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Laura Coates Live

SCOTUS Agrees To Hear Trump's Immunity Claim, Delaying Election Subversion Trial; Laura Coates Interviews Rep. Glenn Ivey; IL Judge Removes Trump From Ballot Due To "Insurrectionist Ban." Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired February 28, 2024 - 23:00   ET




RICHARD LEWIS, COMEDIAN: I did Wordle again today. I'm a Wordle wizard, man. I did it in three tries, three days in a row, man.

UNKNOWN: Wow, you're really on a good streak.

LEWIS: I'm on a huge streak. That's me.


ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Before his time on "Curb," Lewis had a long career as a standup comedian where he went deep into his own torment, earning him the nickname "The Prince of Pain." He was also in films like Mel Brooks's "Robin Hood: Men in Tights." And last year, he revealed that he had living with Parkinson's Disease. Richard Lewis was 76 years old.

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

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST AND SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Oh, you thought it was a democracy? Well, the jury -- oh, I mean, the Supreme Court is still out on that one, tonight on "Laura Coates Live."

Well, it's morning in London and they woke up with a king. Well, guess what, America? You could be going to bed with one. That's if the Supreme Court hands Donald Trump a get out of jail free card. After all, what is a king? Someone who answers to no one, can do what he wants, and well, who's going to check him, boo?

In a democracy, the answer is supposed to be the other two branches of government, right? You know, the co-equal branches, the whole checks and balances thing. It's all coming back to us now, right? I mean, it's easy to forget these days when the Supreme Court just announced it's going to take up the question of whether a president has absolute immunity.

And no, they're not treating that as some kind of rhetorical question. They're actually going to hear arguments, arguments as to whether a president is untouchable.

Now, we don't know how they're going to rule, but the arguments that were raised by Trump's lawyers in the Court of Appeals were, well, one, the only way you can criminally prosecute a former president for criminal conduct while in office was if that president had first been impeached and convicted. And two, if you tried impeachment first, you can't pursue criminal action because somehow, without any basis in the law, you would violate double jeopardy.

You remember the hypotheticals we heard about? Trump's lawyers saying that a president could possibly order SEAL Team Six to assassinate his political rival? Really? But, oh, it is on, on the docket for an oral argument at the end of April.

Now, the Supreme Court's term, you know it ends in June. Now, that's their actual deadline for when they have to give you an answer. But guess what? I bet you want an answer sooner, don't you? Wouldn't that be nice? Wouldn't that be helpful?

No, wait, wouldn't that be super, as in Super Tuesday, when millions of you are going to be casting your primary votes? Well, Super Tuesday is in, what, six days? You're not getting an answer by then. Let's be honest, you might not get an answer before Trump is expected to clinch that nomination.

Now, I should look into getting one of those maybe white barrister wigs that the Brits wear in court, just in case the Supreme Court got Hamilton's King George III song stuck in its head.




COATES: We know who belongs to us, he's in his beautiful mind. I want to bring in CNN senior justice correspondent Evan Perez. You just followed King George. How does that feel?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: I mean, it doesn't get better than that.

COATES: It doesn't get better than that. But let me ask you, walk me through the court's decision today, because it stunned a lot of people, one, because of the timing of it --

PEREZ: Right.

COATES: -- and the fact that they were going to take it up.

PEREZ: Right. I mean, it has been three weeks since the D.C. Appeals Court rejected the former president's immunity claims and said he was citizen Trump now, and so he's not entitled to that immunity, especially because some of the things he is accused of doing, right, were not related to his job. And so now, the Supreme Court, after having decided back in December that they weren't going to take this up, Jack Smith went to them in December and said, because of the importance of this question, this immunity question, and the fact that everyone knew this was going to come back to them, he asked for the court to take it up then, and they rejected it then. So now, what the court --

COATES: They told him he had to wait for the lower court --

PEREZ: Right.

COATES: -- to rule on it, right?

PEREZ: To go -- to go -- to wait for the lower court to rule. And now, the lower court has ruled. They've waited three weeks. And now, what we -- what they've said today is that they are going to take this up. They've extended the stay, which means that the case is paused indefinitely, and they've scheduled oral arguments not like next couple of weeks or like, you know, late next month. No, in almost two months from now, they've scheduled oral arguments.

