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FBI Executes Search Warrant At Trump's Mar-a-Lago Resort In Document Investigation; Indiana Becomes First State Post-Roe To Pass Law Banning Most Abortions; Singer And Actress Olivia Newton-John Dead At Age 73. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired August 08, 2022 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: We are back with a major development tonight. The FBI executing a search warrant at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home. Former president broke the news himself just hours ago. Multiple sources tell CNN the search is related to the handling of classified documents and where documents were kept.
CNN's Randi Kaye and Sara Murray are covering the very latest. This is such a huge night to think about what is going on right now. Sara, I mean, extraordinary developments continue to come out. What are you learning about this FBI search a Mar-a-Lago?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, these are very wild circumstances, of course, because we are talking about a former president. As you said, he broke the news. He released a long statement saying that the FBI have even search a safe that he had.
And we've been told by multiple sources this is related to the Presidential Records Act. This has to do with materials he took when he left the White House, potentially classified documents that he took.
And we know from earlier reporting, the National Archives, that they have recovered 15 boxes of materials that the former president took with him. But what this was focused on is where he was keeping classified or
potentially classified materials, whether anything was left behind.
But it did seem like a bit of a shock even to the trump people because they said, you know, that they have had lawyers that were engaging with investigators on this issue.
COATES: I mean, Randi, on that point, I mean, you're on the ground in Palm Beach County. Boxes, although Sara said, of course, 15 others were reclaimed by the National Archives, boxes were still taken by the FBI this time around. What more can you tell us?
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We know that boxes of items were seized, were removed from Mar-a-Lago today. Our colleague, Evan Perez and Gabby Orr, both confirming this information with the source and people close to this investigation. The FBI search included examining where those documents were kept, apparently. And a separate source is telling Gabby Orr that documents were seized in those boxes of items.
So, as Sara just mentioned, the National Archives had alleged that classified information and documents had been removed from the White House and brought here to Florida, to Mar-a-Lago. Fifteen of those boxes were recovered, as you said, but they did want to know if anything was left behind, according to a person close to this investigation.
So, we can also tell you that the key takeaway, of course, here is that the boxes of items were taken, the documents were seized, but also that there was some coordination between the FBI and the Secret Service.
Donald Trump was not here today. He was in New York City. There was only a small footprint of Secret Service here on the ground at Mar-a- Lago. That is a usual case when the former president is not on the premises.
But our Kevin Liptak is confirming with a person close to this investigation, familiar with this investigation, that the FBI had been in touch with Secret Service to make sure that they could gain access to Mar-a-Lago. They were in touch with them before the search warrant was executed. They didn't want to have any complications, apparently, once they got on the ground here. Laura?
COATES: What keeps striking me, as Randi is saying that, Sara, is they want to know where documents were kept, and I keep thinking, were they wanting to find information about the security of those documents, not just what it was, but how they were being housed? I wonder, what is the former president saying about this search, and how about his legal team as well?
MURRAY: Right. Well, Laura, as you might expect, the former president had a lengthy response. So, we will just give you a taste of it. He said in a statement, these are dark times for our nation, as my beautiful home, Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, is currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents. Nothing like this ever happened to a president of the United States before.
Now, of course, he's referring to this search by the FBI agents. One of his attorneys, Christina Bobb, pointed out that Trump and his legal team have been cooperative with the FBI and DOJ officials. She went on to say that the FBI did conduct this search and said that it was unannounced and they ceased, as she put it, paper, you know, what Randi was talking about, documents.
So, like I said, it did seem to be a little bit of a surprise to these folks that they had already been engaging with investigators on this issue and then to see this unannounced search take place.
COATES: When I hear an unannounced search, I think that they might believe something is fleeting or might have legs all of a sudden and walk away. There had to be some breakdown, Randi, into communication even with the conversations between the lawyers and, of course, DOJ. There still was something not trustworthy about what was said or to dot one's eye and cross one's teeth.
We are also reading -- we read that statement but we are hearing from Eric Trump as well tonight. What is Eric Trump saying, Randi?
