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Everything You Need To Know About Artificial Intelligence; Classified Documents Found At Pence's Indiana Home; Fulton County D.A. Wants Findings Kept Private On Trump Inquiry; Governor DeSantis Wants To Scrap Unanimous Recommendation Of Death Penalty; Widespread Damage Due To Tornadoes In Paradise, Texas. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired January 24, 2023 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR: Well, good evening, everyone. I'm Laura Coates and this is CNN TONIGHT.
And what could be the next big thing that could change everything, like your smart phone did 15 years ago? Well, there might be an answer. It's the rise of artificial intelligence. Now, you may have heard of ChatGPT. You might have thought it was a typo when you actually saw on your screen but it's not it's called ChatGPT. But the question is what exactly is it? Well, I wasn't sure how to explain it myself.
So you know what, I went right to the source. ChatGPT, briefly describe yourself for a T.V. audience. Here's what they came up with, quote, ChatGPT it's a sophisticated computer program that uses artificial intelligence to understand and generate human-like language. It can answer questions, write stories and even engage in conversation. It's been trained on a massive amount of tech data, so it's able to understand and respond to a wide range of topics and questions. It's like having a very knowledgeable and well spoken personal assistant available 24/7 to help with anything you need. Did you get all of that? That's according to ChatGPT.
And tonight, we're going to talk all about artificial intelligence, the good, the bad, the pretty cool, and what it could actually mean in your future.
Plus, is there anybody out there who doesn't have any classified document lying around? I mean, I joke about the number of glass houses that are popping up in Washington, D.C. but you've really got to wonder what's going on when the president of the United States and the former president of the United States and his former vice president of the United States have all been found to have classified documents in places where they should not. The question really is what happens now.
There is an awful lot going on tonight but I want to get right to artificial intelligence and what it could mean for our future. Joining me now, Axios Tech Reporter Ashley Gold, also former Democratic Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang, founder of the Forward Party. I'm glad that you're both here tonight, I'm just thinking about this.
And to be honest, I actually, when I first saw it, I was like, oh, I think I might be typing this in wrong. What's happening, what's going on here? ChatGPT, it says it can do a whole lot. It describes itself just now. But the possibilities really are really expansive here. Talk to me about those possibilities and what it could really do.
ASHLEY GOLD, TECH REPORTER, AXIOS: So, there're opportunities here in academia, for school, for workers, for writers, for people doing research, for people trying to gather data for companies to become more efficient. It really is endless what this prompt do.
COATES: You know, and again, it's ChatGPT, everyone, the diction is important here. I was thinking it once thinking the ChatGPT, let me go to you on this Andrew. It's really important because I wonder -- I mean, what would people -- when you are thinking about how this all works and the ideas of what this could mean for so many people. I do wonder for you, what would you tell people that they need to know about A.I.?
ANDREW YANG, FORMER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: While, you're talking about a bought that can produce high school, even college level essays in the blink of an eye, it will transform the way a lot of our schools function and operate. Colleges already are dealing with students who are turning and A.I.-generated essays.
But there are 2 million Americans right now that work and call centers and make about $17 an hour. This technology will be able to replace them in very, very short order. Someone described ChatGPT as the model T of A.I., where it's the first generally useful application. But you're going to go from a model T to a Lamborghini in a matter of months or weeks, instead of years. So, I think people should really be digging into what this is going to mean for schools, the workforce and even our democracy. COATES: You know what, I had to do a little research and ask what
ChatGPT might think Andrew Yang might say in reaction to that very question.
So, I'm going to tell the audience what ChatGPT said you would answer that question, how they said it.
COATES: I mean, it's technology after all. As Andrew Yang, it says, I would stress the importance of understanding the potential impact of Artificial Intelligence on the job market, and the need to prepare for displacement of certain jobs by automation. I would also highlight the importance of investing in training and education programs to help people acquire the skills necessary to thrive in this economy. In addition, I would emphasize the importance of having a thoughtful and proactive approach to the ethical and societal implications of A.I. What do you think of them getting inside your head?
