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Idalia Lashes Southeast With High Winds And Rain; McConnell Freezes During News Conference; Trump Co-Defendants Ask Judge to Break Apart GA Election Interference And Hold Separate Trials; Giuliani Loses Defamation Lawsuit. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired August 30, 2023 - 23:00   ET



ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: "CNN Tonight" with Laura Coates starts right now. Laura, good to see you.

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Good to see you, Abby, for me as well. And good evening, everyone. I'm Laura Coates, and this is "CNN Tonight."

Look, we are covering all the big stories on a very busy news night. We got Hurricane Idalia lashing the southeast at this very moment and threatening flooding, storm surges, and strong winds as it goes. Now, look at this incredible video, by the way, a car flipping over in a tornado in South Carolina, almost like CGI for a second. Oh, my God.

Meanwhile, some communities on Florida's Gulf Coast are cut off. Thousands are without power. We'll go to the weather center before the brand-new forecast.

Plus, there's a health scare. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here to explain what might be going on with Mitch McConnell, who appeared to freeze in the middle of a Q&A with reporters in Kentucky today, just like he did at the Capitol last month.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): Senator, you're up for election in three short years. What are your thoughts on it at this point?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Sorry, I had a hard time hearing you.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): That's okay. What are your thoughts on running for re-election in 2026?

MCCONNELL: What are my thoughts about what?

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Running for re-election in 2026.

MCCONNELL: Oh. That's good.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Did you hear the question, senator, running for re-election in 2026? All right, I'm sorry to you, all. We're going to need a minute.


COATES: So, what exactly is happening and what does it say about the fitness of the 81-year-old senator to lead the republican caucus?

And tonight, on the docket, a federal judge has determined that Rudy Giuliani has lost the defamation lawsuit from the Georgia election workers, Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss. That's after he failed to provide information that was sought in subpoenas. I mean, he upended their lives when he singled them out, falsely accusing them of ballot tampering.


RUBY FREEMAN, FORMER FULTON COUNTY ELECTION WORKER: I've lost my name, and I've lost my reputation. I've lost my sense of security all because a group of people starting with number 45 and his ally, Rudy Giuliani, decided to scapegoat me and my daughter, Shaye.


COATES: More on all this soon. And let's begin now with our breaking news. There's a brand-new forecast right now for Idalia. Chad Myers is in the weather center. Chad, what are you seeing?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST AND SEVERE WEATHER EXPERT: We lost five more miles per hour, down to 60 miles per hour now. Now, that doesn't really take it down to something that's not damaging. We could still see power lines coming down here with winds at that speed.

I'm also seeing a very big blow up of bright colors here across the Piedmont of South Carolina and also almost upstate there of North Carolina. That is an area I'm concerned about very heavy rainfall still coming down at this hour.

One more area here of a blow up over the Gulf Stream, and that's the area that's going to rotate into coastal Carolinas over the next couple of hours, and they -- each one of those storms could actually have a tornado involved with it. But, right now, moving offshore by 8:00 tomorrow morning, finally departing the North Carolina coast and maybe out of our way.

Now, we are going to see the chance of some severe weather tonight. Still, the tornado watches are in effect. So, these storms are coming onshore here. And as they spin onshore, they can bring water spouts onshore. I know that. I've seen at least four tornados that actually came through and onshore today and probably go through with the National Weather Service tomorrow taking a look at that damage if there really was any.

There's the spin right now. We aren't seeing significant spin at this hour, so nothing like EF-2 or EF-3 damage. So, I think as we zoom in here, the center of circulation is just now moving across Charleston. You can see this light little circle right there of rainfall. It's not an eye, obviously, but it's just kind of the ring around the middle of the forecast at the cone there. So, an awful lot of flooding still coming down tonight and flood warnings are in effect. Please don't go outside and drive through the flooding. It's very, very hard to see. And here is Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the board walk in the promenade. Nobody out there, and I'm very happy about that. Now, the waves out here have been quite rough all day long, but at least nobody is out and about. Laura?

COATES: Chad Myers, thank you so much. And again, heeding the warning, everyone, about trying to drive through floodwaters, very important. People are going to be taking a lot of stock about the damage that has already passed through from Idalia.

