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CNN Tonight

Trump Goes After DeSantis In Iowa Speech; Michelle Obama Gives Advice For Sasha And Malia; Dominion Files Lawsuit Against Fox; Texas Man Sues Women For Helping Ex-Wife Get Abortion; A Murder Case Is Clouding March Madness. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired March 13, 2023 - 23:00   ET




LAURA COATES, CNN HOST AND SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Former President Donald Trump is speaking tonight in Iowa, his first trip to the crucial campaign state. He is announcing his now third White House run. Rival candidate Nikki Haley and likely candidates, Ron DeSantis and Mike Pence, also making trips to Iowa, hoping that the conventional wisdom is true, that the base wants to move on from Trump.

Here with me now, Karen Finney, Bob Cusack, editor-in-chief of "The Hill," Mona Charen of "The Bulwark," and Tia Mitchell of "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution."

I'm glad you're all here tonight. First, let us begin with what Trump is saying about Governor Ron DeSantis. I know you are all like, what is he saying? Let's play it for a moment. Here's what he had to say.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ron DeSanctis, Ron DeSanctimonious, Ron DeSantis strongly opposed ethanol. Do you know that? And we don't even know if he's running. But I might as well tell you, if he's not running, I'll say he was fun on ethanol. He also fought against social security. He wanted to decimate it and voted against it three times. Voted against social security. That's a bad one.


COATES: The fact that he keeps mentioning him, Tia -- I mean, he is under his skin. The idea that he has not actually announced a run yet, but he is focusing on him.

TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION: Yeah. Well, he has no one else to focus on, really, because there are not a whole lot of candidates, number one. And of those who poll, Ron DeSantis is the one that kind of keeps pace with Donald Trump the most.

But I think it is interesting because Ron DeSantis is taking the opposite approach. You know, he doesn't talk about Donald Trump at all. If he does, it is only to say, well, you know, he was okay president. You know, it is almost like he is acting like Donald Trump is not on his mind at all. Meanwhile, Donald Trump is Ron DeSantis, Ron DeSantimonious, Ron this, Ron that.

COATES: There will be more nicknames, too.

MITCHELL: Of course. He's got to find one that sticks because DeSantimonious is -- I don't know if it's happening (ph).

COATES: You're not moved by it. But the idea (INAUDIBLE) take me of the role that you probably tell your kids when there is a bully. Right? Ignore him. Ignore him. Don't pay him any mind. Whether it is effective or not in the long run, a different story.

MONA CHAREN, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST, POLICY EDITOR AT THE BULWARK: Yeah. I mean, in DeSantis's ideal universe, he would be able to say, I am the ideal successor to Trump and so on. The problem with this strategy is that Trump is standing there like a brick wall, and he is going to have to deal with that.

Trump is going to attack and attack and attack. And eventually, DeSantis is going to have to take him on directly. He can't ignore him. He can't pretend that he is not there. And If he does not respond directly, he is going to look weak and ineffectual. And so, at some point, this confrontation is coming. It has to.

COATES: And the idea that confrontation is coming, you think about it. I mean, confronting him is one thing, but the way he does will be really telling, because we have seen that many have -- you know, many come up to the plate and struck out when it comes to trying to go against Donald Trump in the tit-for-tat category. What should the approach be to Mona's point?

BOB CUSACK, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE HILL: BOB COSTAS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: well, you know -- you know who ignored Trump in 2015. It was Jeb Bush. That didn't work out. Okay? So, I think DeSantis, who is kind of stalled in the polls recently, in New Hampshire, Trump is doing much better than he was earlier.

So, Trump, even though he's got all of these problems and possibly going to be indicted on a couple of things, maybe even three things, he is still doing quite well in the polls. And he knows how to campaign.

Now, DeSantis had a great win for reelection. He won by 19 points. But that is in Florida. I think -- I think you are right. I think DeSantis is going to have to start jabbing back at him because right now, Trump keeps poking him. I think that is effective.

