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Panel Discusses Trump's Trials; Calendar Conflict: Trump's Trial Versus U.S. Political Calendar; Thirty Plus Million Americans Brace for Expected Category 3 Hurricane; America Celebrates 60th Anniversary Of March To Washington In Wake Of A Shooting; Olympian Dominique Dawes Speaks About Simone Biles's Record Win. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired August 28, 2023 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Can't hear that song without getting chills.
LAURA COATES, CNN HOST AND SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Oh, my God.
PHILLIP: Especially today. Especially in this week. Today, I should say, Laura, is also the anniversary of the killing of Emmett Till. It's a really heavy week. But also, when you hear that, those words are just timeless and we need it now.
COATES: It's so poignant. I mean, honestly, I'm a huge fan of Sam Cooke. I always have been, between "Twistin' the Night Away" all the way to the poignance of that.
COATES: But I always think about the Malcolm X movie with Spike Lee and there's that infamous scene when you have that sort of film cue that Spike Lee does and he's watching somebody move and that's the song that they're pulling him along to the streets as he's about to become assassinated. I think about all those different moments.
And you're right, not only was that the issue, Abby, tonight is also the day that Thurgood Marshall was sworn in as the Supreme Court justice. And for an icon --
PHILLIP: The echoes --
COATES: -- and role model like that, it's unbelievable.
PHILLIP: The echoes of history. Laura, have a great show. Thank you.
COATES: Thank you so much. We're going to talk more about all that later. So good evening, everyone. I am Laura Coates. And look, there is -- frankly, there's one big headline after another tonight. We've got the tale of two courtrooms. One is in Fulton County, Georgia. The other, Washington, D.C. And here we are on the 60th anniversary of the march on Washington, learning new details about the latest racially- motivated shootings in Jacksonville.
We're going to step back tonight. We're going to examine all with Professor Michael Eric Dyson and get his take on the context.
Plus, we'll bring you the very latest in the tropical storm threatening the Florida coast as well. We're also going to talk with Olympic gold medalist, Dominique Dawes, about one Simone Biles, there she is right there, now the most decorated gymnast in history.
But first, I want to introduce two things. January 6th? Well, meet March the 4th, because that's the trial date now set by federal judge Tanya Chutkan right here in Washington, D.C.
Now, Trump's attempts to kick the can all the way down the road to 2026, everyone, will have failed today. The judge finding there was no reason they could not be ready within really a year, and neither his personal nor his professional life should impact that even if he is trying to be the head of a separate but co-equal branch of government.
Now, that date is interesting for a number of reasons, you, history buffs out there. Three hundred and twenty-four years ago, that same day was the day the Constitution went into effect. And now, it's the date when a former president of the United States will go on trial for trying to subvert that Constitution. It also happens to be the day before Super Tuesday, when about 12 states will vote on who should be the Republican nominee.
Going forward, it's also exactly about eight months from the general election, when were Trump is hoping to get a total of eight years in office if reelected. And that date, of course, is not set in stone. Trial dates can be pushed back. They can also get moved up, as you know. You know, one way to guarantee maybe it getting moved up, Trump's own conduct.
We've already heard the judge, Judge Chutkan, warning that if he tries to intimidate witnesses or try to poison the jury pool and the well, we might have an even earlier trial date. But either way, Trump will have to be off the campaign trail, sit at the trial that might take about eight weeks.
Here with me now in the studio, national security attorney, Bradley Moss, Jamil Jaffer, who was associate White House counsel to President George W. Bush, and Marcus Childress, who was investigative counsel to the January 6th Committee.
I'm so glad you're all with me here today. First of all, we'll take the history dates aside for a moment. March 4th of 2024 is not 2026, okay? That's very obvious. But it's a very soon date considering the fact that, look, you've got four trials. This is one of the ones that's maybe the most consequential.
I want to begin with you because you were on the January 6th Investigative Council Committee. And that notion -- the fact is it's going to be March 4th. Before really Super Tuesday. Before a general election. Is that the right call from this judge? MARCUS CHILDRESS, FORMER JANUARY 6 INVESTIGATIVE COUNSEL: Look, I think from the very beginning, the special counsel has set the tone that we're doing a pretty tight indictment here to try to get the trial fast. And you saw the prosecutors, again, repeating this notion of we've provided the documents and actually identified for them, for you, in a way that you can see exactly how we substantiated our indictment to try to get the trial there fast.
