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Laura Coates Live
Giuliani Ordered To Pay More Than $148 Million In Damages; Laura Coates Interviews Independent Presidential Candidate Cornel West; CNN Presents "Overtime With Bill Maher"; Laura Coates Interviews Award-Winning Filmmaker Ava DuVernay. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired December 15, 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: We are the United States of America and this is a number and statistics that impact people all across income levels. I don't care about all the demographic you talk about for election and how they try to categorize people and whose more prone or wherever it might be. It really is a tie that binds.
And so, I am just so proud of you for doing this story. I know this is deeply personal. It is not always easy to go there the way you have, and I cannot wait to see it in its full because it's such --
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Thank you.
COATES: -- an important conversation. So, good for you, Abby.
PHILLIP: Thank you so much, Laura. And thank you for sharing that with us. I mean, it is part of your experience and your life, and people need to understand that it can happen to me, it can happen to you, it can happen to any of us.
PHILLIP: So, have a great show. Have a great weekend. See you soon.
COATES: Thank you. You, too. I look forward to Sunday, everyone, at 8:00, the whole story --
PHILLIP: Nine o'clock.
COATES: -- Abby Phillip. Nine o'clock. I'm on the West Coast today. I don't know what time it is right now. Where are we? What's happening? It's Abby Phillip. Nice to see you, my friend.
PHILLIP: It's Laura Coates time. That's what time it is.
COATES: Yes, it is. Nice to see you. Well, you know, it turns out that there is a price for election lies, and that price is more than 148 million bucks, tonight on LAURA COATES LIVE.
Wow! I mean, just wow! Rudy Giuliani, former Trump lawyer, former New York City mayor, former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, he is now on the hook for more than -- get this -- $148 million for defaming Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Wandrea "Shaye" Moss with lies about what they did or did not do after the 2020 election.
This number, I mean, it's so astronomical even the judge seemed shocked when they heard it. And the scene in that courtroom, it was dramatic. The mother and daughter election workers hugging each other so tightly, hugging members of their legal team.
Just about the only person, frankly, who seemed unmoved was Rudy Giuliani himself, the man who falsely claimed that Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, names by the way you should not know, but you do, that they were passing around, he claimed, USB drives -- quote -- "as if they're vials of heroin or cocaine." Now, in fact, that infamous USB drive, it was nothing more than a mother and a daughter passing a ginger mint.
And Rudy Giuliani is still talking. He is refusing, frankly, to back down, even tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER NEW YORK MAYOR, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: I have no doubt that my comments were made and they were supportable and are supportable today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: No doubt? Hmm. Let's not forget what Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss have gone through, and by the way, are still going through. There were those voicemails that were played in court, voicemails full of obscene and racist threats. And I warn you, what you're about to hear is disturbing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN (voice-over): You're going to jail, Ruby. You're going to get locked up, Ruby. That's erection fraud, Ruby. What was on the USB drive, Ruby? You're all going to (bleep) jail, you piece of (bleep).
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Hey, if this is Shaye, hey (bleep). I hope you like jail because that's where you're going on your way to hell.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Now, these are the most tame of the ones that were actually played in the courtroom. And again, they didn't do anything wrong. They did exactly what we ask people to do when we have a democracy. They have to work to make our election free and fair by actually working the elections. And for that, for raising their hand, they were attacked, they were threatened, and they were left in fear for their actual lives.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHAYE MOSS, FORMER GEORGIA ELECTION WORKER: The lies Rudy Giuliani told about me and my mommy after the 2020 presidential election have changed our lives. And the past few years have been devastating.
RUBY FREEMAN, FORMER GEORGIA ELECTION WORKER: I can never move back into the house that I called home. I will always have to be careful about where I go and who I choose to share my name with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Can you imagine that? I mean, really, we shouldn't even know what their names are. They should be people who simply were working the election. The names Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss are not the ones you're supposed to know because they should be representative of every person who raises their hand to serve in our elections, to help try to make sure our democracy is working.
And yet, these are people you now know who are afraid to tell people their own name.
