Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Tonight

Enormous Implications Of Middle East Tensions For U.S.; Several Of The Former Officers Charged In Connection With Nichols' Death Had Been Cited For Departmental Violations; More Videos To Be Released By Memphis Police Department Connected To Tyre Nichols' Case; Governor Tim Walz Talks About Abortion Rights In Minnesota. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired January 31, 2023 - 22:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Prime Minister Netanyahu, thank you so much. I really appreciate your time. And I know I speak for everybody watching right now that I hope things deescalate and I hope soon there is a peace and prosperity here among the Israeli people, the Palestinian people, the Arab states around us right now. Thank you so much for your time.



TAPPER: Thank you for watching our full exclusive interview with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. I want to throw it over to CNN TONIGHT, and my friend and colleague, Wolf Blitzer, who has of course covered Israel for decades and interviewed Netanyahu many times.

Wolf, what did you think of the prime minister?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Well, I thought your interview, first of all, Jake, was terrific. I thought you asked really important, very, very strong questions. And you followed up. You gave him an opportunity to make his case, and he did make his case. And he also made some news, I thought, on several key issues.

I was taking notes on Ukraine, for example. He made some news on Iran. I had never heard the prime minister of Israel acknowledge, confirm, that Israel has already launched military action to try to destroy various Iran military weapons, weapons that could be given to Russia, for example, sold to Russia in its war against Ukraine. And he made that clear, that Israel was doing that covertly, clearly. I thought that was significant.

And you had a good discussion on U.S.-Israeli relations right now, which are going through various elements. I thought it was very significant a couple of weeks ago, when the U.S. and Israel had their largest ever joint military exercises, the U.S. military's central command, which for many years, didn't want to be involved with Israel because the Arab countries would be upset. This is the U.S. military's Middle East region area. But now, the U.S. military central command had this huge exercise with Israel in the Mediterranean, with fighter jets, aircraft carriers, all sorts of military equipment.

It was very significant because it did something that came through in your interview as well. It threw a signal to Iran, if it continues to try to develop nuclear weapons, they're going to have to deal not only Israel, but the United States as well, which I thought was significant. But I thought you did a really great job, Jake. I'm glad you went over to Israel to do this important interview.

TAPPER: Thanks so much. Yes, it was interesting, because he kept on talking -- Netanyahu kept on talking about the credible threat, the importance of the United States and Israel posing a credible threat towards Iran in order to counter the existential threat that he feels they pose towards Israel through their nuclear weapon aspirations. But the U.S. officials I've talked to don't think that the Iranian nuclear program that there's a military solution to that, ultimately. They really feel that this needs to be taken care of through diplomatic work, including economic sanctions. But I wasn't really -- I'm not sure how much there on the same page, Biden and Netanyahu, on that particular issue.

BLITZER: Well, Netanyahu was adamantly opposed to what former President Obama was trying to do with the Iran nuclear deal. And, remember, he came to Washington, addressed the joint session of Congress to oppose that nuclear deal. He was very, very pleased when President Trump withdrew from that nuclear deal.

The U.S. under the Biden administration has been trying to revive it over these past few months. That has failed. It seems to have gone nowhere right now. It seems to have collapsed for all practical purposes. But Netanyahu strongly believes, unless the Iranians don't see a credible military threat to Iran, they're going to go ahead and try to develop a nuclear bomb, which is seen by Israel as an existential threat, as you correctly pointed out.

So, this is a really sensitive issue right now for both the U.S. and Israel. It has enormous implications. I'm anxious to get your thoughts as well because at a time when the U.S. sees a major war between Russia and Ukraine at a time when tensions with China are escalating, the last thing the U.S. now needs is a major confrontation in the Middle East. And I think that became very, very clear in your interview.

TAPPER: I also wonder what you think, Wolf, about the fact that Netanyahu, who used to publicly call for a two-state solution with the Israelis and Palestinians, now is openly saying he opposes it if the state in question on the Palestinian side is one that controls its own security.

I mean, he says that he does not support that. And that ultimately does mean however much Netanyahu tries to describe, you know, some sort of semi-sovereign body in which the Palestinians control their day-to-day lives but not their own security, in terms of whether or not Israel can go in and out if they see a threat.

That is not, you know, any definition democracy that I have ever heard.


Although, you know, he seemed to be ready to make concessions in terms of more checkpoints and the like, if there were to be some sort of peace treaty. But, really, no give there on just the basic idea of suffrage for the Palestinian people and a fully sovereign Palestinian state. He is making no bones about that.