YANG: You know, I think it's pretty good. I'd say it's a high school or college level Andrew Yang answer.
The fact is, though, government-funded retraining programs tend to have very, very low reported success rates. It's more of a talking point than a real policy. This stuff is speeding up. It's operating much more quickly than most people can really even conceive of. And I badly wish that our leaders were reckoning with what this is going to mean. I hope that ChatGPT wakes up the American people to the fact that A.I. is no longer science fiction, it's here and now.
COATES: And you know who's here, Ashley, as well. I want to ask you about this. Because how is it working? I mean, how is this particular A.I. getting the information? Is it synthesizing from the internet exclusively? Is it in present daytime? Is it constantly reflected? Is it able to hypothesize? How does it actually work?
GOLD: No. So, it's not quite that sophisticated. It can't hypothesize. It can't gather data from the internet in real-time. And actually we just reported yesterday in Axios that the data set it pools from actually ended in 2021. So, this is not real-time web page data it's pulling from. So, it is quite limited in that way. It is trained on a certain number of websites and it sort of ends there. That doesn't mean it can't get more sophisticated in the future but that's what we're dealing with right now.
COATES: Should there be and are there concerns right now about the idea that this could replace, I mean, even a skilled worker, an unskilled worker, as they say? Is there concern about this having an impact negatively?
GOLD: Absolutely, there's the concern. What we've been talking about in my newsroom is that there is a real fear that this could replace creative job, like creating graphics, creating illustrations for a website or for a company, or even generating articles. We just saw last week, CNET announced it was not going to have A.I.-generated articles anymore because many of them had errors. This is the problem of the generative text. It puts forth very readable, casual sort of clear stories and texts, but that doesn't mean it's all true. It's not fact-checking the stuff in real-time.
COATES: Essentially because, Andrew, we asked the technology to be able to write under the notion that was created, to write a short scene from a screenplay about scientists discovering a new airborne pathogen that could cause a global pandemic. That was essentially the instruction. Look what it turned out and had. It really provided then a screenplay on that particular short seen, the fade in, the research lab, et cetera, what you're actually looking at. It's pretty cool thing that we're seeing a team of scientists in their lab codes and what they're doing, giving the -- really setting the scene, Sophia Petrillo-style of picture it, science lab, modern day, whatever that might be, although not in Sicily. And you've got all the dialogue actually happening right there.
And so you have sort of wonder, that's really cool that this can work this way, but are there some harmful aspects to this, especially on the point that Ashley raised of, say it's not in the creative space of a screenplay, say it's instead an expectation that is providing truthful, factual information in real-time. If it's not fact-checking or maybe appreciating even the human nuance of certain, I don't know, sarcasm or satire or misinformation, can it be trusted?
YANG: Well, to Ashley's point, A.I. can generate artistic creations, like paintings, like pieces of music. And 44 percent of American jobs are considered either repetitive cognitive or repetitive manual. So, this technology is going to replace a lot of white collar jobs. People think about automation as a blue collar phenomenon. We blasted away 4 million manufacturing jobs in this country, which, by the way, in my view, lead to Trumpism and the depletion of opportunities in the Midwest and the south and now it's coming for white collar jobs. I mean, we need to wake up.
I'm so glad you're covering the story in a way that you are, Laura, because when I was running for president on this a, lot of people looked up and said, hey, it's X years away. I mean, it's 2023 and it's here with us.
You can go to ChatGPT and use it for yourself.
COATES: It is true. And thank you for that, and thinking about the way in which, you know, what we think is really on the horizon suddenly becomes right in front of us.
