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Laura Coates Live

Trump Appeals Maine Decision Barring Him From Ballot; Poll: Over A Third Of Americans Believe Biden Won Illegitimately; Biden Reacts On Border Crisis; Embattled Harvard President Resigns; About 379 People Escaped A Burning Plane In 90 Seconds; Naomi Osaka Comes Back To Tennis. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired January 02, 2024 - 23:00   ET




ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Tonight, new pictures of the aftermath of the deadly plane collision at a Tokyo airport. Now, keep in mind, the plane was carrying hundreds of passengers and would eventually burst into flames after colliding with another plane. Japan Airlines says its crews received clearance to land by air traffic control and the collision killed five people. Incredibly, only one person on that Japan Airlines plane suffered bruises.

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

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Abby, I cannot believe those pictures.

PHILLIP: Yeah, wild.

COATES: It takes -- I mean, unbelievable. Ninety seconds. We're going to cover it on the show about --


COATES: -- just how small window. But I was on a plane yesterday. Road 27. Took 15 minutes to get off the plane.

PHILLIP: I guess we should remind people, it's -- air travel is safe. but that's a scary accident. It really is safe.

COATES: I feel like you could have been a little more convincing just to add on that.

PHILLIP: It is very safe.


Just that one was scary. Have a good show.

COATES: You know what? It was. You, too. Thank you. Happy new year.

PHILLIP: Happy new year. COATES: Well, we've got 307 days to go until election day. Can you believe it? And the ballot battle is blowing up. Tonight on "Laura Coates Live."

Well, fasten your seat belts, everyone. Buckle up, as they say. This is going to be an election like we've never seen in our history. And I know we say that a lot about this all being the wild, wild west and brand new, but we are barreling down the road toward a collision between politics and the courts.

Donald Trump, in what may be the least surprising development ever, today asking a main court to overturn secretary of state's decision to remove him from the ballot there, the primary ballot that is, because of his role in the insurrection at the United States Capitol, the seat of our democracy on January 6.

Now, the former president calling Shenna Bellows, who is secretary of state in Maine -- quote -- "A biased decisionmaker who should have recused herself, had no legal authority, made multiple errors of law, and acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner" -- unquote.

Look, you know where this is headed, right? It is headed to the Supreme Court of the United States. And Bellows is telling CNN this very point tonight.


SHENNA BELLOWS, SECRETARY OF STATE OF MAINE: We would welcome the U.S. Supreme Court making a ruling. I will uphold whatever the courts determine. And acting quickly to resolve this, I think, is in the best interest.


COATES: That sounds like Maine for bring it on. Well, Donald Trump is facing 14th Amendment challenges in other states besides Maine, including Colorado, remember that, when the state Supreme Court ordered his name to be removed from the primary ballot there which, of course, made Trump all but certain to appeal it. And, of course, where will he appeal it? Wait for it. The Supreme Court. Notice the theme that's happening here tonight. Of course, it's unclear when that will actually happen.

But let's not forget about the big picture here. Donald Trump is facing 91, 91 felony counts. Any one of them could lead him potentially to land behind bars. There are also the civil cases, two of them. Legal woes that most people couldn't even fathom having, and normally in a normal time, most political opponents would be salivating at the thought of bringing them up over and over again. Not so much happening here.

But there is a "Washington Post" poll that is new and it finds that fewer than half of Americans think that his actions related to January 6 actually disqualify him from the presidency. So, the big question now is what will the courts do about that and, of course, on what schedule. When will they make decision to either take him up or issue a ruling.

Let's dig into all of it now with former federal prosecutor Gene Rossi and also political analyst for CNN and "PBS NewsHour" White House correspondent Laura Barron-Lopez. So glad to have both of you here in the new year.

New year, same lawsuits, who? Well, it's Donald Trump. And you know the Supreme Court is likely to take up or maybe we'll have to address these issues. This is pretty big when it comes to Maine. No one maybe saw it coming. We knew Colorado. But Maine in particular, he is attacking that secretary of state, saying that she is totally biased, that -- that this is going, obviously, to the main Supreme Court next. But how will this all shape out in your mind, Gene?

GENE ROSSI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I think you have three camps. One is the Michael Luttig, one of the most conservative jurists in the country in the Federal Society, and other jurists that support him, Professor Tribe. On the other hand, you have an argument that this is a political question that should be cited by Congress under the 14th Amendment.

