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Laura Coates Live

Closing Arguments Wrap In Trump's New York Civil Fraud Trial; Laura Coates Interviews Shark Tank's Kevin O'Leary; U.S. Led Strikes Against Iran-Backed Houthis In Yemen; Hunter Biden Pleads Not Guilty To Federal Tax Charges. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired January 11, 2024 - 23:00   ET




LAURA COATES, CNN HOST AND SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Breaking news tonight, U.S.-led airstrikes tonight against Houthi rebels in Yemen. This video released by rebel-run Al-Masirah TV allegedly shows the moment of the bombardment in Yemen's capital. President Biden saying that he ordered the assault in response to unprecedented Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea. The strikes coming as the world tries to keep the Israel-Hamas war from spilling into a much wider conflict.

The latest from the region is coming up on CNN. But first, why do we keep giving Donald Trump exactly what he wants? Tonight on LAURA COATES LIVE.

Donald J. Trump got exactly what he wanted today -- and I mean again -- a giant megaphone to call the $370 million-dollar civil suit against him -- say it with me, we all know the phrase -- a witch hunt.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As you know, it is an unconstitutional witch hunt. It's election interference at the highest level.


COATES: Then, in the courtroom, right in front of the very judge who's going to decide just how much he has to pay -- I mean, again, this is not a jury trial. Know thy audience. He's talking to the person who's going to decide how much he's got to pay in his fraud case. So maybe you want to watch your words, saying -- quote -- "This was a political witch hunt. What's happened here, sir, is a fraud on me." And that's Donald Trump's closing argument. But will the buck or the $370 million bucks stop here?

Well, now, I want to bring in former Trump attorney, Michael Cohen. He is the host of the podcasts "Mea Culpa" and "Political Beatdown." He's also the author of "Revenge: How Donald Trump Weaponized the US Department of Justice Against His Critics."

Michael, thank you for joining me today. What a week and what a day it has already been.


It was today Trump speaking out during closing arguments, calling the prosecution a fraud, a witch hunt, things we've all heard before, despite, of course, the judge saying he needs to stick to only the facts. Then the judge ultimately telling Trump's attorney to control his client. I mean, talk about the drama. What did you --


-- think in those moments?

MICHAEL COHEN, PODCAST HOST, AUTHOR, FORMER DONALD TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: Look, I have never seen Donald look so preoccupied. I mean, he has the face of a defeated man on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I mean, it's why he blames everyone but himself for destroying his father's business.

And no matter how many times Alina Habba or Chris Kise or any of these others regurgitate his talking points or their denigration of me, the one thing that Donald knows is that the bill is coming and that he can't afford to pay it.

COATES: Well, they certainly mentioned you. I mean, Trump's lawyer is calling you.

COHEN: Yeah.

COATES: I think the phrase was a serial liar in court. They attacked your credibility. One would say, what else is new when it comes to this sort of thing? But what is your response to being so integral to this entire thing?

COHEN: Well, I don't really have a comment for it. I certainly didn't ask for it. I testified before the House Oversight Committee truthfully. The only thing that they can do, again, is to continue to denigrate me and try to impugn my credibility. So far, everything that I have said has turned out to be accurate.

This very much, like the Manhattan District attorney case, is predicated on documentary evidence as well as corroborating testimony, which they have. It's why I say that the bill is coming and he can't afford it.

What's going to happen in the criminal trial? Well, again, we have the same sort of documentary evidence and the corroborating testimony of others. And like this one, I believe that Donald Trump is going to find himself on the wrong side of the decision.

COATES: I mean, there is obviously the different standards. There's the beyond the reasonable doubt. Of course, the criminal context, a different standard here in the civil case. But you have a bench trial. It's not a jury, it's a bench trial. The judge we already know has been antagonized. He has tried to tell them to control this person. He has already found fraud. You know Trump's business dealings like really no one else.

So, what has been your response to the argument from Trump's lawyers that -- look, I mean, come on, no one was actually harmed here. There are no victims here in this alleged fraud. What do you say to that?

COHEN: Well, think of it no different than somebody goes into rob a bank, right, then they get spooked and they run.


They still are going to get charged with robbing or, you know, attempted robbery of a bank. What -- their argument, it's -- it's childish, to be honest with you, and it's not predicated on law.