So, I'm not going to say it's the right or wrong decision, but it allows the court to have a little bit of slip to the left, right? If there are pretrial motions that the Trump team may file, it allows a little bit of time and delay and still have this trial, maybe in June or July, with the busy calendar ahead.
COATES: Slip to the left, you don't mean politics. You just mean they get to have a little bit of a move.
COATES: I'm just going to clarify.
CHILDRESS: Correct. Thank you.
COATES: You didn't mean it like that. Okay, everyone, calm down. It was a -- I see. Thank you very much. But thinking about the room you'd have to move, you know what Trump is saying?
Election interference. Not from his own allegations but instead, he's saying, Bradley, this is a judge trying to interfere with an election, and she doesn't care about his campaign schedule. I mean, there are others who have had to prioritize a court hearing over their personal lives.
What do you say about that argument to a judge, that you are committing election interference, your honor, if you don't have the trial date after the general election?
BRADLEY MOSS, NATIONAL SECURITY ATTORNEY: Let me know when they slap on the cuffs. That would be my response.
MOSS: Let's be honest. If he -- if the indictment came now and the trial happens in 2024, he's going to claim it is election interference. If he loses in 2024 and runs again, he's going to claim any trial then would be election interference.
Any prosecution of this man, in his view, is election interference because nobody is ever allowed to prosecute Donald Trump. No one is ever allowed to hold accountable Donald Trump. The only people who can hold him accountable is himself and no one else is permitted.
The idea of holding this in 2026 was preposterous. The judge saw right through that. She still gave him more time, which I thought was sufficient. I thought it was reasonable. I thought the government was moving way too quickly on that one to do January.
Wasn't enough time with pretrial motions. You know those are going to get appealed either way. Putting it in March gives you some buffer room. I still think it gets actually pushed to the end of the -- to the summer at this point because I almost am certain we're going to have appellate litigation in this. But I think it was a reasonable compromise, given what is essentially a very straightforward case.
COATES: I mean, summer still, of course, not the election, and that was the October surprise. I wonder if we'll get to that point. I want to tell you, Jamil, there was a moment that the attorney, John Lauro, who you all have heard from before, says he doesn't have enough time to get up to speed here.
And here's what the judge said. She pushed back saying, any agent, diligent, zealous defense lawyer would not have been sitting on their hands waiting for an indictment. Is she right?
JAMIL JAFFER, FORMER ASSOCIATE WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL TO GEORGE W. BUSH: Absolutely. I mean, look, he should have been prepping for a long time. The defendant himself should have had counsel. They should have been prepped. There's no question she's right about that.
The problem with setting this trial date, even if it moves back to the summertime, it plays right into Donald Trump's hands. He's going to keep saying election interference. He's going to keep saying, I'm off the campaign trail. I can't campaign effectively. This is a Democrat- appointed judge trying to prevent me from succeeding in my campaign for the presidency.
And this is the challenge. Right? When the Justice Department brings a charge. The president who oversees the Justice Department is running for reelection. Right? This would be a whole different prosecution if Joe Biden were running for president, if Donald Trump weren't running for president, and we're literally right in the heart of the primary and eventually the general election season.
COATES: And yet there have been many who look at this and say, well, the reason you announced your candidacy, Mr. Trump, was because you were not necessarily running towards the presidency, you were running from an indictment. Now, we can quibble whether that's true or not. Some say he's walking to the presidency more than he's running to the presidency. You know, we can be civil about that.
But at the end of the day, when you look at this and think of the consequential nature of this, right, this is -- this is somebody who in the January 6 Committee, from Liz Cheney to Adam Kinzinger to Jamie Raskin to -- and beyond, it was about an ongoing threat. There is an election, as we know, in a democracy. It's right around the corner.
The fact that he is saying, look, this is a politicization of what's happening, are you buying that based on your experience of what you saw with the January 6th Committee?
CHILDRESS: So, a quote that always stood out for me from the members of Mr. Kinzinger and Ms. Cheney and others, even Mr. Thompson saying that laws are just words on paper unless those who are elected actually carry them out, enforce them, and follow them, right?
And so, I think that's what this whole investigation has been about, is making sure that our elected officials actually enforce and follow the laws that are on the books because that's the key to a democracy.
COATES: It's also the actual marching orders of the head of executive branch of government, right? I mean, to enforce the laws. But think about this. I mean, March 4th, by the way, is just one of the many cases that he has, including civil. We're going to talk about more about that.
