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Laura Coates Live

Trump Likes Black People Because He Was Indicted; Judge Finalizes Judgment Amounting To $454 Million In Trump's Civil Fraud; American Fiction Actor And Oscar Nominee Jeffrey Wright Speaks To Laura Coates; Controversial Docuseries Of Wendy Williams To Push Through Despite Attempts To Block The Premiere. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired February 23, 2024 - 23:00   ET




LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR AND SR. LEGAL ANALYST: All right, you are never going to believe why Donald Trump thinks that black voters like him. Friday night on LAURA COATES LIVE.

It's been a crazy week and just when you think you've heard it all, tonight Donald Trump says this.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I got indicted for nothing, for something that is nothing. They were doing it because it's election interference. And then I got indicted a second time and a third time and a fourth time. And a lot of people said that that's why the black people like me because they have been hurt so badly and discriminated against and they actually viewed me as I'm being discriminated against.


COATES: Can you get more insulting? Do you really think that people like you because you were indicted because there is some suggestion that's being made here that people see themselves in you? He's just like me. I too have been indicted.

That discrimination and all that accompanies it can be reduced to what your experience has been. I guess stereotypes might be the new platform here. Forget a family man, forget a businessman, forget actual policies you might hold and want to put out into the universe.

No, you must like me because you too have had a run in with the law. Why isn't that the pitch for all voters, right? He has said that he is the outsider, the consummate outsider outside the establishment. Why is it that only appeals maybe or that's why black voters like you?

You cannot make this up, you realize. It's coming from a political frontrunner who's hoping to get more votes, not alienate voters. It tells you exactly what is wrong with where we are today. Earlier today, President Joe Biden's campaign made this statement calling Trump, well, the poster, the proud poster boy for modern racism.

Now, I'm going to let you decide whether he is in fact as advertised. That's up to you to make that conclusion or not. But what he is selling, he hopes black voters are buying. That they are a monolith, that they too face indictments, that they think of discrimination only as it relates to the cases perhaps against him. And that's enough for them.

And that is his final pitch in the wee small hours of the morning to voters, at least hours before the polls open in South Carolina. To which you have to say, what the Friday is this?

I want to bring in Nikki Haley's campaign manager, Betsy Ankeny. We've got a lot to get to, but first I want to talk about obviously your candidate, Nikki Haley, and who you support and of course the trajectory of her potential success in South Carolina. But I have to get your reaction to this suggestion that Trump made just moments ago at a rally, by the way, a rally where black people and many were in the audience that they liked him because he was indicted and that he is the poster child of discrimination as a result. What is your response to that?

BETSY ANKNEY, CAMPAIGN MANAGER, NIKKI HALEY'S 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Well, first, thank you for having me. And I think what you just showed is exactly why 70 percent of Americans do not want a Trump-Biden rematch.

This is just more of the same chaos, more of the same drama, more of the same baggage. And it's exactly why 70 percent of Americans want something different and want something new. And that's what Nikki Haley has to offer. So we are running through the tape here in South Carolina. Nikki is taking her message to every corner of the state. And I think what you just showed shows the fact that there's just more chaos and more of the same with both Trump and Biden.

COATES: As relates to President Biden, he made the statement to the campaign about the poster child comment about one Donald Trump. I do wonder what you make of the President of the United States making that statement and through his campaign, of course, against Donald Trump.

ANKNEY: I think it shows that Joe Biden does not want to run against Nikki Haley. I think he very much wants this very quickly to be a rematch against Trump. He beat him once, he can beat him again. And so I think that he's trying to focus all of his fire on Donald Trump right now because he wants this to quickly become a race between him and Trump.


But Nikki Haley is continuing to fight. We know that there is a better way. Joe Biden and the Democrats have said that Nikki Haley is their worst nightmare because they know that she can win. And so that's what we're focused on and that's what we're fighting for every day.

COATES: Let me ask you just while we're speaking about these comments tonight that have emerged really today and tonight about race, Nikki Haley has -- has had some difficulties with the race issue and answering questions in a variety of ways, particularly about the Civil War comment. I need not remind you of what that is. But I'm wondering, why do you think this continues to be top of mind for many voters as relates Nikki Haley and not what she is hoping they will focus on?

ANKNEY: So Nikki Haley is the daughter of Indian immigrants. She was the first female minority governor in the country, and she led the state of South Carolina through some very tough times. She brought down the Confederate flag.

