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Laura Coates Live
Everything, Everywhere Hits President Joe Biden All at Once; Jury in Rudy Giuliani Defamation Trial Begins Deliberations; Jonathan Majors Awaits Verdict in Assault Trial; A Family from Mississippi Calls for Accountability; Steer Caused Mass Transit Delays. Aired 11p- 12a ET
Aired December 14, 2023 - 23:00 ET
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PHILLIP (on camera): An all new episode of "The Whole Story with Anderson Cooper" airs Sunday night at 9 p.m. Eastern and Pacific only on CNN.
Thank you for watching. "Laura Coates Live" starts right now. Laura, hi.
LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: It will be the whole story with Abby Phillip on Sunday you mean. That's what you're talking about, right?
PHILLIP: That's just one Sunday. COATES: Okay. There you go. I will hype you up myself. Thank you so much, Abby. It is really important.
PHILLIP: Thank you, Laura.
COATES: Everyone, it's everything, everywhere, all at once for President Biden. And this time, it's personal. Tonight on "Laura Coates Live."
Now, we've heard it over and over, right? That phrase that all politics is local. Well, maybe it should be all politics is personal because it certainly seems to be for President Biden. In just 18 days, it's going to be 2024. I know, I'm with you, I can't believe it either. But in 18 days, it will, in fact, be 2024 and the president will be running for reelection in the face of some significant headwinds that are turning into quite the hurricane. I mean, everything, everywhere, all at once.
You've got wars in Ukraine, Israel, bombs still raining down. You've got hostages still desperate for rescue, families torn apart, some of Biden's own staff members holding a vigil outside the White House, masked to conceal their identities, and calling for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza. The president giving a very personal message to Israel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want them to be focused on how to save civilian lives, not stop going after Hamas, but be more careful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Well, then there's Ukraine. Now, Biden is trying to push his own party where they don't seem to want to go. He's open to changing border policy in exchange for the votes to pass the aid that Ukraine desperately needs. But Democrats have been balking at supporting policy that they, frankly, they once slammed. And the president's approval rating is, well, underwater in poll after poll after poll.
Now, he faces what may very well be the biggest challenge of all, House Republicans impeachment inquiry with a notable lack of evidence to back up any of their accusations against the president, a kind of reverse engineering. Well, Biden calling it a baseless political stunt and even fundraising off of it.
Perhaps this seems familiar to you. Impeachment, fundraising off of it, talking about it being baseless, kind of a page out of the Trump playbook, but maybe for different reasons. Well, he is the expert. After all, he had been impeached not once, but twice.
But this inquiry, well, it's personal for Joe Biden, he says. He's focusing on Hunter Biden's, of course, foreign business dealings, and what could be more personal for the president than the man he has called his only surviving son, that after Beau Biden died of brain cancer in 2015. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUNTER BIDEN, SON OF PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: My father was not financially involved in my business, not as a practicing lawyer, not as a board member of Burisma, not in my partnership with a Chinese private businessman, not in my investments at home nor abroad, and certainly not as an artist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: So, the big question is, can Joe Biden turn this around, these headwinds in his face, the idea of all everything, everywhere, all at once? Well, people, they've counted them out before, haven't they?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
J. BIDEN: But look, this isn't the first time in my life I've been knocked down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: No, it's not. But the big question is, what will voters think on November 5th? Will they lift him up once again to the White House?
There's a lot to talk about with former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang. He's also the author of "The Last Election." Andrew, so good to see you here tonight. I'm glad you joined me. How are you doing?
ANDREW YANG, AUTHOR OF "THE LAST ELECTION," FORMER 2020 DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm doing great, Laura. Those polls you showed, they're actually a little bit worse for the president.
I think CNN's last poll had them at 37 percent, and that's what the 538 average is now. It's great to be here with you. I think this is the most important topic for our politics in the next cycle.
COATES: Well, the polls -- the polls that have the averages seem to be the latest one, but I'm not going to say that to you. We're talking about underwater or like under the water, when you're talking about the numbers that are facing the Biden administration right now.