And so, again, as you pointed out, that timeline puts it, you know, their term ends in June. It's likely, possible, that that's when we're going to hear a decision.


And as you pointed out, you know, the calendar is, you know, disappearing, right? The former president is likely to be the Republican nominee by July --

COATES: Uh-hmm.

PEREZ: -- and then his calendar -- the calendar here is getting eaten up by other cases, including ones in New York and, of course, the one that is pending in Atlanta. So, look, in the end, what this means is that it's very likely that by the time this is all worked out and if he loses the appeal and it goes back to Judge Chutkan in Washington, that we're not going to see a resolution of this before the December election -- before the November election.

COATES: You mentioned the other trials --

PEREZ: Right.

COATES: -- that are on the horizon. I mean, you've got the Fulton County. We know what's happening down there with disqualification.

PEREZ: Right.

COATES: We've got the pending request to disqualify. That is not a certainty.

PEREZ: Yeah.

COATES: We know what's happening with Alvin Bragg on March 25th, their election interference case --

PEREZ: Right.

COATES: -- that's billed as also hush money. Does this impact those other cases as well? You think the timing because these are not federal cases.

PEREZ: They're not federal cases. So, ostensibly, they do not affect those. But let me tell you, the other one that's still waiting in the wings is the documents case --

COATES: Uh-hmm.

PEREZ: -- the classified documents case. There's a hearing on Friday where we were anticipating that the judge was going to address a trial date. Right now, that's penciled in for May. No one thinks that that's going to happen in May. But Laura, I mean, one of the big questions in that case is also his claim of immunity in that case.

COATES: Right.

PEREZ: So, it is almost certain that the judge there, who has been very favorable to the former president, will put that off as well because while the Supreme Court is waiting to hear this, it's not clear how she can go forward on at least some of the questions that are pending there.

COATES: Sounds like Trump has gotten a lot of what he wants.

PEREZ: You know, to quote DJ Khaled, all he does is win, win, win.



COATES: Wow, no matter what.

PEREZ: He's got to be happy right now, and that's what we've seen from him tonight.

COATES: Well, we will see. And I wonder, is DJ Khaled going to make an appearance? That would make this whole universe complete today in many respects. Evan Perez, thank you so much.

PEREZ: King George and DJ Khaled.

COATES: King George, DJ Khaled. You know, "Laura Coates Live." I want to bring in Rick Hasen. He is a professor of law and political science and director of the Safeguarding Democracy Project at the UCLA School of Law. He's also the author of "A Real Right to Vote: How a Constitutional Amendment Can Safeguard American Democracy."

Rick, don't worry, I won't ask you for some song you're going to sing or some artist we're going to reference tonight. Instead, I'm just going to get right to the heart of the matter because you wrote this article today questioning why the Supreme Court took so long to decide to even hear this immunity case. Why do you think they have taken this long?

RICK HASEN, PROFESSOR OF LAW AND POLITICAL SCIENCE, UCLA: Well, you know, the court is really an opaque institution. So, we can only guess. And so, I came up with three guesses. One is there was some bargaining going on behind the scenes. Remember, there's a disqualification case out of Colorado where Trump is trying to be kicked off the ballot. Maybe there was going to be some horse trading there and it didn't work out.

Second thing is maybe a justice was dragging their feet, trying to delay things to run out the clock to help Trump. Most likely is that the Supreme Court just goes on its own schedule and lets the chips fall where they may. And so, if they decide, you know, it's -- this is what we want to hear at the end of April, we'll issue an opinion likely at the end of June, and if there's not enough time for Trump to be put on trial for election interference before the election, so be it.

And so, it's just kind of, I think, not giving the American people all the information that they would want before they have to vote in November.

COATES: I mean, so be it really translates to limbo, right? That's what you're leaving people in. It doesn't just mean with respect to whether Trump, but it's also about the state of our institutions. I mean, the checks and balances, that's very much part of our whole democracy. That seems to be on pause and in state of limbo as well.

HASEN: Yeah, I think that's true, and especially because, you know, Colorado had its own procedure. They determined that Trump was disqualified in their state to run. And that's likely to be reversed given the timing that we've seen in the oral arguments, Supreme Court there. You know, the classified documents case has been slowed down.