In just a moment, I'll talk with Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss's attorney. But the point of all of this is, well, it's not really the money, is it, when it gets to those numbers. It's the message. The message that finally someone is being held accountable, literally accounting-wise for the lies, for the people who were trolled, who were threatened.
Finally, there are consequences. But who's next? Remember, when it came to Dominion, that was a corporation, and certainly there were people who were threatened and people who received the brunt of the anger and the lies. But when it comes to these two election workers, are we in a totally different space?
Well, I want to bring in Rudy Giuliani's spokesperson and advisor, Ted Goodman. You know, he was there beside Giuliani as he walked out of court today. Ted, thank you for being here today. I'm really curious because you have been by his side throughout much of this. You were actually with him as they announced that figure, that number and amount of damages. Tell me, what was the reaction in private?
TED GOODMAN, SPOKESPERSON FOR RUDY GIULIANI: Thank you for the opportunity, Laura. Yeah, that's right, I was by his side today and every day of this week, of course. The mayor remains confident in his beliefs and what he knows to be true and, of course, who he is as a man.
This is the same man, right, this is the same man who took down the mafia. This is the same man who cleaned up the streets of New York City and lifted hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of New Yorkers out of poverty. This is also the same man who comforted not just the nation, but the entire world following the horrific attacks of September 11th.
COATES: You know, for the reasons you just stated, that's why perhaps it has been so shocking to people that he would find himself as a defendant in a case of this magnitude. It's not as if he is the average non-litigant, somebody who is so familiar with what it would take to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt and, of course, threats or defamatory statements that have been made.
And so, when you talk about who he has been to nation before, I wonder what has been his reaction knowing that he has been held responsible for the defamatory statements that were made.
GOODMAN: Well, Laura, you know as a highly credentialed lawyer yourself that the mayor did not have the opportunity to defend himself at any point in this case. Of course, as you know, a default judgment was issued in this case over a discovery dispute. And you also know that this is highly unusual. And so, you know, this wasn't a trial. There was no trial this week on the facts. The fact remains that the mayor had zero opportunity to defend himself and what he knows to be true.
COATES: Well, Ted, as you know, um, he did have an opportunity to do so. The default judgment, the reason there is a protocol following a default judgment or for there to be a default judgment is because they've contemplated what happens when you fail to adhere to the court orders to provide information and discovery. And so, why didn't he provide the information in time to avoid having that finding against him?
GOODMAN: Laura, you just said "they." Can you go back to what you just said?
COATES: Sure. I said --
GOODMAN: Who's "they" in that comment?
COATES: So, I'm talking about --
GOODMAN: The judge.
COATES: -- Rudy Giuliani.
GOODMAN: You're talking about the judge.
COATES: Hold on. I'm sorry, Ted. Did you want me to answer the question you asked? Now, I'll give you the opportunity, okay? So, you asked me who the "they" is. I was talking about how the judge, the court of law, the judge issued an order, discovery-wise, for the person to be able -- who was now being held responsible, in your case, the person you're besides, to provide information and be responsive to discovery. When he failed to do so, there was then eventually a default judgment.
And so, when Giuliani, the "him," singular in this fashion, failed to provide information to the other side, Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, he was held accountable at that point. Why didn't he just follow the timeline to be able to, as you say, have a chance to defend himself more adequately?
GOODMAN: That's right, Laura. This default was entered after -- over a discovery dispute, over an onerous and overly broad discovery request that was designed to overwhelm the mayor and his capacity to hand over such material. In fact, a lot of material was handed over.
And again -- so because of this dispute -- again, this is a discovery dispute between the attorneys -- this default judgment was issued. And so, at no point this week did the mayor have the opportunity to defend himself on the facts. And so, I just find that absolutely unfair. And so, of course, this matter will be appealed.
COATES: Well, certainly, you have every right to do so.
Naturally, the due process requirements seem to have been met by the judge. But I do understand your position in supporting him. But I do want to know, now that there has been a judgment entered based on this finding and the jurors making their determination, how is Rudy Giuliani intending to pay this figure?