And now, you've got this impeachment inquiry. It's not the full impeachment we know. Maybe parsing the words for many voters is not sufficient. But Republicans have been itching to launch this impeachment inquiry even though there's no evidence, there's no definitive high crime or misdemeanor or any definitive ties, if any, to Hunter's financial dealings or what he may have done wrong.
I wonder, though, from your perspective, how will Americans see this given, look, in just a few years ago, everyone was talking about Democrats, if you're a Republican, saying that they were undermining the sanctity of the use of impeachments? YANG: I think this is an overreach on the part of Republicans. It's actually going to remind a lot of independents why they don't like Republicans because it feels like they're playing politics and just going tit for tat. You impeached our guy, so we're going to impeach yours. Like you said, the evidence is very, very thin. The president has a number of very significant headwinds. The impeachment inquiry, to me, is not one of them.
COATES: You know, we look at the headwinds. Hunter Biden, I hate to use alliteration here, but the headwind of Hunter might be really significant here because he has been a source of turmoil for his father. He believes, Hunter, even on those steps at the Capitol and talking in the past about how he is perceived as this political pawn that's being used in spite of the criminal indictments that are absolutely there.
He has said in the past that they are trying to kill him just to get to his father. That's -- I wonder, it takes a toll on the average person, but how about a toll on the presidency?
YANG: Yeah, you couldn't be a father without this taking a toll. I do think that a lot of Americans see this as a political ploy, as a weaponization of family in a way that Hunter Biden, unfortunately, has become something of a symbol on the right. Whenever you talk about corruption for the Republican Party, they just say, Hunter Biden. And that's a function of the polarization of today's political climate.
COATES: Well, let me ask you, you mentioned that you think the impeachment may not be his biggest headwind. What do you think it is?
YANG: Well, if you look at all the polling, Laura, you see that the economy is number one on the voters' minds. And the president's approval rating when it comes to the economy is in the 30, 40 percent range. People look back on the Trump years and if you're an independent, I think the polling I've seen says that Trump has maybe a 25-point lead on the economy above President Biden among independents.
So, this to me is an okay economy, but the perception is lousy, and it's tough for the president to make an affirmative case when that's the way Americans feel every time they go to the grocery store or look at their bank account.
COATES: I heard someone use the phrase "feelonomics" (ph), right? The way that people judge their own viewpoint of the economy by based how they feel. And, of course, how do you message around telling someone, no, you don't feel the way you actually do feel? But how do you turn it around?
YANG: Well, this is why, in my opinion, the Democrats would be well- served by having a competitive field because the Biden campaign tested this out. They said, you know what, we're going to spend $25 million boosting our numbers in the swing states, which was either an aggressive or a desperate move 12 months ahead of the voting. It's not something you ordinarily see. And that $25 million did not move the president's numbers up in those swing states. And they centered in large part on Bidenomics in the economy. It's not a winning argument. It's hard to convince Americans that things are good when they don't feel that in their own lives.
COATES: So, when you mention a more competitive field, you're talking about candidates other than Donald Trump or Joe Biden specifically. Is that right?
YANG: My gosh, Laura, 70 percent of Americans aren't excited about a Biden-Trump rematch. And President Biden himself said there are 50 Democrats that could defeat Donald Trump.
He's right. Generic Democrat beats Donald Trump by eight points in the same polls that have Joe losing to him in virtually all of the swing states. I mean, like you said, 39 percent, 37 percent. These are way underwater relative to the 48 percent that Obama had at this stage in his re-elect or the 50 percent that you'd ideally want.
Anyone else with an approval rating at this range went on to lose. So, President Biden, if he views Trump as an existential threat to democracy, and I think Trump would be a catastrophe, he should be looking for a better, stronger candidate to defeat Trump in the general next November.
COATES: Well, you know, I'm going to extend the analogy about being underwater. I do wonder with the dates that are in mind, has the ship sailed? These are right now -- I mean, you've got Trump as the runaway, it seems so far. You've got Biden as the only strong candidate in terms of, even the polling numbers are there, he doesn't seem to have anyone in the realm of possibility to unseat him as the person who would secure that obviously nomination yet again.