COATES: The question meaning --

ROSSI: Whether --

COATES: -- should the 14th Amendment exclude a president?

ROSSI: Absolutely.

COATES: Got it.

ROSSI: Absolutely. And whether he is an officer.


And in the middle, you're probably going to have the Supreme Court of the United States. And I talked to one of your producers. This is a hot potato. They don't want to go near but they have to because each justice knows that this opinion that they sign on to, and it will have to be decided by the Supreme Court, could be in the category of Brown versus Board of Education, Plessy versus Ferguson. This could be an opinion that will haunt the Supreme Court for the rest of its existence.


ROSSI: So, here's my punchline on what's going to happen. You're going to have a bunch of states that are going to filter up to the Supreme Court challenging the primary ballot but also the general election ballot. This is important. He's on a primary ballot and he's going to be kicked off in some states.

But then you have the general election ballot. Will the secretary of state in all those states kick him off the general election ballot? And that's why the Supreme Court by June has to decide this issue because democracy is at stake. COATES: I mean, the funny thing is, though, deciding it by June isn't like giving a lot of people a whole lot of time. What if by June, they were to decide, no, he couldn't be on the ballot? He has already been on an RNC nomination. He may very well have secured that by then.

Then -- I mean, look at this timeline, first of all, Laura. I want you to comment on this. You've got December 28th, right, where you've got the main A.G. ruling that Trump is ineligible. You've got January 2nd today, Trump appeals. The Superior Court in Maine has got to rule by January 17th. Then the Maine Supreme Court gets it, and then possibly to SCOTUS, and then you've got the primary on March 5th. This is not a window for lollygagging, as my mom would say.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No, it's not. And, I mean, look, the Supreme Court could very well decide even before June. They could decide to weigh in here faster. And I think that the Maine's decision, the secretary of state's decision, could add some urgency to that because it's not just Colorado anymore. It's Maine.

There could very well be other states, as Gene said, that start jumping in here and deciding that Trump should not be on the primary ballot. And that adds more pressure to them to move much more quickly because, yes, I think that you're going to hear a lot from angry primary voters, Republican primary voters, if down the line, all of a sudden, the Supreme Court were to suddenly decide, and I'm not saying that they necessarily would, but we're to suddenly decide that he's not valid anymore, that he is disqualified from this.

I do agree that they -- this is a difficult situation for the Supreme Court. They have potentially won out in that they could say this is a congressional issue, we're not going to actually weigh in on whether or not he's disqualified, weigh in on the question of whether or not it was an insurrection, but that it's not a self-executing clause and, therefore, we need to hear from Congress about how exactly this process would play out.

COATES: You know, that phrase, self-executing. I want to hone in a little bit more --


COATES: -- because you keep hearing it a lot, people saying it. And one of the issues, of course, is whether the founding fathers intended for this clause to apply to a president when they were very explicit about impeachment in the Constitution, right?

The other aspect of it, though, is self-executing, as Laura has pointed out, whether it's enough to say without a criminal conviction that you can be thrown off of a ballot for these issues.

When you look at this, what do you see as the main issue on that tough execution point?

ROSSI: I think there's a Supreme Court case or dicta by Justice Chase that said this amendment needs self-executing legislation. That's the only area or only notation in a case that says you have to have that. I would go -- I would go a little different direction. I think the 14th Amendment is so clear. Section 3 and the legislative history is so clear, especially in the Senate which approved the amendment that we don't need self-executing legislation. This is clear as a bell. You don't need convictions.

And the other thing is the president of the United States is an officer under the 14th Amendment. I think that's crystal clear. That's the position that Michael Luttig takes and the Federal Society takes, and I think it's a good one.

COATES: Well, one argument, of course, in America, we've got more than one politician who's facing some criminal charges, including not just the president, you mentioned the Senate, Senator Bob Menendez also has some new charges out right now. This was a different country, Laura.

When you look at this and, of course, you've got this tension politically between Democrats and Republicans who are constantly fighting for the moral high ground in the public eye, when you look at what's happening there, what are voters going to possibly be seeing?

BARRON-LOPEZ: With Bob Menendez?

COATES: Uh-hmm.

BARRON-LOPEZ: I mean, Democrats have largely abandoned Senator Menendez and other Democrats have already jumped in to run for his seat. Now, he's not necessarily saying that he's not going to run for reelection, which is a thorn in Democrat side. But --

COATES: He's not stepping down, though, either.