BLITZER: Yes, he's making no bones that he opposes what's called a two-state solution, Israel living alongside a new state of Palestine. As he pointed out several times to you, he's afraid what would happen in this new state of Palestine is what has happened in Gaza, for example, where Hamas seems to be in charge, threatening Israel, or Hezbollah in Lebanon when Israel withdrew from Southern Lebanon. So, he's concerned about that. He made that point repeatedly in the interview with you.

But the U.S., the Biden administration, as you know, strongly supports this two-state solution. They want to see a new state of Palestine emerge in the West Bank and the Israelis, at least the current Israeli government, does not. So, that's a major source of friction.

Jake, I want you to stay there for a moment. I want to bring in Fareed Zakaria into this conversation. He's interviewed Netanyahu himself. He knows this issue really well. Fareed, thanks for joining us.

This tension between Israel and the Palestinians, it's been going on for decades, as we all know. But what's different now about the attitude and approach, and you've covered this, of some younger Palestinians who aren't necessarily impressed with the Palestinian authority in the West Bank, or the Palestinian authority president, Mahmoud Abbas? And then at the same time, there's this new far-right Israeli government that Netanyahu and Jake talked about. Give us a sense of how serious these tensions are right now.

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: Yes, it's a new landscape of politics, as you say. On the one hand, you have to understand that this is the most right-wing government in the history of Israel. And in order to become prime minister of that government, Bibi Netanyahu had to make a series of deals, one of which was to sign an agreement which basically said that all of the West Bank belongs to Israel, or what they call historically Judea and Samaria. And essentially forecloses the prospect of any Palestinian state.

So, what he was saying to you, Jake, was something he has to say, because it is now part of the governing agreement that he has. He has given himself a little wiggle room in saying the timing of the annexation, the total annexation of the West Bank, is up to the prime minister. But that's -- so, there you see him balancing the needs of the coalition politics that made him prime minister. These were the allies he had to make in order to become prime minister. On the other side, you have, of course, the United States and all other international parties, the European Union and others, pressing him for a two-state solution. But as you say, Wolf, the third dynamic here is the young Palestinians desperate with their situation, they have no political rights, whatever, they live fairly in miserable conditions, are now wondering whether the answer is not a two-state solution at all, but one state solution. And what they would ask for is simply we are living under Israeli sovereignty, give us the vote.

And, of course, you know, there are enough Palestinians that if you were to give them the vote, Israel would be a democratic stat. But it would no longer be characteristically Jewish because there would be either an equal number of Palestinians or more.

So, the whole situation is very fraught because there are all these pressures on all these sides. But one has to say, at the end of the day, Bibi Netanyahu is in a very strong position. The pressure he feels from the United States is one he knows how to manage. He feels no pressure from the Arabs anymore because he has managed to make peace with the moderate Arabs and found out correctly, in my view, they actually care very little about the lives of the Palestinians. The UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, even Saudi Arabia, they all played lip service to the Palestinian cause for decades. But when push came to shove and they saw an opportunity to make peace with Israel, to enter Israel's economy, to do deals with Israel, they much preferred that, and they threw the Palestinians overboard.

So, at the end of the day, the Palestinians may move towards more radicalism. But I would guess that Bibi Netanyahu is sitting in the captain (ph) seat.

BLITZER: You know, Fareed, I also want to get your thoughts on Jake's very important interview as a whole, the interview with Netanyahu. What else jump that you, specifically?

ZAKARIA: Well, not surprisingly, the two of you picked up on I think the part that was the most striking, which is the Iran bit. Look, we are now entering a very dangerous situation with Iran.


For all, I'm just going to put together all the things that you guys were pointing out. You have a situation where the nuclear deal with Iran is now dead. It seems inconceivable that you could re-enter the deal with a government that has -- is having these mass protests on the street, no western government is going to be able to do that.

What that means is Iran is in a very tough box of sanctions that throttle it fairly, fairly effectively. It is also facing real protests. It has responded with brutality. That brutality is fueling even greater discontent. The economy is in terrible shape. So, they are trying to figure out how do you break out of this. And they are inching towards more and more enrichment, which allows them to have the kind of weapons grade materials that could allow them to make a bomb. And Israel is watching this. And as Bibi said, Bibi Netanyahu said to Jake, I'm not going to let this happen. In fact, what I was struck by was, he said, I've gotten into this job for three reasons, and number one is Iran. So, this is his number one priority as prime minister. What that means is the Israelis are going to take some kind of action if they see the Iranians keep inching.