Let's go now to CNN's Dianne Gallagher, who's in Wilmington, North Carolina, where the governor has urged residents to stock up even ahead of Idalia. Dianne, what are the conditions like right now where you're at?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, Laura, we are in Carolina Beach, which is just a little bit south of the Wilmington area, sort of one of those little barrier islands just across the bridge.


Actually, this is the lightest breeze that we've had. It's starting to kick off again, but we've been experiencing those gusts of wind out here that are sort of moving the palm trees about. We earlier saw out here on the boardwalk moving sign of the carnival rides actually by the wind.

But what they are mostly concerned about is exactly what Chad was talking about, that in the coming hours, we're under a tornado watch until 4:00 a.m., our expectation is that this is going to worsen.

And because of the king tide, it's something that we have heard everybody from Florida, South Carolina, Georgia talk about, that storm surge that Idalia could bring could create flooding, especially in areas that the emergency management director of New Hanover County told me are already trouble areas that tend to flood when they have higher king tide, anyway.

Now, again, you can see the wind starting to pick up a bit, moving the swing here, some of the dune grass as well. And we've watched the tide come in. You can't see the ocean because it's obviously nighttime, it's dark. But we're seeing these dunes, according to the town manager here in Carolina Beach, hopefully protect most of the areas from severe flooding.

The expectation is they will have some moderate flooding, especially in the northern part of Carolina Beach and likely in downtown Wilmington because of the king tide and the storm surge along with the rain. We've had some very heavy belts of rain. We expect that to continue throughout the night.

And they say that the hope is that it's over by late morning, but they're asking people to stay out of the floodwater. Of course, if you don't desperately need to go somewhere in the morning, wait until late morning or early afternoon to leave your homes and just stay in a safe place as the storm continues to pass.

They're also warning visitors. You know, there's a holiday weekend coming up. There's a lot of people we've met who are already here on vacation. They're asking them to stay out of the ocean, noting that Hurricane Franklin out in the Atlantic as well as the incoming Idalia and what it's doing to the swells there in the ocean, that it makes for very difficult currents and it's not going to necessarily be hospitable for people who are not strong surfers or strong swimmers.

And so, Laura, this could continue well into the weekend after the bad weather is gone, asking those tourists to stay out of the ocean because it could continue to be dangerous for days to come. Right now, they're looking ahead to the morning, but their long-term concern is, of course, this weekend when the sun may be out and most of the tourists are on the beach.

COATES: Dianne, that's such an important statement, for people to continue to be vigilant, know what's going on, don't take for granted that you have all the information. You've got to stay apprised of all of the details because you just never know. Dianne Gallagher, thank you so much.

Look, joining us now is Charleston Deputy Fire Chief Jason Krusen. A flood watch actually remains in effect in Charleston until at least 2 a.m. Jason, thank you for being here tonight. I mean, you're the overnight commander in the emergency center tonight. What is happening in Charleston right now? What are the conditions like?

JASON KRUSEN, CHARLESTON DEPUTY FIRE CHIEF: Yes, good night or good evening. We -- we're seeing a lot of response calls at this time. We're still seeing a lot of the bands come through with some lulls through, but we are seeing a lot of flooded streets. We currently have about 50 streets that are closed due to flooding specifically, and we've rescued a little over 20 people so far from stranded vehicles that they've driven through into the flood water.

So, we definitely want to urge people to stay out of the flood water, stay home. And as you just reported, you know, when light comes, please stay home, let us go out and do our damage assessment so we can see what areas are in need based from the result of the flooding.

COATES: So, the majority of those calls coming in are from people who have been in their vehicles. I always wonder about how those rescue operations will take place. It's obviously very dangerous for anyone to drive through floodwaters for people to try to get to them and try to rescue them as well.

Are you getting a sense, are these families in these cars? Are these people who tried to leave beforehand and got caught in something, are you getting a sense of who, in fact, has been the most vulnerable?

