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Laura Coates Live

Trump Appeals Ruling Allowing D.A. Willis Stay On Georgia Election Case; Biden Strikes More Aggressive Tone At New York City Fundraiser; Court Says, South Carolina Can Use Congressional Map Deemed Unconstitutional; Democratic Congressional Candidate Michael B. Moore Weighs In On Voting Rights; Sean Diddy Combs' Empire On Fragile Ground; Laura Coates Talks About The Passing Of Hollywood Legend Louis Gossett, Jr. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired March 29, 2024 - 22:00   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And I found out what she was going through when I was 15, she was 41, she wanted a certain path for her life, I wanted a different path for my life. And it really, I think, was healing, being able to hear her perspective and some of the secrets that she was keeping at that time that I didn't know about.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Alisyn Camerota, I've always appreciated you. But reading this book, I mean, it just -- it's amazing. And it's so great. I think everyone should read it. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: I really appreciate that. Thanks for reading it.

COLLINS: The book is Combat Love. Everyone should read it. It is on sale now.

Thank you all so much for joining us. LAURA COATES LIVE starts right now.

LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR: Is a ruling in a Trump case ever, ever actually final? Well, we're going to talk about tonight on a special two-hour edition of LAURA COATES LIVE.

Good evening. I'm Laura Coates in Washington, D.C.

And what a week it has been. Tonight, in fact, there have been two major developments in two of Donald Trump's legal battles. And the delay, delay, delay strategy, it's now officially in overdrive.

Let me break it down for you, because, first, President Trump and his legal team in the Georgia election subversion case are making it official. They are appealing a judge's decision to let District Attorney Fani Willis, stay on that case.

The judge did say that if she stayed, her handpicked special prosecutor, Nathan Wade, would, of course, have to resign. That was because he had been accused, there had been reports of a romantic relationship between the two of them, and that they went on fancy vacations together and funded by that special prosecutor's salary. Now, as you know, Wade did, in fact, step down, but that apparently was not enough for Trump's legal team, because in their filing, they claim that D.A. Willis has, quote, covered herself and her office in scandal and disrepute, as she has squandered her credibility and repeatedly and flagrantly violated the heightened ethical standards demanded of her position, unquote.

Now, how long this could actually delay the trial and how long would that last, if at all, that seems to be unclear, as you and I are talking right now. The court does have up to 45 days to rule on this motion.

And Trump could also go beyond this appellate court and go even further to the state Supreme Court and maybe even above the state Supreme Court.

But Willis, for her part, seems wholly unbothered. She made it clear last weekend that there's no stop in this train.


FANI WILLIS, FULTON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I do think that there are efforts to slow down this train, but the train is coming.


COATES: And while Trump tries to discredit the prosecutor in the Georgia case, keep up now, he's doing the same to the judge in the New York hush money case.

His legal team revealed prosecutors with Alvin Bragg's office are trying to expand a gag order. That's coming after Trump attacked the judge and his daughter multiple times online.

Joining us now is E.J. Dionne. He is a columnist in Washington Post and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, also with a CNN Contributor and former Nixon White House Counsel, John Dean. Gentlemen, a pleasure to have both of you on this evening. What a day and what a week and what a really legal season this has all been.

Let me begin with you, John Dean, on this, because there have been some major legal threads tonight, as you well know. Fani Willis is still on the case, but there is an appeal. Would this affect the timeline, do you think, in the ability to bring this case to a trial before the election?

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Not necessarily, Laura. As you know, it really will mean whether or not the court of appeals first accepts the case. They have 45 days to do that. In the normal operating procedure in that Georgia appellate court, they do so in 30 days.

So, the question is, will they accept it? And if they accept it, will they stay the proceedings? Not necessarily. They could let this go on. So, there doesn't necessarily have to be a halt of the proceedings at the trial level. COATES: And, of course, so far, if they have 45 days, we don't yet know how long it will take to do this, but it could very well be resolved sooner than that.

E.J., let me ask you, because Fani Willis, as you have seen, has been a very popular target for the Trump legal team and his supporters since the very beginning. And the longer this drags on, the more she certainly is in their crosshairs, so to speak. Will this tactic more broadly be to delay? I mean, is she just the sort of pre-textual reason to get this case delayed?

E.J. DIONNE, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST AND SENIOR FELLOW, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: I think you told 90 percent of the story right at the beginning of the segment when you said, delay, delay, delay.


