Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Tonight

Alex Jones Mocks Sandy Hook Families; January 6 Committee's Hearing Resumes Tomorrow; Supreme Court Justices Lean Into Politics; Michael Cohen Can See Trump's Revenge; Questions Looming Over John Fetterman's Health. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired October 12, 2022 - 22:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Thanks so much for joining us tonight. I'll be back tomorrow night with Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger. He's on the January 6th Select committee. This will be his first interview following tomorrow's hearing, which we're told will be the last one before the midterm elections. That's tomorrow night at 9 o'clock Eastern.

Until then, you can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the TikTok at Jake Tapper. Our coverage continues now with Laura Coates. Laura Coates. Did you see, I know you're a big inventing Anna fan. Did you see the interview with, Anna Delvey, a.k.a Anna Sorokin?

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: I did. I look forward to anything that is reality TV based, that I can think of somebody having a disguise. I love reinventing Anna. I love the interview because, you know, most people can't speak to her. Even the shows and series that people have, there are drawings of her. There are drawings from her in the in jail.

Now this is actually right in the thick of things. It was a great interview.

TAPPER: Thank you so much. Yes, I don't know if you picked up, I'm not really sure I'm buying what she's selling, but, we'll see.

COATES: I think the phrase is you weren't picking up what was being put down. That's the -- that was the filling in you. I have to say I love it.

TAPPER: We'll se. We'll see, we'll see. She, you know, she has the time. She has a chance now to do her thing. Let's see, let's see what she does.

COATES: Let's see what she does. And I think we'll probably see another show out of it. But, you know, I wouldn't be surprised if. Maybe there was another angle to pursue. Maybe that's the next one. Thanks so much. Great show as always.

TAPPER: See you, Laura. Thanks.

COATES: Good evening, everyone. Look, this is CNN Tonight. I'm Laura Coates. And don't worry, Alisyn is just off tonight. We'll see her again soon.

But we are going to keep the conversation going with our panelists from all across the political spectrum.

Let me just say, this is a day when you think about all the things that are coming in the news cycle, all the things that we're talking about. We've got the January 6th hearings tomorrow. We've got conversations around the midterm elections coming up. We know that after a day full of news, we want to talk about what's happened.

We're going to have those conversations here, not just the sound bites, but let it breathe a little bit. And I want to first play this for you because this happened today and it's a major story.

The conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones, he was reacting in real time to a jury that awarded nearly a billion dollars. And yes, you heard the letter B, a billion dollars. The Sandy Hook families and a first responder for his lies about the massacre that killed 20 children, six adults, nearly a decade.


ALEX JONES, HOST, THE ALEX JONES SHOW: The seven million, 20 million, 50 million, 80 million, a 100 million, blah, blah. You get a million, you get a hundred million, you get a 50 million. Do these people actually, they're getting any money?


COATES: First of all, how dare you use Oprah to have that moment? That's a very sacred moment. First of all, the whole, you get a car scene to have it used in that way, and then it tells you again, right, the how flippant it is. Do these people think they're getting any money?

I wonder if he's aware that these people he is talking are the parents and families and loved ones of children who were killed in their own school. I mean, just think about that. Talk about the ick factor. Talk about how it's stomach turning and lessons learned.

And by the way, we're asking you to contribute today, and I want to hear from you in our hash tag CNN sound off about whether you think that that awarding of that damage amount by the jury is going to actually change. There's trafficking in lies. If that's the real time, if that's what happens next, it's going to be a heck of week.

It turns out the price of lies though, is nearly a billion dollars, but this is the era of misinformation. So, will it stop the lies? It didn't stop him tonight talking about it and making fun.

We've also got a big conversation ahead. I mean, the midterms, I don't know if you've heard about it, but there's a big thing, it's coming less than a month away, and a big issue today is candidates and their health.

And let's go to Pennsylvania because John Fetterman, who is the Democratic Senate nominee in Pennsylvania, he's recovering, as you know, from a near fatal stroke that happened in May. And he is now using closed caption technology to help him understand what he's hearing. And he says that his speech is getting bigger -- better, excuse me.

But the thing is, speaking of big talk, there's a lot of people who are criticizing and having a lot of things to say about how this may all play out. Some justified, some not, will get that taken in a moment.

But he's hardly the first politician to actually have health problems, right? I mean, we're all old and young enough to remember that this is an issue not just for those running, but how about incumbents? And I wonder, does it really affect his fitness for office to the voters? And I wonder what matters to the voters and what doesn't.

And look, we're now just a few hours away from what is expected to be the final January 6th committee hearing before the midterms. They didn't say the last one, but before the midterms.