KRUSEN: I think it would be yes, all the above. We're seeing workers that maybe were held over at work later than they anticipated and they weren't able to get out in time and they were stranded, you know, trying to get home. We have a lot of tourists, so we have people that may be unfamiliar with some of the flooding that we experience, and then the storm just adds to that, to our normal flooding that we do see.

COATES: Do you have the resources in terms of -- obviously, some tourists and many people just with all the news and just the following of this particular storm, you almost forget for a second, but there is a huge travel and tourism weekend right now happening. Many people may have already been in the area anticipating this wasn't going to impact them if they were in the Carolinas, but it would only be in Florida.


For many people who might want to now venture out, who might be taking stock of what they're seeing in the skies and think, you know what, I might be okay, what message do you want to send to those who are trying to maybe venture out of their home tomorrow morning?

KRUSEN: Well, from the initial reports, our flooding is our biggest concern right now. We've been lucky. The winds have been not as bad as we anticipated, which is a good thing. But the flood is still a concern. So, when we have flooded streets, we're hoping a lot of that will subside very quickly before light, but we're still going to have those pocketed areas where we have a standing water.

So, we don't want people to venture out even on foot if they're not even driving into the area because they want to enjoy the city. We just ask that they stay in a little while, let us get out, let our crews get out and assess the area, ensure that everything is safe if we had any down power lines or any electoral hazards.

And then there's always the concerns with the contaminants that may be in the floodwater or unsure of what's underneath that water. You could slip and trip and fall or fall into an opening and hurt yourself. So, we just ask that everybody wait and give us a little bit of time until we can get out and notify the community that it is safe to get out.

COATES: Really important messages. Jason Krusen, thank you so much.

KRUSEN: Yes, thank you, and have a great night.

COATES: You, too.

COATES: As the storm moves on, Florida's Gulf Coast, well, they're beginning the recovery. You've got the Pasco County administrator saying that approximately 4 to 6,000 -- 4 to 6,000 homes were damaged.

Joining us now is the Mayor of Port Richey, Florida, John Eric Hoover. Port Richey is a city in Pasco County. Mayor Hoover, thank you for being with us this evening. You've actually surveyed part of your city earlier today. Be our eyes for a second. What did you see?

MAYOR JOHN ERIC HOOVER, PORT RICHEY, FLORIDA: So, I went out early this morning after the water had started to subside in my truck, obviously because several of the roads, as you see there in the photo, they were -- they are still very deep. And so, no car couldn't pass. I drove around the city. Several of our roads were impassable, unless you had a vehicle that was, you know, up in the air a little bit. They had Humvee for the police department that were helping rescue folks and getting those folks to shelters. But a lot of the roads are impassable.

And then -- so as I drove around the city, several homes had -- water inundated them. I think the most -- the height is about 3 foot. Possibly, some of the homes, 2 foot to 3 foot. Had water that high in those homes. So --

COATES: And that's 4 to 6,000 or so homes that we estimated about that have been impacted. How many rescues are we talking about? And everyone is wanting to know especially -- I mean, have there been any injuries that you've been aware of, any fatalities?

HOOVER: Yeah -- no -- no fatalities or injuries that I've been made aware of. But we did have 20 plus citizens that were water rescued and taken to shelters. We had, I think, 23 actually taken to shelters. And again, these are preliminary results. We are still assessing that, but these are the preliminary results.

COATES: So, what are the most pressing needs now at this very hour?

HOOVER: So, the pressing needs now, obviously, people are doing cleanup in their homes. The city is going to be getting dumpsters together so that as they put their furniture that has been damaged and stuff out that they would be collected and taken to the dump, and so forth. That's what we're focused on now, obviously, is getting that cleanup started.

COATES: There's a lot of coordination, obviously, from the different jurisdictions. Have you heard from the governor?

HOOVER: I have not.

COATES: Have you heard from other mayors in the area around you? Is there some coordination about what to do next?

HOOVER: No. Our city is run by the city manager. So, the council and myself are kind of out of the loop because our city manager basically runs those operations. I don't know if he has heard from any of those entities or not, but I have not.

COATES: Well, there's a lot of individual and collective effort at this point to try to course correct after this tropical storm now and the hurricane as well. Thank you, Mayor John Eric Hoover. I appreciate your time.