It's basically an excuse which is exactly what Donald is good for. He's all about the excuse, make up whatever excuses that he can in order, you know, to try to convince who his, you know, his supporters that he's right, he's the victim, nobody else has been hurt.

The law is the law, he broke the law, and now he's going to be held accountable.

COATES: You have to wonder if that's what a deflection and trying to tell you, take this shiny bright object over here and focus on that instead of what's in front of me. It all goes down to, though -- I think so many people will think about Donald Trump. They'll think about very wealthy people, rhink about Washington, D.C. or New York or any other major area, and they'll think this must be how the rich operate. This kind of thing must be being done all the time.

That is certainly what he has been articulating and that what he has been doing was not in any way wrong. You've seen behind the scenes, the actions that were taken, the way in which he moves professionally. Is this in line with what he has always done in front of you?

COHEN: Well, again, we're in a totally different scenario now. When I was at the Trump Corporation, remember, I was there for over a decade --

COATES: Uh-hmm.

COHEN: -- Donald Trump wasn't president of the United States. The decisions that he made only affected the Trump Corporation and those of us that were employed by it. Now, the things that he's doing affects not just the United States of America and all of its citizens but it affects the world as well. It is a totally different ballgame.

And the fact that he is now being held accountable for the issues or the crimes that have been alleged, it's not accurate when he tries to say, well, everybody does it. I mean, again, it's pure deflection from Donald. It's him once again trying to be the victim and to portray himself as the victim of -- this is the best part -- the Biden witch hunt because now it's now the Biden witch hunt or it's the weaponization of the Justice Department by the Biden administration.

It is pure deflection. It is exactly what Donald Trump did when he was president. It's what he says he's going to do when he, or if God forbid, he becomes president again. He is going to weaponize the Justice Department to go against any critic of him or his political enemies.

COATES: I have to ask you, Michael, before we go to -- you know, he has gotten off the campaign trail to be seen at these different court hearings, whether it's the Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. You and I know. I mean, you're a lawyer. You know full well that most defendants are not going to go to the actual Court of Appeals argument in instances like this. Trial, very different.

But he made a point of being there. He has made a point of showing up in New York for this A.G. civil fraud trial. What do you think is his strategy? Is it all about the, look, I'm here, I will confront this, I'm not afraid, or is it just another campaign stop for him? What do you make of his decision to keep doing it?

COHEN: It's a combination of both, Laura. First of all, it's a projection of strength that he's trying to demonstrate. He knows that he's weak. And so, when you're weak, you want to project strength. I'm not afraid. I'm going to stand up to Judge Engoron. No, you're not. You are a defendant in a case sitting at the defendant's table.

Trust me, I know what it feels like, which is why I said that Donald is extremely preoccupied in his head right now and looks like he's on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

COATES: Michael Cohen, thank you so much.

COHEN: It's always good to see you.

COATES: Well, now, I want to bring in former Trump attorney, Tim Parlatore. Tim, thank you for being here. I mean, first of all, again, what a week, what a day. Some thought that he was -- there was some word that he might do more speaking today inside the courtroom, which we -- I'm sure you and I agree, the notion of a defendant speaking in that context is highly problematic.

But what's even more problematic to me is there wasn't a whole lot of conversation about the damages. I mean, that's what the judge is going to decide on, not whether it was fraudulent. He has already done that.


COATES: Now, it's about how much it's going to cost you, the penalties here, the penalties in this case. Why weren't they spending more time focused on what the range that A.G. Lynch (ph) -- Letitia James, excuse me, was speaking about?


PARLATORE: You know, I think that, you know, the difference, you know, whether you're talking 240 or, you know, 360 or whatever, ultimately, those are figures that are so far outside the bounds of what is going to be collectible anyway, so it doesn't really matter as much. I think that what they're looking to do is to really build a record on appeal.

And so, I think the more that he's antagonizing the judge to where the judge maybe makes more mistakes in his decision, I mean, one thing is for certain, you can't claim that he didn't preserve these issues for the appeal. I mean, he has raised all these objections, you know, to the witch hunt and everything else.

COATES: Because if you don't -- if you don't bite that apple --


COATES: -- at trial, forget it --


COATES: -- an appeal. You can't raise those issues. You have to have said it in the court for it to be addressed. But talk to me more about that part, about the actual penalties. Why are they so pie in the sky to you in terms of being able to be collected or actually ruled on that would stick?

