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CNN Tonight

Kevin McCarthy Unilaterally Orders Impeachment Inquiry into Biden; The Manhunt Is Heating Up; WI GOP Threatens To Impeach Liberal Justice; Aaron Rodgers Injured, Out For The Season. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired September 12, 2023 - 23:00   ET



DAVE GOTTLIEB, ATTORNEY: You know, I mean, in the newsroom, as Jim said, no Black managers, no Black copy editors, no full-time Black employees on the news desk. So, clearly, there is a systemic issue here. Abby, as you mentioned, we represent the coaches in the Brian Flores class action, and what's happening in that case right now is the NFL is attempting to force all those cases to arbitration before Roger Goodell. They want Roger Goodell to rule on whether there's discrimination in the league. So --


GOTTLIEB: -- clearly, there's discrimination there.

PHILLIP: All right, Jim Trotter and Dave Gottlieb, thank you both for joining us tonight.

GOTTLIEB: Thank you.


PHILLIP: And that's it for me here on "CNN Primetime." "CNN Tonight" with Laura Coates starts right now.

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Great discussion, Abby, as always. Thank you so much. And good evening, everyone. I'm Laura Coates, and welcome to "CNN Tonight."

Look, the manhunt is continuing. We're about two weeks, yes, almost two weeks in and it's continuing to heat up even tonight, and that escaped prisoner, now armed, is even more dangerous. So, what's going to happen tonight? We've got a live report with all of the ups and the minute developments coming up.

But I want to begin with Kevin McCarthy or shall I say Speaker McCarthy unilaterally ordering an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden even as Republicans have yet to actually prove any allegations that he directly profited from his son's foreign business deals, and it comes as the speaker is under enormous pressure from far-right members of his own party, readying to kick him out of the speakership if he does not move fast enough.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KEVIN MCCARTHY, SPEAKER, UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: These are allegations of abuse of power, obstruction and corruption, and they warrant further investigation by the House of Representatives. That's why today, I am directing our House committee to open a formal impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden. This logical next step will give our committee the full power to gather all the facts and answers for the American public.


COATES: So, first of all, I'm going to say inquiry, period, full stop. But you can pronounce it however you'd like, sir. You didn't think McCarthy's gavel was actually safe, did you? I mean, you couldn't have forgotten. We all were up to the crack of dawn watching him try to win the speaker's gavel. And after 15 rounds, of course, he in fact made it.

And here we are, everyone. We're nine months later and it seems that it's maybe time to pay the piper. So, how? Is it payback in the form of an impeachment inquiry? The question is, for what? Because I haven't actually heard the exact reason or the high crime and misdemeanor that would be required there. But McCarthy says that they can open an impeachment inquiry, anyway.


MCCARTHY: We would have to move to an impeachment inquiry, which you know, Larry, gives the apex of power to Congress when it comes to our subpoena power and others to get the documents we need, the bank statements, the credit card statements and others. Show us where the money went. Show us where you're taking money from outside sources.


COATES: It took everything I had not to say show me the money, a la Jerry Maguire just now. But the question is, of course, why? Why do you want an inquiry? To get information to see if you should ultimately consider impeachment? What kind of information are we talking about here?

Well, let's not try to guess. It's the Biden financial records, which to me is more like a subpoena of sorts, isn't it? The real question everyone was asking, of course, is, can you actually use the impeachment inquiry process as a vehicle to get that information? That's the only way to get what you are trying to get.

Let's ask the former Republican congressman, Joe Walsh. Joe is also the host of "White Flag," the podcast. Also, May Mailman, former Trump White House associate counsel, is here. She is the vice president for Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections. And CNN legal analyst and former House judiciary special counsel in Trump's first impeachment trial, of course, Norm Eisen, is here.

Look, first of all, again, we're all old enough to remember and young enough to remember, a high crime and misdemeanor was the phrase of the day for two impeachments in as many years. Now it's about the inquiry trying to get information alone. And a lot of people think, isn't that what a subpoena is for? Now the Republicans will say, look, we've tried a lot of ways to get this, and we're going this route. But can you use the impeachment process, Norm, to do this?

