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Don Lemon Tonight

Pat Cipollone Agreed To Testify To January 6th Committee; A Rare Random Audit By The IRS; No Remorse Seen From Highland Park Shooter; Supreme Court Looking At Redistricting Issue; Brittney Griner's Wife Ask Biden To Help Release Griner From Prison. Aired 10- 11p ET

Aired July 06, 2022 - 22:00   ET




KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Thank you all for watching with us tonight. I will be back tomorrow. DON LEMON TONIGHT with Laura Coates sitting in starts right now. Hi, Laura.

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Hey, Kasie. Thank you so much. And this is DON LEMON TONIGHT. I'm Laura Coates in for Don Lemon.

And this is big, I mean, it's really, really big. The witness the January 6th committee has wanted to talk to for months, I'm talking about none other than Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone. He apparently is now making a deal with the committee for a transcribed interview which is behind closed doors, but it's happening this Friday. And it's going to be on video.

A lawyer familiar with Cipollone's thinking is telling CNN that the interview will be limited to specific topics to avoid privilege issues. He was of course the White House counsel.

Now the committee has called him, quote, "uniquely positioned to testify." I mean, the understatement of the year. Just think of what he knows. Think of how many times you, out there, even heard his name from other witnesses during these hearings.


CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER AIDE TO WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF MARK MEADOWS: Mr. Cipollone said something to the effect of, please make sure we don't go up to the capitol, Cassidy. Keep in touch with me. We're going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen.

He's still sitting there on his phone, and I remember Pat saying to him something to the effect of, the rioters have gotten to the capitol, Mark. We need to go down and see the president now. And Mark looked up and then said, he doesn't want to do anything, Pat.

And Pat said something to the effect of, and very clearly, said this to Mark -- something to the effect of, Mark, something needs to be done or people are going to die, and the blood is going to be on your effing hands. This is getting out of control. I'm getting down there.

RICHARD DONOGHUE, FORMER ACTING DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: Pat Cipollone weighed in at one point. I remember him saying, you know, that letter that this guy wants to send, that letter is a murder suicide pact. It's going to damage everyone who touches it, and we should have nothing to do with that later.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): Pat Cipollone told the select committee that he intervened when he heard Mr. Clark was meeting with the president about legal matters without his knowledge, which was strictly against White House policy. Mr. Cipollone and Mr. Philbin like Mr. Rosen, told Mr. Clark to stand down, and he didn't.


COATES: That's just really a sliver of what I recall even hearing. I mean, you heard that he said, we're going to get charged with every crime imaginable if the then president was to go to the capitol on January 6th. You heard he told Mark Meadows, people are going to die, and the blood's going to be on your effing hands.

You heard that he called the plot to replace the acting attorney general with a Trump loyalist, quote, "a murder suicide pact." You heard all of that. But the thing is, you haven't heard it from Pat Cipollone himself. And the question is, what will he tell the committee behind closed doors? And will we hear the corroboration? And will it be a breakthrough in the overall investigation?

I want to bring in now CNN's senior legal analyst Elie Honig, and political analyst Alex Burns. He is the co-author of "This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden, and the Battle for America's Future."

Gentlemen, good to see you here. I mean, this is big. I told you it's big. We know this is big. Elie, let me begin with you. This is a person whose name we heard continuously. They're able to now secure a taped interview it's behind closed doors. But it's still a big deal, because we've heard for the better part of these hearings, many of the people who testified behind closed doors, their testimony appeared during the actually hearings.

What do you see, Elie, as the most important thing you can tell this committee that might lead to either more information about the former President Trump, or even open the eyes of DOJ?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Laura, you've already seized on the two most important words, uniquely positioned. That's the way the committee described path Cipollone, uniquely, as in one of one, the only one. And indeed, this guy was everywhere as White House counsel should be.

The attempt to take over the Justice Department, the attempt to infiltrate the states and send fake elector certificates. He was there in the White House, and the Oval Office, on January 6th, and usually, his position was, from all the reporting in testimony, that of a cooler head.


Telling people, you can't do this, we shouldn't do this, this is dangerous, this is potentially illegal. In some instances, the DOJ incident threatening even to resign. So, it seems like he had clear eyes and a level head here, and he's a person who can bring valuable perspective, and you've heard other people who know Pat Cipollone say that if he testifies, he will tell the truth.