PARLATORE: Well, I mean, I think that ultimately, what we're talking about is penalties that are essentially going to be taking the buildings away. You know, it's going to be shutting down the corporation entirely. And, you know, once you liquidate all those assets, are there going to be enough really to even satisfy the judgment? Yeah, I don't know the answer to that. And so --

COATES: But they do have people who get judgments against them, whose, you know, bank accounts don't seem to support that. Maybe hear about all sorts of high penalties, even in other cases involving damages, thinking about Alex Jones, for example. Rudy Giuliani as one other example. Is that -- is that, for the audience, is that the decision about what you can afford and then I set the price?

PARLATORE: Once you get above a certain amount -- I mean, really, damages are supposed to be tied to what was the actual loss here. And so, here, you really should go to Deutsche Bank and say how much did they actually lose, you know, through this loan that they gave. Do they got paid back on?

COATES: They would say nothing.

PARLATORE: Right. Exactly.

COATES: That's Donald Trump's claim --


COATES: -- that there was no victim here.

PARLATORE: Exactly. And so that's why, you know, you very easily could say that the damage is here and therefore the judgment is zero. When you get into numbers like this, a lot of times, that's more of a statement than it is an actual legal judgment. You know, it's sending a message of, you know, we don't like this type of behavior and that's why you're going to have this type of high judgment.

Same thing with the Giuliani judgment. I mean, that's a number that you don't normally see in any defamation case. I don't think that they would have been able to show, you know, a specific monetary loss of that amount.

But juries and judges, they will sometimes give those higher amounts, you know, more as a message. And then is that something that's going to withstand an appeal? I mean, when you think about it, Chris Kise --

COATES: The attorney.

PARLATORE: -- the attorney, he's not a trial attorney, he's an appellate attorney. And so, one of the reasons why he's there is probably just to prep this case for an appeal.

COATES: Well, talk to me about -- I mean, the counsel that's there. Who is, do you think, you've been his attorney before, who is controlling this? I mean, is the dog wagging the tail or the tail wagging the dog?

PARLATORE: You know, when it comes to this case, I think that in large respect, it has been kind of unled for a while. I mean, I know earlier on, Ronald Fischetti was on it. He was handling it appropriately. Of course, he unfortunately passed away. But with Alina Habba handling discovery, you know, that's not, you know, something where I think anybody was really at the wheel.

And so now you get into this trial where it does seem to me to be kind of a combination of building a record for the appeal and putting out things into the media that are helpful to the campaign.

COATES: The court of public opinion versus the appellate court.


COATES: Doesn't seem like a lot of focus on the actual trial judge. That's why --

PARLATORE: Exactly. There's nothing that I've seen that indicates that they are trying to convince this trial judge to rule in their favor. If anything, it seems like they're trying to convince this trial judge to get so mad that he makes bigger mistakes for the appeal.

COATES: Hopefully, it's not his first time at the rodeo, and being poked as the bear will still lead to a cooler head prevailing. Thank you so much, Tim Parlatore.

You know, the judge, as I mentioned, he has already found Trump liable for fraud in this case. But the question still comes for so many of us asking, is all of this normal, so to speak, in business? I'm going to ask an expert. Shark Tank's Kevin O'Leary, he's next.

And still to come, the U.S. and allies attacking Houthi targets in Yemen. What will it mean that President Biden is getting in deeper in the Arab world as the Israel-Hamas war rages on?




COATES: Well, the multimillion-dollar question tonight, will Donald Trump be barred from New York's luxury real estate business and forced to pay perhaps $370 million for falsifying financial records?

Here to break it all down and what's at stake, Shark Tank judge and chairman of O'Leary Ventures, some call him "Mr. Wonderful," we'll call him Kevin O'Leary tonight. Kevin, thank you so much for being here today.

I have to ask you, I mean, look, some people look at all this and they say, is this what happens in business? What Trump has said he has done or is accused of being done? You've been doing real estate for decades. Does this case strike you as odd?

KEVIN O'LEARY, CHAIRMAN, O'LEARY VENTURES: Well, let's leave out Trump for a minute and let's leave out politics and just talk about what happens in real estate development anywhere.


