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Laura Coates Live

Trump Appeals Colorado Ballot Ban To SCOTUS; House GOP Ready To Reject Senate Compromise On Immigration; Jeffrey Epstein Documents Were Unsealed; Former Harvard President Speaks Out. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired January 03, 2024 - 23:00   ET



ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: A stunning courtroom attack caught on tape.

MARY KAY HOLTHUS, JUDGE: In accordance with the law and state of Nevada's courtroom (bleep)

UNKNOWN: Oh, oh, oh, hey!

PHILLIP: That moment there was when a judge was about to sentence the defendant for attempted battery, and we are told she and a court martial were hurt and taken to the hospital after what you saw there.

Laura Coates, really unbelievable moment there. I hope that that judge is safe tonight.

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: It's unbelievable to think about, you hope that she is safe, but also reminds you of the danger that many of the judicial branch are facing --


COATES: -- on a day-to-day basis, not just the Supreme Court, not just the more high-profile matters, but every single day, what it's like on the front lines of justice. Thank you so much, Abby.

PHILLIP: Have a good show, Laura.

COATES: Thank you. Well, Donald Trump going to the Supreme Court. But what took him so long? Tonight, on "Laura Coates Live."

Now this is the case we've all been watching and waiting for. Some might call it the big kahuna. Donald Trump asking the United States Supreme Court, the highest court in all the land, to overturn the Colorado State Supreme Court ruling that took him off of the ballot under the 14th Amendment's insurrectionist clause.

Now, Team Trump says, one, he's not an insurrectionist. They say what happened at the Capitol on January 6th, the crowds breaking into the Capitol, forcing lawmakers to literally run for their lives, threatening to hang the vice president of the United States, wasn't even an insurrection.

Quote -- "The Colorado Supreme Court erred in how it described President Trump's role in the events of January 6, 2021. It was not "insurrection" and President Trump in no way "engaged" in "insurrection."


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We fight like hell. And if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore.


COATES: Hmm. I'll let you decide what you take from the moments that you all undoubtedly saw on January 6th. But this is not just about Colorado. Last week, Maine's secretary of state removed Trump from the primary ballot. Team Trump appealed that decision in state court yesterday.

And there's other states, as they say. But wait, there's more, because the Oregon Supreme Court could soon rule on a bid to remove Trump from their primary and general election ballots because of his role on January 6th.

Now, the Supreme Court is in the hot seat now, all nine justices, assuming they all don't recuse themselves. But why did Donald Trump wait until now? I mean, is he abandoning what we see as this kind of trademark delay, delay, delay strategy? And frankly, what will happen next?

I want to bring in Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, who brought this case. Also joining us is someone else. We'll get to you just in a moment here.

But let me ask you, Noah. I mean, you and I have talked about this case a lot when it happened. You've been very focused on Colorado specifically. The fact that he has appealed to the Supreme Court now, are you surprised it even took this long to do so?

NOAH BOOKBINDER, CEO, CITIZENS FOR RESPONSIBILITY AND ETHICS IN WASHINGTON: I'm a little surprised. The Colorado Republican Party came in last week and appealed, and both they and we have asked the Supreme Court to move very, very quickly. Donald Trump is a little bit behind everybody else. I think it's really important to have clarity and to have speed so that voters know how this issue is resolved before they have to vote.

COATES: But, you know, one of the big issues that the Trump team is saying is, hold on, the Colorado court got it wrong. And mind you, the trial court said he stays on the ballot. It was the Supreme Court, so it's very different.

But it's that trial court idea here that, look, he should not be removed because there had not been a finding, a conviction, a criminal charge of insurrection, that the actual language of the Constitution does not contemplate a president being someone who could be removed this way. Does that hold any weight for you? BOOKBINDER: It really doesn't. I mean, the trial court actually held an exhaustive process. There was a five-day trial. There were 15 witnesses. There were thousands of pages of documents. There were hours of video. There was extensive argument from top lawyers on all sides. There was a great deal of process. And this idea of not having a conviction is really a red herring.


Over, you know, 150 years, courts have on eight occasions, most of them after the Civil War but one of them last year, just held people disqualified under the 14th Amendment. Not a single one was convicted of or even charged with insurrection. It's a separate thing. This is a qualification. It's not a criminal punishment. It has a separate process. Donald Trump got that process in a very exhaustive way.

