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Laura Coates Live
Trump Went 'Ballistic' When Mar-a-Lago Maid Was Questioned; Trump Says He Would Use DOJ Against Political Rivals; Manchin Won't Run For Reelection; Threats Spike Against Jews And Muslims Amid Israel-Hamas War; "Exonerated Five" Member Wins New York City Council Seat; Parents Of Parkland Victim Escalate Fight Against Guns. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired November 09, 2023 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LAURA COATES, CNN HOST AND SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Now, imagine what it would be like if it happened to you, say, on your job, the boss facing felony charges and prosecutors want to talk to you about what you heard and saw. What would you do? Tonight on LAURA COATES LIVE.
Well, you know that saying, if these walls could talk, well, the walls are talking (ph). Imagine what the workers at Donald Trump's Mar-a- Lago resort might have seen and might have heard, and what will they say if they are asked? Well, federal investigators do not have to imagine what that would be like. CNN is learning exclusively that some workers have already spoken to investigators, in some cases multiple times, about security at Mar-a-Lago, or the lack thereof, and how boxes of classified documents were kept there and whether they could have been seen by visitors to the resort.
And the former president is reacting exactly the way you'd probably expect him to react. If you had ballistic on your bingo card, well, bravo, you just won, because that was indeed his reaction, according to a source, when the maid who cleans his bedroom suite was asked to speak with investigators.
But wait, there's more, as they say. There's the woodworker who installed crown molding in his bedroom and noticed a stack of papers, according to sources, though he didn't know what they were and later said what he said might have been maybe a movie prop, he thought.
There was a chauffeur who was questioned about business people, including foreigners, who visited the club as VIP guests. There's a plumber who worked at the property for a few days a week for years, and several other maintenance workers are also among the potential Mar-a-Lago witnesses.
Now, just think of the range of work I just described, and now the range of all the places documents or these conversations may have been or taken place. And this, as you know, is far from the only case on Donald Trump's crowded legal calendar. He's facing 91 charges across four criminal cases. And he is exactly reacting again how you might expect. Tonight, he tells Noticias Univision he could use the DOJ to go after his political opponents.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I happen to be president and I see somebody who's doing well and beating me very badly, I say, go down and indict them. Mostly, that would be -- you know, they would be out of business. They'd be out. They'd be out of the election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Hmm. Chris Christie, who, if you haven't heard, is running against Trump for president, who was also a former federal prosecutor himself, told Anderson Cooper this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS CHRISTIE, FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Think about how different Donald Trump is in 2023 than he was in 2016. In 2016 at the convention, he said, I am your voice. Now, he's saying, I am your retribution. Um, this is outrageous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: I want to bring in May Mailman, former Trump White House associate counsel and current vice president of Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections. Also, here, Norm Eisen, CNN legal analyst and former House Judiciary special counsel, and then President Trump's first impeachment trial. What a night, you two. Nice to see you both here together as well.
I want to begin with you here, Norm. First of all, just the reaction about having these particular witnesses potentially testifying in this case. You're not talking about politicians, right, or perhaps true partisans and pundits who might be wanting to cover in favor. You're talking about employees. Does that make a difference to you?
NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER HOUSE JUDICIARY SPECIAL COUNSEL IN TRUMP'S FIRST IMPEACHMENT TRIAL: Uh, it does. Number one, this was not who Donald Trump expected. So now he's rethinking. We know this woodworker, for example, saw piles of papers. It was so implausible, he thought, well, maybe they're movie props. So, to have these people come in, that is literally like having your innermost observers turn on you.
That's number one. Number two, Trump is very smart. He understands these are witnesses who will be able to relate to a jury and the jury to them. Okay? They're ordinary folks. They're drawn from that same neighborhood. So, that's very compelling. And look, he had the documents there. We know that. It's just very damaging. I would also be very upset. Donald Trump is rightly ballistic. It's going to come back to haunt him at trial.
COATES: I wonder, May, because, first of all, I mean, I'm nosy. Maybe that's why I was such a good prosecutor. I don't know. I was nosy. I want all the information. But I also think to myself, you know, imagine all that was said, say, in the car with the chauffeur. An expectation of privacy was always supposed to happen. I do wonder if there was any NDAs, for example, whether that would be a factor. Obviously, would not overrule a subpoena.
