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Laura Coates Live

Ex-Trump Lawyer Flips, Pleads Guilty In GA Election Case; Biden Addresses The Nation Amid The Israel-Hamas War; Joran Van Der Sloot Admits To Killing Natalee Holloway. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired October 19, 2023 - 23:00   ET




ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And that's it for me. Thank you for watching "NEWSNIGHT." Passing the baton now to LAURA COATES LIVE. It starts right now. Hey, Laura.

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST AND SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Oh, I love this relay race. It's like a track team. I love it.

PHILLIP: You got it.

COATES: I can't run as fast as you, though, I'm sure, Abby. But nice to see you. I'll see you right back here tomorrow. Okay?

PHILLIP: Have a good show.

COATES: Thank you.

Well, a key witness flips. What will she say under oath and about the former president of the United States? That's tonight on LAURA COATES LIVE.

Guilty. Not accused. Not allegedly. Guilty. Now, that is the word that now describes a former member of Trump's inner circle. Attorney Sidney Powell pled guilty today to six counts of conspiracy to commit intentional interference of performance of election duties. And I remember this moment. This is what she said. Well, remember this about the Kraken?




COATES: Well, I happen to love a good "Clash of the Titans" reference. But in this case, she didn't release anything. And remember when Sidney Powell was saying one of the theories about Hugo Chavez in Venezuela?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) POWELL: The software that goes in other computerized voting systems here as well were created in Venezuela at the direction of Hugo Chavez to make sure he never lost an election.


COATES: Remember her legal defense in the Dominion case? No reasonable person would believe her election fraud claims, even though she was saying them. Now, she was facing seven felony charges, including a violation of Georgia's racketeering law, and had been facing jail time. But now, it's just probation, not jail time the prosecution is asking for. And that's all, right?

Well, not exactly. You better believe that when a prosecutor makes a plea offer, as she seems to have gotten, there's going to be some conditions. She will have to testify in future trials, as in possibly testifying against her now former co-defendants, and one of them is a man by the name of Donald Trump. Will that come to pass? We'll have to see.

We have a lot to talk about with my expert guests. We've got Michael Moore, former U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, and former federal prosecutor Elliot Williams is also here tonight.

Plus, on a very busy news night, President Biden's Oval Office address to the nation. But did his message to the American people land with the American people? Will it come down to the emotion or the numbers? We'll go to the magic wall to break down what Americans do think about aid and the scope and the tenure of that aid to Israel and also don't forget about Ukraine. And we are on the ground in Tel Aviv tonight with reaction to the president's address.

But I want to begin with Sidney Powell's bombshell guilty plea in the Georgia election subversion case -- remind you -- a few days before the trial was set to begin.

Michael Moore and Elliot Williams are here with me now. I love it when lawyers are on the set. I tell you, it makes me feel all giddy inside mostly because I have been, as you have been, following this case and wondering what would happen here. We are literally on the eve of this trial, a jury selection talking about it. When you saw this guilty plea, one, were you surprised?

MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA: Well, I'm glad to be with you on set. I wasn't totally surprised. I mean, this is sort of standard prosecutor playbook: Indict people and then try to get them to flip and become witnesses in your other cases. What was interesting here is the trial was expedited because she had filed a motion for a speedy trial --

COATES: Uh-hmm.

MOORE: -- so everything was kind of moving at a quick pace.

COATES: That was her right to do so. MOORE: That was her right. She has -- there's a specific statute in Georgia that allows her to do that. She did it. She took advantage of it. And so now, right here on the eve of trial, it feels like things are moving a little quicker. Some of that is because of that speedy trial motion.

What's going to be interesting is what they're able to get out of her. I mean, what will the prosecutor get? She pled guilty to charges related to the Coffey County, and that's dealing with getting some voting machines and paying some people to go down there. Not so much about Trump.

And remember, this is a very detailed indictment and it really doesn't have a big tie there. I think probably more interesting is what she may be offering in the federal case.

COATES: For Jack Smith's case.

MOORE: That's right. That's right.


COATES: Not Fani Willis.

MOORE: Whether or not there's some conditions in there, she has made some statements. We don't know yet, but she may have made some statements that will be useful in that prosecution.

COATES: When you look at it --

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I mean, the consequences here, and obviously, plea offers, you know, they're not intended to be something that no defendant would ever want to take.


