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Laura Coates Live

Witness Known As 'Trump Employee 5' Speaks Out; Laura Coates Interviews Michael Cohen; Special Counsel To Testify On Biden Classified Docs Report; House Republicans Release Report Seeking To Undermine January 6 Committee And Star Witness; NAACP Calls On Black Student-Athletes To Boycott Public FL Colleges; Dozens On Boeing 787 Injured In Mid-Air "Technical Event". Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired March 11, 2024 - 23:00   ET






ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Tonight, goodbye to a power pop icon, Eric Carmen, who rose to fame as the front man of the Raspberries and charted multiple hits, including that one, "All By Myself," and so many others. He has died. His wife posted the news on the singer's website, borrowing from his songs in a message to his fans. Quote -- "Love is all that matters. Faithful and forever." Carmen was 74 years old.


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

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: So, who exactly is Trump employee number five and why in the world should you care? I'll tell you tonight on "Laura Coates Live."

I swear, you know, reading these indictments sometimes requires a kind of a key code between the redactions and unnamed people. I mean, you really need a glossary. Do you not?

Well, tonight, one person has made it a little bit easier by stepping into the spotlight. He is the mystery man referred to as "Trump Employee 5" in Jack Smith's classified documents indictment. He worked behind the scenes at Mar-a-Lago for two decades. And now, he is speaking out for the first time in a CNN exclusive.

Now, let me catch everybody up for a second on who this Brian Butler is. He has already given testimony to federal investigators. And tonight, he told Kaitlan Collins that back in June of 2022, he helped Trump's body man, Walt Nauta, deliver boxes of classified information from Mar-a-Lago to Trump's plane. Now, apparently, he had no idea what was inside of these boxes. I mean, totally oblivious, according to him.

But wait, because there's more, because apparently, he wasn't just moving the boxes, it's the timing of it. He was moving these boxes on the very same day that Trump and his attorney were meeting with the DOJ at Mar-a-Lago about what? The classified documents.



BRIAN BUTLER, TRUMP EMPLOYEE 5: Oh, yeah. They were the boxes that were in the indictment, the white banker's boxes. That's what I remember loading.

COLLINS: And did you have any idea at the time that there was potentially U.S. national security secrets in those boxes?

BUTLER: No clue. No -- I had no clue. I mean, we were just taking them out of the Escalade, piling them up. I remember they were all stacked on top of each other, and then we're lifting them up to the pilot.


COATES: Now, if you're like me, you were wondering, where are all those boxes now? Well, the answer might actually surprise you. We don't know, have no clue where those boxes are.

But here's the thing about Butler and that story he has relayed. He hasn't been charged. But Walt Nauta has, so is Trump, and so has Butler's very best friend and Mar-a-Lago coworker, Carlos De Oliveira, who has been charged with lying to federal investigators.

Now, he has pleaded not guilty, but he seems to suggest that his friend and anyone who moved those boxes was, well, they're all dirty.


BUTLER: There was one time he said, you know, we're all dirty, we all move boxes. And I said, well, look, I didn't even know what I was moving until I was at the plane, and that's when I remember moving boxes.


COATES: Hmm, there's that distance of the 10-foot pole. Well, Butler may be talking, but a lawyer for the former president and a lawyer for Nauta both declined to comment to CNN. And as for his best friend, Carlos De Oliveira, well, his attorney said in part in a statement, and I'm quoting here, "We look forward to hearing more about Mr. Butler's version of events when he is under oath. And we decline to try this case in the media."

I'm wondering how Special Counsel Jack Smith feels about the interview. I bet you are, too. But don't hold your breath because here's a spoiler alert. Their office spokesman has also declined to comment.

But you know what? And here is my question. And I will be the first to admit to you tonight that I am always skeptical. There's not a therapist couch here to unpack just why I'm always skeptical. But the question tonight, why now? Why is Brian Butler speaking out now? Well, he says it's all about the election.


COLLINS: Do you believe that this trial should happen before the election?

BUTLER: I mean, I think the American people have the right to know the facts that this is not a witch hunt.

COLLINS: You think it's a fair investigation?

BUTLER: Absolutely. I mean, to me, you have the law and order president attacking agents, the special counsel, on an almost a daily basis when these people are just taking their sworn oath.



COATES: Not a witch hunt? Right to know in a fair investigation? Did (INAUDIBLE) propel us on to a time warp tonight?

