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Laura Coates Live
Appeals Court Denies Trump's Request To Rehear Immunity Argument In E. Jean Carroll Defamation Trial; Trump Attends Immunity Hearing In D.C.; NTSB Holds News Conference On Alaska Airlines Plane; Biden Appeals to Black Voters In Campaign Trip To South Carolina; Michigan Defeats Washington 34-13 To Win College Football Playoff National Championship. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired January 08, 2024 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: But what would happen, really, if a president had total immunity? Could he or she one day rob a bank, commit treason or say try to steal an election? Well, Michelle Obama says the rules are different for some.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The bars are different for people in life. That I've learned. Other people can -- other people can be indicted a bunch of times and still run for office. Black man can't. You just learn to be good. And in the end, you benefit from that extra resilience.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: I want to get right into all this with Attorney Jeffrey Toobin. You know him. He's 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, so glad that you're here tonight. First of all, take a step back with me here. Many people are wondering if tomorrow is the day that the appellate court will decide whether Trump committed insurrection. That's not what tomorrow is. It's a pointed legal question as to whether immunity actually exists for a former president. What do you say?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST, LAWYER, AUTHOR: Correct. I mean, what's important to remember about tomorrow is that it is a question about, does Donald Trump have to stand trial? The -- Trump is arguing that the whole case should be thrown out before it's even tried, which is unusual in a criminal case because under his understanding of presidential immunity, he has the right not even to be tried.
In most criminal appeals, you have to wait until you're convicted. But in a very narrow set of circumstances, you can argue that you don't even have to be go to trial. That's what he's arguing. It's a tough case for him, I think. COATES: It's a really uphill battle for a lot of reasons. I mean, I remember the argument about if I could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and no one would care. He's essentially saying, because I lived on Pennsylvania Avenue, that's all I have to have in order to have immunity in these cases. And, of course, the court will look at this through the lens of the kind of wild, wild west novel argument.
But many people, Jeffrey, as you know, and you've written the book on Supreme Court, they will have this assumption that this will all be decided according to who appointed these judges. That's not the case.
TOOBIN: Not necessarily, although it's often a pretty good guide, especially in these politically-charged cases. And remember, this is just the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. This could and might well go to the United States Supreme Court.
But tomorrow's hearing is just before the three-judge panel. And for those keeping score at home, it is two Democratic appointees and one Republican appointee who are hearing this case, which I think lends some optimism to the Jack Smith's team because of that -- because of that makeup.
But it's also true that this argument, even for Donald Trump, is a pretty extraordinary stretch. Remember, when we covered the Mueller investigation and that there was much discussion of the fact that there is a Justice Department policy. It's not a law, but a policy that says a sitting president should not be indicted.
But implicit in that policy is that, of course, he could be indicted later for something he did, and that's always been the assumption. I mean, remember, Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon in 1974 for his crimes in Watergate. If he -- if he couldn't be prosecuted, there would be no need for a pardon.
COATES: As a former president --
TOOBIN: Correct. I mean --
COATES: -- for conduct while in office.
TOOBIN: Right, and that's exactly what the pardon was for because everyone assumed that without the pardon, he could be prosecuted, because once you are out of office, you are an ordinary citizen like everyone else.
COATES: Well, you know, interestingly enough, people think about, well, this is going to be decided based on conservative viewpoints or liberal viewpoints. This is really kind of a reading of the Constitution and thinking about the text, which is not there, first of all, but also just the legal common sense of it.
I don't see this being decided on whether one is purportedly a liberal justice or a liberal judge versus a conservative wing of the judges. This is really the question: Can a president enjoy absolute immunity for things in office? Do you see it that way? TOOBIN: Well, I think the point you made about the text is very important. Conservatives say they believe that the Constitution should be interpreted only based on what's in the text. For example, there's nothing in the Constitution about abortion, so there is no constitutional right to abortion, say conservatives.
Here, there is nothing in the Constitution that says the president enjoys immunity. And in fact, everything in the Constitution suggests that after four years and going back to George Washington, you are returning to civilian life where you have the same rights as everyone else, including the right and the opportunity, if you want to call it that, to be charged with a crime.