GOODMAN: Again, let's go -- I have -- we have to make something clear for your audience. I'm well aware that this audience may not be the most pro-Mayor Rudy Giuliani audience. The fact remains --
COATES: Why do you assume that?
GOODMAN: Okay, well, I don't want to assume that. I'll take that back.
COATES: Okay. Then why you -- can you -- could you then answer the question that I asked first?
GOODMAN: So, I want to answer the question. Yes, I'm going to answer the question.
COATES: Thank you.
GOODMAN: But we have to clarify here. The fact remains what happened today was not a decision based on the facts, correct? The idea here that the mayor lied is, again, something that was decided by the judge by a default decision over a discovery dispute.
COATES: We've addressed that point to which I have said that there has been a finding.
GOODMAN: In your time as a practicing attorney, Laura --
COATES: Ted -- excuse me --
GOODMAN: -- as a practicing attorney, how many times did a judge -- I'm sorry. No, how many times did a judge come to this kind of conclusion over a discovery dispute between counsel?
COATES: Well, actually, Ted, because I have been a practicing attorney, I'm well aware that it actually is quite common to have default judgments if somebody fails to abide by the discovery terms and provides information as required by a court of law. But the question I asked you I'd like you to answer is, how does Rudy Giuliani intending to pay these particular damages?
GOODMAN: Look, I'm not -- we aren't going to say anything while with an appeal coming up. What I want to just get -- I want to get this point across. I'm not going to speak to your show. We've just started here. You got a, you know, 50 minutes to go.
But so many in the media today have failed to be -- you know, have failed to really explain what happened, right? Because you say -- you throw out this 100 -- almost $150 million award that was issued. But people aren't being told the truth about how this decision came about, and it came about by a default judgment issued by this judge over a discovery dispute.
COATES: A jury decided that he was liable, the due process conditions were met, he had an opportunity. The mayor, the former U.S. attorney in the state of New York, was not a layman in these terms. I do understand the point you're raising, but a jury has made this finding, a judge has made a finding. We find ourselves out of time --
GOODMAN: What finding? Laura, when you say that, what finding did the jury make as opposed to what the judge said?
COATES: Ted, just because you raise your voice towards me does not mean that you have either been responsive or that the next point you're going to raise, I'm going to actually delve into deeper. Thank you so much for the time that you've taken today. I asked the questions, you provided the answers you wanted to give. Thank you so much.
GOODMAN: And I appreciate the opportunity to come on in defense of America's mayor, Rudy Giuliani.
COATES: Wow. A pleasure on a Friday night. Thank you so much. I want to bring in Annie Houghton-Larsen. She's an attorney for Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss. Thank you so much for joining us today.
Annie, I want to start by getting your reaction to the conversation we've just had. Your clients won. Giuliani remains unrepentant, obviously, as you heard through his representative in this moment. Why don't you clarify for the American public, in addition to what I have said, about what it is about Giuliani that seems to say that he did not have an opportunity to defend himself or that the judgment against him was somehow invalid?
ANNIE HOUGHTON-LARSEN, ATTORNEY FOR RUBY FREEMAN AND SHAYE MOSS: Well, first of all, thanks so much for having me, Laura. Hopefully -- hopefully, this conversation can go a little differently than the last one you just had. I think -- you know, it seems Mr. Goodman is confused about what has happened over the past couple of years in litigation, and so I'd be happy to offer, you know, an explanation to him and anyone else wanting to understand.
The way that litigation works, civil litigation works, which, of course, Mr. Giuliani having been an attorney for, you know, half of a century, is well aware of, is that the parties to a litigation engage in discovery where they exchange relevant documents to that litigation.
Here, relevant documents would be the reach of Mr. Giuliani's various podcasts and radio shows. Relevant documents would have been emails between him and those who were ultimately found to be his co- conspirators, understanding what did they know and when, what did they believe the State Farm Arena video showed and when.
What Mr. Giuliani chose to do was to not engage in the most basic rules of discovery.
