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Laura Coates Live

Laura Coates Interviews Fat Joe; Trump Hosts Far-Right Putin Ally Viktor Orban at Mar-a-Lago; CNN Presents "Overtime with Bill Maher"; United Flight Makes Emergency Landing After Engine Catches Fire; Laura Coates Interviews Oscar-Nominated Jeffrey Wright. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired March 08, 2024 - 23:00   ET



RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: You talk about looking for this, but if your AI knows what to look for, then the AI is a much better opportunity of spotting something that would look different to what is expected, and that is why I feel more confident. If the Malaysians will sign the contract, if Ocean Infinity is given the time to do it because -- think about this next time you fly, we need to know what happened.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Richard Quest, thank you very much. "Laura Coates Live" starts right now.

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: It's Friday night, you all know how much I love my movies, and with the Oscars coming up on Sunday, I'm giving out a few awards tonight, tonight on "Laura Coates Live."

All right, after this crazy week of news, do not bother me on Sunday night. I've got dresses to judge from my couch. Can you feel the excitement?


UNKNOWN: This is the most important thing that ever happened in the history of the world!

UNKNOWN: I don't have anything big planned, just a giant blowout party with all the Barbies and planned choreography and a bespoke song. You should stop by.


COATES: Well, tonight, we've got some awards of our own. I'm calling them the Laura Coates Live awards for this week in news, and the winners are best energetic performance at a State of the Union. It goes to President Joe Biden.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In November, my team began serious negotiation with a bipartisan group of senators. The result was a bipartisan bill with the toughest set of border security reforms we've ever seen.


Oh, you don't think so? Oh, you don't like that bill, huh?


COATES: How about this one? Best alleged con artist at the State of the Union. I'm talking about the expelled congressman and repeat candidate now, George Santos. Also, hold on, how about this one? Best -- what am I going to call this one? Best costume design? It's going to go to Marjorie Taylor Greene for her swag last night. Yes, it will. And how about the best swan song? It's going to Nikki Haley.


NIKKI HALEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The time has now come to suspend my campaign. I have no regrets.


COATES: Then there's the best, and this is my neck of the woods, best cost -- courtroom drama. I'm talking about Fani Willis in the middle of a disqualification fight in the Georgia election subversion case and now facing two primary challengers come this November.


FANI WILLIS, FULTON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: They can continue on with their games, and I'm going to continue to do the work of the people.


COATES: Well, how about the best supporting role in a bromance or buddy movie? Hungarian strongman Viktor Orban, the authoritarian leader known for weakening democracy in his own country, meeting with Donald Trump this evening at Mar-a-Lago.





COATES: That'll be stuck in your head all weekend. But look, with the presidential election just 242 days away, but who's counting? At two, no one is waiting for the accountants at the Oscars to deliver the results in a suitcase from stage left. The candidates are going to have to work to get that sweet prize of not holding an Oscar but being called a two-term president. Now, Trump is the presumptive nominee we know, but I guarantee you, he won't think it's just an honor to have been nominated. Biden streamed his or steamed his tuxedo last night at the State of the Union, wondering if he'll get to wear it for his own acceptance speech.

Now, I want to bring in a special guest who was at the State of the Union last night. I have with me tonight, Grammy-nominated artist, entrepreneur, philanthropist, all around wonderful man, Fat Joe. Nice to see you!

FAT JOE, RAPPER: Hey, Laura. What's up? Thanks for having me on.

COATES: I'm so glad you're here. I'm happy you were in town. You were actually there last night as Congresswoman Barragan's guest, right? In part because, Joe, you have been an enormous advocate for a transparent health care system. I mean, you even released a PSA with Rick Ross, with Busta Rhymes, others. Listen to what you have to say. I want everyone to see this.


UNKNOWN: Love our nurses.

FAT JOE: And we need our doctors.

UNKNOWN: But hospitals and insurance.

FAT JOE: Rigging.

UNKNOWN: A system to make profits off of people that's in struggle is unforgivable.

UNKNOWN: We demand prices.

UNKNOWN: And transparency in health care.

UNKNOWN: Power to the Patients.



COATES: First of all, you've got the best beard of everyone we just saw. I'm just saying for a second there. Don't tell them.


You know, you see it. You see it. I see it. But you have been passionate about this. I'm wondering, given that, are you optimistic coming out of the address last night that at least that portion will be met?