BARRON-LOPEZ: He's not stepping down either. And -- but he doesn't have any friends right now in the U.S. Senate, especially amongst Democrats. A lot of them have largely said that they are not standing by him in this instance. Many have called for him to resign. Many have called on him to not run for reelection.


So, that is the difference here, is that you are seeing a very clear dividing line from Democrats saying that they don't support him, that they think that this indictment and now this superseding indictment are very clear. Whereas Republicans, including the candidates that are going to be in the CNN town hall in debates, Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis, have said that they would pardon Trump if he were convicted.

COATES: You also don't have everyone calling for somebody who has been indicted even through superseding indictment to step down. That's not universally held among Republicans when it comes to Trump. Thank you both so much.

ROSSI: Thank you. Happy new year.

COATES: Happy new year. By the way, Menendez lawyers are disputing all of this, saying the prosecutors will go to -- we're going to poison the public before a trial even begins. So, we'll follow this story along. Gene Rossi, Laura Barron-Lopez, thank you so much.

You know, a big question that we've all -- I want to bring in CNN senior political writer and analyst Harry Enten for more on what the ballot challenges could actually mean to 2024 when it comes to Donald Trump.

Harry, listen, you talked about this issue. We talked about Colorado. Now, Maine is in play. But the thing about Maine is it could actually be an even bigger problem for Trump than being off the ballot in Colorado. Tell me, where does he actually need to stay on the ballot to win?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Yeah, I mean, look, Laura, last week or a few weeks ago, we spoke about Colorado, and I mentioned, I didn't really care, I didn't really care. Right? Colorado is not a competitive state in general elections and presidential politics. Barack Obama won it twice. Hillary Clinton won it easily. Joe Biden won it easily.

Maine is a different matter altogether because keep in mind, even though Trump lost the state both in 2020 and 2016, he only lost it by three points back in 2016. So, it can be a competitive state.

But more than that, Maine, along with Nebraska, is one of the two states in the nation that actually awards an electoral vote to the winner of each congressional district in the state. And keep in mind, Trump actually won an electoral vote back in Maine in 2020 and 2016 because he carried, in fact, the second district.

But, of course, the answer to your big question, where does Trump need to stay on the ballot come 2024? And I want you to take a look here. Pending litigation removed Trump from the ballot because they want to use Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. These are states that Trump either lost by less than five points or actually won in 2020.

Look at these states. Alaska, Louisiana, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. All of these states, the ones I'm really keeping an eye out on are Texas because it has so many electoral votes, right? Nevada, which is a very close state in presidential politics, Trump barely lost it back in 2020 and 2016, and North Carolina as well, a state that, of course, is also quite competitive in presidential politics, a state that Trump barely won last time around, Laura.

COATES: But Wisconsin, if I'm not mistaken, is a huge swing state when it comes to elections these days. Right?

ENTEN: Absolutely. That is the one other state that I should have pointed out here. If you look at Wisconsin, Wisconsin, of course, is a state that Trump barely won in 2016, and then, of course, barely lost in 2020. So that would be the fourth state that I'd be looking at.

COATES: You know, it's crazy, Harry, because you look at these eight states and, first of all, they're all over the country, there's no particular region, but the fact that these eight states have the pending litigation and things could add up, one reason you didn't really care -- quote, unquote -- I know you do care, Harry, but you didn't care as much about Colorado is because of the isolated incident of having one removal from a ballot.

But now, if the plot thickens and more states pick up on this, this could be a real issue for the Supreme Court. But does it answer the question for so many people about the legitimacy? Because that was part of what, obviously, he has said about in his platform, that he was a legitimate victor when it came to 2020. What does this all mean in terms of how people view the last election, let alone the one going to come soon?

ENTEN: Yeah, I mean, look, if you were to look here, this to me was a very interesting question that was asked by the "Washington Post," believe Biden's 2020 win was illegitimate. Take a look at the overall number and take a look at the GOP number. If you look in 2021, it was 29% of overall Americans who believed it was illegitimate.

Look where that number is now. It's actually gone up to 36%. And among Republicans, look at this rise. It's 58% back in 2021, a majority. Now, it's an even large majority, 67%, which I think gets --

COATES: Do we know why, though? I mean, do we know why that is? It's shocking that it would go up with all the different counts, all the different legal woes, all of the -- quote, unquote -- "political baggage." The fact that it has gone up, do we have any reason to know why it did?

