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CNN Tonight

Newly Released Video Shows Trump Taking The Fifth In Deposition With New York Attorney General; Rep. George Santos Tells House Republicans He Wants Off Of His Committees Until Issues Are Resolved; Israeli Prime Minister Speaks About Antisemitism; Missing Monkeys Were Found In A Closet; Alec Baldwin And Hannah Gutierrez-Reed Were Charged With Involuntary Manslaughter. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired January 31, 2023 - 23:00   ET





LAURA COATES, CNN HOST AND SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, tonight, we've got some newly-released video from the August deposition of the former president, Donald Trump, as part of the New York attorney general's civil investigation into fraudulent practices at the Trump Organization. Trump taking the Fifth more than 400 times in his deposition, saying in the released video that, well, he'd be a fool not to take the Fifth.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Anyone in my position not taking the Fifth Amendment would be a fool, an absolute fool. One statement or answer that is ever so slightly off, just ever so slightly, by accident, by mistake, such as it was a sunny, beautiful day when actually it was slightly overcast, would be met by law enforcement.


COATES: But this is frankly just one piece of the broader investigation surrounding Trump as he's trying to jump-start his 2024 campaign.

I want to bring in CNN political commentators Charlie Dent and Ashley Allison. Back with us also is CNN legal analyst Elliot Williams. I want to begin with you on that point, though, because the idea of Trump saying he'd be a fool not to take the Fifth which is, of course, a change in tune, we can all remember the moments he was talking about what it means to take the Fifth. But I do wonder in this position, is he right about this?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yes and no, right? You'd be a fool not to take the Fifth because if you think you might face criminal liability at some point, then, yeah, you've got to plead the Fifth. It's your right as a citizen. The problem is these are civil cases often and it can be used against you in a civil case. If you plead the Fifth, you can then -- the opponents can go in a court and say to the world, look, he has pled the Fifth, he must have something to hide. So, it cuts both ways.

The other thing is that there is this other case among many going on with the state attorney general in New York where he wouldn't even admit to basic facts like, does the Trump Organization exist? And they're seeking to have him held in contempt of court over that. It's -- it's a way of gaming the system and not actually participating fairly in it.

So, yeah, maybe he has a right to plead the Fifth, he certainly does as a citizen, but, you know, it's another tactic.

COATES: I mean, the tactics, politically speaking, one of the things that people talk often about Trump is his ability to use and capitalize on tactics, but have been successful in some part politically, and then, of course, unsuccessful given the fact that he is not the president of the United States although he would like to be.

I'm wondering -- you may have learned from CNN as well that he is struggling to fund-raise in the first weeks of his campaign. I want to put up this full screen because he's polling in last in the six weeks after his November announcement, then in the six weeks prior to his announcement. Charlie, what does that say to you?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER PENNSYLVANIA REPRESENTATIVE: Well, his campaign went dormant after he announced. And frankly, we all recognize that he has been a diminishing figure and he has been, rightly, for republican underperformance in the midterms in numerous states.

His interventions in those primaries made enemies not -- he already had enemies among Democrats and independents. But among Republicans, he infuriated people in a state like Pennsylvania. A lot of Republican leaders are incensed that he got involved and helped Doug Mastriano become the nominee, and then the wipeout occurred.

So, he has made -- he has picked up a lot more barnacles. He's a diminishing figure, his campaign went dormant, and people want to turn the page, they want to move forward. So, I'm not surprised that his numbers are off.

COATES: Some would say, Ashley, that he is more so walking to the presidency as opposed to running for the presidency. But there is a significant handicap if you cannot fund-raise, if you wonder what that means. And we know that recently, he had appealed to and successfully now has been able to be a part of Meta and Facebook yet again and Instagram.


COATES: You are known for your -- the coalition building and the idea of using social media, obviously, other platforms, to try to generate support and enthusiasm across different lines. How significant will this be that Trump will soon have access again to what, 34 million followers?

ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's dangerous, I think, to our democracy because we know that he used social media to organize an insurrection. But it will benefit his campaign. We know that there are populations that are on Facebook. They are typically older Americans.

There's a lot of disinformation on Meta now. And that's what Trump thrives off of. He thrives on being able to out --- spew hate, spew disinformation, confuse voters, and then do this (INAUDIBLE) kind of act that he will clip and be, like, I can't say one thing wrong before the media, you know, comes after me. This is exactly the playbook that he wants to play.

I agree with you, Charlie, that I think his campaign is dwindling. I still will not count him out until, you know, we find out who's going to run on the democratic side.

But him being on Meta is dangerous. It will give him some wind. And if he takes the opportunity to be on -- and on Twitter, when really the competition gets tough, I think that it will -- could benefit him but also expose him yet again to the type of person he is.

COATES: You know, you think about if his concerns about pleading the Fifth and one bad statement and use example of overcast skies versus sunny skies, again, he was wrong. And I totally appreciate the idea of having been a civil litigator as well. The idea of deposition testimony, you better be precise. Otherwise, it can be used against you.

But then you've got the wild, wild west of the Twitter or Facebook thumbs, right, and the idea that those two could be used. It's also dangerous for him, when all the different investigations looming, for him to use the platforms recklessly.

WILLIAMS: Sure, it's evidence, right? It is statement being made by a party and you can use them in court. If he contradicts something he said, yeah, as he did today in a deposition, that certainly can be used against him.

I think the challenge, this is where the political and the legal sort of come together, you know, I don't know if any of this actually hurts the former president with his supporters, right, where so much of his brand has been built on grievance, and grievance at the behest of the legal system that perhaps being targeted by these lawsuits and prosecutions and investigations actually whips people up.

Maybe like Charlie is saying, a dwindling proportion of the republican electorate. But still, a lot of people still -- you know, he touches something in them.

COATES: Yeah. And to that point you raised, the dwindling, Charlie, just to build on that point, the campaign may be dwindling, but you're not actually hearing from Republican incumbents who are vociferous about wanting him to go away.

DENT: Well, I like to say that is diminishing figure, but he's still a dangerous one. He still commands enough support to cause problems. And you're seeing, too, that a lot of these other likely candidates for president on the republican side, whether they be Chris Christie, Pompeo, Nikki Haley, Pence, nobody wants to be the first to jump into that pool with Donald Trump because they'll become his target.

And so, I think they're all waiting around even though they recognize his vulnerability. So, it is kind of this conundrum. You only need one, maybe two candidates to challenge him. There can't be too many because if there are too many candidates out there, that will split the anti-Trump vote too many ways, and he can walk away with a plurality.

COATES: But are they waiting for Trump or are they waiting to see the Democratic nominee?

ALLISON: I think it's both. I think that, you know, folks are waiting to see -- the state of the union is next week. They're waiting to see what President Biden says, what -- if he declares or not.

I think if -- whether or not President Biden runs or not, I think there will be more Republicans that jump into the field. But I think they are just trying to hedge their bets because once Joe Biden announces, they can say, I can be the person, Trump already lost to him, I can be the person who might be able to beat him. Will they be correct? I'm not sure.

One other thing I just want to say is -- the interesting thing about this deposition is I feel like this is the most control we might have ever seen Donald Trump be in just saying one line over and over. But when he really gets on Twitter, he just can't control himself. He won't have his attorneys around him. And that's where he'll start to say those contradicting statements that will get him in trouble.

DENT: Well, he can lie on Twitter, he can lie to the media, but lying in a deposition is another matter. He got the legal advice, I think, to take the Fifth Amendment. He's a terrible witness.

COATES: Look, to be clear, you know, he has been invited back to Twitter, but he's still on Truth Social, Facebook and Instagram, maybe other fundraising opportunities to what he would like to do next. But we're all really waiting to see what impact -- I mean, if we're talking about the idea of who takes the Fifth, remember the mob takes the Fifth. If you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?

