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Laura Coates Live

D.A. Fani Willis Can Stay On GA Case After Judge's Ruling; CNN Presents "Overtime With Bill Maher"; Crumbley Prosecutor Speaks Out; "The Deputy And The Disappeared" Airs Sunday At 8:00 p.m. Eastern. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired March 15, 2024 - 23:00   ET



ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Thank you so much for watching "NEWSNIGHT" tonight and all week. LAURA COATES LIVE starts right now.

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST AND SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Fani Willis survives, but this case is playing out in two very different courts. One is the court of law and the other, the court of public opinion, tonight on LAURA COATES LIVE.

All right, so now we know the answer to the question we've been waiting months to actually find out. Fani Willis is not disqualified from prosecuting Donald Trump and his co-defendants. But the judge, he didn't just issue a ruling. Judge McAfee issued an ultimatum. Either she goes or Nathan Wade goes. Nathan Wade went.

And if you thought Robert Hur's one line throwing some shade at President Biden was savage, well, Judge McAfee's order hardly had any sunlight when it came to Willis and Wade, although there were moments that he recognized that the burden had not been met to show that they, in fact, had a conflict of interest that made a fair trial impossible.

And there was one particular quote. "Georgia law does not permit the finding of an actual conflict for simply making bad choices -- even repeatedly."

All the scrutiny of Fani Willis and Nathan Wade and their relationship, who lived where, when, who paid for what, how and all it went down, it all threatens to overshadow a scrutiny of what this case is actually about.

Let me remind you for a second because we've already been through the hearing and the trial about the personal. Now how about what is alleged in the indictment? The alleged efforts by the then president of the United States and his co-defendants to overturn the 2020 election of one President Joe Biden.


FANI WILLIS, FULTON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: You think I'm on trial. These people are on trial for trying to steal an election in 2020. I'm not on trial no matter how hard you try to put me on trial. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COATES: Well, Fani Willis says she's not on trial and, by the way, she was not on trial criminally. But it didn't seem like she wasn't on trial during those hearings, but she is prosecuting now in this trial.

So why is that distinction so important? Well, look, the court of public opinion is weighing her relationship with Nathan Wade. They're also weighing this decision by the judge. And now, they're weighing her credibility in this extremely consequential case. That's the court of public opinion.

Meanwhile, a jury in the court of law will weigh the charges against Donald Trump and 14 co-defendants. Four of them, by the way, of the original 18, they've already pleaded guilty. Now, the charges, they include filing false documents, violation of the Georgia RICO Act, conspiracy and influencing witnesses.

So, the question tonight, of course, is which case will weigh heavier in those scales of justice? Because if Lady Justice is blind, well, she certainly heard a whole lot. Did she not?

I want to talk now to Tiffany Wright. I'm so glad that you are here because in this ruling today, Judge Scott McAfee called Fani Willis' testimony at one point dramatic and, of course, unprofessional. And I say the words, of course, only because I'm recalling what he said, not attributing that to truth.

But when you saw all of this play out, Tiffany, you know, I don't know about you, but my chats were going off, watching the trial, watching the testimony, remembering all that was going on. How did you see this judge's approach to evaluating this?

TIFFANY R. WRIGHT, FORMER LAW CLERK FOR JUSTICE SONIA SOTOMAYOR: I thought his comment about her performance during the hearing being unprofessional was interesting. In one sense, I can't say I disagreed with that. Watching it in isolation, it may come across that way. But I think we should apply the same standards to similar conduct.


WRIGHT: And we have seen other people, when faced with charges that they think are unfair and they think it's warranted to defend themselves, they come in and they do so stridently. So, the question for me is, why are we applying a different standard or looking at her with a different lens?

And I think part of it is she's a Black woman who walked into court and said, I'm not bowing my head, I'm going to look at you in your eye, you called for me, I'm here, and I want to address what you are saying about, and I think it is ridiculous.

And so, I think some of it may appear unprofessional, but some of it was warranted because at the core, the legal claim that Mr. Trump was making was ridiculous and this was really an attack on her character in some sense. COATES: You know, there's the two lenses one can look at it. On the one hand, there's the lens of someone being attacked in the way she was.


The other, of course, being that they were trying to file a motion to get the result they wanted. Then there's the third aspect of it, right? The idea that you're talking about the death by a thousand cuts for credibility.

But it strikes me as particularly interesting that her statements on the stand became a kind of inkblot test, right? You would hear someone describe how she reacted and the way in which some called it combative in a pejorative sense. Other called it combative, and they were praising that very notion.

When you look at the audience of people, she is an elected official, she is not unknown to the people of Fulton County. Did that impact it for you at all?

WRIGHT: The judge pointed this out in his opinion today, that the voters will have some say about it later this year, and I think that's absolutely correct.

