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Laura Coates Live

Trump Takes The Stand In New York; New Poll Shows Trump Leads Biden In Multiple States; Men Arrested For Gun Possession At The U.S. Capitol Building. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired November 06, 2023 - 23:00   ET



ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: He never introduced himself, never explained that someone called 911 to report a suspicious Black male. And he grabbed McClain within just eight seconds of arriving on that scene, wrapping his arms around his neck. Woodyard then took the stand in his own defense during the trial, testifying that he feared for his life.

And that's it for me. Thank you very much for watching "NewsNight." "Laura Coates Live" starts right now. Laura?

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: You know, Abby, I got to tell you, that case, of all of the cases that we have covered, that one gut me every single time. This was a young man who would go and play his violin for cats at an animal shelter. He was out trying to get -- I think it was a Snapple maybe or a juice for his younger brother. He had headphones on at one point. He had a mask before the pandemic and was just keeping to himself. And they injected him with ketamine in the end.

And just thinking about what those final moments would have been like, this young -- I know you call him a young man. Maybe even an old child is more appropriate. He actually said as he vomited trying to get free, vomiting on an officer, apologized, apologized for that, and then said, hey, teamwork makes the dream work, trying to encourage them to let him go. And I can tell you, I just -- every time I hear his name, and we've heard a lot of cases, that one -- that one brings tears to my eyes at this moment.

PHILLIP: Yeah. It's incredibly sad. But also, just a reminder, a lot of times in these cases, acquittals are very common when it comes to officer-involved deaths like this one. Laura, appreciate your thoughts on all of that. I know you have a lot to --

COATES: Thanks, Abby.

PHILLIP: -- get to on your show. Have a good show.

COATES: We do indeed. Thank you so much.

Well, Donald Trump has taken the stand today. The question is, is he speaking to the court or the court of public opinion? Tonight on "Laura Coates Live."

You know that old saying, know thy audience? Well, today, it was clear that Judge Engoron and also Donald Trump were speaking to two very different audiences. I mean, it was clear that Trump was not talking to the judge when he was trying to prove that he did not commit fraud.

Now, why is that so clear to me? Well, because the judge already held that, in fact, he did. He was liable for fraud, even before the trial even began. So, his statements today were not about mounting maybe a legal defense to that. It was a political one.

He wanted to send a message of defiance. And frankly, it went pretty much the way you'd expect when he was trying to do that. Some very familiar things he was saying, slamming the New York AG, Letitia James, with one of his old favorites from the campaign trial. Now, stop me if you've heard this one before. I'll prepare to be stopped. Calling the trial political witch hunt. Also saying -- quote -- "This is a very unfair trial, very, very, and I hope the public is watching." Well, first, that's a whole lot of varies.

And the end there, that last statement that he hopes the public is watching, bingo, that's the tell. That's exactly what he wanted. Perhaps to campaign in the courtroom. But there were no cameras in that courtroom. Only they were laying through reporters about what was being said, and then the occasional popping up before the camera in between the different breaks in the proceedings.

Now, the judge, Arthur Engoron, he was pretty irritated for a time, saying this is not a political rally. And the rest of the day, well, even after lunch break, it was really Trump being Trump. His answers were long-winded, they were argumentative, and the judge actually told Trump's attorneys, I beseech you to control him if you can. If you can't, I will. I will excuse him and draw every negative inference that I can. Do you understand that?

Now, of course, you could probably use your own common sense, but it does bear repeating this is not a jury trial. The judge is, in fact, the final decision maker of credibility and the decision maker of how to rule and how expensive this might be. So why antagonize this person? He will literally decide the future of the Trump family business in the state of New York. But Trump doesn't seem to either acknowledge that lesson or refuses to heed it.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it went very well. I think you were there when you listened and you see what a scam this is. This is a case that should have never been brought. It's a case that should be dismissed immediately.


The fraud was on behalf of the court. The court was the fraudster in this case.


COATES: And what does Team Trump think of all this? Well, a source telling CNN that -- quote -- "He's turning this into the Trump show." That's how he's winning.