Are the polling numbers so instructive when we are within a year of the election?
YANG: Well, Laura, not a single vote has been cast in the democratic primary. There's still ample opportunity --
COATES: That's true.
YANG: -- for Gavin Newsom, Gretchen Whitmer, J.B. Pritzker. Congressman Dean Phillips from Minnesota has already declared, and he is at 15 percent in New Hampshire and climbing fast. So not a single vote has been cast. This is the time for the Democratic Party to find the best candidate to face off and defeat Donald Trump in November, and the numbers are clearly showing that Joe Biden is not that candidate.
COATES: So, it's interesting because most people assume at this point in time -- you're talking about a third party run. You've just named a string of Democrats between Gretchen Whitmer to Gavin Newsom, Dean Phillips and beyond.
Is there a risk in undercutting the incumbents' opportunities to reelection right now at this juncture or do you think that, look, it doesn't take a third party run? It's a test for the American people to know that this is the person they want to be the -- the person who has that nomination.
YANG: Laura, voters are begging for a better alternative in November, and the Democratic Party, in my opinion, owes the American people a real process and competition to determine a nominee. If you coordinate Joe Biden, the numbers are clearly showing that right now, if the election were held tomorrow, he would lose to Trump.
And betting on a turnaround for an 81-year-old incumbent with, let's call it a 38 percent approval rating, is not founded in any reality. Again, they spent $25 million to goose his numbers and saw absolutely no result. You can add more money into that mix. But people have already made up their minds about the Biden economy.
The Democratic Party -- by the way, if you had someone like Dean Phillips as a Democratic nominee, all of a sudden, there would be this generational contrast because you'd have a 54-year-old against Trump, and Trump would be the 78-year-old and the old one, as opposed to having an incumbent where 70 percent of Americans are concerned about his age, which I think is a very legitimate issue. You're talking about a very, very demanding high stress role and Joe Biden is easily the oldest president on record.
COATES: Why am I not surprised that you who wore that math pin is so concerned with the numbers in particular, Andrew Yang? I shouldn't be surprised at all about that very notion. But let me ask you about the Republican side of things because certainly the age is a factor on both. You mentioned the excitement really not being there when it comes to Biden or Trump compared to previous administrations or previous campaigns.
Do you see any Republican in the field beating Trump out for that GOP nomination because that might be an entirely different ball game for who was on the democratic side?
YANG: Oh, what I said about the Democratic Party goes for the Republican Party just as strongly where a generic Republican would be a much stronger candidate than Donald Trump. If Nikki Haley were to be the nominee, I think she'd be a very, very formidable opponent against anyone on the democratic side, but the numbers are very, very strongly indicating that Donald Trump is still the prohibitive favorite.
And, you know, people would not be surprised to hear that. That makes me extraordinarily frustrated because I think someone like Nikki Haley would be a vastly superior choice. But Donald Trump has a 30-point lead even in Nikki Haley's home state of South Carolina at present. Unless the numbers shift dramatically over the next number of days, I'd expect Trump to emerge as the nominee.
COATES: Does this mean you're not going to endorse Joe Biden?
YANG: Uh, look, I'm an anyone but Trump guy, but the Democratic Party owes the country the best possible nominee to defeat Trump in November. Numbers show clearly it is not Joe Biden. And I wish dearly -- I'll make this a personal plea. President Biden, you've done extraordinary things for the country, but now it's time for you to be a statesman as opposed to a political figure and say, for the good of the country, let's have the next generation step up.
And you were right, there are another 49 Democrats who can defeat Donald Trump. Let's get one of them in that spot.
COATES: Real quick, do you know of another person who is willing to do that right now? I mean, I know there's a lot of conversation around and you've said that, but President Biden is the one running for reelection. You have Dean Phillips. Is that the list?
YANG: Uh, well, there are a number of people that we all know, Laura, like Gavin Newsom in California who's jumping at the bit to run.