So, to the extent that people want to get some judgment about Trump's performance as president, something from the court, something where a jury is going to weigh in that hush money case is really about his pre-presidential conduct, it's really not as serious as some of these other charges.

And so, I feel like with this step by the Supreme Court today, we are just much less likely to know, you know, the full extent of what Trump did, as judged by a jury of his peers before people have to vote.

COATES: Isn't that concerning? I would think it would be concerning to say Justice Roberts, who knows the credibility of the court, the perception that somehow, they are, you know, paving the streets with gold for Donald Trump or that they are somehow greasing the wheels,that's a perception that they've got to counter, and now, this does to some feel like that.


HASEN: Well, you know, what the court is likely to do, I think, in the immunity decision, which they probably won't issue, as we said, to the end of June, is they're going to side against Trump. So, it's going to look like a big loss for Donald Trump. He can be put on trial. He does not have immunity.

But because it's going to take months to gear things up, it's very hard for me to imagine the trial taking place in the middle of the general election period when Trump is supposed to be debating his opponent and going out and campaigning. So, we may run out the clock in the end after all.

COATES: Rick Hasen, thank you so much.

HASEN: Thank you.

COATES: Now, I want to bring in CNN legal analyst Norm Eisen, who was House Judiciary special counsel in then President Trump's first impeachment trial. Also, here tonight, Tiffany R. Wright, a former law clerk for Justice Sonia Sotomayor. So happy to have both of you here. Nice to see you.

I want to start with you, Tiffany, on this because the court itself, the credibility, I mean, it can't be overstated. When someone believes that the court is greasing the wheels of delay, maybe not ultimately finding for him, that's a problem for the legitimacy of the court.

TIFFANY R. WRIGHT, FORMER LAW CLERK FOR JUSTICE SONIA SOTOMAYOR: Absolutely. I'm reminded of the moment in the argument in Dobbs where the court overruled Roe v. Wade, where Justice Sotomayor says, how will this institution survive the stench? And there has been so much stench coming from the court since that decision and, frankly, before it.

And I imagine that tonight, Chief Justice Roberts finds himself in a position that I don't envy, where I think part of what may be happening is he had two options, right? The court could have affirmed the decision below. There were probably votes for that to just say no absolute immunity, period, or grant a stay, delay, delay, delay, consider it in the normal course.

And so, this may be somewhat of a middle position, a compromise, that gets us still some delay that might interrupt the election but not the permanent delay that perhaps some folks wanted. So, maybe that's a silver lining, that this is somewhat a middle choice, but absolutely more stench coming from the court.

COATES: I mean, more stench, Norm, had turned you on that, but the idea of thinking about it, right? Tiffany has a great point in that, you know, this court is not trying to cut off its nose to spite its face. At the same token, though, do you really think this court is going to come up with a different conclusion than the Court of Appeals on whether a president is untouchable?

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER HOUSE JUDICIARY SPECIAL COUNSEL IN TRUMP'S FIRST IMPEACHMENT TRIAL: The answer to the question presented in today's order of whether and to what extent a president has immunity for criminal prosecution based on his official acts cannot be anything other than no. If they were to say yes in answering this question presented, and I think part of the delay was negotiating, there's a lot packed in this question. Um, if they were to extend this immunity, they would be falling into the SEAL Team Six ordering assassination hypothetical.

COATES: Wait, let's play that because I want to remind people, because every time we allude to it like -- I want to remind people how that sounded and just think to yourself what that would be like coming from the voice of a Supreme Court justice. Listen to this.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): Could a president order SEAL Team Six to assassinate a political rival? That's an official act in order to SEAL Team Six.

D. JOHN SAUER, ATTORNEY FOR FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP (voice- over): He would have to be and would speedily be, you know, impeached and convicted before the criminal prosecution.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): But if you aren't, yes or no question, could a president who ordered SEAL Team Six to assassinate a political rival who was not impeached, would he be subject to criminal prosecution?

SAUER (voice-over): If he were impeached and convicted first.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): So, your answer is no?

SAUER (voice-over): My answer is qualified yes.


