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CNN Tonight

Reports: Trump Told An Aide She Should Deny Knowledge Of Classified Documents At Mar-a-Lago; Witness Testimony Disputes IRS Whistleblower Allegations In Hunter Biden Tax Probe; Can Kevin McCarthy Keep His Job?; YouTube Blocks Russell Brand From Making Money Off Platforms After Multiple Sex Abuse Claims; Prince William Had A Secret Run In Central Park. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired September 19, 2023 - 23:00   ET




LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone. I'm Laura Coates, and welcome to "CNN Tonight." Our breaking news, everyone, reports tonight that a former assistant to Donald Trump says that he instructed her to say he knew nothing about boxes, boxes full of classified documents, of course, stashed at his private club.

Now, his exact words when he learned investigators wanted to talk to one Molly Michael were reportedly, you don't know anything about the boxes. And this is an assistant who was in a position, I should mention, to know quite a bit. Molly Michael worked for the then president right outside of the Oval Office and continued to work for him after he left the White House. So, the big question everyone is asking tonight is, what else might she know?

Plus, the GOP at war with itself, an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden going full speed ahead as a government shutdown continues to loom. And Kevin McCarthy fighting to keep his job in the face of a lot of pressure from the far right of his own party. The question, can Kevin McCarthy keep that gavel?

And how Prince William apparently went incognito in New York Central Park today, and apparently, New Yorkers didn't notice or maybe they didn't care. We'll tell you all about it tonight.

But I want to begin with new developments tonight in former President Trump's classified documents case. Joining me now, national security attorney Bradley Moss and litigation attorney A. Scott Bolden. Glad to have you both here.

Now, you've undoubtedly heard this news. It's pretty interesting to think about the fact that -- and I've done many a dramatic reading on how I think it may have been said. You don't know anything about the boxes? Was it like you know nothing, John Snow (ph)? I don't know how it really went down.

(LAUGHTER) But he apparently told this woman that she doesn't know anything about the boxes. Now, of course, we know the boxes are very problematic. Is this a broadcast, huge billboard to say, obstruct?

A. SCOTT BOLDEN, LITIGATION ATTORNEY: I think what it does is it's a large piece to it. But what's unique about this new witness is it's a direct witness, it's direct contact, there's no hearsay. Taveras, witness. You had maybe one hearsay, double hearsay whereby --

COATES: Taveras was the IT person you're talking about?

BOLDEN: Exactly.



COATES: Was asked to delete footage.

BOLDEN: Exactly. Here, you have Donald Trump telling this direct witness, this is not hearsay. This is a party admission on his part because he knew that the documents and he knew that the boxes were there, and he was telling her, you don't know anything about this. This is after he finds out that she's going to be talking to the feds.

So, I think it's significant because it is not a hard lift to get to Donald Trump, the Tavares piece.

MOSS: Yeah. And it's why the documents case remains the most clean-cut in the simplest case of these four different prosecutions. There's no attorney-client privilege issue here. There's no presidential immunity issue here. He can argue declassifications (INAUDIBLE). It has nothing to do with you obstructing the investigation.

COATES: But stop there for a second. That's a really important point about the obstruction aspect of it and whether you think you declassified it or not. That gets lost in a lot of people because he constantly says, I declassified, so what's the big deal? A kind of all is well that ends well. But your point is that if you're being told to return it because of a subpoena, you don't get to say you have reasons you want to keep it.

MOSS: Exactly. And that came out in that Megyn Kelly interview the other day where she said, you get a subpoena, you do one of two things. One, you comply. Or two, you file a motion to quash it. What you don't do is what he did, which is pretend the documents aren't there. You make out like some mafia don wannabe saying, oh, you don't know nothing about the boxes. Just talk to Nicky the Nose. I mean, what are you doing here? You don't move through this.

COATES: That was very specific.


That was very specific.

BOLDEN: Even the Kristen Welker interview with him --

MOSS: Yeah.

BODEN: -- she asked him specifically, did you direct anyone to do away with these videos? And he never answered the question. He said, these were clean videos, these were nice videos, we turned them over, they weren't doctored. But her original question was, did you direct anybody to get rid of these videos or get rid of these tapes?


And he never answered that question. She asked him two different ways.

MOSS: Which was a smart decision on his part because that's probably the lawyers telling him, please, God, do not get in the substance.

COATES: Oh, is that the one time? I mean --


Let's talk about what's on the actual documents because she says that sometimes, he would hand her notes that he'd written on documents, kind of a to-do list, a kind of honey-do assistant list.

