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Trump Reversing Guidelines on Using Race in Admissions; Judge Dismisses Students' Case Against Detroit Schools; Trump Orders Flags Lowered for "Capital Gazette" Victims; Oprah: "A Presidential Run Would Kill Me". Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired July 3, 2018 - 14:30   ET



[14:34:05] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: We are learning that President Trump is planning to dismantle another Obama-era policy, this on affirmative action. This is according to a source familiar with the president's plan. The Obama-era policy that laid out legal guidelines for any schools looking to use race as an admissions factor to promote diversity on campus. A Justice Department spokesperson tells CNN, quote, "The executive branch cannot circumvent Congress or the courts by creating guidance that goes beyond the law. The Justice Department remains committed to protecting all Americans from all forms of illegal race-based discrimination."

So we'll start there. I have with me defense attorney, Sara Azari, and civil rights attorney, Charles Coleman Jr.

Great to see both of you guys.


To you first. I've seen you the longest. I'll start with you, just on if the school wants to still use affirmative action in their admissions, they still can, correct?

CHARLES COLEMAN JR, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Absolutely. The law has not changed which is why this is very interesting as far as a political play from this administration. The law on affirmative action has not changed. The Supreme Court has not struck down affirmative action. The last case before the court, Justice Kennedy did -- now retiring --

[14:35:11] BALDWIN: He left it open.

COLEMAN: Did leave it open. He did leave it open. But it has not changed. So we need to be very clear about that, it has not changed.

What these guidelines from this prior administration did was simply explain to schools how they can most easily and most directly use affirmative action with respect to their admissions. What this current administration is attempting to do is basically to suggest that the Obama administration made it easier for affirmative action to be applied during admissions when, in fact, it did not. The law hasn't changed. And this is in many respects smoke and mirrors and a political play by the Trump administration.

BALDWIN: On the political play, we were talking to Joan Biskupic about whoever the president selects as his nominee. They obviously have to go through the confirmation process for the Supreme Court. But how about all of that swirling affect this?

AZARI: Well, look, let me just first say that this, that this administration has a great disdain for diversity. I mean, what is happening here is very consistent with what the Trump administration has been doing. You've got the border, brown people coming in, there are M.S.-13, they are criminals. You have people in Charlottesville, the white supremacists, who were fine people, as described by Donald Trump. And now you have a way by which they are trying to get rid of diversity on college campuses. So I think this is absolutely consistent. It is a trend that we've been seeing.

And again, I agree with Charles in that the Supreme Court has twice upheld affirmative action. This is good law. So what they are doing is essentially, you know, a political attack.

COLEMAN: And I want to piggyback on that. This administration has branded itself on two major things. And they are both different but related, especially in this instance. First thing is let's reverse any and everything that President Obama was able to accomplish --

AZARI: Right.

COLEMAN: -- in his eight years in office. And the second thing is let's appeal to our base by playing upon their fears on this attack on --


AZARI: Right. It's like make America white again and is what is happening here. And anything from the Trump (sic) era is bad, even if it is working.

COLEMAN: So conversations about diversity --


BALDWIN: Yes. We don't have someone on the other end to argue against you guys. But I hear you and your opinions on that.


BALDWIN: But I want to get to Detroit because I want to make time for what is happening to these kids in Detroit. This is another huge education headline. A judge dismissed this case. This was a case brought on by the students themselves suing educational officials in Michigan saying that they were denied access to a quality education. And they pointed to the schools, the overcrowded class rooms, lack of textbooks, mold, rodents, did have pens. I think there was even one- eighth grader who said he had to teach 7th and 8th grade math for a month because they couldn't find a teacher. Last year, the state moved for dismissal arguing the 14th Amendment contains no reference to literacy and then last week the U.S. district judge agreed with the state on that.

AZARI: Horrible ruling. Horrible ruling that should be appealed because the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment doesn't talk specifically about literacy, but it says states cannot deny equal access and opportunity to education. And what this judge is saying, yes, literacy is very important. It is a 40-page ruling. He acknowledges the importance of literacy but --


BALDWIN: But it is not up to the state to make sure kids are literate?

AZARI: Exactly.


AZARI: He said so long as the schools run. And that is the question. You have a warehouse that is chaotic, filled with roaches, extreme temperatures, no books, no teaches. How is this a school? You can call it a school, but it's not --


COLEMAN: What he did in the decision was he essentially made it a matter of functioning.


AZARI: Right. Right.

COLEMAN: All he is saying, you just need to turn it on. How it works or whether it works or how effectively it works is not up to the state --


COLEMAN: -- which is really --


BALDWIN: And -- hang on. Hang on.

I had to read this through to try to understand. If it is not up to the states to make sure that the kids are literate, if they're in public schools, then whose job is it?

AZARI: It is up to the states, but you he is saying they did their job. But provided schools.


