical safety.
So what kind of responsibility, if any, does Facebook have in situations like this? I mean, what more can Facebook do to prevent people from poising things like this?
EMILY DREYFUSS, SENIOR WRITER, WIRED: So Facebook is doing a lot already. That is not to say that it is necessary doing enough. But when Facebook says it is working hard to keep like this off the (INAUDIBLE), it is telling the truth. The system that is in place right now does require people like us, people - regular users on Facebook to flag these videos. But then the not flag happens, it goes to thousands -- hundreds of thousands of people that Facebook page across the world to moderate this content and to take it down.
LEMON: Casey is not buying that. When I read the statement, you sort of --.
JORDAN: I mean, we don't allow this? Yes, you do. It happened. Somebody was murdered and was posted instantaneously to Facebook. And the same thing happened with Bryce Williams. He used his body cam and he uploaded it to Facebook instantaneously.
By the time they take it off in three hours it is cache, anyone can see it. The family is tortured by the idea that many people are watching it.
LEMON: What would to like they do?
JORDAN: Well, first of all, they keep saying it didn't happen on Facebook live. It doesn't matter. Get rid of Facebook live because that's going to be the next thing. I mean, the idea that it happened in with uploaded seconds later is irrelevant. The next thing will be on a Facebook live. They have had rape, suicides, people killed. Everything is live. There has to be a better way.
[23:10:13] LEMON: Emily, I will get your respond in the other side of this break.
Stick with me, everyone. When we come right back, more on this ongoing manhunt. And later, remember those Trump campaign rallies where some people were shoved or punched? Well, Trump says he can't by sued for the things he says at those rallies but a federal judge disagrees.
[23:14:33] LEMON: Nationwide manhunt tonight for Steve Stephens accused of shooting to death a 74-year-old father and grandfather and posting video of the killing on Facebook.
Back with me now my panel.
Emily, I'm going to start with you first because I said I would give you the first word because, you know, as Casey just said they end up these manifestos or so end up on Facebook or somewhere out there live. Killers used to send these manifestos now, they can just post a video. Is this a new kind of exhibitionism in this age of social media? Do you think it is going to become the norm?
[23:15:06] DREYFUSS: Absolutely. And it is the norm. You know, social media has taken away the middle man. You and me, traditional media. We don't have - we have guidelines in place where we would say perhaps we are not going to post a video like this.
LEMON: We are not showing it appear on this network, yes.
DREYFUSS: Exactly. Because we have, you know, over many years developed that's practically to minimize harm. And social media gets rid us. It just put the ability to broadcast anyone. And anyone can. And you know, Facebook says that when they are doing that, they are a mirror on society and they are going to let the best and worst of society be reflected. And what we saw yesterday is that the worst will be reflected.
Now, I think what Casey was getting at is that if that is the case, then Facebook has a responsibility just like traditional media to attempt to minimize harm. And what we see here is competing interest on Facebook's part. They have every inventive to want it people on Facebook to post as much as possible. Hence, why they create something like the Facebook live platform which is super easy. But they also actually have a large inventive to keep Facebook safe and free in videos like this because Facebook will be completely destroyed if when you and I go on to Facebook to look at pictures of our friends, we end up seeing a video like the one (INAUDIBLE).
LEMON: OK. Well, let me ask you this. So several cases of this, you know, where you see these heinous crimes that broadcast on social media, Emily. Remember the case of the -- we cover with Chicago teen, four teenagers, horrific. They were charged with tying up and torturing a special need teenager live and broadcasting it on Facebook. Do these companies know what to do right now as a technology gotten out in front of the law or as you said that's practices that maybe mainstream media have developed.
DREYFUSS: Yes. I think this is maybe a case of, you know, technology companies are used to acting fast in breaking things. And so they developed a platform and sent out into the world throughout people to use it before they have really thought through how could it be abused. Now what we are seeing is these companies grappled with how to deal with it. And that is why they have - they paid you know hundreds of thousands of people to moderate these content.
And on Twitter, for instance, they use artificial intelligence to scan images and videos for pornography but they don't do that for violence. And that is something that these companies are making these decisions.