UNKNOWN: Uh-hmm.

COATES: But then she would turn over the documents and they appeared to be classified. They had classified markings on them. Now, it doesn't appear that any of that is actually contained in the indictments against Trump as we know it. But you could see building a case, in fact, around the idea, well, maybe he's particularly careless with documents. Maybe he knows he has them and does as much as scribbling and then go here. It's a little bit of scrap paper. Is that how you'd build it?

MOSS: I think that's why we saw a lot of this reporting leading up to the indictment by Jack Smith on the doc's case, which is that they were looking at all these witnesses on how he handled documents when he was in the White House, and then how he was handling documents when he left the White House.

And throughout the history of it, it was the -- what we expect to see in this testimony at the trial, assuming we get to one, is that he was always reckless. He did whatever he wanted. There were no rules. And this is a man for whom there has never been rules, and now is the first time he's actually being held accountable for it.

BOLDEN: But what's even scarier for Donald Trump is what else has Jack Smith had? Is this witness who was his assistant, is she the only witness? Is she the only assistant that has this information and can directly testify against him and put him in obstruction of these documents and obstruction of justice?

COATES: It's a really important point. I want to read to you that the spokesperson for Trump has said and has raised concern about the fact that we even know about this information, saying, these illegal leaks are coming from sources which totally lack proper context and relevant information. The Department of Justice should investigate the criminal leaking instead of perpetrating their baseless witch hunts.

Of course, this was likely to be the response. And guess who will be in front of members of Congress tomorrow (INAUDIBLE) on Merrick Garland on this issue. We haven't had a lot of leaks, so to speak, on these issues. The DOJ has been accused of being a kind of (INAUDIBLE). But we haven't heard a lot here from outside, what they say in their indictments. So, this surprise, do we even know this?

MOSS: No. This is witnesses talking. This is lawyers who were in the room talking and leaking. There's no indication a lot of this is coming from the government because think of how much we learned when that indictment came out, when the superseding indictment came out, things that had never made it to the media. That's who's leaking this, not the government.

BOLDEN: Donald Trump's own people may be leaking it --

MOSS: Exactly.

BOLDEN: -- for all we know because when you're threatened with jail or prosecution, you're going to talk to the government to save yourself and leaking documents or leaking communications while I never endorse that. It happens in every major criminal case.

COATES: Important point. Gentlemen, thank you so much. Brad Moss, Scott Bolden, thank you.

I want to bring in former Trump White House deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews. Sarah, good to see you tonight. I've been wondering what you would make of all this. And first, you actually know Molly Michael, and I'm wondering, from your perspective, just how much exposure did she really have to the inner workings of the former president's office? And we all know, of course, she was outside the Oval Office, but does that mean that he really did rely on her?

SARAH MATTHEWS, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: Yeah. So, as you mentioned, my time at the White House overlapped with Molly Michael's when she was there. She began working for Trump in 2018 as one of his executive assistants. And she did sit right outside the Oval Office in an area that we called Outer Oval. And there were a couple of desks right there, but she was definitely a gatekeeper for Trump.

So, anyone walking in, trying to get face time with the president who wasn't on his schedule, she would stop them occasionally and not let them in. Of course, there were certain very senior level folks at the White House who were able to walk right in and see the president, but she was not only just a gatekeeper for him, he relied on her for a lot of things and she was at his beck and call.

So, whenever he would need anything or if he wanted to dial someone up and get them on the phone, it was Molly who was responsible for doing that. And so, this is someone he knew very well, who would have had a lot of face time with the president, and they can't simply dismiss her, you know, as someone that he would not be aware of or who wouldn't be in the know because she was quite literally sitting right outside the most important office in the world, someone who the president knew by name, and I think that makes her a very credible witness.

COATES: You know, I remember, we're all old enough to remember when former president would say things like, that's a coffee boy, right? Or someone he'd be dismissive of as if, oh, they may have been inside of the White House at some point in time. This person seems pretty critical in terms of not necessarily the rank of her position but her proximity, at least, to power.

We also have a former aide and an IT worker, as you know, Yuscil Taveras, who are -- he's cooperating.


Does that make it easier for more people to maybe do the same thing now that both of these two individuals have spoken out or at least not to maybe criticize him outwardly in the press, but at least cooperating and discussing with the prosecution?

MATTHEWS: I do think that we're going to see more people come forward, whether it's with these classified documents case or any of the other indictments that Trump is facing.