So, I think his testimony could be remarkable. And you're exactly right, Laura. His testimony on Friday will be videotaped, but you can bet we will see that videotape snippets of it on Tuesday.

COATES: We should. And of course, we know, Alex, that prosecutors, let alone members of Congress who are having a hearing about a matter of such importance, they want to know the answers before it's aired with that red light flashing to show that its live.

And as Elie described, Pat Cipollone, I think even Lin-Manuel Miranda would say -- was in the room where it happened. I'm not going to into the details singing Aaron Burr style right now, but this is somebody who is in the room where it happened most of the time.

And I'm wondering, from your perspective, why are we just hearing from now? I mean, we heard Cassidy Hutchinson, a lot of talk about the idea of maybe heard testimony at just the age of -- I think she's what, 26 years old and was a star witness? I mean, do you think that her willingness to come forward and testify put the necessary pressure on Cipollone to now come speak to the committee?

ALEX BURNS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Laura, I certainly think that Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony had the effect of breaching the inner circle of the Trump West Wing in a way that makes it harder for other folks to just, sort of, shrug off the committee as a partisan investigation that they - I don't really need to feel much pressure to cooperate with.

I do think it's particularly significant. I think Cassidy Hutchinson repeatedly characterized things that path Cipollone did and said to her, which really puts the onus on him to confirm or deny that material. We'll see if he does on Friday. As you said, that's going to be a limited interview.

And I do think in his case, more than in the case of a whole lot of other people who declined to testify so far, there are legitimate questions about executive privilege, about his role as the lawyer of the president -- that's a really different position from political aides, members of Congress, political appointees, who simply don't want to testify because they don't want to testify or could find it uncomfortable.

But look, if Pat Cipollone is in a position to corroborate even a fraction of what we heard from Cassidy Hutchinson last week, yes, I think that's a major breakthrough in the investigation. I think it's a major political breakthrough in terms of getting this committee passed the point where even Donald Trump's palace guard can continue to call this a sort of, he said, she said situation. COATES: Well, I tell you one thing that's pretty clear, or should be.

It's not as if Trump can come back and say Pat Cipollone, don't know him! Pat Cipollone, I don't remember this person. I think he applied for some job in Mar-a-Lago. I never heard of him.

That can't be the case here. We remember his appearance, Elie, do we not, I think impeachment hearing and trial, number one. He even had a pivotal role there. I'm going to talk more about the privilege issues, I have more to tell with the former Watergate prosecutor Nick Akerman and of course, John Dean in the next hour, so stay tuned for that.

But you focus on the idea of the unique position. I mean, let's just flush that out a little more. He is not the private attorney of Donald Trump. He's not the personal attorney of any member of the administration. He's with the Office of White House Council, and their job was really to be able to give counseled to the office, irrespective of who the officeholder is.

And so, generally, he has a lot to offer, right, without related direct conversation with Trump. And we know that. But are there moments they can actually get to with him that won't include the privileged nature of conversations as well? That might be more of a litigation battle?

HONIG: Sure. I think so, Laura. I think even if the committee allows pat Cipollone to carve out certain one-on-one conversations he had with Donald Trump, ideally you would want to go to court and fight for those, but we live in a practical world, they just don't have the time to go through that litigation.

But even if you sort of carve that out there is plenty of important information that Pat Cipollone has, there are plenty of movements, actions, statements that he witnessed on January 6th that he needs to testify about. He needs to testify about the things that Cassidy Hutchinson told us about. Does he agree? Does he corroborate them?

He needs to testify about his conversations with Mark Meadows, with other important players. There is still so many things that Pat Cipollone can tell us, and you're right, Laura, it's going to be hard for Donald Trump to distance himself from Pat Cipollone, who was White House counsel essentially the entire second half of Donald Trump's term from 2018 to early 2021, including as you said representing Donald Trump in the first impeachment.

I don't know how he's going to call Pat Cipollone a, quote, "coffee boy," to use one of his favorite monikers.

COATES: Maybe latte man, you just never know, Elie, what would actually happen next.


Alex, listen to this from Jared Kushner's taped testimony about Pat Cipollone during the first hearing. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JARED KUSHNER, FORMER SENIOR ADVISOR TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To him and the team where he's saying, we're going to resign, we're not going to be here if this happens, if that happens. So, I kind of took it up to just be whining, to be honestly with you.