COATES: Well, we talk about them. We talk about them, Andrew. That's my point. We talk about them, but they have not committed to run. They have not said that they would. They have, in fact, thrown their support and said behind Biden, talking about the necessity to beat Trump.
YANG: Yeah, it's exactly why Joe Biden needs to lead and say, hey, guys, please do throw your hat in the ring, and then the very next day, you would see a number of people do so.
To your point, though, Laura, Congressman Dean Phillips is the only person with a backbone to stand up and say, look, guys, we're on a path to disaster, let's actually compete. And I give him all the credit in the world.
There are many, many Democratic insiders who are saying the exact same thing behind closed doors, but they're leery about going out in the open and saying it in public. So, credit to Dean Phillips for making the case the majority of Democrats want to see. They should have a competition for the strongest possible nominee.
COATES: Andrew, thanks for stopping by. Always great to hear your insight.
YANG: Thanks, Laura. It's great being with you, as always.
COATES: Thank you. Up next, speaking about behind closed doors, well, it's inside the Giuliani courtroom. I'll talk to the journalist who got this scoop and can take us right inside, next.
COATES: Well, a defiant and unapologetic Rudy Giuliani is trying his case not in a court of law but, you probably guessed it, in the court of public opinion for the defamatory statements about Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss.
But is that how the longtime prosecutor -- remember, he was the U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York. Now, he's the defendant with the defendant words right next to him on the table. Is that how he has behaved in front of a jury? Is he as defiant? Is he as unapologetic?
Well, let's go inside of the courtroom with someone who has been there all this week, features writer at "New York Magazine," Andrew Rice. Andrew, so glad to see you here.
I have been just dying to know more about what was happening inside that courtroom because people can talk big and bad on the courthouse steps, but when they're in front of a jury, when they've got the judge presiding, sometimes they sing a very different tune. Walk us through what was going on in that courtroom.
ANDREW RICE, FEATURES WRITER, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Well, I mean, I think you hit it right on the head. There's a real kind of bifurcation between the Rudy Giuliani that we saw outside the courtroom every day at the end of the trial. Over the course of the last few days, he would come out and give very brash statements. You know, he accused people of being -- the lawyers in the case of being somehow affiliated with Hunter Biden. He, you know, accused all, said that he didn't regret any of the things that he said about any of these election workers.
Inside the courtroom, very different story. He was restricted from really saying much of anything of substance. And when it came right down to it today, he had a chance to take the stand in his own defense, and he passed it up.
COATES: What was his body language like? Was it somebody who seemed very confident in front of a jury, spine straight, or was he somebody who had a different appearance?
RICE: I mean, he is 79 years old now. So, I don't want to be unfair to him about his appearance. But it's fair to say he looks a little older, a little more stooped, and he seemed at times, I have to say, kind of disconnected and distracted, not really paying attention. You know, he an iPad there, and you'd see him flipping through the "New York Post" on his iPad as a testimony --
COATES: During the actual testimony?
RICE: Yeah, during the testimony, during extensive portions of the trial, really kind of like of, you know, looking at emails. He was not deeply -- we should say I don't think he was very deeply engaged in the arguments that were happening in the trial.
COATES: How about during the testimony? Because there was a point, he described something, I think he called the testimony on Tuesday, a pretty boring day. Of course, that was far from the truth because that was a day of testimony, in fact, by one of those Georgia election workers. There's also these really searing moments in trial. They played voicemail messages in the courtroom. I want to give the audience a warning. They're pretty disturbing. Here's just an example of a portion of what the jurors heard.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Eat (bleep) and die. You (bleep) racist. You are (bleep) done, you (bleep) whore.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): We're going to burn your store down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: That's just a portion of it. I'm wondering what the jury was reacting and how they were reacting.
RICE: I mean, those were some of the tamer ones, to be honest.