COATES: On that point, I'm going to stick with it for a second because the qualification, there are some who would look at this and say, this is all about disenfranchising voters. Don't they have a right to decide whether what they saw on January 6th is disqualifying for them or not? It's not the age or the citizenship aspect. It's something different. What about that?

BOOKBINDER: Well, first of all, I think it is kind of rich for the person who tried to keep himself in power after losing an election, which would have disenfranchised millions and millions of voters to somehow scream about something, about enforcing the Constitution being anti-democratic.

But what I would also say to that is the voters had a chance to decide if Donald Trump should get another term in the White House. They chose not to give him that. And what he did after that is refuse to recognize it, ultimately resulting in a violent insurrection.

The idea that we're going to do the same thing again four years later and trust the democratic process and somehow have a different result, he's not going to do that same thing, just doesn't seem to hold up.

The framers of the 14th Amendment understood that, that somebody who has attacked the democracy is somebody that this country needs to be protected against. That's why they created this clause to begin with.

COATES: Well, that's the Supreme Court, if they take it up fully, will reconcile that very issue about what the framers contemplated and whether it was this clause that should apply to presidents as well as other so-called officers who take the oath.

I want to bring in Krista Kafer, who is a longtime Colorado Republican and actually a plaintiff in the case. She joins our conversation now, too. Krista, look, since the last time you were on the show, Maine also found Trump ineligible. Oregon might well do the same. I wonder how you are feeling today now that this is really likely to go before the Supreme Court.

KRISTA KAFER, PLAINTIFF IN COLORADO 14TH AMENDMENT CASE: This is where it was always headed, I believe. This is something that the court really needs to weigh in on. They need to weigh in on a couple of different questions, including, is the president an officer? Is he even somebody that this applies to this particular clause of the 14th Amendment? We believe it does.

When you look at original language at the time, those that were discussing it, newspaper articles, dictionaries, when you look at all of that, you can see that, yes, at the time, they meant the president and the vice president to be included under that clause.

We also need to ask the court, does Congress need to do anything? And there's a Section 5 in which Summers said, well, Congress needs to act. We're saying no. In fact, the plain language of Section 3 says that Congress only needs to act to grant amnesty. In fact, state courts, which can and in many cases must enforce federal law, that these courts, that the state is the right place for -- I mean, it would be great if Congress would act, but we've got states that have laws of the book, including our own, that say that unqualified people cannot be on the ballot. And as somebody who is going to be voting in this state, I don't want to see the ballot cluttered up with people who just aren't eligible to run, whether it be former presidents that have already served two terms --


KAFER: -- or people who are not national citizens.

COATES: Well, one point, though, Krista, and first of all, it ought to be a t-shirt. It'd be great if Congress would act. I just think that should be a sweatshirt, t-shirt --


COATES: -- hat, whole campaign happening. I don't know if that's happening, but there you go. But on the second point, Trump actually will remain on the primary ballot as this is all playing out. And if the court finds him eligible, any votes cast for him then won't count.

But this is a lot of ifs, right? They're going to preserve his ability to be on this ballot. Obviously, there's the administrative action of actually printing the ballots out and getting it out there.

Are you worried that it will provoke his supporters possibly to act in a way to suggest that they think this is the courts trying to remove their ability to elect a candidate of their choosing?

KAFER: Well, it's not the courts, it's the Constitution. And the Constitution clearly says that if an office holder who has taken an oath to the Constitution decides to go against that oath and to seek insurrection to try to stop the peaceful transfer of power, that person is just not eligible.

Now, I really do want the court to act swiftly. We're not the only ones that want the court to act swiftly. Our attorney general does, the Trump administration does, the Colorado Republican Party, and certainly all of us petitioners want them to act quickly because the longer they go, the more difficult this becomes. COATES: Krista, really quickly, I know, and this has been really personal because it's a very public and publicized case, I know the track record of past is prologue.


The attention and the microscope are not pleasant to be under. Do you -- are you experiencing even more backlash now that it has become this particular state of affairs?