FAT JOE: Well, I know that's what I was doing there, going for health care transparency. Over 100 million Americans are in debt due to hospital prices. And so, I was over there and I was mingling with everybody. So, you know, I'm a diehard Democrat. But I snuck in the speaker's gala first because I had to deal with the Republicans. I'm trying to bring this law through bipartisan.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

FAT JOE: So, I went up in there. He saw me, said Fat Joe, he told his wife, you all, I got street cred, Fat Joe came to check me. Then they had an incredible spread of food and in true Democrat fashion, I was the first to eat the food there. And then I talked to everybody about health care transparency on the Republican side. Then I went to see Hakeem Jeffries.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

FAT JOE: Hung out over there, saw they're spread out, too, you know, and just hung out with everybody over there and just bringing awareness that America is in a big crisis. You know, a lot of people are losing their homes, losing everything they got due to health care prices. And so that's why I was in there.

But now, the atmosphere, Lord, this was the Super Bowl of politics. So, standing room only. I'm upper deck, too. I didn't have like a front row. I'm usually court side at a Knick game. I'm upper deck.


I don't feel too bad because the governor, Kathy Hochul from New York, was sitting next to me. So, we both was in the cheap seats. Right? But we had the time of our lives.

The president, vintage Joe Biden, I've been a fan for so many years since he was a senator. He was so sharp. He hit every point he had to hit. He was flawless. He was comedic in a way. The whole thing is theater. So, you got him making his points. You got the vice president, my girl, Kamala Harris. She's cheering him on. And then you got the speaker behind him making all kind of faces.

COATES: A lot of faces.

FAT JOE: This is theater. This was the all-star game of politics. I was glad I had a seat in the House.

COATES: Well, what about those who were in the crowd heckling? Were you surprised by that? What was your reaction when you saw and heard President Biden responding to calls from the audience? And the audience, of course, were members of Congress.

FAT JOE: He showed that he was sharp. He showed that this wasn't like a scripted thing because he was responding right back to them. To whatever they were saying, he was responding. And that's just the state of politics now. you know, this ain't the back in the days. This is now where you got, you know, everybody screaming out, doing whatever, you know. And that's just the state of politics. That's where we are right now, 2024.

COATES: Let me ask you. When you said you met with Republicans and Democrats, I'm happy to hear that because, obviously, you have been so passionate. You know the only path forward is the bipartisanship on an issue like that. When you spoke to Speaker Johnson, when you talked to Republicans, did you feel more than the fan love? Did your policies, did your proposals, were those resonating?

FAT JOE: He told me -- the speaker told me he was a health attorney before this and knows all about the issue, and said he's all in. And so, we love this Power to the Patients. And myself, we love this bill being presented by Bernie Sanders and Senator Brown, which is a bipartisan bill. It forces the hospitals to show us the prices.

Now, Joe, what's so important about the prices? Well, if you got to have an MRI, there's a such thing going on right now in the same hospital, they could charge four different prices for four different patients in the same hospital at the same time.

So now we want to know the prices so that we can do our research, look at three hospitals, and it builds competition and it helps the Americans. So, I'm just spreading the word, talking to everybody, letting everybody know. They all know I'm a diehard Democrat, but they know (INAUDIBLE).

And then I want to shout out Rep. Barragan because she had never -- she's a congresswoman for eight years, she had never been to the speaker's gala. So, I convinced her. I said, you know, we got to go. And so, we started out. She was talking to everybody, talking to each other. It was a great event for me. For me, it was amazing. And then I actually bumped into the president.

COATES: What did he say to you?

FAT JOE: You know, I'm the Forrest Gump of hip hop, man. I'm everywhere I need to be.


You can't make this up. You can't make this up.


I've walked into all the hip hop, the president. He says, man -- I mean, you want to know what he really told me.


FAT JOE: He said, thank you for being loyal. And then he hugged a congresswoman. He shook my hand. That was -- that was amazing to me because I had no clue the president was walking right towards me. I had no clue. And it was -- that was it. That was amazing. I walked out of there because, you know, they locked down the whole Washington, D.C.

COATES: Of course.

FAT JOE: I walked maybe 15, 20 blocks. So happy just walking. I met the president. I had the time of my life. I had a great time. The American people were there. I mean, it was amazing. COATES: I'm going to tell you something. I think you are the only person in the world who could refer to you as Forrest Gump. So, I'm going to let you do it, but I would never do. I'm going to call you Fat Joe, the diplomat, as I'm going to call you from now on because, wow, the ambassador in the hallways.

