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Laura Coates Live

Detroit News: Trump On Tape Pressuring Officials Not To Certify Vote; SCOTUS May Decide If Trump Is Eligible For 2024 Ballot; La La Anthony Mentors Young Men In New York City Prison; Laura Coates Interviews Michael Bonilla; Taraji P. Henson Says She May Quit Acting Because Of Pay Disparity. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired December 21, 2023 - 23:00   ET




LAURA COATES, CNN HOST AND SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, "The Detroit News" has some recordings of President Trump telling officials in Michigan not to certify the election. That's tonight on LAURA COATES LIVE.

Well, there's a huge story coming out pretty late tonight. It's about "The Detroit News," and they're reporting that it has recordings of President Trump putting a lot of pressure on two Wayne County canvassers not, not to certify the 2020 election.

Now, on that phone call back on November 17th of 2020, Trump tells the two Republicans -- quote -- "We've got to fight for our country. We can't let these people take our country away from us." Hmm. "The Detroit News" says the chairwoman of the RNC tells them -- quote -- "If you can go home tonight, do not sign it. We will get you attorneys" -- unquote, to which Trump then says -- quote -- "We'll take care of that."

Well, that's something, especially for someone who is under multiple counts of conspiracy to defraud the United States and its voters of the rightful outcome of the 2020 election.

Now, don't forget, this was a tight race in Michigan, Biden winning while by the skin of his teeth, some would say. It is the latest piece of information that we are getting of many, a fire hose worth of details about what Trump was doing to actually stay in power. And it makes you wonder, what else is out there if we're learning about this late December, 2023?

Special Counsel Jack Smith, I wonder does he have something else up his sleeve? We learn more information outside of those indictments? Because right now, Smith is fighting, and I mean fighting for the Supreme Court to decide whether Trump has presidential immunity when it comes to the charges in connection with January 6th.

He is telling the court -- quote -- "The charges here are of the utmost gravity. This case involves -- for the first time in our nation's history -- criminal charges against a former president based on his actions while in office."

Now, Trump's lawyers are trying to do the very opposite. They're asking the court not to intervene, to delay, delay, delay. But the high court is going to have to act whether it wants to wait in 2024 politics or not. It will need to decide if Trump is, in fact, immune, and a decision, we are learning, could be imminent. Here's law professor Steve Vladeck.


STEVE VLADECK, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I suspect we're going to hear from the Supreme Court one way or the other, probably by the end of the day tomorrow. And I think the real question here is whether the justices want to move even faster than the D.C. Circuit, the federal appeals court.


COATES: It's going to decide if Trump can be blocked from the Colorado ballot. It will need to decide whether a federal obstruction law can be used to prosecute people involved in January 6th attack. It's going to need to hear Trump's arguments about gag orders.

And he now wants them to weigh in on a civil suit against him for defaming E. Jean Carroll. That's unlikely, of course, but he's asking. The question is, why is he asking? Well, because a key priority for Trump in his presidency, a key focus was the judiciary, appointing judges.

He appointed more than 200 federal judges and, of course, we know three Supreme Court justices, justices that he had a habit of referring to as his -- quote, unquote -- "judges" as if maybe they're indebted to him. Just so we're clear, they are not indebted to him or as if they work for him. And to be clear, they do not work for him.

And while he has moved the federal judiciary to the right in many ways, the conservative court has not always ruled in his favor. In 2022, it rejected his attempt to keep the House January 6th Committee from getting presidential documents. Remember that?

And, of course, remember this? The court gave the go-ahead for Congress to get a hold of Trump's tax returns, and he fought tooth and nail to shield them.

Now, they have to face this firehose worth of Trump cases. It's coming in so quickly and coming in hot. Will they be his judges or will they be their own?

I want to bring in Jonathan Kinloch. He was a Democratic member of that Wayne County Board of Canvassers back in November of 2020. Jonathan, thank you so much for being here tonight. A lot of people are hearing this for the very first time, and they're stunned about not knowing it until now, but also wondering how much more is out there.