HOOVER: Yep. Thank you.

COATES: Well, there has been a health scare for Senator Mitch McConnell today. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here to discuss what happened and what it might mean. That's next.



COATES: Another scary moment today when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell froze while taking questions from reporters in Kentucky.


MCCONNELL: What are my thoughts about what?

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Running for re-election in 2026.

MCCONNELL: Oh. That's good.

UNKNOWN: Did you hear the question, senator, running for re-election in 2026?


UNKNOWN: All right, I'm sorry to you, all. We're going to need a minute. Senator. Eddie (ph).

UNKNOWN: Yeah. Do you want to go outside, senator?

MCCONNELL: I'm good. Okay.

UNKNOWN: Somebody else have a question? Please speak up.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): What efforts (INAUDIBLE) on the campaign trail when Kentucky is over in November?

UNKNOWN: Senator, Daniel Cameron. Do you have a comment on Daniel Cameron?

MCCONNELL: Well, I think (INAUDIBLE) very close. Far and away the best candidate we could have nominated. And the state has become increasingly Republican. In fact, the governor is the only Democrat left.


So, I'm optimistic that Daniel will be our next governor.


COATES: It was difficult to watch. It's almost the second time McConnell has had an incident like this in public. The last time was just a month ago. And all this follows a March fall at a hotel in Washington, a fall that landed McConnell in the hospital.

Joining me now, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent, also Manu Raju, CNN's chief congressional correspondent. You know, first of all, Manu, I want to ask you, how is McConnell doing right now? This is very startling, to have seen all of that unfold, and it's difficult to watch. MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, it was. And he's trying to carry on like business as usual. In the immediate aftermath of this episode, an aide told me that he was going to see a doctor. This is different than what they said after his July freeze of 30 seconds. Very similar at the time. They said he was lightheaded. They're saying at this time he was also feeling lightheaded.

What they're not saying is what is the underlying cause and what led him to that. They're not saying what happened at that doctor's appointment, assuming he did consult with the doctor in the immediate aftermath.

He did attend a fundraiser later in the day with Congressman Jim Banks, who's running for the Senate in Indiana. I'm told that the senator was engaging, he was sharp in the words of one person, he took questions, they had a wide-ranging discussion with him and Banks, but Laura, he did not about the episode at all. I'm told that did not come up at all.

He has been on the phone with Republican allies, too, through the course of the day, including his number two, John Thune, someone who could potentially succeed him as leader. And I'm told from Thune's office that they had a very good discussion, he was very positive, he's like his usual self, but really no details other than that.

COATES: I mean, that's the question, though, right? When everyone is watching all this unfold, Sanjay, I mean, it's so unsettling to watch him unable to respond, seemingly frozen. You know, I'm watching as a layman, you're watching as, of course, an expert. What are you seeing here?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, I'm saying the same thing. I mean, you know, it is a sort of significant episode of freezing. And, you know, you typically think of someone who is lightheaded, they might want to sit down. They're not frozen per se. This was frozen both in speech and in body, but also in his hands.

If you look at the video, Laura, you'll see his aid comes over to him, tries to take his hand, sort of really clutching the sides of the lectern very, very closely.

So, the same things. And there's a long list of things that could possibly cause this. You know, is it a slight sort of what they call a TIA, a transient ischemic attack, a mini seizure? Could it be a Parkinson's-like thing? And if your medications are starting to wear off, you can have episodes of freezing.

But the fact that his aides -- they actually let him continue, answer another question, as you saw there. They didn't seem that surprised by this. We saw this in July, but you get the impression that they're -- they become somewhat accustomed to dealing with this. And my guess is his doctors know as well, which is why there's not this rush.

You think that's a very unusual sort of thing that happened. He should be seen right away, and he should. But that doesn't seem to be the case, which means that there may be some knowledge of what's going on here already by the doctors and his aides.

COATES: Manu, I wonder what does this mean for his, you know, his tenure in office. I mean, his future. He is the Senate minority leader and been a formidable one throughout his career.