COATES: You know what? DeSantis (INAUDIBLE) that Trump does not, Karen, and that is an entire legislative session that can take place while he is the governor of the state, and the media focuses on him, follow this conversation about woke, culture, et cetera. It might as well be clickbait for many people who are hearing what he has to say.


He has got his whole period of time before he might declare. Is that part of the strategy here?

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It certainly seems that way. And it also seems that the strategy is to avoid talking about Trump directly for as long as he can. But I agree that they got to make the calculation when can you no longer avoid him. At some point, it's one of the things that we are going to want to know. Okay, can you throw a punch? Can you take a punch, right, from Donald Trump? As you said, a lot of folks have failed.

But you're right. Both between the book tour and the legislative session -- and we are already seeing this in terms of -- over the weekend, he said that the failure of the Silicon Valley Bank was about, you know, woke ideology, which, you know, again, he will say that as many times as he can because that is part of his mantra.

So, he does have many more opportunities to continue to get press on things that have nothing to do with Trump. It will be, I think, probably New Hampshire, Iowa where he will face more of those questions and it will be harder to ignore.

COATES: I want to bring in Sheelah Kolhatkar, who is a former Hedge Fund analyst and a staff writer for "The New Yorker." Trump also, as you know, brought up the banks tonight, saying our economy is in shambles. What is the reality, though? Can we fact-check that?

SHEELAH KOLHATKAR, STAFF WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: The economy, it is a bit in a funny state right now, as a lot of people have pointed out. So, there has been a lot of complaining and handwringing about inflation, and the Federal Reserve has been raising interest rates to try and bring down inflation.

But at the same time that we have this incredibly strong employment picture, unemployment is very low, wages for medium workers have held up very strongly. So, it is a little bit confusing to a lot of people. It does not fit into any easy category.

I think the storyline that the economy is apocalyptically bad and on the brink of disaster has just not borne out, although it does seem to play into the talking points of some of these candidates pretty regularly.

COATES: Speaking of that talking point, this was Karen's earlier point as well, the idea of Governor DeSantis talking about that these banks failed, the two banks that failed over the weekend, Friday and Sunday, as a matter of having too much focus on diversity and inclusion.

The fact that this is not rhetorical, you can actually answer the question, but I am asking it rhetorically nonetheless, did diversity and inclusion have anything to do with why these banks failed?

KOLHATKAR: I've enjoyed watching them attempt to link these two things together, it is sort of comical. The idea that, you know, wokeness or diversity somehow lad to these banks collapse is completely nonsensical. These banks were run by capitalists. They were run by businessman who were trying to maximize their profits and who did not carefully analyze the risk in different parts of their company and think about what might happen when interest rates went up.

A very simple thing. It could have been avoided. It had absolutely nothing to do with any of their personal views about diversity or anything else for that matter.

COATES: Speaking of personal views, I want to go to you, Mona, on this. I want to remind the audience. You may have been saying there has been a lot of conversation happening over the past weekend about we know who is running for the republican side. At least one person. Maybe two or three at the moment.

But Biden is presumably running, right? He is presumably running. Again, he has not announced it yet, for another term. And the assumption would be, in modern American history, that the running mate would be obviously the incumbent vice president of the United States. And yet we are seeing (INAUDIBLE) conversation that is wondering if that indeed was the case.

And we have this brewing issue with Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is speaking about Vice President Kamala Harris several months ago. And there was this conversation that she had on a radio. She was asked the question of whether Vice President Harris would in fact be the running mate or should be the running mate yet again. I will remind you what she said, causing a lot of bruhaha. Listen to this.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): I really want to defer to what makes Biden comfortable on his team. I have known Kamala for a long time. I like Kamala. I knew her back when she was attorney general and I was still teaching. We worked on the housing crisis together. So, we go way back. But they have to be a team. My sense is that they are. I don't mean that by suggesting I think there are any problems.