And the Iranians are going to keep inching forward because their backs are against the wall. They don't have an out. They don't have another option. They don't have any prospect of a deal. They're cornered. They're feeling the pressure at home domestically. So, that leaves, as you put it will, Wolf, U.S. policymakers looking at a very dangerous situation with an Iran that has militias in Iraq, militias in Syria, militias in Lebanon, a program that could become a nuclear weapons program, and in Israel, determined to stop that. It feels to me like a pretty combustible mix.

BLITZER: Yes, it's a really dangerous situation right now, by all accounts. And I've spoken with intelligence officials, not only from the U.S., but from Israel, from several Arab countries, and this is a really worrisome development. And one the reasons several of these Arab countries, like the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have moved closer and closer to Israel, maybe even the Saudis down the road, they haven't done it yet, but maybe the Saudis down the road, is because they also fear what Iran is up to right now.

And, Jake, I was wondering, if you wanted to weigh in on that.

TAPPER: Well, one of the things that's also interesting is the tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia, as everyone knows, the Sunni versus Shia dynamics there, and the fact that the only country in the region that wants Iran to get a nuclear weapon less than Israel is Saudi Arabia. And you have the beginnings of discussions of the idea of normalization of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia as a continued push on the Abraham Accords. I think it's probably likely that other countries will come on board officially before Saudi Arabia, you know, perhaps Sudan, perhaps some of the Southeastern Asian countries.

But one of the things that's interesting is, and, Fareed, even noted this in, regrettably, for the Palestinian people, how little so many of these gulf states actually care about them versus using them as rhetoric to denounce Israel. But at the end of the day, what they do to help the Palestinian people in their misery and squalor is very little.

And it will be very interesting if that normalization, diplomacy starts beginning, how much, if anything, the Saudis, Mohammed bin Salman, will require or ask the U.S. to push Netanyahu to ask for anything for the Palestinians.

And one of the dynamics going on in the potential normalization of relations between the Saudis and Israel is their shared opposition to Iran and Iran getting a nuclear weapon. I mean, as with all things in the Middle East, there's a lot going on behind the surface and behind the scenes that we know about. And I would be surprised if the Saudis and Israelis did not cooperate in various ways to try to sabotage the Iranian nuclear program. BLITZER: Yes, I tend to agree.

ZAKARIA: Yes, that's already happening. The real issue is for Bibi, again, is a domestic one. Don't forget, he's the king of this coalition politics. That's why he's the longest serving prime minister in Israel's history. The question is, could he give something to Saudi Arabia on the Palestinian issue rhetorically, which doesn't alienate the right, the very extreme right-wing support he has? Remember, he has people in his coalition, many, many of them who believe Israel should annex all of this territory. There should be Palestinians that should either be expelled or should live forever as second-class citizens.


So, he's -- and those are the people keeping him alive as prime minister. So, that's probably the real pressure he feels more even than the United States.

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, because a couple of months ago, I went to Saudi Arabia with President Biden when he was there. He went from Israel directly to Saudi Arabia. I interviewed Adel al-Jubeir, the former Saudi ambassador here in Washington. He's an old friend of mine who is now the minister of state for foreign affairs.

And he made it clear that, yes, the Saudis are ready to establish some sort of direct public relationship with Israel, but he said there's got to be some advancements, some movement on the Palestinian issue. Otherwise, the Saudis can do it. And he was very blunt in talking about that, and I thought that significant.

You know, these are critical moments right now and the stakes, and I just want, Jake, you to weigh in on this. The stakes for the U.S. right now, what's happening over there between Israel and the Saudis and the Iranians and what's going on in the region, the stakes are really enormous, because, God forbid, this thing could escalate.

TAPPER: Well, I mean, we've already seen the loss of 17 lives in recent days. There is that raid against the Palestinians in Jenin, in the West Bank, by the Israeli Defense Forces. Netanyahu acknowledged that one of the ten Palestinians killed was a civilian, a woman. And then also, obviously, the seven innocent Israelis killed outside a synagogue on Friday night on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. And these things, as everyone knows, tend to spiral out. There was a 13-year-old Palestinian boy who knew somebody who had been shot and he started lashing out. Obviously, violence begets violence. And the region is -- you know, the region is very, very intense right now.

