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Laura Coates Live

Mike Johnson Picked As New GOP Speaker Nominee Just Hours After Tom Emmer Drops Bid; Mark Meadows Received Immunity To Testify To Special Counsel In Federal Election Interference Case; Former Trump Campaign Lawyer Jenna Ellis Pleads Guilty In GA Case; Israeli-Hamas War Continues; Lawsuit Seeks To Block Trump From Colorado 2024 Ballot. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired October 24, 2023 - 23:00   ET




ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: It has been a busy, busy night of news. Thank you so much for watching "NewsNight." Laura Coates with "Laura Coates Live" starts right now. Laura, you've got a lot to fix with what's going on in Washington.

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Oh, you think I can fix it? Hold on, I'm the one to fix this? No, no, no, you will not put that on me today.

PHILLIP: Laura alone can fix it.

COATES: Well, then you have some very high, high hopes. Thank you so much, Abby Phillip. Nice to see you as always. And we do have, to her point, there is breaking news out there, and Republicans are just now choosing another speaker designee. The big question is, how long will this one last? That's' tonight on "Laura Coates Live."

All right, everyone, Mike Johnson, come on down. You're the next contestant on the next speaker, right? Well, for the fourth time in three weeks, Republicans have chosen another speaker designee. Congressman Mike Johnson was elected with 128 votes. Do the math, that's less than 217, you do realize.

And get this, Kevin McCarthy, who was kicked out of the job three weeks ago, received 43 votes, the next highest tally, which means it's Groundhog Day all over again. Just go ahead and queue up Bill Murray to see if this time, they can get it right.

But, of course, no one knows the answer to this question: What are the chances that anybody can come to 217 votes needed to win the gavel with the way that things stand right now?

Plus, remember earlier today, if you were tuning in, it was a different person who was going to be the person voted on the House floor. It was Tom Emmer. He has now dropped out of the race after Donald Trump thanked him with a blistering social media takedown on the day that he happened to be in court in New York City. The former president trying to control one of the few things maybe he can control. The MAGA wing of the party still causing chaos in the House and controlling what it does and how it can truly move.

Now, as the court cases are swirling around, the former president, now the person that you're seeing over there or maybe over there, Mark Meadows is reportedly talking to prosecutors.

ABC News reporting that Donald Trump's former chief of staff was granted immunity by Special Counsel Jack Smith, and they're reporting that he has met with federal prosecutors at least three times this year alone in their investigation into the efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Now, CNN has reached out to Meadows's attorney for comment. But, what Mark Meadows tells investigators may really be the closest thing to getting inside of Donald Trump's head. Learning his state of mind. That's the kind of thing that makes juries, well, they stand up, they take notice, and they lean on in.

But you know when you get immunity, there are always strings attached. They're not handing it out like Halloween candy. There are strings attached. The question is, what are those strings and what will it mean for Donald Trump?

And that's not only the bad news for the former president today. There is also his ex-campaign attorney, Jenna Ellis, seen here, pleading guilty in the Georgia elections subversion case, following now Sidney Powell, Ken Chesebro. They also pled guilty just last week.

Now, Ellis pleading guilty to one felony count at aiding and abetting false statements in writing, and she gave, well, the tearful apology in court today.


JENNA ELLIS, TRUMP CAMPAIGN LAWYER: I relied on others, including lawyers with many more years of experience than I, to provide me with true and reliable information, especially since my role involved speaking to the media and to legislators in various states.


COATES: Hmm. A kind of epiphany, huh? What kind of epiphany was that? One of convenience? We'll have to see because after all, this is the same Jenna Ellis who stood up with Rudy Giuliani, who, I assume, is one of the lawyers she talks about having more experience.

Sidney Powell perhaps as well, standing behind them to push bogus election lies. So, is she now signaling that she might implicate someone else and who that bigger fish or more experienced attorney might very well be? The big question tonight is, who is the most nervous tonight?

And our breaking news, Republicans, as I said, they've chosen another speaker nominee, Representative Mike Johnson. [23:05:00]

This after another speaker bid went down in flames earlier today.

Let's go right to CNN's Melanie Zanona, who joins us from Capitol Hill. Melanie, I mean, this has been a whiplash after whiplash, day in and day out, I'm sure, for you and everyone else. Congressman Mike Johnson has now clinched the nomination. Bring us up to speed.