And sources telling CNN that they're going to have some never-before- seen videos and some testimony, not just about what happened at the capitol that day, but about the very clear and present danger to democracy even now.


I mean, they'd keep talking about what's on the ballot. Democracy, some say is directly on it as well. There's actually a committee member on that same committee telling CNN that some of the new material is quote, well, "pretty surprising."

I don't know if that's going to be the mic drop moment people are looking for as pretty surprising. But I want to bring in some smart folks who always have their own version of the mic drop.

This is Nia-Malika Henderson, and she's often confused as my doppel gay twin, and I'm always honored. So, we're sitting right next to each other to make sure --



COATES: Yes. We are -- we are different people.


COATES: There was a time once that under my name it said Nia-Malika.


COATES: Nia-Malika Henderson. And I was like.

HENDERSON: And there, there have been occasions when people who I've meet on the street have called me Laura. So, there you go. Yes.

COATES: Is that with the money or they just --

HENDERSON: Yes, I take care of.

COATES: Well, also confused for Laura Coates is David Axelrod. And Scott Jennings.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, Jennings and I are often being confused for each other. It happens all the time.

COATES: It really does. Gentlemen, you know, what's being confused for a lot of things. Maybe the idea of what the role of the Supreme Court is. And I know the lawyer in me wants to talk about the Supreme Court and the law. But really, it's a political conversation that's happening all over this country about whether they are apolitical.

I mean, they haven't done many favors themselves, but there are many moments now when democracy is on the ballot, are they on the ballot in a way?

AXELROD: Well, certainly the decision, the Dobbs decision is on the ballot. It's central to this campaign, so that has put the Supreme Court on the ballot. But there, as you know, they're considering all kinds of issues in real time that have profound impacts or will have profound impacts on the country.

And yes, I think that if court -- their conservative justices who are added to the Supreme Court, if they operate with a consistent philosophy then you can say, well, this is their interpretation of the Constitution. If they're inconsistent in order to achieve political goals, then they open themselves up to criticism.

And if they are out there saying things that seem overtly political. Justice Alito being an example of someone who does that from time to time, you invite the kind of criticism that they're getting.

COATES: Well, I'm going to turn to my good friend Scott Jennings for a second, because maybe you don't realize that he has a pet pig. And there's a re -- I'm bringing it up. It's true, right?


COATES: I'm bringing it up. I'm bringing it up because there is actually --

HENDERSON: Is it a Pot Belly Pig?

COATES: Is it --

JENNINGS: It's a Juliana mini pig. He bit me this week, by the way, just FYI.

COATES: Well, he should know, don't bite the area that feeds him.

(CROSSTALK) JENNINGS: It wasn't very --

AXELROD: You've been away too much.

JENNINGS: He was literally biting the hand that was trying to feed her (Inaudible), so.


JENNINGS: Because we had work to do.

COATES: What's the pig's name again so everyone knows?

JENNINGS: Harry Popper (Ph).

COATES: This is -- this is -- this is where we are right now in life. The reason I bring up pigs though --

AXELROD: The great minds in the Republican Party.


COATES: Well, there you go. Well, here's why I bring it up. The Supreme Court actually has a case. That's about pigs.

JENNINGS: I saw it keeps popping up in my Twitter feed. I see pictures of it.

COATES: Let me see -- do you know what it's about?


COATES: He's like swipe, swipe, swipe. Here's this case. Look, quick break.


AXELROD: As long it doesn't Harry Popper, you know.

COATES: It doesn't affect it. I don't know.

AXELROD: It could.

COATES: I mean, it could, it could, I would talk about it second, but the issue with that case, why it's so interesting and why I think it's about politics and why part of this conversation comes to January 6th is --


COATES: So, California has a law that says they will not allow export or import of pig products. They're not humanely raised pigs. The Supreme Court is looking at this issue to figure out, can California dictate how other states are treating and also conducting their own laws. It has notifications though with issues surrounding abortion.


COATES: With issues, you know, immediately issues surrounding transgender issues, surrounding a whole host of issues of, wait, do you get to dictate what other states are able to do.

AXELROD: Environmental.

COATES: Even climate change, everything else. All these things combined. It's like one of these cases that much like other things is masquerading as one issue, but it's about so much more.

JENNINGS: This idea of states being able to impact each other reminds me of right after the election when you had a number of states, essentially trying to dictate other state's election laws. You know, you had a number of attorneys general that filed suit to, I guess, in opposition to Pennsylvania's election laws.

And I think the Supreme Court decided not to take it up. And the idea against it, of course, was that you can't have one state. So, it's a lot of interesting federalism issues there, I would say.