COATES: What do you make of the statement? A lot of flak towards her. Apparently, a reporting is that she has since called the vice president twice to apologize and ghosted.

CHAREN: Yeah, line is busy.


Look --


-- there is a lot of feeling on the part of Democratic partisans that this is unfair to Kamala Harris, that she was given very difficult tasks by the Biden administration. And anyway, vice presidents never really shine. They say look at Mike Pence, what he accomplished and so on.

And yet, some of the stories are disturbing. Like "The New York Times" one where they went to Harris and they said, who should we talk to get good reports about you, and she gave them a series of names, and none of those people had anything good to say, which is not really what you want to hear.

On the other hand, because of the nature of our politics, even though she would be a drag on the ticket, there is absolutely no way that he could replace her. She is a Black female, first Black female vice president. If you are to dump her for somebody else, it wouldn't be another African-American, it would look terrible and it would hurt him. The only way that he could, you know, in theory, even have another running mate is if she voluntarily stepped back.

COATES: What should be dragged on the ticket?

MITCHELL: I think there are people who don't think they have been very critical of Vice President Harris as vice president. And some of that, I think, is just -- it is hard to be that second person, any vice president. What did Joe Biden do when he was vice president for eight years? People cannot give us a whole long list.

That being said, I think you're right. It's untenable to replace her. I also think there's also extra attention on Vice President Harris because our president is up in age.

And so, the possibility that he could get sick, he could fall like Mitch McConnell had a fall, anything could happen, and that she would need to step in is more of a reality than I think most vice presidents have had to face that real scrutiny of, do we want this person to run the nation? I think that adds to what Vice President Harris is bearing in that role.


FINNEY: Yeah. Obviously, I am a supporter of the vice president. I think she has done an excellent job. Most of these stories have not actually focused on the work. They have focused, as we tend to see with women, focused on what she is wearing or what she said or how she said it. We see that with women elected officials. There is 20 years of data on this.

But the other thing I would say, couple of things. Elizabeth Warren should have known better. She has tried to call twice. She also knows that there are a lot of women in the party who are not happy that she did not have the answer ready to go in that question.

Number two, what I would say is we always hear these stories about this time. We have it around Mike Pence, about Dick Cheney, about Al Gore, about Joe Biden when he was vice president. There's always this conversation about should so and so change up the ticket.

I'm old enough to done polling in 2020 and saw that America actually likes them as a team. I think we should also remember that she is very popular with the democratic base of the party. That is what Biden will suffer, I think, if he tries to -- but they are running together. So --

COATES: Presumptively.


More ahead, everyone. When we come back, we will tell Obama's advice for 20 something Sasha and Malia, and what it is like to be, as he says, on the other side of parenting.


MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES (voice-over): I just tell my kids, as I was just saying, there's so many ways to be happy, there's so many ways to find joy in life, and you're just starting the journey."





COATES: Former first lady Michelle Obama is opening up now about her role as a mom and how it has been changing now that the two Obama daughters, Malia and Shasha, are out of the house and living together in Los Angeles.


OBAMA (voice-over): I'm on the other side of parenting. You know, I'm moving from mom-in-chief to advisor-in-chief. That's a lovely thing, to be able to watch my girls fly and have the relief that, okay, I think I didn't mess them up.



COATES: Back with me now are Karen Finney and Bob Cusack. We are joined also by CNN legal analyst Elliot Williams, and Tia Mitchell is also back with us now.

First of all, it's a refreshing to kind of get this inside the perspective and hear what was going through the minds of people who are all watching at this very moment in history, even now. But there's one that really stuck with me. I want to play it. She's talking about how she has evolved to the point where she doesn't greet her daughters with a critical eye. Listen to what she said.


OBAMA (voice-over): Sometimes, when our kids walk into the room, we greet them with what's called a critical eye. Like Malia came in and she was wrinkled. (LAUGHTER)

Whatever she had on was very wrinkly.