That is clearly the Trump strategy on every single one of these cases.

When Judge McAfee ruled here, he made clear that he wasn't wild about the behavior in this case, but the Georgia law is very clear and very strict about conflict of interest.

The defense really had to show that there was a conflict that actually affected this case, and he concluded, despite some words of criticism for Fani Willis, that there was -- and Mr. Wade, that there was no reason to declare a conflict of interest and that the trial should go forward.

And, obviously, Trump and the other defendants would love nothing better than to have her thrown off the case, because we would then have no idea what jurisdiction does it go in, would the whole process have to start over, and so there's a kind of double delay strategy here.

I think there's -- given that McAfee's decision was very carefully done, I think it's very possible the court will say, no, we're not going to take this, he was right, that's certainly one possibility here, but they could also take their time about deciding that.

COATES: Well, part of the point, we talk about the D word of delay, the other D word, though, E.J., is discredit, and that's an equal goal here.

DIONNE: Oh, yes, there's no question about that. And, obviously, to some degree, that's to try to affect the jury if the case ever does go to trial. But it's also about the election. I mean, Trump is trying to turn every trial, every 1 of these 91 counts against him, as an attack that he thinks will appeal to his political base.

I think the trouble here is that he's not in the Republican primaries anymore. He's more or less secured the nomination. And I think voters who aren't Republican, independents, and obviously especially Democrats, will be less sympathetic to this strategy, that being on trial is not a good thing for Trump. That's why it reverts to delay, because I think it really would hurt Trump in the election if he were convicted in any one of these cases.

COATES: Let's move to New York for a second, John Dean, because if the tactic is to attack the credibility and try to get D.A., the prosecutor, Fani Willis, out, the tactic in New York seems to be to get the judge to recuse himself or to take the bait, John Dean.

Is this going to be successful? Because, in many ways, we have seen this movie play out in a number of cases with Donald Trump.

COATES: Judge Merchan, in the New York case, is a very sophisticated, tough judge. He's had difficult defendants in his courtroom before. He knows how to deal with Donald Trump. First, he will not take the bait.

Secondly, I wouldn't be surprised since Trump doesn't seem to want to read the order in a way that a normal person would, that it's also not to affect the jury pool, that the judge, either in the courtroom makes it clear or calls the attorneys in and says, listen, you're responsible for your client. Bring him in and stop polluting the jury pool before he actually issue a new order to see if that works. If that doesn't work, he might issue a new order.

Can they appeal it? Not likely. He wouldn't let them.

COATES: Well, in many respects, this is supposed to be the leader of the Republican Party. The Republicans pride themselves on being the party of law and order. But this is an attack on the judiciary. Obviously, it's his daughter.

But what impact does it have that somebody hoping to be the head of the executive branch of the government, once again, is going after the judicial branch, John?

DEAN: Well, there's no low that Donald Trump seems unwilling to go to. And this is the latest, is his effort to bring down the whole judicial branch, if you will.

This is not new, though, Laura, as we know. I was stunned back when he was first campaigning and he attacked a judge who had the Trump University case. And he just laid into him. He said -- claimed he was a Hispanic when he was born in Indiana and then just railed against him, ended up paying $25 million to settle the case after he, surprisingly, found himself elected. But there is just no bounds that seem to restrain this man in his ability to attack the judges. And he has spent an awful lot of time in court.

I just don't think this plays with the general electorate. And his best base might like it.


Nobody else does.

COATES: Well, that's an interesting part here, isn't it, E.J.? Because, normally, you would try to expand your base from the primary to the general, and you'd want to envelop more and more people into the fold who would see you as a viable candidate and would not have a visceral reaction to the things you're saying. That is no longer the M.O. of this presumptive nominee.

DIONNE: No, and I think that's absolutely right. I think it is one of the odd things about Trump is that he seems always to be campaigning to his base. He has not reached out to Nikki Haley or her supporters. He's spoken contemptuously of them.

And one product to that is a new Biden ad where he quotes Trump. It shows Trump basically speaking with contempt for Haley and her supporters and saying, come on with us and save the country.

And so, yes, I think that, you know, will he make a pivot? It seems very hard to see him do this pivot. And John Dean is right. This is his M.O.