RICE: I mean, these two women, these two election workers, working class Black women from Georgia, got up there on the stand, and I have to say, you know, really gave very, very compelling testimony about what it was like to be a regular person in the eye of this political storm, to be identified falsely by the Trump campaign as people who are responsible for not just like -- they claim --
RICE: -- that these two individuals were responsible for stealing the entire state of Georgia. So, they had the whole weight of a lot of hatred come down on them as a result of that. And some of the --
COATES: Andrew, I want know, though, did the jurors -- how were they reacting to it? That's what I really want to understand.
RICE: Well, I mean, I think, you know, the jurors -- you know, as jurors are supposed to, I mean, they didn't betray a lot of emotion. I will say that at one point in the testimony yesterday when Ruby Freeman, the mother, and the pair was testifying, she became very emotional.
She started talking about how she really couldn't use her name anymore. She -- you know, people knew who she was because of this ignominy attached to her name. She couldn't introduce herself to people. She moved to a new place. She had to give up her home, moved to a new neighborhood. She just felt like she didn't have an identity anymore.
I saw one woman who was a similar looking to Ruby Freeman in the sense that she was an older, um, African-American woman, you know, dabbing her eyes with a tissue. And then next to her, a woman who was a white middle-aged woman also started -- seemed to be quite emotional.
COATES: Hmm. RICE: So, I think, you know, it's only an eight-person jury. So, two of the -- two of the people are crying when the defendant is talking -- when the plaintiff is talking. That is not good for the defendant.
COATES: Andrew Rice, to say the least, you are correct. Thank you so much.
COATES: Well, speaking of another trial, Marvel star Jonathan Majors, he is now awaiting a verdict over the alleged assault of his ex- girlfriend. We'll talk about it, next.
COATES: All right, so what's it going to be, guilty or not guilty? That's the question a New York jury is currently weighing for Jonathan Majors. He is the Marvel star accused of assault and harassment against his former girlfriend, Grace Jabbari. The domestic dispute allegedly occurring in March of this year.
Now, Jabbari alleges that a cut behind her ear, a fracture in her right middle finger, and injuries to her right forearm are all the fault of Majors. Now, he insists that she was the instigator.
The jury was shown this clip of Majors and Jabbari in the back of an SUV. That's where Jabbari alleges the assault actually occurred after she saw a romantic text on his phone from someone else. There's also a video of him appearing to run away from Jabbari on the night of the alleged assault. And there's also video evidence from the night of the incident of Jabbari inside of a club using the finger that she claims is broken.
And from the day after the alleged incident, body cam footage from when Majors called the police to his home because he found Jabbari distraught in a closet. But that's not all because the prosecution is trying to paint a picture of Majors as an abuser, using evidence from before the alleged incident like this one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONATHAN MAJORS, MARVEL MOVIE STAR (voice-over): Then how dare you come home drunk and disturb the peace of our house when we have a plan?
GRACE JABBARI, EX-GIRLFRIEND OF JONATHAN MAJORS (voice-over): I'm so sorry.
MAJORS (voice-over): I would like to get to the point where your friends know what job I'm on and go, "I think Grace is going to be out of commission." Get me?
JABBARI (voice-over): Yeah, I won't.
MAJORS (voice-over): No, no, do you understand that? Because that team, that unit, right? Grace has to be of a certain mindset to support - Coretta Scott King, do you know who that is? That's Martin Luther King's wife. Michelle Obama, Barack Obama's wife.
JABBARI (voice-over): I know I shouldn't have gone out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: The prosecution also showing text from the aftermath of another alleged violent altercation where Majors allegedly threatens to kill himself. Do a little bit of a mock trial right now.
I want to bring in attorney and legal affairs commentator Areva Martin, who'll be playing the role of the prosecutor in this instance. And also with me today is CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson playing, of course, the role of the defense. And you know what? I'm going to be the judge in this because the two of you definitely got this. Let's just say that the court is now in session in this moment. Obviously, this is the court of public opinion. There's a lot going on in the law.
But I have to ask you, Areva, if you're the prosecution in this case, how confident are you feeling as the jury is deliberating right now?
AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: I'm feeling pretty good right now, Laura, because the evidence that the prosecution presented in this case is very, very persuasive and compelling.