COATES: Qualified yes. But can you imagine?

EISEN: Nobody in the history of the 235-year history of the United States of America, no president has ever been impeached and convicted.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

EISEN: I know how tough it is because I was counsel in the first impeachment. That is essentially Sauer's answer was. There's no recourse if a president orders a political assassination. And Laura, you know part of the reason that they are not going to allow this? Because if Trump gets back in office and he doesn't like what they do, he'll send SEAL Team Six for the United States Supreme Court.


EISEN: This is a recipe for dictatorship. But the substance is not the issue. It's the timing. It's the delay. And it's the question, are our democratic institutions in the United States of America in 2024 up to this challenge of autocracy that is represented not just by this position, but Trump has -- I wrote a piece this week -- hundreds, hundreds of statements that he wants to bring autocracy to America?


He says it almost every day. COATES: Tiffany, let me hear from you because you have been a clerk at the Supreme Court under Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and I wonder behind the scenes what you think is the calculus right now as to why, one, it would take two weeks to decide to take this up, and two, why do you think they wanted a bite at this apple?

WRIGHT: Well, I think the first thing I point out is we know that the court can move quickly when it wants to. So, when the California -- the Colorado Supreme Court removed President Trump from the ballot, they got the cert petition on January 3rd, they decided to hear the case on January 5th, they set argument for a month later. Here, they get it, they sit on it for two weeks, they set argument for seven weeks later.

So, you have to ask, what is the reason for the delay? I think it is exactly what I said in the beginning, is you have some members of the court who are willing to hand the election to President Trump by delaying. Others are not. And the question is, what wing is going to win? Where are we going to come out?

COATES: Is the question in terms of, do they think in some way this was Merrick Garland's issue? This was for the attorney general to decide long ago. We're in this argument now in the sense of the timing up against the calendar that, look, this isn't just up to us.

WRIGHT: I'm not going to take the blame off of the court because they deserve plenty of it, but I will say that the Department of Justice bears some of the blame.

It should not have taken two plus years to investigate and get to an indictment on facts that we knew before the president left office. Right? We all saw what happened on January 6th.

And so, I think DOJ has to take some of the blame, but I don't want to take the focus off of the shame in the game that the court is playing.

EISEN: It's very important to bear in mind the calendar, but also not just to look at the challenges and the hurdles, but the possibilities in the calendar. What happens? Will the Supreme Court decide this? In U.S. v. Nixon, they issued a decision in three weeks. It's possible that they could decide it more quickly.

COATES: They could.

EISEN: Will Judge Chutkan, when she gets it back, how quickly or slowly will she move? How long will the trial take if she does move it up? It's too soon to say that pessimism is the order of the day.

(LAUGHTER) We can be skeptical. It's challenging. It's an uphill battle. But there are possibilities here, too. I think it's very important that all Americans speak up about that. The American people want an answer to this question. Did Donald Trump abuse the powers criminally that he's seeking to regain? People are entitled to know the answer to that question. COATES: Well, Norm Eisen, a grand jury wanted that question posed to an actual trial jury. We will see what happens. Norm Eisen telling us to exercise patience in the instant gratification generation, which I am a part of. Thank you very much, Norm Eisen. Tiffany Wright, nice to see you. Thank you for coming.

What happens if the Supreme Court hands Donald Trump that sort of get- out-of-jail-free card or maybe get-out-of-trial-free card is more like it? Next, a man who can tell us. Michael Cohen is here.




COATES: The Supreme Court will now decide whether Donald Trump may claim immunity in Special Counsel Jack Smith's election subversion case. Arguments are set to begin on April 22nd. It's frankly just what Trump wanted, saying this on Truth Social tonight. Quote -- "Legal scholars are extremely thankful for the Supreme Court's decision today."

I want to bring in Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen. He's also a principal at Crisis X, host of podcasts "Mea Culpa" and Political Beatdown," and, of course, "The New York Times" bestselling author of "Revenge: How Donald Trump Weaponized the United States Department of Justice Against His Critics." Michael, thank you so much for being here today. I have to get your reaction initially to this announcement from SCOTUS. He thinks it's a win. Many believe it, in fact, is for him just having the delay. Do you think Trump is nervous at all, though, about why he wanted this kicked down the road?

