Return to Transcripts main page

Laura Coates Live

Six Presumed Dead In Unspeakable Baltimore Bridge Collapse; Six Presumed Dead As Coast Guard Suspends Collapse Search; Judge Slaps Trump With Gag Order In Hush Money Trial; Supreme Court Hears Arguments Mifepristone; Senator Amy Klobuchar Weighs In On The Baltimore Bridge Collapse And The Issue On Mifepristone; Dennis Kucinich Reacts To RFK's Runningmate Choice; Baltimore Bridge Collapses. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired March 26, 2024 - 22:00   ET



FMR. SEN. DOUG JONES (D-AL): It's a win to push back on the culture wars. That's all that is being fought by Republican leadership in Montgomery. It's a win for people who want to work together for education, for jobs, for opportunities, and to do things for all Alabamians, not just fighting the culture wars. It's a huge deal, Kaitlan, a huge deal.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: It certainly is. Doug Jones, we couldn't have timed this interview better. Thank you so much for joining us tonight.

And thank you all so much for joining us tonight. Laura Coates Live starts right now.

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: A shipwreck, a life-saving siren, a shirt search suspended, and now a sad reality for six families. That's tonight on a special two-hour edition of Laura Coates Live.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Laura Coates.

And the words presumed dead are now breaking hearts all across this nation. Tonight, authorities say the six individuals unaccounted for who were on the bridge that collapsed outside of Baltimore are likely no longer alive. This is a tragic development from the already stomach-turning scenes from an American disaster.

Now, that's the moment of impact that you're seeing right now, when a powerless ship slammed bow first into the Francis Scott Key Bridge and brought it plummeting down into the Patapsco River.

Now, they say that it looks like an accident, according to officials set in motion, a furious, day-long scramble to try to piece together how things went so wrong, and save lives that were caught in a once- in-a-decade calamity.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Be advised, the entire bridge, the entire Key Bridge is in the harbor.

GOV. WES MOORE (D-MD): To hear the words that the Key Bridge has collapsed, it's shocking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's how they were bunched up. It was loud. That's really all it was. It was loud.

I didn't believe it, though, until I came this morning.

MAYOR BRANDON SCOTT (D-BALTIMORE, MD): This is an unthinkable tragedy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I need one of you guys on the south side, one of you guys on the north side, hold all traffic on the Key Bridge.

There's a ship approaching. I just lost their steering.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We drive over the bridge a thousand times, you know, years.

It's like, whoa, it's like mind blowing.

MOORE: I'm thankful for the folks who, who once the -- you know, once the warning came up and once notification came up.

These people are heroes. They saved lives. They saved lives last night.

PETE BUTTIGIEG, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: This is an excruciating day for several families and woke up today to news that no one wants to receive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We certainly worry about those who are in the water, not to mention the fall from the bridge. For folks who we know, we know that there were individuals working on the bridge.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: We're going to get it up and running again as soon as possible. 15,000 jobs depend on that port.

BUTTIGIEG: There is no question that this will be a major and protracted impact to supply chains.

BIDEN: You're Maryland tough, you're Baltimore strong, and we're going to get through this together, and I promise we're not leaving.


COATES: Joining me now live from Baltimore, Andy Middleton. Now, he is the director of Apostleship of the Sea. He advises cargo ships. He's also a former Baltimore City Police officer. Andy, thank you so much for joining.

I mean, every time I see these images, it is unthinkable as to what has happened, the collapse, the loss of human life. It is just unbelievable to so many people. You actually were out with the captain of this vessel just yesterday. Do you know if everyone is safe? Have you heard from your friends? ANDY MIDDLETON, DIRECTOR, APOSTLESHIP OF THE SEA: Yes, I was able to reach out to a crew member very early this morning around 5:30 or 6:00 and get a message to them, asking if they were okay. That crew member responded within just a few minutes advising that the crew was safe and everybody that on board was safe. It's definitely a tragic event that I don't think anyone ever anticipated would happen.

COATES: Truly. I mean, what can you tell us about who this captain is, about the crew of the ship? Who are they? Where are they from?

