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CNN Tonight

Giuliani Charged Under Same Law He Pioneered; Trump Intensifies Baseless Attacks On D.A. Fani Willis; Conservative: Trump Likelier To Debate After Indictment; Is "X" Purposely Slowing Access To Sites That Musk Hates?; Laura Coates Interviews Morgan Freeman. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired August 15, 2023 - 23:00   ET



ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And that's it for me on "CNN Primetime." "CNN Tonight" with Laura Coates starts right now. Take it away, Laura.

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: So nice to see you, Abby Phillip. Always a great show. And good evening, everyone. I'm Laura Coates.

And tonight, the explosive fourth indictment of Donald Trump and 18 of his allies in Georgia is moving pretty fast, and they just have days to turn themselves in. It's coming up next Friday.

We've got a great lineup of smart and thoughtful voices: Jamil Jaffer, Kara Swisher, Matt Lewis, Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming, Daniel Dale, and my interview with the one and only Morgan Freeman.

But first, an ironic twist, everyone. Before 9/11 and, of course, before becoming Trump's wingman, a man by the name of Rudy Giuliani made his name for putting mobsters behind bars. He did so, I might add, using the very same laws that are being used against him now.

Two decades ago, he actually wrote in his book on leadership, and I'm quoting here, "I dreamed up the tactic of using the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act to prosecute the Mafia leadership" -- unquote -- otherwise known as RICO for those following along.

Now at the time, the law actually was relatively new. But Giuliani, well, he popularized it, making it the model for state and federal prosecutors for decades to come when it comes to large groups attempting a type of conspiracy, including, I might add, Fani Willis. The Fulton County D.A. is now charging Rudy Giuliani with several crimes for his efforts to allegedly overturn the election, including racketeering.

Now, the RICO law, something that he has -- well, he has championed for years.


RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER NEW YORK MAYOR, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: The upper level people are not used to being convicted and they're certainly not used to being convicted under racketeering.

Charging them with violations of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations statute, the RICO statute.

This is a new way of doing business and much more effective way to really crush them.

If you look at our other racketeering indictments, you will see that those are the same things that we do in all of these cases.

I think the two of them together would make an excellent RICO case, racketeering case, like the cases I used to bring not only against the mafia but also against bowski (ph).

The Clinton Foundation is a fraud. The Clinton Foundation to me is a racketeering enterprise. And the State Department was a pay for play organization.

Then I put on top of it a racketeering enterprise, the Clinton Foundation.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Wow.

GIULIANI: Yeah, Clinton Incorporated racketeering enterprise.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Oh.

GIULIANI: If she had an Italian name -- they had been -- if they had an Italian name, they had been prosecuted already.

If I were back in my old job as U.S. attorney, I would probably indict the Clinton Foundation as a racketeering enterprise.


COATES: I know you're thinking, all right, Laura, but those are references from years ago. I mean, there's no way that Rudy Giuliani is still touting RICO, concerning, of course, what he is going through right now. Right?


GIULIANI: Not if they do what I recommended four years ago and could easily do for them, which is bring a racketeering case. The statute of limitations hasn't run in a racketeering case. I can get him all in. And Hunter Biden gives us the classical definition of a racketeering case.


COATES: That did say August 1st on the upper right part. You saw that, right? Well, tonight, CNN is reporting that Giuliani is now struggling to keep up with his legal bills, staring down hundreds of thousands of dollars and many losses related to his work for Trump even after the election. And today, he is defending himself by referencing the very work we just talked about, the work against gangsters. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GIULIANI: I'm the same Rudy Giuliani that went after the mafia. I haven't changed one bit. The country has become fascist and communist. I haven't.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Yeah.

GIULIANI: I'm the same Rudy Giuliani, the same quest for justice. Gosh almighty, if Donald Trump committed a crime, love him though I do, I'd put him in jail.


COATES: Well, let's get to the news tonight. Former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who is also charged, is now trying to move his case to federal court.

I want to bring in Jamil Jaffer, a former associate White House counsel to President George W. Bush and founder and executive director of the National Security Institute at George Mason University.

Jamil, you and I have been talking about, well, frankly, a lot of these matters for quite some time. This was expected to have this now fourth indictment. It's coming out of Georgia.

One of the big issues, of course, is that the attorney, Fani Willis, the prosecutor, has said, look, 19 people, no problem, I can do it all in one trial, and I'm going to have a trial date set within six months. A lot of people's ears perked up and said, wow, what is the moon like on your planet?


