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Don Lemon Tonight

CDC Shortens Isolation Period for Health Care Workers with COVID; FDA Authorizes Second Antiviral Pill to Treat COVID-19; How to Gather Safely This Holiday as COVID Cases Surge; Potter Guilty on All Counts in Fatal Shooting of Daunte Wright; Clock's Ticking for AG to Approve No One's Above the Law; House Panel Asks Supreme Court to Say by Mid-January whether It's Taking Trump's January 6 Records Case. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired December 23, 2021 - 22:00   ET



MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: And frankly I wish he'd been saying it a heck of a lot sooner. Then maybe he realizes now you know what, it's not only good for the country but there's a political upside as well because the base isn't going to go anywhere. Those are just my two cents.

Thank you so much for watching. I'll be back here on Monday night. Merry Christmas to everybody. Don Lemon Tonight start now with Laura Coates sitting in.

Hi, Laura.


I got to tell you. I - I can't get behind the Johnny-come-lately. You know it's hard for me to do so. It's hard for me to really embrace the epiphanies that it seems so obvious all along. I believe in giving credit where credit is due. I call balls and strikes. But I got to tell you, I like you wish that it had come much sooner because I'm looking at a death toll of more than 800,000 people and I'm thinking every moment counted, every comment counted, every time it still counts.

SMERCONISH: It never - it never made sense - yeah, it never made sense to me that he didn't lay claim, I think, appropriately so for Operation Warp Speed and continue to just say, it happened on my watch and we got it done in nine months. Why that hasn't been a consistent theme of his? I don't understand and doesn't make political sense. But I'm happy to have him aboard now.


SMERCONISH: Just I'm not forgetting, but I'm happy to have him aboard now. That's all.

COATES: I am, too. Because again, every single moment we remind people about the urgency and the vaccination and why it's so important it helps people, it helps the community, it helps the globe. And you're right, I never understood why you didn't put the feather in that cap.

I mean the idea of Operation Warp Speed, that could have been something. And some say had he embraced it sooner, it might have changed the dynamics of the election in 2020, but you know we can guess all day and read tea leaves. We know what's happening right now.

SMERCONISH: Laura, good to see you. Have a good show.

COATES: Good to see you, too. Thank you.

SMERCONISH: And Merry Christmas.

COATES: Merry Christmas, Michael Smerconish.

And this is "DON LEMON TONIGHT." I'm Laura Coates in for Don Lemon.

And tonight, the CDC is changing its guidelines for health care workers who test positive for COVID-19 just as the Omicron variant spreads quickly across the United States with now more than 164,000 new cases reported today alone. The agency is saying health care workers who test positive can return to work after seven days of isolation. Seven days instead of now 10 as long as they're asymptomatic and they are testing negative, of course. But so far, the new guidelines apply only to health care workers, not to the general public.

And also, today, the FDA authorizing a second pill to treat COVID-19, giving permission to Merck's antiviral pill. That's one day after authorizing Pfizer's pill. Now, both drugs are designed to treat mild to moderate COVID infections. You know, experts warn the best protection is prevention.

The Biden administration encouraging all Americans to get their vaccinations and their booster shots, and they're not alone. The former president, Trump, actually taking his strongest pro-vaccine stance yet and that isn't going unnoticed in the Biden White House.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We are grateful that the former president got the booster. We're also grateful that he made clear in a recent interview that they're effective and they're safe. We believe that, you know, the former president being out there and stating what is factually accurate about the efficacy of vaccines, of getting boosted which he recently did, of course, is a good thing.


COATES: Also, today, a jury in Minnesota finding former police officer Kim Potter guilty of two counts of manslaughter in the shooting death of Daunte Wright. She claimed she accidently drew her gun on Wright instead of her taser. Prosecutors argued Potter's actions were reckless and culpably negligent.

I want to start with the former president's surprising turn to publicly support vaccines this week. CNN medical analyst Dr. Jonathan Reiner and senior political analyst Ron Brownstein are both here.