RAJU: Yeah, and the longest serving party leader in Senate history, Republican or Democrat. He surpassed the record earlier this year. The question has long been, even before all this, how long he could continue to serve beyond this Congress. The Congress ends at the end of next year. His term does not end until he runs again, if he were to run again in 2026.

So, the question is, what does he do in 2025? There's no question at the moment he's going to continue to try to serve until the end of this Congress. Next Congress, that is going to be the big question. Will he continue to do that or step aside?

There are already some calls from folks calling for him to step aside, saying there should be some change. Typically, from folks from the Democratic Party. We now heard many Republicans. Certainly, no Republican senator is saying that today.

But one congressman, Dean Phillips, he's a Minnesota Democrat, he's someone who has been critical of Joe Biden, Joe Biden being in office for too long, said, for goodness sake, the families, friends, and staff of senators Feinstein and McConnell are doing them and our country a tremendous disservice. It's time for term limits for Congress and the Supreme Court and some basic human decency. Phillips, of course, is calling up this 90-year-old Senator Dianne Feinstein, who has had her own health episodes.

But that comes with the territory in this -- in this institution, particularly in a situation like this with a spotlight on him and in that prime position. If he stumbles like that, expect the calls for him to retire, to intensify.

COATES: I understand President Biden has weighed in, though.

RAJU: President Biden has weighed in. He spoke to him.


He said he was going to speak to him, reach out to him earlier today, wish him the best. They are -- they've been close. They've been -- they've known each other for a very long time. He wished him the best.

COATES: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Manu Raju, thank you so much.

Two of Donald Trump's co-defendants in the Georgia election interference case, well, they won a speedy trial except -- does he? If he doesn't, what happens next? We'll tell you after this.

COATES: Well, tonight, two of former President Donald Trump's co- defendants have now asked a judge to formally separate their cases from the sprawling overall indictment.


Attorneys Ken Chesebro and Sidney Powell have already invoked their speedy trial rights, teeing them up for, well, October trials. The question is, what could this mean for Donald Trump's case?

I want to bring in former Georgia prosecutor Chris Timmons along with CNN legal analyst Michael Moore, who is a former U.S. attorney in the Middle District of Georgia. I'm glad to have you both here. Thank you so much.

Let me begin with you, Chris, because Sidney Powell, Ken Chesebro, they have now filed separately to sever their cases from Donald Trump's and the 16 other co-defendants. I want to take a step back for a moment, and I want to analyze how does that really help them in different ways. What's your take?

CHRIS TIMMONS, FORMER GEORGIA PROSECUTOR: So, I think in terms of jury appeal, they want to separate themselves from Donald Trump. He's a divisive, kind of controversial figure, and pretty much everyone in the country, if not the entire world, knows who he is.

Sidney Powell, Mr. Chesebro, they're not well-known figures. And so, if they get away from President Trump, at least sitting beside them, they think they might have a better chance.

But that said, this is a RICO indictment, so all of the acts of the former president are going to be relevant and can be admissible into evidence even if those two are severed and given their own trial.

COATES: And vice versa, right, Michael? Because essentially, if they're able to say, have a trial even first, for example, they -- their evidence could actually come in as well in some respects. An these -- these cases could go as early as October 23rd. That's a hop, skip and a jump away, people.

And I'm wondering what the potential impact on Trump and the other co- defendants would be because it's very clear, just given the other cases, he doesn't want these trials to happen very quickly. They do.

MICHAEL MOORE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Right. Well, I'm glad to be with both of you. And you're right, um, the two defendants that we're talking about, Ms. Powell and Mr. Chesebro, they've opted to take advantage of the Speedy Trial Act in Georgia, which is a statute that gives them the specific right to have that case moved very quickly. You have to file a motion very close to the time of indictment.

And in this case, it allows and requires actually the trial to be held, at least to begin in October of this year. So, we see that in the way it's set out.

What it means basically for the Trump team is that, you know, they're likely to get a preview of the state's case here because the judge is very likely not going to infringe upon his constitutional right to have an effective defense and an effective trial team and prepared attorney to move forward quickly simply because two of these co- defendants have opted to take advantage of a state statute that pushes them, in a sense, on a rocket docket. And so that's just not going to happen.