MIDDLETON: So, my information is that there are 22 crew members on board. I believe they are all from India. They were setting sail from Baltimore early this morning, headed towards Sri Lanka, where I was out with the captain yesterday. We were talking while we were driving and he advised that they were sailing down and around the tip of South Africa in order to avoid the incidents that are going on in the -- off the Yemen coast.


And it was a safer way to go.

COATES: Wow, thinking about that, the idea of trying to navigate a safer passage and now to see what has resulted. You know, you really want to understand or why you would have been in contact with the crew. You do advise cargo ships. What was your advice to them over these past few days? Were they looking to you to figure out the best safe navigable course or something else?

MIDDLETON: Well, we're a ministry to seafarers. So, we're in the port six days, seven days a week, on board the vessels, a friendly face to the seafarers that visit the port of Baltimore, taking care of their needs to make sure that they're reminded of they are God-given human dignity when they here in Baltimore.

COATES: That's very powerful to think about, and here we are now learning about the fate of some and wondering what the families that have lost loved ones are thinking tonight. And one of the things we know, there was a mayday call from this crew before crashing directly into the bridge. I mean, such a critical moment. Do you believe that that saved more lives?

MIDDLETON: I'm sure that it did. And I've been in this ministry for 15 years now. And if there's one thing that you know that you learned working with seafarers, is that they're deeply, deeply caring people. You know, they want the best for everyone.

And they didn't set sail this morning at 12:31 with intentions of causing any one harm, let alone the tragedy that has unfolded today.

COATES: Truly unimaginable. Andy Middleton, thank you so much.

MIDDLETON: No, Thank you.

COATES: For more, I want to bring in a former merchant marine captain, John Nicoll, Captain Nicoll. Captain John, excuse me, you are familiar with this port and, you know, looking at this video that we have of the impact of the Dali into the bridge. What are you seeing from your expert vantage point?

CAPT. FREDERICK JOHN NICOLL, FORMER MERCHANT MARINE, NAVAL OFFICER: I'm seeing they lost power and the lights went out when you lose power, and they probably lost propulsion. At that time, they had a couple minutes went by and I see the lights come back on. So, they have emergency generator going on and possibly still had steering with the emergency generator, but they had no power.

So, when you lose your propeller that goes to your rudder, you lose your steerage, your rudder is only 10 percent effective compared to when you get a wash coming from the propeller. So, they basically have lost steerage. 10 percent, on a 1,000-foot vessel is not much at all.

COATES: So when you're trying to steer -- excuse me for a second -- you want to steer the ship, does that mean that it becomes extraordinarily difficult physically to try to steer? Is this electronic in some way? How is that steerage done?

NICOLL: Well, it's mechanical and electronic. Everything is integrated today. You can still have power, so you move the rudder, but it is 10 percent efficient and 90 percent inefficient. So, you don't have much to work with.

COATES: If you're unable, does that mean you might be unable to slow as well? I mean, the momentum would take to actually get you going off of the port to be able to then navigate these waters, I would assume, has some level of acceleration and the ability to keep going. Would that, combined with the absence of that 90 percent steerage, would that make it very difficult to have, let alone a quick stop, but to turn on a dime?

NICOLL: You can't turn it on anything because the shaft, the propeller is not going anywhere. It's just sitting there. It can't back down, it can't go forward, and you have nothing. You're just a big steel vessel, almost like a log, going through the water.

COATES: That sounds terrifying to think about the possible knowledge of that's actually happening and knowing that that is coming approaching this bridge.

We know there was also a mayday call from that ship that gave a two- minute warning. What does that tell you?

NICOLL: That's how they were communicating. They were on top of the game. I have no doubt that the captain and pilots were doing everything they can.


Not that far from the port of Baltimore and Linthicum is an excellent ship handling school. And I'm sure the pilots have gone there many times.

So, I have no doubt they did everything they could, you know, with the mayday. And, fortunately, nobody on their vessel went in the water, from what I understand. That would have been a second call, which is pan, pan, P-A-N, P-A-N, where they lost somebody in the water. And, apparently, they didn't lose anybody in the water.

There would have been somebody up on the bow to let the anchor go, but I believe they had such short notice, the anchors won't let go. And there was no way to correct the forward motion of the vessel. And, luckily, hopefully, they all got out of the way and, you know, were not hurt when the bridge came down upon the bow of the ship.