But when you look at the references that are being made to the prosecution, and frankly, did I read that he had about $7 million that he was able to fundraise off of the indictments? I mean --
JAFFER: Just off that photograph.
COATES: Just off of the photograph alone.
JAFFER: Crazy photo.
COATES: I mean, that's really telling to me. Is it for you as well, about how this might impact how he continues the defense? He's not saying, I didn't do it. He's just saying, yeah, I did it.
JAFFER: Yeah. Look, to the contrary, he's actually succeeding with his base. This is going to draw his base out to vote. In an election where turnout is going to matter a ton, right, he's getting his base out to vote. Every single day this trial goes forward, he's raising more money.
This is bad politically for the Biden administration. It's a winner for Trump. It helps him win reelection. That's a disaster for anybody who thinks Donald Trump ought to be in jail.
COATES: As they say, but wait, there's more because Georgia is on our mind as well. Shout out to Ray Charles.
And thinking about -- we already talked about Sam Cooke. Why not add him into the mix? Let me ask you.
The Georgia is now -- the Georgia Fulton County case. There was a hearing today involving Mark Meadows, involving Raffensperger, right, the infamous phone call, a fact-finding inquiry about whether or not to move that case into the district court of Georgia, expanding, of course, the jury pool, based on the fact that Mark Meadows says, look, I thought this was part of my job. What's your reaction?
MOSS: The devil went down to Georgia and he found out as White House chief of Staff, he can do just about anything. It doesn't matter if there's no law on the books. It doesn't matter if there's no policy. I'm just the gatekeeper for the president. He wants to make phone calls about things that have nothing to do with the presidency but have to do with him as a candidate. I'm just doing my work as a federal employee.
It would be a complete evisceration of the entire idea of what is and is not your role as a federal officer. He was the White House chief of staff. He had any number of responsibilities to serve the president in that capacity. Nothing tied to the campaign would have been within that scope. Nothing tied to campaign litigation would have been within that scope.
The federal government, the executive branch, is deliberately excluded from these parts of the process of deciding who won the presidency. There was no role for the White House there.
CHILDRESS: I was going to say, I was just happy that Mark Meadows testified today. I mean, that's something we didn't get on the January 6th Committee. But going back to the evidentiary hearing, this wasn't really an issue of fact. It was an issue of interpretation of law, right?
You have the Mark Meadows team on one side saying that there's broad powers and broad scope within the official duties of chief of staff. And then you have the prosecutor saying that it was a political call, right, through Secretary Raffensperger.
So, it's going to come down to how the court interprets and draws a line of what's an official duty versus a political act and whether the court actually does draw that line from the action. But there was no real issue or genuine issue of fact here. It's just going to be how the court interprets the law.
COATES: Well, the court did not rule today. It's actually a frivolous, but will there be a successful claim? We'll have to wait and see. Look at this. The beginning of a joke right now. Four lawyers walked into the studio. Okay, Bradley Moss, Jamil Jaffer, Marcus Childress, thank you everyone.
Look, we're never -- we've actually never, by the way, seen anything like what we're talking about today. A former president facing a total of 91 charges in four criminal cases in four different jurisdictions, two federal, two state cases, all that while he's in the middle of running for a second term. Trump's many calendar conflicts and what it means is next.
COATES: It's unprecedented, everyone. Four criminal trials of a former president and current candidate taking place across multiple jurisdictions. In Georgia Superior Court, the U.S. District Court in Washington D.C., the U.S. District Court in Southern Florida, and also New York State Supreme Court. And if that's not enough for you, a civil case in New York. It could all play out over the next eight months. October 23rd, D.A. Fani Willis, she wants to bring Trump and 18 other co-defendants to trial. Attorney Steven Sadow, Todd Blanche, and Jennifer Little are going to have to defend Trump against charges of a criminal scheme and enterprise to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia, making false statements, and of course, other charges as well.
So, let's then flash forward to March because Judge Tanya Chutkan just today set the date for the federal trial for March 4th. That's just one day before Super Tuesday.
Now Trump's lawyers, they actually wanted an April 2026 trial. But Chutkan slapped that down, saying -- quote -- "You can't have two more years" -- unquote.