But in terms of what information could actually be gleaned, the chauffeur says that he was one to drive around that Australian billionaire. I think his name was Anthony Pratt, who said that Trump showed him sensitive docs regarding U.S. nuclear submarines. That's very significant if he heard those conversations.
MAY MAILMAN, VICE PRESIDENT FOR RESTORING INTEGRITY AND TRUST IN ELECTIONS, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE ASSOCIATE COUNSEL: Well, so I do think that you're going to hear a lot about, you know, classified documents hanging from the ceiling, which I think we already had photos to that extent in his bathroom piled up all the way to the shower head.
But I think what you're not going to see, or at least I don't think there's a high risk of this, is Trump's mental state. I think that that is the tough part for this prosecution, which is that under the Espionage Act, Trump has to willfully retain national defense information, but under the Presidential Records Act, he can deem documents personal and keep them.
So, if he really did think that he deemed them personal and kept them, then it's hard to say or harder to say that he willfully retained something that wasn't his. And so that mental state, what did you do, what do you think about these documents, I think that it was powerful that he showed a document and said, this is classified, I really can't declassify, I can't show you. That's the type of information that I would be looking for. Not so much, this guy was a disaster with classified documents.
EISEN: Well, and the witness who is going to kill Trump on intent is his lawyer, Evan Corcoran. You know, your maid, your chauffeur, your woodworker, he installed crown molding in Trump's room, okay, they're going to overhear stuff. But Trump divulged what he was thinking to his lawyer and the lawyer was forced to testify. Why? Crime, fraud, exception to privilege. If there is substantial evidence, that's what the court found, the privilege is pierced. That's going to kill him.
Then there's that tape made at Bedminster talking about the Iran documents. Trump went on a TV and said, no, that was real estate papers. That was proven to be false. Who's there? Susie Wiles, one of his closest confidants. When she goes on the stand to say what Trump did, you'll be able to infer intent. So, it's the mix of witnesses that makes this powerful.
COATES: Well, whenever this trial might happen, I doubt it's going to happen on the schedule we've already seen. We know how this is going to work. But in any event, suppose this happened, say, after -- after -- and I think Trump believes he might be the president of the United States yet again, and he was speaking on Univision about what he would do in terms of perhaps political opponents and retribution and beyond.
I mean, what is your reaction to that? I mean, it seems so -- when I heard it at first, I thought, oh, and then he's going to say, I'm being facetious in some way or hyperbolic. He wasn't.
MAILMAN: Well, this is a guy who also campaigned on "lock her up," and then he didn't lock her up. So, we have to remember, Trump is words. Like, Trump is big words, Trump is lots of words. But Trump is words. He did not drain the swamp. He had his own DHS, is the one who was working with Twitter to cut off conservative voices.
COATES: But he's saying it three times now, May, about having the DOJ be essentially his pawn.
MAILMAN: And so -- but what I think that he's trying to get his message across is that's what the DOJ is doing to him. And would you like it if I did it to you? Would you like that, Chris Christie? Would you like that, Joe Biden? Would you like that, you know?
And I think that that message, I'm going to do that for whatever reason, when it comes out of Trump's mouth, people hear, you know, you're anti-democratic and you're scary. But what he's meaning to say is that's what's happening to me. What would you think if that happened to you?
COATES: I think you're cleaning it up a little bit. I mean, I don't know him personally, but the way you have talked about it sounds much nicer and much more diplomatic than what he has consistently said in terms of what he believes that Biden is doing with his own DOJ. He thinks it's his own DOJ. Do you see it the same way (INAUDIBLE)?
EISEN: Uh --
EISEN: I think we all have no eyes. I think we all know.
COATES: My question was rhetorical. Do you share the same opinion? What do you think?
EISEN: I think we all have no eyes. I see it a little differently. This is a president who became steadily more lawless.
He staged an attempted coup. We've never seen a non-peaceful transition of power. He used phony electoral certificates to try to get Mike Pence to usurp the powers of Congress. Some of May's former colleagues are involved now in planning. They say the Federalist Society is not conservative enough. They want to have lawyers who'll do the president's bidding. I think he's serious.