Look, I think in the case of the IT worker, he was potentially criminally liable. And so, he struck a deal with investigators, which was very smart for him to do. And I would hope that the folks around Walt Nauta and are advising him to do the same. But as we've seen, Trump is funding his legal defense, so that doesn't seem likely.

But someone like Molly Michael is particularly interesting to me because she does not seem like she was vulnerable to any criminal charges. But when Trump told her, look, you know nothing about these boxes amid the FBI probe, she felt very uncomfortable and ended up resigning from her position because she obviously felt like he was trying to push her toward potentially engaging in criminal activity and she felt uncomfortable by that. And so, I wonder if other people --

COATES: Did you speak to her about that, Sarah? I mean, you say that she resigned as a result of that. What's your basis for believing that?

MATTHEWS: That is just based on the timing of when she resigned, and in "The New York Times" reporting, they indicated that there was a connection there.

COATES: So, when you look at this and think about the resignation, she obviously no longer works there for the president. And mind you, this is somebody who followed him after he left the White House, which means post-January 6th and a whole lot of other occurrences. Trump, as you know, he is known for going after anyone who comes out against him. Now, again, I have to distinguish coming out against him in a vocal manner on a television program or otherwise or writing op- eds and books besides that, but somebody who has spoken in a way that's even unflattering towards him or portrays him and depicts him in a negative light, as likely this may very well do, he has been known to come out against that person. Do you expect him to do that with this person?

MATTHEWS: I do think that we've seen this pattern play out before. I've been on the receiving end of it. I testified against Donald Trump in front of the January 6th Committee to talk about his lack of action that day. And I was told that I was a liar and, you know, had the full Trump squad and their allies come after me. And they did the same with Cassidy Hutchinson during her testimony before the January 6th Committee.

But it is going to be very difficult for them to try to paint Molly Michael in the same light given that this is someone who followed Donald Trump all the way down to Mar-a-Lago in his life post- presidency. She -- I think that she has nothing to lose and is telling the truth here and is trying to do the right thing by cooperating with investigators.

But I think it's not going to be long before we see that Trump and his folks come after her and try to, you know, make her into a liar, which obviously I don't think she is. It seems like she's a very credible witness in this case.

COATES: Sarah Matthews, a really important point. I mean, the credibility is really the whole ballgame when it comes to seeing how a jury might view the testimony and might view all of this in context. It's not somebody who traditionally we thought of as somebody who was the enemy of the former president. So, we'll see how this all goes. Sarah, thank you for joining us. I appreciate it.

MATTHEWS: Thank you.

COATES: Also coming up, everyone, Hunter Biden. Well, he says he plans to plead not guilty to federal gun charges. And there's new testimony, by the way, that's casting a lot of doubt on the claims from a whistleblower who alleges that there was political interference in the investigation of Hunter Biden's taxes. More on all of that and just what it means for the president, next.



COATES: Well, tonight, Hunter Biden says that he's going to plead not guilty to three felony gun charges. Now, it comes as the GOP-led House committees are preparing to amp up their own investigations into Hunter Biden and, of course, his father, the president of the United States.

And there's new testimony from the FBI and also IRS officials that are casting doubt on key claims from an IRS whistleblower who alleges that there was some political interference in the federal investigation of Hunter Biden's taxes.

Joining me now is Tristan Leavitt. He's an attorney for IRS whistleblower, Gary Shapley. Tristan, thank you so much for being here tonight. This is continuing to be a very big story, and I'm glad to have your insight in particular.

You've obviously heard, Tristan, that there are new witnesses out there that are now rebutting two of the key contentions made by your client about David Weiss, that he said that he was -- quote -- "not the deciding person" and that he was denied a request for special counsel status. What's your response to these different recollections?

TRISTAN LEAVITT, ATTORNEY FOR IRS WHISTLEBLOWER GARY SHAPLEY: First off, to be clear, out of those new interviewees, the only other one who took notes was Special Agent Shapley's immediate supervisor, and he said that he has long since shredded those notes.

But his contemporaneous response to Special Agent Shapley back on October 7th, 2022 was to say, you covered it all. And he also acknowledged in the interviews this week that if he thought that Gary was lying or misleading on anything, he definitely would have corrected that with their supervisor who those notes went to.