COATES: Yes. I mean, the reason I bring it up and the idea of the masquerading and it appears to be one thing that people are believing it to be another ramification. It really does tie in my mind to a lot of what's happening with the committee hearings, with conversations about democracy more broadly.

The idea of what is this? What is the symbolism at stake, what's happening here, and what action of one, will have an impact on others? Do you see it?

HENDERSON: With the January 6th committee?


HENDERSON: And what happened on January 6th? Listen, I think the fact that we've had this January 6th committee hearings will have maybe the final one tomorrow. So important because so much of American history has often been erased, sort of rewritten and not adequately aired.


So, we'll see what happens tomorrow, the committee is going to try to suggest basically that Donald Trump planned the whole thing in terms of wanting to overthrow their election that he approved of the violence, liked the violence, wanted to go up to the capitol, and the Secret Service of course stopped him.

So, we'll see what, what ends up happening, how the public has received it over the last few months and what they come up with as a sort of closing argument.

COATES: And your mind is the public still care?

AXELROD: Well, I think -- I think that's --

COATES: I mean, rally?

AXELROD: I think a really good question.


AXELROD: Even around Trump, there's a superseding scandal since the -- since the last time the committee had its -- its hearings around the documents. And so, we've moved on in the --


COATES: Known as Mar-a-Lago.

AXELROD: Right. Known as Mar-a-Lago. But to your -- to your larger point, the thing that I've always said about Donald Trump, I mean, I have, you know, Scott and I disagree on some things. But democracy relies on a common sort of sense that there are rules and laws and norms and institutions that we all can rely on and that we all should believe in and that we should support and strengthen. Challenge when they're wrong, or challenge when they're flawed. But that's so fundamental to democracy.

The thing about January 6th was it reflected the fact. That we've seen again and again with Trump, that he doesn't believe in rules and law laws and norms and institutions. And he is someone who has ripped them down to suit his own purposes. And it goes --


COATES: But take that -- why --

AXELROD: I get your connection to the court.


AXELROD: Because if people lose faith in all the institutions of our democracy, we are in a -- we are in a bad place. But it also relies on the people who we entrust in those positions to act in good faith and have their own high regard for those institutions.

And so, you know, he did not, and we've paid a big price for that.

HENDERSON: Yes. And listen, I think a lot of members of his party, I think there was a moment there where people felt like maybe Republicans would do the right thing. Maybe they would, impeach him a second time and really hold him accountable for his complicity in what happened in January 6th.

But they decided, not only they decided not to hold him accountable, many Republicans believe the big lie or propagating the big lie now or running in different states to sort of advance some of his conspiracy theories around voting.

COATES: Well, you know, tomorrow we're going to hear more and probably new testimony, new things. We're going to pick this up after a quick break. But here's the thing. We're going to see some of who those people that have been entrusted in the government, cabinet members and others who might be called, who might be a part of it. We're going to pick it back up. There's a lot more to say about this and just the broader notion of where things are right now.

I mean, if the January 6th committee is anything, it's about a conversation about the Republic if you can keep it. We're going to talk about it in just a moment.



COATES: We're back with our panel and joining us, Nick Akerman as well. And you know, we're thinking about all these issues. We were talking more broadly, taking a step back. You know, the committee hearing is happening tomorrow and they have had a couple months off as we know whether they were working or not. We know they were working.

Here's actually a screenshot of the people who have actually they have spoken with since the last time we heard from this committee several months ago. I remember they rescheduled the hearing because of Hurricane Ian.

What sticks out in my mind on this list and this screen is Ginni Thomas. She is the wife of a sitting Supreme Court justice who just so happens, David, to have the case to decide about these, in some respect, the Mar-a-Lago documents. And I just find that pretty stunning. When you look at the approval ratings of this Supreme Court, in broad terms, their approval rating, gentlemen, it's the lowest that it's been since they began tracking, 40 percent since 2000.

Nick, does that not stunned you a little bit to think that, that she is one of the people and it doesn't bode well for confidence in the Supreme Court, does it?

NICK AKERMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: No, of course not. I mean, the idea that she was actually involved in talking to legislators in key states trying to get them to switch the vote to Donald Trump --


COATES: And still believes that the election was stolen.

AKERMAN: Right. He still believes that, which is really amazing.

AXELROD: But your point is a good one, which is should Justice Thomas be ruling on any issue related to this case or any cases involving Donald Trump given --

AKERMAN: No, he shouldn't be.

AXELROD: -- given that, or is the argument that she's an independent person. She's his spouse that shouldn't be held on his account.