And you know, Netanyahu's security council, when they met Saturday, they talked about a number of steps that I think a lot of people in the Biden administration did not think would be bringing down the temperature, strengthening the settlements, enhancing the punishments against the family members of Palestinian terrorists or those at the Israeli government considers terrorists. There's also a provision to make it easier for Israelis to get guns for their own personal self- defense, a lot of issues that I think the Biden administration has questioned as to whether or not those measures, those steps will lower the temperature.

BLITZER: Yes, good point. Jake, thank you so much for going over there, doing this important, very significant interview with the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu. And, Fareed, thanks so much for joining us. We always get a little bit smarter listening to you.

Right now, I want to hear from our reporters who are in the region covering all these important and dramatic developments. I want to start with CNN International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson. Nic, you're there. You were in Ramallah earlier today when the secretary of state, Antony Blinken, met with the Palestinian authority president, Mahmoud Abbas. You've been speaking with Palestine politicians and with everyday people in the region. What's the mood on the ground there right now?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, I think very low expectations that Secretary Blinken could deliver anything. I think a little bit of hope, if you will, that some of what he said, particularly the idea that the two-state solution should be kept alive. Frankly, though, most people in the streets there don't believe in it, but it is something that they could hold on to, that they have international legitimacy in their position, the potential to have a state, they hold on to that.

But I think they see the difference of position between the United States and in Israel. They see that Prime Minister Netanyahu wants these sweeping security controls over the West Bank. That undermines legitimacy of President Mahmoud Abbas, who, frankly, most people we talked to on the streets say he needs replacing. Part of the problem is it is Islamic jihad and Hamas who has sort of gone quiet in Gaza but have been ramping up their activities in the West Bank to draw in Israeli forces to essentially show to the Palestinian people that Abbas can't provide them security, which all helps undermine Abbas, that's their agenda there, undermining the Palestinian authority leader.

But I think where the Palestinian officials see daylight between the United States and Israel is, in this issue of the Abraham Accords, of Israel's relationship, improving relationship with Arab states and the region. Prime Minister Netanyahu said that he sees a way to a workable solution with the Palestinians by expanding that circle of peace, as he called it. And implicit in that, I think, is Saudi Arabia.


Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, look, that is no substitute, expanding that circle is no substitute for direct relations with the Palestinians. So, clearly, they see that daylight between the United States and Israel.

But I think when it does come to what the Palestinians think of the gulf leaders, they see them as leaders that have sided with Israel but not representative of the people. One of the interesting things I found, several people, Palestinians today said, look, look at what happened at the World Cup, the people, the supporters, the Arabs, did not want to mix with the Israeli supporters. And I just think one other point to make here, I do have regular conversations with Saudi diplomats, the Saudis are not ready yet, they say, to make a deal with Prime Minister Netanyahu because they don't feel he can deliver on what they want. They don't think, he said to Jake today, has two hands on the steering wheel. He's sort of controlling the levers of the government, the hard, the far-right within his governing coalition. But the sense in Saudi Arabia is their position, and the king's position as custodian of the two holy mosques, an important position within Islamic is a very high price to give up, a high thing to give up if they cannot get what they want from an Israeli leader in terms of reaching Palestinian aspirations.

Yes, the leadership has moved on and see the Palestinian issue is a problem that they want to get beyond, regionally, but there is a remembrance by these leaders. They are autocracies. They're not democracies. And there still is a feeling on the streets of these countries, witnessed at the World Cup, that their streets are not aligned with the leadership, and there is a popular support still yet for the Palestinians.

BLITZER: Yes, you make excellent points, Nic. Thank you very, very much

I want to bring in our Jerusalem Correspondent Hadas Gold right now. Hadas, how do you expect the Israeli people to react to Jake's important interview that we all just watched?

HADAS GOLD, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. Well, it's in the 5:00 A.M. hour here. So, I think for many Israelis, they'll be watching this as they wake up. And in terms of the initial reaction we're seeing from some of the Israeli press, what's interesting is they've actually been zeroing in on Benjamin Netanyahu's comments in regards to Ukraine and Russia, talking about how he was asked to potentially be a negotiator, that he might get involved, because that's been a big question, how Benjamin Netanyahu will approach the question of Ukraine.