I'm so glad that you came. You brought a big smile to my face. Thank you for the advocacy and what you're talking about for health care because I tell you, I remember a couple of years ago going to the hospital thinking I had like some sort of heart palpitations, and the bill I got caused a heart attack. Okay? I was like, are you are you joking? Really? Are you kidding me right now with this? So, I understand.

And for people who have been in various situations, the cost is obscene. So, I'm glad to know that you are making some headway, at least in bipartisanship. Real quick, though, I know I got to go, they're telling me I got to get off with you, but I can't help it.

I got to ask you, you know, this upcoming election, your enthusiasm, your charisma is something that people don't necessarily have for the upcoming election. How do you get people to be excited about participating in the elections and voting?

FAT JOE: I think they are. I think they're just keeping it to themselves.


FAT JOE: They're trying to act like they're not really motivated, but they're really motivated, and they really know what they got to do. And so, on both sides, I feel a big energy. You know, I got Trumpers here in Miami with me. They don't stop. And then I got the Democrats up in New York talking about, you know, Joe, we got to go all the way.

And so, everybody is really, really excited. And now it's crunch time. Before, it was the primaries. Now, it's one on one. Let's go. Let's get the business. And Joe Biden came out swinging last night. I don't care what anybody says. I haven't seen Joe Biden like that in years. He was really, really sharp last night.

COATES: Well, you were there. You had a front row seat. Well, cheap seats, but still in the front row compared to rest of America. I'm going to call it that. Okay? Fat Joe, so nice to see you as always. Thank you for coming

FAT JOE: Hey, listen, I want to be a juror on your show. Nobody ever asked me to be a juror.

COATES: Man, done.

FAT JOE: I want to be a juror on one of your shows.

COATES: I can't wait. Court of Public Opinion with Fat Joe, done. I'll even bring a gavel. Just saying.

FAT JOE: All right.

COATES: We'll talk soon, okay?


Thank you. We'll talk soon. Bye.


Man, what a pleasure. I really like him. I really like him.

Well, you know what? He didn't get a White House invitation, didn't sit in the cheap seats, but Viktor Orban did go to Florida, and he visited Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago. I'm going to ask the former defense secretary, Mark Esper, what's behind Trump's fascination with the world's autocrats.




COATES: President Biden railing against Hungarian authoritarian leader Viktor Orban's visit to Mar-a-Lago this evening when he met with former President Trump for nearly an hour.

Joining me now, CNN Global Affairs analyst and former defense secretary under President Trump, Mark Esper. He serves on the board or as a strategic advisor for a handful of aerospace and defense-related companies as well.

Secretary Esper, thank you so much for being with us. I had to almost cock my head for a second, listening to that characterization of Viktor Orban. That must be striking to hear, some of the accolades he was bestowing upon him.

MARK ESPER, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY UNDER TRUMP ADMINISTRATION: Yeah. Well, good evening, Laura, first of all. But, look, no, it's not surprising. Viktor Orban is the odd man out in Europe, within NATO as well. He tends to buck both the Union and the Alliance at times and has drawn himself closer to Vladimir Putin in Russia.

Hungary was the last country to approve Sweden's admission to NATO in the last few weeks. And there's always been this, again, relationship between him and him and Donald Trump, as there has been with between Trump and others who he views as strongmen. So, this is not a surprise necessarily.

I'm a little surprised that Orban came all the way from Hungary to the United States, to Florida to meet with Trump, but maybe he's leaning into the election, figuring that Trump will be elected in November, and he wants Trump to remember that.

COATES: We often think about that phrase, strongmen. But give us some insight into Trump's worldview here because -- I wonder, why does he gravitate towards these autocrats? Is it the strength that he perceives or do they have some similarities in their worldviews?

ESPER: Look, I wish I could explain that as many times as I've been asked that question. But clearly, he has a predilection for leaders whom he perceives to be strong. So, think about Xi Jinping in China, Vladimir Putin in Russia, Erdogan in Turkey and others.

And, of course, if you're not a strong leader, you're considered a weak leader. So, think about the Canadian prime minister.


Think about the prime minister of England, May, at a time. Angela Merkel of Germany, when she was in office. He saw them as weak. And so that kind of painted his view, not just toward them, but toward what he would see as the U.S. policy toward those countries. And that's just how he breaks the world down and breaks things down between strong and weak.

COATES: You know, Orban was also a featured speaker at CPAC. I wonder, what does that say to you about where the Republican Party is today? I wonder why the Republican Party is giving him this kind of platform.