Now there is technology that would do this better. They could put these videos on a delay. They could have artificial intelligence scan and flag these videos before they are ever uploaded. So, you know, with the video - Steve Stephens' video was online on Facebook for over two hours before the moderators ever saw it and took it down.
Now, if they could have artificial intelligence, had flag it right away, that would be fantastic. And Facebook is investing a ton of time and energy and money in getting that.
LEMON: Let me bring the question to Wes now.
Because both Facebook, Wes, and Instagram, they have added live streaming to their capabilities. I mean, just last week, a Georgia teen was live streaming a video on Instagram when he accidentally shot himself. Are these companies getting more than they bargained for, you know, same question that I asked Emily, when they add all of these features that they -- maybe they didn't think it through.
LOWERY: Of course. You know, every action has an equal and opposite reaction, right. The reality that Facebook live video can change the world the same way (INAUDIBLE) or twitter video could the same way. You know, the idea of live video that we can bring people into the space where we are. We see it as reporters the power of that and we see the power of humans being able to do that. You think about something like Philando Castile video from now. You know, a year-and- a-half ago. Something that result and charges for police officers after shooting something that prompts massive nationwide protests in a case that we might not never heard of.
But on the same token, we are looking at whether it be the violence in Chicago, the torturing of that young man we seen in Sweden. I believe there was a rape of a woman that was live streamed in Facebook live because sometime last year and now we are seeing this case in Cleveland.
This idea that this tool doesn't just go to people who are going to use it for good. But it could also as tool that goes out to every Facebook user and in a world in which Facebook is not necessarily curating or certainly not editing the content being posted. You know, it is a platform for anyone. How do you prevent someone from doing something like this? You know, it is really difficult to even grasp and put your arms around.
LEMON: And Chris, should it come as a surprise to us though when so many people make their online presence such a big part of their lives with all aspects that like being shared online? That crimes would also end up being shared as well by certain type of person?
SWECKER: No doubt about it. I mean, this is a by-product of the technology social media age that we live in. This is -- there's no filter in this type of social media if you will. So I think we are going to see this. I question that artificial intelligence or analytics can really identify this type of activity in time to really do any good. I don't think you have enough people in the world to do it manually or workers in the world. It has to be done through analytics and artificial intelligence. But I don't think that exists. It is not ready for prime time. I have seen how it works. So this see something that law enforcement has to live with. The internet can solve crimes. It can help solve crimes. And in this case it's helped enable a crime.
[23:20:34] LEMON: Yes. Casey, I will give you the last word because it seems like he is saying what you proposed might actually work.
JORDAN: Yes. You have just to ask yourself this question. If there was no social media would Steve Stephens have killed this man? If it didn't exist, would he have done this too and vengeance on his girlfriend?
And there does have to be a balancing act. Of course, remember, we will never get rid of social media. The question is, is a live feed or would a three-hour delay on something that's good really cripple it and would there be a greater benefit to do a delay or increased artificial intelligence to catch things like murders and suicide and the horrific accidents to just try to quell our obsession with everything shocking and occurrence.
LEMON: Thank you, panel. I appreciate it.
When we come back, members of Robert Godwin's family speaking out. We are going to talk his best friend, three of his children.
And later, can President Trump be sued for what he said at his campaign rallies? A surprising development, a lawsuits accusing him of inciting violence.
[23:25:29] LEMON: Tragedy for the family of Robert Godwin Sr. A 74- year-old Ohio man shot to death by a stranger on Easter Sunday. The killer posting video of the murder on Facebook. Mr. Godwin's family is distraught. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a good guy. I mean -- give the shirt off his back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Joining me now is Naujia Godwin, the daughter of Robert Godwin Sr., Dorothy Crumpton, his former wife, daughter Tammy Godwin and Robby Miller, his son.
I don't even - I can't even imagine you guys doing this and having the strength but thank you for joining us. And I think it's important to get this out so that people could see that you want justice and you are together as a family.
Dorothy, I'm going to start with you. Robert, was your former husband. However, the two of you remain very close. You say that he was your best friend. And again, I'm so sorry for --.
DOROTHY CRUMPTON, FORMER WIFE Of ROBERT GODWIN SR.: My best friend. Yes, he was.
LEMON: Talk to me about that.