JENNINGS: Yes. Well, look, I mean, she's not on the Supreme Court. Clarence Thomas is on the Supreme Court. There's never been one whisper of impropriety on the part of Clarence Thomas. There's been a decades long attempt to smear Clarence Thomas and to degrade him over time. And this is a continuation of that.

Regarding the approval ratings of the Supreme Court, they're not supposed to be reading polls. They're supposed to be reading the Constitution and the laws and making decisions therein. You do not want this branch of government worried about its approval rating. You want them only worried about the law and doing the job that they were put on that court to do.


COATES: But --

JENNINGS: And the idea -- and the idea that they can't function unless they're waking up every day and checking a poll, that's -- that's mob justice.

COATES: I don't think they're like teenagers checking their Twitter feed.

JENNINGS: They're mob rule.

COATES: I, when I -- when I talk about the idea of the approval rating for the Supreme Court, and I agree, they're not supposed to be ruling to see to somebody like me, it's not Sally Field is getting an award.

The idea is whether or not you can operate if the premise of precedent means it's only as good as people want to follow it. It's only as much as I want to respect the Supreme Court. If people look at it and say, kind of forget about it, that's not going to bode well for the confidence in this Supreme Court.


JENNINGS: Well, that's what Joe Biden does.

AKERMAN: That's the Supreme Court does.

COATES: Wait, what does Joe Biden do? What does he say?

JENNINGS: That's what Joe -- Joe Biden frequently ignores. And just this week was sort of calling them a more, what he called a political panel or something as opposed to --


AXELROD: No. Advocacy.

COATES: Advocacy.

JENNINGS: I mean, he is -- he is driving this national conversation that would lead people to believe that these folks are more partisan than judicial, and that's wrong. It's wrong. And it's whining from a political part that's not getting into --


AKERMAN: That is absolutely not true because look at Roe versus Wade. These people, the people that were appointed by Donald Trump were put on for one reason and one reason only. There was a litmus test. Were they going to overrule Roe versus Wade?

When you start looking at these justices they put in, they also put them in, in most unusual circumstances.


AKERMAN: Amy Coney Barrett went in like just a few days before the election. The other position with Kavanaugh was held off until the election was over. I mean, a whole year Obama was not able to -- was not able to appoint somebody.


AKERMAN: I mean, all of that leads, it's not so much the polls that Scott is talking about. It's really the court and its moral authority. And once you start getting away from acting like a court and start, basically giving what people perceive as political pronouncements. That's when you get into trouble.


COATES: That's kind of the --


AXELROD: I mean, like, you know, I don't want to -- I want to raise two points and I don't want to be too provocative with my friend here. But, you know, part of the cynicism and part of the polarization and part of the sense of all of this stem from the fact that President Obama appointed Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.

He was never even allowed a hearing. He was never even given an opportunity to appear before the Senate because Senator McConnell held up the nomination for the better part of a year. President Trump nominates Amy Coney Barrett and she goes through the speed lane, and in a matter of weeks she's on the Supreme Court.

That makes people cynical. When -- when justices appear before the Senate and say, Roe versus Wade is settled law. Now, they didn't say -- Doug Jones was on my podcast, the Axe Files podcast this weekend. He said, I think people heard what they wanted to hear. Just because they said it was settled law didn't mean that they didn't -- they weren't going to overturn it.

But the implication certainly was, it's a settled law, so we're not going to overturn it. Those kinds of things make people cynical. And when you say they're there to just rule on the law, and this is not a political process, then don't act in political ways.


JENNINGS: It's only -- but you only think it's politic because it didn't come out the way you wanted.

AXELROD: No, that's not --


JENNINGS: I mean -- I mean, the court --

AXELROD: That's not true.

JENNINGS: The court is not static. It changes. People come on. People go off.

AXELROD: You know --

JENNINGS: And today it's a conservative court. It hasn't always been --

AXELROD: You know something there -- that precedent stood for 50 years, Roe versus Wade. That -- that means something. That has become part of the fabric of our understanding of the law on this issue. Settled law means something. It's not just a phrase, it means something.

So, there are societal implications to these decisions. And you know, and I think that was what people were --


AKERMAN: And let me --

AXELROD: In 1930s, you -- you, I'm not saying you right --


AKERMAN: I wasn't there. I'm not that old.

COATES: I was going to say, I heard -- I heard --

AXELROD: But you're a student history. You're a student history, but you remember that --

COATES: That was then.

AXELROD: But you remember the 30s, the court in the 30s that basically rejected all the elements of the new deal --

AKERMAN: New deal. Yes.

