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CNN Tonight

Search Expands For Escaped Murderer; First Hearing Tomorrow In Georgia Election Case; Biden Campaign Launched New Economy-Focused Ad; Alex Murdaugh Demands For A New Trial. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired September 05, 2023 - 23:00   ET



ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: And that's it for me in "CNN Primetime." "CNN Tonight" with Laura Coates starts right now. Laura?

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: You know, I've been to Graceland. I -- my mom was a big fan of this thing.

PHILLIP: I have not, actually.

COATES: You have to -- you have to -- first all, Tennessee, lovely area, Memphis included --


COATES: -- and Graceland, it was very -- they had a whole car thing. I'm not into cars, but I did taste all that -- wherever the peanut butter sandwich thing he had. One for me. One for me.

PHILLIP: That's not where I thought -- that's not where I thought this is going.

COATES: No. I mean, it came back to food. It's where it came back to.

PHILLIP: That's actually very wholesome, and I love it.

COATES: Well, good. It's a family show and a family hour, Abby Phillip. Thank you so much. Nice to see you.

COATES: Have a good -- you, too. Have a good show, Laura.

COATES: Well, good evening, everyone. I'm Laura Coates. Welcome to "CNN Tonight." Our breaking news, look, we are now six days into the manhunt and the community is on high alert tonight as the search expands now for that escaped murderer in Pennsylvania, Danelo Cavalcante, who was sentenced to life without parole for stabbing his girlfriend to death in front of her two young children.

He has been now caught on security cameras at Longwood Gardens, the popular tourist spot with many hiking trails through the woods including, by the way, one that loops around the very prison he broke out of Thursday morning.

The D.A. has also now released video from a home security camera from over this past weekend. Law enforcement is now warning residents again tonight, keep your doors locked, keep your cars locked. At least one nearby school district will be closed for the second day in a row tomorrow as police are urgently hunting for the extremely dangerous fugitive who -- well, he's got absolutely nothing to lose.

Also, a chilling near miss. What happened when one resident woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of someone -- he thinks it was Cavalcante -- someone downstairs in his own home? Well, now, police are urging anybody who has information to call their tip line at 1- 877-WANTED2 or 1-877-926-8332.

Plus, "Tomorrow's News Tonight" gets you ahead of the game. There's a major hearing in that sprawling Georgia election subversion case. And now, we're just a few hours away. And it could tell us a lot about whether all 19 of these defendants in this fancy yearbook photo, will they be tried together? And if so, when might that happen? And did I mention the hearings are expected to be televised? Remember. It's state court after all. We'll tell you what to watch out for in the hearing tomorrow.

We also got some breaking news tonight, a late court filing from none other than Special Counsel Jack Smith. He is accusing former President Trump of what he calls are daily statements that threaten to prejudice the jury in the federal election subversion case right out in Washington, D.C.

And he was convicted of the brutal murders of his own wife and son a few months ago. You may remember Alex Murdaugh. Well, he is now demanding a brand-new trial amid accusations of jury tampering and by a court official, no less. The big question tonight, what happens now?

I want to bring in our breaking news tonight with the urgent manhunt for a convicted murderer, Danelo Cavalcante, escaped from a Pennsylvania prison just six days ago.

Joining me now is Robert Clark, a supervisory deputy of the U.S. Marshals Service. I'm so glad that you're here tonight, Robert, because look, this is day six. We have been following this case all along. And the big question people, of course, are asking is, how did it happen in the first place? But now, how has he been able to evade capture, you think, over six days?

ROBERT CLARK, SUPERVISORY DEPUTY, U.S. MARSHALS SERVICE: Hey, good evening, Laura. Thank you for having me this evening. It's an interesting question. How has he been able to evade capture for six days? You have to remember, when he escaped into the woods, it was a large area, it was a mile and a half to two-mile radius that we were searching, and we kept getting tip after tip and sending people into woods that are very thick.

The foliage is very thick over here. There's a lot of ravines, a lot of tall fields, a lot of grass, a lot of hiding spaces for a guy that's five foot, 120 pounds. So, for the first five days, we focused our search area, specifically in a certain section up here in Pocopson. We got a break last night that Cavalcante was caught on a camera, on a trail camera, just south of where we were searching. So, today, we brought in more resources, and we refocused our search efforts in a different area in hopes that perhaps we can flush him out in this new search grid.