And so I think that Nikki Haley understands more than anyone what these issues mean. And I think that she is someone who can unite the country the way that she united the state of South Carolina and really bring us together and move forward in a positive way, in a way that's focused on the future and a positive vision.

COATES: Well, you know, not to belabor the point, but that has been maybe your answer has been one that is much more resolving in some respects than she's been able to accomplish. We'll see how the voters judge that very notion from race to the actual race tomorrow, though. Let's talk about that, shall we? Because this is an opportunity for Nikki Haley to prove that she's got deeper support than what the polls say. And I'm -- I'm not someone who only looks at the polls. I want to know what the actual voters have to say. But the polls right now have her trailing by 35 points behind Trump.

I am wondering if there is concern in her campaign and with you tonight about that gap that the polls currently suggest, if that actually translates to the election and she doesn't take her own state. Can she stay in the race?

ANKNEY: So Nikki Haley gave a speech on Tuesday talking about that very issue. We are moving forward. We are moving on to Super Tuesday.

We are headed to Michigan the day after South Carolina.

And look, 200,000 people have already voted in the state of South Carolina. And we are focused on making sure that we sprint through the tape here. And again, this is about who can ultimately win a general election and bring together the country. And so we are focused on the fight ahead. We are clear eyed about -- about the challenges. This is, as Nikki said, David versus Goliath. But she has been the underdog her entire life. She has defied expectations her entire life. And throughout this entire race. And so, you know, we will see you in Michigan on Sunday night and beyond that.

COATES: Well, I want to talk to you about an issue that obviously is a very big part of the conversation. And she herself has brought it up recently. It's about what's going on in Alabama, obviously not her home state. But the issue in a post jobs world of abortion and, of course, reproductive rights is very top of mind for voters across the aisles.

Alabama's IVF ruling. The former governor first appeared to back it, saying that she believes frozen embryos are children. But then there was backlash, of course. And then it seemed that she qualified her remarks. And this is what she told Jake Tapper just yesterday.


NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that the court was doing it based on the law, and I think Alabama needs to go back and look at the law. This is incredibly personal to me because I had both of my children with fertility. We don't want them to stop doing IVF treatments. We don't want them to stop doing artificial insemination. We want to make sure that people are able to have these blessings. But I think this is, again, needs to be decided on the people in every state.

I personally believe an embryo is a baby. Not everybody's going to agree that an embryo is a baby. But that's why parents need to be able to have the decision on how they're going to handle those embryos.


COATES: So is she trying to have it both ways? I mean, does she believe the law needs to change?

ANKNEY: I think what you heard Nikki say is what she has said on these issues all along. She approaches it from a place of compassion. She went through issues having her two children. She understands those challenges.

And she also understands the importance of making sure that women and families have IVF and those treatments available to them. So, no, it's not about having it both ways. It's about making sure that you are approaching these issues with compassion and consensus and understanding that everyone has a story to tell and everyone has their own issues.

And Nikki is someone who both did have issues having her two children, understands the importance of that and wants to make sure that women and families across the country have that available to them as well.

COATES: You know, I think it's really important the way that she has personalized when she has responded about this issue and has really been eye opening for so many people on a similar journey. But speaking of consensus, she has said that she would back a nationwide abortion ban.


But then she also said that it's not a winning issue. Is there a disconnect there between what she would believe and what she would support and what she thinks voters actually want?

ANKNEY: No, Nikki has said that she is unapologetically pro-life again, she is a mom, she had issues having her two children, and she wants to approach this issue from a place of compassion and understanding. And so she is not about demonizing this. She is not about putting certain benchmarks on it. She is about how do we come together and save as many babies and help as many moms as possible. And I think that if more people approached it from that perspective, we would be in a much better place as a country.

COATES: Well, her main competitor, as you know, is Donald Trump. And he is speaking and talking about embracing IVF. He's been calling on Alabama lawmakers to now protect it, looking ahead to the general election, which I know is where she wants to be. Is his support and clarity on this issue outflanking her?

ANKNEY: Donald Trump lost women by 15 points in 2020. He lost independence by 13 points. He has done nothing over the past several years to change that trajectory. He lost not only in 2020, but in 2022, his losing streak continued. We just Republicans just lost a House seat in New York that we previously held. So, no, he is not someone who was able to bring back that coalition of suburban women and independents.