Every captain, every sailor that's been going to sea has at one time or another been on a ship that has lost its steerage. This is one of the most catastrophic I've ever known about. It reminds me of the one in the 70s that happened at the Sun Bridge in Tampa. So, this was horribly unique.

COATES: Well, the catastrophe that has resulted, unbelievable.

Thank you so much, Captain John Nicoll.

We've got more on this tragedy ahead.

Also, breaking tonight, the judge in Donald Trump's hush money case slapping him with a gag order. It's a limited one, but I'll tell you more about that. Elie Mystal joins me live on what this means for the trial.

Plus, also new tonight, NBC now ousting Ronna McDaniel after the on- air rebellion over her hire. And Trump, well, he's responding.

And just in now, the first reaction from the legal team for hip-hop mogul Diddy, hear why they are slamming the raids on his homes.



COATES: Well, Donald Trump has made a career, a living, and, frankly, a presidency, by running his mouth. And now, as he faces his first criminal trial, he's facing a kind of a muzzle. The judge in the hush money case slapping him with a limited gag order tonight, just three weeks before the trial is supposed to start with jury selection.

Now, what does it mean? He can't attack witnesses, he can't attack jurors, prosecutors, lawyers, or court officials, what the judge calls a history of, quote, threatening, inflammatory, denigrating remarks. It all comes just a day after Trump said this about one of the prosecutors in the case.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, Colangelo is a radical left from the DOJ, who was put into the state working with Letitia James, and then was put into the district attorney's office to run the trial against Trump. And that was done by Biden and his thugs also. This is a Biden trial. These are all Biden trials because Colangelo worked for Biden.


COATES: So, I don't know where Daniel Dale is to fact check this, but I'll just be here for a second. There is no evidence to back that claim, full stop.

The gag order also comes just hours after Trump posted on Truth Social calling the judge a, quote, certified Trump hater before attacking judge's daughter for her political work with Democrats.

Let's bring in Elie Mystal. He's a justice correspondent and columnist for The Nation and host of their new podcast, Contempt of Court. Elue, good to see you. How are you doing tonight?


COATES: I'm good. Listen, another day, another moment, another muzzle, it seems. He has not exactly obeyed his past gag orders, but he has been fined twice for violating a gag order, remember, in the civil fraud trial case. Will he actually abide by this one, do you think?

MYSTAL: No, the man, as you say, is incapable of shutting his mouth. The reason why he got this gag order, and, Laura, you said the exact right word, he attacks people, he attacks judges, their staff, their families, the lawyers, their families, witnesses, jurors, hurricanes, windmills. The man only does attack.

And what this gag order is, is the judge trying to maintain some control of his courtroom. In the courtroom, the judge is the boss. The judge is the king, not Donald Trump. That is a fact that Trump has a hard time dealing with, and he will most certainly violate this gag order as this trial gets going, and then the next news cycle, the next news hit, will be whether or not the judge wants to do anything to Trump after he surely violates this gag order because he can't shut up.

COATES: Well, let's follow that thread for a second, Elie, because if he does violate the order, and I remember before talking about a civil case, where the result was never going to be, even if found liable, jailing, this is a criminal case now, what happens if he breaks this gag order in a criminal case? I mean, if it was the average defendant who violated the terms of release or the pre-trial obligations they had to meet, they could get detained, step back is how you call it. Is that likely to happen here, you think?

MYSTAL: I mean, Laura, I almost can't answer that question because I'm black. If I violated the gag order, I would be in jail. That's how it works for people who look like me. For people who look like Trump, for people who act like Trump, for people with the political power and money and connections that Trump has, I doubt very seriously that the judge will jail him, as he's supposed to, for running his mouth.

[22:20:03] It's just another -- it's just more evidence that we have a two-tiered justice system.

And I used to say it was two-tiered, one for rich white people, one for everybody else, but it actually seems to be three tiers, one for everybody else, one for rich white people, like Sam Bankman Fried, and then one whole different level for Donald Trump, where he's never held accountable for his actions.

Maybe this judge will be different. I doubt it, but we'll have to see.

COATES: Well, he doesn't even want this judge, Elie, right? He's called the judge to recuse himself from the trial, which we've heard this time and time again. And we know you can't go around trying to judge or form shop, but he seems to want a particular type of person to oversee his cases.