Joining me now, Tim Parlatore. He's a former Donald Trump attorney who represented him during much of the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case.

So, I'm really glad you're here tonight. I got to start by asking this question. I am nosy, so I do love to hear the information. The prosecutor in me would probably be screaming in every part of the interview, thinking, why on earth are you speaking right now? It's got to match up for me later on. If you do testify, why do you think he is coming to talk now?

TIM PARLATORE, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: I have no idea. That was one of the first things I was thinking, is, what makes, you know, a witness like that, you know, out of self, go -- you know, go out there and start talking about this stuff when the trial is, you know, supposedly upcoming? You know, it just doesn't make any sense to me.

But as a lawyer, I look at it and I say, okay, well, that right there, that's a huge line across examination. And, you know, plus --

COATES: You mean one of Trump's lawyer is trying to --

PARLATORE: Oh, yeah.

COATES: -- cross examine him?

PARLATORE: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it goes to -- you know, it goes to his credibility, it goes to his biases, definitely something that they would get into.

COATES: You know, I wonder, I think part of his reasoning is he thinks he'll be outed eventually anyway. But the witness list may be coming public by this judge.

But I had the same level of skepticism as to the why and wondered -- it was a great interview done by our colleague, but I wondered what would be the consequences of that, thinking about grand juries, thinking about testimony, and how easy it could be to say, well, hold on, you said it was yellow. Today, you called it, I don't know, taupe. Tomorrow, which one you're lying about? It does get that specific, as you well know.

But let me ask you about this because what he's saying substantively is really important here. He says that he helped Walt Nauta load boxes onto Trump's plane the same day the FBI agents and, of course, investigators were coming to search for classified documents. That is, if entirely true, stunning and really helpful for the prosecution.

PARLATORE: And at the same time, not news. It's something -- it's something that has been public for now multiple years. That was something that -

COATES: Which part? The boxes were moved?

PARLATORE: Yeah, the boxes were moved and they were loaded onto an aircraft. I mean, that's something that -- yeah, it has been out there, it was reported a couple of years ago, and it was the subject of some litigation because when it was publicly reported, that's why I had to send the team to go search Bedminster after that as a result of that.

And so, in a way, having somebody that comes in and testifies live and goes on CNN to talk about it is helpful, but before today, we already knew that they had a video of it. So --

COATES: There was some video of discussions about movement and there was something that we didn't necessarily hear from the prosecution's mouth, but we've heard from somebody as an eyewitness, essentially, although he says he really was oblivious, had no idea what was inside, following orders, I'm supposed to move the box, I moved the box, really.

But you did hear from his, I guess now former best friend, Carlos de Oliveira, who's a co-defendant in this case, that we're all dirty. Basically, anyone moving boxes, we're all dirty. He's not charged with any crime though.

PARLATORE: You know, I mean -- and I think that that's probably Carlos speaking a little in-artfully, that if there were documents like that in the boxes -- and to be clear, neither one of them looked in, so neither one of them know what was in those boxes.

You know, for somebody to say, well, we all touched them, we're all dirty, we're all in this together, I think that's probably what he was talking about. But -- I mean -- COATES: That's consciousness of guilt, though, right? Think about -- if you say to me, yeah, we moved boxes, okay, yeah, so, as opposed to, yeah, we all did this, we're all in on it.

PARLATORE: It could be. -

COATES: Doesn't that suggest something to you?

PARLATORE: It could be. It also could suggest that they just really don't understand how this process works. If they don't know what they're moving, it's certainly something to be scared of, something that you want to have a lawyer to protect you on. Maybe have a lawyer that's not going to tell you to go on TV and talk about it before you're going to be testifying in a case. But, um, yeah.

I mean, one question I have is, you brought it up earlier, where did the boxes go? What happened to the boxes? We have inventories of how many boxes were taken from the White House down to Mar-a-Lago. We have all these photos of them on the stage, in the bathroom, in the closet. Some boxes supposedly go up to Bedminster. We searched Bedminster. There were no boxes there.

And yet, you know, you would think that it'd be in the indictment of an actual number. These many boxes went down. These many boxes were recovered. These many boxes are still missing.

COATES: Well, that discrepancy, yes. I would love to have that pure and full accounting.



COATES: But if there was something nefarious occurring or you were trying to deliberately be secretive and move things from point A to point B, then I would assume I would not have the full accounting. You would have been successful in your endeavor to try to evade that level of scrutiny, don't you think?