COATES: I mean, Alex, what's your thought behind this? I mean, do you think we feel all this -- I mean, not just the thought of this being sort of whining. I remember a colleague of ours, I think it was Neal Katyal and tweeted out something like, if Jared Kushner had been around during Watergate, he may have sloughed off the notion of the Saturday night massacre as not wanting to work on the weekends.

And I hear the sort of whining comment he's made, but it will be fascinating to hear how many times did he may be threatened to quit. Did he try to put his foot down and away that would say, look, this has serious ramifications. Will that be important to give further credence and buttress what we've already learned?

BURNS: Well, Laura, let's just reflect for a second on the implications of that statement from Jared Kushner. That in any normal administration, the White House counsel threatening to quit would be an earthquake of an internal political event in a White House. If that happened in the Biden White House, I think our jaws would be on the floor.

The fact that the president's son-in-law and adviser is just sort of shrugging that off as, you know, that's a lot of winners in the building. The tells you a lot about the culture of the administration, the culture of the administration as it pertains to these legal limits of the presidency, and the advice of the White House counsel's office.

But beyond that, it's something that we reported in our book that you mentioned in the intro. That you have Republican leaders on Capitol Hill, folks like Mitch McConnell, urging the White House counsel to stay in his job, so that there were adults in the room when events like January 6th happened.

And you know, boy, did that turn out to be important. That if Pat Cipollone and people like him had quit the administration in the middle of November. And you would have the total, sort of, you know, to borrow a term from any number of Republicans in Washington, just a sort of clown show of Trump election lawyers involved at this point.

How much worse could've been if there wasn't somebody telling Donald Trump, no, you can't do that. You shouldn't go to Capitol Hill. And we'll see if Pat Cipollone confirms on Friday that he was one of those people.

COATES: We will see, and again, still, I wonder what we had to say to Vice President Mike Pence who is no longer in the room, but at the capitol, and actually while really the last one standing to this all.

Alex, Elie, thank you so much. Nice hearing from both of you.

BURNS: Thanks, Laura.

COATES: Now new tonight, the most intensive random audit the IRS does. So, what are the odds that not one, but two former President Trump's perceived political enemies would be targeted? Former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, well, he's one of them and he's here next.



COATES: Now, listen to this. We're now learning that two people who were constantly targeted by former President Trump just so happened to face the most intensive, random audits the IRS does. One of them, former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, who is my guest tonight.

The other, according to the New York Times, former FBI director James Comey. Now this all went down back in 2017, and the Times report points out the odds of being selected for this kind of audit that year we're roughly one in 30,000.

Andrew McCabe joins me now. Andrew, I had to tell you, when I hear the odds I think about this coincidence, it's kind of like when you're at the airport, and someone looks at you and says you've been randomly selected. And you, go really? Every fight I've taken, I've been randomly taken out of this line. Am I flagged in some way?

Andrew, I mean, you -- Trump both fired both and James Comey. He also accused both of you, I would add, of treason. What are the odds here that the two of you, high-ranking FBI officials considered by Trump to be political enemies would be so randomly selected here? Did you know at the time that there was this connection between you and James Comey and these audits?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes. Laura, I had no idea. So, mine, I actually got notice about mine in October of 2021, and they were auditing me for the tax year of 2019. So, the letter comes, and it just very simply says, you've been selected, totally at random for this national program that we're doing, looking at people's returns.

And I just assume -- I took the IRS at their word, and I just assumed that was right. Now I will say that my wife was suspicious from the beginning, and had a few choice words for me about it. But, and of course, I should've listened to her, because it looks like maybe there was something else going on there.

COATES: Well, I'm going to be on your side naturally, Andrew. Of course, you listen to your wife.

MCCABE: Of course.

COATES: And I know what you were thinking of course.

MCCABE: Of course. COATES: And you are, I mean, I was just thinking about the idea of the trust you believed at first blush that you trusted the fact that if you got this audit, that everything was on the up and up. But I'm curious about this kind of ordeal. I mean, what was this audit like, and I mean, dare I ask, what was the outcome? You don't even know if there was that correlation here, but was the process like?

MCCABE: Yes. So, I had no idea. I certainly didn't know anything about Jim Comey's situation until I was contacted by this reporter. But I was immediately, you know, got in touch with the person who they said I should call, and it began. It's pretty, it's an incredibly rigorous process, although I have to say that the woman that I dealt with who had responsibility for my case was very professional, very responsive.