Before he became prime minister, he said he would look into the multiple requests we've heard from Ukrainian leaders about sending arms to Ukraine, about getting more involved, because Israel has been walking this very tight sort of diplomatic rope line between Russia and Ukraine. Benjamin Netanyahu in the interview with Jake talking about Russia's involvement in Syria, their presence there, and how Israel needs to be able to essentially have communication with them in order to be able to have freedom of action against Iran-backed targets.

And so there're a lot of questions about will he change the Israeli approach, a lot of pressure on Israel to be more forcefully behind the Ukrainians. I thought it was interesting, he talked about the transfer of arms that the Americans did bring them in from where they're stored in Israel. They are American arms, but stored in Israel, to Ukraine, saying that they had no problem with that. That, so far, has been the top thing.

But I think the other thing that will be interesting for the Israeli audience is going to be the domestic issues. He's talked about how some of his minister, oh, they might even more extreme before, but now they've moderated themselves. I think if you look at some the statements from some of his ministers recently, for example, calling for the death penalty for people accused of terrorism, death penalty was last used here against Adolf Eichmann. I think they would say, I don't know how much they've moderated their positions since coming into government. Wolf?

BLITZER: Yes, important points, indeed. And you're right, on the Ukraine issue, the Ukrainians have made it abundantly clear they want Israel to help provide more military equipment. They would love Israel to help with the so-called iron dome, which has protected Israeli cities from rockets and missiles coming in from Gaza or from Lebanon. The Israelis, so far, have refused to do that, even as the U.S. has provided the Patriot air defense missile system into Ukraine. So, let's see if that changes anytime soon.

Hadas, thanks very much for joining us on this important, important night.

CNN Tonight will continue next with Laura Coates and major new developments on the killing of Tyre Nichols. More videos of the case are expected to be released. What will they reveal? Stay with us.



LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everyone, to CNN Tonight. I'm Laura Coates.

Vice President Kamala Harris will attend Tyre Nichols funeral tomorrow in Memphis along with other senior Biden administration officials. And as his family prepares to say a final goodbye, there are new developments we're learning about this evening, personnel records showing that several of the former officers who are now charged in connection with his death had been cited for minor departmental violations.

We're also learning tonight that the initial police report filed after the violent encounter contains details that are, let's just, say contradicted by the video of the deadly beating we've all seen, and the city of Memphis saying tonight that more videos will be released in this case.

I want to bring in CNN Legal Analyst Elliot Williams, a former legal prosecutor, Senior Political Analyst Kristen Powers and also retired L.A. Police Sergeant Cheryl Dorsey.

Let me begin with you out there, Sergeant Dorsey. We heard the family tonight giving a press conference ahead of tomorrow's funeral. I want you to listen into what his stepfather had to say.


RODNEY WELLS, STEPFATHER OF TYRE NICHOLS: Keep fighting for justice for our son and my family, protect my wife, because she is very fragile right now. We need that for her, trust me. And I needed too. So, like I said, this will be short tonight because we've got a long fight ahead of us. And we've got to stay strong for it. So, justice for Tyre.

EVERYONE: Justice for Tyre.

WELLS: Justice for Tyre.

EVERYONE: Justice for Tyre.

WELLS: Justice for Tyre.

EVERYONE: Justice for Tyre.


COATES: We've been struck, Sergeant Dorsey, time and time again about the unbelievable grace that has been shown by this family, particularly after the video has been released and before.


But also learning tonight that these personnel files did contain several different types of reprimands. Can you speak to what this reflects in your mind?

CHERYL DORSEY, RETIRED, LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT: That these officers misbehaved on a regular basis and we have heard and now this is corroborating evidence that folks have come in and complained about these officers and it fell on a deaf ear. And that's why I've said that the police chief is complicit. She can't be trusted. She's got to go.

She coddled, she mitigated, and as far as I'm concerned, she mitigated and minimized their behavior by allowing them the pleasure of serving on a special unit like the SCORPIONS. That's generally reserved for tenured officers, seasoned officers, and to have him out there willy- nilly, knowing that they are miscreants, is abominable.

COATES: Well, everyone saw on the screen there, Kirsten, I want to turn to you, on the types of reprimands we're speaking about there to document role and detention and beyond and there have been the charges. But to the point of the idea and there are minor violations, I would note, and you saw suspensions without pay, a written reprimand, failing to fill out a required form after using physical force, for example, no fixing that we've obviously seen in this horrific video.

Having said that, to her larger point, (inaudible) what do you make of the idea of firing a chief or reprimanding here and there, some would call them band-aids to a system that has systemic problems.