ALLISON: Uh-huh.

COATES: All those different aspects of it.


COATES: It will be interesting to see how that will be compartmentalized away now that there's conversations around ongoing witch hunts, so to speak. Stick around, everyone, because next, the latest chapters in what seems to be the never-ending saga of one George Santos. He says that he is stepping back from his committee assignments until his issues are resolved. So, which issues does he mean exactly? The issues about the lying on his resume or any other aspect of it? Maybe volleyball this time? What is it?


COATES: Embattled Republican Congressman George Santos is speaking out after deciding to step aside from his committee assignments, at least until the investigations into his lies are resolved. Here's what he said to right-wing network OAN earlier today.


REP. GEORGE SANTOS (R-NY): I've learned my lesson.


SANTOS: And you can guarantee -- I can guarantee you that from now on, anything and everything is always going to be above board. It's largely always been above board. I'm just going to go the extra step now to double check, cross reference, everything.


COATES: I know you're thinking of double check and cross reference your own stories? Okay, well, he was asked about the issues with his campaign finances or animal charity. He wasn't asked about the many lies he told about his employment and religion and family history and even his mother's location on September 11th. But he did say this.


SANTOS: I've made my sincere apology multiple times. I've earlier said that I thoroughly apologize for lying about my education and embellishing the resume. I made that very, very clear. I don't know what more can be said other than admitting. Is there anything more humbling and humiliating than admitting that on national television, Caitlin?


COATES: Charlie Dent, Ashley Allison, and Elliot Williams are all back. What is the answer to his question? Is there anything more that he could have done or do now that he has admitted to the lying? Former Congressman Charlie Dent?

DENT: He could do more. He could resign. That is the easiest thing to. But look, lying about your resume, your schooling, working at Goldman Sachs, the holocaust, 9/11, I mean, that's not a crime. But his bigger problem, of course, is this $700,000 campaign loan.

WILLIAMS: Yeah. DENT: He's got FEC problems and probably DOJ problems. He's got problems all over the place legally and certainly ethically. I think that's big issue.

COATES: But what's the real story? Tell me -- I mean, you've been behind the scenes.

DENT: Yeah.

COATES: What's the real story? He has been assigned to committee assignment and now he's saying, you know what, I think I'll go ahead and step back. What -- what really happens?

DENT: You know what happened? I suspect he was guaranteed committees. They needed a speaker vote. Okay, now, leadership -- republican leadership wants to kick Ilhan Omar off of her committees. But it's hard to kick her off the committees, the Foreign Affairs Committees, when you have Santos on two committees with his baggage.

So, I'm sure he didn't voluntarily jump off those committees. I'm sure he had a meeting with the speaker who said, we need you to get off the committees, and then he said, I'm stepping down. That's, I think, the back story. That's what it looks like to me.

WILLIAMS: No question. Right. And that is the sort of behind the scenes horse trading. But in practice, what you have now is a member of Congress who is recused from serving on committees. That's basically like a McDonald's employee who is recused from touching big macs. It's literally a core function of the job that he's not doing on behalf of the people.

And frankly, set aside whether he resigns or not, the people of the third district, the congressional district of New York, they ask, do I really want this clown show representing me in Congress? He's not serving the people.

COATES: On that point, it's important one. The idea of, you know, what happens when you're not on a committee. Remember Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, Paul Gosar, to name a few. It was the same notion of, hold on a second, they're not going to be on committees, what are they really going to be doing at that point in time?

But you mentioned the people. Congresswoman Elise Stefanik talked about this earlier today. Listen to what the fourth ranking House Republican had to say because she goes back to talk about, look, this is about the process and the people.


REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R-NY): Like all my colleagues, particularly in New York State, I supported George Santos as the nominee and the people of his district voted to elect him. Now, we just got out of conference and George has voluntarily removed himself from committees as he goes through this process. But ultimately, voters decide.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Should he resign? Do you think he should resign? STEFANIK: Again, this process is going to play itself out.