[23:05:03] What is your reaction to the details of this call? I mean, this is the president being minutely. involved in the county level to try to stay in office? What's your reaction?

JONATHAN KINLOCH, WAYNE COUNTY COMMISSIONER: Well, my reaction is, after the Republicans on the board of canvassers initially did not support certifying the election, we had a conversation or took a little break, and we had a conversation in the back room to talk about the importance of them certifying the election.

But as we were talking, they did mention that they're under a lot of pressure. And so, knowing that they were under a lot of pressure, when we reconvened, we voted to certify the election, and then we also voted to waive any reconsideration of the action that we took.

So, they knew they were going to be under a lot of pressure, but there's no way in the world would I or did I or anyone in that room know that the president of the United States would be calling into the parking lot to talk to two members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, never would have imagined it.

But when we did find out that they had spoken with the president, when I asked Monica Palmer what did he talk about, why did he call, she said to me that he just thanked them for their service. I thought that was kind of awkward.


KINLOCH: And so, you know, we just went along with the day, and next thing you know, all of this is coming out a few years later.

COATES: I mean, Jonathan, to hear someone say, we're under a lot of pressure, I -- many would just think they're talking about, hey, we're under a deadline, right? It's the -- it's an election and we have to get this done. Who would have thought they meant that the pressure was being placed on them from, as you say, a president of the United States? Did you know anything about precisely what Trump and even Ronna McDaniel had told these canvassers before this story came out tonight? Did you learn like the rest of us?

KINLOCH: Not at all. Didn't have any idea. But what they did say, they said that they were under a lot of pressure. We knew that -- I knew and understood it to mean that they were under a lot of pressure from the party. I'm thinking of the Michigan Democratic Party. Not Michigan, but Michigan Republican Party. And so, I just left it there.

And so, I never would imagine that the president, the purpose of that call was to interfere with the election. Of course, you know, he was denying the election and all that, but I did not believe that he would actually interfere at that level.

We've never had -- and that's one of the things that I mentioned to Monica Palmer and William Hartman, we've never had any interference from our party officials, Democrat or Republican, the secretary of state, governor or anyone, have we ever had to worry about them calling us and trying to weigh in on certifying an election. Understanding this, that certifying an election was not about us determining anything. It's a ministerial duty here in Michigan and there was nothing for us to decide. But for some reason, they felt that they could -- I'm talking about they being the president of the United States and Ms. Romney. They believe that they could actually stop the process from moving forward.

And that's just amazing, that with all of the people around them, that they did not understand Michigan election law, and especially Ms. Romney who family have long ties with Michigan political politics or political systems, that they would not know this.

COATES: Ronna McDaniel, Ronna McDaniel, you're talking about, of course, with the RNC, Ronna McDaniel.

KINLOCH: Absolutely.

COATES: It's interesting because for many people, they're having a little bit of a -- where have I heard this before? Somebody having a ceremonial or ministerial function to certify an election, and someone telling them they shouldn't do so. It reminds me a lot of, I don't know, Vice President Mike Pence and, of course, January 6.

But listen, now that you know this has happened and, really, we're all learning about what pressure meant to these individuals, do you want to see an investigation into all this?

KINLOCH: Absolutely. What happened here in Michigan and elsewhere around the country cannot happen again. We cannot have a single individual try to turn election norms upside on its head to the point of driving people to believe that they are told these high offices and that they somehow can unilaterally stop the people's voices from being heard.

We absolutely need to take a look at this, and I'm sure our attorney general and our secretary of state, who have been very involved in reviewing a lot of what has happened both before the 2020 general presidential election as well as afterwards. It's just, this just keeps spinning out of control.


More and more information come out about how they try to undermine our state and our nation's election processes.

COATES: Jonathan Kinloch, I really wonder what else is out there. Thank you so much for joining me tonight.

KINLOCH: Thank you for inviting me.

COATES: Now, I want to dig in to all of this with an attorney. You know him. Jeffrey Toobin. He is the author of "The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court," as well as "Homegrown: Timothy McVeigh and the Rise of Right-Wing Extremism."