It is why Nikki Haley is defeating Joe Biden by double digits in most national polls and why Trump is within the margin of error. There is one candidate in this race who can win a general election, and that is Nikki Haley. And that's why we're continuing to fight. We know that there are huge stakes and we know that there's a lot of stake in this country. And there are a lot of issues that we face.

And Nikki Haley is the only one who can ultimately win a general election and get this country back on track. So that's what we're focused on. And that's where we're headed.

Betsy Ankney, it's almost showtime, as they say. I know there's an early voting already happening, but tomorrow really will be the true test. We're all waiting with bated breath. Thank you so much.

ANKNEY: Thank you for having me. Take care.

COATES: You, too.

Now, I want to bring in CNN's senior data and political analyst, the great Harry Enten on a Friday night, no less. Harry, always good to see you, my friend. So tell me, does Nikki Haley have a real shot in South Carolina tomorrow?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SR. DATA AND POLITICAL ANALYST: Where else would I rather be than right here, right now with you, Laura? Now --

COATES: I mean.

ENTEN: -- I mean, come on and answer your question.

Look, here's the choice for GOP nominee in South Carolina. We have two recent polls, CBS News - YouGov. Look at this. Donald Trump at 65 percent, Nikki Haley at 30 percent. That's a 35 point lead. If CBS News doesn't do it for you, how about Winthrop University? Look here. Donald Trump was 65 percent. Nikki Haley at just 29 percent, 36 points back.

And I will note, Laura, I have gone back through history, looked at every single primary I possibly could, and I have not found an instance in which a candidate was able to come -- overcome such a deep deficit that Nikki Haley had in the final polls and gone on to win that primary.

So, look, history sometimes can be made, but at this particular point, it doesn't exactly look good for the former governor of South Carolina.

COATES: Well, look at those numbers. That's pretty unbelievable. How about is past prologue here? I mean, has anyone ever lost their home state and gone on to be the nominee?

ENTEN: Yeah. So this is one of my favorite stats. And we have a do not enter stop sign right here. Nominees who lost their home state in the primary. Zero is zero. It has never happened.

It has never happened before. Remember, Marco Rubio lost his home state back -- back in 2016 Florida to Donald Trump and Marco Rubio left the race.

Now, Nikki Haley says that she would, in fact, continue on. But zero history doesn't look too kind.

And if you look at the polling, Laura, look here. Choice for GOP nominee nationally among the potential GOP electorate. Look at this. This is even worse polling for Nikki Haley than what she sees in South Carolina. Donald Trump up. Now, I'm not exactly a math genius here, but this looks like 63 points to me, according to Quinnipiac. How about this?

I guess a slightly closer margin. 58 points, according to Marquette University Law School poll. So if Nikki Haley loses tomorrow, which by all accounts and purposes, the polls suggest she will, that is just the start of a very rough journey, not just historically speaking, where no one's ever come back after losing their home state to be the nominee. But looking at the polling ahead nationally, it just gets even more rough for Nikki Haley going forward.

COATES: I mean, I'm an eternal optimist. You know, I'm a glass half full kind of person. Would she have to be that for her chances to even continue if they really are so dire?

ENTEN: Yeah, I mean, look, here's the real question.

If she loses tomorrow in South Carolina, I think the question is, why do you continue on given this and given the history right here?


Well, it could just be as simple as the fact that maybe she doesn't like Donald Trump because a lot of her voters don't like Donald Trump. How Haley supporters feel about Donald Trump? Just an 18 percent favorable rating. There we go with the pen right there. 18 percent favorable. 75 percent unfavorable. So now she could continue on just because she doesn't like the guy, even if she doesn't have much of a real shot.

You know, the fact is, I do a lot of things, continue to do a lot of things just because I don't like somebody else. So Nikki Haley may be in the same camp as I am.

COATES: Oh, wait, let's not end this segment. Name some of the things you do because you don't like someone else. And please be as specific and detailed as you possibly can.

ENTEN: You know, let me just tell you this. If I say those things, I can be in real trouble with my mom. And I know better than to be in trouble with my mom, especially on a Friday night.

COATES: What a good son. Harry Enten, thank you so much. Way to wiggle out of that one.

ENTEN: I try my best.

COATES: He tried as hard as he could. But there's more bad news today for Donald Trump. You know, he was already on the hook for $355 million in his fraud case in New York.

Well, hold on. He's got an additional 99 million in interest that could continue to occur. You know what? Let me do the math. I got a pen. That's what? $355 million. OK, add that to what? $99 Million. Oh, what's that? Hold on. Carry the two. That's 454 million bucks. Oh, my God.