So, if you're a developer and you've got a building on a block anywhere in America and it's worth, let's say, $500 million and you want to build a building right beside it, you go to the bank and say, this building is worth $500 million, I'd like to borrow a construction finance loan against this asset, and I want you to tell me it's worth 500 million, too. The bank negotiates with you and says, well, no, we think it's worth $400 million, and you fight it out.

You're always trying to show your assets in the brightest light with the sunshine you can possibly determine for them. You want them to be worth the very most because you're only going to get a 40$ or 50% loan to value, as it's called. Then you borrow that money. In the case of a $500-million asset, maybe you get $250 million, and you build a new building with a construction finance loan.

And so, that's what this case is all about. And by the way, forget about Trump. Every single real estate developer everywhere on earth does this. They always talk about their asset being worth a lot, and the bank says no. That's just the way it is.

So, in this case, what I'm trying to figure out, and I'm not pro or con, I don't care about the politics, who lost money? Nobody. The bank got paid back the construction finance loan and a new building was built. And if you're going to sue this case and win, you've got to sue every real estate developer everywhere. This is all they do. This is what they do all day long, every day.

So, I don't think this thing will ever survive appeal, regardless of what the fine is. This doesn't even make sense. Now, look, I know Trump has got a lot of problems in other indictments and everything else, but this -- if you're a real estate developer, you're watching this, you're saying, what is this? This is ridiculous.

COATES: Well, you know, the thing is, most people who are in this world are not real estate developers, and they necessarily don't know that this is the way maybe things are done, even if it might be violated of the law.

But the question about who loses money, and I've heard this argument, he has raised this argument, others have raised this argument, that who's the real victim here? How about the fact that you can get a tax benefit for having overvalued or having a different value that's actually normal? Doesn't that deprive the state of revenue? Is that enough, do you think?


I know you're laughing. This is -- rich people problems are very different than my world. Go ahead.


O'LEARY: I mean, I get it. I get it. I totally get it, and you're making a valid point. But it's humorous in the sense that you have to sue every single real estate developer here in Miami, in Chicago, in Los Angeles, in Detroit, in Dallas. This is what they do every day. This is what the real estate game is all about. It's getting construction financing against stabilized assets.

When a building is fully leased out and everybody is renting it and you've got offices or you've got apartments in it, it's called a stable asset. You value it and you go to the bank and say, this asset is worth $500 million and I want to borrow $250 million against it, and the bank always negotiates with you. Everybody understands how this works.

That is why I think it's going to be very, very hard to make this stick in reality later. This is not -- of all the things that Trump's being accused of and being litigated for and indicted for, this is not his problem. This is not his problem. He's got much worse problems than this. This is, for real estate developers, this is a joke.

COATES: It's fascinating to me to hear this perspective because you don't often hear it from that particular angle. And, of course, you wonder, if everyone is doing it and one would have to sue everybody, does that mean that they got to have a bigger prosecutor's office or that the laws have to change to make it -- I mean, you cannot do like -- what is the solution here? You get punished for it or you shouldn't do it or you know what, it should be okay?

O'LEARY: The first question, is everybody doing it in real estate? Yes, everybody is doing it, not only domestically, all around the world. This is how it works. Okay?

Now, you don't want to be Donald Trump and get embroiled in what looks like -- I mean, it looks to me in this presidential race, and I'm not in favor of this, that the courts are being used to try and sway voters on both sides of the equation.

I don't understand why we're trying to, you know, impeach Biden. What a waste of time. And his son and all this stuff, and all of this litigation on Trump, hasn't moved the needle for either of these candidates.

People don't care about this noise anymore. And it's obvious, when you look at these poll results. And so why keep doing it? I mean, let the voters vote and decide on the merits of both.

I'd rather hear policy. I'd rather not hear about Trump's real estate woes in New York. I'd like to hear his tax plan.


I want to hear about security at the border. I'd like to hear foreign policy from both of these candidates so I can make decision as a voter on which of these people should be president.

And the rest of this stuff is just horrific noise. When in America do we sue sitting presidents and former presidents? We've never done this before. This is really bad for the American brand. This is kind of -- it feels like Venezuela to me or something. This is nuts.

I'd rather -- we're so close to the election, we're months away. Let's talk policy. Give me some meat on the bone. This stuff is getting too crazy.