Hmm. Now, of all the cases he has been involved with, you know there have been a lot, and frankly, there are a lot more, this is the one that seems to be hitting him exactly where it hurts. It's about his business, about his brand, which for him, politically, his brand is his currency, and politically so as well, and it seems to be all on the line right here and right now.

Here to talk, former Donald Trump attorney, Tim Pallatore. He currently represents former New York police commissioner, Bernie Kerrick, who has been subpoenaed to testify in the Georgia election investigation. Also, here with us, Sarah Matthews, former White House deputy press secretary.

I'm glad you're all here with me today. First of all, I have to begin with you for a second. I'm going to come back to the lawyer, as you already know this. But Sarah, I mean, he was unleashing a lot of the bluster, the exaggerations. It's like he could not help himself but to suggest that even his overvalued assets, as the court found, were undervalued. Did you -- were you at all surprised?

SARAH MATTHEWS, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: No. It's very on par for Donald Trump. He can't help himself but to hurl insults at the judge who is going to be deciding, you know, the fate of his business empire in this case.

But then, also, it seems like he's lying through his teeth on the stand. I mean, obviously, the judge did rule already that he committed fraud, and the judge is going to be deciding how much he's going to be paying.

But Donald Trump is still trying to say that Mar-a-Lago, for example, was undervalued when that has been disputed by a number of people to be not true.

And I think that Donald Trump was trying to make this into a political rally, as the judge said, even though there were no TV cameras in the courtroom. But he knows that reporters are going to be tweeting it out, and he wants to use these court appearances to his advantage because he can't be on the campaign trail.

I mean, look, today, his political opponent, Governor DeSantis, received a huge endorsement from the governor of Iowa, Kim Reynolds, and we're not sitting here talking about that.

COATES: That's true.

MATTHEWS: We're talking about Donald Trump.

COATES: Which, of course -- and there's a huge debate on Wednesday, by the way, to your point. And I wonder, of course, why maybe he wouldn't try to continue into Wednesday to go from the courtroom to the rally, et cetera. But he makes a great point here about the absence of cameras in the courtroom because then, it does allow him to then tell people what he really said. And there's no real way reading a transcript for the public to see that. But I wonder from your perspective, having represented Donald Trump, what must it be like to prepare him for a trial? Because I would know the judge had this to say, which prompted when he was long-winded, the judge saying, I am not here to hear what he has to say. We are here to hear him answer questions and most of the time he's not. How would you have prepped him, and how you think he was prepped?

TIM PARLATORE, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: You know, I have -- I have no idea --


-- what Chris Kise and Alina Habba did to prepare this case.


PARLATORE: I mean, I think that there's a lot of things they could have done during discovery. But, yeah --

COATES: Like what?

PARLATORE: Like, you know, just things in the depositions. You know, probably -- you know, briefing things a little bit differently. I mean, ultimately, neither one of them is really experienced in this type of case.

But to prep him for the trial, I mean, honestly, I was thinking about it today, and I wonder if some of what we saw today is actually, you know, a little bit more strategic than everybody is thinking, because the judge did make decision on the summary judgment motion, the judge is the one who's deciding this case, and remember, this is a New York state case where New York state judges are elected. So, he's an elected Democrat judge.

And so, Donald Trump may be setting this thing up for an appeal, and one of the great ways that he can set it up for appeal is to annoy the judge to the point where he continues to, you know, get angry, get upset, and make mistakes.

You know, one thing I saw today is in the first half of his testimony, the judge was cutting him off and really trying to restrict him without any objections from the lawyers. They took the lunch break. And when the judge came back, he was much more restrained. He kind of looked at the assistant AG and said, you know what, I'm going to take my leave from you. If you want to let him talk, go ahead.

And the reality is, as a lawyer, if I have a witness who is just going to go on and on with all of this other stuff, I want to let him talk because there's going to be things in there that I can use.

COATES: You mean if you're the prosecutor in the case?

PARLATORE: Yeah, absolutely.

COATES: And by the way, not just --

PARLATORE: If I were the AG, I would want him to talk.

COATES: Well, at one point, they did say keep it on the record.


COATES: And by the way, you know, we're talking about what's happening in New York. But there are prosecutors across this country, Fani Willis, Jack Smith, the prosecutors in the Mar-a-Lago case, who are all watching, I'm sure, with their pen in hand or whatever you use nowadays.