This is a dangerous game of tactical hide and seek. And it takes time. It takes time. These wooden searches are nothing new to the Pennsylvania State Police, to the U.S. Marshal Service, but they take time.


COATES: A very important point. And the word "danger" pops out for so many people because you're talking about somebody who has already been sentenced. He is not accused of the crime. He has been convicted of it. He is not awaiting sentencing. He has been sentenced now to life without parole.

That might translate to a lot of people as exponentially more dangerous now that he has nothing to lose. The alternative, if he's captured, is a life behind bars. So, expanding that perimeter and trying to search for him, how does that factor into your calculus of what he might be willing to do if he is found by your team?

CLARK: Well, we are taking no chances with Mr. Cavalcante. Everybody has been warned of his criminal history. We're treating him as armed and dangerous even though nothing suggests that he's presently armed due to his criminal history, due to the violent nature of his crime, and due to the fact that he also has an open homicide warrant in Brazil.

So, not only does he have the homicide here and the conviction, he also has an open homicide in Brazil. So, this is a dangerous, dangerous man. He's got nothing to lose. But I can tell you this, his desperateness will not outlast the resolve of our law enforcement officers here. We just have probably now a couple 100 officers up here.

The Pennsylvania State Police have incident command. They're doing a fabulous job controlling the boots on the ground. The Marshal Service has our investigators here, some of the best in the country. And we're going to prove once again why we're the best at finding people that won't -- that don't want to be found.

COATES: So, what happens when you find them? Do you have orders in terms of how to bring him in or is there a directive to bring him in regardless of his state?

CLARK: Well, when we find him, we're going to bring him in and make sure that he goes to a secure facility. I don't want to reveal where he's going to go, but he's going to be brought in and place in a secure facility where he's not going to be able to break out again. I can assure you that.

COATES: So, the suggestion is that he's not going back to where he already broke out of?

CLARK: He may be processed there, Laura, I'm not sure, but ultimately, we're going to find the most secure facility around here for him, whether that's the same facility or perhaps another state facility. I'm not in the decision making for that. I'm more involved in the future investigations. So, that decision is going to be left up to somebody else, the district attorney's office and perhaps the county detectives here.

COATES: I understand one of the phrases I've been hearing a lot of is that the goal is in the strategy with all the resources to -- quote, unquote -- "try to stress Cavalcante." What does that strategy look like to try to stress that? I know you've already had, I think, um, audio of his own mother speaking in Portuguese, trying to Lure him in essentially to the custody of the officer searching for him. But what is that stress test of sorts looked for in the strategy of how to get him?

CLARK: So, the idea of stressing him came from Colonel Bivens of the Pennsylvania State Police who has incident command, and I fully agree with his decision. We plan to stress him, we plan to move him, we plan to have him make mistakes, which he has already made now. He has appeared on camera two times.

And by stressing, we mean we're going to get boots in the woods, we're going to let him know we're there, we're going to leave no rock unturned, we're going to check every little hiding spot, and should we miss him, we're going to go back in again the next day and try to keep him moving.

One of the tactics we did use, like you mentioned earlier, was we elicited a statement from his mother. And she said, essentially, we love you, do the right thing, turn yourself in, we don't want to see you get hurt. And that was broadcast to him over a loudspeaker from the Pennsylvania State Police helicopter and some of our patrol cars.

So, we're trying to use some of that psychology maybe that if he is tired and he's desperate and he's thinking about maybe giving up, maybe this will put him over the edge so we can get a peaceful surrender.

COATES: Robert Clark, thank you so much. We'll follow along.

CLARK: Thank you for having me, Laura. Appreciate it.

COATES: I want to bring in CNN chief law enforcement analyst John Miller and former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe. You both heard the conversation just now and the idea of stressing him, trying to basically circle the wagon, so to speak, and try to use even psychological tactics to try to get him to peacefully surrender. That phrase, of course, takes in my crop (ph) because this is a man who has already been sentenced life without the possibility of parole, I believe.

John, when you hear about these mistakes that are being alluded to, these at least, I think, five now credible sightings of this man, one man says he thinks he was actually in his home late Friday. Listen to what that man had to say.