But on the substance, there are two key points that I think are important. The first is that all of the other interviewees acknowledged in their interviews that they were not familiar with the testimony that Attorney General Merrick Garland gave before the Senate Appropriations Committee five months before this meeting in question, because in that hearing, Garland was grilled by Senator Hagerty on whether Biden political appointees would be involved in Weiss's approvals in the Hunter Biden case.


And Garland's number one response was, they put the investigation in the hands of a Trump appointee. So, Special Agent Shapley was very aware of that testimony going into the meeting, and I think that helps to explain why others, for whom this meeting was a year ago, not particularly significant to them because cases have been declined in D.C. and California throughout. That's why this stood out to him more than others.

The second key point I'll just add is, regardless of the specific wording, all of the attendees testified that most of the meeting was spent discussing whether the D.C. and California U.S. attorneys would let Weiss bring charges in their district, and that if he couldn't, Weiss would have to follow another process, speaking special authority, which is exactly what we've seen he has done in seeking special counsel status.

COATES: Well, for the non-lawyers, this idea of contemporaneous notes, I want to just revisit for a moment, because it actually is what you use in some respects to actually decide who has credibility or not, what amount of weight to give to someone's statements or testimony. We believe that if it's written down close in time to the event, that it has greater weight, greater credibility, less of an opportunity to try to insert lies or falsehoods or mis-recollect some things. So, I understand that point.

But the other aspect of the recollections, Weiss himself twice spoke or wrote to Congress prior to, of course, being elevated to special counsel, and his recollection, of course, was that he did have the authority, he was not undermined or hamstrung. How does that factor in to the recollection of your client, among others, to suggest that somehow, he was not accurate?

LEAVITT: Oh, I think it's important to understand there are two different phases of the investigation, we will call it. So, the underlying investigation, Weiss has never spoken about. That's the part of the investigation where Special Agent Shapley and Special Agent Ziegler said they were blocked from taking investigative steps. A lot of that had to do with Assistant U.S. Attorney Leslie Wolf. And Weiss has never spoken about that. So, that's the, you can't ask about the big guy, don't ask questions about the dad, all of those.

Weiss has written about this prosecutorial phase where he was trying to bring charges in other districts. And I think it's important to recognize that he himself has acknowledged in his letters, he actually wrote three to Congress, two to Chairman Jim Jordan and one to Ranking Member Lindsey Graham on Senate Judiciary, and he told Lindsey Graham, he had, in fact, sought or had discussions with the Department about special charging authority months before this meeting.

Now, Gary Shapley is an assistant. He was an acting assistant special agent in charge, but he would have no reason to know that from the U.S. attorney, with whom he had very little contact unless it was actually discussed at that meeting.

So, people can argue that he took away a different understanding, that they discussed that authority and not that he'd been asked for it, but again, all of the attendees that have been questioned have agreed that the facts are clear, that the D.C. U.S. attorney declined to bring charges, that threw up a roadblock for Weiss, then the meeting was to discuss whether the California U.S. attorney for the central district would allow bringing charges, and if he didn't, that Weiss would have to go to the attorney general and seek this special authority.

COATES: In any event, as we know, sitting here today during this conversation, guess what? David Weiss now is special counsel, he has that authority, and we have at least now three indicted charges against Hunter Biden.

But let me read for you a second a portion from the Hunter Biden lawsuit. And this is, of course, not naming your client or the whistleblowers in this actual suit against the IRS, a very important point to note.

But here's what it says. I'm quoting. "These agents' putative whistleblower status cannot and does not shield them from their wrongful conduct in making unauthorized public disclosures that are not permitted by the whistleblower process. In fact, a whistleblower, they write, is supposed to uncover government misconduct, not the details of that employee's opinion about the alleged wrongdoing of a private person."

I'm curious as to what your response is given that they're not actually named in the suit but, clearly, they are part of the substance of the argument against the IRS.

LEAVITT: Yeah. So, there's two parts of the whistleblower protection. I was appointed by President Biden to the American Systems Protection Board, which protects whistleblowers like those in the IRS, and those protections apply across the government.

What made this case unique was that these whistleblowers had special confidential taxpayer information and that is governed by a more specific law than the Whistleblower Protection Act I dealt with on the American Systems Protection Board. That taxpayer protection statute written by Congress gives Congress the authority to receive that information, and if it chooses to release it, like it did with President Trump's tax returns less than a year ago.

So, the whistleblowers here did not share this information in any way outside of that confidential process with Congress. Once Congress made the decision to release it, that's public information. And so, they have spoken about that since then just like any private citizen could.