Maybe you have a computer, of course. I sound old, don't I? But you have the idea of typing and transcribing it in some way because you know that if that door is opened, then maybe my case is implicated in some way.

But here's the part that I thought was really interesting, Sarah, and that was, you know, Donald Trump can't have it both ways. On the one hand, he cannot say, I'm in control, I'm the head honcho, nothing left this building without my authority, and I was running things, my name on the door and the building. And on the other hand, say, but I had no idea that they were false statements. And in one point, he does acknowledge his role in valuing the empire's property.

So, I mean, when you think about your experience with Donald Trump, is there a world he was not in control?

MATTHEWS: I can't imagine a world in which he was not in control, especially when it comes to his business empire. I mean, this is what he cares about most. It's his brand, his legacy, and this is core to his identity.

And so, I do think that this case, given that it has ramifications and impacts for both of those things, that he is trying to have it both ways and saying things that are a little bit contradictory. He knows that it would be smarter for him to say that he wasn't involved, that these were up to the accountants.

But at the same time, we saw today that he did kind of acknowledge his role because he does want to be seen as the businessman in the head honcho. And so, at the same time, though, he wants to be a fighter and he appeared really defiant today in court saying that this was all really unfair and trying to politicize all of it in the process.

And I do think, to Tim's point that he brought up earlier, that I do think there was a little bit of strategy behind that as well with him trying to get under the judge's skin. It's something Donald Trump is really good at, trying to find his opponent's weakness and then getting under their skin to elicit a response, and I think we saw that on display today.

COATES: Well, certainly, the judge would be -- it would not be sound for him to take that particular bait and walk into that trap. We'll see how things play out ultimately in the end here. But he's done on the witness stand. Up next is going to be Ivanka Trump. Do you have any sense as to how she might perform on the stand?

PARLATORE: I think she's going to be very different.

COATES: Different than her brothers or you mean her father?

PARLATORE: Different than her father.


PARLATORE: Different than her father. I mean, she's not -- she's not a party to the case. So, she does have that degree of separation. And she's not really going to be personally accused the same ways as the others. And so, uh, I think that she is probably going to be, you know, I think, to a certain extent, more like the brothers of being more respectful and, you know, friendly with the judge, but at the same time, I wouldn't expect her to be giving much in the way of things that are helpful to the AG. It's probably going to be more of the same.

COATES: Let me ask you this question, too. What is the decision not to cross Donald Trump? The lawyers decided and using you across is to rehabilitate your witness. It's like, hey, that didn't go so well. Let me help you. Let me prop you up a little bit more. Why not do that here? Is it a matter of the lawyering?

PARLATORE: I have no idea why they wouldn't cross him. I mean, if anybody who wouldn't take that opportunity to cross, you know, there must be some reason why.


PARLATORE: Because you're laying out your defense. You have your client on the stand. It's cross. You can lead him. You can lay out your whole defense. Why wouldn't you take that opportunity to take what you've done in your opening? You can have him, lead him through all those questions. I don't understand why you wouldn't do it. I mean, it's just -- it's shocking to me.

COATES: Hmm. Things that make you go, hmm, I guess. Tim Parlatore, Sarah Matthews, both of you, thank you so much.

I want to bring in someone who worked closely with Donald Trump in the Trump Organization for nearly 20 years, former executive president of the Trump Organization, Barbara Res. She joins me now. She's also the author, by the way, of "Tower of Lies: What My 18 Years of Working with Donald Trump Reveals About Him."

Well, Barbara, I got to tell you, I'm eager to hear your take today and what a lot of what took place in the courtroom reveals about what's happening with Trump as well. I mean, you've got almost what, two decades of working with Trump. So, tell me, what did you make of his behavior today? Did it line up with what you saw working with him on a day-to-day basis?

BARBARA RES, FORMER EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: Yeah, he was pretty predictable today, I think, with his ranting some very mean things. Seen that before. I don't -- I'm sure the lawyers told him not to behave that way. But, you know, he does what he wants. After the lunch break, I think they said he came back.