KAYE: Oh, he went on Fox News tonight talking about this raid, and he offered his own explanation to Sean Hannity as to why the FBI showed up at Mar-a-Lago here in Florida today. This is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC TRUMP, BUSINESSMAN, SON OF DONALD TRUMP: The purpose of the right, from what they said, was because the National Archives wanted to, you know, corroborate whether or not Donald Trump had any documents in his possession. My father has worked so collaboratively with them for months. In fact, a lawyer that has been working on this was totally shocked. I have such an amazing relationship with these people and all the sudden with no notice, they sent, you know, 20 cars and 30 agents.
Sean, I mean, this is just more political persecution of Donald J. Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: So, there you have an explanation from Eric Trump.
COATES: Whether it holds water is a different story, but I suspect we will find more information coming ahead.
Sara, Randi, thank you so much.
I want to bring in Chris Swecker, former FBI assistant director of the Criminal Investigative Division. Also here, former federal prosecutor Kim Wehle, who is the author of "How to Think Like a Lawyer." And also, CNN political analyst Jonathan Martin, who is the coauthor of "This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden, and the Battle for America's Future."
Wow! What a night! I mean, you got the FBI raiding essentially, that's his words, Donald Trump's words, but really executing a lawful search warrant, we understand, at Mar-a-Lago. This is the most recent predecessor to our incumbent president of the United States.
Chris, I mean, explain what it would take for the FBI to get a search warrant like this. I mean, this is not just a typical where you have to have obviously the probable cause that obviously had to be there, but imagine saying to a judge, by the way the subject's home is at the former president of the United States, what would that have looked like and taken?
CHRIS SWECKER, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIVE DIVISION: Yeah, there have been quite a workup process preparing the affidavit, getting it reviewed by FBI lawyers, getting it reviewed by DOJ lawyers, getting it approved at the FBI headquarters level, at the director level, I am certain, and approved by the attorney general himself. I mean, I can't imagine the process being anything less than that.
Then you have to work up -- the affidavit would have to show that there's a crime being committed, there's probable cause of crimes being committed, and there's evidence of that crime at that specific location. It would have to be narrowed in scope and tailored for what they were looking for. They would have to have some sort of specifics about where the evidence is.
I would submit, probably, some indication by the agents that the evidence was not forthcoming any other way. But it sure is an extraordinary set of circumstances here. I can't imagine, in my 25 years as, you know, last three in the FBI as head of the criminal division, I can't imagine getting a search warrant for a former president for a retention of classified information-type case.
COATES: Meaning, that would be too frivolous in your mind or the idea that it would be something just it was the former president?
SWECKER: Yeah. I mean, it would look political. The optics would be bad. You know, we applied for search warrant for congressman and got turned down on that very basis several times. So, you know, even if there is a violation occurring, the optics of this and the political nature of it and the backdrop is something that we would not have been able -- I can guarantee we would not have been able to get through a search warrant under these circumstances.
COATES: Jonathan, I see you nodding your head as well, an affirmation that that would be a striking to do. There have been and there actually are still ongoing investigations. There are impeachments. There are grand juries attending to President Trump. Do you see indications in the reporting that this time there is some real peril for the former president?
JONATHAN MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah, I think the bar is really high. And look, the DOJ would never admit this, but they know that the politics of this are so sensitive. They are on the highest of high wires with no net beneath them, and they recognize that they cannot get it wrong here.
I think they would not have taken this step without maximum caution knowing how grave the politics are and knowing that they would trigger precisely the reaction from the right that they got tonight by executing this raid.
I can just tell you from having, you know, interview with the former president at Mar-a-Lago for our book, "This Will Not Pass," it is a fascinating place that is both club and home. I don't think people fully realize this as we are watching this. This is a fully- operational private club.
Yes, it is a former president's home, but he has guests there most evening dining out on the patio. It doubles as both his own residence and an actual club where members come to day in and day out.
They have valet parking. There is a sort of front-desk person. They have buffets of food set up inside.
So, I think -- I'm trying to paint a picture, Laura, for folks at home who perhaps are trying to imagine what this premise is like. It is pretty rare for a former president, and by that, I mean, it is unheard of to run a private club at the home that he lives in, but that is Mar-a-Lago.
COATES: Well, on that note, Kim, when I'm hearing Jonathan talk about all the things that are there, the people, I think access points then. I think if there is classified material there, my immediate, you know, sort of guard goes up and says, that points of entry to access and maybe see and view documents that they should not be investigating -- looking at.