Can he get it together before the clock runs out in 30 days? And yes, that was without a calculator.




COATES: All right, the clock is ticking now for Donald Trump to pay nearly half a billion bucks for fraud in the New York civil case.

Judge Arthur Engron, a member who is overseeing the case, finalized the judgment against the former president today. Now, once he is served with the judgment, a 30-day countdown starts for him to pay up a staggering 454 million. When you include interest, he needs to put up cash or post bond to cover the 355 million and an additional 99 million or so in interest.

It's a huge blow to his wallet, even as he vows to appeal the decision and, of course, denies any wrongdoing.

I want to talk about it now with former DeKalb County officer general Robert James. Good to see you, Robert. Tonight, this is a heck of a set of a number. First of all, he's got 30 days to pay or post the money. What are his options?

ROBERT JAMES, FORMER DEKALB COUNTY SOLICITOR GENERAL: Well, he doesn't have many options he can appeal, but -- but ultimately, you know, if that judgment stands and he does not pay, if I'm the attorney general, I'm going to start seizing assets and I look for that to happen. COATES: She has said as much and intends to do so. We'll see how it pans out. I want to turn now to the Georgia case, though. You and I have talked about this in the past.

A private investigator working for Trump says that he has information that could incriminate the Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis. Now, according to the investigator, their cell phone data somehow shows that the lead prosecutor in the Georgia election subversion case, Nathan Wade, made late night visits to the area where she lived in late 2021. Now, they, of course, testified that their relationship didn't start until early 2022. How damaging is this new revelation, if true?

JAMES: Well, there are two different courts, right? There's a court of public opinion and then there's a court of law. And in the court of law, it's a nothing burger.

It's not damaging at all. It only proves what we already know and what they've already testified to. They being Nathan Wade and the D.A., is that they had a relationship that predated or preexisted him coming to work as a special prosecutor.

The question is, when did a romantic relationship start? And I don't think him going to her house shows that it was romantic. It just shows that there was a relationship.

COATES: They talk about the volume of it, you know, over, according to the attorney, over 2000 voice calls, around 12000 what they're calling interactions. I guess that includes text messages before he was appointed to the case.

You know, you focus on a very important issue here, and that is what the judge is going to be looking at. This motion was filed to disqualify Fani Willis. And of course, ultimately her team, if she is qualified, based on whether there's a conflict of interest based on their relationship that she got a personal benefit from.

Does the addition of this information in your mind prove that burden that they have to actually show?

JAMES: Well, look, it doesn't move the needle at all on whether or not there was financial benefit on the part of D.A. Fani Willis. I mean, ultimately, what you're looking at is a situation where, yes, they took trips together and yes, he paid for some of them. She testified that she paid that money back.

And even if she did not pay the money back, ultimately, what you have to analyze or prove, and I don't think they can, is that the money that he used to pay for it did not come from his outside business, business outside of work with Fulton County versus the money that came from Fulton County pay. And without a forensic accountant, I don't think that you can show that it came from one side of the ledger versus the other.

COATES: That's a really important point. And I, again, I'm wondering why we, one, haven't heard from the judge yet, but also whether all of the sort of salacious details that have accompanied this entire proceeding, if he's focused on the singular that you're talking about or not.

Always great to have your perspective so well informed. Thank you so much.

JAMES: Thank you.

COATES: You know, the Fulton County D.A.'s office, they are pushing back by the way. They issued a statement saying if the cell phone data shows nothing.

Up next, he's an Oscar nominee and he is here tonight. Jeffrey Wright from "American Fiction". There he is. He joins me next.



COATES: Well, Jeffrey Wright is pushing the boundaries in an incredibly illustrious career that frankly has spanned the worlds of theater, film and television.

And now this incredible artist has finally been nominated for an Oscar for his lead performance in the film "American Fiction". You know, I'm a huge fan of this film and his as well. In it, he plays a frustrated, shall we say, novelist, absolutely fed up with a world that seems to want nothing but stereotypical stories about black people. And then he decides to do something about it.


UNKNOWN: Monk, your books are good, but they're not popular.

JEFFREY WRIGHT, PLAYS MONK IN "AMERICAN FICTION": Editors, they want a black book. They have a black book. I'm black and it's my book.

UNKNOWN: You know what I mean?