COATES: I don't want to cut you off, but I want to be clear on one thing you just said. Just because those two say they are able to go quickly and they assert speedy trial trial rights, it doesn't mean that, okay, two of you have now decided for everyone, either all of you go on this date or none of you go.

MOORE: Yeah, that's right. I mean, the idea of judicial efficiency will not overrule the constitutional right to have lawyers to prepare a case in an effective way. And so, Trump and the rest of the people who do not want to move forward so quickly and did not opt to take advantage of the Georgia Speedy Trial Act, they'll say, look, we need plenty of time.

The D.A. took eight months with a special purpose grand jury. She has taken two and a half years to prepare this case. We need at least more than 60 days to get ready. And I think that's -- if they don't get that, I think that it's a certain reversal on appeal if there was a conviction.

COATES: I mean, Chris, sometimes, a defendant, obviously, and they have every right to assert their speedy trial rights, but then if the prosecutor comes back and actually gives a date, then maybe a bluff has been called, and they have to then figure out how they're going to be able to, if the prosecution truly is ready, be able to defend against it, evaluate all the evidence that might come in or is given to them in discovery.

But, you know, we're talking about something very novel here, aren't we? This isn't federal court where you're not going to have courtroom. I mean, cameras in the courtroom. This could mean that potentially very damaging evidence will be aired on television. And it's an election year, as you well know, which means it's going to maybe find its way into a campaign. I'm not out on a limb even guessing that, am I?

TIMMONS: No, not at all. I mean, I'm not a political scientist, so I'm not entirely sure how that's going to play out on the campaign. But you're absolutely right, all of that evidence is going to be coming out. All the evidence related to the former president will be in evidence. It will be aired on live television. We'll be able to see it. The only thing we won't see on this particular case would be the former president sitting at one of the council tables, probably with a camera, his own camera, trained on him, looking for any sort of reaction he has.

That's the only thing that will be missing in this case, though. They go forward even without the former president. He's going to be there, I guess, in spirit or at least legally present with all of the acts in furtherance of the conspiracy that are charged to him.

COATES: Something tells me his thumbs might do the talking on social media as well or even campaign rallies.

[23:35:00] Again, I'm just (INAUDIBLE) here for a second. But what's interesting about this, maybe people don't realize this, I found this really interesting. I mean, in a court filing, Michael, an attorney for Powell, Sidney Powell, is now arguing that she never represented Trump or his campaign.

It might be curious to people as to why she's making that point and what that means, especially because there is the anticipated defense from Trump, which is maybe advice of counsel that might be a part of this. What do you make of her statements, Michael, through the counsel?

MOORE: Well, both Chesebro and Ms. Powell have good lawyers. I know them both. And I'll just tell you that, you know, the motion is, it looks to me like, they're trying to say she's completely separate and distinct. There was not some co -- there was not a coordinated effort. She was not doing things at his behest. She was not doing things for him. She did not have a signed engagement letter to make her his attorney of record.

And in fact, those allegations against her in this indictment are pretty minor compared to some of the other allegations. She didn't basically charge with the Coffee County part of the case, and that is dealing with the voting machine and access to records and those things in Coffee County.

A fairly small slice of this case. She's not named in the massive and the sprawling fake elector scheme and the phone call to Raffensperger and those things. Those are other people.

And so, her lawyer is saying, look, separate her out, let us try this case. I think in the motion, it actually says, we can try this case in three days, and makes the statement and the assertion that at the end of those three days, the court would have to find her not guilty as a matter of law. So, she's just removing herself, I think, from the bigger, I guess, hornet's nest of the defendants by making those assertions.

COATES: Enter the 10-foot pole, right, that sometimes Washington, D.C. can extend to people. But only in this universe that we are presently in would somebody charged with RICO and defrauding and all the different aspects be just a slice of the overall pie.

Chris Timmons, Michael Moore, we're looking to talk to you, guys, again especially because tomorrow, I think, is going to be the deadline for the Mark Meadows case in terms of additional filings. I wonder what will happen there. Thank you both.

MOORE: Thank you very much.