For me, what this speaks to is going to what you said about how this really is an inkblot test, right? Who you are determines how you saw this, right? And I did see people who saw it one way, said this is an unprofessional woman, how dare she speak this way. And then for me, though, as a Black woman, having been called unprofessional or being combative when I'm just being assertive and defending myself, that's what I saw in it.

And so, I want to separate the bad choices, and I think we all can agree that there were some bad choices here. As a lawyer, you should not engage in sexual relationships with people who are connected in your cases in any way. So, she has to take the mea culpa on that.

In the other sense, she was hauled before a court, forced to answer questions about her personal relationships when the core of the legal claim was really always ridiculous. She did not have a financial or pecuniary interest in the outcome of this or in the way it was handled.

That's what Mr. Trump would have had to prove in order to win his legal claim. All of the other parts of it was a little bit of theatrics.

COATES: What's interesting as well is, you know, as somebody who is an elected official, you know, as you're talking about the different standards and the different double standards in some instances, what would be expected of how she was supposed to respond versus how she did.

I kept saying during the actual trial, God, can you imagine Jack Smith taking the stand and having to answer questions about his sexual life, his personal life, his romantic relationship?

Some of them might say, well, you're not doing that because maybe he was not engaged in any of those things, Laura, and therefore that's why. It's a shot in her own foot. But the attack specifically against Fani Willis and the Georgia case feels very personal in a different way. Do you think so?

WRIGHT: Absolutely. I cannot imagine Jack Smith, even if he had engaged in this conduct, even if he had been accused of something that was inappropriate, to be put on a stand and ask questions about his personal entanglements and relationships down to the detail. How much money did you exchange? When?

The focus of the legal claim was, did you have a financial stake in the outcome or the conduct of this legal proceeding? And the answer to that was always no. Nobody believes that Fani Willis brought this case because of a financial interest in it. Nobody believes that she's conducting it in a way to make money off of it.

And so, if there is no basis to the legal claim, I can't imagine a judge allowing that spectacle to have proceeded in the way that it did against Ms. Willis.

COATES: By the way, the judge did not buy the discussion that she suddenly was trying to maintain or sustain a relationship because she wanted to benefit from it, including the pace at which she sought to have the trial to avoid severing, separating the different defendants which would have prolonged everything.

Really quick, I want you to answer because you've been a law clerk for the Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. We know Supreme Court justices are known for the dicta, the things they are supposed to address and then the rest they're actually wanting to address. There were some dicta here in the sense that he went beyond just the ruling in this case.

He could have just said, you're not disqualified, and Nathan Wade has to go or you have to go. He went into professionalism and beyond. Was that inappropriate to you or appropriate?

WRIGHT: There was a lot of dicta here and there's always this debate about when dicta is appropriate and when it's not. I thought some of it, the comments about her professionalism, I thought that maybe that was fair game.

I think actually calling out the election was, to me, seemed a bit inappropriate. This is a legal opinion. It's not a place to explicitly invoke politics in this way. That part, I thought, went a little bit too far. But there was certainly a lot of dicta --


WRIGHT: -- that did not have any legal weight.

COATES: Tiffany Wright, always a pleasure to have you on. Thank you so much. You know, in his ruling today, Judge Scott McAfee said a lot of things. We read through it. He called Fani Willis's dramatic testimony on the stand. Well, the word we were talking about that he used, unprofessional.


WILLIS: It's ridiculous to me that you lied on Monday and yet here we still are.

That's one of your lies.

You've been intrusive into people's personal lives. You're confused.


I'm not on trial, no matter how hard you try to put me on trial.

No, no, no, no. This is the truth. It is a lie. It is a lie.


COATES: So, what does the court of public opinion think about all of this? Well, let's ask the jurors in our virtual courtroom to weigh in on the judge's ruling. Fani Willis stays on the case against Donald Trump, but is forced to lose Special Prosecutor Nathan Wade over the scrutiny over their romantic relationship. Well, do our jurors agree and do they think race or gender played a role?

We've got four jurors here, every day Americans, meeting tonight for the first time to share their opinions with each other and, of course, with you. Now, this is not a court of law. Our jurors are not rendering a verdict, but they will tell us what they think of today's ruling and give us some insight and a window into the court of public opinion. I'm glad that you're all here today. Thank you so much.

Let me begin because the judge did say to Fani Willis that she could stay on the case or not disqualify, but that came at a cost, the removal of Nathan Wade. By a show of hands, which of you agreed with the decision for her not to be disqualified? All of you.

So, let's unpack that a little bit more here as to why. Well, when you think about the reasoning why this judge said so, they said they did not meet the bar of proving that there was going to be a prejudice against the defendants. What was the most important aspect to you evaluating it? Juror four, you're nodding your head.

LAKISHA GREENWADE, JUROR, LAURA'S COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION: Well, when we look at this case, who's really on trial at the end of the day? And if we're going to establish ethical standards, ethical standards need to be applied not only to Fani Willis but to everyone that has a position of political power, whether that be formal or informal.