I'm venturing to say it's one who'd be more favorable to him and his criteria for that seems to be very odd. But he also wants this case to be moved out of Manhattan to Staten Island.

Now, if you just look for a second, Elie, at how Manhattan voted in the 2020 election, I think it was close to, what, 87 percent for Biden. But in Staten Island, Trump won by 15 points. So, what's the deal? Do you think that a jury in Manhattan just could not possibly be impartial to him?

MYSTAL: Does Trump not think that his cultists can operate the Staten Island Ferry? I think they can. So, look, this is a trial in New York City. There are five boroughs in New York City. The jury summons will go out to all of them.

But, yes, the trial will be focused in Manhattan. Why? Because he committed his alleged crimes in Manhattan. I don't think -- correct me if I'm wrong, I do not think there is an allegation that Trump tried to sell somebody the Verrazano Bridge. If he did, that would be a good reason to move it to Staten Island. But he didn't, his alleged crimes happened in Manhattan. So, he will be tried in Manhattan, just like, again, any other person who was accused of crimes in Manhattan.

But the jury summons, he well could get some people from Staten Island on the voir dire. If not people from Staten Island, people of Staten Island, people who carry the Staten Island with them wherever they go.

It's not like the Manhattan jury is going to be all one way or all the other way. That's what pre-trial jury selection is about, voir dire, as the lawyers call it. We have a whole due process that Trump will be able to afford himself to try to get an impartial jury.

COATES: I mean, Elie, first of all, if Staten Island is where it is, I'm wondering where Pete Davidson, we're calling Joe Star (ph) tonight. Are they trying to get summons in some form or fashion? Can you imagine what that would look like? I'm just -- a girl can dream about what that would play out to mean in that voir dire.

Listen, speaking of NBC, and, of course, the home of SNL, NBC News today ousted the former RNC chair, Ronna McDaniel, just days after she was hired as a paid political analyst. And, of course, you surely have heard about the uproar from top anchors at the network and other journalists and employees as well over her role in subverting the 2020 election, her attacks on the press. All of this would have been known to those who hired her. So, was the decision to now terminate the right call?

MYSTAL: Laura, I don't see why. You're trying to get me in trouble. I don't know nothing about (INAUDIBLE).

COATES: Gone With the Wind reference too. Are you my spirit animal? Hold on a second.

MYSTAL: Look, I do not think that it's a problem for journalists to be objectively pro-democracy. I don't think that's a partisan stance. I think that is a reality stance.

Ronna McDaniel is not objectively pro-democracy. She is objectively a liar who tried to upend democracy in service of the Republican Party and Donald Trump. That is different. I am all for diversity. I am all for diverse views. You want to put me on a panel with Republican super lawyer Paul Clement? Let's go.

I will have that panel because Paul Clement, while I disagree with like everything he stands for, is a person who argues with facts and in good faith most of the time. Ronna McDaniel, I can't say the same thing about. So, I can't be on a panel with Ronna McDaniel because she lies. And you can't be on a panel with a person who is lying all the time.

So, I think that's really the separation here. It's not about diversity of viewpoint. Everybody wants diversity of viewpoint. It's good T.V., if for no other reason, right? But what people don't want are election deniers, liars.

And there's another last thing that I'll point out about here. We live in a country where the people who actually attack the Capitol, the little people, the button man who went to the Capitol on that day, they got held accountable. They're in jail. But the people who put them there, the people who told them to go there, the people who lied to these people and told them that the election was stolen, these people have not been held accountable. The people in power have not been held accountable.

And at some point, that still needs to happen because we can't be a country that just punishes the weak and the powerless and doesn't punish the powerful and the politically connected and the nieces of U.S. senators.


Those people have to be held accountable for their actions as well.

COATES: You got to add a fourth category to that two-tier justice system. You said Trump, the wealthy, the non-wealthy, then you have to have those who have followed as well. Elie Mystal, always great to have you, excuse me. And I'm going to think about what the perfect panel looks like with Elie. I mean, Paul Clement is one. Can I add Donald Trump to that panel? I do want to see that. I do want to see that very, very badly at some point in time. I know.

MYSTAL: I can't talk that loud.

COATES: Okay. Elie, nice to see you.