He was a little calmer. But, you know, it's temporary, I think.

COATES: You know, Barbara, that's a great point, because I did see a difference between what happened before the lunch break and after. By the way, the judge seemed to have a little different approach as well. But for somebody like Trump, who is not known to really be led by his attorneys, according to him, really, there's a catch-22 happening, right?

On the one hand, he was trying to assert himself as the consummate businessman, control of everything. On the other hand, if that's true, wouldn't that mean that he also was in control of what was actually put in these financial statements?

RES: You know, it's all for the audience. None of it is quite real. It's all posterity. It's for his supporters. And so, they believe that he's a great business member, which is in itself a great big lie. But he also wants to carry on because they want him to carry on. He's indignant. I mean, how dare they? And they get that sense. It comes across. I mean, he even said he'd rather talk outside the courtroom than inside.

COATES: So, when Trump was on the stand being questioned, he was asked whether the documents or his record keeping was accurate, the books were accurate. He said, I hope so. Don Jr. and Eric, when they were on the stand, talked about really delegating that to accountants. What do you make of the difference?

RES: Right. Well, certainly, both children, especially Don Jr., or both of them, are terrified of their father, okay? So, they weren't going to say anything that could possibly shed a light on him that wasn't positive. And the easiest way to do it, of course, they have to blame someone else, they just said, oh, we never saw this, we didn't see it.

Not so easy for Trump to do that. So, Trump just -- he said, well, you know, I relied on people without naming his two boys. But, you know, the inference was there, I think.

COATES: Well, when you see the numbers of what the judge says Trump's businesses are worth, compared to what he believes --

RES: Uh-hmm.

COATES: -- did you experience Trump maybe inflating his assets when you worked for him or deflating them when communion as well?

RES: He absolutely inflated his assets. He inflated everything. He inflated the price on the apartments that he was getting paid. He inflated the number of apartments that were being sold. He inflated the rents that he was collecting. Everything had to be the biggest and the best and the highest value. So yes, of course, he always did that.

And you know, he used to be on the Forbes list. He was very angry that he wasn't higher up on the Forbes list. He even took on Forbes magazine. Meanwhile, he had no business being on there at all because of his father.

COATES: Let me ask you, Barbara. He -- unlike the other cases that he is involved in, it seems that Donald Trump is taking a particular interest in this case, being present at trial, in front of the cameras outside. And by the way, he is actively campaigning for the presidency. What would it mean to Donald Trump to have his business empire under a conservator, to have his business certificates taken away? What would it mean for him to lose that Trump brand in New York City?

RES: Well, he would be absolutely enraged, and he'd find people to blame for him being in that predicament. But I think he'd probably try to spin it. He'd probably try to say, I didn't fight that so hard because I don't care. I'm really not doing business in New York City now. I'm international or -- you know, that kind of thing. And I can work from anywhere. I mean, he moved out of Trump Tower. He moved to Florida.

COATES: Barbara Res, that would be an interesting spin and one I bet I'll rely on your own prediction. Barbara Res, thank you so much for joining us.

RES: Thank you. It has been a pleasure.

COATES: Up next, what Donald Trump said in the courtroom today and why a Forbes senior editor who was there in court says it's not remotely credible.



COATES: Tonight, former President Donald Trump fiercely defending his business and his wealth as he testified in the New York fraud trial threatening his entire real estate empire. Trump admitted involvement in lowering valuations in the case of his Trump Tower apartment around the same time that Forbes magazine outed him for claiming it was nearly three times larger than it actually is.

Let's talk about it now with senior editor at Forbes, Dan Alexander, who was actually inside of the courtroom. Dan is also the author of "White House, Inc.: How Donald Trump Turned the Presidency Into a Business." Dan, I'm so glad that you're here because your ears must have been lighting up at some point in time today --


when the former president was actually grilled on the stand about a story regarding his inflated assets. What was going through your mind at that moment in time? Because you actually looked about at the 40 Wall Street property and it seemed as though he was misstating something that you knew. What happened?