And despite being given opportunity after opportunity over the course of nearly two years, the court did enter a default judgment with something that Mr. Goodman forgot to mention, two stipulations signed by Mr. Giuliani himself saying, I would like to have a default judgment entered against me on liability. So --
COATES: Really important to unpack that, which would have been obvious, certainly to a former U.S. attorney like Rudy Giuliani on that point. But I spent, I think, enough time thinking about his motivation.
COATES: And instead, I want to focus on what the result has been to the people who a jury has found he owes damages to. Ruby Freeman says that even though you've got this amount, and it's a very high amount, you admit --
COATES: -- it can't give her back her home, her security or her name.
COATES: Shaye Moss talked about the impact on her sense of safety, her mental health. I am wondering how they are doing tonight, especially because the amount they were asking for was about $100 million, less than what they were now awarded.
HOUGHTON-LARSEN: Well, certainly, I appreciate you bringing it back to Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss because this is really about them. We've heard enough. I think the jury verdict proves that we've heard enough from Mr. Giuliani and his friends, right? Now, what this week has been about and hopefully what the future is about is hearing the truth, hearing the truth spoken to power. Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss are so appreciative of the jury doing their civil duty and listening to what they have been through, which was very difficult for us all to hear. You know, not to even mention, of course, how difficult it was for them to experience it.
So, they're very appreciative. They feel that this is an important step in the path toward justice. But money doesn't make you whole when your life is turned upside down. But we do believe that it is a powerful message to those sorts of people who would seek to target civil servants in the future.
COATES: Annie, really quick, is he the last of litigants to be, you think, held to account?
HOUGHTON-LARSEN: As Mr. Giuliani has said all week but didn't deliver on, stay tuned and we'll deliver.
COATES: Well, we'll see what that delivery will bring. Annie Houghton-Larsen, thank you so much.
HOUGHTON-LARSEN: Thank you so much, Laura.
COATES: You know, all of this is about what happened in the last presidential election. Well, another one is just 325 days away. I know time is flying. Next, I'm going to talk to a candidate who is running in the next presidential election as independent, Cornel West.
COATES: Cornel West is running for president as an independent, and his candidacy is bringing with it concerns in the Democratic Party that he could actually end up taking enough votes away from Joe Biden to ensure a second Trump term. So, what does Cornel West have to say about all of this? Well, he joins me now.
So good to see you. I'm glad that you're joining the show this evening. You have undoubtedly heard all of the conversations surrounding this phrase of being a spoiler. You said you're not going to be a spoiler in the race. But there is some data from the 2016 election that shows, for example, Jill Stein actually a major factor in Trump winning states like Michigan or Wisconsin and Pennsylvania over, say, Hillary Clinton.
Um, tell me, why are you so sure that that's not going to be the case with your run as an independent?
CORNEL WEST, INDEPENDENT PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know -- first, I just want to thank you for being on the show. I salute you. You got wonderful show (INAUDIBLE).
COATES: Go Tigers! Thank you so much.
WEST: You know brother Russ Neely (ph). You know, he was my teaching assistant. I know he was your thesis advisor as well.
COATES: Yes, he was.
WEST: He's a decent brother.
COATES: He was.
WEST: He's a very decent brother. He's a very decent brother. But no, you and I know this is a very, very fluid moment. I'm not convinced that brother Biden is even going to be the candidate for the Democratic Party. I think he's going to have --
WEST: -- the LBJ moment. I think he's going to end up pulling. When you hear Axelrod (ph) and Carville (ph) and others, these are very influential folks, they're calling for him to pull back. Even with Trump, given what we've just seen with brother Rudy Giuliani, you know, when you have that kind of criminality coming at you, that he might not even be the candidate. So, we just don't know.
The crucial thing is to be like Jane Austria (ph), constant, constant. We have to be consistent in our critiques of empire, our critiques of organized greed, our critiques of institutionalized hatred, and try to elevate the discourse beyond hatred and revenge and greed and really talk about truth and justice and love.
You know, we just got on the ballot in Alaska, and I'm very excited about this with the (INAUDIBLE) Party, Mark Belkin (ph) and sister Elizabeth Freeman. Meaning what? There is hunger out there (INAUDIBLE). There is a thirst out there to get beyond Trump leading us to Civil War number two or Biden leading us to World War number three. We know that both candidates cannot represent the best of America.