COATES: Interesting. You're nodding along?

MARILYN FRANKLIN, JUROR, LAURA'S COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION: Yeah, because, well, when I look at it and what has been happening, it wasn't even really about -- because it also has been -- there was a, um -- what's the word I want to use?

COATES: Conflict of interest?

FRANKLIN: Conflict of interest, when it was only putting her life on display. So never once did they make the case that it was a conflict of interest. And like she told him, I'm not on trial. They are. Don't forget about it. And then I hear some people say, well, maybe if she had just in the beginning said, yeah, we got caught with our hand in the cookie jar, okay, okay, they wouldn't have left it there.


FRANKLIN: Probably because she's a Black woman that they wouldn't have left it there. And because Trump and the kind of people that he associates with, they weren't going to leave it there because their whole idea is to try to have the case dismissed.

COATES: So, do you guys think that her race and her gender played a role in how people perceived her professionalism?



Um, I think even when she went to defend herself, um, I think they tried to paint the narrative of the angry Black woman. And she's a DA of, I believe, the biggest county in Georgia. Um, so how they painted her narrative, um, I think it was hard for her to give her truth under oath without it already being a shadow of her race on her.

COATES: Interesting. So, one of the things that the judge spoke about was that he perceived her as unprofessional on the stand when she was speaking to the attorney who was leading the disqualification. Did you see her behavior, her demeanor, as unprofessional or passionate?

GREENWADE: And I think it depends on who's calling unprofessional because we've seen many cases of things that don't necessarily meet our bar. And again, it just indicates that there's a changing standard. But who is the one to truly define it? And there's subjectivity there.

COATES: What do you think?

JANAE JAMES, JUROR, LAURA'S COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION: It felt more like passion to me. It felt like frustration and that she was just trying to display how disheartened she was that this was going to be happening to her, and how much she wanted to show, you know, this is not -- this is not really what we're supposed to be talking about, this is not the issue at hand.

COATES: Yeah. There was a moment that she spoke at a church in Georgia and there was a lot of conversations around what she said. She was talking to a congregation. There were prepared remarks. That was an issue that it seemed to be, um, exercise for thought. Let me listen -- let me let you all hear what she had to say, and then I'll ask you what you thought of that moment. Listen.


WILLIS: I tell you, I hired one white man, brilliant, my friend, and a great lawyer. And I hired one Black man, another superstar, a great friend, and a great lawyer.

Oh Lord, they're going to be mad when I call them out on this nonsense. First thing they say, oh, she is going to play the race card now. But no God.


COATES: The race card very much played into the statements by at least one of the attorneys interpreting what she had to say about that moment. How did you perceive her statements? They're made before the trial. They were public. How did you perceive that moment?


FRANKLIN: Well, I think she was just expressing how she feels and what was happening with her.

LEVENBERRY: I think she was trying to get ahead of it.

FRANKLIN: Yeah, ahead of it.

LEVENBERRY: I think she was trying to get ahead of it. I think she knew that it was coming. The undertones were already there before this trial. As soon as it was announced what she was going to do, the racial undertones were there, the threats were there. So, once this came up, I think she tried to get ahead of it because she knew it was coming.

GREENWADE: And it's easy for them to say, oh, she's playing the race card when they've had colleagues that look like them and have done this for years. So, they do not know her true experience, so why can't we give her the benefit of the doubt for sharing from her perspective?

FRANKLIN: That's right.

COATES: The benefit of the doubt was not part of the calculus that you heard, at least at this particular hearing. But what you did hear a lot of was about the nature of the relationship between herself and Nathan Wade, particularly related to cash, the element of cash, reimbursements, going Dutch, or just keeping cash on hand. A lot was made of that. I wonder how each of you saw that moment. Juror one?

JAMES: Ultimately, she tried to demonstrate that, you know, she was making her own case, that it's not about -- it's about the financial conflict of interest, but there wasn't enough proof to demonstrate that there was a financial conflict of interest.

COATES: How do you see it? FRANKLIN: I like when she said, number one, and Black people in the south did keep money. And your parents would if you went out with a gentleman. They would tell you to keep money if something happened, that you can get home on your own. And then I love how she said, a man is not a plan.


FRANKLIN: You know what I mean? So, she was standing up for her right. They fought companionship. And so, I'm thinking if she's making all this money and he's making good money, why does she have to use his money? Like she said, share the money.

COATES: Let me get a show of hands from each of you because part of the conversation is that the jury pool that will eventually hear this case, when it gets to that point in time, will be much more interested and distracted by what you've seen through this trial than the evidence at hand.

By a show of hands, I'll go down the line, actually, you can just say, would you as a juror in this case be influenced by now knowing about this particular aspect of the trial? Yes or no?