This investigation may actually be about the handling of classified documents, but there is, of course, that real question, Kim, as to why these documents would be not at the National Archives but at Mar-a- Lago. What is your impression?
KIM WEHLE, VISITING PROFESSOR OF LAW, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: Right, Laura, there's something called the Presidential Records Act which mandates that at the time a president leaves office, automatically, all of his White House records belong to the American people and they go directly to the archivist.
There are also criminal laws that are in place for destroying, concealing documents. And what is really, I think, remarkable in this moment is one, and I will cite to it, 18 USC 2071 provides, in addition to a three-year potential prison term for concealing or destroy documents, the person who is convicted cannot hold office again.
So, I think this is probably a moment for Donald Trump who -- Teflon Don who has never really seen any accountability over his entire personal and professional career and push every constitutional and legal boundary, you can see in this moment, for the first time, is seeing the wheels of justice push back against him.
I think what this demonstrates, as your other guests have explained, is that Merrick Garland is willing to carry this ball across the finish line regardless of the fallout. As a constitutional scholar, I think that is absolutely crucial to preserving the democracy, the rule of law, because otherwise, what we have in this moment, Laura, as a green light for future presidents to just use the massive powers of the office to commit crimes.
And the fact that be brought 15 boxes of documents that we know of to Mar-a-Lago, including reportedly communications with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, I think the question is, as you indicate, what happened to these documents? What is the trail? What is the story beyond just taking them out of the White House? My guess is that is not the end, beginning and end of the story here.
COATES: Of course, they could be shared in some way. If it is a lawful search warrant, they could be using it and perhaps other investigations, or they can lead to a certain trail and follow that threat. Jonathan, you had a point?
MARTIN: Yeah. I was just going to say, what is so striking in the hours since we first learned of this raid, Laura, is this sort of falling in line among Republican lawmakers and even some going out on a limb who don't have to do that before they know all the facts.
I think that impulse to sort of rally around the former president, most strikingly from House GOP leader, Kevin McCarthy, who in a tweet is sort of, you know, all but warning Merrick Garland that they're going to come after him next year, and he ought to save his documents if the GOP has the House majority.
It is a vivid illustration of the grip that the former president still has on a lot of people in his party. Those politicians are responding like they are entirely because they believe that their voters are still attached to Trump and the lawmakers effectively are following the lead of what they think their voters want, and that explains Trump's enduring hold on the party seven years on.
COATES: It'll be curious to see --
WEHLE: Laura --
COATES: -- whether they've gotten ahead their skis or not. I want to get Chris in here as well, though, because, Chris, I'd love to know what you make about the focus on -- about Trump's focus, in particular, on the FBI searching his safe.
We have the former Trump's staffers, Alyssa Farah Griffin and Stephanie Grisham, also say that it seems they got a tip perhaps from someone close to the former president that this safe would be an area to find something. Is that an indication that maybe he thought the safe was, well, safe?
SWECKER: I don't know. Apparently, nothing was in the safe, is what the reports that I've read. But, you know, executing a search warrant is like dragging a big fish net through the ocean. I mean, you try to narrow and only take the things that are listed in the search warrant. But that is almost impossible to do when you're looking for electronic records.
I don't believe this is all paper documents. I think there are probably other media involved as well.
And I just think it is very, very difficult to not bring in or take out of the residence things that aren't related directly to that investigation.
So, you know, last time I did this, when I was head of the criminal division, we had to put the evidence in escrow with a judge and have them go through the evidence and make sure that nothing else other --- that only what we were looking for and was specified in the search warrant was actually handed over.
COATES: Handed over to whom? As in you couldn't use it in another investigation? It can be prior to overall investigation generally?
SWECKER: Yeah, to the FBI for the specific investigation that we had obtained the search warrant for. If you find clear-cut evidence of other crimes in the take --
SWECKER: -- then, yeah, that is fair game. But you can't use one search warrant for one investigation to overlap and gather up evidence that is not named in the search warrant for another investigation. Does that make sense?