My candidacy is about what? Introducing America to the best of itself
That's Martin King, that's Fannie Lou Hamer, that's Rabbi Heschel, that's Edward Said, that's Dorothy Day, that's the best of America. Where is that best when it comes to presidential politics? Why do we end up with this mediocrity and mendacity and even criminality? That's a very important question that all fellow citizens ought to try to come to terms with.
COATES: Well, pretty strong words about how you think both of these candidates might actually fare in the long run and talking about the best of the country. But there is the notion you are not yet on the ballot for all 50 states. Do you think that there is a trajectory where you, in fact, could be to bring your ideas to the greater public and in a general election?
WEST: Oh, I'll definitely be on the ballot for probably 95, not 98%. You know, we got 15 to 17 states that are really low fruit, low hanging fruit, 1,000 signatures, $500, 1,500 signatures, and so forth. And then you got the middle group, and I've already got 18,000 volunteers. So, we are on the move. We are on the move.
Just met with my magnificent brothers and sisters. The team still there with brother Sean O'Brien (ph) and his visionary leadership, just in conversation. They're not promising anything, but they recognize we are trying to be in the language of John Coltrane (ph) (INAUDIBLE), and were explicit about talking about truth and justice.
COATES: Well, I'm telling you, if you were to secure -- oh, excuse me. Excuse me. I'm sorry. I did not mean to cut you off. I lost your sound for just a second. Excuse me about that. But if you were to secure endorsements such as the Teamsters and beyond, well, that would change the trajectory for quite a lot of reasons.
We'll have to add you back on, Cornel West, to talk more about this as the race goes on. Always a pleasure to see you. Thank you so much.
WEST: It's a blessing. Stay strong, though.
COATES: Thank you. Coming up, CNN's presentation of HBO's "Overtime with Bill Maher." And there's a big surprise there tonight. Stay tuned to find out what.
COATES: Now, let's turn it over to our friends at HBO because every Friday after "Real Time with Bill Maher," Bill and his guests answer viewer questions about topics that are in the national conversation.
And tonight, you might notice a familiar face that's on with Bill. Yours truly. Here is "Overtime with Bill Maher."
BILL MAHER, HBO POLITICAL TALK SHOW HOST: All right, here we are on CNN. (INAUDIBLE) in the new movie "Somewhere in Queens," Ray Romano is over here.
It's on Hulu. I loved it. She is the anchor of CNN's LAURA COATES LIVE. You all know Laura Cotes. Okay.
You're a big star. And novelist and host of the "America This Week" podcast, Walter Kirn, was as funny as ever tonight.
Okay, so these -- I hold in my hand the -- these are the people right in and here are their questions. We don't know what they are. What does the panel think of Oprah revealing she used a weight loss drug? How dramatically will drugs like Ozempic impact the obesity epidemic in America? Well, it has already happened. It's already -- you know. I think Oprah was very complimentary about Ozempic.
WALTER KIRN, NOVELIST, PODCAST HOST: I knew she'd used a drug because she kept the weight off. It seems like every other Oprah diet hasn't worked. So, it had to be something, right?
COATES: I think Oprah looks wonderful. But I will say I'm glad that she's talking about the lack of it. There should not be shame associated with what people are doing.
However, you know, (INAUDIBLE) you get no Ozempic and you get one and you get one, difference don't matter.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Yeah.
RAY ROMANO, PRODUCER, DIRECTOR, WRITER, "SOMEWHERE IN QUEENS": Can I ask a question?
MAHER: Please do.
ROMANO: Are we okay with Ozempic? Is there a -- what's the downside?
KIRN: Well, we don't know yet.
MAHER: I'm hearing good --
I hear good things. And that it's not only going to be useful for weight loss, but addiction. I mean, it does something to your brain. I don't know. I mean, would I use it? No. I don't -- ROMANO: And you use everything, right?
MAHER: I am -- I am a drug (INAUDIBLE). Yes, you're right. Ray, this is for you. Do you think a show like "Everybody Loves Raymond" that appealed to people all over the political spectrum would be successful today in our polarized country? I mean, it'd be more successful. I mean, it's what this country needs.