RYAN DRUMMOND, POCOPSON TOWNSHIP RESIDENT: Woke up my wife, I said, hey, I think there might be somebody downstairs. You know, get on -- get on the phone.


What I decided to do was flip the light switch on and off, you know, three or four or five times, pause, and then he flipped the light switch from downstairs three or four times, which was the moment of, like, oh, my God, this guy is down there.


COATES: John, what is that interaction signal to you?


COATES: Uh-hmm.

MILLER: The idea of communicating in Morse code through your light switches with a burglar. But I think, essentially, um, the homeowner flashed the lights to say is someone there, and he flashed the lights back to say yeah and stay out of my way.

He's a desperate man. He's looking for clothing. He's looking for food. He may be looking for a cell phone or something that would be a good tool but more urgently, he may be looking for a weapon, whether that's a knife, weapon he used in his last two homicides or whether it's a gun. You know, he's in an area that kind of skirts between rural area woodlands, farmlands, and suburban tracts of houses.

So, if you look at the sightings they've had, a lot of these have been at night where he has been kind of tracking the edges between woodlands and backyards where he's looking for that opportunity to get in somewhere, get some food, get some clothes, maybe get some cash, whatever he can.

COATES: You know, I'm for some reason thinking, that light flashing scene, wasn't that in -- wasn't that what we call parasite? Wasn't there a scene when they were -- I don't want to do a spoiler for when there was a scene where the person who was living within the home wasn't supposed to be using a kind of light Morse code. Forgive me, I'm thinking about the movies in this instance because a lot of this --

MILLER: With the guy in the basement.

COATES: Right. You remember that it reads a lot like what's happening. This doesn't seem real. But in fact, Andrew McCabe, it is real. He has been quite brazen, it seems. He has been spotted. He's not exactly hiding in cover of darkness, although a lot of the camera footage we've seen, he has been sort of in the darkness. Does it surprise you that he is being so brazen while he's on the run?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Uh, not at all. Not at all. Right? So, we -so that interaction between the homeowner and who we believe is the subject we're looking for, I mean, that is the moment that we've all been kind of afraid of. Right?

When this desperate man, this desperate murderer, who has no ability to communicate, he's got no transportation, very little food, just the clothes on his back, no shelter, he is forced to break into a house to steal the things he needs, and he confronts a homeowner, like that is the moment when this situation could turn incredibly violent, and he is certainly somebody who has exhibited a propensity to go in that direction.

So, I think we're all incredibly lucky, and certainly that homeowner and his family is, that it didn't go that way. But that could happen at any moment in any one of these days that this search continues. It seems that he is moving at night and probably laying low during the day, which would be the smart way to do it, but he has got to keep repeating this activity of trying to supply himself with sustenance and some level of shelter.

It is a very wooded area with large homes on large pieces of property surrounded by woodlands and manicured lawns and things like that. So, there's plenty of places for him to hide. The simple fact that he was able to get beyond their announced perimeter into kind of the next section south of that area tells you that his sense of movement has not been impeded yet.

I think they're doing the right thing in flooding the area with personnel to try to kind of pen him in. But so far, that has been unsuccessful.

COATES: I mean, the schools are closing in the area. This is somebody, by the way, based on the crime he was convicted of, committed a homicide, a brutal one, in front of children. And with the lack of sleep, with the stress factors that might be at play here, the danger could grow exponentially.

John, there are about 200 to 250 personnel on the ground who are now searching for him. As they're talking about closing that perimeter, and he was just south of one, they're talking about the psychology that they're trying to use now, including his own mother's voice over audio that's being broadcast in the areas they believe him to be in, hoping that might lead to a peaceful surrender. What do you make of the psychology now involved in trying to get him to surrender?

MILLER: I think the psychology is they know that at some point, he's going to run out of gas. He's going to run out of the ability to stay awake, the ability to go with little food. And they want to make sure he does run out of gas by the message they keep sending him, which is it'll just be easier to surrender peacefully. Listen to us. If not us, listen to your mother.

And remember who's doing this, Laura. Rob Clark, the guy you were just talking to, is not just a deputy U.S. Marshal. He's the head of the Philadelphia Regional Fugitive Task Force. This is what he does for a living.