This young lady was hit by a Mack truck. And in this case, Mack stands for a master manipulator, an abuser, and someone who was incredibly controlling. And that's what we saw in the audio, that's what we saw in that videotape, and that's what we know now Jonathan Majors to be.
He abused this woman on the night in question, he had a pattern of abuse, he even trained her on how to hide the abuse from the authorities, from medical professionals, and he used the race card. But this case, he used the race card to tell her, don't ever call the authorities on me, don't ever report me because as a Black man, you don't know how substantial the consequences will be for me.
And the evidence presented, I think, create no doubt in the minds or should not create any doubt in the minds of these jurors that he is guilty as charged.
COATES: Joey, quite the accusations leveled and, of course, identified by the prosecution in this case in the courtroom as well, but you see it differently.
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No one deserves to be abused ever. No one deserves to be falsely accused of abuse ever. And I think that's what we have here. And I think at the end of the day, my former office, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office that I respect so much, is very worried for a number of reasons. We have to look at the evidence.
Who did at the end of the day try to get away from someone who was scorned? This is about a person who was extremely jealous. This is about a person who noted a text message that indicated that he may have been involved with someone else and as a result of that went bananas.
The reality is that the driver of that car indicated and called her the psycho woman. He was right, that is Jonathan Majors trying to extract himself from the situation.
Should we not believe our lying eyes as it relates to the video that you played with him running away? Should we not take note of the fact that he went to the prosecutors and tried to file a cross complaint? Why is it that they took her side and not his? Why was it that she went out partying immediately thereafter? Why was it that she was chasing him? Why was it that she continued to pursue him as he tried to get away from her, trying in the very best that he possibly can not at all to be involved further?
This is a matter of a person who obviously wanted to exact revenge upon him, and that's what she's doing in that courtroom. Again, no one should ever be abused, but no one should be falsely accused of it. And if you say your finger is broken and you're partying and you're using and you're pointing that finger and you're drinking with that finger, why exaggerate? He is not guilty.
COATES: Areva, how do you respond to the fact that he is seen running away in the video?
MARTIN: No doubt he's seen running away, but what he is also seen or what we also see in that video is him slamming her body, trying to force her back into that car.
And this notion that somehow a woman that has been abused, as we know now for over a two-year period, that she would have to follow kind of this, you know, abused by the numbers, that she can't try to seek closure, that she can't follow him, none of that undermines the fact that he abused her in the back of the car.
And the so-called witness that calls her psycho woman, he did not witness anything. In fact, he said he felt like the woman in this case or the girl as he called her was doing something. He was not an eyewitness. He gave no credible testimony that can establish that anything happened in that vehicle other than what Ms. Jabbari testified to.
And let's face it, these were charges brought by the district attorney's office. She's the only one that had the courage to take the witness stand and to tell the story of what happened that night. We didn't hear from Jonathan Majors. He didn't take the witness stand to try to defend himself. Now, obviously, that was his right, but the evidence that was presented, the medical evidence, is consistent with the injuries that she described, the evidence, the pattern of abuse.
This is a man that would abuse this woman and then write her a text message and say, I'm going to kill myself, I'm going to kill myself, I'm a monster, I have a temper. And then he told her, he berates her and says, you're not good enough. Why aren't you like Coretta Scott King? Why aren't you like Michelle Obama?
COATES: Let me get Joey in here, Areva. Let me get Joey in here to address that claim because I think it's interesting. You're talking about -- you're characterizing the abuse broadly. Obviously, we're talking verbal, physical. There is demarcation between these aspects of it but collectively the prosecutor because she's focusing on it. What do you say to those claims, Joey?
JACKSON: What I say is that we have to keep our eye on the prize. Whenever prosecutors are noting a history and a pattern in what happened yesterday, the day before, the week before, that's because they don't have the evidence with respect to the now.
The fact of the matter is that after he ran away, she called him a total of 35 times. She went out partying that evening, etc. She was a woman scorned, noting that she wanted to exact revenge.