COATES: It does. The idea that people couldn't essentially use one sort of reason as a pretextual thing to get at other crimes that have improbable cause --
COATES: -- that's important. Kim, last word here, do you see this -- I know you want to jump in here. When you think about the idea of a safe being looked at, the idea of the existence of other investigations that are out there right now, who is champing at the bit right now to find out what they found?
WEHLE: Right, so you've got the Georgia investigation, you have the investigation of the false slate of selectors, you have, of course, January 6, but the reason I wanted to add -- what I wanted to add was that Kevin McCarthy reportedly got a call from Donald Trump on January 6. There were seven hours of White House logs and communications records that are missing.
So, my guess is that, in addition to this falling in line politically, there are members of the United States Congress who were involved in wrongdoing on January 6 and are ensnared in Donald Trump's kind of negative web of wrongdoing here. So, there is some covering of themselves, my guess, potentially as well.
Where do these pieces lead? Not just regarding the Presidential Records Act, but as others have discussed, step-by-step to other potential crimes that we've already seen over 800 prosecutions. All roads, Laura, lead back in this moment, I think, to the American people, to January 6.
COATES: We will see what they find. We will (INAUDIBLE) what it is and see if it results in anything of a criminal action. So far, all we know is what we really heard from Donald Trump himself, everyone.
Thank you so much for being a part of the program. Nice getting all your expertise on a night like this. Look, the FBI is searching Mar-a-Lago on the anniversary of Richard Nixon announcing his resignation. We will tell you that and much more on the search.
COATES: We're back now with new developments on the FBI search of former President Trump's home at Mar-a-Lago in Florida.
Joining me now, CNN presidential historian Tim Naftali and Olivia Troye, former Homeland Security and COVID Task Force adviser to former Vice President Mike Pence. I'm glad you're both here.
Tim, you and I have talked a lot about the history of Nixon and beyond. Your expertise is unparalleled in this area. I've got ask you, I mean, this is a former president of the United States. He had his residence search by the FBI. This is truly a historic moment. What is your reaction?
TIMOTHY NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, I just remember learning about how the special prosecutors treated former President Nixon almost with (INAUDIBLE) when the former president participated in a deposition linked to the grand jury. And there was no doubt in my mind that there was a very high threshold that DOJ felt it needed to reach in order to involve a former president in a criminal investigation.
Now, I am convinced that a similarly high threshold had to be breached for the Garland DOJ to do what it did today, which is why I think more is involved than simply the fact that the former president is holding classified records in something other than unauthorized safe. That's a bad thing, by the way, and deserves to be investigated.
But I just can't believe that today's dramatic event would have happened if it was solely a matter of classified material that shouldn't be at Mar-a-Lago.
COATES: You know, a part of me agrees in a very real way because for many people who are hearing the news today, the raid, Olivia, was monumental. Then the idea of classified documents, many probably thought, wait, didn't we hear about this before, even before the public hearings of the national security -- I mean, the January 6 Committee?
That was a while ago. Why would they still be looking at this right now which leads many to believe that maybe there is more to this. But there are others with the Trump White House, Olivia, who've been remarking on the lax approach that there was in general to document preservation.
I'm wondering, if you see this as just par for the course or having more troubling and nefarious here?
OLIVIA TROYE, DIRECTOR OF REPUBLICAN ACCOUNTABILITY PROJECT, FORMER SENIOR AIDE OF WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE: I'm concerned about what has happened here in terms of the lack of preserving the documents and presidential records, but even more concerned that this is classified information that clearly, they have reason to believe is there, was there, and they're trying to figure out where the paper trail is.
The more concerning part is, did it (INAUDIBLE) an adversary's hands or what actually happened to it regardless of what it says, right? That's one concern, that I would send anybody in National Security like myself who has had a clearance and anybody -- we would be in jail if we had done any of this. We would've been charged. There would've been no questions asked. We would've been responding to this and explaining ourselves later.
I've actually been in the Pentagon many years ago when somebody was actually escorted out of the office immediately and then told (INAUDIBLE) later. I, mean this is a very real thing.
You know, when I'm listening to you, and you are talking right now about Watergate and Nixon resigning, and I have to say that what has been striking to me tonight is, you know, when Nixon resigned, many Republicans, after a year of hearings, have turned against him at that point. Right? That's kind of what force the hand here as well with the resignation and everything going on with the investigation.