JAMES: I would not.




COATES: And that's interesting. I think many people are wondering if that would, in fact, be the case. The fact that she's an elected official, does that have an impact on how you view her?

GREENWADE: I think for anyone that is in leadership, there needs to be some sort of wisdom. So, are there lessons to be learned? Absolutely. But to the detriment of a career, absolutely not.

COATES: And one last question for you all. There were statements made about whether they were truthful on the stand or that they were not credible in some aspects before the judge. Do the statements made by the prosecutors in this case impact the way you would see how they present evidence in a trial? Yes or no?



GREENWADE: According to the media, it has today, but --

COATES: According to the media, yes, but do you know?

GREENWADE: According to the media, you know, no, because at the end of the day, when we talk about truthfulness, it's interesting when we look at all the parties that are at play. And so, is there one that's better than the other?


LEVENBERRY: I don't think it would be a fair comparison because for this, it was personal to her. So, I don't think it would be fair to compare what she would do to continue to do in the courtroom because this was specific to her with her personal life. This went beyond her role in the courtroom. So, for me, as juror 4 and 3, it would be a no, but I can see the public opinion being a little different.

JAMES: I also agree. It's two separate cases.

FRANKLIN: Yeah, that's what I was going to say.

JAMES: It's important that we separate the two as they are distinct and have two different important roles to play.

FRANKLIN: Exactly.

COATES: Thank you so much. To hear your insight was really invaluable to me, and I think very illuminating for so many people. A special thanks to our grand jury or our jury tonight. I called you grand because you are.

If you'd like to be a juror on the next Court of Public Opinion, get in touch with us by filling out the form you can access by scanning that QR code you see on your screen or email

Now, despite all of the made for TV drama, there's still a case to be tried here, and it may end up being one of the most important cases of all, of all the criminal cases against Donald Trump. So, what kind of repercussions will be felt from today's ruling? We're going to talk about that next.




Today, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis staying on Trump's election subversion case in Georgia, but not without experiencing a major setback.

I want to bring in DA Fani Willis's mentor and the host of "The Verdict with Judge Hatchett," Judge Glenda Hatchett. Judge Hatchett, I'm so happy that you are here today. Thank you so much for joining.

GLENDA HATCHETT, JUDGE, HOST OF "THE VERDICT": Thank you. Thank you, Laura. Of course.

COATES: I have been waiting to hear what this ruling is, as I'm sure you have as well. You know Fani Willis professionally very well. What do you think will happen now going forward?

HATCHETT: I think she'll be focused. I think that she will continue to be very intentional about this. I've read, as you might imagine, you know me well, I've read every single line, every word in this order, and I think that it is the right decision. She should not have been disqualified. There's no basis. And the defendants did not carry their burden of proof.

And it's absurd to think that she would be somehow orchestrating all of this for her own benefit. None of that. None of that is true. And so, I think that she will be very intentional. I think she'll be very focused and continue with the job that she has been elected to do.

COATES: Judge Hatchett, when you look at the decision versus the conversations or the statements that were made by this judge that really impugned her credibility, her professionalism, did the judge need to go there?

HATCHETT: I don't think that the judge needed to go all the way there. I don't. And we have to remember that there are some opinions that he may dictate in this written order that he issued today.


But the bottom line is that she was not disqualified and that there was no finding that she should be disqualified. I do think that the decision for Wade to resign was probably an appropriate one because I think that we need to try to clear some of the clutter and some of the noise around this case, and I think that it should move aggressively now to be tried.

COATES: Will his resignation, do you think, cure the case? Because the judge seems to think that there was, based on the appearance of conflict of interest and some of the statements that were made, that it could potentially harm the opportunity for, if not a fair trial, at least how the public would perceive this, say, in a jury pool. Does this now cure what actions taken may have hurt the case?

HATCHETT: I don't know that it will absolutely cure all the clutter and the discussion and the public opinion. What I do know are two things. One is that this case was very well-crafted. The indictment that came down, the grand jury handed down.

And the other thing I want to tell you, Laura, very clearly is that Fani Willis is an excellent -- an excellent district attorney, and that there are very few DAs in this country. I don't think anyone will dispute this. There are very few district attorneys in this nation with the level of expertise in bringing RICO charges in a complicated case like this. Number one.

The other thing is I think that there are far fewer district attorneys who would have the tenacity and the patience and the stamina to bring this case. And I think that that really speaks volumes of who she is and where we are, and I think that that is the bottom line of really what is happening with this case.

COATES: And we shall see what the bottom line will be for the timing --


COATES: -- of the trial and the ultimate outcome. Judge Glenda Hatchett, thank you so much for your insight.

HATCHETT: Always happy to see you, Laura. Thank you for having me.

COATES: For me, too. Just ahead, CNN's presentation of HBO's "Overtime with Bill Maher."