AXELROD: -- until 1938 when President Roosevelt threatened to pack --


AKERMAN: Court packing. AXELROD: -- court packing. And then one of the justices changed --

AKERMAN: Changed.

AXELROD: -- his position, and part of it was that there was clear national consensus on some of these issues. So yes, there, you know, should justices be sensitive to the environment around them and the era in which they're ruling and the, you know, yes. I think the answer is yes. And if you don't, I think you also invite the kinds of things that -- the kinds of numbers that we see.

AKERMAN: Well, even worse though. I mean, the way the system is set up now, the incentive, this is for both parties. The incentive is to point the youngest possible person you can for political reasons, to keep them in there for as long as you can. As opposed to going after people that, you know, have stature that are something other than circuit court judges.

COATES: So, you want term limits.

AKERMAN: Well, that's one thing I'd want, but Earl Warren, for example, I mean, no one is up thinking about appointing a, you know, governor to the Supreme Court. Arthur Goldberg, who is somebody who is a seasoned labor lawyer, who, I mean the pillars of the bar are not being considered for appointment to the Supreme Court and that is a problem on both sides.

COATES: Well, you know what? I want to take it to a different side, kind of brief. The third wall I want to hear from social media as well. Everyone can stick around. We'll have this conversation, but I want to hear from what you have to say. What is your take? What's your opinion of the Supreme Court right now?

Use the hash tag CNN sound off and anything else on your mind tonight, I mean within reason. And if it's from Sally Field, I do love you and I love that award acceptance speech. I was just using it as a moment here. Everyone, we'll be back in a moment.



COATES: Convicted con artist Anna Sorokin is out of prison and speaking to Jake Tapper from house arrest.


ANNA SOROKIN, FAKE HEIRESS: I feel like I'm getting a second chance to fix my mistakes. Yes. And I'm so happy I agreed to release me even if it's just house arrest.

TAPPER: House arrest. And you have this ankle monitor here.


TAPPER: Is that annoying? SOROKIN: No. I'm getting used to it. They tighten it up a little bit.

So it's not dangling as it used to.

TAPPER: Are you allowed to leave the apartment at all?


TAPPER: Not at all.

SOROKIN: No. Well, I'm supposed to check in with my criminal parole and my ICE officers, but otherwise, no.

TAPPER: And do you have any idea how long you're going to be in house arrest?


SOROKIN: No, not yet. We're like figuring it out now.


COATES: Well, look, I'm joined by someone who knows a thing or two about house arrest is former Trump attorney, Michael Cohen. He's out with a brand-new book. It's called "Revenge: How Donald Trump Weaponized the United States Department of Justice Against His Critics." And he's also the host of the podcast, Mea


Michael Cohen, I'm glad that you're here. First, you know, when you look at that and you think about house arrest, people are often wondering what that experience was like for you at a time when everyone was talking around the issue. Donald Trump was still very much the news all the time. His narrative was out there, yours was not as much in the same way. What was that like for you?

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER DONALD TRUMP'S LAWYER: So, house arrest is quite difficult. It's, you know, depending upon the weather. It's a beautiful day, you want to go out for a walk, you can't. You know?

COATES: It's better than prison.

COHEN: Well, that, yes, for sure because you get to be with your family, but it's still difficult. But like in prison, you have to make sure that you, you know, time manage yourself. Very, very important. And during my house arrest my home confinement, which is what they call it, I actually wrote the book.

COATES: And in this book, what I find so interesting about it is when you talk about Donald Trump weaponizing the Department of Justice against his critics. You know, the January 6th committee, in some respects, is about weaponizing democracy. The thought is against those who sought and dared to say he didn't win, and trying to make sure people were aware and have the -- are illuminated the fact that he was did not win the election.

When you're watching these committee hearings and you're watching them try to tie together Donald Trump to the different actors, to the different statements, even in the D.C. court, the Oath Keepers, what's going through your mind? Are you thinking Teflon Don?

COHEN: No. I'm actually thinking back to the Mueller investigation and I'm drawing a comparison to the two of them. The Mueller report should have been turned over to the Justice Department. They should have brought the indictments back then and put an into all of this. It would not be necessary for the country to be going through it again.

What did they in spoke -- they spoke to what? A thousand people. There's tens of thousands of hours of information, of testimony, of documents that they have in their possession. The problem that we have going right now is that every single day, captain chaos throws something new out there and the media starts chasing.

And I talk about this in the book. The media chases the story and everybody throws their hands up, say, he's guilty. He's guilty. We have to get him on this. We have to get him on this. Why? Why? We already know how many illegal acts that the man has committed.