JAMIL JAFFER, FORMER ASSOCIATE WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL TO GEORGE W. BUSH: Yeah, I mean, look, this is going to be a tough case for her to pursue with all these defendants. They're all going to try and sever under Georgia law. Some are going to try to move the case to federal court.

There's going to be a series of arguments about the very acts that she charges, 161 acts in the RICO count alone. Some of them, you know, fairly early in the process of the day after the election, right? The president making speeches publicly, tweeting stuff out on Twitter.

You know, a lot of these things are going to be debated about whether this is free speech, right? The president can debate whether or not, you know, there was -- there was fraud in the election, right?

I mean, these are -- this is a -- this is a hard case to bring. There are a lot of really legit facts that she cites in her indictment. You know, the things involving the call with Raffensperger that we all heard about, that we've all heard now.

COATES: Eleven thousand, seven hundred and eighty votes won. Yes.

JAFFER: Find those votes. COATES: Right.

JAFFER: Which some, by the way, on Twitter are saying, well, find meant find real votes, right, not find fake votes. I mean, that's kind of ridiculous, right? Find meant discover, create, do whatever you need to do to help me win this election.

We all know and nobody can listen to what -- what the president said, the former president said, without knowing what he was talking about. Nobody can be -- nobody is confused about what he was asking Raffensperger to do there.

COATES: I don't know. Kind of has reminiscence of (INAUDIBLE) is, right? It has that same -- that lawyers' hands are all over this.

But speaking of Mark Meadows, in particular, this is an issue people are really leaning in to. He's trying to remove the federal court, which essentially would mean it would stay in Georgia, by the way, but would move to the Northern District of Georgia.

JAFFER: Right.

COATES: Maybe more conservative than say the Fulton County demographics that we know. The whole purpose of that being, he's saying, look, if you're charging me based on things that I did while I was the chief of staff --

JAFFER: Right.

COATES: -- that's under the color of law, my title. And so, I get to remove these things. Was that bode well for you? What do you think?

JAFFER: I mean, look, this is an interesting argument. I'm not sure how it goes for him. The statute does say in his official or individual capacity, but it has to be relating to his office and the responsibilities of his office.

This is about a political debate that was going to whether his boss would stay in office, right? Not clear. This is under the color of that authority. It's a debatable proposition at the same time, right? Some of these things were taking place in Congress. It's hard to know whether that's going to be a credible case you can bring.

Another sort of outside, you know, claim that he might bring, at least the president might bring, is, look, I have civil rights. I can't get a fair trial on my rights under law in state court in Georgia. I need to remove to the federal court as well. We'll see if Donald Trump makes those arguments as well. Hard argument to make, but one that he might put out there as well.

COATES: I mean, he's got maybe time, nothing but time and opportunity to actually get it done.


COATES: This is now the fourth. I'm sure he'll try a whole host sorts of defenses.

I want to turn now to what he has been saying and maybe what his thumbs have been typing on things like Truth Social and beyond, because there are some statements that he is making right now as well. One is that he is promising that he is going to hold a press conference. Imagine that. And he's saying that he's going to provide irrefutable proof of election fraud in Georgia.

Are you a little stunned, A, that he's going to have this press conference? Probably not. But the idea of the irrefutable proof of election fraud in Georgia, why are we just now hearing about this proof, one, and two, are you surprised he's sticking with this particular path given the new indictment?

JAFFER: You know, look, I mean, he has said that there's fraud in Georgia for three years. We haven't seen any facts that support that. We've seen repeatedly Republican officials not just in Georgia but in other states saying, look, I voted for Donald Trump, I supported Donald Trump, I would prefer he was the president of the United States, but there was no fraud in our states. We've seen that in Georgia. We've seen it in the state of Washington. We've seen that everywhere.

COATES: You know, also, look at this. We're talking about the Georgia 2020 election, right? You've got people like Brian Kemp, the governor, and among others, which is interesting to Georgia because we're not talking about the talking point of Democrats who are trying to undermine Donald Trump. Raffensperger, Geoff Duncan, obviously Brian Kemp, all Republicans and conservative ones at that, Gabriel Spurling (ph) as well.