We ultimately worked through it, and I ended up having to pay a small amount for oversight, an unintentional oversight. There were no penalties, there is no fines or anything like that. It was really a pretty minimal thing in the end. But it's nerve-racking, you know? It's really, it's really, kind of, you know, it's scary, really, to be -- to be targeted like that.


I don't know what happened here. And like I said, I think they handled the business OK, you know, the person I dealt with was fine. But the question remains, how was I selected for this? How is it that both Jim Comey and I were selected from the same program, which is, as you mentioned, one in 30,000 for the year?

He was selected one in something like 20 something thousand for the year I was. It just defies logic to think that there wasn't some other factor involved here. I think that's a reasonable question. I think it should be investigated. People need to be able to trust the institutions of government, and so that's why there should be some -- we dig through this and find out what happened.

COATES: I mean, I'm certainly curious, because as a member of the electorate, somebody who is a curious person, a skeptic really in many ways just like yourself. I mean, the idea that this could have been wielded in some way to exploit these otherwise proper channels of auditing with the IRS.

I mean, it is concerning to think about. Because you never want any agency or entity of the government to be used against a perceived enemy of a politician, or any way shape or form. We want that legitimacy. And you said you've never talked to James Comey about this entire situation. Is that right?

MCCABE: That's correct. That's correct. And you know, look, Laura, this gets right to the heart of something that you and I talk about all the time. It's the -- it goes to the rule of law. This fundamental idea that we all have, we should all believe and invest in, that everyone is treated the same under the law.

Now I guess I have like less reason than everyone to actually still believe in that because of the way I was treated by the former president and his -- and his minions, subjected to a completely biased, one-sided I.G. investigation that resulted in my wrongful termination, which the Department of Justice implicitly acknowledged by reinstating me last year.

I was subjected to a completely baseless two-year criminal investigation, that of course resulted in no action taken, because no action should never have been taken. This IRS audit, I guess we could add to that pile now. There is still the looming whatever of John Durham as he continues, I'm not exactly sure what he's doing, re- looking at all the work that we did in 2016?

So, yes, someone who has been basically hunted by the former administration for four years now, I guess I should've assumed that this might be the next step. But I don't want to prejudge it. I think it's responsible for the IRS to go in and take a look at how this program is being administered, and report back to the American public as to what they find.

COATES: Well, I'm eager to hear it. And of course, the IRS has issued a statement of sorts saying they can't comment on the situation specifically, but they did release this statement. I wanted to read it to you. Saying in part, audits are handled by a career civil servant, and the IRS has strong safeguards in place to protect the exam process. And, against politically motivated audits. It's ludicrous and untrue to suggest that senior IRS officials somehow targeted specific individuals for national research program audits.

What is your response knowing that issue? Of course, you've already articulated that you've reserved judgment and this very much of course feeling the combination of other things that have happened. But what do you say now that you've heard their statement?

MCCABE: Well, it's obviously not ludicrous when you have a fact pattern like this that defies the idea of random selection. So, it's responsible and appropriate for the IRS to go back and look at what happened in these two cases, and see -- I'm not pointing a finger at any high level, medium level, or low-level official at the IRS.

But I think that the people who administer the service should be concerned about its reputation, and in order to withhold -- to uphold that, they should go back and look and determine what happened here. The coincidence of the two former top officials in the FBI, both of whom are very clearly considered to be, you know, enemies by the former president and his supporters, both being subjected to this incredibly invasive process that supposedly random -- let's see. Was it actually random? I'd like to hear the answer to that question.

COATES: Well, you know, I've got, as you know, two small kids and a puppy. A lot of coincidences happened in my house that could otherwise be explained, so I'm waiting to see what happens in your case as well. Thank you so much, Andrew McCabe, you know what I'm talking about. I appreciate seeing you tonight.

MCCABE: Thank you, Laura. Good to see. COATES: Now look, he is confessing. I'm talking about the Highland

Park parade shooter. He is confessing. And he was in court today, admitting that he even considered a second shooting rampage we're hearing. I'll get inside the case of the former FBI profiler after this.



COATES: We're learning really harrowing new details about the shooter in the Highland Park on July 4th mass shooting. Along with admitting to opening fire on parade goers, authorities say that he, quote, "seriously contemplated," unquote, carrying out a second attack in Madison, Wisconsin.

They said that he planned to use a firearm and exactly 60 rounds of ammunition. But he didn't go through with it because authorities say that he hadn't put enough thought into that.