CRUMPTON: Beg your pardon.
LEMON: Talk to me about that.
CRUMPTON: Yes, he was my best friend. We shopped together. Did things for each other. He was just my best friend. Beside God, that was my best friend. We decided long time ago that we had six children together and there's a lot of married couples that never had what Robert and I had in this life. They are going to wish for it. So we will friends and we weren't fake friend either. I had a stroke in 2014, Robert came over and wash my clothes for me, you know. Robert took me in a way I want to go, took me to the doctor, anywhere I needed to go, he took me. If he had anything, he made sure that I had too.
LEMON: It speaks to the kind of person he is, right?
CRUMPTON: Yes. He was a man of peace and love. He didn't like a lot of drama. He didn't fool with drama. And he didn't lit things worry him like that.
LEMON: How are you holding up, Dorothy?
CRUMPTON: How am I holding up?
LEMON: Yes, ma'am.
CRUMPTON: By the Grace of God, I'm going to make it. But I can't sit here and say it's not hurting. It's hurting me because it's hurting me very bad because that was a true friend. You know, we have friends in life who say they are friends but they are not. But Robert was a true friend. And he respected me.
LEMON: I'm sorry for the delay.
Tammy, your father, Robert Sr., had been walking home after enjoying an Easter meal when this just unbelievable, horrible event happened. How did you hear about it and what happened to your father?
TAMMY GODWIN, DAUGHTER OF ROBERT GODWIN SR.: I was at home and I wasn't feeling well. And a lot of times when I don't feel well, I don't answer my phone. So when my mom first called my cellphone, I didn't answer. But when she called my aunt (INAUDIBLE), when I picked up the phone, she was screaming. And she said (INAUDIBLE). Your father is dead. And I just - I tried to put some clothes on and I just ran to my mother's house. My mother lived about four doors from me. And I just want this person to know what he did to our family.
Our father - if it was 3:00 in the morning, 2:00 in the morning, 5:00 in the morning, he would come see about us. Sometimes I couldn't sleep and I could call my dad and he would talk to me. And I just want him to know what he took from us. He took our dad. I can't believe I will never talk to my father. I can't believe I'm never going to be able to call my father no more. My heart is just broke.
LEMON: I'm so sorry.
Naujia, the man who shot your father uploaded a video that he took the shooting to Facebook where it is wildly circulated. It's been out on the internet. How this - does this have any effect on your feelings? How do you feel about what happened with this unusual element on top of it?
[23:30:20] NAUJIA GODWIN, DAUGHTER OF ROBERT GODWIN SR.: I didn't see it at first. My first reaction is sadness and disbelief. Everybody started calling me and texting me did you see that video? On my radio, they are talking about it. Our family started calling me. And at first I was angry. Why would they do that to my dad? Why would you put it online like --? I couldn't believe it was my dad. I don't want nobody else to hear her. My dad had to die I guess for people to realize that life isn't guaranteed. But I just want everybody to know you should be kind to everybody you meet and to love your family because they all you got.
LEMON: Robby, can I talk to you about this Facebook element because Facebook responded. I will put the statement up. They said it was a horrific crime. That they don't allow this kind of content. And they said, you know, that they were in touch with law enforcement to direct threats of physical safety. What do you think about that statement? Should they be doing more to prevent, you think, people from having this kind, you know, platform to potentially close terrible things that happened like happened to your family?
ROBBY MILLER, SON OF ROBERT GODWIN SR.: I most certainly thing that what happened to my father was horrific. I wouldn't wish that on anybody. The man who videotaped my father being shot stripped him of his dignity and to post it online for the whole world to see, I'm just angry.
No, I don't want that man to die. I want him to be brought to justice. I just want him to be brought to justice. I mean, under these circumstances my family, you know, we sticking together. We staying strong because now we got to come together.
I was just shocked when I found out it happened. And I didn't really realize that my father was gone or it just hadn't register to my brain. I'm just - I'm so hurt and just at a loss for words. Boys need their fathers and mine was taken away from me. And all I want to see is him brought to justice. I want my family to have closure. It's just - it is hole in my heart right now. There is a hole in my heart right now. But one thing I do want to say is I forgive him because we all sinners and we need to share blood of Jesus Christ to save us. And I'm so grateful for that. So if you out there, if you listening, turn yourself in. You have done enough damage. Just turn himself in.
