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CNN Tonight

Death Of Tyre Nichols Leads To Conversations About Race, Power And Policing; African American A.P. Course Revised Amid DeSantis Criticism; Diaz And Miller Discuss Future Of Policing; Nikki Haley Is Expected To Seek GOP Nomination For 2024; Alexei Navalny Moved To Harsher Solitary Confinement. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired February 01, 2023 - 23:00   ET




LAURA COATES, CNN HOST AND SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: You know, we've been talking a lot about racism in this country and race relations more broadly, particularly after the fatal police beating of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old unarmed Black man. There has been conversation about race, about policing, and about power and its abuse for years, complicated, of course, by the fact that the five officers charged in Nichols's death are also Black.

That is why many feels so passionate about how we teach about the legacy of race and racism in this country. It is also why it has become, frankly, so controversial, especially in places like Florida where the Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, has been slamming a new A.P. African American studies course.

Tonight, the College Board is out with changes to that curriculum, raising questions about why they choose and why they chose to remove certain topics.

CNN's Leyla Santiago has the very latest.


MARVIN DUNN, HISTORIAN: Look at this traffic. For 42 years, (INAUDIBLE) was killed right here (INAUDIBLE) history. From that moment, it was never the same.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The man was Arthur McDuffie, a Black father beaten to death by white police officers in Miami in 1979. When the officers were acquitted, riots followed.

(On camera): So it happened right here.

DUNN: Right here.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): It is places like this that are central to historian Marvin Dunn's Teach the Truth Tours, an effort to shed light on the history he says many students don't learn about in the classroom. DUNN: There is now an effort in Florida to cherry-pick history. And

when you start cherry-picking history, you have to make sure you (INAUDIBLE) doing that (INAUDIBLE).

SANTIAGO (voice-over): The latest controversy, an advanced placement African-American study course. The College Board, the nonprofit that oversees the AP program, has now revised its official course work. Florida's Department of Education had rejected the initial proposal to the pilot course, saying it was -- quote -- "inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value."

Florida's Republican Governor Ron DeSantis up to this point has been very critical of the pilot program.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): We have history, a lot of different shapes and sizes, people that have participated to make the country great, people that have stood up when it wasn't easy, and they all deserve to be taught. But abolishing prisons being taught to high school kids as if that somehow a fact, no, that is not appropriate.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): Last year, Florida passed legislation known as the Stop Woke Act championed by DeSantis. In part, it barred instruction that suggests anyone is privileged or oppressed based on their race or skin color. The state's objection to the A.P. course stemmed from proposed course work written a year ago for the pilot program.

The Department of Education provided CNN with a copy of the curriculum they reviewed and the list of the state's objections all related to Unit 4 titled "Movements and Debates." Concerns included Black queer studies, movements for Black lives, Black feminist literary thought among others, citing concerns about the works of specific authors and scholars.

DESANTIS: This course on Black history, what is one of the lessons about? Queer theory. Now, who would say that an important part of Black history is queer theory? That is somebody pushing an agenda on our kids.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): The newly-released official framework Unit 4 does not include any of the authors or scholars that the state listed as a concern. Queer theory and "Black Lives Matter" still mentioned in the course but only as ideas for potential student project topics.

We asked the co-chair of the development committee for the course if any changes were made because of the objections of the state of Florida.

ROBERT PATTERSON, AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDIES PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: No. If that were the case, if the state of Florida or any state itself could single-handedly alter the curriculum of African American studies, the A.P. African American states course or any A.P. course for that matter, it would actually undermine the integrity of the process that we have in place.

TJ BROWN, STUDENT: I learned a lot. SANTIAGO (voice-over): CJ Footman, TJ Brown, and their moms who live

in Miami say they have been waiting for a course like this. They all attended a "Teach the Truth Tours" and say they would know as much about their own history if it weren't for the courses topped by Dunn.

CJ FOOTMAN, STUDENT: We learn about the same people every year. George Washington Carver, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks. I feel like it is just the same stuff being taught. It is kind of like, okay, they can know this, but that's it.


BROWN: I feel like if we don't learn this, history might repeat itself. It is going to keep going on and on. We have to learn it in order to stop it.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): Some parents welcome the scrutiny. Omesthia Smith told us she wouldn't mind if her own daughter took the course, but some things, she said, are best taught at home.

