Return to Transcripts main page

Laura Coates Live

Artificial Intelligence Industry Was Shaken By Tectonic Shifts Over The Weekend; Rise Of AI In Music: Threat To Creativity Or New Tool?; Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down Key Tool For Voting Rights Act; Biden's Birthday Prompts Debate About Age; Funeral Held For Dexter Wade As Family Alleges 'Cover Up'; Israel-Hamas War: Push To Free Hostages. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired November 20, 2023 - 23:00   ET




ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Tonight, the new House speaker making a pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago. The source tells CNN that Mike Johnson went to meet with former President Trump at his Florida compound tonight. The speaker's voyage follows his endorsement last week of Trump. Johnson has branded himself as one of Trump's closest allies in the Congress.

And thank you for watching "NewsNight." "Laura Coates Live" starts right now. Hey, Laura.

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Surprise, surprise, surprise. Another pilgrimage --

PHILLIP: Shocking.

COATES: -- down to Mar-a-Lago. I am stunned. This is truly -- where's the banner? Breaking news, this has happened. Abby, great show.

PHILLIP: We should -- we should describe this as a great republican tradition, which I think it has become.

COATES: I think it's becoming that. It's almost like the true rite of passage.


COATES: Now, how will the voters feel about it? We'll have to wait and see. Thanks, Abby. Nice to see you. We'll see you back tomorrow.

PHILLIP: Good night.

COATES: A shakeup in the tech world that has implications for all of our futures. Tonight, on "Laura Coates Live."

So, what happened over the last few days could actually change the shape of the future. For you? For me? I mean for everybody, really. You've heard about this guy named Sam Altman, right? The leader of one of the world's most influential artificial intelligence companies who was suddenly fired over the weekend in a move that pretty much nobody had seen on their bingo card. Altman is the leader of OpenAI, the company that created ChatGPT, and was suddenly out of the company.

Now, it was somewhat mysterious, and they said he was fired over concerns that he was not always truthful with the board. Whatever that means and pertaining to what specific thing, we just don't know.

But just two days later, Altman was hired by Microsoft, where he could be even more powerful to run a brand-new division with all the many, many, well, all the resources of one of the world's biggest tech companies.

But the saga might not actually be over because employees at OpenAI, they're not pleased. They are threatening to head for the exit en masse if Altman is not brought back.

And this is not your average business story about one wealthy guy going to a different company to be even wealthier. This is really about technology. It has implications for the future of our humanity. I'm not really overstating it either.

In a moment, I'm going to talk to Kara Swisher, who knows this story inside and out and just talk to the Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, who hired Altman.


SATYA NEDELLA, CEO, MICROSOFT (voice-over): Every technology ever invented was both a tool and a weapon. And the question is how can you really make sure that the use of the tools gets propagated and the weapons, not so much.


COATES: We'll have much, much more from Kara Swisher in just a moment. But the issue here is about more than who comes out on top in a corporate power struggle. This is a battle between those who want to put the brakes on AI, who warn that it's dangerous, and those who say, no, it could improve our lives with advances in everything from science to medicine, to art, to the movies we watch and the music we listen to.

A song that uses artificial intelligence could copy the voices of Drake and The Weeknd. Remember that went viral a few months ago. An anonymous TikTok user claims to have used AI to generate that song and appears the artists themselves had nothing to do with it. Listen to this.




COATES: Coming up, we'll talk to legendary producer and DJ Pete Rock and music executive Ian Schwartzman. But the big question in all of this, who wins the battle over artificial intelligence and what will it mean for all of us?

I want to bring in the person at the very forefront of the reporting on Sam Altman and OpenAI, CNN contributor and host of the "Pivot" and "On" podcasts, Kara Swisher. My friend, I'm glad you are here. Look --


COATES: -- you must have a little bit of whiplash because it has been a lot --


COATES: -- these past couple days.

SWISHER: Yeah --

COATES: You interviewed the Microsoft CEO. What happened? What's going on?

SWISHER: Which part? Which part? It started Friday and it has been going and it's still going. So, by the way, we don't play bingo here in Silicon Valley. The ChatGPT plays it for us.