And on that point, I want to turn to how this might be used in sort of the knowledge space, so to speak, and a sign of just how advanced artificial intelligence could actually become. ChatGPT actually passed the NBA exam given by a Wharton professor. And guess what, that professor joins me now. He's Christian Terwiesch from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Professor I'm very glad you're here right now because we're thinking about the ways in which this could be used and how it might be able to be thought of not just an automation of blue collar workers but the idea of a category known as sort of the knowledge workers or the knowledge-based employment. Talk to me about what happened when the ChatGPT took an MBA exam at Wharton, no less.
CHRISTIAN TERWIESCH, PROFESSOR, WHARTON SCHOOL OF UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: Well, first of all, thank you for having me on the show, Laura. Over the holidays, I ran these experiments. My kids were super interested in A.I. One was playing around with (INAUDIBLE) next generation technologies, the other was playing with ChatGPT. And so the question came up, like can this thing passed your exam at Wharton?
And so what we did it is we've fed it five of my exam questions and it did super well. It did amazingly well on three of the five questions. For two of the five questions, it needed a human hand. But one of them was sort of struggling. But I was just in awe in terms of the quality of the answer, the writing, there was some humor in it, it was transparent and, again, absolutely cool stuff.
COATES: What do you mean by it needed a human hint? Is it sort of appreciate a nuance of a statement or it needed more data of some kind? What did that feel like?
TERWIESCH: So, really interesting. So, on the tougher questions, it struggled. But then I gave it a hint. I said, remember this and this use this tool. And it actually picked up the hint, just like if a student who was struggling in class would and it improved the answer, and in one case, got the answer right after two hints than the other one.
You have to remember, Laura, it's really bad with math. There's a real irony to that in the sense that it's a computer, right? But it struggles with math. It's as human as you and I in a sense that, again, it has humor, it's great with words. But for whatever reason, it's struggling with mathematics, which really has to do with the underlying technology that is in the box.
COATES: That is fascinating to think about, that it has an Achilles heel, perhaps just like human intellect as well. But, you know, I'm sure a lot of people in academia are looking at this not just from the idea of the fascination but there is the honor code violation prospects that could happen all across the country.
And I meant to the vein (ph), we entered in and asked, write the first paragraph of a college essay application for a student applying to Princeton. It actually wrote it. And it began talking about being on the cusp of adulthood and contemplate my future, I can't help but reflect on the experiences and opportunities that have shaped me in the person I am today.
Now, truth be told, Professor, this looks a lot like my own essay for Princeton University, and we didn't have ChatGPT, so it was legit back then, thank you very much. However, this is a real risk for many people, to think, well, this is a sophisticated version of CliffsNotes, right? This is the open book exams. You've got technology, you can ask people. Is that a concern that this will be used in a nefarious way, to cheat the system?
TERWIESCH: Absolutely. And I think any institution from K-12 to the business school, professions within medical schools and law schools are concerned about this at the moment. So, I think one thing is we have to ban it in certain cases when we're certifying a skill. You don't want your doctor to have only passed the test with the help of an A.I. bot.
On the other hand, I think it also opens up amazing opportunities for us to have our students basically get new learning experiences to transform the classrooms, to engage our students more. And so I think the cheating question is the real one. Absolutely, it needs to be banned on certain circumstances. But I really would want us to think bigger than that.
But at the end of the day, what we did is end up in a place where we were last year. We have not taken advantage of a huge opportunity.
COATES: Well, you know, just think about the idea of what could happen, if we only can find ourselves with the risk of progress, we probably would not take any steps in any direction. Thank you, professor. Thank you so much.
And before we go, I want to break. I want to go to Andrew, if we can bring him back into the conversation. Andrew, I would be remiss if I didn't point out earlier tonight, I was watching my colleague and friend, Erin Burnett, and your wife was actually on the program. And she was speaking and her reaction to the conviction of her OB/GYN, who victimized her and many others with sexual assault and beyond. And I just wanted to say that I really commend her bravery.
I commend that she spoke up in the first instance and the impact that she has had even now. So, I hope that you know we're all thinking of your family.