ESPER: Well, you know, I don't know. He was at CPAC, as I recall, as well. You know, clearly Orban is going to say things that folks going to CPAC want to hear about Donald Trump and how Donald Trump would be right for the United States. And so, there's that international validation that is out there. I assume that's a big part of it.

But again, I think Orban is also playing a strategic game. You're trying to stay in Donald Trump's good graces, understanding that there's a chance that Trump will be president again.

COATES: This is a kind of a contingency plan, a just in case, it seems, in many respects. You know, democracy was front and center at last night's State of the Union. It made up, I think, about 17 percent of Biden's overall speech. And notable, by the way, when compared to last year's nearly two-minute mention. Here's the president talking about the threat to democracy.


BIDEN: I say this to Congress, we have to stand up to Putin.


Send me a bipartisan national security bill. History is literally watching. History is watching. The United States walks away. It will put Ukraine at risk. Europe is at risk. The free world will be at risk and it will embolden others to do what they wish to do us harm.


COATES: The president saying he won't bow down to Putin and needs -- and knows that there is a need for Congress, he believes, to pass aid for Ukraine. And without that help, what would happen to Ukraine? ESPER: Yeah, well, first of all, look, I think it's right for the president to speak about the issue of democracy because clearly, the world right now is dividing itself up between the democracies of the world led by the United States and the autocracies of the world led by China and Vladimir Putin in Russia.

And as somebody who considers himself a Reagan Republican, that type of language, that type of messaging about what's at stake in America's role in the world appeals to me but, you know, sadly, not enough in the Republican Party these days.

And, you know, my view is if Ukraine's aid is not sustained, then it's only a matter of time before they will be unable to continue to repel Russian assaults in the Donbas and elsewhere, and it's only a matter of time before other allied assistance will falter as well. And then the question will be, how long can Ukraine hold out? How long will they fight? How much terrain will they give up?

Now, on the other hand, I do think it's important that the president continue to connect the importance of aiding Ukraine with what it means to Americans. He needs to talk about how the 60 plus billion dollars in assistance that's being proposed isn't going straight to Ukraine. It's actually coming back to America's factories and defense companies and employees.

And he needs to talk about the strategy in the end game. I think those are legitimate critiques that remain out there that I've offered in the past as well, about how to connect those thoughts and connect more with the American people, and hopefully with decision makers in Washington as well.

COATES: That's part of a very effective communication strategy to make sure those dots are connected, but also to follow up and let people understand why himself and others like even Senator Mitch McConnell and beyond have been very, very vocal about the idea of connecting these dots between democracy at risk in some places and here, and two men couldn't really be more different than the two of them and their policy stances otherwise.

I want to turn to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, secretary, because Biden unveiled a new plan to build a floating pier of sorts used to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza. But listen.


BIDEN: No U.S. boots will be on the ground. A temporary pier will enable a massive increase in the amount of humanitarian assistance getting into Gaza every day.


COATES: My ears peak to when you hear no boots on the ground. But this pier will need as many as, I think, a thousand U.S. military personnel to actually complete. So, even if they're not going to be on the ground, will U.S. troops be in the line of fire? ESPER: Yeah, I think it's a stretch to say that. I mean, maybe technically not on the ground, even that is hard to believe, but you're right, it's up to a thousand soldiers, will probably take 45 to 60 days.

This is something the United States military does exceptionally well. That's logistics. And in this case, it's called logistics over the shore. And look, to do that, you're talking about assembling pieces of a bridge by boat with soldiers on there and hitching them together.


At the end of the day, you have to anchor it to the shore. So, if somebody has to anchor it to the shore, you'll have soldiers crawling up and down that causeway that could stretch hundreds and hundreds of feet to connect it to what would be a floating pier. So, look, there's going to be a lot of Americans crawling around out there assembling this pier. It's going to take some time to do it as well. It has to be maintained.

And so, look, the bottom line is there will be Americans exposed. And the question is, what type of security will accompany them to make sure that they're protected? But also, how will Hamas react? Will Hamas respect them, respect what they're trying to do to bring aid to Palestinian people in Gaza, or will they use them as targets or as something to go after to continue to raise the profile of the cause that they're trying to advance?

I think the security issue is a big unknown. I have no doubt that we could build the causeway, that it will help with supplies. It's better than airdrops, not as good as a land corridor. So, it'll have a big impact over time. But there will be a security issue that has to be addressed up front.

COATES: Well, what would that look like in terms of addressing that security?