COATES: There's got to be a little bit of give and take in order for it to make it work. When you look at this, though, the end result, probation, not the full seven charges, really the day, practically before trial, so you think that this is a signal that the prosecution's case was stronger or weaker than they thought?

WILLIAMS: Yeah, that's an interesting question. You know, I think they're confident that they're getting something out of her. Now, something we all know is that the overwhelming majority of criminal defendants plead guilty in the federal system. It's upwards of 90%. I'm sure in the state of Georgia, it's roughly the same. Now --

COATES: Which, by the way, is sometimes indicative of what we talk about in injustice in this country, that the cost-benefit analysis to plead, as opposed to go through trial, is more enticing.

WILLIAMS: It's literally sometimes called the trial penalty in which people get higher sentences if they go to trial. So, you know, it's wholly unsurprising that she actually did plead guilty. Now, the sentence here, as I think we're all in agreement, is really not that much at all. I mean, I guess they are confident that they're getting something useful out of her, but, you know, like Michael had said, it's hard to know what exactly she's providing.

Now, she was present for this sort of bonkers meeting on December 18, 2020 in the Oval Office between -- as people in the room called it, team crazy versus team normal.

COATES: Yeah. Remind us again about that meeting because people forget -- I mean, there has been so much drinking out of a fire hose. They forget about that.

WILLIAMS: Yes. Team crazy versus team normal. So, there was -- and again, this isn't my words, this is --

COATES: Uh-hmm.

WILLIAMS: -- White House attorneys referring to a number of people around former President Trump, team crazy, making this argument to install Sidney Powell as a special investigator, a special prosecutor overseeing all matters of elections that even people in the room thought was just made literally no sense.

She can testify as to conversations in that room, things that were said to her, to the president, by the president, and anybody else in there that might be charged with crime. So, that's one thing. But beyond that, it's hard to know what useful testimony you're going to get out of her.

COATES: I mean, you know the tendency. Whenever you have -- obviously, Donald Trump is in a room litigiously. It takes a lot of the oxygen. You think, forget the other 17 co-defendants. What about Trump? And it could be that she is useful with the other 17 co- defendants. Chesebro, maybe not, because he didn't want to even be tried with her.

But is this -- is it again for Donald Trump because this is now the second person to have pled guilty. Not in the case, maybe out of D.C, as you mentioned, but is this significant to him?

MOORE: It is. I mean, it's somebody that's described as his inner circle entering a guilty plea in charges that he's connected with. We just don't know the detail that she can give about his particular involvement. But she's just a piece of the puzzle. You know, she's not necessarily the silver bullet in the case, I don't think, but I think she might give some context to sort of the involvement going on.

You know, I really thought the plea itself was a little bit anticlimactic. I mean, it's a misdemeanor. She's pleading to six separate misdemeanors. So, it sounds like a six-year sentence. It's not. It's 12-month sentences that happen to run after each other, and they're all probation. And if she finishes her sentence, she has no record. She can still vote. She can do all those things.

So, to have sort of put on the drama of bringing people in and parading them in to be processed and arrested and talk about the largest election case in history, it was a little bit anticlimactic.

That tells me two things. Number one, it could be that she has good information. We don't know, and I don't know that the indictment lays out enough for us. But it also could mean that the state saw this as a way to sort of help dispose of an early case.


MOORE: They may not want to lay their entire trial out right now before the Trump trial is set. They may not want to do a preview. And that's what this was going to be, just a preview for the rest of those defendants to see the entire case and all the governments.

COATES: Yeah, you make a strong point because the calendar was not the friend of the prosecutors in this case. They have to be prepared to try the case when they have indicted, essentially.

But the idea of the preview, remember they made this argument that they had to try them all together because it would be repetitive, it would be an inefficient use of the resources of the court to just have subsequent successive trials over and over the same evidence. But what's interesting about the misdemeanor is she can still vote.

MOORE: Absolutely.

COATES: She can still vote in Georgia. Part of this has to be a letter to the people of Georgia, of an apology of some kind. I cannot wait to read that particular letter, I must say. But she can still vote.

WILLIAMS: She can still vote. We'll stay on that letter for a second, though, and along the lines of the clips that you played at the beginning, some of these quotes and really aggressive statements made by her. This is an individual who is as much a true believer in what we can call the big lie as anybody else. Now, in order to --

COATES: Let's play them. I want to underline your point. It's a really good one. Let's just play some of what Elliot is talking about and just how significant it has been.