Look at this. He is coming out to suggest that, look, this was not a stolen election by any stretch of the imagination. I mean, look at these numbers. You've got three separate ballot counts that actually confirmed Biden's victory. He won by -- there's that magic number. That's why Trump wanted the 11,780. And also, the request to be made. I mean, the size of the lead here is significant in these key areas.

What does this tell you about, the fact that you've got these data points and you got this continuous statement?

JAFFER: Look, I mean, the president is going to continue to assert that he won the election, that he should be in office today, and that Georgia was part of that. He has made that point consistently. He hasn't deviated from it.

For him to deviate from it now just because charges have been brought wouldn't be consistent with where he has been or where he is going down the road. He's going to argue through the 2024 elections that he should have been in office for the last four years.

COATES: Let's talk about this document, because if you remember yesterday, first of all, we've all been anticipating this particular indictment, but then all of a sudden, something was posted on the docket.


Everyone wondered where sort of heads would roll. There was the question of Fani Willis about, wait a second, something was posted all of a sudden, and then it was taken down, kind of a yo-yo, take it and give it back, take it away again, and then she had to answer questions. She said, I'm not going to speculate. It's not to be a clerk, and she was not one.

We're now learning information about this very thing, Jamil, that apparently, they did some sort of a test run to figure out how you're going to post this. You're shaking your head because many people were as well going, how about you just post the test document? There's the actual word "test" on it. It has legs though, and people are trying to suggest that this was a foregone conclusion, that it was always in the cards, it wasn't a fair process. What do you say?

JAFFER: I mean, look, everyone knew these charges were coming, right? We've been talking about this for months, right? That we knew the case was being presented to the grand jury. Fani Willis herself said that, right? So, there's no question this was coming. You know, should they have done a better job? Should they have posted this the right way? Should they have done a test thing in a better manner? Of course. Right?

At the end of the day, the reality is the grand jury voted for this indictment. They're behind it. That's the facts on the ground regardless of whether they tried to post it or not a day earlier. There's no conspiracy here about the grand jury. Grand jury brought the charges. They voted for it. That's the process in the state of Georgia.

COATES: I mean, it was earlier that day. It wasn't even a time beforehand. So, of course, the fact that, you know, if you're looking for -- they say if you're looking for a conspiracy theory, you might just find one. But we'll see what happens.

Thanks, Jamil Jaffer. So nice to see you. Thank you so much.

Up next, everyone, Donald Trump is intensifying his attacks on, well, you guessed it, Fani Willis. Daniel Dale will be here to fact check some of the claims that he is now raising.

Plus, now that Trump and his allies have what? A mere 10 days to surrender, surrender meaning go to the courthouse and tell them that you're there, hear what to expect when they're actually arrested.

And one conservative says that the indictment makes it likelier that Trump will actually attend next week's debate. That's coming Wednesday in Milwaukee. We'll talk about it next.



COATES: Well, it's only a Tuesday night and there are already wild accusations from sex to murder. Donald Trump is intensifying his attacks on Fulton County D.A Fani Willis.

Joining me now for a fact check is CNN senior reporter Daniel Dale. Daniel, I'm so glad that you're here right now. We're hearing a lot about this woman and about her as a prosecutor. A lot of it coming from Donald Trump. But I'm curious as to what is true and what is fact and fiction. I think I have a sense of what is what.

But one of the things that Trump is saying is that Willis should stop spending so much time focusing on, I guess, him, and -- this is a quote -- "should instead focus on the record number of murders in Atlanta."

So, tell me, how do the statistics in Atlanta actually match up to the claim?

DANIEL DALE, CNN SENIOR REPORTER: So, this is one of the many cases where Trump could make a factual point if he just stuck to the actual facts, but instead exaggerates himself into falseness. So, he could have accurately said Atlanta, like much of the country, has seen a murder spike during the pandemic between 2020 and 2022. He could have said that Atlanta's 2022 murder number, which was 170 homicides, was the highest since 1996.

But it is not a record. In fact, according to statistics that a consultant named Jeff Asher provided to me, it is only the 23rd highest homicide number for Atlanta since 1960. It's like 35th if you do per capita numbers. So, no, not even close to a record. It's about a hundred lower than the record said in 1973.

And I'll make another point. The Trump campaign released an attack ad attacking Willis and other prosecutors for prosecuting Trump. And it included a quote in big text. It said that so far this year, Atlanta has nearly 60% more murders. So, you see that and think, oh, that's terrible. This year must be bad.

COATES: Yeah, of course.