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Number one, you can't unlock those special impeachment superpowers by Kevin McCarthy having a press conference and declaring. It's like Donald Trump's magical declassification authority just by thinking it. Just by saying it, Kevin McCarthy doesn't get that. It's black letter law that you have to have. Joe knows this from his time --


EISEN: -- in the House, and May knows it from working in the Trump White House.


You've got to have that vote. We, in the impeachment I worked on, were forced to do that. Number two, the problem is that they've looked and they've looked. It's gone on for years. We looked when we were doing the impeachment at the Hunter Biden business dealings with Ukraine. There is absolutely no evidence after all that looking of any impropriety. So, there's no legal basis and there's no factual basis.

WALSH: Laura, I served with McCarthy. Listening to him speak, he doesn't believe a word he said.

COATES: You don't think so?

WALSH: Not a word. He doesn't want to do this. He doesn't want to go down this road. Look, they signaled this when they got control of the House. They said these two years would be nothing but retribution for how they believed Donald Trump was treated. So, we knew this was coming. McCarthy has no choice. And I know, Laura, we go after Marjorie Taylor Greene and the handful of crazies. It's bigger than that. The Republican Party base is demanding this impeachment.

MAY MAILMAN, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE ASSOCIATE COUNSEL: Well, but I don't think it's necessarily for the wrong reasons. I don't think that Republicans have a desire for every single year, every single month, every single week for there to be an impeachment.

I can tell you Republicans do not want President Kamala Harris, right? But I think that there is this fear that if only Democrats unlock the impeachment power for a way that we think was unwarranted and there's never any response, Republicans continue to say, I think there should be a higher bar, I think there should be a higher bar, then what you'll always get is one side bringing the impeachment and never the other.

And so, in order to end the madness, to stop, to raise the bar for everyone, there has to be recognition. You get in the mud, we're getting in the mud. And once we have that recognition, if you do it, we do it, then maybe, maybe the bar can be raised for everybody. COATES: Well, I have to say, there's a lot of mud, and people all look dirty in Washington, D.C. President company excluded. But I will say, if it really is just purely the tit for tat, and I want to focus on what I find most interesting about this, not just the idea of whether an impeachment is retaliatory or promised, we knew that was going to happen in a minute.

And frankly, Democrats were concerned and should have been concerned that if you have impeachments back to back, you dilute a little bit of the power of that shock value of what's happening. But using the inquiry for the purpose of getting information is the issue to me. I mean, if there is warranted or not reasons, is this the only way you can get the info?

EISEN: He shot himself in the foot in court because what's going to happen now? He has signaled he wants Biden family records, he wants personal bank statements, he wants credit card statements, he wants other documents, maybe accounting documents, tax returns. There's going to be a fight over that.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

EISEN: And you're going to go to court. And this is where I disagree with my friend, May. We're both part of that wonderful family of White House counsel graduates, but I have to disagree.

COATES: Is there a reunion or no?


A picnic?

MAILMAN: But I actually agree with Norm on his legal point. So, I think that if I'm a Republican seeking information and I've got a choice, I can either say impeachment inquiry gave me the power or I can say a legislative purpose. I'm trying to figure out whether there's DOJ in proprietary. And so, I'd like to see those bank statements, I'd like to know what DOJ knows. That is a valid legislative purpose, and I think you've got a really strong case for a subpoena in court.

If you say magic impeachment power without a vote, it is the Trump DOJ that said, no, no, no. You need -- you know, as I think this entire panel agrees, in order to unlock some sort of special power, you need the vote.

EISEN: OLC memo. Trump -- you guys got it.


COATES: Office of Legal Counsel. We're not all lawyers in America. Office of Legal Counsel. Go ahead.

EISEN: In the Trump counsel's office, they got this memo that delineates this boundary. And by McCarthy basically saying, I'm doing the impeachment in order to get the records, instead of saying -- and this is where I disagree, in the first impeachment, you had Donald Trump shaking down the president of Ukraine with hundreds of millions of dollars dangling if you'll attack his opponent. You can't compare that to zero evidence of Biden wrongdoing.