POWELL: We are not going to be intimidated. We are not going to back down. We are going to clean this mess up now. President Trump won by a landslide. We are going to prove it, and we are going to reclaim the United States of America for the people who vote for freedom.


WILLIAMS: Now, she has to accept responsibility in order to plead guilty, and she needs to walk into a court and say, as she sorts of did today, but say, I engaged in acts of fraud, I acknowledge this conduct. That is vastly different than the words that you saw right there. And is she going to stick to the line where, you know, she's admitting to the conduct or is she going to sort of waffle and waver?

She issued a statement today saying, patriots, look out for the news we're going to have tomorrow. So, it's -- you know, I'm not convinced that this individual doesn't go to trial and that this plea agreement doesn't fall apart in some way, but who knows?

COATES: We've seen plea agreements implode before, and maybe some people just like stepping on a rake. Who knows? Not me, everyone. Michael Moore, Elliot Williams, thank you so much.

Next, we're on the ground in Tel Aviv with reaction to President Biden's Oval Office address tonight. He was reminding Americans who we are and what we stand for.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Let us not forget who we are. We reject all forms, all forms of hate, whether against Muslims, Jews or anyone. That's what great nations do.





COATES: Well, tonight, a rare Oval Office address from President Joe Biden really laying out his case for why he thinks the United States public should support wartime aid to not only Ukraine but also Israel. This as the world faces down a series of crises.


BIDEN: American leadership is what holds the world together. American alliances are what keep us, America, safe. American values are what make us a partner that other nations want to work with. You put all that at risk if we walk away from Ukraine, turn our backs on Israel. It's just not worth it.


COATES: Joining me now from Tel Aviv, CNN anchor Kaitlan Collins. Kaitlan, so good to see you. I mean, Biden is in making the case that it's not only about perhaps the humanity, but also about national security and that balance for the American public. What stuck out most to you?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, he said he didn't really blame people for asking why is the U.S. sending so much money to Ukraine or sending so much money to Israel, but he laid out why he believed that was important, that it's not just about those two respective nations, but how if those battles aren't fought there, if those fights aren't fought for what he says is, you know, democracy versus autocracy, then those battles will happen in the United States or U.S. troops could be involved.

And so, he was kind of drawing this through line between these two separate wars, both war zones, that he has now visited with his trip here to Tel Aviv just yesterday and was making this argument and equating two very different entities, Hamas, of course, the terrorist group in Gaza, and President Vladimir Putin of Russia, saying they both are fighting democracy, their neighbors who have these democracies.

It was this through line of something that is two very different situations, that he tied them together as the reason he's asking Congress for this major ask and funding for both.

COATES: Meanwhile, he's tying these together, but you've got Congress that has their hands tied. They're not doing anything, obviously, because they don't have a speaker at the House, and there's no actual end in sight for that yet. When you hear about President Biden making that pitch, asking for that aid, I mean, is it not only falling on deaf ears, but also hands that cannot do anything about it?

COLLINS: Yeah, it's going to a paralyzed Congress tomorrow when he sends this over. I mean, the Senate seems very clear that they would like to pass this. You've heard from some senators who disagree with funding for Ukraine. But overall, there is a pretty unanimous consensus in the Senate from both Democrats and Republicans.

In the House, you know, there's not even consensus within the republican conference. They can't decide who they want to elect them. They're debating whether or not they should empower the guy who is temporarily in the position, really just as a caretaker to do it the job through January because Jim Jordan cannot get the votes.

And so, it really doesn't strike. When you listen to President Biden's speech tonight, this rare Oval Office address, only the second time he has addressed the country from there, and then you think about down Pennsylvania Avenue at Capitol Hill, I mean, Republicans are behind closed doors essentially, yelling expletives at one another, blocking each other on Twitter, fighting and cannot elect a House speaker.

So, President Biden says, ultimately, he does believe that will get resolved, this aid will get passed, but it is quite a notable roadblock.

COATES: Kaitlan Collins, thank you so much.