Jeffrey Toobin, it's good to see you. I want to pick your brain right now about this because, honestly, the fact that we're hearing about all this, I mean, this call, another call, not just the Brad Raffensperger, find me X number of votes, not just the discussed pressure campaigns that we know of that's already documented, Fulton County allegations or in Jack Smith's case, but now a call in Michigan, it seems to be more proof of his effort to stay in power.

I got to know, do you think that Jack Smith is going to try to use this as part of his case in D.C.?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, LAWYER, AUTHOR: Well, certainly, it's suggestive and potentially important. The most important thing, though, is what was actually said on the phone call. I haven't heard the phone call yet. And, you know, everything depends on exactly what is said.

On the one hand, if then President Trump said, look, be careful, do your job, be scrupulous, don't rush, that's one thing, he has a First Amendment right to say that.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

TOOBIN: If he's saying, don't do your job, don't do what the law requires you to do, which certainly is what he appeared to say to Raffensperger in Georgia, which is certainly a very important part of the case against him in Georgia, that is potentially another criminal offense.

But, you know, what is said is very important. The good news is it appears that this is on tape. So, Jack Smith and everyone else can decide it won't be a matter of interpretation. We will know the actual facts.

COATES: And a jury is going to have to, if they look at this, figure out what -- how to weigh the credibility. But let's talk about not just a jury population or a court of public opinion, let's talk about the Supreme Court, because they're going to have to decide questions about presidential immunity and the Colorado ballot issue.

This is going to play out at a time when, for the second time in what, decades now, the Supreme Court is going to weigh in very heavily, potentially to influence who was on the ballot and what the outcome might be, much to their own chagrin. How do you see this shaking out?

TOOBIN: Well, I think it depends on the issue. I think Trump has -- some cases -- some of these cases, his position is pretty strong. Some of them, it's pretty weak. I think --

COATES: I mean, the immunity issue in particular. I want the immunity in Colorado. What do you think?

TOOBIN: Immunity is to me by far the most important case because that's really a life or death matter for Jack Smith's case in Washington about January 6th. And I think Trump's position is very weak there. I think there is an outside chance he will lose nine to nothing on that.

The idea that a president can't be prosecuted for acts that he committed while he was president, I mean, it really is as close as possible to saying the president is above the law, and that pretty much is what the -- what his lawyers are claiming in the Supreme Court.

You know, remember during the Mueller investigation, we knew about the Justice Department policy, it's just a policy, not a law, that you can't indict a sitting president while he's in office. What Trump appears to be saying is you can't indict him when he's out of office either. That can't be right. You can't have one citizen in America who can't be indicted ever for crimes he committed. So, I think there, he's very likely to lose.

COATES: How about Colorado? And, of course, that's an important one for different reasons because you wonder although Colorado is a blue state, it was not determinative when you're talking about 2016 or 2020 for Trump in particular. But this might catch some fire. It might be a bit of a blueprint for anything, lack of a better phrase.

Do you think that their reasoning was sound to say, look, even without a criminal conviction, even without a charge of insurrection against him in a criminal court, he's got to be off the ballot?

TOOBIN: I think that's a case where Trump is likely to win in the Supreme Court.


This is a very major step to say to the voters of a state, your opinion doesn't matter, that we are going to decide in advance that you do not have the right to vote for the candidate of your choice. Now, it is true that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment does have this provision which says that certain federal officers cannot serve if they engaged in insurrection. So, I mean, there is some basis, but it has never happened before in American history that a presidential ballot candidate has been taken off the ballot.

And I think one route that the Supreme Court might take in ruling for Trump here is saying, well, yes, this provision does exist, but the procedures that Colorado followed were insufficient to give Trump a chance to refute the charge against him.

He wasn't allowed to subpoena witnesses. He wasn't allowed to take depositions. That's a due process argument. And I think the court could go that direction and say, yes, in theory, he could be taken off the ballot, but given the way Colorado conducted the process, it wasn't good enough.