Attorneys John Lauro, Feliza Pavalon (ph), and Todd Blanche, yes, again, will defend Trump against charges of attempting to overthrow the 2020 election. Now, at today's hearing, Lauro called the prosecution political and said a 2024 trial date is, well, absurd. That's also the day before Super Tuesday when, of course, voters in more than a dozen states are going to cast their primary ballots.
Now, happening on March 25th, yes, that same month, you got the hush money trial in New York. Now, those charges stem from Manhattan D.A. Atorney Alvin Bragg's investigation into hush money payments made during the 2016 campaign to Stormy Daniels, who allegedly had an affair with Trump.
Now, his legal team, Todd Blanche, Susan Nichols, and John Anakales (ph), and Joe Tacopina, have to defend the former president against charges that he was part of a legal conspiracy to undermine the integrity of the 2016 election. Now, prosecutors are also alleging that he was part of an unlawful plan to suppress negative information, including a $130,000 payment.
Now, let's go to Florida because there, a federal judge set May 20th as the scheduled trial date for Trump in a case charging him with illegally retaining hundreds of classified materials. Now, his attorneys are Todd Blanche, you're hearing that name again, aren't you? Chris Kise and Lindsey Halligan. Now if that date holds, it means that we'd be deep into the nominating calendar for the presidential run.
And let's not forget that there's more. A $250 million civil trial in New York brought by New York A.G. Letitia James, that's set for October 2nd, 2023, and she's alleging fraud by Trump, his oldest children, and also his companies.
But wait, there's more. Because on January 15th of 2024, a Manhattan federal judge said that Trump is going to go on trial in a defamation lawsuit brought by writer E. Jean Carroll. That's for a second time.
Joining me now to discuss is the host of "The Verdict with Judge Hatchett," Judge Glenda Hatchett. She's also the counsel at Stewart Miller Simmons Trial Attorneys. So glad to see you today. I got to tell you, I'm down near out of breath, going through all of the different trials that this man has in front of him, not to mention, of course, the big trial of trying to be the president of the United States yet again.
Have you ever seen anything close to this scope, this type of high- profile nature for all of these cases, and such a high-profile defendant, Judge Hatchet?
GLENDA HATCHETT, COUNSEL, STEWART MILLER SIMMONS TRIAL ATTORNEYS: Absolutely not, Laura.
I -- you know, I just was sitting here thinking, as you were going through all of those, that this is such a situation that we've never seen ever in this country. And so, it's almost like a jigsaw puzzle. This case is going to go over.
And the reality is that any one of these cases -- let's talk about the federal case in D.C. and the Fulton County cases. Those cases alone, particularly in Fulton County, it will take weeks, if not months, to even find a jury.
HATCHETT: And we're seeing that in a RICO case now in Fulton County. And so, when you look at this calendar and you're trying to mesh all of these pieces together, the reality is, how will this ever get done in the timetable? Not to mention the jury selection. Then, you've got to realize that these cases will not happen in a matter of a few days. These cases will go on for weeks, if not months.
And so, I think we're going to see a lot of different adjustments on these calendars. The judge in D.C. has been very clear that this is not going to happen in 2026 and it's going to happen in March of 2024.
HATCHETT: And so, I think that we're going to see that happen. I think we're going to see that date hold fairly close to that. And D.A. Willis --
HATCHETT: You know, D.A. Willis, I think, is very interesting because she has really called their bluff.
HATCHETT: They say they want a speedy trial. She said, oh, not only will I give you a speedy trial, I'll even up the ante. We'll have a date in October. And so, you know, you have to be careful what you ask for.
COATES: Right, be careful what you wish for because you just might get it. Of course, the speedy trial rights apply to the defendants in Georgia, and there is that sort of, you know, shorter time frame.
But I do wonder, you heard me say, leading up to our conversation here, Glenda -- Judge Hatchett, has been the idea of the repeat attorneys that you're hearing, the idea of trying to coordinate, the idea of trying to say, listen, your honor, in one jurisdiction, you got to cut me some slack because I have another case and another.
The judges aren't going to want to be coordinating with each other and trying to figure out how they can juggle your schedules. My mom says, your emergency has not become my emergency. But there was a moment, judge, where Trump posted on Truth Social that he's going to appeal at least Judge Chutkan's decision about having that March 2024 date. Any leg to stand on here over a judge setting a trial date?
HATCHETT: Absolutely not. That is nonsense. And it's just this blowing smoke and perhaps a delay tactic. That will not happen. You cannot appeal her decision about setting a trial date. You just simply cannot. It won't happen. It simply won't happen.