BALDWIN: They're clearly not doing their job.

AZARI: They clearly not -- they clearly don't have equal access to education because these are the schools in low-income black neighborhoods.

COLEMAN: And to that point, we cannot ignore the racial element to this story and this decision.


COLEMAN: DPS, Detroit public schools, right now has a population of over 80 percent black students. And 20 percent of their overall student populations is on IEP, individual education programs.


COLEMAN: That requires them to have a bit more assistance, whether they have behavioral issues, or whatever they have, academic learning challenges. This population that is being marginalized in this direction, in this way by this decision, this is not by accident. This is intentional. If this were the other way around, if DPS had 80 percent of white students that were underperforming in the manner that has been described by these plaintiffs in this case, you better believe that Secretary of Education DeVos would be on a private plane to land in Detroit and figure out what was going on. So when you talk about this decision, you can't ignore the racial element and its impact on what's going on.

[14:40:13] So quickly, what happens to the kids.

AZARI: These kids, they can appeal the ruling? And I think they should.

COLEMAN: Absolutely.

AZARI: To a higher court. This was, you know, a U.S. district court. They would have to go to the court of appeals. Because I think it is a completely erroneous ruling. The judge is going through and explaining the importance of literacy in education, but then saying the state has done their job.

COLEMAN: And looking down the line, from a political perspective, this actually plays into what this administration plans to do in terms of pushing the notion of school choice. Because when public schools fail, the idea is, well, if you your school is not performing, you, as a parent, should have the option to put it out. The reality is that choice is a fallacy for so many of the people who are affected by this decision.

BALDWIN: Charles Coleman Jr, thank you.

Sara Azari, thank you so much as well.

AZARI: Thank you.

BALDWIN: On both of those stories.

Next, chilling new details on the investigation into the newsroom shooting in Annapolis, Maryland. We're learning about multiple threatening letters allegedly sent by the suspect before Thursday's attack. New details next.


[14:45:48] BALDWIN: The Maryland woman who says she was cyber stalked by the "Capital Gazette" shooting suspect is speaking out and recounting the nightmare she endured from his constant verbal attacks. During an interview with NBC, she explains why she was forced to file a complaint against her former classmate. She said she feared for her life for years and asked not to be identified.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would be afraid that if he could show up anywhere at any time and kill me.

I have been tormented and traumatized and terrorized for so long that it has I think changed the fiber of my being.

He said, "F you, go kill yourself. You're going to need a protective order."

He is very cold. He is very calculated. He is very intelligent.

One thing that I do feel now is that he can no longer silence me.


BALDWIN: Meantime, CNN has learned that the suspect allegedly sent multiple threatening letters before last Thursday's deadly attack. These letters, dated the same day of the shooting ,were sent to a Baltimore judge, a Maryland court, the newspaper's lawyer from the suspect's lawyer from the 2012 defamation case against the paper. The suspect wrote that he wanted to kill every person present at the "Gazette" that day.

Also today, flags are flying at half-staff at the White House in honor of the victims. The president made the order after a request from the Annapolis mayor, but that was after the mayor's request had allegedly first been rejected.

So let's set the record straight. Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley is with me.

Mr. Mayor, my deepest condolences to your community and these family members.

But let's get this straight. So back up. Tell me when you asked the flags to be flown at half-staff from the White House, and how long you had to wait to get that green light.

GAVIN BUCKLEY, (D), ANNAPOLIS MAYOR: Brooke, thanks for having me. Thanks for staying on this story.

We made the request probably on Friday. I mean, we had done it through the governor's office, through the county executive, through any Senators that we knew that we would like the president to grant permission to take the flag to half-mast or half-staff. You know, I didn't know the protocol. I thought that was just something that I could do as a mayor, but we found out that wasn't true. So we understood that maybe the lines of communication might have been down over the weekend, so we waited for the weekend to pass, and then we waited throughout Monday. And then on Monday afternoon, we were told that it had not been -- it wasn't going to happen. So obviously things were very raw for us still. We're very sensitive. We're not trying to blame anybody particularly, but this community needs to heal and it needs to see that we care. And they don't know the protocol on a flag, they just see that it is not at half-staff.

BALDWIN: So hang on a second, Mayor Buckley. So you wait, you put the request in Friday, you wait Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and you were denied. What was the explanation to that first denying of honoring these victims by putting the flags by half-staff?

BUCKLEY: It just came through one of the Senator's offices to say that the White House has denied the application. And I think that probably the way that it really got through to the president is he probably saw it on the news. So here is the news or the media or the journalism that was under attack last Thursday, but they are doing their job, they got the message out. And I think when the president saw it, he knew it was the right thing to do.

BALDWIN: So are you satisfied now with the president's response?

BUCKLEY: You know, it's going to take a long time for this community to heal, but I think every little bit helps. The parade tomorrow will help. Seeing the flags at half-mast, seeing the outpouring of love, I think that all helps those journalists and families get back on their feet.