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Laura, after three weeks of chaos and turmoil inside the GOP with a speakerless House, it finally looks like the end might be near. Now, Laura, if you have some fresh issues with this republican conference, it would be understandable because the past three nominees for speaker have not been able to get the job done. They all had to drop out of the race.

But this latest candidate, Mike Johnson, who just clinched the nomination, he just took a very key vote behind closed doors. It's a positive sign for Mike Johnson because in that vote, they had lawmakers voting on whether they would back him on the House floor. And only three members said that they would vote present. No one voted against Johnson and every single other member said that they would ultimately back Mike Johnson on the floor.

Now, there were around 20 absences, so Mike Johnson is going to work with those members through the night. They're going to try to do a floor vote tomorrow at noon. But he also had a press conference with the entire conference around him, they rallied everyone inside that room, and it looks like he might be the next speaker of the House.

And I think one thing that he really had going for him, Laura, is the fact that at this point, members are just exhausted. They were desperate to find someone, perhaps anyone. And really, it's interesting that this contest has shaped up to be not who is the most likable candidate but who was the least hated candidate.

And Mike Johnson, you know, he's a member of the Judiciary Committee. He was a lower member of the leadership level. He is well-liked by conservatives, not hated by moderates. And so, it looks like he might finally be able to get the gavel. But we'll have to wait and see because it has been, as you mentioned, whiplash and unpredictability in this House Republican Conference.

COATES: No wonder there are trust issues. And, of course, as you mentioned, those who are saying behind closed doors that they will vote, we've seen in the past that there have been defectors. Boehner can attest to that, of course. People behind closed doors said, yeah, you've got my vote, but on the floor, it's a different story. What are Republicans saying about Kevin McCarthy's role in all of this?

ZANONA: Well, I talked to multiple Republicans who said that they believe that Kevin McCarthy has been trying to sabotage every single nominee up until this point. Him and Steve Scalise, who is the first Republican nominee, have had a very rocky relationship over the years. They said he was working behind the scenes to try to boot Jim Jordan over him. And even up recently, during this last round of ballots, there were 33 Republicans who were still voting for Kevin McCarthy on these ballots despite the fact that Kevin McCarthy was not in the race.

And so, there was a lot of mistrust in the ranks about McCarthy and his allies and what their motivations were.

You know, I think big picture here, Laura, even if Republicans do get a speaker tomorrow, there are just so many wounds inside the party. I was talking to one member who said they might be able to move on from this, but healing is going to take a lot longer.

And they have all these critical issues that they're immediately going to have to address. Whether that's government funding, which expires on the November 17th, or aid for Israel and aid for Ukraine, all these issues have been on the backburner. But we'll see whether they can get it done tomorrow, Laura.

COATES: Somebody better call Dr. Phil. Melanie Zanona --


-- thank you so much. Good to see you. I mean, did you hear that? I want to bring in right now CNN senior data reporter Harry Enten along with CNN political commentator Scott Jennings, who's also the former special assistant to President George W. Bush. I almost didn't introduce you all because you need no introduction.

But did you hear that notion about McCarthy sabotaging? That's the thought. Of course, he did stand up on the floor to talk about Jim Jordan and talk about the relationship they've had. But what is your reaction tonight, Scott, knowing that there is now another person, his name is now going to be put forth, we've been here before?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, but it feels different tonight. What you're hearing from Republicans is that Johnson is well liked --

COATES: Or just not hated as much.

JENNINGS: Yeah, doesn't really have any enemies. You know, these other people all had pockets of enemies. Johnson doesn't appear to have that. He's a straight shooter with upper management written all over him.


I mean, he -- but in all seriousness, the -- uh, his personality is so affable, and so you just keep hearing from members, like, I like this guy. And there's a lot of fatigue that I think has set in. But the underlying realities have changed for him.

A spending deal has to get done with Democrats. The aid package is just lying out there. A farm bill, you know, that a lot of conservatives never vote for is coming around the bend. And Republicans only control one leg of the negotiating stool here, which he would be in charge of.

So, there's a lot of optimism and, you know, relief that the idea of this getting done tomorrow is within sight.