And she was actually coming to my hotel room to find the steamer. She walks in maybe the second time I saw her this morning, and I was like, you're wrinkly.


You're going to do something about this. And she said, yeah, mom, I'm going to. And then I thought I did it. You know, I greeted her instead of what I felt, which is sit on my lap, give me a kiss. I'm fixing things.


COATES: You know, part of me heard that and thought that must have been very taxing, to have been the first and be in that position, and to think about how the world was looking at your children all the time. We talk about how your parents will say, when you leave this house, you're representing your father and me, you're a reflection of how we are. And you're thinking what the weight must have been like in this moment. Did you see that?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I did. And just think of how remarkable it is that by every measure, her children are functional human beings now. Think about being in that crucible not just -- you know, it's not like Amy Carter, who is older, or the Bush daughters. Actually, they are fairly young as well.


But, you know, my point, though, these were children who grew up under that kind of eye. And the -- it could've ended much differently. Let's put it that way.

FINNEY: I'm going to say it's always a challenge. When I worked in the Clinton administration, Hillary Clinton actually had a conversation with Jacque Kennedy Onassis to ask for advice about, how do you help your children when they're in an environment like this where you have to be able to make some mistakes, that's part of being a kid, but understanding that the cost of that -- and this was in the 90s. I mean, think about where technology is with the Obama daughters.

COATES: Social media in and of itself.

FINNEY: Exactly. So, any mistake you make, it's on the world stage. And so, how do you find that balance in giving them the ability to fly, as she said, but protecting them a little bit?

COATES: You think about it as a parent and just the way that you imagine this going, especially in the political space. First lady in particular, right? The role of a first lady has changed over time. Right? It's not just the shrinking violet for every (INAUDIBLE) and thinking about sitting there and looking like an accessory to the person who's really in charge of things.

I don't know if that was ever really true, but that's how the perception was. And having her now really come out more and more and talk about and shine, but also talk about her feelings on the issue as a former first lady, her views on what it was like to leave the White House during the Trump inauguration.

In fact, she was asked -- I think it was Hoda Kotb who was asking her the question. Listen to what she had to say about how she quieted herself in the White House. Listen to this.


OBAMA: It was no accident that the administration was scandal free. There was no accident that --


-- that our children had to shop up right in the world. They carried a burden of making sure they weren't messy, because it wouldn't have been laughed off. It wouldn't have been just, oh, it's youthful, whatever. It would've been some bigger statement about the soul of black folks.


So, we didn't underestimate that. But that -- that weight is exhausting when your carrying that.


COATES: What do you see is the impact of her being so candid?

CUSACK: I think this is why her numbers are so good and there is still speculation she might run for president if Biden does not. She's very real. You look -- you look at comedians or movies or TV shows, you want to relate. I mean, I have a daughter in college. I have another one going to college next year. And that's real.

And that's what I think more politicians need to do. Connect on real life situations. And she opens up, and she was very -- they were understandably very protective of the kids, as far as like the press and kind of thing. Most of the press, I thought, was pretty good. You know, we're hands off with that. And I think that also helped their development.

But without a doubt, she was watching them like a hawk, and now I know she's advising them from afar, but she was advising them very intensely in the White House.

COATES: Are we going to see more about -- remember reports about, you know, different spouses who are almost propelling and catapulting their spouse who's running for office into a different light, to shape the narrative or the impression people have of that person, to make them maybe seem more relatable, make them feel -- have it conveyed in a real way.

Are we going to be seeing more -- knowing that she's so open and transparent now, are we going to be seeing this more as a political trend? Is it helpful?

MITCHELL: I think we have to remember, she's being transparent now. She wasn't during those eight years that her husband was president of the United States. She, you know, played the role as she said. You know, understanding the weight of their position as the first Black first family.