OMESTHIA SMITH, PARENT: Some things, like the queer studies, that may or may not offend some of the children or make them feel a bit uncomfortable.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): As for Professor Dunn, he is now a part of a lawsuit against the state stop woke law. Being uncomfortable, he says, is a part of learning and understanding the history that is often overlooked.

DUNN: What happened here, that might have been massacre at this spot. But listen, every community in this country has spots like this. Places where Blacks are going to be killed and they have been forgotten about. This is not unique to man (ph).

SANTIAGO (on camera): And this morning, what Governor Ron DeSantis as asked about the release of the new course work, he said he hadn't read through it yet. His office tells me though that the Florida Department of Education is reviewing the course work to see if it complies with Florida law.

But, you know, therein lies the big question. Will Florida accept this as is with these revisions and allow it to be taught in Florida classrooms? Laura?


COATES: Leyla, thank you so much. I do want to turn out to Robert Patterson, who you just heard from in Leyla's piece. He is a professor of African American Studies at Georgetown University and serve as co- chair of the Committee of Professors and Teachers who developed the A.P. African American studies course. Thank you for being here today.

Professor, I'm really intrigued because I want to take a step back for a moment. It sounds like a lot --

PATTERSON: Yes. COATES: -- of the talking points that we have heard from Governor DeSantis up to this point had been based on proposed aspects, not a final curriculum. Is that true?

PATTERSON: Good evening, Laura. Yes, that is an important point to make a distinction on. In fact, the document that the state of Florida got was not officially given to them, from my understanding, by the College Board. It was a very early document that was a collection.

If you could think of a wish list of what over 100 college professors based on the syllabus that they used in the introductory courses would say, oh, I teach this, oh, I teach this, these are major topics that need to be covered.

So, that document itself was never intended to be the course framework for the course. It is interesting that they are actually using that.

COATES: It is indeed. Of course, you know, people run with it and think, oh, this is the full breath and the scope, which is probably politically advantageous if not accurate, of course. I want to talk to you, you have developed this new official A.P. African American studies curriculum. Tell me how you decided what to include.

PATTERSON: Absolutely. So, part of this was based on that original doctrine that they're using. We brought a bunch of professors and high school teachers together who went to that document and said, these are topics that you must keep, you could keep or should not keep.

Based on that feedback, the development committee then began to pair down the course and to a workable course that can be implemented to high school students at a pace that was appropriate, at a conceptual level that was appropriate.

This summer, we spent a week with high school teachers at the A.P. Summer Institute. We got feedback from them. And with regards to the issues about some of the -- some of the readings that will be included, maybe some of the topics, again, that was based on their expertise as a A.P. teachers or as African American studies teachers who were not on A.P. course but were changing the current courses that they teach into that.

From there, we continue to seek feedback and begin to finalize the course. Some of these changes, this is important for your viewers to understand, some of these changes were already in play before the state of Florida released their response to a framework they should not have even responded to in January.

In November, for example, we have decided that they -- on November 8, we have made decision that we would begin using just primary sources. So, some of the secondary readings will actually not be in there. Secondly and more importantly, the project that the students have to do that is a part of research, that is a part of the exam score, used to be a week in the pilot. That was going to be three weeks in pilot, too. That right there requires the removal of some actual instructional days. And some of these topics, let's be very clear about this, that are in that initial document from February of 2022, is are currently not in the pilot that the teachers are teaching at the 60 plus schools across the United States.

COATES: This is important to get this clarity because I think there is the perception. This is the power of the narrative that has come and emerged through all of this. It is important to really not only demystify the process, but to clarify and fact-checked what has been said.


The governor, DeSantis, spoke about the idea of not understanding really the need to have a separate course material or course work --


COATES: -- on African American history because it should all be incorporated and is all part of more of the umbrella term of American history. You know, your expertise, obviously, in the work you do as the professor of African American studies and in all the work you've done, you recognize there is value in having a nuanced curriculum with respect to it. Tell us why.

PATTERSON: Well, a couple of reasons. First of all, we all know that from the students who were in the interviews that your colleague, Leyla Santiago, conducted, that American history does not include African American history writ largely. So, that's number one.