COATES: But the numbers, again, right, 217 is the goal.


COATES: They've got what? Two hundred and twenty-one total members, but no consensus so far.

ENTEN: No consensus so far. The margin of error is so thin.


You know, we should keep in mind, number one, this is the smallest GOP majority in 20 years, and it's the most ideologically-diverse republican majority ever. I was looking back at roll call votes. It's the most ideologically diverse majority ever. And when you have such a small majority, that makes things awfully difficult.

But what I will point out, although I don't have a scale, any statistics on likeability within the caucus, I haven't taken a poll of GOP caucus, I will say Johnson's ideological record kind of fits right in the center of that caucus. So, he is somebody who can hold on to those moderates and perhaps also appease those very conservative Republicans who, of course, tanked Emmer earlier today.

COATES: I can't get my mind to go past the notion of a potential saboteur. Maybe it's the reality show junkie within me that's going, who is this ousted villain (ph) that's happening? But is there a chance, if you're McCarthy, who doesn't think that he ought to have been ousted for any reason, we actually still don't know what deals he may have made over the success of 15 rounds to get that gavel, just seeing the lack of consensus now, do you think there's any truth to maybe he's waiting for the right moment for people to say, well, why don't you just come back?

JENNINGS: Well, there was murmuring all day that if they couldn't find somebody, that McCarthy, you know -- you know, there is even rumors of a power sharing agreement between --


JENNINGS: -- McCarthy and maybe bringing --

COATES: What was that -- what was that about? Him and Jim Jordan.


COATES: What would that have even meant?

JENNINGS: Well, it was the idea that they were going to try to appease, you know, all wings of the party and get everybody on board with that. Pelosi, by the way, did this once before. She had a power sharing with a representative but -- or an assistant. ENTEN: Yeah.

JENNINGS: But then you saw McCarthy start to get some votes tonight in some of the conference meetings. He wasn't even nominated, but he was getting some votes. So that murmuring got a little louder. And then Johnson took control of it. And so, now, he had nobody vote against him. There were some absences tonight.

But it doesn't feel like there's a faction that's sort of the hell no faction. You had that with every other person. And with Emmer, who I would argue got knifed harder than anybody today by Donald Trump, that's what sank him ultimately. That just hasn't emerged yet in the last few minutes with Johnson.

And I also just think these Republicans are tired of this fiasco. And if Johnson is well liked and appeases multiple wings of the conference, and this is a chance to put this behind them and move forward, a lot of folks just may jump at it.

COATES: Well, how's the GOP base looking at this? Because this -- I mean, words like embarrassing have come up repeatedly. Chaos, circus, clown car, all these things have come out. What's the base thinking?

ENTEN: Yeah, I mean, look, if you ask very conservative Republican voters, they are the folks who have been the hardest. You know, on Tom Emmer, they were the hardest on Kevin McCarthy. And they're of the belief that they want to stand firm. They want their congressional GOP to stand firm. They don't want compromise. They don't like that word compromise.

We see that in the polling. Fifty-two percent among very conservative Republicans basically say these representatives should stand firm, don't compromise, even if nothing gets done. And that, I think, is the group that needs to be appeased the most.

Johnson at this point looks like he has those very conservative Republicans, but we'll have to wait and see.

JENNINGS: And how much leash will they give him?

ENTEN: Yeah, there you go.

JENNINGS: Because the funding deadline for government comes up in mid- November, and he is going to have to deal with the other party on this and on the aid for Ukraine and Israel, and even if you throw border in there. So, we'll see if these conservatives, who may be happy with him today, will they give him the latitude to operate and move the institution forward or are they going to keep him on a very short --

COATES: You can't -- you can't -- you can't overstate the fact that -- as the why you had Emmer be tanked by Trump, and then, obviously, Johnson supported it. I mean, one was the whip, and then you have the deputy whip in Johnson. The difference between the two of them is who was supporting Trump. Right?

JENNINGS: Yeah. I believe Johnson -- I need to double check. COATES: He's the deputy whip.

JENNINGS: I believe while he was the --

COATES: He has been the vice chair of the House Republican --

ENTEN: Right.

COATES: -- Caucus twice as well.

JENNINGS: If I'm not mistaken, I believe he may have helped in Trump's impeachment trials.