YANG: Well, thank you, Laura. I am so proud of Evelyn and so glad for the hundreds of women who saw justice served today with a conviction of a serial predator in the form of Dr. Hadden. And I also want to extend our gratitude to Dana Bash and Erin Burnett and the team at CNN who helped bring this story to light in a really, really sensitive way that helped my family get through a very difficult time. So, thank you all.
COATES: Your family, and so many others. I appreciate you coming on. Thank you. And our best to Evelyn.
YANG: I'll let her know.
COATES: Thank you. We'll be right back.
COATES: Let's just imagine together, if you will, how many former officeholders are digging through their files right now, as we speak, I mean, looking for any classified documents where they are not supposed to be, the latest discovery, about a dozen documents marked as classified at former Vice President Mike Pence's Indiana home, that after more than 100 classified documents were found at former President Trump's Mar-a-Lago beach club, and the drip, drip, drip of documents found at President Biden's one-time Washington office and at his home in Wilmington.
Here to talk about all of this, CNN Senior Political Commentator and former Congressman Adam Kinzinger.
I'm glad you're here, Congressman. You know, there are a lot of people living in glass houses tonight in Washington, D.C., and outside of the beltway, who are wondering, is my previous statement going to age well? In fact, if you listen to this, you had the former vice president on ABC and also CBS talking about classified documents. Listen to what he had to say
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me ask you as we sit here in your home office in Indiana, did you take any classified documents with you from the White House?
MIKE PENCE, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: I did not.
Our staff reviewed all of the materials in our office and in our residents to ensure that there were no classified materials that left the White House, or remained in our possession. And I remain confident that that was done in a thorough and careful way. Clearly, in the waning days of the Trump/Pence administration, that process was not properly executed by staff around the president of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: What's your reaction to the turn of events now?
ADAM KINZINGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first up, he gets credit for, I guess, deciding to do a search, coming forward with the classified documents. And so it's become obvious that there is a problem with vice presidents and presidents somehow being able to take the stuff with them. I want to say a quick aside, in the Senate and the House, I don't see how it would actually be possible at all for a senator or a House member to do this because everything is very tightly controlled.
If you look at classified documents, for instance, they come in a folder. You have people watching to make sure if you take notes, that they are acceptable notes even, usually you can't take those with you, and that you are turn those documents. But evidently, for a president and vice president, but it's a little more loose. And that's somewhat understandable because I'm sure the entire White House or at least the residents of the White House, has a SCIF or a protected area where you can look at these documents. But we have a problem here, and we certainly need to get our hands around this.
COATES: I mean, it's true, thinking about it, and, again, obviously, we're talking about modern presidency and thinking about where and how these documents are tracked and where they ought to be. Let's just say, I mean, we see this problem now happening more often than anyone would like to admit perhaps, our national security implications obviously top of mind. We're talking a classified documents. But we don't yet know what these documents are. We don't know what they are really. We're talking about the documents found at Mar-a-Lago, let alone in Wilmington, or at the Penn-Biden Center, or what's happening in Indiana.
Are we at a disadvantage being able to really assess what's happened here unless we know what's in those documents, which by the way, we may never know, because they're classified and they have designations like that?
KINZINGER: Yes. So, look, I think, generally, anything that's marked secret or top secret, you can assume, if that gets out, that creates damage. We do have a problem, I think, with classification to an extent but I think specific documents, so I don't know what was gotten in all these gentlemen's residences. But if something that you look at may not be harmful particularly just in what you read. I read some top secret stuff that, quite honestly, is stuff you can find in the news. But the thing that is classified and the reason it's classified is because it can imply sources and methods to get that information, which our adversaries, if they put this together, they can maybe figure out who the mole is or anything else.
And so, yes, I mean, if you look at what's going on, I don't think we'll ever necessarily may know the subjects but we're not going to know what's in those documents. But it would create real harm if that got out and. And, again, I think with somebody like a Mike Pence, you can look and say he gets credit for proactively searching but we've got a real problem here.