KAFER: You know, its' really been interesting. I have to admit I have lost a couple of friends over it, but the reaction has been more positive than negative. I've had Republicans that I know, Democrats that I know say, we are so happy that you are insisting on rule of law and the Constitution.

I've had complete strangers, some who have seen your interview here on CNN, writing me and saying, thank you for doing this, thank you for upholding the Constitution, thank you for sticking up for Republicans and Democrats because, as Noah said, the person who tried to disenfranchise voters last time around tried to overturn an election, tried to subvert the votes of millions of my fellow Americans who voted differently than me.

Those are the -- you know, we need to stand up for those voters, for our fellow Americans. So, by and large, it has been a positive reaction. Sure, you're going to get some people who are negative and mean, but you know what? That's on them.

COATES: Well, they say Dems the breaks, I guess. Krista Kafer and Noah Bookbinder, thank you so much. I'm going to ask you one more time, Noah. Is there going to be another state that you're going to bring this action in? Last time you told me, maybe. Well, what's the answer now?

BOOKBINDER: See, it's still -- we're focusing on Colorado, we're focusing on Maine, and let's see what happens from here.

COATES: All right. Fine.


I'll let that stand. Thank you so much, both of you.

BOOKBINDER: Thank you.

COATES: Just a short while ago on CNN, Colorado secretary of state did respond to the appeal.


JENA GRISWOLD, COLORADO SECRETARY OF STATE: It does not make sense to allow a president to engage in insurrection and get off scot-free. A president, the person who has arguably the most power in this country, should not be able to do that type of action and run again when every other elected official would be barred from doing so. Donald Trump is basically arguing to the United States Supreme Court that he did not engage in insurrection, but even if he did, it's okay, he can still be president again. I disagree with that.

Regardless of my sentiments, this is a big case in front of the United States Supreme Court. I do believe that the United States Supreme Court should tell the American people whether a president can engage in insurrection and then again run for that office.


COATES: Well, joining me now to discuss, former January 6th investigative counsel, Marcus Childress, and also former Trump attorney, Tim Parlatore, is here as well.

Gentlemen, let's just take a step back for a moment because this is a very consequential moment. Any idea of taking somebody off of a ballot is going to be important, let alone a presidential election year. It is surprising that maybe Trump is just now appealing to the Supreme Court, but we all know that it was going to end up there at some point anyway.

But the fact, Tim, that he is saying, look, it's not just a matter of me not having been convicted of insurrection, this is a congressional issue, it's up to them to do something about it, does that hold weight for you?

TIM PARLATORE, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: I think it does. You know, one of the things that I was kind of expecting in this brief, it was addressed in the GOP brief a little bit more, is that there was congressional action on this. You know, Congress did impeach him for insurrection. He had a trial. He was acquitted. And that is something that I would expect him to argue is something that should be controlling here.

Moreover, Congress that has passed statutes. There is 18 USA 2383, the insurrection statute, where they specifically incorporate this 14th Amendment section into the criminal code and gave it a procedure, which is indictment and criminal trial.

In fact, they expanded the definition beyond the 14th Amendment to basically anybody, not just officers of the United States. Anybody who engages in an insurrection is permanently barred.

COATES: So that's part of his argument, right? And part, Marcus, that, hold on a second, the Constitution has areas where they discuss directly what should happen to a president. In this particular clause, we're talking about an officer, an oath, but the word president does not appear. And we all know in law school and interpretation of the law, the courts are going to look, as you mentioned, Tim, at the context, at the legislative history perhaps or the intent behind it, what were the conversations around it.

Is it going to be enough to say, because the founding fathers left out the word president, that's it, that's all the marbles? MARCUS CHILDRESS, FORMER JANUARY 6 COMMITTEE INVESTIGATIVE COUNSEL: I don't think that's going to be enough. I mean, if you go back to when this amendment was actually passed after the Civil War, I think it's unfathomable for us to think that Robert E. Lee could have ran for president as someone who engaged in rebellion or insurrection.


And so, I think that is enough right there to show that like, look, he couldn't run for president back then because he engaged in rebellion and insurrection. Former President Trump also engaged in the same conduct and should not be able to run for president.

I do want to touch on the self-executing congressional action point as well. I read it a little differently, right? This is part of the reconstruction era amendments, the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. They all have language and they're about Congress can further legislate to enforce the conduct or the behavior in the amendment. The 13th Amendment right abolishes slavery. The 15th Amendment gives Black folks the right to vote. We don't say that you have to do further congressional action for those to take place.