COATES: The opportunity -- opportunity is not the word I'm sure he wants to use.
TOOBIN: I know. I'm sure not, yes.
COATES: You know, it's not that word. But then if you look at that, then there is the argument surrounding who is this sort of strict constructionist, this fancy term for, well, hold on, if it's not really there, I'm going to adhere to that, versus those who are thinking it's a living document. That is more susceptible to being able to have more interpretations. It's not so, you know, untimely and anachronistic.
Does that all go away? That's my point. When you don't have a language in the Constitution itself, then it becomes a matter of, well, what was intended here? That somebody who has taken an oath or somebody that is the former president of the United States or a president of the United States, they can really do whatever they want and be the head executive branch of government?
TOOBIN: See, this is why I think Jack Smith, the prosecutor, is in such in good -- is in such good shape in this case, because either interpretation, the strict textualist approach, the Constitution says nothing about presidential immunity from crimes, and the living Constitution approach, which says and implies the Constitution is -- the president is not above the law. Both approaches suggest that Trump can face trial.
Even if Trump loses in the D.C. Circuit, however, there's a way he could win, which is the issue of timing, because this issue -- this case is now stayed. There's a stay in effect where the trial date is set for May. But the case is not yet proceeding to trial because of the pendency of this appeal.
What's equally interesting in this case is not just how they rule but whether they continue the stay, whether the D.C. Circuit or ultimately the Supreme Court says, okay, we're going to hear this case, but we're going to let the trial proceed. That issue, in fact, if you are concerned about a trial before the election, the timing issue is almost as important as the merits of the case. COATES: You know, ultimately, this could go up to the Supreme Court. They've already said they're not going to weigh in on this matter specifically yet. It's why it's in front of the Circuit Court.
COATES: It was already proceeding in that fashion. But they could considerably get this case after the ruling comes down, whatever that might be, probably sooner than later. The question, though, if it goes before the Supreme Court, if you're Chief Justice John Roberts, you've seen the numbers in terms of your -- quote, unquote -- "approval rating," your popularity, issues of credibility, the rakes that have been stepped on time and time again for ethical discussions and beyond.
You probably want unanimity here. No matter what comes out, you want this to be a decisive, not a 6-3 or, you know, something different than that. Is there a hope that this, if it goes to the Supreme Court on the issue of absolute immunity for a president, that unanimity might be on the horizon?
TOOBIN: This argument by President Trump is so bad that that's a possibility. Remember, in 1974, when Richard Nixon said, I don't have to turn over the tapes to the Watergate special prosecutor, the Supreme Court in August of 1974 unanimously rejected that view.
And the fact that the Supreme Court, which was not as politically polarized in those days but still had a lot of different views on it, the fact that they ruled unanimously against the president made the case irrefutable and made Richard Nixon comply, and he did turn over the tapes and the tapes ultimately sunk his presidency.
Roberts will certainly want to try to get unanimity in a case like this. Whether he does or not, that's very different.
COATES: Like my dad always said, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride. That's like the old school way of saying like, who knows? Right?
TOOBIN: It would be nice.
COATES: It would be nice. It would be nice.
TOOBIN: But, I mean, you look at this court and it is much more politically-polarized than it has been in many years, probably since the 1930s. They're not unanimous on many --
TOOBIN: -- controversial cases.
COATES: I will say, you mentioned tapes and, of course, you're talking Nixon. I'm thinking Brad Raffensperger and what's happening in Georgia. And today, there was also a motion by the Trump legal team to get rid of that case on the same grounds of, look, if I'm immunized one place, I'm immunized another. Does that hold water? Because, obviously, you're talking about immunity in a federal court setting. [23:10:02]
Does it translate in the states?
TOOBIN: Well, it depends what the courts hold. If he is immune from criminal prosecution, he's immune in state court as well. So, I mean, that's why the stakes in this case are so enormous, because it's not just the January 6 case that's pending in Washington, it is also the case in Georgia, the RICO case there. Potentially, it's also the New York prosecution that is scheduled to go to trial in March. I think --
COATES: That's the hush money payment.