ESPER: Well, I think you're going to have to think about security from the air and the sea, and then you're going to have to figure out how do you provide what's called local security, right? So, if you have soldiers working, building the causeway, maintaining it as well, you have to figure out how do you protect them from both indirect fire, which means you would need a means to shoot down rockets or mortars or whatnot, but also direct fire.

You don't want armed groups coming aboard your causeway and taking American soldiers, assaulting American soldiers. You don't want them interrupting the flow of logistics coming off of the causeway and hitting the beach.

And that's really another big unknown. Who's going to handle the security on the beach at the landing point and then who's going to be in charge of distribution once it hits the ground? These are all big questions that need to be answered, again, before you can start flowing supplies from the sea onto the beach and then into Gaza. COATES: And by the way, secretary, will any of these answers be provided publicly or is this something that's going to happen behind the scenes, obviously, due to the security risks we're talking about?

ESPER: No, I think you want to be as transparent as possible, certainly with your friends. My understanding is there may be private companies helping as well. There has to be some protection for them also. Clearly, the Israeli government has to be bought into it.

And then you have to have Hamas and whoever's in charge in Gaza on that end, make sure that they know that there will be consequences if they mess with U.S. troops, if they mess with the flow of logistics and so on.

COATES: Secretary Mark Esper, it sounds like a very daunting proposition. But then again, look how severe the humanitarian crisis is. Thank you so much for joining us this evening.

ESPER: Thank you, Laura. Have a great evening.

COATES: You, too. Coming up, CNN's presentation of HBO's "Overtime with Bill Maher."




COATES: Now, let's turn it over to our friends at HBO because every Friday after "Real Time with Bill Maher," Bill and his guests answer viewer questions about topics in the national conversation. Here is "Overtime with Bill Maher."



BILL MAHER, HBO POLITICAL TALK SHOW HOST: Hi, CNN. It's us here at "Real Time" with my panel, a fellow at the Modern War Institute at West Point, Max Brooks, and she's a senior political correspondent at Puck, Tara Palmeri. Okay.


MAHER: Here are the questions. Any predictions for the Oscars on Sunday?


MAX BROOKS, FELLOW, MODERN WAR INSTITUTE AT WEST POINT: What are you looking at me for? I ain't there. I don't have a movie.


I mean, I know --

PALMERI: Wait, wait, wait. I know. Bradley Cooper will win something because he seems so desperate for an Oscar.




BROOKS: Well, I can tell you -- I mean, my personal favorite as a novelist is American fiction.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Whoa!


MAHER: That's great.

BROOKS: I think it's amazing. Everybody is amazing. So, go guys.

MAHER: Okay. What do you think of -- this is for you, but everybody can answer. What do you think of Trump meeting with Viktor Orban? He is the dictator. Is that just throwing a word of Hungary?


MAHER: I mean, he's an authoritarian figure.

PALMERI: Yeah. Yeah, he's as close as it gets in the Western world.

MAHER: Yeah. I mean, he was elected, but so was Hitler.

PALMERI: Right. And he seems to be elected over and over and over again.


PALMERI: But I think, actually, most Americans know nothing about Viktor Orban, so it probably has no impact on his electability.


MAHER: I really believe that.

PALMERI: And that's the truth.

BROOKS: You're right.


BROOKS: That's true.


MAHER: But can we educate them a little? PALMERI: Oh, yes, sure. Hungary is a country.

MAHER: We're on CNN now.

BROOKS: Right.

PALMERI: Yeah, yeah.

MAHER: Come on. Who is Viktor Orban?

PALMERI: There is a country. It's called Hungary. You may have heard of it.

MAHER: It's part of my heritage.


MAHER: It's Hungarian.

PALMERI: It's amazing. And it is on Eastern Europe. And it became a part of the European Union, but it is definitely the most difficult member of the European Union by far.

MAHER: Yeah. It used to be part of the Soviet bloc.

PALMERI: Exactly.

MAHER: It was part of the group with East Germany and Poland and Czechoslovakia.

BROOKS: And allies with Hitler in World War II.

MAHER: Well, many were.

BROOKS: Right. And they were -- they were one of the countries that basically were like, don't worry, Hungarian Jews, we're not going to turn you over, we're not going to turn you over, you're not going to turn -- yeah, we are. And then by the very end, bam, all at once.

MAHER: Right. Yeah.

PALMERI: Right. And they have a very strong anti-immigration stance, especially with the migrants that are coming through Europe.


PALMERI: They have been the most resistant to taking any migrants that have come through. Actually, the borders of Eastern Europe as they came through Syria. And yeah, it's an interesting thing to see this country like try to have the benefits of the West but also be resistant as well.