COATES: I mean, he's getting a lot more than just credit, frankly, these days and a lot of comparisons and parallels being drawn and contrasts being drawn even when there aren't obvious contrasts to draw, for example, when we're talking about CNN obtained the letter sent on behalf of Pence to the Archives, saying that Pence was unaware of the documents and it really kind of followed a great deal what we saw already from the Biden team, where lawyers were looking at documents at home, looking through boxes, saw a classification designation, closed it, alerted the Archives, then DOJ was talked to, and then everything proceeds from then.
And yet you have the House oversight chairman, James Comer, who was drawing a distinction. I want to just -- here's what he has to say. He said, former Vice President Mike Pence reached out today about classified documents found at his home in Indiana. He has agreed to fully cooperate with congressional oversight. And any questions we have about the matter, former Vice President Pence's transparency stands in stark contrast to Biden White House staff who continue to withhold information from Congress and the American people.
Is there truly a distinction between how the two have conducted themselves, save the press briefings, but truly the reaction to the presence of documents?
KINZINGER: Yes. So, this is what bothers me about politics, honestly, is that people will take a position not based on what's right, not based on merits, but based on whose team. Every member of Congress, left to right, frankly, Republican or Democrat, needs to be on the same standard when it comes to Joe Biden and Mike Pence. More than likely, everything we're hearing is that it was basically the same way of going about it. It doesn't mean it was right.
The difference is, with Donald Trump, he was alerted to this and continued to resist turning these over. That is very different than being alerted to this and proactively getting these turned over.
So, there may be some differences here but, again, I would encourage the media, I would encourage citizens, constituents, to look at your member of Congress and say, are you being consistent? We need to elect consistency. That's what we're missing in this country, is a commitment to a standard of truth and consistency.
COATES: A really important point. And just for those out there wondering, Clinton, Bush, Obama, all the (INAUDIBLE) may turned over the classified documents. They're reading the writing on the wall. They don't want to live in a glass house either. We'll see what else comes of all of this. Thank you for being here tonight.
KINZINGER: You bet.
COATES: Well, in another matter, decisions on charges, well, appear to be imminent. That's the word that was chosen and spoken to a court of law today. And multiple people could be facing those imminent charges. We will tell you what Fulton County D.A. is saying about her investigation into Trump and others' attempts to overturn the election, next.
COATES: Fulton County Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis says her decision is, quote, "imminent." Imminent on possible charges against former President Trump and others for efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia. The final report is now complete from the special grand jury that was empaneled in this very matter.
And the D.A. is suggesting they recommended multiple indictments. But she argued in court today that that report should not be made public, at least for now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FANI WILLIS, FULTON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: What the state does not want to see happen, and don't think that there's any way the court would be able to guarantee, is that if that report was released, there somehow could be arguments made that it impacts the right for later individuals, multiple, to get a fair trial, to have a fair hearing, to be able to be tried in this jurisdiction. The list can go on and on
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: I know CNN is actually part of the group of media organizations asking for that report to be made public. Joining me now, CNN legal analysis Elliott Williams, CNN political commentator Karen Finney, who by the way, did work on the 2020 election in Georgia, and "National Review" senior editor, Ramesh Ponnuru is joining us as well.
I want to dig right in because we begin with you for a second, Elliott, as our resident lawyer for a moment on this conversation. Is the D.A. in Fulton County right to say, look, this report ought not to be made public as of yet. Keep in mind the special grand jury is not a traditional grand jury that can return indictments quite yet, right?
ELLIOTT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Right. Now, the question is what do you mean by right? Is she right as a member of the public where we, you know, have some entitlement as a member of the public to know what law enforcement and others are doing, or as a prosecutor, who doesn't want her case screwed up?