DALE: But if you look at the small faded print the ad doesn't highlight, it shows that this year is actually 2021. That's when there was the giant spike. If you look at the numbers so far, this actual year, 2023, it's about a 25% decline year over year compared to 2022.

COATES: It is always a little bit odd, too, to talk about the prosecutor and decision about stats on the actual crimes that are committed, although their --

DALE: Right.

COATES: -- goal is in part to prosecute --

DALE: Yes.

COATES: -- and obviously to deter. But it's more of a criticism for maybe police chief or other policies involved. You're saying nonetheless. Also, in that same post, but wait, there's more, as they say, because he went on, the thumbs were busy, former president also accused Willis of -- and this one is very salacious.

DALE: It's bananas.

COATES: It's -- okay, that's a better word to use.


It's -- "having an affair with a gang member of a group that she is prosecuting" -- unquote. Is there anything to that?

DALE: There is not, and it's bonkers. I'll walk people through it because it's confusing. So, there is a rapper, people may or may not know him, YSL Mondo. Now, he is part of a hip-hop collective whose other members, Willis is prosecuting, alleging that collective is also a criminal street gang.

Now, YSL Mondo gave an interview to Rolling Stone magazine in January when he said -- basically like fun fact -- in 2019, when Fani Willis was a defense lawyer, she actually represented me. He said, we had a cool relationship. We had like auntie to nephew, mother to son-type talks. She was a great lawyer. So, no hint of an affair.

Somehow, the Trump campaign in that attack ad twisted that into Fani Willis is hiding a relationship with a gang member that -- a member of a gang that she was prosecuting, even though she didn't hide it. She confirmed to Rolling Stone, like, yeah, I represented him when I used to be a defense lawyer.

And then somehow Trump went further than that and took the hiding relationship thing, turned it into hiding some sort of affair, like a sexual intimate relationship. There was no hint anywhere in that Rolling Stone article of an affair. No hint anywhere. He has provided zero evidence because it appears there is no evidence at all.

COATES: But it's a talking point nonetheless.

DALE: Yeah.

COATES: Finally, there's also Trump attacking her for refusing to investigate the supposed theft of the 2020 election.


Walk me through that one.

DALE: I mean, you walked through it a moment ago.


DALE: Like, he might as well say she's refusing to investigate, like leprechauns or chemtrails or something, right? There's no theft to investigate. This was a free and fair election. He lost Georgia fair and square. The outcome was certified by Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, by Republican Governor Brian Kemp, who again affirmed today on Twitter the legitimacy of that election, and looked like he lost. You know, he claims he's coming forward with massive conclusive proof on Monday. He's had two and a half years to show such proof. Has not come even close.

COATES: Imagine that. Daniel Dale, so glad you're here to fact check all this. Unbelievable they were actually in this moment. Thank you so much, everyone.

For more on all of this, I want to bring in former DeKalb County district attorney Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming. I'm so glad that you are here tonight. Thank you so much for joining me.

First of all, I mean, there's a lot happening in Georgia, as you can imagine. I'm sure you know. A lot of focus on what's happening in Fulton County. You were with DeKalb County, obviously, but there's a lot of very big similarities.

I have to ask you, what was your impression when you saw this indictment roll out? I mean, we're talking over 90 pages. RICO is the big umbrella. It requires a bit of an explanation, people, of what that actually means. But what did you make of this indictment?

GWENDOLYN KEYES FLEMING, FORME DEKALB COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: So, I actually had mixed emotions. One, I'm very proud of Fani, the D.A., her team. They've worked hard for two years, and this is the culmination of those efforts. Running a special grand jury with 75 witnesses over the course of just under a year, that is a huge undertaking.

And now, you're finally at the point where we can actually see the fruit of those efforts. But at the same time, it's a sad day for our country to think about what this means in terms of history of indicting a former president and many of his colleagues.

So, I think now is the time to see what is going to be happening going forward. We've already seen some motions. You mentioned them earlier. We can expect to see many more from several members of the defense teams. But we'll also see a prosecutor's office that's ready for the moment.

COATES: You know, prosecutors are always going to be a little bit on edge in terms of their safety because the nature of the work that you do is going to bring you under not only scrutiny. But you're not necessarily the most popular person in the courthouse. Let's just say that. I've been a prosecutor myself.