ENTEN: I will give you one reason why it would, and it might come down to this question. Trump's actions related to the January 6th Capitol attack. This is a poll question I've been looking at, and I think it's really interesting because although the plurality of Americans believe that this disqualifies him from the presidency, look at this, there's 33% who say these actions aren't relevant to him being president at all.

And this key block of voters that I'm really going to be keeping an eye out on, these are these swing voters that you're talking about.


Why these numbers may be moving? The 17% who say that his actions cast doubt but are not disqualifying, this is the group I'm looking at going into 2024. How does this group move on these different questions? If you know that, Laura, you probably know whether or not Joe Biden is re-elected come November 2024.

COATES: If I knew that, I'd know the Powerball numbers, too, Harry. I do not. But I do know these numbers are fascinating for a variety of reasons, especially the other category that's not relevant in being president. We're talking about the traditions of power. That's just an odd conclusion to draw, I think, for so many people looking at this very aspect of it.

Fascinating, my friend. As always. And great job with all the lines and circles. Very impressive, Harry Enten.

ENTEN: Ms. Tallarico (ph) --

COATES: How about some stars, some hearts, some arrows? Nothing. Just lines and circles, huh?

ENTEN: You know, Ms. Tallarico (ph) --

COATES: Oh, there we go.

ENTEN: -- Ms. Tallarico (ph), my second grade or my first-grade art teacher, would be quite impressed that I could do any sort of lines.

COATES: I'm impressed. Thank you, Ms. Tallarico (ph). Thank you, Harry Enten.


COATES: Well, now, I want to bring in voting data analyst Ken Block. He's the author of "Disproven: My Unbiased Search for Voter Fraud for the Trump Campaign, the Data that Shows Why He Lost, and How We Can Improve Our Elections," which comes out on March 12th. That's a heck of a title and very informative. Ken, thank you so much for joining us today. I see the cover art behind you as well.

You know, it's so fascinating because you heard that polling, you hear that some Americans, many in fact, still believe that this was somehow rigged. We know it's not. But don't take my word for it. You actually have done the research. Your role was, in fact, to determine whether it was a fair and free election. Remind people what you found.

KEN BLOCK, EXPERT HIRED BY TRUMP CAMPAIGN IN 2020 TO FIND VOTER FRAUD: Sure. Well, we didn't find very much. I was hired by the Trump campaign literally the day after the 2020 election by the group of lawyers who were formally attached to the campaign, not the Rudy Giuliani's, not the Sidney Powell's. These were lawyers who were serious about their work, who wanted to do due diligence.

And they hired me to look for voter fraud, to see if we could find voter fraud sufficient, to mount a legal challenge that would survive legal scrutiny.

And while I was doing that work, they began to trust me more and more, and they asked me to begin evaluating claims of voter fraud that others brought to their attention. I looked at about 15 different claims, every one of which we were able to determine and prove very clearly were false.

COATES: And yet this rhetoric persists, the narrative persists. I mean, you have a message to people who are looking at this issue as a matter of fraud. You have actually outlined reasons why you think Trump legitimately lost the election. What are they?

BLOCK: So, I'm going to leave the particulars of what the data proves till we get a little bit closer to the book release. But there is a --

COATES: Good for you.

BLOCK: -- national data -- comprehensive national --

COATES: Your publisher is very, very proud of you right now. Your publisher is very happy with you right now. I, on the other hand, want the answer to some parts of it, as to why you think generally he lost

BLOCK: Uh, so, I'm a two-time candidate for governor. I understand messaging and elections are about having a message that appeals to a broad enough coalition of voters so that you win a plurality of votes.


BLOCK: Uh, and Trump's messaging, quite frankly, uh, is becoming more and more narrow. It's becoming more extreme. Uh, and I believe he's losing the support of key blocks of voters and there's data that actually proves that.

COATES: You know, when you think about the data as opposed to the narrative that's out there, there is a striking contrast. I'm wondering, I know you have already been -- I think you've been subpoenaed. Your findings have been subpoenaed in the past. Are you aware that you might be likely to be called to actually testify? Have you been told that in any of the trials that revolve around this core set of facts?