COATES: How about chess? Not a bingo card, but how about chess?

SWISHER: It beats us at chess. I mean --

COATES: All right.

SWISHER: -- you know --

COATES: Well --


SWISHER: -- in any case. You know, it's -- it is a corporate struggle in a lot of ways. It's about power and that's what's happening here. But I think not a lot of people expect it because this was sort of the -- you know, there's always a hot company in Silicon Valley and this was it. This has been it.

Big funding by Microsoft and other big investors at the forefront of this to commercialize this stuff for average people. Sort of like the first internet company, the first email company, whatever. And they -- like Google or something like that. And so, a lot of people felt like under Sam's leadership, things were going well, but the board did not and fired him quite suddenly.

I think everybody was surprised, including Microsoft, which owns 49% of OpenAI. So, it has just been a drama since then because there was negotiation to bring him back and then that didn't work out and he felt that they sandbagged him on that one. They brought in another CEO and replaced an interim CEO.

COATES: Well --

SWISHER: -- and the board has been relatively silent and non- transparent. It's only now three people because one of the board members that was part of the firing, Sam Altman, has changed his mind and signed a letter asking for the board to step down -- so himself -- himself to step down.

COATES: Do we have any idea as to what Sam Altman did? They have sort of an ambiguous statement as to why he left. Have you gotten any insight as to why he's gone?

SWISHER: I -- nobody can. Nobody understands it. I think it's more of a relationship thing. They keep saying it's nothing specific. It's nothing. Something -- I think it is just a power struggle between him and some other people on the board who have different ideas in different directions. And now, one of them has shifted to the Altman side. And so, we'll see what happens.

But it's really -- they call it alignment issues and it was very unspecific. And so, you know, if you get fired and they're just saying it's an alignment issue and then had never told you about it or warned you about it -- there was definitely tensions between the board and Sam, but it's not specific, and it's a very non-transparent board that will not say what they did. And in fact, it turns out to be a kind of a cloddish board.

COATES: You know, one of the things that you see that seems to be a very interesting dynamic at play is there is a debate going on between those pegged as the so-called AI doomers and people at the other end, people who want to push the technology further and faster.


COATES: And I wonder, does the outcome of all of this give one side the advantage here now?

SWISHER: No. You heard the interview with Satya there. I mean, there's a middle ground here where you can -- there's a lot of promise with this technology. And now, we have the opportunity to put guardrails in place so they don't become weaponized as our previous internet has been. You know, social media and things like that with misinformation. So, there's an opportunity here for government and companies to play a role.

I think the worries are that it consolidates under companies like Microsoft or Meta or anything else, and then -- and that innovative companies. Young companies are able to participate equally, which OpenAI has been around for a long time, but it's a relatively young company.

One thing that was striking is the employees. You know, I think there are up to 700 of the 770 employees that have said they're going to leave if they don't bring -- if the board doesn't fire itself and bring back Sam Altman and also some other executives who left. COATES: I mean, can it survive then without those employees, without Sam Altman? Is OpenAI kind of gone -- OpenAI gone as a result?

SWISHER: I guess. It has a lot of stuff. It could -- you know, it has customers and Sam was building it rather the profit part of it. It's done pretty well. It's very expensive to do what they're doing, as any startup. But I don't know. I don't know. It's unclear that other companies could come in, I guess, or the founders could find other ways to fund it.

But the money required here and the computing power is vast and that's why OpenAI hooked up with Microsoft. Now, others didn't like that. Elon Musk was one of the original founders of OpenAI. He left. Sort of in a huff about it. Created his own company called Grok. You know, he could come in here in some way. Some other people could. Anything could happen.

But Microsoft will have more control, that's for sure, because it'll want a board observer seat at the very least going forward. So, they don't get -- they didn't find out about this till a minute before it happened.

COATES: Kara Swisher, it's only Monday. I guess that's a happy Thanksgiving for all of us.

SWISHER: It's only Monday.