And going after a judge's daughter is such an outrageous thing to do, but he is happy to stoop to it. And his strategy is attack, attack, attack, and hope something sticks. I just don't think it'll stick with this with Judge Merchan in New York.

COATES: I almost wonder if the judge is intentionally not wanting to expand the scope to avoid the perception that will be used as ammunition against him, that he suddenly is biased and it's about himself, and he's trying to suggest that he's unbothered.

But at the end of the day, I mean, the fact that there are attacks on judges, that they are going in this direction as a lawyer is just stunning to me.

Gentlemen, thank you so much for joining me today, E.J. Dionne and John Dean.

DIONNE: Good to be with you.

COATES: Next, just call it 2020 2.0. The matchup is the same, but Biden, he's debuting a whole new tone, as we saw last night. My panel is going to discuss it.

And South Carolina will head to the polls in June with a map that judges have already called unconstitutional. I'll talk with one of the candidates running there about that decision.

Plus, a very somber anniversary, I'll talk to an expert about Putin detaining American journalist Evan Gershkovich.

You're watching a special two-hour edition of LAURA COATES LIVE.



COATES: All right. So, the gloves are off, but the Aviators, they're on. President Biden shifting his tone last night in his campaign fundraiser last night, of course, while sitting alongside President Obama, President Clinton, this time going directly after his opponent, even though he didn't actually mention him by name.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I think our democracy is at stake. Not a joke. I think democracy is literally at stake.

We're at a real inflection point in history. Things are changing. All the things he's doing are so old.

Speaking of old, and, you know, a little old and out of shape, anyway.


COATES: I see what he did there, didn't you?

Let's bring in CNN Political Commentators Ashley Allison and Shermichael Singleton. Glad to have both of you here.

Okay, first of all, he's not saying his name, but everyone knows the elephant in the room is Donald Trump. I wonder, though, about this strategy now, and you're thinking about to do, not by name, but going right at him, successful or not?

ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Oh, the name is coming. Like, let's be clear, we're in the earlier phases of the general election. It has just started. I think, you know, with the two other former presidents flanking him, it was talking more in the abstract about the threat to democracy, what he poses, but we will be calling -- the Biden campaign is going to be calling Donald Trump out by name. Democrats are going to be calling Donald Trump out by name.

I think last night, it was about Joe Biden and it was about the unity of the Democratic Party having all former Democratic president sitting behind him or next to him in contrast to Donald Trump's own vice president not supporting him and cabinet members.

So, I thought it was a good, good event. I wasn't there. But from the clips that I've seen, funny, talked about the issues in an important way and raised a lot of money.

COATES: I mean, a lot of money, almost record-making number, I understand, as well. But there also -- the campaign interests me. There was this new ad that just dropped, trying to appeal to Nikki Haley voters. Well, listen to this for a second. Watch it.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Nikki Haley has made an unholy alliance with RINOs, never Trumpers, Americans for no prosperity. She's sitting there like --

She's gone crazy. She's a very angry person.

She is not presidential timber.

I don't need the votes. We have all the votes we need.

She's gone haywire. There aren't that many never Trumpers anymore.

REPORTER: How do you bring these Nikki Haley voters back into the tent?

TRUMP: I'm not sure we need too many.


COATES: So, interesting about that, they didn't actually say as part of the Biden-Harris ticket what they are going to do for the Nikki Haley voters. Just basically, he didn't like you.

SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. And, I mean, I'm not convinced that that's enough. I mean, look, in the donor class, we had a lot of conversations about many of the mega donors who supported Haley or someone else. And many of them said, oh, we're not going to back Donald Trump. And suddenly, in the next week or two, they're looking to raise $33 million to usurp what Biden's $26 million from the other day, they're coming home.


I think a good percent of those, quote/unquote, never Trumpers or quasi anti-Trumpers will ultimately vote for him. I do think, however, you're going to see at least 10 percent who will not vote for him no matter what.

But the question for the Biden re-elect campaign is it's not enough to just say Trump doesn't want you. What am I going to do to sort of appease some of your least centrist right-leaning focus or things that you're interested about, the economy, immigration, foreign policy which is a big thing for many, many Republicans? I'm not convinced that the president has really addressed some of those issues.

COATES: Interestingly enough, there was this great piece that Julian Zelizer (ph) wrote on, talking about the strategy really seems to be in harkening back to the Atwater (ph) days, saying, I don't have to actually get you to like me. I need you to hate my opponent more than you dislike me. Is that what's happening here?