So, if you can't get him on this one, because it's potentially more difficult, let's go the Al Capone theory. You can't get him for murder, extortion, racketeering. I'm talking about Al Capone not Trump. Let's get him for tax evasion. It's a -- it's a no brainer. Just do something to get him out of the game.

COATES: But no -- I hear you on the no brainer, but obviously, you know, we're both attorneys. The idea of thinking about how you meet your burden and how you would prove that, because what you're saying is exactly the talking point in retort that many of his supporters will say, including himself, which is, OK, so just throw anything against the wall and have a kind of fishing expedition.

I don't think that's what's happening, but have a fishing expedition and something will stick. Doesn't that just fuel the narrative that everyone is out to get him and there's no -- there's no credibility?

COHEN: It does, but that's not what I'm saying. What I'm saying is, instead of going after all the stuff he's throwing against the wall, because every day he does something new. Mar -- right? The January 6th, let's go to mar-a-Lago documents. Let's go to, you know, everything else that the guy does.

Let's stop and let's not concentrate on all of that. Let's just go for the low hanging fruit because the guy will fight you tooth and nail on everything. Let's not forget, in order for the district attorney and the A.G. to get their documents, what did they end up having to do? They had to bring a lawsuit and of course he lost, Trump. So, they appealed and he lost the appeal, and then he tried to take it to the Supreme Court.

All that he does is delayed, delay, delay. And the country can't afford to allow Donald to continue to delay it because his goal is to weaponize the Justice Department as he did before, as he did with me.

COATES: But speak -- COHEN: Not just --

COATES: Speaking of you though, and that I found that really interesting in the book in particular, because you actually, you fear for your safety --

COHEN: Sure.

COATES: -- if Trump is elected again. Tell me why.

COHEN: Well, it's not just me. I fear for the safety of many people. He has an enemy's list that's probably a mile long. You, for all you know, because you've spoken negatively about him. You could be on that list as well. He doesn't care about anyone. Their safety --


COATES: But what's the consequence of that list?

COHEN: The consequence? If in fact, he becomes president again, when I -- you've heard me say this a million times, I don't believe he's even running, but what about the Trump 2.0? Somebody that is indebted to Trump, then what happens?


Every single person is in jeopardy and Donald doesn't care. He's -- I'm not the one that's saying it. He said it. He can shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it. He's not joking. Donald Trump has no sense of humor. He's not joking. He really believes that he can do anything that he wants.

He believes that he's the king, not the president of the United States. He believed he was king and that he can do anything based on executive privilege.

COATES: When you talk about weaponizing the Department of Justice, is the equivalent of above the law, right? The idea of using is obviously executive branch is under the umbrella of the presidency. He's not the president any longer. But does that mean that, I mean you're --


COHEN: Well, tell that to the folks at Mar-a-Lago who are running around calling him Mr. President. He legitimately believes.

COATES: Is that what happens still?


COATES: At Mar-a-Lago they call him Mr. President.


COHEN: Yes, they still call him Mr. President.

COATES: Not out of respect for having been, but as in they think he still is.

COHEN: Many of them.

COATES: I wonder what you make of the Mar-a-Lago case more broadly. You've been there, you spent a great deal of time down there. You would understand the ins and outs and what's going on. Is there any conceivable way that you think that there would've been classified documents in that area in the estate, and he was unaware.

COHEN: No. First of all, we know and we saw photos of the pallets of boxes of documents, and they have already stated that Donald told them which boxes to take. I mean, that's already been reported, not obviously by me, but by the press. Assuming of course that it's true and that they spoke to the individual, and I suspect that they probably did, but he knew everything.

Nothing left the White House unless Donald said so. Nothing was put into Mar-a-Lago unless Donald said so. Nothing ever occurred, whether it was the Trump Organization or in the White House without Donald Trump's explicit direction with his knowledge.

COATES: You know, we do have some new reporting out. I mean, thinking about that, there are some key pieces about the Mar-a-Lago documents, the surveillance camera, whatever footage is there. Everything is not connected through the reporting fully in the sense that we don't know exactly what the DOJ is doing with the information, but the idea and align with you talking about, who's pulling the strings and who would've given directives is really interesting to think about here.

This book, though, "Revenge: How Donald Trump Weaponized the Department of Justice Against His Critics." It is a hell of a read.

COHEN: Yes. Look, one of the things that really upset me the most is right after the plea, Lanny Davis went on every television station with his PowerPoint presentation, for example, talking about the taxi evasion case. And showing, as a lawyer, not one single element of tax evasion applied to me, not one.