And as a prosecutor, absolutely, you would never want facts of your investigation getting out for a couple reasons. One, you don't want to taint the jury pool. You don't want people reading about and starting to mull over evidence if they might be picked for jury at some point. So that's about --
COATES: Like have the argument made against them.
WILLIAMS: Have an argument made against them, all the above, one. And two, and then the big thing is you don't want to out-innocent people who might be named but not charged with crimes. Even former presidents of the United States who may not be popular in a jurisdiction are entitled with the presumption of innocence.
You don't want to report out there if you're a prosecutor dragging them through the mud. So, for lots of reasons as a prosecutor, the safe move, even -- not even redacted, you don't want that anywhere near the public.
COATES: And Karen-- I want you (inaudible) Karen, but let's look at the list of people. I mean, more than 75 people were interviewed by this grand jury in Georgia. Look at the list of people who we know of. I mean, this is, you know, quite a list. Very -- people who have some overlap, by the way, with the January 6th committee.
Cassidy Hutchinson, for example, others were former Trump attorneys like Jenna Ellis. You've got the Secretary of State in Georgia, Brad Raffensperger. A senator, Lindsey Graham, Governor Brian Kemp, Giuliani, just to name a few people.
What is your reaction to the fact that we're not going to yet know the basis of this report, what's in it, knowing that these are some of the key figures who even did testify?
KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We don't need to know right now. I think it's more important to protect the case for many reasons, not the least of which is the unprecedented nature of what this case is about. We're talking about a sitting president of the United States of America trying to thwart the result of a legal, fair election.
So, it is incumbent that every single step of the way, and I think this attorney, she knows this. Every -- she has to come correct and have it right and can't have any pieces hanging out there. Particularly, and the last thing I would say is, look at what Trump did with regard to the Mar-a-Lago documents.
He is the one who leaked to the public that that was happening. Normally, we wouldn't have known about that because the DOJ would protect that investigation. So, the likelihood, it's a tactic we know he's used before, it's a tactic others have used.
[22:34:57] So, we wouldn't want anyone, to all the things that Elliott just said, to use the information or we don't need to have weeks of speculation about what could be the charges, what is this, that, or the other. I mean, let's let it -- let the process play itself out. Let's see -- and then let's see the documents after the charges have been rendered.
COATES: And yet she did say in plural, maybe others who could be charged. One group that might not want that to have that, you know, prudence, but Karen is speaking about, to let the other process unfold, if the person who at the end of the process might actually be implicated and indicted?
How do you think this is playing politically, given, of course, this was the case, this is the county, this is the instance where many believe Trump and his allies might be the most vulnerable, if there is any legal exposure, which obviously translates politically?
RAMESH PONNURU, SENIOR EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW: Yeah, I think that it doesn't have a political impact until you actually have the indictments and they are public. And then, you know, obviously, it depends on what facts we're talking about, what kinds of charges we're actually talking about.
I think that, you know, that sort of highlights the difficulty that the judge has here because there are multiple public interest involved here and their intention with one another. There is a public interest in knowing as much as possible. There's a public interest in justice being done and the integrity of the criminal justice system being protected.
And that's going to -- it makes sense that the press, including CNN, is asking for immediate disclosure of everything now. That sort of -- that's what the press -- that's what we do in the press, but it's not the only consideration in front of a judge.
COATES: I think we are just called nosy. I'll deal with it, it's okay. I agree to think about it, but also, Georgia, Karen. Georgia is unique in a number of facets especially because it is the site were conversations, right, and the so-called big lie were on full display with Brad Raffensperger and the pressure campaign. We heard this infamous telephone call of finding a certain number of votes.
COATES: But it's also the state that seem to have been as resistant to the big lie being successful, not in legislation. They certainly did legislate things with a solution turn to the problem, but is Georgia politically unique in the way that this is being thought of?