He appeared in court today via Zoom for his bond hearing. The judge ordering him held without bail on seven charges of first-degree murder. A preliminary hearing is set for July 28.

I want to bring in CNN contributor and former FBI profiler, Candice DeLong. Candice, I'm glad you are here today to help unpack and really look at this issue under the microscope it deserves. Because you may have seen the shooter was described in court this morning and afternoon as being unfazed during his bond hearing. I mean, they show a screenshot there.

What does this say about his state of mind? The idea of being unfazed in this courtroom after hearing the judge, the prosecutors, what went through your head?

CANDICE DELONG, FORMER FBI PROFILER: Well, knowing what we know about what's going on in the minds of people that do this kind of thing, and it's almost always men, males, boys, almost always, is don't expect to see tears and pleading, of pleads of regret, shame. There will be none of that, which might explain why he was unfazed.

COATES: Why is that? I mean, --


DELONG: Shooters like --

COATES: Why is that, Candice? The idea and just the demographic you're talking about, it's not that I think, you know, you expect somebody who would engage in this behavior would have the remorse perhaps during the act. But I think most human beings would assume, I know you know this differently, that there would be some demonstration of regret. That's not going to be there, you're saying, based on the profiles of those to commit these acts? DELONG: That's correct, Laura. One of the things that psychologists

and FBI research and a study that they did on mass shooters says in the vast majority of cases, especially if it's a younger adult, they are motivated by anger. They are angry at the world. And they can't -- they don't have the insight to look at that anger and go, well, maybe it's this, maybe it's me, maybe I can change my life.

No, they are motivated by anger. And that anger makes them want to seek revenge on those that they believe deserve it. I can understand why his first target was where he grew up. If he truly -- if he was like so many other shooters were motivated to exact revenge because he was angry, what better place to do it than in his own hometown?

COATES: But what about the idea --


DELONG: It's a small town --

COATES: Candice, I'm sorry, Candice. But what about the idea of even thinking about another attack on the area of Madison, does that follow suit as well?


COATES: I mean, interesting, tell me why?

DELONG: Well, that's where -- that's why I've been thinking is, it's understandable why the blitz, the first attack was Highland Park. And it's understandable that it was on a family day, when he probably went to those parades as a kid. But the thing near Madison, Wisconsin, I'm assuming maybe that's the most important thing in Madison is the University of Wisconsin.

There is some connection there. It was not random. There could be someone going to school there that he knows, and he's angry at. Maybe a girl he was interested in who spurned him. But there has to be a reason why he drove all that way, and why Madison -- why the university of -- what that was his target?

And we will find out because right now the FBI and investigators are going through his phone, his computer and everything. We're going to know everything soon.

COATES: Candice, so important to think about that psychological profile that I know you have such expertise in and thinking about the wise. Obviously, you and I both know that for those families that are grieving, those that are continuing to grapple with the tragedy in their personal lives, the whys will never be sufficient, but we, as a society --


COATES: -- maybe if we know the whys, it can lead to deterrence and maybe prevention, as well. Candice DeLong, thank you so much for your expertise. DELONG: You are welcome. Thank you, Laura.

COATES: Well, look, one case could have the Supreme Court radically reshaping federal elections. What it could mean for your voting rights, next.



COATES: In a series of key decisions just last month, the Supreme Court first cutting back on the ability of states to restrict guns in public places. Then overturning a half century of abortion rights protection, then slashing away at the power of the EPA to even regulate polluters. Well now voting rights are back in the mix.

The court agreeing to hear a case out of North Carolina. This time, yet again, about North Carolina's redistricting efforts. First, if you remember, they tried to redraw their maps using racially gerrymandering lines. Then it was partisan gerrymandering lines.

The GOP now arguing to the state courts of North Carolina should not even have the final say in how they even get to draw even gerrymandered maps.

Joining me now to discuss, Democratic voting rights attorney, Marc Elias. He is the author of a new piece on Democracy Docket titled, "A Dangerous Theory Will Have Its day in the U.S. Supreme Court."

Marc, you know, this decision by the Supreme Court to even hear this case, you call it pretty shocking, but I wonder, what makes this North Carolina dispute so dangerous in the first instance?