DAN ALEXANDER, AUTHOR, SENIOR EDITOR AT FORBES: Yeah, that's right. So, they asked Donald Trump whether he had ever inflated the profitability of 40 Wall Street, this office building in downtown New York, in an attempt to try to raise the value of the asset. And Trump basically said, no, I don't think so. But he has. And we know that he has.

We have recordings of him doing just that. And we've released those recordings of him saying that the profitability of that building at one point was $50 million. And then another minute, it was up to $60 million and just continually boosting it when, in fact, the profits of the building at the time were close to zero. And it wasn't just one year. He and his associates did this over the course of many years.


And if you look at the math that they used to support the inflated values including on -- included on his net worth statements, you can see that those two relied on not real profits, inflated profits. And so, the lies that he was telling the media and Forbes, in this case, were the same sorts of lies that he was incorporating on his bank statements.

And this is the problem when he has all of this material that he has let out over all of these years, all these consistent lies, and now he's on the stand trying to defend them, and it's hard to keep everything straight.

COATES: You know, there was an audio I want to play for everyone that you obtained of Trump talking about his business back, I think, in 2015, and it was about his businesses, talking about one of his property. Listen to this.


TRUMP (voice-over): That's 40 Wall Street.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Right.

TRUMP (voice-over): It's the tallest building in downtown Manhattan. Now, outside of the -- it was the tallest. It was for five years the tallest. I'm glad it's not anymore. But that's the 78-storey building, fully rented, throws off a fortune. It's going to throw off, would you say 50 million, maybe this year? Fifty million at least.

OK. We have small mortgage o it just because I got the money free. I feel stupid. The head of Deutsche Bank says, why are you taking financing at 2%? And I think that someday, you're going to have to -- you know, I've been on both sides of the equation, in all fairness.


COATES: Now, when you hear this, of course, some would say, well, hold on, that wasn't a court of law. It sounds like he was maybe, you know, rubbing elbows to make a deal and a little bit of, you know, chest beating in some respect. But your point is a statement like that actually had some consistency in what he's also being alleged at having done.

ALEXANDER: Well, that's right. In that statement, he's inflating the profits of the building. And if you go to the underlying math that they use to determine the value of that property, you can also see that they're inflating the profits of the building.

But if you go through that statement more carefully, what you'll see is that almost every single line in there is a lie. It's not the tallest building in Lower Manhattan. It's not 78-storeys tall. It's 63-storeys tall. His interest rate wasn't 2%. It was 3.665%. Every detail that he mentions is not true, including the profits, which were the key figure that he incorporated on his net worth statements to try to boost the value of the building.

COATES: But, you know, he believes, Dan, that there is a boost that will come because it's his name on it, it's his brand. It's almost like he's likening himself to -- I mean, hey, there's a handbag, and then there's one with a particular label on it, and so you have the added benefit and the profitability because I'm on the actual name. Is that convincing?

ALEXANDER: Well, let's talk about what he has actually branded. You know, we value his branding businesses. So, when he has, for example, licensing deals or hotel operating businesses, you know, that's a business similar to like what Hilton runs. That's a major brand. And you can apply a multiple to those companies. You can also say, hey, he sells books. He brought this up in court today. I sell a lot of books. Okay, fair enough, we'll give you the cash for the books.

But if you add all of that up, you're not getting to billions and billions of dollars. The licensing and hotel management business might be worth $100 or $200 million, but this great big brand that he's constantly talking about, he's not conjuring up real cash out of it.

And so, if you have a super valuable brand that you're not actually making a lot of money off of, then you're just leaving money on the table. That suggests either that you're not a very good businessman capitalizing on that big brand or that the brand is not as big as you're pretending that it is.

COATES: Now, I see exactly why you raised in court today in that article. Thank you so much for joining us today. I appreciate it.

ALEXANDER: Thank you.

COATES: Trump's business empire is perhaps what he has built his reputation on around, well, frankly, more than anything else. So, what would it mean for him financially and personally if that foundation takes an absolute blow? We'll talk about it next.


[23:33:03] COATES: Well, you can say it was a pretty historic day for former President Donald Trump where he testified in a trial that, well, it could determine the future of his entire business enterprise. Former President and the Trump Organization are accused of repeatedly lying about the value of their assets and their properties.