But here I am answering for you.
ROMANO: It's hard to say. I mean, the landscape has changed. T.V. has changed. And live sitcom in front of an audience is kind of a throwback thing.
ROMANO: But I think at the end, funny is funny if it's done right. I think I think it can survive if you do it right.
MAHER: I'm much more worried about stand-up. I mean --
ROMANO: Stand-up, yeah.
MAHER: Yeah. I mean, somebody, a friend we both know was telling me about performing recently at some place and there was like mostly millennials, she goes into her act and she's hysterically funny, and she said there was this like feeling of like, oh, the old person is doing jokes.
MAHER: That's like corny now. Jokes are corny, Ray. Don't tell jokes, it's corny.
ROMANO: Well, I still go to the clubs. When I'm in New York, I go to "The Cellar."
MAHER: And please, keep telling jokes. They're funny.
ROMANO: Yeah, yes.
MAHER: Don't let the millennials dissuade you.
COATES: The next time you got to tell them in acronyms. You got to do the whole bit and just TTYL, FMFA, whatever it is.
ROMANO: Yeah, it'll be a day where they don't laugh. They just go LOL, LOL. (LAUGHTER)
That's the thing you got to worry about.
MAHER: Right. Okay. See, you are good at this. How will Shohei Ohtani's landmark $700 million deal with the Dodgers change baseball and professional sports?
I don't know if it'll change it. It's just always moving up.
ROMANO: Yeah, it has always been going up.
MAHER: That's why I invested in the Mets when I did. People say, you're crazy. Why are you buying a piece of a baseball team? I said, because sports is the one thing that always goes up. And it's because I did a piece on this one week. It's the one thing you can trust.
MAHER: It's the one, because I know that those people who play baseball, those are the absolute best 600 baseball players in the world. There is no favoritism, there's no nepo babies. In sports, you just got to show up and do the best.
And, you know, if LeBron James's Kid isn't good, he won't play.
MAHER: As great a story as that is, he won't play.
ROMANO: Ohtani is changing the sport by being a double -- an athlete who can pitch and hit. I mean, that's unheard of. So --
MAHER: Well, Babe Ruth did it.
ROMANO: Yeah. That's it, right?
MAHER: So, you're saying there was a gap?
This may be an outlier opinion on this, but I think because -- I think that the way athletes, elite athletes work, it's a mental thing. You know, when nobody broke the four-minute mile and then one guy did and everybody did.
MAHER: I think that'll happen with sport with this, too. I think there will be other people who hit and pitch.
ROMANO: Well, that's what I'm saying. That's why he's going to change. That's how it's going to change.
MAHER: Oh, right, yes.
COATES: Well, I got news for you. You'll always be the outlier when you can invest in a sports team. Um --
MAHER: Absolutely. Maybe I am Richard (INAUDIBLE).
COATES: I'm a fan.
ROMANO: You're gaming. You're gaming on it.
MAHER: I know.
COATES: I'm a fan. But you know what's changing? That is the amount of the contract that explains the $25 hotdog.
MAHER: Is there really a $25 hotdog?
COATES: I mean, it's like, you get a hotdog, you get a soda --
MAHER: Oh, I know.
COATES: You might get a pretzel. The Cracker Jack toy is not even like a real toy, it's paper. I mean, it's a whole thing.
COATES: It's a whole thing now.
MAHER: No, I never understand the American economy. I don't like Taylor Swift tickets. I read somewhere that the average spent on the Taylor is $1,300. That includes like travel and merchandise. But like -- like that many people have that much money to waste? I mean, can you imagine going to --
KIRN: The thing is they don't. They don't have that much money to waste. They beg, borrow. They charge up their credit card.
MAHER: I think they get it from their parents.
KIRN: Right. Yeah. They get it from their parents and then they turn into Hunter Biden later because -- (LAUGHTER)
MAHER: Poor Hunter Biden. Laura, what do you think of Jack Smith taking Trump's immunity claim directly to the Supreme Court?