PARLATORE: In moving them, putting them into different boxes?

COATES: No. If I put a box on a plane --


COATES: -- and it's going someplace, it could have easily, at that point, been out of sight, gone to a different location, moved by car someplace else.

I mean, there is a real disadvantage from the prosecution's standpoint, which I know the defense will capitalize on, not having that accounting. But it would make sense, I would suggest, to a jury that, well, if you're trying to hide boxes, why would I know where all of them are? That would be you and on you.

PARLATORE: But I'm saying the investigators should have that. COATES: They should.

PARLATORE: If the investigators -- if the investigators -- let's say that they know, okay, and I'm going to make this number up. There are 60 boxes that leave the White House and go down. We have recovered -- you know, 15 boxes went back to NARA. We recovered another 30 boxes. This is how many are missing.

That's not about the defendants. That's about DOJ. The FBI, you know, doing basic math of these many boxes went out, these many boxes are remaining. How many missing boxes are there?

COATES: Yes. And the surveillance tapes are going to be really important for that, right? To try to corroborate that. There is discussion, though, about them having some -- trying to erase, potentially, tapes as well that could disadvantage.

But let me ask you just more broadly. The fact that he has a separate attorney, and I know we've talked about perhaps the skepticism in which one advises to do interviews or even testify in any respect, frankly, if you have the option, what does it say to you that he does not have an attorney that is part of the Trump camp and has been one of the people to evade any prosecutions?

PARLATORE: Honestly, it doesn't really mean much to me because I was there at the time when people were hiring attorneys. They were asking for recommendations. And look, of course, we're going to recommend attorneys that are people that we can work with.

COATES: Meaning what?

PARLATORE: Meaning the people that we can communicate with, that we can sign a joint defense agreement, that we can -- you know, if they're being interviewed, that they would be willing to come back and tell us what they were interviewed about, things like that. Attorneys that you can coordinate with. Okay?

And let me tell you, a lot of the attorneys that were hired by the PAC for people were not really necessarily people that were, you know, all driving their clients to do everything loyal to Trump. These attorneys were doing what they believed independently was important for their clients.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

PARLATORE: So, I know that people try to make it out like there's an aura of all these Trump-aligned attorneys. That's not the reality of what was going on at the time, at least not what I saw. And so, the fact that he had a separate attorney, really what that says to me is he wanted to pay them himself because he could have even brought that attorney and said, hey, would the PAC just cover that fee?

COATES: And why do you think someone would want to -- I mean, many people are not raising their hand to pay legal fees. Why do you think he wanted to pay it himself? Are you talking about pure pride or actually strategy? PARLATORE: I don't know. I don't know. I think it could be that. It could be something where he wanted to separate himself and move off in a different direction so he didn't want to have any ties. Certainly, some people would think that there may be some form of loyalty association. But look, people -- attorneys have an ethical obligation to their client --


PARLATORE: -- no matter who's paying the fee and no matter who referred the client to them. And so, if the client is saying, yeah, I know the PAC is paying you, but I want to go cooperate with Jack Smith, the attorney is going to do it.

COATES: Point well taken. And, of course, for the audience to know, a joint defense agreement is not novel to this particular action and matter. It often happens typically in all co-defendant cases for that very reason. Tim Parlatore, thank you so much for engaging with me tonight.

Now, I want to turn to CNN senior law enforcement analyst and former FBI deputy director, Andrew McCabe. Andrew, nice to see you. I feel like I see you all the time now. I wonder what the connection could possibly be.

But listen, let me ask you about this because Butler said that he and Walt Nauta, who was the so-called body man of Trump and a co-defendant now, loaded 10 to 15 boxes approximately onto Trump's plane. But the question I have is, okay, now they're in the friendly skies, what happened to the boxes? How does law enforcement track that, to our colleague Tim Parlatori's point?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, that's a great question, and we don't know the answer to that, despite the fact that the special counsel's office spent months and months doggedly pursuing Mr. Trump and his attorneys and trying to get a legitimate search of those properties.

I'm not sure why they didn't pursue a search warrant. Maybe they could have had the witness like Mr. Butler on board at the time.


But nevertheless, you know, lawyers -- you know, it's not incumbent upon the government to come up with an evidence inventory documenting where every single one of the boxes that they've already alleged and the grand jury has agreed were the subject of obstruction of justice.