COATES: How about the coordination between the judges? Because Judge Chutkan actually said that she spoke with the judge overseeing Trump's criminal case in Manhattan because remember, that's also set for March.
COATES: And so, the idea of a March date in New York which is at the state level, of course, the march date in the federal court in Washington D.C., does that mean that the federal trial in that conversation would have said, look, I'm going to have to flex the idea of being a federal judge and you have to reschedule your date, or do they both just go the same month and that's it?
HATCHETT: I don't think they'll go the same month. I would think that the Manhattan D.A. would then concede that they need to let the federal judge go first on this.
And if I were in her situation, I would flex my muscles. I would say, listen, I have this date, this is going to happen, we need to have this happen.
And I think really the most compelling case is, frankly, from my perspective, this is the one in D.C. and the one in Fulton County. And frankly, I think that those should take precedent. But of course, it's not my decision. But it's going to be very interesting to see how this works out.
But I think that people have to understand that it's going to take forever to strike juries in these cases, as I said before. And these cases are not simple cases. They will go on for a very, very long time.
I think it's also interesting, I have to tell you, Laura, that I -- and I don't mean to chuckle about this, but everybody thinks and talks about pardons. And I have to say that in Georgia, there's no such thing. There's no such thing as getting out of jail free. So, I've been watching what's happening in federal court and Meadows and perhaps Clark and Trump will follow because really, you can't get pardoned. The governor no longer can do that. That was changed back in the 1940s. And you have to literally serve your sentence in Georgia.
HATCHETT: And before you -- five years has to lapse before you can even ask for a pardon. And so, if they don't get removed, it's going to be a very interesting thing.
And I'll tell you, in full disclosure, Fani considers me a mentor, and I've been encouraging her. I think she's doing an amazing job. And when she says she's ready in October, you can bet she's going to be ready.
COATES: You've been mentoring her on this case specifically or just in general?
HATCHETT: No, I mean, just in general.
COATES: Over a course of her career?
HATCHETT: Yes, just generally.
COATES: You haven't spoken to her about this case in particular?
HATCHETT: No. No, no, no. I -- you know, I reached out to her for encouragement, but we have not talked specifically about this case.
COATES: Important to know and as the point -- just to clarify for the audience, there is pardon rights in Georgia. It's just that this would not be a federal pardonable offense even if removed, according to what happens, because it would still be a state law that would be implicated in Georgia. It would be if convicted a state conviction, which means that it would go to a pardon board and you had to wait five years to even qualify in Georgia in that round.
But, you know, it's funny. Just one more point, Judge Hatchett. You know, the fact that right now we're at a point when it's the decision between whether Alvin Bragg's case goes forward first in Manhattan or Jack Smith's case goes forward in Washington, D.C., the trial date, wasn't that the first question everyone raised with Alvin Bragg of why should his case go first, and now, it's not going to go first?
Judge Glenda Hatchett, thank you so much.
HATCHETT: Thank you. Good to see you.
COATES: As always for me, too. Look, there are multiple counties as well, everyone, under evacuation orders tonight. Look at the screen there. You got thousands of National Guard members already deployed. We've got a brand-new forecast for the storm bearing down on Florida, and it takes place right after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
COATES: There is a major storm bearing down the west coast of Florida. Officials are warning that it could make landfall as a Category 3 hurricane, bringing potentially catastrophic winds, heavy rain, and flooding. Multiple counties are now under evacuation orders and thousands of National Guard members have already been deployed.
Karen Maginnis is in the CNN Weather Center with a new forecast that has just come in. Karen, what is the latest?
KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Laura, thanks so much. And we are continuing to watch this tropical storm. Now, the last advisory came in just about 30 minutes ago. It still keeps Idalia at about 70 miles an hour. It is situated just about over the Yucatan Strait, but it is very rapidly going to be pushing into the Gulf of Mexico. And from there, it's going to push towards the north and the northeast.
The time to make plans, to get your things in order, medicines. items for your children. What will you do should there be a storm surge? Right now, there are evacuations for Zones A. Those are the most critical and most prone to flooding up and down the west coast of Florida.
Now, the computer models are in fairly good agreement. They're all suggesting that this is going to make landfall somewhere in this Big Bend area of Florida. But any change in the trajectory, and that's really going to impact a lot of these more densely-populated areas like from Tampa into Clearwater, Naples, and further to the south, Fort Myers, Florida.