LEMON: What do you guys want to see happen to him? Because there is a manhunt. I can hear people crying at your house how. I can, you know, I have been involved with gust (ph) in the family and I only imagine the sadness. But this one is beyond I mean, this is one is just beyond because of how it happened. But what would you want to happen? And you said you want him to turn himself in but what would you like to see the outcome of this be? What do you want for him?
MILLER: I mean, whatever law enforcement or whoever the higher ups decide to do, that is out of my hands. At the end of the day, that's up to God, you know. Vengeance is mine says the Lord, you know. They just can see us. It doesn't belong to do that. And that's how our dad raised us, to love people. That's a gift to love people.
My family loves people. You know, my mom taught me that. That's a gift and you don't reborn with that. That's something you don't develop. You are born with that gift. And whatever they decide to do is fine, but I just want him brought to justice. I don't want to see him killed or anything like that. I just want him brought to justice.
LEMON: Naujia, what do you want people to know about what your family is going to get through with this?
[23:35:04] N. GODWIN: I think they could just imagine somebody missing in their family and they feel it. Somebody very special to you, somebody very dear and close to you just gone and it's broadcast. That's how it feels. You feel, for no reason, you feel really angry like my dad wasn't bothering anybody.
LEMON: Tammy, what do you want people to know who are watching about your family and your dad?
T. GODWIN: Yes. I just want people to know that he was a good man and he was a good father and he was a family man and he was a good grandfather. He would do anything for anybody. You took something from us. Just turn yourself in. We are not a hateful family. We love people. We love everybody. We got good hearts in our family. We was raised right. Our father taught us to love. Our mother taught us to love. Give us a call. Just turn yourself in. We don't hate. But you took something from us and we still don't hate you.
LEMON: Dorothy. I will give you the last word.
CRUMPTON: All right. Since I got the last word. For God so love the world, and he gave his only begotten son to whoever should believe in his should not perish but have ever lasting life. And I don't want nothing, I don't want him to take his life, I don't want the police to take his life. I want him to give himself up. Because at the end of the day, Jesus died for his sins too.
CRUMPTON: Just like he died for us.
LEMON: And all this on Easter weekend.
Thank you, family. You are a beautiful family and you are strong. Thank you so much. I'm so sorry this happened to you.
MILLER: Thank you.
CRUMPTON: Thank you.
LEMON: They wanted their loved one to be remembered. They wanted to do the interview and that was their message to the world. Great family.
We will be right back.
[23:41:24] LEMON: Here's a question for you. Can the president of the United States be sued? Attorneys for President Trump say no. But according to new developments in the lawsuit as to whether Donald Trump incited his supporters to act violently at one campaign rally. The answer might be more complicated than that.
First, let's take a look at the video from that particular event.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Unbelievable. Unbelievable. Well. Get out. You know, in the old days, which isn't so long ago, when we were less politically correct that kind of stuff wouldn't have happened. Today we have to be so nice, so nice. We always have to be so nice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Here to discuss now, defense attorney Alan Dershowitz, the author of "Finding Jefferson" and CNN legal analyst Areva Martin and Mark Geragos.
Good evening all of you.
Areva, attorneys for President Trump file a response and they are saying the president of the United States is immune from a civil lawsuit. They also say and this is a quote, "Trump statements, get them out of hire is protected by the first amendment." What's your reaction, Areva Martin?
AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the immunity argument is not physical (ph) and pretty much dead on arrival, Don. The unanimous Supreme Court decision in 1997 involving Bill Clinton and Paula Jones decided this issue. A candidate's actions before they become president doesn't entitle him for the immunity that President Trump and his team is arguing for in this case. And it is really an odd and I don't want to use the word stupid but it's a non-syndical (ph) argument. And in a similar case involving a princess model, Trump's team all but admitted that in the civil lawsuit filed in federal court, the president doesn't have immunity for actions that are not done in the course and scope of his job as president.