COATES: I mean, Ashley, on that point, yes, it is about the voters, but the voters did not --


COATES: -- vote for his particular person as he really is, right? And just on that point, I want to show everyone this new polling that we have out here. There is the Newsday and Siena College poll. One of the questions is, should he resign? Seventy-eight -- these are people in his own district. Seventy-eight percent said, yeah.

Also, if you want to know the breakdown, Republicans, Democrats, independents, you also have 80% Democrats, 72% independents, 71% Republicans.

So, to the larger point Elliot was raising as well, the idea of, look, what's he really doing if he's not on committee? We are also asking, what's he doing there at all?

ALLISON: Okay, first, in his interview with OAN, he lied about not lying. He's like, everything has been above the board, but it's not above -- it's like, bro, you're lying, just stop, first.

Second, this is why it was so important about all these deals that were being cut during the speaker vote because to your point, maybe there was a deal that will put you on committee to become Speaker Kevin McCarthy and now Kevin McCarthy has what he wants. And so, you can be gone because you're bringing us down and we want to do some other things with Congressman Omar.

The final thing is that the voters did not get a fair shot to elect the person that George Santos -- if they really knew who he was and all the lies, he would not have won.


ALLISON: But the reality is that in two years, that seat is going to be up again, if not sooner, if he is not forced out of office. And if his behavior sustained for these two years, I have a strong premonition that that's going to be a blue seat. And when you only have a four-vote gap right now in the House and we don't know what 2024 is going to look, Santos could really flip the majority with four votes in that district and surrounding districts that we know went red in 2022. They could go blue in 2024.

WILLIAMS: There's a question I have. This is really -- it is a question for Charlie. Do you really think, if Republicans had a 20- seat majority right now, he'd still be in Congress?

ALLISON: No! I can answer that.

WILLIAMS: Right, right. But congressman --

COATES: Her name is also Charlie right now.

WILLIAMS: Okay, so, Congresswoman Allison, that's what I mean. I think that they --

ALLISON: Don't put that name.


DENT: I've been involved -- I was on the Ethics Committee. I was involved with members being forced to resign. It's not a pleasant task. But what usually happens is, the members who had resign, because they brought discredit upon themselves and their family and their district, they could feel shame. And they resigned to protect their families and their constituents.

The challenge we have here with Santos is I'm not sure he can feel shame. And that's why he's not resigning right now, even though he should. He should get out. I think the leadership does have more leverage they can pull to force this guy out.

WILLIAMS: But the thing is they don't have to get rid of him because they need his seat.


WILLIAMS: And the point --

ALLISON: Even if the Dems were in control --


ALLISON: -- and it was a slim margin, I think they would still push him out. This is literally a play about politics. And Stefanik is saying, like, let the process go, it's about the people. It's not being truthful and not being honest and it's just a politics and power play right now.

COATES: And let me just say this, too. There is the moment, talking about Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. I mean, she is on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. This is not a permanent select committee. So, McCarthy does not have the unilateral ability to just take her off. But let me leave you all with this moment, things that make you think for a second. Congressman Matt Gaetz coming to her defense. Listen.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): I view the Schiff and Swalwell matter somewhat differently than I view the Ilhan Omar matter. The reason I think a lot of Republicans want to kick Ilhan Omar off of the Foreign Affairs Committee is because they don't like what she has to say. It's one thing to do dangerous things to the country with intelligence. It's quite another to say, I don't like your viewpoint and, thus, I want to remove you.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COATES: Hmm, that's an homage to our senior hall, things that make you go, hmm, about what's happening. Try to process that, everyone.

When we come back, I want to turn to the alarming spread of antisemitism in this country and what Benjamin Netanyahu told our own Jake Tapper about fighting it. That's next.