COATES: Oh, absolutely he did.

JENNINGS: I believe he defended Trump. And so, there's probably some good feelings there as well. So --

COATES: And an amicus brief in support of the Texas A.G. --


COATES: -- about the election and the electoral college. There's a lot of goodwill there, but we'll have to see because, you know, wait 20 minutes, the weather might change.

ENTEN: Who knows? Maybe it will snow tomorrow.

COATES: I mean, there was a frost advisory around this area.

JENNINGS: Hope spring is eternal.

COATES: All right. Well, we've --

JENNINGS: I'm knocking on.

COATES: We've exhausted all the weather out, the weather now just tonight. Thank you. Harry Enten, Scott Jennings, thank you both.

Next, what is Mark Meadows telling prosecutors and what will it mean for Donald Trump? We'll have the very latest on the ABC News report you've all heard about that Mark Meadows received immunity to testify to Special Counsel Jack Smith in the federal election subversion probe.



COATES: Well, ABC News is reporting tonight that Donald Trump's former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, has been granted immunity by Special Counsel Jack Smith. Meadows has reportedly met with federal prosecutors for multiple times in their investigation into the efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Now, we have reached out to Meadows's attorney for comment.

Let's talk now with two former Trump White House aides, former Trump White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham and former White House deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews. Glad to have you both here.

Sarah, let me begin with you. This has been quite a day between Jenna Ellis and now Mark Meadows. What has been your reaction? Who should be the most nervous tonight?

SARAH MATTHEWS, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: I think that Donald Trump has to be shaking in his boots right now. I mean, this was, like you said, a blockbuster day in terms of witness cooperation. First, you have Jenna Ellis in Georgia, who took a plea deal, and is now agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors and testify against Donald Trump and the other co-conspirators.

And this is someone that Donald Trump would know well. She would talk to him regularly because she was one of his key people on T.V., and that's what he cared about most, was his image that was being represented on T.V. And so, she would have definitely had the ear of the president.

And then you look to Mark Meadows.


His own chief of staff now being reported by ABC, that he is cooperating potentially and has an immunity of some sort with the DOJ. And Mark Meadows was a very central figure when it came to the effort to try to overturn the election in January 6.

And I think that we've seen oftentimes with Donald Trump that he will try to say, oh, well, I didn't really know that person. We saw him do it with Sidney Powell. He said, well, she wasn't really my lawyer. He can't really do that with Mark Meadows, can he? This was his own chief of staff, his right hand. So, he definitely has to be very nervous about these developments today.

COATES: You know, I want to read for you a part of what he had to say on Truth Social. He's weighing in, surprise, surprise. He's saying in part -- quote -- "I don't think Mark Meadows would lie about the rigged and stolen 2020 presidential election, merely forgetting IMMUNITY -- all caps -- against prosecution. Some people would make that deal, but they are weaklings and cowards. I don't think that Mark Meadows is one of them, but who really knows?"

What's this code? Unpack it.

MATTHEWS: Sounds a lot like witness tampering to me. I'm no legal expert, but it definitely sounds like he's trying to intimidate Mark Meadows a little bit, because he knows that Mark Meadows was in the room and in these meetings and part of these conversations and would know a lot.

And so, he has to be worried if Mark Meadows is talking with the DOJ. That could spell trouble for him because Mark Meadows is definitely smart to cooperate if he's doing so because Donald Trump, we've seen time and time again, is loyal to no one. He only cares about loyalty in return. And so, it would be very smart of Meadows to cooperate if this reporting ends up being true.

COATES: Let me bring you in here, Stephanie. I'm eager to hear what you have to say about this because I -- and I remember, you wrote in your book. You wrote, if there was a scale of awfulness in the Trump White House, with five being the most terrible person around, I'd give Mark Meadows a 12. Well, you're not playing any punches there, Stephanie. What's been your reaction to this news?

STEPHANIE GRISHAM, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I actually think I lowballed that number, by the way. But --


GRISHAM: -- today's news, actually, it did surprise me a little bit, and I am rarely surprised when it comes to kind of anything Trump- related. I think that Trump -- as Sarah just said, Trump got to be extremely worried. That tweet that you read or the social posts that he did that you read, that was definitely a veiled threat. Having worked for him for five years, and I know all of his codes, that was a veiled threat.