He and his team are man hunters. They are extraordinarily expert in this field. You've got George Bivens from the state police, who he mentioned. You know, George was the guy behind the hunt for Durham, who escaped in July from the Warren County Jail. More notably, you know, he was key in the 48-day, $12 million hunt for Eric Frein, which ended in a giant shootout where a trooper was sadly tragically killed.

This team, they know what they're doing and they know how to do this. And, you know, it's taking longer than they would like, but a day is longer than they want it. So, I have a lot of confidence that they are going to get this done in the relative soon.

COATES: John Miller, Andrew McCabe, thank you. It may just be a matter of time. Thank you both.

We've got some breaking news tonight on another of the criminal cases against former President Donald Trump. This one is in D.C. right here. Next, we'll tell you exactly why Special Counsel Jack Smith says that Trump is threatening to -- quote -- "prejudice the jury pool even before one has been chosen." What could that mean for trial? I'll tell you.



COATES: All right, a crucial hearing is just now hours away in Fulton County, Georgia. Judge Scott McAfee saying that today the hearing tomorrow he will address scheduling for the trial in the Georgia election subversion case. It's all happening tomorrow. The question is whether or not the case should be broken up. Remember, there are 19 defendants, after all.

Joining me now to discuss all of this and what it could mean for the trial, national security attorney Bradley Moss and Jamil Jaffer, former associate White House counsel to one president, George W. Bush, everyone. Glad you guys are here. This has been on my brain all day. Well, thank you for over a month at this point in time.


Nineteen defendants, um, all at once, she intended to try them together, within six months, Fani Willis said. many lawyers chuckled not because it wasn't possible to do so, but just thinking about the logistics here. This is a time when we don't even know if Mark Meadows is actually a part of the entire thing yet. Is it practical to think this could actually be a trial with 19 people in a courtroom not broken up?

BRADLEY MOSS, NATIONAL SECURITY ATTORNEY: I think it's very unlikely at this point, and not just because of Mark Meadows. You've also got Jeff Clark. You've also got speedy trial requests from Ken Chesebro and from Sidney Powell. You've got any number of pre-trial fights that Donald Trump is going to bring. You've got Rudy Giuliani's likely challenges over information. This is going to be a logistical mess.

And so, what will be interesting to see tomorrow, one of the things the judge asked, Fani Willis, to be prepared for is, if you were to do all 19, how much time would you realistically need? It's not happening in October for all 19. I'm sorry, there's just no way it's going to be happening.

COATES: By the way, not everyone wants it. I mean, to your point about speedy trial, I mean, it can work. If the prosecutor said it was only up to her, maybe it could, right? But it's not. It's also the defendants who can say, I want to go fast. And others are saying, I don't want to hear anything about October and nothing about 2023.

JAMIL JAFFER, FORMER ASSOCIATE WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL TO GEORGE W. BUSH, FOUNDER: No, that's exactly right. The president has made clear that he doesn't want this trial to go forward anytime soon and he's going to do everything he can to throw sand in the gears, the former president, and slow this thing down and make motions and try to get, you know, appeals rolling. He's going to have a very hard time doing that, but he will try and throw everything he can at that.

Now, I think this whole Chesebro move and Sidney Powell seeking a rapid trial, speedy trial, is going to cause problems as well because now that they've moved forward, they have to have their trial done under Georgia law or begin by a date certain in early November. That means that at least some part of this is going to roll out. That means that evidence is going to be in front of a jury pool, in front of the American public regardless what Donald Trump wants or doesn't want in terms of his timing.

COATES: Because it's televised, right? I mean, that's, as my father always says, revolution will be televised. That's not what he means. He's talking about this, of course, although maybe revolution will be televised. I just don't know.


But when it comes to this actual trial, it will, in fact, be televised. And you're right, the jury pool will be impacted by what they're seeing. And can you -- I've had multiple co-defendant cases. You know what happens when one is not there? They go, look who's not here, and they point to the empty seat and say, aha, that's who really did it.

So, if you're Trump, if you're anyone going after the original people who might go first, are you kind of nervous?