And you know what else he's serious about, Laura? These trials, federal trials, will be shut down if he is reelected. The first thing he'll do, he has the power, he'll say, DOJ, drop the case. He may even pardon himself. Now, that's unconstitutional, lead to litigation. So, we are going to be in a new era of attack on the rule of law, and we heard that from Donald Trump's own mouth tonight.
COATES: I'll give you the last word. I cut you off.
MAILMAN: No, I still think that when conservatives look at the Department of Justice and they see the teachers' unions say that school board moms are a problem, and then Merrick Garland turned around and say, we're going to put school board moms on our watch list, it feels like the weaponization of justice.
And what do you want to do when you're being weaponized against? It's you want to turn that threat around, not necessarily to use it, but to know you have activated this weapon, it shoots in all directions. And I -- Trump is not a great messenger for that, but that to me is the message.
COATES: Well, so is the fact that the president would be the head of the executive branch to enforce the law. And if there is a crime, it ought to be charged. We'll see what happens ultimately in all these cases. Thank you both. Nice talking to you. May Mailman and Norm Eisen, everyone.
Well, I'll tell you something. This is just what Democrats did not want to hear. Joe Manchin says that he's not running for re-election. Maybe you're not surprised, but a lot of people are. And the question now is, what will that mean for his party's chances to hold control of the Senate in next year's election?
COATES: Well, there has been a shakeup on Capitol Hill tonight that could very well shift the entire balance of power in the Senate. West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin announcing that he is not going to run reelection. Now, of course, it's a major blow to democratic hopes of trying to keep his ruby red West Virginia state a real blue.
And that's not all. It could also be a blow to the president of the United States, Joe Biden, with Manchin now teasing, but not confirming, a possible run for the presidency as an independent candidate.
Let's bring in Jim Messina. He was former President Obama's campaign manager and also served as Obama's deputy chief of staff. Jim, nice to see you tonight. This news, pretty stunning for a lot of people, although -- I mean, he has been a bit of a thorn in the side of Democrats for several years on a number of issues, but what could losing Joe Manchin's seat in the Senate actually mean for the Democrats?
JIM MESSINA, FORMER OBAMA CAMPAIGN MANAGER, FORMER OBAMA DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF: Well, Laura, it means the math is really, really hard for Democrats. It means that Democrats now have to control -- have to hold every single incumbent seat. They can't lose any incumbents. And that includes tough states like my home state of Montana, like Ohio, like the open seat in Michigan. They have to hold all of those.
Now, that's doable. In 2022, for the first time in American political history, no incumbent lost. So, that's doable. Well, even if they do all that, they then only have a tie and they need the White House to continue to break the ties.
MESSINA: So, what this really means is Democrats desperately need to pick up a republican seat, and the two options are probably Texas and Florida, not exactly two states where Democrats have had a lot of recent success, but that's what the math is. And so, tonight, there's a bunch of glum Democrats sitting around wishing Joe Manchin had run for reelection.
COATES: I mean, I mentioned the sort of thorn in the side. I want to just show people in the audience some of the legislation that he opposed and why this is such a critical figure. Many people looked at it and said now, why is he so important to the Democratic Party, things that he was talking about?
He opposed social and climate spending bill. He opposed the social safety net expansion bill, the Build Back Better Act, blocked all of Biden's nominees for the EPA, just to name a few during Biden's presidency. And yet, as you described, Jim, so significant to possibly lose this seat and to have Florida and Texas being the options of ways to go.
I want to play for you, though, how Manchin described his next chapter. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): What I will be doing is traveling the country and speaking out to see if there is an interest in creating a movement to mobilize the middle and bring Americans together. We need to take back America and not let this divisive hatred further pull us apart.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: This is first of all coming after two very negative polls, I should mention. But was that all code for, I'm going to have an exploratory committee to then run for the presidency?
MESSINA: It certainly seems like it, or at least I'm going to do something to continue to have the cameras follow me all over the country. And I think, you know, Laura, that's really sad because there's no way he could win. You know, Ross Perot got 19% and 13% of the nationwide vote and got zero electoral votes.
The concern for Democrats is he would start to siphon votes away from Joe Biden in a really, really close election in the same way that our Republican friends are losing their minds over Kennedy Jr. running right now because he's pulling votes away from Trump.
COATES: Well, I want to lean into that because I think -- I've always been wondering about the process now. You know, obviously, earlier in the week, we heard about conversations about whether Biden should truly be running. I think that seems to be a settled issue among Democrats that he, in fact, will, as far as we know. When it comes to the independence or the no party or no labels, what is the process?