Judge Arthur Engoron has already ruled that Trump and the defendants are liable for fraud. Now, it's whether they will have an expensive penalty or otherwise, and the depth of the alleged crime and what the ultimate penalty and punishment will be.

For more perspective, let's bring in William Cohan, founding partner at Puck News and also the author of "Power Failure." He has been an investigative journalist and worked on Wall Street for many years as well. Glad you're here today.

Will, let me ask you, I mean, based on what you heard from today's testimony and, of course, what you already know about Trump's financials, how big of a threat is this case to his entire empire?

WILLIAM COHAN, FOUNDING PARTNER AT PUCK NEWS, AUTHOR: I think the first thing to note is -- Laura, first of all, thank you for having me on -- is that this trial, obviously, is just about his properties in New York State, New York City, New York State. He does have other properties outside of New York. He's got golf courses. He's got Mar-a- Lago. He may still have an ownership stake in the Chicago Tower that he built during the financial crisis.

So, if he loses what he's got here in New York, which is, of course, is the majority of his assets, that would be very devastating. As Dan Alexander was saying, you know, if it's a 250 million dollar fine, if it's a 400 million dollar fine, you know, he might have some trouble paying it.

I think it gets much more dicey if, in fact, the judge who is the only decider here, there's no jury, and he's -- the Trumps have managed to aggravate the judge, there's no doubt about that, that if the judge decides to shut down all of Trump's organization business in New York State, obviously, that would be much more devastating.


He'd have to sell Trump Tower, he'd have to sell 40 Wall Street, he'd have to sell the minority interest he has in other buildings in New York City. So, that would be very difficult for him and it's a very bad time to be selling commercial real estate.

COATES: Do you think, Will, I mean, just given that and the breadth of that and the potential, frankly, do you think that he is more worried about losing his business? I mean, there are other cases he's facing. Some would normally think, look, if I have a prospect of jail time in a criminal prosecution, to which there are several, that would be the perhaps bigger priority. But it seems like this is the focus. Why do you think that is?

COHAN: Well, first of all, I would personally be a lot more worried about criminal indictments than I would be about this civil lawsuit, as you correctly said. But obviously, this is his entire family's net worth. He is tied up in this business. His (INAUDIBLE), if you will, is tied up in this business, his legacy.

You know, he has inherited his father's business. It was in Queens, Brooklyn. He brought it to Manhattan. You know, "The Apprentice" show that got him really famous is based on his reputation as the best businessman.

And so, obviously, if this is all taken away from him because it's ruled that it's a fraud or has been fraudulent in many aspects, then that's going to be devastating to him personally, I would think. And knowing him a little bit that I do, he certainly, you know, has built his whole reputation on his wealth status, and so this would greatly affect that.

But, you know, that's entirely separate from his whole political modus operandi, and nothing that seems to have happened so far in any of these indictments or trials has affected his political status. In fact, he seems to be stronger than ever, which is a real head- scratcher.

COATES: There was a recent poll that describes, if he were to be convicted of certain charges, how that might change the landscape in areas where he once was leading Biden in certain states, battleground states, and then that he'd be behind Biden. But again, it's tough to say, really a year out from the election, and Trump has not even secured the RNC nomination, perhaps yet.

But there are other people who have the Trump name, and that include adult children like Don Jr. and Eric, both of whom are named defendants, and also Ivanka, who's going to testify next. What is the impact on them, given, of course, that Ivanka is not part of this but will testify.

COHAN: Well, Eric and Don Jr., obviously, are running the Trump Organization now. So, if the judge shuts down the Trump Organization in New York, of course, that's where the majority of the organization's assets are, that's where the headquarters is, I would think that would be very devastating.

But again, it won't be the end because they have other assets outside of New York State, and I'm sure they'll just sort of reorient themselves around those assets and keep going, and as Dan was saying, make it, you know -- turn it into something beautiful and wonderful and fantastic. This is like the greatest thing that ever happened to us.

COATES: I mean, I'm all for when life gives you lemons, make lemonade, but this one seems like a really, really sour one, I got to tell you. William Cohan, thank you so much for joining us this evening.