And so, the 14th Amendment follows kind of the same structure. It has a shell language, right? If you've engaged in insurrection or rebellion, you shall be disqualified from the office. President is what I'll say here, right, being elected. And so, I think that is something that needs to be considered.

We're looking at the historical context of the amendment. I think the Supreme Court will engage in a review similar to what Tim just said, with some of the laws that have been passed and, hopefully, the reconstruction era of these amendments as well.

COATES: But some would argue on that point about self-executing, which I know is this fancy way of just saying that, I don't have to do anything for this to work, right? It's going to be on its own. But if it's true that it's self-executing, say the 15th Amendment, then someone would look at the Florida Rights Act of 1965 and say, well, why is that even there? Then why is there congressional legislation to try to ensure that the rights are not circumscribed in some way or in any way undermined?

But the issue, I think you make a very strong point, Marcus. I want you to respond, Tim, to the idea of, well, hold on, do you really need to have congressional action here according to what the arguments are to suggest that we have to wait for this low bureaucratic machine, which is Congress, as we all know --


COATES: -- to decide whether Trump can be on a state ballot where states are in charge of running their elections?

PARLATORE: Well, and that's, I guess, is where the Trump brief today kind of tried to draw the distinction between being on the ballot and actually holding the office. And so, whether that's going to be an availing point, I don't know, but it is an interesting issue of you can put people on the ballot and then ultimately -- you know, the Constitution also has a provision for once you have a president-elect, that gets presented to Congress. And Congress has to look at him and say, you know, is this person qualified?

And there's a provision right in there saying that if the president- elect fails to meet the qualifications for the office, then they're going to install the vice president-elect at that point.

COATES: Who's that going to be right now?


Wait, I had a moment where I was thinking, who is going to be the running mate? I know who of democratic side will be, but I have to process the rest of that this evening.

Marcus, back to you, though, on this point. These are states that run these elections. The Supreme Court is going to have to make some statement at some point if they want to resolve it. Otherwise, it'll have to be a very fulsome response or 49 other states are going to be lining up to figure out what's going to happen in theirs. That's just not sustainable. Do you think the Supreme Court will, one, take up this issue? And two, do you think that they are going to lean towards finding that he should remain on the ballot or not?

CHILDRESS: So that's, I think, one, they're going to take up the issue, right? Because there needs to be some type of guidance so that we don't have splits between the states. I think this is an issue that's right for the Supreme Court to provide a decision on.

I think it's going to be tough. I'll be curious to see how the Supreme Court actually analyzes this because I don't think anyone is really disputing that former President Trump didn't engage in insurrection. In fact, the brief --

COATES: Well, he is. He said, I didn't engage in insurrection.

CHILDRESS: Well, his brief is actually funny on that point because he says -- he uses it for an example that former President Trump didn't tell people to go into the Capitol, right? But that ignores the whole big lie that he spread, the December 19th suite of telling people to come to Washington, D.C., not some people to go home for the three hours. So, it is an argument, but it's not a very fulsome argument. Right?

And so, I find it hard when the 14th Amendment is all -- the Section 3 is all about engaging in insurrection or rebellion for you not to get into the fact related to the very essence of that amendment.

And since this was that argument in this brief was from President Trump was actually pretty late in the brief, it shows that it wasn't the argument that really hang in their head on, and I don't see how the Supreme Court can really analyze this issue without considering the insurrection piece of it.

COATES: Well, that'll be curious because, of course, as you all know, they're not a trial court. They don't want to do a trial, but this is all going to come up. I bet they do not want any part of this. But sorry, Supreme Court justices, you're up.

Marcus Childress, Tim Parlatore, thank you both so much.

Look, no matter how this case actually ends up, and we don't know how it's going to end up, we don't know at all, this is certainly not the way perhaps that Joe Biden wants to win. So how will it all play out in the race for the White House? We're going to talk about it next.



COATES: Fatal legal blow or political adrenaline shot? Donald Trump's 14th Amendment appeal is going to have very big consequences, both in the courtroom and, of course, on the campaign trail. Here to talk about it all, former Obama White House senior director, Nayyera Haq, and former Republican congressman, Joe Walsh.