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER DONALD TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: Yeah, he's nervous about everything, and he has the right to feel so. I mean, think about -- I mean, here in New York, that's just one of the many legal issues that's currently confronting the former president.

I mean, I think we can't ignore the fact that our attorney general, our unsinkable attorney general, Tish James here, just achieved a fantastic result in repatriating more than a half a billion dollars back to the great state of New York. And more importantly, for thanking me for being a catalyst of bringing this case to the courtroom.

So, he has a lot of reasons to be nervous right now, and that's just one of them. Let's not forget, March 25th, we're starting now the Manhattan District attorney case, which is not civil, but criminal. So, yeah, he may delay one, but the other ones are still moving forward.

COATES: I want to get back to immunity in just one second, but you mentioned this case Letitia James was overseeing, and Trump has now admitted that he does not have the cash, does not have the cash to pay this $454 million civil fraud judgment. It all goes at the core of whether he truly is rich and successful and as rich as he says.

Do you think that he is embarrassed by any of this or is this part of, well, savvy business dealings?


COHEN: Well, of course, he's embarrassed because his entire net worth, the constant reiteration that I'm worth at least 10 billion, maybe even more, obviously goes to his ego, his super ego, and that's now super deflated because it's just not true. They had to acknowledge that they don't have it.

You know, it wasn't that long ago that he stood on the stand and he told everybody that he was worth many, many, many billions of dollars and that he has very low debt to ratio, to value ratio, and that he was very, very cash rich. Well, we know that that's just yet another lie that was told by Trump.

I mean, who's he going to do? What's he going to call like JG Wentworth and say, you know, I need cash now? How is he going to raise more than this half a billion dollars that he owes --

COATES: Well --

COHEN: -- in order to be able to file an appeal?

COATES: Well, the judge granted him the ability to apply for loans again from New York banks. But you make a good point. Can he find a lender who wants to do business with him?

COHEN: Well, that -- and that's something that everybody needs to keep an eye out for. Where is he going to get this money? Lenders will not give it to him. Number one, there's outstanding mortgages on these assets. They don't want to have to be in a position to take the assets and then start to sell them in order to recoup their money. It's a big job, especially in light of the market right now.

But more importantly, what we need to really watch out is where the money is going to come from. Is it going to come from Saudi Arabia? Is it going to come somehow back channel from Putin or some other autocratic alleged friend of Donald Trump? That's the most important thing because what it does is it jeopardizes America's national security.

COATES: Well, you can go all the way back, frankly, to the beginning of his presidential term when there were questions about emoluments, questions about his tax returns, a source of income. This is really coming full circle in a way, the accusations.

But let's get back to this immunity issue because it's a really big one today. I remember not too long ago, people would say they were going to be a part of his administration because they wanted to be the so-called adult in the room. If that happens again, if he is president again, I'm not sure who that would be.

But on the question of immunity, Michael, what do you think a second Trump term will look like if he has absolute immunity?

COHEN: It's going to look exactly like what we see takes place in Russia with Vladimir Putin or North Korea with Kim Jong-un or in China with Xi Jinping. It's going to be exactly the same thing.

The America's democracy that we have, you know, that we have grown to love and the beacon of the world as it, you know, as far as democracy is concerned, will be lost because -- again, I don't want this to come off sounding hyperbolic from Michael Cohen, right, former personal attorney to the president.

These are the words of Donald Trump himself, that on day one, he wants to rewrite the Constitution. On day one, he wants to destroy the tripartite system of government to get rid of the power of the legislative branch and the judiciary, and confer all power on to the executive branch, meaning himself. Will he pardon himself? Absolutely, he will.

And who's going to be there to stop him? The sycophants that are going to sign some sort of pledge or loyalty oath that he's going to require of everyone that's going to work in any sort of position in his administration? This is not the America that we all grew up with, I can assure you on that.

COATES: Well, that's the big question, right? We're talking about absolute immunity. It disrupts the very notion of our checks and balances. It turns us back into, well, exactly what I thought the founding fathers did not want in terms of a monarchy. And that goes for anyone who's in the White House.

Michael Cohen, thank you so much.

COHEN: Really good to see you, Laura.