MAHER: You know who else didn't take any Syrian refugees? Saudi Arabia.

PALMERI: Hmm. MAHER: Where they might have fit in a little better.


MAHER: I'm just saying.


You know, it's ---


MAHER: I know. I get it.

PALMERI: Fair enough.

MAHER: Yeah. Okay. Do you think a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine is possible? Yeah, we got 80 seconds. Let's prove that.


BROOKS: A 100 percent. And this is what so many people don't understand about Biden.

MAHER: You do? You think a two-state --

BROOKS: I think it's 100 percent possible. Biden is the guy to do it because he has established his bona fides. These things do not happen overnight.


And the first step of making peace is establishing your cred. There's an old saying, it's either U.S. Diplomatic Corps or Star Trek VI, only Nixon could go to China. Right?

MAHER: Yeah.

BROOKS: He's the only guy with the bona fides to do it. And Biden was so smart in Israel's darkest moment. Right after October 7th, he came to Israel and said, I am your friend, I am your protector. So now, he is in a position to say, as your friend and your protector, I can tell you, the only long-term solution for Israel is a creation of Palestine.

MAHER: But you're only talking about this from one side. You do realize that Hamas does not want a two-state solution.

BROOKS: No, no.

MAHER: They want the whole thing, from the river to the sea.

BROOKS: Right. But Hamas needs to be isolated. And we need to talk. The fourth player in this quartet is the Arab world. Right? These are -- and the good news here is that the world has changed in 20 years. And it's not your father's Middle East anymore. Right? This is not dictators in the 60s.

MAHER: In some ways. In some ways.

BROOKS: In some ways. But it's not like --

MAHER: In some way, it is.

BROOKS: Yeah. But now, there is a new coming war with Iran. And there are real --


BROOKS: This is huge. And the Gulf Arabs especially --

MAHER: The war between Israel and Iran?

BROOKS: No, between the Iranians and the Gulf Arabs. That's the war. That's the big conflict. And the Gulf Arabs are scared to death.

MAHER: Yeah.

BROOKS: Which is why they tried to do a peace treaty with Israel, forgetting the Palestinians --

MAHER: Right.

BROOKS: -- because their attitude is, we need Israel.

MAHER: Well, and again, for those people who we imagine don't know this stuff, but I think they probably do because they're watching CNN --


MAHER: -- the Iranians are Shiites.

BROOKS: Right.

MAHER: And the Gulf Arabs, most of the Arab world is Sunni.


MAHER: Okay. That's, I think, 85 percent. But the Shiites are very strong. And the Iranians have proxies in almost every country that is surrounding Israel. They have the Houthis. That's in Yemen. That's to the south. They have -- they took over Iraq because we stupidly went and undid the balance of power there. Syria. And Lebanon, Hezbollah. So, that is a Shiite Iranian-led arc that goes all around the Middle East.


MAHER: And yes, it is very frightening. And that was causing Saudi Arabia and Israel to make peace with each other, because the friend of my friend is --

BROOKS: Right.


MAHER: -- the friend of my enemy or whatever that saying is. My cousin's cousin is my friend. I don't know.



MAHER: But you know what I'm trying to say.

BROOKS: But we're in a better position than we've ever been in. Between alternate energy tech and alternate energy business practices and infrastructure --

MAHER: Right.

BROOKS: -- we're not their crack whores anymore.

MAHER: Right.

BROOKS: Right? We're in a position now where if we walked away, we'd be in much less pain than we were 20 years ago. And 20 years from now, we can just walk away.

MAHER: Yeah.

BROOKS: And they know that.

MAHER: Right.

BROOKS: So now is the time to really pressure them and say, listen, if you want our support against Iran, you need to back a Palestinian state and use your money to build it, and then use your sons in their uniforms to be a peacekeeping force.


MAHER: Right. But again, you're going to have to convince the Palestinians themselves.

BROOKS: Right.

MAHER: That they don't get the whole thing. Because they don't seem to really want to give up on that idea.

BROOKS: Well --

MAHER: The whole river to the sea, we get it all.

BROOKS: Well, that's Hamas. Are we talking that or regular Palestinians?

MAHER: Well --

BROOKS: You know, most Palestinians are just regular people who want a life. And remember --


BROOKS: -- it was Arafat who walked away from that.

MAHER: Right.

BROOKS: It was their leadership.