MARC ELIAS, DEMOCRATIC VOTING RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Yes. So, thank you for having me on. The Republican leadership in North Carolina have now gone to the Supreme Court and said, wait, this was all a big misunderstanding because the state courts can't review our maps at all, because the Constitution says that the legislator sets the maps and time and manner of elections. And it doesn't mention the courts. So, the state courts play no role.


COATES: Well, you and I both know, Marc, the idea of courts, I mean, but for the courts to be a bit of a check on the power that could be abused by legislator. The idea of the whole checks and balance system that we have here in our democracy, neither the courts would not be able to have some say or the final say in what the legislative body is actually doing, isn't that totally counter to what we think about, about checks and balances in our system?

ELIAS: Yes. It's -- that's why this has been, frankly, a radical fringe theory. You know, there have been -- it's been sort of kicking around in sort of the outer edges of the Republican legal community.

You know, John Eastman, for example, was a proponent of the, what's called the independent state legislator theory that would allow the state legislators to choose whatever electors they want, notwithstanding how people voted. This is not had an error of respectability until a couple of weeks ago, when the Supreme Court said that they were going to hear this case, and consider whether or not to remove those checks and balances that are so important to our system.

COATES: But what's the endgame? I mean, let's follow this (Inaudible) over here. I mean, if the Supreme Court is going to end up empowering state lawmakers, give them control over federal elections, the idea of not being able to have even a state court review what's happening, which is a possible consequence.

I mean, how do you have guardrails in place for voters? I mean, there is a long history, as you and I well know, about voter protections falling to the way sides or never being the point in the long run. You've section five gone, section two of the Voting Right Act has been diluted. It sometimes looks almost unrecognizable. I mean, what would you do if the Supreme Court hears this case and decides, you know what, that theory works for us?

ELIAS: Yes, look, this is why this is such a dangerous theory because the Supreme Court has already cut back on the federal remedies. You know, it gutted section five of the Voting Rights Act. It has weakened the interpretation of section two, as you point out. It has also weakened some of the constitutional arguments that were made to protect voters and ensure free and fair elections.

If now it guts entirely the ability of the state courts to hold state legislators accountable to their own (AUDIO GAP), frankly, there is very little standing between democracy and tyranny.

COATES: But Marc, why would a court want to weaken the power of the judiciary? It doesn't make sense. I mean, it's the idea of not even cutting off nose to spite your face, it is really handing over the keys to the castle. If the judiciary the highest court in the land saying that you have no role here, why would they weaken that ability to have the power for a different brand -- a different lower court?

ELIAS: Yes, it's a really good question. And you know, as you know the foundation of American law is a case called Marbury versus Madison, which says that the Supreme Court is the ultimate authority to rule on congressional acts and other acts by states under a principle that the federal courts are supreme in determining what the law is and what the constitutions are.

There are in any other places in the Constitution that gives Congress the authority to do something just like the election cause gives it to state legislators. And I don't see -- I don't see the Supreme Court rule in that arena. So, it makes no sense, but it's really, really problematic and dangerous.

COATES: Well, I mean, it would be the very first time, read my sarcasm, that the court would undermine its own power or legitimacy or presidential value in 2022. Certainly. Marc Elias, thank you so much. Glad to have you here and learn from you and your insight. I appreciate it.

ELIAS: Thank you.

COATES: And Brittney Griner, she is terrified she could be in a Russian prison forever. I'll speak to her former Olympic coach who is one of many women and people fighting to get Brittney Griner released next.


CHERELLE GRINER, BRITTNEY GRINER'S WIFE: I can't rest as her humanity is being stripped from her. I can't rest as her safety is in question. I honestly can't rest until she is home.




COATES: The WNBA's Phoenix Mercury is hosting a rally in support of their teammate, Brittney Griner tonight. The basketball star has been retained in a Russian jail now for more than 100 days. This really follows both President Biden and Vice President Harris speaking with Griner's wife by phone earlier today.

As you know, Griner wrote a letter to President Biden earlier this week expressing her fears about being held in Russia and definitely. Griner's wife Cherelle putting out a statement tonight saying that she's grateful to both Biden and Harris for speaking with her, and their express commitment to getting Brittney home.

Joining me now is Brittney Griner's former Olympic coach and three- time Olympic gold medalist herself, Dawn Staley. Dawn, it's good to see you here. There has been, as you know, a conversation between President Biden and Vice President Harris with Britney's wife trying to tell her they going to work to secure her release, and I'm wondering what you make of this. I mean, is it a sign of progress here, does it give you some hope that maybe they will do all that they can and have that rhetoric match the action.