I mean, is it too late for him to even enter the race now even as an independent? What is that process like?
MESSINA: So, there's a third-party movement called "No Labels" that is trying to qualify in some of the battleground states. It's bankrolled by a whole bunch of rich folks trying to have a political voice. I think it's very unlikely that -- their own polling shows they can't get any electoral votes and it is sort of a quixotic quest for relevancy.
But in a close election, it could really start to take away votes from one of the two major parties in a really, really dangerous way. So, they could get on the ballot, and if they pick him, he could be their nominee. It's still very unclear what their process is. They haven't decided what it is. So, it just throws more sort of uncertainty into an already uncertain time.
COATES: You do wonder what a run by an independent, what impact that will have and on whom. Is it on, say, a Biden or a Trump if he -- if either of them obviously secure the nominations and talking about that? A lot more to get to. Jim, thanks for helping us understand it. It's a pretty important decision that Manchin has made. Thank you.
MESSINA: My pleasure. Thank you.
COATES: A whole lot of intolerance outside of the Museum of Tolerance. Look what you're seeing there. Rival protesters trading blows during a private screening of a film showing the Hamas atrocities in Israel.
Plus, from a wrongful conviction to elected office. Yusef Salam, who is now exonerated from the Central Park jogger case, he's my guest, and he has a new title.
COATES: Tensions here at home over the Israel-Hamas war, well, they have -- well, they've been building for weeks, from rival protests to threats of violence and actual violence as well. Like last night. A sad scene at a place that's built for understanding. A brawl between pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian protesters erupting outside of the Museum of Tolerance, of all places, in Los Angeles.
I repeat, it was outside the Museum of Tolerance. It was posting and hosting a private screening of a video of the Hamas atrocities in Israel organized in part by Israeli actress Gal Gadot, who was not there.
It's not the first time that things have actually boiled over. Tonight, the NYPD is investigating a possible bias incident after a father claimed that he and his infant son were attacked while they were at a playground. He says he was falsely accused of supporting Hamas. In fact, here's a video of what happened.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Go away!
UNKNOWN (voice-over): You can't tell me what to do.
UNKNOWN: You and your son go away.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Why?
UNKNOWN: Yeah. You cannot --
UNKNOWN (voice-over): What? I can't --
UNKNOWN: Get away!
UNKNOWN (voice-over): (BLEEP).
UNKNOWN: Get away!
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Why am I going away?
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Get away!
UNKNOWN (voice-over): I'm playing with my son here.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Get away!
UNKNOWN (voice-over): She's attacking me because I'm wearing a skull.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): I told you to leave. I told you to leave.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Don't come (BLEEP) near my son.
UNKNOWN: Get the (BLEEP) out.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): I'm not going to do that. Don't come near me.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Don't take pictures of me.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Anyone else is going to say anything?
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Don't take pictures of me.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): I've got a baby.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Get away.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): I've got a baby. Huh?
COATES: Over the weekend, a 69-year-old Jewish man fell backward and later died from a head injury after a confrontation with a pro- Palestinian protester. Investigators are figuring out if they will actually end up bringing criminal charges in that case. Both the Jewish and Muslim communities across this country are on edge for all that is going on.
In New York City, police are reporting a 214% spike in antisemitic hate crimes reports. That's for October, everyone.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations says it has gotten more than 1,200 reports of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bias incidents just in the last month.
Joining me now, senior rabbi at Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Rabbi Steve Leder. Rabbi, thank you so much for being with us. I mean, we have been watching so much unfold in the last month from what's happening in the Middle East to what's happening at home, on college campuses, in places like, you know, Los Angeles and places like New York and all, frankly, across this country. I mean, you've got fist fights, rabbi, in front of the Museum of Tolerance following the screening of the unedited Hamas massacre videos.
I wonder when you were watching this particular incident unfold, what were your thoughts?
STEVE LEDER, SENIOR RABBI, WILSHIRE BOULEVARD TEMPLE: Let's imagine for a moment, Laura, let's imagine for a moment the mindset of people watching that film, watching massacres happening in that theater, watching the films.
And then imagine what it's like after that experience, which if anyone who has seen them knows what I'm about to say is true, you cannot un- see those images.