Number two, this is a course of African American studies. So, it's not just a history course, but is bringing together literature, visual analysts, data analysis, primary sources, and other issues that are needed to understand Black life, Black history, and Black thought.

But as importantly, okay, we know that white supremacy is a central part of American education. And part of what this course is doing is challenging white supremacy, challenging anti-Black racism, and quite frankly, that seems to be part of the issue that the state of Florida has taken with the course, that it challenges some of the very premises that seem to have political currency and we might need to think more about.

COATES: I don't know how you educate without challenging one's mind, where -- you know, misconceptions and preconceived notions. Thank you so much for your time and explaining all that you have tonight. I really appreciate it.

PATTERSON: You're welcome. Thank you, too.

COATES: I want to turn now to our panel. Ramesh Ponnuru is here, editor at "The National Review." CNN political commentator Ashley Allison and political analyst Laura Barron-Lopez all here with me as well.

Let me begin with you, Laura, on this point because you had a chance to speak with the College Board in some respect about what the process looks like from here. Tell us about it.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER FOR POLITICO: Yeah. I NewsHour spoke to the CEO of the College Board, David Coleman, today and he told us essentially also what Professor Patterson said, which was that this final curriculum was developed as early as December. So, even before the steps were taken by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

He also said that if ultimately Florida decides not to accept this final -- this final document, that they are not going to revise it further. You know, that this would be something that they would have to talk to the entire College Board about. And at this point, they won't necessarily change it at all from this point.

COATES: So, the governor would have the final -- whatever happens down in Florida, they would have the final say?

BARRON-LOPEZ: No, he's saying that we -- they -- if Florida decides to reject what right now the document is, they aren't going to then appease Florida by changing it further.


BARRON-LOPEZ: And so, they're hoping that Florida ultimately doesn't do that. You know, they're not saying that they would take A.P. classes out of Florida because it's another issue that was potentially raised about whether or not all A.P. classes will withdraw from Florida. The CEO of the College Board said that's not something that we're considering at this time.

You know, one thing that I think is also important is that in the terms of the sourcing in that document that they said, certain readings or secondary sources would potentially be distributed to the students.

What the CEO of the College Board said was that in all of these A.P. courses, when they are finalized, they do not mandate secondary sourcing, they do not mandate that a student has to read a specific work of, you know, a specific book or a specific document that was written by secondary sources at all, whether it's, you know, Latin American history, whether it's Asian American history, Mexican American history, that is not in those courses.

So, he was essentially saying that eventually, that was not going to be something that was finalized in the A.P. course work.

COATES: And Ramesh, on the idea of why -- the idea of, look, if you're working off and the talking points are around a document that was never really intended to be more than perhaps an intellectual brainstorm and pedagogical discussion of what to do next, why do you think there has been this focus on the range of issues that each individual states are facing, including florida? Why do you think this continues to be top of mind and close to the political service?

RAMESH PONNURU, EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW INSTITUTE: Well, I think there are lots of reasons for this. And some of it has to do with the way parents have gotten mobilized on the issue of education over the last few years, particularly, with the experience of COVID. And some of it is just rising concern, particularly among conservatives, with the idea that there's too much of a political slant into many of our public schools.

And we looked at the original unit for framework that they were talking about, movements and debates, and there wasn't a ton of debate. There was the case for reparations, which is absolutely something that deserves study.


The more case against reparations made at the same time. And my own view is that it's too bad that we got rid of the case for reparations as something the people are going to study. We should've just added to it and have more of the debate on all sides.

COATES: I always assume when I see a syllabus for the curriculum that if you're talking about one issue, my assumption, maybe it is naive, would be that any good curriculum would include the other side, would include the discussion about the counterpoints to strengthen one's belief in one or the other.

And so, I wonder from your perspective, just knowing how prevalent this is, Ashley, is it going to be something that will continue into 2024? It's not just Florida we are having this discussion. We see school board meetings all over the country that are impacted by the idea of parental choice and insight and what happens next.

ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I do think it will go into 2024. I just have to say, I think on the first day of Black history month, I find myself exhausted as a Black American in this country where we had to watch the funeral of Tyre Nichols who was murdered at the hands of police, Black police officers but police, where we have to face this decision.

And the reason why these courses and the death of these courses are so important is we don't actually need the counter argument to the case for why reparations are happening. It's our life. They never happen. They are -- the law today is the argument.