ALLISON: Well, throughout the entire primary, we kept saying the ads will write itself. And this is Exhibit A, Donald Trump went out there like he does for every person who doesn't fall on their knee and kiss the ring and attack Nikki Haley. So, now, there's not even Joe Biden's voice in that ad. It's all Donald Trump's voice just saying -- demeaning the voters that supported her.

I do think, though, SherMichael, to your point, is that Joe Biden has talked about issues that Nikki Haley voters will care about, whether it's Ukraine, whether it's what he did try to do on the border, most recently with the bipartisan bill that fell apart because of Donald Trump. So, I think you will see them begin to talk more to Nikki Haley voters.

We did this in 2020 when we got the endorsement of Cindy McCain, Republicans for Biden. I think you will see another effort like that, but he can't court Nikki Haley voters in an effort to set -- like put his base in the people who really elect him. And I think it's a fine dance that they will figure out how to do.

COATES: Yes. And on this point, I want you to address this, Shermichael, because Jonathan Martin from Politico has this really interesting piece out, and he says that he reached out to every current Republican lawmaker who refused to commit to Trump in the general election.

He says Senator Susan Collins, Mitt Romney, Todd Young, Bill Cassidy, and Lisa Murkowski all said the same, they have not heard from Biden. They -- I wonder if that's the mistake that Biden might be making. Is that a bridge he needs to build?

SINGLETON: I think he should, but I would caution somewhat my Democratic friends in terms of doing that. You don't want to isolate or turn off some skeptical progressives who are absolutely more than likely going to vote for Joe Biden, more so than some of those moderate-leaning Republicans.

This election is ultimately going to come down, the turnout, turnout, turnout. Mathematically, nationally speaking, Democrats have the numbers. The question for them is, can they get all of those numbers actually turn out similar to 2020? That I think will ultimately determine who wins this November, not reaching out to some of those Republicans.

COATES: Is that why Obama was so crucial to have by your side yesterday? Because he is widely popular and voter turnout was high when he was in office?

ALLISON: It was high. It was actually, though, higher for Joe Biden. The reality is, is this is -- to my former boss, President Obama's point, this is an all-hands-on-deck moment. And it is that because of the risk that Donald Trump plays.

And so if you were a Clinton era voter and you like the way he did, his politics, or an Obama voter, and you voted for the first time because of the history he made, or you are a Biden voter, what last night showed was that the coalition is starting to form.

I do think, though, that the Biden campaign will reach out to some of these senators. I don't think it's the time to do that right now. We just got into the general election. Trump hasn't even selected his vice president, and I think that is going to play into some, where some of these folks. So, strategically, I don't think it's a bad thing that they haven't heard from him.

Also, a lot of those lawmakers, the Biden administration, was working with them to get a policy actually passed. It kind of fell flat.

So, they're doing some governing right now. But by the summer, I bet you they'll reach out to him.

COATES: I mean, they're doing some governing right now? Okay, wishful thinking. Okay, I mean, you said it, okay, that's fine. All right, there you go.

I'm glad you mentioned the vice presidential pick, though, because one person whose name is often floated, Shermichael is Congressman Byron Donalds, and out of Florida.

CNN's K-File is at it again, because they have found something. They've unearthed some examples of Donalds directly criticizing Donald Trump in past social media posts, like this one from back in 2011.

Trump is a huge distraction, he says, and cares more about himself than the country, in my opinion, but I could care less about him.

Now, CNN reached out to his office, and they said, quote, the fact that these decade-old posts are now resurfacing in the middle of running mate deliberations is weak but typical of CNN. Okay, but they did reemerge.


SINGLETON: Yes. I mean, look, there are a lot of people who criticized the former president and went on to work for him. There are a lot of people who criticized him and still voted for him, still supported him, still endorsed him.

I mean, I think Byron Donalds is an interesting candidate. I mean, he's from Brooklyn, son of immigrants, his parents immigrated from Jamaica, a smart guy, family guy. I do think that, after talking to a couple of folks who are close to him today, that this is someone who probably would attempt to add some advantage in terms of that immigrant story, but also men of color, which we've seen generally speaking and not just black men, but I'm talking about a broad spectrum of men of color sort of teetering more to the right.

And so it would be intriguing to see what someone like Byron Donalds could potentially add to a Trump campaign.