MOSS: Yeah, because with this trial, if this happens in late October, early November with Chesebro and with Sidney Powell, it's going to be basically a preview of everything that will come out eventually in the trial of Donald Trump. Fani Willis will be able to bring out any number of those witnesses.

She doesn't have to bring out all of them because these two people aren't part of the entire conspiracy. They're parts of pieces of it. But she'll be able to try out any number of those individuals and show it on live television.

There'll be O.J, you know, exploded exponentially in terms of media coverage and it'll all play out just as we're slowly getting, you know, closer and closer to the first primaries and first caucuses.

COATES: You know, if it's like O.J., everyone thinks about O.J and think about walking or driving behind following the white Bronco. I remember O.J. as like a months-long (INAUDIBLE), right? An hours-long of having people answer questions, even qualify to be jurors. And that was a case that was -- I mean, captured the national attention. But this might even be more known to some degree.

Let's just play for a second, fellas. What if it is broken up? How is it broken up? I mean, are you looking along who has similar charges? Is it who are the lawyers versus everyone else? Is it the state employees versus everyone? How is that broken down?

JAFFER: Well, look, at a minimum, right, you got to get these two speedy trial requests dealt with and moving at the beginning, right? Now, who else comes along with that, I think is a hard question, right? But you can also divide this up in a variety of ways. You laid out a couple, right? I think at the end of the day, what the way this plays out is, Fani Willis could try to get as many of these done as she can as quickly as possible.


She wants to get her evidence out there. She wants to put it on the table, get some convictions in the books, so everyone else starts flipping and ultimately turns the points of the finger at the former president.

COATES: I mean, is it harder though? This is a RICO case. So, her whole thing is this is one big criminal enterprise. I can imagine if she's trying to build that, you want everyone to be in the room where it's happening. You want to be able to say, here are all the people now. The Georgia Dome is not available, I don't think, for this trial, but you want them conceptually to be around for this moment.

If that's the case, I mean, does this actually -- if it doesn't go all together, is her case undermined?

MOSS: I don't think so because she can still do the various overt acts that she outlines in the indictment. Through any number of witnesses that she can bring out, she can still show the larger overarching conspiracy and she can basically trot out and practice what she would ultimately put forward in a case against the former president.

She's going to get all these witnesses out there. They're going to deal with cross-examination. She'll see what worked and didn't work. And if they get the convictions, it's almost certain some people, some of these co-defendants will start to flip, seek deals. It will only put more pressure on Donald Trump.

COATES: This might explain in part why someone like Jack Smith said, I'll take one defendant, Alex, for 200, and I'll put him -- that was a jeopardy (ph) reference. It's too simple for me. That's fine. But then having it be in Washington, D.C. with one defendant. But now, they're in front of that judge, Judge Chutkan. And what they thought might happen, they're now saying in the filing tonight, in fact, has happened, that he is tampering with the jury pool, he's making extra judicial statements of some kind. We don't know all the details of it.

This, of course, Chutkan warned, could lead to an earlier trial date if true. But her ruling today was to have a hearing in the future and talk about how one posted on the docket. Where are we going with this?

JAFFER: Yeah. I mean, look, this is a whole train wreck of filings. So, apparently, the government this morning made some sort of a filing under seal referencing these sensitive materials, and they also made their filing to seal that filing. None of this is on the docket.

She granted their motion. And then all of a sudden comes sailing in from the right-hand side, the defendant saying, look, we didn't get a chance to object to this. So, she vacates order, lets them file a response, has a brief schedule, a short one, right, very quick one, but she has given them a chance to have a bite at the apple and said to everybody, look, you got to consult with the other side when you're making these filings.

So, it's clear that you've got to confer. Well, you have to at least say whether you did or did not confer, right? So, a little bit of a complicated procedure here. But at the end of the day, the point is she's going to move this thing along. She's going to give everybody a fair shot. But this thing is going. That March 4th date is still on the books.

COATES: Some people ask how long -- how many bites once you get the apple if you are -- if you theoretically intimidating witnesses or tampering with the jury pool.

MOSS: Part of it here, let's be honest, is it's Donald Trump and he's a former president. The government is going to give him every benefit of the doubt here. The judge is going to push, you know, going to hold back on taking any action because no one wants to be that person sanctioning, gagging, censoring a former president.