Gentlemen, I'm glad to have you both here.

And I want to start with you, Dr. Reiner, because look, three times - three times this week, Trump has been very vocal about how much he supports the vaccine, and this latest time could be the strongest he's come out for them yet. Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The ones that get very sick and go to the hospital are the ones who don't take their vaccine, but it's still their choice. And if you take the vaccine you're protected. Look, the results of the vaccine are very good. And if you do get it, it's a very minor form. People aren't dying when they take the vaccine.


COATES: You know, that's quite a turn of events and some respect him for being very strong. I mean he famously didn't get vaccinated in public, which was really - I mean, Dr. Reiner, it was too bad because his support early on could have meant a lot more people getting the vaccine, but what did you think when you heard this today? What did you think when you heard it?

DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, I was glad to hear it, Laura, but I was struck by the fact that in the course of this year.


We just passed the one-year anniversary of the first vaccines given in the United States. And during this year, we lost half a million people in this country. And since vaccines were freely available to all age groups in the late spring, we've lost another 250,000.

So, those -- those people did not need to die. And during all that time we lost half a million people, the former president of the United States was largely mute. He had been vaccinated in secret, as you said. He had been boosted in secret. You hear public health officials, folks on this network every single night trying to gelt people to get vaccinated, and the former president took credit -- took personal credit for inventing these vaccines, essentially, was silent.

I don't know what has gotten him to speak out publicly. I welcome it, but where has he been when -- to use his inaugural quote -- there was American carnage for the last year. Where was he?

COATES: You know that's a great question, Ron, and of course we all can agree collectively, foundationally, it is good that he is promoting the vaccine. It is good that he's making the statements he is. But Dr. Reiner asked a very important question of why now. Where has he been? This is all well and good and you know, Trump was booed by his own supporters for just saying that he got the booster. I mean, listen to this for a second. He's booed when he admits it.


BILL O'REILLY, HOST, "NO SPIN NEWS": Both the president and I are vaxxed, and did you get the booster?


O'REILLY: I got it, too.

OK. So -

TRUMP: Oh, don't, don't, don't -- there's a very tiny group over there.


COATES: You know, what's important and what I hear about this is that he has been one of the -- if not one of the biggest purveyors of partisanship and mistrust over public health measures like the vaccine - I mean just few months ago he called the booster, quote, "a money grab." I mean you see now is he even able to set the record straight if he wanted to at this point?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: The short answer is no. I mean, as Dr. Reiner said, it's good that he's doing this now, better late than never, but the concrete has really hardened quite a bit on the Republican side.

I mean look at the Kaiser Family Foundation falling 90 percent of self-identified Democrats are vaccinated. Only 60 percent of Republicans are vaccinated. Even the vaccinated Republicans are much less like to say they're going to get the booster. A large share of the unvaccinated Republicans say they will never get the vaccine. The death rate that is triple, roughly triple in the most pro-Trump counties in 2020 compared to the most pro-Biden counties in 2020.

So, you know, it's good that he's speaking out now, but I think he's allowed this. And you know not only allowed it but kind of you know his allies in the conservative kind of media ecosystem actively encourage suspicion of the vaccine, and we are where we are.

I mean, probably the biggest single -- the biggest single challenge we have in getting control of this is how much not only red America but predominantly red America that refuses to get vaccinated, and that is something that, you know, it's awful late to try to undo at this point.

COATES: Well, that's the perils of propaganda, right? It's hard to unring the bell even when you yourself want the sound to be silent.

I mean, Dr. Reiner, we've talked about what the past president has done and what he's doing now or should be doing more of. But I want to talk about the current president of the United States, Joe Biden. I want to talk about these current surges in cases because President Biden, he is being critiqued and pushed on being behind the ball when it comes to Omicron. Listen to this.


DAVID MUIR, ABC HOST: We're nearly two years into this pandemic, you're a year into the presidency, empty shelves and no test kits in some places three days before Christmas when it's so important. Is that good enough?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, nothing's been good enough.