We do anticipate that by Tuesday evening, this is going to be a Category 2 hurricane, still off the coast of Florida, not making a direct impact on Tampa, but certainly is going to kick up the waves there. There's going to be a rip current. We're going to see occasional showers and thunderstorms just before landfall, Laura. We're anticipating it will mushroom to a Category 3 hurricane. We'll keep you updated.
COATES: Karen Maginnis, thank you so much. Please do.
We also now have a community shaken to its core after three people were shot to death by a gunman in Jacksonville, Florida. A gunman hell bent on killing Black people. Taking a step back next with Professor Michael Eric Dyson.
COATES: The city of Jacksonville is reeling from a rampage being investigated as a hate crime. A white gunman targeted Black people, shooting and killing three victims at a Dollar General store this Saturday. The victims have now been identified. They are 52-year-old Michelle Car, 19-year-old AJ Laguerre, Jr., and 29-year-old Jerrald Gallion. This, as thousands of people gathered in the nation's capital where Dr. King gave his iconic "I have a Dream" speech and spoke of a more just and equitable America. Today marks 60 years since that march.
Now, while meeting with civil rights leaders and family members of Dr. King at the White House, President Biden warned against the rise of extremism.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We can't let hate prevail. And it's on the rise. It's not diminished. And we have to speak out that there's a whole group of extreme people trying to erase history.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: I want to bring in distinguished professor of ethics and society at Vanderbilt University's Divinity School, Michael Eric Dyson. I'm so glad you're here. I've been thinking about you a lot when it comes to moments like this. I ask you to take a step back with me for a moment. How do you see the confluence of all of these events?
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, DISTINGUISHED PROFESSOR OF AFRICAN AMERICAN: Well, it's great always to be on with you. It's an extraordinary moment. I had the great honor to speak at the 60th anniversary march on Saturday. It was remarkable. Think about it.
Dr. King stood at the sunlit summit of expectation in August 28th of 1963 as a 34-year-old man and echoed across the century and into our own a demand for justice rooted deeply in the American dream. At that point, he was an Emersonian America, constantly reinventing himself and the nation he brought along with him to see justice through the lens of those who had been bitterly denied.
And to think about the fact that that march was held on, I think, the eighth anniversary, the original march, of the murder of Emmett Till, a young teenage boy in Chicago, Illinois visiting his relatives in Money, Mississippi, and who was murdered for the crime supposedly of even glancing at a white woman and whistling at her, though, that has been denied.
The point is that when you think about the march, you think about Emmett Till, you think about Jacksonville, Florida where a man with lethal intent went to murder Black people, starting first at Edward Waters College, he was rebuffed, and then went to a Dollar Store seeking black flesh to not emancipate but to eviscerate, to destroy.
We are still living with white supremacy in our own culture. And until we're able to face it squarely, we will not be able to get rid of the shadow of this horrible sensation. And I'll end by saying this, the governor of Florida said that this guy was a scumbag. He talked about the fact that this was unacceptable. No, governor, you are fueling and feeding the deepest animus against blackness, the anti-blackness that threads itself through our culture, and sometimes, that flares up and flashes in acts of hate and destruction that we saw the other day. He and the rest of us must check ourselves to make sure we are not contributing to a worsening situation.
COATES: And naturally, he would disagree with what you said about that aspect of it because he appeared, of course, at a vigil, but he was heckled. He was booed in that crowd, likely for the reasons that you have just enunciated for and articulated here for us today.
But it occurs to me, while you were just talking, um, there was a moment -- how does one, given the fact that woke culture, so to speak, has been attacked, the idea of how racism is taught in classrooms in Florida, I wonder how right now a student body would learn about this moment in Jacksonville, Florida.
What attention there is right now, professor, that one likely could not learn about the hate crime having been committed perhaps that took place in Florida given the tensions that are outlined with how one can teach about race in America in Florida?
DYSON: Yes, that's brilliantly articulated and it would be extremely difficult. Why? Because the governor explicitly stated when he signed that -- quote -- "anti-woke bill" that, oh, I'm not against you teaching slavery and the like, I just don't want you to draw a relationship between the past and the present.
And yet what we saw manifest in Jacksonville, Florida was the living haunted past asserting itself with lethal intensity in our present. The bigotry and the hatred of a young white man, not an elderly man, a young white man, which means the pathology of racism is reproducing itself with frightening frequency.