The second Trump impeachment was the January 6 issues where Donald Trump is now being criminally prosecuted federally and state. So, this is not a tit for tat. You know who's doing tit for tat? Donald Trump because he has tweeted, you guys need to impeach because they're coming after me.

COATES: But you know what, you're saying no evidence. Part of what Congressman Matt Gaetz spoke about on our airways earlier today, frankly, about these issues, was that the evidence seems to be out there. He talked to my colleague, Abby Phillip, earlier. Listen to what he had to say about the nature of the communications between Hunter Biden and prospective business clients, et cetera, and that proximity to power.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): Calling into the meetings. Abby, are you actually --

PHILLIP: Congressman --

GAETZ: -- trying to tell your viewers that you don't believe --

PHILLIP: Congressman --

GAETZ: -- that Joe Biden was involved in Hunter Biden's business deals?


PHILLIP: Congressman, it is not about --

GAETZ: It's a hard case.

PHILLIP: It's not about what I believe. It's about whether there is evidence that President Biden is linked to the misdeeds that might be linked to Hunter Biden. That's the issue. But I want to get back. I do want to --

GAETZ: That was it. It's tortured.

PHILLIP: No. I mean --

GAETZ: Come on. He was -- hold on. Can you just acknowledge that when he calls into the business deals that he's involved?

PHILLIP: No, no, no. This is not --

GAETZ: When he calls into the dinners, you don't think that's involvement?

(END VIDEO CLIP) COATES: So, the issue though here, Joe, I mean, you think about the involvement of it. It sounds like Congressman Matt Gaetz, I'm not going to speak for him, he can articulate for himself, but it sounds like his issue fundamentally is, I want to get information. The impeachment inquiry is some way to do so. Are you buying that?

WALSH: No, because they're starting with impeachment --

COATES: And working backwards.

WALSH: -- and then let's go find the evidence. We have to impeach Joe Biden. Now, give me a minute, Laura, now we're going to go look for the evidence. They've got it utterly backwards. And again, this is based, I believe, on a promise that the base is demanding because of how Trump was treated. And it is, again, it's no tit for tat. What Trump did was there, it happened, and then you impeached.

MAILMAN: Well, my thought always with President Trump is, is he an evil genius really trying to, like, do Ukraine policy in this very sneaky way or is he just, like, rambling about? And for me, it's always rambling about. But that's Trump.


If we're talking about, you know, Joe Biden here --

WALSH: Take it easy, Norm. I know --


EISEN: I'm ready. I'm ready.


WALSH: Keep going, May.

MAILMAN: You know, with the Joe Biden situation, I know that the statement kind of that people are saying is there is no evidence. And maybe what people are looking for is an actual bank statement, like Joe Biden deposited it and it said, for bribery. Right? You never, I don't think, can actually get that. So, what you're going to have is a lot of circumstantial evidence, which is evidence.

Circumstantial evidence is evidence where -- well, you do have $20 million coming to the Biden family for what? Why is Hunter Biden getting paid $83,000? Why was Joe Biden calling into these things? And maybe that is evidence light or whatever, but it's not nothing.

EISEN: You know where you get that evidence?

COATES: It's a question.

EISEN: You know where you get that evidence? With Donald Trump's unconstitutional payments from foreign governments, millions of dollars in emoluments that poured into him. Jared Kushner still is collecting. He's doing business deals with the Saudis. I talked to Matt Gaetz all the time when I was counsel and he was a staff of -- he was a member of the House Judiciary Committee. They did nothing where you had the actual receipts of the money coming in.

So, the naked hypocrisy here, when after years of looking, when did we do the Ukraine impeachment? 2019. It's 2023. Four years of looking, they have not shown that a single penny hit Joe Biden's bank account. This is offensive, it is ridiculous, it is debasing impeachment, and it is revenge. Nothing more.

COATES: You know what it is? It's time for a break.


COATES: I mean, I do have some popcorn in the green room. Go pop that for me. I'm going to be right back on this. Joe Walsh, thank you. May Mailman, Norm Eisen, thank you so much.

Everyone, new tonight, new tonight, Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis has made another push to hold one trial next month for all 19 defendants in the Georgia election subversion case. That's according to a new court filing provided to CNN.