FINNEY: No. What I would say is that Raffensperger and Kemp did a good job of not letting the big lie or their association with Trump be used against them the way we saw in other states and other parts of the country. And they got, I think, a little more credit than they should have, frankly, around, yes, it's great that they actually do their jobs in 2020 and didn't -- I think we have to remember that. They did what they were supposed to do by saying, no, we're not just going to go find you 11,000 some votes.
COATES: You mean the bar has been set too low not raised?
FINNEY: Yeah. My mother used to say you don't get credit for doing what you're supposed to. But in the world --
COATES: Sadly though, I'm not going to disparage your mother because she's right, I'm on her side. But the idea that all mothers are -- I'm on her side -- but the idea of, you know, in a world where we have become accustomed to people not doing the right thing or not doing or being pressured in some way, you know, you do have heroes among the most basic moments.
But we have more to talk about everyone on this point, and more. Everyone stays with us. Ron DeSantis, the Governor of Florida, seeming to propose what would be frankly a major change in death penalty trials. Whatever side you may be on, on the issue of the death penalty, you're going to want to hear this conversation. And it's next.
COATES: The Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was at a sheriff's event just yesterday, using the life sentence of the Parkland shooter to suggest that Florida should change the requirement that juries have to be unanimous when trying to seek the death penalty.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RON DESANTIS, GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA: It's one thing to say, yeah, I mean, obviously a majority of the jury has to be the supermajority. But that one person to be able to veto that. And the thing about it is there, is there are certain crimes were any punishment other than that just doesn't fit the crime. Fine, have a supermajority, but you can't just say one person. So, maybe eight out of 12 have to agree or something. But we can't be in a situation where one person can just derail this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Back with me now, Elliott Williams, Karen Finney, and Ramesh Ponnuru. I mean, the idea of one person being able to derail it, you know, for most Americans, they are accustomed to the notion that you must have a unanimous jury to convict or you have the, you know, famous Norman Rockwell painting of the hold out, woman at the end with her arms crossed. At end of that, everyone's pleading with her to change her mind.
And some would look at the idea of having that jury system as what is expected in our system of justice, that one person very well could have that opinion. What do you make of the governor's statement, using for example, Parkland, obviously very, very difficult and tragic scenario and led to the death of too many, far too many. Even one would have been too many. High school students and teachers at the school at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. What do you make of the statement of him?
PONNURU: Right. Reportedly, there were three jurors in that case who did not want to impose the death penalty. I think that there's a pretty widespread sentiment, particularly in Florida, in favor of the death penalty in that case. And so, I wouldn't be surprised if Governor DeSantis found that he had a lot of support on this.
It's also worth noting for context that this would be a step back towards the pre-2016 status quo in Florida, where simple majorities could impose the death penalty. Now, I myself, I'm against the death penalty. I think that it should be legislatively abolished throughout the United States. But you know, I'm distinctly in the minority of American opinion on that subject.
And I think people might underestimate the political appeal of this. And frankly, it's not crazy to think that a supermajority ought to be sufficient in these cases.
COATES: Well, let's say if you really are in the minority. I happen to also be opposed to death penalty, and as a prosecutor, intensely did not prosecute in jurisdiction to have that as an available penalty. But the Gallup poll, most recently in November 2022, 55 percent of people support the death penalty for convicted murderers.
Then there was a poll as to the deterrent aspect of it. And the Pew Research Center survey from April 2021 said that the death -- asked, does the death penalty deter criminals? 63 percent said no, it does not. And I think actually also, is there a risk that innocent people might be executed? Here is what the Pew Research Center found.