So the immunity argument is going nowhere. We talked about the first amendment when I was on here last week with Mark and Alan. We disagreed. I think the first amendment argument is also weaken this case. And this lawsuit is moving forward. And I have a lot of respect for the plaintiffs that have come forward to challenge the president on his reckless statement.
LEMON: When I made that statement I said the president cannot be sued. And Alan, under your breath, you said no. That is not right. Your answer is very simple. He can be, right.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: He can be. Look. I think the Supreme Court was wrong if it (INAUDIBLE) decision. I don't think there should be immunity but I think that lawsuits against the sitting president should be postponed until after they are out of the office. The Supreme Court nine to nothing. And somebody once said, the Supreme Court isn't final because it is right, it's only right because it's final. Wrong decision but it's the law.
LEMON: OK. Here is what Alan asked you Mark. One of the Trump supporters who is accused -- by the way, do you have a take on this whether the president is immune to prosecutor or immunity to -- before I read this quote?
MARK GERAGOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: He clearly is not immune. And both Areva and Alan are correct. I mean, it's a dumb decision but it is the state of the law.
LEMON: OK. One of the Trump supporters who is accused of attacking a protester also filed papers stating this. He said he would not have acted as he did without Trump and/or Trump campaign specific urging and inspiration to the extent that (INAUDIBLE), he did so in response to and inspired by Trump and/or Trump campaign's urging to remove the protesters.
[23:45:05] DERSHOWITZ: Now, that will made me do it.
DERSHOWITZ: That's a stupid argument. You know, in America, we hold people responsible for what they do. We don't let them say I wouldn't have shot the guy unless he told me to do it. I would have shot the guy if it wasn't told me to do it. He is responsible, not Trump. LEMON: But Mark, we don't hold the president responsible or a
candidate or any citizen as to what they said?
GERAGOS: I actually don't think it not dumb. I just think that trying to get indemnification. They are looking for Trump to pay the legal fees. This is my guest.
MARTIN: We see this all time in these kinds of lawsuit where there are some third party action. Of course, this defendant is going to say to the extent of there is any liability, I shouldn't be responsible for paying the damages. Donald Trump should by responsible. So this is uncommon. And the president isn't above the law. So everything that is happening in this lawsuits is pretty typical, personal injury lawsuit kind of stuff.
DERSHOWITZ: We can make the person an argument. It is very important to make. Imagine this was an Occupy Wall Street rally and somebody in an extreme radical on the left saw somebody with the conservative sign. It said get him out of here. Get him out of here. Every civil libertarian in the country will be saying this is free speech. The ACLU would be in this case. But because it is Trump, everything is reversed. Hypocrisy is on display. We have to have a single standard. And the single standard under the first amendment is unless there's a direct, immediate and unambiguous incitement, it's speech is protected by the first amendment. And all civil libertarians ought to be on Trump's side on this issue but they are not.
LEMON: I have to go because we have something else I want to talk about, Alex Jones (ph). And I think it is very important. But -- this isn't yelling fire in a crowded theater like this is an inciting. I don't care if you are Democrat or Republican or left or right.
GERAGOS: I don't know, Alan. This is - Alan, I don't know about that. I think this is one of those cases. When he was starts talking about the old days and get him the out of here, that gives me a lot of pause.
DERSHOWITZ: You know, (INAUDIBLE).
MARTIN: I agree with Mark on this one.
LEMON: All right. I got to go. I got to go. Stick around, everyone. A child custody battle revealing surprising confessions from info wars founder Alex Jones. Is he just playing a character?
[23:51:12] LEMON: Right wing radio host Alex Jones is involved in a child can custody battle and his on air comments may be used against him. Back with me now my legal panel.
All right. This one is very interesting to me, Alan, because Alex Jones has made a lot of about radios claims over the past years. He has said 9/11 was an inside job. That Sandy Hook was a hoax. The Boston marathon was staged among (INAUDIBLE) other things. But today he stood in a courtroom battling his ex-wife Kelly Jones who wants sole custody of their children because she believes him to be unstable.
Here's what his lawyers say. Jones' lawyer called him a performance artist and said he says these things. He is merely playing a character. That's going to come as a surprise to a lot of people, I'm sure, who I have watched him for the first time. I was like I can't believe people actually believe this.