What this course is to present, an alternative option to have an America that could actually live up to its ideals. We find ourselves shooting after shooting, beating after beating, death after death of Black bodies, having the same argument because what is taught in our educational system does not provide people the context to understand that police are the derivative of slave patrols.

A course like A.P. African American studies, actually, every course in history should talk about that. But it is absent in our academic system. And so, the hope is -- it is offensive on a day like this. I understand the process and I appreciate, you know, the explanation, but this is bigger than just this process on this course.

This is a political stunt by Ron DeSantis. This is playing to his base. But it is dangerous for our country because the students, the children will lead us. The child said in that excerpt, if we don't learn our history, we are destined to repeat this. Well, you know, bearing another Black man at the hands of police feels like I will live this history throughout my entire life.

If we don't start teaching an appropriate history, we will continue to do it, and our lawmakers will fail to change policy. So, this is more than just one A.P. course. This is actually about changing the arc of our country, which many conservatives don't want to do.

PONNURU: Yeah, a lot of conservatives don't believe that the purpose of education and the public education system is to move U.S. policy to the left to present contested views such as that policing is based on slave patrols as though it is the uncontested truth and the historical consensus.

Absolutely, a governor is going to -- who's a Republican governor of a conservative state is going to take issue with that. It's not going to want taxpayer dollars spent. propaganda is in favor of a left-wing point of view however passionately felt.

ALLISON: It's not propaganda. It's true. But the point is that it's not propaganda that we bury Tyre Nichols and that he was killed at the hands of police. That's true. That's a reality we all watch today. It's not propaganda --

PONNURU: That is not anything that anybody is disputing.

ALLISON: Yes, but the reason why --

PONNURU: It is not anything Governor DeSantis disputes.

ALLISON: But the reason why those deaths are allowed to happen is because we don't take the time to really understand the systematic racism that is plaguing our country, that allows for a president like Donald Trump to say racist things and still be elected. To give this idea of fear that, like, if we teach a comprehensive history, something would be taken away from me, I would argue that it's better. And I'm just saying that --

PONNURU: But the idea that the killing is because of systematic racism, it's a point of view. It's a point of view that you can argue. There are other points of view. The public education system should not be putting its weight behind one contested -- contestable point of view.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Well, I think that the CEO of the College Board, David Coleman, would actually say that's not what they're doing. That what they're doing is -- the reparation movement is something that would still be taught in the class. It's something that actually the students themselves can write their final research project on if they want to, that there are no limitations on what sourcing that they want to use for that research project, and that teachers in the course work welcome to use whatever primary sourcing and secondary sourcing they want to use.

[23:19:58] So, they're not mandating what exactly they can do when they're crafting that entire research project on whatever subject it is. And he said that he was very concerned about the chilling effect that loss like those in Florida will have in classrooms and that teachers have already voiced their concern about the fact that they may not be able to teach, you know, the influence of Black gay leaders and their place in history, what they did in history to their students and the fact that they may not be able to do research projects on that, of course.

COATES: Well, this conversation reminds me of -- I think Supreme Court justices talked about education as the marketplace of ideas. We'll talk more about this, everyone. We're talking a lot tonight about how policing in this country needs to change and it's a conversation that's been going on across this country.

When we come back, we'll look at new technology and new AI system that's designed to alert police departments to inappropriate interactions. Can it work?



COATES: The death of Tyre Nichols brings the spotlight once again on the need for police reform and conversation surrounding it. And as cities are looking for solutions, some departments are adopting new tools to promote better policing like a new A.I. tool that analyzes language used on police body cams.

The software listens to officers and commands positive interactions between police and community members as well as flagging possible warning signs like violent language and the use of slurs.

Joining me now is Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz, whose department has started using this technology, as well as CNN senior law enforcement and intelligence analyst John Miller. Thank you to both of you for being here.

I want to begin with you, Chief Diaz, on this point because this is some pretty still new technology, but there is reporting that your department is already thinking about re-upping into a two-year contract. Have you seen evidence of behavior that this is actually working?

ADRIAN DIAZ, CHIEF, SEATTLE POLICE: Yeah, we're just looking at how we operationalize. It's part of equity, accountability, and quality system. And specifically, to the software that we're using, it's part of a quality. As you mentioned, it's really about understanding if officers are escalating -- deescalating a situation just based on their language, based on their actual tone.