So, I'm a little bit -- some of Mr. Parlatore's comments, I found a little bit odd, that there would be some sort of suggestion that the government hadn't done its job because they were unable to find the boxes that Mr. Trump and his employees actively hid from the government and from his own attorneys, apparently.

But yes, we don't know where those documents went after they were loaded onto the plane and flown to Bedminster. I'm quite sure that people in the Intelligence Community would greatly like to find the answer to that question.

COATES: And that goes to the heart of what a jury would have to consider, right? The inferences to be drawn. The idea of what the motivation was, the state of mind and beyond. That's all going to be part of the lift. And it's a heavy one, frankly. I mean, no prosecution is easy, Andrew.

But it's part of the lift for proving one's burden, right, beyond a reasonable doubt in a case like that, to answer those kinds of questions or to put it on the defense, possibly to suggest if they bring their own defense and case up on that very point.

But there's also this point that Butler, he tells a story about an Australian billionaire named Anthony Pratt, telling his chief of staff, apparently, about classified nuclear submarine secrets while, by the way, he was driving them in his car. Listen to this.


BUTLER: I believe it was April of 2021. There was a member, Anthony Pratt, who -- he was coming -- he flew in the night before.

COLLINS: He's an Australian billionaire.

BUTLER: He finishes his meeting with the former president, gets in the car, and his chief of staff says, how did the meeting go? Pratt, without saying, just says, he told me, and it would be, you know, U.S. military, you know, classified information of what he told them about Russian submarines and U.S. submarines. And that's really all I remember hearing, and I went, what?


COATES: First of all, note to self, everyone, the Uber drivers can hear you speaking, okay? So, there's that point. Now, seriously, on our everyday gossip fest that people may have in the back of a car, how dangerous is this kind of dissemination because you're talking about -- I mean, nuclear submarine secrets?

MCCABE: Yeah. Well, it goes -- cuts to the heart of some of the most sensitive national defense information which, of course, is what Mr. Trump has been accused of illegally retaining.

But let's talk for a second about the value of Brian Butler as a witness. We've been -- we've been talking a lot today about his comments about participating in loading those boxes on the plane, and that is certainly great testimony, the prosecutors will enjoy putting that in front of a jury.

But this episode is really key because in all likelihood, the government didn't even know about this Australian billionaire until Brian Butler told them about him because he's relating a conversation that only three people were aware of, himself, the billionaire, and the billionaire's chief of staff.

So, it's unlikely those two stepped forward to tell the government what they had heard from Mr. Trump or from the billionaire. So, Butler has already provided the government with another key witness to Donald Trump's alleged inappropriate, irresponsible, and quite possibly illegal handling of national defense information.

COATES: A really important point. An eyewitness, an earwitness, invaluable to prosecution, which is why I'm sure you can imagine, from now until he may testify in a trial, it might be open season on his credibility, right?

MCCABE: It will be. It absolutely will be. And I think he said a few things in that interview that I thought were really concerning and that will definitely open up avenues of attack for him. He made comments about his thoughts that he didn't believe that Donald Trump should be president again.

All those sorts of comments will provoke attacks that he is politically biased, that he has created these stories because he has a political agenda, not because he actually heard conversations. So, it's definitely going to be a tough few months for him. So, we'll just have to see how that goes.

COATES: We'll see what happens. Andrew McCabe, thank you.

MCCABE: Thanks, Laura.

COATES: I want to bring in Donald Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen. He's also a principal at "Crisis X," host of podcasts "Mea Culpa" and "Political Beatdown," and "The New York Times" bestselling author of "Revenge: How Donald Trump Weaponized the U.S. Department of Justice Against His Critics."


Michael, thank you so much for being here this evening. There's some huge news out from that exclusive interview with the employee from Mar-a-Lago with Kaitlan Collins. I have to ask you because more than anyone likely, you know what it's like to be on the receiving end of Trump's anger. So, what do you expect will happen next to Brian Butler now that he has come forward in this very public way?

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER DONALD TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: Well, Donald is going to do what Donald always does. He's going to deflect, he's going to denigrate, and he's going to distance himself. He's going to claim that, obviously, Brian Butler is lying, that he never told him to do anything, that the guy never did anything, and he's going to try to damage his credibility so that Brian Butler's comments or testimony cannot be used against him in a court of law.

COATES: You know, my concern as a lawyer watching it, I thought to myself, gosh, I wonder what his counsel's goal was here. He said he wanted to get the truth out before the election. But also, part of the conversation is, I wonder if he was in some way trying to protect his client by ensuring that he was public and that the credibility test would not come.