DAWN STALEY, BRITTNEY GRINER'S FORMER OLYMPIC COACH: Yes, I think it's a -- it's a God's wink, you know, when God winks at you I think is an incredible thing. So, I think everybody in Britney's camp has been wanting this, if not an in-person meeting some type of communication with the -- with the president of the United States.


And you know, to add some graciousness to it, Vice President Harris was on the line as well. So, you know, we got two bangs far our back, and we're hoping that this expedites Brittney's process to get our home a little quicker than we thought yesterday.

COATES: Now, Dawn, I mean, you know her quite well. I mean, her cause has really been heard about, people are really trying to be her champion at this point in time. But I want to know from the person. I mean, in the letter that she wrote to the president, she wrote, and I'm quote, "I'm terrified I might be here forever."

She goes on to talk about that she sits there along with her thoughts without the protection of her loved ones, or any of her accomplishments. Talk to me about how you think that she is feeling right now?

STALEY: Well, here's the thing. I think Brittney had a bad day. And that happens to you when you're in that situation. And I think for the most part, is she terrified? Yes. If she afraid? Yes. If she is strong, yes. Does she tap into that mental strength that that requires a parole of level, an elite player of her level to have? Yes.

So, I think you go on an emotional roller coaster when you're in the position that she's in but I'm hooping the -- I'm hoping she's hearing that that Cherelle talked to the president, talk to the vice president and I hope for Cherelle's sake and Brittney's sake that they can sleep a little -- just a little bit easier tonight, but -- but not any other night because until she's home will she get that peaceful sleep that we all want her to have.

COATES: And Dawn, as you know there was a really powerful letter that was signed by so many people, so many black women concerned about Brittney Griner and that is a very large group of people that goes even beyond black women as you well know. And part of the letter talked about the idea of her playing overseas in part because of pay inequities here in United's America that actually brought her to play for the Russian team.

And I want to listen to what Brittney Griner's head coach had to say this very week about (AUDI GAP). Listen to what she had to say.


VANESSA NYGAARD, HEAD COACH, PHOENIX MERCURY: It's a statement about the value of women, it's a statement about the value of a Black person. It's a statement about the value of a gay person, all of those. And we know it and so that's what hurts a little more.


COATES: What's your reaction to that? Do you agree?

STALEY: Well, I mean, there's a lot of things that were said in that answer to the question that she was asked. I think the most important thing is, we have an American citizen wrongfully detained in a Russian prison. If that's not scary enough, I don't want to add layers to, you know, so what it is.

I think it's quite -- when we keep it as simple as it is, it's an American citizen -- and she's not the only one. Brittney in her letter she was like, she said bring all of us home.

COATES: Right. STALEY: Bring all the Americans home. In her moment of reaching out to the president, she separated -- she didn't separate herself from everybody else. She just, brings us all home, because I'm sure everybody that is wrongfully detained in a Russian prison, or a prison abroad, is feeling, you know, helpless.

So, we need to keep our focus on getting her home. Getting every other American home in a place in which -- you know, their families can rest a little bit easier. So, we have -- we have to be all hands-on deck. The letter that we black women sent to the White House, the Reverend Al Sharpton, and all the foot soldiers like myself and everybody else that had been screaming at the top of our lungs to get Brittney Griner home is what we're going to keep that synergy going. Because that synergy is moving in the right direction, finally, and hopefully, it will expedite just that and bringing her home.

COATES: Dawn Staley, thank you so much for reminding people about the selflessness contained in that very letter, and reminding people not to forget about her or the others who - and that special classification to be wrongfully detained to have that announcement.


It triggers different mechanisms of trying to get the person home through an envoy process. Dawn, thank you for giving us some insight into what she is like and about the focus remaining on her and those who are also wrongfully detained. I appreciate hearing from you.

Trump's White House counsel is testifying. I'm going to talk to Nixon's White House counsel and a Watergate special prosecutor, next.


COATES: Look, there is a major breakthrough tonight for the January 6th select committee. Sources telling CNN that Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone will testify before the committee on Friday. Now it's going to take place behind closed doors but it will be transcribed and videotaped.


We want to bring in Nixon White House counsel, John Dean and special Watergate prosecutor, Nick Akerman.

Good to see you both, gentlemen on these issues, in particular. I want to begin with you, John.