As I have many friendships, you could say hi in many ways and people can understand that based on how you say hi. It can actually -- just a tone of it can actually come across condescending or it could actually come across a lot more aggressive, even though many officers might say, well, I just said hello, and I didn't think I was escalating a situation.

And so, using that technology to be able to do that really helps us be able to train officers in the right manner to actually make sure that we're providing a quality service.

COATES: Look, I know quite well. I mean, my tone is everything, chief.


COATES: I know how you think about things and how people are really using it, so understand on that very point. The company did issue a statement that I want to say. It's called Truleo, by the way. They told us in a statement that they believe technology like this could have identified the deficiencies that led to the death of Tyre Nichols. I wonder, in particular, do you think that will be possible given what you know about the technology and the use of A.I. to alert and flag?

DIAZ: Well, we're not using it in the manner they're probably describing. What we're trying to do is take an aggregate data set and try to understand how we train officers to provide professionalism and equity and how they are policing.

And so, based on language and how they actually de-escalate situations. I think that that's overall, you're really trying to change that culture of what you're providing, the level of service. And so, I think that's our focus effort.

I do think if you're really changing that culture and really infusing that level of de-escalation, always be mindful about how you train officers, that does -- you know, it's got improve policing. It's going to improve the quality of service that you do.

COATES: John, I want to bring you in here because, of course, there's always a question of how it can be used. I mean, this idea that you're using it as a training, meaning everything is looked at in retrospect, what has already happened, as opposed to real time.

But we have seen officers, for example, saying things like, stop resisting. Talking about in Memphis, their version of events, the narrative they have crafted. If this is just a language system, is it possible to then maybe game the system?

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, what I think what you're seeing is a struggle that police departments are having to get more out of their body cameras. Right now, if there is a critical incident, they can go back to the body cameras, they can rewind history and they can look at it in almost real time.

But what are you getting out of the 35,000 body cameras from New York City police officers, the 9,000 in L.A. or the 2,000 in Memphis, when there is a critical incident? What are you learning about performance? So, you can look at them randomly. But tools like Truleo where flag ones of interest for you, that will push those to the top that will allow you to command good behavior, look at critical behavior.

There's another system called Atlas (ph), brought forward by Jonathan Farm (ph), a New Jersey police chief, that's less technology-driven on the A.I. side and more clinical. And the Atlas (ph) model, it says, if the police department is the patient, where are your problems? Is it on domestic violence incidents? Is it on pedestrian stops? Are you getting most of your civilian complaints from car stops?

And they will pull those incidents and sit with the officers and play them their tapes with the department policy alongside it. And they'll say, this is you, this is the policy. Are you doing it right? Are you doing it wrong?

And then you learn two important things, Laura.


Number one, if lots of them are doing it outside the policy, then you have to ask yourself, what's wrong with the training that the officers don't get the policy? Do we need to fix something on our end as managers? Or if it's a small number of officers, we need to get them retrained.

COATES: And also, yeah --

MILLER: So, these tools are finding their way to improve police departments using the technology far more than just recording the past.

COATES: And you're right about also identifying essentially what we talk about, what the culture of policing in that department may ultimately be. Chief Adrian Diaz, John Miller, thank you for joining us tonight. I appreciate it.

DIAZ: Thank you for having me.

COATES: Look, the road to 2024 and the Republican Party is about to get a bit more crowded. The former South Carolina governor, Nikki Haley, is expected to throw her hat into the ring, challenging former President Trump for the GOP nomination. We're going to talk about it, next.





COATES: Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley expected to announce her 2024 presidential run this very month. According to a person familiar with her plans, Haley will make her announcement on February 15th in Charleston.

She will be the first Republican to jump into the race and challenge former President Donald Trump. Haley gave her clearest indication that she would run during an interview with Fox News just last month.


NIKKI HALEY, FORMER SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR: When you're looking at a run for president, you look at two things. You first look at, does the current situation push for new leadership? The second question is, am I that person that could be that new leader? Yes, we need to go on a new direction. And can I be that leader? Yes, I think it is time for new generational change. I don't think you need to be 80 years old to go be a leader in D.C.