But let me ask you this because he does not have Trump's same attorney, and multiple times, apparently, he was offered a Trump attorney, but he wanted his own, unlike, by the way, Carlos De Oliveira. And I want you to listen for a second, Michael, to Butler talk about a phone call between Trump and De Oliveira about that very point.


BUTLER: His phone rings, and it's the former president. You know, he takes the call. We're standing in the food court. I think we went to sit down. He -- I can't remember how long the conversation was, but I know at the end of the conversation when they hung up, Carlos said, he's going to get me an attorney.


COATES: If Trump gets you an attorney, what does that signal to you?

COHEN: What it signals, is like a mob boss, that he owns you. And, you know, good for Brian Butler for at least learning enough from my various appearances on your show and others where --

COATES: Uh-hmm.

COHEN: -- Bob Costello tried to do the same thing via Rudy Giuliani. What they want to do is they want to keep control of you to make sure that you stay in the camp, that you continue with the Trump message, that you stay on that message, and that you don't step over the line.

You see, Donald knows that he's kind of cooked. Something -- it goes back to August of 2022. I was on this show and other shows, and I was talking about these documents right after the Mar-a-Lago raid, all right? And I said that Donald Trump knew every single document that was in those boxes, and he knows the problems that those documents can bring to him.

So, if he can control now Brian Butler, as he does with many of the others, well, that (INAUDIBLE) only to whose benefit? To Donald's benefit. And at least Brian Butler was smart enough to know that Donald will throw anyone under the bus in order to protect himself.

COATES: You know, I do wonder, just the logistics here, I mean, he has described himself a kind of an unwitting, totally oblivious to what he was moving when and where. He has not been charged, talking about Butler, unlike his colleagues, some of them.

Do you believe the idea that he would have been oblivious to what he was doing? Would the orders have come down to someone or just to say, I want you to do X, Y, and Z, and there would not be someone to ask why and what's in it? Is that believable to you?

COHEN: Yeah, very much so. You see, it's very difficult to ask Donald when he gives you a task about anything. So, if Donald's task to a guy who was running the cars over at Mar-a-Lago is to put those white boxes onto the plane as I'm heading to Bedminster, that's all that Brian is going to do. He's not going to ask, well, can I ask you what's in them? It's nobody's business. The boss is telling you what to do. You do it.

Again, something that I said in August of 2022, we need to actually go back. And if the FBI wants to properly do this investigation, they need to track every single place that Donald had been since leaving the White House.

And I said on this show and others again, I said that they need to check Ivanka's house. They need to check Don Junior's house, Eric's house, Donald's apartment. They need to check Bedminster. Every single place that Donald went because I assure you, there are still documents there.

And Donald took those documents for a reason, whether it's a get out of jail free card or in order to use it against this government, because when he ultimately loses, he will say that the government hurt him, so now he's going to hurt the United States of America.


COATES: You know, I would say, well, how do we not know? There have been subpoenas. I was just looking at what happened at Mar-a-Lago. He was very vocal when somebody tried to -- he called it a raid of his home.

But speaking of jail specifically, while I have you, the former Trump advisor, Peter Navarro, has to report to a federal prison next Tuesday. He has a four-month sentence for his contempt of Congress conviction. What's your reaction to that?

COHEN: Well, listen, Peter, like everybody else, is finally, finally going to be held accountable for his actions. You didn't show up for a subpoena. Well, this is the consequence of everybody that is around Donald Trump. You know, there's that expression. Anything Donald Trump touches dies.

And Peter Navarro is going to get a really ugly rude awakening when he has to go to the institution that he's going to be assigned to in Miami. They're going to strip him out. They're going to put him in with everybody else. And it's an uncomfortable, it's an uncomfortable place. And rest assured, I'm telling you that from firsthand experience.

COATES: What a cost to be in the Trump orbit and in those roles, it seems, in the very end. Meanwhile, Trump is trying to delay the New York so-called hush money trial, a case that you are actually a part of --


COATES: -- until the Supreme Court weighs in on presidential immunity, which is odd because that case is about conduct while in office. The hush money contentions seem to be predating that. But what do you make of this last-minute ditch effort to try to delay yet again?

COHEN: It is, again, right out of the Donald J. Trump playbook, delay, delay, delay, do everything that you can. But Judge Merchan is not playing this game. My understanding is that, you know, he admonished Trump for these ongoing late motions in order to delay the case which, again, Merchan has stated, this case is starting on March 25th, come hell or high water.