TIMMONS: Thank you very much. Appreciate your time.

COATES: Well, a judge is throwing the book at Rudy Giuliani today. Why? And just how much might he be asked to pony up, next.


COATES: On the docket tonight, Rudy Giuliani found liable in a defamation lawsuit brought by two Georgia election workers. Now, you might remember their names, Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Shaye Moss. Giuliani repeatedly called them, falsely, ballot-stuffing criminal conspirators. And tonight, Ruby Freeman's attorney is speaking to CNN. Listen.


MICHAEL GOTTLIEB, ATTORNEY FOR SHAYE MOSS AND RUBY FREEMAN: This is a significant milestone. It is a finding of liability on every count of our claims that we brought in this lawsuit. And so, it is a significant validation of what they have been saying since day one, which is that they were unfairly and improperly targeted for just doing their job


COATES: Let's go right to CNN political commentator Errol Louis, CNN senior political commentator Scott Jennings, and former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti. I'm so glad that you're all here.

Just put this into context for a second, Renato, because Giuliani lost this case in part because he failed to produce subpoenaed evidence. He said he struggled to even maintain his own access to his electronic records.

And you have to wonder, given that a couple weeks ago, he conceded in some respect that he'd had and made false statements, why would he go about this default in this way? Because he risks losing millions, if damages, of course, are assessed. Why would he be so concerned about testifying in this matter as well, perhaps?

RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, if he testifies in this manner, all of that can be used against him. He's really in between a rock and a hard place here, because the underlying factual issues here co-overlap with the Atlanta Fulton County criminal case that was just charged, that you're just talking about a moment ago.

And so, he either has to take the Fifth, which obviously would already (INAUDIBLE) him in this case, or he would have to go forward and testify and have testimony that can be used against him. So, he's in a very difficult position. And as you mentioned, regarding discovery, I think he really thumbed his nose at this whole process.

Judge Howell, I think, made the correct finding that if you're not producing discovery, you're not taking this process seriously, treating these women like any other litigant and taking them seriously, then, obviously, you're going to have to pay the price for that.

COATES: And in some respects, I think maybe he thought by conceding that he had made false statements. He would curry some favor with the judge and not have the book thrown at him. Well, clearly that was not the case and we're still waiting for what will be assessed as damages.

But interestingly enough, Errol, I mean, the judge also shot down -- speaking of money -- Giuliani's claims that he's having financial difficulties. One thing that she referenced, of course, what we all saw when he surrendered back in Fulton County, he showed up in a private jet. Not commercial.

He also listed his Manhattan apartment for six and a half million bucks. And we know that Trump is also helping to raise money for him. I think it's $100,000 a plate for a fundraiser coming up in September.

What do you make of the judge pointing to these, well, very obvious notions about money and Giuliani?


ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, part of what the former mayor said about why he didn't comply with his discovery obligations was that he didn't have the money to really undertake a proper search for the documents that he really had to turn over.

The judge didn't really buy it. Judge Howell suggested that, first of all, he did -- does appear to have some assets. And secondly, that it appeared to be a strategic lack of discovery rather than something that's really compelled.

I would only mention, though, that Rudy Giuliani really is in serious financial straits. I mean, he can't practice law in New York nor in D.C. He doesn't have any clients to speak of. He is spending a lot of money to fight against a lot of these different cases. And he's gotten almost no help from Donald Trump.

And so, I know for a fact, as a matter of fact, I mean, sources told me that private plane he showed up in Atlanta on was donated by somebody who likes the mayor. It was kind of a gesture on his behalf. And certainly, he's going to try and make money any way he can. But putting up your $6 million apartment is not a sign of wealth. I mean, in this case, that's where he actually lives. And so, I think he's really had quite a tumble.

COATES: We will see what else happens there. I mean, Scott, to you, Giuliani -- I mean, the substance of what he was accused of doing. I mean, he accused these two women of acting suspiciously. They're passing around, I think, mints or candy, but he said they were passing around USB sticks, that they were -- quote -- "vials of heroin or cocaine." That's a quote. And that also was a lie.

I want you to listen for a second to what Freeman said about how that lie impacted her life.