COATES: Well, we will see. It's only a matter of time. If you're looking to Jack Smith, it'll be sooner than later. If you're looking to Donald Trump, it will be later, never sooner. Jeffrey Toobin, nice to see you.

TOOBIN: Lastly, I mean, the timing is everything.

COATES: It is.

TOOBIN: It's great to see you too, counselor.

COATES: I know. I'll talk to you soon. Thanks for coming on.

TOOBIN: All right. Bye-bye.

COATES: Coming up, a very special story that I want to bring you. I got rare access to the troubled prison of Rikers Island in New York. Why? Well, I was there with actress La La Anthony, whose foundation is trying to help young inmates prepare for when they get out. That conversation and very special moment is next.




COATES: There's a really important story I want to tell you about tonight, and it's related to an issue that's hugely critical but often overlooked. Incarceration. This country has one of the largest prison populations in the entire world, more than 1.2 million people. And there are a lot of debates about why it's so high and what to do about it.

And tonight, I want to talk about something that goes hand in hand with that very debate. Rehabilitation. For inmates who do eventually get out when their sentences are up, re-entering society can be a real challenge.

Actress and activist La La Anthony is trying to change that. She has been running a program for the last year and a half that provides mentorship and life coaching for young men incarcerated at Rikers Island in New York City. It's a prison where more than 6,000 people are held. The troubled facility is required by law to close in 2027, and the negative headlines about it just keep coming.

A federal judge held the NYC Department of Correction in civil contempt just last week after it failed to be transparent about the opening of a new facility for people who set fires.

Now, while Rikers faces criticism on the outside, La La Anthony is doing her part to help rehabilitate people on the inside. And I went to Rikers Island with her to talk to inmates that she is working with.


COATES: Today, I'm outside of Rikers Island. It is a detention facility. We're in an area that holds young adults specifically. Now, I've never been inside before. Most people have never been inside of this building. So, I'm going to take you inside and show you a little bit about what's going on inside the facility. But also, oftentimes, we hear about Rikers Island for all the wrong reasons.

Today, I'm going to highlight a particular program that is hoping to help people who are detained inside transition out when they get out. Come with me. (Voice-over): The program is called "ThreeSixty."

LA LA ANTHONY, ACTRESS, ACTIVIST: This is my family --

COATES (voice-over): -- led by actress and activist La La Anthony. Lala It aims to provide mentorship and re-entry skills to young men behind bars.

ANTHONY: This is what makes me happy. And also seeing the changes that are happening, the beautiful things, seeing that when they do come out into society, the changed individuals they become, how they become assets to our community.

COATES (voice-over): Those men, age 18 to 21, make up almost 10% of the incarcerated population at Rikers.

I'm just really intrigued as to what made you begin to do this.

ANTHONY: You know, growing up and having different experiences with, you know, people that I cared about being incarcerated and always feeling like, what can I do? Like, I can visit maybe. I couldn't even put money on somebody's books. I just felt helpless. And I finally got in a position where I felt like, no, now I can really make a change. I can really do something.

All of our children are one bad decision away from being here, being with the wrong crowd, being led the wrong way. Any of them could be here. And I would hope that there would be someone that would treat my own child with the same love and compassion that I treat these young men with.

COATES: How important is that? When you have that space?

DARRIUS LEWIS, RIKERS ISLAND INMATE PARTICIPATING IN "THREESIXTY" PROGRAM: Everybody needs something like that. It's like a safety room for real. When you could be honest, open, and be you.

COATES (voice-over): Young men like Darius Lewis. He has been in Rikers since June and is charged with first-degree robbery. Lewis says the "ThreeSixty" Program has helped him change the way he sees himself and his future.

LEWIS: It's not just because I'm in jail, because even when I first got here, I was ready to just lash out and just act like another inmate. But it was a program that really showed me like I don't have to be what everybody is expecting. Everybody is expecting bad out of me. Everybody is expecting me to be ruthless. But I don't go to be that guy.

ANTHONY: Raise your hand if you felt like, at some point in your life, that you were going to end up in jail.