So, we wouldn't be able to talk about it. We wouldn't be able to speak about it. He said he doesn't want to make, that is the governor, our children, white children, uncomfortable. There is no true education without discomfort. Unless you're uncomfortable with your ignorance, you will never learn.
So instead of learning the so-called skills that enslaved people learn, talk about the skills that we as human beings who need to be woke. Why is it that people are so addicted to being asleep?
Frederick Douglass said that in slavery, there was no greater punishment for Black people than oversleeping. Now, they want us to go back to sleep. They want to ban books, ban Black bodies, and ban Black brains. This is a trauma unless we address it directly, and the governor, I think, is on the wrong side of history.
COATES: Yeah, there was a recent Pew Research study that found that racial equality is still a work in progress. In fact, 52% of Americans say there has been a great deal or a fair amount of progress on racial equity in the last 60 years. That number, I mean, I don't know, 52% is almost a failing grade. Is it not? You're talking about school. A lot more work to be done.
I want to tap in to you as an ordained minister as well, to come full circle to the moments on the steps, the Lincoln Memorial, and you speaking, of course, on Saturday. What gives you hope for the future? What kind of change do you see when you look and hope to get there with us?
DYSON: Well look, this is the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, the 60th anniversary of the march on Washington. Those two things are not as dissimilar as we might believe. Five years after Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered, an art form took place in the desolate, desperate Bronx and a culture emerged. And Black people whose backs were against the wall, who were desperate for economic equality, became the most powerful art form we've ever imagined.
Now you would say, well, my God, what is Jay-Z or what is Lil Wayne or what does Drake have to do with the dream of Martin Luther King, Jr. and hope? Because I believe that no matter how far we are oppressed, if we join together as American citizens, as a culture, to determine that what we face will not determine our trajectory, then we will move.
I'll end by saying this. Howard Thurman, the great mystic said, you can have a choice. Either you are a victim of an event or you are a prisoner of hope. Don't reduce your dreams to the event you confront. Choose to be a prisoner of hope. I choose to be a prisoner of hope because I refuse to believe that this great country cannot deliver on its promises if we put the elbow grease in and the determination to move forward.
COATES: Well, look, you made the influence or the intersection between hip-hop and what happened. I'm going to paraphrase that you're not just an education man, you're an education man.
So nice to talk to you as always. I'm so glad you stopped by. Michael Eric Dyson, everyone, thank you.
DYSON: M.C. Laura Coates, thank you very kindly.
COATES: I'll make it stick. Thank you so much.
Everyone, coming up, the greatest of all time, Simone Biles winning a record eighth U.S. Gymnastics title and changing the entire culture of that sport. Gold medalist Dominique Dawes is here to talk about all of it right after this.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COATES: It has never been done before. Simone Biles making history. The four-time Olympic gold medalist won her record eighth U.S. all- around title at the U.S. Gymnastics championships just yesterday.
An incredible accomplishment in a career well full of incredible accomplishments, coming just two years after she pulled out of several events at the Tokyo Olympics, suffering from what's known as the twisties, a mental block causing a gymnast to lose track of their positions in midair.
Well, joining me now is U.S. Olympic gold medalist Dominique Dawes. I'm so incredibly thrilled to have her on the program. I have been a fan for years. We all are and are to this very day. And I'm just so excited to have one, you here, but also your expertise. We are celebrating Simone Biles as well.
I have to ask you. I mean, Dominique, my daughter is just now starting gymnastics and my heart is like racing whenever she does anything. And I look to someone like Simone Biles and, of course, to you, and I think, oh, my God, how in the world can you do these difficult routines? Talk to me about just how difficult this really is.
DOMINIQUE DAWES, OLYMPIC GOLD MEDAL GYMNAST: Very, very difficult. I was in the sport of gymnastics for 18 years and just seeing what Simone is doing these days gives me goosebumps. It makes me think about my Olympic pursuits, making it to three different Olympic games, and she's on track to making it to the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
And as you're going to experience with your daughter, it's a grind. There's the physical commitment, the emotional toll, the mental toll, the social aspect. And, you know, I give it to Simone. She's 26 years old. She is the best that she has been. And I think she's only going to get better. And it's a delight now for myself as a mother of four to have her as a role model for my little kids.