COATES: An important point to raise and, of course, it wasn't from my understanding of the facts of this case so far. You, of course, far more well-versed in it, according to your client, that it wasn't as if Congress had not asked for the information.


But a whistleblower can often be a confusing notion. How much protection is guaranteed? What can be said and to what extent? But again, they're not named in the suit. Tristan Leavitt, thank you so much for your thoughts and insight tonight.

I want to bring in CNN legal analyst and former U.S. attorney Michael Moore. Michael, good to see you this evening. Thanks for joining. As you heard from the conversation I was just having with counsel for one of the whistleblowers, we know that Hunter Biden is actually going to plead not guilty to the gun charges.

Perhaps not a big surprise that he is not going to plead guilty to those things, but what is his best argument when you look at what is before him in this pleading and the idea of what has already happened, particularly in light of the fact that there's already been an implosion of the earlier charges that were thought to even be brought against him? What's his best strategy here?

MICHAEL MOORE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I'm glad to be with you. I do think he has some avenues he could pursue. I mean, he's coming on a case that has been now charged by the special counsel dealing with whether or not his gun application was correct.

That -- there's been a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals opinion about that very issue that I think will wind its way up to the Supreme Court, and that is whether or not at the time he made the application, he was actually under the influence of something, and whether or not that's a constitutional bar to him owning a gun, that at some point in his life, at some prior date, he may have had some drug problem, whether or not that's going to be a constitutionally sound position that would have prevented him from having a firearm.

So, I think probably they're anxious to move this issue forward and get the appellate issue on to the court. One way to do that, obviously, is to go ahead and enter a not guilty plea and move forward, file your motions, challenge the charging document, and at that point, you know, ask the court to make a -- make a ruling on it.

That's one thing. You know, the other thing, of course, will be dealing with the --

COATES: I will say one part of that, Michael -- excuse me, I will say one point, the way he is going to do it, obviously, he's going to do it remotely. That has been his request, do this remotely, not unheard of for a criminal defendant is able to do in that way. But your second point, go ahead.

MOORE: Well, the implosion of the plea deal and the agreement. They were operating under an agreement and there's -- typically, from a federal prosecutor's point of view, you want to make sure that you stand by the agreements that you make. And so, there was an arrangement in place. That's going to become another factor.

I'm sure we're going to hear Mr. Biden's counsel raise that at some point and that there was a breach now by the government, even though Mr. Hunter Biden was operating under -- under the terms of the agreement is set out. So, that's not finished.

On the issue of the remote appearance, federal judges can do most anything they want. And we saw during COVID, people began to appear remotely from safety issues and otherwise in court efficiency reasons that they were allowed to use video court appearances.

And so, there's nothing new here. He has a unique position because he is protected by Secret Service. And to bring him to court across the country requires an expenditure, not all of effort, but the time of those agents and need to secure the courthouse and all those things that go along with having to protect teeth. So, it's certainly a reason for the judge to do it.

COATES: I mean, and as you know, a lot of this are people who are leaning in to the legal aspects of all this. Everyone has become kind of an armchair lawyer these days. This function of pleading not guilty can be something of a very quick nature. It's not a long motion practice or certainly the length of a trial or any respect. So, it's a very routine process to happen, and they're also saying they're not asking for any special treatment.

But what do you make of the contradicting parts of the IRS whistleblowers' claims that there was some political interference in the investigation of Hunter Biden's taxes and, of course, others who were saying, I don't recall this the same way?

And I might add, three times, David Weiss contacted Congress before being elevated to special counsel to say, no, I had the power I wanted to have. I mean, you can quibble with whether he really meant that having then been elevated special counsel. But do you put a lot of stock in the fact that there were contradictions?

MOORE: You know, it looks to me like this whistleblower is being now a pawn maybe of some Republicans in Congress who want to make something out of a case by attacking the process as opposed to the facts of the case. And so, when I look at it, what I hear or you have sort of high- quality caliber witnesses who are now contradicting testimony from the whistleblower.

The problem for the whistleblower and his credibility in that instance is that you have multiple witnesses now saying this is not what was said, this is not what happened.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

MOORE: You have David Weiss saying this is not what happened. Those things begin to chip away, I think, at the foundation of the committee's case. On the other hand, of course, I heard your interview earlier and you're correct, that contemporaneous notes, lawyers like to have a witness who's made contemporaneous notes because it's something that you argue that, look, at the time, these are the most current and reflective recollections that can be presented to you.