I tell them this is a chapter in your life. This is not your entire life. And what you do with this chapter will determine the rest of your life. So, use this time wisely to become a better person, to make change and never make excuses for them.

I tell them that they have to have accountability. They have to own up to whatever it is they did and they have to pay whatever price it is for what they did. But during that understanding, having compassion for others.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): And we're honored to have you with us today.

COATES (voice-over): On this day, La La led a discussion group where participants examined life circumstances that led them to Rikers.

UNKNOWN: We come down here, we express what we're going through, I mean, whether it's good or bad, and we make the best out of bad situations.

COATES: Were you surprised that there was the buy-in from Rikers to do a program like this?

ANTHONY: Prior to this, you just only hear the negative. You only hear the negative. And it took me really being here to see so many people that care so much about the population here, care so much about wanting these young men to change and do better with their lives.

COATES: For a lot of people, they know Rikers for notorious reasons.

ANTHONY: It is difficult. I know what I'm capable of doing. I'm glad that the kids in my program have me as a resource to talk to when dealing with mental health or dealing with struggles.

This is jail. This is jail. There's nothing great about being in jail. And they need outlets to express their frustration and their emotions. I can't change the world. I can't change every single person. I can't change every bad thing that has ever happened. I can only do my part.

COATES (voice-over): Looking to bring solutions to a place better known for its history of problems. A monitor appointed by a federal judge highlighted safety concerns at the complex back in October, writing in a report that -- quote -- "High levels of violence and fear among people in custody and staff remain a fact of daily living."

And just last week, the Department of Correction was held in civil contempt for failing to tell the monitor about the opening of a restrictive housing unit for inmates accused of setting fires. In response, the department's new commissioner said, "While the court found us in contempt, there is an opportunity to purge, and we remain committed to ensuring people are safe and secure in our facilities."

I spoke to the commissioner during my visit to Rikers.

How are you trying to guard against or to inform the public when there are moments when the department does not live up to standards that you want it to live up to?

LYNELLE MAGINLEY-LIDDIE, NYC DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION COMMISSIONER: You know, I recently named commissioner here. One of the things I really pride myself on is transparency. And I think that if there's something that, you know, doesn't fall in line with what we should be doing, we're going to be very transparent about that.

ANTHONY: Everybody, come down. Come down.

COATES (voice-over): It's not just about putting in the work, but also celebrating the progress they've made so far.

ANTHONY: You're slowly opening up. It's taking a while, but you're slowly starting to trust me.

COATES (voice-over): Gathering for a special holiday meal --

UNKNOWN (voice-over): How are you feeling about the food? How are you feeling about the food?

COATES (voice-over): -- brought in from the outside.

UNKNOWN: Thank you for blessing us with this meal. Thank you for blessing us with La La and everybody that came through, and just coming together as a family and showing us that family is here.

MAGINLEY-LIDDIE: I think a lot of times, people don't realize all the good work that's being done here. From this program, we've seen a lot of people transformed. They're excited about the future. They are eager to go to school. They're eager to get a job. They're just eager to just do better. I want them to be in a mindset to understand that there is a future. And so, you have to plan for that.

COATES (voice-over): Lewis is already looking towards that future.

LEWIS: Before this program, I didn't know what was in store for me in life. I never could see myself doing anything.

COATES: You really couldn't.

LEWIS: I see myself doing nothing at all.

COATES: Do you feel like the community that you left and the family that is waiting for you can relate to you as you are now?

LEWIS: They're going to be surprised.

COATES: Really?

LEWIS: Yeah. They're definitely going to be surprised because I'm definitely not leaving it the same way I came. Definitely not at all.


COATES (on camera): Well, you know what? I did not leave there the way I entered in either. You know, I was a prosecutor for years. I've written about it extensively. I've shared a lot about the experience with you here on CNN and beyond. And what struck me about this program that La La has and the young men who are a part of it was that for many, that feeling of community, that feeling of hope, that feeling of wanting to be treated the way they saw themselves, was so impactful.