TOOBIN: The hush money payment involving Stormy Daniels. I think it would be a tough argument to make regarding the Mar-a-Lago documents case because it seems like almost all the criminal conduct alleged there took place after he was president in terms of hiding the documents.
But, I mean, the stakes in this case, the one that's being argued tomorrow, are bigger than just the January 6 case, certainly the Georgia case.
COATES: It is -- it's so true when you look -- I mean, isn't it, you think about just in our conversation, the number of times we have to clarify which case we're talking about when it relates to Donald Trump. I mean, this is mindboggling to think.
We have oftentimes, you and I, talked about the comparisons with Watergate and beyond. I almost feel like Watergate was a kitten playing with a yarn ball sometimes compared to what we see in the full scope of what's ahead here. And this Supreme Court is going to be looking at not just Nixon, not just even Clinton, but now a whole range of issues.
Speaking of Clinton, I want to make this clear to the audience because there's a lot of questions surrounding this. I know you'll be great to clarify this for us. So many people are looking at the issue of civil litigation and conduct in office. They think of Bill Clinton and what that meant. Tell me why this is distinct, the idea of conduct in office, immunity, and prosecution compared to that.
TOOBIN: Well, remember that Bill Clinton was sued by Paula Jones for sexual harassment, and the Supreme Court held in that case, even though he was a sitting president, he could face the civil case. It sounds like we're getting --
COATES: Hold on. I want to go live for a second. We've got the NTSB news conference. It's important.
JENNIFER HOMENDY, CHAIRMAN, NTSB: -- and Leani Benitez-Cardona, both of which are aerospace engineers for the NTSB and really specialists in structures, including looking at the airframe, the door plug, and the surrounding structure around the door plug. Now, one of the NTSB's core values is transparency. We believe when we have factual information that has been verified, that it's our duty to provide it to the public and to the media. And so, tonight, we have a lot of information that we want to share.
First, I'm going to provide a summary of the event from the flight data recorder. We're going to talk about what our survival factors group did today, and then I'm going to talk about what our systems group did today, and then we'll have some discussions from -- about structures and what the structures group did.
So, for the summary of the flight data recorder -- from the flight data recorder, I'm going to read it. At 17:06 and 47 seconds, Pacific Standard Time, the aircraft departed runway 28 left at Portland International Airport.
At 17:12 and 33 seconds, the recorded cabin pressure dropped from 14.09 to 11.64 pounds per square inch when the aircraft was at approximately 14,830 feet and 271 knots. The cabin altitude greater than 10,000 feet warning activated.
At 17:12 and 34 seconds, the master caution activated. The cabin pressure dropped to 9.08 PSI at approximately 14,850 feet and 271 knots. At 17:12 and 52 seconds, the master caution deactivated. At 17:13 and 41 seconds, the aircraft continued to climb and reached a maximum altitude of 16,320 feet and began to descend.
The airspeed was 276 knots. At 17:13 and 56 seconds, the selected altitude changed from 23,000 feet to 10,000 feet. At 17:14 and 35 seconds, the master caution activated for three seconds. At 17:16 and 56 seconds, the aircraft began a left turn from 121 degrees. The altitude was approximately 10,120 feet.
At 17:17, the aircraft descended below 10,000 feet. At 17:18 and 5 seconds, the aircraft altitude was approximately 9,050 feet and the air speed were 271 knots. The cabin altitude greater than 10,000 feet warning deactivated. The cabin pressure was 10.48 PSI. At 17:26 and 46 seconds, the aircraft landed on runway 28 left at Portland International Airport.
Now, the survival factors team interviewed the remaining two flight attendants, one from the aft of the aircraft and one from forward. Their interview and discussion were consistent with the interviews of the other two flight attendants. They also reported pretty significant crew communication challenges during the event.
They didn't know what was occurring. They were certainly concerned, they stated, about the four unaccompanied minors, and their focus was on them and the three lap children at the time.
The two flight attendants in the aft outboard seats in the aft galley had difficulty seeing what was going on in the cabin and in the aisle. It's very difficult from that location to see anything. There is a very, very small mirror provided to look down the aisle. It's not sufficient. So, it's very difficult for them to see.
The flight attendants mentioned that the communication was so poor that they felt like they really needed guidance and information, and it was -- it was pretty terrifying event.