I don't have overseas bank accounts like Manafort. I never had an overseas nominee. I never had an overseas business. There was no overseas anything. There were no fake invoices and wire transfers, nothing. Every single dollar was sitting in Capital One Bank that was located the base of the building I lived in.

And in fact, I gave to my account the CPA. Every single bank statement that showed deposit, it was an error. It should have been a tax omission, but where they gave me 48 hours to plead guilty to a multitude of charges, or they were filing an 80-page indictment that was going to include my wife and I would never allow that to happen. And so, I said to them, OK.

COATES: Don't give away any more of your book.


COATES: It's called "Revenge." COHEN: I apologize.

COATES: You got to read the book next. You got to read it and rest the story about it. And I want to hear more about Michael Cohen. Thank you so much. Nice to see you.

COHEN: Good to see you as well.

COATES: Look, it's one of the most watched races heading into the midterms and Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman, who is answering a lot of -- answering a lot of questions about his health. We're going to go there, next.



COATES: Well look, the midterms are less than a month away, and one of the most watched races is in Pennsylvania, where Democratic Senate nominee John Fetterman is battling Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz. Fetterman's health has hung over much of the race after he suffered a near fatal stroke back in May. And the Oz campaign has been trying to raise questions about his fitness for office.

Back with me Nina-Malika Henderson, David Axelrod, and Scott Jennings.

What does your gut tell you about how this is playing? Why are you smiling like that, Scott? I didn't even ask. He's like, what? What? What was that smile?

JENNINGS: You said, -- you said that -- you said the Oz campaign is trying. I mean, the way Fetterman's campaign handled this from the beginning, his race questions about his fitness for office, they were not truthful. He's barely been on the campaign trail when he has been out there. It's been charitably really rough.

And that's on top of the fact that this man's entire personal narrative is fabricated and he's far too liberal on issues like crime for the state of Pennsylvania. They've run a campaign about nothing, and they've run a campaign without a candidate.

I am not surprised. It is a tied race and this thing coming up on October 25th, this debate is pivotal because he's going to have to finally prove whether he's up to this or not.

COATES: What do you think?

AXELROD: I think Scott has a strong point of view on this. Look, I think -- I think it was interesting. I watched him on NBC last night, and it was interesting to me first that he did the interview. And he said something in the interview that I found really powerful, which was, I thought I -- and he had trouble saying the word empathetic, but he said, I thought I had empathy. But now my empathy is a lot deeper because I haven't even stronger sense for people who struggle, who -- for people who have obstacles. I actually think that's pretty powerful. But Scott is right that this debate is going to be important. One of the reasons I think he did the interview was to sort of, to explain in advance, you know, why he was using -- why he's using

COATES: Closed captioning.

AXELROD: -- closed captioning. He can't process auditory communication well, yet they say he will get over that, but he can't right now. And that's pretty inconvenient in a campaign.

COATES: What do you think?

HENDERSON: Listen, Democrats have been worried about his health about how he would appear in public at this debate. I think in some ways, some of their fears were a little eased by the NBC interview that he had.


I think his progress is a little bit better than some Democrats thought it would be. But listen, it's going to be a tight race. You can see that it's tightening. Partly it's tightening because they're running ads in Pennsylvania about crime.


HENDERSON: And his record there. They're also trying to figure out whether or not black voters are going to show up for him. And Oz is trying to compete for black voters, particularly in Philadelphia. So, this is going to be a tight, tight race.

AXELROD: But you know, the reason that the debate is important is twofold. It is, yes. He has to show that he can -- he can hack it. The second is he's going to have to confront the crime issue. He was chairman of the parole board. They're attacking him for that.


AXELROD: And there are -- there are counter attacks. There are responses and counter attacks. And the question is, can he manage that in this debate? It's going to be very important. I think people are going to be watching.

COATES: We will.

AXELROD: He does have the lead. We should point out. The people of the state have a -- they -- there is a personal relationship with Fetterman. They don't have that with Oz because he is not from Pennsylvania, which is a big problem.

COATES: Part of the issue.

COATES: Look, we're going to talk more about that. Such a quick break. Everyone, stay with me. We're going to be right back. [22:50:00]


COATES: Back with me Nia-Malika Henderson, David Axelrod, and Scott Jennings.

See what happened during the break is what really happens in the green room conversations. Which is, what's the real conversation people are having? You know, we're talking about this interview, we're talking about what it might mean to voters, but there's been a really visceral reaction to what's been happening with the journalist.



COATES: And Nia, you pointed out that she asked a question or -- and made a statement actually.


COATES: Made a statement about the work was understanding. Can you tell us what it said?