It's many of the stories we don't hear. But we hear about wrongfully detained people, and that's important to talk about.


We have to cover those stories as well. But know that every time we talk about crime in this country, soft on crime, hard on crime, it doesn't end when a sentence actually is handed down. That in many respects at the very beginning of a much longer process to guard against a number of things, including recidivism, and to maybe not just pursue justice in a courtroom, but catch it outside as well.

You know, about 30 people have been through La La Anthony's program. And now, Michael Bonilla is a student at Columbia University. Look at that smile. He's going to join us next. Oh, he's covering it now. Don't cover it. Come back.


COATES: Before the break, you heard about the incredible work being done by La La Anthony's "ThreeSixty" program at Rikers Island. Well, now, I want to introduce you to one of the graduates. His name is Michael Bonilla, but his friends call him "Rondo."


COATES: He spent 15 -- hi. He spent 15 and a half months at Rikers Island. And today, he is a student at Columbia University. And Rondo joins me now. Rondo, I'm so happy that you are here and talking about your story and your triumphs, really.


But take us, Rondo, to the beginning of your story. How did you land in Rikers in the first place?

BONILLA: Yeah. So, I got arrested at the early age of 19, you know, fresh. I just turned 19, you know. I was -- I got -- I've been arrested before. I was already out on bail. I was around the wrong people, wrong decisions, the way I grew up, you know. I just felt like that was the way that I had to live because that's the only thing that I knew. So that led me to being incarcerated in October of 2021. I served 15 and a half months.

And before I found the program, it was -- I had to do things. I had to see things that I wasn't proud of. But in order to survive in that type of environment, you got to do things you ain't proud of.

COATES: People should know that the program is not universal. Everyone is not a part of it, Rikers.


COATES: It's not even like you get (INAUDIBLE). Something coming about you has to be a part of this program, and you were a part of it. Talk to me about some of what you experienced before that program because most people know Rikers as a notoriously dangerous place. I mean, just this year, the New York City Council has at least three people died in one of the eight prisons that are on Rikers Island, one of the eight detention centers on Rikers Island.

A staff attorney from Legal Aid Society recently said this. "There's a disregard for the health and wellbeing of the people living at Rikers Island." Can you just explain to us what your everyday life was like in the jail before you were introduced to "ThreeSixty" and La La Anthony's program?

BONILLA: Of course. Before I got introduced to them, you know, before I got introduced to Pastor Tim, it was very difficult. I had to fight. You had to be tough. They only respect violence. Even if you tried to -- you know, you can even try to mind your business. You can be the guy in the room where you could just be trying to read your book. You know, just trying to do your time and go home.

A lot of people end up going in there, you know, for robbery and things like that. They end up leaving with four plus jail cases, you know, with slashings and things like that. And a lot of people don't know that. Those are consecutive. So, people think that they get over on these types of things. You know, you end up being a case, so you take your time for a case, and here you go 12 years for jail cases.

So, it was very hard, you know. I'm not going to say that it was easy. But I did what I had to do to survive. I did things that I'm not proud of, but I'm just thankful that I was able to get something so positive out of an environment like that. I mean, to be able to talk to you guys about my experience there, you know, coming from Rikers, it's a blessing, you know? So, I'm blessed.

COATES: Well, tell me about what the program held for you, because I know, I sat in on some of the big conversations, some deep conversations that were happening.

There were questions being asked for people to really reflect therapeutically on their self-awareness, talk about anger management, talk about ways to learn forgiveness, ways to extend grace, way to do it to yourself as well, ways to think about how best to establish the coping mechanisms that you need in order to be successful and thrive in your own right. What parts of the program did you feel changed you the most?

BONILLA: Well, I want to say the way La La was able to talk to us. She didn't label us. You know, she didn't see us as, you know, the image that people portray on people who go to jail.

You know, she -- the first time she ever came to record, she came with her mom. So that instantly -- that gravitated something with me because who's coming in that type of environment to see a bunch of, you know, young juvenile kids or whatever with these crazy cases with their mom.