BLOCK: So, I have been subpoenaed by Jack Smith's legal action in D.C. I've been subpoenaed by Fani Willis's legal action in Fulton County, Georgia. I'm a fact witness in both of those legal actions. All of my communications to the Trump campaign, I had to turn over to the investigators at the time, so this is before charges were formally brought.

I remain a fact witness. I haven't heard from either set of prosecutions since all of my materials went over there. But I've got to believe it's not a small chance that I get called to testify if we ever get to trial in either of those two actions.

COATES: You know, I'm looking -- again, your book is called "Disproven." It's coming out just in a few months. I can't help but wonder how much a prosecutor or any member of those legal teams are trying to pour over and comb over what you have in that book, but also who knew what, when.


Mark Meadows, for example, or other parties -- you've mentioned Giuliani. You mentioned Sidney Powell and others. Did you ever convey this information and what you are telling us today and what's contained in your book to these key players or to Donald Trump himself?

BLOCK: Yes. So, my -- I reported to a Trump campaign lawyer who accepted everything I had told him as the truth. Uh, other members above him within the campaign apparatus accepted what I told them is the truth. That truth was communicated to Mark Meadows. In fact, the lawyer I reported to, it was shown on one of the January 6 Committee broadcasts, one-minute video clip where he described taking my findings to Mark Meadows who was told there was no fraud sufficient to change the course of any -- of the elections in the swing states. And Mark Meadows's response to that was that means there's no there, referring to the claims of voter fraud.

And then Mark Meadows, it came out in the last month or two, back in April or May, told Jack Smith that he had taken those findings and the end result to the Oval Office. So, my findings went all the way up and made it into the Oval Office.

COATES: Well, no wonder you're a fact witness and people can't wait to read your book. It's called "Disproven." And, by the way, Mark Meadows has asked the court in Georgia to reconsider his request to go to the federal court as opposed to remaining in Fulton County. So, sounds like there's a lot of room for discussions on these issues. We'll look forward to reading your book. Thanks for joining us today, Ken.

BLOCK: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

COATES: Again, it's called "Disproven."

Well, President Joe Biden speaking about the migrant surge at the border tonight. I'm going to tell you what he said next.



COATES: Well, tonight, President Biden saying, show me the money.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We got to do something. They ought to give me the money I need to protect the border.


COATES: Well, the president wants Republicans in Congress to give him more money to address the border crisis. Border crossings hit a record high in December, with authorities encountering more than 225,000 migrants. That's the highest monthly total since the year 2000, that according to Homeland Security.

Well, this is Jersey City, about five miles away from Manhattan where a bus unloaded migrants. And the migrants wound up there after New York City Mayor Eric Adams ordered bus companies to give the city manifests of their passengers and their drop-off times and locations at least 32 hours before they arrive.

But buses are using transit points in New Jersey to avoid these new rules as migrants take the train to Penn Station, of course, the busiest train station in the entire country. Joining me now, Reed Gusciora, who is the mayor of Trenton, New Jersey. Mayor, thank you so much for joining us. Look, Mayor Adams issued that order last week, and it appeared that the bus company now, they are trying to do a workaround, dropping off people in Jersey. What are you seeing in Trenton? How many people have arrived?

MAYOR REED GUSCIORA, TRENTON, NEW JERSEY: Well, I got a call on Saturday morning that four buses had arrived at the Trenton Transit Center, 163 asylum seekers, ages from two years old to 55. And while the majority got on trains bound for New York, 21 remained in Trenton because they said they had family members that would take them in.

COATES: So, what happened when they arrived? I mean, when that happens, if they did not have those family members to take them in, as you say, in Trenton, would the city be providing help? Would they go to local shelters? Is there some protocol or plan in place? Obviously, there are likely going to be more to come.

GUSCIORA: I guess I agree with President Biden that Congress really needs to get back to work and address this issue. We don't have the resources to absorb them. It's truly a humanitarian crisis that's left at our doorsteps. They may have medical or food needs or shelter needs. We cannot absorb them. We're too small of a city. So, we really need Congress to get back to work.

COATES: I mean, Congress is supposed to come back next week, but they're likely not to address and resolve these issues immediately. And the numbers are going to continue. What resources do you have presently to handle an influx of migrants like this? What do you actually need?

GUSCIORA: Well, after the pandemic, we've had food pantries, we have people out of work, and we have -- half of our population is under the poverty line. So, we have our own societal problems that we're trying to address. It just becomes expounded when a group of migrants who are well-intentioned come into our city. They may have some humanitarian needs, but we don't have the resources to address them.