COATES: I mean Omicron hasn't been in the country for what a month now as far as we know, and it's already wreaking this much havoc. So, is the criticism of Biden's response, is it fair? Is it justified? Or could he really not have predicted this? What do you think?

REINER: Well, I don't think the president could have predicted that Omicron would arise here three weeks ago with such ferocity. It's been widely predicted that we would see more variants.

COATES: Right.

REINER: And there was concern that we would have variants that would have immune escape. But that's not really the criticism I have for this administration. The criticism I have is that they have passed up the opportunity to do bold things.

If we're trying to get more people vaccinated, this administration chose not to instill a flight mandate, a domestic flight mandate for vaccines. This administration in October had discussed putting enormous effort into rapid tests.


700 million tests per month, getting tests all over the country into everyone's home, and they turned that down. So there have been several missed opportunities, and they really have appeared now to be flat- footed when this very, very transmissible variant has come to this country.

So now they have to play catch-up. They've been basically putting all their eggs in the vaccine basket, having trouble getting the full country vaccinated and have neglected testing. And now we see the importance of testing in this country.

COATES: Well, we'll say you know I think people put, and Ron, tell me if you agree. You know the polls best. But I have the feeling and the impression that it was just expected. That once the vaccines let alone three vaccines, an embarrassment of the richest and frankly any country, that you have three vaccines, three viable once, the expectation and assumption was that everyone would leap to get them. Once they were here, people would want to get them.

Is it kind of been a miscalculation to assume that's the case when you've gone from vaccine hesitancy to vaccine reluctance to outright vaccine refusal? I mean tell us about the polling here, because we've got the latest Gallup polling has Biden's approval at 43 percent. So, are his accomplishments being overshadowed by this pandemic not going away? Is the factor of people viewing what he's done as Dr. Reiner said as perhaps being flat-footed? Is it a combination? What do you think?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, a lot of different questions there.

First of all --

COATES: You can handle them all, Ron Brownstein. You can get all of the question at once. You got this.


BROWNSTEIN: Yes. I would agree with that --

Look, they put - they put their effort predominantly into marshaling all the resources of the federal government to produce and distribute the vaccine in mass quantities. I don't think we would have seen anything like the coordinated level of effort that we have watched over the past year in terms of making the vaccine available in a Trump administration. They would have not used the tools of federal power as aggressively to make the vaccine available.

Where they probably miscalculated was on the death of ideological resistance to the vaccine that it's going to develop primarily in red America. And they have been reluctant to take steps that would provoke that resistance. In particular, the one that he mentioned of requiring proof of vaccination for interstate travel including getting on a flight.

Now they have kind of moved toward a more aggressive posture with the mandates for health care workers and large employers, but that triggered exactly the kind of reaction we're talking about with coalitions of Republican states many of which have the highest caseloads, high death rates, going to court and successfully so far stymieing their effort to impose these mandates. And ultimately, it's going to be the Supreme Court, the six Republican appointed justice is on the Supreme Court to decide how far they can go.

The biggest reason for I believe the decline in his approval rating is, Laura, the shattering of the expectation that people had in the spring that once we had the vaccine, we're on a glide path to return to normalcy. And the Delta wave of upending that and kind of creating this uneasy, open ended you know kind of structure where we don't know where and how this is going to end. I think that is the biggest weight over the Biden administration. And it's hard to see him fully recovering until the vaccine gets under -- until the virus gets under control, which is in turn the key to getting probably inflation and the economy more straightened out as well.

COATES: Well, a wait for the presidency sort of domically is for people who are eager to have a sense of normalcy. And I wonder, gentlemen, is it about being flatfooted in the administration or us as a society wanting to go back that we rested on our laurels.

Gentlemen, nice talking to both of you. Thanks for joining the show. Merry Christmas.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you. Merry Christmas.

REINER: Same to you.

COATES: Thank you.

Now I want to bring in Dr. Esther Choo. She's a professor of Emergency Medicine at Oregon Health and Science University.