[14:49:56] BALDWIN: I want to talk to you about tomorrow because it is a day of celebration for this country, a day that honors America. I know there will be parades throughout this country, including in your beautiful city of Annapolis. And can you just tell me how you all will be honoring these journalists and how all of us should be mindful?

BUCKLEY: We would like as many people to come out as possible just to show caring for the journalists that went through a think that is every city's worst nightmare, is what happened to us. But what is incredible, these journalists went on and they went back to work pretty immediately, got a paper out the next day. I mean, it showed tremendous courage to do that after what happened to their newsroom. And so they are part of our family. They are people that we know in the community. And then the first responders who didn't know what they were running in to but went in there and forced this guy to drop his weapon. When he heard the footsteps, he, like a coward, threw his weapon down. So this gives us a chance to thank those first responders and to show the journalists that we have their backs. "Capital" alumni will be there walking with them and we expect one of our biggest parades ever.

BALDWIN: And we with you, if not actually there, certainly in spirit, keeping all in our hearts and our minds. Mayor Gavin Buckley, in Annapolis, thank you, sir, so very much.

BUCKLEY: Thank you so much.

BALDWIN: Just in, a prominent Republican congressman denying accusations that he ignored allegations of molestation and sexual assault when he worked at Ohio State University. We have new details on that ahead.

Also next, Oprah reveals why she won't run for president in 2020. Her most candid remarks yet.


[14:56:18] BALDWIN: "A presidential run would kill me," those words from Oprah Winfrey speaking to British "Vogue." Since a rousing speech at the Golden Globes when she had the audience on their feet, vowing a new day is on the horizon, how many wondered would she run?

Let's discuss all things Oprah and this gorgeous cover shoot with British "Vogue" with CNN political commentator, Symone Sanders.

Obviously, Oprah, it is a wow every time. It is more than the photos. Let me get the whole quote, Symone, and then we'll get you on the other side. She says, asked about a 2020 run, "In that political structure, all the nontruths, the bull (EXPLETIVE DELETED), the crap, the nastiness, back-handed backroom stuff that goes on, I feel like I could not exist. I would not be able to do it." Run for president. "It is not a clean business. It would kill me."

Do you think she's right?

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely. First of all, Oprah looks gorgeous on the cover of British vogue.


SANDERS: Please, can I give some British "Vogue" cover girl a shout- out to Mother O.


SANDERS: But secondly, look, Oprah is right. I'm not surprised. Politics is a hard-fought game. I like to say it is a contact sport. And for someone who --


BALDWIN: You are in it.

SANDERS: I love it. I'm in it. But it is a contact sport. It gets dirty. It sometimes gets messy. And if you thought 2016 was bad, 2020 is going to be even worse. There will be 15, 16 different people that decide to throw their name in the hat to run for president on the Democratic side and you would be running against Donald Trump, who we all know plays by zero rules. The bar is never too low for him. And I just think Oprah is being very candid about the climate and that she doesn't want to subject herself to that. I don't blame here. I'd like Oprah to run for president, and I'm trying to be her press secretary, but you know, a girl can dream.

BALDWIN: You're a press secretary, get into British "Vogue" yourself. I mean, hello, everything was beautiful about it.

And she was also asked is about the "Me Too" movement and "Time's Up," and she says, "People talk about how these are dark times, but what if we shift the paradigm because I see it differently." She says, "I say isn't this remarkable that we're waking up." She looks at it almost seems like glass half full and says because of what has happened. And I talk to so many women who would say the same thing. Because of all of this, we are all waking up, which is a good thing.

SANDERS: Isn't it remarkable, Brooke? To be frank, there are people that were already woke. Folks that is been working on to combat what has been happening for a while. Tarana Burke was one of the original architects of the "Me Too" movement. Anita Hill, who is a mother, of "Me Too." But I'm so glad that so many people feel like this is their fight and are stepping in to do something about it. Donna Brazil once told me, she says, under the Reagan administration, we got the King holiday and helped end apartheid. So while times may seem bleak now for a lot of people, but you could argument what could we accomplish in these times. I think the "Me Too" movement, the surge of women, the women's' march, folks popping up all over the country to step in and take their place in not just the political arena, but politics, media, everywhere in between, one could argue that is a bright spot in this moment.

BALDWIN: Symone Sanders, you are a leader as well.

Thank you so much. Thanks.

Let's move on and start here this next hour. You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me.

Let's begin with new reaction to a story we first brought you a while ago, this prominent Republican congressman accused of ignoring allegations of molestation and sexual assault at a major American university.

Jean Casarez is on this.

Jean, we're talking about Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan, used to work at Ohio State before he got into politics. Tell me what you know.

[15:00:03] JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. He was an assistant coach in the wrestling department.