COATES: I hear that a lot. Trenton mayor, thank you so much. I know the phrase. The world -- Trenton makes the world takes. We'll see if they take your suggestions about the resources that you need as well. Thank you so much.

GUSCIORA: Thanks so much, Laura.

COATES: Now, I want to bring in Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson. This issue is spanning across the entire country. Mayor, thank you for being here tonight. Look, you heard from the Trenton mayor as well. We know that more than 300 migrants were also flown into Rockford International Airport and then bus to Chicago over this past weekend. Tell me, what is this doing to your city right now?

MAYOR BRANDON JOHNSON, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS: Well, you know, look, we have this international crisis that really requires federal intervention from Congress to act. And right now, you have local economies like the city of Chicago or Trenton or New York or Denver or anywhere else where we're having to subsidize this international crisis.

But unfortunately, you also have a governor who is committed to chaos and disorder. Governor Abbott has sent well over 600 buses alone to the city of Chicago. Five hundred of them have arrived since I've been mayor. And we have 30,000 roughly people asylum seekers who've come through our city. We are housing 15,000 of those families.


Forty-five hundredth of those children are in our Chicago public schools. But this is not a sustainable mission because local economies and government were never designed to respond to this type of crisis.

But again, my job, of course, in this moment is to make sure that there's some structure and some coordination to deal with this humanitarian crisis. But unfortunately, we have a governor, Governor Abbott of Texas, who is committed to sowing seeds of chaos.

COATES: Of course, he would say, well, look, you're a welcoming city, as they often describe Chicago, a sanctuary city. He would obviously respond that, obviously, you need to make good on those words. And it's not chaos. That's for another discussion, of course.

Let me just ask you this. You've heard these statistics. The U.S. immigration court backlog, you intimated towards it. It's now north of three million. But there are only 600 immigration judges across 68 courts across the entire nation. That's according to DOJ. That means you got about 5,000 immigration cases per judge. And so, some might not even see the inside of a courtroom, mayor, for three years.

And given what you've just said about the chaos being sow by Governor Abbott or the lack of resources and the inability to sustain this, you're talking this being the long haul. Are you prepared for that in Chicago?

JOHNSON: Well, look, it's going to require a coordinated resource response from Congress. And look, yes, we are a sanctuary state, but the sanctuary state and sanctuary city, all that simply says is that we are not going to ask local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws, right?

Governor Abbott wants to turn local law enforcement into ICE. That actually undermines public safety. We are already asking police officers to do too much. And so, in order for us to have better, stronger, safer communities, we have to make sure that law enforcement can participate in that.

But as far as what is needed in totality, absolutely, we need comprehensive immigration reform policy. The last time it happened, the last two times, '86, our beloved Bears were just coming off of a Super Bowl win. And in the 1990s, I was just still in high school. And so, we need Congress to act today because, again, local economies are not designed to hold this type of crisis.

But we cannot have a governor who is committed to chaos. And unfortunately, whether it's Governor Abbott or members of the Republican Party, they have yet to accept the results of the Civil War. We cannot have a country that is divided in this particular moment, especially when we need everyone to work collaboratively to come up with a coordinated, sophisticated response to this international crisis.

COATES: Mayor, I'm glad you pointed out the conflation of that term sanctuary city with the policies that are at issue at the border and beyond. I do wonder, just like your Trenton mayor colleague, whether Congress will act expeditiously or they have the capacity to do so. There's a lot at stake. Thank you for joining me this evening.

JOHNSON: You're welcome and happy new year.

COATES: Happy new year. And here we are on the second day of 2024. How did you celebrate the new year? I can tell you how I did. But in the states across the country, it's new year, new laws. And let me tell you about it being quite the mixed bag. Illinois is banning book bans, prohibiting public libraries from banning books.

Go on over to California. They have banned concealed carrying of guns in most public places. Idaho and Louisiana have banned gender- affirming care for minors, while Maryland is requiring Medicaid to cover such care. And nearly half of states have now increased their minimum wage.

Well, there's a lot more ahead, including Harvard's first Black president who is stepping down amidst serious turmoil weeks ago when the calls for the nation started. Professor Randall Kennedy told me Claudine Gay was the target of a smear. Well, he is back to react to the news tonight, and that's next.