Now, with that said, I know that a lot of media is reaching out to the flight attendants. The interviews have been very emotional. This was a really significant event with zero information at the time. There's a lot of trauma that they are working through. It's going to be a long process. It was terrifying.
I would ask, the NTSB is asking, please give them that time. They are working with peer-to-peer counselors, and they just need that time to heal. And they have asked us to mention that in this media briefing, and I would really ask that you respect their wishes and give them that time to really begin to process what they experienced.
Now, the cockpit door, we found today that the cockpit door is designed to open during rapid decompression. It is designed to open during rapid decompression. However, no one among the flight crew knew that. They were not informed. So, Boeing is going to make some changes to the manual, which then hopefully will translate into procedures and information for the flight attendants and for the crew in the cockpit.
As far as the oxygen mask, that we weren't sure if it deployed or if it was stuck, it did deploy. We interviewed the passengers in that row and they had put the oxygen mask back up in the panel, which was the other thing we suspected, but it did deploy and was working.
Now, on to systems, our systems group focused on the cabin pressure control system on the aircraft. This is the auto pressurization light that illuminated, that we have gotten a lot of questions on. This system is designed as a triple redundant system with one primary cabin pressure controller. It's a computer system. There is a secondary cabin pressure controller. That's a secondary computer system. And then there's a manual controller.
So, there are -- it is a triple redundant system. That means that if the primary controller fails, the flight crew switches to the secondary controller. If that fails, they can switch to manual. Any one of these systems is fully capable of maintaining safe cabin pressurization. In fact, if either one of the computer systems is inoperative, the FAA allows the operator to continue flying the aircraft.
We have verified from the maintenance logs that the redundant system operated as designed on December 7th, January 3rd, and January 4th, going into the alt mode, not needing to go into the manual mode. At this time, we have no indication whatsoever that this correlated in any way to the expulsion of the door plug and the rapid decompression.
Now, the NTSB is very thorough, so we will go back and look at the flight data recorder, and we will get data on cabin pressure. We're also going to download the memory on the cabin pressure controllers. We may have to pull the units to see why it was acting up.
But at Boeing, we have asked Boeing for a specialist to arrive tomorrow to work through this so we can just go through the rest of it. But, again, no indication of any correlation between the two.
With respect to the ETOPS restriction, Alaska Airlines reported to the NTSB that their internal policy is to restrict aircraft with multiple maintenance write-ups for certain aircraft systems from flying ETOPS flights for a period of time. That's not required by the regulation. That is an extra step that Alaska Airlines put in place.
Now, ETOPS stands for Extended Twin Engine Operations. What that means is that ETOPS allow -- permits twin-engine airplanes to operate over a route that contains a point further than three hours flying time, three hours for this aircraft, from the nearest airport, and the restriction was put in place, per Alaska, as an extra step to ensure safety and to allow them to conduct maintenance.
As for the structures, we -- I want to start by thanking Bob, who all of the media successfully outed, but Bob apparently was a star with all his students today. I really want to thank the community overall. I can't thank you enough. Every time the NTSB asks for help, every single time, the community pulls through. I just want to say thank you to everyone. I especially want to say thank you to Bob. I'm sure he was a hit at school today. So that's very exciting.
We did go out at 7:00 a.m. this morning to retrieve the door plug. We are still looking for the bottom hinge fitting and a spring. It's a pretty large spring. The fitting is a green circular piece with a hole in it. It's not key to the investigation. This is not something that's key to us determining anything or ruling out anything. We're just fine. But it's always nice to have some of the pieces if you find it. If anyone does, please call NTSB.
Please email us at witness at NTSB.gov or contact local law enforcement. Again, I want to thank local law enforcement and the FBI for helping us also look throughout the early stages of our investigation. I will mention that community members also --
COATES: We've just been hearing from the NTSB as they've given a conference, a press conference on what we have learned so far. They have detailed a lot of information about what we now know from the flight data recorder, also the systems operations involving -- what sort of system they would have had in place to inform them of reduced cabin pressure. It was a redundant system to tell them that if one failed, the other also would kick in.