And so, there's no reason to no possibility those were changed. So, we have a witness now that has those notes. Again, when you have multiple witnesses, and now I think there were three, four, five witnesses saying, you know, that's just not what was said, that you can certainly -- nothing unusual about having things maybe understood differently by different people to a meeting.

But when multiple people begin to say it -- I mean, you can think about your kids. You may have one child who said, well, I ate the cookie because I thought I could, and you've got four more who say, no, we clearly heard we could not. Uh, you know, probably don't go on the side of the floor.

COATES: That was strangely specific. How many kids you have, Michael Moore?

MOORE: Two kids.


I don't know that anyone would listen to me about eating the cookies.


COATES: Two kids, a lot of cookies, and yet no cookies left, everyone. Michael Moore. Thank you. I can tell you one thing, tomorrow, when Merrick Garland begins to testify, I bet he'll be asked a few questions about all of this. Don't you think? Cookies or not?

MOORE: My pleasure.

COATES: Michael, thank you so much.

MOORE: Glad to be with you.

COATES: Well, look, we are now, what, 11 days? Eleven days to go until a government shutdown, and chaos among House Republicans seems to be worse than ever. So, can Speaker McCarthy actually reach a deal, and can he then keep his job? That's next.



COATES: Well, tonight, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the man you see speaking right there, well, he is desperately trying to wrangle his unruly Republican majority as the clock is ticking towards a government shutdown.

But, of course, the battles inside the House GOP are putting his entire speakership in jeopardy as House Republicans struggle to even pass a spending bill.


REP. MIKE LAWLER (R-NY): This is not conservative republicanism. This is stupidity. The idea that we're going to shut the government down when we don't control the Senate, we don't control the White House, it's a clown shell.

UNKNOWN: I offer to help. But ultimately, it's a decision of a leader if leaders want to lead or not.

REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX) (voice-over): I don't know whether we'll have the votes or not, because I've got a lot of conservative friends who like to beat their chests and thump around going, oh, this isn't pure enough.


COATES: Let's talk about now with "Puck" senior political correspondent, Tara Palmeri, former Republican Congressman Charlie Dent, along with CNN political commentator Ashley Allison. Ashley is also the former national coalitions director for the Biden-Harris 2020 campaign. Glad to have you all here.

Let me begin with you, Congressman Dent. You have seen your fair share of infighting and problems surrounding this annual discussion about a government shutdown. Is McCarthy really in as much trouble as he seems to be?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, everybody enjoys these circular firing squads from time to time. But, well, I think he does have a very big problem. I mean, there's a way out. I mean, there's a simple way out. He cuts a deal with Hakeem Jeffries, gets the votes. They passed a relatively clean bill to the Senate. That would be easy. But --

COATES: That's a way out also of the speakership at the end of that, right?

DENT: It's a way to get out of this jam of the funding. Now, he's going to have some of these folks make a motion to vacate the chair, and I think that Speaker McCarthy hurt himself by opening up the impeachment inquiry. So, he would need Democrats to help him on that as well. But whatever goodwill he had with the Democrats has probably gone away because of the impeachment inquiry.

So, I think he has put himself in a bit of a box. But like I said, this is -- I know how this is going to end. The Senate is going to send a bill to the House that will fund the government, provide disaster relief and Ukraine money, and they're going to tell the House, you know what, we'll see you later, you guys can take this up or you can shut the government down. That's what will happen.

COATES: You know, actually you spoke, Tara, to former Newt Gingrich, of course -- well, he's still Newt Gingrich, but he's the former Newt Gingrich, he still is him -- about this correlation between the impeachment inquiry, of course, and what's happening right now. What did he say?

TARA PALMERI, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, PUCK NEWS: Well, he doesn't think it's actually intersecting in any way. He doesn't think that it was sort of a carrot that Kevin McCarthy threw to the House Freedom Caucus so then he could pass this spending bill.

But I think anyone can see that they were hungry for impeachment, these House Freedom Caucus members, and Kevin McCarthy probably miscalculated by thinking, okay, if we launch this impeachment inquiry, this will make them happy and they'll let me pass this, you know, spending bill that I need to pass. They might not like everything in it, but they'll let me get it through and I can get passed one more day and that I won't have to deal with a motion to vacate.

But he was wrong. You know, he gave them what they wanted, and he burned any goodwill that he would have had with Democrats. They would ostensibly be the ones to save him if there's a motion to vacate because, you know, perhaps, if there wasn't so much bad blood, he could ask Hakeem Jeffries, can you find, you know, five members who are maybe in red districts that could perhaps just vote present?