I think that, you know, if the DOJ is going to offer Mark Meadows immunity, when you've got to imagine that for three years, Mark Meadows has done nothing but kind of side with Trump and say the election was stolen, he wrote an entire book saying that he stands by the fact that the election is stolen, you know, I'm not a lawyer either, but that's a pretty damaged witness. And so, to me, the fact that DOJ offered him immunity means there's a lot more to this.

And Sarah is right, especially at the end, Mark Meadows never, ever left Trump's side. He was there for everything. So, I think there's going to be a lot more that comes out of this.

COATES: I mean, this -- as a lawyer, you think about the credibility and the reliability of what he has to say, in part because of the book, the consistency or the inconsistencies that are at play here. He actually reportedly told federal prosecutors and investigators that he repeatedly told Trump that 2020 voting fraud claims were baseless. But then in the book, it is contradicted.

And his own claims in his book, and he wrote in part, I'll read this for you, the people who rigged this election knew that eventually, these irregularities would come to light. The people asking questions about the election were only reacting to what they were seeing -- actual evidence of fraud, right there in plain sight for anyone to access and analyze.

So, he says that he told Trump the truth, but then the book says something different. Credibility and reliability. Stephanie, what do you see?

GRISHAM: I mean, it's perfect Mark Meadows. He talks out of both sides of his mouth. So, imagine after the election was over and Donald Trump had lost, Mark probably still saw a path for himself professionally and politically. And so, I think he wrote the book to try and stay within, you know, Trump's good graces. And I think he was going to ride that wave as long as he could.

But now, I think he saw that he was in real, real trouble, and he went the path that he -- the only path he could, which is to get immunity. And again, it's all looking out for Mark Meadows.

Now look, I'm happy he's doing it. I'm happy if this is all true that he's doing it. I think that, you know, everybody can do the right thing. I was glad to see what Jenna did this morning. So, everybody can do the right thing. Sometimes, their motives might not be for the best, but at the end of the day, you know, Mark Meadows does what's best for him. I've never faltered from that, and I think this is the exact same situation.

COATES: Well, we'll see. I mean, that statement about, I don't think that Mark Meadows is one of them, but who really knows, it does have a little bit of the feeling of, it's a nice place you got here. Hate to see anything happening to it.

Stephanie Grisham, Sarah Matthews, thank you both so much.

GRISHAM: Thank you.


COATES: Well, look, Mark Meadows -- I mean, we're talking about him right now. But he's not the only person that Donald Trump actually may be worrying about today. Jenna Ellis, remember her? One of his former attorneys now flipping on him in the Georgia trial or at least pleading guilty, and another former attorney taking the stand against him in yet another trial. This might be called the avalanche part of the election season (ph). We'll be right back.


COATES: Well, there has been quite the dramatic day in court or should I say courts? Because it was a tearful Jenna Ellis apologizing for her role in the Georgia election subversion case in a guilty plea.


Then you had the former Trump fixer, Michael Cohen, taking the stand today as a key witness against Trump in the New York A.G. civil fraud case against the former president.

And that brings us to a striking development today in Special Counsel Jack Smith's 2020 election case against Donald Trump, a reported immunity deal with Mark Meadows. Are the walls closing in or is this just par for, well, the Trump golf course?

Let's discuss now with CNN legal analyst and former White House ethics czar, Ambassador Norm Eisen, and Attorney Marcus Childress, who served as investigative counsel to the House January 6th Committee. Glad to have you both here. This has been quite a day in terms of the courts and what this could mean of all the different legal matters.

Norm, Mark Meadows had constant access to Trump. He would have been in the proverbial rooms where things were happening. There's a lot made about one's state of mind and what he could tell. Is that what you're looking for here or is it more?

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: According to the press reports, prosecutors have grilled him about whether or not Meadows believed these claims were true, that the election was stolen, Meadows said no, and about whether Trump was being honest or not.

And Meadows has said he thinks -- again, according to press reports, he thinks that Trump was not honest. That's devastating. We'll talk about other evidence that came into the official record today about Trump's state of mind. But I think the reported Meadows testimony is a body blow on just that point, criminal intent.