WRIGHT: Look at what they publish. Look at what they expect us to write. I just want to rub their noses in it.

UNKNOWN: I'd be standing outside in the night.

WRIGHT: Deadbeat dance, rappers crack. You said you wanted black stuff. That's black, right?

UNKNOWN: I see what you're doing.



COATES: We all see what he's doing and what he is doing is being an incredible artist. Joining me now, Tony, Emmy, Golden Globe winning actor, and now Oscar nominee, the incomparable Jeffrey Wright. I'm so glad you're here. How are you?

WRIGHT: I'm doing well, Laura. I'm so glad to be with you. Thank you.

COATES: I mean, you're the kind of incredible artist that different walks of life will tell you that they're the ones that have discovered you. They might say, oh, no, no, I know him from "Boardwalk Empire". I know him from "Westworld". I know him from this movie. I know him from that. And you go, this is the man's career, just how many people know him, know your work, and appreciate your artistry.

And here you are, an Oscar nominee after all this time. How does it feel?

WRIGHT: Oh, it's wonderful. These nominations are made by our peers, our colleagues. And it's -- it's been really gratifying that they have looked at our work in this film, not just mine, but everyone involved, because the film is nominated for Best Picture as well.

But they've looked at our work and they said, yeah, yeah, we like it. And as well, you know, to your point, I've had people who've seen the film, you know, from the Academy and they've said, you know, I've liked your work for a while. And yeah, that's really touching. It's really, you know, at times surprising. I don't know who sees what. I don't know who sees my films, but I'm really appreciative of it. And I can tell you this, it's better than the alternative when you do work and, you know, nobody has interest. So, yeah, this has been really cool, particularly for our small film that is "American Fiction".

COATES: Well, for an artist like yourself, I can't imagine anyone not liking your work. But, you know, it was so fascinating. I was doing a little research and all of my fandom for you and had no idea that one of your first scenes, first single scenes was across from Sidney Poitier. Is that right?

WRIGHT: Yes. In a miniseries called "Separate but Equal" that was about the Brown versus Board of Education case, Sidney played Thurgood Marshall. I was about 24 years old. I'd only recently started acting in college. I had no idea what I was doing. It shows if you watch the movie. But I think I got the role because I had a political science degree. So they were like, yeah, throw him in there. He you know, he might be reasonably smart.

It wasn't a close up because they were like, don't get too close. My single -- my single first single shot was opposite Mr. Poitier, who was just the most gracious, generous, patient and supportive man. And he was just so naturally elegant. And of course, he was the captain of the ship for an actor like me.

COATES: He gave you a word of advice. The word he used was irony. And here you are nominated for a film that's poking fun, quite ironically, at the cliches of what it is to be black: black life, black culture, poking fun at what is expected of mainstream America and what would be enticing. And it's earned you an Oscar nomination. Imagine that.

WRIGHT: Yes. Yes. I think I may have listened to him. He was at the end of the experience with him at the end of the production. I, of course, I wandered over to him and I said, Mr. Poitier, you know, do you have any advice for me? You know, young knucklehead that I was.

And he said he looked at me, kind of looked down because he was so tall. He looked down. He said, irony, and I understood what he meant. Certainly this film, "American Fiction" is, yeah, laced with irony, not only in the way we tell the story, but in the -- in the character of the story itself.

And it's -- it's been really it's been really, you know, we've all been really pleased with the way audiences have received it. And it's because of those ironic tones, because these are, you know, complex issues that we deal with in the film.

But they're also incredibly relevant right now. We're having conversations about race and representation and inclusion, conversations that are at the very forefront of the national dialogue right now, but conversations that we don't necessarily have well.

What we're able to do in this film is have these conversations and at the same time have a laugh while doing it. And I think that provides kind of an open window for people across backgrounds who want to engage, but are fearful at times or traumatized at times.

But we allow at least for the two hours that this film is running for people to come in and, you know, wrestle with these difficult things and have a and have a good time while doing it. So it's a nice recipe.

COATES: Jeffrey, don't go anywhere. We've got so much more to talk about. We'll be right back.



COATES: I'm back now with Oscar nominee Jeffrey Wright.

Talk about the we on this film. I mean, you've got Erica Alexander. You have got Issa Rae. You've got Sterling K. Brown. I mean, you have got Tracee Ellis Ross. I could go on. You have got quite a community in this movie.

WRIGHT: Well, I'll go on one further. And Leslie Uggams.