I don't see Hakeem Jeffries doing him any favors anymore because you're literally going after the president of the United States two days before the government runs out of money? Like the first hearing is two days before the government runs out of money? I just don't -- I think that there's no goodwill right now. It would be a pretty big feat to be able to convince him to save his speakership because also what does it get the Democrats?

I mean, for them, they just get to sit by, eat some popcorn, watch Kevin McCarthy get killed, watch him go through possibly 15 more votes to stay as speaker because they may not be able to come up with somebody else or some random gets in there, someone even more right wing or someone -- it is just a -- it's another disaster.

And then they have to reopen the government and who by the way is going to call the vote to open the government? So many problems that they can just enjoy.

COATES: Of course, Ashley, you think Hakeem Jeffries and all Democrats will have tremendous goodwill towards Speaker McCarthy. I'm just kidding. What do you actually think?

ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think Kevin McCarthy backed himself into this corner when he made these deals with the Freedom Caucus to even get the votes to become speaker.


I mean, he wouldn't be in this situation if he didn't allow them to hold him hostage. And so, now, he's really reaping what he is sowing and it is going to backfire on him in the short term and potentially long term when we look at whether he'll remain speaker.

But most importantly, I think it will ultimately backfire on the American people when the government shuts down because what does that mean? People can't get their Social Security checks, people start to struggle.

I mean, I remember working in the government, fearing a government shutdown under Boehner, the second go-round, and really being nervous. I mean, people -- these are public servants, a lot of them. And when they are considered nonessential and don't have to go to work, they don't get paid either.

So, I don't think Hakeem Jeffries needs to bail McCarthy out. I think if he does make a deal with him, he will be doing it for the American people.

COATES: You even heard Mitch McConnell earlier today talking about how it does not really benefit Republicans when this happens. There have been four true shutdowns in the past where you've had the government closed for more than one business day.

But I think the point that Tara made, especially on the idea of the timing of this, Ashley and Charlie, is this is likely to happen two days. And just look at that. Obviously, we're looking at the lead that they had comparing McCarthy to Gingrich to Boehner as well.

I mean, look how long it was and look at the majority lead that you actually had. I mean, 33 for Boehner, 25 for Gingrich, only nine for McCarthy. And by the way, that might be dwindling people on leave and otherwise. So, that's a really significant aspect of it.

But again, the priorities in terms of the goodwill of the American people and the electorate, if you set up two days before the government is supposed to shut down, you say, aha, I'm going to prioritize an impeachment inquiry, that we don't really have a clear notion right now what the high crime misdemeanor is.

I mean, listen to what -- to point back to your interview with Speaker Gingrich, listen to what he had to say about what McCarthy would need to have here.


NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES (voice-over): What McCarthy has to have, a smoking gun maybe is one term. He needs to have about 10 smoking guns because "The New York Times" and "The Washington Post" and the professional Democrats will simply reject one or two or three. But there is a number. It takes about a year and a half for Nixon to have to leave office. And by the time he has to leave office, 46 officials are convicted during Watergate.


COATES: What is your reaction to that, Charlie?

DENT: Well, look, this whole situation with the impeachment, you have to separate the impeachment from the government funding issue. The side that makes the policy demand during the funding issue is the one that's going to be blamed for the shutdown. If I don't get X, I'm going to shut down the government. You will be blamed for that. That's where we are.

Now, this impeachment inquiry just further complicates things because, as has been said, the Democrats are now less likely to play ball with the Republicans in the House.

And so -- I mean, this whole situation, I've seen this so many times. I mean, the Senate -- House Republicans are isolated right now. Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats are on the same page. They're going to pass a funding bill, they're going to do that, they're going to send it to the House with a big vote, and then McCarthy has to make decision.

If he brings it up, as the Senate sends it over, he's going to have this rearguard action, they're going to come after him. If he doesn't bring it up, the government shuts down.

COATES: I think that's Latin for damned if you do, damned if you don't, everyone. Tara, Charlie -- oh, well, thank you. You're asking for a lot. Do the right thing. Thank you, all of you. I appreciate your time.

Also, everyone, you've been probably following this story, of course. It is about the comedian, Russell Brand. He is facing multiple allegations of rape and sexual assault. Now, he's being blocked from making money on YouTube to be specific, and that's far from the only fallout.