COATES: Brilliant. Why not? Why not go straight to the horse's mouth? I mean -- or nine of them? I mean, you're going to have to have a time when you know it's ending up in the Supreme Court. So why go through all the rigmarole and (INAUDIBLE) route? Just give me the answer. Is he immune or not? Do I have a case? Is there a trial in March?
MAHER: No. Ray claims he's not smart enough to do this show, but he plainly is.
Just pretend he isn't and explain the background of this.
ROMANO: Dumb it down. Dumb it down.
MAHER: No, not dumb it down. But, I mean, people may not have heard about immunity, and I'm a little fuzzy on this, too. So --
COATES: So, Jack and Jill went up a hill.
Honestly, here's what happens. Really, it's this. Remember that statement by Nixon, if the president does it, it's not illegal.
COATES: Remember that statement. Well, everything a president does is not an official presidential act. Going to the bathroom, campaigning, creating a crime. These aren't things that are in the wheelhouse of a president in the same respects.
They're trying to figure out, if it's not what your official duty is, do you get the protection of being able to say, you can't touch me, you can't prosecute me because everything I'm doing is part of the job? That's the immunity issue.
MAHER: Which of his four trials does this pertain to?
COATES: This pertains to the January 6 trial in Washington, D.C.
MAHER: So, the big one.
COATES: The big one. The federal trial about election subversion.
COATES: He's trying to claim that everything he said leading up to January 6 and really on January 6 was all part of a presidential duty, and therefore, I can't be prosecuted. You got to know the answer to that question before you go forward with the trial because if he's right and if the court sides with him, a lot of these cases at the federal level go poof, gone.
MAHER: I saw today that Trump is beating Biden by 10 points, 48 to 38. And only last month, Biden was up by four. He lost 14 points in a month. And it's a month where the economy seemed to be getting better. It seemed like inflation is getting more under control. The stock market just hit a record high. What was the 14-point loss about? It can't all be Hunter Biden. I know we love to pile on Hunter Biden.
COATES: I don't know. I feel like people talk about the feelinomics (ph), right? How I feel about something --
COATES: -- more than what the actual data is. I'm far from my, you know, home turf talking about inflation and everything else.
I know how much milk costs, I know how much gas costs, I know how I feel about both. But people are not always on board and saying, you might be telling me all the wins you have, but I don't feel like I'm winning, then I'm not winning and you won't either.
MAHER: I don't think -- (INAUDIBLE). I saw in the paper this week that somebody asked Biden if they thought he was the only one who could beat Trump, which I always thought was the whole reason why this person who -- I like Joe, but I don't think he should be the candidate, but I thought that's the whole (INAUDIBLE).
He said, yeah, I think about 50. He said he thought 50 Democrats could beat Trump. Then why are you there?
ROMANO: Who do we --
MAHER: And why did --
ROMANO: Name one. Who is the one you think that can beat --
MAHER: Well, as James Carville said, he said any centrist Democrat, like 50-ish, a lot of it is an age thing, could do it. And I kind of agree. And Gavin Newsom is going to be on our first show.
He looks like a pretty strong candidate to me. All right, we got to go. Thank you -- Oh, I'm sorry. Did you want to --
COATES: No. I was just going to say, everybody loves Ray.
ROMANO: Oh. You should run.
MAHER: We like him too much for that. Thank you, everybody. I will see you next time.
COATES: You can watch "Real Time with Bill Maher" on Friday nights on HBO at 10 p.m., and then watch "Overtime" right here on CNN, Friday nights at 11:30.
Up next, award-winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay, who brought us films like "Selma" and "When They See Us" and "A Wrinkle in Time," joins me to talk about her brand-new film, "Origin."
COATES: Coming to a theater near you, renowned filmmaker Ava DuVernay's exploration of the unspoken systems, the oppression that has shaped America and the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN (voice-over): You don't escape trauma by ignoring it.
You escape trauma by confronting him.
I don't write questions. I write answers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: "Origin" is an adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize winning authors, Isabel Wilkerson's bestselling book, "Caste," one of the many books that have been removed from some bookshelves across this country. Here's my conversation with the director and writer of "Origin," Ava DuVernay.