They said, is some risk, 78 percent, some risk that an innocent person could be executed. And by the way, not for nothing, the attorney general of the United States, Merrick Garland, in his confirmation hearing, remember, this is somebody who was the prosecutor in the Oklahoma City bombings, that I believe led to the death penalty as well, being unavailable sentence, she said this at his own hearing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: (Inaudible) the death penalty at that time for Mr. McVeigh, in that individual case. I don't have any regret, but I have developed concerns about the death penalty in the 20 some years since then. And I -- sources of my concern are issues of exonerations of people who have been convicted of sort of arbitrary and randomness of its application, because of how seldom it's applied. And because of its disparate impact on black Americans and members of other communities of color.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: And obviously, that led in part to this conversation about there being a moratorium on the death penalty in the federal executions. What is your take on this idea of the governor talking about -- and again, the Parkland shooter obviously, this is the kind of case where people were very vehemently invested in ensuring that he was brought to justice. And then a fork in the road became what that would mean at sentencing.
WILLIAMS: Sure. And I have a lot of thoughts on this, because like the attorney general, I too have prosecuted a capital prosecution. And like the attorney general, also (inaudible), you know, look, we got to have a moratorium at the federal level. States ought to just legislate it out because of the profound risk of an error.
And I can walk through all of these steps in the process where this is incredibly problematic way of administering justice. With respect to Parkland, and respect to the general argument that, while the victims deserve this form of justice. And there's -- and look, I've dealt with crime victims before, I know you have as well, try to protect the rights to the greatest extent possible.
If you were to ask people, would you be okay with an innocent person dying to secure justice in this case. I think most people would say, look, well, you know, look I want justice, but you want to kill Ramesh because of the fact that, you know, that that provide justice?
PONNURU: I just don't like where this (inaudible).
WILLIAMS: I know. I know. I know. You were the first person (inaudible).
FINNEY: But I think what's important here is to remember, Florida, as of 2021, has the most number of exonerated individuals from death row. And that's been 30 individuals, a majority, three quarters black and brown. So, this also connects to criminal justice reform in the application of justice. That is not something that I think that Ron DeSantis is thinking about.
This felt a lot more like a comment for a man who is running for president in a state where he said woke goes to die. And is more thinking about, sort of, toughness, law and order, and not this more nuanced conversation. And I'll just say it, in case, you know, so I don't get killed on twitter, which is obviously Parkland was horrendous.
WILLIAMS: Yeah. (Inaudible).
FINNEY: Obviously, they got the right person. Obviously, it is, you know, your feelings about that, you have to still balance what does justice mean in this country. And we know it's not applied evenly.
WILLIAMS: And it's a really good point. Think about the countries around the world. All of our peers have abolished their death penalty. When we think who our allies and peers that we regard as intellectual allies in this. China, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, if that's the company we want to be in for returning, then fine, let's have it and make that choice. But there's a shrinking number of American allies that will continue doing this.
PONNURU: There's a lot of these -- a lot of the countries do that judicially. And our federal judiciary started down that road and then pulled back.
COATES: And to be clear everyone, Governor DeSantis was talking about the number of jurors necessary to actually have this as a sentence, not the more broad question about whether the death penalty in itself should be available.
Tens of thousands of people across Texas are without power tonight. We will show you the damage a tornado outbreak has caused so far. Stay with us.
COATES: A possible tornado touching down tonight in Beauregard Parish in Louisiana. On the southwestern border with Texas, the sheriff's office investigating reports of downed power lines and damaged homes. It's one of 14 tornado reports in that region just tonight alone.
The same powerful storm leaving a path of destruction this afternoon in Paradise, Texas, southeast of Houston. The National Weather Service reporting that a tornado did in fact touch down there.
The police chief describing the damage to commercial and residential structures as catastrophic and the worst he's seen in 25 years. At least one person has been reported injured. And first responders are checking on stranded motorists.
A little bit east, the town of Deer Park, Texas, also getting slammed by the powerful storm which brought torrential rains and heavy winds that knocked down power lines. Tens of thousands of customers across southeast Texas are now without power tonight.
And next, more on the 29-year-old man allegedly beaten by Memphis police after being stopped for reckless driving. He died three days later. Five officers have now been fired; two firemen also fired. I will speak with the Memphis D.A. after this.