There's a lot of flight attendants who have been interviewed. They're very emotional right now, understandably, about the traumatic and what they call a terrifying and significant event. They are obviously trying to work through what they saw. They had very little and poor crew communications at that time, unable to see down the aisle of the aircraft. They were very focused. We're learning now on the four, four unaccompanied minors who were on this aircraft, including also there were three lap children they were very concerned with about.
COATES: The cockpit door we also learned today was, in fact, designed, was designed to actually open during a rapid decompression in the actual aircraft. Unfortunately, no one on the flight crew was aware of that. So, it added to the trauma and the terrifying experience of what they saw during that event. The oxygen did deploy and was, in fact, functioning. And we're learning more about this redundant system.
And I want to turn to our panel right now to walk through a lot of this very important information. CNN transportation analyst and former inspector general for the Department of Transportation, Mary Schiavo. Also, Dennis Tajer. He is the spokesperson for Allied Pilots. He has been flying for American Airlines for 30 years. Also here is Miles O'Brien, CNN's aerospace analyst.
Thank you all for being here. We're learning a lot about what they just walked through. Let me begin with you here, Mary. The NTSB chair, walking through the play-by-play of how it all unfolded, going through the actual flight data recorder, talk about the cabin pressure, the knot speed, the altitude, the master caution warnings, all that she talked about. What stood out to you?
MARY SCHIAVO, CNN TRANSPORTATION ANALYST: I think what's out to me is the, you know, the consistency of the flight. It was at 271 knots for about 310 miles an hour for it. You know, it got to approximately 1,500 feet when something started happening. You know, that altitude is very significant because there are FA regulations that say that that altitude, that's the altitude that the plane is presumed that people can survive. Plane is supposed to be able to correct to that altitude. So, that was significant.
But, you know, it would have been good. We understand that there was a problem. The circuit breakers weren't pulled. It would have been good to have the cockpit voice recorder to go along with that. But since the pilots and everyone else on board survived, they will simply discontinue to interview them for the additional information that would have been on the cockpit voice recorder, had it not been recorded over.
COATES: Mary, at that point, were you thinking that you'd learn something additional other than an in-person or otherwise interview? What would that cockpit recorder have been able to suggest or tell you that you couldn't have in an interview setting?
SCHIAVO: Well, sometimes, there are additional sounds captured on the cockpit voice recorder that the flight crew doesn't recall. Sometimes, there are sounds of equipment and things that are occurring, turning on and off. You know, sometimes, it's just the warning signals that's on there.
But in this case, like I said, they often, in an accident scenario, they don't have everyone still alive and able to tell them what happened, so they're fortunate here for that.
But you're just looking for sounds in the cockpit or things that may not be otherwise captured in the investigation phase, and this has also been a sore point for some time with the United States National Transportation Safety Board because European countries do require that to be 25 hours on newer plane models, and in the United States, it's two hours.
COATES: I mean, Dennis, I have to tell you, I'm a little surprised every time I hear this data. I mean, one would think if a door or a part of a plane blows off for whatever reason, one would override the ultimate two hour or however many windows, you would want to have that data and recording preserved, but it's apparently not there.
Dennis, the chair said that the flight attendants and crew did not know what to expect in that situation, that Boeing will be working on informing personnel going forward.
Why wouldn't they know as part of their overall training and being on these aircrafts they're so familiar with, and how long could it take to get them up to speed?
DENNIS TAJER, SPOKESMAN, ALLIED PILOTS: Well, they know what to do. A rapid depressurization, we rehearse frequently in the simulator. So, what you have to get into is get into the cockpit right now. When you have a rapid depressurization, the physiological effects are dramatic. They're violent. Imagine that door blowing open. Yeah, Boeing didn't tell us that it blows open.
But I can guarantee you, the pilots are also -- these are memory items as well. We're reaching down for our mask, a very large mask that squeezes over the face. It's something we practice, but it's another level of disorientation for the execution of getting that airplane to stop climbing because now you're executing an emergency descent checklist, and that means getting the airplane down to where the human beings can survive without the oxygen.