COATES: Well, 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: Hello, CNN. Here I am with former attorney general and the current chairman of the National Democratic Registering Committee, Eric Holder, a Republican congresswoman from South Carolina, Nancy Mace, and a Democratic congressman who represents California's Silicon Valley, Ro Khanna.

All right. That was a burn burner of a panel. I want to ask this question. I wrote this one myself. But I saw Bernie Sanders has a bill that says we're going to reduce our work week from 40 weeks to 32 -- 40 hours to 32 hours. I assume this is so.


Well, of course you like it.

ERIC HOLDER, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Everybody is going to like that.

MAHER: And with no drop in the wages or benefits. Is that possible?

REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): Well, here's what Shawn Fain said about it that everyone should listen to, and he said, the people who are making the cars, the people who are making the steel, they're not getting paid the wages that they deserve. It's all going to --

MAHER: Right.

KHANNA: -- executives. And so, how do we make sure that workers are actually benefiting? If we're going to have AI that automates things and then makes it that you don't have to work as many hours, those gains should be going to workers and not just to executives.

MAHER: What do you think about that?


MAHER: The 32-hour week.

REP. NANCY MACE (R-SC): Of course, everyone is going to love the idea of a 32-hour week --


MACE: -- but I don't think it should be mandated by the government. You know, in my -- in South Carolina, my 17-year-old works in a restaurant making $25 an hour. We don't need a $15 minimum wage. The kid is already making far more than that. He's still in high school.

And so, I would rather have the freedom and independence of people being able to pick the workplace that offers the best benefits for them than having the government mandate it for the people. I believe in freedom.

MAHER: Well, there's the Republican-Democrat debate. Eric, do you think Clarence Thomas -- do you think Clarence Thomas should have faced harsher consequences for accepting gifts from wealthy Republican donors? Has the integrity of the court been compromised?

HOLDER: I think the integrity of the court certainly comes into question based on the conduct that we know he engaged in. There needs to be an ethics standard for -- an ethics conduct -- rule of conduct for the Supreme Court --

MAHER: Is he unique in that?

HOLDER: No. Well, we know Justice Alito also took trips. We know that former Justice Scalia died while he was on one of those trips. And the reality is that I think the court's legitimacy --

MAHER: No Democrats on trips? I'm just asking.

HOLDER: Not that I'm aware of, although there have been justices who apparently forced Democratic-appointed justices who asked people to buy certain numbers of books before they would appear.

MAHER: I've read that, right.

HOLDER: And so, I think that the court itself is -- its legitimacy is being questioned, I think, legitimately on the basis of the decisions that they've made, but also the conduct that they engage in. They are kind of removed, I think, from the normal strictures that those in the legislative branch and the executive branch have to go through. And it's why I think that justices should only serve 18-year terms. They get on there --


MAHER: Yeah.

HOLDER: -- and they get a little isolated.


MACE: I don't -- well, I'm definitely for ethics rules. I think those are good things. But, I mean, I'm looking at Senator Menendez. I mean, the guy had gold bars and cash in his mattresses or whatever and is being indicted multiple times.

HOLDER: And his ass ought to be out of Senate right now.

MACE: Out to be out.


Thank you for saying that.

HOLDER: I said it as soon as the indictment came out.

MACE: Yeah.

MAHER: Well, I have late-breaking news. He says he's going to run now as an independent or he's thinking about it.


MACE: I read that.

MAHER: Bob Menendez.

MACE: Yeah.

MAHER: That's -- that is some big balls.



MACE: Joe Biden doesn't have any balls, but that guy has got --

MAHER: Too big. Right. Balls have to be the right size.


I think we can come to a bipartisan agreement on that, can't we? I mean --

HOLDER: Not too small, not too big.

MAHER: I mean --

MACE: I'm not going --

HOLDER: Goodbye, Menendez.

MACE: I have brass balls in my office, though, I'll say.

MAHER: You deserve them.

MACE: Yeah.


MAHER: Where does the panel think Kate Middleton is?


What explains the public fascination with the royal family?

KHANNA: Why do we care?

MAHER: I don't.

MACE: I don't know what's going on with the --

KHANNA: You know, my grandfather was with Gandhi fighting for the independence of India from the British.

MAHER: Really?


MAHER: Actually with Gandhi?

KHANNA: Yeah, four years in jail.

MACE: Wow.

KHANNA: Four years in jail.


MACE: Wow.

KHANNA: So, I don't get the obsession with the royal family.

MAHER: Right.

KHANNA: On a personal basis, I don't get it.


MACE: We're not following it on TikTok. Let's just say that. We're not following the news on TikTok.

MAHER: Right. You think we should care more about Gandhi?

KHANNA: I think we should care more about Gandhi and King --

MAHER: Yeah. Right.

KHANNA: -- and the people, Mandela, people who inspired this world for better.