Dr. Choo, I'm glad to see you here as well. Thank you for joining the show.

I want to dig right in here because let's talk practicalities. What people need to know to really keep themselves safe this Christmas and into the new year's? I mean, not every case of COVID has symptoms, but I'm going to put up a list on the screen here of some very typical symptoms we hear about. There's scratchy or sore throat, nasal congestion, dry cough and muscle pain. What should people be looking for, Dr. Choo?

DR. ESTHER CHOO, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, OREGON HEALTH AND SCIENCE UNIVERSITY: Yeah, I think any and all of those things particularly the upper respiratory symptoms that were listed and fever. And if people are having symptoms, they need to get tested, and they need to avoid gathering with others in the holiday. And I will tell you there is so much momentum once you have plans in place that paying attention to symptoms and pulling back is incredibly hard. I think there's just a strong psychological inclination to ignore it or dismiss it and say it's just allergies or just dry air.


And I think it's really key, to pay attention to those symptoms. Understand that those particularly right now as Omicron is spreading so quickly those are likely to be symptoms of COVID and take a pause and reconsider any plans.

COATES: I mean of those symptoms you know we are still in flu season. How do people juggle and reconcile or acknowledge the difference? Is that just a matter of by default assume COVID-19 and be delighted if it's just the flu? Is that where we are?

CHOO: I think practically speaking that is what we need to do. I mean, flu is also not something -

COATES: Right.

CHOO: -- that's great to take into a party. And other viruses are not great to take into a party. So, I think one way or the other if you're symptomatic not attending particularly indoor gatherings with a lot of people. But, yeah, I think particularly -- right now there's so much advice about testing, but as you discussed with your previous guests, tests are simply not available.

So, it may take a little bit of work to get to a test that can confirm yes, this is COVID or, no, it's not COVID. And so, I think practically speaking with symptoms before we're able to get to a test, usually it's serial testing that we need to do because it can take some days after symptoms for a COVID test to turn positive. We need to assume the worst and keep people safe around us.

COATES: Serial testing meaning taking one test on one day and then several days later the symptoms taking more tests? Is that what you're talking about?

CHOO: Yeah, exactly. I mean, especially you know how rapidly Omicron spreads, it's - you know the big question right now is when you have a test and it's a negative test, how long is that good for? You know, so I think the mistake we've made with testing is sometimes say I have a negative test so three days later, I'm really good to go to this Christmas party or to get on this plane. And that is clearly too long of an interval. And really with Omicron we need to be considering a test will tell you something about that day.

And if you know if we are concerned at all about COVID, if we've been exposed particularly if we have symptoms or for going into a kind of high risk setting where transmission is likely, we need to get a test as close as possible to that event in order to feel really secure that we're not going to go in and spread COVID.

COATES: And Dr. Choo thinking of planes and speaking of them United Airlines actually announcing tonight that they've canceled more than 100 flights because of Omicron cases within their staff - within their staff by the way. So, what precautions to people they take if they're flying to see family, knowing that it's not just what they personally may be exposed to, but the staffing on planes, other people who may not be as cautious or prudent or perhaps considerate. What can they do to ensure that they're safe?

CHOO: Yeah, the lack of a vaccine requirement and also people's inconsistent adherence to masking on planes I have to say is one of the more upsetting things, because I feel like this could be a much more safer activity than it currently is in the holidays. And I will say the number one thing I am asked, you know, that people are calling me for and texting me for is should I get on this plane.

And I will say, you know, I think masking very consistently, having high quality well-fitting masks KN95s or N95s if you can get your hands on them. Really trying to eat and drink before you get on the plane so that you're not constantly pulling off your masks in order to do those things.

I think being - I told people be a little bit of a jerk if you need to. Speak up when you see those around you not wearing masks. This is not a time to be polite and let people do what they feel like doing. It's really about keeping everyone safe.