Imagine for a moment we're out of that theater with that mindset and then being assaulted by protesters and being once again victimized and being called the victimizer.
And this is -- this is a flip that is incredibly painful. And when I saw it, it was the newest chapter in a very old story, and the story is heartbreaking.
COATES: Rabbi, when you sighed initially, it was so raw, and I think it was so articulate in what so many people are feeling when they're trying to even grapple with not only the images, but also the image of this country grappling with those images and the tension that is happening.
I wonder, how can people in a world like this, can they both peacefully protest without devolving into violence? Is there a way to even have these conversations? What are you -- what are you feeling in terms of the ability to do that?
LEDER: I think there is a way to do it. But the way to do it, I'm going to share one of my new favorite words with you, Laura. The word is "disambiguate." I think it's very important, if we're going to make progress, to disambiguate, to remove the ambiguity from the current situation.
And by that, I mean the following: The Palestinian people have been the doormat of the Middle East for a century. And they deserve better. They deserve better from their own leaders, they deserve better from their Arab brethren and other Arab nations, they deserve better from Israel, and they deserve better from us. They do.
Now, here's the word that disambiguates. However, that admittedly complex, nuanced, difficult dynamic that needs to be addressed has nothing, I repeat, nothing to do with what happened on October 7th, 2023, when Hamas made the decision to murder (INAUDIBLE).
We have to bifurcate the truth because conflation is the enemy. When you start to conflate a clear act of murderous terrorism with an admittedly complex and difficult issue, you begin to obscure the truth of the matter.
So, the only way forward, I think, is the following: Can we all agree that what Hamas did was morally repugnant and wrong? And can we all see how they are trying to flip the script? And by that, I mean, attack Israel and murder, force Israel to defend itself and respond, hide behind innocent Gazans, behind them, and underneath them in tunnels, 300 miles of tunnels below the ground, and then use the death of those civilians to claim that you, the perpetrator, are the victim, and the real victim is now the victimizer.
If we can at least agree that what happened was wrong, morally repugnant, then we have a conversation that we can actually have. But if we conflate what happened on October 7th whit the other complicated issues in the Middle East, we will make no progress and it will be a race to the bottom. My tragedy is worse than your tragedy. We have got to separate these two issues. That's the only way, I think, we can address them one at a time.
COATES: Well, rabbi, I mean, what you speak of is really the essence of finding common ground so that a conversation can then be had. And perhaps the more interesting question -- by interesting, I mean, demoralizing for so many people to think about is, why can't what you've described happen?
And I know we're running short on time, but I just have to ask you this question because, you know, I am a scholar of the civil rights movement. It was a calling of mine to be in the civil rights division of the Department of Justice. And one of the things that was always so ingrained in my household growing up, and I try to my children as well, is about that sometimes the people who don't look like you or believe what you do or have had your personal life or journey can be and ought to be your staunchest defenders and champions, and you should be one for them as well.
I wonder what has been the experience of support you have gotten from communities where we are accustomed to having coalitions. Do you feel that there is support from other groups?
LEDER: Some but not anywhere near what I had hoped for. I'll tell you what I said. I spoke to a bunch of millennials and Gen-Zers a couple of weeks ago, Laura, about this issue. And I said, the harsh reality that you are bumping up against is that most people are better at virtue signaling than they are at behaving virtuously. And that's what we're experiencing.
And that our brothers and sisters with whom we marched after George Floyd, with whom we marched for women's rights, for LGBTQ plus rights, we were marching on a one-way street for the most part because they are not marching with us now.
In fact, any feminist marching for Hamas is a feminist marching for rape. It's inexplicable to me. It is inexplicable to me. And I don't have a good answer for you other than to say sadly that Jew hatred is trumping, is subverting and subordinating the values they claim to stand for and live by.
There's a blindness that comes with group think, there's a blindness that comes with Jew hatred, and you end up subordinating all the values you say you stand for. And when your professed values and lived values are not the same, that makes you a hypocrite, full stop.
COATES: Rabbi, I'm very glad we had this conversation today. And it's what I find so thought-provoking and intriguing, is that there are those who will believe hypocrisy is on the other side, and those who will believe that these conversations are desperately needed. And there's this confounding feeling that they're not productive. And this was a good moment to at least have part of that conversation today. Rabbi, thank you for joining me.