Tonight, we are seeing nothing but undermining of the rule of law and the Department of Justice and the FBI by a lot of the rhetoric of Republican elected officials and a lot of these more right-leaning figures. And it is a coordinated propaganda machine that is out in front of us.
And I have to say that it is very concerning actually because it's increasing the undermining of this entire thing and it's attacking our rule of law. It is also increasing the potential for violence across our country.
COATES: I mean, certainly, Tim, there is the extension that's articulated, extension of benefit of the doubt here. I mean, most people here -- that's somebody's home that has been raided. Imagine if it was a layman, a civilian, a regular person, and their home was raided.
You know, juries tend to think themselves, this is in the court of public opinion. Well, they would've gone in if they hadn't thought something was there.
But there's a protection happening right now and assumption about a former president, and I can't decide whether that is good for our democracy to have that benefit doubt for a president or bad for our democracy. What is your take?
NAFTALI: My take is that it's good for our democracy to have warrants. And the former president, in his statement today, compared what happened in Mar-a-Lago to Watergate in reverse.
But the difference is that in the case of Watergate, the committee to reelect Richard Nixon did not have a warrant to investigate the Democrats, to break into the Democratic National Committee headquarters, whereas today, the FBI was executing a warrant.
Now, I think that we need to wait and learn about the basis of probable cause. And you are the lawyers, but I know that the next step in this process is that whatever they find will find its way to a grand jury, likely, and we may hear about an indictment at some point, or we may not.
But I cannot imagine that our country at this toxic moment, that a court in our country would allow the FBI to do what it did today unless it was probable cause. And given that it's a former president, I believe that probable cause is probably enormous.
In which case, I think we should just wait and perhaps we will learn, maybe not soon but in a few months, the reason why our Department of Justice felt this was a necessary act, because it is dramatic. And indeed, initially, it is going to feed the fire of those who believe that this is an unfair system towards populace.
But if we give it time, the process time, the information that might be acquired or might have been acquired might tighten the argument that we are seeing, being seen, that we have seen, developed by the January 6 Committee, that the president, the former president, was at the center of a conspiracy ultimately to push for an armed insurrection to undermine the electoral count.
COATES: Well, we will see, Olivia, Tim, exactly what might unfold, and I wonder, if this does not result in further action. We can only imagine how that talking point will extend and how it will be viewed and possibly affect the perception of the credibility of what ought to be the apolitical Department of Justice.
Everyone, thank you for being here tonight. And look, with the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago only a few months out from the midterms, remember those? I mean, like, 90 so days away? The question is, how are voters going to respond to all of this? That's next.
COATES: We're back with more on the shocking news tonight. FBI agents executing a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, former President Trump's home in Florida. Sources are telling CNN the search is (INAUDIBLE) to 15 boxes that were taken from the Trump White House to Mar-a-Lago.
A lot to talk about here with Mark McKinnon, former advisor to President George W. Bush. He is the executive producer of "The Circus." And also here, CNN political commentator Bakari Sellers. Good to have both of you here, especially on a night like this. I want to begin with you, Mark, because, look, a former president, having their residents searched by the FBI, I mean, it is undeniably big news. But there is a lot at play here legally, but also -- I mean, the political implications of this are massive. Are they not?
MARK MCKINNON, FORMER ADVISER TO GEORGE W. BUSH AND JOHN MCCAIN, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER OF "THE CIRCUS": It's an earthquake. There's no other way to describe it, Laura. I mean, on the legal side, you know, Merrick Garland has said, no one is about the law, including the president, which I agree with.
But it better be a very serious felony and not just some misdemeanor because what this is doing is this is polarizing both sides of the equation.
Democrats are jumping up and down and saying, aha, we're finally going to get him, and Republicans are saying, all the conspiracies are true. They can't get us politically, so they are going -- they are using the government to get us because Trump is so powerful electorally and they're worried about him running again.
So, from Trump's point of view, this is perfect for him. He wants to be a martyr. And I've said all along that the way to beat Trump ultimately is at the ballot box because if he goes through some legal entanglements, he will be made a martyr, that will only animate his base in a way that has never been animated before.
COATES: So, Bakari, on that note, is it sort of damn if you do, damn if you don't? If he pursued something that's wrong or wrongful or allegedly wrongful behavior, you're shunned for that but you also can't do it that way? I mean, he's already blaming this on Democrats.