COATES: Well, let me give her flowers. We've got a clip from one of your scenes. Let's play it.

WRIGHT: Awesome.


WRIGHT: And Coraline, why don't you sit across for a moment?


UNKNOWN: I'm happy you're not white.


COATES: I mean, first of all, this movie makes you laugh. But that -- that line, those scenes, every part of this film made me lean in. And it seems it's got to be very important to you. Just knowing the -- the cast of characters you have embodied. Belize comes to mind from "Angels in America" to this. It strikes me. It must be very important to you to have the characters you embody and portray really hone in on what is relevant and what is timely and what is deep.

WRIGHT: Well, I want to tell stories that have some type of meaning outside of the theater. That's just the way I like to work. I like to tell stories that have relevance to the day's issues. And -- and I like to work with writers who are very smart, who can help us shine light in some of the dark corners of these issues.

A writer like Tony Kushner, who wrote "Angels in America" and Cord Jefferson, our writer director on "American Fiction". He adapted this from Percival Everett's novel "Erasure". Super fluent guys on these issues. Super smart.

And at the same time, they're able to do it in a way that's buoyant and that, again, makes it digestible. I want to tell stories that are interesting to me and I hope interesting to someone else and important to someone else, moving to someone else and entertaining. Pretty simple.

COATES: I knew this was going to happen. Now I like you even more.

WRIGHT: Oh, oh, well, it's mutual. It's mutual, Laura. Yeah, but I, you know, I -- I'm glad you say that because while our film focuses -- focuses on the publishing world and the film world to some extent, it really is a story about representation across the board. Maybe a personal inroad for me into this story in terms of the importance of representation, importance of dehumanizing of our stories is I have kids and I want my son to be seen for who he is.

I want him to be to walk down the street and not be seen relative. And my daughter as well, relative to some caricature or some limiting portrait of who he or she might be in the media. I want them to be perceived as who they are. And so I think that the ways in which, you know, representation in the media affects that is deeply, deeply important. And it has been from the beginning of storytelling on film and in the theater in this country. Our film touches on a bit of that.

And I hope, again, within the two hours that the film runs, that we elevate the conversation a little bit, that we shine some light, that that broadens the understanding of the humanity of -- of who we are as black folks, as who we are as Americans, ultimately. So I'm really, again, I'm pleased that the film is being received again. We're a small film. We, you know, the budget for our film was probably the catering budget for the last Batman movie that I did. We shot in 26 days. But we think it's a -- you know, it's a small film with big ideas. And it's really gratifying that audiences are responding to it in the way that they have. It's -- it's wonderful. COATES: That is wonderful. 26 days. That is unbelievable to think

about. And, you know, I'm so glad that you are thinking about and using art as that safe, vicarious experience where we can better understand each other in this world. And I hope that's one of the ways that we get to wherever there is. I know that's very important to you, even outside of the art space, that, you know, as Americans, that perhaps things like equality, things like justice are not American fictions.

WRIGHT: That's exactly right. I mean, I think we're all I know you're concerned about that. And if we again, if we look back to our history, if we look back who those -- at those who came before us, they pushed for it. They won victories for us that sometimes we take for granted.

And that's the idea at the founding of this country, that we push toward a more perfect union. And I think very much that that media plays -- plays a huge role in our ability to do that. I think sometimes we're stunted by it, by the media, but it doesn't have to be that way. And so, yes, if we can use these tools, particularly now at this incredibly divisive time, divided time, if we can use these tools to bring us together and to push us toward -- toward, you know, better, better things on the horizon. Yeah. You know, why not? Why not?


COATES: Well, listen, I'm a leader with this because I never had a chance to meet Sidney Poitier, even though my daughter's name is Sidney. It's not a coincidence. So you're going to be my Sidney Poitier for a second. And I'm going to ask you as this young person, and I am young.

Do you have any advice for how we get this done, Mr. Wright?

WRIGHT: Well, you know, that's -- that's a tall order for me to play Sidney. But I would say just keep doing what you're doing, Laura. I mean, you -- you know, I'll do my part. You do your part. And if we all recognize that we have -- we still have the agency that, you know, this country is -- is ours and our responsibility, as is our democracy, then we will win.

COATES: Well, I hope you win and your name is engraved on the bottom of that Oscar. What a pleasure to speak to you. I've been such a fan for so long now. It is elevated. Good luck to you. Everyone in the room with you will be pleased to see you as I will be to watch. Thank you so much for joining us tonight, Jeffrey Wright.