COATES: Kara, got to have you back. And we won't play bingo next time, my friend. See you next time.

SWISHER: Okay. You don't have to in the new cyberspace.


COATES: Thank you. Chess, three-dimensional chess at that. Look, I pointed out at the top of the show that this technology has implications far and wide. I mean, artists in particular are worried about what this means for their livelihood and also the future of their craft.

Joining me now, two people deeply tied to the music industry, legendary Grammy-winning producer and DJ, Pete Rock, and entertainment manager and executive, Ian Schwartzman. Hello. I'm waving to you back as well. Both of you waving to me. Thank you so much. I'm so glad to have both of you on today. Let me begin with you, Pete. It's only right.


I mean, you heard and you've been hearing about the conversations about AI. And you seem to be --


COATES: -- against AI in music. Tell me why. ROCK: Yes. Oh, okay, one of the negative reasons why is the fakers, you know, and using our likeness and our voice, that's like major. You know what I mean? And for me, for someone to do that, to sound like me, use my likeness, and maybe get paid or however it works, you know, it doesn't do us any good. You know what I'm saying? And it takes -- it takes away from our creativity and what we work so hard to do for our fans.

COATES: Ian, on that point, you've been outspoken that you think it's actually maybe the opposite, could actually be another tool to help artists get new opportunities. Do you think that's the case?

IAN SCHWARTZMAN, ENTERTAINMENT MANAGER AND EXECUTIVE: I happen to, yes, think that that is the case. I feel like this is going to be a brand-new opportunity for artists just like Pete Rock and others to create new rights categories, new revenue streams, and creatively expand their horizons into spaces they haven't been able to go to thus far. So, I see this as an enormous opportunity and it's going to bear a ton of fruit for people like Pete Rock and others in the music industry.

COATES: You nod. You're nodding your head. Do you agree with that, Pete?

ROCK: Hey, if Ian is saying it, I believe it. You know what I'm saying?


ROCK: Ian is a good guy. I trust him. And that was my only concern with the AI. But if Ian says -- you know, what he's saying is true, then I'm definitely for it. You know?

COATES: Well, we've solved all the problems just now in about two minutes, fellas. Bravo. Ian, seriously, tell me, really, tell me about this, Ian. How do artists do -- how do they get paid and credited, though? Because you know, of course, when you're talking about AI --


COATES: -- it's really at the forefront of even legislation. People are not as well versed in it. How do you secure the rights for an artist who's going to have to be reactive to finding whether the technology is out there, having people use it, and then get around in a retroactive way? How do they get that money?

SCHWARTZMAN: Right. Well, listen, I think this is a brand-new thing that we're all experiencing right now. I feel like, obviously, we have to get a couple of the issues under wraps here, one of which being the copyright issue and the other being royalty collection. And right now, in the United States, they only acknowledge human created compositions to collect royalties. So, this is two categories that we need to quickly evaluate and put guardrails in place so that it doesn't get out of control in a negative way.

But like I said, I do feel like it poses a much bigger upside than it does downside, and it's going to create a ton of new opportunities for artists. So, I feel like that needs to begin now sooner than later.

COATES: Pete --


COATES: Go ahead, Pete.

ROCK: No, I was saying I agree with what he said, you know. That's the most important part, you know, is making sure we get our residuals for the hard work we do.

COATES: You know, it occurs to me, because one of the things, especially early in hip hop, in particular, people were really critical of the use of samplers throughout various careers. They thought that using small portions of other songs to make a beat, to include and really infuse their own music, crossed a kind of line because there was not the legislation or the rights that were assigned to different artists that could protect everyone at play. Do you see this as being different than say sampling, Pete?

ROCK: I see -- well, for me, I'm an originator. So, I started in hip hop sampling. You know, that's just part of hip hop. It's something that we do. It's something that Kool Herc taught us. It's something that the school before me taught me. And so, with that, you know, there's nothing like human interaction or an organic way to, you know, create. And that's what's the most important thing for me, you know, being able to create music organically. You know what I mean?

COATES: I do. And Ian, on that point, though, and the creativity, that's what it comes back to. We're talking about being an originator like Pete, artists --

ROCK: Yes.