COATES: Marcus, you saw it as part of the January 6th Committee, obviously, testimony from Mark Meadows for a lot of the reasons we've just described. The access, what he would have been privy to, what he would have told, and what he understood or heard from Donald Trump. He did not obviously appear and was not helpful to January 6th Committee. What were you looking to hear from him about?

MARCUS CHILDRESS, FORMER JANUARY 6 COMMITTEE INVESTIGATIVE COUNSEL: I don't think it's much different than what the Department of Justice was looking for from him, from what we heard from reports today. He had access to the former president.

We wanted to know what the former president and those around him thought about the election. For example, Mr. Meadows reportedly said today that, of course, we didn't win the election. That's important for the former president's actions after the fact. Like on December 19th, now you're calling people to come to D.C. for this rally that was allegedly stolen from you. And then what you were doing in the 187 minutes while people were attacking the Capitol, attacking democracy on lies that you knew were lies.

And so, that's why we wanted to talk to Mr. Meadows, to understand what did everyone in that room actually know about the election, and then what were your actions after the fact having known that the election was lawful.

COATES: It's an important part to think about. And, of course, the immunity is not given out like candy. There are strings attached to it. I do wonder what Mark Meadows has to do in order to secure it. Obviously, testifying, as others would.

But I want to talk more deeply about -- that's just one of the issues. Jenna Ellis, another important factor here. Certainly, we've seen her in those press conferences besides Rudy Giuliani, besides Sidney Powell. Sidney and her have now pleaded guilty, which means the last person standing is Rudy Giuliani. Do you think that they are after Giuliani, Eastman, Trump? Are those the biggest players for her testimony? EISEN: Well, you are a prosecutor, you know how it works. You flip the people lower down, then you move up the food chain until you get to the big fish. There's two, Giuliani and beyond him, only Trump. And I think --

COATES: Not Eastman?

EISEN: Eastman is probably going to be approached more through the Ken Chesebro plea. Chesebro worked more closely with Eastman. But here, when you -- when you combine on the Giuliani front, Sidney Powell, Ken Chesebro, and now perhaps his closest aide, Jenna Ellis, who was so persuasive in court today, whether she meant it or not, her remorse, her tears, even the judge complimented her, saying he seldom heard from a defendant.

That trifecta is very dangerous for Giuliani and then what, Fani Willis. And I think it helps Jack Smith to flip Giuliani, get to Trump. So, Meadows and Ellis alike, big development in Trump's federal and state liability today.

COATES: Call me a skeptic, but I watched her tearful, remorseful apology. I think there was a lot of commentary about either a smirk or something she did before she actually stood up. People wondered about that. I don't put a lot of weight into one's nerves and the ticks that come into a courthouse, of course.

But think of walk down memory lane for a second about the epiphany and how to judge one's epiphany. Here is Jenna Ellis and how many instances and opportunities she had maybe to have the epiphany sooner. Watch this.



ELLIS: This is an elite strike force team that is working on behalf of the president and the campaign to make sure that our Constitution is protected. The facts matter. The truth matters. And if you are fair reporters, you will cover that fairly and appropriately.

There had been massive amount of irregularities. There have been ignorance and complete disregard for the law of the state of Michigan.


COATES: So, we remember that she said these things. Now, she saying, I relied on more experienced attorneys. I did not do my due diligence. What's your reaction?

CHILDRESS: We're all attorneys at this table. And we know, as attorneys, our number one job is to do due diligence, to look into the facts, especially if we're representing them publicly. It's what we do every single day.

One thing, we saw Giuliani on the screen there, Rudy Giuliani with Jenna Ellis. And I agree with Norm. I think -- I think he might be the next attorney to flip in this case. If you go back to our January 6th Committee deposition of Rudy Giuliani, he described Jenna Ellis as his number two, his co-counsel, and if you're getting an opinion from Jenna, then it's basically an opinion from me, right?

And so, if I see Jenna Ellis as Rudy Giuliani now flipping and pleading guilty, I'm starting to get a little nervous. And as Ambassador Eisen just said, right, we're getting closer now to former President Trump, and that's how you build a successful case.