Look, as President Biden is calling for more American aid for Ukraine and also Israel, I want to take a look at just what the U.S. has provided so far. I got CNN's Tom Foreman. He's at the magic wall to break it all down for us tonight. So, Tom, what can you tell us?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, since Russia invaded Ukraine in early 2022, the U.S. has sent tanks and missiles and artillery and helicopters, drones, missile defense systems, troop transports, radar, loads of infantry weapons and equipment, and so on. In all, more than $75 billion worth of aid has gone to Ukraine from the U.S. And military spending, this part right here, accounts for well over half of that total. That is much, much more than the U.S. sends to any other country, and it absolutely dwarfs American contributions to Israel, which in 2021 was in the typical range of $3 to $4 billion, Laura.

COATES: Wow. That's -- I mean, just seeing the numbers laid out, it's really stunning to think about. And that's quite a difference.


I mean, we have recent CNN polling, I think, on what Americans actually think about what you've just described. Let's start with Israel. What do those polls say?

FOREMAN: Yeah, if you look at these, American sympathy for Israel is on a real upswing right now. So, you might expect strong support for that relatively modest amount of U.S. aid to Israel.

But the numbers paint a murkier picture. Thirty-five percent of Americans say the current level of aid is about right, 15% say it's too much, 14% say it's too little, and 36%, the largest single group here, say they're unsure.

And an interesting side note in this, the numbers show that Republicans and those who watch the news closely are more favorable to this current level of aid, Laura.

COATES: So, what about Ukraine funding? Is there polling about that?

FOREMAN: Yeah. Yeah, we have one from back in August. And in that case, it shows a dramatic drop since the early days of the war, when a large majority of Americans favored help to Ukraine, whether it's because of the length of the conflict or the raw amount of money that's sent that way.

Fifty-five percent of Americans, this number right down here, they are currently saying there should be no additional funding for Ukraine, and 45% say the money should keep flowing.

And here, Republicans are saying that's enough spending for Ukraine. They strongly oppose more spending. And Democrats solidly favor more money for the fight against the Russians.

So, all of these numbers, put all this together, put together the turmoil up on Capitol Hill, that's what President Biden is up against when he made that speech tonight, and what he'll be up against in coming days.

COATES: Tom Foreman, thank you for breaking it all down. It was really helpful to see the numbers right there. I appreciate it.

Well, President Biden is making a direct plea tonight to the American people, and he is calling aid for Israel and Ukraine. He's calling it an investment. But did he make his case? I'll ask the experts.

And later, I'll talk with the uncle of Natalee Holloway just days after her killer confessed.




COATES: Two wars, two U.S. allies in need of aid, and President Biden directly appealing to Americans for U.S. support in the wars in Israel and also in Ukraine, calling this an inflection point in history.

Joining me now to discuss, Robin Wright, columnist for "The New Yorker" and fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, who has been covering conflicts in the region for decades. Also, CNN military analyst and retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton.

You know, I want to really tap in to both of your expertise because it is vast. Robin, beginning with you. President Biden gave this Oval Office speech. What was your reaction to it?

ROBIN WRIGHT, COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORKER: Well, clearly, this was a domestic pitch to try to get the American people to support two wars in which the United States is deeply involved as a major arms supplier, as a major diplomatic force standing behind the governments in Kiev and Tel Aviv, Jerusalem.

So, this is a moment where the United States -- he has to make the case. He made it in very strong terms. The question is whether the American people, because of their own emotional feelings or attachments, want to support him in what is likely to be a long-term on both sides, and whether the kind of emotions of the moment overtake, as we've seen, not only in the United States but around the world.

COATES: We are seeing the numbers, Cedric, and you look at it, and there is the request to be invested in two long-term scenarios, Ukraine, Israel. Did he make the case?

CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST, RETIRED AIR FORCE COLONEL: I think he did. Now, of course, it depends on one's predilections and one's views of how this is supposed to work. But, you know, President Biden harkens back to basically the time of FDR, where he looks at a world in which there's good and there's evil. And he sees the democracies as being on the good side, autocracies being on the side of evil.

And he believes that the panoply that we're dealing with, the areas that we're dealing with, are really a contrast between an autocracy on the one side like Russia, which invades Ukraine, and Hamas, which in essence invaded, to an extent, Israel.

And so, he's seeing that and he's saying, these forces are on the march. And now that these forces are moving forward, we need to confront them, we need to stop them from going ahead and changing our way of life. COATES: I mean, Biden did speak today about the possibility of this spreading. Listen.