MYSTAL: Nice to see you, Laura.

COATES: Up next, RFK Jr. announcing his running mate, I'm not going to say I told you so last night, but I told you so last night, a young, wealthy woman connected to Silicon Valley, but it's what RFK admitted during the reveal that's raising some eyebrows.

Plus, will the Supreme Court ban the so-called abortion pill? In one of the most significant cases since they overturned Roe v. Wade, they asked questions about that very point. I'll talk to Senator Amy Klobuchar about today's arguments, next.



COATES: Well, the highest court in the land is now deciding another abortion-related case, and it could restrict access nationwide. Today, the Supreme Court heard arguments about a medication called Mifepristone. Now, it's used in more than half of all medication abortions in the United States.

Well, anti-abortion doctors and medical organizations argue that the FDA violated the law in how it approved and expanded the access to this drug. But the court, I'll tell you what, they seem somewhat skeptical in their oral argument questioning today. They were focused on standing, on whether the doctors actually had the right to bring this case before them.


ELENA KAGAN, U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: May I ask Ms. Hawley about your basic theory of standing? I mean, you're just saying even FDA admits that there are going to be some adverse events. People are going to show up in emergency rooms. People are going to come face to face with one of the doctors who objects to some aspect of the treatment.

BRETT KAVANAUGH, U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: Just to confirm on the standing issue, under federal law, no doctors can be forced against their consciences to perform or assist in an abortion, correct?


COATES: Joining me now is Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar from my home state of Minnesota. She's on the Judiciary Committee and the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. Senator, thank you so much for joining me today. There was a lot happening in Washington, D.C. today in today's Supreme Court arguments.

There's actually a lot of discussion, as you know, about the FDA's power to approve drugs, as well as how they are either used or even prescribed. And I'm wondering, you know, from your perspective, you're an attorney, you've been following this very closely, as well. What was your takeaway from these arguments and the justices' questions?

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D) MINNESOTA: Well, I think your viewers first need to know of the impact of this. This is unbelievable. This is a drug that is safe and effective, approved for 25 years, and yet this case is before the Supreme Court. The majority of women seeking abortions use Mifepristone. They use this drug. Yet this Texas court basically said, hey, no, it's not okay to do it by mail, not okay. And so, that's why this is before the Supreme Court.

So, what did I take from the court argument this morning? Well, the first thing was the judges across the board, the justices, seemed deeply skeptical that this case should be brought. Why? Not because of their ideological views. We know it was these very Trump-appointed judges that got us to this point with the Dobbs decision, just simply because they don't think it meets the muster of what we call standing.

You know, they shouldn't be -- they're bringing this case when they can't actually show harm the people in this case. Justice Kagan said it best when she said, so who is the person? Who is the person that was harmed? And as Ketanji Brown-Jackson pointed out, you balance that against the great harm to all these women seeking to get this care.

So, this is a -- almost a predictable outcome of this disastrous decision that the Trump-appointed judges made in the Dobbs case. But nevertheless, it did seem today that the majority of the justices were not going to side with that court in Texas.

COATES: There was also this notion, and one of the phrases I kept hearing is the second guessing. Now, that was a phrase in terms of we often hear about whether the courts, whether different law enforcement officials, whether politicians ought to be in the business of second guessing the decisions that a person makes in their reproductive health or a private conversation with his or her doctor.

Compare that to now the second guessing of the FDA's decisions and the FDA's decision to either evaluate or approve different drugs. That was really stunning to me in thinking about where we are today, that the Supreme Court might, if standing is met, be in a position to decide this.

KLOBUCHAR: And that is such a great point, Laura, because what's going on here, if they decided to allow this case to go forward and, in fact, decided on throwing out the FDA rules, this could happen to any drug. It could happen to anything -- HIV drugs. It could happen to birth control.

[22:35:00] Because basically, a few doctors that have a different ideological view are able to come forward and say, hey, we might have to do something here, when, in fact, they're protected by law from this conscience provision. But in fact, if you let this case go, it could undermine all safety rules for drugs. And basically, remember, it's the same kind of thing from the beginning. And it is Joe Biden's belief, my belief, that women should be able to make their own decisions about their health care.