MAHER: What did the panel think of RFK, Jr. announcing he has picked a running mate? Oh, he did? I didn't hear. I heard he was talking about Aaron Rodgers.

KHANNA: That's what he's trying.

HOLDER: Aaron Rodgers or Jesse Ventura?



Well, this says --

HOLDER: No, I mean, that's what --

MAHER: Yes, he was. This says he has picked one, but maybe --

KHANNA: There goes your slot. There goes your slot.


MACE: Is it you? Is it you, Bill?

MAHER: Oh, no. Why would it be me?

KHANNA: Because you're kind of independent. You know, people can't guess your politics.

MAHER: Uh, I think people know my politics if they watch the show every week. I don't think I'm that crazy.

MACE: No, you're not crazy.

MAHER: No, no.

MACE: You're a crazy classical liberal.

MAHER: Right. No, I just think --

KHANNA: I think you're independent. Right.

MAHER: I mean, I just don't understand why everything in this country has to always be from one extreme to the other.


MACE: I think most people are where you are.


MACE: I think most people are where you are, and they don't want that binary choice. But I think there's two types of people. There are people who have to be right all the time and those that just want to seek out the truth. I think most of Americans just want the truth. They just want it out there.


MAHER: Right. I mean, there's got to be always some sensible middle ground between Trump saying shoplifters should be shot on sight and other people saying shoplifting is just as shopping. You know, those to me are the two sides, and then --

KHANNA: Not morally equivalent.

MAHER: No, not -- one is pretty worse.

MACE: People shouldn't be stealing out of stores, period.

MAHER: But shoplifting is -- we shouldn't do anything to stop it.

KHANNA: No, I agree.

MAHER: People walking out of stores with --

KHANNA: Shoplifting should be prosecuted.

MAHER: I mean, it's the --

MACE: But you've got blue states that are taking away bail and bond for murderers and rapists. I mean, like, that can't be a thing either.

MAHER: Where are you on that? That was your own department.

HOLDER: We shouldn't have bail or bond or anything. It should be a determination. If the person is going to be a threat to the community, hold that person. If the person's not going to show up again, hold that person. Bail or bond discriminates against people who don't have the ability to come up with money to get themselves out of jail --


-- and they serve time in jail disproportionately as opposed to their more wealthy counterparts.

MACE: Look at Illinois. Rapists and murderers are getting out walking free.

KHANNA: I wish the Democratic Party could be that eloquent on that issue. No, because --

MAHER: I wish a lot of things. Yes, I --

KHANNA: We usually -- you know, we don't explain it well. It's not that when you take away bail, it's saying people shouldn't be in jail because they're poor, not that they shouldn't be in jail if they're a threat to society. I mean, he said it better, but we've got to --

MAHER: Yeah. I mean --

HOLDER: It's an industry. It's a bail bond industry that fights this reform. And I've been against that, done it when I was AG. I've done pro bono work as a private attorney, and we have been pushing back against this notion of doing bail at all. Just hold people if you think they're going to be a threat.

MAHER: I tried to get him to run, but the kid said no.



But, I mean, Mayor Adams in New York said last week that most of the people who they arrest have been arrested many, many, many, many times before. He said what we have is a recidivism problem. I mean, that does suggest that there is sort of a revolving door that we have to close at some point.

MACE: And the studies will show you on the recidivism, even with violent offenders, when they get out of jail or they get out of prison, if they get therapy, they get job training and a job when they get out, 68% of them don't go back to jail.

HOLDER: Right.

MACE: So, we have to rethink what we do with these offenders when they get out.

HOLDER: That's exactly right.

KHANNA: And housing.


If you have a criminal record, one of the things that are very hard to get is public housing or housing. And so, we often -- yes, you need to make sure that if someone's shoplifting, they get prosecuted and they should be held accountable, then we need to think, what's going to integrate them into society? How are they going to get a house? How are they going to be able to get a job? And we don't pay any attention to that part.

MAHER: And as vice-president, what would you say?


MACE: I'm not -- I'm going to be, but in your dreams and in your dreams.

MAHER: Oh, I --

MACE: We're not. But I mean, there's a group in --

MAHER: Well, you wouldn't turn it down, would you?

MACE: Oh, absolutely. Nobody would turn that down.

MAHER: There you go. That's -- MACE: You're heartbeat away. I mean --

MAHER: Right.

MACE: -- I just -- and it's for your country.

MAHER: Right.

MACE: It's service for your country.

MAHER: Absolutely.


MACE: But there's a group in South Carolina. It's called Turn 90. It's a nonprofit. But they get job training, therapy, education for these offenders that come out, and they have a 22% rate of -- I mean, these guys are not going back to jail. It's a beautiful thing.

HOLDER: You know, that's something that I started when I was attorney general. We call it the Smart on Crime Initiative. And what is one of the first things that they did in the Trump administration under sessions? They really gutted a lot of the things that you're just talking about. That's what Trump did.