Well, it's going to start on March 25th, period, end of story. And I'll tell you, you know, they were supposed to have all motions in going back into February. They did not. Well, Merchan is not playing this. He's a very much by-the-book judge. And it's something that Trump doesn't like. He doesn't like to be told what to do.

COATES: Well, I got news for him. He may have to figure out what it's like when the judges, at least in these state court actions in particular, tell him otherwise. Michael Cohen, I don't envy the role that you are in and having to testify and speak in these matters, but thank you so much for doing so.

COHEN: And it's good to see you. I don't envy myself either with this.

COATES: Good to see you, too. Thank you, Michael.

Up next, Trump employee number five says he's speaking out because he wants the truth to get out before November. And what's in November again? Ah, yes, the election. So, how will all they play out for the 2024 race? We'll talk about it next.



COATES: We've been talking a lot about employee number five, but that's only one of the classified documents probes that we are looking at as a nation. The other one involved President Biden. And Special Counsel Robert Hur will be on the Hill tomorrow testifying about why he chose not to prosecute him. Undoubtedly, it will be a comparison for the ages.

I want to bring in political commentator for CNN and Democratic strategist Maria Cardona, along with former congressman and director of Mission Democracy, Joe Walsh.

So, first of all, I'm going to begin with you here on that, Joe. Congress is going to hear testimony from Robert Hur. He'll be a private citizen, not the muzzle of a DOJ employee any longer tomorrow. But they're going to try to draw comparisons, I'm sure, about the Mar- a-Lago case and this one. Will they succeed successfully?

JOE WALSH, PODCAST HOST, FORMER ILLINOIS REPRESENTATIVE: It's going to be, I think, Laura, the battle between two narratives. Republicans are going to spend all their time focusing on what Hur said about Biden having a -- being an old man and --

COATES: The words were a sympathetic, well-meaning elderly man with a poor memory.

WALLACE: And they're going to say every one of those words about a thousand times tomorrow. Democrats will emphasize the fact that Hur also said he didn't prosecute him and what Trump did was a thousand times worse. It's going to be the battle of narratives.

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's going to be more than that because Hur, if he's going to do everything that you just said, he's going to look ridiculous, he's going to lose credibility. And frankly, if I were him, I would cancel it because on the issue of Biden being old, did he watch the State of the Union? Are Republicans saying that he's old now? No.

The only thing that they're saying about that speech is it was too political. Why? Because Joe Biden knocked it out of the park, completely blew expectations out of the water. He was energetic, he was focused on what he's going to do, forward-looking, all of it. And so, for tomorrow, for Hur to try to go back to that, he's just going to seem small and petty.

WALSH: Well, you're right.

CARDONA: And I don't think it's going to work for him.

WALSH: Well, you're right. I think Republicans will drag him back to that because everything you said is right about the State of the Union. But Republicans are still convinced this is red meat against Biden.

CARDONA: Well, you know what? Bring it on. And then on the substance of it, you're right. Compare it to what's going on in Mar-a-Lago. There is no comparison here. It's going to hurt Republicans. It's going to hurt Trump.

COATES: Well, you know, Brian Butler said that he wanted the truth out before the election. I have to wonder to what extent it really matters to voters.


Will it make a difference?

WALSH: I don't think it does, Laura. I think most voters, this whole -- they all do it. Biden did it. Pence did it. Trump did it. Maybe a little worse. Outside of the partisans, I just think it's a big wash, which is unfortunate, because what Trump did is unlike what anybody else did. He obstructed it. He tried to hide it and cover it up.

CARDONA: Well, I actually think with the independents, it's going to add to the whole criminality cloud over Donald Trump, which Democrats and the Biden campaign are going to continue to use that massive contrast, which is how Biden won in 2020, and there's so much more material in that bucket to use for November.

COATES: Well, they will go in the rearview mirror a lot. They're going to talk about, I'm sure, aspects of prior issues like January 6 as well. And by the way, House Republicans released a new report today that discredits one Cassidy Hutchinson trying to -- remember, she had that infamous testimony now about how a driver told her that President Biden reached over and tried to grab the wheel to take him to the Capitol.

They are accusing the committee, the January 6 Committee, of withholding the testimony of the driver of that SUV who apparently undercuts that testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson. What do you make of that effort by the Republicans?