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah. I mean, I think that they are band-aids. They are not going to solve the bigger problem. That doesn't mean they shouldn't be done, right. So, I think you do deal with what you have right in front of you. But how many times are we going to sit here and talk about these kinds of things? How many families are going to lose their son or their brother or their husband in these absolutely heinous and utter --

COATES: Or their daughters.

POWERS: Or their daughters. They are also daughters, in utterly and absolutely preventable situations. And it's not even remotely shocking as you sit there and read that these people had been in trouble before, involving, you know, force against other people. This happens over and over again because it's a systemic problem.

It's not a problem in one city and not in another city. It's a problem across the country. And I personally don't think that the system can be saved. I think that it is a system that needs to be replaced. And so --

COATES: The policing system?

POWERS: I think the policing system needs to be replaced. And so that doesn't mean that, like, you just get rid of it tomorrow. But there should be some acknowledgment. I think we all need to kind of come together and acknowledge like this isn't working. You know, this is not normal and we can't go on like this.

And so, we need -- and we have had police reform as long as I've been alive. And it's not making any difference. We've spent millions of dollars on policing reform. The problem is the system is rotten and it's a culture that protects other people, that, you know, that allows this kind of stuff to go on. I just shudder to think of how many people have lost loved ones and think they died in a car crash and actually were killed by the police, right?

COATES: That's an important point on that, Kirsten, in particular to idea and that we can quibble about that people have a retort to the idea of changing policing. The idea of building the plane while you're flying in the plane knowing that there is still a need for law enforcement more broadly.

POWERS: But they can begin side by side.

COATES: And there can be parallel solutions. Absolutely. But the point of what we've been hearing before like for example, when you talk about, as you mentioned, the car crash. I mean, the police report in this case did not mention the officers punching and kicking Tyre Nichols. It's not clear who wrote the report, we should say right now.

But when Don Lemon spoke to Tyre's mother, she said the police told her that her son had been arrested for a DUI, described as having superhuman energy. They don't reflect at all what we're actually seeing in the video. And we've seen this before. The idea of what's been said and then what is revealed. What's your reaction?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah. Look, history, Laura, as written by the victors, right? And the first person to get to write the narrative gets to shift it. Let's go back to George Floyd. COATES: Here, it's the police.

WILLIAMS: Here, it's the police. Let's go back to George Floyd and Derek Chauvin. And the first press release or the first statement out of the police department in Minneapolis was, man dies after medical incident during police interaction. Now, that is a truthful statement, but it also omits the fact that the police interaction involved nine minutes of a man murdering another man by putting his knee on his neck, right.

It's, you know, it's factual information. But there's sort of a major detail left out of it. And the problem here is sort of mitigated or fixable but by these body cameras. Now, I'm not saying body cameras -- and we talked about this the other night, they're a blessing and a curse, right. They prove and disprove some things, but at least you have a realtime narrative of what happened.


And having a push to make this material available to the public correct some of this misinformation. You see it in this case. You saw it in George Floyd. And you'll keep seeing it, unless there is a --

COATES: And by the, way we're going to keep seeing videos because there are going to be more videos released, we're hearing in the days to come. We have not seen everything. And frankly, that was one of the comments that the D.A., Steven Mulroy, spoke about. This was not going to be a totality of all of the case.

But the larger conversation of Sergeant Dorsey and Kirsten and Elliott, really about a lack of trust. And what do you do with that, going forward, everyone? Listen, on the eve of Tyre Nichols funeral, you heard his family speaking out tonight at the site of one of Dr. King's most famous speeches, albeit his final one in Memphis. What does this case mean for America, more broadly the continuing trouble for justice, and to paraphrase the reverend, do we have a long way to go?



COATES: The family of Tyre Nichols speaking out tonight from the historic Mason Temple in Memphis, Tennessee. The very church was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous "I've been to the mountaintop" speech the night before he was assassinated. Joining me now to discuss, Ibram X. Kendi, director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research and co-author of the brand-new book, "How To Be A Young Antiracist."

Ibram, I'm so glad that you're here joining me today. Thank you. And I want to take note of location first were talking about. I mean, this is the very place where he famously was pressioned, eerily pressioned about wanting to live a long life, knowing that he would not or may not get there, but had seen the mountaintop and had optimism. And I wonder from your perspective, the idea of this significance in Memphis, that was the location. What comes to mind for you?