FREEMAN: There is nowhere I feel safe, nowhere.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COATES: When you think about the damages that could amount to millions, perhaps, of dollars, they were shaken, their lives were threatened. You think about how this plays out knowing that these are election workers, right?

We've got elections all around this country that are coming up, the presidential election, of course, individual states and jurisdictions and counties. This is going to really rock the core for some about, one, what it's like to be in their position and maybe deterrence for those who think that these sorts of things will go unnoticed.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, you're exactly right about our upcoming elections. I mean, our election systems are diffused, meaning we don't have a top-down system, and you have all these state and county and municipal-level jurisdictions that absolutely depend on people like these private citizens to show up and volunteer, basically, to run our elections.

And by the way, that's a good thing. It protects the system. And so, when you're out attacking them and when you're dragging these otherwise private people into the public domain and slandering them, I'm sure it has a chilling effect on the people who want to participate.

I think Giuliani is getting everything he deserves in this. When a powerful person with access to the media and access to communications channels that very few people have access to drags private citizens into that domain and does what he did, they deserve to be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.

These people did nothing wrong except show up and try to volunteer for their government to run an election. They should be commended for that, not have their lives turned upside down. You can never put the toothpaste back in the tube, I suppose, but at least maybe they can get some justice on the back end here.

COATES: I mean, yeah, you cannot ring the bells that have already been rung. I'll hear in this instance. The former Trump adviser, Peter Navarro, was in court today for a hearing on his contempt of Congress case. And while speaking to reporters outside of court, he actually clashed with a nearby protester. Listen -- watch this.




NAVARRO: Who's this? Come on.

UNKNOWN: No. You're already facing charges.

NAVARRO: Yeah, I get it.

UNKNOWN: Go ahead and commit a murder crime.

NAVARRO: So -- so -- uh.

UNKNOWN: We're sitting here the whole time. Situation is all over.

NAVARRO: Yes, okay.


COATES: I mean, the sign says Trump lost, and you know it. Renato, what was he thinking in that moment?

MARIOTTI: He was not thinking very clearly. I have to say Mr. Navarro exercised the bad, the same poor judgment that got him into this mess in the first place.

Look, you know -- look, this whole group of people that Trump had surrounding him by the end, whether it's Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, Mr. Navarro and others, they've all exercised poor judgment, Mr. Chesebro, they've all exercised poor judgment.

That's why they're in the situation that they're in. And I think they're increasingly desperate. And it's interesting. You know, you showed a moment ago Peter Navarro, you know, trying to basically assault a protester.


I really think that in many ways, what Rudy Giuliani did is very similar to same thing, desperate, basically trying to stonewall some election workers at a lawsuit. It's really beneath what any officer of a court should be doing, much less somebody who at one time was a celebrated attorney. And I think it's really a fitting and sad end to that group.

COATES: And sadly, just the beginning for the experiences of Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, which is why they were fighting back on all these matters. Errol, Scott, Renato, thank you so much.

LOUIS: Thank you.

JENNINGS: Thank you.

COATES: Well, they could be facing decades in prison. But you know what? We don't know yet. We'll tell you why two ex-Proud Boy leaders and their sentencing did not happen today.



COATES: We've got news on the sentencing of two defendants for their roles in the January 6th attack on the Capitol. The hearings for two leaders of the far-right Proud Boys have now been rescheduled after the judge canceled today's proceedings because of a medical issue. That's according to multiple sources.

Enrique Tarrio and Ethan Nordean, both of whom are convicted of seditious conspiracy over their efforts to stop Joe Biden from becoming president in the wake of the 2020 election, they'll be sentenced later on this week and also early next week, apparently.

Nordean sentencing is scheduled for Friday at 2 p.m. while Tarrio, the former Proud Boys chairman, will be sentenced next Tuesday at 2:00. Now, the prosecutors have asked the judge to sentence Tarrio to 33 years in prison and Nordean to 27 years in prison.

According to the DOJ, in the 28 months since January 6th, more than a thousand individuals have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol. That includes more than 320 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement. The investigation remains ongoing.

I want to thank you all for watching. Our coverage continues.