MAHER: He was what you would call a regular Palestinian. I don't know what that means. The West Bank is --

BROOKS: I'm talking about the West Bank versus Gaza.

MAHER: Right.

BROOKS: Those are two different ecosystems.

MAHER: Right. Okay. What do you think of Katie Porter's claim? Okay, for people who don't live here in California, Katie Porter, a congressperson I've had on the show, not successfully --


BROOKS: Did she come with a whiteboard?

PALMERI: I can't remember that.

MAHER: No, but we don't like each other.


No, it's true. I mean, she would say the same thing. You can't get along with her.

PALMERI: You can't love everyone, yeah.

MAHER: I mean, she's not very -- I feel quite vindicated by this because everyone is saying she's a nut and she's a sore loser. She claimed that the California primary, she ran against Adam Schiff, she's a congressperson running for the Senate, and now she claims the California primary was rigged.

PALMERI: Yeah, everyone is --



MAHER: What do you think about that?

PALMERI: I just feel like you can't use the rigged word, especially when you're trying to --



PALMERI: It's like -- that's Trump's word.

MAHER: It's the R-word.

PALMERI: You can't cry wolf, right? You just can't do that.

MAHER: Right.

PALMERI: Adam Schiff elevated his Republican opponent so that he could be in an election where he was up against a Republican rather than another Democrat. And in a way, he saved the Democrats a ton of money.

Now, all this money isn't going into the California race for a Senate seat that will be filled by a Democrat. Two Democrats fighting against each other. It's Republican and Democrat. A Democrat will win. And everyone can put their money into other races.


And it's just -- you lost. It's politics. It's dirty. People do this kind of stuff.

MAHER: Right.

PALMERI: You know, let's get over it.

MAHER: It's what I'm always saying to the Trump people. You think he's so macho and you're the big, tough guys? But the basic tough thing that a tough guy would do is be able to say, I lost.



MAHER: And not pout.

PALMERI: Uh-hmm.

MAHER: And not be a whiny little bitch.


What do you think of George Santos attending the State of the Union?

PALMERI: Oh, well, you know, you get floor privileges for the rest of your life, so he might come every year.

MAHER: Is that right?


MAHER: Wait a second.

PALMERI: And it will help his cameo and his future only fans (ph).


He has to be famous. If he's not famous, then what is he? And, Bill, I don't know if you saw the latest news, he plans to primary the Republican from New York who worked so hard to try to evict him from the House. But I will say, like, privately, you're not going to believe this, but some Republican members say to me, we shouldn't have got rid of George Santos until he was actually convicted because we needed that vote. Seriously.

MAHER: Oh, I'm sure.

PALMERI: They say that all the time. They're like, we just -- we shouldn't have done it. We've waited before for other people to be convicted. And that's what they privately say.

MAHER: Isn't Menendez still a Democratic senator?



MAHER: I mean, because they need the vote.

PALMERI: Yeah, they need the vote.

MAHER: This is -- you know, this is the guy who was --

PALMERI: It's embarrassing, but --

MAHER: Right. But when you need the vote, you know, hey, he was stuffing gold bricks in his pajamas.


Well, we're not all perfect, you know.


But I'm very curious about this. So, George Santos, he was in Congress. He got kicked out, right? Which is very rare.

PALMERI: I don't think it has happened in hundreds of years.

MAHER: Like 150 years or something.

PALMERI: Okay. Yeah.

MAHER: They kicked him out. I mean, even the Republicans couldn't take it anymore. Okay, so he's not in Congress.


MAHER: But you're saying even if you're expelled, you have floor privileges?

PALMERI: Yes. MAHER: Like a gym?



You can go --

MAHER: But --

BROOKS: Is it floor privilege anytime? Can he just show up on any day?

PALMERI: I'm pretty sure that you have floor privileges for the rest of your life.

MAHER: No matter what you do? Even when you get expelled?


MAHER: Okay. Can we change that?

PALMERI: I mean, if he's in prison, he can't go to the floor, right? So, it'll be difficult.

MAHER: I'm going to run as a one-issue candidate on this, but I have to say goodnight now. Thank you, CNN. Thank you, you guys, and we'll see you next week.


COATES: You can watch "Real Time with Bill Maher" on Friday nights on HBO at 10 p.m., and then watch "Overtime" right here on CNN, Friday nights at 11:30.

Up next, a major plane scare. In midair, flames shooting out of the engine of a United Airlines flight. A passenger who was on board, that looks terrifying, joins me next in just a moment.