Listen, you guys were hearing the last discussion, and we've obviously heard a lot about Colorado. I would expect that if you're a Democratic strategist in particular, you don't want the assumption that you're winning only because Trump is not on the ballot. You want to be able to say, I beat you, Trump, fair and square again. Is this problematic politically for them to have all these removals?

NAYYERA HAQ, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, who's going to argue about the fair and square if he does indeed win the electoral college and Biden wins the popular vote like he did last time, right? The idea is that Democrats don't want us to get to the Supreme Court. They don't want us --

COATES: They don't.

HAQ: They don't want us litigated all the way up, that the court once again, like it did in Gore v. Bush, decides who gets to be president of the United States. And for an older class of Democrats, it's giving them a heartburn right now of imagining that election day all over again. But at the end of the day, this is about republican primaries, right?


It's not actually going to impact the number of people that would turn out for Trump on the republican side of the aisle.

JOE WALSH, PODCAST HOST, FORMER ILLINOIS REPRESENTATIVE: But I think it helps Trump politically, even in the general.

COATES: You think so?

WALSH: Oh, God, yeah, because, Laura, to the average voter, this just isn't fair. It's not part of the democratic process, even though we know it is. But to the average folks out there, it is not. That is going to, I think, embolden Trump. I think it will help him politically beyond his base.

COATES: You know, the not fair part, you think, is that he -- the voters don't have a chance to decide whether they want to elect him.


COATES: That's the qualification aspect of it.

WALSH: You're kicking him off the ballot.

HAQ: Most voters -- most people don't get to decide whether or not they want to elect him anyway in a primary, right? Primaries are closed political systems. You have to be registered as a Republican and then actually care enough to want to go vote in the primary.

Now, we're not talking about the general ballot and Trump being kicked off there. His name, he's on the path to be the nominee for the Republican Party, right? And that is, there's nothing he could do that would make his base any happier than he has already made.

WALSH: Well, he's going to be the nominee. But if he were kicked off a state in the general election, that would help Trump politically.

COATES: I mean, well, that's really telling because 91 federal -- 91 indictments and counts --

WALSH: Yeah.

COATES: -- not affect him. But speaking of Iowa, in particular, where it's going to be talked about 12 days from now, I want to play for you a little bit about what happened when one Iowa voter asked Governor Ron DeSantis what I think is really kind of a million-dollar question. Listen.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): Why haven't you gone directly after him? In my viewpoint, you're going pretty soft on him.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But what do you think? Because we -- I've articulated all the differences time and time again on the campaign trail. What the media wants is they want Republican candidates to just kind of like smear him personally and kind of do that. That's just not how I roll.


COATES: Hold on. It is kind of how he rules. Let me remind people for a second. He said that Nikki Haley can't -- quote -- "handle basic questions." He led the charge against Bud Light. Remember that with Dylan Mulvaney and the controversy. He had the public view with Governor Gavin Newsom. You've got Disney. You've got AP courses. I mean, he's not one to be the wallflower. WALSH: It's how he has ruled from the beginning. Like Haley, neither one of them, Laura, have run to try to beat Trump.

COATES: Why, though? Why, Joe?

WALSH: Because if you go after -- look at Chris Christie. If you go after Trump, you have no room in the Republican Party. You're no longer viable. Chris Christie can never be the nominee because he's attacking Trump. Haley and DeSantis knew that. So, they've tried to play this careful dance that will not work.

HAQ: And what they've forgotten is that the majority of the general electorate is unaffiliated. So, there's a whole bunch of folks who are turned off from party partisan politics right now. And the rising electorate is young. It is diverse. That is going to continue to be a problem for the Republican Party that keeps courting Trump and going further and further right wing.

WALSH: He's so easy to criticize, Laura, because he's a bad candidate. But in his defense, it was almost an impossible road to begin with because you can't criticize Trump and win.

COATES: Well, political grace is apparently how Joe Walsh rolls. Thank you so much, Nayyera Haq and Joe Walsh. Thank you both so much.