And so, I think masking needs to be really consistent, and it needs to be enforced. And I also tell people who have high risk conditions, who are older, who have not gotten boosted to really be considerate of long flights especially. So, I've gotten calls from people who have little kids who are not eligible for vaccination or haven't managed to get their booster, who are hesitating before they get on these long international flights or flights across the country that are six hours or more and kind of discouraging people or having them think very carefully about -- about the risk that they're taking. There is just a risk calculus to all of this, and the longer the flight, you know, the higher risk to the individual, the more carefully we need to pause before we take those trips.

COATES: Dr. Choo, very prudent advice. You know what we can control we should be proactive about controlling. And you know in some respects I wonder if we should follow the protocols in our minds individually that we did as if there were not a vaccine, the idea thinking how to be cautious in public settings and of course do the right thing in terms of what we need to be proactive about as well.

Dr. Choo, thank you for your time and advice. I appreciate it.

CHOO: Thanks so much, Laura.

COATES: Thank you.

Now, a jury finding the former police officer who shot Daunte Wright guilty on two counts of manslaughter. Daunte Wright's father speaks out next.



COATES: Former police officer Kim Potter is in custody tonight, found guilty of manslaughter in the death of 20-year-old Daunte Wright.


REGINA CHU, JUDGE: We, the jury, on the charge of manslaughter in the first degree while committing a misdemeanor on or about April 11, 2021, in Hennepin County, state of Minnesota, find the defendant guilty.

We, the jury, on the charge of manslaughter in the second-degree culpable negligence on or about April 11, 2021, in Hennepin County, state of Minnesota, find the defendant guilty.


COATES: The jury coming to that decision after more than 27 hours of deliberation over four days. Now it's important to remember this all started with a traffic stop. Potter said she meant to deploy her taser but fired her gun instead.

Joining me now Arbuey Wright, Daunte Wright's father, and Antonio Romanucci, an attorney for the Wright family.

Gentlemen, thank you for being here. Sir, I want to start with you, Mr. Wright, because I think in instances like this it's very painful, I'm sure that your son's life is being thought of only as it relates to Kim Potter and how it ended.


Can you just take a moment to tell us about your son and remind us of how special he was to you and your family and still is?

ARBUEY WRIGHT, DAUNTE WRIGHT'S FATHER: Daunte was very special to us. You know, we -- we loved Daunte, and he loved us with all of our heart. You know, it's sad that his name was associated with the Kim Potter trial. He meant a lot to us.

COATES: I can see that. I'm the mother of a son myself, and I know that you think of Daunte, you and your wife, it was your first child together. And you have two other children as well, and I'm just very sorry, and I just want to convey that, full stop. I'm very sorry on what you're experiencing especially this time of year and what you must be going through, sir.

And, of course, there was celebration in part in the streets of Minneapolis after this verdict was read, but I'd love for you to tell me what you were thinking when you heard this verdict of guilty on both counts, Mr. Wright?

WRIGHT: Oh, man. What was I thinking? I was thinking, thank you, God. You know, it's been -- it's been months and months of waiting and praying, you know, hoping that, wishing and praying for the best. So, you know I was -- we were very happy. Although it's not we're going to bring Daunte back, it gives us a little hope. It makes us feel a little bit better knowing that, you know, we're one step closer. You know, there is a lot of people that didn't get this type of justice that we got today, so -- and it was -- it was unbelievable. It was really -- you know, it was a happy moment for us.

COATES: Sir, it's -- it's very profound to have you think about other people who have been denied justice even with thinking about what's happened to your son. I'd love to ask you, Antonio, because what were you thinking? Because the jury, of course, asked earlier what would happen if they couldn't reach a consensus? Was that a moment when you thought there was a potential that this would not end, not only in a guilty verdict but maybe even a hung jury?