COATES: Now, if Trump were granted absolute immunity, what would that mean for our system of those very checks and balances we were talking about? Would the White House be more akin to a king's council? We'll discuss what's at stake next.




COATES: Well, tonight, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Donald Trump's claim of absolute immunity in Special Counsel Jack Smith's election subversion case. His lawyers have argued that he's immune from criminal charges and cannot be prosecuted unless, of course, he's first impeached and convicted. And we all know he wasn't convicted in either of his two impeachments.

But I want to take you back. Stroll with me down a bit of memory lane, shall we? Listen to what Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said after Trump was acquitted in his second impeachment trial in the Senate. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): We have a criminal justice system in this country, we have civil litigation, and former presidents are not immune from being accountable by either one. I believe the Senate was right not to grab power the Constitution doesn't give us.


COATES: I want to bring in Maryland Democratic Congressman Glenn Ivey, a member of the House Judiciary Committee. He's also a former federal prosecutor and served as counsel to Senator Paul Sarbanes during the Whitewater investigation. The perfect person to have and talk about this.

You heard McConnell talk about it's up to the courts, really. But, of course, their argument says, no, no, unless you convict, it can't be up to the courts.


And here, the Supreme Court is grappling with it.

REP. GLENN IVEY (D-MD): Yeah, I guess McConnell didn't realize how many times Donald Trump was going to be indicted. But here we are and the irony is that this is sort of the recipe to a totally escape accountability by the Trump team. So, they raised that argument when the impeachment trial was moving forward. Now -- then they argued that, you know, he can't be criminally charged unless he has been impeached. And, you know, now, they're just -- they're saying he's got absolute immunity.

So, it's incredible. It's very disappointing. Supreme Court took the path that it did today. I can't say I'm shocked, but it's tragic, the direction that the court is taking.

COATES: I mean, a circuitous path where they could take the issue right away. When Jack Smith first asked, we knew it was going to get the Supreme Court, right? Now, they did it in this moment in time.

But the irony for me, looking at Minority Leader Mitch McConnell talk about this and leaves it to the courts, well, the Supreme Court is comprised of the people that's on it now, particularly the most recent nominees, because Merrick Garland is the A.G., not a Supreme Court justice.

IVEY: Yeah, I mean, Mitch McConnell had a huge hand in that. Donald Trump took full advantage of it as well. And I think it's unfortunate that we have the court as divided and slanted, basically, as it is right now.

I think this is the most political and partisan that I can recall the court in my lifetime. And it's having an impact because they -- unfortunately, this is the time we've got a president who's willing to test every limit, push everything, push the envelope, break every, you know, whatever. He's doing all of those. And I think they're going to have three Supreme Court cases with Trump right now or something. And, you know, you all showed the trial, the court schedule that's coming up, and he has already got the sexual assault finding and, you know, the fraud findings, all that stuff, and he's not even halfway through.

So, bad merger between a permissive court that I guess feels like there are things it needs to do for Donald Trump like let the clock run out and a guy who will take every advantage and abuse every process.

COATES: Let's follow that thread, congressman, because if Donald Trump were to become the president of the United States again or, frankly, anyone is the president at any point in time, what happens to checks and balances if a president gets absolute immunity? Your job becomes obsolete, frankly.

IVEY: Well, it becomes dangerous, too, I suppose. I mean, Judge Pan at the D.C. Circuit Court level said, well, you know, could the president have team -- SEAL Team Six assassinate one of his rivals? And they wouldn't say no. I mean, they basically said, you know, a qualified yes or something like that.

COATES: Which was beyond absurd to me.

IVEY: It's astonishing. But that's where they left it. They also didn't rule out other possibilities that the court noted, like, you know, bribery, for example. One of the real ones, though, that's in the indictment was, you know, the fake electors that they were going to swap out.

At one point, I don't know if this is in any of the indictments or not, but he was talking to Esper, the secretary of defense, and Milley, the general, and talking about having them seize ballot boxes.

So, you know, this is a guy that was pushed back by some of the people who were there at the time. But if you give him carte blanche like this and the Supreme Court approval, basically, I don't know that he's going to recognize any lines. In fact, if he gets reelected, I don't know that he'll recognize any lines anyway.