The judge in the case is still weighing, of course, a proposal and is expected to issue a decision in the coming days. Remember, last time, he did it that very day. Well, the same hold true here. He has already expressed heavy skepticism over holding one joint trial, and I repeat, next month in October.

And up next, he's armed and he's dangerous and he's on the run, everyone. We're going to go live to Pennsylvania for the latest on the manhunt for that escaped murderer.



COATES: You know, I want to get right to the manhunt tonight because little did I know when we first reported about a prison break in Pennsylvania that, well, nearly two weeks later, he would still be on the run. And a man who we already knew was extremely dangerous is now armed and dangerous.

But the question is not just, where is he? I'm also asking, how in the world we got here? For example, why was an undocumented Brazilian national wanted for murder in Brazil still here? Why was he still at that facility instead of being transferred maybe to a state prison to serve his life sentence?

We all saw the crab walk. You remember that parkour moment that wasn't even tested. Seemed as though he knew exactly what he was doing. I see that, but then what happened next? I know that a tower guard was fired but was he the only and the last line of defense at this facility? And by the way, who else is housed in this very place that we now know is prone to escapes? And who is protecting the victim's family? Remember this woman? She was killed in front of her own two little children. Now, I actually tried to find out how many prison escapes there have been this year nationwide. But, you know, there's no centralized database and source for that information. So, no real way of knowing just how many times this has happened throughout the country unless maybe you get a reverse 911 call in your area.

Is there a staffing issue? Should we solve that problem? Can we solve that problem? I mean, they absolutely have to find this man. But then, they've got to find out the answers to the rest of the questions.

I want to bring in Brian Todd. He's live for us right now in Pennsylvania tonight. Brian, he is now armed and dangerous, and there are new developments tonight as well. What's going on?


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Laura, I can tell you that if Danelo Cavalcante is on the move right now and this is usually the time of night when he is on the move, that he is carrying a 22-caliber rifle with a scope and a flashlight on it. That gives him possibly an advantage. He could set up an ambush.

These teams behind me are coming through this area of the search perimeter behind me. He could be not far away from here, kind of trying to find his next target. This entire sequence of him getting that rifle has changed the game in this manhunt.

It began -- this new sequence began at about 8 p.m. Eastern time last night when a motorist drove past on a road not far from here and saw him crouching by the side of the road as she drove past. When she doubled back to try to get another look at him, he had vanished.

About two hours later, about 10 p.m. Eastern time, police got a call about shots fired. Danelo Cavalcante had gone to a garage, bolted in, picked up the rifle and a box of ammunition. The owner was right there, fired several shots at him but didn't get him, and he wasn't even injured, he got away.

That sequence, Laura, has really changed the game here. It has intensified this manhunt. We have now got upwards around 500 law enforcement officers on the ground, again, combing this area right behind me. That's more law enforcement officers than we have ever had during this manhunt. And, you know, again, it is intensifying. Reverse 911 calls have gone out.

Residents are being told, stay in, lock your doors, be mindful, just please be vigilant and keep an eye out, do not approach this man, he is extremely dangerous, he could be on the move at this hour again.

COATES: Brian Todd, so important, and the box of ammunition just adds that much more of a layer of concern to what's happening now. Thank you so much.

I want to turn now to J.J. Klaver. He is a former FBI supervisory special agent who worked in the bureau's Philadelphia office. So, he actually is an expert on this area where the manhunt is underway. J.J, first of all, the game has changed now. A 22-caliber rifle, a scope, a flashlight, that is very significant. You're talking about dark areas, dense, not being able to see him, and now he can see those looking for him.

J.J. KLAVER, FORMER FBI SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, he has always been dangerous. I mean, he's a convicted murderer. Now, he's armed. He is going to get more and more desperate as time goes on. He's got to continue to find water and food, more clothes. I think he's probably going to try and steal another vehicle.

I think his goal at this point is to put as much distance between himself and those law enforcement officers there. You know, the 500 plus law enforcement officers that are looking for him. He doesn't want to get caught. He is going to get more desperate.