So, when I first seen that, I was like, all right, she obviously here for a good cause and I wanted to know why. Because at the time, you know, I didn't know who La La Anthony was. But honestly, like honestly, really speaking, the program, it was -- it was very -- it was very -- it was fun because a lot of us, as males, you have to put up this guard. You have to be tough. You know, you have to carry on this weight as males. And a lot of us, we carry on these weights since we were kids. And a lot of us don't realize how that plays effect into the sentence we make as we get older.

So, La La was kind of like -- she was very down to earth with us. And a lot of us wasn't expecting that. She's a celebrity. She has been on TV. We weren't expecting her to be so -- treat us like she knew us our whole life. I think that was one of the main things that really gravitated with us.

And also teaching us things like how to present ourselves at court. A lot of us thought that just going to court is a regular thing. She was telling us about how to sit up. Make sure you say good morning. You know, things like that. Make sure you come in, you're presenting yourself. Make sure you sleep early. She was telling us things like that. And a lot of people, they wouldn't even care twice to tell you things like that. And she was there for every court day.


BONILLA: Every court day. Her and Britt (ph). I love them. They were there every court day. I turned around, they were there. I came home, they were there. Bronx Supreme Court, in public, they were there. They were there the whole time.

COATES: You know, Rondo, what you described, I saw. And just the way that the love was evident and the compassion and empathy, I mean, she's a mother, I think, of a 16-year-old son.

BONILLA: Oh, my gosh.


COATES: I have an 11-year-old boy, and I think to myself, all of you, frankly, of being my children and my sons. I won't ask you. I won't tell you my actual age because you really could be my son. Thank you very much.

But listen, Rondo, you have such a very bright future ahead of you. You are at Columbia University. I think you have a full ride, I hear. You are an exceptional student there as well.

BONILLA: Yeah. So, you know --

COATES: What are you doing?

BONILLA: Yeah. So, a little bit about the Columbia thing. So, I got accepted to a program that Columbia offers for recently incarcerated people. You have to submit an application that is a little complicated. I submitted my application. I had a Zoom with the lady, and she told me that they granted it.

So, the upcoming, I think, I best believe January or February, I will be going there participating in the GIA program, and then after that, I will be a full student at Columbia where I'll be able to take, I believe, three courses at a time.

So, you know, just being able to walk that building is absolutely crazy. I mean, there are people that -- I mean, I did horrible in high school, okay? There are people who did absolutely wonderful and still didn't get accepted to that school. So, just being able to walk the hallways, it's just a blessing to me, especially where I come from. I'm beyond thankful.

COATES: Well, I'm thankful that you and I got a chance to talk right now, and I really, Rondo, I wish you the best of luck.

BONILLA: Thank you.

COATES: I really do.

BONILLA: I really appreciate it. I really do appreciate it.

COATES: If the smile is any indication of the intellect, you've got a very bright mind, my friend.



BONILLA: Thank you.

COATES: We'll get to talk. Why are you covering it up, Rondo? I told you.

BONILLA: My fault. I know you told me about that.

COATES: Thank you. Show the teeth.

BONILLA: You told me about that. I'm sorry.


COATES: All right, Rondo, you take care. We'll talk again, okay?

BONILLA: You as well. Thank you.

COATES: Bye. Man, well, next, actress Taraji P. Henson giving Hollywood a message over pay disparity. We'll share.


TARAJI P. HENSON, ACTRESS: I hear people go, you work a lot. I have to. The math ain't mathing.




COATES: Look, Taraji P. Henson is tired of being underpaid. During a Sirius XM interview, Gail King asked the movie star, an extraordinary actress and artist, if the rumors about her thinking of quitting acting were actually true. And she broke down in tears, and she said this.


HENSON: I'm just tired of working so hard, being gracious at what I do, getting paid a fraction of the cost.


HENSON: I'm tired of hearing my sister say the same thing over and over. You get tired. I hear people go, you work a lot. I have to. The math ain't mathing. It seems every time I do something and I break another glass ceiling, when it's time to renegotiate, I'm at the bottom again like I never did what I just did, and I'm just tired.