Coming up, tomorrow night on CNN, live back-to-back republican presidential town halls in Iowa. First, with the person we were just talking about, Governor Ron DeSantis, moderated by CNN's Caitlin Collins, followed by Nikki Haley, moderated by CNN's Erin Burnett. It all begins at 9 p.m. Eastern. And I'll be here along with Abby Phillip when they wrap up.

What would you do on vacation? What did you do on vacation? What are you going to do when you get vacation again? Well, Congress is out of session and scores of House Republicans have opted to run for the border in the hopes of turning up the heat on Joe Biden. I'm on the case next.



COATES: So, I'm going to tell you something, frankly, that you probably already know, but it does bear repeating and, of course, something every American certainly knows.

There's a crisis at the border. We've all seen these pictures. Thousands and thousands of desperate people every single day. More than 225,000 just last month alone. And though those numbers have begun to drop from a stunning 10,000 migrants every single day in December to closer to 2,500 now, there are more than 11,700 migrant children who right now are in federal government custody.

We can't go on like this. It's not sustainable except we do, and it is sustaining. But all that happens over and over. These photo ops. The latest, House Speaker Mike Johnson taking the opportunity to knock President Biden.


MIKE JOHNSON, SPEAKER OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: This catastrophe can come to an end if the Biden administration will do its job, and they've refused to do it.


COATES: Well, you know who else refuses to perhaps do their jobs? Many would say House Republicans. Yes, the very lawmakers. Speaker Johnson leads. Because a growing number of them are telling CNN that they're not going to vote for the complex immigration deal that's in the works in the Senate.

Congressman Troy Nehls, a Texas Republican, saying the quiet part out loud. Quote, "Let me tell you, I'm not willing to do too damn much right now to help a Democrat and to help Joe Biden's approval rating." That's a quote.

Now, some House Republican members now are threatening to shut down the government over the border issue. Meanwhile, this unintentional photo op, migrants crossing the border just as the House GOP delegation arrived in Eagle Pass, Texas today. Perhaps not maybe the inadvertent, but what was supposed to be seen for reasons that they went down there.

Now, we've all seen this before, time and time again, the various photo opportunities at the border.


President Biden, remember, visiting just about, I think, a year ago now for his first time as president and mostly focusing on enforcement issues.

Vice-president Kamala Harris visiting in June of 2021 after telling NBC this.


UNKNOWN: You haven't been to the border.

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I haven't been to Europe. I don't understand the point that you're making. I'm not discounting the importance of the border.


COATES: Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was there back in 2019. Donald Trump visiting the border multiple times when he was president. And remember once even signing a portion of his beloved wall with a Sharpie. And remember then First Lady Melania Trump's visit to Texas when she was wearing that "I really don't care. Do you?" jacket. And we can't forget Rick Perry and Sean Hannity and Ron DeSantis and Ted Cruz. We've seen a lot of this before. Photo ops at the border. But is it all or nothing but some kind of political chess piece, especially during a presidential election year? What is the solution? And is anyone even trying to come up with one?

Well, joining me now, Congressman Henry Cuellar of Texas. I'm so glad that you are here with us today, congressman. Surely, you have been following not just today, but over the days, the weeks, the months, the year, as the successive presidential administrations. You represent a border district, congressman. And the big question for so many people tonight is, how much longer can this sort of posturing go on when there are real consequences in cities like yours?

REP. HENRY CUELLAR (D-TX): Absolutely, there are real consequences every single day. You know, what New York and Chicago and Washington, D.C. are experiencing, we've been experiencing this for almost 10 years or longer than that. We see this every day. And what we don't want is we don't want political narratives when people come down and take a few photos and then fit those images in their political narratives.

What we want is real solutions. And there's ways that we can solve this. But it's going to be bipartisan. We can't have the speaker say HR2 or nothing. The legislative process doesn't work that way. We got to be able to compromise, give it a little bit, get out of our comfort zones, and get the job done.

COATES: Well, let's talk about how one can get the job done because that's really the meat of the matter here. I want to take a look at some of the policies that Senate negotiators are even considering. Notably, by the way, one of the policies would include shutting the border when migration spikes. Would you be in favor of that particular policy?

CUELLAR: I don't know if they're talking about shutting down the border. I think shutting down the border completely doesn't work. You know, what we see at the border is we want to let the legitimate trade and tourism come in and keep the bad things out or the drugs coming in.