I think he wants to, again, get more distance between himself and this area. And the only way to do that is to get a vehicle. It's going to be easier for him to get a vehicle now that he's armed. But, you know, people need to be a lot more careful about securing their belongings, securing their vehicles. But, you know, now, we run the risk of him trying to carjack a vehicle now that he's armed.

COATES: You know --

KLAVER: -- by force.

COATES: I want to put back on to the screen for the audience to see. We are showing a picture of the area that shows you the proximity to New Jersey, of course, where Philadelphia is, where the Chester County Prison is, the South Coventry Township, and this current search area. It appears to be dense. There appear to be a number of trees that are in the area. You know, one, who has the advantage in talking about a manhunt in this way when you've got this sort of landscape?

KLAVER: Well, I mean, it's definitely a challenge for law enforcement. He's got some advantages here. He is moving primarily at night, as the reporting has said. So, he's using the cover of darkness. He's pretty adept at this. He has been a fugitive before he fled Brazil.

Looking at the video of him escaping from his prison didn't seem like it was very difficult for him to get out. So, he's pretty agile. He's pretty adept. He has shown that he's got the skill to hide himself, to obtain what he needs, to keep hiding, you know. So, I think he's got a bit of an advantage here.

You know, as they start to close in on them, the sightings are important. The tips are important because that -- you know, the public putting eyes on him and getting that information to law enforcement allows law enforcement to focus their search efforts to exactly where he has been seen.

You know, it's not just the proximity in New Jersey. It is the proximity to Delaware, to Maryland. He could easily with a vehicle, you know, could flee to other states. I don't know if that changes the scope of the manhunt much. I mean, right now, the Pennsylvania State Police are in charge of the manhunt with all these other agencies, federal, state, local supporting. You know, that could change if it changes states, but the commitment to catch him by law enforcement is not going to change no matter where he is.


COATES: I mean, here we are, nearly two weeks tomorrow for when he escaped. It is unbelievable. J.J. Klaver, thank you so much. We will continue to follow what is going on.

I want to bring in Mark Gillen. He's a Republican Pennsylvania State representative from a district near this very search area. You know, I have to ask you, representative, about what it has been like for the people in your state and in your community.

I mean, we're talking about this manhunt. People are terrified. They're getting information on their ring doorbells, there are sightings, there is -- now, he's armed. He has taken apparently a box of ammunition as well. Are you hearing anything from your constituents about what this experience has been like for them particularly?

STATE REP. MARK GILLEN (R-PA): Well, it's terrorizing them and people are constantly going to their window once they get inside their house or locking their doors. I live on a 41-1/2-acre farm. It's a substantially rural area and there's just a state forest buffering us between the activity where he was last seen.

I had one child come to speak to me and I think this is probably startling and expresses it best and say, I am now locking the door to my tree house. People are being very vigilant. This is a place where you leave your keys in your car, you don't lock your doors. The whole paradigm has changed.

I look at this through the window of a former correctional officer in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and as a leader and committee chair in emergency preparedness as well as veterans' affairs and a former university police officer and 30-year emergency medical technician. So, as I look at it through these different windows, I understand exactly why people are afraid.

COATES: I mean, you think about all the different levels and avenues of expertise you have to get to this very moment, one additional point to consider, and you've written an op-ed about this very notion, is that you blame our weak, you say, U.S. immigration policies for failing to keep this escaped murderer, number one, out, and that he remained in the country in a way to be able to even commit this heinous act right here and harm that woman in front of her children and kill her.

When you look at the fact that he is a Brazilian national, apparently, he traveled, I believe, to Puerto Rico and then came here, he's undocumented, he was tried in our justice system here in this country although there was a pending and outstanding warrant for him in Brazil on suspicion of another homicide, what goes through your mind about that intersection of this manhunt and our immigration policy? GILLEN: Well, I think our immigration policy administered to federal level is deeply flawed. This is not about legal immigration. My grandparents came from Italy, Hungary and Ireland, and we're certainly a very welcoming country. But you look at a 10-year window in Texas, 2011 to 2021, there were over 700 illegals charged with murder. This is not an anomaly. This has been happening on a regular basis. This invasion must end.