COHAN: Thank you, Laura. COATES: As I mentioned, some new polls. There are new polls revealing head-to-head matchups in several key battleground states. It's not good news for President Biden either. A top Biden campaign aide responds next.



COATES: So, no matter how you slice it, I mean, it was a momentous day for the former president. But it has also been a consequential few days for the current president of the United States. Why? Because new polling from "The New York Times" has a lot of Democrats worried. It shows President Biden trailing Trump in five of the six most important battleground states. I'm talking Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Nevada.

And In the one where Biden is up, Wisconsin, he's ahead by only two points. Now the warning from the polls echoing warnings from opinion columns. Multiple op-eds calling for Biden to drop his 2024 bid had been penned, well, just the last several months. All the ones here mentioned his age.

And now you've got David Axelrod, the chief strategist for President Obama's 2012 campaign, who is voicing his concern. Now, he says it's the last moment for Biden to check if he should drop out. And to the critics who say we're a year out, Axelrod had this to say.


DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER OBAMA SENIOR ADVISER: We had lousy polling numbers at this time in our campaign in 2011 when I was working for Barack Obama, and we overcame those numbers and we won. But the two things that are different are that Obama was 50 and not 81, and we didn't have Donald Trump on the other side.


COATES: Axelrod's comments, of course, don't come without its own set of critics. Former Biden White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain taking a dig at some of Axelrod's previous comments about Biden, saying on X, "Man who called Mr. Magoo in August 2019 is still at it" -- unquote.

But the Biden campaign is facing tough questions tonight. My next guest is just the person to tackle them. Quentin Fulks is the principal deputy campaign manager for Biden-Harris 2024, and he joins me now. Quentin, thank you for being here. I mean, you've seen these numbers, obviously. I'm sure you've combed over them.


Does the Biden campaign understand exactly what is going on with voters?

QUENTIN FULKS, PRINCIPAL DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER FOR BIDEN-HARRIS 2024: Of course, we understand. And thank you for having me tonight. But, of course, we understand. We're spending this time that we have right now to make sure that we're doing everything we can to lay the groundwork so that when we head into next year, we're able to communicate with voters most effectively.

Look, we're a year out. Polls this early are not predictive of, you know, what's coming in 2024. The president has multiple pathways to 270. As Axelrod just said in the clip, President Obama faced these with "The New York Times" saying he was toast. Ronald Reagan has faced bad poll numbers. Bill Clinton has faced bad poll numbers. A red wave was predicted to materialize in 2022. I was in Georgia managing Senator Warnock's campaign. That didn't happen.

So, President Biden has been counted out time and time again. I'm used to seeing this type of thing. But that's exactly what campaigns are for. So, we are focused on making sure that we're getting out in front, communicating to voters the stark contrast between President Biden, Vice President Harris, and the rest of the republican field.

Some of those differences are, you know, lowering the cost of prescription drugs, while Republicans want to gut Medicare and social security. I mean, it's plentiful.

And then if we look at the numbers, no president in history has ever run on the record of accomplishments or the popularity of issues that Joe Biden has run on. A lot of those issues held the United States Senate in 2022. So, you know, look, we are focused on making sure that we're doing everything we can to learn where voters are and to be able to communicate with them most effectively as we head into 2024.

COATES: Well, Quentin, I do know that in politics, a year is like a lifetime. Just ask Congress. They've got 11 days for a government shutdown, and they're not moving quite fast enough yet. But there is a big reality here, right? You've got the accomplishments you're speaking of that, of course, Republicans will take issue with. The approval ratings are still quite low in spite of what you say. And when you look at a generic Democrat versus Trump, the generic Democrat beats Donald Trump by eight points.

So, if this is how it is for the -- quote, unquote -- "generic Democrat," let alone Biden, why shouldn't Democrats look beyond the White House right now? Is it a matter of timing or no other viable candidate? Biden is the one.

FULKS: Look, elections are a choice. Right now, that choice is between Joe Biden and whoever the Republicans decide to put forward. I will state this: Joe Biden will be the Democratic nominee as we head into next year, and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are going to win reelection in 2024.