CARDONA: I think it shows, well, at least what Democrats will say. It shows their desperation. It shows that they are worried that this is going to have a huge impact going into the election because they know that Donald Trump, his base, no one will convince his base otherwise, but where he needs to win is where he's most weak, which is what actually they showed during the primaries. That's something that Joe Biden and the Democrats are going to continue to push.

WALSH: Laura, Trump has been indicted four times. For the next eight months, Republicans, as much as they can, need to throw a bunch of crap and dirt at all of these indictments to just make the American people roll their eyes. And that's what they'll try to do with the January 6 one.

COATES: Me roll mine.

CARDONA: We'll make sure it doesn't work.

COATES: Mission accomplished. There you go.


Maria, Joe, thank you. There's a little bit more like coquettish than I meant it to be, but whatever. Anyway, thank you so much, both of you.

CARDONA: Thanks.

COATES: Well, the NAACP calling for Black student-athletes to boycott public colleges in Florida. Why? It's all over the state's anti-DEI policies. We'll explain next.



COATES: The NAACP is ramping up the pressure on Florida universities over the state's anti-diversity, equity, and inclusion policies. It's urging Black student-athletes to ditch attending and playing for predominantly white colleges in Florida.

The NAACP is specifically calling out Florida's governor, Ron DeSantis, who signed a law last year banning public universities from spending federal or state funds on DEI initiatives. And earlier this year, the University of Florida closed its DEI office to comply with the changes.

The NAACP writing this in their call to boycott. Quote -- "If any institution is to reap the benefits of Black talent, it is only right that they completely invest in Black futures." NAACP President Derrick Johnson joins me now. President Johnson, thank you so much for joining us this evening. You are calling out these universities for using Black athletes, you say, for the success of the school, but then not looking out for their success as students and obviously human beings. Why do you think that a boycott is the answer?

DERRICK JOHNSON, PRESIDENT, NAACP: We are calling the attention to students, athletes who generate a lot of profits for programs like the University of Florida to reconsider their decision, whether they are a current student or a student that's considering playing football, basketball, any other sport.

Go to schools that respect your human self. Go to schools that will prepare you for a global economy. Go to a school that will respect you and not just exploit you for sports, where they make billions of dollars off of your talent, but yet don't want to invest in your ability to learn, become a critical thinker.

COATES: The power dynamic is obvious and one that many have criticized for, frankly, decades. I wonder also, though, for some, it might be a luxury to have the option of doing so. Some of these opportunities can be life-changing. Are you worried that this could hurt some of the students' success long term or is the cost-benefit analysis such that it's appropriate to do what you're asking?

JOHNSON: For these top-tier universities, they have many options, many schools across the country that have not taken the step that we've seen the University of Florida take or the state of Florida.

So, it's not a don't go to school at all or you're going to lose an opportunity. It's saying that go to a school that will respect you, go to a school that will prepare you, go to a school that won't just exploit you but allow you to understand the contributions of your community, the contributions that you can make, and to broaden your ability to be a part of this democracy.

COATES: Right now, you are focusing on Florida. But as you know, it's not just Florida. You've got DEI legislation or anti-DEI legislation that's popping up in places like Texas, Utah, North Dakota, Tennessee, North Carolina. Do you plan to encourage student-athletes to do this in those states as well?

JOHNSON: Any school that take the steps that University of Florida have taken, Black athletes should reconsider their decision to attend those schools. There are many schools across the country that have not taken these steps. There are many states across the country that have not taken these steps. So, there are options. There are many options.


HBCUs, for example, I love what happened with Jackson State doing Deion Sanders' tenure and many other schools like Jackson State or Alabama A&M. There are options here.

So, we're not saying don't get an education. We're not saying not share your talents. We're saying respect yourself, but don't let anyone else disrespect you by denying the ability for you to learn of the contributions from your community.

COATES: I'm glad you mentioned HBCUs because there is one public HBCU in Florida, FAMU. What kind of message do you think or what do people think about when it comes to the HBCUs? Is that not part of the discussion here?

JOHNSON: Well, for us, I'm a HBCU graduate. I would prefer any student athlete to go to a HBCU so those programs can grow just like University of Florida or Florida State using Black athletes to generate billions of dollars.

I would recommend that a student athlete choose wisely. Go to a school that's going to respect you. Choose wisely. Go to a school that's going to allow you to understand the contributions that your community have made. Choose wisely because DEI is the reality of the future. We can no longer go back to 1950. We are looking at a global economy, and we must be competitive.