COATES: As part of his exclusive one-on-one interview with CNN's Jake Tapper, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talked about rising antisemitism and the constant battle against it.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: What I learned from my father and what I've learned from history is that you may not be able to eradicate it if it has been around that long, but you have to be able to resist it. And to resist it, first of all, the Jewish people have to stand up proud and be strong. Non-Jews have to realize that hatred that begins with the Jews doesn't end there. We saw that with Hitler. It just spreads and engulfs it.


COATES: A lot to talk about tonight with Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and national director of the Anti-Defamation League. Jonathan, thank you for being here this evening.

You know, the Israeli prime minister also spoke to Jake more broadly as well about really the roots of antisemitism. I think it's very important to focus on that as well to try to better understand how to eradicate it in part. Let me play for you for a moment, I want you to respond on the other side, what he had to say about the roots in present day.


NETANYAHU: My late father, who was a great historian, was also a historian of antisemitism. And I learned from him that antisemitism has deep roots. It actually goes back as a doctorate, 2,500 years, to Hellenistic Egypt, actually, that's where it began, 500 years before Christianity.

And it's, you know, taken on shapes, changed shapes, but it basically says, you know, it holds the Jews responsible for all the ills of the world and just pervades these horrible myths about the Jewish people. They drink the blood of Jewish children. That's what they said -- of Christian children. That is what they said in the middle ages. They actually say that about Israel today.


COATES: I mean, Jonathan, just hearing that, why -- just help us to really echo why this is so dangerous today.

JONATHAN GREENBLATT, CEO AND NATIONAL DIRECTOR, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: Well, I think Prime Minister Netanyahu kind of gets it right. Antisemitism is often described as the oldest hatred. But in today's parlance, it's really a conspiracy theory. It's a warped view of how the world works.

Laura, it centers suffering on the Jewish people as the cause. And you know, for thousands of years, as the prime minister alluded to, Jewish people, after the expulsion from their ancient homeland in the area we now call Israel, Jewish people lived as a minority in majoritarian countries, spoke in different language.


GREENBLATT: They had different rituals. They had different dietary practices, different cultural customs. They were ethnically distinct. And they were a convenient scapegoat, whether for the emperor or the church or the crown or the caliphate or the Cossacks and the Tsar or the Third Reich. Blaming the Jews was a way that people in positions of authority could shift the blame for their own failings.

And unfortunately, it has mutated overtime. But it -- it has persisted and remains with us today.

COATES: I mean, on that point, I have to tell you, I was pretty stunned to see some of the results of the new Anti-Defamation League survey. It was released just earlier this month. And the numbers are stunning. You talk about the historical context and where we are right now.

Just for part of it, the survey found that the percentage of Americans who believe in antisemitic tropes has actually spiked in the last three years. Eighty-five percent now believe in at least one anti- Jewish trope compared to 61% in 2019.

Why do you think that is? What has attributed or contributes to this rise in just the last several years alone?

GREENBLATT: Laura, I'm glad you asked. This ADL data, which we have been doing, these kinds of polling, since the 1960s. So, we have a lot of context and a lot of experience.

And indeed, in a world in which our leaders are normalizing antisemitism, whether from the right or from the left, blaming the Jewish people or the Jewish state, they normalize tropes like globalists, the idea that Jews control the banks and Wall Street and whatnot. It has become part of like the political conversation, Laura, in ways that were unimaginable few years ago.

So, number one, you have politicians weaponizing antisemitism. Number two, extremists feel emboldened. They can make wild claims, again, about Zionists or globalists. These are euphemisms for Jews. And literally, they are running for office on such wild charges. And then, thirdly, social media is a super spreader of stereotypes. I mean, what we are seeing on Facebook and Twitter and TikTok would make your head spin. So, taken together, whether it's the extreme right demonizing the Jewish people, the radical left demonizing the Jewish state, we get caught in between.

That is why, in addition to the attitudes, Laura, the anti-Jewish incidence have reached an all-time high. We have been tracking that for almost 45 years. We have never seen the kind of numbers, unfortunately, we are seeing today.