WRIGHT: Thank you so much for having me, Laura.

COATES: Well, she was a daytime star and now she's back on TV in a controversial new documentary. Why her legal guardian tried to stop the Wendy Williams documentary, next.



COATES: The controversial Wendy Williams documentary will premiere on Lifetime this weekend, that despite a lawsuit filed by the former talk show host, Temporary Guardian was asking the court for a temporary restraining order to stop Lifetime from airing the documentary.


UNKNOWN: It's no secret that there have been random people around you getting money, getting paid, whatever the case may be.

UNKNOWN: Stealing money from me.

UNKNOWN: I'm just trying to figure out your friends that you're saying is your friend that you're also paying. It's giving a little desperate energy. You are an A-list celebrity. You are bigger than this. You are better than this. You are smarter than this. You are stronger than this.

The Aunt Wendy that I know that has instilled in me how to navigate this crazy business that we're in. This isn't it.


This come just a day after the world found out Wendy Williams has been diagnosed with aphasia and dementia. The four-part docuseries provides a painfully candid depiction, it seems, of Williams' life today as she is struggling with health issues and perhaps alcohol abuse. It's executive produced by Williams herself. It includes on camera participation from her own family. Lifetime did decline to comment on the contents of the lawsuit.

Now, for some perspective, let's bring in attorney Tamar Arminak, who, excuse me, Arminak, who represented Amanda Bynes and her parents in her conservatorship. Tamar, thank you so much for being here. Break down for us what sort of position Wendy Williams' guardian is in, in terms of the control.

TAMAR ARMINAK, REPRESENTED AMANDA BYNES' PARENTS IN CONSERVATORSHIP: Well, when you're under a guardianship like Wendy is, Laura, you're essentially a minor under the law.

So her guardian is essentially in the role of a parent, a parent for even a 10-year old child, controlling almost the most minute details of a person's life.

COATES: Financially speaking, I remember in 2022, I remember seeing this reporting that Wells Fargo successfully petitioned to have Wendy placed under a temporary financial guardianship. And after they froze her accounts, by the way, how rare is it that this request would come from a bank instead of, say, a family member?

ARMINAK: Extremely rare, extremely rare. I have never seen it in my years of practicing conservatorship and guardianship law. Something important, something severe and urgent was going on with her accounts to have the bank of all -- of all people, of all entities, step in and ask the court to have someone take over her life, essentially.

COATES: I imagine what that must have been for the bank to be so alarmed. I mean, Wendy's niece told CNN's Elizabeth Wagmeister that the family has been shut out, that Wendy is healing at a facility. It's an undisclosed location, but they have no idea where she is and have no way to reach her. How common is that type of guardianship?

ARMINAK: It's extremely rare, extremely rare. It's the immediate family that goes to the courts and asks for a guardianship and takes control and cares for their loved one in this situation.

And from what we've seen from the documentary Bits and Pieces, it seems like the guardianship is there almost to separate Wendy from her loved ones.

COATES: Very interesting. Very exciting to think about. I mean, just I've been a fan for so long of hers and to think that this might be the most revealing take as to what's been happening and where things are going. Tamar Arminak, thank you so much for helping us understand this.

ARMINAK: Thank you, Laura.

COATES: Thank you all so much for watching tonight. And before we leave you tonight, here's a preview of the new CNN original series, "Vegas: the story of Sin City"



UNKNOWN (voice-over): Pure entertainment.

UNKNOWN: The showboys, the showgirls. To be a headliner in Las Vegas. That's what I want to do.

UNKNOWN: They had the biggest entertainers in America. Wow.

UNKNOWN: Elvis was an alien like thing. He was so charming and so hot.

UNKNOWN: The Rat Pack was at the top of their game in Las Vegas.

UNKNOWN: The wives went to see Liberace while the gamblers went to gamble.

UNKNOWN: This is become home. Didn't get better than these guys.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Pure entertainment.

UNKNOWN: The city has had a lot of booms. Bang, bang.

UNKNOWN: People were building fantasies. Let's run around in togas.

UNKNOWN: Las Vegas really becomes the place where people in America went to party.

UNKNOWN: And the only way you find out what you can't do is if you do it.

UNKNOWN: It's unlike anywhere else in the world.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): "Vegas: the story of Sin City", Sunday at 10 on CNN.