COATES: Oh, bless your heart, Mr. Wonderful. You want to know the policy and politics. Huh, what a Washington D.C. that would be. That would be wonderful, wouldn't it? Nice to see you. Thank you so much. I really appreciate --

O'LEARY: Thank you.

COATES: -- hearing your perspective because, you know, I lean into it, Mr. Wonderful. Thank you so much.

Up next, a big escalation in the Middle East. The United States and its allies launching airstrikes against Iran-backed militants in Yemen. Will it lead to a wider war? We'll break it all down. We're going to the magic wall. You see Cedric Leighton. The Colonel is there.




COATES: Breaking news tonight, U.S.-led airstrikes against multiple Houthi targets in Yemen. President Biden tonight calling this a direct response to unprecedented attacks by the Houthis against international ships in the Red Sea. Biden warning the U.S. will not hesitate to take further action to protect international commerce. Here now to discuss what these stakes really mean, CNN military analyst, retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton. I'm so glad that you're here. I want to start with the basics for a second because everyone does not have the same level of familiarity as you do in your expertise. Who are the Houthis we're talking about?

CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST, RETIRED AIR FORCE COLONEL: Yeah, Laura, this is, I think, really important because the Houthis are a group that actually is -- some people think of them as an ethnic group. They're not really an ethnic group, but they are an Iran-backed rebel group in Yemen.

They have a leader who emerged in the 1990s out of the Yemeni civil war at that time. They've controlled basically two-thirds or so of the country in the northern part and the western part of the country. So, they've taken that over from the central government. So, you almost have to look at them as if they're a quasi-governmental organization. They belong to a branch of Shia Islam and, like I said, they control most of northern and actually western Yemen as well.

COATES: Give me the area we're talking about, this Red Sea region.

LEIGHTON: So, this is right here. This is what we're talking about. This is the part of Yemen that they generally control right in here, mainly in the northern area and in the western area right here, especially around the port of Al-Hudaydah and the capital of Sana'a.

These are the areas that they really take a large measure in because what they're doing is they're using the mountainous terrain to cover a lot of what they do. They're also using it in order to launch attacks right across here.

What we're talking about here is the Bab al-Mandab Strait. It's a very narrow area, about 20 or 25 miles wide, where all the shipping goes through between the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean and, of course, it goes on up to the Suez Canal.

COATES: So, where they are is a very strategic area in terms of international commerce coming through shipping and beyond. This is a very important area.

LEIGHTON: Exactly. You know what, Laura, they've got about 12% of all international trade, goes right through here, and that's why it's so critically important and that's why it has become so important for the U.S. and its allies to really make sure that none of this commerce is interrupted.

COATES: Let's talk about some of the targets here at issue. I mean, where has this strike hit?

LEIGHTON: So, what they've done is they've gone through and they've looked at what the, from an intelligence perspective, what the Houthis are using.

So, they go after the radar systems, their drone storage and launch sites, their ballistic missile storage and launch sites, as well as their cruise missile storage and launch sites. They've got all of these kinds of weapons.

They've used all of these weapons to go after the shipping in the Red Sea area and the Bab al-Mandab Strait, and that's why these were the targets that they struck in the strike this evening.

COATES: What did we use as assets and weapons to do so?

LEIGHTON: So, what we used are these. They're basically based on the USS Eisenhower carrier strike group. We had fighter jets, FAA-18s. The British brought their own jets. We used a submarine, the USS Florida, to launch a Tomahawk missile.

And we used those missiles to strike very precisely at those targets that we mentioned earlier because these are the kinds of weapons that we use to project our power whenever we want to ensure that we can move commerce from one point to another, when we want to protect that commerce, and also when we want to protect our own military assets.

COATES: Strikes me as a very coordinated attack. This is not a knee- jerk reaction done inside of the day.

LEIGHTON: No, this was something that was thoroughly planned, executed like a ballet, and it moved in a way that was done under very precise timing conditions and very well-orchestrated by the naval commanders in that region.

COATES: It's really and so important to think about and just going back to this area and how strategic it really is. Thank you so much for your expertise. You broke it down really well. Thank you.

The question, of course, is what could these strikes mean for President Biden who you know is already facing a lot of pressure over the war between Israel and Hamas. We'll talk about it next.




COATES: Breaking news, U.S. and coalition forces hit more than 60, 6- 0 targets at 16 Houthi militant locations in Yemen tonight. That, according to U.S. Air Force's central commander.