He, if you want to talk about courage, had tremendous courage. Why? Because when she came in drunk after a night of party and unconscious, taking pills, right? What did he do? He called 911. And what did the police do? The police immediately said that he was the one who should be responsible. He, in fact, indicating that he was a product of abuse.
Why take her side, not his? Why not adequately investigate? Why not do your job? Why all of a sudden say that he is the guilty party here? The fact of the matter is at the end of the day, it's not about yesterday, the day before, it's about the now, and the now establishes that he's not guilty.
COATES: Well, you know what I'm going to do, both of you, I'm going to stop it there because the now is for me to remind the audience here that you were both playing the roles of prosecutor and, of course, role of defense counsel, although both of you address all of the issues that really have come up and how -- I got to tell you, the jury is going to be out for this one if you were the guys, the lawyers. How is it going to end up? I just don't know.
But Areva Martin, Joey Jackson, none better. Thank you so much to help us flush out all of these issues.
MARTIN: Thanks, Laura.
JACKSON: Pleasure. Thank you, Laura.
COATES: You know, we don't take it lightly.
We don't mean to suggest that we're playing a role when it comes to domestic violence, but that was a moment for you to understand what was happening inside of that courtroom and the considerations that jurors in this country right now in that jurisdiction are facing not just in that matter but all across this country any time there are questions about the, well, how you break down what a he said, she said case truly looks like.
Well, there's a mother in Mississippi, and she's claiming authorities threw away her son like he was some piece of trash. He's now the third Mississippi man found buried in a pauper's field, whose family says that they weren't even notified. And now, they are demanding accountability.
COATES: Now, I want you to try to imagine that someone you love very much has gone missing. And after months of hoping, of asking for any word, any information at all, you get the worst news imaginable. But it doesn't come from the police. It doesn't come from the city authorities.
The family of Jonathan David Hankins only learned this month from reporters that -- and from reporters, I want to emphasize, from reporters in Mississippi, that he had died in May of 2022 and had been buried in a pauper's field. Now, authorities had found his body in a hotel room, but the Hankins family says they were never notified.
This is -- as you know, we've been covering these stories. This is the third such case discovered in Hines County, Mississippi. Last week, we told you about Marrio Moore, who was found dead on the street, and then buried without his family's knowledge. Prior to that, we learned about Dexter Wade, who was struck and killed by a Jackson, Mississippi police cruiser and buried without his family being notified.
Now, all three families are demanding answers or demanding accountability. And Jonathan Hankins mother, Gretchen Hankins, joins me now, along with attorney Benjamin Crump.
Ms. Gretchen, thank you so much for being here this evening. I mean, I cannot imagine what you have been going through. Your son was missing for almost a year and a half. And you understand, you did what every loving mother would do. You put out missing posters. You called for help. You put it on Facebook. You thought of anything you could to try to find where he was. And then you learned about what happened from reporters. What was that like learning that information from them?
GRETCHEN HANKINS, MOTHER OF JONATHAN DAVID HANKINS: Actually, it was a year and seven months.
HANKINS: -- from the time I found out. I couldn't believe this reporter knew more than the Rankin County where I reported and JPD. It was a total shock. I was in disbelief.
COATES: What were you told?
HANKINS: I was told that -- he showed me a death -- you know, a permission slip (ph) where he was dead and they buried him in the pauper's grave. And I thought -- I told him, I just didn't believe it. I said, I've got to see pictures. I just -- I just didn't believe him.
So, the next morning, my sister and I went up to the Jackson Police Department. After a couple of hours, they finally scrambled up a picture and showed me, and it was him. I asked why they didn't notify us because my address was on there.
HANKINS: Well, they said that it was the coroner's job to notify me. And we -- I had spoken with a coroner the day before, and they said they didn't have pictures. But it was JPD (INAUDIBLE) to notify me.
And all this time, I was checking in with Rankin County, you know, every couple week, and they never heard nothing. And then the detective that was over his case got arrested. He was one of the six in the goon squad in Rankin County. So, October of 23, someone finally called me back and told me there was a new detective taking the place.