But what will be interesting to see once we finally see whatever this underlying motion was and this was all motions about talking about a discussion about a discussion, what was it that they were bringing up? What was the relief they were seeking? And if it was, in fact, related to his post, were they seeking some type of pretrial violation? That's what everyone wants to know right now.

COATES: Of course, little does everyone know that most of the laws about motion practice, everyone. Brad Moss, Jamil Jaffer, thank you so much. -And by the way, the reference was Gil Scott-Heron for all of you out there. I know my stuff. Thank you. See, daddy, I listen.

President Biden also now is going on the offensive with a multimillion-dollar ad campaign. Will it win him more support with the election on the horizon? We'll talk about it next.



COATES: Well, President Biden is going on offense now with $25 million ad push that's cutting his successes with messages focused squarely on, well, one, the jobs, and two, the economy like this ad set to air during the upcoming NFL opener this Thursday.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): Millions would lose their jobs and the economy would collapse. But this president refused to let that happen. Instead, he got to work fixing supply chains, fighting corporate greed, passing laws to lower the cost of medicine, cut utility bills, and make us more energy independent. Today, inflation is down to 3% on employment, the lowest in decades.


COATES: Well, I want to bring in CNN senior political commentator and former Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger. Also, with us is CNN political commentator Bakari Sellers. Good to see you both tonight, gentlemen.

I got to say, congresswoman, I'll begin with you, look, he's going all in on the economy on the NFL opener. Not sure people want to see that. Maybe they want to see Doritos commercials. I just don't really know.

But the truth of the matter is there's a new "Wall Street Journal" poll that finds only 37% of voters approve of his actual handling of the economy. He is out of slogan, right, Bidenomics. Can he actually win without turning that 37% number around?

ADAM KINZINGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, I think he has to the extent that anybody even cares about policy anymore. Who knows? But in terms of the economy, he has to start selling that story because -- look, the best thing you could say about Trump is he goes out and constantly talks about how great the economy was under him. He actually is one of the only presidents that left office with less jobs than what he came in with.


And look, I don't necessarily approve of democratic economic theory, but I will -- but I will say, I think Joe Biden has a pretty solid case to make. And he has to do it. He has to do it repeatedly. I hate that politics is starting this early. I mean, it doesn't stop anymore, but he really needs to be making this case. From a tactical perspective, I think he is doing the absolute right thing.

COATES: I was going to say, I mean, democracy can be kind of one long run on sentence at times between elections. Bakari, on that notion of trying to sell it, trying to convince people, I mean, is this as something as reductive as, look, the Democrats have got to be better on messaging, or is there something more here? I mean, the U.S. has seen inflation and unemployment drop during Biden's first term. They also saw some historic highs because of COVID disruption. So, the convincing part of things, how does he do a better job of convincing people to feel that things are getting better?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And I think that's the trick. And when you talk about things like inflation, you have to realize that what happened in the United States with inflation did not happen in a vacuum. It was a global problem that we saw the Inflation Reduction Act. We saw the infrastructure bill bipartisan, both pieces of legislation. We've seen Bidenomics actually work.

Now, this is not going to be a national election either. And so, Joe Biden has to sell this message in Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, those states which are going to drive the electoral college.

And even more specifically, he's going to have to drive this message to African American voters, particularly African American men and Hispanic voters because while criminal justice reform and all of these other things may be of what some of his white progressive vendors may tell him, we do know that economics matters to these subgroups as well. You have to drill down on, you know, pocketbook issues. And I believe he has a message to tell. He has a story to tell.

But I think Adam would agree with me on this point, that you can't tell that story from 1600 Pennsylvania. You literally have to get out on the road. You have to pound the pavement. You have to kiss the babies and shake the hands and do all of those things that politicians are notoriously known to do. And he's going to have to allow -- people around him are going to have to allow Joe Biden to be Joe Biden. That comes with faux pas and mistakes and all. But he's going to have to sell this message outside of D.C.

COATES: I mean, don't forget the pancake breakfast. That might be a very sickie baby kiss. But, you know, it's different. I'm not my thing about it. But listen, all that has to happen perhaps. But also, one big hurdle, of course, here, when you get to the policy aspect of it, and congressman, you know, in order to convince voters is one thing, but then it's getting voters to have their votes counted and how the districts are actually drawn such that it might be advantageous for you to do so or not.