And so, look, our focus is not playing games about what if this or what if that. Our focus is making sure that we are communicating that record of accomplishments and nothing, not a poll in November of 2023, is going to take us off that message. Our campaign has been very clear from the beginning that this is going to be a close election. But make no mistake about it. The fact that we are acknowledging that this is going to be a close election does not mean that we are not going to be prepared for this to be a competitive and competent election. We are going to do everything we can to communicate with voters.

So, the what-if questions to the Biden-Harris campaign is irrelevant because Joe Biden is the Democratic nominee, and Joe Biden's record of accomplishments are what we're going to continue to communicate to voters.

COATES: So, Quentin, one of the things, we were talking about the polling numbers and the hypothetical nature of them. One thing that's not hypothetical is the age of Joe Biden. And by the way, the age of Donald Trump, who's not that far behind him, I will add. What is your response to the continuing concerns about his age?

FULKS: Look, our response is the fact that the president is experienced. The president has the wisdom that we need right now. Now in American history, it's not a time for rookies. It's not a time for somebody that can learn on the job. It's a time for steady hand in foreign policy. It's a time for steady hand in understanding of the way the economy works. And that's what Joe Biden brings to the table.

So, our campaign is not going to let, you know, conversations about the president's age deter us from the fact that at the end of the day, Joe Biden is the best person right now in the United States of America to be president, and we're going to continue to communicate that.

And so, again, the what ifs this, the what ifs that, at the end of the day, voters' concerns are what is going on in their household, these kitchen table issues, the economy, the fact that President Biden is working to lower costs while Republicans are gutting social security and Medicare, you know, going after Big Pharma while Republicans are trying to reward the wealthiest among us.

So, again, you know, when it comes down to it, we are focused on making sure we communicate what we want to communicate, and that's what American voters are paying attention to.

COATES: Black voters are certainly not a monolith, obviously, and yet there's a lot of polling, and one in particular says 22% of Black voters in key swing states said that they would support Trump and 71% would back Biden.


But given that Trump won just 8% of Black voters nationally in 2020, do you have some concerns in the campaign about the support from Black voters in those key states?

FULKS: Look, we care about all voters. I take this extremely personally when we're talking about Black voters in particularly. And what the campaign is doing right now to address that is making sure that we're out in front early communicating with these voters. Traditionally, Black voters are treated as GOTV targets. Campaigns, candidates parachute into their communities last minutes, dangle something in front of them and say, please vote for me. Our campaign is turning that on its head, and I'm extremely proud of that, to make sure that we're communicating. This is not a community or constituency that we take for granted at all.

Candidly, I am not worried about Black voters voting for Donald Trump, but we have to do everything we can to communicate the record of accomplishments and how Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have worked to change their lives and also paint a picture of what they're going to do when these voters turn out to vote for them in 2024 so that we can finish the job. And so, that's where our main focus is.

But, of course, we're worried about every constituency. But at the end of the day, we have to prioritize these communities that we're worried about. We have to prioritize these communities that we're seeing in the polls. And that's not just the Joe Biden problem. That is a campaign problem at large and something along the lines with the Democratic Party that we have to communicate with these voters.

And I'm very proud of the fact that our campaign is doing that extremely early in all different forms of media, from television, digital, print, figuring out the most innovative ways to reach these voters in a very extremely fragmented media environment that we find ourselves in 2023 and in 2024.

COATES: Well, we'll see. I mean, reaching is one thing, influencing and getting a vote is another, and the polling seems just something distinct. But we are a year ahead of the election. Quentin Fulks, thank you so much.

FULKS: Thank you, Laura. It was a pleasure to be with you.

COATES: Two arrests near the Capitol building after a car crash and a foot chase. The alarming discovery after cops searched the car, next.



COATES: A gun arrest at the Capitol in the early hours of Sunday morning turned up something surprising and concerning. Two individuals were arrested by Capitol Police after crashing into a barricade in what police say was a stolen car and following a chase on foot.

Officers searched the car and the surrounding area, allegedly found two pistols, one of which had a device attached known as a 'giggle switch,' which converts a semi-automatic Glock pistol into a machine gun. A law enforcement official says there's no indication at this time that the two were targeting the Capitol.

Thank you for watching. Our live coverage continues in just a moment.