ANTONIO ROMANUCCI, ATTORNEY TO DAUNTE WRIGHT'S FAMILY: Well, there's no question that thought went through my mind. But now that we have the benefit of hindsight what we really know happened is that there were two deliberations that happened. We had the first one on the first where we know that they reached a verdict on Tuesday. And then they began anew their deliberations after they held the gun. They asked to see the gun, and they held it. And they made the determination that a reasonable police officer, someone with 26 years' experience ought to have known that she was holding a gun and not a taser especially when she was gun-ready and held the gun for over six seconds. COATES: Mr. Wright, I see you shaking your head. I mean that idea, the idea of mistaking the firearm for a taser, what was your reaction when you saw Kim Potter crying on the stand? What was going through your mind? I know the nation was really thinking about you and your family and wondering what your reaction and feelings were in that moment.

WRIGHT: What was going through my mind, honestly, I just couldn't believe the fact that you know this lady would get on the stand and -- and cry with no tears coming down. You know that kind of bothered us all. It was just unbelievable that it just happened like that, like, whoa. Never once said sorry to, you know, my wife.

COATES: Really? So, when she said and she made the statement on the stand that she was very sorry, was that the first time you had heard Kim Potter express that sorrow to you and your family?

WRIGHT: If you go back and listen to it, she didn't really express that sorrow to me and my family.

COATES: Right.

WRIGHT: It was more of a -- to us it was more of a sorry that, you know, that it happened. And she never once said that she was sorry to the family or nothing like that. I didn't hear that. Sorry.

COATES: Would that mean something to you? I mean obviously there's going to be sentencing in this case, and either one of you can jump in. I'd love to hear from you, Mr. Wright, though, on this. She'll be sentenced I believe in February.

What will you say? Do you have any idea? You'll be asked to make a victim impact statement, I'm sure, about what this has been like. This is the first Christmas without your son. There will be many days to follow as well, and I'm sure you as family are going to remember his spirit and honor that. What do you think should happen in terms of her sentence?


WRIGHT: Truth be told, I think -- you know, I would like her to be held to the highest accountability that she can be, held to the max if you ask me. You know because I truly feel like there's no sentence that she can get that will be as punishable as the sentence that we have already. You know, she -- no matter what she gets it's going to be a light at the end of the tunnel for her. We're going to spend the rest of our lives without Daunte. We're never going to see Daunte again, the most hurtful thing in the world. So, if you ask me, I would probably say life. But, you know, that's not my decision to make.

COATES: Yes, and of course the statute requires something perhaps different than that. Mr. Wright, Antonio, thank you for your time tonight.

And again, sir, I'm sorry for what has happened. I'm sorry for the loss. And thank you for allowing us to hear through your words, your memory of your son and what he continues to mean to your family. I'm thankful for that.

WRIGHT: Thank you.

COATES: Thank you.

ROMANUCCI: Thank you, Laura. Good night.

COATES: Good night, gentlemen.

What's this verdict mean for Kim Potter's future and the future of law enforcement across the country? Stay with us.



COATES: Kim Potter, the former Minnesota police officer who drew a gun instead of a taser and fatally shot Daunte Wright during a traffic stop found guilty by a Minnesota jury of first and second-degree manslaughter.

Let's discuss now with CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson.

Joey, good to see you.

We were just talking about this case. We know it's not about intent, and the jury made the decision based on what was proven by the prosecution. What's your reaction?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah, Laura, good to be with you.

You know this is a very big deal. When you analyze and look at the jury, you know, six men and six women, nine who are white, two who are Asian, only one African American woman, that gave a lot of people pause, right? It gave people pause because of the nature of that jury. But I think it goes to demonstrate that accountability can be found no matter the color of the jury, no matter the fact that, you know, they may not be of the same hue as the person who's sitting in that defendant chair.

This is a big step for that reason. And also, as it relates to police accountability. We saw a police officer be held accountable on a George Floyd case we're seeing a police officer to being held accountable here.

And I just think that you know when you look at what the jury did and what the jury analyzed over the course of time, of course getting the verdict as we now know at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday for the second degree, that's the negligent charge. And then taking two more days, Laura, Wednesday to Thursday, today to get the first-degree charge. I think it's a significant step in the right direction. This is what equal protection under the law really looks like.