BIDEN: The risk of conflict and chaos could spread in other parts of the world, in the Indo-Pacific, in the Middle East, especially in the Middle East. Iran is supporting Russia in Ukraine and is supporting Hamas and other terrorist groups in the region, and will continue to hold them accountable, I might add.


COATES: You've said before, Robin, that you think this is really us being on the precipice of something. Do you think so?

WRIGHT: Yes. In the last 48 hours, we've seen attacks on U.S. positions in Syria, places where U.S. troops are based in Iraq. The Houthis of Yemen are believed to have fired missiles and drones at Israel, and the United States shot them down. We've seen on the Lebanese border firefights from both Hezbollah and the Palestinian hardline factions along that border.

There's a real danger that -- these are all parties that have been on the sidelines of this war until now. Neither or none of them, I think, wants necessarily to fight a larger war.


But the question is, is there such momentum? Is there such passion and fury now that it's possible to draw them back? And once the United States deploys in the region, not only do we show our muscle, but we also become targets. And the question is, if we fire the first shot, as we did against these drones and missiles from Yemen, does that make us a party to a conflict?

COATES: You know, in the last two days, I think it's frankly very scary, what you described, because it has such a level of imminent feeling and foreboding and thinking about what could be next. Just a few days ago, we were wondering when there would be a greenlit ground incursion or ground invasion. We're not there anymore or are we?

LEIGHTON: Well, it could happen. But there are some mitigating circumstances right now, I think, in terms of, you know, whether or not the Israelis in a tactical sense are going to move forward into Gaza. The problem that they have is, on the one hand, they've got all these forces deployed, you know, 300,000 reservists that they called up, 360,000 actually, and they are, you know, poised to move forward both against Gaza and potentially Southern Lebanon as well against Hezbollah.

But the other part of the problem is humanitarian. There are those corridors that they say they're establishing at the southern border with Gaza and Egypt. And if that is opened, then, of course, they can't have conflict in that particular area of Gaza, at least, Gaza is very small place, until that issue is resolved one way or the other. So, there's a potential that the invasion or incursion has been delayed a bit, but there's also a potential that it could move forward. We are kind of at that teetering edge right now at this point.

COATES: You said earlier, just that point as well, Robin, I mean, the Pentagon actually was confirming today that the USS Carney shot down three land attack missiles and several drones launched by Iran-backed Houthi forces in Yemen. It's not clear precisely where they were aimed, but they were headed north towards Israel, obviously. I wonder, you mentioned the notion of U.S. intervention, are we being lured in? Is this something that you anticipated?

WRIGHT: Well, the United States has always taken a strong position on the side of Israel and it will do what it can to help defend it in terms of supplying it. It doesn't want to engage in Israel's war. This is something that is an Israeli war.

I think the danger is that all of the forces or many of the forces, the militias across the region, most of them allied with Iran, now have missiles, drones and rockets, all capable of hitting Israel. And they have what's known as overmatch, that Israel can't defend against all of them, all at the same time, if they all unleashed what they have. And so --

COATES: That would require a lot of coordination, though.

WRIGHT: It requires coordination, but, you know, Israel doesn't know when these might attack, where it needs to deploy, what it needs to defend against. So, you know, this again is -- there is more firepower, more passion, better trained militias with more funding than at any time in the modern Middle East conflict dating back to 1948.

LEIGHTON: What's interesting about this, and that's absolutely correct, what Robin is saying, the other part of this, though, is notice where the U.S. forces are deployed. You've got the USS Carney in the Red Sea, just south of the Suez Canal, and it was in a position where it could actually intercept those missiles and those drones.

We have forces in Iraq and Syria, basically along Iran's periphery, at least the western periphery, and so there's a message also to the Iranians. We are here. They are sending stuff against us, but we are in these areas so that we can also do things against them should we choose to do so.

COATES: Will it be enough? That's the question that will loom for everyone to try to answer. Not tonight. Thank you so much, both of you.

WRIGHT: Thank you.

LEIGHTON: Thank you.

COATES: Natalee Holloway's killer confessing almost 20 years after her disappearance. I'm going to talk with the family's private investigator and a reporter who has been covering that story since the very beginning.




COATES: After 18 years, the man long suspected of killing Alabama teen Natalee Holloway has confessed.