The man was wanted for murder in another country. He found a way to get in this country and get settled. I understand that there were some illegal documents that he used, forged paperwork. We have to get better at every level, TSA, borders, detecting when somebody is using forged documents.

COATES: You know, the data given the breadth of the number of people in this country versus those who are either undocumented or are so- called illegal immigrants, that it's Americans who commit the overwhelming percentage of crimes in this country.

Of course, you realize that, but to the larger point that you're raising, one thing people might not realize, and you've been a correctional officer and have ascribed your expertise already, that one of the ways our justice system and our immigration system work is that they ping a kind of deportation order or an order of some kind that lets you know the person needs to be looked at for that reason only once there is a contact with our criminal justice system. Otherwise, the breadth of those who are in this country could obviously not be looked at on a day-to-day basis.

Is that something that you believe needs to change? Because in your op-ed, you have stated that Deborah Brandao, who is the woman who was murdered by this man, would be alive today if our policies were working.

GILLEN: Clearly, if we tighten things up, she would be alive today and hundreds of other Americans would be alive as well. Even if you look to New York City and the mayor of New York City, Mayor Adams, he has clearly indicated it's a city in distress, they're in crisis, and you take in over 100,000 immigrants and try to absorb them even in the city the size of New York.


It is impossible. This is a federal responsibility. We have been let down by the federal government. And if you notice in my op-ed piece, I'm not naming names. I think this goes across many administrations. Unless we get this right, our country is headed for even deeper and darker waters. Think about the millions of dollars that have been expended, hundreds of law enforcement doing a tremendous job trying to locate one criminal illegal alien.

COATES: Well, one convicted murderer, in fact, and I think the larger point, and you're right to suggest, this is not squarely a Democrat or a Republican issue. This is something that has eluded many administrations and one that needs to be addressed in a fulsome way. But I do want to draw a distinction between those who are seeking and under the right to shelter laws across the country and those who have committed these heinous acts like this person who is on the run. I certainly hope the resources that are devoted will be able to get this person and brought to justice. I can't imagine what the family of the victims are thinking.

Mark, thank you so much, representative.

GILLEN: Thank you for having me, Laura.

COATES: Well, from impeachment in Washington to impeachment in Wisconsin, Republicans there are threatening to impeach an elected Supreme Court judge. And by the way, that's before she has even heard a single case. That's next.



COATES: A red alert for democracy. That's how Democrats are describing efforts to impeach a new Wisconsin Supreme Court justice before she, by the way, even heard a case. State Republicans are threatening to impeach the recently sworn and liberal justice, Janet Protasiewicz, over comments that she made, calling the state's legislative maps, well, rigged and unfair while on the campaign trail, I should mention.

Now, the state's partisan gerrymander has been called one of the worse in the country, I might add. It was a major issue along with abortion during the Supreme Court election this spring that gave liberals a four to three majority after 15 years of conservative control. Now, state Republicans say that if she refuses to recuse on cases related to the gerrymander issue, that would be grounds for impeachment.

Joining me now to discuss is Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair Ben Wikler. Thank you for joining us today, Ben. This is a story we've been following. And it is just extraordinary to think about while there are calls to impeach a president in Washington, D.C., let's not forget about the power to impeach at the state level. I'm talking about Ken Paxson, of course, in Texas. Now, a Supreme Court justice in the state of Wisconsin.

The comments they're talking about, about impeaching the judge, were made while she was on the campaign trail. And, of course, voters still chose her by, I think, a commanding, was it 11 percentage points? So, what is the impact for the voters now?

BEN WIKLER, CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF WISCONSIN: Well, it's the most fundamental American value that voters choose their politicians. But the politicians in the Republican state legislature in Wisconsin are talking about overturning the will of the voters who had a clear choice in the election in order to lock in their power that comes from their gerrymandered maps. And that is totally unconstitutional.

I mean, the Constitution is very clear. In every state and nationally, that impeachment is for things like high crimes and misdemeanors. In Wisconsin, the language is crimes, misdemeanors or corrupt conduct in office.

Janet Protasiewicz hasn't ruled in a single case. So, the republican idea here is to nullify the election in order to lock in their power and, I might add, a pre-civil war abortion ban that is almost total in criminalizing abortion. That is not how democracy is supposed to work and my dearest hope is that the Republicans hear the public outrage and back off from this threat.