COATES: I do want to bring into our conversation what this catastrophic bridge collapse must trigger for so many people that happened early in the wee, small hours of this morning in Baltimore. People from the Twin Cities area, like myself, like you, are hearkening back to what happened on that 35W Bridge collapse in Minneapolis, August of 2007.

I remember I was living in Minnesota still at the time, I was still practicing law there, and hearing about what had happened, seeing the tragedy that fell upon those who were most impacted. I mean, you must be seeing some parallels, and it's triggering to see what happened now.

KLOBUCHAR: I am, Laura. I think everyone in Minnesota, when we woke up this morning and saw what had happened, well-remembered back to where we were when the 35W Bridge collapsed. That bridge, over a dozen people died, their cars submerged in the water. They didn't have that Mayday warning sign that you had in Baltimore. But one thing both collapses had in common was the heroic deeds of the first responders.

In this case, the wherewithal to actually stop traffic going on the bridge in Baltimore, diving into dangerous waters, the Coast Guard and the like and firefighters to try to rescue people. And we have the tragic news now that they are not going to be able to -- they've not established that people are alive and they are presumed dead. Very, very sad.

And I'll say that, President, coming out front on this, I saw my colleagues Senator Cardin and Van Hollen talk to Cardin today. They are focused on rebuilding. The governor, who was on your network earlier, talking about the fact that this is a major economic artery, today mourning the loss, respecting the rescue efforts, but knowing that right now, in the middle of that river, there is literally a huge shipping barge filled with containers the size of a building with a bridge on top of it.

So, that is why it is really important that they figure out immediately, as Secretary Buttigieg has committed to do, to get that bridge out of the way and get the barge into another area so that the ships can start going, because people's livelihood depends on that, as well as rebuilding the bridge, something we did, as you know, in Minnesota with federal funds in 13 months.

You know, speaking of the federal funds, I mean, you are right to focus on the human tragedy and the toll that it has taken, and also thinking about the prospective rebuild of this major artery. But I was surprised, I have to tell you, even though I'm certainly not politically naive, I was surprised at the pace in which this became political, that there were members of Congress who were already focusing on this as a failure, somehow, of the Biden administration.

I want to get your take, frankly, on an argument that was made by Republican Congresswoman Nancy Mace. Listen to what she had to say.


NANCY MACE (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: Look at the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that was done a couple of years ago that the left hails as this massive success, but it was mostly Green New Deal, actually, in that bill -- $110 billion went to surface transportation, which is roads and bridges, and of that $110 billion, $70 billion went to public transportation, leaving only $40 billion for traditional roads and bridges, what you and I think about.

And if you live along the coast or you live near water, you know that our bridges are rusting out. You know that we have many, many bridges that have to be replaced and upgraded. And you know it's probably about a billion dollars a bridge every time.


COATES: Now, Senator, the cause of the bridge collapse is under investigation. This was less than 24 hours ago this actually happens. We don't actually know whether there were underlying problems with this bridge, aside from the collision from this vessel. But what do you make of this argument that's already being made?

KLOBUCHAR: I just find this so disheartening, Laura. There are people, there are families, as the governor explained earlier in your network, with those families. Those families just found out that they lost their loved ones. There are people diving into these waters. And in fact, we know that something went wrong with the ship here. We know that.

There was a Mayday. There was an alert. The ship was not under control. Now, we don't know how that happened, why that happened, but that clearly was the contributing cause to what happened with this bridge. So, for her to go in that direction, to me, is an outrage.

COATES: Senator Amy Klobuchar, thank you so much for joining.


KLOBUCHAR: Thank you.

COATES: Well, tonight, RFK Jr. has chosen his number two. Her name, Nicole Shanahan. She's a scientist, technologist, and quote-unquote, "warrior mom". But also, she's things Mr. Kennedy says that he values, that don't rhyme with reasons for why you chose someone to be a heartbeat away from the presidency.


ROBERT F. KENNEDY, JR., INDEPENDENT PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I also wanted someone who was an athlete, who could help me inspire Americans to heal, to get them back in shape. And I'm happy to report that my vice president is an avid surfer who attended school on a softball scholarship.


COATES: So, there's that. There's also this, too. The candidate saying he's not in it to win it. He's in it to watch the world burn?