But now, she's taking those shackles often, allowing herself to be more transparent about a lot of things, about marriage and the struggles they've had there, which she would never have felt comfortable talking about their marriage issues when Barack Obama was an active politician, and the same now that she's talking about parenting and so many things.

So, I mean, I think it's refreshing. But I think when you're on that big stage, when you're talking about national politics particularly, most politicians aren't going to feel free to be this transparent because of the risks.

Any time the Obamas talked about race, it was made a thing. Remember the beer summit? So, a lot of things she's saying now might have been a scandal if she had said them when they were still in the White House. But she's a little bit free now.

COATES: Fascinating to think about that. Well, we'll see who is not or maybe is (INAUDIBLE) free going forward. Everyone, stay with me. We will talk about text messages and emails that were freely sent between some Fox News hosts.


Well, will those actually be a part of evidence in next month's trial? We'll talk about it, next.


COATES: Texts and emails revealing the true opinions of some Fox News hosts that the 2020 election was, in fact, not stolen because it was fair and free despite, by the way, publicly pushing those lies on the airwaves.

Well, they are all pretty riveting to read. You've probably been watching and combing through them, figuring out who said what, when, and what they talked about.


And they've been released as part of Dominion Voting Systems' $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox. But the real question is, are they admissible? Will they be admissible in a court of law?

My panel is back with me. Elliot, listen, all these messages like Carlson says he hates Trump passionately, everyone has picked up on that. There is a whole host of them where people go, wow, (INAUDIBLE) about this person. But this is a defamation lawsuit, which has its own standards.


COATES: Will this be admissible for relevance there?

WILLIAMS: Not everything will. Many will. Some will not think of these text messages into buckets. Things that are bad for Fox as a news organization may be embarrassing for an entity that sort of purports to tell the truth. And legally bad text messages or legally bad information, you know, something that -- something like, Tucker Carlson hates Donald Trump, look, it's sensational, it's sexy, whatever it is.

But at the end of the day, it's hard to see how that's going to play to the question of number one, dead Fox News, however you define that, knowingly published false information that damaged Dominion's bottom line. And a judge is just going to have to look at each individual text message and see if the legal term is relevant to the case. Hence, a lot of those messages, even no matter how exciting they are, they are just not -- quote, unquote -- "relevant."

COATES: Relevant to prove the elements are required for defamation law.

WILLIAMS: Or damages as well. So, some of the things that may not go straight to defamation may actually play into the damages question, how much if Fox has to pay and how much they should pay.

COATES: There are messages as well, by the way, about how Lou Dobbs, producer from November back in 2020, Lou Fawcett saying, Sidney Powell's lawsuit was complete BS, privately dismissing election conspiracies that were promoted on air. Is that more significant than say, how I feel about somebody?

WILLIAMS: Absolutely because, again, you are going to have to broadly look at the question of knowledge, what did producers know, and if they're looking away and saying that this person's crazy, but putting her on air and presenting the information she says as truth without correcting it. Like if you were as the host of a program --

COATES: For example --


I'm literally sitting right here.


WILLIAMS: Wait until you hear the next sentence. And were to accuse someone of being a sex offender or something like that, or accuse someone of committing a crime, the network would responsibly have to come in and correct you after that. Right? And if you're putting it forward as information without some kind of check on it, that might actually play in the Sidney Powell stuff.

COATES: So, that's the legal aspect of it. That's obviously extraordinarily important. But how does this play politically? How does this play in terms of not just the ratings but the idea of how they are evaluated in the course of a pre-election year at this point? What do you think?

MITCHELL: I think it plays into the question about what is Fox News's true intention? Was it always to give its viewers an accurate perspective of what was going on or was it to play into conspiracy that fed into the political mindset of its leaders or perhaps what they felt the viewers wanted to hear?

So, not necessarily about the truth or accuracy, but more about feeding into a very specific narrative. And I think that is really the PR problem that Fox News is facing. These text messages and other evidence seem to indicate that they weren't always interested in reporting the news.