You know, tonight, Alabama is appealing a decision from a federal court that blocked the state's congressional map after that state failed to create a second majority black district -- from the Supreme Court's order, by the way.

Why do you think Alabama is not following the court's instruction? I mean, is it a matter of, look, the Supreme Court just not respected in the same way or that they can time this out, game this out, and be able to get past the election?

KINZINGER: Let me first say I hated pancake breakfast.

(LAUGHTER) No offense to anyone I ever went to a pancake breakfast with. But the number of times I shook somebody's hand with syrup on it, honest to God, I'm like, I can't do them anymore.

COATES: The squelching sound. Oh, my God, I can't.

KINZINGER: Oh, yeah.

COATES: I'm with you.

KINZINGER: And you had to smile.


But no, on the redistricting thing, look, I think -- I think Alabama is just determined to run the clock here. You know, they like what, you know, will the Supreme Court going to send the police force in, the military? No, they're going to keep doing this.

And this is a scary thing, by the way. When we've gotten to where Donald Trump, frankly, has gotten us to a point where the rule of law is kind of minimized, it is now not a big deal to basically ignore a court order. And that's a frightening thing to me.

And so, look, I think there's got to be real -- I'll say redistricting reform in this country. Let's be honest, it's not going to happen anytime soon in most places. I'm a victim of it from the Democrats, by the way, twice. But yeah, I think you've got to follow through on what the courts say. They're just going to keep running the clock. This is really bad for democracy.

COATES: Bakari, what do you think? Not about syrup, please, but you know, unless you have a breakfast.

SELLERS: No, I actually missed the pancake breakfast, but I've been retired a long time. So, I believe that this goes back a good bit, maybe a decade or so, to Shelby. We begin to see the erosion of our democratic norms and values in the United States Supreme Court.

I think, again, Adam and I, we're probably agreeing too much for viewers liking here, but we get along for those who really want to know. But I think that we both would agree that you need non-partisan, non-elected officials to create these districts.


I mean, you have to have people who don't have an interest in going back to D.C. or going back to a state capital drawing these lines. And for a long period of time, you've had this unholy alliance between Black legislators and their Republican colleagues where they would take as many Black folks as they could into their districts and the Republican colleagues would gladly give them away.

And so finally, you have a Supreme Court who stood up and said not just in Alabama, but you're seeing cases like there's one in South Carolina going, you're seeing Louisiana going, where you have that opportunity to kind of reverse this trend, reverse these bad practices. And hopefully, the rule of law is not negotiable.

And hopefully, Alabama at some point in time will be able to draw this second district. I anticipate another one in Louisiana and the South Carolina redistricting cases meandering its way to the Supreme Court as well.

COATES: Adam Kinzinger, Bakari Sellers, we will have to leave it there. Thank you so much.

SELLERS: Thank you.

COATES: Speaking of, well, South Carolina, Alex Murdaugh, everyone, he was convicted a few months ago, you may remember, of murdering his own wife and his son. Guess what? He wants a new trial. I'll tell you why next.



COATES: Well, there's a new twist tonight in the Alex Murdaugh's case. His attorney is filing a motion today demanding a new trial on the grounds of alleged jury tampering. The motion now comes about six months after he was convicted in the 2021 murders of his wife Maggie and his son Paul.

Now, according to the filing, the clerk of the court, Rebecca "Becky" Hill, allegedly tampered with the jury by advising jurors not to believe Murdaugh's testimony. They're also alleging that she pressured the jury to reach a quick guilty verdict and claimed she misrepresented information to the judge in order to remove a juror.

Now, Murdaugh's attorneys claim that Hill did all these things. Why? Well, to secure herself a book deal, they say -- quote -- "in media appearances that would not happen in the event of a mistrial" -- unquote. Her book is called "Behind the Doors of Justice: The Murdaugh Murders." It was published in late July.

Now, lawyers were also saying that in the motion along with at least three sworn affidavits, including one from a juror and another from a dismissed juror. Earlier today, Murdaugh's attorneys explained how they say that book I just mentioned led to this new filing.