COATES: You mentioned politics. While you were talking, we were showing on the screen some of the stereotypes that people are thinking and mostly true. But I do want to play for you -- because Jake Tapper did ask Netanyahu if he had any concerns, speaking of social media, about Trump potentially being back in the White House in 2024. Listen to what his answer was.



NETANYAHU: I did praise President Trump because he did great things for Israel. He recognized Jerusalem as our capital. He moved the American Embassy there. He recognized our sovereignty in the Golan Heights. He went out of what I think is the dangerous nuclear deal with Iran. He helped (INAUDIBLE) four-start Peace Accords (ph) with the Arab states. So, he has done great things.

I think he made a big mistake on this Kanye West thing. And I said so. I'm not going to intervene in your politics. You know that. You tried. It's good. You To tried to get me involved in your politics. But you do your job and I will do my job. I want to stay away from your politics. Let the people decide.


COATES: Well, that's a luxury that many don't have, to sort of compartmentalize or distance. What do you think?

GREENBLATT: Well, look, I mean, I think Bibi is smart and he is going to try to stay away from our politics. He's right about the things that Trump did for Israel, many of which were positive. I wish he would emphasize negotiations directly to the Palestinians more, to be frank.

At the same time, I think -- I disagree with him about a pattern of behavior we saw from the president. From Charlotte's -- from tweeting out anti-Jewish memes during the campaign to Charlottesville, diminishing, dismissing the alt-right marchers to, again, what was just pointed out, dinner with Kanye and Nick Fuentes, I mean, it is kind of inexplicable. Trump is complicated, Laura. He has Jewish grandchildren. Yet he's dining with neo-Nazis. It is hard to square that.

But at the end of the day, what is real and what is undeniable is with the rise of antisemitism, we need Jews and non-Jews, all people, to realize that this problem, as the prime minister said in the earlier segment, is not just a Jewish issue, it is everyone's issue because it starts with the Jews, but it never ends with us. It is a sign of decay of democracy. We have all got to stand up against hate of all kinds.

COATES: We certainly do, and justice anywhere is an injustice anywhere.



COATES: Thank you so much, Jonathan Greenblatt. Nice speaking with you.

GREENBLATT: Thank you.

COATES: What is going on at the Dallas Zoo? We are going to go there next, where two emperor tamarin monkeys that went missing, well, they've now been recovered from a closet in an abandoned home. Of course, the big question, how in the world did they get there?


COATES: It has been one mystery, frankly, after another this month at the Dallas Zoo. It seems like someone is tampering with the animals. Now, there is some good news tonight. Two emperor tamarin monkeys that disappeared yesterday, well, they have now been found.


COATES: Police discovered them in an abandoned house in a Dallas suburb. They were hidden in a closet. But who put them there? And why?

I want to bring in CNN correspondent Rosa Flores. Also, with us here is Dan Ashe, president and CEO of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, who is the former director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. I want to begin with you here tonight, Rosa, on this. We learned a few hours ago that these two tamarin monkeys have been found. What do we know?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, according to the Dallas Police Department, they received a tip about this because they have been asking the public for help. They followed that tip, and they found these two monkeys in an abandoned home inside a closet. There was nobody inside that house, so no one was arrested.

But, Laura, the police did release surveillance video and a photo of an individual that they are not calling a suspect, they are not calling this individual a person of interest, but they do say that they are interested in speaking to this person in relation to the disappearance of these monkeys.

Now, that individual is wearing a beanie, a hoodie. They are eating chips. It's unclear why that was happening when this photo was taken. But again, these two monkeys were missing yesterday. And now, Laura, we know that they didn't just disappear. They were apparently abducted because they were recovered today by police.

COATES: What is the Dallas Zoo and law enforcement talking about and offering today as any potential leads or explanations?

FLORES: You know, Laura, they are taking this very seriously. The police is conducting a criminal investigation. They say that they are very serious about this. They're trying to figure out what all the suspicious activity is. They are not going into the potential charges. But they do say -- I mean, this could include animal cruelty.