When it talks about it, there are people that have legitimate asylum claims, and we can have law and order and still be respectful of those asylum claims.

But keep in mind that in the last 25 years, 87% of those asylum claims are going to be rejected. So, there's got to be a better way that we can do this work at the very beginning instead of giving a false hope, a false promise to people that will be here four, five, six years, go in front of an immigration judge and then be told your asylum claim is rejected.

COATES: I mean, not to mention the date that many people have to even go before an immigration judge can be years away. Some as late or as early as 2027, just for example. And I -- you mentioned the economy and the impact that would take on it if there was border closure. I mean, Eagle Pass, El Paso, according to Axios reporting account for $33.95 billion annually in trade. That's a very significant amount of money we're talking about here. and yet that is one of the prospects being floated in the negotiations.

You also say, congressman, that your constituents want Congress to take an action. Of course, everyone is looking to Congress. You, I'm sure, are aware of that as a member of Congress. Everyone is looking towards what's happening there.

But now, some of the 60 House Republicans, led by Speaker Johnson, they are threatening to shut the government down over the border crisis. And you have to wonder, in an all or nothing sort of approach like this, is that considered a move of a party serious about truly negotiating?

CUELLAR: No, they're not because they've said HR2 are nothing, number one. Number two, you got some members of their Republican Party that are saying, we don't want to make something work to make the president look better.


In other words, they want to keep this political issue going for the election, for the November election. And, finally, the last thing that is important to note is that the last two appropriation bills will increase homeland appropriations, homeland appropriations by 15%, billions of dollars that we had it. Except for five or four Republicans or so in Congress right now, everybody voted no.

So, how can you be serious when you voted for the last two appropriation for homeland and voted no except for five members who are still serving right now?

COATES: Congressman Henry Cuellar, thank you so much. I know you got your work cut out for you.

CUELLAR: Thank you, Laura.

COATES: Well, court documents revealing the names of nearly 200 people connected to the late accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. We'll tell you who is on that list next.


COATES: Hundreds of pages of unsealed documents released publicly tonight. Documents include the names of nearly 200 people connected to the late accused sex trafficker, Jeffrey Epstein, and his accomplice, Ghislaine Maxwell.


The documents come from a 2015 lawsuit by one of their accusers. And some of the names connected to Epstein, well, they are big.

Let's discuss with CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson, an attorney, and legal affairs commentator Areva Martin as well. So glad to have both of you here in the new year, although not for this crazy reason. But, Joey, let me begin with you for a second year. Former President Bill Clinton was mentioned in the deposition that claimed that Epstein said that Clinton -- quote -- "likes them young."

Now, to be clear, he himself, Clinton, has not been accused of crimes with Epstein. And, of course, his spokesperson confirmed that Clinton had flown on Epstein's private plane decades ago, but knew nothing of Epstein's -- quote -- "terrible crimes." But what does it mean to have documents like this, Joey, in public?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah, so, Laura, good evening to you. You know, the reality is that no one wants their name associated with Epstein at all, obviously, right? For personal reasons, for professional reasons, for reputational reasons, for reasons relating to potential additional civil inquiries, for issues relating to particular criminal inquiries.

But I think a statement like, you know, "he likes them young" while horrifying, to say the least, could mean, right, a lot of different things. It could mean something certainly of an innocent variety. He's a person who potentially likes younger women, not necessarily underage women.

And so, I'm not sure that Bill Clinton is particularly liking the fact that this came out. Certainly, Gouffre (ph), who was the initiator of this lawsuit, indicates that she had no dealings or interactions with him.

And, as you mentioned, Laura, there's nothing of a criminal or civil variety to embroil and implicate him, but just a mere fact of an association with a person like this, obviously, is troubling and problematic, to say the very least.

COATES: That is why so many people look at something like this. And, of course, this is deposition. You cringe from the criminal context and the civil context about what this would mean, Areva. I mean, a deposition from that same woman claims that Epstein once said -- quote -- "We'll call up Trump" when pilots said they need to land in Atlantic City.

Now, they don't have all the details of what that means. They'll go to the casino from there. And when asked, she said she never gave a massage to Trump. But the number of people, the number of very powerful people that are put into this orbit is pretty staggering, Areva.