COATES: I don't want to just pick on that particular instance. You do have other potential V.P. picks, like Senator J.D. Vance, who has said that he was a moral disaster back in 2017. Congresswoman Elise Stefanik said, I think we should expect more substance out of our candidates, that was 2015. Senator Marco Rubio, his statement there as well, calling him an embarrassment. It's a lot of 180s that have been done, and I know that there's a huge carrot to be a vice president.

But how are the Democrats decide to use that? Is it the idea of characterizing them as flip-floppers, and is that enough?

ALLISON: Remember how I started this segment? The ads write themselves. Well, I think the ads will write themselves with this.

Regardless of who he picks, there will be people who have aggressively criticized Donald Trump for the rhetoric, for his policies. And then when they get opportunity for power, they flip.

And so the question is -- and they flip after January 6th, after 91 indictments. So, what is your moral compass? What is your judgment based on? And I think it's an opportunity for Democrats to hit if any of those folks are --

SINGLETON: But I would say quickly, I mean, the vice president aggressively went after then-Candidate Biden on the debate stage and she still ultimately endorsed him, became his vice presidential candidate, so, already made (ph).

So this isn't something that is a unique phenomenon in politics, generally speaking. You see people during very contested, heated moments criticizing the individual and when they become the nominee, they ultimately go on to support them.

ALLISON: The vice president at that time and -- Senator Kamala Harris at that time and Vice President Joe Biden at that time were opponents. These individuals were not Donald Trump's opponents. They were members of the Republican Party that seemed to have a moral compass that now has switched because they want power.

COATES: Well, Rubio was appointed at one time, but point taken. Ashley Allison, Michael Singleton, thank you both so much.

Also tonight, voters, remember them? Well, they're in South Carolina and they're looking at a new district map, a map that courts have already called unconstitutional.

Now, this was the map before redistricting in 2022, six Republican districts and one Democratic district. And now this is the map that was challenged after it was drawn in 2022, the same number of districts, but a few changes near Charleston that make one district less competitive than it was before.

Civil rights groups sued. They argued the map was drawn to intentionally move thousands of black voters into a different district for political reasons and dilute their voting strength. A three-judge panel frankly agreed.

South Carolina appealed that to the Supreme Court, which heard arguments back in October, but the justices have told June and they might use all their time because they have not announced their decision just yet.

So, now, that same three-judge panel that said the map was unconstitutional says the map may have to be used, they say, because time is running out, the ideal must bend to the practical.

Joining me now is Michael B. Moore, a Democratic candidate for the House from South Carolina. Now, he is running in House District 1, one of the changed districts. Michael, thank you so much for joining me this evening. How are you?

MICHAEL B. MOORE (D), U.S. CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE, SOUTH CAROLINA: I'm doing great, thanks, I appreciate the invitation.

COATES: You know, we looked at those maps, the distinction between two of them, and it does make the case as to why delay can be on your side if you are hoping to have a particular result. The key district that you're looking at is the one that you are running in, of course. And I wonder how concerned you are that this map is being allowed to go forward, even while the Supreme Court is deciding on this very issue.

MOORE: Well, you know, I engage with this issue from a number of different vantage points. I mean, from the standpoint of our campaign, we are out campaigning and connecting with voters and really generating enormous traction with folks.

We made the decision to jump into the race based upon how the lines are drawn right now. We certainly weren't looking to the Supreme Court or to the General Assembly in South Carolina to do us any favors. And we've got a winning plan. And so from a campaign standpoint, what has happened is less material, really.

But, you know, from a from a deeper and perhaps a historical standpoint, you know, there are really some -- you know, it just makes me feel disappointed deeply.


You know, I am the descendant of three generations of people who risked their lives and who worked tirelessly to extend voting rights to all South Carolinians, but particularly to African Americans dating back to 1868. And so from that standpoint, I'm really disappointed in what the courts are doing.

From the standpoint of someone who lives in the district and wants to -- is endeavoring to represent people in his community, there are people, you know, five, six, seven miles away from me who I engage with on a daily basis who are now carved out of my district. And that seems to be counter to the philosophy of how districts are supposed to be drawn.

And then lastly, I would just say, you know, I happen to be running for the same seat in the United States House of Representatives that my great, great grandfather, Robert Small, served in during Reconstruction. And he was gerrymandered out of a district 150 years ago or so.