LEDER: You're so welcome, Laura. I appreciate it.
COATES: Really thought-provoking conversation. Next, it dominated the headlines in New York and wrongly sent five teenagers to prison. Now, one of the exonerated men in the 1989 Central Park jogger case is on his way to a seat on the New York City Council. Yusef Salaam joins me, next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COATES: More than 30 years ago, five Black and Latino teenagers were accused of the rape and assault of a white female jogger in New York City's Central Park. They were targeted in an ad by a man who would later become the president of the United States, Donald Trump, calling for New York State to adopt the death penalty after the attack.
More than a decade after being wrongly convicted and having served time in prison, they were exonerated. Two decades later, one of them has now been elected to represent Central Harlem on the New York City Council. Talk about a remarkable turn of events for Yusef Salaam, one of the "exonerated five." He joins me now.
First and foremost, congratulations on your win and success. I wonder what it must mean to have that seat at the table when many people know your story for not having had a voice.
YUSEF SALAAM, NEW YORK CITY COUNCILMAN-ELECT: Oh, thank you. Thank you for that. You know, what this means really is that those who have been in a position where power eluded them, where they were really run over by the spike rules of justice, where every decision that was made was made without their input, finally have an opportunity to have an ambassador for their pain to speak truth to power, to tell their stories, to carry their same voices into the halls of power.
You know, in 2002, when we were found innocent, we marched for justice, we cried for justice. And I wondered who in City Hall would hear our pain, who was echoing our voices in City Hall. And then I realized that those who have been closest to the pain have to have a seat at the table.
My story is a story that the whole world has had an opportunity to have a front seat to. And now, they'll get the opportunity. For my same community that I was born and raised in, they'll get an opportunity to have a real representative who knows their stories because I am them and they are me.
COATES: That's such a powerful sentiment you describe. And just thinking about speaking truth to power, you can also speak about power and having the position that you have so invaluable on the inside that you will obviously bring. I mean, somebody who has faced injustice in the way that you have been vindicated, now turned a politician, which is a term that many people sometimes give a side eye to when they wonder if that person, what their true motivation is.
But here you are at a time when you're going to have to balance creating that safe space, hearing people, and also trying to ensure there's not going to be police bias. It's not an easy road ahead of you. How will you grapple with it?
SALAAM: You know, I think my lived experiences is really what I'm going to use to guide me. You know, being run over by the spike walls of justice is one thing, but being able to get up to dust yourself off to be really an example of how you can resuscitate the life that -- that human potential that's inside of you, it seems impossible, but right inside of the word impossible is the word I'm possible. And you know, when young people see me, they'll get an opportunity to realize that you can't count yourself out. You have to literally bet on yourself all the time. There's no one coming to save you. But if we can save ourselves, if we can organize ourselves, if we can fight for ourselves, if we can participate in using our voice for us, we will never again be denied.
And I think that that's what's really at stake. Trying to reverse a reality that we did not decide for ourselves, a reality that says that we are born mistakes, when the absolute opposite of that is the truest thing in the world, our human potential has been pushed down and we believe that we were born mistakes. The worst thing is that if we believe it wholeheartedly, we begin to move throughout our lives like we are mistakes.
Our people need safe housing. They need affordable housing. They need the housing that is affordable to be permanently affordable. They need to have safe streets and great education because education is the passport to the future.
But if they have already decided to build jails by the time our children get into third and fourth grade, we're fighting an uphill battle. And right now, we get an opportunity to really participate in what I call a great experiment for the next five voting cycles. Let's vote in mass in our interests and see how powerful we really are.
COATES: The trajectory you described is unbelievable. And to have people see you personally in that role must be something that is completely remarkable and resonates with so many people. I do wonder, it is hard for me to miss the irony of a statement like this, but I wonder what is going through your mind as you sit here tonight as a newly elected official, while Donald Trump, having taken that ad out, is facing 91 criminal charges. What's your reaction?
SALAAM: My, gosh. You know, I think we're in a really interesting space in our country's history because we're a very young nation. But for us to be in a space where a person who vilified like -- I have a different type of relationship with Donald Trump. The rest of the country and the rest of the world have their relationship with him. But my relationship is a relationship where he judged me by the color of my skin and not by the content of my character in a country that says that you are innocent until proven guilty.