I want to dive in now with CNN political commentator Karen Finney. Also, here is Mike Leon, host of the "Can We Please Talk?" podcast. So, Mike, can we please talk for a second about that? I like it. Can we please talk for a second about that?

MIKE LEON, PODCAST HOST: I love the way you say it.

COATES: I like it. "Can We Please Talk? Let me ask you both. There's already a lot of pressure mounting even tonight when it comes to the decision to have launched these strikes. You have a number of some progressive House Democrats who are pushing back. There was no congressional approval. This is already one of several different wars or several different military actions we are involved in. What do you say about the impact on Biden's decision?


KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, I think the situation clearly, just from what we know so far, was getting out of control in terms of the attacks. You know, the issues around some of the shipping routes and the danger.

And look, I think Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, in his trip, was actually trying to say, let's not let this get out of control, let's not let this spread. Obviously, it seems that was not going to be an option, unfortunately.

I think the president had to take decisive action, and particularly having built a coalition, I think that's the other important factor here, that other countries were engaged in this action with us.

COATES: Yeah, you think about it. We offer (ph), obviously, an election year. I'm sure you guys realize. Here we are, 299 -- I know, it's a surprising thing, 299 days away. You think about it. He's going to be the commander-in-chief, right?

FINNEY: Right.

COATES: That's just one of those moments of the commander-in-chief and part of that role. It's not just kissing babies and going to pancake breakfast and pardoning turkeys. There's a lot to the president of the United States.

And yet, right now, we're in the midst of really a focus on the Republican candidates because the Iowa caucus is coming up. When you look at this, this is clearly going to be part of the discussions that they've mentioned and they might go on attack.

LEON: Hundred percent, they're going to go on attack. I can already see the Fox News panels that are already being set up. But forget about my former employer for a second. If you think about the messaging standpoint of this, first the secretary of defense is hospitalized, we wish him well, but kind of speaks to where is President Biden involved in all this, that he's not communicating with his secretary of defense.

You've heard Nikki Haley say that a bunch in the debates. She keeps bringing this up. This attack without the approval of Congress, another talking point that they can start to hammer home as they get through.

I know we're going to talk about a little bit in the campaign trails and stuff like that, but these next 10 days are very pivotal. January 24th, we're all going to wake up and be like, okay, now we know what's going to happen on the GOP side.

It doesn't help that the president has these two wars, we're not involved in them militarily, but these two wars, these couple of actions over the last couple of weeks, it's not helping. Joe, it's not helping. COATES: Can we talk about that?

LEON: Yeah.


COATES: Let's talk about that.

LEON: Keep promoting the pod. There you go.

COATES: On that point, I mean, we are going to know pretty soon --

FINNEY: No, we won't.

COATES: Oh, we're not --


COATES: Oh, oh.

LEON: You don't think by January 24th --

FINNEY: I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry.

LEON: Yeah.

FINNEY: It's shades of 2016. Having run against Donald Trump, let's just -- all these people who are like, oh, conventional wisdom says, I keep looking like, are you crazy? Have you paid attention when Donald Trump is in the race?

COATES: I think his point, though, is we're going to know the Iowa caucuses in New Hampshire, will consider that.

LEON: Well, let me tell you --

FINNEY: But that's not the whole shebang. We're going to know, thank God, we'll probably be done with Ramaswamy.

LEON: Right. Right.

FINNEY: I'll take that.

LEON: Oh, yes. Yeah. Him saying that he's not going to be on the ballot in Colorado, I was like, my man, you're not making it to New Hampshire. Let's slow down. But the biggest thing is, in all seriousness, there was a Fox News poll, December 18th, would you caucus for Donald Trump? Eighty-three percent said yes. Eighty-three percent, Karen. I'm not a math major.

FINNEY: I feel you. I feel you.

LEON: So, if he wins Iowa, where DeSantis has spent $150 million, according to Nikki Haley yesterday, you can go to to check it all out --


-- she spent all that money. She spent $15 million in December. He's putting all his chips in the basket, DeSantis, for Iowa. He doesn't win, when he finishes in third, when he finishes in third, and Trump wins, now we're going to go to New Hampshire. We're going to know by the 24th. I think we're going to know by the 24th.

COATES: Nikki Haley is doing better in New Hampshire, though, right? And she has --

LEON: She is.