COATES: -- who want to be rewarded, not just monetarily, but creatively --


COATES: -- for what they have put into universe. If you've got technology, there could be an argument that says that it's going to lead to people not having the creative --


COATES: -- credit that they deserve, having real, true, original forms of instruments, of music, of melody, of beats, of verses. What do you think?

ROCK: Yeah.

SCHWARTZMAN: Well, listen, I look at it like a creative tool. I mean, Pete knows better than I do that different tools like Auto-Tune or Pro Tools or the MPC or Serato, these are different technologies that have helped people like Pete and other great musicians advance their creative thought process and really take the creative process to the next level.


So, I don't look at this as a threat. I really see this as another way for artistic geniuses like Pete Rock to take their craft to the next level. I don't think it's going to lose its individuality. I think it's going to take their creative thought process to a level they've been unable to take it to this far.

COATES: Well, I hope you're right because the music industry has not always been kind to those who are not ambitions of power. But I'll tell you what --

SCHWARTZMAN: That's true.

COATES: -- between your two arguments, Pete Rock and Ian, since my husband is from the Bronx, I'll defer to Pete Rock. Sorry, Ian.


SCHWARTZMAN: I can't be mad at that. That's the iconic Pete. We all love Pete.


ROCK: Thank you, Ian.

COATES: Nice to have you both on. Pete Rock, Ian Schwartzman, thank you so much.

SCHWARTZMAN: Thank you, Laura. Pete, nice to see you.

COATES: Next, a ruling today on one of our most fundamental constitutional rights, undercutting the Voting Rights Act of 1965. I'll tell you how it could shake up the 2024 election, next.



COATES: A likely showdown at the Supreme Court over voting rights. The Eighth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals brushing aside decades, literally decades of precedent, on who can bring cases over discrimination based on race, potentially hobbling Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The court ruling now that only the DOJ itself can bring lawsuits, even though challenges brought by groups like the NAACP and the ACLU have been pivotal in protecting access to the ballot over time.

The case at issue centers on a challenge brought by the Arkansas chapter of the NAACP and the Arkansas Public Policy Panel to the state's House map, arguing it did not give Black voters enough representation. Now, Arkansas is one of seven states immediately impacted by today's ruling. Joining me now to discuss is the mayor of Little Rock, Arkansas, Frank Scott Jr. Mayor, thank you for joining us today. I mean, we're less than a year away from a presidential election. We obviously have the census data that was used to try to establish more maps for greater representation. And now you have this, private litigants who cannot bring cases under Section 2. What is your reaction to this?

MAYOR FRANK SCOTT, JR., LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS: It's a clear bad decision as it relates to public policy, overall progressiveness within these United States of America. Little Rock stands at the crossroad of civil rights, as you understand. We were the first to help test the Brown vs. Board of Education as it relates to educational civil rights. And here again, we find ourselves at the same crossroad again as it relates to the dilution of minority voters within the state of Arkansas.

Very grateful for the descending vote by Judge Smith, and what he shared was right. It takes private residents and citizens to stand up for themselves and not to solely wait on the protection of its government agents.

COATES: You know, I have been a civil rights attorney for the voting section in the U.S. Department of Justice. They cannot possibly, nor can the DOJ, take every case that they've ever heard of. There are just not the resources involved, which is why oftentimes, litigants take matters into their own hand, even in spite of the DOJ's decision.

And to your point, in the lone dissent, the chief judge, Lavenski Smith, pointed to the number of court cases brought over the decades. Mayor, listen to this. He said -- quote -- "Over the past 40 years, there have been at least 182 successful Section 2 cases. And of those 182 cases, only 15 were brought solely by the attorney general."

And so, if that means 15 out of 182, I won't do the math at 11 o'clock at night, but that means that there was a lot of success in spite of and instead of the DOJ. Now, that goes away.

SCOTT: Well, what you have right now is the continued assault against the voices of the people. We're here today because we have legislative packing and some would say cracking as well as relates to the dilution of the vote. That's the reason why we're here.