Do you have concerns about her safety? Because we just talked about some of the targeted attacks against her. She has already had an increase for security as well. But now that this is going to be a televised proceeding, it has already been to some degree, she's had press conferences, she's not shying away from the camera, do you have concerns about her safety?

KEYES FLEMING: I think any prosecutor would in this sort of scenario. And certainly, I've not seen the attacks. She's shared them, obviously, with some of her staff. But the fact that she has reached out to the sheriffs for protection, she has notified the judges to have them keep their staff at home, she has kept many of her staff at home to limit the number of people that are in the courthouse, you can tell that she is taking these various attacks very seriously.

And I think all of Fulton County and law enforcement will continue to do so going forward. I just have to hope and pray that those efforts, those protective efforts work.

COATES: You know, the big story is the sheer number and scope of all the people who've been charged as well, in addition to the idea that this is now a fourth and historic indictment that includes a former president, but includes like 19 people total.

She said just yesterday in her press conference that she intends to try this case together, these defendants together, which automatically people go, wait, 19 defendants all at once, and whoever gets this case, as the judge, if they have hair today, they will not have hair later, they will have yanked it out with 19 different defense councils.

Do you think that's a realistic expectation given, of course, this is a RICO charge, which includes an enterprise as the whole predicate of everything? The idea of all together, can that be done here?

KEYES FLEMING: So, there's a couple things to think about. One, having a RICO indictment in a lot of ways makes it easier because, as you know, the prosecutor likes to tell the story. And so now you can tell the whole story with even those acts and little bits of information that help build upon some of the actual crimes that you would have to prove. And so, in the RICO statute, you have to prove two predicate acts. Out of all those that she's alleged, she only has to prove two to be successful.

I think the other thing that is important to keep in mind is she's an experienced prosecutor. She has handled these Rico cases before. She has handled multi-twelve more or 20 defending cases before.

So, while it may seem like 19 is a little untoward or might be a little difficult, we don't know that there will actually be 19 or even 18 at the time of the trial. As we go through, you know, there are going to be motions, some of those may cut in the defense favor, some may cut in her favor.


There's going to be discovery issues and sharing of discovery. Once the defense team sees what that evidence is, they may start to make decisions where they either want to make deals to lesser charges or take lesser sentences --

COATES: Or removed to federal court.

KEYES FLEMING: Or removed to federal court. There's a lot of possibilities here just during the normal course of a criminal trial that may naturally narrow that number down. But the key thing is she's ready to go. And I think that's the underlying theme that we all have to remember.

If she had said anything less, people would be questioning, is she certain about her case? Is she really ready? And she's not a prosecutor that's going to leave you questioning about her ability or her readiness to take this case to trial.

COATES: To be clear, she'll be questioned, nonetheless. That is just the nature of the game. We're looking forward to seeing what happens next, not in the sense of glee, but in the sense of with an eye towards history and what all of this means.

Thank you for being here today.

KEYES FLEMING: Sure. Thank you for having me.

COATES: Nice to see you. My next guest, everyone, says that these new charges make it likelier that Trump will attend next week's debate. It's coming in Milwaukee. We'll talk about that next.

Plus, we are now learning just what Special Counsel Jack Smith wanted to see when he subpoenaed Trump's Twitter account.



COATES: Well, tonight, as expected, the reaction to Donald Trump's now fourth -- yes, fourth indictment, from his 2024 rivals, the very ones who are trying to actually best him for an RNC nomination, well, it's best described as a mixed reaction. Here's a little taste.


SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): We see the legal system being weaponized against political opponents. That is un-American and unacceptable.

CHRIS CHRISTIE, FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: Even if you disagree with some of the criminal charges here, if you think they were an overreach or as I think on this one, they're unnecessary. It doesn't get rid of the underlying conduct, which is what we should be discussing in the campaign.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): And so, I think it's an example of this criminalization of politics. I don't think that this is something that's good for the country.


COATES: Well, the Florida governor, Governor Ron DeSantis, was also saying that these indictments have actually helped Trump in the polls. The question now is, will they lead him to the debate stage? It's coming up this coming Wednesday.

Well, my next guest has a new column arguing that it just got a whole lot likelier. Daily Beast columnist Matt Lewis joins me now. He's also the author of the new book, "Filthy Rich Politicians." Matt Lewis, nice to see you here this evening. Listen, I bet Fox News hopes you're right because they definitely would like him to be on that debate stage. I'm not so sure the other candidates on the one hand want him to be there, but they know it would be a bigger draw. He has been playing coy, to say the least, over his plans. Why do you think that this would be something that's more likely now?