COATES: Back-to-back scares this week involving United Airlines flights. The first, one of 12, 12 tires that make up the landing gear fell from this United plane just moments after it took off in San Francisco yesterday. The massive tire landed in a nearby parking lot, crushing multiple cars. And thankfully, nobody was injured. The plane was diverted to Los Angeles and then landed safely.

And earlier this week, another United flight was diverted after flames were seen shooting out of the engine, causing the aircraft to shake and at one point take a nosedive.

In a statement, the airline says -- quote -- "The United Flight 1118 returned to Houston shortly after takeoff due to an engine issue. The flight landed safely and the passengers deplaned normally."

Well, my next guest was one of the passengers on that United flight, Elliot Trexler. Thank you so much for joining us. That must have been terrifying. I mean, you were on this flight from Texas to Florida. Can you just take us back to the moment that you say you heard this loud explosion?

ELLIOT TREXLER, PASSENGER ON UNITED FLIGHT WITH FLAMES SHOOTING FROM ENGINE: Yeah, it was a loud explosion. So, I actually was sitting in the row where the engine was. So, yeah. And it was a night flight, so the entire cabin was dark. And about 20 minutes into the flight, there was this really loud explosion.

And by the way, I've flown a lot, so I'm used to bumps and little gyrations, but this was a loud explosion that I'd never heard before. And simultaneously, the whole area lit up with red and orange and yellow light because of the explosion, and the plane started to nosedive as well as rock back and forth.

So, all of that happened all at once just in the blink of an eye. And, you know, I looked over to the left like that and saw massive flames coming out of the engine. It was terrifying.

COATES: I'm so happy to be talking to you and that everyone was safe. But in those moments, I mean, you were so scared. You wrote an email to your wife saying -- quote -- "I love you. You should be free to live your best life. You gave me everything and are an angel. I love you." And a few minutes later, you wrote another email to say, "As of now, my plane is probably making an emergency landing. I love you. I am calm. I'm listening to the power of now."

I cannot imagine my husband sending me these. I mean, hopefully, she got them after the second one. It was maybe during something else. But, my God, in that moment, what was going through your mind?

TREXLER: So, actually, what's interesting about the timing of those emails, it appears that they were only one minute apart because of when they actually were able to be sent through.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

TREXLER: But they were written 15 minutes apart. They just -- because finally, they were able to get sent through at the same time.


Anyway, what was going through my mind when I sent the first email was I'm going to die. And I was resigned to that fact. As you saw in the second email that I sent to my wife, I was listening to a meditation. I figured if this is my last one and a half or two minutes on this planet, I'm going to go out comfortably and peacefully.

And in fact, there was a nice young couple sitting next to me who had just had their first-born baby. And her mom was babysitting the baby. And they actually wrote an email for their newborn --


TREXLER: -- to read at an age when she was older. I mean, and this isn't unique to just me and this other couple. Everybody, not everybody, I don't know if everybody, but a lot of people had done similar things.

COATES: Oh, my gosh. Elliot, thank God that everything turned out okay. But just thinking about what could have been and what was going through your mind. I had to tell you, kudos to you because I'm pretty sure I would have had either Beyonce or I don't know what I would have, maybe something like "My Way," Frank Sinatra. I would have had something blaring in my ears. But you chose a meditation, a better person than I.


COATES: Elliot Trexler --


COATES: -- thank you so much.


Thank you.

TREXLER: Thank you.

COATES: And I love the romance to your wife. That was really beautiful. Thank you for joining us. Thank you for being here. We'll be right back, everyone.

TREXLER: Thanks for having me.




COATES: Well, before we leave you, it's a night where the stakes are high, the tension is palpable, and the drama will be seen all around the world. Is it a court date for Donald Trump? Nope. I'm talking about the Oscars. And one thing is for sure, the era of Barbenheimer is coming to its grand finale.

Both films are up for best picture, but they are facing some pretty stiff competition for movies like Golden Globe winner "Poor Things" and Martin Scorsese's "Killers of the Flower Moon." Lily Gladstone is nominated for Best Actress for her role in that movie. She is the first Native American to be nominated in that category.

Now, there's no Best Actor nom for Leonardo DiCaprio, but there is one for a friend of the show, Jeffrey Wright, for his role in "American Fiction." Here's what he told me when we chatted.


JEFFREY WRIGHT, OSCAR-NOMINATED ACTOR: These nominations are made by our peers, our colleagues, and it has 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.


COATES: Well, we'll see how it all goes down on Sunday. Thank you for watching. Fingers and toes crossed. Our coverage continues.