I cannot say enough about these pilots' quick action and the violence that occurred when that airplane rapid depressurization occurred. I mean, it ripped shirts off of some passengers. These pilots focus on the main procedure and that's to get the airplane descending down, down to that 10,000-foot mark at a minimum, so that when the passengers came off the oxygen, because that oxygen is not infinite --
TAJER: -- they would be able to survive.
TAJER: So, this was an actual great story about trained professionals. Now, flight attendants not knowing what's going on, they're sitting in back, I understand that. This is a thing that happens in seconds. The people who needed to react in seconds did, and those pilots did, and they'll be able to get all the details from them.
So, getting locked up in a minutia of a recording and all the checklists that had to be done, I can guarantee you, nothing is done with the malice intent of hiding anything. So, these are heroes today. And right now, we have a lot of questions for Boeing.
TAJER: How in the heck did this happen?
COATES: Miles -- I mean, you're absolutely right. Miles, thinking about -- and we heard from the NTSB chair. They're looking for a bottom hinge fitting, a spring, which they say is not key to the investigation. They just want to have all the pieces. I mean, thank goodness no one was hurt. Thank God that nobody was tragically injured or killed on this aircraft.
But this could have been extraordinarily bad. I'm wondering, after you have listened to what you just heard, what is your confidence level in terms of what could have caused this to happen and can it be quickly addressed? People are getting ready to fly all over this country every single hour of the day, and they're now worried whether they're on that type of aircraft or otherwise.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Yeah, it's understandable, the worry. Laura, this one is going to be solved by looking at metal. You know, we can talk about the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder and the lights that illuminate on the pressurized system.
But ultimately, they're going to be looking at those bolts and those spring hinges, and they're going to be looking for what they call witness marks, which is to say damage evidence to see if a bolt or a knot sheared off or if there are missing pieces or if there's any evidence that a knot was screwed on and a little wire wasn't put through the bolt itself to ensure it doesn't loosen.
Basically, the way this door is rigged up, if those bolts are not in and locked in, it's kind of spring loaded almost like a mousetrap to be expelled from the aircraft if it gets jostled around. And so, I think the pieces are probably there or maybe they aren't there, and that's the key.
What might be missing is very important. And as we've heard earlier today from the "Associated Press," United has found some loose bolts in similar aircraft. So, it appears in Renton, Washington, when these fuselages were assembled, some bolts may not have been tightened properly or at least that seems to be where we're headed on this.
But it's still a little bit early to draw that conclusion. I do think we'll know, though, and I don't think, at the end of the day, people should feel particularly unsafe about this aircraft. There's no fundamental design flaw here. It appears they might have missed a step in the construction of the aircraft, and that's crucial.
COATES: Well, yes, the devil is certainly in the details. I mean, talk about trying to find a needle in a haystack, trying to assess whether the hinges and the bolts on these big aircrafts across the entire fleet have been handled appropriately.
Mary Schiavo, Dennis Tajer, Miles O'Brien, thank you all for helping us unpack all of this.
Well, President Biden was visiting the site of the 2015 racist massacre in South Carolina to warn about political violence. And he drew a direct comparison between today and the time of the Civil War.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The defeated Confederates couldn't accept the verdict of the war. They had lost. So, they say -- they embraced what's known as the Lost Cause, a self- serving lie that the Civil War is not about slavery.
There are some in this country trying to turn a loss into a lie. A lie which if allowed to live will once again bring terrible damage to this country. This time, the lie is about the 2020 election, the election which you made your voices heard and your power known.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: President Biden drawing a direct line from slavery, the Civil War and Jim Crow to the very divisions of today, seeking to rally Black supporters from the pulpit of the South's oldest African Methodist Episcopal Church, Mother Emanuel Church, the site of a racist mass shooting in 2015.
Let's talk about it now with Michael Eric Dyson, professor of African American and Diaspora Studies at Vanderbilt University. He is the co- author of "Unequal: A Story of America." Also here, Alan Jenkins, professor at practice at Harvard Law School. He is the co-author of the "1/6: The Graphic Novel" series. So glad to have both of you here today. It's so relevant to pick each of your minds and your brains this evening.
Michael, I'll begin with you. President Biden returning to the very state that catapulted him to the top of the democratic primary in 2020. Now, Nikki Haley is calling it offensive, that he even gave a speech, a political one, at this very location. But you call this "vengeance Biden." What do you say?