COATES: Well, the big question tonight, too little, too late, or a calculated campaign to cancel a Black educator in a rare position of power? Claudine Gay is out as president of Harvard. Gay is gone, of her own accord, and officially announced resignation today. But a person close to her tells CNN that Gay made that decision last week.

You know, she was the first Black president in Harvard's history, and her presidency now goes down as the shortest since the school's founding. Now, she will remain on the faculty.

And in a parting note, she fired a parting shot. "It has been distressing to have doubt cast on my commitments to confronting hate and to upholding scholarly rigor -- two bedrock values that are fundamental to who I am -- and frightening to be subjected to personal attacks and threats fueled by racial animus."

Joining me now, Harvard Law Professor Randall Kennedy. Thank you so much for joining because you and I spoke just a few weeks ago, and at that time, we were discussing the attacks against her in different lights following that congressional hearing. At the time, you believe that she was targeted, that she was the obvious target of a smear. What do you think today, professor?

RANDALL KENNEDY, PROFESSOR OF LAW, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: My thoughts have not been moved. She was targeted, and she was targeted very effectively. Today is a very sad day. It's a tragic day for President Gay and it's a very sad day for a great university, Harvard University, my employer.


Harvard University has allowed itself to be placed in a false light before the American public. And that's a very alarming thing, that an institution that is so esteemed, so rightly esteemed, should be put on the defensive by an obvious hit, an obvious malevolent attack, a misleading attack.

COATES: When you look at that light in which they have been, you know, portrayed and how people are talking about not just the congressional hearing, but also there were allegations of plagiarism against President Claudine Gay. There were different op-eds from student bodies who were saying -- at Harvard, saying that she would be held to a different standard than, say, the average student.

You are a professor at Harvard. You have been privy to the accusations of plagiarism against her. You also, I'm sure, undoubtedly have had to look at students' work and raise questions about the authenticity of their own work. Did the plagiarism allegations change the equation for you at all?

KENNEDY: No, they did not. They were very hurtful. I think that they certainly -- they helped bring her down. But no, I don't -- I have not seen any evidence that Claudine Gay was guilty of true plagiarism. She may have been guilty in the distant past of some sloppiness. That's probably the case. But not anything like the allegations are making her out to be.

What has happened is that some relatively minor problems in her, you know, attributions, in her handling of things in the distant past, those things have been blown up to make it seem as though she has recently been engaged in academic misdoings. Again, this is part of a well-orchestrated, misleading smear of Claudine Gay and of Harvard University.

COATES: I want to just show people for a second because I was so --

KENNEDY: There are so many.

COATES: Go ahead, professor. I do want to hear your point, but I know you're going to get to it. But because people have been talking about this plagiarism -- and I don't like when things are lingering in the ether. I just want to point out what people have said.

I mean, on the screen here, a side-by-side comparison that was provided to them by an anonymous source which, of course, we can quibble with anonymous sourcing, but the corroboration nonetheless in different media outlets. On the left, talking about what was said. One on the right, which was consolidated and condensed with some words that were changed. People have looked at that issue as an instance of not just a distance past but some inauthenticity.

But when a student hears you say, for example, in the past and sloppy attribution, I can only imagine that some would look at this and go, well, hold on a second, had there not been other students who've done something in their own past, say a student who had an allegation like this prior to being accepted to Harvard or even in Harvard? Would that change the equation for a student?

KENNEDY: I'll say a couple things. Number one, if students have been penalized strongly, severely for things which are relatively minor, that was a bad thing, and that sort of policy should be changed. The fact of the matter is I've seen these side by side comparisons with respect to language. Sometimes, it's very difficult to describe a certain thing very differently. Sometimes, things look very similar.

But again, I've taken a look at these things. And no, I do not think that President Gay is rightly charged with true plagiarism. Over and over through the last months, President Gay and Harvard University have been the victims of misleading narratives. One, the misleading narrative regarding her supposed indifference to antisemitism. She said over and over and over again that she finds any instances of antisemitism personally abhorrent. She said that over and over.


Second of all, Harvard University has been said to be -- people have said that antisemitism is rampant at Harvard University. Not true.

People have said that her work has been saturated with problems of scholarly integrity. Not true. What is true is that there has been a well-orchestrated attack from various quarters to try to oust President Gay, and they have succeeded. You got to -- you know, that is true. They have succeeded and that is a tragedy. And we're going to be feeling the effects of this for --

COATES: Let me ask you one second on that, professor. I just want to ask you, though.