And we have to remember that for Dominion, specifically, they were very aggressive from a PR standpoint after the 2020 election when -- all this misinformation about their voting machines. So, they were very aggressive in saying, hey, let me fact-check you, let me send you some sheets and some information so you could have accurate information. And what they're saying is Fox just declined, just refused to give that perspective despite having the truthful information.

COATES: Will it matter?

CUSACK: I think it matters. I mean, this is a key moment for Fox. There's no doubt about. I think the remarkable thing is, you know, "The Hill" is a for profit company like other journalism companies, but the business and the journalism was clashing, especially on the call about Arizona, which they were right on.

But they were so upset by the fact that ratings went down from that. I mean, it is just another reminder, too. Be careful what you email. Be careful what you text because I think some of these are remarkable.

Now, the First Amendment, the court usually differed on First Amendment. But, at the same time, Fox was giving a lot of airtime and not pushing back somewhere, but not all, and that's what the court has to decide.

COATES: What's your thought?

FINNEY: I think it is also a reminder of just that conservative news bubble, particularly given the closeness of Trump administration officials with hosts, people on the business side, back and forth. And that we saw, the way we saw talking points move from the administration across Trump, across Fox, then to maybe Sean Hannity's radio show.

[23:35:03] That is part of how that conservative news bubble works in keeping people sort of in this myth cycle of misinformation. And I think it shows that Fox is a willing participant in that.

COATES: We are weeks away from this trial happening in April. It's the $1.6 billion defamation suit. We're going to stick with this, everyone.

Up next, a real-world case in post-Roe America. No longer a theoretical one. A man filing a wrongful death suit against friends of his ex-wife, accusing them of helping her to obtain abortion pills.




COATES: A Texas man is suing his ex-wife's friends for a wrongful death after they allegedly helped her to obtain abortion pills. It's one of the first major test of loss cracking down on abortion ever since Roe v. Wade was overturned.

CNN's Whitney Wild has more on the lawsuit. Whitney?

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Laura, hear the details of this case. This man, Marcus Silva, says these three women helped his then wife obtain abortion medication to induce an abortion back in July of 2022. That was after Texas Senate Bill 8 is passed. That bill is an effective ban on abortion after six weeks.

So, here's a direct quote from this lawsuit in which he says, under the law of Texas, a person who assists a pregnant woman in obtaining a self-managed abortion has committed the crime of murder and can be sued for wrongful death.

In addition to these three women that he's bringing this lawsuit against, this man says that he intends to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the abortion medication. And all these hinges on the details of Texas Senate Bill 8.

Here's how this law is set up. Basically, what it does is make anybody liable who performs or induces an abortion in violation of this law, knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion, intends to engage in the conduct described by Senate Bill 8.

And notably, the damages here could be significant because there's a floor for the damages. They have to be at least $10,000. This man is seeking damages of more than $1 million. And basically, what he's doing is looking at everybody along the timeline here from manufacturer to the women who helped -- he says helped his wife actually undergo this abortion. He says that they are all similarly liable here under the Texas law.

This is certainly a case to watch because again, it will solidify under the Texas law, at least, how many people and the type of people, really, this web of liability, the type of people who would be civilly liable for an abortion in Texas, Laura.

COATES: Whitney Wild, thank you so much. Everyone back with the panel right now. Elliot, it's no longer theoretical. This is one of the concerns that people had about this prospective legislation. It's now in effect. Is it a good case?

WILLIAMS: There's a lot of things going on here, Laura. A couple things starting with the fact that it's not just a lawsuit because someone had an abortion, it's a wrongful death lawsuit. He cites the homicide (INAUDIBLE), which I think goes beyond at least the state of intent of SB 8, which was just about abortions. They're bringing in this notion of homicide or murder or, you know, fetal life or whatever it might be, which -- that's a broader legal strategy far beyond this one case.