I'm wondering what your take is on this and what the administration might need to consider to prove it's all been done by the book for the reasons that Mark has talked about.
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think you have two things here. And one of the things -- I love Mark -- but one of the things we have to value is that there is something that is a lot more valuable, that weighs heavier on this country than just the showmanship and game of politics, and that's our fragile democracy, and that is no one is above the law.
I do believe that one of the things that you'll see the answer to your second question is the independence of this Department of Justice. Unlike during the Trump years, when Donald Trump use the Department of Justice as a political tool, we do know that Joe Biden has stayed out of the frame of the direction as you're supposed to with this Department of Justice. I think that that's one step that you're going to see play out.
Now, as you know, this had to go to the highest levels of the Department of Justice and the FBI and the Secret Service in order to coordinate something of this magnitude. But Joe Biden in Kiawah, South Carolina is not someone who is orchestrating of pulling the strings.
Regardless of the magnitude of this, this is about democracy. This is about someone who has abused the Constitution of the United States. I'm pretty sure it has something more to do than just boxes of classified documents, but we shall see.
COATES: And on that point, I mean, Mark, the midterms are about 91 days away. And there have been already primaries happening. There will be more happening tomorrow, of course, before the general election that's coming up, where people are talking about potentially the loss of the majority for Democrats in one chamber. Whether (INAUDIBLE) or not is another story. But will this have an impact on how election plays out?
MCKINNON: Unquestionably. And if I'm Joe Biden, I'm pretty stressed (ph) by all of this. I mean --
MCKINNON: -- you know, four hours ago, when we booked this show, Bakari and I were going to talk about the great legislation of Joe Biden, and he doesn't even get one data talk about it. So, you know --
COATES: A lot can happen in four hours, Mark. A lot can happen in four hours, as we see.
MCKINNON: Don't we know, don't we know. But, you know, listen, I think the Democrats and Biden are very excited about the legislation. They had some moments about this. This is a huge diversion and one that may ultimately hurt Trump, but it can also help (INAUDIBLE).
COATES: Do you agree, Bakari?
SELLERS: Look, I don't know any Democrats that are running in a competitive United States Senate or congressional seat that are going to run ads talking about aha, your president is about to get indicted, like that is not going to happen.
But they do have a story to tell. The Inflation Reduction Act, chips, the PACT Act. I mean, you can talk about the Republicans if you're running against someone who is a United States senator currently who voted against insulin caps.
I mean, there is a story to tell for Democrats, especially those who are in very, very competitive districts. And at the end of the day, I mean, I just think that this is another new cycle, this is another story, but many Republicans want to wash their hands of Donald Trump. They just won't say it loudly. So, we shall see.
COATES: We shall see indeed who is more exhausted, who is clutching what pearls, and what happens next. Everyone, thank you so much.
Four hours from now -- hold different ball game, Mark, by the way -- one state votes against new abortion restrictions. In another, state politicians passed a near full abortion ban. The divide of post-Roe America is evident, and we will talk more about it, next. Plus, we will remember singer and actress Olivia Newton-John.
COATES: Well, Indiana is now the first state to pass a restrictive abortion law since Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court earlier this summer in the Dobbs decision. The law banning most abortions goes into effect next month.
Now, it provides exceptions for when the life of the mother is at risk and for fetal anomalies only 20 weeks post fertilization. It also allows exceptions for some abortions if the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest.
Let's talk about it now with political commentators from CNN, Alice Stewart and, of course, Ashley Allison is here as well. Nice to see both of you, ladies.
Ashley, I'm wondering what your impression is here because does this strike you as the beginning of states making abortion next to impossible? Was Kansas the anomaly and the outlier here?
ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, we definitely know that there are states that have traditionally lean Republicans that will try and outlaw abortion. But I think what is unusual about the moment that we are in is that I don't think Kansas will be the outlier. I think Indiana, while Kansas was about initiative, I think Indiana, their state legislator voted to ban abortions.