COATES: Well, back with me now, Ramesh Ponnuru, Ashley Allison, and Laura Barron-Lopez on these points as well. Let me tell you, the idea she's playing immediately the generational card, but the idea of -- I mean, we know who she's talking about, given all the comments surrounding President Biden and frankly, President Trump as well. Is that a successful strategy?

PONNURU: Well, I think it's important to note, it is a way of attacking Trump while appearing to attack Biden.


PONNURU: But the question about whether it's an effective strategy, I think, has to get at another point, which is voters can make their own conclusions about the age and fitness of a candidate. They don't need you as the candidate to point it out to them. So, I do wonder if that's maybe a little bit crude.

COATES: Well, if it's crude, it's been done thousands of times in the last couple of years. But your point is well taken. Laura, on this point, though, there's been a lot of conversation about who will be the first person to throw their hat into the ring. And many thought, first, it might be a bit of a sacrificial lamb because now the one person who is in the race, former president Donald Trump, can, you know, have their sights fixated on this person. Announcing this early, what do you think?

BARRON-LOPEZ: Yeah, the question is, how many quickly announce in succession behind her or if she is left out there for a while, where it's just her and the former president going at each other.

Does she -- is she able to differentiate herself? Because right now, she's going to have to explain how she was, within the Trump administration, supported a number of his policies, but beyond generation, how exactly is she going to say that she's different than the former president? And right now, she hasn't explained any of that.

COATES: And you know, a name that always comes up is Governor Ron DeSantis. We talk about him a lot, frankly, and I think there's good reason for doing so. Listen to what the former president had to say about a potential DeSantis run and the issue of loyalty coming up.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ron would have not been governor if it wasn't for me, and that's okay. When I hear he might run, you know, I consider that very disloyal. But it's not about loyalty. But to me, it's always about loyalty. But for a lot of people, it's not about loyalty.


COATES: Well, loyalty has been a common refrain. But I do want to play what DeSantis said in response to that. Listen.


DESANTIS: Not only did we win reelection, we won with the highest percentage of the vote that any Republican governor candidate has in the history of the state of Florida. We won by the largest raw vote margin, over 1.5 million votes, than any governor candidate has ever had in Florida history. And so, what I would just say is, that verdict has been rendered by the people of the state of Florida.


COATES: Ashley, what's your take on this? In part, Laura's point is really well taken on the idea of, look, Haley is going to have to explain the why now and her allegiance to the former president. And you have the issue of loyalty coming up and you you've got the facts on what the election has really shown. Is that nuance going to be appreciated?

ALLISON: I don't actually know. I mean, I think that Haley and DeSantis both are very closely aligned to Donald Trump on a policy note. I think DeSantis makes these points about the electorate speaking clearly in Florida, mind you, about his election to say, guess what, Trump, I won and I didn't need you in this reelect, so it kind of give a jab without even saying Trump's name.

For Donald Trump, though, the more people who jump into the race, he doesn't really want DeSantis. DeSantis has a lot of money that he can spend through his PACs. Nikki Haley, not so much. He wants, meaning former president Donald Trump, wants more people in this race to split the number of votes across the Republican Party and he can bank.

What I think though so is interesting is that if -- as soon as Nikki Haley announces, if more people don't fall, it's really her running against Donald Trump.


And she -- if she was smart, she would start running against Joe Biden also. Donald Trump lost to Joe Biden. I'm the person who can beat. The longer she's the only person in the race, the better that fits for her. But the more candidates in that republican fill, I think the better it appears for Donald Trump. PONNURU: You know, I think it's also interesting that Trump is playing the loyalty card because remember, his success in 2015, 2016, of course, he was the insurgent, he was against the establishment. This is a classic establishment move saying you owe me because I'm in charge of everything and it's not your turn. It would be interesting to see whether that kind of campaign can work for Trump.

COATES: It's interesting, too, if we see the president of the United States go from I intend to run again to the launching of the reelection campaign officially right now. We will have to see.

Everyone, just ahead, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny being transferred now to a harsher solitary confinement as his health continues to deteriorate.



COATES: Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was serving a nine-year sentence in a high-security Russian prison, is now being sent to even harsher solitary confinement for the maximum possible six months, according to his lawyer. Navalny's health is failing and his family is begging the Kremlin to provide the medical care he needs to get well.