MACE: But he -- Donald Trump did sign the First Steps Act into law. It was a bipartisan prison reform bill in December of 2018. He did some -- do some good prison reform. In fact --

HOLDER: A small amount --

MAHER: Yes, after Kim Kardashian visited him.

MACE: But women --


MAHER: No, that's true. That's true.


MACE: And that women in prison used to be restrained. Women in prison used to be restrained to their beds while giving birth until the First Step Act got rid of that barbaric practice. So, he did some good on bipartisan prison reform, too.

MAHER: That's some low-hanging fruit there.

MACE: That's terrible. It's barbaric.


MAHER: I mean, I'll give him.

HOLDER: Right.

MAHER: I'll give him.

MACE: But the fact that we were doing this to women in prison, it's crazy.

HOLDER: But there was a need for a second act. It never happened.

MAHER: Okay. And it did happen after Kim Kardashian -- she lobbied her ass off.

MACE: Well, then she did a good job. So, we applaud Kim Kardashian.

MAHER: What do you think of Senator Schumer's speech criticizing Netanyahu and calling for new elections in Israel? Wow. That quote --


MACE: Completely inappropriate.

MAHER: You thought it was completely inappropriate?

MACE: I thought it was inappropriate. We should not be meddling in the election or affairs of other countries. I know we do sometimes. We should not be doing that.

MAHER: And we don't like it when they do it with us. That's true.

MACE: Right. And we shouldn't be doing it in other countries. And we have done this. And we've done it unsuccessfully for decades. We've had really --

MAHER: I mean, he's just offering an opinion.

MACE: Yeah, but --

MAHER: I mean, we are -- we do give them a lot of money. Maybe that gives us the right, just maybe, you know, kibitz a little.


MACE: Well, they do a lot for us, too.

MAHER: I'm just asking.

MACE: They do. Israel does a lot for the United States.

HOLDER: But there's the need to separate the Netanyahu policies from the support that we all feel for Israel and the horrors that Hamas actually brought to the people of Israel.

MAHER: Right.

HOLDER: The Netanyahu policies are deplorable. They are deplorable. They are excessive.


MACE: And that's for Israel. That's for the citizens of Israel to decide. It's not for us to decide.

HOLDER: Best friends sometimes in really direct ways.

KHANNA: One of the strongest supporters of the U.S.-Israel relationship.

MAHER: Yes, of course.

KHANNA: For him to say that, you have to know how much Bibi has probably upset him. That takes a lot.

MAHER: We ran over our time. Thank you, CNN. 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.

Coming up, the prosecutor overseeing the cases against the parents of Ethan Crumbley is now speaking out. What she's saying about the historic guilty verdicts that could reshape just who's responsible for school shootings.




COATES: So, who is responsible when a teen goes on a deadly school shooting rampage? How this country answers that question may now be forever changed. That after a pair of groundbreaking trials in Michigan. I'm talking, of course, about Jennifer and James Crumbley, the parents of the 2021 Oxford High School shooter who killed four fellow students. His mother and his father were both found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

And now, the prosecutor who pursued their cases, well, she's speaking out. Here's CNN's Jean Casarez.


KAREN MCDONALD, OAKLAND COUNTY PROSECUTOR: I've never, ever, ever thought or doubted that this case was strong.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): James and Jennifer Crumbley didn't pull the trigger. But Karen McDonald, the Michigan prosecutor who oversaw both cases, says they were clearly responsible.

MCDONALD: I knew, once the actual evidence was in front of 12 reasonable people, that they would come to conclusion, we can't just let them walk away from that. It's just not right. CASAREZ (voice-over): Legal experts now saying the guilty charges against the Crumbleys will likely set a new precedent surrounding the degree to which parents of school shooters can also be held accountable.

Did you realize at the time that charges like this had never been brought in this country before?

MCDONALD: Absolutely not. I never asked that question.

CASAREZ: This is a special set of facts.


CASAREZ: But isn't it warranted, those charges that you brought, aren't they warranted in circumstances around this country by prosecutors in all of our states?

MCDONALD: Well, we have to have prosecutors and law enforcement and community members asking the right questions. When that case was presented and I was met with, well, we can't charge them, what are we going to charge them with? And where's the legal duty? And I said, we have to find that.

But I know it exists because I know that our law, our set of laws are based on what's right and wrong, and I know that we have a duty to other children and other people to protect them.

CASAREZ (voice-over): She says evidence the parents immediately suspected their son was the shooter, calling 911, and texting him, helped convince her to charge them.

MCDONALD: I looked at the mom's phone and, you know, the last text she sent was, Ethan, don't do it. This, to me, was never a close call.

CASAREZ: Can anything be done in the criminal justice system to address the mental health aspect of a minor when the parents know it, see it, and don't do anything about it?