And then when you think about the animals that are being tampered with, or in the case of the vulture, the vulture has died, some of these animals are vulnerable animals. In the case of the clouded leopard, there's only about 10,000 of those in southeast Asia.

The vulture is an endangered species. That vulture was killed. The zoo says that the cause and manner of death, they are trying to figure that out. But they do say that the death of the vulture was not by natural causes. So, they are investigating. They are trying to figure out who killed this vulture.

And there is $10,000 reward for the arrest and the indictment of the individual that is responsible for that. Now, another obvious question here is, are these cases related? The police will go into those details, Laura. But in the case of at least two of these instances, they happened on the same day. So, it's difficult to separate those. But again, police are taking this very seriously. This is a criminal investigation. And it continues. It is ongoing.

COATES: I want to bring in Dan to the conversation because this is the very latest incident in a string of incidents, as Rosa mentioned. Dan, these two tamarin monkeys, I mean, they were found in a closet of an abandoned home. If anyone is watching the news about what is happening in Texas right now, Dallas, specifically, it's freezing there. These are warm-weather creatures, I understand. They could have died in terms of thinking about what could have happened if they had not been found.

DAN ASHE, PRESIDENT AND CEO, ASSOCIATION OF ZOOS AND AQUARIUMS: They could have. I'm want to begin by expressing my admiration and appreciation for everyone at the Dallas Zoo and the Dallas Police Department for the dedication and the seriousness with which they have taken these matters.

But, yes, removing animals like tamarins from their habitat at the zoo is very dangerous because they -- they do have specific climate conditions. They are receiving expert care at the zoo. So, this was definitely a serious issue for their health and safety.

COATES: All right. Do you think the Dallas Zoo is doing enough given the string of events at this point to try to prevent another animal from being impacted?

ASHE: Absolutely. I think the Dallas Zoo has acted in exemplary manner. They brought in law enforcement right away. They knew something was wrong. And when you think about this, this is really kind of an allegory for what is happening to animals in nature on a much larger scale. Humans going into their habitat, taking them out of their habitat, trafficking them. There is wildlife trafficking and human persecution and poaching. They are driving a lot of their animals towards extinction.

And so, what we are seeing here is a same thing on a smaller scale. A human going into their enclosure, taking them out presumably for personal collection or possibly for -- to traffic them. And so, what we are seeing here at Dallas is the same kind of struggle that we are dealing with in conserving animals in nature. I think Dallas Zoo has done an exemplary job.


ASHE: And later this year, I will be at Dallas Zoo actually taking part in a wildlife trafficking event to highlight the challenges associated with protecting animals even now, as we see, in spaces that are designed for their safety and protection.

COATES: Really, the way you phrase it, quite a microcosm of a larger issue. I do wonder what we will know about the motives and be able to capture -- catch the person who is engaged in this behavior. Thank you to you both this evening.

ASHE: Thank you, Laura.

COATES: Well, Alec Baldwin formally charged today over the fatal shooting on his movie set. We will tell you what will come next.




COATES: Alec Baldwin now formally charged today in connection with the 2021 fatal shooting on the set of the movie "Rust." The Santa Fe County DA's office charging Baldwin and the set's armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, with two counts of involuntary manslaughter.

CNN has reached out to representatives for both Baldwin and Gutierrez Reed following today's official charges, but we have yet to hear back. But attorneys for both defendants previously insisted that their respective clients are innocent.

Back with me is Elliot Williams. Also joining me is Prop Gun Safety founder Dutch Merrick and former Maryland State police officer Neill Franklin.

I'm glad to have you all here. Let me begin with you, Dutch, on this in particular. The documents are really laying a series of actions that they believe are negligent, including him not taking firearm training seriously, having a cell phone distraction moment, also about the idea of the pointing of the gun in particular.

And I want to go there because, certainly, there is common sense that says you should never point a gun at someone, and there are obvious reasons why. I do wonder, from your experience, though, when we are talking about a movie set in particular, which is the crux of this issue, are the standards notably different because of the pantomiming and the scene setting?