My hope is that he gets the opportunity to have the law applied to him in a way that it was never applied to us. And by that, I mean, we see what happened. There's proof in what happened. Now, I'm not going to say that we're going to supersede the law, but the beautiful thing about it is that we get the opportunity to see the law work in the way that it's supposed to work, and hopefully, the outcome will be an outcome where that word that I said a little while ago, and I just tweeted the word "karma," becomes a reality.
COATES: Well, I tell you, the fact that you would still wish for him due process speaks volumes about you. And I want to thank you honestly as a mother of a little boy and a little girl, but particularly for my son. The story of you and the "exonerated five" more broadly has been such an important moment as a parent to share with my children and better prepare them for the world that they do live in. And I want to thank you so much for being open enough to share it with the world. So, thank you as a mommy on behalf of my boy. Thank you.
SALAAM: My pleasure. Thank you.
COATES: Well, the parents of one of the Parkland shooting victims filing a first of its kind lawsuit against the U.S. government. They argue lax gun policy is actually violating human rights. The father of Joaquin Oliver is here to explain their case, next.
COATES: Well, tonight, the parents of one of the students gunned down at Parkland, in Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School now taking unprecedented legal action in honor of Joaquin. Joaquin Oliver's family says the country's gun policies and the Supreme Court's Second Amendment decisions robbed their child of his right to -- quote -- "fall in love, chase his dreams, or attend a Rolling Stones concert with his father."
Joining me now is Manny Oliver, Joaquin's father, along with his attorney, Jonathan Lowy. Thank you both for being here. Manny, your son, obviously invaluable and so important to you and all who loved him and really to the world now, knowing the advocacy that you have been involved in. Tell me why this lawsuit is the next course of action for you.
MANNY OLIVER, PARENT OF PARKLAND SHOOTING VICTIM JOAQUIN OLIVER: Well, my son is also representing every single kid, every single person that is losing this battle. It is very important. It's -- we have tried many different ways of addressing the issue. This is a new way. We are trying something that no one has tried before.
And This is what Joaquin will be doing. We -- if you knock a door and you don't get an answer, why are you going to keep on knocking that same door? So, I'm glad that we were able to find this as an option, and I'm open to keep on fighting on this path until we find results.
COATES: This is a novel approach, the human rights element of it and gun policies in this country. Why is this the new pressure point?
JONATHAN LOWY, ATTORNEY: Well, we've seen the problems with U.S. gun politics. They're so constraining. They're not getting us anywhere. So, what we've done is we've gone outside of the U.S. to the international community, an international human rights tribunal, that hopefully will tell the United States, you're violating human rights law, you've got to protect the right to live, you've got to get your gun policy in place like the rest of the world does. COATES: You know, we are in a world where people look at the United States and the gun violence, the mass shooting numbers, the scope of this is so unbelievable. And yet the frequency it happens does display a level of indifference that I don't know how we can get our minds around. Every time you see a mass shooting, it must be extraordinarily difficult to know that a lot of this could be prevented.
OLIVER: And it also reminds us that it's a failure from the system. Like, this is not a mistake. My son was shot 280,000 victims ago. So, this is happening really often. We had a shooting, a mass shooting a couple of weeks ago, and we don't see anyone offended about this.
So, sometimes, you have to take things by your own hands. I am a father. I'm still Joaquin's dad. Patricia is still Joaquin's mom. We're willing to represent the legacy of our son forever, until our last day here.
COATES: It's kind of a class action, and that there could be so many other people, obviously, not only aggrieved, but also people who could ultimately be in a position to have a shooting happen where they live, in their own backyards, at their schools and beyond. What is it you're asking as a result of this lawsuit?
LOWY: Well, we would like the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to declare that the U.S. is violating its human rights obligations and that it is required to join the world community and have the sort of gun laws in place that every other country does, and to keep dangerous people like the Parkland shooter from getting guns, keep assault weapons off the streets, and do other sensible reforms, again, that every other country in the world already does.
COATES: Joaquin really is all of our sons, and I'm so sorry for your loss, and thank you for the fight that you continue to put up. I appreciate it.
OLIVER: Thank you. We'll keep on doing this.
LOWY: Thank you.
COATES: Thank you all, everyone, for watching. Our coverage continues.