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, AUTHOR: Yeah. Well, I think that what Joe Biden understands is that it is necessary to link the past and the present, to talk about historical narratives, to speak about the way in which there are parallels between the attempt to engage in the manipulation of facts and history for the purposes of white supremacy then after the Civil War and what's going on now, the attempt to rewrite history, to pretend that slavery wasn't central.
It is interesting that the former governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley, who did an honorable act by removing the Confederate flag but only after the death of those nine people in that church, later saying she would have done something differently, has been wishy-washy and flipping from one side to the other in regard to her strong and declarative resistance to white supremacy and complicit with it.
The president was trying to do is to say, this is what we've got to do, tell the truth, understand history, root it in the facts of the case, and talk about it in ways that common human beings understand.
COATES: Well, Alan, to that point, I mean, he was not only talking about this in broad strokes from a 10,000-foot perspective, he also gave a litany of accomplishment that he has gotten done for the Black community. He talked about low Black unemployment.
He talked about appointing the first African American to sit on the Supreme Court. He has talked about pursuing other ways to provide student loan relief. He has gone from January 6th this past week to now talking about this from this particular vantage point. Frankly, a lot has happened in between. But do you see this approach as delivering the results that he wants?
ALAN JENKINS, PROFESSOR OF PRACTICE, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: Well, you know, I think it's a start. Really, you can't bring a PowerPoint to a culture war, and that's what we're in. And so, I think the strongest parts of this speech were when the president talked in terms of values of democracy and the truth and equal dignity and the idea that we're all created equal. He acknowledged that we've never fully achieved that value as a nation.
But those were strong words. I was gratified that he invoked white supremacy as a threat to democracy, although I wish he had unpacked that a little for people who may be are less familiar with the notion.
You know, I think that the kind of laundry list of accomplishments, they're important. You know, I think they have to be said and, you know, polling shows that a lot of voters aren't familiar with what the president has accomplished.
But I think that ultimately, that's not what's going to win the day. It's going to be the story, the narrative that he's conveying, the values in which he roots that, and the vision he has for America based on those values.
COATES: I do wonder if that will translate. You know, talking about the vision of America seems very forward thinking except that people are grappling with the present day of what is America, who is America, where will America be in all these aspects of it. So, it's curious as to all the candidates, frankly, up and down a ballot, how they approach this very important question.
You know, Michael, the president's speech didn't go off without a hitch. He was just starting, of course, when this happened. listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Ceasefire now!
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Ceasefire now! Ceasefire now!
BIDEN: That's all right. That's all right. That's all right.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Ceasefire now!
CROWD: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Now, obviously, you've heard the four more years, but also the ceasefire chants. But I was really honed in to this particular moment. And this -- you might not have heard specifically what preceded those ceasefire chants. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN (voice-over): If you really care about the lives lost here, then you should honor the lives lost and call for a ceasefire in Palestine.
UNKNOWN: Ceasefire now!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: So, they're going right to this notion of what the idea of if you care about your faith, if you care about what's happening, if you care about the principle you're talking about today. You know, this is a challenge that President Biden is going to have to face, Michael, in terms of even within his own democratic base, about what's happening overseas and what has happened here at home.
How do you resolve that tension if you're Biden?
DYSON: Yeah, well, as my colleague said, you may not be able to bring a, you know, a point to the --
COATES: The PowerPoint to a culture war. I love that line.
DYSON: But you can darn sure bring the soundtrack to a protest. And so, the reality is that Joe Biden has to play a different song. He has to narrate his story and his truth by saying, look, first of all, permit people to say what they got to say. Don't try to shut them down.
It is difficult in this time of crisis when people have been drawing parallels that have been long established between African-American struggle here in this nation and oppression of other people around the world, people of color, and in this case, specifically Palestinian people.
COATES: Well, Alan, do you risk the conflation? That's the concern I think Michael is alluding to. If you're political, you're trying to talk essentially the political soundbites and trying to appeal to the widest audience. You risk the conflation aspect of it.