JIM GRIFFIN, ATTORNEY FOR ALEX MURDAUGH: In the aftermath of the verdict, we had received information that we needed to look into what happened in the jury room. Um, we started down that road, and we met a zone of silence. When the clerk of court wrote her book, published her book, that zone of silence collapsed.

And jurors were upset about that, the ones we talked with, and they were more than willing to come forward and tell us the things that we had sort of heard through a whisper campaign. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COATES: Well, CNN has reached out to Hill for comment, but is yet to hear back. For more on all of this, I want to bring in CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson. So good to see you, Joey. There's no one better to talk about this with tonight. But I want to get right into it for everyone. Listen to this motion. Okay? It actually cites the affidavit of juror number 630. Listen to what they said.

Quote -- "that she had told the jury not to be fooled by the evidence presented by Mr. Murdaugh's attorneys. She also allegedly instructed the jury to watch him closely immediately before he testified, including look at his actions and look at his movements, which understood they thought to mean that he was guilty."

So, if that's true, how shocking is this?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Disturbing, troubling, and outrageous. Good to be with you, Laura. Listen, you know better than anyone that the hallmark of democracy and the judicial process is a fair trial. Many watched the trial. Many were riveted by the trial, lasting six weeks in surprise, and perhaps none really surprised at a three-hour verdict.

But the reality is that you have to have a jury that is locked in on the evidence, making conclusions and drawing those conclusions on the evidence without any undue influence from the outside. And when that undue influence comes from an elected clerk, allegedly, it presents a significant problem.

So, I suspect that the judge will at a minimum hold an evidentiary hearing to determine whether there's any meat to these allegations. And if so, we could indeed see a new trial for Mr. Murdaugh, who we see there.

COATES: And by the way, the clerk they're talking about, the role of a clerk is not somebody who just has a ceremonial role, they could actually bend the ear of the judge. It's part of what they're talking about. They have contact with the jury often times as well.

Now, it's not just the judge looking at this, Joey. The South Carolina A.G. is also reviewing the motion. What do you think is happening in their office tonight?

JACKSON: Yeah, I think a number of things. I think first of all, they want to get a sense of whether or not there's any validity here, right? There certainly will need to be an investigation with respect to factually what this clerk was doing. As you noted, it's not just a clerk administratively. This is a clerk who has access to the jury, who apparently allegedly was speaking to the jury, who was giving them information that was in adverse to Mr. Murdaugh, who we see there.

And everyone has an opinion more about any given trial, but when you're an elected representative, certainly, you want to keep those opinions to yourself. And so, I think this motion needs to be responded to. It needs to be determined whether or not there's any basis in fact here and that's what evidentiary hearings are for.


But if in the event this is true, it's troubling. And it's not only the attorney general nor that's looking into this, but potentially the FBI as it relates to tampering and other allegations. So, I suspect they'll respond, that as prosecutors to this motion, the judge will evaluate it, the judge will call the parties in, the judge will have witnesses, and there'll be a determination as to whether there's any credibility here.

And if there is credibility, the law essentially says that, you know what, a new trial could indeed be ordered because that's how much we value the process of fairness in this country.

COATES: Joey Jackson's commentary always gets a chef's kiss, everyone. Thank you so much. Nice to see you, my friend.


JACKSON: You are so kind. Better to see you, Lord. Thank you so much.

COATES: Well, I'm telling you so much legal news tonight. I mean, the longest prison sentence yet has been handed down today, this time for a January 6th defendant. And it was for the former Proud Boys chairman, Enrique Tarrio. I'll tell you just how long he has been sentenced to behind bars.



COATES: Well, the one-time leader of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, well, he learned his fate today. He was sentenced to 22 years in prison for the conspiracy and leading a failed plot to prevent the transfer of power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden. His sentence is the longest so far for any of the January 6 defendants, though the DOJ had actually sought a sentence of 33 years.

Now, five other Proud Boys have also been sentenced, a time ranging from 10 to 18 years. Before he was sentenced, Tarrio begged for mercy and apologized for the pain and suffering that law enforcement, that legislators and others suffered on that date.

But the judge said he didn't really believe that Tarrio had shown any remorse and mentioned an interview he did recently, saying the Proud Boys did nothing wrong.

Thank you all for watching. Our coverage continues.