COATES: The big question is, will he, if he ultimately does plead guilty, will he get a similar probationary sentence or request from the prosecution? The bigger the fish, perhaps the bigger the splash in the prosecutorial pond. That's an original analogy. You're welcome.


Norm Eisen, Marcus Childress, thank you both so much.

Look, there was a brazen raid, missed intelligence, a spiraling humanitarian crisis. We've got Colonel Cedric Leighton, who has had decades of military intelligence experience. He will break down the very latest from the war between Israel and Hamas right after this.



COATES: Well, the humanitarian crisis is deepening for millions in Gaza as the Israel-Hamas war rages on. CNN journalist Ibrahim Dahman is reporting from Gaza that people are resorting to drinking water that's meant for the toilets.


IBRAHIM DAHMAN, CNN JOURNALIST AND PRODUCER (ON SCREEN TRANSLATION): Life in Khan Younis is difficult. We're staying with at least 150 other displaced families from the north, easting the bare minimum to survive. We spend our time watching airstrikes. And filing the water tank.

It's like drinking toilet water. Our children drink toilet water.


COATES: All of this being made worse by the fuel crisis in Gaza, and that's because fuel is needed to actually pump and clean water from local sources. But that's not the only use, of course, for the fuel. Hospitals are running out of power. That means no ventilators. That means no incubators. And the toll for innocence will just keep growing. Today, an IDF spokesperson is saying that no fuel will enter Gaza because Hamas needs it to stay operational.

I want to bring in CNN military analyst Colonel Cedric Leighton. Colonel, just hearing those reports and about the impact of fuel, I mean, it's being said that the U.N. says that Gaza needs about a thousand barrels, a thousand barrels every single day, 160,000 liters of fuel per day, every day. I mean, logistically, just thinking about how would you get that fuel in, and then, of course, how you prevent it from going to Hamas.

CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yeah, those are huge questions, Laura. The key thing to remember is that in August, before all of this started, 1,200 trucks entered Gaza from Egypt with fuel. So, for that month, the entire month, 1,200 trucks.

Right now, we have absolutely no fuel trucks coming into Gaza, and in order to keep everything moving, that is the kind of volume that you would need in order to make sure that the hospitals run, that the sewage system runs, that the water system runs, and none of that is happening right now.

COATES: It could be diverted, though, to Hamas. How do you stop that?

LEIGHTON: Well, that's the problem. So, the U.N. has tried to develop a system where they would actually track who the final recipient is. The problem with that is it's almost impossible to control that once it gets into Gaza. There's really no way to do that. They might try to have kind of an end user type thing, but that is really almost a bridge too far at this point in time.

COATES: You know, in many ways, Israel is to render attack. There was the raid by Hamas divers today as well. They attempted to infiltrate Israel through a tunnel in the sea off the Northern Gaza coast. What happened with that?

LEIGHTON: So, what happened was the divers, the Hamas divers, went into Israeli waters, just very close to Gaza, and they were attempting to get into Ashkelon right near the border with Gaza. The Israeli Navy was able to stop them. And this is kind of one of those classic, almost special operation-type movements that Hamas was able to plan. So, when you think Hamas, think that they are very well versed in special operations both in and in sea, and when you think of the paragliders, also in the air.

COATES: What does it tell you that there is a three-star Marine Corps general, his name is James Glynn, who has now been sent over by the U.S. to help the IDF?

LEIGHTON: So, General Glynn is very experienced in combat operations, in urban combat. He has experience in Fallujah and in Mosul.


He is there to advise the Israelis on what the possible scenarios might be when it comes to urban combat. So, urban combat is a very dangerous, very specific type of combat. And the more advice the Israelis can get from somebody who has experience like General Glenn, the better off they'll be.

COATES: So important to have your perspective here. We lean on your mind every day. Thank you so much for being here. Colonel Sergeant Leighton, everyone. Up next, the other Trump lawsuit that just is days away that could potentially keep him off the ballot in at least one state.



COATES: So, Donald Trump has been sued in New York. He has been indicted in Georgia, in Florida, in Manhattan, and also Washington D.C. You know about all those cases. But there is a case that you may not be as familiar with or might not even know about at all. And it's a very consequential one. It argues that Trump is constitutionally disqualified from holding office again.