And of course, South Carolina is light years away from where it was during Reconstruction, but here is the same pernicious tool being used to exact unearned political advantage at any and all cost. And it's disappointing. You know, I think South Carolinians are better than that.

COATES: You know, that is so fascinating to think about the way that this historical moment is repeating itself 150 years later and the same tactic of dilution and gerrymandering being questioned and raised.

For that very reason, though, I wonder what the people of your jurisdiction and community feel about it. Is it something that makes people animated and motivated to turn out to vote or to throw up their hands? MOORE: No, I think we are finding that people are really motivated

and excited and energized. You know, our campaign is about bringing real common sense solutions and bringing representation that is committed to the district and that, you know, wants to be here. I will say that Nancy Mace, the current incumbent, you know, people don't have a sense that she ever really cared about the first congressional district. She's off grandstanding and, you know, trying to get on Fox News every other night and the like.

And there are people who I talk to every day who have needs, who need government to work for them, who need someone in Washington to have their back. And our candidacy, I think, speaks to those issues. And like I said, people are resonating with it deeply.

COATES: You know, really quick, I want to ask this question, too. And by the way, we did reach out to Congressman Nancy Mace to come on. She wasn't able to join us, but she's welcome, of course, any time to address this point and others. There's a deadline for overseas absentee ballots. And it's -- I think it's April 27th.

The state will need to print ballots, obviously, ahead of that deadline. And if there's not a Supreme Court decision coming, there's going to be perhaps some uncertainty of who's in which district. What should people do?

MOORE: Well, the district is as it was during the last election. But I think that the disappointing -- the further sort of disappointing fact is that the Supreme Court is dragging their feet on this. You know, I gave a speech on the steps of the Supreme Court on October 11th, which was the day that oral arguments for this case began. They know what they have decided.

They know they've gone through all the deliberations they need to go through. They're playing politics to try to put their hand on the scale in this race. And -- but I will tell you that that, again, the people who I talk to who are energized, who are really focused on creating some real change in the first congressional district, they are activated in ways that we haven't seen in a long time. And you know, I don't think they're going to let someone in Washington decide the lines or decide their representation in the House.

COATES: Really important point, Michael B. Moore, as we all await the Supreme Court to take their next steps with respect to voting rights in this country. Thank you so much.

MOORE: Thank you.

COATES: Up next, an American journalist is marking a year behind bars in Russian custody, and he's not the only reporter being detained. What's behind Putin's motive? We'll talk about it next.



(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COATES: Eight thousand seven hundred and sixty hours. That is the amount of time "Wall Street Journal" Reporter Evan Gershkovich has been imprisoned in Russia. That's one full year. President Biden pledging today that, quote, "He won't give up on trying to free Evan." Evan is the first journalist since the Cold War charged with espionage in Russia. Those are charges the U.S. government and his employer vehemently deny.

Earlier today, I joined colleagues from multiple news outlets. We set aside our professional competitions, ideological differences perhaps, uniting around a single thing. We read the work that Evan wrote before he was detained. It's reporting that he should be doing now instead of being locked up.

You know, media outlets weren't the only ones to come together. In a rare congressional joint statement, leaders at both sides of the aisle said, quote, "Journalism is not a crime. Reporters are not bargaining chips."


Joining me now is Doug London, a retired senior CIA operations officer and author of "The Recruit". Doug, what strikes me initially is you look at the cover of "The Wall Street Journal" today, I mean, look at this. It's where his reporting actually should be. It's where it should be. It says, "His story should be here. A year of stolen stories, stolen joys, stolen memories. The crime? Journalism."

I wonder, when you look at this and the amount of time that he's been detained, what is the motivation of Putin, do you think? Is it the fact that this is a journalist and he has a critique of free press? Or is it because this is a foreign citizen?

DOUGLAS LONDON, RETIRED SENIOR CIA OPERATIONS OFFICER: I think we have to be careful in trying to apply American logic to how Putin acts and what motivates him.

He does it essentially because he can, and there's no consequences. There's no cost to him. Which supports his brand of being strong, of being able to act with impunity, and particularly being able to stand up to the United States and, in fact, spit in its eye, and the Americans can't do anything about it, even protecting their own people. So, think about the message that sends back home, as your suggestion, Laura.