We also understand that Judge Rodolfo Luisquez (ph) as well stated that there were clear criticisms as it relates to the dilution of those voters. However, he is definitely focused on Section 2 and that's the reason why we're also here today.

But again, as Judge Smith said, we should not solely rely upon the government agents. We have to rely upon also the private citizens for right of action. And that's the hallmark of the pillars that built the wall of civil rights. Because of the NAACP, because of the big six, they worked to ensure that we had a right to vote and that we had a voice and a seat at the table, and that should not be taken a step backwards.

COATES: When you talk about that packing and cracking, essentially putting all minorities in one district, hoping that they will not be able to have the necessary voting strength by separating them out, so they always are diluted, a really important way of trying to dilute the voting power.

However, there is pushback. Today, as you know, Arkansas' Republican Attorney General Tim Griffin highlighted this decision and said this is going to curb meritless actions brought by private litigants that the attorney general might not have ever signed off on. Is there evidence to suggest that this would actually -- there have been meritless actions being brought?

SCOTT: To my knowledge, there has not been any meritless actions brought as it relates to voting rights because I would tell you, the only folks who are really focused on suppressing our rights as it relates to voters has been the legislative body. That's -- again, that's the reason why we're here, because there were clear packing and cracking.


For instance, even in my particular district, I've been split in two just by a mere interstate at the point in time. And so, we know this to be true. That's the reason why we are here. And the only suggestion of the private rights action that have gone before us have been because of the rights of others. And we're very grateful to the history of the NAACP and ACLU and other civil rights organizations that continue to fight for the voices of the voiceless.

COATES: What is going to mean for your district, for your community, to have this decision?

SCOTT: Well, I think what it means for us is to understand that what has recently happened in Alabama is very pivotal to continuing to forward the movement of the Voters Rights Act. This is very similar. And what we find ourselves with Alabama, we know and believe and don't anticipate for the U.S. Supreme Court to take a step back.

I'm also grateful that the circuit courts in the 5th and the 6th districts, which all surround the state of Arkansas, they believe that there is a private rights of action clause, and we are grateful for that because we know that the U.S. Supreme Court will be looking at that as well.

COATES: Mayor Frank Scott Jr., thank you so much for joining us today. This is a very nuanced issue. However, it seems very clear to many who've been looking at this and litigating for quite some time. Thank you so much.

SCOTT: Thank you.

COATES: Now, the big question for Democrats heading into 2024, well, you might have guessed it, because today is his birthday, President Biden's age. But another topic is also giving the party pause. Here's the question. Will Vice President Kamala Harris be seen as a political liability? We'll answer that question, next.




JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: It's my birthday today and they can actually sign birthdays. I just want you to know it's difficult turning 60.





COATES: Well, happy birthday, Mr. President. Joe Biden's 81st birthday fueling debate about his age ahead of the 2024 election. I mean, surprise, surprise. Even Republicans going so far as raising the prospect of President Kamala Harris as a way to undercut Biden.


NIKKI HALEY, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We all know Joe Biden thinks that he's going to run and win this election, and then he's going to hand it off to a President Kamala Harris, which should scare all of us.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If we muff this one and Biden gets in again, heck, you may end up with Kamala as president.


COATES: It's actually pronounced as Kamala. She has been the vice president for several years now. Even some top Democratic lawmakers are lukewarm about Vice President Kamala Harris being the best running mate. But the question is, why is that? Let's talk about it.

CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein is here. CNN Political commentator Ashley Harris -- Ashley, see, I was talking about pronunciation. Now, I messed up Ashley Allison's name. That was karma. I got it. Hear you, Ron DeSantis, who was Biden-Harris 2020 campaign senior staffer, and Republican strategist Rina Shah here as well. We're going to have a fun conversation based on the intro for that, everyone.

First of all, tell me Ashley, I mispronounced your name, I'll do it, you first. Why is this thought to be a winning strategy by Republicans, to try to attack Vice President Kamala Harris?

ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think it leadingly is rooted in misogyny and sexism and some racism because she is the first woman, she is the first woman of color to ever hold this office. And so, it's this fear factor that the United States is not ready for an individual.

I also think, you know, she struggled in the beginning stages of what was her role really going to be as vice president, but I think she has found her lane and fighting for reproductive rights, fighting for a full teaching of history and really going and putting it at folks who are trying to take away our freedoms and our justice. And so, I don't think it's a winning strategy, but it definitely is one that can rile their base up.

COATES: Before we get to that, I know, Ron, we have a conversation about that, there are Democrats also, though, who don't really see her as the winning ticket. Listen to this over the summer.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Is Vice President Kamala Harris the best running mate for this president?


REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): I don't know what else I can say other than she --


RASKIN: -- would be an excellent running mate and an excellent vice president. I don't know whether President Biden has named his running mate. We're going to a convention next summer.


COATES: Hmm. Not like a resounding yes, she's the person. Ron, I actually mentioned the idea of finding the right mix for her, what she was doing, what she's working on. But you and I were having this great conversation earlier that I was picking your brain in the green room about. And that is, you know, this sort of structure between a vice president and a president that she kind of breaks the mold in some respects. How?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, the most common model over the last half century, we're thinking about Jimmy Carter today, really begins with Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, even Donald Trump, Mike Pence.

In all of those cases, it was an outsider running at the top of the ticket, who did not have a lot of Washington experience, picking someone who was kind of reassuring to the public and to the political establishment, who had more tenure here, kind of knew where the keys to the restrooms were, you know, and all of that, and both literally and figuratively. Then you look at the other examples where you had insider presidents in our last half century, George H.W. Bush in 1988 and Joe Biden in 2020, and each of them picked someone who was new to Washington, much younger, and supposed to bring excitement and pizzazz to the ticket.

And then once they got into office with Dan Quayle and Kamala Harris, and I'm not necessarily comparing their credentials, but once you got into office, they didn't really know what to do with them. I mean, the more established modern role for the vice president has been kind of the Sherpa (ph) to the new guy at the top of the ticket about how Washington works.


And then when you've picked someone in the opposite, in each case, they really struggle to find a role inside the administration, though I agree with Ashley, that after kind of casting around, they now have found a good role for Harris that is both placed to her strengths and allows her to kind of supplement a Biden weakness by being the person who's out there on the front lines in the red states, on college campuses, making the case about protecting rights, abortion rights, voting rights, LGBTQ rights, free speech rights in the schools.

But this broader model, we haven't seen it very much in the last half century, and when we have, it really hasn't worked out that well.

COATES: How do you see it, Rina?

RINA SHAH, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yeah, I mean, look at what we've seen from this republican GOP primary -- I mean, this GOP primary so far with these debates. All we've heard about is the southern border. She's had a role. And it was Biden putting her there and saying, find the root cause, get to it, attack it. I don't think she has done it. I don't think she has done it well. And many Americans see it that way. They see that she has been deficient in the job.

And look, I celebrated when she became the person for Biden, and then when she went into the White House with him. You can celebrate her wins. You can admire who she has been as a person who became a senator and was -- I don't think very successful. But anyway, she was a U.S. senator and I can admire her.

But taking all that away, you can find her deficient in her time as VP. She's not an effective communicator. What has she really done, again, about that southern border crisis? And this is where Republicans will attack her. They will find her to be vulnerable in those moments because she cannot effectively tell you what she is for. She's known for giving out word salads and then also the likeability.

COATES: I don't know. She has been the head of one of the largest departments of justice in the country and a noted prosecutor and a good one. Do you see her as an ineffective communicator, Ashley?

ALLISON: No. I mean, she -- have you ever seen her question Brett Kavanaugh during the judiciary committee?

SHAH: But that's a very different thing than voters.

ALLISON: It still is a success as a senator, whether or not he was confirmed. She's an effective communicator. I think, again, this is a historical role. She has gone out. And when she goes out and talks to the Tennessee -- we're talking about this --


ALLISON: When she goes down to Florida and she gives this to Ron DeSantis about taking -- saying slavery was good for folks and they benefited from folks.