COATES: You mentioned the well-crocheted machine. It's not lost on me. I mean, you're sitting here talking, as you can see, plainly, a Black woman. It's not lost on me that there have oftentimes over the course of history, both recent and distant, orchestrated attacks to undermine the integrity and credibility of Black intellectuals, period.

The fact that she is a Black woman, and in this position, do you think that has contributed to the motivation behind the well-orchestrated machine or was it something different?

KENNEDY: Absolutely. I think that the fact that a Black woman was the head of the most famous university in the United States, maybe the world, has actually deranged a lot of people, including some of her colleagues at Harvard University. And it's very alarming, it's very disappointing, but it's part of our reality.

COATES: Did you have a final thought? I cut you off with my last question. You wanted to expand more on the well orchestration of the machine.

KENNEDY: I was -- my only point is that this has been a very effective smear of elite institutions in American life, elite institutions of higher education. And unfortunately, we are going to -- the whole country is going to feel the effects of this in the coming weeks, the coming months, and coming years. This is a very sad day for Harvard University and a sad day for America.

COATES: Professor Randall Kennedy, thank you so much for joining me.

KENNEDY: Thank you.

COATES: An incredible escape for hundreds of passengers after a horrific runway crash. Look at those pictures and images at Tokyo's airport. How exactly did nearly 400 people get out safely in just 90 seconds before the plane went up in flames? The answer is next.



COATES: A Japanese airliner collided with another aircraft on a runway in Tokyo. The footage is actually terrifying from inside the burning jetliner. It shows the cabin calm until passengers look out the window. Nearly 400 passengers and crew had only 90 seconds to get off the plane. Yes, only 90 seconds.

Well, joining me now to break down the harrowing experience is CNN aviation analyst Miles O'Brien. Miles, first of all, walk us through how this crew was able to get hundreds of passengers off the plane in such a short amount of time. And by the way, to show just how short that is, I'm going to give you only 90 seconds to explain. I'm going to start the clock now.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: All right, Laura, I'll try to explain it as quickly as that aircraft was evacuated, which was an extraordinary event, which surprised many of us in aviation. We've always thought this was theoretically possible. But here you have a situation and a very narrow window of survivability here. And everybody got through it. The plane lands.

It's a surprise to the cabin crew and much less the flight crew up front that there is a collision. Suddenly, it is quite obvious things are going wrong. The cabin crew makes it obvious that this is an aircraft that needs to be evacuated very quickly. You've got upwards of 400 people on board this aircraft. Fortunately, we have a lot of technology on board, which makes this survival.

COATES: Forty-five seconds left. Wow. Go ahead.

O'BRIEN: For one thing -- for one thing, there is reduced flammability on the materials that are used inside, the upholstery of the interior cabins. We have great lighting systems, which make it possible to find your way in a smoky cabin. And then you have a crew that understands you don't necessarily open every door. You look out the window, you see where the fire is, you open the doors that make the most sense.

And then on top of that, you have a nation, Japan, where people are culturally predisposed to listen to orders and follow rules. They did. They didn't pull down their carry-out bags. They complied, walking --


O'BRIEN: -- in some cases up this steep hill to the tail to slide down. All that --

COATES: And time is up.

O'BRIEN: -- can you believe that happened while I was talking?

COATES: I cannot. I was looking at the clock. In 90 seconds, hundreds of people, including children under the age of two, got off that plane and to their safety. Miles O'Brien, my heart was racing as you were talking, and we know that the crew of the Coast Guard plane, not as fortunate. Thank you so much.

O'BRIEN: Welcome.

COATES: Wow, unbelievable.

Well, the former world number one, Naomi Osaka, making a long-awaited comeback after spending over a year away from tennis. How did she do? I'll tell you next.



COATES: Welcome back to tennis, Naomi Osaka, the former world number one, making a winning return to tennis in Australia just yesterday. She spent more than a year away from the sport, citing mental health concerns and welcoming her first child in July. Osaka sharing this message about the new phase of her career.


NAOMI OSAKA, TENNIS PLAYER: I feel like the last couple years that I played before, you know, I had my daughter, I didn't return as much love as I was given. So, I really feel like that's what I want to do in this chapter.


COATES: Well, congratulations, Naomi. And thank you all for watching. Our coverage continues.