COATES: And after the verdict, Joey, was read, a female jury was seen shaking and crying. This decision must have taken the toll on the jury. I mean the idea of this feeling I'm sure of wanting perhaps to be sympathetic to what Kim Potter talked about on the stand and knowing that intent was never a factor at all.

JACKSON: You know, as you know being the great prosecutor that you are and were, you know this is a very difficult thing. We are asking a lot of jurors because we ask them to put away the sympathy. Don't take that at all into what your deliberations are. Look at the law. Look at the facts as you know them to be. You have a duty notwithstanding anything that you may feel. You may be able to connect with someone but can you notwithstanding the fact you can relate to the fact that she may be remorseful. She may be sympathetic. Did she commit a crime?

And I think this jury concluded that based upon her 26 years of training, based upon the fact that not only was she trained but she trained others, based upon the design of both the taser and the location with respect to the firearm on the dominant right and the taser on the nondominant, you should know better. And they concluded that equates to recklessness and negligence.

And so, in summing that up, Laura. Yes, the juror was shaking. Yes, the juror was upset. Yes, the juror you know really, really felt it because that's what doing your duty feels like when you're trying to do the right thing. And you may have that sympathy, but you know what the law says and the law compels you to reach a result, and that's what happened here.

COATES: And not to mention, we talk a lot about the sympathy and the assumptions we make as a society about her crying on the stand, weather that evoked sympathy from the jury. But it could also be the case and it seems it was they were also sympathetic to the loss of the life that was Daunte Wright, the idea of the tragic accident whether it may be or not, they found that it you know was still criminal, that it was still criminal conduct and required accountability.

So, you know the idea of focusing on Kim Potter is one thing. I know you and have talked about this but it's also the idea of the impact on the life that was lost because of it.

Joey Jackson, thank you to you for coming back to the show. I appreciate you.

JACKSON: Thank you, Laura. I appreciate you more. Happy holidays.

COATES: Thank you. Happy holidays.

Now, he was meant to restore justice to the DOJ, but look, the clock is ticking for Attorney General Merrick Garland to prove that no one is above the law. I'll make my case next.



COATES: When Merrick Garland first became the attorney general of the United States people were very optimistic about what that would mean. The president who nominated him spoke of his intention to fight for the soul of the nation, Attorney General Garland it seemed intended to fight for the soul of the Justice Department. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The only way we can succeed and retain the trust of the American people is to adhere to the norms that have become part of the DNA of every Justice Department employee since Edward Levi's stint as the first post-Watergate Attorney General.

Those norms require that like cases be treated alike. That there not be one rule for Democrats and another for Republicans; One rule for friends and another for foes; One rule for the powerful and another for the powerless; One rule for the rich and another for the poor; Or different rules depending upon one's race or ethnicity.


COATES: To restore the credibility of a department criticized as political under the prior administration, to show the people that it was not a political arm of the president, that justice was blind, and it was accountability that mattered, not your politics. The time was now to restore public confidence that no one was above the law.


But the timing decisions of Attorney General Garland have proven to be the great adversary of public confidence. About time has given way to what's taken so long? Patience seems to be running out for many Americans who are eager for proof that a restoration to apolitical doesn't mean a reversion to inaction. It's one thing to be cautiously contemplative. It's another thing to be become paralyzed with paranoia about how you might be perceived.

Now, don't get me wrong. Proving prosecution requires contemplation, not knee-jerk reactions. After all, the credibility of the department also depends on its ability to meet its burden of proof inside the courtroom, not to satisfy the jury in the court of public opinion. And fulfilling a campaign promise for the sake of politics, well, that shouldn't even factor into the equation. And that credibility ought not to be exploited. Even with a presumption of innocence we know that when a person is charged with a crime people often assume the government wouldn't prosecute unless it had proof.

For that reason alone, prosecutors have to be cautious about how they wield power. Developing a case, that takes time. And decisions cannot be made lightly. But the clock is ticking. Not because of a midterm election or because of an anniversary of an insurrection or because of the media's appetite for information. No, the clock is ticking because there's an expiration date to public confidence, and it's always sooner than you think.