COATES: -- after that, South Carolina which, of course, she was the governor of that state.

FINNEY: Well, so a couple of things, though. Let's just kind of pull out to the big table here. So, you're right. With DeSantis, if he doesn't do well in Iowa, very hard to make a case to donors to continue to support him to keep it going. I think, ultimately, that was part of what Chris Christie was facing.

LEON: Right.

FINNEY: Nikki Haley, on the other hand, if she does well for second place in Iowa, does well in New Hampshire, I think the big question will be, if Trump beats her in South Carolina, I think that's very problematic for her. At the same time, it does seem that she is galvanizing donor support. There has been some.

So, I think what that means is she could try to stay in. Trump is trying to lock this thing up by Super Tuesday in March. He has done some things in California by working behind the scenes to change the rules so that it is winner take all instead of proportional. He has done some things in Nevada, working the rules to make it so that Ron DeSantis is -- Super PAC couldn't. So, he's kind of working.

At the same time, we do still have these legal cases unfolding, and we don't yet know -- really, the Jack Smith case is going to be the one. We don't know what's going to come out of that and how we're going to feel about it, even moderate voters and independent voters.

COATES: Well, that was the focus of Chris Christie's campaign in many respects. Those counts, those indictments, those criminal charges. He's now out of the race. Does him getting out of the race help Nikki Haley or DeSantis?

LEON: Well -- I mean, we saw the CNN poll. John King posted it recently on his Instagram page. About 64% would say that they would vote for Nikki Haley.


So, I think clearly -- I'm not going to do this math thing where it's 39% to 32% based on a poll. So, he leaves. He's got 12. Twelve plus 2, come on.

COATES: Carry the one.

LEON: Carry the one. Hopefully, hopefully, they go to him. But the reason, I think, you know, and to push back a little bit on it, so we've got Iowa coming up, we're going to know how Republican voters feel in Iowa. We already know.

FINNEY: Evangelical Republican voters.

LEON: Evangelical voters. Great point. Okay.

FINNEY: Just saying.

LEON: Now, New Hampshire, more moderate, independent, libertarian, whatever they want to cloak it in word-wise, then we got Nevada, then we got South Carolina. So, we've got four pivotal points. I think by January 27th, I think we will truly know that Donald Trump will clearly run away with this or Donald Trump has got some competition and it's in the form of Nikki Haley. I think that's going to play better for her for South Carolina.

If you remember, John Kasich won Ohio.


LEON: Right? I know, I don't want to bring up John Kasich.

FINNEY: No, no, I'm just saying.

LEON: But you had folks that were representatives of those states or governors of those states. They won those states. So, you hope --

FINNEY: But none of them were facing multiple criminal indictments for, I don't know, trying to overthrow the government. Just saying it.

LEON: I agree.

COATES: America, you're welcome for the espresso martini.


That was Karen Finney and Mike Leon tonight. Did you enjoy that? That nightcap? That was wonderful. I agree. You're welcome.

Well, next, the other court appearance that happened today. Now, there's a date for Hunter Biden's trial on tax charges, plus a heated exchange that followed this comment from GOP Congresswoman Nancy Mace aimed right at Hunter Biden.


REP. NANCY MACE (R-SC): You are the epitome of white privilege, coming into the Oversight Committee, spitting in our face, ignoring a congressional subpoena to be deposed.





COATES: Tonight, Hunter Biden pleading not guilty to nine federal charges for allegedly failing to pay more than $1 million in taxes and filing fraudulent forms with the IRS. This follows his -- well, it was a surprise appearance on Capitol Hill this week.

Joining me now, Democratic Congresswoman Jasmine Crockett of Texas. She's a member of the House Oversight Committee. Congresswoman, thank you for being here tonight. I got to tell you, I have never seen someone so triggering to members of the House as Hunter Biden was yesterday. When he appeared, oh, my God, that was shocking.

REP. JASMINE CROCKETT (D-TX): Yeah. I mean, it was shocking for all of us but, definitely, the other side of the aisle kind of lost it, because they didn't know what to do, because we were having a markup on the fact that Hunter won't show up and Hunter showed up, and then they're like, wait a minute, wait a minute, we don't want to hear from him, that ain't the way we're going to do it. They just didn't know what to do.