[23:47:04] COATES: Well, YouTube is temporarily preventing comedian Russell Brand from making money from his videos. That, of course, as following allegations from four women who say that Brand sexually assaulted them on separate occasions between 2006 and 2013. Now, one of the women said that she was 16 and Brand 31 at the time of the alleged assault in London. Listen.


UNKNOWN: Russell engaged in the behaviors of a groomer. Looking back on it, I didn't even know what that was then or what that looked like. He would try to drive a wedge between me and my parents, taught me to lie to them. I was at my dad's house and it was 11 o'clock at night. Russell was texting me. He's like, please come over. I need to see you. I'm really upset. I need to see you.


COATES: Now, CNN cannot independently confirm these allegations. The comedian preemptively denied the accusations in a video that he posted on Friday.


RUSSELL BRAND, COMEDIAN: These allegations pertain to the time when I was working in the mainstream, when I was in the newspapers all the time, when I was in the movies. As I've written about extensively in my books, I was very, very promiscuous. Now, during that time of promiscuity, the relationships I had were absolutely always consensual. I was always transparent about that then, almost too transparent, and I'm being transparent about it now.


COATES: Now, YouTube says that it paused monetization of his channel for violating its creator responsibility policy. The BBC also says that it will remove some of its online content that includes Brand.

Joining me now, Segun Oduolowu, who is the host of the "Boston Globe Today." Segun, thank you so much for being here tonight. I mean, you've been following this as I have. Brand tried to get ahead of this by publicly denying the allegations before they were even known and came out to the rest of the public. But now, YouTube and BBC are taking an action. Are they right to do so given that these are still at this point allegations?

SEGUN ODUOLOWU, HOST, BOSTON GLOBE TODAY: Well, thank you for having me, Laura. And absolutely, they are right for doing this. And let's start first with words, right? Laura, you and I are in the words business. We speak for a living, we have conversations, we report. And what I really want to do is stop using the word "allegation" and let's use the word "report," which sounds stronger.

Four women allege Russell Brand on rape and sexual assault or four women report Russell Brand raped or sexually assaulted him. Because what Russell Brand also conveniently didn't do in his, you know, monologue on his social channels was back in 2007, in the same timeframe when these sexual assaults are being reported to have happened, he on his show, the "Russell Brand Show," advised a 15-year- old who was turning 16 to have a sexually-themed birthday party.


And we can say all of that is just jokes, but I don't joke like that and I don't really hang out with people who joke like that. So, there's too much smoke around here for us not to start getting singed and burned from the heat of Russell Crowe.

And that really is the issue for me. We know that sexual assault doesn't get reported nearly enough as it should. And here you have four different women in the span of 2006 to 2013, seven years, reporting that Russell Brand sexually assaulted them and raped them or raped, you know, some of them, and we know that could be the tip of the iceberg.

So, yes, absolutely, prevent this man from making money until it gets adjudicated in a court. And if he is found innocent, as we saw with Johnny Depp, that as -- when Disney decided not to have Johnny Depp in movies, if YouTube doesn't want to have Russell Brand making money, sure, let's do that until we know what the truth is.

COATES: It is interesting to think about as a former prosecutor, the idea of the word "choice," report versus allegations, and obviously, the presumption of innocence in a court of law, markedly different than the court of public opinion as people have talked about a great deal.

And there's that monetizing aspect of it, the notion of what is required in order to stay on a particular platform. It's obviously not a guarantee. We'll be following this, of course, and always welcome to have your insight as always. Segun, thank you so much because this is going to have a story with legs. Absolutely.

ODUOLOWU: Thank you.

COATES: I appreciate it.

ODUOLOWU: All right, you have a good night.

COATES: You, too. A major appearance today in Central Park. The thing is no one noticed how Prince William managed to go incognito at one of New York's biggest landmarks, next.



COATES: Well, New York City is full of high-profile visitors for the U.N. General Assembly this week. But one high-profile visitor managed to stay just under the radar. It's the future king of England, Prince William, to you and me, and he's in town for the Earthshot Prize Summit. And get this, he went for a run in Central Park this morning. And apparently, nobody noticed that there was a royal in their midst. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VAITEA COWAN, CO-FOUNDER, ENAPTER: Did you go running in Central Park this morning?


PRINCE WILLIAM, DUKE OF CAMBRIDGE: I did, Vaitea. Yes. I decided to join the hordes of New Yorkers during their morning routine as they went around Central Park.


COATES: Hmm. So, if a prince runs in the park and nobody notices, did it really happen or was it just New York City, everyone? Thanks for watching. Our coverage continues.