When she goes down and she says, you know what, in Kansas and in Ohio and in Virginia and in Kentucky, if you're going to take women's rights to choose a way, I'm going to come in and I'm going to help protect you. That is how voters are going to begin to interact with her if they get her more and more out on the trail.

I think that, again, people were struggling. I really appreciated your point about the role. Also, she's the vice president. So, she is supposed to play second fiddle to the president. And when you have someone who voters want to see out there and taking charge, that's not her job as vice president. It is to support her leader, which is the president. And I think she has done that in a very effective way.

BROWNSTEIN: As a reality check, there really is not a lot of evidence that the vice president shapes a lot of decisions as opposed to the verdict on the president themselves. I mean, Lloyd Bentsen and Dan Quayle in 1988, it did elect Michael Dukakis, even though people did not come away from that debate, you know, having any question that Lloyd Bentsen was better prepared to step in as president.

Her ratings are very similar to his ratings. It may be a little different because of his advanced age and people may be more -- somewhat more focused on whether she is able to step in if he's unable to complete another term. But they're not --

COATES: But they're not great polls. I mean, even among --


COATES: They're not great polls.

BROWNSTEIN: No. She's as weak as he is. I mean, she is as weak as he is and likely to be as strong as he is. Ultimately, the verdict, assuming Biden stays in and runs again, the verdict is going to be on him and on his Republican opponent, and particularly if it's Trump, Biden has got to hope that there are going to be -- as there were in 2022, an unusually large share of voters who are disenchanted with his performance but are still unwilling to give the other side power.

SHAH: But the reality is she's a heartbeat away from the presidency, and it's a very different mix right now. When we look at the equation, we see her this close and being only trotted out to core constituencies when this Biden administration needs it. That has been her role, and she's fine done that well. But I think when you look at the broader picture, it is very scary to see somebody like her sort of perhaps not that comfortable into stepping into such a major role.

ALLISON: I'll just say --

SHAH: I don't find -- I find her a bit awkward, and I don't think she's ready for prime time.

ALLISON: I'll just say half of the population of women is a pretty big constituency, and she's fighting for our reproductive rights. So --

COATES: We'll leave it there because you nodded. There you go.


Ron, Ashley, Rina, thank you so much. Amazing conversation. There's a mother searching for her missing son for months, only to find out that he was killed by a police cruiser and buried without her knowledge. The tragic story of this young man, Dexter Wade, and what his family wants to see happen, next.



COATES: More than eight months after 37-year-old Dexter Wade was fatally struck by Mississippi officer in a police cruiser, his mother gave her only son the formal funeral that he had been denied.

What happened? Well, on the evening of March 5th, Wade was accidentally run over and killed by Jackson police, according to police. His mother reported him missing on March 14th. He was buried in a pauper's grave without his family's knowledge, without a marking, only a number, number 672. So when did Dexter Wade's mother receive notice that her son was killed and buried? Not until August 24th, more than six months later.

But that's not all. Just last week, his body was exhumed hours before it was scheduled to be exhumed without his family's presence there.


Joining us now is Dexter's mother, Bettersten Wade, and the family's attorney, Mr. Benjamin Crump. I welcome both of you here this evening. Ms. Wade, I cannot tell you how sad I am to hear about what has happened to your son and the experience that you have had trying to even locate him for so long. Today, you did have the opportunity to lay him to rest in a proper burial, but I can't help but wonder, how are you feeling as you sit here with me today?

BETTERSTEN WADE, DEXTER WADE'S MOTHER: Well, I feel that we laid Dexter to rest today. And now, he's gone home in a peaceful -- in a peaceful manner and he been laid to rest in the right proper manner. But we still need justice for him because we still don't know what happened to him. And we don't have -- nobody has taken accountability for it. And it's a cover -- it was cover up. And in my heart, I have just solved a piece of the puzzle. But there's another piece missing. And I know Dexter will want them to be held accountable for what they have done because --

COATES: Attorney --

WADE: -- there's no reason.