JORAN VAN DER SLOOT, KILLER (voice-over): I decide to take her and to put her into the ocean. So, I grab her and I half pull and half walk with her into the ocean. I push her off. I walk up to about my knees into the ocean and I push her off into -- into the -- into the -- into the sea.


COATES: Joran van der Sloot, admitting that he killed the 18-year-old in Aruba with a cinder block after she kneed him in the crotch when he tried to make unwanted sexual advances.

The confession came as part of a plea deal stemming from charges in which he tried to extort money from Holloway's own mother in exchange for information about her remains.

Joining me now, "Inside Edition" chief correspondent Jim Moret. He has covered this story from the beginning and spent time with Natalee's mother. Also here is T.J. Ward, the private investigator who worked on this case for the Holloway family. I'm glad that you're both here. This has been a case that has captivated the nation for literally decades as to what happened to this young woman.


Jim, were you surprised that he confessed and now?

JIM MORET, CHIEF CORRESPONDENT, INSIDE EDITION: I think I was relieved he confessed. You know, I know that -- that Beth and likely Matt, her son, her ex-husband, Natalee's dad, Dave, and her half- sister, none of them believe the apology that Joran gave, but they all believe the confession. And really, that's all that matters.

Prosecutors believe it. He was given a polygraph yarn (ph). And whether you can say he tricked it or not, prosecutors were happy with that. But they have been looking. The families are looking for a definitive answer, a declaration of guilt, a declaration that Joran was indeed the killer, not the suspect.

And so, the fact that the family now has peace, I think, is the relevant point. He's not going to serve any additional time. He is going to serve 20 years, which is concurrent with what he's serving in Peru, anyway, but at least it closes that part of the investigation in this horrible journey for the family. COATES: And in Peru, another separate killing as well is what he is serving for. T.J, does what he says -- I take -- I understand Jim's point and this is a family that has been seeking the truth, wants closure, it deserves it as well, does what he says happen line up with what you had found during your own investigation in Aruba?

T.J. WARD, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR FOR THE HOLLOWAY FAMILY: Well, good evening. Thanks for having me. One of the problems I have is what his end result, that he put her into the water, into the ocean. I don't believe that was the end result. Back when Beth and I were both on the island and I was conducting the investigation, I learned and I bet that I also learned that there was a boat brought in, and I believe that Paulus van der Sloot made that decision to bring a boat in and told Joran to get out of there.

COATES: That's the father?

WARD: Yes, Paulus van der Sloot, Joran's father, I believe that Joran, after this happened, called his father and told him what happened. I think his father told him to leave and just secure her body. I believe and also Beth had heard the same that Paulus's men brought a boat in and they removed her body.

There's no way that he could have pushed her in the ocean because she would have washed back up. They probably put her in a boat and took her out if in fact that she was in the water and his truth about her being in the ocean is a fact.

COATES: Jim, you're nodding. And, of course, the father has not been charged in connection --

MORET: Yeah.

COATES: -- with this and the guilty plea, but you're nodding. It seems that you agree.

MORET: Yeah, it doesn't make sense when you talk about your own -- his statement that he walked in halfway up to his knees and then dumped her and pushed her out, it's not likely that she would have, in fact, washed away. What's I think important is his acknowledgement that he says, I did this.

And he did bring out some facts that we frankly didn't know. We now know, and I think that Beth takes solace in this, that her daughter fought back. She didn't like this man's advances. She fought back, and then she unfortunately paid with her life.

But at least we have some more information. And, you know, it's just a page and a half, this transcript of his confession, and it's just so haunting. You played a portion, it's very disturbing. But frankly, at least it gives some closure. And Beth has said very publicly, we can now say he's the killer, he's no longer the suspect, and that gives her some peace.

COATES: It's an extraordinary point, just thinking about what Natalee endured, and that this confession was the result of her fighting back and trying to prevent his unwanted advances, and this, the result. T.J., was there ever a time, though, that you thought that not that he didn't act alone, but that he was not the killer?

WARD: Oh, I knew all along he was involved at some point. And one thing that really bothers me after I got on to the island is that the lead investigator, van der Straaten, something wasn't right about him.

So, I started looking into him, and I learned that van der Straaten was van der Sloot's godfather, his dad's best friend, and worked in the administration justice with Paulus van der Sloot from '95 to '98. So, that was a little disturbing to know that this investigation was not prompt and doing wholeheartedly.