IBRAM X. KENDI, DIRECTOR, BOSTON UNIVERSITY CENTER FOR ANTIRACIST RESEARCH: Well, what comes to mind to me is indeed his everlasting, Dr. King's everlasting optimism. And the fact that he ends that speech saying that he has been up to the mountaintop and he's looked over, and he's seen the promised land. And he may not get there with you, but he believes that we as a people will get to the promised land.

And it's that type of radical optimism that we need right now because I think, particularly after the murder of Tyre Nichols, many people are deeply cynical that we can create that type of promised land.

COATES: You know, looking over that proverbial mountain top together, one of the things that you see across the distance (ph), frankly, is the conversation surrounding how this is being described and talked about. And you've had many who look at this and say, okay, well, oh, there's a different conversation happening now that it involves black officers than white officers.

There is an element of racism that is missing from the talking points people are talking and describing. But I wonder, from your perspective, and as well versed as you are and so steeped into the psychology of race and its impact, what does it mean to have had five black officers in the position of power as officers, to victimize a black man? Does that mean that race is not a factor?

KENDI: It doesn't mean that race was not a factor. And the reason being is because we determine whether race is a factor less based on the perpetrator and more based on the victim. So, the question isn't whether the officers were white or not black. The question is, would those black officers have brutalized and ultimately killed someone who was white? And I think many people believe that if Tyre was white, then he would be living right now.

COATES: I mean, just the idea, we talked about a lot in the past, there's conversations where the race of a victim, the race of the defendant in actions very, very instructive, for a lack of a better term, to jurors, in the way people view different instances. But the idea that it is of the same race, it's really a discussion about power.

And when people talk about racism, they talk about race and the impact of bigotry, it comes down fundamentally to be reductive to the abuse of power. And when children -- my children have asked the question to me of why did this happen, why did they do X, Y, Z, often my response is because they could. It's not satisfying, but it is the truth about power and its abuse.

KENDI: It is. And I think, at its core, when we're talking about race and racism, we need to understand that at its core, this is indeed about power. You know, we talk a lot about ignorance, we talk a lot about hate, we talk a lot about miseducation, and all that is relevant.

But nothing is more relevant than indeed power. And these black officers, like other officers who are not black, oftentimes have the power to harm and brutalize black people and get away with it. And that's one of the reasons why they consistently do it.

COATES: When you're talking about course correction, when it comes down to power, how do you get the powers that be, or speak truth to the powerful, to change it?

KENDI: Well, I think that the unfortunate truth is many people who are in positions of power who could radically change this are quite concerned about this common belief that the source of violence is particular groups of people is bad people. And that the way in which you corral or create safety, you know, is by having police in cages.


And that idea, that they are bad black people, that black neighborhoods are dangerous because there are black people there empowers officers to brutalize black people and claim they fear for their lives.

COATES: Real quick, I know your new book is talking about the idea, how to be a young antiracist, I wonder thinking about from the perspective of children and our young people who are watching and

wondering at what point we will go from never again to once again, back to never again. What are you thinking for our young people and what they can be learning?

KENDI: Well, I'm thinking first, that indeed, as you stated, Laura, that our young people are watching. They have questions, too, as you stated earlier, about what happened to Tyre and why. And more importantly, they have questions about what they can do about it, how they can be different, how they can create a different type of society.

And so, when Nic Stone and I were putting together "How To Be A Young Antiracist," we wanted to provide young people with that guidepost so they can be part of transforming this country.

COATES: So important to think about that transformation and to, you know, in a way, all of us are the youth that are watching and wondering what this young experiment of a country could really be. Ibram Kendi, thank you so much today.

KENDI: Thank you for having me.

COATES: Well, my home state of Minnesota and its governor is signing a bill, in fact, did sign a bill into law that protects abortion access. The question many are asking across this country of ours is, is this the blueprint for other states? Governor of Minnesota Tim Walz joins me next.



COATES: Well, today, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, from my own home state, signing a bill that would codify the right of an abortion into law. The bill known as The Protect Reproduction Options Act, also known as the PRO-Act, will also protect the right to reproductive care in the case. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz joins me now.

Governor, thank you for taking the time to join me this evening. I mean, this is a really impactful moment. And it's one of the first in the nation to do so. Talk to me a little bit though about the reasons why, because as we know, in the Minnesota Supreme Court, they had decided that abortion rights are in fact protected, way back in 1995. Tell me why it was important to sign this legislation into law now.