COATES: Yeah. Excuse me, ma'am. I didn't mean to interrupt you. Excuse me. I want to understand from you, Mr. Crump, what do you think is that missing piece that Miss Wade speaks of?

BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR DEXTER WADE'S FAMILY: Well, so many levels to this tragedy. First of all, what many people don't know is Miss Wade was the named plaintiff in a lawsuit against the Jackson Police Department for killing her brother, who was 62 years old and body slammed here by the police. And the officer was convicted. And so, she went through two criminal trials, several interviews.

So, when her son is killed by a police officer in a police cruiser and she notifies them that he's missing, she believes, her family believes, Laura, that the police knew exactly who she was, but they did not come and notify her that they had killed her son, and they buried him behind the county jail in the pauper's graveyard, where people who are unidentified and people who are indigent are buried. And he was number 672. How many other Black people are buried behind that jail? And so, when she talks about Dexter needing justice, had to exhume him.


CRUMP: In Mississippi, that seems to be the history. It had to exhume Emmett Till to get some justice, had to exhume Medgar Evers to get some justice. And as my co-counselor, Dennis Sweet (ph), said, we got to exhume Dexter Wade in 2023 to try to get some justice.

COATES: I do want to refuel you both what the Jackson police have said about this. They have said -- quote -- "While this is a very tragic and unfortunate accident, our investigation found no malicious intent by any Jackson police staff." That's what they have said.

Ms. Wade, I wonder, when you hear that statement and when the world realizes that you spent months trying to locate your son, trying to get any information about him, trying to be present when his body was exhumed, I know you are fighting for some kind of accountability outside of what they have said here. You have a long road ahead, I'm certain.

Let me ask you, though, Ms. Wade. This is your son. And I am a mother myself. Your son would have turned another year older tomorrow. Tomorrow would have been his birthday. What do you want the world to know about your child?

WADE: That they took. They took his life. They covered up. They lied for months and months and months. That was a cover up. So, he didn't get chance to see his 38th birthday. [23:50:00]

And they have not yet come forth to say, Miss Wade, I am sorry for your loss. Laid him to rest. Nobody showed up to say, Ms. Wade, I'm sorry for your loss. So, my feeling is that I still have to fight. Dexter wants me to fight. He's turning 38. I'm missing all this. I still have to fight for justice.

COATES: Well, Miss Wade, I am sorry for your loss. You should have heard that today. Thank you for being here. I know you'll continue the fight for your son as any mother would. Thank you so much. Attorney Crump, thank you.

WADE: Thank you.

COATES: Thank you to both. We'll be right back.

CRUMP: Thank you.



COATES: A deal to free hundreds of hostages held by Hamas is said to be closer than ever before. That's what a White House official told Jake Tapper yesterday. But until that happens, until the estimated 240 men, women, and children are released, frankly, there are so many questions that remain unanswered. Questions like, where are they exactly? What condition are they in? How are they being cared for? Who is feeding them? What are they feeding them? Are they safe? Are they injured? Where are the children?

Emily Hand turned nine years old last week. Her father is working nonstop to bring her home. Abigail is turning four in captivity. Her parents were reportedly killed. A few weeks ago, I spoke to Hadas Calderon. Her 12-year-old son, Erez, her 16-year-old daughter, Sahar, and their father are all hostages.


HADAS CALDERON, SON, DAUGHTER AND EX-HUSBAND WERE ABDUCTED BY HAMAS: I have to save my children's life. You know, you probably have little children. You can imagine. You know, Erez, he was just celebrating his birthday, 12-year-old birthday, in captivity in Gaza. We celebrate without him, a surrealistic birthday.


COATES: I can't imagine that. My own son's birthday is today, and I can't imagine what she is feeling. It breaks my heart to think of all of this, when her son turning 12 in captivity. But what about the children taken from their families, all of them, held captive, who knows where? Who's caring for them? Who's watching over them while they sleep, helping them to feel safe, even if they are not?

Well, in the days to come, I want to know, will we actually have those answers? All of us need to know.

Thank you all for watching. Our coverage continues.