KENNEDY, JR: Our campaign is a spoiler. I agree with that. It's a spoiler for President Biden and for President Trump.


COATES: Well, joining me now, Dennis Kucinich. He's a former Ohio congressman who is running again, this time as an independent. And he also managed RFK Jr.'s campaign until it exited in the fall after being ousted. Sir, thank you for staying up with us tonight. How are you doing?

DENNIS KUCINICH, RUNNING FOR CONGRESS AS INDEPENDENT: Doing great, thanks. And I just want to say that Mr. Kennedy's choice of Nicole Shanahan is something that is very interesting. And when he talked about her background as a surfer, that might help her if she gets elected because of all those sharks in D.C. that she's going to have to surf over.

COATES: Oh, my goodness. A shark in a swamp. That I've never seen. I like to think about those different analogies. But I want to start with what we just played. And you mentioned the choice that was made of Ms. Shanahan. You said it's an interesting one. Are you surprised? Was she someone that was contemplated during your time during the campaign? Was she a complete shock?

KUCINICH: Well, I think I could say -- no, I think I could say that at the stage that I left the campaign, there wasn't any real discussions about who might be his choice for vice president. But, and so, now I have my own campaign. But again, I don't know Nicole Shanahan. But from what I heard today and what I saw studying up on her, she seems to be someone who will inspire Americans to the possibilities of her service.

And so I think, you know, she's -- there's going to be a lot of attention paid to her. And I think that Mr. Kennedy deserves some credit for that kind of a choice. He showed some courage and perhaps some foresight. We'll see.

COATES: Well, we'll see in terms of how the public evaluates her as a prospective running mate, of course, now a running mate for Mr. Kennedy. But let me ask you, he was just saying that in this race, he is there to play spoiler. And I know that third party candidates can oftentimes be regarded as a spoiler. I don't often hear them describe themselves as spoilers. What's your reaction? KUCINICH: Well, you know, I think, you know, first of all, I'll be

very clear. I am not involved in this presidential contest now. I have my own race in Ohio's 7th District and half of the area, almost half the area I served for 16 years. And I have an actual chance to get elected to the House as an Independent.

Right now, there aren't any independents in the House. Republicans have about 50.5 percent of the seats, Democrats, 49.5. So, I can't --

COATES: That's why you're particularly well suited to answer a question about an independent candidate, right? The idea of somebody who is running not in the tradition of a Democrat or Republican.

KUCINICH: Well, I am but there is a difference between running for president where you've got to get 270 electoral votes and I just have to win one congressional district. I think that Mr. Kennedy, who is a friend of mine, has his work cut out for him and getting on all the ballots.

And again, you know, the fact that 43 percent of Americans identify as Independent will bear watching in this election to see if they how many hew towards that identification when they actually go to the ballot box.

Now, with respect to my race, which, you know, I am interested in talking about anyone who wants information, go to can go to Kucinich dot com. My math of my -- of my own candidacy, it depends on unity.


It's about addition, multiplication, not about subtraction and division. So, I think that, you know, there is one independent here who has already thought about the path to Congress. And I think that Mr. Kennedy's path to the White House is something that he has to figure out now.

COATES: When you're looking, of course, and one of the most coveted groups of voters that everyone's looking to are independent voters, those who might be affected or disenchanted by either Democrats or Republicans or don't see themselves represented in some of the chaos that takes place on a daily basis within the various parties.

So, certainly all eyes are turning towards that. But also there is this hurdle that both Trump and Biden and other candidates are going to be facing. And that is age. Now, you are, I believe, 77 years old and age has been a very big issue for the presidential candidates. Do you see this, how people described this as a somehow a hurdle for you in your quest to become a member of the House?

KUCINICH: Well, you know, first of all, I'm in great shape. I'm younger in every way than and then the President and either president, I'm younger. And, you know, I for myself, look, I have the enthusiasm. The energy of youth. And I'm ready to go back to Congress to represent the people of the 7th District this time as an Independent.

Age is an issue and it's a uniquely individual issue. Some people can be old when they're in their 40s. Others can be in their 80s and they can be young. The voters will make the determination as to who has the energy and the vision to take America out of the debt crisis we're in, out of -- away from the wars that seem to grip our -- our leaders' consciousness, to focus on rebuilding the U.S. economy, to address the border issues.