Joining us now is Anna Veduta. She is the vice president of the Anti- Corruption Foundation that Alexei Navalny started. I'm so glad that you're here. Everyone is watching and with extraordinary anxiety and concern. Tell me about his health right now.

ANNA VEDUTA, VICE PRESIDENT, ANTI-CORRUPTION FOUNDATION: Well, we are greatly concerned for his health, for the reason that, for example, in recent weeks, he lost 15 pounds. He is now experiencing extreme pain in his stomach for the reason that he has been deliberately infected with the respiratory infection or some kind of flu.

And instead of providing him with a proper medication and with the proper medical care, they have been administrating, like, huge overdoses of antibiotics which actually led to this severe pain and the loss of weight.

And he has been kept in a really unbearable condition because this is a seven to eight feet concrete cell where he has been kept almost permanently. Eleven times in a row, he has been sent here. And now, he is going to be spending his six months in a cell just like that. It's called the cell-type (ph) facility.

You're not allowed to lay down during the daytime because your bed is pressed into the wall. The only thing you have is a small iron steel. And as the viewers of you can recall, he has been poisoned with Novichok nerve agent. And although he survived this poison and he was able to recover, there are consequences to that. It takes a toll on him. A huge toll on your health.

I mean, all that's happening to him right now is on top of everything that was happening to him before. For example, the severe back pains. And the cage is so small that he wasn't able to do his regular routine like physical routine which helps with his back pain. And now, he's also losing his weight and he is experiencing sleep deprivation which, you know, is a torture.


VEDUTA: Because in front of this cell where he has been -- this cage where he has been kept, they have put another person who is clinically insane or some kind of medical definition of that who is barking at night, who is crying at night. He can hear it very clear. So, he can't sleeve. They also put a very bright lamp, three of those actually, in his cell. So bright that it hurts his eyes. So, all in all, everything that they do, they do it --

COATES: To break him.

VEDUTA: Yeah. It's impossible -- let's put it this way. He will die before he breaks. That's for sure.

COATES: And I want to point out, he's been tweeting through his lawyers. We've been able to get a tweet out via his lawyers. In one of them, he says how important it is to do just about anything in order to throw the yoke of these scoundrels off Russia. Let us try to remain strong and do all we can every day.

He goes on to talk about his confinement. And he's still defiant and trying to make sure that people realize the importance of him as a symbol and what it really means even now.

VEDUTA: Even though, and not only that. He has used his penal colony on every violation of his rights which, is again, permanent, because when it comes to Navalny, there's no such thing as a glimpse of rule of law even by the unbearable standards of the Russians and what counts as a rule of law over there.

And he uses every hearing in this penal colony to protest against the war, to state his entire war position, to say to the Russian people that they need to fight it, not only fight for our country but to fight against the war.

And this is one of the reasons why they are so severe to him, because they can't silence him no matter what they do, no matter how unbearable they do it to him. They really do it to make him suffer and to make him regret that he returned and stayed with this country and the stayed at his position (ph).


COATES: In reality, all they've done is perhaps strengthen the resolve of everyone watching to ensure his freedom. Thank you so much.

Everyone, for more on the story of how Alexei Navalny ended up in prison after surviving an alleged assassination attempt by the Kremlin, check out the Oscar-nominated CNN film "Navalny" streaming right now on HBO Max. Next, a moment of humanity in the middle of the hyper-partisanship here in Washington D.C.


COATES: I want to thank you for watching. But before we go, a rare moment of encouragement in the midst of Washington's dysfunction the other day.


Listen to this exchange between House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, a Republican, and democrat Jamie Raskin, who is undergoing chemotherapy to treat lymphoma.

REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): The distinguished gentleman from Maryland, Ranking Member Jamie Raskin, to introduce his members. But first, I want to publicly say, Mr. Raskin, we're all rooting for you. We know that you're going to win this battle. You're in our thoughts and prayers. And it's good to see you here today. Ranking Member Raskin.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Mr. Chairman, thank you so much. it means a lot to me. I've been gratified to receive so many kind words of encouragement and sympathy from colleagues on both sides of the aisle. And I hope that these expressions of concern and solidarity would become seeds of friendship over the year. I certainly plan on getting through this thing and beating it. And I thank you for your patience and indulgence.