MATT LEWIS, AUTHOR, COLUMNIST FOR THE DAILY BEAST: Well, first of all, you know, I -- you have serious people on who talk about, you know, law stuff and prosecutors. And as a political pundit, we are obsessed with things like debates. And so, this has been a big question for a long time. Will Donald Trump show up to the debate?

And it's hard to tell, right? Because he likes drama. He likes to kind of mislead people and maybe swoop in at the last moment. Strategically speaking, he might not want his adversaries to know if he's going to be there. That way they have to prep two different -- you know, we prep for Trump there, we prep for Trump not there.

So, I've always thought, look, Donald Trump loves attention, he craves attention, and he has this need to also demonstrate his toughness and his machismo. And so, for those reasons, I always thought it's probably at the last minute, Trump would decide to show up, if for no other reason for the attention.

I think this indictment probably puts it over the top and makes it much more likely that Trump shows up for a few reasons. One, although it doesn't look like his rivals are going to capitalize on it, you could imagine that this would be their moment. The first debate --

COATES: Well, wait, Matt, you're being too generous. It doesn't look like they're going to attack him because they're not going to attack him. I mean, that's why it looks like that.


They haven't so far.

LEWIS: Right. Again, I think this is -- Chris Christie very well might. Mike Pence might. But I think it would be -- I think Ron DeSantis is a big missed opportunity. But that's the story of his entire campaign, right? It is a missed opportunity.

But, you know, the interesting thing is Donald Trump, I think, realizes that the Mar-a-Lago case and now this Georgia case are serious and there's a precedent for it. I don't know if you remember, but way back in 2016, the Access Hollywood video dropped on October 7th.


LEWIS: And man, it was devastating. I think everyone, a lot of people, thought Trump might even drop out. But there was a debate two days later, he showed up at that debate and survived. I think he actually surprised everybody by going on the attack.

COATES: That's true.

LEWIS: And I think that that debate saved his candidacy. And I wonder if maybe there's some sort of magic that he sees, you know, getting back on stage and, you know, demonstrating once again that he's the man.


COATES: Well, you know, Matt, if I remember, at one time back, I would note just how much time has transpired and all the things that have occurred in this country to say way back in 2016, but it's a true statement that you just made, wasn't one Senator Lindsey Graham hoping to be on either the varsity or the JV stage that people were talking about? Well, I want you to listen for a moment about what that senator has had to say about the Georgia case.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): He's spending more money on lawyer fees than he is running for office. January the 6th, I was there. I saw it. He was impeached over it. The American people can decide whether they want him to be president or not. This should be decided at the ballot box, not in a bunch of liberal jurisdictions trying to put the man in jail.


COATES: Here's one of the issues people have with this entire talking point. On the one hand, you heard, look, this is not appropriate for the impeachment proceedings, it's right for the criminal case. No, it's not right for a criminal case. It's right for the voters.

But I remember that, in fact, the voters did decide, which is the crux of the entire issue. They decided that Biden won in the state of Georgia and Trump's actions are what is now getting him charged. He's got a total of 91, by the way, in four different cases. Do you buy Lindsey Graham's statement, the senator's statement, about these issues, about leave it to the voters?

LEWIS: It's such a circular argument, right? You know, Mitch McConnell saying, the legal world will take care of this. And now, people are saying, well, it was -- really, it should have been impeachment, you know?

And so, no matter what happens, somebody argues that it's somebody else's job to take Donald Trump out or to stop Donald Trump from stealing elections or whatnot.

I do think, you know, listen to Lindsey Graham there. I think there is an electability argument that could be made in this debate. You know, like Ron DeSantis could say, look, I think they're politicizing or criminalizing politics, I think that's wrong. But let's be honest, Donald Trump is now facing four indictments. He's not even going to be able to campaign next year.

So, I do think that there's a possibility that this could be used against Trump, especially if he doesn't show up to defend himself next week. So, I think that increases, the odds will be there.

COATES: Well, we shall see. We only have a couple days really until we see whether you're right or wrong. Matt Lewis, thank you so much.

LEWIS: Thank you.

COATES: Well, up next, Elon Musk says that he's a free speech champion, everyone. But is Twitter purposely slowing down access to sites that it's, well, billionaire owner then like? Kara Swisher joins me next.