COATES: That's so crazy to me. If you want to hear from him and he's there, you know, he is saying it has to be in public. What is he afraid of? Maybe you know with good reason because you're on this committee.

CROCKETT: Yeah, no, listen, you're a lawyer. So, you understand this, right? Like they want to hold him in contempt. And usually, when we're looking to hold someone in contempt, it's someone who is literally spitting in the face of a subpoena, right? It's someone who's completely trying to ignore it. And they've not tried to work with his team. He is under credit.

You just talked about it. He's got criminal charges pinning against him. You would think that a reasonable committee that was just looking for information would try to work with him and his attorneys to make sure that they're accommodating if they're just looking for the truth. But they're not.

What they want to do is say, hey, we conducted this deposition behind closed doors, and then go out and lie to the people like they normally do. And Hunter said, what we're not going to do is that. I will come in, I will testify under oath, but it has to be done in the light, in the public.

COATES: He doesn't want to be a political pawn.

CROCKETT: He doesn't.

COATES: But yet he is being in many respects put out there as a poster child of something that the Republicans want to use. What are they hoping to gain? CROCKETT: I don't know. I think that they just want to embarrass the president. I think that's all it's about because for them, everything is about this upcoming presidential election, and they're trying to do everything that they can to make it look as if Trump is this amazing person.

They talked about the fact that Trump's children came in. They didn't talk about the fact that half of Trump's children were actually a part of the administration. So, yeah, they needed to come in because not only are you his children, but you are appointed persons in the government, so you have a different duty than somebody that's just a president's child.

So, they don't know how to distinguish or they fail to want to be honest with the American people and distinguish. But, you know what? Listen, I just like to make things plain. I think that I made it very plain yesterday as to why no one in their right mind, in his position, would want to come in behind closed doors and trust them to be the upstanding members that we're used to having in Congress.

These are the same Republicans that have ousted their speaker who now has resigned. These are the same Republicans that can barely keep the government open. These are the same Republicans that haven't really passed any bills all session long.

COATES: Let me play you the voice of one Republican, Congresswoman Nancy Mace, who summed up her impression of Hunter Biden as one of white privilege. Listen to this.


MACE: You are the epitome of white privilege, coming into the Oversight Committee, spitting in our face, ignoring a congressional subpoena to be deposed.

CROCKETT: It was a spit in the face, at least of mine as a Black woman, for you to talk about what white privilege looks like, especially from that side of the aisle. And let me quote your now ousted speaker and what he had to say about the Republican Party and you all lack of diversity.


When you look at the Democrats, they actually look like America. When I look at my party, we look like the most restrictive country club in America.

MACE: I come from a district where Black men have been killed by law enforcement, tased to death in our jails, and I've stood with those Black families because I know the differences that they see day to day in their life, and I try to do the best that I can.




-- what's your reaction?

CROCKETT: Why didn't you play the part about Harriet Tubman?


COATES: There was not enough time to go into everything, congresswoman.

CROCKETT: She went to Harriet Tubman. Listen, I don't know what Nancy was doing. I don't know, but I don't expect Nancy Mace specifically to try to school somebody about white privilege. And if she wants to school someone about white privilege, she may need to talk to her colleagues on her side of the aisle and tell them what it looks like because she admitted that she would do things that the other members on the side of her aisle will not, telling you everything that you need to know.

Now, this isn't to say that Hunter does or doesn't have white privilege, but this is not the type of circumstance that we're looking at and we're saying that because it's not on that level.

And to sit there and say that when one of the few Black colleagues that she has on her side of the aisle was only sitting a few seats from her and knowing that we had so many amazing Black members on the other side of the aisle, to try to do that at that time was just wrong.

And it was really offensive, especially since we know that they have no interest in equity, they have no interest in looking out for anybody but old white men as it relates to the policies that they're pushing, whether it's pushing back on our freedoms as it relates to Repro, whether it's supporting the lack of DEI, whether it's supporting getting rid of affirmative action.

Don't talk to me about white privilege when this is what your party is up to.

COATES: I think you may have just given the definition of lip service. Thank you so much, Congresswoman Jasmine Crockett. A pleasure, truly.

And before we go, be sure to check out my appearance on Sophia Bush's "Work in Progress" podcast. You can listen whenever and wherever you get your podcasts. Thank you for watching. Our coverage continues.