COATES: What is that sending? Is that the idea that Putin is more powerful than the West, or that he is indifferent to the sanctions? Is there a nuance to it?

LONDON: It means there's no cavalry coming. There's no one to rescue you. If you're going to defy Putin, you're going to do it on your own. If the United States, the so-called greatest power in the world, can do nothing to protect their own people, how are they going to protect you if you speak out? Think of the message as well to journalists, to your colleagues, but also to those who might be speaking to journalists in Russia. It's powerful. It gets the point across. COATES: I mean, six Russian journalists were detained this week

alone. Many of them were reporting on Navalny's funeral. Obviously, Navalny has now died in a penal colony. He is obviously trying to send a message internally, as well. But the very fact that it's covered, does that show some sort of a shift in terms of the facade cracking?

LONDON: I think his massive information machine does a good job to support his brand, to be able to take these events and make him look stronger, smarter than his opponents and his opposition. So, there's no way to shame someone like him. Certainly not externally, let alone within his own country. So, I think he welcomes the coverage. I think he welcomes the cast of him as the brilliant villain.

COATES: You know, you said that he can. Is there any aspect of this that gives him leverage?

LONDON: You know, he's been talking, or at least the Russians have been speaking, we've seen in the press about trying to get Vadim Kraskov back out of Germany. Now, he's a former FSB officer. He assassinated in broad daylight in 2019 a Georgian Chechen dissident. And he's been the name that keeps coming up.

But it's sort of an impossible ask. One, he's not held by the Americans, and the German judicial system works quite differently than ours. But that allows him then to message to his people that serve him that if you do my bidding, I'll take care of you. I'll never forget you.

COATES: The U.S. Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens was speaking with my colleague Brianna Keillor and asking about updates on negotiations. Listen to what he had to say.


ROGER CARSTENS, U.S. SPECIAL ENVOY FOR HOSTAGE AFFAIRS: Your viewers would be stunned at the amount of time, energy, and creativity that goes into crafting these deals. At the same time, the more we talk about it, the less chance we have of pulling it off. Sometimes it's better to be sensitive and keep some of these deals classified, covert, private, so that we can execute them, as opposed to negotiating in public.


COATES: Why is that the preferred method? I don't necessarily know that it is. I think the quiet part is what serves Putin, so that he can maybe show more flexibility than he once exposed. That might undermine his brand as being able to stand up to the United States. But I think the United States government consistently tries to see, well, we have to worry about triggering Putin.

We have to worry about making him feel weak or desperate. But he seems to act the most defiantly when he's the most comfortable and confident. So, I don't necessarily know that holding back and worrying about giving him face-saving opportunities for exits and deals is necessarily in our best interest or in Evan's best interest right now. COATES: What a catch-22. And again, this has now been a full year.

Everyone, his story should be here, because we know that journalism is not a crime. Doug London, thank you so much.

Up next, multiple raids on his properties, allegations of sexual misconduct. Music and culture mogul Sean Diddy Combs is in the harsh glare of a spotlight that was once much more flattering. Is hip-hop's Me Too movement here? We'll talk about it next.




COATES: Sean Diddy Combs' empire is on fragile ground. Feds raiding two of his homes just this week in connection with a sex trafficking investigation. This comes in light of the hip-hop mogul facing a growing number of accusations of sexual assault. A New "Washington Post" piece notes this marks a stark contrast from the image Diddy has portrayed over the years.

Senior critic at large, Robin Givhan, writing, quote, "While others might have emphasized their tough-guy bona fides, their experiences in prison or the dangers of their childhood, Combs painted a picture of a kind of hero. He put a Gatsby-esque sheen on whatever he touched. And he had his hands on everything." Robin, Givhan joins me now. Robin, I'm so glad that you're here. Thank you for joining. And your piece, as always, excellent and so thought-provoking.


As you note, he has been involved in a number of ventures. But in light of what is happening, there was all the white parties, there's a charter school, there's Ciroc, just to name a few, Sean John. Tell me about the cultural impact that he has made.

ROBIN GIVHAN, SENIOR CRITIC-AT-LARGE, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, I think when you look back on his career, he was at the very forefront of that sort of generation of hip-hop performers and producers who really aspired to be something beyond that. They wanted to be moguls. They wanted to build empires. And he really started that.