COATES: It's unbelievable to think about that almost 20 years has transpired and now, this has happened, that family having closure. We're actually going to speak to a member of Natalee's family, next.

Thank you both for joining us. This is an unbelievable story and closure for the family is what is deserved.


Thank you both.

WARD: Thank you.

MORET: Thank you.

COATES: Well, Natalee Holloway's uncle in his first interview since Joran van der Sloot confessed to killing his niece, Natalee.


COATES: She desperately searched for answers and even paid the man suspected of killing her daughter in the hopes of finding a clue, any clue, about what happened to her child. Now, Natalee Holloway's mother has finally learned the truth.


HOLLOWAY: I got the answer I've been searching for the past 18 years. Joran van der Sloot's confession means we've finally reached the end of our never-ending nightmare.


And for me, reaching the end of the nightmare, being over is better than closure.


COATES: Joining me now, Paul Reynolds, Natalee's uncle, the brother of her mother, Beth. I'm glad that you're here, Paul. It's just been a nightmare for your family. I can't even imagine what you have endured. And now after 18 years, as Beth said, it's finally over. What is that meant to your family knowing what happened to Natalee? PAUL REYNOLDS, NATALEE HOLLOWAY'S UNCLE: Well, Laura, the first thing I'd like to say is how proud I am of my sister and in all of what she has been through and what she has been able to accomplish. It's hard to believe it has been 18 years since Natalee disappeared.

You know, I think back to all the amazing people that came to Aruba to help search for Natalee. People came on vacation. People left their families on vacation to come and help search for Natalee. It was so surprising and meaningful to me how Natalee captured people's attention. They were all hoping for her safe return.

And now, today, we finally have closure. And so, what happened? This was a never-ending search for my sister, to find out what happened to her daughter.

When Joran was convicted of killing Stephany Flores in Peru, Beth traveled to Peru and went to the prison and confronted Joran, really just to let him know she was still looking for answers. And the quest to have him extradited was amazing. Beth had so many people supporting her that bring him back to the U.S. and face these charges so that she could find out what happened and get to the truth.

COATES: Unbelievable to think about just the depth of a mother's love for her daughter, to just be relentless, to try to bring justice, and on her daughter's behalf, you have said it so well. He has confessed. He has not been charged with her death specifically, though. Is the family processing that?

REYNOLDS: Well, I think the processing was -- a lot of the processing was done leading up to this final event which occurred this week. This was -- this was a goal, to find out what happened, to have Joran, let Beth know what happened.

There were so many questions before. There was always the slimmest hope that Natalee could still be alive and could be somewhere needing us. I remember several years ago, the three girls were found in -- I think it was Ohio, that been held captive in a house for 13 years. And we always wondered, could that be Natalee? Could she be held somewhere?

So, today has allowed -- this week has allowed my sister to rest, to rest from the search, to have confidence in the knowledge of what occurred, and gives her a chance to begin to grieve, to know what occurred and how it happened.

It's clear that Joran is -- I want to say a sick person. I mean, killing two people brutally is just unbelievable. And it was very hard for my sister and our family to hear the words as to what happened. It's difficult to hear, but it was important to hear so that there is an opportunity to rest and move forward.

COATES: Must have been excruciating to hear from his own mouth after what he has done to the family, the extortion, all the years that has gone by while you have fought. Did you have a chance to say anything? If not, what would you say to him tonight? REYNOLDS: I don't know that he even deserves any words. He is no longer the focus. The focus for Beth, I believe, and for myself is just Natalee and the memories that we have of her. We have let go of Jaron, and he's going to go back to Peru and serve the sentence there. So, he's no longer important to us. It's the knowledge of what happened and that my sister can now rest.


COATES: I'm so glad that Beth can now rest and your family, and may this beautiful, young woman, Natalee, rest now in peace. Paul Reynolds, thank you so much.

REYNOLDS: All right. Thank you for having me.

COATES: We have more breaking news tonight. The Army private who fled to North Korea in July, do you remember this story? Running across the border after joining a civilian tour? Well, he has now been charged with desertion. Private Travis King is facing a total of eight charges, including assault of soldiers and solicitation of child pornography. The 23-year-old private arrived back in the U.S. earlier this month after being expelled by North Korea. CNN has reached out to the Army for comment.

Everyone, thank you for watching. Our coverage continues after this short break.