JENKINS: Well, I think when you articulate a set of values, you're going to be held accountable for those values and, you know, that's where the rubber hits the road. I think it's also the case that, especially with young Black voters, they're looking for transformative change, not tinkering -- not just tinkering around the edges.
So, you know, it is important that Biden is trying to do loan forgiveness. The conservatives and the Supreme Court have stood in his way. But what's his vision for everyone to be able to afford to go to college into the future? You know, it's important that he has reduced the prices of prescription drugs. But what about making healthcare a human right?
I think, you know, voters don't -- voters understand that we're in a difficult political moment. They're not necessarily expecting the president to deliver on every aspect of his values. But he has to articulate a broad vision that would eventually achieve those values if he's able to move forward unencumbered.
That's, I think, one of the things that was missing from this speech. Maybe he'll get there. We'll see.
COATES: Well, we'll have to -- in any event, everything has got to be more than lip service for a voter to really turn out and get off the couch. Michael Eric Dyson, Alan Jenkins, thank you so much, both of you.
DYSON: Thank you.
JENKINS: Thank you.
COATES: Well, there's some breaking news. It's a big night from Michigan in the college football national championship. We'll break it all down for you next.
COATES: Well, look, someone had to lose their undefeated record tonight. The Michigan Wolverines are the new college football champs, beating the Washington Huskies 34 to 13 in a very intense game. It's also the Wolverines' first national championship win since 1997.
Let's talk with CNN contributor Cari Champion. Cari, I'm so glad that you're here. This is a huge win.
CARI CHAMPION, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's a huge win for Michigan. Just a quick recap, their season has not been easy. They have been battle- tested. They were accused of cheating, stealing signs from other opponents. The head coach, Harbaugh, was suspended for three games. They still went undefeated. And at the end of the day, they take home the biggest prize.
And now, I'd like to see what people have to say because Michigan, for some reason, has that Yankees feel to them, the Los Angeles Lakers feel to them. Teams just love to hate them. And they did it all.
COATES: Well, they did it all, and they did it well.
COATES: And decisively tonight, thinking of another league, though, the NBA, Draymond Green came back. He had been suspended for, what, 12 games?
CHAMPION: Yep. He came back. It's interesting because he has a podcast. I already know his future will be doing what we are doing. He'll be sitting across from you explaining to you why he's so great. But --
-- on his podcast, he was very honest, and he talked about how, during the suspension, he thought about retiring. And the commissioner of the league, Adam Silver, had to tell him, guess what? You're making a rash decision, do not retire, there's still so much more for you to do.
However, and I know Draymond very well and I'll say this, a lot of the issues he was dealing with were self-inflicted. So, you can't say it's too much if you're not willing to take the responsibility. Too much is given, much is required. You don't get to make all this money and behave any kind of way and do whatever you want to do without people saying you're no longer allowed to behave that way.
You get a reputation. The narrative was already created that he was a bit of a bully, that he was not paying attention to the rules. I disagree with that. I think he's a great person. But I think sometimes, we all need a timeout, and that's what this was for him.
COATES: Well, this is our time out because the show is now over. Kari Champion, thank you.
CHAMPION: No. Too soon.
COATES: I know. I know, but it's a good time out. I got to tell you, thank you. We'll be right back after a little bit to a little bit more of the show.
CHAMPION: Thank you, Laura.
COATES: Thank you.
[23:57:30] COATES: We showed you earlier this hour the door plug that was ripped out of that Alaska Airlines flight and found in someone's backyard. Well, it wasn't just the door plug that was strewn across Portland. Someone actually thought an iPhone that appears to have fallen out of the plane.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN BATES, FOUND IPHONE FROM ALASKA AIRLINES PLANE: I found a phone sitting on the side of the road that had apparently fallen 16,000 feet. It was still pretty clean. No scratches on it. Sitting under a bush and it didn't have a screen lock on it. So, I opened it up, and it was an airplane mode with a travel confirmation and baggage claim for Alaska 1282.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Is that the most wild thing you have heard? Are you kidding me? I dropped my phone from the desk and it chatters, but fine. An NTSB spokeswoman tells CNN that they've since gotten the phone and they turned it over to Alaska Airlines. Thank you for watching. Our coverage continues.