COATES: If I could just give her any amount of energy to have her keep going, she is so talented. The star of "The Color Purple" admitted she almost didn't accept her role due to a pay disparity. Can you imagine that?

Now, while she didn't share details about the specifics of discrepancy in her offer, she said that she hadn't received a raise since she starred in the 2018 film "Proud Mary." She said that as a Black woman in Hollywood, she finds herself negotiating just to watch and match what she made on a previous project.

I want to bring in CNN contributor Cari Champion. Cari, this was such an emotional moment, and I think across industries, frankly, so many of us, Black women in particular, saw ourselves in that moment and nodded in affirmation and realization. Tell me about why that clip has triggered so many women of color.

CARI CHAMPION, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, and I can speak truly for myself. I understood that word "tired." That word "tired" meant not seen, not heard, the fight to be seen, the fight to be heard, underpaid, underappreciated, name all the unders. And that word "tired" represents so much.

Visually, I could see her exhaustion. I could see how tired she was from the fight and the struggle to pull out her resume and say, I'm also great.

It is something I deal with. I'm sure, Laura, it's something that you deal with. And as you mentioned at the top of this, it's so many people across our industries. It is a real thing. It's not in our minds. We're all tired.

COATES: It's true when you see not just -- again, she's obviously in one particular field, but you can extrapolate even beyond and just see the exhaustion for so many. We talk about equal payday when it takes that amount of time for women of color to catch up to white women, let alone them to catch up to men as well. And you really do see this.

And even in the accolades, I mean, sometimes that's a form of currency that gets you to the next level. That praise is not always heaped upon women of color. And I would note Halle Berry was the first and the last woman to win, Black woman to win an Oscar. And that was back in 2002 for Monster's Ball. And that all ties in how we're praised with how we're paid.

CHAMPION: Yeah, you're absolutely accurate about that. And she was -- that was the very first time a Black woman won a leading actress role and as far as an Oscar is concerned. And that is the highest of the height, right? If you're in Hollywood.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

CHAMPION: But I'm sure she'll tell you, she's not getting picked like the highest of the height. And so, there is this sense that in this, and I'll say with this industry in particular, as Taraji mentioned, every time she breaks one glass ceiling, she still has to prove who she is to get the same amount of pay.

You mentioned Black Women's Equal Payday. According to Forbes, 67 cents on the white male counterpart dollar. I couldn't imagine what these actresses in Hollywood are getting paid as opposed to their counterpart.

And there's nothing that actually can be done about it because unless you have like an ally, and I'll use this quick example, Laura, in the movie "The Help," I don't know if you remember it, Jessica Chastain said that she wanted to make sure Octavia Spencer was paid the same amount of money that she was paid.


And I remember when they were doing this press tour, and Octavia Spencer says, I've never been paid this amount of money in my entire life, I was paid five times my rate because Jessica said so. So, we need more allies and not performative allies. We need people who don't look like us to ride for us.

COATES: It's an unbelievable thing to think about. And, of course, you hear it a lot about in the sports industry as well, and how this is in so many different spaces. I wonder, Carrie Champion, if at some point, somebody will catch on, that it is existing, it's not anecdotal, and it's systematic.

Thank you so much for joining us today.

CHAMPION: Thank you.

COATES: We'll be right back.



COATES: Well, Ryan Gosling is bringing the Kenergy this Christmas. The "Barbie" star released a Christmas version of the movie hit, "I'm Just Ken," as part of his very own EP, and it's just in time for the holidays.



RYAN GOSLING, ACTOR: Merry Christmas, Barbie, wherever you are.


COATES: Well, the new tune also features a music video of Gosling and company laying the track down in the studio as you see bedazzled with Christmas lights.

In a festive mood, well, Gosling isn't the only celebrity dropping a Christmas hit this season. Travis Kelce made his singing debut with his brother Jason on "Fairytale of Philadelphia." And within hours, the tune made its way up to the number one song on iTunes. Hmm, I wonder if there's a connection.

Thanks for watching. Our coverage continues.