COATES: Ava, I am so excited to have seen this movie origin. You touched on what no one really is capturing, which is there is a through line, there is connective tissue between all of us. Talk to me about why you wanted this film to be made.
AVA DUVERNAY, WRITER, DIRECTOR: Well, in the book "Caste," Isabel Wilkerson really is threading together different secret arcs of history, right? The arc of the African-American experience from slavery through segregation to the current day, the arc of the Dalit experience, formerly known as untouchables in India, and the arc of the Jewish people and their experience during the Holocaust.
We've been taught that these are all separate things, separate times in history, separate oppressed people who really aren't connected to each other. Whether those isms are racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, antisemitism, whatever it is, it's all grounded in an idea of social hierarchy, that someone has to be better than someone else.
COATES: There's a line you talk about, about confronting trauma.
COATES: Why is that so important?
DUVERNAY: As Americans, I just don't feel like we have a fluency in discussing the tough stuff.
DUVERNAY: I mean, we just don't do it. You do it every day on your shows. But generally, we don't invest the time, the emotion, the pain. We're really good at putting it aside, calling it by whatever name it feels comfortable, putting it on a shelf, then taking it off of the shelf, banning it. You know, all of the ways in which we wrestle with history without actually looking at it, confronting it, and taking into it, looking at it closely.
That's what her book did for me. It allowed me to connect all of these different points in history, all these cultures, all of these continents, and to say, wow, there's a sameness to this, and you'll never know unless you look at it closely, and it's about time that we do that more often.
COATES: There is a scene about book burning.
COATES: Nazi Germany is a part of this. The caste system in India, the civil rights era, the Jim Crow South, so much of it is in there. But there is this moment about trying to erase the history.
COATES: So powerfully done and filmed. Why was that so important to include, especially now?
DUVERNAY: Well, there's a line in the film that is shared. It says, you know, when you burn books, you're not a long way from burning men.
DUVERNAY: And we should be able to look at everything, disagree, debate, decide. But when you take the book off the shelf, no one gets to make decision. It's decided for you. And that is tragic, and that is something that we're experiencing right now in this country.
"Caste" is the book that origin is based on, and "Caste" is a banned book in many cities and in many schools in certain states around this country. And so, I'm proud that this film is based on a bad book. And you might be able to ban the book, but you can't ban the film. And these ideas will live on.
And even if you ban the book and you ban the film and you ban everything, history tells us that the truth will rise and that justice and dignity will prevail.
COATES: So nice to talk to you and so wonderful. By the way, the cast in this, unbelievable to bring these stories to light, to do it in the way they have. You've got an extraordinary cast.
DUVERNAY: Ellis-Taylor is our leading lady. She's incredible. She kind of reminds me of you. She's --
COATES: Oh! Well, I am highly complimented. She's fabulous.
DUVERNAY: She's a phenomenal woman, and I'm very honored to sit with you today.
COATES: Wow. I am so appreciative. I cannot wait for everyone to see "Origin." Thank you so much.
DUVERNAY: Thank you.
COATES: See you soon.
DUVERNAY: Thank you.
COATES (on camera): Thank you again to Ava DuVernay for that amazing conversation. We'll be right back.
COATES: Tonight, beloved "Friends" star Matthew Perry's autopsy report has been released. The Los Angeles medical examiner says the actor died from -- quote -- "acute effects of ketamine" -- unquote -- and a subsequent drowning.
Ketamine is used to treat depression, anxiety, and is also known as a recreational drug. The report says that drowning, coronary artery disease, and the effects of a medication that treats opioid use disorder also contributed.
Perry was found unresponsive in his jacuzzi in October. He was 54 years old. A bright comedy light extinguished way too soon. Matthew Perry will always be remembered as our forever friend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT LEBLANC, ACTOR: Listen, I don't know when I'm going to see you again.
MATTHEW PERRY, ACTOR: I'm guessing tonight at the coffee house.
LEBLANC: Right. Yeah. Okay. Take care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)