HENDERSON: Listen, as a journalist, you never want to become part of a story, but this journalist, Dasha Burns, has become part of the story as part of the interview. And in talking to Lester Holt, she made a comment, which was in small talk before the interview without captioning, it wasn't clear he, means John Fetterman --

COATES: John Fetterman.

HENDERSON: -- was understanding our conversation. And with that, lots of other journalists who had interviewed Fetterman unleashed on her and essentially made it seem like she was making a sort of partisan --


AXELROD: But every single one of them interviewed him as she did.


AXELROD: With close captioning. She just said --

HENDERSON: What he said --

AXELROD: -- what he has explained, which is he has problems with auditory processing --


AXELROD: -- as a result of the stroke. It's improving, but it's not where it needs to be. And that's why he uses this closed captioning. What she said was totally appropriate.

HENDERSON: Yes. She wasn't making an argument about whether he was fit.


HENDERSON: Minimally fit for office.


COATES: But it was the word understanding --

HENDERSON: -- that turned into that. Yes.

COATES: -- that people are taking. And I want to -- let's just -- let's have his own words because he says something about that. He talks about why he used captioning. Here is his own words.


JOHN FETTERMAN (D), PENNSYLVANIA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I use captioning. So that's really the major, excuse me -- that's the major challenge. And every now and then I'll miss a word every now and then, or sometimes I'll maybe mush two words together. But, as soon as I have captioning, I'm able to understand exactly what's being asked.


COATES: You have a problem with this guy because you think this, I mean, in our conversations, you think that this does not bode well for a candidate.

JENNINGS: Well, I don't know yet. I mean, this is so unusual. I mean, to do an interview like this is one thing to do a debate, which I guess he's going to use this captioning system at the debate is a totally different thing, which I don't have any experience. I don't know how it's going to go.

So, I think they have constantly undersold this guy's health issues. His campaign, in my opinion, outright lied about it when it first happened. He was off the campaign trail. They won't release his medical records now. He clearly is having issues.

That was OK in that clip. If you've seen any of the clips of him trying to give speeches, it's really, really rough and I think this reporter made a very clear, commentary about her observation of interviewing him. And what's crazy is just the number of other journalists and people on the left who have dog piled her today.

There is a national A.P. story about her tonight and the criticism that she's receiving, it's not right. She did her job and she made a fair observation. And it reminds me of what happened in 2020. When anyone would criticize Joe Biden, about any confused story or weird thing he said, you know, he has a stuttering problem. It's the same thing.


JENNINGS: You can't just wipe it away. This guy has to answer some questions because it happened, and also because of the way his campaign, I think, has been dishonest about it here before.

COATES: Is it the same thing?

AXELROD: No, I don't think it's the same as the Biden thing because the guy had a stroke. I mean, I don't disagree with you. They should, you know, I think they -- they weren't as forthcoming as they should have been before the primary.

But he had a stroke. He's recovering. And, he, you know, the test will be --

HENDERSON: This debate.

AXELROD: The test will be this debate. I mean, and then we'll see. He'll be there. His opponent will be there. He'll be -- he'll be answering questions, he'll be answering charges of, presumably he'll be making some, and we'll see how he functions in that environment.

The fact that it's adapted for his particular disability, which may be transient, to me, is there's nothing wrong with that. And I actually, like I said at the beginning, there is something compelling about someone who's gone through a struggle, you know, standing in the United States Senate and speaking to the issues of the day, you know. So, we'll see.

COATES: We will see, and we've actually heard what you all think. I want to see what the audience has to say about this, who was listening in. Tweet me your thoughts at the Laura Coates. We're going to get you into the conversation and get your take as well. Use a hash tag CNN sound off.

Next, nearly a billion bucks, with a B. That's what Alex Jones was actually awarded by the jurors in the Sandy Hook case involving Sandy Hook families. Eight of them and one first responder. We'll take you there, next.



COATES: The amount was nearly $1 billion. That's how much a jury says that Alex Jones needs to pay to eight families of the Sandy Hook massacre and a first responder. Now, they sued the right-wing conspiracy theorist for lies that he told about the horrific 2012 school shooting, the one that killed 20 little children. And six adults nearly 10 years ago.

But Jones, well, he's now mocking the verdict. Maybe he thinks it's funny. Claiming there is no money.

Let's talk about it now with Maria Campo, Kirsten Powers, and David Urban.

I got to tell you, the mere mention of his name and what has happened at Sandy Hook, you get the most visceral reaction from people collectively because it's just so disturbing. And yet, listen to this for a moment. Here's what he said after that jury award came down, it wasn't like he took it seriously. Listen to this.