COATES: What's so interesting to me about what you said in particular is you remind us that in all the cases that are being talked about, no one is talking about the underlying allegations, right? With Fani Willis, it's about disqualification. In conversations in Mar-a-Lago, it's about immunity. In the January 6th case here in Washington, D.C., again, similarities to that. They're not talking about what the American people want, which is the conclusion by a jury as to guilt.

IVEY: Yeah, there's a lot of people and reasonably so who want to know whether he's guilty or not of those charges. From my perspective, just the mere fact that these allegations are there and substantiated at least beyond, you know, to a probable cause standpoint, is more than enough for people to say, you know, I don't think we want this guy in the White House again. But for some people, they want to know what that verdict would be, and okay, I think they have a right to hear it, I suppose. I think it does make sense to resolve these cases, especially that one, prior to the election.

So, Supreme Court taking two weeks to make decision about whether they want to hear it or not, and the oral argument seven weeks later talking about, you know, issuing a ruling in June, when if you look at, say, Bush v. Gore, where they did all of this in a matter of, like, weeks altogether, I think the turnaround between the oral argument and the ruling was like a day or two.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

IVEY: They should be doing that here. This case is similar. In fact, it's just as important, if not more important, than that one, and I think there's a real sense of urgency that's lacking on the court's part right now.

COATES: That's okay. I mean, democracy is just in the balance. Why be urgent now, congressman?

IVEY: Yeah.

COATES: Why be urgent now? Thank you for being here. I appreciate it so much.

IVEY: Thanks for having me.


COATES: On top of the Supreme Court taking up the issue of immunity, there's another state that's now kicking Trump off the ballot. So, what are the voters going to make of all of this? We'll talk about it next.


COATES: And then there were three. Well, in the avalanche of news on Trump's legal perils, Illinois now becoming the latest state to boot Trump off of the ballot, a judge citing the old 14th Amendment insurrectionist ban in her ruling.

Now, remember, Colorado was the first state to make the move, with Maine following. Now, the Illinois decision is paused, and Trump has a short period of time to appeal.


Joining me now, host of the "Can We Please Talk?" podcast, Mike Leon. Also, CNN political commentator Karen Finney. So, can we please talk for a second?

MIKE LEON, PODCAST HOST: I love it. Keep promoting.

COATES: It has been quite a day. LEON: Yes.

COATES: The Supreme Court weighing in to all of this. And remember, Super Tuesday, we've all heard of it, is coming on Tuesday.


COATES: I know. And voters are not going to have the answers to many a question about this, and that's an impact for voters, is it not?

LEON: I mean, it depends on which voters you talk to. You know, you both know I live in a red state, so they all think this is all politically-motivated. One data point that I noticed the other day, this was a great article that was in the Hill, Noble Predictive Insights did something on Arizona voters.


LEON: You saw that, right?

FINNEY: Uh-hmm.

COATES: You guys are both nerds.


Yeah, we both read that. Okay, go ahead.

LEON: You knew it, didn't you?


LEON: You knew it already. Well, but in that poll --


LEON: I agree, I agree. Arizona, less than 10,000 votes, right, for Joe Biden, are in that margin. And all of the voters there are aware of the charges, but they're split on how this works. Thirty percent think it's politically-motivated, 35% think he didn't do anything, 34% were actually waiting to see the results of it.


LEON: So, we really don't know what we don't know. It depends on who you talk to.

FINNEY: And it's interesting because, remember, in our own CNN polling, we saw this in January. We started to see people as we were asking the question, okay, if he's convicted, how do you feel? And people said it would change their vote.

LEON: Right.

FINNEY: NPR, PBS/NPR did a poll that showed 51% of likely voters, so all parties, both parties, would vote for Biden if he's convicted. So, it definitely gives Biden a bump. But to your point, Laura, I think it's -- you know, it is a big deal that people won't have the answer to a really important question that they deserve to know before they cast their ballot in terms of -- I mean, to many of us, we think it's pretty obvious what happened on January 6th, but there's a lot we don't even know.

And that's part of why I actually think, even if we can't have the resolution of the case, I think the information that will be coming out as it proceeds, hopefully, that will at least give people an opportunity to have at least a picture of what was going on and what was his role.