Plus, Morgan Freeman joins me at the Pentagon in a riveting conversation that you do not want to miss.



COATES: Well, it's one of Elon Musk's favorite refrains, free speech. Free speech, you hear him say all the time. But today, something was weird for many of his users on "X" or as we're all old enough to recall when it was called Twitter.

Load times for links to several news outlets and rival platforms, well, they were noticeably slower, taking more time to load than others. Now, in tech speak, it's called being throttled. The sites impacted include "The New York Times," Facebook, Instagram, Threads, Bluesky, Substack, and Reuters.

So, I wonder, is "X" owner, Elon Musk, slowing down access to sites that he dislikes? The company did not respond to CNN when we asked for an explanation. But I want to talk about this now with Kara Swisher, host of "Pivot," and "On with Kara Swisher," who's now on with Laura Coates. Kara, nice to see you right now.

KARA SWISHER, PODCAST HOST: Hi. How are you doing?

COATES: I'm good. I wonder about this whole free speech discussion with Elon Musk because he is building "X" as a free speech platform. But if competitors and news sites are being throttled, as they say, you wonder, is the platform really that open?

SWISHER: Well, he also said he was going to do a cage mash in Rome with Mark Zuckerberg, and that wasn't true.


So, let's keep that in context, although he did send a series of creepy stalker tweets at him last night, I guess, the middle of the night. In any case, that's the context. I want to put it in. That it's free speech for he, but not for we. You know, whatever he wants. And he did buy the company.

What's ironic is that this was the thing that he complained about and many conservatives complained about, was throttling or shadow banning and all these different things, which really wasn't happening before except when people broke the rules of the platform, although they will continue to say it is so, but it is just not. There is no -- you know, there was no rigorous way of doing it.

This is what he is doing. He has decided who to favor and who not to favor, who to give money to and not to give money to. There is -- in every single aspect of this, it is whatever he wants. And it is his world, and we just live in it, I guess. And so, it is not a surprise that he would do that.

I think they have pulled it off. They have de-throttled certain of the news organizations. But maybe he is mad about, I don't know, some review of one of his cars or he didn't like some profile of him or someone making fun of the cage match or, you know, Substack is a competitor, Threads is a competitor. That's the kind of thing that he's doing. So, it's his world.

COATES: That famous line, it's good to be the king. And yet with all the criticism --

SWISHER: I guess.

COATES: -- and all this notion of what's happening or what might be happening, people may have slowed down using it. There have been other outlets and sites being used.


But people are still using "X," including yourself, including -- I still use it as well although I'm turning out the social media.

SWISHER: I only -- honestly, I only use it to make fun of Elon Musk. That's really my thing. I use my -- I use Threads for personal stuff or Instagram or other sites, and I don't use it for most things anymore, cut back rather drastically. It has really gotten -- I've had to turn off comments because of the vile things many people are now saying.

And so, it's not a useful platform to me in any way. I certainly read it, just like I read a lot of things, but it's certainly degraded as an experience. And the ads are just bizarre. I mean, I could have bought something to clean out my insides of my ears the other day. That was nice. But in general, it's the platform is degraded rather substantively.

And so, you know, I don't know. He could just do what he wants, and I don't think it's -- it's not getting bigger. It's getting worse. The money is less. It was never a good business. And now, now it's a worse business. But he's the richest man in the world. Sky and Tesla and his rocket company are doing rather well. So, he can afford to do this.

COATES: Well, I'm concerned about all the ads are actually getting right now, Kara, and the why. But I have to ask you this last question in the short time we have left.

SWISHER: Yeah. COATES: That is about the news that we are learning tonight, that the special counsel got a hold of Trump's DMs from Twitter. What do you think investigators would actually find in Trump's DMs? Who slide in them?

SWISHER: I don't know who slides into his DMs. But, I mean, what was interesting is that the judge in the case really chided Twitter for trying to delay it and then possibly alerting Trump to it. They wanted to keep that secret because it's evidence, right?

All kinds of things they were looking for. Who knows who was using it, when they used it. Probably around January 6th, there's a lot of -- when was it being used and who was accessing it and what communications, just like any other communications you'd use and when you're investigating a crime.

And so, Twitter apparently resisted or slow rolled it and then got a fine, a $350,000 fine. And the judge was pretty strongly saying that Elon was trying to favor Donald Trump in some of the transcripts released today.

COATES: Well, a judge thinking that maybe he can't be the king.