It all hinges on the 14th Amendment, which in short says, anyone who caught engaged in insurrection or rebellion after taking an oath of office to defend the Constitution is, well, forbidden from holding public office. Now, Colorado is one of the states that is suing to block the former president from the 2024 presidential ballot.

And joining me now, Colorado Secretary of State Jenna Griswold. Jenna, I'm glad that you're here today. I have been really interested in this case for a number of reasons. People have not been as focused on it, but it's very, very important. Where it stands right now is a judge is saying, look, this likely has to go to a trial. Tell me what is at stake in terms of the question before a jury in this case.

JENA GRISWOLD, COLORADO SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, first off, thanks for having me on. This is a big case. Now, we didn't bring the case, but instead, six Colorado voters, Republicans and unaffiliated, filed a lawsuit to disqualify Trump from the ballot. And what's at stake is whether Trump will be able to run and to be put on the Colorado ballot.

Like you mentioned, Section 3 of the 14th Amendment is very clear. It says that if someone swears to uphold the Constitution, they cannot take office if they subsequently engage in insurrection or rebellion or give comfort or aid to the enemies of the Constitution.

COATES: So, part of the consideration in terms of disqualification is to unpack that term, although it seems very straightforward at first. The question is whether or not he can either be on the ballot at all, whether he can be engaged in the primary ultimately, who decides how to enforce that mechanism.

That's where your office really comes in, although you didn't bring this lawsuit. What will you be looking at and listening for in this upcoming trial that starts next week, by the way, to figure out what role you will ultimately have to play?

GRISWOLD: Ultimately, as secretary of state, I will follow the law and, of course, the U.S. Constitution. And where the Constitution is unclear, a court should weigh in. So, I think it's good that this court is hopefully weighing in. A trial is scheduled on Monday. We expect it will begin on Monday, because I think it would be really good for the court to outline some of the big questions to election administrators.

The presidential primary will start very quickly. I certify the ballot for Colorado the first week of January. So, resolving some of these big issues soon is a great thing for the country.

COATES: That's very quick to think about by January. And there are other secretaries of state, Brad Raffensperger, I will name one out of Georgia, who has said he does not have the power to actually block Trump from the ballot. You've heard from a former A.G., Michael Mukasey, who wrote a piece in "The Wall Street Journal" about how the only way to decide this issue is really through the elections.

So, if the court rules that you do have the legal standing, really, to take Trump off the ballot, will you?

GRISWOLD: Well, I think that's premature. There's a lot of big questions about this case. And ultimately, I'll follow whatever court orders, you know, and let the legal process play out, including if there's potential appeals.

Now, I do think that one thing is really noteworthy. This is a big case. And the foundational question is, did Donald Trump disqualify himself for engaging in insurrection? And you would think with such a big case, he would want to come and explain his point of view. But, in fact, he's not going to testify or give a deposition.

I think it just comes down to a basic fact that when he has the opportunity under oath to tell his side, he refuses. He's a liar and it seems that he knows that he is one.

COATES: It's a very consequential case. One would think he'd want to testify for the reasons that you have just said. But then there are those who are going to look at a case like this and say, wait a second, this is indicative of people trying to rig the -- quote, unquote -- "elections yet again." What's your response?

GRISWOLD: Oh, well, I very much disagree with that. You know, as soon as this case was filed, Donald Trump started to blast, oh, this is election interference. Bringing a lawsuit to determine whether a potential candidate is disqualified by very clear language of the U.S. Constitution is not election interference.


It's living in a society that believes in rule of law. Having a proceeding where a judge decides if there's questions about a Constitution or the law, the ultimate way things will go, is how American democracy should work.

How it should not work is an insurrection or a fake scheme incited by a president to try to put forward fake electors. How this country should not work is a sitting president trying to steal the election from the American people.

COATES: Well, if this case goes to trial as expected and if it would make its way in the appellate process, there was a judge, a Supreme Court Justice, who was then an appeals court judge in Colorado, weighing in on the ability of states to do what you're talking about, and that was Neil Gorsuch.

So, Jena, looking forward to seeing how all of this plays out. Thank you so much.

GRISWOLD: Thank you.

COATES: Well, you know, everyone, I want to thank you all for watching. That's a very consequential case, and we'll follow it, of course. And our live coverage continues after a short break.