The other thing is that the attorney bringing the case is the former state, I believe, solicitor general, who helped craft the legal strategy behind it. This is not about two parties or three parties in Texas. This is a nationwide issue. They are trying to bring it beyond, I think, just go beyond Texas.

FINNEY: SB 8 was sort of the canary in the coalmine because when we saw that the Supreme Court was not going to get involved, which is really vigilantism, I mean, that's the piece that this adds. It says, if you give someone a pill, if you drive someone to a hospital, you too can be criminally liable.

And this is, again, part of the parade of horrors that many of us talked about when the decision came down in terms of the kinds of cases we are going to see, the kinds of horrible choices women are going to be faced with, the danger to women's lives when there's a whole story behind why this woman felt that she needed to have an abortion that we don't even know.

And as we've learned by the other case in Texas, those five women, horrendous stories. Women whose lives were in danger. This issue is not going away. Reproductive freedom is going to be a hot issue in 2024 because we're seeing a number of other states that have these measures coming online, as we did last year, and it's going to continue to be top of mind for the women.

COATES: The fact that midterms were referred to in part as (INAUDIBLE) with everything that was going on. It is also, I want to note, the woman who actually -- was the one who have the medication abortion cannot be sued under this particular law or prosecuted in the same respect. In fact, others who are assisting in some means or some way in general, that's the concern.

This is, again, no longer a hypothetical. We go from the campaign trail (INAUDIBLE). This could happen and sounding the alarm to this is actually happening. What is the impact going to be? Is Texas really, in many respects, the litmus test for how other states been operated?

CUSACK: That's right. And we're seeing it, whether it's court challenges or legislation. In Florida alone, there is a bill to lower thresholds to six weeks. So, this is going to continue, as Karen said.


And listen, the Republicans running for president, they are going to -- they may even go further. They may say, well, the women should be liable, you know, because they're courting the base. This is going to be a huge issue. It was in 2022. Next year, it is going to be a big issue.

COATES: (INAUDIBLE) the base, though, they got to then go to a general. And the polling says otherwise in views for abortion.

MITCHELL: Right. I mean, we have to say Senate Bill 8 of Texas is working the way it was intended. And so, in a case like this in Texas, it might play well for republican primary, for that far-right ultraconservative base. And it's probably going to be fine in a solid red state like Texas.

But is this the conversation Republicans want us to be having as a nation when it comes to abortion? Again, we're talking about a friend being sued who said, if you need to come to my house to have a place to take the medication and I'll take care of you, now she's being sued and charged with homicide.

That's what the conversation is going to be about and it's not going to play well nationally because we saw what happened in the midterms. We saw how abortion played out nationally. So, it's not necessarily winning in places where this kind of thing is a toss-up. But, you know, in places where Republicans are in control, this is the conversation they have been forcing. They want to have it.

COATES: Well, we'll see if it actually will happen in the long run. Again, this is an active case right now. And as Elliot mentioned, the man representing the husband is the former Texas solicitor general who was an architect of this bill legislation. So, we'll see what happens next.

A murder case is casting a shadow over the seasons for the Alabama men's basketball team. This as March Madness begins. You've probably seen these headlines. I'll tell you what it's all about, next.




COATES: A high-profile murder case is casting a cloud over Alabama Crimson Tide as March Madness is beginning. The team is facing questions after its star player, Brandon Miller, was linked in court due to the fatal shooting of 23-year-old Jamea Harris.

Former Alabama player Darius Miles has been arrested and charged in the case for allegedly aiding and abetting the shooting. Another man, Michael Davis, has been charged with actually firing the fatal shot. Law enforcement officers testified that Miles texted Brandon Miller to bring Miles's gun to the scene where the shooting happened. Miller is not charged with any crime and continues to play for the Crimson Tide.