COATES: Ben, when you're hearing all this, I mean, having Ms. Gretchen go from this person to that, being pinged -- you know, ponged back and forth between different entities to figure out what happened, you've been looking at these issues for some time, including the fact that the coroner found meth and fentanyl in his blood, but listed the cause of death as natural causes. Any insight into why they would do that, Ben?
BENJAMIN CRUMP, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: There is none, Laura Coates. In fact, it's eerily similar to Marrio Moore's family and Dexter Wade's family, where they're pointing the fingers at each other. No one wants to take accountability. Well, Ms. Gretchen, I promise you, Attorney Sweet (ph) and I are going to try to identify all 672 of those individuals buried behind that jail.
Laura, thank you for covering these matters because a lot of times, these families had nowhere to turn. But you are giving them a voice. And hopefully, any other family out there whose loved one is missing in Jackson, Mississippi should contact us immediately so we can try to not have any other family go through what Ms. Gretchen is going through.
COATES: I'm taken aback right now, Ms. Gretchen, just by the number that Mr. Crump said. Six hundred plus people in that pauper's field. And your beloved son, one of them.
HANKINS: Yes, ma'am.
COATES: And that's how you find out. I would mention -- you have mentioned before that your son battled addiction.
HANKINS: Yes, ma'am. COATES: I'm wondering -- yeah. I'm wondering, and frankly, this is something that happens all across this country, and we as a nation need to grapple with the consequences of it and how to make sure people are getting the treatment that they need.
I wonder, in terms of treatment, how do you feel your son was treated by authorities in this manner?
HANKINS: I felt like they threw him away like a piece of trash. He has been in trouble several times. I felt like they just thought, well, another drug head dead, and they just literally threw him away.
No respect. No remorse. None of them has contacted me and apologized not even after they know that I know. None of them has tried to even talk to me or anything. I want my son buried with my family. I want him to have a respectable burial.
COATES: Thank you for doing that today, Ms. Hankins, and thank you for sharing the story as well. Mr. Ben Crump, we are continuing to follow what has been happening in that area. I know you'll stay on the case as well. Thank you both.
CRUMP: Thank you, Laura.
HANKINS: Thank you.
COATES: We'll be right back.
COATES: New Jersey transit riders could not believe, sorry, their eyes today. A steer found its way onto train tracks at Newark Penn Station. Yes, this happened on the train. The snarling rail, it caused traffic for hours. Eventually, the steer was subdued with a tranquilizer and transported to a local animal sanctuary where he has been named Ricardo.
Joining me now is Mike Stura, founder and president of the Skyland Animal Sanctuary. I mean, I don't even know where to begin at times. Ricardo is now at this sanctuary, the Skyland Animal Sanctuary. So, you identified him as a Texas longhorn. He's about a year and a half old. I don't know what he was doing and found where he was, but how was he doing tonight?
MIKE STURA, FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT, SKYLAND ANIMAL SANCTUARY: Hello. He's doing, well, much better than he was when I first met him. He was -- he was tranquilized. He was flat out on his side. That's no good for them. (INAUDIBLE) can't lay flat on their side like that. So, he is now sternal (ph), which is on -- his chest, like, upright and much brighter and looking very handsome. He has not stood up for me yet, but he's doing well so far.
COATES: I understand from an eyewitness that he told our affiliate that Ricardo, as he has been named, charged at police. They tried to corner him, and then they all kind of scattered like "roaches" because they were afraid. That's a quote. All this is particularly stressful for this little thing. But, I mean, any idea as to why, how he ended up where he was?
STURA: Yeah, I mean, my best guess is he was being brought to a local slaughterhouse right there. There are several nearby. And he saw daylight and ran for it.
COATES: And now, he is in the sanctuary being cared for. We'll see if he stands up for you. I can't believe this is a story that was really real when I saw the pictures. Mike Stura, thank you for joining us so much.
STURA: Well, thank you. Thanks for having me.
COATES: Well, thank you all for watching. Our coverage continues.