DERSHOWITZ: Or he actually believes it.
LEMON: Or he actually believes that. It's going to be a lot of surprise. What do you think, is that a defense?
DERSHOWITZ: Well, it's a stupid defense for him because if he can prove he is a phony he wins. But if he is seem to be authentic or legitimate, he loses. So if he wins the custody of the kids, he loses his show basically because people are not going to want to watch a phony performance artist. And so, look, realistically it's a custody case. The judge ought to think what's in the best interests of the child. Even if he is a complete (INAUDIBLE) on television, he might be a good father to the child.
LEMON: I like that word (INAUDIBLE). That's god one. We are going to bring that back.
So listen. What do you think, Mark? Can the excuse be made that someone is merely playing a character in their job but it is different in their personal life? Can that hold water in a court case as sensitive as this one?
GERAGOS: Well, actually, that's a first cousin to what Hulk Hogan claimed in his lawsuit, other people have claimed that and that they are just playing a character. So yes, I can see where you could be successful saying that. But successful in the sense that you are committing a suicide mission in terms of the people who actually listen to you and believe that nonsense.
LEMON: But you know, what he is going to do go back on television and he was going to say I was play acting in the court in order to win. So he is going to turn it around.
LEMON: Yes. Mark, do you want --?
GERAGOS: With except he's got the meddlesome perjury thing.
LEMON: Yes. Go ahead, Areva.
MARTIN: Yes. I worry about this case, Don, as the children's rights advocate whenever I see someone with this, you know, this spewing this kind of rhetoric, I hope the judge takes this case very seriously. I hope psychologists have been brought in and that everyone is evaluating whether these kids are in a safe environment. And that is the real question here. And if this guy is just acting, is there any record of this? Has he said that at all on his radio program on any of these platforms?
LEMON: Why would you want to act? OK. Let's just say, you know, he is acting, right? I mean, I'm sure in some way he is because who can believe this. Maybe he does. But to say you know, the Sandy Hook family, the victims there, why would you want to act, who would want to act around something like that?
MARTIN: Because he wants to be a provocateur because he wants to build a basic. Because he want to make money and he has tapped into an audience that will listen to him and make him and make him have seven million viewers. This guy is wildly popular. So I'm not buying this that he is just acting because again I want to check the records. Is there any evidence that he has ever told one of those seven million viewers that this is just an act? This is an act to try to win this custody battle, I do believe that. But I think these kids may be in danger. And I hope this case is taken very seriously and the best interests of the children is ultimately, is what at stake here.
DERSHOWITZ: You know, the courts did take away children from people who are overtly Nazi or overtly extremists on the ground that bringing up children in that environment won't be appropriate. But again, there has to be a single standard. You don't want to imply something to the right and a different standard to the left. So anything we say about an extremist on the right taking away his kids, we would have to say about an extremist on the left, too. So let's be careful before we take kids away.
[23:55:15] LEMON: OK. So then, again, there's an extensive public record on what he has done and what he says. And also, a lot of things are said during child custody cases and divorce battles. But in this case, again, there's an extensive public record. And also, which I find fascinating, as well. I have to put this quote in there. The president was on Alex Jones radio show even said to him, your reputation is amazing. He also said to him that he wouldn't let him down. Alex Jones has the ear and endorsement of the president of the United States. I mean, how can he just be a performance artist.
DERSHOWITZ: The president has a lot of explaining to do when he endorses O'Reilly. Who else is he going to endorse?
LEMON: Last word Mark. Quickly, what do you want to say to that?
GERAGOS: Look. I tend to shy away from taking somebody's kids away because of their political views. I mean, all you have to do is go over to the courthouse and watch them marching guys from prison through the courthouse in the jailhouse blues and give them the opportunity to make the case as to why they should not lose child custody. So if you can commit heinous crimes and still retain custody or at least have the visitation, I don't know why your thoughts should be a non-squitter. LEMON: You get the last word and right on time. And by the way,
people always think when I say I'm done. We are ending the show, see its 11:56 eastern. We often end the show three or four minutes before the top of the hour because we have to get a commercial break in. Some people just not so smart.
That's it for us tonight. Thanks for watching. I will see you right back here tomorrow.