And we know in November, approximately 25 seats in Indiana are up for election, and so voters will have the opportunity to say, I don't want these people to represent me. So, I don't think Kansas is an outlier. I think that we will see across the board, not just on ballot initiatives, but in state legislator races as well as in federal races for the House and Senate, that voters will say, a woman should have a right to choose and that is set of law the Supreme Court overreached, and we don't want people representing us that don't believe that either.
COATES: Alice, I mean, does this strike you as a disconnect from what we know from the polls of what the majority of Americans are those concerned with these issues feel? That was part of the concern about Justice Alito's opinion. The idea of returning it to the states and that states ultimately wanted there to be some access and exceptions. What do you view here as the next hurdle or what you see now?
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR SENATOR TED CRUZ: Look, each of these legislators in the state ran on their pro-life positions, they were elected based on their pro-life positions, and they are executing laws based on.
And what we have with the Supreme Court ruling, I think, was the correct decision was taking this very important decision about choosing life over abortion out of the hands of nine unelected justices and putting it in the hands of elected officials in the states. And these legislators are enacting a law that they think represents the will of the people that elected them.
I happen to be someone who does advocate for exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother, which is the case here. I think it should be throughout the term of the pregnancy. I think that as an important first step. But they also make a very strong case for making sure that the penalty is on the abortion provider, and the medical doctors that perform these abortions would lose their license.
But to Ashley's point, the key here is if this is not reflective of the will of the people, if the people in the state do not agree with this, then those people need to be elected -- someone else needs to be elected in their place. This should be an issue and a cause for people to go out and vote for people that represent their values.
The ballot box is there for a reason, and if this isn't the role of the people, then elected officials will be voted out of office.
COATES: Ashley, to that point, of course, part of the concern is that the time it takes for a democracy to fully flush out would be, for many people, well beyond the guardrails that are in place or the requirement that when one could get them. But I do hear your point about democratic principles.
But, Ashley, on this point, speaking at the providers, which is what Alice was speaking about as well, Dr. Caitlin Bernard, who was the Indiana doctor who provided abortion services for a 10-year-old rape victim who crossed state line from Ohio in June, tweeted this. How many girls and women will be hurt before they realize this must be reversed? She will keep fighting for them.
And I'm wondering, what does that fight look like? Is it the idea of the ballot box? Is it the idea of the exception post to 20 weeks and beyond? What does that fight look like now?
ALLISON: Well, I think this fight has to have multiple layers. The first step is definitely people voting in the primary and I think for the people who are on the ballot that actually represent their values, and then voting in the midterms. But we can't just engage in one election. It has to be ongoing. We have to hold our elected officials accountable.
But we also have to look at the judiciary. The Biden administration is appointing -- they are judges on a district in appellate level with obviously the historic nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson. But we need to make sure that the Biden administration continues to appoint justices that are pro-life and that actually represent the will of the people.
And then with ballot initiatives, just like we saw in Kansas. There are opportunities across state levels for folks to collect signatures and make sure that people can stand up against election officials who are not actually saying that a woman should have bodily autonomy.
So, it's not a one-solution approach. There are multiple layers. And this will take many, many years. Alice has said before that this has been 50 years in the making for conservatives. So, we cannot expect for this to be overturned just in this election. We have to be committed to making sure that all citizens, all people living in this country have their constitutional right, and having access to abortion is one of those rights.
COATES: Well, you agree on one thing completely, that democracy is the path forward. Thank you, ladies.
STEWART: Thank you, Laura.
ALLISON: Thank you.
COATES: Olivia Newton-John passing away today at the age of 73. And up next, we will remember her magnificent career.
COATES: Tributes are pouring in for singer and actress Olivia Newton- John, who died today. Her "Grease" costar, Stockard Channing, saying, I don't know if I've known a lovelier human being. Olivia was the essence of summer - he sunniness, her warmth and her grace are what always come to mind when I think of her. I will miss her enormously.
In 1978, playing Sandy in "Grease" opposite John Travolta made Olivia Newton-John an absolute star.
COATES: Over the course of her career, she sold more than 100 million albums and scored multiple number one hits.
COATES: Newton-John was also known as an advocate for breast cancer research and also earlier detection. She was diagnosed with the disease in 1992, and then again in 2017. Just over a year later, she revealed she had the cancer at the base of her spine. Olivia Newton- John was 73 years old.
Thank you all for watching. Our coverage continues.