COATES: Derrick Johnson, choose wisely. Thank you so much.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

COATES: A major scare on a Latam flight over what passengers are calling a mid-air drop. Dozens of people were injured. We'll explain what happened next.



COATES: Can you believe it? Tonight, Boeing is investigating another mid-air incident involving one of its planes. This time, a 787-9 Dreamliner.

At least 50 people on board a LATAM Airlines flight were injured today when the plane experienced, excuse me, a sudden jolt mid-air while flying from Sydney, Australia to Auckland, New Zealand.

Here's a passenger describing the terrifying experience to CNN's Erin Burnett earlier tonight.


BRIAN JOKAT, PASSENGER ON FLIGHT THAT EXPERIENCED "MID-AIR DROP": It had the effect of it coming like a roller coaster and then started to point down. And that's when it -- and I opened my eyes, and there were various individuals at the top of the plane, just stuck to the roof and then they fell to the floor.


COATES: The airline calling it a technical event. Well, joining me now, CNN safety analyst and former FAA safety inspector, David Soucie. David, thank you so much for being here. I mean, look, I fly a lot. Many people do. This is terrifying to think about the frequency in which we're hearing about these incidents. What do you know about this one that passengers are describing as a terrifying drop?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: Well, I'll tell you, it's very vague. What they're saying, there was a technical event, well, that ranges from anything to anything. So, we don't have a whole lot of information yet. But what was described just then is a mid-air turbulence or possible that there was some mechanical movement of the controls. Who was in control? We don't know. I don't know if it was from weather or whether it was anything else.

But had it been a mechanical failure, they would have called it a mechanical failure and they would have turned around and gone back or they would have gone to a maintenance base. But that's not what they did. They said it was a technical event. So, I just wish we had more information right now as to what happened here.

COATES: How do we get more? Would the plane's black boxes, for example, reveal something to us?

SOUCIE: Well, they might. They might. But because of where it was, it's not in the United States right now. So, I'm going to reach out to Boeing again. I know Boeing is investigating this as well. But we'll have to see what happened. It was not what's considered an accident. It was an incident. So therefore, the NTSB, the FAA is not necessarily going to investigate it, although there were injuries.

So, because there were injuries, the FAA certainly will look into what happened here and give us a report back, but I wouldn't expect that within maybe a week or so.

COATES: Wow. I mean, this is part of a string of safety problems for Boeing. And it continues. We are learning tonight that a United Airlines San Francisco-bound flight was rerouted from Sydney for an emergency landing due to what they're calling a maintenance issue. That means back-to-back scares.

Last week involving a Boeing flight, a tire falling off a flight after takeoff, an engine catching fire mid-flight. What is happening at Boeing?

SOUCIE: Well, it's really hard to tell right now. But one of the things that we need to consider when we talk about Boeing is what these incidents are, is the fact that there are twice as many Boeing airplanes in the air as there are air buses in the air.

So, if you think about all of the events that go together, if you don't take them individually and start understanding, you know, whether it was actually caused by an engineering issue at Boeing, was it caused by a human failure, was it caused by an airline, as we look at this and focus on this investigation, we get this conclusion bias when we start thinking about, well, it was a Boeing airplane so, therefore, it had to do with Boeing manufacturing.

But I caution against that because right now, there's nothing that says that engineering is failing at Boeing or that something is happening. This aircraft that we're talking about here have been flying for years and years.

So, the fact that we're focusing on it right now, we have to bear in mind that the chance that you're on a flight is two to one, that it's on Boeing versus airbus. So, each of these incidents are going to look different.


I'm not saying there's not something going on at Boeing because there certainly is and there are things that need to be done with their safety culture, but we just have to be cautious about how we track those directly to Boeing at this point.

COATES: A really important point, and I'm sure that alleviates some of the stress for people who are flying. But I got to tell you, when you think about and start worrying about not only when your flight is taking off, but what kind of aircraft you're going to be on and thinking about all these different reports, it's scary for a lot of people. David Soucie, thank you so much.

SOUCIE: Thank you, Laura.

COATES: And thank you all for watching. Our coverage continues.



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Tonight on "360," one of Jack Smith's central witnesses in Trump's classified documents case going public for the first time, talking exclusively with CNN's Kaitlan Collins about he says was his role in moving documents that federal government was trying to find.