And, you know, when he started Sean John, it was 1998. And, you know, he was, first of all, one of the first celebrities who entered the fashion arena. But he did it in a way that was very much about becoming part of that industry. He courted editors. He started going to fashion shows. He did it in a way that suggested that he wanted to do it for the long haul, that it wasn't just dabbling. And he just kept building on that.

And I think in many ways, he wanted to create this picture of himself as a kind of, you know, Gilded Age titan. And not that hip-hop was bootlegging, but I think there was a lot of that sense of wanting to polish up the image of the culture that he was coming out of. And that's what he did. COATES: Is that all on shaky ground now in light of all these allegations? I mean, you look at how quickly we begin to evaluate one's legacy in light of allegations, in spite of the presumptions, in a sense, that certainly are there and there has been no charges.

GIVHAN: Yeah. I mean, he's denied all the accusations. There haven't been any charges. But already we're starting to see that some of the companies and organizations that were affiliated with him have started to back away. And you know, unfortunately, you know, the idea of guilty until proven innocent, when you've lived so much of your professional life in the public, you tend to be quite quickly judged by that public.

COATES: You know, when you look at some of the accusations, I think there is a collective immediate recollection of the MeToo movement in the broader Hollywood context. I wonder how you look at these charges in light of the MeToo movement. Is this something similar on the horizon here more broadly?

GIVHAN: Well, I mean, I think there's definitely, you know, they're definitely related because some of these charges came out because of the extension of the statute of limitations. But I also think that it just really sort of calls, makes me wonder if on the road to building these empires, if there is just always some sort of trail of, you know, alleged devastation and disillusionment and pain.

I mean, you know, he wanted to build this enormous multimillion dollar empire, and he certainly did, and then started getting into philanthropy. And I think it raises perhaps some cynical questions about, you know, where is that philanthropy coming from? Is it coming out of guilt or is it coming from, you know, a different place? I think not that, you know, I'm putting those things on, you know, Sean Combs, but I think this raises those questions because we see this so often.

COATES: We are really in the infancy of the investigation, and those questions are yet to be answered. And I suspect there'll be hundreds more by the time we learn even the next step. I do want to turn to the loss of a Hollywood legend, though. In Louis Gossett, Jr., he was the Oscar winner, most notably known for films like "Officer and a Gentleman", of course, also "Roots". And here's a small clip from "Officer and a Gentleman" that he was so powerful in.


UNKNOWN: Now tell me what I want to hear. I want your D.O.R.


UNKNOWN: I want your D.O.R.

UNKNOWN: I ain't going to quit.

UNKNOWN: Spell it. D-O-R.

UNKNOWN: I ain't going to quit. UNKNOWN: Yeah, then you can be free and you and your daddy can get

drunk and go hog chasing again, huh?



UNKNOWN: I ain't going to quit.

UNKNOWN: All right, then you can forget it. You're out.

UNKNOWN: Don't you do it. Don't.

UNKNOWN: You're out.

UNKNOWN: I got nowhere else to go. I got nowhere else to go.


COATES: You know, what a powerful performance and there's so many iconic scenes that he has been a part of.

GIVHAN: I'm ready to cry.

COATES: I mean, I remember that. I remember that scene. I also remember the part when Deborah Winger is carried at the very end by Richard Gere, but I'm a movie person in general. And of course, he was somebody who on his way to Hollywood, he had the experience, frankly, of so many people of his era and continue today in terms of the racial profiling that he has experienced and beyond.


Talk to us a little bit about the challenges he faced on his journey as you reflect on his legacy.

GIVHAN: Yeah. You know, I mean, this is someone who worked with people like, you know, Sidney Poitier. And you know, Lewis Gossett told this story about arriving in Hollywood after having these successes on the stage and having established a pretty successful career and really not just being profiled, but being arrested and handcuffed to a tree because, you know, he fit the description of someone in the area that they were looking for.

And you know, after winning an Oscar for "Officer and a Gentleman", he talked about how he thought that these wonderful roles would start to come to him and they didn't. But, you know, he broke such ground and was just such an extraordinary actor.

COATES: He really was. And I'm going to have a chance to speak with Levar Burton in the next hour as well. I would love to reflect with him on this powerful figure and a legend who we have lost today. Robin, thank you.

GIVHAN: Thank you. COATES: Up next, a new turn in Trump's war against the judge in the New York hush money case. Could Trump face now an expanded gag order as he keeps slamming the judge's daughter on social media? I'll discuss.