SWISHER: Uh-hmm. I guess not.

COATES: Kara Swisher, host of "Pivot," thank you so much. Always great to see you. Thanks.

SWISHER: Thanks, Laura. Thanks.

COATES: Up next, Hollywood legend Morgan Freeman on the original "Black Panthers: Heroes of World War II." My conversation with him at the Pentagon is next.


[23:51:53] COATES: Well, this Sunday, actor Morgan Freeman presents a documentary on the History Channel called the "761st Tank Battalion: The Original Black Panthers." It tells the story of the heroic men of the first Black Tank Battalion in World War II, the combat they faced in Europe, and the discrimination they faced back here in America.

I had a chance and the pleasure to sit down with Morgan Freeman at the Pentagon to talk about this documentary and why it was so special to him.


Tell me how this story came to your attention.

MORGAN FREEMAN, ACTOR: A guy, playwright, I think it was a screenwriter, came to us, revelations, with the idea. I never heard of the 761st. And then I started learning about them and how they did figure into the war to such an extent, to what extent that they did figure into the conquest of the Nazis in Europe. Why don't I know about them?

COATES: Oftentimes, history is being erased or it's being dismissed. People are saying --

FREEMAN: Rerouted.

COATES: Rerouted. That's a good way of thinking about it. It's rerouted, rerouted into the can, though, the dumpster oftentimes. And this really tells about a really instant and really significant intersection. The idea of this all Black battalion, not only being, you know, the only ones --

FREEMAN: Well, they had white commanders.

COATES: They had white commanders.

FREEMAN: Yeah. So, I mean, they were there. It's not like they just sat back and sit with these Black guys out there, with them for the most part, but it was an all-Black battalion.

COATES: And they were in combat in World War II.


COATES: They saw the combat.

FREEMAN: Yeah. They were fighting for 183 days, nonstop, pretty much.

COATES: Were they successful in battle? You mentioned, and the documentary goes into great detail, about their extraordinary significance and role that, although might not be known, surely is not understated. How did they perform?

FREEMAN: Patton was commanding the Third Army. And when they got there and they started to fight, he kept them moving forward. He kept them out front.


FREEMAN: Actually, in the front lines. They were the tip of the spear.

COATES: And it stands in such contrast for people to understand that what they endured, the 761st, their bravery and valor may have been regarded highly overseas in battle. But they came home, Morgan. And when they came home, there was a separate battle that they still had to fight. They were not treated with the dignity and respect of their white counterparts at all.


FREEMAN: You know, Black men who fought -- Black men and women have fought in every single conflagration that this country was ever in, starting with the revolution. Never got quite the recognition for that effort. Never.

COATES: You just had a chance to sit in a fireside chat with General Lloyd Austin, and he's historic in his own right.

FREEMAN: Oh, yeah. I was out on the second fireside chat. I was here some months ago. We were talking about the 761st and his own military experience, coming up through the ranks to be what he is. I remember asking him one time, do you ever think about the fact that you're Black? And he said, every day.

COATES: How does that strike you?

FREEMAN: The right thing to say.


COATES: Does it surprise you though that a man of that stature and rank would not be removed from the reality of race in America?

FREEMAN: You can't be removed from race in America. You cannot.

COATES: There might be some who will say, look, let's just teach about the glory of patriotism. Let's teach about the valor of our armed services collectively. Why focus singularly on a particular battalion and the fact that it was Black? Why is that part and should be part of our conversation about the history of even our military and our success?

FREEMAN: Because history just skipped over them. All of our stories, all of our heroes, people we make movies about, particularly the people we make movies about, the war stories and stuff, they leave the Black soldiers out. They have always left them out.

If it was a Black soldier, there is "Patton," for instance. The movie, "Patton." There was a Black soldier in there, but he was Patton's manservant. It -- no mention of the 761st anywhere in that movie. Didn't have to mention it. Just show me one in a tank.

COATES: There's a kind of death that takes place if you're forgotten in history.

FREEMAN: That's the worst death, I think. That is, to all of those people of color who died in all those wars, unsung, unheard of, they're dead, that's total annihilation, that's death. We're trying to resurrect here.


COATES: A huge thanks to Morgan Freeman for that, the pleasure of that conversation and the pleasure of having this documentary come to light. Be sure to check it out this coming Sunday.

Everyone, thank you so much for watching. Our coverage continues next.