COATES: What made my ears perk up was while in office for that criteria, we're talking about impeachment, while in office. These statements were made on the campaign trail.

And one of the issues, of course, is when you're talking about elected justices or judges, same thing, frankly, with what's in prosecutors at times, they're often criticized in terms of what they're saying because it means they have a political ax to grind. It is a politically-elected position.

And so, there's a little bit of a double-edged sword between campaigning for what you want on a platform and being held to account for impeachment, I guess, later on.

But what is the end game here? I mean, the idea that they're just challenging her. Others who have vied for this position have had campaigning issues, of course. They've talked about the campaign funding. They've, obviously, spoken about issues to get elected. So, is there a larger end game that people are missing in Wisconsin as to why go after her now? Is it about these gerrymandered districts?

WIKLER: Well, the big picture here is that the U.S. Supreme Court actually considered the question of whether justices, judges who have to campaign for office are allowed to talk about issues as opposed to committing to rule in specific cases.

And Antonin Scalia, the conservative icon, wrote the opinion that said you cannot force campaigning judges or justices to recuse themselves. If they talked about issues on the campaign trail, voters deserve to know the values of those candidates. That's the U.S. Supreme Court talking.


So, what Republicans are talking about in Wisconsin is essentially creating a world where anytime they think a judge might do something that they don't like, they can impeach and remove them. And that is a dangerous idea for democracy.

Now, Republicans could -- they have said several times that they haven't reached a final decision. They could look at the Constitution and announce that although they don't like whatever decision that the justices make, that it doesn't meet the constitutional bar for impeachment. I hope they do that.

If they go forward with impeachment, it will create a political firestorm, the likes of which I don't think the state of Wisconsin has ever seen. We're tracking Republicans' position at a website, Most of them are undecided.

And this is the time the public has to weigh in before they cross a line that I think no legislature should ever cross, a purely political impeachment to remove a judge from office to stop them from doing their job.

COATES: Look, this is going to have to be a course in impeachment these days. It seems that we talk about it so often. Everyone got to become an expert. Ben, we will follow along. Thank you so much.

WIKLER: Thanks so much.

COATES: Look, he made a $75-million deal. Then an injury takes him out of season just literally minutes into the first game. So, is this the end for the man you see there, Aaron Rodgers? Talk about it after this.



COATES: Thirty-nine-year-old Aaron Rodgers is now out with the torn Achilles for the entire season, everyone. The four-time NFL MVP had nearly 110 million bucks left on his contract with the Green Bay Packers. He decided to take a pay cut and sign on to a two-year deal with the New York Jets. Now, he's still got guaranteed money, 75 million bucks to really be exact here, and until, of course, 2025.

But for Jets fans, they're probably not thinking about 2025. They're thinking about 1977, the year that Joe Namath led the team who, of course, they're only Super Bowl, he left, and fans think the so-called Jets curse began.

They're thinking about not 2025, but 1999, when Vinny Testaverde tore his Achilles, or maybe 2005 when Chad Pennington went down with his shoulder injury, or 2008 when Brett Favre, who also, by the way, used to be a Green Bay Packer, remember when he tore his biceps?

So, what's now for this team, especially with its latest in a string of surprise at a season that's not even a week old yet? So, maybe it's your fantasy football league that's now the thing that has entirely cursed everyone.

It's hard to talk now to Rachel Nichols who has headlines and hosts "Headlines with Rachel Nichols" on Showtime. Well, that's a great title.


COATES: I love it. Now, how is your fantasy football league? Is it over now because of all that is happening?

NICHOLS: I think a lot of people are not very happy right now across America. I mean, look, this was such a big deal --

COATES: It was so hyped. NICHOLS: -- to so many. I got to tell you, look, there's no overstating the importance of the NFL to Americans, right? If you look at the top 100 broadcasts on T.V. last year and that includes everything, sports, entertainment, news, Yellowstone, right, football was 82 of the top 100.