Joining me now, CNN sports analyst Christine Brennan. I'm glad you're here because this is a complex case. I mean, Miller, as I mentioned, has not been charged, he is not considered a suspect, and has been a cooperating witness to police. Walk us through what we know.

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: This is -- this is really a tough one because we are at the height of what should be one of the greatest times for sports of the year, March Madness, men's and women's basketball tournament, Laura. And instead, we're talking about the murder, as you mentioned, of Jamea Harris and the involvement of the Alabama men's basketball players.

What we know from the police is that Brandon Miller was asked to bring that gun back to his body, he did do that, and that gun ended up being the murder weapon, according to police, in the killing of this young --

COATES: A legal weapon, legally-owned?

BRENNAN: Exactly.


BRENNAN: Exactly. The lawyer for Brandon Miller says that he did not know what he was bringing back and he never touched the gun and -- I guess he knew it was -- just happened to be there.

It gets really messy because Alabama's basketball staff knew, on January 14th, right at that time, that Miller, who is one of the best players in the country, if not the best player in the country, a freshman, 6'9", going to begin MBA lottery pick, obviously a game- changing kind of player, they knew that he had been at the scene. It was not until February 21st that the rest of the nation found out.

So, they kept that secret, he kept playing, they never said word. When we finally found out obviously that he was involved, the police said yes, he had been at the scene and brought the gun back, that he was not arrested, at that moment, it became a huge story in the sports world and everyone was asking, why aren't you suspending him, why is he still playing.

The coach said, well, wrong spot, wrong time. A terrible thing to say. You know we cannot control these guys all the time. He had to apologize for that. So, damage control, mistakes, missteps, a huge controversy right in the midst of one of the best times in sports in the year and --

COATES: And her family. I mean, angered, of course. She has lost her life, right?

BRENNAN: Uh-hmm. COATES: There have been many people -- when he is on the court or when Alabama is going to be playing, let alone for March madness, there's been outrage from some fans. They've been chanting that he should not be there.

BRENNAN: Lock him up.

COATES: Right, lock him up. It is happening.

BRENNAN: And fans will do that. Right? I mean, fans will chant anything at anyone. We know that from student sections all over the country. I think it is appalling that he is playing. I understand that he has not been charged with something.

But here is the thing. Kids have been suspended from teams and from fraternities and sororities for bad grades, for missing classes, for being late, for insubordination, for looking at your coach the wrong way, sideways, being disagreeable, and you are not suspending him for this? Why don't you, if you're the Alabama men's basketball team, just say it? We want to win, we don't care.

COATES: Suspend him for what, Christine?

BRENNAN: Suspend him -- just indefinitely suspend him because he was at the scene of a murder. I mean, he represents Alabama men's basketball.


You can, as the university, make decisions and say, you know what, this is unacceptable, you should've been there, what are you doing?

COATES: Even if he had just been a bystander who was at the scene of a crime?

BRENNAN: Well, he did bring the gun.

COATES: I know this incident is more than that, but the idea of -- and there have been calls for him to be suspended. Would've been satisfactory for people if they had come out immediately, suspended him for a week or two before, and then still allowed him to play later on? I expect the same reaction.

BRENNAN: Well, that is a great point because at least there would've been punishment. And frankly, that would probably been better off PR wise, whether -- again, we are thinking of this poor woman who is dead and her family. But, if you look at the PR part of it or the sports part of it, if you suspend him in February, then guess what, you probably aren't getting asked these questions at this particular time.

COATES: Christine Brennan, thank you for your insight today.

BRENNAN: Thank you.

COATES: A lot about this. It's a complex one, everyone. And a quick program we have to tell you about, tune in tomorrow night for CNN Primetime. "Inside the Madness." The new NCAA president, Charlie Baker, joins Chris Wallace. Can the former Massachusetts governor transform basketball? Well, that's tomorrow night at 9:00 Eastern.

Everyone, thank you for watching. Our coverage continues.