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah, it's really disgusting, Laura, to say the least. And the other really sad thing about this story is that this has become a pawn in the very partisan political war that we see playing out in the media every day.

And rather than focus on how this man, Jeffrey Epstein, was allowed to get away with preying on and abusing young girls for so many years, it is all about this "got you" moment.

And we see so many Republican activism, elected officials, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Donald Trump Jr. announcing that there was going to be some bombshell information about Bill Clinton, rather than focusing on how did this happen and how do we make sure teenage girls are never ever preyed upon and that predators like Epstein aren't allowed to go free from the number of years that we know he did not face any serious consequences.

COATES: In fact, Joey, the person who is serving time is Ghislaine Maxwell. There is a bit of an irony in that it is a woman who is held to account for the actions, although she was accused of being not only complicit but also facilitating some of this behavior as well.

When you look at this, Joey, and think about not just the big names that are on here, you know, you mentioned there's Prince Andrew and others who are mentioned, obviously, but what about the victims who have tried to stay anonymous? When this goes public, when this is available publicly as it is, do they have any recourse here?

JACKSON: Yeah, you know, so they really do. And I think the press has done a pretty favorable job in terms of keeping the victims not more victimized and protecting their privacy. And otherwise coming out and saying, look, we will identify victims if they identify themselves. And even the court has given the indication that the court will keep victims still redacted, as we know in legal parlance, Areva, Laura, that means away from public view. They're blacked out. You can't see them.

And so, obviously, you know, look, if you're a victim in this case, there were so many victims, to have the courage, the fortitude to come together to move forward, to seek accountability, to get damages for your wrong doesn't make it better, but our legal system awards money. And, you know, certainly, the recompense for that is important.

But I think it's also important to protect their privacy moving forward so that they can have a semblance of life and of peace as more and more information gets revealed in the coming days and weeks.

COATES: Really quick, Areva. I mean, this is, obviously, somebody who has been at the center of massive conspiracy theories online. I just wonder what the impact of a release like this is going to do to those conspiracy theorists and the fuel that it might provide.


MARTIN: Yeah, I hope it sets the record straight that this was a horrific crime carried out by a sexual predator, and that we need to do more to protect girls. When predators like Jeffrey Epstein engaged in this kind of conduct, they have to be held to account.

COATES: We shall see. Joey Jackson, Areva Martin, thank you both for joining me tonight. Nice seeing you.

JACKSON: Thanks, Laura. Always.

MARTIN: Thanks, Laura.

COATES: Well, the former Harvard president, Claudine Gay, breaking her silence a day after her resignation. More on what she's saying tonight and a stark warning that she's issuing next.


COATES: Harvard's former president, Claudine Gay, defending her reputation tonight and warning of coordinated attacks to undermine -- quote -- "public faith and pillars of American society, including academia."

In a "New York Times" op-ed, she describes her decision to step down, writing in part -- quote -- "For weeks, both I and the institution to which I've devoted my professional life have been under attack. My character and intelligence have been impugned. My commitment to fighting antisemitism has been questioned. My inbox has been flooded with invective, including death threats. I've been called the N-word more times than I care to count."

Now, Gay admits she made mistakes in her congressional testimony about antisemitism on campuses.


She should have been more forceful in denouncing calls for genocide of Jewish people. She also addressed allegations of plagiarism, claiming she never misrepresented her research findings.

But Gay also condemns her critics for pushing what she calls -- quote -- "tired, racial stereotypes about black talent and temperament" -- unquote.

Well, thank you all for watching. Our coverage continues.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Tonight on "360," there's breaking news. The former president tells the Supreme Court there's no 14th Amendment case for keeping him off Colorado's ballot and says the Capitol attack was no insurrection.

Also breaking tonight, we've just gotten court documents expected to reveal the names of nearly 200 people connected to late sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. I'll tell you what we're finding so far.

And what U.S. officials are saying tonight about who might be responsible for the bomb blasts in Iran that killed more than 100 people at a memorial ceremony for a notorious terror mastermind.

Good evening. Thanks for joining us. We begin with breaking news and a story that, as we said at the top of the last night's program, could reshape the presidential campaign and a whole lot more, including how a truly central part of the Constitution is applied.