COATES: I mean, it's incredible to think of that journey that she has had. You know how invested one has to be. And unlike, say, more of the traditional team sports, of course, gymnastics is very individual. It's very the weight of the world on your shoulders. And decisions you have to make to make sure you are safe, no one else gets to decide that but you.
And two years ago, two summers ago, really, in Tokyo, she suffered what's known as the twisties. Tell me about how significant that really is and how do you overcome it?
DAWES: And she went through a trying time at the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games. And what I love about her story is it didn't end there. And that's what we don't want to have, is this mentality that we step out of the game. What we need to see in Simone right now is she's stepping back into the game.
And while she, you know, went through what she went through in Tokyo, she's now facing her fears and watching her interviews following championships. She's doing it for herself. And what I love is that she lives a full life. She is a business woman. She is a wife. Oh yeah, and by the way, she's training for her third Olympic Games and doing an amazing job.
COATES: But, you know, there's a moment that she has talked about after winning her latest, she says, you know, I'm going to keep my goals sort of personal to myself. I want to make sure that I know that this is for me and why I'm -- the why, I always say. The why you're doing something. The pressure will only increase with each historic moment that she achieves.
How do you cope with that idea of being alone in that moment, representing a sport, representing history, and then possibly, if she does Olympics again, the nation?
DAWES: Yes, she's about to be the third American female gymnast to qualify to three Olympic Games. I was the second at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. And as you can tell, 23 years later, it hasn't been done. She's going to do that and it's on her own terms.
And I will be remiss in not saying that today's culture in the sport of gymnastics is a healthier culture. Laura, I started my own gymnastics academy in the midst of the global pandemic to be a part of this positive change. It's the Dominique Dodge Gymnastics and Ninja Academy. I have one in Clarksburg, Maryland, opened my second in Rockville, Maryland, and even looking at future locations down the road.
And so, Simone has been a part of that positive culture change. And that's why you can see her on the floor smiling, celebrating herself, celebrating her teammates. That's not something that was allowed back in the 90s during my era. And she's a part of this positive change. And that's why I think she's going to continue to thrive.
COATES: Well, our very best wishes to you. I know you will thrive in all that you do. You continue to be a champion for so many reasons, not the least of which as an entrepreneur and, obviously, for the team of gymnastics and the sport in and of itself.
Something tells me, when you say she's 26 years old and then I read things like -- and she's the oldest gymnast ever, I'm thinking, wait, wait a second. I'm sorry, not the oldest ever, but why is that the age?
DAWES: I know. Yeah. Well, I think being obviously a three-time Olympian myself, I was 23 at my last Olympic Games and I was on arthritic medication that I needed to get off of because it was going to damage my kidneys, it's hard, it's grueling.
The physical toll, the commitment, the dedication, the emotional toll, the mental toll, and as I even mentioned earlier, the social toll like -- and I'm not -- by any means, Simone Biles is not one-dimensional because she's married, she's a businesswoman, but for many gymnasts, when you're in the grind, that is all you do, that is all you know, and that was my life.
I lived in a leotard. I would only have friends that wear leotards. That's all I did. And I think today, the culture that's changing in the sport, like even at my academies, we embrace athletes that want to play multiple sports. And I really embraced the gymnastics, the sport of gymnastics, being great for a healthy foundation for that multi- sport athlete.
I have four beautiful kids. All four of them do gymnastics. But will they become highly competitive gymnasts? No, absolutely not. I have them in the sport because I truly believe that it's the strongest foundation that you can give your child. You don't have to burn them out along the way, but they're going to play soccer, lacrosse, diving, baseball, tennis and golf, you name it.
And I think that's how the sport of gymnastics now has changed that. People realize you don't have to be this highly competitive athlete to be considered a gymnast. You can get into it and learn those beautiful fundamentals.
COATES: Wow, amazing to think, and you should know, obviously, if you don't already, what a role model you remain for so many in and out of the sport, the tenacity, the dedication, the drive, the ambition and the multi-dimensionality. Dominique Dawes, thank you so much for all that you have done.
And I should tell everyone, my daughter approached her one day out of the blue at gymnastics meet. She was kind, she was sweet, she was giving, she was inspirational, and there was not a camera around, everyone. So, you know who we're talking about right now. Dominique Dawes, thank you so much.
DAWES: Thank you so much. I appreciate this opportunity.
COATES: Thank you, everyone, for watching. Our coverage continues.