TIM WALZ, GOVERNOR OF MINNESOTA: Yeah, well, Laura, thanks for having me. Well, first of all, the new reality of June 24th last year when the Supreme Court, we also thought Roe was law of the land and we were told in Senate confirmation hearings by potential Supreme Court justices that was true. It proved not to be.

And I'm just incredibly proud. I think the words I heard today was proud and relieved that women, that young people, that allies across Minnesota since that day in June, said never again. That we are going to make bodily autonomy and the decisions that women make, their decision to make.

And this piece of legislation today makes sure that the only person making that decision is the individual involved. And that they do so in that medical consultation room with a medical provider, and then they make the decision. Being very clear, this is very simple, very right to the point, that we trust women in Minnesota. And that's not what came out of the Dobbs decision.

So, I think it's critically important that we build a fire wall. We have a Supreme Court that ruled correctly that way. That might not always be the case. So, we need to make sure that we're pushing back, that were on offense on this understanding. Because the vast majority of Americans agree with this position. But in my part of the country, states around us very quickly made abortion difficult to get, made it criminalized, and forced women to make really bad decisions, not in Minnesota.

COATES: There are a number of states that are -- in neighboring states that actually have abortion as illegal right now based on trigger laws and discussions post Roe v. Wade. I'm wondering about the process (inaudible) legislation. Because it was not without opponents.

For example, opponents had been calling this extreme, saying the law provides no protections for the unborn child. We had Republicans who are proposing some amendments, including prohibitions on third trimester abortions, they did not, you know, they were not part of the final legislative initiative. Talk to me about the why.

WALZ: Well, those things don't happen. And when they do, they're incredibly rare and it's the life of the mother. They know that. Speaking of extreme, these are the people -- and I ran a gubernatorial campaign last year very clear, my opponent said that they would ban abortion and they would make sure there were no exceptions for rape or incest.

That's who these people are. So, now where we have the ability to have a majority, we have for the first time in Minnesota history two women running the state house, Speaker Hortman and Leader Dziedzic in the Senate, who said no, we're going to do this. This isn't debatable. There aren't exceptions in here. That these are decisions that are made on basic health care decisions that are made, basic reproductive, basic health care for women to be made by them and their health care provider.

And bringing up scenarios that do not happen, and that certainly aren't going to be fixed by men, Republican men, who think that they are going to make those decisions. So, yeah, there is going to be opponents to this. They are the ones that are trying to criminalize women's health care decisions. They are the ones that are trying to put women at risk.

They're the ones that are trying to make providers be in a position where they can't give the best scientific advice. So, in Minnesota we're simply not doing it. And if that's the choice that they're going to continue to make, I think they are going to continue to lose across the country because people know this is the right decision.

COATS: Well, this, do you think, become a blueprint in perhaps two ways? One, a blueprint for other states to follow in your lead. And the other, the idea of a blueprint for a potential challenge, not with the Minnesota State Supreme Court, by making its way back up to challenge and test what the Dobbs decision really stands for.


WALZ: Well, I would certainly hope so. I'm not certainly hopeful about this Supreme Court. But I think, you know, the fundamental belief that individuals have sovereignty over their own bodies to make these decisions is -- that one is the vast majority of people agree with that. I do think it's the blueprint and I think whether it's on voting rights, reproductive rights, or some of these things, we can't setback and let people who are willing to deny elections, who are willing to deny women access to health care believe that their positions aren't the extreme position.

So, I think the blueprint here is to do the right thing, lean into these issues, and make sure that we're protecting people. And I'm absolutely convinced good politics will follow good policy and making the right decision. So, as states moved in the wrong direction all around us, we think this is a beacon. People are going to want to move to states where they respected.

Good luck trying to hire people where women are not respected, where LGBTQ people are demonized, where our trans youth are scapegoated and put at risk. That's not going to happen here. And I think the blueprint is to just simply say that, codify it, and show that life can be -- everyone can thrive. And that's what we want to do here in Minnesota.

COATES: Well, I was homesick tonight. But now I'm glad to talk to the governor. Thank you so much Governor Tim Walz, nice to see you.

WALZ: Nice to see you, Laura. COATES: Well, listen, there's also more on the idea of politics. I

mean, it's the newly released video showing former President Trump Taking the fifth in a deposition with New York's attorney general. And did it more than 400 times.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Anyone in my position not taking the fifth amendment would be a fool, an absolute tool.