You have to have a lot of energy to do that. You have to have the vision. You know, the prophet Isaiah said, "Without vision, the people perish." And vision and energy, I think, help to combine to create leaders who can move America forward. And so, it's -- it's not about the chronological age. It's about the age of one's thinking. And if your thinking is fossilized, you create an immobilized country.

COATES: Really important to hear your perspective on this tonight and also with the -- at times seeming to be the mass exodus of many members of Congress. The fact that you would like to go in and be there again to promote your values on behalf of people of Ohio. Thank you for joining us today, Dennis Kucinich.

KUCINICH: Thank you. Thank you.

COATES: Up next, a member of Sean Diddy Combs' circle is in custody tonight as the music mogul is slamming the massive raids that were executed on his properties. We're going to talk about it next.



COATES: So, as this mystery is growing tonight over raids involving one of hip hop's biggest stars, Diddy's team is responding now for the first time. Lawyers for Sean Combs called the raids on his property a, quote, "gross overuse of military level force".

They went on to say that Diddy, quote, "was never detained, but cooperated with authorities" and proclaimed Diddy's innocence by insisting there is no criminal liabilty in any of the allegations. And new tonight, a member of Diddy's inner circle was arrested in Miami on drug charges.

Joining me now is criminal defense attorney Mark NeJame. He is a senior partner at NeJame Law. His clients include athletes, celebrities, as well. He joins me now. Mark, thanks for being here tonight. I mean, I have to ask you, what did you think about the first statement that you're seeing from Diddy's legal team?

MARK NEJAME, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You got to be careful when you make statements and you don't know all the facts. He made just a general denial. And it's pretty common for law enforcement to come in with a strong show of force, particularly when they want the element of surprise and they want to be able to get and grab everything before it can be destroyed.

So, it's really not uncommon. But, you know, with the money, you know, this individual is alleged to have and with all the attention going towards it that they acted, which is actually rather typical. COATES: You know, the prosecution, potentially, he has not been charged in any crime. But as a prosecutor, you know, obviously there is a great deal of information that is known for the investigators, whether there's a grand jury, whether there is a charge coming, what evidence they may have collected or otherwise.

Meanwhile, contrastingly, the defense is in a position to be reactive to what's happening. And so, they have to think about how to get ahead of it in the court of public opinion as well, particularly of a high profile client. So, what if Diddy were your client? What would be your strategy? And how would you be advising him at this juncture when you're right, you don't know a whole lot about what the investigation involves?

NEJAME: Well, your first concern is keeping your client out of prison. And in this particular case, for the allegations that we're hearing, and again, we don't know everything, he's looking at life in prison if he's in fact convicted of trafficking. The law has changed. There's no more statute of limitations as it relates to sex trafficking. And if you've got a victim that's between the ages of 14 and 18, the law has changed. So, now you're looking at true life in prison with no statute of limitations issued to stop that.


So, you've got to be very careful. You don't want to tip your hand and you want to be able to in the court of public opinion. But remember, the court of public opinion doesn't -- it doesn't find you guilty or not guilty on trial. Now, this is an individual who's got minor children. So, you've got to look at that, about state authorities coming in if these allegations have any real merit to them.

You have your financial fortune and your business interests that are all at risk. So, there's a lot of moving parts in this matter. The biggest one, though, is keeping your client out of prison because these are incredibly serious charges. And the timing of these are particularly important. We have the MeToo movement. We have a lot of high-profile celebrities. We've seen some of these misdeeds coming out. And now he's the target of many in these civil cases.

I'll tell you, if I was counsel in some of these civil cases, I would not have allowed them to go all the way to a lawsuit. You try to get those things resolved because there's no confidentiality provisions that are kept away from criminal prosecutors or criminal investigators. Whatever they might assign for a confidentiality clause or otherwise doesn't mean anything.

COATES: A very important point. Now, he has not been charged. As you know, the presumption of innocence still stands. But there are a lot of open questions. And thank you for your insight as to how you as a defense attorney would advise accordingly. Mark NeJame, thank you so much.

NEJAME: Thank you. Thank you.

COATES: Up next, more on the bridge collapse in Baltimore. Sadly, six people are now presumed dead. I'm going to talk to an eyewitness.