Next from the White House Council John Dean is here. Former President Trump trying as hard as he can to keep the committee investigating the insurrection from getting documents from his last days in office. Will he be successful? We'll talk about that with John Dean next.


COATES: The January 6th Committee asking the Supreme Court to decide by mid-January if it will take up former President Trump's White House records case. This coming just hours after Trump asked the court to block the release of about 700 pages of the records because two lower courts rejected his claims already of executive privilege.

Joining me now, former Nixon White House counsel John Dean, he's CNN contributor and author of the book "Authoritarian Nightmare: Trump and His Followers."

John Dean, good to see you again my friend.

I first want to ask you about attorney general Garland. Because so far, we've seen no sign from the DOJ of any criminal investigation into January 6th aside from obviously looking at the people who they're prosecuting for their actions going into the actual Capitol. What do you want to see from Merrick Garland at this time?

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it is hard to think nothing has leaked out if they are looking to flip people, if they're trying to get up on the ladder to the higher ranks. But there is no indication of that, Laura. Your commentary is right on. I think people are very restless. I think they don't want to see this just pass by the way. And I think he'll have to answer to this at some point. How soon, I don't know.

COATES: You know one of the things that's happening, and we learned tonight that Congressman Bennie Thompson, he was the chair of the committee was talking to "The Washington Post" this evening and telling them the committee's focused on Trump's hours of silence during the attack. And he says, quote, "That dereliction of duty causes us real concern. And one of those concerns is that whether or not it was intentional, and whether or not the lack of attention for that longer period of time, would warrant a referral."

Now, CNN is reporting a criminal referral would be a long way off, but this would be historic if they did refer Trump to the DOJ. I mean, what actions from the former president would warrant an open criminal investigation in your mind? Is it that lapse of time before he ordered some coordinated effort to help and stop?

DEAN: It could well be the time during which the riot was taking place and he clearly could have taken action, but he sat on his hands and his aides knew that and there's one of them who's willing to come forward and say, yeah. He decided to sit on his hands for whatever reason.

It could also well be the build-up, Laura. There were well laid plans for this. We don't know how deep they went into the White House. We're beginning to see signs of some people are talking about it who are taking plea deals. And so, I think that there is a case that can be made that he might well have had long advance notice of this. We just don't know these facts at this point. And that's obviously something this investigation will never be settled until we know what Trump knew, when he knew it, and what he did about it.

COATES: And that's of course one of the reasons why there is this quest in the investigation for transparency to find out the information, to answer the questions you've said not just about Trump but other people as well. So, what do you think about the former president asking the Supreme Court to block the National Archives from turning over his White House records?

I mean, will he get what he wants? You know very well of course that the Supreme Court ruled against Nixon in something similar.

DEAN: They sure did. 8-0, as a matter of fact, with the Rehnquist recusing himself. It would otherwise probably would have been 9-0 but he felt he was too closely connected to the case.


You know I -- we don't know what the court will do. The law certainly favors the committee to get this information. You've got a sitting president who is declaring no executive privilege, you've got a Congress who wants the information, you got two branches agreeing that they should have the information.

It's just -- it would be a real reach for the court to figure out some way to carve out something for a former president to claim privilege in these circumstances particularly when it could involve misbehavior. I was most surprised, Laura, on the brief that was filed today by the House asking to expedite the proceedings that Trump agreed to that. He along - he was asked obviously and said he doesn't oppose it. He must think he's got a case or that it is pay day time for his justices he appointed and they're going to give him a gift.

I don't think that's the case. I don't think they will.


COATES: He risked - you know - as you know - as you know, hubris is dangerous particularly when the Supreme Court already has some precedent behind it.

John Dean, thank you so much. I appreciate your time.

DEAN: Thank you, Laura.

COATES: Also, thank you all for watching tonight. Our coverage continues.