MCDONALD: Yes, and we're doing that. But I want to be clear about something. A lot of times, we like to say, there's a mental health crisis in the country, in this country, and until we address it, we won't prevent gun violence.


That's not true. We don't need an army of therapists to solve this problem. What we need are data-based, evidence-based components to teach just basic core distress tolerance and emotional social curriculum, and then we need to teach people how to identify someone who's in crisis.

CASAREZ (voice-over): McDonald has been a high school teacher, judge and prosecutor, but says it's her role as a parent that really drove her in this prosecution. MCDONALD: I'm a mom, and I promised those parents that I would -- from the day I met them, that I would -- I would handle this case as if that was my own kid, right or wrong, and I have.

CASAREZ (voice-over): Jean Casarez, CNN, Pontiac, Michigan.


COATES: Jean, thank you so much for that. Up next, my investigation into two missing people with one mysterious connection. It's part of CNN's "The Whole Story with Anderson Cooper."




COATES: I've got to tell you about this truly spellbinding story. A cold case reopened. In 2003, two men of color went missing three months apart. Their names? Felipe Santos and Terrsnce Williams. Both vanished from Naples, Florida and both vanished along the same road. And guess what? Both vanished after getting in a patrol car driven by the same white deputy sheriff. Both are believed to be dead.

Twenty years later, that deputy sheriff, a man by the name of Steve Calkins, remains the last person to see either of those men alive. Now, he maintains his innocence. The cold case was little known until Tyler Perry and civil rights attorney Ben Crump teamed up to file a wrongful death suit against Calkins in 2018.

But now, on a new episode of "The Whole Story" this Sunday night, I dig into the case along with CNN's Thomas Lake.


UNKNOWN: There are several details that appears that what Calkins's account of the events are not accurate. He didn't check out with Mr. Williams on the radio as you're supposed to. He didn't notify dispatch that he was transporting someone from one location to another. The timeline of when he said it occurred versus the independent witnesses, all of that appeared that he was not being truthful about the encounter between Terrance Williams and himself.

COATES (voice-over): Those inconsistencies surfaced during a months- long internal investigation. Corporal Calkins took three polygraph tests during the probe. One of those tests indicated deception.

Marcia, there was a time when Calkins was interviewed. I want to play this for you in this meeting.

CPL. STEVEN CALKINS (voice-over): I may have broken a couple rules, but I have broken no laws. I feel that this agency needs to stand a little bit taller here. I'm not going be dragged through the mud no more because a couple of scumbags are missing. Is this being recorded?

COATES: Scumbags.


Maybe he's calling his own self a scumbag. Maybe he was a dirty cop.


COATES: Joining me now is CNN crime reporter Thomas Lake. Thomas, it's so good to see you again, my friend. I mean, it was your reporting that we followed up on in the first place. How did this case even cross your desk?

THOMAS LAKE, CNN CRIME REPORTER: Yeah, back in 2019, I just finished up another investigation, I was looking down list of unsolved missing persons cases in this country, and this one came up. And it sorts of haunted me ever since. I've been digging into it.

Now, interviewed more than 70 people, read more than 10,000 pages of documents, looked through just about every arrest and incident report this deputy ever looked at, gone through some woods down there in Florida looking for bones myself and done a lot of lying awake at night thinking about this case.

It's just -- there's something about it, Laura, that seems different from anything else I've ever looked into and -- I don't know. Did the same thing happen to you?

COATES: It did. I mean, just your reporting and also meeting Marcia, who is Terrance's mother, looking in the eyes of another mother who just wants to know what happened, just wants to know what happened to her son.

And as you got deeper in the weeds of this story, you noticed all of these discrepancies, including and especially a second disappearance. Terrance Williams and, of course, Felipe Santos, three months apart. Talk to us about that.

LAKE: Yeah. It's striking, the similarities between these two disappearances. The deputy gave similar stories. In both cases, he said, well, I just decided to cut this man a break and drop him off at the Circle K. Well, investigators went, and they checked. There was no proof that either man ever got to this Circle K.

Both these men were men of color. They were driving without a license or insurance. There was a colleague of Calkins who told me uninsured or unlicensed drivers, that was something that made Deputy Calkins especially angry.

And so, what was going on with him? He'd gone something like three years without making any arrests. So, he was out there, apparently not being very closely supervised, and he seemed to have this sense that the justice system wasn't working.


So, where did that lead him?


LAKE: You know, it's disturbing to think about.

COATES: Where did that lead him? What was he doing? And what happened from the time that he pulled over these two men to the time that was unaccounted for? We dive into all of those questions. This is a really important whole story.

Thomas Lake, your reporting, phenomenal. Be sure, everyone, to tune in. It's an all new episode of "The Whole Story with Anderson Cooper." One whole hour, one whole story. It airs Sunday at 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, only on CNN.

Thank you all for watching. Our coverage continues.