DUTCH MERRICK, FOUNDER, PROP GUN SAFETY: Yeah, they absolutely are different. You know, there is real world gun handling and then there's motion picture gun handling. And we have a slightly different set of rules.

In the real world, they say never point a gun at another person or something you don't want to destroy. In the film world, we say, always point it in a safe direction.

And the safe direction is open to interpretation. We might have a gun pointed at a camera, but there will be a sheet of (INAUDIBLE) or polycarbonate there to safety that. So, it's always not pointing at a person, per se, technically. But again, I think they're putting so much onus on the actor.

He -- in my experience, we are supposed to safety the stage as though the actor can -- so that the actor can play fully, almost like a four- year- old, so they can completely be in that character, in that space, and not worrying about any other details.

So, we make it very realistic and ultimately entirely safe. So, hence, blank use for over 100 years. It looked like a real gun, they act like a real gun, but nothing comes out of the barrel except for fire. No bullets.

COATES: On that point, Neill, Baldwin insists that he did not fire the revolver, that it just -- quote -- "went off." The DA's office is saying that they had FBI analysis done and found that to be not truthful, that the weapon did not somehow malfunction. What do you think?

NEILL FRANKLIN, FORMER MARYLAND STATE POLICE OFFICER: So, I think whether on the set of a movie or in some other situation, you should always take gun safety very, very seriously. So, even in that -- as Dutch said, even though you want them in this role where they can act, for instance, like a four-year-old and just do what they need to do in that acting situation, when it comes to pointing a gun in a safe direction, it is still your responsibility, everyone's responsibility who handles that firearm, to check, to make sure that it is either loaded or unloaded, whether it has blanks or it does not have blanks, and to have someone else check with you at the same time.

You just don't want to check yourself. You check and then you show it to someone else. They check with you so it can be confirmed what the condition of the firearm is.

And pulling a trigger, if you have taken the course seriously, you know that you just don't have to pull the trigger for that firearm to discharge. Pulling the hammer back will do the very same thing, depending upon the firearm.

COATES: Elliot, let me bring you in here because one of the points that Dutch raised was the idea of a lot of onus being on the actor --


COATES: -- and the assumptions that ought to be able to be relied upon if you have this safe space. But he is notably, Alec Baldwin -- again, there is someone else, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, also charged, and another producer who has pleaded guilty already to a different charge. But he is also being charged and factored as a producer as well.


COATES: That has been a big sticking point for you.

WILLIAMS: No, it is because -- it's -- you know, he's -- and what they do in this probable cause statement where they lay out why they are charging or what the basis for the charges is, number one, these are all things that Alec Baldwin, the actor, did, sort of failing in his duty as an actor. And then Alec Baldwin as a producer, who had some responsibility for what happened on the set.

Even if we are not looking at him as an actor, this is how this producer failed the set. So, they are sort of putting forward two alternative theories for how he did it, you know, for how he went wrong.

What this comes down to and what any manslaughter case is going to come down to is what is called reasonableness. You know that, Laura, of course. It's was this person's actions, how does it relate to -- how a reasonable -- quote, unquote "person" would have acted in the circumstances?

Dutch Merrick had said a little bit earlier, a lot of these things are open to interpretation like what ought to be the right way to behave on a movie set, either as an actor or as a producer.


WILLIAMS: So, we will see how it all plays out.

COATES: And of course -- he is saying he is more of a creative producer, not something in the nuts and bolts. Will that make a difference?

WILLIAMS: The prosecutor seemed to disagree with him. So, regardless of whether he is a creative producer -- and that is the thing -- he was also, I think they use the term "principle producer." Maybe not executive producer, but he had a senior management role there. That's what they are hanging their head on here. It is just hard to say how this comes out given how subjective it all is.

COATES: We are a long way away from this being fully resolved, everyone. But we are out of time tonight. I thank you all for watching. Our coverage continues.