LEON: Can I say just one thing, just as an outside observer to all this, even though I minored in criminal justice at Rutgers, so I think I'm a lawyer.


There is a lot -- right, exactly, Rutgers. There is probably a lot of people that have been watching this network or other networks and they see so many legal analysts and almost the, it's not so much an overkill of it, but it's like, I don't understand any of this, I want to wait to see when it plays out.

And in that same poll, there was like 40 to 41% of moderates that were saying, you know, I'm just going to wait for the process to play out, let me see what the courts decide before I vote.

You and I, we think it's wild --

FINNEY: No, I think --

LEON: -- to wait, but they want to wait.

FINNEY: It's true. And in a couple of other polls, people said they wanted to see what the court -- what happened.

COATES: Well, I have my own poll. I can join the nerds.

LEON: Okay. All right.

FINNEY: Let's see.

COATES: Okay, there you go.

FINNEY: There you go.

COATES: It was a CNN poll. There was a verdict before 2024. Check this out. The question was, should a federal trial on Trump election charges be resolved before 2024? Yes, some said it was essential, 48%. Some said, yeah, but not essential. Some said no, and 25% said it doesn't matter.

Now, again, that's just the idea of it being resolved, not starting with the calendar we have right now. So, I wonder if for some who are supportive of Trump also would want this to be resolved, because then it just puts it in the rearview mirror. You know, he's going to be able to sort of do this with his hands at the end of the day. But if his campaign is witch hunt, that is currency you can't get if it's resolved.

FINNEY: Correct, although, thankfully, since there's, what, 91 counts, I think something is not going to be resolved. But you're exactly right. I mean, he has made it a centerpiece of his campaign. And the other thing about Trump, though, it's pretty baked in. People, I think, how they feel about him, what they think they know about him, is pretty hardened.

I think what is probably malleable, again, is those moderates and independents who we haven't had him tweeting at us all day, every day for a while. It is when they start to hear and remember the chaos that I think it may shift their vote.

LEON: I agree. I got asked this the other day about, are we seeing something right now with all of the voters that are turning out? Like, is this indicative of the larger? No, of course not. These are Republican primary voters. It's negative 27 degrees. I got to go vote for Donald Trump. Like, that may not happen in the general when it comes to moderates and independents. And the data is proving that right now.

Now, Joe Biden has his own stuff. We've seen, you know, with the -- I forget the name of the vote that happened in Michigan. Uncommitted?

COATES: Uncommitted.

LEON: Thank you. That's right. Everybody should know that after watching you two last night, put on a clinic of that. So, uncommitted vote. We're seeing that, how that's going to play out, how that's going to affect what takes turns with Hamas just not agreeing to the ceasefire. Like, all of these things are going to play themselves out.

COATES: I do wonder that balance.


Which has the harder hill to climb? Biden on foreign policy, Trump on his legal issues? We'll have to wait and see. Karen, Mike, thank you both so much.

Next, a story I don't want to get lost in the Trump of it all tonight. The one story that won't use his name tonight is after this.



COATES: We've been covering a lot of major Trump legal developments tonight. But while that has all been unfolding at a very dramatic pace, it's not the only story tonight. In fact, there are two that I want to bring to your attention on a topic that I am very passionate about. Just a few hours ago, the state of Texas executed death row inmate Ivan Cantu, a man who maintained his innocence for 20 years until his very last breath. He was convicted of killing his cousin and the cousin's fiancee back in 2000. But Cantu said that he was framed and deprived of a fair trial.

Many advocates had claimed prosecutorial misconduct and ineffective defense and recanted witness testimony as reason to stop the execution.

Earlier this week, both Texas appeals court and a federal appeals court denied requests for a stay. His attorney did not appeal to the Supreme Court, saying there was no viable path forward.

Cantu's execution happened just hours after a botched lethal injection in Idaho. They had to stop the execution of serial killer Thomas Creech after they failed to set an IV line. They tried eight times. The team, the medical team, citing what they called access issues in some instances and vein quality issues in others.

His death warrant will expire and the state will now have to consider the next steps. It would have been Idaho's first execution in 12 years.

Thank you all for watching. Our coverage continues.