And here you have Aaron Rodgers. Right? MVP, Super Bowl champion, star of stars, future Hall of Famer, data of movie stars, right? And he goes into the New York media market, into the Jets, as you said, had a Don Quixote-esque (ph) history, and he was poised as their savior. I have never seen the hype going into a regular season game as much as I did last night.

You had John (INAUDIBLE), Billy Joel (ph) hyping him up. You had Carmelo Anthony (ph) saying, he brought the Jets a Super Bowl ring, they should put a statue of him right next to the Statue of Liberty.

And the hype lived up into viewership. Last night's broadcast was the biggest audience ever in the history of Monday Night Football.

COATES: Really?

NICHOLS: That is no slouch, right? And the fact that four plays in, he pops his Achilles, Peyton Manning was doing a broadcast at the time and you could just see all of the color drain out of his face, and he said, holy cow. And I can tell you that cow was not the first thing to come into his mind there, that pause.



NICHOLS: And I think a lot of Americans on their couch were saying the other word.

COATES: I mean, they were watching -- I remember "Hard Knocks: Training Camp."


COATES: I mean, the hype continued. There was a lot of investment. The entire team seemed to be built around them. They've got, obviously, a backup quarterback as well. And that might be promising. But this was someone who left Green Bay, who was considering whether he should retire, who did, I think, some sort of an in-depth -- it wasn't a think tank, it was --

NICHOLS: It was a darkness retreat, Laura.

COATES: I said think tank. Who doesn't? Who among us has not done a darkness thing? It's called sleep for midnight. But that's different, I guess.

When you think about that, this was all part of it, and then the Achilles heel. But, now, there are questions about the safety. What could have caused it? Was it the turf? NICHOLS: Yup.

COATES: Was there an issue with something else there? What do you say?

NICHOLS: I mean, look, one of his former teammates made a tweet that was very accusatory to the NFL. He criticized the fact that they have turf down, said that they're taking the turf out for soccer players at the World Cup because it was a considered a safety issue for them, so why is the NFL still playing on turf?

It's hard to say. If you talk to experts, they kind of say that it was more likely the fact that he is nearing 40 years old, it's a freak kind of injury and it can happen. And now, we have big questions about his future because this is a guy who, as you said, the darkness retreat. I just want to say that again. I'm going to say that on TV tonight as often as possible.


NICHOLS: He went into that saying he didn't know he was going to retire. And he came out saying he had this vision and that he thought he should play more, and that's what led to him coming to New York.


Now, he is facing down the barrel of a very long and grueling rehabilitation. This is about nine to 12 months. Even if everything goes great, you have to say, okay, athletes typically come back at about 30% less strength after this injury than they had. You had Dan Marino who had this injury.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

NICHOLS: He was able to come back, but he was never able to move the same way on the field again. Kobe Bryant, most famously, had this injury. He was able to come back, but NBA fans will tell you he was never the same after it. And both of those guys were 34. Aaron is turning 40 when this happens.

So, I can see him maybe thinking this was a sign because that's something that Aaron has said about things in the past and that maybe he shouldn't be playing. On the other hand, Aaron Rodgers is not married. He doesn't have kids. There isn't someone waiting for him to spend time with after his retirement. So, football is the backbone of his life, and I think he will at least consider whether he wants to come back.

COATES: TMG (ph) might be all over that last comment, I'd say, right now. Rachel Nichols, I'm so glad that you are here today. Thank you so much. Good to have you in person.

Everyone, look, next, "Tomorrow's News Tonight." The headlines everyone else will hear tomorrow, I'm going to tell you about it tonight to get you ready for what's going on.


COATES: Now, before we leave you, here's "Tomorrow's News Tonight." At 10:00 a.m., more than a half dozen leading tech CEOs will be on Capitol Hill for a highly-anticipated AI briefing, part of a Senate effort to come up with a legislative response, of course, to artificial intelligence.

Plus, there's dangerous surf and rip currents that are affecting portions of the southeastern U.S. coast and are forecast to spread northward along much of the entire East Coast as Hurricane Lee is moving northwest and is strengthening. It's a very large Category 3 with sustained winds at 115 miles an hour. Stay with CNN for the very latest.

Well, thank you, all, for watching. Our coverage continues.